Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Writing haiku on a ginko at Overfelt Park

Seated on a bench, my haiku teacher (left) and my haiku friend write haiku on a beautiful spring afternoon in Overfelt Park in San Jose. Lines of shadow lead to the bench. And, there's California sunshine! Now, my teacher, Kiyoko, is no longer alive, except in those of us who remember her. My friend and I are preparing for an April trip to a haiku conference in Matsuyama, Japan. She will deliver an address on Kiyoko's life and that of her husband, Kiyoshi, who founded our Yuki Yeikei Haiku Society (www.youngleaves.org)
This is a sequence of haiku that I wrote for her while driving home just after she died. . It appeared in Modern Haiku the following year..


driving westward
the sun makes it hard to see
—news of her passing

tumbleweed and sage—
white steam rises easily
from holes in the earth

the long straight highway—
so unexpected her death
in this cold season

on bare desert sand
a heart fashioned from black stones
—dust-laden wind

lone desert peak
a single long cloud above it—
winter rain

white alkali flats—
her forty-nine days just begun
at the year’s turning

winter desolation
along the railroad track
a row of tumbleweeds

outside the motel
sun glazes the mountain rim
—departing year

Yule icicle lights—
all I wanted to ask her
sticks in my throat

not wanting to think
this might be heaven’s blessing
—winter mountain

the Pie Jesu
sung in a soprano voice—
winter cloud

her haiku spirit
reaches out across the landscape
depth of winter

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

314 First Street, Scotia, New York

On the porch with Johanna Rohrmeir. My friend Johanna's the blonde. Our dolls look like sisters. I'm in the center, baby sister Susan in the playpen. Circa 1940. Photograph taken by Olga, our mother. We moved next door a couple of years later; we used to rent this house. I think Johanna rented the apartment upstairs from the Essmann' s in the house on the other side of this one. I wonder where she went and what became of her.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

About vision

View of the Lake
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
Today to the library with a screening, with filmmaker John Carlos Frey, of the video Invisible Mexicans of Deer Canyon. In northern San Diego County undocumented workers live in shacks or under tarps in the brush. They get water from an irrigation spigot, hang washed clothing on the bushes to dry and worship at a shrine (later demolished) in the canyon where Catholic volunteers and a priest bring food and analgesics every Sunday. Mostly men, they are hired for gardening, construction and field work. They send money home to Mexico.
From such beginnings, favelas are born. The public health consequences alone mean that such settlements cannot be fostered. I would suggest that "cheap" labor is not so greatly needed that Americans cannot pay the people who perform it a living wage sufficient to pay for shelter and other necessities. One problem is that, if there is a much "cheaper" alternative, employers will not offer adequate pay. Driven by economic stressors, a great number of people are drawn from Mexico and Central America toward this work. This helps to keep the wages low. I also believe that a nation that cannot perform much of its own physical work will create a bloated and weak class of people who will fail in other essential moral ways. It is a problem that needs to be attacked on many fronts, not just by blaming the workers/victims of the system. One thing that still needs to be addressed is overpopulation. In the Seventies, we used to hear about this all the time; now, thinking about the "population bomb" seems out of fashion. We need some strong leaders, determined social will and some absolutely clear thought. Where will either come from????

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nandina in red

Nandina in red
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
Looking for art in the midst of life, I pause to ponder the usefulness of this. The Guy Who Does Everything has finished remodeling an understairs closet, which provides us with useful shelves. We will call him Guy, since he is beginning a project of replacing our interior doors with new birch ones. Today we tested stains: Country White, Summer Straw and Country Peach. We have tentatively chosen the Peach, which adds a very slight blush to the birch. I feel silly making these decisions. It almost feels unlike a serious grown-up activity. More like play, maybe with Play Do. Or like fiddling while Rome burns . . .

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Street tulips

P1020597 crpp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.

Here in California we get pretty flowers growing beside a shop. Other places in this world there is not enough food. Or there may have just been a massacre, or there will be one tomorrow. There is no malaria medicine here, or a disease that is not understood.

