Thursday, January 31, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/30/19: Hall of Fame Friends, High School Tournament Programs, Johnnies and a Pork Roast

1. Several friends helped me today with words of reassurance and helped me get a better perspective on my missed lay up to open the January of 1972 basketball game between Wallace and Kellogg -- a game we lost 83-67. I'll just say that it's bewildering to me how that one moment from a basketball game forty-five years ago had grown so huge in my mind and how much the sight of my lay-in spinning out of the hoop has punishingly flashed forward into my consciousness.

To a person, each teammate I heard from doesn't remember that game's opening 10 seconds. No one remembers my missed lay-in. And, I'm relieved to say, no one thinks that my miss set the doom in motion that our team experienced that night.

I'm glad I fessed up and wrote about the haunting I've experienced all these years and that today my friends and I worked together to strip that memory of its dark power. As Byrdman put it, "This is what Hall of Fame friends are for."


2. I'm back in touch with Little League foe and Little League All-Star teammate, Hugh Crozier, after fifty-three years of no contact between us. After reading about the January 1972 Wallace-Kellogg game, he wrote to me about basketball and his high school experience. Hugh wasn't a member of the Hazen Highlanders team when they finished second to the Richland Bombers in the Washington State AAA championship tournament. After he told me this, I did a little clicking around and found a great website called Tacoma Sports Museum, here. At that site, I found the program for the State Tournament Hugh wrote about. It's here. I also enjoyed looking at the 1970 program, mainly because University High, which had two former Kellogg kids on its team, Craig Lenhart and Joe Bascetta, was a part of that state tournament. It's here. If you'd like to see a list of all the high school programs at this site, just click here.

3. It was a pleasure to see the St. John's University Red Storm fire three point shots from east, west, north, and south, make a ton of them, and play harassing defense on their way to an 83-67 win over Creighton to snap a three game skid. When this game took time out breaks and at halftime, I braised a pork roast, experimenting with making a lemony marinade and then a lemony braise. I'll know better on Thursday how it worked out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/29/19: Basketball Guilt Lifted, Medicine Challenge, Photo Walk Up the River

1. Back to Monday night's Kellogg vs Wallace basketball game.

I have probably written about this before, but it's one of those events in my life that is on eternal rewind and, of course, it came back to me as I took my seat twelve rows up, near where Dad used to sit when he could (or would) come to our basketball games.

It was January of 1972. If I remember correctly, the weekend before, at home, we Kellogg Wildcats had defeated both Lewiston and Clarkston on consecutive nights and the sportswriters of the state of Idaho had ranked us sixth in the state. Coming off these great Friday and Saturday night wins, we played Wallace the following Friday night.

A ton of people from both towns came to the game. Both Kellogg's and Wallace's pep bands played, making it not only a battle for basketball supremacy in Shoshone County, but a battle of the bands as well.

One of our best players, John Hinkemeyer, was injured (I remember it was a sprained ankle) and so a spot on the starting five was open. To this day, I don't understand why our coach not only named me to start in Hinkemeyer's place, but also named me captain of the team that night. I was not the first forward off the bench. My playing time had been on the decline. I was not in good game playing condition.

Moreover, and I could never admit this in high school, I was a very excitable player and my nerves and adrenaline overpowered any calmness I might have on the court. I played with tunnel vision. I often played out of control. And, here it was, 1972, my senior year, and I still thought that I could do what I did when I was the leading scorer on the freshman team: pop and drop uncontested fifteen foot jumpers from along the baseline against zone defenses. Even though I didn't play much in high school, when I did, I still thought I could be the guy I'd been back in 1968-69. I never put it together that I hadn't grown in height since the 9th grade, my skill hadn't grown much, and the varsity game moved more quickly and defenses were tighter.

Naming me a starter and team captain was a disaster.

Here's what will haunt me forever: Kellogg won the game's opening jump ball and the tip went to Lars. I excitedly streaked to our basket, Lars saw me, fed me perfectly, and I laid up an adrenaline fueled cripple that I shot too strongly and the ball spun out of the basket. I blew our team's opening shot and it was an uncontested lay in. When our coach called an early time out, in the huddle he barked, "Well, Woolum, You got us off to a great start."

In my mind, looking back, my missed lay in set the tone for what became a nightmare game as Wallace pounced on us early and we lost. I don't remember the score.

Today, I was messaging back and forth with Stu about our 1971-72 team and Wallace's 71-72 team. Stu said, as we exchanged our evaluations of each team, "Well it's all in the hazy past now!" I replied that my missed lay up to open the game would always be sharp in my memory.

Stu told me he didn't remember my missed shot.

I thought, "What!? I thought everyone remembered it and blamed me for that night's loss."

Stu also told me that he doubts anyone else remembers it and no one else cares that I missed that lay in.

Suddenly, I was about fifty pounds lighter.

The guilt I've felt all these years about that missed lay up won't dissolve instantly, but, Stu helped set me free of it, helped deliver me from the effects of a demonic memory that has haunted me for forty-seven years. I've replayed that missed lay in in my mind thousands of times. I've imagined that shot dropping, the gym exploding with cheers (instead of groans), and I've imagined my phantom successful lay up energizing our team, catapulting us to a great start in that game instead of the lousy one we had.

My, oh, my.

Stu doubts anyone remembers how that game opened, doubts anyone blames me for that loss.

Sounds like it's time for me to join my teammates and stop blaming myself and let that awful memory dissolve.

Oh. By the way, our squad might have lost that basketball game, but Kellogg's pep band creamed Wallace. No band rocked a gym like Kellogg's pep band playing Chase's "Get it On". Remember that song? If not, it's right here.

2. I was prescribed anitbiotic eyedrops in anticipation of this Monday's cataract surgery. I received a letter yesterday from the insurance company telling me that it doesn't cover this medication, but that I could initiate a review process. So I did. This morning. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

3. I spent a good chunk of time this afternoon driving, first to Cataldo and then I backtracked and drove on the Old River Road outside of Enaville. In a wide place, I parked the Sube and walked back to the one lane silver bridge and took a series of pictures coming and going up and down the road. I didn't get a ton of steps in, but I had fun taking pictures. You can see seven of them below. I returned to the Sube and drove up as far as the Country Lane River Resort, scouted future photography possibilities, turned around, and returned home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/28/19: Walking All Over Kellogg, I Invented a Soup, Scrappy Kellogg Defeats Smooth Wallace

1. I strapped on my back pack around 11 a.m. and set out to walk the streets of Kellogg. I had overpaid a medical bill and was headed uptown to cash it at the bank. On the way, I stopped in at The Bean for a cinnamon raisin bagel and an Americano with steamed milk. I walked on the Trail of the CdAs a short distance to a place near the lumber company where the trail heads uphill and goes up behind the YMCA building. I got my cash at the bank and headed back down that trail and across Hill Street to Yoke's and bought milk. From Yoke's, I walked out to the end of E. Cameron and picked up medicine for Charly from the vet. On the way, I stopped at the Broken Wheel and could see that the last row, the Sunday row of hours, on the hours of operation decal had been scratched off. The Broken Wheel used to be open on Sunday, but no longer is. By the time I reached home, I had racked up over 8000 steps (about four miles).

2. Once home, I pondered the contents of the refrigerator and decided I could make a pureed soup based on the carrot ginger recipe I've made twice recently. On hand, I had onions, mushrooms, a carrot, a half of an eggplant, and milk. I dropped a chunk of butter in the Dutch oven and sauteed chopped onions, mushrooms, and eggplant. When tender, I poured some homemade chicken stock over these things, added the chopped carrot, and brought the stock to a boil, turned it way down, and cooked the carrot pieces until they were soft enough to puree. I pureed this mixture, returned it to the Dutch oven, added milk, and the result was a most enjoyable and warming cream of what I had on hand soup.

3. Last Wednesday's scheduled boys basketball face off between the Kellogg Wildcats and the Wallace Miners was postponed due to snow and rescheduled for tonight. I had wanted to see them play last Wednesday, but decided to go to Corby's where a bunch of my longtime friends were getting together, so I was happy that I could see them play this evening.

I walked to the high school (and back -- so that by the time I got home, I had accumulated 11,450 steps today or about five and half miles).

I saw Bucky up at the top of the grandstands, so climbed up and joined him.  The junior varsity teams were in the second half of their game. Kellogg won handily.

When the two varsity teams took the floor to warm up, in front of a maybe half full Andrews Gymnasium crowd, my insides sunk. Wallace's players looked smooth and self-assured. Their warm up jerseys had their names on the back and they wore fancy striped warm up pants. During warm ups, I zeroed in on two Wallace players because I had heard were studs: Zack Welch and Erik Brackebush. Zack Welsh's shooting range was incredible. In warm ups he was effortlessly dropping shots from at least twenty-five, if not thirty feet out. Brackebush was also a sharp shooter in warm ups.

Back in December, Wallace twice defeated Kellogg, 55-48 and then, oh my!, 54-32.

My hopes for Kellogg were not high.

