Sunday, May 31, 2009

“the past didn’t go anywhere”

Sunday is upon us again, which means more original poetry for Original Poetry Sunday, the excellent idea hit upon by Sandra Leigh of the excellent Amazing Voyages of the Turtle blog. My offering is the latest in my series of ghazals.

I believe the following blogs (at least) are “officially” participating this week, but everyone’s welcome:

The Amazing Voyages of the Turtle
Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes
Secret Poems from the Times Literary Supplement
Yes is Red

You also can find daily poems at Apogee Poet, & frequent poem postings at Keeping Secrets, Pics & Poems (there’s a very good one up there today already). Dominic Rivron posts some very good poems, tho not on any regular schedule, & the same can be said for TotalfeckingEejit & Mad Aunt Bernard of Mad Aunt Bernard’s Tortoise Poetry, as well as Willow of the popular Life at Willow Manor. There are also poems occasionally on the excellent blog Radish King, which is written by poet Rebecca Loudon, & which always contains very high quality writing, & also on Premium T., which, like Radish King is well worth a visit whether there’s a poem posted or not.

Of course, there are any number of poetry blogs out there, but these are ones within my experience. Hope you get a chance to visit them & enjoy their poetry.


“the past didn’t go anywhere”


the story I told about the mourning dove’s coo in
the draw a low grey clarinet note washed over by

sparrows’ silver chatter the grapefruit sunrise the one
pink poppy coming awake amongst orange poppies the

irises purple & yellow & maroon a metal spiral
staircase outside an old white farmhouse a teardrop

mandolin posed on the lawn near the young catalpa’s
teardrop leaves—the story I told about red red shoots of beb

willows in the draw & the stream’s liquid song thru the
underbrush a purple chord on an archtop guitar in a per-

petual evening—& the lilacs’ whispering evening even at
6 a.m.—the story I told about the mourning dove’s coo in the

beb willows & the sparrows’ rippling conversation—ok
I know “the past didn’t go anywhere”—the stream’s liquid

song the cowbirds’ liquid song a horse trailer rattling up the
dirt road—the story I told didn’t go anywhere in

the grapefruit sunrise—traveling into the past to avoid
death—we talked about that & sex which is perpetually

now—the mourning dove’s gray coo in the grapefruit
sunrise wasn’t the past it was a memory drenched in the

stream’s liquid song over slate grey rocks where per-
petual past & future embrace in a liquid moment


John Hayes
© 2009


quote is from folksinger/songwriter Utah Phillips

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Few More Fold-out Postcard Sonnets - 5/30

Here’s the next sonnet in the Fold-Out Postcard Sonnet sequence. Not much to say about this one except that, as I mentioned in the first post about this sequence of poems (which were written at this time of year in 1996), state names are “spelled” as abbreviations but pronounced as the state—TX for Texas (not “T for Texas” as Jimmie Rodgers would have it) & VT for Vermont in this particular poem.

In other news: I’ll be playing my monthly craft fair/farmer’s market gig in Council today from late morning until early afternoon, & I’m looking forward to adding a few old standards to the set list: “It Had To Be You,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” & “Bye Bye Blues.” It’ll be a pretty eclectic batch of songs, ranging from the old Appalachian tune “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” to the aforementioned standards, with lots of blues & old country in between. The weather? Fair & hot!

Be sure to drop in for Original Poetry Sunday tomorrow—in case you don’t know, Original Poetry Sunday was initiated by Sandra Leigh of the fabulous Amazing Voyages of the Turtle blog. More on this tomorrow. In the meantime—enjoy the following:


5/30


A cigarette drowns in a strawberry milkshake its
last words being Save the last dance for me as the
tumbleweeds waltz a Brahms waltz under a life
preserver orange TX sun May 1988

& Marlowe walks smack into the future into a
telephone booth misplaced in a spaghetti western an
unruly Rorsarch blot smearing the western horizon like
a down sleeping bag with egyptian dreams

But a few things are true at present a slice of
strawberry rhubarb pie drenched in melted vanilla
ice cream a dial tone chirping Waltzing Matilda

& Marlowe growing a little bit older as VT
sinks like a beer bottle in a stagnant beaver pond
whether or not Marlowe actually uses the phone

© John Hayes 1996-2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wayback Machine #2.1 – Bellows Falls, VT, 1984


I’m finally back from a long & rather hot day in the wilds of downtown Ontario, OR—hot in particular because the errand that took me there was the air conditioning in our Subaru going south. This post would have been up this morning, but to make a long story short & to state the obvious—it wasn’t. Anyway, here comes the non sequitor….

No, I hadn’t forgotten about the Wayback Machine! & this time we’ll be traveling quite a ways back, to 1984 (& in the case of one photo even a few years earlier), & also quite a lon
g way from where I currently reside.

As I’ve mentioned here b
efore, I grew up in Vermont in the town of Westminster (usually pronounced something like “West-min-i-stah” by locals—very important to get that extra syllable in). In many ways Westminster, VT from the late 50s thru the 70s bore some striking resemblances to Indian Valley, ID these days. The town covers quite a bit of land, but isn’t very populous (Westminster was somewhat less rural than current Indian Valley, however), & the town at that time had way more cows than people—of course, these were dairy cows as opposed to the Idaho “beef cattle.”

Another similarity is that both Westminster & Indian Valley are about a dozen miles from a somewhat larger,
but still small town—Indian Valley is near Council, & Westminster is near Bellows Falls. On top of that, both Council & Bellows Falls have suffered economic woes due to the decline & closure of railroads, & also due to the closure of mills—in Council, a lumber mill; in Bellows Falls, several paper mills—the last I knew, there were no more paper mills in Bellows Falls.

I have a set of Bellows Falls photos taken in 1984—my last summer in Vermont before moving to Charlottesville, VA in August for the MFA writing program at UVA. I’d completed my Bacherlors in the fall of 83, & I worked in a paper mill for the few half of ’84—a mill I’d worked in from 1978-1980 also, under very different circumstances (see caption to final photo). This first batch of photos takes you on a tour around town. The next batch (I think I’ll post them next Friday) will concentrate on the railroad & the paper mill I worked in. The photos aren’t of particularly high quality—they were taken with a cheap instamatic, & the colors haven’t improved over time (& yes, I did use my meager PhotoShop skills to spruce them up a bit), but I think they give a portrait of this small Vermont town in the mid ‘80s.

