Tag Archives: nature

Another 100 Day Challenge – Haiku

It’s Day 100 of the Haiku Challenge.

I now have over 1,000 haiku of indeterminate quality. Some of them aren’t haiku, some are senyru. Some are more like fragments, or notes. And many of them are merely bad.

Having taken all that into consideration, was it worth it?

Undoubtedly. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, including that in any 100 day challenge you are going to come to hate what you are doing. Whether this holds true for my new challenge remains to be seen.

I first came up with the idea from reading this this post whilst browsing the net for haiku-related posts. I then moved on to reading this article, which is a lot more ambitious.

My “rules”, garnered from the article, were simple. Ten haiku a day for 100 days, avoiding too much censorship and writing extra to catch up if I couldn’t manage ten one day. As the article admitted that experienced writers were only getting one good haiku out of ten or twenty attempts I felt justified in taking a laid back attitude.

So, what did I learn?

Well, I became more fluent in my writing and found ideas came more easily.

I became addicted to writing and couldn’t rest if I didn’t write at least ten a day. Apart from the days I needed a rest, because there were several days where I hated haiku so badly that I couldn’t write one. That did happen a couple of times, but I soon got over it after a day off.

I also ran out of nature several times. Despite becoming more observant and making better notes as time went on, I found I was struggling with enough nature observations to keep myself going. You don’t see much nature when you are just driving through town to work and back, and magpies and bare branches are simply not enough to feed a heavy haiku habit.

Towards the end of the time I noticed I was writing three line poems with the rhythms and vocabulary of haiku.

That last point is quite important. I started with a lot of long words and details which aren’t really needed in haiku. A three syllable word in a haiku, remember, is three thirteenths of the syllables needed for a modern haiku (seventeen is now considered old-fashioned). Three thirteenths of a sonnet is near enough three lines, so you can see how condensed a haiku is, and why you can’t waste a single syllable.

That was probably the most important thing I learned.

Now, it’s time to take Number Two Son to work.

Over the next few weeks I will do some rewriting and may show you a few poems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Day

It’s the 2nd of January today, and New Years Day seems to have slid by imperceptibly. I’m trying to decide on a new project, though I’m struggling at the moment. I may need to finish my other two projects first, and may even allow myself a rest.

For the moment, as I said yesterday, I’m going to write a few clerihews. They are short, the rhymes are simple and they don’t need to scan. They don’t need nature words either.

I’ve learnt a few things about such projects – one being that poetry requiring nature is probably best written in spring. There’s not much variety in autumn when all you get is leaves going brown, leaves falling off and leaves doing things on the floor. It’s worse in winter – you have twigs and frost. And, so far, we haven’t had much frost this year.

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Sherwood Forest

Another thing is not to see the 1st of January as a starting point for new projects. I’ve been conditioned into starting things on the first day of the year and I bought a diary, with the plan of writing something every day. With the posting and haiku challenges I’m  struggling for time and inspiration. On the other hand, I don’t want to leave the first two weeks of the diary empty.

I’m not expecting too much from the rest of the day as Julia has plans and I’m taking Number One Son to the airport at 4.00 this afternoon, so I’m not going far.

I’m thinking of writing a poem about a man who becomes nothing more than a taxi-driver for his family.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Guinea Pigs of Newstead Abbey

While I was in the shop yesterday Eddie showed me a picture of wild guinea pigs in Newstead Abbey country park. They seem to have moved on, or become a succulent part of the food chai,n as he hasn’t seen them since.

~The Wild Guinea Pigs Of Newstead~

 

I pasted the link but it added the picture – not sure how that happens. Clicking the photo seems to link back to the site, but I’m a bit suspiciousvof all this modern technology.

If you search for Wild Guinea Pigs of Newstead Abbey you will find his site, with many insect photos.

He’s wasted taking picures of coins for ebay.

Blood Pressure,Tranquility and a Simple Solution

I’m generally at peace in three places. One of these is when I’m out in nature (though a cold day at a gravel pit doesn’t work the magic as much as a spring day in the woods. Another is in church. The third one is among antiques.

