Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grafton, Utah, Pioneer Church and home

I have to thank my brother for taking me here after our Redd pioneer reunion. After my visit I joined the the Society that is working to preserve this site. Grafton is located on a bend of the Virgin River in Souhern Utah. On Google maps you can clearly see the few town streets and the cemetery.
Notice how few the clouds are on this September Day. Notice that lack of rank weeds on the ground. This is a country with little moisture. And it is also a country subject to devastating flooding of the Virgin River. One of these floods could undo the work of several years, and the settlers were eventually so diuscouraged that they moved to other locations in Utah and Arizona.

It is also a country with an amazing natural setting. as seen here. behind this view of the large home still standing near the church:

And also here in the view across the eroded graves toward the eroded bluffs. The way the wind has blown the dirt away from the grave mounds demonstrates the bleak possibilities for farming here. It had been hoped that it would prove suitable for cotton farming.

I was reminded of my visit to Grafton today as I was looking at the new Acorn, an excellent small haiku magazine.

Here is tonight's poem:

                              winter wren
                              the unmarked grave
                              I know is here

                                                                  --Julie Warther, (Dover, Ohio) Acorn #31, Fall, 2013, page 25.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bad Lands at Many Removes

Tonight was a Camera Club of Eagle special meeting on Macro Photography. Instead of a special lens and a tripod, which I don't have here, I brought my Olloclip--to work with its Macro feature. I've seen good work done with this lens on Instagram and was hoping to try it out on lots of things. I was not totally happy with the results. Illumination is tricky, as is holding the phone still enough, But it got a good workout. Jane brought a lot of great stuff, mineral samples, all kinds of feathers, little baskets, knitting, and this reproduction of an old map. I like that in the closeup one can see the defects of the old printing process, in the incomplete letters and such. I love old maps, feathers and mineral samples, and here they all were together.

Posted by PicasaThis is what happens when I let my life pollute my literary blog. . . .And so to bed,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Twilight Moon above Pickerel Lake

Today was a  gorgeous, sunny autumnal extravaganza.
Sky, clouds and trees always give me such pleasure!
I just read David Lehman's book of daily poems, and it made me realize again
how difficult projects like this are, and what a genius Frank O'Hara was!

I would like to write a daily poem, but really doubt I would keep it up.
I have astonished myself with
the blog since this January First,
but I quite fear I am in danger of repeating myself.

Adam Zagajewski loves the earth, too. Here is another poem from Canvas, page 14.


There were evenings, as scarlet as Phoenician sails,
that soaked up the light and the air; I was suddenly nearly gasping;
for breath, blinded by the slanted rays
of the somnolent sun. This is how epochs end, I thought,
how overloaded ships sink, how the eyelids
of old theaters droop, and what's left is dust, smoke,
sharp stones underfoot, and fear looking like
joy, and the end, which is tranquility.

Soon enough, though, it turns out to be only another
dress rehearsal, one more frantic improvisation:
the extras go home, swallows fall asleep
in precarious nests, the provincial
moon timidly slips into place,
robbers steal wigs, a priest writes to his mother.

How patiently you prepare and enure us,
what time you lavish on us,
what a teacher of history you are, Earth!

                     ----Adam Zagajewski


Once again, this poet mixes BIG THOUGHT with the small things, like the nesting swallows
and with the big things like scarlet skies. If you think this is easy, you should try it for yourself.
His motions of thought are so graceful, that I am inspired to try again. Good Night, it is almost November!

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Monday, October 28, 2013

My grandson considers his carving

Well, it is that time of year. . . .  the Halloweeny, falling leaves, year-almost-over part of 2013. And, earlier this month it was more than 30 years since Glenn Gould suffered a stroke and died. But we still remember his playing, the tender, perfectly rendered notes, and the hums he made as the music took him out of himself. It's all art, isn't it?

Bill Holm also played the piano, it seems to have been an important part of his persona. One of his books is called Playing the Black Piano. This selection from that book is reprinted in The Chain Letter of the Soul, Milkweed Editions, 2009, page 169.

Glenn Gould   1932-1982

A man who played the piano with as much genius as it is possible
to contain in a human being said he trusted machines and elec-
tricity more than he trusted humans in a room. Henceforth, he
would play only for steel wire and thin tape, genius saved from
coughing, wheezing, and all possibility of disagreeable whispers
and remarks.
     He took his first machine, the piano, and chiseled, filed, and
muffled it until it suited his music and was like no other such
machine on earth--a name brand of one. He sat on his second 
machine, an old chair that squeaked and rocked and comforted
      He waited until the middle of the night to have perfect silence
for his music, then moved his two peculiar machines into a sealed,
sound-locked room where not even the vibration of a human foot
could ever be felt. There he played, safe at last from the rest of us,
and even, he thought, from himself.
      But when Bach or Haydn came on him, he started singing
in a low and ugly hum, out of tune with everything his hands
were doing. No machine could take this noise away or clear it
out without losing the music, too, so he was left with an awful
choice. Give up principle or give up beauty.
      He chose the music, hums and all, a glad hypocrite like us. 
Only failed ideals and wrong turning will ever get you anywhere
on earth or make anything with beauty or energy inside it. In the
Bach F# Minor Fugue, or the slow C major tune in the Haydn
sonata, the awful humming overwhelms the perfect technology
and everyone with ears tuned right is glad of it.
That hum is his ghost, still alive, but also it is the invisible
audience sneezing and hacking; it is the ignorant applause after
the wrong movement; it is pigeons in the rafters of the hall, 
cooing for bread; it is me blowing my nose and wiping my tears
of joy in this music---in this odd, grand failure of a man.
                                                  ----Bill Holm

