Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Goose: Tuesday Morning Update

Tuesday morning from Janice:

Kirk is having a real good day. Pudge just stopped by, and Terry Absec is here right now. He keeps talking about all you guys coming in. Today has been the best that he has eaten. For breakfast he had a bowl of oatmeal and a protein shake. His color is good, but he is tired. Love all you guys, and I will continue to keep you updated.

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/19: Goose Update and Visit, Lawn Care, Set Speeches and Soliloquies

1. Cas, Byrdman, Don K., and I piled into Cas' truck around 9:30 this morning and rocketed over to Missoula to visit Goose.

In one of my recent updates, I made an error and now I'll correct it.

I thought I heard Janice or Keith say the episode when Kirk got out of bed, fell, couldn't get up, and went by ambulance to the hospital happened on Thursday, April 18th.

I got that wrong.

It happened on Saturday, April 20th.

Here's what I experienced today.

When we walked into his room, Goose was in bed, not like Saturday when he was sitting up. Since Saturday, he'd received nearly two more days of chemotherapy and the treatment is taking a toll on him. Today he was more tired and weaker than he was Saturday.

That said, he was awake and alert for the entire time Cas, Byrdman, Don K, and I were with him, answering our questions and telling us what happened that landed him in the hospital. He made us  laugh with the way he told us about the ambulance crew in St. Regis taking him out of the house in a kitchen chair.  He also made a few other really funny comments. Both times I've joined with friends to visit Kirk, guys have been really positive, not only expressing love, but promising him fishing trips and rounds of golf when he gets better.

Before we went in his room, a nurse had asked us to keep our visit brief, that Kirk needed to rest, but, once with him, we all lost track of time and couldn't pull ourselves away. We were with him for at least 45 minutes, I'd say.  (I definitely lost track of time.) No medical staff objected. A nurse came in to change some IVs and take some readings and she nimbly and pleasantly worked around us at his bedside.

Several people have expressed their certainty to me that our visit today must have lifted Goose's spirits.

It sure did.

Janice told us that Kirk knew we were coming and throughout the morning he asked Janice when we were going to arrive and he perked up visibly when we got there and was very appreciative as we left.

We huddled with Janice for a while before we left. She told us that by about Wednesday or Thursday, the heavy doses of chemo are going to exhaust Goose and mightily compromise his immune system, leaving him very vulnerable to infection. She thinks by this time he'll be asleep most of the time and that visitation will be very limited.

Janice told us that she will hate to do it, but that she might have to put her foot down and keep visitors away later in the week.

It's not clear to me how long this period of exhaustion and vulnerability will last, but Janice will keep me posted and any time she updates me, I'll get the word out regarding what I've learned.

Cas, Byrdman, Don K, and I agreed on the trip back to Kellogg that Kirk is a battler -- always has been. We agreed that what lies ahead sounds rough, really rough. It's difficult to see our friend whom we've known most our life so ill. At the same time, it was encouraging that today (Monday, April 29), despite his fatigue and weakened condition, he was lucid, witty, aware, and conversational.

Janice and their children are nearby. He always has a family member in the room or in the waiting room or minutes away.  A family member sleeps in his room every night. Friends and family are dedicated to helping him through this. All of us who have suffered serious illness or injury know that having loved ones right there with us is strengthening, encouraging, uplifting, and healing.

2. Back in Kellogg, I popped myself a little bowl of popcorn, drank a couple cans of seltzer water, and took a nap in the living room chair. Soon, I heard voices outside the house. The lawn crew arrived and they efficiently mowed the lawns and did other clean up. Ethan also oversaw the wetting down of the lawns and then he fertilized them.

3. I found out Christy and Everett had a slow trip over Thompson Pass into Thompson Falls thanks to road work being done, but that they arrived at Quinn's Resort and were resting and getting ready for dinner.  I texted Carol and made sure it was all right if Charly stayed with her until the lawn crew was finished I went to the store. It was.

With Charly back home and the groceries put away, I retired for a while into the Vizio room and watched more brilliant acting and commentary in another episode of Playing Shakespeare, this one focused on the challenges of set speeches and soliloquies. I went to bed early and didn't quite finish the episode.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/28/19: Easter Continues, Breakfast, Busy Afternoon

1. As today's Eucharist got underway at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene, I got swept up in the spirit of Easter. I had stayed home last Sunday, mostly because I didn't want to leave Charly alone. In the Anglican tradition, Easter lasts for about 50 days, until Pentecost Sunday (June 2nd this year). This year, we have seven Sundays of Easter and the Scripture lessons, hymns, prayers, and homilies will all continue to reflect upon the days and weeks immediately following the resurrection. The first reading of each service usually comes from the Old Testament, but during Eastertide, the first reading will come from the Acts of the Apostles. The third, usually from an Epistle, will come from Revelation. These seven weeks of Easter dive into the post-resurrection world and the joy of this season reaches its penultimate height late in May with the Ascension and its greatest height on Pentecost Sunday with the coming of the Holy Spirit.

This is all to say that I am still sure I did the right thing staying home with Charly, even though I was disappointed to miss Easter services. But, in the Episcopal church, Easter continues and, today, as I said, I got swept right into the spirit and joy of Easter and look forward to continuing this experience over the next several weeks.

2. After church, I can't seem to resist going to the Breakfast Nook for breakfast. I enjoy having some time to myself outside of the car to reflect upon what's happened in church. So, today, I enjoyed some meditative time at the Breakfast Nook counter over a chicken fried steak even while the servers and bussers hustled out to the floor and back, delivering meals, retrieving dishes, and working to keep the numerous customers in the cafe happy.

3. Back home, I spent time on the text machine and the phone figuring out who is going to Missoula on Monday, April 29th, to visit Goose in the hospital. We have a plan. I then retired to the Vizio room and watched the episode of Playing Shakespeare that features David Suchet and Patrick Stewart each explaining and playing his interpretation of the character Shylock. I've watched this episode three or four times before. It's fascinating to listen to the actors detail how they understand Shylock and his place in the world of Venice and so watch them bring their analyses to life in acting the role.

Just before the episode ended, I headed over to Christy and Everett's for family dinner. Christy prepared a very refreshing gin and tonic with lemon juice and cucumber and then we enjoyed salmon with a fantastic Dijon mustard-based sauce, cauliflower au gratin, and a very tasty vegetable salad. Our conversation tonight was especially wide-ranging, including discussion of everything from the history of slavery to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird to open casket funerals and more topics beyond those. What an evening! Delicious food and free flowing conversation.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/27/19: Goose Update, Saltese and The Lounge, *Run Lola Run*

1. Jake picked me up around 8:30 and I joined him, Lars, Stu, and Ed for our trip to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula to see Goose (Kirk).  We headed out with uncertain expectations, not knowing if we'd get to see Goose in ICU, but figuring, at the very least, we could spend time with family members and learn more about Goose's condition.

We arrived and Kirk's brother, Keith, helped us each get a mask, and we entered Kirk's room.

Keith told us we'd arrived at a good time, that Goose was sitting up and talking.

Sure enough, Goose was upright, lucid, conversational, and totally aware of his situation; yes, his voice was weak, he was pale and tired, and sometimes it took him a few seconds to match his speech to his thoughts, but Goose the storyteller and conversationalist was right there for us to listen to and talk with. He's in tough shape, but was doing better than any of us expected.

Here's the condensed version of the story of what landed Goose in the hospital.

On Thursday, April 18th, Goose got out of bed and dropped to the floor. He couldn't get up and Janice was unable to help him to his feet. Janice called an ambulance which transported him from St. Regis to Missoula.

He was very ill with pneumonia, fluid around his heart, and, by Thursday, April 25th, tests revealed Goose has leukemia.

The doctors began an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. One drip goes 24/7. He gets another dosage during the day for three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Without the treatment, Goose wouldn't live very long.

Janice told us that by about Wednesday or Thursday of this coming week, things will be pretty rough for Kirk because of all the chemotherapy. His immune system will be shot. He'll be vulnerable to infection and worn out. It will be a very important time in his treatment.

Janice will contact me with any new developments and I will be the point person here in Kellogg for getting information out, through a combination of this blog, private messaging, text messaging, and emails.

Kirk has family with him all the time. Janice is always nearby. During our visit, Keith was at the hospital and so was Red, Goose's dad. I know other family members are in and out and Goose's son is making sure the store Kirk and Janice own in St. Regis is operating.

I've probably left some things out of this account, but I've told the main parts of Goose's story.

I am in the process of organizing a trip to Missoula with some guys on Monday.

Janice, Keith, and Red told Stu, Jake, Ed, Lars, and me that when we arrived to see Goose that it made him happier than they'd seen him all week, that our visit was a boost to his spirits.

Here's hoping that another visit on Monday will have a positive effect as well.

2. On the way back from Missoula, we stopped for a bite to eat at the Old Montana Bar in Saltese.
Back in Kellogg, Jake and I dropped in at the Inland Lounge to update Cas about Goose.

3. I was back home to stay by 6 o'clock. I fixed myself a rice, egg, broccoli, and mushroom scramble, nodded off for a bit, and then watched a short film about the making of one of my favorite movies, Run Lola Run. For several years, I started the spring term World Literature course with this movie. I loved hearing the director, Tom Tykwer, and Lola herself, Franka Potente, discuss the movie and, before I went to bed, I watched the movie's opening a couple or three times and reminisced about how beautifully this movie launched the World Lit course, setting the tone and raising central questions about modern literature.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/26/19: Goose, Burgers, Shakespeare

1. Cas texted me to call him as soon as I could. He told me he'd received a broken call Thursday night from Montana and he thought the caller had told him that Goose (KHS, Class of '72) was in ICU. He wondered if I'd heard anything. I'm Facebook friends with Goose's younger sister and I private messaged her and found out Goose has leukemia, double pneumonia, and congestive heart failure. I immediately texted a bunch of people. Friends rallied on Goose's behalf with shock and prayers. By early afternoon, Stu, Jake, Ed, Lars, and I had agreed to go over to Missoula together on Saturday (April 27) morning. Please keep Goose in your prayers. I'll do my best to update his situation, especially once I've returned to Kellogg.  (If you text, private message, or email me, I'll do my best to get back to you.)

