Thursday, August 27, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/09: Toast-Off, Mapping, Deck Talk

1. Who has the better breakfast? Dunton's in Arlington Heights or the Silver Spoon in Kellogg? No contest. Silver Spoon. Dunton's or Brails in Eugene? No contest. Brails. I'm not ready to pit Brails against the Silver Spoon just yet. I have to wait until I have toast again at the Silver Spoon. Whoever has the better toast will win!

2. I'm in a town I don't know with streets and state highways all over the place and I get online, check out maps and directions, and find my way around. Love it.

3. David's deck is done and it was a pleasure sitting on the deck with Deke and David and Muff, especially because The Deke really enjoyed her trip to the Loop.

UPDATE: By a crumb, and I mean just a crumb, the toast at the Silver Spoon is slightly less mediocre than the toast at Brails. I love breakfast at both places, but I wish both would invest in better bread for their toast. I have quit ordering toast at Brails and have a biscuit instead. Nowhere I've ever eaten, though, have I enjoyed the counter more than at Brails. Watching and listening to the wait staff work with the cooks and observing Joy, the owner, oversee the whole operation is fascinating. Joy hires great help.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/08: Chicken Delight. Tequila Transcendence, Wow! No Kidding?

1. The Deke and David combined their cooking talents to whip out a simple and scrumptious chicken, wild rice, mushroom, spinach dinner.


2. I stepped of the wagon this evening, blended some margaritas for David, The Deke, and me and had a brief fling with my old friend, liquid peyote itself, tequila.


3. Brian came by after his round of golf at Medinah. I didn't know he was a member there and it was fun listening to his excitement as Medinah prepares to host the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/09: Babe Ruth Zen Master, No Crap, Fire House

1. The taxi driver who took me to the airport claimed that the team that knocked his out of the Babe Ruth All-Star tournament many years ago was coached by Phil Jackson. That's the cabbie's claim to fame.

2. On the flight from Eugene to Salt Lake City, the plane was under the control of a take charge, no bullshit attendant. She was great. One guy's seat didn't work properly. It wouldn't stay in the upright position for take off. She stopped the plane. Then she nearly kicked the guy off the plane who was in the malfunctioning seat because he acted put out that he had to change seats. She was ready to quietly, but forcefully, rip him a new one when he finally complied and moved to another seat on the plane. If terrorists had tried to hijack this plane, she would have kicked their ass.

3. David dropped by the Arlington Heights fire station to see his mates and I got to listen in on firehouse gossip and laugh firehouse laughs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/09: Old Dreams and New Learning, Walking, Albertson's Delight

1. Thirty years or more, I harbored the possibility of going to seminary. I thought I might like to be a church minister. I dreamed of giving illuminating sermons that overturned the idea of God as exclusive or as the dominion of any human institution or any geographic location. As I listened to Dr. Loren Crowe preach today at St. Mary's and as he brought subtleties of the Old Testament lesson to light that demonstrated the transcendent and all-inviting nature of God, I was inspired by the sermon on its own terms and I was reminded of I one day wished I would do. The inspiration and the memory were both uplifting.

2. I've been feeling physically sluggish of late and I walked to St. Mary's and it felt good to get the blood flowing more forcefully.

3. I got to go through my favorite checker's stand at Albertson's and she doesn't know me from Adam but was all interested in my trip to Chicago and was sincere when she wished me a good trip and reunion with The Deke.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/22/09: CFS, Deke Plans, Mrs. Few

1. Invigorating discussion of Chicken Fried Steak (CFS) on Patsy's Facebook page. Epic.

2. The Deke has a plan. I'll see her in Arlington Heights on Tuesday and the corgis will get some kennel time.

3. Ed chatted with Mark Few's wife at the Mission Inn in Cataldo. Great story.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/21/09: Tears, Happiness, God Talk

1. Some of my writing moved some of my readers to tears. They were good enough to write and tell me.

2. Writing about my family's get together at Rockaway Beach filled me with happiness.

3. My piece, The Church of KHS Class of ‘72, has inspired comments and conversation today about faith and God and belonging...belonging in church (or not). I look forward to continuing these conversations.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sibling Assignment #104: Family Time at Rockaway Beach

For Sibling Assignment #104, Silver Valley Girl, InlandEmpireGirl and I will reflect upon our family's stay at Rockaway Beach and reflect upon what we enjoyed about being together as a family. SVG writes about flow, here and IEG loved the beach, here.

Last week, I wrote,here, about how spending time with my friends from the Kellogg High School class of 1972 was like going to the best church I could imagine. It was a reflection upon acceptance.

That gathering ended on Sunday afternoon, August 9. I puttered up Highway 101 that evening, got a room in Tillamook, spent much of Monday kicking around the vicinity of Cape Meares State Park and shopping at Safeway for the groceries for our family's four night stay at Rockaway Beach.

