Sunday, September 30, 2007

Green symphony

Green symphony
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Went tonight with our daughter for the ritual last cone of the season at the Dairy Queen on the last open day. So winter is really just around the corner. At the feeded only the chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers are left. The others have flown south, some as far as Central and South America.

It is beautiful Indian Summer weather, balmy, warm, slight breeze, some morning fog. It looks like we will be safe from freezes for awhile so my duaghter can get some more produce from her garden. Late season produce is always iffy here.

I have a lot of writing to do for our haiku publications and I better get cracking tomorrow. Good night!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Forest floor

Forest floor
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Every day now small groups of cranes and larger flocks of geese fly over. Under autumn clouds, they seem to know where they are going.
In my easy chair, I am deep into Picasso about 1909--courtesy of John Richardson. Pablo is about to dump Fernande and, as a prelude, making some pretty unflattering cubist pictures of her. In the summer of 1910, Dali was also there--in Cadaques on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean--but he was only six years old. There is a picture of Dali in his characteristic sailor suit in 1912in the book.. Apparently, even in 1910, he was thought to be precocious and showoffy. It is interesting to think about Dali as a little boy in a fancy suit. Oh, the lost 20th century and all its MODERN art, furniture and literature. And here we are in the 21st. It makes me feel heavy with remembrance. And with questions.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Follow the mushroom path

Follow the mushroom path
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Wherever it leads . . . Tonight the Verdi Requiem on Vox is keeping me up late. Pavarotti is singing (in his recorded afterlife) the swelling tenor lines. Also Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. What would it have been like to hear that performance live???

I am reminded of when my brother bought a small CD player and fifteen Requiems on CD. We were all together after my father died. ("How can you stand it? There's no music here," Richard said.) We played the Verdi several times. I wondered then how Dad felt about classical music. I don't remember that he ever played music, classical or popular, although he sang quite a few songs like Loch Lomond.

all day I've been thinking
how he sang Annie Laurie--
murmuring reeds

Just last night I was reading--in Going Back to Bisbee--about the Arizona-Mexico border unrest in the first couple of decades of the Twentieth Century. New Mexico and Arizona weren't states yet; the Gadsden Purchase wasn't really incorporated into the USA; land titles were in flux. Bandits and other malfeasants ran across the border in either direction to escape legal punishment for their crimes.

My mother remembered a couple of nights that her whole family spent out in the desert--with the livestock--when a raid of Mexican bandidos was predicted. My father said his neighbors also feared border raids. It was a long time ago, but only the span of their lifetimes.

Good night, Dad. Sleep well under your brass plate that says:
He was a very parfit, gentil knicht.
Good night, Mom. Your matching plate bears the quote you chose: We are such stuff as dreams are made on.
Sleep tight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mysterious woods

Mysterious woods
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Right now, on Public Radio, Delilah is singing her beautiful song to Samson, in impeccable French. We know her melodies will win his heart, with disastrous results. But as we listen to this, we do not really care. I think this is one of the most beautiful songs in all of opera.

I ordered more books today, although I cannot shelve the ones I have. But I keep being reminded of something I planned to read and finding that it has now been remaindered for $1-$4. Hard to resist unless gas climbs to $5 a gallon.

Virgin Soil by Turgenev came today in a lovely Everyman's Library edition with a ribbon bookmark. That's good for a day or three.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Autumn in a frame of branches

Autumn begins
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is the peaceful rural landscape of the beginning of autumn in northern Michigan. Tonight I watched more of the PBS series on World War II. In which (the phrase used in Winnie the Pooh chapter headings) the summer fields of Normandy were fought for in terrible bloody struggle. The hedgerows were as if made to hide gun emplacements and provide concealment from aerial attack. And the people who lived there just had to manage. It is terrifying to think about being in the middle of such a thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn path

Autumn path
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Tonight I watched the third segment of The War, the new Ken Burns PBS series. I remembered how to prepare cans for metal recycling, of course. And to me, THE WAR will always mean World War II, despite what conflicts we are currently bogged down in.

