Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dance on Christmas Eve

Dance on Christmas Eve
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
And now it is New Year's Eve, time for making resolutions. Another fresh start, which--since I fell off this blog three weeks ago--I am in sore need of. We had a great time with the girl grandchildren on a visit to their place for several days. Now we are back and unpacked and I have brought order from disorder, in the main rooms at least.
I got stuck when trying to decide whether to finish the story of Miss Bianca, tell about the Bike Build of Turning Wheels for Kids that I went to on December 13th, or tell you about a recently found Robert Bly poem, or a list of poetic qualities by Marvin Bell I discovered in an outdated book I was throwing out--and ripped therefrom. If you can stick it out, I will return to all of these, but it will have to be in 2009.
In November of 1999 I retired, and the most of the resolutions made at that time are still far from complete. But I have been having a lot of fun, and this blog has been a big part of it. Apologies for the long absence, and HAPPY NEW YEAR. I'll be back, and plan to make this the first year with more than 300 posts. It should be a good year for both Photography and Poetry!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Miss Bianca's most elegant white whiskers

For many years we all lived happily together. S called them in in the evening and fed them, and they slept in the garage. Another untouchable feral kit, half Siamese by the look of her, came to their cat buffet and joined the family. I began to call this one Friskers, I don't know why, except it's some sort of amalgam of frisky and whiskers. Don't you think it is sort of a unisex name? We had to trap her, too, for the spaying.
One night, S. went out to the garage and four kits were feeding from one large shallow dish. He looked more carefully and one was a skunk! S. tiptoed back into the house, and I peeked out to verify. The shape and the white stripe were unmistakable! We were advised that leaving a light on in the garage all night would discourage the skunk. We never smelled him and never saw him again.
We hired neighbor kids to feed the cats when we were away. And one time when we came back Buster had disappeared. There was a nasty rumor that the dog on a rope at the corner house had killed him and other unwary felines. There will be two or three more installments of this gripping saga before we are through. And I have found some great new poems, too. But it is an odd time of year to be blogging; everyone is so busy and both reading and writing of blogs may suffer. Good night.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Miss Bianca: her story continued

MIss B-1 very sharp
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
After she came to live with us, we were worried because our younger son had cat-aggravated asthma. There was no question of bringing her in the house, although she must have formerly been a house cat because she tried to come in with us. The black kitties were wild and uncatchable, especially one of them. We caught the other, and our son's girlfriend took it home with her. Some time later, her brother accidently ran over it in their driveway. And that part of the saga ends there.
I began calling the other black kitty "Buster." I think I did this, because I feared we could never catch it to be neutered and would thus unleash a mini-flood of kitties in our garage. We could pet Miss B, as we came to call her and she was eay to catch for her trip to be spayed. We continued to live in this fool's paradise until S went out for the morning paper and caught Buster in the act of love, and occupying the female position.
Then began the campaign: we borrowed a trap and began to feed Buster a small dish of canned cat food in it every day, with the door open. Then S sat nearby and very still. Then, S. had a string in his hand; after a couple of tries Buster was trapped. We carried the trap to the vet, and Buster's early pregnancy was interrupted. It took several people and probably some knockout drops, but they mananged it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

After the rain

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It rained today. I visited Donnalynn's garden. I need to ask her the name of this plant.

Portrait of Miss Bianca

Portrait of Miss Bianca (9)
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I came upon a small cache of photos last night while I was moving things around to try and set up a wireless printer.
The Story of Miss Bianca
One rainy day in the early 1980s, I looked out the window in the laundry door while I was taking clothes out of the dryer. What I saw was so striking that the image is still clear in my mind. (I have been thinking today that I will try to draw it.)
In the rain, only slightly sheltered by a small tree, a white cat sat upright, nursing two adolescent black cats with white markings. All of them were thin and elegant looking, reminding me of Egyptian statuary. The pose was very unusual to me, I had always seen cats nursing lying down. This would have been very uncomfortable in the rain, and these "kittens" were tall enough tp nurse standing up. They really looked too old to nurse.
I called my husband to come and see. He immediately went out with a bowl of milk and invited them into the garage. And thus she came to live with us. (to be continued.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The pink tutu

Originally uploaded by jhhymas

I'm going to be doing a lot of playing with this series of photos. I know what I want, but haven't gotten it yet. I want an effect with less detail and more like an oil painting. Stay tuned.

