Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/30/09: Blood Sugar Balance, April Fools in June, Separation Anxiety...

1. Dr. Andrew Elliott and I had a good talk about action to take to get my system recharged. I hope it'll work. I've been without a charge, without a spark too long and it's wearing me out.

2. The mail came. Neither of the checks I was expecting arrived. The mail came again. There were the checks.

3. I typed out instructions for the next door neighbors when they take care of Snug. I kept putting off writing these instructions because I don't really want to leave Snug....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/09: Front Page, I Can Be Useful, Love Dog Turns Nap Dog

1. I enjoyed that DFO over at HBO determined that a couple of my posts here in kelloggbloggin' merited the front page of his blog.

2. I am happy when I can be useful as a spouse. I felt useful when The Deke and Patrick called me from I-90 in eastern Montana or northeast Wyoming and asked me find them a motel room in Sheridan, WY. I did it. I felt useful.

3. Snug took long naps today, making me wonder if he was kind of pooped out after David and John's visit over the weekend. He received and gave a lot of love with those guys.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/09: Rare Photo, Deke's Kellogg Dream Comes True, Chocolate Longing

1. I rarely take pictures of people, but I managed to capture this moment between Snug and my brother-in-law David. I like it a lot.

2. The Deke called from Kellogg and the first leg of her drive with Patrick and the corgis seems to have gone well, although travel seems rough on the dogs.

3. I don't often have a yearning for chocolate cake and frosting, but I did tonight. I went to Market of Choice to pick up a few essentials..bread, coffee, kefir, fruit...and I also bought a generous slice of chocolate cake. Eating it at home satisfied my longing for cake and I doubt I'll have another one, not for quite a while.

Why Did it Take Me So Long to Get Lenient? #2 Update

I recently posted that the insurance company delayed its payment for my prescription for Vancomycin. I wrote I would be lenient, not passive, patient, not pushy.

The payment was made to Broadway Apothecary on Friday afternoon and I will be getting a check from them this week. The insurance covered 98% of the medicine's cost.

Leniency was easier for me than going ballistic with someone on the phone. Or ragging on the apothecary.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/09: Dream Killer, Snug Stars as Ghandi, Nuke the C-Diff

1. David and I went back and forth about our weird dreams. He ran through snow and had another dream about running. I dreamed about being on a jury and receiving a death threat from an associate of the defendant and tried to wake myself up. I hated the pressure of having a death threat against me and the longer the dream lasted the more paranoid I became.

2. John, David's brother-in-law, arrived this afternoon and Snug was all loving and cuddly with him. What a relief! Snug occasionally is aggressive with strangers, but with both David and John he has welcomed them, pressed against them, sat on the couch with them as if they were best friends.

3. The symptoms and indignities of c-diff are definitely waning and I'm being optimistic that the new antibiotic along with the increased probiotics,in my food and in capsules, and the homeopathic remedy I've started are working in concert to relieve me of the stubborn malady.

Why Did it Take Me So Long to Get Lenient? #2

Some kind of sand in the gears delay is underway between Broadway Apothecary, the insurance company, and Oregon Medical Group that has delayed the insurance company's payment for its part of the 250 dollar handcrafted antibiotic prescribed for me by Dr. Ghandour. I had to get going on the antibiotic, so I paid for it. In full. I will seek resolution starting Monday and try to get to the bottom of the delays. Being lenient isn't being passive. It's more about being patient with the fact that things don't always go smoothly and I don't always get my way right away.

We'll see how this all works out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/09: Junior Troxstar Drives, Comfortable Conversation, Return of the Weber

1. Morning struggles with c-diff knocking me out. I don't like that. The sleep, however, was blissful and I had this great dream about going to a rock concert with the Troxstar and afterward, when I was too tired to drive, he took over and sat his son Evan between himself and the steering wheel and Evan got to steer the car down while we made our way down the highway. The Troxstar took over, however, when the road was suddenly littered with blown out rubber tires.

2. The back yard was cool, a light breeze, and I enjoyed talking with David about where his Harley travels will take him when he leaves Eugene.

3. We haven't fired up the Weber for what seems to me like years. Patrick fired it up tonight and threw some pork chops that The Deke had marinated and it was a terrific dinner. I'll have to see to it that we fire up the grill more often!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/09: Snug the Comforter, Deliverance, Industrious Apothecary

1. I'm not always sure how Snug will react to a stranger visiting. David arrived last night and, for Snug, it was love at first sight and he has sat with David, licked him, pressed against him, and, I think, comforted him over the last 24 hours. My heart swells with happiness.

2. Dr. Andrew Elliott, ND, is intelligent, insightful, perceptive, pragmatic, and a pleasure to visit. I left my appointment today feeling confident that the conventional treatment I've received has been very good and that his approach to supplementing antibiotics with probiotics might finally deliver me from the c-diff mess I've been in.

3. I visited Broadway Apothecary for the first time today. The atmosphere of industry, professionalism, and production impressed me deeply. I'm looking forward to the insurance decision to come through so I can take the hand-crafted antibiotic Dr. Ghandour prescribed for me through Broadway Apothecary.

