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"The Beastie Book" cover

"The Beastie Book" by Penny Harter, cover

Not only did I purchase Penny Harter’s newest children’s book The Beastie Book, An Alphabestiary to give as a gift, but I also bought one for myself!  That’s how special I found this delightful flight into the fanciful world of Penny Harter’s enchanting beastie creations!

The Beastie Book is a 56-page, hardcover, full-color book published by Shenanigan Books and measures approximately 11-1/4″ high by 8-3/4 ” wide.

Penny Harter

Penny Harter

How fortunate I felt to have the chance to view a proof of Penny’s book in October, 2009, when she and I both attended the Seabeck Haiku Getaway, sponsored by the great poets of Haiku Northwest.

I was immediately engaged by Penny’s poetic portrayal of each imaginary beastie, and I know readers young, old, and in-between will be as thoroughly delighted by her beasties as I was.

There’s one beastie for each letter of the alphabet. You and your young ones will become acquainted with such creatures as Floatkin and his soap bubble rides,  Iffenproof who lives on the moon, and picnic-loving Rumpulus with his insatiable appetite.

Naia with the printer's proof of "The Beastie Book" by Penny Harter

Perusing a proof of "The Beastie Book" by Penny Harter

Penny’s beasties come to life through the illustrative talent of Alexandra Miller, who completely and superbly captures the essence of each character.

If you’re thinking, “Gosh, this would be such a unique and special book for my little (son or daughter, niece of nephew, grandchild, neighbor child)” then please don’t hesitate in introducing that special child you have in mind to the captivating antics of Penny Harter’s beasties.

The Beastie Book is available through Shenanigan Books, as well as and several other online book sellers.


Day 2: August 5, 2009

Another sight-seeing day, and Debbie and I were eager. Our first stop was for breakfast at “The Scone Witch” right "The Scone Witch" Windowacross the street from our hotel. Their scones are the best I’ve ever had in my entire life. Breakfast consisted of bacon and gruyere on both sides of a halved scone – I was "The SconeWitch" Interiorhooked. I did return one other morning to have this same breakfast "The Scone Witch" Breakfastonce again, feeling certain I’d never again find a scone this delicious. Ok, three photos on “The Scone Witch” . . . that’s how good it was!


 First on our list was a boat ride on the Rideau Canal, and we wanted to make sure we had time afterwards to see “The Museum of Civilization” just across the Pont Alexandra Bridge (image from wikimedia) from Ottawa into Gatineau Quebec (formerly Hull, Quebec). All this within walking distance of our hotel . . . amazing! There were lots of pictures along the way, so I’ll just post some in succession.

Taken at the Canadian War Memorial, where we happened upon the Changing of the Guard (hold your cursor over each photo for a brief pop-up description):

The Canadian War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown SoldierChanging of the Guard Procession at the War MemorialChanging of the GuardTomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Canadian War Memorial

 This was an amazingly fortunate happenstance, and we really enjoyed the ceremony.


 Then we proceeded to the canal tour site, bought our tickets just in time for the next departing boat, and embarked on a 1-1/4 hour boat tour of the Rideau Canal, interior route to Dow’s Lake and back.

Rideau Canal Boat Tour Pulling AwayNaia Rideau Canal Boat TourT aken By Deborah P Kolodji



 Rideau Canal Boat Tour Draw Bridge


Debbie Rideau Canal Boat Tour 

This was an amazing adventure. If you hold your cursor over each photograph a brief pop-up description will tell you a bit more about it.




 Left to Right: The boat turned around at Dow’s Lake; Colorful flowers; Boat dock arrival, the Peace Tower on Parliament HillRideau Canal At Lake End

Rideau Canal Gorgeous Flowers And Homes




The western edge of the University of Ottawa campus borders the Rideau Canal so we were able to see many of the university buildings. We also saw many distinctive homes and modern high-end apartment buildings, several scenic churches including the “Holy Ghost Chapel” with its traditional latin masses , a stadium, the inviting canal-side restaurant Canal Ritz, the National Arts Center, and several embassies including the Embassy of Armenia.


Rose, Jewelry Maker

After returning from the canal cruise we walked toward the Ottawa River, taking the same underpass as yesterday when we bought the street artist’s prints. This time there were several vendors, most selling hand-made jewelry. I bought a macrame necklace with a beautiful turquoise stone in the center and Debbie bought an equally gorgeous necklace from this lovely lady named Rose.


Continuing our walk we once again passed by the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica With National Gallery Spiderthe National Gallery of Canada. In fact, I couldn’t resist taking a rather surreal photo that made it appear the bronze giant spider sculpture I mentioned in my entry about Aug 4, 2009 activities was invading the front of the cathedral. Bear with me, I mean no disrespect, it just seemed so surreal.

