Saturday, November 30, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/13: Delta Ponds with the Q, Prepping for the Deke's Return, Facebook Friday -- Almost

1.  Once I increased the LCD screen's brightness on the back of the Pentax Q, and, now that I have turned off the power saving option that made it go dim after ten seconds, I had a good time testing my 50 mm Nikkor manual lens attached to my Pentax Q with my new Fotodiox adapter. (Heh.  That might be the most tedious sentence I've written since starting this blog!)  I went to Delta Ponds and started learning what I could focus on and close/far away subjects could be.  It was a relief, actually, that I was able to take some pictures and enjoy some of the results:





2.  In anticipation of The Deke's return on Saturday, I went to the grocery store and made sure we had enough coffee, vegetables, grains, and Soba noodles for the next few days.  Why was it so quiet at the store?  Why so few people?  Ducks/Beavers, maybe?  It sure was nice having the place be so relaxed.

3.  Adam, the Troxstar, and I spent the duration of the Ducks/Beaver football game making smart alec remarks on Facebook, entertaining each other with our keen wit and broadcasters' cliche.  We gave it 110 percent and, in the end, we could hold our heads high.  (It was kind of like Facebook Friday again!  I used to have a lot of fun joining in with the Troxstar's high school pals being witty and posting YouTubes and telling stories on Friday evenings...Facebook Friday went away, but
Adam, the Troxstar, and I breathed a little life back into it last night....)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/13: Deuteronomy-Eucharist-Prayer, Walking Sweet Creek, Play and Dinner

1.  When the Deke decided to spend Thanksgiving with her brother's family in Illinois, I immediately decided that I wanted to spend the day in worship in the morning and by myself in nature in the afternoon and then figure out dinner.  It wasn't easy turning down two generous invitations.  Both inviters were understanding, not offended, thank goodness.  The Thanksgiving morning Eucharist is a most fitting way to start Thanksgiving Day.  I was asked to read the Old Testament lesson, Deuteronomy 26:1-11, and it really got inside me and I loved bringing this testimony to gratitude alive.  I lit candles for Julie and Greg and Kendall and Adrienne and Jack and the Deke and Molly and Patrick and Mom, as I stood before the altar of candles, opened the vault of prayers I've stored in my heart over the last many days and asked God to listen to them all.

2.  I had originally thought I would go to the ocean for Thanksgiving Day, but suddenly, as I was enjoying my morning coffee, I realized I hadn't been to Sweet Creek Falls since Snug died.  I loved walking him on that trail and I love the waterfalls and the trees and moss and beauty of that trail, so I went there instead of the ocean.  It was sublime.  Here a few pictures of my walk:










3.  I ended this Thanksgiving Day with play, slot play, and the Thanksgiving buffet at Three Rivers Casino.  My slot play paid for everything, which was fun -- I always like leaving with the same amount of money I came in with.  I ate my dinner in a quiet corner of the sports bar and watched the end of the Raiders and Cowboys and the Ravens-Steelers pregame.  I had a full meal:  a small Caesar salad, prime rib, pork loin, stuffing with gravy, green beans and bacon, a few breaded shrimp, rice pilaf, some artisan bread, and pumpkin pie and soft vanilla ice cream for dessert.  The woman who waited on me called me "Kiddo" and I might have been more grateful for that than anything all day long!  She was really kind to me.  This mirth and meal rounded out a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. 

 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/13: Talking to Mom, Q Learning Curve Steepens, Reading and Eating at the Pour House

1.  I had a good talk with Mom this morning, but came away from it wishing, for her sake, that more than managing pain could be done for her physical well-being and comfort.  She bears her pain, as she always has, but being able to bear it is hardly the same as being relieved of it.

2.  The Pentax Q turns my 50 mm Nikkor manual lens into a fixed focal length zoom lens, I guess you'd say.  Objects that once were farther way are now closer when I mount the 50 mm on my Q.  It's disorienting for me and I'm not used to being without a viewfinder.  So I took the Q and the manual lens out in the back yard so we could get better acquainted.  I am having trouble with manual focus, but I did turn off the power saving feature in the Q so that the LCD screen doesn't go dim after 10 seconds and that will help.  I'm sure I'll get this worked out over time, both the focus and how the lens works in relation to subject matter at what distance.  Today, for me, because I'm this way, it was a workout.  I'll post pictures I've taken with the Q and this lens when I like what I've done a bit more.

3.  I decided to take advantage of having a superb deli and brewpub just two blocks away and walked over to the Pour House and ordered a bowl of their astonishing chicken noodle soup and an open faced smoked salmon sandwich on a pumpernickel bagel.  I had a pint of Hans Sprungfield Best Bitter and a 12 oz glass of ILLCoMUNICHation Lager.  I sat at their bar with the latest New Yorker and read Hilton Als' very positive review of Tim Carroll's all-male Twelfth Night production and his dismissive review of Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I also read a review essay looking at books about Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Apple that put the corporate practices of these behemoths in an historical context of how CEOs behave and how, traditionally, corporations have functioned, regardless of the master narrative these entities tell about themselves.  Oh, I took a some pictures of the Pour House as I left. Here's one:


For those of you who know this neighborhood, but are no longer Eugene residents, this is quite a change from the when the Art of Glass occupied this building.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/13: WR 115 Wrap Up, Fotodiox Adapter Arrives, Chewin' the Fat with Kelly

1.  Focus on a central idea.  Develop details.  Move purposefully from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph to create coherence and structure.  Work between the abstract and the concrete.  I wrapped up my instruction in WR 115 by telling my students that this is what good writing comes down to.  Purpose is in the focus.  Details are for the audience.  So is structure. Content is both abstract and concrete.  It's like developing a golf swing:  just hit the damn ball.  Just write.  What state of mind is needed?  Let it rip.  Relax.  It's not easy (at all), but it's simple.

