Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/25/11: Quiet, Dinner, Kids on Skype

1.  Christmas Day is very low key around this household.  I enjoyed the quiet morning, doing a little writing, keeping an eye on basketball games, drinking some coffee, making some bacon and eggs for everyone, and  gabbing.

2.  I fulfilled my charge to cook Christmas Day dinner:  beef roast rubbed with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme, roasted in the Dutch oven in a puddle of Firestone Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout with Brussel sprouts, onions, baby Yukon potatoes, and mushrooms.  The Deke made the gravy.  It all came out just right:  everyone was satisfied.

3.  We didn't have any children around for Christmas, but thanks to Skype we got to peer through a virtual window and see how Jack, Olivia, and David were doing on Christmas Day.  That livened up things a bit here during old people's Christmas Day!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/24/11: Saturday Breakfast, Market of Choice, St. Mary's Worship

1.  Everything worked great.  The kitchen staff worked well together getting eggs cracked and scrambled and cooked, vegetables ready, fruit bowls prepared, bacon, sausage, ham, and potatoes heated up, bread toasted and buttered, oatmeal, grits, mashed potatoes, and gravy fixed, orange juice ready, and everything else.  The dining room crew got all the tables set up and the food stations in place.  Hungry men and women were lined up down the stairs and out the door and we fed nearly two hundred fifty people of all ages and mental and physical conditions a full breakfast again this Saturday. 

2.  The atmosphere at Market of Choice crackled with good cheer at the butcher counter, the produce area, up and down the food aisles, and at the checkout stands.  It made shopping for Christmas dinner even more fun.

3.  Amy approached me a while back with questions about St. Mary's Episcopal Church and decided that Christmas Eve would be a fitting evening to visit and worship.  We met at the 9:00 service.  It was dignified and full of beauty.  Afterward, Amy and stood on the 13th Avenue porch of St. Mary's and enjoyed a long talk together about the church and worship and a complex of other related things.  It was a wonderful way to enjoy the eve of Christmas Day.  I then returned to the inside of the church for the Solemn High Eucharist at 11 and enjoyed reading the Old Testament lesson, Isaiah 9:2-7. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/23/11: Writing, Sorting, Eating

1.  I felt good to sit down to the task of writing out my impressions and thoughts about the interment of Mike and June.

2.  It also felt good to sit down and go through my photographs from Armitage Park, to do some minor editing and put some of them up for people to see.

3.  It really felt good to go to the Pendleton's house and enjoy a scrumptious steak dinner with salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, and cookies for dessert. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Putting Mike and June to Rest

On Wednesday, December 21st, I arrived back in Eugene around 6:45 to be with the Deke on her birthday.  I walked into the Trox's house and there, around the Trox's oval dining table, sat the Deke, knitting, Samantha, also knitting, Marla (Mrs. Troxstar), and Allison, the third knitter, the oldest Troxlet, as well as Emily, the youngest.  Evan, the middle Troxlet, came to the table later. 

Randy had briefly disappeared into the garage to his kegerator to pour me a pint from the keg of Bayern Pilsener he had purchased, with Emily Sauter's help, that morning. 

Randy handed me my beer, took his place at the table, and the conversations, wise cracks, story telling, and knitting instruction continued and we waited and waited and waited for the pizza to arrive.

As we talked, laughed, and entertained each other with our scintillating wit, I wondered to myself if one day Samantha or Allison or Evan or Emily might be sitting at another table at another house and if they might remember back to when they sat at the Trox table or the table at our house and, looking back, say to each other:  "You know, Randy and Marla and Bill and the Deke were kind of weird, but they sure taught us a lot about friendship and loyalty and generosity and enjoying friends."

This thought went through my mind because just a few hours earlier I'd been sitting at the Turner family dining table with Terry and Nancy and Sharann and Sarah and Jackie.  We had just returned from the Willamette National Cemetery.

At the cemetery, the six of us stood in a crescent near the hole that had been dug for the interment of Mike and June's ashes.  After being escorted to the burial spot, J. T., the guy in charge, handed Terry his parents' remains and Terry kneeled and reverently placed Mike and June in one another's company again, to rest in peace. 
We waited silently while the hole was filled and then J. T. assured us that he and the two guys were leaving and that we would now have some time to ourselves to do whatever we wanted to pay our respects to Mike and June.

And we did.

We paid our respects to Mike and June as parents who made due with whatever money they had, who could be depended on to support and provide for their children, and who were honest and straightforward.

We paid our respects to Mike and June for all they did in their friendships with people up and down the Silver Valley to teach us how to be good friends, to be loyal, to be generous, and, above all, to enjoy people:  to gab, laugh, drink, tell stories, and, if you go to Winchell's to buy a dozen doughnuts or walk into a small town bar while out fishing, when you leave that place the strangers you shot the shit with think you'd been best friends forever.

We paid our respects to Mike and June's balancing act.  Mike was the king of bullshit.  June was the queen of strength.  Mike had harebrained ideas:  he wanted to buy a bowling alley in Colville or take over the Osburn Club or find some other way to be an entrepreneur.  June held down the fort and managed to keep Mike from leaving his work as the best damn Bogey bread truck driver ever, to keep things anchored and steady, to help guide her Nampa born daughter-in-law, Nancy, through the boisterous ways of the Silver Valley.    June was the queen of strength.  

Once back to Terry and Nancy's house, we sat down to a meal of chicken soup and skillet cornbread, each got a drink, and continued to talk about Mike and June and the Silver Valley, hooking back to conversations begun in the car and moving on to new threads.

I felt like a salmon, swimming back to the pools of where I'm from.

While the main channel of our dining table conversation was the river of Mike and June, we also darted up many tributaries.  These tributaries were the names of the families:  the Rinaldis, Yerglers, Tusons, Biottis, Costas, Haddocks, not to mention the names of individuals like Troy Turley, Roger Lyons, Karen Ladd, Tommy Brainard, and many others; each name for me was a new set of memories, each could have been a new set of stories, and each memory and each story, whether told or untold, whether about the Sunshine Mine fire, the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant, the Happy Landing, Dick and Floyd's, the B & M Cafe, Lincoln School, or the lights at Teeter's Field, all took me back to places where I learned and the people who taught me how to be a friend, how to enjoy people, how to (hopefully) be a person others can trust.

After couple of the Troxstar's pilseners, a few slices of pizza, and huge slice of marionberry pie, I had to get home.

It had been a full day and I needed to take my mind full of memories, my heart full of love, and my belly full of good food and drink to bed, happy with all I learned from Mike and June and from all those people in Kellogg about how to enjoy friends, happy that I'd enjoyed a day rich with friends, and hopeful that this enjoyment will carry forward, not only in the brief span of my life, but well beyond. 

Mike and June:  the enjoyment you taught us carried on well beyond your time together in this world. 

I'm grateful. 

Three Beautiful Things 12/22/11: Pictures at Armitage Park, North Bank Forum, Hockley Salon

1.  The crisp, blue late morning and early afternoon made for a perfect picture taking outing to Lane County's Armitage Park.  I'll post some of my pictures later.

