Sunday, February 27, 2011

Church Today at St. Mary's Episcopal Church 02/27/11

Here are some more faceless photographs and some others I took at church today.  The people I worship with are friendly, warm, and good to one another. We are ordinary people.  Our services are solemn and our place of worship is somewhat dimly lit.  I'm trying to capture the ordinariness, the solemnity, and the lighting in these photographs.  The one shot in color is the candle altar.  I keep concerns of others in a mental prayer vault during the week.  When I get to church, I can't remember all the people I'm concerned about and I imagine that when I light a candle, the prayers in my inward vault are set free, the ones I remember and the ones I've forgotten.  You can see by my last picture that I was the last to leave the sanctuary today.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Faceless Photographs Near the University of Oregon

Here are a few of the faceless photographs I took just west of campus today, both on 13th and along Kincaid:

Yi-Shen Faceless Portraits

Russell and I eat at Yi-Shen nearly every Saturday afternoon after our weekly photo outing.  Today, for the first, time, I took photos in Yi-Shen and continued to experiment with faceless portraits.

Three Beautiful Things 02/26/11: Penny, Yi-Shen Shots, Yi-Shen Curry

1.  Russell and I ran into Penny and Chris at the Taylor's corner of 13th and Kincaid.  Russell and I were out on our photo stroll and Penny and Chris were out for a long walk.  Penny and I hadn't talked for a long time, so we got caught up while Chris and Russell became acquainted by talking about photography.  What a pleasure!

2.  For the first time, I took some pictures at Yi-Shen.  You'll find them on a new post here soon.

3.  Not only was the picture taking good at Yi Shen,  but my lemongrass fried rice curry with pork was sensational.

Faceless Portraits at LCC


Herman and I have been friends at LCC for many years.  I've mentioned him from time to time in this blog and today I started taking pictures of him.

Three Beautiful Things 02/25/11: LCC Photos, Wandering Goat, Hammerhead Reunion

1.  I had a fun time taking my photographs of a Day and LCC and photographs of Herman.  I wonder if I should have bumped up the ISO a bit. I'll see as I take more pictures in the dull light of the Center building's desultory fourth floor. Live and learn.

2.  Conversation took a turn for the very serious and the very private between me and my friends at the Wandering Goat late in the afternoon.  It was somber and involved just the right things to talk about.  On a lighter note, it was great to see Skyler, George, and Arnica at the Wandering Goat. 

3.  The Deke and I met up at the 19th Street Cafe after the Mardi Gras at the Deke's school.   I can forgive the unremarkable food at the 19th Street Cafe thanks to the always satisfying Hammerhead Ale.  I hadn't had a Hammerhead for a few months and it really tasted good.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 02/24/11: Good Work, Good Teaching, Good Rehearsal

1.  I needed an uninterrupted work day to grade papers and read student poems and return them and I'm grateful that the skies opened up with an out of season snowstorm, forcing LCC to be closed,  and I got a ton of work completed. 

2.  Impassioned discussion erupted at Billy Mac's about what the best learning in the classroom requires: a human connection with the teacher, however that comes about.  Anything that obstructs this connection is a barrier to learning.  It's not a mechanical, programmatic undertaking.  It's deeply human.

3.  I arrived early at rehearsal and marveled at how much progress the very young, very inexperienced (in Shakespeare) actors are making in articulating their lines.  They've got the energy.  They know how to move and bring the action alive.  And now they are starting to understand the words and are beginning to make the words sing.  I beamed.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life at Home

Some pictures taken when the sunlight was just right in the kitchen and then some after dark sewing machine shots.

Three Beautiful Things 02/23/11: Poetry is the Light, Despite the Awesome Waitress, Momentum

1.  I read my always in progress lecture/paper/essay entitled "On Needing Richard Hugo" to my Intro to Poetry class, with the idea that they needed to hear how, for me, poetry isn't a school subject, it's not a vehicle for earning school credits, it's not a dilettantish, casual interest:  Richard Hugo's poetry has illuminated my world as I do the best I can to live with all that's dark in my soul. 

2.  The waitress was awesome.  Her dad is from Spokane.  He loves Rainier beer.  Her family is having a reunion this summer at Priest Lake.  She made my experience beautiful.  But, unfortunately,  that's where my pleasure ended at Mama's Hot Wings in Eugene, OR.  The wings were neatly piled in a gutless little pyramid.  Before they arrived, the waitress brought me handi-wipes.  Why?  These were the most tame, greaseless, sterile, neutral "hot" wings I'd ever eaten.  They came with a little pile of celery, carrots, and cucumber with watery, runny weak blue cheese dressing.  Well, I guess it was blue cheese.  It had the appearance of blue cheese.  It was hard to tell since the dressing was diluted.  I was excited to have a couple of tall boy Rainier Beers with my lunch.  The beers were very slightly chilled, but after being out of the "cooler" for about three minutes, turned lukewarm.  Like I said, I loved the waitress.  She was a great gal.  But the food and beer at Mama's Hot Wings were so desultory, so disappointing, so half-assed, I won't go back.  I'll keep fixing and eating my own.

