nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Arthur – after the storm

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Over a week after Tropical Storm Arthur, I am thinking about the new pattern of life we adopted during our six days without electricity.  Without our usual electric lights, stove, refrigerator, computer and television, we adjusted our days.

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First there were candles.  I have lots of candles, but three pillars in the living room sent enough light into the main part of the house for navigation.   We also had our small flashlights.  They lit the darker rooms and made us safe on the stairs.

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The next ‘necessity’ was gasoline for the truck and for our small generator (2000 watt).  Although we began the storm with very little gasoline (we were not well prepared), we waited a couple of days to fill up, to avoid the long lineups for gas at the few stations open after the storm.  Since most all of Fredericton was without power for the first two days, so open gas stations, fast food places and grocery stores were hard to find!

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Once we had our generator working, we had a hot meal at supper time each evening, on our small electric hotplate.  By the end of the six days, we were using our generator for fans to keep the house cool and to watch DVDs on our television.

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Water, of course, is always a concern.  We had lots of water on hand, about 22 4-liter jugs I keep for emergencies.  We were able to buy drinking water and ice for our cooler, although these items were flying from the shelves!!!  By the end of our adventure, we had filled our jugs a couple of times, once at my son’s home (in the city, they had no power, but they did have water), and once from the Oromocto Fire Department who were so kind to us.

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On Day 6, workers from NB Power and Hydro-Quebec, and a tree trimming crew from Maine arrived to remove the trees from the downed lines on our road.  They worked all day to re-establish power to about 500 customers who depended on this particular line.  We were so grateful to them, knowing they had worked since the storm hit.  We were just one group among many waiting for power.  On Sunday, July 13, there were still 5000 customers without power in Fredericton.  By the time of this post, NB Power says most power will be restored.  It is certainly the longest power outage we have ever experienced in this province.

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three candles

three candles

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three candles

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between ruby glass

and hard wood floor

a slide of light and three

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extinguished candles

smoke lifts from smoulder

each mote a particle

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of spectral light, mosaic

shard, image

reassembled in three

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dimensions

shepherd, hawthorn

lamb

~

 

©  Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

July 16, 2014 at 7:14 am

Arthur – during the storm

with 2 comments

 

front yard during Arthur

front yard during Arthur

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trees in hurricane rain

trees in hurricane rain

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Arthur

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woods are a green ocean

swell, each oak a breaker, and pines

crash on the shore, withdraw, branches

lift and fall, lift and settle

maples gyrate, invert their leaves, backlit

waves, spray from every

blade, winds tug at petiole, green

debris on the deck, fallen stars

on the lawn, the wind a rumble, every

branch a knife, each trunk a bow, bent

beyond the stretch of fibre, trees heave

branches lash, in the woods a crack

pummels the growl of a chainsaw in

the neighbor’s yard

~

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bunches of leaves on the deck

bunches of leaves on the deck

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a crack in the branch of our maple

a crack in the branch of our maple

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 14, 2014 at 7:00 am

abandoned railroad siding

with 4 comments

Viceroy on rail

Viceroy on rail

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abandoned railroad siding

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a  viceroy butterfly, orange

leaded glass

and rows of wary eyes

naturally suspicious

settles on the slate-grey rail

flexes its wings, nonchalant

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as the black bear who

ambled the track

left a dump

of blackberry seed

undigested pulp

or the enthusiastic jumble of clovers

blooming between the ties

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rails are held between the trill

of insect and the quaver

of goldenrod, caught in the crossfire of sun

light focused through

signal lenses

and glass insulators

on unstrung

telephone poles

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turn toward horizon

rails merge and vanish

altered stride of railroad

walking made confident

by the absence of train

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railway crossing

railway crossing

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railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

remembering place – Grade One

with 6 comments

On a ‘mind map’ of my life, what places are clearly marked as important, with bright yellow stickpins of internal memory?

