July 31 - August 1, 2001
The last day of July and the first of August merged into one long day. There was the usual end of the month work to do on my web site plus the ‘get-ready’ for Florens’s arrival on Friday. Usually Werner’s son comes with his whole family and we rent a place for them to stay since we do not have room here for everyone. This time he is stopping by after a chess meet in Colorado so he is alone and will stay with us. It is really no bother to have him here and actually we are looking forward to his visit when we do not have to share him with others.
The new computer still is giving me fits. Almost everyday I get error messages, programs shut down as if they cannot stand my presence one second longer, others refuse to do the simplest command. Weird stuff appears on my screen which I spend hours fussing with and it still remains in my view. I have been sitting in front of computers since 1985 but again I feel I am back to ground zero. I started out doing the POET PROFILE on ai li and everything seemed to be okay. Then she wanted to make a correction in her credits. Okay, I can do this. I tried to paste her new line into Frontpage and suddenly I had the dotty brackets for graphics as my cursor. This made me very nervous because when something on my computer is out of whack, I feel as if I need a doctor! Something is wrong with part of my body!
I thought maybe a new file would ‘cure’ my problem, so I began to do Open Mic. No luck. I was being followed by those damned dots. Even though I have copied the poems out of emails a zillion times (so it seems) into the program, there was no way to get rid of those dotted brackets. I got so fussed I had to quit, go take a walk, and read some more Virginia Woolf to clear out my system with the eraser of comfort.
Seeking even more mind-numbing comfort I worked on one of my little ‘booklets’ for Kuniharu, as thank you for all the neato graphics he has created to illustrate my haiku. Whenever I pay the bills, my reward for doing this distasteful job is to keep the envelopes they arrived in. These I fold, punch and bind into little booklets. Envelopes are double-sided so I can stamp, draw, insert and paste without worrying that anything will bleed through to the backside. The small size is handy for me to work on in my lap while sitting in my recliner, the trashiness of the old envelopes have lost all the sacred scaredness of using good paper and the fear of ruining it. Old address labels cover up a multitude of sins, addresses and stray marks. From all the information of these changes I then write haiku to fit what is on the various pages.
again our goddess
holds aloft the light
of postage stamps
was inspired by the statue of Liberty stamp.
Sometimes I have stamped or drawn on the pages or the labels, so the combination of factors varies widely. When the little envelope book fails to incite my thoughts, I stare out the window, watch the cat or just dream.
sea winds petting
a great animal
Last winter I designed a set of stamps of the letters of the alphabet. I have always been bothered by the ups and downs of lower case letters when used for haiku. They appear so bumpy, so very jagged – too busy. For many years I wrote all my haiku in upper case letters just so the lines would have even tops and bottoms. Then when computers came along, upper case letters where seen as ‘screaming’ and I really was not into that with my haiku, so I had to accept the wobbly look of lower case. Then, while studying a font book, I saw the font done with imitation ransom note alphabets – the letters were inside little boxes of solid surround. Perfect. So I carved each letter out of a square of eraser-like plastic. Now when I look at a haiku the rows have not only a solid background, the dance of the shapes of the letters comes forward without destroying one’s sense of the quiet space haiku need to be surrounded with.
Of course it is a job to hand stamp each letter in place since they are about 1/4th inch square. But doing such manual work causes me to refocus from worries to pure pleasure so that my mind unravels as if I have been in a deep sleep. When I finally did go to bed at 11:00 my fingers were a deep blue, my neck was stiff and I was tired.
But this was not enough. At three I was wide awake and worrying about how I would do all those Open Mic poems with those odd buttons in my vision. The old 3:00 am fears of would I be adequate to the job? Could I get it done in time? – which was really silly because no one expects me to be ‘on time’ except my own inner self (who is a giant at this time of the morning). I couldn’t sleep so I got up, woke up the cat and the computer and got back to work. The dots were still on my screen but I was rested enough to ignore them.
