Thursday, September 27, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/18: Sube II is Legal, Sube II is Insured, No Panic Barking

1. I whipped in Sube II right up to the courthouse this morning and had the car's title transferred, registered Sube II, and got new license plates. I'm glad I called the Motor Vehicle Division before I went up because I thought I would also need proof of insurance and a VIN inspection and, because the car's was titled in Idaho, I needed neither.

2. Back in Kellogg, I bolted into the offices of Kellogg Insurance and talked with Phyllis, an agent who took care of Mom for years, first at the bank and then as an insurance agent. I decided last year to also work with Phyllis. After we finished our business, she told me that Kim, the woman who ran the music stage for many years at Eugene's Saturday Market and whose son was a student of mine at LCC, is her cousin. It was a lot of fun talking about how that was true.

3. Because I'll be on the road all day Thursday driving to Portland and the Deke doesn't arrive back to Kellogg until the early evening on Thursday, Maggie and Charly need to be watched. I phoned Carol and wondered if she would be able to take in the dogs and wondered if she'd take them to her house tonight so I could vacuum. The corgis go nuts when the vacuum cleaner is running and normally the Deke takes them to the basement when I want to vacuum. Carol happily agreed to take them in and so I vacuumed this evening. The house was blissfully absent of scream panic high decibel Corgy barking.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/18: Busy Day, More Blood Work, Another Subaru

1. It was very satisfying and a relief to care of a series of things today: I mailed off a fistful of bills; picked up dry cleaning I'd nearly forgotten about; swung by the vision center to use up some leftover benefits money and picked out new frames; I made an appointment with an endodontist in CdA; I sat down with an insurance agent to discuss Medigap plans. 

2. Just as I was getting ready to whirlwind around Kellogg, Dr. Jones, my nephrologist, called. She's just seen the blood work I'd had done earlier in the month and didn't like the elevated creatinine levels. She wanted me to have blood drawn again soon and wants to see me in her office soon. I had the blood drawn this afternoon and will see Dr. Jones on October 8th.

When I had the blood drawn today, I was happy to see Tracy, the phlebotomist uptown, and tell her that I'd received word from Baltimore that my blood samples had been arriving. I'll just leave it at that and not explain why I thought they weren't.

3. I strolled over to Fitz's house around 3:30 or so and bought Deanne's 1998 Subaru Outback so I'll have a car on hand while the Deke teaches in Eugene later this fall for about eight months. I dropped by Silver Valley Tire to see if I could schedule an oil change for Wednesday afternoon -- and I could. I hope to have the car's title transferred, and the car registered, plated, and insured by the time it goes up on the rack for clean oil.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/18: The Deke Flies Away, Buying a Used Car, Poker on PlutoTV

1. The Deke and I piled into the Sube and hustled to Spokane International Airport (GEG) so the Deke could catch her flight to Seattle before soaring to Eugene. On the way back from Spokane, I stopped at Starbuck's in CdA for a chocolate croissant and a cafe au lait which pleased and relaxed me.

2. I talked with Fitz about the car he and Deanne are selling and liked what he said about the maintenance that he and the previous owner have done on it and decided to buy it so that I'll have a vehicle to putter around in while the Deke is working in Eugene. It's another Subaru.

3. The television we bought a while back has Smartcast loaded on it and one of the apps is PlutoTV. One of PlutoTV's offerings is the World Poker Tour channel and around the clock it shows replays of WPT tournaments and final tables over the last dozen years or so. It's really easy for me to get hooked on -- I enjoy the telecasts and the drama of the different showdowns between players and I find commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten fun to listen to. I got hooked on a couple tournaments this evening. I have to monitor myself so I don't let hours and hours of time get chewed up watching these reruns.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/18: Cider-Braised Pork Roast -- Part 1, Part 2, Tiger Wins

1. I decided a few days ago that I wanted to see if I could give a picnic pork roast the royal treatment and cook it up really special for today's Sunday family dinner. As an online subscriber to America's Test Kitchen, I found both a video and a recipe for Cider-Braised Pork Roast and it looked to me like the perfect recipe to stretch myself a bit and possibly make a really tasty dinner.

I started thawing the roast about last Wednesday. On Saturday, I unwrapped the roast, cut a crosshatch pattern in its fat cap, and rubbed the entire roast with a brown sugar and salt combination. I double wrapped the roast in plastic wrap and returned it to the fridge where it sat for the next 24 hours or so.

Today, Sunday, I unwrapped the roast and seared in all sides and then scattered slices of onion and crushed garlic around the meat and let it heat up for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Meanwhile, I combined apple cider, thyme, cinnamon, and bay leaves to make the braising liquid, poured it into the Dutch oven, brought it to a simmer, and put it in the oven at 275 degrees.

I thought the roast would be cooked in about 2 hours and 45 minutes, but it took longer, possibly because the roast was bigger than the one used in the recipe.

2. For a side, I chopped up these round zucchini things that popped up in the Deke's raised bed and boiled some baby potatoes until they were about half cooked. I combined the potatoes and zucchini in a bowl, poured olive oil over them and seasoned them with Montreal seasoning. Later, I fried this combination in garlic butter and when nearly done, after I removed the roast from the oven, I put the vegetables in the oven at a low temperature to stay warm.

When the roast came out and while it rested for well over a half an hour, I made Honey Crisp apple slices, salt and peppered them, and cooked them in the fat of the braising liquid.

I put the apple slices aside under a foil tent and made a sauce with braising liquid, apple butter, apple cider, corn starch, and a little cider vinegar. While it simmered, I took the bone out and sliced the roast and soon we had a delicious dinner of cider-braised pork roast with apple sauce and browned sliced apples and a mess of baby potatoes and zucchini fried in garlic butter.

Unless you get blocked by the America's Test Kitchen firewall, the recipe is here. If it's a recipe you want and this link doesn't work, if you can get a hold of me, do so, and I can email you the recipe as an attachment.

3. I admit it. I thought Tiger Woods was washed up. I thought his deteriorating physical health had betrayed him forever and that he'd never play elite level golf again.

I was wrong.

Today, Tiger Woods won the season-ending Tour Championship tournament. Tiger astonished me all four days of the tournament with his brilliant scoring. I don't know how he will perform in the Ryder Cup and I don't have any predictions about whether he will win another major tournament, but by winning today, he capped a comeback from multiple back surgeries and recklessness away from the golf course, a comeback that I never thought the world of golf would see.

I was so wrong.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sibling Assignent #195: Fall Ecstasy

As a tribute to the first day of fall arriving on Sept. 22, Christy assigned us siblings the task of sharing a poem about the season and why it appeals to us.

You'll find Christy's post here and Carol's is right here.

I have given almost all my books away over the last five years or so because I didn't want to move them out to Maryland in 2014 and then I didn't want to ship what I had left and what new books I'd bought to Kellogg a year ago. I have some days, though, like today, when I would like to have some of them back. When I read this assignment, the first poem that popped into my mind was Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 ("That time of year thou mayst in me behold"), but I decided I didn't want to write about the inevitability of death. Instead, I spent the afternoon searching for another poem.

The poem I decided to share is, technically, not an autumn poem. It's about peaches and peaches are ripe and often ready to pick in August -- well, and on into September, but it is a harvest poem and autumn is the season of harvesting, so I gave myself a pass and decided this poem would be acceptable. I hope you think so, too.

From Blossoms
Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes 
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
From sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

I have a long history with this poem dating back to 1993 when Rita Hennessy and I started team teaching philosophy and composition and we used to play a video tape of Li-Young Lee reading his poetry and being interviewed by Bill Moyers. You can listen to that interview here and, in a separate video, hear Li-Young Lee read "From Blossoms", here.

I can't remember what Rita and I used to say about this poem in class and I don't remember how and why it was part of our philosophy curriculum. 

So, as I read this poem again today after years of not having read it, it was as if I'd never read it before; so, as I write how I experience this poem now, on September 23, 2018, my reflections are fresh, and, for all I know, might parallel what I said in class about it starting back in 1993.

Today, the one phrase that stands out to me in this poem is "sweet fellowship in the bins." The speaker of the poem is experiencing an ecstatic moment, a moment in which suddenly s/he is experiencing the unity, the connectedness, the fellowship of all things.

This fellowship or connectedness is embodied in the peach. Look at all that resides in the round ripe loveliness of this peach: the blossom it grew from; the "laden bough" it grew on; the hands that harvested it; the dust of summer; summer itself. To eat the peach is to eat the orchard, to take the sunshine and the labor and sugar of the peach inside oneself and to suddenly experience the fellowship of the peach with all that brought it into being, all that nurtured its growth, all that made it possible to be in a bag on the roadside ready to eat, yes, but also ready for anyone who is awake while eating this peach to experience the jubilation of all that this peach is connected to, is in sweet fellowship with.

I remember back in the spring of 1983, I was leading a seminar in literature of the British Renaissance. The students and I were reading the play The Duchess of Malfi. It features an odd moment when the Duchess is made ill by eating a green apricot. In the course of our discussion, Bill Davie went on a splendid digression about the science of fruit ripening and helped us see that when an apple or peach or apricot begins to ripen and become sweet, it is part of its endlife, its death process. We eat dying things when we eat ripe fruit. When we say an avocado isn't ready to eat yet because it's too green, we could say, instead, we need to let that avocado die more.

So much of autumn's beauty lies in the what happens when fruits and vegetable are dying and need to be harvested or when leaves are reaching the end of their life cycle and turn red and yellow and orange and begin to fall off the trees. Back when I was a kid, our fathers used to further the death of leaves by burning them and the smell of burning leaves was one of my favorite sensations of autumn.

