Sunday, June 30, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/13: The Eucharist for Karl Sorg, The Dirty Business of Coal, Keeping it Simple at Billy Mac's

1.  Karl Sorg lived to be ninety years old.  His life was full of service as an attorney and as a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church and as a member of the Socialist Party.  Today was his funeral.  It was a dignified service that honored Karl's life and gave us one last chance to join together to celebrate the Eucharist in fellowship together in his honor. 

2.  I finished The Price of Justice today and because it's non-fiction, the book could not come to a tidy conclusion.  After nearly fourteen years, Hugh Caperton is still in court, trying once and for all to succeed in his lawsuit against the former company, Massey Energy, since purchased by Alpha Natural Resources.  This was a fine book, adding to others I've read about the world of coal mining in West Virginia.  It's a dirty world in so many ways, starting with the work itself and then there's the dirty management of the mines, the dirty politics, and the dirty damage done to the lives of everyday people because of the disregard by the powerful for how coal production affects common people, under the ground and above.

3.  After finishing this book, I decided to wind down the early evening at Billy Mac's and enjoyed a cheeseburger and some fries with a couple of very refreshing Corona beers.  I got to shoot the breeze a bit with Cathy and Derrick and enjoyed watching some baseball on the tube.  It was a simple, relaxing time.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/13: Hosed, Cutch, Mama's Little Yella Pils and Fun at Sixteen Tons

1.  I bought one of those things to roll up a garden hose with.  Now the front yard hose is rolled up on this thing rather than coiled on the ground.  Not having the hose coiled on the ground leaves a space open for a miniature rose.  I'll be preparing the ground and planting this rose a.s.a.p.  This is a big deal for me.

2.  The Cutch called me earlier this calendar year about getting together with him and Peter this September and I lost track of the call and hoped he'd call back or get a hold of me another way and today, in the mail, I received a micro version of "Waiting for Godot" from Cutch and Peter with an email address, so I emailed Cutch and our reunion in September is on.  I'm thrilled.  Big time.

3.  I hadn't been to Sixteen Tons for a while and the scene there made me feel good.  At one table a half a dozen or so men and women of all ages brought carrots, chips, dip, and other snacks and drank a bit of beer and were talking and laughing.  At another table, two young men and a woman were playing one of those special card games, not with a 52 card deck, but with cards that come in a game box.  They were enthralled and having a great time.  I sat at the end of a table where a young man and woman were playing rummy on the the other end.  A guy was in the corner drinking a beer and studying.  My bet:  a law student.  I sat quietly, smiling inside, and, upon Mike's recommendation drank a pint can of  Occidental Kolsch (nearly a perfect beer) and then, upon orders from Terry Turner, drank a pint can of Mama's Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues.  It was a very interesting pilsner.  I've got to try another when it's the only beer I'm drinking because I thought it had something going on in it that bordered on being a saison.

I'd be interested if any other saison drinkers who've tried the Little Yella Pils have had this experience.

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/13: Goulash (Sort Of), The Price of Justice, Charming Corgis

1.  An experiment that worked:  pinto beans, onion, celery, cabbage, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and some extra water mixed together into a goulash like stew sort of concoction that is really good.  Oh! Seasoned with sweet paprika, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.

2.  The book The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption has me under a spell.  It's about the way Massey Energy head Don Blankenship did business and the efforts of two attorneys, Bruce Stanley and Dave Fawcett, to bring him to justice.  It's gripping.

3.   When I dropped by CJ, Zoe, and Nicole's place to pay for Nicole's dog sitting and to express my thanks to CJ and Zoe for their support of Nicole's efforts, I was very happy to learn that Nicole really loved the corgis and that they charmed Zoe as well.  They really are wonderful dogs.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/13: Rose Garden Pictures, Cooking at St. Mary's, Cleaning at St. Mary's

1.  I haven't been taking as many pictures as I did before I started working in earnest in my yard and in my gardens.  Today it felt good to peruse the ninety-two pictures I snapped at the Portland Rose Garden and post ten of them on Facebook.  Here are two pictures that friends of mine have enjoyed:









2.   Father Bingham Powell is hosting a series of small group dinner in order to talk with parishioners at St. Mary's about the remodel of the parish hall and kitchen.  Tonight I was the chief cook and bottle washer and made a three cheese and basil tomato pasta dish with green salad and a loaf of bread.  I also got the cookies and ice cream ready for dessert.  It was a good thing I got started on the cooking really early.  It's very difficult to cook in some one else's kitchen -- it's hard to find things, hard to use knives I'm unfamiliar with, and hard to work with unfamiliar stove burners, bowls, and pots.  But I did it!  And the four church matriarchs, all long-time members, complimented me many times.  They loved the food.  They also split a bottle of pinot fusion from Sweet Cheeks Winery.  I hope it wasn't the wine talking when they said such nice things!

3.  I devoted myself to trying to do the running of the dishwasher and the cleaning of the kitchen right.  I hadn't run the dishwasher for a long time.  I tried to remember all the things I've heard people who are kind of territorial about the church kitchen complain about and tried to do the opposite.  I enjoyed being as meticulous as I'm capable of and I hope I don't get a report back that I screwed something up in the kitchen.  I'm sure I turned everything off, cleaned everything, and left the place looking pretty good. 






Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/13: Drizzly Day for Roses, Uninspiring Huber's, Home Again/Corgis Again

1.  For how I like things, the cool, gray, drizzly morning was perfect for Christy and me to take in the seemingly endless varieties of roses and other flowering plants (like fuchsia, irises, lilies, hostas, hydrangea, and many more) at the Portland Rose Garden in Washington Park.  We took a bunch of pictures, had a few good laughs with people we didn't know, and enjoyed the splendid experience of all those roses.

2.  We had lunch downtown at Huber's, Portland's oldest restaurant.  I'd go back for a cocktail in a fine old atmosphere, but my barely lukewarm, almost chilly, clam chowder and very ordinary, afterthought of a Caesar salad didn't inspire me to want to return to eat.  Now if I find out from someone who lives in the Portland area that I must have caught Huber's on a bad day, then I'd give it another go.  I enjoyed being there, but not eating at Huber's.

3.  Navigating downtown and the Washington Park area and walking among the roses left Christy and me in need of a nap.  It was refreshing and gave me the rest I needed to head on down I-5, which was all clear from the top of Portland to the outskirts of Eugene, and arrive home where the corgis were relaxed and content.  Thanks Nicole and Zoe!

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/13: Visiting the Hansens, Theology at Powell's, Henry's at 12th, Bonus: 'Hawks Win!

1.  Such a great day!  Christy and I gathered ourselves and drove to the gorgeous home and grounds of Jane and James Hansen.  I have known Jane for forty years, although we just got back in touch with each other in the last four years or so.  Jane gave Christy and me a tour of their very smartly remodeled home, of Jim's studio and gallery, and of the peaceful grounds of their home.  I talked with Jim about writing and Dan Brown while Jane prepared us a superb lunch of salmon and green salad.  Christy and Jane had never met:  they hit it off really well.  It was a smashing several hours together. 

2. After a period of rest at our room, Christy and I headed to Powell's City of Books.  Powell's is like a museum for me.  At museum's, I decide ahead of time what I'll focus on and I did the same thing at Powell's.  I focused all my curiosity and interest on the theology section, and, more precisely, on 20th the 20th century theologians Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rudolf Bultmann, and Richard Niebuhr.  I bought a few books.  Many I hoped to find weren't there.  Now it's time to enjoy these great thinkers who wrestle with the great philosophical questions of the 20th century and what they might mean in a Christian context.  My own interest is, and has been for nearly 40 years, the Christian conversation with existentialism.  My new books will help.

3.  Near Powell's is Henry's 12th Street Tavern where Christy and I had dinner.  After what I thought was a sort of frosty start with our hostess, things warmed up immediately with our server.  She was helpful, efficient, and had a ready smile and chuckle for some of my self-mocking comments.  I couldn't eat my entire reuben sandwich, because of its size. The sandwich was a bit mild.  I wanted it to have more of a kick.  I like corned beef to have a clovey taste.  This didn't.  I didn't think the sauerkraut was very "sauer".  I wanted the Russian dressing to speak up a little.  It was too quiet.  I enjoyed the restaurant and Christy and I enjoyed each other's company.  I'd give it another try and I'd order something other than the Market House Corned Beef Reuben.  (I still, after about two years, have not found a Reuben anywhere as tasty as the one I had in Pendleton at the Prodigal Son.)

BONUS:  The Blackhawks scored two goals in seventeen seconds near the end of the hockey game and not only won Game 6, they won the Stanley Cup!  How about that Deke!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/13: Isaiah 65: 1-9, The Power of a Positive Restaurant, Corgi Photos

1.  I'm telling you, I'm assigned about one Old Testament reading a month at St. Mary's Episcopal Church to read during the Eucharist and they are always good readings, but sometimes they are beyond good.  Today was such a day.  I read Isaiah 65:1-9.  If you feel so inclined, look it up.  Read it aloud.  Try to me true to the variety of tones in this reading, to the different voices.  Enjoy what it has to say, too.  Reading it this morning, I didn't want it to end.  I sure enjoy that the church lets me be a lector, a reader of Old Testament lessons.  (Or, you and I might prefer calling them Hebrew Bible lessons...)

2.   Christy and I deliberated and deliberated over where to have dinner and decided to go to the noisy (in a good way) and upbeat eclectic eatery called Beaches.  OK.  My margarita was kind of lousy.  But after that, my bleu cheese salad and New York steak was solid and the cognac I had on the rocks was a nice evening capper.  We had a very attentive waiter who I think would have gone to Powell's and picked up a book on fly fishing if we'd asked him and it was kind of fun being in a restaurant with so much positive energy.  (I mean about 75 employees greeted us when we came in and as we left about 75 more asked us how things were and told us good-bye.  I half expected Oprah to pop up and remind me and Christy that "the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.")

3.  I really appreciated Nicole posting fifteen (fifteen!) pictures of Maggie and Charly on my Facebook page.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/13: I'm Not Willy Loman, Resisting the Abstract, Won Ton Soup and Lo Mein

1.  I am happy to say that contrary to an extended dream I had, I am not playing Willy Loman in a play opening Monday and that I do not have to face the terror of not having started to learn my lines with dress rehearsal on Sunday.  I also do not have to serve the meatloaf I cooked for the meal provided by the cast on opening night.  In my dream, it was a good meatloaf.   I woke up relieved that in my waking life I am incapable of playing Willy Loman and so hadn't been cast in the role and that I am not part of the doomed theatrical enterprise of my dreams.  (Sometimes my dreams are audacious.  I can't quite fathom the audacity of even my dreaming/nightmare self casting me as Willy Loman.  I think I'm deeply afraid of finding myself in situations where I'm in way over my head.  That was the case in this dream and maybe the cause of this dream.)