 Crew Cleaning Statues Outside National GalleryOutside the National Gallery of Canada a crew was cleaning and sprucing up one of the many statues that adorn Ottawa.





We began our trek across the Ottawa River on the Pont Alexandra Bridge, leaving Ottawa, Ontario and entering Gatineau, Quebec. I was struck by the bridge harmonics, created by traffic crossing it almost nonstop. During lull Pont Alexandra Bridge Crossing Ottawa Rivertraffic periods the harmonic sounds wafted away, to begin their slow Ottawa River Locks And The Fairmont Chateau Laurierreturn as cars approached again, building up to such beautiful tones.

This is an image of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, taken from the Pont Alexandra Bridge as I was crossing into Quebec. And this is the Parliament building also taken from the bridge.Parliament Building From Pont Alexandra Bridge After all the photos we’d taken from the Wellington Street side, this seemed like an entirely new and awesome building. What a breath-taking view!Parliament, Locks, OttawaRiver From Pont Alexandra Bridge

Right: the Ottawa River with the Parliament building to the right and the locks to the left.



the crosscurrents

as rivers, poets converge . . .



I took this photograph from the Gautineau, Quebec side of the Ottawa River as we were about to enter the Museum of Civilization. When I saw this Parliament Taken In Front Of Museum Of Civilization In Quebecfountain to the backdrop of the Parliament building I couldn’t help but take yet again another picture. There are so many great angles to photograph the wonderful architecture of Ottawa that it’s hard to stop. Debbie and I kept saying, “Ok, this is the last picture” but it seldom was.

Knowing we had limited time before the first of the HNA 2009 activities began we bought the ticket to walk through the “Early Civilization” section of the museum. I think both Debbie and I agree we’d like to see the entire museum next time we visit the Ottawa area!


Below is Debbie in front of an oil on canvas painting titled “The Indian In Transition.”

Debbie By "The Indian In Transition" Oil On Canvas

Naia Inside Museum Of Civilization By Totems







Left, Naia in front of some Totems (photo taken by Deborah P. Kolodji).




We scurried back to our hotel with just enough time to change The Library And Archives Canadaclothes and freshen up a bit, then walk a quick couple of blocks from our hotel to The Library and Archives Canada building, where HNA 2009 was held. We checked in, got our packets and nametags, David Lanoue And Naia (Photo By Deborah P Kolodji)and began mingling with fellow haiku poets. It wasn’t long before I spotted my long-time friend and first mentor, David Lanoue, from New Orleans. It had been a number of years since we’d spent time together so we had a lot of catching up to do.



Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures this first night. At 6:00 p.m. Michael Dylan Welch and Garry Garry Gay HNA - Opening WelcomeLtoR: David Lanoue, Naia, Patricia Donegan, Dennis Maloney (photo by Kolodji)Gay welcomed everyone in the auditorium. Michael and Grant Savage co-edited the HNA 2009 Anthology titled Into Our Words, from a haiku in the anthology written by Gary Hotham. Both Michael and Grant performed a reading of haiku in the anthology. In the photo to the right: David Lanoue, Naia, Patricia Donegan, Dennis Maloney (photo taken by Deborah P. Kolodji).

After the reading we all gathered for a wine and cheese reception sponsored by “Modern Haiku” and its editor, Charles Trumbull. It was delightful to have some time to mingle, meet folks, and chat. Angela Leuck and a group of Montreal poets entertained us, and everyone enjoyed this delightful evening.


DavidLanoueZoanneAndRichSchnellLater, several of us who hadn’t yet had dinner departed for a little pub where we could enjoy cold beer and some excellent food to carry us over till the next morning. Pictured left to right: David Lanoue, Zoanne Schnell, and Rich Schnell.





Deborah P Kolodji, Sketch By Naia

Later that evening I returned to the hotel room. Debbie and I arrived near the same time. Debbie was one of the presenters at HNA 2009 and some of our late night chats occurred as she was going over her presentation.

It was a fabulous sight-seeing day and an enriching opening evening of Haiku North America 2009.






End of Day 2 in Ottawa, August 5, 2009

I attended my first ever Haiku North America conference (HNA 2009) and consider myself blessed that this particular conference was the one I chose as my first.

Flight To Ottawa - sketch by Naia


I arrived at the Ottawa International Airport (YOW)  just before 11:00 pm on Monday, August 3rd . . . and reached the Crowne Plaza Hotel just before midnight via the YOW Airporter shuttle.




