Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

daily existence away from chicago

Blogroll Me!

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by shermans.


Originally uploaded by shermans.

From Fowler’s _Avian Artists_, U of Penn P, 1977.

In “Dichotomy” and “Duckotomy,” Hermanson explores the Manichean struggle both internally and avianly. Notice the intense owl-like quality of “Dichotomy.” In "Duckotomy" notice the peculiar expression on the mallard’s face/beak, resonant with the struggle for autonomy in a world denied free will. The subject in common (reportedly the artist’s attorney or accountant) expresses an almost child-like innocence in both works, yet remains aloof, distant; her thoughts uncommunicated, beyond language. Hers is a heresy we can only imagine.

ASLE rafting trip photos

This should be a page of photos taken while rafting the McKenzie River in Oregon.

That's me, bottom left in the hat.

asle copy.jpeg
Originally uploaded by shermans.

rafting post very cold swim

rafting post very cold swim
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Eclipsed by clouds

Bicycle and I (I've decided to pretend that LiO(iS) is written anonymously and give all my friends fun nicknames) went for a walk yesterday afternoon, along the bike path and up to the Raw Juice Bar and Dog Bar. I believe the dogs are fully cooked, but perhaps you can order them raw.

As we turned a corner and looked west, a giant brown cloud hung in the distance, hovering over the valley. Through it, the sun was a dim circle, and as we watched, a jet heading to Sky Harbor disappeared into the haze.

"My god, is that smog?" Bicycle asked.

What else could it be. The heat wasn't bad, but it was in the 100s as usual. It was easy to imagine a thermal inversion over the city, trapping all those fumes.

"I'd like to stop breathing, you know, but that's not really an option. How much of that are we inhaling?"

We both thought about retreating to our apartments and sealing the windows with plastic and duct tape. Who needs a red terrorist alert. The enemy are us.

I've just come back from a conference in Eugene, OR where I spent five days discussing the environment and literature, discovering amazingly hopeful stories like Gaviotas and Aprovecho, and went white water rafting down the MacKenzie River. The conference--the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment's semi-annual fling--has always been both my crisis and therapy. Each time I go, I'm overwhelmed at the progressive, meaningful and enlightening work accomplished and despondent at my trickling output. Yet the upwelling of hope present in a gathering of 600 intelligent and friendly people committed to all the right actions gives me tremendous hope--for my life and for the planet. Since 1997, I've come home from these conferences invigorated, renewed and determined that I can make an academic career relevant in the wider world and in the immediate eco-crisis of the current moment.

I've never failed to tear up at least once at these meetings. (And gosh, this will be the second post where I've admitted to bawling. This blog is in danger of sentiment overwhelming the incisive cultural commentary and cute baby pictures). This time, it was during Alan Weisman's talk about Gaviotas. The tragic juxtaposition of Columbia's violent and oppressive history and Gaviotas's near miraculous innovation and commitment to a sane and sustainable life echoed those times in my life where I glimpsed a better world: reading Dolores Hayden and James Howard Kunstler, visiting Arcosanti, meeting Richard Powers. Beyond my students thanking me for influencing their lives, these horrible revelations of what the world should be affect me more emotionally than intellectually. And I end up crying. (And let's be precise, here. By crying, I mean a very manly cry where just a few tears moisten the corners of my eyes and whereby I stoically and courageously dry them and face the challenges to come with resolve and grit that inspires admiration and swooning among young and pretty people.) Yet for me, that is the very reason I shell out close to $1000 to be there. That unveiling reminds me why I do what I do, and spurs me to do what I should do.

A few hours after Bicycle and I returned home, I saw him and his wife (Ice Skates) in the parking lot off our patio. They said the cloud wasn't smog after all. It was the coalescing smoke from the wildfires north of Phoenix. Relieved, I went inside and turned up the air-conditioning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Muppets Personality Test

Take The Muppets Personality Test - Which Muppet are you?. I ended up being Waldorf and Statler

Monday, June 27, 2005

The View from Ground Ciela

The View from Ground Ciela
Originally uploaded by shermans.

our neighborhood

our neighborhood
Originally uploaded by shermans.

So this is the degraded landscape that we trudge through every night. That is Camelback Mt in the background (I think). The Via Ventura sits right in the middle of some pretty exclusive property. This is the McCormick Ranch golf course: a private clubby sort of place, quite unlike our group of apartment buildings. I'm certain that conspiracies are underfoot to wipe our little apartment complex off the map. We are the unsightly neighbors, the ones you hope stay indoors and at least mow the lawn before your open house.

But we get to enjoy the view for much less than the landed gentry. This shot is taken from the bike path on the Scottsdale Greenbelt. It's about a five minute walk from our front door. The three of us regularly stroll the path in the evenings, fending off the panhandling ducks and falling asleep in our stroller.

