Sunday, February 28, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/27/10: Westminster Pipes, Sleep, Brilliance to Wisdom

1. The pipes in Westminster's basement clanged and whistled today as the basement heated up with great conversations, stark honesty, wisdom, and invigorating stories.

2. I've slept through the last two nights without coughing spells and without weird dreams that had me calling out random stuff and saying weird things to Snug. He sure takes it well though. I woke up the other night intensely repeating, "But you've got to get the language right....you've got to get the language right.." and he looked up at me, gave a little snort, yawned, rolled over, and went back to sleep. At least I didn't shake him awake and say, "But it's true Snug. You've got to get the language right. Really. Get it right. The language."

3. I never dreamed I'd get to experience the brilliance of former Whitworth students mature into wisdom. I never doubted it would happen, but I'm witnessing it. It moves me.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/26/10: Rest, Good Chats, Snug: My Good Friend

1. More rest today and some hints that maybe this respiratory ailment might be starting to ease, but, given my history with such illness, I'm not eager to be optimistic just yet.

2. These days of illness and rest have been good ones for conversations online with friends I've known for many many years (as well as some current friends) and it's uplifting, encouraging to talk over some things or to just swap barbs. As always, each different friendship has its own style and tone.

3. Good ole Snug. He's sure a faithful friend. I've spent a lot of time on the sofa and he climbs up and presses himself against my lower legs and when he needs a change of place, he stays in the same room with me, lies on the floor, near a living room chair, and then, on occasion, saunters over to let me scratch and pet him. In the evening, he wants me to come to bed earlier than I do. Does he protest? Whine? No. He goes to my bed, lies down in the very spot I will sleep in, and makes it warm for me. Yes, Snug's too protective. Yes, Snug is too afraid. Yes, this has caused problems. But in the small world of Snug and me together, he's the best.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/25/10: Rest, Vince Van Patten, Susan-Louise

1. I've had another very slow day of rest, continuing to wait out this ailment. I think the rest is the right thing.

2. Lately, the Poker Channel on channelsurfing.net has been broadcasting matches from the World Poker Tour. The card playing has been really good and it's been fun listening to the host Vince Van Patten and his partner, the great poker player, Mike Sexton. I had forgotten all about Vince Van Patten. In particular, I'd forgotten that he was a very decent professional tennis player. Funny world.

3. It was a pleasure and the best of surprises: Susan-Louise dropped into "Tied to Spokane" and I'm in touch with her for the first time in over twenty-five years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/24/10: Rest, Thread, Juanda

1. Another day at home with sleep, rest, fluids, coughing, and doing all I can to just take it easy.

2. The "Tied to Spokane" thread keeps growing, moving in different directions, providing a lot of pleasure.

3. I fell asleep just as the tournament ended, but enjoyed watching much of John Juanda's victory at the World Series of Poker Europe in 2008. He's a very shrewd, patient, calm poker player (everything I'm not!).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/23/10: Sleep, Thai Food (Again), Good Thread

Post #1400, fyi.

1. Sleep. I think I took three if not four naps today as I continue to fight off this bug, infection, ailment...whatever it is.

2. The Deke brought home some good Thai food again and I think it did me some good.

3. I enjoyed how the "Tied to Spokane" thread under my Notes in Facebook continues apace.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/22/10: Home to Rest, Future Get Together?, Yi Shen Not McDonald's Tonight

1. I took a day of sick leave today and it did me good. I started to make a dent on getting caught up with my paper grading and thinking about what's coming next for my students in my classes. I doubt I'll take another one tomorrow, but it wouldn't hurt me. I needed the rest to try and recuperate today.

2. The thread that grew out of my piece "Tied to Spokane" grew today and the upshot of that piece and our discussions might just be a get together to get some of us brainiacs from the early eighties back together for some fun, food, and conversation.

3. I appreciated Dierdre and Mark's advice that I go to McDonald's and have red meat and potato product to help heal what ails me. That advice is not off the table. Believe me. But, for dinner tonight, before I went to Albertson's for some groceries, I went to Yi Shen and enjoyed Yokisaba noodles with chicken, pork, tofu, and a variety of vegetables. I'm sure, Dierdre and Mark, that a McDonald's Angus Burger and an order of fries would have also hit the spot, but I decided to eat Vietnamese instead of American. (Keep the good advice coming....but I bet I won't go to a Tea Party ;) )

Three Beautiful Things 02/21/10: Writing While Sick, Whitworth Goodness, Lance at Fisherman's Market

1. I'm sick. When I'm sick, it's best for me to let paper grading and other school stuff go, put it aside. So, to give myself some pleasure, I wrote three blog pieces, all of them assignments given by my sister, Silver Valley Girl. I don't know if was medicinal, but it sure felt good to write out thoughts and some ways I feel about ties I have: the ties in my marriage, my ties back to Spokane, and my ties back to North Idaho College through my renewed friendship with Jane Eischen. You can find these posts here, here, and here.

2. One of those pieces, "Tied to Spokane" resulted in a one of the best online discussions, on Facebook, I ever participated in as the three former students I wrote about, Bill, Colette, and Bridgit wrote responses to my piece and then the Whitworth world expanded and Val chimed in, Bill's wife (a PLU grad), Diane, added her thoughts, and Kristen magically appeared. I wish that thread would stay alive, keep going, for a long time. It is charged with goodness, honesty, insight, poetry, and, did I mention, goodness. No manufactured cleverness, just good, honest, supportive discussion of life, divorce, and poetry, all within the framework of the days we enjoyed so much at Whitworth College (now University).

3. I went down to Fisherman's Market to get some clam strips and chips for the Deke and shrimp and chips for me. Lance was seated at a table, reading Ellery Queen, and I he kindly let me intrude on his solitude and we had a good conversation. I enjoyed what he had to say about the book, Corelli's Mandolin. (The food, however, was deeply disappointing. The fish was overcooked, the fries were dry, the cole slaw tasted old and I was up at about 1 a.m. vomiting the whole meal.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sibling Assignment #122: Into Thin Air Ties Me to Being on the Shore of Death

Silver Valley Girl posted this assignment:

Write about reading a book, and how you were tied to that book, by a certain character, a certain plot line, etc.



I will post my links to my sisters' posts as soon as they appear.

My brother-in-law, Brian Diedrich, hosted my stepdaughter, Molly, over spring break, 2000 and sent the book Into Thin Air home with her to read.

About four months earlier, I had been very nearly killed by a bout of bacterial meningitis.

Little did I know that a book about a deadly climb on Mt. Everest would tie into my experience with meningitis and my other experience with death so closely.

To put it simply, Into Thin Air is about life on the verge of death and in that state of existence the true character of a person most clearly emerges. Falseness dies. The core of each person rises up. In some it's admirable. In others it's nearly despicable.

