Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/17: Working Outside, Dog Break Out, Family Gatherings

1. Today Shawn and Justice, his helper, put the first coat of varnish on the floor. Below I've posted pictures of what the floors looked like before the varnish.)  The Deke and Maggie and Charly and I had to leave the house and we moved to Carol and Paul's for a few days. It was a mild November day and I took advantage of being banished and of having a dumpster in the driveway and cleared the exterior of our house and the front and back yards of all kinds of things: window boxes, planters, a corroding metal table, a clothesline, a piece of wooden furniture on the deck (requiring me to use Shawn's sledgehammer), old plastic chairs, and other things.

2. The Deke drove the dogs over to Carol and Paul's and immediately had to deal with two dogs escaping. The Deke lured Maggie back with food. But, hmmm, Archie was a different story. Archie is an athletic Catahoula (state dog of Louisiana, by the way). Carol and Paul are looking after him for a couple of months or so for a friend. Archie got out and wandered (ran) about a quarter of a mile (maybe) over to Yoke's grocery store and the Deke couldn't corral him until -- well, until Archie trotted into the store and got into a checkout line. There, the Deke leashed him and brought him back. I missed out on all of this because I was sledgehammering a wooden two seated pink outdoor deck chair. I walked to Carol and Paul's when I finished my tasks, sore, tired, but satisfied with a good day's work and happy that no dogs were run over by a car or anything.

3. With all dogs contained, the Deke thawed and warmed up one of those delicious Costco chicken pot pies and Christy and Everett came over over for dinner while all the Roberts were in Moscow for Senior Day at the Vandals' game. We had a great time together and an hour or so after they left to go watch the Zags defeat the Utah State Aggies, Zoe, Cosette, Molly, Travis, Paul, and Carol all piled into the house with grocery bags full of chips and dips and soda pop and other things and they tore into them for a late dinner of their own. It was Paul's birthday, and soon he opened some gifts. By the time he finished, I dragged my tired bones to bed to sleep off a full day of work, dog drama, and family conviviality.

Here are the pictures I took before Shawn and Justice began varnishing the floors:

The New Opening into the Kitchen

The Living Room and Dumpster in the Driveway

The Unearthed Kitchen Wood Floor

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/17: Temporarily Out of the House, Moving Day, Basement Social Hour(s)

1. It turned out that the discovery of the wood floors complicated things in our lives a bit: while Shawn varnishes the wood floors in the living room and kitchen, we can't be in our house. I assumed Carol and Paul didn't have room for us nor did I think Christy and Everett would. But, then, Carol reached me and explained how it could work for the Deke and me and the corgis to stay at their house. We accepted her offer and, Saturday morning, we will be moving in with the Roberts family until Tuesday.

2. The couches and cabinets that came out of our house need to be transported to Paul and Carol's house.  Monday is a varnishing day, but there is also a shipment of materials coming to the house and we need the garage cleared as much as possible. Since a couple of Shawn's guys won't be working on the interior of the house, we hired them to use Everett's truck and move these things for us. This seems like a small thing, but, like many small things in life, it's awesome.

3. Our basement is a little chilly, but late this afternoon and on into the early evening, it became a social gathering spot. When Shawn wrapped up his work, he broke out a bottle of Well's Banana Bread Ale, brewed in England, and the Deke, Shawn, and I split it. Drinking this beer awakened in me a forty-two year old love of how beers are brewed in England and, I suddenly realized that I thought this beer would pair really well with the rye whiskey I bought over the weekend at Stein Distillery in Joseph. So, I broke out the whiskey, we all had a nip or two, and I was right. Christy came over later and she and the Deke and I yakked in the basement, enjoyed another couple slugs of rye.

When Christy left, the Deke and I were kind of lost. Our kitchen and living room are empty. We can't cook anything. We could eat a few crackers! Luckily, we weren't feeling hungry. We each had a bowl of awesome bacon mushroom soup at Radio Brewing early in the afternoon and spit an order of parmesan-garlic fries. So, we went to bed and to sleep kind of early. I liked that.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/17: Demolition Day, Underneath the Layers of Glue, Out on the Town

1.  Not only did demolition in our house begin today, but Shawn and the three guys who work for him removed all the cabinets and appliances out of our kitchen and built the frame around and the beam above the new much wider opening between our living room and kitchen. It really opens things up in our little house.