This totally knocks me out! And now that Bill Holm, too, is gone, I like to think that the little bug he drew when he signed the copy I have now of Boxelder Bug Variations is a tiny bit of his spirit left behind. Sleep well tonight.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Mother Washes her AMX

Do not be misled by the fact that the camera has brought the verdant Ohio shrub in the background into sharp focus. The true and slightly blurred subject is my tiny mother, Olga, washing the sports car she bought and, the summer she was seventy, drove all over America for several months, visiting family, old and new friends, and places she used to live in or love. She drove a lot on non-freeway roads and stopped at many small roadside museums and made new friends, and probably gave them advice. She had always loved cars since she worked for the Dodge dealer in Mesa, Arizona,and bought her first car, a Dodge, naturally. She had to give up that car when she went to college.

Often, when she went for gas, people would ask her if she could be persuaded to sell the AMX. But, even after she quit driving, she kept this sports car until she left Shaker Heights to go and live near my sister, Susan, in Utah. And then she gave it to a friend,

Tonight, Jill made Scott a pumpkin cake and a scrumptious birthday dinner. And then we watched the World Series game 4. Red Sox and Cardinals now tied 2-2. Makes it more interesting, really.

Tonight's poem is one I've been saving for quite a while. It is the title poem from Adam Zagajewski's book, Canvas, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1991, page 81. The translators for this book are listed as Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry and C. K. Williams.


I stood in silence before a dark picture
before a canvas that might have been
coat, shirt, flag,
but had turned instead into the world.

I stood in silence before the dark canvas,
charged with delight and revolt and I thought
of the arts of painting and living,
of so many blank, bitter days,

of moments of helplessness
and my chilly imagination
that's the tongue of a bell
alive only when swaying,

striking what it loves,
loving what it strikes,
and it came to me that this canvas
could have become a winding-sheet, too.

                             * * * * * * *

I like the orderly presentation in four stanzas of four lines each. It supports the gradual unwinding of the order in which the thought progresses. Since the thought is bleak at the core, this orderliness is helpful in understanding without being overpowered. The first line, "I stood in silence before a dark picture," could be the taking-off point for other poems. I would like to see where it might take me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Highway 94

But, of course, besides the amber waves of grain, there was this , , ,

and this:

 Views like this:

And as in the Tolkien song" The Road Goes Ever On.

These are all iPhone5 pictures, unmodified or cropped and 
taken through the car-in-motion's window.
And, can it be that I have finally discovered how to make the Blogspot pictures larger?? 
Even TOO large.
This post is supposed to finish the trip pictures for now and force me to move on! 
We shall see. We shall see.

Friday, October 25, 2013


This was a month ago.  I think they had just seen me on the porch. All except the browser in the background. Do you think so, too? This was on the outstanding 5-deer day. But today I did see a wood duck on the railing in the backyard. So this place is not without its compensations. And when I have finished unpacking my cameras and laptops, I'll like it even better.

So here's Bill Holm's (see yesterday's post) poem about questions, also from The Chain Letter of the Soul, page 160.

Heavenly Length

Schubert does go on, doesn't he?
Don't you find him a bit much?
How much wine is enough 
to wash down the bread?
Is there water enough to cover
the barges under Lake Superior?
Does the sun put out too much light?
Are there enough words 
in the dictionary yet?
Too many teeth in the whale's jaw?
How many beautiful women
is too many? Will the men find them?
How much Schubert is too much?
Is it far from your left ear
to the top of the Greenland ice?
How many breaths do you intend 
to breathe before you die?
Do you want these questions answered?
Someone is singing a love song.
Careful! It's getting inside.

                                          ---Bill Holm

Can I write a poem with a lot of questions??? It's a good task. We shall see. . .

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Minnesota, I remember Bill Holm

Minnesota is beautiful. While traveling through it last week, I remembered the poet Bill Holm, whose books I found several years ago. He is descended from immigrants who came in the waves of  Icelandic-US immigration at the end of the 19th Century.  Although widely traveled, he spent much of his life in Minnesota, where he was born, and where he taught and wrote. Later in his life he spent summers in a small house in Brimnes, Iceland, with windows overlooking the sea. I was just looking him up in Wikipedia when I chanced upon this small (26 minute) video about him, which I why I am a little late starting to write tonight, since I watched the whole well-put-together thing.

