au revoir, Lied

July 30, 2006

Lied is over and I’m sitting in the Dallas airport enjoying the luxury of a hot-spot day pass that I’ll use for about two hours. Wonder if internet hot-spots will be so ubiquitous and necessary that logging on will be free. Um, doubt it.

Just read Jason’s evaluation and he made a comment with which I agree: facilitators should have shared their writing. D’oh! What a shift I experience when I freewrite and blog with my students. Classroom transformation. As a co-writer, I get to make myself just as vulnerable as the other writers/students. As a co-writer, I share my thoughts and struggles and epiphanies with the other writers/students. When I sit and they write, energy stutters at the firewall between teacher desk and student desk. When I write and they write — that is, when WE write — there is a we, and we create that collective through writing. Power differentials are not elided; I don’t turn into a twenty-year old college student and they don’t turn into a 52-yr-old gray-haired professor. But we create something together. That sounds sooooo corny, and it’s not really what I mean to say. But I’m going to have to wait until my brain finds better words.

red kayak

July 30, 2006

Cummings, Priscilla. Red Kayak. NY: Puffin/Penguin. 2004.

narrator: first-person, Brady

I’m at p. 89 and this continues to be pretty intense. Red Kayak reminds me a lot of Blackwater — similar issues, somewhat similar setting. I’m curious to see what else Brady learns. I like the details of crabbing and the dad’s voice.

It’s 1 August — I finished Red Kayak on the plane on Sunday on my way home from Omaha. I like the amount of time spent on what happens when Brady makes his decision to do the right thing. I’m not totally convinced by Digger’s transformation but it still works. The dad character continues to deepen. I’d pick Red Kayak over Blackwater for a text that requires critical ethical decisions by the narrator. But the cousin character in Blackwater is a really good bad-guy character.

um, just write

July 29, 2006

no clue what to write today except that i want to write i have three deadlines in as many weeks so i need to be producing many words soon as i get back to huntsville which by the way may get a wild oats which would be wildly oaty so as you can see i am not making much sense except that there is only one store in huntsville that sells all local fresh produce and homeopathic medicines and organic extra virgin coconut oil and that is garden cove which is run by seventh day adventists and thus respects the friday sabbath and closes at 3pm and is closed all day saturday which is fine and there is absolutely no meat which is totally cool but i would like some healthy chicken in town and maybe wild oats will be able to offer that and huntsville is a town that will continue to grow i really think so

Lied Lodge soul yummies

July 28, 2006
  • marathon
  • tech smorgasbord
  • geocaching

These were my soul yummies yesterday. I went on my second writing marathon with a group of inspiring writer/teacher/scholars and our first stop was Tasha’s geocache! Tasha whipped out her bright yellow GPS system, held it in front of her something like a member of the Starship Enterprise did when touching down on a new planet (what was that thing called? a tricorder? why was it called that? I am not googling tricorder now, I am NOT googling tricorder now… is there a 12-step group for obsessive googlers?) and we followed her. Trekked off the apple path and partway down a ravine, then jagged left…150 ft., this way, no, straight ahead…Tasha pointed out a tree back up from the ravine as a possible hiding place and I went towards it, around the side, and found an almost decayed piece of tree placed across the hiding place, which was the hollowed out section at the base of the tree. I saw a bit of white and blue plastic. Tasha uncovered the cache and we watched her open the plastic box, take out the cache notebook and show us the riches. No travel bug, which I’m learning is a particular find, but a 2002 Lied Lodge poster, keychain, calling card from a family of geocachers. Tasha took the keychain and put in a Chinese yo-yo and signed the notebook. She entered the find and showed me later at Tech Smorgasbord how it shows up on the Geocache website.

I would tell you I have a geocache account, but I’m going to ask my 14-yr-old son if he wants to do this together, and if he does, then we’ll choose a username together. The username is how you identify yourself on the geocache website and when you find a geocache and sign the book.

Marathoning with Tasha, Shari, Sondra, and Jane helped me immensely with my writing, allowed me to get a better sense of what they were writing — the issues they’re struggling with as they articulate their projects and experiences — and allowed me to see more of Lied Lodge than I did last year. I now have had an apple slushy, one of the world’s finest libations.