I had been unclear about Anzio and Monte Cassino. It was horrible to see the ancient monastery almost implode from the bombing. This film says that the Germans weren't using the actual monastery until after the bombing (due to an agreement with the Catholic church) when of course, it was just rubble, so then they did set up gun emplacements there. But the horrible, stalled slogging up Italy (one shot of a truck through deep mud) and the nine-day preparations after the beachhead at Anzio that enabled the Germans to dig in and reinforce made me think Italy was a tougher battle than I knew. And the films of blasted dead and wounded soldiers were shocking, although not certainly as shocking as they could (and should?) have been.

Two great stories of how couples (who would never have seen each other is not for the dislocations of the War) met reminded me of our friends Betty and Emory and how they looked into each other's eyes passing on an Oakland Street and were thurnderstruck. She was frightened by the power of it and he had to work hard to find out who she was. (They ended up together in a home for Alzheimer's patients and now he is dead, and she may not remember the story and certainly wouldn't remember telling it to me.) One of their children got a Macarthur grant for his work on behalf of burn victims. They had other fine children, too. And they seemed to enjoy being around each other whenever I saw them.

What struck me most was the immense amount of WASTE. Wasted young lives, destroyed buildings and landscapes, huge--almost impossible to grasp--waste of metals, oil, and war meteriel. I don't think we had much choice but to participate in that war. Each succeeding war is more immensely wasteful, while so much that would enhance lives goes undone. I don't see that we have learned much. The groups that work for peace seem to me to be pitifully ineffectual, if often good-hearted.
The leaves fall upon this path and are trodden upon, broken up and become part of earth again. I would like to think we could treat our young soldiers with more tender care.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Backyard autumn

Backyard autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
All the lovely kigo, or haiku season words, will now come in to play. "Autumn deepens" is one of my favorites, as is "waters of autumn" which refers to the clearer waters after the turbulent silt-laden runoff of spring. Now is the time for "beginning of autumn" which is not quiite as sad, but presages the falling of leaves, and the end of summer flowers and fruits.
Tonight my grandson came over and read some of the game warden's adventures in Outdoor California. This is one of my favorite parts of the magazine--these adventures seem to have an old fashioned rectitude. The poachers know they have done wrong and quake when captured. They had just as well confess, since (for instance) the body of the mountain lion in the back of the car is still warm.

These tales contrast oddly with this morning's story in the New York Times about the Major from Louisiana who managed to take almost $10 million in bribes from military suppliers (using his wife and sister as bag ladies) before being arrested. Known from childhood as a deeply religious man and one of 17 children, he became entangled in this mess. What a culture! What profits there must be in supplying the military! What a stupid system. It almost reminds me of the people who fed raccoons on their deck, until there were so many dangerously snarling raccoons that they were unable to use their own backyard. Not that he is not to blame, but that there is enough loose money in this system that millions can be abstracted from it so heedlessly--before anyone's attention is attracted. Your tax dollars at work, corrupting your countrymen.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Sunday

Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Slow and pleasant. Dogs now asleep on the couch and it's almost time for bed. Pond Hill Farm's conservation easement is now in place. Nice birdwalk yesterday.

Quite a few trees seem to have been taken out here. The woodland is pleasantly open, but none of the trees are very old. We are still working on the contract for our conservation easement and may not get it done this year.

Tonight I followed a link of someone who left a favorite on a picture of mine and found a link of hers to Barack Obama on Flickr. I thought it was some kind of joke. Surely, he doesn't have a Flickr account?? But it looks like he has had one since February. It is filled with really bad photos of rallies and other political events. He is in a lo of the pictures, bleached by camera flash. Etc. There is also a link to a shop for Obama merchandise, like baby sweatshirts and so forth. I loved seeing this silly thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Light Blue buZZed

