Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/30/18: Fasting, Insoles, Tidying Up

1. I had it in my mind that my fast would begin today at 5 p.m., but upon rereading my colonoscopy preparation instructions, I learned that, starting with breakfast, I couldn't eat solid foods. I'm happy that I have a slow cooker of turkey stock bubbling away. It's giving me a liquid broth to ingest that is full of good nutrients and calories and helps me feel much less hungry.

2. I am pretty sure that on Wednesday, I'll be housebound, so I went out today and stocked up on seltzer water and bought the materials I need to clean my colon. Last week, I bought a new pair of everyday shoes and today I found massaging gel insoles I need to keep my big toes from swelling up and put another pair of insoles in the shoes that help keep my arches properly supported. I might also have tiny calcium deposits in my heel and these insoles help cushion that, too. It's made a great difference in my mobility and foot comfort that a couple of years ago, after a visit to the doctor and some experimenting, I discovered that using the two insoles in my everyday shoes keeps my big toe from getting inflamed and my arches from aching.

3. I decided that if Tuesday and Wednesday were going to be dominated by a clear liquid diet and colon cleansing, I'd at least experience this in a tidy house. It's good for my mental state.  I dust mopped the house, cleared off the kitchen table and put things away, watered some plants, took care of dishes, and left a couple of chores for Wednesday so I'll have stuff to do while in the house all day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/29/18: Visit to the Clinic, Tilapia Chowder, Strong Ale and Music Videos

1. Diane just moved to Kellogg and she's been sick for a few days and decided to see a doctor today. I offered her a ride and she accepted. While Diane was being examined, I left and made a quick stop for an Americano au lait and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with a thin swipe of cream cheese at the Bean and then picked up some groceries at Yoke's. Diane found out she doesn't have the flu. She needs to rest and drink plenty of fluids this week to recover from her bad cold and respiratory infection. Even in her weakened condition, Diane showed me around her new house and told me how she imagines making some changes to it. It's a great place and I'm eager to see her plans take shape.

2. Since I begin a two day fast from solid foods Tuesday morning to prepare for a Thursday colonoscopy, I decided to cook myself some food I thought I'd really enjoy, using what I have on hand. I decided to make a tilapia chowder. I finely chopped up onion, garlic, and celery and sauteed these ingredients in butter. After a bit, I poured some flour over the mixture, sauteed it some more and then added leftover ham hock stock I had in the fridge. I let that simmer for a while and peeled and finely chopped the remaining potatoes I had on hand, put them in the Dutch oven and poured in all the ham hocks stock I had left. I brought things to a boil, turned the heat way down, put on the lid, and turned my attention to thawing the tilapia fillets. Once thawed, I put them in a pan with butter, covered them with Old Bay Seasoning, and poured boxed chicken broth over them and poached the filets. Once cooked, I chopped them in small pieces, threw them in the pot and poured in what I thought was the right amount of half and half and whole milk. I heated up the chowder and then turned off the heat and put the lid back on. I'd return to my dinner in a few hours.

3. Cas texted me and wondered if I was in the mood for an "Afternoon Delight" beverage uptown. We met at Radio Brewing where I sipped on small pours of my favorite beer in town right now, Radio's Inner Sanctum, a tasty Strong Ale. Cas had some business to take care of at the Inland Lounge and invited me to join him and Tracy for a private session at the Lounge. I accepted and enjoyed a couple of cocktails and Cas put some outstanding videos on the Inland Lounge television screen above the bar, playing them over the joint's excellent sound system. We listened to and watched videos of Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers and other musicians and continued the yakking we had started at Radio Brewing.  We had a lot of fun.

I returned home, fed the dogs and let them outside, and heated up the tilapia and potato chowder and was very proud of my creation. It tasted great. It warmed me. It helped me bid solid foods farewell for a couple of days.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/28/18: Trip to Worley, Turkey Stock, Going Back About Forty-Five Years

1. Ed swung by and picked me up and he drove us to the CdA Casino where we bought tickets for boxing matches coming up on March 1. Several of us are going down and because Ed jumped on buying tickets right away, we were able to secure a row of seats in the reserved section. The last time I went to a live boxing match was when I was a little kid and the Elks Club sponsored a night for youngsters who were learning to box at the YMCA to have it out and Dad took me. I remember being glad that Dad never encouraged me to box and I can't remember if I enjoyed watching these kids box.

I do remember, though, that I used to watch a lot of boxing matches on television with my dad and, as I got older, with friends. In high school, if I got home kind of late, there was a boxing show that played around 12:30 on local television on Friday (I think) called Boxing from the Forum, taped in Los Angeles. On that show, it seemed like every white boxer was nicknamed "Irish" and my teammates on the American Legion baseball team laughed and laughed about it and would call everyone by their real name and put "Irish" before it, the way the announcers did on Boxing from the Forum. I got such a big kick out doing this, no matter if a guy's name was Slavic or Italian or Norwegian or whatever, that one of my teammates called me "Irish", and when I ran into him at Yoke's last spring, I said, "Hi John" and he responded, "Irish? Is that you, Irish?" It was me. Irish. It had been a long time since anyone called me that.

So we'll see if any of the pugilists at the casino will be nicknamed, "Irish" and we'll see if the old enjoyment of watching men box is still inside me. One thing I know for sure: it will be fun to have a night out with Ed, Buff, Jerry, Scott, Pete, and whoever else might come.

2. I opened up the package of turkey necks I bought at Pilgrim's on Friday and roasted them for about 45 minutes, turning them over about every ten minutes.  After they cooled a bit, I put them in the slow cooker, poured about four quarts of water over them and tossed in a chopped onion, celery leaves, garlic, a handful of baby carrots, pepper, salt, a couple of bay leaves, and, on a whim, some chopped kale leftover in the fridge. This stock will bubble away for at least the next four days, but while I do a two day preparation for a colonoscopy on Thursday, since I can drink broth, I'll probably dip into it from time to time during my fast from solid foods.

3. Thinking about all the funny ways we entertained each other on the Kellogg-Wallace American Legion team reminded me of one day when a fellow teammate drove into the swimming pool parking lot before a game, smoking a cigarette, and blaring Rare Earth: In Concert over the little speakers in his sub-compact car -- was it a Ford Pinto? A Chevrolet Vega?  The track filling the parking lot was "I Just Want to Celebrate" and, to be honest, I thought this album was my secret pleasure because I hadn't heard any other friends or teammates or anyone talking about it and I was mega fired up to hear it. That moment of feeling a part of a Rare Earth body of listeners beyond myself came back to me last night so I listened to the whole album and it was thrilling, especially the long jam on the "Get Ready" track which lasts about twenty-three minutes. The older I get, the more I enjoy long jams like this one, whether it's Rare Earth or The Grateful Dead or John Coltrane, and this one really pleased me all over again.

Before I listened to Rare Earth, I listened to the entirety of one of the most listened to albums of all among my Kellogg friends: The Best of the Guess Who. I suppose that along with Credence Clearwater Revival, the Guess Who was about the most popular band of many of my friends and I had a good time listening to tunes like "These Eyes" and "Share the Land" and "Undun" and  "Hang on to Your Life" and not only enjoyed this album in the moment, but enjoyed how much this music was around me and my friends in high school and in the years to follow. We affectionately referred to it as The Guess of the Best Who. Ha!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/27/18: Remembering Amy Bird, Coffee Stout at Bucer's, Evening on the Town

1. Christy stayed home to tend to Everett who is ailing. She had planned to go with Carol and me to Moscow this morning where we picked up Cosette and attended the memorial service of Amy Bird at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Amy Bird is Kenton's mother and Kenton and I have been friends since I started going to Sunnyside Elementary in the third grade. Kenton is both a very good friend of mine and has also been a very good family friend.

The service was a perfect tribute to Amy Bird. It was liturgically both solemn and joyful, mourning her death and celebrating her full mortal life and the promise of eternal life. Amy and her husband, Bob, had been married 66 years and the service, through Kenton's opening remarks and Rev. Robin Bittles remarks before the Old Testament reading and in her homily,  touched again and again on their love story, on their devotion to one another. Most of all, the service paid tribute to Amy Bird's independence, her fierce intelligence, vast curiosity, love of the Episcopal Church, and her devotion to community service, especially in the realm of education -- she was, for example, the first woman to serve on the Kellogg School Board and was active in P. E. O.

At the reception that followed, I talked briefly with Kenton's father, Bob, and more at length with Kenton and his wife, Gerri. I visited with Doug and Marcia Jacobs, longtime friends from Kellogg, and enjoyed seeing one of Amy's best friends from back in the Elizabeth Park days, Mary Pierce.

2. After the service and reception, Carol, Cosette, and I met with Travis and Molly at Bucer's Coffee House Pub in downtown Moscow. It was fun to hang out for a while in this cozy joint and not only did I enjoy the company, but I quaffed a tasty pint of coffee stout -- possibly brewed by Paradise Creek, but I'm not sure because there was no tap list and it was too dark for me to clearly read the tap handle -- but, I was in the mood for a warming stout and the earnest kid at the counter produced one, pronto, and the beer did the trick -- it tasted great and warmed my belly.

