Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/17: Working Outside, Dog Break Out, Family Gatherings

1. Today Shawn and Justice, his helper, put the first coat of varnish on the floor. Below I've posted pictures of what the floors looked like before the varnish.)  The Deke and Maggie and Charly and I had to leave the house and we moved to Carol and Paul's for a few days. It was a mild November day and I took advantage of being banished and of having a dumpster in the driveway and cleared the exterior of our house and the front and back yards of all kinds of things: window boxes, planters, a corroding metal table, a clothesline, a piece of wooden furniture on the deck (requiring me to use Shawn's sledgehammer), old plastic chairs, and other things.

2. The Deke drove the dogs over to Carol and Paul's and immediately had to deal with two dogs escaping. The Deke lured Maggie back with food. But, hmmm, Archie was a different story. Archie is an athletic Catahoula (state dog of Louisiana, by the way). Carol and Paul are looking after him for a couple of months or so for a friend. Archie got out and wandered (ran) about a quarter of a mile (maybe) over to Yoke's grocery store and the Deke couldn't corral him until -- well, until Archie trotted into the store and got into a checkout line. There, the Deke leashed him and brought him back. I missed out on all of this because I was sledgehammering a wooden two seated pink outdoor deck chair. I walked to Carol and Paul's when I finished my tasks, sore, tired, but satisfied with a good day's work and happy that no dogs were run over by a car or anything.

3. With all dogs contained, the Deke thawed and warmed up one of those delicious Costco chicken pot pies and Christy and Everett came over over for dinner while all the Roberts were in Moscow for Senior Day at the Vandals' game. We had a great time together and an hour or so after they left to go watch the Zags defeat the Utah State Aggies, Zoe, Cosette, Molly, Travis, Paul, and Carol all piled into the house with grocery bags full of chips and dips and soda pop and other things and they tore into them for a late dinner of their own. It was Paul's birthday, and soon he opened some gifts. By the time he finished, I dragged my tired bones to bed to sleep off a full day of work, dog drama, and family conviviality.

Here are the pictures I took before Shawn and Justice began varnishing the floors:

The New Opening into the Kitchen

The Living Room and Dumpster in the Driveway

The Unearthed Kitchen Wood Floor

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/17: Temporarily Out of the House, Moving Day, Basement Social Hour(s)

1. It turned out that the discovery of the wood floors complicated things in our lives a bit: while Shawn varnishes the wood floors in the living room and kitchen, we can't be in our house. I assumed Carol and Paul didn't have room for us nor did I think Christy and Everett would. But, then, Carol reached me and explained how it could work for the Deke and me and the corgis to stay at their house. We accepted her offer and, Saturday morning, we will be moving in with the Roberts family until Tuesday.

2. The couches and cabinets that came out of our house need to be transported to Paul and Carol's house.  Monday is a varnishing day, but there is also a shipment of materials coming to the house and we need the garage cleared as much as possible. Since a couple of Shawn's guys won't be working on the interior of the house, we hired them to use Everett's truck and move these things for us. This seems like a small thing, but, like many small things in life, it's awesome.

3. Our basement is a little chilly, but late this afternoon and on into the early evening, it became a social gathering spot. When Shawn wrapped up his work, he broke out a bottle of Well's Banana Bread Ale, brewed in England, and the Deke, Shawn, and I split it. Drinking this beer awakened in me a forty-two year old love of how beers are brewed in England and, I suddenly realized that I thought this beer would pair really well with the rye whiskey I bought over the weekend at Stein Distillery in Joseph. So, I broke out the whiskey, we all had a nip or two, and I was right. Christy came over later and she and the Deke and I yakked in the basement, enjoyed another couple slugs of rye.

When Christy left, the Deke and I were kind of lost. Our kitchen and living room are empty. We can't cook anything. We could eat a few crackers! Luckily, we weren't feeling hungry. We each had a bowl of awesome bacon mushroom soup at Radio Brewing early in the afternoon and spit an order of parmesan-garlic fries. So, we went to bed and to sleep kind of early. I liked that.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/17: Demolition Day, Underneath the Layers of Glue, Out on the Town

1.  Not only did demolition in our house begin today, but Shawn and the three guys who work for him removed all the cabinets and appliances out of our kitchen and built the frame around and the beam above the new much wider opening between our living room and kitchen. It really opens things up in our little house.

2. Not only did they get the opening well on its way, but once the guys removed the linoleum  off the kitchen floor and once they scraped the years and years of glue underneath the flooring, they discovered that what we had hoped was true was indeed the case: our kitchen has a hardwood floor. It's going to be a big job to get all that black glue gunk off the floor, but Blaine made progress today and the Deke and I are very happy that there will be effortless continuity between our living room floor and the kitchen.

We've also decided to have less done in our kitchen by having it be L-shaped rather than U-shaped. We want to have as much unfilled space in the house as possible and by not putting any counters against the south wall of the kitchen, we will have opened things up in the house even more.

3.  The Deke and I debriefed for about forty-five minutes at the Hill Street Depot and then Christy and Everett joined us for some dinner. We yakked and yakked about a bunch of stuff and then headed over to Best Shots for a nightcap. After dinner and drinks, Christy and Everett came over to the house to look at all that Shawn and his boys accomplished today and shared our happiness with how things are going after one day.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/17: Measurements, Yakkin' with Darrell, Demolition Prep

1. Shawn came over this morning to do some detailed measuring of our kitchen and living room and we talked more about the upcoming project. The Deke fixed us a hearty potato and egg breakfast. Thursday begins the demolition.

2. After some project shopping, the Deke and I decided to talk things over at Daft Badger. Darrell Dlouhy, a co-founder and the obligated one at Daft Badger, was in the house and joined the Deke and me for a lively conversation about construction, cooking, beer, and host of other topics. Darrell and I go back forty-five years to our days as students at NIC and, as we sat there today, I couldn't help but think of all the experiences we had singing in the NIC choir, all the intersections that have taken place over the years between our lives, the great changes both of us have experienced since 1972, and all the mutual friends and acquaintances we've had and, in some cases, still have.  My two short pours of Scotchy Scotch Scotch Scotch Ale enhanced our time with Darrell. Its malty sweetness and scotch whiskey notes were in harmony with our table talk and were perfectly warming on what turned out to be a blustery and chilly November day. The Deke loved her beer, too:  Daft Badger's Blood Orange IPA.

3. Back home, the Deke and I enjoyed some delicious leftovers and moved most of  our kitchen to the basement and our living room into the front bedroom in preparation for Thursday's sledge hammers and crowbars.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/17: Organizing, Afternoon Dinner, Sweet Heat Snack

1. I've kept all the documents related to Mom's estate in a plastic basket of Mom's. I spent a couple of hours organizing that basket today. Instead of loose papers piled in the basket, now almost everything is filed in a folder. I will return to the basket on Wednesday and dig down under the file folders to retrieve a few more loose papers and file those.

2. Early this afternoon, the Deke and I decided to have dinner early in the afternoon. The Deke requested black beans and rice. I dug a familiar recipe from Pinterest and got out our Dutch oven and cooked up the beans. I used a little too much vinegar -- I had to sub apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar and red wine the recipe called for -- but I liked the stronger vinegar taste and I always like the way the acid in this dish is balanced by the brown sugar and it's all made especially delicious by my generous splashes of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce.

Eating this meal transported me back to evenings in our apartment home in Greenbelt. This dish really smells good and one of the nice things about living in a small house, much like when we lived in a small apartment, is the way the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, brown sugar, vinegar, and pepper sauce blanket us with aromatic pleasures.

3.  I watched a few episodes of Chopped: After Hours this evening and suddenly wondered if I might combine sweet with heat and make the Deke and me a tasty snack. So, I got out a bunch of sesame rice crackers, put some cream cheese on each one, then topped each cracker with Mom's rhubarb strawberry jam from 2014 and a touch of Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste. The chefs on Chopped are always working to combine contrasting sensations and textures. I thought the crunchy cracker contrasted nicely with the cream cheese and that the jam and the chili paste also contrasted nicely with each other.  It worked. Each bite was crisp, creamy, sweet, and hot, giving the Deke and me pleasure and a bit of a surprise. The hotness of the chili paste snuck up on us so that what seemed like a sweet treat finished with some heat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/17: Busy in CdA, Hannah at the Courthouse, Rip and Tear Soon

1. I drove to CdA this morning for more money talk. We got some things decided and I left with a better understanding of several different things.  On the way to CdA, my Check Engine light flashed on and I decided to have the codes read right away following my money appointment. After a quick search online while sitting in a parking lot, I went out to Reliable Auto and Truck in Hayden because I'm always looking for an independent repair shop and this one specializes in Subes.

