Saturday, August 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/16/19: Firefighters at Sam's, Three Hours at Coal Creek, Relaxing at the Lounge

1. West of Kellogg about 12-15 miles and about two miles north and east of Cataldo a fire broke about a week and half ago or so. A good sized crew of fire fighters were called in. Starting last Friday (Aug. 9), the local weather cooled off and rainstorms blew in for about three days and by the end of  this week, the fire was 100% contained.

I bring this up because as Brian, Jerry, Ed, and I were enjoying our regularly scheduled Friday morning breakfast, about thirty or more fire fighters descended upon Sam's. I've never seen Sam's so busy at 6:30 in the morning. It was an impressive sight. Young men and a couple of women calmly waiting while the the staff at Sam's scrambled to get water and coffee on the firefighters' tables, take their orders, and get the breakfasts cooked and served.

Once again, I got to add to my growing list of examples why I do not join in when discussions turn toward denigrating the youth of today. Again and again, the young people I encounter impress me deeply.

2. My legs felt a little rubbery after yesterday's two-a-day. This morning I decided to go to the Shoshone Medical Center and have my monthly vial of blood drawn and sent to Spokane and I bought some groceries and supplies at Yoke's. These tasks gave my legs a chance to rest.

The temperatures were moderate -- low 70s -- and, while I was over in the non-(human)food section picking up toilet paper, dishwasher pellets, and dog food, I suddenly thought I'd go to Coal Creek this afternoon and instead of having a destination to try to reach, I'd stay on the trail for about three hours.

So, that's what I did.

I reached the trailhead around 1:30. I had told Debbie I'd be back to town between 4:30 and 5:00 (I got back at 5:00). I set out, decided to take black and white pictures on this hike, and I got as far as I could by about 3:30, taking plenty of time to snap shots and stopping to rest often, especially as the trail left the creek bed and started to ascend into the mountains.

I don't know how far I hiked today. My pedometer crapped out on Thursday. I stopped often to rest and let my breathing and heart rate settle down as I hiked uphill. I also stopped to marvel at the beauty of the Coal Creek watershed. Old trees grow tall out of the area near the creek and along the banks. The higher up the trail I hiked, the more it seemed like I was in the tree tops, a stirring feeling. Down below, Coal Creek spilled over a variety of rock formations, creating waterfalls, and the higher I climbed the more the creek was running alongside rugged rock faces. When I'm hiking a single track trail like this with rocks and tree roots sticking out and with a steep bank immediately to my right (going uphill), I focus on the trail, careful not to trip over the minor obstacles in the trail.

Because in the midst of this splendor, I'm in a world that invites me to turn my gaze out, down the banks, and around the tree tops to enjoy the stunning sights all around me, stopping often gives me time to safely take in all the sublimity. I was very happy that I didn't have a goal for reaching a certain place within my time frame. I enjoyed hiking slowly, sitting on mossy rocks and old logs, giving my respiratory system a break, and taking in the rushing sounds of the creek and the sights of its magnificent home.

3.  Back in Kellogg, I needed some time to rest my legs, cool down, and hydrate.

Before too terribly long, the time felt right for Debbie and me to go up to the Lounge. I ordered myself a Makers Mark and ginger ale and took a seat at the end of the bar next to Renae Costa. Debbie joined us. Renae and I yakked about a lot of stuff, revisiting the days over forty-five years ago when Renae first arrived in Kellogg and carpooled to school with Mom. After school every day, Renae waited a few minutes while Mom popped into Stein's to buy Dad a six pack of 16 oz Heidelberg beers. Renae told me this evening that she used to marvel that Dad would drink that much beer in a single evening. He did. And sometimes more. It was fun thinking back to those days in Kellogg. I was in and out of town at that time, going to college, but living with Mom and Dad in the summers until the fall of 1976 when I worked in Spokane and then, three years later, moved to Eugene. Kellogg and the stories I heard were never far away, though, and it was a lot of fun reliving some of those times tonight before heading back home before 9:00.

*** It has been too long since I took pictures in black and white only. I was rusty today and, having reviewed my pictures, I have a lot to think about regarding shots I attempted that didn't work. Nonetheless, I thought I'd post some of my pictures from today, no matter what I think of them -- and, I'll admit, in a place as verdant as Coal Creek, I might have been nuts to shoot in black and white, but I think there are a lot of great monochrome shots in that watershed waiting to be taken.  I look forward to returning and seeing if I can improve.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/15/19: Two-a-Days, Golf at Medinah, Hike #2

1. Byrdman and I have a hike planned for this coming Wednesday that, from my reading about it, sounds more strenuous than any hike I've gone on this summer. To help get ready for it, today I decided to go back to my freshman year in high school, the only year I turned out for football (I hated it). We started the season in late summer of 1968 with two-a-day practices. I decided to try to prepare myself for Wednesday's hike by putting myself through a hiking two-a-day today.

This morning, I hiked up the Health and Wellness Trail, took a rest at the picnic table, and then continued on up the steep slope to the road I hike to when I want to end up in Vergobbi Gulch. Instead of walking this road and its much gentler descent, I hiked back down the steep trail I'd ascended, seeing how my balance and my knees and feet would hold up coming down the grade I had just climbed up. I did fine.

I'm learning more and more about how to hike steep trails in relation to my age and level of fitness. I am finally coming to full realize that I'm not in my thirties and forties any longer and that I cannot ascend these trails briskly. I'm also finding that if I make frequent short stops and breathe in and out 10-20 times standing still and then continue upward, that my body performs much better. I just cannot think about speed -- what I'm learning about myself as a 65 year old hiker out of practice, but getting in better shape, is that if I try to rush myself, I more quickly fatigue myself, but that if I hike slow and steady and stop to catch my breath multiple times, before my lungs are screaming for air, I do much better.

2. Back home, after my hike, I relaxed and rested my legs by watching the first round of the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club. My brother-in-law, Brian, is a member of Medinah and is working this tournament as a volunteer. I kept my eyes peeled whenever I looked up from the crossword puzzle I was working on to see if I might catch a glimpse of him, but, so far, no luck.

3. Around 6:30, I returned to the trail and worked again on climbing uphill and back down. As far as temperature is concerned, my timing was very good. The trail was shaded and the cool North Idaho air of evening was beginning to move in. I still worked up a pretty good sweat, but I was never overheated, a condition I don't deal well with at all. I hiked close to the spot where I had hiked to in the morning. Darkness was falling. I wanted to get off the hill before dark, so I cut my hike just a little bit short. I thought I handled the upward grade better this evening. My way of hiking short distances and taking frequent short rest and breath catching stops worked really well. I thought I handled my descent better this evening than in the morning as I managed, somehow, to feel less strain on my knees.

When coming down a steep trail, I am always concerned about how my big toes will respond. Inevitably, I jam my toes into the front of my shoes while descending and both my big toes can become easily angered by any number of stimuli. But, not today. When I returned home, I was ready to sit and drink two or three cans of seltzer water and my toes were happy, unbothered by what I put them through today.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/19: Rest, Reading More Travel Writing, Crosswords

1.  Over the years, I've read that days of rest are important to physical health, interspersed with days of exercise. Today, my legs felt heavy and I felt sluggish after my hike on Monday and my bike ride on Tuesday. I took a day off to rest and regenerate.

2. With every piece I read, I am increasingly happy that I bought The Best American Travel Writing 2018. Here's a list of what I read today. 

I read Ryan Knighton's, "Out of Sight". Knighton is blind and his account of going on a safari in Zimbabwe is fascinating. It's here (under a different title).

Pam Houston recently published a new book, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. The collection of travel writing I'm reading includes "Some Kind of Calling", the introduction to Houston's book. In it, Houston tells about her decision, in 1993, to buy the ranch where she's lived ever since. It's in the Colorado high country, near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Houston writes about how she has come to understand this turning point in her life over twenty years later. It's right here.

Rabih Alameddine, in "Hope and Home" describes and reflects upon his several visits with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Greece. I wish this piece were published online. It's a striking portrayal of displaced people working to establish some kind of normalcy, largely through hospitality, in the midst of terrible loss and suffering.

Ryan Manning grew up in Flint, Michigan and chronicles his return to Flint, his personal history there, and digs into how the water crisis Flint is experiencing has its roots in the city's complicated history with the auto industry. It's here.

3. Tuesday, I ordered a book of 200 Wednesday (medium level of difficulty) New York Times crossword puzzles. It arrived today. I completed three puzzles today, adding to my day's rest and relaxation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/19: Aimlessness, Biking to Big Creek, JJ Cale and Leon Russell

1. I thought a lot today about how much I miss wandering around aimlessly, whether on bicycle, while walking, or while hiking. When I was in my thirties, for example, I used to ride my bicycle aimlessly around Eugene. Sometimes I just whizzed along the Williamette River; other times I rode up and down streets south of the University of Oregon, thinking about stuff, but without a destination; sometimes I'd stop in at the Beanery for coffee or drop into a bookstore, say Black Sun, and browse; some days I was lucky and someone I knew would be out watering or sitting on a porch or out for a walk and we'd talk for a while. I often felt like a boy again, riding my bicycle just to do it, not for exercise, but because I enjoyed venturing aimlessly out in the place where I lived.

