Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/2021: Walking Uptown, Debbie's Blissful 2IPA, Rice Snack

 1. If being short of breath in Pendleton had to do with being in really lousy shape, I continued today in my determination to improve my conditioning by walking to the Avista drop box and feeding it my bill and then walking to uptown Kellogg by way of the Trail of CdA's tributary that branches off the main trail and goes up behind the old YMCA building. I walked up the short street/alley that divides the Y from the Elks and, as I hoped I would, saw Cas's truck in front of the Inland Lounge.  He was getting chores done. 

I dropped in for a couple glasses of ice water and we had a good time talking about all kinds of stuff. It was the longest conversation we'd had in months and we covered a lot of ground.

I then walked east on McKinley and headed down Depot Hill on to Riverside and walked the route I used to take when I came home from Sunnyside Elementary back in 1962-1966.

This was a great walk. I breathed a lot of fresh air, racked up over two miles, and was moving for nearly 45 minutes. Slowly, I am building back some of the strength I lost over the winter.

2. Around 6:15, Debbie called me. It was an awesome call because she wanted me to know that she'd just enjoyed a 16 oz can of Kane Brewing Company's Eastern Sky Imperial IPA. I knew what she meant when she described the bliss of drinking an Imperial IPA that is about as perfect in the moment as a beer can be. Her experience made me think of all the Imperial IPAs I loved when we lived in Maryland and our nearly weekly Sunday trips to DC Brau to enjoy 12 oz pours of On the Wings of Armageddon. Unless things have changed in the Silver Valley breweries, no one brews an Imperial IPA here, but if I head to CdA, Post Falls, Sandpoint, Spokane, Pend Oreille, or other places not too far away, I can find some damn fine Imperial IPAs to enjoy on tap. Gotta be careful, though. Imperial IPAs can get me buzzing more than I want if I get carried away -- but I've never needed to be carried away!

3.  I should always have rice made and available in the fridge. As a snack before bed tonight, I put cold jasmine rice in a bowl and covered it with cinnamon, honey, and almond milk. I'd never combined these ingredients before. I loved it.  I see a lot of potential for further experimentation with nuts, raisins, other spices and other ingredients. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/2021: Back to the Wellness Trail, Steamed Spaghetti Squash, Superb Family Dinner

 1. A brief reminder: in Pendleton last week, while on an easy walk with Colette, I grew concerned that I was experiencing an unusual shortness of breath. Every kidney doctor I've seen since Jan. of 2005 asks me, as part of my regular check ups, whether I am experiencing shortness of breath. It can be a symptom of kidney failure. 

Today, I hiked the wellness trail above the hospital as a way to test my lung capacity and, I hoped, to assure myself that what I experienced in Pendleton was temporary and a result of not being properly hydrated.

Before hiking, I drank water at home and I took water on the trail.

Yes, I needed to rest on the two benches strategically placed on the trail, but I expected that.

When I reached the picnic table at the end of the wellness trail, I was upright and breathing about as hard as I usually do on this hike.  I talked for a minute or two with the sweethearts who were lying on the table, soaking up the sunlight and blissing out on the beauty of the day.

I felt more than fine. I felt really good. I enjoyed my walk back down the trail and my confidence grew that I'm doing all right and am committed to keeping the sodium down and water consumption up. 

2. Christy planned tonight's family dinner. She copied a recipe for steamed spaghetti squash for me to follow and it was simple to make. Once I cut the two squash in half, lengthwise, I salted and peppered them and drizzled them with a blend of olive oil and honey. I roasted them, two halves at a time, for about 35-40 minutes, let them cool, scraped the flesh out with a fork, and added a mixture of vinegar, honey, and olive oil to the spaghetti looking squash. I topped the dish with toasted almonds. 

3.  Christy assigned us each a recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli's book, Cook with Me. For a cocktail, I followed Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe for making Manhattans.  Christy prepared baked chicken thighs with a slow-cooked barbecue sauce that was packed with flavors and Carol made a Waldorf salad with a vinaigrette, not a mayonnaise-based dressing. I contributed the steamed spaghetti squash. We also drank from a bottle of Rose wine.  Our family dinners are always really good, but I thought this one was one of those especially delicious meals where every dish was brilliant on its own and they each complimented one another perfectly.

