Sunday, December 30, 2007


PICT2155 crpshrp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Another swell use for digital cameras!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Across Round Lake

Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Here's a picture for talking about color! It does have abstract qualities, but mostly it is a recognizable lake landscape. And depends for its impact upon autumn color.

Below is some of what Rebecca Purdom says about abstraction. It makes the most sense to me about the meaning of abstraction of anything I have ever read. Mostly people want pictures to be recognizable and if you try to explain to them about an arrangement of squares that you find very moving, they giggle. So this pleased me very much.

"We’re so good at judging, it comes so naturally, that it’s easy to see why looking at abstraction, which offers absolutely no clues whatsoever as to what to do next, can be such a challenge. But that challenge is, in fact, abstract paintings greatest gift. The kind of seeing it promotes is something we can all do; we just don’t get the opportunity to do it very often.
I’ll bet that every one of you has had the experience sometime in your life of looking at something so marvelous that, for just an instant, you’d forgotten yourself enough to not act. Fot just that instant you were not in charge; the experience itself somehow was. The pursuit of that kind of experience is what I think turns painters into abstract painters, and the awareness of it turns all of us into better audiences for abstraction in particular and for art in general."

Rebecca Purdum in the newest New England Review:Vol 28, no 4, 2007. p175-6

An Infrared forest

Infrared forest
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I am loving this SO much that I feel like getting another camera with more megapixels! Photography that can see infrared light changes the relation of colors to each other in a spectacularly interesting way. Today the New England Review (Vol. 28, No. 4) came and in it Rebecca Purdom, who painted the abstract painting on the cover, has an essay about her work. This quote is from page 176.
"For about a year I couldn’t use yellow. It seemed as if the smallest amount would take over and smother whatever I was working on. I knew I couldn’t go on avoiding it so I decided to paint with nothing but yellow. There were about four or five of those paintings. I called out what turned out to be the last one Pins and Needles, because even though it was all yellow, it wasn’t anymore. It was paint.

I think the experience of color is like being at the seashore, spending all your time watching the waves crash on the rocks. The feelings colors produce in us are like those pounding waves, never at reat, always crashing around. At some point, however, you look up from all that turmoil and you sense the depth of the ocean itself, and see the endless horizon marking the infinite sky above. That vast uneasy calm is the unchanging yet unspecific emotion that paint produces. Feelings change, colors change, but the emotion, the paint, is constant."
A new year is coming; the holidays are over. It is time to think about art!

She's a photographer, too

PICT2142 crp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I'm teaching my grandchild. This camera is a little too big for her to hold, but harder to drop. The neckstrap has prevented damage so far. Autofocus a must. . .
I missed posting the last two days, on the first one, the satellite ISP failed and on the second electricity. Both were gone only a short time, but it was blog time. Rats!
We drove back on a highway we hadn't used before: through valley rice fields. We saw lots of white geese, egrest, hawks and blackbirds and quite a few ducks. It was lightly raining and the hawks were mostly hunched in roadside trees. Also a kingfisher on a wire. Yes!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas feast of love

This is my husband feeding our granddaughter a bite of a Christmas pie that he made. It's been a lovely day even without snow. Now both babies are sleeping and we are about to go to bed. We finished off the day with some of the cioppino that we made yesterday. Actually, I am not part of that "we" and had nothing to do with it. Merry, merry, merry . . .