Instead of picture play, I spent the whole evening trying to set up a wireless printer. I failed so far, but understand a lot more than I did when I started, hopefully. Wireless network printing is trickier than I expected because of network and firewall protection, but I think I neutralized that. I joined the network several times with the included software, and with the printer keypad. The printer is an HP all-in-one Officejet J4680, in case my fairy godmother computer-tech reads this and wants to give me a hint. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just the two of us, a memory thread

Come full circle
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Soon after we were married, S was drafted. For our first Thanksgiving, he came to my parent's home at the end of his basic training. Already thin when they got him, he was down to 165 pounds for his 6 feet 5 inches. His thick dark hair was shorn and the army had taken away his horn-rims and given him round glasses frames made of pink plastic. He was wearing his uniform when he got off the train. I didn't recognize him--my mother saw him first. My pregnancy had begun to show and I was wearing one of those smocks like we wore then. I couldn't kiss him at the station; he seemed like a stranger.
My parents were remodeling an old house; it was open on one wall where the large fireplace would be. The hole was covered by a tarp--the only thing between us and the late autumn winds and rain. I don't remember what we ate, but I am sure it was turkey. . .
This year, 2008, since we had just visited all our children, we decided to have a simple Turkey Day. But I couldn't take the thought of going out to eat; it seemed too goofy, and a little sad.
So here it is--we don't remember ever having a just-the-two-of-us Thanksgiving before.
Do you think your kitchenware holds memories? Of your life and of the world of the past? I do. Here we have:
1) The classic pyrex casserole ( containing peas) with the lid you can use for a pie plate. We've have this nearly forever.
2) Heavy blue glasses I got on sale because the color reminded me of my mother's Mexican blue glass. Unlike the Mexican blue, they seem to be nearly indestructable.
3) Wine glasses we bought last year from a Bed, Bath and Beyond remainder rack when we were shopping for Christmas gifts.
4) Our wedding silverplate, Flair, which S picked out. (It was a gift from his parents.) I didn't care for it much. The pattern seemed to me aggressively modern. I've gotten used to its gentle curves by now.
5) Pottery dinner plates we got from a local potter in the late seventies. Thay are very beautiful, with subtle poured glazes you cannot see here.
6) Cute little brown thrift-store pitchers with gravy in them. Getting them out, I found another one was cracked and threw it away. Each one is sitting on a saucer of the Mikasa French something-or-other creamy white dishes, which we impulse-bought in the Mikasa outlet store when we were shopping for Christmas gifts. We had seen them at Mary Hill's and liked them. We already had plenty of dishes. We use them for everyday and for company, too. They are very pretty and go with everything. Mary Hill (she was in my haiku group) died this year, and they always remind me of her in a comfortable way.
7) Japanese dishes with blue fish on them. I got these because I like them, and because I used to shop at a Japanese hardware store with Lani and Ed after having bento box lunches together following Library Branch Heads meeting. (Now they call it the Management Meeting, and I am sure it couldn't be as much fun as when we were part of it.)
8) White baking dish (French?) from S's fancy-cooking period. He likes these and we have them in different sizes. They are classier than much of our stuff, and more recently acquired.
9) The bottom half of a ceramic butter dish made by a friend of my daughter's when she was making her living at art fairs in the 1980s. It has a cover, so you can store your butter at room temperature and merrily butter your toast, if you are still allowed to eat butter, or toast. . .
10) Ceramic platter that neither one of us can remember where it came from. The turkey breast and wings were roasted separately from the legs and back, which we roasted yesterday with vegetables to make gravy stock. Now we have enough gravy to have a Gravy Party, if we had ever heard of such a thing.
11) Crystal dish with mashed potatoes in it. I often cannot resist these gorgeous dishes when they wind up at Ross or Tuesday Mornings. So much (un-needed, closet-hogging) shining, twinkling beauty for such small prices!
12) Small swirled crystal dish (see above) with canned whole-berry cranberry sauce.
13) Pepper mill, the pretty-good replacement for the late lamented one that our son got us years ago in a (now-defunct) cutlery store, which gave up the ghost and couldn't be replaced, This is the third try.
14) In a towel (unknown recent provenance) under the tiny rolls(which didn't rise enough because I killed their yeast trying to hurry them up) is the oldest thing, a silverplated dish that is worn through to the brass in a space about the size of a fifty-cent piece. (When was the last time I saw one of those?) I have tried to let go of it, but I like the shape. It was a wedding gift.
15) The tablecloth is from the 70s when I used to make them from upholstery remnants. The table we had then was smaller. I bought the brown napkins then because they don't have to be ironed (true) and all the remnants had brown in them. This is sort of a bark cloth.
See how much history can be found in one holiday table setting??
It is my misfortune that people who like "things" and take care of them and wind up with too many of them are now called "hoarders" and are featured on TV shows where they get "help."
Naturally, I think of myself as a careful person who is interested in the conservation of material. I am sure things are not the memory link for everyone that they are for me. This has been one woman's Thanksgiving memory thread. What is yours?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I know you love me

I know you love me
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Have you noticed how you take the best pictures of people you love, if they know you love them? And how the best pictures of you might be taken by someone who loves you? This has been my experience; has it been yours? This is my treasured granddaughter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joann gave me the Butterfly Award and now I have to think hard!