I underestimated the Wildcats' fight. If Wallace started this game looking a bit smug, soon those smug looks were frustrated ones, even annoyed ones, as Kellogg employed a swarming, three quarter court pressing defense, and disrupted the Miners. I don't know what the Miners' style of play usually is, but Kellogg's defense, the way they forced Wallace turnovers, and the way they glued themselves to Wallace's shooters turned the game into a helter skelter tilt which the Wildcats thrived on.

Wallace's Zack Welch never really got untracked. Those shots he so effortless dropped in warm ups didn't fall during the game. Erik Brackebush, however, did get hot, but Kellogg continued to pester Wallace into handling the ball carelessly, throwing passes away, and missing shots.

I'd have to see the box score to know who led Kellogg in scoring. I really don't know. At some crucial junctures in the game, Kellogg got some clutch scoring from Graden Nearing and, late in the game, two daggers from Raiden Ricketts. What I enjoyed most was how Kellogg found open players inside thanks to screens down low away from the ball, neutralizing Wallace's size advantage. Yes, there were plenty of times when Wallace batted away Kellogg's passes inside or intercepted them, but the Wildcats stayed the course, didn't get discouraged, and in the second half scored some easy baskets by running their offensive sets.

All game long, I thought Kellogg would run out of gas, but Coach Nearing kept running different players in and out of the game and Kellogg didn't suffer when starters rested for a while. The players from the bench, particularly Tyrel Davis, were committed to creating mayhem and, in the end, it might have been Wallace who was worn out, not the Wildcats.

It was a night of players diving to the floor, rebounds being hotly contested, several tie ups, shoulders lowered, elbows flying, and Wildcat hands swiping at Wallace dribblers and batting balls out of passing lanes. As the game wound down and Kellogg began the inevitable parade to the free throw line, the 'Cats made their free throw, maintained a double digit advantage, and won the game 70-58.

The two times I'd seen Kellogg play earlier this season, they played much superior teams, Shadle Park (from Spokane) and Moscow. It was fun to see them play a team that was not far superior to them, but, I think, on most nights, a better team than Kellogg. But, not tonight. I don't believe in the saying "the better team lost tonight". Tonight, Kellogg was the better team, the more determined team, the more emotional team, the team with the most fight.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/27/19: Stirring Worship at St. Luke's, Charly's Comfort (and My Peace of Mind), Family Dinner at Radio

1. I soared over the 4th of July Pass this morning and arrived at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene about ten minutes or so before this morning's Eucharist began and that was plenty of time to get myself centered, quieted down after driving, and ready to worship.

Today was the Third Sunday After Epiphany and the Scripture readings for today were as stirring a set of passages as I've ever experienced: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; and Luke 4:14-21.

For me, the most compelling passages of Scripture and the most inspiring teachings of other world religions, like Buddhism and Daoism, are those that further the truth of interdependence, of interdependence between humans and the natural world and of the interdependence that binds us as people to one another. These passages never hold up the rich, powerful, and respectful as superior to the poor, the needy, or the less honorable. These passages, and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 is one of the best, do not stress our independence or our individuality, but rather our need for one another. In the passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul discusses this interdependence by using the metaphor of the body of Christ and describes relationships between its members that finds unity in our differences and, in fact, describes sameness as absurd. We cannot all be ears. We do not all have the same gifts. We are not all alike in social standing. Some suffer more than others. Paul argues that these differences are indispensable.

If, as I see it, in the realm of truth, everything that rises converges, the teachings of the world's religions, the idea of the social contract, and insights of philosophers, poets, storytellers, and other sources of wisdom rise and converge on this one: we need each other and, contrary to what Paul calls elsewhere "the world" and its thinking, we who have plenty, who are honorable, and who are familiar, need the poor, the inferior, the dishonorable, and the stranger. That's fundamental.

2. Speaking of interdependence, such a relationship exists between me and the corgis, Charly and Maggie. Our mutual sense of ease is largely dependent on how we are doing. Right now, as these dogs move toward their mid-teens (Maggie is nearly fifteen; Charly is closing in on thirteen), my sense of ease is dependent, in part, on how comfortable they are. After church, I returned to Fred Meyer and purchased two more runners and now the hardwood floor in the house where Charly most often walks are about 90% covered with rugs and she is moving more comfortably from room to room because her hind legs are not sliding so much.

I admit, I did not buy this new collection of rugs with interior design in mind. Maybe when family come over, someone with a better eye for this sort of thing than I have can tell me whether certain of these rugs might look better in different places. But, even if my aesthetics were way off, my purpose in laying down these rugs is right on the mark. Charly is moving from place to place in the house with more ease, possibly with less embarrassment, and this gives me and her peace of mind.

3. Christy, Everett, Carol, Paul, and I try to have family dinner three times a month and rotate the hosting responsibilities between ourselves. Sometimes, when we don't fix dinner for each other, we still get together and go out to eat. We haven't done this for several months, but tonight we decided to have dinner at the Broken Wheel.

I hadn't walked much today, so I walked to the Broken Wheel and while I was walking on Riverside in front of what I still think of as Sunnyside School, I got a message from Christy saying the Broken Wheel was closed.

Instant negotiations broke out over cell phones and without fuss, we decided to eat at Radio Brewing. Christy and Everett waited for me to arrive at the darkened Broken Wheel, Christy drove us uptown, and we sat ourselves down at Radio for dinner.

Lively discussion about movies, television programs, the history of the band Queen, and other subjects broke out and continued right up until we left. I ordered a small dinner, two Korean tacos with a simple salad and ice water. I planned to walk home and don't like drinking alcohol if I'm going to walk any distance and, before walking home, I didn't want to have eaten a whole lot.

It turned out to be a pretty good evening for walking -- I racked up over 6000 steps; I walked over three miles; I walked for nearly an hour. Most important, I had a safe walk. I avoided icy places and didn't slip once, nor did I fall.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/26/19: VFW Breakfast, Household Upkeep, Hanging Loose at the Lounge

1. Around 9:00 this morning, Jake and Carol Lee gathered me up and we blazed up to the VFW Hall in Osburn for their last Saturday of the month breakfast. They offered biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, French toast, plain pancakes, huckleberry pancakes, orange juice, and coffee. A good crowd of people, many of them my age and older, many wearing a t-shirt or a baseball cap identifying themselves as veterans, several of the Vietnam War, was in attendance. My biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs were delicious, as was the pancake I ate next. Jake, Carol Lee, and I had a fun time yakkin' about all sorts of things.

2. Back home, I did some cleaning up, finished a couple loads of laundry, and further evaluated the area rug situation and how I might help make the house more comfortable for Charly to walk around in. I tuned into the Kansas-Kentucky basketball game, hoping for an exciting contest, but it turned out to be kind of a ragged game. Kansas is hampered by injuries and so isn't a very deep team anymore. They also had an off night shooting. Consequently, Kentucky rolled to a 71-63 win.

3. Earlier in the afternoon, Stu asked me if I would purchase him an Elks Crab Feed ticket at the Lounge and I told him I'd do it today. And I did. Shortly before six, Ed called and wondered if I might heading up to the Lounge and so we agreed to meet in a little while. Ed strolled in with Al and the three of us had a good time joking around, swapping stories, and talking about how things were going. Al and Ed didn't stay long and after they took off I decided to have dinner at the Lounge and ordered a plate of delicious s  eafood Lo Mein from Wah Hing. I'd had a couple glasses of Rolling Rock and switched to ice water to drink with my meal.

Bird Legs and Gloria came in and gave me a quick rundown on tonight's Kellogg Wildcat losses to Timberlake. It's been a disheartening season. I'm sure Coach Nearing and his assistants are facing a pretty stiff challenge trying to keep the team's morale up and the boys playing hard. I remember how discouraging it was when I played on a couple of particularly lousy Wildcat squads my sophomore and junior years. By the end of those seasons, while I can't speak for my teammates, I know I was numb with discouragement and apathy. Luckily, I couldn't do our team much harm because I was a bench warmer the entire first season and from about January forward in the second. Just for the record, I was a bench warmer almost my entire senior year (one disastrous start against Wallace in a loss at home) and deep apathy took hold when I was suspended after our loss to Wallace at home because I left my warm up jersey in my locker instead of taking it home.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/25/19: Rugs, It's Sliderville and the Beer Mecca, Elks' Burgers and Yakkin' at the Lounge

1. I blasted in the Sube over the hill to Fred Meyer in CdA to shop for some area rugs that I hope will make it easier for Charly to walk in more parts of the house. Charly's hind quarters are starting to fail her. Her hind legs often splay when she walks on the exposed parts of the wood floors. Her legs do fine when she walks on rugs or on the lawn out back or on the carpeting protecting the back porch. So, I picked out four rugs today and put them in strategic spots in the house and, when I go to CdA for church tomorrow, I might buy one or two more.

2. After rug shopping, I rocketed over to Byrdman's house and he drove us down to the place I remember as the Blue Tooth Saloon back in about 1973. Today, it's called The Relic Smokehouse and Pub and features a full menu of smoked/barbecued meats, sandwiches, and other offerings.

