Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/10: Jack, David, Turner Is Born Today

1.  Jack

2.  David

3.  Turner, son of Adrienne and Nathan was born today. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/10: Isaiah Moved Me, Rumi Reunion, Hot Chicken Soup

1.  Sometimes, in my role as a lector at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, the Old Testament lesson I've been asked to read moves me and I fight back tears and try not to let the congregation see my chin quiver.   Today, these words from Isaiah 2:1-5 had such an impact, especially this:  "they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."  It's a stirring vision of God's Kingdom, which as Bishop Thornton reminded us, "is at hand."

2.  Reading Rumi paper after Rumi paper meant going back to Rumi poem after Rumi poem to reread poems my students wrote on.  I hadn't read some of those poems for a while.  I enjoyed the Rumi reunion.

3.  This time, first I baked the chicken.  Then I took the meat off the bone and boiled the bones for a rich broth.  I made chicken soup, a big pot, and so Molly and Olivia and I will have soup for the rest of the week.

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/10: Duck Fan Betting Man, Vietnamese/Chinese Double Dip, Ushpizin

1.  I ate Eggs Benedict at GJ's alone and listened to person after person, at table upon table, analyze Boise State's heart crushing loss and Auburn's superb win.  The last comment I heard as I was leaving was from a Duck fan:  "Man, I love the Ducks.  You know I love the Ducks.  But, man, it's money. My money.  I'm layin' my bet down on Auburn. Family first.  I can't be losin' money."

2.  I've never done this before:  I double dipped.  First I went to Yi-Shen and sat down for a plate of Yakisoba noodles and then, hankering for some pork fried rice, got the combo dinner special to go from Jade Palace and ate the Mar Far chicken and pork fried rice.  I didn't eat the crunchy noodle vegetarian chow mein.  I didn't like it. 

3.  I watched the intriguing Israeli movie, "Ushpizin".  "Ushpizin" tells the story of an Orthodox Jewish couple who have little money and who, according to the requirements of tradition, host two guests (Ushpizin) who show up unexpectedly.  They are prison escapees and because they arrive during the celebration of Succoth, the couple must take them in. The visit tests the couple in multiple ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed being invited into this world of Orthodoxy I had never visited before and watching such a humane story unfold.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/10: Photos with Russell and Mary, Movie Memories, Drunken Noodle Problem Solving

1.  Mary is Russell's wife Anne's sister.  She came to Eugene from back east for Thanksgiving.  Mary likes taking pictures and has enjoyed viewing Russell's photos over the last many months since Russell and I started shooting on Saturdays.  She joined us today.  Russell and I enjoy taking pictures in the Whiteaker neighborhood and thought Mary would enjoy strolling and shooting there, too.  She did.  I sure enjoyed having Mary join us and seeing the pictures she posted.

2.  Over the course of our stroll, the subject of movies came up and Mary and I got to talking about a string of movies from about 1977-1982 or so that we enjoyed back then:  "Chilly Scenes of Winter", "The Return of the Secaucus 7", "Cutter's Way" -- I added "Tell Me a Riddle" and "Between the Lines".  These were movies I was obsessed with around the time of the demise of my first marriage (a coincidence) and when I returned home I thought of others:  "Inserts", "Heart Beat", "Melvin and Howard", "Local Hero" and on and on.  I remembered Cinema 7, the Magic Lantern, my 1982 Betamax....I'm surprised I could even shoot a photograph.  My mind was so filled with cinematic pleasures and memories.  It was fun to share some of my Private Eccentric Pleasures. 

3.  With the world of movies under control, Russell, Mary, and I solved the world's social and political problems over Thai food at Chao Pra Ya (since Yi Shen, to our disappointment, was closed...).  We did such a good job that when I got home I expected to read headlines on yahoo news that everything had fallen into place in the world, but, alas, it seems we didn't quite have the impact I'd hoped for.  But the talking was sure fun!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/10: Pondering Family, Pondering Friends, Pondering Middleboro. . . and Two Bonuses

1.  I enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day of pondering.  I think more than anything I'm thankful for my family.  Today pondering great times I had in 2010 with the Deke and my stepkids and my mom and my sisters and reliving the fun and laughter and conversation and good food of the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny warmed my entire day, made cleaning the kitchen a couple of times, cooking a roast for Molly, Olivia, and me, eating dinner together a sustained pleasure. 

