Saturday, April 29, 2006

Famous poodles

Go to this page and check out "famous poodles." (Ernie, you should probably update your MySpace.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday ramblings

Happy Earth Day! Remember to say thank-you to your mother.... Earth, that is. I celebrated by bringing in a small armload of cut daffodils and lilacs-- their scent is filling the entire upstairs. Don't forget to take the Earth Day footprint quiz!

It's been another very busy week. Our non-fiction program at PSU is hiring a new tenure-track professor, and it’s now down to four incredibly qualified applicants—two men from Iowa (which is writing Mecca, for those of you who don’t know), one woman from U Montana, and one woman from U Oregon.

In an extraordinary move, our department head—Michael McGregor—decided to bring in a group of students from the NF program to help interview the instructors. Yours truly included. I tremendous experience—I mean, I’ve never even heard of students being brought in like this. And they’re considering our input to be an important aspect of the decision-making. It added ten extra hours to my workweek, but again, what an opportunity. The decision should be made in the next two weeks. I’m pulling for the U of O prof—and not just because she’s a local, but because she is extraordinary, both as writer and teacher (I’ve studied with her). I could live with Montana and one of the Iowas—the second Iowa was a total suit and I would be most unhappy with his selection. We’ll see what happens.

Speaking of my “Forms of Non-Fiction” class last Thursday, our teacher—Debra Gwartney—brought in none other than Barry Lopez (left) for a three-plus hour, in-depth session on writing and publishing. For those who don’t know Lopez, he is a National Book Award winner (for Arctic Dreams) and Pulitzer nominee who writes about the natural world, particularly the northwest. I can’t even explain what this evening was like—superlatives fail. For me, as a writer-in-training, the chance to sit at a table with Lopez as a peer and to engage with him in a “how to” discussion of writing, well, it was incredible. Once-in-a-lifetime…. I got home and was so excited, I couldn’t settle down for hours.

Lots to do this weekend, as always. And Erin will be here overnight. She’s in town to play for the Zachlet’s trumpet competition. It’s sunny, too, so time to get out and do yard work. Ah, spring!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I am an INTJ (and you're probably not)

Back in the late 1980s (sheesh, does that sound like forever ago?), when I was working for Dr. Black and when our staff had grown huge and unwieldy, and developed lots of tensions, he brought in a psychologist to give all of us the “Meyers-Briggs” test.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the M-B is a Jungian personality traits/typology test. You take it and it categorizes you as belonging to one of 16 temperament groupings. The theory is that whichever group you’re in has a lot to do with how you approach and interact with the world and how the world can best approach and interact with you.

It’s actually a well-documented process. It works! Back in our working group, knowing each other’s M-B types and doing some simple exercises in how that affected our approach to one another made a huge difference.

So, here’s the interesting thing. Back then I was a solid ESTJ—pillar of society type and among the most common of the types. In a nutshell, ESTJ said that I was an extrovert, that I relied on common sense versus intuition, that I relied on thought and logic over feelings, and that I tended to favor judgment over perception.

The other day, the M-B came up in one of my classes. One of the revelations was that the M-B could change over time, as you and/or your life experiences changed. And this sent me scampering back to the Internet, wondering if I could find another M-B test to take there. (Ordinarily testing is a very expensive process.)

I found a test here. I retook it….and Lo and behold: I’m now an INTJ, also known as a “Mastermind Rational.” Supposedly I'm uncommon. One source said that INTJs make up only 1-2% of the general population. Here’s a short blurb about what it means:

Rational NTs...are proud of themselves in the degree they are competent in action, respect themselves in the degree they are autonomous, and feel confident of themselves in the degree they are strong willed. Ever in search of knowledge, this is the "Knowledge Seeking Personality" -- trusting in reason and hungering for achievement. They are usually pragmatic about the present, skeptical about the future, solipsistic about the past, and their preferred time and place are the interval and the intersection. Educationally they go for the sciences, avocationally for technology, and vocationally for systems work. Rationals tend to be individualizing as parents, mindmates as spouses, and learning oriented as children. Rationals are very infrequent, comprising as few as 5% and no more than 7% of the population.