2. Even though I'm retired and teaching on a reduced schedule, this afternoon, over coffee with Michael, MB, and Jeff, I got fired up about the parts of institutional program assessment that for many, many years I've never been able to come to peace with, even as I participate in it.  It has to do with abstracting student writing from the student and from the classroom, as if a piece of writing (called an artifact) can be assessed apart from the person who wrote it and the classroom context it was written in.  I know I'm spitting in the wind on this one.  Institutional assessment methods are established.  Solidly established.  I have lived and do live with it.  But I was surprised, even as I am retiring from institutional education, how much I cared about this conversation.  It felt good to get a little fired up with my friends.   

3.  Heh.  I went to Jade Palace and ordered a small bowl of won ton soup and a plate of the house special lo mein.  The waiter was concerned I had ordered too much food.  I appreciated his concern and countered that if it was too much, I could take some of the lo mein home.  Honestly, in eating the whole bowl of soup and the plate of Lo Mein, I didn't feel like I'd overdone it.  The soup was deeply satisfying.  I loved the sesame flavor of  the won ton soup and the texture and taste of the won tons and the Lo Mein noodles were nearly perfect for me:  just oiled enough, not dry, but not greasy, with tender pieces of chicken and beef and a handful of sweet shrimp.  It turns out the Saturday New York Times was a perfect companion for my meal. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/13: Plant Bandit, Miso and Sushi, Christie and McCallum

1.  I mean it's not a big deal.  But, still.  I hate it when I have a plant plucked, roots and all, from my flower spots in front of the house and I hated it this morning when I discovered someone had stolen a zinnia.   Do any of you who grow flowers have specific plants that nearly die and need resuscitation?  This was one of those plants in my triangle garden and my efforts worked.  It went from the brink of death to being vital.  Well, I replaced it with a cosmo.  It adds a little more variety both in plant and color to my triangle garden.  Honestly, I wish whatever knuckleheads over the years have swiped planters, stolen flowers, and plucked plants from my gardens would stop  -- but they don't, and I don't stop planting.

2.  Russell and I had a really good lunch at Pure.  I went with a bowl of miso and the chef's sushi special and the variety of tastes was a great pleasure.  It was a very relaxing lunch.

3.  Nicole and Zoe came over and met the dogs and everyone got along great and I celebrated by going over to Billy Mac's for a cup of clam chowder and a cheeseburger and some scotch whiskey and some IPA.  The place crazy busy so there wasn't much time to shoot the breeze with the help, so I enjoyed being quiet, watching UCLA defeat North Carlonia in the College World Series, and listening to Christie and McCallum cover Merle Travis, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks, and a variety of other artists in a way that put that kind of half-smashed, nostalgic, stare nowhere look on my face. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/13: St. Mary's and 20th Century Theologians, Bean Salad (I Guess), Stuck in the Middle with Pop and LeBron

1.  Members of the Adult Ed. Committee at St. Mary's had a spirited and very productive meeting over lunch today and discussed creating a short class that will study a handful of short readings written by four very influential theologians of the 20th century.  Discussing Bultmann and, earlier in the morning, reading Richard Niebuhr, Bonhoeffer, and Tillich took me back to my days at Whitworth in 1974-78 when young professors, with their studies at Princeton Theological Seminary still fresh in their minds, lectured on these theologians or weaved them into campus worship sermons.  It was thrilling to work with their ideas and insights again today and I hope there will be parishioners in our church who might also enjoy wrestling with these writers and discussing their indisputable relevance in 2013.  We'll see......

2.  I still had leftover cold kidney beans in the fridge and mixed them up with corn, avocado, cilantro, red pepper, tomato, white basmati rice and lime juice, lots of lime juice, to make a salad (I guess it's a salad) that I just couldn't stop eating, I enjoyed it so much. 

3.  One last NBA game for the season.  One last early evening on espn radio.  One last evening listening to Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown.  As a play-by-play guy, Mike Tirico is solid, but he doesn't thrill me like other radio play-by-play announcers have.  BUT, the on air chemistry between him and Hubie Brown, who is my all-time favorite, is so good that listening to them together is, for me, among my chief pleasures.  I enjoyed the game for a lot of reasons and I was disappointed for others.  I was very happy that LeBron James performed so well, hopefully silencing his detractors for a while.  At the same time, I have loved the San Antonio Spurs ever since Pop and Tim Duncan joined their organization and I hate that they lost.  I was rooting for both teams and so I was stuck:  I couldn't feel unbridled joy or total despair at the outcome.  I guess, for me these days, the game is the thing and I enjoy how these two teams go about it. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/13: New Garden Spot, Trip to the Nursery, Oakshire Public House

1.  When we had our yard landscaped a few years ago, we left a large spot on the northeast area of the back yard (northwest side of the house) unfinished, on purpose, and today I turned the dirt in that spot over and over and broke up clumps and worked new soil into it and put new soil on top of it and prepared a new garden spot.