You might be thinking that after a weekend of casino gambling, superb food, ping pong, pool, poker, air guitar playing, dancing, recalling fun and funny memories with old friends, nearly non-stop laughter, music, good cheer, and love, that getting together with my family might be kind of a let down.

I mean, what could match the peak experience I had at Lincoln City with my oldest and dearest friends?

Being with my family at Rockaway Beach could, that's what.

Why? Well, it's back to what might matter most in life: acceptance.

For many years, I felt like, and I think I was, the family weird-o. While IEG settled into a teaching career right out of college and was doing great things in the classroom and SVG was in a solid marriage and started a family, I was all over the place.

Over about a fifteen year period, if you had an entry for me in your address book, my address changed about fifteen times. I was married, divorced; I couldn't keep steady relationships; I married again. It failed. I was in graduate school for what seemed like forty years and didn't finish my doctorate. For a while I was fired up about Central America; then it was the environment; I went to healing services at church; I drank too much; then I was sober for over ten years; for a while I couldn't talk enough about alcohol and then I couldn't shut up about twelve stepping. I became a vegetarian. In my academic life, my performance reeled from superb achievements to ultimate failure.

No wonder SVG once called me her vagabond brother.

But, I could always come home.

Even with my hair, as Dad would say, "down to my ass" and even when I was wearing purple every day and even with my inability to really nail down for anyone what the hell I was going to do with my life, I could always come home.

And my parents and sisters accepted me. Maybe, at times, they didn't enjoy me, but they accepted me, and I knew that.

During these unstable years, my family congregated at Yachats for a few days, nearly every summer.

We told stories. We went on outings. We tried out new stuff, like, for me, throw-up-deep-sea-fishing. We ate great food (unless, during my vegetarian years, I was in charge. Cream of celery soup, anyone?) We relaxed and watched the sea ebb and flow.

When we got together last week, all of this was on my mind -- but unlike those times twenty-nine, twenty-five, seventeen, twelve years ago, I didn't join my family with a troubled mind. I didn't fell like a weird-o. I didn't feel unstable, unsure of myself, off my rocker.

I felt at peace and more fully so because I was with my mother and sisters and brothers-in-law and nieces and my sisters' dogs and we enjoy each other.

I'm still, however, a little bit of a loner. Not entirely. But a bit.

During these four days together, I wanted time to myself.

And, really, here's what my family's love comes down to: no one questioned me about going off on my own drives, my own explorations, my own photography sessions.

No one asked, "What's the matter?"

No one accused me of not liking them.

No one tried to cajole me into doing what the others were doing.

My family accepted me. Wished me well. Made sure I remembered my cell phone. Were interested in what I did when I returned.

They teased me. They called me the "Happy Wanderer." We sang "Val-deri, Val-dera" together.

I didn't feel like a weird-o, just a regular family member who likes to drive alone sometimes and listen to the Grateful Dead on satellite radio.

This acceptance, laughter, enjoyment, eating, teasing, joking, helping each other out, being ourselves is, to me, God.

When I was with my classmates in Lincoln City, God was everywhere.

When I was with my family at Rockaway Beach, God was everywhere.

Here's a bunch of pictures. I took some of them. Others are my sisters' photographs. Click 'em for a larger image.

I hope they help illustrate what I mean when I say, when I am with my family, God is everywhere.


Here are the Woolums, looking down from the house balcony:

Mom enjoyed a few hours figuring out a handful of TV crosswords:

Sadie and Peaches enjoyed the beach and the ocean:


So did Annie and Shelby:

Kiki Aru, Z2, and Princess bought sweatshirts and modeled them:

PKR and SVG paused to pose for this portrait of happiness:

Mom isn't very mobile on the sand or around the rocks these days, so she got out a folding chair, put on the aviator shades, and observed the seascape:

IEG and JEJ and Shelby watch as Annie, way off in the distance, way out of this picture, frolicked in the Rockaway waves:

My favorite sibling picture:

Mom raises a toast to her family and our restful, mirthful, most enjoyable time together:

Three Beautiful Things 08/20/09: Dan, Margaret, Michael

1. One of the reassuring constants in my life is Dan. He manages Euro Asian. Every 3,000 miles when I bring in my unglamorous little red 93 Honda Civic he treats me like I have a Mercedes and makes sure his mechanics give my car quality treatment. Whenever I come in he always calls me, wryly, "young man" and it's one of those things I can count on in my life that reassures me that there's some semblance of order in the world.

2. Margaret got delightfully worked up about her enjoyment of the movie "Julie and Julia" and zeroed in, with agitation, on a comment Roger Ebert made about the men not being that interesting in the movie. "Well, duh! It's not a movie about men!" Ha! Exactly! I've been enjoying Margaret's agitation over dumb bells for twenty-five years now....I just don't want to get on her dumb bell list!

