Saturday, February 28, 2009


This beautiful well-behaved vine of the pea family is blooming in Palo Alto near where I park my car (to avoid the dread 2-hour zone) when I come for my all-day Printmaking class. Yesterday we went shopping for new plants to put around a reduced-size lawn and THERE IT WAS. So I am in and will try it on my new section of fence in the side yard. I know it is silly to do this stuff when the world is going down the drain, but if you saw these blossoms, you would see how beautiful they are!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fay-san's haiku spirit

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I found out this week that the person I think writes the best, freshest and most interesting haiku now going has a web presence! It features some of her own haiku, as well as her frequent translations of samples of the best contemporary haiku being written in Japan today. Fay is awesomely bilingual, having been educated in Japan and having lived in the USA for many years while making her living as a much-sought-after simultaneous translator.
If you have any interest in haiku or tanka at all (or even if you don't think you do, having only seen the boring kind) check out Fay Aoyagi's website and click around for samples of her work and her English translations of contemporary Japanese haiku and tanka. If you read Japanese, you can read it here, too!
This is a photo of Fay reading haiku at our Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Christmas party in 2006. The photographer in the lower right is noted haiku author Paul O. Williams.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forest Textures

scan canonprintmod
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I'm looking forward to going back to these woods. Here in California it has been raining and the earth is soggy. We had a new fence put in between the tiny side yards of our wedge-shaped lots. Through the window in the laundry room, I can see the fence. I notice birds are already using it as a perch or a small highway. That makes a nice change. It is mockingbird time here; I think he hopes to nest, or is already nesting, in the hedge between us and the other neighbor. He sings for hours, perched on our roof, or in a tree. About 20 years ago we had a night mockingbird--one who sang for hours at night during the nesting season. This bird drove our hedge neighbor nuts, but I don't think that is why they moved away. We are the single remaining original owners on this block where our children grew up. We planted every tree, bush, perennial and bulb on this lot. And the time is coming when we, too, will move away. Well, that's cheerful! I have started a very interesting project which I won't be able to talk about until the results come out. But, stay tuned for a couple of months and I'll fill you in.
S read me an article the other day about a mid-20th century Hungarian writer, Sandor Marai. I can't type Hungarian diacriticals here, but he has one in each name. He was driven out of Hungary around 1949, and lived in the US in obscurity for the next 40 years before committing suicide in 1989. I got his short book Esther's Inheritance, on my Kindle and read it before going to bed. It's a very good book, so tonight I am thankful to Amazon's Kindle and the translators and publishers who now make this work available.I've ordered a memoir and some more of his fiction. Stay tuned--I know I keep promising to make this a better blog; this seems to have the result that I procrastinate writing ANY post. . . Good Grief, as that poor Chuck used to say. That's a great book, too, the one about Charlie Brown's creator! It wasn't as funny as it seemed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

She'll be good!

The first thing she asks whenever we get together, "Can we take pictures now???" I usually say yes. But I have just bought a smaller and cheaper camera than this for her usual use. And this time she astonished me (not 5 years old yet) by learning how to view the pictures and toggle through them after I showed her just once!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gulls on Almaden Lake

Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This time of year, gulls are here on the lake in the middle of almost every day. We're at the beginning of the year we name 2009.
Here is something that happened on February 23, 1912. In a letter to his companion, Emilie Floge, Gustav Klimt wrote, " I really am getting my telephone today--who knows how much it will irritate me."
I can dig that! It is fun to think about living without phones, the way everybody did, a mere hundred years ago.
This tidbit was brought to you courtesy of the Chronology of Klimt's life in the back of the book Gustav Klimt; Modernism in the Making, which I finished tonight. The reproductions in the book are very beautiful and they cover the whole arc of his career. I have always preferred his landscape paintings to the golden portraits of society ladies, but I am very glad to have this book. His drawings are exquisite! Tomorrow, I need to remove another book in the shelf of my European art favorites to make room for this one. The perils of being a retired librarian. . .

