Saturday, July 31, 2010

separate. fill. rest.

july is my favorite month. june is unwinding from the school year and august is all about winding up for teaching again. but july is untouched, unhurried, untainted. ah, fair july i shall miss thee.

a phrase comes to mind when thinking about how to carry this beautiful rhythm into august and the new school year. as quoted to me by a friend summing up God's creation, "separate, fill, rest." first He separated: light from darkness, land from water. then He filled: stars, fish, plants, people and animals. and then He rested: by stopping long enough to appreciate beauty.

i like this phrase because it's simple and i can remember it. moments are coming soon when i may need to separate myself from the most urgent needs and people around me to find out what is most important. i will want wisdom to know how to most creatively and effectively fill the time i've been given. and enough space to rest and enjoy the view.

Friday, July 30, 2010

birds of the air

my goal for july was to blog every day. that would be a total of 31 entries. of which i am short. hence, sometimes more than one per day. so i want to write two more. for the first, if i were to sum up this month, i would entitle it "birds of the air."

growing up, we always had enough, but never extra. that continues to be true in my life and yet it is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. limited income (which has nothing to do with true wealth) invites us down a path of creativity and resourcefulness. as i was picking berries and saying hello to all the creatures (author's side note: yes, ala st. francis, i name animals and talk to them. the resident butterly is "flora" and the robin? "fred". i'm still coming up with a name for the deer) i was overcome with gratitude and started quoting parts of matthew 6 but in my own words ending with a form of contentment that exhuded, "life, i am in LOVE with you!" the harvest is so plentiful. just look at my mint garden (author's side note again: i was inundated with mint, so i bundled it into types and rigged a drying system on the south side of the house using a bamboo pole).

that is just one example of there always being enough to share. time, attention, produce... the in and outflow is constant: a vase of flowers to a friend, fresh cucumbers to czech friends who will not let me leave their home without giving me starts of rosemary, hand built pottery and farm fresh eggs in return for jars of jam. a bottle of wine here, some swapped clothes there and you have a true economy of community.

so what do you do when you can't just "charge it"? when you look into the pantry and see one yam with some random scatterings in the fridge department and someone is coming over for dinner? you make israeli cous-cous with garlic mustard aoli over sweet potatoes and garden greens. you put mint and blackberries in the blender and freeze them into ice cubes for a fun refreshing treat to add to sun tea. you throw some flour and sugar together over fruit and call it dessert. you make something out of not much.

you see something in the store and think, "ah! i could make that" and get together with friends to do so. instead of buying jewelry, you string together a mish-mosh of vintage pieces just to see what happens. i've known what it is to be able to shop and i've known days when i couldn't. but knowing the sharing that is enabled when we know we can't make it in isolation, i wouldn't have it any other way.

look in the sky! the birds do not work from 9-5 or get into debt. they never go hungry and there's no need to hoard because there's always enough.

got mint?


ok, ok, don't get excited.

it's all about the meteor.

a friend and i camped out last night but only saw 5 (ok, i saw one, she saw 4) but it was still fun! the best viewing is yet to come, august 11-13th.

welding vows

do you promise to wear gloves, hold the tools at a 45 degree angle and keep the face mask down?

i do.

today i had my first welding lesson from a man who has been perfecting his craft literally as long as i've been alive. he is a very kind and patient teacher, showing basic technique and then letting me play on my own at his worktable. once you get used to sparks flying at close range, it's really quite fun. and, like most things, much harder than it looks.

i made what one might officially call a "thing-a-ma-jig"; crooked pieces of metal scraps with three hooks on the bottom. it looks vaguely like something that would come from a bad sci-fi movie involving robots and the end of the world. but it reminds me that life is all about ever-learning by trying new things.

my friend says that it takes at least 2 years to earn a license and that i should be patient with myself after only 20 minutes. if you were to take a tour of portland, you would find his work on balconies, fountains and fences. i didn't just learn to weld today, i learned to appreciate master craftsmanship.

