Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wanderers East, Wanderers West

I didn't put out corn, but my grasshoppers were fat and plentiful, and the turkey gang often strolled by. We missed them for a couple of years and wondered if there had been a turkey plague. Then someone told us that a lady who lived a mile or so away was feeding them and they had all gone there. We had forgotten about that until one afternoon we drove past at about four in the afternoon and saw them lined up against a fence, all looking at her house, waiting. There must have been between 40 and 50 of them. In a couple of intervening years, things have simmered down. Perhaps the grain had become too great an expense? But now they are back. This summer I saw a mother with five poults over a period of about a month. I'm pretty sure that the ancestors of these guys were reintroduced after being extirpated over most of their range in the Nineteenth Century.
[Alas, just posted by mistake, unfinished and with plenty of typographical errors. Now all fixed, I hope.]

There's a hummingbird poem in The New Yorker! November 25, 2013, page 84.


I thought she was exaggerating a little
when she said that every one of her hummingbirds--she had five--
has a distinct name and that they flew
freely in her garden, where they had
distinct feeders. "If not, they fight too much."

But it was like that, just like that:
I saw them once, when the house, alone,
invited a visit to the open back garden.

There they came flying like tiny
winged envoys
with urgent notices and warnings.
No name fit them well. Useless
words. Astonishment
at the rapid movement of the wings:
the not being able to look at them
the approach of their tiny hearts
beating so incredibly rapidly
close, very close,

and then suddenly shooting off, high,
Beings of our world but also of another,
only theirs.

*** Circe Maia  
(Translated from the Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thinking About Commerce

Well, I hope everyone escaped without death or hospitalization. Black Friday will be over in half an hour (Mountain Time) --we got back to the Daily Walk instead. I found this pair of brown-eyed beauties at the Alanson Riverfest Flea Market a few years ago. We went again this year, but the flea market seems to have lost its heart or something. like many other events of The Past.

I am thankful that I do not have to earn my bread by hauling junk around to jumble sales. But I do love to look (and to buy) at a really good jumble sale. And I love to photograph the ones with dolls.

Here are some sample short forms from Harryette Mullen's Urban Tumbleweed; notes from a tanka diary, Graywolf Press, 2013, page 67.

Today I give thanks for grace and mercy
bestowed upon me as I go on living,
like a turkey the president pardoned.

Airline passenger detained was no
fanatic hiding explosives. but a smuggler
with expensive lizards in his pants.

                          *** Harryette Mullen

We had a lovely turkey jumble plate for dinner thanks to Jill and her thoughtfully packed leftovers.
What did you eat?
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Stalking the elusive wild turkey

I always love seeing them, no matter how common they are at the Tip of the Mitt. On a day last summer, I stopped by the side of the road to watch this year's gang in that field across from the new Nature Preserve. Notice that the field has that lavender glow caused by the blooms of the dreaded invasive spotted knapweed. Not any more invasive than human beings perhaps, but harshly judged because it crowds out everything else. And drips a chemical on the ground that retards the sprouting of any seeds but its own.

Enough of that; here is a better view for TURKEY DAY! We are quite replete and gifted with leftovers for tomorrow. It was a great group with cousins, several sets of grandparents, and five hardworking cooks, plus S made his special pie. All I did was eat. We came home and had a nice long talk about some Thanksgivings of the Past. We have many memories at this point. When I was a child we often invited what I thought of as "loose people" who had moved away from their families to work in Schenectady.

The Past is such a curious Creature
to look her in the Face
a Transport may receipt us
or a Disgrace --

Unarmed if any meet her
I charge him fly
Her faded ammunition
Might yet reply.
                             --Emily Dickenson

That's a mysterious poem from Emily Dickenson; poems selected by Ted Hughes, page 41.
This is partly for Douglas; I don't quite understand it either.

I have to confess that I pumped this fellow's colors up a little bit; but they were all there!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pathos on the Pavement

These oak leaves reminded me of people--nearby, but separate. I also like that the large one has a folded arm. S's pies are cooling on the counter. Here comes Thanksgiving!

And here is the poem from the facing page of last night's poem "Loss" by A.R. Ammons.


All afternoon
the tree shadows, accelerating,
shot them back into infinity:
next morning
returned from the other
infinity and the
shadows caught ground
and through the morning, slowing,
hardened into noon.

A. R Ammons

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tonight's Contrail; near sunset

When we first went outside for the Daily Walk, I was trying to get a picture of this contrail, which of course didn't fit in the frame (or, the Short Form.) I wasn't thinking about combining until I took the sunset panoramas when we were almost home. So then I did this in Autostitch, a great and easy-to-use photo app for the iPhone. I am considering the odd shapes it makes (unless you crop it) as a feature, not a bug. I often like them, like an odd frame. John Marin used to make or paint weird frames for his paintings; it's a model.

Tonight we watched that American Experience on Jimi Hendrix, whose life also was a sort of short form, not even extending until age 30.

On the way home the sunset looked like this. This is a kind of slender panorama that the iPhone takes with the new iOS7. I'm not sure how it does it, but it is very simple. This is an open field across the street from the subdivision on which the owner grows alfalfa. It's the sort of place that won't last, but I enjoy it while it is here, because it opens out my heart. Sometimes a great flock of Canada Geese comes down in this field; once while it was snowing!

Remembering that my brother liked the poems of A. R. Ammons, I picked up The Selected Poems; an expanded edition, W.W. Norton, 1986, today. On page 56 is a short form from the same poet who wrote the book-long poem, Garbage.


