Monday, June 15, 2015

LIFE OF A POET - NICHOLAS V.

Today, my friends, jet-setters that we are, we are zooming Down Under, to meet with Nicholas V., of Intelliblog, who has recently joined Poets United. Nicholas lives in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. It is warm there, so get yourself a lemonade or iced tea, and let's dive right in!



Just me, at my desk, ruminating on life, 
death and everything!



Sherry: Nicholas, I am so happy to be interviewing you. Would you set the scene for us, and give us a glimpse of your life today, so we can picture you in your home setting?  I know you have an interesting life story. Tell us about it.

Nicholas: Thank you for inviting me to the ‘virtual interview room’, Sherry, and hello to all fellow poets of Poets United. Although I am a recent arrival to Poets United I am already enjoying my time here, and am happy to meet again some people that I first encountered over in Poetry Jam.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, about 5 km from the centre of the City, in what is considered an ‘inner suburb’ here. Melbourne is in the southeastern part of Australia, has a Mediterranean climate, is built around a large, beautiful bay and possesses a permanent river, the Yarra, which runs through it. It is a huge, multicultural, metropolis with a population of around four million people. 

It is considered the artistic and cultural capital of Australia (although the geopolitical capital is Canberra, and Sydney on the East coast is slightly larger and more glitzy). I have a daily photography blog where I showcase Melbourne and if you are interested you may have a look at some of my photos of my home city: 

http://melbournedaily.blogspot.com.au/



The City (Downtown) and the Yarra River


I am grateful to say that I am middle-aged, healthy, and in a happy and stable relationship. I feel extremely privileged to be living in a country at peace, where I enjoy on a daily basis many of the things that most people around the world do not have. We tend to take many of our common, everyday possessions, habits and relationships for granted and I feel that many of us in the enviable position of having a home, people whom we love and love us, a meal on the table every day, and a peaceful existence, do not show enough of our gratitude.

I am a higher education consultant and hence I am my own boss, however, before this for many years I was a University Academic in the field of Pathology (the study of disease). I am at the stage of my life where I have reduced my workload, thus allowing myself more time to indulge in my numerous hobbies and other amateur activities. I love reading (both fiction and non-fiction); writing (fiction, non-fiction and poetry); photography; painting and drawing; music (listening, playing the piano, composing); travelling and hiking.

I am a ‘dog person’ and have had two Chihuahuas in the past (Pancho and Pepito), but at the moment my only pets are goldfish in a pond in our fernery.




Our back garden - a haven in the middle
of a large and busy metropolis


Sherry: Such  a wonderful life, Nicholas. And your garden is spectacular! What a sanctuary! Now let’s go all the way back. Where did you grow up? Is there a story from your childhood that connects with the writer you are today? Were you a bookish lad?

Nicholas: I was born in Greece and we lived in Athens. In the late 1960s some of the readers may know that Greece came under the ‘Regime of the Colonels’, which essentially was a military dictatorship, a junta ruled by extreme right-wing, high-ranking soldiers. My family had artistic connections and a rather liberal mindset, so my grandfather considered it prudent that we leave the country ‘temporarily’ until it was safe for us to return. Australia was chosen as my mother had a distant cousin here. I have no siblings and my mother, father and I ended up staying in Australia to settle permanently. Although we have visited Greece on numerous occasions since then, we never entertained the idea of going back to live there again. Greece has changed, we have changed, and we now have another, different life here.

As a child I loved reading, encouraged by both mother and father and I read voraciously. We had many musicians, actors, writers and poets as family friends, and in the weekly soirées we hosted, it was not unusual to have a poet read us his latest poem or a composer to play us his latest song. I was allowed to be present in these soirées provided I was civil, and I think it is those early experiences that made me love the arts and sowed the ‘writing seed’ in me.

I am grateful to my mother for insisting that I learn to speak at least one foreign language at an early age, and for ensuring that my knowledge of Modern Greek remained at the level of a native speaker. I am now fluent in English, Greek and Italian and can get by in conversational French. Being multilingual is an amazing thing, opening up one’s mind, widening perceptions, allowing flexibility of thought and enhancing lateral thinking.



City View


Sherry: It sounds like a wonderful childhood. Early exposure to the arts is such a plus. When did you begin to write? Did you begin with prose or poetry?  

Nicholas: I remember when I was in primary school, I used to write fairy tales in an exercise book, illustrating them with drawings in coloured pencils. My parents both sketched/painted so in our house there was always a supply of art materials on hand as well as huge numbers of books in every room. To write and paint came naturally to me and I just assumed that it was so in every house, being surprised when friends at school told me differently.

