Friday, April 30, 2010

classic poem #1

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

the dog(wood) days of April

If anything, I have been noticing and loving the blooms of spring this year more than usual. Right now it's dogwood season. Dogwood is the provincial floral emblem of BC, so it holds a special place in the hearts and gardens of us British Columbians.

The dogwood is a small tree with four-season appeal. It has flowers (some even fragrant) in spring, berries in summer or fall, eye-catching leaves of red and orange in autumn and, in some varieties, bright red branches that contrast with the snow in winter.

As for habitat, dogwoods like moist, slightly acid soil with a location in sun to partial shade. The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is native to Ontario and BC (mainland, coastal areas, Fraser Canyon and Vancouver Island).

Here is a dogwood tree in bloom just behind the lawn bowling club that we pass on our walk every morning.

And up-close (blooming over the fence of a neighbouring townhouse complex)

These pink dogwoods are in bloom just across the street from our unit.

These beautifully shaped greenish coloured dogwoods bloom slightly later in the season, and last for a very long time. I captured them last summer.

To find out more about this beautiful flowering tree, go to this article on the Wild About website.


Beautiful elders


Next Week:WATER (Ocean, Lake, Waterfall, Ice, Rain, Wet Things,...)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

classic poem #2


When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
'He was a man who used to notice such things'?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
'To him this must have been a familiar sight.'

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, 'He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.'

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
'He was one who had an eye for such mysteries'?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
'He hears it not now, but used to notice such things'?

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

classic poem #3


I BLESSE thee, Lord, because I G R O W
Among thy trees, which in a R O W
To thee both fruit and order O W.

What open force, or hidden C H A R M
Can blast my fruit, or bring me H A R M
While the inclosure is thine A R M?

Inclose me still for fear I S T A R T.
Be to me rather sharp and T A R T,
Than let me want thy hand and A R T.

When thou dost greater judgements S P A R E,
And with thy knife but prune and P A R E,
Ev'n fruitful trees more fruitfull A R E.

Such sharpness shows the sweetest F R E N D:
Such cuttings rather heal than R E N D:
And such beginnings touch their E N D.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

Friday, April 23, 2010

book review: Necessary Heartbreak by Michael J. Sullivan

Title: Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Gallery Books (, March 2010, paperback, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1439184232
ISBN-13: 978-1439184233

When single dad Michael Stewart takes time out of his busy Saturday to help Elizabeth, his teenage daughter, earn needed community service points at a church food drive, he has no idea what a time commitment he has really made. A trapdoor in the church basement lures Elizabeth into an underground tunnel. Michael follows and they emerge a short walk later onto a first century Jerusalem street in Necessary Heartbreak, a first novel by Michael J. Sullivan. They are soon in the thick of Jerusalem events with Michael arrested and put in prison while Elizabeth is rescued by a beautiful stranger named Leah. During the days they spend in the city they witness and take part in scenes from the Passion week. In a face-to-face encounter with Jesus, Michael experiences an epiphany that changes his life.

Setting-wise, the characters are suitably surprised when they go from technology-driven 21st century America (complete with Bruce Springsteen T-shirt, though thankfully they left cell phones behind) to the simple life of first century Jerusalem. Their reaction made the contrasting settings feel credible.

However, the plot seemed creaky in parts. Michael and Elizabeth repeatedly voice intentions and make attempts to return to the tunnel and home, which always end in postponement of failure. In this regard, it didn’t take long for me to feel like I was trapped in a bad dream – one which I quickly realized wouldn’t end until the Passion story had played out. One of the questions in the Reading Group Guide at the end was, “Why do Michael and Elizabeth keep finding excuses to stay in Jerusalem one more day?” The answer seemed obvious: because the author needs them to, in order for them to take part in the Easter story.

The ongoing narrative is interrupted by many flashbacks giving back-story scenes from the lives of Michael, Elizabeth and Leah. Despite the sometimes less-than-stellar reputation of the flashback as a storytelling device, I felt these worked well. They are told in the same brisk style as the main narrative (read an excerpt) and fill the reader in on pertinent background information.

The main characters are likeable enough. Sullivan does a great job of depicting Elizabeth as a typical teenager in the modern setting part. Elizabeth and Michael’s relationship is warm and tangible – though he does have a tendency to smother her, and she is often whiny, demanding, and acts like a typical spoiled only child. Both Michael and Leah gained my sympathy through the flashback scenes of Michael’s difficult childhood, his relationship with his wife, and the death of Leah’s husband.

One of the big issues that Michael struggles with is how to make sense of his wife’s tragic and untimely death. In this regard, I thought Sullivan’s explanation (in the “Author Q&A” section) of how he came to explore handling life’s pains in the way he did is revealing and speaks to what he hoped to accomplish in the book:

“I was without money and a roof over my head, riding the E train in New York City at night. I sought help from many including a family friend who helped run a church. He turned me back into the cold New Year’s eve night in 1983…. I found myself questioning the wrong person – Jesus Christ. So I wanted to send my characters back in time to restore the meaning of life to myself. I wanted my characters to be part of history’s most important moment. I wanted them to experience what the true meanings of life, faith, and sacrifice really are” pp. 248-9. (Read more personal thoughts written by the author on his blog.)