I met these tulips on a noon walk in Palo Alto today. The world is not their fault.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sycamore Group

Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
More from the Water District pond. My walk there made me very happy. I wish my burrowing owl still lived here. But times are tough for burrowing owls in Santa Clara County. Too many bulldozed and paved-over places. Not enough just plain ol' funky dirt with second-hand animal burrows in it. I have read about projects that tried to relocate displaced owls to PVC pipe homes in other neighborhoods.. If I were an owl, I don't think I'd like the architecture.
It's Valentine's Day, so today in printmaking class we had a demonstration of viscosity printing--a way to print with two colors of different oilinesses, one of which resists the brayered-over other. The Valentine was in red and yellow, said BE MINE on a heart, and had a lacy trim. A good time was had by all . . .

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Water District Ponds

Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
I went for a quick photo walk here the other day, I didn't even have my binoculars, but I used to go here all the time when I was learning to bird. There was a burrowing owl that used to come out of a burrow in a bank during the late afternoon and look at us with his yellow eyes. Standing there on his upright little legs. It was so reliable, I thought there would always be an owl there. Later, when they did all the "improvements" and built the new headquarters building--even before that, actually, the owl was gone. Now the bank is not even there.
It was a beautiful sunny day, with that clear air that comes after rain. I have to say I was somewhat reconciled by the beautiful sameness of the pond, with its coots, varities of ducks, cormorants, gulls and geese. The walk has many new varieties of California native plants with informational signs. I'll be back with my tripod and my 500mm mirror lens.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

White stucco

White stucco
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
These red geraniums always remind me of my husband's mother who grew them in a planter box in front of her small house. Because she lived in Idaho, the blossoms were so much larger than the ones we saw in California. I wondered if the buds had longer to develop before blooming beacause of the weather. But this is something I forgot to investigate long ago. In this Bay Area climate, geraniums bloom almost all winter long. But they will freeze.

Today we had an excellent haiku meeting at the Markham House. We passed Masajo's Love Haiku book around and read from her haiku, discussing the season words as we went along. It was interesting to see other peoples' interpretations of some of the haiku. Several haiku support more thatn one explanation of the meaning. Then we wrote for a while and read around in a circle.
I brought tangerines from our tree. And the rain fell, first slowly and then with more force as we went to the parking lot.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
We put the dogs in the car crates early this morning and went on a driveabout. Our popcorn ceiling was being scraped and retextured. This hair salon is in Mountain View next to the place where you get the mate imported from South America and the eight year's winner of the local best burrito category. I got the beans, rice and cheese and S got chicken.
I liked the window reflections and the disappearing lettering. We drove back over the Dumbarton Bridge and past part of the Refuge, which reminded me of years ago when Lucia was a ranger there. I decided to visit later and take some photographs. It was lovely soft-light overcast today, with gorgeous clouds. Good night.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
A good day in the print room. I printed a styrofoam plate based on a photo of tree and shadow that I took in Santa Cruz. I like the texture that i got. I hope to scan it later. The red nandina growing on the deck was beautiful against the sky. This is the most different photo I took; the others show the bright color.
Today, a little rain instead of the predicted storm. We will see about tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Harbinger of a California Spring

Harbinger of a California Spring
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
Last week these early soulangeana blooms in Palo Alto seemed almost to glow under an overcast sky. This morning our group read haiku for the Friends of the LIbrary in Saratoga. It was an appreciative audience and the reading went very well. Four middle school students also read their poetry. Some of their haiku were good. It was a pleasure to see four young women read in such a forthright manner.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Curtis Fields

Art exhibit
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
This man's colorful and beautiful paintings at a gallery in San Francisco. This was at the opening reception. We learned about the event in printmaking class and drove to San Francisco in our inkstained garb. The paintings are quite carefree and lively. They depict faraway scenes in France or Mexico, as well as nearby ones like a view of the countryside near Healdsburg. The gallery is spacious and an excellent place to view this type of painting. I was glad I was able to go.