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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Animals! TWO BY TWO, Trip Pictures, and New Books to Crow About...

 

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

 

If you might indulge a few more trip pictures (with no promise that these are the last), I thought I'd share a brand new animal-themed book with a romping rhyme, and a general celebration of our non-human friends today. (Keep scrolling down after the post, if viewing on a computer, to see all of the animal pictures and the book cover at the bottom. IDs and locations are in the caption at the very bottom!)

 

 

Upon returning home from our amazing Scotland/Ireland family adventure this summer, I realized I had snapped several pictures of animals along with the castles and misty vistas.  Of course, I thought to myself upon this discovery.  My life has always been animal-centric, benefiting from a free-range childhood in the woods of Florida, and a lifetime of sharing life with the furred, feathered, hoofed, and scaled, and 30-plus years as a vegetarian. 

 

 

On our first full day in Edinburgh, a pigeon came to call at our apartment window overlooking James Court. We exchanged pleasantries.  I never thought conversing with birds was unusual, since I've done so since I was little, but my kids once gently let me know that not everyone goes around acting like Snow White in the forest scene in the original Disney movie. (Why not?)

 

 

This week I had a tête-à-tête with a broad-winged hawk (from a safe distance, yard to pine tree), letting it know that, No, I would not be putting my tiny Chihuahua back on the ground any time soon, thank you.

 

 

Anyway, as is my practice with close encounters of the animal variety, while in Scotland I looked up pigeon "spirit medicine" and found that it held perfect messages for the beginning of a trip that originated in vials sent off to Ancestry.com. 

 

 

"As a totem, the pigeon teaches us to return to our roots and explore our heritage. …  Pigeon also serves as a reminder that we come from a clan and are not alone."

https://www.thoughtco.com/bird-totems-4062050

 

 

Yay, pigeons!

 

 

And yay, books (especially ones with poetry!) which celebrate our fellow animals.

 

 

In 2011, it was my privilege to coordinate a children's poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich for the SCBWI Southern Breeze region.  Among our wonderful attendees was long-time member Lisa Lowe Stauffer  Lisa's first book for children, TWO BY TWO, a board book by Zonderkids, has just been released! 

 

 

On her website, Lisa mentioned our SCBWI poetry retreat and an assignment Rebecca gave everyone.

 

 

"TWO BY TWO started as a simple, steady poem about Noah's Ark," she writes, noting that the first lines haven't changed.

 

 

On the first colorful page we find animals entering the ark:

 

 

Two by two,

 

Board the boat.

 

Shut the door.

 

Time to float.

 

 

The monkeys become bored, however, and soon they want to do much more than float.  In fact, they "free the zoo" so that all the animals can party like it's, well, a long long time ago, BC.

 

 

Illustrator Angelika Scudamore's bright and lively characters are appealing and full of expression.  Young readers/listeners will have fun pointing out all the different animals on each spread.  The trim size is a generous 8 X 8, perfect for sharing with a wee one in your lap.  Here is another taste of the fun verse:

 

 

Anaconda limbo,

 

Tigers race in pairs.

 

Ring toss on

 

the caribou,

 

Pin the tail on bears!

 

 

Did I mention this was a FUN book?  Congratulations, Lisa and Angelika!

 

 

Interestingly, another rhyming board book was born not too long after that poetry retreat.  Prolific children's author Gail Langer Karwoski penned THANK YOU, TREES (Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner) – a terrific book to share with any inhabitant of the planet. (Here's my blog post about it.) 

 

 

Other Poetry Friday regulars in attendance that weekend included Doraine Bennett and Irene Latham.  (Did I miss any other PF folks?)  Irene has written about LOTS of animals in her novels and picture books.  Keep an eye out for LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS (Millbrook) coming soon to a bookshelf near you!

 

 

One last shout-out. While in Edinburgh, I got to catch up with my buddy Elizabeth Dulemba, and Jane Yolen joined us for lunch.  (She and Elizabeth had a literary event together in Edinburgh that week.) Elizabeth blogged about our meet-up here.   She also blogged about TWO BY TWO with an interview with Lisa and Angelika here

 

 

Elizabeth has lent her rich artistic talents to a book written by Jane with her son, Adam Stemple.  This wonderful new book from Cornell Lab Publishing Group, CROW, NOT CROW, debuts  August 28. (Here is Jane's blog post about it, with peeks inside the pictures from Elizabeth here.)   

 

 

I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf, right next to our Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's EVERYDAY BIRDS.  Young and not-so-young readers who love birds will soon be crowing about CROW, NOT CROW! 

