What Should I Leave on Jimi Hendrix’s Grave?

We went to Jimi Hendrix’s grave in the pouring rain, en route to the Seattle airport. I had been plagued by the problem of what to leave. My first thought, of course, being a baby boomer, was a bra. I don’t know where this comes from, but underwear seems the appropriate gift to the revered dead. However, in the cold light of day this didn’t seem like such a great idea. And good thing too, because there is a sign at the grave asking visitors to keep it tidy and free of trash!
Nicely done winter floral arrangements decorated the memorial in an organized fashion. Someone HAD left some beer cans, though–neatly woven in with a bouquet of berries. I whipped out my gift–a card of the Queen of Hearts I’d acquired on a Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas.
It expressed what I wanted to.
A bunch of kids came by, snapped pics on their cell phones, stood a moment reverentially, and zipped off.
We left too, off into a different life.

(Photo of me and Rich by Miriam Bobkoff).

Victoria BC

There is little I like more than a ferry. And on the one from Port Angeles to Victoria, British Columbia the experience was enhanced by mist, snowy mountains, and the feeling of crossing from one country into another. Plus the perfect book–a Regency romance by Georgette Heyer–Frederica–with one elegant twist after another. And a bad cup of coffee. Perfect.
We didn’t make it to the famous gardens in Victoria, but were satisfied by the X-mas lights right on the harbor. Parliament looked made for the display.
The Empress Hotel is beyond classic–as iconic as Victoria herself. I always think of the great painter Emily Carr who lived in Victoria and liked the conservatory in the hotel–now madly decked out for X-mas.
An early modernist, and independent woman in the Georgia O’K mold, she painted the decaying totem poles in remote abandoned villages in a kind of cubism in the mist fashion.

Flotsam and Jetsam from Japanese Tsunami

I Found One by Miriam Bobkoff

Tsunami debris? Tsunami debris. Here. Now.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the flotsam guy, was here in Port Angeles earlier in the month. He and James Ingraham gave a presentation at the college about the science of flotsam, their computer model, and the likelihoods— including that the earliest arriving tsunami debris, driven by wind as well as the known movements of water in the North Pacific Gyre, could show up at the 8-month point, like now, rather than at the two-year point as NOAA’s water-driven models predict. They showed a lot of debris collected east of Neah Bay, including a big float that they were persuaded is surely from the tsunami coast. I was ambling along at Rialto Beach. We crossed Ellen Creek, and there far back in the drift was, yes, a buoy, looking just like the one found at Neah Bay that they had on the stage at the presentation. But English markings.

I emailed Dr. Ebbesmeyer. English markings, said I, so I assume not tsunami debris. Oh yes, he said, the same as the others and tentatively identified by Japanese officials. Eeeep, said I. Who manufactured it, what do the markings tell us, [doesn’t seem very confirmed to me, I really meant], said I. Still doing research, said he.
But really it seems most likely. Why else are these things suddenly up and down the west coast here, exactly as predicted by the computer models for high-floating objects, unless truly they were carried away from the tsunami coast in the spring and now they are here? As will eventually be boats and houses and all the rest of what is now still out in the ocean… Dr. Ebbesmeyer says people in Japan hide mementos in their house walls, and we will need to be cautiously and even reverently attentive to the debris as it arrives, to preserve what traces we find for their families’ sake. Oh my.

For complete story, see http://oceaninview.blogspot.com

Trolls, Totem Poles, and The Real

Enjoyed a stroll at Peninsula Community College–and why not, accustomed as I am to appreciating a nice campus. This one very different than SFCC, although of course with a similar mission. There is a longhouse on campus, with art gallery and space for cultural meeting and dances…not to mention wi-fi if students need it.

I’ve developed a fascination with casino architecture, born of the Las Vegas trips of several years to visit family for Thanksgiving, which turned into a general liking for the place. Not to mention the Indian casinos of northern New Mexico.

Jamestown S’Kallam has a successful casino adorned with vibrant beautifully carved totem poles that nonetheless manage to look more like a Vegas idea of one than the traditional thing. Designed and partially carved by Dale Faulstich, a non-Native carver, these poles have a bit of cultural crisscross in them I can’t completely unravel. But they are very handsome public art.