So when the speaker of "From Blossoms" says "There are days we live/as if death were nowhere/in the background", s/he is right. In this poem, death is not in the background. It's in the speaker's hand and mouth. It's inside the speaker. But that death, the ripening of the peach, is in sweet fellowship with life. It came from blossoms. It came from the life-giving elements of summer. It came from the living hands that plucked it from its heavy bough. This poem invites us to experience life and death as inseparable, in union with one another,  and suggests that in the autumn, when we experience this union, we might also experience ecstasy.

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/18: Writing, Autumn Poem Search, The Lounge Valet Service

1. I wrote a lot today. I worked on my blog and wrote emails. The Deke was puttering around the house, taking care of some clutter here, cleaning surfaces there. I wondered if she needed a hand with anything and she said she'd let me know of she did. She didn't and wrote and wrote.

2. I didn't quite finish my writing projects. Christy assigned Carol, her, and me to share an autumn poem and write about it. This assignment stumped me. I don't have many poetry books or anthologies around the house any longer -- I gave boxes and boxes of books away when we made our two cross country moves over the last four years -- so I searched and searched the World Wide Web for an autumn poem I wanted to share and write about. I found one. I typed it out on my blog. I was poised to write my sibling assignment -- and then the Deke texted me. I'll finish the blog post on Sunday.

3. The Deke wanted to get out of the house and had buzzed up to the Inland Lounge. She texted me to say Cas was going to come by our house and give me a ride up to the Lounge. This would be my first time being served by the Inland Lounge's Exclusive Valet Service. I joined the Deke and we relaxed for about an hour and a half.  I got in some serious yakkin' not only with Cas and Tracy, but also with Bird Legs and, later, Eddie Joe. Eddie Joe's new food hut on wheels, EJ's Eats, was in operation down the street in the parking lot of  Dirty Ernie's where a raucous celebration was underway to say goodbye to the Camerons who just sold their joint.  Maybe the party welcomed the new owners. I don't know. But changes are afoot in Kellogg: Best Shots suffered a basement fire and is closed indefinitely with extensive smoke damage; Radio Brewing is now open five days a week instead of seven, taking Tuesday and Wednesday off; and, the Sunshine Inn, which had been operating on weekends (sometimes) has been dark for several weeks.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/18: Maggie Progresses, Beer Club, Fun at the Lounge

1. Maggie is recovering comfortably from her surgery. Today the Deke went to CdA to tend to some business and brought Maggie an inflatable collar as an alternative to the plastic cone. Maggie seems more comfortable with the collar. She's even gone a few lengths of time with no collar, no cone. We just keep a close eye on her, making as sure as we can that she doesn't start licking the surgery area.

2. Shawn came over around five o'clock with a growler of Wallace Brewing's Strong Ale and sat at the kitchen table with the Deke and me for a rousing Beer Club session. We were few in number and didn't sample a whole lot of beer beyond the Strong Ale -- I drank most of a can of the Rogue Honey Kolsch that Shawn brought -- but we had a lot of fun telling stories and having some good laughs.

3. Shawn told us he was going to go up to the Inland Lounge and have a beer and order some Lo Mein from Wah Hing. That sounded like such a good idea that the Deke and I went up, too. The Deke decided she wanted food from Radio Brewing, so she strolled farther uptown for her dinner.  Shawn and I bellied up to the bar and ordered our food and enjoyed it a lot. The Deke popped back in just as I was plunging into my noodles and Cas brought her a plate and a fork so she could share in my enjoyment of my plate of food. I'd been yakkin' with Pat K. and I got to gab with John and Margie and before long Ron and Jess came in and a fine gabfest ensued. Cas had been to Pittsburgh during the week and he brought me back a Pirates baseball cap. I've never had a Pirates cap and having one now makes me very happy.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/18: Eugene Travel Plans, Beef Stew, Maggie Update

1. The Deke and I discussed our planned trip to Eugene next week in light of Maggie's surgery. Originally, we were going to drive down together on Monday and the Deke would start taking care of school related business on Tuesday. We changed our plan. The Deke will fly to Eugene on Monday. I'm going to stick around Kellogg next week until Thursday or Friday when I'll drive to Eugene. I think we'll return on Sunday.

2. I have been thawing a small cross rib roast for a few days and today I decided to use it as the foundation for a beef stew. It turned out beautifully. The broth was savory and a little sweet, thanks to the carrots, and the balsamic vinegar zinged it up. The Deke and I agreed that it didn't have to be a low carb stew and I enjoyed having baby potatoes in it.  The recipe is here.

3. After being restless, and possibly a bit panicky, upon her return home from surgery Wednesday afternoon, today Maggie settled down quite a bit. She had long periods of stillness and rest. The cone continues to be a source of indignity, but Maggie is unsinkable and refuses to let the cone get the best of her. The Deke has a couple of errands to take care of in CdA on Friday (09/21) and is going to look around for an alternative to the cone -- something that will keep her from licking the surgery area, but that intrudes less on Maggie's coming and goings around the house -- and annoys her less.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/18: Maggie's Back Home, Keeping Charly Company, A Pork Chop and Eggs

1.  At four o'clock this afternoon, the Deke picked up Maggie from the vet. The surgery was successful. The vet removed the growth and the biopsy report will be ready in 7-10 days. Maggie must suffer the indignity and disorientation of wearing a cone at least into next week while the surgery site heals. For much of the evening, Maggie paced around the house. She  kept bumping the cone into door jambs and chair legs. Watching her was at once comical and sorrowful. I was the first to go to bed tonight and Maggie seemed happy to join me. She settled down and fell asleep.

2. The Deke was out of the house quite a bit today. She left about 90 minutes early for book group at noon and around six o'clock she joined friends uptown to play Hearts and other card games. With Maggie gone until four o'clock, I stuck around the house, not wanting to leave Charly alone just yet. As it was, she had a couple sessions of whimpering. I think she missed Maggie. So we spent much of the day together so she wouldn't be any more lonely than she already was.

3. I was on my own for dinner. I thawed out a pork chop, seasoned it with salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, and some garlic pepper before frying it. I'm not sure how risky it is to eat pork that is a little pink, but I sure liked it this way. While my chop rested, I fried two eggs and enjoyed having a plate of breakfast food for dinner.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/18: Maggie Needs Surgery, The Return of Hot Wings, A's Lose

1. Soon after the Deke was up and around, she saw that Maggie had begun bleeding from near where her tail would be, had it not been cropped. She took Maggie to the vet and Maggie has a growth that needs to be surgically removed. Maggie stayed overnight at the vet and the vet will do the surgery sometime on Tuesday, 09/19. Maggie will have to wear a cone at home and we'll find out after the surgery what kind of home care she'll need and what we'll need to do as follow up to the surgery.

2. Yesterday, I had taken out about a dozen of those little chicken wings to thaw. I never see packages of them in Kellogg, but a couple of weeks ago, I found a pack at Pilgrim's in CdA. I used to cook up Buffalo wings fairly often when we lived in Eugene. I liked taking them to Russell and Anne's -- maybe only once -- when we used to watch the November Nine compete at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event (that final table now plays out in July). I once took them to a Super Bowl party at Pam and Michael's and I remember cooking up about a million wings for a birthday party in Eugene -- I think it was Billy Diedrich's birthday in 2012. 

So I mixed up some flour seasoned with a little cayenne and salt and black pepper, covered the wings, and fried them in butter. At the same time, I combined a half cup of Frank's Hot Sauce with a third of a cup of butter and melted them together. When the wings were done frying, I put them in a bowl and poured the hot sauce over them and made sure I evenly coated the wings.

In the past, I used to dip each wing individually in the butter and Frank's sauce. Next time I make wings, I'll do that again.

I surprised the Deke by making a side of Kraft macaroni and cheese out of the box. It was awesome. I also served up celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing and some cole slaw.

This was a very fun and delicious meal.

3. It was a lousy night for the Oakland A's.  I wanted to watch the whole game, and, while my spirit was willing, my flesh was weak and I went to bed, very sleepy (not bored), soon after the Angels' second sacker Kaleb Cowart hit a grand slam that followed a string of bad luck and lousy play on the part of the A's: a walk, an error, a hit batsman, and a fan gloving a foul ball that Stephen Piscotty most likely would have caught had the fan not snatched it -- all very costly to the A's.

(By the way, I've never understood what the big deal is about taking a souvenir baseball home from a ball game, especially if catching it means crossing in any way into the field of play to snag the ball. If I'm at a ball park and a ball is hit in the stands and a mob of 10-12 people converge on the ball and elbow and push each other to possess it, I can guarantee you that I will not be a part of the melee. And you would never see me lean out of the stands to grab a ball. Tuesday night, that ball snatching fan cost the A's a crucial out and the A's were playing at home!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/18: Getting Blood to Baltimore, Lamb Chop Debut, Wild Poker

1. Each month the transplant center in Baltimore sends me a letter regarding the status of the monthly blood sample I have drawn and sent to them. The letter I received Saturday informed me, without alarm, that the blood sample they received during the third week of July was, on the day they sent the letter, over forty days old. That means the sample I had drawn and sent out in August didn't make it to Baltimore -- for whatever reason. The same thing happened in June: my June sample never got to Baltimore.

So, first thing this morning, I zoomed up to the clinic, blood sample kit in hand, and had my September blood draw taken and talked with Tracy, the phlebotomist, about my samples not making it. Like me, she was bewildered, but she is determined to do what it might require to see that this doesn't happen again -- including making a visit to the post office herself -- and gave me an idea or two about what I might suggest to my transplant team in Baltimore.

The people I correspond with in Baltimore are really good -- and, they, too are bewildered that two of my samples didn't arrive. If this September sample doesn't make it, I'll talk with them about figuring out a different and possibly more reliable way of sending the transplant center my blood.

