Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/18: Maggie Needs Surgery, The Return of Hot Wings, A's Lose

1. Soon after the Deke was up and around, she saw that Maggie had begun bleeding from near where her tail would be, had it not been cropped. She took Maggie to the vet and Maggie has a growth that needs to be surgically removed. Maggie stayed overnight at the vet and the vet will do the surgery sometime on Tuesday, 09/19. Maggie will have to wear a cone at home and we'll find out after the surgery what kind of home care she'll need and what we'll need to do as follow up to the surgery.

2. Yesterday, I had taken out about a dozen of those little chicken wings to thaw. I never see packages of them in Kellogg, but a couple of weeks ago, I found a pack at Pilgrim's in CdA. I used to cook up Buffalo wings fairly often when we lived in Eugene. I liked taking them to Russell and Anne's -- maybe only once -- when we used to watch the November Nine compete at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event (that final table now plays out in July). I once took them to a Super Bowl party at Pam and Michael's and I remember cooking up about a million wings for a birthday party in Eugene -- I think it was Billy Diedrich's birthday in 2012. 

So I mixed up some flour seasoned with a little cayenne and salt and black pepper, covered the wings, and fried them in butter. At the same time, I combined a half cup of Frank's Hot Sauce with a third of a cup of butter and melted them together. When the wings were done frying, I put them in a bowl and poured the hot sauce over them and made sure I evenly coated the wings.

In the past, I used to dip each wing individually in the butter and Frank's sauce. Next time I make wings, I'll do that again.

I surprised the Deke by making a side of Kraft macaroni and cheese out of the box. It was awesome. I also served up celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing and some cole slaw.

This was a very fun and delicious meal.

3. It was a lousy night for the Oakland A's.  I wanted to watch the whole game, and, while my spirit was willing, my flesh was weak and I went to bed, very sleepy (not bored), soon after the Angels' second sacker Kaleb Cowart hit a grand slam that followed a string of bad luck and lousy play on the part of the A's: a walk, an error, a hit batsman, and a fan gloving a foul ball that Stephen Piscotty most likely would have caught had the fan not snatched it -- all very costly to the A's.

(By the way, I've never understood what the big deal is about taking a souvenir baseball home from a ball game, especially if catching it means crossing in any way into the field of play to snag the ball. If I'm at a ball park and a ball is hit in the stands and a mob of 10-12 people converge on the ball and elbow and push each other to possess it, I can guarantee you that I will not be a part of the melee. And you would never see me lean out of the stands to grab a ball. Tuesday night, that ball snatching fan cost the A's a crucial out and the A's were playing at home!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/18: Getting Blood to Baltimore, Lamb Chop Debut, Wild Poker

1. Each month the transplant center in Baltimore sends me a letter regarding the status of the monthly blood sample I have drawn and sent to them. The letter I received Saturday informed me, without alarm, that the blood sample they received during the third week of July was, on the day they sent the letter, over forty days old. That means the sample I had drawn and sent out in August didn't make it to Baltimore -- for whatever reason. The same thing happened in June: my June sample never got to Baltimore.

So, first thing this morning, I zoomed up to the clinic, blood sample kit in hand, and had my September blood draw taken and talked with Tracy, the phlebotomist, about my samples not making it. Like me, she was bewildered, but she is determined to do what it might require to see that this doesn't happen again -- including making a visit to the post office herself -- and gave me an idea or two about what I might suggest to my transplant team in Baltimore.

The people I correspond with in Baltimore are really good -- and, they, too are bewildered that two of my samples didn't arrive. If this September sample doesn't make it, I'll talk with them about figuring out a different and possibly more reliable way of sending the transplant center my blood.

