Climbing Mt. Shasta: A Journey After Spinal Fusion Surgery

-Emily Fraysse

My eyes opened at the sound.

The nurses dressed in all white with hairnets and facemasks were clinking the industrial set of tools around on a steel patter to my right. I drifted off again as I felt a sting of the IV slide into my right arm.

My eyes opened at another sound.

My father’s alarm had gone off. It was three o’clock in the morning and I had just been dreaming a flashback to the spinal fusion surgery I had undergone around two years before.

Sliding on my down coat and slipping on my booties, I heaved myself out of the comfort of my royal blue tent and out into the cold, deserted ice. I could see my father had already begun boiling the water for tea and my younger sister, Madeline, still fast asleep in her sheltered cocoon.

With a full moon over head, the view was stupendous. It was still the dark hours of the morning, but with the full moon, the shadows of the luscious pines and the sparkle of the snow was clearly visible. Looking up at the slope of Mt. Shasta, a lit ant trail of climbers were already making their way up to the looming ridge above.

A bowl of oatmeal later and I was snapping my crampons onto my boots and heaving my thirty-pound pack on my semi-sore back. My back has been an issue for many years due to a duel with scoliosis. I spent the winter break of my senior year of high school getting a spinal fusion (two titanium rods fused to my spine to prevent the curve from gaining distance). The surgery, thankfully, worked, and a mere two years later I was climbing again. I had climbed before my surgery, but just a few times here and there with my father and sister.

One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.

And that’s how it went for the next eight hours uphill. Any faster and the climber would find themselves exhausted after only three hours, unable to scale the 14,179 foot California mountain.

This was my battle. Battling my body, my mind, my mountain.

One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.

I couldn’t necessarily feel the rods, but I knew they were there. It had taken me about six months after the surgery until I was fully healed, and even then I was still not allowed to go on rollercoasters or partake in any other potentially dangerous activities for an entire year. Luckily, a mountaineering backpack sits on your hips, thus lessening the pressure on your spine.

I pushed my body and my mind, step by step. It wasn’t enough to cause injury, but I wanted to push myself to see how far I really could go. The first doctor I went to when I had first found out that I had scoliosis said that there was nothing I could do for it—not even surgery would help. But I took the plunge: a scarily deep plunge that has left me with a giant scar going all the way down my back. I wanted to prove to myself and to him that I could do it.

And I did.

Flux Local Artist Series: Hip-Hop on Lachdown


Amos Lachman standing in front of a home.

Amos Lachman. (Alisha Jucevic/Flux)

University of Oregon sophomore Amos Lachman hadn’t developed his appreciation for hip-hop music until he began listening to the Wu-Tang Clan as a youthfully curious middle school student. Soaking in the legendary New York-based hip-hop group’s inventive lyricism and collaborative style, Lachman discovered his passion for rapping early in life through inspirational songs such as “C.R.E.A.M,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and others by the Wu-Tang Clan. From that point forward, Lachman has devoted his spare time to crafting his own unique rap style and manifesting dreams of following his musical idol’s footsteps.

This past April, Lachman’s life came full circle when he took to the stage of Eugene, Oregon’s WOW Hall to perform an opening act for founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah. In that instant, Lachman transformed into his alter ego, the rapper Lachdown, and proceeded to provide his hometown crowd with a much-needed dose of hip-hop.

“It was a crazy turn of events,” says Lachman. “The first time I was taking rap seriously, I was listening to Wu-Tang Clan. Having the very first time that I’m performing rap seriously to be for somebody from Wu-Tang Clan . . .Yeah, that was pretty nuts.”

Growing up in Eugene, Lachman’s exposure to hip-hop culture was fairly limited. While most of his childhood peers had their iPods tuned to rock and pop, Lachman was jamming to old school rap. According to Lachman, Oregon’s second-largest city does not fall on the radar of established hip-hop scenes in America, which made it difficult for Lachman to immerse himself in the genre.

