Blogger Recognition Award

Winter driving has always been one of my least favorite things to do. Imagine that. It was part of my job before I retired – driving a semi in the Buffalo and Western New York area. I got to do just that last weekend – thankfully in a car and not a semi – as I drove home in a lake effect snow storm on I-86 between Jamestown and Erie. That experience was tempered (just a little) while pulled off the road to clean my windows, when I was pleasantly surprised by a WP notification that I had been nominated by Jim Webster for The Blogger Recognition Award.

Jim Webster is a farmer and an author who writes about his books and about farm life in Britain, as well as about his community of South Cumbria and Britain, at large, often providing insightful observations of human character. Speaking of human character, Jim also has a site where he tells the tales of Tallis Steelyard, a poet with the highest of standards, sometimes exercised in the lowest of places. Tallis has appeared here many times as a guest blogger while on book tours, telling tales of Port Naain society, as seen through the eyes of a jobbing poet.

I was back home in Missouri, snug as a bug in a rug, when I received notification that Sue Vincent also had nominated me for The Blogger Recognition Award. I started following Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo when I discovered her #writephoto / Thursday Photo Prompt, in which she offers a weekly photo, taken in her travels about Britain. And boy, does she travel, visiting historic sites in Britain, as far as the northern reaches of Scotland, with her colleagues in the Silent Eye, recounting their experiences of visual and spiritual discovery. Her blog also includes poetry, sometimes written by her roommate, Ani, a canine with a most astute nature.

The rules for The Blogger Recognition Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

I started this blog in April 2014, when I wrote a poem for each day of the month to participate in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I started following a handful of poets, but once April was over I slacked off, both in posting and reading other poets. I participated again in 2015 and realized I needed that motivation to write. I started reading the poets I followed, adding more as I went along. I found that, by the end of the year, I was writing on a more regular basis, often inspired by the words I was reading, as well as in response to prompts provided by some of those bloggers. I’ve discovered a very welcoming community on WordPress and consider many of those with whom I interact to be friends, people I would enjoy meeting. A stop along my recent trip home showed just how possible that is.

Occasionally, I’ll post a blog with photos I’ve taken while kayaking, hiking, or traveling, but poetry continues to be my main focus.

I’ve had this blog for more than five years, now, and last year I switched to a paid plan on WordPress, for two reasons. First, to have the option to include audio files in which I read some of my poems; and second, to remove the ads from my blog. Occasionally, I will create a video poem, which I embed after posting it on YouTube.

If I were to offer advice to new bloggers, it would be to reply to the people who comment on your posts. As you interact with them, both on your blogs and in comments on theirs, you’ll find a community opening up before you.

As a second bit of advice: We all need encouragement. Even a simple “Like” lets us know that others have seen what we have to say, so do the same for those you have read. And comment, when possible. Sometimes I struggle to find the right words for a comment, but I will do so when I can find those words.

Normally, I don’t take part in blogger awards, so I’m going to forgo nominating other bloggers for this. Regardless, please take the time to find out what Sue and Jim (and his alter ego, Tallis) are all about.

I’ll add one more thing: I wish I could follow more bloggers, but, as it is, sometimes I find it hard to keep up with those I do follow. Real life gets in the way, but that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Ken Gierke

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank Dwight from Roth Poetry for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. He reminds me that so much of the enjoyment of blogging comes from interaction with other bloggers. The rules of the award include nominating 10 people to participate in the award and listing 10 personal facts. I don’t feel comfortable passing on awards, but I will include 10 bits of trivia about myself.

