Sunday, December 30, 2007


PICT2155 crpshrp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Another swell use for digital cameras!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Across Round Lake

Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Here's a picture for talking about color! It does have abstract qualities, but mostly it is a recognizable lake landscape. And depends for its impact upon autumn color.

Below is some of what Rebecca Purdom says about abstraction. It makes the most sense to me about the meaning of abstraction of anything I have ever read. Mostly people want pictures to be recognizable and if you try to explain to them about an arrangement of squares that you find very moving, they giggle. So this pleased me very much.

"We’re so good at judging, it comes so naturally, that it’s easy to see why looking at abstraction, which offers absolutely no clues whatsoever as to what to do next, can be such a challenge. But that challenge is, in fact, abstract paintings greatest gift. The kind of seeing it promotes is something we can all do; we just don’t get the opportunity to do it very often.
I’ll bet that every one of you has had the experience sometime in your life of looking at something so marvelous that, for just an instant, you’d forgotten yourself enough to not act. Fot just that instant you were not in charge; the experience itself somehow was. The pursuit of that kind of experience is what I think turns painters into abstract painters, and the awareness of it turns all of us into better audiences for abstraction in particular and for art in general."

Rebecca Purdum in the newest New England Review:Vol 28, no 4, 2007. p175-6

An Infrared forest

Infrared forest
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I am loving this SO much that I feel like getting another camera with more megapixels! Photography that can see infrared light changes the relation of colors to each other in a spectacularly interesting way. Today the New England Review (Vol. 28, No. 4) came and in it Rebecca Purdom, who painted the abstract painting on the cover, has an essay about her work. This quote is from page 176.
"For about a year I couldn’t use yellow. It seemed as if the smallest amount would take over and smother whatever I was working on. I knew I couldn’t go on avoiding it so I decided to paint with nothing but yellow. There were about four or five of those paintings. I called out what turned out to be the last one Pins and Needles, because even though it was all yellow, it wasn’t anymore. It was paint.

I think the experience of color is like being at the seashore, spending all your time watching the waves crash on the rocks. The feelings colors produce in us are like those pounding waves, never at reat, always crashing around. At some point, however, you look up from all that turmoil and you sense the depth of the ocean itself, and see the endless horizon marking the infinite sky above. That vast uneasy calm is the unchanging yet unspecific emotion that paint produces. Feelings change, colors change, but the emotion, the paint, is constant."
A new year is coming; the holidays are over. It is time to think about art!

She's a photographer, too

PICT2142 crp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I'm teaching my grandchild. This camera is a little too big for her to hold, but harder to drop. The neckstrap has prevented damage so far. Autofocus a must. . .
I missed posting the last two days, on the first one, the satellite ISP failed and on the second electricity. Both were gone only a short time, but it was blog time. Rats!
We drove back on a highway we hadn't used before: through valley rice fields. We saw lots of white geese, egrest, hawks and blackbirds and quite a few ducks. It was lightly raining and the hawks were mostly hunched in roadside trees. Also a kingfisher on a wire. Yes!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas feast of love

This is my husband feeding our granddaughter a bite of a Christmas pie that he made. It's been a lovely day even without snow. Now both babies are sleeping and we are about to go to bed. We finished off the day with some of the cioppino that we made yesterday. Actually, I am not part of that "we" and had nothing to do with it. Merry, merry, merry . . .

Monday, December 24, 2007

Baby sunshine

Baby sunshine
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This little angel is about to have her third Christmas. This is a picture from a long time ago. Her little sister is almost this old now. All the stuff is under the tree, and I have to go to bed because they will get up early. Both sets of grandparents are assembled for this fine celebration. We had way too much food for our Christmas Eve dinner. But to me the highlight of the day was my granddaughter's little hands working with some left over pie crust dough and a rolling pin. I hope I got a good picture; haven't had a chance to check.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today a long drive over the Yolo Causeway, through Marysville and Oroville part the peach orchards and through the Feather River Canyon. It was a great day for hawks, especially in the valley. I saw redtail, red-shouldered, peregrine perched (I think) and harrier. The air was crisp and coldish, The drive through the Canyon, was especially beautiful. Feather River is low; many of the deciduous leaves have fallen, making the leaves and branches of manzanita and madrone stand out among the pines.
The toyon berries were a nice as I have seen them--on large bushes and in great abundance at the lower elevations. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am reading Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, for sure!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Time was when I used to make these postcard landscapes after work. Sometimes, on the weekend, I went outdoors to make them. I love the Pacific Ocean in the northern part of the state. When spring comes, I hopt to be outdoors again, painting. Trying to decide about a watercolor class that travels, too. But, while very reasonable, it is expensive. It is hard to feel deserving of these pleasures when the world is in such a sorry shape. The oldest daughter of friends is studying dental hygiene and about to go on a missionary trip to South America to bring dental care to a village. Sounds like a neat thing to do.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Douglas Iris