Monday, December 24, 2007

Baby sunshine

Baby sunshine
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This little angel is about to have her third Christmas. This is a picture from a long time ago. Her little sister is almost this old now. All the stuff is under the tree, and I have to go to bed because they will get up early. Both sets of grandparents are assembled for this fine celebration. We had way too much food for our Christmas Eve dinner. But to me the highlight of the day was my granddaughter's little hands working with some left over pie crust dough and a rolling pin. I hope I got a good picture; haven't had a chance to check.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today a long drive over the Yolo Causeway, through Marysville and Oroville part the peach orchards and through the Feather River Canyon. It was a great day for hawks, especially in the valley. I saw redtail, red-shouldered, peregrine perched (I think) and harrier. The air was crisp and coldish, The drive through the Canyon, was especially beautiful. Feather River is low; many of the deciduous leaves have fallen, making the leaves and branches of manzanita and madrone stand out among the pines.
The toyon berries were a nice as I have seen them--on large bushes and in great abundance at the lower elevations. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am reading Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, for sure!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Time was when I used to make these postcard landscapes after work. Sometimes, on the weekend, I went outdoors to make them. I love the Pacific Ocean in the northern part of the state. When spring comes, I hopt to be outdoors again, painting. Trying to decide about a watercolor class that travels, too. But, while very reasonable, it is expensive. It is hard to feel deserving of these pleasures when the world is in such a sorry shape. The oldest daughter of friends is studying dental hygiene and about to go on a missionary trip to South America to bring dental care to a village. Sounds like a neat thing to do.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Douglas Iris

Douglas Iris crp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Still yearning for spring, I see . . . This is my only native plant to survive the vicissitudes of our garden. I had a lovely wild fuchsia, much beloved of hummingbirds for its small, tasty, red blossoms. But alas, it proved as delicate as it looked. And my Ceanothus Carmel Creeper thrived for years before being watered to death by an automatic sprinkler when we were out of town.
The Chinese pistache trees along the street have produced a splendid crop of red berries this year. Now that the leaves are gone, they show up beautifully. I have been watching for something great--like a flock of cedar waxwings, or the mixed feeding flocks I see every year in November and December; they are one of the delights of living in this climate. But so far, nothing. Often they come after rain, and there hasn't been much this year. We are al worried about the weather, and wonder about the Sierra snow pack and our water needs.

red pistache berries--
finch, woodpecker, yellow-rump
feeding together

I have also seen in these flocks: flickers, robins, sapsuckers, and warblers too swift to identify. I love to show birds to my grandchildren.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


At the Shore
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Lately in this blog, too much memory and not quite enough poetry.
So here is one for this season.

Human, Avian, Vegetable, Blood

Today, three days before Christmas
I had planned to cut some berries
From the toyon bush in the yard.
For three years it has not done well.
This is the first year it produced
A decent crop. But this morning
A flock of thirty migrating
Robins appeared. And before noon
Every berry had been eaten.
This year we will buy our foliage
As usual. And the symbols
Of incarnate flesh we tended
All year will be flying, mingled
With pale hot bird blood, high over
The barren Mexican mountains.

by Kenneth Rexroth

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apple Blossoms

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
And spring is still far away. Yesterday I went looking for white blossoms to go with a song. Those were plum; these are apple. In the same spring, I took them in the back yard with my first digital camera, which took the best closeups, better than the more expensive cameras I got later, but low in megapixels. This camera ate batteries, but I loved it anyway.

We are often away now when the fruit comes on. As for fruit preservation, we got a little discouraged and few years back. We had frozen a lot of plums and cut up apples, in just the right amount for the pies S likes to bake. The garage cat knocked the freezer plug out of the socket and the resultant thawed and rotten mess was useless, smelly and hard to dispose of.
But each spring, even an old apple tree, uncared for, the kind that grows by the roadside and produces only wormy nubbins for fruit, gives us these gorgeous blossoms tinged with pink.

White as Blossoms on the Bough

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Woke up last night with part of a song in my head. I ran it through my memory awhile until I had a complete verse. After a short time I had The Student Prince and Sigmund Romberg and finally the title, Serenade. Serenade from the Student Prince, it said across the top of the page. The words are on the Web, and I have used the similar end of the third verse in my reconstruction, but it is amazing how rhyme, music and meter enable you to remember something you learned so long ago.

Overhead the moon is beam-ing
White as blossoms on the bough.
Noth-ing is heard but the song of a bird
Filling all the air with dreaming
Would my heart but still its beating
Only you can tell it how. Be-love-ed.
From your window give me gree-ting
I swear my eternal vow

Then I thought about my singing lessons. And it was just as my brother Robert had said, you seize the end of a piece of memory string and pull and more and more string pulls out; you wind up with a pile of string. That memory thread is part of the title of this blog. The name of my music teacher was Mrs. Newkirk, after a while I seemed to remember that her first name must have been Louise. Somewhere we used to have a newspaper clipping about her and her European music education, pupil of a pupil of a pupil of Liszt?

