Trump Knows Just Enough History

 Donald Trump must have been paying some attention in history class. That’s where you can learn that being a bully works in America. We can’t be shocked that this is happening. It has happened so many times before that its effects are known. Our country has a long history of allowing the bully his (rarely her) sway over the public. The public becomes a tool of hate. Our fundamental values as a nation are spelled out in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the … [Read more...]

Mountain Climbing – Research for Uncharted Territory

One of the first question people ask me after they read Uncharted Territory, is “How do you know so much about climbing mountains?” The answer is, I don’t know as much as is in the book. I have climbed mountains, but much of what is in Uncharted Territory is new climbing technique and the newer environmental practices of climbers. What’s in the book is research distilled, so what I learn comes out only when Jack and his friends need it. That’s the trick for all writers. Research in depth. … [Read more...]

The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys      By Elizabeth Strout     Review by Rae Richen Is alliteration the only reason for a familial title that doesn’t include the sister? Thus, did the Burgess boys’ sister have to be the least interesting character in an otherwise character peppered story? Does Zach, the most interesting character in the story, have to solve his problems alone, without even the help of the author? Elizabeth Strout, you are better than this. Olive Kittredge was a lot more believable, and … [Read more...]

Hunting for Real Dialogue

Children’s author, Julie Blair, Woody Richen and I took the Middle School Writing Club to Colonyhouse in June. Colonyhouse is a lovely John Steiner log home that belongs to Oregon Writers Colony. OWC sponsored our weekend adventures. One of our excursions was into the downtown of bustling Rockaway Beach, Oregon. I expected a few tourists and the usual contingent of Rockaway town’s people, but it turned out that “our fair city” really was in bustle mode that weekend. Before we left Colonyhouse … [Read more...]

Introducing Young Writers at the Coffee Shop

The Sixth and seventh graders of the Happy Valley Writing Club were invited to read at the Rain or Shine Coffee Shop located at 60th and Division in Portland, Oregon. This invitation brought with it a lot of pride and some fear. “I’m not a good reader,” whispered one sixth grader to me. “But you are an excellent writer, so we’ll work on the reading. Not one of us is a good reader without practice, and that includes your teacher.” She didn’t believe me, of course. I read aloud to … [Read more...]

Every day the Preschool Passes

From my office window, two stories above my garden, I hear the teachers first, an alert that my favorite site is occurring yet again.  “Come on, Billy,” they call. "We have to meet the others at the corner.” Or “Susan, push your feet forward. Come this way.” The two and three year olds are out for a walk. Some of the children walk purposefully. Some still finish snack time while on the move. A few arrive at the corner north of my house and impatiently wait for their buddies. One little … [Read more...]

Learn about work and money? When?

Where can your ten year old neighbors learn about the value of work and how to keep track of money? In a place called Biztown. There is a whole little village that most of us will never see. Among its several stores, it includes a bank, a sporting goods store, a branch of the Humane Society, a construction company and even a newspaper. It is called Biztown and is tucked into a building on southeast Foster Road. Biztown is the brilliant work of Junior Achievement of Oregon. In the … [Read more...]

Fiber: an Art Form and and a Joy

Fiber: an Art Form and and a Joy   Last weekend, my friend, Melissa Blumklotz, introduced me to the Rose City Yarn Crawl, Unravel Portland. You’ve heard of pub crawls, and gallery crawls. Those are fun, I grant, but the Rose City Yarn Crawl brings together art and artists in an exciting way, encouraging artists and craftswomen (and men) to learning from each other. Plus, it introduces fiber artists and fiber players (like myself) to shops we would not otherwise visit. Melissa planned a … [Read more...]

Winter Blooms

On a recent walk, friends and I saw several winter-blooming shrubs which we thought we knew, but which, it turns out we only sort of knew. A few days later, the most unknown of these plants appeared the Saturday in Homes and Gardens as the Chinese Paper Bush. If you don’t still have the Saturday homes and Gardens section, here is its address in the internet at Oregon Live. Chinese Garden in Winter       Photos from The Oregonian   According to the … [Read more...]

Hunting Trees

Hunting Trees Two and four year olds work hard to hike over tree farm land, but they get to see bugs. They get to run around pretending to be bear and deer. They get to pet the trees and the wild grasses. And this year, our ten year old got to use the saw. That’s my saw and pruner tool-belt he is wearing. And his sawing tutor is with him. This December, as in most years, our family went Christmas tree hunting on our tree farm. Hunting is the exact word in our situation. We have … [Read more...]