2. Ed and I went to the Elks for Friday night burgers. Afterward, we had one drink at the Lounge. I'd been up the Lounge earlier when it opened to talk with Cas about Goose. I'll go back on Saturday and tell Cas about our trip.

3. I was back home by 6:00. On Thursday, my recent Amazon gift card purchase arrived: the four volume set of The Norton Shakespeare and the four DVD set covering nine episodes of the 1982 BBC production, Playing Shakespeare. I used to watch episodes of Playing Shakespeare online, but I think they disappeared (not sure), but having this remarkable series in my possession had me fired up. I watched three episodes today, one before going uptown at 3 and the other after returning home from burgers and the Lounge.

I love everything about Playing Shakespeare. I can't write everything I love. But, I will say that I could listen all day to John Barton and the Royal Shakespeare Actors in the program talk about and then demonstrate the relationship between Shakespeare's language, his verse, and how it helps the actor. The verse brings the characters alive, not only in providing the content of what the actors say, but the verse implicitly directs the actor with its particularity, its rhythm, sounds, meter (which words are stressed), images, and metaphors. The identity and intentions of the character grows organically out of the verse. The poetry is not what some call window dressing.

Again and again and again, when I taught Shakespeare, acted in plays, and when I taught poetry courses, I tried and tried to persuade my students to stop working on the poetry, stop struggling with it, and let the poetry work on them. I wasn't referring so much to the meaning of the verse, but the sound, or the music, of it: repeated vowel and consonant sounds connect with our emotions.  Repeated "k" sounds, for example, have a different emotional substance than repeated "s" sounds. Likewise, verse with repeated short "i" sounds is much lighter than verse that repeats long "o" sounds. If the reader of poetry or the Shakespeare actor can listen to the music of the verse and, in a sense, surrender to it, sense often follows. In a way, the actor isn't deciding how to play a role. The words and the poetry are directing her or him how to play it.

I used to see people I worked with in the classroom or in play rehearsal experience the breakthrough of recognizing the poetry as an ally rather than an obstacle to understanding.

It was thrilling.

Ever since leaving Eugene and in the time that has passed since I was last involved with Fools Haven, I've sorely missed the great companionship I had with fellow Shakespeare lovers -- whether in the classroom, over coffee, in the theater, or in casual conversations about the plays, productions of them, movies, and so on. I have never enjoyed Shakespeare in solitude with the same depth that I feel when I'm involved with others in studying, producing, or talking about Shakespeare's work. The closest I can come to experiencing being a part of Shakespeare community these days is through these DVDs of Playing Shakespeare and other things I can watch on tv like Looking for Richard or Ian McKellan's DVD Acting Shakespeare. Yes, at one level, I am passively taking in these works as I watch them on television, but, within myself, I have conversations. I occasionally say things out loud while watching. Sometimes, I read passages I hear in these programs out loud and try to bring them to life in my own very limited ways. It's all good.  Still, for me, Shakespeare's works are best experienced with others, not in isolation. That's where the real energy of their power is best experienced.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/25/19: Breakfast Burrito, Road Trip to Bonners Ferry, Charly is a Warrior

1. To prepare for a road trip to Bonners Ferry with Byrdman, I shot out to the Goose n Tree Fresh Baked Cafe in Pinehurst and enjoyed a breakfast burrito packed with chorizo, hash browns, scrambled eggs, spinach, cheddar cheese, and onions with delicious chili verde sauce poured over it.  This was my third or fourth different breakfast at Goose n Tree and everyone of them has been generous and delicious.

2. After a quick haircut at Supercuts, I swung by Byrdman's house and we piled in his Sube and headed north. Just after noon, we dropped into Laughing Dog Brewing in Ponderay.  We sat at the bar in Laughing Dog's handsome taproom and I enjoyed a pint and a half of Rocket Dog Rye IPA. It's been a long time since I've had Rye IPA and drinking this one took me back to Rockville, MD and trips to the 7 Locks Brewery where I enjoyed their Surrender Dorothy Rye IPA and to a night at the Old Line Bistro when 7 Locks was the featured brewery and I first tasted Surrender Dorothy and had great conversation with the people from 7 Locks who were just getting their brewery started.

After Laughing Dog, we continued to listen to the Classic Vinyl station on satellite radio and headed up to Bonners Ferry. The surrounding mountains against the blue sky made for spectacular vistas. Byrdman and I took seats at the bar at the Kootenai River Brewing. I ordered a pint of Osprey Pilsner, a light and much sweeter beer than the Rye IPA I'd enjoyed earlier and dove into a burger and fries. The large windows behind the bar provided a view of the Kootenai River and vehicles crossing the bridge over the river headed toward or coming down from British Columbia.

During the trip, Byrdman was telling me about Lou Williams performance off the bench for the Clippers the night before as the sixth man. I brought up the days John Havlicek was the sixth man for the Celtics and we talked at length about how much we enjoyed Havlicek (Hondo) and how Byrdman emulated him when he played basketball. It was an eerie coincidence, then, to arrive home and discover that John Havlicek passed away today. He was 79 and died from a bout of pneumonia.

3. Back in Kellogg, I went to Carol's and picked up Charly and Carol told me about what a good day Charly had enjoyed, especially when Carol spent time in the back yard and Charly stayed out with her.  Charly is a brave and determined aging dog. Her hind quarters are giving way, making it difficult for her to walk on bare surfaces in the house. But even with whatever pain or inconvenience she is suffering, she loves to roam outside and she gamely drags herself up the back porch stairs. Yes, Maggie was a warrior in her last days. Charly is a warrior, too. I love her strong will. She's a quieter dog than Maggie was. She was always the beta to Maggie's alpha. Now, however, I'm seeing strength in Charly beyond what I've seen before. It's impressive. It moves me.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/19: Painting the Upstairs, DC Brau Memories, Great Guys at Corby's

1. A year ago, I thought I'd work on painting the upstairs of the house. I thought maybe I could get some help, maybe family members, but I never did it. A couple of weeks ago, I confirmed with Shawn that I'd like him to paint the upstairs and today his two man crew, Mason and Pablo, got started on the project, beginning with the trim.  When it comes time to roll paint on the walls, I'll pitch in and help paint. I'm very happy to get this project going and, as always, enjoy having Shawn back in the house again.

2. I swung by Byrdman's house around 3:45 and we rocketed straight to Post Falls Brewing, a brewery we'd never visited. We'd wanted to go to Downdraft, but discovered online that it's closed permanently. We sat at the Post Falls Brewing bar and I immediately zeroed in on The Stallion Pt 4, a hazy Double IPA, but was cautious when I saw it weighed in at 9.6 ABV. The server told me it came in a 12 oz pour and I asked him if I could get a smaller size. To my delight, he said, "Yeah. Six ounces." Perfect.

I haven't been drinking much craft beer lately. When I put this beer to my nose, I loved its hoppy, citrus-y aroma and, even before sipping it, I experienced a mild euphoria. Now, I might be nuts. I might have been projecting my desires onto this beer. But, when I took my first sip, this beer was the closest to tasting like one of the beers I most loved on the east coast, D C Brau's On the Wings of Armageddon. In fact, my first taste transported me to that aged little strip mall on Bladensburg Rd NE with the post office and Harper Macaw chocolate factory and the short downhill driveway to the back and the Metro trains running on the other side of a cyclone fence and DC Brau's concrete tasting room.

Byrdman enjoyed his So Majestical Pale Ale and we might have stuck around for a second, might even have ordered a pizza from the food truck right outside the door, but, we had an important appointment to meet not far away.

3.  We drove to Corby's.

The boys of the KHS Class of '71 were having a session and Byrdman and I were joining in.

The turnout was awesome: Beak, Mac, Ike, Dewey, Big Al, Randy, Chet, and Rossi from the Class of '71. Byrdman represented the Class of '70. Hink was the Class of '73 ambassador. Mayo came, too, a Class of '75 (I think) delegate. Lars, Stu, and I put our best selves forward for the Class of '72.

It was great couple of hours of stories, laughter, getting caught up with some guys I hadn't seen for many, many years and the ones I've seen more recently or see regularly.

I'm grateful that when Mac and Beak get these sessions organized, they include Byrdman in the invitation that goes out and that Byrdman always lets me know when they happen.

It's a great bunch of guys.

I went easy on the beer. It was still fairly light out when I hit the road to return to Kellogg and I arrived back safely and fixed myself a rice bowl with shrimp, broccoli, shredded cabbage, and mushrooms upon my arrival, a tasty end to a satisfying day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/19: Bicycle Ride, Shakespeare's Birthday, *Hell or High Water*

1.  I vaulted on to my bicycle, hit the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, and pedaled to the western city limits of Smelterville. After a period of rest and hydration on a bench, I returned home. I recalled a visit I made to Kellogg about sixteen years ago. I had purchased a very inexpensive used bicycle and every morning I rode it Johnny's Bar in Smelterville for morning coffee with Wayne Benson, Merv Hill (may they rest in peace), and other men so Wayne, in particular, could spend about an hour picking on me. Sixteen years ago, I was riding my bicycle in Eugene quite a bit.  I remember how I could fly on the trail between Kellogg and Smelterville. If I flew today, I flew like an aged cargo jet that had been packed beyond capacity.

2. Over the weekend, I redeemed an Amazon gift card I've had since Christmas. I purchased a new Norton edition of the collected plays, a DVD set of the BBC series Playing Shakespeare, and the book that grew out of this series. Today was Shakespeare's 455th birthday. The book arrived and I read random passages, delighting in John Barton's analysis of them, delighting in what these analyses mean for actors playing the roles or giving voice to the sonnets.