For a short period of time, the Old Line Bistro in Beltsville, Maryland offered lamb sliders (not smoked). I loved them. I felt my love awaken when I saw that The Relic had smoked lamb sliders on the menu and I enjoyed them a lot. I might add another nickname to my list of things to call CdA. I already think of it as Beer Mecca and Breakfast Town. After enjoying sliders at Paragon and Paddy's and today at The Relic,  I will now also refer to the Lake City as Sliderville.

I was also very happy that The Relic had one of my favorite beers ever on tap: Firestone Walker's Double Barrel Ale (DBA). It's a beer brewed in the style of an English Pale Ale. It's sweeter than American Pale Ales, more malty, featuring a nuttier, more bready taste, with subtle caramel sweetness. I don't like beer and barbecue at the same time, so I finished my beer before I ate my sliders and enjoyed one more Firestone DBA as an after dinner beer.

Byrdman and I decided to see what was happening at the Filling Station. I loved drinking a little 5 oz. glass of Fremont's Coconut Edition B-Bomb, a bourbon barrel aged winter ale. I then ordered one more tiny beer, a 5 oz glass of Avery's Vanilla Bean Stout, also aged in bourbon barrels. Loved it.

We got in some good yakkin' with Justin, Kingston native Keith Carpenter's son -- the Carpenters own the filling station -- and found out that Keith's dad is Norman Carpenter, also a Silver Valley stalwart. Byrdman and I were pretty sure Norm worked on cell repair in the Zinc Plant Cell Room. I am going to pursue further confirmation of that bit of information.

3. I forgot to pursue that further confirmation later in the evening at the Inland Lounge. Cas was busy with a lot of customers and with a sip and paint party going on in the back room. I'll pursue it soon when Cas has a little more time to shoot the breeze at the bar.

Before waltzing over to the Lounge, I joined Jake, Carol Lee, Bucky, Debbie, their mothers, D.J., and Eileen at a round table for Burger Night at the Elks. The room was packed and I found out later from Harley that tonight the Elks served over 100 burgers, a single night record. I had an awesome time.

Over at the Lounge, I got to see Seth, Abby, and Fitz before I settled into a stool at the bar next to Grebe and we had a good old long session, talking about the decades he owned the bowling alley in Kellogg. The Union Legion Lanes, later known as the Kellogg Bowling Alley, was one of Dad's homes away from home. On a few rare occasions, I used to get to go up and watch him and Mike Turner and George Linney and others bowl for Mogey's team in the Industrial League while June Turner kept score. The lanes shone, the pins exploded, and the bowling area smelled of lane polish, beer yeast, and acrid burnt tobacco from the many cans, bottles, and glasses of Heidelberg, Lucky Lager, Olympia, Hamms, Budweiser, and, at one time, Carling Black Label beer the bowlers chugged and the cigarettes they smoked.

Grebe had a lot of tales to tell about the ups and downs of his business -- it made me nostalgic and I realized that I don't know what the current bowling situation is in the Silver Valley. Are the Morning Club Lanes open in Mullan? Is there any bowling available in Wallace? I know bowling is done for in Kellogg and Smelterville. If you are reading this and know the current bowling situation in the Silver Valley, please let me know what you know.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/24/19: Walking Uptown, Sparty Flexes Their Muscle, Green Curry and a Gale Force Blowout

1. I strapped on my backpack late this morning and trudged on both shoveled and unshoveled sidewalks and trails and dropped off a payment to Avista, picked up my eye drops for my February 4th cataract surgery, made a deposit at Wells Fargo Bank, dropped off and picked up a book at the library, and made my way back to Sunnyside where I bought a bottle of brandy and returned home. I walked over 6000 steps, slightly over three miles -- a most satisfying walk, made even more so by the errands I completed.

2. Back home, I was eager for the Michigan State-Iowa basketball game to commence. For about thirty minutes of basketball time, it was a good contest, but, as the second half progressed, muscular, speedy, and sharp shooting Michigan State imposed its will on Iowa by taking control of the paint, scoring in bunches on fast break points as well as on successful shots from beyond the three point arc, and harassing Iowa's attempts to score three point shots while sealing off the inside. In the end, the Spartans claimed an emphatic victory, 82-67.

3. As Michigan State extended its lead over Iowa, I headed to the kitchen to oven roast pieces of zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant (YES! Yoke's had eggplant this week!), and cabbage. I also made a fairly spicy green curry sauce with a pleasing balance of saltiness and sweetness. I mixed the roasted vegetables and the sauce and served it over jasmine rice and enjoyed my dinner.

Around 8:00, I went over to Christy and Everett's and watched Gonzaga crush Santa Clara, 98-39. (No typo. It was that bad.)  I bade the game and Christy and Everett good night early in the second half. The game's suspense was long gone and I was ready for bed.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/19: Shoveling Snow, Off to Corby's, Old Friends Get Together

1. Overnight and on into the morning until about 11:00, fresh snow blanketed Kellogg. I wanted to get the sidewalks shoveled before Hillary, who delivers our mail, arrived. I succeeded, even though she didn't use our sidewalk leading up to the house. I was shoveling the front sidewalk when she arrived and she handed me one piece of chintzy junk mail. The snow was wet and heavy and shoveling it was a good workout.

2. Once the snow stopped and the skies began to clear some and it warmed up, I figured driving conditions were going to be pretty good when I drove out to the Rose Lake General Store, parked the Sube, and jumped into Jake's pickup. As we rocketed over the 4th of July Pass to Byrdman's house, the roads were clear, just wet. Byrdman piled into the pickup and we were off to Corby's in Post Falls.

3. Terry Bushnell (KHS Class of '71) put the word out that a bunch of guys from the Class of '71 were meeting at Corby's at 5:00 this afternoon. The invitation got extended to guys in other classes, too.  Illness, vacation travel, having to deal with the snow, and other factors kept some guys from coming. But, it was a solid turnout and I had a great time catching up and swapping tales with Terry B., Dave Macri, Craig Burkhart, John Hinkemeyer, Chester Larson, Jake, and Byrdman. We've all lost moms and dads -- I think three mothers are alive; dementia or Alzheimer's has struck at least three family members; I heard about knee and hip replacements, travel, life after retirement, and plans to retire; and I heard stories about long ago friends I had lost touch with and great stories about playing baseball and basketball. I missed a lot over the years by living so many years away from North Idaho, but I love hearing all the softball and rec basketball stories. The guys at this table have been through many difficulties and have also had a lot of fun and good times.  I fell into silence more than once just so I could soak in the stories and feel my admiration swell inside me for these guys I've known for fifty to sixty years.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/22/19: Initial Surgery Prep, Walking for a Blood Draw, Villanova and Renal Friendly Dinner

1. I called the North Idaho Eye Institute and Kim helped get me squared away for what I will need to have ready when I arrive for surgery on Feb. 4, how to prepare for it, what to wear, where to go in the building, when I can drive a car (and can't), and what to expect afterward. I think I understand it all. 

2. I drove the Sube over to the City Park and walked west on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes to just beyond the community garden plots. I walked up the paved trail on the hill that goes from the trail to the back of the Staff House Museum and headed east to the medical clinic. Tracy (the best) drew my monthly vial of blood to send to Baltimore and I walked back down the hill toward Hill Street and north to Yoke's to pick up a few vegetables and a box of Grape Nuts. Christy was also at the store! I packed my few items into my back pack and headed south back to where the car was parked. I didn't walk a ton of steps, but I got in close to 3000 and walked over a mile. It was enough walking, if nothing else, to make me tired and all but guarantee me the deep sleep that is one of my rewards for walking.

3. Back home, I flipped on the Villanova and Butler basketball game and marveled at how much Villanova has improved since I saw them play for the first time this season just twenty days ago. Right now, I can't get enough of watching St. John's, Villanova, Michigan State, and Gonzaga. Villanova defeated Butler, in Indianapolis, 80=72.

After the game, I fixed myself roasted cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, and cauliflower and ate a bowl of leftover carrot and ginger soup. My kidneys thanked me eating such a kidney friendly meal, especially after I gave them an animal protein workout when I ate that juicy mammoth burger yesterday at Country Lane River Resort!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/21/19: Donya at the Country Lane River Resort, LE's Positive Bubble, Cool Ones with Pert

1. Byrdman swung by the house around 11:00 or so this morning and we went on a beer drinking scenic tour up the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. When we closed in on the silver bridge a little past Enaville, Byrdman said, "Let's go on the old road" and so we did. Earlier Byrdman had stated that he wanted to take me to a place I had probably never been to and that I might not know even existed. When we arrived at the turnoff for the Country Lane River Resort, a place up the river I'd heard of, I realized that, in fact, I'd never visited it.

The morning bartender, Donya, was at the entry taking care of something on the door and welcomed us,  saying, "Just pretend I came out here to greet you at the door." I said that I would include that in my Yelp review and we all laughed and Byrdman and I got settled on a stool at the bar and Donya joined us. Before long we learned that Donya is an old friend of the Country Lane Resort's new owner, Amy, and, in turn, a friend of the other new owner, Amy's daughter, LE (pronounced EL-ee).

