love is a place…yes is a world

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Note: This is the “Love Post” we sent to family and friends last year.  As usual, this year’s post will be sent “late,” but I’ll be sure to share it after everyone receives it. 😉 For now, read slowly and savor every movement ofwith, and through love and life.

Mini Collection: Poetry on Postcards

If you love poetry and postcards, you’ll love poetry on postcards.  That was the title of a series of swaps hosted by MissWhimsy in the “Book Lovers Congregate” group on swap-bot.  The series ran quite regularly for several months, so I have a lot to share. However, I don’t want to overload your brain with too much poetry in one post, so I’ll showcase a selection of the postcards now and save the others for another time.  In fact, as I considered which postcards to share, I thought of my British Literature students who have been doing an excellent job micro-teaching Renaissance, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Victorian poets. For the last couple of weeks, the lessons have focused on the Romantic and the Victorian poets, so tonight I will share the postcards that were sent honoring a handful of those poets.  I will do my best not to comment on how and why I love the poets and poems and leave you to simply enjoy the little collection.  Postcards were either store bought or handmade, and in most cases, senders tried to match the postcard to the theme or poet in some way.

From Minxy1964: Wordworth Heritage: Dove Cottage; Poet's Sea, Grasmere: River Rydal. Photos by Phil Insley

From Minxy1964: Wordworth Heritage: Dove Cottage; Poet’s Seat; Grasmere; River Rydal. Photos by Phil Insley

This first card (above) was actually sent for a different type of swap, but it fits the theme and bears the face of the first poet.

"Clock Tower (Big Ben) House of Parliament (1858). Architects: Sir Charles Barry, A.W.N. Pugin. 3-D Postcard

From “Owlsinathens”: “Clock Tower (Big Ben) House of Parliament (1858). Architects: Sir Charles Barry, A.W.N. Pugin. 3-D Postcard

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
“London, 1802”

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

 

"There Be None of Beauty's Daughters," Handmade postcard by Maranda.

From Maranda: “There Be None of Beauty’s Daughters.” Handmade postcard.

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
“There Be None of Beauty’s Daughters”

There be none of Beauty’s daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmèd ocean’s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull’d winds seem dreaming:

And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o’er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant’s asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer’s ocean.

 

From MommyKnows: Watercolor Postcard, Floral Still Life, Arum Flower. Pepin van Roojen.

From MommyKnows: Watercolor Postcard, Floral Still Life, Arum Flower. Pepin van Roojen.

Sonnet. “Written Upon the Top of Ben Nevis”
John Keats (1795-1821)

Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
I look into the chasms, and a shroud
Vapourous doth hide them, — just so much I wist
Mankind do know of hell; I look o’erhead,
And there is sullen mist, — even so much
Mankind can tell of heaven; mist is spread
Before the earth, beneath me, — even such,
Even so vague is man’s sight of himself!
Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet,–
Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
I tread on them, — that all my eye doth meet
Is mist and crag, not only on this height,
But in the world of thought and mental might!

 

From MissWhimsy: "West Front and Paine's Bridge over the River Derwent, Chatsworth." Chatsworth, Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

From MissWhimsy: “West Front and Paine’s Bridge over the River Derwent, Chatsworth.” Chatsworth, Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

XXXIX. “Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (‏ (1806-1861

Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul’s true face,
The dim and weary witness of life’s race,—
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul’s distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,—because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God’s infliction, nor death’s neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,—
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!

 

"The Lady of Shalott." Handmade postcard by Anita.

From Anita: “The Lady of Shalott.” Handmade postcard.

“The Lady of Shalott” is a bit lengthy for posting in its entirety here, but it is worth the read.  The postcard (above) features the sender’s favorite excerpt, but if you want more, here’s the link to the full poem: The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

I hope you enjoyed the collection of poetry. At some point, I will share more postcards and poetry as well as the poetry-postcards I sent for the “Poetry on Postcard” swaps.  Until then…

 

“When Giving Is All We Have”

"I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart." Psalm 9:1 Art by Lorelei C. #lovenotesjb

“I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart.” Psalm 9:1.  Gratitude Art by Lorelei C. #lovenotesjb

When Giving Is All We Have

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

~Alberto Ríos, 1952

Happy Gratitude Day!

