Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/30/12: Work Done, Honey Orange Relaxation, Spaghetti Night at Billy Mac's

1.  I arrived at school early, just after 7 a.m., and went through all my students' folders and had all their work ready to return at 10 and 12.

2.  On my drive home from work, I knew a 22 oz. bottle of Track Town Honey Orange Wheat Ale awaited me and drinking it was the perfect refreshment, the perfect way to relax at home.

3.  It was getting close to seven o'clock and the Deke had eaten and didn't need my help and I was hungry and suddenly I remembered that Tuesday is spaghetti night at Billy Mac's so  I zoomed right over and enjoyed a delicious bowl of pasta and sweet marinara meat sauce with Parmesan cheese and a hunk of garlic bread.  I also enjoyed that the NBA is back, although seeing how strong Miami looked against the Celtics made me shudder.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/12: Knee Rest, NYC Photos, Fall Color

1.  The Deke stayed home to rest her knee and went to the doctor who told her that she should keep resting it and stay off of it.  The good news?  No one is talking (yet) about surgery.

2.  While the Deke was seeing the doctor, I looked at photos I took last July in NYC and saw some quality in some of the pictures that I had missed before.  This excited me.

3.  I went for a solo photo stroll and with my Tamron lens and took some pictures of fall colors in the neighborhood where I live.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/12: Honey Orange Wheat Ale, The S. F. Giants, Pert's Kids Pay Tribute

1.  I've really got a thing for Track Town's Honey Orange Wheat Ale.  I popped one open this afternoon after church and it was perfectly refreshing and relaxing.  I've got another in the ice box for the next time the time is right.

2.  The Giants won the World Series.  Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the 2010 and 2012 Giants are poster teams for the post-Barry Bonds, post-steroids era of baseball.  Did the Giants win this World Series with the long ball?  After the first game, not really.  They won with great pitching, timely small ball hitting, and superb defense -- which means they positioned their defense intelligently for each Detroit hitter and for what their pitchers were going to throw.  Defensively, this is what teamwork means in baseball.  To many, baseball doesn't appear to be a team sport.  The pitcher and hitter are facing each other one on one.  Plays in the field are (supposedly) made by individuals.  Look deeper at the Giants and you'll see a team that epitomized how teamwork works in baseball.  It's the style of baseball I enjoy the most. 

3.  My sisters and I celebrated our father's birthday by posting YouTubes to each other of stuff he famously loved:  "Misty", "Drop Kick Me Jesus", Roger Whittaker, Archie Bunker, Heidelberg beer ads, John Brodie, "Help Me Make It Through the Night", Tom T. Hall, "A Christmas Song" and on and on.  I laughed out loud and teared up, alternatively.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Pert

Raymond Harold "Pert" Woolum 10-28-1930-June 1, 1996

Had my father not died sixteen years ago, he would have turned eighty-two years old today.

One of the really fun things about returning home to Kellogg is running into the many people who knew Dad and are eager to tell me how much they enjoyed him.

Even more fun is when I meet someone who doesn't know me but knew my dad.  It happened on Labor Day just last month.

I was at a get together and met one of the Waldo brothers, either Dave or Jon (I confuse them), and when Ed introduced me to him, we shook hands and it happened.

A slow smile came over his face.

"Jesus Christ.  Are you Pert's kid?"

"Yeah.  I sure am."

"No shit.  Man...." The smile grew.  "I loved that man.  We had more goddamn fun on that golf course....."

He shook his head, chuckling.

"Yeah. Dad told great stories about you guys."

Those stories Dad told were never about golfing success.  They were stories about wild drives, lost balls, coolers of beer, epic failures, and time spent at the 19th hole.

Whether Dad was on the front nine, the back nine, or at the 19th hole, he loved to give his friends shit, laugh at stories and stuff that happened, and make grandiose statements.

 Dad loved it when people gave him shit.

Jake loves to tell me the story about when our friend Boob brought a Japanese kid home to Kellogg from the U.S. Navy.

For reasons I'll never understand, Dad started calling this young soldier "Chicken Yamaguchi".  I think Dad used to tell a joke that went something like, "Do you know the name of the only surviving Kamikazi pilot?"  The answer:  "Chicken Yamaguchi".  Go figure.  But I think that joke is where the name came from.

Anyway, Boob's friend asked Boob, "Who is this guy and why does he keep calling me Chicken Yamaguchi?"

Boob answered, "He's a family friend.  I've known him all my life.  Just go over and call him a Fat One-Eyed Son of a Bitch.  See what happens."

So, the kid did that and Dad laughed and laughed and put his arm around the soldier and said something to the effect of "You're all right, kid" and before long was inviting him to have dinner at our house, stay with us if he ever needed a place, and probably was ready to put him in his will.

