Flashback Friday — Vintage Poetry

child with umbrella illustration
Original illustration for Rain, from A Child’s Garden of Verses

It was rainy here all day — wet, but mild. “Typical, for Raincouver,” I hear you say! Yes, the skies were grey and wet, but people were out walking with their umbrellas closed. I say it was raining, but really, it was only sprinkling. Nothing to get excited about, it is April after all, we expect rain — how else will we get all those May flowers?

I was thinking of National Poetry Month as I was out splashing in puddles, and I remembered one of my treasured books from my childhood. A vintage copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Some of my favourite poems are in that little book and I have fond memories of reading it.

So in honour of NPM, I am posting a poem from the book, one that illustrates the feeling of this rainy Vancouver day. Enjoy!

By the way,  A Child’s Garden of Verses is available as a FREE ebook from the Gutenberg Project! If you are interested, follow this link to the website, then do a search for the book. There are over 56,000 eBooks available to download or read online on this site.

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses

Mindfulness, Thoughts

Thoughts On An Orange


Photo by Jackelin Slack on Unsplash

And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China.
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover.
Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

Sitting in the morning stillness, the fresh, tangy-sweet aroma of an orange being peeled suddenly filled my senses. My mouth watered and I immediately plunged into a whirlwind of thoughts …about oranges!

I thought of how I love fresh oranges but detest orange juice. I remembered how much I used to like eating an orange and a banana at the same time. First eating an orange segment, then following with a bite of banana — the best sour and sweet combination, ever! Oh, does anyone else remember orange/banana flavoured Jello?

My thoughts wandered to childhood Christmases, when I eagerly looked forward to our first box of mandarins of the season —Christmas Oranges, we called them. In those days, the small, round fruit came packed in a small wooden crate, each orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I remember how my siblings and I would marvel at how easy they were to peel and how sweet each little segment tasted. I remember the pure joy those oranges brought us!

Pictures of orange-flavoured candy and sweets danced in my head. Terry’s Chocolate Orange, the fruit made out of orange infused chocolate — which would break into segments just like the fruit. Orange jelly slices — artificially flavoured and covered in sparkly, white sugar, candy corn on Halloween, candied orange peel, and that [shudder] orange cream hiding in the box of assorted chocolates.

Aack!!! All that sugar!!

Somehow these memories led me to reminisce about my favourite muffin recipe — Oatmeal Orange muffins — made by soaking the oatmeal in orange juice, and adding in orange zest to enhance the flavour. I lost the recipe long ago and have never been able to find it — even my BFF, Google has failed to turn up the instructions!

Then I started thinking about the different kinds of oranges you can buy at the market. Navel oranges with their funny belly buttons; round Valencia oranges; the deep, red flesh of Blood oranges; Mandarins, of course, and the pretty Satsuma oranges. Sweet, juicy and oh, so fragrant!

My last thoughts — were centered around one of my most beautiful Mother’s Day gifts — a lovely, indoor orange tree. I can see it in my mind’s eye the tiny white blossoms nestled in the dark green leaves — a few baby oranges hanging from the branches. I loved to breathe in the delicate, orange perfume of the flowers. Alas, this thoughtful gift did not last long (not an unexpected event in my house — I LOVE plants, but I have the opposite of a green thumb!!)

All these memories rising up from the scent of a freshly peeled orange! I am grateful to live in a world where fresh fruit grows!


Mindfulness Thought:
“Take the time to eat an orange in mindfulness. If you eat an orange in forgetfulness, caught in your anxiety and sorrow, the orange is not really there. But if you bring your mind and body together to produce true presence, you can see that the orange is a miracle. Peel the orange. Smell the fruit. See the orange blossoms in the orange, and the rain and the sun that have gone through the orange blossoms. The orange tree that has taken several months to bring this wonder to you. Put a section in your mouth, close your mouth mindfully, and with mindfulness feel the juice coming out of the orange. Taste the sweetness. Do you have the time to do so? If you think you don’t have time to eat an orange like this, what are you using that time for? Are you using your time to worry or using your time to live?”