2. The adapter from Fotodiox arrived today.  I figured out how it works, although it took me a while to figure out how to release the Nikkor lens from the adapter.  I was nervous for a while, but I figured it out.  That was a big relief.  Happily, I can now use my 50 mm Nikkor manual lens, as well as my other manuals, on my Pentax Q.  I look forward to getting out and about and seeing what I think of how my new camera and my manual lenses work together. 

3.  Kelly and I last enjoyed a few beers together over a year ago at 16 Tons when the joint had a farewell party for both Colin and Emily.  Finally, we got together again tonight at the Pour House and got caught up on all kinds of stuff and had a great time chewing major fat.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/13: Birthday Breakfast at Brails, Lost Children are Really Lost Boys, Stir Fried Noodles and Calm

1.  Rita and I celebrated started celebrating her 70th birthday by going to Brails for breakfast and we had a great time talking about the days we used to teach together and about plenty of things that are alive and meaningful in the present, as well.

2.  After we took a spin around Eugene so Rita could see the where the taprooms and grills are that the Deke and I haunt, we came back to my place and watched the documentary Buddha's Lost Children (2006).  It's about a Thai monk who works in northern Thailand near the borders of Laos and Myanmar, giving new life to young boys orphaned or otherwise in need of family.  The area's social fabric and economy have been crippled by drug trade and the monk Kruh Bah teaches these boys to box, work with horses, work with others in building projects, and other positive things in the context of Buddhist principles.  Kruh Bah has a keen sense of what gives life to the human soul and kindles new life in these young boys as they travel by horse from village to village, rebuilding dilapidated temples and doing other projects, sometimes in dangerous situations.

3.  I had a great timecooking myself a tasty ginger, tofu, onion, eggplant, mushroom, celery stir fry with soba noodles fried in sesame oil and relaxed with Maggie and Charly until bedtime.   It brought a quiet end to a wonderful day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/13: Looking Over Pictures, An Imperial Afternoon, Timbers and Patriots

1.  I spent nearly the entire morning and into the afternoon reviewing pictures I'd taken over the last few days.  I had fun using my primitive editing tools to improve them, taking the rough draft version from the camera and making a more (I hope) polished version.  I see flaws.  I look at a lot of other people's pictures and I see much better work than mine.  So why spend all this time?  Am I trying to get to the level of the photographers I follow on Tumblr?  Not really.  I try to learn things, but mostly walking around taking pictures, trying out some things, trying to learn more...mostly it makes me happy and it made me happy looking at my pictures.  I like doing this, however good I am or not...heh...I learned a long time ago that no matter what I undertake...teaching, taking pictures, playing baseball or golf or basketball, writing a blog, cooking, keeping up on beers, all of it:  there are always many, many people better than I am.  No problem.

2.  The Deke and I had another little dark beer session this afternoon.  I popped open that bottle of Deschutes Black Butte XXV Imperial Porter I bought yesterday evening and when I took my first sip I felt like I'd been dropped into an open market in Istanbul the beer was so rich in fig and date flavors, not to mention coffee and chocolate and vanilla.  Oh, my!  The hoppy finish kept this from being a birthday cake, adding to complexity of this superb imperial porter.  Then the Deke wanted more, so when I went to get some bread for our upcoming dinner at Chez Troxstar, I bought us each a small bottle of North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin Imperial Stout.  It didn't have the Turkish open air market experience locked inside of it, but it tasted more like what I look for in a day to day stout:  toasty, coffeey, chocolatety, with sweet malty balance and, once again, enough of a hoppy finish that it's not like drinking a super sweet coffee drink from Starbuck's.  We enjoyed our little tasting session immensely.

3.  The Troxstar decided to try out his vegetarian chili recipe for a pre-game meal before the Pats and Broncos played and he knocked that chili out of the ball park.  The game started badly for the Pats so the Troxstar, his missus, the Marla, and I headed over to the Tap and Growler to watch the Portland Timbers go down in defeat, but, as we watched that match, the Pats' game got really good and we watched the last several minutes of the fourth quarter and the overtime and left the Tap and Growler warmed by the Pats' victory.  We also met some fun people during the soccer match and I had a very nice time chatting a bit with Gutenberg Jen.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/13: Learning the Q, Imperial Stout Tasting, Cheese and Crackers

1.  After some excellent sushi at Pure, Russell and I went to 13th Ave. at the U of O and then to 3rd Ave. in the Whiteaker part of town and took pictures.  I took all my pictures with my new Pentax Q and often, with this new camera, I feel like I've never taken pictures before.  It's always this way with me when I have a different camera in my hands.  I'm searching for my sweet spot, for my wheelhouse, for my comfort zone.  Here are three of the pictures I took yesterday:




2.  The Deke and I are having fun tasting different kinds of imperial stouts.  At the store today, I purchased The Abyss, one of my favorites over the last two years. I really like its figgy/molassesy quality and its rich depth. Then I went back out, to the Bier Stein, and bought a Widmer Brothers raspberry chocolate Russian Imperial Stout.  It was unique because of the raspberry hit that came second, after the first hit of chocolate and other stouty tastes and its hoppy finish balanced out each sip.  I also bought a Deschutes Black Butte XXV, an imperial porter, made in tribute to Deschutes' 25th year of brewing the always tasty Black Butte Porter.  I drank XXIII on Thanksgiving Day two years ago, missed last year's version, and the Deke and I are saving this bottle for tomorrow afternoon.  I am really happy that we enjoy these imperial stouts/porters. They have a pretty high alcohol by volume and splitting bottles between us is just right.