2.  Skye and Melanie and I had batted around the idea of getting together some time for a beer or two, and today it happened.  We met at the North Bank.   Time flew by.  For starters, I really enjoyed having a couple of those memory drenched Rubinators (ah, mmm, Edgefield), two pints of Ruby Ale mixed with Terminator Stout.  Our conversations about family, photography, smoking cigs, politics, boxing, school, religion, and a host of other things was scintillating and I was sorry that I had a pending engagement that broke up our time together. 

3.  The Hockleys invited the Adult Education Committee to their home for a dinner to honor Carolyn Gate's years of service on the committee and her work as our committee chair.  The dinner was superb:  chicken, green beans, roasted root vegetables, salad, bread, wine, apple crisp, and tea.  Even better was our far-ranging conversations about everything from hip replacements to movies to the world of education to driving in New Zealand.

I don't know if you've noticed, but this makes four great around the table conversations in the last two days.  It's invigorating.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/21/11: The Interment, The Turner Table, The Troxstar Table

1.  The ashes of Mike and June Turner were interred this afternoon shortly after 2:30 p.m. at the Williamette National Cemetery.  Nancy, Sharann, Sarah, Jackie, and I watched as Terry placed his mom and dad's ashes in their respective containers in the ground, watched as the guys working there covered them up, and then we spent about fifteen minutes talking about what Mike and June meant to us and told some stories.  It was a perfect way to bring Mike and June back together again, with silence, reverence, tears, and laughter.  I think we all agreed that before the phrase, "keeping it real" existed, Mike and June always kept it real.  We all loved that with Mike and June, what you saw was what you got.

2.  Terry, Nancy, Sharann, Sarah, Jackie, and I sat down around Terry and Nancy's dining table.  Nancy and Terry didn't know that they would keep my soup a day string alive, but they did!  We ate delicious chicken soup and skillet cornbread.  I enjoyed a beer and a splash of fine brandy distilled in Portland and we continued our conversations about Mike and June and their history and talked and talked about life in the Silver Valley.  I was divided.  I wanted to be back in Eugene for the Deke's birthday, but I didn't want this time at the table to end.  I left, though, warmed by all the great stories about Mike and June and all the digging back into Kellogg/Smelterville/Wallace life.

3.  Back in Eugene, I drove straight to the Troxstar's house and once again I sat down with family and friends around a dining table and whole new set of stories and conversation.  The Troxstar served me a couple of refreshing pints from his new keg of Bayern Pilsener, from the only German microbrewery in the Rockies for over 20 years, located in Missoula.  Pizza arrived.  We had a marionberry birthday pie from Sweet Life.  I left full of beer and food and exhausted from such a full day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/20/11: Won Ton Soup, Photo Sites, Gravy

1.  I kept my string of soup days alive.  Today I devoured a hearty bowl of Won Ton soup at Yi Shen.

2.  I took pictures for a short while at two locations I've had my eye on for a while.  The first was the back of the parts store to the north of Yi Shen.  The second was a section of railroad track with weeds growing out of the track bed that crosses McKinley across from the Market of Choice warehouse.  Here are two of the pictures:

3.  The accomplishment I was most proud of tonight, having roasted potatoes, onions, and mushrooms to go with the sirloin steaks I fried, was the gravy I made.  I might be getting the hang of making gravy.

Post #2000: Remembering Mike and June

I started this blog back on October 1, 2006.

I began with a post telling how Kellogg is my Paris and, earlier today, I published my 1999th post by telling about three beautiful things that occurred yesterday.

For a while now, my blog has been almost exclusively a Three Beautiful Things blog, one of many in the world of blogging.

I never intended my blog to go in such an exclusive direction, but I wanted to keep this blog going on a nearly daily basis (my success has been spotty) and for reasons I can't really explain, I ran out of steam writing the kinds of short essays I wrote for quite a while here at kellogg bloggin'. The 3BTs have kept me going.

For this 2000th post, though, I'm going to return to the kind of writing I used to do and enjoy the most.

Tomorrow morning, I'm driving up to Gladstone, OR to meet with Terry Turner and his family.  They've invited me to accompany them to Willamette National Cemetery for the burial of Terry's Mom and Dad, Mike and June Turner.  Mike died in August of 1998 and June died a little over a month ago.

First, a confession:  I have never stopped feeling bad for twice damaging property of Mike's and June's.  The first was was in the Turner living room in Smelterville when Terry and Scott and I wanted to see if we could touch our elbows to the ceiling.

I got too excited about this, and unlike Scott and Terry who lightly touched the ceiling with their elbows, I put a dent in the soft ceiling tile with mine.  Terry's explanation to Mike and June that he hit the ceiling with a ski didn't work.
I got too excited another time.  It was in the Turner camper.  Terry was driving some of us to the St. Rita's playground to play touch football and for some unknown reason, I started pounding on the glass between the camper and the driver's cab.

Scott probably remembers the stupid reason I had for wanting Terry's attention.  I thought I was being hilarious and in my high pitch of excitement I broke the glass.

I'll always feel bad for having done both things, and no matter how often I'm told the damages were minor and that I need to forget this stuff, I don't.

I still feel bad.

I probably still feel bad because Mike and June Turner were so good, not only to me, but to my parents and to Terry's friends.

Dad and Mike bowled together.  I think I remember June keeping score.  They drank at Dick and Floyd's together.  June was often there, too.  When I think of Mike and June and my dad, I think of all the stuff I love about being from Kellogg:  bullshit, Mike and Dad giving each other and everyone around them shit, laughing, arguing, making expert commentary on every sport.

It's what I learned it meant to be good friends.

To this day, it's what happens between me and my best friends:  we drink, bullshit, give each other shit, laugh, hash things out, and act like experts on sports whether we know anything or not.

Now, here it is, December 20th, Christmastime, and I'm thinking about Mike and June Turner.

They were what Christmas was all about for me, growing up in Kellogg.  Every Christmas morning, Mike and June went visiting and they always came to our house.  Dad loved having people come over on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and he had always bought an ample supply of beer and booze and was ready to mix a Tom and Jerry on the spot.

"Merry Christmas, you fat son of bitch!"

Ahh.  I knew it was really Christmas.

Mike had arrived.

Roar of laughter.

"Merry Christmas, and get your sad skinny ass in here."

Hearty handshakes.

A kiss for June.

Then Dad always performed his rabbit out of a hat trick and had drinks in their hands in a split second.

If Terry was along, Dad always said the same thing, "Well, Jesus Christ.  MARY!  We got any milk?  Ah, shit, kid, just go hang on the refrigerator door.  Jesus Christ, Mike, don't you feed that kid?"

"Hell, no, I don't feed him!  I send him over here."

"That's for goddamned sure.  MARY!  Get out the turkey!  Make the kid a sandwich. He hasn't eaten for fifteen minutes!"

More laughter.

And the bullshit continued.

Underneath the bullshit was loyalty and trust.

Mike and June trusted my mom and dad and my mom and dad trusted them with the care of their boys.

