Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

allegory of the rich man and his gardener June 21, 2014

Filed under: anecdotes,Commentary,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:20 pm
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An allegory:

Chris has the most beautiful garden in the city.  He has a gardener who has been working on it for years, carefully cultivating special plants, and creating special features that are the envy of people who come from all over the world to admire the garden.  The gardener is paid a fair salary for his expertise and years of training, so he is happy.

Years pass.  The gardener hasn’t had a raise in years, and things are getting more expensive.  Gas for his car now costs double what it did when he started working.

Chris asks the gardener to put in a fancy water feature, and several fruit trees. “I’ll cover the bill when rents are paid,” he says.  That’s fine, the gardener makes a good wage, and he loves the garden.

Chris goes around to his tenants to collect the rents.  To the small houses, he says, “The view improved now the neighbour’s tree is down.  You owe more.”

To the really huge houses, he says, “Never mind. You don’t have to pay your rent.”

Then he pays all his bills, but because he didn’t make the big houses pay their rent, he doesn’t have enough to pay the gardener all he’s owed.

Chris tells the gardener he still expects the fancy water feature and the fruit trees, as well as the lawn to be mowed, the beds weeded, and the shrubs pruned.

The gardener loves his garden: the new water feature is going to be stunning when he’s finished with it, and the fruit trees are amazing, blooming gloriously, but some fungus is creeping onto the petals, and then insects are bothering the fruit.  He can’t quite figure out how to stop that, but he’s read about a great fungicide that should work.  He just needs to test to see exactly what the problem is.

“I don’t have any extra money for this!” Chris declares.  “I pay you enough!  Your demands are ridiculous!”

The gardener wants his garden to be perfect, so he does his best, working in the evenings and bringing things from home.  He can’t afford to subsidize the proper fertilizer, tests, and fungicide, and when the mower runs out of gas, he can’t get more fuel  since he no longer can afford a car himself, so he can’t drive to get some.  He asks for an increase in his wages, and a budget that covers the demands Chris as made.

“This is not in line with what other gardeners are paid!” Chris shouts, though the gardener knows he is not asking for anything more than every other gardener in the city gets for the same kind of garden.

He begs Chris to please provide him with the budget necessary to do what he’s been asked, but Chris glowers and tells the gardener he’s being greedy and lazy.

The gardener tries repeatedly, feeling guilty about the way the fruit trees are dying, and he is frustrated because he knows if he could just get the proper funding for what is required, he could produce the kind of show garden Chris he wants.

With so much work, no extra staff, no supplies and not enough money to buy them, the garden inevitably falls into ruin.

“What a terrible gardener!” Chris says.  “I’m going to take back pay because he’s not working hard enough!”

“What a terrible gardener!” his golf club cronies in their rent free big houses agree, adding.  “It’s so hard to get good help cheaply any more.” Then they shout, “FORE!” as their golf ball sails over the artificial turf and the plastic flowers of their golf course.





In case you missed it:

Chris is Premier Christy Clark, the garden is the education system, and the gardener is the teachers.



November 4, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Friendship,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:44 pm

I was around when Anna was born, and watched her grow, a small, quiet girl with an independent spirit right from the beginning. I love reading her blog. This one is particularly poignant, because I knew and loved her granny as well. No one had as young a spirit as she did.


poem- parenthood September 26, 2013

On a non-stop eight hour drive,

we paused for fuel.

“What?” you asked

As you intercepted smirks

passed over your head,

when you climbed into the back seat

after the gas station bathroom break.

“Nothing,” we said, as we pulled

back onto the highway.

Even though your sister had been

traumatized when I left her

standing in the driveway as we tore off to the bus stop

that time,

while you waved at her from the back seat

and waited for me to notice,

this time

when your dad slammed the car door,

buckled up,

and drove away,

destination in his mind,

she was the one who said,

“Missing anyone?”

so when you climbed into the car,

you never even knew

you’d ever been left behind.


anecdote- overheard August 10, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:07 pm

Overheard at When Words Collide Writing Conference (Calgary):

“It’s strange just being at a writing conference.  I kinda miss the Klingons wandering about.”

I am at a Writing conference that emerged from what was previously a Sci-fi and Fantasy writing conference.  I have never before been around so many fantasy writers.  They are quite an interesting crowd. How so?  Well,  I suspect most of them get the jokes on the Big Bang Theory.  The Sci-Fi writers not only ‘get them’ they understand the physics and can critique it.