Light Blue
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I read a lot about art journals today and learned the names of "outsider" artists Lee Godie, Annie Hooper, and Fred Ressler. All of these names can be Googled and some of their work seen. In addition, at one gallery I found the work of Aimee Beaubien, whose grandmother used to write on the back of those square photos. She has taken the titles of many collage pieces from these writings, which have a delightful, unstudied charm. She combines old images with new ones. I was actually as interested in the grandmother texts as I was in the art works. I need a piece of text to caption this manipulated photograph and make it vibrate. Perhaps I should read all those family letters that are in storage in Prove after all.
Before Paul died, he asked me to be sure to get his journals. He wanted me to have them and work with them. I told him that of course his sister and mother would want them and that if he wanted me to have them, he shold put it in a good will. He never did. He was the second longest survivor in San Francisco with an AIDS diagnosis when he died in 1990. He died on the night before he was to have his sixth and last chemotherapy threatment for lymphoma. Before that he had many other illnesses and had had his spleen removed,
I have to admit that it was kind of a relief not to get his journals, which were in many of those black-bound sketchbooks. Reading them would have taken an immense amount of time. Even before he got sick he was a very self-centered person. One who struggled to be himself in what seemed to him to be a world intent on changing him. His long and complicated illnesses (in that firestorm time when we were just learning about HIV and so many people were dying in New York and San Francisco) made him ever more determined to follow the beat of his own drum. I am sure the journals were often a record of struggle.
But when his family and friends went out on San Francisco Bay to pour what seemed like only a double handful of white powdery ash into the breeze to be carried out over the Bay beside the boat, his sister read beautiful passages from his journal. The one I remember was about kites and kite flying--he insisted on flying kites every spring when the weather was suitable--I went with him several times. So it is good that she has the journals to care for.
I know I promised to talk about poetry tonight. It has been a good summer for that, and I should be able to do it tomorrow. In the meantime look up the poetry and essays of the Scottish writer Kathleen Jamie. Bless internet book finding and ordering!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A fine old ruin

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This summer I have allowed myself to move in all sorts of directions with my reading--never being very careful to complete one line of investigation before starting another. I am not sure this has been really a good idea, but I have had a deal of fun with it so far. Never before have I had so many books lying about with bookmarks in them. I have read several works by Elias Canetti, a Nobel laureate about whom I had known nothing, most notably the three volume autobiography which I count as among the handful of truly excellent books that I have ever read.

I re-read Pedro Paramo, it’s still as mysterious and lovely as the first time. Through the edition with mysterious blurred photographs concerning the character Susana San Juan by Josephine Sacabo, I was led into the really fine photographs of Juan Rulfo himself as well as the Mexican photographs of Mariana Yampolsky. I revived my interest in Juan Felipe Herrera, and read many of his newer books including a lovely quasi-autobiographical picture book and some for young adults, in addition to his poetry and polemics.

Thinking I might again read War and Peace, which I first read in 1951, I found that the hot new translators Pevear and Volokhonsky were about to issue their new translation in October; I thought I might wait for that, despite having had really no quarrel with Constance Garnett. Then I decided to check out the translators P&V with Gogol's Dead Souls (which I adore) and two volumes of Chekhov (ditto.)
A friend's mention that she would like to read a book about the Yellowstone River reminded me of the Rivers Of America books that were lying about everywhere in my childhood; I think maybe some of them were Book of the Month Club selections. They got all sorts of poets and writers and historians to work on them, so there is really nothing uniform about the results. There is no volume on the Yellowstone; I sent for The Mohawk, The Brandywine, The Hudson and the Kennebec from the usual used-book sources, which have made following up whims like these almost too easy. The ones I got are quite dated and very different. The Brandywine has a great deal of family reminiscence and genealogy-bragging in it, as well as really terrible (who knew?) illustrations by the young Andrew Wyeth. I remember reading somewhere that Mrs. Wyeth said she would leave AW if he didn’t stop the illustration gigs and get more serious about his real art. As for the Mohawk, that is the river I saw almost every day for the first 17 years of my life. So this book is very interesting to me. The Hudson is good, too; I haven’t read the Kennebec yet. I wonder if I should be reading such old popular history books, because the information may not be first-rate, and much of it will have been superceded by new findings and theories. There is a little patronizing sentimentality in the treatment of American Indians, but it is a different kind than the kind we have now.

Reading these tomes, I am carried all the way back to places I used to read—in the apple tree in Scotia, for instance. The books have the look and smell of that time. The Brandywine is one of those paper-saving WW II editions. That carries me back, too.

