Category Archives: box of whine

Anything having to do with Box of Whine, this webpage or any webpage that came before.

we’ve been gifted this island, we’ve been gifted this day

As of tomorrow,  five years ago, I stumbled into, accidentally found and blindly wandered into where I belong.  Absurd as it may be to find delight in marking a half a decade at a job, there are some sappy feelings and a whole lot of gratitude to be spread around for where I am now, which is exactly where I started five years ago.

Cottage_Grove_HouseFive years ago, and a couple of weeks, I was a term into my second masters degree.  I had completed my teaching program and had decided to continue into Special Education for one and a half reasons.  Half reason: I was interested in the topic.  Whole reason: I wanted to wait a year for Jess to finish her grad program.  Lucky that I did so.

I was called in to the  office of the director of my previous teaching program.  She had been in contact with someone from a Cottage Grove High School because they were looking for a replacement for a Special Education teacher who was unexpectedly leaving after one term.  My name was thrown around by the program director because she knew I was interested in the field.  With my permission, my name and number was passed off to the district.

A day later, my phone rings, the director of Special Education is calling to talk with me about the position.  I’m brutally honest with her, SPED is not the area I want to teach, I won’t have my SPED teaching license, and I’m a full-time grad student who’s not even really looking for a job. Understandingly, she says she understands each of my comments but still suggests, “Well, just come down and see the school.”  Reluctantly, I agree and day or two later, I drive down to Cottage Grove.

Their new high school is big and beautiful, having been built but a couple of years earlier.   I’m shown around the school, meet some of the teachers, the principal and the SPED department head, who I think already didn’t like me.  Walking back to the front door, the director of Special Education asks me what I think, I reiterate all of my previous concerns covering my lack of interest and credentials.  Even more so now, she is very understanding, nodding with each expressed concern; yet, she doesn’t hesitate a half of a breath after my concerns to say, “Well, you should just apply, there’s not commitment.”

Reluctantly, I take the application and head back to Eugene. A day after my application was submitted, I am called by the principal of the high school, asking me to come and interview for the position that I don’t want, I don’t feel qualified for, and don’t feel ready for.  I reel out all of my concerns to this new sympathetic ear, he completely understands, saying that it’s only an interview, not a commitment.  Reluctantly, I schedule an interview for five in the evening for the next day.

Up until this point, I had interviewed for multiple jobs before, yet none of them had been in the field I was actually aiming for.  I figured that since this was my first, big time education interview, I was going to be slammed with questions over pedagogy, behavior management, my understanding of Special Education… and I was questioned over all of this, however, what was unexpected was the stories and laughter that took place during the interview from my interviewers.  Even though this was my first ‘dry-cleaned shirt and tie’ interview, it was the most relaxed, most comfortable interview I had ever been through.  My interview to be a bag-boy at a supermarket had been more tense; my interview to be a resident assistant  was more grueling.

After a round of shaking hands, I was on my way home to think over the interview–with the feeling that I was probably the least qualified applicant and that this had been a good practice interview.  I knew that in a couple of days, the phone would ring and the official, understanding voice would say, “Thanks for applying, but…”

The phone definitely rang in two days, as expected, the voice said, “Thanks for applying…” however I was only half right with my guess,  “…we’d like to offer you the position.” Awkward long pause.

“Really?”  Was my response, second-guessing their decision making skills.  I was assured that they had called the right applicant.  I nervously asked fora day to think about it, which I was granted.  I talked to many people, but the phrase that sat on top of my head that night and the next half day was my dad’s, “step out of your comfort zone, try something that’s not completely safe to you, something that may be hard.”

Around lunch time, I called the director of Special Education.  Red-faced, nervous and slightly nauseous, I told her that I would be happy to accept the position.

Three days before the second term was to begin, I met the guy who had just previously held my position.  I was regaled with stories of  horrendous kids, a miserable job, and a promised urge to be in this position for no more than a year, two at absolutely max.  Not the reinforcement I had been seeking for my half-confident decision.

And the job was hard… at least initially.  The previous teacher was right, there were bad attitudes, student’s that wouldn’t trust me, challenged me, and were intentionally upsetting the balance of the class.  All this and I was still a full-time student, teaching all day and in class at night.  However, I found out that these behaviors from the students weren’t their doing, it had been the teacher.  He had been so callous, so empty with the kids that they hated him, hated anyone that was in his place.