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/09: Welcoming David, Aches Gone, Support

1. David arrived safely.

2. By early evening, the c-diff's powers seemed to be waning. Early to bed. We'll see about tomorrow.

3. I've appreciated very much the good wishes and support from friends as my health switch goes on and off. It's been almost three months now of either being sick or feeling better and suddenly having the illness return again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/09: Clearance, Snug Is My Magnet and I Am His Steel, Travels with Harley

1. Over the last several weeks of being sick, my desk got piled up with all kinds of papers, compact discs, DVD's, electronic apparatus, and I got it cleared off and found a couple of things I really hoped I hadn't lost!

2. Illness returned all of sudden about 2 in the afternoon. Snug seemed to sense something wasn't right with me. He became a comforting magnet and pressed against me all afternoon and through the night. I thanked him and pet him profusely. He's been just what I've needed as this episode of c-diff (I think) runs its course.

3. Good news! David, the Deke's brother, is within striking distance of Eugene and should roll in on his Harley around 6 o'clock on the 24th.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/09: Yes -- I Waffle, Snug in Good Hands, Supermarket Nephrology

Photo by Zoe

1. Brunch at Zoe's for some waffles with berries and yogurt, as well as homemade berry syrup, and a few strong cups of coffee. Once again, I get together with a friend and, voila!, the world's problems are solved.

2. Snug will be well cared for thanks to our next door neighbors. What a profound relief.

3. It was fun running into my kidney doctor at the store, listening to him talk about taking his kids to South Carolina to see his mother, and getting strong encouragement to keep pounding down those probiotics!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sibling Assignment # 102: Tuna Fish Torpedoes

InlandEmpireGirl gave the sibling assignment this week.
In honor of Father's Day I asked my siblings to remember a time that our father made them proud.
You can read about InlandEmpireGirl's times with Dad at Father/Daughter banquets, here. Silver Valley Girl promises she will post her piece before long, but it's not easy getting a melodrama ready for staging.

I might have some things mixed up in this story, but I do believe the essential truth will be present.

When I was in the first grade at Silver King Elementary school, an unusual storm came through the Silver Valley.

It started and continued as a huge dust storm, and a rain storm joined the dust storm and it rained mud.

Mom and I got in her car to leave the teachers' parking lot on the east side of the school, and one of the bus drivers/mechanics hosed the mud off Mom's car as we passed the north entrance near the gymnasium.

Driving was dangerous. We made it home and we were late because for a while a drivers advisory kept Mom off the roads.

Dad, however, arrived home and he took it upon himself to fix dinner.

Dad never fixed dinner.

But, somewhere, Dad had found a recipe for a meal called "Tuna Fish Torpedoes". I can't remember exactly what, say, made a Tuna Fish Torpedo different from a tuna fish sandwich, but something was different between them. Maybe the Tuna Fish Torpedo was served on a torpedo shaped French roll.

What I do remember, though, is that the Tuna Fish Torpedo was a huge failure as a meal. Dad did something so wrong that Tuna Fish Torpedo became a phrase in our family for a meal or anything else that got screwed up.

Dad was the butt of a lot of Tuna Fish Torpedo jokes.

But, here's the deal. Mom needed Dad's help that night. Dad gave the Tuna Fish Torpedoes his best shot. I remember how earnestly he tried to assemble them, tried to do right by the Tuna Fish Torpedoes.

I was really young, but I think I understood the situation. Dad was trying to do something he wasn't very good at in order to make life easier for Mom and better for our family.

It didn't matter to me that he failed.

I was very proud of him, not for his success, but for his genuine effort.

Dad didn't try dinner preparation much after that.

But, when the Bunker Hill shut down in 1982-3, he retired at the tender age of 52 and he took up cooking. For a while there, Dad created some pretty good dishes in the kitchen and took pride in his new found talent.

But, I must admit, I never felt as proud of my dad for his later culinary successes as I did for the way he spectacularly failed in his attempt to make Tuna Fish Torpedoes.

Seeing Friends from Kellogg

In the last several years, I've learned about a saying that I think comes from the Appalachia. It's a warning: "Don't get above your raisin'".

Understood strictly, "Don't get above your raisin'" means stay where you were raised. Don't leave. Stay where your roots are. You belong where your people are. In come communities, to get above your raisin' is a sin against God. It's an act of pride, of trying to be different than you were created to be, and is an affront to God's plan for your life. Individual striving is not to be trusted, especially if it means turning your back on your family or your community.

Understood more generally, "Don't get above your raisin'" means go ahead and strive to succeed in the outside world, but don't put on airs, don't get to thinking you are better than where you came from, don't get pretentious, and don't get snobby.

Until I learned the phrase "Don't get above your raisin'", my way of saying the same things was, "Don't start thinkin' you're hot shit."

When my dad ran into someone who left Kellogg and returned and had got above their raisin', he'd say about that the pretentious guy thought his shit didn't stink.