When the sun
falls behind the sumac
thicket the 
yellow daisies
in diffuse evening shade
lose their 
rigorous attention
half-wild with loss
any way the wind does
and lift their
petals up
to float
off their stems
and go
               ---A. R. Ammons

Note the energy the short and very-short lines give this poem. The energy of "wild" and "turn" on lines of their own is balanced by rhythmic and poetic lines like "in diffuse evening shade" and "anyway the the wind does" and the lack of punctuation allows the petals to just "go." There is a companion poem on the facing page that will be here tomorrow. Good night.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Short Forms

This rime stayed on the leaves all day in the shade of the house. 
Two groundcovers that grow by the front door 
ornamented with fallen cottonwood leaves. 
I like the varied shapes and colors of the leaves

Today I got two books: New Goose (short poems Lorine Niedecker wrote between 1935 and 1945 in forms adapted from Mother Goose rhymes) and Urban Tumbleweed; notes from a tanka diary by Harryette Mullen. These poems from Mullen's daily walks are written in three lines, not five, and she tries to stay within the 31 syllable tanka form limits. Together with the newly arrived biannual Upstate Dim Sum 2013/II (a haiku periodical from a four-person group, with an invited guest for each issue) this has started me thinking about Short Forms for poetry. Besides haiku. What might one learn by writing a group of poems in related short forms? What things around one might affect them? I've written many haiku, but not very many tanka, and I don't recall ever using Mother Goose as a model. In Mullen's case, she used nature observations in her neighborhood and a local Botanic Garden to teach herself about living things, as well as to enrich her poetry.

One interesting thing about the Mother Goose poems is that they were written at the end of the Great Depression and during World Wat II. These were tough times for many Americans and Niedecker and her family and friends were much affected by hardships. The editor, Jenny Penberthy, makes the point that "The New Goose poems share the anti-authoritarian, subversive bent of their models, reflecting on the politics and economics of the time."

I'll share some examples from these books soon, For tonight, here is one of Tom Clausen's haiku from Upstate Dim Sum 2013/2, page 7.

glint from a car
a stray thought
of Camelot
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holding on to 2013: August Moon


While we won't know until we get far enough that we can look back, 2013 doesn't seem a swell year so far, but it ain't bad, really. It is just that, as one goes on, everything seems both more and less precious. Which makes me wish to hold onto the status quo, because a change might be worse. By now, this tall sugar maple at the Tip of the Mitt will have dropped its leaves. And we are here in Idaho feeding ducks on the lawn; they scrabble through the gold of cottonwood leaves for the cracked corn. Tonight is another very cold night with frost crystals on surfaces.

I've lost another book; even though I have a fairly good system of separating books into categories. Last night I was reading again in Elif Batuman's intelligent, wise and witty book called The Possessed; adventures with Russian books and the people who read them. When I read the part about Isaac Babel, I got copies of his biography and his translated diary. I can find the diary, but the biography has eluded me today, and I really want to read it! The story of Isaac Babel is another sad story of repression and death under Stalin, there are so many of these, and I should be able to skip it, but . . .

a lost biography
he always wore glasses
--glittering rime

One thing Ms. Batuman told about Babel is that the last photo, the after-arrest photo, shows him without his desperately-needed glasses--and with a very black eye. And that years later, after things changed somewhat and they released his file, there was ONE SHEET of paper in it, and even that had his death date given incorrectly.

Good night, and thanks for your encouraging messages, Larry and Patricia!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

August Twilight

These are the big windows through which I can take pictures of turkeys, cranes and deer when we are in Michigan. The windows face south and toward what seems to be a sort of beltway that animals travel--moving away from the houses up on the road and past us toward the deeper wood.

Last night (when I should have gone to sleep) I started Kindling the most delicious book about how much fiction Steinbeck put into his "non-fiction" bestseller Travels With Charley. (Surprise! He was a novelist!) A reporter decided to repeat the trip near the 50th anniversary of the original drive. He was looking for something he might be able to sell after he lost his newspaper job. The other fun thing about the book (I am only through New England and Maine and briefly into Canada; or, the first part of the 10,000 mile trip, and nearest to the Country of My Childhood in upstate New York) is that the reporter, Bill Steigerwald, is a crusty old libertarian, who occasionally toots a libertarian rant, so the contrast with Steinbeck's Lefty Politics is funny. The parts of the East he has been driving through so far are still suffering from the economic changes America has been through in the last fifty years, as many kinds of work left our shores. He is a good reporter in that he gives lots of background and statistics on the localities he visits. He knows how to select a telling detail. The book is called Dogging Steinbeck.

I am also reading about Dorothy Wordsworth; my interest in her was rekindled by the Coleridge two-volume biography by Richard Holmes. I read about her death and final years (very sad: depression, dementia and ill-health) before turning back to the beginning of The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth by Frances Wilson. Many years ago, a good friend told me that she herself didn't WANT to be a writer, she was a reader. I'm thinking that is my case, too. I have really enjoyed jumping around in these different books.

Very cold tonight, frost crystals on everything, and we are burning the little gas fire in the fake logs. The three small dogs are snuggled up in front of the fireplace.

This, Too, One Kind of Voice

After, I meant to cover the window
against the mountain lying brightly
under the moon. Where clouds passed over them,
bodies of dark hovered underneath, trembling
to separate light from lack. That trembling is one kind
of voice that asks never to be forsaken.
The egret in a pond of the mountain
asks this, too: she tips back her head
and calls out a sound like the length of her throat.
Nothing she can hear answers, but weeds
shiver on the bank.

Jennifer Boyden in The Mouths of Grazing Things, Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2010, page 43. (This book won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry.)

I've never heard an egret call; I need to look into this. But the weeds knock me out! Sleep well; I may need to put on an extra blanket.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wattles in Sunshine

We are getting close to Turkey Day. I have to admit this is my favorite feast and white meat, gravy, mashies, salad, cranberry relish and stuffing is my all-time favorite meal. I don't like the idea of the giant indoor turkey farm any more than I like feedlots, farrowing cages or any of the rest of it. My answer so far is to limit severely my use of these meats (and, really, let's face it, any meats) without becoming a crusader. This group of wild turkeys visited our meadow all summer. On this day, the blood in their wattles caught the sunlight in a fine way. I hope they are still wandering around the no-hunting Nature Preserve that we have established there. They'll need to watch out for the coyote, who is also preserved. For such heavy, ungainly birds, they fly surprisingly well. I don't think they cover long distances, we usually see them walking around. (On this day, I think they were scoring grasshoppers.) Their rapid, noisy flight into a tree is quite spectacular. When a mother turkey has poults, she takes them to roost in a tree at night as soon as they are able to fly.
At the end of the year, I plan to reread this year's posts before I decide whether to embark on another year of daily posting. In the past, intermittent posting hasn't really worked very well . . . But, especially when I am a little more  tired than usual, the posts snuggle closer to the "I did this, then I did that" that I had promised to avoid.

