Saturday, October 31, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/30/09: Relax Jeremiah, Problems Considered -- Not Solved, French Dressing

1. OooBoy, I thought, I think he's about to get defensive...I think he's smartin' for a fight with me...he doesn't want to be told he didn't do the sort of paper I I stayed even voiced, calm, encouraging, supportive and by the time our conference ended, Jeremiah shook my hand and seemed eager to rework his paper into a piece more in accord with the kind of critical thinking I'm asking my students to work on.

2. Margaret, Michael, Jeff, and I did not get the world's problems solved over coffee this afternoon..a lot of the world's problems remain..but, we gave it our best shot and sure enjoyed shooting the breeze about everything from The Odyssey to the enigmatic Bob Dylan.

3 Litehouse Foods of Sandpoint, Idaho makes a sweetish French dressing that transports me right back to the Jackass Room at the Sunshine Inn in Kellogg, Idaho -- was that sweetish French dressing at the Sunshine Inn made by Litehouse Foods? Or did Litehouse land Bunny's secret recipe? I don't know, but tonight I slathered a glob of French Dressing from Litehouse on a quick salad I threw together and thought Sunshine Inn waitress Petie Westcott had just delivered the salad all the way from 1964 to our kitchen counter in Eugene, Oregon.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/09: More Education About Homelessness, Congrats Rob!, Breakthrough

1. Brad and I had a long talk about his homelessness and how not having a home makes him a stranger, a foreigner, in Eugene, the town he has lived in all his life.

2. I saw Rob for a few minutes. It's his last day as a writing tutor. He got a job in the LCC counseling department. It's really great news!

3. Jack made a major breakthrough in thinking about his essay about the loss of one's life plans. It's his first essay, really, ever. He's thirty. Half-assed it through high school. Went to work. Did well. Work is gone. He's at school and he's learning to enjoy thinking in new ways and writing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/09: Pizza Observations, Blood, Pat Fixes Dinner

1. I had a few minutes to gobble a slice of our cafeteria's excellent Hawaiian pizza plus a piece of pepperoni and watched students, worn out, gray, and stressed trudge through the cafeteria. I admire how they soldier on.

2. Discussing blood in The Odyssey enlivened my World Lit class and I took joy in listening to one great insight of my students after another.

3. I'm tired. The Deke is tired. Pat had the day off: he fixed us a wonderful chicken and brussel sprouts and rice dinner. What a relief!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/09: Admirable Students, Uplifting Liz, Kindness of Michael

1. How do they find time to read and write? J. works over 40 hours a week on construction, sometimes driving all the way to Sutherlin on jobs and has half time custody of his daughter and H. works 40 hours a week for the school district and then works at Papa John's for spending money which she spends on tuition at LCC and Mike has a tile business and a son who's recently had two brain surgeries and Clarence, who is homeless, contacted me to say he couldn't make our conference because he had to go before a judge yesterday morning and I ran into E as she was putting a paper under my office door and she's been confined to quarters by her doctor because of illness, this on the aftermath of her mother having lung surgery -- how do they do it?

2. It's an uplift to have conferences with my students in Tutoring Central because Liz runs the joint and she is one of the most vital, positive, forward thinking, caring people I know and I get to talk to her and she always gives me a jolt of her goodness.

3. Michael read my Reflections on Poverty to his WR 122 class and afterward wrote me the kindest, most uplifting email I ever remember receiving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/09: Leah/Colleen, Patrick at MC, Gull Relief

1. Have I been in touch with Colleen since Graduation Day from Whitworth? When did I last talk with Leah? I know it's been over twenty years since we last corresponded. Both of them are back in my life thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web and Leah and are have started a wonderful email exchange and it's really wonderful knowing all that Colleen has been up to. I'm blown away.

2. I went out to the Delta Oaks Market of Choice, where Patrick works, and saw him in his uniform looking like he'd been working at MC his whole life. It was great to seem him looking comfortable and happy in his work.

