Thursday, October 31, 2013

Three Beautiful Things, 10/30/13: Delta Ponds Stroll, Planting Roses, Watching the Sox with a Masshole

1.  It's been quite a while since I've strolled the banks of the Delta Ponds just off Goodpasture Island Road.  I had a good walk and an egret stood still so I could take its picture, too.

2.  I bought three rose plants/bushes and planted them on the south side of the garage in an area once dominated by weeds that the Roto-Rooter people cleared out.  I also filled in more of the sink hole before I planted the roses, fertilized them, and mulched them with leaves.

3.  The Troxstar invited me over to his crib to watch the Red Sox.  Ahhh...this was good...I got to watch the Red Sox win the World Series with a true Masshole who has been a Red Sox fan every day of his life (but not as long as I have!) and is not a 2004 Red Sox Nation bandwagoner.  We were in touch with Adam, Scutter, and Souza -- all cradle Red Sox fans, all Massholes.  So, not only did I get to experience Game 6 with Massholes, the RED SOX WON the World Series.  Unbelievable.  I mean Stephen Drew homered.  He barely qualifies as a banjo hitter -- more a ukelele -- and he homered!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/13: The Big Picture, Mid-day Lunch at the Pour House, The Deke Arrived

1.  As I've done before, I'm working with my WR 115 students on the question of happiness and I showed the documentary Happy today.  I wondered, as I watched this movie for about the 10th time, if my students were seeing how this movie consistently claims, through the testimony of scientists and the stories told by a variety of people, that, from this movie's point of view, it's not so much what we achieve ourselves or do for ourselves so much as what we do with and for others that brings happiness.  I wonder if they understand happiness less as a feeling than as a condition, a way of being, as less about feeling good and more about living for purposes that extend far beyond concern for self or for individuality.  

2.  After classes ended, and after caring for the dogs, I sauntered over to the Falling Sky Pour House and Delicatessen for a Corned Beef Rubin and pint of very tasty Daywalker Irish Red.  It'd been a while since I'd had a red ale and I enjoyed it a lot.  It being mid-afternoon, the place was quiet and I read from a few articles in the New Yorker while enjoying my food.  Maybe if I write this down, I'll remember for the future:  a half a sandwich at this deli is plenty for me.  Less would be more for me when it comes to full enjoyment of the splendid Rubin this place makes.

3.  Everything worked out for the Deke today and I got to see a darling short video of  Olivia greeting her at the airport. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/13: The Deke Grounded, Watching the Amazin' Mets, More Flavor in the Stir Fry

1.  The Deke and I were up at four a.m. so she could catch her flight for  a visit to her daughters and grandkids.  The Deke found out at the airport that the flight was cancelled, so I turned around on Dove St. and Highway 99 and headed back out to the airport to pick her up and so we had each other's company for another day.  It was good.

2.  I discovered the other day that there are some complete baseball games posted on YouTube from past World Series and other playoffs and I was particularly interested in watching the Mets win Game 5 and clinch the 1969 World Series.  I didn't see the game when I was a sophomore in high school.  It was played during the day and I was in school, but I remember coming into the band room some time that day and Mr. Exum told me the Mets had won.  I couldn't believe it then and I was kind of blown away watching the entire game today.  What struck me the most was how low key the telecast was.  Lots of silence.  No advertisement while the game was being played, except for mention of NBC sports coverage about twice.  All commercials came on between the half innings and were not a part of the YouTube recording.  I'm wondering if media historians can pin point when sports broadcasting became so loud, hyped up, shot through with ads.  Really, in this broadcast, Curt Gowdy and Lindsey Nelson, for the most part, pretty much let the events of the game speak for themselves. They didn't try to make it more than it was.  I got a kick out of Tony Kubek being the roaming reporter with interviews in the box seats with Toots Shor, Bowie Kuhn, Pearl Bailey, Nancy Seaver, Joe DiMaggio, Averell Harriman and others. 

3.  I stir fried a bunch of vegetables, featuring eggplant, and seasoned the meal with ginger, garlic, basil, and celantro and fried the rice in sesame oil.  I wondered if I'd gone overboard, but, no, I hadn't.  The Deke and I loved all the flavors and it encouraged me to keep trying out ways to vary our vegetarian diet at home.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/13: Insecure Taking Pictures, Olivia in 2011, World Series Relief

1.  I worked all day on recovering pictures from a memory card, culling them, and editing the ones I want to keep.  I couldn't help but observe that I've been too insecure taking pictures.  Time and time again, too many times to count,  I have taken multiple pictures of the same subject, as if repeating the shot over and over again will mean that I'll get a good picture out of all these shots.  Over the past couple of days, I've come to regard this not as a strength of taking digital pictures, but as a drawback.  I actually think it will do my confidence some good as I continue to do more of what I've done lately:  visualize a picture, go for it, and don't repeat it twelve times out of fear that the picture won't work. 