“Eugene has a pretty minimal rap scene, and what scene there is, isn’t really anything I’m trying to be a part of,” he says. “I’m trying to pave my own way, and if I can elevate Eugene to the top of the music map, that’d be sick, but I’m just trying to maximize what I can do in a town that doesn’t have a lot of rap listeners.”

Nonetheless, the South Eugene High School graduate still managed to satisfy his ears’ craving for beats and rhymes by exploring the Internet. Eventually, after absorbing the ins-and-outs of rap, Lachman was inspired to write his own lyrics.

“Rap is absolutely a useful medium to get out stuff that I wouldn’t talk about otherwise,” he says.

During his senior year of high school, Lachman joined forces with a few of his friends, including fellow hip-hop artist Ricardo Carrizales to form a Wu Tang Clan inspired rap group named “Krew and the Gang.” With the support of Carrizales’ production expertise, Lachman began experimenting with recording and editing tracks.

After graduating from SEHS, Lachman and Carrizales began drifting away from the original Krew and directed attention toward a new venture—Lachdown. By focusing on finely crafted lyricism and well-developed beat production, the collaborative project went on to release several hip-hop samples, until eventually the artists dropped their first demo, I Rap, earlier this year.

Humble may be an overstatement when describing the duo’s recording studio. Nothing more than a microphone a music stand, a maximum of one person can squeeze in the broom closet that these housemates turned into a makeshift vocal booth.

Lachman raps into the mic at his homemade studio. (XX/Flux)

Lachman raps into the mic at his homemade studio. (Alisha Jucevic/Flux)

“It reminds us of the Harry Potter cupboard,” says Carrizales. “For being recorded in a broom closet, our music sounds pretty good.”

Although Lachman had performed at many house parties and small events in the past year, the musicians sought out a grander stage. Between creating new songs and experimenting with sounds, Lachman persistently contacted local venues asking for a chance to “spit on their stage.” Ultimately the diligence paid dividends when Lachman received a one-line email from a WOW Hall concert promoter in late-March. The email read, “You have been approved to open for Ghostface Killah.”

Lachman had finally booked the gig needed to propel the Eugene hip-hop project to relevance. In front of a packed crowd eager to witness a show performed by one of the nineties’ greatest rappers, Lachman’s childhood dream was realized as he riddled his lyrics into the microphone.

As Lachman delivered his WOW Hall premier performance, reveling in the satisfaction of opening for his hero, the local hip-hop star had a few special spectators listening from the audience.

The child of two University of Oregon professors, Lachman was pleased to realize his parents are among some of his biggest supporters. Such big fans, in fact, that they insisted on purchasing tickets to watch their son rap in his most memorable concert thus far.

“My parents are very supportive of my rap ambitions, surprisingly so for middle-aged professors,” Lachman says.  “My mom is behind me 100 percent. She used to be the ‘band mom’ that would love to go to shows and lug around our equipment when I first picked up instruments. She definitely kept that enthusiasm as I switched genres and still listens to my music.”

Standing a few feet from his parents at the Ghostface Killah show, a couple of cameramen gathered footage of the up-and-coming hip-hop artist. If all goes according to plan, Lachman is slated to star in a reality show with the purpose of helping its subjects achieve their ambitions. The University of Oregon student is contractually obligated to not disclose information about his upcoming pop culture stint, but is excited and hopes the show will air within the next year.

Until then, Lachman plans to continue producing more tracks and will be working hard in the broom closet.

“Right now, I’m just trying to write as many songs as possible to get some material ready for my next mixtape,” says Lachman. “I’m hoping to take this summer as a time to really focus on locking down.”

Lacman raps inside of his closet-turned-studio.

