Sunday, January 30, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/30/11: Mt. WR 121, Photo Review, Jack's Bucket Bath

1.  I've been working hard, really hard to help my WR 121 students understand a wide variety of writing challenges, everything from parenthetical citations to the use of the semicolon to paraphrasing research to writing insightfully about the question of happiness.  I've been working on two sets of papers for over five days and today I finished all the papers that have come in (more wait in the wings).  Even an almost sense of finishing these papers made me very happy.

2.  I've been enjoying looking at more of my pictures, trying to learn from them, seeing what they look like on my computer in full screen view.  I've been taking pictures since late 2006 and have never made a single print.  I think it's time.

3.  Adrienne bought a bucket to bathe Jack in and suddenly the Deke called out from the kitchen to get my camera, that Jack was in the bath bucket.  So I did and here are a few of the pictures of Jack:





Three Beautiful Things 01/29/11: Abstract Photos, Fried Rice, Girls' Weekend

1.  Russell and I went to the University of Oregon to take pictures today and I focused on shapes, patterns, and lines, trying to successfully shoot abstract subjects.






 

2.  Lunch today at Yi-Shen was splendid:  lemongrass curry fried rice with pork.  I loved it.

3.  All day long I've been receiving dispatches from Spokane as my sisters and my mom are celebrating Christy's successful completion of her National Board Certification.  Good Lord!  They are spending the night at the Davenport Hotel. 

Sibling Assignment #144: Mom's Roasts

The next of Silver Valley Girl's assignments for January is to do some kind of blog post about Mom.

InlandEmpireGirl reached back into the Sibling Assignment archives and reposted one of her favorite pieces of writing here and Silver Valley Girl has some catching up to do.


My stepdaughter, Adrienne, and her baby boy Jack are here in Eugene for a visit.

Soon after arriving, Adrienne requested that I fix a beef stew.

I turned to my trusty America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and the recipe didn't say go to the store and buy some stew meat, it said cut up a chuck roast.

I couldn't believe it.  The thought would  have never crossed my mind. 

I bought a three pound Painted Hills chuck roast and as I stripped away some excess fat and silver skin and dreamed about how I would soon brown its thick, red, marbled chunks of rawness, locking in its juices, seasoning my new cast iron Dutch oven with peppery and garlicky splendor, my mind flashed to my mother.

Mom loves roasts.

She sort of collects them.

When I visit her, she always asks me early in the day what we should have for dinner and I always say, like a dope, "Uh..I dunno...what should we have?"

"I think I've got a roast in the freeze downstairs.  Go down and see."

I open her freezer and little red holeless bowling balls spill out:  chuck, rump, blade, round, round-eye, pork, loin, and sometimes a ham or three Cornish game hens.

She's bought them at Stein's or at Yoke's when they were marked down and as I pick them up off the concrete basement floor, I think back.

Roasted carrots.

Roasted potatoes.

Gravy.

Thick hunks of beef.

Pork slices.

Applesauce.

I think about all those nights I arrived home after dinner thanks to basketball or baseball practice or play rehearsal or something to do with band.

I opened the oven.

The oven was on warm and there sat a plate, covered in aluminum foil.

I peeled back the foil and breathed in the steamy aroma of pot roast or roast pork and potatoes drowned in gravy and slightly charred carrot half sticks.

I loved the salt and pepper, maybe even a seasoning mix.  The seasonings made me thirsty and two or three cold glasses of milk complemented the roast dinner perfectly, added to the richness and pleasure.

Mom is so good at fixing roasts, that I have lived much of my adult life feeling completely unworthy even trying to cook one.

Over the last three or four months, though, I have thought how Mom would find it foolish that I would be intimidated by her roast talents, so in September I bought a chuck roast.

Being with Mom over the summer had inspired me to buy an electric frying pan, and I decided to cook this roast with my new utensil.

I brought the roast home.  It sat.  When the time was right, I coated it with flour, pepper, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning, browned all sides of it, put some water in the electric frying pan, surrounded the roast with red pepper, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots, covered the pan and let it all slow cook.

About half way through this process, though, I began to lose my nerve.

I called Mom to make sure I was doing things right. She was duly impressed that I was doing so much right, especially since I'd never cooked a roast in an electric fry pan before.

My family loved the meal.

After dinner, I called Mom back with the good news that the roast was a success.

I'd done it.

I'd broken through.

I've prepared about six roasts or so since that day, including a pork roast for me and Molly on Thanksgiving Day.

I've often wondered, now that I'm gaining confidence, could I walk into Mom's house, select a roast off the concrete basement floor after it spilled out of the freezer, thaw it, put everything together, and confidently cook a roast in her kitchen?

No way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/28/11: Cathy and the Celtics at Billy Macs, Longing for LCC, Grandson Jack and the Deke

1.  I ended the day at Billy Mac's for a prime rib sandwich and couple of T and Ts.  I hadn't seen Cathy since she began taking Thursdays off to compete in her pool league.  It was great to see her again, but little did I know that she's from Massachusetts and is a Celtics fan (and Red Sox and Pats).  The Celtics were on television, depleted, resting the big guns, playing without Doc Rivers after he got kicked out, so nothing was going well for the C's, but it was sure fun getting in a few snippets of Celtics talk as Cathy whizzed by, making drinks, cleaning off plates, taking food out to customers, washing her hands, encouraging the kitchen, in short, keeping the restaurant under control. 

2.  I trotted out my Canon S95 for the first time this morning and took some pictures at LCC.  J, a Facebook friend who studied at Indiana University, had posted that she misses "the days of old school academia at Indiana University - sigh...I miss those ivy-laden buildings that reeked of absolute scholarship."  So, I thought about Lane Community College and the buildings and what I might long for if the day comes that LCC is in my past.  What might I be nostalgic about?

The days of 2011 academia?


That reeked of absolute scholarship?


The ivy-laden buildings?


It's too early to tell.


