Watching Whales

I know it has been some time since my big vacation into Canada and then Alaska but I did promise some photos and details of that adventure. So hold onto your hats!
First and foremost was the Whale Watching Tour in Juneau, Alaska. To preface this you have to know that Sparky, being the frugal minded fellow that he is, booked our tour through an independent company instead of through the cruise. After listening to Daniel the Naturalist on board the cruise ship talk about the whales, his interest and then the scheduled whale watching expedition we were sure we has wasted our money. We wondered if 18 hours was enough time to cancel and get a refund. But we didn’t have internet or phone service so the point was moot.

With very low expectations we boarded the little boat (could seat 16 not counting the Captain) and cruised out of the harbor. We passed sailing vessels and other little boats (which were novel for me thus the photo). For the first half hour we saw – water. Finally we spotted far away some spouting. The captain moved us closer.

We thought, “Wow! We saw a whale and even the tail!” Because our expectations were low, we were very happy. Then we moved a little closer. There were 2 females with calves and a pod of 4 other whales… They got really close to the boat. Because there were only about 8 of us onboard we were able to go out on the front and back of the boat (I did go out very briefly). Sparky ran his phone battery out taking pictures (mostly of water because he was too slow). I was more patient and got a couple decent pictures.

The whales were very active and the little ones were especially entertaining. One calf must have breached 20 times (I’m pretty sure that’s an underestimate). The other calf was practicing doing headstands in the water and would stick its tail out of the water and just wave it around and then slap the surface – again at least 15 times… And this was happening really close to the boat. But Carolyn Broughton (a fellow cruise passenger) with an expensive camera, got lots of really spectacular photos (which she shared with me)! This is what we saw and couldn’t capture (because phone cameras are not a real substitute for a professional set up).

   
We definitely got our money’s worth! And the funny part was trying to keep from spoiling other’s fun. The cruise sponsored whale watching was what we had expected – see a couple spouting whales, see a few humps out of the water, and maybe if you are really lucky see a tail come out of the water as they dive. And our fellow passengers were really pleased with their experiences. Sparky and I just smiled and congratulated them and then gave each other knowing little smiles.

Looking at Love

This is the final post in the My Name scavenger hunt – Write The Anna or a Dr. Stella poem. I chose The Anna. Which was created by James Gray in honor of the poet and news columnist Anna Nash. This form is an unrhymed 7 line form with a strict meter requirement and uses the theme of love.

What kind of love
Waits for me to arrive
Greets me with kisses warm and wild
Patiently listens to my tales of woe
Shares my cooking without complaint
Doesn’t fight for TV control?
Pure canine love!

I’m mostly a cat person. I attribute this to my parents having pet cats before I was born and continuing until my parents moved into an apartment – just a year before I had my first child. My mother had a cattery and raised Persians and Himalayans (back when they were considered separate breeds in the US). Anyway I’ve always been very comfortable around cats but working in a vet clinic introduced me to a variety of pets. Then Veterinary School let me fall in love with dogs. I still like cats but with all the cat allergies in the family, a cat is not in my future. So we have a dog. She is sweet and well mannered and smart too. In fact she has many cat-like qualities. No matter how hard she may try, she is still a dog, a dog with the exuberance of demonstrating just how much she loves her people. And yes, we are definitely her people now!
Mochi has been on the go all the time! She loves the dog park and to visit with everyone in the neighborhood on her three times a day walks. She is still afraid of dog toys and refuses to have anything to do with even the stuffed toys (we tried but if it so much as makes a crinkling noise she is hiding behind the sofa)! Still she loves to be brushed. Her love language is to be with people. I mean in close proximity, like touching. If she can put a foot on you or better curl up on your lap, she is the most contented dog in the world….

Looking Like a Bird

Be a bird
Poison words build up and stack
Let insults run like water off a duck’s back
Above the drama take wing and soar
Fly from troubled shore
Climb up high
Touch the sky
By the sun be kissed
Thermal and air current aid enlist
Feathers unruffled, you can’t be bothered now
Smart crow perched on topmost bough
Bird’s the word

This is the 12th prompt for the My Name scavenger hunt – Write a Jay’s Way or write using a bird metaphor. Well, I was inspired to combine them into one poem. The Jay’s Way is a form created by Chazz Combs consisting of 12 lines that are both syllabic and rhyming. The syllable count is: 3/7/11/9/5/3/3/5/9/11/7/3 and the rhyme scheme is: a/b/b/c/c/d/d/e/e/f/f/a.