Albert Einstein is the iconic example of a Rational.

Thomas Jefferson and General Ulysses S. Grant are examples of Rationals.

It’s also interesting that my once extroverted ‘E’ has changed to an introverted ‘I,’ which certainly goes with my increasing writerly life—much of which is an inner life of solitude.

And, my ‘S’ has turned to a more intuitive ‘N,’ which goes along with my growth in magickal intuition over the last decade.

So, I’d like all of you to now scamper to this site and take the test. Then, share your results!

P.S. And just for fun, go here. Couldn’t believe this when it came up a few days ago. I have an ISBN!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Just a Saturday morning

The trilliums are in bloom—I snapped the above picture of them peeking out from under the front porch. I love trilliums—they’re such a harbinger of spring in these parts.

It’s been a hectic week—I can’t believe that one-fifth of spring term is already gone. The days fly by so quickly that sometimes I have to really stop and think which day of the week it is, let alone making sure that I have clothes to wear, food to eat, etc. The other day I left the house wearing nice slacks and black shoes…only the shoes were two different black shoes, instead of being one pair. Luckily I noted this before I drove off.

My writing classes are going splendidly—Lizzie Grossman is absolutely terrific, and being back in class with Debra Gwartney is also wonderful. I always learn so much from her. Next week in her class, one of my all-time favorite writers—Barry Lopez—is coming to speak and workshop with us. What a great evening that will be!

I did my taxes yesterday. ARGH. I owe quite a bit of money this year, the fallout from receiving wages, severance, and unemployment for a few months simultaneously over last spring-summer. Never fear, though. Next year I will appear financially destitute, so all will even out.

I turned in two new book proposals to Llewellyn publishing. Getting a book published there would be HUGE in terms of my aspirations to write in the magickal-Pagan community. The book I’m doing for New Page is also a terrific thing, but in the magick world, Llewellyn holds court, and it would be a benefit to me, as a writer, to get “on” there. Or to get “into their stable,” as people put it. That metaphor kind of makes me shudder, for some reason.

Lots to do today—reading for all three classes, plus some writing, and student papers to grade. Plus housework, laundry, etc. It’s a cool rainy day, so the pressures of going outside to garden aren’t there. The rain gives me permission to curl up on the couch with my books and papers and just hang out.

I’ve actually been a little under the weather this week—achy, headachy, etc. Some small virus trying to get hold, I suppose. Trying to blow my head off. Never hear—my skull is much too strong, my reserve too firm. Damn taxes, damn schedules, damn them all! Here’s to trilliums, good writers, and soft spring rains.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Feast for the Spirit

Yesterday Bill and I drove to Celilo Village, Oregon. It’s just east of The Dalles, on the bank of the Columbia, and it’s easy to miss. What was once a thriving hub of commerce is now a collection of small buildings, abandoned trailers, and a single, spectacular bulding rising far above the others—the Celilo longhouse. This is village is now the center of the ancestral Celilo fishing grounds, the ancient waterfalls drowned in 1957 by the impounded waters of The Dalles Dam.

Celilo Falls may have been permanently silenced, but the life of the Columbia plateau indigenous people endures. Every year, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission hosts the First Salmon feast. For these aboriginal people, salmon isn’t just a food—it’s a way of life, a locus of creation, and the center of their spiritual practices.

The First Salmon feast takes place in the Celilo longhouse (right), with day-long ritual and a ceremonial meal. The meal features the four sacred foods: salmon, deer/elk, roots, and huckleberries. The feast begins and ends with water. Men enter the longhouse and sit along the north side, women along the south.

This is definitely one of those, “you had to be there” moments, as far as description. The songs and drumming made me tingle. The Indian people wore their finest clothing—Elizabeth Woody had told me this on Friday. “Everyone wears their best,” she’d said. And so there were women and girls in beautifully colored dresses and men and boys in ribbon shirts, everyone bedecked in silver and feathers and beads.