Turkeys have a kind of plainness and ungainliness that reminded me of Lorine Neidecker, her life and poems. Audubon's great engraving of a tom turkey with his head bent round to fit on the engraving plate can be seen here, as well as many other sites on the Web.
Here is Lorine Niedecker's short poem from her recently published Lorine Neidecker; Collected Works, edited by Jenny Penberthy, available also on Kindle, so one can read them on one's smartphone. This is a good idea, since they are so pithy; they make perfect smartphone reading.


Tried selling my pictures. In jail

twice for debt. My companion

a sharp frosty gale.
         In England, unpacked 

them with fear:

must I migrate back

into the woods unknown, strange 

to all but the birds I paint?

Dear Lucy, the servants here

move quiet

as killdeer.

     ---Lorine Niedecker

Lucy was Audubon's long-suffering wife. By the way, I can definitely recommend the book, Audubon; the making of an American by Richard Rhodes. Do you have your turkey yet???

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Verdant Memory

"Another wood, the bright one." Deer, grasses, maple, spruce. Mid-August.
I think this doe can see me taking pictures through the window.

On the Daily Walk today, it was very, very cold with some wind. How quickly the summer was gone! I did manage to finish Dark Visions, the first volume of Coleridge's biography by Richard Holmes. And I've taken a tiny start at Volume Two. I keep wishing to tell Coleridge to lay off the laudanum, but it is 200 years too late. The first book ends with the beginning of his voyage to Gibraltar in April, 1804. The second volume begins with the voyage; he has to share the cabin with a drunken Lieutenant on half pay and a merry fat lady. He measured his bunk and it was 20 inches wide! I guess I prefer the way we do things now.

[Aside: S's laptop (the power plug slips, but not all the way out) just told him to "plug in or find another power choice."
"Like what," he screams, "a waterwheel.??"]

And here, to go with this verdant photograph is Tomas Transtromer's Madrigal. It is in Inspired Notes; poems of Tomas Transtromer translated by John F. Deane, page 65.


I inherited a dark wood to which I seldom go. But a day
will come when the dead and the living change places.
Then the wood will begin to stir. We are not without
hope. The most serious crimes remain unsolved despite
the efforts of many policemen. In the same way there
exists, somewhere in our lives, a great love, unsolved. I
inherited a dark wood but today I am going into another 
wood, the bright one. Every living thing that sings,
wriggles, oscillates and crawls! It is spring and the air is 
very strong. I have a degree from oblivion's university
and am as emptyhanded as the shirt on the clothesline.

Tomas Transtromer

It interests me that this is a prose poem, but that some of the linebreaks, which I have reproduced, are still very interesting. S. doesn't think there is any such thing as a prose poem. . . I like them, but I do so appreciate the way the music is enhanced by good linebreaks. Spellcheck doesn't like "linebreak" or "spellcheck" either, but I am a BIG FAN of compounded words, especially in poems.
It is after midnight now and frost crystals cover the ground in Eagle, Idaho, named for the bird. Fly to bed!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Tonight was another Camera Club of Eagle meeting. Lovely people, a little too invested in camera equipment, perhaps. I feel like I went through that when I got my Minoltas and kept upgrading until they stopped making them and my lenses were obsolete. So that's where my head is right now; let's not start this again! And it was funny just now to find this picture I took last year of the soda machine that no longer lives in an alcove at Eagle City Hall, where we have the Camera Club meetings. I loved it for the sign: MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH. As indeed, what may not?

Just before I go to sleep, I have been Kindle-reading Bibliodeath; my archives (with life in footnotes) which is a new book by Andrei Codrescu. Since he questions everything, it does cause me to pay attention. I don't think I ask enough questions--and the world has been pretty smooth for me so far. Codrescu is also very funny and genuine. I met him once, years ago after a reading in San Jose, and when a small group of us went out afterwards, he was more present and genuinely human than any of the other imported writers.

I am sorry now that I never got to hear Bill Holm read in person. But I've heard a lot of great poetry readings and shouldn't complain (too much.) Here's another poem from Holm's Playing the Black Piano, Milkweed Editions, 2000, pages 84 and 85.


Always the kid's job to kill thistles.
Strap on your tin tank of 2-4D.
Raise up your sprayer with its plastic hose,
The umbilical cord for the poison.
They stand there, arrogantly alive
In the wheat, flax, oats, beans, alfalfa:
Golden flower sow thistle,
Purple horny Canadians,
Bull thistle, pig weed, buffalo burr, cockleburr.
Dowse them with death mist.
At first they feel nothing,
No trembling in the armored stalk,
But come back tomorrow--
Dried heads slumped to one side,
Green leaching toward corpse gray.
In a week they'll be finished.
Does the wheat smile? Does the alfalfa sigh?
Does the flax nod as it it wished
To pat you on the head and say:
Good boy. Job well done.
That's farm work for children.
Behead the chickens, castrate the pigs,
Poison the thistles. Teach them
What the world is going to be like.
Don't weep too hard for the thistles,
They will be back next year.
They will outlast you. Always.
That's what you learn from them.

# # # # #

Good night, Bill Holm, in your eternal sleep. We'll treasure your books always.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Autumn Leaves that have fallen long ago

This is my little blonde sister with autumn maple leaves from nearly sixty years ago. I'm thinking this was a Kodachrome slide because of the way the color has lasted. If you are still wondering about what to do about the family slides, here's a hint! Get them scanned soon!!! What fun it is to be able to look at them again! I could wish Mom had pointed the camera a little lower, but this is what I have and I am very glad to have it. When I went away to college, this child was three years old! I would hardly know her at all if my parents hadn't invited my young family to live with them while my husband finished his education after his Army service; I got acquainted with her then.


Basho was the great Japanese poet who reinvented haiku so that we all could have this poetry in our lives. And there are many translators who have given us English versions of his writings in both prose and verse.