More recently, I used to do a lot of aimless walking in Eugene, often with my camera, taking pictures of easy chairs, sofas, benches, and other things to sit on in people's yards or on their porches and other subjects; sometimes I headed in a direction, say north, and ended up at Delta Ponds, not having planned to do so; often it was on these aimless walks that I checked out new businesses I'd read or heard about. I enjoyed taking similar walks in neighborhoods in Washington, D. C. For some reason, I enjoyed parking the Sube, on occasion, in the Brookland neighborhood. I walked aimlessly around it and sometimes ventured on out into what I think is called the Catholic Triangle to gawk at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception or wonder what it would be like to study at Trinity Washington University or at the Catholic University of America and live in this part of the city.

A couple of days ago, I panted and gasped my way to the top of the hill behind the hospital and the trail forked. I knew if I followed the right fork that eventually I'd starting winding down an old rough road and end up in Vergobbi Gulch. That's what I did. But, I wondered if the left fork might be the juncture in the trail where the two guys I talked to in June at the Health and Wellness trailhead went and wondered if that trail eventually went to Graham Mountain. When I was younger, I would have explored where the unknown trail went, confident in my energy, unconcerned about getting to a point where I'd have to backtrack and return, and excited by the notion that I might make some kind of discovery.

Right now, I don't trust that I have the energy to go wandering somewhat aimlessly into unknown territory. Especially when hiking alone, I am careful to stick to the plan I set out with, the plan I shared with either my sisters or with Debbie. I am concerned that something could happen while I'm hiking alone. If something happened after I decided to do some youthful aimless wandering and I didn't return home when I said I would, no one would know where to look for me.

2. I thought about all of this wandering on a bicycle ride today. After enjoying lox, capers, and cream cheese on a plain bagel with a couple glasses of water at the Bean, I pedaled east from there to the trailhead on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes at Big Creek -- it's called the Shont Trailhead -- and back home.  This ride from my house and back was, at most nine miles -- probably closer to 8.5 miles. It's a gentle uphill climb from Kellogg to Shont (Big Creek) and my progress was (discouragingly) slow. I wanted to leave the trail and pedal aimlessly for a while around Elizabeth Park, but I didn't trust that I had the energy to do so -- I think this was the moment that got my mind thinking so much about my younger days, my stores of energy as a younger person, and aimless biking, walking, and hiking. 

I found a shady spot at a picnic table at the Shont trailhead, hydrated, and read a fascinating essay, "We Go It Alone" by Rahawa Haile. It was published in the book I bought at Shakespeare and Co. in Missoula, The Best American Travel Writing, 2018. Haile's essay explores her experience and her reflections as a black woman thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2016. Her essay is online, right here. (Even if you don't read the essay, check out the picture of Rahawa Haile at the top of the essay. It's a stunning shot on the Appalachian Trail.)

3. Back home, I eventually settled into the Vizio room, hoping that one of my television content sources might have the JJ Cale documentary, To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with JJ Cale, available. No such luck, but one way or another, I'll get my hands on the DVD. I did discover, however, that Amazon Prime carries JJ Cale: In Session at Paradise Studio. It runs about eighty minutes, without commentary, and is a 1979 session featuring JJ Cale, Leon Russell, Christine Lakeland, Larry Bell, and other musicians playing a string of JJ Cale songs in Leon Russell's Paradise Studio.

I was mesmerized by JJ Cale's playing, his singing, his songwriting and loved the sound of this group of musicians. I loved hearing Leon Russell, not only playing different keyboards, but singing both solo and along with JJ Cale. If you'd like to take a peek at this session, it's available on YouTube, right here

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/19: Hiking with Turkeys, Map Studies, Tracy's Souvenir!

1.  Today I was determined to hike beyond the picnic table on the hospital's Health and Wellness Trail and huff and puff my way to the top of the hill and then make my way to the old road that winds down to Vergobbi Gulch. I did it. Because it was a remarkably cool August day, I didn't have to get out the door really early, so it was after 11:00 when I set out, and, to my delight and relief, the temperature barely rose while I was on the trail, making the hard work of humping up that hill not only bearable, but enjoyable. The thing I enjoy most about getting stronger, little by little, is that my focus is less on the chaos of my heart thumping and my lungs screaming for air and much more on the beauty of my surroundings.

Today I had moments of being enclosed by pine trees and wild shrubs, making it seem as if Kellogg had disappeared and I was enveloped in the sweet smells of wild berries -- I don't know what they are -- and other fragrant plants. I wasn't alone in enjoying this world above Kellogg. Over the course of my hike, over a dozen wild turkeys were my companions. I marveled at how deftly and effortlessly they scampered straight up the hill. It made me think back to when I was in grade school and used to scramble effortlessly up the side of this hill on the Mission Avenue side. I didn't know how fortunate I was not to need a trail, but with my youthful agility and energy could zoom right up these hills. My efforts these days are a far cry from zooming!

2. When I got home, I spent a lot of time studying the area where I'd been hiking. I studied my CdA National Forest Map and logged onto Google Earth. I wish I could go back in time to late June. I was waiting at the top of the steps rising out of the hospital parking lot for Byrdman to arrive. Two guys showed up and told me they were setting off for Graham Mountain. At that moment, I didn't think much of their plan, but in the weeks since then, I've become increasingly curious about their route and, with the map I have and with the help of Google Earth, I can't quite figure out what they must have done. I have some ideas, but no certainty. I'll go out to the Ranger Station one of these days and see what information is out there and talk with someone. Right now, I doubt it's a hike I'm in good enough shape to try myself, but, still, I'd like to learn more about what those lads must have done that day. 

By the way, the pleasure of my map studies was greatly enhanced by listening to the album by Eric Clapton and Friends (Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Don White, and others) called The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. They recorded this album after JJ Cale died and it's a superb collection of JJ Cale songs covered exquisitely by Clapton and this handful of other artists.

3. Cas and Tracy and Seth and Angie finished their weekend barnstorming tour of L. A. baseball parks tonight. After seeing games on Saturday and Sunday at Dodger Stadium, tonight they were at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch the Pirates play the Angels. Well, as good fortune would have it, this game was my free game of the day on my smart tv's MLB television app, so I settled in and pretended I was there watching the game with them.

I knew where those guys' seats were -- Cas had described them to me soon after he purchased them earlier this summer. In the bottom of the first inning, with two out, Justin Upton hit a fly ball to center. Starling Marte calmly camped under it, caught it, and flipped the ball into the stands behind him.

The camera didn't follow the flight of his flip into the seats, but I immediately wondered if he'd flipped that baseball anywhere close to where I knew Cas and Tracy and Seth and Angie were sitting. I knew he'd flipped it in their vicinity.

Well, sure enough, a little while later Cas texted me a picture of Tracy holding a baseball. Starling Marte flipped her that ball! If only the camera operator had decided to show the entire flight of Marte's flip -- all those watching could have seen Tracy make a fine catch and we all could have seen the Lounge well represented at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/19: Catching Up, Shoes and Toes, JJ Cale Day

1. While I was in Missoula and when I returned to Kellogg late Saturday afternoon, I didn't post 3BTs on my blog, so today I spent much of the day writing, uploading pictures, and getting caught up. I had no reason to hurry. I had no reason to write short entries. I had fun blabbing on about stuff and putting more pictures up.

2. I enjoyed the testimonies and advice I received today from many friends about hiking shoes/boots. I'll figure this out one day, but I am hyper-cautious about buying a pair because the last pair I bought several years ago felt fine in the store, but turned out to be the very pair of shoes that first inflamed, swelled, and enraged my big toes. A few pairs of other shoes have done the same since -- but not the type of New Balance shoes I've been wearing for the last four years and which New Balance has stopped making. I'll keep looking, trying shoes on, and hoping for the best.

3. I continued to immerse myself in JJ Cale today:  interviews, songs on cd, solo performances on YouTube, performances on YouTube with Eric Clapton, and interviews with both Eric Clapton and JJ Cale side by side, and posthumous interviews with Eric Clapton about JJ Cale.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/19: Hiking Woods Gulch, Hours of Vitality in Missoula, JJ Cale and Others Carry Me Home

1. I popped out of bed around 7 o'clock and went straight to the kitchen and put the Mr. Coffee to work, drank a cup, and headed out the door and walked a half a mile or so to the Woods Gulch trailhead and started up the trail. I wanted to get back downtown in Missoula soon and wanted to save my energy for walking in town, so I knew I wouldn't go a long way on this trail. I hope to return someday, though, and hike more of it. It starts along a small creek. The creek is completely obscured by the thick vegetation growing along its banks, but I could hear it whispering all along the early part of the hike. Before long, the trail made a turn, crossed the creek, and started uphill. I enjoyed the surrounding hills and mountains coming into clearer view the higher I climbed and, even though forest fires burned in the general vicinity, the air felt clean and cool and bracing. I began to get a little warm as I continued uphill and took this as a sign that I should return to the trailhead and then on up the hill to the house where I was staying on Madera Drive.

Pictures are posted below.

