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September 2000

We hope to see you at our next celebration

Sunday September 10
4-9 PM
Bruce Taylor’s remodeled condo (Kafka’s Kastle)

Art Sharing: Sunday August 13, 2000, Pippin Sardo's condo

Pippin Sardo gave us a tour to her small flower and herb garden. Roberta Gregory passed around her Naughty Bits Issue # 32 which included the historical story of Mary Walker (a lady doctor in the Civil War who is the only woman to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor), and read a story from the author Saki. Frank Abraham shared his experience coming to the United States as a refugee from Communist Hungary and told about the series of “alien world” novels that he is working on. Liz Lanman read her haiku and shared her drawings (which illustrate this newsletter). Bruce Taylor read the editorial in this newsletter and from his novel Humpfrey Bogart Blues. Bob Olson read his essay How Do You Explain Watergate? Seiko Olson played Japanese folk songs on the harmonica. Peter Wagener set up the grill, barbequed and provided on-going support to the hostess. Carl and Lida Sloan helped make up an appreciative audience.

Other Stuff:

This FOKUS meeting at Bruce Taylor’s is September 10th. Yes, yes I know it’s “supposed” to be the first Sunday of the month, but due to Bruce being out of town, Seafair, and holidays, for a while it’s been the second Sunday. Hopefully we’ll get back to the first Sunday ASAP.

Bruce Taylor will be teaching a course in “How to Critique Writing” starting the first Monday in October at Shoreline Community College. His course on “Writing the Novel” will be offered again at North Seattle Community College, starting in September. Call him for details.

Bruce is looking for a housemate for Kafka’s Kastle. Know of anyone? $500 bucks a month gets you (1) room, small office, your own full bathroom, (2) all utilities except electricity and that’s split 50/50, (3) washer/dryer, (4) central location, close to everything, (5) unlimited access to Purrzac, the intelligent-looking cat (emphasis on looking).
(Editor’s note in defense of kitty Purrzac: of course we human owners never do anything less than intelligent!!??)

Bruce Taylor’s Editorial: Of Art and Wilderness

Elevation: 10,150 feet. Todd and I are sitting in a pool of cool water fed by Deep Lake, which sits in a glacial cirque you get to by clambering up over long, easily slopping, low granite steps not far from where we sit. The granite steps are maybe a quarter of a mile wide and sometimes a foot or so high, the lake a quarter mile beyond. Behind Deep Lake rises Haystack, East Temple, Temple and Mount Schiestler – all above 13,000 feet. From our position, we can also look in the opposite direction: right into The Cirque of Towers, a huge glacial cirque carved out some 10,000 years ago, leaving behind an amphitheater bounded by twelve or so gray granite spires, cones and pyramids with vast rock walls several thousand feet high. We are in the most magnificent, fantastic country I’ve ever seen: The Wind River Range in Wyoming.

We sit in cool water in a shallow pond, warmed by the sun, over the outflow water of Deep Lake which is sliding and slipping over those vast granite slabs. Little fish dart about, leaping at little islands of froth – soapsuds from some careless washing by campers up above. No matter, we are in heaven. The sky is a deep, stunning blue. My pulse is fast from exertion and elevation, and we both feel the joy of abundance and the view of life in that wider sense – by our quest for this adventure. We are led here to experience that which the title of my next book so aptly describes as The Magic of Wild Places. Our quest for adventure has led us to this amazing spectacle.

Art? What does this have to do with Art? Exploration, passion and adventure lead us to Magic Moments when our view of the world is enlarged and we become amazed, humbled at the vastness of “Reality” and perception. Is Art any different? When we are engaged in our creation, in our creative endeavors, is not our own view of ourselves, our creativity also enhanced? Enlarged? It is. And we become awe struck about where creativity leads us by discovering our new talents, rediscovering old interests and by deepening our present talents we become passionate and more grateful as our faith in life and creative Magic is renewed – little difference if it’s writing a song, writing a poem, a story, creating a painting or sitting at 10,150 feet in a cool pool of water, under stunning granite cliffs, with little trout nibbling at our toes.

Haiku: Some Cheerful Words by Liz Lanman

Oh god! I’m tired
Yet another day in hell
This Job really sucks

Oh god! The Anguish!
The torture! The misery!
Unceasing sorrow!

What is it about overstating something?
That makes me feel better?
Although it is fairly accurate.

Essay by Bob Olson: Field Trips

I love field trips. For me they have always been a creative adventure and a trek into the unknown, offering opportunities unlimited. When I was a teenager my class went to the Art Institute in Chicago.