Autumnal haiku carry the sadness of the passage of spring and summer and the approach of the bitter cold of winter. A haiku about "turning leaves" or "falling leaves" thus carries some of the melancholy freight of this season. Here are some of Basho's autumn haiku as translated by Jane Reichhold.

departing autumn
with hands spread open
chestnut burs

autumn deepens
the man next door
how is he doing

I go
and you remain
two autumns

on a bare branch
a crow has settled
autumn dusk

this autumn
as reason for growing old
a cloud and a bird

These are available here, and also in her book, Basho; the complete haiku. There isn't any better place to start reading haiku than the work of Basho. Many good versions can be found by a Google Search such as "haiku by Basho." Here are some of the most well-known quotations from Basho's work as collected in Wikiquote. Other good classic haiku poets to look for are: Buson, Issa and Shiki. The book The Essential Haiku; versions of Basho, Buson and Issa by Robert Hass is another great place to start!

autumn dream--
back in my attic bedroom
watching the moon

June Hopper Hymas

I read recently of a challenge: write 10 haiku a day for 10 days. If I need to find some other resolve for the New Year, that might be a good one. Perhaps I will will have worn out the Daily Blog by December 31st.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 18, 2013

My father poses with a statue

This is another family slide scanned from the mid-1950s. (A single click will enlarge the picture.) I know the live person is my father, Jack Hicks Hopper, but the the fellow the statue was modeled on (with the aggressive center part) doesn't resemble Stalin, say. I'm thinking Dad is standing in a used tank with a gun turret and quite awesome metal treads. I notice the pansies growing, which says spring or early summer. I thought at first that the dried foliage in front might be in homage to agriculture, like wheat or corn, but when I enlarged the picture, it looks very much like dry hemlock branches. Which--if it is--is a hot fire waiting to happen. What is the purpose or meaning of this?

I know my father visited Europe around 1953. This seems like Europe to me. There's a car on the left, who knows cars?

Tonight's poem has nothing to do with tanks.


This World is not Conclusion
A species stands beyond -
Invisible, as Music -
But positive, as Sound -
It beckons, and it baffles -
Philosophy - don't know -
And through a Riddle, at the last -
Sagacity, must go -
To guess it, puzzles scholars -
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown -
Faith slips - and laughs and rallies -
Blushes, if any see -
Plucks at a twig of Evidence -
And asks a Vane, the way -
Much Gesture, from the pulpit -
Strong Hallelujahs roll -
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul -
                                                                                        (circa 1862)
----From Emily Dickenson; Poems Selected by Ted Hughes, Faber & Faber, (1968) 2004.

This is a pretty terrific poem. It is full of interesting phrases! And Look at the CAPITALIZATION! Why capitalize Men, but not scholars? Why Vane and not twig? Why Tooth, but not soul? Your challenge tonight is to write a short poem with a lot of capitals. You should probably also begin each line with a Capital Letter. Try to make it about one of the Big Questions, but that is not an absolute Requirement. Send it to me. Sleep well, you will need strength for this!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Musicale; a memory thread

This is a memory thread with another of my mother's slides which I had scanned this year. I am the Big Sister. My brother Richard is at the piano. Little sister Marjory has been cut off at the right side. David (brown suit) and Robert (blue suit) are between us. Since I am wearing my wedding ring, and I made that skirt after I married (with fabric Mom gave me) it is most probably 1957. I do not recognize the hall, but this is perhaps a practice or performance of a song, probably for Church. I am quite fond of the Mature Big-Sisterly Look I am casting on my brothers. Such a long time ago. . .

I have spent the day with Coleridge, and will soon finish Volume I of the Richard Holmes biography. It never fails to be extremely interesting and well-written. The research and citations of other people's researches over the past 200 years is quite awe-inspiring. And I am quite sure by now that Coleridge is worth the effort. The overblown language of many of these poems can properly be called "Romantic" and can be slightly too rich and off-putting to contemporary ears, but when carefully read, it shows the amazing versatility of the English language in all its splendor and power. In the part I have just finished, Coleridge has written "Dejection: An Ode." There are eight stanzas and a short introduction. Here is the first part:

Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon,
With the old moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.

                                  --Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence

Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Aeolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live!

----Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1802

You can read the whole poem at this link.

There is a good treatment at another link of the famous Coleridge poem: Dejection: An Ode. It also discusses Odes in general. When I think of how easy it is to find this sort of information on the WWW, it makes me grateful. There are many accounts in the Coleridge biography of borrowed books, the necessity of learning other languages to read European literatures, the travel to libraries and great houses where books were stored. Then one had to copy the parts one wanted to keep and refer to by hand with a pen and ink.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Somewhere in Minnesota in mid-October

And tonight I am somewhere in Idaho planning a post which gets in before 12:00 California time, which seems to be the time which Google is using for these posts. Fudging, if not an actual cheat, but I am so close to the end of this year of posting. So close. . . . There are excuses, but they are boring. . .


No way of knowing 
when this song began.
Does the thief rustle to its tune? . . . .
Does the prince of mosquitoes hum it?

O, if I could speak once more
about nothing at all,
blaze up like a struck match,
nudge night awake with my shoulder,

heave up the smothering haystack,
the muffling hat of air,
shake out the stitches
of the sack of caraway seeds.

Then the pink hot knot of blood,
the hushing of these dry grasses
would be here in their trance after
a century, a hayloft, a dream.

                            ---Osip Mandelstam, 1922

From The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown and W.S. Merwin, NYRB Classics, page 42.

I think this poem has many beauties. I am so far removed from Mandelstam by time and language that it seems I might never truly understand why he is regarded as such a great poet. But any one of these lines could serve to begin a new poem. Sleep well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A cat called Maple

When on doubt on what to post, remember the useful and popular cat! This particular one was a mouser on Goatsbeard Farm for many years. I got this look when attempting her portrait one fine day in late winter about a dozen years ago. I think it is pretty spectacular. I particularly like her amber eyes. Does she make you think of an apology you forgot to give? Go and get that accomplished. Are you saving money for your retirement? Well, get going!


You talk to your loved ones

at night. It is a kind of modernism:

color sees into you, thinks a warm

path, a tint of meaning brought

from how you feel. Then, you are double:

the owl calls out, tyto alba,

in your sleep—scrip scrr—heart-shaped face

emitting loose nouns … Under its turf,

the smart mouse turns; the fierce dead

merge with the recently born

where earlier they emptied what you seek—

How will you be known? Some

registered complaints. You passed them

in the hallway, their new haircuts.

