Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/14: Icing, Batard, Whiskey

1.  Back in January, a tendon or something flared up in my Achilles heel and I could barely walk for a few days.  It came back this week and I immediately went to the ice and it worked.  Suddenly this afternoon, the pain nearly disappeared.  When I have these flareups, whether it's big toe or heel, ice is the answer.

2.  I love that Batard bread from Provisions and today I ordered a salami, sharp cheddar cheese, yellow mustard, dill pickle, and black olive sandwich on Provisions Batard bread and enjoyed a little bag of sea salt/vinegar Kettle Chips and a mandarin lime soda while sitting on the 11th Street side of the Kiva, watching the different dramas of life near the LTD transit station unfold.

3.  It was getting late in the evening.  The Deke had gone to bed.  I finished tracking the OKC/Memphis game and gave up trying to figure out what makes NBA referee Joey Crawford tick, so I poured myself and McNoughton's and ginger ale.  It tasted wonderful and warmed me.  It blissfully increased my already jolly outlook on life and basic belief in the goodness of people.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/28/14: Progress, Communication Restored, Calm

1.  More walls scrubbed.  More base boards cleaned.  Garage swept, straightened up.  Every day we make progress toward making our house ready to show.

2.  I was relieved to learn that a break down in communication between me and the yard guy who is going to spruce up the property was all about technological breakdown. It's been fixed.  We're back in touch.  Bid accepted.  Work will start soon enough, possibly over the weekend.

3.  All these things going on, the cleaning, the hiring of painters/yard guys, packing stuff, getting ready to move, ya know, it is stressful, but the Deke and I are calm with each other, not being testy or demanding.  Maybe our progress is a bit slow, but we aren't youngsters and not being youngsters makes us slow in the work we get done, but much calmer and less excitable as we face the demands of challenges of this huge change in our life. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/27/14: Gettin More Done, Break from Salami, Gotta Get Outa the House

1.  More cleaning.  More trips to Goodwill. The house is getting emptier.  Maybe the inside is a day away from being picture ready.  We'll see...

2.  We decided to take a break from salami and cheese on Albertson's Italian bread and enjoyed a Bollywood and a Korean BBQ rice bowl from Laughing Planet.

3.  The Deke had to get out of the house late this afternoon and so we went to Bier Stein, which is pretty reliably quiet(er) on Sunday afternoon's and I went for the Russian River double header:  Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig IPA.  We decided for even more quiet, so dropped in at Sixteen Tons and really changed things up with some Firestone Walker Winter Wookey.  It was a perfect way to end our time "out of the house".  For me, it was like having a brandy to end the evening.  It was also fun sharing Frye and Laurie with Thomas and the Deke had a blast messaging back and forth with Allison D. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/26/14: Junk Food, Bookcases Out, Canadian Whiskey and Canada Dry

Before I start my list, I am disappointed to report that for the second straight weekend I decided to stick with the work that the Deke and I are doing around the house and so I missed the LCC production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I am at my best when I submit to the reality that I can't do everything. 

1.  Many of my friends are disciplined, especially when it comes to food.  These friends stick with vegan diets, gluten-free diets; they don't consume dairy products; they exercise regularly and have committed themselves to eating paleo style, or a variation upon it.  I'm not disciplined.  I'm not disciplined especially when my house is undergoing a thorough cleaning and sorting and packing.  I like comfort food when doing this work and today I went to Albertson's and bought a loaf of Italian hard crust bread (Should that be "Italian"?  I think so.), a half a pound of salami, a small block of sharp cheddar cheese, bags of potato chips, Cheetos, and tortilla chips, and salsa.  I bought a 12 pack of Coke. I bought a 12 pack of ginger ale.  It all worked.  After scrubbing base boards, walls, and moving furniture and doing other stuff, a slab of bread with salami and cheese and some potato chips and Coke raised my morale, made me feel pleasure, a pleasure I wanted and needed, and kept me going.  I don't know why I'm this way.

2.  Linda and Wayne came over and helped us out by taking three bookcases out of our house and home with them.  Totally a mutual benefit!  They were happy to have these bookcases and we are happy to have them go to a new home!

3.  Remember that ginger ale?  I had a plan.  In the late evening, after a day of cheap food and snacks, I took my bottle of cheap Canadian whiskey (McNoughton's) out, mixed it with Canada Dry ginger ale, and relaxed.  I did this twice.  It was the perfect cheap cocktail to bring a day of hard work and cheap food to an end. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/25/14: Washing Walls, Shipping Books and LPs, Documents

1.  I keep working away.  My desk is empty.  Its top is cleared.  It's ready to give away.  I need to sort and box its contents and today I started washing the baseboards, trim, and walls of this house's master bedroom.  I had planned to go out tonight, but I worked instead of going to see "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at LCC.  My last chance to see it is the matinee tomorrow, on Saturday, a day I had already set aside for working on getting our house ready to sell.  Sigh.  I'll work hard in the morning and see if I can grant myself a reprieve to see the play. 