Christy also baked cherry almond cookies out of Cook With Me and served them with a cherry almond after dinner drink mixed with half and half.

We spent the evening in continual conversation, too. Among other things, Carol reported on her outing the past couple of days and nights with April and Kellee. This led us to a discussion of other people's families, who's related to whom, some of their family stories, and some surprises about what has happened in the past. It was a great time all the way around and left me eager to find out what Carol will plan for dinner next Sunday. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/2021: A Good Walk, Help With the Sube, Simple Dinner

 1. I hoped this evening when I went for a walk up on the trail to the high school that I wouldn't easily start to get winded like I did when walking with Colette after lunch on Wednesday.

I didn't.

I walked up the short hill of the trail and, yes, I was a little short of breath, but that's always true. 

I thought more about things this past week in Pendleton and I'm wondering now if I'd become dehydrated. While away on my trip, I ate all restaurant food and, as Christy pointed out to me, that means more sodium. I drank water with my meals, but when I'm at home I drink water through the day. I was pretty well hydrated on my walk today and I moved so much better. 

I'll test this out some more by staying hydrated and walking. 

I also looked up when my regular appointment with Dr. Bieber happens.

It's on May 5th, just two weeks away. 

I had thought it was three or four weeks away.

Unless something weird happens, I'm confident that seeing him on May 5th is soon enough.

But, if anything goes sideways, I'll contact his office.

2. After I dropped Ed off in Kingston on Friday, I began to hear a rubbing/scraping sound. I thought it was coming from the area of the driver's side tire.

The noise came and went.

I put the car in the garage and this morning I drove down to get Luna some medicine at the vet.

The medicine wasn't ready. On the way back home, I popped over to Yoke's and the sound returned.

Off and on. 

It came and went. 

I pulled into Silver Valley Tires.

The place was a madhouse, really busy, but Jeremy told me he could have the car looked at in the afternoon. He'd call me when there was an opening.

A little later, I returned to the vet (now the medicine was ready) and when I came back to the car I saw black plastic something or other hanging down from underneath the Sube.

Ah! No big deal.

And, in fact, when I got the Sube in at Silver Valley Tire, all the guy who fixed it had to do was put the Sube up on the rack and secure that piece of plastic back in place with zip ties.

No charge.

No problem.

3.  I fixed a pot of jasmine rice tonight. I mixed some rice with chopped, unseasoned zucchini, and once the zucchini pieces were tender I cracked an egg over it all, let the egg cook, and put it in a bowl, seasoned with a splash of soy sauce and a small pour of teriyaki sauce. It's a simple dinner, but one of my favorites. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/2021: Farewell, Easy Drive, Back Home

 1. After another fine breakfast at Traditions, Ed, Mike, and I checked out of our rooms. Ed and I said farewell to Mike after we looked back on what an easy, relaxing time we'd together since Wednesday. Our current plan is to resume our previous tradition of coming back to Pendleton in November, spend a couple of nights, and enjoy some meals, some beers, some driving around, and some time on the casino floor.

2.  The drive back to the Silver Valley was uneventful in most light traffic and on a day when, as our driver, I could see for miles and miles and miles. Ed and I recounted the fun times we'd had, talked about future plans, and found a bunch of other things to yak about.

3. I returned home and everything was in place. Christy, Carol, and Paul had agreed to look after and feed Luna and Copper and they were as content as ever when I walked in the door.

I turned on my MacBook Air and the operating system was haywire and I spent several hours on the phone with three different service advisors, all of whom were eager to help me, and finally the last person I worked with fashioned a solution. 

Once my computer was running again, I fixed myself a bowl of salmon and couscous and then I spent a couple of hours both getting my computer set up and getting caught up on emails, fantasy baseball, and other things. 

