Sunday, June 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/19: Hiking into Revett Lake, Prichard Mai Tai and Charly, Dinner and Ice Cream

1. Oh, let's just say it's about 45 miles from my house to the parking lot at the top of Thompson Falls pass where the Revett Lake trailhead is located. First, though, I stopped at Byrdman's cabin up the river near Prichard, we piled into his pickup, and zoomed up to the trailhead. We hiked about two miles or so into Revett Lake. It was a steady uphill hike, described by most trail guide literature as moderate. Hiking uphill these days, however, is hard work for me. I get winded easily and going uphill makes my heart pound. I need to do more uphill walking and hiking (the trail near the Shoshone Medical Center is perfect) and see if I can build up more tolerance to going uphill.

I had no choice but to progress slowly up the trail. Several times, I stopped, sat on a log or a tree stump and let my heartbeat and breathing return to normal. Fortunately, most of the hike was shaded and, even when the trail was exposed, it wasn't too hot.

The sight of Revett Lake stretching out in sapphire splendor definitely rewarded all my struggles to reach it. A handful of people were fishing from the shore. Byrdman and I went to three or four different spots on the shore and just sat and drank in the lake's calm and the steep forested terrain growing out of the lake. After about a half an hour of admiring the lake's beauty, we started back down the mountain. I had a much easier time on the return route and was more appreciative of the magenta, white, and yellow wildflowers, the rock slides, and the waterfalls tucked back in the trees, partially visible from the trail.

It was an awesome hike and, for the day, I racked up over 9000 steps, around 4.5 miles.

2.  Byrdman's property is nicknamed Camp Runamuck. We returned to Runamuck and relaxed by sitting in the chairs lined up just above the bank of the North Fork of the CdA River. Byrdman fixed us each a slushy and refreshing Prichard Mai Tai and we yakked, watched floaters slowly cruise by as well as a fly fisherman in the middle of the river. Jerome H. suddenly popped up behind us and joined us. I played ball against Jerome's brother, Clyde, but as Jerome and I shook hands, I wasn't sure if I'd ever met him over the years.

By about 3:00, I thought it would be good to get back home and make sure Charly was doing all right. She usually does fine if she's in the house for 6-7 hours on her own, but I didn't want to push it. Charly continues to move steadily into the life of an aged dog. She's not very active any longer and spends much of the day resting and sleeping with an occasional jaunt out to the back yard. Sometimes she stays out back for fifteen minutes or so sunning herself and she still wanders around a little bit, but with her hind legs and hips giving out, her wandering is limited.

I walked in the back door and Charly was fine. When Charly was younger, if she and Maggie had been in the house for 6 hours or so, they were eager to get outside and relieve themselves -- and, sometimes, Maggie had accidents in the house. Charly hobbled to the back door to greet me when she heard the garage door close, but she didn't go right outside. I left the back door open for her, but she didn't go out until after she'd eaten.

3. I settled in once I was confident that Charly was doing well. After she'd eaten, I lifted her up onto the bed and the two of us lay down for a while. I rested my legs and Charly, as always, wanted to be near me, if not pressing against me, being really close.

I was happy I had some rice left over and I thawed out a few shrimp and made myself a delicious rice and shrimp two egg scramble, seasoned with soy sauce. It was just what I wanted: a moderate amount of food with satisfying texture, excellent flavor, and just the right amount of substance to fill me up. After I ate, I bopped over to Yokes to replenish my coffee and milk supply and bought myself a small container of Blue Bunny Super Chunky Cookie Dough ice cream. Back home, I ate about three spoonfuls of it, just enough, and saved the rest for the next time I'm in the mood for a little ice cream.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/19: Stu at Sam's!, Hike and Road Trip, Remember When at the Elks

1. Stu was today's surprise visitor. At 5:55 this morning, he rolled up in front of the house and I darted out the door and we strolled down to Sam's for Friday breakfast and none of the other guys knew Stu was coming. Unfortunately, Ed couldn't stick around long because he got a last minute call to a job, but it was really fun having Stu join us.

2. I texted Byrdman this morning, wondering if we planned on being at his place up the river today. He wasn't going up, but suggested I come over to CdA for a combination hike and road trip. Sounded awesome to me. I drove to his house and we blasted just south of CdA to the Cougar Bay Nature Preserve and hiked for about two and half miles, first uphill a ways and then back down closer to the marshy wetland. I had known from other reading I've done about the benefits of leaving wetlands untouched, but I had never thought of wetlands as "nature's kidneys" before. One of the signs on the trail explained how, like the human kidneys, the wetlands filter and dilute contaminating materials, helping keep waterways (like Lake CdA) clean.

