The Forest Primeval

the runes of the gatekeeper's daughter

Time flies by and I fear I will always be behind from now on, but, I have a few things for you. This was my submission to Leanne’s Monochrome Madness this week.

Our west coast forest floors are laden with the ancient fern while giant fir trees keep the sky from collapsing. Ferns, cycads and tree ferns have been around for  300 million years since they first sprang up in the savage paleozoic garden.

In the Devonian period, some trees grew to over 30 meters. Dinosaurs didn’t arrive until the mesozoic era and flowers only came into being during the cretaceous period but insects had already appeared (Devonian) and often grew  to a meter long although they may have been wingless for a further mere 100 million years. Some arachnid ancestors (spiders) had 6 inch legs. They would definitely have been unwelcome guests at a picnic.

dragonflies have been around for eons and may have grown…

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Monochrome Madness and a day on Vancouver Island

Writing here on WordPress has given me many gifts, the chief among them is some of the wonderful writers and photographers I’ve had the chance to meet. One of my favorite sites is The Runes of the Gatekeeper’s Daughter — beautiful photography, haunting imagery. I invite you to discover Cybele Moon, aka the Dune Mouse.

the runes of the gatekeeper's daughter

For Leanne’s Marvelous Madness Gallery (3-9)

A journey through a summer’s day on the island

 take a stroll in “The Alchemist’s Garden”

garden of the alchemist

on the Gorge estuary in Victoria

Nothing happens, unless first a dream! -C Sandburg

gorge infra with the alchemist’s glasses

 Rose Bowers and daisy fields

chemainus house a bygone era

Stop for tea in the charming town of Chemainus by the sea

Get lost in a field of daisies

daisy field

outside Parksville

and visit  the Rain Forest

MacMillan Forestold growth forest jpg

The woods were meant for the hunters of dreams! – S.Foss

MacMillan Forest info:

The Cathedral Grove area of the MacMillan Park rain forest on Vancouver Island is protected by designated paths only.   You walk among giant ferns and the majestic pillars of Fir trees that can grow to nine meters in circumference and 76 meters high.   Named by Botanist David Douglas in the 1800’s they range in age from  300 years to  800 years old.

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Love in the Afternoon, Revisited

This was originally posted in October 2015. As I work on downsizing to move from a large house into a condominium, the conundrum of which possessions to part with is sometimes easy, often hard. Mr. Underwood came home with me last year, and I am please to say that he has made the cut. Could you blame me for keeping him around?

Harvest Coffee Bar, Bryan, Texas
Slo Bru at the Harvest Coffee Bar in Bryan, Texas

I found myself sleepy to the point of no concentration. The words on the page kept running together, and the thought of another cup of coffee was appealing. I left the La Salle Hotel and walked down Main Street to the Harvest Coffee Bar.

The distillation contraption was intriguing, and I soon had a little cup of the cold brewed coffee and headed back towards my room. I wanted to get a another several hundred words down.

It was then that I saw him. He was standing at a shop window, then he turned and looked at me. He pulled off his sunglasses and smiled.

The soul of Mr. Underwood

I smiled in return but continued walking.

He said, “Stop and talk with me awhile. I think we may have much to say to one another.”

I pulled up short, and looked at him again. His blue eyes were were sincere and compelling.

We stood talking in the street for a long time. His name was Underwood. While his face was lined and he was evidently older than I first thought, the more we talked and the more stories he shared, I found myself completely taken with him. I took his hand and he followed me back to the La Salle.

Mr. Underwood
Mr. Underwood

We woke the next morning with the sun glowing around the edges of the blinds.

After pulling on my clothes and getting my bag together, I turned to him. “I’m really not ready to stop here . . . would you consider coming to Houston, and spending some time with me?”

His smile lines deepened, and those blue eyes gave me a wonderful look.

Lucca and the Underwood typewriter
Lucca and Mr. Underwood

Ann in Castolon in Big Bend National Park. Photograph, Jim Stevens

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Word Swag and Some Rilke

Good morning everyone — a short coffee post to share a great iPhone/iPad app for creating custom text layouts for social media.  Word Swag has been around for awhile, but I used it for the first time yesterday. I’m a big Photoshop user, and have been going back to version 5.5 in the late nineties. I love Photoshop . . . and I’ve taught college students how to use it for years.

But Word Swag is an easy-to-use app that does its job beautifully, and it means I can be out with only my iPad and capable of producing and uploading social media content very easily.

My first Word Swag image.
My first Word Swag image.

There are several other similar apps that might interest you, too, described here on Social Quant, and if you are want a quick tutorial on how to use Word Swag, try this one by Brian G. Johnson.

As an aside, you may hear it said that Word Swag can be used to produce memes. Richard Dawkins coined the word meme in his book, The Selfish Gene, to describe how information spreads in a culture. “While such an image may display an existing meme, or . . . may [itself] even eventually become a meme, it does not qualify as one until it reaches approximately the same level of mass recognition as required for a person to be considered a celebrity.” ** The long and the short of it is this. You may produce a great image and text combination, perhaps an original saying or idea, or a really strong combination of a quote, an image, and layout, but unless it goes viral on an extraordinary level, you have not created a meme.