We’ll leave the poetry for later. I know I am always promising something later that I do not return to . . . But I do have the hope of making this blog something that will be worth reading once I get the hang of it. Good night.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Morning rain

Morning rain
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
The summer has gone with such incredible speed! Look up, down and all around for these graceful still life arrangements. You don't have to travel far to find things to photograph or sketch or inspire haiku. Just take a few steps or look out of a window, or over the porch railing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nice Hat

Nice Hat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is an etching with chine collé that I did in a winderful printmaking class. The hat reminds me both of one Kiyoko wore at the Haiku Retreat--before she began to lose her memory--and the sort of bonnet that might have been worn by one of my great-grandmothers who crossed the plains. At the time I did this I was making a series of images with a woman and and bird in each one. I am not done with this yet; it has been the source of some interesting things that surprised me. I have no idea where this chicken came from, but he seems to have a certain insouciance. . .

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cranes in field of white flowers

Cranes in field of white flowers
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I just adore seeing sandhill cranes. This was yesterday. Soon they will fly to warmer climes, but they come back every year. They like to come down in an area that has been mowed, and don't come down in the knee-high fields of late summer weeds and grasses. I guess the fox and coyote might lurk within. When I see them, they are often in what seems to be a small family group like this, although I see larger groups in flight during the migration. A couple years ago, we had planted some leftover vetch seed that someone gave us. It made purple flowers, which were followed by seeds in a pod. Vetch is of the pea family, I think. After the pods were dry, we had cranes come several times to eat them, I watched with my binoculars as they tore each pod loose from the vine and swallowed it. I clearly saw them take the pod. What fun! I need to plant some again. They ate almost all the seeds and I have had only one or two plants come up since.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Belfry the Barn Owl

Belfry the Barn Owl
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Don't say, "Enough with the birds, already." Isn't this one a cutie? He is pictured in his indoor living space where he gets loving daily care, including, when needed, beak trimming with a Dremel tool and some talon filing. Fed on dead and gutted mice or day old chicks prepared the same way, this owl is in training to be a school or educator owl. Quite charming manners! We saw other great stuff, too.
But the excellent lecture on bird banding (Ed Pike is studying screech owls, and--who knew?--they migrate and travel long distances) had no practical demonstration, because no bird flew into the mist net. I took my grandson and a fine time was had by all.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Grackle Flight

Grackle Flight 5186crp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
More pictures from the Grackle adventure (see below.) You can clearly see their iridescent helmets in this one. The white spots are suet that they threw on the window in all the commotion. Yesterday morning a single sandhill crane flew over, sounding its warbling bugle-call. It is thrilling to see a crane in the air.
A couple of different young cardinals and two young Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fequent the feeder now. I feel quite extraordinarily pleased with the breeding success of all our feeder birds this year.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blue bay with kelp

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
At Point Lobos State Reserve, the gorgeous deep blue of the ocean with its beds of kelp. We all went there to write haiku before the Haiku Retreat at Asilomar. Since Point Lobos is nearby, it is an opportunity to go there while we are in the neighborhood. The water in this view lifts and falls, lifts and falls in a great quiet undulating sheet. On a calm day like this, it is very powerful and, at the same time, very quiet. What looks like the curve of the earth is an illusion produced by the fisheye lens.

unjust wars
how they've come and gone
pulse of the autumn tide

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Late California Poppies

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
At Point Lobos, the tiny autumn blooms of spring and summer wildflowers are a reminder that autumn deepens. Something has gone to seed on the bluffs and made fluffies on a stalk that reminded me of large Q-tips. I don't know the name of the plant, or what the bloom would look like. The trip to California worked out well, except that I should have left a little more leeway to rest and hang out before I came back. Everyone was spectacular at the Haiku Retreat--it was wonbderful to see them--and I heard some fine haiku. Carolyn taught us how to use the Pilot Parallel Pen, a type of cartridge double steel nib pen designed for calligraphy, which turns out to be very useful for quick sketching. It is water-soluble ink, so you can also pull a little blueness out of the black--with a wet brush--for shadows and cloudshadow and other shading. I fell in love with this pen. We had a great deal of fun with all the art supplies at the Retreat which was organized on the theme of keeping travel journals for art, sketching and collage. More to come.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


bronze feet
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Haiku with art; this is one I took to Japan as a gift.

The plane ride took seeming forever, or a total of about 14 hours portal to portal. But everything went very smoothly; the planes weren't full and kinks seem to have been worked out of some of the security procedures since the last time I flew.
I reacquainted myself with the poems of Tomas Transtromer on the plane, using the translations of Robert Bly. This made me absurdly happy. Good night. . .