2. Not only did they get the opening well on its way, but once the guys removed the linoleum  off the kitchen floor and once they scraped the years and years of glue underneath the flooring, they discovered that what we had hoped was true was indeed the case: our kitchen has a hardwood floor. It's going to be a big job to get all that black glue gunk off the floor, but Blaine made progress today and the Deke and I are very happy that there will be effortless continuity between our living room floor and the kitchen.

We've also decided to have less done in our kitchen by having it be L-shaped rather than U-shaped. We want to have as much unfilled space in the house as possible and by not putting any counters against the south wall of the kitchen, we will have opened things up in the house even more.

3.  The Deke and I debriefed for about forty-five minutes at the Hill Street Depot and then Christy and Everett joined us for some dinner. We yakked and yakked about a bunch of stuff and then headed over to Best Shots for a nightcap. After dinner and drinks, Christy and Everett came over to the house to look at all that Shawn and his boys accomplished today and shared our happiness with how things are going after one day.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/17: Measurements, Yakkin' with Darrell, Demolition Prep

1. Shawn came over this morning to do some detailed measuring of our kitchen and living room and we talked more about the upcoming project. The Deke fixed us a hearty potato and egg breakfast. Thursday begins the demolition.

2. After some project shopping, the Deke and I decided to talk things over at Daft Badger. Darrell Dlouhy, a co-founder and the obligated one at Daft Badger, was in the house and joined the Deke and me for a lively conversation about construction, cooking, beer, and host of other topics. Darrell and I go back forty-five years to our days as students at NIC and, as we sat there today, I couldn't help but think of all the experiences we had singing in the NIC choir, all the intersections that have taken place over the years between our lives, the great changes both of us have experienced since 1972, and all the mutual friends and acquaintances we've had and, in some cases, still have.  My two short pours of Scotchy Scotch Scotch Scotch Ale enhanced our time with Darrell. Its malty sweetness and scotch whiskey notes were in harmony with our table talk and were perfectly warming on what turned out to be a blustery and chilly November day. The Deke loved her beer, too:  Daft Badger's Blood Orange IPA.

3. Back home, the Deke and I enjoyed some delicious leftovers and moved most of  our kitchen to the basement and our living room into the front bedroom in preparation for Thursday's sledge hammers and crowbars.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/17: Organizing, Afternoon Dinner, Sweet Heat Snack

1. I've kept all the documents related to Mom's estate in a plastic basket of Mom's. I spent a couple of hours organizing that basket today. Instead of loose papers piled in the basket, now almost everything is filed in a folder. I will return to the basket on Wednesday and dig down under the file folders to retrieve a few more loose papers and file those.

2. Early this afternoon, the Deke and I decided to have dinner early in the afternoon. The Deke requested black beans and rice. I dug a familiar recipe from Pinterest and got out our Dutch oven and cooked up the beans. I used a little too much vinegar -- I had to sub apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar and red wine the recipe called for -- but I liked the stronger vinegar taste and I always like the way the acid in this dish is balanced by the brown sugar and it's all made especially delicious by my generous splashes of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce.

Eating this meal transported me back to evenings in our apartment home in Greenbelt. This dish really smells good and one of the nice things about living in a small house, much like when we lived in a small apartment, is the way the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, brown sugar, vinegar, and pepper sauce blanket us with aromatic pleasures.

3.  I watched a few episodes of Chopped: After Hours this evening and suddenly wondered if I might combine sweet with heat and make the Deke and me a tasty snack. So, I got out a bunch of sesame rice crackers, put some cream cheese on each one, then topped each cracker with Mom's rhubarb strawberry jam from 2014 and a touch of Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste. The chefs on Chopped are always working to combine contrasting sensations and textures. I thought the crunchy cracker contrasted nicely with the cream cheese and that the jam and the chili paste also contrasted nicely with each other.  It worked. Each bite was crisp, creamy, sweet, and hot, giving the Deke and me pleasure and a bit of a surprise. The hotness of the chili paste snuck up on us so that what seemed like a sweet treat finished with some heat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/17: Busy in CdA, Hannah at the Courthouse, Rip and Tear Soon

1. I drove to CdA this morning for more money talk. We got some things decided and I left with a better understanding of several different things.  On the way to CdA, my Check Engine light flashed on and I decided to have the codes read right away following my money appointment. After a quick search online while sitting in a parking lot, I went out to Reliable Auto and Truck in Hayden because I'm always looking for an independent repair shop and this one specializes in Subes.