I loved my time away. I also found it very comforting to be back home, grateful that I had cleaned the place up, happy to spend time with Luna and Copper, and eager to return to do some cooking in the kitchen again. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/2021: Breakfast at Traditions, Drive to Meacham, Celebrative Steak Dinner

 1. Today was our one full day in the Pendleton area and we tried to make the most of it. We started out with breakfast in the Traditions restaurant -- I especially enjoyed having a biscuit with my bacon, eggs, and hash browns. I like eating pieces of bacon on top of the biscuit halves. Once again, everything was easy. Ed and Mike went their own ways after breakfast and I returned to my room to clean up.

2. Around 12 noon, we all piled into Mike's Camry and headed east from Pendleton. Last November, Ed and Mike had found a two lane back road that wound around in the countryside for a while and soon reached a stunning vista where we could look out over the local valley for miles and miles, admiring the combination of farmland and mountains covered with snow. 

After this drive, we headed to Meacham, OR, a tiny town on the old Oregon Trail. Our attraction to Meacham is the Oregon Trail Store and Deli, a rural joint without a shred of fancy. I think a couple owns it. Mostly we have dealt with the friendly husband, a welcoming middle aged guy with a lively sense of humor.  The owner has had a bunch of menus printed up that feature dishes made from road kill, so he gave us each one before he brought out his real menu. We each had a beer and when Ed saw on the menu that the joint made home made French fries, he ordered a batch which we shared -- and which were great. 

3. Back at the casino, we again went our separate ways and reconvened for the steak dinner we enjoy every time we visit Wildhorse at the casino's steak house, the Plateau. Each of us ordered a Pendleton Whiskey Steak, a 14 oz New York strip crusted with pepper (I love pepper-crusted steak) and lightly touched with a Pendleton Whiskey demi-glace. I hadn't eaten a steak in a restaurant since the last time I was at the Plateau, in November, 2019, and I savored every bite of this dinner -- and not just the steak. For my two complements I ordered melt in your mouth wild mushrooms and crispy Brussels sprouts delicately sweetened with local honey. My gin martini to start was perfect and I enjoyed a glass of a red blend wine with my meal. 

We had two events to celebrate at dinner. First, Mike recently had his 67th birthday. Second, Ed hit three jackpots in the last two days worth, before taxes, around 7500 dollars. It's the most astounding haul any one of us has ever made in the many years we've been making these trips to Pendleton -- or in the old days when we used to go to casinos in Newport and Grand Ronde, OR. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/2021:Back to the Nook, Easy Times with Longtime Friends, Lunch with Colette

 1. I leaped into the Sube, with all its new belts and new battery and new tires and and other new stuff and cruised out to Kingston and picked up Ed. We hit the road and, as we had decided ahead of time, we stopped at the Breakfast Nook in Coeur d'Alene for our morning meal. I didn't keep close track of what's been happening at the Breakfast Nook, but it sure looked to me like the place had been spiffed up since my last visit in early 2020. 

I ordered a chicken fried steak and it was tender, perfectly breaded, and delicious. I always enjoy the Breakfast Nook's hash browns. I like the way they're grated, wide and long, and they always come out of the kitchen perfectly crispy on top and are never dry. It was really fun to eat here again and I'm looking forward to possibly renewing a former tradition when I'd worship at St. Luke's and go to the Breakfast Nook afterward for a midday breakfast.

2. Ed and I arrived at the Wildhorse Casino not long after Mike got there. We each had rooms reserved, checked in, put our things away, and then met in Ed's room to celebrate being together again by sipping on some Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey. We immediately fell into a first-rate bull session and got our short vacation off to a perfect start. 

We reunited for another excellent session later that night. We met at the Wildhorse Sports Bar for some beer and onion rings and continued our long tradition of story telling, kidding around, talking about serious matters, and superb and easy conversation. 

3. I left the casino around 2:30 in the afternoon to meet Colette at the Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. Because a few years ago Colette moved to Walla Walla, she and I have been able to meet up when the guys and I have our getaways in Pendleton.