Donya is a fascinating conversationalist. She has deep ancient family roots in Kellogg, grew up in Portland, has lived in Alaska and Utah and back in Portland again, and was eager to talk with Byrdman and me about political matters once she discovered that the three of us have similar views of things. Most of the regulars who come into the Country Lane Resort see the world differently than Donya, but she's learned -- and I've known this for years in North Idaho -- that the snowmobilers, hunters, river dwellers, anglers, trail groomers, and others who come in are funny, great customers, eager to help others, and all around good people, but she enjoyed the relief today of having two guys close to her age to talk with who have similar worldviews.

2. Byrdman and I each ordered a huge and juicy burger for lunch, served with hand cut fries. Donya had to leave to run errands in Wallace and LE took over at the bar. She's in her mid-twenties. She and her mother moved up the river from near Kalispell where they had rejuvenated a motel located on the way to Glacier National Park and, having found out from LE's dad that this resort was for sale, made an offer, and, once it was accepted, they got another rejuvenation project underway at Country Lane Resort.

LE told us about the many of the ideas she and Amy and Donya are trying out at the resort: football happy hours, live music, a Christmas white elephant party, a visit by Santa with gifts like bicycles and other great things for the children who came, sip and paint evenings led by Donya, and a host of other things. LE is eager to improve the bar's beer offerings (currently the bar has no draft beer) and she's getting involved in the Valley Chamber of Commerce, meeting with Fred from Radio Brewing, and doing other things to help improve the resort and to get herself and the business well-known in the area. The resort is open 365 days a year, starting every day with breakfast at 7:30. I was very impressed with LE's energy, enthusiasm, imagination, and eagerness to work hard.

And, she loves North Idaho, referring to it as her "positive bubble". As she put it, "We do all we can to keep things positive here" and Byrdman and I had an awesome time eating lunch and drinking a few beers in LE and Donya's postive bubble.

3. Our original plan had been to drive up to Pritchard and Murray and to go over Dobson Pass and come back to Kellogg via Wallace. But, that plan had not included stopping at, and not wanting to leave, the classic rock music playing at our request, the great food and beer (and I had a shot of Hennessy Black cognac), and the invigorating conversation at the Country Lane River Resort.

Whether it's at the Inland Lounge, Pine Creek Tavern, Pritchard Tavern, Sprag Pole, Corby's, One Shot Charlie's, Joe's Bar, Midway, White Horse Saloon, or anywhere else in Shoshone, Kootenai, Bonner, or Benewah County, riding or driving in beautiful rural North Idaho, soaking in the glorious vistas, stopping at an everyday bar, drinking a few day time beers, eating some solid everyday food, and getting in some solid yakkin' gives me a pleasure that extends back to spending daytime hours in bars from Dick and Floyd's in Kellogg to Dixie's in Tangent, Oregon with Dad (Pert), enjoying a few cool ones and drumming up some excellent conversation.

So, Byrdman and I didn't travel beyond the Country Lane River Resort. We headed back to Kellogg. Byrdman dropped me off at home in time to watch Maryland play Michigan State, a game I'd been looking forward to and hoped might be a tight one. It wasn't. The Spartans were stronger, quicker, and more experienced than the young Terrapins and coasted to 69-54 win. The second game I watched was a nailbiter as Creighton snapped a four game losing skein and topped Georgetown, 91-87.

The River. An honest bar. Delicious food. Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac. Superb yakkin. Splendid college basketball. Pretty good day, I'd say.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/20/19: No Church and Dinner Prep, Fixing the Cross Rib Roast Dinner, Delightful Family Dinner

1. I realized this morning that unless I do more careful planning that I had this weekend, when it's my turn to host family dinner, I can't go to Coeur d'Alene for church. I'm glad I figured this out. My hope is that when my turn comes up again on February 24th, I will do some things on Saturday the 23rd to get dinner ready and get the house spruced up for hosting.

So, to my dismay, I didn't go to St. Luke's this morning. Instead, I did some reading about how to prepare a cross rib roast. The cross rib is a shoulder cut. Sinews go through it, meaning that it's best roasted slowly at a low heat in a moist environment. I decided to prepare it in the crock pot. I don't think I'd ever prepared a family dinner using the crock pot before.

2. I cut up onion, carrots, celery, and cauliflower and put them in the bottom of the crock pot. In a bowl, I combined sea salt, thyme, oregano, and some Montreal seasoning and rubbed it into the roast. I cut some slits in the roast and inserted crescents of garlic. I didn't have any beef stock or beef bouillon on hand to pour over the roast, but I had plenty of pork stock and figured it would work fine. (It did.) The roast needed anywhere from 6-8 hours to cook with the crock pot set on low. I put the roast in at 10 o'clock. Bingo!

I don't like the vegetables to get soggy. Every so often through the day I checked them and around 3 o'clock I removed them from the crock pot, put them in a pot with a lid on it. I returned them to the crock pot at about 5:15 or 5:30 to warm up, hoping they wouldn't cook much more.

Early in the afternoon, I made a batch of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal Muffins and gave them plenty of time to cool before dinner. I also made the Ginger Carrot soup I had tried earlier in the week. In making the soup, the first step is to saute chopped onions in butter and then add carrots, ginger, and chicken broth, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer until the carrots get tender enough to be pureed in the blender. I had leftover cauliflower -- not every floret of the head I had on hand went into the crock pot -- and so I added cauliflower to the mix. I also didn't have quite as much chicken broth on hand as the recipe called for, but I had a cup or so of pork stock left over and figured it would work fine. (It did.) When I made this soup for myself, I used whole milk, but today I followed the recipe and used whipping cream and the soup was even richer than before.

3.  Everett didn't feel well this evening and stayed home, but, at 6 o'clock, Christy, Carol, and Paul arrived. Maybe for the first time since we began doing family dinners, I had the table set and the food prepared when everyone arrived. Carol and Paul had given me a bottle of 14 Hands Rose wine for my birthday, so I had it chilled, open, and ready to pour before dinner as everyone sat down in the living room.

We had plenty to talk about tonight, with topics ranging from books to Briggs Meyer to food and recipes to Kellogg Wildcat basketball to all kinds of other things. Christy kept us posted on the Chiefs/Patriots score. Our entire evening was accompanied by a recording of Tommy Emmanuel masterfully playing guitar. As I was clearing the table, Christy noticed that I had a bottle of Amaretto on a kitchen counter and wondered if I'd serve it as a nightcap. I hadn't thought that anyone would want straight Amaretto, but Christy, Carol, and Paul all did and I served them a nightcap on the rocks. I heated up some water and enjoyed a cup of dark rum with boiling water -- a hot buttered rum without the butter! For several years now, in the winter, I've enjoyed drinking either brandy or rum with boiling water and it hit the spot again tonight.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/19/19: The Undefeated Fall, Zags Win a Ho Hummer, Update from New York

1. I watched two undefeated college basketball team lose today as Wisconsin bested Michigan, 64-54 and Duke outlasted Virginia, 72-70. Now every team in Division I men's college basketball has been beaten at least once. I first started closely following college basketball back in about 1967 and from that time forward, until 1975, UCLA was the dominant program, winning all but one national title -- North Carolina State won it in 1974. Then, in 1976, Indiana won the national championship and was the last team to go undefeated.

I've been watching more college basketball in the last month or so than I ever have. It's fun to watch so many games where the outcome is not a foregone conclusion (unlike in the UCLA glory days). Every time I turn on the television, I see a score that makes me say, "Whoa! Are you kidding me?" For example, West Virginia had not won a conference game yet. Today they hosted the powerhouse Kansas Jayhawks. West Virginia defeated Kansas, 65-64. Byrdman texted me that this had happened and I nearly came out of my skin. I swear, every day in college basketball right now is as exciting as the early rounds of the March NCAA tournament with close games, upsets, and thrilling victories. Sometimes the games hurt. Like today. St. John's lost to Butler, 80-71. I'm going to emotionally stick with the Johnnies, but, some nights, it will be painful.

2. Out here in the west, in ZagLand, once again there was no suspense. I went over to Christy and Everett's and watched Gonzaga easily defeat the University of Portland, 89-66. It's not just the wide margin of victory that makes a game like this less enjoyable, but I thought the Zags seemed bored by their opponent and not very interested in this game. Maybe I was projecting some of my own boredom onto them! I don't know. It's fun to watch these games with Christy and Everett, though. I'll say it again: I wish the Zags faced better teams in their conference.

3. I received an email today that made me very happy. Adrienne wrote to me about many of the things that have been happening in hers, Josh's, and Jack's life since the wedding in August. Josh and Adrienne have seen several theater productions and concerts in NYC. Adrienne's been reading great books. Jack is doing amazingly well in school and has a life full of activities in sports and the arts. Josh keeps diving deeper into the world of craft beers. It's uplifting to hear so much good news about how they are doing and to find out that Molly and her children are visiting Adrienne's family this weekend in Valley Cottage, New York.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/18/19: Emails and Carrot Ginger Soup, Moscow Stomps Kellogg, Nightcap at the Lounge

1. After a hearty breakfast with Ed, Buff, and Scott B (Jerry had to shovel snow on the east end of the Silver Valley) at Sam's, I returned home and finished writing my blog and, as the day continued, wrote a couple of long emails updating Adrienne, Molly, and Patrick about what's been happening over the last several months with my kidney situation and other related matters.