My mother would often tell me to let the opinion of others “roll off like water from a duck’s back”. She would urge me to rise above the pettiness and to be aware of my strengths. She did much to build my self esteem. There were times, especially in middle school, where that advice seemed inadequate. Still she repeated it more often than the criticisms of detractors and false friends. I suppose I was very fortunate that my mother and father were my biggest cheerleaders and fans. It set me up to be able to say, “The opinion of others doesn’t concern me.” It let me see clearly and challenge the narrative of my bullies.

Looking at Anarchy

Hate
Boils over
The mob chants death threats
Marches to government’s seat
Attacks, plunders, and destroys
That which we hold dear
Law

Order
Turns chaos
Anarchy the rule
Might makes right the tyrant says
Sedition turns to treason
Democracy burns
Down

This is the eleventh prompt – Write a Joseph’s Star poem or write an acrostic decima with the words: super, technicolor, coat, stars. I decided to write the Joseph’s Star, a poetry form created by Christina Jussaume in memory of her father. The poem has stanzas of 7 lines (no limit to the number of stanzas) with no rhyme, and no topic restrictions. Each stanza has a strict syllable count of 1/3/5/7/7/5/1, center aligned, and each stanza should be a complete statement.

I was cleaning up my files and realized I’d downloaded video from most of the Jan. 6 Hearings. In anticipation of the last (perhaps) televised session, I did something very foolish. I sat there for 9 hours and watched the videos. I’m not sure that was good for my mental well-being. The Jan. 6th Commission presented their findings and I don’t see in the public a willingness to change opinions. If anything, those who felt the need to try to overthrow our democracy are more entrenched in their beliefs. I don’t know what this means for the future. But I’ve seen the way some countries react to a change in administrations (violent riots, attempted coups, assassinations) and I’m afraid for our democracy. I’m afraid for the world. I’m afraid.

It is also near the end of September and I realized I hadn’t posted my recipe for this month. Well, I decided to make another decadent dessert but one that Sparky would (hopefully) like better. I went with Black Forest Cake:
Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 can cherry pie filling
1 box chocolate cake mix

Mix all ingredients together (please for the love of cherries DO NOT use an electric mixer – just use a mixing spoon).
Grease and flour a 9″x13″ baking pan. Pour the cake mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 60 min. at 350F. It is done when the center springs back with slight pressure.

Allow to cool and then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. There is no need to apply frosting to this cake but I suppose if you are intent on doing so either a chocolate or cherry frosting would be best. Sparky really liked it as did his mother and his Aunt Pat (who was visiting). They liked it so much that both my MIL and her sister asked for the recipe!!

Looking for Gold

When Man First Loved Gold
It glows
Golden
Dazzles all men
Lust
Cause war, grab wealth
Compete
Sin’s wage
Death
Root cause
Filthy lucre
Moral decay
Complete

This fulfills prompt #10 in the My Name scavenger hunt to write a Golda or write a poem about gold. The form was created by Golda Walker. It is composed of 12 lines with a monorhyme on line 6 and 12. All other lines are unrhymed. The syllable count is:2/2/4/1/4/2/2/1/2/4/4/2.

My mother had strong opinions about money. First and foremost she believed that you should control money and not let money control you. In other words getting paid was good and just but there were certain things that no amount of money would justify participation. In fact we learned early that money was supposed to be used for the betterment of people and money that didn’t do good was considered “dirty money” or as my mother would say with disgust dripping, “filthy lucre”. She considered monetary greed to be one of the worst sins. Her opinion of the ultra wealthy, well, she was not given to cursing, but I heard her mutter things like, “greedy elitists”, “conspicuous consumerism”, “self-serving”, “moral bankruptcy” and “conceited leeches”. She had an opinion on Elon Musk spending millions to put other rich people into space and it wasn’t complimentary… I can’t say I disagree completely. She left me a tidy sum of money and I can hear her saying, “Do some good.”