I'd been on the shore of death before. In 1973, I was nearly killed in an accident at the Bunker Hill Zinc plant.

On the verge of dying in 1973, I relaxed. I saw my situation and I submitted to it. Trapped in a roaster filled with sulfur dioxide gas and toxic mineral dust, I laid myself down, make a pillow by putting my hands together in a prayer-like gesture, and closed my eyes to die. I didn't pray. I was stubborn when I thought I would die and remember deciding that I wasn't going to beg God for my life. I would just die.

That surrender saved my life. By lying down, I got underneath the gas and dust and, in the mean time, the error that has let the gas and dust into the roaster to begin with was rectified and I felt my way to a permanent ladder welded into the roaster and climbed toward the exit, where Roger Grosvenor shone a light for to see and climb toward.

Once at the hospital, I joked about the doctor being nicknamed, in our family, "Shakey". I joked about all the drinking I'd done over the weekend. My first response to crisis: joke about it.

Into Thin Air helped me realize that on the shore of death, which every climber of Everest passes through in the Death Zone as they approach the peak, one's perceptions of reality shift. The senses' powers erode. The brain works at a child's level. Moral or ethical decisions are impossible. If faced, a moral or ethical decision isn't made. It's already been made. A climber can only be who he or she has been.

No mental processing.

Just one's character. Who one has been. It's fated by one's past attitudes, decisions, and actions.

When I was in the Intensive Care Unity, one of the nurses asked the Deke, sort of jokingly, "What's the deal with your husband?"

"What do you mean?" asked the Deke.

"Almost all of our patients, when they are in your husband's condition...well..they curse us, flail around, are angry, even though they aren't fully conscious. Your husband almost seems thankful to be here. He's cooperative. He calls out for his mother. He wants it to be Christmas. I don't think I've ever seen this before."

When I came out of my coma, my first concern was whether I'd be able to drive to Portland on Thursday or Friday. I had told my family I'd come to pick them up. We had a trip planned to the coast. It never crossed my mind that I'd been in a coma, had been, if not in critical condition, in serious condition.

My first concern was that I follow through, pick up Mom and my sisters and Everett.

All through the first days of my recovery, once out of the ICU, the world seemed to have a fantastical veneer. I looked out my window at the fog shrouding Hendricks Park and I thought I'd been transported to a magical land, far from Eugene, and I nearly started to cry.

I don't know if I've ever felt so many surges of love as friends and former students came to visit me. I had no defenses. I was coming off the shore of death, but as long as I had a foot on that shore, I was vulnerable, exposed, without emotional protection.

Into Thin Air connected deeply with me because it gave me a framework to understand my experience having been on the edge, of tottering delicately between life and death.

I've had many struggles over the course of my life with temper tantrums, outbursts of what seemed to be rage. If they had happened at another time or in another situation, I probably would have been sentenced to Anger Management courses.

But it wasn't anger. Anger is not what resides at the core of my being. At the core, I'm soft, tender; I want those around me to be cared for; I want things to work out for my family, both the one I was born into and the one I married into. I'm the same way at my job. It's why I'm not political. I don't have the stomach for it.

When I was on the verge of death, it wasn't anger, but something gentle that I expressed.

The tantrums? Mental illness. That illness couldn't be managed with behavioral seminars. I needed medicine.

I regret every one of those tantrums. They've damaged relationships in the past and have had a lasting detrimental impact on my marriage to the Deke.

They don't happen any more. I can't remember the last one. Medication has helped calm me and on an hour to hour and day to day basis I'm much more like that guy who was on the porch of death and made jokes, wanted his mother, cried out for Christmas, was delighted by fog over a hill, and loved his friends and family for their attention.

Sibling Assignment #121: Emotional Ties with Jane Eischen at Planet Thai

Silver Valley Girl stayed with February's NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) theme of "ties" and gave us this prompt:


Write about seeing someone after a long time, and how the emotional ties you had with each other contributed to your experience of being with that person again.

I'll post my sisters' links once they've posted their writing.

On Friday, February 12, I met Jane Eischen, now Hansen, for lunch in Vancouver, WA at Planet Thai on NE Tenney Rd.

We last saw each other during the summer of 1974 at the Wallace Elks at the reception when Rob and Sluggo got married.

We'd had some very good chats on Facebook over the last few months, but there's nothing like seeing a friend from the deep past face to face.

And so it was on February 12.

It didn't take us long, at all, to get right to the emotional ties that we have had with each other and that have remained deep and powerful, despite our absence from one another.

I spent most of my time during spring semester of my freshman year at North Idaho College with Bruce Alldredge, a fellow Silver Valley guy.

Bruce was like a galactical star of fun, intelligence, quick wit, irreverence, generosity, good-heartedness, and strong passions. A small solar system of people began to orbit around him at North Idaho College and we had a ton of fun drinking, sometimes studying, smoking cigs, going out on the town, listening to music, reading National Lampoon, reading poetry, mocking Richard Nixon, watching NBA playoff games, and becoming really good friends.

Jane loved this solar system, but, above all, she loved Bruce and the two of them were involved as friends sometimes and lovers that covered a time span I can't keep straight. But whether they were "on" or "off", Jane always loved Bruce, and was at the mercy of his mercurial ways when it came to love and romance.

In 1989, Bruce was killed in a motorcycle accident. I hadn't seen him for over ten years, but Jane had seen him more recently.

Bruce's life and death has kept Jane and me tied together even in our long absence from each other. More than merely shared experience with him, the fact that we both loved Bruce deeply created an immediate trust between us. I got Bruce. I understood and enjoyed him immensely. Jane got Bruce. She understood and enjoyed him immensely. It's almost as if in loving Bruce we loved each other, too.

This deep trust between me and Jane took form most memorably when we were on choir tour at North Idaho College. We had long bus rides as we made our way from Cd'A to The Dalles to the Oregon coast, all the way to San Francisco and back through Corvallis and Oregon City and on back to Cd'A.

During one of the long stretches, Jane sat next to me. I don't remember how the subject came up, but Jane told me that she had become pregnant in high school, been briefly married, and had lost her baby to adoption.

Even as a nineteen year old, I knew it was risky for Jane to confide in me about this chapter in her life. I listened, without a trace of judgment, and certainly with none of the outrage that some of the other choir members, who were righteously Christian, might have felt.

Our bond, I know now, deepened with that conversation. Jane had invited me to share a secret, and the secret, lo and behold, had a strong Silver Valley dimension. The baby's father was a Kellogg High School student, Class of '70. Jane thought I might know him. I didn't really. I only knew he had gotten a girl from somewhere pregnant. I was staggered when Jane confided that she was the mother of L.F.'s baby.

