Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/13: Rain in Eugene, So Long Lane K, Football Américain et Haute Cuisine Chez Troxstar

1.   The rain has fallen hard and the wind has been formidable at times.  It reminds me of when I was a senior in high school and I went to see "Sometimes a Great Notion" at the Rena in Kellogg.   The movie took place in Oregon's Coast Range and the rain impressed me, actually attracted me, and I thought I'd like to live in rain like that one day.  Now I do.  It's been a while since we've had a rainstorm as strong has this weekend and it's not as romantic to me now as it was when I saw "Sometimes a Great Notion", but I took strange comfort today in experiencing the rain as I imagined it would be before I moved here in 1979. 

2.  USC's firing of their football coach, Lane Kiffin, inspired friends and I to get our snide on with each other on Facebook.  The Trojans finally decided it was time to send the youngster home with his Scooby Doo lunch pail and his PBJ sandwich half eaten.

3.  I was honored to be invited to Chez Troxstar this evening to watch the New England Patriots bury the Atlanta Falcons, to relax with some Lagunitas Czech Pilsner and a glass of Oakshire Oktoberfest, and join the Troxstar Family Unit in satisfying our raging appetites during this angry western Oregon rain and wind storm with a feast consisting of the finest cuisine Kentucky Fried Chicken has to offer:  Original Chicken (with 11 herbs and spices -- although I could only taste 9), Extra Crispy Chicken, fresh, juicy corn on the cob, feathery biscuits with buttery spread and honey sauce, KFC bbq baked beans, and KFC's own creamy cheddar macaroni and cheese.  I didn't get a chance to eat any of the beans or pasta, but the one hand breaded chicken breast, single biscuit, and two chunks of corn on the cob left me dazed, and so satisfied that I might have fulfilled a lifetime of craving for KFC in one single meal.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/13: Lunch at Pure, Money at Home, Buscemi Plays a Chameleon

1.  Russell and I went to Pure for lunch where I enjoyed a tasty chicken udon soup and a slendid  spicy scallop ice cream cone looking sushi roll.  My big toe feels much better, but I wasn't quite ready to work it out on a photo stroll just yet, so after lunch we sat in front of the 5th Street Market, enjoyed a hot drink, and continued our lunch discussion of everything from the NFL to Pacific Rim.

2.  I've got a better understanding of our household finances.  I don't have a complete understanding, but a better one.  Taking a closer look is enlightening, mostly in good ways.

3.  After watching the first episode of the first season of Boardwalk Empire, I know what I enjoyed the most:  seeing Steve Buscemi in a leading role, watching him play a duplicitous City Treasurer capable, in an instant, to play whatever role, show whatever face, speak whatever language, including teetotaler, enforcer, cajoler, corrupt politician, cutthroat avenger, comforter, philanthropist, philanderer, for starters, the moment calls for. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/13: Toe Progress, Troxstar is Human, Biscuits at St. Mary's, BONUS Big Black Jack is Back

1.  My big toe is not completely healed quite yet, but I walked most of the day without a limp and it is getting more and more flexible.  I think something like complete healing is in the not too distant future.

2.  To celebrate the slow improvement of my big toe, I joined the Senior Warden and his Missus for a fine bacon and eggs breakfast at Brails and discovered that even if he is the Troxstar and she is the Mme. Troxstar, that even when people are this high on the food chain, the challenge of raising kids who are teenagers can be overwhelming. 

3.  I trotted my injured big toe, via Subaru, over to St. Mary's Episcopal Church to join with Kathryn to make buttery biscuit dough so that biscuits can be baked and served to the many, many men and women in need who will arrive tomorrow morning for Saturday Breakfast at the church.  It's really fun preparing this dough and having such wonderful conversation with Kathryn, peppered with a lot of laughs.  Today, we baked a small batch of the biscuits and took them out into the church building and people who were lucky enough to be hanging out at St. Mary's got to eat a light, buttery biscuit with butter and jam.