3. Michael claims he's not much of a piano player but decided the hell with it and he's working on playing the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/19/09: Cool Inside, Okay -- I Get It, Climate Change

1. I managed to keep most of the 103 degree heat outside. The house stayed fairly cool.

2. After over an hour online and eventually on the telephone, I got things fairly straight in my head as to what's going on with Sallie Mae. The knowledge I acquired was worth the time invested.

3. I took a drive into the marine climate of Florence and enjoyed the cooling power of the Pacific Ocean and air trapping strength of the Coast Range.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/18/09: Willamette, Brat, Photo

1. The content of the conversation was difficult and upsetting; the setting of the conversation by the river was idyllic: roses, breeze playing in the trees, river meandering, runners, walkers, morning sky.

2. Bratwurst on hard roll worked.

3. Eddie sent a great picture of the Waltman/Turnbow family. Click it for a larger view.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/17/09:Valley Power, French Pix, Eyebrow Laughs

1. Jane and I went to North Idaho College together and I just learned, through Facebook chat, why this blog means so much to her. Maybe I'll write more about this at another time, but I learned so much tonight, from Jane, about the power of the rough, authentic, loving ways of us Silver Valley kids back in 1972-73.

2. A woman from France asked two other customers at Brail's counter if she could take a picture of them. I think she wanted to show her friends back home that she had dined in an authentic American bacon and eggs joint and that she'd witnessed real Americans eating, one eating real link sausages, hash browns, and eggs, the other a Denver omelette. My corn beef hash and eggs and hash browns and English muffin didn't make the cut. Probably the muffin's fault.

3. I got my hair cut today and when the woman cutting my hair asked if I wanted her to trim my eyebrows, she laughed out loud when I said, "I never think about my eyebrows. You tell me. Do they need a trim?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Abstract Art and Nature Photographs

When I go to an art museum, it's always the abstract art that immediately grabs my attention and gets me excited. I've never studied abstract art. My comments are a result of just paying attention to how I respond to this art.

I don't know exactly why I enjoy abstract art so much. It may have to do with something like purity. Abstract art, for me at least, frees me of certain distractions. I don't have to figure out the story of the painting and I'm not distracted by questions of accuracy and realism and the other questions raised by representational art.

I enjoy experiencing the geometry of abstraction or the studies of color or, in sculpture, the experience of weight. Geometry, color, weight and the countless other qualities abstract art explores all have emotional qualities, to me, and I'm moved by the intensity and mystery of abstract art. For example, the geometry combined with the shades of blue in this piece both intrigue me and stir my feelings:


The varieties of blue bending toward gray in the above piece makes me think of how much I enjoy taking photographs of the ocean and sky and of clouds as a way of creating my own abstract art.

If I remove the beachline and people and any mounds or rocks from ocean pictures, they become, like abstract art, portrayals of color and studies in light, and sometimes explorations of shape. In looking at these pictures, the viewer might figure out it's the ocean and the sky; nonetheless, the dominant reality of the picture is not the ocean itself, but the abstract colors that make up the ocean and the sky's most abstract and purest reality. Here are some of my attempts at ocean/sky abstraction:



I experience these pictures less as portraits of the ocean, sky, and sun and more as the emotional power of blue and gray and white. While these pictures lack the geometrical exactness of the abstract painting I posted, I do think it's possible to abstract the power of the colors from the ocean and sky and sun and experience the power of the light and color on their own terms.

One of the new friends I made this summer at the writing retreat at Camp N Sid Sen was Cheryl Dudley. When she goes to work, she drives from her ranch into Moscow, Idaho. Every summer morning, she sees the sun rise over the rolling hills of the Palouse. Cheryl let me borrow this picture she took a few weeks ago of a Palouse sunrise. To me, it's a beautiful study of the abstract nature of light and shape and pattern. I find myself almost losing my sense of the Palouse and experiencing the beauty of light and color itself, almost as if these qualities could be anywhere..(but I so love the Palouse that I don't really want to forget the locale of this photograph):

So there they are: my reflections upon abstract art and nature photography.

You can go here and enjoy more of Cheryl Dudley's photography.

The painting "Blue Stripes" is by Kathryn Crocker. Go here , use the search feature, and click around and you will find more of her work.

The Church of KHS Class of ‘72

I often imagine the pleasure I would feel if I walked into St. Mary's Episcopal Church, where I'm a member, after a few weeks' absence, and a fellow parishioner spotted me and said, "Jesus Christ, it's about time you got your ass back here. Where you been? Feelin' up the pretty nurses at the hospital again?"

Ahhh, I would say to myself, God is indeed good.

The fellow parishioner would have spoken to me in the language of love I know best. He would have picked on me, given me shit, made me laugh, and we would soon have been standing side by side, arms around each others' shoulder as he asked me sincerely how my health was, if I was getting better.

This doesn't happen at St. Mary's Episcopal Church. And I'm fine with that.

