Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/30/18: *Two Days in October*, *Chopped After Hours*, Revisiting *Hearts and Minds*

1. The temperature topped out at close to 100 degrees today in Kellogg, so the Deke and I spent much of the day inside, keeping the house closed up and the fans going. We stayed pretty comfortable. I retired to the television room and poked around the offerings available from PBS's American Experience series. I watched a riveting story called "Two Days in October". It documented the events of October 17 and 18, 1967. It juxtaposed the horrifying ambush suffered by US troops at the Battle of Ong Thanh and the forceful action taken by the Madison, WI police in order to clear out a building at the U. of Wisconsin being occupied in a sit-in by students protesting the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on campus. 

By moving back and forth between the terrible ambush the US soldiers suffered at Ong Thanh and the bloody force employed by the Madison police, the documentary provided a snapshot of, on the one hand,  the formidable challenges US forces faced fighting the Viet Cong, and, on the other hand, the growing tensions on the homefront as protests against the war increased and as more people across the country joined the protests after seeing the images of the Madison police clubbing and bloodying the students occupying the Commerce Building.

To me, the documentary's director, Robert Kenner, tied the two stories together by examining the lies that officials, higher ups, told about each event. To cover up the incompetence that led to the ambush, the Army brass both denied that an ambush had occurred and claimed victory at Ong Thanh; the police brass in Wisconsin portrayed the police officers as defending themselves against the aggression of the protesters, protesters who were sitting on the floor of the Commerce Building, packed in so tight they could hardly move. All of the photographs and videotapes documented that the police were the aggressors and the police officers interviewed for "Two Days in October" described themselves as initiating the clubbing of the students. Likewise, the surviving soldiers and officers who fought at Ong Thanh described the battle as an ambush in which the US forces were not only defeated, but decimated.

"Two Days in October" is based on a book by David Maraniss, They Marched into Sunlight.

2.  I've been immersing myself in the history of the Vietnam War years by reading about Watergate,  watching documentaries about the Vietnam War and the conflicts at home, and watching the two KSPS documentaries I watched about Expo '74.

I decided to take a break from this immersion and switched my attention to the Food Network and watched three episodes of my favorite Food Network show, "Chopped After Hours". In it, the judges from "Chopped" take on the challenge of cooking dishes using the weird combination of ingredients that "Chopped" contestants  have used. These chefs/judges are about a million times more adept in the kitchen than I am, and have ingredients in their pantry and cooking supplies at their disposal way beyond what I have on hand -- like I don't have an ice cream machine or a meat grinder!--, but I love watching their ingenuity. I marvel at the depth and breadth of their cooking knowledge. And, most of all, I enjoy that it's not a competition. The chefs all eat one another's masterpieces, heap praise on one another and talk in some detail about what they enjoy in the food, and they joke around and drink wine together. It's awesome.

3. During my senior year at Whitworth, probably in the fall of 1975, the word was out around campus that the Magic Lantern was screening a riveting documentary about the Vietnam War entitled, "Hearts and Minds".  Back in April of 1975, "Hearts and Mind" had won the Best Documentary Oscar and I was eager to see it, although very nervous. The movie unnerved me that fall. In 1982, when I bought my first videocassette machine (a BetaMax!), "Hearts and Minds" was being shown on the old cable movie channel, Spotlight, and I recorded it and watched it several times over the next few years.

Tonight, I rented "Hearts and Minds" from Amazon and watched the first half of the movie. My experience was similar to reading Elizabeth Drew's book, Washington Journal in that the movie was released shortly after the US had withdrawn troops from Vietnam, but the actual end of the war hadn't happened yet, In other words, the movie was contemporary with the war, looking at it as a current event, not looking back on the war so much. Much of the footage, by now, has become familiar thanks to all the documentaries and movies that have been made in the last forty years or so, but watching "Hearts and Minds" tonight reminded me how raw it all felt in 1975 and how shocked I was by the images of the wounded and dead soldiers and civilians, the man being shot in the head in Saigon during the Tet Offensive, and the destruction of the land of Vietnam. I'd spent time talking with and listening to veterans of the Vietnam War when I was a student at North Idaho College. It was as if "Hearts and Minds", back in 1975, gave me a concentrated tour in images and interviews of what these vets had talked about at tables we shared in the Student Union Building.

It's still overwhelming.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/18: Shopping, Tilapia Family Dinner, Remembering Expo '74

1.  I returned from a fun trip to Worley with Ed and the Deke and I started making plans for tonight's family dinner, which we were hosting. I shopped a bit at Yoke's and stopped for a very enjoyable talk with Sue as she was going in and I was going out. I was especially interested in confirming news I had heard about the work her middle daughter is pursuing and was happy to hear it's true. Yoke's was out of tilapia so I buzzed into Stein's and they had the bags of frozen filets they usually carry. At Stein's I saw Meredith and I knew from past conversations that she loves hot weather and she confirmed that, indeed, this current heat wave was making her very happy. Of all the people I've talked with over the last few days, Meredith is unique in not complaining about the heat, not simply enjoying the heat, but enjoying it.

2. Back home, in order to comply with the guidelines of the Keto plan, the Deke made a "potato" salad using cauliflower instead of potatoes. She also made cold stuffed sweet peppers, using a delicious cream cheese mixture for the stuffing. I melted butter in our cast iron pan and on our stovetop grill and fried tilapia fillets seasoned with Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper. I was very pleased with how the tilapia turned out and I took a spin as the boring big brother during our meal and yakked for a while about National Bohemian beer in Maryland, known locally as Natty Boh, and how much I enjoyed having a Maryland Margarita or a bohgarita at Old Line when Kristin used to occasionally pour me a Natty Boh in a glass rimmed with Old Bay seasoning. I think she might have declared me to have become a true Marylander when I accepted her offer of giving this way of drinking Natty Boh a try.

3. After dinner and after icing Christy -- who has a had a painful and difficult past 24 hours -- I returned home and downloaded and activated the PBS app on our television and registered KSPS, the PBS station in Spokane, on the app. One of the offerings on this app was documentaries made at KSPS and I browsed them and decided to watch a couple of KSPS shows that looked back at the 1974 World's Fair in Spokane, Expo '74. It was fascinating to revisit the way the construction of the Expo transformed the railroad yards along the Spokane River and Trent Avenue into a glorious site that is now Riverfront Park and includes the Convention Center and what I've always known as the Opera House, now known as the IMB Performing Arts Center.  I didn't spend a lot of time at Expo '74, but these programs helped me remember singing at Expo with the NIC choir, being staggered by the movie that played in the IMAX theater, seeing the USSR National basketball team play a team of USA college all-starts at the Coliseum, and going with my Whitworth classmates who were also taking a History of Russia class to hear a tedious lecture given by a tedious man from the USSR. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/18: Overwhelmed, Another Summit, Meeting a Reader of this Blog

1.  For four hours, I watched the last two installments of The Vietnam War. These last two episodes drained me, even though Burns and Novick ended their seventeen hours of filmmaking with some positive developments, including POWs returning home, US veterans of the war returning to Vietnam with some working on reconciliation efforts between the two countries, the power of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and eventual normalized relations between the USA and Vietnam. But, these two episodes were most memorable to me for detailing the story of disillusionment in the USA, especially during the Nixon and Ford years, detailing the impact on South Vietnam of US troops withdrawing and the Paris Peace Accords agreement that North Vietnamese soldiers could remain in South Vietnam, and detailing the chaos surrounding the eventual and inevitable fall of Saigon in 1975 and the grueling aftermath of the war ending.

Over the years I've read and listened to countless people's points of view regarding the Vietnam War and subsequent USA military intervention in other countries. I've listened to friends and people I'm related to. I've read and listened to politicians and historians and pundits. Many of these people assert their point of view regarding US intervention and our involvement in war with utter certainty, whether supporting or opposing what our country has done in the past and is doing today. I search for clarity and certainty.  I've come to deeper understandings of why people support our war efforts and why others oppose them. As I dig into this history and into the present more deeply, mostly I experience feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

2. The Deke and I are trying to work out some decisions about what we'll be doing over the next twelve months. We enjoy going over to the Hill St. Depot, grabbing a thinking and talking table, enjoying a drink or two, and talking things out. We did this again late this afternoon. We didn't arrive at any conclusions, but I might have come to understand better why it's not quite time yet to make up our minds about what lies ahead.