BONUS: I'll add to what I've written here that the Deke and I went to the Sixteen Tons Cafe and enjoyed drinking some of Oakshire's Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter.  I drank mine slowly so it would warm up a bit. I enjoy it more when it's not too chilled.  I love this time of year when the fall seasonal ales emerge.  I also know that I have to be careful:  the alcohol content of these ales can be pretty strong.  I was careful this evening, happy to say. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/13: My Toe, My Toe, My Toe

1.  I sat with my foot elevated and iced it for twenty minutes followed by an hour of no ice all day today.

2.  The Deke and I met Chris, Melissa, and Helena at Billy Mac's and while I sipped on a margarita and ate my chicken Caesar salad wrap, I could feel the swelling go down and the pain subside in my toe.

3.  After experiencing the miraculous healing power of dinner and drinks and good company at Billy Mac's, I came home and checked my toe and, sure enough, it's looking better.  It's not the normal size of the other toe yet, but it no longer looks as red and angry either.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/13: Stay Put, Back to the Farm, Riveting

1.  Rest.  Elevate. Ice.  Stop running errands for a day or two.  Stay put.  Ice for twenty minutes every hour.  Tomorrow I will stay put.  I'll rest.  My toe got really angry today because I did too much.  I enjoyed the outings, aside from the pain, but I must stay put and give this injury more time to heal.

2.  Yes, because of my stupid toe, it was painful walking in the midst of the cucumbers, apples, garlic, zucchini, serrano peppers, frozen blueberries, and other wonderful products at Lone Pine Farms, but I couldn't stop myself from going out so I could come home and make green salsa with a pound or so of tomatillos and have the vegetables ready for future dinners and lunches for the Deke.

3.  Back in 2006 and 2007, and even into 2008, it seemed I was discovering a new blog to read every week, sometimes every day and now many of the writers of these blogs have discontinued them.  Today I dived into the blog of a friend who recently told me in an email she was blogging on occasion and I found her writing riveting in its honesty and often harrowing in its content. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/13: Big Toe Exam, Dreams and Verbs and Beer at the Bier Stein, Home at Billy Mac's

1.  This right big toe of mine hurts, but it's not debilitating which pretty much ruled out the gout.  I went to a doctor today and she was mystified by what she saw and poked at and we devised a treatment plan:  ice, elevation, plenty of fluids.  I'll continue to treat the toe and be patient. 

2.  I picked up the Deke at school and we decided to talk and dream about the future some more and talk about the power of verbs at the Bier Stein and I drank a pint of English sweetness:  Old Speckled Hen.  Then I decided to venture to Germany for a half pint of Spaten Oktoberfest and a half of an Ayinger Oktoberfest.  Splendid stuff.

3.  The Deke and I decided to see what was happening at Billy Mac's.  It was quiet when we arrived and we took our seats at the bar and had dinner, I had some Hefeweizen liquid wheat, and we continued our conversations.  I now have the feeling of really being back home in Eugene again:  that's what Billy Mac's does for me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/13: Home Again, Enjoyment, The Deke in the Kitchen

1.  Getting up this morning from my own bed to the sounds of the corgis peeing and barking in the backyard and fixing Deke and me some coffee and having a bowl of oatmeal that the Deke prepared all contributed to how happy I feel to be home again and to be getting back into the pace of life here in Eugene.

2.  I had a rousing two hour coffee time with MB, Michael, and Jeff and, as always, came to realize that my friends think about all kinds of things and are troubled by things that never cross my mind, making me think that sometimes I live in a zone of bliss untroubled by many of the things and the people that annoy not only my friends, but many others as well.  I think I enjoy a lot of people and a lot of things in my life and don't get around to critical analysis.  Elton John is a good example.  So is the poetry of Shakespeare's Richard II.  My guess is I'm wired more to uncritically enjoy a lot of people and music and movies, with some exceptions(I can rant...that's for sure), than I am wired toward making assessments and being bugged.