In between writing those emails, I made a carrot ginger soup. It's one of many low potassium, kidney friendly recipes I've collected over the last few weeks. All I had to do was saute onion in butter and then add a bunch of sliced carrots, chicken broth, and minced ginger to the pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and turn down the heat and cook the carrots until tender. I let it cool and then poured this mixture in a couple or three batches in the blender, returned it to the Dutch oven, and added whole milk (the recipe called for cream and didn't have any) and heated in back up.  I loved the result. I love ginger and it complimented the sweetness of the carrots beautifully and the milk made the soup rich and creamy. It's a recipe I'll return to often.

2. At breakfast, I mentioned to Ed that I was strongly considering going to the high school to watch the Wildcats boys varsity basketball game against Moscow. Ed called me about an hour before the game and said we'd be a little late, but that he'd pick me up. Earlier this season, I watched the Wildcats get pasted by Shadle Park and it brought back memories of the Wildcats team I played on in 69-70 getting similarly whacked by Shadle. Tonight, I had flashbacks of lopsided losses the Wildcat teams I suited up for suffered at the hands of the Moscow Bears. In February of 1972, my teammates nearly defeated Moscow in the district tournament (I rode the bench for the entire game, appropriately), but that was the exception to the rule. Moscow usually owned us. Tonight, Moscow owned Kellogg, just like when I was on the team, and the only reason the 64-34 margin wasn't wider was because of the Idaho mercy rule: the game clock didn't stop in the fourth quarter once Moscow had a thirty point lead.

Moscow has a 6' 4" sharp shooter named Gabe Quinnett. The name Quinnett sounded very familiar to me and the Moscow coaching staff had a very tall guy on it, also named Quinnett. Once home, I did some crack research and it all came back to me. Gabe Quinnett's father is former Cheney High School star and Washington State standout Brian Quinnett. It's been thirty years since he was a Cougar. Brian Quinnett also played about three years in the NBA.

3. After the game, Ed and I went up to the Inland Lounge. I drank a couple of beers, Ed and I yakked with Cas a bit about baseball -- with special emphasis on former Red Sox great Dwight Evans, who had family in Rose Lake, Idaho -- and soon we piled into Ed's Camry, leaving the laughter and classic rock music of the Lounge behind, and I was ready to hit the sack.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/17/19: An 80 Year Old Man, Hot Lunch Memories, Snow Off the Dish and Zags Win

1. I figured when the doctor told me I have the cataracts of an eighty year old man, I was destined for cataract removal surgery. And, I am. After I spent time with three different technicians having my eyes measured and doing a vision examination, Dr. Dance strolled into the examination room, put an apparatus in front of my face, peered through my dilated pupils into the inner regions of my eyes, and, within a few minutes, told me it would be best if he got those buggers out. I will have surgery on my right eye on February 4th and on my left eye on the 26th of February.

2. Back home, I boiled up some rotini and heated up a can of black beans and grated some Parmesan cheese and combined them. My simple, warming, and satisfying bowl transported me back to my school days, grades 1-12. I loved school hot lunch as long as they didn't serve peas which I would stuff into my empty half pint milk carton. Every so often, the cooks served a dish called Witches Brew (I think) (I will gladly stand corrected) and I remember it as a simple combination of noodles and beans. Maybe something else was mixed in it, but the foundation of the dish was noodles and beans. (I just took a quick look at some recipes and, indeed, Witches Brew can include celery, mushrooms, onion, and other ingredients.) I finished eating my simple version of nostalgia triggering Witches Brew and nearly hopped in the Sube and drove to Yoke's to buy another can of black beans -- but, knowing that discretion (or moderation) is the better part of valor, I stayed put.

3. It snowed today. Luckily, I returned home from my eye appointment in CdA ahead of any snow on the 4th of July Pass, but the snow did threaten to impair the fun Christy, Everett, and I had planned for this evening. Christy texted me that her tv wasn't receiving a signal. Snow needed to be removed from her dish. I grabbed a broom, climbed a ladder, and tried to get the snow off the dish, but I wasn't going at it from a good angle. Christy have me a dusting ball fastened to a pole and I returned to the ladder, put it in a different position, and succeeded in removing the snow. Magically, now the signal reached the tv.

What a relief.

Having secured a tv signal, Everett, Christy, and I helped ourselves to slices of a Papa Murphy's vegetarian pizza Christy baked and watched the Zags methodically dismantle Loyola Marymount with little fuss. The final score was 73-55.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/16/19: Preparing for My Appointment, Resting my Legs, Limo to Smelterville and Eddie Joe's

1. This morning I prepared myself for my January 17th appointment at the North Idaho Eye Institute. I filled out the required paperwork and went online and watched six videotapes explaining cataract removal surgery and the different options for lenses that might replace my original, natural lens. At this appointment, it's my understanding that the doctor will make a determination or recommendation as to whether I should have one or both of my cataracts removed.

2. I decided to give my legs a rest today and didn't go on a photo walk. Christy's vehicle needed a quick recall repair and I drove her down to leave off her Jeep and took her back to pick it up. Back home, in preparation for the St. John's vs Creighton basketball game, I popped a bowl of popcorn and started watching the game.

3. During the game's first half, Cas texted me with an invitation to have a couple or three drinks at Eddie Joe's. He picked me up in his white block long limo, his 1975 Lincoln Continental Lipstick Edition, a car he purchased a few months ago from a dealer in Fort Worth, Texas. So I could really feel the luxury of how this car rides, Cas drove us out to Smelterville and back. It was as if we were floating on an airstream down the freeway. Cas's ride has an 8 track tape player. Cas recently purchased the Kinks' album, Low Budget from the 8 Track Shack, here, and we listened to it out on the open road to Smelterville and back. I felt like I could fly like Superman.

It was a quiet late afternoon at Eddie Joe's. No dog fights this time. T did not unload a barrage of F Bombs on Frenchy. Jess put the St. John's game on a couple of televisions and I paid some attention to the Johnnie's 81-66 victory.

Cas invited me over to his and Tracy's place for some pizza. We watched about the first half of the dystopic classic movie, Escape from New York, but I had to ask for a ride home before it was over because Maggie and Charly needed to be fed and I needed to give Charly her medicine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/15/19: Photo Walk West from Kellogg, The Little League Field, Big East Basketball

1. I started at the Kellogg City Park around noon today and walked to a spot near the bottom of Government Gulch and turned around. This stretch of the trail features industry and the remnants of the former industry that thrived in Kellogg until about thirty-five years ago. It's not scenic, not like the trail between Pinehurst and Cataldo. In spots along the trail, however, here and there small trees and other plants are growing. Many of them remained in shade today and so, as you can see at the bottom of this post, I snapped some more icy pictures.

2. When I arrived at the baseball field at the west end of the City Park, I left the trail and walked around what was for us, growing up, the Little League field. The old Little League field near Brown Street got taken out when the freeway through Kellogg was built and the "new" field opened in 1963, my first season as a Little Leaguer playing for IOOF. My first season we lost every game we played.

Today, the old concession stand still stands behind home plate, but not the scorer's perch where the games' scorekeeper used to sit in a little tower. The old dugouts have been replaced. So has the original outfield fence. In the beginning, the fence was red with a scoreboard sitting above center field -- when we were twelve years old, Don Windisch hit a home run against Union Legion Lanes that hit the score board. In left center field, one section of the fence had hinges so that that part of the fence could be swung open and the tractor used to drag the field could enter and make the grassless surface -- the Astrodirt -- smooth.

Today the outfield fence is a chain link fence. I took pictures from home plate of the snowy expanse stretching out to the fence, but the fence is invisible and from my pictures it's impossible to tell it's a baseball field. Behind the fence, Union Pacific locomotives and freight cars often rested on the railroad tracks a short distance beyond. Occasionally, one of Kellogg's local power hitters struck a train car with a home run. Today, those tracks have been transformed into the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and so the houses on the north side of Railroad Avenue provide the backdrop now. It would be a mighty poke if a youngster today were to hit a home run into one of those front yards.

In my four years of playing Little League, I hit one home run, until the All-Star tournament when I slammed two. But, the one home run I hit during the regular season was a soaring parabola. No trains sat on the tracks that late afternoon and my home run cleared the railroad tracks. My heart swelled today as I stood still for a moment at the spot, now beyond the trail, where that blast landed and admired, looking south toward home plate, just how far that homer traveled.

I'll return to this field and see if I can take better pictures from home plate with better definition when the snow has melted. I think many of us who played in the Kellogg Little League would agree that, along with the YMCA, this field holds many of our most treasured days of our youth.

