4.11.2022 – sea and sky welded

sea and sky welded
together without a joint
vanishing flatness

Adapted from the opening lines of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Conrad writes: In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom

According to Wikipedia, Conrad “wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of what he saw as an impassive, inscrutable universe.

Conrad was “was always at heart a writer who sailed, rather than a sailor who wrote.”

Conrad himself said about his writing that, “the public mind fastens on externals” such as his “sea life”, oblivious to how authors transform their material “from particular to general, and appeal to universal emotions by the temperamental handling of personal experience”.

I am near the water not out on the water, still I will say, that the overall overwhelming size of the ocean and the pace of tide puts a different pace to human endeavor, experience and feeling condensing them into a mournful gloom.

Sitting on the beach, on the ocean side I am reminded of Huckleberry Finn floating down the big still river saying, ” We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all.

4.8.2022 – go down to the edge

First you figure out
what each one means by itself
thousand little words

Based on the poem, Breakage, by Mary Oliver.

Thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Here is the poem.

Breakage by Mary Oliver.

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

go down to the edge
of the sea – How everything shines
in the morning light

It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words, thousands of words
First you figure out what each one means by itsel

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Breakage’ by Mary Oliver.

3.28.2022 – one small step for man

one small step for man
one giant leap for mankind
did step on the moon

What did Neil Armstrong say when he landed on the Moon?

I mean okay, after he said Houston …

What did he say when he first stepped on the Moon?

The writers at NASA crafted this great line that he memorized but when he said it there was a buzz of static and the world remembers that he said, “one small step for man …’ and then said, “one giant leap for mankind.”

The goofy thing is I was 9 and I distincly heard FOR MAN and wondered what the difference was between MAN and MANKIND.

But NASA issued the press release that said Mr. Armstrong said, “A MAN.”

Mr. Armstrong said he said, “A MAN”

As in “One small step for A man.”

Which works much better with “One giant leap for mankind.”

What is funnier is that the third man on the moon, Pete Conrad, the mission commander of Apollo 12, who was shorter than Mr. Armstrong, said, “That might have been one small step for Neil, BUT WHOOOEEEEE.”

I guess in a way it IS more important that Mr. Armstrong steps were out on to the moon.

And he was the first to do it and that isn’t going to change.

But I came across another Neil Armstrong footnote yesterday that I was not aware of and I read a lot of these ‘early days of NASA’ books.

Yesterday I went in pursuit of the song, Fly Me to the Moon.

The information I came across again and again referred to the the fact that NASA had adopted the tune as a sort of theme song for the entire space program.

I thought that was interesting but not worth mentioning.

Not worth mentioning until I went search for a you tube video of the song.

I said yesterday I found lots and lots of videos of different recordings of Fly Me to the Moon.

One of them was of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

Well gee whiz, a LOT of them were of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

But one had a very odd thumbnail graphic.

I would swear it showed, a piano and Ms. Krall set up … in a church??

I had to click on it and there it was.

At the memorial service for Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon, Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon.

And you know what?

That is just pretty darn cool any way you present it.

Entirely appropriate.

Such a very right thing to do.

So entirely unexpected.

Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon and Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon at your funeral.

That’s a trifecta in any book.

ps – anyone making notes for when the time comes and my ashes are scattered in the out going tide, you can ask Diana Krall to come sing and she can choose the song.

3.24.2022 – cannot think of a

cannot think of a
time that is oceanless have
no destination

Adapted from the passage:

Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing
Into the wind’s tail, where the fog cowers?
We cannot think of a time that is oceanless
Or of an ocean not littered with wastage
Or of a future that is not liable
Like the past, to have no destination.

in Four Quartets, Dry Passages, Part II by TS Eliot.

2.26.2022 – boats of mine boating

boats of mine boating
other little children shall
bring my boats ashore

Adapted from Where Go the Boats? by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

Dark brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

I thought it was fitting that Mr. Stevenson also wrote Treasure Island and I was on an island, looking at these boats, with my Granddaughter Dallas and all I could think was the verse in the Bible, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

And my treasure wasn’t in the boats.

I also cannot help but think of my sixth grade class at Crestview Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As I think of it, many of my teachers started the day reading to us.

Saying that I realize that for the years, 4th, 5th and 6th grade, I had 2 teachers.

Miss Critchell was my teacher for 4th and 5th and Mr. Vanderwheel was my teacher in 6th grade.

Miss Critchell was a rookie and Mr. Vanderwheel had been at Crestview forever.