 

Now, flap on over to Nix the Comfort Zone, where the Magnificent Molly has our Roundup.  [What?  MORE trip pix, you ask?  Well, click on over to my new post at artsyletters for a bunch of "animals in images" (& other related curiosities) from our trip!]

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Poetry Friday - Scotland & Timely Verse by Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  We've been blessed with company since returning from our trip to Scotland and Ireland, and I've just taken up a wee space at a gift shop downtown for some of my artsyetters offerings, so I am still playing catch-up with everything else!

 

But I wanted to share a few lines from our dear old friend, Gerard Manley Hopkins.  He went to Scotland in 1881, and upon visiting Loch Lomond, wrote "Inversnaid."  Here's a link to the entire poem, and here are the lines pictured above:

 

 What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

 

 

These words and other literary quotes on the outside walls of The Scottish Parliament were just some of the diversions which slowed my progress down The Royal Mile as we walked to Holyrood Palace.

 

We would all go back to Edinburgh in a heartbeat, and I have a feeling we will!  After all, among its many attributes and siren calls, it's The World's First UNESCO City of Literature!  (More on that here.) 

 

The beautiful Hopkins verses seem so poignant and relevant here across the Pond this week, with the potential for heartbreaking environmental losses with attacks on The Endangered Species Act, and, pretty much everything else offering thoughtful stewardship of animals and plants and places we can never replace. Sigh.

 

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!

 

For this week's Roundup, Catherine at Reading to the Core is celebrating GREAT MORNING, the brand-newest Pomelo Books poetry book!  (I'm thrilled to have a poem included.)  Catherine shares her own inspired and inspiring poem in the collection, "Walking for a Cause."

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Poetry Friday - I Hear Bagpipes....

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

We are gearing up for our family "Ancestry" trip to Scotland and Ireland this month - Can't wait!  Except that I still have some 'ready' to get.... 

 

I think some Robert Burns (1759-96) is in order, from a wonderful old book (un-repurposed!) I have:

 

 

CONTENTED WI' LITTLE

Tune:  Lumps o' pudding

 

 

Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair,

Whene'er I forgather wi' sorrow and care,

I gie them a skelp as they're creepin' alang,

Wi' a cog o' gude swats, and an auld Scottish sang.

 

I whyles claw the elbow o' troublesome thought;

But man is a soger, and life is a faught:

My mirth and gude humour are coin in my pouch,

And my freedom's my lairdship nae monarch dare touch.

 

A towmond o' trouble, should that be my fa',

A night o' gude fellowship sowthers it a';

When at the blythe end of our journey at last,

Wha the deil ever thinks o' the road he has past?

 

Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way,

Be't to me, be't frae me, e'en let the jad gae:

Come ease, or come travail; come pleasure or pain,

My warst word is- 'Welcome, and welcome again!'

 

 

(For help with some of those words, here's a link to a 1920 book on Google Books with a few definitions!)

 

Most of the Scots in our family tree were already over here by the time Mr. Burns was born in Scotland.  I've been staying up way too late, too many nights, chasing ancestors and rabbit trails through the brances of my Ancestry.com family tree! My family is threatening an intervention.  I even made a side trip off the interstate through South Carolina recently to go pay my respects to the bones of some newly-discovered Quaker ancestors buried in a small, historic cemetery in the middle of nowhere.... These folks were as old as our Mr. Burns, part of the Ulster Scots-Irish who came over and meandered down through the Carolinas and over into the midwest.  But I digress.

 

Christmas before last, I made my hubby and kids spit in vials and said we'd plan a trip according to where we were from.  We're all very, very, very British! (My brother happened to do the test about the same time, and so did my mother, so it's been especially fun comparing generational DNA results, too.)

 

So off to Edinburgh and Dublin it is, with a couple of day trips to the countryside.  We have ancestral connections in every corner of Great Britain, actually - Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland - as well as Ireland.  We'll mainly focus on the Celtic roots this time. 

 

What I've discovered is that basically we've got "family" on all sides of every historical conflict over there, it seems.  Sigh.  This clan attacks that one; this country fights its neighbors - and yet somehow folks cross lines and marry and have babies. Then they grow up and this group fights that group, etc. etc. The same tune across the globe, I know, across the centuries.  We can't take peace for granted, that's for sure. 