3.  The stout tasting was made even more pleasurable as we chomped on aged Irish cheddar cheese and black pepper crackers.  So simple.  So tasty.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/13: Stu and I Remember, Day #1 with the Q, Base Camp S'more Stout with Michael

1.  He's the Stu.  Stugart.  Sturt. Mulligan. He's Scott Stuart, member of the Great Guys Hall of Fame, and he started texting me this morning about how he and I heard the news about the president being killed fifty years ago.  Then we talked on the phone.  I remembered I was shooting a basketball through a fire escape brace at the back of the school (this was our hoop, since we didn't have an outdoor basket) and David Rowley told me the president had been shot.  Scott remembered Eddie and Johnny Lee telling both of us.  We decided we might both be remembering correctly and agreed it's hard to remember everything with clarity when it happened so long ago.  I have to say, though, that the David Rowley memory is the one I've been sharing with people ever since college when I first was aked the "Where were you...?" question.

2.  I walked to the U. of O. campus today to buy a memory card so I could give my new Pentax Q a spin.  As much as I take pictures, it always surprises me a bit how much I have to learn when I have a new or different camera in tow.  I made some progress today with the Q.  I have some things to adjust to, to get used to.  I looked at the pictures I took, didn't put them on my desktop yet.  I was tired and decided to wait until Saturday some time.  Then I'll post some of my first pictures with the Q.  I look forward to getting used to how it operates and to the way its zoom lens functions.  Right now, the Q is operating me more than I am operating the Q and that's just fine.

3.  Michael and I met at the Bier Stein for some Base Camp S'more Stout and for a great conversation about all kinds of stuff.  Michael respected my retirement from the details of English department business and we talked about all kinds of other things.  The Deke joined us about an hour after we got together and her arrival raised the level of conversation even higher and we parted ways as the Bier Stein started to get crowded and noisier, happy that we could be such good friends and enjoy each other so much.  (You know, before I went to the Bier Stein, I had to know if 16 Tons still had Velvet Merkin left in the keg and they did and I enjoyed one more half pint and then had a slow half pint of Velvet Merlin for old times sake.  It was a very pleasurable visit to one of my favorite taprooms of all.)

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/13: Lionel Ritchie's Not the Only One Who's Easy, Takin' the S95 to the Streets, Velvet Merkin Imperial Stout is Brewed in Heaven

1.  A few of my students today thanked me for being "easy".  They were thanking me for being flexible and understanding, for making it easy for them to do their writing and, I hope, to be successful.  Many, many years ago I gave up the hammer, for the most part (well, did I ever really have the hammer?), and decided that students do better work in school when they aren't under unnecessary stress, don't have work piled on them, have my support, and can work in a variety of ways, not in some single way that I dictate.  It all goes back to the Gerald Stern poem, "Her Right Eye Catches the Lavender" when, as one aging, the poem's speaker asks:

. . . . Why did it take so long
for me to get lenient?  What does it mean one life
only?. . . .

I read that poem over twenty years ago and began to think all the time about being lenient, first as a teacher, then, over the years, with friends, with my mother and sisters, and then, finally, the harder areas of my life to be lenient:  with the Deke and with our family.  I had failed the leniency test in previous marriages and in other relationships, and it's taken me many years to be lenient at home.  But I am.  Why did it take me so long?  One life only.  Right?  Why not make it a lenient one?  It's such a better way to live and a better way to be with the people I know, work with, and teach.

2.  When I do it, I really enjoy riding the bus from LCC to the University of Oregon.  Today I had a 4:00 meeting at church so I had time to ride to the University where I ate a ginger stir fry at Sweet Basil Express and then I had a blissful hour or so walking around the campus and the nearby streets taking street pictures with my Canon S95.  It's not jamming!  (How excited was I?  Well, the Deke and I went to Billy Mac's around 7 p.m. and Russell was just leaving as we were coming in and I was in a state of ecstasy after drinking Velvet Merkin Stout at 16 Tons and I think I sounded like an Elliott Bay ferry fog horn, I was so loud bellowing to Russell about all the fun I had taking pictures on campus.  I hope I didn't frighten Allie....) Bringing the S95 back into action is reminding me how much I enjoy taking covert portraits and pictures of things happening on the sidewalks and the streets. I'd forgotten how much fun such picture taking is with this camera, to shoot from the hip, often with surprising results.  The pictures I took will never make into books about street photography.  They'll never be considered great examples.  But, I'm lenient with myself, and here are three (of many) pictures I really like:




Taking these pictures and enjoying them leniently is a Private Eccentric Pleasure.  Now it's more public!

