Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/10: Back in the Saddle, Molly Looks at the Bright Side, Everything is "The Wire"

1.  I was a little rusty, but I dove back into teaching today and things went well.  The best news:  all of my enrolled students are accounted for and my sections are full.  It makes life much easier at the start of a quarter when everyone is present and enrollment ends.  No adds.

 2.   Molly is feeling stress about her trip to Oklahoma to see Hiram for the first time in over two months.  He's been in boot camp.  Their reunion won't be as smooth as they'd hoped, but I was happy to see Molly doing all she can to look at the bright side of things and not dwell too much on the difficulties.

3.  Everything is "The Wire".  The world of "The Wire" is a microcosm of everything.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/10: Ice Road Trucking of ____, Ice Road Trucking of Reading Scripture Aloud, Clear Straight Dry Road Trucking of Food Preparation

1. My recent obsession with the History program "Ice Road Truckers" has had one particular happy result:  if something is really difficult, I will now call it the "Ice Road Trucking" of what ever it is.  For example, if Olivia were particularly out of sorts and impossible to quiet down, I would refer to her as the Ice Road Trucking of fifteen month old babies.

2. This designation came in handy yesterday. In church, I read the Old Testament lesson from Jeremiah and the passage contained the following names: Zedekiah, Nebuchadrezzar, Hanamel, Shallum, Anathoth, Baruch, Neriah, and Mahseiah. It was the Ice Road Trucking of reading scripture aloud.

3.  Dinner last night, however, was the Clear Straight Dry Road Trucking of food preparation.  Following Molly's lead of shredded chicken with green salsa in a bowl and then rolled in a taco, I fried a pound of hamburger accompanied by sweet onions and a potato diced into small pieces, put it in a bowl, poured red salsa over it and scooped the mixture into browned flour tortillas with melted shredded sharp cheddar cheese on one side and served it as a taco.  It was an easy meal to prepare and was met with universal approval.  Even enthusiasm. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/10: Happiness in WR 121, Radical Juxtaposition of Unlike Things, Chicken Tacos

1.  I made a significant breakthrough in my thinking about the fall quarter WR 121 course and knowing just how I'm going to tackle some new challenges in that course makes me feel much better about school starting on Monday.  We'll examine the question of happiness and I found a good article to get us started and inquiring into the nature of happiness will be a good way to get our minds ready to read the two books I'm assigning. 

2.  I had a good  visit with Russell and, while we were watching Boise State and Oregon State, Anne and Allie arrived home.  I told Anne and Russell I'd read a document, on their insistence, that came from on high at LCC and we had a spirited conversation about its absurdity and the fragmented consciousness that produced it:  radical juxtaposition of unlike things came to mind.  Really unlike things.

3.  For dinner, Molly fixed the chicken tacos she's been telling us about for several weeks, and I enjoyed them a lot. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/10: Clean Skin, Chicken Bonz, Ice Road Logistics

1.  When I got my physical a while back,  my primary care doctor had concerns about my skin on a hidden part of my body and within four seconds the dermatologist I saw today looked and said, "Everything's fine."  It took me longer to fill out my medical history than it did to get myself checked out.  It was the quickest you-don't-have-cancer visit I've ever had to a doctor.

2.   After I left the dermatologist, I tried out Chicken Bonz in Springfield.   I walked in and immediately couldn't figure out how the place worked, and that's always a minus for me in a restaurant.  Then I realized that the menu covered the wall to my right, but I felt claustrophobic because the counter was so close to the entrance.  I felt rushed and quickly ordered six wings (I got seven!) with hot sauce and a bottle of Bud, which, to my pleasure, was packed in ice and was really cold.  I used to think the grungiest, darkest, most goth looking place I'd ever been in was John Henry's when it was on 11th, but Chicken Bonz was nearly as goth: dark, black, small, claustrophobic.  The wings were not my favorites.  For me, with wings, it all starts with the chicken and I don't think this franchise uses quality chicken.  The sauce was pretty good, but the whole meal was pretty salty and I prefer baked or broiled wings to deep fried.  I also really enjoy wings with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.  Chicken Bonz doesn't serve this.  I appreciate all those who have recommended Chicken Bonz to me, but I don't think I'll go back.   At this point, I think my favorite wings were at the Wild Duck, now closed.  I also like the wings at the Steelhead Brewery.  My search continues.  I'm thinking somewhere has got to top Steelhead.  I think I'll try The Cooler next even though I hear their wings are breaded.  I would try the Villard Pub, but it closes Oct. 3.  I'd hate to really  enjoy wings at the Villard Pub and then not be able to eat them again!

3.  More than the truckers, what fascinates me as I watch "Ice Road Truckers" is all the non-trucker workers who make the trucking possible:  the plow drivers, the radar guys who check the thickness of the ice, the divers who train to be on the ready if a truck breaks through the ice and goes down, the emergency crews that come out when trucks break down, the guys working the garage who repair broken down trucks, not to mention the highway patrol.  The whole logistical support that makes ice road trucking possible and keeps things running is very impressive and those who make the roads on the ice and keep them open are putting themselves at risk in ways that are much less glamorous for television, but crucial.   I'm very happy I found this program on Netflix Instant Watching.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/10: Beef Stroganoff, Lester Freamon, Ice Road Truckers

1.  Another good evening at the electric frying pan:  I bought a couple .7 pound round steaks, cut them in strips, floured them with pepper and Jane's Krazy Seasoning, browned the strips and then sauteed onions, celery, and mushrooms.  While these were sauteing, I dumped a modest amount of Worcestershire sauce on the meat, let it all cook a bit and then dumped a couple of cans of beef broth on all of it and let it simmer for about an hour or so.  At that point, I dumped 8 oz of sour cream in the mix, boiled egg noodles, and as a result, our family enjoyed beef stroganoff for dinner.   Universal approval.

 2.  I'm five episodes into "The Wire" and the most revealing scene, to me, so far was McNulty and Freamon's conversation over drinks when McNulty learns why Freamon has been on pawn shop duty for thirteen years and four months.  I'm learning why Bunk called Lester Freamon natural police.

3.  Ed's been telling me a few years now that I have to see "Ice Road Truckers".  I don't have cable so I haven't been able to see it on the History channel.  BUT, I discovered today that "Ice Road Truckers" is an Instant option on Netflix.  I started to watch episode 1 of season 1 this evening:  I'm hooked.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/10: Keeping My Yap Shut, Healthy Snug, Good Eats

1. During the pre-season exhibition season today at school (that is, the tedious meetings we have before school starts), I spoke only when called upon to make a report and to introduce myself, thus doing little to lengthen the time of either meeting.

2. Snug was sweet, cooperative, calm, and totally healthy at the vet today when he had his annual examination.

3. I had a lot of fun building a dinner around a pre-cooked, just-microwave-it, Trader Joe's pot roast: Brussel sprouts, our family's mystery grain with grated sharp cheddar cheese melted through it (with optional green salsa), and boiled potatoes. The verdict was unanimous at the family dinner table: good eats.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/10: Deke Gets Her Comfort Food On, Woodburn Starbucks, "The Wire" and "The Shield"

1. The Deke took over the electric frying pan tonight and whipped up what, to her, is an epitome of comfort food: pork steaks drowning in a mushroom gravy, made sturdy by a can of cream of mushroom soup. We ladled the gravy over a grain no one seems to know the name of and rounded out this pinnacle of comfort food with green beans and corn (some of you might recognize a DD song title here).

2. The Starbucks in Woodburn wins my designation as Oregon's most perfectly located coffee shop. When I drive to Portland, as I did today, this shop, just off the freeway and just south of the Company Stores Mall, is placed perfectly for a well-timed refreshment after dealing with six or seven big trucks per mile on I-5. Today I had a black iced tea and lemonade and it gave me just the refreshment and morale boost I needed to feel clear-minded as I headed on to the airport.

3. I watched nearly three episodes of season 1 of "The Wire" this evening. Over the years, I've told both students and friends how much I enjoy "The Shield". Nine out of ten respond, "You've got to see "The Wire"! It's soooooooooooooo much better!" Having watched these episodes of "The 'Wire", I don't think there's a comparison to be made. They embody completely different approaches to police work and drama. They are so vastly different from each other, operating on such different planes, that I would never say which is better. They are both, in their own ways, compelling and I don't see any way to meaningfully compare them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/10: Pot Roast, Pot Roast Result, Mom's Pot Roast Help

1. Saturday I bought a chuck roast and finally this afternoon the time was right for me to coat it with flour, pepper, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning, brown all sides of it, put some water in the electric frying pan, surround the roast with red pepper, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots, cover the pan and let it all slow cook.

2. The family was unanimous in their assessment of tonight's roast dinner: perfect.

3. I'm never too old to call my mom for advice and about halfway through getting this roast cooked, I called my mom (aka MIWW) to make sure I was doing things right. She was duly impressed that I was doing so much right, especially since I'd never cooked a roast in an electric fry pan before. (Fact is, in college, I mostly used my electric frying pan to make Hamburger Helper.) After dinner, I called her again with the good news that the roast was a success, met enthusiastically by young and old alike around the dinner table!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/10: Pacino/Carlito's Way, Grace Again, Our Dean and the Dead

1. I'm working at getting a more complete sense of Al Pacino as an actor. Toward that end, today I watched "Carlito's Way", a movie I saw in a theater about seventeen years ago when it came out. When I saw it back then, I wasn't in the right mind set to appreciate Sean Penn's brilliant work as Carlito's lawyer. Today I was. Astonishing. I wasn't prepared before to understand what a complicated character Pacino creates in his portrayal of Carlito Brigante. Carlito's street smarts and criminal experience, his toughness, is complemented by his longing to be clean, to do things right, and by his tenderness. Pacino plays this combination of apparently contradicting qualities superbly; I enjoyed how he played Sonny in "Dog Day Afternoon" in much the same way: a bit crazy, desperate, possibly capable of violence, but, tender, caring, concerned for others.

2. When I went over to Jeff's to give him a ride to an open house to welcome Siskanna as a new member of our English faculty, lo and behold, Grace was seated on the porch, talking with Jeff. The last time I saw Grace was over near 8th and Blair and I was out trying to sweeten my attitude about living in Eugene by taking pictures in the neighborhood I live in. Seeing Grace that day sweetened my day more than the picture taking did, and, once again, talking to Grace this evening cheered me, made me happy.

3. The open house was a cheery event. Those attending enjoyed one another's company. We found out our dean enjoys the Grateful Dead and even was in attendance back in January 1971 (is that right? did the Dead play only once at LCC?) when the Dead played the Lane Community College gymnasium. That was a fun thing to learn about our boss.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/10: Fred Meyer Wine Rack, Unloading, OMG! Leah and Cara! OMG!

1. Thank goodness for Fred Meyer. I went to Market of Choice to buy some groceries and on my list was a bottle of Riesling wine. I should have known better than to be able to easily find a bottle at Market of Choice. It's wine section is a labyrinth of snobbery, of high prices and fancy labels and not a bottle of chilled Riesling in sight. Later, after dropping of some stuff at Goodwill, I went to Fred Meyer, knowing that once I picked up some rawhides and doggie poop bags, I'd be able to walk right to the beer case, find a section of chilled cheap white wine, and, sure enough, I did. I'll never try to buy a bottle of wine at Market of Choice again. I'm not sophisticated enough.

2. It really felt good to unload the sherbert maker we have never used, the juicer we quit using about ten years ago, the cookie jar I painted at Brushfire and that we never use, and a few other items and take them to Goodwill. I love opening up more space in the house: now my electric frying pan isn't being cramped like a passenger on a rush hour subway train in the lower kitchen cupboard.

3. After shopping and donating, I was resting on the sofa and I heard voices in the Deke's room. I didn't know what was going on and after a few minutes I crowbarred myself off the couch and what I saw nearly gave me cardiac arrest.

It was Leah! From Denton, TX! Molly's former roommate! OMG! And her sister Cara! OMG x 2!

Leah flew out to see Cara in Salem this weekend and they stealthed into Eugene, without Molly knowing, but in cahoots with Lindsey, and showed up at Old Navy and surprised the stuffings out of Molly before coming to our house and surprising the stuffings out of the Deke and me.

I'd never met Leah.

I'd never met Cara.

It was I really enjoy these friends of Molly's at first sight.

Out for coffee. Back to our house. Pizza. Drinks. Laughter. Stories. Back out again. Back home. Farewells.

How do the youth say it?

Epic.

Right?


Here are Molly and Leah in our dining room:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/10: No ER, Kelly/Billy Sunshine, Walkin'

1. Nobody got sick. I was really relieved. I made a Crock Pot (gave the electric frying pan a rest) jammed with dark and light chicken meat, onion, red peppers, corn, green beans, broccoli, fusilli, and two and half boxes of low sodium chicken broth. Why would this make anyone sick? Well, the half box I used had been in the refrigerator for a while and it wasn't until after I got the soup all put together that I read that if the box has been opened, it should be used in 7-10 days. Nightmare visions of my soup making Olivia sick and of all of us having to go to ER dominated my imagination. We had a house meeting. I put the facts before the Deke and Molly. I told them the broth in the opened box smell good. We decided to eat it and, if need be, we'd all go to the ER together. We stayed home all night.

2. Through the fog of her Further festival hangover, Kelly was happy to see me and talk about stuff at Trader Joe's. She opened a till and rang up my groceries just so we could continue to talk. By the way, I've been having better trips to Trader Joe's. I seem less bothered by things that used to darken my mood there. Maybe as I get older I'm becoming more sunshiny.

3. Olivia walked more and longer distances today than ever before. She walked across the dining room. She walked nearly twenty steps from the dining room to the Deke. Would she rather walk than crawl? Not yet.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/10: Babysitting Olivia, Barbie's Back, All Roads Lead to Kellogg

1. I babysat Olivia for an hour or so this morning and we had fun walking, playing, eating, and watching the opening sequence of "Godfather, Part II". Olivia asked me to explain what was happening at Ellis Island and didn't understand, at first, how Vito's last name went from Andolini to Corleone, so I replayed how the immigration officer wrote down the town he was from, not his name and then Olivia nodded (she can't say "Oh, I get it!"yet).

2. Coffee with Margaret, Jeff, and Michael was gloriously interrupted by a sudden visit from Barbie and Miriam; I can't remember when I last saw Barbie and I'm sure we'll follow through on our spontaneous but undefined plan to have coffee soon.

3. Dinner at Billy Mac's was really fun last night. I enjoyed listening to Russell enthuse about his new camera lenses and reflect on his family's trip to Hawaii; I enjoyed how Allie and Olivia really like each other; I enjoyed, out of the corner of my eye, watching the Seattle Storm defeat the Atlanta Dream for the WNBA championship; I enjoyed talking poker and Buffalo wings and other Buffalo food delights with Anne and Russell. Toward the end of the evening, I had my most enjoyable moment. It was an "All Roads Lead to Kellogg" moment. Talk about Portland State University led to mention of Debra Gwartney and her memoir "Live Through This" and I stated, factually, I went to Kellogg High School with her former husband. Jaws dropped. "You're kidding!" The universal question returned: "What is it about Kellogg?". I smiled broadly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/10: No Deadline, Better Health, Dog Day Greatness

1. I thought I had to meet a medical insurance deadline today. It's not until the 25th. It's a great relief to have more time.

2. I've turned the corner. While I'm still dealing with rattles and wheezes in my chest, my energy is good, the sore throat is gone, I'm not aching. I'm getting close to being over the short bout I've had with whatever.

3. I hadn't watched "Dog Day Afternoon" since it came our and Eileen and I double-dated with Tom and Lori at the Airport Heights drive-in to see it. Our date was not a fog the windows kind of double date. We watched the movie like the young smarty pants we fancied ourselves to be. Watching it now, thirty-five years later, well, I am staggered by what a good movie it is.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/10: Cazale Documentary, "Tootsie" Rules, Thai Food in Frying Pan

1. I discovered HBO produced a documentary on John Cazale entitled, "I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale". Its DVD release is in November and I'm eager to view it.