2. Since I was staying in the general area of Upper Rattlesnake, very near the Rattlesnake Recreation and Wilderness Area, I decided on my way back into Missoula to have a plate of corned beef hash with eggs and sourdough toast at the welcoming, neighborhood-y Rattlesnake Market and Cafe. My breakfast was splendid: the portions were modest (just the way I like), the corned beef hash was not out of a can (a rare treat) and the service was friendly and efficient. I enjoyed the steady stream of regulars popping in to purchase paper cups of coffee. People knew the owner well enough to joke around, tell short stories, get caught up on local news and gossip, and be on their way.

Once in town, I parked on Fifth Street close to the Hip Strip. I strolled up Higgins to the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore where I spent time reading about hikes in a couple of Missoula hiking books, a few selected poems by Richard Hugo located in Missoula, and some bits from Best American Travel Writing 2018, a book I purchased. Shakespeare and Co. is just the kind of bookstore that discourages me from ever buying books online. It's independent. It's smartly stocked with a superb variety of books. I heard customers at the front desk asking the woman working there to order them books. The store is also furnished with very comfortable chairs and I accepted one chair's invitation to sit and read -- I was so comfortable and relaxed that I nodded off a couple of times.

When I parked the Sube on Fifth Street, I'd noticed Veera Donuts. As I left Shakespeare and Co., I was suddenly in the mood for something sweet to counter my savory breakfast, so I popped into Veera. The donuts looked like miniature cakes: they were good sized and decorated and stuffed with all kinds of combinations of sweetness and flavors -- maple, bacon, chocolate, strawberry -- well, here, you can look for yourself: check out this picture of their products, here. I glanced up at the reader board. A single donut cost four bucks. I have never eaten a four dollar donut! I thought, well, you only live once and I ordered a French toast donut and cup of coffee, sat down, and bit into the very best donut I've ever tasted. When I returned to Kellogg, I went to Veera's website and discovered that their donuts are vegan and I thought if veganism ever wanted to give itself a good name for the way vegan food can be explosively flavorful, the movement should begin by having people sample Veera Donuts. Others in the shop were also impressed as I overheard customers speaking to one another in awed tones about how much they loved their donuts. It took me over ten minutes to finish mine -- it was so rich and flavorful and thick. I could have stopped at three quarters, but I went ahead and cleaned up my plate and ate the whole thing.

Next stop: Rockin' Rudy's to look at used cds. Rockin' Rudy's turned out to be an emporium of incense, cards, jewelry, soaps, retro toys, a wide assortment of candies, beads, T-shirts, jewelry, turntables, journals, posters, trinkets, games, and, of course, cds, dvds, and lps. I would be happy if I found recordings my Brian Jonestown Massacre or O.A.R., but primarily I wanted JJ Cale. I succeeded. I purchased a double cd anthology collection of JJ Cale's and JJ Cale's collaborative effort with Eric Clapton, the remarkable Road to Escondido.

Now I was tired. Missoula's weather was heating up. The sun was out in full force. I had originally thought I'd go to Butterfly Herbs and try to find some Middle East spices, but I decided it was almost time to head home. I returned to the Sube, hopped in, stopped at Good Foods and walked around and sat in the dining area to cool down some more, and then hit the road.

3. I popped JJ Cale into the Sube's cd player and mild euphoria enveloped me as "The Call Me the Breeze" started playing. Ah! Yes! JJ Cale will be perfect for this drive back to Kellogg. Like me driving down the freeway, JJ Cale is never in a hurry. On a day like this one that I didn't want to come to an end, the easy rhythms and unhurried sounds of JJ Cale could, in the best way possible, make the next couple of hours or so on the road feel like a luxurious week. For many miles, I listened to JJ Cale and then I decided he'd enjoy Eric Clapton's company, so I put on The Road to Escondido and, right away, singing "Danger", JJ Cale and Eric Clapton kept my mild euphoria alive and my drive on I-90 continued as a great pleasure.

I took a break in Saltese at the Old Montana Bar and won some money playing one of my favorite slot machine games -- a game I had played with no money at stake online, but had never seen, until now, in a casino. It's called Wolf Moon. I drank a coke with some lime, cashed out, and upon returning to the Sube switched musical gears and let moe., O. A. R., Los Lobos, Trampled by Turtles, and the Yonder Mountain String Band carry me over Lookout Pass and back to the Silver Valley with their cover versions of Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead tunes, "Loser", "St. Stephen", "Bertha", "Brown-Eyed Women", and, as I rolled into Kellogg, the heart of the Silver Valley, "Shakedown Street".

Just for the record, here are hasty pictures of the Woods Gulch Trail and a couple of the house where I rented a room Friday night:

Three Beautiful Things 08/09/19: Driving Montana and REI, Dinner and Live Music at the Top Hat, Jerry Douglas and Tommy Emmanuel Enchant the Wilma

1. I took Charly over to Carol's and Paul's, tidied up the kitchen, cleaned myself up, and hit the road for Missoula. I stay in my lane when I drive east of Lookout Pass as slowly as the traffic will allow me -- around 60 to 65 mph. I enjoy driving a little bit slowly and taking in the gorgeous Montana landscapes when I drive in Montana. Upon my arrival, I went straight to REI and spent a couple of hours looking at clothes, rain gear, books, maps, insect repellent, bear spray, first aid kits, and hiking boots. The shoes I hike in now are very comfortable, but I'd something thicker on the bottom for when I hike on rocky trails and, I think, a hiking boot or shoe might give me better traction. My feet are finicky. If shoes don't fit me well, my big toes get angry and inflamed and begin to swell. It's like faux gout. So, I'm very careful when buying shoes of any kind. I tried on four different pairs of hiking wear at REI.  I wasn't confident that any of them fit correctly so I didn't buy any and I will continue my quest here in North Idaho. I did however purchase a rain jacket, a pair of hiking pants that convert easily into hiking shorts, a first aid kit, and insect repellent. I'll get bear spray on another shopping trip.

I rented a room for the night in an airbnb about seven miles north of Missoula on a dirt road in the woods. It's a secluded and quiet house with fresh air and excellent views of the surrounding mountains. I arrived at the house around four o'clock, was warmly greeted by the host, Flannery, and I quickly settled into my room. I didn't linger long, however,  because I wanted to go downtown.

2. I drove downtown, turned off of Higgins Ave onto Front St. and, much to my delight, I found a parking spot almost directly in front of the Top Hat and just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Wilma Theater. At the Top Hat, I enjoyed a couple of refreshing gin and tonic cocktails and ate a splendid meal: mixed greens salad as a side to a plate of spicy shrimp and grits. Around 6 o'clock a short cool woman in a black dress who looked, to me, strikingly like Michelle Williams' character in Take This Waltz fronted an electric band who played a string of original and most enjoyable songs. Top Hat has a Family Friendly couple of hours on Fridays and the place was packed with children who took over the space in front of the stage and turn it into a toddler's mosh pit. Delighted moms and dads kept a close eye on their kids. Some joined in and danced with the tykes. Others stood back, crying out things like, "Good job, Liam!" and "Dance nice, Sophie!" and "Love you, Taylor!".  It was a very good scene.

3. I went to the Wilma to hear two of the best acoustic instrumentalist I know of: dobro player Jerry Douglas and guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. It was an uplifting, invigorating night of virtuosity in a superb venue. Jerry Douglas opened the evening and straight away played, "A Tribute to Peador O'Donnell" and my insides quaked and my shoulders shook, I was so happy to hear this composition of his, one I'm familiar with. As the concert progressed, Jerry Douglas finished his set, Tommy Emmanuel came out after intermission. I loved the variety. Both Jerry Douglas and Tommy Emmanuel played a generous number of original tunes, but they also covered songs by Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Leadbelly, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, and others and Tommy Emmanuel played sublime versions of "Tennessee Waltz" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The two teamed up and played for or five songs to end the show.

Last December, Tommy Emmanuel and Jerry Douglas played in Spokane at a time I was uncertain about some things and so I didn't buy a ticket. A while back, I was stoked to discover they were coming back to this area and playing the Wilma in Missoula. I loved this concert. My life now has been blessed by two superb concerts in Montana by masters of acoustic instruments. Back in 1992, I was out driving Montana over several days and nights.  I wandered into Bozeman and took a walk. I saw a notice stapled to a telephone pole that Leo Kottke and David Lindley were playing that night. I hot-footed it to the venue's box office and, thank God, the show wasn't sold out and, like tonight, I got to attend a stirring and uplifting night of music. Two shows. Twenty-seven years apart. Both unforgettable, both among the very best concerts I've ever been to. I hope one night, whether in Montana or another state, I can be so lucky again.

Three Beautiful Things 08/08/19: About Hiking, Return to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, Subway and the S & R

1.  The more I go out and take hikes this summer, the more my mind is focused on the trail and not so much on any destination. I read as much as I can about trails online and often hiking sites feature readers' comments or reviews of the hikes. A few weeks ago, I read a hiker's description of her disappointment in the Pulaski Tunnel Trail because when s/he reached the end of the trail, the view wasn't spectacular. I realized, upon reading this, that I don't think much about what I might find at the end of the trail. Okay. Yes. Arriving at trail's end to the sight of Revett Lake was astonishing. But, before reaching the end of this trail, the variety of sights along the way, the outcropping of rocks, the small waterfalls barely visible through the thick foliage, the grandeur of the mountains in every direction, and the multiple wildflowers in bloom made this hike rewarding before Byrdman and I ever reached the lake itself.

