Saturday, June 30, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/18: Christy Continues to Improve, Lighter House and Mind, Elks Burgers at the Lounge

1.  After a hearty breakfast with Scott, Jerry, Ed, and Buff at 6 o'clock at Sam's, I went over to Christy's house and got the ice therapy machine stocked up with water and ice and helped her ice her knee after she did her physical therapy exercises.  Later in the day, Rusty, the physical therapist, returned and put Christy through some paces and she responded very well. He also freed her from her walker and so know Christy can walk around the house with the aid of her cane. Christy did another half an hour of ice therapy after her session with Rusty. Christy's home care nurse, Christine, also paid a visit earlier in the day and, among other things, recommended that Christy cut pack on pain medication, another good sign that her recovery and rehabilitation are going well.

2. In our slow and sure efforts to get our house set up after the remodel, we made a little more progress today. We knew it was possible that our new furniture might not arrive today. That turned out to be true. One of the delivery guys has been ill. But, I made a trip to St. Vincent de Paul's today and donated three vacuum cleaners, a small stack of towels, a set of curtains, some random cords,  and a couple of lamps. Every time I take more things out of our house that are extra, that we don't really use, I feel lighter inside.

3. The Deke and I were undecided about dinner late this afternoon and decided to take our uncertainty to the Inland Lounge. We settled in. We ordered beers. Cas told us about his trip with Tracy last weekend to Seattle to see his son and granddaughter. Eddie Joe caught me up on the Jeff Foster Memorial event at St. Regis earlier today. Mike Grebil updated me on his daughter's upcoming wedding and whether I might see his brother and American Legion baseball teammate, Steve. Before long, Cas presented us with the opportunity to order burgers and fries from the weekly hamburger feed across the street at the Elks. We seized upon it and, after a while, Candy strolled across the broken asphalt and rough surface of McKinley Ave., which is under repair, with a stack of styrofoam dinner boxes, and soon the Deke and I dove into our burgers and fries. While we were eating, Kellogg's mayor, Mac Pooler and his wife Francie strolled in just ahead of Ed. We gabbed with them, made some tentative plans for tomorrow with Ed, and, after a bit, we called it a night. We were home by 7:30, at ease after a fine couple of hours of relaxing at the Lounge.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/18: Icing Christy's Healing Knee, Furniture Purchase, Relaxing at the Depot

1. I kept watch today for the UPS truck. Christy's ice therapy machine was due to arrive and I wanted to help her get it set up. The machine came to the house about the same time her physical therapist was scheduled to arrive, to I took it over to our house, unboxed it, and studied how to assemble it and how it works. Before long, Rusty, the PT, arrived and I took the machine over and he helped Christy put the bladder on her knee after I got the ice and water in the chest and soon the contraption was icing Christy's knee. 

Christy's knee is in good shape three days after the surgery. Her range of motion is better than than most patients experience this soon after knee replacement. She is working diligently on the exercises she's been given and, with the aid of her walker, is getting around very well in the house.

2. The Deke finished clearing out the front bedroom and cleaning the floor and I brought the rug we are putting in it from upstairs. We hopped over to Furniture Exchange and purchased two chairs and an ottoman and we'll decide when they arrive which chairs will be in the now former bedroom and which in the living room. The room will also have our television and, most likely, a desktop computer that we share. We also moved a dresser into the basement craft room and are beginning to make decisions about how to arrange things down there.

3. The Deke and I settled ourselves down a bit after buying furniture by having a couple of drinks at the Hill St. Depot. We continued an ongoing conversation about our trip to New York in August for Adrienne and Josh's wedding and we are probably getting closer to knowing when we are going back and how long we'll stay. I think we've reached a point in our life where we are expecting less of ourselves when we travel -- so, the more we talk, the more modest our plans become for what we'll do while away. I like downsizing our expectations and making it more likely that we won't wear ourselves out.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/18: Being Christy's Handyman(Sort of), Front Bedroom Progress, Salmon and Contented Corgis

1. Christy knew I was up early this morning and texted me to with a request to come over. She needed a toilet riser, a gopher grab and pick up tool, and some cough drops. I rocketed straight out to WalMart and found what she needed, with some low grade anxiety that the toilet riser might not fit. Sure enough, I took it out of the box and I failed in my my first three or four (or five) attempts to attach it to Christy and Everett's toilet. But, I persisted. I studied the contraption a little more closely, had an aha! moment regarding how it worked and I succeeded. (Quick sidebar: this is quite a week for me, as a perennially un-handy man. I have now figured out why water was dripping from our basement ceiling, fixed a leaky faucet, and secured a riser on a toilet. It's a miracle.) The riser has arms. Only one would fit because of the toilent's proximity to the bathroom's north wall, but the one arm is a help.

Later, I did some shopping for Christy and got a couple of prescriptions filled for her at Yoke's.

For having been through a major surgery, Christy is hanging right in there. She's doing the physical therapy exercises that she learned at the hospital. She's in pain and we all hope the pain will diminish sooner than later.

As best I can tell, she's doing everything she's been told to do and everyone who's had this surgery says that following orders is the key to successful recovery and rehab.

2. The Deke and I worked more on getting the front bedroom cleared out and we are almost there. We worked on finding new places new put some things, got rid of other things, and were surprised by some things we found. Our next task will be to sweep and clean the floor, put down a rug, and then decide how to furnish this room -- for the first time in many, many years, I see a television in our near future.

3. I bought a chunk of salmon and seasoned and grilled it on our gas range griddle and the Deke made a delicious salad and we enjoyed dinner on the deck in the cool quiet of the evening. For the corgis, our back yard is a spacious playground of endless places to sniff and explore with many bushes to duck into and places to bury things. It was fun to watch them circumnavigate the yard, pop out of sight on occasion, and enjoy feeling content. The corgis always loved Kellogg and Mom's yard when we came to visit and they are especially happy to now be living here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/18: Visiting Christy, Christy is Home, Drinks and Steak

1. I was up early this morning and got some things done and fixed a quick breakfast before zooming over the hill to CdA to visit Christy. When I arrived, a very kind and competent physical therapist was in Christy's room, going through a checklist of exercises Christy must do while lying in bed. They involve bending her knee, lifting her leg, stretching, and other exercises. The physical therapist guided Christy as to how to perform each exercise and Christy responded very well to the instructions, was able to do whatever the PT asked of her, and, in fact, was familiar with some of them from physical therapy preparation she did uptown before her surgery.

Christy's mood was positive, even though she was a little sleep deprived. She had, with human assistance and the help of her walker, walked down to the physical therapy room and passed two essential tests: getting in and out a car and walking up steps, both necessary for her to return home.

The only persistent problem Christy has faced is the dropping of her blood pressure and she knows how to monitor it at home and knows to get up slowly when she leaves her chair or bed in case she suddenly feels lightheaded or dizzy.

2. I returned home in the early afternoon and soon thereafter Carol pulled up in front of Christy and Everett's house with Christy in the passenger seat. Christy succeeded doing in real life what she had done at the hospital. She got out of the car and made her way up the steps on the front porch. Carol stepped up as Christy's helper all afternoon, helping make sure Christy and her dogs had as calm a reunion as possible, helping get some things arranged in the house to better accommodate Christy's needs, and being good company. Just before bedtime, the Deke went over to see Christy and, when she returned, reported that Christy was doing very well.

All in all, I'd say Christy had a very good first day after surgery.

3. Knowing Christy was in good hands with Carol, we slipped over to the Hill St. Depot around 4 o'clock or so and I enjoyed my favorite cocktail at the Depot, a Moscow Mule made with spiced rum instead of vodka and the Deke enjoyed small pours of Worthy IPA and Elysian's Dragonbreath Imperial Stout. It was relaxing to enjoy a drink together. The last two days have been packed with helping Christy and earnestly hoping and praying that her surgery would go well and that she would get off to a good start in her recovery and rehab. So far, so good!

Back home, I sizzled us some steak and we each ate a salad and made plans for tackling the front bedroom and starting to really get that room squared away.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/18: Successful Surgery, Visiting Christy, Looking Ahead

1. Christy's surgeon emerged from the operating room with good news. He proclaimed Christy's knee replacement surgery a success. The Deke told me that he said, "Perfect."

2. I ran a couple of errands upon getting this news and Everett and I piled into their rig and, after a big lunch at Sam's, headed to Cd'A to see Christy. We arrived around 3 o'clock, thinking that Christy would be out of the recovery room and situated in her hospital room. But, spinal blocks sometimes lower blood pressure and, in recovery, Christy's blood pressure went down. The staff treated her, kept her under close observation, and, when her blood pressure had come back up to a level that was safer, she was delivered to her room where Everett and I awaited her.

Christy was in great spirits. She was aware of everything that had been going on and recounted for us what the nurses told her about the surgery and her blood pressure. Repeatedly, she bent her leg toward herself to show us that she already could bend her knee pretty well and it was a relief to see that her pain medication was working well.