2.  I bought a sturdy hand cart and rolled two boxes of my LPs and two boxes of books that once belonged to each of my grandmothers into the pack and ship shop to ship.  The LPs are headed to Darren in Cd'A and the books to my sisters.  I'm really happy not to be taking these books and records across the country and even happier that they are in such good hands. 

3.  The Deke spent days gathering transcripts, certificates, letters, and I don't know what else to send to the school district in Maryland and late this afternoon, those documents went by priority mail to their destination.  Things are slowly coming together.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/14: Student Gratitude, Silver King Teachers, I Love Pasta

1.  It's likely that when this spring quarter ends, I'll never teach another college course.  I'm not doing anything special in the section I'm teaching this spring to mark the end of my teaching days.  I do what I've been doing for many years now.   The emphasis of the course is on questions examining the meaning of life from a more philosophical point of view, less from a social or political one.  I showed the movie Happy today.  We are viewing it as an exploration of value-based happiness, that is, happiness that is experienced by examining one's purpose in life, one's values, and doing one's best to live according to one's values -- or, what Steven Reiss calls, basic desires.  These basic desires are desires of the inward self, not physical desires.  If a central idea emerges from all the people profiled in Happy, it is that on both a spiritual level and on a neurological level, serving others, being compassionate, and expressing gratitude are keys to happiness.  To live primarily concerned with money, status, and popularity, that is, to be mostly self-interested, does not enhance happiness, but creates anxiety, dissatisfaction, and a sense of never being fulfilled.  (I think preoccupation with these aspects of life also creates anger and resentment and deep insecurity.)  The movie hit one of my students, about eight years younger than I am, particularly deeply and he stayed after class and told me, "I'm finally getting it.  School really is about learning, not about scoring well on tests and exams. It feels like up to now, my classes have been all about the tests and quizzes.  I'm finally learning about life. This is really great stuff."  I didn't say much.  I didn't need to.  He's right. It is great stuff.  I think at least a handful of other students think so, too.

2. My life long bud, Rick Wainright, posted a picture of the teachers (including my mother) at Silver King Elementary school, standing on the front steps of the school in the shadow of the Zinc Plant and the Lead Smelter.  The plants are outside the picture's frame.  A fantastic thread of comments grew out of his post as a bunch of us worked to identify each of the teachers and remembered life at Silver King and around the Silver Valley around 1960, give or take a few years.  Other pictures of individual Silver King classes followed and so did the remembering and the identifying, as best we could, who the different students were.

3.  The Deke has been gathering the paperwork she needs to submit to her new school district and while she was running around, she stopped in at Market of Choice and bought us each a spaghetti and meatball dinner and a bleu cheese salad.  I bought us a bottle of red wine and a baguette and we enjoyed what turned out to be an awesome dinner.  I don't eat as much pasta as I'd like to.  I would love to eat it every single day.  So, when I do have a plate of spaghetti and red sauce with meatballs and some baguette and butter and some juicy red wine, I savor it.  It's heavenly.  I love it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/14: Keeping Pictures, Painters Finished, Go-Gos at Billy Mac's

1.  I've disposed of a lot of things I've kept over the years, as we get ready to move, but I'm hanging on to almost every picture.  It was fun to look at some of them today while I sorted through things:  the Deke took a selfie of the two of us in front of the house back in '97; pictures of Christmas Day in the early days of our new family; pictures of Philosophy/Writing students acting out scenes from Love Medicine; our new family's first visit to Kellogg; Carol's 40th birthday party; Christy's dogs through the years; and more, of course.  I got some good chuckles, felt the sting of loss, and experienced some warm memories as I looked through these pictures.

2.  The painters have finished their work, unless we spot something that needs touched up.  The front porch, kitchen, dining area, and living room look fresher, brighter, and pleasing.  It's nice to have things looking good and it's really nice to be able to get our living areas put back in place.