However, I'm part of a church where this does happen. I attend this church as often as I can, anywhere from four to six to eight times a year. This church doesn't have a building. Sometimes we meet on Scott's boat on Coeur d'Alene Lake or Pend Oreille; sometimes we meet at a Residence Inn in Lake Oswego or at the motel adjoining the Chinook Winds Casino; we've met on the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, at the Coeur d'Alene Casino for buffet, at Sharon's house, at my sister Carol's house; we've met at Wanda's up the river, at Diane's house in Vancouver, WA, on Sue's deck, the bowling alley, in the park at Kellogg, at Teeter's Field, Dirty Ernie's, Quinn's Resort, the Elks Club in Kellogg. A little over a week ago, our church met for hot dogs in the Costco parking lot in North Wilsonville. Then our group expanded and became a larger church at the Spindrift in Lincoln City, OR.

It's the Church of the Kellogg High School Class of 1972.

It's church the way I long for church to be. It's a church where we come with our broken and improving lives and know that we are in the company of other broken and improving people and so there is no pretense of any one being better than anyone else, nor any pretense of righteousness. Who could feel self-righteous in this church? Each of us has suffered, whether it's through multiple marriages, drunkenness and stupidity, mental illness, drug abuse, stupid sex, marital violence, cancer, shattered bones, disease, affairs, and on and on. I've been mean to people in this church in the past. Others have had their spats, periods of silence, times of conflict. If the church is a body of fallible persons, the Church of the Kellogg High School Class of 1972 is all of that, and proudly so.

What do I mean, "proudly so"? Our church doesn't put on the guise of sanctimony. We don't act pure. We don't expect purity or sanctimony from each other. We don't put on airs. We all know we have and will screw up. We own up and move on. I know I am more authentically myself in this church than anywhere else. In this church I am tender, vulgar, coarse, kind, reserved, loud, expressive, appreciative, profane, reverent, old school, new school, irreverent, sentimental, outraged, honest, touched, caring . . . and on and on. I laugh. I give people shit. I am full of shit. I tell the truth. I listen carefully and caringly. I pray. I enjoy hearing the views and experiences of those who are similar to me. I love hearing the views and experiences of those who are different.

It's not a theological church. Or a political one. Or a philosophical church. It's a church filled with spirit: a spirit that happens, that just is, without intention, without design. The spirit of joy, comfort, enjoyment, graciousness, profanity, friendship, history, nostalgia, pleasure, fun, laughter, reassurance, honesty, forgiveness, delight, union, playfulness, mischief, and affection moves throughout the Church of the Kellogg High School Class of '72.

At the Spindrift last weekend, I often went up and down the stairs between the rec room and the kitchen/living room level alone, just to listen to the spirit of our get together, of our church. I stopped more than once and soaked in the laughter, the boisterous voices, the story-telling, and, when I made it upstairs, I'd see that some of my friends had stepped out of the roar onto the quiet of the balcony or into the sitting area, and were having some time alone or talking quietly and more seriously.

As I've written before in this blog, I experience God primarily as spirit. I experience God where there is love, forgiveness, courage, listening, joy, acceptance, honesty, appreciation, friendship, etc., however profanely or politely, however roughly or gently expressed.

I get together with my friends from the Kellogg High School Class of 1972 and it's not, strictly speaking, a religious gathering. Nor should it be.

But, it's church to me.

And, in the company of these friends, God is everywhere.




Three Beautiful Things 08/16/09: Rough, Feta, Warren

1. After church, a fine time at Wandering Goat Coffee, sitting under a tree, with Randy and Marla. I especially enjoyed talking about our preference for people who are rough around the edges. Or coarse. Vulgar. Profane. Good people and rough.

2. That feta cheese vinaigrette I snagged at Market of Choice pleased me.

3. Warren Haynes adds a dimension of Southern Rock and Blues to the Grateful Dead. Warren can definitely bring it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/15/09: Back to the Kiva, Filing Photos, Slips, Bonus Beautiful Thing

1. As much as I enjoyed being at the coast for a week, I sure enjoyed going to the Kiva today and loading up on lunch meat, cheese, breakfast sausage, and Irish cheese.

2. More photos filed, posted on Flickr and Facebook. It's time consuming and a bit tedious, but I love having them taken care of. Now I just need to crank up the storage drive and get them on there tomorrow.

3. Tickets on sale. Floydian Slips. October 10. McDonald Theater. I can hardly wait.


Bonus: I paid next to no attention to Woodstock in 1969. I haven't seen the movie. But, with XM 40 playing performances from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair through the weekend, with a few non-Woodstock things here and there, like "In a Gadda da Vida", I'm having my first sustained experience with the festival and am enjoying it through and through. Better late than never.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/09: 99W, Sly, Snug

1. I really should drive on 99W more often -- McMinnville to Junction City is beautiful...wineries, monasteries, Coast Range to the west, farm/ranch land....it's a relaxing drive.