The man working the front of the shop read and cleared the codes and the results were familiar to me and we talked about the tune up I'd had done just before leaving Greenbelt. He got under the hood and checked things out and he was impressed with the work Jens did in Greenbelt.  We decided to see if the light comes on again. If it does, I'll return. I've often wondered if I have a quirk in the Sube that turns on the Check Engine light kind of randomly and he wondered the same.  I've read of other people having this happen. So we'll see. He didn't charge me for reading and clearing the codes or digging around in my engine and I enjoyed our conversation a lot. I'll keep having my oil changed in Kellogg, but for stuff Silver Valley Tires can't do, I'll return to Reliable Auto and Truck.

2. I called the Shoshone County Motor Vehicle Department around 1:00 to make sure I had everything I needed to register the Sube in Idaho.  The sparkling and friendly voice over the phone informed me that she could do my VIN inspection on the spot. (I thought I'd have to go to the police station.)  This was great news. I could have everything taken care of in one stop at the courthouse. So, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and it turned out that that sparkling and friendly voice belonged to Hannah Etherton and that for the umphteenth time in my life I was having a most positive interaction with a member of the Etherton family. Everything was in order with the title and the VIN and, in a short amount of time, I was the proud owner of Idaho license plates with an Idaho title forthcoming.  (Did you read that Rich? I'll make sure I have your address so I can send you MD plates to add to your collection!)

3. The day got busier. The Deke and I accepted an invitation to see the contractor we are working with in his home so we could see the impressive work he's done on his house, talk more about our remodel, and agree to the terms of a contract. Ripping and tearing starts Thursday and we are the only job he and his crew will be working on, so things should move at a pretty good pace over the course of the next few weeks.

After we were at Shawn's, the Deke and I had some debriefing to do, so, after we dropped in to say hello to Christy at the library, we strolled around the corner and grabbed a stool at the thinking table at Radio Brewing for a couple short pours and some serious discussion, and we got in some good yakkin' with Paige.

We'd had a light lunch at the Broken Wheel and the guy who works there warmed up to us after a while.  It was fun drawing him out a bit. We returned home to the very delicious soup the Deke made from the remains of last night's chicken dinner, augmented with cheese tortellinis. It was warming, relaxing, and deeply satisfying. After a day of getting so much done, I hit the hay early.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/17: Heading Home, Back Home, Family Dinner

1. After a solid breakfast at the buffet, Mike, Terry, Ed, Jake, and I settled up our hotel bills and all hit the road, bringing a fun time together to an end. Ed and I piled into Jake's rig and we were off to Idaho with quick stop at Country Mercantile to gawk at the candy, try some samples, and buy some to bring home. I bought the Deke and me a few peanut clusters.

2. Back home in Kellogg, everything was in good order. The Deke had left to knit with the Sunday group at Radio Brewing and I got a few chores around the house done in preparation for Sunday Family Dinner.

3. The Deke cooked up chicken thighs in a delicious sauce and served rice, polenta, and a chopped salad to go along with it. Our conversation around the table was lively and fun. Among other things, we divided responsibilities for Thanksgiving dinner, so now we all know our assignments as to what to bring to Carol and Paul's to enhance our meal. We have an excellent dinner planned, a fine combination of traditional dishes and some new and different offerings.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/17: Breakfast Buffet, Distillery and Brewery Run, Steak Dinner

1. Mike, Ed, Terry, and I got off to a solid start this morning at the breakfast buffet with a full breakfast and some good yakking and laughing about all we had done the night before.

2. Terry and I jumped into his pickup and headed into the Willowa mountain country for a gorgeous drive to Joseph and Enterprise.  We had miles and miles of top notch conversation about all kinds of things, political and familial, including the situations we each faced with our now deceased mothers as they grew older and what is happening with Terry's over ninety year old mother-in-law.

At Joseph, we visited the Stein Distillery, a maker of fine whiskey, vodka, and cordials. I don't know the woman's name who hosted us and served us half ounce samples, but she was delightful and knowledgeable and generous. Terry and I loved Stein's moonshine, bourbon, rye whiskey, and vodka and I learned more about each. Both of us bought a bottle of 5 year aged rye whiskey and left warmed by both the spirits we consumed and the warmth of our host.

Next stop? Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub in Enterprise. The pub is in a handsome older house, slightly similar to the High Street Pub in Eugene. I was a little bit fired up to see they had a strong ale and enjoyed my 9 oz pour a lot. I ordered chicken skewers and a cup of clam chowder, a perfect light lunch, and finished with a 9 oz pour of light and delicious golden ale, covering both ends of the beer strength spectrum.

3. Back at the casino, Ed, Mike, Terry, Jake, and I met at the Wildhorse's Plateau Steakhouse. I enjoyed a superb whiskey and ginger ale cocktail before diving into a juicy pepper-crusted Pendleton Whiskey Steak with rice pilaf and baby carrots. We had a great time yakkin about all kinds of stuff and our meal was deeply satisfying.

This great meal finished my night. I watched a little college football on television and, before long, fell into a relaxed and deep sleep.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/17: Off to Pendleton, Since 2001, Solid Yakkin'

1. I popped out of bed around five a.m. to pack my bag and prepare for a weekend trip to Pendleton, OR. I'd had a blissful night's sleep thanks to the comfort of our brand new firm queen bed and the fresh sheets and blankets the Deke made it with. I strolled down Cameron Avenue to Sam's and enjoyed a cup of coffee with Ed, Jerry, Buff, Scott, and Aaron and soon Ed and I piled into his pickup, swung by our house to pick up my bags, and we headed to his house in Kingston where Jake picked us up and we began our drive to Pendleton.

2. Back in November of 2001, right after Thanksgiving, a bunch of us guys from the Kellogg High School Class of 1972 traveled to Portland for a weekend together of just plain playing. In 2005, we gave it a try in Lincoln City, OR and for a couple or three years we got together in Coeur d'Alene. For the last five years or so, we've congregated at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton and today Jake, Ed, Terry, Mike, and I all arrived soon after noon and our weekend got underway. We started at the lobby bar and enjoyed a couple of beers, fanned out, and each did our thing.

3. Around 3:30 or so, Mike, Ed, and I got together in Ed's room for a drink and some serious yakkin' and, after I went to my room and watched some basketball, I joined Jake and Terry back at the bar to watch the Zags play. It turned out I didn't pay much attention to the game because we got into more serious yakkin' with a couple of truck drivers, one seated down by Jake and another seated by me. The guy next to me was in his mid-thirties, lived in rural Eastern Oregon, and was waiting for his dad to come to the Wild Horse.  He and Jake and I yakked about the world today, the Sunshine Mine Fire, all the jobs this guy has done over the years, and, before long, Jake returned to the card table and Josh's dad showed up and I met him, yakked a bit, and decided it was time to go to bed.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/17: Money, Passed the Test, Smoked Meat

1.  I've had some financial questions nagging at me over the last week and so I made an appointment to see a financial advisor at the bank.  The Deke and I had a great conversation with the advisor we met with and I have a follow up appointment scheduled for Monday and I am feeling much more relaxed about things.

2. I passed the test. I now have an Idaho driver's license. Ditto the Deke. I couldn't register the Sube  today, but I'll do it next week. We are chipping away. We are getting things done.

3. After the meeting at the bank and the grueling test to secure our licenses at the Sheriff's Office, the Deke and I relaxed over a beer and a sandwich at The Hill Street Depot. We got in some good yakkin' with Liz, our server, and I really enjoyed my Hawaiian smoked pulled pork sandwich primarily because I love the Depot's smoked meats.

One more great thing happened today. The Furniture Exchange delivered our new queen bed and frame to our house and set it up. The Deke and I agreed that the firmness of this bed and the comfort of the bedding we purchased made our bed a source of comfort.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/17: Business, Imagining the Kitchen, Food for the Freezer

1. I spent more hours today taking care of business related to our house: moved Mom's single bed upstairs after removing the headboard -- no now space is cleared for our queen bed to arrive on Thursday; more insurance business; bills paid; I learned about the Idaho homeowner's tax exemption. I imagine a time will come in 2018 when we are settled in and have all these things taken care of.  For now, keep a quiet mind and chip away, slow and steady.

2. The Deke and I went to Cd'A and looked mainly at counters, cabinets, flooring, and doors. We didn't make any decisions, but we have a little better idea of what's available. We split a Thai beef sandwich and each ate a cup of beer cheese soup and drank a couple of small pours at Daft Badger and sketched out different kitchen configurations.

3. The Deke went to a knitting get together at Knit Knit in downtown CdA and I went to Costco to shop for frozen foods that we can warm up at Christy and Everett's (and Carol and Paul's?) during the remodel when our kitchen will be out of commission.  The Celtics and Lakers were playing on a television at Costco and when I stopped to watch the game, a sales rep from Direct TV approached me. I told him we don't have a television and that I haven't subscribed to a television service for over thirty years.

He told me that was cool.

