Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's June!

June has started out rainy, but that's Portland for you!

Hey I won a copy of Joshua Corey's new chapbook. And they say reading blogs is not a lucrative pursuit ...

Today one of my class ends and next week a new one begins! My summer class at WSU has six students.

I would be entirely content to finish Black Swan Green today and drink coffee and do nothing else. One of these days ...

My oriental poppies are blooming! According to folklore, staring into the center of a poppy will make you blind. But I did that yesterday, and so far my vision is fine.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

End of May

Look, I'm an Abstract Expressionist! I made this with stamp pad ink.

It is almost summer. We are on the verge of raspberry season which is my favorite season of the year! I could eat them by the bucket. Big buckets of raspberries, yes.

Do you have to learn to draw before you can be an Abstract Expressionist? Do they make you do charcoal drawings and contour drawings and learn perspective? Or is being an Abstract Expressionist a convenient way to forego all that?

My lavender is just about ready to bloom.

Laura returned from Outdoor School. This summer she will be going to the Rock 'n Roll Camp for Girls.

I rearranged my office this weekend and I'm very pleased with the result. Michael helped me move all the electronic stuff. It looks much better in here. Now there are two bookcases under the window.

I have a small black and white photo of my grandmother, sitting on top of one of the bookcases, taken long before I was born. She's wearing a long mink coat. It's a great photo. And today is her 91st birthday! Happy Birthday Grandma!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spring Rain

It has been raining a lot this week - and mostly I like rain - but this week I keep thinking of sixth graders at Outdoor School hiking around (or whatever it is they do there) in the rain.

Particularly, my Sixth Grader! Maybe we will get mail from her tomorrow.

I have been reading Kenneth Koch's New Addresses and really liking it. Janine mentioned it to me. Now I want to write address poems. Dear Spring! Dear Rain! Dear Dishes in the Kitchen! Dear Guitar! I love Koch's conversational tone. And of course he was from the New York School - and they are all great (that is my great critical literary insight for today, thanks very much).

Max is going to take guitar lessons. We found a teacher and Max will go a few times and see what he thinks. He's pretty excited about it.

Max wore his WHO t-shirt to school this week; he said kids were asking him THE WHO were. Tragic.

I was feeling tired, but I ran three miles in the rain and now feel much better. Dear Running! Dear Rain!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fall Out Boy

Laura left for Outdoor School today. She'll be back Friday. Yesterday we went shopping at the mall. She told me as we were leaving that she HAD to get a Fall Out Boy t-shirt. So we went to a store that had Fall Out Boy t-shirts, and Green day t-shirts and other bands I've never heard of. We got Max a WHO t-shirt and he was psyched! I like some of those Fall Out Boy songs.

I ran six miles this morning. Amy and I are going to run the Cascade Run off in July, and that's nine hilly miles! So I must prepare for that.

Every day there's new things to see outside. Some lilies that I planted near the bird feeder have come up. The coreopsis is about to bloom. And the roses are going to town; I'm able to have cut roses inside all the time now.

Max's team won their game Saturday. They won't have another game until Friday, because the coach is also at Outdoor School! He is a middle school teacher as well as a Little League coach.

I gave Laura an envelope with a stamp, addressed to her family. And I snuck some fig newtons and a note from me into her suitcase. I hope they don't get rained on and the food is decent.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Michael and Laura went to the father/daughter Girl Scout dance tonight. They both looked pretty cute as they were leaving.

I haven't made a new collage in a while. Maybe tonight?

I ran five miles this morning, then shopped for clothes and did very little teaching-related activities!

Laura leaves for Outdoor School on Sunday. She'll be gone until next Friday. At least she has an address there so I can write to her. It will be quiet around here.

Meetings this week at Washington State University in Vancouver. This fall they will start admitting freshman and I will be teaching in the General Education department and the English department.

Wow, I actually named one of the places I teach - I've outed myself! WSU-Vancouver has a gorgeous campus. I'm sure the freshman will like it!

My iris are blooming and there are even little blossoms on my tomato plants. My sunflower seeds have sprouted. I evicted a peony today. It was kind of in the irises way. Except the peony was here first. Garden wars!

It was fun to hear Daneen and other poets read on Wednesday. It made me miss Janine and Zanni and Nico.

I read this article today in MORE magazine that this woman wrote about deciding not to dye her hair anymore. MORE is written for the over-40 woman for those of you not familiar with it. They showed the before and after pictures, and I do think she looks lots better with her grey hair. But halfway through the article, I started to feel like, geez lady it's just your hair. I mean it just started to seem a little too narcissistic to be so overly worried about the color of one's hair! It became this big reflection and/or metaphor for her personal journey into middle adulthood. Why does everything have to be a big personal journey? The many trips to the colorist to make the growing out look more natural, the comment on her new look from some stranger outside a movie theater that made her feel attractive, etc. etc. I think it also revealed how women are always SO defined by what they look like! And it almost reminded me of articles in SEVENTEEN magazine about how to wear your hair. Except those articles just show a few pictures and then the article is over! This was words and words and words about this woman's hair. I mean, shouldn't we evolve a LITTLE as we age? Or do we just always have the same adolescent concerns that just follow us all through our lives, i.e. How does my hair look?