Why did Jane trust me with her secret? How did she know I wouldn't think badly of her? That I wouldn't spread her secret around the choir? She knew I was a Christian. How did she know that my way of understanding what it means to live as a Christian made acceptance automatic and sealed lips honorable?

Whatever the reason was, it formed an emotional tie between us that was deep and alive at lunch, as we slowly picked over green curry and drunken noodles.

There's one more emotional connection between us.

Liz.

Liz was my girlfriend in the spring of '73 and a happy planet in the Bruce Alldredge solar system.

Jane and I both experienced Liz as one of the most fully alive persons we had ever known, full of wit, love, creative profanity, and great barbs. She was generous in spirit, full of love, hard working, and lovely. She was a really good working class Catholic girl.

Jane experienced this and so did I. I was stupid for ever behaving in ways that led to Liz calling our relationship off. I was really stupid.

So in loving Liz, Jane and I were loving each other, too. We got Liz. We understood her. What Liz and Jane loved in each other and what Liz and I loved in each other was what Jane and I love in each other.

It's not true, to me, that the past is over and disappears. You'll never hear me say anything like, "Well that's history. That's over with. You can forget about that. It's in the past now."

It's not how time works.

Over our lunch, Jane and I were locked into the five hour present moment of our lunch together.

Our focus and enjoyment and eagerness to learn more about each other happened because of the past, the past with choir, Bruce, Liz, the choir tour; the past at Cockroach Castle, where Bruce and Rob and Sluggo lived, the past in the Purple Pig, the van Bruce drove, the past over at Jane and Peggy's house, and so much else that was emotionally alive.

And that Jane and I were tied to.

And remain tied to today.

Sibling Assignment #120: The Ties that Bind Our Marriage

Silver Valley Girl gave thie sibling assignment. "Write about the ties that bind you to your husband or wife. "

Silver Valley Girl has been busy buying and selling oil in Houston and hasn't written her post yet, but you get a lovely look into InlandEmpireGirl's marriage to JEJ, here.

I have been trying my best in the last few months to limit my words to what I know to be true (as much as anything can be known), to stop speculating, and to keep my mouth shut when I just don't know or when I don't understand something.

This attempt at truth telling and calling myself on my own b.s. has not only contributed to my silence about U. S. as well as local politics, it has shut me up about issues related to governing the college at LCC. I used to think I knew what was politically on the mark. I used to act like I understood complicated and complex issues. I used to think I knew who was right. That's not true any longer. In fact, when I read most political commentary, I find myself saying, "How do you know?" or "It sounds to me like you are just making up stuff." It doesn't matter if the commentator is moderate, liberal, conservative, or anything else. I really don't know who is speaking something like the truth anymore.

By the way, the same holds true for analysis of Tiger Woods comments to the world on Friday. I've read quite a few bits of commentary. My response: "How do you know?"

Likewise, at Ernie Kent's days are numbered at the University of Oregon, I read things like this: when he had great players, they coached themselves and didn't need Kent and now that he has lesser players who can't coach themselves, Kent's true deficiencies are showing. How do you know?

When it comes to writing about the ties that bind The Deke and me in our marriage, I'm not sure I know. I'm not going to speculate or make things up. Here's what I think is true:


If we enjoy each other's company, we indulge that pleasure rarely, except around the house, and much of that time is spent in separate rooms.

We both like being in Kellogg.

We make each other laugh.

We love our dogs.

We've found ways to deal with the grief that the Deke suffers, especially after David's death. Most of this agreement involves me leaving the Deke alone, but checking in from time to time to see if she needs anything.

We both find Thai food medicinal as well as delicious.

We want what seems best for the Deke's children and support them, together, in a host of ways.

Not entirely, but mostly, we live separate lives. It's the arrangement that has developed between us, especially in the last five years or so.

Even with the degree of separateness we live with, ties still exist and, while, from the outside, they may seem few, they matter.

I think.

Sibling Assignment #118: Tied to Spokane

Silver Valley Girl gave the sibling assignment this week.

Think about one of the places you were living in the 1980’s and write about how you are still tied to that particular place.


Inland Empire Girl sure got me to thinking back to some fun times as she reminisced about being tied to Richland, WA, here and Silver Valley Girl relishes her ties to the place that's not the end of the world, but you can see if from there, Glendive, MT, here.

During the two academic years from 1982-84, I taught on two separate, consecutive temporary full-time appointments at Whitworth College (now University) and they remain the two most memorable years of my life.

As I've written before, it was a very painful time and I probably did more things during those two years that I regret then at any time in my life.

My behavior, especially for an instructor at a Christian college, was sometimes not very exemplary.

I was, however, alive.

I was alive to music, especially on KHQ-FM and MTV.

I was alive to movies, especially those showing at the downtown art house, The Magic Lantern, and the movies I rented and recorded on my, well, yes, I bought one, on my Betamax.

I was really alive to teaching. I was enamored with teaching at Whitworth. My mind was young, supple, alive, and in high gear. My passions for teaching Shakespeare, composition, Intro. to Literature, The Family in American Drama, Creative Writing, the American Romantics, non-Shakespearean Renaissance Literature, a course in Hardy, Eliot, and Lawrence, and working on the Core 150 team, teaching all aspects of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, well, my passions were on fire and burned furiously. My passions animated me. I've never known, nor will I know again, such a period of intellectual adventure, excitement, exchange, and animation.

Thanks to this blog and to Facebook, I've renewed three deeply satisfying ties to this time in my life in Spokane.

First, I'm back in touch with Bill Davie. Bill was a student in the first composition course I ever taught, during my first teaching stint at Whitworth in the fall of 1977. He was my favorite kind of student at Whitworth. He was creative, a superb musician and songwriter and a terrific poet. He had great intellectual respect for the Christian tradition and enjoyed studying philosophical and theological questions, but he was not a cheery Christian; I don't even know if he ever professed to be a Christian. I never cared. What I cared about was that Bill was finishing his senior year at Whitworth when I returned in 1982 and we renewed our friendship and he enrolled in my Renaissance Lit class and he helped make it one of the most invigorating and fun courses I've ever taught. Outside the classroom, Bill and I drank a few beers, warmed our bellies with George Dickel Tennessee bourbon, smoked a few cigs together, and had a lot of good conversations and a lot of good laughs.

That was twenty-seven, twenty-eight years ago. We got back in touch around 1991 again and visited each other. I came up to Seattle. He came to Eugene. He performed in the Eugene area multiple times and we had some good times.

We fell out of touch after Bill was down here in about 1997, but we've renewed contact and those great ties to music, ideas, alcohol, laughter, mutual friends, and the city of Spokane, the Knight's Diner, Ferguson's Cafe, the Viking Tavern, the Bigfoot Tavern all come alive and nourish me, now that Bill and I have renewed our friendship.

