Saturday, July 11, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/10/20: Books Arrive, Tire Pump, Gibbs BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I was sitting in the Vizio room pecking away, blogging, when Debbie walked in with a package. I could tell by its exterior that it was from Better World Books and joy surged throughout me. Sure enough, the rest of my order arrived:

The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert
Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert
The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Shorter, Third Edition)
To Read a Poem, Donald Hall

I jumped right into these books, sampling old favorite poems and reading some ones I'd never read. I have gone too long without John Crowe Ransom's "Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter" or Wallace Stevens' "Idea of Order at Key West" or poems by Emily Dickinson or Sharon Olds nearby and here they were, with countless others, in a small pile next to my chair, ready for me to plunge into again and again, ready to give me pleasure.

2. I'm never quite sure how I'm going to do with anything mechanical. So, I experienced some mild anxiety when I went out to the garage with my new bike tire pump to put air in my bicycle tires. Without much problem, I successfully made my tires firm with air and exhaled a deep sigh of relief. I put the bicycle in the back of the Sube and plan to go somewhere nearby on Saturday for a short ride. I know I'm in lousy shape and will need to build up some strength and stamina.

3. Gibbs is coming into his own as a growing puppy. He's daily more confident and animated, is getting more and more brave about exploring the back yard, has begun to develop a strut, and might even be getting a little cocky, to his credit. He is a very social puppy, enjoys being near Debbie and me, usually loves being held, and seems, happily,   to be catching on to the fact that Debbie and I are his people. His world is getting a little bigger, too. Sometimes he goes out to the back porch and sits there, gazing into the distance, looking up to the hills nearby, as if he's coming into some kind of awareness that he lives in a world much bigger than the inside of a house.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

What kind of food do you grub?
Do you like prawns or fries in a tub?
Steak or fish on a grill,
Fruits and veggies a thrill?
Or like Dagwood a piled up Sub?

Friday, July 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/20: Transplant Now?, Roethke and Linda and Jim Hunt, Still Moving In, BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Today was an especially uplifting day in the world of this blog because of responses people wrote, comments they made, and emails I received. Upon reading about my monthly blood draw, Marcia Morgan Jacobs asked me if I would consent to a transplant during the pandemic. Answering Marcia helped me review discussions I've had with the transplant team and with my Kootenai Health nephrologist, all of whom agree that as long as my condition remains stable and as long as I feel so good, I should feel free to turn down the offer of an organ -- unless, God forbid, it's a young, nearly pristine organ.

But even in that case, right now, when I think rationally about a transplant, I might very likely turn down an organ. Even if the people at Providence Sacred Heart are taking every precaution they can to keep the hospital safe and even if I were individually protected with high quality gear on my body, I'd be out and about a lot with my immune system mightily suppressed. Upon release from the hospital, I'd have to make frequent visits back to the hospital for lab work and check-ups. I'd either be staying in Spokane somewhere or commuting back and forth from Kellogg and, in my compromised condition, I'd be way more vulnerable to the virus than I already am as a person over sixty-five.

I enjoyed taking some time to think this through and respond to Marcia.

2. I also heard from Linda Lavigne, Liz Moudy, Roberta Garner, and Deborah Gridley. They have all loved reading Pillars of the Earth. Their comments heartened me to get going soon on reading this book, even as its thickness looks daunting, but, as I've said, kind of perfect for all the time I'm spending indoors.

I also loved hearing from Linda Lawrence Hunt.

I spent much of the day remembering my days at Whitworth as a student and colleague of her husband, Professor Jim Hunt and as a friend of Linda and Jim's. For just over two years, starting in September of 1976, my first wife and I rented a cottage that was right next to Jim and Linda's house. We got to see and talk with each other often. All day today I dipped into the bounty of warm memories I hold of those times living next to Jim and Linda back then.

Linda's comment, though, was a response to my writing about Theodore Roethke.

Linda told me that Jim loves this line from Roethke's poem, "The Far Field": "What I love is near at hand" and that it's been helpful for her as she's experienced three bouts with cancer.

I realized that it had been years since I'd read "The Far Field".

So I read it again.

Like Roethke's poem, "The Rose", which I commented on yesterday, "The Far Field" is another of Roethke's poems that comprise his "North American Sequence".