2.  But, that's not all.  I pondered all the laughter and good times I've shared with friends, friends from Kellogg High School, friends from Whitworth College, from North Idaho College, and friends here in Eugene.  Will I ever experience such a year again with friends?  Kellogg friends congregated for food and dancing and a ton of laughs at Diane's over Presidents Day; reunion with Jane Eischen and hours over Thai food; friends everywhere I looked, everywhere I went in Kellogg during the All Class reunion; I saw Jeff again and Virginia Tinsley joined us; more friends gathered at Carol and Jake's wedding, friends I hadn't seen for years; part of the Westminster Study Group gathered for 24 hours of sweetness and light at the Lacy's on the Kalama River; the Rocket is back; Ed and I met for some gaming and buffet in Pendleton on Veteran's Day; photos with Russell, Thursdays at Billy Macs, coffee on Hilyard Street, the Troxstar Collective:  ponder, ponder, ponder.   My pondering was punctuated today with text messages back and forth with Stu, doing one of our favorite things:  naming old NFL players:  Sammie Baugh, Amos Marsh, Milt Plum, Lem Barney, Gail Cogdill, Dick Bass, Les Josephson, Buck Pope and on and on.  Each text a new laugh, another ponder.

3.  And that's not all.  I pondered my gratitude for this funny social networking site, Facebook, and how this group of friends who are all connected to Middleboro, Massachusetts and to the Troxstar himself said yes to letting me join in for smart talk, good music, fun stories, great pictures, wry humor, opinionated talk, and a ton of fun.  I was all relaxed following my post-dinner Thanksgiving nap, getting ready to go to sleep for the night, and Becca popped up on my FB page and we chatted about family and kids and mothers and music and had a few laughs and it was a great way to close a Thanksgiving Day of gratitude and pondering.

Bonus:  Dinner was really fun.  Molly and I put what skill we have together and made a pork roast dinner with potatoes and gravy and stove top stuffing (that was really good!) and Brussel sprouts and topped it off with a Bailey's and saved the pie for today (well, and sampled it on Wednesday!).  We had fun working together and having a very relaxed meal.  We put the low back in low key and I enjoyed it a lot.  (Btw, Olivia didn't enjoy it so much....she was squirmy and didn't like our food all that much..so it was a more challenging dinner for Molly than it was for me.)

Bonus 2:  Pat Kenyon returned the word pondering to my life.  I ponder all the time, but I didn't have the right word.  Now I do.  My many thanks, Pat.  Hope to catch you down the road in the Silver Valley before too long.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/10: Conversations, Pondering, Rocky's

1.  It's funny.  The day before Thanksgiving is the worst attended day in the school year and many would say the academic year's least productive day.  But, there's an upside:  talking to individual students.  Today I had at least a half a dozen really good talks with students and it was largely because so few other students were around.  I enjoyed these conversations an awful lot.

2.  Molly and Olivia and I will be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together and Molly gave me a short list of a few more things we need for dinner.  After some enjoyable shopping (the spirit in the store was wonderful), I went to the High Street Brewery and Cafe for two pints of pondering, also known as Hammerhead Ale.  It was quiet.  I pondered the good fortune in my life, especially the many great people I know.  My pondering mood was sweetened even further when the mix taped playing over the sound system suddenly played the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed".  The quiet. The Hammerhead. My pondering.  The Grateful Dead.  Bliss.

3.  Rocky's chicken with apple sausage fried with onion and red bell pepper and served over basmati rice:  a great dinner. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/10: Ice Day, Crazy Heart, Happy Family

1.  Icy conditions throughout Lane County meant school closed.  I can get caught up on  reading and grading my students' in-class writings on Rumi.  Oh, wait.  Crap.  No I can't.  I left those papers in my office.  Sooo...

