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Archive for July, 2007

Breakfast At Beto’s, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
Breakfast at Beto’s, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2007
by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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By Annelise

It was a good day for this writer. I spent time this afternoon talking to a college classmate. I’m the secretary of the class, and write the classnotes in the alumni magazine. I didn’t know this woman when we were in school together, but she welcomed my call.

“What have you been up to since graduation?” I asked.

Timing is everything. On July 9th, she’d received the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit – one of the highest honors given to non-citizens by the German government. The award, generally given to diplomats and government officials, was awarded to her for the contribution to international goodwill accomplished by hosting 22 exchange students! Fifteen of the young men had initiated the nomination, given by the president of Germany. (It could only be given to one person, though her husband was equally praised.)

“On our 25th anniversary, my husband and I had a starter house, no children and a dog,” she tells me. “We decided to take in a foreign student.” She taught fourth grade, but neither she nor her husband knew a thing about teenagers. They now have 22 “sons” who have become family.

“Number 15 is coming back this summer to be married to his high-school sweetheart,” she says proudly. “He’s asked me to do a reading. Maybe I’ll wear the Cross,” she laughs.

Based on her “learn as you go” record, my classmate ran for mayor of her town (no previous political experience) after she retired from teaching. Now in her ninth year, she’s a great success. The town of 7500 is thriving, with shops and restaurants, an art gallery – and a movie theater that offers two shows a day for $2.50. Restoration of the town’s historic façade and streetscape is about to begin.

I haven’t always been so enthusiastic about my college or my class. I didn’t attend the reunions for a number of years. I did, however, check out the classnotes when the alumni magazine arrived. I was often annoyed by the lack of substance in the reports. “I’m the president of my trade association.” “I’m enjoying golf and my grandchildren.” “I’m tracing my ancestry.”

What happened to the teachers and social workers and ministers who graduated with me? We were politically motivated by the Civil Rights movement and John F. Kennedy. We were among the first to join the Peace Corps. What are my classmates thinking, I wondered. Where are the stories?

Classnotes detail, photo by Annelise, July 21, 2007I went to a reunion ten years ago and declared that it was mandatory that the class secretary correspond via e-mail to maximize contact with classmates and expand the subject matter via more personal contact. I got elected. I started calling and interviewing people. I also sent out questions for discussion to people on my growing list of e-mail addresses — questions like: “Is your political affiliation the same or different from your parents? Why?” “What do you make of Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth?” “Do you participate in ‘lifelong learning’?”

What do people who were in the same place as I once was think and do now? Lots, I think as I write the stories.



About Annelise:  Annelise is a writer who lives with her husband in a converted downtown Chicago storefront/building that used to be site of a legendary bar in the area. Her daughter, son-in-law, and their children live adjacent in a separate yet connected space.


Annelise says this about writing:  I have never had any professional training in writing. My writing career just evolved. After organizing an ethnic cooking school, I wrote articles on the subject. That led to being a magazine food editor. I did a stint in PR, then spent 15 years writing health and nutrition materials for the general public and co-authored three books. Most recently, I have been “writer-in-residence” for a small company that does sensory-based food product development. I write articles, presentations, and promotional materials, plus I run the website. I also participate in what our company calls “innovation sessions,” where we do exactly that — brainstorm, generate ideas, innovate. Using those sessions as a launching point, I create concepts to move the company forward. You might say that I’m more creative now, in this phase of my life, than I’ve ever been before.

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Near the end of the evening, I felt like posting something. I looked at my book case and grabbed Kerouac’s On the Road. I’ve been wanting to read it for years. But there it sits, untouched. Occasionally, I pick the book up and roll the soft cover over in my hands, take my time running through the bio; I never read the book.

Tonight started out the same. I ran across a quote I liked and was going to post. But then something strange happened. I opened the book to a place near the end, the beginning of Part 4, and started to read.

He’s got my attention. I’m listening. And I think I might just finish the book.