3.  The Deke took over the kitchen when I was gone and she concocted some salads and other dishes with grains and vegetables that fit perfectly into my kidney friendly diet and that taste really good.  I'm very grateful. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/13: Torn Between Kellogg and Eugene, Riding with Don Knott, Back with the Deke

1.  Mom and I put flannel sheets on the twin bed in the basement in anticipation of Christy's visit in mid-October, looked everywhere to see if I was leaving anything behind, and at 12:50 p.m. said our goodbyes as my two week stay in Kellogg came to an end.  Mom expressed gratitude for the way we got work done in the yard and gardens and in the house and I know she was grateful for the trips we made to Spokane, Orofino, Priest River, and Sandpoint.  I'd like to be two places at once:  in Eugene with the Deke, visiting the fine pubs we like to frequent, enjoying worship and fellowship at St. Mary's Episcopal Church,  taking pictures with Russell, spending time with my great friends here and being just two hours from T.A.T. and an hour from R.C.P. (charter members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys), and cherishing the fine life we have here -- and, in Kellogg, spending time with Mom, helping out with little projects, seeing my sisters and their families, enjoying the beauty of North Idaho and Eastern Washington, and spending time with the North Idaho/Eastern Washington members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys.  I never get used to this divided life I live, always torn between two places I love and all that they encompass.  It's taken me many years to say I love Eugene, but I do love it here: the moderate weather, the church, the beer, Billy Mac's, Falling Sky Pour House, Sixteen Tons, the Bijou Metro, my five, ten, twenty, even thirty years long friendships with people I teach and have taught with (Eugene members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys/Gals), the Corgis, my doctors, and there's more.  All of this was swimming in my mind as I walked out the door at Mom's house to stroll down to Don Knott's house and climb in his pickup for a ride to Spokane International Airport.

2.  Riding with charter member of the HOFOGG Don Knott was awesome.  The hour trip seemed like ten minutes as we talked non-stop about everything from the Occupy movement to Silver Valley Men's League basketball and the cast of players who played for Johnny's Bar over the years.

3.  The Deke picked me up at the airport and we headed straight to Cornucopia where I enjoyed a couple of Ninkasi Oktoberfest beers and we shared a pepperoni personal pizza.  We launched right into the calm and thoughtful discussion we've been having for a long time about what we want our future to be, trying to sort out how to live with being in Eugene while family members live in Kellogg, Portland, Chicago, New York state, and Virginia.  We never quite figure out how to be six places at once.  We never quite figure out with any finality what we are going to do in the next five to ten years, but the talking is smart, calm, cooperative, encouraging, and productive.  Whatever we figure out, we'll be happy with each other.  That's the great thing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/13: Painless Big Toe Tomahawk Jam, Epic Soccer Match, Wouldn't That Planter Look Better Over Here?

1.  My big toe is hardly swollen at all and feels about 95% healed.  It felt so good this morning that I took a basketball up to Andrews Gymnasium at Kellogg High School and, for old times sake, started at half court, dribbled about three times, launched myself at the free throw line, and threw down a sick tomahawk jam.  I've still got my jumps.

2.  I drove Mom and me to Priest River, Idaho for the epic soccer clash between the Kellogg Lady Wildcats and the Priest River Spartans.  My niece Cosette was dominant as the Wildcats' sweeper as evidenced by the shutout Kellogg pitched in their 2-0 victory over Priest River.

3.  After I tried to parallel park in front of MickDuff's Brewing Company in Sandpoint and moved a street planter about a foot and a half and then found an easier parking place, Mom and I joined the rest of the family inside MickDuff's and we enjoyed a fine post-soccer match meal.  I especially enjoyed MickDuff's Knot Tree Porter, first in a half and half with their Tipsy Toehead Blonde Ale and then on its own.  I love it when I go to a place that has a solid, toasty, deep black porter.  (Before we went into MickDuff's, I put the planter I backed into back in its original spot and left Sandpoint without moving any other planters or street art.)

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/13: THe Heart of Burke, City Limits Lunch, Taco Friday

1.  Carol and I went into the urban jungle of Burke, Idaho to look at the ruins of past mining operations and to take pictures.  We had a lot of fun, although I wasn't very impressed with my pictures the first time I looked at them.  Maybe they'll look better the second time around...

2.  Carol and I had lunch at the City Limits pub in Wallace and each enjoyed a gyro with loaded potato soup.  I order myself a Blueberry Cream Ale and it was just what I wanted:  light, tasty, and with just a hint of the blueberry.  Very satisfying.