Lachman raps inside of his closet-turned-studio. (Alisha Jucevic/Flux)

Flux Local Artist Series: A Leap of Faith


Daniel Snipes (Kathryn Boyd-BatstoneFlux)

Daniel Snipes performs at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, Oregon. (Maygan Beckers/Flux)

Like many artists, Daniel Snipes was catapulted towards the next phase of his life when his love story reached an unhappy ending. However, the pain of his breakup with his long-time girlfriend eventually subsided into clarity. Feeling alone, yet surrounded by his biting insecurities, he picked up his guitar and focused on creating a unique sound. As his former relationship faded, Snipes found that his desire to explore his faith through making music was one love that could hold him together.

“It brought me to an even playing field to where I could analyze actually who I was,” Snipes says. “I was lower than I really have ever been in my entire life and I’m so glad that I had that because of what it did.”

Originally from the small southern town of Westminster, South Carolina, Snipes, twenty-five, made a leap of faith to pursue his music career in the Northwest. In 21 days, Snipes journeyed over 3,000 miles across the American south to California playing his music and eventually settling in Eugene, Oregon. As an acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter, Snipes expresses himself stylistically through a hybrid of jazz and rhythm and blues. The southern hints sprinkled throughout his dynamic sound provide a complimentary edge to its spiritual content. He plans to take his newfound musicianship and travel around the country, sharing his songs with anyone willing to listen.

“Most people in the South are raised in church,” Snipes says. “A lot of people that I’ve met [in Eugene] have not been raised in church at all. I like that because they actually ask questions and it just falls upon deaf ears back home. It’s quite a different experience playing here.”


Daniel Snipes performs at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, Oregon. (Maygan Beckers/Flux)

Snipes’ songs employ the use of parable to disguise a deeper Christian message. In his song writing process, he says that his inspiration comes in the form of a gift from his strong connection with God and Christianity.

“I just apply structure to the gift—that’s really all I do,” Snipes says. “It’s not an audible thing like anyone is whispering to me, but it just comes and it’s there and I listen to it.”

His music proved to have a magnetizing effect when he first showcased his songs at his church in South Carolina. A man named Jack Connally heard Snipes play at the Tri-County Worship Center in Seneca, South Carolina and encouraged him to travel to Eugene.

“He’s just given lyrics by God to write a song,” says friend and travel companion  Connally. “His purpose behind writing his music isn’t to be famous, but it’s just out of his love for music and the fact that he interprets things in a different way.”

Although he now channels his musical talents to convey a Christian message, Snipes’ old songs are of a very different nature. Back in South Carolina with his ex-girlfriend, Snipes was writing what he considers to be “distasteful music.” One song in particular, “Dirty Date,” he wrote entirely using sexual innuendo.

“It’s weird because it was totally reflecting my own lifestyle,” he says. “I found it so much more important to write songs that come from the bible because they actually have true power. They have weight and they have conviction as well, but you learn something at the same time.”

(Kathryn Boyd-BatstoneFlux)

Daniel Snipes performs at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, Oregon. (Maygan Beckers/Flux)

Snipes can recognize the difference between a song that comes from his own experiences or when it’s filtered through his spirituality. His song “Where I’m From” is an upbeat musing on the many differences between the South and the Northwest, while “Satisfy” explores his Christian faith.

Yet, not all of Snipes’ songs are so straight forward.

“Tempt Me” takes the listener through a soulful whirlwind of inner questions and longings for someone or something. “Love Drunkeness,” a song Snipes says many people think is about a drunken intimate evening is really about the dizzying experience of encountering an indescribable powerful entity. Drawing on many biblical stories for creative content, he’s able to express his own experiences and his relationship with God in a way that is relatable for members of all creeds.

“I write my music for anybody and anyone,” Snipes says. “It’s not for just people who believe in Jesus. I want to show hope through my songs.”

It’s apparent in Snipes’ music that he is heavily influenced by jazz. Upon first hearing Snipes play, Connally was intrigued by his inventive take on popular worship songs.