2. I thawed a couple of small boneless lamp chops to fix for dinner tonight. I'd never fixed lamb chops before.  I subscribe to the website at America's Test Kitchen, so I looked at some lamb chop recipes. One caught my eye. Now, this recipe was for grilling the lamb chop, so I let that part of the recipe go, but I liked the looks of making a garlic, rosemary, and olive oil paste for the chops. So, I got out my trusty mortar and pestle and smashed a couple cloves of garlic, added some rosemary leaves, crushed those together, stirred in some olive oil, applied the mixture to the lamb chops, put them in one of our permanent zip lock bags, and let the chops sit in the fridge for nearly two hours. I fried them for a few minutes on each side and they turned out really tasty, as did the roasted Brussel sprouts and cole slaw the Deke whipped up.

3. I settled in to watch the Astros and the Mariners, but, alas, the game was blacked out because of where I live. I decided to look at other options for television viewing on our very smart tv and, on PlutoTV, I found a channel that broadcasts replays of final tables of different WPT tournaments. I watched a thrilling duel between Olivier Busquet and Jeremy Brown as they battled heads up for the 2009 WPT Borgata Open in Atlantic City. In case you ever decide to watch the conclusion to this tournament, I won't divulge the results. It's entertaining. That's all I'll say.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/18: Nats Look Good, Cutting Back the Vine, Family Dinner and Memory

1. Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon smashed home runs. Rendon made one spectacular play at third base and Victor Robles made an astonishing catch in center field. The Washington Nationals looked solid up and down their lineup, both on defense and at the plate. They beat the Braves 6-4 and I wondered, not having seen them play this season and not having followed them closely, why are they out of the pennant race? What went wrong with the Nats this season? I also spent a few minutes lamenting that I never made a trip to Nationals Park to see them play when we lived in Maryland. Sigh.

2. A monstrous vine with a few trumpet shaped flowers has been growing on the east side of our front porch, almost obscuring the mailbox,  making it awkward for Hillary to deliver our mail, and grabbing onto the awning supports. I cut it way way back today and filled two waste cans with the green remains. I think the front porch looks better now and I'm happy we made life a little easier for Hillary.

3. Carol and Paul whipped up a superb family dinner tonight. Carol started us off with a little glass of raspberry liqueur which we sipped on in the living room until we joined together at the dinner table for packets of shrimp and beef sausage and delights from Carol and Paul's garden and a fresh dinner salad.

We had a lively conversation about memory and truth and fiction and non-fiction. I failed to bring it up, but our conversation reminded me of William Kittredge's insights in his memoir Hole in the Sky regarding how our character is shaped by the stories we learn to live inside of and live according to. I don't remember if Kittredge put it this way, but I know I began to think that the power of stories and the power of how we remember things lies less in their factual accuracy and more in the way stories shape our perceptions, feelings, values, and sense of our place in the world. I haven't read Tara Westover's book Educated, but it was Christy, Carol, and the Deke's discussion of this book that led us to talk about memory, stories, and the elusive nature of truth itself.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/18: 1968-Style Baseball, The Knotts at the Lounge, Taco Bar

1. Today's MLB.TV free game came on in the early afternoon from Wrigley Field in Chicago. I settled in and enjoyed watching the sun slowly descend as the game progressed, watching the shadow cast by the grandstands creep toward the pitcher's mound, watching hitters struggle a bit as pitches came out of the sunlight of the mound into the shadow that reached about thirty feet in front of home plate. It's the sight I most miss in the World Series now that teams play all games at night. I love watching autumn baseball in the golden light of mid-September on into October.

Today's game was kind of old-fashioned. The Cubs won 1-0. Not one player homered. The Cubs scratched out their only run in the bottom of the sixth when Javier Baez singled on an infield hit, advanced to second on a grounder to third base, and scored on Wilson Contreras' weakly struck bleeder through the infield to right field. Small ball doesn't get much tinier than that.

The Reds' Cody Reed pitched five innings and struck out ten Cubs. The Cubs' John Lester was equally masterful, pitching seven innings, surrendering only two hits, and striking out nine.

The game ended in a relatively swift 2 hours and 39 minutes.

2. I got a text from Cas from the Inland Lounge announcing that Don Knott was in the house, so the Deke and I piled in the Sube and dashed uptown. The Deke strolled up to Radio Brewing for a bite to eat and I joined Don, his brother Norm (whom I hadn't seen for about 50 years), his sister Shelley, and niece Marcy in a booth. They were getting ready to feast on food from Wah Hing -- Wah Hing adjoins the Inland Lounge and happily serves diners who want to eat in the Lounge.

We had a great time talking about what's happening these days with everyone and remembering this and that from the good old days. It was an awesome time.

3. Don stayed put for a while when Shelley took Norm up to Wardner and we chewed more fat and soon Shelley returned and picked up Don.

When Cas learned I hadn't eaten dinner yet, he invited me into a back room at the Lounge where Tracy had set up a taco bar for the two of them to snack at and invited me to make myself some tacos. So I plunged into the back room taco bar and nourished myself very gratefully. By this time the Deke meandered in. She got to meet Jerry and Sue Wise -- so now she's met three of the guys I have breakfast with on Friday mornings at Sam's.

It was another stellar evening at the Lounge. A couple or three drinks. A lot of ice water. Tacos. Good friends. The Deke and I loved it.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Louise Jackson Harrison's Celebration of Life (CORRECTION)

In my 09/14/18 Three Beautiful Things, I posted the wrong time for Louise Jackson Harrison's Celebration of Life. 

It will be on Saturday, Sept. 29th at 1:00.

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/18: Great Breakfast Crowd, Eugene Plans, Relaxin' at the Lounge and the Depot

1. The breakfast table at Sam's expanded this morning. Bob joined us. So did Dana.  It was especially fun to have Mike Stafford on board. Mike and I were pre-schoolers in the same neighborhood uptown over sixty years ago and now we see each other on occasion in Kellogg and join up with Ed and Terry and Jake and sometimes other guys for a Veterans' Day weekend in Pendleton, a fine tradition. A year and a half ago Mike and Ed soared in jet planes out to Maryland and the three of us toured D.C., Philadelphia, NYC, and took a drive out to eastern Maryland, among other things. We had a blast. At O'Hara's Pub and Restaurant in NYC we met a woman named Diana who had decided to come to NYC for a visit just to get away from it all. The four of us hit it off and enjoyed great conversation and, at breakfast today, Mike showed Ed and me an email he had just received a few days ago from Diana, expressing hope that the three of us were doing all right.

2. I've mentioned my friend, Jeff, many times on this blog. We worked and studied together at the Univ. of Oregon starting back in 1986 and both landed jobs at LCC where we were fellow instructors for many years. For at least twenty-five years, we've been in a coffee group together and Jeff and I have a really fun history together with the Grateful Dead and we used to go to the WOW Hall together regularly to hear jam bands like Zero, Nine Days Wonder, Little Women, and others back in the 1990s.

On August 26, Jeff's wife Louise died of a heart attack at this year's Klamath powwow. Her death shocked me and not being in Eugene where I could spend time with Jeff and our friends has weighed on me. Today, I spent a few hours writing to Jeff and I'll send the letter off soon after I read through it at least one more time.

Louise will be memorialized in a Celebration of Life on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1:00  at the LCC Longhouse.

The Deke and I already had a short trip planned to Eugene for the early part of the week of Sept. 24th. The Deke will go to her school's curriculum night and meet whatever parents attend so the parents can form a good impression of their children's soon to be teacher. The Deke's job starts around Nov. 1. The Deke also has business to tend to at the 4J District office.

We will extend our stay in Eugene and attend the Celebration of Life for Louise. Herb and Francoise agreed to let us stay longer with them and Carol and Paul are able to take care of Maggie and Charly until we return.

I'm very grateful this is all working out.

3. The Deke and I had a fun night on the town. Late in the afternoon, we dropped in the Inland Lounge and yakked with Cas and Tracy for a while and I had a good talk with Pat Kenyon, a serious one, about the recent passing away of his sister, Julie. I also saw Mike Grebil who told me his brother, Steve, one of my favorite baseball teammates over forty-five years ago, would be in town in October to hunt. Maybe we'll see each other.

The Deke and I left the Lounge to go down to the Hill St. Depot and as we were barreling down McKinley Ave., Ed was just starting to climb out of his pickup. I stopped, rolled down my window, and, on the spot, Ed agreed to meet us at Hill St. where he and the Deke and I gabbed about a bunch of stuff. The Deke and I hadn't seen Fitz or Deanne for a while and it was great yakkin' with them when each of them strolled in. In addition, Abby also popped in -- he and Fitz were meeting to arrange their spring training trip for 2019 -- and I enjoyed shooting the breeze with him and Fitz at the bar.

The Deke and I returned to the Inland Lounge. I got the lowdown first hand from Eddie Joe about the food truck (trailer, really) he just purchased and his plans for serving up hamburgers, tacos, nachos, and sausage dogs. If you are in North Idaho and happen to see a trailer called EJ's Eats, that's the latest entrepreneurial effort of Eddie Joe. Eddie Joe informed me, by the way, that a little later this fall he hopes to park his food trailer on Cameron Ave., just a little ways from our house.