3.  With the prospect of a snow day off tomorrow, I got some momentum going grading papers and if we have that snow day, I'm going to see if I can get all this being behind behind me.

Three Beautiful Things 02/22/11: Reconciliation, Fighters, Sleep

1.  This is one of my favorite times in WR 121.  I raise the question of what reconciliation demands or requires of parties who try to make what's broken whole again and it's very encouraging and uplifting to listen to all that my students know and understand about it.

2.  I had one to one conferences with two students about whom I can almost say that they've never had an easy day in their life.  They are fighters.  They are doing all they can to turn things around in their lives by being in school.  They are both plenty intelligent.  I got done talking with them, about an hour apart from each other, and I sat and stared, thinking how much I respect them and also knowing that they have so few things working in their favor.  It's what makes my job so emotionally complicated.

3.  I dropped into bed at 7:00 and slept for eleven hours.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 02/21/11: Apostrophes, Soup, Colonoscopy

1.  Melanie and Skye are members of the Apostrophe Protection Society and today we had a rousing discussion about Presidents Day and the document or license that permits us all to drive.  In Oregon, it's called a Driver License.  Yes, it is.  Take it out and look at it.  If you aren't from Oregon, see what your state labels yours as.

2.  The beef barley soup cooked slowly all day and provided us with a tasty, hearty meal this evening.

3.  I got the green light today:  I'm fit to have a colonoscopy.  In early May. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Faceless Portraits: Prayer

I took these pictures about ten minutes before the beginning of the 11:00 service at St. Mary's Episcopal Church on 02/20/11:

Three Beautiful Things 02/20/11: Regular Spiritual Life, Nap, Soup Prep

1.  Father Ted was the celebrant and preacher for this morning's services at St. Mary's Episcopal Church and listening to him I was transported all over the place.  So much of my life has been marked by how I felt sitting in the sanctuary at St. Mary's, listening to Father Ted.  I have been heartbroken, mentally ill, joyous, worried, somber, and, appropriate to his sermon, I've been ordinary.  I've worshiped many, many Sundays when things were just chugging along and, in many ways, those are the Sundays when Father Ted's not being a hot shot but being a common man who is a priest meant the most to me.  What do I value the most as a Christian?  The Trinity is alive in the ordinariness of my life, and our lives.  Yes, I've had peak experiences.  Yes, I've suffered dark lows.  Most of my life is ordinary, though, and I live the vast majority of my spiritual life feeling ordinary, just being a regular, everyday guy.

2.  I slept hard this afternoon when I took a nap. 

3.  I will put it all together in the slow cooker tomorrow, but tonight I browned the chuck roast pieces and sauteed the onion and carrots for Monday's beef and barley soup.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 02/19/11: Lines, Spree, Medicine

1.  Slowly but surely more of Christoper Sly's lines are coming alive in me.

2.  I had a Fred Meyer shopping spree.  Well, not a spree, but I did pick up a few things and enjoyed touring the store.

3.  The Deke needed Thai medicine and I went to Chao Pra Ya and bought her a container of steaming Tom Kha soup.  It worked.  It lifted the Deke's spirits and as the day moved forward she felt better and better.  

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Failed Faceless Portraits

I was working to take some faceless portraits of Snug and I failed:

Three Beautiful Things 02/18/11: Doing My Job, Stirred, Black and Tan

1.  I have to believe I'm helping students write more truthfully, helping them sort things out, helping them structure their insights and the stories and reading that support their insights.  Today I thought to myself, "Yes.  I'm doing my job.  I'm helping students examine their reading, their own experience, and their insights.  I never know if my way of helping students write and my ways of helping build their confidence is sound in terms of how the institutions of our department, the college, the state, and the assessment machine(s) seem to want things done.  That's abstract.  What I experience with my students is actual, immediate, even visceral.  I like it.

2.  Siskanna's depth of feeling at our meeting today stirred me.

3. I stayed at school later than usual, went straight to Sparky's for rehearsal, made some very modest contributions, and then went to Albertson's and bought some Guiness Stout and Bass Ale and enjoyed one relaxing and deeply satisfying Black and Tan.

Three Beautiful Things 02/17/11: Authentic Writing, Meetin' the Deke, Deep Sleep

1.  Conferences with my writing students went into overdrive today.  I started at 7:30 a.m. and my last conference ended at 3:00 and, once again, I tried to help my students give shape to a wide variety of perspectives on happiness and a wide variety of experiences that have shaped their thinking and feeling about happiness.  One of my enduring joys as a teacher of writing is that I do all in my power not to impose my views upon my students and so I read papers that are, as best I can tell, honest, unafraid, and free.  Sometimes the honesty is brutal and heartbreaking, sometimes joyous and uplifting.  It's authentic.  It's the foundation of good writing. 