3.  I also tried out the Canon indoors to see what kind of pictures I might snap of Jack, sleeping while the Deke read her fourth graders' autobiographies:





Friday, January 28, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/27/11: Working at Home, Mario in Spokane, Stew Talk

1.  I didn't do it once in fall quarter, but today I had to:  I took a day of sick leave to stay home and work without interruption to make some progress in getting caught up in paper grading.  I almost got caught up.  The temporary end is in sight.

2.  Instead of Billy Mac's, a bunch of us had Italian dinner at Mario's at the Friendly Street Market.  My favorite part of the night was when Mario sat down and told us about meeting a girl in Italy who was a student at Gonzaga and was born and raised in Eugene and how they fell in love and got married and lived in Spokane and when Mario told me he worked at Au Croissant and an espresso place whose name I can't get right and it was really fun to hear about his days in Spokane working at places I was once familiar with.

3.  I wrote an email to Julie about oregano in beef stew and found out today my message had gone into her spam folder and today she retrieved it and, although a week late (!), we had a brief back and forth about beef stew and time and oregano.  It was fun. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/26/11: Love With No Body, Sex and the Body, Spirit and Body Love and Sex

1.  In the Intro to Poetry class today, we ended our unit of study on poems about love and sex.  I tried to theatrically and poetically bring "Valediction:  Forbidding Mourning" alive and help the students see that it's not only 20th and 21st century rappers who get into rhyming rivalries, who answer one another's stuff, but it was true in the 16th and 17th century, too.  The contests of wit took on a different look in the Metaphyscal Poetry, but it was fun (well, for me it was fun) to look at Donne's ingenious argument and his witty use of metaphor in this poem.

2.  We also read  some poetry that was, I guess you'd say, anti-"Valediction:  Forbidding Mourning".  The speaker of Donne's poem claims that his and his wife's love is so rare and spiritual that hands,lips, eyes -- that is the body, senses -- don't matter.  Well.  The body sure matters to the lovers in Dorianne Laux's poems and I thought it was great fun letting Laux move us through the ecstatic experience of the body the women in her poem's enjoy -- biting, eating, forming a fist, pounding on a pillow -- as Laux explores the body's thoughts, the body's knowledge, stuff Donne persona seemed sadly oblivious to.   The poems?  "This Close", "Afterwards", and "The Lovers".

3.  We also spent quite a bit of time looking at Sharon Olds' erotic spiritual poem, "The Knowing".  It was as if the persona of "Valediction" joined with the women's sensuality in Laux's poems, and the woman lover in this poem tells her story of physical ecstasy in union with being spiritually transported by what she experiences in her monogamous, marital, sexual relationship with her husband.  Time and space cannot contain the length, depth, and breadth of her ecstasy at being with her husband.  It's a rare, elegant, passionate poem of the body and spirit.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/25/11: Understanding Dan O'Brien, Mama Leone's Chicken Soup, Basic Chicken

1.  I think my WR 121 classes made great progress today in understanding what Dan O'Brien's values are, what he finds valuable, and ranching in harmony with these values profoundly increases his happiness.  I enjoyed the passages my students chose to read aloud as a way of understanding O'Brien even better.  We are studying Buffalo for the Broken Heart.

2.  You'd think that the best thing about my lunch today was that I brought home a cup of Mama Leone's Chicken Soup, but the soup was the second best thing.  I put two slices of bread topped with sharp cheddar cheese under the broiler and that was what I enjoyed the most for lunch today, albeit as a complement to Mama Leone's Chicken Soup. 

3.  I baked chicken for dinner:  nothing creative, basic chicken; I put sweet onion in the pan with the chicken as well as a pan of potatoes; very basic; the green beans were basic, too.  Basically, these basic dinner items combined to make a great dinner.  My cooking pleased Adrienne and the Deke.  Pleasing them makes me very happy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/24/11: Ai, Where I'm From, Old-Fashioned Troxstar

1.  I really enjoy discussing the complicated, yet pretty simple, relationship between the man and woman in Ai's poem, "Why Can't I Leave You?" in Intro. to Poetry.

2.  My students spent three quarters of the Intro. to Poetry class time writing poems triggered by George Ella Lyons' "Where I'm From".

3.  We had lots of people over to see Jack, most notably and enjoyably, the Troxes.  The Troxstar requested an Old-Fashioned and I hit him with a strong one, but he took it like an old-fashioned manly man and was upright when he departed the premises.

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/11: Church of Our Home, Photo Catch Up, Canon S95

1.  I stayed in the church of our home this morning and wrote, getting caught up on Sibling Assignments.  I had a lot of fun fulfilling the latest assignments and look forward to reading what my sisters compose.

2.  I've taken a lot of pictures lately and spent the parts of the day when I wasn't writing, creating folders and creating Facebook albums, getting pictures out for friends and family to see -- especially the pictures of Mom's 80th birthday party.

3.  Speaking of taking pictures, I tried to by Christy and me each a Canon S95 soon after Christmas, but Canon sold out their whole inventory.  Today, however, the ones I ordered at Shutterbug arrived and I picked them up.  I'm sure Christy will enjoy hers and I'm happy to have a pocket-sized and pretty powerful camera. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sibling Assignment #143: Dad Was There

The next of our January Sibling Assignments:

Share memories of Mom's 80th birthday party.

I'm the first to post this assignment, although InlandEmpireGirl has posted pictures of the event here and I've posted a couple here.  I'll be posting more in the near future.  

Everything about Mom's 80th birthday party on the 16th of January was memorable:  the flowers, food, successful logistics, guests, laughter, music, the "How Well Do You Know Mary Woolum" quiz, the many lovely sentiments mailed to Mom and posted on Facebook, and even the fact that Silver Valley Girl had a guest smash into her garage door in a mishap that could have been very serious, but turned out to be only moderately damaging.

The party was all about Mom:  guests sat and visited with her, everything we did to set it up and pull it off was about Mom's favorite colors, food, dessert, everything was about Mom.

