Merwin’s “A Likeness”

I’ve been reading W.S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius for a little over a month now — usually a sign I don’t much like what I’m reading. I’m not sure that’s true this time, though because I much prefer the second half of the book to the first half. I have marked nearly twice as many poems in the second half to re-read as I did in the first half.

Too much of the first part of the book is spent in reminisce, or, rather, in studying the nature of reminisce on an abstract level, and, despite recent indulgences, those are qualities I’m not particularly fond of.

I’m biased against poems that begin “time unseen time our continuing fiction/ however we tell it eludes our dear hope and our reason” and end “and was the veil still there/ when my mother turned from her own garden one evening that same year”. The closer death comes, the less I’m concerned about it, and the more I’m concerned about this moment.

I did like this poem, though,


Almost to your birthday and as I
am getting dressed alone in the house
a button comes off and once I find
a needle with an eye big enough
for me to thread it
and at last have sewed the button on
I open an old picture of you
who always did such things by magic
one photograph found after you died
of you at twenty
beautiful in a way
I would never see
for that was nine years
before I was born
but the picture has
faded suddenly
spots have marred
maybe it is past repair
I have only what I remember

perhaps because it uses concrete examples like the missing button and the fading photograph to reach the simple conclusion, “I have only what I remember.”

At my age, the past certainly looms much larger than it used to, particularly because I don’t have as much “future” to balance it out, but I much prefer to live my life in the here and now. And more and more I prefer to live my life doing things, experiencing things, rather than philosophizing about things, particularly about things I couldn’t change even if I wanted to.

I’m not sure what “reality” is; I’m not even sure I really care any more. Simple joys make me happy. And that’s enough reality for me.

Lael Photographs

Although sorting digital photographs is literally a pain in the rear end, doing so brings back a lot of good memories. Like most old folks, I have favorite stories I repeat incessantly, and one of them is based on this shot. Lael was just a few weeks old when I watched her the first time. I laid her on the floor to change her diaper and when I went to throw the diaper out Skye brought his Kong over and dropped it next to her, waiting patiently for her to throw it. If I hadn’t thrown it for him, he might still be waiting for her to throw it.

Skye and Lael

Nowadays one of the high points of our week is when Gavin and Lael come to spend the night; it’s one of the few times Skye will actually push the screen door open to greet her, usually with his ball in his mouth.

Being the family “baby” and the only girl, Lael often enjoys being the center of attention,

Lael with Father and Brother

and who wouldn’t?

Though she enjoys being the baby, I thing she enjoys mothering babies even more, though I’m not sure big brother Kel knew quite what to think when she wanted to cuddle up with his little sister Mira.

Kel, Lael, and Mira

Loving to cuddle and being cuddled is fine, but I’m still glad she seems to have a little of Grandpa’s temper when crossed,

Lael's Not Happy

though I’m pretty sure she gets her desire to be the center of attention more from her mother than from me.

Upstaging Mom

After all, I’ve always preferred being behind the camera to being in front of it.

Treading Water

I seem to be treading water around here, and not just the water dumped by the constant clouds here in the Pacific Northwest, though that has kept me from getting my yard back into shape.

No, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with this blog, as you’ve probably noticed. I did upgrade to WordPress 3.0 this morning, though I still haven’t attempted to update to the new theme which is part of the upgrade. I do plan on doing that shortly, though. Or, at least eventually.

Most of my time behind the scenes has been spent trying to deal with digital photographs. I tried to optimize my fragmented hard drives and somehow ended up unintentionally deleting photos that I wanted to save. That required the purchase of a photo recovery program, which, as it turns out, did too good of a job of recovering deleted photographs. It actually seems to have recovered photos I deleted over the last several years — and that’s a hellacious number of photos. Now I have to go through all the recovered photos and delete the ones I didn’t want in the first place while not deleting ones I do want. Let’s just say I have a 400 GB hard drive that’s now half full, and that’s after spenidng a couple of days deleting nearly 200 GB of unwanted photos.

Now that I’ve started the process, I’m determined to keep going until I’ve deleted ALL the photos I don’t want and backing up the ones I do want onto Bluray disks. I’m thinking there’s no reason to keep old versions of Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, etc that I took five years ago with an inferior camera and inferior lens when I have new shots that are much better. As it is, I’m pretty sure that anyone besides me would look at the whole mess and just delete all of them rather than try to deal with it. Heck, I’m pretty close to the same point. Of course, I’ve long known that, but it’s easier to know something than it is to deal with it, particularly when you going out and taking new pictures is a lot more fun.

It’s amazing how life gets in the way of having fun, isn’t it? I also have several buckets of flowers sitting in the back of the pickup that needed to be planted to replace the ones that died last winter. I’ll have to get to those this afternoon, after Skye’s walk. And then, now that we have a little sunshine I need to mow the lawn again. It’s hard to believe that’s been nearly a week since I mowed it.

Rose Garden

Our predicted sunshine didn’t shown up this week. No surprise there as June continues May’s continuous rainfall. Still the sun did manage to break through the clouds for a short time Monday and, sparked by Kerdelune’s beautiful roses, I headed to the Pt. Defiance Rose Garden to see what was happening since my last visit.

There were certainly lots of roses blooming, but those that had been open for awhile looked “weathered” while several plants seemed to be suffering from various forms of mildew. You didn’t have to look too hard, though, for a rose that takes your breath away:


Nor did you have to listen too hard to hear White-Crowned Sparrows herald the sunshine, no matter how fleeting,

White Crowned Sparrow Singing

while a nearby white-robed choir seemed to drink in the song and sunshine.

Calla Lily

The real highlight of the day for me, though, was the Iris that several weeks ago looked even more bedraggled than today’s roses. Apparently the cool weather has served them well, at least judging from this royal beauty:

Purple and Gold Iris