I'm supposed to pass it on! There are literally hundreds of good blogs I have seen. I have bookmarked only 172 of them, and often forget to do so. Here are some of my favorites, leaving out those already just mentioned by Joann. Because I joined the Yahoo Group Everyday Matters recently, this list might seem heavy on blogs with a sketching component, because that is what I have been looking at most lately. Most of these blogs also have a list of links for the blogs they like. Following these links can take you into a wonderland of wasted afternoons and give you limitless ideas for your own drawing, photography and writing.
This is a blog with infrequent postings of absolutely gorgeous single photos taken in the photographer's home area. That's all there is, and you can keep up it with less time, and more satisfaction, than any other blog I know. You will not believe the quality of these photos. Be sure to visit older posts far enough back to see Winnie on the Patio. You will recognize her, she is sitting on a flowered settee.
This artist's sensibility is totally unique, minimal, deeply felt and surrounded by space. It is unlike any other art I know and completely unlike anything I have ever paid any attention to. I discovered her first on Flickr, and was thrilled to find she also had a blog! I cannot explain why her handmade spoon series is so moving to me or why her work with a tangerine skin is some of the most emotional, yet withdrawn, art I know.
I have chosen to highlight here the section with daily drawings of her dog, Dottie. It's a beautiful series. Check other parts of her blog for essential tips for artists. All of her work is great!
This person is truly an artist! She has done a series of portraits from old photos that is compelling, as well as self-portraits. This link takes you to her instructions to fold your own sketchbook, which are very good. Click on the banner at the top of the blog to take you to her current postings.
Beth found my blog because of our shared love of the writings of Bernd Heinrich, whose writings on natural history are the best I know. I've been following her blog ever since, as she hikes up and down Maine, and lives a vital outdoor, family and professional life.
This Creativity Journal follows the work of an artist newly serious about making art more frequently. She works in many different media. It's an inspiration, that's for sure.
Her sketchbook pages are notable for the composition of the pages and the artistic use of hand lettering in the design.
Consistently interesting sketches and thoughts.
I like the name of this blog--why can I never think of these things?? This blog has a food as well as a sketch focus.
Vintage cameras, drawings, and a very artistic spirit.
The Appalachian Journal concerns nature study and identification from things she has seen in her area. Nice clear photos help you learn.

Oh, I know this is 12 instead of 10, and I have run out of strength to write lengthy annotations, but hey! Here is how to pass on the Butterfly Award, should you wish, to other deserving winners! I copied the instructions from Joann, with some additions.
click and copy it from above.
1. Put the logo on your blog, you can right-click and copy it from above.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate other blogs for this award (it said 10 but I don't think that quantity is as important as quality).
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs
6. Give a reason why you consider their blogs cool.

I cannot close without mentioning these meaningful communities: Flickr, where people can find all kinds of photos celebrating everything you ever thought was interesting and a lot of ideas you never had. I have stumbled on many things through Flickr that enrich my life daily. And made a ton of friends.
Librarything is for those who love books and want to list, discuss and discover books and meet others with similar interests or discover new ones.

I could basically spend all my free time on the WWW, as we used to call it. And never have to write or sketch another thing of my own for the rest of my life. Be careful, be very careful . . .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Ring (of the Nibelung)

The Ring
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I am in deep mourning for VOX, the vocal music station on XM Satellite Radio. After XM was bought by Sirius, they dropped VOX. My favorite host, Robert Aubry Davis, is on another station with vocal music from MIDNIGHT to dawn. I really miss his special mix of opera, religious, and early vocal music and especially miss his informed and witty opera commentary. Tonight I had to write an essay for our haiku periodical and was having a little trouble, but I was consoled when S turned on the music (the new channel is called the Metropolitan Opera Channel--that ain't bad) and it was Die Valkyrie. One of my favorites. Ah, Wagner, why did you have to be such a jerk??
I want to tell you about this broadcast, which was recorded on December 6, 1941. The announcer mentioned that it might suffer from issues involved with the sound recording technology of the time. But the date really knocked me out! The DAY before Pearl Harbor! It reminded me of the way I felt on Sept. 11, 2001. When my son called me early in the morning and told me to turn on the TV, I did. And watched the towers fall, and fall again, and the white particulate smoke billow down the canyons between skyscrapers. And the people running. I said to my son then: Nothing will ever be the same. And it hasn't been.
I imagined the people who saw that opera performance getting up on Dec 7th, and telling their kids over brunch what a great live performance they had seen. The legendary Erich Leinsdorf conducted; Lauritz Melchior and Helen Traubel were two stars in the superb cast. Later, the family all gathered around the radio and listened to news about Pearl Harbor--and the voice of FDR. And nothing was ever the same. We still call it THE war.
The major recorded sound issue I noticed on this recording was that the horns sounded bad. I missed the richness of the sound. If anyone knows why this should be when the rest of the instruments sounded better, please leave a comment and let me know.
I think that sometimes the tempo of the music was a little slower than I have heard in other recordings, which seemed right. But what I really want to record is how beautiful the sound of the voices was. When I was growing up, Helen Traubel was a very famous star. She made appearances in movies and got lots of coverage in Life Magazine. She was beginning to become somewhat of a familiar joke, with the molded breastplate, braids and that Teutonic helmet with wings on it. This recording made something very clear to me. There was a sweetness, an effortless, non-shrieky sound to Brunnhilde's music. It was quite different than others I have heard. They were good, but this was GORGEOUS. Melchior's Siegmund was transcendent, and also of a beautiful vocal quality, The Wotan of Friedrich Schorr was spectacular and also unstrained and melodic. Well, I can tell you, the whole thing made me very happy. Good night. It's pretty late, since it lasted until afte midnight; I stayed up for every note!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Autumn Gold Beside the Feather River