At the same time, even though he's been dead for almost fifteen years, Dad was there and his presence at the party is and will be a strong memory for me.

Dad's ghost appears different places in the form of stories, quips, jokes, and phrases.  I sometimes forget that Dad and his friends shared common ways of saying things, laughed about a lot of the same stuff, and had jokes they told over and over again that never grew stale, that made me laugh over and over again and, for better or worse, that shaped my sense of humor.

Donny Rinaldi was Dad's friend his whole life, not only in Kellogg, but in Lewiston as well.  Donny and Dad went to college at North Idaho College of Education and it came back to me how they, along with Merv Hill, had a whole battery of ways to talk about stuff that was alive almost everytime Donny piped up at the party.

For example, when InlandEmpireGirl read the "How Well Do You Know Mary Woolum?" quiz, an early question was "Where did Mary and Pert get engaged to be married?"  On cue, Donny answered (wrongly), "The Stables."  I about died.  How many stories did I hear over the years about The Stables, a bar on Highway 12, heading east out of Lewiston.  Donny had a gift as a young man:  he could open his throat and pour a pitcher of beer down his gullet faster than most beer drinkers could drink a schooner.

I remember all the stories Dad and Merv and Donny told of Dad hustling bets at The Stables. "I'll bet the Wop here can drink a pitcher of beer faster than you can down that glass of beer."  The money came out, Donny won, and as Dad said, "We'd go around and collect our winnings while Donny went to the parking lot to puke his guts out."

Donny said, "The Stables" and Dad was at Mom's party.

Another question:  "What royal title did Mary Woolum have in her life."

Donny:  "Queen of the We Wipe Prairie." 

I nearly died.

Mom taught school in Weippe (WEE  IPE) right out of college and worked in the general Weippe vicinity for the Forest Service as a teen.  When we vacationed in Orofino, occasionally we drove to Weippe and Pierce and Headquarters to take in the scenery and to help Mom remember her good ole days up there, yes, on the Weippe Prairie. 

In the approximately forty-three years I knew my father, I never hear him say WEE IPE.  It was always We Wipe.  Every single time he said We Wipe, I laughed, and laughed hard.  If he'd known it, he could have disarmed my occasional anger and moodiness, snapped me out of every bad mood, just by saying We Wipe to me.

So, Donny called Weippe We Wipe. 

Dad was at the party. 

Dad was at the party thanks to Mac Pooler, too, who told several stories of playing golf with Dad, like the time Ed Werlinger, Woody Day, Dad, and Mac went on the road to play the Sandpoint club in a match at Sandpoint.  Mac said, "I thought I knew how to drink.  Jesus.  I found out different with that crew."  I could hear Dad tell the same story. 

He was back.

He was back laughing at the time he and Mac got drunk at the golf course and Mac brought Dad home and pushed him out of the car, propped him up against the tree in the front yard, golf clubs strewn about, and drove off, defenseless when Mom came out the front door to find him and pour him into the house.

Dad came to the party right then and looked Mac in the eye, "You asshole."

It was Mom's party.  I'll never forget that and all the pictures will remind me how much she loved seeing everyone and how touched she was by everyone's love and by Silver Valley Girl's family's singing.

But ghosts aren't photogenic.  None of us could get a picture of Dad.

But he kept popping in, coming alive again, and I'll always want to remember his presence.

Sibling Assignment #142: All Those Girls

The next in Silver Valley Girl's January assignments pays tribute to InlandEmpireGirl's January birthday:

Write a memory about one of IEG's past birthdays.

 I'm the first to post this assignment.

When I was in kindergarten, for the first time I felt the nervousness, shyness, excitement, vertigo, and giddiness of liking a girl.  Her name was Janet Cross.  I had no idea what these feelings were.  I acted on them in goofy ways, showing off, laughing, being boisterous, always trying to get Janet's attention.

I went out of my neighborhood in the first and second grade and attended Silver King Elementary, the school my mom taught at.  I think it made things easier at home for me to go to school and come back home with her.

There were three girls, Kathy, Susie, and Wendy, who made my first and second grade heart flutter a bit, but nothing like I had felt in kindergarten in the company of Janet Cross.

In the third grade I attended Sunnyside Elementary.   Our family had moved into the Sunnyside district and, for some reason, it worked out for me and InlandEmpireGirl to go there.

Soon after arriving at Sunnyside, where Mrs. Hitzel was my teacher, I realized Janet Cross was also at Sunnyside, but in Mrs. Ingle's class. 

I nearly cried.  I dreamed about Janet Cross.  I stared at her.  I always looked forward to when we had music in the music room because Mrs. Ingle's class filed out as we filed in and I'd always see Janet Cross.

I never spoke to her.  Even in the third grade I was sure that any girl I liked would find my attention an insult.

But Janet made my stomach somersault. 

I liked that feeling. 

I liked Janet Cross.

Then she moved away.  I don't know where she moved to.  I haven't see her in forty-eight years.

I liked that feeling girls gave me.

Therefore, I liked InlandEmpireGirl's birthday parties.

For a number of years, because our birthdays are only thirteen days apart, Mom would throw one birthday party.  Back then, the kids who came were friends of the family mostly and no clear line yet divided my friends from hers.

At some point in time, however, the line got drawn and InlandEmpireGirl started having girl only birthday parties.

Wow.

All those girls.

I couldn't come right out and say to Mom or my sister that I was really excited for InlandEmpireGirl's birthday parties, but I was.

I don't remember any single party, but by the time I was ten, eleven, maybe even twelve years old, I really liked having girls around. 

I didn't do anything about it beyond show off and I very well might have been a pain in the neck at InlandEmpireGirl's birthday parties, but her friends were really pretty to me, they excited me, I wanted them to notice me, and all those girls made her birthday parties events I really looked forward to.

I'm still too embarrassed by my behavior and my young boy feelings to name names -- but about four of my sister's friends triggered the show off mechanism in me and gave me that dizzy feeling and that's what I remember most about her parties. 