Mike and June and Terry invited me on NCAA men's basketball trips to Seattle and Los Angeles and when they went away on trips when Terry couldn't go, Terry stayed at our house.

Underneath the bullshit was generosity and care, too.

Mike and June were generous with their home.  There were nights, as my friends and I got a little older, when Mike and June provided a safe port when there'd been too much drinking or let a bunch of us take over the kitchen and dining area and do our drinking under their roof and we had a place to sleep it off.

If I'd known better, I guess I would have seen it all when I was eight years old.  Mike was the coach of one of the Farm League baseball teams.  I'll say it was the Elks team, but I don't really know.

Mike's job was delivering bread.  He delivered Bogey's (or was it Bogie's) bread.  Before a game with the Elks team, we players on other teams would trickle to the game, some on bikes, others in their family's car.

The field we played on was on the old airport and it was largely undeveloped.  The road leading to the ballfield wasn't even paved.

So while the Elks team's opponents arrived, I remember parents wondering where out opponents were.

Then, off to the east, a cloud of dust moved toward the field.  Inside the dust was Mike's Bogey Bread truck.  He pulled it up near the field, opened the back, and out filed his team, having come to play ball in the company of hamburger buns and loafs of sliced bread.

It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. 

With Mike, there was a lot of bullshit, but underneath it was generosity, loyalty, trust, and trustworthiness.

With June, there wasn't so much bullshit. She was alive with generosity, loyalty, trust, and trustworthiness.

Tomorrow, they'll be put to rest.

Three Beautiful Things 12/19/11: Soup, Physical Shopping, Diane Chambers at Sixteen Tons

1.  I've been warming myself with daily soup and today enjoyed a bowl of beef short rib soup at the Korea House. 

2.  I decided to do my gift buying for my sisters and their husbands in Eugene and had got in some good walking, going downtown and to the University area.  I liked perusing, taking things off the shelf.  I liked handling the gifts I bought.  I liked going from store to store.  The walking was good.  So was the soup.  Virtual shopping can be good, but I liked getting physical today.

3.  The Troxstar and I met for a couple honest pints at Sixteen Tons.  The witty and lovely and charming Diane Chambers, played by Emily, kept us entertained with her intellectual prowess (her recitation of Marvell's "The Garden" was very impressive), jazz music,  and her innocent lack of street smarts.  The highlight of tonight's visit, however, was the superb black and tan Diane made for me with Guiness Extra Stout and  Hop Valley Golden Road. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Picture Gallery

Here are some pictures I've taken over the last week.   If you'd like to see more, go here and click around.

Three Beautiful Things 12/18/11: Shoes, Isaiah 9:2-7, Tasty Ales

1.  I am really bad about buying myself new shoes (or new anything to wear).  The everyday shoes I've been wearing for the last couple of years are a wreck:  the soles are coming apart from the shoe, the surface is peeling -- in short, they look awful.  The Deke delivered me from my bad shoe state today and bought me a pair of black shoes.  I never would have bought them for myself.  They are too good.  I'm grateful to have such a solid pair of shoes. 

2.  I enjoyed reading Isaiah 9:2-7 at this evening's Service of Lessons and Carols at St. Mary's.  The most memorable part of this passage (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) is sung in Handel's The Messiah and it's fun to read these words aloud and try to give them a life of their own, unique from the way they are sung in The Messiah

3.  The Deke met the Troxstar (who read like a Troxstar from Micah at the Service of Lessons and Carols) and me at Sixteen Tons after the service and we had a great time gabbing, entertaining each other, laughing, and, when appropriate, sharing some somber moments.   Sixteen Tons was pretty quiet, the beer was really good, and we drank exactly the right amount before returning home to continue our evening.  I enjoyed half pints of Dogfish Head Namaste, a scrumptious, refreshing Belgian-style White made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, of Flat Tail De La Rose, and, also from Flat Tail, and fermented in the same barrels with the same trappist sake yeast blend as the De La Rose and re-fermented with baked green apples and cinnamon bark, a half pint of Mama Duncan Apple Beer, a most refreshing topper.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/17/11: Beef Curry Soup, Photo Strolls, Yi Shen and Sixteen Tons

1.  Not only did I enjoy the Beef Curry soup at Maple Garden, but I was tickled when the woman working the cash register commented on my Nikon camera, told me about her own, and happily answered my questions about the kinds of pictures she likes to take. 

2.  I had a fun day taking pictures.  Here are two of my favorites.  The first is from the neighborhood west of the University; the second at 5th and High while waiting for a train to finish going by.

3.  On good soup deserved another.  After taking pictures in the cold fog of Eugene, Russell and I went to Yi Shen and my body and spirit were warmed by the combo noodle soup.  (While I was savoring this soup, the Deke called and we decided to meet at Sixteen Tons where my body and spirit were further warmed by a pint of Hale's Supergoose IPA and some half pints of Flat Tail De La Rose.  I'm really enjoying the De La Rose.  I don't have words for why I enjoy this unusual beer so much.  Here's how the brewer describes it: 

This 100% oak barrel fermented and aged blonde ale is
spiced with a unique blend of rose hips, birch bark, and
coriander. Fermented 3/4's with a trappist ale yeast, and the
remainder with an authentic Sake yeast Aromas of
rosewater, clove, and subtle mintyness precede a pallet of
delicate pilsner malt and spicy yeast character.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/16/11: Millrace Again, Fun Beers, Chicken Dinner

1.  I went back to the Millrace to take pictures (and look for my eyeglasses -- a lost cause).  The environment was foggy and gray and the water was black and gray.  I enjoyed, as best I could, setting the colors along the shore against the dark backdrop of the water.

2.  I tried two new beers today.  First, at Sixteen Tons, a half pint of Gilgamesh's Chocolate Mint Stout, a pleasant beer, but not one I'd eagerly return to, but would gladly accept if offered to me.  After grocery shopping, I tried a half pint of Deschutes The Stoic at the Supreme Bean.  A half pint was all I would want.  It's a strong ale and full of more different flavors than I can describe.  For me, it was kind of like bleu cheese:  I love bleu cheese, but I'd never sit and eat a bunch of it at one sitting.  Same with The Stoic:  interesting, unique, flavorful, strong, and something I would only drink in small doses.  

3.  I thought I fixed a pretty good dinner tonight:  I baked five chicken drumsticks and, in the meantime, I fried sweet onion and mushrooms, combined last night's leftover basmati rice and make a salad that the Deke dressed.  Add a baguette and it was a good meal. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/15/11: Rest, Abstract Photos, Medicinal Squash

1.  I stayed home to rest my sore throat and runny nose and cough.  Yes, I wanted to get back out and take more pictures, but I didn't.  I rested. 