3. The woman at the deli counter told me that she went outside of the store during her break and saw a ton of seagulls, and from this she said she knew is must be stormy on the coast and the gulls flew over to our neck of the woods for relief. Whether it's true or not, I enjoyed her telling of the story and it sure sounds right to me!

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/09: Campus Beauty, Duck Yakisoba Crush, Zynga Play Isn't "Real"

1. I honestly forget what a gorgeous campus we have at the University of Oregon and on a late October day with leaves turning orange, yellow, and vermilion, with a sunny sky, and with a campus nearly empty of activity, today was a perfect day to stroll the campus with Russell on our weekly Saturday photo field trip. Pictures to come.

2. I hadn't been to Sakura for quite a while and my plate of Yakisoba noodles was delicious, but even better was arriving for lunch just as the third quarter of the Duck/Huskie game was starting and my noodles were made all the more tasty by the how the Ducks thrashed UW in the second half.

3. I know. I know. It's play money. Nonetheless, when my chip total on Zynga poker went over the 700k mark, it fired me up. Weird. Makes me wonder what really is play and what's "real".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/09: Dexy, Patrick's Kickin' It, Michael and Juliet

1. The conversation over late afternoon coffee with Michael, Margaret, and Jeff was engrossing, so it tells you the power of nostalgia and music that my attention was pulled completely out of our talking together when the coffee shop sound system suddenly played my favorite song/vid of 1982/83, Dexy and the Midnight Runner's "Come on Eileen" and my mind left talking about Shakespeare and teaching at LCC and discussing plays in Ashland and I was back in my generic apartment on Colfax Street in north Spokane, teaching at Whitworth, being moved somehow by denim blue bib overalls.

2. So Patrick comes to my office scattered, pissed, earnest, determined, and confused and we spent nearly an hour sorting out the work he's done on his essay and I'm confident that before long his paper will kick it. Really kick it. Kick it hard.

3. I'd been reading/grading Odyssey essays and talking with Patrick about his essay and a faculty meeting was coming up, so I went to the cafeteria, off the clock, got a cup of coffee, entered an online Texas Hold 'Em sit n go tournament, and Michael came by and I was happy to be completely knocked off my poker groove by our discussion of Romeo and Juliet and the joy he's experiencing teaching Shakespeare again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/09: Gail's Bad Beat, Lost Keys Found, Loss of Home

1. It was the best bad beat I've seen, maybe ever: my Kellogg friend Gail called a guy's all in with 3-7 off suit; her opponent had pocket Aces, but when 3-7 came up on the board, her two pair beat the pocket Aces guy. I nearly dropped dead from cardiac arrest!

2. The jacket I wore yesterday was balled up on our dining table. My missing keys were in the pocket.

3. I hope Jordan will pursue my idea to look into immigrant narratives as a way to deepen his essay. He's onto something, but just hasn't quite found the right outside source to help him deepen his thinking about leaving home and the loss he felt.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/09: Thanks Tracy, Good to See Ya Willa, Enlarging Homer

1. One of my students, Tracy, told me she's been reading my blog. I think she told me it was awesome. It was a word of high praise. I know that. She especially liked when one of my 3BT headings was "Flogging Rumi". Her praise made me beam.

2. Willa came up to pay some of us LCC old timers and visit and her dispatches from the front lines at Reed College were fascinating -- especially her experience with being the only student she knows at Reed who's family isn't wealthy.

3. I went around the classroom again today, student by student, asking them to zero in on a particular aspect of human life they see The Odyssey exploring and one by one each student's articulation of his or her insight was stirring and once again, with their collective intelligence, the students enlarged our understanding of this magnificent story.

Post #1300: Some Reflections on Poverty

This is my 1300th post on this blog.

My first entry was on October 1, 2006.

I've covered a lot of ground in this blog over the last three years, with the most consistent contribution being my attempts to record Three Beautiful Things each day.

As I look over the last three years, though, it's not really my blog that is most on my mind.