3. We returned home. The Deke helped ice Christy's knee and then we went up to the Inland Lounge. When we walked in the door, Cas welcomed us and told me he wanted me to meet someone who knew a lot about me, but whom I had never met. In fact, this man and Cas had just been talking about me when the Deke and I coincidentally strolled in. The man's name is Gary. He lives in western Washington and also owns a residence in Wardner. Years ago, he was doing some searching on the World Wide Web that was Kellogg related and he came across this blog and for many years my daily posts have been a part of his daily reading.  We had a fun conversation. He graduated from East Valley High school the same year I graduated from Kellogg and I learned more about his life living in the Spokane Valley and what he's been doing since then. My blog doesn't have a very big following. I know many of the people who read it, especially those who read it and post responses on Facebook, and I know the people to whom I send my posts via email.  It was fun tonight to meet Gary and find out that he discovered that he enjoyed my writing and has been a regular reader of kelloggbloggin for several years.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/18: Lunch with Longtime Friends, Yakkin' at Wallace Brewing, Old Friends at the Lounge

1. Last week, Kenton Bird had emailed me, wondering if I'd like to get together with him and Tim O'Reilly for lunch in Kellogg. I told him I'd also invite Christy and later on I invited Scott and Ed and Diane. Diane was out of town, but the other six of us met today at Radio Brewing for a fun reunion of five class of 72ers and Christy, from the class of '73. We all have long and deep history with one another and it was fun to get caught up on how things are today and to remember back to some things from the past. Everyone was impressed with Christy's mobility and the progress of her recovery and I don't think she had any problem with her knee over the 90 minutes or so we were at Radio Brewing.

2. Later in the afternoon, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and landed at Wallace Brewing. Our hopes of seeing Conversational Beer take place were dashed by our late arrival and by Wallace Brewing's internet being out. We met up with Emma and she was at a table with a bunch of other people and the only one I met was Michelle who is Amy Lynn's partner. I remarked that it seems like I can't go anywhere in Wallace without meeting a member of the Lynn family tree or a resident of King Street and we had a good laugh and some great conversation. The people I didn't know left after a while and Cathleen and Chase joined our table and I absorbed all kinds of lively stories about contemporary life on King Street and ended our visit with a short discussion with Chase about when their Imperial IPA is available.

3. The Deke and I raced back to Kellogg and swooped into the Lounge and Ed was talking with Julie and I sat next to Bird Legs, whom I hadn't seen for a while, and we gabbed away, and before long Jake and Carol Lee arrived and another party was underway. Jake and I left after a while to go across the street to the Elks where the KHS Class of 1968 was having a 50 year reunion meet and greet. Tim's wife, Katie, is a member of this class so we knew we'd find Tim and my hope was to find Sharann. We did find Tim, right away, and soon Sharann and I were embracing each other and after we talked for a while I invited her to the Lounge to meet the Deke. Pam was also at the Lounge and I hadn't seen her for a long time and she told a story about when her family came to see ours and her brother, Dood, was excited to play with me but I put him off because I was busy reading a volume of our encyclopedias. I was probably five years old. Dad had me put the encyclopedia down and taught me to be a better host. We all got a good laugh out of that story! The 68ers returned to the Elks and Eddie Joe arrived and he and I yakked with Tim and soon it was time to head home, bringing a really fun evening to an end.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/18: High School and Vietnam, Reading Vietnam, Splendid Salad and a Superb Beer

1. Being a high school student in Kellogg, mostly concerned about friends, basketball, working my jobs, and listening to Cream and Creedence Clearwater Revival, I didn't know what to make of events like students being shot at Kent State and Jackson State, buildings being bombed across the country by members of groups like the Weathermen, the My Lai massacre, and other stories documenting the hellish realities in Vietnam and the divisiveness and violence here in the USA. The only way I had of thinking about the possibility of getting drafted was to think of basic training as a series of really hard basketball practices. I had no way of thinking about combat. This all came back to me today as the documentary series, The Vietnam War, moved into covering the years I was in high school. If I was too preoccupied with being a teenager back in 1969 and 1970 to be unnerved by the war and the violence in the USA, today was different.

2. This afternoon, I dove into The New Yorker's online archives and read the first installment of Frances Fitzgerald's 1972 four part series on Vietnam. These pieces in The New Yorker later became her book, Fire in the Lake. In her first installment, Fitzgerald works to help her readers understand the philosophical, spiritual, historical, economic, and political history of the country of Vietnam so that readers can understand how very foreign the ideas of Western countries like France and the USA were to the Vietnamese and how little the French and the Americans cared about how the Vietnamese see the world and understand living day to day life. It's hard for us in the USA to comprehend, but traditionally the Vietnamese have had little concern for individual freedom or individualism. It's a genuinely western concept.

I also read book review I'd read earlier in the year of Max Boot's book, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam. I also read Frances Fitzgerald's account of returning to Hanoi in 1975 and what she observed and learned as Vietnam was working to shape itself in the aftermath of the war. The last article I read was by Seymour Hersh and his return to My Lai in 2015.

3. The Deke made a splendid shrimp salad from lettuce from our raised bed along with cheese, avocado, apple, and a variety of vegetables and we topped it with the raspberry vinaigrette she made, using raspberries from our yard.

Before dinner we split a 22 oz bottle of Breakside Brewing's Imperial IPA aged in gin barrels that had once held Old Tom Gin at Ransom Distillery in McMinnville, OR.  This was a most unusual and enjoyable beer, very floral and aromatic. It gave me a thrill similar to what I experience with Uncle Val's Botanical Gin -- a burst of herbal and floral flavors that are preceded by the great pleasure Uncle Val's and this beer gives my nose.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/18: Vicious War, Simple Steak Dinner, Christy Update

1. I spent much of the day continuing to watch The Vietnam War. The stories survivors told of intense battles and firefights unnerved me and deepened my understanding of the vicious ferocity of this war and the terrifying situations the soldiers confronted, not only in the jungle and in the highlands, but also in the urban firefights, especially during the Tet Offensive, like in the Battle of Hue.

2. It was fun cooking dinner tonight. I fried some bacon to make grease and in that grease I fried circles of onions until pretty much caramelized and then quickly fried two thin rib eye steaks. On Tuesday, the Deke had made a superb cabbage salad and it rounded out this simple and delicious meal. We ate on the deck where by about 7 o'clock the air was beginning to cool and it was refreshing, in contrast to the day's heat. Earlier in the day, I took a break from Vietnam at one point this afternoon and learned how to fix homemade Rice-a-Roni, called Rice and Pasta Pilaf by the people at America's Test Kitchen. It looks really fun.

3. Christy had a very busy day: she had a hair appointment, another appointment uptown, and her book group met. She had been told by her physical therapist that she was ready to go up and down staircases and so she made her first visit in about a month to the basement of her house. By this afternoon, since she didn't have an ice treatment in the morning, she was more than ready to be iced. Afterwards she took a nap to recover from all her activity and I went over after dinner and ran the ice therapy machine again. Incrementally, Christy continues to improve and I think she's always up against the question of what to do and what not to do because she's been advised not to overdo things.  She has more things to do in the next few days -- another appointment uptown, more physical therapy, lunch on Friday (we hope), and her high school class reunion on Saturday.  I don't think she'll overdo it. She has plenty of time scheduled for elevating her knee, being treated with ice, and resting. From my point of view, it looks like things are going very well in her recovery and that she's being sensible about her activities balanced with rest and ice treatments.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/18: Kidney Day II, The Politics of War, George and Martha at Eddie Joe's

1. Kidney Day II got stretched out over a few hours, but as long as my blood sample makes it to Baltimore, all turned out well. As I thought might be the case, when I took my blood kit to the clinic uptown at 8 a.m., the people working at the clinic didn't know how to deal with it in their system. A very helpful front desk person took my kit back to the lab and came back with handouts as to where LabCorp labs can be found in CdA and told me that if I saw my primary care provider, I could get a code assigned to my blood draw and then they could poke me and send the sample to Maryland.

I thought to myself, no problem. I'll bet my provider Linda Jo Yawn will cut right through all of this and I was right. I made a 10 o'clock appointment, went home, returned, and when Linda Jo Yawn sauntered into her examination room, heard why I was there, and inspected the blood kit, she said, "I'll go see who's available at the lab and if no one is, I'll draw your blood." And she did. She told me she'd figure out a way to get my monthly blood draw entered into the system at the clinic so that things would go smoother next time.

So, yeah, it took a little over three hours to have a vial of blood drawn, centrifuged, and mailed to Baltimore, but I had anticipated that what I need done every month might be unfamiliar to the staff at the clinic, so I was prepared to be patient and understanding -- and I was -- and it all worked out. In the end, the clinic staff were very happy to have learned what I needed and to have figured out how to help me.

2. Once back home, I settled into the third episode of Ken Burns' and Lynn Novik's documentary series, The Vietnam War. By 1964, the Vietnam War had become something much bigger that an armed conflict. It had become much more political. By that I mean that LBJ was making decisions about how many troops to send over and whether to negotiate with the North Vietnamese based as much on how it would affect the 1964 presidential election than on military decision making. In addition, LBJ and the USA leadership could not cut their losses and get out of Vietnam because of the deeply ingrained idea that the USA cannot fail, cannot lose, even though, in private, these leaders talked openly about how this war would probably never be won. It's grueling to watch this documentary knowing that politics and concerns for the USA's national reputation kept us at war as much or more than fighting Communism or helping the South Vietnamese did.