2. I thawed a couple of small boneless lamp chops to fix for dinner tonight. I'd never fixed lamb chops before.  I subscribe to the website at America's Test Kitchen, so I looked at some lamb chop recipes. One caught my eye. Now, this recipe was for grilling the lamb chop, so I let that part of the recipe go, but I liked the looks of making a garlic, rosemary, and olive oil paste for the chops. So, I got out my trusty mortar and pestle and smashed a couple cloves of garlic, added some rosemary leaves, crushed those together, stirred in some olive oil, applied the mixture to the lamb chops, put them in one of our permanent zip lock bags, and let the chops sit in the fridge for nearly two hours. I fried them for a few minutes on each side and they turned out really tasty, as did the roasted Brussel sprouts and cole slaw the Deke whipped up.

3. I settled in to watch the Astros and the Mariners, but, alas, the game was blacked out because of where I live. I decided to look at other options for television viewing on our very smart tv and, on PlutoTV, I found a channel that broadcasts replays of final tables of different WPT tournaments. I watched a thrilling duel between Olivier Busquet and Jeremy Brown as they battled heads up for the 2009 WPT Borgata Open in Atlantic City. In case you ever decide to watch the conclusion to this tournament, I won't divulge the results. It's entertaining. That's all I'll say.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/18: Nats Look Good, Cutting Back the Vine, Family Dinner and Memory

1. Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon smashed home runs. Rendon made one spectacular play at third base and Victor Robles made an astonishing catch in center field. The Washington Nationals looked solid up and down their lineup, both on defense and at the plate. They beat the Braves 6-4 and I wondered, not having seen them play this season and not having followed them closely, why are they out of the pennant race? What went wrong with the Nats this season? I also spent a few minutes lamenting that I never made a trip to Nationals Park to see them play when we lived in Maryland. Sigh.

2. A monstrous vine with a few trumpet shaped flowers has been growing on the east side of our front porch, almost obscuring the mailbox,  making it awkward for Hillary to deliver our mail, and grabbing onto the awning supports. I cut it way way back today and filled two waste cans with the green remains. I think the front porch looks better now and I'm happy we made life a little easier for Hillary.

3. Carol and Paul whipped up a superb family dinner tonight. Carol started us off with a little glass of raspberry liqueur which we sipped on in the living room until we joined together at the dinner table for packets of shrimp and beef sausage and delights from Carol and Paul's garden and a fresh dinner salad.

We had a lively conversation about memory and truth and fiction and non-fiction. I failed to bring it up, but our conversation reminded me of William Kittredge's insights in his memoir Hole in the Sky regarding how our character is shaped by the stories we learn to live inside of and live according to. I don't remember if Kittredge put it this way, but I know I began to think that the power of stories and the power of how we remember things lies less in their factual accuracy and more in the way stories shape our perceptions, feelings, values, and sense of our place in the world. I haven't read Tara Westover's book Educated, but it was Christy, Carol, and the Deke's discussion of this book that led us to talk about memory, stories, and the elusive nature of truth itself.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/18: 1968-Style Baseball, The Knotts at the Lounge, Taco Bar

1. Today's MLB.TV free game came on in the early afternoon from Wrigley Field in Chicago. I settled in and enjoyed watching the sun slowly descend as the game progressed, watching the shadow cast by the grandstands creep toward the pitcher's mound, watching hitters struggle a bit as pitches came out of the sunlight of the mound into the shadow that reached about thirty feet in front of home plate. It's the sight I most miss in the World Series now that teams play all games at night. I love watching autumn baseball in the golden light of mid-September on into October.

Today's game was kind of old-fashioned. The Cubs won 1-0. Not one player homered. The Cubs scratched out their only run in the bottom of the sixth when Javier Baez singled on an infield hit, advanced to second on a grounder to third base, and scored on Wilson Contreras' weakly struck bleeder through the infield to right field. Small ball doesn't get much tinier than that.

The Reds' Cody Reed pitched five innings and struck out ten Cubs. The Cubs' John Lester was equally masterful, pitching seven innings, surrendering only two hits, and striking out nine.

