My writing...reflections...poems...pictures...projects...life...in Maine.
All material on this website is © Donna JT Smith unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Did You Say "Feed Me?'

Thanks, Two Writing Teachers (or more) for hosting the Tuesday Slice of Life.  This slice of life is a bit from earlier this summer, last week and when I was a child.  It's like a slice of three layer cake (gluten free, for me, of course).
Don't know who this bird is looking at the babies.  Sometimes wrens will come to steal a nest.
About 8 years ago, a phoebe built a nest on our porch.  We watched her sit on the nest and later feed her 4 babies.  We watched as they grew too large for the nest.  And one day, when my husband got too close, they just exploded out of the nest, never to be seen again that summer!  When they are ready to fly, they just up and leave.

We had a nest of phoebes on our porch again this year.  A phoebe came and made four starts that amounted to four small piles of stuff between porch rafters.  Reading about their habits, I learned that the male typically starts nests before the female arrives, and she decides which one will be "Home, Sweet Home" to her babies.   She must have selected "Door Number 3", for finally, after a little bit of time went by, the third one down the line "took" and was completed and eggs were deposited.

Not long before the four young phoebes departed their nest (I missed it - they left sometime during the day when I was gone), I saw the momma bird sitting on the railing with a moth in her mouth.  It was in head first with wings spread out on either side of her bill.  It looked like she was smiling or had a mustache.

Pheed Me

"Hurry mother,
need another!"
A bug refill
In momma's bill -
Moth wings spread wide
From side to side -
Her mustached grin 
Will soon drop in
That nested peak
Of lifted beaks.
"Next could we try
Some dragonfly?" 
©Donna JT Smith, 2015, all rights reserved

I am still disappointed in the sound of a phoebe.  When I was a little girl, my mother had told me that a phoebe says "phoebe".  For years when I heard phoebes calling, I was thrilled to hear them!  I love that sound!

While listening to the birds, occasionally I would hear what seemed like a broken phoebe.  It's voice was harsh, and almost sounded like a phoebe with laryngitis... it was more like it was saying "feed me" than "phoebe".  And there was definitely no polite "please" involved.  I felt bad for the poor phoebe who couldn't sing!

Then one day I was looking at those Audubon birds that you squeeze and they make the bird's sound.  I picked up a black capped chickadee, Maine's state bird, and gave it a squeeze, expecting to hear it's "chick-a-dee-dee-dee", but instead I heard "phoebe"....
Well, certainly this must have been a mistake.  Someone put the wrong voice box in this chickadee!  Phoebe's say "phoebe" and chickadees say "chick-a-dee", right?

After a bit of research online on various bird web sites, I discovered that the hoarse, throaty "feed-me" was actually the true phoebe sound, and the chickadee said both its name and the phoebe's name.  And, to add insult to injury, it said "phoebe" much more clearly, musically and politely than a phoebe ever could.

I wonder if Mom ever knew that, or if I just heard the chickadee once and assumed it was a phoebe saying it, and didn't ask about it.  I'm adjusting to the new association of sound and bird.

I was visiting with my sister last week I heard a phoebe call and asked her if she knew that chickadees said "phoebe".  No, she did not.   She was as disappointed as I.  Hopefully, she will get used to the new voice of the phoebes and chickadees, too.

Just when you think you couldn't possibly hold another morsel - your brain calls out "Feed me!".

Morsels to feed you -

Here's a YouTube with all the calls of a Chickadee:

This one below starts out with a chickadee image but then goes to the phoebe that the person recording notices.  The phoebe's call is then recorded instead of the chickadee's.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fisherman Senryu Two

Good morning!  It's Poetry Friday!

My fisherman doorstop from last Friday's Roundup was still on my countertop a few days ago (I told you he didn't have a job), and he just spoke to me again.  This time, I added my first "little watercolor" using my new real watercolors on real paper as a backdrop for writing another poem in his honor!

He's a fun study.  Such a magnetic personality!
The Fisherman

Man of sea and shore
Smiling eyes blue as water
His laugh like thunder

©Donna JT Smith, 2015 

Then I put my fisherman in his rightful place (where he thinks he has a job, but there is no door to hold) and then decided to switch the picture to a watercolor that I did with my grandson's watercolor set that I keep here for his visits.  They are the typical paints in the round pots in a plastic container.  These paints, though they do make colors, have a tendency to want to give you "pieces of paint" instead of blending nicely.  The best thing about them is that they are what made me decide to get a few tubes of paint and some better paper than index cards.
I used pen on a small index card to draw a basic outline of the lupines and then painted.  This one is pretty small, and I know it is not going to win any awards (unless for sheer bravery for putting it online for the world to see), BUT it was fun, and it gave me a poem.  And fun and poetry are what it's all about in my world.

