Friday, November 30, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/18: Christy Update, 9000 Steps, Muffins

1. I walked up to Shoshone Medical Center in the middle of the morning and in the early evening to visit Christy. She was coherent. That was good. And very ill.  She continues to run a fever. She is often cold. Her blood pressure took dips. Her wound is an open wound -- yesterday I didn't think it was. The staff changes the dressing on the wound throughout the day -- they changed it when I arrived in the evening and it was the third time it was changed for the day. Yes, I think in some ways Christy had a better day today than yesterday, but it was just a little less lousy. She is seriously ill and having the source of her pain located on her rear end makes things especially uncomfortable and difficult.

2. I had a very good walking day. I walked up to the hospital and back home both times I visited Christy. I had overpaid for the oral surgery I had done in October, so I walked uptown to the bank and deposited that check. I sauntered down Depot Hill and walked from Division St. to Hill St. on the Trail of the CdAs and popped into Yoke's to buy dog food, liquid dish detergent, and some Fuji apples. I loaded up my back pack and strode over to Kellogg Insurance to pay the small difference for our auto policy after I had slightly underpaid my bill a couple of weeks ago. By the time I returned home from my evening visit to the hospital, I had walked just over 9000 steps, about 4.5 miles.

3. The other morning, while making myself a bowl of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal, I noted on the packaging a recipe for 10 Grain Muffins. After I made sweet potato cornbread muffins for Thanksgiving, an old love I have for muffins reawakened in me. So, I made the Bob's 10 Grain Muffins today, sampled a few of them, and took the rest of them to the hospital, hoping Christy or some of her visitors might enjoy them. (I think they are really good!)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/18: Christy is in the Kellogg Hospital, Visiting Christy, Kellogg and Shadle Park Played Tonight

1. Christy was admitted into Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg today and will be there for at least 2-4 days. Here's the story.

Just as I crawled out of bed around 6:30 this morning, my phone rang.

It was Christy.

She told me she'd had a rough night and was driving herself to the Emergency Room at Shoshone Medical Center.

Christy has been plagued since Sunday with a high fever and terrible pain on the surface of her rear end.

Upon Christy's arrival at ER, the staff began testing her: blood work, CT scan of her pelvis, chest X-ray. There might have been other tests and they put her on an IV of antibiotics and painkillers.

We were all concerned that Christy might have an infection too serious to be treated in Kellogg.

But, that wasn't the case.

Christy contracted a bacterial skin infection our family is all too familiar with: cellulitis, the very same infection that put Mom in the hospital for about three weeks back in October and November of 2016. Mom's infection developed into an open wound.  Christy's did not. Christy's does not seem to be as serious. (I hope I'm correct about that.)

That's part of the good news. In addition, Christy's infection did not form an abscess, so there is nothing to drain or lance, a great relief -- had an abscess developed, Christy, as I understand it, would have had to go to CdA to be treated.

I heard the doctor give Christy his diagnosis. He seemed pretty sure that with a few days of treatment, the infection would clear up.

Christy wants friends to know she is in the hospital. She enjoys visitors. Please keep her in your prayers as she recovers.

2. I visited Christy three times today. I was with her for a couple of hours in ER, went to see her in the middle of the afternoon and delivered her PAP machine, and returned with Stu around dinner time. Christy was under the influence of a lot of medication and was a bit incoherent and she's in quite a bit of pain, although the pain medication is giving her relief.

3.  Back in January of 1970, my sophomore year at Kellogg High School, I was a member of the boys' varsity basketball team. I didn't play much. Our team was terrible. I would say the low point of our season came when we traveled to Spokane to play the deeply talented, eventual Spokane city champion Shadle Park Highlanders and got beat 106-55.

Last season and this season, the Kellogg Wildcats had games scheduled again with Shadle Park. Shadle is no longer the elite program it was back in 1970, but I attend these games determined that if one of the worst defeats I ever experienced as a (so-called) athlete in Kellogg is bettered, I want to witness it. I also go to these Shadle games hoping that no Kellogg team ever gets beaten this bad again, in part for the sake of the players, but also because I want to hang on to the honor of being a part of one of the worst defeats a Kellogg team ever suffered. (Our 1970-71 team suffered two more similar defeats to Coeur d'Alene and Ferris in consecutive games to open the season, giving up over 100 points both nights while scoring in the 50s. I had the honor of being named in the Kellogg Evening News as Kellogg's player of the week after those massive blowouts, an embarrassment most people have forgotten, but I never will!)

So, Stu and I headed up to Kellogg's Andrews Gymnasium after seeing Christy. Ed and Scott's son, Jeff, joined us. We watched the last quarter and a half of the girls' varsity team defeat Shadle Park handily.

The boys' game got underway and I recognized at least three of the Shadle players from a year ago when a carload of us Kellogg geezers attended the Kellogg/Shadle Park game in Spokane. Kellogg had a tough squad last year. Shadle Park was young. Shadle won a nail-biter 53-51, a game Kellogg could have won had a shot or two here and there fallen.

Tonight, well, tonight I thought early in the game that our record for getting shellacked might be in jeopardy as Shadle Park steamrolled the Wildcats in the first quarter, 30-9. Kellogg played better in the second quarter, Shadle got a little bit sloppy at times as they increased their lead and knew they had the game won easily, and, the Highlanders didn't score 100 points. An Idaho state basketball rule helped preserve our record of futility. If a team is ahead by 30 or more points in the fourth quarter, the game clock doesn't stop. For anything. It keeps running during time outs, free throws, out of bounds plays, everything.

In the end, this much improved and much more mature Shadle Park team beat Kellogg, 87-52.

Even though they got creamed tonight, I came away from the game admiring the Wildcats. I thought they played hard, even as they were overwhelmed by Shadle's stronger, faster, taller, more athletic players. I liked how they moved the ball on offense and thought their offense produced some good looks at the basket. But, oh man, when Kellogg missed shots, that was it. Kellogg had very few offensive rebounds and, more often than not, Shadle converted Kellogg misses, as well as turnovers, into quick baskets in the open floor.

I'll go back to Andrews Gymnasium to watch more games this season -- both the boys and the girls. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/18: Filing, Cataract Dates, Writing Completed

1. For the last week or so, papers have been in little piles aching to be filed. I filed them today and started getting organized for submitting our tax return in the winter.

2. I have dates scheduled for cataract evaluation in January and, if needed, surgery on two different dates in February.

3. I finished the three most recent sibling writing assignments. They are all up over at my blog. When my sisters both finish and post their pieces, I can put the links to theirs in mine and then I will post links to my three posts here and on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sibling Assignment #203: Discovering Airbnb

I gave this next assignment. Here's what I asked my sisters and me to think and write about:

Write about a discovery you made in 2018 that brought you temporary or lasting happiness and, if it has, how this discovery helped change your thinking or your feelings about something in your life.

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

My discovery actually stretches back to the summer of 2017, but it was in 2018 that my thinking really changed about staying in people's homes via

The Deke and I stayed right downtown in Eugene back in 2017 in a guy's condo. He rents out his home when he's away on biking and hiking trips. I was really happy that the Deke found this place for us to stay. It was everything I wanted. It was within walking distance of nearly everywhere I wanted to go: WOW Hall for the Babes with Axes show; 16 Tons, Falling Sky, the Bier Stein, 5th Street Public Market; and anywhere else I want to go downtown or in midtown; it was a short walk to pick up bagels or to drop over to Starbucks for coffee; it was even close to the house we once lived in on Madison.

In August, the Deke interviewed for the job she's currently working at and we stayed in the west Eugene cottage of our longtime friend, Ritta. She rents it out as an airbnb. Once again, the cottage was perfect. Not only was it sparkling clean, but it was quiet, relaxing, and very comfortable. I loved that it was so close to the New Frontier Market and enjoyed strolling there in the mornings for a cup of coffee and a pastry. It was also very convenient for meeting up with the Troxstar for beers at Falling Sky and for walking to the bluegrass jam at Sam Bond's. The Deke and I stayed in this cottage for three nights and it started to feel a little like home to me, it was so comfortable and easy.

Later in August, the Deke, Melissa, and I shared the upstairs of a handsome old house near the Hudson River in Piermont, NY over the weekend of Adrienne and Josh's wedding. It was my first experience staying at an airbnb when the host family was also living there. Aside from a boyfriend with a goofy laugh, sharing the house with others worked out great. We had access to a coffee maker and our host's back patio was sheltered by gorgeous old trees overlooking a running and walking trail below which both humans and deer enjoyed strolling on. The mornings on this patio were cool and sublime.

While this airbnb wasn't within walking distance of the places we wanted to go, it didn't matter. The drive into Nyack was simple and we made the most of our close proximity to the places we needed and wanted to visit. On Sunday, the day after the wedding, and after a morning of bagels with family and other wedding guests, the Deke and I were worn out and needed to just sleep. I loved having this welcoming, charming house to retreat to rather than, say, a motel room. The house was so much more alive with history, the stories of its owners told in the pictures and other things on the walls, and so much more comfortable.

Having had such good experiences with these three airbnbs, I booked two more. When I went to Eugene for Louise Jackson Harrison's memorial, I stayed in a room furnished with its own bathroom in a house owned by a the parents of one of Debbie's former students. The parents are Sabine and Phillip. Phillip also did some work on our house at 940 Madison. The room and the environment was perfect. It was near the Willamette River in the Whiteaker neighborhood. I loved walking into the heart of the Whiteaker neighborhood on Friday night for dinner at Izakaya Oyazi and again on Saturday and Sunday mornings for coffee and a bagel at the Red Barn.

The hosts and I never got in each other's way. In fact, it was such an emotional weekend memorializing Louise, seeing many old friends from LCC, and retracing some of my old footsteps at Delta Ponds and in Hendricks Park that I was very grateful that they left me alone so that for the limited time I was in their home, I could rest quietly, reflect upon what I was experiencing, and sleep peacefully. I cherished this time to myself on this particular weekend and I was very happy that I wasn't staying in one of the motels on Franklin Boulevard or in a suite in the Gateway area. I loved being in this house in this neighborhood on this weekend.