The game ended in a relatively swift 2 hours and 39 minutes.

2. I got a text from Cas from the Inland Lounge announcing that Don Knott was in the house, so the Deke and I piled in the Sube and dashed uptown. The Deke strolled up to Radio Brewing for a bite to eat and I joined Don, his brother Norm (whom I hadn't seen for about 50 years), his sister Shelley, and niece Marcy in a booth. They were getting ready to feast on food from Wah Hing -- Wah Hing adjoins the Inland Lounge and happily serves diners who want to eat in the Lounge.

We had a great time talking about what's happening these days with everyone and remembering this and that from the good old days. It was an awesome time.

3. Don stayed put for a while when Shelley took Norm up to Wardner and we chewed more fat and soon Shelley returned and picked up Don.

When Cas learned I hadn't eaten dinner yet, he invited me into a back room at the Lounge where Tracy had set up a taco bar for the two of them to snack at and invited me to make myself some tacos. So I plunged into the back room taco bar and nourished myself very gratefully. By this time the Deke meandered in. She got to meet Jerry and Sue Wise -- so now she's met three of the guys I have breakfast with on Friday mornings at Sam's.

It was another stellar evening at the Lounge. A couple or three drinks. A lot of ice water. Tacos. Good friends. The Deke and I loved it.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Louise Jackson Harrison's Celebration of Life (CORRECTION)

In my 09/14/18 Three Beautiful Things, I posted the wrong time for Louise Jackson Harrison's Celebration of Life. 

It will be on Saturday, Sept. 29th at 1:00.

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/18: Great Breakfast Crowd, Eugene Plans, Relaxin' at the Lounge and the Depot

1. The breakfast table at Sam's expanded this morning. Bob joined us. So did Dana.  It was especially fun to have Mike Stafford on board. Mike and I were pre-schoolers in the same neighborhood uptown over sixty years ago and now we see each other on occasion in Kellogg and join up with Ed and Terry and Jake and sometimes other guys for a Veterans' Day weekend in Pendleton, a fine tradition. A year and a half ago Mike and Ed soared in jet planes out to Maryland and the three of us toured D.C., Philadelphia, NYC, and took a drive out to eastern Maryland, among other things. We had a blast. At O'Hara's Pub and Restaurant in NYC we met a woman named Diana who had decided to come to NYC for a visit just to get away from it all. The four of us hit it off and enjoyed great conversation and, at breakfast today, Mike showed Ed and me an email he had just received a few days ago from Diana, expressing hope that the three of us were doing all right.

2. I've mentioned my friend, Jeff, many times on this blog. We worked and studied together at the Univ. of Oregon starting back in 1986 and both landed jobs at LCC where we were fellow instructors for many years. For at least twenty-five years, we've been in a coffee group together and Jeff and I have a really fun history together with the Grateful Dead and we used to go to the WOW Hall together regularly to hear jam bands like Zero, Nine Days Wonder, Little Women, and others back in the 1990s.

On August 26, Jeff's wife Louise died of a heart attack at this year's Klamath powwow. Her death shocked me and not being in Eugene where I could spend time with Jeff and our friends has weighed on me. Today, I spent a few hours writing to Jeff and I'll send the letter off soon after I read through it at least one more time.

Louise will be memorialized in a Celebration of Life on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1:00  at the LCC Longhouse.

The Deke and I already had a short trip planned to Eugene for the early part of the week of Sept. 24th. The Deke will go to her school's curriculum night and meet whatever parents attend so the parents can form a good impression of their children's soon to be teacher. The Deke's job starts around Nov. 1. The Deke also has business to tend to at the 4J District office.

We will extend our stay in Eugene and attend the Celebration of Life for Louise. Herb and Francoise agreed to let us stay longer with them and Carol and Paul are able to take care of Maggie and Charly until we return.

I'm very grateful this is all working out.

