Gifted

Went to bed between 4 and 5 in the morning with my mind in good temper of satisfaction and slept till about 8, that many people came to speak with me. Among others one came with the best New Year’s gift that ever I had, namely from Mr. Deering, with a bill of exchange drawn upon himself for the payment of 50l. to Mr. Luellin. It being for my use with a letter of compliment. I am not resolved what or how to do in this business, but I conclude it is an extraordinary good new year’s gift, though I do not take the whole, or if I do then give some of it to Luellin. By and by comes Captain Allen and his son Jowles and his wife, who continues pretty still. They would have had me set my hand to a certificate for his loyalty, and I know not what his ability for any employment. But I did not think it fit, but did give them a pleasing denial, and after sitting with me an hour they went away. Several others came to me about business, and then being to dine at my uncle Wight’s I went to the Coffee-house, sending my wife by Will, and there staid talking an hour with Coll. Middleton, and others, and among other things about a very rich widow, young and handsome, of one Sir Nicholas Gold’s, a merchant, lately fallen, and of great courtiers that already look after her: her husband not dead a week yet. She is reckoned worth 80,000l.
Thence to my uncle Wight’s, where Dr. of ——, among others, dined, and his wife, a seeming proud conceited woman, I know not what to make of her, but the Dr’s. discourse did please me very well about the disease of the stone, above all things extolling Turpentine, which he told me how it may be taken in pills with great ease. There was brought to table a hot pie made of a swan I sent them yesterday, given me by Mr. Howe, but we did not eat any of it. But my wife and I rose from table, pretending business, and went to the Duke’s house, the first play I have been at these six months, according to my last vowe, and here saw the so much cried-up play of “Henry the Eighth;” which, though I went with resolution to like it, is so simple a thing made up of a great many patches, that, besides the shows and processions in it, there is nothing in the world good or well done. Thence mightily dissatisfied back at night to my uncle Wight’s, and supped with them, but against my stomach out of the offence the sight of my aunt’s hands gives me, and ending supper with a mighty laugh, the greatest I have had these many months, at my uncle’s being out in his grace after meat, we rose and broke up, and my wife and I home and to bed, being sleepy since last night.

people speak of my gift
for sitting with the dead

I know the disease of the stone
the hot pie made of a swan

how a rose cried
at the sight of my hands


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 January 1663/64.

Re-introducing Woodrat photoblog

Screenshot of Woodrate photoblog.

Screenshot of Woodrate photoblog.

Back in October I started posting poetic epigrams with my photos at Instagram, and every few weeks since then, I’ve re-posted them here. This past week, the turn of the calendar fast approaching with its promise of new beginnings, I made the decision to broaden the scope of my 9-year-old Woodrat photoblog from just haiku, and to start cross-posting my Instagram stuff there as a matter of course. I’ve also back-posted all the photos since mid-December, when I last shared a compendium on Via Negativa. So please go look, and bookmark or subscribe to the photoblog if you like. (You can also, obviously, follow me on Instagram or on Flickr, where the photos are mirrored, and/or look for the auto-posts at Twitter or Facebook. And I’ve added the link to the Links drop-down menu in the Via Negativa header.)

There are some really good photographers on Instagram, and I like feeling a part of a community there, but I also like owning my own content and being a responsible netizen. Instagram is first and foremost a cellphone app built on proprietary software, part of a movement by software developers to replace the town square of the world-wide web with private shopping malls, essentially. Not only can one not post to Instagram from the web interface, but no live web links are permitted in any caption or comment. It also bothers me that there’s no way to edit a published caption, to add alt text to make images accessible to the visually handicapped, or to export and save one’s content from the site.

So my decision to re-purpose the old photoblog into a home for these posts is in part a political decision. But it’s also a practical one: I’d like to continue the epigrammatic series for a while, and I know myself well enough to realize that if I tie it to the growth of a more aesthetically pleasing space, I’m more likely to keep it up, just as having a dedicated blog for my Morning Porch tweets has kept that microblogging project going for years. And whereas Morning Porch posts are based on my daily porch-sitting, Woodrat photoblog posts emerge from daily walks (though not typically on the same day the photo was taken). There’s a pleasing symmetry to that.

Luces

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“…With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame.” ~ Basque carol

At midnight we lit six
morning glory firework wands

and watched their dying etch
brief swirls in the dark garden,

their passing light so swift
the movement of our wrists

could not even deal out all
the looped letters of our names—

What could we do with a whole
extra second added to the year’s

last minute? Each orange fizzling stub
dwindled to a stream of ash. In the morning,

not even a trace of their scattering
remained in the stubbled grass.