Blooming wild flowers
Field of purple summer smiles
Happy morning walk

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Now it's time to head over to another spot in Maine, where Kimberly Moran is hosting 
the Poetry Friday Roundup today!  She has posted a thought-provoking poem about writing by Seamus Heaney.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Poetry Swap 2

My husband gets the mail.
A big envelope is in the box.
"That's big writing."
"Oh, that's my second poem.  Must be from Tabatha; she emailed it was on its way soon."
I open it as we drive (our mailbox is about a mile away from our house).
"Oooh!  That's so nice (as I pull out the penned letter "D"). 
"She says she wrote a word poem - a modified sonnet - from a word that was in ebullient abundance on my blog - "imagination"."
I read the note aloud to him.
I read the poem aloud, also.
"Imagination, huh.  I don't think I've ever used that word.  Is it really in "ebullient abundance on my blog"?
"Of course it is.  You really need to read your blog."

And, as I told Tabatha in my reply email,
"If I'd been drinking a latte, it would have been out my nose, the laugh came so suddenly, unexpectedly and forcefully!
See, I don't even know what I'm doing or what I'm about.  I like that others can see it though!"

So I have gone back and read bits of my blog.  Why just at the end of May I used the word "imagine" and "imagining"...  Tabatha is right.

Here is her beautiful, thoughtful poem, with its own ebullience!  And with a beautifully penned letter D:

Donna, Undeterred
©Tabatha Yeatts, all rights reserved

Imagination is a word
With arms stretching wide

Harboring artistry inside -
Imagination is a word

With whimsy preferred
And sunniness supplied -

Imagination is a word
With lengthy legs that stride

Untethered and untied,
Undaunted and undeterred.

I love it.  Thank you, Tabatha!  I love "with whimsy preferred and sunniness supplied"...and that you sneaked in "harboring"!

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!  Head over to Katie at The Logonauts to put more poetry in your day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Slice of Cows and Poetry

I was doing a bit of Internet research yesterday for some poetry I’m working on.  I like to read articles and find out as much as I can before embarking on new writing topics.
While I was puttering around on the Internet, I came across the horrific story of children’s author, Babette Cole, author of Princess Smartypants.
On June 15, she was out walking her two terriers in a field, when cows with their calves approached.  The cows attacked her and her dogs, appearing to be attempting to kill her and the dogs, perhaps seeing them as a threat to their calves.
A man and woman were looking at a nearby house that was for sale, and they then decided to walk the land. The cows in the neighboring field seemed to be in some sort of commotion, so they looked over the fence, in time to see a dog hurtle through the air.  Looking down, they discovered Babette severely injured and bleeding.  The couple rescued her and she was flown to a hospital where she spent a week recovering from broken ribs, bruises and cuts requiring stitches.
Here is a link to the story:

This was a disconcerting story, and only goes to prove that no matter how cuddly and cute animals look, they are still animals, with animal instincts... and no remorse.

I may have to wait to continue my research and writing for today.  I’ve been put off a bit by this incident.  But this did come out of it, as I pondered the thoughts of the cows later that day.  And I got out my new set of watercolors, and bravely attempted a watercolor of a brown cow after searching through 50 or so pictures of cows online.  It's funny how you can know what a cow looks like right up until the minute you want to draw one, or paint one.
It's also funny how one little sidestep on a path can take you to an entirely different place than you were headed, but gets you somewhere interesting nonetheless.

Bought some watercolors last week...my first cow painting...
When the Cows Came Home

When the cows came home
they shuffled inside
lined up in the barn
and mooed and sighed,
And waited for corn
as they did every day,
And gave no hint
of going astray.
Their moos were the same,
Their tails slapped at flies,
And if you could ask them
They'd tell you no lies.
They had been naughty
though they didn’t know it;
they'd just done "whatever" -
their eyes didn’t show it -
no remorse nor guilt,
no heads hung in shame,
nor were they arrogant
after playing their game.
They were just cows -
cows doing their thing.
Just cud-chewing cows,
taking a swing
at anything threatening
their family’s contentment;
yet even still holding
no sign of resentment.
There are no bad cows -
there's only perception;
There’s always a reason -
though perhaps misconception -
So when cows come home
and have nothing to say,
you can try as you will, to ask
“how-now-brown-cow, was your day?’
But you’ll never know
they'll not tell you more -
No ways, whys and hows
of benign bovine lore.