When I decided to drive out to Billings a couple of weeks later to attend a concert given by the President's Own US Marine Band and spent time with Hiram, I immediately opened up my airbnb app to see if I could find a room within walking distance of the concert hall. I did. And, once again, I stayed in a couple's house in their basement where they had two rooms, each with a private bathroom, and a common space with a kitchen near the rooms. I wasn't at this place long, but it was exactly what I wanted. It afforded me a quiet place to rest after a long day driving, put me within a relatively short distance of the performance hall, and gave me a quiet place to rest my buzzing mind after the concert and after drinks with Hiram and a table of very stimulating band members.

So, these experiences have changed my thinking about travel. Granted, I've heard stories of people staying in airbnb's that didn't work out so well. But, so far, I'm four for four. I love staying with friends when I travel, but there are times, like the three visits to Eugene that I just wrote about, when having one's own quiet space in a lived in home with plenty of time to quietly rest and reflect is just what I want.

Should I have the good fortune of doing some more traveling in the next several months, I will definitely check out the airbnb possibilities -- especially those offerings owned by an airbnb Superhost. In each of my stays, I loved being in a neighborhood, loved not needing my car very often, and loved the feeling of privacy and comfort in another person's home where I was left to my own devices and trusted to be a grateful guest. 

Sibling Assignment #202: A Year of Reading History

Carol wants us to look back over the past year and reflect on this assignment:

Think back over the last year and write about something you have either read, listened to, or watched that has made a tremendous impact on your life. Share about it and why it impacted your life. 

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

I had a good year reading history, listening to historical podcast episodes, and watching documentaries. Everything I read or watched had, if not a tremendous impact, certainly a steady impact on me. I enjoy reading history because whether I'm learning about the Vietnam War, the demise of Richard Nixon's presidency, the history of New York City, or even the past of baseball, basketball, and golf, history always helps me see that the world of 2018 just isn't that unique. I don't find comfort in this realization. But, it does keep me from thinking of the past as the time when things were really good; it also helps me from thinking that things get better with time. Looking at the past helps me see continuity and patterns, especially in the history of the USA.

I don't know exactly how this works, why it is that we tend to carry what's come before us into the present and on into the future. The surface look of things might be different, but at a deep level, the conflicts in the United States regarding immigration, race, labor, guns, political corruption, cities vs rural areas, gender, transportation, the rights of states vrs the power of the federal government, and a host of other preoccupations in our country play out in arguments that have always been with us, fueled often by concerns and fears that also have always been with us.

In 2018, I watched eight episodes of Ric Burns' documentary series, New York: A Documentary Film. I really can't go into detail and depth about this extraordinary series except to say that to examine the history of New York City is, in many ways, to study the history of our country in a microcosm. Nearly everything that the USA has had to face is deeply embedded in the history of NYC, whether poverty, crime, immigration, racial conflict, land planning, transportation, the human relation to nature, etc.

I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what this series explored, which, in turn, left me feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of what we deal with in the life of our country. I find that history humbles me, helps me see how complicated and complex things always have been, and leads me to conclude that we, as a country, have always been divisive, have actually relished division, have always been torn apart from one another by something, and, that even when it might appear that one side or point of view prevails, it doesn't. The opposition gears up with the hope that it can win the day back and again and so the conflicts and fighting continue.

I'm going to leave it at that. I'm still sorting out the impact of the reading and listening and watching I've done over the past year and I'm not sure I'll ever succeed in articulating just what I've learned. But whether it's learning more about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge or the demolition of the original Penn Station or learning more about the original Fulton Fish Market or the decline in crabbing around Staten Island, I love learning more how the history of New York City and this past year has been glorious for doing that.

Sibling Assignment #201: Remembering Grandma Woolum

In tribute to Grandma Woolum's birthday -- she was born November 9, 1901 -- Christy gave us this assignment:

Grandma Woolum's birthday is drawing near. Write about good memories with our grandmother. 

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

Heavy sigh.

Before I can write about good memories with Grandma Woolum, I have to clean some house within myself.

Grandma was in her early 80s, living alone, when I accepted two consecutive one year full time teaching appointments at Whitworth College. I moved to Spokane in August of 1982 and returned to Eugene at the end of May or the beginning of June in 1984.

I was a sharply divided person in August of 1982. On the one hand, I had just completed a wildly successful year of graduate school and Whitworth's English department called upon me to put my studies on hold and come to teach for a year to replace Prof. Dean Ebner who had resigned late in the school year to take an administrative position at Bethel College in St. Paul.

Quite honestly, in the spring of 1982, my academic life and my work as a novice English instructor could hardly have been going better.

My personal life, on the other hand, was at a low point. My first marriage's dissolution accelerated in the spring of 1982 and, by August, our divorce was final. Away from my studies and my teaching, I was unmoored, uncertain, fragmented, disillusioned, and lost. I was about to navigate the landscape of being single again and I didn't have a compass, nor did I have a clue how to manage my life -- aside from knowing how to cook for myself and carry out my professional responsibilities.

Quite honestly, during the period of time from August, 1982 through June of 1984, my personal life could hardly have been more confusing. It was terribly painful. I'm very grateful for the friends I had during that time in Spokane. Sometimes they had to stand back and watch me derail the train of my life and other times they offered me solid companionship and some quiet in the midst of my personal chaos.

My lonely grandmother lived in north Spokane, about 5.5 miles from both places I lived, first near campus and next on Stevens on the hill leading up to the Sacred Heart Medical Center.

I was so caught up in the excitement of my professional life and the chaos of my personal life that I rarely called Grandma and visited her even less.

I deeply regret my neglect. As I grew older, and especially after Grandma died in 1991, I began to come to grips with how lonely Grandma's life was and I tried to learn from my immaturity, from my transgressions.

I kept a promise to myself that I would never repeat this neglect when Mom and Dad got old. What I learned from not spending time with Grandma Woolum fueled my decision to be in Kellogg, with Dad, for the last three to four weeks of his life; it also fueled my decision, once I was no longer working, to come to Kellogg and spend as much time with Mom as possible and to do all I could, in unity with Christy and Carol, to make sure Mom spent as few waking hours as possible alone in the nursing home.

I hear people say all the time, "I have no regrets." Well, I do have regrets and I try to learn from my regrets. I try not to wallow in the pain regret triggers in me; I try not to repeat the things I've done that I regret and correct those actions in other situations.

I regret not spending more time with Grandma Woolum, but, out of that regret, I think I grew into being a better son for my parents than I had been a grandson for Grandma Woolum.

If you bore with me through my deep cleaning of the house of my inward life, I thank you.

Now I can write about good memories.

I lived with Grandma Woolum for about eight weeks or so in the summer of 1976.

I had just graduated from Whitworth and I saw that Fort Wright College, located in Spokane, was giving courses designed for people doing work in ministry. I think I was the only Protestant in both the courses I took, that summer and the next, and it was my first experience spending extended time with nuns in the Roman Catholic Church. I was about to work for the upcoming school year as a Chaplain's Assistant at Whitworth College and thought it would be fun and enriching to be a part of this summer institute at Fort Wright.

And, indeed, it was.

It was also a great time to get to know Grandma Woolum better and to help her out with trips to the grocery store, medical appointments, drives out to Fairchild, and other things. I got to know her better through our conversations, mostly about spiritual things, politics, and the Spokane Indians.

Every night that the Spokane Indians played, Grandma listened to their games on the radio. Often she fell asleep before the games had ended, but this didn't stop her from having favorite players -- but, I must admit the 1976 Spokane Indians of Lenn Sakata and Kurt Bevacqua and Moose Haas did not fire her up like Indian teams of previous years featuring such players as Willie Davis, Davey Lopes, Bart Shirley, and Bill Singer. She was, however, tickled that former Spokane Indian, Frank Howard, managed this team.

Grandma's family originated in Tennessee and Kentucky and she was a lifelong Democrat. She loved watching the 1976 Democratic campaign and was ecstatic about the rise of her fellow southerner Jimmy Carter. I was living with Grandma during the 1976 Democratic Convention and we sat in enraptured silence and listened to the great orator and Representative from Texas, Barbara Jordan give a monumental speech. We also listened to Jimmy Carter give his acceptance speech and I loved how happy it made Grandma that he would run for president. She was really happy in the fall when he won.

Grandma listened to different preachers on the radio and she subscribed to literature from the Unity church. She talked with me often about how she understood our world. She was troubled by division, by people of God dividing themselves into different denominations and with the way their differences led to conflict and distrust. She loved the idea that one day in heaven these divisions would dissolve, that in the afterlife we flawed and divisive humans would see the errors of our schismatic ways on earth, and in eternity we would be at one, in harmony, with our Creator.  When Grandma talked about these things, she almost sang her words instead of just speaking them and I wondered if, without even knowing it, she was imitating the oratory of preachers she'd heard when she was a youth.

Grandma shared her spiritual understanding of life with me most often at her kitchen table, usually after we'd eaten dinner together. I don't remember what all Grandma fixed for us for dinner, but my most delicious memories of Grandma Woolum of are her fried chicken dinners. I'm not totally sure how Grandma fried chicken, but she did something that made hers the best I've ever eaten. Maybe she fried it in shortening. Maybe it was the amount of time the chicken fried in the pan. Maybe she had a secret way of seasoning the chicken. I just don't know. From her chicken drippings, she made rich, velvet gravy poured over perfectly mashed potatoes. As heavenly as Grandma's chicken, gravy, and potatoes were, though, for me, the best part of the chicken dinner was Grandma's green beans, especially the ones that came right out of her garden. Again, I wasn't savvy enough around food and the kitchen back in those days to know what Grandma did to make her beans so memorably delicious. All I know is that when our family visited Grandma or, during that summer, when Grandma fixed fried chicken, I was in that place Grandma used to tell me about where all divisions dissolved and harmony and pure joy reigned.

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/18: Paying Bills, Walking for Stamps, Bloggin' and Zaggin'

1. Yes, quite a bit of money flowed out from the Deke and me today, but I am relieved to have our home and auto insurance paid off for the next year, our property tax bill paid, my glasses paid for, and medical bills paid off. Since moving to Idaho, I've decided to return to paying a lot of bills by check. I like having the record of my payments on hand and paying out money is more tangible to me when I write a check rather than depend on automatic electronic withdrawls or paying with a bank card.