My friend Ed puts it succinctly: "He's arrogant."

I've just spent the weekend with about ten friends I grew up with and/or went to high school with in Kellogg.

In terms of employment, I suppose it could be said that several of us got above our raisin'. Most of us are working in jobs that are more lucrative than what we could do in Kellogg.

But none of us have forgotten where we came from and how hard how mothers and fathers worked in Kellogg and how hard we worked and work in Kellogg to make what we presently do possible.

It's humbling. We know our own hard work and that of our parents has been rewarded. It's been possible to go on cruises or get into a mortgage or raise children who were not deprived; each in our own way, we've had it pretty good.

But, what I felt this weekend, as we told stories, got caught up, laughed, ate delicious food, shared memories, and told each other things about ourselves others never knew happened...what I felt was the humbleness that comes with the unspoken knowledge that where we came from was coarse, wild, hard, dirty, demanding, and, at times, lawless while at the same time full of vigor, mirth, laughter, tall tales, hard drinking, hard work, a lot of worship and prayer, and deep feeling for others.

Danger and death were always present: logging in the woods, floods and fires, mining accidents, hunting mishaps, car wrecks, fights, accidents in the Bunker Hill plants, not to mention breathing the toxic air.

Hard work, sacrifice, danger, and death: they keep a person humble.

How could a person grow up in this place and think they're hot shit?

How could a person grow up here and think their shit doesn't stink?

How could a person come out of the woods or the zinc plant or the smelter or a mine or see their fathers do the same or see their mothers worry every day that their husbands would come home safely and be arrogant?

Some have. Some Kellogg natives got above their raisin' and left Kellogg and looked down their nose at their raisin' and have scoffed at the very roots and communal identity that shaped their youth.

But the people I laughed with, ate with, embraced, shared stories with, and relaxed with this weekend have never got above their raisin'; we've stayed close to the values we grew up; some of us have remained raw, coarse, and vulgar; others are more refined; we've all stayed humble, loving, and respectful.

Our reward for not gettin' above our raisin'?





Good times.

Deep regard.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/19-21/09: Birthday Dance, At Peace, Mirthful Din

1. Diane dancing to Dave Matthews within seconds after midnight as her 55th birthday officially began.

2. Getting every last world problem solved with Ed as we drove from Vancouver, WA to Spirit Mountain and back. I'm at peace. Everything that matters in the world is under control now that Ed and I figured it all out.

3. The mild roar of animated conversation Saturday evening as long (long)-time friends from Kellogg ate divinely BBQ'd tri trip steak and told tall tales, filled in one another's history, made countless wise cracks, and filled Diane's house with love and mutual high regard.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Illness

Illness changes how I move in the world and how my mind works.

When I'm in good health, I have a variety of ways to measure time. Sometimes I measure time by how many papers I have to read and grade.

Other times I measure time by how much money is left in my bank while playing slot machines.

I measure time by when I meet class, what I can expect to accomplish in a two hour class meeting; I measure time by the length of movies, pages in a book, the Bejeweled Blitz clock, when to feed the dogs.

When healthy, the ways of measuring time are endless.

When I'm sick, though, time gets measured in ways directly related to the illness.

How many times did I vomit in the last 24 hours?

How about visits to the thunder jug? Every hour? Two hours? Am I going more frequently? Less?

Be sure to take your blood pressure at the same time every day.

Take Flagyl three times a day.

Florastor twice.

Lisinopril once.

Tryliptol twice.

It's time to draw blood again.

It's time for another X-ray.

Time is measured by physical energy.

How long can you walk before getting winded? Two minutes? Five? Twenty?

How many hours did you sleep today?

The calendar is defined by illness: you've been sick since April 2nd? For two weeks? Four weeks? The whole spring quarter? 8o days? That's two Lents, man.

How soon do the doctors think you'll be recovered? I wish you a speedy recovery. I hope you are up and at them in no time.

You are still sick? How long's it been?

There's nothing wrong with the way time gets measured in terms of illness when I'm sick.

It's simply illustrative of how a continuing illness comes to dominate everything.

My self-identity over the last two and half month has been anchored in sickness. Who I am, what I can do, what I can plan on, how I regard myself, how others regard me, think about me, say to me: it's almost all been shaped by being sick.

Success is measured in different ways. Gone are the professional measures of conducting a stimulating class meeting or the personal measures of listening to others or turning a good deed.

In their stead are measures like whether my fever came down or whether I was able to keep my dinner down or if I was less winded after the 4 o'clock visit to the bathroom than I was at 2 o'clock.

It reminds me of how happy my mom and I were in the last days of Dad's life when he finished eating a Popsicle. To us, Dad enjoying a Popsicle constituted a huge success.

A phone call:
-How's Pert doing?
-Great! He ate a Popsicle today!
-That's wonderful! He must be feeling a little better!
-Yeah! He sat up and everything.

My sense of reality has been so defined by sickness that I have wondered if it's the only way to experience things.

In fact, I've wondered if my condition of being sick is actually what it feels like to be healthy.