All in all, in Necessary Heartbreak Sullivan has written a thought-provoking book about the roles that pain and the healing of faith and time play in maturing us and helping us live fully. A sequel – The Greatest Christmas Gift – is in the works.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Mural - Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC


Next week: FACE (Portrait, Self-Portrait, Happy Faces, Emotions,...)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

classic poem #4

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Monday, April 19, 2010

classic poem #5

A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

what's up

Lately it's been all book reviews, Thursday Challenges and classic poems here at promptings.This is just to let you know, there is a real person behind all the words - and photos, and here's what's up with me lately.

Wild bleeding heart - April 4, 2010 at Elgin Park in Surrey
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

I'm loving spring. It's early this year and so welcome. The trees are already in leaf. Daffodils are finished, tulips still opening here and there, the azaleas and rhodos,
the latter especially usually reserved for May, are popping all over the place.

Shield your eyes! Just had to capture this pink explosion of azalea color.
April 14, 2010 in Langley

I had some fun with my computer just over a week ago when I upgraded from Mac OSX 4 - (Tiger) to OSX 6 (Snow Leopard). I  always find installing software stressful no matter how easy it's supposed to be. Fortunately the install went smoothly, though I lost the ability to print for a few hours, until I got in touch with one of the boys at Simply who told me to 'simply' delete my printer, then add it again. It worked!

I also noticed, after a few days of the new OS, that all my applications were loading very slowly. Mail was positively spastic. Since Snow Leopard is supposed to improve speed, I wondered what I had done to make old Newton the exception. When things got ridiculous, I had visions of $$'s worth of repairs / memory upgrades etc. Before I did anything drastic, though, I tried the trusty old cure-everything fix from PC days: shutdown and restart. Voila! Just like that my computer was back to its zippy old self. What a relief!!

One of the main reasons I upgraded was for the Time Machine backup feature. Now I'm backed up daily - actually hourly as long as I leave it on - a good feeling. (A few days after I upgraded, hubby saw a feature on the evening news on another backup system - an external hard drive called Click Free. It looks interesting too!)

Creamy magnolia blossoms - captured on 
one of my walks around Langley this week.

Volunteer-wise the Alpha season is over. My job as kitchen setup and cleanup coordinator is done. It's nice to have Tuesday nights free again.

Writing-wise I've given my notice for the Poet's Classroom columns at Utmost. Two more and my columnist days there are done. I enjoyed writing those and learned so much. But after almost two years' worth of monthly articles I'm squeezed dry. It's time for someone else to take up the baton.

Tulips just outside our front door

I still write though - a poem a day so far in April using Robert Brewer's prompts at Poetic Asides. And I still blog daily at Other Food: daily devo's. Writing daily devotions is probably the most challenging and significant writing I've ever done - and I love it! What better subject to write about than the Bible, God, His relationship with us and ours with Him!

That's what's up with me. What about you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Japanese Garden (part of Butchart Gardens - Victoria, BC)


Next week: FOOD (Meals, Restaurants, Eating, Vegetables, Unusual Foods, Cooking, BBQs,...)

classic poem #6

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so’

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Monday, April 12, 2010

classic poem #7

A Vagabond Song

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood--
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

By Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Friday, April 09, 2010

classic poem #8

Spring’s Saraband

Over the hills of April
With soft winds hand in hand,
Impassionate and dreamy-eyed,
Spring leads her saraband.
Her garments float and gather
And swirl along the plain,
Her headgear is the golden sun,
Her cloak the silver rain.

With color and with music,
With perfumes and with pomp,
By meadowland and upland,
Through pasture, wood, and swamp,
With promise and enchantment
Leading her mystic mime,
She comes to lure the world anew
With joy as old as time.

The bluebird in the orchard
Is lyrical for her,
The blackbird with his meadow pipe
Sets all the wood astir,
The hooded white spring-beauties
Are curtsying in the breeze,
The blue hepaticas are out
under the chestnut trees.

The maple buds make glamour,
Viburnum waves its bloom,
The daffodils and tulips
Are risen from the tomb.
The lances of Narcissus
Have pierced the wintry mold;
The commonplace seems paradise
Through veils of greening gold.

Quick lifts the marshy chorus
To transport, trill on trill;
There's not a rod of stony ground
Unanswering on the hill.
The brooks and little rivers
Dance down their wild ravines,
And children in the city squares
Keep time, to tambourines.

O heart, hear thou the summons,
Put every grief away,
When all the motley masques of earth
Are glad upon a day.
Alack, that any mortal
Should less than gladness bring
Into the choral joy that sounds
The saraband of spring!

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

CD reviews: Awesome God and To Be Like Jesus - worship music for kids

A variety of singable kid-friendly songs with theologically sound yet easy-to-understand lyrics are what you’ll find in the two CDs of worship music for kids (7-10 years) produced by Sovereign Grace Music.

