Posts tagged with "geography" - Faerye Net 2010-08-03T13:58:59+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Home places 2010-08-03T13:58:59+00:00 2010-09-04T23:12:28+00:00 <center><a href="" title="Grants Pass sunrise by sylvandmike, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="Grants Pass sunrise" border="0" /></a><em>Grants Pass sunrise, taken by my cousin</em></center> <p>I recently spent the week with my grandmother, engaging in family traditions such as DeCourcey-rules Scrabble, Jeopardy! viewership, and politely refusing to put Grandma to the trouble of baking powder biscuits at breakfast, then politely eating upwards of three.</p> <p>We also discussed, in passing, the possibility that she will move soon. While we were discussing it, my mind was very much on the implications for her, and perhaps for the rest of my Scrabble-ating tribe. But some days afterward, I realized that once my grandmother leaves Grants Pass, <em>none</em> of my family will live there. I won&#8217;t have any cause to visit, and the sort of half-citizenship of that little burg in Southern Oregon that I have long enjoyed will quite dissolve.</p> <p>My family&#8212;the other side, as it happens&#8212;moved to Southern Oregon in the early 20th century. My Oklahoman great-great-grandfather came for a promotion with the railroad, and brought his family. My Canadian great-grandfather came for a lumber industry job, married the daughter of the aforementioned railroad man. They lived in the little town of <a href=",_Or" target="links">Glendale</a>, 28 miles away from Grants Pass through thick conifer forests. My maternal grandparents moved to Medford, then Grants Pass, after World War II, and Grandpa started a business. Most non-Native Westerners&#8217; family stories are stories of migration, and our stories brought us to Grants Pass, the nexus of my recent genealogy.</p> <p>Is that the only reason I love Grants Pass? That my parents met in the halls of the old Grants Pass High School (now demolished), drawn together by their identical paperback copies of <em><a href='' title='' rel='powells'>The Two Towers</a></em>? That my Grandpa is buried in a woodland cemetery outside of town, bright with dry grass and the sound of insects? That my family orbited around that valley for generations, and even now I feel it&#8217;s our home planet?</p> <p>I don&#8217;t know. I think we have a powerful drive to connect to places. For me, the Willamette Valley feels like home, with its <a href="" target="links">waterfalls</a>, <a href="" target="links">rain</a>, its <a href="" target="links">particular shades of green</a>. But most of us&#8212;I know I speak for myself and <a href='' title='' rel='powells'>Taran of Caer Dallben</a>, at least&#8212;have a desire to know where we came from. It manifests in genealogical research, in recording family reminiscences, in sequencing our <span class="caps">DNA</span>, and in attaching ourselves to places.</p> <p>My parents moved to the Portland area about 9 months before I was born, and before that lived for a few years in Eugene. I have never lived in Grants Pass for more than 3 weeks or so, but I&#8217;ve become accustomed to &#8216;owning&#8217; it, to thinking it&#8217;s part of me. When people mention it (or name anthologies after it), I perk up my ears. My car still has its Grants Pass license plate surround. I know the <span class="caps">GPHS</span> colors, remember feeding the ducks at Riverside Park, have walked the main street, passed under the <a href="" target="links">&#8220;It&#8217;s the Climate&#8221;</a> sign, had many milkshakes at the old soda parlor in the Grants Pass Pharmacy. I feel at home in that bowl of blue-green hills. Even though I&#8217;m a proud Portlander, I know my roots are in small towns like Grants Pass and Glendale, <a href="" target="links">Llanfyrnach</a> and <a href="" target="links">Marvejols</a> and Taupinet. Perhaps that&#8217;s silly, or meaningless, or maudlin, but I&#8217;ll be sorry when there are no more DeCourceys in Grants Pass, when I am only a traveler passing through, and not a native grandchild returning.</p> Lake Oswego 2004-10-15T13:48:48+00:00 2010-08-03T11:10:07+00:00 <p>Lake Oswego is a beautiful, affluent community on the outskirts of Portland, centered around a man-made lake and bedecked with community improvements like thriving flower-baskets and pedestrian plazas. It is, without a doubt, a gorgeous place.