Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/15: Kitchen to Myself, Zags Lose to Ags, Thanksgiving at Christy and Everett's

1.  While Carol and Paul are in Meridian, I am their housesitter and so I had plenty of room and plenty of solitude in the kitchen to start figuring out how I was going to make a vegetable side dish and prepare mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner.  First thing, before the Zags/Ags game, I went to Yokes, picked up some groceries, returned to the Roberts' house, and chopped up two Mayan sweet onions and prepared some brussel sprouts for roasting.  Later, I roasted these vegetables along with green beans, red, yellow, and orange peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.  I tried out a crock pot mashed potato recipe -- lots of butter and about four oz of cream cheese -- definitely a holiday only batch.

2. In between cooking sessions, I joined Christy and Everett and watched the Zags go down in defeat to the Texas A&M Aggies.  I don't think Coach Mark Few needs me to tell him two things:  1. help Domantas Sabonis better understand the NCAA's crack down on play that is too physical -- in other words, keep him out of foul trouble.  Fouls kept Sabonis benched most of this game.  2.  Make free throws.  Missed free throws cost the Zags this game.

There was a kind of odd bit of trivia in this game.  Three Aggies who played a lot of minutes in this game shared surnames with three of the Washington State Cougars best players ever. The Cougar legends were Stuart House, Dennis Hogg, and Don Collins.  The A & M players:  Danuel House, DJ Hogg, and Anthony Collins.

I haven't found any mention that the Houses, Hoggs, or Collins are related.

But, I was having fun watching this game and having flashbacks to WSU teams from deep in the past, enjoying the memories of Stuart House, Dennis Hogg, and Don Collins.

3. Christy and Everett set up their living room so that they, with me and Mom as guests, could enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner together.  Christy made a great pre dinner appetizer with baguette and a spread that was unique and delicious -- unlike any I'd ever tasted.  Christy's (first ever) turkey and sweet potato and cranberry dressing were fantastic as were her rolls and gravy. Mom's cranberries were delicious, as were the celery sticks she stuffed with cheese. My mashed potatoes and vegetable dish worked and Mom made two top notch pies, a pumpkin and an egg nog.  It was a great dinner and I hope we will get to repeat eating different parts of it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/15: Breakfast with Gonzaga, Mom Bakes Pies, Salmon Dinner Instead

1. Spending most of the month here in Kellogg means many things, but chief among them?  I get to join Christy and Everett as a temporary member of Zags Nation! The Zags played the U of W Dawgs at 9:00 this morning and Christy had bagels and cream cheese and really zingy Bloody Marys ready for tipoff.  What a great way to start the day, especially as the Zags pounded the ball inside where they dominated the Huskies and cruised to victory, 80-64. Next up?  Thanksgiving Day, 10:00 a.m., the Zags play the Ags of Texas A&M. I'll be at Christy's for tipoff -- hmmm... wonder what the Bloody Mary sitch will be.

2. Mom didn't need a lot of help baking a pumpkin pie and an egg nog pie, but I chipped in a little bit, cleaning some dishes, pulling the pies out of the oven, making mini pie crust cinnamon rolls out of leftover dough, and making a quick trip to the store. It's a solid indicator of how Mom's broken arm from last March has healed that she assembled and baked these pies almost entirely on her own.

3. Originally, our wake up with the Zags spread was going to include smoked salmon, but upon closer investigation, salmon that Christy thought was smoked wasn't.  No problem! Christy baked the salmon for dinner and brought it along with a tasty Costco salad and baguette pieces over to Mom's and she and Everett and Mom and I enjoyed a salmon dinner in the evening instead of a salmon ZagsBrunch in the morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/15: Feeling Young, No Worries, Apple Cider Tasting

1. Christy and I piled into her Jeep Cherokee and braved the snow and bare roads to do some shopping for Thanksgiving at Costco and Fred Meyer and the liquor store in Coeur d'Alene. It was fun at Fred Meyer to feel young again -- I am sure that 90% of the shoppers were at least ten years older than me, and, as I peered into my future, I saw hope.

