Saturday, September 26, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/20: Experimenting, Gratitude, Puzzles BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: This is my 5100th post over here at kelloggbloggin.

1. I bought a whole chicken the other day at Yoke's, thinking I'd like to experiment with a different braise. Today, I cooked some onion, ginger, and garlic in butter and then added a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of curry powder, and a handful of cilantro to the pot and lowered the seared whole chicken into this braise and slow cooked it for a couple of hours or so. 

I decided, once I'd cut the chicken meat into pieces and put it all in a glass container, that I'd use the braise as a marinate. I poured the braise over the chicken pieces, sealed it, and put it in the refrigerator. 

On Saturday, my plan is to make my first creamy Indian curry sauce, put the marinated chicken pieces in the sauce, and see how it tastes served over rice. I'm not sure what to expect, but at the very least, this experiment means I'm trying new things.

2. Once again, rather than watch Billy Collins live, I watched his broadcast in the early evening on the
Vizio. I poured myself a cup of hot chocolate and rum and enjoyed Sonny Rollins, a surprise visit by the Rolling Stones, and especially enjoyed Billy Collins' poems expressing gratitude -- I don't have the titles handy, but one was about returning home, another about listening to Sonny Rollins while walking in Manhattan, and another about the asparagus stalks painted on a friend's kitchen wall. 

3. While waiting for chicken to braise and to help me wind down before going to sleep, I've sure been enjoying solving acrostic puzzles. It might be wise for me to take a break, though, and spend some time outdoors instead of doing puzzles!

A limerick by Stu: 


Imagine that you’re back in school. 
With classes online as a rule. 
You’d probably miss all your friends, 
As the quarantine never ends! 
For kids, 2020’s been cruel.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/20: "Central Park" Hit Me, Flu Shot, Potato Soup BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. Recently, rather than listening to the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast live, I've been putting it on the Vizio some time between 5:30 and 7. 

Today, Billy Collins played Paul Desmond to open the broadcast, and, for me, rather than his playing sounding like a dry martini, it sounded like a hot cup of Ghirardelli chocolate and cocoa spiked with Meyer's dark rum. That's what I fixed for myself to enjoy during the broadcast and it was a delicious accompaniment to the jazz and poetry. 

Billy Collins read a selection of his own poem's today. 

One hit me. 

It's been echoing in my head ever since he read it and I have it here at home to reread. 

It's called, "Central Park". In the poem, we learn that originally the carousel at Central Park was powered by a blind mule who was "strapped to the oar of a wheel in an earthen/room directly below the merry turning of the carousel." 

The image of the blind mule underground spending its days walking in a circle to make a merry go round function haunts me, even as I write this blog post, and took me back to the same feeling of pity and horror I experienced when I read in Emile Zola's novel, Germinal about horses, called "pit ponies", employed to pull train cars of coal and loads of mining equipment. Some of these horses pulled loads in and out of the coal pits. Others pulled loads from one area in the pit to another, and, like the carousel mule, never saw the light of day while employed. 

It's been over ten years since I read Germinal. I hardly remember the plot.

I'll never forget the horses, though, nor the blind mule powering the Central Park carousel.

2.  Earlier in the day, I popped over to Yoke's for a flu shot. After she administered the vaccine, the pharmacist, Laurie, took time to ask me about my status on the kidney transplant list. Her concern moved me and took me back to when Mom was having trouble filling her pill box correctly and how Laurie and Sandy in the Yoke's pharmacy filled Mom's pill box for her, always with good cheer and concern for how she was doing, and, if needed, delivered the box to Mom at home.

I get offers in the mail from the prescription insurance company I'm enrolled with urging me to transfer my prescription to their company, receiving my pills by mail, and, evidently, saving money.

No way. In addition to their careful attention to helping Mom, I've had other experiences at the Yoke's pharmacy when the people working there have gone the extra distance to resolve a problem and have provided me with premium service. If I'm paying extra for their dedication to my well being, so be it.

3. I have some potatoes in the kitchen that are starting to get old. In order to use most of them, and, thanks to the weather being cooler, I decided to cook up a simple potato soup.