Everett and I had a good visit with Christy and, not long after returning home, Christy texted us that she had been able, with the assistance of her walker, to walk to the bathroom in her room. To me, this was great news!

3.  Once home, I didn't need dinner thanks to the chicken fried steak breakfast I'd eaten at Sam's for lunch. The tension and excitement of visiting Christy, however, left me worn out and so I took a nap instead of eating. Later in the evening, the Deke and I sat under the string of lights now running under our roof's gutters, above the deck, and split a bottle of Ninkasi's Vanilla Oatis and started trying to plan for the upcoming week and looked ahead to what our summer -- and a ways beyond -- might look like.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/18: Chicken Prep, Family Dinner, Plumbing

1. The Deke and I were this evening's hosts for family dinner. Christy goes in tomorrow for knee replacement surgery, and so we asked Christy to make a request for a dinner that would be easy for her to enjoy. She'd mentioned earlier in the week that she hoped we'd have something simple and not too rich. She requested chicken thighs. At first, we were going to bake them, but today the temperatures climbed into the mid-80s and we decided not to use the oven. Instead, I salted and peppered the thighs, seared them, and thawed out a container of chicken stock I had made a few weeks ago. I then put the chicken pieces and the stock into our crock pot around 11:30 so the chicken thighs could cook slowly in the homemade stock.

2. The chicken thighs were done cooking around 2:00 or so. I left them in the crock pot, put the crock pot on warm, and the Deke prepared everything else: roasted Brussel sprouts and radishes, spinach, and cucumber salad. Everett had had a rough day with gout pain and stayed home to continue resting. Christy, Paul, Carol, the Deke and I fit ourselves around our deck table and enjoyed this meal in the ever cooling evening. Christy had maps and handouts and instructions ready for each of us. We all know what we can do to help her over the next few days while she is in the hospital and when she comes home.

3. I am doing my best to fix a dripping faucet in the basement. I looked at instructions online and got a pretty good understanding of what the repair requires, but had trouble getting a nut loosened to remove the tap's cartridge. Paul took a look at the tap and figured out that the valve need to be open before the nut would come off -- I wouldn't have thought of this -- so now I can take the cartridge over to Ace and get some help from them regarding washers. I'm in no hurry and I've appreciated what I've learned about very simple plumbing.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/18: Figuring Out the Front Bedroom, New Cell Phones, Perfect Party at the Daft Badger

1. Ever since we started moving into Mom and Dad's house in September, the front bedroom has been a room of uncertainty. It's been a catch all room for miscellaneous things: books, framed pictures, a nightstand Mom used next to her bed, and other things and we haven't really decided what to do with the room. Today the Deke and I stood in it and began to imagine where we might put a small television and a couple of chairs and a computer desk and desktop computer. This means doing some shopping we haven't done yet, but I think within the next four weeks we will finally get this room shaped into a comfortable place to watch movies and do computer things.

2. We had a thunderstorm Thursday evening. The Deke had put her cell phone on the deck's railing and forgot she'd done so. The the thunderstorm bathed the cell phone, killing it. So, today we buzzed over to the Verizon store so the Deke could purchase a new cell phone and, while we were there, we had a what the heck moment and I bought one, too.  Jade, the rep who helped us get everything set up, was fun to work with. I think Jade found the Deke and me fun, too. Once again, as has happened countless times over the last several years, we had another great experience with one of the "young people today" that so many people our age seem to find reasons to consistently complain about. Jade was knowledgeable, fun, solicitous, and seemed to enjoy her job. Again and again, these "young people today" continue to be a source of much enjoyment for us.

3. We decided to forego a trip to Michael's or to Costco and darted straight to the Daft Badger. Over the past several months, another one of the "young people today" named Kyra has been our server and she has always been terrific: she's bright, prompt, conversational, knows the Daft Badger well, and fun to work with. Kyra told us she's decided to leave CdA and move elsewhere and enjoy another part of the USA. Good for her! We'll miss Kyra, but it was fun to hear her talk about what's next, see her excitement, and feel a bit of her uncertainty about what she'll do at the next place she moves to.

Sometimes I drink a Double IPA because I want a beer that will jolt me out of any complacency I might be experiencing and hit me between the eyes with explosive hoppiness and multiple flavors. But, today was different. I ordered a small pour of Hop Faced 2IPA and enjoyed its mellowness. It's quite a feat, I think, to brew a hoppy beer with plenty of juicy flavors, but to make it easy to drink, easy like Sunday morning. The Deke and I had a first-rate conversation about possibilities I'm not at liberty to divulge that we might seize upon over the next several months and the smooth, comforting Hop Faced 2IPA enriched my enjoyment of our conversation.

We also enjoyed splitting one of our favorite sandwiches at the Daft Badger, their BLT. I might have this all wrong, but I think the sandwich was different today from what I've had before, but I don't fully trust my memory. I loved the sun-dried tomatoes on our sandwich and didn't remember this feature the last time I had the BLT at Daft Badger. Whether I have the facts quite right or not, I loved this sandwich along with our garbanzo bean salad.  Maybe the sandwich was built the same as always and I was just more tuned in to how delicious it is.

For the Deke and me, this was a perfect party.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/18: Pancakes, Little Things, Beer Club with Zaya and The Abyss

1. I enjoyed, after being absent last week, meeting up with Ed, Jerry, Buff, and Scott for breakfast this morning at Sam's. There's really nothing special about Sam's pancakes. All the same, I think about the pancake I order with my breakfast all week long. After not having one for a couple of weeks, this morning's pancake really hit the spot.

2. Little things. I moved my socks and underwear out of my suitcase and into the hanging storage box that arrived on Thursday. Our front bedroom is a cluttered mess of things we need to make decisions about and I moved books out of there and put them on the bookshelves we not have in the living room. I cleaned out a small box of cords and other miscellany and freed up more space in the hall closet. Our house started to heat up a bit today and I turned on the furnace fan that blows cool air from the basement into the main floor of the house and it made a significant difference. All little things, but all things that helped me feel more settled as we organize our house after the remodel.

3. Shawn, the Deke, and I had a beer club meeting late this afternoon in the kitchen. We had decided on Tuesday that we'd focus on rum today. Shawn brought a bottle of Zaya rum and we each sipped 3-4 ounces of it. It was awesome. Then I broke the wax seal and popped open a true heavyweight beer: Deschutes' The Abyss (2017), aged for ten months in rum barrels and weighing in at 13.9% Alcohol by Volume.  Drinking this beer was an ecstatic experience. To begin, as I poured us each 3-4 ounces, it was like I'd found an elixir drilled from a black hole in outer space. It was so black that no light could escape it. Then I tasted it. The sweet cane sugar booziness of the rum barrel perfectly complimented the deep flavors of vanilla, licorice, molasses (my favorite), and black cherry.  The taste was so profound, so perfect I nearly wept and part of me wanted to take a nap between each sip to slow down our consumption of this Imperial Stout and to test whether I could dream a better tasting beer. (I'd say no, I could not.)

Having drunk some of The Abyss as purists, we then put about an eight of an inch of Zaya rum in the bottom of our glasses and poured The Abyss over it, further deepening and enhancing the rummy sweetness of the beer. We unanimously declared this experiment a wild success and, had we thought of it, we could have adjourned our beer club meeting with a prayer of gratitude and thanked God for the brewing ingenuity that created The Abyss and for the brewer who thought to age it for 10 months in rum barrels. But, we didn't pray. We said farewell. Shawn headed home after a week of remodeling in Wallace. We have not yet decided when the next beer club meeting will be. But, to quote Chuck at 16 Tons when I told him I was buying the box of beer I purchased there for our beer club, I have "plenty of ammo" for our next meeting.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/18: TB Negative, Lazy, Leftovers

1. A quick trip to the clinic to have my TB skin test read revealed that I do not have tuberculosis and now I have done everything I need to in 2018 to maintain my status on the U of Maryland kidney transplant list.

2. Mine was a lazy afternoon of reading and napping.

3. The Deke fixed a superb dinner by cutting up leftover chicken from yesterday and heating it in the leftover braising liquid and pouring it over cauliflower rice.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/18: Drip Problem Solved, Laundry Day, Chicken Curry Braise

1. Drip. Drip. Drip. Water. Water slowly dripping out of an opening in the ceiling in the basement bathroom. I went right to work trying to figure out what the source of this dripping might be. I looked at pipes, what pipes go where. It didn't seem like any pipes went above the basement ceiling. I turned off water. The dripping continued. I texted Shawn, asking him to come over and see what he thought was going on.

It turned out I could later tell Shawn that I didn't need his help after all.

Then I had an insight. A little while earlier, I had watered the lawn and left our bedroom window open. Water had gone down an air vent in the floor and I realized that vent is right above the bathroom. I put a bowl on the shelf where the water was dripping down and uttered a quick prayer that the amount of water that could drip was finite, based on the finite amount of water that came into our bedroom window, and that it would end at some point.

It did.

What a relief.

