Monday, March 31, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/30/14: Loren Crow Preaches, Hard Fought Games, Hot Pot and Gyozas

1.  This mild cold and slight sore throat and maybe low grade fever I've contracted, along with new inflammation in my right foot, in the area of the heel and Achilles tendon made the "don't go to church" voice roar in me.  But Loren Crow was preaching.  Being among the people at St. Mary's is uplifting.  So I dragged my inflamed foot and my groggy head to church and I'm really glad I did.  Loren went epistemological and metaphysical on us in a sermon entitled "Seeing is (not) Believing" and this was pleasing to me.  Many sermons, and I understand why, I think, are focused on ethics.  What are we to do?  I enjoy other philosophical questions of faith:  what is the nature of reality and how do we think we know what we know?  That the reality of living a life of faith must be more than physical, more than the surfaces our eyes see, and that the life of faith leads us to know things beyond empirical evidence is at the root of it all, in my opinion, and I enjoyed Loren's exploration of these philosophical matters in his sermon.  (I also enjoyed the fact that his sermon was, in my opinion,  in Homer and Shakespeare territory [unmentioned in the sermon..no problem] as well as Samuel and John territory!)

2.  I enjoyed an afternoon of rest on the couch with the corgies, listening to UConn beat MSU and KU defeat Michigan.  I didn't have a favorite team in either game, but what came through the radio was how hard fought these games were, making the contests very enjoyable to listen to. 

3.  To treat my mild cold/wee bit of congestion/slight sore throat I decided to go to Izakaya Meiji and have a steaming bowl of that Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot that Don McNaughton ordered when we were in there Tuesday night.  What a smart choice.  Not only did the pork belly and chicken meat ball, simmered daikon radish, and assorted root vegetables and mushrooms in shoyu ginger chicken broth taste great, it was medicinal.  I don't think the gyozas I also ordered were medicinal, but they were a perfect porky side dish for my soup.  As gingery as the Sumo Wrestler Hot Pot was, it left me yearning for even more ginger, so I closed out my medicinal visit to Izakaya Meiji with a gingery cocktail:  the Meiji Mule, a tasty variation of the Moscow Mule.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/14: Sweet Life Portraits, Umbrellas, Sophie!

1.  I was sitting at a table outside the Sweet Life Patisserie, when a man asked me if I could help him buy a cup of coffee.  The coffee I had in my hand was almost full.  It was my third of the morning.  I gave it to him.  He asked me if I liked my camera and I said I did and asked him if he'd like his picture taken.  He liked that idea and here are the portraits:




2.  I walked downtown and back home and then I decided to stroll in the Whiteaker neighborhood and see if any pictures emerged down by Wandering Goat or over by Sam Bond's Garage or down at Hop Valley's tasting room or at Ninkasi's tasting room.  The one constant throughout my walk, thanks to rain showers that came and went, was people with umbrellas.  So, I took some umbrella pictures:





3.  Since I was strolling down 1st Avenue and since I had so much enjoyed a pint of Citrus Mistress on Tuesday evening, I decided to duck out the rain showers and enjoy another pint of this fine IPA.  My pleasure was increased greatly when Sophie, one of my very favorite WR 115 students, turned out to be waiting tables.  She stopped me and we had some wonderful conversation and I enjoyed having the memories of how much I enjoyed her in class come back to life again. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/14: Pictures for Mom, Great Ale @ The Growler Guys, Chinese and NCAA Hoops

1.  It's tough for Mom.  She doesn't have a computer so she doesn't see many of the things that we kids of hers photograph and she gets left out.  Today, so that she could enjoy things that happened when Molly, Olivia, and David visited the Deke and me, I sent her over 70 pictures of the children around the house, of our hike on the Sweet Creek trail, and of our playing around on Heceta Beach north of Florence. 

2.  I had enjoyed a pint of Hop Valley's Citrus Mistress Tuesday night at the Bluegrass Jam and this morning I read a review by the Pour Fool (of the Seattle P I) of Deschutes' citrusy IPA called Fresh Squeezed.  A little research and I found that Fresh Squeezed is on tap just four blocks away at The Growler Guys, so after I mailed Mom her pictures, I dropped in, loved my pint of Fresh Squeezed and then finished my visit with a tasty Belgian Sour Peach brewed by Mazama Brewing in Corvallis.  I was happy that the Growler Guys had a sour on tap.  I love ending any beer drinking session with a sour when I can.  I hope this sour hangs around for a while.  Another bonus at The Growler Guys:  Michelle, who is about my age, wasn't terribly busy and we talked about the wood products industry in Lane County and the current state of the English language and how it's taught and Dennis, a regular at this joint, joined in and so I enjoyed a couple of beers and had a good social time, as well.  

