Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/12: To Write, Shaq and Rachael Ray, 17 June 1994

1.  Really, if a writer can develop enough detail so that the reader knows what is on the writer's mind, structures grammatically sound sentences into coherent paragraphs that fit together to create a unified essay, moves purposefully between the abstract and the concrete, and does these three things fearlessly, without anxiety about grades and other silly external pressures, that writer has a foundation to work from that will work in every writing situation.  It's simple, but difficult.  That's what I hope my students in WR 115 learned this quarter.  Structure.  Development.  Abstract. Concrete.  Let it rip. ("It also helps to have something to say and to know the subject," added Dr. Obvious.)

2.  The George Foreman grill works best for me when I throw a pound of ground beef in a bowl, season it with Montreal Steak seasoning and garlic powder, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and a sane amount of Frank's hot sauce, and break an egg in it, stir it up, make two half pound patties, throw them on the grill and give them about four minutes.  Man.  It's tender and tasty.  It's comfort food.  Tonight, I cooked these patties and served a mushroom/onion mix sauteed on the side.  I learned the basics of this way to prepare ground beef when Shaquille O'Neal was a guest one afternoon on the Rachael Ray show.  Shaq pwned Rachael Ray.  

3.  June 17, 1994.  The World Cup opened in Chicago.  Arnold Palmer played his last round of golf at a U. S. Open.  The Rangers were confetti bombed in their Stanley Cup victory parade.  The Knicks and the Rockets played game 5 of the NBA finals, tied at 2-2.  And, with a gun to his head, O. J. Simpson went on a tour of Los Angeles with Al Cowings at the wheel in a white Ford Bronco.  All of these events and more are stitched together in an unnarrated documentary in ESPN's 30 for 30 series.  Its title?  June 17, 1994.  It was a sobering, moving, and exciting movie for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/12: Grading, Heat Miser, Wonderful Dinner

1.  I read and graded papers for much of the day and let myself believe that many of my students are thinking more deeply about the meaning in their lives, whether connected their values to happiness or seeing the intelligence demanded of their jobs, many which are widely considered menial.  If nothing else, I think I've helped them think about things in new ways.

2.  I waited at the Steelhead for Deke to get manicured and, wary of the slightly higher alcohol content than I'm used to, order two glasses of Heat Miser, a winter ale.  I didn't drink much.  I loved what I drank.

3.  The Deke arrived at Steelhead and we made our way through a hummus plate and an order of Buffalo wings.  The food tasted really good to both of us and I pulled back from the winter ale and enjoyed a couple pints of one of my favorite beer at Steelhead:  the refreshing, light Orange Wheat Ale.  It pairs nicely with hot wings and is a good session beer, thanks to its low to moderate level of alcohol by volume.  I left the Steelhead feeling satisfied and happy. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/12: Delta Ponds (Again), Deke's Casserole, Dead Legacy

1.  I will return to Delta Ponds as often as I can and find new ways to use my camera and become more deeply knowledgeable about my handful of lenses.  Today, I had a great time using my Vivitar 200 mm lens, zeroing in on an egret, some plants, some reflections, and a particular bridge and its nearby boulders.  I also tried and tried to take a good picture of these bare trees.  As with everything I did today, I had to use my feet a lot, had to get more acquainted with my tripod's mechanics, and had to be very patient.  Here's the best I could do:

2.  The Deke's takeover of the kitchen continued this evening as she prepared a scrumptious turkey, butternut, barley, red pepper, onion, and feta cheese casserole.  Mystikal good.