One of the benefits of my body slowly getting into better hiking condition is that, as I meander up a trail, I can pay more attention to the beauty around me. When I began hiking more in earnest this summer, my mind was mostly on the hike as a way to exercise, as a way to possibly ward off kidney dialysis, possibly lose some weight. This aspect of hiking remains very important to me, but more and more I'm paying attention to the sensory experiences on the trail. I love the relaxing sounds of water flowing, sometimes rushing; the various shades of green in the needles and leaves of trees and the brush and other foliage growing so thick around these trails; the sight of fallen trees, especially when they have dropped into the creeks or form bridges over the water; the cool mountain air of the mornings; the outcroppings of rocks on the hillsides and the way moss carpets black rocks in the creek beds.

Lately, I've had more energy while hiking so I can take pictures. Taking pictures slows me way down. My camera tames any compulsion I might feel to hike more quickly and dampens any feelings I might have that I must reach the trail's end. The sun is my chief nemesis on the trail. Sunlight saps me. I try to get going in the mornings before the sun directly hits whatever trail I'm on. Because taking pictures slows me down, often, when the sun begins to appear and warm things up, I turn around and head back to the trailhead not having reached trail's end and that's fine with me. I'd rather stay cool, take pictures, and enjoy my surroundings than force myself to reach a destination.

2. So, this morning, I returned to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail south of Wallace, about a mile or so up the road from where King Street turns into Moon Pass Road. When I started my hike, the sun was hidden behind the steep hills to the east of the trail so the air was perfectly cool.

The trail meanders along the West Fork of Placer Creek. From the trail, it's difficult to take unobstructed pictures of the water because the foliage is thick. But, in several spots, I was able to leave the trail and easily position myself at creek's edge and take unobstructed pictures and I got some decent shots from the trail itself. Taking pictures, trying to figure out how to deal with obstructions, turned out to be the focus of my hike today and I figured that I would not reach the trail's end before the sun peeped over the hills and the air started to warm up.

I took about 70 pictures with my 50 mm lens. Next time, I'll take either my kit lens or my Sigma 18-200 so that I can zoom in on shots more and see how that works. I was reviewing pictures I took in May on the Sweet Creek Trail near Mapleton, OR with my Sigma 18-200. I pretty much liked them. I'd like to see how it I do with that lens on the Pulaski Trail.

If you'd like to see the pictures I took on the Pulaski Trail, I posted them on flickr, here. Unless my pictures are terribly out of focus, I post everything in my flickr albums so that I can study the pictures I think work well and study my mistakes as well.

I also posted a few of my pictures at the bottom of this page.

3. It got hot today. I didn't have much cold food on hand, didn't feel like going to the store, and didn't want to heat up (or further clutter up) the kitchen, so I made an online order at Subway for a sandwich, a bag of Lay's Original potato chips, and a bottle of Coca-Cola. I drove down the street, picked up my food, brought it home and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Doing this, and driving down West Cameron Avenue, reminded me of how Mom used to occasionally treat us to food from the S & R Drive-In, located across the street from Subway. If I remember correctly, in those days, Dad wasn't crazy about take out food and Mom would treat us to an S & R dinner when Dad was working at the Sunshine Inn or got a call out to the Zinc Plant. I don't order from Subway often and this evening I felt some of the same thrill eating food I didn't prepare that I used to feel when we got to bring home food from the S & R.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/07/19: Ham Stock, Staying In, More Coal Creek Pictures

1. I've been keeping an eye on, and occasionally tasting, a batch of ham stock bubbling away in the slow cooker for the last three days or so. The foundation of this stock is the ham bone and fatty meat leftover from when I sliced pieces of this ham for the Still Alive at 65 party. I had cooked that ham over a layer of brown sugar and had coated the meat with more brown sugar. When I removed the ham from the crock pot, I had about a quart of brown sugary ham broth. I saved that broth and, for this stock, I combined celery and onions and water with the ham bone and poured some of the brown sugar ham broth into the stock, slightly sweetening it. Today, I let the stock cool and filled containers and I was very pleased with the results, especially pleased with what the brown sugar broth added. My plan is to buy another small bone in ham sometime this fall, when the weather cools down, and fix ham and navy bean soup.

2. I couldn't see any good reason to go outdoors today. The temperature soared to close to 100 degrees and fires from northeast Washington state and from British Columbia, along with a new fire burning near Wall Ridge Road north of Cataldo made the air smoky and hazy. I got a few things done around the house and did my best to stay cool.

3. I had a great time today working with the pictures I snapped at Coal Creek on Tuesday. From my point of view, it was a photo session of mixed success. It took me a while to get my camera settings right and I probably deleted about a dozen or so of the pictures I took because they were out of focus. But, I took more good pictures than lousy ones and I uploaded a new album of twenty-three pictures to my flickr page. (If you'd like to look at the album, click here.) Here are three more of the pictures I took on Tuesday while hiking the Coal Creek Trail:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/06/19: Back to Coal Creek, Visiting Corrine, Athena at the Dog Pound

1. I eased into the Sube around 9:00 this morning and returned to the Coal Creek trail up the river. For the first time on a hike this summer, I brought my camera, loaded with my 50mm lens. Today promised to be a scorcher, but I know this trail has its own cool climate thanks to the generous shade, thick foliage, and the cooling effect of the creek. I meandered. I took pictures (I'll post some below). I crossed the bridge over Coal Creek at about 3/4 of a mile in and headed up the mountain, hiking farther than I'd gone before into the Coal Creek basin. It looked to me from some ruts that mountain bicyclists had used this upper part of the trail. I would find it harrowing to bike on this narrowing trail, especially because it keeps rising higher and higher above the creek, with little room between the trail and the steep and increasingly longer drop into the creek bed. Before I left Kellogg, I had texted Christy and Carol that I'd return home around noon, so my time on the trail was dictated by the clock. That was fine. I headed back to the car at the appropriate time. Before long, though, I'm going to return to Coal Creek, leave the house much earlier, and aim to hike to the trail's end. By day's end today, I had walked nearly three miles, over 6000 steps.

2. Over the weekend, I'd heard that Corrine Turnbow was now living in the nursing home across the street. I brought that news home with me and Christy, Carol, and I immediately planned a visit with her this afternoon. We found Corrine in her room, sitting contentedly in a wheelchair, reading a book. She told us that she's doing fine, that she likes her situation. We had a good visit, catching up a bit on Corrine's family news and reminiscing about the many many good times we had with the Turnbows out at Rose Lake many many years ago and the other get togethers we had over the years.

3. I was settling into the late afternoon, thinking about what to have for dinner, about to clean up the kitchen, when Cas texted me that he was pulling into the Dog Pound (Eddie Joe's) and that he'd like me to join him if I were thirsty. I couldn't resist. Sure enough, I strolled into Eddie Joe's and was greeted by two dogs, Ginger's three legged boy and the Eddie Joe's house dog, Dexter. Athena came out from behind the bar and guided both dogs away from the door, making my entry a little easier, and I spotted Cas seated where he likes to sit near the end of the bar. It was a good session. My gin and tonics refreshed me on this hot day.

Cas introduced me to Athena (he calls her The Goddess) and she told Cas and me about her experience returning to school at North Idaho College after about 10 years of not being in school. Little did she know how much I loved hearing her story and, sitting there on a bar stool in the Dog Pound, I was having a substantial chapter of my life replay in my mind as the faces of so many students, so similar to Athena, flashed in my mind. Joy swelled up inside me. Working at LCC with students like Athena was what I enjoyed most in my job and listening to her talk about her initial fears to be back in school, the way she has developed confidence, how she's been appreciative of her teachers, and how she's performed superbly in her studies elated me.

Listening to Athena was kind of like going to church. When I worship, I feel at one, in spirit, with the many other Espiscopalians who are having essentially the same experience I am across the country; today I felt at one, in spirit, with my fellow community college instructors, knowing that, for so many of us, the deepest satisfaction in our work lay in working with students who, like Athena, are making a huge step in life to return to school, aren't quite sure how they'll do, and discover their intelligence and love of learning; so many also discover hope for their future, discover the power of their gifts and talents, and find ways to do good things with those gifts and talents out in the world -- very often in service to others as social workers, counselors, nurses, teachers, and other similar work. I don't know what Athena's hopes are beyond North Idaho College, but my sense is that she'll do very well.

*Here's a sampling of pictures I took on the Coal Creek trail. I've got to go back repeatedly and take pictures here. It's very challenging. I had a lot of problems taking pictures today and I'm hoping with more visits, I can solve some of the problems I had. Here are some of the pictures that worked out pretty well:

Here are three views from the first leg of the trail:

Here are some shots of Coal Creek:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/05/19: A Day of Rest, Final Bill Arrives, Every Picture Tells a Story

1. The weekend's activities left me tired, not from lack of sleep, not from too much drink, but from all the conversation and all the emotions over the last three days. It was a sweet fatigue linked to having had so much of my Kellogg life over the years pass before me from Friday to Sunday evening. I was grateful that I could rest today, take a nap or two, and get recharged.

