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George Bedirian

Spring 2003

One hot link: WSU’s Ownbey Herbarium website

[ Unfortunately, the current WSU Ownbey Herbarium website has depreciated the reference links discussed in this article. You can, however, still access these valuable pages via Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” by clicking on the backeted links below. ]


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“From Rainforest to Grassland,” on WSU’s Ownbey Herbarium website, takes you on a virtual tour of Washington plant communities, from Cape Flattery on the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula to the confluence of the Snake and Grand Ronde Rivers at the southeastern corner of the state. Along the way you … » More …

Winter 2006


It’s no accident that the cover art for Paul Ely Smith’s compact disc, Handmade, features a detail from an oriental rug. Paul, an instructor in the General Education Program at Washington State University, has been a collector of tribal woven pieces—carpets, bag faces, kilims, etc.—from places like Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey for many years. And, of course, they’re all handmade—just like the fretless gourd banjo, also pictured on the cover, which Paul himself built, and which he plays on the CD’s opening track. Paul plays all the other instruments heard on Handmade, including the guitar he built in 2000, his great-grandfather’s 1893 Fairbanks “Electric” banjo … » More …

Summer 2008

Wiggle Like a Fish

Tory Christensen ’01
CD Baby, 2007

Sometime in the 1970s or ’80s, when National Public Radio was airing a program called Folk Festival USA, I recorded a concert from one of those broadcasts by a singer named Sam Hinton. Among the songs Hinton performed was one called “Barney McCabe.” It was about “a wise child” who went off in search of an evil witch and ultimately destroyed her with the help of three canny dogs—Barney McCabe, Doodleydoo, and Soo Boy. He also sang a song in Yiddish … » More …

Winter 2003

Unique Monique: Moki Time

Young readers of Unique Monique: Moki Time, by Corinne Tyler Isaak ’92, Karen A. Cooper, and illustrator Don Nutt will scarcely notice that they’re learning to tell time and acquire new words, as they follow five-year-old Monique—or Moki—through her day on the family farm.

From the moment she rises at 7 a.m. until bedtime 12 hours later, Moki revels in the simplest and most immediate of pleasures. A mock talent show. A picnic on the lawn. Flying “Mama’s” kite. Daydreaming in the hayloft. Playing dress-up. The role of imagination is important here—and it’s handled so deftly that adults will scarcely notice how deeply rooted this … » More …

Spring 2008

Salt Lick

Anyone familiar with Brian Ames’s three books of short stories⁠—Smoke Follows Beauty, Head Full of Traffic, and Eighty‑Sixed⁠—will know that he’s a writer of imagination and depth. His stories explore the boundaries between everyday existence and the chaos that lurks beneath the surface of ordinary life. Some of his characters are shaken when they glimpse the reality that underlies the world of appearances, as when Dr. Mullenix, in “A Taste Like Fear” (SFB), discovers a murdered angel half buried at the edge of an African watering hole. Others slip through the fissures that open beneath their feet and are lost—sometimes literally, as in the title … » More …

Summer 2008

Recess at 20 Below

Perhaps more than most books for children, Cindy Lou Aillaud’s Recess at 20 Below has its feet firmly planted in the real world. The reason for that, of course, is that it’s illustrated with the author’s own photographs of children at the school in Delta Junction, Alaska, where Aillaud teaches physical education. And it’s probably for that reason too that the book makes the most of what some might consider an unlikely subject—the way kids cope with sub-zero temperatures in the far north. Through a combination of first-person narrative—presumably spoken by one of the schoolchildren—and engaging images, Aillaud walks her readers (5 to 10 years … » More …

Summer 2005

In Praise of Fertile Land

There aren’t many anthologies that juxtapose poems by the likes of Robert Frost with those of elementary school kids. In Praise of Fertile Land does, and it works.

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a treeToward heaven still,And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill Beside it, and there may be two or threeApples I didn’t pick upon some bough.But I am done with apple-picking now,

intones Frost in “After Apple-Picking”—expressing, it may be, not just the fatigue of harvest, but adult world-weariness.

Then along comes second-grader Henry Phillips, offering “A Recipe for a Garden”:

Add roses and a huge stretch for tulips.Pinch in a … » More …

Fall 2003

Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance


In Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance Simeon Hein (’93 Ph.D. Soc.) sets out to show that Western rationalism and the rise of technology have alienated us from our world and from each other, but that by tapping into the “quantum perspective,”; we can access hitherto unknown realities and achieve integration with the universe. Hein provides an insightful sociological critique of information technology and our uses of time, then launches into discussions of his own experiences with “the universal mind grid”; through resonant viewing (a form of telepathic perception), encounters with extraterrestrial beings, and some of the stranger aspects … » More …

Fall 2003

Margarita: A Guatemalan Peace Corps Experience

Starting at age 62, nutritionist Marjorie DeMoss Casebolt (’47 Home Econ. Ed.) served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. In Margarita: A Guatemalan Peace Corps Experience, she narrates her efforts to educate pregnant and nursing mothers in the basics of nutrition, sketches portraits of fellow volunteers, and describes the harrowing effects of poverty and ignorance among community members. She also provides a wealth of detail about her daily life, from her difficulties with Spanish to her annoyance at family members who insist on keeping the radio on at full volume.

Because her story reads like a string of undigested journal entries, offering … » More …

Summer 2004

Hike Lewis and Clark's Idaho

Anyone interested in exploring firsthand the mountains and forests Lewis and Clark traversed in 1805-06 in western Montana and the Idaho panhandle will find this guidebook indispensable. Hike Lewis and Clark’s Idaho is a collaboration between writer Mary Aegerter, a frequent contributor to Washington State Magazine, and Steve Russell, a native of the region who has researched its historic trails.

The heart of the book is a set of detailed reviews of 44 trails between Lolo Ranger Station in Montana and Weippe, Idaho, accessible from either U.S. Highway 12, the Lolo Motorway—a primitive road that parallels the highway—or the Selway River. Aegerter rounds out the … » More …