3.  Tonight we stopped in at Billy Mac's for some light refreshment.  I enjoyed the appetizer special,  curried oysters, and a small Caesar salad and, while we were eating, the Go-Gos' great tune "We Got the Beat" came on the sound system and Cathy told us about her short stint dating the brother of a Go-Go and I was reminded of how I used to enjoy drinking Moosehead beer at DeFrisco's in the Atrium in downtown Eugene and, for some reason, "We Got the Beat" seemed to come on often and I liked feeling transported back to 1982 and thinking about getting together with Pam or Chris or Roger at DeFrisco's and remembering how I thought Moosehead was the best beer ever and how happy I am that whenever Susan Denning hears the Go-Gos she thinks of me, even though Susan and I never drank Mooseheads together at DeFrisco's. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/14: Bubble Wrap, First Whopper, Authenticity

1.  Bubble wrap.  Shipping tape.  Constructing boxes.  Making decisions.  I took a break to teach my class.  Right now my life is centered around bubble wrap, shipping tape, constructing boxes, and making decisions.  What stays?  What goes?

2.  I was reminded today of when I lived in married student housing on Arthur and about 15th thirty-five years ago and one day I was home alone and I had the car and I'd never tried a Whopper before at Burger King and I remember feeling like I was spending money I should have spent on something else, but I spent it on a Whopper at the Burger King on West 11th.  I enjoyed the Whopper's char broiled taste and I liked the sesame bun and the fries pleased me.  The sandwich, I remember, paired well with Coca-Cola.  This all came back to me when I was on my way to Staples to buy more bubble wrap and shipping tape and boxes to construct and stopped in at the Burger King on West 11th and had a Whopper with fries and a Coca-Cola. 

3.  The Deke asked me to meet her at Cornucopia and when I arrived a margarita suddenly appeared at our table before I'd had a chance to decide what I wanted and this tickled me and I stopped laughing so I could have a sip.  I talked with the Deke about all the writing I've done over the years where I've tried too hard to sound intellectual or to be poetic and I was trying too hard because I was trying to prove myself to fellow grad students or professors or to any one of a small number of  women I thought I loved.  I've read some of that writing as I've been packing and it embarrasses me.  It's painful to read such strained writing.  In our seventeen years together, I've never felt like I had to prove myself to the Deke.  It's what I like about writing in this blog.  In the vast majority of the postings, I haven't tried to impress anyone or prove myself.  I've tried to be authentic and tried not to attempt to sound smarter than I am.  It's a relief.  I enjoy writing within the bounds of my own experience and intelligence and imagination.  When I go outside these bounds, I embarrass myself.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/14: Donations, Stuff from My Past, Farewell Electric Frying Pan

1.  More donations.  More recycled stuff.  We aren't getting rid of everything.  A couple boxes of books, cds, and dvds are packed and ready to go.

2.  It's been many years since I looked in a couple of boxes stored in the basement.  I have tons of notebooks I've written in.  Reviewing them a bit today, it came back to me immediately how much confusion I've felt in my life, especially with broken marriages and other brokenness with girlfriends. I haven't written any such stuff for seventeen years now.  I knew I would find that.  I also didn't realize I'd kept copies of the funny little play I wrote thirty years ago and that I had kept some papers I wrote in college that meant a lot to me and I found the file of materials related to the 1987 Top 100 Albums According to the Rolling Stone party I spearheaded in October of '87.  I'm glad I kept a lot of this stuff and it fit in a single box.  I'm keeping a lot of it.  (By the way, my graduate school field exams did not make the cut. Neither did my grad school application and the paper I wrote on The Waste Land as a sample of my writing.)

3.  I stir fried red cabbage, tofu, and red pepper in the electric frying pan tonight and it was this fine appliance's last supper here at the house.  I have used this appliance so much that the non-stick surface is nearly gone and so I'm donating it to Goodwill and hope someone else will get some of the pleasure of cooking with this frying pan that I did.  I can hardly wait to purchase a new one when we get settled back east. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/14: Moving, Google v Evan, Sour Ale Finish

1.  Oh, my!  More stuff out the door and donated:  books, cd's, dvd's, a cd/dvd rack, kitchen stuff, and more.  We are lightening our load and really clearing out the house.  It's all good.

2.  In a column for today's New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman interviewed Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google about how to get a job at Google, here.  Bock said what many big shot corporation big shots say:  college is about financial investment.  Think about getting the best financial return on this investment.  Either don't go to college or, if you do, pursue a rigorous degree, like computer engineering, and stay away from soft stuff like psychology or English.  He didn't say a word about a liberal arts education's worth in terms of a deeper understanding of human nature, a word about self-examination, or a word about learning to think critically.  That is all predictable and you know I know this if you've read my little piece, "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher".   Then today, at the Bier Stein, I ran into Evan, a Survey of World Literature student of mine from about six or seven years ago.  He has been working in the bar/restaurant world, doing very well, and will manage the bar at the new Electric Station opening in July.  This is the second time I've run into Evan in the last few years and both times he made it a point, an emphatic point, a well-developed point, to tell me that he owes all of his entrepreneurial and managerial success to what he learned about what it means to be human in the Survey of World Literature course.  Both times he's told me, without any prompting from me, that what he learned about authenticity, goodness, and other deep aspects of being human has guided his success in the business world more than anything, that these stories and poems changed his life.  Gilgamesh.  Homer.  The Tao.  Rumi.  Those great ancient texts transformed Evan's thinking, his business practices, and his world view.  It wasn't the rigor.  It wasn't problem solving.  It was examining life's meaning and the depth of human experience that he owes his success to.  I know he's not alone.

