Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I still remember the shock with which I met my introduction to the concept that language was inadequate to the expression of all human experience. Deep in my heart, I still really think that mastery of language will enable all thought and experience to be expressed. . . this is just the hopeful thought of a lifelong reader.
Tonight on my beloved Vox, they are playing Haydn's Creation, along the beauiful strains of which I have been carried back to the early 1980s when I sang with a junior college choir and got a great deal of really fine choral music incorporated into my body and my soul. So tonight I am filled with longings for the past and gladness that I have know what I have known.
And now my trip to Greece is becoming part of that unreachable past. But I (big smile) have my little book of ink sketches.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
And here's the other one, a comment posted on the website of the painter Robert Genn, who offers a newsletter, The Painter's Keys and other encouragements to artists.:
"As I sit in one Back Yard location and read about your adventures around the globe, and hear the stories of world travels from fellow painters, I can only use my imagination to place me there. I wonder how much of that time getting there is wasted sleeping, watching an in-flight movie or talking weather with the person next to them. I've always kept time in the fore front of what I'm doing. Knowing we only have so many minutes, not to waste too many of them. I realized in my early 20's that I didn't like eating, sleeping or using the bathroom. All, to me, are a waste of time."
I didn't find a signature. And I know sleeping seems a waste of time and eating can be terribly repetitive, and frequent. But I guess I never thought about the time I've wasted going to the bathroom! Yet, in some ways I understand the snide or griping feeling that one gets when reading about the so-productive lives of people whom we admire very much, and who live lives of travel, servants and privilege. Today's example would be the book I just finished by Jill Ker Conway about her life as the very successful president of Smith College. A lot of this book was about fundraising and getting people together to produce good results for the college--not just about money, but about getting various vested interests to realize that the way they look at things might not be the only way, the correct way, the modern way, the useful way, etc. without making them your sworn enemies, so you cannot get anything done. The book is not only about that, but it does profile a person who sets (and accomplishes) thoughtful goals, as well as taking long walks or hikes and a daily swim, looks good, studies music and poetry, as well as maintaining many nourishing friendships, often friendships with the great and near-great. And serving on the boardS of corporationS!
The book was so interesting--I am not doing it justice, because my take-off point was the carpings of the Back Yard lady. (Just now I looked back and ascertain that I assumed the carper was a woman, (trapped in the Back Yard by a life of cooking and unpaid servitude?) but the sex is not identified in the post, and the discontented soul could just as easily be a man. That's a(nother?) bad blow for my feminist credentials . . . [Just went back, and above the place where I began to read the paragraph is titled and the author is identified; he is a fellow: Crucial time by Brad Greek, Mary Esther, FL, USA]
Back to the book A Woman's Education (the road from Coorain leads to the presidency of Smith College) it was one of those books during reading which I held a conversation with the author. I kept writing her a letter in my head, and that morphed into another letter to my former County Librarian boss, who has many of the qualities that distinguish Jill Conway, and which helped them both to be so productive. My boss has recently lost her husband to a lingering illness and I have been meaning to write to her, but not at essay-length! Jill Conway was born less than 11 months before I was, so I have traveled with her through the same world events and generational changes. My husband was an academic all his working life and is only four years older than she, so he too experienced so much of the rage, turmoil and change of academia in those times.
I have been interested in feminist issues since I was a child and, with my mother's backing, became the first sixth-grade female Crossing Guardnear my elementary school. But that is another story.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Someone told me that the rounded edges on these houses were supposed to stop the sea winds from whistling all the time. The wind does blow fairly consistently. And they said it doesn't work.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Of course, it is easy to crop off the telltale black corners, but I kind of get a kick out of the way they remind me of those black photo corners we used to stick photos into albums in the long-ago times of the 20th century . . .
I had already taken a lot of pictures at Sturgeon Bay with another camera, when this family appeared on the beach. Lately I have reviewed a great many painting and sketching books, which often recommend tiny figures in the watercolor landscape to give a sense of scale and make people happy because our eyes immediately go to people in pictures.
This reminded me of that. So as the family went down to the water, I took many pictures, because the arrangement of the figures kept changing.
I am thinking a great deal about watercolors right now, partly because of the trip to Greece with such good painters, and partly because of some new books I ordered from Amazon, but also because yesterday I signed up to trade art postcards (4in. x 6 in.) with seven strangers through the Yahoo ArtSwappers Group. So now I have to actually draw and paint seven images (I am thinking about Greek island villages) that I will not be too hideously embarrassed to send. Some of these people are quite talented; I haven't seen the work of all of them yet. It should be very interesting to see what they do. It should be interesting also, to see how much I procrastinate. Sorry about the recent lag in posts. I still plan to talk about Gu Cheng. When I do, I'll link back to his poem.
