poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘home

my place, my niche

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All of us, as we self-isolate and stay at home, have become more familiar with our own place or space. We also have become familiar with our ‘niche.’ It is also a sort of space, but is more about how we use that space.


My space, on the macro-scale, is in the Northern Hemisphere and the temperate zone. I love the four seasons: perhaps summer, with it’s high humidity, least of the four. I live in a rural area; the bird chorus I hear each morning is associated with mixed hardwood and softwood. For more information on our ‘grey woods’ click here.


Our house seemed big when we built it 40 years ago. Today it is considered modest with two floors, three bedrooms and a loft. As I grow older, arthritis means I hang out mostly on the main floor. But upstairs, the loft stores my genealogy interests and the library holds all my books. On the main floor is my computer, my bird watching corner, my sewing basket and my drawing and painting supplies. Often, my husband is there too. So you see, I have most of what it takes to make me happy.


My space is more and more often in cyberspace. These days my family and friends are mostly there, on Facebook and Messenger. Just today I had my first meeting on Zoom.


I spend about half of my day on the computer, in one phase or other of one of my writing projects. Last week our wifi went down for four days. Usually, I refer to the on-line dictionary or thesaurus about once every fifteen minutes. With the wifi down, I wondered for a moment what to do and then thought, “Thesaurus. Dictionary.” A little dusty but serviceable.


So what is not part of my niche?

Music. I have a piano which I can play. And a guitar. And I have a stack of discs and a way to play them. I also have a small selection of my favourite music in my iPad. I tell myself it would be good to include more music in my life, in my ‘niche.’ So far it is only a thought.

Exercise. I will start by saying I do about 30 minutes of yoga-like stretches every morning. Otherwise I would not be able to get out of bed. If you follow my blog you know I am also dedicated to my stationary cycle but, since the first of the year, it aggravates my knees and I have not been doing this with any regularity. I have plans to reincorporate exercise into my niche, but so far, it is also a thought.



Of course, the world is full of possibilities and I have many gaps in my space/niche. I have interests in coins, stamps, games, puzzles, calligraphy and so on. I have no interest in flying kites, cooking, speaking another language or clock-making. But perhaps, someday, one of these may insinuate itself into my niche. So much to include, so little time!


So, what is in your space? Your niche? What is not in your space/niche?


All my best,

staying at home, wearing my mask in public,


Written by jane tims

May 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

have grape vines, will not prune

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I have planted grape vines in quite a few places on our properties over the years.


At our cabin, one vine survives, climbing an inch or two each year on an arbor we built. The cabin lot was supposed to be great for growing grapes — a sunny slope, the temperature-modifying lake and breezes to discourage insects.


However, the vines have not been thriving. This year for the first time, I have a scrawny bunch of grapes.




The vines at home in our garden do thrive, although the light is scarce. Each year I have a few small bunches of grapes.



my grapes, wandering about in the birch tree


The vine at the back of the house is amazing. Without pruning, it has climbed high into the maple and fir trees. But an unpruned apple tree keeps the light low. Pruning, that must be the key!







Grape vines climb

high into maple.

Feign kudzu.

Burden the balsam,

bend branches.


Grape leaves flare,

arrange themselves, nip

every ray.

Mosses and bracken

starved for light.


But apple

demands its revenge.

Sends shadows

to starve chlorophyll.

Bullies grape.


Teases leaves

with flecks of half-light.

Grapevine sets

no fruit this season.


Not a single grape.



All my best!






Written by jane tims

September 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

escapes: Virginia creeper

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Virginia creeper, also call woodbine, thicket creeper and, in French vinge vierge, is a climbing vine with adhesive discs. Its leaves are palmately five-fingered and turn bright red in autumn. The plant has small purple fruit, poisonous to eat. The vine is common around abandoned homesteads where it persists or escapes to local woodlands.


Virginia Creeper Whites Mountain 2 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC).jpg


Virginia creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch.


