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Going Back to Cali

February 6, 2008 | 5 Comments

A friend of mine says she is booked to see you in Chico, CA on Valentine's Day. But Chico, fine town that it is, is not listed on the APHC Schedule. Is she deluded or do you still have a day job and are going there in another capacity?

Ann W.
Birmingham, England

A few years ago, Ann, I discovered the intense pleasure of standing in front of an audience and telling stories for ninety minutes, and I do that now and then, to keep in shape and also to meet people who listen to the show (which I myself don't get to do). And most of the time they pay me to do this. I occasionally get carried away and go for two hours or more, which can be a problem for older men in the audience, but it's good to stretch out. And it's hard work. As for Chico, it's up beyond Sacramento, in an agricultural part of California where they grow things on trees and bushes, and I once stayed there in a modest old shotgun-style house, white frame, with several screened porches on it, and woke up hearing birds and got dressed and went off to a breakfast somebody had arranged with the poet Gary Snyder and the writer John McPhee, two heroes of mine at one breakfast table. Have you read John McPhee? Everything he writes is golden, though his books on geology can be slow going, and I'd especially recommend "Oranges" and "The Crofter and the Laird," though everything is superb.


Oh how wonderful it would have been to been there with you! John McPhee and Gary Snyder! McPhee would have been a comforter to listen to, and I bet Gary Snyder made a point of shaking your foundation up. Not that he made a point of doing that, he just did it naturally. I sit with a well thumbed copy of "Left Out in the Rain, new Poems 1947-1985."
What an experience to have had as a young writer.
I'm jealous.
June MacArthur

I just realized my 'new' initials match yours...gk. I am Grandma Kaye to my grandchildren because "marian" was a little hard to say, remember, etc. I like both of my names but love my initials to sign my emails
Thanks for the info on John McPhee and Snyder I will check 'em out. I think you are superb!
mkaye/gk/my last names allow all kinds of shortcuts: bliss, keawe, zealton, baker, dunbar and by fav is gk; and now you know the rest of the story!

Chico, Ca is a fine college town and is in the upper north end of the lush fertile Sacramento valley. Would love to see you pass that way again there !! Or how about Grangeville, ID ?

In reference to NCLB, no child left behind ) as they call it in the education journals I still receive, although I am retired. I was a high school Home Economics and geography teacher for 24 years.
Our education system is far from perfect, and does need changes. But, the problem with NCLB is that it does not take into account children with inherent ,permanent learning disabilities. A child with a 50 IQ is going to have problems learning to read ,even with the most motivated teacher, even with phonics. My good sister taught reading to first and second graders for many years, and used every possible method, changing for different children. Everyone was taught with phonics, but also what worked best for the individual. And, all of the children in her classroom learned to read, but she did not have the very low IQ children, who did better in special education rooms, with smaller groups and more individualized instruction.
We have many problems in schools, parents who don't care and pay little attention, children who would much rather play games on computers at home and feel that they should be entertained at school or they tune out. Children who do not speak English as a first language, poverty children who are not motivated by parents and the poverty may come from lower intellect, poor job skills, dependence on welfare and no desire to change. In our small town there are 50% of the children with free or reduced lunches and there are more children in various special help situations than in regular classrooms.
I don't have any answers, wish I did.
Beth Lounsbury

John McPhee's books on geology make all those dry technical terms come alive and dance. To those of us who are geologists, it is a breath of fresh air to see our most interesting specialty treated with such vivid writing, and his work is accurate, too!

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