2. Because these days I like to pay bills with checks and mail them out, I need to have postage stamps on hand and I evidently recently misplaced my envelope marked STAMPS in huge black Sharpie letters. I always keep my STAMPS envelope in my home business basket, but it isn't there. I lost my stamps. Okay. No problem. I wanted to get in a good walk anyway today so I slipped on my back pack and walked down Cameron to what used to be Sunnyside Drug and bought a packet of file folders and a box of Kleenex. My hope to buy stamps at the drug store was dashed so I headed south on Hill Street and bought stamps at Yoke's. It wasn't terribly cold out, but a little chilly, and I decided a hot drink would be satisfying. So, I skipped on over to The Bean, ordered a Chai Tea Latte, put stamps on the envelopes I was carrying, enjoyed my drink, and, before long, dropped the bills in the mailbox in front of Stein's and walked on home. I almost got in 4000 steps, almost walked two miles. I sat in our comfortable chair in the living room, was going to briefly rest my eyes. Instead, I fell asleep.

3. I have been tardy in completing the Sibling Assignments Carol and Christy gave a while back and I hadn't even made my own assignment. I determined that today I was going to get my assignment out and write up the posts I hadn't even started yet. I was so determined to get this done that I stayed home during the Zags' game instead of going over to Christy and Everett's. I spent several hours writing these assignments today and I completed one, wrote a draft of another that I want to review and revise, and figured out what I'm going to write in response to my own assignment.

I also kept an eye on the mismatch between Gonzaga and North Dakota State. Gonzaga dominated the Bisons and beat them 102-60. When I flipped the game on at around six o'clock, I heard the disheartening news that Zag guard Geno Crandall broke a bone in his right hand during a defensive drill in practice on Sunday and will be on the bench for 4-6 weeks. This injury hardly stymied Gonzaga tonight. Gonzaga Prep might have given North Dakota State a good game. But, with games against very strong teams coming up -- Creighton, Washington, Tennessee, and North Carolina -- in December, the Zags will miss the depth Crandall gives them and will have to be more careful about players getting in foul trouble and Mark Few will have to figure out different ways to give his starters occasional rest during these challenging games. Will Mark Few chisel out more playing time for youngsters Greg Foster, Jr. and Joel Ayayi? Will he trust them with more minutes against such elite teams? I'll be fascinated to see how the Zags deal with this situation and will be even more fascinated to see what happens when Geno Crandall and Killian Tillie return from their injuries in January or February. Stay tuned.

During the game, I mostly thought about two things: this game must have been much easier on Christy's nerves than the Maui Classic was (!), and, because he loves the Zags to score 100 points in games, it must have made Everett pretty happy when Gonzaga hit the century mark.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/18: Breakfast at IHOP, Roasting a Turkey Breast, Family Dinner a Success

1. Shortly before eight o'clock I climbed in the Sube and flashed out to Kingston. Ed and I piled into his pickup and hurtled to CdA and met Stu for breakfast at IHOP. I enjoyed my biscuit and gravy with scrambled eggs and hash browns and it was fun getting to yak with Ed and Stu.

After eating, Ed and I went to Kohl's. I cold tell my current pair of walking shoes were pretty much used up because both my big toes were starting to snarl at me at night so I bought a new pair rather than confront that recurring problem of having my big toes get all inflamed and swollen, which they do when my shoes either don't fit quite right or are worn out. Ed picked out a black blazer for Nancy and, as luck would have it, Sue Wise happened to stroll by and Ed asked her to try on the blazer, thinking Sue and Nancy wear about the same size. Ed and I left Kohl's with our mission accomplished and after a quick stop at Buffalo Wild Wings where Ed bought a gift certificate, we headed back to the Silver Valley.

2. Back home, I took out the turkey breast to make sure it was thawed out (it was) and I set it out so it would warm up to room temperature. I cooked the turkey breast like a pot roast. After I buttered and salt and peppered it and covered it with ground sage, I put the turkey, breast side down, in the Dutch oven over high heat and seared it in melted butter. I took it out, put it on a plate, and covered the bottom of the Dutch oven with turkey broth, chopped onions, and dried rosemary. I returned the turkey to the Dutch oven, covered it, and roasted it for an hour at 325 degrees.

After an hour, I took it out, stuck a meat thermometer in the bird, and poured a load of carrot and celery pieces into the Dutch oven and covered them with the liquid bubbling up around the turkey. In another hour, the turkey was roasted. I removed it from the Dutch oven to rest for a half an hour and poured the liquid and the vegetable into the other Dutch oven to provide the foundation for the turkey soup, the reason for roasting this turkey in the first place.

Once the turkey was rested, I sliced pieces off of it, chopped them up, added the turkey to the broth and vegetables and added more of the broth I'd made earlier in the weekend. I boiled a batch of egg noodles in a separate pot, put them in the soup, and I made dumpling dough. Once I'd heated the soup to a steady simmering boil, I plopped the dough, tablespoon by tablespoon on to the soup's surface and covered it.

I got out the vegetarian chili I had left over and divided it into two pots. In one, I cut its chili powder intensity with red wine and in the other I heated up the chili untouched.

Earlier in afternoon, I had toasted almond slivers in a cast iron pan and put them on the bulgur, apple, and cranberry salad I made on Saturday. With the soup and chili ready to go, I got out the sweet potato cornbread muffins I made on Saturday, took them out of their wrappers, and put them back in the muffin tin and back in the oven at a low heat to warm them up for dinner.

3. Christy, Everett, Carol, and Paul arrived and I made them each a Lounge Lizard -- a new drink to me -- which is a rum and coke augmented with a splash of Amaretto. While the others visited and very much enjoyed their cocktail, I got the table set and took everyone's soup order and we all sat down to a dinner of turkey noodle soup with dumplings -- or chili --, the cinnamon-y bulgur salad dressed with a honey lemon yogurt dressing, and the cornbread muffins.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals. When I make turkey soup again, I'll probably make noodles or dumplings, but not necessarily both, but I love both and I might not be able to resist it. I'll get to make turkey soup again some time in the future because I have a lot of meat left over from the turkey breast I roasted today and lots of bones from today and from Thanksgiving to serve as the foundation for more turkey stock. 

Since we are having a lighter meal on Christmas Day, maybe I could, with the approval of everyone, make turkey soup then.

By the way, making this dinner was time consuming, but I had a blast making so many things for the first time. Until Saturday and Sunday, I'd never roasted a turkey breast, never made dumplings, never baked and mashed sweet potatoes to serve as an ingredient in cornbread, and never made this particular bulgur salad.

I'd never mixed a Lounge Lizard before, either.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/18: Snow in the Valley, Prepping for Family Dinner, Allman Brothers Band

1. The Silver Valley woke up to a snowfall. Here in Kellogg, the snow wasn't too deep, but out in Kingston, Ed got over four inches at his house and his power was out until the middle of the afternoon. Up on the hill where he lives near State Line, Stu got over ten inches. Ed, Stu, and I had planned to meet at Old European, in Post Falls, for breakfast, but we postponed and will try again Sunday morning, probably in Coeur d'Alene.

2. With the day free, I got to work on planning and shopping for Sunday's family dinner. As the day progressed, I sprang into the Sube and drove through the slush to Yoke's to buy the groceries I needed,  worked for about four hours or so to thaw out a turkey breast, changing the water every half an hour, baked two sweet potatoes and made sweet potato cornbread muffins, finished making and straining the turkey stock from the Thanksgiving carcass, made a salad a day ahead of time, and tried to keep the kitchen half way cleaned up. And, that's just what it was when I went to bed: about half way cleaned up.  Doing all this meal planning, food preparation, and clean up was a lot of fun and I think I'm pretty well set up to finish getting dinner ready with more cooking on Sunday afternoon.

3. While I got things going in the kitchen, I listened to two of the best albums ever made, both by the Allman Brothers Band: Eat a Peach and At Fillmore East. Time and time again I marveled at  their extended jams, especially at how lead guitarists Dickie Betts and Duane Allman played harmonic dual leads, complimentary patterns of point and counterpoint, and blazing solos.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/18: Larry Legend, Intense Chili, Transported by the Tedeschi Trucks Band

1. After breakfast at Sam's with Ed, Jerry, and Scott, I dashed over to Carol and Paul's and gave Toby his food and and his insulin shot. I also thought I'd do some harmless snooping and perused Carol and Paul's DVD collection. One disc jumped out at me: Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend. No single basketball player has ever thrilled me like Larry Bird and so, being in the mood for an hour of thrills and goose bumps, I brought this DVD home and popped it right into the machine. It worked. Larry Bird highlights thrilled me, moved me to tears a couple of times, and helped me relive some of my favorite of all sports memories.

2. Back in the good old days of vegetarian grad school cooking, I used to make chili that featured bulgur as a substitute for ground beef. I scoured the World Wide Web today and found an interesting recipe and was startled when I read that it called for a half cup of chili powder. I decided to go for it and see what such a chili would taste like. I popped over to Yoke's and bought what I needed and the chili was ready to eat by about 4:30. I'm not sure I'll ever use this much chili powder again in a pot of chili, but I like it. Yes, I dolloped my bowl with sour cream just to tame it down a bit, but I like strong flavors and this chili is aggressive. If you'd like to look over the recipe, it's right here.

3. Ed and I met at the Lounge around 5:30 and I hung out with him and Eddie Joe and Cas until about half time of the Apple Cup. The Huskies and Cougars had to play this game in a blizzard and I by the time I returned home by about 7:00 or so, I'd lost interest in the game.

I've been playing different playlists from Amazon and Pandora lately and one song has popped up a couple of times and, when I hear it, I can't do anything but listen. It makes me float. It's so lovely. It's by the Tedeschi Trucks Band and it's entitled, "Midnight in Harlem". As happens so often with so much music in the world, I wondered why I hadn't paid closer attention over the years to Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (aside from his work with the Allman Brothers). They've got my attention now. I did a little YouTube searching and discovered the Tedeschi Trucks Band's live version of "Keep on Growing", a cover of the superb song from Derek and Dominoes, and it enchanted and uplifted me. So, I instructed Alexa to play a Tedeschi Trucks Band shuffle and I went to sleep with Susan Tedeschi's gorgeous singing and Derek Truck's firey and slow hand blues guitar work filling the house with beauty.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/18: Cooking Ecstasy, Superb Thanksgiving Dinner, I Crapped Out

1. I had a stellar morning. My responsibility for Thanksgiving dinner was to roast a turkey, make the gravy, put the final touches on the dressing, and make sure the orange cranberry ginger sauce was in good shape. I had put a dry brine on the turkey on Wednesday, took the turkey out of the bag it had been in sitting in overnight, let it dry in the fridge, and, lastly, set it out to warm up to room temperature. I put melted butter and some rosemary on the turkey and, with the turkey neck and some celery and onions, I made a stock to use in making the gravy. I roasted the turkey in an oven bag at a lower temperature, cooking it somewhat slowly.  When it was done, I let it rest in the bag, cut the bag open, and released the drippings from the bag. I combined the drippings with melted butter, some of the stock I made, flour, meat from the turkey's neck, and a little half and half and made a smooth and delicious gravy. 

