Sunday, November 26, 2006

Poems of the Season

I don't yet know how to attach a poem as a file attachment (not as a link) so I will try to put them as block quotes. These poems are not new, but I still like them.


We stand together at the stove.
It's late, night, the kitchen dark
only a small light shines on our work.
The boiled onions in the pan still warm
yield gently as we peel away
their sticky paper skins, reveal
translucent globes of greenish white,
soft and wet, the size of grapes
some like plums. Tomorrow
we'll make the sauce my father loved.

These sweet onions smell like family
as we pull the skins off tenderly
and talk. Hands busy, our minds go free
in the timeless way of women. I've known
this cousin off and on for fifty
years yet only now we're working toward
a deeper friendship, getting to the
heart of understanding. We talk
of karma, reincarnation -- whether
we can talk to God and will he --
or she -- talk back. We laugh
like girls -- why not? The
onions do not make us cry.

copyright. November 16, 1998
Sara Jameson

* * Here's the other one, and I hope the formatting remains right [I see that it doesn't quite because my lines are long and the margins here are too narrow]
Poem Written the Day After Thanksgiving

Decide to open your eyes each morning, look through Venetian blinds.
A few remaining maple leaves and purple mums linger in the dawn to
Greet you.

Every piece of creation – the sleeping sun unseen in thick morning fog, the full moon
sliding behind bare branches at night, making the leaf littered yard look like snow,
two bright stars and a planet piercing the blue black sky – all
Greet you.

Celebrate the miracles: roast turkey left over in the fridge, pumpkin pie spicy
with ginger, family and friends holding hands around tables, all
Greet you.

Each day gets darker, yet strings of white lights line the eaves, dangling
like icicles, neon angels and reindeer grazing with bells and stars in the yard
Greet you.

Memories of childhood – sledding city streets and school yards piled high with snow
in those days, pine-scented Christmas trees sparkling under red blue green glass balls and gold stars –
Greet you.

Before you forget, before you let these memories go, picture yourself at five,
and seven, at twenty five and thirty, you at fifty now, the eternal
child dancing in your heart. . . Let her
Greet you.

Each of us here in Oregon, America, on Earth, those of us cuddled on couches
with purring cats or shivering on street corners in Portland or New York,
laughing with friends or dying in jails in any country, in any century, all
Greet you.

Remember each other. Hug and hold hands, smile and phone home.
Say I’m sorry, I’m glad, I need you, each of you.
Love is why we’re here. Angels are everywhere.
They greet you.

copyright Sara Jameson
December 2000

Day after Thanksgiving in Oregon

The day after Thanksgiving – America’s busiest shopping day - reminds me of years spent working in retail and recreation. I recall distinctly the November of 1984, my first year working as a lift operator attendant (we were called list hostesses then) at Mt. Bachelor ski resort in Bend, Oregon. I was stationed at the bottom of the old Outback lift, then a slow two-seater, checking lift tickets and keeping 12 rows of doubles in line and moving along. Despite the snow and cold, I had removed my uniform jacket and moved along in my white plaid blouse and pigtails. Then from 1992 to 2000, I kept busy the day after Thanksgiving at The Book Stop in Grants Pass [out of business now], selling and wrapping gift books, notably Harry Potter books toward the end. What an exhausting time that was, fun, but exhausting. This year I spent the four-day weekend reading student papers and catching up on some research.

Reading in Oregon

One of my favorite holiday treats is to read the newest issue of Smithsonian magazine, [today Sunday 11/16 the magazine website does not yet have the December issue up, but that should be there soon] whose subscription is provided annually by my brother Jack who worked at the Smithsonian for years (whereas I only worked there two very interesting summers).

The December issue has a feature article by novelist Paul Theroux about raising geese, [ he calls himself a gozzard or goose herder] and premised on what I see as a very snotty critique of E. B. White, an author ten times more elegant than Theroux. It’s true that my low opinion of Theroux’s work comes partly from my father – a determined Anglophile - who disdained Theroux for writing Kingdom by the Sea as a ridiculous stunt to travel the sea coast of England. When I finally read Kingdom, I was not as disappointed as Dad has been, but I disliked others of Theroux’s works as pretentious and snobbish. After all, consider his personal website!

