Tag Archives: Ottawa

Riven

My first poem for April’s poetry month. I decided to do an Ottava rima because it sounded like Ottawa, where I live, even though Ottawa has nothing to do with the number 8. (Ottawa is derived from the Algonquin word “adawe”, which means “to trade.”)

The poem has eight lines with an abababcc rhyming scheme. Inspired by the photo below.

Riven

An ash where deer once roamed in sombre shade,
  Returned to ash by lighting strike — one flash,
Nature's lumberjack felled this spine so splayed,
  With a forked bolt, one cracking, wicked lash,
Defiant though blackened, stripped and decayed,
  It will birth new life from the V-shaped slash,
Out of mottled dust and ashes of death, 
Life ruptures forth, emerges, takes first breath. 

© 2021 Arlene Smith

Put a happy face on it: Pothole city

Going through old posts, I found a picture to give us a boost today.

Orange happy face painted on a pothole
Happy face pothole

It is the time of year for potholes in Ottawa, Canada where I live. The ground is thawing and contracting after expanding through the frozen winter. Road salt exacerbates the damage to the asphalt that crumbles under the wheels of cars.

On this pothole, patched by black asphalt, a happy person painted an orange happy face.

When life sends you potholes, put on a happy face.

Natural beauty: Ottawa

I live in Ottawa, Canada, and even I found this image stunning.

Winter is here, but it has been too “warm” (a relative term) to produce ice thick enough to support people on the Rideau Canal Skateway—the world’s largest skating rink. The conditions did produce this natural beauty though.

I’ll take it, even as I count the days until I can tie up my skates to glide on that ice.

Still, and again, with the sheep

I had a blog at another URL, but I have been transitioning readers to this one. I plan to remove the other site someday, when the traffic there dwindles. The problem is, I still get many visitors to that site because of two posts: one about sheep, and the other about squirrels.

Maybe I should become a nature writer?

By far the most popular post is about sheep. Still, and again, I ask, why do so many people search for sites about sheep?

Do they feel like “lost sheep,” and need solace? Or are they “black sheep” and want to feel they aren’t alone? Maybe some kids need a sheep picture for a school project? Here’s one I took at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Canada. Feel free to use it.

lost-sheep

[Did you know that Ottawa, Canada has a farm in the middle of the city? Check it out. Central Experimental Farm]

Maybe we worry that we are becoming “sheeple,” blindly following along?

The website Sheep101.com informs me that the instinct to play follow the leader is hardwired into the brain of sheep. They can’t help sticking close to the sheep in front of them.

“When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good ‘decision.’ For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. If one sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow.”

Sheep101.com

Sounds like sheeple to me.

They don’t even walk in straight lines. They wind back and forth so they can see behind them, first with one eye and then with the other, to watch for predators. In the natural world of predator and prey, sheep are prey. Their herding instinct keeps them together, because any “lost sheep” are vulnerable. They will be the first devoured by the pack of wolves.

No wonder those lost sheep need to be found.

As for the black sheep, Sheep 101 tells me that there were black sheep in the Old West of America. The black sheep were fewer in number and easy to spot, so they were used as “markers” to help count the sheep—one for every hundred sheep. The old time farmers said, “Once your markers are in, your flock is in.”

If you consider yourself to be the black sheep, know how useful you are. We need you to keep us sorted.

And now, I’m going to delete sheep from my other site. The squirrels are next. (I’ve got not deal with the squirrels.)

Different kinds of brave

You might be dismayed to learn the number of times that I’ve been told over the past year that I am “brave.”

My feat of daring? Letting my hair return to its natural colour.

On the weekend my husband was told many times that he was brave.

His courageous act? Performing a stand-up comedy routine for the first time.

If each of us were to create a “bravery spectrum,” we would place different actions in different places.

For those with a fear of public speaking, a stand-up comedy routine would be off-the-charts. For others, it might be more in the middle. Most people would agree that it takes guts to be vulnerable in front of an audience that way.

But my hair colour? Please. Let’s not even.

There are people who perform acts of bravery truly worthy of our admiration.

  • First responders who run toward danger. Firefighters, police, paramedics, and members of our military who put their lives on the line every day.
  • Volunteers who work in vulnerable countries around the world, healing the sick or wounded, building wells, providing food.
  • Refugees who leave behind everything they know and start over in a place where everything is foreign to them.
  • Staff and volunteers who work with the vulnerable people right in our own back yards, supporting the homeless, encouraging those affected by mental health issues of addictions.
  • Single parents who juggle work and family, doing their best to provide for their loved ones.

What do you think of as “brave”?

Stand-up routine at Absolute Comedy, Ottawa
It takes guts to do this.

Life well lived: A nail of gold

Into God’s temple of eternity,
Drive a nail of gold.

—The father of Raymond Moriyama, found in his book In Search of a Soul

Raymond Moriyama is the Japanese-Canadian architect behind the Canadian War Museum.

During the Second World War, his family was sent to an internment camp in British Columbia. But his father was separated from them and sent to a POW camp in Ontario. The family was eventually reunited and when Moriyama graduated from high school, his father gave him a hand scripted copy of the quote above.

The words have been popping into my head in recent weeks. Perhaps Remembrance Day prompted that, because one of Moriyama’s war museum design features was a shaft of light that shines on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11:00 a.m. on November 11.

The inspirational quote makes me want to get off my couch. It makes me try that little bit harder to finish whatever I’m doing to its fullest extent.

To make whatever I’m doing a little bit shinier.