Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Back to Work and Butterflies

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

Winnie the Pooh

Today’s return to work was generally successful. I had enough energy to get through the day (though sitting down does not really require much energy), and my brains were sharp enough to cope with the modest demands placed on them. In other words, I looked round and realised just how bored I have become with the whole thing. I need more challenge and I think it is time to start writing the eBay posts with the use of alliteration and other verbal fireworks. If I start with that, I can always move on to blank verse later.

Painted Lady

My second post of yesterday, referred to six acceptances. I returned home tonight and found I have now progressed to seven. The latest has taken two haibun and a tanka. I submitted several haiku, and they have ignored them, but I have a forgiving nature and won’t bear a grudge. Three of the haiku had been edited for me by a well known haiku writer, so the quality should have been OK. It’s just a matter of personal taste I suppose. Life is strange.

Small Copper on castor oil plant

That’s about it. I could talk about TV but if you aren’t able to watch UK TV it will mean nothing. Even if you can, it won’t necessarily mean a lot. TV, at the moment, seems to be the worst it has ever been, though that may just be because I don’t want to watch some the fantastic new dramas they keep telling me they are producing. In terms of cast and writing you can’t actually beat dinnerladies anyway. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

Small Tortoiseshell



And then . . .

As soon as I posted the last section, I went to check my emails, I have just had an acceptance. That means I submitted 12 times in September and six have already had an  acceptance. One submission has resulted in three being short-listed so I am hoping for an acceptance there too. This not bad when you consider that it includes magazines I have regarded as tricky in the past.

I now have two sets of submissions out with proper poetry magazines. It’s a bit of a culture shift. The editors of Japanese style poetry journals are generally helpful, supportive and encouraging. Many of them are American, and despite my use of “Pollyanna” as an insult, positivity does seem to be an American trait. They are also quicker to give a decision (my most recent six all took less than a month) and publish three or four times a year (with one being monthly). They also accept submissions by email.

Contrast this with the five British based poetry magazines I have submitted to, will be submitting too, or nearly submitted to.

The editor of one is quite aggressive, to the point of telling would be authors he doesn’t give feedback because it isn’t his job. He just closed his submission window early too, so I can’t submit, even though I had planned to.

Peacock – our first butterfly of 2015 –  crocuses  are the giveaway. It was 10th March when I look it up.

One of the others is nearly as bad, though two, to be fair, are lovely people to deal with. Response time is typically two or three months. Submission is generally via something like Submittable, which I don’t really like, and one still insists on paper submissions. It’s a way of pre-editing, I suppose.

However, if you want to submit traditional European style  verse, this is how you have to do it. One day, there may be a change, but as most magazines are happy to tell you that they can only use a small percentage of the submissions they receive, it could be a long time until they need to worry about what the poets think of the service they are given.

Peacock at Mencap gardens

Having finished the email I checked WP – comments working.

So I wrote the post, got ti finished just before midnight, checked WP, found it was not showing comments again, and posted.

More Troubles, Plus a Poem

Logged into WP this morning – it wouldn’t let me in. I had to reset my password. Feeling annoyed and persecuted? Yes!

Read comments, replied. OK.

Came back at 8am – read a post, commented, clicked – all OK. Commented on a second post from same person – wouldn’t let me in.

Currently still locked out and still annoyed.

Cross? Yes.

Back to work tomorrow so half happy at recovery, half sad at loss of free time. However, if you cough and splutter and  sleep through much of it, it’s not all productive anyway.

Today, in terms of poetry, I have extracted six more Haibun/Tanka Prose that I had lost track of, which is good. Have read a book about writing poetry. Fell asleep. It’s a repeat reading of a book I originally marked as 3/5. Most of the examples used are from the poets own writing and are said to be prize-winning. I’m losing faith in poetry prizes.

This is a haibun I wrote a few years ago. It was a prize-winner. Well, it was commended and I got a certificate emailed to me.