what metal man has joined together, let no one separate!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

play time

work, rest, play. i daresay there's not enough of the latter two in the world. it's no secret that i'm having the time of my life this summer. but these three months can be a bit challenging for parents who suddenly take on the role of "entertainment expert."

looking for some new outings? try the Gilbert House Children's Museum in Salem. There are GroupOn coupons available. with enough indoor and outdoor adventures, it may be just the trick not only for your kids, but for your inner child as well.

word du jour

kudos for today's lesson in vocabulary goes to yet another alert reader who sent the following word via email: jeremiad. my first thought? "maybe this is what happens to someone when they've read too many of the old testament prophets?" so, to avoid certain shaming by misuse, i looked it up.

jeremiad: noun, from the french jeremiade, 1780. a prolonged lament (see, it could be the prophets!) or complaint; also a cautionary or angry harangue (also a great word).

challenge to you: making up a sentence using "jeremiad"...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

weeding, writing and 'rithmatic

today i traveled vicariously to germany, the czech republic and ireland through people's stories and music without leaving portland. i also discovered i am a Dumb Potato Farmer, hereafter referred to as a DPF to save time. why am i a DPF?

well, while weeding i decided to check on the status of the 25' row of spuds that, after several weeks were doing nothing. absolutely nothing. had i planted them too deep? not enough water? so i dug one up and stared at it, thinking dejectedly to myself, "this spud's for you" and empathizing with farmers of the historic potato blight era. when i stumbled upon the local farmer's market later in the day i found two farmers who looked like they knew what they were doing.

"aww, them grocery store potatoes. they put inhibiting spray on 'em, won't grow a sprout to save your life, darn shame. what you need, missy is some good seed 'taters, but they're all gone by now. march, maybe april's your best bet. heck, i swoop 'em up whenever i see 'em in early spring."

since advice is never truly free i felt obliged to pay for it in the form of a jar of strawberry jam and, yes, a bag of potatoes that had not been sprayed with inhibitor and would lower my DPF status considerably. i would try again because i am stubborn and part irish. plus there is nothing like digging up potatoes in the fall; like tumbling buried treasure out of the earth. but i digress.

gardening is going pretty well, for this year anyway. writing? i wrote chapter 4 in a collection i've been working on. and math? the latest chapter i read in the divine proportion made absolutely no sense. i am still trying to figure out the formula that gives the book it's title.

all in a day's work.

Monday, July 26, 2010

a word from our sponsor

intellectual cafe

before i get started on the entry of the day, this just in from an astute reader via text message: "fun new word for the day that my son discovered, it is epizuexis which means the repetition of a word for emphasis." now that bears repeating!

this weekend i attended the portland meetup "intellectual cafe". completely out of my comfort zone and knowing only the friend i went with, i thought i would just eat, drink and be silent. the topic was "immigration". i've never been one to retain facts. i can write poems about them or notice how they affect people's feelings, but the latest news and legislature hasn't always been my cuppa.

about an hour into the discussion (which involved 20+ people of all types gathered around three huge wooden tables) i got brave. i said something. then i said something else. responded to the woman across from me. challenged the man to the side of me. rerouted the conversation back to the original question. it was fun! and i learned a lot about an otherwise foreign topic (no pun intended).

it made alot of sense along with this tidbit sent from another alert reader in terms of personality and development. i am an INFJ on myer's-briggs (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging) thus the emphasis on right brain, emotion, etc. but the transition to logic and facts can best be described:

"at midlife (that gave me pause, but whatever) an INFJ can best continue developing the thinking function in the form of logic and the pursuit of theory. the pleasure of taking a theoretical model and applying it to a situation may be a source of interest, which an INFJ may have been neglecting. while continuing to pursue the person-to-person in feeling type relationships, at midlife (they keep using that word, i do not think it means what they think it means!) INFJ's may want to get more involved in working with NT's (intuitive thinkers) who offer a dimension not dominant in NF's and vice versa."

left brain hemisphere, here i come...