As I was putting together the potatoes, onion, celery, flour, chicken broth, and flour to get this soup going, I thought about what a neutral soup potato soup is. It's a soup without much flavor of its own and so, I thought, is a good soup to experiment with. I didn't go crazy, but, because it's among my favorite seasonings, I added cumin to my soup and, then, thinking a little heat would be fun, I added red pepper flakes. 

I enjoyed the result a lot and it got me thinking about how I might play around with other spices I have in my collection when I make potato soup again -- especially the Mediterranean spices I bought several months ago from Penzeys. 


Here's a limerick by Stu: 


Do you ever just turn off the news? 
Or radio folks with their views? 
The pap they disburse, 
Just keeps getting worse and worse. 
Designed to confound and confuse.
 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/20: Happy Anniversary, Acorn Squash, Frozen BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. It turns out that we who love martinis have another reason to be grateful for this simple, elegant drink -- in addition to how drinking a dry martini is like sipping Paul Desmond playing the alto sax.  Six months ago, on March 22nd, Billy Collins' 79th birthday, under the influence of martinis, Billy Collins gave in and agreed to try out his wife Suzannah's recommendation that he read poetry live on Facebook.

So, Billy Collins' first appearance was on March 23rd and today marked the six month anniversary of what is now known as the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast.

 I started tuning into this broadcast around July 20. Since then Billy Collins has introduced me to new poets and many poems of his that I'd never read; he's helped significantly expand my experience with jazz, not only with the music he plays, but with his commentary, inspiring me to dig deeper into the history of jazz through reading and watching programs on my television; he's also broadened and deepened my appreciation and knowledge of poets/poetry I was already familiar with and he's inspired me to listen to podcasts and some streaming programming online, further enhancing my enjoyment of poetry.

When I retired from teaching, I wanted to reintroduce myself to poetry and stories and plays, see if I could experience them as works to be enjoyed, not so much as works to be taught, that is, as sources for student essays and exams or as content on a course syllabus.

I've succeeded, on my own, in experiencing literature this way. In addition, Billy Collins' poetry broadcasts help me each day to experience poems as source of love and enjoyment unattached to my former work as a community college instructor. 

By the way, Bill Davie has had the same impact on me. He takes a poetry break during each of his Tree House Concerts and has helped expand my world of poems significantly -- and, reminded me of my love of some longtime favorites. Bill Davie's love of poetry and Billy Collins' love of poetry is a good contagion! 

2.  I found an acorn squash that has come on in the back corner of the yard. It's about the size of a softball. It's green, without variegation. I consulted with Debbie. We agree. It needs more vine time.

3. Since I know pasta dishes like lasagna can be frozen and reheated, I had no hesitation about freezing the helping or two of buffalo chicken pasta that remained from Sunday's family dinner.

I also had two quarts of the tabouli style rice salad left over. I decided I'd put one quart of it in the freezer and find out if such a salad freezes well. 

I've never seen the movie Frozen


A limerick by Stu: 


Some people like fish two and red.  
Others prefer folks in “Whoville” instead. 
You may dig talking “Cats”, 
That visit your house wearing “Hats”. 
His stories were great before bed. 

Dr. Seuss passed away on this date in 1991

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/20: Medicine Ball? Jazz and Poetry Broadcast, The Joy of Bill Davie BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I harvested a third squash from the back corner of our yard. Yesterday, I said these hubbards(?) were about the size of a medicine ball.

Upon further review and with, I guess, a cooler mind, I now confess to all of you that I exaggerated.

My assessment today is that each squash is about the size of a rugby ball.

Who knows what they will look like tomorrow?

2. I downloaded Amazon's internet browser on my Vizio and watched two sessions of Billy Collins' poetry broadcast today. In the second session, I loved hearing Billy Collins talk about and read excerpts from the book Meet Me at Jim & Andy's: Jazz Musicians and Their World. He focused on passages about alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, who once remarked that he tried to make his horn sound like a dry martini. 