3. The Deke and I had a fun night on the town. Late in the afternoon, we dropped in the Inland Lounge and yakked with Cas and Tracy for a while and I had a good talk with Pat Kenyon, a serious one, about the recent passing away of his sister, Julie. I also saw Mike Grebil who told me his brother, Steve, one of my favorite baseball teammates over forty-five years ago, would be in town in October to hunt. Maybe we'll see each other.

The Deke and I left the Lounge to go down to the Hill St. Depot and as we were barreling down McKinley Ave., Ed was just starting to climb out of his pickup. I stopped, rolled down my window, and, on the spot, Ed agreed to meet us at Hill St. where he and the Deke and I gabbed about a bunch of stuff. The Deke and I hadn't seen Fitz or Deanne for a while and it was great yakkin' with them when each of them strolled in. In addition, Abby also popped in -- he and Fitz were meeting to arrange their spring training trip for 2019 -- and I enjoyed shooting the breeze with him and Fitz at the bar.

The Deke and I returned to the Inland Lounge. I got the lowdown first hand from Eddie Joe about the food truck (trailer, really) he just purchased and his plans for serving up hamburgers, tacos, nachos, and sausage dogs. If you are in North Idaho and happen to see a trailer called EJ's Eats, that's the latest entrepreneurial effort of Eddie Joe. Eddie Joe informed me, by the way, that a little later this fall he hopes to park his food trailer on Cameron Ave., just a little ways from our house.

I also had fun yakkin' with Riles and Martha and, once the Elks Burger Night closed shop, Harley and I sat together at the bar and Candy joined the Deke at her knitting station in a booth. As it got later and as I switched over to pint-sized glasses of ice water, things slowed down at the Lounge and the Deke had a good session of gabbing and laughter with Ashley. Meanwhile,  Cas took a break from behind the bar and we had time for some extended jabber about all kinds of things ranging from baseball to the Vietnam documentary we both have watched.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/18: Kidney News, Dark NYC History, The Fight for Greenwich Village

1. I started out the day with an appointment with N.P. Linda Jo Yawn to look over the blood work I had done last week and talk about my current state of health. I had pulled up the record of my blood work on Tuesday and the numbers troubled and mystified me.

I've lost more kidney function. My tests show I have 14% function, meaning my function has fallen into Stage 5, commonly known as End Stage Chronic Kidney Disease.

But, in every other area my blood levels are great.

Now, if decisions about treating this disease were based only on numbers, I'd be starting dialysis soon. But, it's not numbers, per se, that determine one starting dialysis. It's symptoms: itching, metallic taste in one's mouth, fatigue, nausea, edema, and others. As of now, I'm not experiencing any symptoms of renal failure.

As Linda Jo Yawn put it: "You look great. I go to the grocery store and I see people whom I can tell without knowing them are kidney patients by how they look. When I look at you, I don't see a kidney patient."

I'm not sure what to expect. My kidney function has been declining more over the last 9-10 months than at any other period of time over the last fourteen years, and, yet, I don't feel any different.  The levels of potassium, chloride, cholesterol, and other things are all within the normal range (somehow my blood is being properly filtered and regulated) and nothing bad showed up in my urine sample.

So, I see my nephrologist again in January. Linda Jo Yawn said she didn't need to see for six months unless I start feeling lousy.

I've decided that the best thing to do is wake up each day, assess whether any symptoms are beginning to show up, and, if none pop up, be grateful for another day of feeling pretty good, live it as honestly and fully as I can, and do my best not to get too anxious about what I can't do much about. Difficult days lie ahead -- but they aren't here quite yet.

2. Back home, I watched a couple innings of the Mets and the Marlins, but decided that what I was really wanting to do was watch more of The American Experience: New York.

Yesterday, in my 3BTs, I wondered if the documentary was going to plunge more deeply into the career of Robert Moses and the harm I've read his designs for public housing and building highways and expressways did to New York City, especially as these plans, once executed, devastated the neighborhoods of poor immigrants and blacks and other minorities.