Like "The Rose", "The Far Field" is a somewhat long poem. I wanted to understand better the line that Jim loves and that has been so helpful to Linda. Here's the entirety of the verse that line appears in:

I am renewed by death, thought of my death,
The dry scent of a dying garden in September,
The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.
What I love is always at hand,
Always, in earth and air.

I don't know if it's a common experience, but I know that my brushes with death and that living with a chronic disease have sharpened my love and appreciation of the beauty I live within, the beauty in earth and air. In this way, I, too, am "renewed by death, thought of my death" and am buoyed by knowing that whether it's the rush of Coal Creek, the Shasta daisies blooming in our back yard, or the sparkle and shimmering of a North Idaho mountain lake, "What I love is always at hand."

The verse I quoted from "The Far Field" comes at the end of this poem's third section; in the fourth and final section of the poem, Roethke sums up the what makes the things of this world so renewing, so transforming, so joyous when he writes, "All finite things reveal infinitude".

Buddha might rephrase this line slightly and say that the only permanence is impermanence.

When I read this line of Roethke and when I reflect upon his insight that "What I love is always at hand", I realize that I experience the spirit of life, the sustenance of life, and the forces in life that are infinite in the finiteness all around me. All this finiteness will pass one day: Gibbs, friends and family, that stack of poetry books that arrived in the mail today, the scent of thriving foliage along the once dead and gray CdA River, the smell of cedar in the Settlers Grove, the way Placer Creek tumbles over fallen logs near the Pulaski Trail, the waves thundering and leaping over the rocks at Otter Beach along the Oregon coast, and much more. But in this brief time I have to love what I will lose, I experience mysteries and joys beyond my understanding, experiences that invite me to experience what is everlasting and nourishes my spirit.

I don't know if what I've written here connects with what Linda Hunt has experienced, connects with why Roethke's line "What I love is always at hand" has been helpful to her.

But, Linda's comment revved up my thoughts and memories and more of them are churning as I bring this short bit of writing to an end....Richard Wilbur's poem, "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World" .... Wallace Stevens' line from "Sunday Morning", "Death is the mother of beauty".... Gerard Manley Hopkins..."The world is charged with the grandeur of God".....Denise Levertov's "O Taste and See". . . but enough riffing.

Let's move on to #3.

3. A while back, Paul bolted a free standing bookshelf Mom left behind into one of our basement walls and we are using it for food and kitchen wares. It's a part of our basement pantry. Having this space to store things has inspired Debbie and me to do some rearranging in the kitchen and I pitched in today by dealing with our numerous quart containers of flour, hot cereal, dry beans, grains, sugar, and other items by organizing them in the rotating cabinet below the kitchen counter to the right of our stove/oven and moving other items to the basement.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

If you think back to jobs that were payin'!
Some weren’t that much fun I am sayin’.
Lots were dirty and hot,
And you weren’t paid a lot.
But for future was foundation layin’!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/08/20: Back to Roethke's "The Rose", Blood Draw, Quinoa Bowl BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. It excited me this morning when a package from Better World Books arrived. Two books came: first, some perfect reading for mostly staying at home these days, Ken Follet's 900+ page historical novel, Pillars of the Earth; second, one of my favorite books from all the way back to college, The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke.

On Sunday, while on ZOOM, I told Bill, Diane, and Bridgit that I had ordered Roethke's book and Bill asked me to explain my love for Roethke.

I stumbled around, perfectly sober, and blabbed some kind of incoherent response.

But, today, as I dove back into his poetry, the reasons for loving his poems started to come back to me.

The memory is a funny thing and mine gets slower and a little less reliable all the time.

On Sunday, as I stammered, trying to answer Bill's question, for some reason one of my favorite of all of Roethke's poems didn't even come to mind.

It's the last of six poems in his series called "The North American Sequence".

It's entitled, simply, "The Rose".

Roethke sets the poem in an unnamed estuary. It opens:

There are those to whom place is unimportant,
But this place, where sea and fresh water meet,
Is important --

With the mind of a naturalist and the music of a poet, he details the sights and sounds of what makes this estuary important. Before long, he comes to the poem's center, its focus. In the midst of all of the  motion and sounds of the estuary, ". . .this rose in sea-wind/Stays/Stays in its true place . . . ."