By breakfast I had half the month done. Okay. Then I remembered why I had been so worried about getting the job done today. Werner and I had agreed to clean the house this morning. We have divided it into two parts. The upstairs is ‘his’ – he gets to decorate it as he likes (monk plain and empty) and the downstairs is ‘mine’ which I can do with as I like. This means we have no living room – it is my studio and is full of my stuff arranged in the way I want to live with it. He ‘can’ come down for meals and I ‘can’ go upstairs to sleep at night. Otherwise, we try to stay out of each other’s domains. This also means we each clean our own parts the way we want to do that job. I claim I dust more than he does, but I keep my nose out of his business. The noise and disruption is best shared on the same day at the same time.
So we did the cleaning. I took a short nap and returned to working on Open Mic. I was able to get it done just as the news reports were warning that the Code Red Worm would hit. So instead of sending out all my newly minted and polished files into the scary cold world, I let them have one more night safe in my house in my goofy computer.
a picket fence
July 30, 2001
I was busy preparing for some kind of a pageant. We needed to wear kimono and there were none long enough to fit me, so I asked one of the participants if she would make it for me. I gave her the fabric, stood still while someone else carefully measured me and thought that the matter was taken care of.
When we came together for the rehearsal, she showed up with empty hands. I had never met her before, and was surprised how small and dwarfish she was. As I looked at her more closely I realized where my new kimono was. She had sewed it so poorly or maybe she actually made it for herself, but anyhow she was wearing it. It fit her in some aspects but dragged on the ground, snarling up her feet. I probably should have gotten angry with her, but she seemed so pathetic I felt it was not worth the effort. I actually gave her a hug as I surveyed the situation. I still needed a kimono and that was the most pressing problem to me. Slowly but surely others in the pageant realized what had happened. Another woman, unknown to me, stepped forward, quickly took my measurements and within an hour was carrying in the folded kimono on her outstretched arms with the smile of an angel on her face.
I put the kimono on and it fit and felt marvelous. The blues and grayish purples were perfect for me. Suddenly I was taller, straighter and had the self confidence I had always sought. As we began our parade, it seemed we were walking through a hotel, a woman in western dress ran up to me and gave me a gift wrapped in white paper. I barely had time to thank her as the entourage was hastened to the place we were to perform.
I was so nervous things went into a blur. I only remember afterwards greeting a man who was in a very, very faded and threadbare Oriental costume. It had once been a rich red brocade but now was a soft velvety pinkish gold. He complimented me on the performance and I felt he was an original and knew better than I how to play the part, so his words meant very much to me. I was wishing I had had his counsel before the show as I was sure I could have done it better.
I think that part of my dream, the part about the person who failed to sew the kimono, was my concern that ai li would not return the interview in time for me to put it up on the Poet’s Profile (http://www.ahapoetry.com/pphmpg.htm) for the first of the month. In fact I took the dream as ‘fact’ of prior knowledge and was already planning on the back-up profile, but when I opened the email – there was the document. She had not ‘failed’ me but had checked the material carefully, fixed a couple of things and made it better than ever. I was greatly relieved to find out that I do not know how to interpret my dreams after all.
A marvelous package arrived yesterday from Shaun and Jackie. As a ‘thanks’ for their visit here in June, Jackie had made a fantastic photo album of our days. I had no idea she had taken so many photos, but I was very touched at her devotion to capturing our time together. Then she put so much effort into making pages and pages of photos, complete with captions and little stories. I know how much work such books are to make, so I enjoy even more having someone else make a book like this for us. It also pleased me that instead of using a regular photo album, she and I use the same method – three-ring notebooks and plastic sleeves. In her letter Jackie said she is again keeping a journal – news that pleased me very much because I think this is so important.
In the afternoon I was rereading in Virginia Woolf – A Writer’s Life by Lyndall Gordon about Virginia’s own diary keeping where I found: ". . . so that life mayn’t be wasted.’ She castigated herself if she did not catch every drop in the bowl of her diary. If eleven days went unrecorded it was a ‘lapse’. She [Virginia Woolf] wrote: ’life allowed to waste like a tap let running.’"
Aside: this small quote shows how poorly written is Gordon’s book – it is driving me nuts to read it. But I do appreciate her gathering up the information such as: "One clue to what she was after is the fact that she pored over Wordsworth’s long autobiographical poem, The Prelude, soon after her abortive attempt to launch her first draft [of The Waves]. On 22 August 1929, she made a note of lines in which Wordsworth comforts himself that his attention to inner as opposed to external event will not be scorned by those:
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, and the curious props
By which the world of memory and thought
Exists and is sustained."