“That’s only Ed Dunkle. He came back from Galatea, they’re gone to Denver now. They spent a day taking pictures.”

Ed Dunkle, his compassion unnoticed like the compassion of saints. Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance. “Good-by, good-by.” Dean walked off in the long red dusk. Locomotives smoked and reeled above him. His shadow followed him, it aped his walk and thoughts and very being. He turned and waved coyly, bashfully. He gave me the boomer’s highball, he jumped up and down, he yelled something I didn’t catch. He ran around in a circle. All the time he came closer to the concrete corner of the railroad overpass. He made one last signal. I waved back. Suddenly he bent to his life and walked quickly out of sight. I gaped into the bleakness of my own days. I had an awful long way to go too.


2
The following midnight, singing this little song,

Home in Missoula,
Home in Truckee,
Home in Opelousas,
Ain’t no home for me.
Home in old Medora,
Home in Wounded Knee,
Home in Ogallala,
Home I’ll never be,


I took the Washington bus; wasted some time there wandering around; went out of my way to see the Blue Ridge, heard the bird of Shenandoah and visited Stonewall Jackson’s grave; at dusk stood expectorating in the Kanawha River and walked the hillbilly night of Charleston, West Virginia; at midnight Ashland, Kentucky, and a lonely girl under the marquee of a closed-up show. The dark and mysterious Ohio, and Cincinnati at dawn. Then Indiana fields again, and St. Louis as ever in its great valley clouds of afternoon. The muddy cobbles and the Montana logs, the broken steamboats, the ancient signs, the grass and the ropes by the river. The endless poem. By night Missouri, Kansas fields, Kansas night-cows in the secret wides, crackerbox towns with a sea for the end of every street; dawn in Abilene. East Kansas grasses become West Kansas rangelands that climb up to the hill of the Western night.

        -excerpt from On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Part Four, end of 1, beginning of 2, p. 254-255, Penguin Books

In my old age, I intend to collect all my work and reinsert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy.   

     – Jack Kerouac

Submissive to everything, open, listening.   

  – Jack Kerouac, from Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

-related to post, Kerouac Goes To War

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

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Mercedes Trees, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 20, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mercedes Trees, near Lake Calhoun, South Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 20, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A few days ago, we did a post on Everyday Art. A lot’s happened since then. I added the tag to my Flickr account and ybonesy set up a Flickr account with her drawings and photographs. She was going to add a Flickr group called Everyday Art but, alas, someone beat her to it. So we both joined AgentOdd’s group Everyday Art as the 3rd and 4th members.

This is my first post in our Everyday Art category on red Ravine. There is so much going on around us in the everyday world at our feet. You don’t have to go far from home. Just be open to another way of seeing.

There’s a book called Ways of Seeing by John Berger. If you haven’t read it, it’s thin, short, sweet, and chock full of insight into the way we look at our world. The visual has a big impact. Writing is a visual medium, just like art.

If you want to see more of our images, photographs, and art, click on our Flickr accounts under QuoinMonkey and ybonesy. And check out our Flickr Contacts. There is a whole community of artists, photographers, graphic designers, and endless creatives from every country on the planet. Whole worlds open up.

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

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What have we done with them? Stuck them in closets? The backyard? Where, oh, where are red Ravine guest writers and artists?

Well, we keep a sidebar widget — Guest Writers & Featured Artists — that has guests from the past three months. Guests whose posts are older than three months are rotated off the widget. You can still locate their pieces, however, by clicking on either the Guestwriter or Guestartist link under the Contributors sidebar widget. It’s a bit confusing, yes, but given the limitations of our WordPress template, it’s at least workable.

So, our April guests are now located within the Contributors widget, and come August 1, our May guests will be there, too. Stop in and say hello once in a while. Otherwise it gets lonely in there.