Bill Holm has written the most delightful, original-concept book I know, Boxelder Bug Variations.  I am reminded how much I love it every late summer, when they start to try moving into the house of my daughter in their vast  bug multitudes. Here is a description of this slender, yellow-covered book from a review in Independent Publisher, reprinted on

"We move from poems to meditations, from a conversation with an entomologist to an essay on clavichords and fugues, from musical scores ("Boxelders on Parade," "Bach's Elder Lament," "Boxelder Gavotte") to fables, haiku, and even a bit of family and local history. In short, if it's hard to pin down exactly what this book is, it's not at all hard to be delighted, charmed, even provoked by it. What Holm ultimately reminds us has to do with overlooking the socalled insignificant things, and in so doing overlooking the power of imagination itself. For it is imagination that is the real subject of this book, as in this typically Holm-sian poem with the improbable title "Isak Dinesen, When She Was Old, Dined Only On Oysters, White Grapes, And Champagne. The Boxelder Bug, Too, practices A Parsimonious Though Elegant Diet": "The bug slides/out from behind/the radio dial/where all winter/he lived/eating music." For those of us who have not forgotten that small and unpretentious things are the most durable and surprising subjects for Art, this book is a rare, wonderful, and most welcome gift." 

Tonight I have chosen this poem to share from Holm's Playing the Black Piano, which was reprinted in his The Chain Letter of the Soul; new and selected poems, Milkweed Editions, 2009, page 157. This book would be a good place to see Bill Holm's poetry and pleasing persona.

Icelandic Recycling on a Summer Night

Toward midnight, the sky pinks up/
The low cloud at the bottom of Tindastoll
turns the color of wild grapes.
Inside four women sit around a table,
oblivious to natural phenomena,
folding plastic bags
into neat white triangles,
"Ever so much nicer to store!"
They are performing women's work:
Tidying up the garbage
until it looks like modern sculpture.
They have seen it all before:
midnight sun, revolution, disease, chaos.
Their female wisdom comprehends
there is nothing to be done about chaos,
except bring order and harmony
to plastic bags as if they were
wandering children needing to be tucked
in neatly for the long night.

                           -----Bill Holm

It seems to me that we know so much about war, murders, oppressions of one kind or another, that there is much we can gain by taking a longer view, and by trying to bring order and harmony where we are, and beginning to realize that we cannot cure all the world's ills and foolishness by throwing ourselves into counter-actions, or violent oppositions. I wish I knew how to put this in a better way and maybe even one as short as one haiku,

But that will be a job for tomorrow, and the next day.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


This was another roadside grabshot through the car window on the trip west. I was really going for some trees, clouds and sky, but I like the angle of this mailbox that I discovered in looking at the picture. The name on the box is LIEN. So this box is where someone I have never met gets their mail, and maybe also their used books from Amazon.

Today, I have been reading A Step From Death by Larry Woiwode; this copy used to belong to the Nampa Public Library. Reading this is either part of my Memoir Project (reading writer's memoirs or recommended memoirs, often not current ones) or my Writer's Biography Project (long-time readers of this blog may remember our trips through the lives of Thornton Wilder and George Eliot this year.) Or, most probably, both. I've never been fond of mysteries, speculative fiction or romances or historical novels. History, that's another matter! But biography and memoir have become just about my favorite reading matter. (Except for poetry, which I am constantly learning more about.)

The Woiwode book is sometimes written as if speaking to his son, Joseph. Woiwode's mind is all over the map, and he obviously thinks in an unusual, agglutinative and jumpy way. So, following his mind (so different from my own) is a very interesting exercise. He is, however, interested in living in a rural area, as am I, and making and fixing things with his hands, as I am. So I love following his trains of thought. Wherever.
Here are the second and third paragraphs from the very beginning of the book:

     "I was usually with my brother and a crowd of our friends, but at a distance, held apart in order to observe not only what we were up to but myself. In our age I would probably be classified as a borderline autistic or the victim of a many-lettered attention disorder, but that doesn't cause me concern and didn't then, or not unduly. It was my nature. I was in a trance or too busy, and it was only when my mother said I was acting groggy or unruly that I became aware of my state--in the same way I understood that my initials, when my middle name was included, spelled LAW, because she  also informed me of that.
       So, set apart is as close as I can come to defining the state I found myself in and still often enter. Some sort of slippage sets me there, in a displaced region that draws my attention as now, and I search through the past in a spill of words for the moment your voice took the tone of a voice from decades ago, a phenomenon that causes a phrase of yours to adhere--another person striding down through layers of dark, Each voice affects me more as I age, especially those whose intonations I no longer hear. Death."

