Monday, November 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/15: Oh Tannenbaum I, Oh Tannenbaum II, Roberts Arrive Home

1. Slowly and surely, level by level, Mom and I put her artificial Christmas tree together, peacefully and happily.

2.  I suffered neither concussion nor frostbite as I started pulling Christmas boxes out of the storage closet to get the lights and garlands.  I achieved a major success by stringing the lights on the tree. Next up?  Garlands and ornaments.

3. My house sitting stint at the Roberts' house came to an end this evening.  The dogs and cats sobbed openly and shamelessly as I bid them farewell.  Well, they didn't really sob, it was more like, well, it was more like they didn't really notice I left.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/15: Cleaning the Living Room, Will the Tree Fit?, Great Guys Meet at Penny Lane

1.  The Task Lisk shrank this morning when I vacuumed the living room, then moved the sofa, love seat, two chairs, and three end tables away from the walls and vacuumed behind them, washed the woodwork, and cleaned the picture window.

2. Now the question of the day, maybe of the month:  will Mom's Christmas tree fit in the living room with her current lineup of furniture? I descended into the basement and found the box with the artificial tree in it, brought up the stand, pole, and the bottom row of branches and assembled them. It's tight, but I think we can shoehorn the tree into its traditional corner in Mom's living room -- so, I know what I'll be spending much of my Sunday doing -- it will involve two dreaded words in our family:  storage closet.  (The storage closets are two areas upstairs with a small portal. Mom stores Christmas decorations in one of the storage closets and I will get to squeeze into the north closet, strain my knees, bump my head several times, shine the flashlight, and start pulling out boxes of lights, ornaments, and garlands -- an odious task lightened only by the joy of the Christmas spirit!).

3.  Holiday plans kept the whole of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys from assembling today at Penny Lane, but we had a great meeting all the same on Don's patio with a fire roaring in his fire pit/fireplace.  Ed, Byrdman, Jake, Don, and I enjoyed beer and other cocktail and scarfed down superbly grilled cheeseburgers along with the crock pot of killer beans that Byrdman brought.  As always, the stories were awesome, everyone got picked on, and laughter filled the air of the northwest corner of the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/15: Fruit Cakes Baked, Zags Hold Off U Conn, Feasting on Leftovers

1. Mom has been baking fruit cakes in late November/early December for over fifty years.  She can't do it alone now.  She needs help opening jars, assembling ingredients, and, most of all, stirring the dough.  I was Mom's fruit cake baking helper today. I began to hungrily anticipate the day when I might get to have a piece or two when she poked holes into the little loaves and poured in brandy, the coup de grace to one of Mom's best recipes.

2. While helping Mom with the fruit cake assembling and baking, I kept an eye on the last five minutes or so of the Zags tilt with U Conn. Whew! U Conn stormed from as many as twenty-one points down.  They never led the Zags, but were within a point on more than one occasion. As in the Zags' loss to the Ags, Domantis Sabonis got into foul trouble and the Zags sorely missed him. Unlike the loss to the Aggies, today the Zags held on to win 73-70.  Christy and I will be in Pullman to watch the Zags and the Cougs on Wednesday night.

3. We once again got Mom's all-terrain walker out of the garage. I helped her down the back steps and guided her walker across her crunchy lawn to the new gate in the fence where we crossed into Christy and Everett's crunchy lawn. Mom sang the opening to  "Over the River and Through the Woods" several times to keep her spirits up and calm her nerves.  I helped Mom ascend Christy and Everett's back porch steps.  We stepped into the warmth of Christy and Everett's house and had a great dinner of leftovers.  Let me say to all of you who are reading this:  Christy had some doubts about the quality of her first ever turkey and the non-traditional dressing she cooked.  NO NEED TO HAVE DOUBTS.  The turkey was moist and flavorful and I'd love to eat the sweet potato-cranberry-orange dressing with every turkey dinner I ever eat in the future.  In fact, I think if I sneak next door from Mom's, there might still be some of that dressing I could warm up for a Saturday snack.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/15: Kitchen to Myself, Zags Lose to Ags, Thanksgiving at Christy and Everett's

1.  While Carol and Paul are in Meridian, I am their housesitter and so I had plenty of room and plenty of solitude in the kitchen to start figuring out how I was going to make a vegetable side dish and prepare mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner.  First thing, before the Zags/Ags game, I went to Yokes, picked up some groceries, returned to the Roberts' house, and chopped up two Mayan sweet onions and prepared some brussel sprouts for roasting.  Later, I roasted these vegetables along with green beans, red, yellow, and orange peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.  I tried out a crock pot mashed potato recipe -- lots of butter and about four oz of cream cheese -- definitely a holiday only batch.