2. Oddly enough, I enjoy cooking more than I enjoy eating. I wonder if others who enjoy cooking feel this way. I love knowing other people are enjoying what I fixed and today I experienced the satisfaction of hearing Christy, Everett, Travis, Molly, and Cosette say that they enjoyed the food I prepared.

Don't get me wrong. We had a superb dinner. Christy was the consummate host. She had sidecar cocktails ready for us before dinner, set up the dinner table in her living room, and had a bottle of red wine and sparkling white wine at the table for us to enjoy with our dinner.
Christy made bourbon maple glazed carrots, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, and heated up some Killer Dave pumpkin rolls. Cosette and Molly teamed up to make a vegetable tray so that it looked like a turkey. Christy also baked a pear mince meat pie and a pumpkin pie. (If I forgot anything, please forgive me.)

The dinner was awesome. After we'd eaten, thanks to the technology of Facebook, Carol joined our table via some kind of feature that allows people to talk to each other over the phone and simultaneously appear on the cell phone screen. We were suddenly having a Jetson's Thanksgiving.

I'm afraid I was the first of our family to crap out after dinner. The cooking, the drinks, and the food all combined to make me sleepy and I slipped out, sauntered home, and took a nap.

3. I started the day thinking I would cook, eat dinner at Christy's, and then head up to the Inland Lounge where Cas hosts Thanksgiving dinner annually.

Those plans changed.

I returned home and napped, got my second wind, and decided that rather than head uptown, I'd finish carving the turkey, get a turkey stock going in the crock pot, and finish cleaning up the kitchen while listening to string music featuring artists like Jerry Douglas, Tony Furtado, Bela Fleck, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, and many others on the Tribute to Peador O'Donnell station on Pandora. (If you enjoy hearing brilliant string musicians playing tunes without vocalists and if you are a Pandora listener, you might want to give this Pandora station a try.)

I would have enjoyed a visit to the Lounge, but I am very glad I stayed home with the promise that I'd be waking up to the smell of turkey stock bubbling away and a clean kitchen.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/18: Strollin', Food Prep, Brandon Clarke and the Zags Win

1. I just needed a couple of things from Yoke's this morning so I flung on my backpack and got in a mile and a half walk, round trip. On the way to the store, I stopped in at Kellogg Insurance to make sure I understood how Phyllis had submitted my payments -- and now I understand -- and, on my way home, I purchased a bottle of brandy for cooking and because when the weather gets cold, I enjoy brandy and hot water, for me, a simple and tasty way to warm up.

2. I didn't double the recipe so we don't have a ton of ginger orange cranberry sauce, but if it serves our Thanksgiving table more as a relish than a side dish, I think we'll have plenty. I enjoyed making this today, primarily for the how it made the kitchen smell. I also unwrapped the turkey, oiled it, salted and peppered it, and stuffed the cavity with onion pieces and lemon quarters. Early Thanksgiving morning, I'll take the turkey out of the bag and let it sit in the fridge for about four hours, then bring it up to room temperature, maybe season it some more, and roast it in a bag.

I also studied making turkey gravy, the one dinner contribution I'm responsible for that has me a little anxious. But, as the young people say, I got this.

3. For as long as I've been watching basketball, my favorite kind of player has been the not very flashy forward who plays hard around the basket, is a stout defender, is willing to do the unglamorous (known in basketball as dirty) work of rebounding, altering opponents' shots, and scoring inside. One of my first favorite players who fits this description was Paul Silas. I thought he made innumerable contributions to the 1974 and 1976 Celtics and the 1979 Sonics when those teams won NBA championships with his defense, uncanny offensive rebounding ability, and knack for keeping possessions alive by helping his teams retain the ball after missed shots. Dennis Rodman was one these players for the Pistons and the Bulls. Remember the Blazers' Buck Williams? Same thing. All in their own ways, I've also admired Bruce Bowen, Mario Elle, Shawn Battier, James Posey, and others.

And now the Zags have Brandon Clarke, a twenty-two year old transfer from San Jose State who had to sit out last year and play on the Zags' scout team, lift weights, do individual workouts, and learn how Coach Mark Few wants things done on the basketball court (and off) at Gonzaga.

Now he's the Zags' inside forward who does a bunch of the dirty work. He rebounds. He blocks shots. He scores around the basket. He keeps possessions alive. He alters opponents' shots because of his shot blocking prowess. He's tough. He's athletic. Occasionally, like in the Zags' victory over Duke today, he'll make a highlight reel because of shots he blocked, but most of what he contributes to the Zags is under the radar -- most of the highlight attention, deservedly, goes to Rui Hachimura or Zach Norvell, Jr.

As the Zags poured in shot after shot against Duke this afternoon, making a startlingly high percentage of their buckets, I thought to myself, "The Zags cannot keep this up. Duke is going to make a run and come back in this game." And I was right. As this game headed into the final stretch of minutes, the Zags seemed tired. The young greyhounds from Duke sped past Gonzaga's players in the open court, scoring in bunches off of Gonzaga's missed shots and turnovers.

Brandon Clarke had been on the bench for a long period of time with four fouls. He returned to the game with about five minutes left and made a huge difference in the closing seconds of the game with a mammoth blocked shot -- he blocked six shots this afternoon -- and the Zags hung on to win, 89-87.

Now, this game did not have to be this close at the end. Why was it?


In the closing thirty seconds, both Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura could have put this game out of reach had they converted their free throws. They both missed two. In fact, for the game, the Zags shot under 60 percent from the free throw line. Thanks to their powerful defensive stands after those late missed free throws, the Zags hung on to win this game. But even as I felt joy for the Zags' victory, those missed free throws nagged at me.

This afternoon the Zags protected the ball well. They shot brilliantly. Until they got fatigued late in the game, they moved the ball beautifully on offense and scored well from the outside and converted a bunch of great baskets on pinpoint passes to players inside. They played a more mature game than Duke -- the Zags are an older and more experienced team. To me, they will look even better and be even tougher to beat if they improve their shooting at the free throw line.

By the way, the Zags also got a great under the radar performance from Corey Kispert. Last year, I thought he was a guy who could score from the outside in bunches at times, but he's much more than that. He's a tough defender, makes some solid drives to the basket, and scores as needed. He impresses me a bit more each game.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/18: Kitchen Clean Up, Pet Care and Hot Soup, Zags' Split Personality

1. After preparing dressing and black bean soup on Monday, I woke up this morning to a messy kitchen. The more I put dishes away, wiped down surfaces, and washed dishes that don't fit in the dishwasher, the more I decided to do more cleaning. I cleaned the stove top, steam cleaned the oven, and cleaned the sink, giving myself a sparkling environment in which to do more cooking for Thanksgiving.

2. Carol sent out a call for volunteers to Christy and me to do some pet duties while she and Paul travel to Meridian for Thanksgiving. I immediately volunteered (not even giving Christy a chance!) and around 5:30 I went to Carol's to get my marching orders -- when to feed Sadie, when to let her out, when to feed the cats, how to give Toby his insulin, and other details. When I arrived, Carol was in the middle of making red curry squash soup and Zoe was making naan bread. Carol invited me to stick around for dinner and the soup was perfect:  spicy, smooth, a little sweet, and, most of all, warming on this chilly day.

3. The Zags' game with Arizona came on around 7:30 and I skipped over to Christy and Everett's to watch it. The first half teetered on disaster for the Gonzaga. Key players were in foul trouble. Arizona's defense befuddled the Zags. The Zags plagued themselves with turnovers. The streaky Zach Norvell, Jr. was on a cold streak, clunking shot after shot. The second half opened unpromisingly. Arizona extended its lead to thirteen points as the Zags missed their first four shots. But, the Zags got energized by blocking some Wildcat shots, forcing some turnovers, finding their shooting touch, and by Arizona's Chase Jeter committing his fourth foul, protesting (profanely?), and being assessed a technical foul, his fifth foul of the game, disqualifying him. Everything sharpened for the Zags. Their passes inside connected. Norvell, Jr. got hot. With their depth, they wore down Arizona and, by game's end, the Zags had turned a thirteen point deficit into a seventeen point victory, 91-74.

Now, on Wednesday, the Zags play the top-rated squad in the whole USA, the Duke Blue Devils. In their past two games, the Zags have played one half of stellar basketball and been lousy the other half. Against Illinois and Arizona, they got away with being what John Blanchette called the Good Zags and the Bad Zags. If they are going to knock off Duke, needless to say, the Zags need to play as the Good Zags for the game's entire 40 minutes. Duke loves to score in the open court off of turnovers and missed and blocked shots. Duke loves to get their young flashy players running and soaring. They thrive on the energy and excitement of spectacular tomahawk and windmill slam dunks. The Zags will need to protect the basketball and, dare I say it?, improve their free throw shooting. I did not like that they only made 66.7% of their free throws against Arizona and 65.7% against Illinois. I'd like to see them bump that percentage into the 80s.

If they are the Good Zags all game long, Gonzaga will have a good shot at defeating the elite, athletic, and much younger Dukies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/18: Walking My Errands, Close Call on the Blood Draw, Cooking and the Zags

1. The steel blue sky and crisp cold air beckoned me to slip on my back pack and head out into Kellogg on foot. I stopped in to see Phyllis at Kellogg Insurance and paid our home and auto insurance for the next year, dropped my Avista payment in their parking lot pay box, and bought the groceries I needed to get going on my Thanksgiving cooking projects, packed them inelegantly in my pack and walked back home. I racked up about 3000 steps, a number I hope to increase over time, but a good one for now. I felt the benefits of this walk all day -- circulation felt good, I was a little more alert, and I know this walking will reward me with deep and restful sleep.