3. The Deke and I held a successful Hill Street Depot Summit late in the afternoon to talk about decisions that lie before us over the next few months. Afterward, the Deke hosted a Sock Monkey making party with Ashley, Becky, and Tracy.  I met Cas at Eddie Joe's for a few beverages.

When I walked into Eddie Joe's around 5:30, a scene was unfolding that reminded me of when Mom and Dad went downtown in Spokane to see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in about 1966. Mom's famous remark when they returned to Grandma's house was, "I didn't have to go to the movies to see that. I can just go to the Sunshine Inn."

Well, Eddie Joe's is across the street from the Sunshine Inn and all I had to do to hear some screaming and berating was go to Eddie Joe's.

I didn't know the 2018 Eddie Joe's version of George and Martha. I don't really know what today's Martha was screaming at George about, but I can say that Edward Albee did not infuse his scenes between George and Martha with the generous flow of f-bombs that our local Martha was dropping on our local George. I joined Cas at the bar who said, "Welcome to Eddie Joe's. It's not always like this." After a while, our local George retreated to a buddy bar and I think Martha went outside to have a calming smoke and guys rallied around George, telling him he'd done a good job keeping his cool and not to worry, that Martha was just drunk. I think George knew that.

There were no more eruptions and Cas and I yakked with Chip and Pat and Danny and Ron. We were well taken care of by Adam behind the bar and around 8:00 we went down the street to the Sock Monkey party. Before we got out of Cas's pickup, we listened to two tracks from a superb album by Willie Nile, Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan. We went inside and admired the newly made sock monkeys. Cas and Tracy hung out with the Deke and me on the deck for a while and after they left, the Deke and I capped off our evening by splitting a 12 oz bottle of Founder's Double Trouble, reviewing the day, and soon I retired for the night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/18: Kidney Days, Koreatown and Test Kitchen Tacos, Family Dinner

1. Coming into this week, I had declared, to myself, Monday and Tuesday as Kidney Days. I determined that on Monday I would buckle down and fill out the paperwork that would continue the process of being evaluated at Sacred Heart in Spokane to be listed for a kidney transplant.  I did that. I also need to start having my monthly blood draw performed uptown at LabCorp and I got everything ready to go up on Tuesday and see about making that happen. I filled out the paperwork. I mailed it in. I made the photocopies I needed to make for Tuesday and will go uptown as soon as possible and be done with Kidney Days.

2. Before and after I vacuumed our living room, kitchen, and bedroom -- floors, rugs, and furniture --, I watched food shows on television. The Koreatown episode of Parts Unknown was awesome as different residents of this section of L. A. took Anthony Bourdain into eateries, including a Sizzler steakhouse, along with a dumpling joint, Beverly Soon's Tofu Restaurant, a Bangladeshi place, a Korean taco truck, and, maybe best of all, the family home of one of his hosts. I love Korean food with its emphasis on fermentation, bbq, spiciness, and multiple layers of flavor and dearly wished Korean cuisine were nearby Kellogg. Well, I shouldn't whine! All I need to do is go to Spokane!

I also watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen and I was particularly intrigued by watching one of their chefs make tacos using beef shredded from braised boneless short ribs, topped with an awesome looking slaw. In order to have access to this recipe and about 14 billion others in the Cook's empire, I needed to buy an online subscription -- so I did -- and I started a board on Pinterest with my America's Test Kitchen/Cook recipes. I am looking forward to making the braised short ribs one day, even whether we use the meat for tacos or eat them as they are. I spent time, then, exploring other America's Test Kitchen recipes and, lo and behold, I found some recipes for Korean, or at least Korean style, dishes that look fun and delicious -- especially once the weather cools off and I don't mind heating up the kitchen.

3. Carol and Paul hosted family dinner tonight. Even with her knee far from 100% healed, Christy didn't seem to have any problems getting over to Carol and Paul's and coming into the back yard -- this was very good to see. Carol made sauerkraut and sausage and Paul grilled lettuce and a mess of vegetables and it was a splendid dinner out on their patio. It was a very comfortable evening nicely punctuated when Carol served Limoncello, but I declined and opted instead for a delicious Brandy Alexander made with heavy cream.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/18: Hathaway and Lewis, Lunch with Kristen, The Vietnam Slog

1.  Sometimes it is all right just to be blissfully out of it. The episode of  Inspector Lewis that I started on Saturday and finished this morning was written as the last episode of the series and I didn't know that as I watched it. I was going merrily along, letting the episode fool me into thinking this guy, then that guy killed the professor, his wife, and, years earlier, a post-doc student and I enjoyed the satisfaction of Lewis and Hathaway digging their way to the truth about the murders. Then, all of I sudden, Lewis and Hathaway were ending their relationship as coppers over a beer and it was understated and tender and my tears welled up and I realized that I had randomly selected the farewell episode of Inspector Lewis.

It turned out, though, that it wasn't the last episode. I did some reading and discovered more episodes were made starting a year or so later. In due time, I'll check them out.

2. Around 12:30 or so, I sprang into the Sube and met Kristen Chesmore at Radio Brewing for lunch. Kristen and I first met nearly forty years ago at Whitworth when I was teaching part time in the English Department and she was getting underway as a student. Kristen took some time away from Whitworth, returned, and so did I. In January of 1984, she was a student in my Jan term course, "The Family in American Drama". I've kept somewhat current with Kristen through Facebook. Her brother, Peter Blomquist, and I are good friends and he told me a bit about how Kristen was doing when Peter, Mark Cutshall, and I got together in Newport, OR in September, 2013.

Kristen and I immediately and comfortably launched  into a couple of hours of conversation. We updated each other on our families and our sons and daughters and grandchildren. Recently, Kristen traveled with a group working to observe and understand the frightening and dangerous conditions in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador that give rise to people leaving, seeking asylum in the USA. She also told me about the volunteering she does at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma and told me stories about two women she talked with for months who have now been deported.  I talked about how much I loved living among people from all parts of the world in Greenbelt and Alexandria and what I experienced in wandering around the Washington, D.C metro area. Kristen told me more about her experiences in Central America and volunteering in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Being out in the world and having daily interactions with people who have come to the USA from all over the world has enriched both of us and I loved talking with Kristen about all of this.

3. Back home, I took everything out of the refrigerator and cleaned its interior. I returned to the television room and watched the second episode of Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's documentary series, The Vietnam War. The episode explored the brutal irony of the idea that the military and civilian leadership of the USA, with some exceptions, imagined that we could make war in a country as a means of helping its people combat Communism, destroy crops, burn villages, indiscriminately kill Vietnamese people, often mistaking allies for enemies, force people to leave their homes and live behind barbed wire in strategic hamlets, and expect the support of the Vietnamese for our efforts. Many Vietnamese had come to resent the colonizing presence of the French over the decades and, similarly, came to resent the presence of the USA. This resentment emboldened the Viet Cong and helped them in their recruitment. What had once seemed like a limited action that would be over in a matter of months turned into a long and deadly slog. It's a terrible history to watch unfold.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/18: Squirming through *Birdman*, Remembering Vietnam, Inspector Lewis and the Lounge

1. Today I watched my first movie using our new Blu Ray player and new television. Mostly I experienced discomfort as I watched Birdman. The movie took place in the world of a Broadway theater and was populated by characters whose cynicism, self-centeredness, insecurity, narcissism, crudeness, instability, and physical temper tantrums made me squirm. I might have been fidgety, also, because the movie struck close to home. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson,  who made a name for himself playing a movie superhero named Birdman. He hasn't played that role for twenty years and has decided to infuse new life in his career by mounting his own adaptation of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love on Broadway. Self-doubt, fear that his life has added up to very little, insecurity about his abilities as an actor, especially when he's not Birdman, and guilt about his failures as a father torture Riggan Thomson throughout the movie, often via the voice of his old character Birdman that lives inside him and mocks him from within his subconscious mind, undermining his best efforts to reform himself and make art on stage rather than be a comic book character in the movies.

So, during the movie, my own self-doubts, my own fears that my life has amounted to very little, my memories of my own overreaching, and stores of guilt I've carried for years inevitably sprung to life and so the movie's script and my life's script intersected. I squirmed. I nearly turned off the movie. But I couldn't, largely because even though I wanted these unappealing characters out of my life, they were played so brilliantly by Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, and, to me, especially Emma Stone that their performances thrilled me even as I strongly disliked the characters they played. The last time a movie's characters made me feel this uncomfortable was when I saw Sideways nearly fifteen years ago. Both movies are, in their own ways, dark comedies. Both are satirical movies, and movies of this sort work best when they make viewers cringe.