July 29, 2001
The major portion of the day went into hoisting graphics up onto the web, from one machine to another and getting the new computer to handle the USB thingamabob. $40.00 and a visit from the computer guru has that working but I still do not know how or why I ended up with thumbnails instead of full photos when I transferred the files. I often feel like the sorceress’s apprentice as I bungle through all this magic without knowing what is happening why and how. I keep expecting caldrons of oatmeal to overwhelm my room.
In the afternoon, glad to go out in the windy sunshine for a walk to clear my head, we saw that the doe was teaching her twin fawns to ‘eat out’ by having Sunday dinner at Doris’s feeder. So they are big enough already to be nibbling grains? We were surprised that they were so sure about the security of their eating place that they did not run as we walked by, but just stood there watching us as if we were rather interesting local fauna.
On our way back, Doris was out replenishing the feeders so we stopped to stock up on the local gossip. Two neighbors’ wells have already gone dry this year and the driller is putting down six new wells on the empty lots. I think there is a phrase: "hope springs eternal." I just hope it brings enough water for all these monster houses that are going up in the meadows.
hope is a strange invention
as a train goes through the burial gate
finding is the first act
then the harebell loses its girdle
her sweet turn to leave the homestead
I was struck by Doris’s comment, that when she moved here her goal was to write children’s stories but she got side-tracked by accepting a job in education instead. As she talked about the need for good science books for the young, I just kept staring at her trying to see where the stories were in her. They seemed to be floating around her, just out of reach but showing an eagerness to be taken in. Somehow this made me so sad I felt rather ill all evening. How could I take so deeply this aspect of her life? I barely know the woman.
In the flowers
apparently with no surprise
I worked for chaff earning wheat
don’t frown always for that sweet day
July 28, 2001
As we went south out of our summer day, the wisps of fog became thicker and thicker. We could no longer orientate ourselves to the ocean and there was no wind, so that the smells of land and sea mingled into a confusion. After what seemed hours, we saw in the distance a slice of hill cut through the fog that reveal the walls of a sturdy fort. This was Fort Ross, the settlement established by the Russians in 1812, for a fur trading. Here sixty miles north of San Francisco, explorers had come across the seas at Alaska, and down the wild coasts to establish a bit of Russia among the Kashaya Pomo Indians.
The closer we came the more people joined us turning into toward the outpost heavily guarded by men and women in green and tan uniforms. At the gatehouse, where the identification papers were handed out, we were asked if we were Russian or English. When we declared ourselves to be English, the guardswoman, whose hands were full of papers, had to reach inside the log house for one in English. Right there we should have known that in the fog we had crossed an international border. Even though it was early in the morning so many people had already arrived that we had to park our rig far out on the grassy meadow. As we walked along in the direction of the fort, we could overhear the groups of families talking among themselves. We understood not one word.
Swimming through even thicker fog and the strange music of another language, we crossed the bridge over a stream of ferns. Hmmm. Ferns instead of water? As far as we could see there was only a lush green where water should be. Coming back up the hill out of the gulch we could see men on horseback riding toward the fort. We hurried toward the open door of the wall, but only got as far as the gardens when the air was blasted by the retort of cannons. Quickly, then came the sound of musket fire. Hastening inside we saw the officers of the fort, armed to the teeth, lined up before the officers’ quarters high on the hill. Through the sea sally came a party of Mexican officers. The crowds whispered that it was led by the Envoy Don Agustin Fernandez de San Vincente. There seemed to be quite an argument among the men. We were close enough to hear their loud voices. It seems that now, it was 1822, Mexico had declared its independence from Spain and was now in the process of reclaiming their lands they called Alta California. They saw the Russian settlement as a threat to their claims of the beautiful ocean cove, and hillsides high with redwoods. Then it seemed calmer voices in the parties prevailed and a tentative peace was worked out.