I also enjoyed Billy Collins' reading and short discussion of Richard Wilbur's poem, "Barred Owl" and how, on some AP literature exam, Wilbur's poem was placed side by side with Billy Collins' poem, "The History Teacher". Students writing the exam were instructed to compare/contrast the two poems. I'll just say that both poems explore the way adults often try to cushion children from the things in the world that are frightening, like the sound of an owl or, in Billy Collins' poem, the harsh realities of history. 

If you'd like to read either or both poems, both are easy to find via your internet search engine.

3. Life is unfair in any number of ways. I find it unfair that a guitar player as skilled and fun to listen to as Bill Davie is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis. The insults of MS come and go in Bill's life, often exacerbated by warmer weather. Lately, he's had discomfort in his left arm and hand and has been unsure of just how much his pain would affect his guitar playing during his weekly Tuesday evening Tree House Concerts, live on Facebook and easy to find archived on YouTube.

Somehow, so far, he has always performed in these concerts. Two things: the playing sometimes helps the pain and he gives himself some time to rest during his concerts by talking about different things, announcing the upcoming, or just passed, birthdays of listeners, and by devoting a chunk of time in the concert to reading poetry. 

It's poignant. The joy of playing gives Bill some relief from pain. We watch him walking on a tightrope every Tuesday night, never knowing if he might have to stop things and say, "Sorry. I just can't play any longer." (This has never happened.) The topper? He plays and performs a riveting show every week, moving between songs that are driving and surreal like, "Fascination" and others that are tender and moving like "Raise Your Heart". 

His poems were also moving as he read some of his own deeply affecting works and then moved to equally moving and arresting poems by Mary Oliver and Gregory Orr.

Tonight was Tree House Concert #22. These weekly concerts grew out of how the pandemic is restricting Bill's ability to perform at live venues, so he decided to perform live online. I cannot repeat often enough that I've now heard Bill play more often in 2020 than I had heard him in the previous nearly forty years and I cannot repeat enough how much I enjoy being in the virtual audience with Kathy and Loras, reliving the many times we heard Bill perform live in Eugene, Corvallis, Yachats, and possibly elsewhere in Oregon, and being with longtime friends like Val, Colette, Jeff, Bridgit, and others who heard Bill play in the early 80s on campus, downtown at Henny's, and who knows where else and now, here we are again, together and listening to Bill perform. 

As I've said before, I've decided that the rational (not scared) thing for me to do these days is spend a lot of time at home. With Debbie living in New York, spending her days helping Jack with his remote schooling and providing a lot of assistance in helping care for Ellie, I am home alone most hours of the day. I am doing my best to make the most of this time by myself and knowing that I'll be joining Bill and Diane and longtime friends every Tuesday evening to enjoy Bill Davie perform makes this time of isolation not merely bearable, but a source of spiritual and emotional vitality.  


A limerick by Stu:


Where did you go to the “show”? 
Was it a Theater with tickets to go? 
Maybe a screen that’s outside, 
Where in the trunk your friends hide? 
Those times were quite special ya know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/20: Slow Day on Purpose, Big Squash, Dizzy Gillespie BONUS: A Limerick by Stu

 1. Predictably, after I spent much of the weekend preparing food and cleaning house for Sunday's expanded family dinner, today I spent much of the day resting, completing a handful of acrostic puzzles. I fell asleep during the Billy Collins poetry broadcast and will give it a second go in the morning. 

2. At one point, I did wander out to the squash patch in the northeast corner of the yard and harvested two squash (I think Debbie said they are hubbards), both about the size of a medicine ball.

3. Late this evening, I found a short documentary film (about 25 minutes) of Dizzy Gillespie. The film alternated between passages of Gillespie performing in California with a quintet and talking with the filmmaker, Les Blank, about his musical ideas and the origins of the sounds and rhythms of bebop. 


Here's a limerick by Stu: 


Looking back, ask if you were “agin” it? 
Short shorts, that’s how you must spin it. 
Made of nylon not cotton, 
If worn ne’er be forgotten. 
Maybe worse if you were the ones in it. 


Basketball shorts prior to 1991 Michigan Men’s Basketball Team (Fab Five).