2. In between cooking sessions, I joined Christy and Everett and watched the Zags go down in defeat to the Texas A&M Aggies.  I don't think Coach Mark Few needs me to tell him two things:  1. help Domantas Sabonis better understand the NCAA's crack down on play that is too physical -- in other words, keep him out of foul trouble.  Fouls kept Sabonis benched most of this game.  2.  Make free throws.  Missed free throws cost the Zags this game.

There was a kind of odd bit of trivia in this game.  Three Aggies who played a lot of minutes in this game shared surnames with three of the Washington State Cougars best players ever. The Cougar legends were Stuart House, Dennis Hogg, and Don Collins.  The A & M players:  Danuel House, DJ Hogg, and Anthony Collins.

I haven't found any mention that the Houses, Hoggs, or Collins are related.

But, I was having fun watching this game and having flashbacks to WSU teams from deep in the past, enjoying the memories of Stuart House, Dennis Hogg, and Don Collins.

3. Christy and Everett set up their living room so that they, with me and Mom as guests, could enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner together.  Christy made a great pre dinner appetizer with baguette and a spread that was unique and delicious -- unlike any I'd ever tasted.  Christy's (first ever) turkey and sweet potato and cranberry dressing were fantastic as were her rolls and gravy. Mom's cranberries were delicious, as were the celery sticks she stuffed with cheese. My mashed potatoes and vegetable dish worked and Mom made two top notch pies, a pumpkin and an egg nog.  It was a great dinner and I hope we will get to repeat eating different parts of it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/15: Breakfast with Gonzaga, Mom Bakes Pies, Salmon Dinner Instead

1. Spending most of the month here in Kellogg means many things, but chief among them?  I get to join Christy and Everett as a temporary member of Zags Nation! The Zags played the U of W Dawgs at 9:00 this morning and Christy had bagels and cream cheese and really zingy Bloody Marys ready for tipoff.  What a great way to start the day, especially as the Zags pounded the ball inside where they dominated the Huskies and cruised to victory, 80-64. Next up?  Thanksgiving Day, 10:00 a.m., the Zags play the Ags of Texas A&M. I'll be at Christy's for tipoff -- hmmm... wonder what the Bloody Mary sitch will be.

2. Mom didn't need a lot of help baking a pumpkin pie and an egg nog pie, but I chipped in a little bit, cleaning some dishes, pulling the pies out of the oven, making mini pie crust cinnamon rolls out of leftover dough, and making a quick trip to the store. It's a solid indicator of how Mom's broken arm from last March has healed that she assembled and baked these pies almost entirely on her own.

3. Originally, our wake up with the Zags spread was going to include smoked salmon, but upon closer investigation, salmon that Christy thought was smoked wasn't.  No problem! Christy baked the salmon for dinner and brought it along with a tasty Costco salad and baguette pieces over to Mom's and she and Everett and Mom and I enjoyed a salmon dinner in the evening instead of a salmon ZagsBrunch in the morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/15: Feeling Young, No Worries, Apple Cider Tasting

1. Christy and I piled into her Jeep Cherokee and braved the snow and bare roads to do some shopping for Thanksgiving at Costco and Fred Meyer and the liquor store in Coeur d'Alene. It was fun at Fred Meyer to feel young again -- I am sure that 90% of the shoppers were at least ten years older than me, and, as I peered into my future, I saw hope.

2. Carol texted my two favorite words to me when I have failed some one. Christy and I forgot to go to Michael's to buy some ornaments for Carol. I texted Carol my confession, filled with guilt and remorse. Carol texted me back, "No worries."

3. Carol not only extended mercy to Christy and me, but invited us into her home for dinner. Christy warmed up a Costco chicken pot pie and we ate a Costco salad.  We wrapped up our evening with an apple cider tasting, sampling the the two bottles of 2Towns (Bad Apple and Bright Cider) and two bottles of Reverend Nat's (Revelation Newtown Pippin and Revival Dry) cider I brought back to Kellogg from Oregon.  I love cider or beer or whiskey tastings and this one made me especially happy because Paul and Carol love ciders and love trying out new ones.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sibling Assignment #171: Fantasy Sports in My Youth

Carol assigned this most recent prompt for me and my sisters:

  Write about a memory or memories of the autumn season growing up in Kellogg, sometime before you graduated from Kellogg High School.

Christy wrote a touching tribute to her second grade teacher, Mrs. Lorna Meyer, here. Carol mused on how the colors of autumn in Kellogg have improved over the course of her life, here.

These days, I read football scores and keep up on the way things are going for quite a few teams because I enjoy conversation about football with my friends.  But, I rarely watch games any more and, when I do, it's not nearly as enjoyable as it was when I was younger.

For some reason,  I was really charmed on my 11th birthday (December 27, 1964) by the NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the Cleveland Browns.

I don't know why I wanted Cleveland to win.  You'd think that a young kid like me would be under the spell of legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas, but I wasn't.