Haiku and the Little Ones

Right around the time the season changed from summer to autumn last year, I stumbled upon a haiku collection while perusing a colleague’s bookshelf.  I hadn’t read haiku in years! I borrowed her book and enjoyed the haiku for a few days before giving in and ordering my own copy of the book. The book is entitled The Essential Haiku: the Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa, edited and translated by Robert Hass.

The haiku masters offered the perfect moments to sip tea and reflect on changes in the natural world as the seasons transform from one to another. They served as a welcome substitute for time that would have been spent outdoors (and perhaps with my camera) because the weather was often icky last autumn and winter.

After I had my fill of the haiku masters, I moved on to Sonia Sanchez’s Morning Haiku, a book I must blog about at another time.

As you can guess, I was pretty haiku obsessed. I read them to my son. I tried to get him to write haiku with me. He ran in the opposite direction–screaming, arms flailing (slight exaggeration). Aha! But eventually I found a way to “capture” him (along with his 15 classmates).

Last April–building on the lessons on metaphor, simile, and image I’d taught the children in second and third grade–I taught a brief lesson on the haiku form, read a few to the (then) fourth graders, and allowed my son to transform a longer poem he wrote for National Poetry Month last year into a haiku to demonstrate for the class how a three-line poem can tell the same story and present the same image as a much longer poem.

Poem written by my little one when he was in third grade.  The frog is one of the many animals he loves.  Scrapbook elements by Amanda Wittenborn: Amanda Creation

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The children were tasked with writing about something in nature, the change of seasons or an animal.  They “mastered” the form easily and loved writing their haiku.  Since nine-year-olds are still eager to please, they vied for my attention to read their haiku. They didn’t have time to read their poems to the class, but I took their poems, typed them, and created a display for the university library. (FYI–The school is situated on the university campus).  In May, during the last week of school, the entire class gathered in the library with their teacher, Mrs. Johnson, and a few other parents and had a poetry reading followed by a class picnic at “Unity Pond” on campus.

Many months after I’d intended, I’m sharing their haiku. [Click an image for a closer look]

The lesson and writing took about 30 minutes. They did a great job. Don’t you think?

Even though haiku is a lot more complex than it seems, it is a good form to teach to children. They won’t catch all the subtle nuances of language and imagery, but they get the basics in terms of the traditional structure and themes of haiku.  I am looking forward to my next adventure with my son’s class. I don’t know how or when, but I’m sure we’ll have some literary adventures this school year!

 

Happy, Happy, and a Little More Happy!

Even though I am in the middle of class preparations–Heart of Darkness and Beowulf, if you’re interested–I feel obligated to take a moment to write a post.  Why? Because it has been almost a month since I last posted and because WordPress reminded me that it’s my WordPress anniversary.  Typically, I ignore WP’s “pats on the back,” but three years is a long time to stick with a weblog, no matter how infrequently, randomly, and unpredictably one posts.

Sooooo…

Thank you, my little blog audience, for sticking with mePics and Posts is one of my happy places and I enjoy sharing my snail mail and photo adventures with you.  Happy Anniversary to us!

Until next time–I leave you with a little bit of happy–a poem by e.e. cummings that always makes me smile!

Who Knows If the Moon

“Who Knows if the Moon’s a Baloon” by e.e. cummings

[I designed this for a “Poetry on a Postcard” swap.  I’ll be blogging about the series of swaps soon].

Have joy!

“I know how the flowers felt…”

“After the Pushing and the Pelting” (Tulip with Texture)

Today has been one of those days. April has been one of those months.  “April is the cruelest month…” Yada, yada, Eliot…

The Robert Frost poem above so adequately speaks my mood these days.  April for me is usually a one-thing-after-another, stressful, demanding kind of month, relentless in its pushing and pelting.  It is sometimes easier to “lay lodged–though not dead” than it is to keep things in perspective and remember that this is just one “moment” that will eventually pass.

