Saturday, July 30, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/16: Heart Clinic Visit, Yoke's Shout Out, Gin and Plans

1.  Mom and I piled into her Malibu and entered into a zone of uncertain anticipation as we climbed the 4th of July Pass and buzzed around the north shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene on our way to the Kootenai Heart Clinic Northwest where we met up with Christy who was running errands in Coeur d'Alene.  In the exam room, we discussed what we knew: Mom's heart is experiencing atrial fibrillation. The forty-eight hours Mom spent with a heart monitor strapped to her last week gave the staff a detailed record of the atrial fibrillation and now there's a plan in place with medication to regulate her heart followed up with a visit with her cardiologist on August 19th to see how the medicine is working. Our hope is that this treatment will not only help Mom's heart function better, but alleviate her of the fatigue she's felt over the last several weeks.  Mom left the clinic happy to know this plan is in place and we hustled home, after she had some blood work done, so she could have some lunch and I could get her new medicine.

2. The pharmacy at Yoke's didn't have enough pills on hand to fill Mom's new order.  Let me digress for a second. This about the third or fourth time I've faced some kind of a problem at Yoke's Pharmacy and every single time, the people working there have been unfailingly helpful and cheerful. The pharmacist had enough pills on hand to dole out four days worth for Mom and I'll pick up the rest of the order on Monday afternoon.  The good service at Yoke's roused my gratitude for the superb service I've experienced over the last dozen years or so at Hiron's on 18th in Eugene, at the Target near Groveton in Alexandria, and at the Co-op in Greenbelt.

3.  After dinner, I strolled over to Christy and Everett's for a little gin over ice and discussed our plans for the next few days, especially because I get to go to Osburn for Bev Jacobs' 80th birthday party and take a trip to Worley for some food, drink, and reel spinning at the casino and see friends on Monday and Tuesday, if everything works out. I like to know what Christy and Carol are up to when I leave town and know that no one will ever be far from Mom's house when I'm gone.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/16: Mom's Cough Improves, First Corned Beef, Martini Nightcap

1. Mom talked with the professional at the heart clinic to find out if there was a reading of the heart monitor she wore last week and the upshot of her conversation was an appointment on Friday, the 29th. The best news about Mom today was that the cough that has bothered her for well over a week is subsiding.

2. Mom spotted a sale on corned beef a day or two ago. I had never cooked corned beef before, so I read up on it and at about nine in the morning put carrots and onions in the bottom of the crock pot, laid the corned beef on top of it, poured beef broth and beer over the corned beef, added spices and let the liquids bubble for a few hours and then added red potatoes and cabbage and we ate our dinner on the comfortable deck at about 5:30.  I have to say, my first go at cooking corned beef was a success.

3. After Mom went to bed around 9:00, I slipped next door to Christy's for a couple of gin martinis and shot the breeze for a whle, a relaxing way to close the day.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/16: My Sisters Buoy Mom's Spirits, Wedding Preparations, Throwback Dinner

1. Carol is coming over to Mom's in the morning to make her breakfast and lunch and to do other tasks. Not only is this a great help in keeping Mom's household running and an aid to her physical comfort, and, even more, it's a boost to Mom's morale that she can count on Carol's company each morning. As a bonus, Carol brings the family Pomeranian, Sadie, over and Mom coos over her and gives her a treat.  It's an uplifting way for Mom to start the day. Today, Mom says she felt "so-so", but she was doing slightly better than the previous couple of days. I know her day was made better by Christy coming over, Carol coming over and returning, and by the conversations they had about the wedding shower for Molly that Christy will host in a couple of weeks and other things.

2. I will be the officiant for Scott and Cate's wedding in October. Today I worked with the outline of the service they sent me to start to compose the words of the service and I read a variety of poems and other passages that might bring inspiration and dignity to their ceremony.