I'm also back in touch with Colette Marie, who went by Klingman back in Spokane. Colette was a senior at Whitworth during the 82-83 school year. She was in my Shakespeare class and then a teaching assistant for me on the Core 150 team and we had a ton of fun together, especially around the building where the English department was housed, around Westminster Hall.

As we've renewed our friendship, I'm amazed at what a deep bond we formed back in Spokane. As we get to writing to each other, it's obvious our lives have changed a lot, but a deep core of honesty and trust remains between us.

While at Whitworth, I didn't always want to go home in the evenings to my apartment. I didn't want to be alone. So I stuck around my office where Colette and other students studied in the basement of Westminster Hall. The lounge was just outside my office.

We distracted each other from our academic tasks, not only with telling tall tales and poking fun at the Whitworth evironment and with laughter, but also with poems and excerpts from stories and plays.

It was really fun, especially as we brought poems to life. We rarely explicated them. We weren't reading these poems in a classroom. We were reading them for pleasure, to be blown away, to experience their vitality and music. To hell with meaning, we might have said. We might have said, "Yeats didn't write 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' for an English class, he didn't write it to be broken down and for students to write papers about. He wrote it to create beauty, to move us, to bring us to tears." I think we were right. See what you think:

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,


I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Naw. It's not for school. It's too good for academic treatment. Colette and I understood this back in our twenties and so we enjoyed poetry at its purest, without the clutter of school talk, without the vocabulary of academic explication. We just read, listened, and sighed.


At least that's what's stuck with me.


Now, nearly thirty years later, Colette has told me she fears that those days of enjoyment and laughter have passed away inside of her, that she doesn't read poetry much. So I send her poems once in a while, poems I think she might enjoy. I tell her about things that happen in my life teaching poetry at LCC.


The poems and our emails back and forth awaken those fun days at Whitworth. We are tied back to Spokane again.


I'm also tied to Bridgit Harris, who was Bridgit Lacy at Whitworth.


Bridgit stood out as a student, in part, because she had deep empathy for characters in stories and movies that most people didn't like very well. In particular, she stood up for the mother, Beth, in Ordinary People and wrote eloquently about what made her, for Bridgit, a sympathetic character. Most viewers of the movie didn't like her and didn't feel for her at all. Bridgit did.


Well, in the early months of 1984, I wasn't feeling particularly likable myself, for a variety of reasons having to do with drinking too much, being stupid with a particular woman in my life, and dealing with Eileen having begun annulment proceedings, to have our five year marriage nullified.


Bridgit was a wonderful, accepting, kind, funny, and empathetic friend. She, too, studied in the basement of Westminster where we had wonderful conversations.


My favorite day with Bridgit was in downtown Spokane. I don't remember when this happened. We went to a huge Goodwill store and I bought a full length wool coat for some ridiculously low price. I loved that coat. I wore it all the time and it became, I suppose, sort of a signature garment people knew me by.


I never would have thought to go to Goodwill, let alone, buy that coat, were it not for Bridgit.


It seemed like Bridgit was always steering me in different directions, not only in things we did together, but in the ways she talked about things, how she always left me scratching my head, saying to myself, "I never thought of it that way. I think Bridgit's right."


To this day, I'm tied to those days in Spokane through Bridgit. Bridgit has been a faithful reader of this blog and a commenter, too. She continues to write things to me about what I've written, that I thought were really right on the mark, and presents me with a different perspective. As occurred back in Spokane, I read what she writes to me and I scratch my head and I think, "I never thought of it that way. I think Bridgit's right."


Time is such a funny, what?, thing, I guess. Bill, Colette, and Bridgit and I were friends back in our twenties (although I turned 30 in Dec. of 1983)and now here we are, in 2010.


Colette is nearly 50. Bridgit just turned 50. Bill is a little over 50. I'm in my mid-fifties. Nearly thirty years have passed since those two years I taught at Whitworth. And they are still so alive to me.


A week ago, I drove to Vancouver, WA and back and listened exclusively to two of Bill Davie's albums, "Phobia Robes" and "Gravity". His music not only continues to delight me and challenge me with its lovely rhythms and melodies, at times, its surreal lyrics and surreal melodies and surreal rhythms, at times, and its philosophical depth, always, his music also ties me back to Spokane, transports me back to Hennie's or the HUB at Whitworth, and Bill's back there and so are Colette and Bridgit -- I'm deeply grateful to still have these wonderful friendships, all very much alive in the present, and to have, at the same time, such immediate contact with those immensely important two years of my life, to still be so tied to Spokane, WA.



Three Beautiful Things 02/20/10: Takin' It Easy, Dr. No, Galangal Root Magic

1. No pushing it today: that was how I lived on Feb. 20th. I can't wear myself out and risk this infection worsening. Several naps. A few bon mots on Facebook. I took it really easy.

2. The Deke has been under seige with this chest infection/deep, persistent cough for over a week now and I gladly rallied to buzz over to Laughing Planet and pick her up a Dr. No's Low-Carb bowl, a steamed vegetable medley with Draper Valley natural chicken, smokey roasted red pepper and garlic sauce and mixed jack and cheddar cheese. Happily, it hit the spot for the Deke.

3. Later, I trudged out the door and buzzed over to Chao Pra Ya for some medicinal Thai food. I crave spicy food when I'm fighting a chest infection, hoarse voice, and persistent cough. The best medicine? Tom Kha soup. I imagine the galangal root, kaffir leaves, chili pepper flakes, and lime juice spreading out when they hit my chest and going on an infection killing mission. Even if they don't, it tastes terrific and brings me comfort. So did the Pumpkin curry and the Thai Hot Wings.

(Hey! Wow! I just did some reading about the galangal root and it's used and has been used in several parts of the world as a medicinal treatment for colds, flus, and fevers, among other things. My cravings are trustworthy. By the way, it's also used as an aphrodisiac. Sigh. Maybe for Turks and Russians and Laotians and Indonesians and the Chinese. That aspect of galangal root didn't and hasn't quite kicked in for me yet!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/19/10: May's Poem, Beth at 7-11,Good to See Hal Again

1. Kate and I ended our weekly poetry conversation by working our way through Jim Daniel's superb poem, "May's Poem" and Kate came to understand how the poem creates an alternate reality, something poems often do.

2. I went to 7-11 and I saw a woman out of the corner of my eye and I held the door open for her and it was my former student and Facebook friend Beth Oregon, who just arrived back in Eugene from Illinois. It was a staggering moment.