It's poverty.

It's poverty and its impact on my day to day work life at Lane Community College.

When I confront poverty every day in my work place, my immediate response is not about me, but soon the weight of working with impoverished students bears down on me, and the poverty I confront at work begins to affect the way I do my work, how I feel, and my level of fatigue.

All the names I'm about to use are pseudonyms.

Clarence and I are the same age and his appearance is branded with the indignities of poverty. Clarence worked as a laborer for many years until his body wore out and couldn't work on construction sites any longer.

Clarence's teeth are almost gone.

He has diabetes.

Clarence's wife died about ten years ago. Not long ago, his second wife died. Not long ago, his daughter died.

Clarence lives with his twenty-seven year old son.

Under a bridge.

Clarence is homeless. I didn't know he was homeless until he stayed after class one day to ask me some questions about doing the slight amount of research I've assigned the class.

He told me he was learning more about computers at the public library and was getting the hang of it and I asked him if he lived near the library. I know from past conversations I've had with students who don't own computers that it's handy if they live near the public library and use theirs.

That's when he told me, without a trace of self-pity, that he lived with his son under the bridge, but was hoping that when his financial aid came through he'd be able to buy a Jeep or an old RV or something.

It's late October. The cold autumn rains are settling in, with occasional relief.

Somehow Clarence comes to class on time every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10, showered, with clean clothes, and eager to learn, even after being out of school for nearly thirty-five years.

He can't type his essays. He doesn't know how to type. So far he's kept up in class, but inevitably the time is going to come when he contracts a cold or the flu a some other virus or his diabetes debilitates him in some way.

The ten week school quarter will push forward, with its inevitable and fatalistic and unforgiving weight, and chances are good that Clarence will need more time because the way school is set up assumes good health, an ordered life, and plenty of free time.

I've been thinking a lot about how Lane Community College advertises itself as a place to come and study and earn a degree to make entry into the work force.

Clarence has the will and intelligence to do so -- but his homelessness and illness and role as a father means he's not starting his metaphorical run around the bases of LCC from home plate.

He's way at the end of the dugout.

So is Marcia.

Marcia, too, is branded: her mark is her cane.

Last week Marcia came to my office sobbing.

She was in so much pain she could hardly move and came to tell me she couldn't be in class.

I asked her if she had MS. Her highly compromised gait, her cane, and her pain made me think this might be true.

No, Marcia, told me, she suffered spinal damage from domestic violence and only now were the doctors beginning to believe that she was in severe pain and not accusing her of having it all in her head.

So, some guy beat the shit out of Marcia, repeatedly, and now she's out, on her own, barely able to walk and trying to understand the readings of this course through a typhoon of unmanageable pain.

I can tell Marcia is intelligent. She's articulate. So is Clarence.

If they were well, they would have every chance of succeeding as students.

But they're not well and they are poor.

I'm sure that if Marcia had money, she wouldn't be in school. She'd be recovering.

But, my guess is that she's trying to soldier her way through school in order to move on in her life, and for the financial relief provided by qualifying for financial aid.

I don't see how she'll make it, although, as in the case of Clarence, I'll give every ounce of energy I can to helping accommodate her, giving her extra time for her writing and trying to help catch her up with what we covered in class when she was in too much pain to attend.

You probably begin to get the picture.

I work in a huge educational system developed for the privileged and populated, at LCC, largely by the unprivileged.

When educational institutions were created, they were created much like factories.

Schools are governed by the clock, by time, and the assumption is that students can conform their lives to the way schools govern their time.

For the privileged students of prep schools and private colleges, this worked fine. Nothing outside of recreation competed with the school clock and calendar.

But, for the student without money, for the person trying to extract him/herself out of poverty, life is governed much more by the clock of being poor, by the need to work, by the appointments at the V. A. or at the welfare office or with a person from HUD, not to mention the bus schedule or by the time demands of a broken down vehicle.