We met at a table outdoors. Colette gave me books she thought I'd enjoy, a wonderful gift.  We immediately launched into a bazillion things to talk about, ranging from family, work, and graduate school to Debbie living in New York, the challenges of parenthood, and movies -- and more. We split a superb kale and pear salad and a small pizza, the Marilyn Monroe which combines white citrus cheese, Mozzarella cheese, artichokes, and artfully placed chocolate kiss looking dabs of ricotta cheese. The food was superb and enhanced our fascinating conversation.

At some point in our time together, our server told us that another party had reserved out table and would be arriving shortly. No problem. We settled up and headed toward an asphalt trail above the Umatilla River and started to take a walk.

We hadn't walked long and I started to feel winded. This happens to me sometimes if I try to walk after I've eaten. I asked Colette if we could stop for a while and sit. We did. As we continued to talk, I was suddenly feeling fatigued, certain that the warmer weather and having been driving for several hours combined to wear me out a bit. 

Later on -- maybe that night, maybe the next day, I noticed that I was a bit short of breath just walking around -- like when walking around in the casino. 

I had also been noticing that I had a little more build up of water retention in my lower legs and I wondered if I might be carrying some water weight in my midsection. I feel bigger than I think I should. 

I'm making note of these things here in my blog because if they are signs of my kidney disease having worsened a bit, I want to remember where I was, what I was doing, and what the signs were when I noticed it.

I have an appointment scheduled in May with my kidney doctor, but I'm going to call his office on Monday and see if we should meet earlier. In the meantime, I plan on doing some walking, seeing if this short-windedness continues, monitoring my lower legs and ankles, and continuing to drink plenty of water. 

Again, I'm writing about this change I perceived so I have a record of when it started happening. At the moment, I'm not alarmed, but I also don't want to act like everything's going along as usual if it's not. This kidney disease is tricky business for me because I have known about it for about sixteen years and haven't, as of yet, experienced symptoms -- but I've listened to my doctors tell me what to look for. I might be experiencing some of them. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/2021: Outing with Stu, Sube Ready to Go, Bill Remembers His Father

 1. I returned the rental car to Enterprise, filled up with gas, in unharmed condition, and soon after finishing by business, Stu picked me up. We went to an old favorite breakfast spot for us Kellogg guys, Nosworthy's and, for the first time in many many months, I ordered an omelette. This one was sausage and Swiss cheese. We had fun talking about the Zag/Baylor game. Stu unfolded his analysis of how the game might have gone differently had the officials been calling the three seconds in the key violation and had a a few key calls at critical junctures gone Gonzaga's way. Of course, we'll never know, but it was fascinating to think about what might have been.

Stu and I then hit the road to Bayview where Stu took a few minutes to pull the protective tarp back on his boat and just made sure things were looking all right. They were. We climbed in the boat for a short while and imagined other Kellogg friends of ours hopping in the boat later this summer for a ride. It's been several years, but in the past we've had some fun times, with Stu as our boat host, going out on both Lake Cd'A and Pend Oreille Lake. 

2. After our visit it Bayview, Stu drove me to the car shop and I picked up the Sube with the major maintenance job all finished. The Sube seems to be in pretty good shape right now. I'm hoping to get a few more years of use out of this good old car.

3. Yesterday, I tried to declutter the house and today I focused on vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and on cleaning surfaces, especially in the kitchen.

When tonight's Tree House Concert got underway, I wasn't quite done with cleaning, so I did not pour myself my usual cocktail but listened to Bill Davie perform while drinking water so I could finish my chores. 

Bill's father passed away many years ago and today would have been his birthday. Bill learned to play guitar and sing from his father and often pays homage to him when performing these concerts. Tonight, Bill paid tribute to his father all evening, performing his two songs written to/for his father and by reading Donald Hall's poem, "The Day I Was Older". Bill wrote a song (and performed it last week) by the same title. Both works reflect on the experience of living past the age of their fathers when they died. 

Tonight's concert was especially powerful, shot through with Bill's sadness and gratitude for his father whom he misses dearly and for whom he is daily thankful. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/2021: Sube to the Shop, Rent a RAV 4, Spiffing Up the House

Note: In the past, when my mental and physical health were not very good, if I disappeared from by blog or from Facebook, concerned friends messaged me to make sure I was all right, a gesture I deeply appreciated.

