I Ask My Mother To Sing (Li-Young Lee)

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
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I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
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But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
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Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
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Li-Young Lee
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I’ve been reading the poetry of Li-Young Lee recently.  There is something truly beautiful about his writing.  Even though Li-Young Lee is a well known poet in America, I’ve not heard of his name or writing before.  While reading his poetry it spoke to me of an experienced poet, one who considers carefully about what he wants to convey in a deeply literary sense, but still manages to create poems anyone can relate to.  He writes a lot of his childhood and family which is a subject I’m often drawn to write about myself.
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After reading I Ask My Mother To Sing it reminded me of the water lily I captured in Plantation Garden, Norwich… I thought they would go well together.  I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I did.
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If you would like to read more of Li-Young Lee’s poetry you can find a selection at the Poetry Foundation.
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While looking up who this wonderful poet was I found an old video on You Tube where he reads some of his poems and talks a little about the background of his family and where he was born in Indonesia.

If you enjoyed this video you may also like this one too, where he reads another selection of his poetry at a public event at The University Of California.  If you’ve not heard of Li-Young Lee, the introductory is well worth a listen.

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A Return To Photography

Suzy Hazelwood (CC)

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Forty years have slipped by
and I never even noticed
once more… here my feet are

The eight year old
got lost along the way
maybe I’ll find her again… somewhere

But you stand strong
unmoved
unaged
not by a single day

I want to capture
all the magic
to be left
with a little piece of you

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This poem was inspired by the picture I captured of the carousel scene last summer.  It’s the very same carousel I took a few memorable rides on at The Pleasure Beach in my childhood years while visiting the seaside town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.  The photo was taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  I was hoping to take a variety of pictures of the funfair, but arrived a little late in the season and found it was closed!  If it looks ghostly… it kind of was! 😖   I’m looking forward to visiting again this year to get some vibrant funfair pictures.

I used to do a lot of photography back in the late 80’s, it became my main hobby for several years.  I took all kinds of pictures, but I found after a while I was most interested in taking portraits.  It turned out to be what I was best at, and I got into those portraits in a big way.  I really loved making people look fabulous, it was great fun.  I wish I could show you the results, but those images are way too personal to post on my blog.  I’m sure my friends from back in the 80’s (most I’ve lost touch with now) wouldn’t be too happy with me posting their portraits online!  But I do have an album on Flickr with a small selection of some of the more general pictures I took in the 80’s and 90’s.

By the time I moved to my own home in my mid twenties, I found I never had much money left to spend on photography.   It was an expensive hobby back in those days.  I didn’t use my camera for several years, and when I finally got back to it, I discovered some deterioration.  My pictures were turning out blurred, but the thought of having to spend money I didn’t really have on a camera repair caused me to entirely lose interest.  That was the end of my photography for many years.  I have posted a few pictures previously on this blog I took with my brother’s old Cannon PowerShot A610, but now, with a new camera in my hands, I think I can finally say I’ve returned to photography, and it feels wonderful!

Although high quality cameras are still very expensive, at least the processing of images doesn’t have to be costly.  I get such a thrill out of how it costs me nothing at all to get my images looking exactly how I want them.  At the moment, I don’t use Photoshop, I use a free program called Photoscape.  Obviously the options it offers will never be as vast as Photoshop, but for fairly basic image editing, plus some creative options, it’s all I need at the moment.

This year I bought a Sony A6000.  I really liked a lot of images I’d seen online taken with Sony cameras, but never thought I could afford one, as a lot of Sony cameras are at least a £1000 or more.  I bought my Sony A6000 for less than £450.  Obviously, there were a few extras to buy, and I will probably purchase other additional lenses in the near future, but I feel I got a very good deal on that camera.  I’ve barely begun to use it… I absolutely love the results!

It’s also very compact in size and incredibly lightweight, which is very important to me, as I dislike heavy bulky cameras.  If you are looking for a small camera with professional results to take on your holidays, the Sony A6000 might be perfect for that.

I’ve posted below two galleries below.  The first group were taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  Very pleased with the images that budget priced phone takes.  The second lot of images, I took this year with the Sony A6000.  It helps a lot to have a camera where you’re not forced to look through a view finder, it allows a lot freedom to move around at all angles.  So last week, I bought some flowers, parked them in front of my bedroom window, and got shooting.  Then moved on to my vintage books… and more flowers!  I found I’m not only improving on those little still things, I really enjoy seeing the end result.

Most of the images uploaded to my Flickr page are set to Creative Commons (non commercial).  If anyone is interested in using any of them for a blog post, they are free to use… as long as I’m credited for the image back to Flickr.  I’ve had a small selection of images used since last summer, and most bloggers have been good enough to stick to the CC licence and credit me, which is really nice to see.

(Update June 2019)  I still have a Flickr page, but I no longer use it for my new creative commons images, please see my Pexels page, where you can view all my latest photos.  Every image posted on my Pexels page is free to use under a public domain licence. (But please don’t post to wallpaper sites, or create your own wallpaper website from the images, Pexels will come after if you do, they don’t want their website duplicated.  Enjoy browsing Pexels vast collection of photography, and be creative, use the images for your own blog, social media posts or printed publications).

I would like to say a big thank you to all my WordPress photographer friends for inspiring me over the years.  I’m sure your fantastic images have done a great deal in helping me to return to a forgotten hobby,  and have also taught me lot about how to see the world through a digital camera.  Thank you so much… keep taking your awesome pictures!! 😊

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The Blue Box (Amazon)

The Secret ~ Revisited

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It was strange sitting on that bench looking at sandcastles we hadn’t built, kites stretched to the sky with no need of our hands.  It was strange seeing children in whirls of excitement for beach holidays, wild fairground rides waiting to induce the scream.  It was all… so familiar.