3.  I like those sour ales as an after dinner drink and once I finished my club sandwich this afternoon, I ordered a sour farmhouse ale brewed by Logsdon and it was a perfect finish to my dinner.  (Sorry I don't remember its's off the tap list at the Stein so looking up its name was futile.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/14: Scrubbing, Sorting, The Promise of New Life

 1.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed the bathroom from floor to ceiling, making it brighter, nearly spotless.  Now a decision:  should it be painted?  Coin flip?

2.  I am nearly ready to give the last bookcase in my room away because I have now sorted through the books, set many aside for give away, and filled a single tub with the books I'm going to take with us when we move.  Next up:  cd's and dvd's and then a scrubbing of the walls and baseboards and trim.  

3.  I was asked to read the four Old Testament lessons from Exodus, Isaiah (2), and Ezekiel in tonight's Easter Vigil service. These readings capture some of the sweep of the history of salvation, through events and poetry that predate the Resurrection.  The readings are thrilling.  The story of the parting of the Red Sea is action-packed and the readings from the prophets are poetic and passionate.  These readings were each answered by McKay's reading of an appointed Psalm and then a reflective prayer, read by Father Bingham, and all of these readings and prayers were preceded by Loren Crow's gorgeous chanting of the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation).  Tonight's service also featured an adult baptism.  It was perfectly fitting to celebrate Austin's baptism within a service devoted to the Easter promise of new life. 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/14: Downtown, Realtor Reality, I Used to be So Smart

1.  With parts of the interior of our house being painted, I got out of the house for a while and strolled downtown to see if I could snap some pictures I might like.  I didn't have a ton of success.  It was fairly empty downtown, but I did manage to take these:

2.  Every time we meet with our realtor, it all gets a little more real.  It won't be too much longer and we'll be showing our house, but we still have some work to do to get it ready.  Time to get some rubber gloves and rub on the elbow grease.

3.  A forty-five minute wait at Whirled Pies for our pizza and so I took my time enjoying a pint of Boneyard RPM IPA and as I listened to the wonderful millennials at the table right by mine talk about classes they were taking, reading they had to do, music festivals they'd been to and planned to enjoy, all the hiking, camping, and other outdoor activity that lay ahead, and, as I noted that a millennial guy near them had a book of David Hume's philosophy at his side, beside his pizza slice, and as I listened to his table mate, maybe his girlfriend, greet another student who'd come in, telling the friend she was taking a break from studying and would be back at it soon, I indulged in a little bit of graduate school nostalgia, thinking back to when I was reading big novels, plays, books of poetry, some criticism, squeezing in movies and how I'd sit with schoolmates over schooners of Henry Weinhard's Special Reserve and talk about classes we were taking and all the work we had to do and it was fun to feel once again how important it all felt over thirty years ago and what a blast it was to feel so smart when I was so young.  I've forgotten more stuff I studied back then than I know today. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/14: Lousy at Hinges, The Mighty Independent Clause, Intro to Tricerahops

1.  I'm just lousy in life when it comes to kitchen drawer and cabinet door handles and cabinet hinges.  Lousy.  Some of you are lousy at reading poetry.  Some of you can't shoot free throws.  Some of you are lousy auto mechanics.  We're all lousy at stuff.  I'm lousy at handles and hinges and it was a great relief to me today when the Deke said she'd take over the discussion of hinges and handles with the painters.  I hope I never have to think about hinges and handles again. I'll pay for them.  No problem.  I am simply very happy not to deal with them.

2.  How many of my students today left class with a clear understanding of the way the independent clause drives the English sentence?  I don't know yet, but I did everything in my power to try to explain and illustrate it today and to help my students with their sentence to sentence punctuation.  (By the way, I love dealing with this in class and love talking about it and, as I explained to my students, it's why I never get invited to parties.)