And, just for the record, here I am, showing off when Mom took a party picture, standing up, dramatically eating a big forkful of pork and beans, wanting attention, trying to impress some of the girls (not necessarily pictured) at this party.  They don't seem to notice me, though.....

Sibling Assignment #141: They Really Aren't My Little Sisters Anymore

 Silver Valley Girl busted out five Sibling Assignments for the month of January, four having to do with family members and a last one addressing our hopes for 2011.  The first January assignment goes like this: 

"Recall a memory from 2010 about each of your siblings and share the memory. It can be one memory or two separate memories." 
 InlandEmpireGirl wrote sweetly about me and Silver Valley Girl here and Silver Valley Girl has not yet gone on one of her blogging flurries to write hers yet. 

In 2010, I didn't spend as much time with my sisters as I would have liked to.  We didn't find the time for any sibling outings and  I stayed in Eugene for spring break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

But, my sisters and I did attend the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny in Orofino.  InlandEmpireGirl and I had a terrific time together in Moscow before and after the Hootenanny and Silver Valley Girl and I both enjoyed  the 2010 Kellogg High School All-Class Reunion and I saw her perform in two presentations at the Sixth Street Melodrama.

I know that InlandEmpireGirl and I are in our fifties and have become accomplished teachers.  I know that Silver Valley Girl is nearing fifty years old and is a superb mother of three beautiful daughters, a highly respected writer, actress, singer, and grant coordinator for the GEAR-UP program in District #391.

They aren't my little sisters anymore.

I wouldn't even say that I think of my sisters as my little sisters anymore.

And, yet, I live with vivid memories of being a little boy at 14 E. Portland and InlandEmpireGirl was my little sister with whom I shared birthday parties and ate popcorn while watching Leave it to Beaver and with whom I visited Clarence and Hedve or Mary Pavelitch or, in Orofino, our aunts and uncles and Jane Erbst and the Stanleys. 

And, of course, I live with vivid memories of being a third grader when Mom announced she was pregnant with Silver Valley Girl and being a fourth grader when she learned to walk and started to talk and when I helped feed her and hold her and, as I got older, when I would fold her up as a sandwich in a mattress or blow my baritone horn over her head. 

So, this past summer, InlandEmpireGirl invited me to give a presentation to the Writing Project course she was teaching.  She was so competent, in charge, alive with the teachers she was teaching, and such a superb colleague with April.  She was, as she's done before, teaching a course at the University of Idaho; her students, all public school teachers, were earning college credits.  InlandEmpireGirl was in charge.  It didn't surprise me, but I had to shake my consciousness a bit. 

She's not my little sister anymore.

It happened again at the Hootenanny.  At some juncture in the festivities, there was Pooh, my one time baby sister, sitting with her daughters, early, mid-, and late teenagers, laughing, explaining who people were, making sure their sleeping arrangements were set, just being a great mom. 

Like InlandEmpireGirl conducting a college course, Silver Valley Girl was sure of herself, relaxed, assured, attentive, at ease, loving.

She's not my little sister anymore.

This past summer, Silver Valley Girl performed on stage at the Sixth Street Melodrama and I had to shake my consciousness a couple of times to wake myself up to the fact that this talented, mature, versatile woman on stage was once my little sister; in fact, was once my little baby sister.

Not any longer:  she's not my little sister anymore.

Intellectually, I've known for years that my sisters are both adults, we are peers, and I'm not the big brother I used to be.  Sometimes I step into the role of big brother.  InlandEmpireGirl wrote recently that I did so at my mother's 80th birthday party, staying calm when some things could have become a little whacky.

But, I wasn't leading my little sisters by the hand or being protective or acting like a big shot or assuming the responsibility of being the oldest sibling. 

I was being myself and we were being adults together, each bringing our strengths, imagination, and social graces to the party, working together as equals.

It's clear:  they aren't my little sisters anymore.

Three Beautiful Things 01/22/11: Beaming at Albertson's, Hendricks Park Photos, Hot Drumettes

1.  I got out of bed sometime after 7:00 a.m. and I knew we needed dishwasher detergent and I knew I wanted it right away because I knew I wanted to get the dishes going because I knew quite a few dishes needed to be washed that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher.  My reward for going to Albertson's at 7:30 or so?  The friendliest, bubbliest, funniest checker I've had in years.  I was beaming as I left the store.

2.  Russell and I went on a photo shoot at Hendricks Park and I was a little braver with my camera.  I'll be posting an album on Facebook.  Not all of my "bravery" worked, but I got a few pretty good shots and I think I'm learning more about my Nikon.

3.  I decided tonight would be a good night to introduce Adrienne and Patrick to my brand of hot wings.  They were actually hot drumettes, my favorite part of the chicken to make hot.  It was a buttery feast.  I fried the chicken in butter and, of course, the hot sauce is a combination of butter and Frank's Orginal Hot Sauce.  I think when Patrick said, "Score!" that meant he liked them and Adrienne and the Deke were mightily pleased.  The sweet potato fries also worked and we all enjoyed the celery and Lighthouse Blue Cheese dressing (from Sandpoint). 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/21/10: Beef Stew, Disaster Averted, Staying Home

1.  Thursday night I stayed up late and fixed a beef stew ahead of time and tonight we warmed it up and ate it.  I had feared it would be inferior because I had mistakenly put oregano in it, but that turned out fine.  Yes, the stew was a tad too peppery and I'll dial back the pepper next time I fix it.  Adrienne, the Deke, and I loved this stew.  It was a joy to prepare and to eat.

2.  I'll be vague on purpose.  Mom is embarrassed about a mishap at her house.  I called her to learn more about it and everything turned out really fine, really good.  A disaster averted.

3.  I think it was a good move for my psyche and my need for rest to stay home rather than return to LCC for a department meeting. 