It's been a good day, and a long one. I'm looking for tomorrow's poem now. Good Night!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Afternoon light on Silverwood Way

This is the welcome sight when we got here. The ducks came by a few minutes after I came out to take this photo. I'm out of cracked corn, but will replenish very soon. It is wonderful to be here at last, even after the special BIG SKY beauties of North Dakota and Montana in the last few days.This photo is a simple view of the sun on the lawn through trees. Tonight's poem is not quite that simple, but I think it repays careful attention. It's by a favorite poet of mine, Tomas Transtromer, whose work (in translation) I have loved ever since Bob Hass introduced him to our poetry class in the early 1980s. It is found on pages 50-51 of the slender book, INSPIRED NOTES; poems of Tomas Transtromer, translated by John F. Deane, which was published by Dedalus Press, Dublin, Ireland.

Shanghai Streets

The white butterfly in the park is being read by many.
      I love this cabbage butterfly as if it were a fluttering
      corner of truth itself.

At dawn the running crowds jump-start our silent planet.
Then the park fills up with people. Each one with eight
      faces polished like jade, for every situation, for
      avoiding blunders.
Each one also with the invisible face that reflects
      "something not to be mentioned."
Something that emerges in weary moments and is rank
      as a draught of viper brandy with its lasting scaly

The carp in the pond perpetually move, they swim even
      while they sleep, they are models for the faithful:
      always in motion.


Now it is mid-day. Laundry is fluttering in the grey sea
      winds high above the cyclists
who come in tight shoals. Watch out for the labyrinths
      off to either side!

I am surrounded by written characters I can't decipher,
     I am totally illiterate.
But I have paid as I ought and have receipts for
I have collected about me so many illegible receipts.
I am an old tree with withered leaves that are hanging
      on intact and cannot fall to the ground.

And a breath from the sea causes all these receipts to

                                        * * * * * *

I love the way this poem moves! I like the arrangement on the page, and the little narratives which expand, like the one about the receipts. I like the setting and I love the nature images. I particularly love the swift movement of the poem through so many human quandaries. I love the way the poet is present and becomes even more so in the last parts. It makes me want to stretch and stretch my imagination.

Tonight, through the magic of Netflix, my son showed us a documentary on twin boxers from Los Angeles. Boxing is hard work and I am not sure that the effort is well spent. I will have to work on why. There isn't much of a place for women, although in one of the final important bouts, the referee was a tall woman who looked like the actress who used to play Maud on the TV show. She was wearing a fitted white shirtwaist with belted slacks. It struck me funny, although I am sure she would have been insulted to hear me say so. In this competitive, violent, sweating world, there seemed very little time for reading or poetry. I would not be at home there, even if I had receipts for everything.
Sleep well.

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Now he is carrot sticks for the journey---

But don't you think he looks as if he is marching to the left wearing a backpack??
K gave us many fresh carrots just before we left. And I made them all into carrot sticks. I carried them with refreshed ice and we enjoyed them all the way for six days. I am sorry to have to say I cut him up, too. But I thought to take his portrait first.
My eyelids feel granulated, our Internet ain't on yet, and I haven't read anything today except some nice Tom Clausen haiku on Facebook. 
It was a great trip, and literature will return tomorrow. Good Night! 
(Posting from Hot Spot on S's phone.)

Addendum: although this post appeared on my phone as if it had been published, it was only there in draft form until I sent it up today. I am giving myself credit for a daily post anyway. There has only been one other time this year when the post didn't post and I put it up later. So, I still think I can credit myself with daily posts every day this year . . .

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Here we are at home.

It's a cozy space. We have guests tonight, but there will be a poem tomorrow! Good Night!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Past Is Present

"the biding and dreamy and victorious dust"

We pulled the Tundra over today by a deserted beer warehouse outside Bozeman because a little dog was crying in her kennel in the back seat. We had a nice walk in a weedy patch by the parking lot and gave her a drink of water. I noticed this then because of the white regular structure of the rib bones. By the shape, I thought at once, rabbit! It is beautiful, I think.

One of the things I was going to do in my retirement was to read more of our great American writer, William Faulkner. So I thought I had better get started. I chose Absalom, Absalom, since it is one of the highly regarded ones that I had not read. And then I forgot I had it on my Kindle. So here I am in this motel, the last night out in the early evening, dogs asleep on the bed, I start to read . . .  page 1, the setting is in a venerable house. I flipped to the second Kindle page. Faulkner has jumped right in, as they say "in medias res" not bothering with paragraphs, either. This is the passage I want to share tonight:

"There was a wistaria vine blooming for the second time that summer on a wooden trellis before one window, into which sparrows came now and then in random gusts, making a dry vivid dusty sound before going away: and opposite Quentin, Miss Coldfield in the eternal black which she had worn for forty-three years now, whether for sister, father or nonhusband none knew, sitting so bolt upright in the straight hard chair that was so tall for her that her legs hung straight and rigid as if she had iron shinbones and ankles, clear of the floor with that air of impotent and static rage like children's feet, and talking in that grim haggard amazed voice until at last listening would renege and hearing-sense self-confound and the long-dead object of her impotent yet indomitable frustration would appear, as though by outraged recapitulation evoked, quiet inattentive and harmless. out of the biding and dreamy and victorious dust."

