An Autumnal Sunset

I have been spending a lot of time outside because this happens to be my favorite time of year. And, I am trying to enjoy the gorgeous weather we are having before the snow flies, or the cold, dark days set in.

While on a run two nights ago, the sun was setting in the west, but rain clouds had settled in the east. It made for an intense sunset. Rather than letting the pictures explain, I wanted to Haiku this event. Yes, I just used Haiku as a verb…seemed appropriate.

An Autumn Sunset

Autumn sunset with cotton candy clouds

Intense autumn hues,
clouds stretching from west to east—
Whispy cotton candy.

If you noticed, I strayed from 5-7-5. In the last line I used six syllables—artistic license. I don’t stray from the rules of haiku often, but it was appropriate today.

~

MFA in Creative Writing

I picked up a book called The Portable MFA in Creative Writing about a year ago. I have been to school for several things. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree and I also studied at an art school, but didn’t receive a certification. Anyway, I love school, but at this point in my life I simply cannot go back to school for one reason or another. Let’s just say money.

I have read all sections except for the poetry section. I started this yesterday and I wanted to share a few notes. It may seem obvious, but for those of us who are not only poetry writers, but writers of other genres, this tidbit is something to remember when searching for the perfect word(s).

“A good poem makes us sit up and take notice. A short story or novel may take us on a roller coaster of highs and lows, but is never as immediate as a poem simply because we expect to live in the world of the novel for the long haul. We settle in. We meander through.

In a poem every word counts, no matter how small, how seemingly insignificant. There is no filler in a poem, no transitional passage that works mainly to orient the reader to a shift in time or a particular setting.” Page 198

I’ll share more thoughts from my reading at a later date.

Does anyone have an MFA in Creative Writing? Was it worth the time and money?

~Nicole

 

 

 

 

At One with Nature

Hello,

I hope you have had a great weekend!

I enjoyed my hike so much on Friday, I decided to go back to Whitewater and hike a different trail on Saturday afternoon. It has been a nice alternative to running around my neighborhood or hitting the gym.

I hiked the Dakota trail and took a different route at the top. At the first fork in the trail I meandered down the hillside to the Valley Trail. The trail was shrouded by trees still full of leaves, and many of the downed trees and rocks were covered with moss.

Valley Trail in Whitewater State Park

Whitewater State Park

The trail followed the river for a bit and that’s were I found the inspiration for my next haiku.

Whitewater River in Whitewater State Park

Day 28: Haiku Challenge

Mossy river bank—
little nooks and crannies are
filled with the unknown.

Are any of you avid hikers or nature lovers?

~Nicole

The Tree of Life at Wine & Canvas

Happy Monday! (Is there such a thing?)

Friday, September 19th marked the second Wine & Canvas Event. Once again we had a great turn out. There were 12 spots that sold out within a week of the class being advertised. We even allowed two more to join because of the popularity.

Denise and I had everything set up by about 6:15 and had a little time to catch our breath. The painting we completed was the Tree of Life.

We painted the Tree of Life for Wine and Canvas

 

Everything is set up and we are ready for Wine & Canvas

Everyone arrived around 6:30 p.m. They poured their wine and hand-picked some of the delectable cheese and crackers Denise had purchased for the event. There was cranberry cheese and honey cheese and more…

For the painting, the background was a mixture of warm and cool color swirls, and once again, all the paintings were unique.

We started by painting cool colored circles mixing greens, blues and purples.

We started creating cool colored circles.

 

Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles

Then, we moved on and painted the upper half of the canvas with warm colors—reds, yellows and oranges. After the upper half was completed, we painted our landscape and trees.

Wine & Canvas paints a tree and landscape

Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree

And the finished product…

Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree

Wine & Canvas paints a tree

The next painting coming up in October is Make a Wish! Stay tuned for details.

And now for the haiku challenge.

Day 22: Haiku Challenge

Blended colors pose
in the background while The Tree
of Life grows roots.