3. Back home, I cleaned up the kitchen, bought a few items at Yoke's, and watched a couple Big East Conference basketball games. Providence beat Seton Hall for their first conference win, 72-63 in a spirited, sometimes chippy game. In the next tilt, Marquette lost its All-American leading scorer Marcus Howard early in the game to debilitating back spasms, but the other Golden Eagles stepped up, filled the void, and in a tight and emotional game, Marquette defeated Georgetown, 74-71.

Here are some of the pictures I took while walking from Kellogg toward Smelterville:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/14/19: Photo Walk from Pinehurst to Enaville, Snake Pit Break, Nailbiters

1. I waited for the clouds to clear and around noon or so I drove to the Pine Creek Trailhead of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. I walked west, figuring a photo stroll to Enaville and back would be good. It was. As best I can tell, most of this section of the trail never sees sunshine this time of year, so the trees were all shagged with ice and much of the trail was snow covered, unlike the parts of the trail that get sunlight. The light, then, today was muted and even with no sun glare. I tried to create some images of the sun hitting selected spots in the distance. If you go to the bottom of this post, you can see in the fifth picture, in particular, how well I succeeded. It was a chilly and energizing walk and I was happy to rack up about 8000 steps. This walking is not only a benefit to my spirits, but, in the past, I think it's helped keep my kidney function stable and, also of benefit to my kidneys, has helped me lose some weight.

2. When I arrived at the Enaville Trailhead, I rested on a bench for a while. A hoarse chain smoking woman about my age was playing with a little boy -- it might have been her grandson -- and a young man arrived with his dog, unleashed the dog, and with no one on the trail heading to Cataldo, threw a ball for his ecstatic companion to retrieve. I pondered this and that for about ten minutes and decided to warm up across the road at the Snake Pit. I ordered a cup of coffee and then a bowl of chili with a Pepsi. The food fortified me and I made my way back to the Sube at the Pine Creek Trailhead.

3. Back home, I fed Maggie and Charly, put my feet up for a while, and then flipped on the television and watched two thrilling basketball games. Syracuse exploited the fact that Duke's Cam Reddish was ill and Tre Jones injured his shoulder six minutes into the game and charged back from as many as fourteen points behind and defeated the Dukies in overtime, 95-91.

I then joined the Maryland and Wisconsin game in progress. Maryland thumped Wisconsin in the first half, leading by eighteen points, but, in the second half, after being behind by twenty-one points, Wisconsin found its groove and clawed back. They took the lead with two minutes to go. In the end, Maryland prevailed, 64-60. A wild Monday night of college basketball came to an end. After living so close to College Park, MD, home of the U of Maryland, I will always feel an irrational connection to the Terrapins. Tonight was the first time I've seen them play this year and I liked watching this youthful team a lot. Maryland's women's basketball team is superb and I will be keeping an eye out for telecasts of their games as well.

Here are some pictures I snapped today:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/13/19: St. Luke's and Biblical Hyperbole, Wellness Trail, Fantastic Family Dinner

1. I felt it again this morning. A vital piece of my inward life has been missing during these many months that I have not been taking part in Episcopalian worship. I drove to Coeur d'Alene this morning for the 10:30 Rite II Holy Eucharist and I loved immersing myself in the poetry of the liturgy, the beauty of the Scripture readings, our singing of the Psalm appointed for today and this morning's hymns, and the power of the Communion.

I remembered back to when I was about eighteen years old and I was having an immature spiritual argument with a Roman Catholic high school classmate and I said something like "you guys just do and say the same things over and over again every Sunday. I just don't see how that doesn't get old and lose its meaning." Ha! Over the last more than thirty-five years when I started worshiping as an Episcopalian, the repetition of the liturgy has not gotten old; it's been invigorating, leading me to fresh and deeper understandings and experiences of the Divine and inviting me into a worship experience shot through with Scripture -- not only in the multiple Scripture readings (Old Testament, Psalms, Epistle, and Gospel), but in the way Thomas Cramner and subsequent editors of the Book of Common Prayer wove passages of Scripture into the prayers and the administration of Communion.

This morning's reading from Isaiah 43:1-7 brought back thinking I've done before about the use of hyperbole in Bible passages. Unfortunately, when we use the word "hyperbole", we usually think of it as a false exaggeration. But, in the passage from Isaiah today (and this also occurs in the Gospels and elsewhere), the writer of today's passage uses hyperbole to magnify a truth, to help us see this truth more clearly. God (or the Lord) speaks words of reassurance in this passage, saying, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." To illustrate the power of this redemption, he goes on to say, magnifying this truth with hyperbole (a good thing): "When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

Through this heightened language, through the idea that in God rivers will not be overwhelming and fires will not burn one, we get a magnified picture of life itself facing us with waters to cross and fires to pass through. These fires and waters are rarely literal ones, but represent difficulties in life, the things that are frightening. We experience them as if they were overwhelming waters and devouring fires.  This passage calls us not to fear them.

In his homily, the priest didn't talk about what I just wrote, but rather talked about the power of being claimed and being named -- the passage from Isaiah was presented as a parallel to the Gospel reading narrating Jesus' baptism. I listened to the homily and, at the same time, reveled in my enjoyment of hyperbole in the Bible (and in Shakespeare, by the way) and, when not abused, how hyperbole is a rhetorical means of achieving clarity, not necessarily an instrument of lying and false distortion.

2. I let this all sink in at the counter at the Breakfast Nook where I enjoyed today's breakfast special:  Dungeness crab Egg Benedict.

I brought my camera with me and I had planned on stopping at the Bull Run Trail Head on the Trail of the Cd'As for a photo walk.

But, I think Charly and Maggie have been struggling more than usual lately with me being out of the house when I leave for hours at a time and I wanted to let the breakfast I'd eaten settle more, so I drove straight home.

Once home, my suspicions about Charly and Maggie were confirmed. I cleaned up a small mess one of them made, and I spent a couple of hours in the house keeping them company.

I still wanted to get in a photo walk, so I drove up to the hospital parking lot and climbed the stairs to the Wellness Trail. I took some shadowy pictures of The Trail that goes to the high school and walked the trail for about a half a mile up to a vista overlooking Kellogg. It was a good walk. Back home, I read on my pedometer that I got in nearly 3000 steps, over a third of them uphill and I took a few pictures. I'll post a few at the bottom of this post.

3. Tonight, Christy and Everett hosted family dinner. Christy cooked up a very tasty chicken dish called Chicken Marbella from Alex Guarnaschelli's cookbook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart. It's a variation on a famous recipe from The Silver Palate and features an unusual combination of ingredients: prunes, olives, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and other ingredients and I'm sure glad that having a recipe look a little weird on paper didn't stop Alex Guarnaschelli or Christy Woolum from making it. It was one of my favorite dishes in the history of Sunday family dinner (I have no idea what my favorite might be).

Christy also set out the ingredients for wedge salad and made a Bleu Cheese dressing from a recipe Mom had for decades, that we loved growing up, and that, I think, was similar to the popular Roquefort dressing at the Sunshine Inn back in the Sig and Bunny days.

Our conversation was fun: movies, music, Carol Burnett, volunteerism, and all sorts of things came up today. We had a really good evening together.

Here are some pictures from my hike:

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/12/19: Enaville Photo Walk, Breaking the Slump?, Zags Get Tested

1. The clouds broke late this morning and I took advantage of this sunshiny and mild day by driving to the Enaville trailhead on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and took a walk west toward Cataldo. When we lived in Greenbelt, I made regular excursions to places like Huntley Meadows, Rock Creek Park, Capital Crescent Trail, Oxbow Lake, Watkins Regional Park and the Brookside Gardens, Patapsco State Park, Sligo Creek Park, Greenbelt Lake, Greenbelt National Park, Paint Branch Trail, the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., and other places to take walks and hikes and to take pictures. I have fallen out of this habit since we moved to Kellogg and I'm hoping that today I started getting back into the habit of driving to different places in Shoshone and eastern Kootenai county. Today, it was invigorating to walk nearly 6000 steps and to get my camera back in action again. You'll find pictures at the bottom of this post.

2. It being Saturday, I thought about the many Saturdays Russell and I drove somewhere in or near Eugene and took photo walks. Not only did those photo walks contribute mightily to my discipline taking pictures and not only did I enjoy talking with Russell and enjoy lunch together nearly every time we went out, but I tried a lot of different things with my camera, was inspired by how Russell took such different pictures of the same place we both photographed, and, thanks to the regularity of taking these pictures, I improved my skills.

I've been in a long picture taking slump since moving to Kellogg. I don't have the luxury of a regular photo walk with a friend that kept me motivated in Eugene nor do I have the excitement of living in a metropolitan area with countless different stretches of parkland and local trails and national treasures like the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens or the National Arboretum to explore and photograph.

I'm going to try to break out of this slump, get out in the world around Kellogg, and take pictures regularly again.