(from the beginning of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom)

The version I have does spell wisteria like that. And so shall I, when I copy it. What I want you to remember is that the next time someone tells you: it is a mistake to use too many adjectives, or that you must always use commas in a certain way, or please make this paragraph into three paragraphs, each with a topic sentence (or some such) that this might not necessarily hold in all cases.

By the time the sparrows made a "dry vivid dusty sound" I was already captivated by this passage and, in a moment, read it aloud to S. That's three modifiers, no commas and absolute perfection. I will leave you to find all the other specific and word-rich places for yourselves. This is great, great writing. And now, goodnight.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wild Buffalo on the lawn

This had to be the event of the day! We stopped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Highway 94. It's a nice place to stop, easy to get to, not too crowded, and very uplifting to see. Signs abound advising you to not mess with buffalo, should you see any in the park! And, lo and behold, there was a buffalo standing in the shade of a tree by the Visitor's Center! Then he moved out and along the fence, browsing the trimmed grass as he went. Knocked me out! Paid no attention to the respectful attention from all of us. Many other cameras were also deployed. You can see a bit of the muted pastel beauty of the Badlands behind him.

It was interesting to see the contrast between his slender hind legs and his huge hairy hump! The light wasn't that great and his hair and eyes are so dark, that it was difficult to get all the detail I wanted. Also, he didn't do much but keep his head down munching grass, This did not show him to his best advantage, portrait-wise.

Speaking of the home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, today again we passed a great deal of highway carnage, many deer and a couple of pronghorn antelope, crushed and mangled on the Interstate. I guess trucks don't swerve for carcasses and may not even see them in the dark. This is the time of year when mating takes place and many animals lose a contest with a vehicle. But for animal lovers, this is a sad and sorry sight. There was too much of it on this whole trip.

I'm out of poems, so it will be haiku night:

sloping prairie
a herd of white cattle
in late autumn light


cottonwoods drest in Indian Yellow along the Yellowstone

This shows the perils fo trying to write haiku for immediate consumption. Go forth and write some better ones. I hope you'll have a day as beautiful as this one write in. And I've always wanted to write "dressed" like that. I know it's silly.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Amber Waves of Grain

Which fits, because, although it was probably supposed to be wheat in the patriotic song, this is corn, which surely qualifies as grain. Today, we drove all day across North Dakota on Highway 94, through all kinds of weather, cloudy, sunny, light rain, distant rain and always accompanied by gorgeous clouds. I took pictures from the moving car through the window and some of them came out surprisingly well. I will be looking for a book of photography of North Dakota. [Note: Just got Ghosts of North Dakota on Kindle! And found another good one to order a used copy.]

We saw mostly large fields, most of them probably agribusiness, of standing dry corn that will soon be harvested. We also saw some fields of what looked like dried-to-brown sunflowers of the kind that birdseed is made from, not the very tall ones. Perhaps those black sunflower seeds I get fot the chickadees are grown this way. There were fields and fields of them.

Today, on Facebook, two of my California poet-friends got acceptances for poems. This always reminds me that I stopped sending my poems out in 1992, when my job got so busy. I've always planned to start up again . . .  And then there are the haiku groups that I would like to participate more in.

And all day today I wanted to sketch: a row of three trees, a single tree, a barn, a belted cow; oh, a belted cow! So that's what I'm going to try now, after the poem,  in the tiny sketchbook I brought along.

Early Cutting

by Roland Flint

                    For Ed Elderman

 When they take the winter wheat at home
 all the other crops are green.
 In granaries and tight truck boxes
 farm boys are slow scoop-shovel metronomes
 singing harvest deep in the grain.

 The old men come out to watch, squat in the stubble,
 break a lump of dirt and look at it on their hands,
 and mumbling kernels of the sweet hard durum,
 they think how it survived the frozen ground
 unwinding at last to this perfect bread
 of their mouths.

Where they call it the Red River Valley of the North
 there are no mountains,
 the floor is wide as a glacial lake--Agassiz,
 the fields go steady to the horizon,
 sunflower, potato, summerfallow, corn,
 and so flat that a shallow ditch
 can make tractor drivers think of Columbus 
 and the edge.

Above  is a North Dakota poem I found using this website. I saw quite a bit of this today.The fields do go straight to the horizon! Sleep well, and write something down soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We got to Minnesota in the rain

And, as they say in Haiku World, "autumn is ending." The gutter in front of the motel is filled with fallen  leaves in the lightly falling rain.

This is a poem by Gary Snyder that was used on a Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival flyer several years back; it just turned up last week, when I turned out some piles of paper. This photo reminded me that I brought it along. We are not quite far enough west to use it yet, but we are getting there! And, trying to find a citation, I found that it has already been posted here and there many times. Here is another. . .