3.  Mom turned the cooking duties over to me, and so I got to prepare the ground beef and chopped up the olives and tomatoes and grate the cheese and warm up the corn tortillas for a taco dinner.  We got to use up a lot of Mom's tomatillo green salsa on the tacos and to dip corn chips in.  I'm never quite sure when I can encroach upon Mom's routines in the kitchen.  I was very happy to be asked to fix dinner tonight and had a lot of fun preparing it.  Bonus:  Carol, Paul, Molly, and Mom enjoyed their tacos. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/13: Favorite Child Status, Toe Update, Dinner and Memories of High School

1.  Today I secured my place as my mom's favorite child when I was the one chosen to pull all the living room furniture out and vacuum behind them, wash the woodwork, and vacuum all the furniture.  Knowing I got to do this chore, my sisters may never speak to me again.

2.  After looking at all kinds of medical information, Mom and I agree that something is wrong with my big toe, but my pain doesn't seem to rise to the level of the gout.  My toe is settling down. 

3.  It was almost like being a teenager again enjoying Mom's dinner tonight:  pork roast, boiled potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, and salad with bleu cheese dressing. For a few minutes, I thought I'd just come home from basketball practice. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/13: Hall of Fame of Great Guys Day: Guiness Blends, BiPlane Brewing, The Legends

1.  My afternoon and evening with members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys began with a black and tan and a black and Spaten with Byrdman while listening to classic rock and some tunes from the sixties. 

2.  Byrdman and I continued by stopping in at the BiPlane Brewing Company, a tiny brewery and pub in Post Falls.  The owner's brother took us behind the scenes to see his brewing operation and I enjoyed some conversation with Byrdman and Doug, the owner, about Kezar Stadium and the John Brodie/Woody Peoples/Dave Parks/ Dave Wilcox/Matt Hazletine San Francisco 49ers of our youth. I found the Bristol Bulldog Brown Ale and the Raspberry Wheat Ale tasty. 

3.  Byrdman and I met two members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys, Stu and Lars,  at The Legends in Liberty Lake for splendid service, nachos, a meal, a couple of beers, and wide-ranging conversation, story-telling, and reminiscing.  We got some good laughs talking about stuff that happened in our youths in Kellogg and beamed all through dinner, our faces aching from laughing so much. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/13: Big Toe, Hollies Transplanted, Visit with Carol

1.  My angry big toe is settling down. The red is less red.  The swelling is going down.

2.  Mom wanted her two hollies to be more visible, so I transplanted them from their obscure location in the back of Mom's perennial garden into spots closer to the front of the bed.

3.  I went over to Carol's to deliver Grandma Woolum's sewing machine, a vintage pitcher from Lila's estate, some Fresh Start nectarines, a bag of Christy's cucumbers,  a donation check from Mom, saw the cairn Paul has constructed in memory of Peaches, and got caught up on some of the word scurrying up and down the cracked streets of Kellogg.  For example, the middle school robbers have been apprehended and much of the property recovered. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/13: Cruising Orofino, Idaho Photographs in my Mind, Big Toe on the Rocks

1.  Mom and I took a tour of Orofino, Idaho and, from the car, Mom pointed out houses she had lived in, the homes of friends and doctors, and where past businesses used to be located.  We cruised Michigan, Brown, Johnson, Kalaspo, College, and other streets and avenues and took a little drive through Jingletown to Ahsahka. 

2.  After lunch at the China Palace in the heart of Orofino, Mom and I headed up the Cavendish Hill and drove through Cavendish and Southwick on our way to Deary to Troy to Moscow and on to Coeur d'Alene and home again.  I loved driving through the many wheat fields bordered by and overlooked by stands of pine, looking, when I could, at barns, grain elevators, and other structures.  I took a ton of pictures in my mind, wishing I could take a leisurely drive through this part of the state on my own, choosing my time of day, and taking a ton of actual pictures.

3. While watching the Bengals defeat the Steelers, I treated my red, swollen, inflamed big toe with an ice water soak. I'll see if my toe's anger settles down. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/13: Driving to Orofino, Pictures and Stories in the Clearwater Valley, Walker/West History and Pot Roast

1.  Mom and I got ourselves all gathered and packed and in the car for our drive to Orofino.  The drive was easy and our lunch at Appleby's in Moscow was just right.

2.  At Lura and Lyle's, Mom and Uncle Bob spent several hours going through pictures, identifying family members in the pictures, and telling scores of stories about stuff that happened sixty, seventy, even eighty years ago in Orofino and Peck and other places in the Clearwater Valley.