I also remembered Shakespeare's birthday in 1997. That year, it fell on a Wednesday. Spring quarter was in about its third or fourth week. I suggested to my Shakespeare class, which met on Wednesday nights from 7-10, that we have a Shakespeare birthday party after class and a member of the class, Scott, volunteered to host the party at his house. I remember bringing a six pack or two of Rogue's Shakespeare Stout. The party was a blast.  We'd been doing some things in class to build a sense of unity among the students, but nothing we did in class created a sense of togetherness like that party.

3.  Something I read a few years ago brought the movie, Hell or High Water, to my attention and this evening I watched it. It tells the story of brothers who, out of financial desperation, undertake a series of bank robberies. A Texas Ranger, about to retire, played by Jeff Bridges, heads the investigation into the crimes, along with his partner. The way Bridges gives full life to the weariness, savvy, irreverence, deceptive intelligence, persistence, and grief of Marcus Hamilton captivated me, led me to think that watching Bridges fully occupy this complex character was a fitting way to spend the evening of Shakespeare's birthday.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/19: I Bought a Bicycle, Burt Update, Pro Wrestling Documentary

1. I slipped on my back pack and walked over to Kellogg's Excelsior Cycle & Sport Shop and within minutes I was test riding a used comfort hybrid, a former rental bike.  I enjoyed my ride. Mike Doma assured me that it was suitable for paved trails, like the Trail of the CdAs, as well as the Hiawatha Trail. I bought the bicycle, a lock, light, pants straps, and a helmet.

I am in lousy riding shape, as expected. I'm also not very limber. Before long, I hope I'll build up the strength I'll need to ride up moderate inclines. I know right where I'll go where I can ride up a couple of inclines in relative obscurity to help get myself conditioned. Luckily, much of the riding I want to do day to day is on fairly level terrain and I'll work on building some stamina.

2. Carol updated Christy and me about Burt Roberts. Today, the hospital had Burt transported home.  Burt will be in his most familiar environment for the final stage of his life, a development we might all wish for for our loved ones and ourselves.

3. Cas sent me a text today, telling me he was confident that I was one of 3000 people who owned a copy of former professional wrestler and movie star (Escape from New York) Ox Baker's cookbook. He recommended that I watch the documentary film, 350 Days, a look at professional wrestling in (mostly) the 1970s and 1980s and encouraged me not to be discouraged in my modest culinary pursuits by Ox Baker's performance in the kitchen during the movie.

I watched this movie this evening. It was fascinating. I enjoyed the stories the wrestlers told, but, even more, I enjoyed learning more about these wrestlers' athletic prowess and their acting/theatrical abilities, their skill at executing the choreography of the matches. 

Learning more about the physical toll that performing 350 shows a year took on these wrestlers' shoulders, knees, muscles, hips, noses, and the rest of their bodies was sobering. So was hearing about the loneliness of their day to day existence on the road and how these men and one woman (Wendi Richter) dealt with long separations from family and with the constant availability of alcohol, drugs, and sex.

Remove the mask of each of these wrestlers' ring persona, and what this movie shows us is that these performers were, for the most part, intelligent, self-aware, self-examining, articulate, and knowledgeable, not only about their profession, but about life outside the ring and the arena.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/19: Charly the Resurrection Corgi, The Who and Shakespeare, Easter Family Dinner

1.  The sun greeted Kellogg on this Easter Sunday morning. It resurrected Charly. She's been inside a lot recently. The days have been gray and showery. She's spent quite a bit of time lying at my ankles, often sleeping. With the sun warming the back yard, I left the back door open and Charly wandered out and in and out again. She walked the circumference of the yard, barked at Bernie and Grizz in Jane's yard and Tucker and Riley in Christy and Everett's yard. She sniffed new life springing up from the ground. She rested a few times, stretching out on the grass and resting on the porch a couple of times.

If I had gone to CdA to worship, I would have had to bring Charly inside and close the back door. I couldn't do it. I was too happy to see Charly perking up. She was the happiest I've seen her in a while.

Back home after family dinner at Carol and Paul's, I once again opened the back door. It was still light outside and Charly trotted back outside. Bark, bark. Sniff, sniff.

I came out on the back porch to check on Charly. She saw me and, for the first time in weeks, she broke into a gallop -- not easy to do with her ailing hips and rear legs -- and didn't crawl up the back porch steps, but bounded up the stairs. My heart leaped up.

Easter Day celebrates new life. Charly felt renewed today. She was more fully alive. While I would have loved to have celebrated Easter at St. Luke's Church, within myself I meditated not only upon the  resurrection story of the gospels, but also on the resurrection that is shot through everything right now: tulips and daffodils popping out of the ground, the hours of daylight expanding, the grass of my lawns growing again and getting mowed for the first time today, the arrival of spring.

2. Back in the fall of 1974, I was a student in Prof. Dean Ebner's Shakespeare course at Whitworth College. It took me a week or two to acclimate my mind to reading Shakespeare's poetry, but once I got it, I existed in a week by week mind blowing experience. It grew into the most stimulating and important course I'd ever completed.

I was highly motivated to succeed in this course. When it came time to study for the course's final exam, I isolated myself in my dorm room, put on headphones, and reviewed my class notes and reread passages from the play with the Who's album, Who's Next roaring through headphones.

I linked certain cuts to individual plays, often irrationally. I mean the only connection between "Baba O'Reilly" and King Lear is the metaphor of the wasteland. King Lear roams and rants and come to grips with the past callousness of his reign and his soul on the wasteland of a barren heath; in the song "Baba O'Reilly, Pete Townsend laments wasted lives and wasted opportunities of his generation. But, for me that night, as Pete Townsend hammered one "Baba O'Reilly" power chord after another, the poetry and events of King Lear sank deeper and deeper into my mind and spirit.

Likewise, when Roger Daltry cuts loose with his primal scream in Won't Get Fooled Again, I remember connecting that scream to Othello, who got terribly fooled, and I imagined Othello wailing his deep sorrow and regret for having murdered his wife -- I wished that sometime earlier in the play he had realized he was being tricked by Iago and that he had resisted the villain, not getting fooled again. It would have wrecked the play, though....

This all came back to me this afternoon when I watched Classic Album's treatment of Who's Next, a fascinating examination of the album's music, Pete Townsend's vision as a songwriter, and the back stories informing what brought this album into being.

3. Carol and Paul hosted Easter dinner this afternoon at 4:00. Over an Italian spritzer cocktail, Paul updated us on the latest news about his father, Burt Roberts. It's possible that Burt will be released from the hospital soon, taken home by ambulance, and situated in a hospital bed in the living room so that he and his family can share in the very last stage of his life in his home.  I hope this works out, but as of Sunday afternoon, it was a tentative plan, depending on Burt's condition on Monday.

Carol prepared a superb Mediterranean dinner. In celebration of the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, Carol prepared a lamb dinner featuring a very tasty chickpea and cucumber and feta cheese salad, generous pieces of perfectly seasoned and prepared lamb, a garlic-y, blue cheese green bean side, and a terrific rice dish. Carol rounded out our meal with a light, refreshing, and very pleasing dessert: Keto Strawberry Trifle.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/19: *3 Women*, Relaxing at the Lounge, Leadman Larry Curry

1.  Several years ago, I watched a bunch of Robert Altman movies via Netflix DVDs and I'm trying to remember if one of them was 3 Women.  I'm fairly sure I watched it, but I wanted to make sure and quite a while back I ordered it from Netflix (well, DVD.com) and, finally, this morning, after a long wait, the time felt right to watch it again.

I knew as the disc disappeared into the DVD player that this movie was unusual -- I couldn't remember exactly what made it so, but I knew that I wanted to watch it when I felt well rested and focused.

By his own admission, as a director, Robert Altman isn't very committed to story telling. Instead,  his moving pictures tend toward being a series of impressionistic episodes loosely connected, working to evoke responses from the viewer that arise from the movie's visual text and sounds and less from getting involved in a developing story.

By setting this movie in the heat and expanse of desert land near Palm Springs, Altman creates cinematic images and impressions of open physical space, sparsely occupied. The desert gives us an external picture of an internal reality existing in two of the movie's main characters, Millie (Shelly Duvall) and Pinky (Sissy Spacek). Both characters are empty inside and look to sources outside of themselves in order to create what turn out to be insecure and malleable identities.

Millie looks to magazines like Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan to shape her sense of self and so he lives a color coordinated life in which her car, her apartment's decor, and her clothes are all yellow. She talks obsessively about recipes from these magazines and how long they take to prepare and deludes herself into believing that people love her dinner parties (that never happen) featuring pigs in a blanket and cheese out of a can on Sociables topped with an olive. She also talks obsessively about her romantic encounters, but they are ones she's read about and they never happen; she goes so far as to get dressed up and leave the apartment to go on dates that don't exist.

When we meet Pinky, she is a blank slate, a child-woman, and she looks more and more to Millie as a source of her identity and, as the movie develops, conflict develops when she gradually steals Millie's identity.

The third woman, Willie (Janice Rule), doesn't speak until the very end of the movie. She's a muralist, married to a philandering faux cowboy, a washed up stunt man, and the two of them own the bar, Dodge City, where Millie hangs out and they own the apartment complex, Purple Sage, where Millie and Pinky live.

I experienced the first half of the movie as social satire, taking us into the emptiness of kitsch and the decline of American culture, made visible by the deterioration of the Dodge City bar and its surroundings, the men's obsessions with motorcycles and guns, and by the greed of the husband and wife owners of the geriatric spa where Pinky and Millie work.

But, the second half of the movie takes a turn toward the Jungian and I began to realize that the movie's recurrent images of water and desert and the disturbing murals Willie painted were all contributing to Altman's exploration of individuation, of whether authenticity existed beneath Millie's persona and Pinky's, and, if it did, how it might be experienced.