Illness exacerbates self-doubt.

Am I faking it? Am I really healthy? Am I just weak? Why do my friends tell me I'm looking good? I feel weak, worn out. Shouldn't I feel as good as I look? What's wrong with me?

So much in my life gets measured by productivity, especially in my profession where workload is determined by how many hours I'm in the classroom, how many hours I spend preparing for classes, how many essays I assign, how long it takes to read those essays, and how much time I spend in service to the operation of the college, through committee assignments, meetings, and as an adviser for different student activities.

Being sick erases this productivity. It erases many of the standards by which I measure my worth as a person and a professional.

It compromises financial responsibility. I was late paying some bills. I was too sick to do our taxes.

Illness breeds anxiety.

For a while, I couldn't do anything to help around the house.

Fortunately, for a couple of weeks or more, friends brought meals over, helping relieve the Deke of the overwhelming task of teaching fourth graders all day, coming home to a sick husband, and having little or no help with tasks around the house or taking care of the dogs.

Above all, illness is contagious. Yes, in a physical sense, but even more so in an emotional or spiritual way. My illness has exhausted the Deke. It has depleted our home of joy. While I've been ill, a pall has hung over our home life.

This has been true when I've suffered my worst bouts of mental illness/depression and has been true as I've been sick with pneumonia and three bouts with c-diff.

Our assumptions regarding how to live well, how to relate to each other, how to perceive and understand the world around us, and how to properly do our work are all centered around being healthy.

Illness erodes these assumptions and we are often ill-equipped to deal with the feelings, perceptions, and other realities that take their place when sickness settles in.

Having health restored is more than feeling better.

It means having the many dimensions and assumptions of one's world, of reality itself, back again.

Annulment Dream

In my dream Wednesday night, I was at my first wife, Eileen's, parents' house for dinner. Eileen was there. We had become good friends and sitting at dinner with her parents was relaxed, easy.

(In my waking life, Eileen and I have had no contact for twenty-three years.)

Preparing to dig into our meal, Eileen's husband's parents arrived. They didn't know who I was. They didn't know I would be there. Eileen's father leaned into the ear of Eileen's father-in-law and Eileen's mother did the same to her counterpart and whispered that I was Eileen's first husband.

The garage was right off Eileen's parents' kitchen. With a quick jerk of the head, Eileen's father-in-law invited me to leave the table and go to the garage.

He turned on me: "You know the Roman Catholic church annulled your marriage to Eileen. How dare you present yourself as her first husband! The Church has ruled. You were never married! Leave! You have no business eating a meal with my son's wife, with her parents, or with my wife and me. In the Church's eyes you have been erased. I mean it. Leave! You are an insult to our meal."

I returned to the dinner table. Eileen was on the phone explaining to her husband that I was having dinner with her family and his. Her voice was calm, informative.

I left.

The dream ended.

In the waking world, Eileen and I separated in 1981, divorced in '82, and our marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic Church in 1984, making it possible for Eileen, a new convert to Catholicism, and her Roman Catholic fiancee to marry one another.

This all happened twenty-five years ago.

These events tore me up. I've never fully recovered, never fully healed, never really forgiven myself for being the man I am, a man Eileen could no longer endure as a husband, a man she never wanted to speak to or hear from again.

It's all here in this dream.

The first part of the dream is really a wish. I wished, naively, and that wish is still living in the subterranean world of my imagination and dreams, that I could one day be friendly with Eileen and her family.

In my dream, this happened, without strain, until Eileen's in-laws arrived.

They arrived and the secret was out. I was there. I was the first husband (or "husband") who was not spoken of, a stranger to Eileen's new married life. But, here I was, a shock to Eileen's family's guests.

As Eileen's father-in-law lectured me, hectored me about the authority of the Church, about its authority to erase history, to make a real flesh and blood marriage non-existent, my wishes died.

My dream for reconciliation was killed in my dream.

Wednesday night's dream re-enacted the annulment.

I don't know why on the night of June 17th I needed a reminder that the Roman Catholic Church erased my first marriage and all that it stood for.

I know that.

Except, the longing, shame, misery, pleasant memories, disillusion, guilt, sensations of pleasure, and memories of travel, moving, meals, movies, shopping, birthdays, holidays, old friends, flowers, cats, studies, accomplishments, music, concerts, worship, long discussions, experiments, explorations, new awareness, and poems, plays, and books cannot be annulled.

I don't think the father-in-law understood that when he kicked me out of Eileen's parents' house.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/09: Robbin' Uncle Bunker, Tales of Leniency, Car Bath

1. Stu called and we laughed about the time he called me in London from the Smelter gate house on Bunker Hill's dime.

2. I've decided to write in this blog about incidents when I'm lenient and am acting in accord with the developing ethic of leniency I've been developing for several years. You can read my first micro-story of lenience, here.

3. My Honda is clean, inside and out. It'll be even more fun to drive to Vancouver, WA tomorrow, scurry down to Spirit Mountain, and come back to Diane's for a BBQ with life-long friends from Kellogg knowing that the Honda, while a 16 year old car, is looking pretty spiffy.