The crowd of on-lookers dispersed and the soldiers went back to their jobs. We climbed up higher on the hill to go to the church. People were ringing the huge bronze bell with glee that the parley had gone so well. Inside the people stood in a circle on the floorboards over two-feet wide as they smelled incense and heard the chant of the measured tones of a priest. The icons were on display so even those who did not know Russian (us) could understand the service.
Back outside we visited the various crafts persons at work under canvas roofs. On one wall was the candle maker whose assistants, ladies in peasant blouses, long skirts and wide aprons, helped even the young children to roll a beeswax candle for their own pockets. On the other wall was a place where people, young and old, men and woman sat in the grass weaving baskets. Reeds were soaking in old wine casks and wash tubs as more women taught the fine art of crossing reeds and tying them together with thin wood strips.
Under the apple trees in front of the Rotchev House musicians played guitars, accordions and a hammered dulcimer.
dappling the dulcimer
apple tree shadows
A woman was humming as she spun her wool and nearby was her children and their two pet goats.
in the music
One man was weaving a huge basket and visitors sat around him on wooden benches to listen to the music. The old tunes transported the visitors to other times, other places and it was not unusual to see eyes bright with tears as the memories came out of the fog with the first rays of the noontime sun.
in the music
With a change of the wind came the smells of a wood fire and meat being cooked.
Around the corner, where now the old millstones stand as monuments, the peasant women were preparing the vegetables. In iron pots long spoons stirred the stews as meat juices dripped from the grill above. By the wood pile sat a white-haired man playing a hurdy-gurdy with children huddled at his feet watching in utter awe.
As we looked through the gate to the sea, we could see that traders from the Hudson Bay Camp had pitched their tents in the high grass and spread their wares. Most of the men gravitated to the rack of saddles and horse gear, while the women eyed the spoons made of horn, the copper kettles and the handsome man in the big black hat. Only the old trapper with his flintlock and furs seemed able to maintain the air of complete peace. People strolled west to the edge of the land, and then descended to the beach to visit Il’ia Voznesenskii, a Russian scientist and ethnographer, who was gathering information for the Imperial Academy of Sciences. He and his men had camped here as they studied how the native peoples (many who had come south with the Russians from the Aleutian Islands) made their native kayak, the baidarka. By now the wind had roughed the sea into white caps so no one wanted to dare to seek the seals and otters no matter how much the traders would pay for the hides to be sent back to Mother Russia to be made into hats and coats.
As we sat on the grassy hillside overlooking the beach, in the last wisps of fog we could hear the songs of the Slavyanka Choir practicing in the background. As people came up from the steep climb they would greet us with smiles we understood but with words that seemed to come from unhewn blocks of wood. We began to realize that we were in a foreign land. Not only had the fog moved us to another time, we were no longer in Amerika.
Up in a hollow under the stony cliff in the pine grove, visitors could buy food – Russian specialties from the Blagovests. All afternoon the picnic tables were filled as wave after wave of people came down the road under the huge old eucalyptus trees as they followed their noses to the food. Here again, we heard not a word of English. Only the sounds of birds seemed familiar as the wild canaries house wrens flitted from thistle to thistle.
Feeling a bit uneasy we moved back into the fort, where the sound of metal hammered by metal attracted our attention. Two blacksmiths worked at their rumbling forges as they bent and twisted the glowing metal. Young boys watched wide-eyed at the big strong men as they performed their mysterious rites.
But that was only the beginning. Next to them was a black-bearded man with tiny metal glasses who, using only a piece of stone could start a fire. When the punk was sparked he rolled it into a ball of ‘old man’s beard’ the moss that hangs on the coastal trees. This ball, only slightly smoking he handed around so the kids could hold the fire ball. Only when he blew on it with a pipe of wood did the moss ignite and catch the splinters of kindling into a roaring fire.
Engrossed in these wonders, and the man who carved spirals into square wood poles, we failed to notice that a ship had landed in the cove. Only when alerted by musket fire and a man running across the compound screaming, did we know that the Yankee ship, the Mentor had landed and that the captain, on his return from the Orient, was coming into the fort. All the men were very excited as they had been without tea for several months and had been substituting raspberry leaves for far too long. They were eager to trade the furs for a real drink. But to their surprise, the captain told a story that the English, had captured his ship and taken off all his tea. The men were very unhappy, and it seemed as if mutiny was brewing until the captain opened a chest and showed them that he did have rum instead. Karl Ivanovich Schmidt, a Finn, the manager, and the captain toasted each other the good deal they made over the furs while both sides cheered.
