Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coastal like weather

This weekend has been a blessing with the cool cloudy weather - such a relief from last weekend's 104` Now we can think again. The late sun -- at 8 PM -- is sneaking/peeking under the clouds and shining through the neighbor's Douglas Firs and apple tree, laden with Gravensteins. Soon I will be reading Virginia Woolf's The Waves again and letting it cool and soothe my mind. Getting ready for another week of classes, but at least tomorrow is peer review, which means just facilitating the students as they share papers and comment. Wearing black again as usual.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Blinds

Bought Venetian blinds cut to fit the two unstandard bedroom windows and installed them. I have been wanting them for four years since moving into this house. For some reason I love blinds, the way the light is sliced, tipped, turned, the way the sky is neatly portioned, bringing order to the delightful disarray of nature, balancing the curves of clouds and branches with the perfect tiny horizons rising one above another. Perhaps in my childhood I watched the day through the slats and lattices because now they seem to be absolutely comforting. I am so happy.

Friday, July 28, 2006


When I ran across this word last night in an essay about blogs, I wanted to check the meaning. According to Wikipedia ( 28 July 2006)

The term "meme" (IPA: [miːm], not "mem"), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Other examples include deities, concepts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, practices, habits, dances and moods which propagate within a culture. A meme propagates itself as a unit of cultural evolution analogous in many ways to the gene (the unit of genetic information). Often memes propagate as more-or-less integrated cooperative sets or groups, referred to as memeplexes or meme-complexes.

Some proponents of memes suggest that memes evolve via natural selection — in a way very similar to Charles Darwin's ideas concerning biological evolution — on the premise that variation, mutation, competition, and "inheritance" influence their replicative success. For example, while one idea may become extinct, other ideas will survive, spread and mutate — for better or for worse — through modification.

~~ Very interesting

Ekphrastic poetry

Having a lovely morning pondering ekphrastic poetry:

I will at some point post a poem I wrote about Paris, no apple astonishing me - [Collins' Apple That Astonished Paris]. I recently learned a second allusion to that title - not only is it Paris and the 3 graces and the golden apple, but also, Cezanne's painting! - I don't actually have that volume of Collins' so maybe he has a poem - ekphrastic? - that clarifies whether he is talking about the Greek or the Impressionist. However a brief search of the table of contents on for an acual poem (eponymous) of that title in the Apple volume comes up empty, so maybe there isn't actually one.

Here are some pages about ekphrastic poetry: copy paste into a browser
and links (i hope) Ekphrastic

And here is information on the Breughel painting of Icarus:
Painting of Icarus
which links to two ekphrastic poems - one by WH Auden and one by William Carlos Williams. Lovely.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Enjoyable talking with a new doctoral student in Foreign Languages about her work with listening skills for language acquisition. She shared some techniques that can be used with teaching WR 121.

In exchange, I shared Billy Collins' poems "The History Teacher" and "Questions about Angels" with her. A fair trade?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Is letting (encouraging?!) a student to revise a paper for a better grade being too soft or demonstrating the need for constant work on one's writing? Peter Elbow's "Embracing Contraries" would seem to argue for giving the student more chances.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Having not posted in a few days since creating the blog, I feel somewhat out of touch with myself if not also with the world. At least the air is a bit cooler here in Oregon today, so that I feel perkier - though not like Katie Couric, I suspect. It's nearly time to go home, and I wish I had some clever ideas to post. Here's a thought -- why do people so often misquote George Santayana who said "those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it" (at least according to Wikipedia) whereas people say "history repeats itself" which does not mean the same thing, quite.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Subject matter - personal? public? First year composition personal writing?

Here are some interesting ideas I just found posted by Holly at the Community College English blog

# Most writing, save those scribbled grocery lists and journal entries, is meant to be communication and thus a public performance of sorts, but does that mean the writer must choose subject matter of civic importance?
# Suppose the writer’s interests are more inner-directed, her curiosity piqued more by psychological or philosophical questions rather than political or sociological issues. To what extent is this emphasis on “large-scale” events (the way so much history focuses on battle campaigns rather than the details of everyday life) a “masculine” sort of bias?

~~ I'm thinking that Holly has a good point here. Isn't this the old Public/private - Male/female dichotomy? And maybe using blogs in the composition classroom will be a helpful way to show students how the Newsy filter blogs (predominantly male?) are rated (by them) as more valued than personal journal type blogs (predominantly female?) --

See this great collection of essays Into the Blogosphere at this link
(I promise to find out how to create hot links.

Starting - -

OK, I am slowly getting used to this blog format and ways to post. When Linda gets back from Denver, I will show her and hope that she wants to work with me here.

Slowly, I will add things. Meanwhile, as I try to keep cool in a HOT Oregon weekend, I will say that reading Virginia Woolf's The Waves and Stephen Gould's The Panda's Thumb are great ways to relax in summer.

Here's a wonderful poem by Donald Hall called "Names of Horses" that I shared with my friend Michael yesterday. Note: The line breaks are not quite right due to copy and paste.

Names of Horses

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the
mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending
to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed
you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your

and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

Donald Hall from Kicking the Leaves (1978)

More later.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Thinking in air is an interesting concept for where images, thoughts, ideas come from or go to -- I will have to see where this leads.