I also had fun yakkin' with Riles and Martha and, once the Elks Burger Night closed shop, Harley and I sat together at the bar and Candy joined the Deke at her knitting station in a booth. As it got later and as I switched over to pint-sized glasses of ice water, things slowed down at the Lounge and the Deke had a good session of gabbing and laughter with Ashley. Meanwhile,  Cas took a break from behind the bar and we had time for some extended jabber about all kinds of things ranging from baseball to the Vietnam documentary we both have watched.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/18: Kidney News, Dark NYC History, The Fight for Greenwich Village

1. I started out the day with an appointment with N.P. Linda Jo Yawn to look over the blood work I had done last week and talk about my current state of health. I had pulled up the record of my blood work on Tuesday and the numbers troubled and mystified me.

I've lost more kidney function. My tests show I have 14% function, meaning my function has fallen into Stage 5, commonly known as End Stage Chronic Kidney Disease.

But, in every other area my blood levels are great.

Now, if decisions about treating this disease were based only on numbers, I'd be starting dialysis soon. But, it's not numbers, per se, that determine one starting dialysis. It's symptoms: itching, metallic taste in one's mouth, fatigue, nausea, edema, and others. As of now, I'm not experiencing any symptoms of renal failure.

As Linda Jo Yawn put it: "You look great. I go to the grocery store and I see people whom I can tell without knowing them are kidney patients by how they look. When I look at you, I don't see a kidney patient."

I'm not sure what to expect. My kidney function has been declining more over the last 9-10 months than at any other period of time over the last fourteen years, and, yet, I don't feel any different.  The levels of potassium, chloride, cholesterol, and other things are all within the normal range (somehow my blood is being properly filtered and regulated) and nothing bad showed up in my urine sample.

So, I see my nephrologist again in January. Linda Jo Yawn said she didn't need to see for six months unless I start feeling lousy.

I've decided that the best thing to do is wake up each day, assess whether any symptoms are beginning to show up, and, if none pop up, be grateful for another day of feeling pretty good, live it as honestly and fully as I can, and do my best not to get too anxious about what I can't do much about. Difficult days lie ahead -- but they aren't here quite yet.

2. Back home, I watched a couple innings of the Mets and the Marlins, but decided that what I was really wanting to do was watch more of The American Experience: New York.

Yesterday, in my 3BTs, I wondered if the documentary was going to plunge more deeply into the career of Robert Moses and the harm I've read his designs for public housing and building highways and expressways did to New York City, especially as these plans, once executed, devastated the neighborhoods of poor immigrants and blacks and other minorities.

It did.

The documentary's narration never used the phrase "systemic racism", but for anyone who doesn't understand this phrase or who doesn't buy into it, or, for anyone (like me) looking to understand the workings of systemic racism more fully and deeply, what this documentary explores in Episodes 6-7 paints a chilling picture of the systems of government and private enterprise (real estate developers, banks, property owners, and others) systematically treating racial and ethnic minorities as dispensable, as obstructions to progress, and as having neighborhoods unworthy of preservation and, in fact, in need of clearance. The discrimination, the racism is built into the structures and practices of power and in the enforcing of the destruction of neighborhoods and livelihoods. The consequences of what was called urban renewal were devastating and are long lasting.

3. Robert Moses stubbornly and fanatically pushed a plan to put an automobile expressway through Lower Manhattan. It required a wide swath of demolition in Greenwich Village and required demolition of Washington Square, parts of Little Italy, parts of Chinatown, and other neighborhoods across Manhattan. Led by the writer Jane Jacobs, whose writings argued against the current out with the old, in with the new urban renewal ideology of Robert Moses, the citizens of Lower Manhattan protested, jammed City Hall, and kept this expressway from being built.

Out these citizens' efforts and out of the grief New Yorkers suffered with the demolition earlier of Penn Station, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission came into being and, as a result, when we visit New York City today, Manhattan is not bifurcated or trifurcated by multi-lane expressways cutting through the island. Robert Moses' designs and efforts to build expressways through Manhattan were thwarted. And, thanks to this commission's work, such architectural wonders as St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Terminal, Washington Square, and many other magnificent structures are intact, functioning, and have benefited from restoration and cleaning (instead of clearing out) projects.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/18: Longing for the Tigers, Into the 20th Century in NYC, Cottage Cheese Balance

1. Today my free baseball game came on at 10:10 a.m. and featured the Astros and the Tigers. I longed for the days when I loved the Tigers, whether the 1968 Micky Lolich/Al Kaline/Willie Horton/Bill Freehan team or the 1984 Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker/Jack Morris or later teams up until 1999 when the Tigers played their last game in Tiger Stadium. Really, I guess that's it. When the Tigers moved to Comerica Park, I lost interest in their team. In the early 90s, I was a member of the Tiger Stadium Fan Club and it seriously aggrieved me when the Tigers left the park and tore it down. So, this morning, I missed the light tower's shadows slowly creeping over the playing field of Tiger Stadium, the overhanging upper deck in right field, and the ghosts of  Dick McAullife, Norm Cash, and Gates Brown and I lamented a bit that the 2018 version of the Detroit Tigers is kind of a lousy team.

I did, however, enjoy keeping an eye on the game. This is about the third time I've seen the Astros play this season and they have a dynamic team, powerful, speedy, fun-loving, and smartly managed. As they were a year ago, they will be a mighty squad to deal with when the playoffs roll around -- but, every day I hope they go on a little losing streak and the A's do the opposite and win the division -- but time and games are running out.

2. I took another deep plunge into The American Experience: New York today and watched with fascination as the documentary moved more deeply into the 20th century and I watched in horror and wonder as the stock market crashed and the Great Depression gripped New York City. The misery was horrible. The public works projects that got people back to work were a wonder as is the impact of the vision and drive of Robert Moses as parks and the Central Park were resurrected, as Moses imposed his vision of how to accommodate motor vehicles by building roadways intended to move people readily to and out of New York City. Apart from this documentary, I've read and listened to in podcasts the negative impacts of aspects of Moses' work and since I haven't quite finished the episode that deals with him, I don't know if Ric Burns will look at how Moses' designs injured different neighborhoods and peoples in New York.

3. The Deke took the combination of rice and braising liquid and leftover chicken from dinner last night and added zucchini and sweet peppers and cooked up a superb meal of leftovers. After I ate my bowl of this dinner, I suddenly remembered that I thought this food I cooked the night before would benefit from some balance, so I served myself some cottage cheese. I was right. Cottage cheese is an example of one of many foods I might have served alongside this curried chicken and rice to balance the (mildly) spicy flavors with something cool.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/18: Chromebook Problem, Braising a Whole Chicken, Reforming New York

1. My Chromebook has a screen problem so I took it out to the Mouse Pad. I learned that it suffered impact -- for the life of me, I don't know when, but it might have been when I had it in my pack on the New York trip. The problem is repairable, but would almost equal the cost of buying a new Chromebook, so I just might do that. I've liked my Chromebook because it's light and travels well. If I buy a new one, I will probably also buy a protective case for it.

2. I wanted to braise a whole chicken yesterday, but I didn't take it out in time to thaw it. Today, the chicken had thawed. I really wanted to slow cook it in an Indian braise, but, unfortunately, I don't have the curry paste or the spices on hand that I imagined would work well. (I needed to transport myself to the Chopped pantry!) Few of the items I wanted today are available in Kellogg.

Instead, I salt and peppered the chicken and put some salt crystals and some ginger slivers in the cavity, browned it on all sides and built a braising pyramid of onion slices, lemon slices, chopped eggplant, chopped sweet peppers, cilantro, ginger, celery greens and a few stalks, and basil.

Simultaneously, I combined coconut milk, green curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce for the braising liquid. I put the whole chicken on top of the pyramid and poured the curry sauce over it. It wasn't quite enough liquid, so I augmented it with whole milk and some water.

I constructed this braise in our Dutch oven. I brought the liquid to a boil, put the lid on, and put it in the oven at 275 degrees. Every half an hour or so, I removed excess liquid and poured the tasty liquid over the top of the whole chicken. I made a batch of jasmine rice. The liquid for the rice was two-thirds braising liquid and one third water.

When the chicken was tender, I removed the meat from the bones, strained all the greens and vegetables out of the liquid. I had used liquid I removed from the Dutch oven as the base for frying eggplant slices and topped them with Parmesan cheese. I put the strained liquid from the Dutch oven in a bowl and put the plate of chicken, the rice, the eggplant slices, and the braising liquid on the table and the Deke and I plunged into all.

It tasted good.

If I were to cook this dinner again, I'd plan ahead a little better and fix some kind of a leafy or even a fruit salad to balance out the flavors of the curry that were shot through the meal in the chicken, the rice, and the way I prepared the eggplant.

I think a better balanced meal would have tasted better and added more textures to what I served.

3. After dinner, I watched another two hour episode of The American Experience: New York.  Much of this episode took me back to when Margaret and I taught the course that combined American Working Class Literature and English Composition. This episode focused, in part, on the atrocious working conditions in New York City factories and sweatshops, especially in the garment industry. Reform efforts and the efforts of the relatively new unions failed in their efforts to improve these conditions, but, as this episode so harrowingly explored, it wasn't until nearly 150 women were either asphyxiated, burnt to death, crushed behind factory floor doors locked from the outside, or had their bodies shattered by jumping eight, nine, or ten stories to their deaths during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 25, 1911 near Washington Square in Greenwich Village, that, in time, government driven labor reform got underway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/18: History of New York City, Rockies Thump the Diamondbacks, Curried Ramen

1. Today, I watched another couple of episodes of the over seventeen hour documentary, American Experience: New York. I have now watched the documentary's coverage of New York City's history before the 20th century. The episodes I watched today focused on the unimaginable growth of wealth in New York City in the 19th century contrasted with the equally unimaginable increase in poverty, especially among immigrants who populated the squalid conditions of the tenements in the Lower East Side. What I watched today contrasted Walt Whitman's enthusiastic idealism regarding the energy and possibility immigrants brought to the USA with the horror of how employers and landlords exploited these people, crammed them into unthinkably vile slums, and paid the adults and children next to nothing for long hours of labor in factories and sweatshops.