The fantasy writers can discuss the strategies to building religions, and crafting entire civilizations.  They are experts at “building worlds.”   To say they have imagination, is understatement.

In most crowds, I am one of the nerdiest people there.  Around here, I am not even close.  It is quite astonishing.  I am thoroughly enjoying being with creative, intelligent, unique folks!   I feel right at home.  Here are writers, editors, and publishers who appreciate the skills and challenges, offer interesting perspectives, fun ideas.  The banter and exploration is fascinating.

There is a lot of talent in this building!  Talent that changes worlds with every stroke of their pens.

A token poem-

It doesn’t feel quite right

Not a Klingon in the room

But let the writers into light

They’ll draft some very soon.

Good night from Calgary, When Words Collide 2014!


memory- This One’s for Shawn August 9, 2013

Earlier this week, Diana Gabaldon dedicated her Daily Lines to me, and sent out to her 250,000 fans on Facebook and Twitter the message #ThisOnesForShawnLBird.  I was just remembering another time when my heart was warmed to bursting by a dedication from someone I looked up to.

Once upon a time, when I was 15 or so, a boy I adored worked once a week as a Disc Jockey on a late night radio show in Calgary.  Some nights, even though I lived 650 km away on the other side of the Rocky Mountains,  I could listen to him on the skip that happens when meteorological conditions were good.  One night I called him up to say I was listening, and he dedicated this song to me.  I have the dedication on tape, and when I hear it, it still chokes me up!  If you have fond memories of your first love, you may want to get out a handkerchief.

“This one goes all the way out to Kelowna, BC.  This one’s for Shawn…”



(I sing “Share this thought with me” as “You shared the start with me”  Hmm.  Either way!

How about you?  Do you have fond memories of a very public dedication you received from someone special?  Tell us about it!


living a dream with Diana Gabaldon July 12, 2013

Sam Heughan Headshot - P 2013

Sam Heughan is already charming Outlander fans and schmoozing with them via Twitter. Things are only going to get better from here for this youthful tri-athlete actor!

For the last week, I have had the privilege of being a fly on the wall as an author has a dream come true.  The Starz network signed Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series last spring, and has finally begun casting.  This week her lead character, Jamie Fraser, was cast, and the role went to Scots actor Sam Heughan.

With typical enthusiasm Diana shared her excitement  over his audition tape with her Facebook followers:

She observed how she started watching the audition tape, “and five seconds later, Sam Heughan’s GONE, and so am I.  It’s Jamie Fraser, right there in front of me, moving, talking.  One of the biggest thrills ever.”

Talk about understatement!

Of course, not everyone is able to visualize Diana’s quite explicit descriptions of what Jamie looked like at age 22 in the first Outlander book, and those people leapt up complaining about Sam’s physique, his hair, etc.  Diana firmly and unequivocally put them in their place.  (A hilarious blog about the whole storm  on if you want the details)

Meanwhile, Diana took to Twitter and started messaging Sam Heughan (like many in the Outlander world!) Sam is embracing the enthusiasm of his army of new fans and he and Diana are carrying on a public flirtation for the whole world to see.

I am so thrilled for her.  I suppose this is how Stephenie Meyer felt when Rob Pattison was cast to become Edward in the Twilight movies.  Bad makeup and a low budget probably couldn’t kill her buzz either.  I’m sure when Charlaine Harris first saw Anna Pasquin bring Sookie Stackhouse to life she was equally thrilled (Sookie be damned, how about the perfect choice of Joe Manganiello to be  Alcide Herveault?! Be still my heart!).  Both Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series took some serious deviations from the original plots.  No matter.  How amazing must have been those first halcyon days when the incarnate word was made flesh!

Starz has a budget and a social media savvy author who is sharing her excitement with a legion of fans.  The buzz is amazing.  On one hand, I feel very sorry for all the companies over the years that optioned the rights to make a movie or TV series out of this story and then had them lapse before funding could be put together.  Foolish money men.  You will see what you missed!  On the other hand, I think Tall Ship Productions and Ron Moore are going to do Diana’s work proud.  They know very well that rabid fans are going to be unforgiving if they screw up Diana’s story!