2. Satellite Radio XM channel 40 isn't Deep Tracks this weekend: it's the Woodstock channel. What a pleasure to hear all these performances -- especially Sly and the Family Stone. The "Dance to the Music" medley hit me just right driving down 99W.

3. It had been a full week since Snug licked my face and I sure missed him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/09: Pre-beauty, Munson Creek Falls, Lookout Cape State Park, Nehalem Bay State Park

I'll sneak in a pre-Beautiful Thing before I begin today's official, actual, real, genuine list: I ate a corn beef hash and fried eggs and hash browns and sourdough toast and coffee breakfast at the Dutch Mill Restaurant, est 1933, in downtown Tillamook. The waitress was a hun waitress, "Will that be all, hun?" (I love hon waitresses). Not much action in the cafe: two guys, one engaged, at the counter and a man and woman at the booth. I heard the man say about someone, " He has a way with words --if you can understand him." Most of the Dutch Mill customers were in the lounge in the back playing Oregon State Lottery video poker and line games.

Okay. Now, Three Beautiful Things:

1. Munson Creek Falls.



2. Lookout Cape State Park



3. Nehalem Bay State Park

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/09: Surpise--Surprise--Surprise, British Open Oregon, Family and Almost Sunset

1. I think one of the waitresses at the Gearhart Junction Cafe "liked" me....especially when I had a small coughing fit and she said, "I'm not going to have to give you CPR, am I?" I didn't have a snappy comeback.

2. Driving west on Pacific in Gearhart, I discovered perfect access to the ocean, a sandy trail through dune grass to a huge expanse of beach. I thought I was playing in the British Open:




3. My sisters, other family members, and I went down to the Rockaway Beach beach, hoping for a glorious sunset. The sky flirted with us, but a full fledged sunset never developed.





Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/09: Pictures, Bleak Walk, Pictures Lost Were Never Lost

1. It felt good to get pictures organized and post a bunch of them on Facebook.

2. I enjoyed walking in the gray rain on the Rockaway Beach beach and snapping some photos.

3. Pictures I thought I'd lost forever when my computer was stolen? I had posted them on Flickr and I'm really happy those pictures are where I know I can find them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/09: Appreciating Jane, Appreciating My Classmates, Appreciating Kindness and Generosity

1. Jane, my long lost, now found, choir and Cockroach Castle friend from NIC read my entire blog and wrote me the very kindest words of appreciation for what I've written. My gratitude cannot be measured.

2. Several of my KHS Class of '72 friends have expressed appreciation for the things I've written on this blog about our friendships and deepening relationships. My gratitude cannot be measured, nor can my sense of gratification that the friends I've known the longest are pleased with what I write.

3. I was moved by the kindness and generosity of a man and a woman who had telescopic lenses zeroed in on a mother peregrine falcon at Mears Cove -- and the woman, out of the blue, invited me to have a look through the telescope at the peregrine falcon.





Monday, August 10, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/09/09: Pancakes and Poetry, Looking Ahead at D Sands , Hugs and Handshakes

1. Splendiferous pancakes, sausage, bacon, and eggs with strong coffee, frontier poetry, and more conversations and laughs for breakfast.

2. Before having to say goodbye and end our weekend together, several of us walked the windless beach behind the D Sands Hotel, enjoying the mild temperature, slightly overcast sky, and one another's company. We began to think ahead to when we'll be all together again.

3. It's hard to say goodbye, but each hug and each firm handshake seals the bond of friendship more fully, even as we all depart from one another.

Three Beautiful Things 08/08/09: Divine Breakfast, Divine Dinner, Divine Conversatiion....&....Channeling Pete Townsend

A full day at the Spindrift, a spacious vacation rental house, in Lincoln City, Oregon as between fifteen and twenty of us got together to celebrate turning 55 years old, although we never did get around to actually having a birthday celebration! Here are three (insufficient number) things that come to mind for today's beautiful things:

1. Waking up to a divine breakfast casserole and listening to all the groans and moans of pleasure as one after another person dug into Carol's masterpiece.

2. Joni marinated flank steak in a teriyaki mix and oversaw the grilling of the meat: again, the food was divine and grunts and gasps of pleasure resounded through the room as one after another person dug into Joni's masterpiece.

3. I haven't spend time with Ken for well over thirty years. We were born on the same day back in 1953, in the same hospital room, and he and I managed to get in some quick and deep conversation with each other.

Bonus: Three wasn't enough. Diane made an 11 hour collection of music, most of it suggested by people coming to this party. When the party turned into a dance fest, I had a great time playing air guitar and getting worked up and theatrical while "Won't Get Fooled Again" played.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/07/09: All Day Long, Costco Hot Dogs, Spindrift

1. I've still got it --sort of. Up this morning until 2:00 a.m. and got to the airport at 7:30 a.m. to pick up Scott and Bruce and had a great day driving to Lincoln City, chauffeuring buddies to wine tasting, having a conference in the middle of the street at Sarah's (Patty's daughter), and snacking, talking, laughing, gambling, hot tubbing...a great afternoon, evening, night of our 55 birthday get together.