3. Before going to hear Richard Thompson tonight, I had dinner at Ambrosia with Hal and Margaret. How long had it been since I saw Hal? Let me think...I believe twenty-five years would be accurate and it was really fun getting caught up and getting reacquainted. Wow! And saw Linda again, too, after many years of not seeing her...I should get out more often!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/18/10: Elizabeth of Kaliningrad, Prose Style, Freedom

1. Today I took some time to explore and learn more about Kaliningrad, the Russian city that is Elizabeth's home. Elizabeth is one of my WR 122 students. Whenever a Russian student, or a student of the former Soviet Union, enrolls in a course of mine, it always takes me back to how mysterious Russia/the Soviet Union was to me as a kid at the height of the Cold War and how fascinated I was to see actual Soviets in 1974 at Spokane's Expo 74 and how fascinated I was, that same year, to watch the Soviet national basketball team play a USA national team. I kept staring at them, marveling that in appearance and manner they, OMG, seemed human. I don't stare at Elizabeth. I don't marvel that she is human. I was deeply affected as a boy and a young man, obviously, by Cold War propaganda. I relish the way my mindset has changed.

2. I can't tell if it has any short term impact. I'm trying to teach to the long term, beyond WR 122 as I explore the elements of prose style with my students. It invigorates me. I might be alone.

3. I can't tell if it has any short term impact. I'm trying to teach to the long term, beyond WR 122 as I explore intellectual freedom and copious thinking with my students. It invigorates me. I might be alone.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/17/10: Romantic Poetry, Tom Kha, Raad Na

1. This morning in ENG 106, I read the entirety of William Wordsworth's "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour. July 13, 1798." with multiple interruptions, I'm afraid, for explanations, explications, and philosophical ruminations upon Platonic idealism. I did this after a similar tour of Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill". I love both poems. For someone, like me, who loves reading these poems aloud, I thought this must be what it's like to pick up a violin and play from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons". I couldn't really tell what my students thought. I was moved by Dylan Thomas bringing the childhood wonders of "Fern Hill" to its sobering conclusion: "Time held me green and dying/Though I sang in my chains like the sea." My mind hummed as I thought how, like Wordsworth, memories of being in the woods or at the ocean have brought me "tranquil restoration". Well, I know Melissa loved Wordsworth. I'll learn more tomorrow about how it worked for Kate. Maybe I'll find out more from others in the days and weeks to come. I want my students to love these poems. But the time might not be quite right.

2. I savored the Raad Na and Tom Kha from Ta Ra Rin (Thai Hop) that the Deke brought home. Both of us are under the weather, but still able to work, and the spicy coconut Tom Kha soup, made from coconut milk, simmered with galangal root, lemongrass, and Kaffir leaves, and flavored with lime juice, was a perfect antidote to what's ailing me.

3. The Raad Na wasn't firey at all. It's firey that works best for me when I'm fighting off infection in my chest. I don't know what exactly is in the brown Thai gravy sauce that covers the Raad Na, but it's pleasing -- in fact, it's kind of sweet (brown sugar? nutmeg maybe?) and gave me a complementary pleasure to the Tom Kha soup.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/16/10: Shrub Removal, Meatloaf, "That's What She Said"

1. A crew from Sperry's came over and removed shrubbery, pruned three trees, and trimmed the rhododendron bushes. Step one in the makeover of our front and back yards.

2. I was thinking about Meatloaf coming over the sound system at Diane's Sunday night and at that very moment, "Bat Out of Hell" came on the radio.

3. Adam posted a video of "That's what she said" moments from "The Office" and I posted a comment intended to elicit the response, "That's what she said" and Randy followed my comment with "That's what she said". What did I say? "I didn't know that little bit was long standing."

Monday, February 15, 2010

3x3 Beautiful Things 02/12-15/10: Jane, Arrival, Gun Talk, NAPA Laughs, Waves, Ed, Sharon, Dancin', Bill Davie

This is a special edition of Three Beautiful Things covering my trip to Vancouver, WA from 02/12-02/15.

1. Green curry and drunken noodles with Jane. We hadn't seen each other since Rob and Sluggo got married in 1974 in Wallace and today we spent five hours over lunch remembering Bruce, Rob, Sluggo, Dennis, John, Joy, the Fishermen, NIC choir, our choir tour, Liz, lost loves, fun stuff, stupid stuff, regrets, old friends, painful memories as well as sweet ones. We talked about the present, too and how we got all the way from Coeur d'Alene and the Silver Valley in 1973-4 to Planet Thai in Vancouver, WA in 2010. A staggeringly enjoyable lunch!

2. Jake and Carol and Joni and Ed and Sharon arrived from Osburn, Spokane, Liberty Lake, and Kingston. The wine bottle corks were popped, chili and cornbread muffins were served, and the stories, laughter, ideas, plans, and barbs begin to fly.

3. Saturday morning, after an early morning drive to Spirit Mountain and some gaming, Ed and I met Hudson, a guy devoted to guns and rifles, who lives in Hubbard, but used to live in the Silver Valley, at the Newberg Dairy Queen and Hudson hands over a .22 automatic rifle to Ed to take back to Cataldo for Jim. Hudson is confident that in the case of a disaster, when it's every man for himself, that his collection of firearms will all but guarantee his survival.

4. Saturday afternoon Ed, Carol, and I drove to Camas to a NAPA auto parts store for replacement bulbs for Carol's Subaru's headlight and I swear no trip to a parts store, a convenience store and to Fred Meyer was filled with more laughter than our trip. You had to be there.

5. Another wave of partiers who used to live in Kellogg: Rick. Patty. Mike and Ken . . . so did Amber and Rod...wow! when did I last see Amber? I don't know when she last came to a reunion...I can't remember...wow! she tells great story after great story about life as a principal's secretary, her battle with Wii toe, and more and more, doing different voices, making the stories theatrical, adding laughs and entertaining drama to our party.

6. Music. Cranked. Up. The dancing begins. Ed appears in his big as cinder blocks slippers that look like tv remote control devices, puts on a you're so vain hat, strategically dips it below one eye, whips on cheap sunglasses, and, with his pajama bottoms on, looks like a washed up, out of work pimp from Kingston. Classy. Hilarious.

7. Sharon's never been to Oregon? Oh. My. God. She's never seen the Pacific Ocean? Oh. My. God. Ed, Ron, Carol, Sharon, Joni, Patty, Rick, Ken, Mike, and I pile into three cars on Sunday and head to Lincoln City. It's gray, bleak, rainy, misty most of the way over and then, as if God were smiling on Sharon's first trip to the Oregon coast, the skies opened up, the rain stopped, sunshine poured out of the sky, and Sharon had a gorgeous maiden voyage to the Oregon coast.