I rooted for Frank Ryan, the quarterback of the Browns.  On my 11th birthday, I didn't understand that Frank Ryan, as a doctoral candidate in math at Rice University, was a unique player, accomplished both on the gridiron and in academia.  He completed his doctorate in 1965 and is still the only player in the history of the NFL to hold a doctorate degree while playing in the league.

But, it wasn't his academic prowess that impressed me in this championship game.

I was most impressed by his three touchdown passes to Gary Collins, especially the third one, covering 51 yards.

When the fall of 1965 rolled around, I wanted to be Frank Ryan and I wanted to be Gary Collins.

So, I took my football into the backyard and figured out how to throw the football high enough that I could run under it and catch my own passes.

At first, my passes dropped easily into my hands.  I didn't throw the passes very far ahead of myself.

But, in my memory, at least one of Frank Ryan's passes to Gary Collins was barely within Collins' reach and I wanted to catch that kind of bomb.

So I extended myself.  I threw the passes deeper, not necessarily higher, so I could experience the thrill of catching passes on my fingertips, passes that were very nearly out of my reach.

As time went by, I extended my football passing and catching fantasies beyond Frank Ryan and Gary Collins.  Dad loved the 49ers' John Brodie and so I imagined I was Brodie tossing touchdown passes to Dave Parks. I'd watched much highlight footage of Fran Tarkenton scrambling, evading pass rushers, and so sometimes I'd be a scrambler, ducking, backpedaling, moving left, moving right, and slinging a desperate bomb to Paul Flatley streaking down the sideline, pulling in Tarkenton's heave and hitting pay dirt.

These solo pass and catch sessions paralleled my Fall Classic solo baseball sessions.  Back when we lived on 14 E. Portland, I used to toss up crab apples and hit them with a bat, making my way through the New York Yankees' lineup. When we moved to 516 W. Cameron, the lot where the church across the street now stands, was a rock field, and I loved playing out baseball games in my head as I hit rocks for singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.  It was my mid-1960's version of fantasy baseball. In this world, the San Francisco Giants won every pennant and swept every World Series.

As I grew into my teenage years, I stopped throwing passes to myself and hitting rocks, but, for many years, I shot baskets by myself and played out basketball games in my head, hitting game winning shot after game winning shot in the undefeated glory of my imagination.

And, of course, back in my days of playing golf, I won countless U. S. Opens, Masters titles, Ryder Cups, and other prestigious tournaments with six foot putts on the practice green.

After about the ninth grade, I never experienced much success on the actual fields of play.  I hated playing football and never played after the ninth grade.  My basketball success peaked in the ninth grade. I had a few game winning hits here and there in high school, but, by and large, I was an average baseball player.  I never won anything on a golf course.

But, in the fields of play in my imagination, I was undefeated, catching long passes, stroking game winning hits, knocking down game winning jumpers, and draining clutch putts.

I gave myself goosebumps.

The thrill was real, physical, even if the contests weren't.

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/15: Malibu Serviced, Drive to Moscow, Pizza and Kenton

1. I dashed right down to the service center this morning in the Malibu to have Mom's car serviced and, later, talked with Paul and read online about the splash guard under her car that needs to be replaced.

2. Carol and Cosette swung by Mom's around 4 p.m. and Christy and I piled into Carol's car for a trip to Moscow to take Cosette back to her apartment.

3. The highlight of our visit to Moscow was not only having a half pepperoni half Hawaiian pizza at Gambino's, but that Kenton Bird joined us for a while for some conversation before he left for a meeting. We'll get to see Kenton again next week when Christy and I go to Pullman to see the Zags play the Cougs.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/15: Day Off, Curtain Call, City Limits

1.  It being the Sabbath, Mom and I took a day off from the Task List. I wandered around the house, disoriented, unable to figure out what to do with myself.  Finally, I decided to shower and shave to get ready for the day's big event.

2. Mom and I piled into the Malibu and glided up to the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace to watch Carol, Paul, Cosette, Molly and the rest of the cast perform the eclectic musical revue of silliness, touching songs, and high spirits,  "Curtain Call".  The cast, red-faced with happiness, enthusiastically greeted us audience members after the show and it was a scene of pure joy and gratitude.

3. Mom, Christy, Everett, and I floated into Shoshone County's finest gastropub, The City Limits. Mom treated us to dinner.  I enjoyed three pieces of broasted chicken and a side of macaroni and cheese, and, even more, I enjoyed a pint of Cripple Creek IPA. I've enjoyed other tasty beers at The City Limits before, but never tried this IPA until today. It was the best beer I've drunk at The City Limits, brewed, I should add, by North Idaho Mountain Brewery.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/15: The List Shrinks, Yakkin' at Penny Lane, Pine Creek Tavern Matinee

1. Back to The List and now I've knocked off ten of the thirteen tasks. I washed the upper kitchen cupboards, helped Mom organize the cupboard under the sink, and cleaned the bathtub and other parts of the bathroom. Christy worked outside in the clear cold weather, taking down Mom's garden and yard stuff, so we teamed up to get a lot done in the morning.

