NaHaiWriMo February 2011

The River of Stones project, organized by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita, has now come to an end. In January, for a whole month, people from all over the world wrote a ‘stone,’ a polished thought/moment of experience. I wrote and posted mine in this blog, on my twitter stream and on my separate tumblr blog Stella’s Stones. Now that January (2011) is over, you can find more of my very short work in Stella’s Stones: on the right hand side of the front page, just below my twitter feed. A big thank you to Fiona and Kaspalita!

February (2011) is also a special month. Michael Dylan Welch of Graceguts organizes the NaHaiWriMo challenging haiku poets and others to write a haiku a day for the month of February. Can you do it? Can I do it? I will certainly try. You can follow my haiku progress in Stella’s Stones.

For well-writen essays on Haiku and other genres click  Graceguts

The bird’s eye view

Leaves and branches rushed past, a spade, buckets, a car, crates, tyres, a barrel. She clung to the rough, furrowed bark of the Eucalyptus, terrified that it might not hold on to its place for long.

She felt the torrential rain lashing her and the waters indiscriminately, feeding the swollen rivers. A desolate water land covered fields and low-lying areas. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a book floating past, opened upside-down, then another, then several specimens, as if the entire Amerold town library was being carried away by the flood. Her heart tightened. She had spent her youth in the library, growing up through its books. She used to wash her hands before opening them. She had become Miss Bell’s preferred reader, and she had even been allowed to stay on reading during lunchtime.

Scrunching up her eyes, she tried to make out the titles floating past, as if her life depended on it. The water kept rising. Brushing past, a raven flew to perch on the tree’s highest branch. She felt her hold loosening.

Feeling the bark for a better grip, she remembered the story of Noah’s Ark, the raven and the dove sent out to see if the flood waters subsided; and the book she’d read about ravens’ intelligence. She sensed the storm lessening. The bird was scanning the vast expanse; she was not alone. She sighed with relief and dug her nails into the tree bark.

This story was first published on 52|250 A Year of flash here

Edition #3 of > Language > Place is out

The new edition #3 of > Language > Place blog carnival is out!

Hosted by Michael Solender, of “Not From Here, Are You?” it is a feast of stories, personal accounts, poems, photographs. In a number of excellent contributions, several bloggers explore what it means to feel at home, be at home, or indeed, where home is: the theme of belonging.

For information on what the blog carnival is all about, how it came into being and instructions on how to join, please visit Dorothee Lang at Blue Print Review and she will tell you all about it.

In addition, there is a special place to go to for information on the contributors and what they are blogging about http://languageplace.blogspot.com/  

The next edition, issue #4, will be hosted and edited by Jean Morris of “tasting rhubarb.” Jean is inviting submissions during the period from the 5th to the 20th of February 2011. For details and also the specific theme of the edition see here

I am happy to report that links to two of my stories are included in edition  #3: “Ariadne’s Thread” and “Where Home is.” Both stories first appeared on 52|250 A Year of Flash here; they can also be found in my blog here

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Diamond doves are small, beautiful birds, which can be kept as pets, ‘Wiki-Marion’ told me once. Since I knew she enjoys dispensing information, I did not think more about it, until she invited me to see her new pet, “Love”.

A bird of beauty! Light blue-grey head, neck, and breast; dark bill, spotted wings fringed in black; orange eyes. I fell in love with Love. He kept bow-cooing, fluffing his wings, strutting, kissing Marion’s hand. I felt jealous, knowing I could not compete with my friend for the bird’s affections.

Walking back home, I stopped at the park, looking for doves, ducks and this winter’s migratory birds. None had the exquisite and delicate beauty of the diamond dove. I was heartbroken by the time I arrived home, vowing to stop visiting Marion to avoid the pain.

A few weeks later, she phoned me. “Love died,” she announced.

“What?”

“These birds seem to fall in love with their owner if they don’t have a bird partner. I encouraged his bonding to me. But that was all I could do – I could not let him mate with my hand as if it were a female! He felt rejected and died of love.”

“It was only an animal. Animals behave differently,” I said, breaking into hysterical laughter.

I put the phone down struck by an acute pang of unease. Who are the animals here, I asked myself, my face burning with shame.

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This short story was first published on 52|250 A Year of Flash, January 2011. It can be found here.

For information about the diamond dove, including the dangers of it becoming over-dependent on its owner see here.

Ariadne’s Thread

Recently, I started wanting to learn to knit. My mother knitted, her mother crocheted and they both embroidered. For the first half century of my life, I bluntly refused to touch a needle. Then, out of nowhere, I felt the urge. I googled immediately.

I learnt that once a week, knitters, stitchers, and crocheters from all over London meet and knit together. Stitch by stitch, loop by loop, they aim to take over the world and turn it into a warm, benign, woolly place, where humans knit together, refreshed by cups of tea, glasses of wine, cream cakes, and scones.

Rich and poor ladies, ordinary women, Oxbridge blue-stockings, illiterates, persons of various religious persuasions, and origins gather under one roof to knit and teach the learners. For free! Is that for real? I asked. Come and see, they replied.

Armed with wool and needles, I went. The Festival Hall, bathed in sparkling lights lit up the river; it overflowed with good-natured crowds. The knitters sat clutching their instruments, fingering the wool. Wine flowed, fairy cup-cakes, scones flew into mouths to the tune of clicking needles. I felt lost to alpaca, mohair, merino, cashmere.

I am a beginner, I said. Welcome, they replied. Feeling a huge grin mark my face, I picked up my needles. At last, I had found my way home. Afterwards, it dawned on me: had Penelope really wanted Odysseus back, wouldn’t she have given him a thread to find his way home?

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This short story first appeared on 52|250 A Year of Flash

Crochet and Knitting Meditation

 

When I started learning to crochet I thought of it as a relaxing, stress-reducing act, like counting the amber beads of a komboloi.

Now, looking at my hand holding the crochet hook, the wool, at the next stitch to pick up, the stitches I travelled and the one I have to travel to next, I think it is more than that. It is a process like meditation, without however the religious connotations and significance often associated with it: like counting prayer beads, but without the religion.

I was interested to see that, according to Wikipedia, there are two ways of counting the komboloi beads: “a quiet method, for indoors, and a noisier method that is acceptable in public places.” While crochet is quiet, knitting with two needles is not! I wonder whether there is a way(s) of knitting indoors that keeps the noise down!

http://stellasstones.tumblr.com/

blackbirds

blackbirds

pecking red rowan berries  

sing to themselves

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Read about the Rowans here. In the Wikipedia Rowan entry, mythology and folklore section: “It was said in England that this was the tree on which the Devil hanged his mother.”

This post can also be found here

Forest Fears

Festival of the Trees, issue 55, on the theme of 2011 UN International Year of the Forests, has been published by Jasmine, of Nature’s Whispers. It is an informative, as well as entertaining post, rich in text, visuals, and creative energy. The links are well worth exploring too, covering a plethora of work about nature, trees, forests, gardening, art, and other fascinating topics!

It also includes an alert about the UK coalition government’s plan to sell off many of the best-loved ancient forests and woodlands, and a link to an online petition to save the UK forests.

Jasmine writes:

“In the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party plan on selling ALL of our ancient forests. Once they are gone, they cannot be redeemed. In order to carry out these environmentally unpopular sales, the government is rewriting laws written in The Magna Carta that have protected woodlands and ancient forests since 1215”

 For more information about this issue please see The Guardian here, here and the campaign site here

If you enjoy walking in the forests as much as I do, if you care about the environment and the preservation of woodland, then this is the time to voice your concern and support the petition.

 You can sign the petition online here

My short story and post appear here

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku