Holly Hobby Hocks

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Holly Hocks

So, I go to St. Andrews for one day to see Angelica, Geoff, Gwynn, Heather, Kalina, Karen, Lucinda, Mitchell, Pierre, and William, and look what happens to my hollyhocks while I am at KIRA. I guess it has something to do with the proximity of the Kingsbrae Garden: my hollyhocks got jealous and wanted me back.

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They were all so pleased to see me. Radiant and smiling, laughter all over their little faces. Little? Hey, they are growing every day, from saucers to side or sandwich plates and all too soon they will be as large as dinner plates.

Hopefully, they will last. My beloved says these hot summer days will quickly diminish them. I hope not. Alas, the foxgloves have gone already. Heavy raindrops battered their flowers and away they went. No winter gloves now for the little foxes. They will have cold paws.

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The sunflower buttons are awaiting their day in the sun. Prepping, not preening, they will soon unfold and follow the sun’s circuit with their faces. We certainly hope so. Meanwhile, consider the hollyhocks, they neither spin, nor do they weave, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

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Bubbles

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Commentary:

Words and images: pictures in the words and a sharp, black line severing the pictures. Solombra, in Octavio Paz’s words, the razor-sharp line between sun and shade. Breathe in the bubbles as they surge through the child’s wire ring. Rise with them as they float heavenwards, up to the cathedral roof, its spire, the blue sky beyond. When did you last feel this free? Shake out those cares, those worries, inhale, breathe deep, feel the sunlight bubbling through your veins, bringing you back to life, renewing your creativity. Go on, do it. You know you want to. More important, you know you need to. Those grey concrete streets have been wearing you down for too long. Gaze at flowers. Feel the trunk of a tree. Snuggle up to an alpaca. Grow a hollyhock in your garden. You haven’t got a garden? Buy a potted geranium and keep it in your house, summer and winter, your life-long friend and reminder that there are some things much more important than the daily toil. And YOU are one of them.

Bottle House 2

 

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The Bottle House 2

Here, as promised, is the bottle house 2. This time we visit the chapel, and what a lovely spot it is, as you will see, if you are brave, play the game, and click on the next link to the bottle house 2 The last time I visited, rain was falling, not heavy rain, but a light sprinkle that set the skies free and watered gardens and flowers. I should have some photos of the gardens too. If I have, I will post them. I promise!

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Thursday Thoughts Ubi sunt …

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Thursday Thoughts
Ubi sunt …

Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt? Where are they who went before us? As St. Augustine is said to have written: O homo, dic mihi, ubi sunt reges, ubi sunt principes, ubi imperatores, qui fuerunt ante nos… “O man, tell me, where are the kings, where are the princes, where the emperors, who had been before us” {Wikipedia]. Many philosophers have written on this theme, and many poets, including Villon in his famous ballade “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?” Where is last year’s snow? Cervantes also echoes the theme with this slight variation “No hay pájaros en los nidos de antaño.” There are no birds in last year’s nests.

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Goran Haven, Cornwall, July, 1966. I was waiting to receive the results of my final exams from Bristol University. Clare and I decided to spend a week in Cornwall and ended up in Goran Haven. When we came back, I made her a book of photos from the trip with hand-written poems beneath them. I discovered that book the other day and was taken back to a time when I wasn’t even thinking of coming to Canada. Fifty-three years later, looking at these photos, I ask myself ubi sunt … where did those days go? All those days, the old country, and everything that went with our youth … ubi sunt?

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Same thing happened when I visited McAdam Railway Station: wonderful memories of all the steam trains of my youth. And those railway names: Great Western Railway [GWR], London Midlands Scotland [LMS] , London North Eastern Railway [LNER]. So many things that I can never forget: the smell of the old steam engines, the sound of their wheels going clackety-clack, the taste of smoke and ash when I thrust my head out of the window, in spite of the sign that said, Do not lean out of the window, the feel of those worn cloth seats beneath the fingers, and the sense of excitement and joy when an empty corner seat begged to be sat in. Something else I’ll never forget: the cold taste of a Cadbury’s Milk Flake stuck in an ice-cream on a warm summer’s day.

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The Joy of A New Book

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The Joy of a New Book

Very little to beat it actually, the joy of receiving and opening a new book, especially when it is one you have written yourself, in cooperation with a group of friends. In this book are the twenty-four (24) poems that I wrote for McAdam Railway Station.

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I went to McAdam to watch Geoff working on his mural and installation (diorama). While there, I heard stories about the railway and started to write them down in stanza form. While I did write them, most of them were based on stories and anecdotes heard or overheard while the guides were guiding the tourists round the site. This is indeed a limited edition. We originally intended to print only 50 copies, but when we heard that there might be up to 300 people at the unveiling of Geoff’s mural, in McAdam, at 1:00 pm, Sunday, 30 June, 2019, we doubled the number of books we printed. I will be donating the majority of the 100 to McAdam Railway Station Historical Association. They can either give them away or sell them to help fund and support the impressive restoration work they are doing.

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“We view history through the rear-view mirror of a rapidly advancing car” … and writing these poems was a veritable journey back into the past. Geoff left his glasses by his half-finished drawing, and that’s when the idea of linking McLuhan to Moore to McAdam occurred. Several of the poems focus on my own experiences of railway stations. Travel by train was a frequent choice in my childhood and  I went almost everywhere by train. A local in-town train ran from the station at the end of our road and I often took it when visiting friends, shopping in town, or following the local soccer team, Cardiff City, aka the Bluebirds. As a result, much of the imagery within the poems involves my own knowledge and love of trains, while the narrative structures themselves are often based on those overheard words.

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We wanted a photo of Geoff and me on the back cover and I discovered this one in my files. The portrait was done by Ruby Allan, my fellow artist in KIRA (June, 2107). She painted Roger Writing in the Red Room from a photo taken by another KIRA resident artist, Carlos Carty, the Peruvian pipe, as I was working at the desk in my room. Geoff framed the portrait and Mrs. Lucinda Flemer gracefully allowed it to be hung over the desk in the Red Room at KIRA, an honor for which I am exceedingly grateful. What a nice way to put our pictures on the cover of our book! If you are down McAdam way this Sunday, 30 June, drop in and see us. We’ll be there. Books and all.

 

 

Westbury White Horse

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Westbury
White Horse

Winter in Somerset. No trains from Frome.
They sit in the engine sheds, boilers frozen.

Clare drives me to Westbury, in Wiltshire,
the neighboring county. She leaves me there

and I stand on a platform as white with snow
as Westbury White Horse towering above.

People arrive, flapping their arms, stamping
their feet, walking around trying to stay warm.

Finally, to shouts, cheers, and laughter, a train
arrives, its boiler successfully thawed. People

rush forward, open doors, claim their seats.
It’s a corridor, not a compartment train.

“Is this the eight-fifteen to Temple Meads?”
I ask the porter. “Nope,” he says. “That wll

be arriving later.” “When?” “About ten
or eleven, I expect.” “What train is this?”

“Ah, now this is the six-thirty to Bristol.
Running about two hours late. Better be quick.

The guard’s waving his flag. She’s about to leave.”
I open a door, climb on the train.  All

the seats are taken. I stand in the corridor,
shivering, all the way to Temple Meads.