Friday, August 31, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/30/18: Paying Bills, Diving into New York City, Braised Rump Roast

1. It was a good day to get caught up on some family business: mostly paying bills and figuring out a few things.

2. I'm always looking for books to read or documentaries to watch about the history of New York City. Today I discovered that through Amazon Prime that I have access to the multi-part Ric Burns documentary series, The American Experience: New York. I watched the first part today and learned more about Alexander Hamilton, New York during the Revolutionary War, the Erie Canal, the settling of debt incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War,  the tension in the USA between city and country, and other matters than I had ever known before.

Instead of watching the second chapter today, I watched the first half of another fascinating documentary from the American Experience series entitled, The Rise and Fall of Penn Station. I had no idea why Penn Station was constructed, knew nothing about building train tunnels under the East River and Hudson River, or what kind of real estate transactions were required for the Pennsylvania Railroad to buy the land on which Penn Station was built. I'm at a point now in the film dealing with the rise of Penn Station and I'm eager to learn more about its fall and how it relates to the Penn Station I arrived at last week after descending underneath the Hudson River to arrive there.

3. I have sorely missed cooking in our kitchen. During the hot weather we experienced before our trip to New York, we were doing all we could to keep our stove/oven use to a minimum in order to keep the house cool.

Today I took got out the small rump roast I bought at Yoke's on Wednesday. I covered it with salt, ground peppercorns, garlic powder, and oregano and let it sit for over an hour. I returned to the kitchen and browned it on all sides, drained the fat and deglazed the Dutch oven with apple cider vinegar. Then I constructed a braise. I began with sliced onions and on them I sprinkled cinnamon and a little brown sugar. I then topped the onion slices with cilantro, celery leaves, chopped ginger, and chopped celery and over this pile I sprinkled oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper and covered in all with sliced mushrooms. I had chopped up garlic and ginger earlier and stuck these bits into the top of the rump roast.

I placed the roast on top of this pile and poured enough water over everything so that the roast was about one third submerged. I brought the water to a boil on the stovetop and then I set the oven at 275 degrees, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and let the braising of the roast get underway.

After a couple of hours, I removed liquid from the braise and used it to make Jasmine rice. After about three hours or so, I was satisfied that the meat was done, I let it rest for a while, put the liquid in a separate dish, and steamed crowns of broccoli.

The Deke and I loved this dinner. The meat was very flavorful, the liquid made a superb topping for the rice and the meat -- next time I do this, however, I might thicken the liquid with some corn starch -- and the broccoli paired really well with the meat.

Before fixing this roast, I tried to imagine what flavors I'd like to create, doing all I could to amp up the flavor of the rump roast. I might have been a bit too cautious. Next time I do this, I think I'll increase the amount of cinnamon and cumin I use. I got the cayenne pepper about right. I also would have enjoyed the ginger being more forward in this dish.

That the Deke and I enjoyed my experiment made me very happy.  So did all the fun I had putting it together. I have been longing for cooler weather for the very reason that I can be back at the stove and oven again having fun cooking.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/29/18:The Cooler Inland Northwest, Easy Afternoon, Radio Dinner and Early to Bed

1. I propelled myself out of bed around 7 a.m. and sashayed down to the Ramada Inn's breakfast buffet for coffee, croissant, scrambled eggs, hash browns, a sausage patty, and some gravy. After writing a blog post, I returned to the room to see how the Deke was doing and she was just about ready to leave.

We stepped outside the Ramada Inn and nearly cried. When we left Nyack and Valley Cottage, NY, the temperature was about 92 degrees, but my Weather Underground app said it felt like 104. It had been sweltering, soupy, steamy, thick, sticky, sultry, muggy, suffocating, and stifling in New York. Here in the Ramada Inn parking lot, the temperature was around 60 degrees, a breeze was kicking up, and we felt light, released, refreshed, and invigorated.

Later in the day, I read the New York Times coverage of how the oppressive heat in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York was affecting the tennis players in the U. S. Open currently underway.  The U.S. Open is played on hard courts. These courts absorb the heat. It can feel like 120 degrees on days like NY has had recently. The players are being given heat breaks. They change clothes. They cool off in air conditioned rooms -- if they are near one. They hydrate. Some ice themselves. It's brutal.

I don't see how they do it. I had to stop and rest regularly on Tuesday as I crawled the streets of Midtown Manhattan -- I was panting, sweating, and feeling the world around me begin to close in as the heat dominated my consciousness. Luckily, we ducked into air conditioned buildings, rode air conditioned Suburbans driven by Uber drivers, and took our time getting from one place to another. It was brutal.

2. Once home, we took it easy all day long. I napped. The most ambitious things I did were pick up our held mail and shop for some groceries at Yoke's. In the afternoon, I retired to the tv room and watched the first part of an episode of Wallander and got pretty caught up in wondering if the wily and determined Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) was going to figure out a missing woman case while attending a conference in South Africa.

3. I had big plans, now that the kitchen is cooler, to braise a rump roast for dinner, but the Deke said she wanted to eat dinner out. No problem. We tried to go to the Hill St. Depot, but couldn't get to it because of construction, so we went to Radio Brewing where I enjoyed a crab cobb salad with a glass of white wine.

We returned home just in time for me to tune in to one of my free MLB.TV baseball games and I watched the Pirates and Cardinals go at it for just about five innings, but I was suddenly overcome by sleepiness and, with the Pirates ahead 2-0 (a score that held), I went to bed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/28/18: Shakshuka at Art Cafe, Farewell, Easy Travel Day

1.  A little late in the morning, Melissa, the Deke, and I checked out of our Airbnb and told our host how much we enjoyed and appreciated the peace, quiet, and simplicity of staying in her home. We piled into the rental car and eased our way into Nyack where we had a delicious breakfast at Art Cafe. I was especially happy with the spicy tomato flavors in my order of shakshuka augmented with eggplant, an Israeli egg dish I've enjoyed making at home, but never ordered in a restaurant before.

2. Adrienne and Josh are moving into their new house this week in Valley Cottage, NY and the three of us buzzed up to see them on our way to the airport. (Jack is on a trip to Virginia with Nathan's mother to see his Uncle Mark.) Josh and Adrienne's  house is handsome, roomy, and sits on a lush lot with generous greenery all around them. It's a split level (I think that's what it's called) house with a deck extending from the kitchen and another off the downstairs family room. They've had it freshly painted with a calming and tasteful gray shade of paint and have recently had the reddish floors of the main floor redone. The lower level also has new carpeting.

We didn't stay long at Adrienne and Josh's. They are tired from all the wedding activity and from taking on this huge job of moving out of their apartment into their house. Our visit was sweet, though, and I look forward to learning more about how they are getting settled in and hope not too much passes before I might see them again.

3. We spent the rest of the day taking care of travel business: we turned in our rental car, found our respective terminals. waited for flights, and flew across the country from Newark to Spokane. I listened podcasts. We refreshed ourselves with a drink at the Denver airport. I had a cocktail made from smashed basil, simple syrup, Hendrick's gin, and lemon juice. We arrived in Spokane without event, the shuttle van picked us up, and we tumbled into bed after midnight -- 3 a.m. in the east. We were bushed and much relieved that our travels went so smoothly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/27/18: MoMA, Midtown Blow Out, Farewell Cocktails

Today Melissa and I reveled in a long, jam-packed day in Midtown Manhattan today, so, here's fair warning, this will be a long, jam-packed post about our day -- a post that will burst the seams of the Three Beautiful Things structure.

1. Melissa and I left the Airbnb around 7:30 and crawled across the Tappan Zee Bridge and arrived at the train station in Tarrytown. Melissa volunteered to use to pay for our parking meter and it was a bit confusing, but after a couple of phone calls, we felt confident that we had paid for our parking and that the rental car was going to get ticketed or towed. About twelve hours later, we discovered our confidence was well placed!

Our train glided south, first to Harlem/125th Street and then into the nearly lightless catacomb of Grand Central Terminal. We hopped off the train and a blast of hot, almost chunky air hit us and we joined the pack of other travelers and scurried toward the lighted and cooler environment of the main terminal itself.

Looking for coffee and a bite to eat, we slipped into the stunning Grand Central Market. We struck out looking for coffee, but I purchased and ate a pumpernickel bagel that not only slightly filled me, but gave me a burst of energy sufficient to join Melissa on the crammed streets of Midtown to find a life-saving Starbucks.

Even though it was only about 9:30, the morning was starting to get steamy and we could tell we were going to be in for a scorching and humid day. Nonetheless, we bucked up, and walked about ten blocks to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W 53rd Street. On Sunday, Josh had given us pass for the museum which allowed us to enter it earlier than non-members. I was immediately struck by how light and airy MoMA is. Melissa and I went our own ways, and I had a most stimulating tour of different galleries in the museum. I was relieved that the galleries were not packed with art, leaving plenty of space between the paintings and sculptures and mobiles and other pieces and that the gallery rooms were plenty large, able to accommodate the swelling numbers of people visiting.

I especially enjoyed the paintings I gazed at by Wyeth, Hopper, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, Pollack,  But I spent most of my visit seated in front of a video loop of four short films by Ernie Gehr entitled, "Greene Street", "Noon Time Activities", "Workers Leaving the Factory" and "Essex Street Market". Taken together, the films ran for just over an hour. "Greene Street" is in color, but the others are black and white, all shot in 16mm  sometime in the 1970s.

They are silent films. They depict everyday life in Manhattan with scenes occuring on the subway, at diner counters, at food, shoe, and newspaper stalls, outdoors in a blizzard, and in restaurants. "Greene Street" is meditation upon light and shadow as Gehr filmed the shadows cast by a source I'm unsure of on a brownstone building, making the solid brick structure seem ethereal, insubstantial. I loved watching these films. It was as if I were seeing a gallery of street photography on film as Gehr captured the various expressions of a wide variety of people as they ate, drank coffee, shined shoes, sold ware, conversed with others, and went about their daily lives.

2.  Melissa and I are both friends with Erik Martin from back in the days when Melissa and the Deke and Erik worked at the Oregon Festival of American Music, now located at the Shedd in Eugene. Erik now works as a Vice President for the David Lynch Foundation and his office is near Grand Central in Midtown. Erik met us at MoMa and we launched into a relaxing, but whirlwindish tour of Midtown. 