After our hike, Byrdman and I took a drive in the Cougar Gulch area, listened to classic rock, and then made our way up to the Westwood Brewery in Rathdrum where we sampled a pint of their fine Hobo Hazy IPA. We haven't been to Paragon since they started brewing beer on site, so we ended our outing with a half pint of their Windy Bay IPA and a mile high All-American burger with fries.

3. Back in Kellogg, I napped for about a half an hour and then headed uptown to the Elks. Jake and Carol Lee and Alan's band, Remember When, has a Saturday birthday party gig and need a night of practice. The Elks canceled their Friday night burger night so the band could get their legs back under them and play for a couple of hours or so and I went up a listened for about an hour and a half or so. Sharon, Danny, Wanda, Diane (and two of her sisters, Donna and Teresa), Ed, and others came to listen, giving Remember When a good audience.

I ended the night at the Lounge where I drank a tall glace of ice water. I had been away from Charly quite a bit today, so I left early, wanting to get back home and make sure she was doing all right. She was and both of us were ready to go to bed soon after I arrived.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/19: New Doctor, Soup Stocks, Return to Dylan's *Theme Time Radio Hour*

1. I met first thing this morning with Dr. Heidi Herold who is now my new primary care provider. I was grateful that it was an easy visit. I'd just had a physical examination with blood work in March. I see the nephrologist in a couple weeks and will have blood work done then.  Dr. Herold  didn't order any new work. She liked how my heart and lungs sounded. My vitals were all strong, including a great blood pressure reading. She is now in charge of my prescriptions, which remain unchanged, and will see me in six months. 

2. The meat stock I've been working on looked great as I strained it, put it containers, and froze it. I cleaned the crock pot and immediately chopped up some onion and celery, nearly filled the crock pot with crab shells, covered it all with water, added some seasonings, and got my next batch of crab stock underway.

3. I had planned on watching the last half of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story today, but, instead, I went to the archives of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour and listened to two shows: "Baseball" and "Weather". Back in the Eugene days, between 2006-09, when Dylan's radio show aired on satellite radio, I used to enjoy listening to this program in my bedroom and I marveled at the depth of Bob Dylan's knowledge of popular music from nearly the entirety of the 20th century. I used to love Ellen Barkin's intro to each episode ("It's night time in the big city. Rain is falling, fog rolls in from the waterfront. The nightshift nurse smokes the last cigarette in a pack."). I loved hearing Bob Dylan being talky, generous, articulate, friendly; he seemed to enjoy this world he created every week, a throwback radio show performed in an imaginary studio.

Every episode of Theme Time Radio Hour is archived online, right here. Scroll down, look at the menu, and click around. You'll find all the episodes and some other excellent material.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/19: Broken Egg and New Shoes, Soup Stock, Neil Young and Bob Dylan Movies

1.  I suddenly realized on one of my good Kellogg walks the other day that I hadn't bought new shoes for several months. So, I hopped into the Sube this morning and jetted over to Kohl's in Hayden, hoping that the make of New Balance shoe I've come to trust was in stock. I'd gone online looking for this shoe and I got the impression that it's being put to pasture, but, I thought, maybe I'll get lucky and Kohl's will have it. They did. As a small bonus, it was marked down 15 bucks (my guess? a clearance mark down), so I quickly tried on the pair I found, was satisfied with the fit, and bought them. I rocketed straight back to Kellogg.

Before I went to Kohl's, I tried out the Broken Egg, a breakfast place on Government Way I've seen many times. In a way, it reminded me going to Ye Olde Pancake House in Eugene. The cafe was bustling, lots of customers, and the majority of them were my age and older. I was not looking for a gourmet breakfast. I was going to be satisfied with a solid plate of food.

That's exactly what I got.

I ordered a country Benedict: two biscuits, each topped with a sausage patty, an egg, and sausage gravy. It was served with hash browns. The service was friendly. Nothing in the restaurant was fancy. I sat at the end of the counter on a stool and relaxed, enjoyed my food, and pondered things.

2.  I didn't go anywhere else in CdA because I was feeling drowsy and, sure enough, upon returning home, I fell into a bottomless sleep while sitting in my chair.

I checked on my latest soup stock bubbling away in the crock pot. It's a combination beef and pork stock. I decided to use the various bones I had frozen and combine them with onion, celery, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I think the stock will be ready to put into containers and freeze on Thursday.

3. For a little while late this afternoon, I felt slightly paralyzed by wanting to plunge into several stimulating things all at once. I couldn't decide.

Should I return to Shakespeare?
Should I start season 2 of The Americans?
Should I return to Luther?
Should I watch the concluding episode of Empire Falls?
Should I watch the last 50 minutes of Farewell, My Lovely?

No. No. No. No. No.

Instead, I immersed myself in, first, Neil Young, and then, Bob Dylan.

I watched a documentary entitled, Neil Young's Music Box. Its purpose, through a series of interviews with music critics, historians, and musicians, was to account for Neil Young's eclectic musical explorations through exploring the many performers who influenced Young, starting with Elvis Presley and Little Richard and moving forward through, among others, Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Randy Bachman, Steven Stills, Don Gibson, the Sex Pistols, Devo, Kraftwerk, and Pearl Jam. I'd never submitted myself to any kind of overview of Neil Young's career, to any examination of the many different styles of music he has performed and recorded. Reviewers critical of this movie want more music and less talk, or, at least, more music in support of the analysis the interviewees offered. Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. But, I learned a lot from this movie and I didn't find myself thinking about what it didn't do: I had a great time listening to and thinking about what it did do.

I ended my evening by watching the first half of Martin Scorsese's movie, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.

I'm going to finish the movie before I write about it more fully. Suffice it to say (and I think this might be true of most things having to do with Bob Dylan) that the movie messes with its audience. It's advertised by Netflix as "an alchemic mix of fact and fantasy".


It is that.

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/19: Walking Kellogg, Clinic Visit, Very Quiet Day

1. I do much better getting myself out and walking when I have something to take care of or to do on my walk. On Monday, I stopped at The Bean. Today, I had some business to take care of at the clinic uptown, so, instead of calling, I decided to take care of it in person and walk up. Not only that, but I used the drop box to pay my Avista bill. I walked nearly three miles, almost 6000 steps, by walking east on Cameron, south on Hill Street, and west on the bike trail to the place where the trail goes uphill to the museum, close to the clinic. I left the clinic and walked on McKinley over to Division, went down Depot Hill, took a rest at one of the benches west of the old Sunnyside school, and ended my walk by pretending it was 1962-1966, I was back in the 3rd-6th grades, walking home and the end of a school day at Sunnyside.

2. A while back, I received notification from the clinic that I needed to arrange to see a new primary care provider. I had toyed with the idea of seeing a doctor in Coeur d'Alene, one whom Stu and Ed see and enjoy a lot. But, back in 2017, when I moved to Kellogg, I had decided to keep as much of my business local as I could. I stuck with that today and made an appointment to see the new doctor at the clinic so that I have a primary provider overseeing my few medications. I see her on Thursday.

3. I realized tonight when I went to bed that I'd only talked to two people all day long. I spoke with the woman who set up my appointment at the clinic and I exchanged a few words about bagging groceries with the checker at Yokes. I had plenty of contact with people: Christy and I texted each other and she emailed me a positive update about her health; Kellee updated me on possibilities as to when another company will send a person our way to make a sewer estimate; Cas and I wrote some fun text messages back and forth; Stu and I messaged each other in the morning; Julie (Feather) Rockwell wrote me text messages updating me on things in her busy and challenging life as she plows through graduate school and tends to other things. I listened to Tragically Hip for about ninety minutes, watched a bit of the BBC's 1983 production of Macbeth, but most of the day was quiet, often silent, with little more sound than the cars and trucks going by. Kellogg is a quiet place to live. Most days, I like that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/19: A Good Walk, Relaxing at Eddie Joe's, World Cup Fervor

1. I made myself happy today. After some sluggish days, some rainy days, and some days I spent indoors resting my injured (now nearly healed) shoulder, I returned to walking today. I walked to The Bean and enjoyed a bagel and a coffee. I then walked down Bunker Avenue, past the base of the Silver Mountain Resort, by the old Middle school, over the river and the freeway, and back down the west end of Cameron to my house. It was a good loop, covering about two miles, and, by the end of the day, I had walked over 5000 steps.