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Have a wonderful Tuesday, Slicers!  Don't forget to link at Two Writing Teachers today with your Tuesday Slice of Life!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Poetry Friday Roundup is Here

Posting early to let people start their Friday early....and to make sure there are no problems with the postings!
Welcome to Poetry Friday Mainia! It is a fun-filled five days in our area with Bath's Heritage Days in full swing!  I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July on Saturday.
Meanwhile, back at our poetry party - join in the poetry action by adding your information below.

Fill in the first part with your name or web page name - title or poem offering. Your email won't show up, but then put in your unique URL to the page for today:

Hope you enjoy reading lots of poetry to get your holiday started. 

Below, is an old iron doorstop that my parents had for many years.  It's now at my home.  I don't really need any doors held open, but he enjoys a nice spot on the floor near a door in the livingroom.
After my Tuesday post about the Coincidental Seagull, I picked up my cast iron fisherman and set him on the kitchen countertop.  I looked at the magnetic words on the side of the refrigerator and assembled this poem.  It just seemed to fit him. 
Then I took down some rocks I have on the kitchen windowsill to add to the rocky coast as a scene for his photo.  These are rocks I collected on a trip to Newfoundland my siblings and mother took to do genealogy on my father's family.
The whole setting reminded me of my grandfather who came down to the States from his fishing village of Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, as a young married man with a little baby girl.  My uncle and father were born here a few years later. 

Come listen, child;
the morning wind breathes 
and leaves
a cloud
of fish.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Slice of Coincidental Seagull

This past Friday, for Poetry Friday, I posted a beautiful poem that Keri Collins Lewis wrote for me as part of a Summer Poetry Swap that Tabatha Yeatts organizes.

She sent me this wonderful poem placed on a picture of a seagull soaring.  Both picture and poem were special to me.  Part of the reason is that I'd fairly recently begun collecting some "things seagull" to put in our retirement home, Gull Haven, across the road from the ocean.  I posted my pictures of seagulls that inhabit my current home (still very close to the sea) just after the Keri's poem.

One of the comments on the post that day was from Linda Baie.  In her comment she stated, "I'm going to send a picture to you of a sea gull perched on a piling (I think) that I found in an antique shop when I was on the Chesapeake Bay with my students. I collect little iron animals, this was a lovely "find"."

Then she emailed me this picture, below, of her seagull find:
He is so cute!  What a neat "find"!

I mentioned to her that my parents had been antique dealers/shop owners for most of my life, and that after their death, my brother had taken over the antique shop.

Guess what.
She emailed me back saying that her brother is an antique dealer, too.
Wow!  Now that's a neat coincidence, but we're not done yet.

On Saturday morning, my husband and I usually go out for breakfast.   Well, on our way there, we drove by an indoor flea market and an antique co-op where my brother has an area with some of his stuff.  My husband suggested that we go in and look around after eating.  I love doing that, so we headed there when we had finished our meal.

We strolled through the flea market items, and then we headed over to the antiques portion of the mill building to just browse.

I had just glanced at the items in two big glass cases and was rounding the corner to a peruse the third, when staring at me from the second shelf at the far end of the display, was this:

Really and truly!

So, what do you think I did?

Oh, yes, I did.  You knew I had to.

Of course,
  • when someone just happens to send you a poem with a seagull on it,
  • and you just happen to share your collection of seagulls to prove how amazing that coincidence is
  • and another blogger friend hundreds and hundreds of miles away just happens to comment and emails you a picture to show you part of an animal collection she has that includes a seagull
  • and then your husband just happens to suggest going into a shop you haven't been in in for years
  • and then you just happen to see amongst the thousands of items in the shop the very same seagull you saw in the blogger friend's picture the day before...

well, I think you are supposed to buy it and take it home.  Don't you?

So I did.

Doesn't he look happy?