These episodes also explored the wealth and the wealthy as New York City's energy and industry dazzled the word with the building of Central Park, the fourteen year construction of the Brooklyn Bridge (at its completion in 1883, nothing in New York City reached higher than the bridge's towers and its span), the dedication of the Statue of Liberty (1886), and the completion such marvelous public buildings as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NYC Public Library, St. Patrick's Cathedral, among others.

2. I haven't been paying much attention to the Colorado Rockies this season and today their game with their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks was my free game on MLB.TV.

Today I witnessed what makes the Rockies a formidable squad as they shellacked Arizona 13-2 with a barrage of timely hits, a bunt single (!), towering home runs by Trevor Story and David Dahl, and a superb pitching effort by German Marquez who struck out eleven Diamondbacks in seven innings -- and was the player who bunted for a hit.

3. The Deke left with Carol this afternoon for a trip to Moscow to hear the writer Tara Westover speak. I had planned on braising a whole chicken, but it didn't thaw in time, so I scrounged around the kitchen and made up a meal. I combined coconut milk, green curry paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a pan and warmed it up. Meanwhile, I chopped a couple of sweet peppers and about 2/3s of an eggplant and fried up those pieces. At the same time, I boiled a couple lumps of ramen noodles into softness. I combined all of these ingredients into a bowl and enjoyed my bowl of  green curry sauce over eggplant, sweet pepper, and ramen noodles. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/18: US Open Ends, The Red Sox Win, Comforting Sunday Family Dinner

1. Today was the last day of the US Open Tennis tournament.  I watched CoCo Vandeweighe and Ashleigh Barty's dramatic and scintillating -- and might I add, thrilling? -- women's doubles championship win over Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. Vandeweighe and Barty survived three match points -- two in the second set and one in the third -- and tenaciously played their way to the championship. I loved their celebration, their uninhibited joy, when the match ended.

I then settled in to watch Novak Djokovich and Juan Martin del Proto put on an engrossing display of power tennis, but, in the end, Djokovich was the far superior player. His game is remarkably complete, especially his talent for covering the entire court and his nearly unworldly skill at returning serve and returning his opponent's shots. Djokovich triumphed in straight sets and after he won the tie breaker in the second set, it was difficult to imagine del Proto mounting a comeback, hard to imagine him winning three sets in a row.

Both players, especially del Proto, have been stymied by injuries and I enjoyed seeing both of them appear to be in good shape.  But, honestly, I'm not sure there is a player out there who could have beaten Djokovic today.

2. Before heading over to Christy's for family dinner, I watched the start of the baseball game between two American League titans: the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. The game was tied 1-1 when I left, but, when I returned, the game was now tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, thirty-three year old Red Sox veteran Mitch Moreland, hacked a bloopy single off of Hector Rondon the opposite way to left field, scoring pinch runner Tzu-Wei Lin. This game was the third of a three game set. Houston had won the first two and avoiding the sweep meant a great deal to the Red Sox as evidenced by their ecstatic mobbing of Moreland and their unbridled celebration after the win.

3. Christy prepared a superb family dinner tonight. She fixed us each an Old Fashioned while we snacked on asparagus spears, nuts, and Gouda cheese. For dinner, she prepared one of her favorite recipes, handed over to her by the Sisters at Mt. St. Michael, overlooking Hillyard in Spokane. It's a zucchini chowder. Alongside the chowder she presented us with delicious wedges of roasted cabbage, baked with a sauce of butter, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and seasonings. Here in Kellogg, the temperature is starting to dip into the autumn range and this meal was a perfect compliment to the cooling temperatures. I love the comforting foods we can eat with the end of the summer heat and this meal perfectly comforted and nourished us.

You can find the baked cabbage recipe Christy worked from right here. The chowder recipe is typed out on paper and not available online!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/18: Bewildering Championship Match, Turning Broadway Joe into Tacos, Relaxin' at the Lounge

1. Up until about midway through the second set, I loved watching Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka play for the championship of the U. S. Open. Naomi Osaka won the first set. Then things got weird in the second set when chair umpire Carlos Ramos issued Serena Williams a warning because her coach, Patrick Mourataglou made a "come to the net more" hand gesture, technically violating the event's no coaching rule. I don't know much about that rule, but I've never seen such a warning issued before and no one disputes that such "coaching" through hand gestures and other means happens regularly in these matches and the officials ignore it. The warning insulted and upset Serena Williams. She repeatedly made her case to Carlos Ramos that she wasn't a cheater, but the ruling couldn't be reversed.

A little later Serena Williams busted her racket in frustration after she lost a key game in the second set and was assessed an equipment abuse violation. Because it was her second violation, it cost her a point in the next game. Serena Williams protested.  She called chair umpire Carlos Ramos a thief. He issued Williams a third violation for abuse of an official, costing her an entire game.

Naomi Osaka had outplayed Serena the entire match. She served beautifully, played with poise, moved Serena Williams all over the court, and hit brilliant passing shots and winners. Osaka was on her way to winning this match on the merits of her own play, unless Serena Williams could stage what would have been a remarkable comeback.

Serena Williams couldn't overcome the point or the game that was awarded to Naomi Osaka and Osaka won the championship. It was a nearly joyless victory because of what transpired between Carlos Ramos and Serena Williams. I've never seen a more painful trophy presentation for any event. During the ceremony, Serena Williams tried to shift attention to Naomi Osaka's brilliant play on the court. The crowd tried to cheer up Naomi Osaka, but the damage to the match couldn't be undone.

I'm bewildered by Carlos Ramos' decision regarding Serena being coached from the grandstands. If this rule were consistently enforced, I'd think differently about it, but I thought Carlos Ramos' ruling was bizarre.  I didn't think Serena Williams' verbal response went too far. I've heard far worse protests leveled at umpires in matches, profane protests, that the umpire let play out without penalty. Having already been issued a violation, Serena Williams should have maintained her composure when she shattered her racket. Such abuse of equipment is a clear violation and required no interpretation on the chair umpire's part. I don't think Serena Williams' verbal protests rose to the level of abuse, though, especially given what I've witnessed other players do in the past.  It looked to me like she got under Carlos Ramos' skin. I thought he should have let Serena Williams' protests run their course, especially because she wasn't cussing him out.

Remarkably, through all of the delays and protests and with the crowd showering boos upon Carlos Ramos, Naomi Osaka remained composed. Each time play resumed, she continued to hit rockets, whether serving or returning serve, and demonstrated that she was the superior player today. These days, tennis players and coaches talk a lot about "finding solutions" during a match when a player is having trouble with an opponent. Serena Williams couldn't find solutions for dealing with Naomi Osaka's game. Osaka was too powerful, too accurate, and too consistent for Serena Williams to overcome and I hope when the match's controversy dies down that Naomi Osaka will be remembered as a twenty-year old who soundly defeated Serena Williams by playing superior tennis and maintaining her calm in the midst of a highly charged drama -- a drama involving the player Naomi Osaka has idolized over the years, Serena Williams.

After I wrote the above, I read an article over at Slate which examines how both Carlos Ramos and Serena Williams were in the wrong on Saturday. It makes this point better than I did and, overall, reflects how I see things. You can read it here.

2. The Deke fried up some ground beef, onion, egg, and other things and added spinach to it and made a late lunch/early dinner for us called Broadway Joes. It was an offering on the menu at Strobel's in Spokane where the Deke was a server about 45 years ago and made for a delicious meal.
I used mine as a taco filler and loved how this excellent mess of foods tasted inside corn tortillas after I heated them up over an open flame on the stove top.

3. The Deke and I decided it would be fun to go up to the Inland Lounge to relax, yak, and laugh with Cas and Tracy and whoever happened to stroll in. It worked. We had many fun conversations, listened to some excellent music on the jukebox, and had a lot of laughs. It was a great session at the Lounge.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/18: Farewell Transponder, Nadal's Knee Gave Out, Awesome Imperial Stouts and the WNBA

1. I got right on it this morning and closed my Virginia E-ZPass account, packed the transponder in aluminum foil, went to the Post Office and mailed it to Clifton Forge, VA along with a package to Molly, and, while I was at it, dropped off my suit at the dry cleaners and picked up a few items at Yoke's.  I'll miss that little transponder affixed to the windshield under the rear view mirror in the Sube. It not only served its purpose of allowing us to whiz through toll booths without having to pay cash on the spot, it also was a reminder to me of all the fun traveling we did from 2014-2017: we drove several times to New Jersey and New York; we drove through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana on our way to Chicago --  well, one year we only went as far as Battle Ground, IN for the Indiana Fiddle Gathering and a family reunion; and I loved the trip we took to Virginia to visit Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg before coming home by way of the Maryland Eastern Shore. The memories remain even if the transponder is gone, but the transponder triggered those memories daily whenever I've piled into the Sube to do one thing or another.

2. This afternoon, I flipped on ESPN to watch the semi-final match between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro. Both men are magnificent players and I keenly anticipated, with no predictions, how their match would play out. It turned out to be a mournful match. Nadal, who had been pushed hard in his last three matches, and especially hard against Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals, was afflicted by a flare up of tendinitis in his right knee, forcing him to retire from the match. As you will soon read, I didn't watch the other semi-final match between Novak Djokovic and Kie Nishikori, but checked the score from time to time and learned that del Potro will face Djokovic in the the finals, a match up I am eager to see play out between these two powerful players.