2.  It was fun to remember that when Molly and Olivia lived with us, I took quite a few pictures of Olivia, just not on a daily basis.  I remember thinking that I should be taking more pictures of Olivia.  I remember berating myself for being inattentive, not taking pictures daily of her.  Having looked at pictures I took, I'm more forgiving.  No, I didn't take daily pictures, but I got some pretty good ones, like this:

3.   One of the things I enjoy about post-season baseball?  Pitchers who are starters during the regular season pulling bullpen duty in the playoffs.  In the playoffs, pitching rotations and days of rest don't matter as much because of the urgency of each game, inning, and pitch.  The Red Sox are getting some great innings of relief out of Felix Doubront and I enjoyed that John Lackey entered tonight's game and pitched a scoreless 8th inning, even after he was the starter in Game 2 and might be the starter in Game 6 on Wednesday.  In the post-season it's all about three words:  Git r done. 

(This makes me think of Randy Johnson's 7th game relief appearance to get the final four outs against the Yankees, a day after throwing over 100 pitches in Game 6.  I also relished Bert Blyleven's four innings of scoreless relief in a must-win Game 5 in '79 against the Orioles on two days' rest.  That was the performance of Blyleven's I'll always remember most and, for me, was always what paved his way to Cooperstown.  [Not many see it this way.]).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/26/13: Going Back Through Pictures, Sweet Life Almond Biscotti, Ducks Empty Out Cornucopia!

1.  About year ago, a portable hard drive I purchased and put my pictures on crashed.  I still had the pictures, unedited, on my many memory cards and today (and last night) I finally really got going on going through these cards, culling the many bad pictures I've taken, and editing the ones I'm keeping.  I've got a long way to go, but it's fun looking at these pictures again, remembering outings with Russell, times with the Baugh/West family, times when our grandchildren and their mothers were here, and remembering when I tried out new lenses.  It's fun to see how I think I take better pictures now than I did in 2007 (let's say).  It was especially fun looking back at pictures from the day in June, 2011 when I went to the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland around 7:00 a.m. and sat and took pictures, walked around and took more, and spent time taking (not great) pictures of the St. Johns bridge.  Here are a couple pictures I enjoyed looking at again:


2.   I took a very short stroll down to Sweet Life where I enjoyed my new favorite food item there:  almond biscotti.  I had a cup of coffee, too, and, after much contemplation, decided that I didn't want to interrupt the work I was doing with my pictures, so I didn't go downtown and take pictures of the zombie flashmob world-wide Thriller dance at Kesey Square.

3.  With the Ducks playing a 4:00 game against UCLA, meaning people all over town were either at the stadium or glued to their televisions, the Deke and I decided to go to Cornucopia, thinking it would be nearly empty.  It was.   The Deke worked all day at school and wanted some time to relax and I was hungry so we headed over and had a splendid time:  I had a couple Widmer Hefes and a terrific bleu cheese bacon burger and onion rings.  And, as usual, the Deke and I figured everything out that needed figuring. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/13: Come -- Have a Sit, Killer Bean Salad, Elysian's Dark O' Moon

1.  I took a walk several blocks north of where we live where I knew a number of people have chairs and sofas and benches,etc. on their porches and in their yards.  I took pictures of many of them to add to my "Come -- Have a Sit" picture album.  It's a fun project.

2.  I made a killer salad today with white beans, red onion, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, and basil, topped with an olive oil, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon, and crushed garlic dressing.  As I read the ingredients, it doesn't seem like much, but it is really, really good.

3.  Those two 22 oz bottles of Elysian Dark O' Moon pumpkin stout have been sitting the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and tonight the Deke and I relaxed into our evening by enjoying them. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/13: Rested Grading, Afternoon Kolsch, Perfect Billy Mac's Dinner

1.  The Deke, tired as she is, cheerily agreed to give me a ride to work at 7 this morning so I could finish grading papers before my classes met at 10 and 12.  It worked out perfectly.  I finished the grading when my mind and mood are at their best and finished my work in the quiet privacy of the work space I have in Russell's office. 

2.  I decided to ride the UO bus from LCC, get off at Patterson, have a pint at 16 Tons, and then give myself a good walk home.  The beer was a kolsch from Claim 52 brewed with blueberry tea.  Kolsch is one of my favorite styles of beer.  I enjoyed how light and pleasing this pint was and the blueberry taste was very subtle, very pleasing.