  • I ran the quarter-mile while in high school. My girlfriend at the time was none too happy when we were late to our senior prom because I spent the day at the state track meet.
  • Until 2012, I lived all of my life within 2 miles of the Niagara River, and within a quarter-mile the last thirty years.
  • Since then, I’ve been living within 3 miles of the Missouri River – blue water exchanged for muddy water.
  • My wedding was held outdoors last year, next to a lighthouse on the shore of Lake Erie. So was my wife’s. 😉
  • I have three children – two sons and a daughter. My sons are a computer engineer and an IT/service tech for an internet provider, and my daughter is a grade school counselor.
  • I was a scuba diver for 17 years. My dives included ice dives, trips to the Caribbean and Rhode Island, and wreck diving in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, the Straits of Macinac, Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River. The majority of my dives were in the Niagara River, finding many things that could only be considered treasures by scuba divers, including bottles, a musket and a 300 pound anchor. I have never gone over Niagara Falls (except 3 times in a helicopter).
  • I was a member of the Teamsters union as a dock worker and truck driver for 33 years, and served as a union steward for 20 of those years.
  • I retired with a 30 year pension when I was 53. I have since spent my time writing poetry, taking photographs, and kayaking.
  • Nearly 60 years old at the time, I once was stopped by U.S. border agents when I was leaving the country to visit Canada. They inspected my car, including prying at my door panels, and emptying the trunk. I guess they thought I looked suspicious. (Canada admitted me, no questions asked, and my return to New York later in the afternoon was non-eventful.) I didn’t tell them about the time I was denied entry into Canada in 1973 – in the days before computer records. Back then, I definitely looked suspicious.
  • I have met more than 40 people in person whom I initially met online, traveling to Turnersville, NJ, Reading, PA, Cleveland, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Youngstown, OH, Erie, PA, Chicago, IL, Peoria, IL, Lansing, MI, San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Shreveport, LA, and Nashville, TN, in the process.

Bonus trivia: My diving ended after my ankle was broken by a 6,000 pound forklift that knocked me over, rolled onto my ankle and stopped there. They say I screamed like a little girl. It’s one of favorite stories.

I encourage anyone interested in telling us facts about themselves to please do so. Tell us about your suspicious activities! 😉

Ken G.

Kayaking Sights

Kayaking Sights

Back in March 2017, I posted a blog (with a video) about kayaking monthly, explaining how I make the videos to post on Facebook as a way to stay connected to my family in Ohio and Western New York. Pat R. (jazzytower/thoughts and entanglements) suggested a photo blog showing some of the wildlife and sights that I see. I’ve finally organized my kayaking photos (which meant checking a LOT of folders on my hard drives – I haven’t been as organized as I should be) and here is that blog, fourteen months later!

(Clicking on each photo will open a tab with a larger view.)

I’ll start with a photo from Western New York. Before moving to Missouri, I took one last long paddle upstream on a section of Ellicott Creek that I hadn’t seen before from the water. It passes through the campus of the State University of New Your at Buffalo (UB) – actually in a suburb, Amherst. I’m glad that I did, because I took one of my favorite photos on that creek – with my cellphone!

Stream Serenity

Since moving to Missouri, I’ve continued to stay mostly in small streams and rivers. If I launch in the Missouri, I would need to make a “round trip,” paddling forever against the current. Paddling alone, I can’t leave one car at the exit point and take my kayak to a launch point upstream. I’ve paddled into the Missouri River and gone upstream a short distance (tough, against the current) to drift/paddle back downstream to the stream I started in, but that’s it. To control the buildup of silt in the Missouri (and control bank erosion) the Army Corp of Engineers constructs stone wing dams. Sometimes a couple hundred feet long, they angle from the shore to direct the current. Even with this, dredging to maintain a channel is a year-round project.

Wing Dam.jpg

Occasionally, I will paddle on the Osage River. It’s half as wide as the Missouri, and the current is mild enough that I can paddle two to four miles upstream without any problem. I don’t often paddle late in the day, but this sunset on the Osage is one of my favorite photos. The farm field beyond the trees was covered in smoke (which drifted across the river at times) from a controlled burn.

Forest Afire

The Osage River and many of the other rivers and smaller streams have sections that run right next to tall limestone bluffs. Missouri is known for its caves, so it’s not unusual to see small caves in those bluffs.

Bluff Caves

Under Cover

I can count on seeing wildlife on most river paddles. Great blue herons, turtles and turkey vultures are three creatures I see nearly every time (except December on into March for turtles and herons).