Dad was overweight.  That's why people called him fat.  He was blind in one eye and loved being called Fat, One-Eyed, and a Son of a Bitch.

On the golf course, he'd hit a lousy shot and someone would flip him shit about his belly.

Dad's classic response:  "Keep it up, pup.  Just remember, it all turns to cock at midnight."

I must have heard him tell that one a million times and every time the words "cock at midnight" escaped his lips, no matter how many times friends and fellow golfers had heard it before, they laughed like he'd said it for the first time.

Dad's death makes me think about a heaven of my own imagining.

I imagine Dad in a place in heaven reserved for perfect bullshitters.  Mike Turner is there.  So is Art Listoe. And Dick Costa.  Bob Turnbow has gained entry. Many more Kellogg men are there.  Recently, Floyd Williams and Ralph Braun found their way to a table or a corner of a bar where weak coffee is served and the bullshit flies.

It's what Dad lived for:  shooting the shit, giving people shit, and getting shit back.

He loved his friends and he loved to laugh.

It's why when I meet people back in Kellogg who knew my dad, but didn't know me, they get a far away look, smile, shake their head, chuckle, and say, "No shit. You're Pert's kid?  I loved that man."

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/12: Comfort Food, Pitching Rotation, Jayson Stark on the Giants

1.  The Deke, being uncomfortable with her knee out of commission, wanted comfort food and I suggested the recipe in the Cook's cookbook for chili macaroni.  Perfect!  So I combined the ground beef, onion, red pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, tomato products, brown sugar, and macaroni in the cast iron skillet and topped in with shredded Mexican cheese and the Deke was comforted.

2.  I enjoy it when sports talk/sports writing conventional wisdom is wrong.  I hear this stuff and I say to myself, "It can't be that simple."  For example, as the World Series was getting underway, the repeated conventional wisdom among sports experts was that the Giants were in trouble because their seven game series against the Cardinals meant that they couldn't set their pitching rotation the way they wanted it in the World Series.  Their ace, Matt Cain, wouldn't be able to pitch until game 4.  Well, here it is, game 4, and the "lower" pitchers in the Giants' rotation pitched splendidly and the Giants have their ace available to possibly clinch the Series on Sunday.  I'm very happy that conventional wisdom was so wrong.

3.  Speaking of the World Series, I really enjoyed this piece by's Jayson Stark.  It places the performance of the Giants in the first three games in historical perspective with some astonishing facts and makes the argument that this is a really old-fashioned team:  winning with pitching and defense.  I enjoyed the videoblog that accompanies this article, as well.  It's fun to see Jayson Stark be so excited about such a solid, unglamorous, Old School team. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Three Beautiful Things, 10/26/12: Mr. Mme. Diedrich Again, Canceled Trip, Billy Mac's Contentment

1.  My stint as the Deke's teaching assistant, as Mr. Madame Diedrich, was briefer today.  I gave a thirty word spelling challenge test to two students who made me laugh as they talked about the challenges of cursive writing and spontaneously revealed their mnemonic devices for remembering how to spell certain words. 

2.  The Deke is on the disabled list.  She can't walk.  She barely hobbles around on crutches.  Hurricane/tropical storm Sandy is about to his the eastern seaboard.  The Deke agonized over how to make the trip she had planned to New York and D.C. work and, by the end of the afternoon, she decided not to go and will use her ticket at another date when she's healed up and a hurricane isn't bearing down on the area she is planning to travel.  From my point of view, she made the right decision, hard as it was to arrive at.

3.  Billy Mac's really is our go to place for comfort and reliable food and drinks and after the Deke's afternoon of difficult decision making, she and I immediately agreed we would go to Billy Mac's.  I had one of those perfect sit downs where the hefeweizen, hot chicken strips, and dinner salad not only hit the spot, made gave me a sense of contentment, of relaxation. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/12: Fourth Grade Assistant, Debriefing, Allie's Birthday Pie

1.  The Deke is on the disabled list with a mysterious knee injury -- it just gave out and she is on crutches-- so I not only took her to school today, I was her teaching assistant in the classroom.  I enjoyed reading aloud to the whole class from Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam and having a private reading session with Habibatou.  I helped her with her reading of Little House on the Prairie

2.  The Deke and I discussed our day at school at Billy Mac's over a generous hummus plate and a couple of drinks. 

3.  Later at Billy Mac's, our table celebrated Allie's birthday with the arrival of a chocolate cream pie emblazoned with five candles.  Allie was wide-eyed and happy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/12: Bank Success, Picture Project, Porketta Surprise

1.  When things work out at the bank, I like it.  I knew they would, but, still, the funds supporting a check I was depositing had to be confirmed and I enjoyed witnessing the newish teller who helped me learn the steps she had to follow to confirm the funds, succeed in following them, and beam when she told me, "It's all good!  The deposit is recorded.  The funds are yours."