3.  So, after the meeting at church, the Deke and I went to Sixteen Tons and we didn't know (or remember) that it was a Firestone Brewing night.  I love Firestone's beers and look forward to the fall when they release their Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout.  Sooo, I went to the counter and gave Matt my order and he thought I wanted Velvet MERKIN (not Merlin) because the MERKIN is very limited release beer and is adored by stout lovers.  I didn't know any of this and when Matt handed me the MERKIN and I tasted its oaky chocolatey bourbony angel cake sweetness, I nearly passed out with pleasure.  I've never been so happy for a beer server's mistake.  The Deke joined me in drinking half pints of Velvet Merkin and we marveled at our good fortune to be drinking such delicious beer, to be enjoying one another's company and conversation.  I was on a picture shooting high.  I'd been very happy with the meeting at church.  I was really happy to be with the Deke.  And, then, Velvet MERKIN.  I was giddy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/13: Trotting the S95 Back Out, Pentax Q Arrives, Stocking Cap at the Kiva

1.  My Canon S95 is a powerful small camera, but the only way I can put it is that it started to jam.  The lens wouldn't move.  I had it fixed and it seemed to work fine when it came back, but then it jammed again at a vintage car show at the fairgrounds and again when my sisters and I went to Nelson, BC.  It didn't stay jammed, but the problem frustrated me, and I didn't use the camera for a while, until today.  I bought a Pentax Q.  It would be coming by UPS to the house some time today and I decided to see if the S95 would work.  So, I trotted it out and had a great time taking some pictures today and it never jammed, to my delight.  Here are a couple pictures I took and liked:

2.
Charly

It's Halloween Every Day


2.  My Pentax Q arrived and I charged the battery, put the strap on it, and delighted how it fits in the leather case I bought.  It will be my first time using a case where I can attach the camera, at the bottom, to the case, and shoot while the case and camera are of a piece.  I read the early chapters of the manual slowly and carefully and I'm starting to understand how the menus work and what this camera can do.  Now all I need is a memory card.  I'm fresh out of new cards here at the house.  I'm eager to get going with this delightful, price chopped, small camera and its interchangeable lens system -- even though I only have the zoom that came with the camera. (But, I have my eye on the prime lens Pentax made for the Q series.)

3.   I don't know the woman's name who checked me out at the Kiva today, but she's a long-time employee and is a good person:  I've seen her be very helpful with people in the store and I often see her talking and laughing with fellow employees.  She asked me about the stocking cap I was wearing and I told her my wife knit it, originally for one of our grandsons, but she made it too big, so I got it.  She laughed and then I told her it was the third cap the Deke had knit for me and she thought I was a pretty lucky guy. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three Beautiful Things, 11/19/13: Lights Going on in WR 115, Retired from the Bureau, Ride and Salad and Whiskey and Rosy Cheeks

1.  As a writing instructor, I never know if lights will go on in my students' minds about all kinds of things related to writing.  Today, however, when one student showed me a revision of her work on when when she realized her first communion was more than a new dress, another student showed me her work on the physical demands and the intelligence her husband's job as a firefighter demands, and when another student asked me insightful questions about her paper on the way her CNA work required a merging of the body and the mind, I saw that lights had gone on in WR 115. 

2.  One of the many things I enjoy about working two days a week as a retired instructor is that I am not involved in the discussions having to do with how the English department functions.  This means that if I see Dean Susan Carkin's office door open, I can drop in and say hello and enjoy her as a good person and not talk with her as a bureaucrat, or, really, as my boss.  I had such a brief encounter today with her and my good friend and fellow instructor Jose in her office and we shared good cheer, some laughs, and almost as quickly as it started, this little visit was over. 

3.  Russell kindly offered me a ride home from LCC, saving me a walk home from the bus station in a downpour and so I was dry and happy to have talked with him when I got home and fixed myself a salad stocked with greens, cabbage, baby carrots, and cucumber, dressed in with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and pepper and then, with a little food inside me, enjoyed some Pendleton Canadian Whiskey, and relaxed after a day of teaching that made my cheeks rosy.  I didn't know my cheeks were rosy, but when Dean Susan Carkin asked me why my cheeks were rosy, I told her I'd been teaching my ass off.  It's true.  Teaching my ass off makes my cheeks rosy. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/13: SELCO Picture Taking Walk, Keeping a Promise, The Pats at Billy Mac's

1.  I needed some money out of an ATM and I walked, just for the pleasure of it, eleven or twelve blocks to SELCO Credit Union and along the way I found several chairs, sofas, benches, and other places to sit, mostly on porches, and I took pictures to add to my collection, "Come -- Have a Sit".  Here's one that some people told me they liked:


2.  I brought home papers to grade to be turned back on Tuesday (tomorrow) and I decided not to grade them and do them in the morning instead.  It's part of a promise I've made to myself to only work on the two days I go to school and to take the other five days off.  I succeeded and I know I'll get those papers back in time.  So, no, those of you who warned me, I have not expanded part-time work into full-time work, and, no, I have not let my retirement be dominated by a two day a week job.  I don't work a hell of a lot more than I work -- as it should be for a retired guy. 

3.  The Deke, the Troxstar, and I piled into Billy Mac's, seized three stools at the bar, ordered drinks and food, and settled in to watch the Patriots and the Panthers play a superb football game.  I was especially impressed with Cam Newton and didn't want to be.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/13: Yard Work, The Deke Craves Clam Chowder, The Deke Craves Pizza

1.  I took delight in raking more leaves in the back, bringing them to the front, and mulching flower beds.  I also took delight in getting some weeding done in the wild bed on the north end of the front of the house.  There's more to do and more delight ahead.