This still rose in a churning world, gives the speaker of the poem a triggering image. The speaker ventures inward and outward, into the world of  childhood memory, childhood greenhouses and the father's roses, and outward into the great span of the America, its sounds, to "the ticking of snow of snow around oil drums in the Dakotas" or to the "thin whine of telephone wires in the wind of a Michigan winter".

It's an ecstatic poem, in praise of a world of past and present, of places at hand and those far away that are all connected to each other, interdependent, all anchored by the rose, as if he has found that in a world of great variety and motion, the rose holds all things together.

By the last section of "The Rose", the speaker of the poem experiences a kind of rapture, and brings us into his euphoria:

. . . I came upon the true ease of my being
As if another man appeared out of the depths of my being,
And I stood outside of myself,
Beyond becoming and perishing,
A something wholly other,
As if I swayed out on the wildest wave alive,
And yet was still.
And I rejoiced in being what I was . . .

At the core of his exultation? The rose. Still. Hardy. Rooted. Gathering all about it and all beyond it into itself, a delicate but sturdy emblem of the world's natural and mystical union, its deep interrelatedness. 

Want to read "The Rose"? Go here.

2. I slipped on my comfortable Merrell hiking shoes and walked the half a mile or so up to the Shoshone Medical Center for my monthly blood draw. I appreciated how carefully the phlebotomist examined the directions in my blood draw kit, sent to me by a lab in Spokane, and confirmed with me that she understood the details of preparing the return of the box. My blood came most cooperatively out of my arm into the tube and, between us, we got the sample properly marked, packed, and sent back to the lab. By the way, this blood is not tested -- I simply submit a monthly sample to the transplant program's lab each month. If an organ should become available, this sample would be used to confirm that the donated kidney is a good match.

3. Back home, Debbie roasted some Brussel sprouts and combined them with quinoa. Then she sort of said, what the hell!, let's throw in some salmon and cooked up a couple salmon burger patties. I loved how these items tasted combined in a bowl, especially after I seasoned them with Bragg Liquid Amino.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

I've had quite enough of the news.
Can't tell what are facts from their views.
Felt better with Walter,
Huntley, Brinkley din't falter.
Or report only bias as a ruse.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/20: Hiking Shoes, Postmodern Jukebox, Bill Davie and Adrienne Rich BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. The new Merrell hiking shoes I ordered last week arrived on Monday. Today, I tried them on -- they fit well and felt good -- and gave them an initial test drive by walking down to the mailbox in front of the building that housed Stein's IGA for so many years. If footwear doesn't fit me right, either or both of my big toes blow up with redness, swelling, and pain. If today's walk is a true indicator of what I can expect, these new shoes will work beautifully.

Today, the bike tire pump I ordered last week arrived. Soon, I'll get some air in my bicycle tires and get back to flying (ahem) around on two wheels.

2.  I enjoy watching and listening to videos on YouTube of Postmodern Jukebox and today I discovered their classy cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On", featuring Morgan James fronting a string and piano ensemble. Recently, I also listened to a trio of Postmodern Jukebox singers, Joey Cook, Adana Duru, and Nina Ann perform a 1960's girl group styled (think "Mr. Postman") cover of Portugal The Man's song, "Feel it Still".  If you'd like to see these videos, a simple online search will lead you right to them.

3. I thoroughly enjoyed tonight's version of  Bill Davie's Tree House Concert. It was #13 and Bill seems ready to keep right on going, every Tuesday evening, from 7-8 o'clock. Tonight Bill read from the poetry of Adrienne Rich, focusing on selections from her collection, Twenty-One Love Poems. The poems are a a testimony to the power of honesty, honesty within herself, honesty with her partner, and honesty about the political dimensions of intimacy. Just as Rich's poetry explored the intertwining of intimacy, mortality, and politics, so Bill's selections tonight were also at times confessional, at times expressions of love (especially for his wife Diane), at times explorations of our mortality, and, at times, political. 