Then we talked for a while about basketball -- namely, the NBA, and, even though my NBA IQ is much reduced these days, I enjoyed our exchange a lot. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/17: House Business, Lost and Found, Meatloaf Dinner

1.  I keep chipping away at getting business done related to Mom's estate. I made a very important visit today to the attorney's office and signed a document transferring Mom's house into mine and the Deke's names. The document has to be processed by the county, but essentially it means that we are home owners again. Completing the settlement with my sisters is in the works. Things are getting done.  We aren't there yet, but slowly, surely we are getting there.

2. I returned home from the attorney's office and from recycling some cardboard and aluminum cans. I opened the mail and detected an error in a bill we received. I wanted to call the company immediately, but I couldn't find my phone. I knew I'd had my phone when I went uptown. Suddenly, a lightning bolt hit me. I jumped back in the Sube and drove to the cardboard recycling dumpster. The lid of the dumpster is high overhead. I wondered if when I reached up to throw in the cardboard, if -- well, sure enough, I drove up to the dumpster and there was my phone, lying on the ground, right by the dumpster, cold, lonely, and eager to show me I had notifications.

I sighed in gratitude that I hadn't run over it earlier and that this recycling station is not very busy so no one else found my phone before I returned. I will also make sure, in the future, that if I do anything that requires me to throw things higher than my head, that my phone is in a secure pocket -- or just leave it in the Sube.

3. The Deke had thawed the uncooked meatloaf we had left over from nearly two weeks ago and she added more egg and saltine crackers to it so it held together better. In a single Pyrex pan she cooked the meatloaf and roasted baby potatoes and squash chunks. The result was a very delicious and deeply warming dinner with the added bonus that we have some meatloaf left over for sandwiches on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/17: Morning Walk, Numbers, Perfect Turkey Soup

1. The snow falling deterred the Deke and me from going out and doing a lot today, but we did take a walk down to Stein's.  I took a signed form to the insurance office next door to Stein's confirming the cancellation of Mom's auto insurance policy. We walked to the just to pick up some milk and the Deke very pleasantly surprised me when she purchased a couple of turkey legs. This could only mean one thing: turkey soup. But when?

2. The Deke went right to work simmering the turkey bone with onion and soon the mouth watering fragrance of turkey filled the house. In the middle of the afternoon, Shawn, the contractor, called.  He had a rough estimate ready to show us for remodeling the kitchen and doing other work. He dropped by a little later. We went over the numbers. No big surprises except we can get this project started sooner than we originally thought. The Deke and I have some talking to do. We have some figuring out to do. We should know more by the end of the week.

3. The turkey broth continued to simmer. Shawn left and suddenly the Deke decided tonight would be turkey soup night. She had to hustle to get the soup ready because she has her Beer Ed class at Radio Brewing on Monday nights. Suddenly, the Deke was not only chopping celery, but also a squash and she was boiling penne pasta. She dumped the meat back into the broth along with the celery and squash cubes and the boiled pasta and it all cooked for about twenty minutes in our new Dutch oven with the lid on.

The soup tasted even better than it smelled. I loved how the squash lightly sweetened the broth, making the soup both savory and oh so slightly sugary. Carrots might have performed similarly, but the squash gave the soup an even more delicious sweetness and I loved the squash's starchy and soft texture.

The best part of having the weather cool off is that the meals get warmer. Last night pot roast. Tonight turkey soup. Right now a meatloaf that's been in the freezer is thawed and ready for the oven. It will warm our Tuesday evening table.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/17: Wireless Sound, Matinee Show, Perfect Family Dinner

1.  The Deke and I are ready to experience the sound of streaming music into our home. This morning I read CNET reviews of different possibilities, focusing on Amazon's Echo products, different wireless speakers, and combining the two. I'm still contemplating -- everything sounds kind of fun. We'll see.

2. The Deke and I piled into the Sube around 1:30 for a drive to Wallace. We watched -- and sang along with -- Carol and Paul and the rest of their band at the Sixth Street Melodrama. They put on a musical production, Goin' for the Gold, Settlin' for the Silver.  It was a program of work, love, and Christian songs, with narrative material woven in as a tribute to the history of the Silver Valley. The work songs were particularly powerful for me and brought back great memories of teaching U. S. Working Class Literature with Margaret and, in particular, of the great songs in the movie, Harlan County, USA -- especially Merle Travis' masterpiece, "Dark as a Dungeon".  Team teaching that class with Margaret was a superb experience in my life as an instructor and I loved the class sessions when we focused on songs about work and labor and union organizing. It was uplifting to have those memories rush back to me during the program.

3. Our fun afternoon at the matinee performance just got more fun as the day darkened. A group of knitters meets at Radio Brewing on Sunday afternoons and the Deke joined in when we returned to Kellogg. She loved meeting new people, knitting with them, and getting in some serious yarn talk. I took a spot at the thinking table -- or the bar -- and enjoyed talking with the tasting room manager Meredith and, when she had customers to serve, reading recipes online.

After Radio Brewing, we went next door to Christy and Everett's for family dinner. Carol, Paul, Christy, Everett, the Deke, and I are trying to have dinner together on Sundays and, so far, as long as we are all in town, we are succeeding.

Christy made a delicious pitcher of pear and apple fall sangria for our cocktail half hour and for dinner we had a most delicious pot roast with potatoes and carrots, complemented by cornbread and a fresh apple salad. I asked Christy if the meat was a chuck roast because I was staggered by how moist and flavorful it was.

Now, I know the pot roast was so good because Christy worked her magic with the crock pot and with just the right seasonings, but I was staggered because the chuck roast brought back memories of some chuck roasts we had when we were kids that were kind of stringy and dry and required a lot of ketchup. I never minded the dry stringy chuck roast. Ha! I liked it.

Tonight's pot roast/chuck roast, however, was a revelation of just how good that cut of meat can be when slow cooked and seasoned right. The potatoes and carrots were also moist and perfectly prepared and absorbed some of the taste of the beef as they stewed in the broth created by the roast as it cooked.  What a perfect fall dinner to warm us up, especially as we experienced our first snowfall over the weekend, starting on Friday.

Christy made delicious bar cookies for dessert. They brought our meal and our lively conversations to a tasty conclusion.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/17: History Day, Zags Triumph, Inland Lounge Nightcap

1.  Spontaneously, today I got caught up in the life and tyranny of Joseph Stalin. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, Stephen Kotkin's second of a three volume biography of Stalin is available and Keith Gessen of Columbia University reviewed it in the latest issue of The New Yorker. I took courses in both the History of Russia and Modern European History back at Whitworth, but that's been over forty years ago and so, as I read Gessen's review, I traveled the World Wide Web a bit, reading up on, among other things, Lenin, the periods of terror in 20th century Russia, the collectivist programs Stalin enforced, and the German invasion of Russia in 1941. I wish I could say that all this reading today was merely interesting or that it was fascinating, but most of it was horrifying. I'll leave it at that.

I don't know if this link works for non-subscribers to The New Yorker, but if you'd like to see if Gessen's review comes up for you, it is here.

2.  It wasn't much of a game. Zags 96, College of Idaho 67. It didn't count on either team's record nor will it factor into each team's statistics. It was an exhibition game. All the same, it was fun going next door to Christy and Everett's to watch much of the game and to begin to get a little bit familiar with the players on this year's Gonzaga squad.  Watching the Zags got me a little fired up in anticipation of their participation in the PK80 Tournament in Portland over Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a power packed tournament. If you haven't looked into it, and want to go here.

3. I watched the game while the Deke was at a French speakers' meet-up and supper here in Kellogg. When she finished, she picked me up and we went up to the Inland Lounge for a nightcap and, lo and behold, Allan, Peggy, Nancy, and Ed were at the table in front of the fireplace and we joined them for some cocktails and a whole lot of yakkin'. It was a really fun surprise to meet up with them.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/17: Breakfast Club, Lively Time at Wallace Brewing, More Fun at the Lounge

1. I sprang out of bed around 5 a.m. and about an hour later I bounded down Cameron Avenue to Sam's and enjoyed breakfast with Ed, Buff, Jerry, and Scott and listened to a bunch of stories about rollers and cutting asphalt and the cost of pickup trucks. It was a good time and I've got to keep rolling myself out of bed every Friday morning to join these guys for six o'clock breakfast.

2. Later in the morning, I took care of some business at the bank.  The snow started to fall in the afternoon, but, undeterred, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and drove along the river and through the valley to Wallace Brewing. Shawn, the contractor who visited us Thursday, had invited us to join him and his wife and Patti Hei and Rod Plank and others to listen to one of the owners of the brewery, Chase, do a Facebook Live interview with Astrid. I didn't  really listen to the interview. I had a great time yakkin' -- I especially enjoyed talking with Patti. We are fellow Class of '72 grads from Kellogg, so we go way back and I learned a lot about what she's been up to, what she's experienced over the years, and how she's doing now. I also enjoyed a great conversation with Chase who told me all about opening the brewery back in 2008, some of his beer travels around the country, and about their once a year oak-aged strong ale called Vito. It was a lively, sometimes exuberant afternoon enjoyed over great beers with really good people.