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home

home (map from Google Earth)

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Since I spent most of my younger days in school, it isn’t very surprising that many of those stickpins mark the schools I attended.  One of these is Vincent Massey Elementary School in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

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Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2006 - looks just the same as in the early 1960s

Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2012 – looks just the same as in the early 1960s (image from Street View)

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In the early 1960s there were three elementary schools within a reasonable distance of our house. The story of how I came to attend Vincent Massey was probably one of the first dramatic events in my life to that date.

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The school I was assigned to attend was determined by the School Board.   The summer just before I was to attend school for the first time, a delegate of the School Board came around the neighborhood to let the parents know which school their children would attend.  Mom and Dad were not at home when the representative came to call.  My Mom got the information second-hand, from the mother of my best friend, just across the street.

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from home to school in Grade One

from home to school in Grade One (map from Google Earth)

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Mom and Dad were quite alarmed to discover I was to go to Vincent Massey Elementary School, seven blocks away.  This may not seem far today - my son attended Grade One in a community 13 kilometers away.  But in those days, there was no school bus and my Mom had my eighteen-month-old brother to care for.  I would have to get to school on my own two feet.

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My brother and I in 1960 - I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken - I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

My brother and I in 1960 – I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken – I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

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I remember the discussions well – about the best route for me to take, about what we would do about dinner time, about the dangers of taking to strangers.  We did a couple of dry runs.  I can still remember my Mom showing me how to cross the busy four-lane Division Avenue.  Up to this point, I had not been allowed to go beyond our own block by myself.

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Division Avenue

Division Avenue in 2012 (image from Street View) – I remember standing on the curb looking at the traffic whizzing back and forth … no crosswalk!!!!

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The first day at school, the drama expanded.  Mom had told me to be very careful to listen for my first name – Alexandra.  I was usually called by my second name – Jane – so this was a major worry for me.  On that first morning, all the students were assembled in the gymn.  We sat on the floor and our names were called, one by one.  I listened for that long, strange first name as each name was called.  And, at the very end, I was all alone in the gymn … no one had called the name Alexandra.

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The teachers were very nice, of course.  I was told not to worry, and Mrs. MacDonald, a teacher of one of the Grade One classes, came to get me.

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As it turned out, the neighbor had given my Mom the wrong information.  Today, knowing urban planning as I do, I think ‘Division Avenue’ might have provided the first clue!!!!

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I had a great year.  I walked to school with friends.  We stuck to the planned route for a while, but ended up taking shortcuts through various yards.  By the end of the year, I was taking the city bus, dropping my quarter into the slot like a pro.  I stayed with Mrs. MacDonald for my first year of school and emerged from the grade convinced that rabbit was spelled ‘raddit’ (no fault of the teacher’s).

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Mrs. McDonald's Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

Mrs. McDonald’s Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

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The next year, properly directed by the School Board, I was sent to Crescent Heights Elementary School, two blocks away, and another stickpin on my ‘mind map’ …

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

colour transfers

with 6 comments

As I was preparing my eco-bundles for steaming ( https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/an-attempt-at-ecoprinting/  ), I was thinking the words ‘heat’ and ‘steam’ – after 30 years of ironing my husband’s work shirts every morning, these words mean ‘steam iron’ to me.  So I wondered if it would be possible to transfer the colour of a flower to cloth using my iron.

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So far, I have tried two species:  Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) from under our apple trees, and Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) from the roadside …

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basket of Bugleweed

basket of Bugleweed

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I placed the flowers between two layers of cotton, sprayed the material with water and pressed down with the steam iron set on medium.  I pressed fairly hard and ironed the cloth/flower sandwich until it was dry.  Then I wetted it again and continued until I had transferred the colour …

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using the steam iron to transfer colour from Birdsfoot trefoil to cotton

using the steam iron to transfer colour from Birdsfoot trefoil to cotton

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It took five successive sets of wetting and pressing to obtain the colour.  The blues of Bugleweed turned out best …

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colour transfers from Bugleweed (the pale green in the background is made with leaves from my rosebush)

colour transfers from Bugleweed (the pale green in the background is made with leaves from my rosebush)

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But the yellow colour from petals and stems of the Birdsfoot trefoil also came out well …

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colour transfers from Birdsfoot trefoil

colour transfers from Birdsfoot trefoil

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Now I have two new colour patterns to add to my future ‘harvesting colour’ quilt !