3.  Lura put a roast and potatoes and other vegetables in the crock pot and then built a great Sunday dinner around it with rolls, gravy, salad, corn, and peas.  The stories from Bob and Mom continued and I think they almost got the whole history of the West/Walker clan figured out.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/13: Onion Lunch, Seeing More Forever Friends, It's Not About the Casino

1.  Mom and I drove to North Spokane and met Christy and Everett for fun lunch and some good food at the Onion.

2.  Ed and I drove out to Rose Lake and got to see our classmates Carol Lee, Sue, Patty, and Joni and we picked up Jake for a trip to the casino.  It was jaw dropping to see how much work Jake and Carol Lee have done and had done on their cabin at the lake and how beautifully things are progressing. 

3.  Going to the casino is never about the casino.  It's always about the drive down and back and Jake and Ed and I had a great time chewing the fat, laughing, and enjoying each others' company.  I had another good time at the casino, too.  I played for quite a while on a modest amount of money and had some great times when at the same row of machines with Jake and Ed, trying to urge the machines to cooperate with our wishes and desires!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pictures: Peter and Mark in Newport, 09-04-13

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/13: Helping Mom, Plans, Hall of Fame of Great Guys

1.  More weeds pulled.  More magazines to the recycling.  Slowly.  Surely.  Getting stuff done.

2.  It all fell together through phone calls and emails and text messages:  got the patio party at Don's house all planned.

3.  The patio party was awesome.  Good cocktails.  Great chips and Texas caviar.  Lots of stories.  Great steaks and corn and potatoes.  Great dessert.  Lots of laughs.  Couldn't be better.  Always great to get guys from the Hall of Fame of Great Guys together.  Rooster, Abby, Schnotzie, Byrdman, and yours truly.  Stu and Lars were last second cancellations.  Jake had other plans.  There will be more Hall of Fame parties.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/13: Helping Mom, Krakauer Memories, Stroll to the Patio

1.  Mom and I got the area on the east side of the garage sorted out, continued to weed the north garden, and cleared about a hundred magazines out of the basement and I took them to recycling.  All in all, a productive day, despite the unseasonable heat.

2.  The update Jon Krakauer wrote  online for the New Yorker updating Into the Wild and the death of Chris McCandless brought back memories of some of my very favorite days in the classroom, studying Into the Wild as a book raising questions about what a well-lived life might be and, in another course, looking at the always baffling relationship between human beings and the world of nature. 

3.  I strolled a short ways west on Cameron Avenue to Don Knott's patio for a few beers and a little brandy and some great conversation.  As a bonus, Don agreed to host a Friday evening steak fry with a bunch of us who have known each other since the dawn of time. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/13: Helping Mom, Carol Dropped By, Cruising Kellogg with the Byrdman

1.  I continue to try to be of help around Mom's house, pulling weeds, getting the garbage cans to the curb, sweeping out the garage, vacuuming the living room, sweeping and mopping the kitchen, and taste testing Mom's first attempt at green salsa with her crop of tomatillos.  The salsa passed with flying colors.

2.  Sister Carol stopped by for a visit and we had a great time getting caught up on local news, discussing gardening and food,  and making some headway on making plans for the upcoming week.  Carol seems to be doing a good job keeping School District #391 from falling apart.  The community is grateful. 

3.  Jim Byrd came by and we went on a modest Kellogg Pub Crawl to Noah's Canteen, the Hill Street Depot, and Dirty Ernie's.  One highlight for me was seeing former baseball teammate John "Nifty" Lund, whom I hadn't seen for forty years.  Another highlight was seeing a pretty good number of people out on the town.  The highest highlight?  Shooting the breeze with the Byrdman, talking about how good it is to be retired, remembering stuff that's happened over the years and talking about longtime friends, and getting every question possible in the world of sports settled once and for all, including a some time praising the virtues of Bill Walton, as a player and a broadcaster.  I really thought I was alone in my enjoyment of Walton on television and the radio.  I'm really happy to know that Jimmy and I both get a kick out of the Big Red Head. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/13: No UHaul, Seeing Abbie, Writing Letters

1.  At the very last minute, I realized I had miscalculated the cost of renting a UHaul truck to drive to Orofino and back to pick up a single piece of furniture and a couple of boxes.  I hated to do it, but I cancelled my reservation and ticked off the guy I was renting from.  I hated doing that, but I was glad I exercised my prerogative to back out before I had signed any papers.