It's not really a river for swimming, but doesn't this make you want to? What could be more beautiful than those small repeated shapes of blue in the green? And the golden color in the autumn hush and watersound? Not to mention the sunlight falling all around.
Reports from our daughter in Michigan tell of snow on the ground all this week. Sparkling. Indoors is comfortable--and the wind doesn't stir the pages of your book--but nothing beats beautiful outdoor weather!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Mistress of relaxation, she takes a well-deserved sleep as she moves into the outer world. This was taken on her fourth day of life--last Friday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shadow of an Oak

Shadow of an Oak
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
As we drove through the Feather River Canyon on Friday, autumn's beauty was still aflame. At this rest stop, I wandered about with three cameras, looking at shadows. There were also rocks, oaks, oak leaves, cottonwoods, moss and lichen and the blue, blue sky. Once again I wished for painting talent, or at least the willingness to sit still and fling paint at the paper. But on a trip, others would have to stand around and wait. And photography is so CLICK, I'm addicted to the ease and speed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Smile

The Smile
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
The visit ended today and we made it back by tonight. It took us a long time to unload the truck. I definitely take too much stuff back and forth. Clothes and books and art supplies. Must learn to travel more stuff-free. And should be able soon to make some posts worthy of my readers. Good night.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dance Class

Dance Class
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Today with my granddaughter to the four year old dance class. It was delightful; the teacher was teaching many things besides dance and dance vocabulary. Following directions, paying attention, counting, working as a group, colors and other concepts.
All over America, small groups come together to teach young people about things they care about and wish to be passed on to the coming generations. This class is sponsored by a small non-profit organization. Others take other forms. It is inspirational.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Born Yesterday

Born Yesterday
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is my younger son with his youngest daughter, who is now my youngest grandchild. Grampy and I are staying here now for the next couple of days, and Wolfi and his pals are in a nearby kennel. The other girls here are two and four, and I am sort of specializing in their bedtimes. When I had litte children myself, it didn't seem that hard. Now it takes about all the energy I have; it is so constant and contunual. But they are the beauty of the future, and it is worth it.

Less than four hours old! And smiling . . .

This is what I've been waiting for. We are here and tending the two older sisters. This is my latest grandchild, my younger son's third daughter, We went to see her at the hospital a couple of hours after she was born. She came right on the due date and weighed 8 pounds.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Purple Mountain Majesty, sagebrush plain

Not much time to write, we are packing the car. America the Beautiful demonstrated itself to us all day yesterday, Some of the fromthecar photographs are quite pretty, if not insanely sharp. More to come.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

From the car

From the car
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Sometimes, I see such interesting and majestic things from the car as we travel across great and beautiful America, with its rocks. deserts, rivers and plains. I have always been proud to be an American and I think never more proud than tonight, when a nation with such a terribly complicated history in relation to descendents of people from Africa has decisively elected Barack Obama President of the United States.
It has taken me back to my first library job in downtown Cleveland, where children we were just learning to call "black" used to stand beside the reference desk and touch my long straight hair to see "what it felt like." And where, just after Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech, people came into the library weeping, tears pouring down each face. I knew then that America was changing, and had to change a great deal more. I didn't know that I would ever see this. I feel we are at the threshold of something truly magnificent. We know all the bad things, but now new possibilties open out before us, before us all. . .

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thoreson's Farm in Pure Color

Pure Color
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Quite a bit of rain. We got new windshield wipers today--splurged and bought some more expensive ones. It seems to me that wiper blades used to last just nearly forever. We did have a little sprinkle coming home and these wipers swept the glass dry..
We also visited a couple of thrift stores looking for dog crate bedding. (I found some nice books, too.) Good night . . .

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Autumn Wood

Autumn Woods
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
We made it to Idaho, but I am still missing the October woods we have just left behind in Michigan. Tonight I have been playing with photos on my laptop and this is the best result. I can't wait to try printing it on watercolor paper. But I am still days away from my printer.
I continue to treasure the intereactions with other bloggers, artists and Flickr members. There really are countless interesting things to do and inspiration in what others are doing.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

That Idaho Sky

That Idaho Sky
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
All day today through Idaho in gorgeous weather. This is part of my attempt to learn how to take landscapes from a moving car. Making lemonade, as it were. The clouds were world-class all day long, through a succession of mountain and plain and butte and Snake River landscapes. Too bad it wasn't Friday because then I could join the Skywatch Friday group. Later . . .

Friday, October 31, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Can't resist adding this to the post below. There are two of these at the replica station.