Monday, June 20, 2005

from _End Zone_

"A nation is never more ridiculous than in its patriotic manifestations."
Don DeLillo

Hot Hot Hot

Like, 111 hot. I mean, it's not oppressive as some have said. Of course, it's not even July yet, but man it's hot. Every other night or so, we usually go for a walk after dinner, and the weather is quite pleasant. Dry, in the low 90s or so. So warmer than I would prefer, but Judy's in heaven. Tonight, at 8:00pm it was still 103. Humidity at 8%, though. I'll take this over 92 and 90% humidity.

Yesterday, for father's day, Judy and Ciela took me golfing on one of the courses nearby. As I've mentioned before, we live in a rather posh area, and most of the courses are private and expensive. But this is a public course, with a really nice layout. And since its so flippin' hot, the greens fees are reasonable. We played 18 w/cart for $16. Plus, I played the round solo because there were so few takers.

Because I was playing solo, I kept unintentionally pressuring the guys ahead of me. On a par four, they motioned for me to play through. I had hit a pretty nice drive to the middle of the fairway. But with four guys watching, I absolutely shanked the approach 45 degrees right and into the wash. We were lucky to find the ball.

About 6 holes later, I caught them at the tee as they were driving a par 5. They told me to go ahead and play through. So now, not only have I embarassed myself earlier, I have to do it again from the tee with all four right there. And for some damn reason, I crush the ball, and hit a 180 yard drive (which isn't all that long for real players, but for me...HUGE). And it goes right down the middle of the fairway. I get way too much pleasure from this very expensive, rather silly game. (Did I mention I was playing with Judy's clubs? Man I'm good).

Ok, so here's the truly bizarre element of the day:

Before the round, when I'm checking in at the clubhouse, the pro is out of the shop tending to some problem on the course, so some young college age guy takes my info, but can't run the credit card. So we're waiting around, chatting, and I mention we've just moved from Nebraska.

"Anywhere around Omaha?" he asks.

"Omaha itself," I say.

"My girlfriend just graduated from Creighton, so I've spent a fair amount of time there." (okay, he probably didn't say "a fair amount of time." He wasn't that pretentious.)

"No shit." (I'm sure I said "No shit." I am that coarse.) "I have a few friends that teach there. What did she major in?"


"No shit! My friends all teach in the English Dept"

"Wow, you know David Gardiner?"


"Yeah, she's over in Ireland now with the Irish Program."

"Holy shit. She's Nainsi Houston's assistant!?!"

So, I've heard of this guy. Not much, but I knew that he was going to meet his girlfriend in Dublin after the program and they were going to tour Europe.

I move 1000 miles to a state where I know nobody, and on the spur of the moment, we decided to go golfing, and the pro is busy when I check in so I'm forced to do a little small talk with the guy manning the desk...And I know who he is.

We rich white people move in very small circles.

Friday, June 17, 2005

In the McDowell Mts

In the McDowell Mts
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

we made it

we made it
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Not without some difficulty. A few scratches on the furniture. One horribly mangled file cabinet. One lost wallet. Four very tired people.

But we're here. The apartment is more or less functional, with everybody's room looking quite nice. The guest room is a palatial and sumptuous retreat complete with a library of books, plush queen-size bed, and boxes and boxes of christmas decorations, old letters, fabric samples, a sewing machine, packaging for one eMac, numerous flattened cardboard boxes and a paper shredder. You must come and visit.

We have a new phone number. Email me or Judy, and we'll be happy to send it via email. (We have to be careful, a lot of ex-students read this. Every night it would be--Do you buy Prince Albert in a can? Hermanson...You suck!--stuff like that.)

More pictures forthcoming, but until then, Ciela, J and I will be in the pool. Who cares if its 108 outside. The water's perfect.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by shermans.

8371 E Via de Ventura apt C172
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

And my new email address:

Or if you prefer a more global perspective

home big
Originally uploaded by shermans.


Judy and Ciela are away. The furniture is now in Alberquerque somewhere. And I've been running around returning high-chairs, delivering goods to the Salvation Army, and riding my bike.

Josh Ritter has a line in "Wings" that says "what makes the water holy is that it's the closest thing to wings." But cycling is really the closest thing to flying. Parachutests are merely falling slower than the rest. Hang gliders are close, but they are only soaring, they never have to work to stay aloft.

Biking, that's flying. Wheels are wings, and pedaling to the summit of a hill is the only way to appreciate the soaring feeling that comes from coasting downhill. And all birds wear helmets anyway.

I'm in my office for the last time. I have to give up the laptop once and for all. I've clung to it until the bitter end, but sadly, the great machine must move on to newer hands. I'll probably never have its like again. Sniff.

Matt shows up tomorrow in the early a.m. and we start our journey to AZ. I want to try and make it to Taos the first day--a thirteen hour trip--so the second day is a bit easier. Besides, between Denver and Taos, there's not much that looks appealing for a night's stay.

I'll be away from cyberspace for a few days--probably at least until Thursday or Friday when the truck arrives in Scottsdale.

Until then,

Interior Design

Interior Design

Well....the plant does help a bit, but it still feels kindy of empty-ish.

Proper Labeling

> the key to a successful move.

Who Links Here