Mrs. Newkirk was a tiny buxom woman, who wore a great strand of knotted pearls, and the under part of whose upper arms hung down and wobbled frantically as she played. These flaccid arms were fascinating and horrible to me then; now I have similar ones.
She charged $1 per lesson. Many of us took piano lessons from her, but I took singing lessons. I remember going in to Schenectady from the Farm for the lessons, but I also have a very vivid memory of my mother taking lessons along with us when she was hugely pregnant with Marjory in 1949, the year before we moved to The Farm, and playing in a children’s recital in a dark blue dress with tiny white polka dots. The soft drape of the material, I think it was rayon, followed the pregnancy lump with too great an accuracy for my Junior High mind.

Many of the songs I learned were in a book called Art Songs, with a cover of pale yellow paper. I liked them, the predictable chords, the emphasized and romantic words; it never bothered me that they weren’t “popular” at the time. Then I remembered other songs I sang. There was nothing modern about my repertoire, which she must have settled on just after the Great War. I learned: Who is Sylvia, Florian’s Song (if there’s a shepherd in your valley, . .) and many others which I remembered last night and have lost again, although I think I still have the book in a box of music. I thought about getting up in the middle of the night to blog, but everything was so vivid, with more and more detail, that I just kept on thinking. When I married, Mrs. Newkirk sent three silver serving pieces with a very pretty sort of Art Nouveau swirl and a flower on the handles, There was a large silver spoon, a fork and a gravy ladle. I still have them in my silver chest. Perhaps I still have too many things, but tomorrow morning I am going to sing an art song in the shower.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fallen Gingko Leaves

IMG_7088 sat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
For the rest of the winter we will have to look for the beauty in the bare branches and twigs. I love the History Park. I suppose one reason I like it is that it is never crowded and so I can wander about and think about the America from before I was born. I often think about the lives of my parents and how they both made their way to college from non-college families. There's a very interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell (author of many interesting articles!) about assumptions about IQ tests and levels. It's in the New Yorker, home of many interesting articles. although S thinks they are too long. Sometimes they approach too-lengthiness, but usually, to me, they just tell me stuff I didn't know I wanted to know in swell language.

A large yellow mulberry leaf just fell outside the kitchen window. In the darkness, it caught light as it passed through the light from the kitchen window; then it disappeared. A sort of leaf-meteor. Snug indoors, I am reminded of all that is outdoors. The last of the Mexicola avocadoes are falling from very high up on the tree. The one I picked up today was so deliciously ripe, that the bottom had flattened some upon impact. I can't believe how wintery it feels, when only a few moments ago it felt like Indian Summer.

Kiyoko considering what she has written

And this is Kiyoko, whose husband is in yesterday's post. She died on Christmas Day a few years ago, but I still think about her almost every day. Even as her memory failed her, she still liked to write haiku, as she is doing here. The things I have learned, the things to study, the two trips I have been able to make to Japan, have all come about because of this woman, who established the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society with her husband, after he said, "I think English-speaking people would like to learn to write haiku, too." She had encouraged him to write after he lost his hearing. The story of their lives is worthy of a first-rate novel. I hope to tell you more later.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kiyoshi smiles

Kiyoshi smiles
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is Kiyoshi Tokutomi,who founded my haiku society in 1975. He died in the 1980's. On the first anniversary of his death his wife, Kiyoko, planned a memorial service. Because he loved music and children, she arranged for many musical children to perform a recital in his memory.
Today, on XM Radio (I love XM Radio, but that's another post!) they played a Schubert Impromptu, the one that begins suddenly going down in pitch, like a waterfall. On the day of the memorial recital, the tiniest child, a girl of perhapa six years of age, with a waterfall of straight black hair held back from her face by a clip, marched up to the piano and attacked the waterfall of notes with a crisp professional competence. All the children played very competently, but she was spectacular, and so tiny. I have never forgotten that time, and that music, and I am always pleased to encounter that Schubert again. We named our annual haiku contest after Kiyoshi.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Twilight from the Studios

