Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/10: Relaxing at the Dentist, Finished Weston's Book, Kellogg Ponderings at Appleby's with Amber Ale

1. I made my last visit to the spa dentist’s office today. In the comfort of Dr. Stephenson's chair, I laid back while he replaced a couple of small fillings and put a new crown on a molar. Overhead, the television broadcast, without sound, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and so I played along inside my head while the drill screeched and Anna sprayed water and vacuumed it out of my mouth. Near the end of the procedure, All My Children came on and I was treated to daytime drama as silent movie. It looked like Erica was in a crisis.

2. I finished Julie Whitesel Weston's book
The Good Times Are All Gone Now. Its impact on me increased as Julie's story examined the 1960 strike, her relationship with Doc Whitesel, and her days working for Bob Robson. I'll be working on a series of blog entries inspired by her book. It'll live with me for quite a while and I'll read it repeatedly.

3. After I finished The Good Times Are All Gone Now, I wanted to go to Sam's or the Silverspoon or the Mission Inn or the Hilltop Cafe or the Sprag Pole Inn, somewhere in Kellogg or Kingston or Cataldo or up the river for a Silver Valley hamburger and a cold beer. Nowhere in Eugene even begins to approximate one of these favorite places of mine to eat. So, I went to Appleby's because when Mom and I go to Coeur d'Alene for one thing or another, we often go to Appleby's. I don't drink much at all these days. Shouldn't really. But after spending most of the day in Julie Whitesel Weston's Kellogg, I needed a couple of beers to relax my mind and to go into a state of reverie beer takes me to. So I had a burger and fries and a couple of beers and I stared and pondered and shed a tear or two (when my too helpful waiter wasn't checking on me) and thought about home.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/10: Krakauer and War, Julie Whitesel Weston and Kellogg, Weeding

1. I finished Jon Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory. No matter how much firepower, how many schemes, how sophisticated the planning, how just the cause, or how superior the training, military enterprises are carried out by complicated human beings: flawed, heroic, limited human beings who are in over their heads. I don't know if Jon Krakauer had it in mind as he wrote this book, but the lasting impression it made on me was that no matter who he discussed, whether it was Bush, Clinton, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, generals at the top of the military chain, platoon leaders on site in battles, or Pat Tillman racing up a hill to provide cover for his fellow soldiers, they were all in over their heads, no matter the political party, policy, strategy, religious belief, personal philosophy, or anything else. And, yet, men and women say and write things as if they understand what's happening and as if solutions exist.

2. This evening I started reading The Good Times Are All Gone Now, a combination memoir, oral history, and documentary history of Kellogg written by Julie Whitesel Weston. Her father was the emergency room physician who treated me when I was gassed and blinded in a flash roaster at the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant in July, 1973. I'm learning more about Doc Whitesel, about the immigrants who came to Kellogg, and about how Julie Whitesel Weston experienced (and experiences) Kellogg. She's about ten years older than I am, and this relatively small difference in our ages is significant in accounting for the differences in our experiences growing up in Kellogg. Inevitably, our experiences were different, too, because of the work of our fathers -- as well as my work, following my father's footsteps, at the Zinc Plant. I'm eager to finish Weston's book and reflect on it more. I'm enjoying seeing Kellogg through her eyes and her memory.

3. I got another section of our gardens weeded. I'm doing my best to focus on one section a day. So far, so good.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/10: Ordinary Tears, Krakauer and Homer, Dickel Not Daniels -- But Not Today

1. Pentecost is the Season of the Ordinary. Fittingly, today's was an ordinary Eucharist: collect, readings, hymns, sermon, prayers, passing of the peace, offering, communion. . . Bishop Thornton preached a learned and inspiring sermon....about Jesus casting the demons from Legion into a herd of swine who ran into a lake...but nothing out of the ordinary occurred. It moved me to tears. I sat silent, wiping my eyes, staring, as Marla played the postlude and the church emptied out.