2. Byrdman came to Kellogg and I met him and Don Knott down at Penny Lane where I enjoyed some potato chips and popcorn and a couple of red beers and a couple of fingers of George Dickel Rye Whiskey, neat. Eddie, a guy I'd never met, dropped by and the four of us did some serious yakking, reelin' in the years.

3. Don and I cruised to the Pine Creek Tavern in South Pinehurst and met up with Lars, Stu, Ed, Sharon, and Wanda for burgers and chicken and shrimp and happy hour pull tabs and enjoyed reelin' in more years and the good times that come with getting together with forever friends.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/15: List, Recycling, Dinner

1. While I was in Gladstone and Eugene, Mom composed a list of thirteen things she wanted done around her house and I got going on it today -- and even performed a few unlisted tasks. I dusted the ceiling fan, turned off the outdoor water taps, drained and stored garden hoses, watered Mom's house plants, and turned Mom's front and back doors from screen doors to glass ones. I'm sure I'll keep knocking tasks off the list in the next few days.

2. To add some excitement to my day, I left the house and took two loads of papers, magazines, cardboard, plastic bottles, and cans to the recycling station down the street.

3. Christy cooked up a delicious and unique potato soup, one made with hash browns, and brought it over to Mom's with a green salad and bread, and Christy, Mom, Everett, and I had a warming and comforting dinner together.

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/15: Breakfast with Terry, Rockin' the Interstates, Happy Birthday

1.  So that I could drive in daylight from Gladstone, OR to Kellogg, ID today, I was up at 5 a.m. to do some writing and to wake myself up. Terry was up at 5, too, and he fixed me a tasty breakfast of herbed scrambled eggs with a side of fried chopped bacon, mushrooms, onions, and greens. Perfect.

2. Out there on I-84 somewhere around Rufus I found classic rock on the radio and the miles melted away all the way to Ritzville and beyond with the help of Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones, Head East, Stevie Nicks, Jackson Browne, Sanford-Townsend Band, Tesla, Kansas, Def Leppard, et. al.  Ha! What a blast!

3. Carol prepared a chicken enchilada dinner for Paul's birthday party. My job was to shake up some tequila, margarita mix, orange juice, a splash of 7-Up, and some ice and pour the members of my family a margarita or two. Another blast!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/15: Road Nap, Eugene's Ghosts, Dinner with Patrick

1. I slowly got up and at 'em this morning and made my way out of Eugene, after a couple of unsuccessful Duck Store visits, on to I-5.  Thank goodness for rest stops. All the excitement of the last several days hit me near the Santiam rest stop and I pulled over and took a solid nap.

2. I don't know when I'll ever return to Eugene, but the ghosts of Eugene will always be with me. The vast majority of the ghosts are friendly, some haunt me, but they all piled in Mom's Malibu as I took a last spin around some familiar places in town and as I left Eugene, reminding me of many happy days and many difficult ones, too.

3. Patrick and I met for dinner at the Tabor Tavern on East Burnside and enjoyed two of my favorite things:  great food and great conversation.  I enjoyed listening to Patrick tell me that things are going very well at work and that he is enjoying making music with his friends in Eugene and having some excellent visits with his buddy Adam in Mapleton.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/15: Rita at Creswell Bakery, Dan at Ta Ra Rin, Tea with Sparky BONUS: Harold at Billy Mac's

1.  I drove from Chez Troxstar in Eugene down to Creswell and Rita and I went to the gorgeous Creswell Bakery for biscuits and gravy and a divinely delicious raisin cinnamon walnut roll.  We got to have a very good talk, say good-bye to each other, and hope we can see each other again in the not too terribly distant future.

2. Dan Armstrong and I were hired onto the full-time faculty at LCC on the same day and started our years out there in January, 1991.  We became great friends.  We had offices next door to each other for many years and hundreds of great conversations went down between us over those years.  Today, we met at Ta Ra Rin (Thai-Hop) for lunch and picked right up where we'd been before and got caught up on the many complex dimensions of our lives.

3.  Back in the early days of the Shakespeare Showcase -- then called the Term's End Shakespeare Recital --, the cast went out for post-show pizza and then Sparky and I would get on the phone late the night of the show and debrief about how it had all gone.  Well, the post-show pizza no longer happens and Sparky and I no longer talk on the phone late at night, but this afternoon I went to Sparky's house and we sat down over peppermint tea and talked for a couple of hours about the weekend shows and about the wonders of the plays and the poetry and the insights of William Shakespeare.  Two hours seemed like ten minutes.