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thinking about the autumn woods

And playing with my software when I should be going to bed. This is a Nik filter that emulates a Polaroid transfer. The trunks of young birch trees against the woods always arrange themselves pleasingly. My brother has recently retired and has started reading this blog. He lets me know about typed misspellings. Typing has never been a strong point with me, although I had some reputation as a speller. It is fun to find out things about your siblings that you never knew, like that he cares about typos. The brother just younger than Dave used to write me emails that were LARDED with typos. If I mentioned it, he dismissed it as of no consequence, though he was the author of books and many published articles. I have two other brothers; if they are reading this, I don't know it. Yet.
I need to get back into the swing of writing this blog. Look for improvement, faithful readers. I've been reading some great stuff.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My grandaughters are visiting, and getting along well with my husband's darling dachshunds.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

She looks at me in window light

When I retired, my friends gave me my first digital camera, an Olympus with 1.3 megapixels. I hadn't been planning to go there, but in the first few times I used it I began to notice the way light glowed with a different quality from film. This is my granddaughter in beautiful window light with the hands of her parents on both sides. We were all eating ravioli on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk when my son's family was here on a visit. This picture series and the ones I took at the San Francisco zoo on the same visit convinced me that digital was the way to go. I haven't been even a little bit sorry.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Feeding the dogs

My husband used to feed his dogs little treats of canned dog food with a fork. This captures it exactly. Today I remembered this picture which I used to have in a wooden frame the color of the golden retriever. I gave that away to my son (the two darker dogs were his; he was visiting) but noticed a photo of seabirds in an identical frame on the mantel. So I went looking for the file. This picture was taken with film, but when it was developed they gave you digitized images on a FLOPPY DISK. [Remember?] So it is almost, but not quite, one of my first digital photos. I have most of my photos on a large stand-alone hard drive. (I cannot recommend this too highly as a good backup, and way to organize and access your photos. I keep the CDs with photos on them in a storage locker, also.) Since I've been keeping the photos easily accessible like this, I've been playing with them a lot more, and have retrieved a lot of memory threads. Now the faded seabirds are out, a fresh print of the dog-feeding extravaganza is in, and I am going to bed happy. I might be even happier if these old photos were of even better quality, but I can fix that sometime when (???) I go through a chest of drawers full of photos and negatives in envelopes. The actual film of this time should be of better quality than floppy disk skinny-megapixel photos. So many projects, so many choices. Good Night.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Muir Woods in Winter

I've just spent three hours trying to find a reasonably priced ticket for our grandson to come and visit us on his spring break. I miss my storefront travel agent who used to handle these things for me. This photo was taken mid-January in this lovely park in the redwoods north of San Francisco. It was a beautiful moist day and we took a haiku walk with Mr. Arima, a fantastic haiku teacher from Japan.
We hope to take Our grandson to the new Academy of Science building, at least. A view of the Golden Gate bridge, etc. etc. I'm off to look at tourism websites; I haven't spent too much time in San Fran lately.

Like Arthur Dove

Many years ago, Gail showed me the paintings of Arthur Dove, which she liked very much. At the time, I wasn't all that impressed. They seemed a little static and heavy in their coloration. But as time goes on, I can see what a recognizable stamp he put on his paintings, which often feature a round shape in one of the quadrants, and I have grown to appreciate them more. I have been revisiting my pictures and was struck by the Arthur Dove-ish ambiance of this one, shot through a car window on a heavily overcast day, with a burning late-afternoon sun. The sun seems to have created lines of force around itself. This is a purely visual event, as I am made conscious of by reading Eavesdropping; a life by ear, another book by Stephen Kuusisto, the author of Planet of the Blind, which I read last week. I am very sorry that I am almost through with his second memoir and no others are available as yet!
When he was a child, he lived for two years with his parents in Helsinki, near the harbor and used to walk there with his father. From the first and second pages of this book:

"I saw only endless plains of gray Baltic light. This didn't bother me. It was the world I knew. It was a world of shadowy loves. If a person appeared before me he or she resembled nothing more than the black trunk of a tree. A troupe of women emerged from the mist. They were indistinct, liquid, black and green. These were the old women from the neighborhood unfurling their carpets on the shore of the frozen sea.
Lordy! Then they sang!
The tree women sang and beat their carpets in the Baltic wind.
My father told me to listen.
"These are the old songs." he said.
The women croaked, chanted, breathed and wept.
The women were forest people. They had survived starvation, civil war, and then another war, the "Winter War" with the Russians.
Their carpets swayed on wooden racks that stood along the shore. They sang and beat dust from the rugs with sticks.
They sang over and over a song of night. The song unwound as if from a spool. I remember its terrible darkness. They were together singing a song that rose from a place deeper than dreams. Even a boy knows what this is.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wind poured from the city through the masts of sailboats.
There was an old man who sold potatoes from a dory in the harbor. His voice was like sand. He talked to me every day.
Potatoes from the earth, potatoes from the cellar! You can still taste the summer! You can still taste the summer!
Later I would think of his voice when reading of trolls under bridges."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough!!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Memory Thread