The picture at the top of the post shows Atkinson Street, one of the town's main ateries, which I remember both as where the office of the family doctor, Dr. John Stewart was located (however, Dr. Stewart did make house calls!) & also where once upon a time there was a Super Duper supermarket. I believe the market's logo involved an elephant.
















The Elks Building in the town square

















The American Legion/VFW - my father was a member, but I can't ever recall him spending time there. Sadly, I think he was haunted by his experiences in the Pacific theater during WWII & tried not to think about them.
















Barbieri's barroom, looking back toward the town square (south). Bellow Falls was a very working class town, with a large population of second & third generation Polish & Irish immigrants who worked in the various mills. As a result, some of the town's bars were "workingmen's bars" - they opened early & closed early, & they were pretty hard-bitten spots. Despite the sign, very few went to Barbieri's for a Coca-Cola.
















The Dari-Joy, with its own Big Boy burger figure, stood at the north end of town; I honestly don't know if it's still there
or not.
















The Miss Bellows Falls diner. I spent many a lunch hour here dining on open faced hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes & gravy, or on chicken croquets & other food of that ilk. I even posted an appreciation of the Miss Bellows Falls diner here on Robert Frost's Banjo last September. As I understand it, the diner is still a going concern, tho it may have undergone some "gentrification."
















J.J. Newberry's, a real 5 & dime store (tho as you see, the sign reflected some amount of inflation). I loved this store as a kid - they had toys & kick-knacks & caged birds, including a mynah bird that almost bit me when I tried to get too friendly! I remember that it always smelled like hot buttered popcorn.

















The Polish-American Club - see my remarks under Barbieri's. You didn't have to be of Polish descent to hang out there, tho. I did; it was mostly a "watering hole." They also had a shuffleboard table.
















The War Memorial - a memorable & oddly mobile landmark. When I was very young, it stood at the bottom of "Stop Light Hill," a very steep grade that led toward the town square. I think it briefly inhabited some other location I know forget before winding up in this small park on School Street - which could have been called Church Street easily enough, as witness the Baptist Church in the background. The United Church of Christ which we, as Methodists, attended, was also on th
is street, & I believe there was another church at the street's end.




















Yours truly, some time in 1980 (I'm guessing autumn). I was pretty down on my luck at this point, which is how I'd managed to parly a promising college career into a gig on a paper mill's shipping crew. By the time this photo was taken, however, I'd sobered up & would return to the University of Vermont the next year & finish by Bachelors even with some distinction after the sketchy start. These were also the days - which sadly would continue another 16 years - when "everything he touched turned to cigarettes."

Next Friday: the conclusion of the Bellows Falls tour!






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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Joe Stippich-Mandolin Maker


Let me introduce you to fellow Indian Valley resident Joe Stippich. Joe & his wife Sharon live on a ranch at the far southern end of Indian Valley—“across town” from us so to speak, tho most of the town consists of pastureland & rangeland. Indian Valley doesn’t have a very big population (it takes up the equivalent of one page in the phone book), but that population is dispersed over a lot of land.

Anyway: we know the Stippichs as fellow musicians & as students. Jo
e takes upright bass lessons with Eberle; Sharon takes guitar lessons with me, & she also plays fiddle & mandolin, & plays in a couple of local bands—the Jammers & Council Mountain Bluegrass. Joe also has played with the Jammers. Their daughters, Jenny & Missy are both very accomplished fiddle players; Jenny plays with a wonderful Twin Falls-based bluegrass band called Strings Attached.

Given that music is so much a part of the Stippich’s life, perhaps it’s not surprising that Joe would turn to instrument making; after all, he’s an accomplished woodworker whose workshop is located right above a music room filled with fiddles & guitars & mandolins & an upright bass & a cello. Yet, when I asked him about the decision to make mandolins last week during a thoroughly enjoyable but very freeform 90-minute interview, he couldn’t say exactly why he’d turned his hand in this direction. Why mandolins, & not fiddles or guitars, for instance?

“Haven’t yet figu
red out why I build mandolins instead of guitars—I think guitars would be easier because they’re bigger.” Joe told me, & then he discussed his old friend, local mandolin whiz, Hank Daniels who passed away a few years back. “Hank influenced me, & he did give me some wood. But he was the person who really gave my wife & my kids the support that they needed to keep going without giving up on music. He was a mandolin player, & he was good to me, absolutely, positively good to me, & my wife & my kids, so he influenced me, I guess.” Joe went on to point out that “If I didn’t have friends I wouldn’t have anything to make anything out of,” mentioning not only the wood Mr Daniels gave him, but also showing off some sycamore, black walnut, butternut, beautifully figured maple, & myrtle wood all of which he’ll use to make mandolin backs. He even dumped out a rather large potato sack full of cow bones, which are also earmarked for his mandolins.

Cow bone? Well, Joe admits he hasn’t used cow bone yet—in fact, his bridge inlays to date have been made either with moose bone or elk bone (my mandolin has an elk bone inlaid bridge). Joe told me, “the harder the bone the better,” because he believes the harder bone will be a better transmitter down to the soundboard. Joe also mentioned that he believes the type of adjustable bridges often found on mandolins & other archtop instruments impede the sound transmission—being neither a luthier nor a physicist myself, I’d have to say there is a lot of logic in Joe’s theory on this. In any case, Joe hasn’t used adjustable bridges & it doesn’t sound like he’s about to start any time soon.

During my talk
with Joe I kept returning to the thought that here was a man who brought a lot of thought & common sense to bear in his fledgling mandolin luthiery. He’s also a keen listener & a keen student. Joe said, “I listen to people & talk to people all the time. I try to learn everything I can from everybody. I’ve talked to every fiddle maker I could find & every mandolin player I could find.” His goal is simple, but ambitious—to make good sounding & good playing instruments.