Here's what we did:

A. We crossed 54th Street at MoMA and entered Xi'an Famous Foods, a casual counter service restaurant serving the cuisine of the city of Xi'an located in northwest China. Want to know more about this local chain of New York City restaurants? Go here.  Xi'an Famous Foods on W. 54th street is like so many eating spots in Manhattan: long and narrow. It has no tables. Along each of the two walls is a counter with short stools. Erik ordered a ton of food at the counter. Xi'an specializes in hand-ripped biang-biang noodles, wide and very long noodles, served spicy on a plate with one's choice of meat or vegetable. We had cumin lamb noodles and plate of stewed oxtail noodles. Erik also ordered spinach dumplings and lamb dumplings, a divine green salad, an equally delicious cucumber salad and we shared a stewed pork burger made with flatbread.

I loved this food. It was a cornucopia of textures, spices, meats, vegetables, and flavors. I had never eaten Xi'an food before and I will leap at the opportunity, should I ever have another chance!

B. We staggered out of Xi'an Famous Foods and made our way to the Milk Bar Bakery where Erik insisted, to our delight, that we try a dish of Morning Cereal soft serve ice cream. The idea of this dessert is experience eating the last remains of one's cold cereal that is swimming in the last of the milk in the bowl. With nowhere to sit at the Milk Bar Bakery, we headed back outside where the steamy air began to melt our dessert, but we ate as much as we could with vanilla ice cream streaming down our forearms before giving up about half way through and disposing of what was left. It was a very tasty and refreshing, if slightly messy, treat.

C. Melissa wanted an authentic espresso drink, so we went into another deep and narrow establishment, the Zibetto Espresso Bar, staffed by Italian men dressed in white shirts and tiesand speaking in Italian, serving tiny cups of espresso and espresso drinks. Several customers were standing at a narrow counter opposite the espresso bar, sipping their drinks and Melissa joined right in while Erik and I waited a few minutes for her to finish.

D. Now, keep in mind, if you'd like, that in my several trips to NYC, I had never ventured north of Grand Central Terminal. My walks and my explorations had always been in the direction of Lower Manhattan, especially Greenwich Village.

So, everything we did today was brand new to me. I was really pumped when Erik suggested we make a shallow foray into Central Park. It was a workout because of the heat and the humidity, but we walked a short distance in the park and then found a shaded bench where we rested, continued the superb yakking that had marked this entire time together. Rested, we trudged over to the Plaza Hotel, hoping to have a cocktail, but that was not to be, so we gawked at its Old World splendor, hopped in an Uber and got out at St. Patrick's Cathedral for more reverential gawking and awe.

E. Our hope was to have cocktails at Middle Branch, a subterranean bar on 33rd St., but it was unceremoniously and mysteriously closed. So we went to the Cask across the street for a refreshing drink.

F. We then dog-paddled in the humidity down Lexington Street so we could stop in at the most awe-inspiring grocery store I've ever been in. It's called Kalustyan's and it's a store fully stocked with a dizzying variety of Indian and Mediterranean spices and teas and other global food items. I walked throughout the store in a trance, in a state of rapture, looking at the scores of curry powders, salts, beans, rices, teas, cooking utensils and other glorious stuff. I suddenly realized how very small my cooking horizons really are -- that's not a bad thing, to be totally humbled -- and found myself dreaming about living near such a shop and figuring out all the different meals I could cook with this stunning array of ingredients.

I almost asked one of the proprietors if he or she would consider opening a Kalustyan's in Kellogg, but thought maybe these busy shop owners didn't share my sense of the absurd. But, if I want to, I can shop online at this store.  If you'd like to check it out, just click here.

3. Erik, Melissa, and I agreed that we would go to a Norwegian bar in Grand Central Terminal and bid one another farewell with a cocktail or two to cap off our day. Evening was beginning to crawl in. Our walk up Lexington was slightly cooler. We ducked quickly into the Crysler building to look at the wood inlaid elevator doors because it was our understanding that Erik, Melissa, and the Deke's former employer at OFAM had ordered a refrigerator custom made with doors like these. I was dumbstruck.

We skipped on across the street and found The Bar in the Great Northern Food Hall and I ordered a Jackie Kennedy Daiquiri that featured an almond liqueur and then an apple cider and ginger drink with rosemary.

Erik, Melissa, and I continued our superb yakking and after an hour or so decided that we need to end our time together. We toasted each other farewell, embraced, hoped we would see each other again soon and that the Deke would be a part of our party next time (she spent today with Adrienne).

Melissa and I found our train back to Tarrytown, were relieved that the rental car had neither been ticketed nor towed, and returned to Piermont and the Airbnb where the Deke awaited us and we gabbed for about an hour, each reviewing our day.

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/18: Bagels, Naps, Beer and Dinner

1. We slept in. When we sprang back to life, Melissa, the Deke, and I meandered back to Josh and Adrienne's apartment for a Sunday bagel get together. Our travel and three straight nights of socializing was finally catching up to me and I was tired, barely able to converse with people and, in fact, at one point, I slipped into the basement and took my first nap of the day.

2. Melissa stayed in Nyack, but the Deke and I returned to our room in the middle of the day and we both crashed.

3. Late in the afternoon, the Deke and I rallied. We picked up Melissa at Adrienne and Josh's and motored north a few miles to a splendid brewery (District 96 Beer Factory) adjoined to an equally splendid eatery, The Burger Loft. I limited myself to a single 12 oz pour of one of District 96's Double IPAs, a juicy delight called Mother of All Bombs and ordered a delicious crab cake salad, a bowl of crispy greens, onions, and other vegetables with a flat crab cake on top. I enjoyed it a lot.

Melissa, the Deke, and I had fun yakkin' at The Burger Loft, even though we were all fading a bit, and soon we hit the road, traveled from New City, NY to Piermont and settled in for the night.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/18: Hairdos and Forgotten Shoes, Gorgeous Wedding, Reception and More Partying

1. Melissa, the Deke, and I piled into the rental car first thing this morning and rocketed over to the JLK Salon in Nanuet, NY for pre-wedding hair styling -- well, Adrienne, Molly, the Deke, and the rest of the women got dolled up. Melissa and I went on a coffee run to the Fairway Market and then I slipped away and had another coffee and a chocolate croissant at Starbucks.

We buzzed back to Adrienne and Josh's apartment in Nyack to iron our wedding clothes, change into them, and saunter to the nearby Grace Episcopal Church. Suddenly, I was gripped by the chilling realization that I had left my wedding shoes at the Airbnb in Piermont. Luckily, I was now very familiar with the route between Nyack and Piermont and I efficiently blasted back to our room, grabbed my shoes, and returned to Nyack in plenty of time to get dressed for Adrienne and Josh's wedding.

2. The wedding was a gorgeous ceremony, made so by the Episcopalian liturgy, the sun streaming through the stained glass of the old red brick church, Derek's stirring trumpet solo, Hiram's magnificent euphonium solo, the hymns, and the priest's uplifting homily. Jack performed his duty as best man with dignity and the other children were lovely as flower girls and ring bearers. Adrienne was radiant and Josh was both handsome and emotionally moved by the beauty of marrying Adrienne. It was a perfect wedding.

3. Afterward, the wedding party filed a couple of blocks to the Hudson House of Nyack for cocktails, dinner, and wedding cake. The room echoed with the exciting chatter and laughter of the guests continuing the celebration of Adrienne and Josh's wedding. The Deke was among those who gave a short talk about Adrienne, as was Molly.

The Deke and I were worn out after the reception and returned to our room to sleep and rest for a couple of hours. We knew that Brian and his kids and Molly and Hiram and their kids, and Jack, and Patrick and John were all gathered at Growler and Gill, so we joined them and then ended the night outside on the lawn with a cooler of beer at the DoubleTree Hotel in Nanuet. I laid off the beer and joined in multiple conversations, but before long the Deke, Melissa, and I gave in to our fatigue at the end of a long day and buzzed back to our rooms.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/18: Morning Relaxation, Getting the Party Prepared, Rehearsal Party

1. Our Airbnb house has a secluded back deck. Melissa sat our there first and she spotted deer walking along a trail below. I had a couple cups of coffee in the cool quiet of the morning with Melissa and before long the Deke joined us and we made some plans for the day.

2. Adrienne had errands to run and there were nails to be done. I've lost track of who all went to have manicures and pedicures in preparation for the wedding. The Deke and I joined Josh to keep an eye on kids and Josh started getting things prepared for the party that he and Adrienne were hosting after the wedding rehearsal.

3. The Deke and I returned to our room, relaxed, and then returned to Josh and Adrienne's after picking up some paper towels and ice cream. When we arrived, the party was well underway. Caterers had delivered brisket, pulled pork, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw. Many people contributed a wide variety of beers. It was a merry event and included, among others, Josh's parents and their spouses, the Brian Diedrich family minus Ben and Tana, a good representation of the Deke's cousins, several members of the Hennessey family, Josh's sister and husband and children, and more. The food was superb, the mood of the party was festive, and beer drinkers seemed to enjoy having such a copious amount of beers to choose from.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/18: Melissa's in NJ and NY, Charming Airbnb, Pizza Party

1. After lounging around at Sally's, eating some oatmeal, drinking some coffee, reading some news, I cleaned up and, soon after two o'clock, the Deke and I hit the road for Newark Liberty International Airport and arrived very shortly before Melissa magically appeared. She climbed in our rental car and we were off for Piermont and Nyack, NY.

2. We arrived at the Airbnb we are renting from Carol, friendly woman about our age, who lives in a lovely old house at the end of a quiet and private wooded street overlooking the Hudson River. I'm not sure who all is living here right now. Two granddaughters were visiting. She mentioned, I think, a son who works at a restaurant and lives here. I'll probably learn more as our stay continues. The Deke and I have one room with a couch and chair and double bed and Melissa has another room. If the trees weren't so leafy, we could see the Hudson River. It's a charming location. It looks like we really lucked out.

3. Soon we headed to Adrienne and Josh's apartment and met up with Molly, Olivia, David, and Anna and with Jack. Adrienne and Jack were out to dinner with Josh's father and his wife (Josh's stepmother). Molly ordered pizzas and salads. John and Patrick arrived. Then the pizzas came. We dove into our dinner and soon Adrienne returned, followed by Josh. Adrienne and Josh will be moving out of this apartment into their new home on Monday. I have many fond memories of the trips the Deke and I used to make from Greenbelt, MD to Nyack and we always stayed in this apartment. Memories of driving from Nyack to Cooperstown, Nyack to Middleboro, MA and Cape Cod, Nyack to Yankee Stadium, and Nyack to Manhattan and of train rides into Manhattan all came back to me. It was always fun to be with Jack and Adrienne in this place, to knock around Nyack and Nanuet and Pearl River, and I've missed it since we moved to Kellogg. I feel very fortunate that we got to return for this wedding weekend and a little beyond.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/22/18: Penn Station Soup, Scott Shirk at O'Hara's, Wandering Manhattan with Scott and Cate

1.  Sally gave me a ride to the Metuchen train station where I bought my New Jersey Transit tickets and vaulted onto the train for Penn Station, New York. I started reading East of Eden. I arrived at Penn Station and leaped off the train into a simmering pot of pea soup. It was as if all of the summer New York City heat was trapped underground at Penn Station. I looked left and right and saw the sign I wanted to see directing me to the 34th and Penn MTA station hosting the number 1 train and walked through a maze of underground hallways to reach my destination. I bought a subway pass, made my way to the correct platform, and, before I knew it, I was on my way to the lower reaches of Manhattan.