Three Beautiful Things 01/19/10: Mom's Birthday, Giants Rehash, Fuller Feast

1.  While Mom's birthday party was on Sunday, her actual birthday is today and we had a good visit as her low key actual day of her birth was drawing to an end.

2.  Elroy Fuller and I sat down on the couch and rehashed the Giants' remarkable performances in winning the 2010 World Series.

3.  So that Betty and Elroy could meet Jack and see Adrienne and so that Mary could have some more time with her grandson, we had an enchilada casserole feast, most tastily prepared by the Deke.

Three Beautiful Things 01/20/11: Coma Nap, Market of Choice Reunion, Jack at Billy Mac's

1.  I fell into an afternoon coma nap when I returned home from school this afternoon.  I think the travel to Kellogg and the excitement of Jack and Adrienne's arrival caught up to me.  It was a refreshing sleep.

2.  It was fun having a reunion with other faculty members who had worked in Learning Communities over the years and remembering the good old days of team teaching with Rita and Margaret.  It's startling to me how quickly those wonderful days recede into the past.

3.  Michael and Pam got to meet Jack at Billy Mac's and we all had a great time talking, eating, and enjoy each others' company.

Three Beautiful Things 01/18/11: Here's What You'll Learn Today!, Rump Roast Bliss, Adrienne and Jack!

1.  From a few of my WR 121 students I've been hearing the complaint that they didn't learn anything from their previous writing teachers.  Starting today, I started spelling out for my students exactly what I think they should learn during the class period.  I hope it worked today as I spelled out what I wanted to have happen in the papers they brought to class and as they went to work revising them.

2.  Following the directions in America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I slowly cooked a rump roast in the oven with potatoes and onions and the result was stunning:  the roast was juicy, cooked medium rare, the way I love it, and the simple seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder) worked perfectly.  The onions and potatoes came out beautifully.  It was a simple meal and one of the best I've ever prepared, one of the best I've ever eaten.

3.  Adrienne and Jack arrived from New York!

Three Beautiful Things 01/17/11: Silver Spoon, Flying to Eugene, Chef Patrick

1.  Mom and Carol and Christy and Molly and I had breakfast at the Silver Spoon in Kellogg and had a nice chat, as we left, with the regular morning coffee guys, many of whom I go back forty or fifty years with.

2.  It costs more but is so worth it to fly to Eugene instead of Portland and to park in long-term parking.  I arrived in Eugene, walked out of the airport, drove my car home, and it was easy and put no strain on anyone.

3.  Patrick fixed smothered pork chops for dinner and they were superb.

Three Beautiful Things 01/16/11: Party Flowers, Party Guests, You've Been Sentenced

1. It was fun going over to Carol's three hours early and taking pictures of the flowers Christy arranged for Mom's 80th birthday party.  Here's one example, with more to come on Facebook and a separate blog entry.




2.  Mom's birthday party was perfect.  The food plan worked, people enjoyed each other, the program Carol and Christy put on was fun, funny, and touching, and, best of all, Mary Idell West Woolum was happy.  I have pictures and am still sorting through them and will post them on Facebook and a blog post.  Here's one example:



3. After the party, our family settled into a rousing game of  You've Been Sentenced and heard a lot of hilarious sentences, creative ones, and absurd ones:  all of them inspired one rolling thunder of laughter after another. 

Three Beautiful Things 01/15/11: Nosworthy's Breakfast, Wanda's New Car, Party at Jake's and Carol's

1.  Today was KHS Class of '72 day -- from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.  It started perfectly:  Lars, Jake, Ed, Stu, and I met at Nosworthy's Hall of Fame for breakfast and beers.  I'd never tried an orange beer (beer and orange juice) before, but I'd seen them served several times at Nosworthy's.  I took the plunge and enjoyed how the orange beers complemented my plate of biscuits and sausage gravy.  I found myself thinking that I wished I could meet with these lifelong friends of mine at Nosworthy's as many Saturdays as possible and shoot the breeze, tell tall tales, and drink beers with breakfast.  What a pleasure.

2.  Ed and I met up with Wanda in the Shopko parking lot and, after I strolled over to Albertson's to buy a $7.39 jar of crispy low sodium pickled asparagus spears at Stu's request (and ran into Chris Meyer) and returned, we took off in Wanda's brand new Chevy Impala, made a stop at The Vapor Cafe, and cruised to Liberty Lake to Jake's and Carol's to meet up with the Nosworthy's crew plus Carol and Joni.

3.  The girls made great food.  Smokies baked in Pillsbury dough, meatballs, potato salad, and a huge vegetable plate and we partied like it was 1972.  Well, not quite 1972 -- but we had a great time together -- it was a most happy and memorable and good-spirited party.

Three Beautiful Things 01/14/11: Paul's Basketball Shoes, Sibling Breakfast at Sam's, Family Dinner at Red Lobster

1.  I was over at Carol's and noticed that Paul had left his basketball shoes on an end table.  I thought, "What a great still life!"  So I snapped some photos.  Here are three of them:


2.  Christy, Carol, and I enjoyed a long breakfast at Sam's and worked out many of the details of Mom's 80th birthday party to be held Sunday.  I thought, and I think I said, that I would be even happier if I could get together with my sisters way more often and have way more breakfasts together.  It was relaxing, fun, and calming to be together.

3.  Christy, Carol, Mom, and I went shopping in Coeur d' Alene at J. C. Penney and Macy's, helping to guarantee that Mom would look her radiant best for her party.  We topped off the day with dinner at Red Lobster and I enjoyed a center-cut sirloin rubbed with peppercorn seasoning cooked medium rare and a skewer of jumbo shrimp finished with a buttery garlic glaze, served over home-style mashed potatoes.  The meal was wonderful, but we enjoyed each other's company even more.  Once again, I found myself wishing I could have meals regularly with my sisters and my mother.  Once again, it was relaxing, fun, and calming to be together.