2. I also needed paper towels, an eight pack of seltzer water, and a bag of dog food. Since these items wouldn't fit in my pack, I drove to the store. I also went to the clinic to have my monthly blood draw for the U. of MD.  Tracy, the world's finest phlebotomist, casually told me she has been driving my blood kit personally to the post office to make sure it goes out in the mail the day of my blood draw. I told her I'd be happy to deliver the kit myself and so after a fifteen minute wait while my blood clotted and Tracy spun it, she brought my kit out to the waiting room and I rocketed to the post office. Luckily, a post office patron was registering for a mailbox and it was going slowly, because Tracy called me and nervously asked me if I'd mailed the kit yet. When I replied I hadn't, she exhaled a booming sigh and told me she'd forgotten to include a bar code -- and without it, the U of MD wouldn't accept my blood. No problem. I rocketed back to the clinic, Tracy met me at the door, rectified her oversight, and in a matter of minutes I was back at the post office and mailed my blood to Baltimore.

3. Back home, I soaked a package of black beans for four hours. While they were soaking, I put two trays of cornbread pieces in the oven for about an hour and assembled the ingredients I needed to make sausage cornbread dressing. I put it all together in a large mixing bowl, covered in with plastic wrap, and I'll take it back out on Thursday, let it reach room temperature, and bake it.

I also made a pot of black bean soup, an old favorite from Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. I wish I still had my original copy of this cookbook from over thirty years ago. I wrote a bunch of notes about variations I used to apply to this recipe, but that book is long gone. I think, though, if I keep making this soup, some of those things I did in the good old days will come back to me.  If you'd like to see the recipe, it's right here.

Luckily, the Zags game wasn't on until 8:30 and I finished cooking and eating my dinner just in the nick of time to go over to Christy and Everett's and watch the Zags all but surrender a thirteen point second half lead to Illinois, but hang on to beat the Fightnin' Illini 84-78 in their opening game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Free throws. Make those free throws. Had the Zags not clanked several free throws late in this game, this contest would not have been so tight. The Zags also committed a ton of turnovers. But, I have to admit, it was fun to watch the frantic Illinois squad, led by hot shooting Trent Frazier (who was draining threes from Kapalua), charge back in this game and give the Zags a scare.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/18: Waiting for Cubby, Preparations, Joyful Family Dinner

1. Their names aren't Vladimir ("Didi") and Estragon ("Gogo"). They aren't near a lone tree on a country road in an unnamed location. Their isolated existence isn't interrupted by Lucky and Pozzo. Nor are they waiting for Godot.

No, their names are Marvin and Lloyd. They are alone in a shanty on a frozen bay in Wisconsin, ice fishing. They are waiting for Cubby, the host of a local television fishing show, and his crew. Their isolated existence is interrupted by Ernie the Moocher.

Much like Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Fred Alley's musical Guys on Ice explores the tedium of waiting and before long we in the audience, should we choose to, face the tired reality that much of our lives are spent waiting, waiting in lines to vote, register our cars, purchase our groceries, to go through the line at he buffet, for our food to arrive at the restaurant. We wait for the doctor to be ready to see us, wait to get our hair cut, wait for babies to be born, wait for buses and trains to arrive, wait for test results; some of us wait for a kidney; others wait for the rapture; we even have rooms with chairs and magazines designed for us to wait.

It's absurd. Both Samuel Beckett's and Fred Alley's works, very different in their approaches, explore the absurdity of waiting. How do we fill the time waiting? What do we talk about? What do we hope for? Don't we often tell ourselves that much of this waiting we are doing is worth it because, at the end of the waiting, we will be delivered into something better? We wait for the person in front of us to get off the treadmill at the gym because walking on it will improve our health. We wait in long lines to vote believing in the promise that it is a good thing to participate in a democracy and we hope that the winner will help deliver us into a better life. And so on.

Often we talk while we wait. That's what Marvin and Lloyd do in the shanty while they wait for Cubby to arrive, televise them, and deliver them from their hum drum lives. Marvin lives alone and has a crush on Bonnie a local grocery store checker who has a tattoo of a Green Bay Packer helmet on her tush and Lloyd lives a life of quiet desperation, eating frozen waffles and tv dinners.  His wife has left him to live with her parents because Lloyd wants to to watch Sunday's Packer/Bears game at Lambeau Field rather than celebrate his and his wife's wedding anniversary.

So Marvin and Lloyd talk and sing about love. They discuss their dreams. They talk about fishing and fishing and fish become their way of talking about everything. Much like the gravediggers in Hamlet, who try to break up the tedium of digging Ophelia's grave by discussing philosophical questions, so, too, do Marvin and Lloyd combat the tedium of the shanty and waiting for Cubby by philosophizing and singing songs about what makes fish different than people (do fish feel pain? do they think?), about fame, about the glories of a snowmobile suit, and, ultimately about mortality, occasionally interrupted by their mooching pal Ernie.

Guys on Ice could just have easily been entitled Waiting for Cubby. Over the years, people who think and write about these things have had endless discussions about who or what Godot might be. We know who Cubby is, but what does Cubby stand for in this play and will Cubby ever arrive and will Cubby help deliver Marvin and Lloyd out of their ordinary lives into something bright and transformed?

Well, I wish I could tell you to go to the 6th Street Melodrama and Theater in Wallace, Idaho and find out. But, Christy, Everett, Carol, Molly, Travis, Zoe, Cosette, and I were audience members for the last performance Sunday afternoon. My brother-in-law, Paul, played the role of Marvin and the production succeeded in making the fun-loving audience at today's show laugh at the way this musical exaggerates and pokes fun at the culture of ice fishing in Wisconsin.

As I watched this show, though, I thought it was more than a series of satirical sketches. I enjoyed thinking about its place in the great tradition of Waiting for Godot, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the gravediggers in Hamlet, and the wide wonderful world of the theater of the absurd.

2. Before going to the play, I started to prepare my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner. I'll be making a cornbread and sausage dressing and I made a pan of cornbread, broke it up, and the pieces are in containers in the fridge. I also brought our turkey out of the basement to thaw in the fridge and began to see what I needed to do to get ready to make the cranberry sauce I'll bring over to Christy and Everett's. I think I'll make the dressing and refrigerate it on Monday so that the flavors have plenty of time to blend together. I think I'll make the cranberry sauce on Tuesday and read up, both days, and on into Wednesday on the fine art of roasting a turkey.

3. After going to the play, we all crowded around Carol and Paul's table for Sunday Family Dinner. Today was Paul's 59th birthday, so the evening began with Paul opening his gifts. Carol fixed a taco soup and a generous green salad for dinner and we had plenty of tortilla chip strips, grated cheese, salsa sour cream, and guacamole to compliment the salad and soup. We topped off dinner with pies: a keto pecan and a strawberry. It's a rare time right now in the Roberts' home as all three of Carol and Paul's daughters, Molly, Zoe, and Cosette, are home at the same time. Carol and Paul are beside themselves with joy.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/18: *Bet Raise Fold*, Back to the Lounge, Pork Roast Dinner Next Door

* I started writing this blog on October 1, 2006. You are about to read my 4500th post at kelloggbloggin'.

1. The more I watch poker on television and after watching a documentary movie today, Bet Raise Fold: The Story of Online Poker, I understand even better, in a kind of cold and rational way, free of self-deprecation, why I am not now nor ever will be a good poker player. My mind just doesn't work like a good poker player's: I don't have a good short term memory, I don't have a good understanding of odds, and if I were to arrive at a good understanding of the texture of a board, it would take me about ten hours. My mind works very slowly when it comes to such things.

No problem. I still enjoy playing a little poker at the WSOP site. It's free. No money involved. And I can just mess around. And, well, I'm not very good.

I started watching poker on television back in 2003 during visits to see Mom. In the ensuing years, because I didn't have a television at home in Eugene, I would catch WSOP Main Event telecasts at Mom's during the summer and Russell and Anne invited me over to their house to watch the Main Event final table during the early years of the experiment of playing the final table in November.

On April 15, 20ll, the federal government shut down online poker in the USA.

I didn't understand very well, at the time, just what was going on, but this movie I watched today did two things I liked a lot: through its, well, up close and personal portrayals of Danielle Anderson, Tony Dunst, and Martin Bradstreet, I gained a much clearer understanding of the impact of the online poker bust on professional online players -- for many, it was devastating -- and I gained a much clearer and deeper understanding of the shady enterprise that online poker site Full Tilt Poker was operating.

I also gained a much clearer understanding of how playing online poker accelerated many players' development and improvement. They gained accelerated experience by being able to play mind boggling numbers of hands on any given day. In addition, for the mathematically inclined players, poker software is a tremendous aid in analyzing the possibilities and the odds of countless hands. As a viewer this was all fascinating to me, but as a person who has a casual interest in poker, I can't imagine ingesting or digesting, let alone retaining, all this information.

2. When I was on my walk home from the store on Friday, Jake saw me, roared into the area in front of the Silver Valley Tires car wash, and invited me to join him at the Lounge on Saturday while Carol Lee and other of our women friends went to an event at St. Rita's church.

So, today, around 3:00, I jetted on up to the Lounge. I hadn't visited the Lounge for a couple or three weeks. Cas greeted me, I bellied up to the bar with Jake, enjoyed a couple of Maker Marks on the rocks and Jake and Cas and I got in some first-rate yakkin'. I hadn't seen Cas since the World Series ended and he and I went over our impressions of the last couple of games and Cas reported that Seth was unhappy with several of manager Dave Roberts' decisions, including the pulling of Rich Hill in game 4 and the way he managed the Dodgers' offensive lineup. I'd been missing some good baseball talk and this bit of baseball gabbin' did me a lot of good.

3. I returned home around 5:00 and soon sauntered over to Christy and Everett's for a delicious pork roast, potato, carrot, and gravy, and cabbage salad dinner topped off by a scoop of pumpkin pie ice cream. Christy had her Thanksgiving timeline set down on paper and she and Everett have figured out how to set up tables in their living room for when we have dinner at their house on Thursday afternoon.

For no good reason, I was sleepy after dinner and passed on watching an episode of Chopped and returned home. I tried to get myself interested in watching something on television, but what I really wanted was to go to sleep. By eight o'clock, Maggie, Charly, and I were sound asleep.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/18: Gotta Walk, Cooking for One, *Klute*

1. Back in 2014, in Laurel, MD, Dr. Cullen told me I should get out and walk about 20 minutes a day. When I lived in Maryland, I got good at this because I enjoyed driving to parks and hiking trails in the Washington, DC metropolitan areas and taking photo walks. I also enjoyed walking neighborhoods and the downtown area of Washington, DC.

