School Shootings: the Story of the White Deer

School Shootings: the Story of the White Deer

I have a student in one of my classes who has been working with gender issues and ideologies for a few terms, through three different classes that she has taken with me. Her name is Rachel Fan, and she is in an Intro to Folklore class now and is rewriting a folktale...

Rainy Day Girls

The rain came back again at the end of May, and all the Oregon girls in my daughter’s kindergarten class got colds. I found the song “Rainy Day Girls” sung by early Oregon pioneers in an article by the famous folklorist, Barre Toelken. It is sung to the...
How to Celebrate May Day

How to Celebrate May Day

Spring is in full bloom on May Day, all the flowers out, a big warm spell covering everything, the seeds coming up. Some of the key metaphors for May Day – fertility, emancipation, the full-flowering tree of life that connects earth and sky – show up in many cultures...

Jack and the Bean Stalk

I put beans into new black dirt this morning, and thought of Jack (pun intended).  Spring is the time for telling Jack and the Bean Stalk, the story of an ne’er do well son, who risks ogres and uses his head to get right by his mother and create a good life for...
Satyagraha, Beauty and the Daily News

Satyagraha, Beauty and the Daily News

There was snow in Portland today, and the kids are all out of school. It was fun to wake up and feel like we have an extra Saturday this week, to see the quiet, white streets. The kids hung out and played — and I read the morning news, which I rarely get to do....
The Holiday Ritual

The Holiday Ritual

I really look forward to the holiday season.  I know it will be extra busy, but I hope it will also be fun.  I try to minimize the sense of endless shopping, and I hope be able to spend extra time with the people I love doing special things.  In my family, Christmas...
Halloween: Finding the Meaning Amidst the Kitsch

Halloween: Finding the Meaning Amidst the Kitsch

Tonight, when we came home from a dinner out, the house was dark.  It was cool out, and you could still make out the orange leaves against the black of the sky.  The almost full moon was made fuzzy by a few hazy clouds.  The kids wanted to light the Halloween lantern....

Folk Tales: Zombies and Start-Ups

Every culture and time period has stories that turn into folktales, stories repeated over and over.  These folktales have similar motifs, but the specifics, the morals, the beliefs attached to them change with the times and represent the concerns, the struggles and...