I can tell you
Joe has succeeded admirably in this. I’ve been lucky enough to test-drive every one of the 10 mandolins he’s made so far, & I’ve enjoyed every one; Eberle has also played all or at least most of them, & she agrees. Eberle puts it very straightforwardly—“I love the bright but mellow tone, & they just feel good under your fingers; & they’re beautiful.” A while back, Joe entrusted me with what I believe was Stippich #8, an A-model (or “teardrop”) mandolin with a round sound hole (as opposed to f-holes). Joe was hoping I could interest some players in the McCall area in this instrument, & I was sure I could. On the other hand, every time I played it, I thought, “There’s no way I’ll ever get a mandolin this good for the amount of money Joe is charging” (the latter info won’t be made public here—in Joe’s interest, because I believe he undercharges), but I’d tell myself I had enough to do with the instruments I already owned. Of course, at a certain point, my will buckled & the rest is, so to speak, history.

Joe’s mandolins are all made with spruce soundboards & hardwood backs. His supply of spruce comes from the McCall, ID area, from about 8,000 feet in elevation. The soundboard on mine is Englemann spruce, & it has a lovely clear tone. The back on mine is maple that Joe came across in one of those lucky strikes for the inveterate wood salvager—he was given some felled maple logs that had been in a service station parking lot for some time. He was originally going to use the wood for a workbench, but decided it was “too pretty” for that; Joe said, “It’s about the prettiest wood I’ve ever seen,” & despite growing up with a cabinetmaker father who also had stashes of beautiful old hardwood, I’d have to agree. Joe also mentioned that he likes to use older wood whenever he can—he’s currently working with some Philippine mahogany salvaged from an 80 year old house; “I think age has a lot to do with the acoustics,” said Joe.

Some other specs: Joe only uses hide glue, & uses ironwood for the bridge.
He’s used ironwood for the fretboards, but is currently working with an apple wood fretboard (his first attempt at a radiused, or slightly curved fretboard) & plans on experimenting with mesquite in the future. All of his instruments have binding—he went in to some detail about who he uses a Dremel tool to rout the sides to accept the binding); his wife Sharon helps with the binding process —& he also equips his instruments with Grover tuners (for those who don’t know—these are nice). His mandolins had come equipped with Martin truss rods for stabilizing the neck, but he’s currently experimenting with carbon fiber rods, which are much lighter but extremely strong—it passed the Hayes’ bending test, not that this proves as much as it would have some years ago. Joe also has had a personalized tailpiece made with both the name Stippich & the ranch brand; he’s put these on the last few he’s made, including the one I bought!

Joe’s workshop (despite his protests to the contrary) was shipshape & didn’t sport a whole lot of superfluous items: he has a good-sized Jet band saw, a Delta scroll saw (which he uses to cut the f-holes), a bench-top drill press, a belt sander, a grinder & a bending tool for shaping the sides (the table saw, a radial arm saw & a planer are located in the garage). There are some specialty tools, such as fret files, & there are a number of planes—Joe has a true woodworker’s love of the plane, & he showed me the two he uses for carving the tops & backs, a block plane & a convex-soled finger plane. The latter is really small, but Joe really swore by it. Needless to say, the carving involved is fine & meticulous: the tops are graduated from .0091 thick at the edge to .0170 in the middle. Joe says it takes him about two days to build a top.

There’s a good supply of vises & clamps—& clothespins to hold the kerf
ed strips inside the soundbox when they’re glued!—& jigs for determining carving depth & for cutting the kerfs. Joe said, “The better everything fits down the road, it’s going to fit better, sound better.” This is fit & finish, & it’s what most good woodworkers, especially ones who’ve been doing it for so long, know. Because tho Joe’s only been making mandolins for a few years, he estimates that he’s been woodworking for about 40 years, noting, “When I got married I started remodeling that old house I bought. That was quite a thing. I started with a handsaw & a hammer & a screwdriver I think.”

Fit & finish. The finish on Joe’s mandolin is a classic: “I use shellac for a finish, period. All the old people recommend it, & the more I read now, we’re gradually going back to shellac for a finish because it’s better for the acoustics. Shellac is pretty easy to use, & it’s pretty forgiving. I try not to put it on too thick—everything goes on in such thin layers—almost microscopic.” Joe has been experimenting with mixing in small amounts of seed lac, the raw form of shellac, to give a slightly darker cast. Those who aren’t familiar with the rather witchy material called shellac (completely organic—it comes from insects!) can find more info here.

Joe is the real deal as a woodworker—tho I was never much more than a duffer myself, my Dad also was a talented woodworker, & I recognize the same traits—the eye for detail, the kind of mind that can tackle material problems & find creative solutions, the eye for grains & surfaces. & of course, like any good woodworker, Joe stresses one point in particular: “I know one thing—you gotta keep your tools sharp.”

Finally, I wanted you to hear what one of Joe’s creations sounds like, & so I created the following slideshow with background music by my Stippich mandolin as played by me. I must caution you that, as a mandolin player, I’m a pretty good guitarist, so blame me, not the instrument, if anything sounds amiss! The audio is yours truly playing an old British Isles jig called “Bolt the Door” (AKA “Jack’s Health”)—I picked a faster number simply because my mandolin tremolo is a bit sketchy & you don’t need to tremolo on fast tunes! The slideshow itself has more photos of Joe & his workshop & his mandolins (especially the one I’m playing) for your enjoyment.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Few More Fold-Out Postcards - 5/27

For Wednesday—the next Fold-Out Postcard Sonnet. I’ve written about Strauss’ setting of Beim Schlafengehen here before, & of course Hank Williams fans will get the “Kaw-Liga” reference.

In other news—I’ve been doing a bit of housecleaning here on the blog—consolidating mostly. So, for instance, rather than having a separate link for each of the Dad’s Photos posts, you can get to all of them by clicking on the link in the left-hand frame. I also removed the Musical Questions pix, tho you can see all the musicians involved in a slideshow at the bottom of the page, & you can get to all the Musical Questions posts by clicking on the banjo graphic.

Enjoy!