It's National Have a Coke Day and Stu wrote a limerick:

What do you drink for your thirst?
Cool water probably comes to mind first.
But, if it’s cola you’re drinking,
Give the red can some winking.
And blue one ok if aversed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/06/20: Cookin' with *Zaitoun*, Salmon Dinner. Too Much Sun BONUS Limerick by Stu

1. My assignment for tonight's birthday dinner in Christy and Everett's back yard was to make a rice dish. I immediately thought that I'd like to serve some kind of dish from the Middle East and so I consulted the cookbook Zoe gave me last Christmas, Zaitoun, a collection of Palestinian recipes. Sure enough, I found a delicious looking possibility: Brown Rice Lentil Pilaf with Crispy Fried Onions. It's simple. I cooked a pot of brown rice and a batch of lentils, drained, and combined them.  In the cast iron skillet, I toasted cumin and coriander seeds and crushed them with my mortar and pestle and added cinnamon and allspice to them. I melted butter and cooked the spice mixture in the butter and poured it over rice and lentils and, following the recipe's instructions, put some more water in the pot of rice/lentils, placed a dish towel over the pot, and cooked it at a medium to low heat for fifteen minutes.

Coincidentally, at the end of fifteen minutes the dish towel caught on fire.

That wasn't in the recipe's directions.

I transferred the rice and lentils into an our oblong glassware pan.

Then I thinly sliced three onions and cut the slices in half, covered the onion with all-purpose flour, and fried the pieces in hot oil in several batches, put the pieces on paper towels to soak up the excess oil, and topped the rice and lentils with the onions. I'm not sure the onion pieces were crispy, but they were well cooked.

I thought this dish would have tasted good with raisins and sliced almonds and I might add those ingredients in next time I make this.

2. Our dinner was superb. Christy cooked aluminum foil packets of perfectly seasoned salmon and zucchini with lemon slices on the grill. She also served a tasty bread. Debbie made a shrimp cocktail appetizer and one of her brilliantly imagined and executed green salads, this one featuring arugula. We enjoyed a selection of wines with dinner and, as requested by Carol for her birthday, Christy baked a delicious lemon cheesecake and served it with Limoncello.

3. I'll end with a not that beautiful of a thing that had a good conclusion, eventually. I want a written record of what happened as a reminder to myself to be more careful when it's sunny out.

I sat in the sun during dinner to keep physical distance. After dinner and dessert, we realized Gibbs hadn't had his dinner and I took him next door to our house to feed him. I suddenly realized, upon getting out of my chair and moving around a bit, that the sun had done a number on me.

I was rubber kneed and dehydrated and felt hot all over. I had planned to return to the party after feeding Gibbs, but I couldn't. I felt too lousy and needed to cool off, drink water, and rest. I tried to sleep, but the exposure to the sun had produced an adrenaline surge and I had to wait until that slowed down.

It took about three hours of sitting in the cool living room and drinking water and then going to bed and working a crossword puzzle with a window open and a fan running, but eventually my system got back into balance and fell into a comfortable sleep, interrupted only by trips to the kitchen to drink more water and some trips to the bathroom.

Stu says in a limerick, Happy Birthday, Ringo Starr!

His name is the formal of Rick.
Had a hard time at first, was so sick.
Met his mates in Liverpool,
Uses sticks for his tool.
And his song of a “Sub” is a kick.

Richard Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr turns 80 today.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/05/20: ZOOM and Poetry, Hill Street Bridge, *Monk* Season 2 BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Every two weeks, on Sunday, I get to join Bill, Diane, Colette, Val, and Bridgit on Zoom for an afternoon of conversation and reflection. Today, Colette and Val were occupied with other things. Bill, Diane, Bridgit, and I, however had a splendid visit. To my particular delight, at one point the conversation turned toward poetry and I confessed that as much as I love poetry, it's difficult for me to read poetry by myself. I do much better in a social setting.

I used to love teaching poetry in my LCC courses. It wasn't just the discussions, but it was the feeling I had of  gathering with a bunch of other people around the poems -- almost like a campfire -- and experiencing them together. I have enjoyed going to poetry readings for the same reason and I've deeply enjoyed that when Bill performs his songs on Tuesday nights online, that he selects a favorite poet and reads a handful of that poet's works. When Rita and I team taught English composition and Philosophy, we introduced out students to a lot of poetry, largely through PBS programs we played on the VCR, hosted by Bill Moyers. The poems were powerful, but, for me, even more powerful was the collective experience of being with 15-25 other people all listening to these poems together.

We talked for a while about Wallace Stevens, a favorite of mine; Bridgit and I have had a long running shared love of his poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" and I experienced a rush of ecstasy when Bridgit recited Stevens' line, "Even the bawds of euphony", an exotic and musical line that comes from Stevens' 10th way of looking at a blackbird:


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

Me: Ahhhh! Wow!