2.  Back on Monday and Tuesday, I took my favorite kind of photograph. Today I posted them on both Facebook and at Flickr.   I love water surfaces and the way things not only reflect on the surface, but the way breezes, ice, and light affect the surface and what's reflected.  My favorite style of art is abstract, and these surfaces make abstract pictures available in fun and, I think, beautiful ways:

3.  The Deke took over the kitchen tonight and made the finest acorn squash stuffed with rice and spaghetti sauce.  It was not only tasty, but medicinal. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/14/11: Coffee, Dreams, Jazz

1.  MB, JH, MM, and I had a spirited conversation over coffee today.  I think more than anything, we would like to enjoy our discipline with our fellow instructors by spending more time discussing poem, stories, novels, plays, essays, movies, etc.  In every department I've worked in, most of my conversation, in meetings, with other faculty has been focused on the business of how the college operates.  Or on how the state is lowering the boom about something.  I'd like to spend some time discussing Jane Austen.  Or Shakespeare.  Or a poem.  I could be a stimulating way to spend professional time together.

2.  The Deke and I dreamed today at 16 Tons.  We'll see what dreams come true.  For the record, I enjoyed a pint of tasty Heater Allen Coastal Common and then I was entranced by Flat Tail's De La Rose and enjoyed three half pints of it. 

3.  I had fun listening to Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, and Chase on YouTube, all inspired, somehow, by hearing Diana Krall sing "Popsicle Toes" on XM Radio.

Assorted Beautiful Things 12/7-13/11: Conferences, Roast Beef, Like Eating in Kellogg, Sixteen Tons a Blessing, Water Photos

1.  Conferences continued with WR 121 students and they continued to be gratifying.  Improvement in writing is an erratic and slow process.  It's unpredictable.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I find it miraculous as students grow in their writing, but I do find an element of wonder in it -- especially because for most of my students, school simply cannot be their first concern and they can't give their best energy to the work I require.  Their school experience is so different than mine was.  Mine was much easier. 

2.  The highlight of my cooking week?  A beef roast that marinated in olive oil, Montreal seasoning, garlic, and thyme for a couple of days and that I cooked in Firestone Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout with potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and, the clincher, the height of good tasting food, Brussel sprouts.  The Deke made stupendous gravy and two of us groaned with pleasure as we ate this pink beef, the tender sprouts, the potatoes, mushrooms and onions swimming in the rich, thick gravy.  Neither one of us could believe our good fortune that we were capable of cooking such good food.   Bonus:  it might have been even better the next day when enjoyed as leftovers!

3.  Ye Olde Pancake House has become my go to place for experiencing something sort of approximating eating breakfast at Sam's or the Silver Spoon in Kellogg.  It's not cool.  The food is good.  It's busy.  The faces of the customers remind me of home.

4.  Hmmmm....could going to Sixteen Tons to talk be among the best things that's happened to me and the Deke over the last fourteen years?  I love their beer.  The Deke loves their wine.  We go when it's quiet.  We wind down, talk about the day.  We dream stuff up.  We went there to recover from losing Snug.  We chat with Emily.  Jesse and I talk up NBA stuff.  Sometimes we have a drink with the Troxstar.  Whenever I get a text from the Deke suggesting we meet at 16 Tons, it makes me very happy.

5.  On these clear sunshiny and even icy days I've been drawn to water surfaces, the Delta Ponds, the Willamette River, the Millrace, to take pictures of the water surfaces, especially as they reflect the colors and shapes of what's on the shore.  I'll be posting albums soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/06/11: Improvement Continues, IPA!, Hot Drumettes

1.  As my individual conferences with my writing students continue, I'm heartened by seeing admirable improvement in many of my students' writing.  I enjoy being able to tell these students in person what they are doing that's better and seeing them beam, if only a little bit.

2.  I called the Deke to see if she could meet at Sixteen Tons for an hour of wine and ale and she could and the joint was really quiet and we relaxed and I enjoyed two pints of Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, the first IPA I've drunk in many many months.  I enjoyed them.  The IPA was a nice change of pace and possibly IPA will return on occasion to my personal tap rotation.

3.  I fried those floured drumettes carefully, attentively in canola oil and some butter.  I made them crispy and then slowly cooked them through and combined butter and Frank's hot sauce in a saucepan and coated the chicken and Samantha and the Deke were blown away by how good these Buffalo drumettes were.  I liked them, too. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/05/11: Shooting the Breeze, Clooney and Odyssey, Pleasing the Deke

1.  Several of my conferences with WR 121 students went beyond discussing writing to shooting the breeze and I learned a lot about mutual acquaintances, the new Wild Duck establishment, and what students learn in various courses about writing -- some good stuff, some stuff that was worthy of my inward cringing.

2.  I had never seen "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and since it's loosely based on The Odyssey, I made it available as an optional hour and a half or so of fun for my World Lit. students.  Three showed up!  No problem.  I loved watching the movie and especially enjoyed George Clooney, whom I enjoy more and more every time I see him perform.

3.  I fried up a couple strips of bacon, onion, diced potatoes, a pound of ground beef, mushrooms, green beans, and corn and seasoned them and created a dinner the Deke proclaimed as the best ever.  I beamed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 12/04/11: Troxstar is Everywhere, Deke's Soup, Sweet!

1.  After picking up some groceries and other stuff at Safeway, Hiron's, and the Kiva, I decided I wanted a pint of Hopworks What the Helles, but I had an empty stomach so I went to Dickie Jo's and picked up a burger and an order of fries and took them to 16 Tons, strolled in, and there was the Troxstar talking to Wolfie.  Bonus.  I had planned on a eating and drinking a beer alone, but got to have some Trox-o-Time instead.

2.  The Deke made a pot of tasty turkey soup that she started to prepare last night and it tasted really good, especially with the Pugliese bread I bought at the Kiva.  

3.  I made an early evening ice cream run and brought home two kinds:  Drumstick and French Silk.  Samantha said, "Sweet!"  I took that to mean she liked my choices.

Three Beautiful Things 12/03/11: Packed Pancake House, Shakespeare Showcase, Winding Down

1.  I enjoyed being a part of the crowd packing Ye Olde Pancake House on West 11th and ate my corned beef hash, hash browns, eggs, and English muffin with the hope that this breakfast would sustain me through the matinee performance of the Shakespeare Showcase.

2.  I don't have a great eye for this sort of thing, but, from my perspective, the performances at the 2:00 Showcase were much better than the same performances at dress rehearsal yesterday.  Then, at the 7:00 show, with a full house (yes!  a full house!), the level of acting, tech smoothness, and lighting proficiency was even better.  The 7:00 show had snap.  It's thrilling to see how gorgeous all these students look in their costumes and how their eyes radiate and sparkle under the theater lights.

3.  It was relaxing to cap off a full day of narrating at the theater with a half pint of New Belgium Snow Day Ale followed by a half pint of Pelican Tsunami Stout.  Sixteen Tons was quiet.   I drank the beers slowly, thoughtfully.  I wound down.  Ahhhh.

Three Beautiful Things 12/02/11: Flexibility, Dress/Tech Marvel, Sizzle

1.  Some simple flexibility worked today and helped put one of my most anxious students at ease and we had a good conference because she was relaxed.

2.  I marvel at all the details that must be attended to during dress/tech rehearsal for the Shakespeare Showcase and marvel even more at how many things need straightening out and at how rough and chaotic things are and I marvel the most at the confidence everyone has in the midst of the chaos that everything will fall together and there will be a good show.  The mess will get cleaned up.