2. Carol texted my two favorite words to me when I have failed some one. Christy and I forgot to go to Michael's to buy some ornaments for Carol. I texted Carol my confession, filled with guilt and remorse. Carol texted me back, "No worries."

3. Carol not only extended mercy to Christy and me, but invited us into her home for dinner. Christy warmed up a Costco chicken pot pie and we ate a Costco salad.  We wrapped up our evening with an apple cider tasting, sampling the the two bottles of 2Towns (Bad Apple and Bright Cider) and two bottles of Reverend Nat's (Revelation Newtown Pippin and Revival Dry) cider I brought back to Kellogg from Oregon.  I love cider or beer or whiskey tastings and this one made me especially happy because Paul and Carol love ciders and love trying out new ones.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sibling Assignment #171: Fantasy Sports in My Youth

Carol assigned this most recent prompt for me and my sisters:

  Write about a memory or memories of the autumn season growing up in Kellogg, sometime before you graduated from Kellogg High School.

Christy wrote a touching tribute to her second grade teacher, Mrs. Lorna Meyer, here. Carol mused on how the colors of autumn in Kellogg have improved over the course of her life, here.

These days, I read football scores and keep up on the way things are going for quite a few teams because I enjoy conversation about football with my friends.  But, I rarely watch games any more and, when I do, it's not nearly as enjoyable as it was when I was younger.

For some reason,  I was really charmed on my 11th birthday (December 27, 1964) by the NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the Cleveland Browns.

I don't know why I wanted Cleveland to win.  You'd think that a young kid like me would be under the spell of legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas, but I wasn't.

I rooted for Frank Ryan, the quarterback of the Browns.  On my 11th birthday, I didn't understand that Frank Ryan, as a doctoral candidate in math at Rice University, was a unique player, accomplished both on the gridiron and in academia.  He completed his doctorate in 1965 and is still the only player in the history of the NFL to hold a doctorate degree while playing in the league.

But, it wasn't his academic prowess that impressed me in this championship game.

I was most impressed by his three touchdown passes to Gary Collins, especially the third one, covering 51 yards.

When the fall of 1965 rolled around, I wanted to be Frank Ryan and I wanted to be Gary Collins.

So, I took my football into the backyard and figured out how to throw the football high enough that I could run under it and catch my own passes.

At first, my passes dropped easily into my hands.  I didn't throw the passes very far ahead of myself.

But, in my memory, at least one of Frank Ryan's passes to Gary Collins was barely within Collins' reach and I wanted to catch that kind of bomb.

So I extended myself.  I threw the passes deeper, not necessarily higher, so I could experience the thrill of catching passes on my fingertips, passes that were very nearly out of my reach.

As time went by, I extended my football passing and catching fantasies beyond Frank Ryan and Gary Collins.  Dad loved the 49ers' John Brodie and so I imagined I was Brodie tossing touchdown passes to Dave Parks. I'd watched much highlight footage of Fran Tarkenton scrambling, evading pass rushers, and so sometimes I'd be a scrambler, ducking, backpedaling, moving left, moving right, and slinging a desperate bomb to Paul Flatley streaking down the sideline, pulling in Tarkenton's heave and hitting pay dirt.

These solo pass and catch sessions paralleled my Fall Classic solo baseball sessions.  Back when we lived on 14 E. Portland, I used to toss up crab apples and hit them with a bat, making my way through the New York Yankees' lineup. When we moved to 516 W. Cameron, the lot where the church across the street now stands, was a rock field, and I loved playing out baseball games in my head as I hit rocks for singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.  It was my mid-1960's version of fantasy baseball. In this world, the San Francisco Giants won every pennant and swept every World Series.

As I grew into my teenage years, I stopped throwing passes to myself and hitting rocks, but, for many years, I shot baskets by myself and played out basketball games in my head, hitting game winning shot after game winning shot in the undefeated glory of my imagination.

And, of course, back in my days of playing golf, I won countless U. S. Opens, Masters titles, Ryder Cups, and other prestigious tournaments with six foot putts on the practice green.