2. After about two and half hours or so on ZOOM, I put my new pedometer around my neck, strapped on my back pack, and strolled to Yoke's to pick up a few things. Maybe I've mentioned this before, but I'll do it again. I just can't quite get used to how sweet it smells to cross the Hill Street bridge over the CdA River. Growing up, I crossed that bridge regularly, whether I was walking to the YMCA or to the junior high. Nothing grew along the gray river's banks and the river smelled metallic, sometimes with a whiff of sewage. It was dead, polluted, slate colored, stinky. Now the river is recovering. The water is clear. Trees and other foliage thrive near the bridge and smell alive and sweet. It's a pleasure. It's one, for many years, I never dreamed I'd experience back when mining and smelting thrived in the Silver Valley.

3. Debbie had been outside knitting. I returned from Yoke's, put the groceries away, and fixed myself a bowl of leftover pasta, sauteed mushrooms, butter, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Debbie came into the living room and we decided to watch Monk. We are into the second season now. Randy Newman  sings, "It's a Jungle Out There" as the Monk theme song. At some point, I mixed myself a dirty martini with three almond stuffed green olives. We watched two episodes. Monk solved one homicide at Trudy's* high school alma mater and another in San Macros, Mexico. To do so, Monk survives being bullied, about three attempts to kill him, dehydration, and Sharona passing out after partying with college kids.

*Trudy is Monk's deceased wife.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

It's strange how our country now stands
States vary from requests to demands.
Wear your mask, keep your distance,
Is suggested or insistence.
But all agree with your Mom, “wash your hands!”

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/04/20: Meningitis and COVID-19, Dinner on the Deck, Gibbs and Fireworks BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I spent much of the morning in the Vizio room. Until Gibbs gets a little older, we are keeping the bedroom, Vizio room, and bathroom doors closed. For now, we want Gibbs to spend his time in the living room and kitchen only, especially as he continues to learn that the outdoors is the place to do his business.

As I was reading, I thought a lot about when I contracted bacterial meningitis in early November of 1999 and its long term effects on my mental and physical health. As you probably know, "morbidity" is the word used when talking about the condition of being diseased. Ever since November, 1999, I have been living in state of morbidity. For at least a year, but maybe longer, after being hospitalized and released, I was prone to bouts of fatigue. For at least ten years, I suffered bouts of depression accompanied by mood swings and more fatigue. On at least one occasion, the weight of depression kept me home from work for days and I could hardly move, could hardly get out of bed.  I also live with chronic kidney disease which was discovered after I contracted meningitis and might be a result of my illness.

My morbidity was on my mind this morning because I read an article online in The Atlantic this morning entitled "COVID-19 Can Last For Several Months". The article told the story of people who are called "long haulers", people who didn't die from COVID-19, but who didn't (and haven't) recovered from the disease. The article affected me in two ways: first, it reinforced the fact that this is a novel disease and we really don't know much about it yet -- and we can't know what its long term effects are going to be nor do we know whether, once in a person, it might reassert itself at a later date after patients think they have recovered and are clear of its impact; second, I thought more about the morbidity of COVID-19. It's apparent from this article and its reporting about the number of long haulers suffering from COVID-19 for months, that surviving the disease doesn't mean that soon it will go away. Anyone, no matter their age, no matter their current state of health, runs some risk of long term morbidity and incapacitation, should they contract this virus.

If this article sounds interesting to you, it's here.

Often, when people post links to articles like this one, others accuse them of fear-mongering.

I hope, if you are reading this, that you'll give me the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not interested in scaring anyone. I'm trying to learn what's going on. I found this article informative and appreciate how it enlarged my understanding of the many different ways this virus affects those who contract it.

2. Debbie and I liked the fact that the weather on this 4th of July was mild and that we could sit out on the deck and enjoy the homemade tortilla chips Debbie made and the dip them into Debbie's homemade hummus and guacamole. For our main course, we repeated our enjoyment of a meal we ate a few days ago: pasta covered with Debbie's arugula pesto.

3. Every year we've been together, Debbie and I have lived with animals. Every year we dread the celebration of Independence Day with fireworks. We've had animals who were shaken by the noise and others who endured the racket pretty well.

Our question: how will Gibbs respond?

Some of our neighbors set off some pre-4th of July fireworks the last couple of nights.

Gibbs seemed fine.