In woods

on Whites Mountain


climbs the ash.

Persistent escape


from homesteads


Thicket creeper

navigates itself

to better ground,


higher trees.

Thick rhizomes,

adhesive discs.

Five-fingered leaves

spread to cover


every inch of bark.


exposure to sun.

Ancestral creepers

once draped


zig-zag cedar fences

in autumn scarlet.

Caught the attention

of farmers’ wives

on community rounds.


October 7, 2013 'Virginia Creeper' Jane Tims

~Virginia Creeper Whites Mountain

All my best,


Written by jane tims

August 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

writing life,

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This summer I have been taking a break from writing science fiction. I have my next science-fiction book Meniscus: Karst Topography ready to publish so I can take some time to think about other writing projects.




In 1997, I wrote a long mystery novel. I thought it would be interesting to read it through and see how much my writing style has changed. It has changed a lot, as you will see below. But the story was good and I had spent a decent amount of time on characters, story arcs, and point of view, so I decided to work on the draft.


The story is titled HHGG (big reveal later in the year) and was 162,500 words. Yikes.


This is my first draft of an eventual cover blurb …

Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. Meanwhile, she and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of old letters and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and who will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun?


jane1 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 utc)


the Grinning Tun (about 25 cm or 10 inches across)


My work on the book has been on several fronts. I have ‘tweeted’ daily about my process  since May 28, 2018 (@TimsJane):

  • Reduce the number of words. I lost a lot of words through editing and style changes. I took out the dream sequences, all the ‘ly’ adverbs, a lot of thinking and feeling, and a raft of ‘that’s. I went from 162,561 words on April 13, 2018 to 148,999 words today on July 15, 2018. It is still a little long but a good read (in my opinion).
  • I did a lot of thinking about whether to keep the setting in 1994 or modernize it to 2018. With some advice, I have decided to keep it in 1994. In fact, the story would not unfold as it does with cell phones and computers at hand. So my characters drive down to the community phone booth almost every day and look for clues in whirring reels of microfiche.
  • Leaving the action in 1994 provided an opportunity to explore the culture of the 1990s. Besides the missing cell phones and computers, people collected Canadian Tire Money, waitresses smoked in restaurants and POGs were a fad among kids. In the summer of 1994, the song ‘I Swear‘ held the Canadian single charts for three weeks and the American charts for seven weeks. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon was a thing. The slang interjection ‘like’ punctuated speaking (still does).
  • Part of the text is in Spanish so I asked my friend Roger Moore to help me proof-read the Spanish text.
  • I spent a lot of time with my Grinning Tun … I bought him on line in 2010. The more you look at it, the more it looks like a skull.
  • I spent a stupid amount of time designing a curlicue for announcing a change in sections. I am glad I did, because this new novel will include ‘Drop caps’ at the beginning of every chapter and said curlicue.




It will take me a few more weeks to proof the draft. To do this, I order a Proof from CreateSpace and do my edits as a way of passing the time effectively on my stationary cycle. Once I have the Proof, I’ll be able to concentrate on painting the cover for HHGG. This is the rough outlay for the cover, tacked together from various photos …


HHGG cover (2).jpg


Now you know everything about HHGG except its title!


All my best,


Written by jane tims

July 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

what would a home look like on a fictional planet?

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You may not be aware – I keep two blogs, one to consider subjects about real places and one to explore my ideas about science-fiction. If you are interested, click on over to This week’s post is about the homes the characters use in my planet Meniscus stories. You wouldn’t trade your home for any of these! Lots of illustrations too!


Best wishes!


Written by jane tims

June 2, 2018 at 7:14 pm

growing and gathering – a sense of place

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The theme of eating local foods has its essence in the idea of ‘place’.  The book ‘The 100 Mile Diet – A Year of Local Eating’ by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon (2007), introduced many to the idea of eating foods grown within a certain radius of home.  Eating local is also place-based in terms of the settings we associate with local foods – the woods, the blueberry field, the home garden, the local farm, the roadside stand, and, of course, the farmers market are all places associated with obtaining food from local sources.