After about the ninth grade, I never experienced much success on the actual fields of play.  I hated playing football and never played after the ninth grade.  My basketball success peaked in the ninth grade. I had a few game winning hits here and there in high school, but, by and large, I was an average baseball player.  I never won anything on a golf course.

But, in the fields of play in my imagination, I was undefeated, catching long passes, stroking game winning hits, knocking down game winning jumpers, and draining clutch putts.

I gave myself goosebumps.

The thrill was real, physical, even if the contests weren't.

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/15: Malibu Serviced, Drive to Moscow, Pizza and Kenton

1. I dashed right down to the service center this morning in the Malibu to have Mom's car serviced and, later, talked with Paul and read online about the splash guard under her car that needs to be replaced.

2. Carol and Cosette swung by Mom's around 4 p.m. and Christy and I piled into Carol's car for a trip to Moscow to take Cosette back to her apartment.

3. The highlight of our visit to Moscow was not only having a half pepperoni half Hawaiian pizza at Gambino's, but that Kenton Bird joined us for a while for some conversation before he left for a meeting. We'll get to see Kenton again next week when Christy and I go to Pullman to see the Zags play the Cougs.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/15: Day Off, Curtain Call, City Limits

1.  It being the Sabbath, Mom and I took a day off from the Task List. I wandered around the house, disoriented, unable to figure out what to do with myself.  Finally, I decided to shower and shave to get ready for the day's big event.

2. Mom and I piled into the Malibu and glided up to the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace to watch Carol, Paul, Cosette, Molly and the rest of the cast perform the eclectic musical revue of silliness, touching songs, and high spirits,  "Curtain Call".  The cast, red-faced with happiness, enthusiastically greeted us audience members after the show and it was a scene of pure joy and gratitude.

3. Mom, Christy, Everett, and I floated into Shoshone County's finest gastropub, The City Limits. Mom treated us to dinner.  I enjoyed three pieces of broasted chicken and a side of macaroni and cheese, and, even more, I enjoyed a pint of Cripple Creek IPA. I've enjoyed other tasty beers at The City Limits before, but never tried this IPA until today. It was the best beer I've drunk at The City Limits, brewed, I should add, by North Idaho Mountain Brewery.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/15: The List Shrinks, Yakkin' at Penny Lane, Pine Creek Tavern Matinee

1. Back to The List and now I've knocked off ten of the thirteen tasks. I washed the upper kitchen cupboards, helped Mom organize the cupboard under the sink, and cleaned the bathtub and other parts of the bathroom. Christy worked outside in the clear cold weather, taking down Mom's garden and yard stuff, so we teamed up to get a lot done in the morning.

2. Byrdman came to Kellogg and I met him and Don Knott down at Penny Lane where I enjoyed some potato chips and popcorn and a couple of red beers and a couple of fingers of George Dickel Rye Whiskey, neat. Eddie, a guy I'd never met, dropped by and the four of us did some serious yakking, reelin' in the years.

3. Don and I cruised to the Pine Creek Tavern in South Pinehurst and met up with Lars, Stu, Ed, Sharon, and Wanda for burgers and chicken and shrimp and happy hour pull tabs and enjoyed reelin' in more years and the good times that come with getting together with forever friends.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/15: List, Recycling, Dinner

1. While I was in Gladstone and Eugene, Mom composed a list of thirteen things she wanted done around her house and I got going on it today -- and even performed a few unlisted tasks. I dusted the ceiling fan, turned off the outdoor water taps, drained and stored garden hoses, watered Mom's house plants, and turned Mom's front and back doors from screen doors to glass ones. I'm sure I'll keep knocking tasks off the list in the next few days.

2. To add some excitement to my day, I left the house and took two loads of papers, magazines, cardboard, plastic bottles, and cans to the recycling station down the street.

3. Christy cooked up a delicious and unique potato soup, one made with hash browns, and brought it over to Mom's with a green salad and bread, and Christy, Mom, Everett, and I had a warming and comforting dinner together.

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/15: Breakfast with Terry, Rockin' the Interstates, Happy Birthday

1.  So that I could drive in daylight from Gladstone, OR to Kellogg, ID today, I was up at 5 a.m. to do some writing and to wake myself up. Terry was up at 5, too, and he fixed me a tasty breakfast of herbed scrambled eggs with a side of fried chopped bacon, mushrooms, onions, and greens. Perfect.

2. Out there on I-84 somewhere around Rufus I found classic rock on the radio and the miles melted away all the way to Ritzville and beyond with the help of Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones, Head East, Stevie Nicks, Jackson Browne, Sanford-Townsend Band, Tesla, Kansas, Def Leppard, et. al.  Ha! What a blast!

3. Carol prepared a chicken enchilada dinner for Paul's birthday party. My job was to shake up some tequila, margarita mix, orange juice, a splash of 7-Up, and some ice and pour the members of my family a margarita or two. Another blast!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/15: Road Nap, Eugene's Ghosts, Dinner with Patrick

1. I slowly got up and at 'em this morning and made my way out of Eugene, after a couple of unsuccessful Duck Store visits, on to I-5.  Thank goodness for rest stops. All the excitement of the last several days hit me near the Santiam rest stop and I pulled over and took a solid nap.

2. I don't know when I'll ever return to Eugene, but the ghosts of Eugene will always be with me. The vast majority of the ghosts are friendly, some haunt me, but they all piled in Mom's Malibu as I took a last spin around some familiar places in town and as I left Eugene, reminding me of many happy days and many difficult ones, too.

3. Patrick and I met for dinner at the Tabor Tavern on East Burnside and enjoyed two of my favorite things:  great food and great conversation.  I enjoyed listening to Patrick tell me that things are going very well at work and that he is enjoying making music with his friends in Eugene and having some excellent visits with his buddy Adam in Mapleton.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/15: Rita at Creswell Bakery, Dan at Ta Ra Rin, Tea with Sparky BONUS: Harold at Billy Mac's

1.  I drove from Chez Troxstar in Eugene down to Creswell and Rita and I went to the gorgeous Creswell Bakery for biscuits and gravy and a divinely delicious raisin cinnamon walnut roll.  We got to have a very good talk, say good-bye to each other, and hope we can see each other again in the not too terribly distant future.

2. Dan Armstrong and I were hired onto the full-time faculty at LCC on the same day and started our years out there in January, 1991.  We became great friends.  We had offices next door to each other for many years and hundreds of great conversations went down between us over those years.  Today, we met at Ta Ra Rin (Thai-Hop) for lunch and picked right up where we'd been before and got caught up on the many complex dimensions of our lives.

3.  Back in the early days of the Shakespeare Showcase -- then called the Term's End Shakespeare Recital --, the cast went out for post-show pizza and then Sparky and I would get on the phone late the night of the show and debrief about how it had all gone.  Well, the post-show pizza no longer happens and Sparky and I no longer talk on the phone late at night, but this afternoon I went to Sparky's house and we sat down over peppermint tea and talked for a couple of hours about the weekend shows and about the wonders of the plays and the poetry and the insights of William Shakespeare.  Two hours seemed like ten minutes.

BONUS!  After tea with Sparky, it was time for drinks with Harold Lannom.  I swung by his house and picked him up and we enjoyed a couple cocktails at Billy Mac's and had a great talk about our new lives -- his new life since selling and moving out of his house and my new life in Maryland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/15: Happy Birthday, LCC and Turtles, The Fullness of Time

1. After a sturdy breakfast at the Cornucopia, I got to see Pam on her birthday this morning and sit down and have a great conversation.

2.  I met Linda at her work space at LCC around noon and she gave me a tour of the newly remodeled Center building and we had a really fun lunch at Turtles where, much to my surprise, I saw Shirley, Jill, and Nancy -- and a little later, Father Ted walked in and we embraced and had a chance to talk.

3.  Lynn and I had a long talk about the old days, the new days, and all the days in between over at her house this afternoon and evening and I left with a fuller and clearer understanding of the world. The fullness of time.