Heron Lookout

Terrapin Camo

Embracing the Wind

A green heron is much smaller than a great blue heron, about the size of a crow.

Green Heron

I may not see bald eagles soaring over the smaller streams as often as I do over the Missouri and the Osage, but I’m more likely to see one perched closer to the water of those streams.

Regal Pose.jpg

This juvenile bald eagle (below) sat on a branch twenty-five feet above a stream, and dropped into the water just ahead of me to catch a catfish in shallow water, struggling to get it to shore.

Fisher_collage

Fisher.jpg

And finally, some creatures that I see while kayaking are a little more fantastic than others.

Thirst Quencher

Ken G.

Post Na/GloPoWriMo 2018

 

National Poetry Writing Month was the inspiration for starting this blog in 2014, and, as I enter my fifth year here at WordPress, I’ve just met that challenge for the fifth time.  With the 30 days of National/Global Poetry Writing Month behind us, I managed to post a poem each day. Some days I posted as many as 3 times, for a total of 48 posts. 14 of those posts contained a total of 26 haiku. I met the prompts of Maureen Thorson at napowrimo.net for 19 days (and twice for one of the prompts) and relied on other prompts for most of the remaining days.

As usual, I enjoyed reading the prompt responses at napowrimo.net, and I made a point of reading at least 90% of those on most of the days. Reading and writing took a lot of my time, but I’ll likely fall back into my routine of (way) less than a poem per day for awhile.

Thank you to everyone who has read my poetry this past month and to all who commented. Those comments are a nice dose of encouragement.

Ken G.

NaPoWriMo 2018

no spring sprouts – Troiku #2a

ADD is my friend. I try to keep that friend at a safe distance, but apparently he has been looking over my shoulder for the past week, as evidenced by two recent poems, both having very faint similarities to the final products I intended to post, “showers in the night” and “no spring sprouts – troiku #2” (now renamed “ADD troika”).

With “showers in the night” I pasted an early draft into the editor. I corrected that in the comments.

ADD troiku? I have no idea what is going on there. Well, actually, I do. The source haiku, credited to Claire Vogel Camargo (that credit now removed) is my first haiku of the troiku, the first two of my three should be the last two, and the last haiku is from my troiku on January 7th.

Yeah.  I even confuse myself.  Normally I am better at maintaining focus. Too many things on my mind, I guess. I think I’ll go outside now and work on reseeding my lawn.

Here is the correct troiku.  I think.  😉

no spring sprouts
in the herb garden
his heart attack
                    © Claire Vogel Camargo

no spring sprouts
nor desire to tend garden
in this time of loss

in the herb garden
nothing more than weed choked life
echoing my grief

his heart attack
takes my mind to dark places
mourning clouds my sights

A troiku is a form devised by Kristjaan Panneman at Carpe Diem: three haiku, with each of the three lines from a suggested haiku as the first line of each haiku in the troiku. I posted another troiku back in January, when the original haiku here (above) was provided at Carpe Diem.

Lichen My Mossy Missouri Hike (photo blog)

Lichen Mossy Hike_1

Autumn maple leaves, Osage Trail/Clark Hill Historic Site, Missouri

Lichen My Mossy Missouri Hike

The vertigo I experienced last week lasted nine days, with Monday and Thursday as the worst. The rest of the time was a little worse than being light-headed – as long as I was careful about standing, turning and sitting too quickly. By noon on Monday, I was feeling fine, so I did some yard work, mostly raking leaves, with no issues. I wanted to be sure I’d be able to go hiking on Tuesday.

I was a little light-headed when I woke on Tuesday, but feeling fine well before noon, so I headed out with my camera. I’ve been jonsin’ to get some fall photos, and it was a great day for it – 54° and partly cloudy – except for the leaves. It doesn’t look like we’ll have much in the way of fall colors this year. Still, it was a nice day for a hike. I could try again in a week, but it will be into November. The oaks will have started turning, but they don’t offer much color.