2.  Guess I'll watch a movie: Crazy Heart.  The acting in this movie entertained me at the deepest level.  Jeff Bridges.  Lord.  I've loved his work ever since The Last Picture Show on through Cutter's Way, Starman, and forward to The Big Lebowski and beyond.  I mean who hasn't.  Once again, as I've seen him do countless times with other roles, he completely occupies the character of Bad Blake.  I also loved Maggie Gyllenhall, Robert Duvall, and Colin Farrell.  The acting made the movie for me.  I didn't really enjoy the story line all that much.  I liked the music, the acting, and the visual pleasures of the landscapes, but the story?  Not that much.

3.  I fixed dinner tonight:  baked chicken with a bunch of half onions.  Broasted potatoes.  Broccoli.  I used that Greek seasoning on the chicken with butter.  The chicken was moist and delicious.  The spuds, onions, and broccoli worked as well.  Debbie, Molly, and I were a happy family at the dinner table tonight. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/10: Harry Potter Takeover, Siskana's Success, The Steak Challenge Continues

1.  My WR 121 students sat face to face and discussed reconciliation as exemplified and explored in The Souvenir.  I'm impressed with how they are thinking about this difficult topic.  Then, after a short break, and late in the period, one of my students mentioned that he had worked at the local multi-plex where Harry Potter was showing on fifteen screens all through the night when it opened.  This got our discussion off track talking about the Harry Potter phenomenon in a delightful way and I cheerfully threw up my hands, broke into a big smile, and said I didn't think we could recover our earlier discussion and ended class a little early.  The students all laughed.

2.  I was eager to be a part of yesterday's composition instructors' meeting.  Our new coordinator, Siskana, led the meeting for her first time.  She did a splendid job.  Even though we weren't always discussing how we teach our classes, such discussion was always close by and I came away doing a lot of self-examination about how I teach writing, a good thing for an old dog like me.

3.  Debbie brought home a nice chunk of sirloin steak.  I was assigned the job of cook.  I am inexperienced in steak cookery and I tried my hardest to do a good job.  Molly and Debbie enjoyed what I cooked, but I thought my piece was a little overcooked.  I tried to get the steaks right where I wanted them by using a meat thermometer, but, in my mind, didn't fully succeed.  I don't quite have the hang of frying steaks.  Two things come to mind:  I want more practice and I'm thinking Lura and others are correct that a George Foreman grill is the way to go.  I'm going to get a GF grill, but, still, I'm determined to cook steak better on the electric frying pan. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/10: Holiday Market Misery Relieved, Baby Central, Spicy Ginger Fish

1.  Russell and I went to Holiday Market and the indoor Farmers' Market to shoot pictures.  I do not enjoy the Holiday Market at all.  It's claustrophobic and noisy and the booths are jam packed with merchandise that makes my head ache.  Tons of people love it, though, and it was really fun to run into Patsy and then, with her help, go to Linda's booth and have a great talk about Outlaw Country and share some belly laughs.  All of my Holiday Market discomfort evaporated as Linda made me laugh my head off and, I'm happy to say, my angst and irritation was even further relieved when Russell and I stumbled upon the Blair Street Mugwumps, a supremely talented and entertaining local jug band.  Here's a picture, in sepia, I took of them:

2.  Melissa and Chris brought their baby, Helena, over and we had dinner.  Mary joined in, too.  With both Helena and Olivia in the house and with Adrienne's baby due to arrive soon, our place reverberated with baby admiration, baby noise, laughter at what babies do, stories about babies, baby hopes, baby dreams, baby forecasts, comparison of baby notes, and the general good baby cheer I'm learning more and more all the time that babies inspire in the adults in their lives. 

3.  I was very happy with the spicy ginger fish at Yi Shen this afternoon.  The more I roam the Yi Shen menu, the happier I am that Russell and I have lunch there nearly every Saturday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/10: More Jimmie Dale, Bible Talk at Coffee, A Better Understanding

1.  MB and I enjoyed a short Jimmie Dale Gilmore concert in our respective offices via YouTube and Jeff joined in to talk about the Flatlanders and the concerts MB attended. 