2.  I went to the nursery and bought another low lying flowering shrub to add to the one I bought yesterday and bought some good sized perennials, including more black-eyed Susans, and put them all in the new garden spot.  At the very least, it's going to make looking out the northwest living room windows and out of the Deke's window much more pleasant.  There's more to do in this area, but I'm off to a pretty good start.

3.  Not long ago, the Oakshire brewing company built a public house across the street from the Wandering Goat and the Troxstar and I strolled down there this evening.  The place was packed and people from Harmony (they provide medical support at big events) were having a party and we found two stools at the bar and I enjoyed a pint of Reclamation Lager and a pint of Strawberry Farm, a farmhouse ale.  The strawberry taste was not all dominant.  It wasn't a fruity tasting beer.  Solid farmhouse ale.  The Reclamation, which they call a pilsner, was very good, too. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/13: More Flowers, Family Fun, It's Never Simple with LaBron James

1.  I made a dent in that mountain of soil Rexius delivered yesterday and worked soil into some bare areas in the front and bought a whole bunch of new flowers at Gray's and got them in the ground.  I really like asters, cone flowers, shasta daisies, and black-eyed Susans and look forward to these great flowers maturing and blooming.

2.  I heard from the Deke and her report about how much fun she is having with her brother and his kids made me really happy.  She also figured out how to turn on the television system.  She doesn't get much practice with that in our home!

3. Game 6 of the NBA playoffs was tense, exciting, unpredictable, complicated, and, in short, epic.  I will be happy no matter who wins Game 7.  I enjoy both of these teams.  But, the chief fascination for me is LaBron James.  Israel Gutierrez at espn.com helped me think more clearly about my fascination.

Here's what Israel Gutierrez had to say: "LeBron rose up for another 3 that would've tied the game. That one missed, though, because LeBron's storylines are never quite that simple, are they?"

I've been thinking this very thing for the last few weeks, without saying it so well. LaBron James did everything last night. He scored big shots. He missed a big shot. He dished out 11 assist. He had two turnovers in the last minute. It's never simple with LaBron James.

He's different. His story is his own. It's not like anyone else's in the Association, past or present. And it's got a long ways to go, this week and over the next several years.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/13: Mountain of Soil, Hedge Trim, Tabbouleh

1.  Success at Fred Meyer!  I found a push broom and a garden cart.  I ordered mountain of soil from Rexius and now I can get to work planting the huge bare spots in the back and shore up some of the front yard places.  I love having a mountain of soil and moving much of it to the backyard was a good workout.

2.  Before I moved the mountain of soil, I trimmed the hedge with a hand tool, not an electric hedge trimmer.  It's probably a crummy trim, but it's done.  And it gave me a good workout before I started moving soil.

3.  I also succeeded in making a splendid brown basmati rice tabbouleh salad.  It wasn't much of a workout, but it's tasty.  I think I'm following the Asian-Mediterranean Diet these days.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/13: U.S. Open with Dad's Ghost, NBA Finals with Dad's Ghost, Disappointing Dad's Ghost

1. All that was missing was a television.  And some Heidelberg beer.  I decided to spend Father's Day doing what Dad and I would do if he were still alive.  I subbed the radio for the television and listened to the ESPN broadcast of the final round of the U. S. Open.  Dad and I were both sentimental about golfers over the age of forty and my guess is we would have joined forces to pull for Phil Mickelson, knowing in the backs of our minds that he would do what he has done best in the U. S. Open five previous times:  finish second.  And he did.  I think Dad would have used one of his favorite sayings about Mickelson on the 13th hole and complained that he "coughed up his guts" with his tee shot that went over the green.  Dad never said athletes choked.  He always used the more vulgar and colorful saying, "He coughed up his guts." 

2.  I continued my Father's Day celebration with Dad's ghost by listening to the Spurs defeat the Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.  Dad would be a Spurs fan.  I can guarantee that.  He'd love Greg Popovich.  I can think of a lot of reasons he would have not liked the Heat.  No one really coughed up their guts in this game, but I'm going to imagine that Dad would have really enjoyed the resurrection tonight of Manu Ginobili and would have been a great admirer of Tim Duncan. 

3.  I confess.  I went off the Pert Woolum grid when it comes to dinner.  I stir fried broccoli, onion, mushrooms, red pepper, and purple cabbage with fresh basil and lime and served it over buckwheat Soba noodles.  Sorry, Dad.  I know if I'd served this meal, you would have found a way to throw it in the bushes in front of the house.  I think it was at this point during Father's Day that I heard the ghost of Pert Woolum say, "What's that shit?" and go to the icebox for another Heidelberg.  I cannot now nor could I ever always please my dad!

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/13: It's Not a Golf Course, Just Don't Have It Today, Live from the United Center

1.  With the rain showers having ended, I got out the push mower and cut the front lawn.  Unlike the power mower, the push mower cuts unevenly, misses some grass, but it gives me a little workout, especially when the grass is a little wet and longer than usual.  I thought back to the ten minutes Marty from Rexius spent here about a month ago, giving me advice about lawn care.  Her advice is working.  The lawn doesn't look like a fairway at Augusta, but it's coming right along.