3.  Thanks to Siskanna's enthusiastic recommendation, I took a small break from the taps while having a beer with the guys I meet with on Thursdays and bought my first ever 22 oz. bottle of Ninkasi's Tricerahops Double IPA and I loved it.  I didn't realize that it is such a citrusy/grapefruity IPA and that's what I enjoy the most and I was really happy I gave it a go.   It's fun to have another beer in my wheelhouse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/14: Yard Guy, SUSAN!!!, Steady Kidneys

1.  The yard guy came over and we had a great talk about what his guys can do to spruce up our front and back yard in preparation for selling our house.  This is one aspect of this whole house selling project that bums me out.  I'd like to have the yard cleaned up and live with it and keep working on it!

2.  Susan!  Are you kidding me!  OMG!  Susan Denning posted on FB that she was in Eugene and she was staying at a bed and breakfast close to our house.  Luckily, we made contact with each other at a time when I wasn't out on futile efforts to buy hinges and drawer pulls, and I SAW HER right in front of our house.  Susan and I were housemates thirty years ago and I honestly don't remember the last time we saw each other, but we did today and it was thrilling for me, made me very happy, and it was fun to have a brief talk about moving, our kids, and people we both know.  Thrilling!

3.  I saw Dr. Ghadour for the next of my regular check ups with him and I am happy to say that things are still holding steady with my kidney function and other things.  As always, when I have blood work done, the hope is that no radical changes occur and none did.  The kidney disease doesn't, of course, disappear, but it's not suddenly progressing at any alarming rate either.  It continues to progress very slowly and that's good news.

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/14: Late Papers, Basic Understanding, Pasta BreakFast

1.  When I arrived at school, expecting several student papers in my email inbox, I discovered they weren't there.  This is a moment in a teacher's life when a teacher can either seethe inside at the unreliability of students or assume it was something else, not the students' fault.  I immediately chose the latter option.  I thought something must be fishy.  During class, I met alone with the handful of students whose papers did not come in and, lo and behold, almost all of them had sent them and it was a failure of the LCC email.  So, papers not coming in did not become a source of hectoring the students for not getting work in on time, being irresponsible, etc. etc., but became a source of laughter and a problem instantly solved.  (Exhale.)  I sure prefer the "no problem" approach to instruction over the rule bound, holding the students responsible, not trusting them approach. 

2.  To some of my students it might seem too elementary that I ask them to write down the central contrast in the article "Secrets of Happiness", that they see that the article deals with the difference between feel good and value-based happiness, but I ask them to do it anyway, because without this basic understanding of the article, all is lost.  My students did a good job with this today and it made me happy, in a value-based way!

3.  The painters have disassembled our kitchen and it's just easier to go out to eat and so we got to see our good buddies at Billy Mac's and I also got to break my months long pasta fast and enjoy some spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/14: Cassio, Paint, Kitchen

1.  I mailed the power cord to the Cassio electric piano to Patrick.  This was a big deal.  I also mailed the checks for the taxes.

2.  Paint purchased, the painters start their three day job tomorrow.

3.  My bedroom is now the kitchen.  Everything is out of the drawers and cabinets in bags, boxes, and laundry baskets in my room. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/14: Moving Forward, Taxes Filed, IPA YouTube Concert

1.  Boxes of kitchen stuff and books flew out the door to Goodwill and then I flew out the door to the back and got after the tons of weeds that have exploded into life since the rains stopped and the sun began shining.  I still have days of work out there to go, but I'm off to a pretty good start.

2.  I filled out the forms many weeks ago.  Now. Taxes filed.  Checks made out.  Relief felt -- just to be done.   Enjoying watching the finish of the Masters sweetened my mood to do this last bit of tax work.

3.  I relaxed after taxes and yard work with the Deke's fine black bean and wheat berry chili, some bottles of Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA (love the grapefruit biting my tongue) and a YouTube self-selected concert featuring videos of Paul Simon, Elton John, Ray Cooper, Mark Knopfler, and Eric Clapton.  Lots of great songs and lots of joy filling me up.  What fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/14: More Stuff Done, Good Time/Lousy Pictures, Great Talk at Sixteen Tons

1.  We keep getting stuff done.  All kinds of stuff from the kitchen going out the door.  Painter looked over the main floor, measured rooms, talked about paint with us.  Gradually our stuff load lightens.

2.  Russell and I had a good afternoon with a fine lunch at Pure and a photo shoot at the Eugene Public Library book sale.  My pictures are lousy (oh well...), but it was really fun to run into Bill T and Jose and Michelle and Shirley.  I'm glad I can take lousy pictures and have a good time, too....

3.  The Deke and I had a great time at Sixteen Tons.  I went on a mini-IPA tour and the Deke got her stout on.  We had a great talk and had one of the best times ever at Sixteen Tons. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/14: Breakfast with Terry, Getting Stuff Done, Troxstar at Ninkasi

1.  Started off the day perfectly.  I took a walk in the cool morning air to Cornucopia where I met  Smeltervillian and the Kellogg Wildcat's early 70's hope in the post, Terry Turner (KHS '72), for breakfast.  He was in town helping with some organizational matters for Trout Unlimited and we had the good fortune of both being free for some corned beef hash and eggs.