2. Today's undertaking in getting our house put together? Laundry. I stripped the beds we slept in upstairs and gathered up the clothes that had accumulated while I was living up there and gathered up towels and other things and spent most of the afternoon doing loads of laundry and then having a laundry folding and hanging up party with the Deke in the evening.

3. So, I took a whole chicken out of the ice box and let it warm up to room temperature. I poured a shallow pool of olive oil in the bottom of the Dutch oven, heated it up, and then browned the chicken, top and bottom. I removed the chicken, put it on a plate, poured off some of the oil, and sauteed a sliced whole onion. In a bowl, I combined a couple cans of coconut milk with a couple of heaping teaspoons of green curry paste. I had bought a package of fresh tarragon and poured most of it on top of the cooked onions. Then I placed the chicken back on top of the now cooked onions and tarragon and poured the curried coconut milk over and around the chicken and added some brown sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce and put the chicken, covered, in the oven at 275 degrees to braise for an hour. I checked the chicken after an hour and decided to up the oven heat a bit and braised it for another forty minutes at 325 degrees.

The chicken turned out very moist and tender, infused with the complex spiciness of the curry and licorice tones of the tarragon. The braise liquid turned out beautifully as well, as if I had set out to make an innovative onion soup.

The chicken was the smallest I could find at Yoke's. The Deke and I ate about half of it and are very happy to have plenty of chicken and liquid for another meal tomorrow or another day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/18: Slowly and Surely, TB Test, Completed Remodel Requires Beer Club Meeting

1. Today the Deke and I started putting our house together. I'd say we started putting it back together, but we have never really put it together. Our first job is simple: hang clothes in our new closet. We also ordered some accessories for the closet and the bathroom. We have a lot of decisions to make about the front room and the bedroom on the top floor. Slowly and surely.

2. Every year, as part of staying listed at the U of Maryland for a kidney transplant, I have a TB skin test. It's a simple procedure. On Thursday, I'll return to the lab for the results -- all the technician will have to do is look at my arm -- and have the results sent to Baltimore. So far, no bump is sprouting at the place of injection, so it's looking pretty good that, once again, the result will be negative.

3. Around 4:30 Shawn pulled in front of the house and we were ready for him. I had the checkbook out and my pen poised to make our last payment for his work. We also had out the short beer tasting glasses. Paying our bill to Shawn also meant another beer club session. I brought home a box of different beers from Eugene, eager to contribute to the beer club, and today we decided to introduce Shawn to two terrific Oregon beers.

First, we popped open a bomber of the beer Terry Turner named and the beer whose purchase helps protect and sustain salmon in Oregon: Pelican Brewing's Five Fin Pilsner. When Terry served us this beer in Gladstone, I thought it was among the best pilsners I'd ever tasted. Tasting it today, I'd say it is the very best pilsner I've ever had. I really like how it's a light, easy to drink beer with quiet hints of lemon zest and other citrus notes and even a little spice.

Next I brought out a bomber of Ninkasi's Ground Control Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. This is a beer to drink with caution. Its ABV is 10% and it's got all the right deep and dark complexity a person wants from an Imperial Stout. The impact of the bourbon barrel combined with the fact that the beer was brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, anise, and cocoa nibs gives the beer a dark sweetness, like the best semi-sweet dark chocolate and I loved the presence of the filberts and licorice notes from the anise. I experience something primordial when I drink a stout like this. The flavors are so deep and rich, hinting at molasses, that it's as if it were brewed and aged deep in the past. Ground Control finishes with a refreshing bitterness, a perfect compliment to the initial cocoa-y bittersweetness. Shawn, the Deke, and I absolutely loved drinking this beer. I'd had one short pour of it back in March at the Filling Station in CdA and I enjoyed it even more today. It's definitely a beer for special occasions. Marking the finish of the remodel definitely merited sharing this beer.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/18: Easy Drive Home, Long Thoughts, Cabbage Borscht for Dinner

1. The Deke and I said our farewells and expressed our thanks to the Pendletons and hit the road around nine o'clock. Our drive from Eugene to Kellogg was blissfully uneventful -- we faced some minor traffic congestion in Portland and a bit more in Spokane, but otherwise the traffic flowed steadily all the way. The weather was moderate.  It was an easy drive home.

2. The Deke and I are comfortable with long stretches of silence when we travel. She often knits. I let my thoughts wander. I thought about how much I loved our visit to Eugene. I often think, on the one hand, that leaving Eugene was kind of dumb. We love our friends in Eugene. I loved being a part of St. Mary's Episcopal Church and my close friends at LCC.  It must be one of the most convenient cities anywhere -- we lived within a stone's toss of off the beaten path movies, great grocery stores, the library, church, tasty freshly brewed beer, a variety of foods available at multiple eateries, fantastic coffee shops, and more. Nonetheless, we wanted something else, something different and our moves to Maryland and now to Kellogg have certainly been that. We've learned that there's a deep satisfaction in changing things up for the sake of family. We loved being closer to Adrienne and Molly when we lived back east and we have a great time living so close to my sisters and I relish being back with lifelong friends here in Kellogg. Wherever I live, I miss things about the places I don't live. I don't long to be back to those places, but Kellogg isn't Greenbelt, Maryland and Greenbelt wasn't Eugene and Eugene was never Spokane and Spokane was never Coeur d'Alene and Coeur d'Alene was never Kellogg. I've loved every city and town I've lived in. It makes me very happy that the Deke and I have decided to return to Eugene as often as we reasonably can and try to stay in close touch with our friends and not let our favorite spots and social centers like Billy Mac's and 16 Tons and Cornucopia and Bier Stein and High Street ever get too far away.  I thought these long thoughts on those long stretches of freeway out on the Columbia Gorge, along the edge of the Palouse from the Tri-Cities to Ritzville, and on I-90 as we approached the black bark Ponderosa pines near Cheney.

3. While we were making our way to Kellogg, the Deke got a text message from our next door neighbor Jane wondering if we'd like cabbage borscht with salad, multi-grain bread, and strawberry pie. It was a life saving offer. We arrived home, Jane brought over the dinner, and we heated up the soup and greedily dove into this most delicious meal and within an hour, around eight o'clock, collapsed into bed, worn out after our nine hours of travel.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/18: Brunch, Visiting Chris and Melissa, Beer and Filet Mignon

1. For the first several hours of the day, we ate and rested and napped. Francoise prepared a spectacular Father's Day brunch of eggs, smoked salmon, bacon, mimosas, sweet rolls, watermelon, fruit salad, and other delicious items and we enjoyed the food and some great conversation about current events in the USA and the world -- and talked some history, too. 

2. Late in the afternoon, the Deke and I drove out to south Eugene and visited Melissa, Chris, Helena, and Vivian. Chris fixed us each a perfectly mixed Richmond Gimlet and we had a splendid time together talking about a wide range of things, enjoying the sparkling intelligence of the children, and planning for when we'll see each other again.

3. The Deke and I stopped at Market of Choice to pick up gifts and to further build the supply of 22 oz. bottles of beer we are taking back to Kellogg for future round table sessions in the kitchen and elsewhere. I was especially happy to find bottles of Pelican Brewing's Five Fin pilsner because each purchase of the beer benefits the Salmon Superhighway project and my lifelong friend from Kellogg, Wednesday night host, Saturday lunch mate, and conservation and fishing enthusiast, Terry Turner, named the beer! 

When the Deke and I walked into the Bier Stein the place was packed with a line at the counter almost going out the door, but we spotted openings at the horseshoe bar, our favorite place to sit, and grabbed a couple of seats and enjoyed a couple of 4.5 ounce pours of IPAs, first from Crux in Bend and then from Everybody's in White Salmon. The beer was delicious and the spacious confines of the Bier Stein vibrated with good cheer. We entered the joint knowing we were in for a quick visit, but it would have been easy to have another short pour or two more keep taking in all the sight and sounds of people enjoying themselves so much.

We returned to Herb and Francoise's house for a filet mignon dinner that was so delicious it nearly brought tears to my eyes. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/18: Coffee, Reunion with Roger and Terry, Charlemagne Reunion

1. Before I headed up to Salem to meet Terry and Roger for lunch at the Ram, the Deke and I got together for coffee at Vero with Walker and Ingrid and enjoyed yakkin' about teaching, playing music, travel, and the wacky world of roadside attractions in the USA.

2. Terry, Roger, and I have a long history together. Not only were we high school graduates together and high school basketball teammates, but we became Oregon friends, as well. Terry and Roger were already Oregon residents when I moved to Eugene in 1979, and we joined forces countless times to watch the Ducks play football at Autzen Stadium and watch major sporting events like the Super Bowl or NCAA basketball tournament games on television. As time moved along, and our family and work responsibilities increased, we no longer indulged in boozy Autzen Stadium blowouts and we saw each other less often. So, once I knew I was coming to Oregon this weekend, I immediately contacted Terry and Roger and we were all free to have lunch.

We had a lot to talk about and enjoyed a couple hours of swapping memories of everything from U of O football games to our days at the YMCA, talking about the loss of our parents, and getting caught up on things currently happening in our lives. I am hopeful that the Deke and I will return to Eugene before the end of the calendar year and that Roger, Terry, and I can get together again.

