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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Biking, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 15 of 15
1. Full Speed Ahead Gardening

dainty violets

dainty violets

This has definitely been a full weekend. With sunny days and high temperatures around 80F/26C, I had to get outside and take advantage of it. Saturday I worked outside several hours cleaning up the dead stalks from last year’s perennials. I have two more beds in the front of the house yet to do. This always takes so much longer than I expect it to and the compost bin is overflowing. But everything is looking great. The black currant has leaves and so does the gooseberry which also is getting tiny little flowers on it. And those wonderful violets that no one ever plants but seem to pop up everywhere are, well, everywhere and blooming mostly white but a few purple too. The tulips are open now as well and one of them has already been beheaded by a naughty squirrel. At least it is only one. The squirrels have ripped off the heads of all of them in one go before.

In the veggie garden the radishes are coming in strong. I am so looking forward to radishes. Last year I discovered how good they were sliced up on sandwiches and I’ve been craving them since the seeds arrived in the mail in January. Another three weeks and I can feed my craving.

Last night Bookman and I planted more peas. We also planted mustard, kale and spinach. Bookman has been on a spinach kick lately so we planted a lot of spinach. We also planted a lot of kale because I love kale and I found a recipe for garlicky kale salad with crispy chickpeas last month that I am yearning to try.

I can tell it’s spring because I am craving mounds of leafy greens. In the winter our greens have to come from somewhere else and that somewhere is California. But with the worst drought they have seen in decades, the greens have been rather small and sad and I have felt very guilty even eating them. So hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to start eating fresh greens from as local as my own garden. The French sorrel in the herb spiral is just sprouting up but there is a common sorrel that seeded itself from somewhere next to the defunct Amy Pond that is already tall and leafy. I am planning on pulling off a leaf or two to have on my black bean burger this evening at dinner. Yum.

Walter our crabapple tree has burst into bloom and is he looking gorgeous! I noticed last night that his

Walter the crabapple

Walter the crabapple

blossoms are lightly and pleasantly scented. The bush cherries are also blooming. This year I will be sure to put netting over them so I can actually try the little cherries! My nextdoor neighbor’s tart cherry tree is also in bloom. They don’t pick the cherries because they have to be pitted and cooked and they think that is just too much work. Bookman and I do not feel the same way, however, and they let us pick as many as we want. Last year there were hardly any cherries and the ones that did come on were really small so we didn’t bother. It is not looking like it will be good this year either. Several branches of the tree are completely bare. Depending on how things turn out in the chicken garden, I might have to seriously consider planting my own cherry tree because sweet or tart, do I ever love cherries!

We are expecting thunderstorms later this evening, but if I have the get up and go after dinner I will spend a bit of time in the garden planting arugula. I might not have the energy though because of all the bike riding I have been doing this weekend. Yesterday I did 34 miles/54.7 km indoors on the trainer and early this morning Bookman and I went out on our bikes and rode 35.7 miles/57.4 km. It was a beautiful ride, sunny and the perfect temperature. Our only snafu was getting caught passing through the Walk for MS crowd. We did not know the walk was today and there were so many people! They were totally oblivious about all the cyclists who were out and, like us, got stuck in their traffic. But since Bookman has multiple sclerosis we really appreciated seeing so many people and thanked many of the groups we passed for walking.

Look fast before the squirrels behead them!

Look fast before the squirrels behead them!

We are doing so well with our biking that we are considering doing the train and trail tour in June, a 45 mile/72.4km ride that involves taking the Northstar Commuter rail train north and outside of town and then cycling back. Doesn’t that seem like it would be lots of fun? We will have to decide soon if we want to do it because the ride is limited to 150 participants. I suppose even on a Sunday they don’t want to have hundreds of people and their bikes crowding onto the train, which probably has a capacity limit. Will we go? Stay tuned!

I have a lovely short week at work ahead because this Friday is the Friends School Plant Sale! Think of the biggest book sale you have ever been to, then imagine you are a gardener and the books are plants. That’s what this is like. And just like book people are generally very friendly, so too are gardeners. But when there is a sale, all bets are off and woe to anyone who gets in the way of the object of desire. I finalized my plant list just this afternoon. I am ready! Of course I will tell you all about it.