5/27

A quart of clamato & a wrecked green
canoe amongst loads of other stuff a stuffed
orange easy chair going up in smoke to the tune of
Beim Schlafengehen set by Richard Strauss sung by

Ms Melodramatic Archaic Ocean tragic as the
rain in Charlotte NC raining mandolins & buttons &
Vitamin B complex something Marlowe longs for
like a cigar store indian with a breathtaking crush

So Marlowe wants to unscrew his lid
& spill it There’re so many dishes surfacing in the
sink the toy boats have all run freaking aground like

an onslaught of words starring dirty windows like a
wishing well smashed with wooden nickels like a
waterlogged Kaw-Liga in a bonfire


© John Hayes 1996-2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

She Sells Sea Shells

(Here's the latest installment in Eberle's Women's Art is Women's Work series. As an added bonus, there's a reprise of the Alice in Wonder Band's setting of my own poem "She Sells Seashells," recorded in 2004. You'll find this at the bottom of the post; for more info on that, check out this link. & thanks for all the nice wishes!)

My heart is like the fair sea-shell,
There's music ever in it…
Eliza Cook (1818-1889)


In 1824, when a gro
up of Jane Austen characters went walking on the Cobb in Lyme Regis, they might have passed a mysterious figure, might even have noticed her on the horizon if they had not been so absorbed in their own concerns and in Louisa Musgrove’s unfortunate accident. Jane’s heroine, Anne Elliot, especially might have been attracted by the sight of a solitary woman walking in the distance, by how at home she seemed in her solitary state within the landscape of cliff and sea.

Supposed to be unique in structure, the Cobb was built in medieval times by driving rows of oak-trees into the sea floor as pilings. Massive boulders, known as cowstones, and cobbles filled the gaps between tree trunks. Empty barrels were used to float boulders into position, creating 600 feet of jetty and protecting one of the oldest artificial harbors in England.

At the time of this visit by characters in Persuasion, Lyme was a firmly established backwater. It had gained some reputation because of fossils that had been found there, but other than this quirky claim to fame, Lyme had been bypassed by history for quite some time. It flourished as a seaport in the thirteenth century, but by the nineteenth, its artificial harbor had become too small for commercial shipping. In the 1770s when seaside tourism was on the rise among the middle classes, it was accessible by a direct coach route from Bath and attracted some visitors, but never attained the status of a truly fashionable resort. It was sunny and inexpensive—a backwater, with a tang of fishermen and smugglers.

Who is she, that woman walking alone by the cliffs with a hammer?


She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore,
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.

This rhyme was written about a woman named Mary Anning. In 1824 Mary was twenty-five years old, almost exactly Anne Elliot’s age, but she was separated from Anne by
more than the pages of a book. Mary’s family had been subsisting—barely—on parish relief, the welfare system of the time, since the death of her father. However, even more than class and extreme poverty would have divided these two early nineteenth century women—Mary’s father had helped lead workers in violent demonstrations when economic policies and conditions led to desperation and starvation in the region. Very few members of the upper class condoned this type of agitation for social change.

Since the age of fifteen when her father died, Mary had been roaming the seaside
alone. She had helped her father collect fossils from the cliffs to sell in order to supplement his income as a cabinet-maker; he taught Mary a great deal about this, how to clean and display the fossils as well as how to identify different species. Mary’s interest was at least as keen as the poverty which she planned to alleviate by her fossil sales. She began reading widely in her chosen field and dissecting marine life in order to connect ancient creatures with the present. Her discoveries included skeletons of two large ancient sea creatures, the ichthyosaur and the first Plesiosaurus, fin-bones of an ancient shark, four new species of ammonites, a jawless fish and the first fossil remains of a flying reptile to be found in England. She had, in fact, a passion for every aspect of these encoded records of the past and her ability to decode them shone out in flashes of genius rivaling that of any of the paleontologists of her era.

If a male figure walked beside her, it was in all likelihood a scholar or collector; she acted as guide to many of these. Several of Mary’s discoveries and interpretations of the fossil record dramatically changed scientific theories about the past. Even though the value of her knowledge was recognized in certain ways, her identity as a self-educated working class woman basically doomed her efforts to obscurity. Her finds were exhibited in museums and her observations made use of by others, but it seems that her origins as a young girl peddler of fossils at a stall outside a seaside carpentry shop could not be forgiven by the educated elite. She went consistently unmentioned in scholarly works that discussed her discoveries and her ideas, and the British Museum somehow lost significant portions of her finds (some of her contributions are still displayed there.) Although her life was marked by a remarkable number of calamities, what she expressed bitterness about was being ignored by people whose scientific knowledge was inferior to her own. According to her friend Anna Maria Pinney, Mary was outspoken: “She glories in being afraid of no one and in saying everything she pleases,” Anna wrote in her journal in 1831.

There is a haunting
quality about one of her discoveries that resonates across more than a century—she theorized that a purple powder she found in a tiny chamber within a belemnite (a kind of ancient squid) was in fact fossilized ink. In the spirit that distinguished her greatness among her peers, she tested this theory by grinding the powder, reconstituted it, and then used it in a drawing of an ichthyosaur. She sent this drawing of an extinct creature made from the body of another to one of the scholarly men who went fossil-hunting with her and who took credit for some of her discoveries. Like many women, she was aware that she too was being written into history with a kind of invisible ink. Her loneliness at times must have been intense, and that is what Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot, isolated in her own way by the people around her and without the companionship of a kindred spirit, would have understood very well.

And then my spirit pined,
And, like the sea-shell for its parent sea,
Moaned for those kindred souls it could not find,
And panted to be free.
Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta (1815-1891)

Jane Austen stayed in Lyme with her family in the summer of 1804, and wrote to her sister Cassandra about her amusements: walking on the Cobb, dancing in the Assembly Rooms, and bathing from a bathing machine. She actually mentions Anning, Mary’s father, as having given a valuation for a broken box lid over which she was having a dispute with her landlord. One century later, in 1904, Beatrix Potter would spend a holiday in Lyme, and use some views of the town for the book she was working on at the time, Little Pig Robinson.

Pix from Top
Mary Anning (public domain image)
Lyme Regis (public domain image by Arpingstone)
Blue Lias Cliffs at Lyme Regis (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Licensed by MichaelMaggs)
Coade Stone Ammonites (GNUFDL by Ballista)
Cast of "Plesiosaurus" macrocephalus fossil found by Mary Anning (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Licensed by Funk Monk)
Belemnite Fossils
(public domain image by Arpingstone)










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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kreativ Blogging


It’s been a week or more since my long-lost cousin several times removed, TotalfeckingEejit, passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me. In case you haven’t checked out TotalfeckingEejit’s blog, please do. It’s a riotous good time full of poetry & fiction & reflections on the world at large & at small; sometimes hard to tell where one aspect leaves off & another begins, but that’s part of the fun.