2.  Russell and I have been going on photo strolls for quite a while.  I'd say we started going out regularly in the fall of '09, but I might have that wrong.  No matter.  It's been quite a while.  Today, for the first time, neither one of us was feeling it.  Russell was bushed after a demanding several weeks at school and I was just lethargic (for no good reason).  So we had a very tasty lunch at Pure and each purchased an iced drink at El Pato (my iced mocha was really good) and sat on the market porch facing 5th Street.  We talked about movies, television programs, the NBA, and other things; we watched a train go by; we watched some people; I only took about three pictures; Russell took several.  It was a cool afternoon, out of character, and very relaxing.

3.  The Deke sent me a handful of text dispatches from the United Center in Chicago while watching the Blackhawks and the Bruins battle to a 1-1 tie.  The Bruins scored in the first overtime, so while the Deke did not have the thrill of seeing the 'Hawks win, she got to experience Stanley Cup hockey, live, in person, with her brother.  I enjoyed experiencing a tiny bit of it vicariously. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/14/13: Bijou Metro Matinee, Gabfest, Jade Palace Overload

1.  The new Bijou Metro that opened downtown shows matinees every single day of the week and this makes me almost deliriously happy.  Today I watched an 11:25 screening of "Angel's Share".  I enjoyed myself a lot:  the movie featured splendid characters from Glasgow and Manchester, a gritty, dangerous working-class world, tight acting, and an unexpected story line (kind of a fairy tale) that included a plunge into the world of distilling whiskey.  I had a great time.

2.  Michael, MB, and I sat down over coffee and gabbed for nearly two hours about millions of things and Michael and I continued the conversation in the Brails parking lot and talked about a million more.

3.  When I'm home alone, I often purchase a family dinner for two to go from Jade Palace and it gives me a meal and then a ton of Chinese food leftovers to pick at for a couple of days.  I know, I know...these family dinners do not necessarily feature the best in Chinese food, but it always works for me and sure did tonight.  It's one of a small handful of things I enjoy doing when the Deke is out traveling the world.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/13: Bon Voyage, Happy Rain, Intriguing Heat

1.  I didn't enjoy saying "Have a good trip" to the Deke and I don't relish her absence over the next several weeks, but, we got to the airport in plenty of time and she has a great trip ahead of her.  Already, I'm really stoked for the good time she's having and what lies ahead and she's only just arrived! 

2.  I know it's standard practice to bemoan the June rain showers, but I look at how much my flowers and lawn and other foliage love the rain and I can't complain a bit about it.

3.  The unpredictability of the Miami Heat intrigues me.  Ya just never know.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/13: Farewell Disgruntled Student, Stanley Cup at Billy Mac's, THREE Overtimes

1.  I put the disgruntled student I played in five interviews to rest today after the last interview.  I bid him farewell at the corner of Broadway and Pearl, near the Greyhound station, before I dropped in at Noodle Bowl to have a spicy chicken bento box.  I really don't know if I'll ever see him again, but I got to like him over the last six or seven days.

2.  The Stanley Cup finals opened tonight.  The Deke's brother and three adult kids were at the Blackhawks/Bruins game in Chicago and she and I went to Billy Mac's and watched the game for three periods.  It was really fun to see the 'Hawks battle back from a 3-1 deficit and tie it, but we decided we couldn't stay for overtime.

3.  Make that the THREE OVERTIMES.  Ha!  Well, two and a half periods of overtime.  I came home and watched the overtime periods online and marveled at the stamina of these hockey players and couldn't believe the plays Corey Crawford, with a little help from his friends, made in front of the goal. Ditto Tuukka Rask.  How did these goalies maintain their concentration over the course of about 112 minutes of hockey.  And it's not like the Bruins' goalie, Rask, whiffed at the game winner.  The puck ricocheted off a stick and bounced off a  knee before sliding past Rask.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/13: Being a Student, Lawnmowers Fixed, It's Troxstar Time

1.  So I'm helping out the interview committee by playing the role of an LCC student in a mock conference with each candidate.  One candidate told the committee she thought I really was a student and was really the one who had written the paper we discussed.  Another faculty member on the committee told me that when I play this role he finds himself forgetting it's me and really believing I'm the student I've created.  This all makes me very happy, mostly because I'm doing the job I was asked to do in helping out this committee.

2.  Both my lawnmowers had minor problems that needed attention and Mme. Troxstar, who has helped the Deke and me in several such situations, cheerfully came over and did some taking off here and some tightening there and presto!:  both lawnmowers are functioning.  Now I just need to put them to use. 

3.  I met the Senior Warden, a.k.a. the Troxstar, at Falling Sky for a beer after vestry and it was a good time, although it was time to get on home before we quite finished solving the world's problems.  We got about as far as the pros and cons of brewing beer at home. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/13: Forgotten Pills, Self-Examination While Weeding, High Street and Molly

1.  I took a good mile and a half walk to Hiron's, picked up a prescription, and left one behind.  Ha!  I'll get the other one tomorrow.   I guess I was so fired up about my walk that my memory got wobbly.  Or something.

2.  I went to the shady spots in the front of the house and weeded and thought about -- -- well, I did some self-examination and made some effort to reassure myself about my teaching and the professional life I am mostly retired from and about life at church and in the theater, but I did not reassure myself about the state of my golf game.  But I wonder:  will I resurrect it?