I am leaving town Wednesday morning and returning Friday on a trip to Pendleton and I'm not taking my computer. I'll resume posting either on Friday or Saturday when I get back. 

1.  I got up early this morning and catapulted over the 4th of July Pass in the Sube and dropped it off at the shop for a major maintenance job. No repairs -- just the replacement of aged parts. 

2. A really friendly tech-in-training from the shop gave me a lift down to Enterprise and I rented a Toyota RAV 4 and drove it back to Kellogg. I parked it in the driveway and didn't drive it again all day. I return it on Tuesday morning.

3. I decided to divide spiffing up the house into two parts: today I put things away, got piles of papers and things off of the kitchen table. Tomorrow, when I return home with the Sube, I'll work on trying to make my living rug and floors look better. 

And I'll pack. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/2021: Hideki Matsuyama Wins!, Money and Video Rentals, Take Out Family Dinner

1.  For those players chasing Hideki Matsuyama in the final round of the Masters today, a tall order lay before them. The course was windy and the greens quick. If Matsuyama shot even par on Sunday, the players right behind him would have to shoot 68 in order to tie him and go even lower to win the tournament outright.

If I remember correctly, when Matsuyama birdied 8 and 9, he was five strokes ahead at the turn and it looked like the back nine would be a coronation.

But, it was as if Lee Corso was on hand, issuing his signature warning: "Not so fast my friend."

Matsuyama's playing partner, Xander Schauffele, drained a birdie putt on 12 and Matsuyama bogeyed the hole. Then Schauffele birdied the next three holes, closing the gap between him and Matsuyama to two strokes with three holes to play.

On the 16th hole, Schauffele hit what he later said felt like a perfect 8 iron off the tee, but as his shot soared toward the green, a gust of wind buffeted it, it fell short of the green, and rolled into the hole's water hazard. Schauffele ended up with an ugly triple bogey and Matsuyama was once again comfortably ahead of the field.

Matsuyama had enough of a cushion that he could safely bogey 17 and 18 and still win the Masters by a single stroke over the astonishing 24 year old newcomer, Will Zalatoris, playing in his first Masters and leaving a memorable impression with his spirited, powerful, and deft play in all four rounds. 

Until today, no Japanese player had won one of the men's four major golf tournaments. Golf is an uber popular sport in Japan and, according to what I've read, Hideki Matsuyama's victory inspired jubilation across the country. Hideki Matsuyama said he hoped his success would inspire other Japanese golfers to follow his success with major victories of their own. 

2. I didn't watch the last couple of hours of the Masters very  closely because I was on a Zoom call with Bill and Diane. We kicked off our conversation with a discussion of money and how our own attitudes about and toward money had been affected by our parents, to be specific, and our families, to be more general. This topic is especially urgent to Diane right now because she is beginning to plan for retirement and she and Bill are making some improvements in their home. 

My life has slowed down considerably since moving to Kellogg and, it's turned out, at least for now, that retirement (combined with lying low for so much of the pandemic) has been much less financially stressful for me than my years working were. I don't care to get into the details right now. I realize the stress could return. But, since my life has been less financially demanding in the last four years or so, I've been more relaxed.  In one respect, I'm lucky. I have very few material desires -- I just don't spend much money on myself. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just being self-denying, but I'm not. I like taking trips on occasion. I like spending some money when I go other places. But, when I'm just here at home, most of what I do doesn't involve much money.

Our conversation shifted, after a while, to movies and the availability of movies in the age of streaming and dvd mail services. I expressed how much I miss video rental stores -- like Eugene's Flicks n Pics and Hollywood Video -- how I miss being able to go a short ways from home and would often find that these places had just the international, classic, current, or 10-20 year old movie I was looking for. We agreed that we sorely miss browsing titles in video stores. Browsing is often a fruitless and frustrating undertaking online, but was absorbing and often very fruitful in the video rental stores.