I’d seen the Art Institute before and, together with three of my buddies, decided the big city offered other experiences. By blending in with a class group from another school visiting the museum we were able to ditch our class and teacher, leave the building, and walk a few city blocks to a movie theater. Outside the theater we met a group of teen-age girls who had ditched their mothers while Christmas shopping. Hey, this was great! The girls bought tickets to the movie then went to the exit door and let us in for free. We smooched with them throughout the “whatever it was” show. Then we ran back to join our class. They had left the museum. We ran to the train station and just missed our train. We boarded the next train home, but had no money for tickets. We’d spent what little we had on popcorn and candy for our Chicago girl friends. With crocodile tears I told the conductor that our teacher, in the train we just missed, had our tickets. He was angry, but he let us ride home. Our anxious parents met us at the station, fearful that we had been kidnapped in the “big city”. We told them that we ran to catch the train with our class, but that the train doors closed in our faces. Of course I limped, saying that I had hurt my leg, to explain why we were so slow. Thank God, we were safely home. Everyone was so glad to see us that no further questions were asked.

After I became a school counselor I also remained an old big kid understanding the adventure of mischief in littler kids. I was a favorite chaperon for field trips. Every field trip carries special memories.

I was the new counselor at Nelson Junior High when I accompanied one hundred and fifty eighth graders from all the US History classes to our state capitol in Olympia, WA. The two History teachers, Grant Wood and Paul Thompson, were each in charge of their own group of approximately seventy-five students, and I was there to help them. Dixie Lee Ray was recently elected Governor. She was giving a speech and Paul wanted to hear her. So he left his class and went into the auditorium. Then, the auditorium doors were closed, so he could not leave and we could not enter. Suddenly, I was in charge of 75 kids who did not know me and I did not know them. Some of the smarter kids sympathized with the anxiety they saw in my eyes as I pleaded for help. These kids were great and took over control of the group before Grant Wood realized what had happened. I quickly learned that Grant was a martinet and Paul lacked any control, over himself or his students. Surprisingly, these great kids had self-control and Grant did not need to dictate in his loud, strong voice. We visited with one of our state senators, who understood my dilemma. Senator Peter and I developed a bond that lasted until we both retired.

Sadly, other teachers and counselors sometimes fail to see the value of field trip experience. As I watched the Democratic Party Convention on TV and heard the dynamic words of Jessie Jackson I recollect one great missed opportunity. A number of years ago I was to accompany a select group of our African American students to hear a speech of Jesse’s and meet with him personally. What a wonderful opportunity! On the morning of this field trip I had the flu and was unable to go. It’s sad that no one else in our large school district was able to take these kids to meet Jessie Jackson. The field trip was canceled.

My last field trip experience was most memorable. Andrea James,. a teacher/therapist in our district, taught small classes in four junior high schools made up of the most unmanageable kids in the district. “Can’t we just get along” can be a wonderful subject - under proper supervision. I loved helping Andrea work with ten of these students in our school. Of course these kids were never,.ever.allowed to go on any field trip. One of our goals was to prepare their discipline so that we could take them on a field trip to the museum at Seattle Center. We did. There were forty-five students, Andrea James, the bus driver and myself. The other three junior high schools failed to send any supervisor for their most unmanageable kids. Johnny, one of our students, clung to me like a Siamese twin. He was never out of my sight, and he never let me get him out of my mind. “Mr. Olson, what about. . .?” were his favorite words. “Believe it or not” the trip seemed to go very well. These “terrible “ kids became disciplined. Although over thirty of them had never met me before, they listened to me and behaved. All went very well until we boarded the bus to go home. Ten girls had souvenirs taken from the museum. Where did these come from? Why, Johnny had stolen the trinkets and gave them to the girls. Johnny? Oh, Johnny!

Where was Johnny? He wasn’t under my right foot, or my left. It seemed like just a moment ago he was asking me questions; but where was he now? Johnny wasn’t on the bus. He wasn’t around the bus. Mrs. James collected the souvenirs from the girls and returned them to the museum concession. Then, together with museum guards, searched for Johnny. He could not be found. She came back to the bus. We decided that the bus driver and I would take the rest of the kids back to their schools while Andrea James contacted the Seattle police and searched for Johnny. He was found about 9:00 P.M., in a porno movie theater on First Avenue, and released to Mrs. James who took him home in a taxi. The rest of the kids were perfect ladies and gentlemen when I drove home with them on the school bus. As a consequence, Andrea James’ class was cancelled and this was the first and last field trip for these kids. The school district failed to appreciate the behavior of over forty good kids – all because of Johnny.

I find that field trips are always an adventure.

Last updated:  September 8, 2000