Falling Into Place

years pass
children become strangers
—his new world

Jigsaws became an important part of our lives. First, as conversations became more difficult, we used them to pass the time. Later we used them to stimulate Dad’s thinking and slow the progress of the condition. Finally we used them to measure his decline. A man who once ran a company struggled with a jigsaw designed for a toddler. My sister bought new ones as they were needed, each with fewer pieces than the one preceding it.

He had been an active and successful man, and thousands of events had formed his life. Gradually they faded away. This frustrated him in the beginning but as he sank into the strange new world of dementia he came to accept it as a comforting place. I was happy to see him become contented. Then, one day, he asked me who I was.

the mirror cracks
a fractured smile

When we cleared his room my sister picked up the nine-piece jigsaws and suggested we donate them to the care home. She checked with me.

You don’t want them, do you?”

Not yet.” I said.

Back on WP I still can’t get into the comments. I’m going to have to get on to tech support. Normally I don’t have issues that last this long and it is getting very irritating. You could say it’s a first world problem and not as serious as starvation or infant mortality, which is fair. But I am paying a significant amount of money for my WP plan and they don’t always provide value.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. Or Wayne Manor in Dark Knight Rises. Read the link to see Gotham too.

Short Post

I’m still out of it, but am progressing. Julia returned to work this morning, was soaked in the rain and returned home wet and totally worn out. She is in bed at the moment and I will wake her in a minute when I start to cook tea. I am going to do fishfingers, potato wedges and mushy peas – it seems like a good time for comfort food. I will do her some tomatoes too – she has been enjoying grilled tomatoes from our garden crop. Then we will have apple and pear crumble.

Squirrel looting bird table at Rufford Abbey

I am, meanwhile, just about cured. I’ve had a lazy day and read a few blogs. I needed the word “evolution” tonight but couldn’t bring it to mind. That’s Covid for you. I used “Darwinism” instead and eventually remembered “evolution”. The first time this happened was about fifteen years ago when I first had cellulitis and couldn’t speak properly in the few days as I recovered. My vocabulary seemed to disappear and I ended up having to explain many of the words I wanted to use. It was extremely frightening.

Bin raiding squirrel at Clitheroe Castle.

When I woke this afternoon I found that the postman had called and left a parcel from my sister – two bars of Green & Black’s chocolate. It’s organic, so it must be good for me. She included a note, it seems it’s a get well soon gift and she expects us to share it. Julia is already well so I’m not sure she qualifies for medicinal chocolate. I will have to give it some thought.

Pictures are grey squirrels. Tootlepedal had some in his blog today and it reminded me I had some.

Grey Squirrel

The Story So Far

I’m not quite sure what to write about now. Covid is passing, I slept well last night and am feeling better today, though still have a streaming cold. Also still a little vague, having lost two pairs of glasses, a box of pills and all my spare handkerchiefs.

The main topic is that WP is still playing up after three days. I will answer comments then, sometimes (annoyingly not every time) an answer will refuse to load. At one point I lost all the replies from that session. It was about twenty minutes work – not a tragedy, but still a matter of great irritation. Experience shows that this heralds a new, and inaccurately named,  “improvement”.

I’m currently stuck again. Pressing the button to send a reply to Derrick resulted in a small circle going endlessly round and round. I reloaded, I switched off and started again, I pressed various random things and now it is still sitting there circling. That’s been about an hour now.

If there was a serious alternative I would use it, but as nothing seems quite as good there’s no point changing. Although I enjoy it, I sometimes wish I’d never started.

Meanwhile, I have now made 11 submissions this month. I may go on to do another and, even another, depending on how superstitious I am feeling. Alternatively, I may leave the 13th until next month – they are one of the few magazines that does not use a submission window system and it can then be number one of the new month. Next month, has very few places to submit to, so I will mainly be writing in preparation for December, which is another bumper month for submissions. I already have twelve noted. In comparison I have three noted for October and one for November. I must look harder.

I already have acceptances for this month, so something is going right. I’m hoping there will be a few more once the window closes.