I've never been very good at walking just for the sake of walking. I like to have something to do. I haven't been good at all about walking in Kellogg and today I changed that. I grabbed my backpack and walked to Yoke's and only bought enough groceries to fit in my pack. I like this idea. Make more frequent shopping trips. Walk to the store. Only buy enough to fit in my pack. It reminded me of all those years I lived in Spokane and Eugene in the 1980s and didn't own a car. The Deke and I also lived for about a year without a car in Eugene. l bought groceries on foot or rode my bicycle to the store. Except when the weather gets bad here in Kellogg and as long as I'm living alone and just shopping for myself, I think walking to Yoke's to buy a few things nearly every day is a great idea. Today I walked about a mile and a half -- a good start -- and I felt the benefits right away.

2. Every day, I think about what to do to enjoy myself without the Deke living here while she teaches in Eugene. I've been remembering the years I lived alone after the ends of both my marriages and how I made it fun for myself to shop and cook. Especially when I was in graduate school and my budget was tight, I used to figure out ways to eat really good meals without spending a lot of money. I made batches of tasty tomato sauce that I used for both burritos and pasta and seasoned the sauce according to the food. I cooked beans ahead of time and made different kinds of meals. Mostly, I ate vegetarian meals. In fact, in the two and a half years I lived in my little basement apartment on W. Broadway and in the year or so I lived in the Kincaid house, I never cooked meat. I ate meat elsewhere, but never cooked it. I'm not exactly strapped right now for money, but I am experimenting  with eating less meat, especially at home, for the sake of my kidneys, and returning to the days of making meatless eating fun.

So, today was kind of a throw back Friday to my graduate school days. I acted like I didn't have a car and, as mentioned, walked to the store. I resurrected a recipe from the Eugene days out of the Goldbecks' American Wholefoods Cuisine, a vegetable barley cheese bake. The Portuguese stew I had made earlier in the week lasted for three days and I think this casserole will also last about three days. I'm not scrimping. I am, however, enjoying reliving the challenge I gave myself back in the early 1980s to eat well despite cooking only for myself. I had heard then, and I hear today, people who live alone say that they don't like cooking only for themselves, that it's easier to go out and eat, that cooking meals for one seems like a lot of trouble. I get all that. Nonetheless, once again, I'm making cooking for myself fun, integrating exercise into it, and preparing and eating my casserole tonight not only tasted good, it brought back memories from nearly thirty-five years ago that I enjoyed.

3.  Again tonight, I rented a movie from Amazon that is old, that I've heard about for years, but never seen. I watched Klute, a 1971 crime story set mostly in New York City, featuring Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels, an expensive call girl, and Donald Sutherland as John Klute, a detective from an obscure Pennsylvania town who has come to Manhattan to search for a friend who has been missing for quite a while.

While on the face of it, Klute is a crime thriller, more significantly it's a deep study of Bree Daniel's loneliness, alienation, numbness, role playing, manipulative talents, and her awakening conscience. During the movie, I found myself naively wishing Jane Fonda didn't have such a controversial life off screen so, that when we think of Jane Fonda, the first thing that comes to mind is that she is one of the very best actors ever. Ever. Anywhere. Any time. Nothing about Jane Fonda's portrayal of Bree Daniels is stereotypical, nothing is predictable, and everything is complex and complete.

Fonda brings to life, in Bree Daniels, an aspiring actor and model who turns tricks to keep financially afloat, and, who simultaneously enjoys the control a trick gives her over the men she performs for, but psychologically and spiritually suffers from the way she numbs herself, distances herself from the sex acts she's party to, and from the way hooking fragments her personality. By turns, Jane Fonda shows us that Bree Daniels is acutely self-aware (we see this in her regular appointments with a therapist), capable of tenderness, especially for a seventy year old john with whom she has no physical contact, deeply frightened, vulnerable, at times cruel, and, deep down, morally grounded. Somehow, Jane Fonda portrays in Bree Daniels a constant and continuing longing for deeper satisfaction in life and a deep desire for acceptance and, at the same time, portrays her as undermining these desires. Played by Jane Fonda, Bree Daniels is confident, nervous, unfeeling, brave, awakened to moral action, snide, kind, harsh, naive, worldly, hungry for self-examination, and, at times, repulsed by what she discovers. She's fiercely independent while also fragile and very dependent.

The movie's title leads a viewer to believe that this is a movie about the detective John Klute. I thoroughly enjoyed Donald Sutherland's portrayal of the persistent, often low-key Detective Klute, who has a deep and quiet drive for justice to be served. We see much of the depravity he confronts in Manhattan through his small town Pennsylvania eyes. He's disturbed by what he witnesses, but he won't back down. When the movie ended and as I crawled into bed and reflected upon it, it wasn't John Klute who occupied my thoughts. It was Bree Daniels. It was Jane Fonda's compelling work. It was the movie's unnerving examination of misogyny and male abuse of power in the worlds of modeling, theater, business, sex trade, drugs, and elsewhere. The movie is not about misogyny only, but the world of this movie is shot through with different men's contempt for women and Bree Daniels is the story's touchstone for the impact of this contempt, for the ugliness and mortal consequences of living in a world where misogyny thrives.

In reflecting on Klute, I haven't discussed the plot much because I'd hate to spoil the experience of what you see happen in this movie should you ever decide to see it. I do not, however, mind gushing about how much I admired Jane Fonda's acting. It's thrilling to see her commit herself so completely to the role of Bree Daniels and to so fully, physically and psychologically, occupy the many dimensions of Bree Daniels' character.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/18: Trust, Zags, *Blow Up*

1. A year ago, when I had my annual eye examination, Dr. Miller could see that cataracts were beginning to form in my eyes. Today, a year later, the vision in my right eye has deteriorated quite a bit and the time has come to have cataract surgery. Before too long, I will get a call from a scheduler to set things in motion for the eventual surgery.

I thought a lot today about how much trust I'm having to put in medical professionals these days. I am trusting that any number of these professionals have my best interests in mind as I seek to be listed for a kidney transplant at Sacred Heart, as I think about surrendering myself to the operating table, to the transplant surgeon, to receive a transplant, should that time come. I am trusting (and have trusted) any number of other internists, nurse practitioners, radiologists, cardiologists, phlebotomists, a future pulmonologist, and nephrologists to accurately test my body, insightfully interpret their findings, and help me determine the best way to go to help me live better. I put a huge amount of trust in my dentist when I had extensive dental work done and I invested a great deal of trust in my dental hygienist when I consulted with her regarding what she thought of the treatment plan I submitted to. And now I will be giving myself over to an ophthalmologist to help me see more clearly and, I hope, see better at night.

Some days all of this is overwhelming. I do my best to rationally contemplate my mortality, to keep in mind that with aging comes deterioration, that this is an inevitable fact of life that I have limited control over. Surrendering to the medical profession also means I've decided to try to extend my lifespan. I am putting a great deal of trust in the hope that with clearer vision, improved dental health, and possibly an improved kidney that not only might my life last longer, but it will also afford me some degree of happiness in the enjoyment of my marriage to the Deke, of my closeness with Christy and Carol, of my many friends, and the enjoyment of my continuing pursuit of experiencing beauty in the world and nourishing the life of my mind. 

2. I ended the day by going next door and watching the Zags play the Texas A&M Aggies with Christy and Everett. Several Gonzaga players performed very well: Zach Norvell, Jr. is kind of a cardiac player, a streaky shooter, who can give me mild heart attacks when his shot is off, but then can test the strength of my heart as I get excited when suddenly his shots begin to drop, usually in bunches; I love seeing how much Rui Hachimura's offensive game has diversified and how his patience has grown as he works to get off the shot he wants and as the variety of ways he can score has grown; Brandon Clarke is proving to be a strong player on the inside, both on offense and defense, and I like his persistence, his willingness to do the unspectacular work of playing strong defense, rebounding, and scoring inside; I also enjoy seeing how Corey Kispert has matured between his freshman and sophomore years and is able to score from long range and also create shots around the rim. Gonzaga's team looks strong, quick, unified, and, at times, explosive. I'm eager to see how they perform against the stiffer competition they will face next week at the Maui Invitational, beginning with their game against Illinois.

3. Before I went over to Christy and Everett's to watch the Zags, I watched the movie Blow Up (1966).

Not long into the movie, I realized this was not a movie driven much by plot -- and it makes sense that it would not be. It focuses on a short span of time in the life of a fashion photographer, Thomas, who is accomplished in his work but leads a disconnected, alienated, barely purposeful life. He drifts. The movie drifts. Much in Thomas' life is casual -- sex is casual, he casually gets high, he drives in circles, somewhat aimlessly in his Rolls convertible, and he treats the models he photographs with casual contempt. They are barely human to him and disposable.

Whereas All About Eve was shot mostly on sound stages and brought a stylized script to life, Blow Up is a much less structured movie, shot in location around parts of London, and the characters speak artlessly, naturally, and really have very little on their minds. Thomas does absurd things. He buys an airplane propeller at an antique store because, well, why not?  Two aspiring models persist in wanting him to photograph them and he never takes their pictures, but goes with the flow in his studio and they have a lifeless orgy together. It's clear to me that writer and director Michaelangelo Antonioni invites us into hedonistic corners of London in the mid-1960s was a way of exploring how meaningless and exhausted the lives of the characters populating this particular world are.

So, the movie requires the viewer to make a commitment to seeing almost nothing happen and to see little connection between the things that do occur. It's not an exciting movie. It's a study of ennui. Ennui lacks kick. It's draining. The world is full of color and occasional music, but it's mostly window dressing for a milieu of boredom and burn out.

(I am now going to discuss some plot details and the movie's ending. This is a spoiler alert.)

If this movie has a center, here's where to find it: Thomas goes into a park and photographs a secret love affair. Back at his studio, he blows up the images and discovers an apparent murder -- I'm leaving the details vague on purpose. Temporarily, this discovery snaps Thomas out of his stupor. Developing and cropping some of the pictures he took, blowing them up, examining details in the pictures with a magnifying glass, possibly discovering a crime animates him, but he's not really concerned about the murder as a violation against another person nor is the corpse a source of shock or outrage to him. When he finds the corpse, he regrets not having his camera. He wants a picture of the corpse. It will increase the (shock) value of an art book he is creating.