</p><p>Chance brought me there once again on Wednesday and I putted down the avenues, admiring Mt. Hood, who seems to be in austere mourning for her <a href="" target="links">sister peak</a>&#8216;s current distress, so dark are her flanks in the summer melt. I ducked into a Starbucks looking for an easy WiFi fix (note to fellow laptop users: Starbucks WiFi Big Pain. Lake Oswego Public Libary reportedly free wireless mecca) and found myself surrounded by the very contradictions that make me uncomfortable with Lake Oswego even as I enjoy its beauty, comfort, and artistic offerings. On the patio was a woman, under 30, who without a doubt was actually attempting to look like Paris Hilton, in her current overwhelmingly pink phase. She had the supercilious pinched look, the exact cloying shade on, the clothes, and several hair extensions to make herself look even more fake. Why is Paris Hilton a role model? Because she was born into money? If arbitrary accidents of birth confer idol status, maybe they should be lining up to emulate my corduroy and denim wardrobe&#8212;after all, I was born the day after Paris Hilton! That&#8217;s as good an accident of birth as any! I stifled a giggle as the woman sipped a Frappuccino in affected boredom, and went inside.</p><p>Inside, it was one of the nicest Starbuckses I&#8217;ve ever seen. The music was classical and unobtrusive, they had far more than the normal ratio of comfy to hard chairs, and the selection of pastries was almost dizzying. I sat down with my treats and started wrestling with the WiFi question, and was treated to two carefully chic teenagers filling out job applications. &#8220;Our parents WON&#8217;T <span class="caps">BUY</span> US <span class="caps">OUR</span> <span class="caps">FIRST</span> <span class="caps">CAR</span>,&#8221; they explained in great distress to the teen already employed by our caffeine-vending overlords. &#8220;They say we have to get a <span class="caps">JOB</span>.&#8221;</p><p>I sat typing away on my little Puckster, trying to suppress a smile as I listened to them seriously assure themselves their answers dovetailed to questions about which coins to give customers in change and other basic arithmetic.</p><p>I really like Lake Oswego, but Lake Oswegans scare me&#8230; perhaps this is what America looks like to less wealthy countries&#8212;children of privilege in a parade of folly and vanity&#8230;.</p> Ashland Trip Part I: The Setting 2003-07-08T14:21:19+00:00 2008-05-25T19:55:46+00:00 <p>Going on vacation is lovely. Not only is it relaxing, fun, an excuse for spending money, and <em>having to do with smoochies</em>, as Willow might say, but if you&#8217;re <span class="caps">REALLY</span> careful you can parlay it into multiple blog entries, thus fulfilling your entertainment duties for many days with a minimum of the demon Effort. I mean look at this &#8211; telling you I&#8217;m going, that&#8217;s one; road rage haiku, that&#8217;s another&#8230;heaven knows how many blog entries I&#8217;ll get out of this trip before I&#8217;m done ranting!</p> <p>So, for those of you (I like to pretend I have a wide and varied audience) who may not have been to Southern Oregon, Ashland is a small town about 15 miles from the California border. On one end of town is Southern Oregon University, a school with a good arty reputation and, unless I misremember, a good party reputation as well. It used to be &#8220;Southern Oregon Normal School&#8221;, and in the 30&#8217;s, one of its young teacher looked at the ruins of a rural-enrichment theatre and was inspired to build an Elizabethan theatre. The theatre, and the Shakespeare Festival, opened in 1935, boasting the first Elizabethan theatre in North America. The theatre has been rebuilt twice &#8211; once due to fire and once due to fire code &#8211; but the festival has grown steadily. The <a href="" target="links">Oregon Shakespeare Festival</a> now boasts not only the <a href="" target="links">Wooden O</a>, but a large indoor amphitheatre-style stage and a new, very versatile smaller indoor stage.</p> <p>This has made Ashland an odd sort of town. The university is one pole, the theatres the other, and an axis of quaint shops, excellent restaurants, ice cream parlors, and organic juice bars, lies betwixt. Be-dreaded barefoot wanderers squat in front of the Chamber of Commerce with their dogs, as if daring you to question their right to be there; while high school trips of Drama or English students lick snow-cones on the corner, intellectuals trickle in and out of Bloomsbury Books, and families save seats to watch the dancers in the Green Show before the performance. It is a bewitching place &#8211; while the festival has spawned an industry, it is a sort of charming cottage industry &#8211; you get a sort of &#8220;isn&#8217;t it fun?&#8221; vibe off of the locals, rather than a tired &#8220;How-can-I-help-thee&#8221; feeling. The town is about theatre and intellectual play more than about Elizabethan kitsch. And believe me, I know Elizabethan kitsch&#8212;I&#8217;ve been to Stratford-upon-Avon.</p> <p>And at the same time, Ashland is Southern Oregon. Whitewater rafting and snowboarding are other local industries, summers are hot, the green forest rises from sere yellow grass. And Ashland is small. Apparently if you rise early, you may catch a glimpse of a mountain lion padding down the street, seeming to study the wooden dragon puzzles in the window of Ashland Hardwood or chuckle over the horrible taste of the &#8220;healthful&#8221; Lithia Spring Water.</p>