Just as I left the artists' reception on December 3, the sun was going down, and flooding the sky with pastel colors. A gull went past, then a small plane. Neither one made it into the photo.
Whys do people make art? As with the making of poetry there seem to be a lot of makers and not enough takers. Yet the urge to try to pin something to the page, the paper or the canvas is a strong one. Very little of these making will survive, yet we choose archival materials and frame things under expensive glass.
Today a huge new Dick Blick catalog came in the mail. Such gorgeous, plummy smooth colors. Yesterday I read about a new kind of archival colored leads with a special holder. I looked them up on the internet and they cost $150 for a set of 18 colors. They had better be pretty special.
Only a few more shopping days until Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I tried out Polaroid manipulation just before they stopped making the film. I understand why Polaroid film really isn't needed any more, neither are buggy whips, but it makes me sad, because artists had figured out so many interesting things to do with it. These excellent cherries were eaten quite some time ago, on a day I went cherry-picking with my grandsons in Northern Michigan where they grow so many cherries. See how they reflect the beautiful light from their dark smooth skins. This project is brought to you tonight because I wanted to escape from the present day for a short time.
Today, the man who knows how to do everything finished up the bathroom, but found a couple more small things to fix and will come back on Monday. His surgery is a week from today and is very worrisome. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Red Bow

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Just a few more presents, but the cards aren't done yet. Every year I wonder why we are doing this.
Tonight we watched a documentary about Tony Kushner. While I wasn't thinking about him, Maurice Sendak has become almost as old as I am. When I first worked in a library, my boss, Joyce J, was so proud because she had voted FOR Where the Wild Things Are and ordered copies for the Arlington Branch Library (AB, are you still there? in your corner location?) when the head of children's services thought it was stupid and too scary. Then it won the Caldicott that year. Maurice was just a young fellow then, in the early 60's.
After that, there was a riot near the library and I saw mounted police pushing a small crowd back. The horses were those beautiful big chestnuts that police use. Huge. And the people moved back obediently. See how memory works?? And what use are these reminiscences? Good night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Markham House

DSCN0132 up
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
The San Jose Poetry Center is making a library upstairs in this historic house in the History Park. It was once the home of Edwin Markham, author of the famous poem :The Man With the Hoe" The library has two rooms, one of which is a small haiku library. Most of the books are now listed on NaomiClarkLibrary on Take a look! We hope to begin by keeping the library open one day a week and expand from there. The books will not check out, but there are pleasant spaces for reading and there is a copy machine. It's a darling little house, dating from about 1860.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Printing Office

Printing Office
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Just visible in the upper left corner, the replica of the light tower that was put up in San Jose near the Corner where the first branch of Giannini's Bank of America was located. It was supposed to shed light all over downtown, but it wasn't that successful. But I still think of it as San Jose's own teeny-tiny Eiffel Tower, and it makes me smile. I love this Printshop, but am very glad to live in the time of computers and color copy machines. It makes saving information in huge quantities so much more do-able.
Bathroom work almost done:

midwinter rains
the workman kills the shower mold
before regrouting

Sleep tight, Santa comes soon. . .

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Gas Station in History

The Gas Station in History
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I wish I had the guts to use this for my Christmas card. I think it has that festive holiday touch! No snow, but this is California, after all. This station is in a History Park, so as long as it doesn't fall down, it remains, when most of the people who used to say HOWDY around the pump are gone. When people die, the Ottawa in Northern Michigan say they have walked on. There are a lot of other euphemisms: passed away, gone to Heaven, called back to Heavenly Father, etc. Once in awhile, the newspaper would say died, or died peacefully, (whatever that means) but not often. Merry C!