If you haven't gone by other Slicers yet... they are waiting at Two Writing Teachers... see if some nice coincidences happen to happen to you today!
Let me know if they do!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Whole Lotta Poetry Goin' On

It is Poetry Friday and time to celebrate poets and poetry and all that is poetic.  To find more poetically collected links today, please visit  Carol's Corner, where Carol is our hostess today.  Thank you, Carol!

Next week, I will be hosting Poetry Friday RIGHT HERE at Mainely Write!  That will be on July 3rd - the same weekend we have summer in Maine.  Eeesh!  Maybe I don't have to put that snow shovel away - winter's going to be here again before you know it!

There are a few links I'd like to share here today for Poetry Friday:

For poetry connections today I, and others, have poems posted on Michelle H. Barnes site, Today's Little Ditty, where Michelle is posting the June challenge poetry.  Corey Rosen Schwartz has challenged us to write about building a treehouse, using unpredictable  multisyllabic rhyming words.  I submitted "Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses".  Go to Today's Little Ditty to read it and more treehouse poems for June.

Then Keri Collins Lewis, at Keri Recommends is sharing the poem that I sent her as our first swap of the summer.  The poem I wrote and sent to her was written after reading many of her posts over the past year.  It really is something I'd like to do more of - reading older posts.  Often we pop into the middle of a blogger's life, and there is so much more we could learn just by reading. This fun in the sun activity is organized by Tabatha Yeatts of The Opposite of Indifference.

Lastly and bestly, I'd like to share the awesome poem by Keri that she sent to me for the Summer Poetry Swap.    Keri must have read a few of my posts, because she sent me a beautiful laminated picture of a seagull soaring.  Here's the picture with poem:
                                        She soars on the edge of the world
                                        drops ideas onto the rocks below,
                                        then picks out the scrumptious words - -
                                        meaty morsels to sustain her
                                        until she hatches a new poem.

                                       © Keri Collins Lewis, all rights reserved

Isn't that beautiful?  I love it!  I love the picture; I love, love the poem.  And it seems to fit how I work.  I like picturing the process this way.  I can almost see myself "dropping ideas", like mussels, onto the rocks below.  I love "scrumptious words", and "hatches a new poem"!

This also prompted me to go around my house and find my seagulls...of which I have a few... (I may have missed some)
Seagull pillow

Seagull framed tile

Two seagulls perched on a cork lid

Two welcoming seagulls

Two flying seagulls

How did she know it would be just perfect?

I've already sent out my second poem for the swap.  I don't know how long it will take to get to its destination.  I'm staying out of this part of the process now.  If you've been to Keri's site, you now know the story behind the poem I sent to her.  I am hoping this second one goes more smoothly!  I'm not even going to check this time.  Well, not yet anyway.

Have a great day... read more poems! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Today's Little Ditty Challenge

Today's Little Ditty: DMC: "Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses" by Donn...: "Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses" - One day when a girl named Miss Moldysocks Was traipsing through woods and on river rocks, She spied...

To read my "rest of it", go visit Today's  Little Ditty where Michelle H. Barnes is hosting.  It's part of a challenge given by Corey Rosen Schwartz to write a multisyllablic rhyme about building a treehouse.  Fractured ( and fractioned) fairy tales were mentioned, so I used that format.  Then in a prior post, last Thursday, limericks by Robert Schechter, so I employed that poetic format.
Thanks for featuring my poem today, Michelle!

I know, I need to do the wash and vacuum sometime soon....

Friday, June 19, 2015

Good Day

Happy Tire

My "low pressure indicator" last week, said that one of my tires was low.  They looked fine, so I ignored it.  Then, a few days later the front driver's side tire looked like it was low when I was out shopping.  I called my husband, as I usually do for car issues, and he came out with a compressor and filled my tire more.  It was low by a few pounds.
All was good for a few days.  Then the light came on again while I was out and about.  I looked at the tire, and it did look low again.  My husband was out of town now though, so no calling him for assistance.  However, I was pretty close to a shop that did our oil changes and tire work, so I opted to drive the short distance to see if they had time to check my tire.  They are amazing.  They took me right in and got me on the road again in no time.  I think I was there all of 15 minutes.
And while I was there, I wrote because that is what I do when I wait and I have my iPad with me (or a receipt, or a napkin, or a plain, light colored skirt).