We became so absorbed in talking about movies that we watched a trailer of Last Orders and delighted in watching Ray Walston sing a number in Damn Yankees.

We covered a lot of ground and had a lot of fun together.

3. Christy and Riley have undertaken the task of in-home dog and dog owner training. The woman Christy and Riley work with is very busy on Sundays and today she couldn't come to Christy's house until after 5:30.

We decided a week ago that since Christy wasn't positive when Natalie would arrive, we would have take out pizza for tonight's family dinner.

So, from the new Domino's in town, Carol ordered a thin and crispy sausage and pepperoni, a Brooklyn style cheese, and a hand-thrown ham and pineapple pizza, three different styles of pizza with three different kinds of sauce, a parmesan garlic, a hearty marinara, and, I think, an Alfredo sauce.

It was really fun sampling these different styles of pizza and it made for a relaxing dinner.

We talked about a lot of stuff including family history, where people lived and live in Montgomery Gulch, the history of some other families in Kellogg, and got caught up on some of the events happening around town the last week or so. 

As much as I enjoy preparing food for family dinners and dining on the creations of Christy, Carol, and Paul, it was a fun departure this evening to let Domino's do the cooking and to gobble up slices of pizza. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/2021: Matsuyama's Torrid Back Nine, Steak Soup, Dark and Sweet Comedy

 1. When a player catches fire and plays extraordinary golf on a testy golf course like Augusta National, it electrifies me. Today, returning to the course after a rain delay of just over an hour, Hideki Matsuyama completed his back nine in an astonishing 30 strokes, with four birdies and an eagle. His torrid streak catapulted him to a four stroke lead. It will be dramatic on Sunday to see how Matsuyama performs with this lead and, should he stagger at all, whether the four players challenging him four, five, or six strokes behind can overtake him. 

I have no prediction. My sense of history tells me that, at Augusta, it's very difficult to shoot a low score one day and repeat it the next. So, let's say Matsuyama shoots even par today. That would mean his challengers right behind him would have to shoot a 68 just to tie him, a formidable challenge. But, should Matsuyama shoot a round over par, it would open the way for a chaotic and exciting second nine at the Masters. 

I'm rooting for everyone. In other words, I'm rooting for drama.

2. I got to thinking around dinner time.

I had another petite sirloin in the fridge. It wouldn't take long to thaw out a quart of chicken stock. I had a nice supply of vegetables on hand and a steak soup started to take shape in my mind. 

So, I chopped up an onion and minced both a plug of ginger and a couple cloves of garlic. I heated olive oil and simultaneously browned bits of steak and sautéed the onion, ginger, and garlic and soon added chopped celery to the pot. I had put a mostly frozen quart of stock in another pot and when it was fully thawed, I added a couple of chopped carrots and some chopped baby potatoes. Before long, I poured the stock over the steak, onion, garlic, ginger, and celery and added some frozen corn and frozen green beans to the soup. 

I brought the soup to a boil, turned it way down, and let it simmer until the potatoes, carrots, onion, and celery were tender. As a last move, I seasoned the soup with a few splashes of Bragg Liquid Aminos.

It worked.

3. When Jessica Walter died last month, her obituaries piqued my curiosity about the show Arrested Development. Walter plays Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the terribly broken Bluth family. So, I tuned into the series' pilot episode on Netflix. 

I don't know that I'll ever return to this show. Yes, if I'm in the mood for outrageous characters and situations and for some grotesque satire, I could see returning to it, curious to see just how shattered this family becomes -- and, to see if, as the show develops, the writers develop some more tender plot lines, if they explore the genuine suffering that underlies the screwed up nature of the Bluth family.

But, I'd be surprised if I do return to this show unless my current mood changes.

I'm much more in the mood for sweet, but not saccharine stories. I will keep watching episodes of Midnight Diner. If I'd been able to stream it, today I would have watched the 1996 Japanese movie, Shall We Dance?. I ordered a used copy of it from a guy selling off his dvd collection to finance his retirement and it will arrive in a couple of weeks. If I could have streamed it, I also would have watched Shower, another Japanese movie from 1999 about a successful business man who has to step out of his life in the world of commerce and pay new attention to his elderly father and mentally challenged younger brother. 