2. Goofing off in You Tube land led me to "Tootsie" and some scenes from it. That year "Ghandi", which put me to sleep, won the Oscar for Best Picture. For me, it was "Tootsie". No contest.

3. With the help of a bottle of Trader Joe's Thai Yellow Curry Sauce, I combined the sauce, chicken, green beans, broccoli, spinach, and coconut milk together in my trusty electric frying pan, and served it over white basmati rice. It was a simple and tasty meal for the Deke, Molly, and me. Olivia wolfed down some broccoli and chicken, before I poured the Curry Sauce in the pan.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sibling Assignment #136: Crazy Aunt InlandEmpireGirl

InlandEmpireGirl made this assignment:
A friend just gave me the book The Complete Book of Aunts by Rupert Christiansen. The books honors aunts that are real and fictitious. Write on the topic of aunts.


I'm the first to post and will post my sisters' links when they complete their assignments.


This assignment made me think of a general story line that I've read in student papers and maybe I've seen in movies or on television.

It's the story of the crazy, good-natured aunt who takes in her nieces or nephews for a short period of time and the kids get to do all the stuff they can't necessarily do at home. They get to stay up late, play all the time they are awake, go to movies, go to the zoo. They get a break from the stricter discipline of home life.

When I was a kid, I never thought to wish to have an aunt like this and I never did.

My mom's sister (Aunt Lila) is and my dad's sister (Aunt Ruth) were really nice to my sisters and me. We enjoyed visiting Aunt Lila every summer and I enjoyed the occasional visits Aunt Ruth made to Spokane or Kellogg, but neither one of them were really, well, crazy, crazy in the sense of saying, "Okay! What do you wanna do next? Do you want more ice cream? Shall we go shopping? Let's play Uno! Let's play Sorry! Have you guys had a chance to see "The Absent Minded Professor"? Let's go! It's really funny! Shall we make smores?"

Before I move forward, I need to make one thing clear: I'm using the word "crazy" in the most positive sense. I mean crazy as wonderful, singular, and perfect combined with unpredictable, nonconforming, and excellent.

Spontaneous. Fun-loving. Energetic.

Crazy.

But not a lunatic.

Okay.

Got that straight?

My sister, InlandEmpireGirl is the consummate crazy aunt for Silver Valley Girl's three daughters.

I might not have the history of this exactly right. I mean maybe it only happened once.

But my sister was such a great crazy aunt it seems to me like it happened all the time.

Here's what I think I know: Silver Valley Girl's daughters got to stay for several days with their crazy aunt and when they did, it was non-stop laughter.

They played board games. They played card games. They ate fun food. They make smores. They watched fun movies. They went on outings in the area. The didn't go to movies because Crazy Aunt InlandEmpireGirl doesn't live very close to a movie theater. But they watched movies in the house.

I can't keep straight the fragments of stories I've heard about these times together.

All I know is that when our whole family gets together, the nieces have inside jokes with my sister. They can say like two special words and erupt in laughter. Some crazy thing they did is embodied in those two words.

I don't resent at all the fact that neither of my aunts could be a crazy aunt. There were tons of good reasons why Aunt Lila and I or Aunt Ruth and I didn't go to A & W together or didn't stay up late playing Spoons.

I'm ecstatic, though, that my nieces have had this experience with my sister. And, to be honest, their experience with their aunt just added craziness to craziness.

Silver Valley Girl is not an oppressively strict mother.

She's kind of crazy, too!

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/10: Rest, Lindsey and Molly and Olivia, Happy Teacher Deke

1. When I'm sick, I refuse to be heroic. I refuse to grit my teeth and carry on with tasks as if I were not sick. I rest. Period. I sleep. Exclamation mark. I rested and slept today. No question.

2. Molly gives Olivia her all: attention, a playmate, help walking, good food. It tires Molly out. She also needs companionship with her peers. It's always a happy time around here when Lindsey comes over and Molly and Lindsey and Olvia (and sometimes Lucas) pile in Lindsey's rig and go to a park or go for coffee or have lunch or all of the above. I noticed a marked improvement in Molly's countenance yesterday when Lindsey arrived and when Molly got back from her time away from the house, from her time being with Olivia and no one else.

3. The Deke started prompting her fourth graders to do some writing and she read some of the gems to me last night. It's really good the Deke to be teaching reading and writing after two years of not teaching these subjects. She loves it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/10: Remedies and Wishes, Happy Mike, Welcome

1. Once I posted the fact that I'm in bed ill, friends came forward with remedies to fix and best wishes for my speedy recovery. I appreciated all of this a lot.

2. Ed called. We talked over our visit to Mike. I was happy to learn that Mike called Ed and thanked him again for instigating our visit and even more happy to learn that our visit made him happy.

3. Things are at peace in our home. The Deke and I are at peace. Last night it hit me how happy I am that Molly and Olivia can stay here for a while and that it's easy. I felt the same way when Adrienne visited in May. I felt the same way when Linda and Gerry opened their home up to our Whitworth get together a couple of weeks ago. I'm thinking it must be the same with Terry and Nancy in Gladstone. It's sure this way at my mom's house in Kellogg. And Christy and Everett's. And Carol and Paul's. It's just good when people are at some level of peace with each other and can open their home to visitors and family and it's easy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/10: IHOP Mustard, Laughing with Mike, Beautiful Drive

1. Scott, Jimmie, and Ed drove to Yakima from the greater Kellogg area and I drove up from Eugene so we could surprise Mike with a visit while he recovers from surgery to remove his cancerous prostate. The boys and I met at IHOP near the Valley Mall of Union Gap (we didn't see Gary Puckett). We ordered our food and Ed, as he always does, asked for mustard for his fried eggs. One of the waitresses was stunned. She'd never heard of such a thing. Toward the end of our meal, I tried mustard on the last of my fried eggs (and enjoyed it). As were were leaving, Ed told the stunned waitress I had tried mustard on my eggs. IHOP's service came to standstill. She was doubly stunned. I explained to her that if I have a scrambled egg sandwich or a fried egg sandwich I put mustard on the sandwich. Putting mustard on my fried eggs isn't much different. She was astonished, stood speechless, service at the IHOP temporarily paralyzed, wished us well and we were on our way.

2. Our two hour visit with Mike was terrific. We told stories, made wise cracks, examined Mike's rigs, had a long talk about colonoscopies (which we were able to laugh about), cancer treatment (more laughs), and did all we could to save Mike a trip to the doctor to have his staples removed. We didn't quite succeed, the staples were still intact when we left, but it sure was good to Mike on the mend and to see with our own eyes that his recovery is going so well.

3. When I wasn't being pushed by other drivers, I thoroughly enjoyed the drive on Highway 97 from Biggs to Goldendale to the top of the Satus Pass and on to Toppenish and into Union Gap and Yakima. With so much driving to do (over ten hours total for the round trip) I didn't want to stop, but soaked in as much of the view of the Cascades, of Mt. Adams and St. Helen's as I could, and loved the variety of terrain, of farm land, orchards, and coniferous trees.

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/10: Godfather Bonus, Nourishment, Documenting Home Life

1. It was fun to watch part of the bonus features disc of "The Godfather" trilogy. I especially enjoyed hearing James Caan and Robert Duvall recall incidents in the making of the movies. I also enjoyed seeing audition tapes. It's fun seeing James Caan playing the role of Michael and Robert de Niro trying out as Sonny.

2. Bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes with mushrooms for dinner was satisfying and should keep me nourished for the ton of driving I will be doing tomorrow.

3. For my own sense of order, I’m piecing together fragments of our family’s life and history as documented by the check receipts I have from 1998 to present. It’s fun to think back on things we did, not so fun thinking about all the stuff that happened that required checks to emergency room and hospitals and interesting to remember businesses no longer in existence like Foolscap Books, the Out of the Fog coffeehouse, and others.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/10: In the Nick of Time, Frankie Pentangeli, Mom's Favorite Picture

1. I've been helping my mom and Gloria. Today I finished writing and sent out a letter inviting any family who'd like to to make a memorial contribution in John Baugh's name. And wouldn't you know it . . . soon after I finished writing and sent the letter out, Mom called to find out if I'd finished my "assignment" yet. I was so relieved I had finished it and didn't have to face the disappointment of MIWW :).

2. I watched disc 2 of "Godfather, Part II" while working on some mindless tasks at my desk. Most of all, I wanted to watch again the testimony of Frankie Pentangeli in front of the congressional committee investigating Michael Corleone family, and its aftermath. Who is my favorite supporting actor in "Godfather, Part II"? Michael V. Gazzo (although I also really admire the brief work of Joe Spinell as Willie Cici). Here's Frankie:


3. On the phone, Mom (MIWW) told me she really liked this picture of Grandma Deke smiling upon Molly and Olivia. Mom had it printed and will frame it:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three Beautiful Things: 09/08/10: Drive in the Country, Family History, Sollozzo

1. Snug and I went on a drive in the local countryside. We out River Road to Junction City, followed High Pass Road for a while, turned around (now that I've looked at a map, I wish I'd kept going), drove back to Junction City and made my way to other spots in the county: Cheshire, Elmira, Veneta, Crow, more countryside and enjoyed how much Snug enjoys looking out the window, taking in the world around him.

2. As part of my study cleaning project, I've been going through old check receipts, keeping some, disposing of many, and have been enjoying the way the receipts document big moments in our family's history -- and funny moments, too.

3. While going through old check receipts, I put "The Godfather" on my computer and marveled for the 9000th time how perfect a movie it is. I especially enjoy watching the supporting cast and of them my favorite is Al Lettieri playing the role of Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo. I don't know why, but these lines of his always stay with me:

Bene, Don Corleone. I need a man who has powerful friends. I need a million dollars in cash. I need, Don Corleone, all of those politicians that you carry around in your pocket, like so many nickels and dimes.

I know Sollozzo has to be killed when he is. To me, it's the climax of Michael's story. Everything about Michael follows out of this deed, of his killing Sollozzo and Capt. McCluskey. Nonetheless, I miss Sollozzo and the work of Al Lettieri as the movie continues.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Deep Purple Memories: CFUN: ALLLLL Hit Music

My memory is an unreliable function of my mind. Fragments exist. Sometimes the fragments piece together into a story, but I never really know if the story is true, you know, in a historical, documentary way.

I've come to realize that feelings and emotions drive my memories. I retain certain feelings about things in the past and in my stories about these past events, I tend to conform the memory and the story to the feeling.

So, when I think back to things that happened, say, when I was in my late teens or when I just turned twenty, and when many of my most fun experiences were accompanied by alcohol, I'm not really sure what actually happened, what could be objectively documented, I only know what stories pop up in my head and that I profoundly enjoy them.

I'll digress for a moment: during the Kellogg High School All-Class reunion a month ago, a member of the class of 1969 was really happy to see me, in the bar he runs, and said something like, "Billy! Billy Woolum! God Damn it's good to see you!" He looked at Scott and Don and Ed and continued, "You know when the last time I saw you was?" I knew what story was coming. He told it the last time I saw him. "Your old man, Pert, saw me the night before I was getting married in 1988, and he was wearing a tie, and that fat old one eyed son of a bitch took his tie off, he took it off! So I'd have a tie for my wedding. God damn....I'll never forget it."

The story's true, but it didn't happen the last time I saw this old friend. The last time I saw him was at his bar about seven years ago when he told the same story about the last time he'd seen me.

But it doesn't matter.

The facts don't matter.

What matters is that he loved my dad for giving him the very tie off his neck at the Inland Lounge, at Chilcott's, on McKinley Avenue in Kellogg, Idaho the night before his wedding and, as far as I'm concerned, next time I see him, if he wants to say, "You know what happened the last time I saw you" and tell the story again, that's great.

This is all to say, these great memories of a Vancouver, BC radio station, CFUN pop up in my head a lot.

It must have been one of those super AM stations that blasted a signal with over 50, 000 watts or something, because late at night, in and around Kellogg, we could pick up CFUN from Vancouver on our car radios while driving the back roads of Shoshone County drinking Lucky Lager beers and rocking out.

My friend Scott turned me on to CFUN and did a great imitation of the CFUN's tagline:

ALLLLL Hit Music.

He'd do it all the time, in a rock growl: CFUN: ALLLLL Hit Music.

I swear, every song CFUN played either was great or sounded great while we were DUI driving and drinking more beer. CFUN never played a bad song. I swear.

The song CFUN seemed to always play at just the right time, just when we were ready to throw back our heads, make an oral fuzzy guitar sound, and say, "Yeeeaaahhh" was Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."

Last night I was listening to my Deep Purple station on Pandora and "Smoke on the Water" came on and suddenly I was back in Shoshone County as it turned into Kootenai County, somewhere near the Cataldo flats, the interior of Scott's rig, whichever one, talking and laughing in a yeasty cloud of Lucky Lager vapors, and last night I nearly cried thinking back to how much I loved the first fifty seconds of "Smoke on the Water": it opens Ritchie Blackmore's unforgettable guitar theme, solo, accompanied by the gradual working in of the drummer's top hat and snare, and then the rumbling bass before the instrumental tension breaks with Ian Gillan letting loose with "We all went down to Montreaux/On the Lake Geneva shoreline" and suddenly it was CFUN again, I was nineteen, and, best of all, sitting in my Eugene, OR study, I didn't have to wake up drunk and hungover and go strip zinc or pour anodes at the Zinc Plant.

Back in Kellogg and Kingston and Cataldo, was it really CFUN? Was their tagline really a rock growling "ALLLLL Hit Music"? Did Scott and I DUI drive the backroads of Shoshone County in search of a spot where CFUN came in loud and clear?

What really happened?

I don't know, but I sure get riled up inside. I hear "Smoke on the Water" and I remember CFUN as if it did happen, and I begin to tremble a bit and tear up.

That's truth enough for me.

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/10: Spaghetti Face, Cleaning Up, Pandora Rock

1. I got out the electric frying pan again and threw together two onions, a couple smashed cloves of garlic, mushrooms, and a pound of hamburger. Then I took a shortcut, which worked out just fine, but a shortcut I don't plan to take very often: when that stuff was all fried up I poured a jar of Paul Newman's Marinara Pasta Sauce and a jar of Paul Newman's Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta Sauce into the pan and let it all simmer and stay warm for about five hours. The best part of this dinner was Olivia's spaghetti face:


Photo by Molly

2. Over the summer my neglected room/study became a junk pile of a wreck of a mess and I started sorting things out and cleaning it up.

3. I rocked out and let my mind wander nostalgically listening to my Deep Purple Pandora station.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/10: Family Dinner, Olivia Starts to Walk, Sibling Assignment Catch Up

1. The Deke, Molly, Patrick and I congregated at the East 19th St. Tavern for an impromptu dinner, something the four of us rarely have the chance to do. The food was tasty and our conversation combined serious discussion laced with smart ass comments.

2. Once home, it was out to the back yard with Olivia, and Patrick shot some footage of my granddaughter Oliva wobbling some steps alone as she gets closer and closer to walking.

3. I get busy with road trips, watching movies, and general goofing off and fall behind in my Sibling Assignments. Today I got caught up and am raring to get another assignment underway. Maybe I'll just be bold and give an assignment to my sisters myself. Now that I think about, it is my turn. Heh.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sibling Assignment #135: Dog Days of August

Silver Valley Girl gave the assignment this week:
What do you like and what do you dislike about the month of August?
Silver Valley Girl embraces August here and InlandEmpireGirl gives August an awkward hug here.

*****
In August of 1998, not even a year after we were married, the Deke and I decided we needed to load up Molly and Patrick and drive the Toyota van across the country to see the Deke's mother in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

I had never been on land anywhere further east than Denver. All my life, especially as a baseball fan, I had heard about the dog days of summer, but didn't really know the full impact of that description.

During the early days of our trip, the weather was tolerable, even pleasant. We drove to Kellogg, played for a while in Spokane, visited Kathy and Loras in Bozeman, spent a day in Yellowstone Park, and made our way from Rock Springs to Cheyenne and on to Denver.

The days were hot, but nothing I regarded as dog day heat, and nothing any more intense than what we had all experienced before.

Before I move on, I should say that my entire experience with the term "dog days of summer" was related to baseball. The dog days of summer, from some time in July through early September, hitting their peak in August, are the most trying days of the baseball season, especially on pitchers.

The dog days of summer's impact on baseball players has lessened to a degree with the prominence of night games, but, still, hitters' home run production tends to be higher in August. My memory might be wrong, but I seem to remember Willie Mays being a more prodigious home run hitter in August and seem to remember Reggie Jackson first becoming famous because of a home run surge in August of 1969. It was in August of 1998 that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa stirred the excitement of baseball fans with their barrage of home runs.

But, for me, the reality of the dog days of August was only imaginary. Yes, I'd experienced some 100 degree days in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon; I'd even played some baseball in 100 degree heat. But I'd never experienced truly dog day heat.

On our trip we left Denver very early in the morning with the goal of spending the night in Blue Springs, Missouri.

As we made our way across Kansas, we were impervious to the building heat outside, thanks to air conditioning. We decided to make a stop in Ft. Hays, Kansas for some ice cream and to buy some personal items at Wal-Mart.

When I opened the side door for the kids to hop out, they nearly melted on the spot. They cried out infernal words and dragged themselves to the cool of the Wal-Mart.

I was astonished, too.

We loaded back into the van and made out way to Blue Springs. We passed the home park of the Kansas City Royals and remember thinking how fortunate these players were to be playing at night.

Then we pulled into the parking lot of a Howard Johnson's, near the Motel 6 where we'd reserved a room.

It was nearly 10 o'clock. It was dark. I expected a refreshing, cool night.

I jumped out of the van and gasped.

For air.

I thought I would drown.

I opened the side door of the van and Molly and Patrick once again let out infernal cries. They thought someone had just watered them down with a hot water fire hose.

The Deke was familiar with this kind of humidity from her youth, living in the Midwest.

The kids and I were astonished by the wet heavy blanketing heat.

Welcome to the dog days of summer.

From Blue Springs to Hendersonville to Bloomington, Indiana to the suburbs of Chicago, we experienced this quilt of heat.

I began to understand.

Dog days indeed.


Sibling Assignment #134: 500 Miles to Cd'A Lake or "We Gotta Do This Stuff While We Can"

InlandEmpireGirl gave the assignment this week. Three simple words: Coeur d'Alene Lake.

You can read Silver Valley Girl's post here and InlandEmpireGirl's here.

****
Ed always says to me, "We gotta do this stuff while we can. You never know when we all might get that phone call because one of us has gone."

Ed's right. We gotta do this stuff while we can.

This stuff has been a lot of stuff over the last ten years involving a variety of graduates from the KHS Class of '72: All-class reunion in 2000, again in 2010, 30 year reunion in 2002 (I didn't make it: Adrienne's wedding), celebrating turning 50 at Quinn Resort (I didn't make it: Molly got burned), celebrating 55 year birthdays at Lincoln City, a President's Day weekend at Diane's, a June get together in 2009, a Christmas time party at Sharon's, the reunion of the the classes of the early 70's in 2007, and there's more to come.

For a few years, Scott had his boat docked near the Cedars Floating Restaurant and a bunch of us classmates would jump on his boat and go out on Coeur d'Alene Lake.

Sometimes Scott could manage to get one of these afternoons on the lake going when I was up in Kellogg visiting, but one time a bunch of my friends were going to get together in early September and I'd already been to Kellogg to visit my mom and see family and friends.

Well, I thought of what Ed said, "We gotta do this stuff while we can. You never know when we all might get that phone call because one of us has gone."

Mostly I thought about the first sentence: "We gotta do this stuff while we can."

So, I had said to hell with it. I'm going to drive on Friday from Eugene to Kellogg so I can go on the boat ride on Saturday.

That's right.

I drove over 500 miles for a boat ride.

Nothing spectacular happened.

We got out in a spot away from other boaters and several people went swimming.

We told stories.

We laughed.

We went to the Carlin Bay resort for burgers and buckets of Derailers, a rum-based punch served with multiple long straws so several of us could share a bucket at one time.

The food was slow to come out.

It didn't matter.

The stories, the wise-ass remarks, the laughter, the looking back and looking ahead made the passing of time irrelevant.

So did the Derailers.

When we arrived back where Scott's boat rests on the other side of the lake, we all hugged or shook hands and went our separate ways.

Jake, Ed, Bruce, Scott and I thought it would be fun to come back to the boat in the winter and play some poker.

We did that.

We watched "The Wild Wild West" and "The Outer Limits" dvd's on a computer screen, some of us chewed tobacco, and in the back of our minds thought we gotta do this stuff while we can.

Scott's boat is on Pend Oreille Lake now. Unless he sold it. I can never keep it straight. There's no boat ride this summer.

But, there'll be a visit to see Mike Stafford as he recovers from cancer surgery; some of us will see each other at Thanksgiving, I hope; Christmas is up in the air; plans for another Lincoln City trip are in the works, test balloons are being floated.

After all, we gotta do this stuff while we can.




Three Beautiful Things: 09/05/10: Mara at Market of Choice, Mother and Daughter Separation/Reunion, Fried Apple and Pork

1. It was good run into Mara, a WR 122 student this past spring, at her soon to be former place of employment, Market of Choice, and learn that she is moving back to Denver where a job at a bakery awaits her.

2. Molly went to Vancouver, WA for the day and so Olivia experienced her first full day without Molly -- and, as important -- Molly experienced her first full day without Olivia. It all worked out well and it was fun to see the mother daughter reunion this evening.

3. I sat down and imagined what I'd like for dinner. I thawed small center cut pork steaks. I started to imagine apples and went online and found a very simple recipe for fried apples. Perfect. The fried apples combined with the pork steaks combined with basmati rice and white corn made a really good dinner. The electric frying pan was the smartest purchase I've ever made. I swear.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sibling Assignment #133: Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy

I assigned my sisters and me to write our thoughts about this: Remember the Sabbath. Keep it Holy.

InlandEmpireGirl's reflections are here and Silver Valley Girl's are here.

The Fourth Commandment is on my mind all the time, so it's not surprising that I woke up one morning with it running through my mind, and made this assignment.

Why is it on my mind so much? It's rooted in my struggles with clinical depression and to maintain good mental health.

I love my work. I love teaching, the subjects I teach, the students I work with, and the instructors I teach with. My work, however, has also been a source of my problems with mental illness.

Over the course of my career, I've been willing to work too hard. I've been willing to go beyond the call to duty, to do extra things for my students, be deeply involved in business related to the college and my department, eager to innovate, always raring to go. For this I've been praised, rewarded, and given an award.

I assumed that if I worked myself selflessly past the point of fatigue, then I was doing my job right and doing it well.

On top of this, I was willing to give a ton of energy at church. I served on the vestry, served on committees, was involved with education projects, preached sermons, and even hosted and administered a monthly lecture series.

For a job I love, a church I love, and for God, whom I love, I pushed myself past the point of fatigue. I lived out a classic case of being willing to run myself into the ground for the Lord. I ignored the Fourth Commandment. It rarely crossed my mind to obey it.

It never crossed my mind that in the same ways that adultery, stealing, worshiping idols, all firm Commandments, would damage my life, so would ignoring the Sabbath.

In November, 1999, I contracted a nearly fatal case of bacterial meningitis. In keeping with my overachieving-things-will-fall-apart-without-me delusions, I returned to work in January of 2000. Not even two months had passed since I'd been in a coma and suffered serious trauma to my physical and neurological system.

After my first week teaching in January 2000, I slept the entire weekend. It never crossed my mind that maybe I was stupid not to be on medical leave. I struggled with post-meningitis headaches, further fatigue, and depression, but acted like it was all normal and kept pushing forward.

Even though I went to church services, I did not in any way Keep the Sabbath. My life had no rest. Repeatedly, I fell into bed exhausted and I experienced plenty of comatose-like sleep, desperate sleep, but I did not rest. I kept no Sabbath.

By late 2004, I couldn't maintain this way of life any longer and began to crack: I began to suffer severe headaches, terrible mood swings, long periods in bed, isolation, high anxiety, even paranoia.

I had to slow down. I had to start integrating the spirit and practice of the Sabbath into my daily life, making refreshment as much a part of my daily routine as work.

Over the last six years, I've slowly begun to slow down. I'm willing to teach the same syllabus term after term and not pressure myself to innovate. I've worked to slow down in the classroom, trying to exert my energy more efficiently, not being quite as dramatic and wild as when I was younger. I've asked less of my students, thus asking less of myself.

I've let go of the idea that if a student doesn't learn all there is to learn about writing from me, they won't learn it.

I've let go of the idea that the courses I teach are the most important courses my students will take.

Having exaggerated the importance of my instruction and of my courses fatigued me, created unnecessary anxiety, and wore me down.

Exaggerating my importance violated the Sabbath.

Not only did I not Remember the Sabbath, I did not even think of keeping it Holy.

I'm finishing this blog post on Labor Day, and at this moment I think that of all the Ten Commandments, Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy is the most ignored and abused of all.

Americans work themselves into the ground and Americans work other Americans into the ground.

Imagine a social work case load of over one hundred high need aged people.

Imagine working six ten hour days a week driving truck for bosses who always complain and are on your back to get things moving faster.

Imagine having a middle management job in an multi-national accounting corporation where you are doing the job once done by three people.

Imagine being a administrative assistant to academic administrators who have basically turned over their high stress responsibilities to you, so that you are, de facto, running a huge academic apartment in a major university's department at the pay of staff person, not an administrator.

These are the situations of just four of my friends and the last thing on the mind of the institutions they work for is Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy.

These friends are being worked into the ground. It numbs the spirit. It engenders bitterness. It wears down the body.

It's the American way.

But not the way of the Fourth Commandment.

Slowly, surely, I've integrated the Sabbath into my daily life. I cherish refreshment.

Lately, my family and friends have been my best experience with the Sabbath.

I recently had my annual physical examination and the results were the best in many years.

I haven't dropped into the black hole of mental and emotional madness since about February of 2009.

Over the last two years I've enjoyed fun and restful times with family, including the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny (a family reunion); I've been involved with two merry reunions with friends I went to high school with; I meet friends from work every Thursday at Billy Mac's for dinner and drinks and largely non-work related conversation; Russell and I try to get out once a week to take photographs and have lunch; I'm in contact with many good friends, old and new, as well as my sisters and cousins through Facebook; Adrienne came to visit in May; Molly and Olivia are here now; Pat comes down every few weeks; I've slowly become active in church again without letting my church participation wear me out.

No wonder my exam at the doctor went so well.

In a way pointing to refreshment of my spirit and enlivening of my soul, God is present in all of this.

It's all Sabbath to me.

Remembering the Sabbath and Keeping it holy is a daily thing.

I relish it and it keeps me whole.






Three Beautiful Things: 09/04/10: Costco Fun, Frying Pan Debut, Saturday NCAA College Football

1. Aside from the gray-haired-pony-tailed-self-appointed hipster-wine snob-condescending know-it-all, people at Costco were having a good time, sampling buffalo wings, ham on a toothpick, quesadillas, fresh squeezed orange juice in a carton, and buying all kinds of food and home products to enjoy. I especially enjoyed this outing with Molly and Olivia as my shopping companions.

2. After having bought an electric frying pan on Thursday, I fixed my first meal with it today and it's one of my favorites: hamburger, bacon, potatoes, onion, Montreal steak seasoning, corn, string beans, tomatoes, topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Molly and the Deke enjoyed it and even Olivia had a scrap or two and was pleased.

3. On the first day of Saturday college football, two pleasures stand out: Jacksonville State's stunning come from behind double overtime win over Mississippi and BYU's defeat of the University of Washington. The Ducks' 72-0 win over New Mexico was such a dire mismatch that I didn't feel much pleasure in their win. By the way, I watched highlights of the Jacksonville State game and didn't at all consider it a win over Jeremiah Masoli -- Masoli engineered both of Ole Miss's overtime touchdown drives. Jacksonville State won that game with two miracle plays on offense, the touchdown on 4th and fifteen and the remarkable two point conversion to win the game.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Three Beautiful Things: 09/03/10: Visit with Ghandour, Surprise! Tina, Hammerhead Again

1. Not only did my annual physical exam with Dr. Ghandour result in a positive report on my current health, he and I had a good discussion of life in Lebanon (he just returned) and perceptions of Arabs and Palestinians in the U.S.A. I opened the door to this discussion by telling him how much I've been enjoying, over the past several years, watching movies made in Iran, Israel, Palestine, and other countries in that region.

2. It must have been the day for such discussions. Not long after leaving the doctor's office, I ran into Tina at Border's. Tina was a student of mine at the U of O twenty-five years ago and now she teaches in the Mass Communications department at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. I last saw Tina in 1999 and I was staggered with delight to see her again and learn a bit about her life.

3. Two pints of Hammerhead Ale: I hadn't had a Hammerhead since early 2009 and after taking care of some business at J. C. Penney, I dropped into the jam-packed North Bank McMenamin's and enjoyed a very slow arriving Captain Neon Burger and those tasty pints of ale.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Three Beautiful Things: 09/02/10: Electric Frying Pan, Hole in Wall Breakfast, Billy Mac's Salon

1. While I was at Mom's, I ate a bunch of good dinners she fixed with her electric frying pan, so I decided I'd buy one in Eugene and the capstone experience of my day was going to True Value Hardware (my favorite store in Eugene) and buying one. I also picked up a hot pot and a set of measuring cups. I very, very rarely buy stuff so when I do it makes me kind of giddy.

2. I enjoyed a long, slow, leisurely breakfast over the morning paper at Hole in the Wall BBQ in Springfield: two eggs, hash browns, hot links, flapjacks, and black coffee.

3. A refreshing iced tea and a Ceasar's salad at Billy Mac's added pleasure to the robust conversations about TED.com, teaching literature, the cultural backgrounds of our students (and what we experienced growing up), and non-fiction.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/10: Catch Up, Good Friends, Guy Clark Session

1. I wrote all day today getting caught up on Three Beautiful Things from August 2 until today. I had good notes to work from about each day and I enjoyed getting caught up on this project.

2. Posting these Three Beautiful Things as well as posting photos from the get together at Bridgit's mom and dad's house led to some wonderful correspondence online and a couple very good chats. I can't list all the people I heard from today, but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from all of you.

3. I wanted to illustrate having seen "Heartworn Highways" with some clips from the movie and that led me to an emotional 20-30 minutes on YouTube listening to Guy Clark sing and watching him play. He's my favorite young guy in "Heartworn Highways" and I enjoy him even more as a seasoned adult, closing in on 70 years old.

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/10: "Rockford Files", Caring for Olivia, Hamburger Dinner

1. For the fun of it, I watched an episode of the "Rockford Files" this morning and marveled, as I always have, at the ease of James Garner. It was a great show and his effortless appearing acting is at the heart of what makes the show so terrific.

2. I served as my granddaughter Olivia's babysitter for about three hours this afternoon. It's the first time I've ever done such a thing! Olivia was supposed to nap for a good length of time, but she woke up within ten minutes of Molly departing. So, I brought Olivia upstairs and fed her, read books with her, watched some Popeye on YouTube, played with toys on the floor, helped her walk around the house. We had a good time and she was happy. I also took a lot of photographs of her in her high chair. Here's an example of one:


3. I drew upon some cooking tips I picked up from about four minutes of watching Rachel Ray and Shaquille O'Neal cook burgers and fixed the Deke and Molly some hamburger mixed with eggs, sauteed onion, Worsteshire sauce, and garlic powder, made paddies, fried them up, and made some corn. It was simple, but from the sounds of their groans of pleasure, the Deke and Molly were pleased with the simple meal I prepared this evening.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 08/30/10: Slow Day, Cape Cod Stories, Yi-Shen Lunch

1. It was a slow day of recovery from all the emotion of the weekend. I was tired, from exhilaration, from being with people I've known for much of my life and since we have so little time with each other, we jam short times full with conversation, laughter, music, mirth, and support for each other and, in the best way possible, it left me tired today.

2. I had a wonderful conversation with Anne and Russell about their trip to Cape Cod and about Russell's photographs and Anne's family. It was really fun to hear how it all went and to discuss Russell's remarkable work.

3. Russell and I went to Yi-Shen for lunch. On a day chilled by the rain I was so happy to see, Yi-Shen's food was perfect.

Three Beautiful Things 08/29/10: Brunch, Airport Trip, Sweet Exhaustion

1. With ease and good cheer we, the good friends Westminster Basement, resumed our conversation this morning and it became clear we didn't want to interrupt ourselves and leave to go out for breakfast, so Bridgit and Linda pulled out the leftover potato salad and pasta salad and salmon and we had a wonderful brunch and continued to talk about life and forgiveness and relationships and what in life endures. We listened, we laughed; there were tears; things remained light even as the subject matter got deeper, got heavy. Only the clock disbanded us. I could really feel the strength of Wordsworth's words: The world is too much with us. I wanted the world and its schedules and demands to evaporate.

2. Susan-Louise and I continued talking about the subjects we'd been discussing with our friends. I enjoyed our conversation a lot and look forward to when we can all find a way to get together again.

3. I fell into a deep sleep this evening, sweetly exhausted by so much good time spent with such wonderful friends, first Diane and Eric, and then Bridgit, Susan-Louise, Gerry, Linda, Bill, and Diane. The youth of today have a great word for what I experienced: epic.

Three Beautiful Things 08/28/10: Susan-Louise at the Airport, Meeting Diane, Long Talk

1. The day started off beautifully. After a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, potatoes, and strong coffee, it was off to the airport to pick up Susan-Louise whom I hadn't seen for twenty-seven years, since I was a teacher of hers at Whitworth College. Susan-Louise and I fell right into it and had great conversation on our way to Bridgit's mom and dad's house on the Kalama River, down Lacy Lane, for our Westminster Basement get together.

2. Upon our arrival, I greeted Bridgit and started to get to know her parents, Gerry and Linda, and our conversation was really fun. We were waiting for Bill and Diane to arrive and when they did another shot of enthusiasm and joy coursed through us all. We reunited with Bill and got to meet Diane and within minutes we were all talking with each other as if it had been 20 minutes, not over twenty years since we'd seen each other and it felt like those of us who went to Whitworth had known Diane forever.

3. I sat up visiting with Bridgit and her parents and when I went to the guest house, I was surprised that Susan-Louise was still awake, sitting in the living room, drinking a glass of wine and reading. We got to talking again and it was 2 a.m. before we went our separate ways and went to sleep. It was fun as well as satisfying to end a day of so much great conversation with another great conversation.

Three Beautiful Things 08/27/10: Cocktails, Tenderloin, Magic

1. Upon arriving at Diane's, I hugged Diane and Eric and met Marc and then when asked if I wanted a glass of wine, I asked if there was any gin in the house and suddenly the room exploded with enthusiasm and Diane and I went to the liquor store for a fifth of Tanqueray and to the grocery store for Schwepp's tonic, as ordered by Eric, and it was back to Diane's house and the pleasure of superb cocktails and superb conversation with good friends was underway. Honestly, I thought I was being kind of demanding when I asked for cocktails and was ecstatic when everyone was into it and the trip to both stores was so easy.

2. Diane served up a tenderloin she found at a cut rate price at Winco that was heavenly.

3. Whether it was something silly like "Magnet and Steel" or rocking like "Whole Lotta Love" or classic like "Layla" or just plain solid like "Man on the Moon", the deeper into the night we progressed, the more perfect the playlist Diane composed for the Class of '72 became. It was magic.

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/10: Snug Groove, Billy Mac Amber Groove, Russell Snaps Pix

1. I'm back in the morning walk with Snug groove. I think he really likes having me home so he can have his morning walks again.

2. I also returned to the Billy Mac groove tonight and enjoyed Molly and Olivia's company along with Pam, Russell, Anne, and Allie. I don't remember the last time I drank a pint of amber and the one I enjoyed tonight gave me deep pleasure.

3. Russell took some superb black and white photos of Olivia and Molly at Billy Mac's. Here's an example:

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/10: Morning Drive to Eugene, Reunion with Olivia, State of Play Conclusion

1. I did as I hoped I'd push myself to do: I departed from Kellogg at 4 a.m. and never suffered any difficult heat anywhere in my air conditioner-less Honda. I enjoyed driving in the early morning, regular morning, late morning, and early afternoon.

2. My granddaughter Olivia and her mother Molly are at the house in Eugene until about the end of September and today I began to try to do things Olivia might enjoy and laugh at. Today's action: march in place in front of Olivia while she sits in her high chair or is being held by an adult. I try to touch my knees to my chest. Not only does Olivia think it's a funny thing to do, so do Molly and the Deke.

3. I arrived home and the last three episodes of the BBC's "The State of Play" were waiting for me and I loved it! Polly Walker didn't disappoint either. Her character was just the right blend of a woman longing for companionship outside her marriage but wanting to save her marriage and fierce, intelligent independence. Brilliant mini-series. Here she is about to further her affair with her husband's former campaign manager:

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/10: Heat, Poker, Packing

1. I underestimated how hot it was going to be from the Tri-Cities to Kellogg so I stayed in Kellogg an extra day so I could drive in cooler conditions by leaving Wednesday morning at around 4 a.m.

2. Staying in Kellogg meant watching more second round action from the WSOP Main Event.

3. My stuff was in good shape and easy to organize and pack for the trip home.

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/10: Car Fixed, The Syrian Bride, Weddings in World Lit.

1. Car fixed! And it was not expensive! Darrell at Reco's figured out the electrical problem that needed repair and Robin made a trip from his shop down to Reco's Auto Repair to replace the mirror. Then Robin didn't want to take a credit card and told me just to send him a check when I got to Eugene. Great service all the way around in Kellogg for getting my car back on the road.

2. Of all the Middle East movies I've watched this summer, I watched the most compelling one today: "The Syrian Bride". Hiam Abbass was superb again and this movie intersected a variety of plot lines, each exploring a different dimension of the complex situation in the Golan Heights.

3. Watching "The Syrian Bride" inspired the idea in me that I might focus on wedding movies as a part of my World Lit. syllabus next spring. Weddings, in movies, are always a vehicle for exploring all kinds of things because so many different kinds of people with so many different points of view converge when a couple gets married and this happens in a variety of international movies appropriate to the World Lit course.

Three Beautiful Things 08/22/10: Dog Experiment, Great Lunch, Fun Dinner

1. Christy and Everett arrived in Kellogg and for the first time, did not bring their dogs. They decided to experiment and see how the dogs would do overnight in the house on their own with plenty of food and water available. Turns out, it worked!

2. Upon their arrival, Mom put out a huge spread of 1000 pieces of cold chicken and a huge bowl of pasta salad and we had a great lunch. I was glad, as we ate, that the Melodrama is fast-paced and funny because I think I would have fallen asleep during the play after such a lunch.

3. Mom and I met Christy and Everett, Carol's family, Pat and Burt, and Gary and Mary Damiano for dinner at the Jameson Hotel in Wallace. The company, the conversation, the laughter, the good cheer at the table was really fun. The food? Terrible.

Three Beautiful Things 08/21/10: Pinehurst Days!, Seeing Dave,Out of the Blue Worley Trip

1. Pinehurst Days! Parade, burgers, classic cars, ice cream and good feelings up and down the main street of Pinehurst.

2. It was great to see Dave Etherton again. I only see him about every ten years and he's a great guy, a classmate I've always enjoyed.

3. Out of the blue, I mean out of the blue, Ed called and offered me a trip to Worley and we went down, played for a couple of hours, had no luck whatsoever, but enjoyed each other's company on the drive down and back.

Three Beautiful Things 08/20/10: Minor Car Woes, Car Woes Means Good News, Fried Chicken

1. I took the car to Reco's, but bad luck: the mirror that arrived didn't fit. I went to Reco's Auto Repair to get my speedometer, odometer, gas gauge, etc working again, and bad luck: they were too stacked up to look at my car. But, I trust all will be well and going to Reco's Auto Repair meant seeing its proprietor, Randy Smith, whom I didn't recognize, but who was my tentmate at the 1969 National Boy Scout Jamboree. It was great to see him and to be putting my car under the care of his garage.