BONUS!  After tea with Sparky, it was time for drinks with Harold Lannom.  I swung by his house and picked him up and we enjoyed a couple cocktails at Billy Mac's and had a great talk about our new lives -- his new life since selling and moving out of his house and my new life in Maryland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/15: Happy Birthday, LCC and Turtles, The Fullness of Time

1. After a sturdy breakfast at the Cornucopia, I got to see Pam on her birthday this morning and sit down and have a great conversation.

2.  I met Linda at her work space at LCC around noon and she gave me a tour of the newly remodeled Center building and we had a really fun lunch at Turtles where, much to my surprise, I saw Shirley, Jill, and Nancy -- and a little later, Father Ted walked in and we embraced and had a chance to talk.

3.  Lynn and I had a long talk about the old days, the new days, and all the days in between over at her house this afternoon and evening and I left with a fuller and clearer understanding of the world. The fullness of time.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/15: Home at St. Mary's, Into Thin Air, Hop Valley Goodness

1. Last December, during my visit to Eugene, I worshiped at St. Mary's Episcopal Church where I'd been doing things for about thirty years. Father Bingham told me to let him know if/when I was coming back and invited me to read the Old Testament lesson if that happened.  I let him know back in August that I would be in church on November 15th and, I'm very happy to report that he invited me to read.  So, this morning I was back in church at St. Mary's -- I saw many friends, had many excellent conversations, and got to read the opening story of the first book of Samuel. I loved getting to read. Even more, I loved being a visitor in the church that is, in so many ways, my home.

2. And then it was done. The Shakespeare Showcase was over. It melted into air, into thin air, as if it had been a dream. That's the way it is with live theater. The show ends and it's gone. Knowing that live theater melts into thin air keeps me focused on and deeply involved in each moment as whatever I'm watching (or participating in) unfolds. My mind and my feelings are completely absorbed by what is happening in the present. Then it's gone.  I remember loving last year's Showcase, but I can't remember what scenes were performed or who did them -- and soon it will be this way the 2015 Showcase. I'll remember loving it, but if I ever get to be in one again and if I'm asked, "Was this year's show as good as last year's?", I'll have to say I don't know and I don't remember. It'll be gone. Here's what I love about experiencing theater (and movies) this way: things are new to me, even if I've seen them many, many times.  In each scene this weekend, I experienced Shylock, Romeo, Juliet, Goneril, Portia, and the others as if I'd never seen them before. Yes, their words were familiar, but unsaddled by making comparisons, each of the characters were new -- I see all of them in different ways than I ever had before. I experienced a new Shylock this weekend, two new Macbeths, a new Lady Macbeth, a new Angelo, and so on. I heard their words in new ways, understood aspects of their characters in fresh ways.  And then it was done. All these characters disappeared. The costumes came off, the props got put away, the stage was struck.  I felt deeply enriched. I love the Shakespeare Showcase.

3. After some Hammerhead Ale and cold cuts and crackers at Rita's with Fran and Linda, I headed back to Eugene and the Troxstar and I headed down to Hop Valley in Eugene for some beers and food with Carolyn, Rick, and Bingham.   It was an evening full of good cheer and good will, good conversation and all around goodness. The half a pint night cap at 16 Tons with the Troxstar topped off the evening perfectly.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/15: Morning with Russell and Anne, Brunch with Jerome, Electric Showcase

1.  Despite Friday's long rehearsal at the Wildish Theater, I sprang out of bed and motored back to Eugene so I could have coffee with Russell and Anne.  Then Russell and I had breakfast at the Cornbread Cafe and we went for a short photo stroll in the neighborhood just north of the restaurant.

2. Jerome Garger and I met at Marche for some salmon hash and a dessert and to enjoy over two hours of conversation.  We hadn't seen each other for years.  I have often wondered, since moving to Maryland, when and if I would get to see Jerome again and it made me very happy to have this stimulating and fun time together, talking about old times and getting caught up on what's new in our lives.

3. Tonight's performance of the Shakespeare Showcase was electric.  I wish all of my friends would or could come and see it. There's another chance at 2:00 on November 15 at the Wildish Theater in Springfield.

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/15: Energy Bonds, Brails Coffee Summit, Rehearsal

1. I drove up to Starbucks in the former Wendy's building on S. Willamette so I could have an internet connection and worked on a revised version of the introduction to the Shakespeare Showcase. A conversation at the next table included reference to "energy bonds" that connect us to one another and to how the character of a person has texture and fragrance and I realized that I had never overheard anyone talking this way in Prince George's County in Marylan

2.  Nate, Margaret, Michael, Jeff, and I got as much about the world figured out as we could within the nearly two and a half hours we spent over coffee at Brails Coffee House. Lord.  There's a lot going on in our lives and, therefore, a lot to talk about.  It's hard to let these conversation go, knowing I'll be leaving Eugene soon and not knowing when the next Brails Coffee Summit will be.