2.  I'm going through all my picture folders and files.  They reach back to November 2006!  I am identifying pictures that I think are worthy of printing and to use for other possible projects.  It's a bit tedious, but brings back a lot of memories and reminds me of some pictures I've taken that I really like and have forgotten about.   Here's one of them: 

Ha! I don't know what bemused these guys, but I love this moment and I love that the flag they love so much is in the background. 

3.  That petite porketta I referred to yesterday?  I put it in the crock pot with some leftover cooked chicken, a chopped up sweet onion, mushrooms, chopped zucchini, a chopped sweet potato,  a sectioned honeycrisp apple, and leftover cooked brown rice.  I put some water in the crock pot, turned it on, put on the lid and what resulted was a sweet, mighty tasty pork stew.  The porketta was seasoned by the butcher, but I didn't put any other seasonings in the pot and the sweetness of the pork, the apple, the sweet potato, and the pork combined to make a splendid dinner,  a result not of a recipe, but of my instincts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/12: Family Tree, Petite Porketta, GT

1.  I decided to have my students write about the short film, "Family Tree" and I don't know if they enjoyed it, but I loved seeing it twice today, making it about 400 times that I've seen it.

2.  I asked the butcher at the Market of Choice for the smallest porketta in the case and he found one so small that I hadn't even seen it.  Perfect!  A one pound porketta for the Deke and me. 

3.  I came home and got the groceries put away and the kitchen readied for cooking dinner and poured myself a gin and tonic and then a few more and Janna and the Deke arrived and they wanted some gin and tonic and the wound down and I cooked dinner and Janna went home and Deke and I ate and it was a very relaxing evening. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/12: McGovern, Photos, Billy MacBliss

1.  I enjoyed a 7:45 grande Pike and an orange cranberry scone at Starbucks while reading the NY Times.  I enjoyed one tribute to George McGovern in particular, here

2.  I've started a project of looking over the thousands of pictures I've taken since '06, deciding which are print worthy.  I took a lot of very mediocre pictures, but when a pretty good one pops up, it's gratifying and satisfying.

3.  The Deke and I had a great late afternoon at Billy Mac's:  we each at a Caesar salad and split an order of hot shrimp and I thoroughly enjoyed a rum and coke followed by a couple of Widmer Brothers' Hefeweizen and, maybe even more, I enjoyed keeping an eye on the Giants trouncing the Cardinals. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/12: NFL, Lil Cooperstown, Wildflowers

1.  Until some time in the early afternoon, Jim Byrd and his son Nick and I watched NFL football on DirectTV and I experienced for the first time the way DirectTV shows about seven games at once with constant cut aways and double screens.  Awesome.

2.  Jim and I went up the road a ways to Lil Cooperstown and watched the second half of the Pats/Jets while on a screen on down the bar the Jags and the Raiders battled.  Terry Turner joined us for a beer and some gab before he had to leave to have dinner with family.  Lil Cooperstown was packed with sports pictures, everything from Ted Williams in a home run trot to Ali turning on Foreman, about to knock him out.  Awesome.

3.  Tom Petty and Heartbreakers' album "Wildflowers" made the drive home from West Linn easy and totally awesome. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/12: Beer Tour, New to Oregon, On Her Own Terms

1.  It was fun touring a few spots in the Greater Portland Metropolitan Area with Jimmy Byrd for a handful of beers:  McMenamin's at West Linn, Rock Bottom in downtown Portland, High Rocks in Gladstone, and the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City. 

2.  Jim and I had great conversation with our server at Rock Bottom.  She left Wisconsin a few months ago to move to Portland; she loves the Oregon outdoors and loves the Packers.  She's a Deadhead, too, making Portland a good place to be in the days of Furthur.

3.  Where we were sitting at the Rock Bottom put Jim in the way, sometimes, of Bethany and Sara and the fellas they were with while they played pool.  Bethany would ask Jim to move, he'd stand up, she'd scratch his back a little, and shoot her shot.  It was all fun. As we got ready to leave, Bethany insisted having her picture taken with us and then with Sara and Jim and me.  After the pictures, Sara hung around me and Jim a little longer to tell us that Bethany was terminally ill with intestinal cancer and being out with her friends, having her picture taken with us, asking for a little kiss on the cheek was all helping her leave life on her own terms. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/12: Coffee Talk, Godspeed Em, Everybody's Cash Stout

1.  Debbi C. and I had a wonderful hour long conversation over coffee about writing, going to school, and what the future might hold for her. 