Later, while in high school I started to keep a diary (something which I did for quite a few years). In these volumes of diaries there are many poems, prose pieces and also quite a lot of reflection and self-analysis. Unlike my primary school exercise books, which are now lost, I have kept my diaries. It’s interesting to read these now and realise how I have changed, developed and matured. I have also been keeping ‘visual diaries’ filled with drawings and sketches.

Sherry: I envy you that documented history of your journey - a treasure trove. What do you love about poetry?

Nicholas: Poetry is a form of writing that can liberate the writer from the everyday and the ordinary, while s/he is able to comment on what s/he sees, experiences, feels and thinks about daily, thus linking back to the ordinary in an extraordinary manner. It is an extremely pliable and suggestive means of self-expression where the writer may be extremely self-indulgent and subjective, but at the same time manage to evince a wealth of feeling from the reader of her/his poems. A successful poem becomes equally self-indulgent and subjective for each reader, each reading experience being able to be unique depending on the reader’s character and her/his own experiences.

Sherry: So well said. Do you favour a certain form, or do you prefer free verse? 

Nicholas: I have no preferred form but generally find that the subject matter, my mood, or my mental state may dictate a certain form. At other times I utilise a particular form as an intellectual exercise – especially so with the formal structures, e.g. a sonnet.

Sherry: Your blog is an amazing mix of posts on many interesting topics. Would you tell us about the various categories, and what we might find if we go looking? It looks FASCINATING in there, a wealth of offerings.

Nicholas: I first started blogging on the Yahoo360 platform (now defunct) on 23 March 2006. I have blogged daily since then and transferred to the Google Blogger platform on 23 October 2007. Before that I had used blogging in my teaching. My personal blogging grew out of my professional blogging activities.

What started out in my blog as a short daily rumination on a number of my interests, soon developed into a more or less formalised offering of posts on a number of rotating topics, viz:

  • MONDAY: Movie Monday – reviews of films old and new;
  • TUESDAY: Literary Tuesday – reviews of books, thoughts about authors, libraries or occasionally an original prose piece of mine;
  • WEDNESDAY: Poetry Wednesday – my original poems, and occasionally poems by other poets that I like;
  • THURSDAY: Thesaurus Thursday – A bit of a rag-tag day, with posts about words, word origins, folklore, traditions, etc;
  • FRIDAY: Food Friday – All about food and drink, recipes, nutrition;
  • SATURDAY: Music Saturday – Songs, music and classics that I love;
  • SUNDAY: Art Sunday – Featuring an artist that I like and her/his oeuvre, with a particular work highlighted.
But of course, there are exceptions to these rules, depending on my personal circumstances at the time, or work and family commitments, travel constraints, or current affairs on which I may comment.



A typical Melbourne lane
in the middle of the city

Since 24 April 2011, I started photoblogging, which allows me to share some of my photographic work, and I now run four daily photo blogs and a weekly one:


Sherry: I know how busy a couple of websites keeps me, so I am seriously impressed! How has blogging impacted your life and your writing?

Nicholas: Blogging allows me to share some of my activities and the fruits of my labours of love with other like-minded people. Although my blogging is a self-indulgent activity, it has been instrumental in my getting to know a large number of interesting, talented and very kind people, whom I would not have had a chance to know otherwise. Blogging has also allowed me to become exposed to the artistic, literary and musical activities of other creative people.  

Sherry: It is a wonderful outlet, for inspiration and sharing. Are there two of your poems we might include here? and would you tell us a bit about each of them?

Nicholas: Here is a poem that speaks of love – so many of our poems do, don't they? When we love we feel that words fail us, and prose especially is so inadequate. A poem can be successful to contain that magnitude of feeling and express what may seem inexpressible…


“Do you love me,” she said, “do you love me?”
And I – I stood silent and looked on, transfixed.
“Do you care for me,” she asked, “do you?”
And I – I turned away and looked at her no more.

“Why are you silent?” she spoke again,
And I – I searched inside me, for words
Were hard to find and language failed me.
“Speak, answer, tell me!” she commanded.

My eyes looked upon her and all I could think of
Were bright red thoughts and chords of A major joy.
Sweet tasting sherbet melodies and cooling draughts
Of pure spring water on a summer’s day.

“Do you love me,” she said, “do you love me?”
And I – I stood silent and looked on, transfixed.
“Do you care for me,” she asked, “do you?”
And I – I turned towards her and looked deep in her eyes.