3. It's a long, often tedious process to mount a show of over twenty individual scenes from the plays of Shakespeare, but from about 3 in the afternoon until about 1 in the morning, the company currently performing the Shakespeare Showcase got it done through a long rehearsal and the show is brilliant.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/15: Practice with Marcee, Sparky and 16 Tons, Billy Mac's and Dvorak

1.  Got up and at it early at the Turners and drove to Creswell to get things straight with Rita about our day and then drove up to Marcee's and we had a great time getting our co-narration for the Showcase rehearsed.

2.  After a terrific lunch conversation with Sparky at the Washburn Cafe, I drove to 16 Tons to meet up with Cliff, Jeff, and Don, the guys I used to drink ale with every Thursday afternoon when I lived in Eugene.  Great time!

3.  I sped over to Billy Mac's to have some dinner with Russell, Anne, Michael, Allie, Lynn, and Pam. It felt great to enter back into this great and regular Thursday evening get together.  I didn't get to stay long, though -- Rita and I went to the symphony to hear her daughter play the English horn solo in Dvorak's New World Symphony -- which she performed brilliantly.  It was a great sensation hearing Dvorak again -- about twenty years ago, when I lived alone, I used to put Dvorak on the cd player as I went to sleep and I enjoyed remembering those days and that funny habit I had at night.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/15: Leaving Orofino, Dreaming on Highway 12, Nourishment and Rest at the Turner's Home

1.  I enjoyed the hotel's sausage, egg, and bagel breakfast with Mom and Christy and piled my stuff into Mom's Malibu and hit the road for Gladstone, OR.

2.  It would be a dream come true for me to take about a week and drive Highway 12 from Lolo, MT to I-5 just south of Chehalis, WA and take pictures.  Today, the drive on Highway 12 from Orofino to just southeast of Pasco when I joined Rt 730 into Umatilla was spectacular.  Fall colors vibrated all along the Clearwater and the Snake Rivers.  I would have loved to have stopped to take pictures in Dayton and Waitsburg, to name a couple of places, as well as photograph vantage points along Highway 12.  If today had been more leisurely, I would have enjoyed taking about three days to do the traveling I did today, with many stops to take pictures.

3.  My day of driving reached its end with a couple single malt whiskeys and a dinner of tasty split pea soup, beef and lamb pieces, and roasted vegetables at Terry and Nancy Turner's house in Gladstone, where I got to rest up before heading to Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/15: Seeing Uncle Bob, Thanksgiving Dinner in Orofino, Helgeson History

1. Mom and I piled into the Malibu and I drove us to Orofino, Mom's hometown, and we stopped along the way at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Lewiston to visit Mom's brother, Uncle Bob, who is under observation for some problems and was doing pretty well:  alert, sharp of mind, funny, and, above all, happy to see Mom.

2. Our destination in Orofino was a visit and a Thanksgiving dinner with Cousin Lura and Lyle -- with the added bonus of Cousin Mark.  We had a relaxing afternoon of cocktails -- whiskey and ginger ale for me! -- and settled into a magnificent turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, an apple/carrot dish, biscuits, gravy -- the works.  Christy brought a dessert called Pumpkin Dump -- I think you just get out a bowl and dump canned pumpkin and a cake mix and other stuff together, whip it up, and somehow this delicious dessert is the result.  It was a great dinner and a top notch family get together.

3. My Grandma West and Aunt Lila were both employees at the Helgeson Hotel in downtown Orofino and now it's called the Helgeson Place Hotel Suites.  Until tonight, I'd never been in the Helgeson -- I guess it was always off limits when Grandma was at work -- but tonight we settled into our most comfortable and neatly attired two bedroom suite for some rest and good night conversation after a full day of travel, terrific visits, and fantastic food.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/15: Kellogg's Colors, Annie Lennox at Wal Mart, Risky Dinner

1.  It was a dark and gray morning in Kellogg, but the rain held off long enough for me to take a walk uptown to the bank to do some business for Mom and to take some pictures of leaves with my Pentax Q.

Trail Motel on Cameron

South Fork of the Cd'A River

Scout House and the Old Lincoln School 

Kellogg's Mansion

2. Christy and I joined forces to run some errands for Mom at the City Hall, Yoke's, and Wal Mart. I'm not crazy about shopping at Wal Mart, but when the Eurythmics suddenly came over the store's music system, I heard Annie Lennox sing "Hear Comes the Rain Again", I stopped, positioned myself underneath a speaker, and the world of Wal Mart stood still for about three minutes.  It was blissful.

