Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cracking the Corn

Actually, the corn is already cracked; I buy it that way! Since it snowed on Christmas Eve and the following two nights we have some snow cover. But today it is melting fast. You can see the greedy and overpopulated mallards in the foreground, and wood ducks toward the back, with a of American Wigeon in the upper left and one below them cut off by the edge. This picture was taken on Christmas Day. jjhymasfoto

And here we are in the Neglected Blog Zone, working on the fifth post of this year, with one more day to reach my year-end goal of doubling the three posts made earlier. I have missed doing these short essays, and thinking about poetry and the feedback. But it has been quite a nutty year, with a lot of changes. Here comes 2018!

Boise is getting ready for the Big Potato Drop again at midnight tomorrow. But this year, I might not stay up for it. . .

I am now reading the new biography of Henry David Thoreau in paper by Laura Dassow Walls. It is from the University of Chicago and thus a mighty tome to hold. 500 pages of actual text and all the usual notes and equipage besides. It has been a long time since I have worked on such a heavy book. I read many things on Kindle and this year again have been reading much poetry, in lighter volumes.

I came back to Thoreau because of one of the most unexpectadly delightful books I have encountered this year, John McPhee's Survival of the Bark Canoe, which came out in 1982 and has finally answered my question: Which side of the bark is out on a birchbark canoe. I'll write about this book tomorrow, but it led me back to Thoreau and The Maine Woods.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

He has been to Alaska! And back!

I have been thinking about the American Widgeons, like this one, that spend every winter here at our creek outside Boise, Idaho. In spring and summer they go north to breed. Today was the first day they were back! This photo from last year,shows the characteristic "bald pate" or the male's white forehead. In earlier America they were hunted for food and sometimes referred to as "Bald Pates!"  
Now, they come for cracked corn when I open the door!

This week's mail brought me Holiday greetings from my best friend in High School, whose first name is the same as mine: June.
Once again, she has won the Holiday Sweepstakes Award of Honor (no cash prize) for the first holiday greeting to hit my mailbox. I should mention that she also reads this blog. She has noticed that I haven't been posting. I have hardly posted at all this year and I admit that I have missed it. I can easily double the number of posts for 2017 (the two of us graduated in 1953!) before the end of the year and that is my new goal. This one will be Number 5 in 2017! It is funny how easily I was able to fall away. There have been some changes in my life, which I will be mentioning as we go along.

Both my husband any my nephew commented on June's neat, regular, and even handwriting that addressed the envelope. Her script is small, very neat and even and rounded. Although my handwriting has changed since then, hers seems to me to be very like it was when we were making those notebooks for the best Science Teacher ever, Mr. Eugene Van Vranken!

I have been enjoying Dave Bonta's Morning Porch posts on Facebook. I would like to try something similar here. Stay tuned; if I go away, I usually come back. Blogging here since 2006...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Watching Pat Conroy

Ducks don't need to watch TV. 
Most of the time, I don't either.
This is from a recent winter near the Little Union Canal.

     We had our roof re-shingled a couple of weeks ago. When they took off the Direct TV antenna, we decided to cancel the service, which is expensive and unthrilling. While we are exploring our options I bought an antenna from Amazon for $28. We plugged it in to the TV and can now get a lot of stations. We haven't found Jeopardy yet. but we can watch sort of randomly odd things and some PBS stations. My husband fell asleep in his chair to the soothing voice of Bob Ross yesterday on a channel called CREATE, which has some nice things from the past on it, including old Sara Moulton cooking shows that we used to enjoy. Once we have learned how to use this, we might not get another paid $ervice.

     Noodling around yesterday we found something fantastic to watch. About the time Pat Conroy's book The Death of Santini., was published, he was being interviewed (in front of an appreciative audience) by another Irish-American, Maureen Corrigan of the New York Times.This was aired as part of the PBS series Great Conversations. I am writing this post to insist that you watch it if you have any interest in writing, Irish and Southern characteristics or any of the the books by Pat Conroy or the movies that have been made from them. Or even just if none of these apply to you...

Here's the link:

Pat Conroy has been very special to me ever since I read his early book The Water is Wide about his year teaching children on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Descended from slaves, these children were part of a society that had virtually no contact with the mainland or educated society. Because of his efforts to help them, he was fired after the first year and the school board participated in a conspiracy to get him drafted for service in Vietnam. I bought a copy for the Gilroy Library that I supervised in 1972, and devoured it as soon as it came in.