On the level of cultural crisscross, there is an extensive troll folly outside of Sequim which ports a complex array of Scandinavia style dragons and trolls.

Basically just out and about in a bit of rural neighborhood-but we left before darkness fell (and went in search of bookstores in Port Townsend) on the off chance that they come to life.

Glimmering Gone

I could go on and on about our visit to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. I’ve become increasingly obsessed with glass, and Tacoma is an epicenter–home of Chihuly. There is a bridge of glass objects across the highway, and a train station turned courthouse hung with Chihuly installations that pretty much defy my descriptive powers–think living coral reef hung in midair in a neoclassical dome.
But I did want to show you GLIMMERING GONE: Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman, a clear glass collaboration between two women.

Remember in the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses?” How they go down a trap door to three underworld woods–silver, gold, and finally crystal? I think I found that third magical forest.

Parenthetically Speaking: Museum of Glass

The Museum of Glass in Tacoma was an incredibly inspiring experience. Outstanding among the exhibits, particularly for a writer:

Parenthetically Speaking: It’s Only a Figure of Speech is a new collection of work by San Francisco-based artist Mildred Howard comprising more than 40 glass punctuation marks, proofreading symbols and musical notes.  Howard’s inspiration for the work came from At the End, a poem by her friend and Peabody Award-winner Quincy Troupe.  Both the poem and the exhibition reference punctuation as a metaphor for the passage of time.  “Life is a series of questions,” comments Howard.  “As soon as you answer one, you’re on to the next.”


at the end
of every sentence
a period
occupying space
as molecular energy

a point to make
another point

Quincy Troupe

Another Roadside Attraction

At the edge of Seattle, in a little park with a ubiquitous climbing structure and a sweet community garden, a crazed piece of outsider art has come to rest. The boots are actually a BUILDING, with a door (but I don’t think anyone is living inside).
All I could think of was—boy, this street is going to shake when the giant comes back for his hat!

Still Some Spaces in Julia Goldberg’s Intermediate Fiction Class at Santa Fe Community College

Q and A

Hi Julia–I see there are spaces left in your intermediate fiction class at SFCC. I want to ask you a bit about the class.

Is there a particular focus in the class–plot, editing, etc.?

Julia: The class actually touches most of the bases when it comes to the craft of fiction. We work specifically on point of view, sense of place, character, dialogue, plot—the works. With that said, plot tends to be a major focus, as does the editing process. While there is certainly a fair amount of “free writing” in this class, it is geared toward writers who want more tools for the revision process, so that is a major focus.

What should a student expect in the class?

The class really emphasizes the craft side of writing fiction. We use Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction book, which takes a hard look at all the technical elements of fiction—from point of view to verb tenses—and provides what I think is an excellent survey of other writers’ views and experiences about these elements. The class has a free write almost every time we meet, and those are geared at practicing some of the techniques that we look at in the weekly readings. And then a major focus of the class is the workshop process. This is a chance for the writers to gather feedback and edits from their classmates and, of course, from me.
What is your favorite thing about teaching the class?

I really enjoy hearing the results of the free-writes—I’m always amazed at where they lead, and I love seeing solid revisions come out of these workshops. Many of the students who have been in this class in prior years now publish regularly and read in public regularly, and it’s exciting to see that fairly fast trajectory from classroom to active writing life.

What kind of reading?

The Burroway book also functions as a great anthology of short fiction, and we do a fair amount of reading and discussing these stories. I can never resist Ron Carlson’s “Keith,” which is both a great read and an excellent story to look at for craft. And then there’s Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welta, Stuart Dybek…this semester, I’m hoping to work in a story by Ann Beattie, since she’s in the Lannan line-up this spring, and also one of my favorites. Every other year I seem unable to resist including Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants. This might be an on year for that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Although some people come to the class with manuscripts ready to workshop, this also is a class in which participants can develop material out of the in-class assignments if they are in the mood to start from scratch. We don’t read novels in the class, but students who are working on a novel certainly can workshop portions of it. Each student will workshop three pieces of writing of 8-10 pages (no more than 15) and submit one revision of each.
To register: 428-1000
If you need the pre-requisite overridden, contact Miriam Sagan after January 1 at miriam.sagan@sfcc.edu