I ran the movie a second time shortly after noon and listened to Robert Altman's commentary. He claims not to be conversant with Jung (or Freud for that matter), but talked a lot about how the first inklings of this movie came to him in a dream and how viewers might experience the movie as a kind of dreamscape. Jung's understanding of human psychology includes his idea of the collective unconscious, that there exists deep within each of us a shared collection of stories, images, and models called archetypes (they often appear in dreams) that influence human behavior and can help us understand ourselves and our lives. In his commentary on the movie, without using Jungian language, Altman asserts that the see things this way, too, that at some deeper psychological level, we humans are not as unique from one another as we'd like to think.

He underscores this way of seeing things as the movie concludes and as we see how the episodes depicted in this movie lead the three women to where they are at the end.

I'm not going to say where they are. I don't want to reveal the conclusion nor do I want to say how it came about.

I can recommend you see this movie only if you want to enter into a world that is surrealistic, dream-like, illogical in many ways, and much more committed to questions than to answers.

For many, its oddness is a source of beauty and magnificence.

Others feel it's an endurance test and wonder how they ever made it through its two hours.

I understand the second response, but I lean more toward the first.

2.  I joined two fantasy baseball leagues when invited to do so by Cas and Seth at the Inland Lounge. One league features weekly head to head matches between league members and this week I have been getting crushed by Ginger, a Lounge regular. After a shopping trip to Yoke's this afternoon, I stopped in at the Lounge for an hour and a half or so and, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, sat next to Ginger. Ginger enjoys acting like she knows nothing about baseball and that she picks players for her teams based on silly things ("I love to pick players whose names I can't pronounce. It works for me!").  We had a few laughs about that and before long Tracy arrived with a grocery bag containing something and it turned out to be an Elvis whiskey decanter and a Flintstone glass. It was a gift for Scott Wise in tribute to a song he loves, that he played on the juke box, but that I didn't know and I don't recall what it was.  I'll have to check back into this.

3. At Yoke's, I had a good visit with Larry Curry, who was the coach of our Wildcat basketball team two of the years I was on the team (1969-70; 1970-71).

Coach Curry was wearing Leadman Triathlon gear. Sure enough, he was a part of a team. One guy skiied, another biked, and Coach Curry was the team's runner.

The running part of the course is over 4.5 miles long.

Larry Curry is 80 years old.

His teammates talked him into running one last time as an 80 year old.

And he made it. He looked tired.  And, now, he was waiting for some food at the Yoke's deli counter and was pretty emphatic when he said to me:

"That's it. I'm not doing it again!"

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/19: Walking: No Bike Yet, Burgers at the Elks, Back to VH1's *Classic Albums*

1. I want to test ride my new bicycle in sunny, not rainy, weather. Rain was nearby all morning, either falling or about to. So, I put off buying my new bicycle. Sunny weather is coming soon. But, the showers, oddly enough, didn't deter me from walking almost three miles today when I strolled uptown to make a bank deposit and stopped off at Yoke's to purchase a bag of food for Charly.

2. Ed picked me up a while later. We waltzed into the Elks. We sat down at the bar. I bought a book of Elks Roundup tickets from Ed and we each had a drink before settling in at a table for a burger and fries. Afterward, we popped into the Inland Lounge long enough to have one drink and for me to bewail my outcast state in the two fantasy baseball leagues Cas and I are in. I'm getting crushed.

3. Earlier in the week, I was trying to remember the name of a VH1 program I'd come across on YouTube a few years ago that featured interviews with band members and sound engineers focused for about an hour on the making of one album. Tonight, out of curiosity, I did a Tom Petty search on my very smart television and one of the results was a look at Petty's Damn the Torpedoes on the program Classic Albums.

That's it. I used to love watching episodes of this show on my laptop.

I did a "Classic Albums" search on my very smart television and the results promise me many hours of viewing pleasure.

Charly and I watched three episodes this evening.

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours  

Steely Dan: Aja

Deep Purple: Machine Head

In all three of these episodes, the band members and production guys were looking back about twenty, thirty years or more as they told stories and discussed lyrics. At a studio soundboard they not only played parts of many tracks from the albums, but also isolated different parts at the so that viewers could hear, for example, a bass line or a drum track or the vocal harmonies. Each episode features footage of the band performing and interviews with journalists and, sometimes, musicians from outside the band.

I loved all three of these episodes, but I especially enjoyed the study of Deep Purple's Machine Head.

I don't know when the interviews with the band took place, but Jon Lord died in 2012. In their maturity, in this episode, the band members are calm, quiet spoken, complex in their intelligence, and offer illuminating insights about their work. I especially enjoyed listening to Jon Lord and reliving the scintillating impact of his work on the keyboards to the textures of Deep Purple. Lord was fluent in many musical languages and brought his vast knowledge and great instincts to bear on every Deep Purple song, enriching and deepening and, sometimes, tempering the band's heavy metal sound.

Many more of these Classic Album episodes are available. Next up? I will revisit the episode focused on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/19: Home with Charly, Fish Soup, *The Magnificent Ambersons*

1.  I decided to stay home today with Charly. Several people have commented to me that Charly could have a tough time for a while now that Maggie is gone. Charly has always wanted to be physically close to Debbie and me. During these several months that Debbie's been working in Eugene, Charly has always followed me wherever I've gone. She lies down near my ankles when I watch television. She is always close to the bathroom door when I'm in there. When I do my writing in the living room chair, she's always nearby. When I work in the kitchen, I'm usually stepping over Charly who is almost always right at my ankles when I cook. Whether she has wanted to be near me even more since Maggie died, I can't say, but instead of going to the bike shop today or going out for a walk and taking pictures, I stayed home, hoping my company was a comfort to Charly and helped her feel a little more secure.

2. Charly was positioned perfectly at my ankles to eat bits of raw broccoli and cauliflower that I dropped on the floor as I created a soup without a recipe today. I thawed a quart of crab stock I'd made and added sliced or chopped sweet peppers, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower to it. To make it a fish soup, I added about eight shrimps. I barely seasoned this soup because of all the seasoning I used when I made the crab stock, but I did add a bit of salt and a little Old Bay seasoning. I ate one bowl in the afternoon and when I ate the second bowl in the evening, I added rice I'd cooked for curry the other night into the soup when I warmed it up.  Everything worked.

3. Until late this afternoon and early this evening, I had never watched Orson Welles' 1942 movie, The Magnificent Ambersons. When it was over, my first two thoughts were that I wished it had been a longer movie. I thought its story line was compelling, but I wanted it to be developed more fully; I also thought the editing was choppy and that last scene or two of the movie seemed incongruous with the rest of the movie.

After I finished watching it, I did some reading about The Magnificent Ambersons and I learned that, indeed, when the RKO Studio prepared the movie for release, about fifty minutes of the movie were edited out and are gone forever -- in other words, there cannot be a remade, less choppy and more fully developed version that we, today, would call a Director's Cut. Moreover, Orson Welles did not direct those closing scenes. They were produced and tacked on the movie's conclusion by the studio.

One day, I am going to try to get a hold of the Criterion Collection copy of The Magnificent Ambersons which includes interviews with film historians and with Welles himself, among other features, and see if I can learn more about the difference between Welles' conception of this movie and how it was ransacked and altered by the RKO studio. I have already found articles online that address these questions. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/19: Car Shopping, *Looking for Richard*, Simple Meal in a Bowl

1. While drinking coffee, responding to the many kind condolences friends sent me in the wake of losing Maggie, and deciding what to do today, Stu messaged me with an invitation to join him and Ed to shop for cars in CdA. Ed called me to confirm that I wanted to go. I drove out to his place, he drove us to CdA, and we met Stu at CdA Honda. Ed talked with a sales guy, got a feel for what's available and what the cars cost. We went to Sweeto Burrito for lunch and then to Parker Toyota where Ed talked with a sales guy, got a feel for what's available, and what cars cost. He did exactly what he set out to do: stop in at one or two places and do some preliminary looking around.

2. Back home, I plunged back into the world of Shakespeare's history plays and watched Al Pacino's documentary film, Looking for Richard (1996), in which he dives into Richard III in a variety of ways. Pacino interviews people on the street, a wide variety of actors, and a few scholars about the power of Shakespeare as a poet, dramatist, and intellectual; he assembles a cast and films them in round table readings and discussions of the play; he films the acting out of about a dozen or so scenes from the play. Pacino is looking for those political and philosophical aspects of this old story that are always contemporary; he is looking for how actors can speak and perform Shakespeare's poetry and tell the story of this play in ways that are immediately accessible to contemporary audiences.

This movie appeared in Eugene in the fall of 1996 at the same time Baz Luhrmann's Verona Beach, gangland movie Romeo + Juliet came out. I was teaching the Wednesday night Shakespeare class at LCC at that time. The works of Shakespeare occupied my entire being, my mind, my heart, and my soul. I'm almost positive I saw Romeo + Juliet and Looking for Richard on consecutive evenings. I went by myself. Both movies staggered me. I loved their energy. Both movies felt daring to me, full of emotion, full of love for Shakespeare's artistry, driven by the desire to enflame Richard III and Romeo and Juliet with passions that were both enduring and that were of the 1990s.

I've had this experience a few times in my life where I went to movies by myself on consecutive days or saw multiple movies on the same day on the big screen and was so stimulated I could barely sleep once I got home. I had that experience in the fall of 1996 watching Looking for Richard and Romeo + Juliet.

That was nearly twenty-three years ago. My passions have cooled. I'm no longer submerged with other teachers, close friends, local actors and directors, and students in the deep waters of Shakespeare's works. My experiences with Shakespeare now occur in my t.v. room, streaming Shakespeare productions.

I feel faint stirrings of the invigoration I felt when younger, but I think those feelings arose largely out of being in the company of others who were studying, teaching, or performing Shakespeare. I loved watching Looking for Richard again.  I'm enjoying myself right now writing about it, remembering when Shakespeare occupied my life. But whether it's worship or Shakespeare or loving sports or remembering back to working at the Zinc Plant or talking about bygone days in Kellogg, there's nothing like having people around to share experiences with. I miss being in the company of fellow lovers of Shakespeare. It's that simple.