Sleep tight. It is 11:48 here, but my blog still thinks I am posting (I mistyped "poeting" which is kinda cute) on California time. And I couldn't figure out how to fix that and gave up. Good night.
I love the way the color of the flowers goes with the pinks in the vase. The flowers lasted for several days, which surprised me. I enjoyed having flowers in the house,
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This morning at senior citizen's water exercise, the topic seemed to be recipes for the George Foreman grill. One woman does bacon in hers. Another marinates chicken in oil, balsalmic vinegar and tarragon before grilling. She also does mandoline-cut sliced raw potatoes. She never uses butter or grease, but has a butter-flavored spray. There were so many grilled sandwiches that I couldn't keep track.
A different topic develops every day--it is sort of interesting to see what will come up. Since the teacher is looking for a house to rent and/or buy, there has been a lot of real estate discussion. One day last week we heard a lot about nearby camping places at the various lakes and parks near here. We have only had one day of gruesome accident stories. I do notice a refreshing lack of health complaining. The pool is at the Crooked Lake Lodge and is VERY clean. Most of the people I've met (not everyone comes every day--today there were only four of us) have lived in MIchigan for many years, if not all their lives. So they have seen a lot of changes, as have we all.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I am trying to do too many things at once, and this blog is only a token of my confusion. Do I want poetry, haiku, photography, literary analysis or art?? Beats me.
But tomorrow is another day. Good thing.
Monday, July 21, 2008
All things, material or alive, including people, have their dreams.
Each of these dreams is of its own world,
The desert dreams of the cloud’s dark shadow, flowers dream of the butterfly’s kiss; and dew dreams of the sea . . .
I too have a dream. Distant but distinct, it is not just of its own world, it is of a paradise beyond the world.
It is beautiful and pristine. When I opened the book of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, my young mind flooded with light.
I travel toward it, gradually becoming transparent, casting away the shadow behind me. There is only the road, the open road.
The value of my life is in this moving on.
I want to use the pure metal of my mind to forge a key to open the gates of this paradise for people to see. If possible, I will then have the good fortune to sink into the darkness.
When I first read this, I found the abrupt darkness at the end quite surprising. Darkness, hopelessness and depression always leave me feeling helpless. I've been putting off finishing posting this poem because I want to say something about Gu Cheng and I am still working out the train of thought in my mind.
This evening my grandsons took me out in the boat again and we fed swans, who turned out to like Fritos as much as any gull would. THAT was a little depressing. I think I got some nice pictures.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
POETRY LESSONS by Gu Cheng
Because of my deep needs, I often travel the far edges of society.
There in front of me are plants, clouds and the sea—nature cast in green, white and blue. The purity of these colors wipes away the dust of the everyday world, letting my mind recover its senses.
Is this something I am learning for the first time? No, it seems to be a recollection of an earlier time, as if before I was born I was one of them. I once was curved like the tusk
of a mammoth, once as innocent as a leaf, once as minute and happy as floating plankton, that free . . . .
I want to thank nature for letting me discover myself, discover the story of all things of the world, living and not. I want to thank it for giving me an endless supply of poems and songs.
This is why in the midst of the battle with reality, in the midst of the howl of the grinding machines, I can still say in a sweet quiet voice:
----- Gu Cheng
I'll give you the last part tomorrow. Then I'll write about Gu Cheng a little and about this poem. Good nIght!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Between the outcropping of coral headlands, there was a small sandy beach.
There in the sand, over many years, the tide had left behind shells, forever beautiful and undisturbed.
But when I stopped, what drew my attention were not those brightly colored shells, but rather a very plain spiral shell, one that scuttled there alone through the shallows. When I grabbed hold of it, I then realized that there was a crab hiding inside, alive.
I want to thank that crab for teaching me about poetic language.
One spirited spoken phrase, unique in its construction, is far better than dozens of antiquated and elegant expressions.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Tonight I am posting part 2 of Gu Cheng's poem, with one of my own haiku. Oddly enough, when all five parts of his poem are posted, it will read backwards down the page, because blogs ARE backwards really, with the newest post first. Last night, after posting, I read the material on Gu Cheng which was linked to the Wikipedia article. (Except for the web page in Chinese,) The hat, apparently, WAS made from a jean's leg. And, it seems to have been symbolically important to him, even protective. This was strong enough to be emotionally understood, even in simultaneous translation, the night I heard him. (See the previous two posts.)
