Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to Back Movies

As the credits for Sherlock Holmes were running after the Saturday matinee, someone walked up the steps and opened the backdoor to the outside. My approach to a nostalgia about legends that people snuck friends in through the backdoor vanished as I saw at six o'clock it was still daylight. I have wondered where some studies are, and am going to an appropriate movie today, MisRepresentation, about stereotypes about how women look. This makes back to back movies. Since one or two little snowflakes were sifting down, I could go out of the show to see it snowing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Books At Twelve Ten - Snapshots of University Village, once a Japanese Produce Farm

When three from the Books At Twelve Ten group met to discuss Snow Falling On Cedars last Tuesday, February 14th, we brought in separate texts. One had some basic questions, multiple choice. One emailed questions, for example: separate out individual story lines to explore how the novel might have worked with that story alone. Hatsue and Ishmael would have been Romeo and Juliet. I brought in In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story, about the editor of the Bainbridge Island newspaper that was the model for the island newspaper in the novel. It has an introduction by David Guterson. In another book, Sustainable Seattle, I found a reference to the presence before 1950 of a Japanese produce farm beneath what is now University Village, which is below the viaduct near the University campus on 45th. (Photos at U Village.)

"He's good at math." Two boys in Jumpstart, a cartoon, discussed this statement and whether it was stereotyping. They decided it was not. The question would have arisen, though, not from race but from No Child Left Behind. All children must complete the math skills the child has attained to graduate from high school. To suggest that the skills belong to an individual suggest that there is a group that has these skills, while others cannot attain them. From notes from a speech a few years back by Robert Moses at a Race and Pedagogy Conference, I pull up a point that it is a stereotype threat to believe that a student's ability is matched by the student's SAT.

One minor point I brought up was that the defendant did not really want to be a fisherman, but really wanted to be a strawberry farmer. Sometimes we assume that our wish reflects our ability. But he is still characterized as being a good fisherman. I think a topic Guteerson treats is that the internment was brought against people who were capable and skilled practical responsible neighbors. Our questions tell us Guterson raises questions for discussion without solving the questions completely.

We also discussed the evidence Ishmael found at the lighthouse. This is treated differently in the novel than it is in the movie. For me this evidence was a part of the novel that made me appreciate the novel more than the movie version. We had an interesting discussion. Sunday the newspaper featured an article about the Pierce County Reads book choice, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, which is also on the topic of Japanese in the Puget Sound area in World War Two.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snapshot February

A snapshot from a walk on Wednesday. This is where I see redwing blackbirds. They were not there the other day but they were on my mind. There were a few very small birds flying from branch to branch in the trees.

Friday, February 10, 2012


CORSAGE - to the Order of Runeberg

The freezer holds only a few things.

Fewer as it makes its ermine muff of frost,

as it becomes time, and overtime, to defrost.

The shelves hold a few things. At the back

on the lowest slab with the margarine,

my withered corsage, red carnation:

I dressed in black, and went on the bus

to a motor hotel downtown, where were gathered

members of the Order of Runeberg. We may never

reveal their secrets; but we learned none

as we settled the kitchen of the Valhalla Temple,

spread tables with paper from a heavy roll,

laid the cups together, a field of rocks on the counter,

layered the sandwiches on thick platters.

Or if someone forgot, we were asked to button up

and run down the block for Half & Half.

As we walked past the locked dance hall

we peered through the cracks into the big dark there,

then down the stairs to the street, past the tavern,

the closed shops, empty window of a bakery,

to the Food King, holding the money

in a pocket in a warm shut fist.

Later an older woman you could trust

released the fragrance from the can of coffee,

it rose to the high ceiling, she

spilled some into cheesecloth, twisted the ends

and lowered the white into the speckled boiling pot.

Not long after that, the meeting would end.

At the motor hotel, on a rolling board

were pictures of the Order of Runeberg. I found

myself there, a small blonde, her face

turning inward, her hand on her mouth.

And the house I lived in,

my grandma on the porch long before I was born -

her guitar, her white blouse. The occasion

was the forming of the chapter of the Order of Runeberg.