Filed under: biking, gardening

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2. Glorious Day

After a cold week that brought rain, sleet and a little snow we finally have sunshine. It was sunny but chilly yesterday but today, today is a beautiful sunny 64F/18C. And let me tell you, Bookman and I have made the most of it. We were up about 6 this morning, not by choice — the cats were misbehaving — and there comes a point when the sun is rising and you realize you aren’t going back to sleep so getting up and starting the day seems the best option. Nothing a big cup of organic shade grown French roast coffee and homemade gingerbread waffles can’t fix. Followed by chores, a little rest and then a bike ride that was longer than we expected.

Me and Astrid, ready to ride

Me and Astrid, ready to ride

I have a PDF map of Twin Cities bike trails and it really is impossible to tell how long a trail is. I showed our proposed route to Bookman and said I thought it would be around 25 miles give or take. It didn’t look that far. When all was said and done however, we ended up riding 35.1 miles! It was probably a little longer than it should have been because we had to backtrack twice. The first time was when the river parkway trail said it was closed but it didn’t look closed, there were people jogging on it and the barrier was open. Plus it was a long downhill right next to the Mississippi River. Whee! And when we got to the bottom and came around a curve, yup, the trail was closed. There is no getting around a locked fence. So then we got to ride up the hill we had just zoomed down. Next followed a very poorly marked detour that took us through downtown Minneapolis and definitely off the detour path as we had to find our way back onto the trail much farther down from the closed part because we didn’t know where we were going!

Back on the trail, we had to look not long after for a connecting trail and of course it was not marked very clearly and we zipped right past it and up a short hill. At the top was a kiosk with an out of date map. When I got my iPhone thought it would never be a truly useful device to me, but turns out I was wrong. I have an interactive bike map on it that told us where we were and that we had missed our crossing trail which was at the bottom of the hill we had just ridden up. So back down the hill we went and sure enough, near the bottom was a small sign indicating our trail.

This trail did not look so long on the map. It ended up being quite long but a really nice ride through trees and prairie restoration areas, by lakes and a creek. It is entirely paved and off the streets, though we did have to cross some busy intersections a couple times. But it was a great ride that looped us around back to near downtown Minneapolis where we picked up another trail, this one familiar, and made our way home. At one point while I was ogling the nearly 3-foot tall stone rabbit statue in someone’s garden, Bookman was looking the other way and saw a huge heron that he thinks was a great blue heron.

Because I joined the National Bike Challenge yesterday that runs May through September and the app I was using to track my rides was not compatible to upload my data to the challenge site, I have switched to Strava. I had tried MapMyRide first but it has pop-up ads that made me grumpy really fast. Strava does not have pop-ups though the free version tracks the bare essentials and lets you do nothing else. But that’s ok really. I added an orange Strava badge in my sidebar so if you are on Strava too and want to be friends send my a request and I will follow you back.

Now to the gardening.

Everything is greening up. Walter the crabapple has dozens of tight little flower buds that will be bursting open very

Future potato hill

Future potato hill

soon. He is going to be so beautiful this year I can hardly wait! In the meantime, today Bookman and I planted potatoes. I have never grown potatoes before so we will see how this adventure goes. The variety is Irish cobbler, a creamy yellow all-purpose sort of potato.

We also planted peas. Lots of them. Twice as many peas as last year but it is still not enough to this greedy pea-loving person. I have two dozen seeds left and nowhere ready to plant. I am hoping during the week Bookman will help me dig out the grass next to the neighbor’s chainlink fence and we can plant the rest of the peas along the fence. Today we planted them in a bed alongside our deck that is an old strawberry bed that has run its course. Bookman has been working to clear it out because we plan to also plant spinach and chard in this bed. Then we strung twine around sticks down the middle of one of the main garden beds where we had tomatoes and peppers planted last year. Water and wait.

Ready for peas

Ready for peas

Last spring I planted asparagus, two crowns of it. It takes about three years before you can start to harvest any of it. I kept looking for it and was beginning to despair, thinking the rabbits had found themselves a delicacy. But today, there it was! Both crowns sprouting up tiny little spears. What a beautiful sight it is.