2.  I got off the train at Rector Street, took a few minutes to look at a map on my phone to make sure I was oriented, and walked about two tenths of a mile up to O'Hara's Restaurant and Pub. I walked past Trinity Church and could see the World Trade Center looming over this part of town and remembered all I learned last time I was in O'Hara's, with Ed and Mike, of the terrible damage O'Hara's had suffered on Sept. 11, 2001 and how the place recovered.

I sat at the bar, ordered a bottle of Dirt Wolf, and waited for Scott Shirk to arrive. He sauntered in, joined me in drinking a Dirt Wolf of his own and our afternoon and early evening in Manhattan was underway. We had a lot to talk about over the next several hours: theater, music, movies, travel, some of the latest developments in our lives, and a beer at O'Hara's got us off to just the right start.

3. Scott and I left O'Hara's and started walking north on Broadway, talking, admiring buildings, getting hungrier. Scott spied a small diner, called Square Diner, in TriBeCa, and we slipped in where Scott ate a stack of pancakes and a couple of eggs and I enjoyed a Cuban sandwich and fries. By now our conversation veered deeply into music and musicians, with special emphasis on The Band and Little Feat. We finished up and continued to walk north and a little west to The Malt House in the Village.

The Malt House was quiet, except for crappy house music, which we ignored, but had to shout over to hear each other talk sometimes, and I introduced Scott to Sierra Nevada's latest Grose, Otra Vez (which made an appearance on tequila night at Beer Club). Meanwhile, Cate swept into the bar and joined Scott and me. Her arrival made me very happy. I hadn't seen Cate since I officiated Scott and Cate's wedding in Savannah back in October of 2016. She joined right in, and elevated the premium yakkin' Scott and I had been engaged in for the last several hours. I ordered a small pour of Firestone Walker's Leo vs Ursus Doublus. We finished our beers and headed out.

Next stop was Generation Records, a used record shop on Thompson St. For the first time in many, many years I flipped through record albums and looked at used cds and let the thrash metal house music occupy me, a welcome relief from the junk that had been playing at The Malt House. Punk over junk.

Refreshed by combing through albums and cds, we strolled half a block to The Half Pint, endured the exact same junk music playing on the house system here as at The Malt House, and each ordered our last beer. I'd had a beer with a Latinate name from Gun Hill Brewing of the Bronx back in April of 2017, and now I know that Gun Hill is brewing a series of beers under the name E. Pluribus Lupulin. I drank a pint can of E. Pluribus Lupulin VII, Vox Populi (I think -- I wish I'd written it down). Whether it was VII or VIII, it was a very interesting and enjoyable beer.

Scott, Cate, and I ended our evening at Washington Square Park where we listened to a jazz combo, watched jugglers and guy on a unicycle, listened to a man shouting at no one, and saw a generous number of people relaxing on benches or milling around (like us), all enjoying the lovely August dusk.

Scott, Cate, and I meandered over to the 4th Street subway station. I headed for the A or C Train and they headed for the train to Brooklyn. I arrived at a cooler part of Penn Station, followed all the the signs to New Jersey Transit, discovered that the train I wanted to ride was boarding, scurried to the correct platform, got on with plenty of time to spare, and rode back to Metuchen. I ate the half a sandwich I carried out from Square Diner and Sally picked me up at the station.

It was my favorite kind of day in NYC -- great conversations, schedule-less meandering, hanging out near the Village, drinking a couple of East Coast beers, and a couple of West Coast beers, and soaking in the vitality of the place. The day was made all the more enjoyable because the weather was moderate, not a humid scorcher. I'd say my entire eight hour or so visit was perfect.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/21/18: Flying to NJ, Listening to *Caliphate*, Pizza and Wings and Beer at Sally's

1. The Deke and I spent the day high above the USA, flying from Spokane to Denver and then from Denver to Newark, NJ.  We had a delay in Denver when someone realized the toilets on board needed servicing and our flight to Newark took longer than advertised because air control routed the plane into Canada to avoid a bumpy low pressure system over the Great Lakes. None of this was a problem. We arrived in Newark just fine, retrieved our bags, took the AirTrain to Enterprise and picked up our rental car, and drove to Sally's house in Metuchen, NJ, about thirty minutes from the airport.

2. The slightly longer flight meant that I had time to listen to all ten chapters of the chilling New York Times podcast, Caliphate. The series is an audio version of work done over the years by Times foreign correspondent, Rukmini Callimachi, whose reporting has focused on Al Qaeda and ISIS. In this podcast, she works to get at reasons why men and women join ISIS and she explores ISIS's recruiting methods and, thanks to documents she recovered, some of the inner workings of the ISIS bureaucracy. Much of the podcast is very disturbing with graphic descriptions of executions and rape, among other horrors. While difficult to listen to, I deeply admire Rukmini Callimachi's work as a journalist and her absolute commitment to verification and corroboration of stories she recorded from men who'd been in ISIS. If you are interested in listening to all or parts of this podcast, just click here.

3. Once we arrived at Sally's, Sally broke out bottles of three of our favorite East Coast Beers: Flying Dog's The Truth, Victory's Dirt Wolf, and Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. The Deke and I divided one bottle of each between ourselves and dove into the fantastic dinner Sally brought home from Anthony's: a superb eggplant pizza, chicken wings to die for, and a crispy, fresh green salad. We relaxed on Sally's screened in patio area and before long I hit the hay, tired after a long day of travel and my sustained dive into the deep end of the pool of contemporary history.

Three Beautiful Things 08/20/18: Johnny on the Run (and Margot, Too), Trip Prep, Remington's at the Ramada

1. This morning,  after I had a check engine scan run at Silver Valley Tire Center, I watched the third part of the Johnny Worricker trilogy, Salting the Battlefield. It's a thrilling story, but the thrills aren't built on car chases and things blowing up. Rather, it's a match of wits between the agents of MI5 and Johnny and Margot, on the run in Europe and the Prime Minister whose very political career is in peril. In this movie, I enjoyed seeing even more of Bill Nighy's range as an actor and I thought, once again, the screenwriting was sharp.

2. The Deke and I got our bags packed, things around the house straightened up, the dogs groomed, and ourselves fed with sandwiches from Subway before we took off for Spokane with a brief stop at Kohl's in the Spokane Valley so the Deke could buy another piece for the outfit she's wearing at Adrienne and Josh's wedding.

3. We got checked in at the Ramada Inn, paid to park the Sube there for a week, and meandered down to Remington's Lounge. I enjoyed a very tasty and perfectly toasted No-Li Amber Ale -- it was one of the most satisfying ambers I've every had -- with a shot of Jameson's Irish Whiskey. The Deke and I ordered a delicious crab artichoke dip with toasted flatbread. We loved winding down in this lounge at the Ramada. In fact, I loved it so much that I capped off our evening with a Jameson and ginger ale. We returned to our room. I dove straight into bed, knowing that our 4 a.m. wake up alarm would be sounding in seven hours.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/19/18: Getting Packed, Back to Johnny Worricker, Sunday Family Dinner

1. We are taking off for Spokane and an overnight at the Ramada Inn on Monday evening, but I wanted to make sure I have things in order and pretty much packed my suitcase today. It helped a lot that I did my laundry on Saturday.

2. I watched more Johnny Worricker today. I finished watching the episode "Page Eight" and then watched the entirety of "Turks and Caicos". I enjoyed the intrigue, David Hare's screenwriting, and very much enjoyed watching Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Winona Ryder, Christopher Walken, and the rest of the cast bring this story to life. Later in the evening, I watched the first 30-40 minutes of the concluding episode of this trilogy, "Salting the Battlefield", and am eager to finish it.

It's odd -- and must come with age. I watched all three of these episodes back in March and April of 2015, but watching them this weekend, it's as if I never saw them before. I recognize the characters, but I have completely forgotten the storyline. It's as if I am watching this whole thing for the first time.

3. We had a relaxing and delicious family dinner tonight. Christy started us off with a Keto lemonade cocktail which was refreshing and delicious and then Carol presented us with Ronde de Nice zucchini stuffed with elk burger and Italian sausage and featuring a batch of Marcella Hazen tomato sauce along with onion, green pepper, and garlic. She also made a delicious green salad and Paul and Carol teamed up on grilling and dressing chopped chard. For dessert, Carol made a very good Keto chocolate zucchini cake. Our meal was graced by a cool and comfortable evening. There wasn't too much smoke in the air, so we could enjoy our dinner outside on Carol and Paul's patio.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/18/18: *Hoosiers* Again!, Johnny Worricker Again, Steaks and the Lounge Again

1. I had hoped that the MLB.TV baseball game provided for me today might be a day game, but it wasn't. I was in the mood to watch something athletic on the television and suddenly I thought, "Even though it's not men's basketball season, Hoosiers is a movie for all seasons" and so I watched it. I'm sure I've watched Hoosiers more than a dozen times in my life and every single time I come away deeply admiring Gene Hackman's performance as Norman Dale. Hackman completely embodies Norman Dale's drive, the fire in him that can warm and motivate his players or burn out of control and cause harm, his love for his players, and Norman Dale's fierce pride in his coaching principles, his unwillingness to be bullied by the parents and citizens of Hickory.

The movie tells an implausible David and Goliath high school basketball story, it features an exaggerated music soundtrack, but I have never once cared if the story was plausible or if the script and the soundtrack laid things on a little thick because of the heart of the actors playing the team members,  the relationships Norman Dale develops with his players, with the town drunk, former basketball star, Shooter (Dennis Hopper), with the townspeople of Hickory, and with the teacher and acting high school principal, Myra Fleener (Barbara Hershey), and because of the beauty of the landscape of Indiana during basketball season the movie returns to repeatedly.   I love Hoosiers. It brightened my day and uplifted my heart and soul to watch it again.