3.   That dress rehearsal was over five hours long and I was pretty hungry afterward.  I decided to try a chef special at Jade Palace and ate a plate of sizzling shrimp and scallops.  I especially enjoyed the bites when the ginger asserted itself. 

Three Beautiful Things 12/01/11:Gratifying, Impressionistic, Rib Eye

  1.  I started conferences today with WR 121 students and particularly enjoyed working with a student who had been estranged from her biological father and wrote about their reconciliation -- it was especially gratifying to know that reading Louise Steinman's The Souvenir was important to her in helping her sort out her situation with her dad.

2.  I've been reviewing the photographs I took on Friday, a week ago, down by Autzen Stadium, and I'm really happy with the way, to me, some of my pictures, taken of the Millrace and of a heron, look like watercolors.  I think people who have looked at my heron pictures like the naturalistic ones best, but I really like the impressionistic ones best.  Here's an example: 

3.  The rib eye steak at Billy Mac's really hit the spot and I was especially intrigued by tonight's conversation, especially as we talked about teaching.  

Three Beautiful Things 11/30/11: Nourishing Lit, Catching Up, Sixteen Tons Stillness

1.  I'm very happy that for one of my students the World Lit course was nourishing.   Very happy.

2.  As far as holding class, the fall term is over.  It's all individual conferences and paper grading from here on out.  Time seemed to open up for my this afternoon and I got caught up in grading WR 121 papers.  It's a great feeling to be getting caught up.

3. I rewarded myself for getting those papers graded by going to 16 Tons for a pint and half of beer.  It was relaxing to sit and ponder things.  The beer was good.  The music was good.   I sat near some people who brought all kinds of finger food and were having animated conversation.  The woman from that table spoke to me as I was settling my bill:  "You must have had a great time eavesdropping on our conversation.  We were talking about some pretty wild stuff."  I replied, honestly, "I was really absorbed in my own little world.  I didn't hear anything you talked about."  We had a good laugh and I promised that if the same situation arose again that I'd eavesdrop next time.  We laughed more.  But, for the duration of those three half pints, I wasn't interested in anyone or anything.  I just wanted to be quiet and think and remember and let association happen, with no real purpose except to be still.

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/11: Bigger than School, Imagining Soup, Comfort Soup

1.  I tried to explain to my WR 121 students how the work we've been doing is bigger than school.  Yes, they earn credits and grades along the way, but to explore age old questions like happiness and reconciliation is to enter into a realm of thinking that goes way beyond earning credits, earning grades, or writing assignments.  A few students voiced agreement.  I wish they could see the whole of their education this way.  Plenty of pressures in their lives make seeing studies this way very difficult, though.

2.  Sometime this morning, maybe while driving to school, I began to imagine a beef barley soup.  I began to long for it.  I decided I'd make one up and see if it worked.  I imagined beef pieces, browned with Montreal seasoning, beef broth in a box, mushrooms, onions,barley, and thyme, and so I browned the meat, sauteed the onions and mushrooms, and put it all together and slow cooked it.  Later, I fixed the barley and dumped the pearls into the soup.  I'd also imagined thick crusted bread and bought a loaf and it all came out great and the Deke and Samantha and I had a wonderful soup and bread dinner together.

3.  I was feeling physically and psychologically worn down by the end of the quarter and this soup relaxed me with its thick flavors and comforting warmth.  It soothed me and inspired me to go to sleep early again.

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/11: Rumi Readings, Pork Chops, Rest

1.  My World Lit. students arranged themselves so they could all see each other and, one by one, different students volunteered favorite poems of theirs by Rumi and we worked to come to a better understanding of his mysticism and mysteries.

2.  I'd asked the Deke what she'd like for dinner and she requested pork chops and quinoa and green salad.  I bought thick pork chops, with the bone, and found a box of quinoa with a spice packet in it and thought I'd give it a try.  It worked.  The Deke and I both liked the boxed quinoa and, Samantha, who said she doesn't usually like pork, really enjoyed her pork chop.  That made me very happy.

3.  About this time, the weight of the academic term begins to assert itself and so I need to get some extra sleep and tonight I went to bed really early and welcomed the added rest.

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/11: Soup Prep, Temple of 16 Tons, Devouring Dinner

1.  I've been in the mood for chicken soup so I bought a couple pounds of chicken legs, bones removed, and started making broth last night.  Today I put the soup together, let it slow cook all day.

2.  The Troxstar and I met at 16 Tons for some honest strong winter ale.  It was delicious, especially the Belgian beers, but when it comes to strong winter ales, I'm not that strong.  We cut ourselves off, fearing we were about to speak in tongues in the temple of 16 Tons and went to the TroxCrib and watched the early part of the lousy Pittsburgh/Kansas City Sunday night football game.  We thought having an amped down beer, a Cool Grand from the kegerator would be nice.  That last beer made me really eager to go home to my chicken soup.

3.  Once home, I boiled egg noodles to the edge of being of soft and put them in the soup.  Meanwhile, I fixed myself a toasted sharp cheddar cheese on Dakota bread sandwich and the soup and sandwich were so good that I made myself a second toasted sandwich and had a second bowl of soup.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three Beautiful Things and a Bonus 11/26/11: Saturday Breakfast, Mary Goes Macro, Yi Shen Combo, BONUS: Belgian Ales

1.  People just kept coming and coming, over 250 in all, but we had enough eggs, potatoes, link sausage, and toast on the serving line to give each person a full breakfast.  I don't know how the oatmeal, grits, gravy, juice, coffee, and milk held up at the other serving tables, but we were happy, and a bit relieved, that we were able to meet the demand in our area of the Saturday Breakfast at St. Mary's Episcopal Church.

2.  Mary joined Russell and me for a photo walk on the southeast part of the U. of O. I tried to capture my nostalgic feelings for Mac Court by taking picture after picture after picture, but it never seemed like the images ever matched my feelings.  Mac Court held mythic significance for me when I moved to Eugene 32 years ago and I hoped I could capture some of its grandeur, grandeur that was mostly in my head, but grandeur all the same.  I'll look at my pictures soon and see if I even sort of succeeded.  Mary, by the way, went macro mad on our photo walk, with special attention to a ladybug on a gravestone.  It was really fun to bear witness to her enthusiasm.

3.  Mary, Russell, and I went to Yi Shen after we were done shooting.  Russell and I enjoyed sharing our favorite Eugene place to eat with Mary and she seemed delighted with her meal.  I was beyond delighted with mine.  I ordered Yi Shen's combo soup -- bbq pork, shrimp, scallop, beef (I think) with bok choy and Vietnamese noodles and I can't remember what else.  My inability to remember details is directly related to the euphoria I felt eating this soup:  I don't think I've ever tasted a more satisfying, flavorful, complex broth. 