I cringed and squirmed frequently watching Birdman, making me think the movie succeeded.

2. I let Birdman sink in for a while and then I decided to watch something wholly different and clicked on the first episode of Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's documentary series The Vietnam War. I appreciated how deeply this first episode explored the history of France's colonial ambitions in Vietnam. France's exploitation of Vietnam's resources and human labor and their repression of dissidents triggered resistance.  This first episode also explores that automatic opposition to Communism crippled our country's ability to see that the resistance in Vietnam was grounded in the drive for national independence and self-determination. The aspirations of the resistance were similar to our country's aspirations when revolting against British colonial occupation. It's painful to watch as USA involvement in Vietnam escalates and the quagmire of the war thickens.

3. The Deke was out in the living room watching a French crime show and so I decided I'd treat myself to a British crime show/mystery and watched about half of an episode of Inspector Lewis I had never seen. I used to access streaming episodes of this series through my library membership in Prince George's County when we lived in Greenbelt. I remembered fondly cold winter nights slowly drinking brandy and hot water sweetened with cinnamon sticks and watching Lewis and Hathaway dig into crime after crime and I enjoyed reliving those memories and, even more, enjoyed being back with these investigators as they try to suss out who murdered an alcoholic professor recently released from prison for having killed a child while driving drunk. I'll find time Sunday to finish this episode as my viewing this evening was interrupted by a dinner of salad, salami, and Huntsman cheese and relaxing time yakkin' with Cas at the Lounge.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/20/18: TV and A/C, Smokes and Suds, Beer Club and the Lounge

1. Some things came together really well today: the Blu Ray player and Fire Stick are hooked up to the television and it all works and we are ready to watch some movies and other stuff. The Sube was ready to be picked up and the air conditioning runs consistently, not intermittently, so that repair deal is completed. My last pressing project is to get paperwork submitted to the transplant center at Sacred Heart.

2. After I picked up the Sube, I glided down Government Way and decided to check out Smokes and Suds, a vape and bottle shop in Dalton Gardens. I'd read much praise for this place written by members of the Beer d'Alene Facebook group and discovered all that praise was very well founded. Since we were having a Beer Club session at Shawn's today, and since he had declared today's club meeting to have a tequila theme, I was very happy to find a bottle of 2017 Abyss, aged in tequila barrels. I purchased some other barrel-aged ales, some for future Beer Club sessions, and some for the Deke and me to enjoy at home. I will write more about them as we open them. I am stoked to return to Smokes and Suds again and can hardly wait to take the Deke there.

3. We had an awesome Beer Club meeting. I was very happy to introduce Shawn, Teresa, the Deke, and Patti to one of my favorite styles of beer, gose. Gose beers are tart, not as biting as a sour ale, and fruity with a hint of saltiness. Since our Beer Club session was loosely based on tequila, I was very happy when, on Wednesday, I discovered cans of Sierra Nevada's Otra Vez Gose-style ale, brewed with lime and agave. For anyone interested in dipping a toe into the waters of sour beers, I'd say the Lime and Agave Otra Vez would be a perfect beer. It's light, refreshing, tart, but not mouth puckering, and the lime and agave compliment each other beautifully. As we sampled the Lime and Agave Otra Vez, Teresa mused that it might taste good with tequila mixed in it. So, Shawn brought out their bottle of tequila and we heartily agreed that a small hit of tequila enhanced this beer's taste. We were all smiles.

Friends of Shawn and Teresa's had come to Kellogg earlier in the week and had a single can of Bell's Hopslam and Shawn told them he'd like to save it for Beer Club. Now, understand this: Hopslam is a powerful Imperial IPA weighing in at 10% ABV and is released just once a year in January. I never dreamed, after drinking some Hopslam at Old Line in Beltsville, MD and drinking a four pack in our apartment home in Greenbelt that I would ever see a Hopslam out west in Kellogg, Idaho, let alone have one sitting in front of me on a July evening. I was thrilled and the Hopslam pleased me deeply. I'm glad we shared the 12 oz can around the table and I just loved entering back into the grapefruit aroma and the hoppy fireworks in my mouth lit by drinking about five ounces of this superb beer.

Next, it was time to dive into the dark and mysterious depths of Deschutes' masterful Imperial Stout, The Abyss. I will admit that I didn't taste the impact of the beer having been aged in tequila barrels, but no problem. I loved sinking into the black bottomless blend of molasses, black licorice, cherry bark, vanilla and other rich tastes that make The Abyss one of my favorite ways to indulge my nose and my taste buds in joy and pleasure.

I enjoyed the beer and, even more, the company at Shawn and Teresa's. Rod, Patti, and Cathleen came to tonight's Beer Club and I loved yakkin' about all kinds of different things, getting to know everyone's dogs, and learning more about everyone.

When we left Shawn and Teresa's, the Deke and I hadn't had quite enough good cheer among good people, so we stopped in at the Inland Lounge and the joint was buzzing with the happy sounds of people around our age talking and laughing and enjoying a gorgeous July evening in Kellogg. I talked with Eddie Joe about his round of golf up at Stoneridge, had fun conversation about golf and other things with Jim White; Riles came up to where the Deke and I were seated and he talked lovingly about his and my parents, especially Mom, and about working at the Bunker Hill. I got to yak with Cas, had a good session with Mike Grebil (but had to accept the news that his brother Steve, who is recovering from an elbow infection, won't be in the Silver Valley this weekend for Mike's daughter's wedding), and talked with Harley about his meat smoker.

I left the Lounge beaming, having enjoyed seeing so many fellow Silver Valley people and being a part of so many people enjoying one another. It was epic.




Friday, July 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/19/18: Trip to Mullan, TV Set Up, Postmodern Jukebox on Pandora

1.  Today was Carol and Paul's 32nd wedding anniversary and they kicked off celebrating this milestone by riding their bikes from Mullan to Kellogg. They needed a ride up to Mullan and so they loaded up their bikes in Everett's pickup, the three of us piled in, and I drove them to Mullan. I don't remember the last time I was in Mullan, so after I dropped Carol and Paul off at the trailhead of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, I toured Mullan for a while, reminding myself where the Mullan Athletic Pavilion is located, locating the Corner Bar and Outlaw Bar and Grill, and winding my way around a residential area, admiring the beauty of town of Mullan and its surroundings.

2. After a trip to the Shoshone County Transfer Station to relieve ours and Christy and Everett's households of cardboard and other odds and ends that were lying around, I returned home and slowly, carefully, and surely took our new television out of the box and took my sweet time, with the help of the Deke, getting the television set up physically and wirelessly. I am gaining an understanding of what kinds of programming is available, loaded into the television itself, and, on Friday, I'll connect the Blu Ray player and the Fire Stick.

3. The Deke and I sauntered through the row of booths at the Farmers' Market and slipped into the beer garden and enjoyed a beer and a bratwurst. It had been hot during the day, but by the time we sat in some shade on a picnic table to enjoy our beer and food, a refreshing breeze kicked up and we had a pleasant dinner. Then we headed over to the Hill St. Depot for drinks and some excellent conversation. When we returned home, I cranked up my new favorite Pandora station, Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox and listened to a number of songs by various artists sung and performed in vintage jazzy and swing styles. It's like Jack White and Blondie meet Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Teresa Brewer, and the Andrews Sisters. This station plays scintillating music.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/18/18: Quick Trip to Hayden, Finishing Elizabeth Drew's Book, TV Soon!

1. I hopped in the Sube first thing this morning and bolted to Hayden and dropped off the Sube at the shop to have the air conditioning repaired and Ryan handed me the keys to a car just like ours, only four years older, as a loaner. I dashed from the shop to Pilgrim's Market and slowly examined the beer case and I found a couple of cans of Yeti Imperial Stout and a bomber of Breakside bourbon barrel-aged salted caramel Imperial Stout  for the Deke and I bought a couple of beers, to be revealed later, for Friday's Beer Club at Shawn's.  I returned immediately to Kellogg, eager to get back to reading Elizabeth Drew.

2. Today I finished reading Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal and the "Afterward" she added in about 2014, forty years after Richard Nixon's resignation.  I kept thinking that it was a slow developing and remarkable, almost unbelievable, achievement that the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 was able to craft and approve Articles of Impeachment and, I kept thinking, it could never happen in 2018. I agree with comments that Elizabeth Drew has made recently that the word "impeachment" or the phrase "impeach Trump" are pressed almost casually, as if it were a move that could be readily accomplished if only gotten underway.