Blow Up flirts a bit with becoming a thriller, a kind of existential who done it. But, for Thomas, the discovery of an apparent murder and the corpse becomes another island in his life to drift onto and soon drift off of and as the crime and corpse, which was gone when he returned to photograph it, drift out of his mind, the question of how this man died drifts out of the movie.

Near the scene of the crime, the movie brings a group of young people back into the movie who have appeared at the movie's beginning and periodically throughout the movie. They are activists. They are costumed, heavily made up, and are out "RAG-ging", that is, out creating scenes with noise and theatrics and protest signs as a way of raising money for charities. (RAG is an acronym for "raising and giving".) This group of boisterous fundraisers takes a break from asking for money and two members of the group mime a tennis match. Thomas watches and involves himself. This miming struck me as a metaphorical way to conclude the movie and solidify an idea it had been exploring. This had been a movie of what T. S. Eliot called in "The Hollow Men" paralysed force and gesture without motion. We've seen Thomas move through this movie miming his life, gesturing, not really moving, generating little force, living a kind of paralysis.

The movie's last shot is of Thomas alone in a field of green as the camera moves up, up, and away. Thomas grows smaller, the expanse around him grows larger, and we are left with an image of Thomas' isolation and estrangement.

One last thought: it's been a long time since I've watched the movie River's Edge. But if my memory serves me at all correctly, it, too, was a movie about estranged youth -- Generation Xers maybe? The characters in this movie are also confronted with a murder -- I believe it was committed by one member of the group against another -- and a corpse -- and, as in Blow Up, these characters, if I remember correctly, are numb to the gravity of the death. I'll have to watch the movie again some time, but thinking about these two movies together made me think about how alienation, numbness, purposelessness, drifting, and disconnection are not experiences tied only to any single generation. In other words, Blow Up is not so much a movie about the "Swingin' London" of the mid-1960s and River's Edge is not so much a movie about Generation X so much as both movies are about the recurring reality of the human capability to live purposelessly, to drift, to become alienated from that in life which gives it vitality and from feeling the shock of awful things that happen.  I'm not sure either movie really examines the cause of this alienation, but both movies unfold what kinds of things can happen as a result.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/18: Surrender, Leftovers, *All About Eve*

1. Nurse Sheri called this morning from Sacred Heart to tell me she'd submitted an order to Kootenai Health for me to see a pulmonologist. We also talked about the difficulties she was having securing certain notes and reports from the Univ. of Maryland Transplantation Center. I told Nurse Sheri that I had the results of the testing the U of MD had ordered over the last nearly four years and she asked me to scan and email the results of my latest cardio stress test and I did.

I told Nurse Sheri, in what I hope she heard as a compliment, that Sacred Heart's program is much more comprehensive in its pre-listing examination of me than the Univ. of MD had been -- for example, the U of MD never told me to see a pulmonologist. Nurse Sheri sounded proud of Sacred Heart's program when she told me that Sacred Heart's chief concern is improving kidney patients' quality of life and that they want transplant recipients to be as healthy as possible because of the strain put on the body when the immune system is lowered so drastically at the time of transplant, making the recipient very vulnerable to infection and disease. In other words, the transplant program would like some assurance that after I've had both toxic and bacterial pneumonia in 1973 and 2009, respectively, that I'm not carrying infection to this day that might put me in some kind of risk, should I receive a transplant.

I get it. I am more keenly aware than ever that our bodies, in so many ways, are the vehicles of our fate in life. I can't do anything about having had the Zinc Plant accident, the two pneumonias, or my gradually failing kidneys. I carry the consequences of these maladies even if I didn't do anything to cause them. I have surrendered to this reality -- not in the sense of giving up, but in the sense of accepting that I must always contend with what's physically inside me. I don't deny it. This surrender actually calms me and helps me as I make decisions about how to take care of myself. I consider this surrender as central to how I understand and try to carry out my spiritual life in union with my physical life.

2. That vegetarian Portuguese stew I made on Tuesday benefited from a night in the refrigerator. Twice today I dipped into my leftover stew and added grated Parmesan cheese and sour cream to each bowl. It's chilly out and these hot bowls of stew were bracing and delicious.

3. For many of the years that I taught at Lane Community College, my next door office mate was Dan Armstrong. Regularly, he taught a course entitled (I believe) "Film of the Fifties". He loved teaching this course. As I remember, one of the most important movies in this course was All About Eve. Dan talked with me often about this movie and I always had to admit that I had never seen it.

Well, a while back, I upped my membership at Netflix so that I could order DVDs and when I returned home Sunday from Pendleton, Christy had put my mail on the dining table and All About Eve had arrived.

This evening I watched it.

I love movies shot in black and white and I took much pleasure in the lighting, the photography, the various stunning shots in All About Eve. I thought a lot about the photographic advantages the Director of Photography, Milton Krasner, put to brilliant use by virtue of shooting much of the movie on a soundstage where he could control the lighting and the effects of the pictures he created. In particular, there's a scene that occurs at three in the morning when Margo (Bette Davis) takes a phone call from her lover, Bill (Gary Merrill). I'm not sure, but I think it's the first time Margo begins to think that something is awry in her world and that possibly Eve (Anne Baxter) is not the innocent star struck fan she presents herself as. Bill calls Eve wanting her to wish him a happy birthday. He's on the West Coast. She's in New York City. We come to see that the call seems odd to Margo. After she hangs up and the lights are off,  a slender bar of light illuminates her eyes (those remarkable Bette Davis eyes) and we see in her eyes the picture of bewilderment and suspicion. I know, for me, this was one of the first times in the movie I thought something was not quite right with Eve and it was the photography of this scene more than anything else that raised my suspicions.

In addition to being masterfully shot, this movie was intelligently, even intellectually, written. Much like the movie's photography which is, in the best sense of the word, artificial -- there is little natural light --, the movie's script is also highly stylized or artificial. I've read some reviewers (or critics) of the movie point out the screenplay's artificiality, contrasting it with natural speech. Many movie viewers, I think, experience speech in movies that sounds more natural as more real and superior to speech that is artificial.  I thought the artificial, stylized, and elevated speech in All About Eve worked perfectly, for a couple of reasons.

For starters, while on the face of it, All About Eve is a melodramatic story about self-serving cold ambition, back biting, mendacity, and conniving lust for stardom in the New York City theater world, it is also a movie of ideas about art, theater, aging, the conflict between appearances and actuality, and psychological insecurity, especially for Margo, whose identity is largely grounded in her role as a theater diva.

Intelligent, often jaded, characters discuss these ideas in elevated language, making the witty things they say, the acidic cutting remarks they make, and the insights they articulate all the more delicious.

In addition, much of the artificial language is spoken by actors playing a playwright, two actors, a director, and a theater critic who use language as if nothing really separates their lives away from the theater from their work in the theater or their writing about the theater. This is especially true about Margo who rarely stops performing, not only in the way she talks, but in her dramatic body language and her love of conflict and interpersonal drama. So, it is true. All About Eve features a script that sounds like a script, but it features characters who love theater scripts and so speak in the style of scripts as they conduct their lives off stage.

I loved watching Bette Davis, who plays Margo, and Anne Baxter, who plays Eve, perform in this movie. Bette Davis fully occupied the grand sweep of Margo Channing's bravado, bitterness, insecurity, vulnerability, meanness, and instincts for self-preservation not only through the brilliant ways she modulated in her voice in the reading of her lines, but with her body: her hand gestures, the rhythms of her gait, the language of her face, the smoking of her cigarettes, and the expressions of her eyes.

Ann Baxter's performance as Eve Harrington was not as flamboyant as Davis's, but she brilliantly unfolded, in increments, Eve's dark, cold, predatory ruthlessness, made all the more chilling by how these qualities contrasted with the face of sweetness, plainness, and helpfulness she presented for much of the movie. Eve seemed guileless, but she is full of guile; she seemed so innocent, but she is worldly and heartless; she seemed to love serving others, but was actually always acting in service to herself.

It's times like this when I'd like to turn the clock back to, say 2009, and be able to drop in on Dan and open a conversation with him. I wish I could pop my head in his office and say, "Guess what, Dan? I finally watched All About Eve. Tell me again, how does that movie fit in your course and how do you and your students approach it?" I would relish the conversation that would then get underway and I would learn a ton about this magnificent movie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/18: Errands, Transplant Update, Tofu Stew

1. After I went uptown and did some banking, I dropped in at Yoke's, hoping to get some shots. I was one third successful. The nation is currently experiencing a Shingrix shortage so I am on a list for that shot. I must wait until I turn 65 on Dec. 27th for my pneumonia shot -- so I already know what one birthday present will be! My success? I did get a flu shot. I also shopped at Yoke's and I have almost everything I need to make my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner next week when I'll be making cornbread sausage dressing, roasting the turkey (Christy gave me the turkey today), and making the gravy.

2. Two weeks ago today, transplant coordinator, Nurse Sheri Sapone told me that I would hear back from her in two weeks regarding my status on getting listed at Sacred Heart for a kidney transplant. Because of all that sulfur dioxide and mineral dust I inhaled when I was injured at the Zinc Plant in 1973 and because I contracted a bout of bacterial pneumonia in 2009, the transplant program wants me to see a pulmonary doctor. Nurse Sapone is working on finding me someone to see. I might also need to have a cardio stress test, but we are hoping the one I took in May of 2017 will suffice. Lastly, Sacred Heart wants records from the Univ. of Maryland and that transplant center has been slow to respond. Nurse Sapone was pleased that I had my dental work taken care of, told me where at Sacred Heart to send my new insurance information, and she was happy that I was on top of my vaccination regime -- but, it's possible that I'll also need to have a Hepatitis B shot.

So, I'm not listed at Sacred Heart just yet, but neither do the tasks ahead of me seem insurmountable.


3. I consulted my handy cookbook, American Wholefoods Cuisine, in search of a fun looking way to use some tofu. I decided to make Nikki and David Goldbeck's version of Portuguese Stew. Ed gave me a bag of potatoes from the box he bought from Buff -- it was a Rotary fundraiser -- and I peeled a couple of them, cut them in chunks and steamed them until they were tender. Then I sauteed some garlic in hot oil in the Dutch oven, discarded the garlic when it was brown, and replaced it with chopped onion and sliced red peppers. When the onion was soft, I added in a couple cans of diced tomatoes, the tender steamed potatoes chopped up some more, and the cubed tofu I had been draining.