Why Did it Take Me So Long to Get Lenient? #1

When I find Gerald Stern's collection of poems entitled Bread Without Sugar, I'll copy out the poem "Her Right Eye Catches Lavendar". From that poem comes the line, "Why did it take me so long to get lenient?"

I first encountered this poem about fifteen years ago and this one line won't let go of me.

Leniency has become a central ethic of mine, and I know I am not at my best when I act in ways contrary to it.

From time to time, in this blog, I'll write about small incidents where I was lenient.

For the interested, my hope is the illustrations will help you understand this principle.

Today I went to the taqueria inside Plaza Latina Supermarket.

I order a regular burrito with pork, a side of beans and rice, and a soda.

I picked up my order, sat down to begin eating it. I needed a knife and fork and when I went to the counter to pick them up, the woman working the counter said:

"Didn't you order two burritos?"

"No. I ordered one."

"Oh. I charged you for two. Do you still have your receipt?"

I dug it out of my pocket and, sure enough, she charged me for two burritos.

I replied, "I'll take the other burrito home. I'll bet I'd like to have another burrito today."

"Are you sure?"


She smiled broadly.

Typhoon Hiccups

It's like that idea in chaos theory that one butterfly flapping its wings could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events, like causing a typhoon on the other side of the world.

Only for me, it wasn't a butterfly beating its wings.

It was the hiccups.

Back on April 1st, I stopped at Wendy's after teaching my evening WR 122 class and picked up a quarter pounder, fries, and a Diet Pepsi.

The meal gave me the hiccups.

I didn't think much of it. The hiccups lasted about twenty-five minutes, but subsided.

The next morning I taught my 8:00 and then my 10:00 classes.

I was feeling a little funky, slightly fatigued, lacking focus. I released my 10:00 students early, unable to sustain a class for an hour and fifty minutes.

Soon after the students left, the hiccups returned. I hiccupped all through a conversation with Cheri, editor of the college's literary magazine, Denali. cnversation.

The hiccups intensified while I had coffee with Karen, a Facebook friend.

I arrived home. The hiccups were three hours old. I ate spoonfuls of peanut butter, swallowed sugar, drank several glasses of water, held my breath, drank squirts of RealLemon from the plastic lemon, and tried other hiccup remedies I learned online.

No luck.

The hiccups were six hours old at 5:30.

I put the one sure cure into action: I made myself vomit.

The hiccups left.

They came back.

I made myself vomit.

They left.

They came back.

The hiccup and vomit, leaving and returning cycle lasted all through Thursday night, all day and night Friday, and finally ended Saturday when Debbie brought home a homeopathic remedy.

The hiccups and throwing up had ravaged me.

I was a wreck.

My voice was nearly shot. I had a terrible cough. I was exhausted.

Pneumonia had settled into my lungs, in multiple places.

I've never understood if the developing pneumonia caused the hiccups or if the hiccups and vomiting caused the pneumonia, or both.

Whatever the case, it was early April and I was about to be ill for the next 75-80 days.

It all started, like the beating of a butterflies wings eventually leading to a typhoon, with single hiccup.

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/09: Endurance, World Problems Solved, Dreamin' Katrina

1. Snug and I went for a walk on the Rexius trail. I wanted him tired for his grooming and I wanted to see if I felt as well after a long walk as I do when just puttering around the house. It worked. Snug was great at the groomer and I felt great after walking for about a mile and an hour or so. This is very encouraging.

2. Michael, Margaret, Jeff, and I ranted, laughed, cursed, told stories, recounted movies, asserted world views, bitched, complimented, praised, and got, by turns, agitated and relaxed over coffee late this afternoon. We have so much fun.

3. I had a mirthful dream just before waking up in which Katrina (Notes on a Napkin) and I were team teachers in a college level Christian Fiction course. The class was overenrolled, we were blown away by the interest, and we started class with a study of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/09: Radio Star, Gratitude, Time Gets Chewed

1. It took some patience, but I'm happy to say that the radio star high above Eugene is transmitting an XM radio signal into the new receiver in the Subaru.

2. I told Allan at the Stereo Store that it looked to me like he had three jobs. He was answering phones, helping customer face to face, and sorting out the store's inventory. He seemed pleased I noticed and shook my hand when we completed our transaction.

3. I discovered Farkle. It's fun. Holy cow, though, time flies when I roll those dice.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/09: Couch Coma, Gratitude and Grace, Let's Get Lenient

1. I was going strong this morning when I suddenly hit the wall and fell into a bottomless sleep, made immensely enjoyable by lying down on our new couch and indulging its comforts.

2. One of my former students graduated this weekend from the U of O and sent me a Euphoria chocolate bar in thanks for our work together. She didn't put enough postage on the envelope and the mail carrier waved off the fee. So much goodness.