2. Jon Krakauer's book Where Men Win Glory has me in its grip. It's not the Pat Tillman story, per se, that absorbs me. The book's title comes from Homer's The Iliad, and Krakauer does what Homer does:examines the courage and frailty of human life when men and women are in perilious situations beyond their understanding and way beyond their control.

3. I enjoy Trader Joe's lemonade and black tea. As a Trader Joe's guy checked out my groceries, he suggested I drink the lemonade and black tea with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. Lord. That sounded so good. Then I thought, "Actually, if I were going to drink booze today, and if I were to put booze in this lemonade and black tea, I would go to George, not Jack. To Mister Dickel." I didn't bring Mister George Dickel into the house. I didn't mix Mister Dickel with my lemonade and black tea. I wanted to read and water and keep my blood pressure down and go easy on my kidneys. I thought about George Dickel, though, and some of my favorite memories sprang smilingly to mind.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/10: Los Cumbiamberos, Yard Work, Return to Yi Shen

1. Russell and I went on a photo excursion to Fifth Street Market here in Eugene. I hadn't been to Fifth Street for several years and with each new remodel and improvement of the market, I feel more and more out of place. The highlight of our excursion was the live music of Los Cumbiamberos. We listened to three of the members play. Here is their whole group:

2. I'm getting into a yard and garden routine. I weeded the rest of the area near the street today and mowed the front yard. I've got plans for more work tomorrow. I'm trying to keep each day's tasks reasonable. I'm trying to keep up by doing a reasonable amount each day.

3. I loved my chicken, BBQ pork, and tofu yakisoba noodles at Yi Shen today. Russell and I hadn't eaten there for a while. We've tried out some different places. I'm glad we went back to where we've enjoyed many Saturday lunches over the past nine months or so.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/10: Orofino Here We Come, Printer, Remembering Rick's No-No

1. Things are shaping up for the trip to Orofino. I reserved a room today at the Riverside, had a good exchange with Cousin Cyndi, and got some thoughts down here at kellogg bloggin' about the upcoming reunion.

2. My printer worked better today than I remembered it working. That's a plus.

3. Back in June of 1970, Rick Wainright pitched a no-hitter for the Kellogg-Wallace American Legion team against a strong Spokane team, Simchuck's Sporting Goods. Rick still has the score sheet from that game and by the magic of Facebook messaging, we reviewed the game, the stats, and just what an impressive feat Rick achieved. It was really fun remembering that game and getting some facts straight.

Sibling Assignment #131: Baugh/West Reunion in Orofino

I assigned this sibling assignment and it's simple. Over the 9th of July weekend, my sisters and I will join up with our mother and her sister and brother and a whole bunch of cousins for a reunion in Orofino, Idaho. I asked my sisters to respond to this question:
What are you looking forward to when we have our reunion in Orofino?
Silver Valley Girl looks forward to stories, here, and InlandEmpireGirl reflects on family and food, here.

Mom grew up in Orofino. Every summer, we vacationed in Orofino, usually in August, as I remember, and one summer, during the 1960 Bunker Hill strike, we lived in Orofino. I think Dad tended bar that summer for Norm Erbst for some summer income. Maybe he did other things, too. I don't know how many weeks we stayed that summer.

It was the summer Nipper had to be put down for biting Lindy Carr. If he did. It was after he'd been hit by a vehicle and had a gash in his side. I sat with Nipper in the afternoon in Grandma's back garage until Dad took him to the vet. I sprayed Bactine on his cut. I didn't want him to go to that vet.

When I was a kid, I could never quite figure out what made Orofino so different than Kellogg.

It was hotter than Kellogg.

But it was something else.

Now, I know.

It's fresh in Orofino. The air is clean and fresh, the Clearwater River runs clean. Grandma West's garden's soil was black and fertile and her flowers and bushes smelled good. Kellogg's air soured my senses. Orofino's sweetened them. We played hide and seek with the Stanley kids and when we ran to home base, our chests didn't burn.

I look forward to smelling Orofino again, to enjoying its freshness.

But, there's more.

This is harder to write. I hope to make sense.

So, please be patient.