8. Ken's sister, Linda came over to the party. Cheryl drove up. We had plenty of spaghetti sauce from Saturday night leftover and we kicked it up a couple of notches and the stories, barbs, mockery, witty remarks, laughter, serious side conversations, cribbage games, wine drinking, music all resumed with the dancing commencing, when? 10:00? I don't know...but I was nearly in tears when "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came over the speakers and my relaxation and hanging back ended and it was time to let it rip on the dance floor.

9. I drove home listening over and over again to Bill Davie's superb CD, "Phobia Robes", letting all the memories of Bill performing at Whitworth, in my living room for house concerts, different places in Eugene, in Yachats, Corvallis, and Seattle wash over me and I let all the many thoughts and feelings his songs inspire in me all go their own way. It made the drive home a deep pleasure, just as the drive to Vancouver had been as I listened to "Phobia Robes" and "Gravity" to get my heart and mind in the right place for my great weekend with friends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/09/10: Donut/Coffee Comparison Shopping, Write Your Truth, Write Your Poems

1. I went comparison shopping today: before my morning class I went to 7-11 for a chocolate donut bar and a cup of coffee with powdered non-dairy creamer. Before my evening class, I stopped off at Holy Donuts! for a hand-crafted locally made chocolate donut bar and a cup of premium organic coffee with half and half. All I gotta say is, "Thank heaven for 7-11."

2. In both of my writing classes, students volunteered (for the most part) to detail how they were framing their short research papers and what they meant for how their sources would strengthen their arguments. I had a really great time listening, addressing questions, maybe solving a problem or two, and reiterating that one thing is of the highest value in their writing: tell the truth, as you see it.

3. My ENG 106 class focues on reading poetry and working to understand how poems work. Within the mandated purposes of this course, students also write some poetry of their own and I'm enjoying the poetry these students are writing. A lot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/08/10: Reading John's Obituary, Winco Bagel, Wilfred Owen

1. Obituaries mean a lot to Mom, so I called her with Cousin John's obituary opened up on my computer and read it to her. It wasn't maudlin or anything like that. She just wanted to know what had been written and we both agreed that it was a really good tribute to his life.

2. It's not my favorite in the whole world, but I like the Winco bagels. I got home from work and made a salami, sharp cheddar cheese, and French's mustard sandwich on a plain Winco bagel. It hit the spot. (Where'd I buy that salami? It's peppery, just the way I like it...I really don't know..)

3. I think my students really felt and understood the deep disillusionment of Wilfred Owen's poem, "Dulce et Decorum Est". I didn't tell them, because it seems like I want to say this about almost every poem we study, but when I was first reading poetry, this poem opened up avenues in poetry I didn't know were possible: not only the disillusionment, but the diction, sound, images, of this poem, all within a rhyme scheme. It really opened up for me the possibility that rhyming poetry could hit the reader really hard and work in the midst of soldiers being gassed and killed in the trenches of World War I.

Monday, February 8, 2010

John Baugh's Obituary

John Paul Baugh, 65, Orofino

John Paul Baugh passed away on Feb. 3, 2010 due to complications following surgery. John was a loving and devoted husband, son, brother, uncle, father and grandfather and will be missed by all.

John was born on July 14, 1944 at Orofino, to Paul and Lila Baugh. He is survived by his wife, Gloria Baugh at the family home; his mother, Lila; two sisters, Judy Coomer (husband Jack) of Boise and Lura Mullikin (husband Lyle) of Orofino; his children, Paul and Matt Baugh, Summer Mechling all of Deary and Blaine Graening of Post Falls. Grandchildren Ryan Baugh, of Lewiston and Sage, Montana and Jacob Mechling of Deary, also survive him.

John was preceded in death by his father Paul, who died in a logging accident when John was a young boy. He was also preceded in death by his step-father Ted Zimhauer, who John loved and respected very much.

He married Linda Weddle in Lewiston on April 23, 1966. That marriage later ended in divorce. He always had a special place in his heart for Dorothy Jones, who cared for Summer after the divorce. He spoke many times of the strength and love she gave to both Summer and himself.

He met his current wife, Gloria, on September 30, 1989 when she asked him to dance. They have been inseparable sweethearts since they fell in love that night. They married in Orofino on Feb. 14, 1992.

John proudly served his country with the Idaho National Guard beginning in 1964 doing weekend and summer drills with Company D of the 116th Combat Engineer Battalion in Orofino. John attended Basic Training in Fort Leonardwood, MO in 1965. He was a heavy equipment operator and served a tour of duty in Vietnam from Sept. 11, 1968 until his discharge Sept. 4, 1969. His rank was Specialist 5th Class. He spent time near the demilitarized zone in Vietnam and was awarded the Army Accommodation Medal.

John loved 4-wheeling with his dog, Gracie May, spending time in the great outdoors, hunting, fishing, and exploring. He enjoyed working on projects in his shop for family and friends. Most of all he loved spending time with family and watching his grandchildren grow up.

Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at Pine Hills Funeral Chapel. There will be a potluck dinner at the National Guard Armory on U.S. Highway 12 in Orofino following the funeral.

Pine Hills Funeral Chapel and Crematory is caring for the arrangements.

Cousin John Baugh's Viewing

Friends and family could view my cousin John Baugh at the funeral home in Orofino. The funeral was on Saturday.

For the viewing, he was wearing his trademark overalls and white t-shirt and held a "Proud to be a Vietnam Veteran" hat in his hand.

Three Beautiful Things 02/07/10: Winco/Yokes, Chicken and Pizza, Bloggin'

1. I like shopping at Yokes in Kellogg and going to Winco on Barger is like Yokes only about ten times bigger. I like Winco a lot.
2. That Winco fried chicken with Anne's homemade pizza was sure good.
3. Ah! The luxury of taking several hours and writing stuff for my blog...I enjoyed it immensely today.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sibling Assignment #119: Enduring Friendships -- It's the Best Way to Use Creative Energy

This is the last of the "Best" assignments handed out by InlandEmpireGirl, asking us siblings to write about the best way to use our creative energy.

InlandEmpireGirl takes a break from out doing Ansel Adams and writes about taking pictures, here and Tony Award shoo-in Silver Valley Girl writes about the theater, here.

I'll begin by saying, if you've never seen Bill Moyers interviewing Coleman Barks about his work as a translator of Rumi and about Rumi's poetry, try to find it. It's called "Love's Confusing Joy". It's a part of a series entitled, The Language of Life.

In that interview, Coleman Barks tries to explain mystical reality, the idea that God/Yahweh/Allah/the divine is not "up there", but that we live in its midst. We are like the frog in the ocean, not the frog in the ditch. It means that we live in the midst of an eternity of creative energy.

In other words, Rumi understood God, no matter what name one uses, to be fundamentally a creative force, the force that brought the world into being and that if we live in God, we live in creativity.

We are always creating.