Highway rest stop masquerades as gasoline station

North Dakota has created here a little temple to the oil found near here and to the small refineries that made it into some of the American fuel that transformed our whole way of life. This replica thing tickled me. And the sun of the plains made for nice bright photos.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Badlands in October

The Badlands in October
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Just a brief stop at this view spot for Theodore Roosevelt National Park late this afternoon. The colors were less intense in this light and at this time of year. The small tree has some red berries, which I haven't identified yet. This is a lovely pastel palette. I am almost too tired to write, but love to log in from the motel. It's such a treat not be be cut off..

Monday, October 27, 2008

Actual hail, actually falling

Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Oh, I know it wasn't very much and it melted right away; but while it was falling it did cause a fine flurry of excitement. And it made a nice display on the road or the mulch, where it didn't fall in betweeen the grasses. If you look closely you can see the pale streaks (against the green) made by the hail as it fell. The subtle muted colors of this landscape would make a nice painting, I think.

I may not be able to post for a couple of days (on the road again) but I'll be back soon with news and views. Good night.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn through the kitchen window

It doesn't get much prettier than this! This was the 2005 autumn, which does not really seem that long ago. The yellow tree is one of the three sisters. Many of the maples and aspens were a little redder this year. Since I take so many pictures here, it is fun to follow the growth of individual trees and compare the colors of one autumn to another. This year the tamarack, or larch, are just beginning to turn in the last two days. Last year, they were all yellow at this time, so they are later. Which is a small bit of anecdotal evidence for global warming. My daughter moved here in 1986 and the winters aren't generally as cold as they were then. And the oldtimers say that winters in the thirties and forties were MUCH colder than they were then. I hope we have finally gotten the will to make an all-out assault on this problem, at least as we understand it now. Most of the things we think need to be done, are not HARMFUL, especially conservation. But I have to admit, I HATE those ugly-shaped, mercury-containing and stingy-with-light flourescent bulbs. I'm using them, but it is sort of like being on a diet--not fun, even if you know how virtuous it is.
The cold is coming in tonight and there will be wind, snow and rain on Monday, so we may wait a day of two before leaving.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seasonal Road: Not snowplowed by the Emmet County Road Commission

My grandson is home for the weekend and we've been doing a lot of visiting. What a delight to see him again before we leave!
I love the layers in this picture of the unimproved (and therefore perfect!) road that runs along the south end of our chunk of land.
Clean window, wipered-after-frost window, mirror, road in front, road behind, camera, lens, hand of the photographer, edge of car roof, part of hood. When I took it, I was only looking at the late autumn trees.
Today I said goodbye to my water exercise group, a fine bunch of folks. I plan to keep this up wherever I go; it really works! I'm stronger than I was at the beginning of the summer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frost crystals, aspen leaf

Frost crystals, aspen leaf
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Yesterday morning after the first really determined frost, in the sun-soaked morning, this perfect and imperfect leaf.
Tonight I worked on a newsletter with my daughter and I have been crafting text for three hours, so I am about out of craft, but I wanted you to see this leaf. Good night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Morning Frost

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It sure enough did in the potted geraniums on the porch! I started another book by Bernd Heinrich today. Of course, every writer is my favorite when I am in the thick of a book, but his books are ALL my favorites. The Mind of the Raven just about knocked me out! This book is called Winter World; the ingenuity of animal survival. The golden-crowned kinglet weighs about five grams but winters in the frosty north. I am about to find out how, and many other secrets, some of which I hope to share with you, without freezing my physical self. I could never do the things he does; I like the indoors too much. After all, that's where the keyboard is. I find that outdoor light, even when I sit in shadow, makes the laptop screen difficult to use.
To begin with, he thanks the people who have studied the way nature works; the information they have gained enables all of us to think about these interesting mysteries. Here is what he says in the acknowledgements, "I also read somewhere that Thoreau "stopped being a thinker" when he became a naturalist. I think that is getting it the wrong way round. You need facts to think with, and thinking about nature without facts is, really, feeling. Fiction is fiction, no matter how real one tries to make it seem." p. vi
Let's read that again: YOU NEED FACTS TO THINK WITH! I would like to see that engraved over the entrance to all school buildings. And then on the door sill, deeply engraved, so you would have to [step over it every day you went to school: THINKING [about anything] WITHOUT FACTS iS, REALLY, FEELING.
Take that! And that! Like they used to say in the comics: Biff! Pow! Thwap! Such a clear, and to me incontrovertible, statement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aspens and sky