2.  The Deke suddenly told me she was craving clam chowder and so I strolled down to the Fisherman's Market and brought home a pint of chowder and a pint of seafood stew.  What a neighborhood we live in!  Superb seafood just over two blocks away.  Same with Italian.  Mexican.  Chinese. Two blocks away the best reuben I've ever eaten and the best chicken soup.  Two blocks away I can eat great biscotti or other sweets.  We marveled at how fortunate we are to be so close to such good food and we loved our fish soups.

3.  It was a day of craving for the Deke.  Early in the evening she craved pizza and guess what?  I can walk just over two blocks up Monroe Street to Whirled Pies and buy a fine New York style pizza pie.  We ordered a personal Lincoln Park:  homemade sausage, caramelized onions, and kalamata olives and, of course, Whirled Pies' signature fresh basil and fresh grated cheese.  We enjoyed the pizza and I enjoyed that the Deke's cravings today led to us eating some food I never would have purchased on my own.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11-16-13: Spring Cleaning in the Autumn, Foreclosed House for Auction, YouTube Bliss

1.  I've decided to do some of the spring yard cleaning stuff over the winter, stuff like weeding and taking care of leaves.  I got a good bit of work done this morning and look forward to more tomorrow.

2.  Russell and I took a good walk along Amazon Creek and took pictures.  But, first, we took pictures at a boarded up house that's up for auction this Thursday that had been occupied by people using it as a drug house.   Here are some pictures:







3.  After making a splendid eggplant ginger stir fry dinner, I spent a few hours listening to footage on YouTube of musicians ranging from Phil Collins to ZZ Top to Dire Straits to Elton John.  I especially enjoyed listening to Mark Knopfler's guitar work in "Telegraph Road". I blissed out.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/13: Composing Pictures, Relaxing Over Coffee, (For Us) A New Watering Hole

1.  I don't have a learned photographer's sense of composition.  I read things about lines and thirds and other stuff and it tends to confuse me rather than help me, although I think some of it sinks in and is at work even though I'm not thinking about it.  I can't analyze anyone's pictures, especially my own, with the language of photo composition.  It's just not how I see pictures, let alone see things through the viewfinder.  (I try to keep this in mind when I teach writing, that the language of essay composition might muddle the minds of my students as much as mine is muddled by the language of photograph composition.  It's why I barely use words like "thesis" or "transition"....)  Anyway, as I take more pictures for my "Come -- Have a Sit" collection, I think maybe it's becoming as much a way to be more mindful of picture composition as anything.  I don't have language for this, but as I look at pictures I took today, I want to go back to some of the porches and chairs and retake them because I think I could compose the picture better and it might be that this funny little project will help me do this better.   Here's one of my pictures today to look at.  I'm sure it has strengths and flaws.


2.  I walked to Brails coffee shop and met up with my friends and we agreed not to talk about the LCC English department.  I had put out a request to my friends that if they wanted to talk about whatever is going on right now that has got its members in conflict, I'd happily show up to coffee a half an hour late because in my retirement I promised myself to stay in the dark about all such things and that's where I want to remain.  My friends told me they'd refrain so I showed up on time and we talked about producing records, NFL football, Glenn Gould, Twelve Years of Slavery, teaching, and a host of other things -- and those interested in and involved in the deliberations of the English Department got a respite from it all.  I want to be an oasis friend to my English Department friends, a friend who provides an oasis from the stressful stuff that goes on at work, whatever it is.

3.  The Deke and I like to find quiet places to sit and have a drink or two, possibly have a bite to eat, and to relax and gab.  We've always been good gabbers with each other.  It's fun to find a new place to gab/drink.  Today I shopped while Deke sipped on a half pint of Stone W00tstout at Sixteen Tons Cafe.  I finished shopping and told the Deke I couldn't join her for a beer on an empty stomach and so I went to Pegasus Pizza for a slice and found out there's a bar in back and I couldn't order a slice because they don't have 'em after five so I ordered a small Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza, texted the Deke to update her, ordered a pinot noir and when the Deke arrived we suddenly realized we had discovered another good place to go to yak and enjoy a drink or two.  As a bonus, Ron and Shawna strolled in and we had a great chat with them before they went to their table.  The wine, pizza, and conversation at Pegasus rounded out a great afternoon and the promise for a relaxed evening was soon fulfilled. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/13: Blue-Collar Brilliance, The Book of Air and Shadows, Fun with the Deke

1.  I suppose Mike Rose's article, "Blue-Collar Brilliance" could have been titled "The Hidden Intelligence of Blue Collar Workers".  Every term I have at least one student for whom the work of Mike Rose means a great deal and today I was most happy when Rebecca stayed after class to talk more about Rose's article and her conviction that it should be required reading for everyone so that respect for workers might increase and so that waitresses/waiters, plumbers, and others might increase.

2.  I finished one of the most outlandish, ridiculously enjoyable books I've ever read:  The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber.  It's a smart book with lots of great stuff about Jacobean England and spying and ciphers and other stuff and it's a book that does what I like in novels:  it sprawls.  It has about fifteen or so main characters, goes all over the East Coast and England, with a stop or two in Zurich, goes back in time, involves gangsters from Russia and Israel -- I mean it sprawls.  There's plenty of sex, for old time's sake, and it's a pretty good book on movie making and storytelling.  It sprawls, I'm tellin' ya.  I don't know if I recommend it;  I can only say I had a lot of fun reading it, I learned stuff, and within the Byzantine plots, double plots, triple plots, and intricate twists and turns, there were moments of insight that made me stop reading and stare for a while.