3. My favorite lines from Gerald Stern's poem "Her Right Eye Catches the Lavender": "Why did it take so long / for me to get lenient"? These lines have been echoing in my head all day today, telling me that I've found the central focus for my work at the writing retreat in July. Imagine how much fuller and richer the world of writing would be if writers were lenient with themselves instead of so brutally demanding and self-critical.


Here's a summation of what's been ailing me for the last six weeks, off and on.

C.Diff. (also known as Clostridium Difficile Colitis,

Antibiotic-Associated Colitis, or C. Difficile) is a bacteria that

lives in the intestine. Normally, healthy and ill people alike have

millions of bacteria residing in their intestines, some helpful and

some potentially harmful.

“Clostridium difficile is a "bad" bacteria. Fortunately, when you are

healthy and not taking antibiotics, the millions of good bacteria in

your system keep the c - diff under control and in smaller numbers.

However, when you take an antibiotic, the levels of good bacteria are

reduced down to a smaller number. If your c-diff is strong and

doesn't get killed by the antibiotic along with the good bacteria,

then it is possible that the c-diff will overpopulate inside your

intestine or colon. When this happens, you may get the illness

called clostridium difficile colitis.

“When you have an imbalance of bacteria and c-diff takes over, it

creates two main types of toxins that affect your body and give you

the symptoms of the actual disease. The toxins attack your intestinal

wall and left untreated may cause ulcerations. Your symptoms may

include diarrhea and cramping at first. The later stages are

commonly flu-like symptoms of weakness, dehydration, fever, nausea,

vomiting and in advanced stages - blood in your stool / feces

“Antibiotic usage is usually the initial cause of developing this

disease. Additionally, antibiotics are usually the cause of recurrent

cases of c-diff. Ironically - two very powerful antibiotics are used

to primarily treat the disease!”

You can read more about C.Diff, diagnosis, treatment and alternate

treatments at the C.Difficile Colitis Support Group


And their main page is here:


Three Beautiful Things 06/14/09: A Deep Drive...,Alive!, Wanna Dance?

1. I was jazzed when Ed called today to tell me his morning coffee buddy Dave is from Lake Oswego and that Dave and I played American Legion baseball against each other. We not only played against each other, but in an email Dave sent to me a while after Ed called, he recalled that the home run he smashed against us at Lake Oswego was the longest homer he ever hit. I relish these connections through this blog.

2. Leapin' lizards. I had a whole day of feeling good today. Could I actually be coming around. Might I be heading toward regaining strength and having some endurance? I hope so.

3. Sturt called to check up on my health this morning and we talked for a while about what girls we asked to dance with us at dances during high school when the live band covered Led Zeppelin's "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)".

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/09: Third Diploma, C-Diff Retreat, A Living Room!

Patrick in Cap and Gown,
Diploma in Hand

Patrick and His Beaming, Proud Mom

1. Patrick arrived back home this afternoon, having walked through commencement at Oregon State University, and set his three diplomas on the piano. He is now a graduate of South Eugene High School, Lane Community College, and Oregon State University.

2. For a day and a half I suffered through the various indignities of the return of c-diff, but today things settled down and it feels like this latest episode is over. I'll keep pounding the Flagyl, yogurt, kefir, probiotic pickles and sauerkraut, and the Florastor.

3. Our new and puffy couch and puffy chair arrived yesterday and it felt so good to have Patrick, the Deke, Mary F., the dogs, and I all seated comfortably in the living room, a space that has seen way too little comfortable, communal action over the last many months.

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/09: Restorative Sleep, Wonderful Friends, Gratitude

1. Lengthy periods of sleep today while my system fights off the C-Diff.

2. Thoughtful expressions of support and suggestions for how to care for myself have come my way via my blog and Facebook. I appreciate these thoughts and ideas a lot.

3. I received an email of gratitude today from one of my students. The Lane Community College's highly competitive nursing program accepted her and I couldn't be happier for her. I'm happy, too, that she felt I played a role in her success.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/09: C-diff Back, Excellence, Finished

1. It's not beautiful, but if truth is beauty, it's true: I jumped the gun in my last 3bt when I bade C-diff goodbye. It's back. If it's not C-diff, it's a very good imitation. I'm discouraged.

2. Earlier today I went to the dentist for a couple of small jobs. No Novocaine. I thought as the doctor worked on the two teeth: he's really good. Careful. Deliberate. In charge. Efficient. Visiting his office makes going to the dentist a pleasure and I never dreamed I'd ever say that.

3. The house is painted. When I get to feeling better, I'll post pictures. I'm really happy it's finished.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sibling Assignment # 101: US Route 101 to Carter Lake

I gave the assignment for our 101st piece of writing. Here it is:

Let's focus on US Route 101, the north/south route running from Olympia/Port Angeles to Los Angeles. Read more about the highway, here. We've all traveled different sections of this famous highway. Write about a specific experience you enjoyed or survived on U.S. Route 101.

You'll find Silver Valley Girl's 2002 travelogue here and I'll post InlandEmpireGirl's piece as soon as it's ready.