2.  I continued my campaign to get things done.  Talk to painter.  Talk to yard guy.  Write to the realtor. Check. Check. Check.  The list dwindles and then it grows.  I'm bound and determined to put my big boy pants on and get stuff taken care of.

3.  The Troxstar further brightened up my day with a text message reporting that he needed to go to Ninkasi to buy a keg for his kegerator.  This was a welcome surprise.  While the Troxstar took care of his purchase Spring Reign, I sauntered into the tasting room and began with a tasty pint of Dawn of the Red Ale, the Troxstar joined me, and I finished our short session with a pint of Total Domination IPA.  The weather was perfect, the people watching was excellent, and the conversation first-rate.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/14: Foundations, Refreshment, Provisions

1.  I know I provided my students a lot of help with reading the article closely.  It's how I roll in WR 115.  We read slowly.  I give the students a ton of help.  All the same, I'm pleased with how well my students are understanding "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher" and today I tried to help them write an even better paper showing their understanding of the piece.  I know that in future courses they will have to work on this sort of thing more independently.  I hope by working with the students so closely on this now, I'm helping my students read better and that this will carry over to when they have to do it more on their own.

2.  I was very happy that Sixteen Tons was pouring Sierra Nevada's Summerfest Lager (or is it a pilsner?) today.  It is a refreshing, easy beer and made conversation with John, Don, Cliff, and Elliot all the more enjoyable for our regular Thursday afternoon beer/gabfest.

3.  The stuff I bought at the store today makes it more likely that the Deke and I will eat at home more over the next week or so.  We love getting out of the house, getting some food, and gabbing, but it's good for a lot of reason for us to eat at home more and I'm pretty much in charge of making that happen and now I can. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/14: Gettin' There, Gettin' Real(tor), Debrief with IPA

1.  I spent much of the day working in the yard.  I yanked, pulled, hoed, chopped, and mowed.  I built more stamina.  I made things look better.  I burned some calories.  It was a great day for yardwork:  moderate temperatures, plenty of cloud cover to begin, and then plenty of shaded areas to work in.  Much is left to do, but I'm gettin' there.

2.  Things get more real every day.  Our realtor toured the house today and we sat down and talked about ways to freshen up the house and yard and talked about timelines.   It's getting more real by the day.

3.  The Deke and I needed to debrief after talking with Simon, so we headed over to Sixteen Tons and I did a mini-IPA tour.  First a half a pint of Georgetown Lucille and then a can of Ballast Point Big Eye IPA.  We then crossed the street for a bite to eat and I tried McMenamin's 7Cs IPA.  Each in its own way, each of these IPAs was tasty, especially as my tolerance for hops increases and as I start to experience a little more the different kinds of taste hops can bring.  More me, the more citrus tasting, the better, but if the IPA is more on the piney side, like I thought Big Eye IPA was, it just takes me about four ounces of sipping to get used to it.  I enjoyed my little IPA tour and, even more, enjoyed the pep talking the Deke and I shared as we keep each other feeling good about the big move we are in the process of making.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/14: Writing During Class, Getting Real, Cornucopia Courtyard

1.  My students took time in class today to write about my piece, "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher" and I was happy that no one finished their writing in ten minutes, but all of them worked for at least a half an hour, many longer, and many of my students seemed to be diligently going back to the article, rereading parts of it, working to accurately demonstrate that they understand what the articles says about current trends in education, what is the matter with them, what I see, in contrast, as a better purpose for education, what's good about it, and what the article says I hope for in my students' attitudes toward learning and education.  We'll work more on this on Thursday.

2.  I contacted a realtor.  I made an appointment with HR at LCC.  The Deke and I see our financial person next week.  It's getting real.  We are working at getting a realistic picture of what we'll be taking with us as leave Eugene and head east.

3.  The Deke wanted to grade some papers in the Cornucopia courtyard and I walked over to join her and on one of the first sunny warm days of spring, it just seemed perfect to enjoy a couple of Cornucopia's unusually citrusy and unique tasting and most refreshing margaritas with a rice bowl that blends black beans, brown rice, chopped Romaine lettuce, chopped cabbage, black olives, guacamole, salsa, cilantro lime sour cream, tortilla chips, and maybe some other stuff.  It's a meatless dish and with spring arriving, somehow I'm getting better again at cutting back on the animal protein.  I lost some of my dietary discipline during the winter -- for a variety of reasons -- but I'm getting back to it. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/14: Work Session, COMPASSION, The Troxstar is Stateside

1.  Even if it's only a relatively small bit of work, every session I spend in the yard pulling weeds and cleaning stuff up makes me a little stronger and makes the yard look a little better.  I was happy with the work session I had today.