2. Later in the day, my television viewing went in a different direction. I discovered that the Johnny Worricker trilogy, starring Bill Nighy, was available via Amazon Prime. I first watched these three shows back in Maryland in March 2015 and, today, I suddenly thought that I'd like to watch them again. I enjoy Bill Nighy as an actor. His style is usually very contained with occasional eruptions of intensity. He plays Johnny Worricker as an intelligence agent for Britain's M15. The stories in this trilogy, beginning with Page Eight are convoluted, with many strands of plot. Worricker's work with M15 is made complex by the internal politics of the organization and the agency's relationship to the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and members of the government on Downing Street. Further deepening Johnny Worricker's story is his relationship with his ex-wife, his lovers, past and present, and his daughter from whom he is often estranged. I didn't quite make it through Page Eight today and look forward to diving back into it on Sunday.

3.  After the Deke and I savored sirloin steak topped with grilled onions and mushrooms, we vaulted into the Sube and hightailed it up to the Inland Lounge for a couple of cocktails, some yakkin' with Cas and Tracy, and some knitting (I didn't knit. The Deke did.)

Down at the far end of the bar, Lounge regular Charlie had his smartphone connected to the Lounge's wireless jukebox and Charlie turned out to be a superb Lounge dj, playing a variety of blues, jazz, and a little rock n' roll. From time to time, I glanced down at Charlie as he slapped the bar rhythmically. I was especially impressed with his John Bonham work as Led Zeppelin played "Bring it on Home". I actually had a moment myself during this tune of imagining myself being Jimmy Page, but decided not to play my air guitar. We topped off our evening at the Lounge most satisfyingly when Cas offered the Deke and me some slices of Yoke's pizza that were left over from a pie he and Tracy had purchased earlier. It will be fun to be in Nyack, NY next Friday and Saturday, but we will miss our weekend visits to and hours of relaxation at the Lounge.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/17/18: Sprinkler System Repair, Lunch with Linda and Wayne, Beer Club and the Lounge

1. Mom had an automatic sprinkler system installed several years ago in the front and back yards and, a while back, Paul helped me get the system started and discovered water pooling up where all the valves are located underground. Today, a man from Artscape came out and fixed the leak and got the system running again, a great relief, especially because we will be gone for a little over a week starting on Monday.

2. When I worked at LCC, I became very good friends with our division coordinator Linda Schantol. Yesterday, I received a message from Linda asking me if I'd be in town today so that she, her husband, Wayne, and I could have lunch. I arranged for us to meet at Best Shots -- they are high level sports fans and I thought they'd enjoy the way Best Shots is decorated with Gonzaga basketball wallpaper and other sports related stuff. We had a great lunch together and yakked about the Ducks' upcoming football season, about people from LCC we know in common, the vacation she and Wayne are on, the Deke's new job, and life in Kellogg and Eugene. I loved seeing Linda and Wayne and it was particularly fun to host Eugene friends in Kellogg. A year ago the Deke's bandmate, Laura, visited us in Kellogg and this was the first time one of my Eugene friends visited. It got me very excited.

3. This afternoon's Beer Club was epic. I had bought a box of all kinds of beers brewed in Oregon when we were in Eugene. Among others, I bought beer from Block 15, Ft. George, Breakside, and Deschutes and we sampled a milk shake IPA (not from Oregon), a brut IPA, Ft. George's 3-Way IPA, the Black Butte Porter XXXth Anniversary special release, and a hazelnutty and creamy Imperial Stout from Breakside. Rod and Patti brought an IPA from Breakside and a bottle of Ninkasi's Vanilla Oatis.  It was a great crowd tonight: Shawn, Teresa, Christy, Rod, Patti, the Deke, and I enjoyed drinking 4-6 oz pours of these beers while munching on Hoody peanuts, pretzel buns with lox and cream cheese, vegetable slices and a killer dip that Teresa made, and other things.

It was really fun to have IPAs in the house that were balanced and not so bitter and that some in our party who didn't like IPAs before really enjoyed.

Christy, Everett, Patti, Rod, the Deke and I went uptown later and met at the Inland Lounge where we got together with Jake and Carol Lee and later with Harley and Candy. Toward the end of the night we met a couple from Spokane, Bob and Sarah, who were in town for today's Beer Festival at Silver Mountain and had a great time yakkin' with them.

After having so much fun visiting friends in Eugene, it was really fun to come home to such a great Beer Club night and a great time at the Lounge with friends in Kellogg. It was epic.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/16/18: The Center Holds, Leaving Eugene, Meal Stop in Boardman

1. One year ago today, on August 16, 2017, Mom died shortly after 10 p.m. at the nursing home across the street. I had been with her that day until around 9:00 and, as I left, I talked for a few minutes with one of the nurses, Dawn, who had worked for many years as a hospice nurse. She told me that Mom had probably lost all of her sense except for her hearing. Fluids were gathering inside Mom, swelling her arms and wrists and hands. Mom had been asleep for several days and, that day she died, we all agreed it would help her to have her dentures removed, but as a last stand against her helplessness, Mom clinched her jaws whenever someone tried to take her dentures out. Finally, though, a CNA who had a special denture removing skill slipped Mom's dentures out and told us how she'd learned to do this so well when her grandfather (I think) had died. Carol and Paul came to Mom's room that evening and sang hymns to her until about 10:00. Soon after they left, she died. We all returned to bear witness to her death until the pastor came from the funeral home to take her away.

I remember what a gorgeous August evening that was. The days were shortening. It was hot during the day, but as the Deke and I made our way over to the nursing home, I remember how comforting the cool air felt and how clear it felt outside. I remember being comforted by the slight shift going on from summer to autumn and somehow I was reassured by the fact that even as Mom's life was impermanent, the cycles of the seasons remained undaunted and continued.

Tonight, the evening air in Kellogg was very similar to what I experienced a year ago. The Deke and I arrived home from Eugene and joined Carol, Paul, Christy, and Everett in Christy and Everett's back yard and we raised our glasses of gin and tonic in a toast to Mom's life and, I suppose, to the way we have all lived our lives as a family in the year since Mom died. We have remained true to Mom's commitment to the unity of our family by having weekly family dinners and helping each other out in any number of ways.

Mom was the center of our family life for over twenty years after Dad died. Before that, the two of them were the center of our family. With Mom's death, the center continues to hold. The three of us siblings, all together, are the center now and we do all we can to be faithful to the legacy of togetherness Mom and Dad put into place many, many years ago.

2. Our day ended in Kellogg, but it began in Eugene. The Deke checked out a couple of apartments in a triplex this morning, I tidied up the cottage we had stayed in, and the two of us had a 9:30 coffee at Pam and Michael Dane's house before we hit the road. We grabbed a snack at Starbucks on our way out of town and were on the road sometime around 11:00.

We made pretty good time driving from Eugene to Kellogg in large part because the traffic was moving steadily through Portland. We didn't experience any long slow downs or stoppages and the driving conditions from Portland all the way to Kellogg were ideal.

3. We stopped in Boardman at the C & D Drive In, home of the Bozo Burger. I wasn't feeling particularly Bozo-ish, nor was the Deke, so we passed on the Bozo Burger and settled into a simple meal. The Deke ate a hot dog and I ate a regular burger and small order of fries.  It was a stop along the way beautiful only in how unremarkable it was and it gave us chance to stretch our legs and a sit somewhere other than the Sube.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/15/18: Lunch with Dan, The Deke Got the Job, More Time with LCC Friends

1. What a day! The Deke leapt in the Sube and buzzed out to Charlemagne Elementary French Immersion School to interview for a third grade position, replacing a teacher who will start her maternity leave in November. In the meantime, I walked an old and familiar route from West Broadway and Polk to the Bier Stein on Willamette. At the Bier Stein, I met Dan Armstrong. Dan and I were hired at the same time at LCC in the fall of 1990 and began teaching full time at the college in January of 1991. We became fast friends back in 1991, arranged to have our offices next door to each other in the early 2000s, and had wore a path between our offices, going back and forth to talk about everything from our teaching to movies to spirituality to our lives at home to poetry and all sorts of other things. Over lunch, we picked right up where we last left off in July of 2017, and once again talked about all sorts of things: family, movies, current politics, our good friends at LCC, health challenges, and the documentary film work of Ken Burns, to name a few of our topics. It was a heartwarming and invigorating lunch and I look forward to my next visit to Eugene so Dan and I can have a beer, eat some lunch, and get another fine session of yakkin' underway.

2. While we were eating lunch, I received a much anticipated text message from the Deke: "Got the job 😄."

Now our lives make another change. The Deke will start looking for a place to live from November-June of 2018-19 and we'll start making some decisions about when I'll travel to Eugene and when the Deke will come up to Kellogg. The Deke taught at Charlemagne Elementary from 2008-2014. She knows many of the other teachers and the principal at the school and enjoys them a lot.  She knows how things work at Charlemagne. It looks like a great opportunity for the Deke to have 8-9 months of classroom teaching at a place where she can be creative, have fun, and be excited about her work.

3. I carried the Deke's great news with me from the Bier Stein on my walk downtown where I had stimulating conversation over coffee at Perugino with Nate, Margaret, and Michael. As is always the case, our conversation covered a lot of territory as we looked back, looked at the present, and looked ahead. Margaret used to teach a course in Detective Fiction and I especially enjoyed listening to her insights about James Lee Burke (I just finished his first Dave Robicheaux novel). I also very much enjoyed a discussion we had about the movie, Lost in Translation and sharing enthusiasm around the table for our shared love of Bill Murray as an actor. I left our time together glad that I taught at LCC the many years I did -- they were very good years in the English Department and it was a superb time in the classroom at Lane. I was dismayed to hear that things are currently less fun and less convivial where I used to work and I had a feeling that recurs that I retired just in the nick of time.

Michael gave me a ride from downtown to Lynn Tullis' house and we enjoyed a beer together and we had our own version of recounting our teaching time at LCC and I found out that they were referred to derisively by a newer faculty member as the "Kumbaya years" one day in a faculty meeting. I'm happy I got to experience those 10-12 years of Kumbaya and I'm proud of whatever I contributed to whatever harmony existed among us. Lynn and I talked joyously about how that great feeling of mutual respect and togetherness was alive at the reunion party at Pam and Michael's back in June.

At about 5:30, Lynn and I headed over to Billy Mac's where the Deke awaited us and Kathleen Horton joined us. I was elated that Cathy was working the floor. I hadn't seen her since we left Eugene four years ago and now I know she works the floor on Wednesday nights. Billy Mac himself was also in the house and I enjoy our brief handshake and his hearty greetings and the fact that he checked in to make sure we'd had a good meal. Our dinner conversation was intense and stimulating as we discussed the Deke's return to Eugene, books, movies, and the political climate.