3.  I was happy that the ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup I combined in a bowl fried up fairly well and gave Christy, Mom, and me the illusion we were eating meatloaf for dinner. We all enjoyed the red potatoes I boiled and fried, seasoned with bacon and onion, and the salad I made from lettuce I harvested in Mom's back yard. For old times' sake, we also enjoyed a can of Del Monte whole kernel corn and, for a minute, I thought I was back at the family dinner table fifty years ago.  Canned corn was a staple.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/16: Mom Update, Dinner on the Deck, Longing

1.  Mom continues to be fatigued, but her energy was better today than yesterday.  She tried to take a nap late in the afternoon, but she couldn't sleep once she lay down on her bed.  She hasn't heard news just yet about the reading of her heart monitor and I think the waiting is making her anxious. The plan was to hear from the clinic on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I hope we get some news on Wednesday.

2.  I assumed dinner responsibilities tonight and found a simple recipe involving ground beef, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and seasonings. The recipe called for this mixture to be put in the oven. That didn't make sense to me, so I combined and cooked the ingredients (I added red pepper) in the cast iron skillet and then put it all in the crock pot. I boiled some noodles (or is it pasta? I'm not sure), let them cool, and added them into the crock pot about a half an hour before dinner. I also baked beer bread from a box mix and added celery, radishes, cucumber, and grape tomatoes to a Caesar salad kit to make a salad. Christy, Everett, Mom, and I enjoyed this dinner on Mom's deck, relieved as the ninety degree day slowly cooled off in the evening shade.

3.  The Deke sent me a picture of the interior of Quench, one of our favorite taprooms in Maryland. It made me happy that she was enjoying a couple beers and a wrap. At the same time, I couldn't suppress the feeling of longing to be with her, talking things over, having a few laughs, and enjoying some offerings from Quench's always reliable tap list.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/16: Farewell, Breakfast in CdA, Mom Overcomes Fatigue

1.  I woke up this morning on the ninth floor of the Red Lion at the Park and gazed nostalgically at Riverfront Park and other Spokane landmarks and bridges before getting cleaned up and sadly driving the Deke to the Spokane International Airport and watched her disappear pulling her suitcase toward the checkout counter. Now my decision looms: when do I return to the Old Line State?

2.  On my way back to Kellogg, I stopped in Breakfast Town (my nickname for Coeur d'Alene) at the Breakfast Nook and relished the three plump sausage links, a couple of eggs over medium, crispy hash browns, sourdough toast and several cups of solid diner coffee I ordered.

3.  I didn't get a chance at dinner to ask Christy what went into the way she combined leftover cabbage and pork chops into the delicious, kimchi-like dish we had tonight in hers and Everett's back yard. I loved it. I was also happy that Mom made it over to Christy's. Mom had had a very tired day. She was feeling the fatigue of having gone to see The Music Man in Coeur d'Alene on Sunday. At about four in the afternoon, after nodding off and waking herself up in her chair all day, she submitted to her fatigue and took a nap in her room, something she does only very rarely. I think that nap did her a ton of good, helping her rally not only to go to dinner, but to make a tour with me of her tomatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, and other garden delights.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/16: Mom's Day Out, Back to the Daft, Blackbird Beers BONUS! Manito Tap House

1.  It was good to see Mom get a little bit gussied up and head off to Coeur d'Alene with Carol and Paul to see a production of The Music Man at the Kroc Center.  I learned by messages I received later in the day from Christy and Carol that Mom enjoyed the show a lot and was pretty tired by the time she returned home.

2. Today was the Deke's last day in the Inland Empire before flying back to Maryland on Monday, so we did a little going out together before spending the night at the Red Lion at the Park in Spokane.  We began our fun afternoon and evening at the Daft Badger and split a heavenly basil and pesto BLT. Our beers were superb: the Deke had a couple small Summer's Envy and I was kind of blown away by my small pour of Windigo Indian Brown Ale and, for dessert, I enjoyed a Perfect Peach ale.  For many reasons, I wish the Deke could stay longer, but maybe what I'll miss the most when I'm here in North Idaho without her is enjoying the splendid food and beer at the Daft Badger.