3.  That breakfast burrito I ate for lunch at Sweeto Burrito filled me up for most of the day. But, this evening, I got hungry again. I had leftover tofu cubed and drained from when I fixed green curry on Tuesday. I also had plenty of leftover rice. I have frozen shrimp on hand. I made myself a simple bowl of rice, tofu, and shrimp. I seasoned it with soy sauce and was very satisfied with how tasty and simple this little meal was.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/19: Keeping Busy, Green Curry, Empty House

1. In the house, the air was heavy with mourning today. We lost Maggie. Christy lost one of her cats, Lily, overnight.

I thought of the day Dad died and how almost the minute after the funeral home people removed him from the house, Mom went into their bedroom and started cleaning, taking the sheets off of Dad's bed, remaking it, putting away the jar of skin moisturizer at his bedside, and asking me to remove the television from the room.

Mom dealt with her grief by getting busy, cleaning things up, staying in motion.

I caught myself thinking of Mom when Dr. Cook left the house with Maggie resting on his shoulder. The first thing I did was gather up the sheet I'd put over our living room rug so shield it from Maggie's bleeding and I gathered up the towels I'd had on the bed and in the living room for the same reason and headed straight for the washing machine. Debbie wanted to left alone in her grief and so I performed tasks before we went to the Lounge.

I carried forward in the same spirit today. My old HP laptop must be cabled to the router in order for me to get internet service and so I retired into the tv room and edited the pictures I took on Monday, published some of them in my blog post, and put all of them on my flickr page. Later, I drove down to the animal clinic and paid for Dr. Cook's visit and his services and for the cremation of Maggie.

Maggie came from dust and to dust she will return. Maggie loved the back yard. When Debbie is done with her job in Eugene, Maggie's ashes will become a part of the back yard, of the lawn she loved to gallop on and the garden spots she used to love to sniff around in. Maggie seemed to find her own kind of solace along with great joy in the back yard. It is fitting that these grounds will be the place where her ashes will forever rest, feeding the very ground that nurtured her whenever she visited Kellogg and in these last eighteen months since we moved here.

2.  In keeping with wanting to stay busy, I fixed Debbie an afternoon meal before she drove to Spokane to fly to Eugene.  I made a pot of rice and cooked up a green curry with ginger, cilantro, tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, and cauliflower. It worked, both as a means of giving me a job to do in my sadness and as a meal Debbie enjoyed.

3. Debbie left.

Maggie is gone.

Suddenly this little house felt spacious, empty.

When Debbie is away, Charly never wants to be on the living room love seat where Debbie knits and works on school business, often with Maggie and Charly at her side. But, today, after Debbie drove away, Charly signaled to me that she wanted to be where Debbie had been. I lifted her onto the love seat. She stayed there for three or four hours until we went to bed. 

Eating the rest of the curry I had fixed and going to indiewire.com and reading about overlooked independent films from the 1970s helped alleviate the feeling of emptiness in the house. Later, Debbie texted me, insisting I go out asap and buy a bicycle, a purchase I've been talking a lot about over the last few months, but haven't acted on. I'll do that and I look forward to riding on the Trail of the Cd'As and to returning to the Hiawatha Trail when it reopens.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/19: Maggie's Last Day, Wake at the Lounge, Photo Stroll

1.  The cancerous masses that had been surgically removed about six months from the area where Maggie's tail would be, if she had a tail,  had come back. I learned this when I took the dogs in for a check up six weeks ago. A lump on Maggie's chest suggested that other cancers were inside her. Maggie is fifteen years old. Debbie and I agreed, no more surgery. While living alone with the dogs, I would continue to give Maggie the good life she had known all these years and do all I could to keep her from suffering. Through the month of March and on into April, Maggie's condition declined slowly. Last week, about Thursday, she slowed down almost to a stop. She had stopped barking. Her sense of duty to protect the house, to alert me if a dog walked by or the mail deliverer arrived, was gone. Always eager to eat, Maggie's appetite started to come and go. She was spending several consecutive hours lying in a chair or on a rug, sleeping or staring, often listlessly.  When she went outside to do her business, many of her efforts to pee or move her bowels were unsuccessful.

Over the last four or five days, Maggie perked up from time to time. She ate out of my hand. She went outside and sniffed a little and, if she were human, I'd say she was being nostalgic, gazing over the yard she loved so much.

Debbie's arrival on Sunday evening perked Maggie up. She licked Debbie, followed her around the house some, and spent less time lying on the rug at the foot of the bed.

Dr. Cook came to our house on April 15th some time after 4:30. He was more pastoral than clinical as he got down on the living room floor with Maggie. He agreed that the time was right to end Maggie's life, that surgery or medication might extend her life, but that, before long, Maggie would be right back to where she was today. Maggie was not suffering acute pain right now and we could help her not have to experience such suffering.

Dr. Cook listened to Debbie talk about what a great dog Maggie had been, how Debbie brought her home in Eugene in 2004 in the aftermath of Molly's camp stove accident that had burned her so badly. Debbie deemed Maggie her healing dog.

Soon the time came to put Maggie down. With patience, kindness, and care, Dr. Cook explained what he would be doing. He sedated Maggie. We talked more about Maggie while waiting for the sedation to take hold. Dr. Cook administered the injection that stopped Maggie's heart. He paused, put his stethoscope to her chest.

"Her heart has stopped. She's gone."

Dr. Cook didn't hide Maggie with a blanket or a sheet, nor did he put her in a box.

He put her over his shoulder and, with great dignity, took her to his vehicle, and left.

2. Before Dr. Cook arrived, Debbie wished that the Inland Lounge were open. I replied, "I'll get a hold of Cas. I think he'd open if for us."

I was right.

I texted Cas that we were about to have Maggie put down and wondered if there were any chance he could open the Lounge.

"I'll be there."

And he was and so was Tracy.

About 30 or 40 minutes after Dr. Cook left, Debbie said she was ready to go uptown.

It was perfect.

Bob and Tracy greeted us compassionately. We talked a bit about losing Maggie and, before long, Cas and I shot the breeze at the bar and Debbie and Tracy did the same at a table.

I'd say the four of us had a spontaneous wake, mourning and relishing Maggie's life and the lives of dogs, how much we love dogs as companions and how painful it is when our dogs die. Our wake was about mourning and relishing the death and life of  Maggie and the many dogs who had preceded her. It was about our love for the dogs in our lives right now.

And it was about friendship. Cas and Tracy opened up the Lounge to us and it was just what we needed, a time to mourn, to be comforted,  a time to tell stories, a time to grieve and yak and laugh and drink and eat some Mexican take out, to experience what had come to an end and what it is in our lives that lives on.

3.  Earlier in the afternoon, I drove out to the Pinehurst trailhead of the the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and walked for about two and a half miles, nearly 6000 steps and took some pictures.

Over the last several days, I just couldn't leave the house much. I just couldn't leave Maggie. It probably wasn't rational, but it's the way I am in these situations.

With Debbie here, I was happy that I could get out and walk and take some pictures, to know I was rusty, but to get back into the swing of it again.

I walked to the gravel pit near Enaville and returned to Pinehurst. I took black and white pictures walking west and took pictures in color coming back. I studied the fifty-one pictures I took and learned a lot from the mistakes I made. Here are some of the black and white photographs. I've decided that none of the pictures I took in color are worth posting here. I'll post them on flickr where I post every picture I take without judgment or discretion.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/19: Historic Masters, Maggie's Day, Food for Debbie

1. Fitting right into the rhythm of how I live my days, because of the threat of serious afternoon storms, the people who run the Masters golf tournament started Sunday's competition early in the morning, with players playing in threesomes and half the field playing the second nine first and finishing on the first nine.

CBS's coverage began at 6 a.m. and I was up, cup of coffee in hand, ready from the get go to watch this final round, happy it was starting so early.

I didn't really care who won. I was glued to the Vizio for the fourth straight day because I love watching these players contend with the magnificent Augusta golf course, with its blooming azaleas and other spring blossoms, hills, sloping fairways, very tricky contoured putting surfaces, water hazards on the second nine, and its often unpredictable weather conditions, especially the wind.

Today's final round was spectacular, not only because of the thrilling golf played by competitors up and down the leader board, but because I love seeing highly dramatic, historic, transcendent moments transpire in sporting events.  Today that happened.

Tiger Woods is forty-three years old. Over the last several years, his body has gone on strike, revolted against the wear and tear Tiger put on it through his aggressive golf swing and his penchant for extreme physical workouts -- he often acted like he wanted to be a member of a special forces military unit like the Navy SEALS. He's been through four knee surgeries and four back surgeries.  There was a time about two years ago when it looked like he'd never play golf again.

Tiger Woods last won a major golf tournament in 2008; he last won the Masters in 2005.

On the second nine today, when four of his competitors struck balls into the water on the twelfth hole, Tiger Woods seized the moment, moved into a tie for the lead, and then surged ahead on the following holes. After a birdie on 16 and a par on 17, it looked like Tiger Woods would win this tournament if he could just bogey the 18th.

And he did.

The gallery's response was earth shaking as roars pulsed through the hills and vales of Augusta National.

At Bernhard Langer's urging, a handful of past Masters winners put on their green winner's jackets, left the locker room, and came out to the course to congratulate Tiger Woods (I've never seen this happen before), as did other guys who had just played in this tournament.

It was among the most jubilant scenes I've ever seen on or near the playing field of any sporting event.

I couldn't stop my tears. Over the years, I've admired Tiger Woods' prowess on the golf course. He's inspired my awe and I've enjoyed witnessing many of his accomplishments, but I never felt the emotional connection to him that I have to other great performers, whether athletes or actors.