2. The final sewer project bill came into my email box this morning and the guys got the job done just a tad bit under the original estimate. Since nothing really went haywire during the project, I had confidence that this would be the case, but, all the same, I was relieved.

3.  Sharon and Carol Lee posted wonderful pictures from our 65 and Still Alive weekend and Christy posted wonderful pictures from the Jim Vergobbi Celebration of Life. The pictures radiantly document the beauty of both occasions and I spent a lot of time today admiring them repeatedly.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/04/19: The Morning After, Honoring Jim Vergobbi, After the Celebration

1.  Several revelers who took part in this weekend's "Still Alive at 65" party stayed overnight up the river in a tent, trailer, or camper. I knew when I left Saturday night that these lifelong friends of mine would be sitting around a coffee pot on Sunday morning spending some more time yakkin'.

Around 8 this morning, Jeri and Don came by the house and we drank coffee and had a great visit about our lives these days, a more extended conversation than we'd had at the party. They were on their way to see Don's brother on Lake Coeur d'Alene and, after about an hour, had to get going. We embraced, told each other we hoped to see one another soon, and bade one another good-by for now.

I vaulted back into the Sube and blasted up the river to join the coffee circle in front of Danny and Sharon's trailer. To my delight, not only were several friends present, but there was more food! Bagels, cream cheese, huckleberry jam, and spinach quiche. Soon Jake arrived with a box of doughnuts. It was an awesome way to bring our high holy days of celebrating to an end. I had a big afternoon ahead of me, so after visiting for over an hour or so, I announced I had to get going to get ready for my big afternoon. More farewells. More hugs. Huge smiles. I was off.

2. This afternoon, the Elks Club hosted a major event in the life and history of Kellogg, Idaho and Shoshone County. Lifelong resident and former city councilman, mayor, county commissioner, and father, grandfather, and area wide friend, Jim Vergobbi died on July 9th and this afternoon a lively throng gathered to mourn and to celebrate his life.

It was a perfect event. Starting between 1:30 and 2:00 people of all ages from all parts of Jim's life mingled, enjoyed cocktails, beer, or wine, and reveled in one another's company. Some time after 2:30, Jim's son, Dave, assumed his role as the master of ceremonies. We watched videos of Jim singing and later of him dancing. Jim's grandson Alexander sang "My Way" as a tribute to Jim. First, Dave, and then Jim's daughters, Cathryn and April, told stories about their dad. and then Dave opened the floor to anyone who wanted to add their stories and we heard from Jim's lifelong friend Donnie Rinaldi, a couple of Jim's grandchildren, a Benewah County commissioner, from Jim's fellow Shoshone County commissioner Sherry Krulitz, and other friends.

3. As is often the case at these events at the Elks Club, Jim's celebration of life kicked into a higher gear when the planned program ended. Christy and I stayed until nearly seven o'clock and I got to talk more with Mike Wilson -- he and his wife, Carol, hosted Kenton, his wife Gerri, and me two weeks ago at their lake place and we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and Mike's, Kenton's, and my participation at the Boy Scout Jamboree; I got to visit with Kenton and Gerri; Cathryn Vergobbi and I had not seen each other since 1992 and enjoyed having a long talk; I reminisced with Bob Dumont; I shared some words with Dave Vergobbi; Deni Rinaldi popped in around 6 o'clock and I loved seeing her; I talked with other people and saw many familiar faces across the crowded room, faces of people I first knew when I was a little boy,

My lasting impression from this Celebration of Life was that Cathryn, Dave, and April were  touched and comforted by the enthusiastic turnout, that so many people, mostly from the Kellogg area, turned out to honor and celebrate Jim and to offer their condolences. Since I've moved back to Kellogg, I've attended at least seven memorials, including Mom's, and every single one of them has been a lively coming together of friends and family to share in the wide range of emotions we feel when a loved one passes away. At these memorials, I've reunited with old friends I hadn't seen for decades. I've heard stories about those who have died I'd never heard before. I've been deeply impressed by the outpouring of love and support so many in our community have extended to the families who have suffered the loss of one of their own. Yes. It's good to be back.

Three Beautiful Things 08/03/19: Still Alive at 65 Resumes, The Best Potluck Dinner, Cornhole and a Roaring Fire

1.  I knew that today would be a high holy day for those of us gathered at the river to celebrate turning 65 years old. I arrived at Sharon and Danny's river property in the Sube not long after noon. I promised myself I wouldn't have much to drink today. Upon arrival, I couldn't resist enjoying a small glass of Sharon's tasty and potent sangria. I finished it and, from that point on, all I drank was water. I enjoyed having a clear head as the day progressed, as more and more people arrived, and as I listened to volumes of stories about what people are up to now and stories about the deep past.

These get togethers sometimes make me wish I'd been a little crazier in my younger days so I'd have great tales to tell, but, alas, telling tales about falling in love with Shakespeare and working in the Chaplain's office and teaching English for many years aren't very interesting! Ha! So, I enjoy taking in stories of others' escapades. I had a lot of fun looking through Sharon's scrapbook of pictures of previous reunions and birthday parties and other parties over the years. I also enjoyed quiet conversations with people one on one and learned a lot, especially about how some of our elders, that is, parents who are still alive, are doing and about losses we have all suffered. It's inevitable that, at this stage of life, conversation will turn to loss and inevitable that many of us  find ourselves talking about medical challenges we have faced and are working with now. I deeply appreciate the support we lend one another as these stories come out.

2. Around five o'clock, Sharon and Joni and others loaded up three or four tables with the superb food people brought and our potluck dinner got underway. The tables were loaded with generous and delicious contributions: noodle salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, different styles of fried chicken, ham, Kathy Van Hoose Jenkin's moist, beautifully decorated, and mouthwatering chocolate cake (I think she bakes cakes professionally out of her home), pie, a variety of chips and other snacks, and so much more.  As we ate, I got to visit with Judy Jacobs about hiking and tell her she has inspired me and she told me about hikes she's enjoyed and how much good hiking does to improve her state of mind as well as her physcial fitness.

3. I have been enjoying craft beers for several years. Almost every brewery or taproom I've visited makes the playing of cornhole available to its customers. I've sat back mulitple times and watched men and women toss bean bags at the inclined board with a hole near the top, trying to toss bags into the hole, or, at least, land bags on the board. Until today, I had never played. But, after dinner, Stu and I paired up as a team and Ed and Joni paired up as our opponents, and we had ourselves a fun game of cornhole. Stu was the most experienced player and it showed, but Joni, Ed, and I all succeeded in tossing a bag into the hole -- I only succeeded once, but it was a game winning toss! With that toss, Stu and I reached the magic number of 21 and secured a hard fought victory over Joni and Ed. We had a blast. I understand why this game is so popular.

Speaking of craft beer, since I didn't drink beer today, I didn't drink any of the beers Rocky brought me from Boise, but, Sharon rounded me up a double paper bag and Rocky pulled seven different cans, seven different styles of Boise area beer, ranging from peach beer to brown ale, out of his cooler for me to take home. I can hardly wait to drink them and let Rocky know what I think -- I have no doubt that I will enjoy them immensely.

As darkness fell and our bellies were full and the North Idaho river and mountain air began to cool to a chill, Danny built another roaring fire and those present sat in a circle and continued to tell stories, make funny remarks, and enjoy one another's company. I lasted for a while, but fatigue caught up to me, and, grateful to be driving completely sober, I leapt into the Sube and blasted back down the river and back to I-90 and returned home, happy to have been with so many great friends and ready for a night of sweet and satisfying sleep.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/02/19: Hiking Coal Creek, Slow Cooked Ham, Still Alive at 65

1. Around 10:30 this morning, equipped with knowledge passed on to me by Doug, Darrell, and Harley, I returned to Coal Creek. Now I realize that there's an open area right when you turn into the Coal Creek area off of FS 9 and there's a short road that leads out of this open area to the Coal Creek Trailhead. There are no signs -- none telling you this is Coal Creek and no signs indicating that the trailhead is up the short road I just mentioned. I parked the Sube in the open area near FS 9 and walked up the short road to where I could see the start of the trail.

The trail runs alongside and above Coal Creek and it's stunning. The mile or so that I walked today was almost entirely canopied and with the creek nearby it was shady, cool, and gorgeous. The creek features several miniature waterfalls, a number of trees that have fallen across the waterway, both in and above the creek, and the area is thick with ferns and other greenery. The trail, as far as I went, was never steep, but I stopped often to admire the beauty of this riparian zone and to enjoy the cool air.

About a mile up the trail, I crossed a footbridge and the trail headed uphill. I came to a T. I assumed if I went right, I would continue to hike parallel to Coal Creek, going upstream. I didn't know where I'd end up if I went right. I decided that I'd had a good introduction to Coal Creek, would return home and look at my CdA National Forest map and see if I could learn more about this junction (this T), and return again, earlier in the day, and hike farther on this trail.