3. Back in Kellogg, I dropped into the Hill Street Depot for a smoked pork burrito and tried to make its smoky spicy goodness last as long as possible. I then met Ed up at the Inland Lounge where I paid for the four Elks Crab Feed tickets I had on reserve and had a good session of storytelling and laughs with Ed and Cas. Terry Lennon was in with his mom, Mary, and Jane, his wife. Mary Lennon's 90th birthday party had just finished up across the street at the Elks and Terry was pumped and came over to Ed and me and gave us the low-down on the party and Terry and I did some serious livin' in the past talking about our fathers who both died in 1996 and were great friends, especially at the plank at Dick at Floyd's uptown. I was home by nine and settled into a restful rest of the evening with Maggie and Charly.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/26/18: Deke to the Airport, Fixings for Stock, Downtown CdA with Byrdman

1. After I finished breakfast at Sam's with Buff, Ed, and Scott, I returned home where the Deke was getting ready for our trip to Spokane. Suddenly, the skies opened and pillowy snowflakes covered the ground. It looked like we might be in for one of those two hour drives to Spokane, so we piled in the Sube much earlier than we normally would have, and headed to Spokane so the Deke could catch her flight. Just east of the 4th of July Pass the snow began to slow way down and as we hit the summit and headed on the downward side, the snow stopped and our drive to Spokane turned easy.

The Deke got to Spokane way early, caught a flight earlier than she was scheduled for to Seattle and then caught her regularly scheduled flight to Eugene. Later in the afternoon, she texted me that she was seated at 16 Tons, so I knew everything was good and, still later, she texted me a picture of her with Jay and Sherri, pals with whom we hoisted many a pint back in the old days in Eugene, and suddenly I felt very happy -- both for what the Deke already had going on in Eugene and for the many sweet memories I carry of life at 16 Tons.

2. I stopped in CdA on my way back to Kellogg and bought new jeans, a pair of sweats, and a pair of new everyday shoes at Kohl's. I texted Byrdman and made plans to swing by his house, but, before I went over there, I stopped at Pilgrim's and clawed around in their meat freezer until I found turkey necks and turkey wings. I see a new batch of stock in my near future.

3. Byrdman and I stopped in at Sweet Lou's Restaurant and Tap House. I hadn't quaffed an IPA for a while and when I found out they had a newly tapped keg of fresh Fat Lenny from Post Falls Brewing on tap, I ordered it and suddenly relived the pleasures of a fine, citrusy IPA. After lunch and that beer, Byrdman and I headed to Crafted and I decided to have a fine Oregon IPA and ordered an RPM from Boneyard Brewing (in Bend). Again, I had to agree with the gal or guy who said absence makes the palate grow stronger -- or something -- because my palate was sure happy to be tasting a couple of fine IPAs again after a brief absence.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/25/18: Chicago, Curry, Plans

1. While the Deke knitted and socialized for a few hours at Radio Brewing late this afternoon, I listened to Chicago II. It astonished me. I knew I'd be hearing the old familiar "Make Me Smile" suite of songs and they took me back, as they should have, to some of my favorite memories from when I was in high school. Predictably, "25 or 6 to 4" took me back to pregame warm-ups when I wore a Kellogg High School basketball uniform -- it's hard for me to lay claim to having been a player -- and got so fired up hearing our pep band and others like Wallace and Lewiston and Cd'A play it that I rocketed off the gym floor and was able to touch the bottom of the net. I'd forgotten, though, how much music on this album is not pop music, but is improvisational, jazzy, sometimes bordering on avant-garde. I remember how this album stretched my appreciation of what is musically possible when a record company lengthens the leash and lets musicians play the varieties of music they love.

2. I spent the late afternoon cooking a green curry for the Deke and me. I began by frying tofu in sesame oil, boiling a few potatoes, and stir frying frozen green beans. In a pot, I cooked a combination of finely chopped garlic and green curry paste. To this I added a can of coconut milk and equal measures of fish sauce and sugar. I cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and added them along with the green beans and tofu into the coconut milk and curry paste mixture. While this heated up, I heated up thawed rice I'd had in the freezer from our Thai dinner a while back. I tested the curry and decided it was a little too hot, in the spicy sense of the word, so I poured in some chicken broth and that moderated the curry and it was ready to eat.

3. The Deke arrived home from having had a really fun time at Radio Brewing and we sat down and enjoyed our curry over the rice together and discussed plans for going to Spokane in the morning so the Deke can catch her flight to Eugene.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/24/18: Mid-Eighties, *On the Media*, Fish Cakes

1. I don't know what it was about the year 1984 and 1985 and on into 1986 that had me so invigorated. It just seemed like every independently made movie I went to at Cinema 7 or the Bijou, whether it was Sid and Nancy or Stop Making Sense or My Beautiful Laundrette or Streetwise or Mona Lisa thrilled me and I'd stop by The House of Records or Everybody's Records in Eugene and, whether it was Sting's The Dream of the Blue Turtles or The Eurhythmic's Be Yourself Tonight or Dire Straits' Brother in Arms or The Waterboys' This is the Sea, these albums and many more sounded fresh to me, either got me dancing in my tiny basement apartment on W. Broadway or threw me into a meditative trance.

This afternoon I had the house to myself for a while and I called up some of this music on the Echo Dot/Bose and turned it on loud enough to hear it while doing laundry in the basement and while working in the kitchen. I danced -- or moved in a way that passes for dancing these days. I sat. I stared. I thought about all the promise my life seemed to hold in 1984-86 and how little of that promise materialized, but other future promise I couldn't have imagined back then, did. I wanted to flip on a television and a VHS player and watch some of those movies again, but, alas, I have neither (on purpose), so I'll have to figure out other ways to see them. I don't want it to be 1984-86 again, but when it comes to personal enjoyment and feeling fully alive, those were some peak years for me.

2. I jumped off the way back machine and came back to 2018 and listened to a couple of podcasts while I did more work in the kitchen and messed around with other things. I turned my attention to On the Media and, in one episode, listened to an interview with journalist James Risen and to a second episode that discussed the #Me Too movement, Facebook's new approach to presenting news, and a tribute to radio legend, Joe Frank.  As soon as I can, I'll listen to Radiolab's episode focusing on Joe Frank. If you'd like to listen to these On the Media episodes, click here and here and here is where to go to listen to Radiolab's piece. 

3.  I'm pretty good about keeping talapia on hand and today I thawed about six fillets along with leftover chicken stock I made a while back. While I was listening to podcasts, one of the kitchen tasks I completed was to get out the rolling pin and some wax paper and make saltine cracker crumbs.  Once the Deke returned home, I poached the tilapia fillets in butter, garlic powder (I was out of cloves), white wine, and the chicken stock. I set them aside to cool. Once cooled, I flaked the fillets and combined the fish with the cracker crumbs, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, capers, finely chopped cilantro, the zest and juice of a lemon, and Old Bay seasoning and formed this mixture into fish cakes and fried them in butter.

I love fish cakes (especially crab cakes) and the Deke and I agreed that tonight's were really good. Normally, I would have fried the tilapia or baked it in the oven, but today's experiment with poaching the fish worked beautifully and gave the tilapia a buttery and deep flavor as opposed to the roasted or fried taste the other methods would have resulted in.

I didn't follow either recipe verbatim, but the two recipes that guided me today are here and here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/18: Success at the Medical Center, Creamy Potato Soup, Anticipating Fish Cakes

1. The Deke was happy that her procedure at the Shoshone Medical Center progressed successfully and I also did some business at the hospital, having my monthly blood draw completed for the transplant center in Baltimore. The Deke's doctor is a Delaware native, moved to the Poughkeepsie area as a young guy, and went to medical school at NYU and it was fun talking with him about life on the east coast and its lush, verdant beauty.

2. We've had a ham stock bubbling away for several days and I've been eager to use it to make potato soup. I combined ideas from the Deke and from food blogger and cookbook author, Mandy Rivers, whose writes under the title, South your Mouth.

I began by thawing three German sausages I bought at Yoke's last week. When they were ready to cook, I put them in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet and put a pan lid over the sausages to keep grease from flying around the kitchen. Meanwhile, after I strained three cups of ham stock and added a cup of water to it, I finely chopped an onion and some celery and a couple or three cloves of garlic and sauteed them in a generous chunk of butter in the enamel cast iron Dutch oven.  I added a few tablespoons (or more) of all-purpose flour to the sautee and stirred it while it cooked, and then added modest amounts of ham stock out of the crockpot to the mixture. Soon the sausages were cooked through and cooled off and I chopped them into small pieces and tossed them in the pot, letting them cook for a while with the onion, celery, garlic, flour, and stock.

At some point, I then added the four cups of stock I'd strained earlier. I had chopped several potatoes into small pieces, put them in the pot, brought it to a low boil, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and let it all cook very slowly for about 40 minutes.