3. I've been having a lot of fun this season following the St. John's men's basketball team and they played DePaul today at 3:00. The broadcasters of the game broke the very disappointing news that St. John's leading scorer and team leader, Shamorie Ponds, was out of the game with a strained lower back. Without Ponds, St. John's was not nearly as offensively aggressive. They played with uncertainty and never seemed to find their offensive rhythm. They played hard, but none of their other players emerged to competently run the offense or to provide the spurts of scoring Ponds reliably provides. Consequently, the Johnnies lost to DePaul, 79-71.

Around 6:30, I ambled next door. Christy is trying out recipes from Alex Guarnaschelli's cookbook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart. Tonight she prepared a creamy and delicious pasta dish with an leafy salad featuring tiny cubes of cheddar cheese and apples. She will serve us another dish from this cookbook for Sunday's family dinner.

For the first time in nearly a month, the Zags played a team tonight that gave them a tough test. The San Francisco Dons are disciplined, experienced, persistent, and unintimidated. Until their offense froze in the last four minutes, when they missed eight of their last nine shots, the Dons stood up to the Zags, traded leads, and had a very good chance of winning this game. In other words, as often happens when a superior team plays a very good, but a not quite great team, in the last four minutes the San Francisco Dons got worn down and Gonzaga's depth, their ability to keep players fresh, and the way they can get points in tight games from a variety of players prevailed.

For thirty-six minutes, USF and Gonzaga were evenly matched. But not for forty minutes. Gonzaga outscored USF 17-2 in the final three minutes. Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell, Jr., and Gino Crandall all hit crucial baskets and Brandon Clarke and Rui Hauchimura sealed off the inside on defense, helping explain the Don's late game drought.

The final score:  Gonzaga 96. USF 83. Don't let that final point spread fool you. Until very late, this game was very close and had Zag Nation reaching for the Rolaids.

Pictures from west of the Enaville trailhead and the Coeur d'Alene River:

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/11/19: Back to Tofu Stroganoff, Michelle Williams Plays Marilyn Monroe, *Run Lola Run*

1. After completing my morning routines, including Friday morning breakfast at Sam's with Ed, Jerry, Buff, and Scott B., I cubed a block of tofu, chopped half an onion and a couple stalks of celery, and opened a package of sliced mushrooms. I sauteed the onion and celery, added the mushrooms and cooked them down, and then put the toful in the skillet. I flavored this mixture with sherry vinegar and pepper and folded in both whole fat plain yogurt and sour cream. I made a pot of rice and now I have one of my favorite meatless dishes, tofu stroganoff, ready to eat as a meal or to snack on.

2. Michelle Williams first came to my attention as the young librarian in the movie, The Station Agent and later as Ennis' (Heath Ledger) wife in the movie Brokeback Mountain. About five years ago, I watched her play the lead in Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz. I have never watched her in Blue Valentine or Manchester by the Sea, but will. At family dinner, I often hear that I should also see her in The Greatest Showman.

I'm searching for a way to articulate what make Michelle Williams' work memorable to me. It's in her face and her eyes. While her characters are always fully present at any moment in the story, simultaneously they are carrying the weight of some kind of inward pain. They reside in more than one world at once, the present world along with a world that exists in memory and feeling, a source of subtle and always present fragility.

Late this afternoon, I watched Michelle Williams play the role of Marilyn Monroe in the movie, My Week with Marilyn. It's a movie about the making of the movie, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe and the movie's director, Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). During the movie's production, in London, Marilyn Monroe looked to the movie's third assistant director, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) for solace, support, and companionship when her husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), returned to the USA and while she struggled to act under Olivier's direction.

The role of Marilyn Monroe charged Michelle Williams with the task of playing two characters at once. First, she played the public persona of Marilyn Monroe, glamorous, talented, witty, and alluring, an ingenious comedic actor with remarkable instincts.  She also played the private Marilyn Monroe, portrayed in this movie as neurotic, deeply insecure, fragile, anxious, and hungry for love and acceptance. The movie hints at sources of Marilyn Monroe's suffering (absent parents, exploitation by men). Michelle Williams beautifully plays the ways this movie's Marilyn Monroe charms, enrages, frustrates, and delights those around her, betraying moments of paranoia, begging for approval and reassurance, living in constant fear of abandonment and rejection, and depending on pills to sleep, to relax, and to be alert. 

[By the way, twice in this movie, Branagh's Lawrence Olivier breaks spontaneously into reciting Shakespeare, first Othello ("Farewell content") and then Prospero ("We are such stuff as dreams are made on"). Branagh's brief recitations made me shiver with pleasure.]

3. I sat in front of the television, letting My Week with Marilyn sink in. Recently, I noticed on my Amazon Fire Stick home page that a new app had popped up called IMDb Freedive. I opened it and learned that it offers countless free movies with ads. Not expecting much, I started scrolling across the offerings and I nearly leaped out of my skin with joy. One of the offerings was Run Lola Run.

A rush of many of my most treasured memories volleyed forth into my mind's eye. I started teaching the Survey of World Literature course back in the fall of 2002. It might have been that spring, or a year or two later, when I decided, in spring term, which covers 19th-21st century literature from around the world, that in order to acquaint students with stories from around the world, those students who wanted an "A" in the course would bring a movie from anywhere in the world outside of the USA and England to class, describe the movie's content, and show a short clip of the movie. I wish I had a list of all the movies students brought in (I might have a record somewhere of movies I recommended), but some come to mind: Mostly Martha, Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Cinema Paradiso, but the one that I had never seen and that blew me away was Run Lola Run.

It's a frenetic movie that repeats a single short story three times. Each version includes slight variations in the action and the tiny variants lead to consequences that change the outcome of each version of the story.

Somewhere along line, I decided to make the entire movie, Run Lola Run, the first work of literature my students experienced in the spring quarter Survey of World Lit class. I thought its rapid pace, its exploration of chaos theory's butterfly effect, and its delving into ideas about free will, chance, conscious intent, and determinism set us up to explore these and other questions of importance in the late 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Tonight, the movie enthralled me again. It also opened the way for me to delight in all those years between 2002 and 2012 when the Survey of World Lit course played a prominent role in my day to day intellectual and teaching life. I thought about students I'd worked with in those courses who loved the experience of seeing the world through the perspective of storytellers, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers of other countries and came to realize both different ways of seeing the world and that we are bonded together by a common humanity, with shared questions and explorations regarding what it means to be human.

I was very fortunate to be teaching at LCC during that time. As faculty, we offered a compelling variety of literature courses, decided among ourselves who would teach them, and happily supported one another when any one of us wanted to venture out into previously uncharted territory -- my taking on the old Survey of World Literature sequence is an example of just that. It was new territory for me and profoundly invigorated the last ten years of my full-time teaching career.

It was electric to feel that invigoration again tonight while watching Run Lola Run. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/10/19: Pend Oreille and Pizza, George Smiley's Keen Work, Zags Dismantle Pacific

1. Around 8:15, I blasted out to Ed's house and we piled into his pickup and bolted over the hill to Coeur d'Alene. Ed ran an errand and we each at a cafe au lait and scone at Starbucks and then we met Stu in the Shopko parking lot, shoehorned ourselves into Stu's pickup, and rocketed up to Bayview on Lake Pend Oreille. Stu has a boat in Bayview. We strolled down to the slip where it's docked and Scott checked this and that and ran both engines for a while, just to make sure they were running and to give them some action after sitting idle for a while.

We left Bayview and headed to Northwest Pizza Company in Hayden and each ordered ourselves a pie. Looking over the menu, I was reminded of a day back in July of 2012 when I ate a meatball pizza pie at John's of Bleeker St. in Greenwich Village. I knew the pizza here at Northwest Pizza wouldn't be baked in a coal-fired oven and that its thin crust wouldn't be crisp and black in places like John's of Bleeker St., but I wasn't looking to duplicate my Village pizza experience. No, I was simply happy that Northwest Pizza Company offered a meatball pizza, so I ordered an eight incher and enjoyed it a lot, both in the present moment and as it transported me back to my first week ever and my first pizza pie in New York City.

2. Back home in Kellogg, I had enough time to watch the last three episodes of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before going over to Christy and Everett's to watch the Zags play the Pacific Tigers. As the complicated plot of this story developed, its many strands slowly made more and more sense. I loved the acting and the writing in this mini-series. While there were a few moments of characters lashing out, most of the action and speech was reserved with fear, anxiety, anger, betrayal, impatience and other bubbling emotions stirring underneath the surface calm of these middle-aged and older intelligence agents and others in their orbit. The genius of the writing is in what characters leave unsaid, how they speak about matters indirectly, and how George Smiley (Alec Guinness) is able to piece together fragments of conversation and bits he picks up in his interrogations and written files and figures out the way the intelligence service is being betrayed from within.

I have to return the DVDs of this mini-series to the library right away, but one day I'll get my hands on them again and watch it all a second time when I'll have a better understanding of the whole story's arc and can experience the things I missed when I first viewed it. I am also going to give the movie a look, the one made several years ago with Gary Oldman playing George Smiley.