I can picture them in the mornings getting coffee and Miss Critchell having a nervous stomach about walking into the classroom and not knowing where to begin and Mr. Vanderwheel saying something like, “you know what works for me …”

We would all gather on the playground and blacktop as we called it, outside the school doors and wait for the first bell.

That was the signal to line up by class in front of the glass doors that led into the scool.

Crestview was U shaped and had an entrances to the building off the blacktop at the top of each arm of the U.

Facing the school looking at the top of the U, the left hand side was the 4th thru 6th grade side.

The big kids.

The side that had one large set of boys and girls restrooms off the main hallway.

The right hand side was the K thru 3rd grade side.

The little kids.

The rooms on this side had restrooms in the classroom which was great when you had to throw up.

The restroom in the Kindergarten was an in-room restroom and for some reason, the light switch was on the outside. This made for great fun when someone was in the restroom and the light could be turned off by anybody else.

Not that I would have done anything like that.

That first bell would ring and we would all line up.

We lived so close that many times my Mom would yell, “I heard the first bell!” and we would run out the door still getting dressed or eating a pop tart.

We lived a block down the hill from school and could hear all the bells as they rang.

Every once in a while due to power surge or outage or something those bells would go off on their own.

Sometimes on weekends and sometimes even in the summer.

Time change weekend always seemed to mess them up.

One time I remember, but I don’t remember how old I was, they went off in the middle of the night and rang for what seems like over an hour.

We always wondered who got in trouble for that one and we knew someone got in trouble because our neighbor across the street was Mrs. Schad, who was Chairperson of the school board for as long as I was in school and we knew she had to have been woken up by the sound of the bell as well.

Maybe that is why they got turned off.

As an aside, for the longest time the Grand Rapids Public Schools never closed, never missed a day, for snowy weather. When Mrs. Schad would be interviewed by local media, she would always say she looked out her window and the children were having no problem getting to school.

Those children were US.

We often talked about walking out into the snow and collapsing in fatigue in front of her house but we never did.

After the first bell, all the teachers came and lined up at the different entrances.

The hallways that ended at the top of the arms of the U were walled with glass windows and the doors were steel framed glass and the teachers would all stand there looking out at their day waiting to burst in on them.

Then the second bell would ring and the doors would open and we would file in and tramp down to our class room.

The halls were lined with long rows of pegs and we would hang up our coats and arrange boots and mittens and hats.

In the winter and on rainy days, the hallways were a swamp and everything was damp.

As fast as we could, we got into our classrooms and sat at our assigned seats.

I can’t remember if there was one more bell or if the clock just got to 9AM but the day would start when the two flag monitors, a boy and a girl, chosen by rotation, we all had to take a turn, would walk to the front of the class to spread the flag that stood in the front of the classroom.

One kid took a corner of the flag and stretched the flag out best they could.

The other kid grabbed a hold of the flag pole so the flag wouldn’t fall down.

With right hand over heart, (because the heart was on the right and your right hand was the hand ‘closest’ to the heart – at least that’s what I remember being told) we recited the pledge of allegiance.

I have to ask, is this still done today?

With the pledge over we would sing a patriotic song , usually America the Beautiful or America (My Country ’tis of thee).

I always wanted to sing the “Internationale”.

I didn’t know the words but I knew OF the song from some where in my reading.

Years later in the movie UNSTRUNG HEROS where the little kid hero sings the Internationale and is dragged out in the hallway yelling about rights for the oppressed workers of the world, I was seeing a missed opportunity.

With the song over, we all sat at our desks, the flag monitors returned to their seats and when I was in 4th, 5th and 6th grade, the teacher took out a book and began to read out loud.

Miss Critchell read Charlottes Web, Trumpet of the Swan and Henry Huggins books as I remember it.

Mr. Vanderwheel read “Treasure Island”.

I don’t know if it is a sign of my old age or what, but in my mind, in my memory, I cannot recall anything as spellbinding as Mr. Vanderwheel reading that old book.

Think of that great word.

Spellbinding.

As if bound by a spell.

That is just what it was like.

I know I was taken over by the story and it seems to me that I wasn’t the only one as the classroom was STILL.

Spellbound.

Mr. Vanderwheel made the story come alive.

I wasn’t just listening to the reading.

I was there.

To this day, I will take a square of paper and draw a black circle on it and write 7PM on it. Then I’ll give the paper to someone or leave it on their desk and walk away. Every once in a while, someone would say ‘A BLACK SPOT, Oh no!!”, but I haven’t had anyone figure out what I was doing in forever.