That night I talked. To my sister, to my mother.

Fingered the fringe of her flowered shawl.

My carnation, a twenty-five-year carnation

was red. That night I did not dance.

The corsage stares now at the white

or the black, when I open the door or shut it.

And when I defrost into daylight it comes.

What comes to it then is a matter of chance.

But I wish I had a nickel

for every time I've climbed these stairs.

My mother with her satchel, the financial

secretary climbing the stairs to the Valhalla Temple.

Comments Sent to Tacoma Planning about The MLK Subarea Plan

Part One: My Concerns About Ecology and About Historic Preservation in the MLK Subarea

Part Two: About Valhalla

Part Three: About Two Poems I Published That Include The Valhalla Hall)

Part One: My Concerns About Ecology and About Historic Preservation in the MLK Subarea

I use public transportation, walk, or since 1990, ride a bicycle. I have never owned a car. I am never-married and have no children.

I have done volunteer work since Autumn 2009 at the Scandinavian Immigrant Experience Archives at Pacific Lutheran University. Some records of the Valhalla and the Order of Runeberg are at Pacific Lutheran University, where the Scandinavian Immigrant Archives is developing an internet database, some are at the University of Washington Seattle, and some are at the Swedish-Finnish Historical Society at the Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle, which also has an internet database.

My own background includes The historic Valhalla Hall and First Lutheran Church. I am aware that a worthwhile project by Allen Renaissance is progressing at the historic Valhalla Hall. Allen Renaissance plans to refit the building interior to provide a very safe environment for older students from Tacoma Public Schools for continuing to act on creative projects outside of classes.

I have a B.A. in English Writing from the University of Washington Seattle, 1972, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, 1974. I published three full-length books in 1977, 1982, and 1985. I have had grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. I write a blog, where I have linked some short prose work that has appeared on the internet in recent years.

About Valhalla

The Swedish Order of Valhalla originated in what is now Downtown Tacoma at an immigrant hostel called the Svea Hotel and Liquor Company in 1884. My Great-grandfather arrived in Tacoma in 1887. He was a member of Valhalla and later a member of the Order of Runeberg, a group of immigrants from Swedish-speaking Finland devoted to choral music. This choir originated at his home in 1913.

After meeting in various places, in 1905 Valhalla built its own hall on what is now King Boulevard.

In 1924, when the second site of First Lutheran Church burned to the ground in an electrical fire during a terrible autumn storm, First Lutheran's activities - Sunday School, morning services, and Confirmation classes, my mother a member - were held at Valhalla. I reflect that there was no conflict regarding alcohol because of Washington State Prohibition, which had begun in 1916. The third permanent site of First Lutheran Church was at 6th and I, the Church's present location.

My mother was a very special member of the lodge because for years she was the accompanist and the choir director. She later became their financial secretary.

My mother worked and performed as a talented piano player for fifteen years before she married.

The Order of Runeberg met in the second floor meeting room at the Valhalla Hall until 1969, when they changed to the Wild West Post, which was more accessible. According to a family story, shortly after I was born in 1948 my father went to the Valhalla Hall meeting room and announced my birth during a meeting. My own memories of the Valhalla Hall include helping with the kitchen committee during the Columbus Day storm in 1962, when I witnessed a window shattering across the street and falling in glittering pieces down to the sidewalk.

About Two Poems I Published That Include The Valhalla Hall

In Shelter, 1985, from Dagon Gate of Seattle and Port Townsend, I published "The Gord Family Orchestra", a poem about my mother's Scandinavian Dance Band, which performed at The Valhalla Hall. Later in the 1980s I published "Corsage", a poem about the Order of Runeberg, which met at Valhalla, in Ploughshares Magazine. This poem later appeared on the internet.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ten Years Ago, My First Digital Photos, a Floppydisc

Ten years ago last month I biked to Longs Drugs on Sixth Avenue, which is now a Goodwill, to pick up snapshots. My recollection of this is that I was given a different experience. I think they gave me a free Floppy Disc of photos. I did not know they could do this. My roll happened to contain photos where I lived and seven snapshots of the demolition of my junior high school taken early in December 2011.