I had a little half and half available so I whisked it in, along with an unmeasured amount of whole milk, and continued to whisk the soup for a short time.

I got out the blender and scooped out about two or three cups of soup, careful not to include sausage chunks, pureed this amount of the soup, and returned it to the pot.

My last addition to the soup was chopped kale. The Deke and I agreed we'd enjoy kale in this soup and so I put a moderate amount in -- until it looked right to me.

This soup had to be one of the best potato soups I've ever eaten. The long simmering ham stock gave the soup a rich depth and the half and half and milk combined to make it velvety. Others of you reading this might prefer the potatoes and sausage to be cut in larger pieces, but I have come to enjoy vegetables and meat cut into small pieces. I thought smaller pieces enhanced the smooth texture of the soup without having it be a creamy puree. And, lastly, we love kale.

If you'd like to read Mandy Rivers' recipe, it's right here and, well, I'm sorry, but the Deke's contributions are part of the folk tradition of our marriage, information passed along verbally -- I can't digitally link that!

3. Back in Greenbelt, MD, I fixed tilapia fish cakes that we really liked and I think I found the recipe again tonight, so I have plans it place to give this recipe a go on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to the tangy bite of capers, the crunch of the saltine crackers, and the multiple tastes of celery, paprika, mustard, bay leaf, red pepper, mace, nutmeg and other spices that combine to make Old Bay seasoning.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/22/18: I Need to Send them Back?, Money and Higher Ed, Beef Stew Redux

1. A while back I received an email from the Maryland Motor Administration telling me I needed to let them know who my new insurer was since I had canceled the policy I had in Greenbelt. I sloughed it off. I live in Idaho now. The Sube is titled and registered here. Today I received a letter from the MVA telling me that if I didn't provide evidence that the Sube was insured that I faced any number of dire consequences.

I called the MVA's Insurance Compliance Department and told the customer service representative that I no longer live in Maryland and that my car was titled and registered in Idaho.

"Oh. Okay. Well, you'll need to send us your license plates. But, first, give me a few minutes and I'll see if you need to send us anything else."

She came back on the line and said, "Well, yes! You're right. Our records show that your car is titled and registered in Idaho. I have closed your Insurance Compliance case."

I heaved a sigh.

"Now, if you'll stay on the line, I'll send you to one of our operators who will put you in touch with a person who will tell you where to send your license plates."

I did that. I got the information.

I went online to the MVA site and did a little digging around and learned that, sure enough, it is the law in the state of Maryland to surrender one's license plates when moving to another state.

I had no idea -- or, believe me, I would have taken care of this a couple of months ago.

So, I dropped the plates in an envelope, secured it, and buzzed up to the Post Office and sent them off.

So, Rocket, if you are reading this: I'd just been thinking the other day that I had failed to send you a Maryland plate to add to your collection. Now I thank God I was so forgetful about that. Ha! I'll try to make it up to you some day -- maybe send you a t-shirt from the Daft Badger -- just in case anyone in your life these days knows that you were The Badger at one time.

2. The Deke had to fast today in preparation for a routine procedure on Tuesday at the medical center, so we hung out at home and, among other things,  listened to two episodes of the Revisionist History podcast looking at financial inequity in higher education. They are here and here.

3. I got to relive the main course of Sunday's family dinner. Christy offered me leftover Parker's Beef Stew -- the recipe is here -- and I had it for dinner. It might have been even better today than on Sunday. One note about its preparation: Christy's oven is temporarily out of commission, so she cooked it in her crock pot. My point is that if you decide to make it, I'm confident it'll work great either in the oven or the slow cooker.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/21/18: Thinking, Ham Stock, Sunday Family Dinner

1. I spent a lot of time alone today thinking. Mostly, I was trying to slow things down in my mind, things in my personal life and my thinking about the different things going on in the USA. It takes a lot of effort for me to resist the pressure to arrive at quick conclusions informed by rarely questioned principles -- what many people I read and listen to call beliefs. Today, within myself, I tried to be skeptical about what I think is true and I dedicated myself, as best I can, to give situations and events I really don't know much about time to unfold before arriving at what I think about them. I also resisted the loud voices in our country -- and that are in my head -- which say that thinking this way, questioning one's self, is waffling or compromising one's principles. For me, principles are always subject to revision and refinement. They don't apply equally or evenly to all situations, but, I think, do apply evenly and equally to others.  I didn't figure anything out today, but I gave my conscience a good workout.

2. Last week I made a ham hocks and navy bean soup. I didn't throw away the bones or the ham hock fat and this weekend I returned those bones and the fat to the crock pot along with onion, celery scraps, and some leftover parsley. I'm succeeding in drawing another pot of stock out of those ham hocks. Today, the Deke finished off the soup I made last week and I thinned it out, stretched her helping a bit, by adding a couple of cups of the new stock to the soup. It was really good. Now I'm thinking I'll boil potatoes in this new stock and make a pot of potato soup. The rice I cooked a week ago in chicken stock for both the chicken casserole and stir fry I made tasted so good that I'd like to see if boiling potatoes in stock and using the the liquid as the base for potato soup might also work.

3.  Christy and Everett hosted this week's Sunday family dinner in their newly remodeled backyard shed. The dinner went splendidly. After a Tom Collins cocktail, Christy served wedge salad topped with salad dressing. Now, this wasn't just any salad dressing. This was the blue cheese/roquefort dressing made from a recipe that has been in our family for about fifty years, one that Mom made from time to time and that we all loved. We think the recipe is similar to the roquefort dressing served in the Sig and Bunny Peterson days at the Sunshine Inn, but we aren't sure.

Salad was followed by a hearty beef stew, the beef enriched by having been marinated in red wine, and the vegetables prepared perfectly. It was a perfect Sunday dinner entree, especially on a chilly January evening. Christy baked a substantial loaf of Italian peasant bread and, because I love substantial breads, it was perfect for my taste. We finished dinner in Christy and Everett's house with pear mince meat pie and vanilla ice cream, another favorite of mine.

It was a delicious and most satisfying meal and a fun evening together. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/20/18: The King of Tears, Civil Rights History, Booker Wright

1.  The Deke and I have had many conversations over the years about what makes a song or a poem or a sermon or any other kind of writing work emotionally. Consistently, we've concluded that when a piece of writing is specific in its details, its emotional impact is bound to be  stronger. If you've listened to the Deke's songs, you know that her lyrics elicit emotion through the concrete things that happen in her songs, whether it's the many items in corrugated cardboard boxes, a betrayed wife walking the floors at night,  the taste of wine, or the feel of the night air.

When I wrote the eulogy for my mother, I wanted to touch people's feelings about her by speaking to the details of her life. Many people had told me that Mom was amazing or wonderful, but those words don't trigger memories or touch feelings. The specific things Mom did are what bring to life what was amazing and wonderful about her.

In her tribute to Mom, Christy evoked our feelings about Mom's tenderness, not by telling us Mom was caring and leaving it to us to figure out what made her so kind, but by writing the specific details of how Mom cared for her when she was ill. You can read her piece, "The Land of Counterpane", here.

I bring this up because the Deke and I listened to Malcolm Gladwell's exploration of sad songs in Episode 6 of Season 2 of Revisionist History, "The King of Tears" found here. Gladwell got to wondering what makes us cry when a song moves us to tears and the Deke and I took great pleasure in learning that Malcolm Gladwell's discussion and the way we've talked about this question are similar.

2. In Season 2 of Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell presented four episodes that explore different dimensions of the history of civil rights in the United States, or put another way, of racial conflict in our country. If you look at the list of episodes of Season 2, found here, I'm referring to Episodes 3, 4, 7, and 8. The Deke and I had already listened to Episodes 3 and 4 and today we listened to 7 and 8. The prominent voice in these two episodes belongs to Vernon Jordan and both episodes narrate the work of Vernon Jordan's mentor, Donald Hollowell.   I experience history not so much as a study of the past, but as a study of continuation. So, when I listened to these episodes, I didn't hear them telling me stories about things that happened back then and are over with, but as stories that help us understand the present.

3. The Deke and I listened to one more podcast before we went uptown and visited friends at Radio Brewing and the Inland Lounge. We listened to Episode 46 of Gravy, found here. The episode tells the story of Booker Wright. He was a waiter at Lusco's, a restaurant in Greenwood, Mississippi that only served white customers. Booker Wright was black. Booker Wright was interviewed for an NBC television documentary, made in 1965, that explored racial tensions in the Mississippi Delta. Booker Wright, who also owned his own cafe and juke joint, spoke openly about the indignities he experienced at Lusco's, revealing the feelings hidden behind the perpetual smile he presented at Lusco's for the sake of the comfort of the customers he served. He suffered dire consequences for what he said.