3.  When the Deke is gone, because she's not always crazy about Jade Palace, I like to order a family dinner for two and have enough Chinese food on hand for a couple days of eating.  I did this today and so I had pork fried rice, Mongolian beef, sweet and sour pork,  bbq pork, spring rolls, and Mar Far chicken on hand to eat while listening on the radio to the coverage of two splendid NCAA men's basketball games:  Louisville/Kentucky and UVA/Michigan State.  This is the good life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/14: Lunch at Rita's, Country Drive and Klezmer Music with Rita, Marla at the Market

1.  Rita invited me and John W. to her house for a splendid spinach, pecan, cranberry, bleu cheese salad, a sturdy and tasty bowl of ham, bean, and vegetable soup, toast made from dense bread from the Creswell Bakery, and a sweet and tangy pineapple upside down cake.  Conversation was scintillating and I got to share my latest set of portraits of my WR 115 students.  Our afternoon was talkative, tasty, lazy, and serene -- as long lunches should be.

2.  After Rita, John, and I visited the Creswell Bakery and admired the gorgeous breads and savory items in the cold case, as well as the lovely remodel of the former church the bakery now resides in, John had to head back to Eugene, and Rita and I took a drive east of Cottage Grove on London Road and yakked about a lot of great stuff.  When we arrived back at Rita's she played me a couple of stirring tracks off of the splendid Klezmonaut's cd "The Klezmonauts Destroy Tsunami" (recorded live at Tsunami Books).  

3.  I stopped in at Market of Choice to pick up a few groceries and ran into Marla N. and we had a wide ranging conversation in the produce department that got us both caught up on all the news in our lives and in the lives of our families.  There is so much going on and so much to talk about.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/26/14: Keeping Up the Lawn, Eggplant and Pork, Negotiating with David Koresh

1.  I admit it.  My lawn was the shaggiest on the block.  I finished the Dandelion Poppin' Project and mowed the lawn.  My lawn is now on equal footing with the neighbors' lawns.  Whew.

2.  I treated myself to a plate of Eggplant & Minud Pork with Hot Bean Sauce at Jade Palace.  I have no idea what minud pork is, but I can report that the pork was ground and made the hot bean sauce work like the pork gravy you get with a plate of biscuits and gravy.  I enjoyed it. Maybe "minud" is a word for "minced". 

3.  Over dinner I read a piece in the latest New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell about how the government negotiators didn't understand the Branch Davidians, and David Koresh, during the deadly standoff at the Mt. Carmel Center Ranch.  I don't know what I expected, but the article was shallow to me.  It did remind me of what a terrible situation that whole standoff devolved into, but I wondered what the purpose of the article was....that not all negotiation situations are the same?  That federal agents are too locked into a certain approach to negotiations that doesn't allow them to deal with a messianic group like the Branch Davidians?  I'd have enjoyed a longer, deeper article.  Maybe Ben McGrath's profile of Kobe Bryant in the same issue will work better for me. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/25/14: Dandelion Joy, Meiji Plates, Bluegrass Jams

1.  Back to the front yard, poppin' dandelions, much to the delight of a guy walking in our neighborhood (I think he sells crepes at Saturday Market) who was genuinely delighted to see the bushel of dandelions sitting near where I was working away.  "That's a lot of dandelions, man!" he crowed, laughing.  "I know!  And they just keep disappearing!" I crowed back, matching his delight.  "They sure do! Take care, man!" He kept walking, smiling, shaking his head.  "Will do.  And you have a good one." I beamed and got back to my poppin'.

2.  It was as if I'd turned the clock back nearly twenty-five years to when I used to go to late night shows and danced at the W.O.W. Hall to bands like Zero or Little Women or Big Head Todd and the Monsters or Widespread Panic or, best of all, Nine Days Wonder.  The evening started with Don and Cliff and Shirley and Marji at Izakaya Meiji for a bourbon flight we all shared, some Oakshire Watershed IPA and, for me, some Pan Seared Scallops followed by Salmon Onigiri followed Shoka Yagi Donburi.  Delicious.  Delicious.  Delicious.  I'd been hearing good things about Izakaya Meiji since it opened a few years ago, but this evening was my first visit and it was very enjoyable thanks to the food and drink, but, above all, the conversation.

3.  The others mounted their bicycles to head home and I was on foot, thinking this might not be the best evening to be driving.  I went to Sam Bond's and suddenly realized that I had not sampled any of the beer they started brewing and serving recently.  I ordered an Instrumental IPA and its name set the tone for the rest of the night.  While sipping my beer, the phone rang behind the bar, and the bartender replied to the caller, "Yes.  Tonight's the bluegrass jam.  It begins at 9."  Aha!  A plan formed.  I'd never been to Hop Valley's Eugene brewpub and I knew there was a 7 o'clock bluegrass jam down there.  I finished my beer, strode a few blocks to Hop Valley, got myself a pint of Citrus Mistress IPA and listened to some really find bluegrass music.  Then I strode back to Sam Bond's, ordered another Instrumental IPA, found a table close to the stage, and soon I was delighted to hear another bluegrass jam made of different players. Soon some of the Hop Valley jammers joined in and it was a rocking fun night.  The jam ended about 1 a.m. or so.  I hadn't been out listening to music this late since forever and it was scintillating to have those banjo, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, dobro, and guitar licks, not to mention the song "I'll Fly Away", going through my head as I walked the half mile back home in the rain. 