3.  The Deke and I went over to the High Street pub for a quiet place to have a couple of drinks and shoot the breeze.  I hadn't had a Hogshead whiskey for quite a while and it pleased me.  I also pleased me to see Molly Shrewder!  Wow!  It's been about eight years since she was in the class MB and I taught together and we had so much fun.  It was great to see Molly!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/13: First-Rate Sermon, Salad Day, LaBron James Needs to Score More?

1.  Loren Crow's sermon today sharpened vague thoughts and feelings I've had about mission, feeling abandoned, resurrection, and, in a way he might not have expected, the way that the biblical readings during the Season of Pentecost take us more deeply into the profound nature of Ordinary Time.

2.  I made a delicious salad today using sweet brown rice and all the other ingredients I enjoy so much:  cucumber, tomato, almonds, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon, and parsley.   I also cooked up a batch of black beans to chill overnight and will make another salad using them.

3.  Especially because he had an average game scoring, my growing admiration for LaBron James grew again tonight as I listened to the Heat defeat the Spurs on the radio and as I  read descriptions of his play tonight.  I can't think of a player who has ever been so good in so many ways as LaBron James.  He sees the floor brilliantly, gets his teammates the ball right where they want it, rebounds, blocks shot, shuts down whomever he guards, and is willing to guard the other team's best player. And he can score from the post, the 3 line, as well as from mid-range. His jump shot looks about 400 thousand times better now than it did even three or four years ago.  He's smart, imaginative, and his courage is growing.  I think "best ever" debates are futile.  But in this moment in time, in this current version of the NBA, and within the framework of how the Heat play the game, LaBron James is a force. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/13: Working with Sparky, Shakespeare Showcase Pleasure, Farewell to Jesse

1.  I got up bright and early to work on the Showcase script, putting it all in order, making sure the edits were weaved in, trying to make it as tight as possible for the performances today.  Sparky writes the script, I read it aloud at rehearsals and for the shows, and together we edit it.  We work together perfectly.

2.  The deepest pleasure I derive from being a part of the Shakespeare Showcase is to see how much different actors grow and develop.  I thought a lot today about the early performances I saw of Radhika and Tasha.  They were always earnest, but, in the early days, about two years ago, they were hesitant.  They tended toward retreat on stage rather than fearlessly expressing their characters.  The stage is not the place to be introverted.  Now, they have become extroverted, much more confident, even radiant.  I loved seeing their radiance in both performances today.

For other actors, most whom I've never seen before, the growth that happened between dress/tech rehearsal, matinee, and evening gave me joy.  What a difference a first live performance makes when it comes time to do the second one.  It's where much of the joy of being a part of the Showcase comes from:  seeing mostly inexperienced actors gain a bit confidence and improve.

3.  Quite a night at Sixteen Tons!  "Man, it's packed in here!" I said.  "Yeah.  No surprise.  Jesse is an instution," said the bearded guy.  It was a great farewell as Jesse leaves Eugene and his job at Sixteen Tons to begin his studies at medical school. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/13: Theater First, It's Coming Together, New Friend at Billy Mac's

1.  I can't do everything.  That's what it comes down to.  This evening a party to celebrate the retirement of MB was in conflict with the second dress rehearsal of the Shakespeare Showcase.  I couldn't do both.  I decided, with MB's blessing, that I had to and wanted to fulfill my obligation to the theater.  While I'm sad to have missed the celebration, I am very happy I was there to do my part to get the Showcase rehearsed so the actors know what to expect from me as the show's narrator and guide.  Predictability, stability, calm, and order are so important in any kind of theater performance and I contributed all of that to both rehearsals at the expense of what would have been a really good time celebrating MB and spending time with people I've worked with for many, many years. 

2.  Showcase dress rehearsals are tech rehearsals, too, and so they go slowly.  In every theater production I've been in, I've loved watching the lights, sound effects, and other tech. details be added into the show and I've never lost my wonder for how tech decisions are made and implemented and how the whole show slowly and surely comes together. 

3.  After rehearsal, the Deke came out to LCC to pick me up.  We went to Billy Mac's and lo and behold the people we met the other night at the bar were there again.  I talked a lot with Danny from Kansas who had traveled out here to help a friend in an assisted living place.  He's been here a week, leaves soon, and established himself, with the Billy Mac's servers and with some of us regulars, as a really good guy.  I know if he returns to Eugene, I can count on seeing him again at Billy Mac's.  He loved the place, the food, the atmosphere, and the people who work and hang out there.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/13: Role-Playing, Almost Done with WR 115, Showcase Rehearsal, BONUS: Mutability

1.  I've been asked by the interview committee to do a some role playing, a wee bit of acting.  I play a student with some concerns about his writing class.  Today was the first go around.  I stayed in character!  I improvised! The committee seemed happy with how it went.  Four more to go.

2.  My WR 115 students who finished the course early came back to pick up their folders.  Only two of my students, for perfectly good reasons, still need some time to finish -- which means they will finish on time, not early.  That means I have only three papers left to read and only three final Itgrades left to figure out and enter.  Being almost finished this quarter is definitely one of the rewards of teaching just one section this quarter in my retirement. 