It did.

The documentary's narration never used the phrase "systemic racism", but for anyone who doesn't understand this phrase or who doesn't buy into it, or, for anyone (like me) looking to understand the workings of systemic racism more fully and deeply, what this documentary explores in Episodes 6-7 paints a chilling picture of the systems of government and private enterprise (real estate developers, banks, property owners, and others) systematically treating racial and ethnic minorities as dispensable, as obstructions to progress, and as having neighborhoods unworthy of preservation and, in fact, in need of clearance. The discrimination, the racism is built into the structures and practices of power and in the enforcing of the destruction of neighborhoods and livelihoods. The consequences of what was called urban renewal were devastating and are long lasting.

3. Robert Moses stubbornly and fanatically pushed a plan to put an automobile expressway through Lower Manhattan. It required a wide swath of demolition in Greenwich Village and required demolition of Washington Square, parts of Little Italy, parts of Chinatown, and other neighborhoods across Manhattan. Led by the writer Jane Jacobs, whose writings argued against the current out with the old, in with the new urban renewal ideology of Robert Moses, the citizens of Lower Manhattan protested, jammed City Hall, and kept this expressway from being built.

Out these citizens' efforts and out of the grief New Yorkers suffered with the demolition earlier of Penn Station, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission came into being and, as a result, when we visit New York City today, Manhattan is not bifurcated or trifurcated by multi-lane expressways cutting through the island. Robert Moses' designs and efforts to build expressways through Manhattan were thwarted. And, thanks to this commission's work, such architectural wonders as St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Terminal, Washington Square, and many other magnificent structures are intact, functioning, and have benefited from restoration and cleaning (instead of clearing out) projects.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/18: Longing for the Tigers, Into the 20th Century in NYC, Cottage Cheese Balance

1. Today my free baseball game came on at 10:10 a.m. and featured the Astros and the Tigers. I longed for the days when I loved the Tigers, whether the 1968 Micky Lolich/Al Kaline/Willie Horton/Bill Freehan team or the 1984 Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker/Jack Morris or later teams up until 1999 when the Tigers played their last game in Tiger Stadium. Really, I guess that's it. When the Tigers moved to Comerica Park, I lost interest in their team. In the early 90s, I was a member of the Tiger Stadium Fan Club and it seriously aggrieved me when the Tigers left the park and tore it down. So, this morning, I missed the light tower's shadows slowly creeping over the playing field of Tiger Stadium, the overhanging upper deck in right field, and the ghosts of  Dick McAullife, Norm Cash, and Gates Brown and I lamented a bit that the 2018 version of the Detroit Tigers is kind of a lousy team.

I did, however, enjoy keeping an eye on the game. This is about the third time I've seen the Astros play this season and they have a dynamic team, powerful, speedy, fun-loving, and smartly managed. As they were a year ago, they will be a mighty squad to deal with when the playoffs roll around -- but, every day I hope they go on a little losing streak and the A's do the opposite and win the division -- but time and games are running out.

2. I took another deep plunge into The American Experience: New York today and watched with fascination as the documentary moved more deeply into the 20th century and I watched in horror and wonder as the stock market crashed and the Great Depression gripped New York City. The misery was horrible. The public works projects that got people back to work were a wonder as is the impact of the vision and drive of Robert Moses as parks and the Central Park were resurrected, as Moses imposed his vision of how to accommodate motor vehicles by building roadways intended to move people readily to and out of New York City. Apart from this documentary, I've read and listened to in podcasts the negative impacts of aspects of Moses' work and since I haven't quite finished the episode that deals with him, I don't know if Ric Burns will look at how Moses' designs injured different neighborhoods and peoples in New York.