Good Day

"It's been a long day"
He sighs and takes my keys.
"Yeah, but at least
It's been cool,"
I try to stay at ease.
I want it to be
A good day,
Not just long.
The car rises high
on the lift -
Pneumatic's song
Of whine and wail;
Piercing, drilling
Into my brain -
I hear my wheel
Bounce off the concrete.
In the orange room
I wait to hear the verdict:
Long day
Or good day?
"You had a nail.
That'll be $19.96."
"That's not too bad," I offer,
as I rise from the chair.
"Nope. Cheap fix;
Better than new tires."
"Thanks, have a good day!"
I toss to him,
As he tosses my key;
Off I sail,
Time and money
to spare,
Both under twenty,
Is a great day,

Now I think I hear the sounds of other poets out there milling about....go check out Poetry Friday offerings being hosted at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another Poet is Born

It's Poetry Friday! Yea!
And do I have a treat for you!
But before that, thanks, Jama, for hosting the Roundup today at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Make sure you go there and enjoy the fare!

On Monday, I went to school to do my usual reading and writing with second graders.  And as usual, I had a blast.  I am always delighted to have students greet me in the hallways again, as I did when I taught.  But these days it is a different greeting.

"Are you going to read with me?"
"Are you going to take me?"
"Is it my turn?"

Sadly, I cannot take them all!  And I hear the disappointed "Aw" when they aren't the one to come with me to a quiet corner to read or write for a few minutes in their day.  Now, remember, I was a long time classroom teacher, so I know most of the yearning I'm hearing is for a walk down the hall, or a potential break in what they were doing.  I'm not naive, but it is still nice.

Monday was like all the other days, even though we are close to the end of the school year now.  The students are still reading and writing up a storm - especially writing poetry lately.
This day, I got to write with a wonderful, eager student for a little while, and because she was so enthusiastic and it was our second time working together, we got a lot out of our brief time!

I asked her what she needed to do...

Abby:  Write a poem. And I want it to rhyme. Or maybe not -

Me: Ok.  How about doing an acrostic?  Do you know what an acrostic poem is?

Abby: Uh, no.

Me:  Let me show you.

I explained what an acrostic was briefly, and then we wrote an acrostic poem together using "FROGS", with me modeling the format and her offering some words - like amphibian and lilypad, gobble and pond.
Here's what we came up with:

Me: Okay, now it's your turn.  What are your favorite animals?

Abby: Birds! No, not birds. Robins! Hawks! And parrots! Parakeets!  I really like parakeets!

Me: How about bears or deer? Octopus or fish?

Abby: Yes, I like all of them! But I really like parakeets!

Me: Well, parakeets is pretty long for your first acrostic.  How about trying Robin first? (I know, I should have gone with parakeets, but it seemed truly a difficult one to start with!)

Abby:  Ok.  I like robins.

Me: What is there about a robin that could begin with the first letter, R?

Abby: Red!  They are red all over.

Me:  Are you sure?  I think they are red or orange only in one part.

She was pretty sure they were red all over, so I suggested that we look them up on the computer to be sure what they really looked like.

I did a search (because I don't like having a student do searches unless I have already used the search terms prior to their search) and came up with a great page that showed adult robins, robin eggs in a nest and some baby robins.  I read the description of a robin to her.

When I told her that we could also listen to the robin's song on the page, she was very excited.  She put on a headset and listened intently, adjusting the volume.  Her face lit up.  "It's beautiful!" she shouted (headsets will do that), and she promptly hit "play" again.
I suggested that she might be able to identify a robin now just by it's song, even if she couldn't see it.

Me:  Now, let's get back to your poem.  Maybe that information will help you write your poem.

Abby hunched over her paper and began to write.  I pointed to the O in "on" she had written on the first line, and she quickly realized it could go to the next line for the O in "ROBIN".

When she got to the letter B and hesitated, I just asked her to think of what we'd learned about robins.  I expected "bird" perhaps, but she began writing "blue eggs" instead, and the rest continued to flow out easily.

She read it to herself and edited it before she read it aloud, fixing the spelling of "feathers" on her own. We discussed "it's" versus "its" for her to determine which it should be.
Then, finally, she read it to me.

Me: And you made it rhyme!

Abby:  I did?

Me:  Read it again.

She read it aloud again.

Abby: I did!

And here's the promised treat: a rhyming acrostic for ROBIN:

Red feathers
On its chest,
Blue eggs
In the

by Abby, Grade 2

Isn't it great?  I wish I had written it!
Another poet is being sent on to third grade and beyond!
Congratulations, Abby!  Well done!

Now how about that parakeet poem?