Three Beautiful Things 01/13/11: WR 121 Help, Airport Easiness, Fun with Skye at Shari's

1.  I reserved the last hour of today's WR 121 meeting to give students individual help who were struggling with things.  Paula had a lot of her paper written and I was not only able to give her some help, but her work gave me a ton of help understanding what she and other students were having trouble with.  She probably left our conversation grateful that I had helped her, but she, actually, might have helped me more.

2.  I arrived at Eugene's airport over two hours early, on purpose, for my flight to Spokane.  It made everything easier.  Relaxed that I had a legitimate boarding pass and got through security after my belt made the scanning machine ring, I sat in the Horizon boarding area and watched different people, listened to others complain to each other or on their cell phones, and boarded my flight to Portland and then Spokane.  They were both blissfully uneventful flights.

3.  Ed picked me up in Spokane and we went to Shari's for dinner and were waited on by a really good humored (and good looking) college-aged woman named Skye.  She assured me that the "Original" Chicken Fried Steak I ordered was Original and not fake and indulged Ed and me in a barrage of stupid jokes and comments.  We think she had fun waiting on us, but we know her willingness to play along and laugh with us made our meal very enjoyable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/12/11: God Poems, After Making Love, Mucho Gracious

1. "If a person's going to write a poem about God," I asked my Intro to Literature: Poetry class, "what's the poet's first concern?"  "That they not offend anyone."  "Nope."  "That the poet take into consideration that the reader might not believe in God."  "Nope," I answered, "but I can see why you'd say these things."  Some others took stabs at my question.  Nope. Nope. Nope.  "Make music, " I said.  "No matter what the poet's subject matter,whether it's sex, peaches, ponies, Barbie Dolls, wild geese, or whatever, the poet's first concern is to make music."  I then indulged in a moment of ranting about all the crappy poems written about God that have no music, no images, no metaphors, but just say something about loving the Lord and he's the King or whatever that's been written a million times before.  So, raising this question about the poet's first concern when writing about God, and having my students all answer it kind of theologically and and kind of socially, and being wrong (!)  prepared my students to read the gorgeous music, the thrilling images, and the inventive metaphors of Gerard Manley Hopkins and I hope they believed me when I said that being thrilled by "God's Grandeur" and "Pied Beauty" and experiencing God in those poems is not dependent upon believing in God.  It's not dependent upon religious faith.  It's dependent upon believing poetry.

2.  One of my students was kind of thrilled by the way the child Fergus is awakened by his mom and dad's heavy breathing and come-cries in Galway Kinell's "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps" and comes bounding to their bed, how Fergus is "this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making";  Fergus is like a salmon, propelled by memory back to where he was spawned, and my student had just been fishing for steelhead and caught one that was heading back to the ground of his making.  The image, the metaphor, the wonder of Fergus' being awakened and jumping into bed with his parents after they made love, back to the ground of his making,  made perfect sense to Tristan.  And well it should have!  It's one of the finest poems ever put to paper, in my humble opinion.

3.  The college-aged woman at Mucho Gusto was kind, understanding, prompt in her response, and of generous and good humor as she cleaned up the half a glass of Pepsi I managed to knock off the table and spill all over the floor.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/11/11: I Kept My Shirt On, Herman's Back, Needling Herman

1.  I've got this MLA stuff to teach and it is dry as a dead dog's bones.  So, I try to enliven it with humor and try to make things melodramatic with the hope that my students will remember things.  Today I told both classes that I thought they would remember that in MLA format everything is double-spaced if I took my shirt off.  They decided that the thought of such a heinous thing was good enough.  I didn't need to do that.  One or two students, in fact, said something about barf bags.  Agreed.  I'm not Adonis.  More like a Haystack.

2.  Herman swung by in his wheelchair.  He's the toughest person I've ever known, I swear.  He's been in the hospital for many weeks over the last few months, always seems about ready to die, and then, lo and behold, he shows back up on campus, he's ready to help the special needs employees he assists with, ready to help with the union, and is always full of opinions, insights, news, views, and funny stories.  Herman hates Chip Kelley.  His rant was really funny.  So were his comments about his niece who is having a baby fathered by a Duck player.  For a guy who spends so much time in the hospital in his 70's, Herman sure knows a lot and no matter how run down he is, he always has great stories to tell.

3.  Herman wheeled away from my office and met Siskanna, via an introduction from MB, and Siskanna kindly said, "Nice to meet you."  I sealed my friendship with Herman forever when I sprang from my office chair, bolted into the hallway, and declared, "No it's not.  It's not nice to meet you Herman.  You be honest, Herman.  Admit it.  It's not nice to meet you."  He laughed as hard as his lousy health would allow and when he wheeled by my office about fifteen minutes later to leave our part of the building, we exchanged heartfelt best wishes to each other.  I'm always afraid when I see Herman and when we say, "See you later" , it will be the last time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/10/11: Poetry Joy, Making Hot Chicken, The Game

1.  Teaching poetry sends me into a dimension of excitement and joy I love.  Today, I tried to help my students hear and appreciate the music of Shakespeare's Sonnet #30 and tried to help them experience the bliss as James Wright's "A Blessing" reaches its joyous conclusion.  I fear I'm having a private experience of deep pleasure in front of the class and that I'm alone in it, but this fear doesn't stop me from experiencing it over and over and over again.  And then again and again.  I hope there are students who join me.

2.  I arrived home from school and started right in frying drumettes and getting Frank's hot sauce and butter going to take over to Russell and Anne's to accompany Anne's pizza while we watched Oregon play Auburn.

3.  I enjoyed watching the game with Russell, Anne, and (for the first half) the Deke.  I enjoyed the company more than the game and the game was pretty entertaining.  But I had more fun talking about it as it developed, talking about other stuff, and eating our game food than I did actually watching the game.  Emotionally, I was flat toward this game after waiting thirty-seven days for it to be played.  It was that simple.

Three Beautiful Things 01/09/11: Baptism, Kate at the Store, Spaghetti Sauce

1.  Among my favorite moments in church is when a person old enough to decide for herself is baptized.  Today I nearly lost it when the woman who was baptized turned to the congregation and spontaneous applause erupted.