Well, that’s it for now.  No change at WP – my replies still aren’t loading. Very irritating.


Covid – gradually improving

Well, I was wrong about one thing when I blogged yesterday – although I did eventually find myself awakening too early, my night was not crowded with bad dreams. I hate being ill and dreaming because there’s an inevitability about the horror and depression the fever dreams bring. Yes,  I want a good night’s sleep to recover, but I dread going to sleep because I will dream. Last night, this was not the case. Last night I didn’t sleep long enough to dream. I lost count of the number of times I woke but what with the coughing, the high temperatures, the blocked nose and the bladder, I didn’t actually dream. This is both good and bad. No dreams, but very little sleep.

Every time I woke I felt thirsty. Sometimes I drank, other times I didn’t, because drinking at night brings its own problems. During some of the wakeful periods, as I either added or subtracted bedding to adjust my temperature, I longed for a cup of tea or a hot lemon cold cure.

As I woke from yet another short sleep, Julia arrived, having got up before me, bearing two mugs – one of tea and one Lemsip. Obviously a wife who can read your thoughts is a mixed blessing, but in this case it was very welcome. I had my cold cure, dressed and had my tea. It wasn’t quite as quick as that, of course, because I was feeling sluggish. Since then, I am glad to report, I have been feeling gradually better.

We did our Covid tests tonight and were both still positive. This proves that the government guidelines are not foolproof, and that romance is not yet  dead.

I decided to go with bicycles as my theme for photographs.

More Covid

I assumed, in the early stages of Covid, that we had caught it at the same time and that Julia’s infection was worse than mine because I had had so many vaccinations.

Turns out I was wrong. Last night the main event started – temperature, shivering, thirst. loss of appetite, and a cough. Every time I cough I sound like a pair of Victorian bellows and feel like my bronchial tubes have been cleaned with a wire brush. I have done no work, no cooking and not much talking. Mainly I have coughed, spluttered, wheezed , slept and whined. One of the neighbours brought us a pot of tomato soup. The tomatoes were from their garden and were very good.

On Monday I will have to find out how this affects my Wednesday blood test – they may not want me in the surgery. It’s also going to delay my Covid booster, which is now due.

Now that the Covid has become more severe I am starting to worry that I will end up with another post-Covid slump. I do hope not, as I would hate another barren patch like the last one.

In the end, I got downstairs just before lunch, had a sandwich, watched two episodes of Murder She Wrote and a black and white Sherlock Holmes film – The House of Fear.

It’s not very sophisticated or complicated, but it was just what I needed this afternoon.

Then I went back to bed, woke up, ate the gift of soup, sat round watching rubbish on TV and decided to blog. I feel I’m not as sharp as I could be, but am a lot better than last time I had Covid.

I’m going to go and talk to Julia now then go to bed early. I expect I will have bad dreams and wake up far too early in the morning.

Orange Parker Pen

Covid, Filing and a Cough

As promised earlier, more dullness.

Time for dinner. We are planning something more substantial today, as appetites are coming back. I will probably still snooze all afternoon, because that’s what I would do even without Covid.

I’ve just finished sorting through dsh or Drifting Sands Haibun if you prefer a title that tells you something about the magazine. I’ve added seven more Haibun to my list, though it’s hard work. They do something  with the formatting of the haiku and I can’t work out what it is. I can’t cut and paste successfully, I can’t alter them manually after I’ve pasted, and I can’t even re-write them as there appears to be something in the gap that messes things up. It is like they explode when I move them. I will sort it in time – either with a flash of technical inspiration or by rewriting the whole thing. Even if I have to write them all manually, it isn’t a big job.

As a bit of light relief I ordered groceries for delivery. Next week is going to be focussed on vegetables and I have actually done a menu plan for the week. I say plan, possibly “guide” would be more accurate. I have a list of dishes in my head, I have the ingredients and I just need to sort it out into order.

Five minutes later . . .


Now I have some Tanka to sort as I go through my thoughts to find more subject matter.