 

Speaking of clans, I've been a bit tartan-crazy in the studio lately.  I've begun making items using a couple of circa 1930 small books, published in Edinburgh, featuring tartans and coats of arms for clans and septs. When I discovered some mid-century Murano glass beads called "Scottish agate" (because they mimic the actual stones), I bought a couple of vintage necklaces to repurpose, too.  I'm having fun combining these with the tartan images, clipped and tucked under glass cabachons. 

 

I also bought an older book on the same theme on Ebay a week or two ago (didn't pay a lot for it)... I was thrilled to receive it and discover what a lovely little treasure it is!  It's pictured above.  It was published in 1891 and is just too lovely for me to dismember.  The printed tartan colors are wonderful, and - the endpapers!  The gilded edges!  And gilded design just inside the covers! It's quite safe for now and makes a delightful photo prop. 

 

Oh - just for fun, I included a pic of "explorer" necklaces I made for Morgan and myself.  100-year-old maps, cuckoo clock chain, vintage telescope charms, vintage Middle Eastern charms (she got my 1 percent in the DNA too), and some fun contemporary metal beads and compass charm.  I'll make some more of these this summer.  Hers features County Fife, where I've got one line of my family and a line of my hubby's back hundreds of years to the same place... different clans.  But same place! And that is happening quite often on my ancestral explorations, both across the Pond and in pre-and post-Colonial migrations here. 

 

My necklace is the British Isles, with a touch of the Western edge of Europe. Which is appropriate, because I JUST found out in my research that "Hood" is not English, as my brother and I thought, but was originally "Hoed" - and, DUTCH!  As in, came-from-Amsterdam-to-New-Amsterdam-before-it-was-New-York Dutch.  But that's another story.... [And, I hadn't really paid attention before, but the splotch of color over the Great Britain region on the Ancestry.com DNA map covers that edge of Europe right beside it, including the Netherlands.]

 

I'll be back with more stories and poems in a few weeks - wishing you a swoon-worthy start to June!  Buffy has just the post to get us in the swing of summer, over at the Roundup.  Enjoy!

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Poetry Friday - Let's Go to Scotland!



January Greetings! I hope your year is off to an inspiring start.

We were thrilled to see both our families and our kids over the holidays, though three trips to three different states in those couple of weeks means I am still trying to get my ducks in a row for this new year.

I did manage to corral some traveling ducks this week, though – and we couldn’t be more excited.

A year ago right before the holidays, I made my hubby and kids all spit in vials and sent said spittle off to Ancestry.com to see what we were made of. We said we'd make 2018 travel plans based on the results. Despite some wee bits of diversity, our lot is pretty much British and/or Irish through and through. So this summer, it’s off to Scotland and Ireland for us! (We’ve got Welsh and English roots, too, but we’ll focus on the Scottish and Irish branches this go-round.)

And while I hope our plans will go as smoothly as travel plans can go, perhaps the season of resolutions is the right time to recall our friend Robert Burns’s words to a wee mousie, displaced by a farmer’s plough a couple of centuries ago. Besides, the Scottish poet was born in January – like yours truly and our daughter Morgan (isn’t that a fine Celtic name?).

Click here for the entire poem and more info about the poet. Below are the ending stanzas, with their famous lines:

from To a Mouse

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough,
November, 1785


….

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
            Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
            For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
            On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I cannot see,
            I guess an' fear!


Raise a glass to Mr. Burns on January 25, the 259th anniversary of his birth, if my math is right!

One lovely trip bonus is that we will (barely!) overlap with my long-time kidlit buddy/friend Elizabeth Dulemba, who has been pursuing graduate degrees in illustration in Edinburgh, and who comes back to the states during summers to teach at Hollins University. If you don’t know Elizabeth’s work or website, you are in for a treat – she’s garnered awards for both her writing and art. She’s also one of the most generous blogger-folks out there, and her Coloring Pages enrich countless lives each and every Tuesday. (Sign up to receive them!)

She even has a great TEDxTalk called, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?” It was inspired by the move she made to Scotland in pursuit of her dreams, and the downsizing she and her husband were willing to do to make it happen. (See the link at the top of her site.)

AND, if that’s not all, Elizabeth just featured a terrific interview with our own Irene Latham and Charles Waters about their hot-off-the-press poetry collection from Carolrhoda Books, Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. I just ordered my copy!

I’ll be spending lots of time on e’s blog in coming months, perusing all her posts on Scotland. To make that virtual journey yourself, click here.

For today’s roundup, get out your poetry passport and head over to bookseed studio, where our amazing Jan is welcoming all with a post on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy Travels! Read More 
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