Meanwhile, we are having trouble finding a contractor to tear down our garage. They are all eager until they find out we don’t want to build a new garage to replace the old one. Suddenly they lose interest because a demolition is inexpensive work in comparison that only takes a day or two at most. You’d think someone would want the work but apparently we are

Asparagus!

Asparagus!

small fry so we keep getting tossed back. Bookman will be making more phone calls this week and hopefully will manage to finally find someone to do the work. We would like to have it done by the middle of May so we can then have someone install fencing around the new chicken garden and we can plant out a few shrubs to start growing. We also have a shed to build. And a chicken coop. C’mon you contractor people, one of you must want a job!

The week ahead looks sunny and warm with a chance for rain on Friday. That means we’ll be having to water our seeds all week. In spite of the precipitation we had last week, it has been a very dry spring and the whole state is in mild to moderate drought. Hopefully that will turn around soon, but please, not all at once. And leave the weekends dry. That’s not too much to ask, is it?


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3. Spring? Biking

So...Bicycling Magazine is hosting a contest: submit 100 words about your favorite ride  (I take that quite loosely) and a photo. I submitted a couple weeks ago, and TODAY (two days before contest ends), I read that I can submit ONE entry EACH day! Holy buckets.
So here's today's entry:

 

I ride to breathe in the seasons: I watch snow melting, mud emerging, the grass and tiny corn plants sprouting, and foals standing on toothpick legs. Geese honk, winging north, and the baby calves bawl. I smell rain coming, lilacs blooming, mown grass, baled hay, and grain drying in bins. I’m in my upper 50s. I ride so I only have one chin and so my thighs don't rub together. It doesn't hurt if I can beat some people 30 years younger than I am either.  Somebody asked me what I use on my face. I said, "Sweat."

: )
Photo by Steve Pottenger

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4. Raising money for Aplastic Anemia

Once again, I'm riding the Jackson County Brevet century (100 miles near Atlanta, Georgia) to raise money for research and treatment of Aplastic Anemia and related blood disorders. These are pictures from when I did the ride two years ago with my son-in-law Tom McCaslin, who is a healthy survivor of AA. I feel as if this cause is one worthy of my work and  makes me not ashamed to ask for contributions. Tom and I are at it again.

My Jackson County Brevet Page

George Hincapie on the Brevet! : )


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5. Spring!

 Last night I squeezed in twenty miles after school. I didn't feel all that great, and I knew that some exercise would help. It did. It's lovely to be able to ride outside in shorts again!
 And here's Freya down at the creek this morning. Happy girl waded through the water.
Just seven days ago, this was us! How easy we forget!

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6. Celebrating

First of all happy Easter and happy Passover to all who celebrate.

The original portable word processor

The original portable word processor

I have been celebrating my birthday this weekend. The big day was yesterday but no need to confine the celebrations to one day! Bookman made me a delicious carrot cake. He also made chocolate chocolate chip and peanut butter coconut milk ice cream. And he gave me a wonderful present, a portable Royal Aristocrat manual typewriter! It has been completely refurbished and is in excellent working order. I can’t say the same thing for my typing skills. It has been since seventh grade that I have used a manual typewriter and early college days since I have used an electric one. The keys are much farther apart than on a computer keyboard and take a whole lot more effort to push! Plus, this old typewriter has no key for the number one or an exclamation point. A lowercase “l” has to be used for a number and a period and single quotation mark combined to make a exclamation. There are no italics and of course, I can’t erase my mistakes. I have no correction fluid in the house, so the lucky people to be the first recipients of my typewriting will have to put up with some typos. It’s a wonderful fun toy.

Bookman and I took a bike ride today too. My beautiful new bike, Astrid, continues to do me proud. We are getting to know each other better and better and I like her more and more. We did a 19-mile ride today. Want to know how to go faster? Don’t dress warm enough for the weather! It requires you to pedal faster to keep from freezing. I thought shorts and a long sleeve jersey would be enough but the sun decided to disappear and a light wind blew the whole time and it was only about 50F/10C. When we got home my hands were numb. But it was a good time anyway. And a good excuse for a hot cup of coffee and a big piece of birthday cake!