Much later . . .

I have now traced 33 Tanka, 27 haiku/Senryu, 10 Tanka Prose and 14 Haibun. That’s 84 poems. I also know where my published western style poems are, so that’s an extra 21. Total – 105. I stopped counting after 100 so I’m not sure how many are left to find. Whatever it is, it’s a lot less than it was two days ago.

After a nearly two hours digging in archives, I have found another 7 Haibun and 3 Tanka prose. There were others, but I’ve already extracted them by way for looking at old submissions in my email boxes. That’s 115 and I suspect that I can still find at least ten more.

Having looked at my submissions record and thought about things, if I can find that 10 extras that’s probably about all I’ve written. It’s not an interesting pursuit, and it doesn’t make for a particulalrly interesting read, but it is my life.

Covid, filing and a cough. I think I just found my title.

Bean Soup with pumpkin seeds – my attempt at being healthy and sophisticated

Dull and Dullability

I’ve had two or three goes at starting this post and they have all petered out. I decided to take a break and pay an invoice, and found that I had several messages on my phone. I haven’t picked it up since ringing work on Wednesday. In that time I have been sent three messages – hardly the most thriving social life, but more than usual. One is a get well soon message, one is a picture of an Edward VIII post box and one is delivery details for my injector pens.

It seems, despite it not triggering the spellchecker, that dullability isn’t a word. Ah! It didn’t trigger the spellchecker in the title, but it has done in the text. I see it as a late Victorian to 1930s word. It should mean the ability to be dull, implying a certain amount of choice and style, calling some one dullable would be similar to calling them clubbable. Of course, they wouldn’t be as sociable as a clubbable person. It would have taken a knock in the Great War, as shellfire is generally considered to be the antithesis of dullness, and WW2 would have polished it off completely as aerial bombing followed by TV would have made dullability all but impossible. It would be such a useful word . . .

Covid, for instance, would allow it to flourish, as people work from home and no longer socialise with workmates. Or merely sit at home struggling to find 250 reasonably interesting words. I could release myself from the shackles of cheeriness and moan to my heart’s content if only it were possible for people to refer to me as a dullable sort of chap.

A two part photo hit – we have been eating soup, but dreaming of cake.

I may use that in a poem.

There will be more dullness later today.

Sticky Toffee Cake

Our Private Lockdown

At the moment, my eyes feel a little hot and tired, I occasionally cough and I have a sniffle. Last night I had an upset stomach and the suspicion of a temperature. In my mind I have the symptoms of a very mild cold. The main problem is that I am feeling very tired, and that isn’t really a notable problem as I often feel tired.

Nothing I have is unusual, and, if anything, I am feeling better than I did a couple of days ago. IT could be a cold or it could be “being under the weather” as we used to say. Nothing registered with me to tell me I was ill. Julia was much the same. Her symptoms are a little worse than mine, though she has had no stomach problems. She has had headaches for several days though. I was duly sympathetic, but didn’t really think much about COVID until last night.

After a day where I made her do nothing (which isn’t easy), relax (ditto) and keep warm, she showed no improvement.

That was when it clicked. COVID! So she did a test. Positive. Then she did another one to check, and it occurred to me after our last COVID infection, that I’d better test too. Both positive. As I say, I don’t really feel ill, though I did feel very tired last night.

Watch out people – this new one creeps up on you!

I rang the shop last night and we arranged for me to stay away for five days. Julia rang her manager last night, who didn’t answer, so rang again this morning. It seems three clients, including one Julia has been in close contact with, have all reported being positive. Of course, having learning difficulties, they don’t always notice, and even when they do they have been known to turn up and tell staff they are positive. Sometimes the staff at residential homes actually send them when they are positive because they don’t want them hanging round during the day.

I’m so glad we are retiring next year.

Fortunately we have cake. Julia bought some earlier in the week, excusing herself with the words “You never know when you might need some.”

Clementine Drizzle cake with pistachio topping