Tag Archives: Julie Lauterbach-Colby

live from the dictionary project presents

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As some of you may know, the dictionary project hosted it’s first live event: the dictionary project presents! at Casa Libre on April 28, 2012.

This week, we’ll be sharing readings from the event. It’s almost like you were there! Or if you were there with us, relive it with us.

(Thanks very much to Casa Libre’s Assistant Director Tc Tolbert for providing the video!)

The first videos are the introduction to the evening as well as the readings that were produced using the word bibliomanced for the event: guava!



gua·va  (ˈgwävə),  n.  [Sp. guayaba  <  native (prob. Arawakan) name in Brazil],  1.  a tropical American tree or shrub bearing a yellowish, pear-shaped, edible fruit.  2.  the fruit, used for jelly, preserves, etc.





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port⋅ance, v1

As I mentioned in my last post, this week I will be featuring posts by guest contributors who are offering their own insights and observations on the first word ever randomly selected for the dictionary project:

port⋅ance (pôr/t’ns), n. [Early Mod. Eng. < porter, to bear, carry; cf. –ANCE], [Archaic], conduct; bearing; carriage; demeanor

This first post is from Julie Lauterbach-Colby*.

“Lines Appearing, Distant Points”

We study the line. From point A to point B we have the closest distance. Draw a footpath, map out a solid trail of breadcrumbs. Denote journey and begin.

Intersection of lines, latitude and longitude, a knitting, a stitch. Sense of security; single location of one self in space. I say one, because, can we ever possess our whole selves in any given moment? Denote a journey, a beginning.

We are all familiar with the history of the GPS (I wasn’t). Devloped by the military to deliver an exact point, an exact location. We are talking precision here: the most authoritative mode of travel, point A to point B and nothing else, nothing outside. Similar to (and at the same time, nothing like) medieval road maps.

Matthew Paris, an English monk from the 1200s, was famous for them. He made the maps in likeness to Roman army parchment maps: thin strips, the maps only showing road and important places along that journey. Most often, these journeys were spiritual: how to travel from London to Jerusalem for a holy pilgrimage.

(How to, with accompanying pictures for each: Start in London [A]; cross the English Channel [B]; through France [C, where the whole country was drawn as a single castle with three spires]; into Italy [D]; across the sea [E]; onward to the holy land [J, with a few undeciphered points in-between].)

Notes in the margin of the parchment scaled distance, how long it would take one to travel between destinations. Roads were straight—study the line: from point A to point B we have the closet distance. Nothing exists outside the frame, no chance for wandering minds, no detail for lay of the land. These maps were about getting. About time-management, efficiency. Exactness, with a clear sense of exclusion. As in, “Shoulders back, chin up.” Presentation of one self and oneself. (I cannot seem to stress this enough.)

It was from a fear of its exactness that military personnel insisted that the GPS technology remain hidden from the world citizen. In 199__ the Clinton administration “unscrambled” the codes and put the GPS on the public’s radar.

Take a GPS and map out a ten-mile radius from where you are (your house, your car, your supermarket, your post office, your church) and follow that breadcrumb trail from each direction: go N, NE, E; SE, S, SW; W, NW. Upon arrival, turn 360° and take in the view.

You’re going to this one spot, and it’s a dictated spot. Once you get there, infinite possibilities. The first sea cartographers used x to mark not treasure but danger. Define trespassing: there are a million ways in which I lie.

*Julie Lauterbach-Colby is a writer, teacher and artist living in Tucson. She is currently working on a project that incorporates cartography, mathematical equations and cadavers, and owns her own editing business called Chicken Scratch Editing.

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Bonneville Salt Flats


Today, we have a guest post from writer and friend of the project, Julie Lauterbach-Colby*:

sal·e·ra·tus (sal’e’ra’tes), n. [Mod. L. sal aeraius, aerated salt], sodium (or sometimes potassium) bicarbonate; baking soda, as used in cooking.

A space opens to provide context—topographic lines separating what runs away (what I have run from). Almost as soon as we crossed the Californian border into Nevada we start to see the dried salt flats. What used to be lakes, appear as opening voids on the altas. Points, here. An exact location rendered gone. Those first explorers into the open lands: the badlands, wastelands. Where the earth has dried and cracked, opened up from sudden change, sudden pressure (the constant ebb of flow of life, of family units), chasms of depth and darkness. How deep is each cut (of the earth)? Around the outer rims, white powder still visible. Traces of. Portraits of. The past. Water marks: where seawater dug its way gently into the sides of the land. With each receding, circular line: a closing in upon itself. Earth’s vacuum effect. From a bird’s eye view, cartographers map each concentric shape wider, farther apart from the last. On a map, what we have is an inverse mountain, a valley that appears to create a wide vortex but which, from the ground, appears nothing but flat for miles and miles and miles.


saleratus cannister


The cake, too: flat and even when I peek into the oven to check its progress. Sudden change, sudden pressure: my mother, a lesson. Set on the counter to cool, the soft center closes in upon itself. Baking soda, saleratus powder, likes heat and time to converge with the flour. What I have is (What appears from my bird’s eye view.) cartographic crater.

My family, driving the winding Californian coast each summer, past Carmel and Monterey out to the coast where we dug for abandoned shells and overturned abalone. On the edge, where saltwater plunges itself into porous rock, what remains? Collected in shallow pools, sun-evaporated during low tide, this white powder. Remains of after collected on the tip of one’s finger.

Ground up and put next to each other, sodium chloride (sea salt) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) look almost identical. (As in the saying, Like mother, like daughter.) But we must think back to the tracing of one’s concentric circles: each enclosed within the other (Do we interpret those inner rungs, those that, on a map, appear to be digging themselves into a hole?) but standing on the edge one sees that no: what we have is (       ).



*Julie Lauterbach-Colby is a writer, teacher and artist living in Tucson. She is currently working on a project that incorporates cartography, mathematical equations and cadavers, and owns her own editing business called Chicken Scratch Editing.

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