BONUS:  After doing some shopping, I enjoyed two particularly tasty half pints at 16 Tons.  I decided to focus on two Belgian ales and they pleased me completely.  I can't write beer review language.  All I can say is that I sat there, by myself, and stared, speechless, I enjoyed these beers so much.  The first came from Hopworks, and is called Muscles From Brussels; the second came from Japan: Hitachino Nest Barrel Aged  Commemorative Ale.  The second is a Belgian Strong Ale.   I could only drink a half a pint of it because of its 10% alcohol by volume. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/11: Ye Olde Corned Beef, Solo Photo Walk, The Deke is Back

1.  It was a solid way to start the day:  corned beef hash, three eggs, hash browns, English muffins with strawberry jam, a pot of coffee, and lots of water at Ye Olde Pancake House on west 11th. 

2.  I had a very satisfying solo photo walk today down by Autzen Stadium.  The light was wonderful, the fall colors reflected appealingly off of the Mill Race, heron and geese cooperated, and dogs were happy and handsome at the dog park. 

3.  The Deke is back after a couple of weeks in Georgia to see Molly, Hiram, Olivia, and David.  She gave my Thanksgiving leftovers a try and liked them, a plus, and then we went to her office (the Cornucopia) for an hour or so and spent some time getting our bearings.  I had really enjoyed my solitude at home from Wednesday afternoon until the Deke returned; at the same time, I really enjoy the Deke being home again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/11: Prep, Shove, Cook and Eat and Drink

1.  I read that the cut of roast I bought, the eye of round, is not, on its own, very flavorful.  So, salted it, peppered it, garlicked it, and rubbed it with olive oil, rosemary, and ginger.  I let it sit all day at room temperature.  I was bound and determined to draw flavor out of this roast!

2.  I browned the roast on all sides in the cast iron Dutch oven, let it cool down, and then poured a pint of Guinness Extra Stout and a bit of water, forming a malty-yeasty-hoppy-stouty puddle for the roast to cook in and added Brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions, and mushrooms to the pot, covered it, and shoved it in the oven. 

3.  I kept a close eye on my dinner as it cooked:  good thing.  The Brussel sprouts were done first and I took them out and covered them.  I didn't want mushy sprouts.  The roast was done before the other vegetables and I got it out of the pot just in the nick of time, maybe even a little late.  The roast was more medium than medium rare, so I wish I had removed it about five minutes earlier.  No harm, though.  The potatoes and onions needed more time and the mushrooms stay in the pot for the ride.  All that liquid from the Guinness stout was now really beefy and oniony and musroomy and sort of spuddy, so I brought that liquid to a boil, mixed up some cold milk and flour, dumped it in the juice and, after a few minutes, I had gravy, the first I've made.  I had also decided that I would crack open my bottle of Black Butte XXIII.  I could have let it age, but I decided to go for it and it was a rich, complexed flavored complement to the roast beef dinner.  It took me about an hour to drink the Black Butte XXIII and I decided to top it all off with about three oz of Figgy Pudding Strong English Ale.  I hope recorking that bottle works.  I enjoyed that small amount of Figgy Pudding, but the bottle still has over a pint left to be enjoyed. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/11: Chickpeas, Beef, Stout

1.  I was really happy that one of my students chose Rumi's "Chickpea to Cook" as a poem to study together in class today.  Those of us in the class who love this poem had a particularly good time with these lines:   

Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
"Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this by myself.

 2.  I figured out what I want to cook for my Thanksgiving dinner, went to the store to buy a small beef roast, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, onions, and mushrooms.  I began to imagine this cut of beef being roasted in a pool of Guiness stout, so I'll need to do a little research to figure out how to make this happen.

3.  Well, imagining a roast beef in a puddle of Guiness stout made me think that they sure have some nice stouts and porters on tap at 16 Tons so I dropped in and enjoyed a half pint of Upright Barrel Aged Stout of Monte Fisto, a half pint of Bison Baltic Porter, and finished my evening with two half pints of The Abyss.  My 16 Tons evening was enhanced by sitting with Beverly and Wayne, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of years.  Wayne lived in the Silver Valley and worked at the Bunker back in the mid-sixties and we have a particularly good time talking about the good old days in Kellogg.  We did some of that and the three of us talked about a variety of other things, too.  Good times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/11: Ponder, Reconcile, Pork

1.  I had a classroom situation where I could have reacted defensively, and instead I replied to a confrontational remark, "Well, ponder that some more.  I don't really have a response."

2.  The book The Souvenir is helping A. sort out things in relation to her father and giving her insight into their developing reconciliation. 

3.  I marinated a three pound pork shoulder roast for over twelve hours in Stubb's Smokey Mesquite BBQ sauce and then slow cooked the roast for about twelve hours.  I poured the sauce that bubbled around the roast over my baked potatoes and over the pork and complemented the meat and potatoes with green beans.  It was a delicious dinner.  Samantha ate baked potato only.  No problem.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/11: Barks, Essays, Steaks

1.  Every time I watch and listen to Bill Moyers interview Coleman Barks, I'm stimulated by the vision of Rumi and by the music of the Paul Winter Consort.

2.  I'm still working my way through a large number of student essays for World Lit and WR 121.  I didn't finish the pile today, but I made significant process.  Tomorrow's another day.

3.  Samantha seemed pretty happy to learn I was frying up a couple of petite sirloin steaks with caramelized onions.  I think I was happier with the broccoli than she was -- but we were both happy with our delicious dinner.  The steaks were really good. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/11: Tom the Librarian, Back to The Abyss, Chicken Dinner

1.  It was a lot of fun to see Tom Beckstrand give his symposium on the church library.  He was animated, happy to be the library guy, and eager to let us know what is what in the library.  His talk was good, too.

2.  After the symposium, the Troxstar and I spent some time at the 2nd Annual Eugene Winter & Strong Ale Festival at 16 Tons.  These beers are strong and we were careful.  I sure enjoyed two 3 oz. tasters:  first, Block 15 Figgy Pudding Ale and, second,  Terminal Gravity Bucolic Plague (2009).  Then I could not resist returning to The Abyss and enjoy two half pints of Deschutes' The Abyss, a deep, dark, mysterious, and tasty Imperial Stout.  It's my favorite, although I really enjoyed that the Figgy Pudding Ale had been matured in brandy barrels before conditioning with mission figs, Ceylon cinnamon and nutmeg.  These beers were really fun to drink and required all the caution I exercised.

3.  So tasty, so easy:  a tray of chicken legs with potatoes and onions popped into the oven for an hour or so resulted in a satisfying dinner for Samantha and me. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/11: Meeting Dan, The Abyss, Spontaneous Soup

1.  I've been a friend on Facebook for quite a while with Russell's longtime friend, Dan, and this morning I got to meet him.  Russell, Dan, and I met at the Glenwood for an excellent breakfast and a lot of fun conversation about taking pictures and food in Hawaii and a number of other things.  I hope we have the chance to spend time together again soon.  It was really fun.