We seem to be wired to respond to nature, and I suspect church builders knew more about promoting tranquility a thousand years ago than we do now. As to the third, I’m not sure why it happens, but it does. It might just be that I’m strange.

One place I find it hard to be relaxed is in hospital. That probably starts in the Workhouse. They weren’t meant to promote relaxation, which is fine when you are building to scare the poverty-stricken and the elderly. When they were turned into hospitals, as many of them were, a change of emphasis might not have been possible. I’m not saying this is the reason, but it might be.

There is also the well known “white coat effect”. I used to be able to control this by imagining sunlight streaming into a wooded clearing. These days, I can’t hold the picture in my mind and I frequently find myself having discussions with doctors about my blood pressure.

I don’t know why it should be so. I’m overweight, so as far as I’m concerned that gives the blood more room to spread out. I should have low blood pressure, not high. Unfortunately this, according to my doctor, is not how it works.

Plan B then, should surely to go back a few hundred years and do a bit of cupping and bleeding. Looking at it logically this will reduce the pressure, just like letting air out of a tyre. Simple.

I shall have a word with my doctor when I see them on Thursday.

 

Bug boxes in bottles

As song lyrics go, you can see why Rodgers and Hammerstein stuck with ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens’.  However, if you are looking for a project to help wildlife in the garden bug boxed in bottles is probably a better way to go.

Cardboard, straw, dried grass, old garden canes, plant stems and paper drinking straws from the craft cupboard all came in useful for stuffing the bottles, which are simply pop bottles with the bottoms cut off. If you leave the top on that’s OK; if you don’t, then the bugs have a back door or a drain.

We sourced some of our bits by breaking up the bug hotel in the allotment (it’s due for a re-build) so these even came provided with sitting tenants, with spiders, centipedes, wood lice, miscellaneous skittery things and a snail all putting in an appearance.

We were building them with a pack of Rainbows who are using as part of a badge qualification. Some of them were pleased at the prospect of ready-made tenants, others were not quite so keen.

If they lodge them in sheds and hedges for the winter we should be able to make a contribution to nature, even if it’s a small one.

They are out running round in the rain at the moment. You have to admire the fortitude of the a leaders…

Why doesn’t my spell checker like welly whanging?

Simultaneous with the volunteers yesterday, we had a group of kids for the afternoon. They did a noisy nature walk, had a welly whanging competition, a festival of shouting and made bug hotels. When all that was over, we made butter.

Thirty hyped-up kids, screw-top containers, double cream, shaking…

What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

Apart from one kid throwing up, one turning green (we blame the jumping up and down technique of shaking for this) and one lid leaking – nothing.

You can’t count the kid that sprayed himself in the eye with the automatic air freshener because that wasn’t caused by butter-making: that was, I confess, caused by me forgetting to screw the air freshener to the wall out of the reach of kids.

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Bug Hotels

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Butter. I felt the need to explain that because it does look like er…not butter.

We then pass to Men in Sheds. We made more signs and welded up a bracket. We were also commissioned to build an adaptor to fit a square heater to a round tube in the grain dryer. There’s a song about that, isn’t there?

Actually, when I check the lyrics, there’s one line about that – There may be trouble ahead…

The rest of the song, with it’s moonlight and music and love and romance doesn’t really match with my experience of Men in Sheds.

Most memorable moment of the day was the one where the Man welding up the bracket turned and said “I’ve just welded it to the vice!”

It soon came off, with the help of an angle grinder, as we all tried to keep straight faces…

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One bracket, welded to vice.

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One angle-grinder in action.

 

 

 

We Built a Pond

It’s only a small pond – just a washing up bowl sunk into the corner of a raised bed.

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The plant in the corner is Water Mint. Most of the rest is gravel or bricks, which form steps to get out if anything falls in.

I think I’ve told you all this, but as you can see from the main picture we had our first dragonfly, a Southern Hawker. Not sure if it’s a coincidence or if the “pond” really worked.

Get details here.