According to TotalfeckingEejit, here's how you do it:
1. Post the award on your blog and link to the person who gave you the award.
2. List seven things you love:

1. Playing musical instruments, these days
especially my resonator guitar & my new mandolin (lots more on this later—see below); & at various other times: 5-string banjo, tenor uke, mandocello & my Harmony archtop guitar (et al.)—either by myself or with others.
2. Road trips, especially with Eberle & even more especially when we’re headed somewhere on the Pacific coast.
3. Finding good but inexpensive restaurants!
4. The Pacific Ocean
5. The willow tree outside my office window
6.Watching songbirds at the feeders
7. Reading a truly exciting poem

& other things in addition to these seven.

Finally, pass it on! List seven blogs you love and let those people know you’ve given them the award….

Well, I’ve gotta say: this is just too hard—sorry, but I’m just not up to limiting my choices to seven—or even eight or nine or a dozen—I know ‘cause I tried. I’ll tell you what: I happily pass the blog along to all of the followers here & anyone on the various blog rolls; you’re all welcome to it, & you all deserve it.

I’ll be taking an off day from posting tomorrow—just for the sake of peace & quiet & to regroup a bit—have been a bit mentally (& physically) run down after the madhouse of the past couple of weeks. The weekend is doing me good, but I feel the need of a complete “down day.” Lots of fun stuff coming up this week here at Robert Frost’s Banjo, tho, including info on the woman who was the inspiration for the tongue-twister, “She Sells Seashells,” a profile of Indian Valley’s own mandolin maker (from whence came my mandolin!)—who knows: maybe even a new classic film write-up or a book review!

Original Poetry Sunday – Ghazal 5/23

It’s Sunday again, & still more poetry—another ghazal from yours truly for Original Poetry Sunday. Hope you enjoy this & also check out other possible participants (based on last week) like Sandra Leigh at Amazing Voyages of the Turtle (Sandra's poem is already postedplease check it out here) & René Wing at Yes is Red. Anyone else who wants, please join in, & let someone know so we can check out your work.

Stay tuned—there’ll also be a post this afternoon.


Ghazal 5/23


the electrical chirp of cicadas at 3:00 a.m. a warm
sky swarming with sparks of stars

a time prior to sleep’s invention in the hollows of an
archtop guitar trembling an A six chord thru the f-holes

a time prior to lilacs & the columbine petals’
violet gentle stare the white eye streaked purple

a glossolalia of crickets amongst holly
leaves in a Virginia backyard dusk August 1984

the cigarette smoke growing moths’ wings the
white web lawn chairs the green air asking for grief

the locus of sleep’s invention amidst a
flurry of spectral butterflies grazing the columbines’

eyes—I’m mostly awake—sparks of stars
scintillate thru crepe myrtles prior to meaning’s invention a

blue & green & gray chord plucked on an archtop
guitar in the purple void—a columbine’s eye

lidded in electric night—always sparks of stars al-
ways a time before time was a time after time

John Hayes
© 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dani!

Or almost birthday, because I have to confess I can’t remember if it was yesterday or today or tomorrow. But it’s the season, anyhow.

I know there was a big party for her yesterday chez Earl Butter right in the heart of Baghdad by the Bay, & Dani, whatever you’re up to today, all the best from us up here in the Idaho wilds.

Most of you who don’t have the good fotune to know Dani, who’s pretty much my best pal, but you can find out about her musical career thru her Musical Questions interview, & you can read about her fantastic & still pretty new book, Big Bend right here. Last, but most definitely not least: her latest Sister Exister cd Scratch is available here at CDBaby!

The video clip is a piece Eberle (primarily) & I (secondarily) composed for our Moominpappa at Sea soundtrack. Eberle’s playing a steel drum which Dani co-made with a gent from the wilds of Sonoma—or maybe even further into the depths of NorCal. I’m just playing a plain old electric gee-tar.

Enjoy the music y’all, & peace & love to Sister Exister!


A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets – 5/23

Rules are, as they say, made to be broken. Tho I’ve previously only posted one of my poems as the Saturday Weekly Poem, here’s the second of the Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets from the spring & summer of 1996. I’ll stick to the dates on posting these, & let the chips fall where they may.

During this time I lived in San Francisco’s Western Addition, just a couple blocks north of the Panhandle, the narrow strip of park that stretches east from Golden Gate Park & is bordered by Oak Street to the south & Fell Street to the North. Once you’re on the south side of the Panhandle you’re in the Haight district—to the north is the Western Addition—though I understand that these days developers are calling this “North of Panhandle” or “NoPa” in an attempt to gentrify the area.

The Western Addition (as I’ll always think of it) was a wonderful area. It was a working class neighborhood & traditionally had been an African-American neighborhood, tho by the mid-90s a fair amount of boho types such as myself were living there because the rents were still (by San Francisco standards) low. I loved walking its tree-lined streets, going to the markets & cafés & exploring Divisidero, the neighborhood’s major street that ran north-south. I lived there from June of 1994 until January 1998, when I moved to Idaho, & wrote some of my best San Francisco poems in my studio apartment there.


5/23


Tweed birds— sporting thought balloons too thinking
gadzooks an unmanageable rainbow landing at the bus terminal
& other wooly entities in the bottlebrush trees &
tea kettles whistling thru Marlowe’s paranoia

So much for Wednesday’s red desert floribunda
with its debonair hopeless yodeling
The cigarette smoke’s a gray sky white planes
penetrate What could they be hunting down

A wool NY Yankees cap misplaced under a quilt
or somewhere equally stifling
17 weeks of Sneaky Pete & smoke not to mention

oceanic dreams about steamships & icebergs emerging
under a hairy evening star that’s recuperating
like a fright wig floating above Point Lobos

© John Hayes 1996-2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weiser River Pillow Book #6


(Here's the May installement in Eberle's Weiser River Pillow Book series. If you'd like to know more about this work, please check the links here & here. You can find links to all the installments so far—December thru April—on the links under * Eberle's Corner * about halfway down the page.)