In reality, it's a messy process, vaguely defined in the Constitution. If undertaken, the whole process would have to be invented with the the politically motivated impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton and the somewhat more philosophically worked out articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon serving as precedents. I haven't seen much evidence that the current Congress, and especially the Judiciary Committee, has the ability or the desire to step back from political fighting and enter into a disinterested discussion of Constitutional principles, the concept of impeachment, and how best to draft articles of impeachment in way that would be more similar to a law school seminar than a political battle.

As I was thinking about all of this, the Deke emailed me an article Elizabeth Drew wrote for The New Republic in February, 2018 entitled, "Holding a President Accountable: Why It Might be Impossible intthe Age of Trump".  You can read it, here. The gist of the article is that our Congress is too polarized to undertake serious and thoughtful deliberations upon impeachment. In addition, elected officials are under intense scrutiny by ideological purists, making the discussion and weighing of competing ideas nearly impossible.

As I see it, ideological purity and disinterested philosophical discussion of Constitutional principles cannot co-exist. If one is an ideological purist, all questions, whether about taxes, the right to bear arms, abortion, immigration, or impeachment, are already decided. There's nothing to discuss -- there's only the question of is one with us or against us. Positions on such questions are not regarded as fluid, open to the realities of the moment, open to thoughtful discussion, but as litmus tests.  In general, voters in the USA seem to support this. Voters seem to want to know where candidates stand, seem to want those positions to remain fixed without further examination, and seem to want their elected officials to embody the very ideological purity that keeps our legislative branch from being deliberative.

I'm going to take a break from reading political history. After finishing Washington Journal, I started reading the first of the Dave Robicheaux detective novels by James Lee Burke.

3. The Deke nailed the back onto the shelving we bought last week. Now that this shelving no longer wobbles, it can safely support the (light) weight of our new television and the way is open for me to set up our new tv, blu ray player, and Fire stick. This should be fun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/17/18: Prog Rock Room, Impeaching a President, Great Dinner

1.  I retreated into the television room and today it was the progressive rock and reading room. I had enjoyed the radio program, Soundscapes, on KRVM from Eugene on Sunday evening so much that I created a progressive rock station on Pandora. The station is Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin heavy and, to my delight, also includes punk bands like the Ramones and Cramp. The station gave me some enjoyable tracks by Yes and Rick Wakeman and Joe Satriani and introduced me to bands I hadn't heard of and don't remember.

2. I returned to reading Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's Downfall.  I didn't quite finish this detailed study of the end of Nixon's presidency today, but I'm almost there. I spent much of the day reading all that went into the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Elizabeth Drew details the excruciating work it required to impeach Richard Nixon and presents detailed interviews with both Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee regarding how they reasoned themselves to support impeachment or not. The Constitutional arguments different Representatives made were most impressive and Drew makes it a point to examine the physical and emotional toll this process took on the committee. Drew also reports in detail on the deliberations of the Supreme Court when it ruled unanimously in favor of the Special Prosecutor's subpoena for the tapes Richard Nixon made of the conversations that occurred in his office.

I want to read more, now, about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I don't remember if that process brought out in House members the kind of passionate arguments in defense of certain Constitutional principles that the deliberations Drew reports on did. I also don't know if the proceedings leading to Clinton's impeachment were as agonizing for the participants as the Nixon proceedings were.

It seems to me that the Constitution leaves a lot of room for interpretation regarding what constitutes impeachable offenses. Moreover, the Constitution does not lay out a process for how to impeach a sitting president. It was fascinating to read how the members of the Judiciary Committee, under Peter Rodino's leadership, slowly, exhaustingly, and painstakingly worked out the process of impeachment,  the articles themselves, and their support or opposition to impeaching Nixon. It was a political as well as a judicial process. I would say the source of much of the agony was political, especially for conservative members who wrestled with the intersection of individual conscience, Constitutional principles, and the wishes of their constituents back home, knowing that their support of impeachment was against the wishes of many voters in their districts, donors from around the country, and many of their conservative colleagues.  Enough Republicans put principle and country before party that the Judiciary Committee reached a bipartisan decision to impeach Richard Nixon.

3. The Deke made an especially delicious dinner tonight. She opened a package of ground Italian sausage, part of the half a hog we recently purchased, combined it with tomatoes and made a mashed cauliflower topping and topped it all with grated cheese. It was a potato-less Shepherd's Pie and I far preferred the cauliflower layer to all the potato layers I've eaten over the years.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/16/18: Christy's Trying Day, Lazy Day, Daydreaming

1. Christy had had a restless night with recurrent pain. This hadn't happened for a while. Her pain level improved during the day and, in the afternoon, Christy was able to exercise her knee and leg and she moved about the house. I helped her ice her knee in both the morning and afternoon and she was doing better in the afternoon, especially after getting some sleep during the day. The Deke visited Christy in the evening and reported that Christy seemed to be doing pretty well. Christy has three PT sessions this week and if she's had any kind of setback, I hope these sessions will help her resume her progress.

2. I had a slow day. I napped twice. I survived Alexa's outage. I tried to avoid the heat and our house stayed pretty cool. I'm very pleased with how cool our emerging TV room stays during these hot days.

3. It being such a lazy day in the present, I daydreamed today about things in the past. Our walk through the ancient cedar grove on Saturday and seeing fallen trees crisscrossed over Eagle Creek took me back to the hikes I used to enjoy in the watershed of the Umpqua River along the N. Umpqua River. The site below Clearwater Falls also featured many fallen old trees crisscrossing the Clearwater River and to remember Clearwater Falls took me back to Watson Falls, no far away, and how much I loved the wild rhododendrons on the trail to the 272-foot waterfall. Before long, I came back to the present, but thoroughly enjoyed my mental trip back in time and place to driving Highway 138 and hiking around the gorgeous waterfalls just off that road.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/15/18: Goodby and Thinking Back, Family Salad Bar, Prog Rock on KRVM

1. Vickie and Alan packed up and were on their way back to West Seattle mid-morning and so our weekend of outings and gabbin' and good cheer came to an end. I thought back to other times we've spent together: on a handful of occasions the Deke and I drove up to West Seattle from Eugene and one time we drove over from Kellogg on our way back to Eugene after a visit with Mom. Vickie and Alan came to our house in Eugene several times. Once, I remember, they were at our house when Keith Greeninger played a house concert in our back yard in Eugene and we decided afterwards that we wouldn't be hosting concerts any longer. Vickie and Alan visited Molly and the Deke and me in Portland back in 2004 when Molly was being treated for burns after her camping accident. We met up with Vickie and Alan in Bethesda back in 2015 and, in 2017, Vickie traveled by herself to Maryland and stayed with us a few nights and we had a fun day at Union Market and Atlas Brewing. Vickie and Alan also came to the Babes with Axes show in Eugene a year ago.   It was fun having Vickie and Alan visit us and to remember back to all that we've done and how we've all been together at some of the memorable times in the Deke's and my life together.

2. We hosted family dinner tonight. Neither the Deke nor I wanted to heat up the kitchen much, so the only use we made of the stove was when the Deke fried pieces of chicken breast for the salad bar she assembled. As the sun went down and the outdoor air cooled off, we had a very pleasant time eating on the deck. Christy walked over for dinner. She requested a third icing for the day after she had made the walk and after sitting at the dinner table without her leg being straight or elevated. It was encouraging that she was able to make it over. Every day she makes more progress in her healing.

3. After dinner and after helping ice Christy's knee, I retired to our TV room (TV still to be set up) and used Alexa to listen to KRVM-FM from Eugene. The Soundscape show was on. It focuses on progressive rock and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to tunes by Yes, King Crimson, Emerson & Lake, & Palmer, Renaissance, The Strawbs, Jethro Tull, and Rick Wakeman. I got a little nostalgic for what I think used to be called Album Oriented Rock FM radio and the looser days before corporate playlists and the emergence of Classic Rock stations. I was happy that I can tune in to KRVM every Sunday evening at 9 o'clock and have a couple hours of the "no static at all" experience of FM radio forty years ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/14/18: Ancient Cedar Grove, Lunch in Prichard, Tall Tales at the Lounge

1. After a morning of coffee, Kansas City bacon, and scrambled eggs, the Deke, Vickie, Alan, and I piled into Alan and Vickie's SUV and headed up the North Fork of the CdA River and deep into the Idaho Panhandle Forest up Eagle Creek for a visit to the Settler's Grove of Ancient Cedars. A wildfire had swept through this area about three years ago and it was impressive to see how the giant cedars had survived, even as the charred remains of lesser trees surrounded them. The conditions on the trail reminded me of the capacity of trees, especially ancient ones like these, to keep the forest from becoming scorching hot. Even though the temperatures outside the grove were climbing into the 80s, inside the grove the air ranged between cool and warm and was very comfortable.