3.  The Deke and I had a lot of fun again this afternoon and on into the evening, starting with some time at Cornucopia and then over to Billy Mac's where we split a plate of blackened Ahi tacos.  We always have a lot on our minds, it seems and we chattered and chattered and made each other laugh and had a great time sharing some laughs with John and Derrick, busy as they were.  They always seem to have time here and there for some mirth.  John was happy to know that when I was helping my students understand Mike Rose's examination of the many kinds of intelligence required to be a restaurant server, I used the staff at Billy Mac's as an sterling example of what Rose writes about.  He volunteered to be a guest speaker!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/13: Catching Up the Blog, Getting Pictures in Order, Sleep

1.  Blog catch up.  My long weekend put me behind on my blog and I took all the time I needed to get caught up again.

2.  Likewise, I was behind in editing and posting some pictures and put together a Facebook album of pictures from Delta Ponds.  Here's one several people told me they enjoyed:


3.  I'd been out Tuesday night jawin' with the Troxstar and the Junior Warden at the Pour House until 11:30 or so and I don't usually stay up this late, especially during the week, and so it was a welcome move to go to bed early and get a little extra sleep.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/13: What I Enjoy at Work, Slow Beer, Spaghetti

1.  Here's what I enjoy most on the days I work:  for starters, I enjoy being able to drop by Jeff's office and have a quick smart exchange about the Henriad, and Henry IV, part 1, in particular.  Then, I always enjoy leading my students in discussions about work, the intelligence blue collar jobs require, and the way our lives are affected by attitudes shaped by one's class standing.  We read the beginning of Mike Rose's article, "Blue-Collar Brilliance" and I enjoyed discussing the early part of the essay and what was happening in the moment, and I also enjoyed the flashbacks I was having to the days of teaching Working Class Literature with MB and the days my WR 122 sections focused on readings about work and how they wrote essays about the same.  I loved teaching Shakespeare and loved teaching about work and enjoyed having both loves come alive today at work.

2.  A trip to the bank and then a stroll to 16 Tons where I waited for the Deke and read more of The Book of Air and Shadows.  The afternoon is perfect at 16 Tons.  It's quiet and the lighting makes it easy to read. 

3.  After a beer or two at 16 Tons, the Deke and I went to Billy Mac's.  It was spaghetti night at Billy Mac's and I'd been wanting some spaghetti for a couple of weeks and tonght my wish came true -- sure tasted good with that Goosebump red.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/13: Turner House is Quiet and Easy, Bus Ride Mellow, Back with the Deke

1.  The Turner household is a quiet place in the morning.  Up early, the Turners settle into morning coffee/tea, newspapers or laptops/tablets and quietly get underway for the day.  It's why I brought my book, since I left my laptop at home.  So I read a lot more of The Book of Air and Shadows and took care of myself while Terry and Nancy went through their routines and Terry fixed oatmeal and eventually we headed to Union Station so I could catch the AmTrak bus back to Eugene.

2.  The bus ride was mellow and comfortable.  I had two seats to myself and enjoyed reading.  The reading got intense and I lost track of time and once the bus left Albany, it seemed like no time passed before we were in Eugene.

3.  The Deke and I met up at the Steelhead for a bite to eat and some beer and then decided to have a little more beer and enjoyed it at the Bier Stein.  It was great way to relax back into being together again after the weekend and we enjoyed both the beer and our ongoing conversations about just what we are going to do next in our life, in the short term (the Deke's going to Chicago) and the long term (who knows?).

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/13: Time to Go, Great Drive Back, Sunday Night Football

1.  All good things must end some day.  Autumn leaves must fall.  And so the Great Guys Hall of Fame Wild Horse Casino boys' weekend drew to a close with handshakes and farewells and with the promise that we'd see each other back in the Great State of Idaho before too long and with the promise of another Veteran's Day weekend in Pendleton next year.

2.  The Byrdman rode back to the Portland Metro Area with Terry and me and we had a flawless ride back with some debriefing and some other kinds of scintillating conversation, the kind that feels, in the moment, that it will solve all problems, and is fun, even though the problems never get solved.

3.  It was fun to settle in at Terry and Nancy's for the evening and watch the Saints rout the Cowboys. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/13: Getting Underway, A New Pal, Royal Flush

1.  Up and at 'em at the breakfast buffet for some eggs and sausage and potatoes and other fine filling food, laying a foundation for a day of drinking beer and watching football, playing some machines, and more Great Guys Hall of Fame yakking and laughing. 

2.  Byrdman and I sat down at the bar.  I started with a veggie laced bloody Mary with a salted rim.  He got underway with a red Coors Light, his drink of the day, and we met Aaron from Ephrata who was in for a couple of beers to settle his nerves and clear his head before heading into his session at the Wild Horse's Annual Poker Round Up.  His session was at noon and he suffered a really bad bad beat and was rejoined us not long after 1:00.   But he made new friends from Kellogg, Idaho and once Stu and Lars arrived, he got to experience a pretty full blast of goodness hangin out with us Great Guys Hall of Fame members who could make it to Pendleton.