Though it is tempting to just “lay lodged” in this state of mind, I choose to rise and meet the challenges while focusing my gaze elsewhere.

I’d captured the red tulip and several others after the poor flowers had been pushed by the wind and “pelted,” no constantly pummeled, by rain for several days.  I was happy to see them still standing, though a bit bowed.  When I shot this photo, the message was powerful, empowering, and affirming.  It wasn’t just a thing of beauty, but a symbol of perseverance and will, its beauty magnified in its reflection of the Divine.

In fact, I used it a few days later to share a bit of inspiration with family, friends, and colleagues, because such (im)perfect beauty only intensified my longing for Perfection.

“The Beauty of Holiness” (Tulip Original)

It is a little curious that this one flower–one image–captures both feelings so effectively.

Playing with Black and White (Part III): Buildings

For the last couple of days, I’ve been sharing monochrome photography exchanged through swaps I hosted in “A Thousand Words,” a group of swap-bot.  You can see the first two posts here and here.

The third swap in the series focused on buildings–inside or outside, part or whole. My partner, Cakers, captured most of the images below while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico for the Christmas holiday. She sent four striking notecards that I can’t wait to write on with my white ink.  [Click an image for a closer look]

I love the interior of the one building (lower right), and the play of light and dark in all the shots.

I sent my partner three notecards. I can only remember two of the shots I sent. I’m thinking about using the B&W “version” of the photo below for Liberate Your Art 2015. The other is a modification of a 2012 photo.

“Abandoned,” Madison County, Alabama, 2014

I found this beauty one afternoon while my hubby, son, and I were on the hunt for great photo opportunities. Here it is in color–

“Abandoned”

And here’s the modification of an earlier photo–

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

You can see the color version of this photo in a December 2013 post.

Here’s a bonus shot from Midteacher sent for another swap.  Can I consider a stairway part of a building?

“Stairway in Traverse City,” Photo by Midteacher aka DBW

She loved the stonework and couldn’t resist taking a photo.  I see why!

I’m looking forward to more B&W/monochrome photo swaps in our little photo group. I just set up “Teddy Bears and Dolls” and “Trees.”  I’m excited to get started!

If you’re into monochrome photography, you should check out Leanne Cole’s blog. She hosts a series called Monochrome Madness. I haven’t gathered the courage to share any of my images there. Soon, though. Maybe.

Until next time…

“Peace on Earth! Good Will Toward Men”

Untitled 2 6

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

❧❧❧
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”—(Luke 2:14).

May you and yours experience God’s peace and His good will (towards you) not only for the holiday season but always…

Merry Christmas!

Monte Sano: Autumn Photo Walk

"My Guys" Chatting Through Monte Sano

My Guys Chatting Through Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

At the very beginning of the year, I posted photos from a Monte Sano State Park walk and wondered what this beautiful place would look like in the spring.  I completely missed spring and summer, but thankfully, we made it to Monte Sano before autumn fades into winter again.

I captured nearly 300 photos the afternoon we visited, but unlike our last visit, I had far too many “favorites” to choose from.  It’s taken me two weeks to choose, and since my focus was “trees” and “leaves,” I decided to share the leaves in a separate post. With some shots, I tried to “recreate” what I could remember of the winter shots. Remember this tree?  It looks no different in autumn.

My favorite Monte Sano tree.

“Winter’s Heart” in Autumn

And this one:

tree

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” in Autumn

Our tree-lined path was even more glorious with leaves forming a canopy over our heads and providing the crunch-crunch-crunch beneath our feet.  Is “crunching leaves” your favorite part of the season?

The Worn Path in Autumn

“The Well-Worn Path” in Autumn

With other shots, I just appreciated the splendor of the trees:

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Sometimes, I simply enjoyed the breathtaking view from the “lookout” accented or consumed by the range of autumn colors. Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 11 Then, there were those trees that made me wonder about their story.  Notice how these two lean toward each other–one resting in the other’s supportive embrace.