3. Why didn't I watch the other tennis match? Well, Shawn and Teresa were unable to come to Beer Club because of family obligations, so the Deke and I had a Beer Club session of our own. We split two bottles of Imperial Stout, starting with a deep and very tasty brew from Coldfire Brewing in Eugene. Now, had our late afternoon Beer Club meeting on the back deck ended here, we would have said this was one of the best Imperial Stouts we had tasted for a while.

But, I cracked open a bottle of Fremont Brewing's The Last Nail and it might be the best Imperial Stout we have ever drunk. Aged for many months in bourbon barrels, it is a thick, black stout with a forward taste of black licorice and then, wait for it, on the back end rewarded us with a nearly unbearably delicious hit of cinnamon. I honestly hated to take another sip of this beer because consuming it was making it disappear! We moaned and yummed our way through this bottle and followed it up with some cheese I'd purchased at Murray's at Fred Meyer and then the Deke fixed us each an elk patty and some pickled red onions for dinner.

I decided after drinking The Last Nail that I wanted that taste to end my session of beer drinking, so I retired to the tv room, listened to some wrap up talk among the experts about the US Open and watched the last half of the Seattle Storm's blowout of the Washington Mystics in the first game of the WNBA finals. It's disappointing that Elena Delle Donne is playing injured for the Mystics. She's a superb basketball player and it's painful to see her having to play at less than full speed. Tonight it looked like the Mystics are doomed, but we'll see what happens in Game 2 on Sunday -- a game I doubt I'll see much of because of the US Open Tennis final.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/18: Blood Work, Maggie's Old Age, Steaks and Tennis

1. After a twelve hour fast, I hustled up to the clinic for a blood draw in preparation for an appointment with Linda Jo Yawn next week.

2. The Deke took Maggie to the vet because Maggie has been panting heavily, on occasion, especially at night. The vet didn't find anything too serious the matter -- Maggie is fourteen years old and is experiencing some of the indignities of growing old -- cataracts, arthritis, and anxiety, for example. Her heart and lungs are strong and the Deke and I marvel often at how spry and alert Maggie is most of the time.

3. I fixed tiny sirloin steaks for dinner to go with a mess of beets and chard and other delicious vegetables and the red onions pickled in balsamic vinegar the Deke had prepared. I then watched Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka dominate Anastasija Sevastova and Madison Keys, respectively, to set up a fascinating finals match. It's hard to imagine that Osaka can defeat Williams, but Osaka has a lot of game, even at twenty years old, and might just present a stout challenge to Williams.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/05/18: Cemetery and Rose Lake Restaurant, CdA Bargains and Haircut, Manito Park and Perry Street

1. Christy picked me up shortly after 8 and then picked up Carol and the three of us got a sibling outing going. If I remember correctly, our last sibling outing occurred last August when we went to Kendall Yards before my sisters dropped me off at the Ramada Inn and I flew back to Maryland to pack up and move to Kellogg.

Mom died on August 16th a year ago and the three of us wanted to mark the first anniversary of her passing with a day devoted to her memory. But, when we looked at our calendars, it turned out today was the soonest we could have our day together.

We started with a trip to the cemetery where Christy set mums on Mom and Dad's grave.

Because Mom used to meet with her 49er friends (grads of the Orofino Class of '49) at the Rose Lake Restaurant, we decided to go there for breakfast. I was very happy with my sausage gravy on flaky biscuits, hash browns also covered in gravy, and two eggs. I'd been to the Rose Lake Restaurant about three years ago and was reminded what a comfortable, neatly appointed cafe it is, with friendly service and solid food.

2. For the next phase of our sibling outing, we stopped in Coeur d'Alene. Christy and Carol honored Mom by going to Michael's and ShopKo in Mary Woolumesque pursuit of bargains and to honor Mom's love of fall and Halloween decor.

This was not an area of life where Mom and I connected. But, I thought, given what a ragmop my hair had become, wouldn't Mom love it if I went to Supercuts for a haircut so I'd look respectable on this day in her honor instead of looking like I'd just poked a wet finger in an electric socket?

I didn't have to wait a second at Supercuts. My do was done in about ten minutes. I then camped out at Starbucks and, after a while, my sisters picked me up, flush with the excitement of having bought stuff and, if I heard correctly, having saved a ton of money!

3. We vaulted out of CdA and bolted straight to Manito Park, one of Mom's favorite places anywhere. We parked at the Duncan Gardens where the conservatory was closed while insecticide was being applied to the plants (a disappointment). I took a stroll around the circumference of the gardens.

I also took pictures.

When I took out my camera and got things set up, I was shocked to discover than I hadn't used my Nikon since November 16, 2017.

I didn't particularly like the light at Duncan Gardens. It was shortly after noon and the light felt a bit harsh to me. Within myself, I wished we could have come here in the late afternoon when the light was more golden, but I was determined to snap some suitable pictures, ones I could live with.

I was rusty. But, with some patience and some tinkering around with settings, I started to feel back in the picture taking groove again and when you get to the end of this post, you can see some of the pictures I took of gorgeous flowers at the Duncan Gardens.

I had volunteered to pick a place for us to eat in the afternoon. It's not to my credit that I made a selection without Mom in mind. But, we had decided that if we ate in Spokane in honor of Mom, we'd be going to Applebee's or Red Lobster -- or The Onion on North Division -- but we wanted to try something else.

Well, as luck would have it, Mom had always wanted to go to the Perry District. I doubt very much she had Perry Street Brewing or the Lantern Tap House in mind when she made this wish, but the Perry District has other sites she might have enjoyed: a thrift store, a nursery, and other assorted shops.

We ate at Perry Street Brewing. It's a splendid place, built in the style of many contemporary tasting rooms and brewery eateries: it's airy with big windows and simple tables and chairs. The huge garage door like windows facing Perry Street can be rolled up so that the entire west wall opens up to a deck and it makes sitting it that part of the tasting room feel akin to sitting outside, but without the sun's glare.

I enjoyed my 12 oz pour of  Squeezy MO Hazy IPA and loved eating today's taco special, two pork tacos with a southwest slaw and a variety of flavors that popped in my mouth with each bite.

On the way back to Kellogg, we decided we'd like to cap off the day with a last toast to Mom at the Hill Street Depot in Kellogg. The Deke and Paul joined us and we relaxed after a really fun day around the big table in the Hill St. Depot's Farrah Fawcett/Goldfinger room.

Here are some pictures I took at Duncan Gardens:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sibling Assignment #194: The Grass Was Greener

Here's the next assignment Carol gave the three of us to write about:

While attending Cosette's graduation recently, it got me thinking about when I graduated from college, what I did and didn't remember that day, and where I was at regarding my future. Think back to when you graduated and received your bachelor's degree. What happened next in your life, and how do you remember feeling at this crossroads in your life?

Christy's post is here and Carol's is here.

Here's mine:

There was time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and freshness of a dream.

--William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality"

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever

--David Gilmour and Polly Samson, "High Hopes"

I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with two majors, history and English, at Whitworth College. Our commencement weekend was held May 15th and 16th in 1976 and included a parent/student golf tournament, a gala at the Davenport Hotel, a Baccalaureate service on Sunday morning, and the graduation ceremony in the afternoon.

I experienced a wide range of feelings over commencement weekend. For starters, while I was graduating as a student, I would be returning to Whitworth in the fall as a Chaplain's Assistant in the college's Chaplain's Office. Therefore, I didn't feel the pain of separation that I might have. Had I been going elsewhere upon graduation, the pain of leaving Whitworth College would have been profound.

I loved Whitworth College and my wide and deep range of experiences at the college. For me, and especially given the faculty I studied under, Whitworth College was the perfect Christian liberal arts college. My professors were dedicated to the ideals of a liberal arts education with the core of their instruction centered around exploring, inquiring into the nature of human nature, the nature of the human condition, and the great value of self-examination. My professors and the many speakers who presented Forum lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays raised questions about the intersection of Christian thinking, ideas, and theology and the more secular questions raised by the subject matter of the humanities.

As a result, I was going to college at a school devoted to its Christian mission, but, for me, in a decidedly interrogative way. I never experienced a professor try to impose upon me his or her theology or his or her way of living a Christian life. Because there was not a uniform way for faculty to be Christian at Whitworth College, I encountered a wide variety of possibilities for how to think about and how to read the Bible and pray, what my role in the world is as a Christian, and how to think of myself and my growth as a person as a Christian. This variety of perspectives gave rise to tension on campus, conflict between faculty members, between students, between students and professors, and between the administration and alumni.  Some faculty (and alumni) wanted the college to define its Christian more narrowly, more precisely and wanted to impose stricter controls on behavior on campus; other faculty wanted an (even) more undefined mission and resisted any movement toward the college issuing anything like a college-wide Statement of Faith.

For me, studying and making friends in such an environment was electrifying, thrilling, scintillating. Indeed, as David Gilmour and Polly Samson write in their song, "High Hopes", it seemed to me every day at Whitworth that "The grass was greener/The light was brighter/ The taste was sweeter". For me, studying for tests, writing papers, having discussions about literature, history, and what it means to be Christian provided me with many "nights of wonder/with friends surrounded". It was a time in my life when everything, as Wordsworth writes, "To me did seem/Apparalled in celestial light,/The glory and freshness of a dream."

Being in love also romanticized my two years as a student at Whitworth. Not only was I going to return to Whitworth as an employee, I would also be getting married in September of 1976. So, as I approached the crossroads of graduating from Whitworth, I had a job, I was about to get married, and I would be returning to this place I loved so much assisting the Chaplain's program. I remember how good life felt to me as the school year ended. Yes, I would be saying farewell to friends in the Class of 1976, but I had made a number of friends who were younger than me and would be returning to Whitworth, so it felt to me like much of my social life would be intact.

On the day of commencement, I was nervous. I'd been selected along with a handful of other graduates, to give a talk at graduation. I tried to use Rainer Maria Rilke's poem, "The Archaic Torso of Apollo" and its stirring conclusion, "...for here there is no place/ that does not see you. You must change your life" to make a point that I'm sure I thought was inspiring at the time. I have no idea what I said, but I do remember that my Grandma Woolum criticized me for reading my short talk and not having it memorized.

When the commencement ceremony was over, my fiancee's family and our family shared a meal outside at Grandma Woolum's house. My fiancee and I received gifts. Our families were proud of us. Dad bought Budweiser beer instead of Heidelberg. It was his way of saying this was a special day.

That night, a Sunday, the dorms were still open. The next day, I think, was moving day. I don't remember a lot of undergraduates being around that night, but several fellow graduates were and I remember aching with the pain of not wanting to separate. I spent the evening packing up my dorm room and my Volkswagen -- back then, I would only have as much in my room as I could fit in my tiny car. Friends dropped by, having had their own celebrations and I dropped in on people. We embraced. We wished each other the best. We talked. We remembered. We looked ahead, doing our best to disguise our uncertainty, telling one another that we knew we'd do great whether the next step was seminary, graduate school, a job, getting married, or whatever it was.

I returned to Whitworth the next three falls, first as a chaplain's assistant and then as a part-time instructor. I returned again as a full-time temporary instructor in the fall of 1982 and finished that appointment in the spring of 1984.

I've never loved a place again like I loved Whitworth College. When I returned to graduate school in 1984, I dreamed that I would finish my doctorate at the University of Oregon and hoped I would somehow return as a full-time tenured professor.

That didn't happen.

I didn't finish my doctorate. That made returning to Whitworth an impossibility.

But, to be honest, I think things worked out better for having worked all those years at Lane Community College. I'm glad I never brought the instability of my personal life, my failed marriages and confused sense of my self from 1982-1997 back to Whitworth permanently.  I'm very happy that I got to work with students for all those years at LCC who, by and large, lived in the Eugene area, were often trying to piece broken lives back together again, and who represented a far greater variety of age, backgrounds, and experiences in life than the undergraduates at Whitworth did.

That said, aside from the fact that I didn't integrate Christian inquiry into my instruction at LCC, I taught all those years at LCC as if I were teaching at Whitworth, focusing my instruction on philosophical questions, on self-examination, and on trying to determine if life has meaning -- and, if it does, what that meaning is. In other words, what does it mean to live a well-lived life?

These philosophical questions were foremost in my mind the day I graduated from Whitworth and have been alive inside me for the forty-two years since.

As a student and an educator, I was a romantic at Whitworth and I persisted in my idealism for the thirty-seven years I went to school and worked as an instructor after I graduated.

That's how things turned out.

Sibling Assignment #193: You Want to Go Where?

I gave this Sibling Assignment:

Write about a dream trip you'd like to take in the United States, even if you don't think it'll ever happen.
Include where you'd like to go, and, if fitting, what time of year you'd like to make this trip. Also discuss why this is your dream.

Carol's post is here and here is Christy's.

I dream about taking a long road trip in states east of Idaho and west of Ohio. My dream trip would include Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Last September, when the Deke and I drove from Silver Spring, MD to Kellogg, ID, we made stops in Eau Claire, WI;  Bismark, ND; and Bozeman, MT. In Bismark and Bozeman we tried out a couple of breweries and loved them and, in Bozeman, we had food from a Brazilian joint that we enjoyed a lot.

It made me think that all through these states in places like Butte, Dillon, Cody, Gillette, Lincoln, Omaha, Fargo, Pierre, Mitchell, Ames, Davenport, Bemidji, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, La Crosse, New Glarus, Normal, Springfield, Lafayette, Fort Wayne, and other underdog places we might find local breweries, diners, interesting sites to visit, Episcopalian churches, people to yak with, unique beauty, and other surprises such as local festivals or markets.

I love going to big cities so you'd think my dream trip would be to Chicago or New York City or Washington, DC, or Boston; I love the northeast, so you might also think that my dream trip would be to New England in the fall or to return to Cap Cod in October.

But, at the same time, the Deke and I love smaller places, places never mentioned when we see sexy travel ads, places where, if we were asked where we'd like to go, the response would be, "Why? Who goes to Fargo? Or Davenport? Or Normal? Or Omaha?"

I'd be most interested in making such a trip when the weather has cooled off a bit, like in late September or October. I'd enjoy the golden light of autumn, the less crowded roads, and the availability of beers brewed for the fall as well as year round offerings. It would be much easier to walk around and explore these less famous, less glamorous place in the fall, making it much easier to find yarn shops, bottle shops, bookstores, galleries, museums, coffee shops. or other places that might surprise us.

Maybe most of all, I enjoy being out on wide open roads and I enjoy driving on back roads. Travel in these states promises both. I love the feel of the hugeness of the USA. Some find it boring, I realize, but when I am out on those long stretches of uninterrupted terrain in the Dakotas or Montana or driving across Minnesota, I am awestruck by the immense amount of space in this part of the USA and it relaxes me, fills me with wonder, and gives my mind plenty of room to wander and think about things.

I do believe that one day the Deke and I will take some version of this trip. We might focus more on the Great Lakes. We might venture into parts unknown to us in Canada. But whatever we decide, it's almost a sure thing that we'll go where the land stretches out and the towns and cities are modest, not huge and boasting.

Sibling Assignment #192: The Black-eyed Susan Plant Endured

Christy assigned this Sibling Assignment.

What flowers evoke strong memories with you? Share those memories.

Christy's post is here and here is Carol's.

Back in the spring of 1995, with the help of Terrie B., I started planting flowers around the house in Eugene I now lived in alone after a marital dissolution. I never liked how lousy the grass grew in either the front or back yard and I went to work rather haphazardly digging up areas of lawn and planting a variety of flowers. I tried to consult gardening books and magazines for planning ideas, but I thought they all looked too planned and for some unknown reason, I wanted my yard and my flowers to look unplanned. So, I broke rules of garden planning, putting in tall plants where short ones should go, regarding the back of the front yard as the front, when looked at from the house, and the front, when looked at from the house, as the back; and, I suppose tried, as much as anything, to plant a half-assed meadow, but, really, it was just an increasing number of flowers coming out of the ground in artless fashion.

Along each side of the sidewalk leading from the porch to the front public sidewalk, I planted the herbs and flowers Ophelia mentions in her mad speech in Hamlet. This was exactly the wrong place to plant, say, rosemary, but other things worked pretty well.

The following spring, in 1996, I continued this project. I began digging up the strip of lawn between the front sidewalk and the street and planting flowers there. By that time, I had started to favor some flowers over others -- I came to really enjoy lilies and daisies. Shasta daisies were part of the yard when I bought the house and my love for them moved me to plant some Black-eyed Susans.

Dad died on June 1st of 1996 and I had come to Kellogg about three weeks earlier to help out as we cared for him at home as he died. This meant I had to leave behind all my spring plantings, but another good friend, Ellen E., helped me immeasurably while I was gone and watered my flowers and cared for them.

I had a Black-eyed Susan plant close to Madison St. and it flourished all summer long in the heat, thanks to Ellen's care, and thanks to my attention when I returned. Like all my flowers, I fed the Black-eyed Susan regularly, watered it almost daily, and maybe it benefited from my love for this plant.

Remarkably, long after other flowers in my yard began to diminish and die in the fall, the Black-eyed Susan hung on. As I remember, we didn't have a frost that fall until late in November -- it might even have been early December -- and even though the temperatures dipped and even as the days grew shorter, this Black-eyed Susan continued to smile, continued to bring me cheer for a couple of months beyond what I had expected.

This spring, as the Deke and I contemplated what to plant in our new back yard, I had already decided that I wanted Black-eyed Susans and so I bought some starters out in Pine Creek and now they are flourishing, giving the planter that Dad built years ago a fresh sense of good cheer. I doubt these Black-eyed Susans will last until Thanksgiving, but as long as they are thriving, they will remind me of my early days of growing flowers, my gratitude to Terrie B. and Ellen E. for all their help, and of the small miracle of the long life of the Black-eyed Susans in 1996.

Three Beautiful Things 09/04/18: Good News and Appreciation, CdA Shopping Spree, Radio and Rafael Nadal

1. I thought my retiree medical insurance coverage ended at the end of this month, but today I learned that it lasts until November 30th. Starting December 1st, I'll be enrolled in Medicare. That I am not facing an insurance gap in October and November is a great relief.  I'm very grateful, as I have been for the last six years, that our union, the LCC Education Association, negotiated such an excellent early retirement arrangement and that, thanks to the Deke wanting to continue to work, I could take an early retirement.  I've never taken any of this good fortune for granted, not for a second.

2. The Deke and I strolled into one of CdA's fine diners, Jimmy's Down the Street, after we soared in the Sube over the hill into Breakfast Town. I enjoyed a pancake with a couple of eggs and a single sausage link and the Deke gave me her sourdough toast. Afterward, we headed straight to Fred Meyer and bought some types of produce not usually available in Kellogg these days (like eggplant!) and then went to Pilgrim's where I bought some meat and we returned to Kellogg, happy with our outing.

3. Paul and Carol help us out immensely by taking in the Corgis when we travel and we treated them to a dinner at Radio Brewing tonight and talked about our comings and goings over the next couple of months.