Through the remainder of that year, intentionally or unintentionally, I had reversed that shock wave of a bitter teacher and the rest leads to where I am right now. Cottage Grove, unbeknown to be, drew me in.

Within the following year, Jess and I bought a house in the tiny little town.  She was hired on at one of the elementary schools.  We started to make good friends.  The Grove had sent out its tentacles  and reeled us in. For me, Cottage Grove feels as though the red hot summer days of my early years.  The glint and mist that Woodburn used to have for me.  The comfort, the roamable comfort of a town that knows you and compliments the notches of your own puzzle piece, nuzzled within it.  The streets match your feet, the city limits, gently, are just at the furthest tips of your longest fingers, stretched out at the end of your arms.

Slowly, the high school morphed from this giant building where I was a singularity, to where I go to work with friends.  Where I feel a certain love and kinship with my colleagues.  The students are the source of my good, bad, and best days.  It’s an ebb and flow.  Is every day those white-boarded wonderful days of educational and teaching bliss?  No.  Some days are hard, some days grip hard upon the minute hand around the clock.

But every day is rewarding.

More often are the days that I come home in a better space than I left home in.   Most days have their personal bests and moments of all of these connections. But every day has its reward.

Without reluctance, I would like to thank little Cottage Grove.  Thanks for letting me fall into your grace, into a job I love, into a place I belong.  Thank you for the people, students, adults, the barely known faces and names, those I see every day that make it The Grove, welcoming and anointed me as a Grover.

As accidentally as I arrived, it is with much intention that I stay here.

Captain’s Log

I’m not sure if irony is the right label for it, but it’s amusing that during the school year, even when football is in full swing, I update much more readily.  It is when I’ve been blessed with free time that this here site grinds to a halt.

Nevertheless, the past couple of months have been rife with stuff.  Who doesn’t love stuff?  For nearly a month, Jess and I fled the domestic shores for “our other continent.”Hofbrau

We made a brief stop over in Paris, for about a day and a half.  Nothing against Paris or France but we had already made other plans with Germany; namely, to take a train to Munich.  We bummed about Munich for about five days enjoying the sights, culinary offerings, and of course, their national beverages.

One of the things Dachau Barbed Wirewe gave the highest priority was visiting the former concentration of Dachau.  While there was always a feeling of reverence and of being on hallowed ground, the overall thing that I took away from the exhibit was that it was cleansed.  DachauNot necessarily done intentionally but I think that that suffering of humans and the ultimate cruelty of other humans was slightly filled in.  Buildings had been destroyed, a few rebuilt to show “what it had been like” which didn’t sit well with me. If we are meant to never forget, things like this should be brutally honest, as ugly as it was.

But all things in Germany weren’t bent on the sad parts of history.  One of the best days, at least in my opinion, was when we hiked into a monastery outside of Munich.  While we were initially expecting a hike of three Andechskilometers it turned out being three miles.  Not that the distance was a crucial component but it actually worked up our appetites for the beer garden that awaited us atop the hill.  Although we feasted on various pork products and quaffed our pilsners… we were left monk-less.  Apparently, the cloister doesn’t mix in with the locals nor the visiting American vagabonds.  The hike was amazingly beautiful and the view from the monastery was spectacular which paid us in full for our hike and refueled us for our trek back to the train down the hill, through the forest and back through the brick-laden village.

Prague at DuskFrom Munich, a second train took us onto Prague, Czech Republic.  Prague was going to be my wildcard of the trip.  This was a country I had never been to and a language I couldn’t make heads or tails of except to say “please”.  But please doesn’t help you find a bathroom or consulate.  I was equally prepared to be out of my element or be completely awestruck with the country.  Thankfully, the second was true. Prague was a snapshot in time, nearly every building was at least represented as it would have in another era.

For us, Prague wasn’t necessarily about seeing certain things or doing certainPrague wall activities beyond walking about the city.  Prague is meant  to be traversed one step at a time.  Over the hand placed two inch sidewalk stones and across the bridges.  There were many times we would just walk in a direction and see where it took us and try to find our way back.  As long as we were able to find the river, we could find home.