For years, driving from Eugene to U.S Route 101 in Florence met an automatic right turn, north, to Heceta Beach, the Hobbit Trail, Yachats, Newport, or up to Lincoln City.

But, about fifteen years ago, my involvement in a couple of Sierra Club outings and in a cross disciplinary program at LCC that included marine biology, got me turning south at Florence.

I discovered the Oregon Dunes country.

August of 1996 was oppressively hot in Eugene. I was enduring it, but I was in a serious relationship with Helen, and she was wilting.

She mandated that we go to the coast. Immediately, I figured we'd go north of Florence, but I was wrong.

Helen loved the campground at Carter Lake, south of Florence, in the middle of the dunes.

As it turns out, my insecurities about this relationship began to surface on this camping trip and I hate myself for that. This trip marked the beginning of the end of our relationship. Going to Carter Lake stirs up my regret and self-loathing.

Luckily, though Carter Lake and the Taylor Dunes are so resplendent in natural diversity that its wonders transport me out of my past regrets and lock me into the beauty of the present.

The Taylor Dunes hiking trail, near the campground, a gentle walk, features a variety of conifer trees and huge ferns and flirtatious glimpses of Carter Lake itself, a modest seaside lake.

Soon the forest land ends, and a panorama of sand, tall grasses, scrub trees, various flowers, and finally the ocean opens up and the dunes invite visitors to trudge over sand hillocks and through oceanside vegetation toward the expansive beach, littered with driftwood and shells, and the wonders of the Pacific Ocean.

Snug and I visited Carter Lake last summer. Here are some of the pictures I brought home. Go here, to my Flickr page, if you'd like to see a lot more photographs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/09: Bye, Bye C-Diff, Touch of Gray, Sharp Dressed Burger

1. Back to Dr. Ghandour today. We are cautiously optimistic that the Clostridium Difficile (C-Diff) is, if not gone, very close; nonetheless, he prescribed medicine to use and orders to the lab for testing should the dreaded C-diff come roaring back again. I hope I see nothing but c-diff's tail lights from this point forward.

2. I like how the shades of gray on the porch and the trim work with the white of the house. I think our house is looking a lot better. I think tomorrow will be the painters' last day at work: pictures then.

3. I got a little extravagent with my hamburger tonight and melted two year old Vermont sharp cheddar cheese on the patty: that burger owned (pwned) me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/09: Blueberry Doughy, Cleaned and Polished, Photo Surprises

1. Back in 1985, 86, on into 87 I frequented the Keystone Cafe on 5th and Lawrence a few times a week. Today I ate breakfast at the Keystone for the first time in, oh, I'd say at least ten years. The old place has been favorably spiffed up a bit, the counter seating reduced, and the menu is very much the same. I ordered an old favorite: oatmeal sesame pancake with blueberries and pure maple syrup. A new cook prepared my pancake and undercooked it. The pancake was edible, but a doughy, not as good as it could have been. The cafe owner only charged me half and explained that the cook was learning his way with pancakes. I'll go back. I love the oatmeal sesame blueberry pancake so much that I want to come back and have one cooked up right.

2. Chris, the dental hygienist, kept asking me today if I was okay and apologized for how long it was taking to get a full range of X-rays done. Finally, I told her that as an old codger I'd been going to the dentist for fifty years now and that contemporary dentistry is such an improvementn over what I endured fifty years ago that I enjoyed having dental work done. It's true. My visits to the dentist are pleasant and painless. I'm staggered by how little I dread going to the dentist after years of fear and trembling in my youth.

3. I continue to organize, file, and label photographs and was especially happy with this picture of my mother, taken Thanksgiving morning, 2008, at my sister's house.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/09: Travels with Snuggy, Bruges Brutality, Ice Cream

1. Snug and I took a drive out Bailey Hill, connected with the Loraine Highway, and returned to Eugene via Fox Hollow Road. The sun was setting and the roads were often shaded. Very relaxing.

2. I found "In Bruges" a scintillating cocktail of existential, Roman Catholic-tinged philosophical and theologican examination, brutal hit man violence, superb acting, and reckless humor, much of it very dark.

3. Peaches and strawberries over vanilla ice cream. Refreshing. Sweet.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/09: Crying Inwardly for Father, Wetland Pix, Forever Nineteen Years Old

1. We learned from his sermon today that when Father Ted, as a little boy, got lost at the Fair after riding the carousel, he eventually ran into his father who took Ted into his arms. Ted's feelings as a lost child in deep need of being found perfectly illustrate two of Paul's most tender words in the Letter to the Romans: "Abba, Father!"

2. Russell and I went on a photo outing to the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area where the air was cool, the clouds dramatically blue and gray, and the photographic subject matter bountiful.

3. I found "Anvil" an insightful study of arrested development, sometimes humorous, but most often painful. It reminded me of the documentary "American Movie".

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/09: Paint, Holding Up, Raymond Carver Minimalist Burger

1. The new colors of our house are starting to emerge. I think it'll work.

2. My first long drive since March: Snug and I went to Florence, walked, and I played (badly) some slots and we came home. I held up great. Going over, I thought I felt some fatigue setting in, but it lifted...and the driving and walking energized me.