“I’ve never heard anyone really play those songs like that,” Connally says. “They were played in an original way—an intimate creative manner.”

To create his soulful sound, Snipes draws influence from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole by playing jazz chords and using vocal techniques to emulate a Big Band feeling. When writing a song, he considers the big picture—where all the other instruments would be playing in the overall composition. While it’s only him and his acoustic guitar, he hopes to record an album using accompanying classical jazz instruments in the future.

But for Snipes, an undiscovered artist currently self-recording his music, it’s not about getting a record label, making a fortune, or becoming famous. In the next month, he plans to leave Eugene and take his songs to the streets of Portland and Seattle to perform for the public.

“I know that at the end of the day if I’m not doing this, if I’m not playing or writing music, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do,” Snipes says. “My true desire is to do this, and I don’t care if I make any money off of it. I’m willing to pour everything I have into it.”

Snipes’ new-found love of sharing his faith through his unique musical talents has mended him from a broken past, guided him across the United States, and grounded him in a career that sustains him the way a romantic relationship failed to do. Now, standing at a crossroads between self-expression and financial success, Snipes must again consult his faith and ask, “Which way?”

(Kathryn Boyd-BatstoneFlux)

Daniel Snipes performs at Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, Oregon. (Maygan Beckers/Flux)

Flux Local Artist Series: A Grain of Truth

Everything changed when Josh Krute saw a certain piece of driftwood in Colorado.


At the time, Krute was scrambling in his search of his senior thesis topic. He was in Blue Mesa Reservoir when he found it—the driftwood that gave him a thesis and a new direction for his art.

“I was using the metaphor that in life, people are influenced by their surroundings and their environment, just like a piece of driftwood,” Krute says. “But it still holds true to its grain or itself. So that’s what my thesis kind of became—about identity and about self.”

Krute, now twenty-five, discovered printmaking in college, where he originally emphasized in painting. On its own, printmaking is a labored process. But when it’s a piece of wood that’s being printed, the challenge becomes different entirely.

The first step is finding a piece of wood that looks like it would have an interesting texture. Next, depending on its type and shape, Krute may have to build a form around it to hold it in place. He then shellacs the wood to help prevent its pores from clogging—clogged pores mean less registration (definition) on the printed paper. After shellacking, Krute inks the wood with a roller and then hand presses the paper onto the inked wood with a wooden spoon, a process that takes a couple hours. Finally, if all goes well, he removes the paper and lets it hang-dry for two weeks before preserving it.

Sound complicated? It is. Even Krute, who began printing pieces of wood in 2010, still struggles with it. The paper may rip part of the way through the process or he may finish a print only to discover that the ink is too saturated in many spots, thus blurring and obstructing the markings. It’s stressful, but it doesn’t deter him from wanting to continue creating this kind of art.

For Mary Hood, an associate professor at Arizona State University specializing in printmaking and digital technologies, the allure of printmaking will never fade, just as it won’t for Krute.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” Hood says. “It’s an exciting field to kind of keep an eye on because the pulse of printmaking is always beating. So [printmakers] are always looking for new ways to challenge themselves and challenge the medium and new ways to integrate a host of aesthetics into the processes.”

Regardless of how the digital age is shaping the practice, printmaking has always been about moments in space and time. Before photography, printmaking was a way to capture an image, and Krute continues to go back to this idea in the prints he creates.

“I think one of the most important things in my work for this series is that they’re kind of a representation of a moment of the piece of wood’s life or existence,” Krute says. “Printmaking for me kind of acts like a photo in that it captures a moment specifically in its existence.”

Capturing a piece of wood in a specific moment means it might have the swooping marks of a chainsaw, the smooth stroke of a wood miser, or the harsh cuts of a chisel. But it also means seeing the wood’s grain patterns and growth rings, the life it lived before people came along. The relationship between the two is important for Krute and key to understanding his art. Sure, the prints show interesting textures, but for those who understand it, it is so much more.