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Grackles passing through

Grackles passing through
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
See yesterday's post for the story of this flock of grackles. More photos to come next week. I will probably not be posting while I am gone back to California for the Yuki Teikei haiku conference at Asilomar. Sleep tight, I have to catch a plane that leaves at 6:15 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


IMG_4923 shrp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Late this afternoon about 100 (I swear!) grackles flew over my house from south to north. They lit on the fence in groups, and attacked the feeder in groups of six to eight. This is a feeder that has trouble handling more than 3-4 chickadees at a time. We offer black oil sunflower seeds--suet cakes are at each end. We had a pair of grackles pretty regularly several weeks ago. They can really go through the suet! Recently they've been gone, and I was relieved.

This went on for about half an hour. I have never seen such a congeries of grackles. I've seen the huge fall flocks of blackbirds and starlings. This was very exciting. I did get some pictures, but haven't looked at them yet. I hope at least a few come out.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guard the inestimable worth of your own rarity

those twigs 2
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
All right, I'll stop this soon. I am reading the second volume of Soseki's I AM A CAT in a delightfully funny British translation.
Here are some of the cat's (the author's persona) thoughts:

" However, when I think things over and see them in perspective, I can understand that it's not altogether unreasonable that my master and his houseboy should thus look down on me. Two relevant sayings by ancient Chinese sages occur to my mind. "Elevated and noble music cannot penetrate the ears of the worldly wise" and "Everyone sings street-songs but very few can join in singing such learned airs as Shining Spring and White Snow." It's a waste of effort to try and force those incapable of seeing more than outer forms to understand the brilliance of their own souls. It is like pressing a shaven priest to do his hair in a bun, like asking a tunny-fish to deliver a lecture, like urging a tram to abandon its rails, like advising my master to change his job, like telling Tatara to think no more about money. In short, it is exorbitant to expect men to be other than they are. Now the cat is a social animal and, as such, however highly he may rate his own true worth, he must contrive to remain, at least to some extent, in harmony with society as a whole. It is indeed a matter for regret that my master and his wife, even such creatures as O-San and Tatara, do not treat me with that degree of respect that I properly deserve; but nothing can be done about it. That's the way things are; and it would be very much worse,indeed fatal, if in their ignorance they went so far as to kill me, flay me, serve up my butchered flesh at Tatara's dining table and sell my empty skin to a maker of cat-banjos. Since I am a truly unusual cat, one born into this world with a mission demanding purely mental activity, I am responsible for safeguarding the inestimable worth of my own rarity. As the proverb says, "The rich man's son is never seated at the edge of the raised hall." I, too, am far too precious to be exposed to the danger of a tumble into calamity. If sheer vainglory led me to sun such risks, I would not only be inviting personal disaster but flouting the evident will of heaven. However, even the fiercest tiger, once installed in a zoo, settles down resignedly next to some filthy pig. Even the largest of wild geese, once in the poulterer's hands must finish up on the self-same chopping board as the scrawniest chickling. Consequently, for as long as I consort with ordinary men, I must conduct myself as if I were an ordinary cat.. Ordinary cats catch rats. This long but faultless chain of logic leads to but one conclusion. I have finally decided to catch a rat."
So, with the wise words of this inestimable and slightly crabby cat, I take my nightly leave. (It's all one paragraph.)Good night.
PS: I became interested in Soseki when I was in Japan. He is on the very handy 1000 yen bill

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jolly -- simplified

Jolly Lama -- simplified
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
There used to be a barbershop in this tiny shop, now so brightly made yellow. Downtown Alanson, MI, across from the old Post Office. I saw a lot of glowsticks at various evening picnic events this year. I want some . . .
This summer has gone so fast that I am slightly stunned.
Beautiful music, sung in French, now on the radio. Late at night. I am finally getting my spaces cleared and my papers in order so I can work on writing and painting and it is almost time to leave. . .

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Where's the hose?

Where's the hose?
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I've been reading a great deal this summer. Here's a definition from Jung. "A great work of art is like a dream; for all its apparent obviousness, it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal." I found it in a book on landscape photography. Also David Ward (the author of Landscape Within) says it isn't necessary, or evn advisable, to always put a person into your landscape. Thanks goodness! This is my aesthetic, too.