Everyone was a in a good mood and we were shown through all the barracks where the men lived. I was surprised that all the beds were so neatly made but in the workshops, where the tinsmith and the cooper worked, the floor was littered with scraps as if they had just stepped out for a cup of coffee from the samovar in the mess hall. There was the fresh dark bread from the oven that seemed to warm the low cool rooms. Back outside the sun was slipping down the heavy log walls and we were reminded that we, as foreigners, could not spend the night here. It was time to leave the hardworking folks at Fort Ross by the way of Highway One.
July 27, 2001
This morning when I walked toward my computer room I noticed it was filled with a strange pink glow. Not only were the walls, usually vanilla, now pink but from corner was a square of solid pinkness. As rapid as my steps I discovered the change. Yesterday, in a fit of cleaning up (Werner’s son from Germany arrives in a week) I had thrown a colorful sarong from Hawaii over the still-hooked-up old computer The morning light coming in the east window had caught up its bright colored flowers and tossed them all over the room in a shower of blossom-glow. I have always covered up my monitor at night with a smaller soft pink scarf from Hatsue but I had been neglecting to cover the old one. But what a difference to come into the room to meet a glowing love instead of the cold stares of computer screens. I am not one of those Ludites who hate technology – I think computers are a revolution in more ways than we can comprehend. But they demand a lot of learning so we know how to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. Those hunks of plastic and glass need to be shifted slightly in their being so they reflect our personalities instead of that of only manufacturers and developers. Again I have seen again how important it is to change their radiation even when they are turned off.
Speaking of turning off – I got our electric bill yesterday and saw that our usage for last month was down 48% over the year before. Of course the bill was nearly the same as last year but at least the check did not have to go out with a doubled amount.
that he had done another illustration of my haiku. This time I was totally
blown away by his work.
I had looked at all the works on his site (what a lot he has accomplished!)
and liked the very best the ones with transparencies, overlapping and
disappearing edges. And this is exactly what he did this time for me. I was so
happy. I had been feeling that perhaps my haiku were too literal, not
inspiring enough, but now I am feeling completed, delighted and very content.
In his email he enclosed:
"Here is what I wrote as an acknowledgement on the first issue of Haijinx web-magazine.
Haiku is wonderful. It gives joy to the people.
In my case, I feel joy when I create art, I simply love to make drawings and paintings. Haiku gives me what I need to create. It is pure inspiration. With the inspiration, I can release my creative energy, and that makes me joyous. What's more, the haiga I make seem to make others joyous, and I am happy for it. This is a way of joyous life.
So, I would like to thank all the wonderful haiku and poets out there."
Kuni-san is such a beautiful person and his joy in life and haiku is reflected in each of his paintings. Sometimes people complain about how nasty people in the haiku scene are, and then someone like him arrives and changes the whole community with quiet goodness. I love the way (above in the quotation) he thanks, not only the poets writing haiku but also thanks the haiku themselves. He is right. They do become living entities. Everyone who reads a haiku gives it a bit more life and keeps it alive with their eyes and their own lips. This holds true for all poems and all artwork. That is why it is ‘wrong’ to hide your work away. You have given birth to a bit of yourself in interaction with your world. The only way to keep it alive is to nourish it with your attention. This means showing your work to others. If they can appreciate it, they will continue to feed your gift. If someone fails to appreciate your art, it means, not that the artwork is faulty but only that it was shown to someone who was not in a place where they could appreciate it.
I am listening to myself as I type this because (above) I thought my own haiku were not ‘good enough’ until Kuni-san’s painting showed me that his view of the poem was greater than my own. Now, as I look at his two previous painting, I realize that they too, are just right for those poems.
daisy follows soft the sun
the bird did prance - the bee did play
as one does sickness over
I could bring you jewels had I a mind to
the pretty rain from those sweetest eaves
It is a gorgeous summer day so I am going to cut this short to get out and enjoy it!