2.  The Deke suddenly and unexpectedly requested spaghetti for dinner and asked that the sauce not be from a jar.  I was happy to comply and ran into Kate at the store and had a great time having a fun talk near the produce section.

3.  I made sauce from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  It was simple and worked beautifully.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/08/11: I'm in Charge, College Hill Photos, Best Burger in Fifty-Seven Years

1. Before shooting photos, Russell and I sat down at Yi Shen and I got a few things off my chest about how unfair I think it is that my place of employment offers too few sections of WR 121 and how I handle the demand for unenrolled students trying to get in the course.  I'm strict about unenrolled students.  They can't come in my classroom.  I tell them that however I decide to will get a seat, it will be unfair.  The whole situation is unfair so I can't pretend to be fair within it.  It's like I tell my students as I lay down how I will conduct class and present the course:  "I'm not a control freak.  I'm in charge."  Russell got a kick out of that.

2.  We went to the top of College Hill where the Eugene Water and Electric Board owns a large cement reservoir and where the neighborhood is nice to take pictures.  I left our time up there thinking I left a lot of pictures not shot and want to go back when the view of Spencers Butte is more promising.  I didn't take any shots of the Butte today.  Here are a couple shots.  In this first one, the subject of the picture is Russell.  He's the figure at the far right of the picture.  I'm experimenting with making existentialism visual.  (I'm always wanting to do this, by the way):


I got really interested (obsessed) with these red berries and took quite a few pictures of them.  Here's an example:



3.  The Deke and I ate the best hamburger each of us had ever had for dinner -- and they were homemade.  The Deke brought home LaBrea Ciabatta Rolls from the store and I toasted them, grilled two patties of Painted Hills hamburger on the George Foreman grill, and we each constructed our own burgers.  Mine featured bacon and sharp cheddar cheese and one of my mom's dill pickles, the Deke's sweet onion and dill pickle.  We rounded out our meal with scrumptious sweet potato fries. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/07/11: Doc, Porketta, Eagles

1.  Now that things are pretty steady in the world of my physical and mental health, I can enjoy my quarterly visits to Dr. Ghandour.  As looked over my numbers, almost everything confirmed that, yeah, I should be feeling pretty good.  I have chronic kidney disease so that will never change.  The hope is that my numbers remain at a certain baseline.  That's where they are.  Whenever I say anything about my health, it's in the context of my chronic illness and given that I am chronically ill, things look really good right now.

2.  The other day I picked up a 3.8 pound porketta, a cut of pork roast seasoned in an Italian fashion, cut and seasoned by Carlton Farms.  I'd never had porketta before.  I covered it with foil, put it in a roasting pan which I covered with foil and left in the oven at 350 degrees for nearly four hours.  The idea is to pull apart the pork, not slice it.  The result:  heavenly.  It might be the best pork I've eaten.  Carlton Farms seasoned this cut of pork beautifully and it fell apart magnificently. The Deke and I couldn't believe we were eating such good food in our own home and we have plenty left over for sandwiches or to reheat.  It was a glorious discovery for us and I'm hoping Carlton Farms porketta is available pretty regularly at the local stores that sell Carlton Farms meats.

3.  Whenever the Deke and I go to the Inland Empire together, we try to get off I-90 and take a spin through Cheney where the Deke earned her undergraduate degree at EWU and where she lived with her three children.  It was a challenging, difficult time and a time that the Deke and the kids hold dear.  For me, having all this family history, before I staggered into the scene,  tied up in EWU made the fact that the Eagles won the FCS national football championship a source of happiness.  I studied French for one summer term at EWU with Madame Siefert . . . so, I guess, in some small way,  I'm an Eagle, too!  Doesn't matter.  I love Eastern Washington and North Idaho and Western Montana and I love it when teams from my favorite region in the USA prevail.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/06/11: "Where's Olivia?", 3BT: In the Beginning, Diane Popped In

1.  I ambled into Billy Mac's to join friends for dinner.  When Allie saw me, he immediately asked his mother, Anne, "Where's Olivia?"  I assured him that Olivia was still wearing their go steady ring.

2.  Earlier in the day, Anne and I talked about the fact that she had posted her own version of Three Beautiful Things, but with some hesitation only because she didn't want me to think she was stealing my idea.  I then told her what I know of Clare and the origin of Three Beautiful Things at her blog.  Want to go there?  Just click here.

3.  I was relaxing online when suddenly Diane popped into my evening on Facebook chat and we began making plans for Diane and Eric and Patty and me and (maybe the Deke) to get together at Diane's for some food, drinks, stories, wise cracks, laughter, and music.  Much has happened in our lives since the last time Diane and Eric and I got together.  Remember?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/05/11: Goodbye Molly and Olivia, Intro to Poetry -- Day 2, Bert Blyleven Triggers a Sweet Memory

1.  If I had to perform the sad task of driving Olivia and Molly to the airport, then the best I could hope for is that everything went smoothly:  Olivia was fed, Molly was packed, we left the house on time, and got to the airport plenty early.  Check. Check. Check. Check.  Whew.  Molly and I embraced and climbed in my red Honda and she climbed aboard some kind of jet plane and I was off to LCC and she to Atlanta, GA.  And so was Olivia, blessedly too young to comprehend this separation.

2.  Very little poetry is abstract.  It creates pictures, appeals to the senses, brings us into an imagined realty.  The whisky on your breath/ Could make a small boy dizzy. . . a rambunctious moment between a hard-working father and his son? a moment of a boy being battered by his father?  Both?...We didn't settle it...never will...but I hope my students will remember that the poem is ambiguous not because of what's withheld, but because of all that is there.  I was really pumped after Day 2 of ENG 106:  Introduction to Poetry.

