Saturday, October 27, 2007

Focus the Nation

I learned about a project called Focus the Nation concerned with Global Warming that plans information efforts that culminate in symposia on January 31, 2008.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

First Lutheran Church

This view of First Lutheran Church, January 2007, during the two-week snowfall. The 125th anniversary will be acknowledged with a Sunday Service on October 21, 2007.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

At the Reading by David Guterson

At 7:40 forty reserved seats in the center front remained a mystery. That was when a person came and took the Reserved signs away and a few people went over to sit there.

I read Snow Falling on Cedars in 2003. This year I saw the movie on a DVD. I was happy with the cinematography. But the mystery resolved in a similar way to our reserved seats mystery at the reading. The book was a trial detective story with a convincing and well-explained missing clue that solved the question in a way that helped portray the setting more completely.

At one point my DVD screen began to separate into tiny rectangles, but I do not think I missed anything.

Important to me about the book's setting was the Scandinavian aspect of the fishing enclave. In the movie I hoped for more development and a larger portrayal of the Scandinavian aspect.

I thought the novel was very traditional in its size and aspirations, one that echoed novels of that time, the late 1930's, the 1940's.

Western Literature Association and Questions for David Guterson

Question One: Regarded David Guterson's father as a sports writer at Roosevelt High School in Seattle.

Answer: Yes Murray Guterson was David Guterson's father. Murray Guterson's mother wanted his to be an attorney, go to law school. Later he could become a writer. He should keep his options open.

Question Two: What was his reaction to Snow Falling on Cedars being made into a movie?

Answer: David Guterson answered that the movie was hard to follow. It was nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography. D.G. felt neutral about the film.

Western Literature Association and Questions for David Guterson

Question 3: An audience member said he knew D.G. at U.W. 30 years before and was in Scandinavian House with his brother John Guterson.

Answer: D.G. said he would talk to the fellow at the reception.

Question 4: A question about the poetry David Guterson read: What effect does it have on the prose?

Answer: D.G. wants his prose to be clear and plain.

Western Literature Association and Questions for David Guterson

Question 5: Why a cedar tree?

Answer: Rich, red and dry, the cedar tree is used for everything. The tree of life.

Question 6: The audience member, reading Snow Falling on Cedars in a seminar class, asked: What inspired the novel?

Answer: Bainbridge Island, where everyone of Japanese descent was interned in World War Two. D.G. saw transcribed oral histories.

Question 7: How were the characters created?

Answer: D.G. sees a balance between how another person is like oneself and how they are different. He works to strike that balance in his characters.

Western Literature Association and Questions for David Guterson

Question 8: When did D.G. write the memoir?

Answer: After Lady in the Forest, before the new novel.

Question 9: How does the central character in the the woods in the new novel compare to Into the Wild (a new movie by Sean Penn)?

Answer: D.G.: For the new book the character seek fulfillment, socially, politically, spiritually, not adventure.

Question 10: Is your work Western? Puget Sound?

Answer: D.G.: For D.G. writing is about place, to a fault. This is home. People of European descent have not lived here a long time to grow an indigenous literature. This contrasts to the South or the Eastern Bay area. We are part of the Pacific Rim...

Psychologists Who Use Public Transportation

Again and again I look for a psychologist who uses public transportation. There are particular traumas associated with catching a bus or making up your mind to walk instead now and then.

First Lutheran Church's 125th anniversary celebration Official Sunday Service will be Sunday, October 21st. The building, in the Wright Park area for 125 years, began on Tacoma Avenue North and soon moved to a larger building. The present building is the third main location. Between buildings, Sunday School met temporarily at the Valhalla Hall.

The church steeple is the the distance in the center of this photo.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blue Sky and Golden and Red Trees

The rain let up before it started to get dark, clouds farther away, but blue sky and golden and red trees. He watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps. Should thou walking in grief, languish, he will quicken thee. Mendehlsson.