Then I lived in an apartment on the first floor of a house that appears on the page with Stadium Bowl in Above Seattle. At that time I had checked out Above Seattle and I remember showing the photograph of Stadium Bowl and the house to other residents.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Occupy Movement

My opinion is that the Occupy Movement should be given time to continue the strong efforts they are making to develop their themes and to express the concerns of those who are poor in the United States.

The Story of GInni and Three On A Pilgrimage Quest: Part Five

Yesterday's segment of Ginni and Three On A Pilgrimage Quest found Porter, Rudyard, and Sylvia making their way back to the North Pole.
In the roles of Porter, Rudyard, and Sylvia were three holiday elves.

In the roles of Ginni and Shadow were a collector's doll and a made-of-wire, made-in-Japan vintage toy dog from the 1950s.

Many thanks to all.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Story of Ginni and Three On A Pilgrimage Quest: Part Four

PART FOUR - On Their Way

Today we continue The Story of Ginni and Three On A Pilgrimage Quest: In Part Three, Ginni, Andrew the Doll Museum Storage Manager, Porter, Rudyard, and Sylvia have emailed the CEO of the Doll Museum.

Part Four: Three On Their Way

The email from the Doll Museum CEO arrived. Ginni and Shadow went with the Pilgrimage Quest Members. They helped pull the sled toward the hill near the Doll Museum.

As they went across the doll museum driveway, a truck drove to the street curb and stopped. Two drivers unloaded the large package with the pet bed and asked Ginni to sign for it.

As the truck was driven away. Ginni noticed another package left just beside the driveway. "Oh! The delivery people have left this other package accidentally."

"Ginni," said Rudyard, "I believe that will be our magical red robe." Rudyard opened the package and unfurled a beautiful red cloth with mysterious patterns in gold.

"Goodbye, Ginni, said Sylvia. Your email to the Doll Museum CEO made all the differrence. Thanks."

Porter, Rudyard, and Sylvia got onto the sled, and they wrapped the magical red robe around the three of them. And the sled began to rise into the air. Higher and higher rose the sled - into the air above Ginni and Shadow.

"Goodbye, Ginni and Shadow, Goodbye!" The Three On The Pilgrimage Quest flew away happily. Sylvia was most happy that they would soon be back at the North Pole. Rudyard was most happy that their committe work had been a success. Porter was happy that they had actually found the sled, their search had been so long.

Tomorrow: Many Thanks To All

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Story of Ginni and Three On A Pilgrimage Quest, Part Three: Another Calendar

PART THREE - Another Calendar ////

It was the day after Ginni's encounter with the Three on a Pilgrimage Quest, a Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday were Ginni's days off at the Doll Museum. Ginni was off work and outside awaiting the truck from the pet supplies company that would bring Shadow's new bed. ///////////The manager of the doll museum storage department, Andrew, walked around the corner of the museum building from the storage area. With him were Porter, Rudyard, and Sylvia.


"Our quest is achieved!" Rudyard was saying with enthusiasm. "It is the sled! Yes! Yes!" And Porter asked, "Can we have the sled?"


And Sylvia explained: "You see, this is Santa's sled. Santa. Santa became mis-adjusted onto, I believe, the Mayan calendar just at the end of his route in December. Calculating that he would not use it anymore, he left the sled where someone else might find it and put it to use. When our schedulers found the mis-adjustment and re-adjusted, we were assigned to the committee of search. Porter, Rudyard, and I have been on the road for weeks. Ginni, may we have the sled, please?"


Ginni, Andrew, and the Three went back into the storage area to show Ginni where the sled was kept now, among recent Doll Museum Acquisitions. Ginni explained that the sled belonged to the doll museum now.

"But to get the sled back we have to ask, in writing," Sylvia was definite about this. "We cannot just take the sled. And we have to include a long paragraph about how we have been good all year. We have to do what is custormary, you see. No, we cannot just take the sled."

"Perhaps we can email the request to the Doll Museum CEO, suggested Ginni to Andrew. And then we might have a quick answer."