The bosses are known by new wars.

What salmon are left hurry upstream—

cold swaths in the bay. Linnets, by

rose fire at the edges—(linnet or finch?

the word edge has wings made of “e”);

the moon rests in a mantle

of minutes, its boundaries in back

of the trees. Boundaries

are known by their nothings—;

you will be known by your dreams.
---Brenda Hillman

I hadn't known about this site (I found it looking for something else) and will have to return and spend more time. This was posted last year. I hope it continues. Sleep well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Needles of the pine

This is another Daily Walk photograph. I love the way the fallen needles interlace, the varying angles that they form and how one can still see the lawn grasses underneath. It's been quite a tiring day
and this poem by Emily Dickenson (#668) pleases me tonight.

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Distant Hills from Glenwood Avenue

Beautiful things that one sees are not always caught by the lens. I love this view of the mountains east of the Treasure Valley (wherein lies Boise.) There is a certain kind of blue-gray late afternoon light in the fall that I particularly like.

Today, in the biography (see previous posts) Coleridge has been taking those prodigious long walks with Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, she whose careful journal has been helping biographers of the Romantic poets ever since. They spend a lot of time looking at a river, so much so, that there is a report abroad that they are spies for a French invasion. There are also views of the sea. They walk tremendous distances, distances that would kill most of us. They are exploring all the currents of thought as the 18th century comes to a close. It is an interesting time, and the biographer has given enough background to make it come alive. Coleridge has been given (without asking for it) an annual grant--no strings attached--from one of the Wedgewoods of pottery fame. A lucky break, particularly for his wife, who might have really suffered the most under their dire financial constraints. Already, she has one child, which came early and she delivered it herself without a midwife. This child, Hartley, is thriving now. Then she has had an early miscarriage. She does not come along on the splendid long poetry walks.

Tonight's poem is more Bill Holm, from Playing the Black Piano,
Milkweed Editions, 2004, page 76.


If you turn your back to the ocean
Do you think the tide will not find you
If it decides to rise a little higher
Than usual, to swallow an extra helping 
Of gravel, to suck on your bones to clean
Its palate? The sea eats what it pleases
Whether you face it or give it your back.
No use having opinions about this.
But the sea does not hate you, or imagine
That you have wounded it with your avarice.
You cannot blaspheme the honor of water
Or insult the tide for tasting of salt.
Only humans, so newly risen from fish,
Imagine drowning each other for reasons.

                        **     Bill Holm  **

This poem has, line by line, given me a lot to think about. Take the statements, one by one, and expand on each one in your mind. Use a phrase to begin a poem of your own. I'm planning to try that!

Monday, November 11, 2013


Well, by 1795 it seems to be over about Pantisocracy on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Coleridge and Robert Southey have had a big dustup and parted ways forever. So the stage is set for the entrance of Wordsworth and Dorothy and eventually for the fine old Ancient Mariner. This book, Coleridge; Early Visions by Richard Holmes continues to be extremely well-written and the product of almost unimaginable research. I am delighted to have found it. And am looking forward (soon, I hope. . .but things take time) to Volume II, Coleridge; Darker Reflections.

Above is a pictured place I could wish to start my own agricultural colony, although the winters are pretty bleak in these parts. It's another Highway 94 fromthecar shot from the trip west, like I promised here that I was through posting, but I love to keep sifting through them. . .   I was struck by the blue sky caught in the pond and the situation of the house. I imagine they have harvested the standing corn by now. When one drives through these plains at harvest time, it is astonishing to see the stream of golden corn pouring from the harvester's outlet pipe into the waiting truck. If one learns anything about the SCALE of agricultural production, it is always full of astonishing information about huge amounts of produce.
Today we went to the Egg Factory so that Scott could get pancakes and I could get The Electric Pig, a fried sandwich containing only items that have lots of fats, ham, bacon, cheese, etc. We also had their delicious chunks called Factory Potatoes. Scott had sourdough toast and they brought us a dish of their special Marionberry Jam. Curious about how Marionberries might differ from blackberries, I checked Wikipedia on the iPhone. Here's the link to this fascinating hybrid. (I was advised to go to a slightly different article for Marion Berry, who used to be mayor of Washington D.C. Quite another story.) A single Oregon acre can produce up to six tons of Marionberries at harvest. My questions: who is picking all these berries? What about the thorns? Is there a berry harvester? What does a ton of berries look like? The jam is utterly delicious, by the way, just about perfect.

And so, with corn and berries, we are stuck here on the ground. There have been small flocks of Canada Geese in the air, whenever we went out. I think I have mentioned before that fine haiku magazine, Acorn. Here is Ferris Gilli's haiku from the current issue, page 2;

overcast morning
the roadworker's gaze
on southbound geese

And now good night!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oak Leaves

This club of oak trees has several members growing in this neighborhood. The fallen leaves shine as if they had been cut from leather. Had another Daily Walk today and got cookies & cider or hot chocolate in the park at a small soiree for the neighborhood council. Several small and well-behaved dogs also came, but I didn't see anyone feed them cookies. The weather was perfect, as could be hoped for, but not expected, in November.

Coleridge (In Coleridge; Early Visions) is still dithering about whom to marry, but got the word from Mary Evans in this installment that she had chosen someone with better prospects. So he has (re)turned to Sara Fricker, the sister of Robert Southey's betrothed. He has also taken up the money making career of giving popular lectures at a shilling. They are very popular, but stirred up the populace dangerously, so he prudently gave them up. (It made me wonder: if I gave a lecture and charged, say, a quarter, would I even make gas money? Both poets are still planning a commune on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

(Memory Thread Alert!) My family went for a day trip to the Susquehanna when I was in Junior High. The founder of our church, Joseph Smith, was baptized here, according to the story, by Heavenly Beings. This part of Pennsylvania is quite lovely, wooded and verdant. The riverbank had many of those flat, rounded stones. We brought enough home to make the car ride low. My mother used them to make a rock garden on the slope where we had removed a cobblestone retaining wall with a cement slab top. I used to play here endlessly. She sent for rock garden plants; I loved the Hens and Chickens. We spent much time nurturing the plants we sent away for. And in a few years we moved to The Farm and left Scotia behind. The other night I looked on Google Earth to see if the house was still there. It is, and it looks great!

