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January 04, 2006

Prairie Mary

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I've been enjoying the words and thoughts of Mary Scriver, who started visiting and leaving comments at 2Blowhards a few weeks back. To my shame, though, I only started catching up with Mary's own blogging last night. Dumbo that I can be, I'd assumed that her name in our Comments only linked to an email address.

In fact, she's a serious (and seriously entertaining) writer and blogger. Mary introduces herself here. She introduces the prairie in "Prairie Mary" here. Mary has spent considerable time with the Blackfeet tribe; she makes them sound like a fascinating people. Great quote:

In a tribe, family loyalty is an absolute rule -- it trumps any legal requirement, it cannot be put down without resigning membership, and it saves many a scalawag. It works great if the people involved are in a fairly stable environment and are pretty much the same kind of people. Rule of law becomes necessary as soon as the people involved are from different places, different customs, and have no genetic or affectional families present, which is the case with many reservation residents now.

Here's another music-to-my-ears passage, from a posting about a regional writer whose work she likes named Jack Holterman:

Some people sneer at “local” and “regional” writers or writing. What they really mean is that the writing is not dominated by New York. It's “out there in the provinces.” In other words, of no matter to such aristocrats as we in the center of the world. But I relish the idiosyncratic and often authoritative -- to say nothing of relevant -- writing of locals.

Mary clearly lives a full life, and as a writer she's able to get a lot of it down very evocatively on the page and screen. How I love the combo of the ornery, the rhapsodic, and the expansive that she conveys in her words. It takes me right out West. I'm eager to know what Mary thinks of the work of Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams.

I'm also glad to learn that Mary keeps two other blogs as well -- this one about writing (and about teaching writing), and this one about her late husband, the Western sculptor Robert Scriver.

Mary, how about putting together a meta-posting, where you link to a nice sampling of your own favorite postings?



posted by Michael at January 4, 2006


Lawzy, Mistah Michael, I'm blushin' out here and it ain't alpenglow! Such praise and from a back-east man, yet!

I'll see about a meta-posting. I still haven't figured out how to link.

I'm actually working some agendas. I've posted one hope-to-be published book, "12 Stories about Blackfeet" which is meant to fill in that gap between the bare-chested but well-feathered Indian on his horse and today's civilized citizen -- without an over-vivid description of the drunk in the gutter. The first few months of "," if down-loaded by someone, would be a pretty good introduction to the Blackfeet and I've encouraged people to do it. I get posted comments from people who were looking for their ancestors and found them in my blog. One comment kind of shook me up, since it came from a man who'd been dead for almost a century. Turned out to be his grandson with the same name. I'm trying to kick some of my former students into writing. They COULD.

When I was in high school in Portland (a big-time reader with a lot of old-maid teachers who had high ideals), I resolved that when I had a choice between adventure and safety, I'd always take the adventure. If I had a choice between education and money, I'd always take the education. So off I went to Browning, Montana, to teach Indians and fell in with a sculptor twice my age. The rest has been part recovery and part continuation.

Ed Abbey? About 80% phony and scar tissue and the other 20% as real and good as it gets. You like Ed Abbey? Subscribe to the Canyon Country Zephyr -- free if you are in Moab, Utah. Otherwise, send $15 to "The Zephyr, PO Box 327, Moab, UT 84532." Their motto: "Clinging hopelessly to the past since 1989." Doug Peacock is still around here someplace. He's married now, but still raving about Paul Shepard.

Terry Tempest Williams, the Madonna of the environmental world? The only person I know who was able to take on the Mormons (which she is one of) and win. The elders called her in and sat her down. "Daughter, what is all this defiance of authority and obstacles to making money? We might have to impose some discipline!" She said, " Motherhood is the most sacred thing. I am taking care of our Mother the Earth." They were flummoxed. But I worry that she's on too many boards, too many panels, and not getting time to watch birds, let alone write.

God, how I love competence in thought and print! And how I love a context in which a person can tell the truth without imposed boundaries -- though chosen boundaries are a good thing. I think I've been born to blog.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 4, 2006 5:44 PM

Yikes, I did the same thing. Assumed it was an e-mail instead of a link. Oh, I agree about the local or regional author thing: I love regionalities myself.

Posted by: MD on January 4, 2006 6:03 PM

I didn't realize "Prairie Mary" was a veiled plug, either. That was a subtle advertisement indeed, Ms Scriver; no one will ever accuse you of comment-whoring.

Glad to see your blog. I'll check in. Your comments here have grown on me. I'm happy to number "an old fat retired woman in a woolly nightgown and a 3X men’s fleece shirt out on the prairie" among my virtual acquaintance.

Posted by: robert on January 4, 2006 6:54 PM

Hey, robert, it ain't whorin' if you don't get paid. We're doin' this for fun.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 4, 2006 7:12 PM

I am delighted to hear that Prairie Mary is--er, has a blog as well as a handle. I was going to nudge her to start one in one of my last comments, but shied away for some reason.

Now I know it's my hard-won instinct to avoid public humiliation. Good to know that's still working for me.

Posted by: communicatrix on January 5, 2006 11:50 AM

Since the subject is me, I'm going to take a bit of license here. Communicatrix, I see no reason to feel humiliated by suggesting that I should blog when I already blog. I don't always post the URL of one of my 3 blogs. (I feel no humiliation for not doing it. It's my choice... or laziness.) Suggesting on the basis of short posts that someone should blog is a compliment and suggesting that others do what one enjoys doing is only a generosity. Michael B. likewise has no reason to feel like a Dumbo for not knowing about my blogs. There's a LOT of stuff he doesn't know about me and probably a good thing for him, too. That goes for the rest of you, as well, though I understand that to some people such a statement is like a challenge.

I learned about humiliation from teaching 7th graders, who feel humiliation nearly every conscious moment. (One dismal little boy mourned, "I am a turd." It was my fault. I'd asked them to tell the truth.) They were happy to humiliate me, the principal, their parents, the dog. (Forget trying to humiliate a cat.)

But here's the part I don't understand. My cousin read one of my posts and was humiliated that she couldn't write like that. I think she meant it as a compliment to tell me this -- like, "I just hate you! You're so slender and beautiful." The idea is that envy is a compliment. It made me angry. I've tried to be a writer and she has not. Therefore I write better than she does -- what's surprising or virtuous about that? Why should she feel bad about it? Should I feel bad about it? Or do a little self-humiliation as a social penance?

No. I shall imitate the cat.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 5, 2006 12:49 PM

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