“Duet”

This one a “relic” of a “time before,” when it stood against elements and seasons.  A fallen comrade in the midst of those still standing strong and tall:

“Remains”

When we left the park, I exhaled deeply, as if all the cares of the world drained from my body as I walked through the park. Monte Sano is always a wonderfully therapeutic place, no matter the season. It must be the trees.

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Another Perspective of “Winter’s Heart”

“Fall” in Love: The Poetry of Autumn

Emily Dickinson

“Autumn Poets Sing,” Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Fall 2012

I’m pretty sure my next two or three blog posts will focus on autumn.  I can’t help it.  I’m obsessed with the beauty of the season.  This obsession is not peculiar to me alone, of course.  A simple Google search for autumn poems yields pages and pages of links of fall-themed classic and contemporary poetry.  And social network feeds proudly showcase an abundance of autumn photos from around the world.

My own obsession led me to host a “‘Fall’ in Love” swap in “A Thousand Words,” a new photography group on swap-bot.   The swap called for sharing autumn photos and a complementary autumn poem.  Swappers had the choice of sending poem and photo separately or poem and photo integrated. Ladybegood sent this serene autumn scene crafted as a notecard for my use:

"The Woods in Autumn" by Linda, known as "Ladybegood" on swap-bot

“The Woods in Autumn” by Linda, known as “Ladybegood” on swap-bot

And the perfect poem, handwritten on card stock: Autumn Scenes-1

AUTUMN WOODS
by James S. Tippett

I like the woods
In autumn
When dry leaves hide the ground,
When the trees are bare
And the wind sweeps by
With a lonesome rushing sound.

I can rustle the leaves
In autumn
And I can make a bed
In the thick dry leaves
That have fallen
From the bare trees
Overhead.

If you have children, this poem is perfect for getting them to understand imagery.

By the way, Ladybegood included a note telling me a little bit about the photo, but it’s missing in desk clutter (see previous post).

In a different swap, “I Like Light (& Color)” for the Color and Light Photo Swappers Group, swap-bot, Midteacher sent me two autumn photos:

"Vibrant Maple," by Diane, known as "midteacher" on swap-bot

“Vibrant Maple,” by Diane, known as “Midteacher” on swap-bot

Midteacher writes that she passed this tree several times on the way home from work before she made herself stop to take the shot one day. I witness a similar brilliance from my office window every day.  The tree beckoned me till one day I was compelled to step onto the balcony to snap a shot.

“Brilliant Hello,” by Me, Fall 2014

This autumn beauty greets residents and guests at one of the women’s residential halls. My office is quite a distance from the tree, so I plan to take a walk to capture a bit more of the interesting details.  I hope there are still leaves on it by the time the temperatures are mild enough for me to take a campus walk. :-/

Like Ladybegood, Midteacher also sent a photo notecard:

Autumn Scene by Diane, "Midteacher" on swap-bot

Autumn Scene by Diane, “Midteacher” on swap-bot

She was so drawn to this breath-taking scene that after they drove passed it, she had her husband go back so she could snap a shot. Midteacher and I are in three photo groups together and I enjoy having her as a swap partner. Her packages are always well-crafted.  In fact, I have a couple more sets of her photos to share with my blog audience.  Until then, you can check out her work on an earlier post OR check out her blog, A Focused Journey.

For the “‘Fall’ in Love” swap, I sent my partner, Patty aka Cakers, an envelope full of “red leaves” and a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem that so clearly illustrates my giddiness about autumn that I had to send it to her [click image for a closer look]. fall poem 2014 3 Patty loved her envelope full of autumn. In return, with her permission, of course, I “swiped” a photo from her Facebook wall–of leaves she collected during an afternoon walk.

"Patty's Fallen Leaves" by Patty aka Cakers

“All the Colors of Fall” by Patty aka Cakers

Enjoy!