The absolutely best part of this, what has me grinning constantly and bouncing around my house, has been the fun of watching Diana in the absolutely giddy excitement of seeing her character come to life.  I can hardly wait until she gets to go on set and meet all the cast!

Some day, perhaps, I’ll get to see my Grace, Ben, Marco, and Alex become flesh.  In the meantime, I’m living vicariously through Diana, and I’m enjoying every minute!

Diana on Sams audition


overflowing July 10, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:50 am
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Words overflowingliving room writing zone stacks



Words for research

for inspiration

for entertainment.

3 keyboards

for composing,

at desk,

on the couch,

in the bath


Words overflowing

like water.


I need

more book shelves.





You know, I think there are probably over 100 books in the area shown in this shot?  Wild.  This is my writing zone.  Theoretically, I sit at the desk, but usually I am lying on the couch.  Theoretically, I use the ergonomic keyboard, but usually I just use the mini-keyboard on the notebook computer, which is probably not good for hand health.  One of my favourite places to write is (seriously) the bath tub.  Why I can focus so well there, I have no idea.  Computer well away from water, waterproof keyboard on my knees, I don’t have to see what I type, and I get huge chunks of story.  

Where do you write?

The writing zone…

What do you appreciate in your teachers? May 8, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:05 pm
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I asked the few 16 to 18 year old students here today in my Communications 11 and 12 (non-academic English) class what they appreciate about their teachers.   We had a little fun rephrasing things into positive statements. 🙂

  • Patrick appreciates when teachers trust him
  • Katelynn appreciate when teachers put themselves in students’ shoes
  • Jessie appreciates the time teachers take to help him understand
  • Nich appreciates when teachers are nice
  • Joel appreciates when teachers give him food
  • Celeste appreciates when teachers don’t give her homework
  • Ryan appreciates when teachers are nice, and when they’re helpful to students


Many students were away today on field trips or work experience, so it was a small class!


Personally, I appreciated when my teachers were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subject, beyond the curriculum.

What do/did you appreciate most in your teachers?


Fluevog addict? May 2, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes,fun,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:55 am
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someone arrived at my blog

yesterday, having used

the search term

“Fluevog addict.”


 That seems a little harsh.



Couldn’t we just say


or “connoisseur?”


Come on now.

That’s definitely over-stating.




Did I tell you?

To celebrate my Master’s placement

I have Prepared Hi Steadies coming ?

Steady (Yellow)

Aren’t they gorgeous?

Way cheaper than a party to celebrate,

and I get to enjoy them for ages!


Rather than a single evening.

That’s not addiction.

That’s just…



Oh, and

John Fluevog thinks I’m awesome!

So there.


(Well fine, he probably thinks you’re awesome, too)





Fluevog liked this poem so much, that they sent me a mug!  Yay!  🙂  They know how to feed their addic…  >>cough<< …fans.  Many thanks to Preet at the Vancouver Granville Fluevog store, who takes good care of me, AND sends me presents!  (If you look closely, you can see that the mug says “Juan Fluevog”  I think that’s hilarious.  Vog humour.  HA!)



Liebster award April 27, 2013

Filed under: anecdotes — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:37 pm
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I have never actually accepted a blog award nomination, but I’ve decided to give it a whirl.  Thanks to for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.  Thanks Beckarooney!

.Liebster Blog Award

As with all blog awards there are several rules – they are:

1. Accept the award, post the picture of the Liebster Award on the top of your post and say who nominated you for the award and list their blog site.

2. List 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for the Liebster Award and list their blog sites.

4. Notify the bloggers of their award.

5.Ask the award winners 11 questions to answer when they accept their Liebster Award.

6. Answer the questions left for you by the blogger who gave you the award.


So here are 11 random facts about me. . .

  • I have owned poodles exclusively since I was six years old.  
  • Presently I live with OJ the standard poodle and Dusty the miniature poodle.
  • my first writing award was for a poem I wrote about my mother in grade four.
  • my first rejection letter came from a kids magazine called Jabberwocky when I was in grade five.
  • I bought my husband’s wedding ring with the prize money from a college short story contest
  • I have a very tender spot for musicians, particularly pianists and classical guitarists
  • I speak 3 languages quite well, and a few others very badly
  • I have lived in 15 places since I met my husband, but we have been 12 years in our current house.
  • I have never had a job contract that was for longer than a year.
  • I originally wanted twelve children.  My husband persuaded me that two was a better choice.  (He was probably right).
  • Left to my own devices, I go to bed at 4 a.m. and get up at noon.  I write, play music, and clean house in the peace of moonlight.


