Friday, October 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/18: Off to Eugene, Lunch at Penny's Pit, Slate Creek, *Blood Work

1. The Deke's start date at Charlemagne Elementary (Ecole Immersion en Francais) changed from Nov. 1 to Monday, October 29th. The Deke concluded that her transition into this classroom would go more smoothly if she were in the classroom on October 26th, so she packed her bags and took off sometime after 7:00 to begin living and working in Eugene until the school year ends in June. I'm really happy that the Deke seized this opportunity to return to teaching in a situation she knows well. When we left Maryland, she wasn't really ready to be done with teaching. She was elated last June when she learned that the school needed a teacher to fill in for another teacher's maternity leave and was further elated when her application for the position was successful. I'm very grateful for the unlimited text messaging and phone calls so that we can keep in touch and know what's happening with each other while we're apart.

After the Deke rocketed away for Eugene, I went to the dentist and learned about extensive treatment I could receive to help prevent infection. This is an important subject in relation to a potential kidney transplant. It's crucial that if I go through with a transplant that my system, very much including my teeth and gums, are free of infection. I'm pondering the possibilities the dentist presented to me today.

2. After the dentist visit, I slammed the Sube into gear and bounded over the 4th of July Pass, glided through CdA, cruised north, and pulled in at Penny's Pit Gourmet Burgers in Rathdrum to meet Stu for lunch. I can't remember where I'd heard about this place, sitting obscurely between a laundromat and a convenience store and right by a self-serve car wash in the Dashco Conoco Phillips center on Highway 53, but whatever I heard or read was enthusiastic and now I know why. The gorgonzola and arugula burger I ordered was bursting with fire grilled ground chuck meaty flavor. The gorgonzola cheese added a rich, blue cheesy layer of zing and underneath it was the peppery and nutty crunchiness of the arugula. I liked the fries, too. Stu and I agreed: we will return to Penny's Pit.

I am working to reduce my meat consumption for the sake of my kidneys, and, I swear, near abstinence makes the meat I do eat pop with tasty pleasures I might otherwise take for granted.

Stu and I had a lot of fun yakkin' about the bizarre night of the Homecoming bonfire our senior year in high school Soon I'll be writing about this in a Sibling Assignment, so I won't give away the details now, but it was one of the strangest evenings I ever experienced in Kellogg, Idaho. We also reminisced about the athletes we admired in the Silver Valley and both accurately surmised that no one was sitting at a restaurant anywhere recalling the athletic feats of the two of us. We always get a kick out of our mediocre high school athletic careers -- but, to be fair, Stu had some stellar performances on the track and field team.

3. After lunch, I popped into Pilgrim's to pick up a couple of tubs of tofu (non-meat protein source) and a couple of cans of fresh hop beer for Beer Club. Since it was past two o'clock, I knew Slate Creek Brewing was open so I strolled in to have a pint and a half of Ft. George's Fresh IPA. Fall is fresh hop beer season and, I enjoyed the piney and earthy bitterness of this beer brewed with hops that were not yet 24 hours old when they were dumped into the brew -- you can think of the full flavor of these fresh hops as comparable using fresh herbs as opposed to dry ones when cooking.

As I left Pilgrim's, I texted Byrdman to see if he had completed in bicycle ride up the North Fork of the CdA River. He had and before long he joined me and we had the pleasure of being served by Jilly on her first day working the plank in the Slate Creek Tasting Room. It looked to me like she was getting comfortable in her new job and it was definitely fun to talk with her a bit, especially about the passage from Thich Nhat Hanh she had tattoed on her arm.

It was fun, within myself, to remember the good old days of having students read Thich Nhat Hanh and to see how his insights into non-being could help a person write better. In short, it's what we do when we aren't writing and what we are awake to while not at the writing desk that contributes most significantly to the quality of our writing. I used to try to encourage my students to think about the non-writing elements of their writing.

Well, back to beer. So, as with eating meat less frequently, I am also seeing if drinking alcohol less often might help my kidneys' health. So, now, when I do drink some beer, I appreciate the flavors and the aromas even more and that was the case today at Slate Creek -- in fact, in an ideal world, I could have been content to just sit and smell my pint and half pint of Ft. George's Fresh IPA.

* My experiment with cutting back on meat and alcohol might be working. Just a couple of hours or so ago (I'm writing this Friday morning), the results of the lab work I had done at Sacred Heart on Tuesday arrived in my inbox and my kidney function had improved from 14-15% to 18% and a couple of other markers, while well out of the normal range, had also improved a bit.

It is a great relief when I see either improvement or stability in my blood work and that's what I saw this morning.

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