It was strange all of that, was no longer you or I.

We sat quiet, serene smiles on faces looking out to sea.  As if we’d arrived to watch a show, wondering where all the years had vanished.  How had we become the still people?  The ones slumped in deck chairs eating sandwiches, sipping lemonade with newspapers draped over heads, shading their pink English skin from the unexpected heat of the day.  How their eyes had followed us, amused at what our little hands could do with a plastic bucket, a spade, and a heap of soggy sand.

We have discovered, no matter how hard we try to keep all we’ve known alive, change is always certain.  Time ticks, and who we’ve become will continue to surprise.

We may be confused children, absent of Mum and Dad, empty of buckets and spades, with a lack of desire for castles made of sand, to cut the wind with a kite, get chills from awesome rides, or revel in artificial game score highs at the arcade.  But at least we are still a brother and sister who laugh a lot, share a precious moment, and remind ourselves appearances lie….we are the same people we always were.

It’s all on inside, not the outside.  And only we know the secret of how to find the real boy, the real girl.

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Some of you may remember this story from a post I created in September 2013 called The Secret.  It was a poem, with photos of a seaside town I visited in Lowestoft, Suffolk.  I’ve not done a repost before, so I decided to rewrite this into short story style and record it.

If you’ve read too much today, you can sit back, be lazy, rest your eyes and listen to this one!  The original post contains a lot more photographs of the day, a traditional British cream tea, and a beautiful surfing video filmed in Lowestoft.  If you’d like to see it you can view it here.

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51QgNPRw1mLDaughter Of Darkness ~ Katya Mills
Buy on Amazon
katyamills.com

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Tea Room Adventure

Biddy's Tea Room - Norwich - 3

 

My little adventure in tea and cakes-0002

Something different today – a sneaky peek of the city where I live.  In December I visited a vintage style tea room in Norwich (England).  I wish I could invite you all for afternoon tea, but hopefully this post will create the illusion you have done just that! 🙂

From the window display Biddy’s Tea Room looks more like a gift shop, and I’ve been walking past this gorgeous teashop for a long time not realizing it was somewhere to eat and just my kind of place.   That’s what happens when you live in a tourist city, you get used to the surroundings and you don’t see things in the same way as the visitors, you can end up missing out.  I shall pay more attention in the future.

Biddy’s Tea Room was created by Charlie Buchan in 2010.  She explains on her website I’ve always been interested in history and obsessed with antiques. I wanted Biddy’s to reflect the bits I loved in each era… the whimsicalness of the Victorians, the ingenuity of the Edwardians, the romance of the pre-Raphaelites and the work ethic of arts and crafts!  It’s a lot to ask-but I tried to cram as much of this into Biddy’s as I could – I always just hoped people ‘got it’?!

As you will probably see from my pictures, she really has created a wonderful glimpse into the history of afternoon tea and cake in beautiful English tea rooms.  It was like stepping back in time to a scene from an old movie.  I loved the genuine homely antique furniture and the variety of mismatched crockery.  It was just like my Grandmothers home – none of her plates, cups or saucers ever matched.

I kept saying to my brother, “I feel like we’re going meet some really interesting person from the past, perhaps Oscar Wilde sitting in an armchair writing some poetry!  It was a unique and delightfully surreal time travel experience!!

And of course, the tea and cake was delicious.  I’m looking forward to trying the restaurant upstairs to discover more of their main menu next time.  The staff were very friendly and relaxed too, and were happy for us to take some photos.  If you click on the gallery for these pictures they look so much better, there’s also an option under each picture to view them in full size.  The first two pictures and also the last one were taken by my brother, all the others are mine.

I didn’t use the flash on my camera because I wanted to capture the cosy feeling.  I was surprised I was able to get any good pictures without a lot of camera shake, I must have a more steady hand than I thought.  And if you’re wondering what that tall building with a string of Christmas lights around it is, it’s the city hall clock tower.

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I was amazed to find an excellent video on You Tube all about Biddy’s Tea Room (See further down post).  It shows all the bits I haven’t captured in the pictures, and also what it looks like in the summer season.

I’ve been living in this medieval city since 1990.  It was only meant to be temporary, I had some vague plan to live in London one day, but you couldn’t drag me away now, it is such a beautiful place to live.

Norwich has thirty-three medieval church buildings, two cathedrals, an art deco city hall and a striking Norman castle high on a hill looking down at the city centre.  Although the exterior of the castle was refaced in 1839 with Bath stone covering over the flint and Caen stone walling making the castle blend in with a lot of other new buildings of that era.  The original walls would have looked very different and can only be seen from the inside.  If you’re into historical buildings that’s a very good reason to pay it a visit and also take a look at it’s museum and scary dungeons – and believe me, they are very creepy!!

Also there are two large shopping malls, four cinemas, five theatres and a really vibrant outdoor market, trading virtually on the same spot for almost 900 years.  On Saturdays the city centre streets often come alive with buskers, and other street entertainers, we even have our own living statue of Charlie Chaplin Anthony Arnold not only performs in Norwich but has twirled that cane in Hollywood too on his many travels with his captivating performance of Charlie.

Each year in July we have a Lord Mayors Celebration, which is basically a huge carnival, including a beer and music festival, a selection of outdoor theatre productions, and a huge firework display launched from the roof of the castle as the grand finale of the evening celebrations.  Rockabilly band Derrière (from Brighton) performed at the festival just around the corner from Biddy’s Tea Room in 2012, and somehow, I managed to miss that show 😦 – they sound so good!  If you like the sound of their music you might like Battle Plan, one of their official videos.   Time to dance now!!

If anyone living in Norwich says they’re bored, it can only be a state of mind, there are so many things to do and places to visit in the surrounding area, you can never get bored living in this city.

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