Aspens and sky: Photomerged
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I Photomerged four photographs to get this expansive sky. It was a glorious sunny autumn day. I had S let me out of the car and walked home down the two-track taking pictures all the way. I seem to want to hold onto autumn more than ever before.
I have been remembering a doll I had. She was commercially made, about five inches tall, of a single piece of wood about 1/4 inch thick. She had been jigsawed and sanded and her edges were very smooth. She could wear rather short little easy-to-make dresses with a drawstring around the neck and buttonholes for her arms. Her underwear was painted on.The bottoms of her feet were flat and she could stand in her little painted-on white sox and black Mary Janes. Most of the time I think her hair was blond and then once in a while, I think it was black. All of her was painted in smooth enamel paint; her skin was peachy-pink. If I named her, I cannot remember the name. At some point, she got a couple of little-sibling tooth marks on her face, quite marring her beauty. Tonight I am wanting to hold her in my hand. I am going to try to sketch her. Maybe my sister, who has a jogsaw, can make me a replacement. There must have been others like her. Where have they all gone? There is a similar hand-made older doll on eBay right now. But she is nine inches tall and has jointed legs. And a VERY old fashioned hairdo. For the past year or so, I have bought myself some small dolls at jumble sales and in thrift stores. I don't know why. I never played much with dolls, actually, because I was usually busy reading. Do you still have any of your dolls?

brief autumn--
a painted doll awakens
from a long slumber

Have a good night's rest in this excellent autumn weather. Open those windows!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gray Cloud of October

Pano Oct 20 up
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It's the green and gold time of year. The reds have blown away. And the bones of the forest show ever more clearly. The cranes and geese have all gone south by now. But my daughter has seen two pileated woodpeckers calling raucously while she is on her morning walk. Every day I realize that some of the things I was going to do/paint/visit this year will have to be relisted for next year. Sleep tight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jeanette, June, John

Jeanette, June, John
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I have been thinking about my parents and my family--and memory. This picture was taken circa 1951. This is not our house and I don't know whose it is. This photo was taken in the Schenectady, NY, area (was it your house??) and looks like the ones we took with our Brownie Reflex. (I got myself one of those last year from eBay, but still need to get some film.) I am in the center, in a dress I made of iridescent blue fabric. Rayon, I think. It may have been one of the items I sloshed in dry-cleaning fluid and then hung out in the barn to dry. (Did anyone else ever do anything quite as dumb?) If I was going to make something, I might have chosen washable fabric. Maybe someone gave me the yard goods? How much I have forgotten. . .
Our friend, Jeanette is on the left. She was a couple of years younger than I. I haven't heard from her yet (she lets email clump up in the box) but hope she will remember something more.
My brother John, six years younger, is on the right. He can't remember the place, but says he remembers well the joy of finding something to be interested in while dressed in Sunday clothes.
Am I holding a game? Are we playing with pencil and paper? What does a Ouija board look like? We didn't have one (or did we?) but the owners of the mystery house might have.
Tonight my husband talked to my grandson on the phone and recalled a time maybe fifteen years ago when we went with my grandsons and their widowed mother to see the eldest one play T-Ball. It was just supposed to be practice, not competition, but somehow my grandson got called out. It made him cry, his mother angry, and we all went home. I had completely forgotten about this outing. My husband is a big repository of this stuff: who we had over for dinner, what we ate, what movies we went to see and with whom. Most of this stuff is not in my databank at all. Sometimes, under his coaching, I get a memory trace, that's all. But many other things I remember in great detail. What do you remember. What incomplete stories do your family photos tell? Sleep tight.

A Turban Squash says: Buy me!

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
These always seem a little dangerous to me, as if they might be harboring alternate life forms. While I was looking at this, a lady asked me if I knew how to cook them. I had to admit I did not. And we already have two uncooked kitchen-counter-decoration squash from our last optimistic visit to Bill's Farm Market. And it is most probably true that you can't take it with you . . . at least on a projected two week auto trip.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Purple Cabbage, believe it!

Purple Cabbage, believe it!
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I never saw a purple cabbage
nor did I think to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one!
(With apologies to Gelett Burgess.)
At Bill's Farm Market these are displayed next to the gold cabbages. And each of them commands a pretty price. I didn't ask if chemistry is involved in this, I don't think it would cook up prettily, either. The recipe should use it raw or blanched in florets. And now, having done my bit for cuisine, I'll say good night. Weather turning colder here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brief Autumn

Brief Autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Lots of people think these landscape photos are boring. I'm just thankful there still is some landscape. I read a long article today (in a recent New Yorker--Oct 6, 2008) about the smuggling of Russian timber into China, enriching the smugglers and local officials, as well as Chinese factories and US stores like Walmart. It touched on timber smuggling from Brazil and Indonesia as well. It mentioned baby cribs and paint-brush handles as things that are made from smuggled wood. It seems that there are too many people, really, using too much stuff. And here I sit at my computer, made of minerals mined everywhere. . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Little Brother

Little Brother
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I tracked this into someone's house tonight. Oh, you don't need to bother with that she said, when I picked it up. But it does remind me of a little brother. This may be the silliest post I ever made. Good night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Remnants of past lives

Remnants of past lives
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
A fallen cedar fence post; a small stone pile. Tha sandy soil and short growing season made for little chance of agricultural success here. To me, the agricultural landscape of the people who came before is is very poignant. As the fences decay leaving only a row of scraggy bushes and trees--as the barns fall, more and more of them each year, we get farther and farther from evidence of those difficult lives which nourished so much of American competence and inventiveness.
Little circles of pale green lichen make lace upon these stones. What is my accomplishment?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Stones