These were among the many movies I watched at the Bijou Art Cinema in Eugene and I've been in the mood to relive the experience of seeing these and many others.

It's just a matter of finding them. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/2021: Musgrove's No-No, Love on *Midnight Diner*, Startling Leftovers

 1.  I had a lot of fun watching the Masters during the day. The course played a bit softer today, was more forgiving, and the day ended with about a dozen, maybe more, players positioned behind leader Justin Rose with a chance to win the tournament.

As fun as it was to watch golf and exchange witty text message commentary with Byrdman and T2, the highlight of my day on the field of play came in Major League Baseball.

Not only did Joe Musgrove pitch the first franchise no-hitter in San Diego Padres team history, but Joe Musgrove is on both of my rosters in the two fantasy baseball leagues I participate in.

In the head-to-head league, I'm still behind my opponent by a few points, but Musgrove's no-hitter gave me a huge boost and we go into the weekend essentially tied. It was thrilling to make up so much ground.

2. I don't know what the opposite of binge watching is, but I've been not binge watching the series on Netflix called Midnight Diner for a couple of months now. These episodes are so beautiful to me that I don't want to finish watching them. So, in order to slow down the inevitable end of the series being over, I only watch one or two episodes at a time and sometimes go weeks between viewings.

Tonight I watched the bittersweet episode that ended the second season. It involved an eight year separation between two lovers and the haunting fact that the woman didn't know why the man suddenly disappeared. He appears in her life again. She has since married a dumplings maker and the reappearance of her lover complicates her life suddenly with a difficult dilemma.

The third season opened with a moving story about a widow who was once a famous pop singer in Japan and how her life intersects with a woman hospitalized with cancer. I can't say any more. If you ever watch this story, I'd hate for you to know in advance what happens.

3.  I've got to remember that the combination of cumin, cinnamon, onions, garlic, dice tomatoes, zucchini, and beans over jasmine rice is not only really delicious when freshly prepared, but might even taste better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. I ate my leftovers for dinner. The flavors had aged. I didn't expect this dinner to be so delicious -- a very welcome pleasure. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/2021: Azaleas and an Ace, Chicken Stock, Steak and Eggs Dinner

 1.  The golf course at Augusta National looks benign enough, constructed on a former nursery, flush with flowering magnolias, azaleas, and dogwood, thick with loblolly pines, and carpeted with closely cut grass. But when this course is dry and the winds kick up a bit, all of this natural beauty beguiles golfers, challenges their ball striking and, more than anything, tests their nerves.

I tuned in to today's first round of the Masters at Augusta National. The greens were firm. The winds were fickle. The course bedeviled most of the field. I saw a variety of shots coming into the greens land on the putting surface and sometimes bound off the back, sometimes trickle. Holding shots was challenging, as was nestling shots close to the pins.

After the round, Gary Woodland said he felt like he'd been in a boxing match with Mike Tyson. Sergio Garcia also felt like he'd been in the ring, as well, but with Evander Hollyfield. For many of the players, it was an exhausting grind.

But, Justin Rose, remarkably, went on a torrid scoring streak. He hit his second shot into the par 5 8th and missed the green to the left. His ball struck one of the grass mounds protecting the green and, improbably, luckily, ricocheted onto the green, ten feet from the pin and Rose sank the putt for an eagle.

After this eagle, Rose then went on a tear, birdieing seven of his round's last ten holes and fired a 65 to take a four stroke lead. 

The other player who had a memorable moment in the sun was Tommy Fleetwood. He blasted his tee shot on the 16th hole straight into the hole for an ace.

2. I put the chicken carcass from Sunday's family dinner into the slow cooker today with water, onion, celery, and seasonings and started making a batch of chicken stock. I wanted to add more green to the stock. I needed a few things at Yoke's so I made a quick trip to the store, bought some parsley for the stock, and picked up a few other things, including two petit sirloin steaks in a single package. Back home, I tossed the parsley into the crock pot and returned to watching golf, the house filling up with great aromas as the stock bubbled away.