3. Earlier, the Deke and I had decided we'd stop in and say hello to Cas at the Inland Lounge when we returned to Kellogg. Patti and Rod decided to drop in for a while, too, so the four of us sat in front of the Inland Lounge fireplace and continued yakkin' and all got to know each other even better.  The Deke was especially happy with the Manhattans Cas mixed for her. I got in some solid baseball yakkin' with Cas. My deal was to recall Pittsburgh Pirate players from the deep past and remark that it was too bad the Dodgers didn't have past Pirates Vernon (The Deacon) Law or Al McBean or Manny Mota or Smokey Burgess or Don Clendenon on their 2017 squad or they might have gotten over the hump and defeated the Astros in the World Series. (I forgot to mention Bob Veale.) As a bonus, as we were about to leave the Lounge, in strolled Ashley and Fred, the owners of Radio Brewing, and we had fun jawin' with them for a little while before we headed home with a stop at Christy and Everett's to talk with them after their very eventful day.  Among other things, Riley got neutered.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/17: Eye Check Up, Finances, Remodeling Ideas and the Thinking Table

1. I started the day with a solid check up at the Kellogg Vision Center. On Wednesday, there had been a screw up regarding my insurance -- the provider made an error over the telephone -- and I had a good laugh with the woman at the front counter about it. My eyes haven't changed much, but Dr. Miller and I decided I'd get a new slightly strengthened prescription.

2. I spent time figuring out some more of the finances of Mom's estate and made a call to financial institution where we have some money invested to find out about moving some funds into the estate account here in Kellogg. I talked with a very friendly guy who sounded, well, to me, sounded a lot like Kai Rysdaal, the host of the radio show, Marketplace. The Kai Rysdaal sound alike guy explained my options very clearly to me and I now know I need to make a trip to the bank on Friday morning to see Cyndy to get this transaction underway. By the way, I kept waiting for the Kai Rysdaal sound alike guy to say, "Let's do the numbers".

3.  Later in the afternoon, Shawn, a local contractor came by and told us a little bit of his story as to how he and his wife decided to move to Kellogg early in 2017. Then he and the Deke talked a lot about ways we might remodel the main floor of our house. Right now, we are mainly interested in remodeling the kitchen, taking up the carpeting in the living room, painting, and improving the spatial relationship between the kitchen and the living room. Shawn had great ideas -- he has a lively and imaginative mind -- and we settled on a rough idea of what he and his crew might do and we will look for an estimate next week. 

After dealing with my eyes, money, and great conversation with Shawn, I was a little spent -- and so was the Deke -- so we decided to debrief over an order of fish and chips and some small glasses of beer at Radio Brewing.  I loved my glasses of ESB and the fish and chips at Radio Brewing please us deeply. What you might call the bar, we call the thinking table and we put the thinking table to great use this evening.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/17: Tasks Completed, Carol's Home, Christy's Home

1. Every day the Deke and I try to get at least one more task completed in our efforts to get settled in Kellogg. We accomplished a bit more than that today: we had an estimator come by to take a look at our gutters; I talked with a builder about coming to the house on Thursday to discuss painting -- and maybe other things; we went over to the Crall's house and looked at what it did to their living room and kitchen when they had a wall removed between the two rooms.  The Deke completed more paperwork in relation to medical stuff and insurance and I filled out paperwork related to my Thursday eye check up. I also got on the horn and straightened out a small mix up with my health insurance provider.

We also continued to take sample Idaho driver's license tests online.  I hope we'll feel ready to take the test soon!

I gave another task the old college try, but fell short: I tried cleaning the oven with soap and water -- I did a pretty good job, but, alas, I'll need some Easy Off to really get this task done.

2.  Carol dropped by to pick up a book and reported that she had an excellent trip to Portland. She was on her way to dress rehearsal for the show, "Goin' for Gold, Settlin' for Silver". It sounds to me like they are performing a bunch of songs related to local history in the Silver Valley. We will be attending this Sunday's matinee show.

3. Soon after Carol left, Christy came by. She had also been away for the last few days and reported that she and Everett and the dogs (Riley and Tucker) also had a splendid get away to Priest Lake and the surrounding area. We yakked with Christy for a while and then settled into an evening of cheese and crackers and hummus and crackers, setting aside our original plans to have a Marcella Hazan spaghetti dinner. We just had a little party instead.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/17: Bank Business, Trick or Treat, Photo Stroll Next Door

1.  I popped into the bank this morning and deposited the refund from Kindred into Mom's estate account and asked Cyndy to walk with me through the paperwork required to make my third of a claim on Mom's IRA. Cyndy only complaint was that her witch wig was making her head hot. I was very grateful when she assured me that I pretty much knew what I was doing, so I went to a cubicle next to hers, filled out the forms, and she sent them in.  I feel a little lighter with each task I complete in settling Mom's affairs.

2. Being back in Kellogg, I was a little more excited than usual for Halloween. I bought a bag each of Nestle's Crunch bars, Reese's peanut butter cups, Mars bars, and Twixes, all candy bars I would have wanted back in the heyday of trick or treating the generous families of Sunnyside here in Kellogg. I never went all out as far as dressing up, but I enjoyed how kind people were and, of course, enjoyed arriving home and spreading out my sugary riches to assess what our neighbors gave me. Tonight's turnout was solid and we have about a dozen candy treats left in case we ever get the urge for a little chocolaty snack.

3.  Before going uptown with the Deke for a couple of small beers before dinner and the trick or treaters, I wandered over to Christy and Everett's yard and took some pictures of plants and flowers.  I ended my session taking a couple of pictures out in a little garden plot by the front of our garage.  They are the last two of this set:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/30/17: (4000th Post), A Bed!, Watts Shopping, Naps and Snacks

(I created kellogg bloggin' back on October 1, 2006, inspired by articles I'd read in the New York Times over the previous few years about weblogs. I thought a blog might motivate me to write more frequently. Before long, I discovered Clare Law's blog, Three Beautiful Things. I discovered that people around the world were writing within this structure, so I decided to give it a try. I've also participated in other writing and photography projects with other people. I used to contribute to the now defunct Sunday Scribblings and my sisters and I have written nearly two hundred sibling assignments and done several sibling photography assignments.

I bring this up because I am about to write my 4000th post here at kellogg bloggin'. I've had some periods when I fell off posting to this blog, but, for the most part, I've remained committed to doing what I set out to do: write something daily.)

1.  The Deke and I sat down and made a serious attempt to chart out what we want to get done around the house and when.  At the top of the list? Buy ourselves a bed!

We did that today. After much deliberation at the Furniture Exchange, we purchased a queen bed and it will arrive next week.

2. We are also planning to buy a gas range and a smaller refrigerator.  I realized that in all the years I've lived in the Silver Valley and in all the years I've visited, that I'd never been to Watts Appliance in Pinehurst.  We sauntered in. Sherri greeted us and provided us with copious knowledge about gas ranges, refrigerators, and range hoods.

I stepped aside at one point and glanced at the historical pictures of Pinehurst hanging on the wall and wanted to spend more time studying them and remembering the Pinehurst of 40 and more years ago. We knew we wouldn't be making a purchase today, but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Watts Appliance.  Sherri gave us a lot to ponder in a most friendly and helpful way.

3.  Back home, the Deke and I finished the leftovers from last night's dinner and we both collapsed into long naps. I guess shopping for a bed and looking at appliances exhausted us. The sleep revived us and before long we got the hummus, cheeses, corncakes, crackers, cream cheese, and fresh ground chili paste back out and enjoyed a dinner of snacks.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/17: Errands in CdA, Mad Bomber Brewing, Cheese Plate and Angus Tips

1. The Deke and I decided to nail down some errands in CdA: I got the Sube's wheels retorqued at Costco; we shopped for a few things at Costco; then the Deke picked up a picture she'd had framed at Michael's, a picture that has been in her life for sixty years; we bought some things at Fred Meyer, including a bottle of red wine, Effie's Crispy Corncakes, and three small chunks of cheese from the Murray's cheese counter.

2. In between Michael's and Fred Meyer, I introduced the Deke to Mad Bomber Brewing in Hayden. We ordered an eight beer flight with samples of everything from porter to red ale, rye ale to Oktoberfest, and black ale to IPA. The beers are bold and flavorful -- I especially enjoyed the Oktoberfest, the Scotch Ale, and the porter and loved my return engagement with the Fatman IPA.