3. Back in Eugene, I picked up the Deke at Laura's where she'd spent the afternoon with Laura and TR and we joined a lively barbecue dinner at Francoise and Herb's house. Francoise wanted to get the Deke back together with Martha, her former principal, and Suzy, a 4J French teacher. One of the Deke's first Charlemagne students, Joey, came to the party. It was a vibrant party with a lot of serious conversation about all sorts of things and many stories about the life at the school and in the 4J district. At one point during the party, Patrick called the Deke to say he was in Eugene and so she invited him over and it was a great surprise to see him this weekend and he seemed to very much enjoy being a part of the festivities.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/18: Visiting Rita, Visiting Sparky, My LCC Life Passes Before My Eyes

1. I dropped the Deke off at Vero and zoomed on down to Creswell to see Rita Hennessy. Rita and I were team teachers for several years in a double class that combined philosophy and composition. I walked in Rita's house and immediately she handed me books, two by Ivan Doig and a slim volume entitled The Lost Gospel Q: The Original Sayings of Jesus. We took these books to the Creswell Bakery to look at over our coffee and breakfast. We talked about everything, it seems: churches in 2018, knee replacement surgery, the joys of teaching philosophy; we told stories about students we remembered and delighted in all the ideas and ways of seeing the world that we got to work with and open up to our students. I told Rita about the joys of living in Kellogg and why, at the same time that I love being there, I will always miss living in the beehive of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Before we knew it, nearly two hours had passed and I needed to go and we said our farewells and brought our most delightful and stimulating visit to an end.

2. I meandered back to Eugene via Harvey Road, Highway 99, and Dillard Road and then wound my way over to Willamette Street and headed to Sparky Roberts' house. Sparky and I began working on various theater projects back in 1992. We started what became the Shakespeare Showcase back then; we worked together on programs of skits and sketches given at both LCC and to community organizations; I was in four Shakespeare productions that Sparky directed at LCC. We worked together on a course called Dramatizing Literature. I took acting and improv classes from Sparky.

Walking into Sparky's house means walking into the home of many of my best memories of living in Eugene. In Sparky's upstairs studio, I rehearsed countless scenes and took part in several cast readings and cast parties. As we made our way to Sparky's kitchen and dining area, I could see and hear the ghosts of scores of fellow cast members standing in hallways, lounging on Sparky's furniture, playing the piano, doing spur of the moment improvs, laughing, drinking, eating, telling stories, filling Sparky's house with mirth and hearty comradery.

Sparky fixed us each a cup of tea and suddenly it was as if fresh spring air filled the room as we talked about Shakespeare, about the layers of King Lear, how Shakespeare brought to life on the stage everything we see in the world of government and politics today or at any point in our lives, and the great times we had working on shows. Sparky told me about the show she is currently playing in downtown and we talked a bit about mutual friends.

Alas, much too soon, it was time for me to leave. Don and Cliff had both texted me that they were at the 16 Tons near Market of Choice and, having figured out via Facebook that I was in town, could I join them for a beer. I did and suddenly we were reliving the days when I lived in Eugene before and met Cliff and Don and Dick and Jeff and others for beers at the downtown 16 Tons on Thursday afternoons.

3. Michael McDonald emailed me several weeks ago that he and Lynn Tullis had decided to retire. In collaboration with Pam Dane, they decided to have a party at Pam and Michael's house on June 15th and call it a reunion party for current and retired members of what I knew to be the LCC English Department (whatever it's called today). Upon receiving this news, I immediately started working out details with the Deke as to how we would travel to Eugene and attend this party.

The party happened tonight and it was epic, one of the most joyful occasions I've ever been to. I can't begin to list all the people who came to this party -- but I will say that I saw the whole span of my years teaching at LCC from 1989 to 2014 pass before my eyes.  It was stunning and moving to see three people who were on the faculty when I started at LCC: Jerome Garger, Susan Glassow, and Ted Berg, all of whom were generous to me as a whippersnapper and took great interest in helping me feel welcome at LCC. Jerome and I became and have remained the best of friends and even lived together for a short period of time.

The Danes' back yard buzzed with vitality. I got to talk with so many of the people I taught with for so many years and reflect upon the years we taught, the things we did and about how it is to be growing older, losing our parents, experiencing the inevitable slowing down that comes with aging, how we are shaping our lives without our teaching jobs to shape much of it for us. I loved having conversations about Glenn Gould, poetry, movies, and photography. Merry Caston had read each of my daily posts last summer that I wrote about Mom's last weeks and days and told me how much she appreciated reading them and David Rothergery told me he'd just found a copy of one of my Copia lectures and that it had moved him.

I didn't want to leave.

I didn't want this party to end.

I didn't want this day to end.

In a span of about nine hours today I had been with the people I loved the most over a thirty-five year period of my life living in Eugene. My friendships with Margaret, Michael, Jeff, and Pam predate our work at LCC because we were at the University of Oregon together in the 1980s.  Carol Watt was at this party. We were classmates in the first graduate school course I took at the U of O in 1979.  As a one year interim department chair, I was commissioned with the privilege of hiring six new faculty into our department. Five of them were at this party: Michael, Pam, Lynn, Jennifer, and Anne. These five became the core of future hiring committees and the entire complexion of our department evolved into the best workplace populated by the very best instructors I could ever imagine working with.

The best years at LCC growing out of the 1998 hirings were joyful, stimulating, invigorating, innovative, and deeply gratifying and satisfying. I often think back in awe that I got to teach Working Class Literature with Margaret Bayless for several years, worked out teaching World Literature in conjunction with Lynn Tullis, talked about movies and books and teaching and all kinds of spiritual things with Dan Armstrong, dove into Shakespeare and much else with Michael McDonald, daily experienced having my awareness expanded because of the work going on in our department with women's studies, ethnic literatures, innovative ways of teaching writing, and challenging readings that we all were assigning our students.

These halcyon days for me at LCC must be seen in relation to the days that immediately preceded them. Much of what I learned about innovation in the classroom, about the beauty of interdisciplinary instruction, and the ways improvisational theater could enlarge my abilities as an instructor happened in my early years at LCC working with Rita Hennessy and Sparky Roberts. I thought a lot today about how much more elastic my mind and my perspectives became because I worked with Rita and Sparky. Each of them had humane and compassionate ways of drawing students out, tapping into students' strengths and helping build confidence in those they worked with, and each of them turned assumptions and ideas about teaching upside down and I was much the better for it.

I am so happy I showed up in Eugene today, that I spent such a spirited few hours with Rita and Sparky and that Don and Cliff reached out to invite me to join them for a beer and that I attended the LCC party. I know over the next few days I'm going to long to be back in the company of these dear friends and wish that I could count on doing what I used to do: take photo walks with Russell; eat dinner on Thursdays at Billy Mac's with Lynn, Anne, Russell, Pam, Michael, Kathleen, and the others;  drink coffee with Michael, Jeff, Margaret, and Nate; work out Showcases with Sparky; talk about the Grateful Dead, Zero, Nine Days Wonder, and Bob Dylan with Jeff; and eat more excellent breakfasts with Rita in Creswell or Coburg or go together to see Jane King or visit her good friend in Salem.

Instead, I'll go back to Kellogg, happy that I saw all these people I love today and tonight and happy that I was able to share my enthusiasm for the life the Deke and I have carved out back in my hometown.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/14/18: Breakfast with the Turners, Back to 16 Tons, Dinner with the Troxstar and Marla

1.  I started the morning at the Turners' house in a perfectly leisurely way:  drinking coffee, watching the early coverage of the US Open men's golf tournament, doing some serious yakking, and getting cleaned up. After a while, Terry, Nancy, the Deke, and I piled into the Turner's Sube and blasted up to the Milwaukie Cafe and Bottle Shop for some breakfast. This cafe was a real throwback place to me. It reminded me of the early days at Eugene's Fifth Street Market before it was gentrified in the 1980s and it reminded me of some of the creative cafes that opened up in downtown Spokane around the time of Expo 74. It features hardwood floors, light blue walls with an artist's pop art tastefully displayed, and small tables. 

I ordered something I've never eaten at a restaurant before, never seen at a restaurant before, and it was one of the most delicious bowls of food I've ever eaten. Imagine a white medium-sized cereal or soup bowl with layers of food. The bottom layer was creamy Bob's Red Mill polenta with dots of hot sauce. Next were generous and juicy strips of smoked brisket and the bowl was topped off with collard greens. Every bite of this polenta bowl tasted unique as each bite of the layers was its own combination of creamy, smoky, and earthy -- not to mention, subtle notes of heat. I couldn't eat this breakfast bowl slowly enough. My next challenge? See if I can figure out how to make a decent polenta bowl at home.

2. After breakfast and our grateful good-byes, the Deke and I piled into our Sube and flew down I-5 to Eugene, where it all began for the two of us. We drove immediately to Francoise and Herb's house in north Eugene where we'll stay the next three nights. Francoise greeted us enthusiastically, Herb emerged, and we launched into a couple of hours of great catching up and reminiscing. While we yakked, Miles arrived. So did Bryce later on. Both boys were students of the Deke back in the Charlemagne days and now Miles is a student at the University of Miami and Bryce is in International High School.

We left Francoise and Herb's and coasted into Eugene, drove a few blocks up Jefferson and took a right on Broadway and a left on Madison to look at the house we once lived in, mostly to check out how the plants we had put in the front yard back in 2010 were doing after eight years. It was fun to see how beautifully they have matured. I also drove up the alley that runs south of the house to see if the roses I planted years ago were still there and they, too, have matured into gorgeous bushes.

Then we went to our favorite spot in Eugene: 16 Tons Beer and Wine. When the Deke had been in Eugene back in February, she'd spent some great time at 16 Tons and today's tapster, Chuck, lit up when she walked in the door, hugged her, and the Deke introduced us. Another tapster, Nolan, was in the house and he and the Deke exchanged smiles and hellos. The Deke and I settled ourselves at a table and marveled at the taplist and perused the shelves of great cans and bottles of beer. I was very happy to see that 4 oz pours were available, and I tried three different hazy IPAs, two of them brewed by Eugene's own Oakshire Brewing.  Then I switched to sour beers and the highlight of my session at 16 Tons was drinking 5 ounces of Russian River's Consecration, a beer I absolutely love and hadn't tasted since I last lived in Eugene. I never saw Consecration on tap in Maryland or New York and I've never seen it in CdA or Kellogg.

3.  In the year or two before we left Eugene, we began running into Jay and Sherri at 16 Tons and at the Bier Stein. The Deke had worked with Sherri's kids many years ago when she led a children's choir at Temple Beth Israel. Jay, Sherri, the Deke, and I hit it off, had some great times together, and now we always try to catch up with them when we're in Eugene. As a bonus to seeing Jay and Sherri, I also got to have a great talk with Tim Shaner. Tim and I taught at the same time at LCC (he still does) and we used to run into each other regularly at the Bier Stein and had great conversations about books, movies, teaching English, and other stuff. Well, today we picked right up on those topics again and our conversation drifted toward the movie "Lost in Translation" which got us talking about our shared admiration for Bill Murray and, in particular, the movies of Wes Anderson. I realized it had been years since I had a conversation like this and I got pretty animated -- I hope I wasn't shouting -- and left 16 Tons happy to have been drinking small pours of magnificent beer and to have resumed conversation with Tim.

If I was enjoying Tim and Sherri and Tim and the Deke so much, why did I leave 16 Tons?

The Troxstar and Marla were across the street at High St., that's why!

We'd arranged to have dinner together, enjoy some Hammerhead Pale Ale, and get in some serious yakkin', story telling, and high level smart aleckery.

The three of us had a great time talking about our families, different things we've been doing, life at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and life for the Deke and me in Kellogg.  After about an hour, the Deke waltzed in to join us and her presence further invigorated our conversation. The Troxstar and I made plans to get together after the party I'm going to late Friday afternoon, hoping to resume our enjoyment of roaming the streets of the Whitetaker neighborhood and quaffing a beer or two.

Needless to say, our visit to Eugene is off to a roaring and exhilarating start with much more fun and great reunions with great friends ahead!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/18: Leaving Kellogg, Familiar Drive, Arriving at the Turners

1.  The Deke and I sprang out of bed this morning and with cool efficiency got our things together and were ready to hit the road for Portland at 8:00.  Shawn will be working on buttoning up the remodeling project while we're away, including sanding and varnishing our bedroom floor and I helped him haul our bed out into the living room. He listed for us the things he has to finish up -- some paint here, some caulk there, clean up this, get that in order -- and everything should be done when we return.

2. It's such a familiar route for the Deke and me, the long stretches of I-90, Highway 395, I-82, I-84, on on down I-205. It had been long enough since I made this drive that I marveled anew at the fertile undulations through the Palouse and at the majesty of the Columbia River and the hillsides on the Washington side of the river that I've always thought looked like sleeping elephants. Coming into the forest land after Hood River -- and having the wind settle down -- gave me an old feeling of comfort, reminded me of how I fell in love with Oregon when I first moved to Eugene nearly forty years ago.

When we left I-84, we merged onto the standstill traffic of I-205 as rush hour was getting underway. I know I am obligated as a native of Kellogg, Idaho to hate this thick traffic, but for some unknown reason, I didn't hate it on the Beltway in D.C. and I didn't hate it today. People today were patient, orderly, and well-behaved on I-205 and we inched along just fine and I occupied my mind with thoughts about city life and urban energy and how I love Kellogg and simultaneously really miss D. C., and I also reminded myself that as a retiree, I could afford to develop a positive outlook on traffic congestion because I've never had to deal with it every day and I was never under much pressure to be anywhere at a certain time.

3. The Deke and I piled into Terry and Nancy Turner's home in Gladstone and started right in having a great time. Terry named the Five Fin Pilsner beer for Pelican Brewing and had several bottles on hand and we all dove into the light, citrusy and slightly spicy goodness of the Five Fin. Terry had begun preparing an awesome moussaka for dinner. We relished it along with beets and a fresh salad and fun flavored vinegars to try on it. Nancy and the Deke toured Nancy's craft room and the Deke got to see Nancy's latest project on her loom.

After dinner, we relaxed over sips of Burnside Bourbon and a single malt Irish whiskey and great conversation, all of which got me settled down and ready for bed after a many miles of driving and a fun reunion with lifelong friends.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/18: Closet Progress, The Presidency, More Cleaning Up

1. Our new eight feet wide closet isn't a walk-in or anything. Shawn simply turned two small closets in two different room that were almost back to back into a single closet. Today, he finished putting the doors on -- maybe they are called bi-fold doors -- and now all that remains is cleaning up the mess of dried mud one of the guys who is no longer working for Shawn left on the floor.  We've been storing our clothes in the basement ever since we moved into Mom's house and next week, when we return from Oregon, we'll be able to hang and store our clothes in the same room we sleep in.

2. As a day to day journalist, Elizabeth Drew strikes me as also being an important voice in the study of  the Office of the Presidency, regardless of who occupies the office. Her primary concern, which reflects her understanding of the Constitution, I'd say, is that the Executive Branch be constrained in its powers. Richard Nixon -- and in this he's not unique -- sought to expand the power of the Presidency. This became especially true as he felt the pressure of his administration being investigated and worked to claim broader and broader definitions of concepts like national security and executive privilege.

Elizabeth Drew sees the Congress having oversight of the Executive Branch as a vital responsibility, a responsibility that gets both compromised and corrupted by partisanship. I've been fascinated to read Washington Journal while also reading Elizabeth Drew's contemporary reflections upon the presidency of Donald J. Trump. She's concerned about the Office of the Presidency growing stronger, with claims to increased powers, under President Trump and wonders who will hold President Trump accountable since the Congress is behaving timidly, acting as if it is a subordinate branch of government rather than an equal branch, Constitutionally charged with oversight of the Executive Branch. Elizabeth Drew develops these concerns in a recent editorial and you can find it here

3. Pruned branches filled the back of Everett's pick up and I figured if I just put them in a couple of trash containers in would free up space to take more stuff to the dump. I gathered up more cardboard, bags of garbage that wouldn't fit in our full garbage cans, wood scraps from the remodel, and a few other odds and ends and loaded them up and made a trip to the transfer station. Nicholl is starting to roll her eyes when she sees me driving up, wondering why she bothers to check on my load since it's always appropriate stuff and since I know where to take things. But, she does her duty, we have a good laugh, and Christy and Everett as well as the Deke and I are once again free of the stuff that accumulates during a remodeling project, while doing yard work, and generally cleaning up. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/18: Medical Maintenance, Reading Non-Fiction as Fiction, Birthday Celebration

1. Soon after the clinic uptown opened, I called to see if I could get in for a quick appointment with my primary care provider, Linda Jo Yawn. I wanted to talk with her about ordering me a new prescription and about an order for a PPD skin test for tuberculosis -- I am required to have this skin test performed annually as a part of maintaining my medical record as a person on the kidney transplant list at the U of Maryland. It all went well. I will have the skin test done next week when we return from our trip to Oregon. I would have had it done today, but I have to return after 48 hours to have it read and we are leaving on Wednesday.

2. I got in a lot of reading today. Before going to the clinic, I had a half Americano/half steamed whole milk at the Bean. The coffee house was abuzz with people coming in and out and I heard stories by a boss about guys not showing up for work, a guy's motorcycle trip from Kellogg to somewhere deep in Montana and back, and reports of people who had encountered snow over the weekend while out in the mountains.

As I dive deeper into Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal, an impression I've had for years about Richard Nixon returns and Drew's reporting deepens it.  It's nothing new. Elizabeth Drew's book portrays Nixon as intelligent, a fighter, a man of great resilience, and a politician with keen instincts and a ton of savvy. He could also be very sentimental, especially when it comes to family and patriotism. But his inward demons sabotage his strengths. His bitterness. His resentments. His thirst for revenge. His dark insecurities. His paranoia. His demands for loyalty. His largely friendless and too often solitary life.