The episode also explores the opera oratorio that tells Booker Wright's story, entitled Repast.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/19/18: Mom's 87th Birthday, Grief and Bourbon Stout, Coffee and Kitchen Curtains

1.  Here we are:

Today was Mom's 87th birthday and Christy, Carol, and I turned the occasion into a Sibling Outing to Coeur d' Alene. We drove over the hill just after noon and went straight to Daft Badger. We asked for Mom's blessing that we ate our lunch in her honor at Daft Badger rather than at her favorite spot, Applebee's -- or at another of her favorites, Red Lobster. We asked her to understand that Christy hadn't been to Daft Badger and she'd heard Carol, the Deke, and I enthuse about how much we enjoy it, so this was the perfect day for us to have lunch there. We enjoyed our lunch confident that Mom was delighted that we were celebrating her birthday and honoring her memory and, moreover, that we were all so happy that Christy got to go to Daft Badger for the first time.

2. Along with talking about and remembering Mom, a couple of other things happened at Daft Badger that made me very happy. First, Darrell Dlouhy, Daft Badger's co-founder and the obligated one at the brewery, was in the house and so I got to introduce him and Christy and Carol. I told Darrell why we were at his establishment and I started to choke up, but I think I hid it pretty well. I experienced a sudden rush of emotion about Mom not being with us and I was feeling Darrell's loss. His younger brother, Duane, passed away in June and it hit me that we'd both suffered significant loss lately. Conversation lightened right up, though, as we talked a bit about Daft Badger's  third anniversary patio party that will take place on Saturday, January 20th and that everything was in place for this big and fun event.

The second thing that made me very happy? I introduced my sisters to the heavenly sweetness of Daft Badger's Bourbon Stout. Once we had finished our sandwiches, I ordered a 12 oz glass of Bourbon Stout and three taster glasses so we could each have some. I didn't know if Christy and Carol realized how sweet and slightly boozy a barrel-aged imperial stout can be. For me, this Bourbon Stout combines chocolate-y sweetness, the brown sugary boozy splendor of Maker's Mark, and just the right hint of hoppy bitterness. It's not a beer to pound down. For me -- and I hope for Christy and Carol -- it was a perfect dessert, not only adding a sweet finish to our meal, but giving us a last bit of the euphoria a little bit of strong beer creates, making the half an hour or so that we spent talking at our table after we ate all the more pleasant. 

3.  We weren't quite ready to leave Cd'A after lunch, so we piled into the Malibu and bolted downtown to Calypsos Coffee Company for a coffee drink before heading back to Kellogg.  Christy and Carol relaxed on a couch and I eased myself into a soft and comfortable chair and we continued to talk about this and that and enjoyed our hot brews. 

I received a text message from Shawn telling me that Trevor was coming by our house to take care of a few things, so we piled back into the Malibu and arrived at our house just as Trevor did. 

Among other things, Trevor put up curtain rods in the kitchen. Later in the evening, the Deke put the finishing touches on the kitchen curtains she'd been sewing and now they are up. I love them. With curtains in place, once the light is right in the kitchen, I'll start taking pictures of what the kitchen looked like before this project and what it looks like now and posting them. I want to take the photographs in natural light. For everything else like cooking and working in the kitchen, I love our new kitchen lights, but for taking pictures, I don't like the way the light reflects off the walls nor do I like, for photographs, some of the shadows these lights cast. It's no big deal on a day to day basis, but for taking pictures, I'm going to hold out until the natural light I want fills the room. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/18/18: Soup Cooked, Adding Sausage, Dinner with Shawn

1. I woke up this morning to the rich smell of ham and beans bubbling away in the slow cooker. I removed the ham hocks, put the bones and fat in a zip lock bag in the freezer, poured some water in the soup, and stopped cooking it and put the cooker on warm for the rest of the day.

2. Yoke's makes German sausage in their butchery and I bought six of them. I put three in the freezer and cooked the other three and chopped them up into small pieces and added them to the ham and bean soup. Not a lot of meat came off the ham hocks and I wanted more meat in the soup. I enjoy sausage in soup, so I figured I'd see how sausage worked in this soup. Both the Deke and I agreed it was a good move.

3. Shawn came by late in the afternoon for dinner. I fixed a round of cornbread to go with the ham/sausage and navy bean soup and the Deke made a very delicious cabbage salad.  Christy had some leftover pie from a P.E.O. meeting on Wednesday night and she gave it to us for dessert. The pie was a rich and tasty combination of whipped cream, fruit, pecan, and coconut. We had fun talking with Shawn and after dinner he coached the Deke in the fine art of drilling holes in the wall to hang stuff up. Now a guitar and ukulele hang on one of our living room walls, right next to the poster advertising the first Babes with Axes show. They made their debut on December 2, 1993, four years before the Deke and I got together. I attended that first show.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/17/18: Hittin' the Gym, Ham and Beans, Shawn Drops By

1. The Deke and I continue to stick with it. We buzzed out to the Wellness Center and worked out for over an hour. I increased my cardio workout a bit again and worked my upper body on the weight machines.  While I was pedaling away on one of the cardio machines, I got a shot of encouragement as Patti Hei strolled in and came over to say hello, happy to see that the Deke and I were hittin' it regularly at the gym. I, too, am happy we are stickin' with it. We were both worn out this afternoon, but agreed these sessions had us both feeling better.

2. I've never made a soup with ham hocks before, so today I went to Stein's and bought three ham hocks, poured water over them, chopped up an onion, threw some celery scraps into the pot, and salt and peppered it. I also added a pound of dry navy beans. By around eight o'clock or so, an aroma very familiar to this house began to fill it: the salty, sweet, and savory smell of ham and beans cooking. It transported me back to winter Sundays when I was young. On occasion, Mom fixed ham and beans and baked loaves of bread and the heat of the oven and the steam of the soup fogged up our windows and home felt especially warm and comfortable and secure and these dinners were among my favorites.

3. Earlier in the day, Shawn came by. The Deke had texted him after Patti told her that he was recovering from the flu, but was battling the gout. He is still weak and is baching it for a few days, so the Deke invited him over for dinner on Thursday and I'm hoping my first attempt at ham and bean soup served with cornbread succeeds at some level.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/16/18: Generous Orthodoxy, Tough Life in the Silver Valley, Relaxing in Christy's Shed

1. Theologian Hans Frei coined the term "generous orthodoxy". It's an approach to church life that adheres to church orthodoxy while, at the same time, exploring ideas and actions that go beyond orthodox principles and does so with the intention of helping the church become more compassionate. Generous orthodoxy tries to balance loyalty with conscience. It respects the body it is working to heal.

In Episode 9 of the first season of the Revisionist History podcast, found here, Malcolm Gladwell frames the story of Chester Wenger in terms of generous orthodoxy. Wenger was a Mennonite pastor until the church stripped him of his credentials because he officiated the wedding between his gay son and his son's partner.   Wenger explained his theological and biblical rationale for signing his son's marriage certificate in an open letter to the Mennonite Church, here.

The Deke and I listened to this podcast this evening. I'd listened to it before and, again this evening, I was moved, both emotionally and intellectually.

2. Earlier in the day, the Deke and I went to Coeur d'Alene. Robin cut my hair and we got talking about growing up in the Silver Valley and about her experience when she moved back to Pinehurst a few years ago to help her father as he died of kidney failure. She deeply loved and respected her father for all the hard work he'd done as a gyppo miner at the Bunker Hill and for how his hard work supported their large family. It was grievous listening to her describe how renal failure reduced her father to a shadow of the robust man he'd once been. It's the kind of inspiring and sad story I hear often in the Silver Valley, especially as friends tell me about more and more men they worked with in the mines and the woods, men who worked hard their whole lives,  and now are in tough shape, often because of that work, or have died.

3.  Today Christy and Everett put the finishing touches on the inside of the shed they've been working on for the last several weeks. The new rug is on the floor. The furniture is arranged where Christy wants it. It's well lit, heated, and quiet. The shed sits in the back yard and is a comfortable, cozy space, perfect as a place for Christy to read and write and relax and for Christy and Everett (well, and Tucker and Riley!) to have a quiet place to relax together. This Sunday, Carol, Paul, the Deke, Everett, Christy, and I will get to experience how the shed works as a place for Sunday's family dinner.

The Deke and I visited Christy and Everett in the shed after dinner. We had a good visit and it was fun to see Christy so happy and proud because this shed project is working out so well and is shaping up into just what Christy wanted when she envisioned transforming the shed into a restful and comfortable space.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/15/18: Coffee at the Bean, Better Sleep Ahead, Deep Beef Soup and Deep Podcasts

1.  I was getting some writing done when my phone rang and it was Ed. He was up in Osburn getting some payroll business done and wondered if I'd like to grab some coffee at The Bean. I sure did. So, we met, enjoyed our coffee drinks, and worked hard to solve the world's problems and came up a little short.

2. The Deke and I hustled out to the Wellness Center around noon and worked out for over an hour. I was especially eager to exercise. It had been six days since we'd been to the gym. The last two nights my sleep has been uneven, restless, and I knew exercise would help me sleep better. I had a good hour. I increased the intensity of my cardio session on the recumbent bike and focused on machines that worked out my legs and abdomen.

3. Last Friday, I started cooking a new batch of beef broth in the slow cooker and it's been bubbling away for the last few days. The Deke decided to make a vegetable beef soup and it was ready to eat late this afternoon. The depth of the beef broth combined with the mild sweetness of the carrots and corn and baby potatoes staggered me. We have plenty of this soup stored and I can hardly wait to dive  back into it again. Soon, I'll get another batch of broth going, this time with chicken. 

After dinner, we relaxed in our living room. The Deke knitted. I worked on a home photo gallery project. We listened to four episodes of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast, Revisionist History, episodes which covered topics as wide-ranging as huge tax breaks for L. A. County private golf courses to a deeper look at the 1954 Brown v Board of Education of Topeka case to a surprising examination of Bill Hudson's iconic 1963 photograph of a policeman, a German Shepherd, and a black teenager
and the statue, "The Foot Soldier", inspired by the picture.  If you go here, you can click on either season of the show, scroll down, and see a list of Revisionist History episodes and click on anything you might want to listen to. Everything the Deke and listened to this evening came from Season 2.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/14/18: Back to Yoke's, Food Prep and Flock of Seagulls, Family Dinner

1. I realized this morning that I didn't buy everything I wanted at Yoke's yesterday, so I returned this morning to purchase some ginger root, green onions, more broccoli, sugar, and a few other things in preparation for cooking tonight's family dinner.

2. The food preparing pretty much consumed my afternoon. I had quite a bit of chopping, slicing, and mincing to do: cucumbers, red onion, yellow onion, garlic, cilantro, ginger, limes, and red pepper;  I cleaned and shelled a pound of raw shrimp. I also made a dressing for the cucumber salad, a sauce for the shrimp fried rice, and peanut sauce for the roasted broccoli. Saturday night I shelled and chopped a pound of peanuts, so that was ready to go.  This was fun work. Listening to 80s alternative rock music made it even more pleasant as memories from around thirty-five years ago rushed in as music by Flock of Seagulls, Modern English, The Thompson Twins, and a host of other groups played over the Bose.

3. I rimmed mason jars with fresh lime juice, filled them with ice and put them in the freezer a couple of hours before we started having drinks. Just before Christy, Everett, Carol, Paul, and next door neighbor, Jane arrived, I cut wheels out of lime peel, put a wheel in each glass and mixed our guests gin and tonics. While the others had a cocktail and visited, I put a baking sheet of olive oiled and salt and peppered broccoli stalks into the oven to roast and dished out helpings of cucumber salad in small bowls. Once roasted, I put some broccoli on small plate for each guest and topped the broccoli with peanut sauce.

While the others ate their appetizers, I sauteed onion and garlic in oil and white wine, did the same with the chopped red bell pepper, and then added the shrimp and let them cook until pink. I moved the onion, garlic, red peppersand shrimp to another pan and kept them warm while I scrambled several eggs. I had made rice for this meal back on Thursday with chicken broth that had been bubbling for several days and added it to the eggs and returned the shrimp, onion, garlic, and red pepper back into the original skillet and drizzled stir fry sauce over it. When it was all hot enough to eat, I made everyone a bowl of shrimp fried rice and topped each bowl with chopped green onions.

This turned out to be a superb family dinner. Everyone enjoyed the meal as well as the choice between mango sorbet or coconut and pineapple ice cream (or both!) for dessert.

This was our first dinner party in our new kitchen and we all loved our new kitchen's roominess.  Even with the dining table expanded to accommodate seven people, we didn't feel cramped. 

As tonight's cook, I appreciated all the room I had to move around in this kitchen. I also enjoyed having a good amount of counter space to prepare cocktails, two appetizers, and a main dish.

We have been slow getting curtains on the window and things hanging on the walls, but once we do, I'll post some pictures.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/13/18: I Now Know Jack, Sunday Dinner Prep and Old Music, Simple Meal

1. Here's Jack:

This morning, I was sitting in our living room in my night clothes writing away and I saw this sweet dog wander through our front yard. I went to the front porch and he wagged his tail and sauntered up the steps and joined me, happy to let me pet him and scratch under his chin.

He had on a collar, but no identifying tags.

I couldn't let him in the house because Maggie and Charly would go ballistic.

I needed to get dressed and grab a leash, hoping my new friend would wait on the porch for me.

He didn't.

So, once dressed, I walked the neighborhood. Jane, who lives next door, told me she saw Jack walking west, and so I headed west and north and after about ten minutes, I spotted him back at the corner of Mission and Utah.

"Hey, Buddy! Come on, Buddy!" I cried out and he wagged his tail and galloped up Utah Street to me and I put a leash on him.

I returned home and the Deke took a picture of him and she and Jane commenced efforts to find the owner.

I'm not quite sure what Jane did -- I think she contacted a woman in town who "knows all the dogs" -- but it turned out Jack has been a happy wanderer before, the all-knowing dog person identified him, and got Jane and the owner in touch with each other -- or something like that.

Meanwhile, Jack and I were out for a walk around the west end of Sunnyside when my phone rang and it was the Deke, telling me Jane had located the owner and that she was coming to our house to pick up her dog.

Sure enough, Jack and I ambled back to the house and soon a relieved and grateful woman showed up, told me her dog's name was Jack, and told me that "the gate got opened somehow" and Jack went for his stroll.  She and Jack live about six or seven blocks away.

I was happy to see Jack back with his owner, but, I'll admit, my feelings were very similar to when I let Harriet Potter go last June as she flew from Dulles to Portland: let's just say I would have loved more time with each of these sweet dogs.

For those who might have forgotten Harriet Potter, I'll post her picture at the end of this post.

2. I spent more time today planning Sunday's family dinner and went to Yoke's and found everything I wanted. Back home, I remembered that I have a peanut sauce recipe I like a lot and upon reviewing it, realized I'll need to return to the store in the morning to pick some ginger root and I also need the green onions I forgot today. Otherwise, I'm ready to go and helped myself toward Sunday's cooking project by shelling and crushing a pound of peanuts while listening to a variety of music, including Pink Floyd's album, Wish You Were Here, some New York City rock and roll like Patti Smith's "Gloria", Television's "Roadrunner", and Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll".

I wanted to listen to an album by the Crusaders I owned back in around 1978, but I couldn't remember the name of it, even with the help of an Amazon music search, so I played some random Crusaders' cuts. I did remember owning Joe Sample's Rainbow Seeker and enjoyed listening to it and recalling the two and a half school years I worked at Whitworth right after I graduated from Whitworth and how I loved that job and the many students I worked with. A lot of those students were into Bob James, Chuck Mangione, Joe Sample, the Crusaders, George Benson and other similar musicians of that time and so was I. It's a lot of fun bringing those days back through this music.

3. The Deke roasted some chicken drumsticks with baby carrots and baby potatoes and made a simple green salad and enjoyed this delicious dinner together, happy that such a simple meal brought us so much satisfaction.

Oh! Here's Harriet Potter:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/12/18: Huge Snowflakes, Transplant Story on *Radiolab*, Happy Friday at the Lounge

1. Big, wet snowflakes promising an inevitable sloppy mess fell as I made my way down Cameron Ave. in the Sube this morning to meet Buff, Ed, and Scott for breakfast. Jerry was plowing snow in Wallace and Ed, Buff, and Scott had plowing on their minds. I wouldn't go so far as saying that I felt left out because I don't plow snow in the Silver Valley for McGillivray Environmental like my other breakfast mates, but when I returned home after eating, I immediately shoveled our sidewalks and driveway -- maybe so I'd feel a little bit like one of the guys . . . .

2. This morning, the Deke and I listened to an episode of Radiolab entitled "Match Made in Marrow" about the relationship that developed between an atheist woman and a Christian man about a year after her donation of bone marrow saved the man's life. As the two got to know each other, their philosophical and theological differences widened while their friendship deepened. I'll leave it at that, but tell you that if you'd like to listen to this episode, it's right here.

3. I spent much of the early afternoon putting together another batch of broth in the slow cooker, using beef soup bones I purchased at Stein's along with the leaves of celery I trimmed from stalks the other day, carrots, an onion, and a couple or three bay leaves. I also sat down at the kitchen table and planned out the family dinner I will prepare on Sunday and made a shopping list, hoping that a local store carries sweet chili sauce -- if not, I found a recipe for making my own.

Around three o'clock, the Deke dropped me off at the Inland Lounge where I met up with Ed and we yakked with Cas and Tracy. Ed left before long and I was going to head up to Radio Brewing to meet up with the Deke, but she texted me with a directive: stay put. Soon, in strolled the Deke with Liz Menke. Debbie had called Liz and invited her to be her drinking/knitting partner at Radio and they decided to hoof it down to the Lounge -- and, soon, Liz's husband Mitch arrived, too. 

I had a great time at the Lounge as people from my deep Kellogg past as well as my new Kellogg present strolled in to have a couple of drinks and enjoy the good vibe at the Lounge.