3.  Four and a half hours of Shakespeare Showcase rehearsal.  Actors who rehearsed today heard me read the introduction to their scenes.  The stage crew solidified what properties go off, what properties come on, and where things go.  The lighting of each scene got figured out.  So did sound effects.  I had a lot of time to do nothing but sit and reflect upon things while I waited to be needed again.  Hearing all this Shakespeare performed, my associative mind went nuts, remembering past experiences with these plays, wondering how I ever presumed to teach Shakespeare -- when I was younger, I even thought I knew what I was doing.  For many years now, I haven't taught Shakespeare.  Mostly I've listened.  I've kept my mouth shut.  Shakespeare's so big.  The words I used to have and the expertise I once thought I had seem so puny now.  I like that. 

Bonus: Mutability is one idea I learned a lot about from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.  Everything is in flux, is ever changing, is never fixed or stable.  I thought of the mutability of things today when my doctor's assistant called me with results of the blood work I had yesterday.  In just five days, the creatinine level in my blood had dropped (a good thing), giving us yet another reading on my kidney function.  These lab numbers tell the story of the body's mutability.  It's why I try not to respond to them with much feeling.  Nothing's fixed.  Things change, up and down.  I'll have more blood work done the first week of July before I see my kidney specialist.  New blood work.  New numbers.  Maybe a pattern.  Maybe the establishment of a range.  We'll see.  Stay calm.  Drink water. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/05/13: Reading Jennifer Haigh, Visit to the Doctor, Fun at Billy Mac's

1.  I read the first of a collection of short stories by Jennifer Haigh.  The collection is News from Heaven and the story's title is "Beast and Bird". I enjoyed it.  I read it as a story of a rural Catholic teenage girl coming from Pennsylvania coal country into the Jewish world of New York City and losing some of her naivete and beginning to come of age.  I look forward to reading more of Haigh's stories. 

2.  Within the reality of my chronic kidney disease, my visit to the doctor today wasn't too bad.  It's not good that the level of creatinine in my blood is up.  This indicates that my kidneys have lost some more function.  But, the increase isn't alarming and I can continue to do things to stay as stable as possible.  The disease continues to progress slowly.  Good news:  I've lost 12 pounds in the last several months since I last saw the doctor.  The giving my car away so I walk more and garden work is paying off, in my opinion.  So are some adjustments in my diet.  They continue.  My blood pressure, which cannot be high for the health of my kidneys, is actually lower than we'd like, but I'm not having dizzy spells or anything.  So that's good.  Everything else checked out just fine.  I see my kidney doctor in July.  The best news from my point of view is that I feel great. 

3.  Dinner at Billy Mac's turned into the Deke and I meeting new people (Bill, Steve, Kathy) and the evening turned into a fun gabfest at the bar.  We left pumped after having so much fun.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/04/13: WR 115 Winds Down, Quiet Lunch, Gloria

1.  My WR 115 students could finish the course today if they handed in their last essay early and nearly all of them did.  I'll return most of the essays on Thursday and a very good quarter will come to an end.  This has been an easy group of students.  I saw improvement in their writing and they worked right along with the things I assigned them to do.  We enjoyed each other.  In fact, it's been this way all year long in WR 115, so I leave the school year feeling good about the work we've done.

2.  I enjoyed a quiet lunch at the Bier Stein.  The reuben was good and so was the pasta salad.  The two half beers were also good, a Hef from Germany and an Alaskan ESB.  I had a good short conversation with Dave ("You doin' okay, brother?") about how browns, ESB, and ambers were all the rage as microbrews emerged around here.  I hope they make a comeback, although none of them have disappeared.  I sure enjoy all three styles.

3.  YouTube.  Patti Smith.  "Gloria".  SNL.  Holy Saturday becomes Easter Sunday.  April 17, 1976.  Pure.   In Excelsis Deo.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/03/13: Lawn Care Working, Three Mile Walk, The Baffling Dwyane Wade

1.  The approach to lawn care that Marty suggested is working so far, as best I can tell.  This is more of a relief to me than I care to admit.

2.  I walked to Hiron's on 18th to pick up a prescription.  I now know that to walk to Hiron's and back home again covers three miles.  Good.

3.  It was fun to go online and listen to a bunch of audio stuff about Game 7 between the Heat and the Pacers during the afternoon and then to listen on the satellite radio to the Heat blister Indiana.  Really, Dwyane Wade is a mystery to me.  Why was he so right tonight and so out of it earlier in the series.  I did more reading online about Dwyane Wade.  I'm not alone in finding him bewildering and difficult to like.  He sure gave the Heat a lift tonight. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/02/13: Series Finished, Back Yard Progress, Quinoa Salad

1.  I finished, for now, the short series of blog posts remembering the week Dad died in 1996.

2.  I made the most progress I've made all spring in the back yard.  Mostly, I weeded and took out a young, unwanted holly bush.  I'm making steady progress toward putting in a new flower bed of some sort in the area where we once thought we might build a deck. 

3.  Mr. Turner and the Deke both suggested at one time or another that I make a tabbouleh-style salad built around quinoa. I've made such a salad with brown rice and I've made it with couscous.  The Deke had also suggested that I use basil instead of parsley.  So I took their suggestions and combined quinoa, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, kalamata olives, almonds, basil, olive oil, and lemon juice. The result was mighty tasty. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 06/01/13: Delta Ponds Daisies, Give a Plant a Fish...., Summer Lilac Bushes

1.  Russell and I went out to Delta Ponds to take pictures.  I hadn't been our there since March. I'd read that the Ponds have been invaded by a non-native species of plant that has wildly proliferated and this is true.  I saw some waterfowl, and got a few pictures, but mostly I focused on taking pictures of flowers, particularly daisies. 

