Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lupine and Oak Shadow

I went to Almaden Quicksilver Park in search of wildflowers. The lupines are in bloom! I got S to come with me, and we had a beautiful stroll. I haven't been out for wildflowers for several years, so I was very happy to see this. Now I hope to go out tomorrow, there are three entrances to the Park and many different kinds of spring wildflowers. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Poetry Flowers in Afternoon Sun

We drove to San Francisco for an afternoon poetry reading featuring our good friend Carol Snow and Brian Teare, (I asked him to be my new best friend--I can explain that, but won't now) whom we had never met. They both have new books out. My husband just read me a newspaper article on a Newsweek survey that found that the reading of poetry in America has declined by half in the last sixteen years. It wasn't a huge percentage in the first place. These are the figures: in 2008, 8.3 adults said they had read some poetry in the preceding year; in 2002 it was 12.1 percent and in 1992 the figure was 17.1. Thus are we led away from poetry by, for instance, Facebook.
I've often wondered what this was about and when I asked my brother to explain how it worked, he joined and sent me an invitation. In a flash, Facebook asked for permission (foolishly granted) to view my email address book, and I let it send out "invitations to be my friend" to many people. I unchecked a lot of them, but there must have been more than one page and a LOT more invitations went out than I had estimated. It is almost horrifying. The upside is that I have had personal notes from many old friends and family members. A few of them spent quite a while looking for the "photos" promised in the generic Facebook message. I haven't put photos there, and do not plan to, being quite satisfied with Flickr where I have almost 7000 photos of varying quality and interest.
Here is some information about the new books:
Brian Teare's new book of poems is Sight Map. D.A. Powell says of his work, "Brian Teare's poetry is turning the lyric on its ear. No one is safe in any of these poems, in any sense of the word. What a brave new voice, vivid and gutsy and fresh." A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he won the Brittingham Prize for his first book of poems The Room Where I Was Born.
Carol Snow's new book of poems is Placed: Karesansui Poems. Cole Swensen says of it, "This delicate, masterful book joins Zukofsky, Waldrop and others in a growing body of work honoring the preposition and the primacy of relationship over objects. . . ." Her three previous books are Artist and Model, chosen for the National Poetry Series, For, and The Seventy Prepositions. She's collaborated on two text-dance works with choreographer Alex Ketley, "Syntax: A Reading Danced" and "Vessel."
It was a very good reading!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Transcendent Light in the Redwoods

A hundred years ago, a group of people fought to save this old-growth forest. What splendid foresight! This is another of the photos from my grandson's visit.
My two great loves are the natural world and the world of books. These loves intersect at many points such as in the beautiful books of photographs of nature. But, as any sensible person can see the one is indoors and the other outdoors. I'm a fan of the work of Danny Gregory, who makes his attempt at integration through drawing and observation. Through his books and web presence, he encourages other people to take up regular sketching. Right now he is redoing his website and finding great old stuff he put up earlier. Today he found this and mentioned it on Twitter, so I went there; it's one of the most delightful and funky collections of two-page spreads you can imagine of 25 books from his personal library. Take a look--something will surprise or delight you. Some of them are old journals and diaries he has bought in used bookstores. It's a treat! I've done a lot of photography work on the natural world, but now I see I have missed the wonderful world of books, including old ones, worthless or worn-out ones, children's books and handmade or handwritten ones.
My brother sent me an invitation to Facebook, because I asked him if he understood it--I accepted and invited a lot of what Rabbit called 'friends and relations" as well as acquaintances to join me. It was SO EASY, just copied them from my email address book! Most of them did and I got several nice messages. But I fear it could become so time-intensive I won't be able to keep up with it. And I had to apologize to my aunt. . . she hates floods of email.
Keep a journal, and draw in it! And play on the internet if you have time. You will learn things about what you think by expressing yourself.

Schools of silver fish

Again, an aquarium shot with the blue light through the water. I'm crazy for this blue light! Since the last time I was here, the circling groups of anchovies and sardines have become a feature. You have to look closely at the tails to tell which is which, but there really is an amazing difference. The aquarium put up a sign that tips you off.
The tiny fish gleam as they circle and circle and circle, parting occasionally to allow a predator fish to pass. It was a form of dancing and also a demonstration of unity. As when the sanderlings wheel together in their flights above the Bay, I wonder again who leads the dance and if there is no leader, how do they all know what to do?
Tonight we watched the American Masters program on Jerome Robbins. It made me a little sad, but happy, too. I was happy to see so much good dancing (Susanne Farrell, Tanaquil LeClerc!) and see Baryshnikov and Peter Martens again. We heard from mature versions of so many of the dancers, singers and actresses who worked with him. These were gems set among the sadness of the several professional names he tried on the trip from Rabinowitz to Robbins, the testimony coerced from him by the House Un-American Activities Committee, his wish to be married and have children when he loved men, his unquenchable and terrifying perfectionism, and the not-completely-successful attempt to reclaim his Jewish heritage (so strongly rejected in his youth) by creating the ballet Dybbuk, among many others sad things.
To watch him move throughout his life, and to see how he came to ballet through modern dance was a real revelation to me. I was much more familiar with his Broadway musical work that with his ballet work with Balanchine and his companies.
And of course it made me ponder again the immigrant experience, which so many newcomers are undergoing now. And how it seems they very often fell they must reject the old worlds for this one. This one, with its many graces and imperfections.
And of course, looking at a lived life like this, I questioned again the poor use I have made of my own possiblities and gifts. I've had a nice life, and one that was relatively easy. But I feel it would have benefited from more focus and concentration, and less frittering. But I seem to have made an art of frittering, fits and starts, collections and beginnings.
Well, at least the stock market seemed a little happier today. And Rafael laid down the sod for the smaller lawn, and the bark chips around the manzanita, ceanothus, Spanish lavender, lemon thyme, rosemary and some other stuff I have to look up the name again. Sigh. I'll try to post a picture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A completely unrelated summer's day