(In fact, I persist in pronouncing the novelist’s name as Ther-oo, to rhyme with goo, rather than as some do, Ther-Oh, because I don’t want to link the novelist with Thoreau).

Anyway, my curiosity and my ire piqued by the reference to E.B. White’s essay “The Geese” I got out my copy of Essays of E. B. White,(New York: Harper & Row, 1977. 62-68) [note that my copy is 1977 and does not have the same cover as this one pictured on Amazon] and enjoyed his nostalgic lament on the affairs of goose-dom – especially gander-dom, I should say.

White’s essays are far superior to his more widely known children’s books. In the guest journal on the desk (in this drawing) in the delightful E. B. White room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, where I spent two delightful days with a view north along the beack to the Yaquina Head lighthouse, I wrote a reference to White’s witty poem "I Paint What I See" for the New Yorker in 1933, about Diego Rivera’s mural in the RockefellerCenter building.

By the way, over this holiday I also finished reading Woolf’s The Waves, and was sorry to have it end. Rather, like the endless ocean, I would have had it continue indefinitely.

Happy reading to you all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


It's 4:40 on a dark rainy Wednesday, day before Thanksgiving, and I am about wrapping up the papers on my desk, the piles of student drafts to read, the sets of graded essays from the graduate teaching assistants to study, and the long delayed research papers and books to read for the four day weekend. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful colleagues, great thinkers and writers. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to teach so many wonderful students.

Recently, the Mutts cartoom has been running a series of episodes in which the cat Mooch and the dog Earl say repeat the line from Meister Eckhardt "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
" I agree. We really like this cartoon. Check out Mutts.

To all our friends and family, to all the animals and to the earth herself, and to God.
Thank You.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Information Literacy Summit

Today's daylong Information Literacy Summit at OSU was a great time for writing instructors, librarians and information technology folks from Oregon community colleges and OSU to meet and share resources and talk about common visions and goals. Check out the blog here.
One important issue we addressed is professional development-continuing education for instructors, especially for adjuncts, who teach the majority of writing classes and who are not paid to attend such functions and therefore cannot afford to come. Some way has to be found to provide them with the training they need (and want!) to teach these skills. I'm hoping that the next time the summit convenes - next term? - that progress can be made. One great idea is to create a required but paid on online module for instructors in the pedagogy of information literacy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Great post on identity - something for the 4C's?

Just a final note - (and if I publish 4 times in one day does that count as extra credit toward not having posted for a while?) - this essay by Natasha and Ruben heads in a direction similar to what Michael and I are researching.

TA Practicum

This will give just a taste of what the graduate student teaching assistants work with in our fall practicum. Michael Faris, one of last year's teaching TA's who is now working for the Writing Intensive Curriculum and sadly missed as one of our teachers, presented an exercise about rhetorical analysis of images for this year's incoming cohort. The ensuing discussion intrigued me, especially all the comments about how powerful the woman looked, whereas to me, she looked stony, impassive, enduring, resigned. Maybe a woman who does not look eager and seductive is seen as powerful because she is self-contained? The model in this photograph seems entirely inwardly directed. Among the various comments on her "bloody" hand and eye, no one mentioned the possibility that she, like Oedipus, had taken out her eye - refusal to see what was around her. Only one eye, however. The left one.

One achievement --

April, my friend and colleague at OSU, has started a great blog called Write Like Mad where she has already posted great material about educational blogging as part of her work in ENG 595. She has a lot of good material here already. Thanks for adding to the conversation, April.

What good is blogging?

This interesting article on "What has blogging really accomplished?" chould help us all think or rethink why we are here. It may seem odd to mention being "here" when I have been sadly absent from this forum lately. Can I say that I have been too busy to think? Is that an excuse?