2.  I took a very pleasant walk to SELCO and back, about a mile both ways, and took a few pictures.  I want to return to the site of this picture more often and see if I can do more with the planter that has "COMPASSION" written on it.  Not much is happening in this picture, I admit, but, I see potential...unless the City or someone erases the planter's message....:

3.  The Troxstar has taken a break from trotting the globe and is going to hang out in Eugene for a while and go to work most days of the week and we got together today at the Pour House and both enjoyed Falling Sky's Belgian strong ales.  The conversation was good, too.  The globetrotter trotted well.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/14: Stamina, Pint Chat, Lucky Rice Error

1.  Time to build stamina.  Time to see how much work I can do and not offend my toes.  So, I pulled weeds and worked on both of these things.  My stamina is not great, but it will build.  My toes held up well as I worked at an easy pace, but got quite a bit done. 

2.  The Deke and I decided to go for a late afternoon pint to Sixteen Tons and we had a good time, talking about our move, trying to sort things out, continuing to figure out what we need to do.  Yes, it makes my stomach tighten a bit. Nerves.  But, we are working it out. 

3.  So that we would be sure to eat at home after our time at Sixteen Tons, I fixed dinner before we left and it was tasty: tofu, onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms, bok choi, cilantro over white rice (which I bought my mistake at the bulk bins).  The Deke was particularly happy I made this mistake and repeatedly told me, "I love white rice!"  Heh.  A fortuitous error, then.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/05/14: Moving Books, Ton Katsu Donburi, Saturday Market

1.  As we get ready to move, we'll deal first of all with books and so today the sorting and deciding began.

2.  My bowl of Ton Katsu Donburi at Pure was a perfect blend of black rice, onion, egg, red pepper, other vegetables, and tender deep-fried breaded pork.  I experienced it as a bottomless bowl of wondrous flavors and had the pleasure of never wanting to be done with it while, at the same time, feeling like I'd never finish.  It was a generous helping.

3.  Russell and I sauntered over to the Saturday Market after lunch to take some pictures and things were jolly on the park blocks.  I tried to focus on happy faces and people hugging as I snapped away. This picture meets neither criteria, but is one of my favorites of the day:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/14: Iceman, Friends of Vitality, Friday Night House Party

1.  The pain in my heel subsided and moved to my big toe and I didn't mess around with it.  I went straight to the ice and then I walked a little over a mile to Brails Espresso for coffee with MB, Michael, and Jeff and it was not problem.  Iced it again when I got home just to keep the inflammation away and it worked.  I'm feeling like George Gervin:  Iceman.

2.  There's so much going on among us:  the lives and minds of MB, Jeff, and Michael are full of vitality and interesting things happening whether at LCC, going to the theater, in La Push, or back in South Carolina.  We had lots to talk about at coffee today.

3.  After a light bite at Billy Mac's, the Deke and I returned home.  For some reason, the Deke's consciousness had been invaded and was being occupied by the jingle from the 1977 Lowenbrau commercial ("Here's to good friends/Tonight is kind of special.....Let it be Lowenbrau").  She couldn't stop herself from singing it.  Or whistling it.  I played it on YouTube about nineteen times.  Then I played about a half an hour worth of Miller Lite ads.  I then played some "Weekends were made for Michelob ads" and then I played, for our mutual pleasure, two different YouTube vids of a string of t.v. ads from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  I ended the night with eight or nine minutes of old television cigarette ads.  This was our Friday night.  This was our party.  This is how we roll.  No one told us about how old television ads on YouTube can keep a marriage mirthful.  We just figured it out.  All by ourselves.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/14: Old School Teacher, Good Beer and Yakkin' at 16 Tons, Time Alone