The Deke and I returned home, ate leftover chicken casserole, and a little later Christy came over for a couple of beers and visited for a while.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/11/18: Moving the Files, Soupless Chicken Casserole, No Static at All

1. The Deke and I decided we would use the file cabinet Mom had in the basement and not move it. We had considered purchasing a smaller one and putting it in the front bedroom on the ground floor. Today I organized our files, got rid of a few obsolete ones, and, most important, moved all the files out of the plastic basket I've been using and out of the front bedroom -- a very satisfying project and one that has now given us more room in the front bedroom, making it even more hospitable to being turned into a sparely furnished office.

2. When news flashed on Facebook a week or so ago that the Iron Chef of Clackamas County, Terry Turner, had made a tuna casserole without using condensed soup, I remembered having once done the same back in the old days when we lived in Greenbelt, MD.

I have been making a chicken broth in the slow cooker since Saturday. A day or two ago, I thought the meat was getting dry, so I removed it, but the broth kept bubbling away and darkening, getting more intense. Today I used the broth, in addition to water, to make rice and then used the broth, undiluted, and built a chicken casserole, guided by the tuna casserole recipe I used in Greenbelt. That recipe is here.

When the Deke and I ate the casserole, I wished I ran a test kitchen because I wanted to see if I could figure out ways to give this casserole a little more kick, some added pizzazz. Maybe some white wine in the sauce? Maybe it would have more kick if I'd had the Dijon mustard on hand the recipe called for? Maybe different vegetables? Spinach? Broccoli? I used corn, green beans, carrots, celery, and onion. I'm not sure. Since I don't have a test kitchen, I'm going to do some reading and see if I can figure something out and test it next time around.

I will say this, though: using the chicken meat and the broth was awesome. So is making tuna or chicken casserole without condensed soup. Making a sauce with flour, milk, and broth is lighter and much less salty.

3.  Listening to Steely Dan's Aja and a variety of cuts from their compilation album, Citizen Steely Dan, made cooking all the more enjoyable. I didn't exactly break out the hats and hooters or rev up the motor scooters, but I had a lot of fun reelin' in the years while I cooked away.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/10/18: Visiting Dr. Jones, Shopping, Return to Jethro Tull

1.  This morning I met with my new nephrologist, Dr. Kristie Jones, at the clinic uptown. I hadn't seen a nephrologist since March, 2017, and I am very happy to be getting back into the routine of regular visits. Dr. Jones and I talked about my kidney history and she liked what she saw in the December, 1, 2017 bloodwork I had done for my primary care giver. She liked what both of my other nephrologists have liked -- yes, my kidney function is at 19%, but it's been at this level or slightly higher for several years. She likes the stability. In addition, my blood work reveals I don't have other problems and it's especially good news that I don't have diabetes.

2. When I shopped at Yoke's and Stein's today, I had winter on my mind and bought a couple of small roasts, a whole chicken, beef soup bones, and other groceries that we can turn into meals that bring warmth and comfort to these chilly days.

3. Christy's friend Chris hosted a dinner this evening to celebrate Christy's birthday. The Deke was invited and so I had some time at home this evening to myself and enjoyed listening to music that I enjoy, but that the Deke doesn't so much. I especially enjoyed playing the entirety of Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick and their quasi-compilation double album from 1972, Living in the Past. When I started college at NIC in the fall of 1972, I hadn't listened to much Jethro Tull. I'd heard a few cuts from Aqualung, but not much else. But, John Soini and became friends during the school year and he introduced me to Living in the Past and for the next several months this album played in my head continuously. On some weekends, its songs ringing inside me made working in the Zinc Plant cell room a little more tolerable. Tonight, I realized it had been many years since I listened to side three of Living in the Past ("By Kind Permission Of" and "Dharma for One") and tonight it awakened an old Jethro Tull ecstasy I hadn't felt for many, many years.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/09/18: Sticking With It, Christy's Birthday at the Blackboard Cafe, Vito and Ukes at Wallace Brewing

1. Late this morning the Deke and I bounded into the exercise room at the Wellness Center. I had a solid workout. I'm not quite to the point of sweating pools, but I am increasing what I do in reasonable increments. This morning I worked out harder on the recumbent bicycle than I ever had and I had a good session strengthening my arms and chest and abs on different weight machines. The best thing that's going on is that the Deke and I are sticking with it and working out two or three times a week.

2. Today was Christy's birthday. She decided she wanted to eat at the Blackboard Cafe in Wallace. It's a handsome, cozy, comfortably appointed cafe that serves breakfast on the weekends, sandwiches during the day, and mostly Italian food from 5-8. The Deke and I joined Christy and Everett to (further) celebrate Christy's birthday and we all loved eating at the Blackboard.

We started with a small plate of tapenade and the olive spread was the best I've ever tasted. I wish I had it in front of me right now so I could better identify the different tastes, but I can attest to the fact that each bite of crisp crostini topped with the olive spread was a pleasing explosion of the earthy flavor of black olives complimented with garlic, lemon, and other flavors.

I ordered carbonara, thanks to the famous article Calvin Trillin wrote years ago in The New Yorker making a case for making spaghetti carbonara the national meal on Thanksgiving. (His essay first came to my attention when I heard him read it on the podcast, Burnt Toast. Click here, and you can hear him read it, too.)

Until tonight, I'd never tried pasta carbonara. The Blackboard Cafe makes carbonara with linguine. It's shot through with bits of bacon -- not crisp--and dressed with a garlic, lemon, parmesan egg sauce that further enhanced the pasta and put me in a dreamy mood as I savored the sweetness of the bacon, the bite of the lemon and garlic, and the richness of the egg and cheese.

As a gift to Christy, Blackboard co-owner, Luanne, brought out a homemade square of chocolate peanut butter cake and the four of us split it. We all moaned with pleasure as we dove into this creamy, nutty tasting, chocolate-y blast of delight.

3. I guess some nights the Deke and I can't quite enjoy ourselves enough.

After this blissful dinner, we headed down the street to Wallace Brewing, hoping that the latest iteration of Vito, Wallace Brewing's annual barrel-aged English strong ale might still be available. It had been released around Thanksgiving and for all we knew, it had sold out by now.

But, no.

Vito English strong ale, this year's batch aged in scotch barrels, was still for sale, so we enjoyed five oz. pours of this sweet and warming ale and had a great time yakkin' with Cathleen, who was serving the beer; then, before I knew it, I'm almost certain the Deke had organized the women who were at the brewery for a just concluded monthly Tuesday night ale and yoga class into an upcoming ukulele get together where the Deke will bring the instruments and teach those present how to play.

What a night in Wallace. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/08/18: Radio from D. C., *Uncivil*, My Favorite Electric Guitar Player

1. I stayed in today. I wasn't ill or tired. Nothing was wrong. I listened a lot. The Deke and I listened to programming on WAMU-FM, the NPR station in Washington, D.C. It was fun -- and I felt wistful listening to weather reports and other announcements about things happening in Washington, D.C. Hearing Here and Now hosts Robin Young and Meghna Chakrabarti again triggered some sweet memories of driving around the D. C. area in the Sube while listening to Here and Now. I flashed on drives to the Aquatic Gardens, Hung Phat in Wheaton to shop for Asian groceries, Union Station, Brookland, Rock Creek Park, and other places, all of which I loved.

2. The Deke and I listened to several episodes of the podcast Uncivil. The podcast explores how the United States' Civil War continues to be waged, not with armaments so much as with stories. Each episode the hosts, Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika, address widely held ways of understanding the Civil War by looking at original documents and by talking with researchers and people whose ancestors lived during the War. They examine such questions and the stories connected with them as whether the Civil War was fought over states' rights, whether slavery was an inefficient system, why monuments to Confederate leaders were built, what impact movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind have had on our understanding of the Civil War, what view of history is embodied by the Lost Cause perspective, and many others.  The podcast is only a few months old and you can look at a list of the episodes that have been produced so far right here.

3. From time to time, when it comes out that I used to spend a lot of time with the works of William Shakespeare, people often ask, "What is your favorite Shakespeare play." My answer is always the same: "The one I'm reading or working on in the theater or watching."

I got to thinking today that I have a similar response when I ask myself who might be my favorite electric guitar player. My favorite electric guitar player is always the one I'm listening to. Today, the Deke went on an errand and later went to an activity at the Pinehurst Public Library and, in her absence, I listened to electric guitar players. While I listened to Deep Purple, in those moments, Ritchie Blackmore was my favorite; then it was Pete Townshend; soon it was Richard Thompson; lastly, it was Mike Campbell.

Much like when I work with a Shakespeare play and the one I'm involved with seems, to me, to be the only play he ever wrote and is my favorite right then, likewise, when I listen to an electric guitar player, it is as if no one else ever played the guitar and that musician is my favorite right then.