Jam at Hop Valley

Jam at Hop Valley

Jam at Sam Bond's

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/24/14: Walk for Cash, Poppin', Pastrami in the Sliders

1.  I needed a little cash so I walked to (and back from!) SELCO's ATM, a little over a mile away, and took some pictures. Plenty of failures, but here's one I liked:

Shady Figure

2.  I started my spring long project of popping dandelions, digging weeds, and figuring out what I've got and don't have in the yard.  I pull and pop for short periods of time.  If I were a coach, I'd say that I take things one weed at a time.

3.  I dropped in at the Pour House and enjoyed two ground beef and pastrami sliders on rye bread with caraway seeds and some potato chips.  I love the pastrami ground in with the beef.  I had a couple of very enjoyable Floodplain ESBs.  I've said it before.  I'll say it again.  I am very grateful to Falling Sky/Pour House that they almost always have ESB on tap.  Almost no one else does and, to me, it's a mighty tasty style of ale. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/23/14: Water from a Rock, Malaise, No Brackets for Me

1.  As this morning's lector, I got to read the stirring story of the Israelites beginning to rebel against Moses because of a water shortage on the the desert, in the Wilderness of Sin.  Until, with God's help, Moses strikes his rod against a rock and water flows out, it really looks like his desert march is on the ropes.  It's a great story:  Exodus 17:1-7.

2.  The drive to the airport and the emotional let down of being home alone left me tired, on the edge of listless today.  I followed NCAA basketball games, laundered towels and sheets, ate leftovers, took care of dishes, drank a Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  I'll perk up tomorrow.  I always have a day like this early on whenever the house empties out and I'm by myself for a while.  It'll pass.

3.  I don't fill out brackets for the NCAA tournament, bet on games in any sport, or join fantasy leagues because I enjoy the games themselves too much and I enjoy having teams I'd rather see win, based on weird criteria that's personal and often eccentric, but is never based on a bracket or a bet.  So, all day today, I had rooting interests:  I was for Wichita State because I feel irrational animus toward Kentucky that goes all the way back to Adolph Rupp.  I root for Gonzaga because I loved living in Spokane, going to school and working there.  If I were a bracket guy, I'd have been rooting for Arizona.  My rooting interests are fickle, irrational, and unpredictable but I can indulge them because I don't fill out brackets, bet on games, or do any of those things.  I like it this way.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/14: Farewell at the Airport, Yakkin with the Byrdman, Jimmy Fallon Delivers

1.  A most enjoyable seventeen days of time with Molly, David, and Olivia came to an end this morning after the kids piled into their car seats, we stopped at Starbucks for reinforcements, and drove to the Portland airport so the Diazes and the Deke could board their flight for Washington, D. C.  I'll miss the never ending theater of the absurd Olivia and David play out all their waking hours.  I'll miss Molly's good humor and our conversations.  It'll be a good trip for the Deke, especially because she'll get to see Adrienne and Jack, even if for a short visit.  I'll miss everyone over the next week, but I'll have some fun -- working in the yard, going to eat at a couple places I haven't been, and going out to take some pictures.

2.  After the airport, I drove down to West Linn and picked up Hall of Fame of Great Guys charter member Jim Byrd (Guard/1st sacker, KHS Class of '70) and we bellied up to the bar at Little Cooperstown, ordered some Ninkasi Total Domination IPA, a sandwich each, and spent a couple of hours or so doing some Hall of Fame yakkin' and kept an eye on the Louisville/St. Louis basketball game.  Awesome time.  We covered a lot of ground talkin' to each other and it was great to do it over sound bar food and in a mellow setting. 

3.  Returned home late in the afternoon, settled in with espn.com and twitter and followed the NCAA evening games.  A win by the Ducks would have been a perfect ending to a great day, but not that many great days have perfect endings, do they?  No.  That's rare.  So I accepted the Ducks' defeat by eating some leftover noodles and Mar Far chicken and other stuff from Jade Palace and let myself think about what might have been, for the Ducks and in my life, too.  These thoughts were made more enjoyable by watching awesome clips from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Steven Merchant lip synching "Boom! Shake the Room!" amazed me, delighted me, delivered me from descending into a funk.  So did Kevin Bacon's "Footloose" entrance.  So did Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel singing, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/21/14: Smoothie, Hoops, Jade Palace

1.  Combined with blueberries and banana, that nut milk Laura gave us the other night made a great breakfast smoothie.

2.  One more lazy day of NCAA basketball via twitter and espn.com.

3.  Back when Adrienne, Molly, and Patrick all lived at home, if we wanted a special night of take out food, we ordered take-out Chinese food from Jade Palace and tonight Molly, Deke, and I had a special night and Jade Palace came through nicely. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/14: Nut Milk on Oatmeal, Big Dance Tweets, IPA Revival Continues

1.   When Laura came for dinner last night, she gave us some nut milk she'd made.  It's complex.  I can't begin to recite all its tastes, but I can begin with almond and chocolate and agave.  I poured it over my morning oatmeal with a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon and loved it. 