1.  I read to my WR 115 class the piece I wrote entitled, "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher".  I want my students to know that their lack of preparation, deficiencies in English, and need for some fundamental instruction does not annoy me.  I wish I could say the same about the teachers I've heard over the years bitch about students who need this same help.  I'm paid to help my students.  I'm not paid to be annoyed or bitch about them.  I also want my students to know that I'm not teaching them a course that will help them get a job or launch a career.  I help students enter into self-examination, social examination, into entertaining some of the questions about examining the meaning of life, what it is to be a human being.  In this way, I'm as Old School as Socrates (though not as skilled).  I don't really care about tests and grades (although I give grades).  I know we don't have enough time over 10 weeks to meet all the outcomes I have to list on my syllabus.  I don't even know any longer where those outcomes originated.  From some level of state government?  From within our college?  From within our English department?  I've lost track.  I care most about helping my students learn to read better.  I want to help them write about what they read.  I want to help them learn to examine their ways of seeing the world, values, sources of meaning and happiness.  I want them to at least be introduced to the idea that breadth in learning, the foundation of a liberal arts education, is liberating.  It's a source of freedom.  Narrow, career-oriented, overly focused education is not liberating, nor is it practical.  Nothing is more practical than breadth of learning.  Nothing is more practical than this kind of freedom.  I might be out of step with current test-based, outcomes-based, job/career-oriented trends in education.  So be it.  I like knowing for at least four of their credits, my students will wrestle with and write about what it means to be human.  To me, this is the foundation of a liberal arts education and that's what I do.

2.  After such an exhilarating day with my WR 115 class, I joined Elliott, Jeff, Cliff, and Don at Sixteen Tons for some great conversation and some really great beer.  I enjoyed answering questions about the Deke and me moving east; I enjoyed talking about how, on the one hand, I would be leaving the comforts and ease of Eugene's weather climate and relaxed vibe, but how it's all about family and being close to Adrienne and Molly and their families.  I enjoyed the other rivers and tributaries of our yakking, too, and it was all made very pleasant by a pint of Firestone Walker Opal, a refreshing saison and by a half pint of a fantastic sour red/brown beer, Rodenbach Grand Cru. 

3.  To give the Deke a little more time at Sixteen Tons to enjoy her Green Flash Hop Odyssey Black IPA, I went across the street to McMenamin's ordered a pint of Hammerhead, a burger with pepperoni and swiss cheese, and a side of fries and took the Register Guard and Eugene Weekly off the window sill up by the bar and enjoyed some solitary time with one of my favorite beers, a fine bite to eat, and the current news.

Three Beautiful Things 04/02/14: Ice, Money, Stir Fry

1.  More ice.  All day long, pretty much.  My inflamed Achilles/heel area likes the ice and it's doing much better. 

2.  Needing to ice my foot gave me time to deal with finances/review taxes, get ready to file. 

3.  No way a little pain in my foot would keep me from fixing dinner!  I put together an onion, garlic, ginger, tofu, eggplant stir fry with rice fried in sesame oil and had leftover peanut sauce.  The Deke and I agreed that I did a good thing by cutting down on the ingredients I usually throw together in a stir fry and we were very satisfied with this one.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/01/14: Heel Healing, Got Some Laughs, Major Move Ahead

I'm an April Fools' Day agnostic.  Everything I'm writing here is true.

1.  Ice is helping my injured, strained Achilles area heal.   My limp receded significantly this evening.

2.  I was pleasantly surprised that several of the kind of dumb things I said to make my new section of WR 115 students laugh worked.  Oh, yes, I see a couple of sourpusses in the room, but maybe, in time, they'll come around and enjoy that, for me, a college course is more of a house party than boot camp.

3.  Big news!  The Deke has decided she definitely wants to teach at Robert Goddard French Immersion school.  Next school year it will be located in Greenbelt, Maryland and it's most likely we will live in Virginia.  Today's summit meeting at Cornucopia was for the Deke and me to start charting out what we need to do to make this move and it all pretty much starts with selling the house.  We are fortunate that the Deke found such a good job so that we can live nearer Adrienne and Jack as well as Molly, Hiram, Olivia, and David.  That's our primary reason for moving. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/31/14: Ice It -- Stay Off It, More Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot, The Deke is Back

1.  Instead of putting off things like this, like I do too often, I went to Urgent Care first thing this morning to have my tender Achilles heel area examined.  The doctor didn't have a conclusive diagnosis, but her advice to ice it and stay off of it is advice I'll follow as much as I can.  I don't think it's a recurrence of staph infection, but agree with her that it's possibly tendonitis of the Achilles.  The good news is that is only hurts when I put weight on it, so it doesn't hurt when I'm sitting or when I'm sleeping.  I hope this goes away soon.  So much of what I enjoy in life has me on my feet:  walking to the bus, working in the yard, going on photo strolls, etc.  I don't want to be off my feet for very long.

2.  To continue to treat the slight cold I have, I returned to Izakaya Meiji for another steamy Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot and it was very pleasing.  I also enjoyed seeing Maya (it had been a while), former 16 Tons employee, and Elliot, who bartends at Izakaya Meiji and drinks beer with a bunch of on Thursday at 16 Tons.  Elliot mixed me a superb hot toddy, which also affected me medicinally.

3.  The Deke is back from her visit to the East Coast.  I like life around the house better when she is home.