2.  Somehow the conversation at Billy Mac's between Lynn and Kathleen and me veered to the question of how the Deke and I met and ended up married.  It was fun telling them that tale and some of the subplots. 

3.  I got home from Billy Mac's and after a full day of conferences, a prime rib dip sandwich, and a couple T and Ts, it really felt good to drop in bed and sleep deeply.

Three Beautiful Things 02/16/11: Wordsworth, Heartbreak and Joy, Baked Chicken

1.  I got a bit transported today trying to help my students work through  "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798".  I really don't know if my students experienced a lot of Wordsworth's passion coupled with his obsession with the power of nature, but I gave it a go.  I know the poem seemed alien to many.  Maybe after spending well over an hour with it, the poem seemed a bit more familiar.

2.  My conferences with my writing students hit a higher gear today.  I enjoyed the students' writing again today and listened as well as possible to what each student was hoping to accomplish. I listened to many stories of heartbreak. I listened to stories of joy.  I tried to help each student come to a fuller understanding of happiness.

3.  I baked chicken pieces and they were buttery, moist, seasoned just right and tasted great with the roasted potatoes and onions, and green beans I fixed.   

Three Beautiful Things 02/15/11: Conferences, Packing Sly, Faceless Photos

1.  My conferences with individual students kicked into second gear today and I was heartened that not only did my suggestions seem to be helpful, but sitting down with my students and talking about their writing and about things in their life also seemed a morale boost, seemed to be motivating.

2. I got to really start working on Christopher Sly tonight.  Among the triumphs of rehearsal:  early in the play, Christopher Sly gets carried off the stage and the youthful actors figured out how to join together and raise me over their heads and get me off stage.  I felt safe, too.  I was afraid I might have to do a 45 day P90X regimen to lose weight in order to be carried, but the boys handled me really well.

3.  I had fun taking faceless portraits, especially at rehearsal.  You can see some of them here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Faceless Portraits

InlandEmpireGirl and I are experimenting with faceless portraits.  Here's a sampling of my first efforts:

Three Beautiful Things 02/14/11: Poems on 02/14, Songs on 02/14, Shakespeare's Obsession

1.  I handed out four wonderful poems about love and kindness and Valentine's Day to my Intro to Poetry students even after confessing to them that I am an avowed Valentine's Day grinch.

2.  I enjoyed listening to "Valentine's Day is Over" repeatedly and then listening to "I Hate Myself for Loving You" several times.  It helped me get my Valentine's Day grinch on.

3.  The cast for "Taming of the Shrew" gathered for the first time tonight and we read through the whole play and I marveled at Shakespeare's copious obsession with how we never really know just what's real. 

Three Beautiful Things 02/13/11: Possessed at Starbucks, Irreverent Worship, Clam Chowder

1.  At Starbuck's, first the tall Pike with room slipped from the barista's hand and some coffee spilled on the counter.  Then I reached to pick up the cup and knocked it over.  More spilled. The barista declared the tall Pike possessed and poured it out, poured me a new cup, and no coffee spilled from it.

2.  I probably shouldn't sit with the Troxstar in church too often.  All I do is make wise cracks about the gospel reading and other stuff happening in the service and the Troxstar is more than happy to drop a few wisecracks of his own my way.  Much more of this behavior and I'm sure the ushers will descend upon us and escort us out the door.

3.  Following the Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I made a simple and satisfying clam chowder tonight.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 02/12/11: DB at Applebee's, Strip Mall Photo Stroll, Dr. Pepper at Dickie Jo's

1.  I went to Applebee's in Springfield for the Springfield Lions Club's Pancake Feed and saw Dale Bachman, the assistant basketball coach for the Kellogg Wildcats my senior year.  It was fun to talk a few times, but we couldn't talk much:  Dale was working his tail off keeping the customers happy, serving sausage, pancakes, juice, water, and coffee.  Dale Bachman has not lost much speed as he's aged.  He was whippin' around Applebee's, doing a great job.

2.  Russell and I had a successful photo outing on the far reaches of 11th Avenue, hanging out around Target and the Liquor Store strip mall.

3.  A pleasant surprise:  Russell really wanted to eat at Dickie Jo's again.  I was into it in a big way and enjoyed my burger and fries and, for some reason, the Dr. Pepper really hit the spot. 


Russell and I went far down West 11th Avenue and strolled around the area occupied by Target and a strip mall that has a defunct Geico shop, a liquor store, a UPS store, and Jung's Mongolian BBQ.  I decided to focus all my attention on circles.  The last two pictures are from last week's stroll at the Fifth Street Market.  Here's a sampling of my circle pictures: