Friday, September 30, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/11: Lunch, Billy Mac's, Free Range Red Ale

1.  I enjoyed a nice tuna salad sandwich and a pint of Kolsch at High St.

2.  Things were hopping at Billy Mac's.  Topics flew around the table; some sang Gale Garnett; lots of solid Jesus talk/church talk;  many wise cracks emerged about the length and tedium of Spenser's The Faerie Queen.  And to think it's incomplete.

3.  My prime beef dip sandwich with a small Caesar salad and two pints of Laurelwood Free Range Red Ale enhanced the pleasure of all the quickly moving conversation and all the roaring laughter.

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/11: Bible as Lit, Kitchen Help, Priest Duet

1.  I think teaching stories from the Bible as literature, from a literary perspective, is the trickiest thing I do all year as a teacher.  I'm totally committed to teaching the Bible as literature in my World Lit. class.  It's tough, though.  For students, the Bible is often either a supremely highly regarded source of truth or a scorned book, an instrument of oppression.  I think I succeeded today in keeping the discussion literary, of voicing no adherence to any doctrines and looking at the poetry, figurative language, narrative structure, and universal meaning of Psalm 23 and the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Honestly?  It's stressful.  For me.  I don't want to talk theology or doctrine in my literature class.  It's not church and it's not Sunday school.

2.  I went from a morning of teaching a tiny bit of the Bible as literature to helping get dinner ready for our Wednesday parish dinner at St. Mary's.  I chopped bok choy.  I sliced tomatoes.  I helped drain peas.  I carried big pans of mac and cheese to the serving line.  It was fun to help out.

3.  I enjoyed listening to our priests, Bingham and Betsy, lecture on the book Christianity for the Rest of Us.  They worked really well together and helped bring the book's content alive. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/11: Comp. Underway, Late Porketta, Black Boss Polish Porter

1. It felt good to get my WR 121 classes underway.  I try to walk the fine line between being eager to help and reasonable about problems by students might have and being clear that I mean business as their teacher.  I try to be honest without being intimidating.  I try to communicate understanding without seeming a pushover. 

2.  Heh.  I put the porketta in the crock pot a little too late, but finally, about 8:00, Sam, the Deke, and decided that we could start shredding it, with a little effort, and so we did and the meat was good with the onions and the brown basmati rice.  I'll try to remember to put the porketta on a little earlier next time -- like two hours earlier.

3.  I'll readily admit, though, that the wait for the porketta was made much easier the pint bottle of Black Boss Porter I savored.  It's a Polish Porter and is jam packed with chocolate goodness and other sweet tastes that inspired me to noisiness with every drink.  I'm glad I only drank one.  It's alcohol content is pretty high for me.  Its taste, though, really good.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/11: Lord,Sam, Steaks

1.  My favorite moment today in World Lit. was in trying to establish that divine reality, which dominates this course, is best explored and approximated by figurative language.  It's really the only way.  I put "The Lord is my shepherd" on the board and asked what the first metaphor of this sentence is.  Immediately, members of the class answered, "Shepherd."  "No", I said, "that's the second metaphor" and we began to discuss how the earthly idea of lord served as the metaphor for beginning to grasp the sway, the power of the Divine.  And then it got better as we saw, in Psalm 23, the unexpected idea that this powerful Lord is a lowly shepherd.

2.  I had a good visit with Sam when I got home, a discussion that gave us both a lot to ponder about all sorts of things, including education.

3.  Those flat iron steaks, seared and served medium rare:  really good. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/11: An Afternoon with the Troxstar: Great Pints, Ken and Hans, Cool Grand

1.  The Troxstar found me after 11:00 service ended and we glided over to Sixteen Tons for some excellent pints of beer.  I very much enjoyed Abita Turbodog, Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen, and Pilsner Urquell, three distinctive beers of the sort that I can't really describe but which are my favorites types. 

2.  Our visit to 16 Tons was going very well.  Excellent conversation, good wise cracks, satisfying, refreshing beer and then Ken and Hans from Victoria Island and Calgary joined us and we talked about music, especially further, beer and wine in Canada, Hans' friend dropping acid at Divinity School, and a host of other things.  These were great guys and we probably would have continued conversing longer into the afternoon had the Troxstar's sexton duties not called.  So, we glided over to St. Mary's and locked up the church, featuring a good visit with Bingham and Sherry and Phyllis. 

3.  No Sunday afternoon like this one could be considered complete without a little NFL football, let's say Oakland and the Jets, and an afternoon capping pint of Hopworks Cool Grand, straight from the Troxstar's kegerator.  A great afternoon.  A great way to end the summer break. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/11: Breakfast at St. Mary's, Ginger Chicken, Ghosts on Boards

1.  We fed every person who needed a breakfast at St. Mary's this morning.  With the addition of maybe 30-40 followers of Further, we must have had over two hundred people come through the meal line for scrambled eggs and/or omelets, home fries and/or mashed potatoes, bacon/sausage/Canadian bacon, and buttered toast and then move on out into the room for grits, oatmeal, fresh fruit, gravy, juice, and other offerings I'm probably not aware of.  I saw my former student Clarence again and his appearance seems to support his claim that he's getting cleaned up -- laying off the heroin -- and it's good to seem him.  I wish he could find a better living situation than his van.

2.  Russell and I hadn't been to Yi Shen for quite a while.  We were warmly welcomed and I very much enjoyed my dish of ginger chicken, vegetables, and white rice. 

3.  I follow a Japanese guy on Tumblr, here, who takes black and white street photographs and I think what he does is shoot some of them out of focus, on purpose, so that the human figures have an anonymous look.  They look like apparitions.  I like his pictures a lot and today, while out taking pictures with Russell, I took some pictures of some skateboarders hoping to achieve a similar effect.  See what you think:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/11: Film Festival Mtg, Outta Nowhere -- Veldhuizen!, Stacked Corned Beef

1.  I enjoyed very much sitting down with a group of people to begin planning the spring quarter Islamic Film Festival or whatever we are calling it.  Many great movies have been and are being made in countries that are predominantly Muslim or in places like Israel, by Israeli filmmakers, about Muslims living in the Golan Heights or Palestine or Jerusalem. and we had a great conversation about a wide variety of these movies, from around the world.  It was especially good to have Ibrahim Hamide at the table. He is Palestinian, has family back in Palestine, works hard to encourage peaceful relations between people of differing religious and ethnic practices and origins, and loves movies.  Oh!  And is a very good restaurateur. 

2.  The Troxstar and I met for a couple of pints at Sixteen Tons.  I enjoyed my pint of Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest as well as a pint of Gilgamesh Fresh Hop Harvester Oktoberfest.  I was sipping away and apparently out of nowhere popped Dave Veldhuizen, whom I hadn't seen for a few years, and we got sort of caught up on some things and he paid tribute to the presence of the Troxstar.  The pints, quaffing with the Troxstar, and seeing Dave made the visit to Sixteen Tons, well, it made it a beautiful thing.

3.  I dropped into the Jiffy Market for a corned beef, salami, Swiss, and cheddar sandwich on sourdough bread.  I know the sandwiches there are pretty thick, pretty filling (and, for my taste, really good) so I only order a half a one and it was just what I needed before taking part in Beautiful Thing #1 and then enjoying Beautiful Thing #2.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/11: Finished, German Beer, Everything's Poker

1.  Each course syllabus is ready to project on the smart classroom screen.  I finished them today, with 3-4 days to spare.

2.  I thought I merely walked into 16 Tons today, but upon self-examination, I might have swaggered.  It's not that I got my swagger back, but I think I have a new swagger in there now ever since I became a member.  I thought the other patrons could tell, too.  The respect in their eyes when I swaggered in felt good.  Most important, however, was the beer and today was really good.  I went totally German and enjoyed a pint of Avinger Oktober Fest-Marzen from the tap and a pint of Mahr's Ungespundet-hefetrub from the firkin.  I hope Sixteen Tons will serve beer again from the firkin.  The firkin sat on the counter.  The beer came straight out of it.  No hook up to a tap.  Just beer. Real beer. It was really good.

3.  Poker might be the metaphor by which all things can be understood.  You'd know pretty much exactly what I mean if you'd been with me and and friends at Billy Mac's this evening.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/11: Brisk, Aisle Blocking Conversation, Facebook Three Per Center

1.  The department meeting was brisk.  After the brisk division meeting.  Brisk is beautiful.

2.  I ran into Tim at Market of Choice and we blocked an aisle for about twenty minutes talking about teaching composition, the value of work, movies, and beer.  I think most of the people who needed to get by us made it all right.

3.  I created my own customized news feed and it made the changes in Facebook work pretty well for me.  97% of users hate the changes.  Guess I'm a Facebook Three Percenter.  (So are Ilene, Jon, Rhonda, the Troxstar [pretty much -- uh, maybe], and others.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/11: Writing, Helping, Laughing

1.  My cousin is working on a book and she sent me a bunch of what she's written and I tried to give her some helpful advice.  She's smart.  She's a good writer.  Her way of writing is unlike anyone else I've read.  I wish I knew more about the book publishing business so I could help her with that, but I can be encouraging.

2.  I might have been a help to Sam as she gets herself situated in Eugene.

3.  I got in a few good wise cracks when MB, Michael, Jeff, and I had coffee at the Wandering Goat and it was fun giving my good friends a few good laughs. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/11: Sam Visits Two Eugene Pillars, Teachers Meet, True Troxstar Power

1.  I took Sam to the Kiva and to Hiron's to introduce her to two contrasting pillars upholding the world of Eugene.

2.  I think this project we are undertaking at St. Mary's is going to work out just fine.  The teachers met today and we'll succeed in leading discussion around the different aspects of "Christianity for the Rest of Us".

3.  Sixteen Tons.  Two pints. Hop Valley Hopocalypse Blackout Stout.  Sierra Nevada Porter. I bought a membership.  Em was working the taps.  I walked in.  Before she said hello or anything, she wondered where the Troxstar was.  What it must be like to be the real deal, a big deal.  Like the Troxstar.  True Troxstar power.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/11: Justice and Mercy, Tuna Salad 'Which at 16 Tons, Cinematography

1.  This morning in church, Rev. Betsy Tesi preached a sermon on the emphasis upon justice and mercy in the Kingdom of God, not on fairness.  It was brilliant. 

2.  After church, the Troxstar met me at 16 Tons and we ventured over to the High Street pub, each bought a sandwich, took our food back to 16 Tons.  For a while the taps were no working, so we split a very satisfying LandTrust Lager.  The taps got fixed.  Then I had a refreshing pint of Heater Allen Dinkel Dunkel.

3.  Patrick and I had a very interesting discussion of the relationship between the director of a movie and the director of photography, a favorite subject of mine that I hadn't discussed for a long time.  I sent the great documentary "Visions of Light" home with Patrick.  I hope he enjoys this history of cinematography, made about 20 years ago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday Market Pictures: Giving My New Lens a Little Workout

The Whole Enchilada

Guitar Guy


Didge Guy



Sisters and Hawker

Sisters and Hawker II

Larry and Sam

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/11: Market, New Lens, Sushi Ya

1.  Muffie, Larry, the Deke, Sam and I went down to Saturday Market. Sam was in heaven and it was fun to see her be so excited.  I ran into Patsy and enjoyed our conversation a ton. I also enjoyed taking pictures.  I posted an album of them on Facebook and I'll post some of them on kelloggbloggin when I'm done with these 3bt's.

2.  I enjoyed shooting for the first time with my new lens, the one Russell found at Goodwill for twenty bucks.  It'll be fun to see how this older 50 mm. prime compares/contrasts with my more contemporary 50 mm prime. 

3.  Muffie, Larry, the Deke, Sam, Pat, and I went to Sushi Ya.  I love sushi.  I don't eat it often and eating all those rolls tonight was a deeply satisfying treat.  The one called Deborah was really good.  I was going to suggest to managment that they rename it The Deke, but I decided to keep my yap shut.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/11: TroxStock at Brails, Photos, Adult Restaurant

1.  The Troxstar and Mme. Marla were kind enough to extend an invitation to me to join them for breakfast at Brails.  Ian's service was prompt and witty, the coffee was premium, and I went off my usual corned beef hash grid and enjoyed Eggs Benedict and hashbrowns. . . a very satisfying start to the day.

2.  I organized photographs and copied about 14,000 of them to my external storage drive.

3.  Muffie and Larry offered to take the Deke and me out to dinner.  Sam, too! They wanted to eat at an adult restaurant (not a brewpub)  a joint with steaks and shrimp and prime rib and good booze.  At first their request stumped me.  Gulp.  I just don't go to such places very often.  The closest is Billy Mac's, a great restaurant, but still more of a pub.  I could tell they wanted something a bit bigger, more extensive than Billy Mac's.  I went online (I could have gone to the Yellow Pages) and I was embarrassed that I hadn't thought of the Eugene Electric Station. Score!  It fits Muffie and Larry's request perfectly!  And that's where we went and my single malt Scotch, dinner salad, New York Steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and glass of red wine deeply satisfied me.  I was really happy and so were Muffie and Larry.  They loved the joint.  (Back home, Larry introduced me to Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey.  Smooth.  Tasty.  Satisfiying. Another score.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/11: Blood Drive, Killing Flies, Billy Mac's and Rogue Nation

1. After my blood draw, and a superb breakfast at the Cooler, I took a drive to the top of Skinner Butte, scouting future picture taking sites. That part of town looks superb for taking pictures. I just hadn't thought of it until today.

2. The documentary "I Like Killing Flies" focuses on the unique restaurateur, Kenny Shopshin. It was fun to listen to him blab about his philosophies of life and to see him at work in his unique eatery and to hear him gab about food. The movie's drama centered around him losing his lease and having to move into a different building and how that move worked for him and how his customer's felt about the restaurant being displaced.

3. Tonight was the eatery daily double: first, we had a big turn out at Billy Mac's. More of us who get together on Thursdays showed up than have for months. That was really satisfying and fun. The fun continued when I buzzed over to Rogue Nation and the Eugene City Brewery to meet up with Samantha and her mom, Muffie, and Muffie's husband, Larry. I enjoyed making Larry's acquaintance and yakking with everyone at the table about the good old days and good old new ones, too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/11: Good and Cheap Compact Discs, Red Barn, Lookin' Back with Stu

1. Sam and I went to Target and I picked up some cheap cd's, now that I have a player in the car - - four best of albums: Eric Clapton, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and CCR. I saw Daisy at Target. That, too, was fun. 2. I changed things up a bit and instead of buying produce and hot cereal at the Kiva, I went to the Red Barn. LCC student Renee was working the cash register. We had a good visit and then I went across the street for an honest three buck pint of Dale's Pale Ale at Sam Bond's Garage. It was too hoppy for my taste. Nonetheless, I enjoyed relaxing at a table and slowly drinking this renowned beer from the Oskar Blues Brewery. 3. The Stu and I had a good text exchange about Lynrd Skynrd and our fall 1973 Friday afternoons at Jeckyl and Hyde's. We always had the same sandwich while we drank the afternoon away and shot pool before heading out to the next Kellogg Wildcat game. Neither of us can remember the sandwich's name. Then Stu called and we tried to figure out some other stuff from that time in our life -- with mixed success. We had lots of good laughs and decided that Goose and Jake are the two best story tellers we know. Others have good stories to tell, but Goose and Jake really deliver and Stu and I are rendered silent in their presence. That's good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sibling Assignment # 152: Facebook Reflections

Here's the assignment that Silver Valley Girl gave:

Share how the social network Facebook has affected your relationships with other people.

Except for two distasteful experiences, I've had a good time being a part of Facebook and I think it's helped not only renew and strengthen a number of relationships in my life, but Facebook has been a way for me to make friends I wouldn't have otherwise shared ideas and wise cracks with.

A few examples come to mind immediately.  

In 2009, a bunch of us Kellogg High School grads began to work on having a get together in Oregon to celebrate turning fifty-five years old.  It was through Facebook that people who hadn't seen or talked to each others for years got reacquainted and it was through Facebook that we worked out the decision that Lincoln City would be a better site for our party than Portland.  The weekend of food, walks, talks, laughs, music, and plain of fun, fun, fun was one of the best times I've ever had and Facebook made it really easy to organize and make happen.

Similarly, the different people in Baugh/West clan started joining Facebook and we started getting to know each other a little better and the idea sprang up that we ought to have a cousin reunion, the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny.   Just like the party I described above, the Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny was one of the best times I've ever had.  My sisters and cousins and their families and I, along with the family matriarchs (MIWW and LWBZ), had a great time talking, eating, drinking, telling stories, learning stuff we never knew about each other, and just feelin' the love of an epic family gathering.  The Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny prepared the way for the big parties this past spring when we celebrated Judy and Jack's 50 wedding anniversary and Lila (aka LWBZ)'s 90th birthday.  I credit our involvement on Facebook with setting things in motion for such full participation at both events.

Later, in 2010, thanks to Facebook and a private group we created, I had a deeply satisfying reunion with three of my Whitworth College students (and Bill's wife).  We got to know each other through the Facebook group and made arrangements for a reunion through Facebook.  Bill and Diane and I got together again in June this summer for a weekend in Ashland.  Bridgit had to cancel because of work demands. It's all to say that we stay current with one another through Facebook and I'll bet we plan another get together and will continue to become better and better friends.

Lastly, thanks to my friendship with local hero the Troxstar, I have made a bunch of Facebook friends who either are from Middlesboro, MA or are married to MHS grads or are FOM (Friends of Middleboroers).  Just this past Monday, one of those Middleboro High School grads, Jon, visited Eugene and the Troxstar and he invited me to join them for dinner and a Pats game.  I'd had coffee with Jon and the Troxstar once before and the same thing was true both times:  having talked on Facebook about music, football, the Red Sox, the Celtics,and church, we moved easily from Facebook to face to face conversation.  I trust that if I were to get together with others of this group of people, a similar thing would happen.

I used to have a similar experience through my blog.  I made virtual friendships with people around the country (even the world) through my blog posts and had some wonderful, but short lived correspondence with fellow bloggers.  That has fallen off.  I've notice people are more active on Facebook than they are checking blogs and I often double post my stuff in both places.  I miss some of my old blog acquaintances, but I understand that things change.

I remain faithful to this blog.  Most of my posts are Three Beautiful Things, but I keep it alive and I've enjoyed the people I've corresponded with because of my blog every bit as much as via Facebook.

The new developments on the World Wide Web have been fun and have nourished my life with the spirits of good people and company of many friends and family.

I never saw it coming!

Sibling Assignment #151: The St. Joe Watershed

As InlandEmpireGirl put it, we are back rolling again on sibling assignments.  I gave this one and it's pretty simple:
"Write about a particular thing that happened on our Sibling Outing that was especially enjoyable.  If possible, include an image, but not required."

IEG's post is here and Silver Valley Girl's is here.   They both documented the Hobo Cedar Grove phase of our day (see below).

My sisters and I do our best whenever all three of us are in Kellogg to go on an outing without any other family members:  no kids, without our mother, no husbands, and without the Deke.  We realized a few years ago that when we saw each other, we were always with other family members (which we love), but we wondered if it might be fun to go out with our cameras and explore Spokane or go to Greenbluff or go up the North Fork of the Cd'A River by ourselves and just enjoy one another's company.

We've done it and it works.  We gab.  We tell stories.  We tell inside jokes.  We laugh.  We remember.  We have a great time.

Back on August 27th, Silver Valley Girl, InlandEmpireGirl and I set out from Kellogg and did the following:

  • Ate breakfast at Sam's in Kellogg
  • Drove over Moon Pass
  • Stopped in Avery and poked around
  • Drove the mean streets of Calder
  • Stopped at the Marble Creek Interpretive Site, and learned about logging practices in the early 1900s
  • Drove to Clarkia
  • Left Clarkia to go the nearby ranger station to get a clearer idea of how to get to the Hobo Cedar Grove
  • Drove to the Hobo Cedar Grove
  • Walked an interpretive nature trail at the Hobo Cedar Grove
  • Stopped at the liquor store in Fernwood
  • Stopped at the liquor store in St. Maries (success -- grasshopper [aka grasshoppahs] to come
  • Met Mom at the Mission Inn in Cataldo for dinner
I'd been looking forward to this outing for weeks, not only to spend time with my sisters, but also because I'd just read The Big Burn by Timothy Egan and I wanted to see this part of Idaho again, now with fresh knowledge of what happened when the Fire of 1910 swept through Wallace and the forests to the south.

In 1910, Avery was an especially important railroad stop as trains either descended out of the Bitterroots or ascended over the rugged mountains.

Today, in Avery, one of the attractions is a railroad car, giving visitors a chance to experience what the interior of a passenger car was like when train travel was popular.  Here's a picture of the car:

The interior was much more interesting to me, both because of what I could see about the level of luxury for train passengers and because the light coming through the windows and the shadows that resulted were fun to shoot pictures of.  I found myself trying to get good pictures of this interplay and I may or may not have done a very good job documenting what the insides of this train car looked like.  I don't know my pictures well enough to say if I succeeded in evoking much in the way I shot the light and shadows.  You see what you think:

I really enjoyed being in Avery.  It's remote.  It's pretty interesting, especially historically.  And there were all kinds of good subject for pictures there.  Here are a few more:

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/11: Tamales, Sam Invades Oregon, I Had a Hammer(head)

1.  I took the Subaru over to the car cleaning place on 8th and Chambers and discovered a Mexican food cart nearby and really enjoyed the two tamales I scarfed down while waiting for the car to be cleaned.

2.  Samantha arrived safe and sound and on time in Portland and so her move to Oregon has begun.  As you can see, she is very happy to have arrived and is eager to start this new phase of her life:

3.  The Deke and Sam and I went to the 19th Street McMenamin's pub for some food and conversation.  I've been trying out a lot of different beers at Sixteen Tons and it was satisfying to come back to a beer that's been among my favorites for well over ten years:  Hammerhead.  Not only do I enjoy how Hammerhead tastes, a ton of really good memories are locked up in that beer.  They came alive when I took my fist draw on tonight's glass.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/11: Good Kidney News, Yi Shen Noodles, Crashing a Middleboro High School Reunion

1.  Okay.  Here's the deal.  I have Stage III chronic kidney disease. I was diagnosed about seven years ago and I don't know how long I'd had it before it was discovered.   I live (quite well) with 22% kidney function.  I had about 6% more function until I contracted pneumonia and c-diff back in 2009.  The dehydration cost me some kidney function.  For some reason unknown to any one, last March my kidney function dipped to 18%.  My kidney doctor (and I) hoped this was an anomaly and it turns out it was.  In fact, my function was back up to 22% when I saw my internist in early June.  The hope of my doctors and my hope is that I stay at this 22% level.  I saw my kidney doctor today and not only was my blood pressure really good -- a vital factor in managing this disease -- but my kidney function remained stable.  22% function.  This is very good news.  Stability.  That's what I want, in all things, really, but especially when in comes to my kidneys.

2.  Russell and I have been out of town through large chunks of August and September.  Not only have we not had a photo stroll for a while, but we've not been to Yi Shen for many weeks.  I ate lunch at Yi Shen today and the Vietnamese stir fried noodles with bbq pork not only satisfied my appetite, but reminded me of why Russell and I enjoy being one of the restaurant's weekly regulars.

3.   Jon Souza was in town today on business and so he and the Troxstar were getting together, having a mini high school reunion,  to watch the Pats play Miami and they invited me to join them.  It was calm and enjoyable at the Good Times tavern.  The beer and food were good.  The Massachusetts guys one table over were good guys.  Tom Brady was really good.  The Pats won.  Jon and the Troxstar and I had a lot of good laughs.  We ended the night by introducing Jon to Sixteen Tons and I enjoyed capping off the evening with a pint of Southern Tier Harvest Ale.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/11: Father Bingham's Sermon, Excellent Beers, Evensong Perspective

1.  Ten years ago hijackers blew up the World Trade Centers, crashed a jet in Pennsylvania, and ran a jet into the Pentagon.  I came to church this morning knowing that Father Bingham Powell would address this destruction and I wondered how.  He addressed it perfectly in his sermon, putting the variety of responses persons in our parish have had in the context of the Scripture readings from the lectionary, all focused, on forgiveness.  He didn't act like forgiveness is a simple or immediate act, but did explore what occurs within us when resentment dominates our inward being.  Again, nothing is simple, immediate, or uniform about forgiveness, or about the larger act of reconciliation.  I appreciated that Father Bingham Powell preached to the complexity of the Scripture readings and to the complexity of the day.  I thought he performed a difficult task beautifully. 

2.  After church, I strolled over to Sixteen Tons for two pints of beer, two beers I'd never tasted before:  a Pilsner Urquell and a Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest.  Both were not only tasty, but smooth, easy to drink, without an abundance of hops (I prefer less hoppy beers).  For about half of the first beer I sat and contemplated what I'd experienced in church and then the Troxstar appeared.  He had been at a Sunday School teachers meeting and knew I'd be at Sixteen Tons and, like me, was eager to give the Pilsner Urquell a try.  The Pilsner Urquell satisfied the Troxstar as well. 

3.  The Evensong service at St. Mary's gave worshipers a chance to pray and meditate upon forgiveness and reconciliation on the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center, the plane crash in Pennsylvania, and the deaths at the Pentagon.  The Holy Bible foresees a New Jerusalem.  I got to read one passage about this promised world that came from the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation.  Each of the service's prayers, each reading, each hymn was a measured and sane response to the grief, horror, and confusion that happened ten years ago.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/11: St. Mary's Breakfast, Land Trust Lager, Greeky Dinner

1.  I got to prepare the potatoes and then serve them to all the men and women who came to our twice monthly free breakfast at St. Mary's. 

2.  Before I went grocery shopping this afternoon, I stopped in at Sixteen Tons for a single pint of beer.  It was hard to stop at one because I so thoroughly enjoyed Oakshire's Land Trust Lager.  For me, it was a perfect answer to the unseasonable heat.  Not only was it more light than heavy, it was very tasty.  I stopped at one and got on with my duties to stock the pantry. 

3.  New dinner combo:  Greek salad and tri tips, prepared on the stove via the cast iron dutch oven.  It worked for me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/11: Photo Walk, Keg Run, A Cool Grand With the Troxstar

1.  I walked around downtown and into the Pearl District, taking photographs.  I ducked into the alley behind the liquor store on 8th and wondered why I hadn't ducked into this alley long ago and taken pictures of the brick building advertising Brenner's Furniture that sits between the liquor store and The Dining Room. It's a workplace.  I don't know what the employees do inside, but maybe one day I'll figure it out or someone can tell me.  But I enjoyed taking pictures all around it and will return.  For one thing, I want to take some pictures with a wider angle lens.   Here are a couple of shots from this building.

2.  The Troxstar swung by and we went over to Point Blank where he bought a keg of Hopworks Cool Grand for his Kegerator.  It was fun talking with Dale, the guy at Point Blank, and fun seeing the Troxstar score this beer that is a one time brew, the 1000th beer Hopworks has created.  Or something like that.

3.  The Troxstar and I drank a Cool Grand at his dining table and almost had everything in the world figured out, but he had to leave and go to a soccer match.  For the kids.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/11: Shirk Meal, Everyone's at Sixteen Tons!, Win for Once

1.  Scott and I met at 12:30 for lunch at Cafe Sienna and kept right on talking until past 2:30, getting everything in the worlds of music, theater, metaphysics, epistemology, radio, blogs, Shakespeare, Homer, and fantasy football figured out once and for all.  It's good we got this finished once and for all before Scott moves east later in the month.

2.  I found out today that Southern Tier Brewery brews a superb Harvest Ale, a classic English ESB, and as I was sipping on it at Sixteen Tons, imagining I was back in England, quaffing away, watching the Pearl District Block Party go on around me, in popped Katy and Ron.  We had a great visit, full of information, catching up, and great laughs.  I didn't know for sure that the Troxstar would pop in.  I was a little up in the air, but right in the middle of laughing with Ron, the Troxstar and CB appeared.  One pint.  Four friends. Lots of laughs.  Then, it was off to Billy Mac's.

3.  Friends are traveling right now, so the Deke and are were the only ones at Billy Mac's.  I tried the special, a bbq prime rib open face sandwich on sourdough.  Splendid.  The Deke left before and I said I thought I'd play a little video poker before coming on home.  The Deke tenderly commanded, "Win for once."  I gulped.  I put in a twenty and played and played up a little, then down, down a little more, under 10 bucks, and then I hit a $150.00 winner and came home, having cleared $130.00.  "Win for once", indeed.  :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/11: Errands and Photo Walk, Movie Talk, Consecration and Helle

1.  I walked around a lot today:  scouted pictures to take, shopped at the Kiva, shot some pictures, had blood drawn, and I went back to the tables outside The Strand and sat with a coffee and took some more pictures at 8th and Charnleton.  I don't think this is like a great photograph, but I like the sense of congeniality and purpose these three had as they came outside, their time together over, summed up what they had to say to each other, and moved on.

2.  MB, Jeff, and Michael got together for some conversation at the Wandering Goat and talked about all sorts of things, but our conversations about movies made me ache with pleasure.

3.  I went from the Wandering Goat over to Sixteen Tons.  I wanted to try one interesting sounding beer in particular and it turned out to be very different than I expected.  I'm learning at Sixteen Tons that the word "beer" is a much wider word than I have ever known before.  I thought back it 1979 when Eileen and I went to England for three months and I tried every Real Ale I could that I had sampled a lot of beer.  Those beers were all within a family of porters, bitters, IPAs, and other English beers.  The beers at Sixteen Tons go way beyond that and so every time I visit Sixteen Tons, I'm introduced to a fermented drink unlike any I've tasted before.  I walked in having decided that I wanted to have a glass of Russian River Consecration.  It's a wild ale, described at this way:

Sometimes Belgian influenced, American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to "wild" yeast or bacteria, such as: Brettanomyces (Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus or Brettanomyces Anomolus), Pediococcus or Lactobacillus. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various "sour mash" techniques. Regardless of which and how, these little creatures often leave a funky calling card that can be quite strange, interesting, pleasing to many, but also often deemed as undesirable by many.

Russian River's Consecration seemed almost like wine to me.  It had been aged in a cabernet barrel (I think) and this aging shaped its sour, winey taste.  I'd never drunk a sour ale before and Colin, who poured mine, told me this was a very intense one to start with.  I agree.  It was intense and, for me, so bewilderingly different from anything I'd ever drunk before, that I might just have to have another one day when I know better what to expect.

My second pint wasn't nearly so different.  I enjoyed a very slow pint of Big Al's Summer Helles.  I took my time for a couple of reasons.  First of all, Dane, a young guy who just moved here from the midwest, struck up a conversation with me.  That pleasantly slowed me down.  Secondly, after drinking Russian River's Consecration, my taste buds needed some recovery time to move out of the wild ale sourness into this beer which is more of a lager.  As my taste buds made the transition, I enjoyed Big Al's Summer Helle more and more. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/11: Taking Pictures at The Strand, Eggplant Heaven, Smoked Baltic Porter Pleasure

1.  I took my camera down to the Farmer's Market, but didn't feel like taking pictures there and then I walked over to The Strand at 8th and Charnelton, sat at a table outside, and snapped some pictures of the world around me.  One of my personal favorites, for its subject matter, was of this police jail van.  I wish it were clearer, but if you look closely you can see the cop in the passenger side is taking surveillance footage of people down the street on 8th.  I'm wondering if the cops were worried about the crowd gathering for the Family Dinner down at The Dining Room, run by Food for Lane County. I'm not sure.

2.  I had a hankering for eggplant and vaguely remembered a recipe for an eggplant sauce to serve over pasta.  I found the recipe, bought a bunch of tomatoes, garlic, and eggplant at the Kiva, a bunch of basil at the Farmer's Market and the sauce I made poured over penne was fantastic.  
3.  Before going to Nick and Helen's I bought a bottle of Smoked Baltic Porter, brewed by the Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver.  While I fixed dinner, this beer delighted my taste buds beyond my usual delight in drinking a porter.  And one was enough.  It was perfect.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/05/11: A Troxstar Trifecta -- Midnight in Paris, M and Sixteen Tons, Evening with Nick and Helen

1. I chauffeured the Troxstar to the Bijou Theater where we thoroughly enjoyed "Midnight in Paris".  When I'm not watching dark/indy/Palestinian-Israeli-Iranian/Sundance/bleak/existential/unsettling/downer movies, which are what I watch more of than anything else, I enjoy smart, beautifully filmed, wistful comedies, comic not only in being funny, but comedies in the way they explore what gives life its vitality, what robs life of vitality, as well as the mysteries of love.  "Midnight in Paris" was all of that.  I ached with pleasure throughout the movie and had the most pleasant flashbacks to one of my very favorite Woody Allen movies, "The Purple Rose of Cairo".  If you've seen both movies, I hope you understand how "Midnight in Paris" affectionately reminded me of the older film. 

2.  Next stop:  the Troxstar and I talked over the movie and a host of other things at Sixteen Tons over a couple of pints.  I began with a Gilgamesh Mamba from Turner, OR.  It's a hopless beer, which interested me a lot, and I enjoyed the effect of its alcohol content, but did not find it a particularly tasty beer.  It was fun to try, though.  It's the only beer I've ever drunk that was brewed with black tea (I don't know what that means).  My second beer was entirely satisfying.  I had a pint of Boneyard Wit Shack, a Belgian white beer brewed in Bend. I really liked M, the woman pouring at Sixteen Tons.  She's seen "Midnight in Paris" -- loved it -- , knew what I was talking about when I mentioned "Purple Rose of Cairo" to the Troxstar while we waited to order, and she played Maurice Chevalier on the sound system as a tribute to France and Paris and the movie.  M reviews beers online in the sequential tradition:  she present her reviews in cartoon form, here

3.  I completed today's Troxstar Trifecta when Randy and I, later joined my Mme. Troxstar, whizzed up to see Nick and Helen for a few hours of enjoyable conversation and a couple of Belgian beers. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/95/11: Troxstar Daily Double, Perfect Greek Salad, InnerTubing

1.  The Troxstar and I hit the daily double today.  We went to St. Mary's for the 11:00 service and went across the street and east about a block or so and drank a couple of very fresh local ales at Sixteen Tons.  I enjoyed a glass of New Belgium Lips of Faith Clutch and a pint of Portland-u-Brew Say What?!? Saison.  I don't talk beer talk.  I can only say both beers were refreshing, unusual (in a good way), and remarkably fun to drink.

2.  I bought feta cheese, four fat fresh tomatoes, cucumber, green and red bell peppers, red onion, Kalamata olives, parsley, pita bread, and six domas at the Kiva and came home and made the Deke and me a Greek salad with a side of domas and pita bread.  Deke summed up our dinner about six times:  "Perfect."

3.  I had fun breaking out of my usual World Wide Web habits and read articles about Jerry Lewis, found more photoblogs to admire, and ventured farther and wider than usual on the innertubes.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/03/11: Brain Pickings and Motivation, Crossing Into Chard Land, Jeff!

1.  I spent a lot of time looking at posts on Brain Pickings.   It's my favorite website.  The posts are cogent and well illustrated with graphics, pictures, and videos and point readers to books and lectures covering a variety of subjects including Mad Magazine, typography, the history of cities, capitalism, graphic design, psychology, and culture.  My list is hardly exhaustive.  My favorite video today was an RSAnimation of Daniel Pink's lecture, here, on motivation in the work place.  He explains how monetary incentives can actually deter productivity, unless the work is material production, and that people in the workplace are most motivated by the desire for self direction or autonomy, the desire for mastery, and by with a sense of larger purpose, of making a contribution to the betterment of one's world, of the lives of others.  It wasn't the gaining of new insight that made it my favorite today.  In my work, it's been some variant upon these three motivators that has driven my best work and I've known it for many years.  In fact, for as long as I can remember, when I've been asked what I value most in my workplace, my immediate answer has been, "Autonomy".  

But, I've been discouraged in my work over the last few years.  My autonomy as an instructor has eroded as the institutions that govern my work, especially at the state and local level, as well as the entities that accredit our work, place more and more emphasis on program concerns, on coherence and consistency spelled out in shared outcomes, leaving fewer decisions about what to teach (especially, in composition) and how to go about it to the instructor.  We are less self-directed.  This limits the range of mastery I work toward in my instruction.  The sense of purpose I once had as an instructor, especially when it comes to helping students write fearlessly and developing a love for writing, has been hampered by mandates from the state and the institution I work for. 

I'll reduce my comments down to the categories Pirsig explores in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".  My approach to instruction is more romantic than classical.  Institutions are rarely romantic and since the institutions have imposed themselves more into my syllabus and dictated more explicitly what they want my courses to accomplish, my sense of self direction, mastery, and purpose has diminished.  It's not gone by any means, but I did better work when I was left to my own devices.  And my students wrote better papers.

2.  Until today, the Deke has always been our chard chef.  That ended today.  I brought home chard from the Kiva, got some instructions from the Deke, and succeeded.  I added zucchini, mushrooms, spinach/feta sausage, and broccoli to the chard.  It's a great meal and got even better with cold sliced tomatoes and cold beets, the ones I had boiled a little earlier in the day.

3.  I was reading Brain Pickings, looking at videos, keeping an eye on the score of the Univ. of Oregon football game when suddenly, in my Facebook chat box, Jeff S. appeared and we had a great conversation about longtime friends, colleges, and the mysteries of spirituality. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/02/11: The Troxstar Surveys His City, Electric Frying Pan Annivesary, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

1.  A fairly normal day suddenly was elevated to extraordinary.  He was hiding behind sunglasses, his Willy on a leash,  outside the Kiva, calmly surveying his city, blending in, calling no attention to himself, being like an everyday guy:  yes, I saw and then talked to the Troxstar late this afternoon.  BONUS:  We were soon joined by Mme. Troxstar.  It was the perfect trifecta.  Troxstar, Mme. Troxstar, and Willy.  I almost called it quits for the day.  I almost jumped in the car, headed home, and went to bed.  My day peaked early.

2.  In my search for post-Troxstar meaning and fulfillment, I headed to the kitchen.  After all, I had bought a bag of groceries at the Kiva and the Deke had requested that we eat some lean ground beef accompanied by onions, mushrooms, zucchini, snow peas, and red pepper.  On the one-year anniversary of having purchased my electric frying pan, I cooked the Deke the dinner she requested.  Her response, and I quote, "Perfect."

3.  I was feeling pretty chipper after the perfect meal and thinking that I could stay awake and make the rest of my hours of this day meaningful in the wake of the Troxstar Experience, so I decided to watch a documentary film I'd been thinking about since it came out:  "Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29".  It's a look back at the 1968 Yale-Harvard football game, a game whose significance was magnified by both teams coming into the last game of the season undefeated for the first time since 1908.  I enjoy football a lot, so it was thrilling to watch the game itself unfold as the movie developed.  The heart of the movie, though, is the interviews with about fifty of the players as they look back, not only on the game, but on the experience of being a college student in 1968.  I was left with one small question.  Because I've been a football fan for nearly fifty years, I loved the football in the movie.  I wondered to myself whether a person who were indifferent to football would also enjoy the thrill of the game and the absorbing interviews that give the movie its soul.  I read one non-football fan reviewer who did.  I wondered about all my friends at school who aren't interested in football but love documentaries and social history.  Would this movie work for them?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/11: Men Who Stare at Goats, Cutter's Way, Talking and Eating

1.  For me, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" was a lot of fun.  It was like watching a blend of "Airplane", "Apocalypse Now", "Dr. Strangelove", and "King of Hearts".  I enjoyed the movie as a send up of the absurdity of the USA in Iraq, as a send up of paranormality, and of New Age male "sensitivity" and self-absorption.  Every time I watch George Clooney in a movie, I admire him more.  I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Bridges as well. I needed some relief from the dark-indy-Palestinian-Sundance movies I had been watching.  "The Men Who Stare at Goats" was welcome relief. 

2.  Watching Jeff Bridges in "The Men Who Stare at Goats" inspired me to watch him in a movie when he was younger.  I remembered that "Cutter's Way" was available for instant viewing on Netflix, and am I ever happy I watched this movie again for the, well, let's say, umm, twelfth time (at least).  It was better than ever.  I've been living with this movie since January of 1982 when I first saw it at the Cinema 7 and then when I owned a copy, videotaped off of Spotlight with my BetaMax.  Back in 1982, I had seen, and admired,  John Heard in "Between the Lines", "Heart Beat", and "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (aka "Head over Heels") and his performance in "Cutter's Way" made me think I'd see him in great leading roles for years to come. 

Watching this movie today, I once again wondered why no one ever again let John Heard let it rip the way Ivan Passer did in this movie.  Never again did I see John Heard play a role where his character was as verbally adroit, manic, seething, dangerous, obsessive, hyperactive, cunning, manipulative, and raw as Alex Cutter in "Cutter's Way". 

(If you'd like to read a plot summary of the movie, go to and look up "Cutter's Way". )

For me, the enduring power of the movie isn't so much the pursuit of the murder case, but the portrayal of Mo, Alex, and Richard, all in their late twenties, early thirties, drifting through their days, Mo numbed by booze and loneliness, Richard a sex shell, and Alex a crippled, half-blinded alcoholic Vietnam vet, driven by anger, imagination, and a thirst for justice and revenge.  The scenes between Lisa Eichorn, Jeff Bridges, and John Heard are complex in the movie's portrayal of ennui, of jaded despair, of three aimless young adults drinking, having sex, talking about sex, making jaded chit chat, indulging in some violence, filling the void with what's at hand -- including Alex's obsession with a murder, a murder whose aftermath was witnessed by Richard Bone.  If you are still reading this rambling Beautiful Thing, I'll tell you that at about the 1:40 mark of a movie about 1:44 long, I think the movie goes a little sideways.  It jumps the shark.  But, for me, it's rescued by the movie's compelling final image, its closing black out.

3.  Michael, MB, and I met at the Wandering Goat and talked about a wide variety of things including what happened in court on Monday.  Jeff arrived late and couldn't stay long, so we got him caught up and soon after he left, I said I had to go so I could meet Micahel, Pam, and the Deke at Billy Mac's where I took a chance on the Ranchero Prime Rib, a special on the menu, and I enjoyed it very much.  I left hoping that one day I can have a straight ahead prime rib at Billy Mac's.  That meat was splendid.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/11: Down to the Bone, Corner Market and Dinner, Stare at Goats

1.  This morning I read Anthony Lane's review of Vera Farmiga's new film, "Higher Ground" (she stars and directs). In it, Lane listed the different contemporary women (Streep, Weaver, Foster, Moore, Blanchett) in contemporary movies who would have made the George Cukor cut for casting in his mid-20th century movies.  Lane finished completed his list with Vera Farmiga and I couldn't place her, largely, I suppose, because I haven't seen "Up in the Air".  Then, later in the day, I got myself situated to watch Debra ("Winter's Bone") Granik's first movie, "Down to the Bone" and, unknown to me, the working-class, cocaine-addicted, struggling mother/wife/grocery store checker at the center of the movie was Vera Farmiga.  I won't forget her.  The movie (like "Winter's Bone") is bleak, gray, and unsettling.  Whatever hope one might see in Irene's story is unsentimental, hard-earned, incremental, tiny, and, in its own way, profound.  Vera Farmiga's performance is stunning:  she creates an Irene who is tough, weak, tender, cold, smart, stupid, lost, broken, courageous, cowardly, loving, trusting, deceitful, brazen, wary, honest, well, in short, complex and complicated.  The story, the movie's photographic qualities, Vera Farmiga's performance, and the movie's exploration of the intersection between drugs, work, family, longing, sex, friendship, and whatever rehab/recovery is or means will stay with me.

2.  I wanted to buy some produce from a local market today and discovered The Corner Market at the corner of River Road and Thomason Lane.  The produce comes from Sweet Leaf Farm.  I enjoyed shopping at The Corner Market.  Later in the afternoon, and after a stop at the remodeled and newly spacious Kiva Market, I fried a single slice of bacon, sweet onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, blanched green beans, and spinach/feta chicken sausage together and it as delicious.

3. I didn't make it all the way through the movie yet, but after watching "Runaway Jury", "Winter's Bone", "Down the Bone", and "Rana's Wedding" over the past week, I decided I'd try something and little bit lighter and so far, after about forty minutes or so, I'm getting a kick out of "Men Who Stare at Goats".   I sure enjoy George Clooney and, of course, Jeff Bridges.