I'm the big sister here. This is our back yard on First Street in Scotia, NY. That's my sister Susan in the other white pinafore, Brother John (the prince!) has his hand on my beloved maple tree. Baby brother Richard is in the swing. Swinging here is one of my early chilhood memories. Richard is married to a Colombian woman and has lived in South America for many, many years. The diaper baby is my cousin, Barbara Lee Butler, oldest child of my mother's brother Merwin. He was in the service and fought on Okinawa. Barbara Lee's mother, Aunt Wilma, was one of my favorite people in the whole wide world because of her warmth and her laughter. The boy in the foreground is the oldest child of my mother's brother Karl, who was later an assistant Secretary of Agriculture under Ezra Taft Benson. For some reason this kid was known to us as Little Douggie Butler. His mother, my Aunt Molly, bred Welsh ponies He grew up to be an expert on farriery and wrote an excellent book on that topic. John's middle name is Douglas, too, after my Uncle Karl Douglas Butler, This name, Douglas, honors a Mr. Douglas after whom Douglas, Arizona was named. This town is also the birthplace of my mother, Olga, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona. She has her own set on my Flickr photostream which celebrates the centennial of her birth in 1907.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Flickr problem

I've always been loading my images from Flickr, because I liked the way they clicked back there. But this has stopped working (many others are having the same problem) so when my last post didn't go, I uploaded and image from my laptop and WOW! I like the size of it much better. I will try the same with this post. The test post from Flickr (see post below) came through but not the real one. Goofy, no?

Young Leaves

My apologies to my readers (after I finally got some!) I've been a very poor blogger. I have a new laptop (impulse purchase--we went to Best Buy to replace S's dead desktop) and I have been setting it up and trying to organize my pictures, digital and scanned. It's much faster and makes this a possible project. So many things I had forgotten! This is from a series of scans I took for the cover of Young Leaves, which the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society published to celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2000. It's not the chosen scan, but for some reason, it appeals to me tonight, probably because of its lost leaflet.Today I went through my whole closet, removing extra hangers and putting like items with like. Here are the categories: pants, skirts, blazers, jeans or ethnic jackets, long-sleeved silk blouses, short-sleeved silk blouses or rayon blouses, long sleeved shirts, cotton short sleeved blouses, short sleeved cotton knit tops. long sleeved ditto (my favorite wear in this chillier part of the year). Plus a couple of dresses, and some nightgowns and housecoats. I found several beloved items I had forgotten about and two things with the tags on that I had NEVER worn. HOPE is sending their donation truck in three days. Now comes the sort-through of each category to get some donations ready.So today has been about STUFF, digital and material. I have two much; looking through things today has been great fun. Stirring your stuff can be a good substitute for other accomplishments. Sigh.I also should report that I made a new etched plate in Printmaking class last Thursday and plan to print it both as a relief plate and an intaglio plate before next class. Good night!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cardinal French Laundry

Cardinal French Laundry
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Can you read this? Click for larger view. Another little evidence of our chequered past. No Chinese need apply. . .

Of course you can't! Here's the text of the bronze plaque:

Cardinal French Laundry
This reinforced concrete building was designed by Edwin Reichel and constructed for approximately $7,000 by Wells P. Goodenough in 1931. The structure housed the Cardinal French Laundry until 1989.
During the early twentieth century, the laundry industry in this neighborhood near African American, Chinese and Japanese residents was an important source of employment for workers who were unskilled. The industry was also associated with serious social issues in Palo Alto at that time including the treatment of women workers, racial prejudice and labor struggles. The term “French Laundry” originated as a code for laundries that did not hire Chinese workers.