But, tonight, we expected fireworks to be set off from all directions of the compass and we knew that a display was going to be given over at the Silver Mountain resort.

As the sun dipped out of sight, the cracking, booming, and popping of fireworks got going. Some were very close to us, seemingly bursting right over Christy and Everett's house. Others were farther away and the resort fireworks were fairly close.

For the most part, Gibbs was unfazed by the whistling, hissing, buzzing, and booming sounds of freedom nor by the rotten egg sulfurous odors of independence.

Once or twice, some of the noise startled him, but we are relieved that he didn't quiver, run madly around the house, try to escape, cry, or hide somewhere.

He mostly slept, woke up and stretched, look quizzically about, and got through the evening unscarred.

On July 5, 1810, P. T. Barnum was born. Stu commemorates his birthday with this limerick:

I guess there’s a show starring fleas.
But prefer elephants and trapeze.
With three rings and a tent,
That’s entertainment.
He designed it to thrill and to please.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/03/20: New Pedometer, Mediterranean Salad, Late Night Talking BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. My new pedometer arrived today. It's a simple device that I will use to keep track of steps, time, and miles. That's about all it measures and it's all I want. Having a device to measure steps and so on is motivating for me. I guess I just like to know what I've done and it makes it easier for me to determine numbers I'd like to achieve. I tested my pedometer up Jacobs Gulch today, parking at the medical center and then walking to the high school and heading behind it before returning to the car. I walked just over a mile in the growing shade and the increasingly cooler air. I enjoyed it.

2. Debbie made an awesome Mediterranean wheat berry salad. I want to read the recipe she used and understand better what ingredients made it taste so delicious. I loved the texture of the wheat berries -- I know that -- and I really enjoyed the salad's acidity, thanks to the red wine vinegar. But there's more and I want to match my pleasure to the ingredients. She also made a creamy, tasty bowl of hummus and it complimented the salad perfectly.

3. Debbie and I watched about 45 minutes of  news programming tonight and then, instead of watching more television, we yakked for a couple of hours or so about all sorts of things ranging from current events and history to family news and how Gibbs is doing. We are really happy that, so far, Gibbs has no reaction to the noise of independence cracking and popping all around us in the evening and that, again, so far, he is very content to have come into our life.

Stu wrote a limerick in celebration of Independence Day:

Give a cheer to the red, white and blue.
With fireworks and sparklers on cue.
Enjoy burgers and franks,
And give history much thanks.
It gave freedom to do what you do.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/02/20: Great Guys at Yoke's!, Mr. Monk Flies, *Picket Fences* BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I had the same uplifting experience twice today in the Yoke's parking lot, once as I went in the store and once as I left.

When I go to Yoke's, because wearing a face covering is uncommon in Kellogg and because I know, from reading comments on social media, that a number of my fellow Kellogg citizens stridently oppose mask wearing, I'm mildly on guard as I go in the store covered up.

I do my best to move quickly through the store, carry myself humbly, avoid eye contact, hope I don't get confronted about covering my mouth and nose, and get out -- in fact, I admit that I try to make myself invisible -- which is impossible -- but I can move about as inconspicuously as possible.

So far, I'm happy to say, I haven't experienced any confrontations. I don't think anyone has glared at me or given me a dirty look. I'm very grateful. So far, I'd say, the vibe in the store has been something like don't bug me and I won't bug you.

Let me add another detail. I haven't had a haircut since February. I have my own rational, non-fear based reasons for not going to get a haircut. I'll leave it at that.

So, today, to cover my unruly mop of white hair, I wore the cap Don Knott made and then gave to me at the Lounge after Mom's Celebration of Life.

It's a baseball cap with a Heidelberg beer logo on it. It pays homage to Dad's longtime devotion to Heidelberg beer -- and, if I remember correctly, to Don's dad, too.

As I was about to walk into the store, a young guy I don't know, coming out of Yoke's, approached me.

I admit it.

I thought here it comes.

He's going to call me a sheep or explain why wearing a mask is giving up my liberty.  I was preparing, from my side of things, to keep things cool, not get into a conflict.

But, no!

He wasn't confronting me.

He said, "Hey! Great cap! My stepdad loved Heidelberg beer. It's all he'd drink!"

He couldn't see my wide smile, although he must have seen the joy in my eyes.

I said, "My dad, too! He loved Heidelberg beer. Too bad we can't buy it any more."