2.  I got some fish emulsion fertilizer and started the smelly project of getting plants fed.

3.  I've thinking and thinking what to plant in two spots in our little meadow area and today I put in a butterfly bush and a bloomerang summer lilac.  They should bring color and sweet smells to the north side of the house.

The Week of Dad's Death: June 1, 1996: Dad Died

Midnight.  June 1, 1996.  It wasn't much different from the other midnights over the last several days.

I was the only person up and awake and settled into another night of being ready to help Dad if he needed attention.

Mom got up at her usual time.  It must have been around five and I went upstairs to bed.

A short time passed. 

"Bill, we need your help!"  Mom called to me up the stairs. "Your father is off the bed."

What Mom meant didn't quite register until I got to Mom and Dad's room.

Dad had been thrashing.  Really thrashing.  He had slid, with the mattress, off the boxspring, and he and the mattress were mostly off the bed at an awkward angle.

Dad was immovable.  He was not conscious.  Mom and Christy couldn't move him.  I tried to help, but, together, we were unsuccessful.  We were upset.  We couldn't just leave Dad in this awkward position, mostly off the bed.

The next door neighbor, Jane, is a nurse and Christy went over to ask her to help us.  She had experience moving patients, getting the right angle, getting in the right position, and we hoped she could help us.

Jane came over and with much effort, we got Dad back on his bed and got his covers rearranged, but he was battling himself.

Dad thrashed and not predictably.  I remember worrying that he might be a danger to himself.

He fell into fitful sleep, but, periodically, he snapped himself awake, sat up, as much as he could, his unconscious eyes open, both blank and, I thought, afraid. 

It reminded me what has happened out on the freeway when I've been too tired to drive, but I push it and I start to fall asleep and I SNAP! catch myself, and wake up.  My whole body snaps.  It convulses.

Dad was doing something like this and we were concerned that he might hurt himself, and none of  was physically strong enough to constrain him.

We called the nurse practitioner in charge of Dad's medication and asked for help.

He said if we gave Dad a certain dosage of his pain medicine, it would help him relax.

I managed to pour a spoonful of crushed pill and warm water into Dad's mouth and he swallowed it.

Before long, he relaxed.  His breathing got steady.

The timeline isn't clear to me.  I think it was late morning when he settled down and we all relaxed a bit.

I either stayed in Dad's room or was checking in on him regularly.  He breathed in as he slept and his exhales were the sound of a tiny whistle.  His mouth seemed to shrink into a tiny O and the inhaling and exhaling came at longer intervals.

I didn't know it then, but now we are quite sure that Dad was slowly, and now, peacefully suffocating.  The nurse practitioner later told us it was likely that a tumor was closing his wind pipe.  The smaller and smaller wind pipe opening whistled.  The whistles were farther apart.

Then the whistling stopped.

I had the little television on in Dad's room.  I was watching VH1.  Dad died while Paul McCartney and Wings were performing.  I don't know what song.

I stared at Dad for a short while.

"Mom." Hushed tones. "I think Dad is gone."

She came in the room.  So did Christy.  Mom felt Dad's forehead growing cold.

She closed his eyes.

I called the police.  Someone called the funeral home. An officer confirmed his death.  A form got filled out.

The men from the funeral home arrived and carefully put Dad in a body bag and strapped him to a two-wheeled dolly and slowly wheeled him through the tight quarters of our small home.  I watched them drive Dad away.

My sorrow, knowing I would lose my father, began a year and a half earlier when his health began to fail and I just knew, in my heart, he wouldn't live a long time. 

The day after Christmas, 1995, Christy had arranged for George Goetzman to come to our home to take a family portrait.  Looking at the picture confirmed to me that Dad was in serious decline.  It turned out to be even more serious than I could tell.

My more immediate feeling on the day Dad died was more unexpected.

I was proud, even happy in a quiet way.

I was proud and happy because Pert Woolum's family did the right thing.

Dad died at home, in his own bed.

Friends were free to visit him.

He had the company of Mom, his kids, his grandchildren, and, for a while, his brother.

We pulled together to help Dad die and to support each other.

Dad left behind a family that has even grown stronger and happier together over the last seventeen years.

Pert Woolum would be proud.


(I've written six other pieces about the week Dad died, hereherehere, here, here, and here.)













Saturday, June 1, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 05/31/13: Breaking the Fast, Clarifying Memories, Charming Writing

1.  I broke my blood draw fast with a power muffin and a cup of coffee at Chase Garden cafe.

2.  I finished two more posts about the couple of weeks or so leading up to Dad's death and got some much needed help from Christy about some facts I was mixed up about.  On the one hand, I want to be accurate to my memory of things, knowing that it means I'm writing subjectively; on the other hand, I would like to keep a few objective facts straight.  For example, I want to be accurate about the fact that our whole family went to Prichard -- without Christy's help, I wasn't sure -- and with her help, it came back to me. 

3.  My fortune cookie today told me that my writing is charming.