Here are the questions I was asked:

1. Why did you start your blog?

When Grace Awakening was in the process of being signed with Vancouver’s Gumboot Books, Crystal the publisher said I should have a blog as a way to begin my author platform.  I’d been pondering having one for a few years, but that was the impetus to buy my domain and get started.

2. What’s your favourite time of year and why?

I live in a 4 season playground, and I really love all 4 seasons.  I love spring for the new beginnings and the excitement as the grads move on.  I love summer for the time that I have to play with my assorted projects.  I love autumn for the excitement of a new school year and the potential for awesome connections with students.  I love winter for the beauty of fresh fallen snow and the crisp air.   I can more easily answer my favourite time of DAY, which is night.  🙂 (see above)

3. Do you have any unusual ways of curing writer’s block and if so what are they?

My only cure is to sit down and WRITE.  There is procrastination, but whenever I start, there are plenty of words.  I don’t ever have writing block.

4. If you follow my blog why did you start following it?

 I’ve only been following Beckarooney’s blog for a week or so, but I was drawn by the insightful and lovely poetry I found there, and the interesting information about The Eden Project, which I’d never heard of.

5. Who is the most important person in your life?

My husband, who holds me together.  Since I was twenty he’s been the stolid stability that allows my flight.  He is quite generally awesome (and handsome, too!).

6. Where do you live and what do you live in?

I live in a house above Shuswap Lake in central British Columbia, Canada.  (See photos below)  I have beautiful mountain views, and I’m trying to figure out how to rig up a writing suite on my roof so I can see the lake all year round not just in the winter when the neighbour’s lilacs are leaf-less.  (I need to sell a lot of books to make this a viable option, feel free to contribute by clicking the book cover at right! lol).

7. Are you a Facebook fanatic?

Sadly, yes.  I have 3 accounts ((cough))

8. Can you dance?

Yes.  I have studied ballet, jazz, tap, folk, and belly dance.  Sadly, at the moment I’m on a dancing hiatus due to knee injuries.  My husband hates dancing though, so if we’re at an event, as soon as the dancing starts, we leave.  :-S

9. What are 3 things you couldn’t live without?

Air, water, shelter.  🙂

Beyond those basics: the computer (or at least pen & paper), good dark chocolate, and a good book to read in the bathtub.

10. Who is the one person you would love to meet, from the past, present or even the future, and why?

Since I’ve already met Diana Gabaldon, I’ll go with Francesco Petrarca, the poet, diplomat, and cleric from the 14th century.  I am writing a book about him, and I have developed a rather profound crush on him. (blush) I’d also really like to meet my grandmother whom I apparently resemble physically and temperamentally.  She died when I was a baby.

11. What do you do on a typical Friday night?

Snuggle poodles, read a book, write a book, play the harp, enjoy a great meal with hubby, often in the basement in front of a movie.


My eleven nominees are blogs I’ve enjoyed this week:


The eleven questions for my nominees to answer:

1. What teacher from your youth or childhood had a profound impact on you?  How?

2. Who is your greatest literary inspiration?

3. What is a favourite quote from another person, and what do you like about it?

4. What is a favourite quote from your own work, and what is the story behind it?

5. Tell us about one of your pets.

6. What is the greatest barrier in your life?

7. Where is your favourite travel destination?  Why?

8. What is the most interesting place near where you live? What makes it interesting?

9. What is your writing space like?

10. When you were eight, what did you want to be when you grew up?

11.  What is your goal for your writing?


Views from my living room window on this grey day:

(just to the left of that yellow sign you can just see Shuswap Lake through those budding lilacs)  Plainly our next door neighbour needs to borrow our dandelion puller tool.  This is northwest.


and this is southwest.  That’s Mount Ida (which is mentioned in Grace Awakening)   in the middle left with the snow still on it.  There was a fire on the mountain in the 90s, you can still see the charred remains.  Across the valley are the Fly Hills which burnt at the same time.  Love all the new green of spring!



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