And there were velvet leaves, in my gaze,
Of mellow September afternoons;
And my fingers were extended in silken threads
To bind our hands together like steel gossamer.

And my tongue moved powerless in the prison of my mouth
Forcing volumes of words unspoken down a dry throat.
My lips painted a sunset of a smile, and my eyes
Spoke only three eloquent words, silently,
So softly that only she could hear them with her heart
That resonated perfectly with their insistent rhythm.
“Hush, love!” she said, “not so loudly!
For we must not tempt fate with our bliss;
The gods have punished mortals for lesser offences,
Than this sweetest hubris…”

Sherry: So beautiful! I especially love the velvet leaves in your gaze, and how she heard the unspoken words in your eyes.



Fairfield Boathouse overlooking Yarra River -
a lovely historic cafe about 20 minutes from our home
where we often enjoy lunch or a coffee

Nicholas: This second poem is also about love, but also about diversity and differences in culture. It shows how we all share a common humanity and that where there is love, all obstacles can be overcome.


“There is a rabbit in the moon, not a man…”
She said, looking up high,
“…Or so the Chinese say.”
I looked up and saw a rabbit,
Quite clearly, just as she said,
And I believed her truly,
For she is Chinese.

“My grandmother said the moon
Shows the murderous handprint of Cain…”
And I pointed it out;
“…And she was Greek and full of myth,
Whether biblical or pagan.”
She looked up and her laugh rang out
Like silver bells tinkling.

“You Greeks are full of stories,
And you make gods of men,
And women of trees,
You sometimes mark the moon with Selene’s face,
And at another, with Cain’s marks.
That is what I like about you
Your chameleon ways…”

“But my mother, who is English,
Insists that there is a witch on the moon,
Carrying sticks…” I said.
We looked up and tilted our heads
And looked into each other’s eyes,
In the moonlight,
And we kissed, bewitched.

Sherry: I love this, especially the rabbit in the moon. What other things do you enjoy when you are not at the computer?

Nicholas: I exercise daily, I spend time gardening, I paint and sketch, take photos, enjoy walks, hikes, and I also love travelling. I spend time with my family and friends. I have a large circle of acquaintances and a very small number of good friends. I tend to be a very private person and consider my family very important. I shield and protect the people I love and subscribe heartily to the ancient Greek maxim “Τα εν οίκω μη εν δήμω…” (Ta en oiko me en demo – Do not publicise your private affairs).

Sherry: It sounds like a wonderfully rich life, Nicholas. Favourite place to visit in Australia? Tell us about it.

Nicholas: I’ll just remind people that Australia is a continent-nation with a total area of 7,692,024 km² ( about 3,000,000 square miles). Most of it very arid and the major cities are all located in coastal locations.

I must confess to being very prejudiced when answering this question as I shall be very complimentary towards my own home city, Melbourne. Of course one should visit Melbourne when visiting Australia as it is one of the most beautiful, by far the most cultured and artistic of all its cities. Melbourne combines a lot of history with much contemporary verve and vigour. There are numerous things to do and see here, including Australia’s best gallery (the National Gallery of Victoria – see:
Sydney of course is known very well abroad and it is a large, spectacular city, especially around the harbour and should not be missed by the tourist. I often tell people in the USA that Sydney is our Los Angeles and Melbourne is our San Francisco. I always like visiting Sydney but would not want to live there. There are numerous things to see in Sydney and for a taste, see here: 

Brisbane is a large, modern city on the northeastern subtropical seaboard. I have lived in Brisbane for a while and I enjoyed it then very much. It is susceptible to a lot of weather with cyclones often wreaking havoc during the southern Summer (around Christmas). Once again much to see and do here, as well as being the gateway to the tropical north (see: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=brisbane).

Hobart is the capital of the island state of Tasmania and is full of charm, history and wonderful scenery. In fact one should spend quite a great deal of time driving around Tasmania as it is full natural, scenic beauty (see: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=tasmania)

I have a very soft spot for Adelaide, capital of South Australia. It is a smaller city with a relaxed lifestyle and very warm and friendly people. It is the gateway to the Barossa Valley vineyards and the delightful Adelaide Hills (see: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=Adelaide).

Perth is the most remote city in Australia and is located in southern Western Australia. It is a vibrant, modern city and has much to offer the tourist (see: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=perth).

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and is Australia’s northernmost city in the tropics. It boasts a vibrant, multicultural community and is the gateway to the magnificent Kakadu National Park (see: 
http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=darwin).