I consulted the map at home and, sure enough, I'm convinced that had I gone right at the T, I would have eventually come to another intersection with the Graham Creek and Graham Ridge trails. The map didn't indicate where the trail went if I turned left, so I'll ask around and see if anyone knows and I'll drop in at the ranger station near Smelterville and see if I can learn more.

2. I've had a small ham sitting in the freezer in the basement ever since purchasing an order of pork early last summer. I decided to cook it up for the Saturday potluck up the river as a bunch of us from the KHS Class of 72 are celebrating all turning 65 years old either in late 2018 or in 2019. I didn't really want to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen this morning. With a little looking around, I found the simplest possible recipe for cooking a ham in the crock pot. So, when I returned home from Friday breakfast with Ed and Jerry and before I left to hike Coal Creek, I put about a cup and a half of brown sugar in the bottom of the crock pot, put the ham in the crock pot, covered it with a half a cup of brown sugar, and turned the slow cooker on low. It was supposed to take eight hours, but around 1:00 or so, I took the ham's temperature and it was done. After removing it from the crock pot, I let it rest for about a half an hour and then I carved slices and wrapped the stack in foil. It's ready for Saturday's party.

I also saved out some stringy and fat pieces of ham, the ham's fat, and the ham bone and soon I'll make ham stock and, when the time is right, I'll make a pot of ham and white or navy bean soup.

3. Our "Still Alive at 65" party got underway late this afternoon. I drove out to Ed's and we piled into his pickup and arrived at Danny and Sharon's river property a little early and jumped right into conversation with Rocky and Mike Masters. Rocky brought me some superb craft beers from the Boise area and I cracked open a tasty and refreshing lemon and ginger Hefeweizen. Later I enjoyed a superb Hazy IPA. Before long several more people arrived, we dove into the hot dog buffet, and, as it grew darker and cooler, all took our chairs down and sat around the fire ring where Danny kept a roaring blaze going. Stories and laughter dominated the evening. It was an evening full of good cheer and happy reunions. We'll have even more friends arrive for Saturday's potluck and the  enjoyment will continue to grow.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 08/01/19: Sewer Project Completed, My Fascination, *Luther* and *The Americans*

1. The plumbing crew arrived at 6 a.m. and by about 3:30 or so they had completed their task of installing lining in our sewer line from the basement, inflating this material, and giving it time to cure.  Our sewer line is essentially new. The process was not too noisy. No digging trenches. No disruption of the deck or yard. They had to dig a small hole in the basement and cut some pipes and they did a great job plumbing those pipes, backfilling and cementing the hole they dug, and leaving the basement clean. I immediately checked our furnace's filter and it definitely needed changing, so I got that done. It's a relief to have this project completed.

2. I just couldn't pull myself away from the house while this work was underway. I was fascinated by the process and watching the crew carry out their plan. They faced complications -- at one point they almost gave up -- but they stuck with it and with some ingenuity and persistence got the job done.

3. Once the house was cleared, I spent some time in the Vizio room. I returned to the first season of Luther and watched a weird episode about a wealthy sociopath whose crimes were grisly and involved exsanguination. I enjoy watching John Luther work on cases, but I find the parts of episodes involving him and his estranged wife and his ongoing battles with a character named Alice distracting, even tiresome. I would like to see more of DSU Rose Teller -- I really enjoy Saskia Reeves' work -- and more interaction between Rose Teller and John Luther.

After one episode of Luther, I returned to the The Americans and watched the final episode of Season 1 over again and then watched the first episode of Season 2. I enjoy the way this series messes with its audience by inviting us to commit our sympathies to the KGB agents living as suburban Americans. I catch myself. What am I doing rooting for the Soviets? Hoping the FBI fails? Starting to care a lot for this arranged marriage and the couple's children? I'm getting sucked in. That's what's happening. And it's a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/31/19: Sewer Work Underway, Cocktails, Becky on the Deck

1. The guys arrived today to start work on installing cured in place piping from our house to the city's main sewer line at the border of our back yard. They needed most of the morning to work out a plan to do this job without having to drain and move our hot water tank. They figured that out, jack hammered and dug a shallow hole in the basement and, rather than stay at the house until around 10 tonight, left shortly after noon and will do the job on Thursday, August 1, starting about 6 a.m.

2. Late in the afternoon, Debbie and I went to Hill Street Depot for a hummus plate and a couple of cocktails and, on the way out, talked to Becky and invited her over to the house to sit on the deck and enjoy some gin together.

3. I enjoyed listening to Becky's tales of hiking and camping in North Idaho and Western Montana. I didn't realize she is friends with the guy who posts hiking and camping videos on the YouTube channel called Mountain Wanderer, found here. Becky told me about hikes and camping trips she's taken and her descriptions ignited my imagination. I'm not really thinking about camping so much as I enjoy hearing about possibilities for day hikes.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/30/19: Oil Change, Today's Hike, Yellow Curry

1. I like keeping the Sube's oil changed and tires rotated; I always enjoy dealing with the guys at Silver Valley Tire -- so I'm happy I got that done first thing this morning.

2. My hike up the Health and Wellness Trail was a good one: the air was cool; my stamina was off a little bit, but not too bad.

3. I had fun making a yellow curry sauce this afternoon and putting cauliflower, tofu, basil leaves, and cabbage into it and serving it over jasmine rice. I thought it was moderately spicy, allowing the salty and sweet tastes to assert themselves.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/19: Trailhead Confusion, Trail Fail, Farro

1.  At dinner Sunday, Carol and Paul talked about having hiked the Coal Creek trail. I drove to where I thought the trailhead should be, but, once there, I didn't see any signs and I was not sure I was actually in the right place. I either need to go to the Forest Service Ranger Station or communicate with someone who knows that trailhead and get a better sense of the lay of the land. When I returned home, I read up on the Coal Creek trailhead some more, but I'd like some more precise information about it.

2. I didn't have any better luck in the evening when I tried to check out the Holmes Gulch trail. I haven't found any written material on it in a book or online, but maps consistently indicate that the trail begins at the top of Chestnut Street at the top of the hill. I walked up there today, did not see a trail, but saw a lot of No Trespassing and Keep Out signs. I'll have to see if anyone I know has some knowledge about this trail and about this hike.

3. I wondered today, as I ate the farro Debbie prepared with a bowlful of steamed vegetables and then again, when I added cold farro to a salad I fixed this evening, if I'd ever eaten farro before. It would have been when I lived in Eugene, but I couldn't really remember. Oh, well. I'm very happy that Debbie introduced farro into our range of foods to eat here in Kellogg and that it's readily available in bulk at Pilgrim's in CdA.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/19: Faithfulness, Upriver Trail and Ole Mountain Opry, Family Dinner and AMC

1. Today's readings moved Father Gortner to preach in plain terms and practical terms about unfaithfulness -- not only human unfaithfulness in relationship to God, but human to human unfaithfulness in relationships, whether at work, in the church, or at home. I came away from today's service thinking about faithfulness and persistence, about being persistent in knocking, seeking, and asking. I experienced something new in today's service: a parishioner asked me and the other woman in our pew to bring the communion elements to the altar today. In all my years worshiping as an Episcopalian, I'd never done this before. I carried the wine to the front and successfully passed it off to the person at the altar awaiting its arrival.

2. In one of the hiking books I purchased yesterday, I learned about Trail #20 in the Cd'A National Forest. The trail rises above the upper reaches of the CdA River. Since I already had plans to go up the river today to hear the Ole Mountain Opry this afternoon at the Prichard Tavern, I decided to drive about twenty-five miles or so past Prichard on Forest Service Road #208 and check out the location of the trail head of Trail #20.  I missed it the first time I passed it and soon the paved road turned into an unpaved road. I didn't like it.  I turned around and headed back down the river and within minutes saw the sign for Trail #20 I had missed about ten minutes earlier. Now I can plan a hike there later this summer or in the fall. Twice, my heart was knocking against my chest on this drive when a deer and later a moose popped out of the brush. The deer was about ten yards in front of me so I had plenty of time to further slow down the Sube's crawl up the road.  The moose had a mouth full of leaves and decided not to pop all the way onto the road, but trot beside the Sube as I crept down the road. Soon the moose vanished back into the woods.

After making a quick check to see if Byrdman was at his river place in case we could go to the Ole Mountain Opry together (he wasn't), I arrived at the Prichard Tavern just as the music was starting. I ordered a gin and tonic, strolled to back of the tavern where the musicians were playing from the back porch. I enjoyed every single tune. I enjoyed the singing, the harmonizing, the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and dobro solos that broke out during several tunes and got to hear some great familiar songs, ranging from Kate Wolf to Johnny Cash to Tom Paxton to Jimmy Buffet and a whole lot more in between. The setting was stunning. The tavern is nestled between steep hills of pine and cottonwood trees, a gorgeous sight, and as the afternoon deepened, the shade increased, cool mountain breezes kicked up, and we all settled into the sublimity of an easy North Idaho afternoon up the river in late July.