The food was amazing. It was a true feast—I had serious doubts about whether my paper plate could hold up to what was piled on it.

The ceremonial foods are eaten in order. You begin with salmon, which was cooked outdoors, both on barbecue grills and spit-roasted in front of open flames.

Next was venison. There were two kinds: a pot roast of venison and wild onions and a piece of really incredible dried elk. I’ve never had it, and it was delicious.

Third came the roots—both camas and Wapato. They were tasty—with a slight, astringent bitterness that hinted at the vitamins within.

Finally there were berries—huckleberries gathered last season and frozen for the ceremony, as they don’t ripen until mid- to late summer.

On top of that: potatoes, carrots, potato salad, fruit salad, and biscuits.

Bill and I found a quiet bench to sit on and to enjoy our food, and as we ate, a big dog came and watched us. It was a gorgeous dog—reddish gold with startlingly golden-orange eyes (right). I’ve never seen anything like it. Bill said that is was a relative of the “yellow dogs,” which are said to be a breed unique to American Indian tribes. It was a sweet dog, and happily gobbled up the tidbits we offered.

After we finished, we wandered down to the river’s edge to spend some time with Celilo Falls. Below is what the site looks like now. I was filled with a tremendous sadness as I looked out over the silent water and thought of what it had been like, long ago, but there was still the joy of being there, of eating and honoring the salmon, and of knowing that life continues, always in its great and magnificent cycle.

Amidst these thoughts, I dipped my hands in the river water, touched the water to my forehead and heart, and murmured my thanks for having this feeling of simply being there, and of being home.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Salmon times….

Last evening, Bill and I went to the Native American cultural center to hear American Indian elders and one writer/poet talk about the salmon.

To any non-northwesterners reading this, wild salmon are a big deal out here. To the indigenous people, they’re life itself.

The presentations were splendid. I was thrilled to get a chance to hear and talk to a favorite author, Elizabeth Woody (right, with petroglyph known as Tsagaglallal, or She-Who-Watches), who read from her new and old work. She is an incredible poet and essayist, and often writes about the salmon and about Celilo Falls, which—as you all know—is dear to my heart.

So, we had a wonderful evening.

I said I’d write more about my two writing classes, so here you go:

On Wednesday evenings I’ll be involved in a non-fiction master class. There are 12 students in the class, and we have four different teachers. First, the class is overseen by Michael McGregor, who directs the non-fiction writing program at PSU. Three weeks of the class will be taught by Karen Karbo, a writer-humorist. Three weeks will be taught by Lizzie Grossman, a nature and environmental writer. And three weeks will be taught by Brian Doyle, an essayist. It’s going to be really cool.

On Thursday evenings, I have “Forms of Non-Fiction” class, taught by Debra Gwartney. She is on the faculty at U of Oregon but comes to Portland once a week by train to teach here. She is an incredible writer and teacher and this will be a terrific class, albeit a lot of work—she books no slackage.

Thanks to these two classes, I’ll be reading a handful of books and writing several thousand words of new material. Whew. But it’s a good kind of pain.

Erin is here for the weekend—playing for Zach’s trumpet recital. Yay!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Back to School!

Yep, we’re back to school. It felt good to be back in the fray the last two days, although I got home early today and took a long nap!

Here’s my class load so far:

ENG 596—Forms of Research. This is a required class for MAs in lit; it involves learning the detailed ins and outs of library research, and using this to create an extensive bibliography of a subject of choice. End product is a portfolio with the bibliography, including a minimum of 25 annotated sources. For those of you out of the lit loop (and sometimes I think you’re very lucky people), this means reading a scholarly piece and then annotating/summarizing it in something between 3 lines and 2 paragraphs. So, over the term I will read a minimum of 25 papers. Minimum. Whew. We also have a book of lit theory to read as part of the class.