“It’s hard to hear people say, ‘Oh, that’s just a piece of wood that you printed. Anyone can do that.’ They don’t quite get the steps it takes to create something like that,” Krute says. “When you’ve worked with something for a long time, you automatically establish a relationship with it and you kind of nurture it. You take your time with it and it turns out to be something nice and worthwhile.”

Krute’s prints, which are displayed at the Urban Lumbar Co. gallery in Eugene, Oregon, have clearly been nurtured. The craftsmanship is apparent in all of his work, even in the frames, which were laboriously designed by Krute and made by hand.

With the release of his first series, Krute already has ideas for his next installment. He wants to continue printing wood, but might experiment with color or adding some of his own carvings into the design. While he isn’t quite sure where he’s going, he’s certain art will remain an important part of his life.

“In this day and age, the craftsmanship of art and how people communicate is really fast paced,” Krute says. “For me, doing these prints by hand and pulling them by hand, it’s really about giving back to the old days. I just really find the value of doing things by hand.”

It started with a piece of driftwood in Colorado. Three years later, Krute has found his niche and doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving it anytime soon.

Procrastination Nation


-Marissa Tomko

I bet you’re doing it right now. Yeah, you. I bet you’ve been up all night with an assignment you’ve been dangerously close to finishing for hours. You could have gone to bed at midnight, but instead you watched a bunch of YouTube videos and Snapchatted your friends pictures of your coffee at 3 a.m. with the caption “I HATE MY LIFE!!!!” Now, the sun is starting to peek over the horizon, and you’ve found yourself here. You have two pages left on that research paper, and yet you’re catching up on your email, current affairs, and of course, The Pulse.

Ah, procrastination. A delay by any other name would leave an assignment just as incomplete! Okay, enough with the jokes. Procrastination is real life. I’ve been doing it since I can remember; I can never bring myself to do something until I absolutely have to get it done. As far as the end results go, I’ve never had a serious problem—I get good grades, my expired driver’s license was never an issue, and I am perfectly content eating Saltine PB&J’s when I should have gone grocery shopping two weeks before.

Psychology Today distinguishes three types of procrastinators: the arousal types who procrastinate for the exhilaration, the avoiders who fear failure (or even success) because they care about other people’s opinions of their work, and decisional procrastinators who can’t make decisions and consequently attempt to acquit themselves of responsibility by simply not deciding. All procrastinators make excuses, with the most noted being “I work better under pressure.” In an article for the BBC, Rowan Pelling discredits this excuse, citing research that suggests procrastinators both complicate and shorten their lives.

“Procrastinators are less wealthy, less healthy and less happy than those who don’t delay,” she writes.

I have never considered my procrastination as being anything more than an annoying quirk. It was not until recently that I realized my habit has lessened the quality of my life and the opinions that people have of me. Last week, I was called out by one of my best friends for using the excuse of “I’m just spacey and put off studying” one too many times. I had to back out of plans to study for a test that I had been avoiding the reality of up until the penultimate day. My friend’s outburst at me got me thinking: I can never hang out with friends during the week because I am too busy scrambling to get things done for the next day. I don’t remember the last time I was able to make a big spontaneous commitment, like hiking Spencer’s Butte or taking a last minute coast trip. Procrastination makes me feel especially crazed—my relationships have suffered, and I feel a constant guilt because of it.

My friend made me realize that I have two choices: I can join Procrastinators Anonymous, or I can remember what it’s like to feel carefree and have the respect of my friends. Because of his wake-up call, I can already feel a brighter school term ahead!

Image by Rennett Stowe.

For Those on the Go: Create Your Own Day Spa on Long Trips

-Emily Fraysse

When constantly on the go, it is hard to fit beauty time and sleep into your schedule. I’ve done a great deal of traveling and have found that taking the time to stop and pamper myself has been a plus. Whether you are catching a plane or going on a long car ride, this routine get you feeling refreshed when you reach your destination.