3.  Once home, I was really hungry and so the Deke and I went to Billy Mac's early, earlier than our friends would be coming.  I loved having blackened Ahi tacos with margaritas and then Michael and Pam came in and we got to talk with them, too.  Billy Mac's was getting really, really busy as we finished up, so we got to enjoy a quiet time eating our dinner and left at just the right time.  It was a perfect dinner out. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/13: Perfect for Yard Work, Perfect for a Walk to the Bank, Perfect for Grading Papers

1.  This gorgeous autumn morning was perfect for raking the leaves in the backyard and mowing the grass.

2.  This gorgeous autumn morning was perfect for walking to the credit union and securing a new debit card.

3.  This gorgeous autumn evening was perfect for going with the Deke to the High Street Brewery and Cafe and grading papers together, with the help, for me, of my favorite of all beers:  a Hammerhead. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/13: Discussing Happiness, Tacos and Beer, "The Glass Menagerie" on Broadway

1.  My ten o'clock WR 115 class has some students who like to discuss things and our discussion about value-based vs. physical, feel-good happiness was really good. 

2.  After I taught my classes, I stopped in at the First National Taphouse for a couple of splendid $2.00 beef brisket tacos and a pint of one of my favorite beers, Firestone DBA. 

3.  My mid-afternoon snack was made even more enjoyable by Hilton Als' review in a recent issue of *The New Yorker* of a Broadway production of "The Glass Menagerie" featuring Cherry Jones as Amanda.  I appreciated and enjoyed his review of the performance more than I admired his discussion of Tennesee Williams and his general comments about "The Glass Menagerie", which he described as depthless.  I experience it as deep, both emotionally and intellectually, as an exploration of family, memory, abandonment, and the American restless desire to break out, to be free.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/13: Come Have a Sit, Autumn Yard Work, No Recipe White Bean and Rice Vegetable Soup

1.  I strolled the neighborhood in the fog and ended up taking picture of chairs and benches in my neighbors' yards and benches as part of an album I've been adding to on Facebook:

2.  I continued to chip away at autumn yard work.  I worked on filling in the depression left behind by the sewer workers and mowed the front lawn.

3.  I cooked up a great soup:  crushed fire roasted tomatoes, spinach, white beans, leftover brown rice, onion, garlic, carrots, red cabbage, mushrooms, celery, and bok choy.  The Deke and both enjoyed it.  A lot.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/13: Saturday in the Park and on the River, True Value Blender, Pumpkin Beer and Chicken Soup

1.  I had taken about a hundred pictures yesterday when Russell and I strolled on the east bank of the Willamette River to Delta Ponds and back to Maurie Jacobs Park.  I sorted through them, edited them, posted certain ones, deleted others, and enjoyed having time to work with my pictures and share them with others.  One former student asked if she could use this picture as her desktop picture.  I enjoyed that request a lot, especially because it came from someone I deeply admire:

2.  Every once in a while I buy something I want.  I don't do this very often.  But I've been wanting to do some things in the kitchen that would go better with a blender, so I stopped in at Eugene's True Value and bought a simple blender.  Because I don't buy things for myself very often, when I do, it's really fun.  And, as a bonus, a wonderful student of mine from several years ago works at True Value and was my checker today.  I always enjoy seeing her.

3.  The Deke and I decided to try out some of the pumpkin beer on tap at the Bier Stein. It was fun and we both liked Elysian's Dark o' the Moon best.  Then we went to the Pour House for a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  It was my first bowl ever at the Pour House and I loved it.  Its slightly smoky taste made it unlike any chicken noodle soup I'd ever tasted. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/13: Perfect Morning for Fall Garden Clean Up, Perfect Photo Day, Perfect Timing at Billy Mac's

1.  My flowers needed deadheading, some annuals needed to be yanked out of the ground, and the garden hoses needed to be stored and so I took some time on this glorious cool cloudless morning to work in the yard and began to chart in my mind other tasks to work on over the next several days or weeks.

2.  Russell and I strolled along the Willamette River on our picture taking walk today.  I enjoyed seeing heron again, seeing the autumn colors reflected in the Delta Ponds, and the all the activity on the river path:  bicyclists, skateboarders, lovers, families, others walking, some taking pictures, all entranced by this perfect autumn day.

3.  I hesitated at first, thinking the joint might be crowded with Duck fans coming early for the 7:30 game, to watch it on t.v.  But, we went to Billy Mac's and it was not busy at all and the Deke and I enjoyed some drinks.  I had a great slice of prime rib (meat tastes really good when I don't have it often) with rolls and perfectly prepared vegetables and rice pilaf.  The Deke and I had some first-rate conversation and as we finished and prepared to leave, the Duck fans were rolling in and the joint was starting to get noisy.  Our timing was perfect.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/18/13: Fog Pictures, A Place to Sit, Solid Stir Fry

1.  It was dark when I got out of bed and it was foggy.  Immediately, I decided to finish my cup of coffee and get outside with my camera and see what kind of pictures I could take in the morning fog, a completely new venture for me.  Here are a few of the pictures I took:

2.  At some point during my two walks in the fog, I was struck by the number of benches and chairs sit in yards and other out of doors locations in my neighborhood and so I started a set of pictures, in black and white, of these places to sit.  Here's one:

3.  While editing and making FB albums of the many pictures I took today, I realized we had just enough produce left in the house for a solid stir fry:  sweet onion, sugar snap peas, broccoli, zucchini, and white mushrooms.  We still had a block of tofu.  We also had a package of Chinese noodles.  So, I fried up the vegetables and tofu, boiled the noodles, fried the noodles in sesame oil, and the Deke and I enjoy a fine meal late this afternoon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/13: Agitated Student(s), Weihenstephan Feistbeir, Regaling the Deke

1.  I have learned that almost 100% of the time, when a student is disgruntled, complains about class, blows up, comes late to class, seems distracted, doesn't get work done, acts like a jerk, seems out of sorts, it's not about the course and it's not about me as the teacher or as a person.  It's not very often about the student being a jerk.  It's always something crappy in the student's life outside of class, some pressure at work, a problem with a friend/spouse/girl-boy friend, something family related with custody or problems a student's child is having at school that the student brings to school and acts out about.  It doesn't matter what the student's age is.  It's universal.  I have resolved that if it seems to me a student is trying to pick an argument with me or is looking for trouble, I'll be patient, try to wait it out, and almost always what surfaces, without me asking, is that the problem is really elsewhere.  It happened again today and the student in question and I said our farewells after class today on great terms.  By not getting riled up and staying calm, I sure make my life smoother, sometimes easier.

2.  I hadn't been to the Bier Stein for a while and dropped in after work and enjoyed, half a glass at a time, three Weihenstephan Festbeirs, an Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager with a half a tuna salad sandwich and a cup of beer cheese soup.  I love German lagers and this one was perfect for me:  light, a little sweet, clean, crisp, slightly bitter, very easy to enjoy. 

3.  I regaled the Deke this evening from my side of the living room as I played parts of songs from the mid to late sixties.  What a golden age of pop music!  The classics:  "Try to Remember" sung by Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, and Jim Nabors. More Jim Nabors: "Impossible Dream".  Ed Ames, "Try to Remember".  I played "Love is Blue" including the Claudine Longet vocal version.  I played "Sugar, Sugar".  "I Think I Love You."  Some Brooklyn Bridge -- "It's the Worst that Could Happen".  Oh there was more and the Deke laughed and identified songs as quickly as she could.  ("I'm good!"  She is.) We wrapped it up with Jeannie C. Riley and "Harper Valley P.T.A.". 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/13: Gorgeous Day for Pictures, Failed with a Street Kid, Bulgar Salad

1.  Today was a classically gorgeous autumn day:  no clouds, chilled air, plenty of shadows and light, and vividly coloring leaves.  I walked around the neighborhood and strolled downtown and took pictures.

2.  I sat on a picnic table outside Sizzle and a street kid chatted me up and I asked him he wanted me to take his picture.  He said he did and told me about the colorful garments he was wearing and he struck a few silly poses.  I couldn't get things right, however, with the light (my inexperience showing) and the pictures were lousy.  Otherwise, I'd post them.

3.  I made a bunch of bulgar and seasoned chick peas with cumin and fried up some tofu with Greek seasoning and mixed up the bulgar and chick peas and tofu with tomatoes, celery, garlic, red pepper, juice squeezed from a lemon, olive oil, celantro, and kalamata olives and fixed a salad.  The Deke said it was my best ever.  It's good for the kidneys, too. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/13: The Independent Clause Rules, My Mind Has a Mind of Its Own, Best Ever

1.  I really love the science and structures of the English sentence and trying to help my students see that the English sentence is defined by the independent clause.  It's so simple, though not easy.  I hope all my enthusiasm and humor and passion about the independent clause also had some clarity and that at least some of my students learned a little more about taking charge of the sentence construction rather than guessing or relying on what feels right.

2.  In keeping with my mind having a mind of its own, wandering, unfocused, and forgetful, last night I left my camera on the floor of the back seat in the car and my phone in the cup holder between the two front seats.  The car was locked.  Both items are black and hard to see at night in the dark car.  All the same, I'm usually obsessive, in a good way, about taking care not to leave things in the car for the night time petty thieves that walk our neighborhood to be tempted to get their hands on.  But, no harm done.  The Deke drove the car to school, discovered my fruits of my distracted mind, and secured them at school and both are now back in my possession. 

3.  Maybe it was frying the rice in sesame oil and then pouring some soy sauce over it while it fried.  I don't know.  But the Deke and I agreed that the stir fry I made tonight was, in the Deke's economic assessment:  "Best ever."

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/13: Glitch at Costco Works Out Fine, Glitch at Amazon Works Out Fine, Beer Glitches Work Out Fine

1.  Over the past ten days or so, I've been suffering from a lack of focus and while nothing has gone terribly wrong, I've had more flub ups than usual in my schoolwork, tasks around the house, and other places.  My focus in the moment seems to be about 81.5%.  Today I took the portraits I took of my WR 115 students to Costco and it took me much longer than usual to get things right at the machine where I place my order.  As a result, I was out there about an hour longer than I had planned.  As with all the other flubs over the past ten days, everything eventually worked out fine, but I hope before long I can relieve my mind of whatever I'm finding so distracting.

2.  In this same vein, I preordered the book Humans of New York back in April as a birthday gift for sister Carol.  Over the weekend I learned the order had been denied because I no longer used the Visa card I made the order with.  No problem.  But then it took me over an hour to finally complete the order, including a talk on the phone with Andy at Amazon Canada.  He was very helpful, and I'm glad the order, in time, got completed, but having these little, barely consequential things, go awry eats up a lot of time in a day. 

3.  I picked up the Deke from work and we stopped off at Sixteen Tons South for a pint and a half of beer.  We had a great talk about where things are headed in our life together, but in keeping with my distracted self, every time I went to the counter to order another half pint, I got the order wrong and the very patient man running the taps remembered what we'd been drinking and corrected me.  All's well that ends well, I suppose, but I'd sure like my concentration back. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/13: Editing Pictures and Pleasing Some Friends, Chick Pea Tabbouleh Rice Salad, Brandy is Dandy

1.  I spent a lot of time editing pictures from the zombie flash mob "Thriller" performance at St. Vincent de Paul's in north Eugene and from the Masonic Cemetery in south Eugene.  I really enjoyed the fact that so many were good pictures and others enjoyed them and took the time to tell me so.  I was really happy that some friends (many of them from Kellogg!) liked this one:

I wanted to portray the blend of dying and living trees in the foreground with a blur of color from the leaves in the neighborhood below.  That several people liked this shot made me very happy.
2.  While I worked on pictures, I also made a variation on the tabbouleh rice salad we enjoy so much.  I combined brown rice and freshly cooked chick peas with cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, garlic, olive oil, and a lot of celantro.  I forgot the lemon juice, which was dumb of me, and I didn't have almonds on hand.  Even with those things absent, the Deke and I gobbled up this salad in no time and really enjoyed the addition of the chick peas.

3.  It's sure nice to always have a bottle of brandy in the house and mix it with some white creme de menthe or just drink it alone over ice. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/12/13: Zombies at St. Vincent de Paul's, Cemetery Pictures, More Pumpkin Stout

1.  Until today I had had nothing to do with zombies.  No movies.  No costume. Nothing.  Russell thought it would be fun to go to St. Vincent de Paul's in north Eugene and take pictures at the Zombie Flash Mob where a mob of zombies would perform Michael Jackson's "Thriller".  I was game and now I have had a zombie experience.  Here are a couple of the about ninety pictures I took. 

2.  I follow a photographer on Tumblr who goes by nevermindthecamera and recently she took and posted a bunch of pictures of a cemetery.  Having seen these and having just taken pictures of zombies, I recommended to Russell that we continue our day of picture taking at the Eugene Masonic Cemetery in south Eugene.  Here are a couple of my pictures from this part of our Saturday picture taking stroll.

3.  After dropping Maggie and Charly off at the groomers, where, by the way, they came out looking clean and handsomely trimmed, the Deke and I returned to Sixteen Tons, hoping the keg of Elysian Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout had not run dry.  It hadn't and we enjoyed a pint and a half before returning to Petsmart to pick up our clean and happy corgis. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/11/13: More Details About My Kidney Disease, Sabai, Pumpkin Stout at Sixteen Tons

1.  Here's the deal:  my kidneys are diseased.  My disease is stage 4 which is severe kidney disease.  The kidneys are able to function pretty well, though, even when severely diseased.  The best test to measure kidney function is the GFR or glomerular filtration rate.  GFR is measured on a 1-100 basis.  When one's GFR is between 15 and 29 that's stage 4 or severe kidney disease.  I've been in this range for the last nine or ten years at least.  Through controlling my blood pressure and regular monitoring of my kidney function, my doctors and I hope to maintain a GFR result above 20.  Once the GFR falls below 20, it's time to get things going to plan a transplant.  When I saw my nephrologist in July, my GFR had fallen to around 20 or just below.  He told me that over these several years he'd never seen such slow progress in a kidney disease like mine and that he wanted to wait until my next visit in January and see how things looked.  He didn't see a need to get the transplant wheels turning just yet.  (Renal failure occurs when the GFR falls below 15.)  

I had blood work done this week and my GFR had improved since July, a development I'm very happy about.  It improved to 23.2.  Another measure used to determine kidney function is creatinine levels in the blood.  Healthy kidneys filter out creatinine.  My levels of creatinine had come down.

I attribute this improvement to weight loss.  I've lost weight since I donated my car to the Kidney Foundation and forced myself to walk more.

I also attribute this improvement to having changed to cutting animal protein out of my diet.  I do not eat any animal protein at home, although I drink some milk, but I often enjoy eating meat when I eat in restaurants or am a guest at someone else's home.  

I'm convinced that the reduction of animal protein has helped my kidneys improve.

If you are still reading this, what I've stated here is good news, but within the context of this chronic disease.  My kidneys are severely damaged, but the key to my continuing to live well is stability and I'm happy to say that my visit to the doctor today showed not only that my kidney function is still stable, but that it improved a bit.  

2.  After I was done at the doctor's, I drove to Sabai and ate there for the first time.  I ordered the Fancy Thai Eggplant with tofu and enjoyed the sweetness and the fire of the sauce and the way the vegetables were stir fried lightly, meaning they were not raw, but they had some crunch.  It was kind of a perfect meal to eat while reflecting upon my visit to the doctor.

3.  The Deke and I went to Sixteen Tons after I picked her up from school and enjoyed a pint and a half of Elysian Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout which was gorgeous to look at and delicious to drink.  Its pumpkiny richness was spiced with a touch of cinammon and with a hit of hops it was like drinking a slice of moderately sweet pumpkin pie with a slight bitter bite.  We loved it.  I also went next door and got a couple bbq sandwiches to go from that new place that used to be Dickie Jo's and we enjoyed our food while drinking the last of our pumpkin stout.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/13: Teaching on Too Little Sleep, Tasty Thai Revival, Stinger Nightcap

1.  One reason I retired was to stop being so tired.  It took me six hours to email those pictures last night.  I went to bed at one a.m. and was up shortly after six.  I don't want to do this again, but I took some cold comfort in realizing I can still do it, can still teach with clarity and passion on too little sleep.

2.  When I don't get enough sleep in dehydrates me.  When I get dehydrated, I get very fatigued.  Often, I'm too fatigued to recognize the source of my fatigue.  After class, I sat for a half an hour in my office, dozed off, woke up, sat in a stupor, dozed off, and then finally decided to trudge to the bus.  Once on the bus I realized why I was so spent.  I was dehydrated.  I got off the bus at Sacred Heart Medical Center and crept to Tasty Thai, ordered a plate of ginger garlic stir fry and drank about six or seven glasses of water.  The food and water revived me.

3.  On my way home from a meeting with lectors and lay eucharistic ministers at church, I remembered the Deke had kind of jokingly asked me the night before (or two nights before) if we had a stinger in the house.  So, I stopped off at the liquor store and bought a bottle of brandy and a bottle of white creme de menthe and the Deke and I enjoyed a stinger to cap off our evening.

Three Beautiful Things 10/09/13: Editing Portraits, Neighborhood Stroll, Nothing to Get Hung About

1.  I took over 200 (non-professional, joyously amateur) portrait shots of about thirty-six students yesterday and went through them all today, cropping here, adding some light there, darkening some of them, leaving others alone.  I loved looking at these faces and I loved that these weren't glam shots or senior pictures, but were everyday adults going to school at LCC presenting themselves where they wanted their pictures taken on campus and looking into the camera with whatever level of comfort, discomfort, confidence, insecurity, or bewilderment they were feeling in that moment of having their teacher take their pictures.  No one will ever see these pictures unless the students post them somewhere.  I've sworn to keep them private and so don't post them.  I love these pictures, not because I take great portraits, but because the pictures seem so honest to me and the faces are so various and beautiful.

2.  After editing all those pictures, I took a stroll in the neighborhood and took some pictures of autumn arriving and stopped off at Sweet Life for an afternoon cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant.  

3.. The Deke and I planned on her coming home at four so I could drive out to Costco and have the student portrait pictures printed.  In case something went wrong, the four o'clock time gave me time to recover, correct any error, and still get the pictures printed to hand out to my students on Thursday.  She texted me that she'd be home at five.  I got to Costco about 5:30 and for reasons I won't explain couldn't easily print the pictures.  It was my fault.  Had the Deke come home at four, I could have made it work because I would have had time to correct an error I made.  I wouldn't have been doing things at about the last minute. 

So what's "beautiful" about this?  I didn't get upset.  I didn't blame the Deke for this minor set back.  I emailed the pictures to my students.  I'll print them for Tuesday.  Things didn't go precisely as I wanted, but I didn't act like it was the end of the world. This calmer, accepting approach to things involving day to day things with the Deke, the upholding of the promise I made about a year and a half ago (and that the Deke also holds to) to not hassle the Deke about anything works beautifully.  It means that if a real problem arises and I bring it up, we both know that it's something important because I'm not getting upset about small stuff.  Nor is she.  The students will get their pictures.  The fact things didn't go exactly as I wanted them to will fade away into the oblivion of stuff that doesn't matter.  And we won't be wounded by unnecessary digs at each other, by needless hassle.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/08/13: Big Toe Test, Darrell Porter's Nephew, Pils at the Pour House

1.  I gave my once inflamed, swollen, angry big toe a test today:  I criss-crossed the Lane Community College campus, walking from place to place my students told me they wanted their portraits shot.  I enjoyed very much taking the pictures and was happy my toe held up so well.  I think it might be about 95% healed.  I hope so.

2.  One of my students requested that I take his picture at the LCC baseball field and we got to talking about baseball and he told me baseball was in his family's blood and then revealed that he is the nephew of 1982 World Series MVP, Darrell Porter, and we talked about the sad circumstances surrounding Porter's death in 2002.  I'd forgotten that Darrell Porter died from the toxic effects of cocaine.  What I did remember was that back in the early 1980s, Porter was among the first athletes to publicly acknowledge a drug/alcohol abuse problem and I remembered him talking on camera about his sobriety and how he turned away from the celebration champagne in the clubhouse after the Cardinals' 1982 World Series victory.

3.  Things were quiet and it was fun having a pint and a half of Morning After Pils at the Pour House with the Senior and Junior Warden. They invited me wind down with them after their vestry meeting at St. Mary's. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/07/13: Friendly Lab Work, Cinnamon Bliss, Stir Fry for Dinner

1.  I have lab work done about every three to four months at the OMG lab and today the woman who drew my blood acted more familiar with me:  she said my name when she called it kind of like we were friends and she was friendly as she asked me spell my name and give my birthdate in a way that was a little warmer than professional.  I guess I shouldn't be too happy that the reason she is familiar with me is that I go there pretty often, but, all the same, I enjoyed her friendliness and it made the visit to the phlebotomist more pleasant than usual.

2.  I broke my fast with a cinnamon roll wad the size of my head made in a cupcake wrapper at the cafe at the clinic and enjoyed a 16 oz coffee.  I'm laying off this kind of food for the most part, but I justified it by telling myself I hadn't eaten for twelve hours and that I'd like some food that is sweet and pleasant, but not that nutritious.  

3.  I put the gingery peanut sauce I made yesterday to good use as the Deke and I topped an onion, tofu,broccoli, mushroom, sugar snap pea, zucchini stir fry served with brown rice fried in sesame oil with the sauce. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Three Beautiful Thngs 10/06/13: Restocking the Food Supply, Boardwalk Tensions, Habakkuk and Nairobi

1.  The Deke and I depleted our food supply.  Today I restocked it and then both of us went to work, each making salad.  The Deke's was cabbage based, mine built upon white beans.  Both are delicious.  I also made us a supply of peanut sauce to have on hand.

2.  I'm finding the tension in Boardwalk Empire excruciating.  Each of the multiple story lines has danger lurking inside it, meaning that there is never relief from the fear of danger or of violence.  Up to this point, I've not been enamored with the Margaret/Nucky relationship story line, but in episode #9, which I watched this evening, it became clear that Margaret is beginning to understand that she has leverage, she has power in this relationship and she's started to use it.  If this was ever a romantic relationship, I think it's moving away from romance now.  Is a power struggle, as much political and economic as anything, in the works?  We'll see.  (If you know the answer, please don't tell me.)

3.  As the lector for this morning's 11 o'clock service, I got to read from the Book of Habakkuk.  It was a stirring passage and its power increased when Robert Carlson, a longtime Bible translator in Mali, now a university professor in Nairobi, connected the passage from Habakkuk with the violence in Nairobi, and, specifically, the killings at the Westgate Mall. 

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you "Violence!"
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrong-doing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous--
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/05/13: Vero Breakfast, Too Short of a Visit, Oregon Duck Fatalism

1.  Sister Carol and I made our way over to the Vero espresso house and enjoyed some more conversation and a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee drink.  It was nippy outside, but the inside was crowded and noisy and, I, for one, enjoyed being out in the fog where it was quieter, even if a little chilly.

2.  The fog lifted and I drove sister Carol to the airport in Portland, wishing that our visits and our sibling outings didn't have to be so short.  I wanted more time together in Nelson, I wanted to see more of Carol in Kellogg, and I wanted to have this visit last longer.  The good news is that our drive to Portland was safe and so was my drive home and we'll see each other again some time in the next several months.

3.  It's funny.  The Oregon Ducks are rated by coaches and the press as the second best football team in the USA, but emotionally, I still experience them as the unpredictable, likely to lose Oregon Ducks I used to watch when I moved to Eugene back in 1979.  I listened to the Ducks play Colorado on the radio as I drove back from Portland and they didn't score on their first series, they fell behind 3-0 and then 10-8.  The Ducks gave up 16 points in the first half, and even though the Ducks scored 43, I was nervous, reacting emotionally as if they were the same kind of team that blew big leads in games in nineties.  I can't shake it, I guess.  I am one of those fatalistic Duck fans who thinks disaster is just a snap away and just can't seem to get accustomed to their 21st century successes. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/04/13: Breakfast at Hideaway, Oregon Coast Nostalgia Tour, Chowder Diving

1.  After visiting Charlemagne school after dropping the Deke there for her work day, sister Carol and I enjoyed coffee and bagel and cream cheese and a bear claw at the Hideaway Bakery in my ongoing effort to introduce her to our little world in Eugene.

2.  Carol and I drove to Yachats and retraced the steps of our family when we used to come over to the Oregon coast together for a few years and stayed in Yachats.  Carol and I ate at the Adobe Inn and watched waves crash against the craggy beach.  We drove to Haceta Beach and walked the great expanse, practically having the beach to ourselves, and took pictures.  We ended our tour of the Oregon Coast with a cup of coffee at Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters (where we were served by Carol -- a fun fact) in Old Town Florence and by picking up a couple of quarts to clam chowder to go from Mo's.  We had a splendid afternoon together.

3.  Carol, the Deke, and I dove into the buttery Mo's clam chowder and whether it's a good as anyone else's didn't really matter because we were hungry, the chowder warmed us, and we were enjoying being alive in Eugene, Oregon and having family time together, time which is all too rare. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/03/13: Horizons Broadened?, Good Bus Chat, Carol at Billy Mac's

1.  I had a great time in class today explaining some stuff and then reading over my article, "On Being a Liberal Arts Teacher" with my students, hoping it will add to their thinking about their education and its purposes.

2.  I had a great talk on the bus with a student who was in my Intro to Drama class in spring term, 2012.  It was great to hear about her internship with the adult choir at Central Pres. and to listen to her aspirations to be a middle school math teacher one day.

3.  We continued to introduce sister Carol to our little life here in Eugene by taking her to Billy Mac's and it worked.  We ran into Lynn, Pam, Kathleen, and Kate, so Carol met some of my fellow teachers.  Derrick mixed Carol and me awesome margaritas.  The Deke, Carol, and I all order blackened ahi tacos and they were really really good.  So far, I think Carol approves of our eating and drinking life in Eugene!

Three Beautiful Things 10/02/13: Melted Cup Clean Up, Carol to Eugene, Carol Gets to Eat at Cornucopia

1.  I melted a plastic measuring cup on the glass surface of our stovetop, right above a burner.  Glade is a better air freshener.  I got some of the melted plastic, which was kind of like melted Velveeta cheese, removed on Monday and gave my efforts a rest until today when I got the rest of the maroon mess warmed up and wiped off.  Ha!  Should I be so happy to complete such a mundane taske?  Is removing melted plastic from a stovetop really a beautiful thing?!

2.  I drove to Portland, parked in the basement of a fancy building a block away from where sister Carol had a Gear-Up conference, and met her and we had an easy drive back to Eugene.

3.  The Deke and started introducing Carol to our little world in Eugene by taking her to Cornucopia where Carol enjoyed a buffalo chicken salad and some hard apple cider got to begin to understand why the Deke and I like to meet there some afternoons for a happy hour drink and sometimes a bite to eat. 

Three Beautiful Things 10/01/13: Good to be Back, Pumpkin Ale and Papers, Pastrami and Corned Beef on Rye

1.  I really didn't want to fully retire from classroom teaching and this teaching part-time works beautifully.  I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the classroom, meeting new students, having fun interactions, repeating to the students that I'm on their side; in short, I enjoyed doing the work I've always enjoyed.

2.  When I walk off the bus after I'm done with school, I'm only a block from the First National Taphouse.  Today, I has some student writing to read so I ordered a pint of Elysium Night Owl Pumpkin Ale and slowly sipped on it -- slowly, because I wanted it to warm up a bit -- and read my students' first piece of writing and was encouraged by what I read.

3.  The Deke and I met at the Falling Sky Pour House Deli and along with some stout on nitro, I order a sandwich that was half pastrami and half corned beef on homemade marbled rye bread.  The meat is also cured in house.  I loved the sandwich.  The two meats' tastes were perfect compliments to each other and made me wish it were healthy to eat this kind of sandwich daily -- even hourly. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/30/13: Ready, Flesh is Weak, Awesome Salad

1.  I finally buckled down and worked on getting things ready for school tomorrow.  It all looks good and I'm looking forward to being back with students in the classroom.

2.  I watched more episodes of Boardwalk Empire.  So far I'm not much interested in the Margaret/Nucky relationship, but other parts of the story have me hooked.  I've never seen anything on a television show (or in a movie) like the self-flagellation Agent Nelson Van Alden administers while gazing upon a picture of Margaret when she was sixteen, a picture he has secured by requesting her immigration file.  The self-flagellation was a nearly perfect portrayal of this straight arrow, Bible quoting law enforcer trying to keep his lust repressed and punishing himself with physical violence for his failure.  His spirit is willing.  His flesh is weak.  And scarred with welts.

3.  The Deke combined all kinds of leafy stuff and the quinoa I prepared into a bowl and mixed in a Dijon mustard dressing of her own invention and we ate this awesome salad for dinner.