Jim near Kobo Daishi, Japan

Jim near Kobo Daishi, Japan
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Looking for another picture, I found this one of Jim, who died last month in a motorcycle accident. Tonight we had our annual haiku holiday get-together. We all have little haiku cards or presents to pass out. It has become quite a tradition. Jim's wife came and it was lovely (and terribly sad) to see her. This was the first year Jim was not there to read one of his end-of-the-year haibun. (Haibun are short pieces of prose interspersed with haiku.) One of our poets, Paul, passed out a booklet of his haibun. Everyone read from his or her gift. Paul's haibun was about a pet pig of his acquaintance; it was a delightful story. We always have this potluck dinner and wish each other well as the party season begins. We try to hold the festive occasion on the regular Yuki Teikei meeting day: the second Saturday of each month. I'll try to describe these meetings as we go through the seasons next year; we have a regular sequence of haiku events that go with the seasons.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I see now that I didn't post very many of my pictures from Japan in April of this year. Soon afterwards we began out hejira to Michigan and then I fell off the turnip truck and into the Michigan end-of-spring. Tonight I am working on a haiku holiday gift and revisited my Japan photos. In photography, there is the snapping of the shutter, then there is the archiving, cropping, improving, and most of all, selecting. I found quite a few pictures I had forgotten all about, like this one. I think it has wabi-sabi. Anyway I like the light cluster of blossom set off by gloom, the diagonals and all the tangle. This coming week I will make our Christmas cards. I wish I could use Cherry Blossom images, but the season is sort of off.
I heard from a descendent of my great-grandfather Lemuel Hardison Redd today. (These people are not rare, because he had plural wives, in the 19th Century plural-wife times.) She had seen a picture of him I put up on Flickr. But when I answered her email, her provider bounced back my message. Kathy Graf, where are you???

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A White Rose

DSCN0095 lvl
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It is difficult to get these with the right balance of no-color color, if you get my drift.There seems to be much more leeway with regular color photos. This white rose is near a brick path in the History Park. I think I will go back and take some more--I want to succeed at these because I really love them--I loved them the first time I saw any.
All around me people are getting terrible news about their cancers. Tonight I feel very lucky.
Luck is a white rose hanging over a brick path. Good night.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More Infrared

DSCN0015 lvldesat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
With the pink cast removed. A magical faeryland at the edge of the park where they stack stuff. With a christmas wreath. Santa's comin" fast!

An infrared garden

An infrared garden
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Wanted to try infrared-type photography. This is from the first attempts with a converted Nikon 995 that I got on eBay. I quite like the results, although there is a pinkish color cast that I may wind up taking off. Spent today with friends setting up the poetry center library at the Markham House. There are some lovely books there; it brought back many memories of poetry readings. It was more fun than I had anticipated.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cat Monotype

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is the monotype I got Saturday. It is very small and full of the most beautiful subtle textures. Plus the artist, Susanne Smith, is a dear friend. I just love this and am so glad I saw it.
Tonight I put together a swivel chair that we bought at Office Max. It had the base, four leather upholstered parts, a handful of screws, a central iron piece and a lift mechanism. All the screws had to be tightened with an Allen wrench that came with it. I hope it will be a good chair for Scott to sit in since he hurt his back and he is having trouble finding comfortable positions. We'll probably get a glass table to put the laptop on, too. Now we BOTH sit about in the evening and fiddle with laptops, looking up stuff on Wikipedia. It is great fun, and uses up all sorts of time that one might be doing something productive. . .

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Art reception upstairs

Art reception upstairs
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
One of those light industrial spaces that has been converted to artist's studios. This is a holiday artist reception where a lot of your friends come to look at beautiful things they cannot afford. (Although I may go back for the columnar woman with a tree inside her gown. (Perhaps you had to be there. I had a lovely time here and wandered from studio to studio. I bought a very small monotype of a cat. I'm getting just a little more excited about the holidays.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Auntie Lillian and Gran Marjory as girls

Auntie and Gran as girls
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is an example of some of the things I was thinking about yesterday. I scanned this very poor quality photocopy of my father's mother and her sister as girls in a group photo. I think it shows a group at the tail end of the 19th century. I don't have any other photos of her until she was a young woman. I take after that side of the family and look quite a bit like her, as did my father. Squarish face.
So even this low defintion item is very interesting to me. I scanned it on a visit to my mother's place. I like having these things on Flickr, so I can access them anywhere,

Here is an excellent poem by Thomas Hardy which first appeared in print at the tail end of the nineteenth century. It seems like a long time ago to my single life.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy