Sunday, February 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/16/19: Living in the Past, Crab Feed, Fun at the Lounge

1. Late this afternoon, Stu swung by and picked me we headed up to the Inland Lounge for some pre-function action before the crab feed at the Elks. I hadn't been in the Lounge for a couple of weeks and things weren't too busy, so Cas was able to yak with me and Stu and I got to hear Cas and Stu tell stories about all the fun times I missed around forty years ago because I left the Silver Valley and didn't get to play rec league basketball with Stu, Cas, Don K., Jay H., Jake, Abbie, Gary M., and others. I sat and shook my head, thinking of all the fun and funny times I missed because I decided to study Shakespeare and teach writing and literature in Spokane and Eugene and not live the Valley life. It's sure fun to hear all these stories, but I don't regret the path I charted in my life.

2. Scores and scores of people filed into the seating areas upstairs and downstairs at the Elks and eventually lined up upstairs and Kellogg High School ROTC students served each of us cole slaw, beans, a bread stick, a half a crab, and butter or cocktail sauce. The Elks Club made chicken nuggets available for diners who don't eat crab. I sat with a group of friends with whom I graduated from high school in 1972: Carol Lee, Jake, Ed, Joni, Sue, Valerie, Sharon, and Stu along with other friends and classmates' family members. Once we plunged into our plates of food, ROTC members began to circulate around the room with buckets of half crabs, fulfilling each diner's request for more crab. We could have all the crab we could eat and I don't think the Elks' supply got depleted.

I brought some plastic Yoke's shopping bags and filled three of them with crab shells and put the three plastic bags in a paper bag and left the Elks Crab Feed with a good supply of shells that I will turn into soup stock.

No one at our table won the 50/50 raffle. I tried to win by purchasing a dozen tickets, but, alas, someone upstairs won the 400 bucks.

3. Jake, Carol Lee, Valerie, Joni, Ed and I congregated at the Lounge after the crab feed. To our great delight, Diane T. was there with her daughter, Kelly. Kelly came over to me, gave me a hug, and invited me to the VIP area of the Lounge back by the pool table to greet her father, Ron Romine. Ron's mother, Phoebe, was our junior choir director at church and Ron was one of those older kids at church and on the Kellogg Wildcat basketball team whom I looked up to and never really knew. To my surprise, Ron remembered me -- at least my name -- and we shook hands and talked for a little while. Later, I talked more with Diane and learned more about how her work on her house uptown is coming together, about her sister's purchase of the former Larsen home on Division St., and about the duplex Diane's daughter Kelly bought. It is located right behind Diane's house.

The Lounge was alive with spirited conversations and unrestrained laughter and I almost turned down Jake and Carol Lee's offer of a ride home so I could stay longer. I figured I could find another ride home, or even walk. But, I decided discretion is the better part of partying and went home, happy that Christy had checked in on Maggie and Charly and knowing that they were doing great.

(By the way, this morning I took Maggie to the vet's office to be weighed, as a follow up on her appointment with the vet about a month ago. She'd lost .4 pound -- 20.2 down to 19.8 pounds. I don't know if that's a problem, but I can say Maggie is eating well, has her usual energy, and shows every sign of growing old. Both dogs sleep a lot during the day, but, when they are awake, they are spry.)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/15/19: Breakfast at Sam's, Cooking Project, Oregon/Oregon State Women's Basketball

1. It's been a rough week for the guys I eat breakfast with on Friday mornings. Their work removing snow from properties up and down the Silver Valley has been intense this week. In fact, only three of us could make it this morning, Ed, Buff, and I. We had plenty to talk about: the snow, the temporary repair of the dip in the freeway between Kellogg and Smelterville, the crab feed this weekend at the Elks, well digging, pickup maintenance and repair, and the pros and cons of ordering pie for breakfast at Sam's -- which none of us has done.

2. I got some simple cooking done today. I had thawed out a small package of ground beef and dreamed up a way of preparing it that I thought I'd enjoy. I sauteed chopped garlic, onion, and celery, added the ground beef, seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning. Once the meat had cooked up, I drained a can of black beans and added them in, seasoned with cumin and oregano. I also cooked a pot of rice and, when done, folded some of it into the beans and ground beef mixture. I imagined this mess would taste good folded in a heated corn tortilla with melted cheese, topped with Frank's RedHot pepper sauce. I was correct.

3.  About midway through the first quarter, I flipped on the University of Oregon's women's basketball team hosting Oregon State in a Civil War battle at the Matthew Knight Arena (the Matt) in Eugene.

What a night!

The Ducks came into this game the third-ranked team in the nation and the Beavers came in ranked ninth. The Matt was sold out, so this game was played in front of 12,364 fans. I attended quite a few women's basketball games back in the Mac Court days and not one of those games was sold out.  In my imagination, I transported myself from my tv room into the Matt, pretending I was a part of the throbbing enthusiasm I could see on television.

Suddenly I thought: I'll bet Linda and Wayne are in attendance.

I texted Linda at halftime and, sure enough, they were there, with end zone seats. Linda and I texted back and forth about the first half and she texted me a picture of the action from their vantage point. It was thrilling to feel the closest I could to actually being in the Matt.

Oregon State proved to be a fierce opponent, never backing down.  Oregon kept building small leads of four, seven, even nine points thanks to clutch shooting by Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally, strong inside play, both rebounding and scoring, by Ruthy Hebard, and relentless defense in the backcourt by Maite Cazorla. The Beavers kept fighting back and it wasn't until the game's closing minutes that that Ducks' lead grew and they secured a 77-68 victory.

These two teams play each other again on Monday in Corvallis. Oregon State's Gill Coliseum is sold out (9,604 seats). The game will be telecast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. I'll be tuned in with my text machine in hand, ready to share insights and emotions with Linda. Go Ducks!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/14/19: Pulmonary Clearance, Hazy IPA, Wildcats and Zags Win

1. It's been a snowy week in North Idaho, so I was relieved this morning when I headed out on I-90 that the freeway was clear, bare, and presented no danger. I went to Kootenai Imaging for a CT scan of my chest. Pulmonologist Dr. Robert Scoggins wanted to take a deeper look at the whole of my chest to evaluate the condition of the bronchiectasis he and I talked about eight days ago. Dr. Scoggins liked what he saw in the CT scan. The upper regions of my lungs looked normal and, as expected, there is bronchiectasis in the lower lobes and right middle lobes. The bronchiectasis has been present for a long time, most likely dating back to the infection that resulted when I inhaled all that gas and dust when I had that Zinc Plant accident in 1973. I do not experience recurrent infections nor do I show symptoms of bronchiectasis. Taken together, the scan and my history assured Dr. Scoggins that he could clear me for transplant and wrote a report to Sacred Heart saying just that.

2. When it comes to transplant considerations of any kind, I don't take anything for granted. I think this pulmonary exam is the last thing I need to do before being listed, but I am not assuming that's the case. Until I hear from my nurse coordinator that I've been listed, I will patiently wait and see if I need any more testing, blood work, another conference, or anything else.

Out of relief to have the pulmonary testing completed, I dashed over to Slate Creek Brewing for one pint of Breakside's Kids These Haze, a Hazy IPA. I yakked a little bit with co-owner Danica, but mostly stayed to myself, relaxing, thinking about transplant lists and transplant patients' stories, and hoping for an easy drive back to Kellogg.

3. The drive back to Kellogg was easy. After resting and napping a little bit, I drove up to Kellogg High School to watch some boys basketball. The JV team creamed Priest River by a score so lopsided that the mercy rule went into effect with the start of the fourth quarter.

The varsity also won by a large margin, 72-36. The Wildcats, shuttling about 9-10 players in and out of the game, wore down Priest River by hounding and pressuring the Spartans into numerous turnovers and bad shots and ended up steamrolling the Spartans.  It was Senior night at Andrews Gymnasium and all the members of the senior class who were in band, ROTC, on the cheer squad, or played boys basketball were, along with family members, honored at center court between the junior varsity and varsity games.

I returned home in time to join Christy and Everett for the second half of Gonzaga's 73-60 win over Loyola Marymount, a game that was very close until Gonzaga pulled away in the final five minutes with a 13-2 run.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/13/19: Green Curry, Big East Roundball, A Dark Comedy

1. My spiffed up kitchen didn't stay spiffy for long. I made a delicious batch of Thai green curry sauce, putting a little more paste than usual in the coconut milk along with slightly more aggressive amounts of soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar. I really like the contrasts of saltiness, sweetness, and heat in curry sauce and wanted all of these tastes to be strong. I lamented not having a plug of ginger around, but got over it, and I decided to try something different and plopped a blob of crunchy peanut butter in this sauce. I liked it -- it's something I'd thought of in the past, but hadn't done before. On hand, I had a block of tofu and some cauliflower, so I sauteed the tofu and steamed the cauliflower and enjoyed the green curry over jasmine rice, boiled with a little sesame oil in the water, another delight for me.

2. For a short time about half way through the second half, it looked like Providence might go toe to toe with Villanova, but then Erich Paschall heated up, scoring 20 points in the second half, and with the help of fellow senior Phil Booth, led Villanova on a 23-6 run to end the game. Villanova triumphed, 85-67. Sticking with the Big East, I kept an eye on Seton Hall's 90-75 shredding of Georgetown and marveled at Seton Hall's Myles Powell who racked up 30 points.

3. Before I just got tired and headed to bed, I watched the opening forty minutes or so of Guy Ritchie's East London dark comedy crime movie, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels about a group of hapless friends in hock for a half a million pounds to a ruthless neighborhood crime lord  and who try to devise a way to steal that much money in a week's time. I watched the rigged card game in which Eddy lost the half a million and watched the early stages of Eddy, Soap, Bacon, and Tom planning a heist of their own and I'll return to the movie on Friday and see how it all works out. I won't get to it Thursday with two pulmonary appointments in CdA and with plans to go to Kellogg High School in the evening for Senior Night and watch the Wildcats play Priest River.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/12/19: One Week Eye Exam, Ecstasy and Agony, Albert Finney and Stephen Frears

1. Following standard procedure, I met my appointment today with Dr. Brian Miller at the Kellogg Vision Center. I read letters off of charts, sat in front of contraptions while Dr. Miller examined my right eye, inspected my new lens, and made sure my eye looked all right a week after cataract surgery. Everything looked sound.  I am eager for the surgery on my left eye so that my two improved eyes can begin the process of working cooperatively with each other. Right now, my eyes are at odds with each other and my vision is not quite as good as I trust it soon will be.

2.  Ecstasty. 

Although I never attended a basketball game at the Xfinity Center on the campus of the University of Maryland, watching chunks of Maryland's rousing come from behind 70-56 victory over Purdue late this afternoon made me nostalgic to return to College Park, MD. I loved worshiping at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. After church, most Sundays, I enjoyed walking a very short distance from the church to the Bagel Place for a toasted cinnamon raisin with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Looking back, I wish I had strolled the Univ. of Maryland campus more often, but I enjoyed the times I went there. Being done with my many many years of teaching college English classes, I know I was creating some distance between myself and the academic world, but toward the end of the 2016-17 school year, I was starting to think it might be time to visit campus more often. At that point in time, I thought I'd be living in Maryland for an indefinite amount of time. But, Mom's condition deteriorated. I left Maryland in June and, by the end of September, had moved back to Kellogg. 

Agony.

Then I watched a full-scale disaster unfold. Pick your metaphor: it was an avalanche, a mammoth dumpster fire, a fifteen car train wreck, a freeway pile up, a bridge collapsing. Playing at home, the Louisville Cardinal dominated the Duke Blue Devils for thirty basketball minutes and led this game by twenty-three points, 59-36, with 9:58 left to play.

Then the gathering snow began to slide down the mountain side; the hazardous materials spontaneously combusted; the Louisville freight train jumped the tracks; one Louisville car smashed into another on the interstate; the supports gave way and the Louisville bridge collapsed into the Ohio River.

In this game's miserable last 9:58, Louisville committed multiple turnovers and misfired a series of often ill-advised jump shots. Duke pounced. They scored easy baskets off the turnovers. They seemed to rebound every Louisville miss. Duke put on a full court press. Louisville panicked. When not scoring easy baskets on breakaways, Duke's shots from beyond the three point line began to drop.

Duke rallied to a miraculous 71-69 win. Duke outscored Louisville 35-10 in the game's last 9:58.

By game's end, the once boisterous, ecstatic Yum Center was a morgue.

This game was an agonizing college basketball disaster (well, unless you're a Duke fan.)

3.  After the Louisville/Duke game, I sought out a change of pace, something to get my mind off the miserable disintegration I'd just witnessed.

Maybe, I thought, another Albert Finney movie would lift my spirits.

Upon Albert Finney's death, Russell had mentioned that he might watch Gumshoe again. I'd never heard of Gumshoe, so, last week, I looked into the movie's history and, to my delight, I discovered it not only starred Albert Finney, but that it was the first full-length movie directed by one of my favorites, Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Grifters, Prick Up Your Ears, Dirty Pretty Things, The Queen, Philomena and so many more movies).

So I retrieved Gumshoe from Amazon Prime Video and it succeeded in delivering me in every way far from that disastrous loss I'd just watched Louisville suffer.

Albert Finney plays a rudderless guy, Eddie Ginley, who lives in Liverpool. He's barely employed, working at a local nightclub as an MC, bingo caller, and occasional stand-up comic. He fills the vacancies in his life reading stories by detective writers like Dashiell Hammett (and I assume going to movies) and goes about town imitating Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade. On his birthday, Eddie advertises himself as a private detective in the local newspaper.  Almost immediately, he gets a call, accepts a job, and, soon, he's up to his neck in a case involving guns, murder, kidnapping, drugs, money, and other surprises.

I'll leave it at that. I don't want to spoil the intricacies of this story nor do I want to reveal what we learn about Eddie Ginley by the movie's end.

The movie's script is loaded with crisp, hard-boiled dialogue. The movie is, I think, simultaneously a parody and not a parody. I won't explain what I mean for fear of revealing too much, but if you ever see this movie and want to have some conversation about, I'm game -- and will likely have watched this movie again. I'd like to go back and see what I missed on my first viewing.






Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/11/19: Em at Reno, Clash of Wills, Exposure in *The Dresser*

1. Through newspaper articles I found online and through a story from Don K. that I'd also heard at Corby's a few weeks ago from Jake, it's confirmed that our former basketball coach, Em, worked on Jim Padgett's coaching staff at what was then called the University of Nevada at Reno after he left Kellogg. Some of us have faint memories of Em saying that he played basketball in California out of high school. At the time Em graduated from high school, Jim Padgett coached the men's basketball team at San Jose City College. Now I'd love to find documentation that confirms my speculation that Em played at San Jose City College for Padgett and then transferred to the University of Idaho. I'm not sure this documentation exists online, but I will keep clicking around.

2. With the weather so cold, I stayed close to home today, researching, spiffing up the house, getting laundry done, and writing emails. Seeing the snow was powdery, I decided it would not be too strenuous for me to shovel the sidewalks. (I also think that the amount of time that I am supposed to refrain from exerting myself after cataract surgery is running out.)

By 4:00, I was ready to settle in into the tv room and watch the basketball game I eagerly anticipated all day long between Atlantic Coast Conference titans Virginia and North Carolina. From tipoff to the final buzzer, each team struggled for forty basketball minutes to impose its style of play upon the other. It was a clash of wills.

For much of the game, Virginia had the upper hand, slowing down the pace of the game, playing a suffocating defense, and protecting the ball well enough that North Carolina had few opportunities to turn their greyhounds loose in the open court. But, about six minutes or so into the second half, having been straining in their starts, North Carolina's greyhounds cut loose and began to impose their will on Virginia: they forced Cavalier turnovers (what Jay Bilas calls "live ball turnovers"), began streaking to their basket and scoring lay ups and dunks off of fast breaks. Not only did it look like North Carolina had turned the game around, but, as a fan of Virginia, I feared that a rout might be on.

But, North Carolina's elegant senior guard Cam Johnson stepped on a Virginia player's foot and turned his ankle. He left the game. Suddenly the Tar Heels were without a marksman, an excellent defender, and a mature and calming leader on the floor. Virginia pounced on North Carolina's bad fortune. They exploited Cam Johnson's absence and slashed their way back into the lead. Kyle Guy hit a couple of crippling three point daggers and Virginia's defense clamped down on the Tar Heels.
Virginia escaped the deafening hostility of the Dean Dome with a 69-61 triumph in a game that epitomized the emotion, determination, and skill that so often defines basketball at the college level.

3. On February 7th, Albert Finney died of a chest infection. He was 82 years old.

After the basketball game, I was pondering some things Kathleen H. wrote to me earlier in the day about the parallels between athletic competition and Shakespeare's plays. My thoughts centered on exposure, how Shakespeare's plays so often, in moments of pressure and crisis, expose characters for what they are, in ways that range from generous to narcissistic, from cowardly to heroic; crucial moments in ball games similarly expose the best and worst in players.

Then I thought of Albert Finney and his role as an aged actor ("Sir") touring England during WWII with his ragtag troupe of mostly elderly actors, the young actors having been called to fight the war. It all happens in the 1983 movie, The Dresser.

The Dresser zeroes in on the run up to and the performance and aftermath of Sir's 227th playing of the role of King Lear. While the movie gives us bits of Sir's work in the play on the stage, the movie focuses much more on Sir off stage and his relationship with his dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay).

And it's off stage where, like Shakespeare's King Lear, Sir's inward life is laid bare, is exposed. Just as King Lear rages at the pitiless storm and the pelting rain that comes to represent to him the injustices of life, those he's suffered as well as the ones he's engendered, and makes external the tempest in his mind and soul, for Sir, the bombs raining upon England come to embody all that is exhausting him and driving him mad.  Performing demanding roles night after night in town after town, knowing that the theater where he made his debut in Plymouth has been bombed, fighting the barbarism of the bombing by performing the civilizing and (he hopes) comforting beauty of Shakespeare's poetry and drama, and suffering the early onset of some kind of dementia which tortures him with nightmares in his sleep and dark visions when awake have combined to strip Sir of his defenses and exposes him, as the movie develops, as a complicated and difficult man:  tender, cruel, lecherous, loving, vain, sentimental, ungrateful, erudite, brittle, bombastic, defiant, indomitable, and defeated.

I loved watching this movie again. In my reflections, I've short-changed the movie because Sir is not the title character. Norman, the dresser, is. If one sees the movie as a story about him, it opens up a whole other discussion of what this crisis in Sir's life exposes in Norman.

For now, I'll let those thoughts marinate.



Monday, February 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/10/19: No Drive to CdA, Researching Em, Family Dinner

1. I'd just rather not go out when the temperatures are in the single digits and the wind chill is even lower. When I decided in January that I would drive to St. Luke's in CdA on Sunday mornings to worship, I also decided that if the weather was nasty and the driving conditions uncertain, I'd stay home. It's disappointing to me that it looks like snow is forecast for the rest of February. Next Sunday, I hope I'll feel more at ease about driving over the 4th of July Pass. I'll be giving it a trial run on Thursday when I drive to CdA for a CT scan and a visit with Dr. Scoggins. I missed being enveloped by the poetry of the liturgy this morning, missed being in tangible fellowship with other members of the mystical Body of Christ, praying together, singing together, listening together, passing the peace to one another, and ingesting together the elements and the mysteries of the Holy Communion.

2. Stu and I, for no real reason beyond curiosity, are trying to piece together the biography of our basketball coach from our senior year in high school, Bob Emehiser. A couple weeks ago, or so, a friend raised a question about Emehiser playing basketball collegiately and today I scoured digital copies of about four editions of the University of Idaho yearbook, The Gem of the Mountains. In the 1964 edition, Emehiser is pictured as a member of the U of I varsity basketball team and his picture says he is a junior. But, in the 1965 edition, a year later, Emehiser's portrait appears in the section of the yearbook devoted to juniors and, in 1966, the section devoted to seniors.

To review, Emehiser appears in three U of I yearbooks, as follows:

1964: pictured in the varsity basketball section as a junior (he played in 10 games and, according the previous and subsequent yearbooks, wasn't on any other Idaho Vandal basketball team, not the varsity or the freshman team)

1965: cited once again as a junior, this time in the section of pictures in the junior class section

1966: cited as a senior in the section of pictures in the senior class section

There is no mention of Emehiser in the 1963 yearbook. I think I'll take a peek at the 1962.

We are trying to figure out when he graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School. We have been scouring basketball box scores in the online archives of the two Spokane newspapers. The archives are incomplete and the newspapers didn't always publish box scores for high school games. But neither of us has found his name listed as having scored in the box scores we have found for CHS games when we thought he would have been on the Coeur d'Alene team.

We are also trying to figure out if he played at San Jose City College after high school since Jim Padgett coached SJCC and Emehiser was later an assistant coach with Padgett and Nevada Reno.

This is, of course, inconsequential. Nothing but the satisfaction of our curiosity is at stake here. We are trying to square things we thought we used to hear about our coach's playing, later coaching, days with what the documents tell us.

I am convinced if I went to a museum or a library that holds the archives of the Coeur d'Alene or Moscow daily newspapers or if I were to explore the archives of the U of I student newspaper, The Argonaut, I might get some answers. I haven't found the online archive of The Argonaut very helpful, but I think I'll return to it again and see if I just haven't been skilled in how to retrieve information from it.

If any of my friends reading this remember Bob Emehiser playing at CdA, know when he graduated, can direct me to online sources I haven't tapped, or to other places I might go to unearth other information, let me know.

My next move will be, one day, to leave the house and go to brick and mortar places in CdA (or maybe, one day, Moscow) to search archived newspapers. (I used to dive into the microfilmed archives of Oregon newspapers at the U of O looking for information about the past and it was a blast.)

3. Tonight Carol and Paul hosted family dinner. We all sat down at the table handsomely decorated in anticipation of Valentine's Day. Carol made hot drinks for cocktails using apple brandy and served the drinks with stuffed mushrooms. We then enjoyed a green salad, hot chicken wings, herbed drumsticks, and lemony broccoli. It was a perfect dinner: simple and satisfying. I must be getting old in that I had trouble sometimes tracking the sudden changes in topics of our table talk, but Christy and Carol helped me out, often providing background about people they mentioned, but whom I knew nothing about. We talked about girls' athletics in the 70s, the difficulties our family has had over the years navigating the streets of Pinehurst, plumbing, basketball coaches over the years at KHS, and the mind boggling subject of past Silver Valley marriages, who brought what children into the world, what children were imported into what new marriages, and what's going on with all these interconnected people now. I spent much of this conversation bewildered. I've been away from Kellogg too long to follow these threads without confusion and maybe even a slight headache!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/09/19: Freezing Cold, Bare-Knuckled Basketball, Marquette Squeaks by Nova; Duke and Zags Don't Squeak

1. We aren't in the midst of a deep freeze here in Kellogg, but it's a freeze. The flag across the street flapped much of the day. Temperatures hovered between about 8-12 degrees F, but with the wind chill factored in, it was a about ten degrees colder. It was one of those days when the elderly and those with breathing problems are advised to stay indoors. That's what I did. I drank hot coffee and tea, ate hot soup, nursed this fairly minor cold I've had for several days, and made myself very happy watching NCAA college basketball.

2. When play between poker players gets intense on the World Poker Tour, commentator Mike Sexton likes to say the competitors are "bare-knuckled in the center of the ring", an allusion to when boxers dueled without gloves on, once common, now rare.

Mike Sexton's metaphor was an apt one for today's basketball clash in Ann Arbor between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines. The referees gave the players room to bang on each other, play physical defense, and didn't impede the flow of the game by calling inconsequential physical contact between players. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, even with the looser officiating, their brilliant low post player, Ethan Happ, was whistled for his third foul early in the second half and had to take an extended and involuntary sabbatical and, when he returned to the game, was unable to dazzle the Wolverines with his interior spin moves and acrobatic shots the way he had in the first half. Having to ride the pine dislodged his equilibrium and disrupted his rhythm.

But, Michigan's low post giant, Happ's counterpart, Jon Teske, turned in a superb performance and, in the second stanza, Charles Matthews awakened from hibernation and poured in sixteen second half points.  Michigan won this bruising contest, 61-52.

After the game, Ethan Happ, looking ahead, I imagine, to the season ending Big Ten Conference tournament said to Michigan coach John Beilein, "I hope to see you again this season" and Coach Beilein quipped back, "No Ethan. I don't want to see you again the rest of my life."

I'm sure every Wisconsin opponent agrees with Coach Beilein.

3. Against Marquette in Milwaukee this afternoon, Villanova, a team that normally feasts on scoring from beyond the three point arc, starved themselves from out there today. Shots clanked, rimmed out, fell short, and caromed wildly off the iron and it looked like Villanova's undefeated conference record was in jeopardy. Marquette marksman Markus Howard and his backcourt running mate, Sacar Anim, dropped shots from outside, inside, and mid-range. But, Villanova gathered itself and staged a comeback as senior guard Phil Booth took over the late stages of the game with a string of timely baskets. Down a point with 14 seconds remaining, Villanova put the game's outcome in Phil Booth's hands. It looked like he had a clear lane to the basket with about four seconds left, but that lane got cut off by Marquette's Ed Morrow and, uncharacteristically, the usually cool Phil Booth seemed disoriented, got trapped under the basket, desperately heaved the ball to Jermaine Samuels who hoisted up a wild off-balance line drive that never had a prayer and Marquette won 66-65. Its boisterous fans went bonkers.

Later in the afternoon, Duke went bonkers, draining three point shot after three point shot -- the supposed weakness of their offense -- and vanquished Virginia, 81-71.

In the evening, I went over to Christy and Everett's for a bowl of hearty and delicious beef barley soup and watched Gonzaga make their longtime West Coast Conference rival, the St. Mary's Gaels, look like the St. Maries Lumberjacks of Idaho's high school 2A Central Idaho Conference. The Zags blasted to a thirty-three point halftime lead and humiliated the Gaels by a final score of 94-46.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/08/19: Frigid, Cravings and Chicken Soup, Kurt Wallander and King Lear

1. It looks like we are going to be locked into a frigid, sometimes snowy, certainly gray weather pattern this month. Today, as the snow piled up slowly and the wind whipped the flag in front of the church across the street, I faced the elements long enough to join my friends for breakfast at Sam's and, later in the morning, shopped at Yoke's.

2. This cold I contracted on Monday didn't get worse, but it persisted, and I fed it, temporarily setting aside my renal friendly diet. I craved potatoes and I craved chicken soup. I didn't buy any potatoes, but, for the first time in many weeks, I ordered hash browns at Sam's. I bought a package of chicken thighs and legs at Yoke's and made chicken soup, using turkey stock I had made back at Thanksgiving time. I had made some of this stock especially peppery. I got it in my head years ago that increased pepper and pepper sauce helps me fight colds, so my soup is a little more peppery than usual and I put plenty of Tabasco sauce on my hash browns. I boiled some rotini and added it to the soup. I craved pasta, too.

3.  As I grow older, I realize how tempting it is to be like Shakespeare's King Lear. Speaking of himself in the royal or plural third person, among the first things he says upon appearing in Act I is that he wants to "shake all cares and business from our age" and "Unburden'd crawl toward death". King Lear will soon experience the opposite of this. At the age of 80, he will soon experience not an unburdened crawl toward death, but profound suffering brought on by the betrayal of two of his daughters, his misplaced rage toward the daughter who can be trusted, and the slow and steady loss of the remnants of the royal privileges he sought to hang on to.

King Lear's plight came to mind tonight as I watched the final episode of the British detective series, Wallander. It's not that Kurt Wallander ever expressed a desire to "unburdened crawl toward death", but when he learns that, like his father, he his suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's disease, he realizes, in effect, that he's been condemned to a burdened, a difficult, a disoriented, and a ravishing crawl toward death.

While I found the case Kurt Wallander worked on in this episode intriguing, the scene that will live with me for a long time occurred in an open field behind Wallander's residence. Unlike King Lear in the play's heath scene, Kurt Wallander was not being pelted by a merciless rain storm. Otherwise, it was Wallander's very own heath scene. It opens with a view of Kurt Wallander from a long distance away. His human figure is tiny. The space around him is expansive, as if he were, in the grand scheme of things, a speck, a barely noticeable being engulfed by the uncaring spaciousness of an empty life surrounding him.

This scene unfolds through Wallander's daughter Linda's eyes. She has come out into the field to check on her father's welfare. Wallander is confronting the injustice of his existence, tearing at his clothes, stripping himself, in much the same way King Lear begins to disrobe, telling himself "To expose thyself to feel what wretches feel". Wallander's peeling off his own clothes is not in order to connect with the neglected, but is more of figuratively exposing himself to the random cruelty that life, via Alzheimer's disease, has imposed on him and his father.

Wallander looks at Linda. He's dislocated, disoriented, mad with frustration and cries, heartbreakingly, "Are you my daughter?"

It's a question lifted from King Lear.


I've been watching Kenneth Branagh's work for thirty years, starting with his movie version of Henry V. This was as arresting and moving and painful of a scene as I've ever seen him perform. I wondered if it might be a foretaste of him playing the role of King Lear some time in the next ten years as he crawls burdened into his late fifties and on into his sixties.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/07/19: Comforts of Home, J. S. Bach Day, Pasties and Zags

1.  I picked up a bug on Monday and am now doing all I can to get over a cold. It was a relief today to stay home and not have any medical appointments to meet. I took care of nuts and bolts stuff: dishes, bills, updating my calendar, blowing my nose, making new appointments at the Lung and Asthma center, writing some emails. I nodded off from time to time. I drank a lot of water and black tea. I hope to shake off this cold soon.

2. I put a J. S. Bach shuffle on the Echo Dot and everything I did today was made more pleasant by Bach concertos, cello suites, preludes, fugues, variations on themes (like the Goldberg Variations), and some choral music.

3. Just before six, I braved the frigid weather and walked next door to join Christy and Everett for a dinner of pasties, peppery green beans, and a chopped salad. As we finished eating our delicious dinner, the basketball game between Gonzaga and Univ. of San Francisco came on. The two teams had played a fairly tight game last month, but tonight the Zags were more explosive and crushed the Dons, 92-62.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/06/19: Immunosuppression and Bronchiectasis, Pulmonary Tests, Chunk of Snow-Ice and Cash Stout

1. Today, I turned medical attention from my right eye to my damaged lungs. Because I've had two cases of pneumonia, the first, toxic pneumonia back in 1973 as a result of inhaling a high volume of sulfur dioxide and heavy metal dust in an accident at the Zinc Plant and the second, back in 2009, when I contracted a "normal" case of bacterial pneumonia in Eugene, the Sacred Heart Transplant Center wanted me checked out by pulmonologist before putting me on the transplant list. (I've been working on getting listed since late October.)

I am understanding better why the Sacred Heart Transplant Team is concerned about my history with these pneumonias. If I should received a kidney transplant, the process requires the inducing of immunosuppression to help the survival of the transplanted organ. At the same time that immunosuppression has a positive purpose, it also leaves a person susceptible to opportunistic infections. It's why I had major dental work done in November. My bite was such that it was cutting into the roof of my mouth, a possible cause of infection. That's fixed now.

So, back in 2016, when I first was listed for a transplant at the University of Maryland, I had a chest X-ray and the radiologist didn't like what he saw in the bottom of my lungs and ordered a CT scan and this scan confirmed the presence of bronchiectasis (brawn key ECK tuh sis) in my lungs' lower region.

Back in 2015, nothing came of this discovery. It didn't get me booted off the U of Maryland transplant list. No doctor at U of Maryland nor my primary care physician in Maryland seemed at all concerned about the presence of bronchiectasis in my lungs.

The Sacred Heart team, however, wants this checked out before I'm listed (or not) for a transplant.

That's why I drove on roads free of snow and ice today over to the North Idaho Lung and Asthma Center for some pulmonary testing and a consultation with pulmonologist Dr. Robert Scoggins.

2. My visit began with a series of breathing tests that involved various levels of intense drawing of deep breaths, blowing into a machine, panting into a machine, and variations on that theme. I worked with a calm and calming nurse and these procedures went very well.

After a while, Dr. Scoggins and I went over the results. Nothing in the test results led the doctor to prescribe me an inhaler. In fact, while my lung capacity and the other things they measured are not 100%, things looked, to quote both the doctor and the nurse, pretty good.

By looking at an X-ray I had done back in October, however, Dr. Scoggins could see, and he showed me, the evidence of the bronchiectasis in my lungs.

The good news: I don't have recurrent infections. I don't have symptoms. I do not have a persistent cough. I am not hacking up phlegm, a very good sign. Dr. Scoggins concluded that my pulmonary function is good and not a barrier to transplant. He also concluded that the bronchiectasis is no doubt related to infection when I was younger (like when I got gassed at the Zinc Plant) and should not be a barrier to transplant, although immunosuppression could increase my risk of infection.

Dr. Scoggins decided an appropriate response to my situation was, in his words, to overreact a bit, so I will be having another CT scan done of my chest so he can make a further assessment.
I left this appointment hopeful.

I knew I'd been carrying this infection in my lungs for about forty-six years now and Dr. Scoggins helped me understand it better and helped me understand it in relation to a possible transplant.

So, for now, I'll have the CT scan done, meet with Dr. Scoggins again, and see if his assessment remains the same -- that these pulmonary problems should not be a barrier to transplant.

By the way, here's what does make me cough: anxiety and nervousness. I told Dr. Scoggins this and he assured me that this is true for a lot of people -- it's not unusual.

Oh! Just before my pulmonary testing began, the office of nephrologist Dr. Kristie Jones called me to briefly report on the blood work I had done last Thursday. My kidney function is stable at 16%, my other numbers either look good or are stable, and Dr. Jones doesn't need to see me before the March appointment we already have scheduled.

This news was a relief.

3. On my way to my appointments, I was hurtling west on I-90 about eight miles outside CdA when suddenly, in my lane, a good sized chunk of snow, and, as it turned out, ice appeared. I didn't know in the split second I had to decide what to do if there was traffic to my left in the passing lane, so rather than swerve to the left, I hit the snow-ice chunk. The impact knocked the Sube off kilter for a few seconds as I veered to the left, but I got the car immediately straightened out and continued to CdA.

I arrived in CdA early for my appointment and had decided to enjoy a bowl of Chicken Pho at Pho Tanh and as I eased up the 4th Street exit ramp and made my way to the cafe's parking lot, something was rubbing against the front tire on the driver's side. I looked once I got parked and, indeed, some plastic material in the wheel well had been knocked down by me hitting the snow-ice chunk and I put it back in place. After my soup, while driving to the clinic, the noise persisted.

I went to Les Schwab after my pulmonary appointments and was relieved to see that an employee there drove the Sube back out of the garage a short time after he went in.

He told me that it was that plastic stuff rubbing against the tire. He put it back in place, making me think I hadn't gotten it all when I did the same thing earlier. He checked out other things under the Sube and said it all looked good and I was ready to go. He didn't charge me for his efforts and I returned to Kellogg with a free mind and with better eyesight: I drove all the way home without my glasses on and I am convinced my vision at night is better in my right eye.

I was a little rattled about the snow-ice incident and having the car checked at Les Schwab. (In fact, it made me cough!) I hadn't had a beer for over ten days. I love going to Slate Creek in CdA, so I stopped in to have a pint of Everybody's Brewing Cash Stout Oatmeal Stout, yakked a bit with Danica, an owner of Slate Creek, and felt much better as I made my way home on clear roads with the Sube in good shape and my nerves calmed a bit by that delicious pint of beer. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/05/19: Everything Looks Good, Breakfast and Looking Ahead, St. John's Wins! Not the KHS Wildcats

1. Today Christy swung by and drove me over to CdA for my post-op appointment. I went through a few simple vision tests and Dr. Dance put a contraption in front of me and peered deep into my eye. "Everything looks good."   I received instructions: follow the eye drop schedule; don't do any strenuous activity until next week (is shoveling snow strenuous?); keep my right eye closed in the shower; wear the shield at night for a week; call the office if I have vision difficulties;  expect the eye to be inconsistent for a few days. I see my optometrist in Kellogg in a week. I might want to consider having the right lens removed from my glasses. I might want to buy a pair of magnifying glasses at the store for reading. I return in three weeks for the left eye. I am eager for this surgery so that my two eyes will be working together with new toric lenses to see the world with renewed vividness and clarity.

A bunch of people wished me well with this surgery and it's uplifting and, I think, an aid in healing because it keeps me hopeful and keeps my spirits up. Many thanks to all of you who have been encouraging, told me about your experience with cataract surgery, and who have joined in my happiness that things have gone so well.

2. After a quick trip to Rite Aid and Albertson's, Christy and I ate at the Breakfast Nook and returned to Kellogg. I was grateful, mostly for Christy's sake, that both coming and going the roads were wet, not icy, and pretty much free of snow except on exit ramps. On February 6th, I return to CdA to have my pulmonary function tested and review it with a doctor. Because of all the toxic dust and gas that I inhaled when I was injured at the Zinc Plant in 1973, resulting in toxic pneumonia, and because I contracted bacterial pneumonia in 2009, the surgeon at the Transplant Center at Sacred Heart wants my pulmonary function checked out before I am cleared to be put on the transplant list.

3. I had a wild time with basketball once I returned to Kellogg. Stu drove over from his place perched in the hills above State Line to watch the boys and girls B teams at Kellogg Middle School play Bonners Ferry. Stu's son, Jeff, coaches the girls team -- Jeff's daughter is on the KMS A team. So, at 4:00 Stu and I settled into the bleachers and watched the middle school teams streak up and down the floor, miss a ton of shots, battle flat footed for rebounds, turn the ball over frequently, and, once in a while, score. Both of the Bonners Ferry teams were stronger and thumped both the boys and the girls. Both teams appeared to me to be enjoying themselves and I was glad that such a thing as middle school B teams exists. When I was in the 7th and 8th grades, the less talented players never got to play in a game. All four coaches today played all their players, giving these less developed players a good experience with what it feels like to suit up and compete.

I arrived back home after a shopping spree at Yoke's and flipped on a titanic basketball game between St. John's University and Marquette, fierce rivals in the Big East Conference. About a month ago, St. John's defeated Marquette in New York City and today they played on Marquette's home ice in Milwaukee. I tuned in at a dramatic moment. Marquette was chipping away at St. John's fifteen point lead and late in the game they completed their comeback and went ahead by a point. But, the Johnnie's dug in. Their star guard Shamorie Ponds scored 13 of their last 14 points, including a stellar drive to the basket to give the Johnnies a 70-69 lead, a lead they preserved with a commanding defensive stand to end the game -- a stand in which they forced Marquette superstar Markus Howard into a poor, off balance shot that missed everything.

I also learned that up at Spirit Lake, at Timberlake High School, the Kellogg Wildcats missed a last second three point attempt and lost by two points to Timberlake, 45-43. The Wildcats have now lost two games at the buzzer to Timberlake. I'm eager to see if possibly th  e 'Cats can earn a rematch with Timberlake in the district tournament and avenge those losses. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/04/19: Roads Clear, Cataract Surgery, A Vivid World

1. After a night of snowfall, the Kellogg School District closed. Paul had the day free. Paul is our family's most experienced wintry roads driver and volunteered to take me to CdA for cataract surgery instead of Christy. As it turned out, the freeway was in splendid shape, bare with little or no ice and we arrived at the North Idaho Eye Institute early (just the way I like it!) and I got checked in.

2. The surgery, according to the doctor, was successful. It didn't involve much: numbing eye drops, a mild sedative through an IV, a warm blanket tossed over me. I was in a chair very much like at the dentist and when it was time for the surgery, a nurse put some kind of spongy thing over my face and eye, an oxygen instrument fed me air, and someone assisting the doctor regularly flushed my eye with liquid. During the short operation, I didn't feel anything, but had bright flashes of color pulse in my eye, as if I were at one of those planetarium laser light shows. Soon, one of the staff wheeled me in my dentist chair back to the pre-op area, served me coffee, let the sedative wear off a bit, and, before long, I was back in the waiting room with a  shield taped over my eye. Soon Paul picked me up and we returned to Kellogg.

3. Back home, I began my regimen of giving myself steroid and antibiotic eye drops. I felt no discomfort today. My eyes never felt dry or itchy.  Each time I removed the shield, I could see, in increments, that with the new lens inserted behind my right eye, the world was brighter, the light more pure, and the colors in our house more vivid. At my post-op appointment on Feb. 5th at 9:30, it is likely the doctor will tell me to wear the shield only at night for about a week. I hope to also be cleared to drive. I return for a second surgery on Feb. 26th.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/03/19: Staying Put, Sibling Assignment, Updating flickr

1.  This coming week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I have to make a trip each day for medical reasons: cataract surgery, cataract post-op exam, and a pulmonary review as I continue to be examined in the hope of being listed for a kidney transplant at Sacred Heart in Spokane. I decided to stay home today, launder my sheets, do some other laundry, and rest up a bit for tomorrow's procedure.

2. I completed Sibling Assignment #204, a pictorial assignment that Christy gave us.  If you'd like to look at my post, it's here and links to my sisters' work is right there in my post.

3. Because I have lost interest in the NFL over the past couple of seasons, I didn't watch the Super Bowl. Instead, I got caught up on my flickr account by creating an album of my Winter 2019 pictures so far. When I create these albums, I include all pictures, no matter whether I think they are good or lousy. Sometimes my mind changes about a shot and like to have them all stored on flickr. If you'd like to look at this album, it's right here.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sibling Assignment #204: North Idaho Pictures

Inspired by this line Carol posted in a blog post, "What beauty is created in nature when we take the time to observe", Christy assigned the three of us to do a photo walk and take time to observe. We are to then post a series of pictures or a slide show.

Carol's slide show is here. Christy's is here.

Lately, I've been ending a period of photographic dormancy and looking for beauty to photograph in North Idaho. Here are some of the pictures I've taken:


















Three Beautiful Things 02/02/18: Brawl for the Ball Explained, The Atmosphere at Andrews Gym, The Games

1. Whew!

After cleaning up some stuff around the house, I walked to the high school shortly before 1:00. Today was the annual Kellogg vs. St. Maries Brawl for the Ball, featuring four basketball games (girls and boys junior varsity followed by girls and boys varsity), and competitions between the schools at halftime: a tug-of-war, a game of dodgeball, pep rallies, cheer squad competition, mascot competition, and a Battle of the Bands.

In addition, raffle tickets were available in both towns and both towns competed to see which would donate the most pounds of food to its local food bank.

Both schools racked up points based on the outcome of the basketball games and the halftime competitions and the school with the most points wins THE BALL, a encased basketball, a trophy, that stays for the following year with the team that wins it.

Well.

St. Maries and Kellogg's food drives were very successful, collecting over 42,000 pounds of food, with Kellogg collecting slightly more at about 22,000 pounds. Kellogg won three out of the four basketball games (only the boys junior varsity team lost) and the other competitions were split pretty evenly between the two schools.

The raffle raised a few thousand dollars. I don't remember the exact amount.

Kellogg won The Ball.

Whew! What a day! I was at the gym for over six hours. I absolutely loved it.

Let's break it down a bit.

2. I walked into Andrews Gymnasium and I was stunned and had to stand still for a while and survey what lay before me. The stands were at least 75% full. I don't think, since I've returned to Kellogg, I've seen the stands even half full. Usually, both teams are seated on one side of the floor, to the left and the right of the scoring table. Not today. The St. Maries teams sat on one side of the gym, as did their many supporters, and the Kellogg teams sat opposite them, as did their many supporters.

When I arrived, the boys junior varsity game was early in the second quarter. I had to stand and stare for a minute or two at the bleachers on the Kellogg side to figure out where to sit. There weren't that many spots. Furthermore, I hadn't heard this much noise in Andrews Gymnasium since I was in high school -- that dreaded loss our 71-72 team suffered against Wallace was in front of a near capacity crowd and back then the now closed in balcony on the north end of the gym was open. The crowd and the throbbing noise of the cheering and loud reactions to the referees' calls dizzied me for a minute or so. I lost my bearings.

It was awesome.

I regained my equilibrium and found a seat down low on the Kellogg (east) side of the gym. I came to the gym thinking I would leave at halftime of the girls varsity game, walk home, feed the corgis and let them out, and walk back for the boys varsity game. I immediately nixed that idea. No way was I going to leave this seat! I texted Christy and she agreed to take care of the dogs and I only left my seat once to make a pit stop.

I was so happy to be a part of this crowd, to have the feeling that I was in the movie Hoosiers, with the St. Maries student body bellowing out a cheer and the Kellogg student body answering it, each side pumping up the volume and with both sides of the gym holding scores of adults, the St. Maries people (Lumberjack Nation) having traveled the windy roads to Kellogg for an eight hour day cheering, watching the halftime competitions, supporting their teams.

The pep bands played for the two varsity games, the St. Maries side blasting out "25 or 6 to 4" followed by Kellogg blaring out "Born to be Wild" and they continued, back and forth, pumping up the crowd with "Crazy Train", "Low Rider", "Seven Nation Army", and many more rousing songs.

3. And then there were the basketball games.

The Kellogg boys junior varsity team faced a very good and, to my eye, a more experienced St. Maries team. Kellogg played hard, but St. Maries had a marksman or two from outside and featured a 6' 4" kid in the post. Kellogg's team doesn't have one player over 6' tall and struggled to keep St. Maries' rangy center off the boards and from scoring, whether off of entry passes inside or offensive rebounds. The final score was disheartening for us Wildcat fans: St. Maries won 71-41.

St. Maries didn't have a deep bench, but emptied it late in the game. One of the players, to my untrained eye and from my vantage point in the stands, appeared to have Downs Syndrome or was different from the other players in some other way. Late in the game, a rebound fell in his hands and from the side of the basket, about a foot away, from navel level, he heaved the ball nearly straight up and it descended straight into the basket, inspiring the loudest cheer in the gym all night.

The Kellogg girls varsity team impressed me with their discipline on offense and their defensive tenacity.  Hailey Cheney hurt St. Maries inside and Erin VanHoose hit some timely outside shots. The Wildcats had built, if I remember correctly, a fourteen point lead in the second half and St. Maries made a late run, narrowing the margin to five (I think) (I wish I'd been taking notes). But, Kellogg's cooler heads prevailed:  they stayed organized, made some crucial late game free throws, held off St. Maries, and triumphed 46-39.

I watched the St. Maries boys warm up and I thought to myself that the Wildcats have a stern test ahead of them. The Lumberjacks had a size advantage, particularly with their hefty 6'4" post player, Dan Howard, who looked to me like he might weigh about 220 pounds and, in warm ups, looked like he had a good shot. In addition, St. Maries had defeated Kellogg twice this season. (But, so had Wallace and Kellogg beat them Monday night.)

I saw the Wildcats' boys team play unrelenting defense on both Monday and Thursday nights. I wondered if they might show signs of fatigue tonight, but dismissed that thought because I've been very impressed with what excellent condition this team is in and with Coach Nearing's substitution patterns. He keeps players rested and fresh with nine players sharing playing time.

And, sure enough, as this game progressed, the Wildcats, especially their point guard, Brennen Atkins, got under St. Maries' skin, even, I think, frustrating their coach. At one point in the fourth quarter, after a stellar defensive play and drawing a foul, Atkins had a Lumberjack player come after him. The St. Maries kid lost his temper. The smaller Atkins didn't back down. The referees separated the players, sent both teams to their benches, called the two coaches to the center of the court, let things cool down, and after a delay of about five minutes, the coaches were smiling and patting each other on the back, and, when play resumed, Brennen Atkins cooly made his two free throws.

As I thought he would, the big kid for St. Maries gave the Wildcats some trouble inside, but, as they do so well, the Wildcats scrapped, kept their feet sliding and their hands busy on defense, helped one another, swarmed to the ball, dove for loose balls, jammed passing lanes, forced tie ups and turnovers, rushed St. Maries into some bad shots, and kept pressure on the Lumberjacks all night long.

It paid off. I haven't seen a box score, but I think the Wildcats' scoring was spread pretty well across the team -- possibly Brennen Atkins was the leading scorer. Tyrel Davis played really well off the bench, Gavin Luna and Raiden Ricketts battled the Lumberjacks' big guy all night long, tiring him, and the 'Cats made several important free throws late to ice a 51-45 nail biter.