3.  I volunteered to fix dinner tonight.  No, I didn't foist eggplant upon our family, but I did sautee onions, poured in about three pounds of cubed sweet potatoes, added shrimp, and then covered it all with shredded kale and chard leaves.  I also cooked up some broccoli and Christy made a cabbage salad.  I was nervous about whether this meal would work, but everyone liked it.  Huge relief.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/15: Four Sages at Brunch, Rainy Trip, Back to 'Log Life

1. Ed, Terry, Mike, and I took some time over Sunday morning brunch at the casino and pretty much got the world's problems settled.  I am confident that each of us thought that it would sure be a better world if only everyone would just listen to us and act accordingly.  (Ha!)

2. Ed and I piled into Mom's Malibu and made our way through the rain in Kennewick, Connell, Ritzville, Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, over the Fourth of July pass, and on into the Silver Valley and made it home after a fun weekend relaxing at the Wildhorse Casino and Resort. We are fortunate fellas to have all known each other for all these years and to be able to get together and enjoy each other so much.

3.  Sunday afternoon it was back to 'Log Life.  Christy cooked up a hearty and very tasty beef barley soup/stew in the crock pot and Mom, Everett, Molly, Carol, Christy, and I sat down and enjoyed this delicious dinner and the conversation around the table.

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/15: Hermiston Beer Tour, Prodigal Son Stop, Steak at the Plateau

1. I decided that for this year's trip to the Wildhorse Casino and Resort that I didn't want to hang out on the casino floor or in the casino bar for most of the day, especially since I had the use of Mom's Malibu.  So, I did a little bit of research and learned that the Hermiston Brewing Company is housed in a sports bar named Nookie's right there in Hermiston.  So, Terry and I went on a little road trip to Hermiston and each drank a flight of samplers and we were both very happy with the tasty and various beers brewed at the Hermiston Brewing Company.

2. Pendleton has a brewery, too, in a pub, The Prodigal Son. I'd been there once before and Terry and I stopped in on our way back to the Wildhorse.  We each had a couple samples of beer.  We enjoyed the place a lot and didn't think the beer was quite as good as the Hermiston beers, but I know I'd go back.  In fact, if I get to go to Pendleton again next year, I will be back.

3. Terry bought a bottle of single malt scotch aged in port casks and we each had a wee bit before Ed, Mike, Terry, and I met at the Plateau, the nice restaurant at the casino, and each enjoyed a Pendleton Whiskey Steak -- a 10 oz New York strip, blackened with pepper and served with broccoli and mashed potatoes.  It was the best steak I'd ever eaten in my life -- or, at least, that's how it seemed as I slowly made my way through my meal.

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/15: Kohl's, Capone's, Pendleton

1. I made a quick trip to Coeur d' Alene to buy a cold weather coat and a pair of black pants for the Shakespeare Showcase at Kohl's.

2. After I washed and vacuumed Mom's car at Metro Express, I stopped at Costco to fill up the car with gas and the pumps were out of order and so I went to Capone's for a quick pint of Slate Creek IPA and a half of a meatball grinder.

3. Gassed up, back in Kellogg, I waited for Ed to arrive and at around 5:30 we piled into the Malibu and drove to the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton to meet up with Terry and Mike and get our guys getaway weekend under way.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/15: 'Log Life, Easy Times Next Door, Eat Like a King

1.  Things have slowed way down.  Here in Kellogg, I like to call it 'Log Life. Coffee. TV with Mom: The Today Show, The View, The Chew, General Hospital, The Doctors, weather updates on KREM. A few favors here and there -- like doing a load of laundry for Mom, nothing big.  It's 'Log Life.

2.  Christy lives next door so I can go on over any time and have a cup of coffee, have a smash (not today, but....), enjoy Shelby and Annie, listen to a joke from Everett that never fails, talk cameras and then come back over to Mom's and, when I want to, head back next door for some more easy times.  It's 'Log Life.

3. Carol and Paul came over to Mom's for dinner.  Christy brought over a stunning mac and cheese. Wow. She put her improvisational abilities to work in her kitchen and cooked up a mac and cheese with about 100 different cheeses along with half and half and I don't know what else -- it was heavenly. So was the salad she served on a platter with salad mix and apples and shrimp over the top. One thing for sure when I come home.  I always eat like a king.  That, my friends, is 'Log Life. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/15: Priorities, Splurge, Faithful Sister

1. I figured out how to pack all three of my cameras, but didn't have room to pack a coat.  I guess I'll be making a trip to Kohl's.  I need a coat in Kellogg.

2.  Here's how I live high on the hog:  a fruit and cheese plate with a glass of red wine on Alaska Airline flying from Baltimore to Seattle.

3.  Slight delay in Seattle -- a fixable air conditioning problem -- so I didn't arrive in Spokane until about 11:20 or so, but faithful sister Christy was right there in her solid brand new Jeep Cherokee SUV to pick me up and I walked into Mom's house at 1:00 a.m PST -- or, if you are scoring at home, 4:00 a.m. EST.

