Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'm still here....

Are you all passed out now, seeing me post?



Truly, I look forward to the time when I once again have a nice, normally busy life. The last five years have been anything but. Thought I'd try to catch up, anyhoo (yes, I meant to write "hoo").

So, the last time I wrote a real post was almost two months ago. Yikes.

Let's start with Mom. I get over to see her every couple of weeks. She and Joe have settled into a reasonable routine. They have a nice woman (from one of the local caregiver agencies) who comes over every day for about 4 hours to help Mom shower, dress, and just hang out. her name is Maria and Mom and Joe seem to love her, which is great. As for Mom, last time I was over I was surprised at how much 'brighter' she seemed. Her walking is improving, although she still needs a great deal of assistance. For the most part, she mostly only walks when a therapist is helping her; Joe and Maria help her a bit, but worry about her falling. Not much change with her right arm/hand, or her speech. The physical therapist comes a couple of times each week. The speech therapists gave up because (a) Mom wasn't making any progress, and (b) Mom was not cooperative. Ahem.

I'm going over there next week-- will report then.

Latest very cool finding: LibraryThing. Catalog your books online. The first 100 entries are completely free-- after that there's a $25 lifetime fee. Check it out.

Gargoyles is out, and doing well. At right is a picture taken from Erin, Bill's and my visit to our local Barnes & Noble, where we found it on the shelves.

Oops, wrong book. Below is the real book. Ahem. And go here to see my Library of Congress listing, which is the coolest part of the whole thing.

On March 10, I was invited to attend a blessings ceremony in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Celilo Falls. The invitation came round-about from the Celilo essay I published a year ago. It was an amazing day-- sunny and warm. Bill came, too. Native American Elders from all of the Columbia plateau tribes led us in procession to a speaking area at the water's edge. Each tribe spoke, and led blessings. It was incredibly moving, and even more so to sit next to what was once a roaring waterfall and find it now a placid piece of lake. A salmon and frybread reception took place after the event. Yum!

School is very busy. Last term I taught a creative nonfiction class, which was a lot of fun. I had 20 students and they all worked really hard. This term I have a class of 38 (gulp) students in literary fiction. A little trickier, and lots more grading, but going fine, too.

Latest films seen (over the past 2-3 months; gotta love Netflix. I tend to watch these 15 minutes at a time, when eating, or drying my hair, etc.):

Eragon: Pretty to watch, standard heroic quest plot; definitely weak when compared to any similar films, but fun to watch. Loved the dragon. (2.5 out of 5 stars)

United 93: WATCH THIS FILM. Absolutely incredible. I can't do it justice with even a mini-review. Just go rent it. Now. (5+++ stars)

The Departed: Best picture winner and director this year, and I see why. Dark, a little artsy, violent, and what a cast! (5 stars)

Shut Up & Sing: Dixie Chicks retrospective/documentary. The filmmakers have set up a great little piece that shows beautifully how everything the Chicks said was right, while everything Bush and Bush supporters said was, well... you know. (4 stars)

Little Miss Sunshine: Weird, funny, great acting. One of the strangest ensemble casts you'll ever see. (4 stars)

The Devil Wears Prada: Meryl Streep is my hero! Nothing hugely special about this film, but it was a fun chick flick. (3 stars, 5 for Meryl)

Batman Begins: Cool! Nice creation of the "how did Batman get started" thing. Great sets. Love the Newsies boy. (4 stars)

Jesus Camp: TERRIFYING. Another one that I'm asking you to rent and watch. The Army of Jesus is being trained up, as we speak. (5 stars)

QuinceƱera: Great film, set in east LA, about a young Hispanic girl approaching her 15th birthday, which is the time for the big coming of age celebration/pageant/party known as the
QuinceƱera (which is pretty interesting in itself). The fact that she happens to be pregant and is thrown out of the house by her preacher father adds some, um.... conflict to the plot. (4 stars)

Thank You for Smoking: A filmic lampoon of both the cigarette and lobbyist industries. Aaron Eckhart (dazzling in the older film, In the Company of Men-- another must-see) was chilling in this, playing the lobbyist-conman to the hilt. (4 stars)

New TV addiction (which is rare, for me): The Riches. An awesome show-- Monday nights on FX. I figured that with my possible Eastern European "gypsy" heritage, a show about Irish Travellers would have to be pretty interesting. This is a darkly comedic drama in which a family of Travellers assume the identities of a very rich (and very dead) upper class couple, while simultaneously being pursued by rogue elements from their own Traveller's band. The writing and acting are incredible.

I'm also still working as coordinator of the graduate writing association-- WEGO. Look here for our blog. We just finished a "Call for Papers" and now we're ramping up for our springtime reading. We're in the process of hiring next year's coordinator

My knee is better. I finally had to have a big honking cortisone shot into it, which supposedly interrupted the inflammatory cycle. I think it worked, because it's almost pain-free now.

Spring break at the end of March was quiet. I spent lots of it working on my thesis and Bill and I managed a "Gorge Day." Below are a couple of images looking across to Cape Horn.

And here are a couple of shots showing the latest progress on reopening the tunnel at Oneonta Gorge.

It had been warm and rainy for the last week-- the falls were HUGE. Horsetail Falls was so monstrous that it was splashing water all over the road. You literally would have been killed if you went swimming that day. I got some good photos, although it was so misty, my camera lens kept getting all wet and soaked.

I am in final grad school mode. I'm taking 10 credits this term: a 4C class on Romanticism (my last requirement for my MA in English) and a 4C master class with the writer Charles D'Ambrosio, plus my 1C teaching College Comp class and a 1C thesis credit.

My thesis is due next Wednesday, April 15. The oral defense is set for May 10. AUGH! No stress here....

My current book-- Writing Down the Moon-- is going well. I'm using the first half for my thesis. The whole manuscript is due to Llewellyn by June 30, which'll be just before I go to Skidmore (see below).

GRADUATION is June 16. I plan to be in the ceremony, and I'm hoping a few of the local family members will be able to come down (hint! hint!).

I had some really awesome news a month or so ago. I am one of 9 college students nationwide to win a full scholarship to the New York Summer Writer's Workshop at Skidmore College. It's the first two weeks in July-- I cannot wait! I'll be studying creative nonfiction writing with some of the biggest names in the craft. It'll be like a post graduation vacation. Lots of work, too. I hope to take the weekend in the middle to go into New York City!

The Grey School is busy, as always. Lots to do there during the summer-- for now, my student work and any writing of new classes have been set aside while mundane school occupies my time.

And, there's Ernie. He's thin, and achy, and old. Very old. He's lost all of the hair from his ears.

His doctor was called away this week with her own family emergency, but next week, when she's back, she will be paying us a house call, and the wee dog will go on vacation. It's time. For now, we hug him a lot, and give him lots of good food, and use the SpotBot on the occasional indiscretions. We're essentially doing dog hospice care. It's going to be hard to lose him, but it is time. He's still pretty dang cute, though.


Rebecca said...

Yay for blogging!

Anonymous said...

Ernie - I hope you enjoy vacation pupster!