Monday, September 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/20: Preparing, Brains and Brawn and Feathery Touch, Superb Family Dinner BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. With the food I planned to serve late this afternoon pretty much done -- I heated the naan, cut up celery sticks, and turned the buffalo chicken pasta from a refrigerated to a room temperature dish --, I divided my time between keeping an eye on the U. S. Open and spiffing up the house -- cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming floors and rugs, cleaning the bathroom, and setting up the deck for hosting Hugh and Carol Crozier, Stu, Christy, Paul, and Carol for tonight's special edition of family dinner.

2. To prepare for this year's golf season, Bryson DeChambeau put on forty pounds of body mass (he has forearms and biceps like a hyper-spinached up Popeye!) and continued his very scientific and mathematical analytical approach to all aspects of the game: his swing, ball speed on his putts, angles on the green, and other areas. With his added physical strength, DeChambeau bombed his tee shots, often landing in the rough, but because he is so strong, he muscled his shots out of the rough, often from much closer to the green than his opponents. It was a stunning display of brains and brawn, and, to top it off, DeChambeau played the more delicate aspects of his game brilliantly. He putted, in his words, "immacuately" and when he had to scramble around the greens, his chips and pitches were deft -- beautifully analyzed and delicately executed. Brains, brawn, and feathery touch. In the end, no one could match the balance of his performance and he won the U. S. Open by six strokes and inspired countless discussions about his unorthodox approach to the game. 

3. I was having a good weekend, planning, cooking, cleaning, watching golf, but the very very best came as the weekend was ending.

By 3:00, I had everything set up for dinner.

First, Stu arrived and we had some time to yak before Carol and Paul came on the scene. Soon Christy arrived. I mixed some cocktails, Stu and his longtime friends, my sisters, yakked, and, before long, Hugh and Carol arrived.

Hugh had just finished the sixth grade and our 1966 Little League season when his family moved to the Seattle area. Hugh and I became friends on Facebook a few years ago. In December of 2019, he made a business trip to Spokane and, along with Stu, Lars, Mary, and Kathy, I got to see Hugh for several hours, mostly at Perry Street Brewing, for the first time in fifty-three years.

Until today, none of us seated on the deck had ever met Hugh's wife Carol. My sisters and Hugh have had some interaction on Facebook, but I'm not sure how much Christy and Hugh ever talked or anything the one school year Hugh was at Sunnyside Elementary. Today, Carol and Paul met Hugh and Carol for the first time.

Before everyone arrived, I wondered, how will this work out? Will it be awkward getting acquainted or will things go smoothly, will conversation, laughter, and mirth just sort of easily happen?

Within minutes I had my answer. Conversation immediately erupted. It turns out everyone had lots to talk about, not only the good old days in Kellogg and Elk Creek, but the good new days in recent years as well. Carol Crozier seemed to feel at home right off the bat -- at one point, Christy escorted her to the she shed for a tour! Hugh brought an armload of beers from Washington, Stu brought a couple of bombers brewed by Wallace Brewing, and I shared beer with Hugh that Patrick brought from Oregon. 

The beers were out of sight: red ale, double IPA, German chocolate stout, and an Imperial stout. Hugh and I split each beer, making it safe to try four beers out and keep our wits about us.

For food, I put out a Thai noodle salad, the buffalo chicken pasta dish, a rice salad, naan with hummus, celery sticks with a simple blue cheese dressing I made, a bowl of peanuts, pickled onions, pickled green tomatoes, pickled asparagus, and bread and butter pickles. Yeah, it was probably too much food, but I thought it would be fun to have a variety of things to graze and everyone seemed to enjoy what they ate. 

I was beaming throughout dinner. I loved that Christy, Carol, Paul, and Stu are so easy to get along with and were so gracious and so interested in getting better acquainted with Carol and Hugh, asking them questions about themselves and telling stories, too.  The conversation among all of us was easy, laughter came readily and naturally, we learned a ton about things in the past around Kellogg and a ton about things in present day Seattle and Renton, and present day Kellogg as well. 

I spent the party seated on the back porch adjacent to the deck and, from my perch, it was a perfect party, a perfect family dinner. 


Here's a limerick by Stu:


Three words Nat King Cole sang are clear.
Not soda and pretzels and beer.
But if referred to 2020,
And how things "wenty"?
Lazy, Hazy, and Crazy's this year!



Sunday, September 20, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/20: Grip It and Rip It, Food Prep Finished, Sunday Hopes BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. The third round of the U. S. Open intrigued me. The two leaders, Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau, up to this point, have taken, and succeeded with, the strategy of "grip it and rip it" to a level that has boggled my mind. It's widely assumed by golf experts that in order to win a U. S. Open, a golfer must keep the ball in the fairway and avoid the thick, tangly, tall, and punishing rough. Players at the elite level depend on being able to control their shots and it's very difficult to do so when striking the ball in the overgrown rough at Winged Foot. 

Wolff and Bryson turned the conventional wisdom upside down. Both players missed more fairways than they hit, but because of their physical strength and because of their considerable length off the tee (especially DeChambeau) that meant their shots from the rough were shorter, they hit remarkable shots out of the rough and overcame their inaccurate shots off the tee.  

Who will win on Sunday? I have no predictions, no idea.

2. I balanced my time between the Vizio room and golf and the kitchen. The buffalo chicken pasta sort of a salad was finished. I finished making the Thai noodle salad. I made a tabouli styled rice salad. I made a batch of hummus and a blue cheese dip for celery to go with the buffalo chicken pasta sort of salad. I thawed out some naan bread to dip in the hummus and I'll also put out some wine, peanuts and pickled vegetables. We'll have kind of a buffet/eat when you are ready/informal family dinner when Hugh and Carol (and possibly Stu) arrive.

3. I'm glad the food is ready to go -- I think each of the salads I made will benefit from being prepared ahead of time, giving the flavors a chance to settle in. All that's left now is getting the house spiffed up a bit and preparing the deck for guests. I hope it won't be too cold to eat outside. I'll be ready to move things indoors if necessary, but it's not supposed to rain on Sunday and temperature is forecast to be cool, but not cold. 


Here's a limerick by Stu (and a little message!):

For all people who missed it, yesterday was.......

Me likes me patch on me eye. 
Me likes Jolly Roger up high. 
And me hook for a hand, 
Treasure buried in sand. 
And me peg for me leg gets me by.

Talk like a Pirate Day
Don't forget it in 2021

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/20: Bebop/Hip Hop, U.S. Open, Dinner Prep BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I realized today that the episode of Jazz entitled, "Dedicated to Chaos" is the episode I should have started with in my quest to better understand bebop. The episode helped me understand much better how some Black jazz musicians found the lack of freedom in big band/swing compositions to be confining. They also wanted to play music that more truthfully expressed their experience as African-Americans. In late night jazz sessions and with the support of Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, Bud Powell, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others pioneered bebop, this startling and innovative style of jazz. For listeners accustomed to the dance rhythms and much more structured sound of the big bands, the speed, emotional turmoil, and aggressiveness of bebop was jarring. 

I thought about how little I know about hip hop. I do know that hip hop, like bepop, began underground -- not in Harlem, but in the Bronx -- and, like bepop, has its roots in the Black urban experience. Like bepop, hip hop was pioneered by African Americans as a way of exploring Black experience and expressing its truths. Hip hop also became a means for African Americans to take control of the recording, marketing, and selling of their own music, working outside of the established record companies and means of distribution.  Over the last 30-40 years, as hip hop has emerged and gained widespread popularity, I've heard countless denigrating comments about this style of music and the content of its lyrics. I wondered if this rejection and these derisive comments are similar to the rejection the bebop pioneers experienced for creating a sound so out of conformity with mainstream jazz and for expressing a range of emotions that many listeners found unsettling. 


2. On the windswept fairways and greens of Winged Foot Golf Club, host to this year's men's U. S. Open, I didn't hear any bebop or hip hop, but enjoyed watching putts drop as this most challenging course asserted its will, taxing the world's best golfers, demanding that they play at their highest level or suffer golf humiliation. The player who stood our for me today was Patrick Reed -- he scrambled all day, rarely hitting greens in regulation, but time after time, whether out of the green side rough or out  of green side sand traps, he deftly pitched and chipped his recovery shots close to the hole and converted knee knocking after knee knocking putt. When he completed his round, Reed headed straight for the driving range. No doubt he knows, much like other followers of golf know, that in order to win this championship, he must drive the ball straighter. It's difficult to score well on a course like Winged Foot by putting so much pressure on the short game. 