Looking at the Danger

Beware the stormy land
Beware the wicked beasts that prowl at night
Twice as treacherous as ocean to man
When dark deeds come to light

Heed the warning I give
Do not tarry, follow the mapped out way
Tread the straight and narrow roadway to live
Best make the trip by day

Bandits lurk with sharp knives
To ambush foolish travelers on the road
Without conscience making widows of wives
Watch life blood as it flowed

I’ve seen the mayhem wrought
Deep sea or cave pales at man’s heart so dark
I’ve known the chaos of lives sold and bought
Human beasts bears the mark

This is prompt #9 in the My Name scavenger Hunt – Write a Bryant or write a poem about politics. A Bryant is a poem created by Viola Berg. The poem should describe observations of nature as metaphors for the social or political world. It consists of any number of 4 line stanzas where lines 1 & 4 are written in trimeter and lines 2 & 3 are written in pentameter and the shorter lines are indented. The rhyme scheme is a/b/a/b, c/d/c/d, etc. (I really tried but just couldn’t get those lines indented so I gave up – just squint and pretend.)

This week was going well, so well that I knew it wouldn’t last. There are people who rale against nature. They are afraid of the wildness of the outdoors, the unpredictability of weather, the untamed animals, the ferocity of insects. They want to subdue all of nature. Yet the wildest and most untamed in all the world is the destructive, vindictive, blackest heart of mankind. I think that humans are incapable of sustaining peace. I’m becoming convinced that they thrive on war and death. Is it possible to divorce myself from my own species??

Looking at Kings

He woos with words to soon engage
Her heart he binds with love’s fine string
Of lying hearts she knows nothing
Trust and faith is her heritage
With joy she joins the wedding dance
And to the marriage bed they prance
The vows they sealed has set the stage
For surprise at betrayal’s sting

Her youth has fled before her age
Inward weeps while to babe she sings
Trapped and caged she can’t change a thing
She cleans and cooks his mood assuage
Irons shirts and pants to gain a chance
For education to enhance
Her skills, but he begins to rage
“You forget I’m sovereign king!”

This is a Coraline for prompt #8 in the My Name scavenger hunt. The Coraline is a poem created by Lisa Morris. It is composed of 2 octaves (8 line stanzas) of 8 syllables per line preferably in iambic tetrameter with a rhyme scheme of a/b/b/a/c/c/a/b.

This one was inspired by reading some genealogy. Mary married at the old age of 18 to Roma, a man 36 years old. He was a widower with one daughter. She was surprised to find out that she was an instant mother. She bore him 6 additional daughters in 7 years. By the time she was 25 she looked like an old woman. The family portrait shows her to be worn and looking very unhappy while her husband looks regal and unconcerned with the children. According to the family history my mother recorded, Mary had been a good student but like so many girls ended her formal education in 8th grade. Her dream was to be a teacher but marriage and motherhood put an end to those dreams. When she was 31, her husband died leaving her with 7 girls to raise on her own. With no money, she was forced to move back to the farm her parents owned. I don’t know if she had a happy ending. But some things at least have changed since 1880…

Looking at Daisy Chains

Blooming fields of color bright
Bright in sun and at night
Night cannot hide the glow
Glow of Sunflowers in a row
Row upon row of Iris spears
Spears and wild flowers appear
Appear as a perfusion of delight
Delight that God has wrought this sight
Sight a miracle to see each one blooming

This is prompt #7 for the My Name scavenger hunt – Write a Daisy Chain poem or write a poem about flowers. So the Daisy Chain is a simple form where the last word in the line becomes the first word of the next line. To end the poem, the last word is the same as the first word. There are no rhyming, syllabic or meter requirements (or prohibitions) – just a chaining of words sort of like a Wreath Poem only easier!