And, for the poor, there's always illness.

Brad came to my office with his wife. Her front teeth are nearly rotted out, a mark of their poverty, and Brad is a man in his early thirties suffering from lupus.

They've been homeless. Their family has been torn apart by poverty. Brad hardly sleeps at night, is having a terrible time managing his pain, and is running into barrier after barrier as he tries to secure relief through SSI. He's hoping that after five years, it might come through.

Brad can't keep up with his reading, but he's trying. He is behind in his writing, but he's trying. He's not a slacker. He's determined. But he's poor. He's sick. His family is in turmoil.

Brad sees school as a way to help deliver him out of poverty. He's adept at computers and is enrolled in a program to certify his talents.

I don't see how he'll ever make it.

Will Alice make it? She just got released from the pen after getting herself involved in a meth ring, getting caught, and sentenced to prison.

I think of past students I've had who were poor, crippled, ill, desperate, pushing hard, but always up against the fact that the pressures of poverty often make the demands of school impossible to meet.

This all wears me out.

Jack's out of work after twelve years in the custom coach business, recently divorced, a father of a six year old, trying to change his life, up against great odds.

This all wears me out.

I cannot, and don't want to, be oblivious to the pain I encounter each day in my students.

I'm under professional obligation to uphold certain academic standards. I do my best to uphold them.

In the context of poverty, the academic standards, the way colleges function, often don't make sense. I'm flexible, but with each act of flexibility I add to my own work load. I hear another story. I suffer a little more on behalf of students I work with closely.

It all comes back to poverty.

It's everywhere.

Collectively, we seem powerless and helpless to alleviate it.

I hear philosophical and political arguments about its causes and who is to blame and what we can and can't do.

I don't give a shit about the philosophical arguments or the political ones or assigning blame.

I just care about those missing teeth, that chronic pain, the bad nutrition, and chronic illness, the impotent parents longing to give more to their kids and I try to do what I can in the moment to provide some small relief by slowing down the clock or by listening and being flexible.

I'm afraid it's mostly in vain, though, and, ultimately, it's the hopelessness of what I work closely with day after day that tires me out and makes me wonder why our society and our schools are arranged in ways that help to continue to defeat poor and provide little hope or relief for ever having it better.

It seems hopeless.

I won't and don't quit, though.

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/09: Chivalry?, Best Laid Plans, Late Night with Brie

1. The woman at Starbuck's broke into a contagious smile of delight and gratitude: I opened the door for her.

2. I went to the library to check whether the class visit scheduled for six o'clock was still on. It wasn't. The LCC library staff is like gold to airy thinness beat by illness, a sabbatical, two resignations by librarians who pursued dreams elsewhere, and reduction in force. I sat down with the library director and we had the most calm, understanding, mature conversation about rescheduling my class's visit and the terrible stress her staff is under.

3. Tonight was one of those nights when I was ecstatic to return home at nearly 9:30 from teaching night class and remembering that I had, for my pleasure, goldencrisp apples, brie cheese, cold pot roast, wheat crackers, tortilla chips and salsa, and refrigerated water to help me wind down.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two x Three Beautiful Things 10/18-19/09: Grading, PJs Again, Sticky Floors, I Stink, Collective Insight, Awake

1. My students wrote intelligently and convincingly about Gilgamesh and I enjoyed grading their essays.

2. All day grading means one thing: pajama day.

3. My sisters are canning and scanning in Kettle Falls: what a riot!

4. Debbie S. thinks people would read it if I wrote a book entitled, "I Stink". I'd sure have a lot of material to work with, especially when it comes to certain key moments in Zynga poker.

5. When I asked my students to zero in on one and write down one particular topic they found compelling in The Odyssey, they shared them in class and the variety was amazing to me. Always, always, always: the collective insight of a class of students is exponentially better than mine alone. Shut your pie hole, Teach. Listen.