3. Back in Kellogg, the Deke and I enjoyed a cheese and cracker plate, including hummus and some saltines topped with cream cheese and fresh ground chili paste, imitating a sample the Deke tried at Costco -- the sample was on a rice cracker, but we loved it all the same on the saltine. Later on, we had a delicious dinner. Costco sells Mission Hill Bistro Angus steak tips, carrots, and potatoes with gravy. I enriched the gravy by adding some red wine and we ate this over white rice. We each enjoyed a small bowl and left ourselves another meal for Monday.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/17: Bernie's Funeral, The Reception, Dinner with Jake and Carol Lee

1. I spiffed up late this morning and vaulted into the Sube and lit out for the Wallace Elks.  I climbed upstairs for the Elks Funeral Service in celebration of the life of Bernard (Bernie) Mattern.  I never met Bernie, but Bernie is Byrdman's father-in-law and I went in support of Byrdman and Stephanie and in gratitude for the Mattern cabin up the North Fork of the CdA River where I have spent and will continue to spend blissful afternoons and evenings with Byrdman and the extended Mattern family. The family has always received me openly and generously and Bernie was the Mattern patriarch.

2. As grow older, I have also learned that funerals afford all of us the opportunity to see longtime acquaintances and friends -- and sometimes I haven't seen some of these people for decades. Such was the case today. Now, I've seen Mary Lynn in recent years and we are Facebook friends, but it had been forty-five years since I'd seen her husband, John, as well as Wallace High grads Rob Gillies and Jerry Keane. I've seen Dan Carrico up the river, and it was fun to talk to him and to see his and Byrdman's brother-in-law, Tim.  Diane Hogan (KHS Class of '72) tends bar at the Wallace Elks and during a lull in the action, Diane and I slipped in a stellar conversation.  I ended my stay at the reception sitting with Byrdman, Stephanie, members of both of their families, and Rob Gillies. I learned a whole lot from Rob about his son's business in Eugene and a group of guys he hangs out with at different Silver Valley watering holes on Fridays.  I hope to catch them one afternoon at the Inland Lounge.

3. Once I returned home, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and glided out to Rose Lake for dinner with Jake and Carol Lee at their home on the lake. Carol Lee poured us each a Dark and Stormy made with black cherry rum -- that was fun -- and we gabbed for a while and then sat down to an epic dinner.

Carol Lee served rotisserie pork roast and cooked apples, a potato casserole, roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, and delicious bread rolls. It was a superb meal, paired perfectly with a blended red wine from Columbia Crest. A slow glass of Kahlua and half and half on ice topped it off perfectly.

We did a little more yakkin' and kept an eye on the World Series. We relaxed like this until about 8 o'clock when the Deke and I hit the road and returned to Kellogg.

We had a great evening for which we are most grateful.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/17: Tires Rotated, Midtown Deli, Kellogg Boys at Corby's

1.  I took the Sube into Costco in CdA this afternoon and had the tires rotated. I killed forty-five minutes looking around, eating a few samples, and trying to get the layout of this store affixed in my mind.

2. I went over to Byrdman's house and we drove to Post Falls and each ate a sandwich at Midtown Deli, a drive up sandwich shop housed in a little hut I associate with coffee stands. We sat out in the sun, enjoyed our food, and got our serious afternoon and early evening of yakkin' underway.

3. Byrdman and I headed over to Corby's. After a while, the proprietor Dave Corbeil (aka Corby or Big Pappy) sauntered in his joint and yakked with Byrdman and me for a while. A little later,  more Kellogg boys strolled in: Lars and Jake joined us and then Stu came in and Tony Rinaldi came over to our table to say hello. It's a lot of fun to sit around and chew the fat with guys I've known for nearly as long as I can remember and to enjoy the stories as they fly around the table.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/26/17: More Home Pictures, City Park Photo Spree, Exquisite Lager at Radio Brewing

1. Once again, I took some pictures in and around the house. I'm enjoying taking pictures again after a long layoff and it's especially fun to photograph the light and shadows in the back yard. I'll post pictures at the end of this post, including one of our house -- some readers of this blog have asked me to do that.

2. I needed to go to Yoke's for a few things and turned my outing into a shopping spree and photo spree. I parked in the swimming pool parking lot and with October light shining through the brown, red, and yellow leaves, I took a bunch of pictures of leaves and experimented with some out of focus shots -- they failed -- and with a shots where I opened my aperture as wide and nearly as wide as possible.  My inner jury is still out about the softness of these shots. I like that these pictures look less like the leaves we see with our own eyes -- it makes them a little more abstract. I'm going to live with these shots for a while longer, try some more of them, and maybe one day I'll arrive at a conclusion about how much I like this approach.  I love the bokeh the wide aperture produces.

If you'd like to glance at the pictures I've taken the last couple of days, I put everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in my flickr albums.  The pictures I took Wednesday and Thursday are here, here, and here.

3. The engineers over at have been repairing problems the last day or two and today they seemed to have at least temporarily repaired what was broken. I was able to (slowly) upload pictures and create albums of my last two days of picture taking which allows me to more readily work with pictures on my Chromebook.  While I was working on this, Christy arrived and told us about the photo session she and Everett had in (or near) Osburn. They will have pictures to send out at Christmas now and to keep for other purposes.

The Deke and Christy went over to Jane's next door to look at all the work she's had done on her house. I joined them, looked around, and then the Deke and I needed to return to the store to buy what I forgot. On the way, we decided to take a detour to Radio Brewing.

I sat at the bar and realized I'd never tried their Golden Age Lager. It's one of the most pleasant, light, and tasty lagers I've ever tried. The Deke had made a fox ears hat for one of the owners, Ashley. Ashley was wearing it when we arrived and she was stoked. The Deke had a great time yakkin' with Ashley and Becky and I spent time in quiet bliss sipping on the exquisite lager in my glass.

Then Fitz came in and Becky introduced us and he and I got to yakkin' about the Milo Creek project, his work on the County Commissioners board, the Dodgers of the 1970s and early 80s, and about people he knows after living here for over twenty years who are people I've known since I was a kid: Abbie, Cas, Mountain Man Miller, and others.

Great stuff.

Here are some pictures, beginning with Mom's/our house:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/17: Sprinklers and Hoses, Guests for Dinner, Home Pictures

1. The guy came today to blow out the sprinkler system and I seized the moment and brought the garden hoses indoors.  Well, I brought one hose indoors. The no-knot floppy hoses that jump all over the place if I'm not holding them when I turn on the water? May they rest in peace. They went in the garbage can.

2. Next door, Mike is taking care of Jane's house while she is traveling in Italy. Tonight we hosted dinner with Mike and Christy and Everett. The Deke took over the kitchen and fixed a dynamite meatloaf and she baked all but one of the remaining potatoes Ed bought in Montana. The Deke also made a delicious celery, radish, apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad. Mike lived in the Silver Valley about forty years ago and stories about the good ole days and conversation about the beauty of places to go in North Idaho flew around the table.

3. Earlier in the day, I broke out my camera for the first time in months. To shake off the rust, I decided to focus on trying to take pictures of Maggie and Charly indoors and took pictures around the back and front yard outdoors. I'm also accepting the challenge of posting a black and white picture each day on Facebook, so I took some pictures that I hope are worthy of the challenge.  Here is a sampling of the pictures:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/17: Fillings and Blood Draw, Fall in Spokane, Chowder for Dinner

1.  First thing this morning, I took a little jaunt down the block to Bird Family Dental and spent about an hour enjoying the friendly and careful work of Dr. Bird and his assistants while they worked together to enhance my dental health with a couple of fillings. When I was younger, I dreaded going to the dentist, but over the last twenty years or so, I've worked with dental hygienists and dentists and their assistants who have not only made going to the dentist painless, but their manner and good work has motivated me to take increasingly better care of my teeth and gums.

I arrived home, got my blood draw kit together, and dropped in on the fine people at Shoshone Medical Center where my monthly blood draw for the Univ. of Maryland Transplant Center went smoothly. I left feeling very happy.

2. The Deke and I piled into the Sube and motored over to Spokane Valley to check out the Value Village on Pines and Sprague. It wasn't quite what the Deke was looking for and we decided not to go to any nore vintage or thrift stores. We drove down Sprague into Spokane and gawked at all the reds, vermillions, and golden tones of the great variety of turning trees, especially on the South Hill, and stopped for a stroll at the majestic Manito Park.  We wrapped up our day in Spokane with a short visit to Paradise Fibers, the Deke's paradise, for sure. It was fun to drive both aimlessly and purposefully around Spokane and to admire its beauty on this flawless autumn day.

3. The Deke and I have been talking a lot about purchasing some kind of cast iron soup/stew/chowder utensil. We stopped at Fred Meyer in CdA to buy some raw shrimp and other items in support of a potato, shrimp, and corn chowder recipe we wanted to try out. We also visited the kitchenwares and decided to buy an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Once home, I dove into preparing this evening's meal. I peeled and chopped a couple of the huge potatoes Ed gave us on Saturday. I did my best to chop the potatoes and the celery and onion into small pieces and I minced five cloves of garlic. Next I peeled the shrimp, put a tablespoon of butter in the Dutch oven, and cooked the shrimp, then set them aside. I then built the soup, step by step, cooking the onion and celery in more butter, adding flour and garlic to the mix, pouring in chicken broth and the potatoes and paprika, boiled it, let it simmer and then added the corn and let the mixture simmer some more. The last step was to add the half and half, Old Bay seasoning, and chopped shrimp and heat up the chowder. I loved how our new Dutch oven performed.