Important things to bring along:

– Snag tea or some type of green drink (Superfood from Odwalla is awesome) from the airport or a coffee shop to keep hydrated.

– Pick up a healthy salad with minimal dressing (or hold the dressing on the side) with different vegetables. Also, grab a piece of fruit, like an orange or pieces of cantaloupe, for later if you feel like the salad will not be filling enough. If you feel that you are getting a craving, drink a tall glass of water or tea. This can be difficult at an airport, but do the best that you can to find a different healthy alternative to snack food.

– Make sure you have all your tools to improve yourself before your flight! Remember: according to TSA regulations, each passenger is allowed one 3.4 ounce (or less) bottle of liquid or gel,  and one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-lock bag holding 3.4 ounces or less of containers.

– Print out a stretching guide if you will be in a cramped position before the trip begins!

The on-the-go beauty routine:

#1 The Tools: Before you head out on your trip, make sure that you have all the products and utensils ready. First thing’s first: establish what area you would like to work on, and then get the right products (or create your own product!) to maximize your spa experience.

Face: A gentle facial cleanser, two good moisturizers (one with sunscreen for the day and another to wear at night), an exfoliant, and under eye patches.

Hands: A thick hand crème and possibly gloves so that you let the crème soak into your skin. Dry hands are the worst.

Feet: Tea-tree oil is really good for feet!

Hair: Hair mask and heat protectant.

Body: Sleep (at least eight hours no matter what age), deep breathing, and water. These are all key to feeling refreshed, relaxed, and cleansed.

#2 Breathing comes first: Whether you are in a boat, a car, or a plane, the important thing to do is relax and breathe. It seems simple, but deep breathing calms and relaxes the body. Reading a book, drawing, or writing can also help you unwind.

#3 Think Positively: Remember, this is time that you are taking for yourself. Either write down or make a list in your head of all the things you are grateful for, write a letter to a friend or family member, or list three good things that happened to you that day.

#4 Remember to stretch: If, at any point during the trip you feel that your muscles are getting tight, feel free to stretch. Check out these poses for inspiration.

#5 Apply! Apply your face mask, under eye patches, or whatever else you would like to work on. Remember to make sure you have enough time to really let things soak in.

#6 Take a nap: Even a short 20-minute nap can make a huge difference. So pop off your shoes, shut the blinds, get comfy, and recline (if you can).

#7 Other things to remember: Bring gum to pop your ears if you are flying! And a nice head rest blow-up pillow will do you wonders for your neck.

Enjoy your trip!

Flux Playlist: So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye…

Well, that’s it for us. We’re done. This specific group of web writers is breaking up. Some of us are graduating. Some of us are heading home. Some of us are taking jobs. Some of us are traveling abroad.

We had a blast, keeping our readers informed, entertained, chuckling, weeping, and generally interested. This playlist is for thoughtful contemplation of the past, possibly while walking slowly through a desolate town or perching yourself on a rail while staring unseeingly at a large body of water.

We hope you enjoyed this last academic year, and that you’ll return for a new set of writers, leaders, topics, beats, concepts, and emotions when we begin again.

From all of us here at The Pulse, so long.

For now, anyway.


Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
American Pie – Don McLean


Every Time We Say Goodbye – Ray Charles
With or Without You – U2
Babylon – Angus and Julia Stone


Closing Time – Semisonic
Leaving On A Jet Plane – John Denver
So Long Goodbye – Sum 41


Float On – Modest Mouse
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Pull My Heart Away – Jack Peñate


I Can’t Stay Here Anymore – Middle Brother
Long May You Run – Neil Young
End Of The Line – Traveling Wilburys


Never Let You Go – Jakaranda
You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
Goodbye to Love – The Carpenters

On Trend: Style Profile – Julie Cendejas

-Rache’ll Brown

With a bow in her hair and boots on her feet, Julie Cendejas rocks a style that is more “cute and fun than high fashion or sophisticated.” The recent business graduate loves anything girly or pink. Cendejas holds an admiration for Taylor Swift’s grown-up princess style (“I still want the purple dress she wore on her ‘Speak Now’ tour”), and thinks Birkenstocks are the worst thing to happen to fashion. For some tips on how to encompass a girly look, read on!