Friday, July 23, 2010

the play's the thing

i have wondered from time to time, "where have all the shakespeares (and mozarts and thoreaus and dickinsons) gone?!" well, last night i found one.

my friend's daughter and friends put on a play in their backyard that she's been writing since 3rd grade--comarades, that's six years. and she wrote in all the humor, stage directions and two hours of amazing dialogue. she just loves to write and write some more (kind of like me with these blog postings!)

these highschoolers have spent every free minute for as long as my friend can remember getting ready for these summer productions, which run for three consecutive nights, have tickets and even concessions.

i've been to a lot of theater, even around the world, and i'm telling you this play was worth much more than $2. seeing the talent emerging from the next generation is priceless!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dog mountain

now that i've taken a nice hot soak and applied some mentholated lotion, i'm ready to blog about dog mountain. realizing not everyone who reads this is blessed to live in the great northwest, nonetheless this hike is worth it!

i wasn't sure what to expect because the websites and hiking books say "difficult-strenuous" and mention words like poison oak and rattlesnakes. don't be deterred. if you're going, do bring exact change: a $5 dollar bill (we ended up having to put a $20 in but, it's for a good cause). it's about 8 miles round trip on a steep grade, but if you are in moderate-good shape, pace yourself and drink lots of water, it's fine. there is a lot of poison oak on the lower switchbacks, so just stay on the trail. saw lots of snake holes too (make lots of noise and don't sit on rocks or hidden logs).

the payoff? coming upon a sprawling field of wildflowers (may is best but there were still several in bloom this time of year, especially higher up) and your imagination can fill in the rest. once to the top, you can have lunch while simultaneously viewing st. helens, the gorge and mt. hood.

word girl

my friend maya gets blog time! she is one of the smartest young kids i know. everytime we play together, i say "so, what's the word of the day?" it's been everything from "preposterous" to "hypothesis" because this girl seriously delights in words. here are some quotes from her world to yours:

"lanette, you're going to love the word of the day, it's hilarious!"
"oh, cool, what is it?"
"i just told you."
"you did?"
"yeah, the word is 'hilarious'."
"ha ha, that's hilarious, maya!"
"no, no, no, it's the word of the day."

and...her latest "mellow" as in,

"mom, do you mind if i play mellow with the old silverware grammy gave you? i just love sorting silverware from olden times."

word girl has spoken.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the divine proportion

something is going on...first i start loving and understanding the logic of math. then i see pattern as the overarching principle of design for everything from nature and people to music and art. then my friend's husband (engineer) loans me a copy of "the divine proportion: a study in mathematical beauty" by h.e. huntley which is brilliant and absolutely transfixes me. that's only only after chapter one.

i want some time to think this summer. (as in someone calls and says "what are you up to?" and i say, "thinking".) and i have more than a feeling that time to read this book (small but pithy) will have a direct impact on what and how i teach art this year because it has everything to do with aesthetics.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

birthday buddy

fortunate enough to share a birthday season with someone you love? if so, what are some of your traditions?

i have a birthday twin; "soul sisters" we call each other (i was born on her 31st) who is still very much alive and i had a birthday buddy (my professor, mentor and friend who would be celebrating her 57th tomorrow, the day after mine). she called me her "21st birthday present" and for 15 years we celebrated the joys of not only shared, but shared SUMMER celebrations and thanked each other for being born at this time of year as if we had anything to do with it. and it was with her--for my own 21st--that i had my first champagne.

we also wrote letters for 15 years. not blogs or just emails, but real letters on cool stationery that required stamps. i've saved everything in a big vintage suitcase in my room. when i open it, it smells of lavendar and vanilla. mixed cassette tapes (yes, tapes!) tumble out along with a blend of sympathy cards, far-side comics, jane austen novels and grief workshop fliers. it smells somehow sweeter each time i crack open the lid but i still cry.