We served the chowder with slices of artisan bread. We loved the layers of flavors and the texture of the broth. I am especially fond of fish soup and loved the way the liquid from the shrimp harmonized with the chicken broth, half and half, paprika, Old Bay, celery, onion, and the garlic.

Next time I make this soup, I'll let the potatoes cook a little longer. The recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes and I'll use them next time. They might cook quicker than the russets we used. Following the recipe left the russets slightly undercooked. It was a small flaw in our otherwise deeply satisfying chowder.

Want to try it?  The recipe is right here

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/17: Notebooks and Changes, Mowing, Taking Notebooks Uptown

1. Moving to a new place with a different cost of living and figuring out retirement income takes some time and figuring out what changes we want to make in the house in the short term all required the Deke and me to spend some time with spiral notebooks and pens, writing down numbers and lists. We've moved from sorting out Mom's belonging to sorting out our new life.

2. I hadn't run Mom's lawn mower for a few years because Paul and Cosette had taken over the mowing duties. Well, this afternoon, on this clear, fresh, bracing  gold and vermillion autumn day, I decided to see if I could run the machine and mow our too long neglected lawn. I figured out how the grass catcher comes off and on. I figured out how to prime the engine. I knew how to pull the cord to start the mower and, after a few tugs, the mower came alive and I spent the next hour or so mowing rectangles in the back and front lawns. It turned out to be quite a workout for me and, when I finished, I ate a bowl or two of the delicious improvised rice salad the Deke made and lay down with the book, Facing Ali. I finished the book and my reward for mowing the lawn was a welcome and restful nap.

3. At first I didn't think I wanted to join the Deke uptown in advance of her Monday night Beer Ed class at Radio Brewing, but I thought how fun it would be to sit at a table with our spiral notebooks and continue our conversation about our living situation and finances and the near future. So we went uptown about an hour before the Deke's class started and continued to map things out, made some decisions, left some things on the table, and enjoyed a snack of smoked salmon flat bread.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/17: Hauling, Reward Nap, Family Dinner

1. On Saturday, I cleared out the storage closets. Christy and Carol sorted the items. Today, I took them out of the house. I made several trips up and down the stairs, more trips out to the garage, and, three times, I loaded up the Sube and went to St. Vincent dePaul's in Osburn twice and made one trip to the county dump. Now the upstairs is cleared out. The main floor is cleared out -- and, if not 100%, it's very close. I know I have a few odds and ends to take care of in the basement. The last project will be to sort out and move on Mom's different items in the back yard and the front. We started on this project in the summer, but we still have some things to make decisions about.

Slow and steady. We are gettin' there.

2. This afternoon, all this work caught up to me. The Deke and I shared a plate of saltine crackers, salami, sharp Vermont cheese, Oregon blue cheese, pickles, pepperoncinis, and Kalamata olives. Then I changed into my nightwear and collapsed into bed. My legs were rubbery from all the trips up and down the stairs and all the hauling of boxes, rugs, pillows, medical supplies and other things out to the garage and then to the Sube. I fell into a deep and hungry sleep, a satisfying sleep, a reward for getting a lot of good work done.

3. Tonight Carol hosted our Sunday family dinner. She fixed boneless and bone in baby back ribs with two different sauces, a cabbage ramen salad, roasted root vegetables, and a gluten-free and white sugar-free apple honey upside down cake. We all loved this dinner and enjoyed lively conversation before dinner with a hot apple brandy drink and the good yakkin' continued as we ate. After dinner, the Deke gave Paul another quick guitar lesson -- I'm starting to wonder if these lessons will be an ongoing part of our dinners on occasional Sunday nights. We'll see. The Deke is a superb teacher, by the way.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/17: Moving Day, Storage Closet Success, Party Time in Kellogg

1. It was a roaring day in our house today. Paul and Carol and Christy came over and before too long Paul drove off in Everett's truck with the double bed from upstairs and the dresser from the downstairs back bedroom and other smaller items from around the house.  Later, Carol and Paul hauled Mom's rolltop desk over to Christy's. I was going to go to the dump, but since Paul was going and had the truck, he took our stuff with his. I, on the other, hand swung by Carol and Paul's and added things to donate to St. Vincent de Paul's to ours in the Sube and made a quick trip to Osburn to the donation center.

2. Growing up in this house, maybe the two words I dreaded the most were "storage closet". This house was constructed with deep narrow storage areas, crawl spaces,  just under the roof on the north and south sides of the house.  Mom packed both of them with tubs of Christmas ornaments and lights and garlands, boxes of stuffed animals, a vintage wedding dress, old board games -- like Pass Out and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, a box of newspapers featuring world events like the Kennedy assassination, the Gulf War, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the bombing of Baghdad and other events, old luggage, purses, and hats, and more.

I vowed today to move all the tubs and boxes and other items out of the storage closets. Luckily, it's cool outside. In the summer, the storage closets were thick with heat, seeming to be twenty degrees hotter than outside.  But, I was on my knees a lot, crawling to reach into the far ends of these closets to pull out boxes of pictures, a stack of books, boxes of used and unused greeting cards, the back brace Mom hated, and other things.

I succeeded. With the double bed and two rocking chairs out of the upstairs bedroom, I had plenty of room where I could put the storage closet things so Christy and Carol could sort through them, take what they want, decide what to donate to the Baptist Church's Christmas decorations sale, and decide what goes to St. Vincent de Paul's.

And, to my great pleasure, filling me with gratitude, Christy and Carol both came over in the early afternoon, completed their tasks, and now I know what to do with the things that were in the storage closets.

Yes, physically, we cleared out a lot of things today.

I also felt psychologically cleansed and relieved.

It's remarkable how much these things pile up in a house and weigh on my mind.

3. The Deke and I started our party soon after 4:00 up at the Inland Lounge where the Deke got to meet Eddie Joe, Bucky, Bucky's wife, Debbie, Bird Legs, and his wife Gloria. We drank a little Maker's Mark in honor of Debbie's deceased (2009) brother David's would have been 59th birthday which fell on the 19th of October.  We also got in some solid yakkin' and jokin' around with Cas. The joint was rockin' and it was a blast to be in on the party.

Then we walked up to Radio Brewing and split an order of fish and chips. Stephen and Cedris came up to the bar where we were seated and encouraged us to think about subbing in the local schools.  The Deke has definitely thought about doing this and I gave it serious thought for the first time listening to Stephen and Cedris. I had vowed, when I left LCC, to be done with teaching, but who knows? Maybe I'll give subbing a whirl. I'm unsure.

Christy had texted us, inviting us to Best Shots. We accepted and walked back to the car down on McKinley Ave. and glided over to Best Shots. Soon we were joined by Ed, who not only wanted to see us, but also brought me and the Deke a plastic bag of potatoes, each spud the size of the 1969 VW Bug I bought from Bob Svingen Motors back in 1972.  They are beautiful potatoes and will be fun to cook.

Wow! What a day! What an evening! Family, friends, food, memorializing David, more family! Moving, donating, sorting, partying: having a ton of fun in our new hometown of Kellogg, Idaho.

We are loving it here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/17: Slowly and Steadily, Session at the Inland Lounge, The Deke's Way is Great

1. I buckled down this morning and did a little math and arrived at how Mom's assets should divide out between Christy, Carol, and me. Carol dropped by to sign some papers regarding the transfer of a grave plot Dad owns in Spokane and she had, independently of me, done some math of her own and our numbers essentially matched. We are still waiting to be able to deposit a couple of Mom's assets into her estate account. I'm very happy that the three of us agree on this division. 

Carol went to Wallace to transfer the title of Mom's car into her name and neither one of us had the legal acumen to realize that I, as the estate's personal representative, would be the one to release the title. So, Carol got the necessary paperwork in Wallace, drove all the way back to Kellogg, presented me with the papers to sign, and she drove back to Wallace and submitted the papers. Carol is now the rightful and legal owner of Mom's 2009 Chevy Malibu.

Slowly, steadily we are learning more about closing out an estate and we are getting it done.

2. I enjoy going up to the Inland Lounge just as it opens on Fridays and Saturdays at 3:00. It's usually not too busy and I can get in some yakkin' with Cas. I had a good session today for about ninety minutes. I enjoyed drinking a throwback favorite -- in fact, a favorite of Dad's -- VO and water, and not only did I get in some good banter with Cas, but had another fun time listening to Doug "Bird Legs" Burmeister tell me more tales about, among other things, bowling trips to Reno and Las Vegas, his observations of his mid-ninety year old parents, and what he sees as the prospects for the 2017-18 Kellogg Wildcat boys' basketball squad -- Bird Legs likes their chances to do really well.