Piute Creek

One granite ridge
A tree would be enough
Or even a rock, a small creek.
A bark shred in a pool.
Hill beyong hill, folded and twisted
Tough trees crammed
In thin stone fractures
A huge moon on it all, is too much.
The mind wanders. A million
Summers, night air still and the rocks
Warm. Sky over endless mountains.
All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.
Words and books
Like a small creek off a high ledge
Gone in the dry air.

A clear attentive mind
Has no meaning but that
Which sees is truly seen.
No one loves rock, yet we are here.
Night chills. A flick
In the moonlight
Slips in Juniper shadow:
Back there unseen
Cold proud eyes
Of Cougar and Coyote
Watch me rise and go.
                          --Gary Snyder         [This is from his first book, Riprap.]

I got a double portion of learning by typing this tonight. I was on the last time, when I went to hit the shift bar for the capital W, when I must have hit the control key instead. I need to disable control keys, as I never use them, but, alas, hadn't done that either, if it is even possible. So I had to retype everything beginning with "All the junk that goes with being human" [Oops, I do use control keys to copy and paste!]. I noticed the special grace that the use of capital letters to begin each line brings to this poem. I like the variation in line length. I like that some parts punctuated like sentences are just phrases and others, sentences. I like the metaphors. I like the specificity of animate and inanimate nature in this mountain setting, and the capitalized Cougar and Coyote,
I like the deep observation.
I hope all of you have had the chance to hear Gary Snyder read his work. He has a distinctive voice and reads well. He manifests a seriousness that sometimes is hard to find, I've been happy visiting this place through this poem. And now to bed. Good night.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A pretty doll is like a melodeeeee

Here she is, for someone's doll collection! We got her mailed on the way out of town. I used enough bubble wrap to float a boat. Tonight we are in Ironwood, MI at the western edge of the Michigan's Upper Peninsula. There don't seem to be as many signs for Pasties and Dried Whitefish as I remembered. Tonight in the motel there was Chicken with Wild Rice Soup in a hotpot in the lobby. We just needed a little snack and there it was. Hit the spot.

                                                                               October 16, 2013
Dear Maurice Sendak in Heaven,
      Perhaps I never told you how much I liked Chicken Soup with Rice! Indeed, I loved all the Nutshell Library! I used the stories many times for Children's Storytime when I was the librarian of the Gilroy Library. Recently I got my own personal copy, not as small as the one I first loved, but very cute nonetheless. 

      The first time I worked in a library, I was a Library Assistant (while I went to Library School at Western Reserve) at the Arlington Branch Library (Cleveland Public Library.) This was in 1962 and 1963. Arlington Branch was near the Hough District in Cleveland. The neighborhood had recently changed from Jewish to Black. We had only one Jewish customer left, a semi-demented lady named Jeanette, who came in almost every day, but the book stock was completely unsuited to the clientele. There was, for instance, a large selection of Westerns gathering dust.
Children used to lean on the back of my desk chair and ask to touch my (long, straight) hair. My boss, Joyce Johnson, was a young black woman who grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She was the Children's Librarian for the branch. One day she came back from the meeting where all the children's librarians examined and ordered new books. She recounted how most of them were unwilling to order this new book Where the Wild Things Are that was violent and scary and could upset children. "I ordered two copies!" she said. Children are going to love it! She was very pleased when it won the Caldecott Medal for illustrated children's books that year. I just looked it up and it has sold about 20 million copies since then. It is much easier to look up things now, than when I was looking them up for people in the library.

       Just wanted you to know I love your stories and your pictures. Most of us do! Say hello to an archangel or something for me.
                                    With Love and Respect,

That's the memory thread for tonight, now I am going to test the motel shower. 
And sleep very well. You do, too!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The long road begins here

And we'll be driving away toward the bridge at Mackinaw City tomorrow morning. Then we will spend the day driving across the Upper Peninsula. Rain is predicted and much of the autumn color will probably be over by now; but it is always a pretty drive and not overcrowded. I am so tired I make a typo about every other word. Maybe I can do better than this from the motel tomorrow night. . .I guess we will all find out!

I heard something hopeful about the end of the government shutdown a while ago, but there has been no followup, so it was probably premature as of 10:12 p.m. Eastern Time, Sigh.

I am leaving this copy of The Great Enigma here. So here is one more Transtromer poem. I was going to save this one for November, but I didn't quite wait that long.

November with Nuances of Noble Fur

It was the sky's being so grey
that makes the ground begin to shine:
the meadows with their timid green,
the plowed fields dark as black bread.

There is the red wall of a barn.
And the acres under water
like shining rice paddies in an Asia---
the gulls stand there reminiscing.

Misty spaces deep in the woods
chiming softly against each other.
Inspiration that lives secluded
and flees among the trees like Nils Dacke.

Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robin Fulton, The Great Enigma, New Directions, 2006, page 52.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yesterday's Sunrise Revisited: in search of lost time

I'm still dining out on yesterday's sunrise with cloud! If this isn't gorgeous, I don't know what gorgeous is! However, I took hardly a picture today.