3. Late in the afternoon, I suddenly had a bright idea! I realized I had what I needed to fix myself a great breakfast for dinner. I fried a couple of strips of bacon and, in time, added a small mass of chopped Yukon gold baby potatoes to the cast iron pan. As the potatoes were nearly done cooking, I seasoned one of my petit sirloins, fixed it as close to medium rare as I could, and, while it cooked, I fried a couple of eggs.

I couldn't remember the last time I had a steak and egg breakfast with bacon and fried potatoes. I wish I'd had bread on hand to also have some toast, but it didn't matter much. 

I loved this dinner and look forward to fixing myself another one in the near future -- possibly with some variations. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/2021: A Good Walk, Old River Road, Foam and Food

1. I drove up to the trailhead across the road from the Snake Pit and enjoyed walking for about a half an hour, just up the trail to the bridge and a ways beyond and back again. I racked up about 3000 steps, covering about a mile and a half. My legs felt a bit stronger. I hope my wind is improving, too.

2. Soon after I finished walking, Byrdman cruised into the trailhead parking lot and we headed upriver. We drove on Old River Road about as far as Steamboat Creek. Byrdman drove for a short ways on the Steamboat Creek Road, but it's a shaded road and the snow and ice haven't thawed off of it yet. Neither of us wanted to deal with this road in this condition. Byrdman found a good spot where he could turn around and we headed back down Old River Road.

3. We pulled into the parking lot of our destination, the Country Lane River Resort. Byrdman and I had visited the resort soon after Amy, LE, and Josh bought it and started running it and we wanted to see how the place was progressing physically and we knew, in our ongoing roam for foam, that recently the resort had put Radio Brewing's Silver Mountain IPA on tap.

We arrived and strolled right in and Amy was doing some cleaning in the kitchen. I, for one, didn't quite put it together that the resort was closed. I think Amy told us that they were open from Thurs. to Sunday until returning to seven days in May, and, to be honest, at that moment, I thought today was Thursday.

Well, with neither one of us realizing that we had walked into a bar that was closed, Byrdman and I each ordered a Silver Mountain IPA and Amy called Josh out to serve us.

Josh served us our beers and he and Byrdman and I entered into a long and most enjoyable session of yakking. 

At some point, I asked if I could order something to eat and Josh told me that the the stove was shut down because the resort was actually closed.

Then I got it. 

This bar is not actually open. We are getting special treatment. 

Gratitude swelled inside me. 

Josh was serving us, talking to us, without a hint of being put out -- and, he didn't have to. After all, by rights, the bar was closed. 

Then, out of the blue, Josh said, "You know, I could fire things up and cook you guys some French fries."

I was blown away and accepted his offer.

Then his offer grew.

"I could make you some steak fingers or chicken tenders if you like" -- and later he added a brat to what he'd be willing to cook.

This was turning into an awesome early afternoon.

The steak fingers and fries I ordered was just what I needed to go with the beer I'd been drinking. 

Josh and Byrdman and I yakked about the developments at the resort and Amy, LE, and Josh's plans for the future.  Josh told us about building he had done on high end houses at Black Rock and Gozzer Ranch for Edwards Smith Construction and showed us pictures of his work.

It was all fascinating and the food hit the spot and it didn't seem like Josh was impatient for us to leave.

But, soon the time to go arrived and Byrdman and I thanked Josh repeatedly for serving us, cooking for us, and we exchanged a warm farewell with LE who was doing resort business on her phone on the porch near where we were parked.

As we left, I felt just a twinge of embarrassment that it took me so long to realize that we had walked into the Country Lane River Resort bar when it was actually closed. I think I was oblivious to it being closed because I hadn't seen a "closed" sign and the door into the building was unlocked. 

But, beyond that twinge, I was stoked that Josh had taken it upon himself to wait on us, cook us food, and join us in awesome conversation.

In other words, as we left, I was pretty much blown away -- and so Byrdman and I added another awesome outing to our growing list of road trips, to our ongoing passion to roam for foam.