We left Prague for a stay in London that was counted in hours rather than days.  I briefly broke off from my travel companions to meet up with my friend from college, Monica.  We met up and made good use of a pub which was fashioned out of an old firehouse.  Many hours later, I wandered back amongst all of the major stopping points of London: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc.  Don’t be wrong, but London was not my place.  The people were amazingly nice but I think I’m starting to approach the end of my stays in cosmopolitan areas.  Maybe it goes back to the summers in Newfoundland but there is a lot to be said for experiencing a country without seeing other people.  I’ll confess, I’m more awestruck my natural wonders than those that are man-made.  That aside, the next morning we made it to King’s Cross station and onto our train to Edinburgh, Scotland.

At this point, may I diverge for a second and speak to the wonders of European train travel. It’s timely, it’s efficent, it’s fast, it’s comfortable and once in a while, it has internet.  To sum it up: me like.

BagpipperScotland was a good change of pace.  The first two days we spent hanging about Edinburgh proper.  We took in the castle, walked past the palace down the Royal Mile.  My favorite thing in Edinburgh wasn’t one of those, it was a big hill that loomed over the city.  King Arthur’s Seat was a quick hike to the base of the hill and then a steep climb to the top over the stone steps.  Once at the top, if you’d positioned yourself against the wind, you’d have an unbelievable chance to witness the city and its run toward the English Channel from above.  Jess and I sat on the hillside for nearly an hour enjoying the warmth of the sun and view below.

View from Arthur's Seat

Scotland only Tantallon Castlegot better once we got a car.  We became more mobile and the things we saw rewarded us.  I’ll admit it for her; Jess is a castleophile.  She loves castles and any chance that we were near one we would take it, which was more than ok by me.  Luckily, our GPS was stocked full of fancy-named castles galore.

Hands down, everyone found the best castle to be Tantallon Castle.  This massive structure stood at least five stories (figuring the time it was made, it’sInside Tantallon a comparative skyscraper) with major portions still intact.  You would hope that castles would be cavernous sending you up one stairwell out a new door into an unknown room with the occasional dungeon; Tantallon didn’t disappoint, especially when you consider that it leaned gracefully toward the ocean waves below it.

Tantallon Castle at Dusk

Tantallon Castle at Dusk

As all vacations should have, we intermingled some beach time into the agenda as well.  We parked our car on a little lane just before it became an even littler dirt road and hiked down two miles to Yellow Craig Beach.  Just to verify, the ocean water in Scotland is cold too.  Yellow Craig Beach

In search of more castles, we came upon St. Andrews.  Even though that St Andrewstown’s name is synonymous with golf, I didn’t golf, see a golf course nor ever a golf ball.  We did, however, happen upon the ruins of a cathedral that stood near the cliff’s edge.  Among the bases of where pillars formerly rose up and the walls that somehow still stand, were the countless grave markers and headstones for many people who had been thrown from the mortal coil.  There is a magnetism that exists for me and the ruins of buildings, especially ones that were the keystone of community, but that comes into further play in another paragraph.

Grave marker at St. Andrews

Grave marker at St. Andrews

The highlight of our trip could have easily been our day trip across Scotland onto a ferry and onto tDSC04824he Isle of Bute.  On this little island was a forgotten church that was nameless with its roof long collapsed inside of its walls.  We would have nearly passed the grounds had I not seen out of the corner of my eye the blue sky where the roof should have been.  We loitered inside the church (which probably wasn’t something we were supposed to do) for a long time.  Looking at the little details that made up this church, which now laid in a heap where the pews once were or  scattered outside DSC04786of its walls.  We were able to wander up the stairs, still intact, and look up into the rotting wooden floor boards that housed a church bell at one time.  The door lock mechanism was tossed in the pile of wood and glass just beyond the entrance of the church.  The church had long been forgotten or abandoned but that only made it more beautiful, more memorable.  It had all the reverence and pious beauty of its kind but laid about haphazardly into the jagged piles.


To cap off our adventure in Scotland and on the Isle of Bute, we finally DSC04854came across one of those stereotypical Scottish scenes.  Highland cattle in a field.  As expected as it is supposed to be, I still think that they are extremely interesting looking and was excited when I finally got to snap off some pictures.