2. After some time in the forest, we pulled into the parking lot at the Prichard Tavern. It's a rustic place, clean, and comfortable. I enjoyed my elk burger and fries. I'm getting more and more accustomed to some aspects of life in North Idaho that I am experiencing again, but that were not a part of my life either in Eugene or in Maryland. The stuffed heads of several wild animals decorated the walls. A guy at the bar wore a holstered gun, unconcealed. Country music from the 80s and 90s  played at a low volume through the house's cable or satellite television service. Everywhere I've lived, I've enjoyed the differences between places and this is true being back in North Idaho again. I'm feeling more and more a part of things here after my long absence.

3. Vickie, Alan, the Deke, and I sat at our table on the deck and enjoyed the pork chops I fried and the salad the Deke made. Toward the end of dinner, Ed texted me wondering if I were uptown, at the Lounge. I said I wasn't, but I could be and so we decided to go see Cas and Tracy. The Deke, Vickie, and Alan were comfortable in the cool evening air of the deck, were planning on having some ice cream and raspberries, and had wine sipping plans. So they stayed put while I went up to the Inland Lounge. Tonight Cas schooled me regarding the deep flaws in the abilities of former Pittsburgh Pirate Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart and how a buddy of ours might have made it to the majors had he not idolized Dick "Stone Fingers" Stuart and emulated "Iron Glove"'s habit of running the bases with his head down, oblivious to the location of struck balls and the base running signals of base coaches. Ed was doing pretty well after a fairly restful day and he and Cas swapped some great work stories.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/13/18: Christy's Excellent Progress, The Vacuum Cleaner Works!, Touring Kellogg with Longtime Friends

1.  I am happy to report that Christy continues to make steady progress as she heals from her knee replacement surgery. This morning at 8 a.m., she drove up to our house, picked up the Deke, and the two of them joined Carol for coffee at the Bean. Christy drove uptown for an appointment. She had slept through the night without pain -- she has discovered the right timing for when to take her pain medicine (which I thought she was off of -- but, she's still taking some before bed at night) and the pain relief is helping her get much needed healing sleep. Today, Christy went out into her gardens and took pictures -- if you are her Facebook friend, you can see the pictures -- and just had a solid day of rest, activity, and healing. She's very grateful for how helpful the ice therapy machine has turned out to be and has learned that she does best with her leg elevated, so that having Mom's medical chair in her possession is a great help.

2. So, earlier in the week, I bought this light weight Shark vacuum cleaner and hoped it would be the right machine for vacuuming our hardwood floors and area rugs. Today, I found out it was a great purchase. By alternating between different attachments, I vacuumed the floor, four area rugs, the ridges of the baseboards in different rooms, and got dog hair off the love seat, chair, and ottoman. I also was able to make the vacuum cleaner really short and this made vacuuming the steps going upstairs very easy. The only downside of this machine? Like every vacuum cleaner ever invented, this one drives Maggie and Charly crazy. I have to have the Deke take the dogs in the basement so that I can vacuum without having them scream bark, panic, and attack the vacuum cleaner. With the dogs in the basement, vacuuming the house with our new machine was a very pleasant experience.

3. Our friends Vickie and Alan arrived mid-afternoon from West Seattle and we sat around the Beer Club table in the kitchen and ate snacks, drank cold beverages, and launched into some solid yakkin'. We went to the Hill St. Depot for an enjoyable dinner and capped off our evening out in the beer garden area at Radio Brewing. It was fun starting to show Vickie and Alan around Kellogg a bit. Upon returning home, I hit the wall -- I'd been up since 5:30 -- and retired to bed and I'm not sure how long the Deke and Vickie and Alan stayed up.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/12/18: Sube's A/C Needs Fixing, Lunch with Byrdman, Preparing for Company

1. I roared out of Kellogg this morning and headed to the Subaru shop I do business with in Hayden to try and get answers once and for all about the Sube's air conditioning unit which has been on the blink, functioning erratically, for a couple of years. The a/c needs expensive repair work and we don't want a car with no a/c and we know the car is in otherwise good shape and we don't want to buy another car right now.  We'll get the a/c fixed.

2. After I was done at the shop, I swung by Byrdman's house and we headed up Government Way to Paragon, an excellent pub with a solid taplist. We each had their superb All-American burger and shoestring fries and enjoyed a pint of Tricksters' Citra Smash Ale. I hadn't see Byrdman for a while and he had lots of news about his last jam-packed month and we got in some great yakkin' with Kerry, a co-owner of Paragon, and got the latest news as to when Paragon hopes to break ground for their on-site brewery.

3. Back home, the Deke and I worked on getting the top floor of the house ready for our company this weekend. Earlier in the week, we had bought a new vacuum cleaner and I put it together and put it to good use upstairs and also got the window fans set up so that it will be cool upstairs for Vickie and Alan's comfort. This is another step forward in our ongoing efforts to finally get settled into our house and rearrange it after moving in last September and having two remodeling jobs done. Slowly and surely.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/11/18: Christy's Breakthrough Day, Late Afternoon with Shawn, Online Registration

1. Christy had quite a breakthrough day today. She awoke after a painless night, so she had a much better night's sleep. She ran out of her stronger pain medication and is not requesting a refill.  This allows her to drive short distances. So, for the first time in over two weeks, Christy drove today and it was uptown to her physical therapy session. After her session, for the first time in over two weeks, Christy walked over to our house. She wisely uses the aid of her cane to walk up and down hers and our porch steps, but made the stroll to our house without the cane. So, for the first time in over two weeks, Christy sat at our dining table and yakked with the Deke, Shawn, and me for a while, but went back home when she needed to return home and elevate her leg.

2. Shawn was at our house to help assemble shelving that will sit on our floor in the television room and upon which the television will sit. Once he and the Deke finished this, we broke out some beer I had bought in Eugene. One of the bottles had gone bad, so we dumped it down the drain, but there was nothing bad about the peppery spiciness and sweet bourbon finish of Breakside's bourbon barrel-aged Aztec Ale. Knowing Shawn is batching it this week, we invited him to stay for dinner and the Deke and I teamed up to make a fried salmon, mashed cauliflower, and green salad dinner. The lettuce, basil, and cilantro in the salad were from our garden and it was not only fresh, but full of a variety of flavors.

3.  The Deke and I bought these kind of fancy screen protectors for our new cell phones just over a couple weeks ago and they have a warranty they requires online registration. Registering the screen protectors required that I scan the receipt of our purchase and upload it, no problem, and required me to find our phones' IMEI numbers. I didn't think our phone boxes would be of help because we bought two phones, so I did some searching on the World Wide Web and learned how to find the number by going to the right menu on our phones. I enjoyed learning that, but it turned out to be unnecessary because I later checked our phone boxes and, wouldn't you know it?, the rep we worked with, Jade, had made it clear which box belonged to which phone. All's well that ends well, you know, and I got the screen protectors registered and learned a little more about accessing information about our phones by using the phones themselves. I liked that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/10/18: Christy's Recovery Progresses, Arrangements, Steak Dinner on the Deck

1. Christy had a good session at the clinic with physical therapy on Monday and today she got around the house and did some light house cleaning -- took care of dishes, swept floors, that kind of thing. When I slide the ice therapy machine bladder under her knee, she's not having any problem lifting her leg. These are all very encouraging markers as her recovery moves forward. She has not wavered in her commitment to physical therapy, even in the face of recurring pain and imperfect nights of sleep.

2. The Deke and I have now made the essential arrangements for our trip to New Jersey and New York, starting August 21. After today, we have our flights reserved to and back from Newark, a rental car reserved, dog care reserved at Carol and Paul's, and an Airbnb reserved in Nyack. I am more happy and relieved than maybe a well-balanced person should be that we did not wait until the last minute to do any of this.

3. It didn't take long and it was simple, but I experienced a burst of euphoria this evening in the kitchen. I cut a yellow onion into rings and melted quite a bit of butter on our gas range's grill and caramelized the onions. In the meantime, I chopped up mushrooms and added them to the onions. We thawed out some sirloin tips about three days ago and got sidetracked and didn't cook them, until tonight. Figuring these steaks might be a little old and a little tough, I decided I'd try to overcome this potential deficiency by piling on the flavor. I generously covered the steaks with garlic powder, Montreal seasoning, and salt and fried them in bacon grease in a cast iron pan at a very high temperature.  It worked. Yes, the steaks were a little tough, but they were very tasty and paired perfectly with the cucumber and mixed peppers and walnut salad the Deke prepared.

It had been a pleasantly mild day today. The temperature never got above 80 degrees and we enjoyed our meal on the deck, marveling at our good fortune that it was so comfortable outside.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/18: Passport, Shopping Spree, Samsung Chat

1.  The Deke and I climbed in the Sube and motored over to CdA. The Deke had a passport appointment and her paperwork was in order and her passport and passport card will be arriving soon. If/when we go to Canada, we'll be prepared.

2. After we both got a haircut at Supercuts, we dashed to Costco to further furnish our remodeled house. For the first time in fourteen years, we bought a television. We bought a Blu-ray player. We bought a vacuum cleaner. We purchased an immersion blender. We stopped at Fred Meyer and the Deke bought a six-cubed thing to put the television on and to put odds and ends in. I'm not much of an assembler and the Deke ran into a glitch assembling the six-cube thing so we haven't taken the television out of the box yet. But, Tuesday is another day and the Deke is hoping the assembly difficulty looks less imposing after a good night's sleep, but as a backup, if needed, Shawn can come by and look at it on Wednesday.

3. Charles at Samsung was able to immediately provide me with a link to an online instruction manual to our Blu-ray player via chat. I wanted a manual with more extensive instructions than the small booklet that came in the box, and when I had difficulty finding the manual online via the Samsung website, I requested a chat online with a Samsung support team member and before I knew it, I had the link and I downloaded what I wanted. I do so much better chatting online than I do on the phone and am grateful for every company, from Symantec to Samsung, that provides this feature.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/08/18: Taking it Easy in Worley, Christy's Progress, Summit at City Limits

1. Ed swung by around 8:30 and we hit the road for the CdA Casino. We had a lot to yak about on the way down and back, but neither of us presumed to think we got all the world's problems solved. We gave it a go, though. Things were easy at the casino. It wasn't crowded. My money held up well.  Ed had had a demanding and often very hot week at work and getting away from it all did him a lot of good.

2. Christy continued to stay right on task with exercising and icing today. She is having difficulty with pain at night, which is not unusual, but difficult to endure. She's not at a point where she should get around a lot just yet, but, when she does, she's moving around pretty well and continues to make the occasional visit to her gardens. On Monday, July 9th, Christy will begin physical therapy at the clinic uptown, so her two weeks of in-home care have ended.

3. The Deke and I organized a summit at the City Limits Pub in Wallace to discuss our August travel plans to New York, to talk about making some further additions to the furnishing of our house, and to decide what we needed to do to prepare for friends making a visit this coming weekend. We enjoyed our meal and nailed down a few decisions about the weeks that lie ahead.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/18: Listening to Eugene Radio, Rockin' the Lounge, Baseball Research

1. I spent an inordinate amount of time in the room we used to call the front bedroom listening to radio stations from Eugene. I had a great time listening to Jivin' Johnny, The Beatles Hour, The Magical Mystery Tour, and Acoustic Junction on KRVM-FM and wish I'd had more time to listen to Dead Air on KLCC-FM, but I did catch about 45 minutes of it. The highlight of my hours with KRVM-FM was hearing the Grateful Dead's China Sunflower Cat>I Know You Rider from the 8-27-1972 show at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta, OR. I must take some time soon and listen to this entire show.

2. Not long after a delicious taco salad at home, the Deke and I head up to the Inland Lounge. We'd been at the Lounge for over an hour when the place cleared out and the Deke and I were the only customers. Cas played an epic series of tunes on the Lounge's digital jukebox, some of them accompanied by videos. We listened to Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, Tom Petty, The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, Disturbed, Pink Floyd, among other artists. It was an awesome party.

3. In preparation for our visit to the Lounge, I spent another inordinate chunk of time poring over the baseball stats of Manny Mota, Matty Alou, and Felipe Alou, and I read several articles about which players have hit home runs all the way out of Dodger Stadium. This feat was achieved by Willie Stargell twice and once by Mike Piazza, Mark McGwire, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/06/18: Morning Visit to the Lounge, July Birthdays Taco Feed, V.I.P. Bar at the Lounge

1. After breakfast at Sam's, Ed had to go to CdA for a blood draw and I had told him the week before that I'd like to ride with him. We had a little time to kill before leaving Kellogg and Ed wanted to go uptown and see how work was coming along on the street/sewer project. When we drove by the Inland Lounge, Cas's pickup was parked in front and the front door was open. Ed flipped a U-y, parked, and we piled out of his pickup and shot the breeze with Cas while he meticulously worked on preparing the Lounge for another weekend of quenching the thirst and meeting the social needs of the Greater Kellogg Metropolitan Area.

2. The Deke and had some meticulous prep work to do ourselves. The big day had arrived for the celebration of those having July birthdays in our family: Carol, Everett, and Zoe. Christy and Carol had hatched a plan to have a taco bar and I volunteered our deck as the assembly line site. The Deke and I got the table set up and I made some trips to the store and the Deke fixed the taco meat, guacamole, and did other dinner preparations. Carol and Christy also made contributions, so our taco dinner was a team effort. Next door neighbor Jane provided dessert and knocked it out of the park with Haagen Dazs ice cream, raspberries and sliced cherries, finely grated chocolate, and three liqueurs to choose from -- I poured Bailey's Salted Caramel over my vanilla ice cream topped with raspberries and the chocolate.

The party was a success. Everyone made themselves a taco or a taco salad and carried their plate through the gate over to Christy and Everett's back yard where tables and chairs were set up. It was especially good to see Christy strolling around the yard, giving her nieces a tour of the garden she created as a memorial to Mom, and spending a couple of hours outside.  She's been cooped up in the house quite a bit, but as she continues to recover so well from her surgery, she is able, with the help of her cane, to get around. She even cut some flowers and put them in vases for each of the tables.

3. After dinner, dessert, some cleaning up, and an ice therapy session with Christy, the Deke and I headed uptown to join in the good times at the Inland Lounge. To our delight, Diane Trecker, three of her kids, Kelly, Jennifer, and Matt, and Kelly's husband and Matt's wife, were having a party at the Lounge's V.I.P. bar. The Deke and I joined in and had a blast. I hadn't seen Diane for a while -- my own damn fault -- and she filled me in on all her latest projects around her house, her future plans for the place, other plans she has, her travels, and how things are going with her dad. At one point, Cas took a break from the nearly unrelenting demands of providing Blue Ribbon service to his many customers and told me more about his and Tracy's trip to Los Angeles and Santa Monica to see the Pirates play the Dodgers.  The Deke and I stuck around for a while after the Trecker party moved to Dirty Ernie's and yakked more with Cas, left, and we piled in the Sube and traveled the dark and vacant streets of Kellogg back home.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07-06-18: Scorcher, Relaxing at the Depot, Cooling Off on the Deck

1. We had our first scorcher of the summer today with the temperature soaring close to 100 degrees. While the morning was still cool, I watered the lawns and our modest garden spaces and was very happy to see that our Black/Brown-Eyed Susans are on the verge of flowering and that our Shasta Daisies are flowering and thriving.

2. After I bought food and other supplies for our Friday, July 6th family birthday taco party, the Deke and I took a calendar to the Hill St. Depot. I enjoyed a couple spiced rum Moscow Mules -- I'd call the drink and Dark and Stormy, but at the Depot this drink is made with light rum, not dark -- and we each ordered a smoked tri tip steak and bleu cheese salad. Our plans for the rest of the summer are not quite solidified, but we are getting there.

3. Back home, we enjoyed sitting on our deck and feeling the air cool off by degrees by the minute. As the sun lowered, so did the temperature. It was refreshing and we had good talks about several different things. We are very grateful that Kellogg cools off so nicely, even after a very hot day. We were also grateful that our house stayed reasonably cool today, even without air conditioning. We hope that our current set up with cool air blowing up from the basement combined with tower fans and closing up the house late in the morning will work well as the days heat up.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07-04-18: Christy's Progress, Relaxing at Radio, The 4th Makes Charly Tremble

1.  Over the last few days, I've become accustomed to Christy sending me a text message around 7 a.m. telling me she's ready for some ice machine therapy. This morning the text didn't come. And then it didn't come some more. I decided to assume the best: Christy was stacking some much needed Z's.  I was correct. So, today, Christy did her two sessions of exercise and had me ice her knee later in the day. In addition, she took a stroll out in her back yard with her camera and snapped some floral shots and, as darkness fell, she and Everett sat in lawn chairs in their front yard and watched fireworks.  This means that Christy went up and down some steps, got some fresh air, and, even though the garden stroll tired her out some, gave her new knee an elementary walking test and it passed.

Here's another encouraging development. For several days, it was difficult for Christy to lift her leg to help me slide the ice machine bladder and towel under her knee.  In the last day or two, she been able to lift her leg without assistance. It's these seemingly small bits of progress that are very encouraging.