2. Since I don't have a television, let alone a man cave, and since I didn't feel like going to a sports bar, I followed NCAA tournament games on espn.com and on twitter.  I really enjoyed the tweets as the Ducks surged past BYU and won their opening game.  Steve Tannen was especially fun and I enjoyed having our little bit of tweeting with each other.

3.  I continued my IPA revival this afternoon with the Thursday @ 3 fellas at 16 Tons.  I opened with a can of Oakshire Watershed IPA.  I surrendered to its hoppiness and then I enjoyed it.  For now, my hop fight is over.  I'm giving in.  Second, I quaffed a pint of Stone's Go to IPA.  It's a piney one -- a bit more piney than I enjoy, but in my new spirit of surrender, I got to enjoy it more and more from about the 3/4 mark to the bottom.  I wrapped up my Thursday IPA revival with a Crux Outcast, a very drinkable and pleasant IPA, leaning more toward the citrus end of the spectrum.  It left me very happy that I'm back into IPAs again, but not at the expense of other styles.  I'm just buildin' my resume! Ha!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/19/14: Great Lunch at Hot Mama's Wings, Dogs Pull Skateboarder, Friends Over for Dinner

1.  I decided to give Hot Mama's Wings another chance and am I ever glad I did.  I enjoyed the seven Classic Buffalo wings I ordered and, even more, I loved the Hop Valley's Patty's Irish Red Lager.  I think it's a limited release, doggone it.  It reminded me vaguely of a beer I loved back in 2011 that I don't think is made any longer:  Oakshire's Land Trust Lager. 

2.  I took a stroll around the neighborhood today and took a bunch of pictures, and got one I liked:


3.  Laura and Jeremy came over for dinner and I was very happy they enjoyed the gingery stir fry, sesame fried rice, and gingery peanut sauce I prepared.  It's fun when people outside our family enjoy what I cook --when they enjoy my indulgence in ginger. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/18/14: Enjoying My Students, Good Beer and Soup, I Enjoy Millenials

1.  I scheduled four hours in my office to return students' writing.  Many came by and I enjoyed wishing them well, giving them good news about their grades for the course, and their gratitude for a good term of reading, writing, and talking together about stuff.   When students weren't around, I went to my Twitter account and enjoyed all the pictures I found through an ongoing #streetphotography search. 

2.  Molly said she'd pick up the Deke from school and so I took advantage of the opening in my day and went to the Bier Stein and ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup and enjoyed, first, a pint of Breakside's English IPA, an easy drinking, mild IPA, and I closed out with a divine 12 oz.s of Delirium Tremens, Belgian strong ale that is about as good as it gets. 

3.  I strolled over to Whirled Pies and picked up a sausage and mushroom pizza for the Deke, Molly, and me and thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Boneyard RPM IPA while I waited for the pie, and, even more, I enjoyed the smart conversation, wittiness, and companionable spirit of the twenty-somethings who were a table over, eating some slices, drinking some beer and cider, and being great to each other before their next stop, a movie.  I wasn't a part of their conversation.  But its goodness was yet another way for me to do what I like a lot:  enjoy the company of the young.  (Are these the millennials, the young people I read malignant stuff about all the time?  My experience with them has been wonderful, both at school and at taphouses all over Eugene...)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/17/14: Working on a Day Off, Street Photography, Old School Pac NW IPA

1.  I shrewdly decided to go to work this morning, even though it's a day off, as a way of making tomorrow, my last day of work until spring quarter begins, easier.  I enjoyed reading my WR 115 students' final essays.  Some did their best work and that was satisfying to see.

2.  Via Twitter, I had a very good afternoon looking at street photographers, both on video and still pictures, trying to learn more, become further inspired.