But, the utter improbability of Tiger winning this Masters, knowing what he had overcome, and seeing his fellow players congratulate him and greet his mother and children got to me.

I love to watch tennis, golf, baseball, and basketball for the thrill of seeing climactic moments unfold. Not all of them are historic -- it might just be a game winning shot at the end of a Big East college basketball game between two middle of the pack teams or a final strikeout in a close game between two baseball teams in September who are not even in the pennant race any longer.

But sometimes these climactic moments are historic in their sport.

Tiger Woods' win today was historic. It was epic. It will be legendary.

To me, it was unimaginable. I didn't think I'd ever see Tiger Woods win another major golf tournament, let alone a Masters.

But, he did.

2. I texted Debbie this morning with my observations of Maggie. I told her that Maggie's attempts to eliminate waste had been either unsuccessful or very minimally successful. She was listless much of the morning, hardly moving for six hours while in the chair in the tv room.

She wouldn't eat food out of her bowl, but ate it out of my hand.

Debbie texted me late in the morning that she was flying into Spokane, renting a car, and would be in Kellogg around 7:30 or so.

And that's what happened.

Maggie was a little more active in the afternoon. She spent some time outside. She has always loved the back yard here. For about a half an hour today, she found a spot just off the deck and lay there, gazing out over the grass, looking to me like she was reminiscing, enjoying the memories of wandering around this yard, exploring, sniffing, galloping, and, always on alert, barking.

3. I thawed out a quart of turkey stock I made in November. I cooked up a chopped onion and some finely chopped garlic. I added the stock to it along with sliced mushrooms, halved baby carrots, chopped broccoli florets, and chopped cauliflower. I seasoned this soup with salt and pepper and, along with warmed up leftover chicken pieces and rice that I made yesterday, had food ready for Debbie to eat when she arrived early this evening.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/19: Maggie Update, Making Up a Dinner, Andrew Wyeth and Dorothy Bohm Documentaries

1. The morning started out slow for Maggie. She wasn't interested in food. I put her in the second tv room chair that she likes so I could watch her while I watched the exciting third round of Masters. As the day progressed, Maggie perked up a bit. She ate. I fed her out of my hand to begin and then she ate more out of her bowl. She ate again a dinner time, right out of her bowl.  She drank quite a bit of water and she went outside a few times, sometimes able to get herself back in the house after going up the back porch, sometimes needing my help. Late in the afternoon and early in the evening, I observed that Maggie couldn't relieve herself when she tried.  I'll call the vet first thing Monday morning when the clinic opens for the week, get her in, and see what's next.

2.  Early in the afternoon, I took my tablet into the kitchen, set it up so I could watch and listen to the golf tournament while doing some food preparation.  In one of the salad dressing decanters, I made up a marinade, with no recipe and no measuring cups or spoons. I combined vegetable oil, sesame oil, champagne vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger, garlic powder, and chili paste. I combined this mixture with chicken thighs and put them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a couple or three hours. I poured the marinade over several boneless chicken thighs and baked them in the oven. Meanwhile, I fixed some jasmine rice and stir fried some broccoli florets and sliced mushrooms for a while and then steamed them. When the chicken was done baking, I sliced up a couple of the thighs into cubes, put the cubes over rice in a bowl, poured some of the marinade from the baking dish over the chicken and rice, and topped it with the mushrooms and broccoli.

It was a pretty good meal, fun to make without a recipe.

3. I'm just this way. I haven't been able to bring myself to leave Maggie alone much. Outside of Friday morning when I went to Sam's and Yoke's, I've been staying in the house close to her, monitoring her sleep, what she does when awake, and helping her get around, as needed.

This evening, Maggie rested in the tv room in the room's second chair.

I watched two documentaries.

I discovered that I could rent an episode of PBS' American Masters examining of the art and life of Andrew Wyeth. It was entitled simply, Wyeth. 

If there's one artist whose work I wish I could emulate when I take pictures, it's Andrew Wyeth. It's his paintings. When I was still living with Molly and Hiram in Groveton, VA, one day I ventured to the National Gallery. I love going to art museums and I love not knowing what exhibits are showing when I go. That way, I can be surprised by what I discover once I arrive.

Well, on this day, an exhibit of Andrew Wyeth paintings was underway, called "Looking Out, Looking In".

If you've seen much of Andrew Wyeth's work, you know that he loved the play between windows, light, shadows, and wind. He loved painting views of landscapes seen through windows and, as one of many ways he portrayed the transient nature of life, he enjoyed painting the wind lifting curtains framing an open window. I used to try to take similar kinds of pictures when I lived at 940 Madison in Eugene. That house received natural interior light very well; that light cast many interesting shadows; we had light curtains that were fun to take pictures of; and, even though we didn't have rural landscapes outside our windows like Wyeth did, it was fun to take pictures looking out.

When I stumbled into the "Looking Out, Looking In" exhibit it reminded me of the time in late December of 1996 or early January of '97 when I was driving home to Eugene and, on a lark, stopped in Portland and paid a visit to the Portland Art Museum. To my surprise and delight, the museum was showing The Helga Paintings. Over the years, Wyeth had secretly painted pictures of this woman, Helga, who modeled for him in a copious postures and poses and in various degrees of dress and undress. These paintings were beautiful, haunting, alluring, contemplative, sensitive, erotic, and any number of other things. They were all I could think about as I drove the last leg of my trip from Portland to Eugene.

As I watched this documentary this evening, I almost fast forwarded through the parts that dealt with Andrew Wyeth's personal life. I didn't, but I wanted these parts to be over with and was the most absorbed when Wyeth and other people were interviewed about Wyeth's painting, his technique, his vision, and what it was in human life and the world of nature that compelled him to create so many drawings and paintings.  I remember having a similar response to the movie, Finding Vivian Maier. That Vivian Maier's life was eccentric didn't interest me that much. Her photograph? I loved those and loved when that movie focused on her pictures.

I watched another artist's documentary before I turned in. It's called Seeing Daylight: The Photography of Dorothy Bohm. The passages in this movie that dealt with Dorothy Bohm's approach to photography and her love of taking pictures and that showed her work were stunning. In Bohm's case, I was more interested in her biography because her experience as a displaced Jew, having been driven out of Germany in the 1940s, helped me, through the movie's interviews, understand how Dorothy Bohm saw displacement and loneliness all around her, how she was able, even after living for decades in England, to take pictures of English life with the perspective of an outsider.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/19: Friday at the Masters, Rice Salad, Documenting Sept 11, 2001

1.  For the first time ever, I watched the Thursday and Friday action of the Masters golf tournament. Today's competition was thrilling. Players not only made one precision shot or one imaginative recovery after another, but the day ended with sixteen players within three shots of one another. Five players are tied for the lead, a record for the end of play on Friday. Honestly, with so many lead changes, so many players moving up and down the leaderboard, I had to remind myself that it wasn't Sunday, that this wasn't the final round. I can't (won't?) predict what will happen this weekend; it will be fascinating and exciting to see if any players break loose from this gridlock or if we'll continue to see sixteen or more players in contention all through the weekend.

2. After breakfast at Sam's this morning, I shopped at Yoke's and, later in the day, I made a rice salad, combining jasmine rice, a medley of red, yellow, and orange peppers, cucumber, cilantro, roasted almonds, olive oil, and vinegar. I forgot to buy kalamata olives. I especially enjoy pouring olive brine in rice salad. Without it, I poured the brine from a jar of pepperoncini into the salad. It was a great idea. I think I'll go the next step and chop up some pepperoncini into the salad I have left over.

3. Last summer, I watched all but the eighth episode of Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film. Until recently, this was the final episode of this series. It examines the catastrophe of September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center's North and South Towers were destroyed by hijacked passenger jets. Until this evening, I had avoided watching this episode. It's a three hour long episode. Over the years, I've wanted to get as much distance as possible from the events of September 11, 2001 before trying to learn more about what happened that day. When terrible things happen, I never trust the coverage and stories that immediately come out -- such horrors are so volatile. On that catastrophic day, I did not watch television coverage all day or the following weeks. I wanted to wait.

My wait started to end in 2012 when I first visited the site where the catastrophe occurred. I visited  St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church, an Episcopal house of worship very close to where the attacks occurred, but which remained, physically and spiritually and miraculously intact in the aftermath of the explosion. Rescue and recovery workers streamed into St. Paul's Chapel throughout the day and night in the days and weeks following the attacks to worship, pray, think, clean up, and rest. Volunteers fed these workers.  My visit to this place moved me.

In March of 2017, Ed, Mike, and I spent a Sunday in Lower Manhattan. We went on a guided walking tour of the area around where the World Trade Center towers once stood. We went to the top of World Trade Center One, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex. More and more of what happened that day sunk in. We also went to O'Hara's, an Irish bar that was crippled by the attacks. We looked through a binder of pictures documenting what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, at the damage done to this bar, and at pictures documenting its recovery.

I didn't realize that this episode of New York, entitled "The Center of the World, 1946-2003", was really a history of the World Trade Center towers, how they were imagined, conceived, and constructed, of the political conflicts involved in getting them built, and how they represented David Rockefeller and the Port Authority's vision of moving Lower Manhattan into a transformed future.

The history was fascinating and connected smartly with narrative threads developed in earlier episodes of the series.

As a result, when the episode made its transition out of the growth of globalization in the 1990s into telling its version of the attacks on September 11th, we, as viewers, had a deep understanding of what the World Trade Center embodied philosophically made it an attack target and what the towers represented has a feat of engineering that was destroyed.

Until this evening, I had never viewed the images of that day in a concentrated way. This documentary did not sensationalize what happened, didn't create false melodrama. The images were horrifying. They needed little narration or comment from the documentary. Those images don't need my commentary either.