3. The Deke took the combination of rice and braising liquid and leftover chicken from dinner last night and added zucchini and sweet peppers and cooked up a superb meal of leftovers. After I ate my bowl of this dinner, I suddenly remembered that I thought this food I cooked the night before would benefit from some balance, so I served myself some cottage cheese. I was right. Cottage cheese is an example of one of many foods I might have served alongside this curried chicken and rice to balance the (mildly) spicy flavors with something cool.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/18: Chromebook Problem, Braising a Whole Chicken, Reforming New York

1. My Chromebook has a screen problem so I took it out to the Mouse Pad. I learned that it suffered impact -- for the life of me, I don't know when, but it might have been when I had it in my pack on the New York trip. The problem is repairable, but would almost equal the cost of buying a new Chromebook, so I just might do that. I've liked my Chromebook because it's light and travels well. If I buy a new one, I will probably also buy a protective case for it.

2. I wanted to braise a whole chicken yesterday, but I didn't take it out in time to thaw it. Today, the chicken had thawed. I really wanted to slow cook it in an Indian braise, but, unfortunately, I don't have the curry paste or the spices on hand that I imagined would work well. (I needed to transport myself to the Chopped pantry!) Few of the items I wanted today are available in Kellogg.

Instead, I salt and peppered the chicken and put some salt crystals and some ginger slivers in the cavity, browned it on all sides and built a braising pyramid of onion slices, lemon slices, chopped eggplant, chopped sweet peppers, cilantro, ginger, celery greens and a few stalks, and basil.

Simultaneously, I combined coconut milk, green curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce for the braising liquid. I put the whole chicken on top of the pyramid and poured the curry sauce over it. It wasn't quite enough liquid, so I augmented it with whole milk and some water.

I constructed this braise in our Dutch oven. I brought the liquid to a boil, put the lid on, and put it in the oven at 275 degrees. Every half an hour or so, I removed excess liquid and poured the tasty liquid over the top of the whole chicken. I made a batch of jasmine rice. The liquid for the rice was two-thirds braising liquid and one third water.

When the chicken was tender, I removed the meat from the bones, strained all the greens and vegetables out of the liquid. I had used liquid I removed from the Dutch oven as the base for frying eggplant slices and topped them with Parmesan cheese. I put the strained liquid from the Dutch oven in a bowl and put the plate of chicken, the rice, the eggplant slices, and the braising liquid on the table and the Deke and I plunged into all.

It tasted good.

If I were to cook this dinner again, I'd plan ahead a little better and fix some kind of a leafy or even a fruit salad to balance out the flavors of the curry that were shot through the meal in the chicken, the rice, and the way I prepared the eggplant.

I think a better balanced meal would have tasted better and added more textures to what I served.

3. After dinner, I watched another two hour episode of The American Experience: New York.  Much of this episode took me back to when Margaret and I taught the course that combined American Working Class Literature and English Composition. This episode focused, in part, on the atrocious working conditions in New York City factories and sweatshops, especially in the garment industry. Reform efforts and the efforts of the relatively new unions failed in their efforts to improve these conditions, but, as this episode so harrowingly explored, it wasn't until nearly 150 women were either asphyxiated, burnt to death, crushed behind factory floor doors locked from the outside, or had their bodies shattered by jumping eight, nine, or ten stories to their deaths during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 25, 1911 near Washington Square in Greenwich Village, that, in time, government driven labor reform got underway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/18: History of New York City, Rockies Thump the Diamondbacks, Curried Ramen

1. Today, I watched another couple of episodes of the over seventeen hour documentary, American Experience: New York. I have now watched the documentary's coverage of New York City's history before the 20th century. The episodes I watched today focused on the unimaginable growth of wealth in New York City in the 19th century contrasted with the equally unimaginable increase in poverty, especially among immigrants who populated the squalid conditions of the tenements in the Lower East Side. What I watched today contrasted Walt Whitman's enthusiastic idealism regarding the energy and possibility immigrants brought to the USA with the horror of how employers and landlords exploited these people, crammed them into unthinkably vile slums, and paid the adults and children next to nothing for long hours of labor in factories and sweatshops.

