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:

Three Beautiful Things 10/08/11: Breakfast at St. Mary's, Photo Walk, Casserole

1.  We served about 150 or more hungry people at the St. Mary's Saturday Breakfast.  I served bacon and sausage and toast and a number of those who came for a plate of eggs, potatoes, meat, oatmeal, grits, gravy, juice, coffee, and, for some, pancakes, expressed sincere gratitude.  I'm sure I've mentioned before that this free breakfast is a twice a month occasion.  We don't turn anyone away.  Troublemakers get served outside.  The church has been offering this breakfast for about twenty years.

2.  Russell and Samantha and I went on a photo walk in the Whiteaker neighborhood, starting at the Wandering Goat and making out way to the Red Barn area and back to the car again.  I tried out my new lens and had an exhilarating time and hoped that Samantha enjoyed touring this neighborhood and all of its vitality.

3.  The Deke was going to make meatloaf for dinner, but she decided to take the pasta sauce I had just made and some frozen leftover sloppy Joe sauce I made long ago and combine it with some macaroni.  It was a superb casserole.  I love meatloaf, but this casserole was even better on this day. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/06/11: Group Fail/Conversation Success, Pint and a Half at 16 Tons, Nerd Games

1.  Carolyn and I got ourselves all prepared to lead a group discussion of the chapter on beauty in Bass's "Christianity for the Rest of Us" and only the group's host, Shelly, showed up.  So, Shelly, Carolyn, and I had a really enjoyable conversation about the Ducks, the city of Eugene, flowers, painting, and a host of other things and left hoping that the Friday group is for real and not a mirage!

2.  I popped into Sixteen Tons late in the afternoon and had my mind made up that I wanted two beers I'd never tried before and that I would limit myself to a pint and a half (rather than my usual two pints).  I enjoyed my first winter ale, a half pint of Oakshire's Ill-Tempered Gnome, a tasty brown ale, combining sweetness and hoppy bitterness.  For years, I've seen the label on bottles of Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout, but never bought one.  Seeing it on tap at Sixteen Tons and being on a stout kick lately inspired me to try it out.  I really like 8-Ball a lot.  I think many like the Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout better because it's a dry Irish Stout and hoppier.  I really like the Wrasslers XXXX Stout, but I might have enjoyed the 8-Ball a wee bit more.  I'm not as crazy about the hoppy finish as a lot of people around here are.  About 8-Ball, I must borrow an old bit from Tony Kornheiser:  Rack 'em!

3.   Samantha found out that the 'Wich House hosts nerd game night on Fridays, and so the Deke and Samantha and I went to check it out.  As expected, I saw a couple of my former students and I think Samantha found out what she wanted by observing the games from our table.  The food?  Superb!  My tuna melt on wheat  focaccia tasted great, as did the cup of ginger chicken soup.  The three of us had a wonderful time together. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/04-06: Learning, Savoring, Cooking/Eating

1.  It was a good three days in the classroom:  I think the way the story of Gilgamesh unfolds to portray the refining and strengthening nature of suffering started to make sense to my World Lit. students, I had fun subbing for Sparky in her Acting Shakespeare class, and I think I have finished frontloading WR 121 with more information and significant aspects of research and writing than any single person could possibly remember.  So, now the reviewing, the repeating, the reniforcing, the practice really begins.

2.  These were three good days for trying some different beers.  One was an old friend from over ten years ago that I hadn't enjoyed for a long time:  Rogue's Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout.  I also enjoyed a pint of Hopworks Urban Brewery's Survival "Seven Grain" Stout at Sam Bond's Garage, a flavor-packed delight.  The next afternoon I returned to Sam Bond's and had a pint of the first stout I ever drank, in May, 1975, in London:  Guinness -- and it's always fun to be reminded of its creaminess and fine taste.  Guinness is also a memory-packed beer for me, whether I think about London, Max's (years and years ago) or fixing a delicious black and tan at home.  I also enjoyed a bottle of Sheaf Stout from Australia.  Brill. 

3.  It was a good food week, too:  I fixed a rump roast with carrots, celery, sweet onion, and potatoes;  I used the leftover beef two nights later and fixed a ginger beef and garlic stir fry with brown rice; I baked four chicken legs, stripped off the meat, combined the meat with stir-fried vegetables and brown rice and topped it with Thai peanut sauce; last of all, I fixed a ground beef/sweet Italian sausage tomato pasta sauce, enhanced by a ton of basil, and we all had spaghetti and chunks of baguette. 