3. Back home, the Deke got out some computer printing paper and a ruler and drew a diagram of our kitchen, with special emphasis on the cupboards and drawers and mapped out, in writing, what we will put in each one. She also cleared stuff off the walls of the stairs going into the basement. Her charting of the kitchen is a work of genius. Her plan is logical, increases the convenience of our kitchen, and will help us be even better organized.

Not only did the Deke work this out, she also prepared a spaghetti squash baked with ground sausage and Swiss chard. Christy and Everett joined us for dinner and we were all mightily impressed with the Deke's cooking and our meal.

I am staggered, in the best way possible way, by how much energy the Deke has for cooking, playing music, and other projects around the house now that she is retired. I have always loved to cook and was stoked over the last several years to do the cooking for the two of us, but now we are both cooking and getting other tasks done and it's mighty fun working together on these things.

It's especially fun to eat the Deke's cooking again: she's really good at it.

I mean, really good.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/17: Surprise Visit to the Dentist's Office, More Papers, Guys on the Road

1. Around 8:00, I was just getting ready to dive back into tasks when my phone rang. Kathy down at Bird Family Dental had a cancellation and so a spot opened up for me. I got myself organized and walked a block down Cameron Avenue and before I knew it, Kathy was x-raying my teeth and polishing and cleaning them.  When I lived in Maryland, twice I was in Kellogg when I needed my six month check up and saw Kathy. I am very happy that Kathy will be my regular hygienist now. Not only is she someone I've known for many years, but she's the best hygienist to ever treat my teeth. She's calm, personable, thorough, meticulous, unhurried, attentive, knowledgeable, and straight forward about any problems she sees and talks about them in a frank and even manner.

2. While Kathy was treating me, my cell phone rang. Debbie from Attorney Mike Peacock's office called to find out if I had the warranty deed for Mom and Dad's house. Well, it just so happened as I was spending those several days sorting through Mom's papers that I came across it and, for once, I was smart enough to do the right thing and not to put it in the shred pile. I kept it out, figuring it might be of help when it came time to transfer ownership of the house. I also knew, and this is the real miracle, right where I'd put it, so, when I returned home, I dug out the warranty deed -- marveled at the fact that it is fifty-five years old --, filled out the inventory of Mom's assets, and delivered them to Mike Peacock's office.  Waiting for me at his office was a letter to the Shoshone County Sheriff, telling the office that the Deke and I live in this house and that a transaction is underway for us to buy it. This letter will allow us to prove our residency when we go to secure an Idaho driver's license.

3. The Deke went on a series of errands to Osburn and Kellogg. One task was to mail the papers needed for my sisters and me to make a claim on a small life insurance policy Mom held for sixty-one years. Getting the forms and death certificates and everything in order for this task wasn't a huge deal, but an unfamiliar one.  Thankfully, I called the company the other day to make sure I had the papers we needed in order and learned that I had been missing one form. I filled it out. The Deke served as the disinterested person confirming that all was in order and now the papers are off to Michigan.

These tasks involving paperwork always take a lot out of me and I assumed the prone position for a couple of hours on the couch this afternoon -- I'd also been up since 4:15 a.m -- and napped and rested.

The Deke and I marked the end of another day of making progress by going to Radio Brewing for some late afternoon beers and I enjoyed yakking a little with some guys in their twenties or so from Pennsylvania and Ohio who were on a road trip across the country -- possibly they were looking for America (I forgot to ask them). One of them had the last name of Kellogg, so they decided they had to stop, come uptown, and check out this little brewery in this small town.

Radio Brewing blew them away: they were awed by what a great environment Ashley and Fred have created in the building and they loved the beer. 

The Deke roasted us a couple of chicken thighs with chopped baby potatoes and cubed squash for dinner. It was perfect.  I, then, turned in early, around 8:00, satisfied with the day, looking forward to getting more accomplished on Friday.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/18/17: Morning Business, Fun in CdA, Double D Pils with a Taco and Soup

1. I buckled down again this morning and took care of more business related to Mom's estate. I called the Woman's Life to make sure I had everything in order to make a claim on the policy Mom held and learned I had one more form to complete.  I'm glad I called.

I went to Wells Fargo where Mom banked and with the help of Cynthia, closed her accounts and set up an estate account.

I had a couple or three questions for Attorney Mike Peacock and took a break from my work with Cynthia to talk with him and I think I understand how the process toward settling things and how dispersing Mom's assets works.

Being the executor -- or personal representative -- of Mom's estate is a solemn responsibility and I am doing my best to make sure I do right by Christy and Carol as we work together to figure things out.

2.  By 11:00, I had completed this morning's business and so the Deke and I slowly but surely got ourselves ready to go to Coeur d'Alene to have a little fun. We were going to take care of some business there, but since we got off to a late start, we limited our activities to poking around in a couple of thrift stores and an antique shop -- we came up empty, by the way --, a walkthrough at Pilgrim's Market so the Deke could get a sense of the place and we could buy a few things, and doing a little shopping at Fred Meyer.  In a moment of spontaneity, the Deke dropped in at Bear Paw Quilting to buy what she needs to sew some placemats. We had fun taking our time, letting the spirit move us as to what we'd do next, and relaxing at these different stores.

3. We fully relaxed at Daft Badger. I ordered a short pour of the Double D Pilsner, named after and brewed in memory of Daft Badger co-founder Darrell Dlouhy's recently deceased brother Duane. It's a great beer. On the one hand, it pays homage to Duane's love of Coors Light by being light in alcohol volume and bitterness, but it deftly departs from Coors Light by being a much more complex and full flavored beer. For me, it was the perfect beer to drink with the very tasty order of spicy beef tacos the Deke and I split and the bracing cup of chicken tortilla soup I ordered as a side. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/17: Tasks, Working at Stein's, Green Curry and "America"

1.  I spent the better part of the day on the phone making appointments: gutter work, furnace tune-up, attorney, dentist, eye exam, bank, and on and on and then entered them all in my online calendar so I'll get reminders and notifications. My sisters and I have a claim to make on a small life insurance policy Mom took out many many years ago and I gathered documents for that and will call the company Wednesday morning to make sure I have everything they need to process our claim. Our family owns a grave plot in Spokane and I gathered the paperwork necessary to send it in so we can transfer ownership of it, by donation, to Hospice of North Idaho. Slowly, steadily I'm getting things either done or underway in the effort to both settle Mom's estate and get established in Kellogg.

2. I needed brown sugar to make our dinner tonight and I wanted to replenish our milk and half and half supply. I put on my backpack and strolled down West Cameron Avenue to Stein's. Every time I walk into Stein's, it's all I can do to stop myself from going to the back room and putting on a red apron and going to work stocking shelves, bagging and carrying out groceries, cleaning up breakage, incinerating boxes, or reorganizing the stock room. I walk in and still, forty-eight years later, expect to see Sally or Beryl or Vi or Olivia or Susan or Bernice or Donna or other checkers working the cash registers; I still expect to see Chuck over at the Customer Service counter or Gus butchering away in the meat department; I think of the great guys I stocked shelves with: Meryl, Dickie, Dale, Jim, Rob, Terry, Tim, and many others and I swear, as I picked up a pack of brown sugar from the baking aisle, that I could hear the voice of Sally coming over the store's sound system: "All boxboys up front please!"

Today Loverboy was playing as I shopped, a stark contrast to when we worked to an endless loop of Muzak that repeated -- what? on the hour? every two hours? Back then, when I got off shift I had to do something to get the Muzak out of my head. Sometimes I piled with Tim O'Reilly into his Datsun and he drove us through town once or twice and we listened to Neil Diamond or I'd go home and find a way to play some Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Led Zeppelin or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Walking by the beer case reminded me of the time a customer walked up to me and asked me where the suds were.

I escorted him to the Tide/Cheer/Wisk aisle.

He got a little indignant and said, laughing at me, "Beer. Where's the beer?"

My face reddened.

That stung.

Still does.

When I shop at Stein's.

3.  I needed the brown sugar because finally, after too many months of not doing it, I cooked up some Thai green curry. Last week I bought tofu, fish sauce, green curry paste, and coconut milk at Pilgrim's Market in Coeur d'Alene.

I loved finally making Thai curry again. I cubed the tofu and wrapped the cubes in paper towels to drain. I looked up in past blog posts for a reminder of the ratio I like of curry paste to coconut milk and, oh yeah!, we like our curry on the mild side and one teaspoon of paste for each can of milk suffices.  Well, I tasted this and it seemed a bit too coconutty to me, so I added about a half a teaspoon of paste and seemed to hit the mark.