Using creative energy includes the arts and extends beyond them to how we create friendships, relationships, tension, havoc, peacefulness, messes, reconciliation, and on and on.

I know that I spend a lot of my creative energy trying to help students write better. I try to create an atmosphere of openness, fun, seriousness, inquiry, and courage. I use my creative energy to try and put my students in the best situations possible to succeed, to discover their intelligence, their creative energy, and to experience the spiritual rewards of writing.

I spend a lot of creative energy trying to be good. I don't always succeed, but the creative energy of God (or whatever you call this creative force) is good. It's an energy of healing, bonding, reconciliation, harmony, of oneness. We are most attuned to the creative energy we live in when we act in ways that accentuate commonality, not division. Such goodness comes under fierce criticism, both from those who profess to live God's will as well as from those who do not.

But, I think the best use of our creative energy is to do what we can to foster unity and connectedness rather than create division and separateness.

It's difficult.. The forces of division, whether political, social, theological, or ideological are very strong.

Beyond the sphere of my little world I can't do much tangible in the larger world where conflict and division thrive --where creative energy is frittered away.

This coming weekend a group of friends is coming to Vancouver, WA from North Idaho and Eastern Washington. One friend has already come down to Idaho from Alaska. He's coming to Vancouver on Saturday. I just learned another friend is coming from the Puget Sound area. Maybe another will come from near Centralia, I hope. We are getting together at Diane's house. I know of one Portland area friend joining in. I hope others will, too.

I know that if we based our enjoyment of each other on political or ideological or theological harmony, we couldn't congregate. We couldn't enjoy each other. Our political, theological, and social differences and divisions would fracture us.

It's not what we base our friendships on, though. It's not our focus. We don't think of one another in terms of our differences.

We make the best use of our creative energy and extend love, enjoyment, the pleasure of shared history, and trust toward one another.

That, to me, is living in God. It's not looking for distinctions. It's enjoying the love and goodness that's at the core of each of our being and reveling in it.

It's the best use of our creative energy: we are continuing to create enduring, lifelong friendships.

It's what matters most.

Sibling Assignment #117: Patrica Clarkson in Two Complex, Memorable Roles

InlandEmpireGirl assigned Silver Valley Girl and me a series of January assignments built around the word "best". Here's her third such assignment:

Write about a "Best Movie Because of a Memorable Role an Actor/Actress Played."


IEG wrote about On Golden Pond, here and Silver Valley Girl wrote about Braveheart, here.

Rather than reflect on one movie, I'm going to reflect on two, primarily because they are tied together by the work of Patricia Clarkson.

If you've hung around kelloggbloggin much over the last few years, you know that I deeply enjoy women over the age of about thirty-five, or maybe forty, in movies. Joan Allen. Catherine Keener. Jennifer Jason Leigh. Meryl Streep. Julianne Moore. Allison Janney. Hope Davis. Marcia Gay Harden. Helen Mirren. Laura Linney. Maria Bello. Holly Hunter. Bebe Neuwirth. You get the idea.

When any of these women, like Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver, appear in a movie, it almost never matters to me if I enjoy the movie as a whole. Their work acting never disappoints me. They bring depth, maturity, vulnerability, anger, weariness, and fierceness to the screen, qualities that don't make movies popular, but are what I seek and enjoy most in film.

I've mentioned it before. I almost never watch a movie to escape reality. I watch movies to learn more about reality and these women's work has educated me emotionally and, possibly, helped me understand some of what the world, from a woman's experience, is like.

Two movies featuring Patricia Clarkson in, I guess you'd call them, supporting roles jumped to mind when IEGirl assigned this question.

Both Pieces of April and The Station Agent appeared in 2003 and in them Patricia Clarkson plays two complex, angry, suffering and loving characters, both in the midst of loss.

In Pieces of April, Clarkson plays Joy (ironic name, of course), the mother of April (Katie Holmes [smashing performance]), her wayward daughter, who has invited her grandmother, father, mother, sister, and brother to Thanksgiving dinner in her low rent apartment on the Lower East side of Manhattan. The family must travel from an unnamed suburb in Pennsylvania and it's during their trip that we learn that Joy has breast cancer.

Clarkson plays the cancer stricken mother with anger, cynicism, selfishness, and profanity, and manages to convey, at the same time, a degree of tenderness. She's in deep pain, physical and emotional. Her knowledge that her death is closer than far away moves her to be nakedly honest, unfiltered in her speech and actions. Her pain and the treatment for her cancer makes her sick, and necessitates her medicinal use of marijuana.

The role is without glamor. In many ways Joy is a pain in the neck, not very likable, but, at the same time, she has no self-pity, lets amiability seep through her bitterness. It's vintage Patricia Clarkson, a role played with intelligence, verve, and depth.

Likewise, in The Station Agent, Clarkson plays a complicated and complex character. Her name is Olivia, an artist. Her young son died two years ago and her marriage is in tatters, about to end.

While, ostensibly, the movie is the story of Fin, a dwarf who has moved into an abandoned railroad depot near the snack truck Olivia frequents, it's Patricia Clarkson whose performance keeps this movie emotionally honest.

Olivia, like Fin, craves solitude, for the sake of her grief and her art. At the same time, she is convivial, enjoys the company of Fin (she even gives him a camera to chase trains with), and the man who works the snack truck, Joe.

She's not, however, interested in looking after Fin and in a very memorable scene she breaks from her kindness toward him and lets him know this in no uncertain terms.

Again, it's vintage Patricia Clarkson. She drops her voice into its deepest range, almost a growl, a sound I'd also heard in Pieces of April. The grief of having lost her son, the bitterness of her separation from her husband, the fact that she is not looking to be anyone's caretaker vibrates through her voice as she tells Fin, in essence, that she is not his mother.

It's a brilliant moment and it deepens rather than ends their friendship.

In both movies, Patrica Clarkson portrays loss and grief, but not in a one-dimensional or maudlin way. The grief of these middle-age women takes form in tears, yes, but also in sarcasm, illness, solitude, empathy, aloofness, selfishness, truthfulness, humor, irreverence, and in getting high, whether on pot or wine.

I don't have a movie critic's language for writing about acting, but, to me, these roles were organically played, came from deep inside Patricia Clarkson and took shape as two distinct characters brought to life by Clarkson's marvelously versatile voice and the multiple ways she brings a role physically to life....(my favorite is her struggles with drinking coffee while driving in The Station Agent).

Both are independent movies. Neither generated fanfare. If you haven't seen them, I hope you will. Each is a captivating film, buoyed by the genius of Patricia Clarkson.

