Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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
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
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!!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I turned down a chance to see some WW II slides tonight. No time. It's a little sad, though. So long ago, and I was there, although not yet taking slides.
It is hard to leave behind the art books I got this summer, but they are WAY too bulky to take. I did remember to get my swimsuit and my warm coat, thus covering all my bases, weatherwise.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Her blog is here, but I still don't know how to link,
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
We leave in a week and I have a millon little ends I was planning to tie up. These little plans "gang aft agley." Good night.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
In the dusk, the ducklings jump into the air to catch bugs. It is very cute, but hard to see because it is almost dark. Watch the little guy at the far left of the screen.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The National Geographic that came today has a cover article on Memory and how we remember what we do. I haven't read it yet, but am very interested in the topic.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I remember when I listened to Kiri Te Kanawa sing these Strauss songs on a CD I borrowed from the library. (In my memory, her version is a little more shrill.) I wasn't really struck by them then, although I liked them well enough to listen several times.
Now I look in Wikipedia for information on the Four Last Songs, and there is a full and interesting article. (Wikipedia is getting better and better; we almost never have an unanswered question if the laptop is on. I also like to sometimes correct the spelling and punctuation.)
The Last Songs really were the last music Strauss wrote, (in 1948; he was 84) and he did not live to see them performed for the first time in 1950 by Kirsten Flagstad. They are settings of one poem called At Sunrise (Im Abendrot), and three poems by Hesse. All of the poems have a calm air of acceptance of death. Here is the translation of Hesse's September from Wikipedia:
The garden is in mourning;
the cool rain seeps into the flowers.
quietly awaiting her end.
Golden leaf after leaf falls
down from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
in her dying dream of a garden.
For a while beside the roses
she remains, yearning for repose.
Slowly she closes
her ever more weary eyes.
This is a poem about the coming of autumn, and is very consonant with what I see out the window now. The picture was taken in the back of our MIchigan place earlier today.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Then it started to rain and it has been raining off and on ever since. Tomight we are having a spectacular lightning show, but it is quite a bit to the east so far.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
SOUR CREAM BANANA BREAD
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup sour cream
Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients, mix.
Add the mashed bananas and sour cream. Stir in nuts.
Baked in greased or Pam-sprayed loaf pan
at 350 degrees for one hour.
It was plenty sweet; I would try using a little less sugar.
I added a few tablespoons of sour cream
because I had some extra. It wasn't too much, resulting
in a nice moist cake. I had to bake more than one hour,
but I am quite sure the oven here is not correct.
I'd give credit for this recipe, but I have no idea whose it is.
My husband had it in his notebook of recipes.
Today I read Happy Land by MacKinlay Kantor, the novelette
that was published together with Tacey Cromwell in 1943.
It was like fiction made from looking at Norman Rockwell covers, very sweet, very innocent and very small-town. It was sad, yet hopeful at the same time. The details were perfect! I liked it very much. MacKinlay Kantor was a well-known author in my childhood, but seems not to be read much now. Sleep well, read something sweet and not post-modern this week.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Doesn't this look like the type of faery pond where dwells the magic frog with golden eyes? I love the beautiful repeated verticals of the aspens on the other side of the pond. And the variant greens as the leaves begin to turn.
I did read the book by Conrad Richter, It is called Tacey Cromwell and I liked it very much. The title character is very strong and sort of relentless. There is much about the society of that day, and about Bisbee and mining towns in general. I think this edition was published in 1942 (terrible yellowing paper) but the book was perhaps written earlier, although just checking now, I guess not.
It seems to have been a bestseller. In the 1950's movie Natalie Wood played the young girl Tacey befriends/adopts, Seely or Celia. The book was republished in large type in 1990. It's an excellent choice for large type and would be enjoyed by many older people.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Today I drove into town for milk and cranberry juice. I took the cardboard to the recycle bins; then I saw I was across the street from the library, which was open. I got a bunch of 25-cent paperbacks from the sale rack. I have just started on Livy: The Early History of Rome. According to the translator's forward, Livy came right at the end of the great Roman literary period. When he was fifteen, Julius Caesar was killed.
This book is much more interesting than I though it might be; I actually bought it just to save "culture" from the dump, and because I never did any study of the Ancient World as part of my formal education and I feel an empty space where that learning should be.The following quote is from page 18 of this Penguin edition.
"I invite the reader's attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and what the means both in politics and war by which Rome's power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, then the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warning: fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.
I hope my passion for Rome's past has not impaired my judgement; for I do honestly believe that no country has ever been greater or purer than ours or richer in good citizens and noble deeds; none has been free for so many generations from the vices of avarice and luxury; nowhere have thrift and plain living been for so long held in such esteem. Indeed, poverty with us went hand in hand with contentment. Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought is, through every form of sensual excess, to be, if I may so put it, in love with death both individual and collective.
But bitter comments of this sort are not likely to find favour, even when they have to be made. Let us have no more of them, at least at the beginning of our great story. On the contrary, I should prefer to borrow from the poets and begin with good omens and with prayers to all the host of heaven to grant a successful issue to the work which lies before me." [The writing of this history.]
Livy, The Early History of Rome;
Books I-V of The History of Rome from its Foundation.
Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, Penguin Books, 1960, 1969.
This is related to the prison population explosion that I talked about yesterday. We can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. The increasing manifestations of greed and overdoing everything, from the space in houses, to the many gas-powered toys (for just two examples) that I have seen just in my lifetime are almost impossible to get the mind around, or to explain to a younger person. The certainty that we are headed, almost irrevocably in the wrong directions, is difficult to avoid. Good night . . .
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Today I read Crossing the Yard; thirty years as a prison volunteer. This is more of my Richard Shelton project--he's been teaching poetry workshops in various Arizona prisons since 1971 or so.
I thought the book was very good and gave an overview of the increase in the prison populations, as well as all the problems of housing so many prisoners. It is a very hard thing to think about--obvious how many problems there are with what we are doing and how things are getting worse all the time. With no realistic or probable solutions in sight, it seems to me.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The pack goat doesn't like to wait outside the store
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Friday, October 12, 2007
At the feeder today. the swamp sparrow and a junco. The junco here are not helmeted like the ones in California, which my sister named "henchmen". I was happy to have new birds this late in the season.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Every day I think of more things I want to read. I just ordered an old novel of Conrad Richter's that Richard Shelton mentioned in Going Back to Bisbee. I just read that poet Alice Notley (who just got the Leonore Marshall prize for the best poetry book of the year) was born in Bisbee.
I always feel that I have the "Arizona connection" because my parents grew up there and I went to college there my freshman year. I don't suppose that poring over University of Arizona yearbooks to look at the photos of my Dad, captain of the polo team, and my Mom, Theta cutie, really qualifies me as an authentic Westerner. Nor the fact that I practically wore out all the Arizona Highways (bright color photos!) that my grandmother gifted us with a subscription for every Christmas. But it must make me at least an honorary Westerner.
I think the project here is to try to feel my way back into some sort of mythic American past. It involves fiction, of course, and non-fiction like the book about the Southern Highlanders (also mentioned by Richard Shelton) that I have just begun. And the larger project is thinking about the world and the way it works (or lately, doesn't seem to work at all.) And the Richard Shelton is a gift from Scott R. who had two copies. So these tangents, like so much of this summer's are accidental.
Today I read my teacher, Robert Hass's new book of poems, Time and Materials. He's involved in a similar project, but one more suffused with sex. Every bit as discouraged though.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I found an amazing blog today that makes me embarrassed to be doing this one. The author is a poet and reviews operas, books and other things from Washinton, D.C. Another blog is a cooperative effort by several people and the things they put up are really substantial and interesting. When I learn how to make links, I want to link to blogs like these. Good night!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
the vulture tips
this way, that way
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
It looks like Molly, the white mule, is dying. The vet will come on Tuesday, if she lasts that long. It's quite sad. She was pretty old when she came to live at my daughter's place. But we don't really think our pets, or our friends, will really die. Or ourselves, although that is about as clear as anything can be.
I have fallen in love with blank notebooks all over again. The ones I like are hand-stitched, lie flat when opened and have lovely creamy paper. And gorgeous cover designs. Once you can force yourself to write the first few words on their limitless clean possibilites, and maybe have glued in a feather, or something weird from the newspaper--like the list of the Michigan businesses that will now be taxed as part of the new budget compromise: baby-shoe bronzing, phrenology, balloonograms, and many other minor enterprises you never thought of as enterprising, but as bids for certain failure of an interesting kind--you can move into different colored pens and/or WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Always travel with a glue stick in case something irrestible turns up in the gutter. Best not to think of which rubbish heap these filled pages might end up in when you are no longer here to protect them. Once, I bought a notebook from the 1920's in a used bookshop; I still treasure it. In it a man who made his living going around to collect insurance premiums had recorded his Chicago days. Just the facts: what he had for lunch and its cost, how much time he got to spend in the library reading after he had made his rounds, whether it was a day for a cigar, and how much that cigar cost. If he found a nickel, dime or penny, he recorded that as Found Money. I know who he was because of a penny postcard addressed to him that was in the book. I wish I could show it to his grandchild, if he had one.
