Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Canvas 289

Canvas 289

January 30, 2013

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Full Sail

Full Sail

January 29, 2013

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The Poems of William Drummond of Hawthornden

Edited with a Memoir and Notes
by Wm. C. Ward


“One Hundred Copies of this Edition have been printed on large paper. No. 3.”

Self-Portrait as an Unnamed Constellation

Self-Portrait as an Unnamed Constellation

January 28, 2013

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vahan and Parantsem

Vahan Minasian and Parantsem Saroyan

c. 1908

The adults in this beautiful Old Country passport photograph are my grandmother’s parents, Vahan Minasian (standing) and Parantsem Saroyan (seated, at left). That’s my father’s mother, Yeproxie, in the middle, at about eight years of age. The youngest child is her little brother, Zaven. Archie (see previous entry), their brother Kirk, and two other sisters were not yet born. The boy standing is either a cousin, or someone who was traveling with them. Parantsem was William Saroyan’s aunt. Our eldest son, Vahan, is named after the Vahan you see here — my father’s grandfather, my great-grandfather, his great-great-grandfather, who left this world but ten short years later, at the age of thirty-nine.

My mother, when she was still able to remember, had some dear recollections of Parantsem, dating back to the early 1940s. Once, when she and Dad went to visit her and the family in San Francisco, Parantsem and her sister, Takoohi (Willie’s mother), sat there amiably telling stories and “smoking like chimneys.” On another occasion, after Dad had left to do his part in the insanity called the Second World War, Mom visited them again with her in-laws. At some point during the conversation, when Dad’s name was mentioned, Mom, leaning against Parantsem, broke into tears. Parantsem — widow, mother, and grandmother, wise and far from her native land, stroked Mom’s hair, uttering soft words of strength and consolation. My mother is ninety now. Yesterday, my wife and I bought her some new warm clothes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Willie and Archie

William Saroyan (1908-1981)
Khatchik (Archie) Minasian (1913-1985)

I’ve written about Willie here. His cousin, Archie, was my grandmother’s brother, ten years older than my father. Archie was an artist and poet. One of his watercolors is on the wall above my desk, another is in the hall. His books are in our family collection.

Willie and Archie were more than cousins. Having both lost their fathers in childhood, they were life-long friends dating back to their earliest days in Fresno, California, where they sold papers on street corners, shouting out the day’s headlines.

When my father, Albert, was a kid, Archie and his brother Kirk used to spend summers on my grandparents’ farm. Once Archie told Dad to go out and find some road apples. Dad looked for hours, having no idea what it was he was looking for. A lifetime later, he and Dad and I were in a twelve-foot aluminum boat, floating down the Kings River. From deep in the eucalyptus shade along the bank we heard a bullfrog call. Archie stomped his foot against the bottom of the boat and — splash, in the frog went. To Archie, that setting was heaven.

All of them are gone now. And so the meaning behind the dedication in No Time to Cut My Hair comes clear:

For Archie, Kirk, Willie, and Al — wise old elks and lovers of bullfrogs.

I’ll miss them to the end, I know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Johnsoniana, 1820

Johnsoniana; From Boswell's Life
of the Great Lexicographer and Moralist

This little gem measures 3½ inches by 5½ inches.
Published in London by John Sharpe in 1820,
it contains Volumes I and II, and features
an engraved frontispiece for each volume,
177 and 178 pages respectively,
plus indices.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Robert Willson: Photographer of the Week

With pleasure and pride, I point you today to another collaboration with a very dear friend of mine, Robert Willson. This week, Robert’s wonderful photographs are being featured at the 591 Photography Blog, based in Sweden. Those of you familiar with Robert’s work, know full well that his striking images speak clearly and eloquently for themselves. That he has allowed me to add my written impressions is indicative of his grace.

You will find a link to the first day’s entry below. I’ll add links to the others as the week unfolds. We thank you for joining us, and we thank the good people at 591 for sharing Robert’s work.


Our first collaboration: St. Joseph’s School for Girls.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Winter’s Tale

I will tell you this: cold, even frozen en route,
the book that arrived yesterday seemed mute and senseless
as a brick. Turning its pages, I tried to divine its scent.
Not yet. How it has blossomed since then! and that,
my friend, is the story that I meant.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

To the Unknown Goddess

Published in 1899, this lovely volume of Kipling’s verse
is a gift from a friend whose love transcends
the need to meet in the flesh.

Such is life, and the online experience.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Book

Like the Loti, Gautier, and Stendhal volumes
pictured in this entry, these six volumes were purchased recently
at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.

(For more details, click on the links.)

by George Moore (1923)

by Anatole France (1918)

by Boccaccio (c. 1900)

by H.D. Rawnsley (1901)

by William Mathews (1876)

by Charles Dickens (1870)

Also purchased, but not pictured:

by George du Maurier (1963)

The Bachelor of Salamanca, Vol. I, Vol. II
by Alain René le Sage (1868)

And here are some other recent acquisitions:

The Correspondence of John Lothrop Motley, Vol. I, Vol. II (1889)

Purefoy Letters, Vol. I, Vol. II (1931)

Gil Blas of Santillana, Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III (c. 1898)

I also received several beautiful old books
from my son (and book-buying companion) for Christmas.

And this, I am ever pleased to say, is only the tip of the iceberg....

Loti, Gautier, Stendhal

I can scarcely read them, and as yet no one else has,
but how I love these ragged, unopened French paper volumes.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fifteen Drawings: June-December 2012

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Remembering with the left hand

June 4, 2012

Self-Portrait After a Dream: For All We Know

August 13, 2012

Just before waking this morning, I saw an old friend who died in 2010.
We were in a used bookstore. I said, “Were you asleep?”
And he said, “The truth is, I’ve been sleeping far too much lately.”

Drawing made while singing/humming “For All We Know.”


August 16, 2012

Canvas 288

September 14, 2012

Memory; or, Self-Portrait in the Wind

October 4, 2012

The Forest Is My Mind

October 21, 2012

Most, I encounter in the forest, and the forest is my mind.


November 15, 2012


November 22, 2012

Self-Portrait as the Last Leaf to Fall

December 5, 2012

Remnant of a Dream

December 7, 2012


December 7, 2012

Self-Portrait as Passing Cloud

December 11, 2012


December 20, 2012


December 22, 2012

In the Street and at Your Door

December 24, 2012