The man working the front of the shop read and cleared the codes and the results were familiar to me and we talked about the tune up I'd had done just before leaving Greenbelt. He got under the hood and checked things out and he was impressed with the work Jens did in Greenbelt.  We decided to see if the light comes on again. If it does, I'll return. I've often wondered if I have a quirk in the Sube that turns on the Check Engine light kind of randomly and he wondered the same.  I've read of other people having this happen. So we'll see. He didn't charge me for reading and clearing the codes or digging around in my engine and I enjoyed our conversation a lot. I'll keep having my oil changed in Kellogg, but for stuff Silver Valley Tires can't do, I'll return to Reliable Auto and Truck.

2. I called the Shoshone County Motor Vehicle Department around 1:00 to make sure I had everything I needed to register the Sube in Idaho.  The sparkling and friendly voice over the phone informed me that she could do my VIN inspection on the spot. (I thought I'd have to go to the police station.)  This was great news. I could have everything taken care of in one stop at the courthouse. So, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and it turned out that that sparkling and friendly voice belonged to Hannah Etherton and that for the umphteenth time in my life I was having a most positive interaction with a member of the Etherton family. Everything was in order with the title and the VIN and, in a short amount of time, I was the proud owner of Idaho license plates with an Idaho title forthcoming.  (Did you read that Rich? I'll make sure I have your address so I can send you MD plates to add to your collection!)

3. The day got busier. The Deke and I accepted an invitation to see the contractor we are working with in his home so we could see the impressive work he's done on his house, talk more about our remodel, and agree to the terms of a contract. Ripping and tearing starts Thursday and we are the only job he and his crew will be working on, so things should move at a pretty good pace over the course of the next few weeks.

After we were at Shawn's, the Deke and I had some debriefing to do, so, after we dropped in to say hello to Christy at the library, we strolled around the corner and grabbed a stool at the thinking table at Radio Brewing for a couple short pours and some serious discussion, and we got in some good yakkin' with Paige.

We'd had a light lunch at the Broken Wheel and the guy who works there warmed up to us after a while.  It was fun drawing him out a bit. We returned home to the very delicious soup the Deke made from the remains of last night's chicken dinner, augmented with cheese tortellinis. It was warming, relaxing, and deeply satisfying. After a day of getting so much done, I hit the hay early.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/17: Heading Home, Back Home, Family Dinner

1. After a solid breakfast at the buffet, Mike, Terry, Ed, Jake, and I settled up our hotel bills and all hit the road, bringing a fun time together to an end. Ed and I piled into Jake's rig and we were off to Idaho with quick stop at Country Mercantile to gawk at the candy, try some samples, and buy some to bring home. I bought the Deke and me a few peanut clusters.

2. Back home in Kellogg, everything was in good order. The Deke had left to knit with the Sunday group at Radio Brewing and I got a few chores around the house done in preparation for Sunday Family Dinner.

3. The Deke cooked up chicken thighs in a delicious sauce and served rice, polenta, and a chopped salad to go along with it. Our conversation around the table was lively and fun. Among other things, we divided responsibilities for Thanksgiving dinner, so now we all know our assignments as to what to bring to Carol and Paul's to enhance our meal. We have an excellent dinner planned, a fine combination of traditional dishes and some new and different offerings.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/17: Breakfast Buffet, Distillery and Brewery Run, Steak Dinner

1. Mike, Ed, Terry, and I got off to a solid start this morning at the breakfast buffet with a full breakfast and some good yakking and laughing about all we had done the night before.

2. Terry and I jumped into his pickup and headed into the Willowa mountain country for a gorgeous drive to Joseph and Enterprise.  We had miles and miles of top notch conversation about all kinds of things, political and familial, including the situations we each faced with our now deceased mothers as they grew older and what is happening with Terry's over ninety year old mother-in-law.