And, just to remind you how brilliant, exciting, and provocative our guests are, here are links to our April sojourners:

Also, while we’re on the topic of Guest Writers & Featured Artists, red Ravine will soon be coming out with new submission guidelines so we can continue to solicit and publish writing and art from friends and strangers alike — kindred spirits of all stripes. Watch for those guidelines in the coming weeks. And if you just can’t wait until then, drop us a line at info@redravine.com anytime to find out how you can become a guest on red Ravine.

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So Ugly It’s Beautiful, mask detail, photo by ybonesy, July 19, 2007Ever notice how artists and designers surround themselves with beautiful things? Not necessarily fine arts, but beautiful everyday things. Found objects or practical objects with a flair. Out-of-the-ordinary salt and pepper shakers, plain-yet-colorful plates, vintage scarves, oddly shaped rocks, pieces of gnarly wood. Do you save great-looking postcards just because they’re great looking? Or buy cheap-but-handsome trinkets and souvenirs? If so, you probably have an artist’s eye — that certain aesthetic sense.

Zigs and Zags, Mexican rug detail, photo by ybonesy, July 19, 2007To celebrate The Beauty of the Little Things, we have a new category on red Ravine called Everyday Art. We’ll upload photos of the objects in our lives that are striking, unusual, luminous. To remind us that you don’t have to have a lot of money or hold a big job with a fancy design firm to enjoy beauty in your every day.

Update: Last night QM and I stumbled across a new group on flickr called Everyday Art. Click here to check it out. Synchronicity…

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By Shira


The Discovery of Poetry
dedicated to Joan Logghe (but only my own responsibility)

You who are not imagination impaired
Imagine a life without poetry
A tea party set with sweet dainty biscuits, delicate cups of tea and no guests
A single bed in a grey-walled boarding house

Imagine a world without music or song
Monotone monologues, precise words with logical meanings
Meanings exactly as they sound.
No more

Imagine logic and testtubes for wall decorations
Dark plaid skirts on a little girl because they don’t show dirt

Imagine no home for longing and no place for love
A brown paper bag hiding death and anger
Matching table cloths, napkins, dinner plates and cups

You who love poetry
Don’t need a telephone or master
Friendship, wisdom and laughter
lie as close as your pocket
and your shelf.




She Loved Rosebushes and Fruit Trees
(a pantoum)

Four rosebushes line the path
The lemon tree she planted
Straight stairs up to the doorway
At 90 she still climbs

The lemon tree she planted
The house with ripe plums and apricots
At 90 she still climbs
Freeway’s steel stole her cherished home

The house with ripe plums and apricots
The California Dream
Freeway’s steel stole her cherished home
Far from the Old Country

The California Dream
Home of young Jewish men for her daughter to marry
Far from the Old Country
My mother slept above the dressing room

Home of young Jewish men for her daughter to marry
The retail shop in Ocean Park
My mother slept above the dressing room
No quiet place to study

The retail shop in Ocean Park
Worth the ocean crossing
No quiet place to study
Always reading books

Worth the ocean crossing
Wishes for a better life
Always reading books
A one bedroom apartment

Wishes for a better life
Some granted, some not
A one bedroom apartment
As frugal as my grandpa

Some granted, some not
Straight stairs up to the doorway
As frugal as my grandpa
Four rosebushes line the path



About Shira:  Shira lives in New Mexico and wrote these poems, her first, at Ghost Ranch in a poetry workshop taught by poet Joan Logghe. 


Of the workshop, Shira said:  The workshop was as much about appreciating poetry as it was writing poetry. Our teacher mostly referred to the teachings of Robert Bly and Natalie Goldberg. Joan read to us poems by many poets that deeply inspired her, both structured and unstructured forms. Each time we wrote, we would first do a brief meditation then write in ten to fifteen minute writing blocks. Then we read out loud. The students ranged from very experienced poets with Masters degrees to those who’d never written a word in our lives. I was inspired by the group and our teacher. I also appreciated the kind of feedback we did, which was “Recall,” where listeners repeated back certain lines that resonated. It was a way of saying that something was good without actually inserting judgment into the process.

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