3.  That New Yorker article surveying the history of the Grateful Dead and accounting for what's happening with the vault and their show music these days was enjoyable.   I've never been a Dead jock and all the names related to Dead history always fail to stick with me, but I enjoy their music, flawed as it can be, and reading about the band and what they thought of themselves and what others think of them. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/12: Market, Quiet, Ginger Whiskey

1.  Rain made outside picture taking next to impossible (for me...), so Russell and I went to the indoor Farmers Market and, briefly, to the Saturday Market.  Overall, I struggled with taking any very good pictures.  I did, however, like the clarity of this shot of Russell waiting for our mushy vegetables and kind of oily rice and flat chutney at the Afghani food both:

2.   I spent a few hours alone at home.  For much of that time the dogs were quiet.  The neighborhood was quiet.  No louts were talking loudly in the alley on their way from the mall to the park.  No one was blowing leaves.  I sat in the chair in the living room after looking at the pictures I took, and fell into a nap.  While I was asleep, Oregon scored four touchdowns and extended a 20-17 lead to 48-17.

3.  I brought home a pint of Jack Daniels for the Deke and a pint of Jameson's for me.  I somehow imagined that a drink I'd never fixed before would hit the spot:  a Jameson's Ginger Whiskey.   I was right.  It was refreshing and relaxing and helped extend the ease of my day.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/12: Mary's in Town, Crockpot Alchemy, ESPN Films

1.  Mary comes to Eugene at Thanksgiving time to see Anne, Russell, and Allie, and again this year she joined Russell and me for a photo stroll.  We went to the Holiday Market.  Normally, I would rather be tear gassed than go to Holiday Market, but meeting Russell and Mary was fun, and became even more fun when we walked over to Laughing Planet (another tear gas place for me) where I enjoyed a Marrakesh Bowl and couple refreshing stubby bottles of Session lager.

2.  It's been a Total Deke Takeover in the kitchen the last two days, and today she made a flawless turkey soup that not only nourished and warmed my body but make me feel like I was feeding myself spoonfuls of hope, peace, joy, reconciliation, and grace.

3.  I've been on a 30 for 30 roll lately and tonight deeply enjoyed the way "The Announcement" moved me and then enjoyed how informative and entertaining I found "Small Potatoes:  Who Killed the USFL". 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/12: Church, Evacuation, Dinner

1.  I attended our Thanksgiving service this morning at St. Mary's Episcopal Church and was the lector.  I loved reading this magnificent passage: Joel:  2:21-27.   The Rev. Betsy Tesi delivered a smart, sometimes funny, and most insightful sermon exploring how easy it is to be thankful, but how difficult it is to be trusting, not to worry.  It was the best Thanksgiving sermon I've ever heard. 

2.  I went on a neighborhood stroll with my camera and was immediately struck by how vacant the neighborhood was, as if I lived in a Zone A evacuation zone: empty park, empty porches, empty alleys, empty streets.  When I did see any humans, they either seemed to be peering into the emptiness or, in one case, contemplating the wisdom of breeding. 

3.  The Deke fixed our Thanksgiving dinner and it was perfect:  roasted turkey, baked yams, cranberry-apple-orange relish, dressing made from wheat bread, chanterelle mushrooms, leeks, and turkey, and a splendid gravy.  I love sweetish white wine with turkey and so we had a bottle of Gew├╝rztraminer,  It was a perfect meal and its leftovers will last us for a good while.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/12: Varied Weather Photo Stroll, Soup Nation, Stu Saves the Day

1.  Dodging raindrops, enjoying sunlight, marveling at the changes in light, I walked from home to the Fifth Street Market and back, taking pictures, enjoying myself, relaxing.  Here's one I haven't posted anywhere.  I just discovered this spiral fire escape at a local bed and breakfast today.  I've been walking by it for years and just noticed it today.  I'm going to try to take better pictures of it on future strolls. 

2.  Rain poured down and I wanted soup and went to Soup Nation for a hearty and most satisfying bowl of mushroom barley soup.  I was happy for friend and former student (wow! at least twenty years ago) that the place was bustling with customers. 