The Deke and I ended our night with a quick stop at the Bier Stein. At lunch I'd had about 12 oz. of Oakshire's Hazy Double IPA called Hop Envy and I hoped the keg might still have a few ounces so the Deke could enjoy some. I'd loved it. But, alas, the Hop Envy keg had kicked and we each had different beers -- I had 4.5 oz of Firestone Walker's hop shower Leo vs Ursus: Doublus and the Deke had a very short pour of pFriem's Mango Milkshake, a milkshake IPA and enjoyed it a lot.

We returned to our cottage and fell almost immediately asleep.

What a day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/18: Dekin' with The Deke, ThaiHop and 16 Tons, Claim 52 and Bluegrass at Sam Bond's

1. When the Deke and I decided to leave Eugene back in 2014, we kept telling ourselves, tongue in cheek, that we were the stupidest people around -- we'd tell each other than no one leaves Eugene. This town has everything we love: longtime and really good friends, excellent food both in grocery stores and in eateries, lively music of every genre, a plentiful variety of beers and tap houses and breweries, terrific yarn stores, convenience -- nothing is very far from anything else, a wealth of trees and flowers, and superb libraries and parks. But, we love that we left here and lived in Maryland for three years, that we've settled down in Kellogg, and that we can visit Eugene.

I decided a week or so ago that I wanted to have as much time today with the Deke as was possible. In all my other visits to Eugene, I've either come by myself or the Deke and I have gone our separate ways doing things. I got up this morning and strolled over to New Frontier Market and bought myself a paper cup of their reliably strong and dark coffee -- they have the same coffee available now in the same push top thermos containers that has been there for about twenty-five years -- and I bought some day old pastries. I enjoyed the cool Eugene morning by sitting in front of the market and watched the neighborhood at 8th and Van Buren start to wake up.

The Deke looked at a studio apartment at 9:00 and I stayed in our cottage and relaxed. The Deke returned and took a quick trip to a resale store with Ritta and found a pair of wedding shoes for eight dollars! She returned and we piled into the Sube and headed out to Kohl's in Springfield and I bought a new pair of black shoes for Adrienne's wedding and between Kohl's and Target, the Deke bought some cooler clothes for comfort in the current Eugene heat wave.

2. We decided we were hungry for Thai food and so we went to Ta Ra Rin (a.k.a. ThaiHop -- it's located in a former IHOP building) and the Deke settled into a bowl of beef noodle soup and I ate a crab stir fry. I needed to do some shopping at 16 Tons for Oregon beer, mead, and cider as Beer Club offerings and the Deke wanted to browse down at Cozy, a yarn store on Fifth. Slowly and deliberately, I scanned the shelves and cooler at 16 Tons and bought a box of Beer Club libations, and sat down with a short pour of pFriem's Hazy IPA. Soon the Deke rejoined me and we had the good fortune, before long, of being joined by Tim Shaner who had a lot on his mind about teaching English composition and I listened with great interest as he updated me on what's happening these days in that world.

3. The Deke had a 4 o'clock appointment at Cornucopia with her former teaching partner at Charlemagne, so I dropped her off and went to the cottage to put the Beer Club box in the fridge and to grab a quick nap. The Deke and I made plans to meet up at 6 o'clock with Jay and Sherri at Claim 52 Kitchen. Am I ever glad we did! Claim 52 brews adventurous beer -- hazy IPAs, milkshake IPAs, and a variety of other styles -- and they feature what might be called Korean fusion food. I nursed a couple of short pours of beer and I had a plate of three tasty spicy, subtly sour and pickle-y Beef Bulgogi Tacos and two hoisin bbq-y, quietly sweet Pork Belly Steamed Buns. We had fun yakkin' more with Sherri and Jay and were beaming when we left Claim 52 Kitchen.

The Troxstar is painting his house after work and is ready to go out for a beer or two when it gets dark. I suggested we walk down to Sam Bond's Garage and take in the Tuesday Bluegrass Jam.

We arrived and inside Sam Bond's was sweltering and the music hadn't started, so we each grabbed a beer -- mine was a refreshing and crisp Kolsch -- and sat out on the porch looking out on the buzz of activity on Blair Blvd. Some time after 9:30 or so, the jam got underway and we slipped back inside where the cool marine air of evening was beginning to take over and we plopped down at a table and spent an hour or so listening to Sean Shanahan host/lead the collection of guitar, dobro, harmonica, washboard, bass, and mandolin (and other instruments) players in a bunch of bluegrass, old-timey, and rockabilly instrumentals, sung songs, and breakdowns.  Back in 2014, not long before we left Eugene, I had discovered this jam in the spring and popped in a couple or three times to listen and it was among my favorite things to do in Eugene when I had the energy/staying power to stay up past my bedtime. That joy and pleasure all came back to me tonight. If the Troxstar hadn't had to get up to go to work in the morning, I'm certain we would have stayed until the end of this soaring and mirthful jam.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/18: Driving to Eugene, Jay and Sherri at 16 Tons, Pour House with the Troxstar

1. Through the spring of 2014, the  Deke used taught at Charlemagne Elementary, the Eugene, OR school district's French immersion school. When we were in Eugene back in June, the Deke attended the school's end of the year party and teachers she used to work with informed her that a maternity leave position would be opening up in November and they strongly encouraged her to apply.

After much deliberation, the Deke decided to apply and, on Wednesday, she will interview for the position.

So, we drove from Kellogg to Eugene today. We stopped in CdA for fuel and coffee, made rest stop near Sprague, had a sandwich and fueled up again in The Dalles, had a fairly easy time getting through the Portland metro area -- the traffic was a little syrupy, but moved steadily about 90% of the time -- and arrived in Eugene at 6:00.

2. We drove straight to 16 Tons where we'd made plans to meet Jay and Sherri. We greeted our friends,  plopped down, studied the tap list, and made quick friends with a couple of very friendly and informative millennial-aged beer lovers at the counter and kept checking in with them all evening about what they were drinking and what beers they were taking home. The tap list featured several beers from Pipeworks Brewing in Chicago which we sampled and I had another beer from Sunriver and ended the night with Russian River's Consecration. We had a superb time yakkin' with Jay and Sherri, talking about our kids, about baseball in Chicago, and all sorts of other things. It was a stellar way to start our brief stay in Eugene.

3. We rented an Airbnb cottage from longtime friend Ritta Dreier, located right across the street from where the Deke lived when we started messing around together twenty-one years ago. We lugged our stuff in from the Sube and I immediately bolted out the door and wandered a few blocks to the Falling Rain Pour House to meet up with the Troxstar. I ordered a short pour of Juniper Rye ale and when the Troxstar arrived we got right into some excellent yakkin' about family, painting his house, home ownership, baseball, and his upcoming trip with Marla to Scotland, among other things. Troxstar also floated the idea of us traveling to England in 2019. It was a warm and comfortable evening on the back deck of the Pour House and I enjoyed seeing the Troxstar again and having some solid feelings of nostalgia for the good times I had in the Pour House back in the old days when the Deke and I lived in Eugene.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/18: *The Salesman*, Family Salad Dinner, Final Round of the PGA

1. When we bought our television and Blu-ray player, I was very happy with the prospect of playing movies again that are not available on streaming services. When I taught at LCC, I developed a particularly strong admiration for movies from the Middle East -- Iran and Israel in particular -- and now I can watch such movies again.

Today I watched The Salesman, an Iranian movie written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, and winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Its story centers around a married couple, Eman, a school teacher, and Rana, his wife. They are amateur actors currently working on a production of Death of a Salesman. Their residence in Tehran is cracking and about to collapse. They evacuate their flat and find another. Eventually they learn that the last tenant was a prostitute who still has her possessions stored in one room in the flat. Soon after they move in, one of the prostitute's clients, not knowing the prostitute moved, comes into the flat and assaults Rana. Eman becomes obsessed with finding the assailant. The movie then goes back and forth between the production of Death of a Salesman and Eman's efforts to find the man who assaulted his wife.

The movie explores the complicated and complex impact of this assault on Rana and Eman, especially the conflicts it engenders in their marriage. It becomes an intimate examination of humiliation, shame, and revenge, and in its portrayal of humiliation, the movie parallels a central aspect of the story of Willy Loman.

The movie unnerved me. It threw me into conflicts I feel regarding shame and mercy and retaliation. I experienced my sympathies shifting from character to character as the story unfolded, not really knowing for sure what I thought Eman should do, but never wavering in feeling Rana's disorientation,  violation, and anger. It's a mature, complex movie, unearthing conflicts in Rana and Eman's marriage otherwise peaceful relationship that likely would have stayed buried had Rana not been attacked.

2. I loved the food at tonight's family dinner, held on our deck. Each of our households contributed a salad so that we could enjoy an uncooked meal in case it was hot out.  It turned out not to be hot out and these salads were fantastic. Christy brought chef salad on a stick. Carol made a cabbage salad augmented with fresh produce from her garden. The Deke made a shrimp, avocado, and cucumber salad with a killer dressing. We had leftover melon salad from last week and it was very refreshing.

3. I know I could have figured out a way to watch the final round of the PGA Championship on our television via the World Wide Web. But, I wanted to watch The Salesman more than I wanted to watch golf. I kept an eye on the tournament's development as I watched the movie. It looks to like the tournament's winner, Brooks Koepka, is emerging as one of today's best players in high stakes tournaments. He's won three major tournaments in the last two seasons, a remarkable feat, and yet when the great young players of today are discussed -- players like Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Rory McElroy, and others -- Koepka is hardly ever mentioned as one of the Big Four or headlined as a player to watch. My guess is that changed today.

The other remarkable performance in this championship belonged to Tiger Woods who shot a 64 today and rocketed up the scoreboard to finish second, a stunning finish after all of the operations and remaking of his game he's been through. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since Tiger Woods won a major championship and I look forward to seeing if Woods will be a captain's selection for the 2018 Ryder Cup team and if he will continue to play as strongly in the 2019 major tournaments as he did this weekend.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/18: *The Neon Rain*, Great Food at Best Shots, Hall of Fame Night at the Lounge

1. I spent much of the day with my nose in James Lee Burke's novel, The Neon Rain. I finished it. My favorite aspect of this book was the way Burke immersed me in the world of New Orleans and places nearby. His descriptions of everything from the heat to the streetcars, from the flora to the sunscapes of the bottom of New Orleans often stopped me, moved me to leave the book for a few minutes, and gaze far away, imagining being in the Garden district or fishing for bass in the bayou, drinking a bottle of Jax -- even though the Jax brand is now defunct.