Tech Smorgasbord was AWESOME! Mary Jade’s Night Under the Stars at her school made me wish I’d been there to see the comet, stargaze, sleepover, write poetry, eat moon funnel cake. Lindsay’s presentation of her science classes’ use of Nicenet made me wish I had been in that class — any teacher who sees herself as Jedi Princess has to be cool. Just walking into the tech room delighted my geeky senses — the four tables set in a square were covered with all different kinds of laptops from Fujitsu to iMac to… all hooked up to the NWP subnet created just for us … all filled with rich mutimedia pedagogy.

some reasons I love Lied Lodge

July 26, 2006
  • wireless works in my room
  • Joe Cheney, the tech guy, responds quickly and professionally to all our tech needs
  • there’s a whomping gazillion inch new iMac that Joe rented for our tech room
  • the laminated card on the bed says, “Did you know? Using bed linens more than once during a multiple night stay can save hundreds of pounds of detergent and thousands of gallons of water each year. As part of our commitment to protecting the environment, we would like to offer you the choice of how often your linens are changed.”
  • quotations about trees line the walls in almost all public rooms
  • four small recycling trash baskets for aluminum, glass, paper, and trash sit under the vanity sink
  • next to the shower and on the wall above the towel rack, this sign states: “THANK YOU FOR HELPING US HELP THE ENVIRONMENT — Dear Guest, Can you imagine how many tons of towels are washed unnecessarily and barrels of detergents and chemicals are consumed every day in hotels throughout the world, subsequently polluting our waters?”

Did I mention that 20-inch screen new iMac? Did I mention that I’m beginning to believe I was a tree in another life? I don’t think those two things mutually exclude each other. I love technology. I love trees.

Facilitator group worked hard last night and all today. We’re ready for this writing party to get started!

Lied Lodge

July 25, 2006

I am in the middle of America — you could face a map of the United States, throw a dart dead center, and you’d most likely hit Nebraska City. My room at Lied Lodge isn’t quite ready and my eyes are drooping down to my jaw, but I’m sitting in one of my favorite places — the main room. I’ve just gotten a cup of midwest-strength coffee (that’s maybe half as strong as a good cup of European coffee) from the white-haired gentleman at the desk I remember from last year. The same driver took two of us from the Omaha airport to here and I’m feeling weirdly as if life just rewound one year.

Why is this one of my favorite places? Lied Lodge is one of the most important environmental spots around. Driving in, Dave pointed out the golf course and explained how Arbor Day Farms built the course to model how golfcourses can be environmentally respectful — much less watering, fields tufted with indigenous grasses.

Air conditioning is comfortable here but never cold. That’s all part of the integrated environmental design with a building that generates power with biomass. The lights in this room, and I remember also in the guest rooms, have paper shades with leaf designs. I look up and my eyes stretch all the way up to the beamed roof. Feels like a sanctuary for trees. Huge single logs provide foundational bases for part of this room. The logs look untreated and they’re cracked along natural fault lines. Wood walls stop halfway to the ceiling and give way to beige painted walls that have quotations about trees lining the whole place. That’s one of my favorite things.

The huge central chimney is hung with a banner that says “Plant trees” in about 20 languages. The other thing I love is the wireless setup. I’m thinkin’ trees like wireless.

I really need a nap. I’ll be here almost six days helping to facilitate the Writing and Technology: A Professional Writing Retreat. Full of writing, talking about writing and technology, talking about teaching. Writing Project events always energize and exhaust me, sometimes at the same time.

Getting close to Lied Lodge, Dave pointed out the granaries we could see in the SE part of Nebraska City. He said, “Come fall, there’ll be grain everywhere. Stacked outside the granaries because they’ll be full.” Soy and corn oceans. I kept thinking how the cattle industry relies on grain, but cattle are supposed to eat grass, not grain. Dave drove us through downtown Omaha and the bricked street with coffee shops, bars. He explained how his dad had a corner grocery store and all the modern shops used to be the market. We passed two women outside a coffee shop: one had a pink-tinged mohawk haircut.

I asked Dave about immigrants and he talked about the Poles and the Czechs and the Italians. Said the southern part of Omaha was pretty much all hispanic.

I’m feeling written out. I’m very proud of a villanelle I finished yesterday. Poetic form sometimes helps me to write, weirdly enough.

narrator in Magona’s novel

July 21, 2006

I’m about 2/3 done with the novel. The bulk of the middle part of the novel is about the narrator’s childhood and young adulthood. It seems as if the story has strayed, but I don’t think so. If the narrator wishes to explain her son’s conditions of living to Amy’s mother, then explaining her own conditions must appeal to Amy’s mother in some way. I’m not sure how this will read alongside Coetzee’s Disgrace. One thing is that Magona’s novel is in many ways the story of the narrator becoming a reluctant mother. Disgrace offers a narrator who faces his failure as a father at the moment his daughter needs him most: her rape. I wonder if the narrator in Mother to Mother will feel that she has failed her son at the time he needs her most: the moment he kills Amy. But the narrator says she is not surprised her son has killed. Her novel is an attempt to explain that.