I got a lot of stuff loaded into the car, though, but of course there is still too much to do. We went back to a thrift store and that doll was still there and we got it for a dear relative's doll collection. I don't think she is reading this blog. . .   I am packing the curly-haired beauty in bubblewrap now. This doll is wearing an over-the-top vivid red-lilac dress with masses of ivory lace on the petticoats. Adorable!

While there, I got a dandy little straw bag for a sketchbook or camera outing. You can find such peculiar things in thrift stores; things you never knew you wanted. I shouldn't go, but the ones here are very nice, except for one called The Gold Mine, which didn't have one good-looking thing in it when we went. Shocking. I bought a Fostoria dish in my departed sister-in-laws pattern the day we first saw the doll. It looks very handsome on a little table in the family room. Does anyone remember Fostoria now? They had a nice smaller one from the turn of the century in the Moon and Stars pattern that I liked, but it was badly chipped. I will get to enjoy this sparkling dish less than a week before we leave. But I hope to be back in the spring. Meanwhile, the government is shut down in a silly squabble and huge numbers of families are affected by it. I am so angry (and weary of anger) that I could SPIT! (As someone used to say.)

I'm not feeling quite literary tonight. Sorting through things to bring reminds me of so many unfinished projects. I know nobody cares if I finish these self-assignments, but , , , at least I have posted every day this year. Hooray! Or some such.

chicken and dumplings
for a farewell dinner
--autumn wind

Sleep well.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What got me out of bed this morning

Was the dawning of a day with a line of crimson along the horizon. So I put my iPhone and my Olloclip lens in the pocket of my new polkadot nightgown (which I have named Peppermint Patty) slipped into those rubber clogs and went outside.

What followed was a series of glorious events with changing light. I tried out the lens and other camera functions, like a long skinny panorama made as you move your camera along a horizontal path. Over the next three hours, as the light changed and spread across the autumn trees, I took almost 400 pictures. This of course will enhance my digital archives storage problem. Right now it seems like it was worth it.

This is a fisheye view along the front of the house.

This is the west meadow as seen in the lower center of the picture above.

 This is the view to the south.

And this shows how that view looks from what I think of as the Picnic Porch, although we had few picnics there this year; it was a rough mosquito year with a wet spring and early summer.

And now you see this is a kind of threnody for autumn and for this place that I am packing now to leave. I think I will bring Peppermint Patty. And my Olloclip Lens. And, of course, my iPhone 5. The things we carry.

along the horizon
the crimson light of dawn
--autumn deepens

I started the notebook today with last night's poem by Transtromer. Did you write something or draw, or take a picture? Sleep soundly.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Going Away

When they saw me, they began to move away, slowly, keeping a dignified pace, as if to say: you don't really worry us. And now in a couple of days we ourselves are going away, hopefully not worn out from closing up here and packing. We just checked the weather again. The forecast has changed and we might be driving the first two days in the rain. And the truck shell has a little leak. I guess I'll put the canvas suitcase inside a plastic bag.

It will be tough to leave the spectacular clouds here. There is supposed to be a thunderstorm tonight but it hasn't started yet. Today I packed the embroidery I brought and never did a single stitch on. It's pretty, what is done. I'm having to leave a lot of poetry books here, but I have some there, also. Of course I tend to like new friends (books) better. Unless you speak of Transtromer, who has been a favorite since 1980 or so. So tonight, one more poem from Tomas, translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton.


I drag like a grapnel over the world's floor--
everything catches that I don't need.
Tired indignation. Glowing resignation.
The executioners fetch stone. God writes in the sand.

Silent rooms.
The furniture stands in the moonlight, ready to fly.
I walk slowly into myself
through a forest of empty suits of armor.

Tomas Transtromer, from The Great Enigma; new collected poems, translated by Robin Fulton. New Directions, 2006, page 172.

Each line in this poem is strong enough to begin another poem. I am writing them in a notebook and will work on this as a project. Lines two and three are good for two poems apiece, one for each sentence. This is the first time I have wanted to do something like this and I just thought of it while typing this eight-line beauty.
Sleep well and dream of clouds over an autumn landscape. Good night!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sheep in autumn sunlight

These are the adorable Shetlands whose winter rations we were picking up last night in Cheboygan. And the little red maple nearer the barn was planted by my grandson. He marked a red one on our land and dug it up when the limbs were bare. It had begun to grow well when it suffered a bad accident involving livestock, which broke most of it off. It is looking now to  be well on the way to recovery and should become a very nice tree; these things take a long time.
I think the way the afternoon sun hits the tops of their fleece is beautiful. When I was a child (I hope I have not Memory-Threaded this before) I got my concept of sheep from children's picture books, and maybe also from Grade School art in which we pasted cotton balls on that horrible brittle cream-colored paper and drew sheep legs and feet and a sheep head and tail on the paper, When I actually encountered real sheep I was shocked at how dirty the fleece was. I wonder how many incorrect perceptions I still have to fix in the next few years.