What is there to say. I went out last Tuesday and snipped off and pulled out the dried or dying spears of my hostas and day lilies. I collected some seeds from the columbine before cutting the oddly beautiful stems and seed pods off the plants. What was left was a somewhat tidier garden but I also had the memories of these pretty flowers. That sent me back in time to the wonder of my childhood. Standing at the edge of the rolling, fallow fields where as far as the eye could see were blooming flowers (or weeds to some) – Queen Anne’s Lace, wild Daisies, blue Asters, Goldenrod, Purple Thistles, pink Milkweed, Coneflowers, and the wild Sunflowers and every fence covered with morning glories and poison ivy… Yes I said poison ivy. I can even appreciate it especially in late summer when it starts to turn a deep red with tinges of green and gold. Makes it easier to avoid than when it is all green in spring and summer…

Looking at the Flavor of Color

Again I am adding a post in addition to my regular schedule. I was compelled to do so for the W3 prompt offered by the Poet of the Week Aditi Sharma on the Skeptics Kaddish. Aditi challenged us to write a Pantoum about “anything dreamy, something non-existent in the real world, or just about your real-life dreams”. Because I love the Pantoum I couldn’t resist. Which is why you have to have stamina to read this poem all the way through. I considered chopping out part of it but, hey, I like it the way it is.

I see deep greens in azure streams
Murky depths where the light is low
My prism eyes detect the separate dreams
I feel the colors of the swirling flow

Murky depths where the light is low
Rough red and saffron through my hands
I feel the colors of the swirling flow
My crimson blood released to foreign lands

Rough red and saffron through my hands
I taste the tang of purple, indigo and drink it in
My crimson blood released to foreign lands
Running carmine and cobalt off lip and chin

I taste the tang of purple, indigo and drink it in
My mouth is not big enough to contain the swell
Running carmine and cobalt off lip and chin
I hear humming wave and chiming bell

My mouth is not big enough to contain the swell
Bass brown countered by soprano buzz of blues
I hear humming wave and chiming bell
My soul sings in counterpoint in forest green hues

Bass brown countered by soprano buzz of blues
Inviting me to become the water’s bride
My soul sings in counterpoint in forest green hues
I want to be washed, soaked in color, tie-dyed

Inviting me to become the water’s bride
I pray for more than black and white
I want to be washed, soaked in color, tie-dyed
No artist’s palette can contain the sight

I pray for more than black and white
My thoughts are drenched in grue and bleen
No artist’s palette can contain the sight
Hope is water wings glowing octarine*

My thoughts are drenched in grue and bleen**
My dreams float above the water line
Hope is water wings glowing octarine
Caught on fire and drowned in brine

My dreams float above the water line
I see deep greens in azure streams
Caught on fire and drowned in brine
My prism eyes detect the separate dreams

*Octarine, in the Discworld books, is known as ‘the colour of magic’, which forms the title of Pratchett’s first ever Discworld book. According to Disc mythology, octarine is visible only to wizards and cats, and is generally described as a sort of greenish-yellow purple colour.

** Grue and Bleen are sniglets to describe a color that extends to include shades of blue and green.  An alternative, meaning the same thing, is bleen, though linguists and anthropologists tend to use the term grue. 

Looking to Keep Secrets

What secrets silent roses keep
Secrets spilled from heart’s recess
Silent hold my fears confess
Roses catch the tears I weep
Keep locked away love’s excess

This is the 6th prompt for the My Name scavenger hunt – Write a poem using the form Emmett or write a poem about clowns. I chose to write an Emmett which is a form created by Dorothy Hester composed of 5 lines. The first line consists of 5 words which become the first word of subsequent lines based on order of appearance in that first line. Which means the 2nd word starts the 2nd line, the 3rd word starts the 3rd line, etc. And of course there is a rhyme scheme of a/b/b/a/b.

And why am I writing about flowers as secret keepers? Well, to make a long story short: I am prone to whispering my secrets to inanimate objects. This relieves me from the guilt of spilling secrets that I’ve sworn to keep. There isn’t much I keep from Sparky (though he really doesn’t care to hear about the interpersonal drama that sometimes occurs in the work place). Because I believe in the adage, “Whisper a secret into the ear of a friend and you shout it into the ear of the world.” I’m always careful about secrets. When I have something that needs to be said, I generally tell it to my stuffed rat “Scabbers” (ironic I know). The idea of telling a heart secret to cut roses is that when the roses die the secret dies with them. Sort of oddly symbolic… I was planning to use the Emmet to write about clowns but the muse decided I needed to let go of that notion. I guess you get what you get when you keep secrets.