2. I probably write this same tired old thing every year on or around July 4th: it's one of my least favorite holidays, not for what it stands for, but for how it's celebrated. Even before dogs came into my life, I could hardly wait for the 4th of July and the days surrounding it to end so that I wouldn't hear the noise of fireworks and firecrackers any longer.  The Deke and I are alike in this, so, this afternoon, to try to make the day go a little faster and to be in a relaxing place, we went up to Radio Brewing and I enjoyed sipping on some Hoppy Pilsner and we shared a platter of Mediterranean snacks.

One loud drunk guy was at Radio for a while ("You know, I've been this drunk before! I know what I'm doing!"), but before long he was ready to leave and one of Radio's workers gave him a ride home and things quieted down and I enjoyed the 80s pop music playing on the house sound system and really enjoyed the beer I ordered and the hummus and pita bread wedges and grilled eggplant and other snacks on the platter.

3. Back home, our twelve year old corgi, Charly, continued to tremble because of firecracker and fireworks noise around the neighborhood and the heavy fireworks display over at the resort parking lot hadn't even started yet. So, while the Deke sat on the deck and drank Prairie gin and watched The Godfather on her Chromebook, I sequestered myself in the bedroom with the dogs for about three and a half hours and, in time, Charly stopped trembling. By about 11 o'clock or so, the bangs, booms, and pops mercifully ended. I don't think my prayers for no noise today and tonight will be answered. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/03/18: Great News for Christy, Project Completed, The Deke to the Rescue

1. Christy had one of her best days since her surgery. Her physical therapist, Rusty visited early in the afternoon and decided that, starting next Monday, Christy will be mobile enough to go to the physical therapy clinic uptown three days a week. Not only that, but he encouraged Christy, as best she can, to walk around the house without her cane. While I was getting the ice therapy machine ready during Rusty's visit, he had Christy lift her leg and stretch it out so I could see her do something she was able to do for the first time today.

In addition, Christy, her local nurse, and the medical people in CdA all agreed that it had been too soon for Christy to begin to cut back on pain medication and so she had one of her better nights of sleep on Monday night leading into Tuesday. As an added bonus, Everett slept through the night as well and he was in much better shape and better spirits on his birthday today.

2. After many hours of transferring folders and files, and checking folders with folders inside them to make sure they all made the electronic journey onto my new external storage drive, I completed this project. Not all the sub-folders had made the trip, so I was very happy I took the time to double check them all. Today I listened to the Buddy Guy and the Acoustic Blues stations on Pandora and it helped relieve the tedium of this project.

3. The Deke went uptown to Radio Brewing this afternoon to meet with Paige. Paige brought a couple of knitted sweaters she'd been working on. She needed help correcting some problems. It turned out that Paige consulted the right knitter. It took a lot of time, but the Deke was able to help Paige get the problem figured out and back on the right track with her sweaters.  For any of you knitters reading this, I wish I could tell you what the deal was. All I know is that it was complicated, but well within the range of the Deke's expertise.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/02/18: Her Nurse Visits Christy, Uplifted by Vaughn Williams, Cool Weather

1. Christy's home care nurse visited her this morning and they decided it was not the right time to reduce her pain medication and this helped Christy a lot. She got in two good sessions of exercise and felt like she could expect to sleep better. Her friend Chris visited and brought dinner over this afternoon and Teresa visited her a little later. So, a day that started out uncomfortably got better as it progressed and when I went home this evening after helping Christy with ice machine therapy, she was in pretty good shape. I have every reason to believe that when Rusty, the physical therapist, comes to Christy's house on Tuesday, that he will be happy that Christy has exercised regularly and successfully.

2. I am making progress on my project transferring files and folders from one external drive to another and being able to do this tedious project in our new front room where I can listen to music while I work away makes it much more enjoyable. I had a particularly uplifting session this afternoon listening to Pandora's Ralph Vaughn Williams station.

3. I see that a scorcher is forecast for Thursday this week. When it arrives, it will bring to an end a long string of cool days here in Kellogg and these moderate temperatures have been a godsend for Christy and Everett's many gardens and containers of plants, for Christy's comfort in recovering, and for the Deke's and my comfort at home. We get reports from D.C. and New York about conditions there and, good grief, it's just terribly hot and humid.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/01/18: Tough Night and Better Day, Organizing, King Street Dinner Party

1. Christy did her exercises twice today, as she's been prescribed to do. Her days are better than her nights and so she's not getting very much or very good sleep at night. Her nurse comes in on Monday so they'll discuss this problem. She is thinking some ice machine therapy around bedtime might help her sleep at night and I'm guessing we'll give that a try tonight (Monday).

2. I am spending a lot of time these days sorting out and reorganizing folders of pictures on my hard drive and on my external storage drive. My external drive is old and I'm going to move everything from it to a new drive I just purchased. It's tedious work, sorting through my folders, but it's also fun to remember pictures I took, to see ones I'd forgotten about, and to begin to feel like soon I'll put other things aside that have been pre-occupying me and get the camera back in action again.

3. The Deke's ukulele playing pal Emma invited us to Wallace to a dinner party at her house. I honestly don't think I'd been on King Street since one day back in the summer of 1972 when King Street Hitters Jake and Doc invited me up one afternoon and we told stories, talked baseball, laughed, and couldn't get enough of the bass solo in Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance to the Music" ("I'm gonna add some bottom/So that the dancers just won't hide"). I had no idea up until that moment that any other guys on the Legion team, let alone in the Silver Valley, got fired up by Sly and the Family Stone. I thought I was alone in listening to that song and pulling out an air bass guitar and playing that funk bassline along with Larry Graham. I also used to hear stories about a very accomplished Wallace golfer, a little older than I was, who was reputed to have hit golf balls with his driver down the middle of King Street, a roadway narrower than any fairway I ever played on. I don't know if he really did this, but as we walked to the party, I imagined him doing so.

We had a fun dinner party. We made new acquaintances with Eric, Steve, C(K)athy, Dr. Steve, and Ginny and enjoyed a delicious steak and salmon dinner. The Deke and Emma broke out ukes and played some John Prine and their rendition of "Fever". I talked a lot with Dr. Steve about our shared history growing up in Kellogg, albeit about eight years apart. It was a good evening with a lot of good food, cheer, and gabbin'.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 06/30/18: Christy Rallied, Remember When at the Great Rose Lake, Yakkin' at the Lounge

1. Christy had had a rough night with pain, restlessness, and difficulty getting comfortable when she messaged me early this morning and requested some ice machine therapy. I'm glad I'm an early riser and that all I needed to do was get some shoes on and bolt right over. I did my best to quickly get the ice and water loaded into the machine and to treat Christy's knee. Christy left the ice on for half an hour and it seemed to help. At this point in the day, Christy wasn't sure that she'd be able to do her exercises, but the really good news is that she rallied later in the day and did them twice, with ice therapy right afterward. I wasn't around for her second exercise session, so the Deke stepped up after I gave her a brief tutorial and she prepared the machine and helped ice Christy's knee.

The day started rough for Christy, but as time progressed, so did she, and, from my perspective, the healing is moving in a positive direction. 

2. Around three o'clock I leapt into the Sube and jetted out to Kingston where I picked up Ed and we buzzed out to The Great Rose Lake where Jake, Carol Lee, and Alan's band, Remember When, was having a practice session in preparation for their performance at Alan's 50 year high school reunion. They opened the practice up to family and friends and at twenty-five or thirty people sat in lawn chairs, braved the wind and the rain, feasted on finger food, and enjoyed old favorite songs and other music longing for the good old days. Some people danced, some sang along quietly with different songs, and everyone enjoyed the music and having fun together.

3. Ed and I hung out with Remember When and the people who came to hear them for about two and half hours. I dropped Ed off at his house and bolted straight uptown where Don Knott and I had arranged to enjoy a couple of Mountain Fresh Rainier beers together at the Inland Lounge. It was a slow night at the Lounge so Cas and Don and I got in a lot of first-rate yakkin' about baseball, music, crazy stuff that happened in Kellogg when we were younger -- and I lived elsewhere --, and about Cas and Tracy's upcoming trip to L.A. to see the Pirates play.  As we were jawin' away, Tracy magically appeared with a pizza and Cas and Tracy shared slices with Don and me and we kept talkin' about life in the Silver Valley and Lewiston/Clarkson where Don lives.

By the way, the new furniture came today and we put two comfortable chairs in the front bedroom and I set up our Amazon Echo with the Bose speaker in this room and soon it'll be a room to not only listen to music, but to watch television and do stuff on a desktop computer, once we purchase the equipment.

So, I dropped Don off at Eddie Joe's where he was meeting up with Eddie Joe and Pat. I'd only had three beers all day long and that was enough and it had been kind of a long day, so I went on home and plopped down in one of those comfortable chairs in the former front bedroom and listened to Michael Franks' album The Art of Tea, let memories of things that happened in Spokane from 1976-79 and then 1982-84 wash over me while messing around online, and soon called it a night.