Here is part 2 of the poem POETRY LESSONS (1980) by Gu Cheng.
I grew up on a stretch of barren, alkaline land.
The earth and sky there were of a perfect beauty, they formed a perfect sphere. There were no hills, no trees; not even the angular lines of a building to disturb the view.
When I walked along my imaginary road, there was only me between the earth and sky, me: along with a type of pale purple plant.
These plants grew tall in that salty soil, so slender and dense; they stood beneath the sky, under dark clouds and blazing sun, accepting all that befell them. No one knew that they were there, no butterflies, no bees, there were no startled sighs nor praises sung about them. Nonetheless, they grew, putting forth their small flowers, proudly holding their heads high . . . .
They taught me about springtime, poetry and poetry’s duty.
Monday, July 07, 2008
This is the first part of a five-part poem by Gu Cheng, Chinese poet, as translated by Joseph R. Allen. It is on pp. 179-180 of Sea of Dreams. [See previous post.] (I cannot make each part indented in this blog--I have indicated the indent by a soft return.)
I'll try to give the other parts of the poem in subsequent posts.
POETRY LESSONS (1980)
It was a raindrop that first introduced me to poetry.
On the way to my primary school there was a spire-like pine tree, but whenever I passed by it never spoke.
Then one day, after a rain shower, when the world was fresh and clean, that pine tree suddenly was all aglitter, with crystalline raindrops hanging from every needle; at that moment I completely lost touch with my own being. Inside each single drop I saw a raindrop floating; each drop was full of the clear blue sky; each drop held a new world for me . . . .
I knew then that a single small drop of rain was able to contain everything, and to distill everything within it. The world that sparkled within the raindrop was purer and more beautiful than the world within which we live our lives.
Thus, a poem is just that: a raindrop glittering on some tree of the imagination.
Well, I have to put up the last one! Right now, I am looking for the picture I want to use with a poem from Gu Cheng. Many years ago when the "Misty Poets" were touring with Carolyn Kizer, I heard him read at San Jose State with Shu Ting and Bei Dao, and another Misty Poet whose name I can't pull up right now.
Gu Cheng was wearing a hat which looked like it might have been made from one of the starched and cut off legs of a pair of jeans. The part over his forehead was fringed by pulling away the indigo threads and revealing the white ones. I didn't really pay too much attention to it until a young person in the audience asked if he could ger one like it.
The moment of his answer was emotionally striking far beyond what this bald recital of it sounds like. Gu Cheng told him that he had made his hat, that he would not make one for the student and that the student should make his own. This struck me with force, I still cannot really explain why.
I mulled this over, and have never forgotten it. Last year I wrote this haiku based on that brief exchange I heard on a evening so long ago.
insect eggs on a leaf—
Gu Cheng said: I made my hat
you must make your own
I just got the book Sea of Dreams; the selected writings of Gu Cheng in the mail today. The image on the front cover is of Gu Cheng IN HIS HAT! If I get the poem up tonight this will be some kind of posting record for me . . .
I cannot resist this! The hand over the face ones come out particularly well. I'm in love with befunky.com. (Perhaps except for the name.) Use the cartoonizer function on your photos of people.
I have spent today looking at art blogs, reading art books and not doing art. But, hey! As Scarlett said, "I'll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."
This morning there was the usual five-crow ruckus on the lawn, Whenever I see a four-crow group, I always think of reading that the familes stay together after the youngsters fledge. So maybe this is a bigger family? Surely a noisy bunch!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
This lady lived a long time ago. Her funerary statue was found on Delos. I am not too clear about these funerary monuments, but I think they date from Roman times. I doubt they were carved before death, but otherwise how would they resemble the dead? And was it important that thay did?
This lady became very dear to me when I visited the National Archealogical Museum in Athens on the last day of my trip to Greece. (I wish I had arranged to stay longer while I was there. You could spend a week in this museum and there are others!) I felt like I knew her. It was sort of a relief to find her there among the gods and goddesses. The statue is marble and the carving is very beautiful. She still has her nose and her arms and such lovely drapery. And she lived so long ago.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The air was quite warm and the water quite smooth. There was a hint of soft breeze. We had a nice chat with the woman tending the lock that maintains the depth of the Lake; we had to be back through the lock by nine or pay a fine, By the time I took this shot, we had finished our ice creams from the Dockside Deli and made it back through the lock with ten minutes to spare.The sun went down slowly , falling through the clouds and into the trees. I took a gazillion pictures . . .