Part of why I would be a lousy music critic is because I am lousy at comparing and contrasting. When I listen to a recording, I don't care how it stacks up against other work the group has done or other work the guitar player has done or the work of other groups or players.  All I care about is what I'm listening to in that moment.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/07/18: Power in Music and Art, Christy's Perfect Birthday Dinner, Long Hot Shower

1. After the Deke and I listened to two episodes of The Big Listen podcast and listened to one episode of Uncivil, the Deke went uptown to knit with friends at Radio Brewing. I seized the upon the couple of hours alone to once again return to the music of Richard and Linda Thompson. I played the entire album, Shoot Out the Lights, and once again marveled at how perfectly Richard Thompson's songwriting, Linda Thompson's longing and guileless vocals, and Richard Thompson's moody, often jangling and discordant electric guitar combine to explore the disillusion of brokenness when love and intimacy and togetherness disintegrate. I then turned my attention to their album, Hokey Pokey. It is one of the darkest albums of songs I've ever owned, written in the tradition of old British folk songs, and, once again, its heart wrenching to listen to Linda and Richard Thompson give voice to the world's harshness, but, at times exhilarating to experience how perfectly these songs are made, both instrumentally and vocally.

Saturday, I found a recording of the production of Sunday in the Park with George that the Deke and I saw and loved at the Hudson Theater in April, 2017. I didn't listen to the entire musical this afternoon, but I started with the song "Sunday" which ends Act I and listened to the entirety of Act II. I retrieved the lyrics to "Sunday" online and read them while listening.

It got emotional for me. I loved that afternoon at the theater. I love this song about the permanence of art, how the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" endures, giving eternal life to a Sunday in a perfect park, even as those figures in the painting who lived this moment experienced it as fleeting in the same way their lives are impermanent in the same way our Saturday afternoon in the Hudson Theater experiencing live theater was fleeting -- poof! -- gone. The painting, though, is forever.

2. Christy's birthday is on Tuesday, but at tonight's family dinner, we celebrated her birthday. Christy requested a wonderful dinner: Old Fashioneds for cocktails followed by a Caesar salad and a meal of roasted chicken, rice  pilaf, and green beans. For dessert, Christy asked for a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Carol took two days to prepare this meal and told us she had a blast doing it. With Christy's assistance, Carol recently unearthed her copy of Julia Child's' book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and committed herself, as much as possible, to prepare this entire meal following Julia Child's directions. 

Talk about wishing life were not a series of fleeting moments. I didn't want this dinner to end.  Everything was perfect. Carol wrote a detailed account of her two days of cooking, here, if you'd like to know what went into this meal and what Carol did in the kitchen to bring it to life. I'll just say two words: butter and eggs.

3. Before dinner and before the Deke returned from knitting, I took a long hot shower and thought a lot about the difficulties Mom endured in her last few months of life. I was happy that Christy, Carol, Paul, Zoe, the Deke, and others did all we could to make those last months easier and free of loneliness. All the same, I kept reliving how unfair it was that her legs gave out, that she was immobile, and I longed for that to have been different for her. It was all so confusing for Mom. So much of what she'd known in her life gradually disappeared and I ached for her, for how unjust it all was, and sought comfort in the hot water pounding on the top of my back and over my head.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/06/18: This and That, Revisiting "Don't Renege on Our Love", Beef Stroganoff Soup

1. It was a good day for doing this and that around the house, including breaking down several cardboard boxes and running them out to the dump after discovering that the dumpster for recycling cardboard at the station near our house was overflowing with flattened boxes. It was a good day for picking up a few groceries at Yoke's and for adding albums to my library so I can play them on our wireless speaker set up.

2. I love listening to electric guitar players. The Deke really enjoys jazz on the electric guitar, but doesn't really enjoy the other players I do. The Deke went on a couple errands this afternoon and I returned to an album I haven't listened to in years:  Richard and Linda Thompson's searing, angry album marking the end of their career as a duo -- and the end of their marriage: Shoot Out the Lights. It's been over twenty years since I've felt the rawness of a failed love relationship, but those old feelings stick around and listening to some of this album today simultaneously ignited memories of brokenness in my life and resurrected the joy of listening to Richard and Linda Thompson sing and, above all, listening to Richard Thompson pour out the emotion of these songs on the electric guitar.

For some reason, I had all but forgotten the song, "Don't Renege on Our Love" and when it came over the Bose today, I shuddered with love for the sound of the song. I felt resentments from about twenty-five years ago well up again. It was cathartic. I'd like to write more about Richard Thompson's guitar work on this song, but I need to listen to it some more to get the words right. So I'll wait.

3. The Deke and I have had a beef broth bubbling away since Tuesday. The Deke took one draw from this perpetual broth and improvised a spaghetti squash dinner with the broth on Wednesday.

Today, however, the Deke made full use of the broth. First, she made some dough, rolled it out, and cut noodles. Later, she strained the broth, mashed the vegetables in it, saved the prime rib that had fallen off the bone, and put new onions and mushrooms in the broth and let them cook. She boiled the noodles and combined it all together with sour cream to make beef stroganoff soup.

The soup is as rich, deep, slightly sweet, creamy, and flavorful as any soup I've ever eaten. I'm very happy that the Deke has introduced homemade noodles into our life.

After dinner, I cleaned the kitchen and emptied the crock pot of its leftover soup and stored it. Immediately, I put a whole chicken in the pot, covered it with water and added salt, peppercorns, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, mushrooms, basil leaves, and oregano leaves.

Our next version of perpetual broth is underway. It bubbled away all evening and into the night while the Deke watched and I kept an ear on Godfather Part II.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/05/18: Stories at Sam's, Working the Legs, Josiah's Revenge and Other Epicurean Delights

1.  I slipped and skated down Cameron Avenue at 5:45 this morning and eased my way into the front door of Sam's, poured myself coffee, and waited for Ed, Buff, Jerry, and Scott. They all tumbled in, ready to eat, and full of stories about experiences they've had with gargantuan hamburgers in Lewiston (Effie's), south of Yakima (Miners Drive-In) and Baton Rouge (Walk-On's). I did not contribute to the burger talk nor to the conversations about the perils and frustrations of plowing snow in the Silver Valley, but I enjoyed hearing all these stories and happily reported that the work on our remodel is finished.

Ed and I agreed after breakfast that I should not walk back home, so he gave me a ride and I was ready for the day.

2. The Deke and I missed our workouts on Monday (New Year's Day) and Wednesday (Lewiston road trip), but we were back at the Wellness Center today. I worked out a little harder than I ever had on the recumbent bicycle machine and followed that up with leg and calf presses, leg curls, and other lower body machines. I don't think anyone would ever be able to tell from looking at me that I'm working out more regularly now, but I have faith that it's doing my muscles and circulation a lot of good. I sure feel better and sleep better.

3. The Deke and I were planning on a beef noodle dinner made with the broth I've been slow cooking this week and the Deke was going to make noodles. Our plans changed when Christy invited us over for chicken pot pie. She bought one of those heavenly pies at Costco today. Wow! What a great dinner with another of the Deke's masterpiece salads:  walnut, honeycrisp apple, parmesan cheese, kale and a superb vinaigrette.

The Deke and I returned home and played ourselves a concert. I succeeded today in making it so that our Echo Dot plays through our Bose speaker. We listened to Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Diamond, Stan Rogers, the Jerry Douglas Pandora station, Dave Brubeck, and to music from Sunday in the Park with George.

We broke out a bomber of Great Divide's very delicious Chai Yeti Imperial Stout and savored how beautifully its cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom brought this beer alive without being at all cloying. In fact, underlying its Himalayan sweetness was a welcome bitterness, making it a balanced and perfect imperial stout.

It got even better as our evening continued.

I broke out the bomber of Daft Badger's Josiah's Revenge we bought at Pilgrim's on Thursday. When I bought it, I didn't look closely at the label. I thought I was buying the year round Josiah's Revenge, but NO!, to my utter surprise and delight, I had purchased the bourbon barrel-aged Josiah's Revenge. It was like having Christmas all over again. I rarely drink Josiah's Revenge on site at Daft Badger because I'm usually driving. I always ask for a taster just so I can have a bit of it.

But, tonight, in the safety of our home, the Deke and I split the bourbon barrel aged Josiah's Revenge. The brown sugary notes of Maker's Mark bourbon enhanced its cherry, dried fruit, chocolate-y sweetness and the ease and beauty of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond never sounded better.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/04/18: Shopping in CdA, Imperial Stout Tasting, Roasted Chicken a la Corleone

1. After a lazy morning, the Deke and I buzzed over to CdA to purchase some home improvement items: the Deke bought curtain fabric and I lumbered around Fred Meyer and bought a slow cooker, rolling pin, whisks, and other items for the kitchen. After Fred Meyer, we hauled ourselves over to Pilgrim's and I nearly melted with astonishment at their fine selection of Imperial Stout beer. We purchased a few bottles along with some food for dinner and returned to Kellogg, pleased with the way we made things better in our home.

2. The Deke and I dove into an excellent Imperial Stout tasting party once we packed our new belongings into the house. We loved all three beers we split and sampled: Yeti Whiskey Barrel Aged Yeti, Goose Island's divine, thick, and sweet Bourbon County Imperial Stout, and, an old favorite, Deschutes' The Abyss, a molasses, vanilla, and licorice bomb of superb and rich flavor.