Going to Orofino forces a reckoning upon me. I have to take account of my life and what I do and what I don't do, who I am and who I'm not.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to be different, different than many of Kellogg friends and different than my cousins who live in Orofino, or, sadly, in cousin John's case, who recently died in Orofino.

I don't know how to ride a motorcycle.

I have operated a four-wheeler once, up at Scott's place on The Rock near State Line.

I haven't shot any kind of firearm since I took the rifle safety course in junior high.

I tried running a chain saw once. Hal took it away from me out of fear that I would turn my thigh into ground beef.

Needless to say, I don't hunt.

I don't fish.

I hardly ever go camping.

When I think of all the things that mark so many North Idahoans as North Idahoans, I look at myself and think, I may as well be an English teacher at a community college in Eugene, Oregon.

I unravel metaphors, distinguish semi-colons from colons, repair comma splices, go to meetings where discussion centers around truncated outcomes, unit plans, essential functions, mission statements, and assessment of learning. Assessment of learning is summed up in this Venn diagram:
It makes me think of when Gulf Resources bought out the Bunker Hill Company and began taking measures to run things more efficiently and my dad quit his salaried job as a planner and then a foreman because he was under pressure to see that maintenance jobs were completed according to a spread sheet in line with efficiency forecasts. Being a foreman no longer meant working with other men. It meant reading efficiency formulas. It meant (somehow) enforcing them. It was the rule of the slide rule. He quit. He joined the bull gang, the lowest paying hourly job at the Zinc Plant. He became the labor equivalent of a ditch digger. He was never happier.

Going to Orofino and reuniting with my mother and aunt and uncle and siblings and nieces and cousins makes me step back because I am guaranteed a weekend of things being real.

No jargon. No empty phrases and made up words. No truncated outcomes or culture of evidence:

"Those pies are beautiful, Mary. You ready to ride the four-wheeler? You can give us all the Queen of the Clearwater County Fair wave!"

"Mark, could you get me another beer while yer up? Yeah, a Miller's fine...or a Busch...don't matter."

"Lura, did you get Derek's kid out there to shoot yet? Maybe you oughta take Billy, too!"

"Man, could you believe Cyndi on that Open the Vault machine! She hit five grannies with an eighty cent bet. What did that pay out? Two hundred bucks? How much was it Cyndi?"

"You still drivin' that crappy, Honda, Bill? Why don't you at least buy a car with A/C?"

"Sure miss John."

"I do love me some turkey on the BBQ."

"Everett, will you please say a word of grace?"

When the Baugh/West family gets together and things are real, when we eat, grieve, hug, drink, gamble, scramble on four-wheelers, shoot off a few rounds, laugh, tell stories, go up to Lila's, go up to Peck, run out of time, promise to do it again next year, it doesn't matter that I'm a little different, that I took a different path.

Still, I think about it, being different.

But once I hear some stories, have a couple of beers, chow down on some pot luck, and everyone gets their laugh on, it's not about being different or the same or any of that stuff.

It's about love.

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/10: No More Sea, Sorting, NBA Draft Memories

1. It looks like the spigot/hose connections are fixed: no more Adriatic Sea with each yard watering, I hope.

2. I'm trying to get my electronic products sorted out. What works? What doesn't? What cords go to what? My possessions are modest, for sure, but need sorting out.

3. Listening to the NBA Draft on ESPN radio while sorting electronics, I thought, again, about how things have changed over the last fifteen years, or so. It used to be, I really knew something about players coming into the NBA draft. They had played college ball for three or four years, I'd watched them develop in college; they were familiar to me. Not any more. For one thing, I don't watch college basketball on television. What's more, premium players leave for the NBA after a year, sometimes two, occasionally three years of college ball and I just don't get familiar with them. It's funny. The best part of following the NBA draft and knowing players better when I was younger was predicted not who would succeed, but who would bomb. Earlier today discusson on ESPN radio looked at such players, ones drafted high since the lottery started -- Dennis Hopson, Chris Washburn, for example and I thought of pre-lottery bombs like Joe Barry Carroll, Keith Lee, Sam Bowie...Lord only knows why remembering such things is so fun for me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/2010: World Cup Hustle, Yard and Garden Tour, Hannah