July 26, 2001
I was up, but not awake, dressed but yet without my beta-blockers, when the phone rang. The deep, six foot-plus voice identified himself as being from Sheraton Books. My cry, "Oh no, not again!" interrupted his words saying, "Your invoice is overdue." His calm got me to explain the other two times I have gone around and around with the accounting department of this company (it was formerly BookCrafters in the days when it was run properly and did a great job of printing books) and how each time the company was proved wrong after a long series of phone calls, faxes and emails. I’m sure that even in Michigan he could see my blood pressure rising so he terminated the call saying he would check into the matter. Steam was still coming out of my ears when he called back to say my account had been confused with Aha Processing Inc. and it that company, not mine, that had a bill in arrears. He apologized for his error; leaving me with the gigantic job of quieting myself. Meditation seemed to slide off me like a greased pig in the rain. Even reading the Psalms, which did not seem vindictive enough for my mood, failed to sidetrack my stream of thoughts. I know one of my ‘buttons’ is justice / injustice and when this one is merely brushed (as when saying I had not paid a bill I owed), Mt. Etna seems a grass-covered pasture.
I knew that the most calming thing could be to do a good deed for someone else. So I decided to sign up for the Golden Membership for Diaryland.com because I truly think Andrew has designed a great site and deserves to make a little money on his invention. Okay. It was easy and pleasant navigating his process for buying the membership. Piece of cake. Then it came to PayPal to handle the credit card. "Okay. I can do this with my eyes closed." I thought. I have spent money (or something equivalent) on line enough to feel like a pro. I have even survived shopping at Amazon.de, the German division of Amazon.com, which is a chamber of horrors where it once cost me $30.00 postage and handling for a $10.00 book.
De jévú at PayPal! First problem was my password needed to have MORE than eight characters. I cannot spell any word of more than eight letters twice the same without a spell-check. Like a haiku writer I sat before my computer counting on my fingers as I thought of words I could spell with confidence that would stump a hacker. All the words that came to mind were the ones concerned with cashmoney or computers or aconsentualsex – exactly where a hacker’s mind lives. Finally, after a coffeebreak I was able to come up with a new and unusual password of which I was rather proud. Sometimes high school Latin is just the thing one needs in the modern world. Then came the box for the question for them to ask me when I forget this great word. Usually one just types in a question as if on that TV quiz show, but no, they had four ready-made choices. My password could be the answer to: 1. My mother’s maiden name. That would not work because some far-off cousin by marriage has posted the genealogy of my whole family on a web site in capital letters. Besides, any righteous hacker, would try this name first – and Bingo! 2. The name of my pet. Everyone who even only knows my online persona knows about Buddha and the living hell he leads me through. Besides, that name has only six characters. Wrong again. It is terrible when even the "Buddha" is unacceptable. 3. My social security number. That is the least secure number in my life because it is on more lips than the Host on Sunday. 4. The city in which I was born. My resume, online, contains this great secret. At least Ohio is not interested in claiming me as a native daughter of one of their cities, but still people know.
For an embarrassing number of minutes I stared at my computer screen trying to think of a fancy password that could conceivably be the answer to one of those questions. I tried this and I tried that. I typed in so many ********’s that finally I got the form manager as confused as I was and there was no way it could accept both my password and a question with the computer at which they thought I was sitting. Like a Kansas tornado, error piled on error. Faster and faster the screens popped up with writing in bright blood-red print telling me to do that, stop doing that, and to try again. Even when I read a message that I had gone to far to get out, I fooled the machine. I hit the sanity button, and scuttled back to the safety of my world. How comforting it was to just click over to read the up-date on the volcano Pu’u O’o (Ripe Pimple) on Hawai’i. Now this is my idea of online excitement.
Calmed down, I was able to go back to Diaryland, to scroll down farther and discover that I could also pay by check. It seems terribly old-fashioned way to do this transaction but so is security and even more retro is – calm.
sea sky blue
between islands of fog
Copyright ©Jane Reichhold 2001
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July 25 - 18, 2001
July 17 - 11, 2001
July 10 - 4, 2001