When we read or go to a play or when we read fiction, those portrayed are called characters because the story brings their inward life, what we call their character, to life. The invisible traits of character become the character we experience developing in the story. So, I tend to read Elizabeth Drew's non-fiction account of Nixon's last ten or eleven months as president the same way as I read fiction. Plot is character. A person's character shapes his or her story. It's painful to read the details of Nixon's presidency unraveling because it is so closely paralleled by the unraveling of his inward life. I take no pleasure in bearing witness to anyone's self-destruction. Having the collective pain of witnessing something like the downfall of Richard Nixon washed away or cleansed by the story's inevitable conclusion, a conclusion of defeat, is known as catharsis. I'm at that point in this story of Richard Nixon where the collective desire in the government and the public for it all to end is palpable. As the spring turned into summer in 1974, the people of the USA yearned for catharsis. It's coming.

3. Shawn's birthday was Sunday and so Christy, Everett, the Deke, Teresa, and Shawn had a celebratory round table at the end of the work day. I bought bombers of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Scuttlebutt's Hoptopia Imperial Ale, and Elysian's Split Shot and Christy brought over a bottle of Prairie Organic Gin. She also brought smoked salmon, crackers, cream cheese, and pickled asparagus. We drank small samples of the beer and gin. Gin and tonic was also available. We talked about all sorts of things -- the remodeling project, international trade, Canada's scenic beauty, and the songs of Ian Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot. It was a fun way to bring the work day to an end and to send Shawn off into his next year of work and travel and good times.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/18: Cleaning Up, Nixon Sows Confusion, Family Dinner

1.  I like to get waste left over from the remodel project off ours and Christy and Everett's premises as soon as possible and I like to keep our garbage cans half or a quarter full up until they are collected, when I'm fine with them being full. So, today, I gathered up cardboard, leftover trim, a bag of empty beverage cans, a can of grass clippings, and a few bags of garbage from both our place and Christy and Everett's, loaded up the Sube, and made a trip to the recycle center up the street and then out to the transfer station. I got back home and felt a palpable sense of relief and satisfaction that this stuff was gone and that things looked a little better around our houses.

2. Emma, a new ukulele friend of the Deke's, came over to the house so they could strum and sing together and I grabbed Elizabeth Drew's book Washington Journal and headed to what I like to call the Hill St. Depot reading room. My hope was that the Hill St. Depot would be kind of quiet on a Sunday afternoon, that I could settle in at a table by myself, order a beverage, and continue to study Richard Nixon's efforts to sow confusion in his staff, the Congress, the courts, and the electorate in his efforts to subvert and throw into chaos the traditional processes of oversight, investigation, and governing in our three branch system.

I am understanding better than I ever have that these processes are intended to put constraints on power and that Richard Nixon, who on the outside seemed a very patriotic and country loving man, despised these constraints, and, in turn, despised the traditional means by which the government he headed worked (or, for him, didn't work). As the possibility of losing his office became more likely, he intensified his attacks and subversions on the institutions of the USA's government: the courts, the Justice Department, the Special Prosecutor, Congressional investigative committees, and the law of the land itself. Elizabeth Drew wrote the dispatches in this book as the events occurred and brilliantly captures the confusion and crisis and sense of fatigue Richard Nixon's fight for survival engendered in the government, in reporters, and, for those paying close attention, in the electorate.  And, right now, I have only read as far as November, 1973. There's much more wearying and exhausting confusion and fighting for survival to come.

3. The Deke prepared a great family dinner tonight. She served us each an avocado halved, the cavity filled with cottage cheese and topped with finely sliced fermented radishes. For our main course, she prepared roasted Brussel sprouts seasoned with balsamic vinegar and bacon and fried Kiolbassa beef sausages. For our pre-dinner cocktail, the Deke juiced lemons and made a stevia-based simple syrup which she combined with whiskey to make whiskey sours. We got caught up on Carol's plans for the early summer as she prepares to retire from the State of Idaho, but not from working; we also began to get a better idea of what Christy's needs will most likely be when she has and recovers from knee replacement surgery in two weeks.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/18: End in Sight, The Droll Elizabeth Drew, RIP Anthony Bourdain

1. Shawn lost some time on this project when the two guys who worked for him quit or were fired. To make up for that lost time, Shawn has been working on Saturdays and, along with Teresa, worked at both our house and at Christy's. They put up trim and touched up paint. Shawn continued to work on details in the bathroom and on our new closet. Shawn, the Deke, Paul, and I worked together to move Christy's freshly shampooed furniture into her house from the garage. I would say at both of our houses we are seeing an end in sight.

2. Maybe my sense of humor has improved since I was in my late twenties and early thirties when I first started reading Elizabeth Drew. I don't remember finding her as witty, as sardonic, as droll, as subtly funny when I used to read her as I do now. She has a keen sense of irony, of political and bureaucratic absurdity. The book I'm reading is entitled Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's Downfall. Here's an example. See what you think. I laughed out loud when I read the following two sentences, written in her journal entry dated October 20, 1973: "It is a spectacularly beautiful day, warm and springlike. It's unfair to have to give it up for a Constitutional crisis."

3. After the Deke and I shared a rib eye steak at home for dinner, visited Cas up at the Inland Lounge for a while, and after I spent some time visiting with Christy and Everett and the Deke, I came home and watched two Anthony Bourdain episodes. The first was on Netflix from his series Parts Unknown and featured Bourdain's tour of the food, culture, and political uncertainty of Myanmar and then, on YouTube, I watched an episode from A Cook's Tour. In it, Bourdain dove into the variety and vigor of eating the superb cuisine of Tokyo.  (You can watch it, here.)

It has disappointed me to read his death referred to as a "celebrity death". Anthony Bourdain vigorously transcended celebrity status. He was much more a cultural guide and educator and a television artist than a celebrity. His work on television intelligently transported viewers into the copious wonders of the food, cultural traditions, history, and political realities of places around the world. In every country and city he visited, he arrived not as a celebrity, but as a man eager to learn about and experience that place and to help his viewers see all that is strange and different outside) the USA as a source of wonder and goodness.

I am told that in the early days of television, idealists envisioned television as a medium that could enhance all of our lives by bringing the depth and beauty of the arts and other sources of sublimity into our homes. For the most part, that didn't pan out, but Anthony Bourdain seized upon the ways a television show could deepen its viewers humanity by educating us in the many different ways people around the world live, tell stories, participate in their religions and rituals, experience their governments, and, above all, cook and eat in their homes, on the streets, and in cafes and restaurants. His work inspired other similar shows, making it possible for us to better know the world we live in and to enjoy and admire the ingenuity, industry, devoutness, and goodness of people worldwide. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/18: Pickup Truck and a Rifle, Cleaning the Kitchen, Reminiscing at the Lounge

1.  To give himself more time to work on our closet and not be on the road, Shawn asked me to drive his big honkin' GMC something or other white pickup to Wallace to Building Maintenance/Ace Hardware and bring back some supplies he needed. I almost needed a step ladder or a stool to get in the driver's seat. Every second I drove this truck I feared that I would misgauge its width and scrape something or take up more than my lane on the freeway. I also prayed that when I got to the lumber yard that I wouldn't have to drive in reverse. Over the last fourteen years with the Sube, every injury I've inflicted upon our car has been when I was driving backward.

It all worked out, though. Yes, the guy at the lumber yard didn't load up two of the pieces of trim Shawn needed so I got to go back to Wallace and feel the power of driving his behemoth one more time, but I enjoyed going to Ace/Building Maintenance in Wallace. The people who helped me were friendly, helpful with a capital H, and fun to shoot the breeze with. I admit, I was a tiny bit rattled when I walked to the contractors' sale counter at the back of Ace and one of the employees was holding a rifle. As he strolled down the main aisle with it, customers joked  about who he was going to shoot out back. But, I knew I was in the Silver Valley where gun safety and responsibility is a chief value and I immediately relaxed -- and, later, I noticed at the front of the Ace Hardware store that there was a display case of various firearms and that an employee carrying a rifle down the store's main aisle was perfectly legitimate, no doubt normal -- it was just an experience I had never had at the various Ace Hardware (or True Value) stores I've visited across the nation.

2. This afternoon, the Deke and I felt a sudden surge of cleaning motivation and swept into the kitchen where the Deke cleaned out the refrigerator, I cleaned out and reorganized the lazy Susan, we made decisions about relocating bowls and cookware, and I reorganized our spice shelves. Much of our house is in disarray right now, and will be for several more days, so it felt especially good to bring our kitchen into some kind of order.