Seed starting is going fairly well. The onions are doing great, the peppers are beginning to sprout and the

Steamy

Steamy

tomatoes too. Today I started twelve pots of basil. I found a new cover for the greenhouse online and it arrived Friday. The greenhouse is set up on the deck and I moved all the seed flats out to it. It stays warm enough inside it overnight that I don’t have to move everything back into the house at the end of the day. And so far it hasn’t gotten hot enough during the day to put the little sprouts in any danger of being cooked. They sit inside, steamy and warm. If the greenhouse were big enough I’d crawl inside it too.

Two years ago Bookman and I made two raised beds in which to grow blueberries. We have done everything we can to acidify the soil during that time from adding carbon in the form of leaves and shredded cardboard, using peat moss mulch, and adding a whole bunch of sulfur and watering with diluted vinegar. It is entirely possible that my PH meter doesn’t work, but since the needle does move I’m guessing it works well enough. I’ve been hoping for a miracle all winter, but after testing the PH yesterday and having the needle land just below 7 (it needs to be around 5) I decided the whole blueberry enterprise is just not going to happen. I can’t begin to say how disappointed I am because I love blueberries so very much and local organic blueberries are so very expensive.

Siberian squill

Siberian squill

In a last ditch move of desperation, I tested the soil in an area of the garden that has had leaves composting on it for two years. My reading was only slightly better than the blueberry beds. Defeated. The small half alive blueberry bushes will be dug up and composted, the raised beds disassembled, the soil from the beds used to fill in Amy Pond and dispersed throughout the garden. I’ll be planting a couple of honeyberry bushes. These are purple fruits that look liked elongated blueberries. The shrub is a member of the honeysuckle family. The fruits have a berry flavor that no one can agree on. Some say raspberry, others blueberry. Some say currants others saskatoon berries. They can be eaten fresh or made into preserves. Most important of all, they do not require acidic soil. It will take a couple years for them to get big enough to produce any sizable amount of fruit but hopefully it will be worth the wait.

Meanwhile, around the garden I notice the Siberian squill have put up leaves and will probably be blooming by the end of the week. It is a bit early, but the weather has been warmer than normal. Also up are the bunching onions (green onions/scallions). They are perennials we planted last spring. It’s not quite a big enough bunch yet to actually harvest from, but considering I was not expecting them to come back (I have no idea why) I am happy to see them no matter how small.

My witch hazel is also blooming. It is the common variety and is supposed to bloom in October. It did early on once or twice, but then it decided to change its bloom time to early spring. I have no idea why. I was hoping to see the asparagus I planted last spring popping up but there is nothing yet. I guess it is a little early still. Even when it does come up I won’t be able to pick any because it is too young. I have to wait at least another year or two. Oh the anticipation!

The forecast for the week is for cooler than normal weather with several chances for rain. I’m not happy about the cooler than normal, but the rain will be welcome.


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7. Student comparisons, or, Why Penn State students come out ahead



Eric is madly dashing around the office, trying to get ready for a presentation he's giving in Mexico--or he would have posted this himself.

But he knew I was NOT madly dashing around the office. In fact, I'm here on an almost leisurely Friday morning before the three-day weekend. I biked the baby to school today, as we have been doing for the past 2 weeks now. It turns out, it's practically as fast as the car and it may not be saving a ton of gas...but I decided it saves me feeling like a nincompoop for driving the 3 miles twice a day. Plus the fresh air, a bit of exercise, some drama as I turn onto the main road with lots of cars. All good.

But I digress. Penn State took the results from The College Students Perceptions report and compared it with their latest FACAC results, as reported by E-Tech.

Penn State students regularly came out on top, above national averages revealed by the report. Now, there are a number of factors that could be in play here:

  • Penn State students are above average. (Probably quite likely, yes.)
  • Students have gotten much more information literate since the report was published (less likely.)
  • Librarians have become much more aware of the need to bridge the chasm between student perceptions and library offerings since the report was published (Overwhelmingly likely!)

Any of the above--and in combination--I am ecstatic about the possibilities and excited by the potential. With academic life cranking back up next week (if it's not already cranked in your neck of the world), what's your response to these findings, in terms of your own experience?

Also (unrelated) a colleague just forwarded me a link to Wimba Pronto. Looks like a nice way to carry conversations from the classroom to the dorm room and beyond. Even if it's only for virtual office hours--could be a more formalized setting than Facebook and less stilted than Blackboard. (Not that I've actually used Blackboard myself, but so I'm told.)

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

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8. 10 Reasons to Enjoy Bike Week


This is Biking Week from May 21 to the 28th. There are at least ten reasons to dust off your bike and take it for a spin.

1. There’s nothing like fresh air blowing in your face and sunshine in your eyes to make you feel young and alive, as you pump away. Let’s hope your bike is oiled up and you’re wearing a helmet.

2. Biking for awhile will give your body a workout. Make sure you carry some bottled water, and refresh yourself along the way. Afterwards, you will be ready for a shower and your laptop, or a meal at an inn with your friends. The rushing blood in your head will make you a gifted writer or talker.

3. You can save on gas if you can bike to work or the nearby store. Biking communities enjoy better health and less traffic accidents.

4. Biking is healthy; it reduces obesity.

5. Biking is fun. It’s one thing to hop on a stationary bike and go nowhere, and it’s another to feel the wind in your hair and feel like a kid again.

6. Biking makes the roads safer because drivers have to slow down when they see bikers and be more careful. With slower cars, there is less chance of accidents.

7. Biking brings people back to nature to find trails and follow Rochester’s Erie Canal on bikes. There are wonderful trails in and around Rochester.

8. Biking is good for the economic community. It encourages trail building, parks, and inns. It increases tourism and possible job opportunities.
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9. OMGahhhhh SO BUSY

with:
daily walks & bike rides since free yoga is scarce in these parts
custom orders:
eating a whole lot of these:
sketchbook-for-sale designing
& more custom orders
all so I can get to LA by Monday to 1) beat thanksgiving traffic, 2) eat free noodles to 3) support my friend & 4) watch TV with bestie. Yay priorities!

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10. Good week

Gearing up for some book events in July. New Ulm Public Library has a cool website. I'm there on July 15.

This is my birthday week, so on my birthday yesterday, I rode 55 miles -- Eeek. That's a mile for every year. Muddy, wet, rainy, windy, puddles, grit, but I did it.

Wrote all morning, then rode, then met my writing group for a birthday party/goodbye party for dear friend Jann who is moving to Fargo-Moorhead this weekend. Then Tom took me out. What a great birthday.

Now: back to writing.

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11. Okoboji

Great ride yesterday--"University of Okoboji Cycling Classic." Rode the 50-mile route around the lakes, and after the jammed-10-mile-an-hour start on a clogged bike trail, we broke into the open and flew along the roads and trails--gently rolling hills and curves. It rained for awhile, but still, the route was beautiful.


Then this morning, I volunteered for the North Mankato Triathlon. That's a great, well-organized event. Several of my friends had a great race--and everybody seemed to have fun. YAY!

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12. Riding, writing

Yesterday, my friend's dog peed on my living room carpet--quite out of character, but enough to push me over the edge: YES, I need to rip up the carpet NOW, and have a nice wooden floor--or at least a clean wooden floor--with rug(s) before Alec comes to visit and crawl around on it.


So, in the next days: I need to mow (before the next rains come), finish second and third drafts of Slider's Son (the pen and paper version is second, translated into computer for third), rip up carpet (doesn't that sound fun?), do a reading/signing at the New Ulm Public Library (5:15 Friday the 15th if you're interested and that will be fun), ride every day (finally feeling almost like my old self on the bike--why does it take half the summer!?), and watch the Tour (cause I'm addicted). Good news: I can watch the Tour and rip up carpet at the same time!

Oh, I have been riding in the mornings or mid-day most of the summer. Yesterday, I stole a 20-mile ride right before dusk, and saw two deer (in my path on the downhill--had to brake to avoid them) and a raccoon (on my path on an uphill so he saw me in plenty of time). Might need to ride later in the day more often to check the wildlife! Not sure if the raccoon's extra time to get out of the way was an indication of his speed or mine uphill. Ha.

Oh, and my man Voeckler is still riding in the yellow jersey today. Haven't seen the results today yet.

Back to work.

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13. Fun at the Kasota Prairie


Here's a photo of the "dog party" at Kasota Prairie last weekend, before all the snow fell.









