Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
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
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
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
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
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
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
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?
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
Sunday, October 19, 2008
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.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Little circles of pale green lichen make lace upon these stones. What is my accomplishment?
Monday, October 13, 2008
Good night, little idol of standing stones. It reminds me of a cartoon badger--standing upright and looking at you.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
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
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 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
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
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
Monday, October 06, 2008
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.
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
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
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
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
when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
and not one
breath was restored
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.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
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."
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
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Every cloud different, yet still a cloud. I took this through the raindroppy windshield on Levering Road last night.
What a lucky life I lead! Tonight as I write, on XM radio the soulful French horn theme from Strauss's tone poem Don Juan catches my attention. I remember Wendell Rider filling the San Jose Symphony with this gorgeous melody.
And I am laughing out loud halfway through Gogol's Dead Souls, which I never guessed from the title would be so funny. This is the new Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. In an attempt to capture the tone of the original, they use a lot of slangy British formulations. I like it, but it makes me uneasy, because it is so unlike the familiar classic fiction translations. I can only compare it to the three volumes of Natsume Soseki's I am a Cat, also translated (from the Japanese) by British writers. That has the same slangy edge, which I also like.
While I enjoy my life, we are undergoing another American crisis which I am powerless against. Up the road, the house which a man inherited from his grandmother, which he mortgaged and lost, is now for sale with the eight acres it stands on for $50,000. The house is well-built, but will need work, since he removed the copper plumbing pipes to sell just before he was forced to leave. This is only one little American story. We drive past signs of many others every day. Many homes in this rural area have been for sale for two or three years. I hope it is Morning in America, but right now, it does not feel like it.