3.  When Ed got off work this afternoon he called me and wondered if I might like to go up to the Lounge around six or so and have a couple drinks and yak it up. The Deke and I enjoyed a pork chop dinner together and then Ed and I met up at the Lounge where Jake, Carol Lee, DJ, Eileen, and Eddie Joe were all seated at the north end of the bar and so Ed and I joined in. We got caught up on how Jake and Carol Lee's work landscaping their lake place is going and Ed, DJ, and Jake got into a great discussion about cafes and bars in the Silver Valley and Rose Lake and Canyon that no longer exist: the Beacon, the Cedars, the Boat, the Miner's Hat, the Barrel, Three Toots, the Lumberjack, Duff's, and more and soon the reminiscing extended to Coeur d'Alene and the Topper and the Topper Two and the Paul Bunyan and the Rathskeller and other places. I hadn't been to the old places in Kingston or out in the Canyon, but I'd been to both the Lumberjack and Mr. Duff's (did I get that name right?). When our family went out, it was always to the Sunshine Inn and sometimes some food to go from the S & R, but on occasion we would journey out to Jim and Jane Cantrell's superb eatery in Rose Lake, the Lumberjack.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/18: Visiting the Kidney Doctor, Stout Tasting, Silver Valley Farmers Market

1. I hadn't seen Dr. Kristie Jones, Nephrologist, since January and because I had read my blood work report before I walked in her examination room, I was as certain as I could be as to what she'd say. My kidney function has stayed at about 17% over the last few months and my other numbers are good. In other words, I continue to live with weak kidneys, but things are staying stable. My next task is to join the transplant list at the Sacred Heart Transplant Center in Spokane and Dr. Jones initiated the paperwork today to get that process started.

2.  Shawn is going to knock off in the early afternoon on Friday, so after my appointment and chest x-ray at Kootenai Health, we stopped in at Pilgrim's Market and were thrilled to see they had bottles of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout (KBS) from Founders Brewing. Shawn and his wife, Teresa, are both Michiganders and Founders is brewed in Grand Rapids, so we decided to buy a couple bottles along with a bomber of Iron Goat's Goatmeal Stout brewed in Spokane. We relished the Founders KBS. All of its complex flavors are ones I love: dark chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla, molasses, a bit of oak, and the sweetness of bourbon. Weighing in at at 12.3% ABV, KBS is capable of throwing some lethal haymakers, so it was good that we were splitting the two 12 ounce bottles four ways. Shawn and I both poured some Basil Hayden's bourbon on top of our last little bit of KSB and we both loved the way the stout and the bourbon blended.

I also enjoyed the Goatmeal Stout, but I'll write more about it another time when my thoughts are not quite so dominated by epicurean wonders of KBS.

3.  On their posters, it's called the Silver Valley Farmers Market -- no apostrophe, making the word "farmers" an adjective telling what type of market it is.

On their Facebook page, it's called the Silver Valley Farmers' Market -- the apostrophe says that multiple farmers own the market.

I'm going with the first option. I don't think any farmers own this market, but many of us have become familiar with the type of market called a farmers market.

So, the Deke and I went to the opening of the Silver Valley Farmers Market this afternoon. We saw a bunch of people we know -- Paige, Liz, Becky, Fred, Val, Ashley, Erin, Patti, Rod, Rick, Shawn, Teresa, Mitch, and more. We took a quick stroll along the bike path and glanced at booths, but ended up spending most of our time in the beer garden where we did most of our socializing. The Deke reconnected with Emma and they talked ukuleles. A lot of excitement buzzed throughout the Farmers Market. Not only was there a terrific crowd, it was a happy crowd, and I kept hearing people say, "Can you believe how great this is?" I look forward to returning every Thursday that we are in town.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/18: Making Things Right, Plumbing Day, *Washington Journal*

1. I suddenly realized that it was possible that when I closed Mom's estate checking account that possibly the check I had written against the account to our attorney hadn't cleared. The statement came today and, sure enough, that was the case. I buzzed up to the attorney's office and found out that, indeed, that check had very recently been returned. I then asked if he had arrived an amount for what we owed for the final filing, I found out, and I wrote a new, and solvent(!) check that covered everything and brought my business, as the now former executor of Mom's estate, with the attorney to an end. All that remained was to divide the funds that remained from Mom's estate between my sisters and me and I wrote them each a check this evening.

2. Today was a major day in the life of our remodeling project. The plumber, with some help from Shawn, removed our leaky water heater, installed a new one, and set our toilet and sink in the main floor bathroom.  Once Shawn gets the trim in, touches up the paint a bit, puts up a grab bar, and improves some of the grouting in the shower, I do believe we will have a finished remodeled bathroom.  We are very fortunate that we have a bathroom in the basement to use while this work has been going on.

3.  I am now tackling one more book about the presidency of Richard Nixon. It's Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Nixon's Downfall.  Elizabeth Drew wrote regular dispatches, written as diary entries, for The New Yorker starting in the fall of 1973 and these pieces are collected in this book.  Elizabeth Drew has been one of my favorite writers for about thirty-five years and early on, in this book, she's doing what I admire her so much for: she's a tireless reporter with access to multiple sources of information and she is an astute political philosopher, particularly when it comes to the nature and the history of the U. S. Constitution and how the Constitution's principles were challenged and threatened by the abuses of power of the Nixon administration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/05/18: Keeping the Place Uncluttered, Nixon Resigns, Getting Close

1. Two cans of yard waste.  A couple long fluorescent light tubes. Three cans of construction remains. An old rug Christy and Everett tossed. Black plastic bags of refuse from them as well. I piled it all in the back of Everett's pickup and headed up to the dump. Nicholl gave me the old,"You know where everything goes, right?" which, translated, means, "You've sure been up here a lot lately". I assured her I did and I was happy to once again not let stuff pile up around the house and yard. In fact, I enjoyed this trip so much, that I also made two trips in the Sube to the cardboard recycling station up by the Shoshone Medical Center, again, keeping boxes that once held a tower fan, a bathroom sink, bathroom lights, and orders from Amazon from taking up a bunch of room in our garbage can or cluttering up the yard  or garage with cardboard.

2. Aside from fertilizing the daylilies I transplanted yesterday, I took a day off from yard work and finished the book, Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years by J. Anthony Lukas. I had forgotten that in 1974, elected representatives of both parties, were capable of feeling shock that their president had lied to them. It's hard to imagine such a thing happening again, but Nixon's fate was sealed when several fiercely loyal and fiercely partisan Republicans, like Rep. Charles Wiggins, who had forcefully defended Richard Nixon, listened to passages on the White House tapes in which Nixon helps plan efforts to cover up White House involvement in Watergate and talks about using federal officials to deflect the investigation and realized Richard Nixon had lied to them. They expressed shock. They expressed feeling betrayed. They withdrew their support.  Their fierce partisanship and loyalty melted away. Richard Nixon was finished.

3. The time is drawing near when we will have a functioning bathroom on the main floor of our house again. The showers went in today. The first coat of paint is on the walls. Soon the toilet will be set and so will the bathroom sink. Soon we'll also have hot water. Right now our hot water tank is draining, but, if all goes well, will be replaced on Wednesday. Things are coming together at our house and at Christy and Everett's and it's all looking good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/04/18: Transplanting Daylilies, Fish Fertilizer Memories, Plumbing Day Coming

1.  In the aftermath of Sunday night's thunderstorm and downpour, the temperatures in the Silver Valley were very cool and the skies had clouds all day long with intermittent periods of sunshine. I seized upon this cool weather to do a little more gardening.

At Sunday's family dinner, I asked about the daylilies on the west side of the house, between ours and Jane's places. I hadn't thought much about them, but the Deke suggested that maybe we'd like to move some of them to a place (or places) where they would be seen more easily. I learned that these daylilies have been in this location since before Mom and Dad bought the house fifty-five years ago.

Today I cleared the grass and weeds out from a spot under the living room's picture window and dug up a few of the daylilies and transplanted them, hoping they survive the shock of being uprooted from their longtime home, hoping that they will add some variety and a lasting pop of yellow to the front of our house.

2.  Back in 1995 when I got really gung ho about planting flowers at my house in Eugene, I was very happy with the way Alaska Fish Fertilizer worked, so on Sunday I bought a jug of it and today I applied it to the plants in the back of the yard, the containers on the deck, and to the plants in the raised bed. Those early days of growing flowers twenty-three years ago were very exciting and the smell of the fertilizer took me back to 1995 and made me wish I still had the vigor and stamina I had that spring and summer and on into the fall when I used to enjoy the heat and could get so much more done in single day than I do now.

3. Shawn confirmed that Wednesday will be plumbing day and our toilet and bathroom sink will be set and our leaky hot water tank will be replaced. We hadn't planned on a new hot water tank when this project began, but, wouldn't ya know it, after being in the house for twenty-one years, the tank has had it. Its timing was pretty good in that we can make this job a part of the other work going on around the house.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/03/18: Chicken in the Crock Pot, Mother Nature and I Water the Lawn, Family Dinner

1. The Deke has a chicken soup in mind she'd like to fix -- all I know is that it's simple and elegant in its simplicity, unlike the loaded chicken soups or stews I often prepare. All day the chicken cooking in crock pot filled the house with a tantalizing smell of onion, garlic powder, celery, and chicken. By around 7:30 or so, I took the meat off the bones and put the broth in a huge bowl. The ingredients are ready for the Deke to transform them into a tasty soup.

