Florida

Tidal Pull

March 23, 2010

Today is World Water Day, an event intended to draw attention to serious problems but for me evokes nostalgia. That’s what happens when a childhood is spent immersed in a Central Florida lake back when the water was clear and clean. Some days my brothers and I would swim so long that I imagined gills […]

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Wine and Wind

May 3, 2009

We had crowded into a building filled with tables filled with wine. As we — wife and another couple — snaked through lines of people and sampled the wares of artisanal vintners, rain began drumming on the roof like it does in Florida, not Oregon. The sound drowned out the chatter. Wind swept through open […]

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Classroom Chaos

April 24, 2009

I can’t imagine a more poignant or tragic portrayal of classroom chaos than that depicted in the French film The Class. Fictional but shot documentary style, the story shows a teacher’s persistent but futile attempt to reach students mired in pubescent rebellion and complex culture clashes. Throughout the film I kept thinking of my school […]

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Moved and Alive

April 17, 2009

In February on a rare sunny day, I helped friends dig up and move a Japanese laceleaf maple from their backyard to their front. No chance the tree was going to survive the unavoidable mugging at our hands.

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Harmonies and Howls

April 13, 2009

Last night during a concert of earnest and ethereal harmonies, I struggled to keep another sound at bay. Pressed against the stage at the Crystal Ballroom, five feet from Fleet Foxes‘ lead singer Robin Pecknold and bathed in his melodic voice, I occasionally heard in my head not him but the quavering wail of a […]

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A Neighbor Again

April 2, 2009

Growing up on a lake in Florida in the 1960s, I got to know the family next door. It took awhile, maybe because a vacant lot studded with orange trees separated our houses. Three generations under the same roof, they mainly spoke Italian, making them exotic curiosities.

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Search for Secret Rooms

March 31, 2009

When I was a kid in the 1960s and lived in an old rented house (old by Florida standards — 1930s), I was convinced it had hidden spaces. Off the living room was an alcove we called the library. One wall had a love seat and window looking out onto an orange grove. The other […]

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Pink Light War On Youth

March 26, 2009

To deter teenagers from congregating in certain areas at night, British groups are deploying pink lights that highlight their pimples. The lights, unlike those that attract and electrocute mosquitoes and other insects, play on the vanity and self-consciousness of young people to drive them away.

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Rockets At Night

March 19, 2009

Growing up in Central Florida, I saw dozens of rockets streak across the sky. They became part of the landscape. That’s not to say they weren’t memorable. Especially at dusk while I fished in our lake from a row boat with my father. One of us would spot the trail of fire, and we’d watch […]

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Mystery of the Mounds

March 14, 2009

Three mounds of black dirt sprouting droopy yellow flowers in a vacant lot. It’s raining and I almost don’t stop the car. But the sight is too incongruous in this expanse of green to pass up. The oddity warrants a photograph, I decide, and unsheathe my camera.

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Nose Job Memory

March 4, 2009

Among my earliest memories of my mother is her repeated complaints about the prominence of her nose and expressed hope to have it “fixed” one day. I thought of her nose when I saw this drawing from a 1930 nose reshaper ad. She complained persistently for several years. Her hope, which my frugal father greeted with […]

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Mixed-Up Portland

March 2, 2009

I’m confused. Portland, my home, is the fifth most popular destination among people moving from state to state. But it’s also the unhappiest city in the country, according to a new study. Something’s amiss. Either the movers haven’t heard how forlorn we Portland residents supposedly are or the findings are wrong.

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Clueless Time Traveler

February 27, 2009

A writing professor I know often uses time travel as a plot device. His novel about Abraham Lincoln involuntarily appearing in Chicago in the 1950s bring him to life in a unique way. More intriguing is the professor’s unpublished story imagining himself as an adult occupying his boyhood body and mind. That’s a journey I […]

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