Thursday, January 28, 2010


Some random things on my random mind...

State of the Union
I wish we weren't so divided politically as a nation. I wish we could come to agreement about providing decent health care for our people. I was only able to hear the first part of President Obama's State of the Union address, because I had to get to class. I wish him all the best in his goals for our country. I think they are wonderful goals. Here's a very cool link to a panorama view of the House chamber of the Capitol during his address.

Hopeful Election
On Tuesday, Oregon voters voted to affirm two tax increases enacted by the legislature last spring. Because Oregon has such liberal rules for initiatives to be placed on the ballot, of course there was an election to try to undo the legislature's decision. One of the taxes is an increase in the minimum corporate income tax. It hadn't been changed from the $10.00 minimum since 1930! A little overdue to be updated. The other tax increases the income tax rate on very wealthy households. Even with these taxes, schools and other public services in Oregon took a terrible hit last spring, and if the measures had passed, we would have sustained even deeper cuts this year.

I find myself feeling very hopeful after this election. Oregon voters confirmed these tax increases, even though we have been hard hit by the recession. It would be wonderful if we could even out our state revenues so that we're not facing another budget crisis every couple of years.  I think this is a good first step.

Gertrude Stein
I just finished reading a challenging book, "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" by Gertrude Stein. Except it really isn't an autobiography of Alice, who was Stein's companion, it's a biography of Stein herself. But it's Alice speaking all through the book, because it's her "autobiography." It's weird to read, kind of a first-person story written in third person. Talk about the writer's "double self!"

It's about Stein's (and Alice's) experiences in Paris just before and after World War I. Stein was close friends with Picasso, and they were very much into the art movement in Paris at the time, so there's lots of information about that era. The book wasn't thoroughly engrossing to me, but it was more interesting than I had expected. Mostly I just had to keep reading reading reading reading because I had to have it finished for my class. (That was a Stein-style sentence - she eschews "excess" punctuation. Ha! She wouldn't get a strong grade in my English class! Ha ha! Take that, Gertrude Stein!)

I feel like I'm gaining some muscle strength, and it feels good. It's a slow process, but the general direction seems to be one of gradual improvement. Yay! I love love love love our yoga class on Tuesday nights. Oh my, what a stretch! And then the next morning...oh my, my achy muscles! Achy in a good, getting-stronger way.

Brian Doyle
I had a real live author in my classroom today. One of my very favorites. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful authors here in the Northwest! Brian Doyle, a writer who is also editor of the University of Portland alumni magazine, came to talk with my students today. He is wise and funny and human and kind. A very generous person. He doesn't charge a fee--just a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir wine. Ha! That's always a trick for me--the Mormon English teacher at the high school! I have to twist another teacher's arm to come up with a bottle of the right stuff, and then we have to smuggle it in and out of the school. What a guy. This is the third year in a row he's come to share his writing life with my sweet, naive little darlings. Here's a link to a short essay of his. A good read, and quick.

And speaking of essays connected with Brian Doyle, stay tuned! He has accepted one of my essays for publication! It will be in the summer issue of Portland, the UoP alumni magazine. I'll keep you posted and include a link when it comes out.


Anna said...

No way! Brian Doyle is awesome! I have one of his books and Chris and I went to one of his lectures at BYU. That's so cool about your essay. I love Brian Doyle's stuff. Also, you know who would enjoy his essays too--Trish (Bryan's mom).

Kathy Haynie said...

He has a new novel coming out soon - set on the Oregon coast. I'll post about it when it's out. really do want to move to Portland...

Dorothy said...

What books has he written? Which of his would you recommend for someone reading his stuff for the first time?

Kathy Haynie said...

Well, his most recent book before this one was one about vineyards in Australia, so I haven't been too interested to read that one.

He's written a bunch of essays. The one book that I've read (and loved) is "The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart." He wrote it after one of his sons had heart problems as a baby, and he did so much research because of the surgery. It's beautifully written. I had a copy, but I gave it to Kendra and Chris because of Abbi's heart problems.

Annemarie said...

Hooray for your updates on Brian Doyle, and also for the news of your article to be published. Don't forget your friend Annemarie if you're looking for encouragement on your writing . . . or if you just feel like knowing someone is reading what you've written. I always LOVE reading your

Patricia said...

I just read his essay through your link, Kathy. And Anna's right, I did like his writing. His book sounds interesting. I'll have to read it. Also, congratulations for your essay getting published. That's very exciting.