As the episode concluded, it emphasized the mammoth task of cleaning up the site and recovering the dead. It presented closing interviews with Pete Hamill, Mario Cuomo, and others who marveled at the indefatigable spirit of the people of New York City, at the deep reservoirs of expertise, goodness, and service that New Yorkers drew upon to help one another and recover from the September 11th attacks.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/19: Maggie Update, The Masters, *Henry V*

1.  Every day, I keep a close watch on Maggie. I'm watching as much of the Masters golf coverage as I can, so I bring Maggie into the tv room. She can't jump up on her favorite tv room chair any longer, so I lift her up on it. Likewise, in the last few days, Maggie has lost the strength to jump up on the bed. Maggie is starting to have a little trouble walking on the parts of the house's floors that are bare, just like Charly is. Maggie is sleeping a lot, or at least lying still. She continues her gradual decline. Her decline, however, is not affecting her appetite -- she eats her whole bowl of food and is drinking plenty of water. As long as I'm home, she's been good about going outside to do her business. She's had a few accidents indoors when I've been gone. She had at least one when I was in the house. It made me wonder if, temporarily, she just didn't have the energy to go to the back door.

Maggie could surprise me in the next few days and leap up on the bed again or on the chair in the tv room. She might hold steady. I hope not, but her slow slide could continue. The best I can do is continue to nurture her, watch her closely, and keep her nearby.

2.  As the technology used in the manufacturing of golf clubs has changed, professional players are able to generate more club speed. They use golf balls designed to be hit a long way. Watching the Masters today and listening to the experts talk about the Augusta course, the challenges the players face, and the state of the game of golf in 2019, I marvel at how far players can strike a golf ball. The most compelling thing, though, about watching the Masters is that the players who do well can't only rely on their strength, club speed, and distance. The stakes in this tournament are so high, the course so challenging, and the weight of its history and tradition so heavy, that success also depends on each player's self-control, how they keep their minds clear and their nerves quiet. It's this mental aspect of golf, the way golf tests a player's character, that I enjoy the most. It's why I can spend hours watching golf on television. Along with the Ryder Cup, I enjoy watching the Masters the most of all.

3. I finished watching Henry V this evening. It stimulated me in multiple ways, moving me to tears while also kicking my racing mind into overdrive. I ached for someone to discuss the play with. I would have loved to discuss anything, but most of all I wanted to talk about Falstaff, Nell Quickly, Auncient Pistol, Nyms, Bardolf, Robin the Luggage Boy, Williams, Bates, and Fluellen, how smartly and beautifully the actors Judi Dench, Richard Briers, Michael Williams, Ian Holm, and others played these roles and how the scenes featuring these characters of the tavern and grunts on the battlefield mirror and deepen the great philosophical and political questions explored in the world of King Henry's court. In their scenes, these characters of the play's underclass express the pain of loss and their conflicting thoughts and feelings about war; we see their valor and their corruption, their bravery and their thievery -- just as the play explores King Henry's grief, his valor and his corruption, his bravery and his thievery. (He steals the country of France.)  I love how the court world, tavern world, and the world of the battlefield echo each other, portraying how the play's whole world is shot through with concerns and conflicts about war, fear, death, national unity, and love, love of brother, love of country, love of king.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/19: Taxes Filed, Par 3, Curry and *Henry V*

1. With the last bit of information I needed entered, I filed tax returns to the USA, Idaho, and Oregon. Later in the day, I received notification that each entity accepted the filings, so I'll put  a check in the mail to Idaho and be done.

2. A year ago Byrdman and I were relaxing at his sister-in-law's Bayview home and tuned into the Masters Par 3 Contest and watched Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson play a relaxing and chatty nine holes together, a deep pleasure. On the ninth hole, Nicklaus invited his 15 year old grandson, GT, to whack a shot. Did he ever whack it: GT moved his grandfather to tears by scoring a sweet hole-in-one, one of the most remarkable and moving moments ever in the world of golf.

A year later, today, I tuned into the Masters Par 3 Contest and watched Nicklaus, Player, and Watson again. To witness their mutual respect and enjoyment of each other was, again, a deep pleasure. Player is 83, Nicklaus is 79, and Watson is 69.  I loved how they hit beautiful shots, fired up cheers in the gallery, and wore their golf nobility so lightly and comfortably.

No moments today like GT's ace a year ago. It's hard to believe a moment like that will ever happen again.

3. I had fun cooking and eating a more aggressive green curry today with tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, and fresh lime juice over brown rice. I pushed this curry's heat, saltiness, sweetness, and citrus sparkle pretty hard and relished these contrasting sensations with each bite and the way the rice provided a neutral foundation to this mixture.

It was rainy and chilly this evening.  I fixed myself a couple of warming and rich hot drinks with dark rum, chocolate truffle powder, and boiling water.

For the first time in several years, I watched Kenneth Branagh's movie adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V. I wondered if I'd still love this movie the way I did 20 to 30 years ago after it was released in 1989 and I watched it countless times both at home and in the classroom.

I did.

I turned off the movie just before the Battle at Agincourt, my mind full of memories, classroom discussions, renewed thoughts about Shakespeare's vision of politics and history in this play, and marvel at what's exquisite in this movie: its soaring courtly and battlefield poetry as well as its tavern world lyricism, its brilliant structure, the depth of each actor's performance, and its visual wonders.

I'm not ready to write about how watching this movie brought back to mind the challenges of being a student and instructor of Shakespeare. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/19: Everett's Better, Taxes Done, Easy TV: Golf and Baseball

1.  I checked in with Christy today and she reported that Everett was having a good day. I was especially happy to hear that, all together,  his daughters will be coming soon to visit him from different parts of Eastern Washington. 

2. I sorted through papers and check receipts and got out folders and spent a few hours slowly and deliberately doing the taxes. I just have one bit of information to enter Wednesday morning and I can file and, as I expected, write a check to the state of Idaho and send it off.

3.  To help keep myself relaxed while working on taxes, I tuned in to the Golf Channel's all day coverage of the upcoming Masters golf tournament. I enjoyed listening to players interviewed in press conferences, listening to the Golf Channel experts discuss what they expect to happen in the tournament,  and I especially enjoyed half watching and listening to hour long shows focused on individual tournaments from the past.

Once I wrapped up the taxes, I was happy to see that my MLB free game of the day was a night game from San Francisco, featuring the Giants and the Padres. It wasn't an exciting game. I joined the broadcast after the Giants had jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning. The Padres never threatened that lead. But, I welcomed the unhurried pace of play, the relaxed banter between the broadcasters, the sound of the crack of the bat, and the murmur of the crowd bubbling away in the background. Unlike the intense, high stakes college basketball games I've been watching, this baseball game had almost no stakes and was mellow, just what I wanted before I flopped into bed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/19: (She Shed Note) Everett's Much Better, Goose 'n Tree Breakfast, Cavs Win in OT

A quick note: if you'd like to see the picture the Spokesman Review ran of Christy's she shed, go back to the article, here, scroll down a little ways to the picture of Thresa Sullivan and you'll see that it's the first picture of slide show.  There's a triangle in the bottom left under the picture. Click it and the slide show begins. Christy's she shed is the last picture of the series.

1. The news today regarding Everett is fairly good. He has not been having mini-strokes. Christy texted Carol and me first thing this morning to say that Everett, without any resistance, agreed to go to the ER. Christy asked me to come up so that I could provide an extra pair of ears to listen to whatever the medical staff had to say. When I arrived, Everett was in much better shape than he had been Sunday night. He was coherent, not confused. He'd already had a urine test that revealed he had a urinary tract infection (as Christy thought might be the case). We know from our experience with Mom toward the end of her life, that a UTI can cause confusion, slurring of words, and the other symptoms Everett showed.

Everett also submitted to an MRI to make sure that he hadn't also been experiencing mini strokes The results confirmed he had not.

Everett began a seven day course of antibiotics to knock out the infection. Everett got some recommendations about hygiene and hydration, aids in preventing UTIs.

Christy was concerned that she had overreacted and thank God the ER doctor told her she hadn't. Everett needed immediate attention. His symptoms could have been indicating neurological problems and the infection needed immediate treatment. 

Once home, Christy and Everett collapsed into deep naps.

2. While waiting for Everett to be wheeled away for the MRI, Christy told me she thought she'd be fine on her own. Earlier, in the ER, Everett had told Christy that he felt anxious about possibly falling in the shower and that he'd like a shower chair. When I left ER, I drove straight out to Kohal's in Pinehurst and picked up the shower chair Christy had put her name on through a phone call.

Knowing things were under control at the hospital, I also stopped in at The Goose 'n the Tree and enjoyed a very delicious breakfast. I ordered the LookOut, a scrambled egg dish with sauteed onions, peppers, chorizo, and shredded corn toritillas folded into the eggs and topped with a warm chili verdi sauce and melted cheese and hash browns on the side. Meredith was not very busy and we had a great visit yakked about living in Kellogg in contrast to other busier places where both of us have lived. I told Meredith I was interested in taking bread home and she asked me to wait a second and she came out of the back with a baguette. Meredith told me it was a day old and gave it to me without charge. I was very grateful.

I ate the entire baguette over the course of the afternoon and evening.  It was superb.

3. At around 6:20 PST, the University of Virginia and Texas Tech's men's basketball teams tipped off in the NCAA championship final.

Back in the old days, when I'd try to write papers about a Shakespeare play, I'd feel stymied because so much happened in the play that I didn't quite know where to start, how to focus, and how to say all that I had on my mind.

Right now, I am stymied in a similar way.

This game was played so ferociously, so courageously, so dynamically and featured so many players performing so superbly, that I'm not sure where to start.

Well, how about the final score?

Virginia's DeAndre Hunter received a brilliant pass from Ty Jerome deep in the corner and hit a three point jump shot from 22 feet to tie this game at 68-68.  Just one minute and forty-five seconds earlier, Virginia had held a four lead on a Kyle Guy layup, but Texas Tech scrapped and hit clutch shots and free throws to take a three point lead with twenty-two seconds to go before Hunter tied it. In the last twelve seconds, Tech's Jarret Culver missed a jump shot, a Cavalier mixup led to a turnover on the rebound, Tech's Culver took a shot from the baseline with a second left and Virginia's Braxton Keys blocked it and did not foul Culver.