It was an easy day of travel -- just the way I like it.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/15: Time to Leave, An Angela Day, "Best Afternoon of My Life"

1. Time to get ready to go to Idaho. Laundry. Packing. Deciding. Buying new walking shoes. Checking into my flight. Etc. Tomorrow I pack up the computer and make decisions about cameras, check the bus schedule for my ride to the airport, and I'm off to the great Inland Northwest -- or, as we called it in the good ole days, the Inland Empire.

2. I got to work with my two favorite local Angelas today (Cousin Angela is my favorite of all Angelas!).  At LabCorp, Angela drew my monthly blood sample for the the U of Maryland Transplant Center and Angela at Hair Cuttery cut my hair, after shampooing it and giving me a relaxing scalp massage. These two Angelas always brighten my day with their good nature and great work.

3. Allison returned from "the best afternoon of [her] life" after a visit to Eastern Market and Georgetown in downtown D. C.  and brought back bread and sweets and spices and shared her new enthusiasm for our nation's capital, as we each enjoyed a bowl of black beans and rice with green beans and broccoli on the side.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/15: Old Man Idealism, Allison's Afternoon at School, Quench and Soup

1. Molly and Allison listened to me spill my guts about what I think matters most in a liberal arts education. It's been a while since I uncorked that bottle of Andre Brut. Turns out I had a lot to say -- maybe too much. Inside myself, I was enjoying how it all took me back to my twenties and those formative, inspiring, and most happy years at Whitworth College.

2. It was grading day at the Deke's school and Allison and I dropped in for a visit and, after I went to Starbucks to get the Deke and Allison some hot refreshments, Allison spent the afternoon in the Deke's classroom.

3.  The Deke and I introduced Allison to the Quench taproom, yakked it up some more, and went over to the Diazes where we almost finished the last of the leftover soup from Friday's soup bar.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/15: Birthdays, Spiderman Cake Rescued, Yayas for an Afternoon

1.  Sunday, Nov. 1 was Adrienne's birthday and Nov. 2 is David's birthday.  With David's birthday falling on a Monday, it worked out to have his birthday party on Sunday. He loved his Spiderman cake and his gifts.  The house was full of children and adult friends of the Diaz family and the day turned into quite a celebration.  Adrienne and Alex slipped away from the boisterous scene at chez Diaz and went downtown and walked on the National Mall and ate dinner in D. C.

2. My chief errand for the day was to go to the Giant store on New Hampshire and E. Randolph and pick up the birthday cake. I went to the bakery counter and the two people working there were confounded when I said I was there to pick up a Spiderman cake. The only thing they could figure out was that the cake was at a different store. So, I called Molly. She had ordered the cake online. She double checked the order confirmation. Sure enough, the Spiderman cake was baked at the Giant store just 2.8 miles down New Hampshire at the White Oak Shopping Center. So I jumped in the Sube and streaked down to the other store, picked up the cake, and all was well.

3.  I read recently a definition of  yayas:  "three or more women whose hearts and souls are joined together by laughter and tears shared through the glorious journey of life". For a few hours at this birthday party, it looked to me like Molly, Leah, and Allison were yayas for an afternoon, sitting on the kitchen floor, drinking cocktails, telling stories, laughing, giving advice, dishing, eating, seizing the day.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/15: French Toast Heaven, Home Alone to Clean, Did Not Spoil Dinner at the Brewery!

1. Allison, The Deke, and I joined Adrienne, Alex, and the Diaz family for the most outrageously delicious croissant French toast with pure maple syrup cooked up by Molly.  There was bacon, too. But that French toast.  Oh my God!

2. I slipped away from the family get together and came back to our apartment home to do the cleaning I didn't do yesterday, including a shampooing of the carpet in our dining area where Maggie once had a few accidents when she was sick with a UTI, making it necessary to freshen that area up sort of regularly.  I was really happy that I could have some time alone at home today to get this chore done.

3.  Hiram, Alex, Adrienne, and I piled into the Diaz Element and trucked down to the warehouse wonders of the D C Brau brewery on Bladensburg Rd. NE in our nation's capital.  We had a blast -- there were revelations, big laughs, and dreams shared, and, wow, we each enjoyed a couple pints of fresh brewed beer -- I love the D C Brau Corruption IPA -- and Hiram bought perfect sized pizzas, a cheese/ basil and a pepperoni, from the food truck outside -- and it was NY style pizza with thin crust and burnt edges.  My favorite.  Perfect.

I should note, that the pizza did not spoil our dinner.  As best I can tell, everyone loved the beef stroganoff I made (Allison even got Olivia to try some, earning Allison the Anne Sullivan Miracle Worker Award for the day) and Adrienne and Allison both told me the tofu/cashew/mushroom stroganoff was really good, too.  I beamed.