Mr. Vanderwheel just read, with some affectation to his voice for the pirates arrrrrrrgh and Ben Gunn’s voice asking for cheese, but for the most part he let the words trigger our own imagination.

Mr. Vanderwheel also was watching the text and knew the story so that he would be reading something like, “‘There was a Knock on the door. Jim opened the door and ….’ and then Mr. Vanderwheel would pause and say, “We’ll stop right there this morning.”

And the class would go “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Treasure Island has been made into a movie 4 or 5 times and I have seen them all and been disappointed in them all.

None of the movies can come close to the way I saw it my mind when Mr. Vanderwheel read to us each morning.

The morning reading accomplished a lot things and eased the class into each day but it also an incredible gift.

I look at all the gadgets and items available to day that offer to stimulate learning and imagination.

All the games, devices, videos and such and all the wonderful things kids have today.

And I think of Mr. Vanderwheel reading and I remember my sixth grade class.

And I feel sorry for kids today.

1.30.2021 – incomprehension

incomprehension
sun wasn’t, but who could have
imagined water

Adapted from the passage “Sitting there on the stump he was visited by a wave of incomprehension. The sun in the sky wasn’t problematical but who could have imagined water?” from the novella, The Summer He Didn’t Die, by Jim Harrison, Grove Press, 2005.

1.12.2022 – ill discoverers

ill discoverers
that think there is no land, when
see nothing but sea

Francis Bacon wrote in his The Advancement of Learning (1605 – bk. 2, ch. 7, sect. 5) that “they are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”

The complete line is, “As for the possibility, they are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”

As for the possibility …

That they might be giants.

Mr. Bacon warns, “But if any man shall keep a continual watchful and severe eye upon action, operation, and the use of knowledge, he may advise and take notice …”

Take notice of what?

I offer, in answer, the short story, The Glass in the Field, by James Thurber from his Fables for Our Time.

A short time ago some builders, working on a studio in Connecticut, left a huge square of plate glass standing upright in a field one day. A goldfinch flying swiftly across the field struck the glass and was knocked cold. When he came to he hastened to his club, where an attendant bandaged his head and gave him a stiff drink. “What the hell happened?” asked a sea gull. “I was flying across a meadow when all of a sudden the air crystallized on me,” said the goldfinch. The sea gull and a hawk and an eagle all laughed heartily. A swallow listened gravely. “For fifteen years, fledgling and bird, I’ve flown this country,” said the eagle, “and I assure you there is no such thing as air crystallizing. Water, yes; air, no.” “You were probably struck by a hailstone,” the hawk told the goldfinch. “Or he may have had a stroke,” said the sea gull. “What do you think, swallow?” “Why, I–I think maybe the air crystallized on him,” said the swallow. The large birds laughed so loudly that the goldfinch became annoyed and bet them each a dozen worms that they couldn’t follow the course he had flown across the field without encountering the hardened atmosphere. They all took his bet; the swallow went along to watch. The sea gull, the eagle, and the hawk decided to fly together over the route the goldfinch indicated. “You come, too,” they said to the swallow. “I–I–well, no,” said the swallow. “I don’t think I will.” So the three large birds took off together and they hit the glass together and they were all knocked cold.

Moral: He who hesitates is sometimes saved.

1.9.2022 – betwixt sand and foam

betwixt sand and foam
tide erases wind blows away
sea and shore remain

Folly Beach – Hilton Head Island, Jan 9, 2022

Today’s haiku is adapted from Sand and Foam by Kahlil Gibran

I am forever walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain
Forever.

I think of two things with Sea Foam.

One is the chocolate candy that you get from Sweetland’s Candy Shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On the Sweetland’s Candies website, they state:

Our famous seafoam, sometimes referred to as sponge candy, carefully crafted in small batches and coated in our dark chocolate. Light, airy, and crunchy are just a few words used to describe this magical candy. ​

Somehow the spongy filling is a mixture of sugar, corn syrup and gelatin all whisked together when hot.

Once cooled and broken into pieces, it is coated with milk chocolate.

It isn’t in the stores down here on the coast like you would think which makes me think about an opportunity there.

On the other hand, if it was in stores, it wouldn’t be like it is from Sweetland’s.

You can take us out of West Michigan but you can’t the Sweetland’s out of us.

Same pretty much goes for fudge.

You can find it down here.

There is a fairly good candy store on River Street in Savannah.