FROM ANGUISH TO PIE

Anguish angoisse angular arugula angel ungulate
angle angst agonia origami
Aragon, tarragon, paragon pie.

THE THING ABOUT WITCHES

The thing about witches is that they were independently minded—loners. That’s European witches, anyway. In Brazil and Bolivia they seem more integrated into the social structure. But it strikes me that all the lore about books of spells and other paraphernalia has been added to obscure the important fact that witches had no formulated tradition, that what they did was make up their own rules.

And learn from the land, about plants. But not to come up with poisons or medicines, not just for that, mostly to be connected—to the land, through what is observed and what is taught by the slow process of growth. Last week I told myself that if I felt inclined toward religion what I would do would be to learn one from this land—that ten acres of land with water would provide all you need for a civilization—with its own art forms, religion, values, and sustenance. I went outside and put some dried lavender beneath the metal pig-lady goddess, who lives in a shrine made from part of a tractor.


TOWELS ON THE BATHROOM SHELF

The faded pink one, with holes—for orphan days.
The thick black one that sheds slightly—when the illusion of opulence reveals its flaws.
The deep blue one—perfect, a reward reserved for harmonious days.
Striped ones—always go on the hand towel rack, for unexplained reasons.
The peach one—somewhere between the pink one and the blue one.
Turquoise—you have to be feeling a bit brash for this one.
The ones my companion brought with him to live here—still look exotic and exciting.
My grandmother’s, with rose appliqués—are fading, poignantly—death again.


THE FIRST LADYBUG

The first ladybug seen from beneath the cottonwoods starting to fill the air with cotton somehow makes me want to let the wild roses grow right into the laundry room—prying the siding apart as they have already started to do, and twining into the secret place where the totem umbrella lies month after month, untouched.


THE PARADE OF LEAVES

Cottonwood, willow, currant already jaded, the spiky blackberry and the elegantly down-curving elderberry, those of the serviceberry have serrated edges, those of the chokecherry do not, these are the ones I have come to know and it is strange to think that they unfurled in their stately, hurtling order before I came here to live among them.


THE SUMMER IS FULL OF GHOSTS

The summer is full of ghosts—of longings from other times of warmth and sun—longing built upon longing, in some kind of endless algebraic proof of itself. And yet this place comes closer than any I have known to containing what I love. Still, there are rustlings in the bushes—invisible things on the wing, with sharp beaks and singing.


THINGS THAT LOOK WELL AGAINST GREEN HILLS

Black cattle.

Ploughed fields.

Crayon-colored farm equipment.


THINGS SEEN ON A SHOPPING TRIP TO THE LAND OF THINGS

Garden hoses colored blue and purple instead of green.

A display of beef jerky in the men’s underwear section.

Bubble gum chips sold in miniature milk cartons.


LUCKY STRIKE AT THE DUMP

3 fans, various sizes.

Large iron hook.

Dishwasher part.

Large metal hoop.

Stove part.

Electrical box.

Bucketful of small metal bits.



SOME COLORS AT THE FARMSTEAD

Pumphouse: drifting sea and pink.

Pig-lady shrine: John Deere yellow and green, pomegranate.

Western shop wall: sombrero.



BLOOMING, MAY 22

Honeysuckle, columbine, iris, lilac, wallflower, geranium, phlox, dianthus, syringa.

Edible: watercress, sorrel, chives, cilantro, thyme, oregano.

Theoretically edible: cattails, camas root.


TIME AND TIDE

Charcoal vacuum filters, change twice a year.

Air filters, every three months.

Swamp cooler, clean out in the spring.

Refrigerator, when relatives are coming to visit.

Is it better to clean under the stove burners when the moon is new, do the dust bunnies increase when the moon is on the wane and trailing behind it the glittering flux of the object world—a milk jug emerging in the draw, a beer-bottle cap winking in the corral.


BIG HOT DAY

2 starlings trapped in the chimney—dismantling the stove pipe to let them out.

Cleaning out the swamp cooler pump and pan.

Hanging 2 sheets on the southwestern windows-- from the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store—torn, darned, and nibbled. One pale blue, one pale green. They make an underwater light pour across the living room.


THE ORDER OF THINGS

Dandelions.

Peonies after the lilacs, before the hedge roses.

Irises after lilacs.

Elderberries flowering after the currants berry.


TREES AND THEIR BEETLES

The bane of the locusts and their elegant branches, a borer resembling a wasp, cleverly, since that is its great predator. The box elder trees growing around an abandoned homestead I drove past hundreds of times before finally exploring it. The familiar deities of these localities presiding: a toppled refrigerator, large car parts—and swarming cities of box elder beetles.


EARLY MORNING THOUGHTS

Every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done.

Thinking how pleasant it is that two days still remain in the month of May—then remembering how you used to hate the calendar and drew up lunar calendars to follow instead.

Thinking you can give up some high-minded principles that made your first few decades more noble, but uncomfortable.


STRANGE SIGHTS

In the pond, in slow motion, a bullfrog which has its mouth almost entirely around another’s head.

A baby porcupine in the garden, without quills, defenseless.

A wasp wrapped up like a mummy in a black widow’s web.


LATELY WE HAVE ASKED ALOUD

What is the process of galvanizing?

Why bush league?

Why the card in the carding of wool?

There it sits, the Oxford English Dictionary, but sometimes we love a mystery.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets - 5/21

A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets were written over a bit less than three months in 1996; the date on each poem indicates when it was written. I remember them as being pretty spontaneous overall. As I mentioned earlier this month, I'll post these sonnets here on the dates they were written as a sort of 13 year anniversary.

I’m sure I envisioned more than seventeen sonnets, which is an odd number to end on, literally & otherwise, but in August I hit a wall. The poem dated 8/1 was the last thing wrote until writing “She Sells Seashells” in 2002; I then “put down the pen” again (only figuratively—I’ve pretty much only written on a computer keyboard for a number of years) until the spring of 2008.

