Monday, January 28, 2008

On Saturday Paul and I attended the Eleventh Annual Evening of American Indian Storytelling and Drumming. It was fantastic! Last year we also attended this event, and I was excited to return to it again.

The Madtown Singers opening with drumming and singing, and also closed the event with a great departure song. There were three storytellers, one from the Ho-Chunk Nation (the native nation indigenous to Madison), one from the Moose Clan (Ojibwa?), and one from New Mexico, I believe from the Navajo Nation. Unfortunately Paul recycled the program, otherwise I would write down their names....they were all wonderful storytellers. The first speaker told one of the Ho-Chunk creation stories, the second a "risque" story she learned from her grandmother and mother about a boy who goes on a journey and destroys different evil types of women, and the third (my favorite) told a beautifully woven, humorous story about coyote learning to fly and the impact of traditions on present life. The storytellers, as well as the Madtown Singers, had me in awe the entire night. I felt honored to listen to their stories. And impressed by their gift of telling native stories in multiple languages in a meaningful way.

I've heard some great storytellers in my life. I was fortunate to spend time with different tribal elders growing up. I first listened to native storytelling as a young girl at a pacific northwest storytelling field trip to washington somewhere. There was smoke, dancing, stories told in a wooden longhouse. I remember going their twice, once in a small group and once in a very large one (with my class?) and being startled by the smoke the came out of the wall at key parts of the was great effect.

What really awed me was hearing Ed Edmo tell stories around a campfire along the Columbia the summer after 5th grade. I participated in Salmon Camp, which was a ten day summer camp for native (or in my case, part-native) kids that traveled from the Warm Springs Reservation in central oregon all the way to the coast to the Siletz Reservation as we studied native culture and learned about the lifecycle of salmon. Ed's daughter Se-ah-dum was one of the councelors. I also heard two elders from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs come and tell our group of 5 stories about Shears Falls as we stood at its base at sunset near the native fishing spots, along with Celilo Falls, the great landmark on the Columbia River which was sadly drowned by the Dalles Dam. We had a traditional salmon bake at Kah-Nee-Ta with native dancing and also storytelling which was one of the highlights of the trip (especially the couples circle dances!).

The next summer I took a trip with a native group up to Seattle where we visited an Suquamish elder (if i remember right?) at her home. I remember her being very old, and her house being very bright on a sunny day. She reiterated more than once on the importance of learning and passing along stories. She told us a few of her favorites and then told us a very short one about a mouse and a house and something about cleaning (?) in the hopes that we would remember it and pass it along. From 5th grad on I've had a pretty bad short-term memory. I do remember trying to repeat this story in my head to myself, but I have sadly forgotten it. But I do remember the elder's face, and her wisdom, and her respect for us as young native kids.

Spending five summers in Alaska working and learning with native alaska youth, as well as one march conference as a delegate with the American Indian Science & Engineering Society also put me into fantastic opportunities to hear alaska native storytelling and dancing in central and southern alaska. What a gift.

Those key storytelling experiences, along with a rich tradition of thursday-night storytelling at outdoor school, have made me realize just how valuable the gift of storytelling is, along with the importance of passing along stories. I am so bad at storytelling, not only because I forget key plot points and details, but also because I am too serious in general and have a limited on-the-spot imagination. I do have a curiosity to listen, but not much of a desire to speak, especially in front of larger audiences. This makes me sad, but I just don't have the gift of storytelling no matter how much I'd like to have it. Maybe it will be something I gain as I grow older? In the meantime, I am very happy to sit back, listen and absorb the fantastic stories that I am able to hear.

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"You must yield where necessary to avoid striking pedestrian who are crossing the road. You must yield to pedestrians when you are entering or exiting a driveway, alley or parking lot."

Wouldn't it seem polite to have guidance suggesting that cars stop when people are in the crosswalk? Wisconsin residents are polite in most aspects of their life, but not when it comes to driving.

The quote above is all I can find about pedestrians in the Wisconsin Motorist's Handbook given out by the DMV. So basically it's legal to drive fast and not slow down for pedestrians in crosswalks (unless you're going to hit them). I guess this explains why I've had people swerve around me as I cross the sidewalk downtown near my work. They're only going 25 mph, there's a large clearly marked crosswalk with lots of people around but they decide to hit the accelerator and change lanes instead of politely stopping.

I've seen someone almost killed trying to cross the street at University avenue. Instead of a car slowing down, they laid on their horn and came within inches of the person. I've also seen an old lady run for her life across the street as cars approached. I wish there was something I could do about this.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

5ish? inches of snow on the ground and still more coming down at a moderate pace. A really pretty snowy day. I just tried to go to a party, drove about a mile and a half, and then turned around and came back home. I'm still not used to winter snow/ice driving, when the car slides all over the rode and into another lane just trying to stop at 10 mph I get a bit nervous. I wish we had snow tires, but people in the midwest have never heard of snow tired or chains, and would probably laugh if we had them. I could have made it to the party, but the whole time I'd be there I would just be thinking about the miserable drive home slipping and sliding I ditched. So much for a social life.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

today i slept in. i wanted to go to church but two cars blocked me in and i didn't feel right waking people up to move their car, so i snuggled and stayed in the warm bed. i need to add frequenting church to my new years resolutions.