i got an e-card from her daughter today and i thought how sweet and how painful it might have been for her to send that to me knowing what tomorrow is. and i imagine their lives, how we all go on by some mysterious power, both propping and propelling us forward. sometimes when they laugh i look up and expect to see her, sitting at the table with Good Earth tea in hand.
then i blink and remember. but we still share the celebration and nothing can take that away. in the meantime, i guess our letters will just require supernatural postage. colleen, i still miss you.

the lips have it

ok. i want you to think about your favorite feature and why. (it's not narcissistic, it's interesting, go ahead...i just read a blog entry about a woman who didn't realize how much she liked her nose until her dog almost bit it off). maybe you've never given it much thought. i hadn't really until yesterday. a friend took me to nordstrom to have my lips done.

anything come to mind?

nordstrom, to me, is like a foreign country. i haven't been inside the doors since i started teaching because i get my makeup at walmart thankyouverymuch. that said, i seriously thought someone was going to ask me for my passport or something. i'm afraid that it will cost me money just to look at things because i have the curse of expensive taste. wide-eyed i was swooshed into the chair and surrounded by young, kind and fancy makeup artists. a bit disheveled from trying to get to the appointment on time, i was also due for a powdering which she deftly accomplished and then she said, "you have perfect lips."

"mmm...zanksss" (translated: oh, thanks! while trying to hold still)

"no, seriously," she continued, "i've done a lot of lips and yours are perfect."

"ah-ea?" (really? as in, does she say this to everyone?!)
i do have this little marilyn monroe mole just above my upper lip. my mom wanted me to have it removed for years out of fear it was cancerous. but it's not, it's just there and frankly, i'm too vain to want to have a scar above my lip, but i would if i had to.

"let's see what italian rose looks like on you." and it was beautiful.

later, italian rose in a bag swinging from my arm thanks to my friend, i felt beautiful. while putting my sandals back on at the fountain later, my big toe happened to land right in front of some grafitti on the bench that said, "you look beautiful today." it was surprising that such a small thing could have such an impact. and i appreciated the trip because it wasn't something that i would think of doing for myself.

so, what have you decided?

pony express

just another day in paradise to sleep in, brew coffee, pick fresh blueberries...i turned 36 today and celebrated by having my family over. since i like to host, we grilled and finished off with cobbler. i even found the baseball glove dad gave me when i was 10 and we played catch in the backyard. a few rounds of lawn darts...

...when my neighbor came down the driveway on her horse (a purebred morgan no less) calling out "pony express, special birthday delivery!" to hand me my card and ask if i wanted a ride. now, i've been feeding and helping to care for this horse, anastastia or "stasia" for short, for about 15 years now, but have never actually ridden her. i've loved horses all my life and have absolutely no fear of ordinary barn or trail horses. purebreds with arabian in them? well, i'd like to live at least another 36 years.

today it hit me: i've been afraid of this beautiful chocolate brown wonder because she is too much like me--full of fire, passionate, spirited, strong-willed. and horses know when you're afraid, in this case, of myself. yes, i am uneasy about those very same things in me. so to be able to ride her today was significant. to turn 36 and not only not be afraid of yourself, but to feel quietly confident about your own strength under control? now that's a happy birthday surprise indeed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

mortified, live

today was filled with adventures in words. for starters, i got to teach an aspiring writer all about the hero's journey at our tutoring session. (who knew there were so many parallels between despereaux and jesus?!)

and the day closed with tickets to see "mortified" at the mission theater. where else can you hear real portlanders reading from their high school journals!? ( we laugh because who hasn't written, "i tried not to fall for you but it didn't work" or "tonight they held my hand for the first time...sigh".

so, question for you. would you get up in front of a sold out house and read--unedited--from your junior high and high school journals (including really bad poetry about your first crush?) enquiring minds want to gives the hero's journey a whole new meaning!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

quelle zoo

today i went to the zoo.
and rode the train.