Monday, October 15, 2007


To Kill A Mockingbird had not been stocked by the library when we were to read it for the First Tacoma Reads Together in 2001. All the copies were checked out so I took out a stack of other novels to read and started with an old favorite, Mrs. Wallop, by Peter Devries. Tacoma Reads Together has been a good experience as I, right then, continued with a novel I found, Uninvited Daughters, by Eleanor Spielberg. It had a setting of chilly houses and reading while making soup out of vegetables and beans, that late fall before Christmas reading novels fit in to the idea of that novel.

A novel by Kazuo Ishiguro reminded me of a few novels I had read in an English literature tradition. The style was very appealing to me. In When We Were Orphans is a usage of the term tubby - in the context two boys play has evolved into uncomfortable tests of courage -
"I can still see my friend, his tubby figure stiff with tension, his face, whenever he glanced back at me, shining with perspiration, willing himself a few steps further..."

I think the descriptive term tubby refers to the trunk of the figure and evokes a particular appearance I recognize.

But in our earliest year of Tacoma Reads Together, 2002, we read biographies of Charles Darwin in December and I brought in The Voyage of the Beagle, which I skimmed, and the CD of Bossa Nova music (not Joao Gilberto, but Jobim) which has a booklet with not one but two spines.

David Guterson to read at Western Literature Conference

When the Western Literature Conference opens Wednesday in Tacoma there is to be a Welcome with a speech from the mayor of Tacoma and a Reading and Question and Answer Period by David Guterson. Some of the events are really open to the public, so I hope to attend the Guterson reading.

When I first heard of Snow Falling on Cedars, I intended to read it. It is in a list of Books Read in 2003, after I had intended to read it for years. I have noted down that I read it with a small amount of skimming. I remember that I was happy to read the setting descriptions and thought of the book Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin. In a page from that time I wrote: On May 20th i was returning a book in the evening to save 20 cents & came upon a meeting for the environment - I began to see the necessity of response to the idea of Description of Setting, and Setting...I feel response is important. Each individual can make a difference, and how we get about, how we choose the products we use has an effect on what happens.

The Setting seemed then to me to be the focus of the book. The nature descriptions of the San Juan Islands worked for me -

Later I suggested the book as a possibility for Tacoma Reads Together. One reason I suggested it is because the fishing community in the San Juan Islands is described by David Guterson as being a Scandinavian Enclave. That worked for me, too.

political correctness

After World War Two a shorter term for Japanese Americans, like Swede (like the language of my grandparents) or Slav - was so baggaged with derogatory usage that it no longer was the same. There are so many cultural considerations to be made - in my family my mother's piano playing was consistent expression and we visited my grandmother's home twice a week. Among the few stories my mother told, about the only story about the Japanese Americans was that her brothers were told to play where they could watch the road so they could run up the hill and tell her the Japanese vegetable man was coming with his wagon. My mother would show us the silk handkerchiefs my grandmother got from the Japanese vegetable man.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This poem refers to a street in the neighborhood listed as Japantown at the site, Tacoma Then and Now. It was published in a small magazine called Odysseus in August, 1971.


There are fighting cocks
with feathers red as blood
in another country.

In fall the poppies bloom
by the wire fences, whispering
"Death, death," into the countryside.

They kill another dragon.
His bones burn out like bridges,
fierce and tall and unamazed.

The men drive rats into the streets;
their death slips out like sweat
from hours of shooting.

Then the rain comes thick as cloth
falling through the blood
as an answering river.

Streets end in every city.
Cars drive past the empty houses,
carrying the old and the infirm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Orange Rye

At Oktoberfest the Scandinavian Days Festival sign was placed close to a very large horse made of ivy, two floors above a basement exhibit of tiny Hans Christian Anderson pieces in Coperhagen resides enormous horse statues - one could sit near this topiary and think on them. At church Sunday I put out slices of Swedish Rye Bread with orange I brought back - our Orange Rye Bread was a kind of wonder bread that tasted wonderful and that I have never been able to find again. It was long ago.