Sunday, September 30, 2007
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
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
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--
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.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
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
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
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
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
how they've come and gone
pulse of the autumn tide
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
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
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
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
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
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. . .