3. As I planned, late this afternoon and on into the evening, I got started on preparing food for Sunday's family dinner and visit from Hugh and Carol Crozier. I'm about half way done, will finish on Saturday, and have everything ready to go long before guests arrive. I'm relieved. 



Here's a limerick by Stu:


The “Man” said, don’t “Kipe” it, “you dig?” 
“Right on” will just “book” to that “gig”! 
“It’s a gas” not “uptight”, 
Sounds are “groovy”, “outta sight!” 
“Far out”, there’s a “Bota” to “swig”!


Friday, September 18, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/20: *Jazz*, Prof Bebop, Prepping Family Dinner BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1.  One day, I'll go back and watch the episodes of Ken Burns' series, Jazz, that cover the first days of jazz on through 1940. But, at this time, my interest is much more in the evolution of jazz from 1940 to, well, about 2000, since the series was released in 2001. Watching these episodes, I learned more about the way styles of jazz grew out of one style's response to what came before it and the way jazz gave voice to social and political developments in the life of the USA. What I've watched has secured for me what I thought was true: my tastes in jazz are eclectic and I do not have any investment in making assessments about what is jazz and what isn't. I am enthralled by bebop, cool jazz, fusion, as well as the big band sound and I find the sonic explorations of free and avant garde jazz fascinating and sometimes perfect for giving musical expression to ways I feel about things. 

Although Jazz didn't cover this, I think I'm also coming to appreciate more fully the way bepop and possibly cool jazz inspired the Beat poets and I went on YouTube today and listened to Jack Kerouac read his poem, "Charlie Parker" to the piano accompaniment of Steve Allen. 

2.  This afternoon, I tuned into the Billy Collins poetry broadcast. When Billy Collins introduces us to a jazz musician, he puts on sunglasses and assumes the role of Professor Bebop. On the one hand, he's being kind of funny when he plays Professor Bebop, but, at the same time, his comments are informative and are expanding my enjoyment of jazz music. 

As I listen to more of Billy Collins' poetry and to what he says about jazz, I find myself wanting to learn more about the poetics of Beat poetry and possibly understanding a little bit about how Billy Collins' style of poetry is related, if it is, to Beat poetry and, in turn, to jazz. I might be making this all up. If I am, fine -- but these questions are swirling around in my head.

3. I am hosting family dinner this Sunday and Hugh and Carol Crozier will be joining us. I spent time today putting my shopping list together and planning what food I'll prepare. I'll get going on all of this on Friday and Saturday -- the food prep will be simple and what I have planned for us to eat will taste better on Sunday if it's made a day or two in advance.

A limerick by Stu:

Very few in this world are called "Best"!
Who still stand alone at the crest.
And, though others are great,
Two's the best they can rate.
As Jimi tops the list we attest!

Jimi Henrix passed away on this date in 1970, joining many others in the "27" Club!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/20: Dental Success, Kidney Check Up Relief, Thelonius Monk and Bebop BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: I could see the outlines of  mountains to the south of Kellogg today. Our air's smoke load lightened a bit.

1. Over the last couple of years, in particular, I've been much more disciplined in how I tend to my dental health. I'll leave it at that -- who needs to (or wants to) read the gory details (maybe Jeri! 😊). So, when I went to have my once every four months cleaning today, I was hopeful that hygienist extraordinaire Kathy would be pleased with my efforts.  

She was. 

So, not only did I leave the dentist's office with smoother feeling teeth, my night time mouth guard sanitized, and a bag of dental cleaning supplies, I also left with the slightly euphoric feeling of Kathy having praised me. 

2. Next up this morning: I met my appointment with Dr. Bieber, Nephrologist. 

I was feeling some stress about this visit.

I had seen my lab work results and my glomerular filtration rate (gfr) had dropped from 15 to 13 and my blood's creatinine content was higher than usual. Other parts of my results looked good, though. 

