Saturday, 6 February 2010

Not Yet Spring

I wrote another Haiku today. I didn't know whether or not I should submit it to the Haiku website. I feel unsure of myself now. In the end I braved it out and sent it. I have to be prepared to receive positive and negative feedback.

My latest poem is called Not Yet Spring. I've been enjoying the warm weather we've had for the last couple of days but I know it can't last. It would be so easy to get lulled into a false sense of security; to believe that spring is in the air. But it's February. I do not believe for one second that we've seen the last of the snow, frost and ice. I looked out of the front bedroom window this morning and felt that on the edge of the horizon the cold weather was waiting, malevolently. Have I mentioned before that I hate winter? Well, I do and this poem sums up my feelings of dread, as I imagine more cold weather on the way.

Not Yet Spring.

a snarling dog waits
crouching on the horizon
the cold bite of frost

  As I stared out of the window a huge fox bounded across the lawn. It was eleven oclock in the morning. Most unusal, as I've only seen foxes at night before. He came to a dead end at the fence and I wondered if he might climb over. Instead he headed off down the path away from my house and towards the fields. I expect that one day I shall write something about him.


Yesterday I didn't write a blog, however I did write my fourth Haiku. I posted it onto the winter Haiku page and this morning I was delighted to have received a comment. My delight was short lived. This could be my paranoid mind but I found the tone of the comment to be accusing and condescending. I sent a riposte. The tone intended was one of slight sarcasm, condescension and flippancy.
Perhaps I should not have responded. But then, I felt quite upset by the comment. I am new to the Haiku website and new to Haiku in general. I found the gentleman's comment off putting and not entirely friendly, even though he summed it up with - best wishes. Still, I had to laugh at the whole thing for it has turned out to be yet another wierd coincidence in this week of many.

I first discovered Haiku last year at my creative writing group. We briefly learned the aspects of traditional Haiku, such as the 5-7-5 syllables and a seasonal reference. I wrote my first Haiku, of which I was quite proud.

hark! There's a cuckoo
heralding the start of spring?
No. The clock strikes one

And then I forgot all about Haiku and concentrated on other aspects of both creative writing and my life. That was until recently, when I decided to take my writing to another level and applied for an Open University course. The course is called Understanding the Arts, or something like that. It is a level one course on the road to a degree in English language and literature. One of the things I will be studying on the course is Haiku.
This week I borrowed a book from the library, called 'Teach Yourself Creative Writing' by Stephen May. I have borrowed this book before. Using a tip from the book, I wrote a poem called Turning Back The Clocks, which is about Autumn. I'm proud of this poem and might share it with you one day. Anyway, the librarian, seeing my choice of reading material suggested I might be interested in a poetry group that is starting up soon. I had not noticed the poster for this group and would have otherwise missed this opportunity. I felt that serendipity was at work that day.
  Later, I read the chapter on blogging and decided to begin one. In this chapter is a tip from author Caroline Smailes. I visited her blog and as often happens with the internet, I got led off track and ended up on the Haiku pages. I soon became a member. How strange, that the first person to make a comment on my poem, (a positive comment about my Haiku entitled Martini) happened to be the person who had led me to the Haiku page.
   I read other people's poems and came across one that mentioned Orion. From my house there is a perfect view of Orion across the wintery sky and looking at this constellation is one of the few pleasures I find during this depressing season. I decided that I too would write a Haiku with Orion as the seasonal reference. Afterall, Orion is there for us all to share.

My poems are mainly based on personal experience. The Martini Haiku came about from a number of factors. About four years ago on a skiing holiday in Bulgaria, we really did snap off the tips of icicles to add to JD and coke. We also used icicles to give our huge snowman a wonderful spiky hair-do. This year, at Christmas I took to drinking gin Martini's, as they are less fattening that wine, and frankly they taste so vile, that I drink slowly and don't get sloshed very quickly. And of course, this winter, we have experienced some fantastic icicles in the UK.

The seagull Haiku was inspired by a trip to the local dump and my attempts to feed robins in my garden. We have a recycling centre not far from our home and even though we are at least a hundred miles from the sea, we have many seagulls in the area because they scavenge at the tip. I set up a make-shift bird table, during the recent freeze. I attracted sweet little coals tits, blue tits and robins. But to my dismay, overhead a flock of seagulls began to fly, circling my garden the way vultures circle the airport in The Gambia. I once witnessed a seagull dive-bombing my cat. She came home with a hole in her back! So I have abandoned the bird table idea and have hung a coconut shell filled with fat and seeds from a tree. This still attracts robins and tits but thankfully not the vicious seagulls.
I am working on an idea for a Haiku, based on the idea of robins, birdtables and a rather alarming headline I read just before Christmas. I didn't buy the newspaper, so I didn't read the article, but the gist of it was that top restaurants are serving robins as a delicacy. As you can imagine, I was horrified by this headline. I thought my Haiku might go something like this;

Christmas card robins
serve them well, on bird tables
not dinner tables.