3. The Deke roasted chicken thighs and carrots and served them with polenta, a perfect dinner. For dessert, she rented The Godfather. She watched it on her Chromebook and I sat nearby, listening to it, as the movie were classical music on the radio. It was like listening to Beethoven, only the notes were words, but the words' many moods, their depth, and their careful arrangement made them seem like a Beethoven symphony.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/03/18: Road Trip to Lewiston, Genesee Tour, Grayson is Back!

1. Ed swung by the house at 7:15 and we drove to the Conoco station at Rose Lake Junction to meet up with Jake. Jake then drove us to CdA where Ed dashed into LabCorp for a blood draw. We helped Ed break his fast at Starbucks and then we picked up Byrdman and returned to the Albertson's parking lot where we met up with Stu and Lars.

Do you sense it coming? ROAD TRIP!

Stu had organized the six of us to pile in Jake's and Stu's rigs and head south to Lewiston, Idaho so we could inhale the perfumed air of the pulp mill and meet our friend since we were little kids, Don Knott, for a burger at Effie's Tavern.

It was a reunion of most the HOFGG (Hall of Fame of Great Guys), the bunch of us who used to get together around Don Knott's outdoor fireplace on his patio when he lived in Kellogg on West Cameron at the house known as Penny Lane.

But, two years ago, Don sold Penny Lane and moved to Lewiston.

Up here in the Silver Valley, we miss Don, so we caravaned down to Effie's, met Don, got in some good yakkin' and ordered up various versions of Effie's famous burgers: eight inches in diameter with a pound of meat. (I ordered a half a burger and that was plenty for me.)

Scroll to the end of this post and you can see pictures of our visit to Effie's.

2. It was a blast to all be together again, telling stories, getting caught up on what's been happening, and having some good laughs. Effie's was the perfect joint to hang out together. It has a little back room with a pool table and we sat on stools around a table back there and had that part of Effie's all to ourselves.

Ed, Jake, and I piled back into Jake's pickup and he drove us to his Mom and Dad's hometown, Genesee, Idaho, a farming town just off Highway 95. Jake took us on a tour, showing us houses and properties where different family members lived and told us stories about when he came to Genesee in the summers to work on his grandpa's farm, go swimming, and enjoy his relatives.

As we left Genesee, Jake pulled into a gravel road leading to one of his favorite spots, Genesee Meats and Smoked Sausages, where Marlyn Callahan sells his famous handmade smoked Genesee Sausages out of a spare and spartan retail space. Marlyn was almost out of sausages thanks to the holiday season, but he managed to rustle up five pounds of his prized product for Jake, making Jake very happy.

3. Back in Kellogg, the Deke and I went over to Christy and Everett's at about 6:45 for a nightcap. It was a sad day. Their cat Grayson had been missing for several days and another cat, Grayson's sister, Junebug, has been very sick. I returned home after a while to clean up the kitchen and let Maggie and Charly out.

Soon after I went to bed, Christy texted the Deke, Carol, and me: Grayson had returned! He was very hungry, but seemed to be doing pretty well otherwise. Later, Christy reported on Facebook that Junebug seemed to be better and she had the good fortune and pleasure of having both cats celebrate their reunion with one another and with Christy by sitting on her lap.

Here are pictures from our trip to Lewiston, including one of Don and me re-enacting a picture from the Kellogg High School annual our junior year of the two of us Blummin' It.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/02/18: Picture on the Wall, Perpetual Soup, Spaghetti Squash Dish

1.  We are moving very slowly at getting our new house set up. Today, though, with Ed's help, the Deke hung a picture on the living room wall.



2. The Deke and I won the prime rib roast bones lottery on New Year's Eve and I've been reading about perpetual soup, here, and so I covered the bones with water and added fresh oregano, basil stems, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and onion and started slow cooking the bones on the stove top to make a beef broth. Soon, I'll buy us a slow cooker and transfer the broth into it  and try out what Jennifer McGruther does and let the broth cook for a week and start another batch with other bones -- probably chicken -- next Tuesday.

3. We had a spaghetti squash on hand and I cooked it and sauteed a combination of onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes, mixed the squash strings and these vegetables together, and topped the mixture with fresh basil leaves. It's simple. I didn't have pine nuts on hand, so our dish didn't have nuts. You can look over the recipe, here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/01/18: Travels with Ed and Allan, Ralph Vaughn Williams, An Open Room

1. I hauled myself out of bed around 8:15 and an hour later blasted the Sube out to Kingston, picked up Ed and Allan, and glided on the clear and bare roads to the Coeur d'Alene Casino. More than anything, I enjoyed the ride down and back, talking with Ed and Allan about life in the Valley, getting caught up on how different people were doing and listening to some great stories about Ed and Allan's work and about people they know, people they worked with and some they did jobs for.  I used to know, or at least know of, quite a few of the people they told stories about and often it was depressing to learn what had happened to them, but some of those sad lives had some very funny chapters. The stories ate up the miles coming and going to Worley and made the trip a lot of fun.

2. Back home, things for me were very slow. The Deke went out to see Paige at Radio Brewing and I retreated into our bedroom to get caught up on some writing. Over the last few days, I've been listening to the music of British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. His compositions move me, especially "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", "Fantasia on Greensleeves", and the story of resurrection told in his "Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'". I used to listen to this music on my MP3 player a lot on the bus riding from downtown Eugene out to work at LCC and back, and then, as today, the sounds of Vaughn Williams transported me into a private world of feeling related to his explorations of struggle and hope. It was also fun remembering the first time I heard "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" back in January, 1996 at the University of Oregon's Beall Hall in a program given by the Oregon Mozart Players. The way the piece slowly built to its emotional climax nearly brought me out of my seat and from that point forward I began buying Vaughn Wiliams recordings, listening to more and more of his work.

3.  The Deke and I are about to make decisions on how to set up a home office in the front bedroom. Before we could get serious about this project, we needed the single twin bed in that room moved out. Carol and Paul decided they could make good use of it at their house. They came over this evening and picked it up and now a whole new space has opened up in our house and the Deke and I can let the imagining begin.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 12/31/17: *The Beethoven 9 @ 9*, Family Prime Rib Dinner, The Inland Lounge and the Elks Club

1. We didn't get through all nine episodes, but the Deke and I listened to the first five episodes of the podcast The Beethoven 9 @ 9.  It was a monthly series done in 2015 on Colorado Public Radio and features a short discussion of each of Beethoven's nine symphonies. Beethoven biographer Jan Swafford provides his expertise, primarily in response to questions presented by host Monika Vischer about Beethoven's life, musical genius, personal struggles, and the political realities of his lifetime. You can see the list of podcast episodes and click on any you want to listen to right here.

2. The Deke and I joined Christy and Everett over at Carol and Paul's for a prime rib New Year's Eve dinner. To start, I served as bartender and made each of us a Dark and Stormy: dark rum, ginger beer, and a few shakes of bitters over ice with a lime garnish. For dinner, Carol roasted the prime rib perfectly and Paul carved it perfectly. Christy fixed a family favorite potato dish known as Derek's Potatoes, named after our cousin. Christy's work on this dish was unique enough that we decided it could be called Christy's Potatoes! The Deke fixed a green bean dish and Carol made Yorkshire pudding. We topped off our dinner with helpings of tasty pistachio gelato.

3. Before dinner, I headed up to the Inland Lounge to see how Cas was doing. He had a heart attack over the course of Christmas Eve night leading into the wee hours of Christmas Day. Christmas morning, in CdA, he had a couple of stints put in to open the blocked aorta. He returned home on Wednesday and was back running the Inland Lounge on Friday night.

So, the Prime Rib buffet planned for Christmas Day at the Lounge was cancelled, but it was put on today and a good crowd turned up to enjoy the food and to marvel at Cas being back in action after having been in ICU just a few days ago.

I talked with Cas and later Goose came in. His grocery store in St. Regis ran out of milk, so he drove to the Smelterville WalMart to stock up and dropped in for a couple of beers and we did some excellent yakking. When Goose left, I joined Abbie and Kate at their table and enjoyed some more first-rate yakking and then picked up the Deke at Radio Brewing where she knitted this afternoon.

After dinner, the Deke and I joined the revelers at the Kellogg Elks Club. We enjoyed the music of Jake and Carol Lee and Al's band, Remember When, did a lot of yakking with a bunch of different people and the Deke and I danced for the first time in our 20 years of marriage. Ha!

The tradition at the Elks is to ring in the new year at 9:00 at the same time it's being rung in at Times Square in NYC.

After we celebrated the arrival of 2018 at the Elks, the Deke and I slipped and slid across the street to do it again at midnight at The Inland Lounge. We saw a whole lot of people, many of whom also migrated over from the Elks Club and we had a blast talking, laughing, story-telling, and enjoying friends, longtime ones as well as new ones.

The Deke and I have never had so much fun on New Year's Eve. It was an awesome afternoon, evening, and night with family and friends.