Okay, end of rant.

It's Friday!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I am not done with my changes

I had a fun Mother's Day. I am now a member of the Portland Art Museum! The whole family is! Michael and the kids gave me a membership for Mother's Day. I can't wait to take advantage of it.

Drove to Corvallis Sunday and saw my mom, briefly! Planted geraniums and other flowers in pots that are now in her courtyard and under her window.

It was unseasonably warm yesterday. The flowers seem to be digging it.

I have lots of meetings this week, and conferences with students! It's sestinas and villanelles this week for my poetry students. Which means, of course, "One Art" and "Do Not Go Gentle" and things like that!

Tomorrow I will go see Daneen and other PSU poets read. I'm looking forward to that.

Stanley Kunitz is gone. He will be missed.

One of my favorite poems of his:
The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Michael and I couldn't decide what movie to see last night - it was either Mission Impossible Three or some other movie...

So we went to see Assassins at Artist Repertory Theatre. The theater there is small and intimate, so it was fun to see a musical in that setting. It's about presidential assassins. The actors who played John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald were the strongest, I thought.

Today Zapoura and I went to a faculty roundtable and "facilitated" discussions about teaching writing. It was interesting!

This week I have conferences with my poetry students, and other meetings about writing classes.

But more importantly, a baseball game Tuesday! Max's team won today.

Laura has her final track meet this week, but I may have to miss it due to meetings.

Tomorrow I'm going to see my mom in Corvallis to wish her happy Mother's Day thoughts.

Tonight ... singing! Or my imitation of it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It's Early

I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up! I feel like Zanni. No, if I were Zanni it would be 2:30 a.m. instead of 5:45 ... But Zanni's dream about being pregnant with a sheep reminded me of a dream I had a long time ago - in high school I think - where I had kittens!

I like being up early. The light outside my office window is morning-ous! Or something.

Today in poetry class we are talking more about sonnets. Everyone is supposed to bring their sonnet to class and we will workshop them in class today, instead of doing the usual take-them-home-and-comment-on-them thing. Because Thursday they have a project due!

The Portland Art Museum has a new exhibit, Great Painters in Brescia From the Renaissance to the 18th Century. I want to go!

I am working on a long poem that will take a long time to finish. It's nice to have a longer-ish poem as backdrop to the shorter ones I write. A poetry book I am reading, whose name escapes me and I don't want to get up and find it, has made me think about syntax more. The moving around. of it. Yes, The Waiting by Megan Johnson! I remembered!

I want to read more Frank Bidart.

I'm reading Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. It's a novel. I'm going to read a lot of novels this summer, I have decided. I'm open to suggestion!

Laura's class is going downtown today on a field trip.

There is nothing more pleasing than the first cup of coffee in the morning. I think no one knows this better than my mother and me. I bet she is up too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Raw Goods Inventory

It's Friday! Laura is at a Girl Scout leadership conference this weekend. Max has a game tomorrow! I had dinner tonight with Daneen at the Doug Fir.

I"m enjoying Emily Rosko's book Raw Goods Inventory. There will be poems by Emily in the next Caffeine Destiny!

Today I wrote a a poem, planted dahlias and coreopsis, petunias and cosmos! We'll see how they do.

Tomorrow night I'm going to watch my nephew in a high school production of Our Town. Emily, Grover's Corners, and all that.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tunnel of Love

I made a CD for Michael with just one song on it this morning. "Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen. We played that whole album a lot when we were first going out, in 1988.

When I met Michael I was still listening to just tapes - he bought me my first CD player.

It's our anniversary! And immigrants all over will be taking the day off to celebrate!

Sixteen years ago, the first Bush was president, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and Madonna's Vogue were hits, Seinfeld was in its first season, Ghost and Dances with Wolves were released as movies.

And Michael and I got married, in the Multnomah County Courthouse. Then we went to Atwater's for our reception. Then we went to Powell's bookstore and ended up at the Imperial Hotel for the night.

We spent our honeymoon at Sylvia Beach hotel, in the Colette and Agatha Christie rooms.

We got married on a Tuesday. My dad said, "no one gets married on a Tuesday!"

But we wanted to get married on May 1st.

This is a poem I wrote for Michael, in 1989:


He'll be a musician
in leather because there are songs
to be played. I'll carry his voice
on a tape with me everywhere,
in the grocery store I'll fondle
vegetables to the strum of his guitar.
I'll pull him from the line-up and
invent new crimes. We'll save
our lies for quick getaways.
I'll offer him a a palette and he'll
always choose black, the color
of conspiracy and machines.
I'll fall in love and present the evidence,
his face will be an answer.
I'll steal his coat and give him my hands
to be his hands. Together our bodies
will decipher what our words don't say,
a language of here and now.
I'll want the disaster of romance,
the sudden collision of needs
to embrace me. He'll play music
to suggest an intimate escape.
The night will accuse of premeditated
encounters and we'll surrender,
common criminals.

I love you Michael.