2.  I think the last time I saw Terry Absec we were riding around in Kellogg in 1983 or '84 after a Johnny's Bar men's league basketball game listening to Hall and Oates and inserting the name "Joey Gerd" into the lyrics.  You had to be there.  Today, I went to Stein's grocery store where Terry is now working as an assistant manager in his retirement and we had a great talk and set up a get together for late Friday afternoon.  (Did I get Joey's name right?  I'll have to check into this....)

3.  Another bonus of not driving to Orofino today:  I have been composing a couple of letters in my head -- well, I guess they are really emails -- but, to me they are letters -- and I wrote them.  I enjoyed keeping up with both of these correspondents. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pictures: The Ocean at Newport, Oregon

I enjoy taking pictures in which the expanse of the ocean's water and sand dwarf all other living beings:  birds, dogs, and human beings, for example.

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/13: U-Haul Overkill, Digging in Mom's Gardens, Nadal is King

1.  I strolled down to Ron's Sportsmen to check into renting a U-Haul vehicle to go to Orofino tomorrow.  Ron didn't have anything as small as I wanted, but I want to get this job done, so I'll show up in Orofino with way more truck than I need, I'll have a good laugh with Laura and Lyle about all the spare room I'll have in the truck, but, thank God, I'll bring the sideboard and a couple of boxes back to Kellogg.  I figure when in Kellogg, rent what you can, not necessarily what you want....

2.  Three unwanted little trees/shrubs were starting to mature in Mom's gardens and I brandished a shovel and pruning shears and dug those intruders out of the ground and stuffed them in a waste can.  One job started at U-Haul and another job finished.

3.  I was blown away by Rafael Nadal in his victory in the U. S. Open over Novak Djokovic.  I don't see how any player could have defeated his power, speed, shotmaking, finesse, variety of shots, and iron will.  Djokovic is a superb player who played some incredible tennis today, but it became clear late in the third set that no one on the planet, and possibly no one in the history of tennis, was going to defeat Nadal today.  I can't believe how much power Nadal had added to his already considerable arsenal, making him the best player in the game right now. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/13: Good Times at Worley, Orofino Run, Meatloaf on the Deck

1.  Ed and I had a great talk about life in the year 2013 as we traveled to Worley for a few hours of play at the Cd'A Casino.  I played on a little bit of money for quite a while and then I called it quits and went to the Red Tail Bar and Grill and enjoyed a Samuel Adams Octoberfest and watch some thrilling NFL football while Ed finished up.  It was a great trip:  easy on the budget, great conversation, and a pint of beer and football.

2.  Carol has a sideboard (buffet) that was at Aunt Lila's (R.I.P.) house sitting in Orofino and I've volunteered to rent a van and go pick it up.  It's been fun getting the ball rolling on this project and I look forward to a drive through scenic North Idaho to go get it.

3.  Mom fixed a great meatloaf dinner with baked potato, zucchini in a yogurt/dill sauce, and tomato, cucumber, and onion in rice vinegar.  Carol, Paul, and Cosette joined us for our meal on the deck and we had a great supper, made all the more enjoyable by Zoe visiting us by telephone. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/13: Good Flights and Book, Television Sports, Garden Fresh

1.  Everything went smoothly on the flight from Eugene to Seattle to Spokane, just the way I like it.  As a bonus, I started reading the book Peter gave me, The Book of Air and Shadows, a Shakespeare manuscript mystery novel, and I enjoyed the first chapters a lot.

2.  It's good to be back in Kellogg and on my first day home I did something I haven't done for a long time:  I watched U.S. Open tennis matches and the Notre Dame/Michigan football game.  I saw some of the Ducks' game against Virginia as well, but paid a lot more attention to the Djokovic/Wawrinka semifinal match, a long and invigorating epic battle. 

3.  Fresh green beans. Tomatoes right out of the garden.  Cucumbers right out of the garden.  Polish sausage and cabbage right out of Christy's garden.  Man.  It's good to be home in Kellogg.