1. As a sports fan, I love the hustle play: diving for loose balls in basketball or never giving up on a rebound, a fielder extending his whole body, diving to snare a liner; in golf, it's the scrambler, the player who turns what looks like a bogey into a par with imaginative shot making out of trouble. I watched the replay of Landon Donovan's winning goal against Algeria, and my to my untrained eye (I don't know jack about soccer), it looked like he made a great hustle play. It was thrilling in replay. It must have been exhilarating live, especially to the knowledgeable soccer fan.

2. I did a full tour of the yard and garden, watered everything, and overall things look solid. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to photograph our yards' new look....I think it will require a ladder.

3. I've noticed Hannah before at Trader Joe's. She's earnest, eager to help customers, very friendly, and kind. I saw her one time, as a civilian, at Barnes and Noble, and she was exactly the same way in the conversation she was having with a friend. I was in her check out line today and marveled at how she handled two potentially challenging situations ahead of me. Both customers left the store happy. She didn't say anything to me as she started checking out my stuff. No exasperation. No shaking of the head. No rolling of the eyes. Just a cheery "find everything okay?" a quick praise of my extra sharp cheddar cheese, and, in no time, I was on my way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/2010: Deke and Charly and Olivia, Cuz Blowout, Drumrongthai

1. The Deke safely arrived in Newark and then New Windsor and now is happily in the company of Charly for the first time in since August and is ready to have Granddaughter Olivia adjust to having a grandmother around the house.

2. The Orofino Baugh/West Last Cuz Standing Blow-Out is taking shape. I've been running some figures and it looks like we have 172 hours of activities to squeeze into a 72 hour weekend. I haven't factored sleep in yet.


3. A Thai food business has popped up recently in a boldly painted trailer nearby. It's called Drumrongthai. I strolled over there, knowing they only accept cash, with no cash, darn it, to check out the menu and prices. Here's a look at Drumrongthai, located on the little wedge of concrete at 6th and Blair Blvd.

(It's not my picture [it's from the Eugene Weekly] and I don't know who the people in it are.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/2010: Wallet, Dorris Ranch, Thai-Hop Green Curry Magnificence

1. I found the Deke's wallet. It was in the outdoor garbage can. Let's leave it at that..... :)

2. Michelle wrote so beautifully this past quarter about Dorris Ranch I had to visit. I've lived in Lane County for thirty years and today was my first visit. I've really missed out. Russell and I went to Dorris Ranch to walk and snap photos. I'll check out my photos tomorrow to see if any are blogworthy. I'll check out my photos tomorrow to see if any are blogworthy. I'm sure none of my photos will convey how stunning I found Dorris Ranch.

3. Tonight, well, I can't explain it exactly, but the Green Curry dish from Thai-Hop tasted magnificent. I had that experience of eating something that should be familiar but was so good it was if it I'd never had a Green Curry before.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/2010: Cool Water(ing), West Side Funnies, Father's Day Memories

1. It's been blissfully cool and gray for most of the month of June. I've deeply appreciated not having to endure heat, not to mention the glare of sunshine. Nonetheless, it hasn't rained for a few days so I watered the lawns this morning.

2. I had a fun time exchanging Facebook comments with my cousins on the West side of the family.

3. The U.S. Open always concludes on Father's Day and always makes me think of all the fourth rounds I shared with my dad and all the phone calls we had about the U. S. Open after I moved to Oregon. I used to wait until the U.S. Open concluded, call Dad, wish him happy Father's Day, and then we'd talk about what each of enjoyed in the U. S. Open. Our dreams would have come true if Lee Trevino or Ray Floyd won it each year, but we always appreciated what a dignified winner Jack Nicklaus was.

Sunday Scribblings: Birth and Father's Day

With my days more open during the summer, I'm going to make an effort to write in response to the weekly Sunday Scribbling prompts again. This week's topic is birth, and you can see what others wrote by going here.