3.  As part of my IPA revival, on Saturday evening I bought one of the first Portland microbeers I ever drank (1996 or 97):  Bridgeport IPA. I think of it as an Old School Pacific Northwest IPA. It's a very mellow IPA.  It's not a hop bomb.  My palate had to adjust to drinking an IPA that didn't cause a hop explosion in my mouth, that is not aggressive, but subtle, easy to drink.  I'm liking it.  I have two left and look forward to enjoying them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/16/14: Beautiful Praise for the Showcase, Bon Voyage to the Troxstar, Chef Molly

1.  In a note to Sparky, a regular Showcase audience member, Spring A., gorgeously summed up the beauty of the Shakespeare Showcase: 

Having experienced seasons of your "Shakespeare Showcase" as an audience, I'm much obliged to you for your devotion and commitment to bringing the students and the community at large a richer theater experience. My son, who has also been exposed to your showcases since he was ten, said, he even enjoyed watching the actor and actresses making mistakes because it showed him how cool one can still manage to be in spite of the mistakes. He was so inspired that he started reading Shakespeare sonnets at bedtime when he was ten.

 ...
Over the years, you and your students' consistent commitment to exploration of characters in plays has undoubtedly inspired students' self-discovery and brought forth their potentials. As an audience and someone who always holds high respect for great teachers, I know the impact of the experiences will go way beyond their school years. For that and much more, I'm grateful.

2.   The Troxstar is flying on Monday with Madame Troxstar and the youngest Troxlet to England and so we had a few beers together right here at home.  The Troxstar brought over the last of his Ninkasi Oktoberfest out of his kegerator and we split a bottle of Logsdon's Peche n Brett Farmhouse Ale, a scrumptious treat.

3.  Molly prepared stupendous sausage soup for us.  She has grown well beyond her Rice a Roni days in the kitchen. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/15/14: Crackling with Energy, Building a Show, Joy and Hugs and Mirth at the Shakespeare Showcase

1.  The house crackled with energy this morning.  Chris and Melissa and Helena came over for a visit.  Helena, Olivia, and David were excited to see each other and had a lot of fun being little kids laughing and prancing and doing stuff kids do. Excellent adult talk took place, as well.  It was fun to see everyone enjoying themselves so much. 

2.  I love contributing to a show coming together and was all smiles this afternoon as I provided narration during the dress/tech rehearsal for the Shakespeare Showcase.  The actors continued to improve their scenes and a I could feel their confidence building, especially as they played under the lights in makeup and in full costume. 

3.  The hard work paid off for the actors and the tech crew.  The Shakespeare Showcase was a terrific show.  Here's what I love to see:  the inexperienced actors giving it their all.  Yes, some of the acting is raw.  Some scenes are unpolished.  Many of the actors are performing live for the first time.  I love that.  The audience loved the show.  Afterwards, as actors and audience mingled in the Blue Door Theater, laughter, joy, hugs, handshakes, smiles, appreciation, goodwill, love, excitement, and mirth filled the room.  I loved narrating this show and being a part of this term's end Shakespeare Showcase which Sparky and I got underway back in the fall of 1991. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/14/14: Quiet, Coffee, Narration

1.  The house was quiet for several hours after Molly left with her children to go to the zoo in Portland with Carrie.  I took some time to sit.

2.  Michael, MB, and I met for coffee and had a great time talking about teaching, movies, music, and a host of other things.

3.  I was back behind the music stand in the Blue Door Theater late this afternoon for a rehearsal of the Shakespeare Showcase, having fun as the show's narrator.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/13/14: Pasta with a Touch of Sauce, IPA Revival, Back to Billy Mac's

1.  I'm in the deep twilight of my years as an instructor.  Right now, if my teaching style were an Italian dish it would be pasta with a touch of sauce, not much.  I don't lay much sauce on my students.  I try to raise some good questions with my students through the reading we do and, as they start working out their insights in short papers, I keep things simple, support their efforts, and trust them to get things right with my light-handed guidance.  Today, as some students were finished with the course and others turned in their final work, many expressed gratitude for WR 115.  As always, some first let me know that, at first, they "didn't think they'd like this course" or they "didn't know at first what to make" of me, but, in the end, it all worked for most of my students and many expressed thanks; in fact, several found the class fun and enjoyable. I liked hearing that.  Learning to write is a long, slow process and schools are set up to try to make it happen in short periods of time, like a ten week term.  I refuse to teach to the clock and the calendar.  I see myself as trying to make at least ten weeks of this long, slow process enjoyable, thought-provoking, and as relaxed as possible, even fun.  Relaxed students work better.  So do relaxed teachers. If we let them, institutional clocks and calendars undermine what's best for all of us.  I try not to be undermined.

2.  Lately, I've started to enjoy IPAs again.  It's been many years since I enjoyed IPAs.  Today, at 16 Tons, I had a couple Claim 52 Insta-IPAs and I let the citrus flavors and piney aroma work on me and I enjoyed this beer and I'm thinking more IPAs might be in my future.

3.  It had been a while, too long in fact, since the Deke and I joined Lynn and Pam and Michael and Russell and Anne and Allie and others for Thursday at Billy Mac's.  The Deke and I have had a lot to talk about over the last few months and have spent a lot of time on our own in quieter settings talking over stuff going on in our family and deliberating over the possibilities of the future.  We wanted to see our Billy Mac's friends tonight and it was especially fun because Molly, Olivia, and David came to Billy Mac's, too, and I had a really good time talking with good friends I haven't talked with in too long of a time. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/12/14: Why I Retired, Horses on Heceta, Best Stir Fry Ever

1.  Why did I retire?  So I could have a Wednesdays free to drive Molly and Olivia and David to Sweet Creek Falls for a hike and to Heceta Beach to gaze at the ocean and frolic in the sand.



2. Today was the first time I ever saw people riding horses on Heceta Beach.  I dug it.





3.  Killer stir fry with fried Chinese egg noodles and peanut sauce.  The Deke said it was the best ever.  I think I agree. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/11/14: Reading My Hugo Paper, Relaxed Writing, Molly Makes Pizza

1.  Over the years I've worked a little more and little more on an essay I'm writing entitled, "On Needing Richard Hugo".  As WR 115 winds down, I tell my students I'll read it aloud to any who want to hear it, but it's totally optional.  About five or six students in my 10:00 section listened to me read and we had a good conversation about it.  No one in my 12:00 section stuck around to hear it.  Ha!  I got to go home really early. 

2.  I read my students' papers about their portraits I took of them and I enjoyed that they wrote so freely and openly.  They didn't seem to be under any pressure.  I enjoy reading papers that have a relaxed tone. I'm glad I don't see the courses I teach as being all that important in the big picture.  I don't have a great sense of urgency in teaching my courses.   I tell my students they have writing to do.  Let's do it.  Let's try to enjoy it.  They begin to see I don't micro-manage their work  I want them to let it rip.  It's not boot camp.  There's not that much that go wrong.

3.  Molly made her and the Deke and me a superb pizza with pesto sauce, mushrooms, roasted garlic, and Italian sausage.  The salad on the side was great, too.  I really enjoyed having Molly cook dinner tonight and enjoyed that it was so good. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/10/14: So Long Katie, Morning Hang Out, More Art Talk with the Deke

1.  I was sorry to see Katie have to leave and enjoyed one last conversation with her on our way to the airport at 5 a.m.  She was a marvelous guest and a most appreciative one.

2.  It was fun hanging out in the house as morning light streamed in and taking pictures of different subjects.




3.  The Deke and I had some quiet time at the 16 Tons Biercafe and talked a lot about the artistry of the Babes with Axes and the Deke thanked me after I told her what I thought her songs, in the big picture, were about.  She thanked me for getting it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/09/14: The Day After, Edward Albee on CD, More Art Talk

1.  It was after midnight this morning until the Deke and I had wound down sufficiently after the Babes with Axes show to be able to go to sleep.  I wasn't able to get out of bed until about 9:30 or so, and I didn't perform!  The Deke slept longer and then kept going back to sleep during the day.  She was exhausted after performing for nearly three and half hours to about 375 people packed into the W.O.W Hall.  The Deke and I talked a lot about the show.  I talked about how I experienced it in the audience and she explained how she was in a whole different experience performing the show.  I'm sure these conversations will continue.  It's all part of a larger conversation the Deke and are always having about art, performing art, and the demands of art.  These talks are a huge part of what makes us who we are.

2.  The Deke left the house to go to Sam Bond's and meet up with Katie and Laura and I strolled over to the Pour House for a Beef Brisket Pastrami sandwich, which I ordered rubenized.  It was heavenly and paired really well with the Third Rauch from the Sun Lager I drank.  I read stuff in the New York Times about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and how the original Broadway production is coming out on cd.  It features Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon, and George Grizzard.  I thought about that play and that script and what great radio/cd drama it would be.  I also longed for the January days in 1983 and 1984 when students in my Family in American Drama class and I studied this play.  Did we watch the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie of it?  Maybe someone who knows will read this and remind me...

3.  Katie and the Deke arrived back at the house and invited me to return to the Pour House and I had another Third Rauch from the Sun Lager beer and they let me join in on their discussion of last night's show and we discussed the life of the band.  This meant more talk about art and music and performance and the impact of art.  It matters a lot to us. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/08/14: Standing Room Only, There is No Typical Babes with Axes Song, Slip Slidin' Away

I know my efforts to write about last night's Babes with Axes shows are inadequate.  But, sigh, here goes.  Suffice it to say, it was one of the best nights of my life:

1.  It was Standing Room Only at the W.O.W. Hall tonight for the Babes with Axes reunion concert.  The audience thundered their excitement and gratitude.  The joy in the room was almost physical it was so thick.  The band gave a show that lasted over three hours, filled with songs the audience knew by heart and peppered with a few new songs performed for the first time tonight.  Love filled the hall.  It was one of the best nights of my life.

2.  I'm at a loss to accurately describe a Babes with Axes show.  Their music follows no predictable pattern.  There is no such thing as a typical Babes with Axes song.  Not one of their songs was written for the band.  All of the songs were written by each band member, except for the three covers they performed, as a "singer songwriter" piece and the band creates harmonies and instrumental arrangements for each song, elevating them far above what any of the band members ever did with the songs in solo performance.  Their set list includes existential songs about relationships and love, absurd dada and surreal pieces, tender and touching songs, ones that are sad and regretful,  others that are joyous and uplifting, songs that are satirical, funny,  and biting,  others that are political and angry, and songs that are long epic narratives.  Tonight's show was what all of their shows have been:  performance art, but not pretentious performance art. It's performance art dedicated to the members' love for each other, to mirth,  to touching deep thought and feelings in us who watch and listen, and to the mutual love that builds between the band and their audience.  It was one of the best nights of my life.

3.  Knowing they may never perform together again, the Babes with Axes sang, as their final encore song, "Slip Slidin' Away" and, as the song ended, they slid through the audience on the west side of the hall, the entire audience singing along, and slipped into the green room.  The audience was elated, grateful, and wrung out.  Faces ached from smiling.  The band greeted people as they headed out the door of the hall.  I hung back, absorbing the way the Deke had just been a part of three hours of performance, making a crowd of people happy and grateful, lifting their spirits, kindling all kinds of memories and creating elation.  It was one of the best nights of my life.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/07/14: Sunshine Pictures, Grandchildren in the House, Babes with Axes Evening

1.  Sunshine this morning gave the opportunity to take some pictures of light and shadow around the house.  Here's one:


2.  With our grandchildren, Olivia and David, here, I can take pictures of them.  Here they are playing with their IPad:


3.  Good day for the Babes with Axes.  It was fun listening to them on KRVM-FM and Debbie and Katie and Molly and I had a good time gabbing until shortly after midnight when Debbie and Katie returned home after they had some dinner and ran Babe with Axes-themed errands. Walker T. Ryan dropped by so he and Katie could go to Sweet Life.  Things are in place for a good day and a good show tomorrow.  Anticipation builds. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/06/14: Free Play of the Mind, Odd Self-Portraits, Hopping Afternoon

1.  I've been teaching writing for over thirty-five years and the one principle of writing I value over everything else is the free play of the mind.  If I were king of the forest, I would make this the one and only objective for offering a writing course.  I'm hoping some of my students experienced their minds freeing up a bit this quarter; I hope every once in a while, as my students wrote, they forgot they were students writing for a WR 115 course and had moments when they just freely wrote what they were thinking.  This all ran through my mind today as I reminded my students one last time that in this course, they are free to write their truth.

2.  I am always on the lookout for ways to take odd self-portraits.  Today I arrived early at the LCC bus station and it was rainy and I thought I might be able to take some fun self-portraits with the help of the stainless steel sculpture in front of the Health and Wellness Bldg.  Here are some:





3.  My afternoon and early evening hopped.  Lunch at the Bier Stein, some beers at Sixteen Tons with Jeff, Don, Dick, Elliott, , and back home again for Thai food with three Babes with Axes, Molly, Olivia, and David.   Things were relaxed at Sixteen Tons:



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/05/14: Morning After Breakfast, Driving to Portland, Molly and Her Children Arrive

1.   I was hungry this morning after yesterday's Fat Tuesday Belgian Blow Out and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of coffee, corned beef hash, eggs over medium, and Pugliese toast at Cornucopia. 

2.  Listening to Babes with Axes tracks from WOW!  Live Babes! made the rainy drive to Portland much more pleasant.

3.  Suddenly, from out of nowhere Molly and Olivia and David appeared near Gate C at the Portland International Airport, having safely arrived from Washington D. C. and Dallas.  We ventured out onto I-205 and I-5 and got to spend plenty of time together:  thanks to the volume of traffic, it took us three and half hours to drive from Portland to Eugene and my grandchildren were awesome. Even after a long day of flying and then this endless grind of a drive to Eugene, they were patient and didn't scream or cry or kick or act out in any way.  In fact, they were really good all day and Molly is very proud of them.




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/04/14: At Least Some Are Thinking, Flowering Student, Fat Tuesday Belgian Blow Out

1.  I now know, from some students' remarks in class, and things a few have said to me in private, that the stuff the class has read and viewed and that they have written about has made some of my students think more deeply and even think differently about people and their work, the possibilities of education, and about happiness.  I hope for two things when I teach:  first, that my students experience me as an ally and, second, that they ponder some things, maybe for the first time -- or, maybe more deeply.

2.  One of my students, a grandmother, is back at school after being let go by a local cereal maker because she couldn't keep up on the production line.  She struggles.  She asked me to read a draft of  her photography project. She wrote that she had her picture taken near a large flower box outside the cafeteria because, and I paraphrase, maybe like those first blossoms of spring, she, too, might be beginning to flower.  Her words moved me -- and I told her so. 

3.  Here's the truth.  If I were to say what I enjoy in life the most, high among them would be getting together with other beer lovers and taking turns buying bottles of different beers and sharing them.  It's the best way to drink beer and a great way to spend time with friends.  For Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, St. Mary's parishioners Loren, Shane, the Troxstar, and I met at the Bier Stein and enjoyed a variety of Belgian styled beers, including farmhouse ale.  It was a great time. The session began with Goose Island's Sofie and ended with Logsdon's Peche n Brett with a variety of great beers in between.   We enjoyed the beer, had a great time yakking, and properly prepared ourselves to enter into the Lenten season. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/03/14: Lager Food Prep and Beethoven, Steve at Trader Joe's, Brief Stop at Sixteen Tons

1.  Into a bowl went cold brown rice, sliced cucumber, red pepper, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, chopped cilantro, garlic infused olive oil, chopped almonds, and lemon juice.  I chopped and poured and blended with the help of Hop Valley's 541 Lager and the piano sonatas of Beethoven.

2.  I dropped by Trader Joe's to check out their beer selection and who should I run into?  A student of mine from over twenty years ago whom I hadn't seen for several years, since we had coffee at Allann Brothers on Fifth Avenue.  It was Steve Griffin and we had a couple of big hugs and I found out how he's been doing and told him a bit about me.  I had thought about Steve many time since that coffee and since I had lost his cell phone number and hoped one day I would see him again and it happened today.

3.  At Sixteen Tons, I bought the Deke more of her favorite beer, Breakside Salted Carmel Stout, and I bought her and Katie a bottle of wine and decided a pour of LambicX would be nice.  And it was.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/02/14: Calm Church, New Belgium La Folie, Katie Arrives

1.  As is so often the case, things at St. Mary's Episcopal Church this morning were, from my perspective, calm, regular, and comforting, but challenging, too.  It was just the way I like it.  As I often do, I said to myself, "This is why I'm an Episcopalian."  It's the power of liturgical worship.

2.  I think one time a couple of years ago, Colin pulled a bottle of New Belgium La Folie off the shelf at the 16 Tons Taphouse and gave me a taste of it and I remember enjoying it, but then it left my memory.  This memory was rekindled when I found out the other day that the 16 Tons Cafe has New Belgium La Folie 2012 on tap, and today, before I shopped for groceries, I sat down and enjoyed a 10 oz pour of New Belgium La Folie 2012.  I am really enjoying sour beers a lot these days.  For me, they are like drinking wine, only they aren't wine....it was a great fifteen minutes or so of pleasure and time to reflect on things. 

3.  Now all the Babes with Axes are in town.  Katie arrived this evening, the Deke picked her up at the train station, the three of us ate a stir fry together, and Katie helped the Deke relax with a back rub:


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 03/01/14: Gabbing at the Fence, Donburi!, Seeing Babes Again

1.  Before Russell and I met for our Saturday lunch and picture walk, I went on a solo stroll throughout the neighborhood after shooting around our garden at home a bit.  I like this scene and was happy I got a half-way decent picture of these people gabbing at the fence:


2.  Russell and I ate a splendid lunch at Pure.  I ate a bowl of shrimp tempura donburi that was awesome, just awesome.

3.  The Deke and Laura and T. R. were on KLCC this afternoon to talk about the upcoming Babes with Axes show and to perform a couple of songs. (Katie will be in town Sunday.)   I hadn't see Laura or T. R. or Randy for a long, long time and they were with the Deke at Cosmic Pizza, winding down after the radio gig, and I swung by to pick up the Deke and it was fun to see everyone and take a little time to get caught up.  We'll be seeing a lot more of each other this week!  Ha!  I remembering back to those days back in the Deke's performing years when a show was upcoming and all that goes into it.  My job?  Stay steady.  Cook food.  Drive.  Don't be a jackass.  I got it covered. 



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 02/28/14: Neighborhood Photo Stroll, WR 115 Project, Funky LambickX

1.  I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning and took pictures, all of which I enjoyed taking, but with mixed results. I enjoyed the foggy, misty air and the mild temperature.  Here is my favorite picture, blurry and cockeyed as it is.  I wish I'd shot better from the hip, but, no harm done. 




2.  I worked on the rest of the photography project for my WR 115 class and took some time to enjoy my students' faces and how each of them expresses a different attitude toward life and, I suppose, the camera.  I can never really tell how much the students enjoy this project. . . and I don't need to know.  Here's a fact, Jack:  I love it.

3.  I got to drop in on Don and Mimi and Carol and Dick and others who meet regularly at High Street on Fridays and had a great time over a cheeseburger and a couple of deeply satisfying Hammerheads.  Then the Deke and I met at Sixteen Tons and after a half of a Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA and a half of an AleSmith X Extra Pale, I tried out a very odd beer (odd for me), the LambickX, and it hooked me and I enjoyed its funky sourness and enjoyed that I had never tasted anything quite like it.  That was fun.