2. Not being able to get my car fixed means I'll be home for Pinehurst Days, a big plus, and I'll be home on Sunday when Christy and Everett come to Kellogg, a huge plus.

3. To prepare for Christy and Everett's visit, Mom fried about 1,000 pieces of chicken and we had a great dinner, barely making a dent in all the chicken Mom fixed.

Three Beautiful Things 08/19/10: Breakfast Dinner, Mullikin Fun, NCIS

1. Mom fixed one of my favorites today: breakfast dinner. Sausage, eggs, and waffles.

2. Carol reports: Lyle and Lura had a great time in the Silver Valley. I couldn't be happier.

3. The more I watch NCIS, the more I enjoy the cast and less I care about the story of each episode. I love this show.

Three Beautiful Things 08/18/10: Lemon Tree, Satin Rouge, Reco's

Hiam Abass

1. I deeply enjoyed the movie "Lemon Tree" and was especially taken by the soulful, powerful work of Hiam Abbass, the Palestinian woman doing all she can to protect the lemon grove that has been in her family for many years.

2. One powerful performance by Hiam Abbass deserves another: she is sexy and powerful in "Satin Rouge" as her character finds liberation from the grip of widowhood and grief through belly dancing.

3. My sideview mirror must be replaced before I'm willing to drive back to Kellogg and Robin Aga at Reco's got the ball rolling toward this end.

Three Beautiful Things 08/17/10: Lura and Lyle Feast, The Office, Cosette Brings Tears

1. Lura and Lyle arrived early in the afternoon and they and Mom and I went to the Silver Spoon for a huge meal. I had the Patty Melt with about150 French fries and won't have to eat again for a week. We had a great time and lingered at our table long after we had finished eating just talking away.

2. Reruns of "The Office" were showing on TBS and I laughed and squirmed my way through four episodes.

3. I had fun joking with Cosette that Lura and Lyle would be reduced to tears because of the beauty of Mom's lawn, thanks to the great job Cosette did mowing it.

Three Beautiful Things 08/16/10: BBC "State of Play", Polly Walker, Great Dinner

1. When I was recovering from c-diff and pneumonia, I went to the multi-plex and saw Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams and Helen Mirren in an entertaining political and journalism thriller "State of Play". Now I started watching the BBC mini-series that the movie was derived from and it's stunningly good.

2. The BBC "State of Play" features Polly Walker as the disgraced MP's wife and with some effort I figured out that she was the youngest woman in "Enchanted April" at the Italian castle where the women of the movie go to get away from things. I thought she was terrific in "Enchanted April", but now, as a middle-aged woman in "State of Play" her depth and beauty as a character and an actress far surpass her work in the earlier movie. I'm enjoying her a lot.

3. Mom's sweet and sour boneless spare ribs with corn on the cob and white rice had me back at the stove helping myself to second servings.

Three Beautiful Things 08/15/10: Hairspray, Boston Iced Tea, Leverage

1. Mom and I went to Cd'A to see Hairspray and it energized me, uplifted me, and thoroughly entertained me. I had a great time.

2. Mom and I ate at Red Lobster. It was my first visit to this restaurant. The food was pretty good, but what I enjoyed the most was my bottomless glass of Boston Iced Tea. I didn't know what it was and when the server told me it was iced tea mixed with cranberry juice, I was ready to enjoy it and I did.

3. Ever since I first saw it advertised a few years ago on TNT, I've been wanting to watch "Leverage". Tonight I did and I enjoyed it. In fact, I wanted the episode to be extended from a one hour (minus ad time) episode to a full length movie as Timothy Hutton's crew of grifters and hackers and thieves work to take government money from a corrupt coal mine owner and put it back in the hands of those who want to put it to its rightful purpose: mine safety.

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/10: Carol Lee and Jake Getting Married, Life Passes Before My Eyes, Riding to the Casino

1. Jake and Carol Lee's wedding was a simple and gorgeous ceremony, highlighted by Jake taking the microphone and singing to Carol Lee. He blew the congregation away.

2. The wedding and reception made my life pass before my eyes: Roger Fulton, Maxine Milot, Jim and Sue Bachmier, Dave (Dersky) and Debbie Holland, the Turnbows, and many others were all together at the wedding and the reception and I had the deepest of feeling of being home and belonging right where I was.

3. Ed and I went down to Worley to try our luck at the casino. We ended up not having much luck, at all, but, as always, going to the casino isn't about playing machines. It's about getting the world and all that's in it straightened out with Ed. We did a great job of that.

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/10: Silver Valley Tour, BBQ at Joni's, Baritone Connection

1. A great Silver Valley tour day with Terri and Bev: breakfast at the 1313, a drive to Kellogg with stops at the Sunshine Fire memorial and at the mine itself, a tour of the old Bunker Hill grounds, a visit with Mom, and then a drive up the river and refreshments at the Prichard Tavern.

2. Joni hosted a superb BBQ on the eve of Jake and Carol's wedding. Their home, perched on Riverview Drive, was the perfect setting for an evening of laughs, stories, great food, and incomparable company.

3. Landon, Joni's grandson, and I hit it off when we learned we both play the baritone horn.

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/10: "Rails and Ties", Melodrama Hit, Drinks at Albi's

1. I read at Netflix or somewhere that "Ties and Rails" was Clint Eastwood's daughter, directorial debut. That got my attention since I love Clint Eastwood's direction of movies. Then I saw that the movie feature two of my favorite performers: Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden. It's one of those movies that the critics on Rotten Tomatoes excoriate and that I enjoyed, found myself moved by, and enjoyed a lot. I think I enjoyed Bacon, Harden, and the kid so much that the problems with the story itself melted away for me and I gave myself over to the situation and was moved.

2. MIWW and I met Terri and Bev at the 6th Street Melodrama and thoroughly enjoyed Paul and Carol's direction of Paul's play, "Rustlers at the Ranch or How Fast Can the Taylors Run". I was laughing or smiling from beginning to end and found the Kelly's Revue a lot of fun and, at times, affecting.

3. MIWW, Bev, and Terri and I went to Albi's after the play for a drink and I loved seeing Bev and Terri in a whole different context and completely enjoyed how much they and Mom enjoyed one another's company.

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/10: Shoppin' with MIWW, Tomato Street Spaghetti, Heartworn Highways

1. Mom and I made a shopping/shoe fixin' trip to Coeur d'Alene. Our only failure was not finding a floor lamp just yet, but Mom did find new shoes and a new purse and got the lifts she needed put in those shoes.

2. I had gone to Tomato Street in Spokane quite a few years ago and remember not being that impressed. Well, something changed. Either I changed or Tomato Street did. Mom and I had a very good lunch and the service, especially our waitress, was friendly and fun (without being idioitic).

3. I watched the 1976 documentary movie, "Heartworn Highways", which chronicles the emergence of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Steve Young and other roots country singer songwriters. Here's the movie's ending, filmed at Guy and Suzanna Clark's house on Christmas Eve, about 1974 or '75 as this party moves from country to "Silent Night" and the movie's splendid credits roll:

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/10: "Happy Accidents", Heavy Gypped Dickie, "Voices of the Burn"

1. I wanted to watch Vincent D'Onofrio in a movie and I always admire Marisa Tomei's work, so I watched an obscure movie of theirs, "Happy Accidents". I had a funny experience with this movie. I was not intrigued at all by the time travel premise of the story, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching D'Onofrio and especially Tomei work. Every time I see Marisa Tomei in a movie, her acting drops my jaw.

2. Dickie dropped by Mom's house and among the funny stories he told was the one when he bought an $800 diamond from Heavy uptown in Kellogg and it turned out to be fake.

3. Mom and I went to see Carol and Paul perform "Voices of the Burn" and we learned, through the various first-person accounts, the horrors people endured when the 1910 fire roared through western Montana and North Idaho -- and parts of Canada.