3.  I stopped in at Rogue Public House for some stout and while I was enjoying my beer, I had to figure out how to endure a nearby non-stop talking blowhard.  I hoped and prayed Scott Stuart was available via texting so I dropped him a line explaining the situation and it led to about fifty minutes or so of back and forth about legendary blowhards we have known, fantasies of what I felt like doing to this guy, and a lot of good laughs.  Roasted Oatmeal Stout and then Shakespeare Stout (on nitro) plus cathartic texting with Stu made what could have been a chalk board scratching hour at the pub a lot of fun. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/12: Pieces of April, After the Deluge, Pieces of Chicken

1.  My students in WR 115 handed in their third project paper today and I'm not assigning their last essay until next Tuesday, so we had a free day and I showed one of my favorite movies of all time:  "Pieces of April". It tied back to questions we looked at earlier in the term about happiness and basic desires and, even more, it is a perfect comedy (in the Old School sense of the word), a perfect movie about people helping each other and coming together, not only to enjoy a feast, but to help bring union to a broken family.  It's edgy, unsentimental, and very, very moving.  I loved watching it twice and was very happy for my students who took the option to stay in class and watch it.  (I'm actually happy, also, for students who were under pressure from other courses that they took the time to go study and work on other stuff -- they all seemed under the math gun.)

2.  We had a big rain storm last night and I had a great time, a really fun time taking pictures that captured darkness, wetness, need for unplugging street drains of leaves, and the desolation I saw. Since the storm was not even close to being a big event like Sandy, I gave it a cute name, which is also our mayor's name, Kitty.  I experimented a bit with shooting out of focus, like in this shot:

3.  The Deke was grading papers at her office, which most people know as Cornucopia, and she offered to bring home some food and I request Buffalo Wings and a sixer of Hefeweizen.  The wings were splendid and the one beer I drank refreshed me and paired perfectly with the hot wings. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/12: Oatmeal, Photos, Gravy

1.   The Kidney Foundation or a similar group posts recipes for people with kidney disease and the one I've turned to the most is pretty simple:  peanut butter in oatmeal.  Today I added bananas.  It's simple. It's filling.  It's comforting.  And I love it. 

2.  I had to go get 60 bucks from the ATM at 7-11 and took my camera and shot black and white pictures in the gloomy hour before the deluge began.  It was a short photo session, but I enjoyed it.

3.  After we had pork roast last night, the Deke made gravy and tonight we took that gravy and poured it over left over roast and it was really delicious.  The left over apple, yam, and onion were really good, too. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/12: Tender Roast, Tripod at the Ponds, 30 for 30

1.  First I seasoned the pork roast with Greek seasoning and some garlic powder.  Then I seared it and, after searing, covered it with rosemary.  I lined the bottom of the crock pot with peppered onions, set the roast on top of it, and lined the roast with yams, a sectioned honey crisp apple, and mushrooms.  I  set the crock pot on low and our dinner simmered away for about six hours and, after I took it out and sliced the roast,  the Deke and I enjoyed our dinner, a lot.

2.  I drove out to Delta Ponds Park and took pictures with my 135 mm/f2 manual lens, mounted it on my tripod and shutter release cable and had an exciting time experimenting with light and subject matter, especially with gusty winds blowing.  I felt like taking pictures was a completely new thing to do again.  I took some naturalistic pictures, but also some more artsy ones, experimenting with color blurs in the foreground sometimes and bokeh other times.  It's fun to experiment, even if the failure rate is sort of high.  I love Delta Ponds Park and I love all that the place inspires me to try.  I'll get back there as soon as I can and keep working the tripod.  Here's one example of a picture I took, an experiment.  I don't know if it's a failure.  I sure enjoyed taking it!

3.  Until this evening, I had never watched any of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries.  Tonight I relived and marveled at the Boston Red Sox 2004 victory over the Yankees in the American League Championship Series in the short film "Four Days in October".  I'd forgotten how nearly miraculous Boston's wins were, until the rout of Game 7.  I had followed that series on the radio and I'd never seen images of it.  It was thrilling.  Then I started, and got half way through,"Fernando Nation".  I remember how staggered I was my Fernando Valenzuela's 1981 spring.  Watching that has been great.  The documentary also digs more deeply into the history of Chavez Ravine, which is the history of Latino/a citizens in Los Angeles and this background to the sudden emergence of Valenzuela has been fascinating and sobering. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happiness: Kinship and Friendship

Over the last couple of years, I've assigned my students a kind of simple article written by Steven Reiss for Psychology Today entitled "Secrets of Happiness". 

Reiss argues that we experience happiness most reliably and durably when we live our lives in keeping with our values.  His argument opposes the idea that happiness comes from pleasure, what he calls feel good happiness, a short term form of happiness, at best.  Rather, his article at least indirectly works to persuade us to examine ourselves, recognize what our most basic emotional/spiritual/non-physical desires are.  These desires are at the root of what gives purpose to our lives and help shape and define our values.

I've asked students to write essays responding to this article in a variety of ways.  I've asked them to work with Reiss' argument, for the time being, trusting that if they want to argue with it and disagree with it, they'll do that on their own.  For now, I want them to extrapolate his argument from his article and apply it elsewhere. 

I've asked my students to explore the basic desires they see at work in reading we've done (e.g. in Buffalo for the Broken Heart) and, this quarter, in a short film ("Family Tree").

Eventually, though, this question of value-based happiness has to come back to the students examining their own lives, examining what they most deeply desire, what their values are, and what success they have living in accordance with their values.

This same line of self-questioning has been on my mind a lot lately.

Retirement has brought it on.  If, over the past thirty-five years, since I began working as a college level instructor, I have looked to my work for my happiness, it would make sense that I'd wonder about what I'll do to be happy as I work less.

Over the last thirty-five years, I've experienced periods of volatility, particularly with broken relationships.  During those times, my work helped me stay grounded.  I was always happy in my work, happy with my students, and happy with my colleagues.

But, with retirement, I am not as involved with these things.  I teach two days a week.  I don't see many colleagues when I'm at work and I don't spend much time with students outside of class.

I was realizing, as I neared retirement,  however, that while I've always enjoyed teaching, and still do, my career has not been my primary source of happiness.

I realized that what I desire most deeply is a sense of belonging, of togetherness.  I knew I couldn't look to Lane Community College for a reliable sense of belonging.  My students and I were together for ten weeks and we were done, except in cases where students enrolled in more than one of my courses and in the even rarer cases where I became friends with students and those friendships developed beyond LCC.

With several colleagues, I feel a sense of belonging, but, increasingly, it wasn't because of our work that I felt this sense of belonging, but because we developed friendships, friendships that will endure beyond any of our time working at the college.

You probably see where this is going.  A reliable sense of belonging drives my spiritual and emotional desire: it's my basic desire.

I most fully experience this desire being met with friends and kin, in friendship and in kinship.

It is in friendship and kinship where I most clearly see as well as understand my values and most clearly see and understand the values of the friends and family I care so much about.

What values?  Love, loyalty, acceptance, reliability, understanding, trust, and care.

I know that when I am easily extending my love, care, understanding, and trust, am accepting, and feel reliable, I'm happy, no matter how much pain I might be in physically or how much stress I might be under in my life.  The happiness is deeper than whether I feel good.  It's deeper than my anxiety or sadness, deeper than discouragement or frustration.

I do all I can to live in accordance with these values -- and before long I'll write more about the friends and family in my life where I experience the happiness that comes from living this way.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/11: Photo Fantasy, Chicken Udon, Getting Stuff Done

1.  Russell and I went out on a photo stroll earlier than usual and it turned out fortuitous.  We got in about an hour of picture taking down by the Fifth Street Public Market before the rain hit.  It's funny with taking pictures and posting them.  I almost always favor a couple of pictures and it's interesting to see how/whether friends respond to the ones I favor.  To be honest, and this is fine with me, others almost always seem to enjoy pictures I've taken other than the ones I have special feeling about.  Today I took a picture that looks to me like a scene from a black and white French or Italian movie from forty or fifty years ago, except for the cars in it.  I'm probably wrong, but I have these scenes in my head.  They are black and white.  The scene is whimsical.  In this picture, the way the woman's foot is off the ground and the way she's leaning makes me think she's skipping and she is utterly unconcerned about her dogs going in two different directions, not really under control.  Ha!  It seems like a scene from a European comedy, a mirthful scene shot in black in white and somehow, no matter how ordinary it might seem to others (although over ten people have registered a "like") this is one of my favorite of all the pictures I've ever taken.  I'm just going to enjoy my enjoyment no matter what others might think:

2.  Russell and I took cover shortly after 11:00 and waited over a cup of coffee and hot chocolate for Pure, a Japanese bistro, to open.  Once it did, I ate a really good bowl of chicken udon, a superb treat.

3.  It was rainy.  It was getting dark.  The Deke and I would have been happier staying home.  But we had stuff to take care of in town and we piled in the car and did what we needed to.  I shopped for groceries and Deke took care of other stuff.  So often, we operate independently, and it works, but I enjoyed joining forces to take care of things and do it at the same time, out on the town, as together as we could. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/12: Morning Pizza, Walking to Coffee, Sixteen Tons

1.  About 11 o'clock or so, I realized I hadn't eaten and I got the bright idea to go over to Whirled Pies and have a slice of their thin crust pizza. I ordered a cheese slice.  Did I ever do the right thing! 

2.  With camera ever ready, I walked down Madison to the Wandering Goat area and then headed east on 1st and wandered around the Planing Mill neighborhood and made my way to 5th and Willamette and walked south on Willamette until I arrived at Brails espresso shop where I enjoyed coffee and witty yacking with Margaret, Jeff, and Michael.

3.  Before sitting down to eat some take out Thai food, the Deke and I met at Sixteen Tons and two things made me very happy:  first, Abie was pouring beer and I hadn't seen her in several months and I enjoyed finding out about projects she's working on and that she's been well, and, second, one of my favorite beers was on tap:  Logsdon's Seizoen Bretta.  I enjoyed a pint and a half.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/12: Happy Instructor, Christina's Stout, The Woodmans

1.  I went to school a bit earlier than usual to read WR 115 revisions and in-class writings.  I have a core number of students in each section who are working diligently to read better, write better analysis of what they read, and to extrapolate the ideas from what they read and apply them to their own experience or that of others.  Their diligence, their progress, their good spirits, their pleasing company makes me happy.

2.  I ate too much this afternoon around 2:00 at the Rogue Public House and didn't eat another bite for the rest of the day.  I didn't drink too much, though.  The brewer at Rogue Public House is Christina and she makes great beer -- today I tried a pint of her Roasted Oatmeal Stout and I'll be back for more, maybe even a growler, so the Deke and I can enjoy its toasty, rich, coconuttiness at home.

3.  Recently, I'd heard and read about the provocative photographer Francesca Woodman.  I've also looked at many of her unusual and sometimes unsettling pictures.  This evening I watched the documentary film, "The Woodmans", a story devoted to Woodman's art as well as to her 1981 suicide and the lives of her brother and parents afterward.  Perplexing, complex people.  Other more emotionally transparent friends of Francesca Woodman are also featured.  I enjoy documentaries that present people's memories, thoughts, and feelings, that give us images and documents, but really explain nothing, come to no definitive conclusion.  That was my experience with "The Woodmans".

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/12: Taking Pictures, Sweet Change, Burger Talk

1.  Lots of morning November light moved me to walk around the Whitaker neighborhood and take some pictures. 

 2.  Funny how things change.  For the longest time, I didn't enjoy going into Sweet Life. And it's so close to me, and so good!  I really think it had to do with a guy who worked the counter there several years ago who had a really loud voice and his voice gave me a headache.  To be fair, I think this was related to some of the sensitivity to noise I suffered post-meningitis, but, still, I avoided Sweet Life for years.  Recently, I've begun to go in for a bagel and a coffee and I've found the counter help most solicitous, their voices quiet, but not New Agey quiet, and the coffee delicious.  Funny how things change. 

3.  Burger and brew night at Billy Mac's and the Deke and I wound down together and had a good talk about our day and our lives. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/12: Bus, Electric Fry Pan, Rogue

1.  The Deke's knee is close to healed. She can drive herself to school.  I am back on the city bus to get to LCC and it relaxes me when I walk downtown to catch it, ride and don't drive, and walk home when I leave the bus.  I don't miss my car.

2.  Yellow onion, red pepper, a yam, crimini mushrooms, green beans, and ground beef all cooked together on the electric fry pan and the Deke and I had a dinner we both enjoyed.

3.  The Troxstar and I met at Rogue Ale House for a beer after he finished the vestry meeting.  We had a lot of fun talking about stuff.  I very much enjoyed my pints of Track Town Honey Orange Wheat Ale, and it was fun talking with our bright server who made her way via Bellingham, Yellowstone, and Glacier to Eugene from Oroville, WA. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/12: Lowell Lake, Half Pints, Dream Soup

1.  Packed bus.  Fairly quiet.  More adventures of Lowell Lake in Brooklyn as "A Meaningful Life" continues.

2.  The Deke and I sat down to shoot the breeze at 16 Tons and I enjoyed a half pint of an old favorite, St. Bernardus and then returned to a new favorite, Commons Walnut Belgian Porter for a pint and a half.  

3.  The Deke dreamed up a soup with cranberry beans, leeks, sausage, corn, and an awesome medley of other ingredients and it really hit the spot after those fine beers at 16 Tons.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/12: Fun, Pho, Go Figure

1.  All good things must end and the Kellogg guys' rendezvous in Pendleton ended at the breakfast buffet and we hit the road with full bellies and big smiles for having had so much fun over the weekend.
2.  Terry, Nancy, and I sat down at Pho Huy in Happy Valley and dove into steaming bowls of awesome Vietnamese food.  I relished my bowl of seafood pho, a rich, thick-brothed, complex bowl of noodle soup and scrumptious pieces of treasures from the sea.

3.  Okay.  "Lay the Favorite" was not a good movie.  It was by far the worst movie Stephen Frears has ever made.  Until "Lay the Favorite", I'd never seen a bad movie by Stephen Frears.  But this one was pretty bad.  And I enjoyed it.  Go figure.  I had a lot of fun watching it come to its corny conclusion and a lot of fun watching the train wreck that got it there.  So there.

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/12: Buffet, NCAA College Football, Ducks!

1.  Buffet breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs, cubed deep fried potatoes splattered with Tabasco sauce.  Got get a good foundation built for the rest of the day.

2.  Back to the Wildfire late in the morning for the first of a refreshing steady stream of cold Hefeweizens and NCAA college football with Jake, Terry, Mike, and, for a short time, Ed.  Hours went by, beers went in, wings went down, and we enjoyed the defeat of Alabama and suffered through the Beavers' loss.  The bartenders enjoyed us, we enjoyed them, more bullshit flew, and we had a really great time.

3. Duck game!  In our hotel room!  The Ducks won!  Yes!

Three Beautful Things 11/09/12: Easy Riders, Wildfire Bullshit, Life is Good

1.  Easy, restful, pleasant ride with Terry to Pendleton.

2.  Jake, Mike, and Ed were at the Wild Horse Club counter and Terry and I joined them and we headed straight for the Wildfire Bar and Grill for cold beer, tasty wings, and fresh onion rings and we might as well have had the public address guy from the Indy 500 instruct us:  Gentlemen, start your bullshit.  But, we didn't need instruction.  We got underway.

3. A glass of Jameson's on the rocks, a Seasonal Salad made of  Baby Lettuces, Cranberry, Hazelnut, Blue Cheese, Grain Mustard, and Vinaigrette, a thick peppery Pendleton Whiskey Steak  with Pendleton Demi-Glace, Mashed Potato, Crisp Broccoli, and Shallot  Aioli paired with a bottle of  Zerba Cellars Wild Z Red Table wine at the Plateau Restaurant with four of the friends I've known longer than anyone else in the world moved me to repeat about 7000 times:  Life is good.

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/12: Smooth, A Meaningful Life, Mother Lode Golden Ale

1.  Smooth, smooth, smooth.  Smooth exit from LCC, smooth bus ride downtown, smooth arrival at the Amtrak station, early, so I could board the bus first and sit in the front behind the driver.

2.  I read more deeply into the wickedly funny 1970s novel "A Meaningful Life".  This dark satire made the bus ride go by in no time.

3.  Terry picked me up at the Amtrak station and we joined Nancy for a noisy dinner at the Laurelwood Public House -- we were seated in the family section where about 900 kid were laughing, screaming, and playing.  BUT, eating with Terry and Nancy was so pleasant the my two pints of Mother Lode Golden Ale were so refreshing that I forgot the kids and found myself absorbed in the pleasure of good company and satisfying beer.  My burger was pretty good, too. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/12: Delta Ponds, Tevye... Sort Of, Laundry

1.  I took a stroll through north Eugene's Delta Ponds Park and snapped a bunch of pictures.  I loved the fall colors and the abundance of small bodies of water as well as the well-groomed trails and bridges.  Here's an image of what I enjoyed:

2.  I saw my financial adviser and unconsciously whistled one of my favorite songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" as I walked into her office:  "If I Were a Rich Man".  (j/k)

3.  It felt good to get a couple of loads of laundry done in preparation for my trip to Portland, Gladstone, and Pendleton.  Tev

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/12:Happiness Extrapolation, Church Struggles, Electoral Equanimity

1.  I'm trying to help my WR 115 students extrapolate ideas from one source and apply them to the interpretation of another.  It's something none of them has done before.  Yesterday they turned in their happiness papers and it required them interpret the short film "Family Tree", by extrapolating ideas from an article they read on happiness.  At the start of both of my classes, my students were candid, respectfully so, about the difficulties they had writing this assignment.  Their comments helped me a lot.

2.  It had nothing to do with the election.  Nothing to do with Romney.  Coincidentally it happened today.  I had two conversations with two separate people about their struggles as members of the LDS church.  Both were respectful, not bitter.  Both were candid.  These were very good conversations and I had little but my listening ear to contribute to them.

3.  The Deke and I don't have a television, so our election night party consisted of doing stuff online and checking in from time to time with websites that were reporting the progress of the presidential election.  To help relax us for the evening, we each drank a couple of gin and tonics, ate a flat iron steak with broccoli and mushrooms and onions; I drank a 22 oz bottle of Apricot Wheat Ale and the Deke had a Velvet Merlin stout.  I looked at photographs on Tumblr.  The Deke watched CSI Miami on Netflix.  This relaxed us and we were free to take in the election news with quiet and equanimity.  We neither uttered a harsh word nor did we gloat.  I reported results and we both calmly nodded.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/11: Fall Stroll, Bagel Sit Down, Beer Enjoyment

1.  I had a great time wandering around the neighborhood again, taking pictures of the colors of fall within three to four blocks of my house.  Here's one: 

2.  I decided I wanted to sit outside Sweet Life and take some black and white pictures.  None of them is really worthy of posting, but I sure enjoyed my cup of coffee and raisin bagel with cream cheese.

3.  The Deke called me from Cornucopia and I rushed over and we enjoyed a hummus plate and a plate of hot wings and I relaxed with a Barn Owl Brown Ale and then switched to the soothing refreshment of Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen.  Later, I dropped in at Sixteen Tons, knowing Jesse was working, and enjoyed, at his recommendation, a pint of Walnut Belgian Porter from the Commons Brewery in Portland.  It was a porter unlike I'd ever had.  I'd never tasted a Belgian Porter and it was a most satisfying surprise. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/12: Isaiah, Beers, Chicken

1.  It was a particular pleasure to read from the book of Isaiah as today's 11:00 lector and then to hear Rev. Bingham Powell play the oboe to accompany the choir.

2.  Falling Sky had Firestone's Velvet Merlin on tap, a favorite stout of mine and then, after grocery shopping, I stopped in at the 16 Tons cafe and enjoyed a pint of Oakshire's Big Black Jack Imperial Pumpkin Porter on the patio.

3.  I baked some chicken drum sticks along with sweet onions and yams and it made a most satisfying dinner.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/12: Tweeker Didn't Harm Us, Wonton Soup, Porter/Stout Split

1.  The tweeker Russell and I encountered at Grant and 11th and then in the Yi Shen parking lot didn't harm us.  That was the good thing.  But, his threatening manner, paranoia that we were cops or someone else following him and photographing him, and the string of vile profanities and gay slurs he shouted at us persuaded us to get in the car and find a more peaceful locale to take pictures.  We left the tweeker crouched over his backpack in the alley that runs on the north side of  Pit Stop, USA.  We went to the Eugene Masonic Cemetery, by the way, and when we were done shooting, we returned to Yi Shen for lunch, with the stated understanding that if the tweeker was still haunting the parking lot, we'd go to Hawaiian Time.  He wasn't around.  Maybe the cops or InCahoots got him off the streets. Next time, I'm calling 911.  I should have today.

2.  The wonton soup I ordered at Yi Shen was peerless, especially the sesame taste in every spoonful, in every bite of meat and wonton.

3.  The Deke and I relaxed this evening with the help of splitting a bottle of  Hop Valley Vanilla Infused Porter and a bottle of Rogue's Shakespeare Stout.  I like splitting these bottles.  It's just enough beer to relax me and to give me the pleasure of its good taste.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/92/12: Starbuck Letter, I Like It, Alive at Brails Espresso

1.  I had been sitting on a letter of recommendation I've been wanting to write for a couple of weeks and today I settled in comfortably at Starbucks with a grande Pike and wrote all but the last half of a sentence.  Ha!  It was a funny time to need to step back, but that's what happened!

2.  On my way back home, I took this picture, which I posted on Facebook in black and white.  Here's the color version.  I admit.  I do not have a learned eye when it comes to looking at pictures. I have no critical vocabulary of the sort I read when learned people write about pictures.   I can't tell you why I like this one.  I just do.

3.  Conversation was lively between Margaret, Michael, Jeff and me at Brails Espresso shop.  EWEB turned off the power soon after 3:00, but in the hour of light we had, from 2-3, we got a lot talked about and nothing figured out.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/12: Seminar, Big Black Jack, Sweet Burritos

1.  About five of my students, all men, decided to watch Family Tree again, some for the third time, and, when it ended, with the rest of the class members out working on other things in the library or in athlete's study hall, we fell into an impromptu seminar on the movie and had a most satisfying discussion of the movie. 

2.  It had been a year since I'd tasted Oakshire's Big Black Jack Chocolate Pumpkin Imperial Porter and it sure is good.  The alcohol content is a bit steep for me, so I have to be careful, but the chocolate and pumpkin and nutmeg and slight burnt taste all made me very happy.  I had a pint at the 16 Tons Cafe and brought home a 22 oz. bottle.  I left about half of that bottle undrunk for tomorrow. 

3.  For harmless reasons, I ended up staying home this evening instead of going to Billy Mac's and I missed the All Saints service at St. Mary's.  I fixed ground beef, mushroom, red pepper, sweet onion, and sweet potato burritos for the Deke and me.  They made staying home a sweet thing.

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/12: Kirk Talk, Easing Anxiety, Quiet Halloween

1.  I kept warm during a hard autumn rain this morning by sitting at Sweet Life and enjoying conversation and coffee with Kirk, who was a student of mine twenty-two years ago.  It had been about twenty years since we'd seen each other in person and I enjoyed talking about life, death, cameras, and our often inscrutable world.

2.  I had a lot of thinking to do today about my WR 115 course -- and I enjoyed thinking long and hard about how my students would write about happiness and the short film Family Tree and I came up with stuff.  I made a plan.  My mild anxiety eased.

3.  I was grateful for a quiet Halloween.  A few kids came to the door, which was fine. One mother and her daughter came in the house and visited with Mme. Diedrich.  I didn't hear any firecrackers, fireworks, or pumpkins being smashed in the neighborhood.  I was relieved.