This is my entry for the British Haiku Society Haibun Competition. It was either successful (because it was honourably mentioned), or unsuccessful because it didn’t win. It has been mentioned on the website and is in the latest edition of Blithe Spirit, and the final haibun is quoted, so I presume it is now OK for me to reprint it. It is the second haibun I have written, featuring Dad and jigsaws. As some people have written books and plays about such things I suppose two haibun is not excessive, but it does worry me that I go back to old subjects – at what point does it become boring. That’s the reason I’ve generally (but not entirely) avoided COVID – we are all living through it, how many poems do we need?
Falling Into Place
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.
It was another day of manic activity as we kept getting orders from the new sales initiative. I quite like the active days, though it would be nice to have a little variation in pace.
The day started off with my second failed blood test in two weeks. I am consistently coming in too high and actually climbing as they seek to adjust the dose downwards. I’m not sure why this is happening but I suspect it might b because I started making an effort to do things properly. Instead of drifting on and forgetting to take my pills or taking them late, I am establishing a routine and I wonder if this means I have effectively increased the does without meaning too. I’m not taking supplements, I haven’t changed any medication and I haven’t ben eating huge amounts of green vegetables, which can all affect it. Whatever has caused it, the slow reduction by one tablet a week, as they have done this week, isn’t going to see it corrected any time soon.
Yesterday, I had an email headed “Congratulations”. Normally I’m wary of them because they usually contain details of how lucky I am to have been chosen to launder the estate of a deceased African politician. Presumably, the way things have been going, they will soon be inviting me to launder the estates of corrupt Tory supporters who have amassed illicit millions by making PPE for the NHS.
This one was from the British Haiku Society. I entered their annual competition and the results are out. According to the results there were 587 haiku, 164 tanka and 71 haibun entered. I am one of the top five haibun. I wasn’t 1st or 2nd but I did get an Honourable Mention which means I have a certificate and a free book.
The strange thing is that the one I did all the work on made no impact but the successful one was one which had only been returned by an editor the week before. I tweaked it a bit, in line with his comments, and sent it off to the competition. It just goes to show, as I have said before, that I am not a good judge of my own writing.
It’s been a scarecrow day today, with advice (and stockinette) from Shipshape Arts we’re going to be turning out some professional looking scarecrows this year.
All my ideas have been shelved on the grounds of good taste, though I still say that the 100th anniversary of the Great War and the presence of a barbed wire fence in the display area is a sign that we should push the boundaries a little. Julia says no. Bea from Shipshape says no and my sister, my own flesh and blood, agrees with them. Typical!
Otherwise things are a bit slow – we have promises of three more large and twenty or thirty spoon-size scarecrows, meaning we are currently down on large and slightly up on the small ones. Everybody seems to be so busy this year they don’t seem to be able to fit scarecrow-building into the plan.
That’s where my readers come in – I need your photo entries for the competition. If you have children, or nephews and nieces, or can persuade a teacher or youth group leader to submit a few it would be great.
Details are here. We had a meeting yesterday and I have confirmation that the winning school or group and the winning individual (or maybe more than one) will be able to adopt a tree in our new woodland. True, the “trees” are mere sticks at the moment, but they have potential. They come with full information about the tree and the farm so it can be quite educational. As you may have seen from earlier posts we are measuring trees regularly so if you win we will measure yours every year and tell you what size it is.
If you want to sidestep the competition process we can provide you with an adopted tree and a certificate for £20 – all proceeds going towards the cost of maintaining the woodland.
If yopu do win one, or if you pass over £20, I will even offer to make you a free cup of Lapsang Screveton if you visit, providing my tea bushes are still producing. If not you’ll have to put up with mint tea (freshly picked) or maybe PG Tips.
There are classes for schools, youth groups and individuals, including groups and individuals with learning difficulties. You can either enter physically or send us in a photograph for the photo competition – so all of you in America and the Antipodes have no excuse for not nagging children, friends and neighbouring teachers into participating.
Prizes will be as miserly as I can get away with, because that’s the sort of man I am, Prizes in the Spoon competition are likely to be better because Julia is organising them.
We already have one entry ready from Quercus Community, though there’s no point in us winning as we don’t want a free trip to the farm, we’re already here. If you look at it closely you may notice on other pages that the jockey’s head and arms are visible as parts of other scarecrows on last year. That accounts for the bloodstains you may have noticed…
I’m not actually sure whether recycling old scarecrows is easier than building new ones but it is a satisfying way to go. Take Sid, for instance. He’s the one on the right in this picture. He’s been on a sponsored walk (though he actually rode on Dave’s wheelchair) and donated his head to several bodies over the last four years. The overalls on the other scarecrow have seen similar multiple use, though I’m not sure Sid has ever worn overalls. (Those of you thinking “That scarecrow on the left looks uncommonly like local farmer David Rose” are right by the way – we are no respecters of person once the building urge strikes).