Monday, July 30

"Nature is never spent"


And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And thought the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-from "God's Grandeur," Gerard Manley Hopkins

This post could also be called "What's great about Rhode Island."

Sunday, July 29

Pictures I Missed on My Trip

The only reason I'm putting this picture here is that I deleted too soon the picture of the blank blue sky I accidentally took while driving. That would have been a more fitting choice, as being almost a non-picture (though JJ, a young artist in NY and the son of my dear friend Barbara in Massachusetts, might disagree. Last year we had an interesting attempt at discussion between the layperson and the serious young art student/artist over a reproduction of a canvas which was, as best I can remember, a painting of a pale beige quadrangle with a narrow border of slightly darker beige, by an old and very famous woman named, I think, Gertrude somebody, surely famous but not in my ken), -- better for the purpose of illustrating Missed Photos than this one, which is actually a lifelike image of a twice daily phenomenon in a cove: the incoming tide. If I lived nearby I could go to this spot at different times of day, of month, of tide, and hope to capture a series, say, that centered on the turning of the tide. Then I might remember how to add audio to a little movie, and ... anyway , I'd go a lot and take lots of pictures, find better light than in this one. My mother has a very wonderful book, one that has nested in my memory and imagination, by another woman, maybe also a Gertrude, I can't remember, who's confined mainly by reaosns of health to a high rise apartment overlooking Central Park, and takes pictures throughout the year from her window. It's called something likeThe Tree From My Window. The concept is a brilliant, because the project, obviously, combines a more or less fixed scene (zoom lens or angle aside) with the continual changes of cyclical nature and of the more random human life. Tell you what -- let's all get on to abebooks and look it up! Okay, here's the

Pictures I Missed

* Outrigger canoe Jared and his friend are making in the back yard in Barrington
* Fargo walking calmly on the leash
* Barbara doing the puzzle
* Vern and Clay, cooking and talking
* the $5,000,000 condos facing Bristol Harbor
* a boiled lobster with an ear of corn
* what happened next with the lobster and its bodily effluvients
* Marilyn at the coffee shop in Warren
* More pictures of the interior of Ruffuls Restaurant at Wayland Square
* More pictures at Bri's (but we were too busy talking till it was time to go)

* Maybe a picture of the menu at the Newport Creamery and the reality of the "Sesame" grilled chicken on "arugula" and "baby" greens -- oops! iceberg lettuce! and "we ran out of Sesame dressing do you want ranchfrenchparmesanpeppercornthousandislandguargumdelightfromKraft on that?" I still love the Golden Cow, but should have gone with the tuna melt as harder to mess up. Go to the Creamery for tuna, for grilled cheese, and of course for milkshakes and ice cream if Gray's is too far away or you don't have $3 for a cone

Things on the Road

NewJersey looks like rain on the windshield, but in Pennsylvania, on I-81, I saw lots of traveling THINGS, some quite mysterious.

Tuesday, July 10

Polka and Dunkin D: The Summer Tour

People in Rhode Island (and Southeastern Mass., which is really the same thing) love to polka and can stay up all night dancing, thanks to the presence of a Dunkin Donuts shop every six blocks or so in town, every six miles or so out in the countryside. People say, "Doughnuts? You eat doughnuts?" but it's not about the donuts [sic], it's the coffee, donchaknow, and the subliminal joy the pink-and-orange brings to our hearts. Starbucks? An import, for the effete. Local shops? Well, yeah, there are those, too, in the more sophisticated burgs, but the good old blue collar quahoggers and construction workers, the Congregational Churchgoers, the beachgoers, the office workers, the politicians, the farmers and all of us townies have drunk the Coolattaid and find our cars turning whenever the sensor they install at R.I. garages notice the pinkandorange.

I hope no one will be offended by the mixed tone of this note, when I say that the picture below shows my devotion to the memory of my dear brother David, who according to his daughter (and my niece) Suzanne, said at his service last fall that she would always keep Dunkin Donuts napkins in her desk drawer, because her father did. This is my desk drawer.

The Summer Tour begins tomorrow morning. I will be in DD land before long. The signs start appearing in the Shenandoah Valley, along I-81, but they're not serious DD shops till you get about to PA or NJ. That's also where you can start hearing polka music on the car radio, with stations like the one where I picked up "Second Week of Deer Camp" last winter, and "Donnie the Reindeer." Oh, and where you can buy bait in vending machines.

P.S. My buddy Dave Awl in Chicago says sans serif fonts give him a headache. So I'll leave the little legs on this post and see how it looks.