Most of all, I was anxious about talking with Dr. Bieber about my decision last month to turn down a kidney and not have a transplant.

My anxiety was misplaced. 

Here. Listen in:

Dr. Bieber: Good morning! How have you been feeling?

Me: Really good. Just like I have for years, I'm happy to say.

Dr. Bieber: And you are still on the active list for a transplant?

Me: Well, no. I was offered a kidney last month and I turned it down.

Dr. Bieber: That was very wise. (My emphasis.)

Me (on the verge of happy tears): My transplant nurse coordinator called me the next day, wondering about my decision to decline and told me that if I were going to be turning down offers, I should be put on inactive status on the transplant list. I agreed and that's where things stand right now.

Dr. Bieber had my lab report in hand and he went over it in more detail than any other doctor ever has.  He showed me that, yes, in the area of filtration, my numbers were not very good (gfr and creatinine). But, he told me, in other ways my kidneys continue to work splendidly. He explained that it's why I continue to feel good, why I'm not anemic, why I'm not retaining water in my lower legs and ankles, why, in short, I'm not experiencing symptoms. He added that these numbers have been strong all along and that these numbers suggest present and, most likely (no guarantees), continued stability for some indeterminate amount of time.

In short, he would rather, for now, see me continue to live with my kidneys in the shape they are in now, and have been for several years, than go through a transplant.

He was realistic. We never know when the other functions might go into decline. But, given my history and given the strength of my numbers overall, he doesn't anticipate a steep decline in the near future.

I also expressed my concerns about having a transplant, which requires significantly lowering my immune system, during this pandemic. He agreed. It's a concern and only recently have transplant programs resumed performing surgeries. His hope is that I can continue to be stable and feel good at least until a vaccine for Covid-19 is available and get the shot before transplantation.

So, what's next? 

When I talked with her a month ago,  I told Transplant Nurse Coordinator Sheri that even though I was inactive, I'd like to go through the once a year series of tests and interviews that happens every November. She said I could delay it until the early months of 2021, but I don't want to. I really enjoy talking with the members of the transplant team and I look forward to meeting with all of them once again and I'm fine with having a million blood tests, X-rays, heart tests, and other things done during the day. 

I see Dr. Bieber again in January.

3.  I returned home and warmed up some left over steak soup with rice for lunch and then took the packages of dog feed to go to Lucky Paws, along with a package for Debbie in New York, to the post office.

Back home again, the combination of anxiety and relief I experienced this morning washed over me so mightily that I collapsed and fell into a deep and restorative sleep for about an hour.

Revived, I photographed squash for Debbie, finished the blog writing that I usually complete in the morning, had an awesome telephone conversation for about 45 minutes with lifelong friend, Paul Richter, had some leftover curry and rice for dinner, and retired to the Vizio room to watch two documentary films on jazz.

I started by watching the Theolonious Monk documentary,  Straight, No Chaser. The movie is built upon generous chunks of time watching and listening to Monk play in nightclubs, recording studios, jazz festivals, and at home. It also features candid scenes of Monk backstage, in airports and on airplanes, on the streets of cities, all contributing to a sense of his complex personality on stage, in rehearsal, and in his domestic life. Unlike many documentaries, this one is not particularly interview heavy, but is much more devoted to experiencing Monk at work as player and band leader.

I then turned to the Ken Burns documentary series, Jazz, which I've never watched. Having just watched the Monk movie, I wanted to experience how Burns' series dealt with the origins and the growth of bebop, so I put on episode 8, "Risk", and watched the first hour. I learned much more about bebop's exploration of unusual, often broken, rhythms and discordant melodies and its emphasis not only on speed and virtuosity, but on personal expression, especially of emotions, whether feelings of anxiety or disillusionment, or the joy musicians like Charlie Parker seemed to find in the freedom, daring, and expansiveness of this emerging style of jazz. 


Here's a limerick by Stu:

As I gaze 'round the house I see books.
They're on tables and shelves and in nooks.
Some day soon, I would bet,
I'll bag the TV and Net.
And give written word more than just looks.