My third Haiku, the one I received the comment on, was based on a recent sighting of a barn owl. I was driving home in the snow, when I saw out of the corner of my eye, a large bird flying slowly. My first thoughts were of a pigeon, but it was dark and pigeons don't tend to fly about at night. The road was deserted so I slowed down more (I was driving very slow as it was) and turned to look properly at the bird. It was an owl. I could only see the underside of the bird, which was white, so I thought it was a snowy owl. When I got home, I looked on the R.S.P.B website and found that it was highly unlikely to be a snowy owl because it had been too small. Besides, snowy owls don't live around here. It had almost certainly been a barn owl, for they are white underneath, brown on top. I must admit I was quite freaked out by the owl sighting. The reason for this is because I know that in many cultures owls are linked with death. I spotted the owl flying just metres away from the sight where someone I know was killed last year, in a car accident. Because of this, the owl sighting has stayed with me. When I thought of Orion - the hunter, I remembered the owl and the poem was born.

I was unaware that a famous Haiku poet had written a similar poem, hundreds of years ago. In fact, I was unaware of the poet Basho per se. I expect I will study Basho in my OU course, that begins in March. Although the comment upset me at first, I'm grateful to have learned of Basho's existence, for now I can study his work in advance. Also, I can learn from the master. And really, I should be pleased. If my fourth Haiku, is similar to one of Basho's, then I should take that as a compliment. Trouble is though, I didn't and have responded accordingly. Oops! I've probably made an enemy now. Typical, four days into the blogging lark, and four poems into the Haiku lark and I'm upsetting people. But, it was never my intention and we all have to start somewhere.

Thursday, 4 February 2010


After yesterdays blog I was afraid I may have jinxed the wedding jacket I was meant to be sewing, but hurrah, it turned out just fine. Another happy customer.
This morning I went to the local recycling centre to dump a broken blow-up-bed. There are often seagulls, hovering over the dump. This gave me the idea for my next Haiku.

from grey moody skies
seagulls shriek, no fish today
on the council tip

The rest of the day has been spent with mundane housework tasks and trawling through ebay, trying to find a friends item, that's for sale. Once again, my partner has volunteered my services, to bid on something (that we don't want) to help start the bidding off. Totally dodgy I know, and I'm not happy about doing it. The first time he made me do this, we won the auction. Then I was left with the bother of selling the damn thing - a conservatory! As if I don't waste enough time, without him setting me up to waste even more. This is the last time I do it though. I'm retiring from ebay. Well, that's what I'm going to tell him.
Anyway, last year, when I was right into ebay, when I saw myself as a bit of a wheeler dealer, I came up with this idea....

Top Tip for ebay sellers.

Wrap up parcels with bubble wrap until airtight,
fill with helium until parcel hovers slightly off the ground.
Take to post office immediately and pop on scales.
The post office now have to pay you to deliver your package.

This idea might also be useful for people attending weight watchers, as long as they remember not to speak. A pixi voice is a bit of a give away, when using helium.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I'll do it later.

I should be sewing an item of wedding finery this morning, ready for my afternoon appointment. But can I be arsed? Not really. I'm going to need at least three more cups of tea, an hour on Facebook (playing Farmville, Bejewelled Blitz or other equally timewasting and addictive games) plus a further hour in the bathroom plucking at eyebrows and other unruly facial hairs. You don't know me yet, I'm new to this blogging game, but let me tell you this -procrastination is my middle name.
Besides, I've been sewing long enough to have it down to a fine art. This means I can sew very well, very quickly and always finish in the nick of time. Well, almost always!
This year hasn't got off to a great start. Perhaps I should adopt a second middle name, disorganised. So far, this year, I have managed to forget quite a few appointments and then get caught in embarrasing situations, such as still wearing pyjamas or having just got out of the bath. Believe me, it's not easy trying to sell yourself to a potential customer when your hair's dripping down the back of your neck, as you've only had time to towel dry it into a fuzzy, 'Stig of the Dump' style afro. I can't focus on discussing bridal wear, when all I can see in my peripheral vision is my own head bush.
Having three diaries on the go doesn't help (four now, if we consider this blog). I write appointments in various diaries, whichever is at hand at the time. I tell myself, I will transfer the information to all the other diaries - later, but never do. Of course the real reason for this general lack of efficiency is because my heart's not in it. I'm fed up with brides, their sparkly, ivory dresses and their colourful bridesmaids. I'm sick of them all, and sewing full stop.
I'd be happy to give it all up and write poetry, such as this Haiku I knocked up for breakfast;


Icicles hang low
Obscurring the frosted scene
Snap off, add to gin