2. On the way to Lincoln City, in North Wilsonville, about ten of us had a Costco hot dog party in the parking lot, with the dogs served out of a shopping cart.

3. The house we are renting in Lincoln City is elegant and comfortable and roomy.

Three Beautiful Things 08/06/09: Out of Town, Wind -- No Doors, Picking On Ed

1. After a few fits and few starts, I jumped in the Honda and headed to Vancouver, WA to start a weekend with my Kellogg friends.

2. Ron and Ed drove from Kellogg to Vancouver, WA in Ron's Rubicon with the rag top and no doors in the the Columbia Gorge wind tunnel.

3. Listening to Ed narrate his suffering and Ron pick on Ed for being so whiny made me laugh almost non-stop.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/05/09: A Phone Call, Babeheads Out in Force, It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas

1. Much anxiety relieved...looks like it'll work out....can't be specific about the sitch....smart phone call by The Deke turned things in a better direction.

2. I went to see the Troxstar and the Troxettes and our visit was interrupted by the hornsy, electric blues of the Deb Cleveland band and I couldn't figure out why so many of the women looked so familiar, but way off my radar, and I suddenly realized it was like being at a Babes with Axes show again....all those Babeheads are DebClevelandheads, too. Funny convergence.

3. Is it Christmas Eve? I'm agitated with excitement. What's the deal? No. It's not Christmas, but tomorrow evening I'll see a wonderful bunch of my Kellogg friends and we'll be spending the weekend together. It might be better than Christmas.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/04/09: Familiarity, 121 Done, Did It Arrive in the Mail?

1. I've been aware of this one guy selling at Farmer's Market since I moved here thirty years ago. We must be about the same age and he used to sell produce with his beautiful wife. I saw him and not her again at the market today and wondered what his/her/their story is. I'd ask, but the guy is really full of shit and I don't think I could bear listening to him rattle on very long.

2. I finished my WR 121 syllabus and course calendar and got in touch with a librarian about the help I'll need teaching this course.

3. Many of my Kellogg friends will be in Vancouver on Thursday night and I've been invited to join in. If the right stuff comes in the mail today or tomorrow, I might just join them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/03/09: Wedding, Praise, Good Health

1. My stepdaughter, Molly, married Hiram Diaz today in Denton, TX:


The Deke witnessed the exchange of vows:

So did Molly's sister, Adrienne:

You can see more wedding pictures, here.


2. I had a good time writing "The Pain in the Ass Body of Christ" and it heartened me when Pam wrote me a note of praise.

3. Olivia visited the doctor for a two week checkup and everything looks good: she's growing, putting on the right amount of weight, and got a clean bill of health.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Pain in the Ass Body of Christ

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Psalm 51:1-13

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 6:24-35

In church yesterday, the focus of the sermon was on David's escapades with Bathsheba and the terrible crimes he committed against Uriah. Bishop Thornton gave a compelling sermon.

But, it was the reading from Ephesians that stuck with me. In this passage, Paul writes beautifully and poetically about the Body of Christ and how it is made up of people with many callings and many gifts and how its unity depends on, among other things, patience and love.

Paul writes that in order to lead a life worthy of our calling, we must bear one another in love.

After all, in the Body of Christ, we are all bound to one another, connected, and we cannot escape the reality that this means we are bound and connected to others with whom we have many differences, not only differences regarding gifts, but differences of personality, social class, income, behavior, stages of growth, points of view, theology, politics, social views, and on and on.

In my view, this makes the idea of the Body of Christ a most rigorous and demanding truth.

It's also a pain in the ass.

I find many with whom I share residence in the Body of Christ a pain in the ass and I'm sure many in the Body of Christ find me a pain in the ass, too.

There's nothing simple to do about this fact. I don't want to leave the Body of Christ and, in my best moments, I don't want these others to leave it either.

But, the fact of the matter is that residing with so many others in the Body of Christ means that I (and we) are deeply connected with people that we would have nothing to do with if it weren't for the Body of Christ. It means that we are called to love those whom we see as patently wrong, wrong-minded, hypocritical, lukewarm, shallow, arrogant, wrong in how they do things, wrong in their speech, wrong in their beliefs, even wrong in the way they worship. And they have to put up with me…and us.

On the face of it, residing in the Body of Christ seems like a reality that should make us feel really good. After all, it is a reality built on unity and love and in following the calling of Jesus Christ.

The difficulty is, and what makes this reality so rigorous, is that unity doesn't and can't mean agreement in thought, word, deed, or creed.

The rigorous calling that Paul articulates in this passage in Ephesians is to bear one another humbly, gently, lovingly, and patiently. It's a rigorous demand to bear with love those we can barely stand to be around.