I found a friend's old poetry blog last night; It was too much to read on the screen, so I printed it out and read all 41 pages of it. She's no longer posting, but it made me remember that I have always planned to put more poems here. I have been somewhat restrained because there is so much fussing about copyrights now and my own poems always need improvement, or maybe I can get them published . . .(not unless I send some out)!
But here are some recent finds that reminded me of old favorites and altogether made me very happy. although I cannot say that they are happy poems.
We returned in the evening to where we’d been cutting
reaching the bay in a small boat.
With the seaweed lifting, softening
in the incoming tide, we began to gather it.
The salt water was lukewarm. We hauled
a whole bundle of seaweed together,
tying it tight with our rope. It wasn’t big,
but thick and dense, enough to grow our potatoes in.
We set off with the bale fastened to a thwart;
—it stayed put, didn’t catch or tear.
By the time we reached home it was cold,
like a red wound healing in the west,
and a pale moon floating gently up,
petticoats of cloud at her feet.
That was another night, once, in a different year.
The tide was full then, and at peace.
Ian MacDonald, translated from the Gaelic by Kathleen Jamie
Which reminded me of one of my absolute all-time favorites,
you can see why.
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.
And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.
That was long ago.Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.
O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
Czeslaw Milosz in the English translation from Bells in Winter
And here is the one by Jamie that a reader put on Amazon
that helped me decide to order her book.)
It wasn't sand martins
hunting insects in the updraught,
or the sudden scent of bog myrtle
that made me pause, lean
across the parapet,
but a handful of purple baubles
reflected below the water's surface
as comfortable and motionless
as a family in their living room
watching TV. What was it,
I'd have asked, to exist
so bright and fateless
while time coursed
through our every atom
over its bed of stones - ?
But darkness was weighing
the flowers and birds' backs,
and already my friends had moved on.
Good night. Poetry must be good for something if it can make me feel like these poems do.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Yesterday I read Lucia Perillo's I've Heard the Vultures Singing; field notes on poetry, illness and nature. It's a book of personal essays that is just about perfect. I say this not because she is such a good poet and we used to be in a poetry seminar together many years ago, but because it is a blend of rancor, truthfulness, wonder, silliness, intelligence, birds, culture and American life that strikes me as just about as good as such a book could possibly be. Do yourself a favor--it's not very expensive and it's a slender book and thus not a major time commitment.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Tonight, here at the Tip of the MItt, we had one of the best thunderstorms of my entire life! If too short. Lightning flashed on three sides of the house at once, There were tremendous thundercracks and that rumbling sound like very heavy furniture was being dragged across the floor of heaven. That wonderful, electrified freshness to the air, followed by a teensy, insignificant bit of rain. A couple of the dogs hid in a kennel. All during the storm and afterwards, the Bruckner Symphony #8 was playing. It's a fine thunderstorm symphony!
My daughter's mule has stopped eating again. She is very sad. Grandson is off again this weekend for an annual party at a friend's house. He went a day early so he and his brother could go back to the Toledo Zoo, which they enjoyed so much a couple of years ago.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
My daughter's sick mule ate a little tonight, after having her teeth filed down. I had never heard of this, but I hope the mule will live a little longer now; K is very attached to her. It seems like this might be a mild winter, which would help, I will have to check the Old Farmer's Almanac. I had forgotten about that, but saw some on a display rack at a feed store the other day.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
the moon rises
I'm not waiting for anything
of the house I was born in
it's good to be alone--
the wild grasses
These haiku are quiet and often sad, I reccomend them.
Santoka lived from 1882-1940. Times were very different then, but human life had many of the same qualities, dilemmas and problems.
And for some reason, this picture I took a few days ago reminded me of this fragment of verse that is hundreds of years old.
Up and down the meadow where the sheep graze echo,
fadingly as afterthoughts, the cries of quail.
SATYRUS, 2nd century C.E.
in the translation by Brooks Haxton
May the meadows where you live be evergreen or snow-covered, or filled with wildflowers or lashed with rain, each in their season. And always, alive with birds.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Another leaf; this time of year I bring quite a few home to add to my leaf phone book where they dry flat. But i left this beauty curling there on the path and making such a beautiful shadow.
Grandson TJ just back from a Saturday spent at amusement park at Cedar Point. He described each ride in detail--how many feet high it was and how the drop was constructed. How long (two hours!) they had to wait in line for the best rides. I haven't seen him this happy and excited all summer. I guess I'll have to revise my attitude about amusement parks (I haven't been amused . . .) where I have never wished to stand in line.
My sister told me many years ago, "You were BORN old!" Still makes me grin when I think about it, and it is probably true. I wasn't a very good sister to her, being too interested in reading to pay her any attention. But I do have small amounts of empathy and it was truly lovely to see TJ so excited and happy. Welcome to October.