At Joseph, we visited the Stein Distillery, a maker of fine whiskey, vodka, and cordials. I don't know the woman's name who hosted us and served us half ounce samples, but she was delightful and knowledgeable and generous. Terry and I loved Stein's moonshine, bourbon, rye whiskey, and vodka and I learned more about each. Both of us bought a bottle of 5 year aged rye whiskey and left warmed by both the spirits we consumed and the warmth of our host.

Next stop? Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub in Enterprise. The pub is in a handsome older house, slightly similar to the High Street Pub in Eugene. I was a little bit fired up to see they had a strong ale and enjoyed my 9 oz pour a lot. I ordered chicken skewers and a cup of clam chowder, a perfect light lunch, and finished with a 9 oz pour of light and delicious golden ale, covering both ends of the beer strength spectrum.

3. Back at the casino, Ed, Mike, Terry, Jake, and I met at the Wildhorse's Plateau Steakhouse. I enjoyed a superb whiskey and ginger ale cocktail before diving into a juicy pepper-crusted Pendleton Whiskey Steak with rice pilaf and baby carrots. We had a great time yakkin about all kinds of stuff and our meal was deeply satisfying.

This great meal finished my night. I watched a little college football on television and, before long, fell into a relaxed and deep sleep.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/17: Off to Pendleton, Since 2001, Solid Yakkin'

1. I popped out of bed around five a.m. to pack my bag and prepare for a weekend trip to Pendleton, OR. I'd had a blissful night's sleep thanks to the comfort of our brand new firm queen bed and the fresh sheets and blankets the Deke made it with. I strolled down Cameron Avenue to Sam's and enjoyed a cup of coffee with Ed, Jerry, Buff, Scott, and Aaron and soon Ed and I piled into his pickup, swung by our house to pick up my bags, and we headed to his house in Kingston where Jake picked us up and we began our drive to Pendleton.

2. Back in November of 2001, right after Thanksgiving, a bunch of us guys from the Kellogg High School Class of 1972 traveled to Portland for a weekend together of just plain playing. In 2005, we gave it a try in Lincoln City, OR and for a couple or three years we got together in Coeur d'Alene. For the last five years or so, we've congregated at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton and today Jake, Ed, Terry, Mike, and I all arrived soon after noon and our weekend got underway. We started at the lobby bar and enjoyed a couple of beers, fanned out, and each did our thing.

3. Around 3:30 or so, Mike, Ed, and I got together in Ed's room for a drink and some serious yakkin' and, after I went to my room and watched some basketball, I joined Jake and Terry back at the bar to watch the Zags play. It turned out I didn't pay much attention to the game because we got into more serious yakkin' with a couple of truck drivers, one seated down by Jake and another seated by me. The guy next to me was in his mid-thirties, lived in rural Eastern Oregon, and was waiting for his dad to come to the Wild Horse.  He and Jake and I yakked about the world today, the Sunshine Mine Fire, all the jobs this guy has done over the years, and, before long, Jake returned to the card table and Josh's dad showed up and I met him, yakked a bit, and decided it was time to go to bed.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/17: Money, Passed the Test, Smoked Meat

1.  I've had some financial questions nagging at me over the last week and so I made an appointment to see a financial advisor at the bank.  The Deke and I had a great conversation with the advisor we met with and I have a follow up appointment scheduled for Monday and I am feeling much more relaxed about things.

2. I passed the test. I now have an Idaho driver's license. Ditto the Deke. I couldn't register the Sube  today, but I'll do it next week. We are chipping away. We are getting things done.

3. After the meeting at the bank and the grueling test to secure our licenses at the Sheriff's Office, the Deke and I relaxed over a beer and a sandwich at The Hill Street Depot. We got in some good yakkin' with Liz, our server, and I really enjoyed my Hawaiian smoked pulled pork sandwich primarily because I love the Depot's smoked meats.

One more great thing happened today. The Furniture Exchange delivered our new queen bed and frame to our house and set it up. The Deke and I agreed that the firmness of this bed and the comfort of the bedding we purchased made our bed a source of comfort.