3.  For only the second time in ten years of playing video poker from time to time, I hit a royal flush and my 25 cent bet paid me 200 dollars.  My budget was looking really good and my good luck once again signaled to me that it was time to hit the sack. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/13: Easy Riders, Great Guys Hall of Fame Members Convene, Free Money

1.  Terry and I hit the road for Pendleton and had a great ride:  traffic was easy, visibility was good, conversation was awesome, and not one single crappy thing happened.  We arrived at the Wild Horse Casino at almost exactly the same time Jim, Jake, and Ed did and our Kellogg boys' weekend got underway.

2.  The best way to get things going on one of these weekends is to go straight to the bar and enjoy a few frothy ones together and that's just what we did.  We also got some nachos and wings and started in on the bullshit, the best kind, Grade A:  stories, smart ass comments, laughter, all the best stuff that happens when the Great Guys Hall of Fame members convene.

3.  I piddled around here, messed around there on the machines, not really making headway, starting to feel like maybe my night was over, when I decided to play the 15 bucks the Wild Horse put on my card for some free play.  I bet more than usual using the free money and on a single spin, my $1.20 bet won me 140 dollars and my budget got a nice boost.  It also brought my play pretty much to an end and at about nine p.m. I made my way to my room and hit the sack. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/13: Gliding on AmTrak, Highland Pastie, Football Agony and Futball Ecstasy

1.  The AmTrak Cascade left promptly at nine o'clock and I had a very comfortable ride, sweetened by a slice of banana bread and a couple cups of coffee.  I also thoroughly enjoyed reading more deeply into The Book of Air and Shadows, a sprawling piece of fiction centered around a long lost manuscript of a long lost Shakespeare play and about ninety different characters involved in the intrigue and murders with the hope of cashing in, if the manuscript is recovered.  

2.  Terry picked me up in Oregon City and not long afterwards, we headed to the Highland Stillhouse, Oregon's best pub, in my humble opinion, and I enjoyed a corned beef pastie and a couple pints of English Ale that I loved, but I'll be damned if I can remember its name.  Oh, well...I'd know it if I saw it...

3.  I got to take part in Terry's world of Duck football viewing when Dan and Gordie came over to Terry's house and we watched the beefy Stanford Cardinal pound the Oregon Ducks into submission.  Our disappointment was tempered a bit by the Timbers' victory over the Sounders, a fun match to watch.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/13: Walking to Delta Ponds, Taking Pictures, Not Great Pizza Hits the Spot!

1.  I ran into Betsy and Dan and Mathias at the Farmers Market Saturday and we talked about outdoorsman and Shakespeare expert Paul Willis and Mathias asked me if was like Paul, did I hike and kayak and spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and I answered that I didn't, but that I liked going to Delta Ponds and that was my only real hiking experience and Dan joked that I could walk to Delta Ponds and a light went on in my head and I replied that I sure could and today I did just that.  I walked down Madison Street past the Wandering Goat and the 4J district offices through the Owen Rose Garden down the path through Maurie Jacobs Park, past VRCenter and on up to Delta Ponds where I walked over to the ponds east of Goodpasture Island Road and walked back home.  It was a gorgeous walk:


2.  I had a great time on this walk taking pictures.  I took one of my favorite hand holding pictures and some pictures I enjoyed of waterfowl at Delta Ponds and some pictures of places to sit and pictures of the fall colors down by the river.  Funny how looking through and little machine and pushing a shutter button can be so much fun.

3.  It's not great pizza.  I know that.  But the Deke brought home a personal pepperoni pizza from Cornucopia for the two of us and a bottle of red wine and it was really good.  It was also fun.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/13: Getting the Works Cited Page Right, Salt and Salty, The Big Questions

1.  If you ever decide to teach composition, one of the thorns in your side will be helping students create a Works Cited page employing MLA style.  I know.  That sentence was Sominex.  I teach students how EasyBib helps them create the entries and create the Works Cited page and then I send them off to computers in the library (or elsewhere) to create their Works Cited page on the spot, not later when they finish their papers, not when the mold has spread over my instruction.  They bring the Works Cited page back. I go over them on the spot, make corrections if need be, on the spot, and by the end of the class, they have a perfectly created Works Cited page to end their paper with.  All my students did it right.  (But, one thorn remains:  those students who missed class today....sigh.)

2.  As I left the Center building this afternoon to go home, I ran into Jim Salt, a cradle Red Sox fan.  He's a great sports fan all the way around, but he loves the Sox the most of all and we had a great talk for several minutes going back over the joy and details of the Red Sox World Series victory.  (We never mentioned David Ortiz.  I thought that was kind of remarkable'; instead, we talked about other guys like Gomes and sitting Salty down and Victorino and Drew and others.) 

3.  The Deke and I met at Cornucopia and then went over to Billy Mac's for hot chicken strips.  Out before us:  the big questions.  We tackled 'em.  We didn't answer 'em.  But we tackled 'em. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/13: Picture Stroll to SELCO, Autumn Chores, "Ringo's Theme"

1.  I needed some money from an ATM, so I gave myself a good walk and went to SELCO and enjoyed taking pictures along the way.  I looked at the pictures in the evening and didn't think much of them, so I'm wondering if I am in another picture taking slump or if it was my end of the day fatigue.  I'll look at them again when I'm rested.