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/13: Splendid Soup Nation, Ninkasi Oktoberfest, Packing Gardening Shoes

1.  The Deke invited me to bring her lunch at school, so I dropped into Soup Nation and Mark Stern was there overseeing his empire and I really enjoyed our conversation and his generosity.  The Deke and I loved the Thai Coconut Veggie Soup, Greek Chicken Orzo Soup, and a Big Greek Salad. 

2.  The Deke debriefed with her teaching partner at Cornucopia and I dropped in when they were done and we shared a little pepperoni pizza, but the highlight of the meal was the Ninkasi Oktoberfest beer.  For a long time, I avoided Ninkasi beers because I found them overhopped, but their new Cream Ale and this Oktoberfest are perfect for my taste. 

3.  Maybe my big achievement for the day was figuring out how to pack my little bag for a two week trip to Kellogg with my gardening shoes included.  This will make my mom very happy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/05/13: Trying to Settle Myself Down on the Beach, The Conversations Continue, Back Home

1.  After a fitful night of sleep, a night of having years in my life as a student and an instructor that I loved at Whitworth College occupying my mind with philosophical questions and questions of what I've done with my life, I gobbled down some mediocre food at the Comfort Inn, checked out, and headed back to the ocean and walked and tried to settle down my agitated mind on the beach, taking some pictures, longing for a past that is impossible to know again, reassuring myself that I've done okay (for the most part), and looking forward to getting back together with Mark and Peter.

2.  Mark and Peter and I got right back into our splendid conversations in the Steinbeck Room and learned more about Peter's work in Africa, while at Devil's Punch Bowl, and over food at the Chowder Bowl.  Peter and I continued the conversation over a beer at the Irish pub while Mark took care of family matters and I tried to explain my experience with God and we also talked about teaching writing. 

3.  Back home, sad to have left Mark and Peter, happy to be back with the Deke, exhausted from all the mental exertion and fitful sleep, I joined the Deke at Billy Mac's for a relaxing couple of watermelon margaritas and a pork loin ranchero dinner. 

Three Beautiful Things 09/04/13: Reunion in Corvallis, Walking Beside the Ocean, The Big Questions

It's a too rare pleasure when I can spend time with Mark Cutshall and Peter Blomquist.  We were college friends at Whitworth College and we reunited for about forty-eight hours, starting today.

1.  Peter and Mark and I saw each other for the first time in about twenty years today.  We rendezvoused at the Book Bin in Corvallis and made our way to the American Dream pizza parlor and fell right into the laughter and list making and deep conversations that we have enjoyed every time we've been together.

2.  Once Mark and Peter settled into the John Steinbeck room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel and I got checked into the Comfort Inn, we took a long walk on the beach, basking in the sunlight and continuing to tell stories, laugh, dig into big questions, and formulate our individual lists of who, for each us, are the top ten music acts of our lifetime.

3.  After a seafood dinner, Mark and Peter and I reconvened in the Steinbeck room and Peter unearthed letters he'd received in the neighborhood of thirty years ago from Dean Ebner, Clem Simpson, and Lew Archer.  I read passages of the letters from Lew Archer in which Lew poured out on paper his deepest and hardly orthodox convictions regarding the existence of God, his complicated thoughts on the nature of reality, and his deep sense of ethical response to the world he lived in.  These letters and conversations stimulated me so strongly that it took me 90 minutes, once back in my room, to settle myself down and be able to sleep, and, even then, I kept waking up, my mind racing with strong longings to go back to my days at Whitworth, both as a student and an instructor, and throw myself back in the middle of these great questions and be, again, with the professors who took us so deeply into them.  I hated that Lew Archer is dead.  These questions along with the meaning of my life and way I've lived my life are all so unsettled inside me and, so, that sense of really not knowing, even when I talk like I know, pulsed throughout my entire body all night long, in my head, my heart, and my stomach, making restful sleep impossible, testing my life and how I live it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/03/13: Morning Produce, Weeds, Pittsburgh Pirates Are Alive

1.  It was a comfortable morning walk down to the Farmers' market to purchase some tomatoes, peas, zucchini, and peaches.  I never want to forget the dear woman ahead of me in line with a back pack and two aluminum walking sticks deliberating long and hard if she really wanted to pay a $1.50 for a sweet onion.  She was okay paying a buck for an heirloom tomato, but, as it turned out, the onion price was too steep.  This took several minutes -- as the line behind her grew.  Ha!  It was pretty sweet and everyone seemed cool about her taking her old sweet time. 