2.  The Troxstar, the MarlaStar, Em and I met for a fine breakfast and Brails and bade Emily farewell as she heads off to live on the other side of the country and run a tasting room at a brewery.

3.  The Deke and I met at Cornucopia.  The chicken wings were really good and our conversation was stellar.  So was Everybody's Cash Stout Oatmeal Stout from White Salmon, WA.  Loved it.

Three Beautiful Things 10/18/12: Good Mood, Small Town Virtues, Deke's Quilt

1.  I finished reading the Photography Project essay my WR 115 students and it was fun conducting class in the good mood those papers put me in. 

2.  Brent hung around after class and wanted to talk about the virtues of growing up in a small town and he was happy for me that I'd be getting together with Jim Byrd this weekend, continuing a friendship that's nearly fifty years old.

3.  Highlight at Billy Mac's?  The Deke gave a showing of her latest quilt.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/12: Furnace, Project, Steak

1.  The furnace guy came, did some routine maintenance and cleaning, and now we are ready for cooler temperatures.

2.  I enjoyed reading those photography project papers my WR 115 students wrote. 

3.  I decided to play around with my petite sirloin steak and put Greek seasoning on it, squeezed lemon juice on it, and topped it with feta cheese.  It worked.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/12: Bus Ride Book, Greek Freestyle, Done with Season Four

1.  I started a wonderful book, A Meaningful Life by L. J Davis, on my bus ride to LCC this morning and on the ride home.  Reading books might be the thing I enjoy most about being a bus rider again.

2.  I threw together a couple of chopped baked baby reds, leftover broccoli from last night, brown rice, and egg and cooked it all together and added cucumber and feta cheese after it was cooked.  I seasoned it with Greek seasoning and was pleased that such a freestyle concoction could taste so good.

3.  I finished the fourth season of The Wire.  Holy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/2012: Curried Tofu, Walking the Tamron (Again), Roast Beef

1.  I composed 3BTs and a remembrance of Dorothy Bergquist and published them in my blog, taking occasional breaks to prepare fried curried diced tofu.  I topped the tofu with a chopped tomato and it made a terrific breakfast.

2.  I took my Tamron lens for another walk today and took care of a couple of bits of business at the bank and at LTD.  My pictures weren't great, but that was all right.  I was primarily concerned with how I worked with light, how I adjusted shudder speed, and I improved in that area today.

3.  I cooked a sirloin tip roast with onions, baby red potatoes, and broccoli.  I enjoyed, on this rainy afternoon, being able to use the oven again, and I enjoyed cooking food that please both the Deke and me.

Remembering Dorothy Bergquist

Dorothy Bergquist, whom I knew for many years as a fellow parishioner at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, died peacefully on October 1, 2012.   Her funeral was two days ago, on the 13th, and as I mourned her death and felt the happiness of her life, especially as eulogized by Father Ted Berktold.

I have held onto a story about an experience I had with Dorothy many years ago and the story kept coming back to me during the funeral.  I've always known that what happened that day was very simple, but it has had a lasting, I'd say profound, impact on me, but I've kept it private.

I'll tell it now.

It happened sometime around 1985 or '86, maybe even '87.  I was in my early thirties.  The fact is that the demise of my first marriage in 1981-82 continued to deeply trouble me.  Despite having good friends, both men and women, and despite having been in a few serious relationships with women, I continued to feel nagging despair, loneliness, and, most of all, confusion.

The divorce I went through in 1981-82 significantly fragmented my spiritual life and my Christian faith.  I held onto enough shards of faith that I never stopped, even if it was minimal, practicing Christianity and, sometimes, attending St. Mary's Episcopal church, but I couldn't find peace.  I couldn't find relief from the pain of the divorce nor from the pain of broken relationships with a few women after the divorce.

I looked to the church for comfort.  I attended services sporadically.  I began attending the Eucharist at the Campus Ministry House.  Sometimes I went to the meeting of the St. Luke's healing prayer group.  I also, on occasion, went to Wednesday morning Eucharist.

Dorothy assisted with the Wednesday morning Eucharist, and, if I remember correctly, when Father Berktold couldn't be there, she led us in Morning Prayer.

I don't know how often I attended these services, but here's what I do remember.

Right away Dorothy reminded me of someone from my years growing up and I cannot remember for the life of me who it was. All I know is that just her appearance, the way she conducted herself at Wednesday Eucharist, the way she read scripture or read prayers was comforting to me. 

I trusted her. 

One Wednesday morning, I came to the Eucharist in a particularly pronounced state of spiritual and emotional agitation.  I tried not to communicate it, tried to keep it to myself, but I was on the verge of tears and was very confused and I was lonely in my agitation.

As the service progressed, I pulled deeper inside myself while, at the same time, experienced comfort in the liturgy, in the prayers and readings that were so familiar to me.

When it came time for the passing of the peace, I rose from my pew and I was hungry for peace.  I went from person to person, shaking hands, exchanging the words, "Peace be with you" or "Peace of the Lord".

I don't know what Dorothy saw in my face or in posture, but she wordlessly refused the shaking of my hand and embraced me, put her arms around me, and held me tight for several seconds.

My back and shoulders trembled and I fought back tears. 

Dorothy didn't know my name, she just stepped back, my elbows in her hands, and quietly said, "The peace of the Lord be with you."

All I could do was nod.

That embrace did more than make me feel better.  It helped me feel both physically and spiritually that I belonged in the fellowship of this church and the union of the mystical Body of Christ.  

That embrace is still with me.  I still feel it in my back and shoulders and elbows and in my hands.

My memory has forgotten details of that time in my life, but my body remembers.

It remembers Dorothy's care.

My body remembers her tenderness. 

It remembers, and I often return to, that everliving moment of grace.

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/12: Money Sermon, NY State of Mind, Steelhead Satisfaction

1.  Loren Crow delivered a profound sermon on biblical concepts of money today.   I can hardly wait until it appears in print so I can pore over it more and review the passages from the Bible he so eloquently illuminated and drew upon to support his central argument: what we "own" is a gift.  Money helps us meet our needs, but, biblically speaking, it's not to be clung to, but to be shared.  My summation doesn't do Loren Crow's sermon justice. 

2.  I guess I was in a New York state of mind this afternoon as I read about parks in the Bronx, studied more subway train lines, refreshed some memories of being in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and returned to Chris Arnade (here and here).

3.  The Deke and I decided to go to the Steelhead for a relaxing drink and a bite to eat and it was quietly blissful.  We talked about our future some more.  I love Steelhead's Orange Wheat Ale.  It tasted perfect with the twelve pack of hot chicken wings I ate.  Quiet.  Tasty.  Good conversation.  Fineness.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/12: Dorothy's Funeral, Brown Ale, Tigers

1.  I experienced the funeral for Dorothy Bergquist and the interment of her ashes in the columbarium in the chapel as a perfect mourning of Dorothy being gone to us, a perfect celebration of her vitality and goodness, and a perfect immersion into the music that animated her life and touched all those with whom she shared it. 

2.  These days I just don't want much of a hop presence in the beer I drink and lately the brown ales have suited me.  The Deke and I went over to Cornucopia for an hour or so just to sit and relax and I enjoyed two 12 oz bottles of Lost Coast Brewery's Downtown Brown.  My favorite beers tend, in one way or another, to transport me back to the informal beer tour I took of England back in 1979, drinking ales all over the country for three months.  Brown ale does that, making it a pleasing beer in multiple ways.

3.  I was tracking the Tigers and Yankees online and figured after the Nats' loss and the Stanford loss, that another team I was rooting for was going to get beat in a miserable way.  I fell asleep in the 11th after Ichiro and Ibanez both homered to tie the game in the 9th.  I woke up about 2 a.m. and debated whether to go online and see in what inning the Tigers finally lost the game.  I went for it.  I was wrong!  The Tigers won.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the score.  I was also shocked by the terrible injury to Derek Jeter.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/12/12: Walkin' the Tamron, Brails Espresso House, Holy Jack Buck!

1.  I attached my Tamron 28 mm, 2.5ff on my D3100 today and took it for a stroll.  It's a manual lens so I couldn't rely on any of the auto stuff I rely on with the lenses I use more frequently.  Everything was hit or miss, for the most part -- mostly miss -- but I enjoy this lens and I like shooting manually, even if I'm lousy at it.  I try to wrap my head around the light and the f stop and the shutter speed and ISO and the cool thing is that when I succeed, it feels pretty good.  None of my pictures were that great, but here's one I'll post just for old time's sake.

2.  MB, JH, and MM and I tried out the espresso house at Brails and it was a very relaxing place to sit and, for an hour or an hour and a half or so pretend like we are the four smartest people who ever rode tall into Dodge.  It was a great time.

3.  Sometimes I like to go to Billy Mac's and sit at the bar, have a few beers, eat some appetizers, and watch a ball game.  I did that this evening.  First I had the bbq chicken appetizer special and then I had hot shrimp.  I shot the breeze a little with Derrick and John and Cathy.  I enjoyed the early innings of what turned out to be the remarkable baseball game between the Nats and the Cards.  I would have needed CPR if I'd stayed and watched the entire game.  Holy Jack Buck!  What a comeback by the Cardinals!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/11/12: Photo Writing, Billy Mac's Gab, So Long Emily and Colin (and Hi Kelly!)

1.  Those portraits I took of all my WR 115 students?  Now they are writing an essay about what the surface of the picture reveals than anyone can see and what's in the picture beyond the surface that they know to be true about themselves and the person in that picture.  It's a here's what's true but there's more than meets the eye essay. 

2.  I always like it when a good sized group of friends pop in at Billy Mac's on Thursday evening.  It was different tonight.  Pam, the Deke, and I had a table to ourselves and had a great time talking about the state of the world we live in and what a better place it would be if we were in charge.  Ha!

3.  I popped into Sixteen Tons to help a crowd of youthful beer enthusiasts say good by to Colin and Em.  I figured I'd say good by to them, have a beer or two and head on home.  I figured wrong.  I met some new people, had a bunch of conversations, talked with Emily and Colin and Jesse and just when I had decided it was time to head on home, in walked Kelly and Jason and I couldn't leave and so Kelly and Jason and I grabbed a table and talked and talked and Kelly's fellow Trader Joe's employees dropped by and we had a great time.  I got to see both Colin and Em on my way out the was a great night and I'll miss those guys...I'm glad they are off to do good things.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Three Beautful Things, 10/10/12: Fall Walk, Kind Priest, New Fry Pan

1.  I enjoyed a sunshiny autumn walk to Wells Fargo, where I got the information I needed, to Sixteen Tons, where I visited Emily while she worked her last shift before moving to Connecticut, and to the Kiva, where I bought tomatoes, cucumbers, and kalamata olives for a brown rice salad. 

2.  I presented my thoughts about reading aloud to the LEMs and lectors tonight and afterward Father Bingham Powell was kind to tell me that he has put some of my thoughts into practice and he noticed a change for the better in how he articulated Sunday's service and was praised by people in church who noticed the improvement.  It made me very happy to hear this.

3.  I have a long=standing love affair with my electric fry pan.  When I arrived home tonight, I discovered the Deke bought me another one, a small one, suited for those occasions when I am cooking for myself.  It's a great surprise and look forward to cooking with it -- as soon as I get the proper food. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/09/12: Foster Child Advocate, Kidney Stability, Butte Talk

1.  Lauren was a student of mine last year and while I was eating some breakfast in the cafeteria, she came over to say hi and when I asked her about her summer she told me about how, as a former foster child, she was advocating for foster children and had done so in both New Orleans and Washington, D. C.  With her intelligence and eloquence, I've got to think she's very effective in her presentations.

2.  I saw my primary doctor today and the news was the best I can hope for.  I'll always have severe kidney disease, but my kidney numbers are remaining stable.  That's what I hope for each check up: that my condition, which can't improve much, isn't getting worse. 

3.  I met up with Em and the Troxstar at the Rogue Ale House and two people the Troxstar knows from the world of compost toilets joined us and, lo and behold, Matt and I had a great talk about Butte and Kellogg and mine waste and impacts and clean-up efforts.  I was not expecting that conversation this evening.  Fascinating.  I wish I'd had a copy of Richard Hugo's "Letter to Levertov from Butte" in my back pocket for Matt and Molly to read. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Beautiful Things, 10/08/12: Dump Run, Sophocles Meets Altman, Tangerine Wheat Ale

1.  More stuff going away, the garage becoming less cluttered:   dump run.

2.  As I get deeper into season 4 of The Wire, I am more and more intrigued by every little snippet of plot that gets introduced, left, returned to.  It's Sophocles meets Altman.

3.  The Deke wanted to wind down at Cornucopia and I finally got to enjoy some Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale, which was tasty and refreshing with a plate of hot wings.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/08/12: Loneliness and Service, Sixteen Tons and the Future, Morgue on *The Wire*

1.  Why do I make an annual pledge to St. Mary's Episcopal Church?  I was asked to say so today at the 11 o'clock service and I talked about chronic loneliness and how keeping the church strong is a support being of service to the lonely and how serving others through the church (and in my work, by the way) has been a way for me to ward off loneliness over the years. 

2.  Often, on Sunday afternoons, the Deke and I got to Sixteen Tons and continue trying to figure out what our changed life is looking like and might look like in the future now that I've retired.  We did that again today.  No decisions.  More possibilities.  Refreshing beer.

3.  Season four of The Wire keeps getting deeper episode by episode.  I'm particularly intrigued by Marlo Stanfield's makeshift morgue and the couple of story lines that have begun to develop around it:  Chris's careless fling of the dead security officer's badge and the discovery of the morgue by the middle school kids.  Please, if you read this and know anything, don't tell me.   Let the suspense play itself out for me......