2.  I got some small chores done around the house:  raking leaves, putting a pile near the curb for pick up, putting others in garden beds as winter mulch, checking gutters.  One of the things I like about my retired life is that I can chip away at these chores and not have to do them all at once on the weekends.

3.  So.  Saturday morning, Russell, Mary, and I were at the 5th Street Market waiting for Pure to open and an instrumental Beatles song came on.  The market was playing KRVM as background sound.  I couldn't remember the name of the tune, but said I thought it was from the soundtrack for A Hard Day's Night.  Identifying that song was becoming a minor obsession.  This evening, barely in tune, I croaked out the opening measure of the tune for the Deke.  She's a genius.  She was able to tell from the terrible sounds coming from my throat that the song was "This Boy".  I looked into it more and then RIGHT, now I remember.  On the soundtrack album, it was called "Ringo's Theme".  For whatever reason, A Hard Day's Night was the only Beatles album I ever owned and that particular track just got to me when I was eleven years old and it was a great relief to have the ingenious help of the Deke to figure out the name of the tune and to look into how it was used in A Hard Day's Night

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/13: Campus Neighborhood Stroll, Rev. Betsy is Leaving, The Deke Returns

1.  Before church, I ambled through a small part of the west campus neighborhood near the U of O and added to my collection of pictures of couches, chairs, and other furniture sitting on porches.

2.   I heard Rev. Betsy Tesi preach for the last time this morning.  She is leaving St. Mary's for another position in Virginia and, while next Sunday is her last Sunday at the pulpit, I will be in Pendleton/Gladstone and won't hear her give her last sermon nor will I be able to attend the farewell reception sendng her off.  I am very grateful for Rev. Betsy Tesi's service to St. Mary's.  On a personal level, without knowing it, she contributed mightily to revitalizing my involvement at the church and, every single time I heard her preach, I came away from worship with a fresh perspective.  Who knows?  With Molly's family living in Virginia, not far from where Betsy will be working, maybe I'll be able to visit Molly one day and visit Betsy Tesi as well.  (I should add that my reasons for needing revitalizing at St. Mary's was because of my struggles with fatigue and other health problems.  It's not a reflection of my experience with Father Ted or Bishop John or any other past clergy.)

3.  Yes, she returned late in the evening, well past our bedtime, but it is really good to have the Deke back home. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/13: Strolling with Mary and Russell, Dracula Sushi, Let There Be Light

1.  Mary is in Eugene visiting Anne, Russell, and Allie and, as we have for the last three years or so, Mary, Russell, and I went on a picture taking stroll.  This year we visited the Farmers Market and Saturday Market.  The company was great.  I didn't have much picture taking success.  This is the picture I put my most hope in and it's growing on me.  I really liked this puppy a lot.



2.  Russell, Mary, and I went to lunch at Pure and I loved my bowl of miso soup and my eight piece Dracula sushi roll:  fresh water eel, spicy tuna, cream cheese, avocado, and shrimp tempura.  It was also really fun talking about a variety of things with Russell and Mary.  I always enjoy Mary's discussions of the theater in New York City and her latest reports on photography exhibits in there, too, among many other things.

3.  I replaced light bulbs.  It's good having a little more light around the house.


Three Beautiful Things 11/01/13: Yakking with Rita, Cuban Panini at Heidi's, Brandy Steak at Billy Mac's

1.  I drove down to Creswell today and spent about four hours with Rita.  Our day began at her house looking at student portraits I took, talking about a wide variety of subjects, and looking at how her plants are maturing and what her plans are for the way she'd like her property to look.

2.  We had lunch at Hiedi Tunnell's Creswell Bakery and I liked my Cuban panini a lot.  It was the best panini I'd every eaten and I always like cured meats that are made in-house and this Cuban sandwich feature Canadian bacon.  (Scratching my head.)  It was a delight to eat.

3.  I decided to indulge in some of the best Billy Mac's has to offer and ate a Brandy Steak tonight.  It's a rib eye covered with a brandy sauce with green peppers, mushrooms, onion and I don't remember what else, but it was so good that I lingered over it for as long as I could, eating it slowly and relishing every bite.  I drank a glass of red Goose Bump wine, one of the Deke's favorites and now I know why.  It was a great meal and watching the Nets and the Heat and the Blazers and the Nuggets with the Beavers and Trojans on another television and talking and laughing with Derrick, Amber, John, and Kathy made the evening especially fun.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/13: Gratitude, Zombie Picture on Lensblr, Smokey Soup

1.  One of my students stuck around after class to thank me for being flexible.  It was a small gesture on my part, saying "yes" when she asked if she could finish a during class paper at home and email it to me.  I appreciated her gratitude and, once again, had it confirmed that running a water tight ship in a college classroom never works as well as sailing one that wanders off course fairly frequently. 

2.  Today, Lensblr on Tumblr featured a zombie picture I submitted a couple weeks ago and quite a few people "liked" the picture and/or reblogged it.  I looked at the blogs of people who reposted it:  most were teenagers adding another picture to their collection of ghoulish pictures they had found around the WWeb.  I got some attention from some more serious photographers who then "liked" other pictures I have posted .  It's the most attention I've ever received in a single day on Tumblr.  Heh.  The funny part is, I'm am so NOT a zombie guy, but I enjoyed taking the zombie pictures earlier in the month and......

3.  I nearly killed a really good soup yesterday and managed to improved it a bit and just decided to think of it as smokey tomato multi-bean vegetable soup.