(i swear i have a 12-year old girl trapped inside this 36-year old body.)

the crocodile is dauntingly awesome in his statuesque patience and the baby elephant reminds me of my childhood favorite "babar".
what is your favorite story from when you were little?

city of your final destination

i took myself out to living room theaters last night, one of my favorite places to see a great film. i love seeing movies with others and going out to talk about them afterwards, but i also--depending on the show--enjoy going solo and staying in my own head.

"the city of your final destination" is about a professor trying to gain authorization to write a biography on a recently deceased author. he doesn't take no for an answer, even traveling to visit the family. once authorization is finally granted, he realizes that's not what he's supposed to be doing with his life at all.

there's a biography i'd really like to write too. on the drive home, though, i thought more about it from different angles. maybe i too am missing something. maybe my original destination isn't where my writing is designed to turn up afterall?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

angels and insects

while i was reading via lantern light in my backyard camp spot last night, i learned a new word (o happy day). it is "inimical". as in the context, "there was, in this region, something inimical about the vegetation itself" (p. 35) of angels and insects by a.s. byatt.

inimical means hostile or having to do with enemies. (wow, i'd hate to run into inimical vegetation, but now that i think of it, i have).

i shall try, dear readers, to use it in a sentence today. you know, work it into ordinary conversation. like, "wow, it's really hot today, pretty inimical wouldn't you say?" or "what a great movie! i found the antagonist very inimical, however." or, for lack of better etymology, "wow, that outfit is wicked inimical!" (blame the last one on summer teacher brain).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

down to earth

today i had the privilege of visiting with a real farmer. my relatives were down from canada and stopped for a visit. as soon as he got out of the car he walked right to our tractor. he is old school without being old fashioned. he knows all about crop rotation and is up to speed on modern agriculture wars and the tragic industrialization of america's food. we talked about "food inc." the movie and about what the word "organic" really means. in between singing the praises of good topsoil, he can tell you the cure for every plant disease and best means for livestock health. he still believes in letting the ground rest every 7 years and found that, through the years, it actually boosted his production and finances in the long run.

he is a dying breed, one of the last great real men of the land. (you haven't had breakfast until gerald has made you his speciality multi-grain cereal). he is someone you want to have strong brewed coffee with around a campfire, for he can spin a tale like no one else. the man has pluck, wit, verve...he's simply refreshing and, quite literally, down to earth.

Monday, July 12, 2010


i've been thinking alot about repetition and design. patterns are everywhere: math, nature, people, art...they are a basic principle of design and how we learn to understand the world. even the breaking of one can still be a pattern. here's a poem playing with the concept.

"most everyone is lousy at math and does that to God--dissects the Indivisible One."--hafiz

i am a principled design
training your eyes
to find the difference
at first blink
from there collecting probabilities
a structured framework
on which to stand
a while
the day i'm broken (let me be) or
clustered in the rule of odds is
when you dare to rearrange
the furniture of God
and in doing so you still have
nothing on the spider web
collect the fragments as you will
it's all the same to me


i can tell i've entered vacation mode because my blog has turned into a portland cultural resource page. just one more event for now, i promise, then back to poetry and words.

chamber music northwest! tonight's baroque concerto night was pure, sonorous bliss. there are still plenty of concerts in their summer lineup. you too can sit on the lawn of reed college and spit cherry pits. i'm just sayin'.

to the hammock, quoth she!

if i were still on facebook, i would become a fan of hammocks! because i slept out in my friend's backyard under the stars and wrote poems from theirs.

summers in portland are just so much fun. where else can you wake up and have breakfast at the waffle window (just off hawthorne by the bread & ink cafe) and then spend a day out on the boat? like i told a friend, it's a tough life, but someone's gotta live it...
stay tuned for a "meteor shower campout party" in my backyard. which, if you haven't been here yet, is a small corner of paradise.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


another fun summer venue: andaz bhangra
@ the rotture 315 se 3rd ave.
8th anniversary party 7/17/10
$8, 9-3 am (doesn't really get going until 11)
starting in august 1st saturdays of the month
dj anjali is the best (
this is indie-groove at it's finest, folks

geeks no more!