One should not forget the Red Centre of Australia with Alice Springs its largest town and the gateway to the Uluru and the stark beauty fo the Outback (see: http://nixpixmix.blogspot.com.au/search?q=alice+springs)

Sherry: One could spend a happy hour, browsing through these wonderful offerings. Thank you for the virtual tour! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Nicholas: I think that an online community of like-minded people around the world is an amazing thing. We can be thankful that technology nowadays allows us to meet people online and be able to exchange ideas, share each other’s creativity and broaden our life’s experience in an immediate and rewarding way. Keep on writing, everyone!

Sherry: I, too, love meeting people from all over the world, and this visit has been most enjoyable. Thank you, Nicholas, for sharing the links of all the places we can explore and discover Australia. A wonderful boon for we armchair travelers. We look forward to enjoying much more of your work in the months ahead.

Wasn't this a fun jaunt, kids? Do check out Nicholas's blog: a plethora of goodies awaits! And be sure to come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

40 comments:

  1. Ah, Nicholas, you are one very busy blogger! I always looked forward to your poetry shared at Poetry Jam, and I am glad now to see you at Poets United. I enjoyed learning more about you as well, and it seems like you have no shortage of hobbies and interests. I will definitely check out some of your other blogs.

    Pssst -- poets, do check out Nick's 'food Friday' on his blog. His recipes are another kind of poetry!

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    1. Thank you, Mary. Your poems strike a very sympathetic chord in me too. I know that you too are a busy writer, and my compliments for the great work you do in Poets United.

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  2. Hello Nicholas! I'm thinking you either write/work incredibly fast or have some other secret. The amount of blogging you do overwhelms me, and so many interests, too! I looked at lots of your photos particularly admiring your use and capture of light. I love the animal album, the skies and--in another spot--many of your desk tops. I very much enjoy these dialogue love poems--I find them Lively and Unique and Deep at the same time. I like how the end of each suspends me in air. It's wonderful getting to know you at Poets United and here. (Thanks, Sherry!)

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    1. You are very kind, Susan. Yes, I do write quickly, but I also sleep little (about 5 hours a night) - that certainly makes one's day longer and increases the activities one may engage in. Photography is a very rewarding hobby and nowadays the technology certainly makes it much easier to indulge it.

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    2. I have been investigating your blog and very much enjoying your wonderful photos, Nicholas.

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    3. Thank you, Sherry. I like to share what my camera captures as I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place and to be fortunate to be able to travel where I do.

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  3. Nicholas and Sherry,

    A most fascinating interview Sherry, with a most interesting member of Poets United. I came across Nicholas, via Poetry Jam and was impressed by his poems and his interaction towards all other participants. His Blog is a myriad of information, akin to an encyclopedia in many ways; so interesting and hugely informative with a wide range of subject matter.
    I like the free style of the poetry Nicholas writes and, his commentary on many social situations, as well as his observations on human behaviours.
    I am likely to be visiting Australia for the first time, later this year. I shall consult your information links Nicholas, before travelling!
    Thank you for this most interesting interview Sherry. Your magic carpet takes you far and wide across the globe:)
    Eileen

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    1. Thank you Eileen. I find in your poems many of my thoughts about some issues and it is interesting to read how you treat them in your own unique style. I think that is the great thing about Midweek Motif: All of us are motivated by the same idea, but each respond differently and in our own style. Fascinating to read!
      I am sure you will enjoy your visit to Australia and if you need to ask me anything, please don't hesitate!

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    2. I do enjoy my trips by magic carpet, Eileen. I live vicariously if, indeed, I live at all, so it is likely the only traveling I will get to do. I am grateful for each journey.

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  4. Many thanks, Sherry for the time you devote to the virtual interviews with members of Poet United. It is great getting to know others in this community by this means.
    I also would like to thank other members of the community for their welcome and kinf comments.

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    1. It was truly my pleasure, Nicholas, and you made it so easy and interesting for me. It is always a pleasure when a new member joins our community and is as reciprocal and interactive as you are. You have settled right in, and it was lovely getting to know you a little better.

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  5. What a pleasure it has been to meet you, Nicholas. I have read a bit of your poetry (particularly at Poetry Jam) and enjoyed it tremendously. What an interesting life you have had. How wonderful to have grown up in - and continue to enjoy - such a multicultural, multilingual milieu that is so eclectic and artistic and filled with life-enhancing activities and experiences. The introduction to Melbourne was a treat (and your garden: sublime). A wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing, Nicholas. And, once again, a fantastic job, Sherry.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy. I enjoy reading your poems also and it was great to read your interview last week. I am glad you liked the photos of the garden, I do spend quite a bit of time there!