The Old Man and the Sea

I've going back and forth this morning between writing online and mowing our lawns and watering our lawns and gardens.

It's Father's Day and Dad is on my mind.

I've been thinking about when he first became a father, when I was born (since I am the oldest of us three kids), what my father was born into.

To begin with, I have to believe he was born into a wilderness without a compass or a map. I don't know this. Dad never told me it felt this way. But, Dad didn't have a father in his life. His father was a drunk, a dead beat, and a scoundrel who eventually abandoned his family. Dad was five years old when he last saw his father.

The subject of his father, Lance Woolum, was forbidden to be talked about in our home.

That means that my dad did not have a father to coach his baseball team, instruct him how to swing a baseball bat, play catch in the yard, teach him how to shoot a basketball, take him to the ball yard to see the local guys play baseball, bring him into the fold of his adult friends; he did not have a father to teach him how to work, help him get jobs, be an example of never missing a day of work, talk to him about swimming in the river; he never heard his father speak with admiration of his mother, heard his father sing "By the Light of the Silvery Moon", let alone "God Bless America"; he never had a father show him how to lay nicknames on people, give those he loved as much shit as possible, encourage him to play music, speak reverently of John Wayne and Jack Benny; he never had a father get up at the crack of dawn to drive him to 7th grade baskeball practice or drive him around his Sunday newspaper route when the papers were too heavy to carry by himself.

No one taught my dad how to do any of those things. He was born into fatherhood without a pattern to follow, and, yet, he did all of the above for me.

I went through a period of time about twenty-five years ago when all I could think of was how my dad drank too much and was angry because I told myself I had missed out on so much.

During those years, I didn't think about my dad as a fatherless child. I was thinking mostly about myself, feeling like I'd been cheated out of all kinds of good times with my father because he was often drunk.

And he was.

But then things changed inside me and luckily this happened a few years before he died.

I put myself in this shoes. I began to imagine what he'd been born into, especially the poverty and his being without a father and I began to realize all that he'd done for me, all he'd given me of his heart and soul, all he taught me. Those feelings of anger and being cheated began to feel childish. They dissolved.

No father can be perfect. Mine had deep flaws.

But Dad never followed the example of his own father. He never abandoned his family. As he would say about other hard things in life, "he stuck his nose in there" and without the help of his own father and without any books by Bill Cosby or any workshops about being a father and maybe with a little instruction from Dick Costa up at his favorite watering hole, Dick and Floyd's, he learned, he figured it out, and by the end matured into a father with a deep sense of responsibility and a love that went far beyond sentimentality.

He was born into a wilderness without a map and compass and ended up building a sure trail and finding his way.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/2010: Ritta and Memories, Bloggin', Walking Miss Maggie

1. Ritta's Burritos has been in business since 1978 and I moved to Eugene in August of 1979 and I'm thinking it wasn't too long, too many weeks or months or years after moving here that I ate my first Ritta Burrito. I had one and a half Ritta Burritos today. It had been several years since I ate one and memories of my early days in graduate school, of hanging out with Doug and Jeff, of street fairs at the U. of O., of family members working for at Ritta's booth, of Ritta's restaurant years ago on Monroe Street, and even memories of the Oregon Country Fair overcame me as I ate the burrito and a half the Deke brought home from the Saturday Market.

2. I've been devoting more time to this blog. I'm caught up on back sibling assignments and am enjoying having the time to get some writing done. Next up: watch some movies!

3. Tomorrow and again for about ten days starting on Tuesday, I'll be in charge of both Snug and Maggie. I'm going to walk Maggie around the block when it's time for her to do her business. I did that today and it was really pleasant. One of our neighbors who lives on our block saw me and did a funny double take. He's used to seeing me walk Snug and I could tell he thought Snug shrunk.

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/2010: Rum and Coke, Thoughtfulness, Breakfast Pleasure

1. We went over the Pendleton's for a delicious steak dinner and I let my hair down a little and drank some alcohol for the first time since February. The booze was great. I'd forgotten just how perfect Coca Cola and Rum taste together.