3.  Once in Spokane, we strolled across the street from the hotel to the Blackbird Tavern and sat at the bar and enjoyed short pours of a couple of old favorites.  Because it was a limited release ale, I never thought I'd drink a Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 001 again. It disappeared from where we drink and buy beer in Maryland a couple of months ago, but the Blackbird had a keg on tap and I loved tasting it again.  The Deke hadn't had a Breakside Carmel Salted Stout since we left Oregon in 2014 and she and the stout had a happy reunion. We ended our session at Blackbird by sharing a 7 oz pour of Lost Abbey's Angel's Share, a beautiful and potent brandy barrel-aged American Strong Ale. It was boozy, hoppy, and brandy sweet all at the same time.

BONUS!  Later on, the Deke and I cruised by the Altadena Apartments where I lived thirty-two years ago on our way up Grand Boulevard and dinner at the Mantio Tap House where I ate a filling and delicious blackened mac and cheese and the Deke loved her Caesar salad.  Once again, short pours: the Deke loved her Brother Double IPA from Fremont Brewing and I transported myself back to Eugene for a Ninkasi Maiden the Shade.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/16: Remembering the Kopper Keg, Chef Christy, *CSI:Miami*

1.  It was a slow day here at Mom's and so I took some time to complete the latest Sibling Assignment by writing about the good times I had at the Kopper Keg in Kellogg over forty years ago and also wrote about all the stuff I never did, about what a cautious and tame guy I was, leading me to think sometimes that I'm not really a true North Idahoan the way so many of my friends are -- friends who can regale me for hours with stories of the wild stuff they used to do.  You can read my post, here.

2.  Christy prepared an awesome dinner and she and Everett walked it through the back yard gate over to Mom's deck.  Christy cooked up juicy pork chops, made a creative rice dish, assembled a very tasty cole slaw, and warmed up a chewy baguette.  She topped off this little feast with a strawberry cake served with Tillamook strawberry ice cream. All I did was cook up some broccoli.  The evening air was perfectly comfortable, making our dinner even more enjoyable.

3.  I don't know if CSI: Miami, with its fashion magazine looking characters and its forensic work being done in a setting that looks like a space ship and its whooshy production values is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I sure get a kick out of it. I especially find myself laughing out loud at the world-weary, melodramatic, laconic Lieutenant Horatio Caine and his sideways body language, cheesy one-liners, and strategic removing of his sunglasses. I watched a couple episodes tonight and marveled at the beautiful people, the bright tropical colors, and the outlandish story lines and enjoyed having some laughs -- hoping I was laughing with the show, not at it!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sibling Assignment #183: The Kopper Keg and Who I've Never Been and Who I Am Today

About a week ago, I thought up this assignment for me and my sisters.  Here it is:

Last night I was in Best Shots. I admired how it looks now and remembered what it looked like over forty years ago. It triggered memories and stories about the Kopper Keg back in my college days. Write about a place you have been to recently in Kellogg, Cd'A, Moscow, or anywhere else, that is different now than it was in your late teens or early twenties. Write about the physical place then and now and the memories and stories the place triggers. 
Christy revisits and remembers the old Sunnyside Elementary School building, here.  Carol's post is still to come. 

The Best Shots Sports Bar looks way different than the good old Kopper Keg did.  The air hockey table is gone. Gone are the pool tables. If the walls were decorated back in the old Kopper Keg, I suppose it would have been with beer signs and plaques advertising Lucky Lager beer. Now, the walls boast life-like pictures of Gonzaga men's baskeball players and coaches along with tributes to other sports and images from the events of 09/11/01. 

Both times that I've been to Best Shots in the last couple of weeks, the place started filling up with ghosts of my nights in there back in 1973, soon after I reached Idaho's drinking age of 19, through the next few years. 

