Thursday, September 17, 2015

My Eightieth Birthday; a picture story

We celebrated the day before; all day my grandchildren worked.
Making cards.

More cards.

Giving the gifts and cards to me!

Special recipe brownie mix cake with M and M's by Ciera.

We had a barbecued steak dinner on the deck;
my son played the classical music I favor.

After the party we watched the recorded important tennis match,
Some of us found this game more interesting than others.

My grandchildren showed me the orange sun next morning on my birthday.

It was colored by smoke from the Valley Fire,

Just before we left, I saw this chicory blooming!

The family assenbled to see us off to San Jose,

This is the way the air looked in the canyon,
And all the way home.
This post still under development.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Wide and open spaces

Today very full: travel and grandchildren!
Just went to bed before I remembered you, memory thread. So here is a quick glimpse from my iPhone! Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Soda Fire went through here

And so did we. More tomorrow posting from phone because motel internet stinks!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Homage to Creeks

This is a last monochrome view of the creek we will be leaving tomorrow
and probably won't be back before late spring.
A creek is a manageable human-sized waterway,
Many of us loved a nearby one in out childhoods.

Homage: Summer/Winter, Shay Creek

           In the Shining

I've got my chair and a good book and I'm sitting
out behind the cabin in a shaft of sunlight reading.
A couple of Stellar's jays who might be my friends
perch themselves on branches in the ponderosa
and sugar pine. They can't read the book I've got
but they can read me and they watch very carefully
for that moment when my hand reaches in
to my pocket and pulls out some crusts of bread
which I toss out over the forest floor and the jays
spring off the limbs and streak down in a blue blaze,
scoop the crusts and are back on the limbs again
chortling. This is the way of my life these days---
lazing, serene, but not so indolent, not so torpid
that I won't get up now and then, grab my chair,
and move to another spot, over there by the cedar,
to that new place shining now in the sun.

Joseph Stroud

The Geography of Home; California Poetry of Place, Heyday Books, 1999, page 370.

I love the way Stroud treats his own creek in this poem.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Buffalo Trace

We didn't get to drive through "where the buffalo roam" this summer, 
for the first time in a long time.
But once, in Theodore Roosevelt's Badlands, 
this fellow was just resting beside the road. 
I took the photo through the car window and altered it later. 
I was struck by his immense and powerful quietness.

Buffalo Trace

Sometimes in the winter mountains
after a little snow has blown in the night
and nothing's alive in eye-range
but the clouds
near peaks frozen clean
in the solstice sun
the white finds a faint depression
to stick in out of wind
and makes visible for the first time
through woods and along the slopes
to where it nicks the rim
perceptibly, a ghostpath
under brush and broomsedge,
merging in the pasture with narrow
cowtrails but running on through fences
and across boundaries, under branches
in tattered sweep out to the low
gaps of the old migrations
where they browsed into the summer mountains
then ebbed back into the horizon
and back of the stars.

Robert Morgan

The Strange Attractor; new and selected poems,
Louisiana State University Press, 2004, page 77.

Robert Morgan is another poet I found through the book of North Carolina Poets!
I am still reading through his poems because he writes the kind of poetry
that is very appealing to me. I think I will pack this book and take it with me
back to California.

Notice the compound words he has made: ghostpath,
broomsedge and cowtrails. Spell Check pointed them out for me. I LOVE
this sort of compounding in a poem!

Saturday, September 05, 2015

One white gull

Along the Crooked River (how many of these might there be in the USA?)
Probably not as many as there are of Bear Creek, Indian Creek, or Dutch Flat,
those names we collected again and again on our drives across the country.
My favorite adjacent creeks in our Michigan neighborhood
are called Mud Creek and Minnehaha Creek, which both cross
Pickerel Lake road within a few rods of each other.
We never made it back to Michigan this year 
and will miss the world-class autumnal splendor
that begins st the end of this month.


As a child running loose,
I said it this way: Bird.
Bird, a startled sound at field's edge.
The sound my mouth makes, pushing away the cold.
So at the end of this  quiet afternoon,
wanting to write the love poems I've never written,
I turn from the shadow in the cottonwood
and say blackbird, as if to you.
There is the blackbird. Black bird, until its darkness
is the darkness of a woman's hair falling
across my upturned face.
As I go on speaking into the night.
The oriole, the flicker,
the gold finch . . .

Peter Everwine

Collecting the Animals, Carnegie Mellon, 2000
(Atheneum, 1972)

And now this volume of Peter Everwine goes back on the shelf until next year. 
He has been a favored find of this one.  jhh

Friday, September 04, 2015

A Blanket of Pink Roses

In the foreground, my Aunt Marita Butler Brimhall, 
who was the baby in yesterday's post.
We are at the 1977 funeral of her mother, Susie Redd Butler,
who was the young mother in white,
who had been a widow for 47 years.

Marita's younger sister & my mother, Olga Butler Hopper, is behind her, 
wearing one of her signature bright ethnic outfits.
Each of them has scored a keepsake rose 
from the blanket of soft pink roses atop the coffin,
just a bit of which is visible at the extreme left,
under a sunshade.

It is an Arizona Sunlight day, over-contrasty for photographs,
as you can see by the sunblast on the group of relatives at the right.


