Snapshot: June 29, 2007
Goatsbeard or salsify: here's that ineffably
perfect globe of winged seeds that my daughter
named her farm after.
What’s blooming in the meadow:
Heal-all (almost finished)
Ox-Eye daisy, has been blooming a long time,
but persists over months
Speckled knapweed, or Russian thistle,
setting countless buds, but only two low
mowed or trambled ones are blooming.
St. John’s Wort, just beginning, will bloom
for quite while, has a long season.
Feeder birds today were:
American Goldfinch pair
Hairy Woodpecker pair
Common Grackle pair
Mourning dove pair
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak pair
White-Breasted nuthatch, male
Tomorrow I will look again!
Friday, June 29, 2007
Snapshot: June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I'd like to post here a quote I found today in Hermione Lee's 1997 book on Willa Cather:
"She describes the struggle in a very beautiful, perceptive and famous passage about Katherine Mansfield's family stories, 'Prelude' and 'At the Bay', a wonderful example of one woman writer recognizing her own experience in the work of another:
"I doubt whether any contemporary writer has made one feel more keenly the many kinds of personal relations which exist in an everyday 'happy family' who are merely going on living their daily lives, with no crises or shocks or bewildering complications to try them. Yet every individual in that household (even the children) is clinging passionately to his individual soul, is in terror of losing it in the general family flavour. As in most families, the mere struggle to have anything of one's own, to be one's self at all, creates an element of strain which keeps everybody almost at the breaking-point.
One realizes that even in harmonious families there is this double life: the group life, which is the one we can observe in our neighbour's household, and, underneath, another—secret and passionate and intense—which is the real life that stamps the faces and gives character to the voices of our friends. Always in his mind each member of these social units is escaping, running away, trying to break the net which circumstances and his own affections have woven about him. One realizes that human relationships are the tragic necessity of human life; that they can never be wholly satisfactory, that every ego is half the time greedily seeking them, and half the time pulling away from them. In those simple relationships of loving husband and wife, affectionate sisters, children and grandmother, there are innumerable shades of sweetness and anguish which make up the pattern of our lives day by day, though they are not down in the list of subjects from which the conventional novelist works." "
According to Lee, Cather made a great deal of use of actual people, things and events, all woven into the texture of her fictional worlds. I am reading this book now because a friend is reading Lee's current book on Edith Wharton. Ordering this book, I saw what good reviews Lee's biographies of Virginia Woolf and Cather had also received. I ended up ordering all three plus a second book on Cather. It will be a feast of literary biography; that should help keep me from doing any writing of my own for a couple of weeks.
I just read some advice to blog in the morning, when you are fresh, but don't plan to follow it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Today I have seen the work of several web people (are web people real?) who are committed to taking some sort of self-portrait every day for a year. The portrait might have just a finger, a foot, and eye or a shadow. It might be blurry, or veiled or obscured, as well as partial. Many of the web people had already made at least 280 portraits.
This is just exhausting to think about, but it might be a good way to deal with self-loathing and to get some variety into one's camera angles. On the other hand, it would perhaps be more difficult to take a picture of a different person every day for a year.
As you can see, I often prefer photographs without people in them at all. But I am in this shot, loving the clarity of the wave and the easy curl of the foam, you just cannot see me . . .
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Today I sropped by the grand opening of the Inland Waterway Museum, a small volunteer-run museum in a historic hundred-year old building that used to be a town hall. It was charming and well-appointed and very, very interesting, It is an attempt to remember the past, and to honor it. That's a good thing.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Tonight we went to a deep springfed lake for a picnic with our grandsons. We watched them dive off a log and then sat arond the fire and ate. These times are special; one never knows how many of them one will have.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I have spent a good part of my discretionary time today following the trail of a serendipitously-encountered Flickerite (maproomsystems -- go ahead and look him up!) who turned out to have a web presence, an eBay account for deaccessioning things that have been digitized, an interest in the past and its artifacts (from buildings to ephemera) very interesting and odd collections (postcards about alligator attacks on human beings). Following the trail of his hyperlinks, I became more and more interested. He is all over the MAP! His is not the sort of mind that would interest everyone, but it certainly drew my attention. He doesn’t seem to have a big following on Flickr the way some interesting creative photographers do. His photographs are very good, not in a particularly conventional way, but extremely varied in technique, concept and viewpoint. Perhaps because one of his projects was a daily self-portrait, some of this following links felt a teeny bit like stalking on my part, even though the portraits often only had a finger, a foot, the shadow of hair, or some other small trace. I kept turning up things that captured my attention. He is interested in things that are interesting, and also in their artistic manifestations--it is a little hard to explain clearly what I mean and I will have to think about it some more.
This is part of my project on the traces of lives: memory and artifact that aren’t the whole thing, or even the most important thing, about human beings. But it is a thing--these traces--that interests me very much. Now I have to learn how to make my own hyperlinks, so I can make connections for someone else to follow.
Good night. I had to rewrite a lot of this after I closed the wrong window. Now it is already tomorrow.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
And then! Three gorgeous spikes of apricot-color blossoms! I am reminded to keep on starting things, or finishing parts of things, and to keep on slogging, keep writing haiku, keep taking pictures, keep on . . .
Tonight, looking at my brother's web page, I see that a nephew and a niece also have blogs. Very interrrresting . . . as the detective used to say on the radio. Good night.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Robert, my brother, said that writing about his childhood was like finding the end of a piece of string. When he started to write, it was like pulling at the string and getting more and more string . . .
Here is a quote on the memory thread from a book that P loaned me because I ought to read it, she said. I was already far behind in reading projects, but I did read it. Here is the quote from One Man’s Bible by Gao Xingjian.
"Remote childhood is hazy, but some bright spots float up in memories. When you pick up one end of a thread, memories that have been submerged by time gradually appear and, like a net emerging from the water, they are interconnected and infinite. The more you pull, the more threads seem to appear and disappear. Now that you have picked up one end and again pulled up a whole mass of happenings from different times, you can’t start anywhere, can’t find a thread to follow. It’s impossible to sort them to put them into some sort of order. Human life is a net, you want to undo it a knot at a time, but only succeed in creating a tangled mess. Life is a muddled account that you can’t work out."
Human life is a net! At the finca in Colombia, after my brother Richard's wedding, a group of us walked together to see a pond that had been stocked with small, silvery fish. Richard's father-in-law planned to move some to another pond, to get them started there. While we watched, one of the workers from the finca flung a net out over the surface. It was a large net, but it opened out in a great arc and settled softly into the water. They pulled it in and put the fish into a pail. Somebody else wanted to throw the net, but his throw was not very graceful. I am very glad that I had this experience and that I can remember it. More about memory to follow. And about writing. And about what slips through the net . . .
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
I have been thinking about memory and collections since reading the New Yorker article about the man who is keeping a "lifelog" for MIcrosoft. He wears a heat-activated camera around his neck and a person has been hired to scan all his documents and other stuff.
I'll get back to this theme tomorrow.