~ from: The Moment is Perfect by Thich Nhat Hanh Read the entire article.

Mindfulness, Poetry

Breathe — A Haiku

Pink RoseIt’s the first Haikuseday of National Poetry Month and I challenge you to join me in writing a haiku. I share my attempt below — I hope you enjoy it. Are you writing any haikus?

Breathing slow and deep
The rose’s delicate scent
I regard my breath


Mindfulness Thought:
This is universal. You sit and observe your breath. You can’t say this is a Hindu breath or a Christian breath or a Muslim breath. ~ Charles Johnson

Mindfulness, Poetry

Poetry and Mindfulness

The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness. ~ James Gates Percival

the oceanIs there anything more soothing than the sound of the waves breaking on the shore? Is there any better way to spend a lovely, sunny afternoon than combing the beach for the sea’s bounty — smooth, round stones and sea-washed shells? Translucent pieces of clear, blue sea glass?

Walking on a sandy shoreline never fails to soothe my soul — always eases my mind. My heart is filled with the magnificence of the ocean’s power. I feel that I belong to and am part of something larger than myself. I feel a connection with the heron, the eagle, the hawk and yes, even, the common seagull as they soar above the ocean’s current searching for their dinner.

The salty sea air invigorates me — I feel strong, but also, peaceful, calm and deeply connected to the planet and all who inhabit it.

The ocean is beautiful, powerful, life-giving.

The ocean is poetry.


Mindfulness Thought: Be calm. Be now.


Poetry & A Pirate For NPM

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

I did not and I also did not know that the League of Canadian Poets will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of National Poetry Month!

This year, instead of setting a theme for the event, the League wants to know what you will be doing to commemorate  NPM — will you write a poem, read your favourite poetry collection, or attend an event? The League of Canadian Poets LOVE poetry (duh!) and they want to share in your poetic adventures!

When I was about 13, one of my responsibilities at home was to mind my little brother. One of his favourite things was to sit on my lap while I read him story after story. The story he loved most was the poem: The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee — a whimiscal tale of a wicked swashbuckling buccaneer, by Mildred Plew Meigs.

The poem — with its lilting cadence and quirky story is a delight for kids of all ages. I post it here in honour of National Poetry Month, poets and reading to little brothers everywhere. Enjoy!

The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee

Ho, for the Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee!
He was as wicked as wicked could be,
But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see!
The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

His conscience, of course, was as black as a bat,
But he had a floppety plume on his hat
And when he went walking it jiggled— like that!
The plume of the Pirate Dowdee.

His coat it was handsome and cut with a slash,
And often as ever he twirled his mustache
Deep down in the ocean the mermaids went splash,
Because of Don Durk of Dowdee.

Moreover, Dowdee had a purple tattoo,
And stuck in his belt where he buckled it through
Were a dagger, a dirk, and a squizzamaroo,
For fierce was the Pirate Dowdee.

So fearful he was he would shoot at a puff,
And always at sea when the weather grew rough
He drank from a bottle and wrote on his cuff,
Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

Oh, he had a cutlass that swung at his thigh
And he had a parrot called Pepperkin Pye,
And a zigzaggy scar at the end of his eye
Had Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

He kept in a cavern, this buccaneer bold,
A curious chest that was covered with mould,
And all of his pockets were jingly with gold!
Oh jing! went the gold of Dowdee.

His conscience, of course it was crook’d like a squash,
But both of his boots made a slickery slosh,
And he went throught the world with a wonderful swash,
Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

It’s true he was wicked as wicked could be,
His sins they outnumbered a hundred and three,
But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see,
The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

If you prefer your poetry set to music, you might enjoy this video.


Changing My Mind

With the world today in turmoil — there seems to no end to the rampant cruelness and tragedy everywhere, I struggle to maintain a positive and hopeful outlook.

I needed a way to gain some equilibrium — to break out of this feeling of impending doom that was leaving me worried and full of despair.

After reading about others’ experiences, I decided to employ three strategies to help me get back on track.