In conclusion:  classroom enjoyment, some good beers, and great fun cooking good food added up to three good days in early October.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 10/03/11: Gilgamesh, Union Cafe, Sixteen Tons with Troxstar

1.  What appears to be an external journey is an inward one:  Gilgamesh

2.  A wonderful sandwich at Union Cafe accompanied by a cup of three cheese tomato soup from Soup Nation and a gorgeous pint of Oakshire's Landtrust Lager. 

3.  The Troxstar invited me out for an evening beer about 8 o'clock and I enjoyed a refreshing Oakshire Triune Fresh Hop Pale followed by a Wrasslers XXXXX Stout which is becoming my favorite beer at Sixteen Tons, although I doubt it will last long.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Three Beautiful Things10/02/11: Small Groups, "Abraham's Land", Stout Blanche

1.  Carolyn and I got the way we are going to deal with beauty in the small groups figured out.  We also had a fine lunch at High Street.

2.  I was happy to be an audience to the reading of "Abraham's Land", but as a read play, it didn't do much for me.  I'm ready to believe that I would find it more compelling were I to see it staged and acted.  The subject matter is as important as any subject matter can be:  the tensions between Jews and Palestinians.  I'm not totally sure that the particular play treats those tensions convincingly.

3.  I stopped in at 16 Tons after the play reading and enjoyed aWrasslers XXXXX Stout.  It was a very pleasing stout on the coffee end of the taste spectrum, but its hoppiness surprised me.  I didn't like how hoppy it was for about three sips, but then, for mysterious reasons, the hoppiness grew on me and I enjoyed the last, what?, dozen or so pulls from the pint.  I then drank a half pint of a much sweeter beer, Mort Subite Blanche. As often happens in my explorations up and down the tap list at 16 Tons, this beer provided me with a different experience than I'd ever had before.  It was the sweetest beer I've ever tasted.  It wasn't like drinking Hi C or anything like that.  But its sweetness and its Belgian qualities combined to be not only pleasing, but, for me, unique (in a good way).

Three Beautiful Things 10/01/11: Jiffy, Meeting, Amber

1.  I like going to Jiffy Market and today I picked up my first cinnamon doughy Pershing sort of thing for many months and grabbed a cup of coffee and enjoyed the slow manner of the checker and relished the junky, casual environment of the store.

2.  Our English department's full time faculty met at Jeff's house to talk about department stuff away from campus and at a time when nothing related to school could interrupt us and before I went to Jeff's I bought a bag of six bottles of wine for the Deke and Scott W. saw me and wondered if he could come to my house and I told him I was headed to a department meeting, letting him believe that's what the wine was for, but even though the wine wasn't for the meeting, the meeting did feature a case of Ninkasi IPA (I didn't drink's not the kind of beer I enjoy) and I knew that Scott got the right impression of our meeting, even though he didn't see the right form of alcohol. 

3.  When I got home from the meeting I wound down a bit with a 22 oz bottle of Oakshire Amber Ale, a gorgeous beer to look at when held to the light and an easy, pleasing, tasty beer to drink.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/30/10: Neil Simon at LCC (A Conflict for Me), The Office, Two Retired Professors

1.  It's hard for me to go see a play by a playwright I don't really enjoy.  I don't enjoy Neil Simon.  I went to see Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at LCC, put on by the incredible Student Productions Association.  The production was splendid.  It was very pleasing to the eye.  The actors brought great energy to their work.  It was great to see Sarah and Tanner, whom I worked with in "Taming of the Shrew".  They did wonderful work, as did the rest of the cast.  I was very happy for Tim who was the assistant director of the production.  I sat two seats down from him in the audience and enjoyed his delight in seeing his hard work come alive on stage.   I found myself, however, wishing at many points during the play that all of this talent and beauty and energy had been devoted to a playwright I enjoy more.  I have this experience consistently with two often produced playwrights:  Anton Chekhov and Neil Simon.  However, unlike the last several times when I saw a Chekhov play and wanted to run screaming out of the theater or movie house, I never felt this way at LCC's production "Brighton Beach Memoirs".  There was too much to enjoy.   And it was wonderful to see so many people in the audience and  to hear so many big laughs.  As someone who doesn't care much for Neil Simon, I was definitely in the minority -- in a big way.  Nothing wrong with that!

2.  I enjoy my work as a teacher the most when I work with students individually and two students came by during my office hours today and it felt great to be of help and to get better acquainted with these students.

3.  I stopped into Todd's Place this morning for breakfast and seated at a table together were two professors from the University of Oregon whose presence brought back a ton of memories of research/bibliography (James Boren, English) and breakfasts at the Glenwood and the introduction of a couple of friends of mine into Wings (Will Davie, Philosophy).   Both professors are retired, are emeritus, and were two men whom it seemed like I saw every day, one way or another, when I spent almost every waking moment in the halls of old PLC, starting thirty years ago.