2.  MB, Jeff, Michael and I got together for coffee after an hour long meeting at school and I was a little surprised by how deeply positive I am that I think The Bible as Literature would be a wonderful course to offer at LCC and how even more deeply positive I am that I would never want to teach it.  I am deeply dismayed by the politics that surround the Bible, deeply dismayed by Christians and non-Christians alike who have made the Bible a battleground, a battleground that impedes open inquiry into the multiple ways the Bible can be read, studied, understood, and discussed.  I'm not interested in entering that battle in a college classroom. 

3.  During our conference, one of my quieter and underperforming students opened up to me about the family conflicts she's in the middle of and writing about in her essay about happiness, and suddenly I understood why my WR 121 course is probably not one of her chief concerns and how her reserved manner and sketchy schoolwork have succeeded in disguising her intelligence and sensitivity. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/10: Off Topic, Hammerhead Pondering, Early to Bed

1.  Yes, it demands a lot of me to meet one student after another over several hours to help each one revise her/his essay, but it's my favorite way to teach, especially when conversation wanders away from the essay a bit and I learn more about their lives, their work, avocations, families, and difficulties.

2.  After I went to Trader Joe's, I went to the North Bank for two pints of Hammerhead Ale.  The time I spent drinking these ales gave me some time to ponder my work, my family, my friends, and the world of sports.  It's fun to sit down where no one knows me, drink two slow ales, and let my mind off the leash and invite it to wander.  It's relaxing as well.

3.  For the second night in a row I was asleep at 8:00.  Sometimes it's what I need to do in order to keep my mind fresh and my disposition sweet in my work.  It works.

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/10: God Essays, Potato Surprise, Rarity of Reconciliation

1.  My students are revising their essays exploring their sources of happiness and it's heartening to to help those who regard God as the Source from which all happiness originates express this truth in ways that have integrity in an academic setting. 

2.  I didn't know that the potatoes the Deke prepared as a side to tonight's pork chops was a combination of russet and sweet potatoes and I loved the surprise of popping a surprise chunk of sweet potato in my yap when i thought it was going to be russet.

3.  One of my students and I are the same age and we had a long talk about her happiness paper and began to talk about what a rare experience reconciliation between broken parties is, but how sometimes the first steps toward reconciliation can arise out unexpected events, such as her son asking that both she and the son's father both be at his high school graduation. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/10: Gnats in the Wind, Who's Speaking?, Car Care

1.  Sparrow read "Gnats Inside the Wind" to the class as we looked at different Rumi poems and I thought I was a real card when I said it reminded me of my favorite Kansas song, "Gnats in the Wind".  Then for the rest of the day, I kept singing to myself, "Gnats in the wind/All we are is gnats in the wind."

2. I heard myself saying things about Rumi's poetry I'd never said before and I wondered who that was saying those things.

3.  It's kind of like going to see Dr. Stephenson, my dentist, only it's Dan at EuroAsian:  competent, no fake friendliness, quick, reliable.  It's like Dr. Stephenson's office where I almost look forward to going to the dentist.  EuroAsian almost makes me look forward to having my oil changed or my brakes replaced.

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/10: Brails, Carmen, Stew

1.  I met the Turners at Brails for breakfast and we had a great time gobbling down breakfast and having a gabfest.

2.  I saw Carmen!  I held her!  She puked on me!

3.  Deke's beef stew:  Divine.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/10: Ducks Take Me Back Eleven Years, Gateway Photo Shoot, Basil Curry at Yi Shen

1.  The Ducks' 15-13 win over Cal today took me back to November 13, 1999 when Oregon defeated Cal, in Berkeley, 24-19 and the game came down to the last minute and I listened to it in a hospital bed, just a day or so after I'd come out of the coma I'd been in since November 9 when the Walshes rushed me to the hospital and I was wheeled into the ER with bacterial meningitis, and I remember feeling uplifted, despite being so seriously ill, by the Ducks' gallant effort that day.  Today I was relieved.

2.  Russell and I went to Gateway Mall to get out of the rain and shoot pictures.  I haven't decided yet whether to post any of mine.  I need to return to them and see if they look any better tomorrow than they did today.  Russell's are superb, and, who knows, I might feel better about mine after some time has passed.

3.  I tried a new dish at Yi Shen today:  Basil Curry over rice with pork.  Loved it.

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/10: Eastern Oregon Splendor, Pure and Crooked, Hiram's Visit

1.  A perfect visual day from Pendleton until the Cascades and the rain forest intruded at Hood River.  I love how open and panoramic the view is from Pendleton to Hood River and in the early afternoon November light on under the pale blue November sky the golden humps on the Washington side of the Columbia seemed to change colors from purple to green to yellow to golden to gray and the Poplar Farm out between Hermiston and Boardman . . . man. . . those trees have matured and now, on November 11th and 12th, those thousands of poplars have mature leaves and they'd turned, as if tree were a campfire, blazing with orange, making it hard to drive straight. 

2.  Back in about 1990 Annette and I bought a CD player and subscribed to Dirty Linen and a free CD came with that subscription:  Iain Matthews' Pure and Crooked.  I played that CD over and over back in 1990-91 and go back to it every once in a while to see if it still moves me.  It does.  I popped it in the player today and played favorite songs like "Rains of '62" and "New Shirt" and "Perfect Timing" over and over again, my chest quaking, singing along, a big smile, memories and thoughts flooding me.  It was a fine I-84 concert.

3.  The visit was brief, but it was great to see Hiram and I enjoyed seeing him have some time with Olivia, feeding her, reading to her, holding her, being a good dad.   I feel for him having to go back to Virginia so soon, but I have to believe the short visit and some time with Molly and Olivia was good for them all.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/10: Chris Supertramp Rufus Rumi, Wild Horse Seafood Buffet, Yakkin' it Up North Idaho Style

1.  When I go on trips like driving from Eugene to Pendleton, and when I have a car with a CD player, I never know what kind of impact the concerts I play for myself will have.  Today, somewhere out near The Dalles or Biggs or Rufus but before Boardman, I played Supertramp and, as always, "Take the Long Way Home" transported me back to 1996 and Linda Williams playing Martha in the LCC production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", dancing in front of a mirror as prologue to the play and then I fast forwarded to Chris McCandless who called him self Supertramp in Into the Wild and I've always thought he wanted to find a home and realized while in Alaska that he needed others, was going to head back to his family, that he had taken the long way home, but died before he could get there.  And then, inexplicably, the Rumi tears came back when I was listening to "The Logical Song".  I don't know why I suddenly flashed on Coleman Barks and longing and how the love we long for suddenly appears in a teacher or a lover, and they were there all along, but the it's not really them.  Why did I experience "The Logical Song" as "The Illogical Longing Song"?  I don't know and I don't know why I have these times when Supertramp just plain knocks me out.  Like today.  Along the Columbia River.  On I-84.  Somewhere, say where Rufus is.

2.  Ed and I jawed for a while playing machines and then we explored The Wild Horse separately and reunited for steak, breaded shrimp, seafood salad, chicken, green beans, green salad, smoked salmon, and other seafood buffet delight washed down with a cold long-necked bottle of Budweiser beer. 

3.  Over dinner, as well as in the bar beforehand while we waited for our table, our yakking was good:  Shoshone County politics, who'd died recently in Shoshone County, Ed's work in Orofino and his enjoyable dining at the Ponderosa, among other places, and, to my great pleasure, Ed's praise for how friendly the people in Orofino are and how much he enjoyed working there. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/10: Rumi Tears, Sendora Ignorance, Great Conversations

1.  I have to sit out of view of my students when I play the video "Love's Confusing Joy" in class because I need a private place to let the tears roll when the reading of Coleman Barks, the music of The Paul Winter Consort, and the poetry of Rumi combine to deeply move me.

2.  I rolled off the Enterprise lot in a KIA Sendora.  I don't have any idea what that means.  All it's got to do it get me to P-TownEast to the Wild Horse Casino and back again.

3.  I left campus later than usual today thanks to conversations with William, Jilly, Christina, Jay, Kate, Russell, Linda, Siskana, Lynn, Anne, Linda, and possibly others.  If having so many conversations means I'm a little tardy getting home, I'll take it.  What a fun way to get delayed. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/10: Nearly Buffalo Beer, Buffalo Wings, Fun Poker

1.  Russell and Anne invited me over to their place to watch the final table of the WSOP Main Event.  I volunteered to bring Buffalo Wings and Anne said that in Buffalo people often have pizza with wings so I thought, "Well, if this is a Buffalo night, I'll see if I can find some beer brewed in Buffalo."  I had to go to MOChoice while my oil was being changed.  No Buffalo beer.  Then I went to the Beer Stein.  No luck.  I decided then I'd go to Albertson's and get some Canadian beer.  Anne told me Molson was popular in Buffalo back in her grad school days.  At Albertson's, however, I found some beer brewed in Rochester, NY:  B.J. King's Wingwalker Lager, Amber, and Pale Ale.  I bought two bottles of each and hoped it would serve as a close enough to Buffalo beer for our get together.

2.  I had a lot of fun cooking up the chicken.  First, some boneless, unseasoned chicken for Olivia.  Second, some Buffalo Tenders for Molly.  Last, Buffalo Wings for Russell, Anne, and me.  I fried the wings very deliberately, wanting to make sure I cooked them all the way through and this deliberateness slowed me down, made me a little late for our evening together, but it was worth it:  Russell and Anne praised the Buffalo Wings.  It was the first time I fixed Wings for anyone outside our family.  And they worked.  It was very gratifying. 

3.  My evening with Anne and Russell was bigger than the Buffalo Wings and beer I brought over.  We had a fun time watching the poker, sweating out some of the more dramatic hands, and feeling collective bafflement at the play of Joseph Cheong as he plummeted, when three player's remained, from chip leader to out of the tournament.  What possessed him to get so unnecessarily aggressive, we wondered.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/10: Student Happiness Success, Installation Success, Pork Tenderloin Success

1.  One of my students, I'll call her Stormy, wrote a brilliant paper on happiness and it was a pleasure to see her work out so many fine insights and make so many good moves in her work.

2.  First comes the buying of the stove and dishwasher and them comes the getting the machines here and the installation.  It's all completed and I enjoyed how happy the Deke was with having these new appliances in our kitchen.

3.  I had bought a pork tenderloin and decided to see if I could prepare it well.  Out came the electric frying pan and I seasoned the pork with thyme and pepper and salt and seared it before cooking it at a lower heat and it came out perfectly, as did the potatoes and onions that rest at its side.  This made me and the rest of the family very happy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/10: For All the Saints, Home Improvements, Farvageddon

1.  We celebrated All Saints Day at St. Mary's Episcopal Church with an 11:00 Solemn High Eucharist.  I love the hymn "For All the Saints" and we sang the first four verses to open worship and the last four to close.  I think I sang too loud and I probably shouldn't have been whistling the tune during the Scripture readings, but that hymn's melody carries me away.

2.  The Deke went all unilateral today at Oldfield's and bought us a new kitchen stove/oven and dishwasher.  When she went out, I was just hoping she'd pick up some groceries.

3.  Mark this as the day when I declared next week's invasion of Soldier Field by the Minnesota Vikings as so biblical, so epic, so terrifying that it can only be called Farvageddon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/10: Blue Afternoon, Lawn Chair Salon, Canon S90

1.  The morning cloudiness gave way to a clear afternoon, as is apparent in this picture I took of the underside of leaf in the Whitaker Neighborhood.