Have you been to a Wine & Canvas event?

~Nicole

 

 

I’m Falling for Autumn

We are days away from the fall equinox, but, in my mind, when the leaves start changing colors, fall has arrived. I walked around my neighborhood Monday evening with my camera in tow. I snapped a few pictures of the maple leaves that had already started taking on a new color.

I liked this one…its time had come. The leaf had matured into a beautiful and orange-hued maple leaf and left the comfort of the big maple tree. It was resting gently on the ground.

Autumn colorful maple leaf

Day 16: Haiku Challenge

Veins long and leggy.
Maple leaf changing color—
now, autumn is here.

As I continue my haiku challenge, I wanted to highlight the importance of ‘Morning Pages.’ About 10 years ago, I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. She teaches her students to be “unblocked artists” by writing “Morning Pages,” or essentially, keeping a journal.

Since I have always kept a journal, it was a natural transition for me to write every morning. She prescribed three pages using ink and paper. I completed these pages for years, until one day I just stopped. I put the pages away for several years, and then began writing them again.

At this stage in my life, I write them for a few months and take a month or two off and repeat that cycle over and over. Recently, I found myself in need of the pages again. I always need them, but I don’t always write them. So Tuesday morning, I found myself scribing words, thoughts, dreams and prayers inside my journal.

A notebook and pen to jot down thoughts.

Day 17: Haiku Challenge

Words flooding from my
pen. Dreams scattered on paper
line, by line, by line.

The “Morning Pages” are honest and truthful. They always uncover what I am thinking, but sometimes ignoring on the surface. My husband and I love the Southwest. Arizona and New Mexico always come up in conversation when it comes to living in a new location. I found myself writing about the Southwest today.

So tonight, I found a decorative ceramic plate my mom gave to me on one of her trips to the Southwest. It resides in my china cabinet for now. Maybe some day it will have a mate and I will use them for more than decor.

Ceramic Decorative Spanish Plate

Day 18: Haiku Challenge

Flower petals are
bursting with warm yellow hues—
art of the Southwest.

I hope you have had a great week and accomplished all the writing goals you set.

Has anyone read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? What is your take on the book?

~Nicole

An Afternoon in Red Wing

Yes, I am behind on my haiku poems, but today is catch up day. I have lots of fun chores to finish (ha), a little writing to accomplish and a painting to create. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up on Friday the 19th. But first, a little slice of Minnesota life.

Saturday, Adlai and I went to Red Wing. It was another beautiful day. The sun was shining, it was chilly, but gorgeous nonetheless. We hopped in the car and took the back roads to Red Wing. My only wish was that I had more energy to enjoy the day. Last week was another busy week and I needed some time to relax…point being, I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was tired, and we ended up leaving earlier than expected.

First, we stopped for lunch. It was late afternoon and most of the restaurants were closed or were only serving a few menu items. We ended up with a couple of sandwiches from the local coffee shop.

After lunch, we walked through downtown Red Wing. One of our first stops was the Red Wing Shoe retail store. Red Wing, Minnesota is home to the famous Red Wing boots. The retail store also included a museum with the largest boot in the world.

The largest boot in the world is at the Red Wing museum in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Now that’s a big boot!

The museum had a lot of information about the types of leather used and different methods of cutting and the construction of the boots.

I used to sew a lot, so I thought this little gem deserved a spot in the post too.

An industrial sewing machine at the Red Wing Boot museum.

An industrial sewing machine at the Red Wing Boot museum.

Scissor storage

A little alcove to store a pair of scissors.

After our trip through the museum, we headed over to the Red Wing Confectionery. They had an array of chocolate candy…we decided on a dark chocolate and peanut butter truffle and an Amaretto truffle.

Truffles from the local confectionery.

Truffles from the local confectionery.

After the confectionery, we stopped in a book store. I am a sucker for used book stores because I hate paying full price for books. While we were looking around, the clerk asked us if we had been in the book store before. We told him no, and he said their policy was to gift one book per person for first timers.