I chose a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke to create my first Word Swag image. He was born in Prague in 1875 and wrote his poetry in German. Rilke died in Switzerland in 1926. I thought I’d end this morning post by sharing three of his poems. I find his imagery a wonderful way to either start or end a day.

 *   *   *   *   *
Black Cat
Black Cat. Photograph by Ann Fisher.
Black Cat. Photograph by Ann Fisher.

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them.
But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Sunset and trees. Image from Pixabay.
Sunset and trees. Image from Pixabay.

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Thompson's Gazelles in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania, Africa. From iStock Photo
Thompson’s Gazelles in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania, Africa. From iStock Photo
The Gazelle

Gazella Dorcas.

Enchanted thing: how can two chosen words
ever attain the harmony of pure rhyme
that pulses through you as your body stirs?
Out of your forehead branch and lyre climb

and all your features pass in simile through
the songs of love whose words as light as rose-
petals rest on the face of someone who
has put his book away and shut his eyes:

to see you: tensed as if each leg were a gun
loaded with leaps but not fired while your neck
holds your head still listening: as when

while swimming in some isolated place
a girl hears leaves rustle and turns to look:
the forest pool reflected in her face.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Oh, and one last one . . . it was too hard to choose only three :-).

Fall leaves. Image from Pixabay.
Fall leaves. Image from Pixabay.
Autumn Day

Lord, it is time.
The summer was too long.

Lay your shadow on the sundials now,
and through the meadow let the winds throng.
Ask the last fruits to ripen on the vine;
give them further two more summer days
to bring about perfection and to raise
the final sweetness in the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will establish none,
whoever lives alone now will live on long alone,
will waken, read, and write long letters,
wander up and down the barren paths
the parks expose when the leaves are blown.

Translated by William Gass,
“Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problem of Translation” (Knopf)

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Fun with Word Swag. My cat Coco poses for Rilke's Black Cat.
My cat Coco poses for Rilke’s Black Cat.


Volumes of Rilke Poetry on Amazon



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** Castaño, Carlos (2013). “Defining and Characterising the Concept of Internet Meme”. Revista CES Psicología 6 (2): 82–104.

One of those lightbulb moments…..

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Janet Weight Reed, British watercolor painter, talks about how at forty she quit worrying about pleasing everyone else and began to follow her bliss.

My Life as an Artist (2)

Watercolour/gouache sketch from the years I spent hill walking in Wales.   20-11-15 - 1 (35)

Five years ago, I attended an Adlerian Summer School, based on the teachings of Alfred Adler,  Austrian psychotherapist and founder of the School of Individual Psychology (1870-1937).

One of the workshops I signed up for was entitled ‘Earliest ChildhoodRecollections’.      It was Adler’s theory that if we could pin point our earliest recollection/memory,  we would find clues to what he referred to as our ‘private logic’ – metaphors for an individual’s personal lifestyle.

During the workshop, we were asked to go back to our rooms and make a sketch of our earliest childhood recollection.    This  exercise proved to be most revealing.

Sketch of my earliest childhood recollection.

This image depicts me at three years old standing in front of a cobbler’s shop fascinated by a colourful, miniature carousel displayed in the window.. 

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Oh, the Humanity…

Of all of the things that have been said this week about Paris, this is the only one that resonated with me.

Single Mom Unschooling

I’ve been too overwhelmed by the news and everyone’s reactions to it, to write anything. My son and I are empathic, which means we’re very sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions and almost take those on as our own. It can be crushing for me as an adult still, so I protect B by limiting his access to the news.

He doesn’t need to know how many people have died in the past couple weeks or who all the ‘bad guys’ of the world are. Most of us don’t. I’m not going to encourage a fearful mentality of perceived enemies.

Yes, he knows that there is war and that people kill each other for countless reasons. He doesn’t understand why and I’m afraid I’m no help there because I don’t understand it either.

What I will do is raise him with unconditional love, show him that all of us have…

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Castle Ghosts of Victoria

Beautiful images from the haunted Hatley Castle near Victoria in Canada, just in time for All Hallows Eve.

the runes of the gatekeeper's daughter

This is my offering to Ed Mooneys spectacular Spooktacular for Halloween. The castle and grounds are a perfect afternoon haunt.

Royal Roads 2 Hatley Castle as seen from the Italian Garden

Colwood is an area outside of Victoria and there, in a beautiful setting by the ocean, sits Hatley Castle.  Built by  architect Samuel MacLure for James Dunsmuir, the son of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir,  it lies on 565 acres of beautiful gardens and woodlands.  James Dunsmuir,  was the Lt. Governor in 1906 when he commissioned MacLure to design the castle for himself and his wife Laura.  After the death of James, the property was eventually sold to the Government in 1939.  It was turned into a  Military Academy which remained in operation until 1995 after which it became Royal Roads University.

During those Victorian times The Dunsmuir family achieved great status.  Robert Dunsmuir, emigrated from Scotland in 1851, and made a fortune in coal on…

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