Where do you find inspiration?

I usually just browse my favorite clothing stores’ websites and look through their Instagram photos. It helps me think of outfit ideas. I visit Lilly Pulitzer and Anthropologie often.

What do you think is more important: a good pair of shoes or a solid set of accessories?

Definitely a good pair of shoes. I hardly accessorize when it comes to jewelry and handbags. I am obsessed with boots. My favorite pair of boots is my pink Hunter rain boots. They are so perfect for Eugene!

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it consist of?

A bow, a pink dress, and sandals or cowboy boots. I love spring and summer outfits best because I love brightly colored dresses.

What item do you think every girl should have in her closet?

A Lilly Pulitzer dress! Every girl needs a brightly colored dress to make her feel beautiful for special occasions. I wore one for my 21st birthday and I had one for my graduation. They are so pretty I always feel so confident when I wear them.

Are there any items that you think are necessary to splurge on?

Jeans! A good pair of jeans is absolutely essential to flattering your figure. I used to work at American Eagle so I would usually only buy jeans from there. One day I decided to splurge on jeans. I bought a pair of AG jeans at Anthropologie and I will never buy American Eagle jeans again because AG jeans fit me perfectly.

Would you rather be over dressed or under dressed?

I would rather be overdressed. I think the way you dress is a representation of who you are. I think it goes hand-in-hand with preparation. I would rather be over prepared than underprepared for something. If you are overdressed it shows your dedication and effort.

Follow Rache’ll on Twitter!

Raising the Perfected Pup: Establishing the Holiest of Bonds Between the Monks of New Skete and the Dogs They Train

-Emily Fraysse

Within the first fifteen minutes after my 8-week-old tri-colored collie arrived at my house for the first time, I had to jump into my 40-degree pool at nine o’clock in the morning completely clothed to rescue the poor fella due to his disobedient behavior. Before my collie, I had a rottweiler/border collie mutt that decided it would be fun for my family to wake up to a half-eaten couch, or to swallow a rubber fish and squeak every time he barked. The truth is, I should have sent both of my dogs through the dog training program at the New Skete Monastery.

After the countless hours of expensive puppy training (which both of my dogs failed miserably), the occasional “accidents,” and finding my brand new pair of slippers chewed up, I wondered to myself: is there a perfect way of raising a puppy? Is there some sort of hidden secret that Cesar Millan is not telling us?

Apparently, the monks in New Skete have perfected this difficult, yet rewarding task.

In upper-state New York, the monks of New Skete understand the unique and spiritual bond between man and dog, allowing them to master the art of raising a puppy. The brothers have over 40 years of experience under their robe belts as well as five books published on the subject.

Their first dog, Kir, inspired the Monastery to set up a German Shepherd breeding program, as well as a two-and-a-half week training program for other puppies who have not been raised through the Monastery. The training program teaches the dog basic commands like sit, stand, and lie down, and how to overcome any behavioral difficulties. It includes boarding, exercise, daily training, and a final interview between the owner and the brother that trains the pup.

The key to raising a pup is simple: with love, dedication, and respect, any dog can be transformed into an obedient and loving friend.

Those interested in adopting one of the German Shepherds that have been raised and trained through the Monastery may add their name to an extensive waiting list, and those wanting to take advantage of their training program for their own pet can apply at their website.

Image by tlindenbaum.