He agreed, we talked a little more, each said, "Have a good one!", and I bounded into Yoke's.

When I carted my groceries back to the Sube, a young guy was packing big coolers in the back of his rig with ice in the parking spot next to mine.

My mouth and nose were still covered.

"Hey, man! Great cap! My dad loved Heidelberg beer! It's all he drank!"

I removed my mask as a smile covered my face.

"Mine, too! It's a shame we can't buy it any more!"

"Sure is! Hey! Have a great weekend!"

"You, too! See ya round!"

Great guys at Yoke's.

2. After watching an hour of news programming, Debbie and I watched, from the first season of Monk, the episode entitled, "Mr. Monk and the Airplane". This episode featured three terrific guest actors: Garry Marshall was brilliant as the gabby extension cord salesman, Warren Beach, who sat next to Mr. Monk on the flight; Brooke Adams, a favorite of mine (Tell Me A Riddle), played the harried flight attendant who has to deal with Mr. Monk's anxieties and eccentricities; and, Tony Shalhoub's cast mate from the show Wings, Tim Daly, appeared as himself and was featured in a subplot with Sharona. We had great time watching it.

3. Seeing Tim Daly made me curious whether three television programs I knew about from the 1990s were available in any of our SmartTV apps. I didn't watch any of these programs very often, but friends and family did. So I looked into Wings, Northern Exposure, and Picket Fences.

We decided to purchase the first season of Picket Fences and we watched the show's pilot.

I loved it.

The pilot featured several intertwined plots that moved effortlessly between gravely serious matters, comic absurdity, and, I think, passages of fantasy. It also set in motion conflicts that I anticipate will be delved into more fully as the first season unfolds.

It was past midnight when this episode ended, but I was wound up, excited by those parts of Picket Fences that, to me, were ingenious.

So, Debbie went to bed and I stayed up. I watched the last half of an episode of Match Game '74  featuring host Gene Rayburn and panelists Bobby Van, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Elaine Joyce, Richard Dawson, and Betty White. This episode must have been taped early in the day. None of the panelists seemed too intoxicated yet.

I wasn't quite ready to hit the sack yet and so I spent an hour or so looking at movie trailers from mainstream movies made in the 1970s: The Goodbye Girl, Cinderella Liberty, A Touch of Class and maybe one or two others and it brought back some fun memories of going to see movies at the Garland in Spokane and of watching movies of the week on network television. Finally, about 2 a.m., I settled down and retired.

As the temperatures start to increase a bit, here's a limerick by Stu:

To jump into water to cool.
Is a great heat relief as a rule.
But we all have a preference,
So, to use for a reference.
Do you choose ocean, or lake or a pool?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 07/01/20: Shopping Spree, Debbie in the Kitchen, Willie Nelson on *Monk* BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I've had some things in mind to buy to enhance my life of puzzling, hiking, biking, and reading and to make life around the house a little more comfortable (handkerchiefs, slippers, T-shirts, etc.). So, I did some online shopping today and within the week I'll have a couple new books of word puzzles, a map of and a map history of London, a handful of poetry collections, a bike tire pump and new lock, a pedometer, new hiking shoes, and some personal items. I rarely go on a shopping spree so, to me, it's a big deal when I buy myself a few things. 

2. Debbie reconstituted the curry and rice I made Tuesday into a curry stew by adding leftover rice, sweet potatoes, and some chicken stock to the sauce I made. She also opened up a can of salmon and made the best canned fish salad I've ever tasted.

3. After we watched some news programming this evening, Debbie and I watched what we both thought was a brilliant episode of Monk. It featured Willie Nelson playing himself and being accused of the murder of his manager. I loved hearing Willie Nelson perform. Monk's work was impeccable. After Monk solved the case, the episode ended with a scene that I didn't see coming and that moved me to tears.

After Monk concluded, Debbie had a lot on her mind about making music and her hopes and dreams in that part of her life as well as some other non-musical things. We talked. Before we knew it, it was the next day by the time we wrapped things up and hit the sack. Being retired and deciding to lie low and stay at home makes it easier to stay up late because there is nothing we have to do in the morning to keep us from getting the eight hours of sleep we both enjoy and seem to need.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

Lilies and Daisies and Roses.
Add some Iris and Mums I supposes.
Plant a shrub here or there,
Marigolds if you dare.
Then water them all with your hoses.