ENG 518—Teaching College Comp. This is my GA class, and is really relaxed and low pressure. This term we have a book on composition theory and will be doing in-class discussions and presentations on different aspects of teaching writing. End-of-term output is a paper about our philosophy/style of teaching writing.

I also have two writing classes—they start tomorrow, so look for an update on them in a couple of days.

In addition to classes, I have two teaching responsibilities this term. First, I’m teaching another section of WR 121—College Composition. That started today. I had a full room of enthusiastic students, so it looks as if it’ll be a bang-up term.

Second, I am team-teaching a split undergrad/grad class on “American Women Writers.” I sort of fell into this via a beloved professor who needed a helper. That class started yesterday—we have about 30 students and they seem really interested in the topic, so this should also be fun. The writers are those I love: Orne-Jewett, Cather, Chopin, Morrison, Esquivel, and Abu-Jaber. Luckily I've read all the books but the last one, which will help!

And, I’m still writing one story a week for the Vanguard (and still threatening to give it up), as well as working 6 hours/week in the Writing Center. Both pay a little bit, which helps.

Ernie is back to long days of napping in a quiet house, so he’s glad that spring break is over.

Oh: the personal essay I wrote last fall for Oregon Humanities has finally been posted in an e-version. Go here to read it, and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Official spring break report for Sunday, April 2

Sleep: Oh, yes.... There’s really nothing like sleeping in on a cool, dark morning. I got up to take Ernie out at 7:00, then he got up on bed and the whole family went back to sleep until 10:30! Whoa!

Weather: Rain, 55-ish.

Fun: We’d talked about going to the beach—we’d like to go and see Ft. Clatsop (our newest national park, and recently rebuilt after burning down a year and a few months ago)—but nixed the idea when thinking about returning-from-spring-break traffic. Plus, we’d gotten up too late to really do anything major. We ended up going out to breakfast, then to New Renaissance books and finally shopping.

Also: Brokeback Mountain continues to break new ground!
For the first time, Hollywood is making its latest movies available for download the same day DVDs arrive.

The first movie to receive simultaneous DVD and download treatment will be Brokeback Mountain, available Tuesday at Movielink ( Now playing on the service, launched today, are recent releases King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Pride & Prejudice, Rent and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

"For the first time, consumers have the ability to not just rent a (downloadable) major motion picture from the major Hollywood studios but to own them," Movielink CEO Jim Ramo says. Consumers will pay for the convenience. New films such as Brokeback, King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha will cost $20 to $30; older films such as Jaws, Easy Rider, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Sting will cost $10 to $16. By comparison, new DVD releases often are discounted as low as $14.


Grumble, grumble.... Movielink doesn't support Mac or Linux systems. ARGH. But, at least this news is a cool start, and we can only hope they begin supporting REAL computer systems soon.

Food Events
: Breakfast at Sully’s in downtown Milwaukie. Me, the Eggs Benedict, Bill the fresh Dungenous crab omelet.

: Well-rested.

And this brings the spring break blogging experiment to an end. On Monday it’s back to school for spring term, so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for three months!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Official spring break report for Saturday, April 1

Test for Northern Exposure fans: What's happening in the above pictures?

: Still very good, lots, nice, deep, dreams, lovely.

Weather: Drizzly.

Stupid Stories: None that can top Friday.

Fun: the weird thing is that (as my kids will vouch for) I am all about April Fool’s Day. But this year I did NOTHING. NADA.

So, today’s fun leaves us stuck with this:

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.
You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!

(Great: now I'm apple pie, mashed potatoes, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies. I am certifiably boring.)

Oh, and my Northern Exposure season 4 arrived, so there’s that. They’ve also let it be know that they’re going to release season 5!

Chores: Laundry, house stuff, the basics.

The World: Jessica Simpson is thinking of adopting a baby. OH MY GODDESS.

Dog: Feeling much better, thanks.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Official spring break report for Friday, March 31

Sleep: Lots and lots! (Ah, but this will soon end….)