3. Tonight Gonzaga hosted Pacific at 8:00 and I went over to Christy and Everett's and watched the game until about 9:30. Gonzaga swamped Pacific 67-36. Pacific's team was painfully outmatched by Gonzaga. Early in the game, the teams were tied 10-10, but by halftime, Gonzaga had built a 34-15 lead and the embarrassment was on. Gonzaga's team rightfully aspires to go deep into the NCAA tournament in March, but I don't see how playing a team like Pacific and the other weak teams in their conference does much at all to advance those aspirations. On Saturday, the Zags play at the University of San Francisco, a 12-2 team who has won its first two conference games and has defeated both Cal and Stanford of the once mighty Pac 12 conference. Will the Dons test Gonzaga? It's hard to say, but I know I'll be strolling next door to find out.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/09/18: Coffee and 5000 Steps, Connie Sachs, Christy's Birthday Cake

1. Ed called me this morning and we met at the Bean and, among other things, we made plans for meeting Stu on Thursday at ShopKo in Coeur d'Alene. From there we'll go to Bayview to check on Stu's boat and then go out for pizza. I wanted to walk to the Bean, but didn't have time. Later, though, I walked nearly 5000 steps when I strolled down to the vet and back to pick up some medicine for Charly.

2. Back home, I watched episodes 2-3 of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It's all very hush hush as these members of the British intelligence maneuver around each other, seeming more committed to advancing in the bureaucracy than gathering intelligence. I loved one scene in particular. The elderly George Smiley goes to Oxford to pay a call to a former intelligence researcher, Connie Sachs. Connie Sachs and George Smiley were lovers when younger and were both let go from the agency at the same time in an agency shake up. Beryl Reid plays the embittered, whip smart, alcoholic role of Connie Sachs brilliantly and unforgettably, conveying Connie Sachs' longing, feeling of betrayal, and nearly total recall of details from her work with quiet pathos and some very affecting sentimentality as well.

3. Next door neighbor Jane used to always bake Mom an angel food cake with lemon frosting for her birthday on January 19th. A few days back, Jane asked Christy if she could bake the same kind of cake for Christy's birthday -- which was today. Christy gladly accepted Jane's offer. Around six o'clock, Paul, Carol, and I met with Everett and Christy at their house and we each enjoyed the cake and a small glass of Spumante. Christy had had lunch with friends earlier in the day, had shopped for half-price snowmen at JB's Country Garden uptown (and came home with a free flower bouquet!), and had had a good visit with our nephrologist, Dr. Jones. This evening, she opened some gifts and we all gabbed for a while, basking in the warmth of the living room fire.

Everett goes to the clinic on Thursday, January 10th. NP Linda Jo Yawn wants to follow up on her examination of him last week. Tonight, while we celebrated Christy's birthday, Everett didn't have much of an appetite -- he hasn't for quite a while --, but he was in good spirits. He loves sitting near the fire.  He can't hear anything, though, and something seems messed up with his hearing aids.  He did his best to join in the conversation, even when things he said were unrelated to what we were talking about at a given moment. It's hard to know Everett is isolated from what's going on around him and unable to join in the flow of conversation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/08/19: Walking to Yoke's, Sweet Popcorn Memories, BBall Roundup and Gonzaga Dreams

1. I got in a pretty good walk today. After I did some more reading about diet and recipes for people with Stage IV kidney disease, I strapped on my backpack and walked to Yoke's and bought some kidney friendly groceries like mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, popcorn, and other things.  I think I'm set for several days of dinners and leftovers.

2. Once home and once organized, I prepared to watch the St. John's v Villanova men's basketball game I've been keenly anticipating. For the first time since leaving Greenbelt, I popped popcorn. I felt some sweet nostalgia, suddenly feeling again how much I enjoyed it when Olivia and David occasionally came to our apartment home in Greenbelt for a sleepover and I got to play the part of Grandpa Popcorn. I stared out the kitchen window for a few minutes, missing my grandchildren -- Jack, Olivia, David, and Ana. Recent pictures of them growing up, getting older, being vibrant children flashed before me. Then my mind turned to those evenings with the Deke in our apartment home when we had popcorn for dinner. I chuckled, melted some butter, poured the popcorn out of the Dutch oven into a bowl, and shuffled into the tv room to watch college basketball.

3. The St. John's v Villanova game was dizzying. St. John's raced to double digit lead early in the game and Villanova clawed its way back, defending more tightly as the game progressed and relying on their two most experienced players, Eric Paschall and Phil Booth, for clutch scoring. In the closing minutes, Villanova outscored St. John's 14-4 and beat the Johnnies 76-71. I thought the difference in this game was poise, poise borne of experience in tough games. St. John's is maturing, but in this game, especially in the last five minutes, Villanova seemed much more assured, more certain about what they were doing on both offense and defense and I thought St. John's got a bit rattled and succumbed to Villanova's ever more suffocating defense.

Villanova, even with a bunch of new players this year, is a long-established successful program, having won two of the last three national titles. St. John's is a program in the midst of resurrection and, to me, it showed tonight that Villanova was more experienced at knowing how to win and that St. John's is not quite there yet. I've said it a hundred times and now I'll make it a hundred and one: it is fun and invigorating to see the teams of Big East conference playing such exciting and hard fought basketball and nothing in college basketball excites me more right now than the re-emergence of St. John's. Next up for the Johnnies? DePaul will be visiting Carnesecca Arena in Queens. Here's hoping Lou Carnesecca and John McEnroe will both be on hand for the action.

I caught my breath after the St. John's game and flipped to ESPN's coverage of the North Carolina v North Carolina State tilt in Raleigh. I turned on this game with much milder interest in its outcome than the St. John's game, but by about sixteen minutes into the game, I turned from mild to rabidly engaged because the North Carolina State Wolfpack, who had fallen as many as fourteen points behind in the first half, found their groove and in helter skelter fashion charged back to eventually tie the game, but could never seize a lead. I loved NC State's style -- they hounded the Tar Heels, often with full court pressure, forcing lots of turnovers. They were aggressive on offense -- sometimes unlucky -- they had some very good shots rim out -- and they played hard. They could have surrendered this game early on, but did just the opposite.

So, now I want to keep a closer eye on NC State. Much like St. John's, it's another team that might be on the rise, trying to establish itself as a high quality program after some lean years.

Let me add that North Carolina is, as always, a really good team. They played as fast, and at times, faster than NC State and have players up and down their lineup who can score from multiple spots on the court. Watching today's game, it became even clearer to me why and how this team defeated Gonzaga so handily a month ago. The Tar Heels can be careless. They are prone to turnovers. But, they are a great scoring team, pound the offensive boards relentlessly, and can pile up points quickly with their quickness and sharp shooting.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is always tough, and, this year, I look forward to seeing some donnybrooks as Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Miami, and others play each other as they move deep into the conference schedule.

I have to say it.

I wish Gonzaga were in a conference like the Big East or the ACC where they would be facing this kind of stiff competition game in and game out. Not only does it get old to watch the Zags blow out inferior teams like Santa Clara and others in the WCC, but these mismatches do little to toughen up Gonzaga.

All through the St. John's v Villanova game especially, I kept trying to imagine the Zag players matching up against the likes of Shamorie Ponds and Marv Clark or Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. I'd like to think they'd match up well, but I wish I could really see them play superb players like these night after night in the months of January, February, and early March rather than just having Gonzaga dreams.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/07/19: Snow, Corgis to the Vet and Groomer, Steely Dan and Horace Silver

1. Last night's snowfall was light, but it was heavy enough that the sidewalks and driveway needed to be shoveled. It wasn't a strenuous workout, but made me tired enough that a couple of hours later I napped briefly while resting in my living room chair.

2. I loaded Charly and Maggie into the Sube and chauffeured them to the vet and groomer on East Cameron. For some reason, since the Deke has been away for her teaching job in Eugene, Charly, Maggie, and I have enjoyed each other more than at any other time over the last 12-15 years. Charly and Maggie have been relaxed. They've joined me regularly in the tv room and lie near me, often sleeping. Charly almost always lies near me, often making contact with one of my ankles, no matter where I sit. Whereas Maggie, in particular, used to charge to the living room's picture window to bark at anyone who passed by, she hasn't done that at all over the last couple or three months.

But, there's one thing that hasn't changed: if I run the vacuum cleaner, the corgis go beserk, scream barking and charging the vacuum cleaner and headbutting it. If I put them behind a closed door, they scream bark and butt themselves against the door. (It's funny, but I can't put them through this.) Therefore, with Maggie and Charly out of the house at the vet and groomer, I happily vacuumed the living room, kitchen, tv room, and bedroom and was not expecting such a deep feeling of satisfaction.

3. Along with vacuuming, I cleaned up the kitchen, laundered clothes, and laundered my bed's sheets and blankets. While doing these tasks, I listened to an Amazon playlist called "50 Great Classic Jazz Songs". I've listened to this playlist many times, but today, for the first time, I recognized that Steely Dan had borrowed the opening bass notes of Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" to open their own song, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number".  It was fun to discover this bit of Steely Dan homage to the jazz of of 1964 and I had a sudden and warm memory of Patrick playing a long string of Steely Dan songs in the kitchen some time around Christmas, one of many awesome sets of music Patrick played through the Bose wireless speaker while he was here.