Three Stones
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I remember reading somewhere that a stack of three stones is not an accident. Someone placed them there; it carries some meaning. But I cannot find this in my notes or anyplace else. This particular stack has been here quite some time and has attracted some handsome lichen ornamentation. When I was in high school, I would have said "Lih-chen" because no one had ever said the word around me; I had only read it. No one taught me much natural history. My folks had both grown up in southern Arizona, and didn't know the local plants. I never had any course in any kind of natural history, with the possible of a few things in the crowded "Biology" course in the tenth grade. Which also covered (sort of) reproduction and single-celled animals. I had no idea that people watched birds, or studied wildlife or plants of any kind. I think it was the major flaw in my education. In college, I filled my "science" requirement with a year of chemistry, which was very interesting, but sort of inanimate, compared to wildlife study.
Good night, little idol of standing stones. It reminds me of a cartoon badger--standing upright and looking at you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Young trees on the old fence row

The fallen fence post is at the lower right. We have taken up a lot of the barbed wire, but not all of it. The larger tree in the photo reminds me of a nurse, or governess, for the smaller one, which looks like it might be frail, yet determined, and perhaps a little scatterbrained. It is easy to personify trees and it does take my mind briefly away from politics or world economics.
I can make these short fictions, but the focus required to write a novel is almost unimaginable to me. Today I got two more of William Maxwell's books from online bookstores. Now I am trying to decide which one to read first. Guess I'll go get started! Good night.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mist: autumn morning

Mist: autumn morning
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I have named these young maples the Three Sisters. They have grown so much since we came here. After some large Quaking Aspens blew over, they are claiming the space and the sunlight outside the back door.
Many mornings now, we have a heavy mist which hangs on until well after sunrise. It gives everything a special glow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

At the turning

At the turning
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Meaning, pattern, form and authenticity

At this time of year, the layered arrangement of the limbs of the untrammeled maple becomes ever more clear. I have been reading William Maxwell and would like to quote him. William Maxwell is a favorite writer of mine. He is the author of many novels, the earliest of which was published in 1938. He was also the fiction editor at the New Yorker for forty years. This is what Howard Moss says about him on the back cover of The Outermost Dream, a collection of his work from which the excerpt below is taken, “As for life in general, one need merely read him. The least flashy of writers, a writer’s writer, he is controlled and reserved, and yet magical at the same time. He has been a master of fiction for almost fifty years.”

“I was never asked to deal with a work of fiction [to review it for the New Yorker] and if I had been I would have said no. Too much of a busman’s holiday. Also, after you have said whether it does or does not have the breath of life, what standards are you going to invoke when confronted with a thing that, like a caterpillar, consumes whatever is at hand? A long narrative requires impersonation, hallucinating when you don’t know the answer, turning water into wine, making a silk purse out of a string of colored scarves and extracting a white rabbit from a sow’s ear, knowing how and when to hold the carrot in front of the donkey’s nose, and sublime confidence. “The house was full of that poetic atmosphere of dullness and silence which always accompanies the presence of an engaged couple.” That sort of thing will keep any reader from escaping out the side door. But diaries, memoirs, published correspondence, biography and autobiography—which are what I was asked to consider—do not spring from prestidigitation or require a long apprenticeship. They tell what happened—what people said and did and wore and ate and hoped for and were afraid of, and in detail after often unimaginable detail they refresh our idea of existence and hold oblivion at arm’s length. Looked at broadly, what happened always has meaning, pattern, form, and authenticity. One can classify, analyze, arrange in the order of importance, and judge any or all of these things, or one can simply stand back and view the whole with wonder."
from the introductory note to The Outermost Dream; essays and reviews.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Brave Little Seedling

The Brave Little Seedling
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
If you look closely, you can see the conifer seeding that has sprouted in the sawn-off-close-to-the-ground stump at the edge of the trail. The Waldron Fen is a nature preserve. Many years ago, the former owner planned a Christmas tree farm and planted a variety of native and non-native conifers. I don't think a single Christmas tree was ever sold. Left to themselves, the pines and firs are becoming a forest cathedral. On a recent Saturday, we walked through the tall slender (overplanted) trees on a soft carpet of fallen needles. This was something I saw; it's not terribly pretty, but it is encouraging.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beginning of autumn

Beginning of autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Both these maples grow along the old fence line. This same hedgerow also has two beautiful Serviceberry or Juneberry trees that bear beautiful white blooms in early spring. It makes me smile about birds sitting on the fence and digesting juneberries. It makes me think about hedgerows, what springs up there, and the wildlife they support, particularly on land like this that was marginal for farming. (Too cold here, too sandy.)
One afternoon last summer I noticed that the Juneberry tree in the east meadow seemed to be flipping its limbs or thrashing about. But it was a perfectly still day. I got my binoculars. A pair of Rose-breasted grosbeaks were feeding on the berries, and so was a squirrel. He worked his way out to the end of a branch and sort of swung on it, like a too-heavy Christmas ornament. When he reached the end of the branch, he swung down and transitioned to another branch. The grosbeaks moved around him and worked where he was not. The next day, when I walked out to the tree, I couldn't see a single red berry, although I had spotte quite a bit of red with my binoculars. I've read that early farm women made jelly from the berries, but I don't know how they got them in time. And I haven't tasted a single one.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Last goldenrod bloom

Last goldenrod bloom
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I am pretty sure it is goldenrod, but small and late, and of an atypical shape. The large blooms of the Canada goldenrod have turned brown by now. I went to pick just the flower on the walk back from the mailbox; I was surprised when the root ran along the ground just under the surface and perpendicular to the shaft of the plant. When I looked at it, I thought it was pretty and brought the whole thing home. It took some "persuading" to get it to hold another angle so I could scan it. I like the look of the cluster of root hairs where the plant goes underground.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Young Sugar Maples

Young Sugar Maples
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Here you can see how the bigtooth aspens (Populus grandidentata) have served as "nurse trees" allowing the young maples to begin growing in a more protected, slightly-shaded place. Since the aspens are a short-lived tree, the maples will continue to gain in relative strength. Fifteen years ago, when we bought this land, they were little more than seedlings. I have become very interested in the trees here. It is a climate much suited to trees. I love to see where they choose to sprout and flourish and how they arrange themselves, trunks, limbs and leaves, in search of sunlight.

autumn deepens--
my grandson stuffs the washer
with a load of jeans

I just looked this up and it has been five years since I wrote this haiku!
I never saw anybody put more jeans into a single load. It still makes me laugh to think of it, now that he has left home for good.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Remember that Fiddler? Lyrics have a way of lodging in your head and popping up. Mostly I have hymns. But this has always been a catchy, memorable tune to me.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rhythm; beginning of autumn

Rhythm; beginning of autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

And here I am at another autumn, the gateway to winter. Eight years since I retired and none of my projected retirement projects are advancing very fast. Things remain undone, and chances are missed. I recently read the memoir that Hayden Carruth wrote about his long friendship with James Laughlin. It is called Beside the Shadblow Tree. I loved this short and heartfelt book. After reading it, I had new ideas about Laughlin, his charitable actions and his marriages. I liked him better than I had before. It sent me back to Laughlin's late-in-life published works, which I had ignored, leaving him back at the Ezuversity and in wealthy youth, except for New Directions, and all that he accomplished there.

I also had a new sense of Carruth's emotional fragility. In that small book, I had met two people (about both of whom I had read quite a bit) in a whole new way. I went around for a couple of weeks writing Carruth a letter in my head. I was going to tell him how much his encouragement had meant to my deceased pal, Pat Shelley, as well! I thought Carruth wouldn't mind hearing these things and of my appreciation for his poetry. It probably would have taken me no more than an hour to actually write this letter and send it in care of his publisher, if I could not find a better address. And while I was thinking about it, he died.

Here's Beth's post about Carruth, with one of his poems. You can find more of his poetry through Google. Like this one:

On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam

Well I have and in fact
more than one and I'll
tell you this too

I wrote one against
Algeria that nightmare
and another against

Korea and another
against the one
I was in

and I don't remember
how many against
the three

when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
Harlan County

and not one
breath was restored
to one

shattered throat
mans womans or childs
not one not

but death went on and on
never looking aside

except now and then
with a furtive half-smile
to make sure I was noticing.

Hayden Carruth

Friday, October 03, 2008

Grampy's Hat

Grampy's Hat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Today we had a sump pump alarm installed. We will close up here and visit this adored granddaughter on our way back home. This is how she looked when we saw her last, but she is changing fast at her age. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A fresh cake of suet

A fresh cake of suet
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

This flavor of suet block is called Bird Blend. There are different nuts and seeds imbedded in the block. Last year, even squirrels used to pick them out. But this year has been almost squirrel free, for reasons we do not know.
I love to watch the strong feet of this woodpecker cling onto the wires of the suet holder. Tonight I am feeling very lucky to live here, and as if I do not really deserve such luck when things are so terrifying for so many children and families in the world.
Here's a little something for Joann; it's from Scott Russell Sanders's 2006 book. A Private History of Awe. "It's often said a young child is like a sponge, but that seems to me the wrong metaphor, because a sponge can be wrung dry, while everything that goes into a child stays there. A child is more like a forest, gathering every every drop of rain or flake of snow, every fallen leaf, the slant of sunlight and glint of moonlight, the fluster and song of birds, the paths worn by deer, the litter of bones and nuts and seeds, and whatever the wind delivers, taking it all in, turning everything into new growth."
page 43.

I wish I had written this! "the fluster and song of birds" is gorgeously fresh and perfect. The whole metaphor "a child is like a forest" is absolutely stunning. I believe we all need to be mindful that "whatever goes into a child stays there" so that whenever we are able to do something to improve the lives and situations of children that we know or are able to extend the hand of charity to, we have this as an obligation. When I read this short passage this morning, I knew I had found something great for my blog; here it is. Good night