These episodes also explored the wealth and the wealthy as New York City's energy and industry dazzled the word with the building of Central Park, the fourteen year construction of the Brooklyn Bridge (at its completion in 1883, nothing in New York City reached higher than the bridge's towers and its span), the dedication of the Statue of Liberty (1886), and the completion such marvelous public buildings as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NYC Public Library, St. Patrick's Cathedral, among others.

2. I haven't been paying much attention to the Colorado Rockies this season and today their game with their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks was my free game on MLB.TV.

Today I witnessed what makes the Rockies a formidable squad as they shellacked Arizona 13-2 with a barrage of timely hits, a bunt single (!), towering home runs by Trevor Story and David Dahl, and a superb pitching effort by German Marquez who struck out eleven Diamondbacks in seven innings -- and was the player who bunted for a hit.

3. The Deke left with Carol this afternoon for a trip to Moscow to hear the writer Tara Westover speak. I had planned on braising a whole chicken, but it didn't thaw in time, so I scrounged around the kitchen and made up a meal. I combined coconut milk, green curry paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a pan and warmed it up. Meanwhile, I chopped a couple of sweet peppers and about 2/3s of an eggplant and fried up those pieces. At the same time, I boiled a couple lumps of ramen noodles into softness. I combined all of these ingredients into a bowl and enjoyed my bowl of  green curry sauce over eggplant, sweet pepper, and ramen noodles. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/18: US Open Ends, The Red Sox Win, Comforting Sunday Family Dinner

1. Today was the last day of the US Open Tennis tournament.  I watched CoCo Vandeweighe and Ashleigh Barty's dramatic and scintillating -- and might I add, thrilling? -- women's doubles championship win over Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. Vandeweighe and Barty survived three match points -- two in the second set and one in the third -- and tenaciously played their way to the championship. I loved their celebration, their uninhibited joy, when the match ended.

I then settled in to watch Novak Djokovich and Juan Martin del Proto put on an engrossing display of power tennis, but, in the end, Djokovich was the far superior player. His game is remarkably complete, especially his talent for covering the entire court and his nearly unworldly skill at returning serve and returning his opponent's shots. Djokovich triumphed in straight sets and after he won the tie breaker in the second set, it was difficult to imagine del Proto mounting a comeback, hard to imagine him winning three sets in a row.

Both players, especially del Proto, have been stymied by injuries and I enjoyed seeing both of them appear to be in good shape.  But, honestly, I'm not sure there is a player out there who could have beaten Djokovic today.

2. Before heading over to Christy's for family dinner, I watched the start of the baseball game between two American League titans: the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. The game was tied 1-1 when I left, but, when I returned, the game was now tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, thirty-three year old Red Sox veteran Mitch Moreland, hacked a bloopy single off of Hector Rondon the opposite way to left field, scoring pinch runner Tzu-Wei Lin. This game was the third of a three game set. Houston had won the first two and avoiding the sweep meant a great deal to the Red Sox as evidenced by their ecstatic mobbing of Moreland and their unbridled celebration after the win.

3. Christy prepared a superb family dinner tonight. She fixed us each an Old Fashioned while we snacked on asparagus spears, nuts, and Gouda cheese. For dinner, she prepared one of her favorite recipes, handed over to her by the Sisters at Mt. St. Michael, overlooking Hillyard in Spokane. It's a zucchini chowder. Alongside the chowder she presented us with delicious wedges of roasted cabbage, baked with a sauce of butter, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and seasonings. Here in Kellogg, the temperature is starting to dip into the autumn range and this meal was a perfect compliment to the cooling temperatures. I love the comforting foods we can eat with the end of the summer heat and this meal perfectly comforted and nourished us.

You can find the baked cabbage recipe Christy worked from right here. The chowder recipe is typed out on paper and not available online!