Well, it is night, and I didn't finish what I should have finished today to tidy up things here and pack for the long drive. Here is one of Pat Shelley's tanka from her The Rice Papers, Saratoga Trunk, 1992, p.11.

I shall never dread the night
or think it long
or close my eyes against her
For I am a dark child
and she is my mother

 * * * *

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Summer Evening--we pick up a load of hay

My daughter and I drove the Bronco out to Cheboygan to pick up a load of hay for the sheep and goats at Goatsbeard Farm. We were able to strap 29 bales on the trailer, but we had ordered 30 bales, so we put the last one in the back of the Bronco, All the way home, through Indian River and so forth, we could smell the sweet smell of fresh hay. I hadn't paid any attention to the age of hay before, but when I saw this I could tell it was good hay--still palely green, though dry, and so sweet-smelling! Really, it was the most lovely smell! I hadn't thought much about the smell of hay before, it's a mild, beautiful, fresh natural odor, if the hay is of good quality.

While they were loading the hay, I wandered all around and took pictures of the sunset, which was gorgeous in every direction.

Lately, I am trying to regard utility wires as a feature, rather than a bug.

This farm is on a high bank above the Black River in a very beautiful situation. Then we started home as the peach color slowly faded to lavender, beginning on the tops pf clouds. I don't know when I have seen a more varied and beautiful sunset, topped off with a crescent moon in the blue. blue sky.

It's been a busy day and, again, I haven't managed to look for a poem. Sleep well, I am tired enough, I think, tonight.
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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Altered Cloud, October Cloud

Today we were at another auto place getting the Michigan car ready to store. We waited in an alcove with chairs in a square. The dealership was busier than expected; we had to wait for some time. There were seven people there and ten chairs; so we could easily (as a nursery school teacher I knew used to say) "make new friends."

 Talking heads (some men, some women) from Fox News were raising their voices in an attempt to raise the blood pressures of anyone in earshot, whether they understood English or not.

Four of us were reading on Kindles, all different models. S had was reading Kindle on his phone. The only non-e-reader was a man who had worked for many years in an auto plant (this being Michigan.) He had a penetrating, loud voice. During the time we were there, we heard many stories of things he invented, bullied management into, saved thousands/millions of dollars, and so forth. Lots of stories, including cars he had ownded and their various vehicle-histories, including what happened to them after he sold them. Actually some of it was pretty interesting, especially his work on a team that built the all-aluminum car that took 600 pounds off the weight of the vehicle. This part of the tale had details about the differing structural properties of steel and aluminum that I didn't know. It is even possible that I would have chosen to listen to him, alas, in this case it was thrust upon us.

Just before her car was ready, the woman with a Black Labrador-Great Dane cross. (she had run over a spike) did a short riff on how she and her brother did their homework on the back of her father's duplicated sheets of auto specifications. This reminded me of my beloved father, whose leftover GE steel mill spec sheets were our family's standard writing paper for years. Now I wish I had kept one. Then she tugged on the dog's red leash and went to get her car.

And THEN, the man with the loud voice went home. There was an agreeable short silence, except for Fox News. But soon we Kindlers began to discuss our various models and where we got free books. The man with the Kindle Fire had web sites to recommend. He has 600 books and ONLY reads free ones! The woman with the gray model uses library books, and renews them if she has to. We had a short sidebar about my Paperwhite, and how the light works for reading in bed. [GREAT!]  Another woman belongs to a family group with Amazon, and all six of them read the books! I think we were about up to recommending many more specific titles when our car was ready. I think it is interesting that we ALL had Kindles, not other e-readers or tablets. I loved this sampling.

And now, near the end, having taken another track than I planned, I can finally mention the photo, which reminds me of the wonderful beauty of English landscape painting. I made it on my iPhone with the Pixlr app, while the Auto Man was talking. I used a photo I took on the Day of Clouds. (See the two previous pasts.) At once I was reminded of paintings in museums. I hope you like it, too.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

More from Big Cloud Day

I took this from upstairs and combined several shots in Autostitch when I was sitting around waiting for the Tundra to be serviced for the trip. Ferneliius Motors, the Toyota dealer is in Cheboygan. We went for the day and I took three cameras, planning to take pictures of Mullett Lake, the Cheboygan River and Lake Huron. So much for planning, but I did get the setup ready for carrying these cameras on the trips, in case I wind up using anything but the iPhone.
I kind of like some of these assembled pictures before I crop them. Here is another Cloud Day shot.

NOTE: all of these are much more fun if you enlarge with a single click on the picture!

If you look in the lower right corner, you can see how it overlaps the first shot. The leaning white aspen trunk is the clue.

And this was taken outside, of the view more toward the southeast.

This one overlaps, too. The road leads to a smaller red maple next to a taller yellowing maple.

As you can tell, my head is not in poetry tonight. I am fussing about the trip.. I plan to post from motels the way I did in May, Also, I am struggling with the blog concept. I'd like to shake it up a little and am not sure what changes I want to make.

plans for the future
whirl and ricochet
--autumn cloud

Good Night!