The summer of 96 was significant to me both because I was nearing my 40th birthday in September (I think decade birthdays tend to be times of reflection), & also because I traveled from San Francisco back to Charlottesville, VA in July. I believe the 7/18 & 7/23 sonnets both were written on that trip. Since my time in Charlottesville (from 84-89) had been filled with all sorts of psychic commotion, the trip was a bit of a pilgrimage. Of course, the past—as always—had slipped away from any sort of tangibility into memory, where it’s both lost & ever present….

Some people assumed at the time the sonnets were being written that the character “Marlowe” was literally intended to be Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe character. Though I am a big Chandler fan & read him a lot around this time, this was at most a piece of the puzzle. I liked the name in general, & I also had the (reputedly) dissolute Elizabethan poet in mind along with the fictional LA detective. There also are both autobiographical & imagined details contained in the character quite separate from either of those two figures.

One final note—just because I liked the way it looked, I abbreviated state names in these poems: VT=Vermont, VA=Virginia, etc. When I gave readings I would say the state name, not the abbreviation. It seems a little confusing when used for Vermont because I don’t believe town names are ever mentioned alongside the abbreviation. I still keep this quirk up, along with my passion for dashes as sole punctuation & a few spellings that I like but some may or may not find like a tic; same goes for me & ampersands!

The streets referred to are in San Francisco, mostly either in the Mission or the Western Addition (or betwixt & between the two)— the places I loved to hang out & live in those days.

The first sonnet was dated 5/21. Here it is:

5/21


A badminton net in a VT backyard afflicted with a
Rosicrucian sunset & an outbreak of communist mosquitos
buzzing a Manachevitz buzz in Mr Marlowe’s a-
symmetrical ears— & a transistor radio

perched in a scotch pine sporting superfluous
shades & crooning Blue Bayou— which is likewise
superfluous— as Baltimore Orioles
swooping into the hedge to roost make Marlowe think

Descartes was right for no particular reason
except he’s cadaverous drunk & shouldn’t be lounging
in the tattered green & white lawn chair after all

his eyes floating westward plasmic inside a spectacular
bronze Chevy Malibu 15 miles east of Needles
where shuttlecocks & fortune cookies are likewise dissolving

© John Hayes 1996-2009


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sonnet – A Study in Poetic Form #2


A couple of weeks ago, I recorded some observations, opinions, etc. about the Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet form, particularly noting how its chief characteristic seems to be the division between octave (first eight lines) & sestet (final six lines), with a “turn” occurring at the point between lines eight & nine. As a writer, I find the Italian form the best to work with, & a number of English language writers—from Thomas Wyatt & John Milton to John Berryman & Adrienne Rich—have put this elegant & flexible form to use.

However, when English language poetry readers think “sonnet,” they are quite apt to think of William Shakespeare, & Shakespeare, as well as other renowned English language poets (including John Donne & Sir Edmund Spencer) used a quite different form. There is some variation between the “Shakespearean” sonnet & the “Spencerian” sonnet (tho to my mind there are more similarities than differences); as promised I’ll look at the “Shakespearean” form here.

If the Italian sonnet divides most clearly into two parts, the Shakespearean sonnet divides most clearly into four. These four parts are the three quatrains (typically with alternating rhymes: ABAB; CDCD; EFEF) & a couplet (GG). Of course, there is also a two-part structure comprising the combined quatrains set against the couplet (even as there is also a four part structure to the Italian sonnet: two quatrains making up the octave, & two tercets making up the sestet).

But I like to think first of the English sonnet’s quatrains as separate but unified entities, giving a prismatic view of the poem’s theme or “argument” (the latter term being particularly applicable to the English sonnet form as practiced by Shakespeare & Donne). So in Shakespeare’s well-known Sonnet 30 (given below), you can see the argument advancing in distinct “When,” “Then,” “Then” segments, each a separate quatrain. It’s important, I think, when contrasting the movement in the English & Italian sonnets to note that the rhyme scheme in the former tends to divide the quatrains (because each quatrain has two unique rhyming sounds) while the rhyme schemes in an Italian sonnet tend to unify the octave within itself (because the two quatrains have linked rhyming sounds) & the sestet also with itself, again because the rhymes within that section are linked. Of course the concluding couplet of the English sonnet also is made distinct because this again typically uses unique rhyming sounds.

Now—because the sonnet itself is worth a myriad of my words, here’s Sonnet 30:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.

William Shakespeare

It’s interesting, I think, to look at the opening phrases of the quatrains in a few other well-known Shakespearean sonnets to get a further sense of the prismatic effect:

Sonnet 18
“Shall I compare thee…
Sometimes too hot the eye…
But thy eternal summer…”

Sonnet 73
“That time of year…
In me thou see’st….
In me thou see’st…”

Sonnet 106
“When in the chronicle…
Then, in the blazon…
So all their praises…”

Sonnet 130
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like…
I have seen roses damasked…
I love to hear her speak…”

While this prismatic effect seems in itself something that would lend itself to contemporary treatments, in fact the English sonnet form doesn’t seem to be used as much as the Italian form. My guess is we’re so familiar with the English sonnet following an expository argument in Shakespeare & Donne (et al.) that it’s difficult to see the other possible effects as separate from that. It’s true that Ted Berrigan’s sonnets retain something more like the English form than the Italian, but the prismatic character there is even more minutely & irregularly divided. One 20th century poet who did use the English sonnet form in a generally recognizable guise but with a contemporary poetic outlook was e.e. cummings—perhaps not the first person you’d think of when it comes to sonnet writing. Check out this example:


)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is
more silent than more than much more is or
total sun oceaning than any this
tear jumping from each most least eye of star

and without was if minus and shall be
immeasurable happenless unnow
shuts more than open could that every tree
or than all life more death begins to grow

end's ending then these dolls of joy and grief
these recent memories of future dream
these perhaps who have lost their shadows if
which did not do the losing spectres mime

until out of merely not nothing comes
only one snowflake(and we speak our names

e.e. cummings

In certain ways, this inhabits a thematic territory that’s not dissimilar to Sonnet 30, but cummings’ syntactical displacements take us to a wholly new territory—again, as with Berrigan (but in a very different way) the quatrain prisms sub-divide into smaller prismatic units. It’s also worth noting that tho the sonnet has a regular rhyme scheme, all of the rhymes are “off” or “slant rhymes; so while certain sounds tend to unify the quatrains, they also allow the boundaries to be much more blurred.