Many of these memories came back last night when I was sitting around a bonfire up the North Fork with friends I graduated from high school with.  Stories surfaced.  Goose and Lars put in at Silverton with plans to float the Lead Creek from there to the Kopper Keg. A fight broke out one night when Wayne Sharp knocked over my friends' five dollar pitcher of Bloody Marys.  I remembered stories of my friends closing down the Kopper Keg and going on road trips in the middle of the night to British Columbia or western Montana or to other places in North Idaho.  I remember hearing about picking up girls with the help of CB radios.  I remember hearing about shooting guns at Montana cattle or scaring guys fishing the Clark Fork River. 

These stories make me laugh.

They also remind me how tame I was in my late teens and early twenties and how I am, in so many ways, not what is usually thought of as a North Idaho guy.

Except for the fact that I worked at the Bunker, I don't have much North Idaho "street cred". 

I never went on a not-long-after-midnight road trip.

I never played illegal black jack or any other card game in the Kopper Keg's back room. Or anywhere else.

It's made me think of all the other things my friends from high school talk about that I never did.

I never owned a gun.

I haven't shot a firearm since I took NRA safety training in junior high.

I've never gone hunting.

I've operated a four-wheeler once. 

I have never skied.

I never visited a whore house in Wallace. 

I fished a couple of times off a dock at Rose Lake before I was a teen -- and never fished again.

Until our senior party in late May, 1972, I never went to a keg party in high school.  I didn't really start drinking beer until my first year of college.

I water skied once.

I've never operated a motorcycle.

Until I joined high school friends in July, 2007 for my first shot at it, I had never floated the North Fork in an inner tube, on a raft, or in any other way.

I never dove or jumped off the Black Bridge or the Silver Bridge. Or any other bridge anywhere.  In fact, I rarely jumped off the high dive at the Kellogg City Pool.

When my friends get together, and the stories start to roll out, I don't have any to tell.  All I can ever say is, "Wasn't there a time you guys rented an RV for a Schweitzer Basin blow out? Wasn't there a time you did something like push someone's car over the U.S./Canada border because it had a flat tire or something? Didn't someone push Hog's car into the North Fork?"  

I w
asn't there for any of this stuff and I'm not even sure I have the facts right when I bring them up.

All the same, even though I don't have any great stories to tell, I love remembering afternoons and nights at the Kopper Keg. 

What did I enjoy so much? 

Well, the thing I enjoyed the most was nights when I strolled in and drank beer and shot the breeze with friends. 

I was going to school at North Idaho College and other friends were working in Kellogg, others joined the military, and others went to college in Moscow or Pocatello or Spokane or Walla Walla -- and maybe other places, too.

I'd go a while without seeing friends and either by design or by accident, we'd all pop into the Keg.

I remember one night, maybe it was my sophomore year, I'm not sure, Terry Turner and some friends decided on the spur of the moment to take a road trip from Pocatello to Kellogg and so, on this night, I was sitting in the Keg over a schooner of Lucky Lager, and, suddenly, a cry went up from near the door:  "TURNER!"

Suddenly a relaxing evening turned into an adrenaline rush and we bought pitchers of beer and the stories and laughs started to cascade and I was in my element, one of my best friends was back home with friends from his school and we got to help them enjoy life at the Kopper Keg.

I really haven't changed much over the last forty years or so when it comes to drinking beer.

The closest I ever came to doing anything wild was at our KHS ten year reunion when Don K. and I sat on the rack on Turner's car trunk, going from Dirty Ernie's to the Kopper Keg, holding a bottle of beer in one hand, and waving to the imaginary crowds lining McKinley Avenue for the Elks parade with the other.  When we saw Officer Dan Schierman pass us going the other way, we threw our beer bottles against the wall beneath John George's house, and, when we got pulled over in the parking lot across the street from the Keg, we told the officer we would clean up the beer bottle glass and go home, and then immediately disobeyed him by not cleaning up the glass and going back to Dirty Ernie's where we drank deep into the morning, long after the joint should have closed.