He asked us which genre or author we preferred, he picked a book and gave us a few minutes to read about the book. If we liked it, he told us to keep it. Of course, that made us want to buy another book since we were getting a free one. We left with 4 books for $12. Not bad…I picked a Stephen King and a Harlan Coben book. Adlai found something on hunting.

After that, we meanered through an antique shop and then headed home.

Haiku Challenge

On to my haiku poems. I couldn’t resist this little piece of art. There were several boots that various artists had painted in Red Wing. This one was my favorite. The other image is a late summer sky, and the last one is from the Badlands.

Street Art in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Day 12: Haiku Challenge

Whimsical artwork
illustrates life in Red Wing.
Stop and have a look.

 

Late summer sky

Day 13: Haiku Challenge

Above the treetops
watching a late summer sky—
gray and pink clouds sigh.

The Badlands

Day 14: Haiku Challenge

What dwells in the hills?
Summer is too hot — survive
the dry, chalky land.

I finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Details regarding the book in tomorrow’s post.

I hope you had a lovely Sunday!

~Nicole

What’s everyone reading?

The Beautiful Black Hills

I am suffering from wanderlust. I am itching to jump a train, hop in a car or run to catch a plane. I don’t care which, but I want to go NOW! 

This urge to travel has been the inspiration for the last couple of blog posts. The last two posts were from my journey to the U.K. last year. So today, I thought I would give you a little slice of Americana.

Adlai and I traveled to South Dakota back in July and I took some photos of the beautiful landscape in Custer State Park. The photo is  hazy because of the cloud coverage that day.

The Black Hills 2014.

We loved driving through the Black Hills.

Day 10: Haiku Challenge

Rocky slivers reach
for the sky. Vegetation
is so sparse and dry.

Anyone else suffering from wanderlust?

Have you been to South Dakota (Custer State Park region)?

~Nicole

Memories of Stonehenge

Ever since I studied art history in college, I have always wanted to go to Stonehenge. Last year I had the opportunity to go while on a business trip to London. I took a few extra days for myself and traveled the city and the English countryside.

It was an amazing experience, and I am excited to share this photo and another haiku.

I visited Stonehenge in August of 2013.

Memories from my August 2013 trip to the U.K.

Haiku Challenge: Day 8

Mysterious stones;
they connect us to the past.
We still search for the truth.

Have you been to Stonehenge?

~Nicole

It’s Time for the Haiku Challenge!

I can’t believe it’s September! Although, I love the Minnesota summers, Autumn is also another beautiful time of the year. I thought it would be fun to combine one of my favorite forms of poetry along with photography to create the Haiku Challenge!

Traditionally, haiku has been constrained to the 5-7-5 rule, meaning, the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables. But, at times, modern haiku deviates from these rules.

According to the website Poets.org, haiku often focuses on images from nature. Haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression.

Poets.org goes on to discuss some of the masters of haiku poetry. Among the greatest traditional haiku poets are Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. Here are a few examples from the masters of haiku poetry:

Matsuo Basho

An old pond!
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.

Yosa Buson

An evening cloudburst
sparrows cling desperately
to trembling bushes

Kobyashi Issa

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.

Masaoka Shiki

the sun set behind
a traveling monk
tall in the withered field

Here is the image for my first Haiku. 

One of the many bridges on Trout Run trail in Whitewater State Park.

One of the many bridges on Trout Run trail in Whitewater State Park.

Haiku Challenge: Day 1

A tranquil, shallow
creek—resilient bridge supports
the lonely hiker.

One of the main reasons I love haiku poetry is for its simplicity. As I read through the traditional and contemporary haiku poems, I am amazed at how easy it looks to write. But, when I sit down and put pen to paper, it’s always a challenge!

Have you ever tried writing haiku poetry?

What other forms of poetry do you like writing?

Happy Labor Day!

~Nicole