I started at Clark’s Hill Historic Site – just 13 acres at a point on the Missouri River that was a campsite for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Osage Trail (0.5 mile, one way) has a couple of steep climbs through forest, before it ends at a deck on the bluff, overlooking the former confluence of the Osage and Missouri Rivers (That confluence is now 5 miles away). The only interesting color was from a yellow maple tree. Of the few other maples I saw, half were already brown and the rest hadn’t changed yet. I’ve taken some nice leaf photos here in the past, so it’s worth the short trip.

From there I went to Painted Rock Conservation Area, 1500 acres that includes the Osage Bluff Trail, which weaves on and off bluffs that overlook the Osage River.

Lichen Mossy Hike_4

Osage River & Bloody Island Overlook
Osage Bluff Scenic Trail

There are the remains of a stone Indian burial cairn, and pictographs on one bluff face are visible from the river (not from the trail). There are a few more maples here, but with little color in those that had changed. As it happened, clouds moved in and I had overcast skies by the time I came out to the first overlook – not a great day for photos, so most that I took were of moss, lichen and rock formations.

Lichen Mossy Hike_5

As always, I enjoyed the hike, nearly 2 miles, including some off trail exploring to get my best photo of the day, beneath an overhanging rock formation, looking out on the river – testing my balance just a little bit more than I should.

Lichen Mossy Hike_12

Osage River seen from Painted Rock Conservation Area
(click for larger view)

Ken G.

 

Deux Presque Isles

The Big Day

Presque Isle Lighthouse, Erie, Pennsylvania

At our wedding on the shore of Lake Erie, at the Presque Isle Lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania, we learned that Michigan also has a Presque Isle, with two lighthouses of its own. We traveled there last week and stayed at a B&B while we explored the area and a few of Michigan’s 124 lighthouses. (In Pennsylvania, Presque Isle rhymes with “desk” and “aisle.” In Michigan it’s a French pronunciation, rhyming with “eel.”)

Our route took us through Wisconsin, where we visited a close friend, past Green Bay and across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where we crossed the Straits of Mackinac on the Mackinac Bridge and on to Presque Isle, on Lake Huron. From there we went to Holland, Michigan, (with another visit with a friend in Lansing) before heading home to Missouri.

“Presque Isle” is French for “peninsula” (literally, “almost an island”). Presque Isle at Erie is a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, while Presque Isle, MI, is located on a narrow strip of land separating Lake Huron from the much smaller Grand Lake. In Michigan, the town (and county) use the French pronunciation for Presque Isle. There is another Presque Isle, with a lighthouse, in Michigan on Lake Superior and a Presque Isle, Wisconsin (on land separating two interior lakes), as well as Presque Isle in northern Maine, on a peninsula formed at the confluence of two streams. Michigan was such a wonderful experience that I’m sure we’ll be back, with more time to take in Lake Superior.

(In the slide show, each photo offers a link to a larger image.)

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We also toured the New Holland Brewery, in Holland, Michigan.

Finalizing Details

Something about lakeshore.png

Those details, concerning details and other details, that prompted my absence a couple of weeks ago are being finalized this weekend.  Once again, my presence on WordPress will be scarce for the next week. I’ll be sure to catch up with reading when I return.

I’ll also catch up with writing. Fortunately, inspiration is not taking a holiday.  It’s more like the reason for the holiday.

Ken G.

Absence of Details

lessons

I need to attend to some details, concerning details and other details, so my presence on WordPress will be sporadic for the next week. I look forward to catching up with some reading when I return.

It also means a short break from writing – but not imagining. The wheels are always turning.

Ken G.

Optical Illusion – #writespiration

Optical Illusion

Optical Illusion

I love what you’ve done with the place! It was so empty and wanting when you first found it. It’s too bad you and Stephen didn’t last as a couple. He would have loved this. Funny, how he disappeared.

Tell me, wasn’t this room larger? That wall seems so much closer, now.

In Writespiration #117 52 Weeks in 52 Words Week 21, Sacha Black offers a photo (above) and asks that we tell a story of why the room is empty – in exactly 52 words. My response is a sequel, of sorts, to the response by Jane Dougherty.