6. The Deke's mom had a brief period of consciousness and recognized Brian and Tom. Even though she is about to pass away, this moment lifted her husband Tom's spirits profoundly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/09: Rain Out, Soup, Coma

1. Sure. We got rained out. But, still, driving out the the EWEB power station in Walterville in search of photographic subjects was a lot of fun. Wet. Yes. And fun, too. I'm ready to return when it's not pouring out.

2. Man. The Ginger Lemongrass Spicy Chicken Soup at Yi Shen was not only generous in its portions and in its taste, it also warmed me through and through after getting so wet in Walterville. It was a comforting a meal as I've had in a long time.

3. Sometimes it's worth it to get worn out and be a little sleep deprived for the sweet pleasure of falling into an afternoon coma/nap.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/09: Flogging Rumi, Who Cares?, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

1. Tears ran down my face as Oyster Band Radio on played Flogging Molly performing "Within a Mile from Home" live, soon after I had read this poem by Rumi:

A thousand half-loves
Must be forsaken to take
One whole heart home

Let the Lover be disgraceful , crazy
Absentminded . Someone sober
Will worry about things going badly ,
Let The Lover be.

Lovers do not Finally
meet somewhere
They are in each other all along.

2. I admitted it. I stated it. I owned it. I don't care whether courses being offered through LCC's College Now program meet the standards of excellence our on campus courses meet.

3. I admitted it. I stated it. I owned it. I'm a romantic teacher. It's the life of the heart in literature and writing I care the most about. The State of Oregon's mandates about my work do not reflect what I care the most about and to meet those mandates requires me to teach writing much more as an academic undertaking and less as a spiritual one. I'll do it and as I revise my courses and make changes in my approach, it hurts. It feels like I'm breaking off a romance.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/09: Pat, Fist Bump, Poker Talk

1. Pat's at JFK.

2. I shared a WR 121 fist bump with Beth when she got it.

3. My student Nathan and I talked about how writing is like chess, or poker. I told him about the hand I played that got me knocked out of the Zynga Weekly Tournament. He told me I did the right thing. I was relieved.

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/09: Curry, Honor, Press

1. I just buy this vacuum packed yellow curried chicken tenders thing from Trader Joe's, boil up some basmati rice, fry the chicken on medium heat, sautee some red peppers and mushrooms and in about twenty minutes The Deke and Pat and I have a meal even Rachel Ray would die for.

2. Home and honor: it's polluted and violated in the opening of Homer's Odyssey and I think I noticed in the animated eyes of some of my students that they realize these are not human matters stuck in the year 700 BC, but these are persistent human concerns. I love it when my students begin to experience a basic truth in life: there's no such thing as "back then".

3. Is he cold? Is he feeling more insecure than usual? What's the deal? Snug pressed himself against me more closely than ever the last couple of nights.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 x Three Beautiful Things 10/11-13/09: Renewal, PJs, Homer Now, Suffering, Truth, Betting, Depth, Annoyed No More

1. In our renewed friendship, Colette has sent me wonderful photographs of happy and endearing times, especially with her children.

2. Go to church? Or spend the day in my pajama bottoms and T-shirt working on my WR 121 course, posting help for my students on the course instruction page? Sorry, God. My students trumped you. So did my pajamas.

3. I love the exhilaration of opening up the existential aspects of The Odyssey and to feel the wonder in the classroom as students begin to see that this old literature is not absolutist, but that Homer experienced the world as a murky, gray, misty, unreliable, ever-changing, relativistic, puzzling, morally ambiguous place as we do. I hope my students will really learn that there's no such thing as "back then".

4. Suffering chastens, refines, enlightens, empties, fills, etc: just some of the verbs my World Lit. students employed as we look at what suffering does rather than what it is.

5. Homer and Tim O'Brien both know that when it comes to truth, whether a thing actually happened or not is irrelevant: story-truth gets at it more deeply, reliably, emotionally, and spiritually than happening-truth. My students faces told me that their minds were conditioned to see truth as most reliably conveyed by what happened, by facts, and I could see that Tim O'Brien was messing with them in a good way when he claims to be telling the truth when he says, "I killed a man" and when he says, "I never killed a man".