To this day, just like at the Kopper Keg, I love getting together with friends, whether friends from my Kellogg days or friends from Eugene, drinking some beer, and shooting the breeze.

These sessions today, just like my sessions at the Kopper Keg, don't leave me with great stories to tell, but they make me very happy.

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/16: Good Boring Day, Elks Club Burgers, Bonfire Up the River

1.  It was a low key day at Mom's today -- the house cleaner came in, Lura and Lyle headed back to Orofino, Mom finished her 48 hours with the heart monitor and Christy returned it to CdA, I got Mom's laundry done, and I went to the Humdinger and picked up Mom and the Deke burgers and fries. If this all sounds boring, it was the good kind of boring.

2. I raced out to Kingston and picked up Ed and the skies opened up and we drove through a good old North Idaho downpour to where Wanda and Sharon have property up the North Fork and sat in the Malibu waiting for the deluge to stop when my cell phone rang. I answered. It was Stu.

Stu: "Hi! Where are you?"
Me: "Up the river."
S. "No one's there."
M. "I know. It's raining."
S. "We're all at the Elks for burgers."
M. "Oh. See ya soon."

So Ed and I jetted down I-90 under a double rainbow to the Kellogg Elks Club and sat down at a round table with Stu, Joni, Wanda, Lars, and Goose for a couple of beers and the best cheeseburger and hand cut fries I've eaten in years.

3. Our party moved from the Kellogg Elks Club back up the river. Goose had a couple of Montana IPAs in his cooler, so I got to enjoy a Big Sky IPA and, later, I took a can of Double Haul IPA home.  I'll enjoy it as soon as possible.  It was great to see Danny and Sharon and sit in a circle around a crackling bonfire -- lots of great stories and getting caught up with friends I've know for practically my whole life.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/16: Heart Monitor Glitch, Good Beer Talk, Chef Lura

1.  Mom is wearing a heart monitor and it came apart during the night and so she lost some time having her heart rate measured and lost sleep trying to put it back together again. She got the cord hooked back into it, but she lost sleep and was tired throughout the day.

2. The Deke and I slipped away for a little while and enjoyed some small beers and good conversation at the City Limits, and, after we returned to Mom's, the Deke decided to change her flight back to Maryland and leave on Monday instead of on Friday.

3.  Lura threw a ham into the crock pot and smashed up some potatoes and we had a great dinner on Mom's back deck. It was especially good that Mom rallied and had a good time eating with the rest of the family.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/20/16: Mom's Check Up, Hi Dale!, Delicious Family Dinner

1. Mom and Christy and I drove down to Coeur d'Alene so Mom could have a check up at the heart clinic. Mom got a good report, keeping in mind that she is experiencing Stage C heart failure. As with my experience with Stage IV kidney disease, the goal is staying steady, not getting worse. Mom's blood pressure and weight have been stable over the last two weeks and her high heart rate is a concern. Mom came home wearing a heart monitor for forty eight hours with the likelihood that she'll have the dosage increased for a medicine that slows down her heart rate. All in all, all things considered, it was a positive visit.

2. I took Mom's car down to the service center for an oil change and, on my walk back to Mom's, Dale Costa saw me, called out my name, and we had a fun talk about how much he is enjoying retirement and shared news about our families.

3. Carol and Paul hosted a dinner cooked by their future son-in-law, Travis, who loves to cook and is really good. He prepared grilled chicken with a huckleberry coating, bacon wrapped dates (or were they figs?), and a pasta salad. It was a comfortable evening under the generous shade of the Roberts' tri-color beech tree and it was fun getting Lura, Lyle, the Deke, Mom, Christy, Everett, Carol, Paul, Molly, and Travis all together for a great dinner.  Mom needed to go home early, so I brought her back, and later the get together continued in Christy and Everett's back yard. I have to admit that I pooped out early during the post-party party. I simply ran out of energy.