3. I have been craving hamburgers and tonight I did it my way. Simple. Patty seasoned with garlic granules and pepper fried in a pan with Sesame bun toasted on top of the toaster, Bubbie's dill pickles (with live culture) sliced as circles, placed on each bun half, and ketchup and yellow mustard. Simple. Burger, pickle, yellow mustard and ketchup. No American cheese, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, or Provlone cheese; no lettuce, onion, tomato, mayonnaise, or bleu cheese; no bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, Dijon mustard, relish, chili, fried egg, special sauce. Nope. None of that. Just a seasoned patty, toasted bun, dill pickle, ketchup, and mustard. Holy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 06/05/09: W Was Finger Lickin' Good, Paint Scrapes, Stronger and Better

1. After watching the movie "W" last night, it was on my mind today. Josh Brolin is a superb actor. No one plays scenes while eating and talking with his mouth full and sucking and licking his fingers while getting ready to sign off on torture than Josh Brolin.

2. Scraping and sanding and masking windows: the painters are making great progress.

3. I will never again know what's called "full health", but is it possible, after two months of illness, that I am getting closer to the full bloom of the best I can be, given the compromised nature of my health? I'm feeling better and stronger.

Three Beautiful Things 06/04/09: Jack Robinson: RIP, Pat's Insurance, Vanilla? Bland? Go Away!

1. Jeff Robinson's dad, Jack, and my dad were lifelong friends. Jeff is the managing editor of the Ellensburg Daily Record. Today is the anniversary of his father's death in 1986. Inspired by what I wrote about my dad on the anniversary of his death, Jeff wrote a column for the Daily Record in memory of his dad. I'll post it at the bottom of this post.

2. I've arrived at a decision regarding what plan to buy for Patrick so he has health insurance.

3. Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream: no syrup, no fruit, nothin'. Just ice cream, kind of soft and oh so satisfying.

Jeff Robinson's tribute to Jack Robinson:

It was 23 years ago today that my dad died.

Seems like only yesterday.

I wasn’t quite 21 when the world I knew changed forever.

Dad was 56 at the time and for much of my life we didn’t see eye-to-eye.

In his youth he was a drinker, a gambler and a barroom brawler and, still today, if you wander into the right bars in the panhandle of Idaho you might just know someone who remembers Jack Robinson.

Some remember how big a man he was. Six-foot-2 and broad shouldered with fists like anvils, he made an impression when he walked in the room, standing half a head taller than most of his peers.

Some remember his kindness, how he would do anything to help a friend in need.

Others remember his nearly all-consuming passion for fishing and how few could match his prowess on the north fork of Coeur d’Alene River.

My conflicted memories swirl about inside my head.

I was proud of my dad for being tough, except when his anger and aggression erupted at his children.

I was proud of my dad for his work ethic, which thankfully he passed on to all of his children.

But, too many times when he was alive I felt myself embarrassed by his fondness for the bar and his penchant for parking our bright red truck directly in front of it.

Kellogg, Idaho, in the 1970s was certainly a different time and place. It was a place with few comparisons, where the reality was often so outlandish that it’s almost unbelievable to those who didn’t experience it.

It was a tough place, a place where I spent fourth grade sporting either a fat lip, a bloody nose or both — every day. OK, maybe there were a couple days where I escaped unscathed, but there weren’t many — at least not that year.

If Kellogg was a harsh place when I was growing up, I can’t imagine what it was like in the ’30s and ’40s when my dad was coming of age. His mother died when he was just 5 and his father, who was 62 at the time of my grandmother’s death, wasn’t the nurturing type.

So at a young age my dad learned to adapt to survive. He learned to fight; by age 10, he was a smoker; and not long after that he started work — something he would continue to do until he died. As an adult he spent most of his working years as an underground miner.

He tried to make sure his children lived a better life than the one he’d led. He and my mother always made sure we had the basics — food, clothing and shelter — and Mom always made sure we had lots of love. I now know Dad loved us too. He just struggled to show it.

On the night before he died (he was killed in an accident while helping a friend) we stayed up late and visited. I’d been home for a quick break before leaving for my summer job in another town. We’d had some disagreements the year before, mostly as a result of me struggling to establish my independence while he grappled with letting me enter adulthood on my own terms.

Before we went to bed he told me two things he’d never told me before. He told me he was proud of me and he told me he loved me.

The next day, long before cell phones were common, when I was halfway across the state of Montana, my uncle was able to get a message to my brother and me that Dad had been in an accident and it didn’t look like he was going to make it.

We rushed back, racing across two states in time to see him in the hospital in Spokane.

We were there with Mom when we decided to remove him from life support. The accident left him without oxygen for too long. He was brain dead.

I went to his intensive care unit bed before they unplugged the machines keeping him alive.

“I love you,” I said. I wanted him to know. I wanted it to be the last thing I ever said to him.