2.  I was in the Whitaker Neighborhood here in Eugene because it's where Russell and I took our weekly photography safari this week.  It's a perfect place for taking pictures:  colorful, rarely generic, and sometimes eccentric.  For example, these were the lawn chairs in front of one residence:

3.  Russell and I have been talking about cameras and the subject of the Canon S95 came up and Russell pulled out his Canon S90 and let me take pictures with it.  I photographed this sign of dismay in the Whitaker Neighborhood and Russell studying the countless staples blanketing this fence near the sign.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/10: Lawn Fed, Camera Safari, Hammerhead Reverie

1.   I drove over to Down to Earth, bought way too much lawn fertilizer.  That's all right.  I'll just have enough to fertilize our lawn until the year 2030.  But I did fertilize after raking, mowing, and raking again and I hope I got something like the right amount applied.  I don't think I hurt anything.

2.  I went on camera safari:  I looked at the Nikon D5000 at Costco where it sells for a good price with a couple of lenses and I had to hold the Nikon D90 and fiddle with it a bit.  I did the same at Best Buy and then I went to Shutterbug and now I know more about their store does things -- I like it -- and I ended my safari, after a haircut, but going to Barnes and Noble and reading a couple of books on how to operate the D5000.  I'm in new territory, out of my league, over my head, out of my depth, etc. etc., and I'm having fun learning and one day, before 2011, I will make a purchase of some kind.

3.  I went to High Street and to sit and think and drink some Hammerhead Ale at the bar.  Don came in and broke my preoccupied spell and when he found out I'd been on a camera safari, he told me about a love letter David Pogue wrote in the NY Times about the Canon S95.  More to think about, more to check out.  By the way, I sometimes drink USA Corporate Beer to transport me back to the 70s and 80s and to remember Silver Valley drunks and Whitworth drunks, especially at the poker table and at the Viking Tavern, but if I want to remember the good times and good company I've had over beer in the last nearly fifteen years, it's Hammerhead.  Last night I drank those Hammerheads and when I wasn't thinking about cameras I remembered Wednesday nights after teaching Shakespeare, getting off the bus at SELCO, walking up to High Street, having some french fries and Hammerhead Ale, talking with Dan, and listening to the great music Dan played on the bar's sound system.  One night it was The Who, Live at Leeds and Dan stood still and listened while I enthused about it, already high on Shakespeare;  tonight, I kept my enthusiasms to myself, but when "Eminence Front" and later, "Let it Rain" came on, I was pretty wound up inside of myself, and more memories came rushing in.   There's nothing like Hammerhead + The Who + Eric Clapton + plus memories of those songs + memories of Hammerhead.   Nothing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/10: Family and Friends Who Disagree, Headlights Left On Mystery, RIP Sparky, and a Bonus

1.  Most of my contact with my friends who follow the principles of the Republican Party or the Tea Party or who are Libertarians and who oppose President Obama occurs on Facebook.  I had dinner tonight at Billy Mac's this evening with friends who support President Obama and are Democrats.  I'm mostly a listener.  These days I don't get that riled up about politics,  although I did express happiness that Kitzhaber is our governor again.  I enjoy living a life with friends and family whose convictions are so various.  This situation always reminds me that I am in agreement and disagreement with people I love and that if my friends and family represent a fair sampling of the USA as a whole, good people occupy the entire spectrum of how to see and live in the world. 

2.  I didn't think I'd turned on my headlights when driving to Billy Mac's from home.  It was perfectly light out when Molly, Olivia, and I headed over.  But, when the Deke and Molly and Olivia left the restaurant to drive back home together, Molly returned to report my lights were on.  It was weird.  I would have thought that my battery would be dead and the lights would be dim after being on for over an hour.  But, no.  The lights were strong and my car started right up.  Weird.