2. Around 4:00 or so, unsure if it would rain this evening, I watered the entire back yard and front yard by hand to work the fertilizer into the ground. Ethan told me the fertilizer should sit for at least twenty-four hours, so I waited and then worked it in. Then, around 7:30 or so, thunder clouds rolled in, kettle drums vibrated above, strobe lights flashed, and rain pummeled the Silver Valley. I took comfort in knowing that if I missed any spots in the lawn with my hand watering, this gully washer would more than make up for it.

3. Carol and Paul hosted family dinner tonight. Carol roasted a chicken and infused it with preserved lemons she had canned a few years ago, grilled chunks of romaine lettuce (I hope it didn't come from Yuma -- or is that scare over now?), grilled marinated green beans in foil packets, and made a KetoPerfect cauliflower mash. We ate outside at Carol and Paul's. The temperature had climbed into the 80s today, but by dinner time -- and with the aforementioned thunderstorm gathering -- the air cooled off and made eating on Carol and Paul's patio a pleasure and a bit of a relief.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/02/18: Perfect June Day, Birthday at the Snake Pit, Double Nightcap

1.  Today never got really hot. The skies were clear and the air was mild, a perfect day to do a little gardening. I did a little more cleaning out of the riverstone planters, dumped a bag of garden soil in each of them, and planted the daisies I bought on Friday at Pine Creek Nursery. Just after I had wrapped up this project, the lawn care crew swept in and with dizzying efficiency mowed, trimmed, and fertilized our front and back yards. Patrick and the Deke assembled our new deck table and chairs set. I enjoyed taking a seat in the late afternoon shade and surveying how the yard definitely still has Mary Idell West Woolum's characteristics, and is, at the same time, very slowly, becoming a place the Deke and I are shaping with our own ideas and sense of how we want things to look.

2. Patrick's birthday was a week ago. With him in town for the weekend, we decided to go out and celebrate it a week late. So our whole Kellogg family reserved a table at the Snake Pit. Patrick was very happy to be introduced to the place and we had a good time -- it's remarkable to me that my sisters and their husbands and the Deke and I see each other often, and, all the same, we get together for dinner and we have a ton of catching up to do. So our table was abuzz with end of the school year stories, talk about what's going on this summer, and other news and, if I'm not mistaken, we made plans for more things we need to discuss at family dinner on Sunday with calendars in hand.

3. Christy had a great idea as we were getting ready to leave the Snake Pit: she proposed that we have a nightcap at the Hill Street Depot. The assent was unanimous, so we all piled into our cars and rocketed back to Kellogg and took over the table in the Farrah Fawcett room in Hill Street Depot's far corner. The popular nightcap around the table was a Captain Morgan spiced rum version of the Moscow Mule, although Carol had a Bloody Mary and I tried what the Depot calls a Mama-rita, a mixture of tequila, triple sec, cabernet and lime. It's an unusual and intriguing drink and I enjoyed it.

I drank water and a Pepsi with my buffalo burger at the Snake Pit, so I'd only had the one cocktail as we were driving home. Suddenly, the Deke blurted out that maybe we should end our night at the Inland Lounge. I slammed on the brakes, executed a screeching U-turn on Bunker Avenue, and we hurtled uptown and walked in the nearly empty Inland Lounge.  Cas and the Deke engaged in intermittent verbal sparring and the matching of wits. Tracy listened in, amused, and simply shook her head. The Deke and Patrick spent a lot of time talking over any number of things. Cas and I, and later, Ron Delcamp, got all kinds of things straightened out about baseball, construction projects, and life in the Silver Valley -- and I got to hear some great stories about characters around town, both living and deceased. 

After thinking we'd capped off the evening in grand style at the Hill St. Depot, it turned out the grand fun we had there carried forward into the Inland Lounge and the Deke, Patrick, and I were fired up in the car as I drove us home, feeling fortunate that the Deke and I live here and that we had had such a good time in the town of Kellogg, not to mention Enaville, and got to include Patrick in our family fun and in the magic of the Snake Pit, Hill St. Depot, and the Inland Lounge.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/01/18: Kidney Function Stable, Daisies from Pine Creek, Party Time

1.  I nervously opened up the LabCorp portal online after receiving an email notification that my results from my Tuesday blood work were available for me to review. In March, my kidney function had dipped a bit and I was anxious about the possibility that it had dipped again. It didn't. My numbers hadn't changed significantly over the last three months and that's what the doctor and I always want to see. Now I look forward to talking with Dr. Kristi Jones on Thursday to see what she has to say.

2. Since I cleaned out the two riverstone round planters Dad built many years ago, I now wanted to buy flowers to plant in them and made a trip out to the Pine Creek Nursery. Unlike many nurseries I've been to which are huge, Pine Creek Nursery is modest sized with very friendly help and a splendid variety of vegetables and plants for sale. I bought Shasta Daisies and a variety of Brown-Eyed Susans and will plant them on Saturday.

3. Starting at four o'clock this afternoon, life in our family turned into a several hour party. It began around our kitchen table when Shawn, Teresa, the Deke, Patrick, Christy, Jane, and I celebrated the end of another week of remodeling work on Christy and Everett's and the Deke's and my houses. The early part of the week was trying for Shawn and Christy and Everett's house is especially disrupted right now, so we were all in the mood to relax, enjoy some drinks, tell stories, and be witty.

The drinks were superb: Christy contributed a bottle of the transcendent Uncle Val's Botanical Gin. I brought Shawn's favorite, Basil Hayden's Bourbon. I also contributed No-Li's Big and Juicy IPA and Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little Thing IPA. If we were hoping to put Shawn and Teresa's work week behind us, chill out, and enjoy one another's company, we sure succeeded.

About an hour after our round table party broke up, the Deke, Patrick, Christy, Everett, and I headed uptown. All of us, except the Deke, ate Chinese food at Wah Hing and then we all meandered next door to the Inland Lounge. The Deke was in deep conversation with DeAnne. I stopped right upon entering the Lounge and yukked it up with Eddie Joe and John Sevy; then I checked in with the Deke and made my way to the table Christy and Everett had landed. As the evening went on, I had a good session with Jake, Carol Lee, Doug, Eileen, Harley, and Candy. It was fun introducing Patrick to Friday night at the Lounge and being a part of a the good natured, company loving scene.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 05/31/18: Wielding the Pulaski, Pork Chop Dinner, Bushed

1. Cool air moved into the Silver Valley overnight. Gray clouds covered the sun. The conditions were perfect for me to grab the Pulaski and a couple or three waste cans and head back to the round planter built out of North Fork River rock that Dad built about twenty-five years ago and clear out the stubborn grasses, worn out tubers, and other stuff growing in them.

I dug, yanked, and cajoled enough unwanted growth out of the planters to fill two waste cans, but I divided the contents into four so that I could more easily lift them into Everett's pickup and dispose of the waste at the compost bin at the transfer station. As is often the case, Nicholl was working at the entry station. I rolled up. She strolled out.

"Hey. How ya doin'?"

"Oh -- it's been kinda slow this morning."

"Too bad. Must be kinda boring."

"Not really. I can read. Watch YouTube videos. I've just been on Gaia. You know what that is?


"Yoga videos and stuff. It's really good."

"Great! Hey, I've just got yard waste back there."

"Okay. You know where to go."

"I do." I smiled.  "And I've got no bags."

Nicholl laughed. "You're learnin', aren't ya?"

"Sure am.  Ha! Have a good one."

"So long."

2.  Christy and Everett returned home this afternoon after three nights at Elkin Resort. Their house is in temporary disarray because of rooms being painted and their bathroom being not quite finished. The Deke and I invited them over for dinner. We thawed out four pork chops -- this is meat from the load we picked up Wednesday at Double E Meats. I got out our cast iron Dutch oven, turned our hottest burner up as high as it will go, heated oil almost to smoking, and seared the chops, seasoned with garlic powder, oregano, and salt, for about three minutes on each side.

I put them on a plate, poured some of the oil off the Dutch oven into an empty tuna can, and cooked sliced onions until they began to carmelize. I returned the pork chops to the Dutch oven and covered them with pork stock I had made a while back and let the pork chops simmer in the liquid and onions until we were ready to eat. The Deke made a superb cabbage salad and steamed a head of cauliflower. Everyone enjoyed this dinner a lot and I was especially happy that our first dinner with our fresh pork tasted so good.

3. Patrick was going to be arriving around 10:15 or so for a weekend visit, but my day of being up at 5 a.m., wielding the Pulaski, hauling the yard waste into the pickup, going to the dump, cooking pork chops, and visiting with Christy and Everett left me bushed and I went to bed at around 9:00. I went to bed happy that we are making modest progress toward sprucing up the back yard a bit, making it look a little better, but not trying to work miracles. I just don't have it in me anymore to work any way but slow and steady.