I seasoned the stew with salt, pepper, a bay leaf, wine vinegar, and paprika. Once it was all warmed through, I had a hearty dinner for a chilly November evening. If I make this again, I will season the potatoes after I steam them, maybe just with pepper. I thought the unseasoned potatoes and the tofu combined to give the stew a little too much blandness. I boosted the flavor by pouring a bag of frozen spinach in the stew.  In the bowl, I added more black pepper and, when I had seconds, I topped the stew with plain yogurt, a very good move. When I have more of this on Wednesday, I'll add sour cream to it and see how that works. Later, I thought some kind of beans, like pinto or kidney, would taste good in this meal and I might pick some up and put them in before I eat my next helping.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/18: Impressions, Business, Golden Bear Flashback

1. I hadn't been down to the dentist's office for three days and I thought they might be missing me so I trudged down, popped in the chair, and opened wide while the dentist worked on my bite a little more and his assistant made impressions of my upper and lower arches. Those impressions will go to the lab and, soon after Thanksgiving, I'll have a guard to wear at night.

2. I chipped away at more business details today involving vaccinations, insurance, Social Security, and banking. I also brought the front and back hoses into the garage and emptied the planters on the deck and stored them.

3. I checked out the Golf Channel's listings of on demand programming and it thrilled me to see that I could watch an hour long documentary, '86. It tells the story of Jack Nicklaus storming from four shots behind, firing a 30 on the back nine, a 65 for the round, and, improbably, at the age of 46, winning the Masters Tournament for the sixth time. I can't think of a performance in any sport that moved me more deeply and that continues to bring to me tears whenever I see replays of it. The documentary centered around the fact that most people who saw Nicklaus' back nine at Augusta on April 13, 1986 know exactly where they were when Nicklaus achieved the astonishing feat.

I was living in a tiny basement apartment on West Broadway in Eugene. I was alone, glued to the television, and when Tom Kite and Greg Norman both failed in their efforts on the 18th hole to tie Nicklaus and send the tournament into a playoff, I watched Bernhard Langer hold the winner's green jacket while Nicklaus put his arms through the sleeves and Langer pulled it over his shoulders and then I called Dad so we could share in our astonishment at what we had just witnessed. Over the past twenty years, Dad and I had watched a lot of golf on television together. We had also seen Jack Nicklaus play in an exhibition match in Spokane in 1975. For years, we had always rooted for Nicklaus' competitors. We pulled for underdogs. But as Jack Nicklaus aged and as Dad and I became increasingly appreciative of how graciously he conducted himself in competition, we became fans of Jack Nicklaus. By 1986, Nicklaus' skills seemed to be eroding a bit. Dad and I never dreamed we'd see him win another major golf tournament, especially a thrilling come from behind victory like we'd just witnessed.

I loved watching this program and having that Sunday afternoon come back to life.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/18: Quiet Sunday Morning, Easy Drive Home, Fun Sunday Evening

1. At the Wildhorse Casino, I woke up, pulled myself together, grabbed the Chromebook, and strolled down to a sitting area near the hotel check in, poured myself a paper cup of complimentary coffee, and began writing in my blog. The casino floor was quiet. Ed was out there somewhere fiddling around. I nearly finished my writing and Ed saw me, joined me, and, before long, as I wrapped up my blog post, he called Mike and Terry and we headed to the breakfast buffet where I enjoyed biscuits and gravy, some scrambled eggs, coffee, and a tall glass of apple juice.

2. The casino had comped Ed one room -- the room I stayed in with Ed -- so I didn't pay for lodging this weekend. Terry and Mike generously waved us off when Ed and I offered to chip in on paying for their room. So, we got everything settled, all shook hands, and headed to our vehicles. Aside from some fairly thick fog in the Tri-Cities area, the driving conditions were very easy between Pendleton and Kellogg and Ed and I returned home safe and feeling good after a fun weekend together with our longtime friends.

3.  From Barney's parking lot in Pinehurst, I called the Deke to talk about a couple of home business things, one of them being our use of data on our cell phone plan.  I made a purchase at the store, drove on home, got settled in a bit, and opened a chat online with a Verizon agent. In a short amount of time, we figured out that I had been a data hog -- pretty much by accident -- and the agent gave me some helpful tips about how to keep within the boundaries of our plan.

Just after I wrapped up the online chat, Carol and Paul brought Charly and Maggie back home. They bounded into the house as if they had never seen it before, excited, eager to explore inside and charge outside.

Once I had accommodated what the dogs wanted,  I bounced over to Christy and Everett's for family dinner. Christy fixed us each a cocktail made from Peppermint Twist Vodka, ginger ale, cranberry juice, and lime and then we dove into a very delicious chicken dinner served with cole slaw and green beans. Christy and Carol have been involved together recently, not only in P.E.O., but in a newly formed women's group that met at the church across the street and they discussed who had attended, what the two of them had experienced, and what they hope for as this venture develops. Around 7:30, I excused myself to return home and unpack, turn off the outside water,  and to start seriously thinking about what lies ahead for me to get done this coming week.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/18: Breakfast, Pendleton Distillery, Steak Dinner and Good Luck

1. Mike, Ed, Terry and I sat down in the Traditional Buffet area at the Wildhorse Casino for plates of breakfast and a rundown on how things were going for us and what we had planned for the day.

2. One plan emerged: Terry, Mike, and I piled into the Sube and I jetted us into Pendleton and we made ourselves comfortable in the spacious interior of the Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. The distillery was all decked out in honor of WWII and the home front in the 1940s. One room was devoted to an exhibit of pictures and memorabilia from the war and the 1940s. The women serving drinks and food were wore their hair in a 1940s style (I think) and some wore clothes from the era -- a delight.

Terry, Mike, and I sampled the distillery's two whiskeys and I also tried their gin. We each ordered a Umatilla Gold Whiskey, neat, and each ordered Porky's Revenge, three huge pork spare ribs served with a honey glaze over a bed of sushi rice. We finished lunch with a cocktail: Terry and Mike each enjoyed a whiskey sour and I tried my very first gin rickey, a fun and delicious drink -- as an homage to Weird Al Yankovic, the drink was called a Hey Rickey, You're so Fine. Remember that video on MTV? If you'd like a blast from the free wheelin' 1980s past, click right here.

3. Back at the Wildhorse Casino, I played a little bit and then joined Ed and Mike for a drink in Ed's and my room. I got very comfortable and after our lunch, a cocktail, and a splash of toasted caramel whiskey, I took a nap.

The four of us had reservations for our annual dinner at the casino's steakhouse, The Plateau. I ordered New York strip steak, served with a whiskey sauce poured over it and some broccoli and pilaf. Our table shared a couple of bottles of Malbec wine and we topped off our fine dinner with a complimentary chocolate truffle.

I don't think there is any key to success, any sure fire approach to playing machines in a casino. It's all pretty much dumb luck, good or bad. I do know that I play in short spurts and try to have fun for shorter periods of time and am always looking for other things to do: go to Pendleton, read in my room, enjoy food, or nap. I used to enjoy going to one of the casino bars and watch football games, but I don't do that any longer. Well, luck was on my side this weekend. Winnings paid for my two dinners today, will pay for my share of our room, and for breakfast on Sunday. This never happens and I don't count on it ever happening again, but it was fun to have some good fortune this time around.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/18: Travel and Memories, Yakkin' with Colette, Whiskey with Lifelong Friends

1. After breakfast at Sam's, I returned home, tried to get the house looking good so I'd return to a clean kitchen and a tidy living room, got cleaned up, finished packing, and vaulted into the Sube and blasted to Kingson to pick up Ed and begin our drive to Pendleton and our weekend with Terry and Mike at the Wildhorse Casino. The drive was easy. The overcast skies were easy on my eyes, traffic was light and sane, and our trip went smoothly.

Just north of Pasco, we stopped in at Farmer's Mercantile, a dizzying store stocked with a wide variety of nuts, candies, gorgeous produce, jars of pickled items, salsas, jams, jellies, preserves, breads, sauces, dips, and many other items. The Mercantile serves tasty looking sandwiches and other food and has a full espresso bar. I wasn't in the mood to do any buying beyond a cup of coffee. Ed picked up some gifts for friends while I wandered around and thought a little bit about trips I used to take to Lone Pine Farm and Thistledown Farm north of Eugene and I suddenly realized I miss those places near Eugene and that I'd like to return to them on a future visit down there.

2. Ed and I checked into our room and I fiddled around on the casino floor a little bit -- even won a few bucks -- and then I drove into Pendleton to have dinner with Colette Marie at the Prodigal Son Brewpub. I've mentioned before that while Colette and I have been in contact for about the last oh, let's say nearly ten years, but we hadn't seen each other in person for nearly thirty-five years.

We took our seats at a window table looking our on Court Street and immediately launched into conversation that was so occupied us that we kept neglecting the menu. Our superb server kept coming back to our table, not wanting us to think she'd forgotten us, and finally, about the tenth time she returned, we ordered.

It went like this for nearly six hours as Colette and I talked about our spouses, our sons and daughters, the good old days at Whitworth, some bad old days at Whitworth, our health, mutual friends, Colette's new job at Whitman College, our ways of seeing the world, and the many ways we've been enriched over the years by places we've lived, people we've known, work we've done; by the members of our families, the ways we've sought fulfillment, by the difficulties we've suffered, and the losses we've experienced. We've both lived full lives since we last talked in person in January of 1984 and, after nearly six hours of conversation, we had covered a lot of ground. We said said good bye, both trusting that it won't be years, but we hope it will be more like months, when we can pick up some of this conversation again and add to it with some yakkin' about books and movies and music, among other things.

3. Back at the casino, Terry arrived from Gladstone about 12:30 a.m.  Mike, Ed, and I greeted him near the Lobby Bar and we all enjoyed a single shot of whiskey together, chewed some excellent fat together, and all wandered off to gamble a little bit. I hit the hay about 2 a.m., tired, but wound up with excitement after a full day of travel, time spent with friends I've known nearly my whole life, and time with Colette, whom I've known for much of my life.

What a full day.
What a marvelous day.