The idea of the connectedness of the members of the Body of Christ has parallels to the Buddhist idea of the connectedness of all things. The reality of connectedness from the Buddhist perspective is much broader than the connectedness of those who share a faith. From the Buddhist perspective, each of us is connected to everything: all other people, animals, trees, stones, the material things in our lives, everything. To the Buddhist, since I am one with everything, what I do affects the whole web of connection. The idea of doing something to an animal or to another person or to oneself and being able to say, "Well, it only affected me" is impossible.

In Buddhism, the impact of good deeds as well as harmful ones resonates throughout all things and what others do affects each of us. To me, it's logical. The rigor of this point of view is that it makes each moment of each day and each action we perform consequential. The more we do what's good, what's right, the more the interconnected web of existence will be affected in constructive ways. Likewise, when we are destructive, all is affected.

Similarly, what each of us does within the Body of Christ affects the whole Body. Living the Christian life is a corporate experience. I think it is more corporate than individual. We are all a part of one another's salvation and when we sin, we do not only sin against God and harm ourselves and our conscience and our ability to think straight, we harm the Body of Christ. To switch metaphors, if we see the Body of Christ as cloth, when we sin we tear at the fabric of our shared existence in the Body of Christ. Likewise, when we are loving and do unto others what we would have them do unto us, the fabric is strengthened.

This is what makes being joined together in the Body of Christ so rigorous. It's not only that we are connected with and joined together with people we enjoy and others we don't like or have differences with – and that's hard enough – it's also the fact that how we live our lives in this Body of Christ affects all the other members. It makes each moment, each decision, each thing we do consequential, not only for ourselves, but for the whole Body.

It's a pain in the ass. It's typical. Being a Christian is often a pain in the ass.

If we had it our way, we would carry out our Christian lives in a bubble, having a personal, individual relationship with God. It would end there. I'd work out things with God on my own, keep it between God and me, and no one else would be affected.

But, no. That's not the way it is. We're with each other, stuck with some, joyous to be with others, and how any of us works out our salvation affects the whole Body of Christ and each of us is being affected by how others work out theirs.

In my life, the most immediate microcosm of this reality is the family. Everything every family member does affects every other family member and we are inextricably bound to each other. It's what makes family life wonderful, demanding, and, sometimes, a pain in the ass.

The other microcosm of the Body of Christ is the church I belong to. Our parish is not unified if you look at the variety of perspectives, political views (both secular and ecclesiastical), social views, and so on that we have. We find powerful union, however, in the bread and wine of the Communion – well, usually. Within our parish have been (still are? not sure) those who won't accept a Communion blessed by a woman priest. So, see, even in the Communion, where we partake of the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ is a challenge.

I wouldn't have it any other way. The biblical figures I most admire were pains in the ass: Moses, Nathan, Jeremiah, Elijah, Amos (to name a few), and, of course, that constant pain, Jesus. Jesus just doesn't let us off the hook. He challenged everything: Sabbath laws, treatment of the lepers, money exchange in the Temple, treatment of prostitutes, prisoners, and the hungry, attitudes toward Samaritans, even assumptions about the nature of the Kingdom of God.

My experience as a Christian is often joyous, comforting, warm, enlightening, compelling, stimulating, uniting, and liberating.

It can also be a pain in the ass.


 


 


 

Three Beautiful Things 08/02/09: Thronton Rules, CSI Joy, AC Relief

  1. Was the brilliant sermon on David and Nathan delivered by Bishop John Thornton a grand slam? A slam dunk? A rising slap shot between the pipes? A double eagle? An ace?
  2. Speaking of Nathan, our family's Nathan got Gary Sinise's autograph for The "CSI" Deke.
  3. Speaking of the The Deke, she sounded better this evening after the AC was restored in Molly and Hiram's apartment in muggy Denton, TX.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 08/01/09: Blessed Rage for Order, Deli Delight, Rueful Laugh

  1. It's what Wallace Stevens in his poem "The Idea of Order at Key West" calls the blessed rage for order. I continued my summer long project of deleting the thousands of duplicate files from my external storage drive and backed up my July blog posts today. About the storage drive: it has tons of space on it. It's not like the duplicate files are taking up space I desperately need. I don't know what it is: I just want it to be orderly and the duplicate files are disorderly to me ---- I guess, in this regard, I'm not Robert Herrick, as reflected in his poem, "Delight in Disorder"!
  2. Rather than seeming put out as I added Genoa Salami and Australian White Cheddar cheese and six dolmas to my order of Lebanese Bologna, the woman at the deli counter at the Kiva seemed to take delight in my ever increasing order.
  3. The checker at Market of Choice laughed ruefully as she gave me my receipt and told me to enjoy my day, "whatever the weather is."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Watergate Never Goes Away

An amateur historian thinks he might know a way to find out what's was on the 18 1/2 minutes of erased Nixon/Watergate tape, here.