2. I relish and cherish it when stuff I hear back from friends about stuff I write in my blog concerning my love for the times I get to have with my Kellogg friends. Some very thoughtful comments floated into my Facebook account. They made me very happy.

3. I hadn't fixed myself a big breakfast for a while and this morning hash browns, two fried eggs, Farmhouse multi-grain toast, three strips of bacon, and juice really hit the spot. It was simple, straight ahead, and satisfying.

Sibling Assignment #130: April Stuff, or, Here's what I Did Since I Couldn't Meet the Assignment..

Silver Valley Girl gave us the last assignment relating to the theme of April. "The name April is very common for girls born in this month. Write about a person you know whose name is April, and what impact they have made on your life."

InlandEmpireGirl wrote about a friend I will meet in a few weeks, here.

Maybe I should wait until after the Northwest Inland Writing Project retreat to write this post. Chance are i would then know a person named April who has made an impact on my life.

Right now: no one.

I've known a couple of women named April, but one was a friend of Silver Valley Girl's, so I only knew her when she was in grade school and the other is a past student of mine. I think she'll be student again in the fall. I don't want to write about someone with whom I only have a student teacher relationship.

Therefore, I'm putting the term "April" in the search engine and see what fun, maybe even interesting, links emerge:

Here's a list of of the Museum of Hoaxes Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes.

Wikipedia has all kinds of facts and trivia about April, here.

I used to sit at the stereo for hours and play and replay Deep Purple's song "April". It's here.

April 19th, today, is Humorous Day. Tomorrow the stakes go up. It's Cuckoo Day. Go here and see a long list of Holidays and Special Days that fall in April -- plus, you'll learn that April if more than just National Poetry month.

Want to know what happened in history in April? Go here.

Or how about the history of April Wine?

Want relationship advice? April writes what Dear Abby will never print and what your shrink doesn't have the guts to tell you. Find out what April has to say, here.

I think that's enough. Sorry I haven't know any one named April well enough to write about her.

I hope one or two of these links tickled you....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sibling Assignment #129: Thanksgiving at Martin Creek

Silver Valley Girl gave the third sibling assignment this month around the theme of April. "In the movie “Pieces of April”, the plot centers around the main character April fixing her estranged family Thanksgiving dinner. Pick a holiday meal our family has shared in the past, and write about it."

InlandEmpireGirl wrote about the celebration of our mom being done with cancer treatments, here.

Thanksgiving 2008.

It was perfect.

It combined all that I most enjoy in my life, even if it all was squeezed into the shortest of time frames.

On Wednesday afternoon, I flew into Spokane and Silver Valley Girl's family picked me up and we drove to Martin Creek. We were about to celebrate Thanksgiving at InlandEmpireGirl's house.

I love going to Martin's Creek and being at InlandEmpireGirl's home.

Her house is warm, inviting, even cozy and there's something about the air, its smells, its dryness, in northeast Washington state, especially at Martin Creek, that invigorates my lungs and triggers happy memories of past visits, times I have gone to Martin Creek alone and times, say, when celebrating JEJ and IEG's wedding that further warms me.

I just always feel good there.

IEG teaches at the Inchelium school, on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; over the years she's become intimately involved with the tribe's traditions and food.

So, for this Thanksgiving, IEG served a Pacific Northwest Native American feast with grilled salmon accompanied by Scarlet Autumn Salad and cranberries, squash, root vegetables, nuts, and fruit. You can see the recipes, here.

I urge my writing students all the times to focus on details, to create feeling through physical details, to tell detailed stories.

I honestly can't do that about this day. All I can do is say that I felt warm, at home, felt a deep sense of belonging. I laughed. I prayed thanks. I admired my family:

I also admired the desserts!

Did we play games? Did the rest of the family play games while I rested? Did any funny sayings or memorable quotations come out of this Thanksgiving dinner and weekend?

I can't remember. I'm sure there were no appliance melt downs. No power outage. No stopped up plumbing.

What I remember most is feeling warm, happy, and loved.