Earlier in the season, I saw the Wildcats get crushed by two far superior opponents, Shadle Park and Moscow. Watching those games, I did my best to be slow to evaluate the Wildcats. I wanted to see them play again against teams more their equal. Now I have. Three times. Three Wildcat victories.

It's been fun to see them play teams on their level. Against Wallace, Bonners Ferry, and St. Maries, all the excellent qualities of this Wildcat team have had a chance to unfold. The players can have fun. They can play with vigor and be rewarded for their hustle, determination, discipline, and skills. I won't do it, but I'd enjoy going to Spirit Lake on Tuesday to see the 'Cats play the league's top team, Timberlake, again. I will, however, attend the Wildcats' Feb. 14th tilt against Priest River. It will be Senior Night and the last home game of the season.

Right now, this team is on a three game winning streak. They nearly beat Timberlake last week at home. Can they build on the success of the last three games and defeat Timberlake on the road? And, then, can they beat Priest River at home and ride a crest of success into the district tournament and win that? Who knows? I think the Wildcats have more than a fighting chance to turn what as been a difficult season into a memorable one. We'll see.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/01/19: More Than a Game, Badger Memories, Dinner at the Timbers Roadhouse

1.  Being back in Kellogg, having a television, being in nearly daily contact with Byrdman and Stu, watching the Zag games with Christy and Everett, and going up to Kellogg High School to watch games has rekindled my deep enjoyment of basketball in a way I haven't experienced for many years. Not only has it been fun to watch a lot of live college basketball, it's been really fun to go online and look at rosters and tournament programs featuring teams at both the college and the high school level who played when I was in school at Kellogg and at NIC and Whitworth.

Watching these games also saddens me at some point in each contest. When we lived in Maryland, I was, back in 2015, starting to become friends with the Deke's cousin Sally's husband, Ted Ayotte. He passed away suddenly in late August of 2015 of a heart attack in his home. I got to watch the Final Four of the NCAA tournament at Sally and Ted's house in 2015 and, similar to what I'm experiencing right now, felt a rejuvenation of my love for basketball, largely because Ted was a former high school and college player and I loved talking about basketball with him. And about golf. Talking with him was very much like talking with my Silver Valley friends and I used to imagine him joining me and my other Hall of Fame of Great Guys friends for one of our get togethers where he would have fit right in with stories about basketball, golf, and and policing. I think he would have soon joined in with giving my friends the needle, too.

My last text exchange with Ted was when he and Sally were serving as volunteers at the Barclay's golf tournament at the Plainfield Country Club not far from their home in Metuchen, NJ. Ted was stoked about seeing Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson. It was just the kind of text message exchange I'd love to be having with him now about the current woes of Indiana basketball ("Is Sally holding up okay?"
"Wow! They've got a tough game today with Michigan State"), my impressions of Gonzaga, and the many great games that have been played these past couple of months. We had some good text exchanges about beer, too!

So I imagine these conversations with Ted. I grieve for Sally.  I have great conversations with Byrdman and Stu and Don. I watch nearly every Zag game with Christy and Everett.

I'm back in.

I was gone too long.

Basketball.

It's more than a game.

2.  These thoughts and feelings about Ted rose up in me early this evening as I watched the second half of Wisconsin's win at home over Maryland, 69-61. At Ted and Sally's Final Four party to watch the semi-finals, Wisconsin shocked the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, 71-64. Seeing Wisconsin play this evening brought back memories I treasure, not only of Wisconsin's stunning victory, but of being a part of Ted and Sally's annual party to watch the Saturday semi-final games of the Final Four. I wanted to text Ted and share some memories and highlights of that 2015 game and possibly swap some impressions of what a fine team Wisconsin has again and how young and exciting Maryland's team is.

3. I didn't watch the first half of the Badgers and the Terps because Christy, Everett, and I went out to Cataldo together and ate dinner at the Timbers Roadhouse. Not too long ago, a local family remodeled the former Mission Inn and reopened it as the Timber Roadhouse and we decided to give it a try.  The Timbers Roadhouse is similar to other Silver Valley restaurants. Like the Hilltop, the Timber Roadhouse benefited from a handsome remodel. Their menu features a variety of hamburgers and other sandwiches, like French dip and Reuben. They offer about a half a dozen salads. Tonight they had a fish special. Everett ordered a prawns and halibut plate. I ordered a bowl of clam chowder with a side salad. Christy had a delicious cheeseburger with hand cut fries. We were all satisfied with our food and the service. We were happy to see that the Timbers Roadhouse was doing a good business. We had a very enjoyable time together with lots to talk about.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/31/19: Walking to the Clinic, Premier Customer Service, Back to Andrews Gymnasium

1. I sprang up this morning and, right away, I put on my jeans and a sweatshirt, put on a warm coat and stocking cap and gloves, strapped on my backpack, put a can of seltzer water and a lab order in it and set off to walk to the clinic to have a couple of vials of blood drawn for Dr. Kristie Jones, my nephrologist. Tracy, the world's best phlebotomist, and I got a few things straightened out about today's blood draw and my one to come in March and I walked back home, stopping at The Bean for a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with a light swipe of cream cheese and a cup of half Americano and half steamed milk. I then walked home.

2. I got things straightened out with my antibiotic eye drops by talking to Nurse Renetta at the North Idaho Eye Institute and by going over to the pharmacy at Yoke's and being treated to the best and most generous customer service I have ever experienced at any pharmacy anywhere -- but, I should say that the great way they treated me at Yoke's Pharmacy was consistent with every experience I've had at this pharmacy, extending back to my regular dealings with them when I helped out with Mom's care and dealing with her medications.

3. About 6:00, I walked west on Cameron Avenue and then turned north on Jacobs Gulch Road and headed to Kellogg High School to watch the Kellogg boys varsity squad shellack Bonners Ferry, 63-45. For the second time this week, I had a lot of fun watching the Wildcats play a team on their own level. As in Monday night's Wallace game, spearheaded by point guard Brennen Atkins, the Wildcats played ankle-biting defense, pestering the Badgers (badgering the Badgers?), frustrating them, forcing them into bad passes, careless dribbling, and rushed shots.

As the two teams warmed up, I mused to myself that Bonners Ferry might be in some trouble because they only had eight players in uniform. Kellogg's coach, Jeff Nearing, has four players on his bench in whom he has as much confidence as his starters and he substitutes players in and out of the game freely, both keeping players out of foul trouble and keeping his players fresh and rested. By about the second quarter and most emphatically throughout the second half, the Wildcat's constant hounding, disrupting, smothering, and harassing of the pooped Bonners Ferry boys wore down the Badgers. Kellogg held several leads of over twenty points and would have won by a 21 point margin had a Badger not hit a 30-35 foot heave at the game ending buzzer to trim Kellogg's lead to 18 points.

I was especially impressed with how guard Graden Nearing was the most assertive I've ever seen him on offense and he kept putting the ball on the deck and heading to the iron despite having three (I think) lousy offensive foul calls go against him when driving to the basket.

I walked 8700 steps today and racked up over 4 miles.