3. The Ole Mountain Opry was going to continue for another 90 minutes when it was time for me to leave and make my way downriver, back to Kellogg, and into Christy and Everett's back yard for family dinner.  And what a superb dinner we had! After a fine citrusy cocktail, we dove into a juicy, tender, and flavorful beer can chicken, corn on the cob prepared on the grill, and a peach cole slaw. For dessert, Christy served lemon zucchini cake and I had mine with a scoop of pistachio gelato. A little later, Debbie bopped over to our house and brought back pieces of chocolate she'd made at a workshop today. Our conversations swung all over the place, but grew to a rousing climax as we reviewed characters and storylines from weeks and weeks of All My Children from the 1970s (and maybe early 80s), remembering the Martins and the Tylers as well as crazy people who came to Pine Valley like Billy Clyde Tuggle, Myrtle Fargate, and many others.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/19: VFW Breakfast in Osburn, Spokane Day Trip, Garcia and Groceries

1. Around 10 this morning, I hopped in the Sube and blasted up to the VFW Hall in Osburn where they serve a fund-raising breakfast on the fourth Saturday of every month. DJ and Eileen always work this breakfast, so I knew I'd see them and, upon arriving, I saw that Ginger was just finishing her breakfast. So, one of the women at the food counter served me a huckleberry pancake, a sausage, and some scrambled eggs. I poured myself a coffee and shot the breeze with Ginger.  I'm going to Missoula for a concert on August 9th at the Wilma (I'll see Tommy Emmanuel and Jerry Douglas) and I know Ginger has been going to the Wilma for years so we talked about Missoula a bit and she reminded me to be sure to go to Butterfly Herbs and check out their herbs and spices for cooking. I'll do that.

2. From Osburn, I drove straight to Spokane. I'd never been to Spokane's REI store, so I popped in to check out hiking books and maps. I left, and for old time's sake, I parked in the old Parkade building, and walked down to Auntie's Bookstore and looked at more hiking books and purchased a couple.

If I'm going to go on more of these day trips, I've got to remember bring water. I was feeling a little sluggish today and realized that my breakfast had dehydrated me. I left Auntie's, walked over to the Interstate Performance Hall to possibly buy some concert tickets, but the box office was closed, so I went to the Onion at Riverside and Bernard and ordered a Caesar salad topped with fried oysters and I drank about two pints of water and another two pints of Coca-Cola with lemon.

I sat for quite a while in the Onion, rehydrading, enjoying my salad, and thinking about good times I'd had when I last lived in Spokane over thirty-five years ago. I remembered my first visits to the Onion, dinners just around the corner at the St. Regis restaurant, downtown record stores, the Inland Bookstore, the many concerts I attended at the Opera house, the walks I used to take through the skywalks, the (for me) grandeur of the Crescent department store and the Bon Marche, and all those movies at the Magic Lantern. Of course, the downtown Spokane living in my sweet memories is gone. I accept that. I found myself hoping that I'll come back to Spokane more often and come to enjoy the current eateries and taphouses, the music venues I've never been to, and go to a movie or two at the Magic Lantern in its new location.

3. Rehydrated and energized by my long nostalgic ponderings at the Onion, I returned to the Sube and headed out to Spokane Valley where I planned to see about buying some spices at Damas, a Middle Eastern grocer. I got there in no time. From the street, I could see it was empty. A "For Lease" sign streamed across the window. I am going to have to be patient and do more research, looking into other grocers to buy unsual spices -- or, of course, buy spices online. For Christmas (or was it my birthday?), Carol gave me a superb cookbook of vegetarian Middle East recipes. I want to use the spices some of these recipes call for and, ideally, I'd like to smell them before I buy them. For now, unless Penzeys or Silk Road or Amazon can program a click and sniff feature on their websites, I am going to continue to search for brick and mortar establishments that might carry these spices.  (Eventually, I'll surrender, and buy online, but not right away!)

Leaving Spokane, I continued to listen to the cd, Dear Jerry: A Celebration of Jerry Garcia. It features performances by a variety of artists paying tribute to Jerry Garcia by covering a variety of Grateful Dead tunes. When this concert happened, on May 14, 2015, I lived only twenty miles away from where it took place, in Columbia, MD. I just looked it up on my blog. That night, I cooked dinner for Debbie, Molly, Olivia, David, and me and, the next day, Debbie and I drove up to Nyack, NY to see Adrienne and Jack. I loved that trip. I always loved fixing food in Greenbelt. But, I'm a little ticked off at myself that I didn't even know this concert was happening in Columbia and now, listening to this cd, I realize I missed an epic show.

Listening to Los Lobos, O.A.R., moe., Widespread Panic, and others filled me with road joy before I made a couple of stops in CdA to buy grains, tofu, and other groceries at Pilgrim's and Costco. At Pilgrim's, I had a wonderful conversation with MaryKay Hanson and learned that she is recovering splendidly from knee replacement surgery and that I might see her at St. Luke's at the 10:30 service.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/19: This and That in CdA, Acoustic Music Jam, Great Night at the Lounge

1. I hopped into the Sube and soared to CdA today. I got a haircut, enjoyed a plate of Mahi-Mahi and chips at the Fisherman's Market, bought some new underwear at Kohl's, and bought about a half a dozen or so used cd's at Longear Music -- Bob Dylan, an album of dobro music, a bluegrass collection, and a variety of artists doing Jerry Garcia songs.

2. The Silver Lake Mall is close to dead. I walked in around 4:45 and went to the one food vendor and ordered a pop and hoped that I was correct that a Friday evening bluegrass jam would be getting underway soon. Sure enough, one by one, musicians with guitar cases began to file in and I wandered down to the open area outside J. C. Penney, right by Harry Ritchie's Jewlers, and audience chairs were in place and chairs were in a three sided rectangle, beginning to fill with players:  several played guitar, one man had a banjo, one played harmonica (harp), one man was the jam's upright bassist, and at least one woman played the ukulele.

How perfect. The mall is nearly dead. It's quiet. This open area near JC Penney is a great space to fill with songs. The sound system was all set up and eventually one singer/player or one group of players and singer came up the mike and I stayed for a couple of hours and listened to country, gospel, and a little folk music. The harmonica guy played "Danny Boy". One woman sang John Prine's "Paradise". Another quartet sang about how the world needs a lot more Jesus and a lot less rock 'n roll.  I heard "Blue Bayou", "A Workin' Man Can't Get Nowhere Today", and "Tennessee Waltz". Not a single young person played. Everyone was middle aged or older. One guy was a haunting yodeler. No matter whether the singers were polished, slightly off tune, strong-voiced, or faint, the jam's energy was generous. Many of the songs moved me to tears. I was very happy that checked out this jam. The songs continued in my head in the car and carried me back home to Kellogg.

3. I spent the rest of the evening at the Inland Lounge. I had a lot of fun yakkin' with different people: Rick Jacobs, Harley, Nathan, Becky, and, at one point, Glen G. who brought me greetings from Merle Buhl. Glen and I talked a bunch about what a great guy Merle was to work with and Glen told me what a cherished friend Merle is for him and has been over the last 55-60 years. As the place emptied out, Cas and Tracy played superb music on the house sound system: Leon Russell, The Tragically Hip, Bob Dylan, Little Feat, and more. Both Cas and Tracy told me about the night they saw Leon Russell in Spokane, not long before he died, and how elated they were by his performance. It was a great night full of great stories, conversation, and music.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/19: Hiking to Vergobbi Gulch, Shawn!, Walking to Yoke's

1. Back in the first week of June, Byrdman and I hiked the trail beyond the picnic table at the conclusion of the Health and Wellness trail and as the trail steepened, I was in such poor physical condition, I had to lie down on the trail to recover as I gasped for air and as my heart raced.

Today, I decided to try that trail on my own and get a sense of the state of my stamina.

I've improved. I stopped four or five times on the steep part of the trail and counted out fifteen exhales and then continued. When I reached the end of the steepness, I took a slightly longer rest, but I didn't lie down, I wasn't desperately gasping for air, and as I hiked on the old road leading to Vergobbi Gulch, I was much more comfortable than I was back on June 6th with Byrdman, Sebi, and Pip.

2. As I emerged out of Vergobbi Gulch and strolled down Hill Street, I saw Shawn working on the porch of a house. I haven't seen Shawn for a while.  I stopped and we had fun yakkin' for a while and made some tentative plans to get together before too long.

3.  After I ate a late breakfast and rested my legs for a while, I decided to walk some more. I strapped on my backpack and headed to Yoke's to buy a handful of items. It was a little bit warm out, but I thought it might be good for me to see if I could build up a little bit more tolerance to the sun. I returned home and my pedometer showed that, for the day, I had walked just over 9700 steps. I know, however, that because my stride is shorter on the steep parts of the trail both going up and down, that the pedometer doesn't record those steps. In other words, I'm sure I walked well over 10,000 steps today and racked up over five miles of hiking and walking.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/19: Hiking Speed, *Green Book*, Hot Shrimp Dinner

1. After having taken a more ambitious hike yesterday, today I returned to my routine hike on the trail behind the hospital. On this hike today, I got a little ahead of myself early on and established a little too quick of a pace -- I was excited that I'd had a good day yesterday on the Pulaski trail, momentarily forgetting that I had hiked that trail at a slow to moderate speed. Today, I slowed myself down after I reached the first bench and I had a much better hike at the slightly slower speed.

Almost every day on this trail, I encounter a fit middle aged woman. Usually, she is just starting up the trail when I am nearing the end of my hike back down. Today, however, we met higher up on the trail as I was coming down. Soon, as I continued my descent, I could hear her behind me and I stepped aside to let her go by. I realized that, unlike me, she had not taken a rest stop at the picnic table at the trail's viewpoint. I fought off the urge to compare my fitness to hers. I'd done the same thing yesterday when a young man was running up the Pulaski trail. Comparing myself to these other trail users is toxic. Happily, I quickly got my mind right again. I'm not in good enough shape to be hiking these trails briskly. I am improving my stamina each time I hike, no matter what my speed or how often I rest. By hiking at a slower rate, especially when I hike solo, I'm not holding anyone up. Quickly getting my head back on straight enhanced my enjoyment of today's hike significantly.

2. Recently, both Dan Armstrong and Cas have asked me if I'd seen the movie Green Book, and, until today, I hadn't. I don't care much any longer who wins Academy Awards. I don't watch movies thinking about whether they are potentially award winning. I do, however, read reactions to the awards. As I paid my rental fee for Green Book today and prepared to watch it, I was keenly aware of many viewers' and commentators' criticisms of the movie. Not having seen the movie, yet, the criticism made a lot of sense to me and I didn't know what I would experience watching the movie.

I didn't expect the movie to feel so old-fashioned to me. Yes, I realized the movie's story was set in 1962, and, as the movie progressed, I felt like I was watching a movie from the 1930s or 1940s. I enjoy a lot of those movies and I gave in to my enjoyment of Green Book. Somehow, as I got more absorbed in the movie, I gave myself over to what was feeling more and more like a Frank Capra movie, especially because I knew, in the back of my mind, that Doctor Don Shirley and Tony Lipp wanted to return home from their trip by Christmas. I began to anticipate that possibly this movie was going to move toward some kind of Christmas miracle. There's a scene late in the movie involving a flat tire and when it played out the way it did, I really felt like the movie had moved into what I'll call Capra Land and its conclusion confirmed this.

I hadn't expected Green Book to be a comedy in the classical sense. We tend to think of comedies as movies made for laughs, but, in the long history of the comedy genre, comedies were stories that explored the affirmation and power of community, the vitality of rebirth, the beauty of unity, the leaving of home and returning again, changed, and the mysteries of spiritual transformation. For years, I've regarded comedies as stories that don't look at life so much the way it is, but that give form to our wishes and dreams, that bring possibilities to life. In the end, I experienced Green Book as movie portraying transformations, the overcoming of cruelty, and a kind of communal harmony in ways that might be wished for or dreamed of, not in ways that necessarily actually happen (or have happened).

For whatever it's worth, I read the criticisms of this movie and I understand them. I understand that those who found this movie distasteful and naive were put off by a feel good movie being made from a story about about two men, one black and the other white, on a road trip.

I admit, though, that for years I've been emotionally moved by old-fashioned movies, Christmas movies, movies that play out the wishes and dreams I have of goodness, mutuality, reconciliation, togetherness, and the communal joy of feasting and celebration.

So as I became absorbed in this movie, I was moved by it.

Later, I revisited the criticisms, took the questions the critics raised seriously, and gave them a lot of thought and I've learned a lot from what I've read. 

I can't really reconcile my emotional experience with the movie and these negative responses to it. These opposing responses co-exist in me and represent tension I live with a lot -- about many things.

3.  While watching Green Book, I suddenly felt an urge to fix hot shrimp. I'd fixed rice earlier in the day and fried a block of tofu. An eggplant sat in the fridge ready to be cooked up. So, I wondered, how about if I melted some butter, added Frank's Hot Sauce, poured it over about a dozen shrimp or so, mixed the hot shrimp with sauteed eggplant bits and the tofu, and served it over rice?

I think it worked.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/19: Anniversary Hike on the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, Recuperation, Fun with Kirk Gibson

1. I just looked it up.

It was forty-six years ago today that I was hospitalized after I fell inside a Zinc Plant roaster, inhaled a nearly fatal amount of sulfur dioxide gas and toxic mineral dust. On July 24, Dale Costa transported me to Coeur d'Alene where an eye surgeon removed the damaged/burnt tissue from my eyes and, unable to see for several days, I was admitted to the hospital in CdA.

At the time, no one knew how my respiratory system or my eyes would recover from the exposure I suffered.

I did recover.

Today, forty-six years later, not really thinking about this anniversary, but wondering if today was the day while I as on the trail, I had my strongest day of hiking in the last two months.

I arrived at the start of the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, barely a mile south of Wallace, on the Moon Pass Road, about 8:15. I don't think the temperature had even reached sixty degrees yet. The sun still hid behind the steep hills and, invigorated by the bracing cool air, I was off.

Ever since moving back to Kellogg, I've been wanting to find a hiking trail that runs near a creek, hikes similar to my favorite hiking trails in Oregon, the Sweet Creek Falls and Brice Creek trails.

Today I discovered the Pulaski Tunnel Trail is exactly what I'd been longing for as it winds its way along and above and, few times, over the West Fork of Placer Creek.

It's a two mile hike to a viewpoint overlooking the mine tunnel Ed Pulaski harbored a crew of firefighters during the Big Burn in 1910 and the trail includes a series of informative signs about the fire and Ed Pulaski's heroism.

I have never felt stronger hiking uphill than I did today. Granted, I stopped several times to rest, but even when I hiked the steepest part of the the trail -- the last half mile -- I wasn't desperately gasping for air the way I did when Byrdman and I scaled a steep section beyond the picnic table on the hospital trail nor the way I did when Byrdman and I hiked the Revett Lake Trail back on June 29th.

In fact, I didn't realize that, for me, the trail was fairly steep in parts until I hiked back down the trail and I realized that my legs and heart had been stronger and my wind had been better than at any point this summer.

Not only did I enjoy my physical condition being a bit better, I also enjoyed the relaxing rush and gurgling of Placer Creek, the several small waterfalls cascading over rocks and logs, the variety of trees shading most of the trail, and the wildflowers that popped into view from time to time.

I now know that when I return to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, I must arrive even earlier in the morning, spend even more time in the cool air, hike the trail more slowly, and take pictures. It will be challenging to snap good compositions, I think, because the foliage on this trail is thick, but I'm ready to give it a try.

2. Back home, I realized that I'd racked up nearly 10,000 steps on the Pulaski Tunnel Trail (I would go over 10,000 steps just walking around the house). I needed some time recuperate and enjoyed some seltzer water, a bowl of leftover rice salad, and, before long, I took a nap. I wasn't crapped out, but the fatigue I felt was sweet fatigue and I enjoyed a short deep sleep when I lay down.

3. The best part of watching the Phillies and Tigers slog through fifteen innings of baseball before the Phillies finally prevailed 3-2. I had a great time watching this game. I used to be an avid Detroit Tigers fan (I even belonged to the Save Tiger Stadium Fan Club back in the early 90s!), but I haven't paid much attention to them in recent years and this evening I got more familiar with their struggling team. But, most of all, I enjoyed the fun Kirk Gibson was having. He's a Tiger broadcaster now and during the game he went out into the concession area and interviewed fans and gave away goofy prizes.

Gibson is suffering from the slow deterioration of Parkinson's disease. It's apparent in his movement and in his deliberate speech patterns. Parkinson's has not, however, diminished Gibson's warmth, his enjoyment of the fans in the ball park, nor his sense of humor. He was not only funny with the fans, but he had a good time getting in some good-natured jabs at this former teammate and fellow broadcaster, Jack Morris. At times, the game was secondary to the fun Gibson, Morris, and the Tigers' play-by-play guy, Matt Shepherd were having as they broadcast this game from the right field bleacher area rather than their usual perch above home plate, putting them in close proximity to fans in that part of the park.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/19: Good Hike, Sewer Work Arranged, Salmon Rice Salad and a Triple Play

1. I returned to the trail above the hospital today. It was a very good hike. I stopped a couple of times to let my heart beat slow down and to get my breath back, but I didn't sit down. I don't think I'm much stronger than a week ago, but stronger than, say, three weeks ago. I was grateful that the air was cool and that I hiked under a cloud cover.

2. Today I made the arrangements necessary for the work on our sewer line to begin on July 31st and, most likely, to be finished the next day.

3. I was watching the Red Sox and the Rays play when I left the game long enough to heat up a salmon patty, crumble it, and combine it with leftover rice salad from last night. I added a dollop of Bitchin' Sauce and enjoyed a side of pita bread and hummus. This dinner was fantastic -- all that olive oil and lemon, garlic and cilantro; and all those olives and tomatoes. While I stepped away from the baseball game, the Red Sox exploded for three homers and seven runs in the top of the third and I missed it, but I didn't leave ESPN's broadcast just because a blowout was underway. I enjoyed different things the broadcasters, especially Dave Fleming and Tim Kurkjian, discussed during the game and I got to see Edwin Encarnacion hitting into a 5-4-3 triple play against the Twins replayed several times. It was awesome.