I recommend their pralines.

Pecan Pralines.

Not sure if you can get these up north, but if you can, they are not these real Georgia Pralines.

But the fudge here, well, it isn’t Murdick’s is it?

If you grew up in West Michigan, you went to Mackinaw.

If you went to Mackinaw, you got fudge.

It is what you do.

I don’t know why, but that is what you did.

For my wife’s birthday, one of her good friend’s from Grand Rapids was kind enough to order a gift box of three 1/2 lb. slabs of fudge sent to her down here in the low country.

Why does taste bring back so much?

Murdick’s.

Like the pills in the Matrix, one taste and I am 10 years old again.

Nothing like it in the world.

A couple of slices of this fudge and my mind goes into a sugar high and contact with the known world is disconnected.

Were did all this start?

Sea foam!

I always think of the candy when I see the sea foam like I did today.

But I am also reminded of the painting known as the Primavera by Sandro Botticelli.

Primavera by Sandro Botticelli.

The Primavera depicts the birth of Venus or Goddess of Love in Roman Mythology.

In Greek mythology, Venus is known as Aphrodite.

According to Greek mythology, Uranus and Gaia had a son named Cronus.

Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his father’s testicles into the sea.

This caused the sea to foam and out of that white foam rose Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

Think of that next time you are at the beach or the Sweetland’s Candy counter.

12.10.2021 – ideal place, the right place

ideal place, the right place
known or unknown, actual
or visionary

This is the most beautiful place on earth.

So reads the first line of Edward Abbey’s book, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness.

Mr. Abbey is writing about the Utah desert.

Mr. Abbey goes on, “There are many such places.

The first paragraph of Desert Solitaire reads,

This is the most beautiful place on earth.

There are many such places.

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.

A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio, or Rome – there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.

I do not want to get into nor do I intend to get into a debate about Mr. Abbey and the person that he was.

Suffice it say that ANYONE whose first line of their Wikipedia Bio states, “American author, essayist, and anarchist” will be a person about whom, other people have strong opinions.

For me today, let me focus on the line, “Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, the ideal place, the right place, actual or visionary.”

If you ask me about where I live I would respond that I live in the most beautiful place on earth.

If you ask me about where I live I would respond that I live in the ideal place, the right place.

I would like to say this is where I always wanted to live but, until a year ago, I did not know this place existed apart from a name on map.

Known or unknown.

Actual or visionary.

Maybe the best part is I know this works for me and I know that every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place.

It is not the same place.

The book, Lost Horizon, by James Hilton, the story of a man looking for his ideal place, the right place, the last line is, “Do you think he will ever find it?

The Frank Capra movie of the same title with the same story ends with, “Here is my hope, that we all find our Shangri-La.”

There are many such places.

12.3.2021 – did not buy the boat

did not buy the boat
so where is the million bucks
that I did not spend?

The sign in the grocery store says BUY 2 and SAVE.

But if I don’t buy any, do I save even more?

Of is it if I buy more I save even more?

*shirt from a thrift store – I bought the shirt – someone else paid for label

I did not buy this boat.

Why doesn’t the money I didn’t have to buy the boat show up in my bank since I didn’t spend it?

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

The idea that they are holes in the water that you throw money into appeals greatly to my sense of wellbeing.

Big toys for big boys also makes me smile.

It was when he was asked about the cost of his yacht that famous rich-guy JP Morgan famously said, “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.

When he died with only $55 Million in the bank, another famous rich-guy, Andrew Carnegie, famously said, “I thought he was rich.

That was a 1913 $55 Million.

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

Henry Ford is reported to have asked William Randolph Hearst if he had any money.

Mr. Hearst is supposed to have said, “No, Mr. Ford, I never seem to have any.”

Ford replied, “That’s too bad. You should get 2 or 3 hundred million and put it away for a rainy day.”

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said. “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.

Yep,” said buddy Ernest Hemingway, “they have more money.”

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

One day, I figure these folks will figure out a way to make me pay for the privilege of looking at their boat.

I think of the Japanese fable of the poor student who lived over a restaurant and claimed his meager rice wasn’t so bad as he could smell the food in the restaurant.

The restaurant owner heard this and had the student arrested for stealing the smell of his food.

In court, the Judge had the student drop his few coins from one hand to the other.

The cost of the smell of the food, said the judge, will be the sound of the money.

I like to look at the boats in the marinas on the island.

I like to look and think to myself, those things sink.

What might be the charge for looking?