3.  I've been on the Bert Blyleven Hall of Fame bandwagon for quite a few years.  I  had the box score from game 5 of the 1979 World Series posted on my office bulletin board for years.  Jim Rooker started that game on short rest and was gassed after five innings.  Blyleven, unused to relief duty, on two days rest, after pitching six innings in Game 2, shut out the Orioles over four innings, and the Pirates, down three games to one entering Game 5, stayed alive in the Series, and went on to win it.  I marveled at Blyleven's performance as I watched it in 1979.  Having seen him gut out that game and help propel the Pirates' comeback makes me very happy that he was voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame today.  For the last several years, when the voting tally has been published, his has been the first name I've looked for.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/04/11: Jade Palace Take-Out, Classroom Television, My Sexy Voice

1.  I thought when I told Molly she could have anything she wanted for dinner on this, her last night of her five month stay with us, she would request that I cook something, like Buffalo wings.  Ha!  She did one better.  She asked for Jade Palace take out and it was superb.

2.  I'll try to recreate this scene:  in my 10:00 WR 121 classroom, off to the left and in front of the teacher's table, there's a television console about four and a half feet high.  It's kind of big.  A student of mine who goes from place to place on campus with a two wheeled cart to transport her books and stuff, had leaned her two-wheeler up against this television console in such a way it looked like the t.v. was the cart's freight.  I said to the student, and these were my first words in front of these new students, "You know, given where your cart is, it looks like you wheeled this television in here."  She and the students around her laughed heartily and then she said, "Well, you know, I just can't miss my soaps."  We all died laughing and a wonderful class session resulted.

3.  Jennifer at Dairy Mart, upon hearing me call out to the other cashier that I was buying an old-fashioned, said, "Doesn't he have a sexy voice?"  I love morning coffee and donuts at Dairy Mart!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/03/11: Intro to Poetry, Jeff and Louise, Pork and Apples

1.  No hidden meaning.  No message.  No reading between the lines.  The lines are a lot better.  The houses are haunted/By white night gowns.  Poetry is first and foremost music.  Introduction to Literature:  Poetry is underway.

2.  Louise is healing up after her heart surgery and when I gave Jeff a ride home today, he had a good report.  The best news is that he will stay with her at home all week and has fellow teachers stepping in to cover his classes.

3.  The Deke picked up three pork loins steaks for dinner.  My mission:  cook 'em.  I put potatoes in the oven to bake.  I chopped up an apple, put the pieces in a pan with heated, melted butter, and covered the apples with cinnamon and brown sugar.  The apples cooked slowly for about forty-five minutes -- the pork went on the George Foreman grill while the broccoli and cauliflower steamed in the microwave.  I poured the apples over the pork, served the potatoes and vegetables, and we enjoyed a simple and very tasty dinner together:  Molly, Olivia, the Deke, and I.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/02/11: The Cooler and Church, Fajita Surprise, Back to the U. of O.

1.  I almost never go to the bar before church, but the Troxstar and I wanted to watch the Pats and the Dolphins, the game was at 10:00, I read the Old Testament lesson at 11, so about 9:30, we drove to The Cooler.  No worries.  I had a ground round steak and eggs and hashbrowns and toast and a few cup of coffees and was sober as a lector when I read the beautiful passage from Jeremiah.  Fact is, I was sober all day long. 

2.  The Deke wanted a surprise for dinner.  She also wanted a dinner made from a recipe.  So I dove into the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and quickly found a quick simple and tasty sounding recipe for fajitas.  I'd never prepared fajitas before and it was a lot of fun.  Furthermore, the Deke, Molly, and Pat all were very happy with how they turned out.  Oh! The Deke was surprised.

3.  On Saturday, I took pictures on the University of Oregon campus and I realized, when I returned home, that I didn't have it straight in my mind which hall was Deady and which Villard.  So I went back to campus today under a cloudless January sky, with temperatures around 30 degrees, cold and comfortable, and got things straightened out.  It was a gorgeous little walk and a satisfying fact finding mission. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/01/11: New Photo Taking Friend, Deady Hall Seen Twice, Champagne of Bottle Beers

1.  Russell asked me if was all right if his friend, Sonie, joined us for our Saturday photo outing.  I said sure, not knowing that I would make a new friend and enjoy such delightful company.  I hope Sonie will be in town again before too very long and will join us once more.

2.  I spent quite a bit of time examining my pictures, which was really fun, especially since this was my first outing with my new Nikon D3100.  I like posting color and black and white photos of the same picture together.  Here's the same picture of Deady Hall on the University of Oregon campus, posted in color and in monochrome:





3.  Every once it a while the right mass produced USA lager hits the right spot at the right time and today, while having a burger at Dickie Joe's with Sonie and Russell, I ordered the Champagne of Bottle Beers, a Miller High Life.  I'd been hankering for a single bottle of the King of Beers.  Dickie Joe's didn't have any and so I settled for the Champagne of Bottle Beer and it turned out to please me very much.  Maybe more than the King would have.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/31/10 : George Foreman Redux, Helena!, Kellogg Calls, BONUS: Rocket Writes Touchingly

1.  I can't have enough George Foreman grill firsts:  first it was bacon, then it was pork chops, and today, today, yes, today it was bacon and THEN grilled cheese sandwiches with that bacon on them.

2.  My performance on the George Foreman grill was in support of a lunch visit from Chris and Melissa and their gorgeous baby daughter, Helena.  Helena is happy, growing beautifully, and a source of joy for her parents.  I've never been around so many babies in my whole life.

3.  I was relaxing, reading Snap Shots to Great Shots (we'll see) when Kellogg called.  Joni, Jake, Carol Lee, Sue, Stu, and Ed were all watching the Zags and having a few refreshments at Noah's Cantina and gave me a call and passed the phone around the table.   I wanted to be there, cracking wise, laughing, and telling tall tales. 

BONUS:  Rocket wrote a touching tribute to our college friendship and how we now have it again thanks to Facebook.  It's posted here, where Rocket writes beautifully about people lost and found in the year 2010.