The game went into overtime.

Tech's Matt Mooney, who'd been quiet much of the game, scored back to back buckets early in overtime and the Red Raiders led 73-70.

But, Kyle Guy converted two charity tosses and DeAndre Hunter hit another monster three pointer from the wing, putting the Cavs ahead 75-73. Tech missed shots. Virginia rebounded. Tech fouled different Cavs and Virginia made every single free throw in the OT, going 12 for 12. Virginia benefited from the officials reversing a call on a ball that went out of bounds. Upon viewing the replay, they could see that in a scramble between Hunter and Davide Moretti, Moretti's little finger scraped the loose ball last, giving Virginia possession.

Virginia won the game, 85-77.

Dick Vitale credited the basketball gods with smiling on Virginia three games in a row to end this tournament with three victories in squeakers.

My friend since childhood, Roger Pearson, summed it up in one word: Destiny.

Jay Bilas credited Virginia for never veering from their commitment to poise and calmness and consistency.

Seth Greenberg credited Braxton Keys and Mamadi Diakite for all the work they did inside, blocking shots and rebounding -- Greenberg praised them for their dirty work.

Coach Tony Bennett credited his players' faith in one another, that even in the most dire of straits against Purdue and Auburn and Texas Tech, they believed they could find a way to win.

What made this game so compelling to me was that Texas Tech was also having a magical run in the tournament and could have seemed a team of destiny upon whom the basketball gods were smiling.

Texas Tech remained true to their identity. They defended hard and played with poise and calmness.

Texas Tech had less flashy players doing some pretty impressive dirty work.

And, it was clear to me, that the Red Raiders' players had faith in one another and believed they could find a way to win this game -- their late surge in the second half showed me that this is true.

So, I don't know. The margin of difference was so slim in this game, that it's difficult to pinpoint what made Virginia the superior team tonight by such a very thin margin.

What did Virginia have or what did they do that made them just a fraction better than Texas Tech? Than Auburn? Than Purdue?

Did it come down to seizing moments?

Kihei Clark didn't heave a half court shot with time running out against Purdue. He whipped an improbably well-timed bullet pass to Mamadi Diakite who converted the short jumper to tie the Boilermakers. Both players seized the moment.

Kyle Guy had to make all three free throws with under a second left in the game against Auburn to tie it. He seized the moment and sank them all.

With twelve seconds left in tonight's game against Texas Tech, Ty Jerome had a clear lane to the basket and could have put the Cavs within a point by making a contested lay in. But he had the clarity of mind and the acute basketball vision to see that De'Andre Hunter's defender had moved toward the paint to help defend Jerome's drive to the basket and he bounced a perfect pass to Hunter, Hunter was in rhythm when he caught it, and he buried the game tying three.

Together, Jerome and Hunter seized the moment.

It's thrilling to watch players of any sport seize big moments and succeed. I think of Jack Nicklaus, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Joe Carter, Arike Ogunbowale (a year ago), Joe Montana, Chloe Jackson, and the many other athletes who have made clutch plays under pressure in some of sports' most scintillating moments.

Over their last three games, it wasn't any one Virginia Cavalier who seized a big moment. All their starters did at one time or another and with that block of Jarrett Culver with a second to go in regulation, so did reserve Braxton Keys.

Maybe that's what the basketball gods smiled upon. Maybe this is what makes a team a team of destiny. Maybe this is what happens when teammates have faith in one another.

Whatever it is that set Virginia apart tonight, I can say with certainty that I enjoyed this game thoroughly. I am really glad that some time back in January I fell in basketball love with this Virginia team and that I watched them repeatedly throughout the winter. I loved seeing a team I admired so much experience the joy of winning the 2019 national title.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/19: (Family Difficulties), Spokesman Features Christy, Family Dinner, Thriller: Baylor Beats Notre Dame

Before I write about the positive things that I experienced on April 7th, I want to write about illness in our family right now.

Paul's Dad, Burt Roberts, has fallen seriously ill with internal problems involving his pancreas, liver, and kidneys. I don't feel at liberty to say a lot more right now because I don't think a certain diagnosis has been made yet. Right now, there's a plan to put a stint in his liver to help it function better.  As I learn more, I'll post more, but please hold Burt Roberts in your prayers.

Please do the same for Everett. At our Sunday family dinner, Everett was disoriented, confused, often repeating the same questions, sleepy, and very wobbly on his feet. Paul walked him home, next door, after dinner. Everett could not have made it on his own.

It's Monday morning, April 8th, as I write this report on Everett. Christy just drove him to the Emergency Room at Shoshone Medical Center. I will post more when Christy tells me what they find out and how they will proceed. I'll just add that Everett's condition has been up and down, day to day. He had a difficult day on Wednesday, but on Thursday, while Christy hosted friends for lunch, Everett went out with the dogs for couple of hours in his truck and did fine.  Right now, he's struggling, possibly because of the reoccurence of mini-strokes. I'm about to head up to the ER to be another pair of ears with Christy.

1. Christy and Everett were up bright and early this morning to greet the arrival of their Sunday Spokesman Review. Christy knew that the paper was running a story about women in the Inland Northwest who have she sheds and that her she shed story was a part of the feature. At family dinner tonight, Christy brought her copy of the paper over and we got to see the picture the paper published of her shed and the story's profile of Christy, including why she has the shed and how it houses her aesthetic vision of life, the ways she uses the she shed, and her hopes and dreams for things to come.

I'm posting a link to the online edition of the story. It doesn't include the print edition's picture of Christy's she shed. It also contains one small error. Christy retired from teaching in Inchelium, not Spokane. I hope this link will live for at least a little while on the World Wide Web. To see it, click here.

2. Hosting family dinner is an all day task for me, even if the dinner I prepare is simple, so I stayed in Kellogg today, didn't drive to CdA for church.

I had fun making a buttermilk marinade for ten boneless chicken thighs and refrigerated the chicken all afternoon. I made cornbread muffins. I also augmented a cauliflower soup recipe into a cream of vegetable soup adding mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange mini-peppers, celery, and carrots. On the side, I made a soup thickener with butter, flour, milk, and grated cheese and added it to the soup after I had pureed it. I bought a bag of broccoli slaw to go with our dinner.  I dipped the buttermilk marinated chicken into flour and fried thighs until almost done and then put them in the oven at a low heat to finish cooking and stay warm.

When Christy, Everett, Carol, and Paul arrived, I had a Dark and Stormy ready for each of them: dark rum, ginger beer, and a lime wedge over ice.

It's not really the cooking, per se, that takes so much time. For me, it's the cleaning up. Since I serve dinner on the dining  table in the kitchen, I like to have the kitchen looking half way decent when family sits down to dinner and I like to have the living room vacuumed.

I'm slow.

I'm slow in the kitchen preparing food.

I vacuum slowly.

I'm a slow kitchen cleaner upper.

Usually, we have family dinner at 6:00. Around 5:30, I texted Christy and Carol to wait until 6:30 to come over -- and, even then, I didn't quite have the table set.

As Everett would say, "Oh, well!" 

3. Something else slowed me down, though, and I loved it.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Baylor Lady Bears played for the NCAA national championship at three o'clock this afternoon.

For the first nearly three quarters, Baylor had the upper hand. At times, they were almost dominant. Notre Dame, like every team Baylor has played, couldn't consistently stop Baylor's strong players in the high and low post, Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown. Adding further complication to Notre Dame's defense was the play of Baylor's guard, Chloe Jackson, who scored 26 points. Moreover, again, like every team Baylor has played, Notre Dame was frustrated by the Baylor defense. Baylor's team has a lot of size -- or as the experts say, so accurately, a lot of length -- and their perimeter players are quick on the feet defensively. 

But, with 1:22 left in the third quarter, Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown's feet got tangled up under Notre Dame's basket. They fell and Cox, it appeared, tore up her knee. The sell out crowd fell silent. Lauren Cox couldn't walk. She left the court in a wheelchair.

I love to watch sporting competition. I hate injuries (so much so, by the way, that I've quit watching football).

Notre Dame charged back in the fourth quarter, but, Cox's replacement, freshman NaLyssa Smith played fearlessly. She ended up scoring 14 points. She had filled in for Kalani Brown earlier in the game when one of Brown's calves cramped up and played the entire fourth quarter in place of Cox, and, miraculously, did almost as much as a scorer and rebounder as Cox probably would have done.

But, Baylor really missed Cox on the defensive end.

And, so, having been behind by 17 points in the second quarter and still down by 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame persisted. The Irish went ahead midway through the fourth quarter and the two teams exchanged leads or were tied several times. With 17 seconds left, Notre Dame's Jessica Shepard tied the game with two free throws. Coming out of a timeout, Chloe Jackson, just as she had done in the closing seconds on Friday night against Oregon, drove to the cup, the Irish's defense got their wires crossed, and Jackson converted the layup.

Baylor was up by two.

Now, please remember, that one year ago, Arike Ogunbowale hit a last second shot at the buzzer in two straight games, the semi-final and final, to catapult Notre Dame to last year's national title.

With two seconds left in this game, she rose for a jumper that would tie Baylor. The shot missed, but Ogunbowale got fouled.

She went to the free throw line to shoot two charity tosses that could tie this game.

Her first shot, cruelly, spun out of the hoop.

Ogunbowale had to miss her her second shot on purpose and hope that Notre Dame could snare the rebound and score on a put back.

Ogunbowale tried to miss -- and failed. Against her will, she made the second free throw.

Baylor, with a little drama, ate up the game's last two seconds and won the game and the national championship, 82-81.

This was an emotionally and competitively riveting basketball game, as full of drama, heartbreak, joy, and skilled play as any game I've ever watched.