The rock garden is gone; a very similar retaining wall has replaced it.
And so things go; everything changes
and everything remains the same.

Here is a small memory thread poem from Stay Illusion by Lucie Brock-Broido, Knopf, 2013, page 87.
This is one of the most BEAUTIFUL poetry books I have held recently!

Medieval Warm Time

Before the Iron Curtain, before the sadder
Century, the one I was born into as
A little Cosmonaut, creeping in bomb shelters
With Mr. White, the school custodian
Who shoveled the coal while I occupied the alcove
Of my ways, it was so warm inside.
That ice age was a little one, a few hundred years about
One thousand years ago. That was all before buttons
And their holes has been considered closure,
Before there was a left shoe from the right.
My mother's hair was ginger-colored, somewhere where
                       It's even colder than it will ever be again.
Everything I ever wished for----
A Dalmatian bounding spotted through the snow.

                        ---Lucie Brock-Broido

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Coming to to Bozeman at Sunset

Whoops! How do you spell that anyway? The exclamation, I mean, not Bozeman. I just looked up Bozeman and found out that Mr. Bozeman named it after himself; and why not, I say?? I put this photo up earlier to test how it looked and didn't mean it to be THE one for tonight. But it is. We were driving along minding our business and now I guess I understand the song about the "lemon-colored sky." There it was, truly lemony, below that incredible shape of cloud, with just a little city skyline to anchor it. And darkness coming on all around. . .and the road leading into it. The road.

Remind you of Iceland? I thought not. But poets overcome small obstacles like time and place.
Here is some more from Bill Holm's Playing the Black Piano, Milkweed Editions, 2004, page 5.


How the old Chinese poets would have admired Iceland!
Everything appears one at a time, at great distance:
one yellow wildflower. one brown bird, one white horse,
one old ramshackle farm, looking small and far away
with its polka-dot sheep and that ten-mile-long
black mountain lowering behind it. One farmer
the size of a matchstick walks out of his thimble barn
to his postage-stamp hayfield while
over his head a river falls half a mile
off a cliff,a silver knitting needle
that disappears for the length of a finger.
Still you can see the farmer, even from this distance,
his tiny black boots, his brown coat, his blue hat,
his moustache, his slightly bloodshot eye
in which you can just make out the reflection
of the Atlantic Ocean and the whole sky.

                            ---------- Bill Holm

Wang Wei, was the 8th Century Chinese Poet, whose works are still held in high regard, 

I love the way familiar domestic items are used as references to size in this poem. After a name like Skagafjord! And the way the whole poem is leading you toward the broad expanses of the Atlantic. Iceland must be truly beautiful, if cold. There are pictures of Iceland on Flickr that are truly glorious! Imagine yourself there! Maybe I can dream about it!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Christmas shopping

Whitney started her Christmas shopping today and mentioned it on Facebook. Made me feel sort of like this, with little hairy nubs in my brain. But I do love playing with the TangledFX app on this view of my Michigan meadow. I've been told that snow has fallen here since we left. Sigh. I am trying to blog from iPad tonight. Turning out not to be a good idea. . . Because it won't let me write below the photo. A year's blogging is coming down the home stretch and I have some end-of-race fatigue. So this is it for tonight. Are you doing shopping already???

Thursday, November 07, 2013


This is one of the first things I made with a now defunct program from Great Britain called BUZZ Simplify. Someone recently told me that there is a Topaz Simplify Filter with similar capabilities, but my appetite for software has diminished, due to how it goes out of date and represents wasted money. This image was based on a group of quaking aspens in the backyard of the Michigan place. They often remind me of a group of similar trees along the Epte River that Monet used to paint; when the owner was going to cut and sell them, I seem to remember, Monet paid him to leave them there, until he was through with painting them. Yep, and I just found a link. (Above.)

Anyway  BUZZ will no longer work with more modern operating systems, and so I am left with this and a few others. This is my favorite; I was surprised when I found I had never put it on my blog. The shape also reminds me of kimono--wouldn't you like to have one just like this?? And the late summer skies in Northern Michigan are just this blue.

This kind of getting the essence of something reminds me of haiku. Simplicity, essence, beauty.

raking leaves
our new neighbor
also has a tremor

the swings in the neighborhood park

These are from our second walk in the New Daily Walk Project. Yesterday.
Today we had no time to take the third one but we did:

1) get hearing aid repaired
2) have excellent consultation on Sleep Apnea with quality referrals
3) purchase spindle-back chair for seated exercise
4)eat quesadilla, burrito and fantastic avocado-chunk guacamole (Baja Fresh)

And so to bed, after a short snack of Coleridge. . .Hope you had a productive day.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Primary Colors, Red, Yellow, Blue

One of the early things about grade school I remember. Do they even teach it any more? Primary colors; secondary colors; tertiary colors . . . What would I think it important for grade school children to know now? Will they learn it? Will they care? It is sort of terrifying to think that they will no longer have to practice handwriting. But I remember hating the boredom of doing the same thing over and over, even though I thought I did it just fine. I can almost feel the texture of the pale green paper cover on the Palmer Method flexible book.

I read an oldish interview with Ha Jin from the Paris Review Facebook link today; it was great and very informative. I have really been enjoying these things from PR. I had heard Jin's name and didn't know anything about this Chinese-American writer (who writes in English) with the fascinating life. I've just now ordered some of his books. (Because I don't have enough reading already lined up? He writes poetry, too.
When he took a class from my beloved Frank Bidart, Bidart showed the poem to the Paris Review, which printed it. And of such stories is the life of writing made. Ha Jin was studying here at the time of  the Tiananmen Square Protests, and never went back to China.