More interesting to me than his police work was the character of Dave Robicheaux, a Vietnam veteran, a deeply troubled alcoholic, wavering between being on and falling off the wagon, and a philosophically sophisticated guy who ruminates in solitary moments upon beauty, the meaning of time, and the knotty ethical problems of his work and his approach. I don't know if there is an archetype in the world of detective fiction of the deeply flawed, maverick cop who rarely goes by the book and thereby uncovers truths untouched by more straight arrow cops, but if there is, Dave Robicheaux is that guy.  The actual investigative work Dave Robicheaux was doing in this novel was of secondary interest to me. I don't think I ever really understood why the woman whose murder the local sheriff tried to cover up was murdered. I will probably go back and reread sections of the book and try to get the case straight -- but maybe Burke obscured the details of the case on purpose and as Robicheaux got more deeply involved in the world of organized criminals, gun runners to Nicaragua, and former thugs of Nicaragua's anti-Communist Somoza regime, the original reason for his digging into this world didn't matter much.

2. Christy and Everett invited the Deke and me out to dinner. We met at Best Shots. The food was a little slow coming out and our server was very friendly and earnest, but inexperienced, mistake prone, and a little slow, but, in the end, the dinner worked out beautifully. We had fun getting together. Ed called me as we were waiting for our food and joined us. The food itself was awesome. My cheeseburger on a pretzel bun and fries were very tasty and everyone else had fish tacos and spoke very highly of how delicious they were. In the Sube after dinner, the Deke and I blabbed on and on with each other about how much we enjoyed our dinner.

3. I knew both Byrdman and Don Knott were at the Lounge a couple of hours ago as we left Best Shots; Ed went to the Lounge when he left Best Shots. So, I wanted to join Ed and see if my other friends were still there. They sure were. It was a Hall of Fame night at the Lounge: Byrdman, Don Knott, Harley, Riles, Martha, and Ed were all there and later Abby popped in and so did Eddie Joe. I got in some high quality yakkin' with Byrdman, Harley, Don, and Eddie Joe. The Deke camped out on down the bar and made friends with a couple from CdA and she, too, got in some high level yakkin' with Byrdman and Don and later came down our way for a visit with Martha. I got caught up on news about the Byrd family, goings on at the Elks in the next few months, golf out at Pinehurst, and had some great nostalgia yakkin' about major league baseball and the 1970 Spokane Indians with Don and Abby. At just the right moment, the Deke and I decided to call it a night and we provided Uber service for Eddie Joe, helping him get home safe and sound.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/18: Lunch with Jeff, Seeing Stu and Don, Awesome Beer Club

1. I drove over to CdA this morning and met a longtime friend, Jeff Steve, for lunch at the Daft Badger. Before seeing Jeff last Saturday at Art on the Green, I hadn't seen him since 2010 on Cougar Bay. We had a lot to talk about today -- current things in our lives, past episodes, people we both know, the loss of friends, the puzzling reality of having friends drop out of our lives, and possibilities for the future. Jeff and I have an easy friendship. Whenever we see each other or talk on the phone, the conversation is effortless, fascinating, and satisfying. Jeff often comes to North Idaho this time of year because of Art on the Green and knowing that I might see him once a year is another reason I'm happy we moved to Kellogg.

2. It was a good day for seeing longtime friends. I've know Stu since we were little children in Sunday School uptown at the United Church. This morning, he drove through the heat and smoke of North Idaho all the way from his hillside home near State Line and joined Buff, Jerry, Ed, and me for breakfast. It's quite a trip to make at five in the morning to arrive at Sam's by six and it was really fun to have Stu join in the morning story telling, teasing, and hearty food at Sam's on Friday morning.

While I was eating breakfast, I received a text message from Cas telling me that a rumor was in the air that Don Knott might be in town today. The Deke and I took a rest after Beer Club with Shawn and Teresa and then headed up to the Lounge to see if this rumor might be true. Sure enough, we saw Pat Kenyon coming down the street as we headed up to the Lounge and he confirmed that upon walking into the Lounge we would see Don. Don and I were playmates uptown when our family lived on Portland until 1962 and as teenagers we played golf, basketball, and baseball together and been great friends ever since. We had a good session tonight at the Lounge, talking about baseball and some political stuff and making plans to possibly throw down another drink or two on Saturday afternoon when Don finishes playing a round of golf.

3. Beer Club late this afternoon was awesome. Our theme was fun: bring your favorite beer. Shawn and Teresa brought crowlers of North Idaho Mountain's Blood Orange IPA and Loft Honey. The Deke and I brought Daft Badger's Blood Orange IPA to the table and so we did a taste comparison of the two beers. It was very interesting that we all agreed that the beer from Wallace had the advantage of being fresher than the cans from Daft Badger and so, in this moment, the North Idaho Mountain beer was slightly better. We all also agreed that we had tasted better Daft Badger Blood Orange, especially at the brewery itself, and we would all recommend both beers to all who enjoy this style.

I consider Breakside Brewing's Gin Barrel-Aged Double IPA as one of my favorite beers because it is so incredibly different than any beer I've ever drunk. I love the floral aroma of the botanical Old Tom Gin, distilled by Ransome Wine and Distilling Co. in McMinnville, OR, and I love how the Double IPA absorbs the gin flavors. It's a beer I want to drink about six ounces at a time -- and so sharing a 22 oz bottle between the four of us was perfect. We all agreed that this was one of the most unusual beers we'd ever had and, for each of us, as we dove deeper into our six oz glasses, we appreciated this beer more. Teresa didn't share my love of the beer on her nose -- no problem! -- so she gave me her last swallow of her beer and I was happy to drink a little more.

By the way, I'd just like to say that we are learning at Beer Club to never judge a beer by its first taste or by the first sip. We agreed that many times each of us has begun to drink a new beer and didn't quite appreciate the beer's gifts early on in the glass, but, as we kept drinking it, had it grow on us. I'd say such was the case with the Breakside's Gin Barrel-Aged 2IPA.

None of us, however, needed to give Loft Honey a second chance! We ended Beer Club with this smooth and mighty beer from North Idaho Mountain Brewing and oohed and ahhed our way through the crowler. We agreed that really good beer is brewed in the Silver Valley. For myself, I can't say that I think one of the three is better than the others. I'm just happy that we have such variety and such quality of fresh beer available, all within fifteen minute of where we live. It was really fun to confirm that fact at Beer Club this afternoon.

It was an awesome session.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/09/18: Dave Robicheaux at Parker Subaru, Galacticus IPA, Mookie Betts

1. I went to Parker Subaru today so that their service department could replace the recalled air bag on the passenger side. I also had a CV boot replaced and the Sube washed and vacuumed. I was in the shop's waiting area for about three and a half hours, but the time flew by as I got absorbed in James Lee Burke's novel, The Neon Rain, his first Dave Robicheaux story. My first indelible impression of Dave Robicheaux is that he's a survivor: he's a Vietnam vet, a recovering alcoholic, a divorcee, and one of those fictional detectives who seems to get into the worst possible messes and threats to his life and always escapes. Wondering how he will escape the terrible fixes he gets in almost supersedes my interest in the case he's working on.

2. After the car was done, I ducked into Suds and Smokes and picked up some beer for Beer Club. When I returned home, I wanted to relax after dealing with the Sube and so I cracked open a 16 oz can of Three Magnets Brewing's tasty IPA Galacticus, a gift from Darren Hanson. I don't know if Three Magnets presents this beer as a hazy IPA, but it sure came out of the can hazy and the Deke and I split it. We both enjoyed this beer a lot for its juiciness and its perfect touch of bitterness.

3. I witnessed a baseball rarity tonight during the Red Sox/Blue Jay game. Boston's Mookie Betts hit for the cycle, but Boston's pitchers seemed a bit off and Toronto won the game, 8-5. If you aren't much of a baseball fan, when a player, in the same game, hits a single, double, triple, and home run that feat is known as hitting for the cycle.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/08/18: Polenta Bowl Experiment, Pork Carnitas, The Depot and the Deck and BBQ and the Mets

1. Ever since eating a polenta bowl for breakfast at the Milwaukie Cafe and Bottle Shop this past June in Oregon, I have, from time to time, experimented with making my own polenta bowls. This morning I fried some bacon, heated up some leftover polenta in the bacon grease, fried an egg, and wilted some red lettuce in more bacon grease and seasoned it with blueberry basil vinegar, made by Nancy Turner. I combined all this in a bowl and heated it up a bit with Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce. Then I wondered, what would it be like to top this off with fresh blueberries? They would be cool in contrast to the hot sauce and soft in contrast to the crunchy bacon and it might increase the blueberry effect of the vinegar I used. So, I dumped some blueberries into the bowl and the whole thing was awesome. I loved the variety of textures, the contrasts of heat and coolness, the fruit playing off of the salty bacon, and the hints of acidity and brightness throughout the bowl thanks to the blueberry basil vinegar.

2. Around four o'clock, Cousin Lura, Lyle, Christy, Everett, the Deke, and I met for dinner at Casa de Oro. I enjoyed drinking a margarita and, for the first time in my life, I ordered pork carnitas for dinner. I don't eat often at Mexican restaurants, but next time I do, I will order pork carnitas again (and again) because I'd like to learn the different ways this entree might be prepared. The pork carnitas I ate today will serve as a basis for learning what can be done with this dish. It's one I'm interested in making at home.

3. After dinner, the Deke and I enjoyed a drink at the Hill St. Depot. The Depot was nicely air conditioned and it was quiet and we chatted idly a little bit, but mostly just enjoyed the atmosphere. We had invited Lura, Lyle, Christy, and Everett to join us on our back deck. Everett was tired after a long day of working around the house, so stayed home, but the rest of us sat around the table back there starting about six o'clock and by seven or so it was cooling off beautifully. We yakked for a couple of hours, let the mountain air relax us, and, before long settled in for the night.

I watched North Carolina grillmasters compete against each other on Chopped and, while I don't have the equipment to grill food at home, I took a keen interest in the barbecue sauces these chefs made and, when I went to bed, I read up on vinegar based bbq sauce and began to imagine how I might use them in the kitchen -- and, well, if we ever decide to buy some kind of grill, the North Carolina style excited me more than than what I saw when the Kansas City grillmasters had their competition. Some time in the future, I'll watch the Memphis and the Texas grillmasters go at it on Chopped and see what I think of their styles.

Oh! By the way, my free MLB.TV game came on at nine this morning and featured the Mets and the Reds. I watched a lot of it, not all of it, and came away wondering how Jacob deGrom ever loses a game. He pitched six masterful innings, lowered his already very low ERA, and gave me reason to ponder how he could have more losses than wins -- I mean the Mets' run support for him this season has been really awful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/07/18: Changing America, The Splendid Splinter, Dinner and Then Baseball with Rich

1. I very much enjoyed staying in out of the heat, aside from watering the lawns and plants, and watching two episodes of the PBS series Ten That Changed America. First I watched "Ten Towns that Changed America" and it included a look at Greenbelt, MD, focusing on how the original city plan for Greenbelt was centered on pathways that went underneath the streets to keep cars and pedestrians apart and was also designed so that a variety of houses, apartments, and townhouses didn't face the street, but faced a large and green park area. When we lived in Greenbelt, we did not live in what's now known as Old Greenbelt where the original housing built in the 1930s is located, but the Co-op we shopped at, the gas station I frequented, the Greenbelt Aquatic Center, and the library are all in Old Greenbelt and I was in this part of town a lot.