Practice mindfulness. Living mindfully gives us room between our selves and our reactions allowing us to live with intent, wisdom and compassion. As Deborah Schoeberlein David writes: “…Stressed thoughts, words and actions can easily hurt others. The more balanced my emotional state, I less I risk harming others. The steadier and more emotionally healthy I become, the more energy and intention I have to contribute positively in my relationships and the world.” [Practice Mindfulness for Living Mindfully — Huffpost, May 17, 2016]

But how, you may ask, do you learn to live mindfully?

As with any new skill, there are steps and guidelines to follow as you work towards a goal. Luckily, we live in an age where information is virtually at our fingertips (have you met my BFF, Google?) A quick search brought up a plethora of articles, tips, and tutorials that can help.

Developing mindfulness can begin with learning to meditate — and learning to meditate does not need to be complicated. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes every day while you pay attention to your body and your breath — can prepare you to build a meditation practice.

If you are interested in mindfulness and meditation, checkout Getting Started With Mindfulness 

Show gratitude. It may seem obvious — everyone knows that being grateful can help to change your attitude, but we sometimes forget to look for and recognize the good things in our lives.

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can improve your health and the health of those around you. Being grateful can benefit your relationships, help you get a better sleep and improve your productivity. Read this, to find out more.

Practice compassion. Compassion connects us to others and is considered a natural human instinct that is essential for a healthy and happy life. Like gratitude, compassion can improve our relationships with others and benefit our physical and emotional life. Discover 10 Scientific and Medical Reasons Why We Should Be Compassionate 

Interested? Try this simple Mindful Challenge from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

I’m already feeling better as I move to put these three tactics into action and to learning more about living mindfully.

Here are more great resources to help you get started:
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
mindful — healthy mind, healthy life
Zen Habits

Do you practice mindfulness? Tell me about it — I would love to hear about your journey!

Things to do

Come With Me to Granville Island

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We love to be a tourist in our own city. We are fortunate to live in the area of British Columbia locally known as Greater Vancouver (or more commonly as the Lower Mainland).

According to Wikipedia, the Lower Mainland makes up 60% of British Columbia’s total population and includes sixteen of the province’s thirty largest municipalities. Each of these 16 cities offer a wealth of parks, forests, beaches trails and ocean shorelines to explore and enjoy. One of our favourite places to visit is Granville Island located on the urban waterfront of False Creek in the city of Vancouver.

Granville Island boardwalk

Granville Island has long been a centre of art and culture in Vancouver, steeped in maritime history. It is the former home of the world-renowned, Emily Carr University of Art & Design. The famed Public Market features local artists, farmers and fishmongers. There are many art studios, gift shops, theatres and galleries that all serve to make Granville Island a premiere tourist destination.

We never tire of making the trek to this spot and always find this landmark area a source of wonder and inspiration — a fun and exciting outing.

Come along on this photo journey — you might be enticed to journey here yourself!

There is something for everyone at Granville Island, from quaint sidewalk cafés to quirky gift shops and open artists workshops and galleries. Eat, drink, shop or take in a show — the options are endless.

sidewalk cafe image

We love to roam the Public Market, stopping at a few of the artists booths to look at the pottery, sketches, jewelery and other handmade, artisan wares. I never fail to find a lovely trinket for myself or a perfect gift for someone special.

Beautiful hand sewn charactersLike these whimsical animal characters. Who wouldn’t adore one of these ornately dressed hand-sewn beauties? Lovingly crafted by Diane Jordens from Toads World, these stuffed art dolls are definitely collectors items and you can see a sampling of her work at her booth in the market.  Find out more about Diane and her creations on her website or follow her on Instagram: @dianejordens.

We always look forward to filling a basket with colourful local fruits and vegetables, and a choice cut of small farm raised meat or a lovely piece of fresh-caught fish to take home for dinner.