6. Maybe my students are beginning to see that among the things we carry is the truth of our stories, whether the stories actually "happened" or not.

7. I was somehow relieved to know that my poker friend R. S. got suckered into a bad bet and went all in with two Jacks when he knew there was a straight on the table and lost all his chips and got knocked out of the Zynga weekly tournament. I'm not happy for R.S.'s misfortune, but reassured, somehow, that as good a player as R. S. sometimes slips up. My mental tendency is to think that only I, Raymond Pert, would get sucked into a bad poker bet.

8. I think my WR 121 students might be starting to understand that the foundation of thinking about, exploring the meaning of, and writing about loss is in the shared human experience, in the emotional truth, not in whether the writer and the reader had the same thing happen to them.

9. A group of students were annoyed with Tim O'Brien's story "Good Form". Why's he repeat himself? I don't get it! I thanked them for being annoyed, with a broad smile, and we dug into this brief story/chapter, and soon my smile was on my students' faces, and they were nodding and saying, "Ohhh" and we kept talking about the story, even during the break and they weren't annoyed any longer and I couldn't sleep when I got home I was so happy and stimulated by their learning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/09: Poker Books, Sushiland, Bye, For Now, Lug Nut

1. I found a spot in a corner at Powell's Bookstore and read parts of poker books by Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, Dan Harrington, Phil Hellmuth, and Daniel Degreanu before buying a short stack. It made me want to have a Poker Public Library to go to.

2. After Powell's, the Deke and I sampled different sushi and other Japanese delights as they meandered by on a conveyer belt at Sushil Land. We ate everything from octopus to pot stickers and from sushi rolls to sesame balls.

3. I'm happy Molly and Olivia are back in Denton with TX, but have to hold out at least a thimble full of sadness that the little lug nut* and Molly won't be warming our house with their company.

*One of many nicknames the Deke calls Olivia. I wish I could claim it!

Three Beautiful Things 10/09/09: Library Help, Uplift Over Coffee, NO HUGS

1. Librarian Jennifer was a great help as we worked together to prepare the way for my class's visit and work session, coming up Tuesday.

2. Michael, Margaret, Jeff, and I had a great coffee together, dragging after the Language, Literature, and Communication division meeting, and uplifted one another's morale with great stories, discussion of music and theater and movies, and by not hashing over the meeting.

3. The Deke and Molly and I laughed and laughed when I told Molly, in front of the Deke, that on our first date, The Deke told me that living in Eugene made her want to sport a "I don't want a fucking hug" button. The Deke, however, did hug me at the end of our first evening out together!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/08/09: After Class Conversation, Digging Tim O'Brien, Poker Glee

1. Heather needed some help after class with computer stuff and we had a wonderful conversation about public schools and I was very happy she told me she enjoys WR 121.

2. Digging deeper into Tim O'Brien's way of making stories in WR 121 exhilarated me.

3. For the first time, I advanced to Round 2 by beating the table in the first round of Poker Shootout tournament on Zynga.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/07/09: Breaking New Dinner Ground, Gilgamesh Sparks, Genesis/Phil Collins

1. For dinner tonight I surprised The Deke and Molly and Patrick with a concoction brand new to our family: salmon patties wrapped in bacon, seasoned with Greek seasoning, garlic, and black pepper, complemented by basmati rice and a sauteed mix of onion, red pepper, and mushrooms.

2. I asked my World Lit students to imagine they'd never heard of the word "hero" and to define "hero" only in terms of the experience told in the epic Gilgamesh and after they wrote out their responses for a while, they electrified our classroom with their insights into and understandings of this great old story.

3. Just after I read a comment Colette made on my blog, Genesis Live/ "Turn It on Again" came on the XM Satellite radio and I enjoyed being transported back to my teaching days at Whitworth, the days of the pine cone curtain, and all the fun Colette and I had listening to Phil Collins and the Police and Bruce Springsteen and The Pretenders and Tom Petty and many others and those memories are very sweet.