“How do children learn about God’s greatness? One excellent way is to sing songs that express God’s character and nature in words that kids understand.”
(about Awesome God - Sovereign Grace Music)

Awesome God, released in 2004, contains twelve songs that explore the attributes of God. In music styles that range from rock to folk, these songs touch on many aspects of who God is and what He is like. He is proclaimed creator (“Almighty God”), eternal (“Forever God”), omnipresent (“You Are Always With Me”) and omnipotent (“Sovereign One”). There are songs about Jesus (“Mighty Mighty Savior”) and the trinity (“Three In One”). The album ends with a strong presentation of the Gospel in “The Gospel Song and “Have You Heard?”

Lead voices (not all children) combine with children and teen choirs to give the songs lots of variety and keep it from being too treble-shrill (something that easily happens when only children’s voices are used).

The lyrics, besides being biblically based, are easy for kids to relate to. What kid wouldn’t understand:
“When I’m all alone and afraid
I will trust in You....
When I don’t get to have my own way
I will trust in You” (from “Sovereign One”)

Songs are sung in a straightforward way, making the CD easy to sing along with. The Awesome God project has a choice of four CD case pictures so kids can choose their own covers. Of course lyrics are included.

Listen to clips and purchase Awesome God here.

“Did you know that God says your life is supposed to be like a fruit tree?
He’s talking about something much more important than apples, oranges, or bananas. The fruit God wants in our lives is the kind the Holy Spirit produces in us when we know and follow Jesus.”
(about To Be Like Jesus - Sovereign Grace Music)

The To Be Like Jesus project (2009) has a spiritual fruit theme. Its twelve songs address topics like “Joy,” “Peace,” patience (“Gotta Wait”), Kindness (“Show Me Your Kindness”), hope (“Jesus You’re My Hope”) and more.

Many of the songs have the same rock band sound of the earlier project. If anything it has even more variety in musical styles. “Gotta Wait,” for example, sounds a lot like the Beatles, “You Show Me Kindness” has a reggae sound, while “Give Me Self Control” has bluegrass overtones. The same mix of vocalists (adult and child leads, along with a couple of children’s choirs) again tones down the high-pitched sound of children’s voices, ensuring a very listenable CD.

I highly recommend both these musical projects. Give them to your kids for personal use, or sing the songs and talk about them during family devotions at home. Teachers in church or school will also find them useful to supplement teaching about God and how to live the Christian life. The original lyrics (included in the CD notes) are solidly based on Scripture. The original tunes are lively and done in a modern style kids (and their parents) will relate to.

Listen to clips and purchase To Be Like Jesus here.

To Be Like Jesus from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

(I received these CDs as a gift from Sovereign Grace Music for the purpose of writing a review. The opinions expressed are my own.)

small animals



Next week: GREEN (Plants, Spring Growth, Gardens, Clothing, Green Things,...)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

classic poem #9

How Do I Love Thee
Sonnets from the Portuguese

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

classic poem #10

Music, When Soft Voices Die

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory –
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

april - national poetry month

Happy April - and that's no fooling!

April is National Poetry Month in Canada and the U.S. I have decided to celebrate it by preparing some poetic treats for the blog this month.

1. Top ten classic poems.
A week or so ago, Sherry, who writes the popular Semicolon blog, initiated the top 100 classic poems project. She invited other poetry lovers to submit their top ten classic poems (classic meaning old, as in having stood the test of time, and published before 1923 so in the public domain). I submitted my top favs to her - and thought that I would dish them out slowly here on promptings. So watch for those postings to begin Saturday (April 3rd) with Number 10.

2. 100 Classic Poems:
Stay tuned to the Semicolon blog where Sherry will unveil the top 100 classic poems as suggested by her readers.

3. 2010 - 30 Poets 30 Days:
Gregory K. Pincus at GottaBook is doing an "April 2010 - 30 Poets 30 Days" project. He will post a previously unpub'd poem a day by well-known and published children's poets

4. Poem-A-Day Challenge:
If you're itching to try your hand at writing poetry of your own, Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides will feature a prompt for every day in April and a poem he has written in response to that prompt to help get the creative juices flowing. You can later submit five of your best poems for some recognition (should your poems catch Robert's eye). Challenge guidelines are here.

5. National Poetry Month Blog Tour:
Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit is hosting a National Poetry Month Blog Tour. Catch it here (and join in by linking your poetry month postings via her Mr. Linky; you're even invited to nab a button - I did!)

There are bound to be other things - which I will list here as I become aware of them.

I will also prepare this page as a standalone (called "April Poetry 2010") and linked just under the blog banner. Return any time during the month to find the links and see what more is happening.

A Happy Poetic April to us all!!


"The Hulks" - recycling on a grand scale

According to the tourist sign:
"'The Hulks,' Powell River's floating breakwater of ships have been part of the waterfront since 1930. Over the years, 10 ships built of wood, and reinforced concrete have been brought to Powell River for use in the breakwater. The concrete ships that made up the breakwater were built for use in the First and Second World Wars.

Concrete ships were built when there was a shortage of plate steel for ship construction. They were found to be too heavy in relation to their cargo-carrying capacity to compete with steel cargo vessels during peacetime."

More "environment" photos: Thursday Challenge

Next week: SMALL ANIMALS (Pets, Insects, Birds,...)

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