Monday, July 9

A Dead But Not Buried Blog -- and Dogs, Gone

Sophie at Sam's Gap

Two years ago when I was getting into this blogging thing I created a blog which still exists (two brief and one longer post, no pictures). It's weird to be able to see it but not to access it, although I created it. Since the fairy candle has come up again this year, I will here give the link: and add pictures. Pictures of pictures.

We never knew Sophie's birthday, but July is a good time to commemorate her and her friendship with her best dog friend Roni, both dogs gone to the Church Triumphant, as my Episcopalian parents would always say of our departed pets. This is the time of year when the Fairy Candle (Black Cohosh) appears over Sophie's grave in the back yard, and Roni's buried near a bamboo grove in East Tennessee. Both dogs were East Tennesseans. I called Sophie a Blue Ridge Beehound because she would catch and eat bees and hornets. Snap! Swallow! Gulp!... Watch... Snap! Swallow!

Sunday, July 8

Give Yourself to Love (Kate Wolf video)

I don't spend a lot of time watching youtube, but every once in a while you think of someone to look for. So I found a small (4-minute) clip of the wonderful California folksinger Kate Wolf (1942-1986), doing "Give Yourself to Love", buried in an overlong long TV program from Santa Barbara. The interviewer talks with a kind-of-but-not-professed Buddhist American woman with a good color sense (including shades of violet, rose, lavender and silver -- on her and the set). KW comes in at about minute 41 of 58. Load up the buffer then fast forward. Or watch the whole thing if you're in a lavender and tranquil mood, or would like to be. There's a too short tribute video to KW near the front, but then lots and lots of talk and roses... Kate Wolf looks more like a Judith than a Kate, but it's that great voice -- strong yet gentle, a pure folk style, with subtle nuances. It's good to see her live, and to see the group, with nice mandolin and lead guitar work.

Thursday, July 5

... Happy 5th...nope, 6th

I was in Gray, Tennessee, for the 4th and overnight, visiting my old friend Rob, who's having a coronary bypass next week. Years ago Rob planted bamboo in one corner of his large yard, which is mainly surrounded by fields and pastures. Rob has a science background and has been a gardener for as long as I've known him and is very knowledgeable about plants and all sorts of things. So I figured he knew what he was doing when he planted the bamboo, a couple of varieties from Steve Ray's Bamboo Farm somewhere in Alabama. The yard was large enough that Rob could set off 4th of July fireworks from a platform in the western corner and still have plenty of room for guests to sit on blankets on the grass, close enough to be dazzled but far enough to be safe. My visits to Gray were irregular over the years, as life went this way and that, and one year I discovered that Rob's modest planting had become a bamboo grove. You could wander among the towering plants, but there was still a view of the sunset over the fields.

This time I hadn't been over there for a few years and wasn't prepared for the bamboo forest which now dominates a large portion of that side of the yard. There's a small corner which still provides the long view, but otherwise it's panda heaven to the west. And the yard all the way to the deck is punctuated by bamboo stumps. It's sprouting up next to the deck and the path to the front. It's taken over a couple of raised beds, its roots driving out the other plants. When I asked Rob what he had THOUGHT would happen, he said, "I thought it would do like yours, and just stay in one place!" (My bamboo DID stay in place for years, because it was contained in its small area by the house and the low wall bordering the driveway.) I was briefly speechless. This is the man who once told me that if you ever plant mint you need to encase it in a concrete cell. He does have great orchids, one of which has been blooming for months. He's mostly pretty knowledgeable.

We had fireworks, too, one with the lovely name of -- Bamboo! He set them off right by the patio, and we found one giant cardboard bee the next morning when a breeze blew it down from the towering ash tree. And we also enjoyed everyone else's fireworks. Those folks over in Washington County love the 4th of July, and the evening sky was lit up all around us. In the morning I heard my first cicadas of the summer.

It's July, and no one knows where we're headed as a nation or a world. I'm adding a link to the sidebar for the 4th, 5th, 6th and on.

Sunday, July 1

(Child and Pigeons in Pritchard Park, jlh 6/07)
Here's to energy and optimism and love for the world and chasing away the spectres of despair (with apologies to the pigeons, who are really very beautiful and thanks to Philip Pullman for the word).

And could we loosen up the ".)" rule that is a big mental bug ? Get the Flit!

Hot July brings gilly-flowers/Apricots and cooling showers.....

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings

~~~ "Happy Thought" from A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922.

That's one side of life, and a good one, for those who CAN say it: we SHOULD take this attitude, if we can. And then we should get on with the work of making more of the world that happy. Simple, but true. And hard to do.

On July 1, more less the year's midpoint, here's to the power of poetry and "happy thoughts.'

Today, July 1, is Canada Day. Venus is bright in the evening in Leo but slips to the south throughout the month.

Art by C.S. Hyde, circa 1980s-90s