i convinced paul to go on a snowy walk with me. it was about 4 miles. it was a productive walk because we went to trader joes and used one of our christmas gift cards to buy some stuff (ruthie: we found the pre-cooked beets). it felt good to walk through the new snow and be active, plus we got to talk as we walked through some pretty neighborhoods. there was only one snafu. because we brought backpacks, we both transferred our wallets into them but forgot to grab keys. so we were locked out once we returned back home. we ended up waiting an hour until jason came back. luckily it was just around freezing, and slightly sunny with little wind. if it had been colder i would have been miserable....and probably just would have walked to the mall. instead, we played with the chickens, shoveled the sidewalk, shoveled the coop, etc. and then we were cold, so we hung out in the unlocked car in the garage until we could get inside. i think i need to put making an extra key on my todo list.

this evening was spent listing the random crap we have around the house on craigslist. i posted five things and so far one has sold, our old broken vacuum. won't be making a lot of money, but it's nice to have some pocket change and get some of the clutter out of our home.

we also watched two more episodes of the sopranos. it's so sad that we're to the last season. i really don't want the show to end. it's so amazing. excellent storylines, great acting, great cinematography, great everything. even though i am nothing like the character i feel like i can relate to so many of them. it's easy to get wrapped up into their lives as if they were real people. i am very anti-violence, but at the same time as the show progresses i've found myself secretly hoping that they would whack some key annoying characters....such bad thoughts! but i've also felt so drawn to other characters that i have no business liking. i cry for people who kill others. the sadness and despair, the happiness and love that i see on this seems so real. i admire carmella, and tony, paulie, and sil. i'm a bit scared as to how the next few episodes are going to play out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's 2008. But to me it should be 2009. I've been one year off for a couple dozen months now, I kept writing 2008 on my checks this entire year. I think that the decade years are the only one I keep straight. 2000 is so solid. And it's must easier to remember the year when you're in high school, or graduating. And 2010, I'll probably get my internal calendar back on track then. Or add to our family, or have some other milestone. who knows.

at least this year I have a better grasp of my age. 26. i can remember that, finally.

after a fun weekend in Chicago, a short but sweet one, we rang in the new year by lazing about in madison. in fact, we didn't ring in the new year. no banging pots or pans like i did as a kid. no hurrays or shouting, no kissing, no dancing. intially we wanted to have a game night with friends, but after realizing that only one friend was in town, and that she wasn't available our grand new years plans disappeared. so we had a relaxing but lazy new years as we did christmas. we played a couple of games, and we watched the sopranos. we turned up the heat to celebrate. and i drank a bottle of champagne by myself (paul was not up for it). mmm breakfast memosas. or however you spell that.

today was my first day back to work after a week and a half. it was much slower and easier than i expected. no emergencies or struggles to deal with, just back to the flow of things with milwaukee county. a good start to the new year at work.

tonight is -3 and last night i believe was even colder, something like -11. the chickens did OK--they puffed up their feathers and hung out in the coop. they have one more day of negative degrees and then will enjoy the heat wave coming along. we've had snow on the ground here (over a foot) since the middle of november, but two days of temps over 40 predicted, so maybe it will melt. that would be nice, but at the same time i have actually enjoyed the snow.

i feel like i'm finding my place more and more here in the midwest, at least emotionally. no winter blues have hit yet, like they did in full force last year. but i expect they will still come. january/february are the hardest months. but i have chickens to tend to, and places nearby to xcountry ski, and a loving husband, a good job, an amazing house, and friends who i appreciate far far away even though i seem to never talk to them anymore. there is much to look to. plus paul is learning to be more cuddly, which is essentially what i need in the winter. warmth and love. strength through the cold.

the more i think about it the more i want us to build our own dream house in the future. paul likes this idea too. i am already storing up tons of ideas. skylights and big windows. solar panels and radiant floor heat. insulation and energy efficient contraptions. a nice bath, an open layout kitchen. a sauna in the woods? clean lines, comfortable furniture, built in bookshelves, a fireplace. matching nature/matching the city. dreams. far far off, but they fill me with happiness.

it might be time to take down the tree, and move the pumpkin. epiphany is close.

jason comes home tonight.
New Years Resolutions
(as they pop into my head)

-write thank you notes in a timely manner
-actually write some letters, and actually mail them
-entice sterling and st. helen to start laying us some eggs
-clean the bathroom and kitchen more often
-respond to a myspace email from maria from two years ago
-not eat all of the holiday-themed chocolate i just got for 75% off
-buy myself some fantastic boots
-find the perfect handbag, and have the gut$ to buy it
-sell/give away the excess in my life
-lose weight/actually exercise regularly-ish
-become an intermediate knitter
-decorate our house and make it cozier
-call friends more frequently, or at least email
-become more organized
-blog more
-have more patience
-volunteer somewhere
-do more, be active
-interrupt paul less
-have a better appearance, actually wear my cute clothes and jewelry
-cook homemade food more often
-talk softer
-attempt to garden, obtain more houseplants
-find a new passion
-surprise paul with at least one gift, preferably on his birthday
-go to the dentist