I heated up oil in the cast iron pan and poured in chopped onion and some fresh ginger. Soon I added the tofu. I boiled some cut up baby red potatoes and, once I could poke a fork in them, I added them to the pan along with a handful of frozen green beans.  Meanwhile, the jasmine rice was cooking and I added a tablespoon of fish sauce and brown sugar to the coconut milk and curry paste and let it simmer until the green beans thawed.

I poured the curry sauce over the stir fired ingredients and sat down at the kitchen table with a tiny cheese spread jar that held a single ice cube and a some George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whisky and listened to Simon and Garfunkel sing "America" and I thought about how the last three years living in Maryland, driving the New Jersey Turnpike to New York (but not countin' cars),  hanging out in the Village and Lower East Side with Scott, talking about her social justice work with Mary at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan, seeing two plays with the Deke on Broadway, drinking Jameson's with bottles of Dirt Wolf with Mike and Ed at O'Hara's after going to the top of the One World Trade Center, touring Philadelphia, walking the National Mall, shopping at the Beltsville Costco, eating and drinking and listening to stories with employees of the Prince George's County School District, frequently spending Sunday afternoons at DC Brau, driving to Cooperstown and, much later,  the back roads of Pennsylvania to officiate Julie and Curtis' wedding in Huntingdon, motoring along the Maryland Eastern Shore, along with the many other things I did, added up to this: I was looking for America. I looked along the Chicago River, in the emptied out pre-apocalyptic mall in Elyria, OH, in the faces of cheerful patrons at the Laughing Sun Brewing Co. in Bismark, in the music of The Babes with Axes, and, back in Kellogg, I now look for America in the stories I hear at the Inland Lounge, the cast iron pots and pans at Sunnyside Drug, and in family dinners on Sunday.

The curry turned out beautifully and the Deke and I were both happy that we have found the right products here in North Idaho to fix curry we like. We look forward to more.

I concluded as Simon and Garfunkel closed out their performance of  "America" at Central Park that, for me, the best way to look for America is to let all of its variety and languages and landscapes tell me, teach me what America is. I haven't gone looking to confirm a predetermined idea of America.  The America I look for is not an idea. It's what's there.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/17: Slow and Steady, Afternoon Stroll, Walking Uptown on Memory Lane

1.  The Deke and I are working steadily at trying to get all the business taken care of related to living at a new address, helping out with Mom's business, and continuing to make decisions about the house itself. We made progress today -- more address changes in the mail, added more tasks to our list, worked more on figuring out the finances of being retired. We keep encouraging each other that we'll get it all worked out and done.  Slow and steady. That seems to be the key.

2. The Deke and I took a walk on this golden and scarlet autumn afternoon down to Cattails Antiques just to look at stuff -- like cast iron products and then we popped into the newly remodeled Sunnyside Drug where I looked at more cast iron products. We found the mailbox outside Stein's and mailed out a stack of address changes, post cards for the grandchildren, and our electric/gas bill and returned home. Neither of us has been out walking much in the past few weeks. I know all my exercise has been from loading boxes, gathering Mom's belongings, and filling garbage bags and hauling them places. I've doing this since late July when we started dealing with Mom's basement and garage and the many weeks have put a strain on my back. The good news is that walking helps ease that strain -- I'm sure flopping around at a pool would, too.  We didn't take a long walk this afternoon, but it was a gorgeous stroll and physically therapeutic.

3. In fact, I enjoyed that short walk so much, I took a longer one this evening. The Deke meets up with other women in the Valley at Radio Brewing for beer, conversation, and a class on the subject of beer and at about 7:30 I strode out the door and walked the quiet streets and the many lanes of memories of Kellogg. It's about a one mile walk with a hill to climb from our house to Radio Brewing. It's essentially the same walk I used to take many mornings and evenings to Kellogg Junior High and back. It's essentially the same walk I used to make to go to the YMCA. This evening, however, I wasn't carrying my baritone horn case nor my books and homework papers nor was I carrying a gym bag. What I did carry, though, is the same thing I carried uptown as a teenager: my thoughts. When I was in junior high, I had a lot on my mind and I usually walked to school and to the YMCA by myself and I thought about a lot of things: friends, life at home, sports, where I fit in, my fears of failure, who I feared, who were my buddies -- and I dreamed a lot about playing basketball and baseball -- I imagined a lot of heroic moments. I didn't dream about being a sports hero this evening. Those days are gone. But, I thought a lot about the Deke and me and this huge change in our lives and continued to believe that we'll figure things out and, possibly, before too long, have a bed of our own to sleep in.

This walk was also good for my back.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/17: We Can Print!, Family Dinner, Paul and the Deke Play the Guitar

1. This morning I took our new printer out of the box. I prepared our two old HP laptops to have the software downloaded on them. Then, for the next six hours or so, I fiddled around trying to get each computer to work with the printer. After much trial and error and without really understanding what had gone wrong when the two computer and device wouldn't work together, I succeeded. We are back to having printing capability in our home, along with copying -- next up, I'll work to figure out how the scanning function works and nail that down. By the way, the trouble I had today perplexed me: I have connected several printers and computers in our home over the last ten or eleven years and never had a problem until today.

2. Carol, Paul, Everett, Christy, the Deke, and I are going to have regular family dinners on Sundays -- we won't do it every Sunday, but we will get together often.  The Deke and I hosted dinner tonight and we put our collective skills to work to create a pretty solid dinner. I seared chicken thighs, took them out of the cast iron pans, and put chicken broth, water, and jasmine rice in the pans and brought the liquid to a boil. I then put the chicken back on top of the rice and liquid, covered the pans, and let the rice and chicken cook together. When they were done, I took the chicken back out again and mixed black beans with the rice and topped it with cilantro. I had fresh squeezed lime juice ready to mix in the rice, also, but I forgot to include it. It was one of those days -- so, now, I'm eager to make this One-Pan Chicken Thighs with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice again -- and I'm curious how it will taste with the lime actually included!  Curious?  You can find the recipe by clicking right here.

The Deke roasted Brussel sprouts and a medley of baby carrots perfectly -- without a recipe!

3. We settled into the living room for some conversation after dinner. We are having another moving day this coming Saturday when Carol and Paul, with help, will transport more of Mom's belongings to their house, opening the way for the Deke and me to buy our own bed and set it up.  The Deke and Paul got to talking about playing the guitar. Paul is pretty much self-taught and so is the Deke.  She got out her guitar and showed him some techniques he might consider giving a whirl. I think it's very possible that they will get together from time to time and continue to build on their guitar skills.

A footnote:  The Deke has had out her guitar and played and sung more music since we moved to Kellogg nearly three weeks ago than she did the whole three years we lived in Alexandria and Greenbelt.  Retirement is treating the Deke well.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/17: Errands and Daft Badger, Tales at Radio Brewing, Chocolate and Cheese Party

1.  The Deke and I hopped into the Sube and struck out for an afternoon of errands in CdA. Mom's papers are securely locked in a bin ready to be picked up and shredded. A picture we love is being framed. We bought the goods for tonight's party at our house and for family dinner tomorrow night. We capped off our running around by splitting a chicken with mango salsa sandwich on a brioche bun and each having a cup of deep and rich goulash soup at the Daft Badger. This food was superb. I'd never tried Daft Badger's Hoppypotamus Pale Ale, so I had a couple short pours and I enjoyed what an expertly balanced beer it is. The payoff for me was in the slight sweetness -- the brewery's web page tells me it's a caramel undertone -- that complements the beer's pleasant hoppiness.  The Deke was very happy with her Fresh Hopped IPA.  I tasted it and agreed: great stuff.

2. Back in Kellogg, we made a quick stop at Radio Brewing and had a quick blast of fun and great conversation. We talked more with my Orofino cousin Lura's former neighbor, Sara.  Meredith told us the adventurous tale of how she and her family uprooted themselves from Maupin, OR and went on the road in search of employment and a new place to live and landed in Kellogg where her husband is the chef at Radio Brewing.  Meredith manages the tap room. Two of the Deke's new friends from the beer class she attends strolled in and so did Ashley, who owns the joint with her husband, and that meant more fun conversation.

3. Back home, I set up our party for Christy, Everett, the Deke, and me. I bought and broke up four bars of Moonstruck Chocolate at Fred Meyer along with a bottle of port wine, small blocks of Chocolate Stout Cheddar and Oregon Blue Cheese, both from Rogue Brewing's creamery and a small block of Long Clawson Wensleydale with Cranberry; I set out a gala apple sliced; I plated crackers, pepper crackers and Effie's Homemade Corncakes,  delicious cornbread crackers with a hint of anise. I've never set up a chocolate/cheese and port wine tasting before so I don't know if this combination of things might seem clumsy to those who know what they are doing, but for the four of us it was all fun and tasty. We sat around the kitchen table and yakked and had a fun time with the variety of flavors. Next time, maybe I'll read up a bit on this sort of thing and see what it's like if I half way know what I'm doing!