I’ll post at least one more exploration of the sonnet, probably next Wednesday, tho I’m still cogitating what angle I’ll explore.

Picture of e.e. cummings is from the Library of Congress (thru Wikipedia) & in the public domain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dad’s Photos #8 - The Hurricane of '38

In the US, we typically think of hurricanes hitting the southern states along the Atlantic & Gulf coasts, but they do occasionally stray northward to New England, & can wreck considerable damage along that coast as well. One of these was the "New England Hurricane of 1938," also known as "the Long Island Express" because its initial landfall was on Long Island & because its forward movement was very rapid—this kept it from weakening even as it traveled over the cool North Atlantic waters.

The hurricane struck on September 21, 1938, & according to Wikipedia was the sixth most costly Atlantic hurricane ever, causing the equivalent of $39.2 billion dollars (adjusted to the contemporary dollar). The storm killed somewhere between 680 to 800 people.

Of course, as followers of the Dad’s Photos serie
s know, my father was working on Cape Cod in 1938, & so saw the devastation first hand. He also brought his camera along & captured what I believe are some arresting images. I’m including all 10 of the hurricane photos found in the album I inherited.



The Hurricane – Onset, Mass



Dry Sailing – Onset, Mass


High & Dry
A Seagoing Boat Out of Place


Wareham, Mass – Ever Ready Telephone Men on the Job

Road Past the Public Pier – Onset, Mass


Wareham, Mass

Buzzard’s Bay


Some Wind!


Bridge at Wood’s Hole (not a drawbridge either)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Palabras Como Rosas


As the old saying goes, I’m so far behind I think I’m in first. I’ve bemoaned my hectic week already here, as well as the hectic week to come, so I’ll spare you. I will say that when I wasn’t writing a ghazal, I spent much of the weekend at the business end of a lawn mower….

So I’m finally getting to some sorely neglected blog business, which involves passing on the Palabras Como Rosas Award that Cheryl of the wonderful Lizzy Frizzfrock blog passed along to me last week.

According to Cheryl, “The award is for words that like roses, leave a wonderful perfume, lingering for a while.” I get a feed from 50 (yikes!) blogs in my Google Reader, & all of these blogsprovide me satisfyingly lingering ideas & creations. But I’ll namesome that stand out & which, with one exception (which is appropriate, since Cheryl passed two awards to me recently), haven’t received any of the other awards I’ve passed on ; also I’m not mentioning any blogs to which Cheryl passed the award.

By the way, I know at least one of the blogs I’m mentioning has a policy about not passing along awards (a policy I understand & support in those who choose to follow it), so as usual, this award comes with no strings attached—but do pass it on if you’d like.

In alphabetical order:

Amazing Voyages of the Turtle: When I awarded Sandra Leigh the One Lovely Blog Award, I was kind of shocked that someone who’s been blogging for quite some time & at such a consistently high level had only been picked for one of these. So to remedy that, here’s the Palabras Como Rosas, which richly fits the excellent writing at Amazing Voyages of the Turtle. Sandra also was the creator of Original Poetry Sunday, a grand idea that I believe will attract more folks as time goes by. In addition to my contribution, please check out Sandra’s poem here & René Wing’s poem here; René’s blog Yes is Red is also very much worth repeated visits.

The Gold Puppy: Unlike Blogger, I don’t alphabetize this under “T”; Reya Mellicker of The Gold Puppy is a fantastic photographer & a very deep & interesting thinker. Her daily posts range widely in topic, but they always contain some wisdom about the way we experience the world, & how that experience changes us that give me something to think about thru the day. Reya’s blog is very successful, & deservedly so, with a wide readership, but a visit there still has the feeling of a “smaller” blog, since Ms Mellicker interacts with her many commentors in a friendly & good-humored way. Reya has also been a very staunch supporter of Robert Frost’s Banjo, & I appreciate that a great deal.

Just a Song: The Citizen K. blog has long been a must read for K.’s insightful take on politics, as well as his writing about films, books & music. In fact, K. has a special gift, I think, for writing about music, so it was no surprise that he started Just a Song as a side project. Just a Song features a full review of a given song, with a video showing the song performed & the lyrics. It’s a simple but elegant idea, & K. pulls it off very well both thru his insightful write-ups on the songs, but also thru his song selection—obviously a crucial element in this type of blog. K’s song choices range from numbers by Hank Williams & Leonard Cohen & Paul Robeson & Joan Baez & Merle Haggard & Bob Dylan—an eclectic batch, but each is given a great treatment. Be sure to check this one out.

New England Travels: I have a lot of respect for blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch. She produces three blogs, all with terrific content. I passed an award on to her once for perhaps her most popular production, Another Old Movie Blog, but I want to acknowledge the fine work she does on New England Travels (& Tragedy & Comedy in New England, her live theater blog). New England Travels both is & isn’t exactly what it sounds like; Ms Lynch does take us to any number of noteworthy places throughout New England—many of which were unknown to me, at least, & I did live in New England for almost 28 years, so she does take us off the main drag. But even more importantly, & as is the case in all her blog writing, Ms Lynch is a painstaking & insightful social historian, & she is capable of fleshing out, as she did recently for instance, the history of one street in Springfield, Massachusetts to give a vivid & compelling picture of a town’s history—cultural, commercial & so forth. I recommend all of Ms Lynch’s blogs very highly.

Notes from Lizard Camp: This is an interesting blogger from Missouri with thoughts on everything from politics to quantum physics to the laws of Karma. Randy Watson always succeeds in piquing my interest as he examines various philosophical (in the large sense of the word) concepts as they apply to his own daily existence. Which, of course, is “real” philosophy, as opposed to an intellectual exercise. There are also some photos on Notes from Lizard Camp taken by Randy’s wife Susan. This is a blog that may be flying a bit below the radar right now, but which really deserves a wider readership.

Finally: thanks for your generous consideration, Cheryl & sorry about taking so long to get to this! Now I need to put on my thinking cap about passing on the Kreativ Blogger Award passed on to me by my long-lost cousin several times removed, TotalfeckingEejit. More on that soon!