‘Place’ is a complex topic.  Most of my poems about ‘growing and gathering’ include at least a little information about the ‘place’ where foods are found.  Some poems, however, are specifically about ‘place’, and I want to group these together in my manuscript.

The poems I will include under the theme of ‘place’ will be focused on habitat, landscape, local food traditions, and the people-based concept of ‘home’.


1.  the ‘place’ where plants grow

Plants, of course, depend on their habitat to live.  The ideal ‘place’ for a plant is determined by the availability of moisture, light and nutrients.  These factors are, in part, the result of climate, soil type, slope, exposure, and interactions with other plants and animals.  In my collection, I have poems about the habitat of seaside plants, the need for water in landscapes where water is scarce, and why woodland plants often bloom in the early spring, when light is most available.

2.  plants shape their surroundings and their landscape

Plants create habitat, modifying the regimes of moisture, light and nutrients in a local space.  Plants also help to create the broader landscape.  I have poems about how ripening apples change the space under an apple tree, how large and small-scale characteristics affect the value of a property, and how plants contribute to the way landscape appears.

3.  ‘place-based’ food traditions

As a result of the interaction between wild life and the landscape, people have access to different kinds of foods and develop area-specific wild food traditions.  In New Brunswick, fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris (L.) Todaro) are abundant in the spring, along the banks of rivers and wetlands, and many New Brunswickers consider a feed of cooked fiddleheads to be a rite of spring.  In Newfoundland, a relative of the blackberry, the Bakeapple (Rubus Chamaemorus L.), is common in the bogs and barrens.  Children often stand beside the road, their arms out-stretched, to sell their bottles of yellow Bakeapples packed in water.  I have poems about these two local foods as well as others about traditional local foods.

4.  ‘place’ as a metaphor for home

Plants and their ‘place’ can be a metaphor for the relationships between humans and the spaces where they are raised, or where they live.  ‘Place’ may imply ‘home’ and ideas of belonging or familiarity.  Several of my poems are about this aspect of ‘place’.

As I am working on the theme of ‘place’, a song by the 1990’s band Toad the Wet Sprocket is going around in my head:

‘…show me your home
Not the place where you live
But the place where you belong…’

Toad the Wet Sprocket, ‘Something to Say’, Fear, 1991

Exploring the theme of ‘place’ with you has helped me to organise my poems, to revise them, and to understand that I still have a few poems to write toward my manuscript.  I am so grateful for this blog and for all my readers!





a veil draped across bones of the earth

pointed tents supported by forest

settles in pockets, lichens and moss


beneath the cloth is texture, the way

I know life on the land, fast or slow,

near or far, through clear eyes or through tears


to know form follows function –  practice

repeated, detailed observation

see the sweep of a field of brambles

also the berries, also the thorns


Published as ‘landscape’ on September 3, 2011


©  Jane Tims  2012

the ideal property

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A few years ago, my younger brother lived in New Brunswick for a while and we were able to see him and my sister-in-law quite often.  We had some great times, camping one weekend on Grand Manan, watching Survivor together, seeing their terrific Christmas decorations, and just visiting.

One of the weekends I remember well was our drive to see their new property along the St. John River.  Although they eventually sold the property, it remains one of the best plots of land I have ever seen.  My poem will tell you why!



Land For Sale



two acres

one of cleared field

one of woods

silver maple, curly fern, rocky shore

transparent water and wobbling waves

an island over there

(conservation land)

(no buildings to intercept

the view)


plans manifest

the house here

the driveway    a garden    a gate

a path through the maples

to the shore and a dock

two good-natured chairs

turned toward one another

skating in January     bonfires in July

promising neighbours

reasonable price


and the clincher?

the deal maker?

the heart breaker?

a crooked bush

with five fat blueberries

ready to pick


1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.


©  Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

November 14, 2011 at 6:27 am

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