And here was my last ride, perhaps of the season--at least until the ice goes off the roads--which gives meaning to "snow tires."

It's back to the trainer for awhile. Sigh.

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14. Review: Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox

 

Title: Ride with Me

Author: Ruthie Knox

Publisher: Loveswept

ISBN: B0061C1OQ0

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!

When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger–a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.

Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.

Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: In the Arms of the Law, Ivy Secrets, and Because of You.

Review:

I have mentioned before how much I loved the Loveswept imprint of category romances.  I was tickled when Random House revived the line, with plans to re-release older titles, as well as introduce new stories to the line.  Ride with Me is the first original book that I have read in the Loveswept line, and I found it very true to the older books that I read and loved.  It’s sexy and funny and told with breezy prose.  I ate this one up very quickly.

Lexie has dreamed of biking in the TransAm for as long as she can remember.  The only problem? Her riding partner on the long trek from Oregon to Virginia had to back out because of an injury.  Not looking forward to the long journey by herself, Lexie puts out a few ads for a riding partner.  When Tom’s sister responds without his knowledge, she poses as Tom and makes plans for Lexie and her brother to ride together.  Tom is furious with her when he finds out, but his sister guilts him into at least meeting Alex.  Then Tom is furious to discover that Alex is actually Lexie.  One thing he doesn’t need is a woman holding him back on the ride.

I was actually afraid that the story would bore me, because I have zero interest in biking.  Now, if Lexie and Tom were going to ride horses across the country, you wouldn’t have been able to keep me away. After about two pages in, though,  my fears were put to rest.  I loved Tom right away.  He is cranky and aloof, and still stinging after discovering that his wife was cheating on him, his social skills have become decidedly rusty.  Lexie, on the other hand, is bubbly and vibrant and fun to be around.  Everyone loves her, and she has the ability to engage complete strangers in conversations, quickly making friends with them.  Lexie and Tom couldn’t be more different, and their different personalities clash for almost the entire book.  They are both strong people, which is a good thing, because Tom can be downright awful.  There were a few occasions that he had me so angry with him that I wished I could grab him by the scru

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15. Scene From the Movie Giant -- And a Few Bits

Manuel Ramos


SCENE FROM THE MOVIE GIANT
Tino Villanueva
(Curbstone Press, 1993)
It's been several years since I watched the classic movie Giant, whose cast included James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Sal Mineo, and Rock Hudson. The first time I saw it, I was a young boy, probably eight or nine. It was the middle of the 1950s and I was in the Rialto Theater on Main Street, in a small Colorado town. The Rialto was one of those movie palaces that used to occupy places of respect in almost every American town -- a gaudy, blinking marquee, deep red carpeting, elaborate wall fixtures, and thick curtains that majestically opened when the lights dimmed and the newsreel flickered on the screen.

I remember Saturday afternoon matinees with my buddies and an occasional midweek night out with my parents and younger brother for some special screening. The Rialto was where I first encountered American icons of comedy such as the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals, and red-blooded heroes like John Wayne and Burt Lancaster. It's also the place where I practiced my recently acquired reading skill. Sitting on a worn cushion and scraping my shoes on the sticky floor, I read all the credits as they rolled up the screen; I learned that the director was always last and when his name appeared, the flick was about to start.

But my experience with Giant was different. Going in, I thought it was only a love story but it had some attraction for me because of James Dean. Back then, and maybe for years afterwards, I deluded myself that I was something of a rebel, even at that young age, and so I was drawn to teenage outlaw myths created by the movies and other facets of mass culture in the immediate post-War years. In another movie I thought Sal Mineo was perfect when he sauntered down a nameless New York street hunched over in a shiny red jacket, smoking a cigarette and flashing a switchblade. I saw the first four Elvis Presley movies and every rock and roll melodrama that passed through the Rialto.


And so I checked out Giant, mainly to see what James Dean had been up to after his surly bulldozing of the decaying middle American landscape in Rebel Without a Cause. Of course, I didn't think of it that way when I was a kid -- he was cool, man, and that was enough.

But what I got from Giant was this amazingly complicated story about Texas -- quick money from oil, cowboy aristocracy clashing with political tensions created by a vanishing Old West; rich and poor whites mixing it up in their own private class war; and, eventually, Mexicans: people who looked like my grandparents, who were scattered throughout the film as so many props.