Flux Local Artist Series: Music from the Harp

Just past a small sign for “Wicklund Farm” in Springfield, Oregon, beyond acres of raw beauty and several plowed garden plots, the sun glistens against thirty-eight strings tightly bound within their chestnut frame. On a May afternoon, Noah Brenner brushes the instrument’s strings with soft swoops from his practiced hands. While the Celtic harp radiates a distinctive, romantic sound—but Brenner, twenty-six, is anything but the classic, “cookie cutter” harpist.

Argentine tango, comical tales of reluctant pirates, and upbeat Celtic tunes make regular appearances within his musical repertoire.

“This type of harp feels and sounds personal and present with you,” says Brenner, punctuating his point with hand gestures. “It’s there, it’s real, it’s with you.”

As a Tango instructor through the continuing education at Lane Community College, Brenner regularly breaks classical harp music stereotypes by blending an array of musical genres. And as a performer, harp instructor, sheet music editor, and engraver (a person who completes a special form of music notation), Brenner is as multi-faceted as he considers his harp.

The Celtic harp is an unusual breed of instrument, often confused with the larger and more common concert harp. The challenge with Celtic harp is the shortage of available music for learners and musicians.

“…You often have to write your own music,” says Brenner. “Depending on the piece, I’ll sometimes make additions or modifications so it’s not the same thing over and over again.”

The Colorado native moved to Eugene to study under adjunct instructor and harpist Laura Zaerr at the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon. As the first student to ever study Celtic harp performance at the University of Oregon, he is now one of the few active harp performers and teachers remaining in Eugene.

“Not only is [Brenner] highly gifted musically, but he also is an easy person to work with, bringing originality and thoughtfulness to his work,” says Zaerr.

Brenner was first introduced to the instrument after his mom bought a lap harp to learn on her own. While Brenner wanted to play the piano, he was told that a year’s commitment learning the lap harp would earn him piano lessons. After that first year, however, the harp won Brenner’s heart.

Brenner has since learned to play (though would not “claim to play”) the piano, viola, mandolin, clarinet, hammered dulcimer, and bits of guitar and bass.

“I was mostly self-taught on [the harp] for a long period of time,” says Brenner, who was featured in an article for a performance at age six. “The harp is just an interesting, bizarre, and beautiful instrument.”

After graduating in 2010, Brenner has kept busy with harp performances, music and dance instruction, and editing sheet music. He is a regular performer at the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, Oregon, an event he’s played at since he first moved to Oregon.

From his genuine smile to his worn leather shoes, it’s apparent Brenner stays authentic for all audiences. “I’m just not going to apologize for what I do because what I do is why they keep having me back,” Brenner says.

When he was asked to play at the respected Big Sky Harp Festival in 2009, Brenner was beyond thrilled. The festival marked his big entrance into the harp community, as the event featured harpists he had admired for years (including former instructor Zaerr). There, Brenner was even able to teach a workshop on playing Tango on the harp.

“I really enjoy these concerts,” says Brenner, “And engaging an audience–taking them on a journey to show them the non-‘one-dimensionality’ of the harp.”

While he offers unique performances throughout the year (including weddings throughout the region), his current focus is training individuals in the community to play the Celtic harp.  In addition to a weekly studio lesson that is open to all of his pupils, Brenner also offers private lessons for children and adults.

NoahBurger plays the harp outside.

Noah Brenner. (Myray Reames/Flux)

Despite his evident passion, Brenner acknowledges that earning a living can be difficult, let alone entertaining several distinct career paths.

“I want to do these things because they are important, not because I need to make money” says Brenner, who lives on the Wicklund Farm property with five roommates.

Finding that balance, he explains, might be his next goal.

Although any one of his professions–the tango lessons, unique performances, engraving, or harp lessons–could become a full-time career, Brenner chose to do them all simultaneously.

“Performing, teaching, and engraving are very unified,” he explains. “They feel like I’m doing the very same thing from three different angles.”

As he plucks the strings of his harp, Brenner closes his eyes.  In this moment, the music emanating from his fingers appears to be his only focus.