AUGUST 4, 2009

6131_1208586856235_1275606096_588447_3770834_nDeborah P. Kolodji (Debbie) and I roomed together at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which was so wonderfully situated in what we soon found to be an ideal “walking” city. Ottawa is the capitol city of Canada. We planned for two sight-seeing days before the conference began and put them to excellent use walking everywhere and seeing everything we’d hoped to and more.


 6131_1208586136217_1275606096_588430_2178381_nWe walked to By Marche (Byward Market). Established by Lt. Col. John By in 1926, it is one of the oldest and largest public markets in Canada. Part of the charm are the many fresh vegetable booths comprising the Farmer’s Market. The vegetables are colorful and perfect, and are available to purchase 7 days/week. Coming from Southern California I had to admit that these vegetables could put our own rich farmland produce to shame.

Cauliflower and BroccoliWhen I commented on how white the cauliflower heads were, a local vendor told me that they don’t allow the leaves around the cauliflower to open up. When they begin opening the farmer ties them closed for protection from the intense sunshine that ultimately discolors exposed cauliflower heads.



We visited St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church where one of the parishoner’s told us of the history surrounding this very old church, including ties to Holland and its royalty. We learned, in fact, that Ottawa has a tulip festival each year as a direct result of Holland’s influence. Holland’s current queen is Queen Beatrix. One of her younger sisters, Princess Margriet (3rd of 4 daughters), was born in the Civic Hospital and baptized in St. Andrew’s Church. (Archival film/story) Her mother was Queen Juliana (though she was still a princess at this time), and our parishoner guide showed us pictures of the royal family during the baptism. Princess Margriet is currently ninth in the line of succession to the Dutch throne.


Naia In Front Of Parliament Bldg (taken by Deborah P. Kolodji)Parliament Hill is a major part of the landscape in Ottawa. (Parliament Hill webcam) To the left is a photograph of  the “Centre Block” and to the right a photograph of the “Peace Tower” – the overcast conditions really enhanced the “eternal flame” situated directly in front of the Peace Tower. It’s an amazing sight. In July and August the Peace Tower’s fabulous carillon plays an hour of the most entrancing music, from 11am to noon each day. We were lucky enough to catch one of those concerts on our first day out. (Youtube Video by YourCTV, September 2008)




The National Gallery of Canada is located in Ottawa, featuring “Maman” – an enormous bronze spider sculpted by famed artist Louise Bourgeouis. (National Gallery webcam) We bought tickets to enter the part of the museum that houses artwork by “The Group of Seven” and Tom Thomson (Youtube “A Tribute to the Group of Seven” and close associates Tom Thomson and Emily Carr), often considered the 8th artist of the group, though he died before the group was formed. I wrote ekphrastic poems for each of three Tom Thomson paintings: “The Jack Pine” (oil on canvas), “Burnt Land” (oil on canvas), and “Northern Lights” (oil on wood).




Across the street from the National Gallery of Canada is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica (three guided tours). It’s an awesome presence to behold from outside the structure, and ten-fold more awesome once we entered this breathtaking structure. It’s ornate and the lighting inside shows off every feature in amazing depth. (Youtube video by YourCTV, September 2008)


 We stopped for lunch at a charming local Irish Pub “Patty Boland’s” and soon realized we were also on an amazing dining experience in Ottawa. Many of these local spots have seating areas out on the sidewalks/walkways.

As we left the restaurant a thunder and lightening storm moved in. The lightning was startlingly close, so at first we ducked into a quaint bead and clothing shop and browsed around. Then we made our way to a charming tea shop on York called, of course, the “teastore” where we ordered a pot of tea and scone each, and visited until the lightning flashes and rumbling thunder had passed.


 Eventually it was time to return to the hotel. Along Wellington Street there’s an underpass located at Rideau Street next to the Rideau Canal. It had still been raining enough to have my umbrella open and the underpass afforded some shelter. A street artist was already there, painting a scene of the city alongside prints of the many others he’d painted.

After our initial greetings the street artist seemed happy to take a break and chat, so he opened up a notebook filled with his prints and guided Debbie and me on a tour through Ottawa via his paintings. Before leaving I bought two of his prints: one of an autumn scene looking down the Rideau Canal toward Parliament Hill and the other of the same scene but in winter, depicting the canal frozen over and filled with ice skaters (a winter scene photo  from, showing a view similar to his painting). I understand Ottawans have a wonderful winter celebration each year called “Winterlude” (winterlude videos). There are ice sculpting contests, and if you search Google you’ll discover just how large and elaborate these sculptures are, each made from a single piece of ice. They also have snow sculpting contests, and vendor buildings line the iced-over canal.

Day 1, and I was already in love with Ottawa!




End of Day 1 In Ottawa, Aug 4, 2009