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/06/12: Open Your Mouth, Eggplant Delight, U of O Emptiness

1.  I gave a little talk at a meeting at St. Mary's today about how I go about reading the Old Testament lesson aloud when I'm the lector.  I talked for a while, but summed in up in three words:  Open your mouth.  When acting, reading, singing, or doing anything involving projecting one's voice, it's the first principle:  open your mouth.  All the good things that can happen when something is read or performed aloud do not have a chance if the reader's mouth is barely open.

2.  Yi Shen's eggplant delight, a curried mixture of eggplant and other vegetables with a side of brown rice, tasted supremely good for lunch today.

3.  After about forty minutes of taking pictures at the University of Oregon, the campus depopulated by the upcoming Duck/Huskies game, I decided to explore emptiness:  empty benches, stairs, and other ways the place was empty.  The saddest emptiness is at the east courtyard of Prince Lucien Campbell Hall where, in 2008, someone stole James Hansen's statue:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/05/12: Portland Pictures, Pleasing Dinner, News Travels Oddly

1.  After a week, I finally looked at the over 200 pictures I took last Friday in Portland.  I want another shot at taking pictures of industrial sites along the Willamette River near the Broadway Bridge.  I've got to figure out how to do better with those to make them look in a photo as compelling as my eye sees them.  I'll get back.  My favorite pictures were of the fascinating ways the Steel Bridge was reflected on the river.

2.  It makes me happy when fixing dinner pleases the Deke after she's had a full day at the end of a full week of work and tonight the chicken spinach feta sausage with sweet potatoes, onion, and mushroom topped with fresh raw tomato did the trick.

3.  I talked with Mom for about a half an hour on the phone.  With Facebook and email, I sometimes get Kellogg news before she does, so it was odd to ask her what she knew about Floyd Williams having passed away and she hadn't heard it happened.  For you Kellogg people who may not know, Floyd died of a massive stroke earlier this week.  (If I have the cause of death wrong, please let me know.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/04/12: Hoagland, Nadal, Searcher

1.  Riding the bus to work is working for me.  This morning I read poems from Tony Hoagland's sardonic collection, What Narcissism Means to Me (see excerpts here).

2.  Teaching in my retirement:  I feel more reckless, less restrained -- I delivered my liberal arts sermon on the mount.  I could have told my students that they shall love self-examination and pursuing the well-lived with all their hearts and souls and their minds and they should love their studies as they love themselves, but I didn't go quite that far.  I did, however, invite them to find love in their studies, to be moved to learn by give it a go.

For today, I retired my Federer teaching style and went into Nadal mode. 

3.  After a couple of glasses of Tracktown Honey Orange Wheat Ale and an order of fries, I was settling my bill when the bartender invited me to have a good afternoon.  I was going to meet the Deke at Sixteen Tons and told the bartender that I was "going to walk the mean streets of Eugene in search of my wife."  My search succeeded. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/02/12: Student Portraits, Greek Salad, Pleasures of Giving Up My Car

1.  To get my WR 115 students' first writing project underway, I took a portrait of each student at the location of her or his choice on campus.  I took pictures in the parking lot, baseball field, soccer field, at the gym, in the garden on the west side of campus, at the LTD stop, near and in the art building, and on the first two levels of the Center building.  I have a total of 36 students and got these pictures taken in four hours.  I loved having to hike all over campus and did my best to take good pictures, albeit fast ones.  I wish I could show some of them online, but I promised my students that they would have control of these pictures, so I'm turning the future of each picture over to them. 

2.  The Deke and I keep a sort of empty refrigerator now that we are the only two living in our house.  I stopped at the Kiva and thought, "I'll bet if I buy some tomatoes, cucumbers, a red pepper, and some kalamata olives, I can make a great brown rice Greek salad with what we have at home."  I was right. The salad made a superb dinner.

3.  Since I donated my car to a kidney foundation, I have to walk and bus wherever I go during the day and I'm reminded how isolating it is to drive in a car and how much I become a part of life downtown when I take the bus and walk:  I see (and sometimes talk to) people I haven't seen for a while, talk with some people I don't really know, and hear conversations about stuff that wouldn't otherwise hear. I'm back in touch with a realm of life in Eugene that I used to experience, but haven't for a while.  It was especially fun talking on the bus with Philos about the literary genre of comedy this morning.  He might be Lane Community College's most intelligent and inquisitive employee of all....and he's a past student of mine.  I hope we continue to ride the same bus on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 10/01/12: Walking, Reading, Frying

1. After a good news visit to the dentist I walked to Valley River Center, then to Maurie Jacobs Park where I sat on a bench and finished reading Stoner, now one of my favorite existential novels for its lack of pretense, elegant and simple style, and penetrating examination of a life of loneliness interrupted on occasion by times of joy, pleasure, and temporary fulfillment. After finishing the book, I finished my walk home.

2. I stopped at the Red Barn for a little bag of Kettle Chips and a can of Blue Sky lemon-lime soda and had a fun bit of back and forth with the cashier about high maintenance grocery bag packing. She can't let a grocery store employee pack her groceries, she's that finicky about categories and what goes in what bag. Her boyfriend is even more particular/peculiar about such things.

3. The electric frying pan was back in action tonight: onion, yams, and mushrooms fried with lean ground beef, topped with raw tomatoes. The Deke made a cabbage salad. We enjoyed our supper.

Three Beautiful Things 09/30/12: Singles, Silence, Steelhead

1.  Arrived back at Terry's after the game about three a.m. and arose to the start of the Ryder Cup singles matches which were riveting, especially the last round shots and putts of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.  I was much more taken and interested in what the Europeans did that was nervy and heroic than I was in the failures of the U.S. golfers.

2.  The ride on the bus was quiet and restful, allowing me to read Stoner by John Williams in peace and with full attention.

3.  I hadn't seen S. since she was in my WR 122 class years ago and when I met the Deke at Steelhead for a bite to eat when I got off the bus, S. was our server and I enjoyed a few minutes of getting reacquainted.  It was fun that we remembered each other -- even if I didn't remember her name and needed reminding.  She was in a class that I remember warmly. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/12: Chillin, Chilly, Runaway Win

1.  Sausage and eggs.  Fresh ground coffee.  The Ryder Cup.  A relaxing morning at Terry Turner's.

2.  High up, near the top of Century Link Stadium, above an end zone, wind whipping, young drunk Oregon fans all around us, keeping it fun.  No vomit.  No hostilities. Just a fun night of NCAA College Football:  Ducks v Cougs.

3.  The Cougs had a strong second quarter that kept the game interesting, but, man, the Ducks can score points fast and in bunches and the runaway was on in the third quarter.  Final score:  Ducks 51, the Cougs 26.

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/12: Stoner, Photo Stroll, Pub Crawl

1.  Everything fell into place right off the bat this morning:  I packed quickly, strolled to the Greyhound station, found a seat toward the front of the bus, and rode to Portland in peace.  I especially enjoyed reading the first few chapters of John Williams' classic novel about a professor in Missouri, "Stoner".  (The professor's name is William Stoner.)

2.  I strolled in Tanner Creek Park and then went to the south bank of the Willamette River, just west of the Broadway Bridge to just west of the Steel Bridge and took about 200 photographs.  I'm eager to see if any of them are any good....but whether they are or not, the strolling and the imagining relaxed and pleased me.

3.  I walked over the Broadway Bridge, strolled to N. Russell, and after a refreshing Hammerhead and order of fries at the White Eagle, met Terry Turner at the Widmer Brothers' Gasthaus for a Drop Top Amber.  We then scooted a ways across town to the Belmont Station where I savored a Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest.  It was on the way to our final destination, so we stopped in at the Hopworks Urban Brewery and had a short one, a half pint of scrumptious Cask ESB.  Our final destination was the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City.  The best thing happened.

    Boddington's Cream Ale was on the taplist.  I ordered a pint and the bartender said they were out an asked me if  an Old Speckled Hen (my favorite of all English beers)  would be all right.  I nearly fainted, gathered myself, and said, "Um. Okay.  That'll do."  It was especially tasty with the fish and chips I ordered. 

It was a great little pub crawl, slow and easy, nightcapped at Terry's house with a short Moscow Mule. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/12: Portraits, Rogue, TroxAle

1.  My WR 115 students seemed to go for it:  I am creating a writing project for them that begins with taking a portrait of each student at a location of their choice on campus.  This will be fun and I think some good essays will emerge from it.

2.  I arrived downtown on the bus and decided to drop in for a bite to eat at the Rogue Ale House.  Once in, I suddenly remembered that I find their Tracktown Honey Orange Wheat Ale a nearly perfect afternoon beer:  light, flavorful, easy on the alcohol, superb with hot wings.  So, I ordered wings and enjoyed three glasses of Honey Orange Wheat Ale and contemplated some of the small pleasures of teaching part time in my post-retirement appointment.

3.  The Troxstar's brother, the Troxcomet was in town and we had a couple or three rounds of tasty beers at the Bier Stein and discussed the greatness of Deep Purple, bemoaning that the Bier Stein does not have Deep Purple on its in-house playlist.