I think the line of primary yellow in the photo above is a mustard field, or rapeseed for oil; we saw it on the way here last year. Tonight in the Camera Club of Eagle, Jane showed pictures of oollites that she took in a place near here. Here is a paragraph about the oolites found here (and the ancient Lake Idaho) from Wikipedia:

"One of the world's largest freshwater lakebed oolites is the Shoofly Oolite, a section of the Glenns Ferry Formation on southwestern Idaho's Snake River Plain. 10 million years ago, the Plain formed the bed of Lake Idaho. Wave action in the lake washed sediments back and forth in the shallows on the southwestern shore, forming ooids and depositing them on steeper benches near the shore in 2- to 40-feet thicknesses. When the lake drained (2 to 4 million years ago), the oolite was left behind, along with siltstone, volcanic tuffs and alluvium from adjacent mountain slopes. The other sediments eroded away, while the more resistant oolite weathered into hummocks, small arches and other intriguing natural "sculptures." The Shoofly Oolite lies on public land west of Bruneau, Idaho managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The physical and chemical properties of the Shoofly Oolite are the setting for a suite of rare plants, which the BLM protects through land use management and on-site interpretation."

So, very cool! I hope to make a field trip there. Maybe when the wildflowers bloom. And so, again planning, again getting more reading than I can ever finish, and keeping on keeping on. . . We did our third walk this afternoon, and I wrote haiku! Still no sketching, but the materials are all out! Sleep well.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Line of Trees

This is one of those pictures that is not very pretty, but that has a quality that I like. There is the bleak line of leafless trees in Eastern North Dakota, near several refuges for migratory wildfowl. There are the heavy moisture-laden autumn clouds. I like the way the light comes down on the left side of the photo. I like the layers of muted color. The glimpse of passenger-side rear view mirror shows where I am. There is as well, the gold of a cultivated field and beyond that, a darker field where Black Angus are grazing. I don't know what the State Animal of North Dakota is, but I could nominate the Black Angus. My uncle Windy used to raise them as a sideline on an old farm near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. My Aunt Dorothy was responsible for getting them back into the field if they broke out while Uncle Windy was at work. She sipped delicately at a teacup when I took my new husband to meet her and called the creatures Black Bastards. This delicate turn of phrase has become a bit of our family folklore. We never call them Angus any more.

I know I said I was through posting Auto Journey Pictures, but I guess I hadn't quite finished. I got some out to sketch tonight since my new resolution (two days old) to make a daily sketch (or quit buying art materials?) hasn't yet quite taken hold. I think I am afraid that the sketches won't be "any good," even though I know that doesn't matter.

Here is what the artist who was my teacher on trips to Bali and to the Cyclades
says in his Pocket Drawing Book.

"Drawing is a peaceful, energizing act. 
It will constantly challenge you to be free, 
good-humored, spontaneous, and creative. 
It is like a game or a journey. 
Through drawing, you get to know new people, 
see new places, and understand yourself better. 
Drawing allows you to express what you see and feel."

***Robert Regis Dvorak, The Pocket Drawing Book, page15.

We did take a walk today and went twice as far as yesterday's first walk. Goodnight kisses!

Monday, November 04, 2013

The view from the late 1930s

Here I am looking confidently out at the world that was before World War II, before the Year of Assassinations, before Watergate, before the collapse of the USSR, before we had ever heard the word "retrovirus," before Y2K went off without a hitch, before the Two Towers fell, before Somali pirates captured tankers, before we had ever heard the word "fracking,"  before that tsunami broke a nuclear power plant while the whole world was watching, before most of us knew that Dzhokhar was a given name,. . .

This protected world I am here looking out at (as the oldest child of college-educated parents whose father has a good job with General Electric in Schenectady) is very tranquil. [We would later hear that Schenectady was "Number 2 on Hitler's List" for bombing, because of GE and the American Locomotive plant that had been converted to manufacturing tanks.]

My mother has asked me to smile for her camera at the porch railing of the house we are renting on First Street in the Village of Scotia, New York, across the Mohawk River from the GE plant. I am wearing the maroon coat she knitted for me, but not its little brimmed hat. The coat has wooden buttons dyed to match. I am still too young to have hair long enough for the braids which I wore until I went to Junior High, in the building several blocks away on First Street.

I also wear the high topped laced-up shoes my mother had been told would help me develop "nice ankles." I am pampered and read to every night. I think I have brought this sense of safety with me on most parts of my life journey. Perhaps it helps me maintain trust in some important things in an increasingly weird world.

Tonight I rewarded myself (exercise walk; good behavior!!) by looking through two books about Emily Dickenson's poems. One is The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems, a new art book which reproduces in beautiful ivory-toned photos at actual size the "envelope poems" or late writings of the poet on scraps of paper.

 "The Gorgeous Nothings — the first full-color facsimile edition of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts ever to appear — is a deluxe edition of her late writings, presenting this crucially important, experimental late work exactly as she wrote it on scraps of envelopes. A never-before-possible glimpse into the process of one of our most important poets.The book presents all the envelope writings — 52 — reproduced life-size in full color both front and back, with an accompanying transcription to aid in the reading, allowing us to enjoy this little-known but important body of Dickinson’s writing. Envisioned by the artist Jen Bervin and made possible by the extensive research of the Dickinson scholar Marta L. Werner, this book offers a new understanding and appreciation of the genius of Emily Dickinson." 

The paragraph above was on Amazon; I assume it is the publisher's description. It's a beautiful book. Dickinson's  handwriting is readable, but not quickly. But seeing her jumps and short lines is a revelation. The transcriptions reproduce this effect. It is pleasing me very much. Ever since I became interested in poetry, I have known I must confront Dickinson some day. (Our great American female poet!) But I have usually preferred the wilder ramblings of Walt Whitman. I had spent my childhood in dutiful and pleasant church-going with its concomitant hymn-singing. Emily's poems reminded me of hymns, the meter and the way they are presented. For many years, as a young married woman, I also wore a Playtex rubber girdle to church every Sunday. Emily's poems made me feel unfree, as if I were trapped in an airless closet in a full-body girdle. Every time I had decided to go back to them, I had given up without really reading or studying very long. These books (I'll mention the other one in a moment!) have given me a fresh angle of approach. Because they both deal with her handwritten material, their transcriptions have shorter lines. Reading them gives me an entirely different feeling. The hymnody is still there, but it does not dominate as before. Lots of little linebreak things are happening. I may be able to give some examples in a later post.
The other amazing feature of this book is a sort of index of shapes, besides the triangular envelope flaps, various other shapes made from parts of envelopes, or cut or torn papers. There are other characteristic shapes and the index pages are fascinating to look at, but I haven't been able to hang with this material enough to understand if valuable insights can be gained therefrom. But it is extremely interesting to me as a cataloging process.