I joked that everyone at the table was lucky I was there because, even as we dined, Rafael Nadal was playing Dominic Thiem in the US Open's quarter-final round. When we returned home, I blasted back into the tv room and flipped on the match and watched as much of the fireworks of these two mighty players slugging and slogging it out in the New York heat and humidity as I could. But, early in the fifth set, even though neither Nadal nor Thiem hit the wall, I did. I went to bed after about five games -- I'm getting old -- and woke up a few hours later to find out by checking my phone that, in fact, Nadal won the fifth set in a 7-5 tiebreaker, thus winning the match. I would have loved to have seen it to the finish, but, alas, I ran out of steam and if I'd stayed in front of the tv, probably would have fallen asleep in the chair!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/03/18: Morning Trip to Breakfast Town, A's Win!, Mammoth Upset at the US Open

1. Once I finished my morning routine, I hurled myself into the Sube and picked up Ed in Kingston and we launched ourselves over the 4th of July Pass into CdA for a visit to Breakfast Town. We met with Stu and Lars at Nosworthy's Hall of Fame where I enjoyed a couple of pancakes with a two stips of bacon and two fried eggs. We've all known each other since Moses parted the Red Sea and had a lot of fun yakkin' about boats, Kellogg in 2018, the YMCA building, a little bit about retirement, and other things. It had been a while since we'd haunted the confines of Nosworthy's and it made me think it would be a lot of fun to do this a little more often with even more of us guys. 

2. Back home, I started to work figuring out my medical insurance situation for the near future and I remembered the Oakland A's and New York Yankees were on ESPN. I tuned into the game a little late so I missed the early burst of runs both teams scored, but I enjoyed watching the last six or seven innings as a small parade of Oakland pitchers rendered the Yankees impotent, sealing the A's 6-3 win. 

I enjoy when I see the A's play at home. I have a lot of memories of the A's teams that won three consecutive World Series titles from 1972-74 when the quirky Oakland Coliseum was on television a lot and memories came rushing back today, especially when a couple or three players hit pop ups that were caught in the spacious area between the playing field and the stands, pop ups that anywhere else would have gone five rows into the seats. I can still see Ray Fosse, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace, and other vintage Oakland players gobbling up these pop ups near the stands after trotting about three miles to camp themselves in foul territory and rob yet another hitter of his time at bat. 

I also had fun messaging back and forth with A's super fan Rich Brock during the game. He was communing with nature on this Labor Day and I kept him up to date on the A's success and he kept me up to date on what music was playing in the store when he and Amy ended their dive into nature with a shopping trip. We got a good laugh out of "Layla" being followed up by "I Write the Songs"! 

3. The Deke and I finished eating the zucchini stuffed with German sausage and vegetables and topped with cheddar cheese she made and I retired back to the tv room and watched the unsung Australian John Millman defeat Roger Federer in four sets in the 4th round of the U. S. Open in muggy Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY. Even though the match lasted past midnight, the heat never really diminished with temperatures hovering around 84 degrees and the high humidity making it feel like the low 90s. The younger Millman seemed less bothered by the heat. Federer, however, was sluggish, out of sorts, uncomfortable and Millman played relentlessly brilliant tennis on his way to upsetting the usually impeccable Federer. It might have been the heat, but for the first time I thought the 37 year old Federer looked old at times, able at moments to hit some of the laser beam shots he's famous for, but more often than not his stroke seemed tired, even lackadaisical, and he struggled much of the match with his serve, double faulting ten times. Millman proved to be the superior player in this match. He ran the court tirelessly, hit brilliant winners, and kept Federer under constant pressure. It was a superb win for John Millman. I'm really glad I watched nearly every stroke of this match. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/02/18: U. S. Open Tennis, Beef Stroganoff Soup, Family Yakkin'

1. I am very happy that with Christy's help I can watch the small amount of programming I'm interested in on ESPN. At this point in the U. S. Open tennis tournament, ESPN is covering matches live and I was once again mesmerized by the play of Rafael Nadal and the way his play elevates the play of his opponent. Today Nadal faced Nikolos Basilashvili of the Republic of Georgia, a player he had beaten in the French Open a year ago, losing only one set in the entire match. Today, Basilashvili was a stout opponent, ultimately worn down by Nadal's relentless shotmaking, but he played some scintillating tennis, winning the third set. If the commentators were correct, Basilashvili was combating fatigue and heavy legs during the fourth set, but he still stretched Nadal with his power and precision.

Later I watched Serena Williams play Estonia's Kaia Kanepi. After the first set, which Williams won 6-0, it looked like William would cruise to a win, but Kanepi came alive in the second set and won it. In the third set, Williams returned to her more dominant play and closed out the match with a 6-3 win in the third set. I thought, in the end, Williams' serve was the difference in the match. She boomed eighteen aces and when her first serve was in, she won the point 82% of the time.

2. I took a break from watching tennis and went to Yoke's to buy the groceries I needed to cook tonight's Sunday Family Dinner. I cannot repeat often enough how much I enjoy the cooler weather so that I can cook at the stove and not make the kitchen uncomfortably warm.

I've been aching for months to make a hot soup. I looked at my Keto recipes on Pinterest and discovered I had saved a good looking recipe for Beef Stroganoff soup. I put the sirloin steaks I would brown into the freezer for nearly an hour so that they would slice easier and then sliced them as thinly as I could, salt and peppered them, and browned them in butter. I put them aside and fried minced onion and garlic for a few minutes and then added a ton of sliced mushrooms. Meanwhile, I also poured a couple of containers of my homemade chicken stock into the Dutch oven and cooked a head of cauliflower florets until they were beginning to soften. I spooned about half the florets out and used the immersion blender to pulverize the rest of the florets, thus thickening and slightly sweetening the soup's broth. I put the steak strips, mushrooms, onion, and garlic into the broth, added some Dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon, and a light sprinkling of paprika and let the soup simmer, without a lid, for a while, then turned off the heat and put the lid back on. About fifteen minutes or so before dinner, I folded two cups (more than the recipe called for) of sour cream into the soup and served it.

The Deke made us each a cottage cheese salad with a variety of vegetables like grated radishes, picked onions, and others.

Everyone enjoyed the soup and the salad and I was very happy that my little experiment with adding cauliflower to the stroganoff soup worked so well.

The stroganoff soup recipe is here.

3. Dinner talk ranged over many topics including making plans for a sibling outing on Wednesday, what might happen on Thanksgiving Day, Carol and Paul's ideas for earning money now that Carol has retired, the women making plans for a trip to the University of Idaho next week, and much more. While we ate dinner inside to avoid any pesky yellow jackets that might be around, our pre-dinner cocktail time and post-dinner yakkin' all took place in the blissfully increasingly chilly air of the back deck.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/18: More New York History, Goin' Up the River, Pork Chops and the Lounge

1. For nearly two hours this morning, I settled into Episode 2 of American Experience: New York, "Order and Disorder (1825-65)". This episode explored the rapid growth of New York City as an industrial center, with much of its burgeoning population crammed into the cramped neighborhoods along the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan. Immigrants from across Europe, especially from Ireland, arrived in huge numbers and competed with blacks living in New York for cheap labor. I loved how this episode gave much attention to the writings of Walt Whitman who marveled at the influx of new people arriving in New York and wrote long lines of detailed verse about the energy and vitality of New York City. Unlike many writers who were appalled by this expansion of New York City's immigration population, Whitman loved the variety of peoples, the languages they spoke, the music they played, and the vigor they contributed to life in New York City.

During period of history in New York City, a great economic depression occurred and to put men to work, the city created an expansive public works project with the ambitious construction of Central Park. But, also during this period, as the Civil War broke out and with the passage of the Conscription Act, turmoil erupted in Manhattan. The Conscription Act allowed men to buy their way out of the draft for a fee of $300, a way of keeping wealthy men from having to serve the Union army. Lower and working class white immigrants deeply resented this clause of the act and on July 13, 1863, with New York city unprotected by any police or militia or soldiers because they'd been sent to the Battle at Gettysburg and hadn't returned, the Draft Riots broke out.

Mobs of mostly Irish immigrants took to the streets and attacked wealthy citizens, burned buildings, targeted military and governmental centers, and temporarily brought the draft to an end.  Soon the rioters turned their attention to black New Yorkers. The Irish resented black workers and over the next few days committed atrocities including the lynching, mutilation, public burning, and drowning of black men, the storming of a black children's orphanage (the children escaped), and the destruction of black businesses and homes. It was a gruesome five days brought to an end when soldiers who had fought at Gettysburg returned to Manhattan and quelled the riot.

If I had every read about or heard about the Draft Riots of 1863, I had forgotten about them, but I'll never forget these terrible five days again.

2. Early in the afternoon, the Deke and I sprang out of the house and piled into the Sube and blasted our way up the North Fork of the CdA River to pay Jim and Stephanie Byrd a visit at their peaceful property along the river not too far from Prichard. We sat on the river bank and relaxed, enjoying the cool riverside air and the refreshing breezes that kicked up, and yakked for nearly two hours. It was a blissful time with good friends and soaking up the early autumn comfort of the mountain and river air.

3. I'd taken pork chops out to thaw a day ago and immediately upon arriving home, I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary. I also warmed up the leftover rice and braising liquid from our rump roast dinner and the Deke made a superb salad. The pork chops fried up quickly and soon the Deke and I dove into this simple and delicious dinner.

After dinner, I rested a bit, let my dinner settle, and then the Deke and I headed up to the Inland Lounge where for a little while we were the only customers so got to yak with Cas and Tracy uninterrupted for a while. Soon, though, other denizens of the Lounge filed in and we had a great time yakkin' with Seth about his trip to Chicago and taking his kids to Wrigley Field and spending a night across the street at the Hotel Zachary and having fun strolling around downtown and along the Chicago River. Seth put me in high living vicariously mode as I listened to him and thought about the fun times I've had in Chicago (but I've never seen a game at Wrigley).