From Scotland, another quick plan ride took us into Northern Ireland.  The consistent question I get from people is about the driving. What everyone already knows is that it is on the opposite of the road from our American roads.  However, what isn’t widely known is that the roads are wide as ours and without a shoulder.  You would have about five feet in your lane, and err in depth perception would have you running your rental car along a rock wall.  Err to the other side, at best toy’ll lose your mirror.  Now imagine this with people parking where ever their Irish hearts please.  Now, you have to deal with multiple cars taking up at least your miniscule lane with traffic coming toward you… and it’s a giant truck, or give it the cute British name, a “lorry”.  I didn’t care if it has a cute name, it still out weighted me by multiple tons and it was  bearing down as I dodge three parked cars in my lane.  That aside…

Northern Ireland was beautiful.  Jess and I made good use of our rentDSC04925al car there, despite said road conditions.  We stayed on the Antrim Coast, in the north.  Our first stop was Dunluce Castle, yet another castle that was perched precariously above a churning ocean.  Even though I really like seeing the castle, I snapped my favorite picture there of a sparrow, as you can see:


We also rambled about at the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and the Giant’s DSC05016Causeway.  The Carrick-a-Rede Bridge is an old rope bridge that spans over the water to a little island where fishermen would throw out nets to make their livings.  The Giant’s Causeway is a natural formation of rocks that are all shaped as pentagons that rise up at varying heights.   As someone else once coined, it looks as if someone is offering god thousands of cigarettes.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

One day, we drove out to a little coastal community that wasn’t much more than a couple of blocks wide.  We then hopped onto a ferry to Rathlin Island which is only  DSC05181a minute piece of land.  Once our boat docked, people walked off and went to the left… with that in mind, Jess and I started hiking to the right, down to the southern tip of the island.  As we approached the south lighthouse both Jess and I heard a strange sound.  As we crept closer to the water, the noise became louder.  Jess then asked if I saw the seals.  I said that I didn’t, but what she was pointing was a log.  Lo and behold, that log was a seal, as well as were the fourteen other seals around it.  We must have sat there for near two hours just taking in our solitude with the seals.  It was quite a remarkable moment to be there when we could have easily walked on by never noticing the fifteen slumbering bodies on tossed about on the rocks.


After our time on the north coast, Jess and I drove back to Belfast and used that day as a great opportunity to rest up.  We hung about the downtown of the city and then spent a handful of hours in the pub below our hotel, both of which were called Benedict’s.  We sat there, sipping our pints, listening to an Irish rock band and before we knew it it was approaching time for dinner.  I had a classic Irish Sunday roast dinner and then we headed back to the room because in the morning we hopped yet another flight but this time back to Amsterdam.

I had never been in Amsterdam before, save for its airport but the city quickly became one of my favorites in all of I’ve been to.  I would classify it as a city as beautiful as Paris, yet without the rigid attention to fashion or social rules.  To hedge off any questions: Yes, we did go to the Red Light District but it wasn’t like I had imagined it.  Of course, there was the ‘industry’ present but it is only a small portion of the district.  Truthfully, some of the best restaurants and shopswere tucked into the streets.

DSC01988An obligatory stop was, of course, the Anne Frank House.  IDSC01989t was a very sober exhibit.  I thought it was done well, fairly minimal with a lot of information.  I twas strange being able to touch the bookcase that hid the family’s refuge.  To stand in the room of Anne Frank and see the pictures of stars and the future queen of England on her walls.  With all of the windows darkened out, I could easily place myself in what her thoughts could have been.


We were lucky to get a chance to also go up the tallest point in AmsterdamDSC05538, the Westkirk, which was a church just steps from Anne Frank’s house.  From the tower we had a picturesque view of the city.  Through the journey to the top on almost vertical steps, we could see the old wooden structure that was just behind the stone, as well as bells that boomed from behind the church facade.


Sadly, this was our last stop on our trip.  From ADSC05445msterdam, we caught our direct flight back to Portland.  Both Jess and I were sad to come to the end of the trip.  We had spent so many months in waiting for its arrival and yet when we were in the midst of it, it was but a flash.  We only scratched the surfaces of the places we saw.  Even after  four flights and the train treks, we have both agreed that there is much of Scotland and Ireland we would like to come back to, but that’s another post all together.


And the nominees are…

One of my favorite things about having my own blog that brings in a little bit of traffic, is the weird and inane search terms that bring people the boxofwhine… none of which are my name.   Here are some of the all-time front runners for search terms:


A couple that didn’t make the top list, but still have  a warm place in my heart:

  • Jinky Wells II
  • Funny Cow
  • Skulls

Take a knee…

The 2008 Football season came to a close for the Cottage Grove Lions in Sisters on Halloween night. Our team pulled through and sealed a victory over the Outlaws 30-26. It was a stereotypical ‘nail-biter’ and a defensive struggle. Despite the win over the once great Outlaws, we were relegated to finishing out of the playoff bracket. It has always been hard implementing a new system and this is one of the consequences. Not that we should have finished this early, I think that, as a team, we could have been destined for at least one playoff trip, if not more. But that is one of the downsides to coaching, there is only so much you can do and none of it you have any direct control over. To cap it off, this was my first group of players that I have coached since they were Freshmen. It is been a rewarding experience to see them change both athletically but also in their personalities.

I’m definitely torn. I love football and I love coaching it, hanging out with the players and the coaches is a major benefit. On the other hand, I am very pleased to get back to my workout routine that has been just slightly above nonexistent. I’ll get home a little earlier, see Jess a little more, and be able to take my time and relax, if only for a little bit during the day. I’ll be happy to get home, maybe read a little more… who knows, we’ll see.

Faster than I can comprehend, I’m sure spring practices will be here and I’ll be in the swing of it all again.

Top Search Phrases

We here at Box of Whine like to beleive that our content is wide and varied, as well as entertaining.  With that, here are the top three search terms for 9/24/2008:

Another fancy feature; another heartattack

Seeing as all those partaking of Box of Whine are diligently observant (especially with my typos) you’ve have surely noticed the little icons appearing throughout the site.  These are gravatars, gravatars (as I’m sure a lot of you know) stand for Globally Recognized Avatars.  The ones you see when I post or when I comment are connected to my email address.  Many other sites use gravatars and so my icon is the same across all of them.  You may asking yourself, “Self, I would surely enjoy having my own gravatar so that when I do comment on Box of Whine, my icon may appear in all of its glory.”  To answer such deep-seated questions, here is the solution: go to and sign-up.  It will associate a picture that you will have uploaded with your email and then sites, such as this splendid venue, will proudly showcase your icon of choice.

Of course, adding a new feature to this site has never been easy, something always goes wrong (I have learned my $150 lesson), therefore I always backup when there is a new version of WordPress.  After installing, activating, and customizing the latest plug-in to have gravatars, I started getting messages that the database for this site was nowhere to be found.   There was at least 15 good minutes spent panicing and cursing myself for once again hobbling my site.  Thankfully, I think the server was just having a hiccup episode, not long after everything started to come back, but not before my blood pressure spiked. I don’t see how people can do this stuff for a living, it’s hard enough as a hobby.

Site update

Just a quick update; I’ve installed the plugin “Tagline Rotator”, which (surprisingly enough) rotates the taglines seen above next to the title.  Hypothetically, when you visit (I’m sure at least five times a day) it will display a different tagline.

If you have any suggestions for any other taglines, comment below.

Just a note

Just a note to let you all know that you can now contact me through Box of Whine, if you took to the top of the page, as well as on the right hand side, you’ll see “Whine Contact”.  Click on that, fill out the information with your message and the interweb sends it on to me. 


Fancy, I know.

I don’t care how you get here…

The top search queries that bring people to Box of Whine are:

  • whine photo
  • biceps pain racquetball
  • what is the residue left on hands by oranges?

Ok… the first one I can understand, even the racquetball search I can rationalize because I have made a bunch of racquetball posts.  But the last one, that’s mistifying.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the reside left on my hands by oranges.  I think that’s called orange juice, isn’t it?

Benjamin and Ulysses

You’re looking at $150.  Stupidly, I managed to overwrite all of the files on my server.  Thankfully, Godaddy (my host) backs up all servers every night, so we only miss out on a day’s worth of no one commenting.  Sadly, to use the back up version of my server there was a $150 “resource” fee.  I’m not sure how they rationalize that amount of money to do it (seeing as it was probably only a couple of clicks to fix the problem) but the money was put down. 

Lesson learned: I’ll be more diligent about backing up.