Weather: Blue sky one moment, black clouds and marble-sized rain drops the next. We call this ‘spring’ here in Ory-Gun.

Stupid Stories: Okay, so Bill and I decide to go to The Farm for dinner. No, that's not competely true-- but what happened was so stupid that I did some editing, James Frey-like. ACK! Here's the real story. We were invited to a party at a fellow GA's house, and I was really looking forward to it. Bill doesn't know everyone, but he's good at get-togethers, and he was going to go along to make me happy-- I figured we probably wouldn't make a late evening of it.

Anyway, I'm dressed and waiting for him when he calls and tells me that he’s at a downtown bank and has locked his keys in the Jeep. he asked me to come rescue him from this coffee shop a couple of blocks from the bank, where he’ll going to be waiting for me. Okay so far?

I jump into Xena (Warrior Car) and as I’m driving to get him, it occurs to me that I should have checked to make sure the spare Jeep key was in my purse (it always is, but recently he’d had to use it—yes, when he locked his keys in his car—and now I’m wondering whether he gave it back to me…. You can already see where this is going, can’t you?). Anyway, I get to the coffee shop--through rush-hour traffic--and we drive to the bank to see the Jeep (otherwise known as DV—derelict vehicle—1) alone in the parking lot. I open my purse and open the zipper pocket where I keep the spare key, and it isn’t there. (You knew it wouldn’t be, didn’t you?)

Now, we have to drive all the way back home, again through traffic (it's now 7:30-ish, and 'm wondering why everyone is driving home so late). After tearing the house apart we finally find the key on top of the secretary where he’d left it (instead of giving it back to me last time he needed it), and where it had promptly gotten covered with books and mail and other house detritus. (I was somehow supposed to just intuitively know that it was there. Are you sensing that there's a little tension here?)

We then drove back downtown to his car, now through Friday-night traffic. By then it was getting late, and we were both starved, and he was really tired (this is where our age difference starts to show up), having had a really tough week-- lots of foundry visits and a lot of actual physical labor with huge patterns, etc. Anyway, I didn't have the heart to drag him to the party and really didn't want to leave him home alone. So, we decided to just go to dinner, and went to The Farm. The dinner was lovely, although I was sad about missing the party. Whew. And that’s the stupid story.

Fun: The Dixie Chicks’ next album, Taking the Long Way, hits the stores on May 23. Here’s an interesting bit from Wednesday’s Seattle Post Intelligencer:

People in the News: Chicks are still mad as wet hens

It's been three years since the war in Iraq began and the war declared by country music stations and mainstream America on the Dixie Chicks for criticizing President Bush. But they're "still mad as hell" about it, reported the AP. In a new single, "Not Ready To Make Nice," lead singer Natalie Maines lets people know how the Chicks felt about the barrage of death threats and boycotts that pelted them after she told a London concert audience she was "ashamed" that Bush was from their home state of Texas.

The chorus: "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time to go round and round and round."

Their new video debuted yesterday on aol’s website. See yesterday’s blog for the link! And note the top photo of their infamous EW cover.

Chores: More paperwork, and got caught up on correspondence that was—literally—months old.

Food Events: Dinner at The Farm…. This is a place that makes you wax poetic about food. For anyone who hasn’t been there, it’s primarily a vegetarian place that also serves seafood. The food is all local, fresh, and organic. And incredibly delicious! We started with an old favorite—their baked brie, topped with a simple sugar glaze, sliced pears, and chopped walnuts, then baked into a melting ooze and served with sliced baguette. For dinner, Bill had blackened salmon—cooked perfectly—with grits cakes and a delicious spinach sauté. I had crab and risotto cakes, parsnip fries (baked, not fried), and a wonderful raw cabbage and carrot slaw, dressed lightly with rice vinegar and dusted with crushed hazelnuts. Major, major YUM, and at least some small recompense for missing the party.

Dog: Pretty much back to normal, although not eating much. But he played heartily yesterday—a rousing game of pink pig.