2.  I went back out back and dug up the last of the weeds I wanted to get out of the ground for now.

3.  The Pittsburgh Pirates cannot have a losing season now.  If they win half of their remaining games, they will win 93 games.  They haven't had a winning season for twenty years.  I looked up old Pirates on the www in honor of this team and found out that Roy Face, Vern Law, Bill Virdon, Dick Groat, Bob Friend, and Bill Mazeroski are all still alive.  Maybe others are, too, but I loved thinking back on these former Pirates, their teams, and my baseball cards.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 09/02/13: Brie and Honey Crisp Apple, Yard Work, Sergio Garcia Watch

1.  During our wine-cheese-bread-wine-ale blowout last night, the Deke and I never got to the brie cheese.  Today, I did, and ate soft globs of it with slices of honey crisp apple. 

2.  I got about 83.5% of the weeding completed in the back yard and mowed both front and back.  The front lawn is doing pretty well. The back lawn just cannot be maintained very well because the dogs are tough on it.  I try to keep other things looking decent and I have a lot of thinking to do about how I might improve the back lawn, or whether I can, as long as we have the dogs.  Hmmmm.

3.  Terry, Rick, and I went on Sergio Garcia collapse watch as the fourth round of the Deutsche Bank Championship got underway.  Did Sergio come through?  Did he collapse?  Yes.  He slowly and surely lost his lead in the tournament.  He's had more dramatic collapses in the past.  This one was a slow, steady erosion.

Monday, September 2, 2013

POST #2400 Three Beautiful Things 09/01/13: Spirit Moves, Eat and Drink and Enjoy, Seizoen/Saison Splendor

1.  Things felt really good again at church this morning.  People enjoyed each other.  The passing of the peace was full of warm greetings and laughter.  Nothing out of the usual happened and that's what I love about being an Episcopalian.  Rarely does anything out of the usual happen and, within that structure, the spirit moves in uplifting ways. 

2.  I have been living a fairly, strictly disciplined summer when it comes to food in my efforts to lose some weight.  I've laid off cheese, bread, potatoes, and pasta.  It's working.  Today, however, I wondered out loud to the Deke if we might just forget it for a day and have one of those meals we both enjoy a lot out in the back yard.  The Deke happily agreed and so I bought a variety of cheeses, some smoked almonds, a loaf of Hideaway Bakery's Ciabatta bread, some salami, a bottle of pinot noir, a bottle of pinot gris, and a bottle of La Fin du Monde.  The evening shade and breeze were perfect and we had a great time, eating cheese and nuts and meat and bread and drinking ale and wine.   For me, it was almost like breaking a fast.  No quite.  But close. 

3.  Before I shopped for our outdoor evening meal, I stopped in at Sixteen Tons Taphouse for a half pint of splendid Logsdon Seizoen Bretta and at the Sixteen Tons Cafe for a 10 oz glass of Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns.  The Ovila (a Sierra Nevada project) was new to me and the quiet fruit presence worked beautifully with the slight peppercorn bite.  Loved it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/13: Still Life at Home, Logsdon's Seizoen, Improved Peanut Sauce

1.  I had a lot of fun with the light around the house this morning and took a series of still life pictures in black and white, pushing the shutter speed as fast as I could for a darker effect, my favorite tone.  Here's my favorite picture of the day:

2.  For today's beer tasting, I brought home a beer I love, but didn't know if the Deke would:  Logsdon's Seizoen:  Organic Farmhouse Ale.  To my delight, the Deke also loved it and so I'm happy to add another beer to the growing list of ales we can enjoy together.

3.  My quest for making a peanut sauce that works continued today.  The added ingredients:  fresh squeezed lime juice and cilantro.  The result:  the Deke and I loved it.  I fixed a sweet onion, tofu, celery, red cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, and sweet pea pod stir fry over Israeli couscous to go with the peanut sauce.  It all worked.