Three Beautiful Things 07/31/09: Return of the Toolbar, Fall Books, Kidney Calm

  1. Kiran is out there in the world somewhere working for Symantec and I needed his help to get my Norton 360 toolbar on the upgraded version of Firefox. He did it. The toolbar is back and so are its features that make my life on Firefox just a little easier and more convenient.
  2. I thought and thought and thought and thought about it and finally decided what books to assign in my courses for fall quarter and I got my book orders in. Relief.
  3. Yeah. So my recent bouts with pneumonia and dehydration and c diff cost me a little more kidney function. Dr. Zachem was calm about it. He thinks some of that loss will be restored, that it's not permanent. Zachem sees a lot of kidneys. It's his job. He's like an airline attendant to me. If a jet starts rocking, I look at the attendants. If they aren't freaked, I don't freak. Zachem wasn't freaked today so I'm not freaked either and will keep working on keeping my blood pressure down and drinking water.

Wainright Gets Dooced: Free Speech in the USA

For some time now, I've been aware of the word "dooced". To get dooced is to be fired from a job for one's website content. The word originates from the experience of Heather Armstrong who was fired for writing satirically on her blog about her work place.

Before I get to the meat of my post, let me digress. I blurk a lot and occasionally comment at Huckleberries Online, a blog originating from the North Idaho office of the Spokesman Review. Every once in a while the blog's ringleader, Dave Oliveria, raises the question about whether people should be able to post comments behind the protection of a pseudonym. The debate rages. Some people say using a pseudonym is gutless. What outrages me, though, is the number of people who say that they would be fired from their jobs if their bosses knew who they were and read their comments. Because they are lewd? Because they are treasonous? Because they are dangerous? No. No. No. It's because of political differences.

It says a lot about the workplace in the USA. Many Americans spend a huge chunk of their waking hours at work and for that span of time they labor where the backbone of the American way of life is most vigorously denied. The workplace is the least democratic place in American life and it's where free speech is the most vigorously denied. Workers, in many jobs, can be fired if they tell another worker what they earn on the job. Workers have little say regarding the conditions of their employment and rarely participate in how the workplace is governed. Unions help. But, most workers are not a part of a union and often have little voice, little power.

It turns out, of course, that it's not just what a person says on the job, or even about the job, that can get them fired.

Take, for example, my friend Rick Wainright, whom I've known for fifty years.

Earlier this week, he was fired from his job as a shuttle bus driver for the American Hospitality Academy because of content in his blog, Myrtle Beach Ramblings - Writing With A Smirk. Rick posted his thoughts about his firing, here, and posted what management wrote to him about his "Gross Misconduct": On July 9, 2009, AHA Management was notified by concerned students about a blog that was written by Richard Wainright. Due to the nature of the comments made in the blog and for the safety and well being of our students, Richard is (to) be terminated from the American Hospitality Academy.

Huh.

I've been reading Rick's blog since its inception back in April, 2007 and I began to wonder which of his posts might be a threat to the safety and well being of his students.

Maybe it was when he wrote, here, his moving account about growing up in Smelterville, Idaho and all of its dilapidation and the bad air and polluted waterways of the Silver Valley, and zeroed in on the unforgettable education he received at Silver King Elementary School, in the shadow of the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant; or, maybe the AHA students would be endangered by the tribute he paid to my mother, his second grade teacher.

Or maybe it was this poem about a father identifying his deceased son:

Lost Time

Never been in this kind of place
Worst task a dad can face
"Is this your son?" unzipping the bag
Name already on the tag
"We found a note, it wasn't much
There with all the drugs and such"
His son's own hand, his heart it tore
"Dear dad, I wish we'd gone fishing more"

Or maybe it was his soulful voice reading the poem over the images of the video he made of the poem, here.

Or maybe it was the piece he wrote, here, about how shuttling these students from all over the world was helping Rick understand his world more fully, how meeting students from Lebanon softened attitudes he had about people from the Middle East, and how these students he was threatening the safety of were changing his life, very much for the better. Rick put it this way in his dangerous blog:

The mission statement of the American Hospitality Academy includes "fostering international goodwill and friendships." The intent is that the goodwill and friendship occur between the interns. A collateral benefit of the program is to teach a very old dog, new tricks. I have grown as a member of the human race from my contact with these fine ambassadors of a culture that I would have gone to my grave despising for no good reason.

Maybe it was Rick's sense of humor. Maybe he shouldn't posted a picture of a Hooter's waitress.

I don't know what in this blog made it a threat to the safety and well being of the students.

I once wrote to Rick, before he was fired, that I thought these AHA students were very fortunate to have such a fine representative of the USA as their shuttle bus driver. He loved these students. He listened to them. He helped them see and understand the USA more fully and clearly.

And for his love and dedication and openness and good will, he got dooced.