Fruit and Veggies


Fresh FishJJ Bean CoffeeCakesCookiesWe usually have lunch at the market food court, which has a wide variety of specialties to choose from. My favourite is anything from the Chau Veggiexpress. Then we can’t wait to top it all off with a cookie or mini-cake from one of the delightful bakeries! And we always have a JJ Bean coffee to go with our treats.

Little BirdpigeonBirds Cement PlantBefore heading home, we make sure to walk around the Island, stopping to watch the aqua busses ferrying people to and fro in False Creek. We laugh at the comical antics of the seagulls and other birds as they vie for crumbs and bits of food that are “dropped” by visitors from around the globe. We soak up all the sights and sounds that are an integral part of this iconic place.

DuckpondMural imagewalk imageWe take one last look at the new art on the walls and spend one more minute to say goodbye to the ducks in the pond.





Haikuesday — Is it Back?

So… it’s been months since I have participated in writing a haiku on a Tuesday. Is Haikuesday still a thing?

Today was a gorgeous wintry day in the Lower Mainland — no rain and a mix of sun and cloud. A perfect day for a tramp around Serpentine Fen. And excellent inspiration for a bit of poetry.

January sky
Leafless trees bleak in grey light
The soaring hawk shrieks

Book Reviews

The Velveteen Daughter — A Review

The Velveteen Daughter Cover

The Velveteen Daughter is beautifully written novel based on the true story of Margery Williams Bianco, author of The Velveteen Rabbit, the beloved children’s book, her husband, Francesco and their brilliant daughter, Pamela —who was a child art prodigy.

Alternating between Margery and Pamela’s voice, Laurel Davis Huber’s debut novel fascinates readers with a glimpse of the dynamic and innovative creativity of the art movement in 1920s Europe and America, while exploring issues of love and madness, art and creativity, family and motherhood.

Huber paints a vivid portrait of the colourful, chaotic, and bohemian life of artists in New York and Italy and introduces readers to literary and artistic people such as Pablo Picasso, Eugene O’Neill and Richard (Diccon) Hughes, that are friends or relatives of the Biancos.

This well-researched narrative takes place over the course of a few days, but through flashbacks and imagination, we experience the emotional cycles of Pamela’s manic highs and devastating lows from both mother and daughter’s eyes throughout nearly 45 years. Ms. Huber draws a compelling portrait of Margery and Pamela’s relationship— she writes the Biancos’ story with a poignancy that is smooth and easy — the blending of fact and fiction perfectly balanced.

The central theme of The Velveteen Rabbit — what it means to be real and to be loved — is evident throughout The Velveteen Daughter as we witness Pamela’s struggle to find confidence in her self and to be loved for who she is. We see Margery’s worry and love for her daughter never wavering.

I adored The Velveteen Rabbit when I was a child and I still have warm memories of reading the book — and I loved The Velveteen Daughter as well. It is an introspective journey drawn through Margery and Pamela’s memories — an easy to read and captivating work. Laurel Davis Huber brings Pamela Bianco out of the forgotten annals of history with bold strokes that paint a bittersweet and haunting story bringing recognition of Pamela’s genius and contribution to the art world.

A story that had to be written… and read.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


There’s a New Park in Town

Come Out and Play! — an excerpt from a piece I wrote for Surrey604.

This past Saturday was the scene of a fun-filled day in the park at the official Grand Opening of Forsyth Park in the heart of Surrey.

Forsyth Park is the first of ten new parks that are planned for the City Centre area, it features a playground, two off-leash areas one for large dogs and one for small dogs, walkways, and picnic spaces.

The park also includes a Nature Play area that was funded by the TD Bank Group with a $500,000 gift to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday and is part of the TD Group’s “Common Ground Project”, one of 150 such projects across the country.

Around 11:00 am on October 28, families, kids, and neighbours began to arrive at the new park. They were greeted by various musical artists from singers with guitars to a wandering trio with clarinet, guitar and bass horn. The sun warmed the crowd as the joyous laughter of children rang through the park. A line-up was forming where Railway Catering was setting up the barbeque. It was worth the wait — the burgers were amazing!

Read the entire article here on Surrey604