Three Beautiful Things 10/06/09: Comp Bliss, Cheese and Bacon, Remarkable Twins

1. In WR 121, my students are exploring the human experience of loss and it's blissful to listen to their insights and read how they working them out in their writing.

2. Back in the spring, when I lost my appetite for food I loved, thanks to pneumonia and c-diff, I lost my love for grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches. After my night class, I returned to this fatty, greasy treat: fried bacon and Sharp Cheddar Cheese grilled between slices of Farmhouse Bakery Sunflower bread -- and then I opened the sandwich and laid three slices of tomato between the bacon and the bread. I also fixed the perfect complement: Pacific Natural creamy tomato soup.

3. I'm a fan of the Detroit Tigers and have been for a long time, but it's hard not to enjoy the improbable run the Twins made to tie the Tigers for the division lead and then beat them in extra innings in the one game playoff to advance to the playoffs. The Twins' organization and they way they play baseball is remarkable, even if they do lack the overall firepower to advance to the World Series.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 10/05/09: Lit Bliss, Lovely Hirons Help, Contemporizing a Parable

1. I experienced early fall quarter bliss today in the World Literature course: Tao de Ching, Job, Parable of the Good Samaritan, Parable of the Lost Sheep, and Gilgamesh all in one two hour period. I don't think I did a very good job of conserving my energy today. I got pretty fired up!

2. I couldn't get my prescription filled at Hirons on 18th today, but have I ever enjoyed failure more? The women helping me out were friendly, solicitous, and eager to make things right. It's what always keeps me coming back to Hirons for my pills.

3. I enjoyed making my World Literature students laugh when I quipped that today the Parable of the Good Samaritan might be renamed the Parable of the Good Al Quaeda Guy or the Parable of the Good Tweeker.

Three Beautiful Things 10/04/09: Job (of the Land of Uz), Sore Throat Relief, Tobasco Roasted Potatoes

1. I love reading from the book of Job as this morning's lector at St. Mary' Episcopal Church.
2. I spent much of the afternoon sleeping off my sore throat; the rest was good, the soreness persisted.
3. The Deke fixed a terrific roasted chicken and potato and onion dinner and I loved all the Tobasco sauce I slathered on it. When I have a cold/sore throat I crave Tobasco.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Temporary Drop Off

Yes. I drop(p)ed off writing my blog the last week. I suppose part of it has to do with

Olivia coming to Eugene on Monday with her mother, Molly, my stepdaughter. I've haven't lived with a baby in the house since my younger sister, Silver Valley Girl, was born, back in 1963. I haven't really come to grips with the fact that I'm a grandfather, but I'm very happy to be one.

I honestly think that my primary way of thinking about myself as a stepfather and a (step)grandfather is as a provider, as a source of support. Having helped provide a home and other necessities and luxuries for The Deke's children has given my life shape, purpose, and meaning in a profound way I had ever known before. Now I want to do what I can, with The Deke, to help provide for Olivia and most of my feelings about being her grandfather have to do with her, and her parents', welfare.

Olivia's arrival coincided with the start of the school year. The vibe in each of my classes was very good. I was in class ten hours this week, and I tried to be mindful each minute of each of those hours that I need to conserve energy, exert my energy efficiently, and do all I can not to get run down.

I did a good job of that, and yet, here I am, on Saturday evening, and my throat is scratchy, I feel slightly achy. I'm fighting something and hope with the help of water, apples, apple juice, Airborne, cups of a hot drink made up of honey, lemon, and Tobasco sauce, and cayenne pepper capsules that I can defeat it.

Today was a good day. Russell and I went on a walk along the Delta Ponds in north Eugene and took pictures. Here I am on our outing:

I'll be back tomorrow with the resumption of Three Beautiful Things!