3.  The death of Sparky Anderson is not a beautiful thing, unless, as I think it did, it relieved Sparky of a life of dementia he'd rather not have had.  But, remembering Sparky Anderson has been beautiful and fun.  I went to YouTube and listened to a profanity laced rant of Sparky's he gave after he'd gotten betrayed by a member of the media.  I also watched a video of the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1984 Tigers and then watched some highlights of the World Series itself and immensely enjoyed remembering Jack Morris, Milt Wilcox, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Larry Herndon, Tom Brookens, Chet Lemon, Kirk Gibson, Aurelio Lopez, Willie Hernandez (Cy Young winner), and the rest of that team.  The summer and fall of 1984 were very memorable for me because of love, moving back to Eugene, returning to grad school, and other reasons and the Tigers were a key part of what I loved about that spring, summer, and fall.  Watching those highlights brought back much more than just baseball memories.

Bonus:  Yesterday, Rick Wainright compared the '84 Tigers to the '10 Giants and it's a great comparison. The Tiger team was younger and stronger up the middle in the field with Parrish, Whitaker, Trammel, and Gibson.  But in looking back at the Tiger's roster, they had a significant number of players who were castoffs, players picked up off of the MLB junk pile:  Darrell Evans, Chet Lemon, Ruppert Jones, Milt Wilcox,  Johnny Grubb, Aurelio Lopez, Doug Bair, Sid Monge and others.  I'm remembering how much I enjoyed seeing these veterans, near or at the end of their careers, many of them refugees from lousy clubs, winning a World Series ring.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/10: Ramayana Pictures, Governor of Oregon, Camera Possibilities

1.  The World Lit. students taught each other beautifully about The Ramayana by the visual projects they completed and the discussion that resulted.

2.  I was very happy when Chris Dudley conceded the Oregon governor race to John Kitzhaber. 

3.  I have some recreational money saved up and I'm going to buy a more expensive and capable camera and it's fun reading about them and getting ideas and responses from Russell about what to purchase.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/10: Happiness, Election, Thai Food

1.  As I try to help my students dig more deeply into the sources of happiness in their lives, some of them are beginning to look not just at the surface of this question, but look at the underlying values that inform what makes them happy.  Some learning is happening.

2.  It was a calm election day.  I turned in my ballot.  I checked some results before I went to sleep.  I was happy to have participated and am trying to maintain a sense of neutrality and acceptance as our governing institutions move forward with their new configurations. 

3.  We didn't seem to have a lot of groceries around and Molly, The Deke, and I were all worn out, so I picked up a superb take out order from Chao Pra Ya and we enjoyed green curry, rad na, and tom kha soup.  What a pleasure. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/10: World Lit Crayons, Giants Win the Series, Molly is Amazing ;)

1.  My World Lit. students made pictorial representations of scenes from The Ramayana.  I don't have students do this often, but when they make their reading and understanding of a great piece of literature known with sketch paper, crayons, colored pencils, charcoal, and other media, the room is energetic, filled with conversation and laughter, and is a ton of fun.

2.  I never thought, in my adult life, I would write this sentence:  The San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  I came to love this team in a way similar to my revived love for the Boston Celtics.  The big difference is that the Giants don't have aging superstars, but they do have battery of  playersover thirty like Uribe, Reneria, Ross, Sanchez, Huff, Burrell, and others who I thought, as with the Celtics, gave this team a toughness, a grizzled character, and I liked that.  As with Rondo and the Celtics, though, the Giants have young pitchers who performed mightily.  I've waited since 1962, when I became a Giants fan, for a World Series victory.  A mean part of me is really happy it didn't happen during the Barry Bonds years.  This team was not defined in the least by a single celebrity player and I cannot imagine that this team would have experienced the kind of togetherness they did had Barry Bonds been around. 

3.  Molly took over the kitchen and prepared a superb meal of sirloin steak, baked potatoes, and brussel sprouts.  She prepared this meal after she cleaned the house.  She made her mother and stepfather very happy today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/10: Church, Bumgarner, Favre

1.  Often the 11:00 service at St. Mary's Episcopal Church is not very well attended, but this morning a good crowd attended and it was heartening to be among more people than usual.  I enjoyed the tamale lunch after the service, too.

2.  That twenty-one year old kid, Madison Bumgarner, pitched quite a game to bring the Giants one game closer to being World Series champions.

3.  I satirized Brett Favre all afternoon on Facebook and had a lot of fun.