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.