Douglas Iris crp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Still yearning for spring, I see . . . This is my only native plant to survive the vicissitudes of our garden. I had a lovely wild fuchsia, much beloved of hummingbirds for its small, tasty, red blossoms. But alas, it proved as delicate as it looked. And my Ceanothus Carmel Creeper thrived for years before being watered to death by an automatic sprinkler when we were out of town.
The Chinese pistache trees along the street have produced a splendid crop of red berries this year. Now that the leaves are gone, they show up beautifully. I have been watching for something great--like a flock of cedar waxwings, or the mixed feeding flocks I see every year in November and December; they are one of the delights of living in this climate. But so far, nothing. Often they come after rain, and there hasn't been much this year. We are al worried about the weather, and wonder about the Sierra snow pack and our water needs.

red pistache berries--
finch, woodpecker, yellow-rump
feeding together

I have also seen in these flocks: flickers, robins, sapsuckers, and warblers too swift to identify. I love to show birds to my grandchildren.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


At the Shore
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Lately in this blog, too much memory and not quite enough poetry.
So here is one for this season.

Human, Avian, Vegetable, Blood

Today, three days before Christmas
I had planned to cut some berries
From the toyon bush in the yard.
For three years it has not done well.
This is the first year it produced
A decent crop. But this morning
A flock of thirty migrating
Robins appeared. And before noon
Every berry had been eaten.
This year we will buy our foliage
As usual. And the symbols
Of incarnate flesh we tended
All year will be flying, mingled
With pale hot bird blood, high over
The barren Mexican mountains.

by Kenneth Rexroth

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apple Blossoms

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
And spring is still far away. Yesterday I went looking for white blossoms to go with a song. Those were plum; these are apple. In the same spring, I took them in the back yard with my first digital camera, which took the best closeups, better than the more expensive cameras I got later, but low in megapixels. This camera ate batteries, but I loved it anyway.

We are often away now when the fruit comes on. As for fruit preservation, we got a little discouraged and few years back. We had frozen a lot of plums and cut up apples, in just the right amount for the pies S likes to bake. The garage cat knocked the freezer plug out of the socket and the resultant thawed and rotten mess was useless, smelly and hard to dispose of.
But each spring, even an old apple tree, uncared for, the kind that grows by the roadside and produces only wormy nubbins for fruit, gives us these gorgeous blossoms tinged with pink.

White as Blossoms on the Bough

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Woke up last night with part of a song in my head. I ran it through my memory awhile until I had a complete verse. After a short time I had The Student Prince and Sigmund Romberg and finally the title, Serenade. Serenade from the Student Prince, it said across the top of the page. The words are on the Web, and I have used the similar end of the third verse in my reconstruction, but it is amazing how rhyme, music and meter enable you to remember something you learned so long ago.

Overhead the moon is beam-ing
White as blossoms on the bough.
Noth-ing is heard but the song of a bird
Filling all the air with dreaming
Would my heart but still its beating
Only you can tell it how. Be-love-ed.
From your window give me gree-ting
I swear my eternal vow

Then I thought about my singing lessons. And it was just as my brother Robert had said, you seize the end of a piece of memory string and pull and more and more string pulls out; you wind up with a pile of string. That memory thread is part of the title of this blog. The name of my music teacher was Mrs. Newkirk, after a while I seemed to remember that her first name must have been Louise. Somewhere we used to have a newspaper clipping about her and her European music education, pupil of a pupil of a pupil of Liszt?

Mrs. Newkirk was a tiny buxom woman, who wore a great strand of knotted pearls, and the under part of whose upper arms hung down and wobbled frantically as she played. These flaccid arms were fascinating and horrible to me then; now I have similar ones.
She charged $1 per lesson. Many of us took piano lessons from her, but I took singing lessons. I remember going in to Schenectady from the Farm for the lessons, but I also have a very vivid memory of my mother taking lessons along with us when she was hugely pregnant with Marjory in 1949, the year before we moved to The Farm, and playing in a children’s recital in a dark blue dress with tiny white polka dots. The soft drape of the material, I think it was rayon, followed the pregnancy lump with too great an accuracy for my Junior High mind.

Many of the songs I learned were in a book called Art Songs, with a cover of pale yellow paper. I liked them, the predictable chords, the emphasized and romantic words; it never bothered me that they weren’t “popular” at the time. Then I remembered other songs I sang. There was nothing modern about my repertoire, which she must have settled on just after the Great War. I learned: Who is Sylvia, Florian’s Song (if there’s a shepherd in your valley, . .) and many others which I remembered last night and have lost again, although I think I still have the book in a box of music. I thought about getting up in the middle of the night to blog, but everything was so vivid, with more and more detail, that I just kept on thinking. When I married, Mrs. Newkirk sent three silver serving pieces with a very pretty sort of Art Nouveau swirl and a flower on the handles, There was a large silver spoon, a fork and a gravy ladle. I still have them in my silver chest. Perhaps I still have too many things, but tomorrow morning I am going to sing an art song in the shower.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fallen Gingko Leaves

IMG_7088 sat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
For the rest of the winter we will have to look for the beauty in the bare branches and twigs. I love the History Park. I suppose one reason I like it is that it is never crowded and so I can wander about and think about the America from before I was born. I often think about the lives of my parents and how they both made their way to college from non-college families. There's a very interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell (author of many interesting articles!) about assumptions about IQ tests and levels. It's in the New Yorker, home of many interesting articles. although S thinks they are too long. Sometimes they approach too-lengthiness, but usually, to me, they just tell me stuff I didn't know I wanted to know in swell language.

A large yellow mulberry leaf just fell outside the kitchen window. In the darkness, it caught light as it passed through the light from the kitchen window; then it disappeared. A sort of leaf-meteor. Snug indoors, I am reminded of all that is outdoors. The last of the Mexicola avocadoes are falling from very high up on the tree. The one I picked up today was so deliciously ripe, that the bottom had flattened some upon impact. I can't believe how wintery it feels, when only a few moments ago it felt like Indian Summer.

Kiyoko considering what she has written

And this is Kiyoko, whose husband is in yesterday's post. She died on Christmas Day a few years ago, but I still think about her almost every day. Even as her memory failed her, she still liked to write haiku, as she is doing here. The things I have learned, the things to study, the two trips I have been able to make to Japan, have all come about because of this woman, who established the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society with her husband, after he said, "I think English-speaking people would like to learn to write haiku, too." She had encouraged him to write after he lost his hearing. The story of their lives is worthy of a first-rate novel. I hope to tell you more later.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kiyoshi smiles

Kiyoshi smiles
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is Kiyoshi Tokutomi,who founded my haiku society in 1975. He died in the 1980's. On the first anniversary of his death his wife, Kiyoko, planned a memorial service. Because he loved music and children, she arranged for many musical children to perform a recital in his memory.
Today, on XM Radio (I love XM Radio, but that's another post!) they played a Schubert Impromptu, the one that begins suddenly going down in pitch, like a waterfall. On the day of the memorial recital, the tiniest child, a girl of perhapa six years of age, with a waterfall of straight black hair held back from her face by a clip, marched up to the piano and attacked the waterfall of notes with a crisp professional competence. All the children played very competently, but she was spectacular, and so tiny. I have never forgotten that time, and that music, and I am always pleased to encounter that Schubert again. We named our annual haiku contest after Kiyoshi.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Twilight from the Studios

Just as I left the artists' reception on December 3, the sun was going down, and flooding the sky with pastel colors. A gull went past, then a small plane. Neither one made it into the photo.
Whys do people make art? As with the making of poetry there seem to be a lot of makers and not enough takers. Yet the urge to try to pin something to the page, the paper or the canvas is a strong one. Very little of these making will survive, yet we choose archival materials and frame things under expensive glass.
Today a huge new Dick Blick catalog came in the mail. Such gorgeous, plummy smooth colors. Yesterday I read about a new kind of archival colored leads with a special holder. I looked them up on the internet and they cost $150 for a set of 18 colors. They had better be pretty special.
Only a few more shopping days until Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I tried out Polaroid manipulation just before they stopped making the film. I understand why Polaroid film really isn't needed any more, neither are buggy whips, but it makes me sad, because artists had figured out so many interesting things to do with it. These excellent cherries were eaten quite some time ago, on a day I went cherry-picking with my grandsons in Northern Michigan where they grow so many cherries. See how they reflect the beautiful light from their dark smooth skins. This project is brought to you tonight because I wanted to escape from the present day for a short time.
Today, the man who knows how to do everything finished up the bathroom, but found a couple more small things to fix and will come back on Monday. His surgery is a week from today and is very worrisome. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Red Bow

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Just a few more presents, but the cards aren't done yet. Every year I wonder why we are doing this.
Tonight we watched a documentary about Tony Kushner. While I wasn't thinking about him, Maurice Sendak has become almost as old as I am. When I first worked in a library, my boss, Joyce J, was so proud because she had voted FOR Where the Wild Things Are and ordered copies for the Arlington Branch Library (AB, are you still there? in your corner location?) when the head of children's services thought it was stupid and too scary. Then it won the Caldicott that year. Maurice was just a young fellow then, in the early 60's.
After that, there was a riot near the library and I saw mounted police pushing a small crowd back. The horses were those beautiful big chestnuts that police use. Huge. And the people moved back obediently. See how memory works?? And what use are these reminiscences? Good night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Markham House

DSCN0132 up
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
The San Jose Poetry Center is making a library upstairs in this historic house in the History Park. It was once the home of Edwin Markham, author of the famous poem :The Man With the Hoe" The library has two rooms, one of which is a small haiku library. Most of the books are now listed on NaomiClarkLibrary on Take a look! We hope to begin by keeping the library open one day a week and expand from there. The books will not check out, but there are pleasant spaces for reading and there is a copy machine. It's a darling little house, dating from about 1860.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Printing Office

Printing Office
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Just visible in the upper left corner, the replica of the light tower that was put up in San Jose near the Corner where the first branch of Giannini's Bank of America was located. It was supposed to shed light all over downtown, but it wasn't that successful. But I still think of it as San Jose's own teeny-tiny Eiffel Tower, and it makes me smile. I love this Printshop, but am very glad to live in the time of computers and color copy machines. It makes saving information in huge quantities so much more do-able.
Bathroom work almost done:

midwinter rains
the workman kills the shower mold
before regrouting

Sleep tight, Santa comes soon. . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Gas Station in History

The Gas Station in History
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I wish I had the guts to use this for my Christmas card. I think it has that festive holiday touch! No snow, but this is California, after all. This station is in a History Park, so as long as it doesn't fall down, it remains, when most of the people who used to say HOWDY around the pump are gone. When people die, the Ottawa in Northern Michigan say they have walked on. There are a lot of other euphemisms: passed away, gone to Heaven, called back to Heavenly Father, etc. Once in awhile, the newspaper would say died, or died peacefully, (whatever that means) but not often. Merry C!

Jim near Kobo Daishi, Japan

Jim near Kobo Daishi, Japan
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Looking for another picture, I found this one of Jim, who died last month in a motorcycle accident. Tonight we had our annual haiku holiday get-together. We all have little haiku cards or presents to pass out. It has become quite a tradition. Jim's wife came and it was lovely (and terribly sad) to see her. This was the first year Jim was not there to read one of his end-of-the-year haibun. (Haibun are short pieces of prose interspersed with haiku.) One of our poets, Paul, passed out a booklet of his haibun. Everyone read from his or her gift. Paul's haibun was about a pet pig of his acquaintance; it was a delightful story. We always have this potluck dinner and wish each other well as the party season begins. We try to hold the festive occasion on the regular Yuki Teikei meeting day: the second Saturday of each month. I'll try to describe these meetings as we go through the seasons next year; we have a regular sequence of haiku events that go with the seasons.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I see now that I didn't post very many of my pictures from Japan in April of this year. Soon afterwards we began out hejira to Michigan and then I fell off the turnip truck and into the Michigan end-of-spring. Tonight I am working on a haiku holiday gift and revisited my Japan photos. In photography, there is the snapping of the shutter, then there is the archiving, cropping, improving, and most of all, selecting. I found quite a few pictures I had forgotten all about, like this one. I think it has wabi-sabi. Anyway I like the light cluster of blossom set off by gloom, the diagonals and all the tangle. This coming week I will make our Christmas cards. I wish I could use Cherry Blossom images, but the season is sort of off.
I heard from a descendent of my great-grandfather Lemuel Hardison Redd today. (These people are not rare, because he had plural wives, in the 19th Century plural-wife times.) She had seen a picture of him I put up on Flickr. But when I answered her email, her provider bounced back my message. Kathy Graf, where are you???

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A White Rose

DSCN0095 lvl
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It is difficult to get these with the right balance of no-color color, if you get my drift.There seems to be much more leeway with regular color photos. This white rose is near a brick path in the History Park. I think I will go back and take some more--I want to succeed at these because I really love them--I loved them the first time I saw any.
All around me people are getting terrible news about their cancers. Tonight I feel very lucky.
Luck is a white rose hanging over a brick path. Good night.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More Infrared

DSCN0015 lvldesat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
With the pink cast removed. A magical faeryland at the edge of the park where they stack stuff. With a christmas wreath. Santa's comin" fast!

An infrared garden

An infrared garden
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Wanted to try infrared-type photography. This is from the first attempts with a converted Nikon 995 that I got on eBay. I quite like the results, although there is a pinkish color cast that I may wind up taking off. Spent today with friends setting up the poetry center library at the Markham House. There are some lovely books there; it brought back many memories of poetry readings. It was more fun than I had anticipated.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cat Monotype

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is the monotype I got Saturday. It is very small and full of the most beautiful subtle textures. Plus the artist, Susanne Smith, is a dear friend. I just love this and am so glad I saw it.
Tonight I put together a swivel chair that we bought at Office Max. It had the base, four leather upholstered parts, a handful of screws, a central iron piece and a lift mechanism. All the screws had to be tightened with an Allen wrench that came with it. I hope it will be a good chair for Scott to sit in since he hurt his back and he is having trouble finding comfortable positions. We'll probably get a glass table to put the laptop on, too. Now we BOTH sit about in the evening and fiddle with laptops, looking up stuff on Wikipedia. It is great fun, and uses up all sorts of time that one might be doing something productive. . .

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Art reception upstairs

Art reception upstairs
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
One of those light industrial spaces that has been converted to artist's studios. This is a holiday artist reception where a lot of your friends come to look at beautiful things they cannot afford. (Although I may go back for the columnar woman with a tree inside her gown. (Perhaps you had to be there. I had a lovely time here and wandered from studio to studio. I bought a very small monotype of a cat. I'm getting just a little more excited about the holidays.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Auntie Lillian and Gran Marjory as girls

Auntie and Gran as girls
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is an example of some of the things I was thinking about yesterday. I scanned this very poor quality photocopy of my father's mother and her sister as girls in a group photo. I think it shows a group at the tail end of the 19th century. I don't have any other photos of her until she was a young woman. I take after that side of the family and look quite a bit like her, as did my father. Squarish face.
So even this low defintion item is very interesting to me. I scanned it on a visit to my mother's place. I like having these things on Flickr, so I can access them anywhere,

Here is an excellent poem by Thomas Hardy which first appeared in print at the tail end of the nineteenth century. It seems like a long time ago to my single life.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy

Friday, November 30, 2007

Susan on striped chair

Susan on striped chair
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is the sister that took the photo of our old home in Wednesday's post. She's always been a popular person, and you can even see why in this picture.
I have been thinking a lot about material possessions. For me a great deal of memory and old narratives inheres in the things I have. This photograph, for instance, came to me when my mother's younger sister moved to much smaller living space. She dismantled her photo albums, and sent the photos to where she thought they would be most appreciated or usefui. This came with a small envelope mosly filled with pictures of me before I was five or six. (Susan was born when I was almost four.) The envelope represented a slice of time from about 1935-1941. Since the photos were all loose, they were easy to scan, and I scanned them almost at once. In this way, they went to the head of the line in the scanning projects that I hope to do, which includes a childhood album with many of the same pictures, or pictures taken at the same time as well as the whole era of my children from about 1956-1985 or so. Most of this is on slides and represents new equipment needed, planning and a significant investment of time. We won't deal here with whether there is any need (or demand) for these digital archives--this project is almost totally motivated by my wishing to work with the resulting images and making them into little narratives of their own, or perhaps having them to use in collages and other art work.
The crease in the upper right reminds me that this picture was sent from Scotia, New York to family in Mesa, Arizona. The copy in my baby book has been protected and has no crease, so the crease is part of the history. There is also a note on the back of the picture in my mother's striking and individual handwriting about Susan's progress. (She was a premature child and had already been hospitalized for scarlet fever.) I remember that when I was taken to see her in the hospital, we could look at her through a window, because she was in isolation. Associated with this is a memory of a small pink toy pig in a wire cradle. It was about 3 inches long and was made of some sort of plaster or chalky material with a shiny pink coating that peeled off. Later I used the pig like sidewalk chalk to draw hopscotch games on the sidewalk of First Street.. It wasn't suitable for an infant, so I must have gotten it about that time, even though I seem to remember it was hers and I wanted it--but I have tried many times to remember more than this, because the pig is so strongly connected in my memory with that visit to the window of the isolation ward. But this is all I have been able to recall.
The striped chair was slipcovered by my mother, the stripes were a dark coral on a cream ground. The sofa she did was done in the same pattern in brown stripes. These stripes appear in many photographs of this time, particularly at Christmas, which took place in the living room. Mother was proud of the workmanship in these slipcovers, which featured a beautiful even piping, inserted in the seams, and fitted the furniture without a wrinkle.
So, this one small photo reminds me of my own childhood, my sister's illness, my Aunt Louise, my mother's sewing skills and my baby sister. The slipcovers are gone, but if I had a piece of the fabric, that, too, would be precious to me.
Which brings me to a central question: in this time when people are being bombed out or driven from their homes, or cannot find work there to sustain themselves; when floods, tornado or fire takes away everything a family possesses in a few moments, how silly am I to remember, and treasure, the feel of a small pink chalk pig in my hand and the way he wore down--first his head, then his trunk--until only the tail end was left.
In the last couple of years, I notice more and more that bits and tags of language and song, or even just single, discrete words pop into my head for no reason. I can, and do, chase down the rest of the song or poem, or the definition or origin of a word through my beloved Google.
These bits and sounds--my father singing Annie Laurie--will vanish when I do, or even before. What we remember, why we remember, the uses of memory, the gathering and organization of family relics, these things interest me. I just bought The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker, which I am hoping will deal with some of these issues. I haven’t started to read it yet. Good night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Balinese kite

Balinese kite
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I am trying to get up my nerve to go on a watercolor trip to Greece, led by the same leader that took us on a trip to Bali, where I saw this kite shop. I still wish I had tried to carry a kite home, but it seemed too easy to damage. The colors were gorgeous though, and the light came through the windows of the shop and lit up the bright-colored fabric. I know I will like Greece if I get up the nerve to go. Decisions . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Farm House Jul2006 300dpi up

Farm House Jul2006 300dpi up
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Here's what the house pictured below in 1950, when we bought it, looked like in 2006, when my sister visited it. Theyv'e put on an attached garage and inserted one of those mullioned windows to give a better view onto the meadow, but it's the same house, with a new roof. The front door looks different,too. but I will have to check the other picture. The corner at the right of the phot is still plumb, too, the way my father jacked it up to be. That's when I learned about a plumb bob, and patient, incremental, improving work.
We saw the tail end of an Ovation show about Goya narrated by that neat art snob, Robert Hughes, tonight. We had seen the whole show before, but the detailed views of so many paintings make it one I could view many times over. Thinking about Goya--his deafness, his joy and renewal when he escaped from the Spanish court, his mighty etchings telling truths about war and the strong and terrifying dark paintings painted on the walls of one of his late residences--is really to think about art, the uses of art and the human spirit. Good night.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas

This was made with my first digital camera and I have used versions of it in many different ways. I like the variety of shapes. I don't suppose you need to know that the blue shapes in the lower left corner are the end of a black lab who walked into the photo, but that's the truth. This dog is a very important member of my son's family and I am pleased that he is there.

Today we took our Wolfi to the vet to have his anal gland expressed. If you don't know about this doggy medical problem, be thankful and don't ask! We got some frozen yoghurt on the wayhome--served by a very slow girl who gave HUGE servings as if to compensate for her lack of speed.
Today I found a web site with lost of information on collage and any beautiful collages. Here is her list of artist's block tips, but the whole blog is very interesting. Her list of collage and art links looks like it might keep my interested for weeks. Check it out!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grooms Corner Farmhouse

Grooms Corner Farmhouse
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is The Farm when we got it. I even like the light spot on the print; it gives a faint ghostly tremor. See below for more about the farm. We put in the heat, the lights and the plumbing and a Southern AnteBellam porch to replace this one. The trees were American Elms and infested with Dutch Elm disease; we soon took them out. The disappearance of elms changed the character of all the towns where I grew up.

The first summer we were here we raised 200 chickens. We ordered male chicks and "caponized" them with a hormone pellet injected (with a small razor-sharp tool with a hollow tube for the cylindrical pellet) under the skin of the neck. I don't think this is done any more for obvious reasons. We discarded the necks, but I have wondered if that was good enough precaution. I cleaned every one of those chickens for the freeezer that summer--we skinned instead of plucking) Those chickens had the best succulence and flavor of any I have ever tasted.
There are eight million stories, even in the country. This has been one of them.

Friday, November 23, 2007


IMG_5009 simp lvl sunlight
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Next week maybe I'll get crabby . . .
I am thankful for our environmental protection agencies, such as: The National Resources Defense Council; The Nature Conservancy and the many local and regional groups that are working desperately hard to try to preserve natural places, plants and animals, including us, from the many threats that face us all.
I am grateful for the help I have had from poetry and art teachers. I am extremely grateful for the love and understanding of my brother Robert and my friend Paul who encouraged me in my writing. I am thankful for all the people I have met in writing, haiku and art groups. They have made my life very rich.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What I am thankful for

Layer screen
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
My daughter's job as a rural mail carrier was finally upgraded to full time last week after almost ten years! My grandchildren are all fantastic, healthy and smart. Also cute. I have been married for 52 years and my husband is more fun all the time. We have a California home and a summer home in a meadow by the woods.
I love flowers, photography and computers. I've got my eye on a camera modified to take infrared-type pictures, and my new printer is on the way via UPS. Also reading, painting and writing.
There are other things not to be thankful for in this world. But not today. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Taiko coat face

Taiko coat facebw
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Direct TV installed and working today. A treat with a good NIcolas Cage movie tonight. No commercials. Then an American Masters on Carol Burnett. If there were no commercials I cold probably get hooked on TV. This weekend I get back into Chase Cottage Studio and do some monotypes, and maybe some collage. Keep your eye on this space for results. And keep your fingers crossed about the watercolor trip to Greece. Good night.

At the beach

At the beach
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This was her first trip to the beach--she was not sure she liked it. I can't believe how fast my granddaughter is growing up. Now, a year and three-quarters later, she looks like a different person.

Tomorrow we get ready for a simplified T Day with just the two of us. It will be slightly festive, but simplified.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hopper Family at The Farm

Hopper Family at The Farm
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Here I am (far right) with all my brothers and sisters in 1953. Our fabled farmhouse (built 1840-1860) was without heat when we moved in and had one faucet (the sink drained into a milk can) and a few bare hanging lightbulbs. We used to bathe in a tub we filled with the hose running upstairs and then warmed with stove-heated kettles of hot water. I got to bathe first, thankfully, then Susan, then the boys in a group. Little Marjory got her own purer baby bath.

There were rotten potatoes in the cellar that had grown long sprouts. There were rats and mice. We called it The Farm. My parents bought me two $75-dollar horses, Sis and Cindy. They gave us $10 off on Sis, a roan, after we bought Cindy, a sturdy red-brown horse with a black mane and tail. Both horses were with foal.

This place is the basis for much of our family folklore. I lived here less than three years, then went away to college, marriage and the rest of my life. But my brothers spent some fine years here and we still love to think about the 140 acres and barns that went with the place. My sister (light dress, next to me) went back recently to visit, and sent me a photograph, which inspired this trip down Memory Lane.

My parents moved to Ohio from here in 1957 and I have never been back, nor attended a high school reunion. I have heard that the US government spruces that we planted have turned our pasture into a piney woods. I am afraid it would make me deeply sad to return.

Behind us, and downhill, is the Mohawk River and on the other side is the GE Research Lab where a lot of our friends worked in the 1940s and 1950s. It's a very different world now, I sewed the skirt (dark rose color) and blouse (sheer with tiny flowers) I am wearing and used the blouse pattern (it had three pretty tucks across the front) to make more blouses to take to college. I made lots of similar skirts without a pattern.

My adored youngest brother, Robert, (second from left) died almost ten years ago. I will always miss him. It doesn't seem so long ago that this picture was taken, but it has been more than fifty years. We were still absorbing, then, the knowledge of the atom bomb, and had never heard anything about a place called Viet Nam. We did not yet have a TV, although some people we knew did. And since we lived near Schenectady, there were good channels we didn't get to watch. America at midcentury in New York State. one family, dressed for church and lining up to have a picture taken.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
A member of the upcoming generation of young women. Today I went to my friend's holiday open house at her studio. It was wonderful to see her and I stayed there all afternoon. She is a life coach and leads womens' groups. I wonder if there will be such a need in thirty years. . .

Friday, November 16, 2007

Less is more . . .

Less is more . . .
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Got one of my semi-annual wash-and-wear permanents from my friend Marilyn today. She has a little rabbit-ear TV that she tuned in to the Oprah show. The entire show was on a job they did on a world class "hoarder" (this is the new anathema--you are supposed to buy a lot, but then throw it away faster--my grandmother whose mantra was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," is probably rotating in her crypt--) who got therapy, cleanup help (it took several weeks), a remodel (mold) new Broyhill furniture, Profile Appliances etc, etc, and a start at a new life. All she had to pay was such terrible public humiilation as we all saw the permanent public record of her crimes, and watched her weep and try to laugh.

Marilyn throws away stuff all the time. I have to admit I was slightly inspired to throw away a garbage bag or two full. But I ordered another book from Amazon and waited for the spasm to pass. Tomorrow I have a get-together with friends all day. Maybe I can closet-weed next week.

This picture (which reminds me of a pueblo) is simplified from one I took in Wolverine, MI, juat after the goat-packing demonstration. See October 14, 2007 in this blog for more about goat-packing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sunlight and Shadow

Sunlight and Shadow
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
“They don’t know why they are in Iraq; they “do their job” as narrowly defined, which often means doing it blindly, senselessly—shooting at a frightened driver who runs through a checkpoint, for instance.” [New Yorker, November 19, 2007, p. 104 in an article discussing the movie “Redacted” on The Current Cinema by David Denby which begins on p. 103. I know this is more of a citation than you need, but I am a librarian . . .]
This morning I was finishing the New Yorker that came yesterday instead of starting on my planned productive tasks of the day.
I had a strange experience reading this: for a fraction of a moment, when reading
“. . . why they are in Iraq:” I felt that we were NOT in Iraq, that the decision was still to be made. I felt a lifting, a bliss, surely my country wouldn’t go so wrong. It lasted less than a minute, I am sure, but it was a very powerful feeling and I certainly missed it when I had to relinquish it.
And now we have been in Iraq on murky excuses for years and no resolution in sight. I am grateful every day that my sons are too old, but two of my grandsons are 19 and 21 and thus just ripe if the draft were reinstated. I have the greatest love and pity for those psrents whose sons have died or been maimed in this conflict. I wish for the restoration of the moral footing of my country every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Being home

P1000737copper lvl
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Today the man who knows how to do everything came over for the final session and ground down some doors that fitted too tight.. What-all did he do? Refinish oak stairway, install French doors in an archway. Gut and install new shelving in understairs closet, making it really usable for the first time after 43 years. Remove old flooring and repair extensive termite damage that we have been living with for many years. install new plywood subfloor and Duraceram floor and metal thresholds in family room, kitchen, hall, bathroom and laundry. Remove and reinstall toilet, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator and diswasher to put the flooring in under everything. Repaint ceilings, walls and woodwork in those rooms. Install new baseboards in all these rooms. Repair kitchen ceiling and install four new halogen lighting fixtures with dimmer. Install 12 new birch panel doors with all-new hardware and stain and finish them. Install storm door and solid-core doors to garage, Refit, restore and paint side exterior door. For all of this, help make hundreds of crucial aesthetic decisions and many excellent suggestions. Repair very loose upstairs banister (seen from inside kitchen ceiling while installing lights.) I feel very very lucky to have had him recommended to us by the termite inspector. Earlier, he had repaired outdoor termite damage and made a new deck cover with vinyl slats.Next week he is coming back to inspect, clean and repair roof and gutters. This process was long and not without stress, but the quality of the work really seems worth it.
When we got home I was surprised at many things I had forgotten, since most of the work was done just before we left at the end of the first week in May. The first time I went up the stairs, I was thrilled all over again. It's quite nice to be home but there is a lot of reshuffling, closet cleaning and rehanging of pictures to be done.
See here for another use of the Nik copper filter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
We visited these two on the way home. It was a long ride--with the visits to our sons' families--teo weeks. It is nice to be home, but having been gone for so long requires adjustment. Stop whining. I know it is a big burden to have TWO homes. ;-) Wonderful letter in the held mail from poet friend, L. from 25 years ago. I wish I had kept in touch with more people. I wish I was better at keeping in touch with my children. In my seventh decade, I am still trying to figure out life. It involves people more than I have understood.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The water ouzel speaks

The water ouzel speaks
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Another picture of Jim at this year's haiku retreat.

Gallatin River
sunglare on the wet rocks
this bleak autumn

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Using the Pilot Parallel Pen

Using the Pilot Parallel Pen
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This was taken at Asilomar in September of this year. We are having an art demonstration. Jim is the fellow whose head is almost touching the top of the photo. His unexected death saddens us all and greatly diminishes our haiku group.
This afternoon, on the way home, I traveled through high western lands in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. I thought often of Jim, whose haiku name was Ouzel, that little water bird who harvests his meals at the bottom of flowing streams.

winter desert
rabbitbrush seed clusters
their ghostly pallor

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the midst of life . . .

A Docent
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
A man with a sweet spirit and an ability to share the natural world has died suddenly. He wasn't old or sick. It is difficult to imagine our haiku events without him there. We will remember how he said we might miss a haiku moment by rushing past it on the way to a park where we thought something special might be found. We should look around hwre we are, or look out the window if we cannot get outside, he reminded us. Manifestations of the bounties of nature are found everywhere.

We will remember how he brought a basket of smooth stones for us to feel and hold and look at carefully. we will remember his yearly haibun which he read at our Holiday gathering. Most of all we will remember his understanding thoughfulness in conversation. Good night, Jim. Rest peacefully.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Indian pipe

Indian pipe
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
These come up in the spring. This is deep autumn. And this is the last day of October and we are in Glendive, Montana in Room 111 of the Super 8 Motel. On TV now Jerry Seinfeld is talking about Bee Movie, his very silly idea which has now come to sweet fruition, And I have written something (anything?) on this blog EVERY day this month. Sleep tight.

Apricot color after rain

Apricot color after rain
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
We are packing up at the Budget Host motel. Since this is the last day of the month, I'm posting now, so I will be sure to complete the project. A POST EVERY DAY!
This motel is very clean, but quite old--we are trying to figure out when it was built. S thinks maybe "before the War" (WWII). The bathroom is very tiny, with a very low toilet and an extremely low showerhead. I had to duck my head over to rinse off the shampoo!
Yesterday we listened to I Puritani all three discs. Recorded in 1972 with Sutherland and Pavarotti. I got the CD set used and it was still expensive. As we rode, I read about Bellini's life and early death. Just after the great success of this opera, he got a dysentery. He seemed to recover several times and was being cared for by friends at their estate outside Paris. They had some fear of cholera, and kept his friends away, by means of their officious gateman. On the day of the composer's death, a friend was turned away by this gateman earlier in the day. He came back later and the gateman was not there, so he went into the house and up to Bellini's bedroom, where his friend was in the bed. At first he thought Bellini was sleeping, then realized he was cold. This account left unanswered questions: Where was the gateman? Where were the hosts? Where? Why? A lonely death from the past. He was only 32 years old!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Geranium, simplified
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Another day on the road. Nice weather, and--since we are working our way toward HIghway 95 for the majority of our trip--a route notable for taking us through many small towns in various stages of decay. The small houses of the Northeastern past ranged along the highway. The old brick storefronts, some crumbling, some boarded up, some transmogrified into antique shops or art galleries. Newer strip malls, also decayed, or decaying, A very occasional J.C. Penney's or Walmart.
It seems to me that the best part of America is being lost and we won't know that it is irretrievable until it is completely gone, leaving behind some videotapes that nobody has the equipment to play any more. The place you grew up and learned how to be a useful adult. The place you had to leave to find a good job and rarely go back to.

And now you have to lock your house and your car. You've lost track of the neighbors and schoolmates you knew all your life. No older guys are around who like to show kids like you were how to do things. A mechanic won't let you use his shop because of insurance restrictions. The dentist makes you give him your Visa card number before you get in the chair. Nobody knows your aunts and uncles. Or your grandmother. You've no place to grow anything and nothing to ride that doesn't use gasoline. And certainly no creek or woods for your kids to investigate, unless you are very lucky.

There are so many of these towns, Driving across the country is a way to see how many. Some names today: Oink Joint Road, Otter Tail River, Crow Wing County. And a town named Pillager. We are in Detroit Lakes in room 111 of a budget motel, yellow sections set in a grove of trees. So far, a train has gone by about every 15 minutes. Close and loud. I love it: another touch of the past.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

This bridge is more beautiful than most works of art! If you visit the best birding locations around the Straits, you can also spy excellent views of the Bridge from all the points and bogs. Driving across, as we did today, it is clear that this is a no-pedestrian bridge--only sort of catwalks are there, not sidewalks as on the Golden Gate. Unlike the red-lead color of the GG, the ivory color of the suspension towers blends with, and is enhanced by, nature.
All along Highway 28, Highway 77 and Highway 2, the tamaracks (or larches) are turning yellow. Toward the end of the day, when there were hills and higher ground, there were some beautiful bright reddish ochre aspens. In the middle of the day, a large healthy-looking coyote crossed the road ahead of us. He was alert and focused, but not really in a hurry. He pricked up his signature ears and went through the roadside grass into the woods.

Brilliant sun all day, and room 231 at Days Inn in Hurley, WI, has wireless internet!!