Hooves of heavy snow stamp the pasture
fierce wind     the horseman exactly

history has no verbs
verbs are those
trying to push life ahead
toward even darker

a violin induces us
to turn to the past
to hear the crying in mankind's early years
the honor
and misfortune of lost prophets

let misfortune fall
on the level of our understanding
each family unfolds its banner
bedsheets, kitchen smoke, dusk

Bei Dao
Translated by Eliot Weinberger and Iona Man-Cheong

Unlock; poems by Bei Dao, New Directions, 2000, page 47.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Their First Child

My maternal grandparents with their oldest child, my Aunt Marita Butler (Brimhall.) 
My second cousin recently photographed this in the home of her parents
and I copied it from her Facebook post. 
Is this the way we do history now???
Her father, Dwayne Butler Brimhall, was the oldest child of this baby;
he died two years ago at the age of 84. 
These ancestors were married in 1900, on the cusp of the Twentieth Century,
so this image would have been taken within the next couple of years. 
I think the young family was still living 
in the Mormon Mexican Colonies at this time. 
When they had to leave during the unrest at the time of the Mexican Revolution,
this grandmother was pregnant with my mother, her third child,
who was born in Douglas, Arizona in 1907.
This was definitely a time when it took a great deal of fabric 
to make a dress, even for a baby!
If this picture were sharper, I am almost certain we could see
(on her left hand resting on his shoulder) her gold wedding band,
which has now been entrusted to me, and which 
is still inscribed inside with their initials and the date of their marriage.

This is a very interesting folkloric frame, I will ask my cousin
if she knows anything about it;
it looks as if it had been carved from wood and painted
or coated with silver in some way.
I wonder how old it is, and how long this picture has been in it!

A Path Through Grass

A path through grass
worn as an old hoehandle
and pale as silver.
The silent things
that build bridges so many places,
roads after dead people, a handle,
a path in the field
moves like an unreal thing through the summer,
moon bridges built over the green seas.

Rolf Jacobsen
translated from the Norwegian by Robert Bly
The Roads Have Come to an End Now;
selected and last poems of Rolf Jacobsen, translated 
by Robert Bly, Roger Greenwald and Robert Hedin, 
Copper Canyon Press, 2001, page 63.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Blue Reaches of Heaven , , ,

Marilee says it's coming, and we should just get with the program. . .
It is a little harder for me this year, because we never made it back to Michigan
where they really put on a fantastic show for that season!

These pictures are from last year.
Above is the view from the house of the South Meadow.

And this is the view, from the porch, of the West Meadow and the Great Bowl of Sky!

And now I am putting Peter Everwine back on the shelf, reluctantly,
because the books don't travel. He is a new discovery this year;
I am very happy to have found him.

This morning, from under the floorboards
of the room in which I write,
Lawrence the handyman is singing the blues
in a soft falsetto as he works, the words
unclear, though surely one of them is love,
lugging its shadow of sadness into song.
I don’t want to think about sadness;
there’s never a lack of it.
I want to sit quietly for a while
and listen to my father making
a joyful sound unto his mirror
as he shaves—slap of razor
against the strop, the familiar rasp of his voice
singing his favorite hymn, but faint now,
coming from so far back in time:
Oh, come to the church in the wildwood . . .
my father, who had no faith, but loved
how the long, ascending syllable of wild
echoed from the walls in celebration
as the morning opened around him . . .
as now it opens around me, the light shifting
in the leaf-fall of the pear tree and across
the bedraggled back-yard roses
that I have been careless of
but brighten the air, nevertheless.
Who am I, if not one who listens
for words to stir from the silences they keep?
Love is the ground note; we cannot do
without it or the sorrow of its changes.
Come to the wildwood, love,
Oh, to the wiiild wood as the morning deepens,
and from a branch in the cedar tree a small bird
quickens his song into the blue reaches of heaven—
hey sweetie sweetie hey.

Peter Everwine
                                   (Born 1930)

Listening Long and Late, 
University of Pittsburg Press, 2013, pages 70-71.

My own father used to sing Annie Laurie,
about the braes which are bonny. Do you remember your father singing? jhh

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

My Grandmother in Groups of Three

My maternal grandmother, Susie Redd Butler, 
stands here between my sister Susan and myself; 
I think we are at The Farm near Schenectady, but I am not certain. 
it is maybe 1954. This is my beloved blue lightweight spring coat 
that I wore at BYU all winter (1954-55) in Provo,
adding a sweater underneath for the coldest days. 
My boyfriend, later husband, thought I should have a proper winter coat;
I loved this one and didn't understand or think anything about it.
The length and fullness of of the skirts at this time
(just coming off from The New Look after World War II)
was much favored by me. If anything, I made skirts a little longer;
I had to lengthen them anyway . . .
notice that the purchased coat is a little too short.
I loved the way the skirt fabric swirled around your calves,
and you could sort of swish and arrange it as you sat down!
I also loved that purse because it was "Arizona Style"
although it was stiff and not really useful, no pockets or slots;
and the pens would fall out if one laid it down carelessly.
Later my cousin told me that Susie was 4 feet, 10 inches tall!
No wonder my height was shocking to my parents. My mom was 5 feet, 2!

(Be sure to look at the great earlier picture of Grandma Susie underneath this poem.)

It Was Autumn

It was autumn
its iron gates darkening
with smoke and oils.

In the fields
the water turned in its nest,
the weed put down its plow and slept,
the minerals awakened.

In the heart of a tree
the moon was building a small fire.

And by its yellow light
the crickets assembled and read
from the book of crickets:

the generations
the labors
the black rains milling at sea.

Peter Everwine

from the meadow; selected and new poems, 
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004, page 33.

Stringham and Howarth of Manti and Salt Lake City, Utah, 
photographed this Carte de Visite. 
It shows my grandmother 
with her two younger sisters, Effie and Jennie.
This is a scan of a photocopy my mother had, so it could be clearer.
In this photograph, my grandmother is the tallest person.
At her funeral at age 96, the only two siblings left to attend it
were these two. They were tiny little old ladies, 
with hair completely white; the last remaining ones 
of the twelve children of their parents.

That's all tonight from The Book of Crickets!