Three Beautiful Things 02/06/10: Hendricks Park Triggers Memories, Ginger Fish, New to Us: Thai Hot Wings

1. Russell and I braved a gray, but mild early afternoon and scaled the heights of Hendricks Park and snapped photos. The Hendricks Park shelter reminded me of starting graduate school and the party we hot shot young scholars had there in early October, 1979 and how of all those in attendance, it's Carol Watt whom I still see all the time as a fellow instructor at LCC and how kind she was to me at the University of Oregon and how hard it is to believe we've known each other for 31 years now and how weird it is to me that current Eugene Councilwoman Betty Taylor was at that party as a new graduate student in her, I think, fifties and I thought about how two years later Becky Ankeny started her degreee and came to the start-of-the-year picnic at Hendricks Park and I talked with her husband, Mark, and somehow the subject was marriage and how he told me, not knowing how long I'd been married, that the fifth through seventh years were always the most difficult and I nodded, thinking Eileen and I were getting through it pretty well and then how two months later we were separated and we were divorced the following year. I also thought of Mark and Carissa's wedding held there on a gorgeous, I think it was August, evening. I hope my pictures turned out.

2. After the photo outing, I kept my eating ginger streak alive and ordered the ginger fish and rice dish at Yi Shen.

3. To my delight, the Deke craved Thai food when I got home and so, after a nap...it wears me out remembering all that stuff at Hendricks Park...I buzzed over to Chao Pra Ya and picked up a couple of dishes we are accustomed to loving: Massaman Curry and Tom Kha soup. Then I went off our usual grid and bought an order of Hot Wings. It all worked.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Daydream......

Wednesday I was driving to school or back or something and I daydreamed, looking forward to July and having a reunion with my cousins, the Baugh family tree, and daydreamed how fun it would be to go to a bar with my cousin John and have a few beers and listen to his tales about logging and things in Orofino and look back on my dad and how much Dad enjoyed John and get a little high and then my daydream took a funny turn when someone in the bar decided I looked soft, like an egghead, and probably shouldn't be in a downtown Orofino bar so John and I teamed up, kicked this guy's ass, and threw him out on the street and went back to our beer, unbruised, a little out of breath, but more than cousins....we were brothers in arms..

Wednesday evening Mom called.

"I have sad news. Your cousin John died in his sleep last night..."

John's gone. Just like that. Almost instant.

It's Saturday. The funeral is today in Orofino.

I can't accept this happened.

Six Beautiful Things 02/02-05/10: Ginger, Ocean Frog, Ariel, Fist Bump, Shrubs, Lullabies

I look back over the last week and it's a fog and I'm not sure why. I know I was too preoccupied and distracted on Tues. through Friday to post 3BTs and, shoot, here it is Saturday and I'm playing catch up. Well, here goes. I think I can draw some beautiful things out of the fog that shrouds my mind:

1. I had this time in my life about four years ago when I said every day I was going to eat either sushi or cinnamon or both. Every morning I bought a cinnamon scone at Starbuck's and regularly I bought sushi at the Sunrise Asian Market or at Market of Choice or I'd go for sushi at Sakura. Now I swear I want to eat ginger every day. So, Tuesday, I dropped by Yi Shen for some ginger chicken and later dropped by Sunrise Asian Market and took out about ten Korean sushi rolls. Sadly, the little packet of ginger was not sufficient for all those rolls -- I need to remember to buy a small container of pickled ginger and keep in on hand to munch from and to have on hand when I get sushi to go.

2. So, Coleman Barks, tells this story about the Ditch Frog and the Ocean Frog as a way of illustrating living in a limited reality and an expansive one. I suddenly realized that the central metaphor of this story is a great way to understand poetry, both reading it and writing it. So, today, in Intro to Poetry, I invited the students to see, say, Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Salt" as an Ocean Frog poem. By the end of the poem, Neruda invites us to see a grain of salt as a part of infinitude. The salt is infinitude. Salt resides in infinitude. It's a mystical insight, a picture of mystical reality. I really like this Ocean Frog way of thinking and imagining.

3. Out of the blue, on Wednesday, a knock at my office door, and it's Ariel! We had a really good visit and I learned more about her studies at the U of O and her reading of Virginia Woolf and her struggles with Spanish and her work as a writer for Eugene Magazine. Ariel refreshed my day.

4. I don't think S, expected to see her four source shorter research project projected on the screen in class as an example of a job well done and she was really happy and then K., who had been in my office earlier for help with her writing, came to me after class and told me how much S.'s paper had helped her. We had a fist bump... well-deserved.

5. The tree/shrub guy came by and all the front yard shrubbery will be gone...in about 10 days...prelude to a back/front yard renovation.

6. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. YouTube. "Won't Back Down". "Runnin' Down a Dream". "Free Falling". Multiple videos of "You Wreck Me". And others. For variety: a couple of Chrissie Hynde tunes, "Back on the Chain Gang" and "Tattooed Love Boys". Then midnight came. I went to bed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 02/01/10: Barks Redux, Moth Shut Again, Limits

1. I could watch the Coleman Barks interview with Bill Moyers and his readings of Rumi's poetry every single day, I swear. "Love's Confusing Joy" is the name of the program. Wow. Did I ever enjoy looking at mystic reality in poetry class today after we viewed the tape. The frog in the ocean...and then looking at a couple of Neruda's odes from within this context. I thought it worked....but I might be wrong...I think the frog in the ocean is the metaphor I'm going to live by for a while....

2. At work today I didn't talk about the meeting I didn't go to and that I didn't think I'd understand if I did go. Not talking about things I don't know much about is good for my health. Really good. Keeps me in better harmony with the frog in the ocean and keeps me out of the ditch.

3. I have two more WR 122 papers to grade. I'm not going to grade them tonight. I'm going to bed. I used to push myself through my fatigue and finish tasks. I used to think I needed to be like an elite athlete. That's what they always do: push through fatigue, get the job done. Well, I'm not elite and it makes me sick to not get proper rest and, frankly, I don't want to go back to the hospital, so I'll do those papers in the morning and I'll work more tomorrow at getting caught up, but not at the cost of my health. I'm not elite. I'm not elite. I have limits. When I push my limits it makes me sick. It's not worth it. Maybe some of you reading this post are tired of pushing yourselves. Join me. Get some rest. Doing it all is way overrated.

Three Beautiful Things 01/31/10: Focus, Albertson's Hugfest, Monte Carlo on the Clearwater

1. I got my focus going and got a lot of WR 122 papers graded.

2. My favorite checker at Albertson's wasn't working, but she came in the store and Albertson's turned into a hugfest. Everyone loves her. (I don't love her, per se...she's just my favorite checker in Eugene...well, that it unless Kelly is checking at TJ's, but I've never come through the line at TJ's when she was checking...)

3. I had the greatest time on a Facebook thread with my cousins and sisters getting plans made for going to Lewiston to the Clearwater Casino. That thread is a gas.