2.  A while back I read about a beer that Deschutes brewery releases seasonally called The Abyss.  Here's what Deschutes says about The Abyss:  "A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate."  The Abyss came on tap today at 16 Tons and I ordered a half a pint, cautiously, because the ABV is 11%.  Oh, my.  Indeed, it moved me to contemplate and moved me to order another half pint.  It's a magnificent beer.  I had read another review of it elsewhere where the person simply said, "Yay molasses!"  My sentiments exactly.  (I also bought a 22 oz bottle of The Abyss and I'm going to let it age.  I've never let a beer age before and I'll crack it open sometime in 2012 and see what I think.)

3.  The other night I browned about a pound of ground beef.  I needed to use it.  I looked around the kitchen.  Mmmm.  I've got onion.  I've got potatoes.  I've got two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  I've got a 14 oz can of Bush's navy beans.  I've got garlic powder.   I have salt.  Water comes out of the tap.  SOUP!  I haven't done this for a while -- that is, I haven't combined whatever is in the kitchen into a pot and made soup and I've got to say, this ground beef tomato navy bean soup is really good!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Many Beautiful Things Over the Last Few Weeks

1.  David Alejandro Diaz was born to Molly and Hiram on November 2, 2011.

2.  I had a great time making Lebanese lentil soup and cheese/fruit dessert plates for over fifty people at St. Mary's Episcopal Church when Dr. Loren Crow gave a talk about his sabbatical to Israel.

3.  Ed and I had a superb time in Pendleton where I enjoyed a superb rib eye steak at Hamley's, a most scrumptious Reuben at the Prodigal Son, cold Buds at Whistlers Pub, and a couple of fine breakfasts at the Rainbow Cafe. 

4.  The beers continue to be fun and delicious at 16 Tons.  I wish I had kept a record of all the fine beers I've sampled.  It's been especially fun to have the Deke join me at 16 Tons.  She enjoys a glass of wine and I try another new kind of beer.  In addition, I've begun to join her from time to time at her "office" at the Cornucopia.

5.  Carolyn and I had a great time as co-teachers at church, leading different groups in discussions of beauty.  

I'll leave it at that.  I just wanted to get back into action and get back to posting Three Beautful Things with the hope that I don't let how busy I've been stop me any longer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/11: Brails Again, Feeding the Poor, Photographing an Empire

1.  I got myself ready to serve breakfast at the church by eating breakfast at Brails beforehand.  I switched things up.   Rather than my usual corned beef hash, I ordered ground round and eggs and hash browns and English muffin.  I really needed my breakfast so I could be strong at the church.

2.  Nearly two hundred-fifty people ate breakfast this morning, all in some state of poverty, many without teeth, some drunk or high, few clean, all hungry.  It's intense, but behavior was very good.  People we served were grateful.  Our work in the kitchen and on the serving line was full of good cheer.  We fed everyone who walked through the door.  Our church provides this meal every other Saturday.

3.  Russell and I took quite a few pictures east and northeast of the main campus at the Univ. of Oregon.  I'd never stood close to the Matt Arena or the Ford Alumni Center or the John Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes.  Here's one view of the latter:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/11:Brails Was Just Right, Good Essays, Monschambacher Lager from the Firkin

1.  Everything was just right at Brails this morning:  the service, the newspaper, the corned beef hash, eggs, hash browns, and English muffin.  Nothing fancy.  A common day at the cafe.  And just right.

2.  My students did a good job recounting what I hoped they would see in The Odyssey and did very good work summing up what they learned from the Joseph Campbell videotape.  I read those papers this afternoon and it was really good to read their fine work.

3.  I was checking in on FB and a notice came up that Sixteen Tons had just opened a firkin of Monschambacher Lagerbier.  I pulled myself together, got a call from the Deke saying she'd like to meet at Sixteen Tons and, wow, it was fun to have some time with the Deke and that Monschambacher Lager drawn from the firkin was -- well, it wasn't Lucky Lager -- or as the Germans might say, Glucklich Lager -- well, that Monschambacher Lager was a treat: a smooth, tasty, easy lager that helped make conversation with the Deke mega-enjoyable and, when she left before I did, put me in a deeply meditative state.  The great lagers:  my wheelhouse.  What a pleasure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/11: Lively WR 121, Sixteen Ton-Billy Mac's Retreat, Cards Break Cardinal Cut Off Rule

1.  I was happy and a bit fired up by how my two sections of WR 121 tore into passages that stood out to them as particularly important in "Buffalo for the Broken Heart".  By the time my four hours of conducting class ended, I was beaming -- and wrung out from fielding so much good discussion.

2.  It's been a draining week.  I'm sure it's the aftermath of losing Snug.  I welcomed a retreat into the sanctuary of Sixteen Tons.  Emily was working the taps and it was fun yakking back and forth.  Oakshire had a beer I'd never tasted before on tap:   Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter.  I loved it.  The best bonus:  the Deke joined me.  We yakked it up for a while before heading over to Billy Mac's to eat and gab some more with friends.  Great prime rib sandwich.  Superb company.  The retreat continued.  I was beaming.

3.  The top of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2011 World Series re-invigorated my love of baseball.  Kinsler dunks a lawn dart into shallow left center field.  He steals second, safe by a hand, despite Yolina's bullet to the bag.  Andrus singles, but his hit doesn't score Kinsler BUT the Cards botch the cut off and Andrus advances to second.  The Rangers will not get another hit this game, but on the strength of two pretty lazy fly balls, the first by Hamilton, to right field, not only driving home Kinsler, but advancing Andrus, the second by Young, scoring Andrus, the Rangers win.  A dinky single, a bold stolen base, a solid single, a botched cutoff, and two fly balls.  Chicks dig the long ball?  I dig the ball small.  I wish I could have watched this last inning with Dad.  When he coached our IOOF Little League team, he stressed, like no other Little League coach in Kellogg, the cut off.  Keep throws low.  Cut off throws and don't let runners have bases they don't earn.  The Cards broke the Cardinal Cut Off Rule and it cost them Game 2.  I haven't decided who I want to win this World Series.  Tonight it was fun to not have a rooting interest and to watch this small ball drama unfold.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/11: Happy Birthday, Foul Mood Lightened, Day Old Pasta Sauce

1.  Samantha did a lovely thing:  she went to Sweet Life and, to celebrate her deceased father's birthday, bought herself a piece of the best cake she'd ever tasted in her life.

2.  I fell into a foul mood today and I'm not quite sure why.  It almost felt like I might be dropping into the black hole again, a place I haven't been since March, 2009.  I told the Deke and Samantha that I was out of sorts and not to take anything personally and they understood.  What a relief.  My dark mood had nothing to do with them and that they accepted this and that the Deke asked me a few questions about my condition helped me lighten up.  So did going to bed really early.

3.  I made a really good pasta sauce yesterday, but our family decided not to eat it and tonight the Deke and I dove into it, spooning it over penne.  Having it age a day made this tasty sauce really tasty today and we savored its multiple flavors and textures.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/18/11: Beauty Group, Red Barn, Burrito

1.  Carolyn and I facilitated another fine discussion with another group, at the church, about beauty.

2.  I enjoy shopping each night for the vegetables we need, doing it at Red Barn, and then dropping in for a pint at Sam Bond's Garage.  I like shopping at the Red Barn and enjoy how quiet it is at Sam Bond's between 4-5 or so.