"orchestra geek!"


"you play what!?"

welcome to the hippest thing since, well, 5th grade orchestra: the portland cello project! not only is portland's doug fir lounge urbanite experience extraordinaire (great fries), but it has air conditioning. and tonight it had a dance party. let's just say no one is making fun of these classical musicians anymore.

oregon symphony by day, rock fusion club by night.
author's note: violas still rock, however. a happy coincidence? a friend of a friend later, we were joined at the club by genius joseph, a violist from madrid. he gifted me with copies of his latest composition written for two violas! (which, by the way, i will be taking to the "violas are just better" sectional gathering at coffee cottage next week).
i guess we're still a bit geeky. but proud of it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

vive la france

i'm sensing a theme here. francophones of the world, unite. (bad spellers, just untie). although i've yet to go (save those pennies for when i turn 40), france is coming to me. at least three friends have traveled there in the last several weeks. i received a beautiful book called "sarah midda's south of france: a sketchbook" yesterday as an early birthday gift from a dear friend. and this photo is fresh from europe with the caption "where i shopped for you". i'll take living vicariously for now...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

make a wish

i have ten days left of being 35. i've enjoyed this year alot. according to erik erikson, i'm leaving the 18-35 young adulthood stage and moving into 36-54, a time characterized by production and care. "generativity" it's called. (we can thank graduate school for my inability to simply just blow out candles in this regard. we were analyzed ad nauseum and learned more than anyone probably wants to know.)

it takes me longer to recover from camp but i'm calmer, more content to let adventures come to me. my lower back declares itself, but i'm more appreciative of life's gifts. emily dickinson sums it up well in her quote, "instead of waiting for heaven at last, i've been going all along."

happy life stage graduation to me?

nettie does netting

today's conclusion: netting is designed to keep us from our berries, the birds will get them just fine.

set for a day of gardening, i was armed. gloves, hat, insecticide, soaker hoses, shovel, seeds, stakes, pruning shears, wheelbarrow and...netting.

(i wonder if mr. macgregor had this much trouble trying to keep peter rabbit out of his garden?) the black mesh stuck to shoes, snagged on my toenails, caught on shirt buttons...everywhere but where it was supposed to go.

the robin just watched my tangled antics. (in woman vs. inanimate object the victor was clear) flew over and grabbed a big fat blueberry. ate it and, i swear, he laughed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

the girls

very rarely will a book read me. but when it does, it grabs and shakes my soul, demanding full attention in less than 12 hours and will not let me rest until every word has been read. from the first sentence i was oblivious to everything around me. strawberry shortcake came and went. no interest in my favorite games. almost missed the 4th of july fireworks. could not sleep until i had come to page 324. that good. i didn't realize that i was laughing out loud until i was also crying, wiping tears from my eyes. words and descriptions so savory, so filling, who needed dessert?

having just come from a week of siblings who'd been living apart from each other, i had no idea when i chose this seemingly "random" book from a stranger's beach house shelf that it would be a poignant and polar opposite: conjoined twins.

for the oregonian article of our week with foster care siblings:

for a great summer read: "the girls" by canadian author lori lansens

Saturday, July 3, 2010

o canada

as a dual citizen, i get to celebrate two holidays in a row: canada day and july 4th. at the camp i was just at ( three counselors drove all the way to silverton, oregon from alberta, canada. they had a canadian flag tacked to the outside of their cabin and on thursday july 1st i sang their national anthem to them at breakfast. regular hockey game attendance helps with this. as does knowing how to correctly spell canada: C-eh?-N-eh?-D-eh? but seriously:

o canada our home and native land
true patriot love in all thy sons command
with glowing hearts we see thee rise
the true north strong and free
from far and wide
o canada we stand on guard for thee
God keep our land glorious and free
o canada we stand on guard for thee
o canada we stand on guard for thee