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  6. Lovely poetry Nicholas! Am amazed at the way you juggle so many wonderful blogs. Might be just the inspiration I need to work harder and blog some more :) Very glad to meet you through this forum. And Sherry, great post as always.

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    1. Many thanks for your kind comments Thorpurge. Look forward to reading your work on PU.

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  7. I admire your prudence that you reduced your work load and indulged in your favorite activities at the right time Nicholas thereby keeping yourself busy in creative ways...a great decision taken...I always enjoy reading your wonderful poems and was delighted to see you @ PU when PJ closed...and thanks Sherry for such an interesting interview....

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    1. Thank you, Sumana. I enjoy your poems also and as you say, we must make the most of life and enjoy each moment as much as we can.

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  8. A balance is needed in life so that it flows smoothly and you have got that balance!!
    best wishes.

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  9. Thank you, Vandana. Balance is the key word indeed!

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  10. A wonderful interview - such an interesting man and life. The poems presented are... everything sounds so trite.... but I truly loved them. I will be coming back here to click on his blogs for sure!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, George. That is the beauty of poetry, it can take the trite and make it special - I am glad you liked my poems.

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  11. Oh, that was very nice! Though I grew up in Tasmania, I sent most of my adult life (36 years of it) in Melbourne. I don't want to live there again, but I enjoyed it when I did, and enjoyed seeing your photos. I think Melbourne still has the highest Greek population of any city outside Greece? I do still go back from time to time to visit family. Maybe I'll see you at one of the spoken poetry venues around town next time I'm there! :-)

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    1. That's interesting, Rosemary - glad to know you have lived in Australia. Yes, Melbourne is affectionately called the "third largest Greek-speaking city" in the world after Athens and Salonika! It would be great to meet up when next you visit your old haunts.

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  12. Thank you Sherry for sharing this wonderful interview with us all :D Its a pleasure to meet you Nicholas.

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  13. Oh, Nicholas! That should boost tourism to Australia! Thank you for having a soft spot for my home city Adelaide. In fact there is just so much to see and do in Australia and our country has a unique charm. No wonder so many people want to live here. I hope to read more of your writing here in the future.

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  14. Ah! Another Australian, great! Adelaide is very beautiful and I always love visiting there.

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  15. Well now, this is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Nicholas!

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    1. Thanks, Helen. Good to hear from you.

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  16. Nicholas your poems are absolutely gorgeous and so wonderfully Greek....they evoke kalamatiano ouzo retsina and lemon trees( in my mind at least:)

    As for Melbourne outshining Sydney....tsk.....now now Nic , you know that is just a tired old myth perpetrated by disgruntled Victorians who don't have a harbour... Sydney is the brightest jewel in Australia's crown:)

    I always enjoy your music selection on Saturday and your marvellous photography as well. You are multi talented.
    Good to see you here writing for mid week motif.
    PS
    Love the 'Alas poor Yorick' photograph (chuckles)!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rall. As far as Melb vs Syd is concerned, we beg to differ, although I did preface my comments by admitting my prejudice... ;-)
      Yes, poor Yorick was a good egg!

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  17. Very good to learn more about you Nicholas - you are a busy blogger! I would love to read those fairy tales in your primary school exercise books...I bet there are some gems in there

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    1. Thank you, Jae Rose. I wish I had kept those exercise books with the fairy tales... However, when one moves house across continents, there are many things that get lost...

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  18. I loved reading the interview! And seeing the photos and reading the poetry! Thank you both so much!

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  19. I enjoyed this interview a lot, Nick. I already knew you from Poetry Jam but knew very little about the person although I had a feeling your interests were numerous and varied because of the richness of your blog . I have tried a few of your recipes (the bread in particular) and they were excellent. I had no idea you had so many blogs!
    Thank you, Sherry, for your great job!

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    1. You are very kind, Gabriella. I always enjoy reading your wonderful poems too.

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  20. What a pleasure to visit Nicholas and Melbourne....and a fellow gardener so nice to meet you Nicholas! Yes Sherry I was drooling at those garden shots.

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  21. Always good ot meet kindred gardening souls, Donna! thanks for your comment.

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  22. Great read this and learn more of your background and of your life, Nicholas. I always enjoy your poems though I don't always have the time to comment on them.

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