The other book came out in 2012 from Oxford University Press. It is Dickenson Unbound: Paper, Process, Poetics by Alexandra Socarides, This book is a very scholarly investigation of all the handwritten Dickenson works.This includes the envelope poems, as well as the "fascicles" or little sewn groups of poems that have been unbound and rebound since she died. That's a fascinating story I didn't know. I have read the Introduction and a few other parts, so cannon say as much about this book, except that the author is a serious scholar with carefully work out ideas on an important poet, and that the short lines of the transcriptions have given me fresh hope about accessing Dickinson's poetry. More to come, unless I get distracted by some other memory thread.

And as we say in Haiku World, "Autumn Deepens." I hope you get to play in some leaves. In Scotia in the Forties. we used to burn them in huge piles in the street. Glorious, that was, before we knew about global warming. . .

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Green Memory Thread on a Wooden Spool


Is green the color of memory? If I had known these spools would vanish, I would have saved a few more of them. This is a particularly nice one used as a sketching prompt in an art class I took in the early autumn.

Tonight, my heart is with the young Coleridge. He hasn't written anything yet that I want to type, but he has come very near to messing up his education more than once. When he was at Cambridge on scholarship, the first year he won the medal for Greek Verse. But the next year, he wound up running away from his debts and from everything else and joining the army. It took some doing, and a bribe from an elder brother to get him discharged from army service. (one of the last things he was assigned to do was live in a pesthouse and take care of another soldier who had smallpox, just the two of them. Food and water, for which he had to pay, was brought every day. The other soldier survived, amazingly enough.) Even though the requirement of finding another recruit to replace Coleridge could not be met, the Army let him go with this brief notation on the Regimental Muster Roll: "discharged S.T. Comberbache, Insane; 10 April 1794." (Comberbache was the fake name he had used when joining up.)

What amazes me most about this period of English history in 1793 and 1794, was the level of unrest caused by the American and French Revolutions, as well as by conditions in Britain that really needed to be improved to be more fair. A lot of thinking, talking and writing about revolutionary ideas was done by university students. Of course, this reminded me of our own 1960s. Many people, British, Continental Europeans and Americans were writing on these topics, even though punishments could be very severe. I guess I had never really thought about what it would have been like to have been young then, and to have enough leisure to explore the ideas of that revolutionary time.

Anyway, this is a wonderful biography, succinct, and well-written on a very interesting life. I am having a lot of fun with it, but may not take it on the plane Tuesday morning. Weight happens, and it's a substantial book, It has great pictures, too. The portrait of the luscious young Coleridge (by an unknown German artist) on the front cover is movie-star quality! And so to bed. . .

Saturday, November 02, 2013

One thing leads to another . . .

Watch this space for my review of Brenda Hillman's new book, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire! Wowza!

We weren't here during rose season this year. They bloomed without us. The roses in this bouquet were all in bud during the frosts before we came; now that it is warmer these buds have been putting on a good faith effort to unfold. Some of them had frost-blasted outer petals. A couple of days ago I cut them and brought them in, and pulled away some of the dead petals. The buds are responding to moisture and indoor heat as I had hoped they would, with a nice end-of-season show. I notice that the gardener who selected the original bushes favored colors that go together. They smell good, too, as one expects of roses. And though I'll have to throw them away next week, I can have the photos for a longer time.

Coming through North Dakota on the way here, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, even viewed from the freeway. I did get some pictures at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just before we left the state, but, naturally, I was distracted by the buffalo! And this was a different sort of landscape--the uncultivated Badlands. I should come back sometime and spend at least a month taking pictures here, I said to myself, knowing that's a near impossibility! In the motel that night I read about North Dakota, ordered some picture books of the state, and found out that Larry Woiwode is the Poet Laureate of Nebraska, and that he had written a writer's memoir, one of my favorite kinds of book. I love getting used books from Amazon; they are often VERY cheap and you are not limited to the books that happen to be in stock in a store. Plus they turn up in your mailbox very soon. I follow threads of reading interest this way. I ordered this memoir; it came a day after we got here.

The Woiwode book is called A STEP FROM DEATH. It begins with his recounting of a terrible hay-baler tractor-PTO accident in which he was very nearly killed. He had fractured ribs and vertebrae, and was pretty well crushed and abraded as well. These are the kinds of injuries that take a long, painful time to heal. Even with painkillers, one is hurting most of the time and not good for much useful thinking or physical or mental work. I am still not quite finished with this short memoir. I got distracted by two things: 1) he called Andre Gide, "one of my favorite writers when I moved to New York." I wouldn't have guessed this, even though Woiwode has surely changed a lot since he moved to Nebraska and began to farm and raise horses in addition to writing and teaching. Andre Gide was born in 1869! Plus, he has to be translated from the French! I remember hearing quite a bit about him from older people when I was in college, when a great deal of fuss was often made over many of the French writers and filmmakers. Tonight I have finished the Gide Memoir, Si le grain ne meurt. (In translation, my old paperback copy is called, If It Die, which seems a poor rendering of the scriptural, " Except a corn of wheat fall onto the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24.)

The second distraction is his discussion that of the few things that could hold his attention was the two volume biography of the poet Coleridge by Richard Holmes. I started the first one about an hour ago (they took longer to get here) and had to FORCE myself to stop for my nightly post. (I wonder what I could accomplish if I posted first thing in the morning? Maybe that's the idea for NEXT YEAR?) Anyway this book and its sequel look to be mighty winners.More to come.

So, follow a Reading Thread, a Memory Thread, or just embroider, like she does. I've been following her blog for quite some time, it is very interesting and very odd. It is all about connection. . .

Tonight is the very end of the birth anniversary of my beloved youngest brother Robert William Hopper, who died in 1997 from cancer. When he knew he would die, he wrote us a series of short reminiscences about his childhood. He told me that you just caught hold of something and pulled the little piece of string. And you just kept writing and pulling on the little piece of string, and memories came back. This is where I got the idea for the Memory Thread. I still have two sisters and three brothers and thus am very lucky, compared to many folks. But I will miss him, his love and wisdom, for the rest of my life. Sleep well, everyone.

Posted by Picasa