A common thread running through the "Ten Towns that Changed America" was the fact that Greenbelt, like the Long Island suburb, Levittown, a housing development featuring inexpensive suburban houses built to help veterans of WWII be able to buy a house upon returning stateside with the help of federally subsidized mortgages, were white only. Part of the Greenbelt experiment was to create a planned community, not only of residences, but of the people who lived in them. All applicants were screened and interviewed to make sure they fit a certain profile and black people were excluded. Likewise, the Levitts, the developers of more than one Levittown in the east, wrote explicit language in their covenant that not only were these homes to be bought only by white people, but that residents were forbidden to sell their homes to black people.

Such prohibitions were not limited to Greenbelt and Levittown. Real estate developers and lending institutions across the country red-lined city maps, indicating where homes were not to be sold to black people nor would lending institutions make money available to black people, even when they were financially eligible. In many ways, being able to do well in the USA economy depends upon home ownership and, in many families, like our family, the benefits of home ownership get passed on to succeeding generations.

In my case, not only do I live in and own the house formerly owned by my parents, but when it came time to buy my first house twenty-five years ago, Mom and Dad could afford to help me make a down payment largely because they owned their home and enjoyed the financial benefits of this ownership. The only reason we could buy Mom and Dad's house last fall was because of the money we had from the sale of the house we sold when we moved to Maryland. So, not only do the advantages of home ownership get passed along, as they did for me, so do the disadvantages that come with being closed out of the housing market. It's a perfect example of seeing how history is a study, not of the past, but of continuation. Even though such discriminatory real estate and lending practices have been made illegal (but they continue), the effects of these practices live on, especially because non-white people were often shut out of the benefits inherent in getting a financial leg up by purchasing a house and were not able to these benefits themselves, let alone pass them on to future generations.

Back in February of 2018, the Center for Investigative Reporting, whose podcast is called Reveal, did a story on current lending practices that exclude black people. It's entitled, "Kept  Out". It's here.

I also watched Ten Streets that Changed America which also, among other subjects, explored the lasting impact of racial discrimination and hostility, especially in the segment recording what happened when a white mob burned the prosperous Greenwood Street to the ground in Tulsa, OK in 1921. Greenwood Street was known as the Black Wall Street and was a prosperous black enclave on the other side of the tracks, segregated from downtown Tulsa.

2. The Sube needed new rear brakes and I took it down to Silver Valley Tires this afternoon and the guys there got the job done. While I waited for the Sube, I watched an episode of PBS's American 
Masters series exploring the biography of Ted Williams. It was a fascinating look at Ted Williams' obsession to be baseball's best hitter and a troubling look at his family life off the field and his hostile relationship with newspaper reporters, as well as his complicated relationship with the baseball fans of Boston.

3. For the second night in a row we had a Family Dinner that included Lura and Lyle and Molly and Travis. We ate in Christy and Everett's back yard. We continued celebrating Molly's birthday. For dinner, the Deke made a fantastic dish of marinara sauce and Italian sausage over layers of zucchini, interspersed with cheese. It might best be called a zucchini lasagne. Lura made a fresh and tasty fruit salad and Carol made a crisp and delicious green salad and we had some cabbage salad left over from last night. For me, the high point of the dinner was when Christy presented us each with a Klondike bar for dessert. I liked my first Heath Klondike bar so much that I ate a second one, but switched from a Heath to an Original Klondike bar.

After a couple of hours, I slipped away from the dinner table to go home and watch Oakland play the Dodgers. When Khris Davis hit a mammoth home run (his 32nd) in the bottom of the sixth inning, I sent Rich Brock a message remarking on what a stud Khris Davis is. He was just getting home from work, had missed seeing the home run, but messaged me back saying, "Let's watch the rest of this game together". So we did. We passed a few comments back and forth about how the Dodgers' relievers dominated the A's hitters in the last couple of innings and bemoaned the fact that the A's have to face Clayton Kershaw tomorrow. It was sure fun, though, to have the game on and know that my Whitworth roommate and fellow sports fan was watching at the same time and that we could comment on the game as if we were in the same room watching it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/06/18: Appointments, Expanded Family Birthday Dinner, Yakkin' on the Deck

1. I got right on the horn this morning and made phone calls: an oil change appointment at Silver Valley Tire and a request for the sprinkler guy from Artscape to pay us a visit. I tried to make an appointment with a dental guy in CdA, but didn't get through. While I was in the taking care of business mode, I got a call from Sacred Heart's transplant center updating me on my request to be evaluated to be listed in Spokane for a kidney transplant. Later in the day, I made an appointment at the Sube dealer in CdA to have the Sube's passenger side air bag replaced -- one of those recall jobs.

2. It was a big family day today. Cousin Lura and Lyle are on a vacation and they left Lolo Hot Springs this morning and rolled into Kellogg this afternoon. They parked their motor home in front of Christy and Everett's house, got themselves all set up, Lura came over to see our remodeled house.

At six, we had an expanded Family Dinner. This week is our niece Molly's birthday, so not only were we celebrating Lura and Lyle's visit, but Molly and Travis are in town and we were also having a birthday party over at Carol and Paul's.  The Deke and I donated one of the hams that came from the hog we bought in the spring. Paul and Carol baked it, Paul made a glaze using quince jelly and Dijon mustard, and he grilled slices of the glazed baked ham. It was awesome. To round out the meal, Christy made a delicious potato salad, the Deke made a creative and tasty cabbage salad, Carol and Paul grilled crisp fresh vegetables, and Lura brought rolls. We had angel food cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream for dessert, at the birthday girl's request, and we enjoyed some fine yakkin' around the table.

3. After dinner, Lura and Lyle came over to our house and we yakked for an hour or so on the deck, enjoying how we could feel the temperature of the air gradually drop by degree. We told stories about our families, recalled our experiences with having our parents pass away, and remembered some of the highlights of Mom's trips to Orofino over the last few years before she couldn't travel any longer. We also remembered the last times I saw Lura's mother, Auntie Lila, and we marveled at the strength of the Walker/West women: our grandma, Mrs. Nona West, Auntie Lila, and Mom. We could have gone on and marveled at the strength of Grandma West's sisters, too, but Lura and Lyle had had a long day of travel and I started to fade, and we wrapped up a good session of family yakkin'.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/05/18: Penne, Errors and Walks, Great Chefs and Ten/6

1. In the same way that the Deke and I hadn't eaten rice for a few months when we had curry the other night, we also haven't had pasta for quite a while. We've had a bag of penne sitting around for months and I decided to boil it up and I made a version of Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce without the onion. We didn't have any on hand and so decided the sauce would be fine without one.

2. The Red Sox and Yankees played a 10 inning game tonight. The Red Sox sent the game into extra innings by scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth off of Aroldis Chapman. It was exciting to see the Red Sox come back and eventually win the game 5-4, but it was disappointing that the outcome of the game hinged as much as it did on errors by both teams and too many bases on balls.

3. I watched the finale of last year's Alton Brown Challenge on Chopped. I won't give away how it turned out in case anyone reading this might watch it one day, but I can say that of all the episodes I've watched of Chopped, this episode was the most tightly contested and featured the best chefs I've ever seen on the show.

I picked up Ed this morning and we traveled to CdA and went over to Darren's. Darren wanted to eat at Ten/6, a relatively new Louisiana-style restaurant in Midtown CdA. Mike Stafford was in town and met up with us. Ten/6 is very popular, so we had a wait of about twenty minutes before our table opened up and the kitchen got backed up with all the customers and so our food was slow to come out. None of us minded. We enjoyed our coffee -- I had a couple of cups of their chicory coffee. I would have loved this coffee with steamed milk, a kind of New Orleans cafe au lait, but Ten/6 doesn't steam milk for coffee. No problem -- I just had to ask! I ordered the Jazz Kitchen Hash with poached eggs and Tuscan toast. The hash was a medium spicy tasty blend of many flavors: celery, onion, green peppers, queso Oaxaca cheese, herbed potatoes, Andouille sausage, and pickled collard greens (my favorite ingredient in the hash). My food was delicious and filling and was an adventure for me in that I'd never eaten a hash anything like this one before.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/04/18: Jeff and Leon at Art on the Green, Banh Mi at Daft Badger, Trickster Flight

1. The Deke and I piled into the Sube and swung on over to CdA and attended the annual festival, Art on the Green. This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the festival. This means a lot to my longtime friend from CdA, Eugene, and Whitworth, Jeff Steve, whose mother was one of those who got this festival going in 1968.

Today, guitarist Leon Atkinson, who taught guitar at Whitworth and whom I heard perform at Whitworth over thirty-five years ago, played a set at Art on the Green this morning. I knew from text messages we'd exchanged that Jeff would be there from Ventura to hear Leon and that Jeff might perform during Leon's set -- and that's exactly what happened. Jeff played one piece solo and Leon joined in and they played a duet on another piece. Jeff composed both of them. Leon's set transported me back to when he played on occasion at Forum at Whitworth and triggered very pleasant memories of when his playing inspired me to buy at least one Julian Bream album and other classical guitar recordings. It was part of a project I undertook all through college and graduate school, at NIC, Whitworth, and the U. of Oregon, to expose myself to all kinds of classical music.  After Leon's set ended, Jeff and I embraced, I introduced him to the Deke, we chatted for a while, and we made plans to meet up on Thursday.

2. The Deke and I didn't hang around the festival long after making plans with Jeff. Instead, we headed up to Daft Badger and enjoyed a beer and spilt a Banh Mi sandwich and an arugula salad. After watching the documentary The Vietnam War, I know that the French occupation of Vietnam was awful. If, however, anything good came out of that occupation, I would very tentatively say that it was good that the French introduced the Vietnamese to the baguette and that the great Banh Mi sandwich was born. The Banh Mi combines pickled vegetables with fresh crisp ones, herbs, some kind of meat, and often includes a brilliant sauce of some kind. The Daft Badger's Banh Mi was made of smoked turkey, pickled daikon radishes and carrots, fresh cucumber, cilantro, and two Asian sauces -- one was a lime sauce and I can't remember the other one. It was a superb sandwich and reminded me of the Banh Mi I enjoyed one day in Eugene at the eatery called Bon Mi on East Broadway.

3. The Deke wanted to buy some yarn so we stopped in at the yarn store near Fred Meyer on Kathleen in CdA and then, since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to stop in at the tasting room at Tricksters Brewing where we shared a flight of their beers which included their Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, Juice Box IPA, a collaborative IPA, an Amber Ale, and their American Stout. I want to return to Trickster Brewing and try to define for myself better what made their beers unique, especially the Blonde Ale and the Pale Ale. I enjoyed the beers a lot and found them way different from any other beers I've enjoyed in North Idaho, but I can't quite say what made them unique. One day, I might figure it out for myself. The Deke and I like, on occasion, to shop at the Fred Meyer near Trickster, so I'm thinking we might not only continue to shop there, but also add on a quick stop at Trickster when its hours and our shopping coincide.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/03/18: Shawn Returns, Silver Valley Charcuterie, Beer Club

1. It was much cooler today and Shawn began a two day job over at Christy and Everett's and he took care of a few things at our house: our hot and cold water taps were accidentally reversed in our bathroom sink and that is fixed, our lazy Susan glides more smoothly now, and some insulation that needed to be put back in place is where it belongs upstairs. It was fun having Shawn around, especially because we had a Beer Club meeting planned tonight.

2. I had already purchased beer for Beer Club, but I went to the store and picked up some pita bread, hummus, salami, smoked oysters, apples, and red pepper and returned home to make a platter of finger food to snack on while we sampled some beers. I was especially curious to find out if we would enjoy the smoked oysters. I have these indistinct boyhood memories of Mom and Dad serving smoked oysters out of Bumble Bee tins around Christmas Eve and I indistinctly remember that the smoked oysters were regarded as a special treat, served only on special occasions. Shawn, Teresa, and the Deke all liked them, as did I, and that made me more happy than a guy should be -- I mean they are just smoked oysters after all!

3.  We sampled Series 009 of Firestone's Luponic Distortion, Superfuzz, a Blood Orange Ale from Elysian, Mango Mambo, a Hefeweizen from 12 String, Redd's Blueberry Ale, and we ended the night with a small sample of Founders' Double Trouble, their dynamite Double IPA. We were sipping out of six ounce glasses and we enjoyed the variety of our samplings. We sat on the deck where it was remarkably cool and comfortable and had a great time yakking about everything from the glories of the beer, food, mountain biking, and golf in McCall, Riggins, Kamiah, and Worley to mathematics and engineering.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/02/18: Baseball and Writing, Green Curry with Beef, Aimless Yakkin'

1. It was fun having my free baseball game on MLB.TV come on at 11 o'clock this morning. I turned on the game, featuring the Royals and the White Sox, but I didn't watch it closely. It provided old familiar sounds of the murmurings and cheers of the crowd, the crack of the bat when players hit the ball, and the drone of the broadcasters' voices. With these sounds in the background, I wrote out an essay in response to one of the three sibling assignments we have on the table. I wrote about my old love relationship with Whitworth College as a student, campus ministry employee, and instructor. It was one of the best romances of my life and I enjoyed remembering how much I loved Whitworth from 1974-84.  When all three of us siblings finish our assignments, we'll post them together.

As far as the game goes, I loved it when Chicago's Dan Paulka slammed a three run pinch it homer in the bottom of the eighth. It was his third pinch hit round tripper of the season. The last ChiSox player to hit three pinch hit homer in a season? The late nearly great Oscar Gamble, one of my very favorite almost great major league baseball players from 1969-85. Oscar Gamble blasted those three pinch hit dingers in 1977.

2. It was slightly cooler today and so the Deke and I decided that it would be all right to do some cooking in the kitchen. I hadn't made any curry for a long time and so I bought nearly a pound of tri tip pieces at Yoke's, fried them up with garlic and ginger, and folded them into a green curry I made with paste, ginger, garlic, onion, coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. I added broccoli crowns to the curry and let it simmer while I iced Christy's knee. The Deke cooked up some jasmine rice and we agreed: the curry was nearly perfect. It had heat, but the heat wasn't overpowering. I put in an excellent amount of sugar and the fish sauce and soy sauce deepened the sauce and the ginger and garlic and onion added to the layers of flavor. We hadn't had rice for several months and we loved our return to eating a fine curry and rice dinner.

3. I loved how cool it was this evening on the deck. I enjoyed a couple of rum and cokes with a ton of lemon and the Deke and I chatted aimlessly and enjoyed the refreshing mountain air. When she took a call from Laura in Eugene, I retired to the television room and watched part 2 of the Alton Brown Challenge on Chopped. As always, I couldn't help but think that if I'd been confronted with the baskets they had to work with, I would have been toast.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 08/01/18: Lincoln's Assassination, Guyanese Cuisine in Queens, Sweet Home Run

1. For years, I thought war was like a baseball game. To opponents representing different places battle each other and, in the end, one side wins, the other loses, and the conflict is over -- the losing side submits to the power and wishes of the winning side. I watched American Experience: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln today. Even though it wasn't really the point of the program, I came away from it with a deeper understanding than I've ever had that with Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the physical warring between the Union and Confederate forces ended, but not the philosophical and political conflict. John Wilkes Booth, in fact, embodied Confederate bitterness and represented, in one man, the resentments of many.

For years, I've understood history as the study of continuation, not a study of the past. History doesn't repeat itself so much as ideas, conflicts, institutions, human impulses, and our stories about the past endure or continue. The idea that experiences like a war or slavery or the Great Depression or the standoff at Ruby Ridge or the destruction of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in 2001, to name a few, are over with, are events or experiences we need to put behind us, is antithetical to how we experience things in life.  As when I watched the Vietnam War series, when I saw the battlefield images from the Civil War, I thought a lot about how the Vietnam War did not end Communism and how the Civil War did not end the conflicts that divided the USA in the 19th century and that endure on into the 21st. That I see things this way means I live with many questions I cannot answer.

2.  In the same way that Anthony Bourdain was a thoughtful, open-minded, adventurous guy who became famous because of his television show, so the chef Marcus Samuelsson has made a name for himself as a successful restaurateur and television celebrity. He is using his fame, charisma, intelligence, and goodwill to bring immigrant neighborhoods from across the USA into our homes through his PBS show No Passport Needed. A few days ago I watched his episode focused on Mexicans in Chicago.  Today I watched his episode exploring immigrants in Queens, NY from Guyana where the influences of India, China, Africa, and the Caribbean intersect in the customs, religious practices, recreation, and food of the Guyanese. Samuelsson visited a handful of Guyanese eateries and visited the home of a family where he cooked alongside a family's grandmother and mother. Until today, I had never given one moment of thought to Guyanese cuisine or to the cultural vitality of people from Guyana and now I would love to try to cook something like Guyanese food and, if I ever have the chance to roam around Queens, I'd love to eat at one or two of the places Marcus Samuelsson featured in this program.

3. Today, I once again watched about 80 percent of a baseball game. MLB.TV's free offering today was a matchup between Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels. I didn't really care who won the game. I thought maybe the Angel stars, Mike Trout and Albert Pujois, might do something special, but neither did. My favorite moment in the game came late when Rays rookie Jake Bauers hit a home run. The home run merely padded the Rays' lead -- they beat the Angels 7-2 --, but Bauers' swing was sweet, pure, fluid. I love watching left handed hitters, maybe because I hit left handed when I played ball forty-six years ago, and Bauers' home run swing from the left side of the plate last night gave me the same kind of pleasure  I feel when I see an Ansel Adams photograph or a painting by Monet. As any number of sportscasters might say, it was picture perfect. (And I'll be keeping an eye on this kid Jake Bauers.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 07/31/18: Chilaquiles in my Future?, Yakkin' with Tim and Jim, Watching the A's

1.  Today I connected our television to a web browser and watched more segments of "Chopped After Hours" on YouTube.  In one episode, Amanda Freitag made chilaquiles, a traditional and very flexible Mexican dish. Aaron Sanchez was particularly excited about Freitag's chilaquiles and it made me wonder if it were something I could make at home. So, I searched for recipes and videos at and, sure enough, I found both and watched and watched again a video demonstrating how to make chicken chilaquiles. I could do it and it will open up a new world for me when I do: cooking with dried peppers.

2.  Tim O'Reilly is in town until Friday and I knew that I could see him again if I went to his brother Jim's weekly get together in his spacious garage this afternoon. It was a lot of fun. Tim and Jim told stories about being kids at St. Rita's church, about some nuns in the parish, and paid loving tribute to Father Coleman King. Until Sharon recently posted a picture of the old St. Rita's building a couple weeks ago, I had forgotten it burned and Jim and Tim talked about the fire and about their dad's efforts, as a Kellogg fireman, to rescue the building. It was a very good session at Jim's garage and my hope is that I'll travel to the DC area sometime in the next year to see Molly, Hiram, and our grandchildren and see Tim again in McLean.

3. I've been wondering over the last several years about how, when I was younger, I kept my love for baseball alive year after year. I've concluded my love was fueled and informed by baseball cards, the daily newspaper, television, and talking baseball with friends.  I loved watching the Saturday baseball game of the week, I often watched the Monday night game, and I have great memories of watching the program, "This Week in Baseball". As I entered my thirties, I watched less and less television and lived many years without it. I continued to follow baseball in the newspapers, but not as ravenously as when I was younger. For some reason, I've not been very successful at following baseball on the World Wide Web.

Well, this smart new television and Fire Stick we bought recently gives me access to an MLB.TV app. By logging into, the app provides a free baseball game every day, not of my choice, but as chosen by MLB.TV. So, tonight, the app offered me a telecast of the Toronto Blue Jays playing the Oakland Athletics in Oakland.

I immediately thought of my three friends who are Oakland A's fans: Don Knott, Rich Brock, and Rick Taylor. I got kind of fired up that if I watched this game, I'd learn more about the A's and I could also form some impressions of what kind of team I think they have.

The A's impressed me. Khris Davis looked powerful when he homered to center field; Matt Chapman made two brilliant plays at third base, the second reminiscent of Brooks Robinson and Graig Nettles; in the third inning, Marcus Semien and Mark Canha executed a double steal, with Canha stealing home, a rare and thrilling play I've rarely witnessed in the majors; and, lastly, the A's bullpen was fierce as Yusmeiro Petit, Jeurys Familia, and Blake Treinen closed out the Blue Jays over the last three innings. Oakland is surging and this win moved them to within a game of a playoff spot as a wild card team and, from what I saw tonight, it looks like they have a solid chance of earning that spot over the last two months of the season.

If I'm around the television this afternoon, MLB.TV is making the Angels v Tampa Bay available. I might just check it out.