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colour transfers using Bugleweed and Birdsfoot trefoil

colour transfers using Bugleweed and Birdsfoot trefoil

~

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

June 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

harvesting colour … colour of the harvest

with 6 comments

On our weekend drive from Canterbury to McAdam, I saw another aspect of the ‘harvesting colour’ theme.  Anywhere you travel in New Brunswick, you usually come across wood harvesting activity and Highway 630 was no exception.  About half way along, a turn in the road brought us to a large forest harvest.

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forest harvesting operation

forest harvesting operation

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The wood from the cut was stacked into gigantic walls.

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wall of cut wood

wall of cut wood

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The clearcut laid the land quite bare.  It will be many years before this area returns to the hardwood habitat typical of the area, if at all.

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030

spruce and fir

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The wood from the cutting had been piled according to species.  The colours of the cut wood were quite distinctive.  The largest colour contrast was between the pale almost white, ash …

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026

ash

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025

ash

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and the very orange wood of the  spruce and fir …

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027

spruce and fir

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I have no particular point to make, except to honour the very individual characteristics of these trees.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

June 23, 2014 at 8:57 am

an attempt at ecoprinting

with 6 comments

After our drive to Canterbury over the weekend, I was anxious to capture some of the roadside flower colour in my ‘harvesting colour’ experiments.  I decided to try a technique described by India Flint in her book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles (Interweave Press, 2010).  ‘Ecoprinting’ involves bringing a plant into close contact with a fabric  in order to transfer the colour to the cloth.  I am very impressed with the effects shown in Eco Colour - prints of leaves, flowers and berries.

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For my experiment I tried a handful of the Forget-me-nots I collected on our weekend drive …

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Forget-me-nots in the woods

Forget-me-nots in the woods

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a bundle of the purple Lupins growing along the road in my community …

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Lupins along the road

Lupins along the road

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and a bunch of a ground cover plant growing in my yard, Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) …

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Bugleweed in the orchard

Bugleweed in the orchard

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basket of Bugleweed

basket of Bugleweed

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I only used small samples of cloth … my idea is to use these ‘patches’ to make a little quilt to show the results of my ‘colour harvest’.  I arranged a few of the flowers, both petals and leaves, inside the cloth  …

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Forget-me-nots on cotton

Forget-me-nots on cotton

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Lupin petals and leaves on cotton

Lupin petals and leaves on cotton

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Bugleweed on cotton

Bugleweed on cotton

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Then I folded the cloth in half, enclosing the flowers like a sandwich …

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flowers folded in cotton

flowers folded in cotton

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and rolled the cloth up tightly …

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rolling the bundle tightly

rolling the bundle tightly

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and tied it with cotton thread …

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flower and cotton bundles

flower and cotton bundles

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I put my bundles in a wire basket and steamed them for an hour …

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flower and cotton bundles steaming  (as usual I have thrown in a bit of woods and sky)

flower and cotton bundles steaming (as usual I have thrown in a bit of woods and sky)

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After cooling, I opened the bundles, discarded the leaves and flowers, and rinsed the cloth.  I was quite pleased with the results.  After ironing, I have a pale array of colour.  The Bugleweed left a definite lime green.  The Lupin a more indefinite green and pale violet.  The Forget-me-nots left a faint violet-grey.

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pale colour

pale colour

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I did not get the flower and leaf impressions I expected, but I will keep trying.  There are so many variables, steaming time and ‘unbundling’ time among them.  I do hope to see that lovely lime green again!!!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 20, 2014 at 7:17 am

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