3.    I ate this massive burrito from Taqueria Mi Tierra.  It lasted me the whole rest of the day…and it was really good.

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/11-10/17/11: Catching Up

For much of the past week, my thoughts and feelings have been focused largely on the loss of Snug.  During this time, I've lacked the energy to keep up with posting Three Beautiful Things each day.  These days have been hard, but not lacking in beauty or in goodness, so I'm going to go back and try to pin down Three Beautiful Things for each of them.

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/11:  Conferences, Beef Stew, T'ao Chien

1.  I had my first WR 121 conference and it felt really good to work closely with the two students I met with.  I feel like a more authentic teacher in these situations when I'm working one to one or one to two with students.

2.  That beef stew I put together last night?  It sat in the icebox all night and today and was ready to be warmed up and eaten tonight.  Rave reviews.  We all loved it.

3.  I always enjoy getting underway with old Chinese poetry and the nostalgic vision of T'ao Chien.

 Three Beautiful Things 10/11/11:  Chicken Noodles, Beauty Group, It Could Have Been Worse

1.  I enjoyed figuring out how I would combine meat off of chicken thighs, egg noodles, mushrooms, and broccoli into delicious dinner.

2.  Carolyn and I held our first group meeting on the subject of beauty at the Hockley's home and had a great discussion.

3.  Snug's bit Sam hard.  It could have been really bad, but Sam protected herself with her arm and Snug bit into her elbow.  The good news?  Sam is going to be all right.  The wound is serious, will require stitches, but Samantha will heal and be fine.

Three Beautiful Things 10/12/11:  Art Project, Snug's Last Outing, Leftovers

1.  My students did art projects with "Drinking Alone by Moonlight" and had a lot of fun and did good work.

2.  I had to get Snug out of the house and, as it turns out, it was our last outing.  It was a gorgeous one.  I kept him on the leash, but we went to a huge field on Willow Creek Road and Snug filled his nose with grass and ground scents, stuck his nose in little burrows and the roots of things, and had a great sensory experience.  He was really happy.

3.  That beef stew and those chicken noodles?  Great leftovers.

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/11:  Grief, Help, Sleep

1.  The Deke and had decided in a short, decisive conversation that Snug would have to be euthanized.   We both knew it before we said it and then my crying began, the deep grief.  I didn't at all want to let Snug go, but I knew I had to.

2.  The Deke helped me out.  So did Adrienne.  I was unable to call the vet to make an appointment to end Snug's life and their help helped me a lot.  I'm eternally grateful.

3.  Snug and I slept closely together all night.

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/11:  Support, Debrief, Dinner and More

1.  The Deke and Dr. Jones could not have been more sensitive to my grief nor more supportive of the decision to put Snug down.  This meant the world to me.

2.  After we left the vet, the Deke and I went to 16 Tons for drinks.  It was a perfect way to sort out what had happened and was happening.

3.  Later, the Deke, Sam, and I joined Jon and the Troxstar at Billy Mac's and the food and drinks and conversation were perfect:   just what I needed.  I'd seen the Troxstar earlier with Marla and our 16 Tons pal Emily at Brails.  All of this was very good.  So was going back to 16 Tons with Jon and the Troxstar for another couple of beers before going home.  I really needed to talk and laugh and be with good friends.  It all happened Friday afternoon and evening.

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/11:  D. B. (Beak, Boney), Whiteaker Again, Return to Yi Shen

1.  It was great to see Dale Bachman at Appleby's, helping keep dishes clean at the Springfield Lions' benefit pancake breakfast for a man about to have a kidney transplant.

2.  Russell and I enjoyed our photo stroll.  We returned to the Whiteaker neighborhood and when we were done, both of us thought returning for the third week in a row would be great.

3.  Russell and I were back to our favorite post-photowalk dining spot:  Yi Shen.  My lemongrass fish plate was superb and I sure hope that today was the next of many weeks in a row that we are back at Yi Shen. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/11:  Symposium, Goddess, 16 Tons Get Together

1.  Jared Talbot gave a fine symposium at St. Mary's on his faith experience as a scientist.

2.  Emily is a beer goddess.

3.  The Troxstar, Marla, the Deke, and I had a really good session at 16 Tons with Emily pouring.  It was a really great time.

 Three Beautiful Things 10/17/11:  Campbell, Steak Sandwich, Stouts

1.  I introduced my World Lit students to Joseph Campbell.  I sure hope it worked for them.

2.  I'd never been to Burgers on the Run down by the Wandering Goat on Madison and I had the steak sandwich.  Great food.

3.  I'd never tried either Southern Tier's Creme Brulee Stout or their Choklat Stout.  Loved them both.  Fun beer. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snug 2005-2011

On Friday, October 14, 2011, Snug was put to rest by his veterinarian.  Snug snapped on Tuesday evening in the kitchen and seriously injured Samantha with a deep bite in her elbow that could have been a deep bite in her neck or face.  Samantha's wound is healing really well.

Snug was always an unpredictable dog.  His unpredictability made him a dangerous dog.  It was part of his DNA.  We couldn't do anything about it.  Throughout his life, I did everything I could to keep him out of situations where he might attack people as well as other dogs.  For the last two and a half years, after he bit a friend at our front door, until last Tuesday, I was successful, essentially protecting Snug from himself and others. 

I've been distraught.  Snug and I had a deep bond, a deep friendship, unique from any relationship I've ever had.  With me, in our life together, he was sweet, tender, animated, and comforting.

I love him dearly.

I hated letting him go.

It tore me up.

I'm going to post more remembrances and thoughts and feelings about Snug here in my blog as time goes along.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/09/11: Quiet/Heart Attack, Stew, Beer and Brass

1.  My time of worship was meditative, one of those Sundays when I sat in the back of the church and was quiet most of the time.  I was fully participating, but mostly in silence -- it's a way I like to do things.  Across the aisle, in another row of pews, a guy who is more rambunctious was seated and I heard him telling another guy that he often feels like yelling "Amen" and "Alleluia" during the service but he figured it would cause people in the church to have a heart attack. I chuckled.  I'd be one of the heart attack victims!  I worship where I do because I enjoy the solemn quiet.  But, I've been fairly forewarned and if this guy decides to let a loud "Alleluia" rip, I'll try to stay out of the cardiac unit.

2.  Finally the weather has cooled down enough so that I can assemble and cook beef stew and I spent a few hours in the kitchen putting one together for dinner Monday night.  It's one of my very favorite cooking projects.

3.  The Troxstar and Madam Marla and I descended upon Sixteen Tons at five and it was great to see Emily in charge of the taps and the cash register.  It was a lot of fun talking and laughing and Emily was kind enough to play a vinyl version of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass's "South of the Border".  I tried a new beer and was very happy with Cascade's Fresh Hop Porter.  I then returned to two favorites, a pint of 8 Ball Stout and a half pint of the Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011


To me, beer is photogenic.  Here's what I mean, without further caption or comment: