Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/13: Yard Work Continues, Church Ministry, 2007 -- Really?

1.  The epic (heh) work on the yard continues:  mowing, whacking weeds near the alley, trying to figure out some landscaping decisions.  I should add that this is the first time since 2002 that I've had real physical and mental energy to work on the yard.   I've struggled with mental and physical maladies over the last ten years and it really feels good to get out and work, even if just a little bit at a time.

2.  I got some writing done, too, and I think I've opened a vault.  I got done writing about why I didn't pursue church ministry as a vocation and I realize that's there more to the story and I've got to write it.  It'll be coming up soon.

3.  I took some time today to look back at stuff I wrote in late 2007 and at comments I got and it brought back some great memories of things I did back then, people I was in touch with through my blog, and things that were on my mind.  I just couldn't believe that what I did five and a half years ago happened that long ago.  It just doesn't seem that long ago.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reflections on the Ministry

A week ago today, I conducted the funeral service for my Aunt Lila in Orofino, Idaho.  My cousins asked me if I would write the service, including the eulogy, and give it as well and then perform a short graveside service at her burial.   I think we all agreed that having me, a family member, in charge of the scripture, prayers, and eulogy would be the best way of properly memorializing Aunt Lila.  That's just how it worked out.

I had given eulogies before:  my first was nearly thirty years ago for Dave Olsen, then for my Grandma Woolum, then my dad, and the last time was in 2004 for Davey Untz. 

I used to be a licensed lay preacher at St. Mary's Episcopal church.  I gave about a half dozen sermons or so, the last being in October of 2004 at the occasion when Episcopal churches across the county gathered to celebrate the l50th anniversary of the first Eucharist celebrated in Eugene City.

My struggles with depression and fatigue, however, kept me home on many Sundays, starting late in 2004 on into 2005 and ensuing years.  My lay preacher licensed was not renewed.

So, when I gave Aunt Lila's service, it was the first time in nearly nine years that I filled a ministerial duty.

Later, that evening, I thought back to the days at the end of my college career and the years right after college when I thought I might apply for the seminary and might pursue a vocation in church ministry.

I thought mostly about why I didn't.

Back in 1975-76, as I finished my undergraduate studies at Whitworth College, the idea of being a pastor in a church was inviting.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of and the theological discussions that accompanied studying at a Christian college.   Friends were applying to seminary and I enjoyed it when representatives from Princeton or San Anselmo or Fuller came to Whitworth and held informative dinners and when speakers from these seminaries, and others, were featured speakers at the college.

I went to hear nearly all of them.

Then, in 1976-77, I worked as a Chaplain's assistant at the college.  During that year, I volunteered to give a Compline service every Wednesday (I think) evening at the Presbyterian church near the campus.

Unlike the Sunday evening Campus Worship service, which was a more extroverted form of worship, featuring a homily, the sharing of prayer concerns, and  singing from the Young Life songbook, among other things, Compline was designed to be meditative, introspective.  I gave the service from behind the worshipers, up in the choir loft.  Mike Young played the organ.  People volunteered to sing chant-like music.  No one was up front.  The focus was not on personality, but on spoken prayers.

I stayed faithful to the church calendar, opening each service with "this is the Wednesday following" whatever Sunday in the church calendar had just passed.  This never happened in Campus Worship.

I drew completely upon the Book of Common Prayer in writing each service.  I owned a copy of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as well as a blue Book of Common Prayer from which new versions of the liturgy were being tried out in anticipation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

The Compline service was given in the dark.  It emphasized silence.  It was a very satisfying project that I got to continue doing as a part-time teacher the next year and a half after my tenure in the Chaplain's office ended.

During that time, when I worked at Whitworth for two and half years after graduation, I also got several invitations to fill pulpits on single Sundays in Omak, Post Falls, and Sandpoint and I filled the pulpit at the Spangle Christian Church for several consecutive Sundays while the young minister there took time off to have surgery.

Now, if church ministry had been primarily about organizing and giving services, teaching, and giving sermons, I might have gone to seminary.

But working in the Chaplain's Office and filling pulpits showed me otherwise.

A pastor or a priest is not primarily a teacher or a preacher or a counselor.

It's primarily an administrative job which means working to keep the church financially solvent, keeping the building maintained, keeping the grounds looking good, and keeping different groups of people within the church happy, which the pastor or priest can never do.

Back then, the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Coeur d'Alene was a really insightful guy, Ed Hart.  I talked with Ed Hart about going into the ministry.  He told me about his frustrations as the church's administrator.  The Sunday service stuff was pretty much a breeze and he enjoyed being of help to people in need.  But, with different groups in the church, it was always something and that if I wanted to go into the ministry, I'd better have thick skin and get used to people always being unhappy.

That sealed it.  I wanted to be of service, to be a helping pastor and teacher, but I did not want to be an administrator.  I didn't want to deal with church people's complaints.  Now, thirty-five years later, I know even better that I wasn't cut out for this. 

I try to steer clear of volunteering for committees at St. Mary's that involve the running of the church.  I've served on Vestry once and don't plan on doing it again.  I'm aware of letters parishioners have written, how easily people can be offended, of the turf battles that go on, the competitions for budget support.

Dealing with this stuff is not what I do well.  I learned after a year of being a division chair at Lane Community College, that this kind of work cuts me up inside.

And, so, I went into teaching.

As I grew into this profession, I realized that even though I wasn't teaching theology or giving sermons, that raising questions about the meaning of life, about social justice, and about what it means to live well through literature and writing courses fulfilled my ministerial desires.  I was happy that I was fulfilling these desires in a secular way.

In addition, whatever calling I felt to pastoral outreach, to extend understanding, comfort, reassurance -- and to listen -- happened every day in my work as a teacher.

It was true at Whitworth.  It was true at the Univ. of Oregon.  It's been true all these years at LCC.

Teaching turned out to be my calling, not church ministry.

I'm ready, always, if needed, to teach a class, fill a pulpit, give a sermon, or give a service at a church or chapel.

I just don't want to be institutionally in charge.  

Three Beautiful Things 04/28/13: Dandelions and Old Leaves, The Deke's Debut at Falling Sky, Evening Cap

1.  Back to the yard.  Today was the front yard.  I pulled a ton of dandelions and grass and raked leaves out of the front strip between the sidewalk and the street.  I have filled two garden waste barrels.  Fortunately, this week is when those barrels are taken care of by the garbage company.  Things are gradually looking better.

2.  Today I got to escort the Deke on her first visit to Falling Sky.  Even though they didn't have beer she really wanted (no porter or stout; out of season?), she (and I) enjoyed the late Sunday afternoon vibe of the joint and we kicked our conversation into high gear and probed some pretty big ideas together. It was really fun.  You know.  The honesty.

3.  On our way home we had a why not moment and dropped in for a evening cap at Cornucopia.  I was happy to give Ninkasi's Pilsner a try, and I enjoyed it, and the Deke and I resumed and continued our discussion of big ideas.  It was really fun.  You know.  The honesty. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/27/13: Early Shopping, Kiwanda Skyline, Weeds Over Pictures

1.  Around 9 o'clock was the right time to shop for groceries at Market of Choice:  easy parking, open shopping aisles, quick check out. 

2.  I had talked with the Troxstar Friday night about how much I enjoy Kiwanda Cream Ale, so I bought him a bottle, swung by Chez Senior Warden, gave it to him, and shot the breeze for a while, listening to Nashville Skyline and a little Stranglehold.

3.  Working in our yard seriously cuts into my time taking pictures.  I had to get those weeds pulled to prepare for planting flowers in the bare spots in our back yard (and soon the front yard).  It was good work. I filled one of our Sanipac yard waste containers. But, I also did this work instead of going to Delta Ponds with Russell to take late in the day pictures.  It was a tough decision, but looking out back and seeing all those dandelions and other weeds gone feels good and inspires me to get back to it on Sunday. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/26/13: Brails Breakfast, Relaxing with Public Radio, Evening at the Troxstar's

1.  Opened the day with a crispy on the outside, perfectly meaty on the inside chicken fried steak topped with gravy at Brails with the Senior Warden and his Mrs.  Betsy and Martin arrived!  Betsy was making her first visit to Brails!  She kind of upbraided me for never telling her about Brails.  Now she knows!

2.  After driving over 1600 miles from last Friday to Wednesday and having a busy day yesterday with school and some other stuff, I relaxed through the afternoon today and listened to a variety of talk shows on public radio.  I find CBC's "Q" pretty interesting and always enjoy Warren Olney on "To The Point".  I also thought the woman who subbed today for Diane Rehm was good as well as her panel of guests.  Listening to these shows confirmed that I was smart not to believe much that I was hearing one week ago as I drove to Kellogg and listened to the breathless up to the minute details of the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on public radio.  Much that I heard that day turned out not to be true.  When it comes to these events, I usually don't really start paying attention to what is said or written until the stories written about a month later get published.  I find the minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day stuff unreliable.

3.  The Troxstar family invited me over and as the sun slowly set,  the 'star himself and I enjoyed some perfectly refreshing Laurelwood Golden Ale out of his kegerator while listening to Jack White, Carole King, and Fairport Convention as well as a neighborhood drummer and then Marla, the First Lady of Troxstardom, grilled perfect burgers made even better by the crisp and tasty pickles she had canned. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/25/13: Late for School, What Lies Ahead?, Philosophy Talk

1.  I've never had an LTD bus completely miss its route, but that happened this morning so I was nearly 15 minutes late for class.  Luckily, I got in touch with Lynn T. who let my class know about my tardiness and they were all there when I arrived.  They didn't clap when I arrived.  A couple of students woke up, though.

2.  The Deke and I have a lot on our minds these days, looking at our future.  So, there was only one thing to do:  head to Sixteen Tons and talk things over.  We didn't come up with a plan or anything, but, as always, everything is on the table.

3.   I've never listened to the radio program, "Philosophy Talk" tonight.  It's a rough comparison, but the program is a bit like "Car Talk" only it addresses questions of philosophy.  I'll listen again and more often and I'm thinking that future programming might interest me more than this evening's topic: "What Is An Adult?"  I thought it was more of a sociology discussion than a discussion of philosophy.  Not that that's a bad thing, but I was in the mood for something more philosophical. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/13: More Familiar Roads, Burger and Brew, Eliot's Four Quartets

1.  Talk about familiar roads.  I took the wheel of that Nissan Altima I rented and drove to Ritzville and around the Tri-Cities on to the Umatilla Subway for a half a tuna and along the Columbia River to Biggs and suburban Portland and on down I-5 to Eugene.  Nine and a half hours. 

2.  I didn't go straight home.  I went straight to Cornucopia and the Deke was almost finished with a glass of wine and I waited for her and we went right to Billy Mac's and I enjoyed the Burger and Brew special with a couple of Heffs.  A great way to end my drive.

3.  I didn't stay up long.  I was ready to catch some Zs.  It felt good to crawl into bed, tune into NPR Now, and listen to Diane Rehm and three professors discuss Eliot's "Four Quartets".  A pleasant surprise. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/13: Never Wanna Say Good-By, Canyon Inn Cuisine, Back Home for Leftovers

1.  It wasn't easy to leave Orofino, but stopping off to say good-by to Judy and Jack helped and it helped to drop in on Lura, Lyle, and Derek.  We drank coffee.  We talked about Lila.  We said good-by.  It wasn't easy.

2.  Everett, Christy, Mom, and I had a delicious and complete breakfast at the Canyon Inn at the Peck Junction.  I splurged:  chicken fried steak with sausage gravy, hash browns with Tabasco, feathery biscuits, and two fried eggs. 

3.  Mom and I traveled the familiar roads back to Kellogg and almost immediately were met at Mom's house by Carol, Paul, and Cosette and we enjoyed leftover sweet and sour boneless ribs and leftover meatloaf.  It was great to relax together, especially after the Orofino to Kellogg drive. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/13: Funeral, Burial, Our Family Winds Down

1.  My deepest hope came true:  Lila's funeral service was just right. 

2.  My deepest hope came true:  the short graveside service was just right.

3.  Winding down with family, ham, meatloaf, potato salad, and whiskey mixed with ginger ale was the perfect way to bring our day of mourning Lila and enjoying our memories of her to a close.

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/13: Familiar Roads, Macy's Thick Neck Help, Amazing Grace!

1.  Mom and I loaded ourselves into the car and traveled the familiar route to Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Lewiston, and on to Orofino.  It's a much easier drive than it was years ago.  But, the route is so familiar and so packed with great memories (as long as we forget the cigarette smoke in the car and the car sickness!).

2.  I needed some help at Macy's to find a white dress shirt that would accommodate my thick neck.  It took two Macy's employees, but their combined efforts succeeded and I left with a great shirt for Lila's funeral.

3.  Amazing Grace!  Many thanks to Bob for reaching out to Mom when she arrived and opening the way for them to have a great visit together.

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/13: Eulogy Additions, Mission Inn Lunch, Meatloaf Rocks!

1.  I coaxed some thoughts and memories out of my mom and then wrote a revision of the eulogy for Lila so that Mom's thoughts and story were included.

2.  Ed, Scott, and I met for an hour or so at the Mission Inn and talked about old times, really old times, and started to make plans to get together in Pendleton in November.

3.  Mom's meatloaf rocked! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/13: The Smooth Altima, Umatilla Sub, Radio On

1.  It works out really well to rent a car a drive it to Kellogg.  The Nissan Altima is comfortable and it drives smoothly.  I arrived in Kellogg in about nine hours, which, for me, is really good time.

2.  The half of a tuna sandwich with cheddar cheese, mustard, olives, and dill pickles on Monteray Cheddar Bread with some ice water in Umatilla gave me just the fuel I needed to finish the drive to Kellogg.

3.  Time flew as I drove, largely because I followed live radio coverage all day of the manhunt in Watertown/Boston.  The kid was taken into custody just before I arrived in Kellogg, so I had plenty to listen to all day.  The last time I listened to one thing on the radio and time flew like this was when I drove to Eugene from Kellogg while listening to the British Open, the one Tom Watson lost to Stewart Cink in 2010. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/13: Writing a Eulogy, More Than Meets the Eye, Service Ready to Go

1.  My office at LCC is a quiet place and coffee is never too far away and was the perfect place to sit and write the eulogy for my Aunt Lila.  I finished a first and polished draft.  I'll look at it again over the weekend to see if it needs additions or improvements.

2.  I've assigned my WR 115 students to write about how there is more than meets the eye in the portraits I took of them.  I invited any who were willing to talk in class about what they were writing about:  fatherhood, wanting to provide medical support to the Wounded Warriors as an act of gratitude to military men and women, how being a fifty-eight year old student at LCC is another of many roads in one student's life, a new life in Eugene leaves a life in Medford behind.  I was very happy with these students' ideas and I hope their stories triggered stories and possibilities in their classmates.

3.  I finished the service for Aunt Lila.  I just need to print everything and put it in my notebook.  I might make changes, but if the service were happening tomorrow (it's happening on Monday), I'd be ready to give it. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/13: Psalms Coincidence, Keep Moving and Walking, Getting Ready

1.  I went to 9:30 Eucharist this morning and the oddest thing happened:  when Jill opened the Psalter to lead the morning's reading of the Psalms, it was the exact same section from the exact same Psalm that I had chosen a day earlier for Aunt Lila's funeral service.

2.  I keep moving, walking, hoping it helps with my general health:  today I walked to St. Mary's and back home twice and I'm happy to say that not only did I breathe sort of hard, but my new REI hiking/walking shoes are almost entirely broken in and getting more comfortable all the time.

3.  I turned down two opportunities to leave the house this evening and did laundry and started packing for my trip to Idaho, doing all I can to not be throwing everything together at the last minute on Thursday (or Friday morning!).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/13: Mom and I Have a Plan, Getting English Right, Memories at Max's

1.  I talked to Mom and our plans are set.  I'll rent a car, drive to Kellogg on Friday, spend Saturday there, and Mom and I will travel to Orofino on Sunday and come back to Kellogg on Tuesday and I'll return to Eugene on Wednesday.  I also reserved rooms at the Konkolville Motel for Mom and me. Mom was anxious about how all of this was going to work out since she doesn't drive much out of town anymore, so she was relieved to know we had a plan -- and she likes the plan.

2.  I enjoy helping my students understand such fine points of the English language as the use of the apostrophe, when a sentence is complete, the difference (is this dying?) between "every day" and "everyday".  I try to soop it all up with humor and a bit of overwrought enthusiasm to keep things going.  I hope my fun somehow translates into my students coming to an understanding of these things.  Mostly, I want to help them stop guessing and have as much solid knowledge about our language as possible.

3.  I got off the bus at Patterson and 13th and started to stroll to Sixteen Tons and, for old time's sake, dropped in for a half a beer and some popcorn at Max's.  I might do this more often in the afternoons after I teach my class.  I have some pleasant memories, reaching back to the winter and early spring of 1982, of preparing for my field exam in  Renaissance Drama and Shakespeare and going to Max's after the library closed, riding my read five-speed bike, and having a few Blitz Weinhard beers before going back to my dorm room to get some sleep before waking up at 7 a.m. to have breakfast and start studying again.  There's no such thing as Blitz Weinhard beer anymore.  Some would say that's a good thing, but I would have had one today if there were. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/13: Out of My Way, Eulogy Help, Order of the Service

1.  Instead of taking the efficient route to the dentist this morning, I rode the long route, up Coburg Road, back across the north side of Eugene on Crescent, down Goodpasture Island Road, with Delta Ponds to my left, a stop at Valley River Center, and on up Country Club Road to the office.  I was a few minutes late for my appointment, but I enjoyed seeing parts of Eugene I don't get out to much in my day to day routines. 

2.  I put out a request to family members for memories and thoughts about Aunt Lila to help me write the eulogy for her funeral.  Some really helpful and heart-warming stories and insights have come my way.

3.  I think I have the order of the service for Aunt Lila's funeral figured out and I know my plan for including in the service passages from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels, and from the rest of the New Testament.  I'll work the Gospels into the eulogy and the benediction will come from St. Paul.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/13: Fixing Food for Church, Aunt Lila Has Died, My Lila-Filled Heart and Mind

1.  I got up bright and early this morning to fix tabouleh rice salad and onion garlic lentil soup, enough to serve twenty, for a church lunch/presentation to be given shortly after noon.  It was a lot of fun boiling and chopping and pureeing and mixing and I finished my food preparation in plenty of time to transport it to church and have it ready for people to eat (and enjoy, I might add!).

2.   While I was fixing this food, Christy called me with the news that our Aunt Lila died.  She was nearly ninety-two years old. Her death brought her full life to an end, a life full of service, of devotion to family, of bringing beauty into the world, and of  benevolence. 

3.  Lila's daughters, Lura and Judy, asked me to give the funeral service in Orofino and I will.  My mind has been filled with thoughts and memories and my heart with love.  Family members are beginning to send me their memories and reflections.  I pray we will mourn Aunt Lila and remember with happiness her goodness and loving soul.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/13: Market Time, Beer Lapping, Primo Pie Wait

1.  I ate some delicious sushi with miso soup at Pure before a fun photo stroll in the Saturday Market/Farmer's Market/Free Speech-drumming-juggling-free style dancing-selling jewelry-dog walking-dope smoking part of town.  I escaped without a contact high.

2.  The Deke and I met at the Sixteen Tons Cafe after I shopped for groceries and I enjoyed a Claim 52 Kolsch and Debbie lapped up some Track Town Brewing Chai Porter.

3.  We decided to dive into a pizza from Visualize Whirled Pies and while I waited for our divine pepperoni and sausage pie, I drank an Oakshire Kolsch and shot the breeze with neighbors from across the street, Chris, Pete, and Jessica while listening to Nate play guitar and then Chris joined him.  I had a blast...one of my best pie waits ever.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/13: Back Yard Progress, The World is Brails, Three Smarty Pants

1.  Back to the back yard:  can't say I made it a beautiful thing, but, I did finish the whacking, got the lawn totally mowed (finally) and weeded a section of what will be a new flower bed (someday!).  Mainly, I'm working to build up more yard work stamina.  I'm not in very good yard work shape, but improving.

2.  There's a lot going on in the world of LCC,  Bob Dylan, books, health, the New Yorker, etc. etc., and MB, Jeff, Michael, and I covered a ton of it at coffee today at Brails Coffee House. 

3.  After coffee, I made my way down 17th to Cornucopia and met up with the Deke and her teaching partner Jana and we entertained each other with stories, wise cracks, and laughter.  It was quite a social workout!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/13: Handing out the Portraits, Barefoot Hipster, Urban Wilderness

1.  I handed out the prints I had made of my students' portraits today. Overall,  I don't know if they were happy or disappointed or apathetic.  It's a good thing my enjoyment of taking these pictures is not dependent on seeing them react enthusiastically to being handed a pile of pictures of themselves!  Whatever they think of the pictures, I loved taking them.

2.  I saw a hipster on campus today wearing lavender Capris and a matching bandanna over his hair, sporting hipster glasses, walking barefoot, carrying a copy of the The Fountainhead.

3.  I went to a presentation of the Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah to learn more about the park and was inspired by the possibilities for walking and hiking.  All I need to do is get myself oriented out there as to where these things are and how to get there.  In time.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/13: Photography Project, Staying Home, Half and Half's

1.  I spent a good chunk of time today editing my students' portraits and then getting them printed.  The results are pretty good.  I mean my work was pretty good.  What the students bring to these portraits as subjects moves me, all the variety and moods and different mindsets, all the different stories waiting to be told.

2.  After running all over campus on Tuesday snapping pictures and spending today editing them and going through the slow process at Costco of printing them, and after running errands on the north side of town, I decided to stay home this evening and not go to the film festival's opening night.  I'm glad I did.  I needed the rest and the added hours of sleep.

3.  My slight case of fatigue also meant that I didn't cook dinner so the Deke and I went to Billy Mac's and sat at the bar in front of the bottled beer cooler and I saw bottles of Guiness and Harp, so I ordered a bottle of each with a glass and a spoon and poured myself half and half's.  Each one looked awesome, the golden lager topped by the darkness of the Guiness.  They were delicious and refreshing as well. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/13: Cross-Campus Portrait Project, D.B. at Hop Valley, Fatigue and a Half Pint of Beer

1.  I told my WR 115 students to each pick a spot on campus where I would take their portraits for a writing assignment.  I criss-crossed the campus, meeting students at Building 1, at the sculpture in front of the Health and Wellness building, on an undeveloped road that juts off from the west campus entrance, to the woods south of campus where cougars have been seen, to the track, the shot put area, the murals on the east side of Building 4, and on and on.  It was a good work out for my legs and wind and a great workout for me and my camera.

2.  After all that huffing and puffing around campus, I met my former Kellogg Wildcat asst. basketball coach, Dale Bachman, for lunch at Hop Valley in Springfield and we talked about everything from putting on plays in Washtucna, to moving Mercedes Russell to the high post against Willamette to stories about mutual friends from Kellogg.  It was a great time.  Oh! And I found the 541 Lager the perfect refreshment after about four hours of traipsing around campus taking portraits.

3.  I was so tired I drew the line at one half pint of beer, Oakshire Stream.  Nonetheless, tired as I was, I met with the Senior Warden and the Junior Warden after their vestry meeting ended and not only did we have a fun time talking and laughing, but we had a surprise guest:  Father Bingham Powell dropped in and joined us for a few minutes -- not to have a beer -- he didn't have time -- but long enough for some good-natured ribbing and for him to wind down a bit before heading home to his family. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/13: Weeding and Whacking and Mowing, Bagels Lift Spirits, Sirloin Strips

1.  I can't get it all done in a day.  I'm not sure I can get it all done in a week.  But I just keep pulling dandelions and weed whacking the lawn so I can mow it.  It's a slow undertaking and I don't have the stamina I once did, but I keep plugging away and will keep plugging away.

2.  I gave myself a morale boost by walking to Sweet Life and bring home a couple of raisin cinnamon bagels.  I ate the first one too fast.  I should have waited so I could enjoy it the way I did the second one:  toasted with butter.

3.  I cut the slab of top sirloin into strips, cooked them, and laid them over sauteed onions, red peppers, and mushrooms.  Simple meal.  Ridiculously delicious.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/13: Troxstar Summons, Father Nick!, "This is Really Good!"

1.  I thought I might get a text from the Troxstar.  I did.  It was a summons to come to Falling Sky and I tried the Upside Down Brown Ale on the cask and then switched to one of my very favorites, Wind-Up Bird Best Bitter, which tasted really good with my bowl of lamb stew. 

2.  What I didn't expect at Falling Sky was the arrival of Father Nick Parker, who had been our assisting priest at St. Mary's for several years.  Nick dropped in to check up on the Senior Warden, to make sure he was performing at a high level, and to quaff a pint with us.  I wish we'd had longer.  Nick was in good spirits, enjoying his holiday, and was getting ready to go to the coast for a few days. 

3.  The Deke had been feeling a little cooped up and hoped that after I'd had a few pints with Father Nick and Senior Warden Troxstar, I'd still be up for some relaxation at Cornucopia.  I still had a spring in my step and an eagerness to extend this relaxing Sunday, and so off we went, and the Deke said about 12,000 times, as she sipped from her glass of house red wine:  "This is just what I needed.  This is really good.  I'm so glad we came here.  I really needed to do this."  I must say.  I had a great time as well!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/13: Fifth Street Pictures, From Drain to Charlotte Amalie, Turkey Soup Surprise

1.  I had my 50 mm fixed lens on my good ole Nikon and when Russell and I strolled into Pure shortly after 11 for lunch, we found out it doesn't open until noon.  We decided to stick around the Fifth Street Market and take some pictures and wait for Pure to open so we could each have a tasty teriyaki chicken Bento special for lunch.  I started looking at small things:  rolls of ribbon, necklaces hanging outside the Swahili store, a miniature watering can, and, started looking through my camera through windows.  The 50 mm lens seemed perfect for all of this and I had a great time taking pictures at Fifth Street and was happy when Russell and I continued to take pictures there when we finished our delicious lunch.  Oh!  After lunch, I turned my attention to flowers at Rhythm and Blooms and water droplets.  

2.  At Fifth Street Market, we ran into Marcia and Gordon and Hannah and Joshua and enjoyed some animated conversation.  Hannah drifted off and, I think without her parents knowing it, went to one of those maps where visitors put push red-headed pins into the spot denoting the city they are are from.  Hannah was pulling pins out of Oregon and putting them in more exotic places.  From a distance, it looked like she was moving people, well, pins, from, say, Drain and letting them be visitors from Fuji
or maybe the Virgin Islands.  I thought what she was doing was harmless and funny so I didn't rat her out.

3.  I thought it would be fun to saute sirloin strips and serve them with sauteed onion, red pepper, and mushrooms, but the Deke found the two turkey legs I had purchased and she boiled broth and meat out of them and make a killer turkey soup. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 03/05/13: Road Trip!, Moving Portraits, George Foreman Feta

1.  Road trip!  Rita, Jane, and I piled into Rita's 4Runner and buzzed up I-5 to Edith's house where we enjoyed a stroganoff lunch with Rita's tomato, feta, paramesan, lemon juice, olive oil Greek salad, and hot cross buns and ginger snaps for dessert.  The conversation was delightful, the food was delicious, and we all were animated and happy to spend the afternoon together.

2.  I brought my laptop so that Jane and Edith could look at the portraits I took of my WR 115 students winter quarter and, along with Rita, who had seen them, they were delighted to see so many stories unfold before them in the faces of each of the students and marveled at the variety of aspects of themselves the students revealed in the multiple pictures I took of each one.  I've promised my students that I would never post their pictures online, and I won't;  so few people see these pictures.  Therefore when I can let people I trust see them, I love their responses, love how they are moved by what these students express about themselves in these pictures.

3.  The Deke and I stayed in again today for dinner and since were going to dive back into the couscous Greekish salad, with its feta cheese, I decided to pull out the George Foreman grill and fix some ground beef patties with feta cheese in the middle.  Honestly?  It was great. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/13: Jollier than Ever, Win-Win X 10, Greekish Couscous Salad

1.  Today  my work in the classroom took me back to my early days of teaching, back in 1977 and 1978 at Whitworth College and then back to 1981 and again in the middle 1980s when I was a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Univ. of Oregon.  Today also took me back to the two Jan terms I taught at Whitworth in '83 and '84.  In these particular times, I taught one course per term and this spring quarter at LCC, for the first time in twenty-seven years, I am teaching one course, one section.  It borders on exhilarating to be able to focus all my energy on one class of students, to be very well rested, to do nearly two hours of really good work and not have to repeat it, or try to repeat it.  There's a lot I really enjoy about teaching in my retirement and what I've written here might be chief among them:  I am doing some of my best work right now because I'm not, in any even remote way, overworked.  I'm relaxed.  I'm sharp.  My mood is really positive and I can tell, as I survey my students' faces, that they can tell.  I've been described, in the past, as the most jolly person/teacher some students have known -- and that's when I was teaching a full load.  Yes.  I was jolly with that full load.  I never knew I could be even more jolly in the classroom.  But, I am.

2.  Marla came over to give my cheap used lawn mower with the wheel that falls off a look and one thing led to another and we went to Market of Choice together to shop for groceries  and made a temporary swap:  my mower for her weed whacker since I've decided the backyard grass is too tall and wet to mow and she needed a mower for a spring cutting of her lawn.  This was a win-win in more ways than I can even count.

3.  Hey!  Remember that brown rice salad I made a couple of nights ago with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, almonds, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil?  I gave it another go this evening with couscous.  It was blissful. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/13: Day by Day, Wheel Falls Off, Grandchildren Postcards

1.  I'm doing all I can to be a regular worshiper at the Wednesday morning Eucharist at St. Mary's.  Each Wednesday morning service features a saint and today we learned about Richard, Bishop of Chichester, most famous for his prayer which was the basis for one of my favorite songs from Godspell

Day by day,
Dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.

2.   I got a bunch more weeds pulled and got out my cheap, used mower to mow the wild back yard and after about four minutes, one of the back wheels fell off.  My attempts to secure the wheel to the mower were unsuccessful and Marla kindly agreed to come over tomorrow with her toolbox and see if she has better luck than I did.  (I know she will.)

3.  The Costco package arrived with postcards I had made from pictures I took at the Eugene Roadster show this past Saturday.  I'm hoping it will make my grandchildren happy when they start getting truck pictures and stuffed animal pictures (from the show) in the mail.  They love the cards the Deke sends them of birds and cats and I'm hoping they'll enjoy these trucks and stuffed animals as well! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/02/13: I'm on Your Side, Brown Rice Greekish Salad, Milk

1.  Smiles opened across the classroom when I told my students the first day of class today what is most important to me.  To quote myself:  "I'm on your side."  The students relaxed.  They listened to me walk through the syllabus.  They even laughed at my wise cracks.  We got off to a good start.

2.  Do you ever do this? Mix cooked and chilled brown rice in a bowl with diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, kalamata olives (and some brine), roasted almonds, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil to make a brown rice salad?  I do and with the left over drumettes from last night, this was a really good dinner.  The Deke and I had a couple of dolmas each on the side. 

3.  I got word back from Bill Davie that he found my paper, "On Needing Richard Hugo" nourishing.  He called it milk.  It makes me very happy when people enjoy this modest bit of writing I've been tinkering with for nearly eleven years now. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 04/01/13: Yardwork, Painless Taxes, Delicious Drumettes

1.  The never ending yardwork project is underway:  I dug about 21, 000 dandelions out of the lawn and then mowed it, after buying a weed popper at Gray's and a gallon of petrol at the gas station.  The cheap used lawn mower performed great.

2.  Taxes e-filed.  Painless.  An affordable bill.

3.  Greek-seasoned chicken drumettes for dinner with the Deke's mouth-watering cabbage salad and rice that I thought I had screwed up, but, with the Deke's help, rescued.  Kicked off a relaxing evening.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 03/31/13: TurboTax, Teacher/Chicago Talk at 16 Tons, Whirled Pies

1.  I fired up the TurboTax software and calculated away.  I'll finish soon.

2.  The Deke and I had a great visit to Sixteen Tons where the Deke introduced herself to a woman whom we knew, from her husband's conversations with Eric (about beer) to be from the Chicago area and it turned out she was also a seasoned teacher and she and the Deke hit it off and gabbed about all kinds of stuff.  I enjoyed my Guiness.

3.  We sure like that Willameat Pizza from Whirled Pies:  thin crust, nice sauce, fresh basil, fresh grated cheese, generous meat.  Granted, we were in a good mood after Sixteen Tons...okay?...still, we declared it the best pizza we'd ever eaten!