Overlooking Lake Michigan from the garden behind Legs Inn in Cross Village. I am trying to organize my photographs and move a lot of them off my laptop. With digital photography, there is almost no limit to the photos one can take, this is wonderful and, also, results in many more photos than anyone needs. I just found this one; I'd like to see it as a painting, slightly simplified--but retaining the shape of the tree, the fence, the clouds, the person.
This garden has a special resonance for me; my son-in-law showed me the place near his home town the year before her died. My son and his wife announced their pregnancy to us here. We try to eat here a couple of times a season, often as an anniversary or birthday celebration. I can recommend the dried whitefish, the potato pancakes with stewed apples and the pierogi without reservation. I should take pictures of the food this summer when we go there. The story of the restaurant is very interesting: it was founded by a Polish immigrant, Stanley Smolak (I think this was his name and will verify later,) who formed close ties to the native Odawa people. He was a sculptor in wood, using a lot of driftwood and often following the natural tendencies of the wood. His sculptures are throughout the restaurant and garden. The place is called Legs Inn because the the upended old enameled stove legs that form a sort of crown or battlement on the edge of the roof. Polish exchange students often summer here and work as waiters to practice their English. It's one of America's little interesting byway places.

At Pacific Grove, my grandson and his camera

I still have to write about this visit. But later.
But tonight my group of writers had our monthly meeting and it was very special. Our winter has been troubled with illnesses. Tonight everyone was back, except for Mary Lou. It is very intgeresting to see how peoples writing voices develop and become stronger, more focused and more original when they work together in this way. Tomorrow they announce the new Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, and I hope to write about the ceremony and the process here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First visit to the Redwoods. looking up

More on the fabulous visit! I had forgotten the special quality of light in the redwoods; I plan to go back before years and years have passed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The crowded kelp forest2

Honestly, I could go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and just watch this tank! The light is always glorious, and the fishy beings swim and swim. We took the grandson here and he liked it very much. More from the visit to come.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grandson at Fisherman's Wharf

You can see this is part of a continuing series on THE VISIT. We all had a great time. This was on the way to the bus tour in the brilliant California sun.

Husband and grandson in the redwoods

We hadn't been to Big Basin, to see the old-growth redwoods for a long time. I had forgotten how long and winding (and beautiful) the drive there was. We spent a couple of hours there and could easily have spent all day. It was Saturday, so many families were there enjoying the trails and picnic grounds. I never remember it being so crowded. All of our California State Parks deserve more support and maintenance than they are getting; it's my hope that we will be able to turn that around. It's a beautful place and made me very thankful for those who worked for its original protection--as the trees were falling all around. More on this special grandson visit coming soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coast Live Oak with my grandson in it

He hadn't been to California since he was one year old. Now he's a senior at Michigan State with his application in for their nursing program. He's been talking about coming for years and he finally made it. We've spent a lovely week. This was taken at the Highway 280 vista point above Crystal Springs Reservoir. More highlights to come.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

In the Print Room

In the Print Room
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is the teacher and two of the other printmakers in the class I keep mentioning. Alan May, the teacher, has been building his web site for months, but didn't want to put it up until it was completed. Now it is, and you can look at his art here.
The site is nicely designed and arranged into meaningful sections. These are arranged by media, as well as by exhibits he has held. As a poet, I especially appreciate the titles on his works. It has been a pleasure to associate with this group of artists. Both the women pictured are serious and committed artists.
I'm having a family visit (The Lure of California!) and may not be back in the blogosphere until next week. Good night,

My daughter and her firstborn 1987

I spent yesterday cleaning out one side of the garage, so an outlet could be installed. I found this picture in a box that was sent home from my office after I broke my hip and retired in November of 1999.
It's a pretty great find because this very baby is coming to visit us, and his uncles, on spring break from his senior year at Michigan State University. I have scanned this photo and will give him the original when he comes. My daughter really took to being a mother, as you can see.