I had worked during Library School at the Arlington Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, I was an assistant to the children's librarian, Joyce Johnson. Our clientele there was also largely descended from slaves, but not in isolation from the rest of us. This was at the very beginning of publishing works on African American history, especially for children. To meet the demand, we bought the few items in multiple copies. We also pasted photos and articles from Ebony and other publications onto sheets of  gray cardboard, which were labeled, kept in steel filing cabinets and available for check-out in large envelopes. As a result of knowing these children (who often asked to touch MY hair, which was long and straight) I developed a lifelong interest in them and followed and supported attempts tp better the conditions in which they lived. Thus my interest in reading The Water is Wide as soon as it was published. (They made a movie of it called Conrack.)

After watching the interview, I got The Death of Santini on Kindle and read about a third of it last night. I am loving it! But it is really the interview (link above!) that I want you to watch. The level of honest communication is thrilling! Do it. Maybe tonight!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Tanka: a poetic form

Blue Iris by the Little Union Canal.     jhhymas

I am just now reading a Christmas gift of the book of tanka by Mariko Kitakubo. The title is INDIGO, published by Shabda Press in Pasadena, California. No date.

This is a wonderful book, full of intelligent and deep musings in this short five-line form. It also includes the Japanese in both characters and romaji, as well as images by the author and an introduction by Donald Keene.

It is hard to pick just one, but here is one of my favorites.

who is
counting fireflies 
by the Nile?

after the dream
of civilization?

Mariko Kitakubo
page 46.

I am hoping to resume blogging now.  jhhymas

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Releasing the Vine Sphinx Moth

I've been neglecting this blog and I quite miss this way of talking to people,

 Just back now from a later-than-usual dog walk, I find a little time to start again,  

A week ago, the moth above turned up indoors perched
where the wall turns the corner into the hall. 
I took some photos, but left it alone there; next morning, it was gone. 
Two days later I found it, still inside, near the window, where it soon began 
to desperately attempt flying through the glass. 
I knew I would damage it by trying to grab it. 
So I found a small clear plastic glass (like the ones provided by a motel) 
and an index card. When the creature paused briefly, 
I placed the glass carefully over it against the pane. 
Then I slid the card beneath him over the mouth of the cup. 
I had already opened the back door 
and I went out at once and released him over the lawn. 
He flew strongly and without hesitation up and away toward the creek. 
As he flew, he dropped a bit of himself, which I think 
must have been the crooked thing at the top left of the photo,
like a malformed antenna or limb. His flight was strong and even without it,
He lifted my whole self toward freedom!

I have been looking at a book of selected poems 
by Henri Cole. The second poem is about 
Monarch butterflies, but I have decided 
instead to give you the first poem, 
a winter poem about gulls.

V-winged and Hoary

All our pink and gold and blue
birds have gone to Panama and Peru,

The willow flycatcher with its sneezy "fitzbew,"
the ruby-throated hummingbird with jewel-

like gorgets and the blue-rumped finch,
its song a warble with a guttural "chink."

Far, far across the ghostly frozen lake,
above the great drifts of snow swaying

like dunes, the frosty Iceland gulls,
pallid as beach fleas, make great loops and catfall

into the wind, They are all that is left.
Throngs of children tiptoe deftly

across the lake to watch the robust birds
plunge headlong into kamikaze dives, lured

by fledgling trout nosed against the shallow ice.
Despite the precarious ice,

the children huddle bundled at the edge:
mittened, scarved, and starry-eyed,

their teeth chattering in the frosty air.
They watch the tireless birds, over and over,

fall from the speckled sky, their downy underwings
and pink, taloned leggings

foam soaked as they grapple with their catch.
The children are in love with the miraculous

oval-lipped trout swimming upward for air.
Snowflakes fall against their

cracked lips as they wait, their mouths agape
in little Os at the spectacle of gulls.

Henri Cole, Pierce the Skin, 
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2010, pages 3-4.

This is a clear and beautiful poem in fourteen two-line stanzas,
making it about twice the length of a sonnet. If you were to write 
a poem (your task!) about a natural outdoor event that you had witnessed (I might write about the Sphinx moth!) you would want 
to use specific and lovely descriptive words such as the ones 
in this poem. You could let your writing flow across the lines 
and stanza breaks the way this poet does.

I identified this moth from pictures on the Internet, but it is not a common resident here  and is more common in South and Central America. I might make that part of the poem.  jhh