I felt uncomfortable watching this movie. I didn't like the way the Mexicans were treated in the film but somehow I thought that maybe it was the Mexicans' fault. Why were they in a movie anyway? Movies were for slapstick comedy, outer space monsters, the glory and bluster of John Wayne on the shores of Iwo Jima, and juvenile delinquents.

Texas poet Tino Villanueva has focused his own reactions to this movie and created an epic poem entitled Scene From the Movie Giant. In his marvelously written book he capsulizes a lifetime of provocations inspired by the movie. In particular, he deals with one scene where a trio of quiet, almost submissive Mexicans are subjected to blatant and violent racism.

Villanueva agonizingly chronicles his own attitudes about the crucial scene, which portrays the apparent victory of brute force and hatred over the humble Mexicans. Sarge, owner of a diner, refuses to serve a Mexican family. When cattleman Rick Benedict (Rock Hudson) objects, Sarge savagely beats him up. Villanueva stretches his images over the years and miles to Boston where, as a graduate student, he still grapples with the real meaning of the scene from the movie. As Villanueva writes, he constantly must turn back to the time when his offended small world was disrupted, unresolved. As is made clear in Villanueva's pages, his own resolution comes through the words he has chosen to present to the reader, so many years after he watched a movie in fear and awe. He has presented the truth as only a poet can understand it.

(this review first aired on Denver radio KUVO in 1995)

A BIT OF NEWS

How Else Am I Supposed to Know I'm Still Alive?



If you can't read the image, it's an announcement of a presentation of How Else Am I Supposed to Know I'm Still Alive, written by Evelina Fernández and starring the very talented and always entertaining Debra Gallegos and Yolanda Ortega on January 19 at 7:30 PM at the Troutman Theater at Aurora Central High School, 11700 E. 11th Avenue, Aurora, CO. $35 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. The performance benefits the Nuñez Foundation College Scholarship Program. We love these women and their enthusiastic performance art, and I know I'll see many of you at the play.

Nation of Immigrants
The Art Students League of Denver sent the following announcement about their upcoming exhibit, Nation of Immigrants, curated by Tony Ortega and Susan Sagara Bolton: "This exhibit brings together a wide range of media, styles, concerns, and sensibilities from artists whose inspiration is the immigration experience. Walking through the exhibit, you will experience the history each artist brings to their art and how culture and heritage resonate through their work." Participating artists include Polly Chang, Manuel Cordero, Carlos Frésquez, Ken Iwamasa, Clara Martínez, Emanuel Martínez, Sylvia Montero, Adriana Restrepo, George Rivera, Danny and Maruca Salazar, Carlos Santistevan, and several others. Exhibit opens January 4, 5:30 - 8:00 PM and runs through February 27. The Art Students League is at 200 Grant Street, Denver, 303-778-6990.

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta will be the keynote speaker at the Latina/o Advocacy Day event to be held February 24-25 at the Adams Mark Hotel in downtown Denver. Sponsored by the Latina Initiative and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, the event provides advocacy and lobby training on policy issues of concern to Latinas and Latinos in Colorado. For those who might not know, Dolores Huerta is a long-time human rights activist and a co-founder with César Chávez in starting the United Farm Workers in the 1960s. Info., send an email to: dusti@latinaadvocacyday.org. Image courtesy of favianna.com.

Sacramento Poetry Center
I'm passing on the following piece:

Another great night of poetry is coming up this Monday, January 7 at the Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th Street, at 7:30 pm.

Starting off the new year will be Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo. It will be an exciting night of powerful poetry hosted by Arturo Mantecon. Don't miss it!



Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in the SF Bay Area. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish, 2005) which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her other honors include an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship and numerous Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asian Pacific American Journal, Chain, New American Writing, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, among others. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland.

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is a BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award winning poet, educator & literary events coordinator. Oscar now makes his home in Oakland, where he is the poetry editor for Tea Party magazine and lives with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes.

Sacramento Poetry Center
1719 25th Street
Sacramento, CA
916.451.5569 - www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org


Later.

1 Comments on Scene From the Movie Giant -- And a Few Bits, last added: 1/10/2008
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