2. Cas texted me around 4:00 and invited me to join him at Eddie Joe's (a.k.a. The Dog Pound) and I accepted. Jess and Ron's German Shepherd, Dexter, met me at the door. Before long, Robert's wife (we've never met and I don't recall her name) not only brought in her aged dog, but also had her black cat on a leash. Angie and Seth just took in a couple of French bulldog puppies and before long, the pups got to get in some socializing by joining the rest of the menagerie at Eddie Joe's. Seth, Cas, and I are in two Silver Valley fantasy baseball leagues together and we had a lot of baseball to discuss, along with some music talk -- next month, Angie and Seth will go to the Snoop Dogg show at Northern Quest; I happily bragged a little about seeing Neil Young last month; Cas and I continued some past conversation we've had about Dr. John, whom Cas heard three times in concert. When "Stealin'" came on the jukebox, we talked about Uriah Heep which led to some yakkin' about Procol Harum.

The former proprietor of Eddie Joe's, Eddie Joe himself was present and he asked the bartender, Adam, to have me autograph a napkin and tell him how Mary Ann was doing. I chuckled. A few weeks ago a guy at the Lounge who'd been at the end of the bar came down the bar and told me I looked just like the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. EJ overheard him and, so, today, that moment continued as I signed the napkin, but was unable to update Mary Ann's current whereabouts (but, wasn't she in CdA or somewhere near CdA lately?).  Eddie Joe assured me he will forever treasure that napkin.

3. Back home, I whipped up a quick dinner of a chopped up salmon burger patty and rice, checked my fantasy baseball results -- it was a mediocre day for my teams --, and listened to the panel on Around the Horn go on and on and on and on about the World Cup matches between the USA and Spain and England and Cameroon. Controversy was in the air, but, to he honest, it went over my head. But, I couldn't stop watching and listening to the panelists: they were fired up and made their points with energy and commitment.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/19: Yes! Hannah Green, Reavie Ends Drought, Farewell Albert!

1. Going back to the 1970s, I have enjoyed watching the women's golf tour on television. Once, I seized the opportunity to watch a tournament live when, in July of 1997, I attended all four days of the Women's U.S. Open at the Witch Hollow course of the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, the four best sports fan days of my life.

Today, I was eager to watch the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, not only because it's a major tournament and was being played on the bedeviling Hazeltine National Golf Club near Minneapolis, but because Hannah Green, only in her second year on the LPGA tour, had led this tournament from the get-go, and I wanted to see how she would perform under the unique strain of playing the final round of this tournament from the lead.

Hannah Green played beautifully, especially from the thirteenth to the eighteenth hole. I feared Green was going to collapse when she bogeyed the ninth, eleventh, and twelfth and her lead dropped to a single shot. The defending champion, Sung Hyun Park, was moving up the scoreboard, pressuring Hannah Green. Green converted a delicate chip and a tap-in putt on the 13th and regained her equilibrium. She relieved the pressure on herself a bit with a superb birdie putt down the slope of the 16th, but Sung Hyun Park birdied the 18th, and cut Green's lead, once again, to a single stroke. On the 18th, Hannah Green hit her second shot a bit left and bunkered it. Her lie in the sand looked pretty good, though, and she gathered herself and dropped her sand shot softly on the green and rolled it to inside six feet of the pin.

A five to six foot putt with a major championship on the line is one the most demanding tests in all of sports. Hannah Green dropped the putt and won this championship, a stunning surprise that gave rise to a joyous celebration as a knot of her fellow Australians, including seven-time major champion Karrie Webb, stormed the 18th green, shook up cans of soda pop, popped them open, and drenched Hannah Green.

My sudden burst of joyous laughter as I enjoyed this celebration startled Charly.

2. At the same time that Hannah Green was winning the LPGA Championship, out in Cromwell, CT, Chez Reavie entered the fourth round of the Travelers Championship with an apparently insurmountable six stroke lead. Reavie is thirty-seven years old. His last win on the PGA tour was back in 2008, eleven years ago. Reavie seemed to be building on his impressive showing a week ago at the U. S. Open (he finished tied for third place) and it looked like he just might cake walk his way to a win today.

But, Keegan Bradley tried hard to spoil Reavie's Sunday stroll to victory.

Starting on the 10th hole, Bradley birdied four out of six holes, cutting Reavie's lead to single stroke. Then, on the seventeenth hole, Bradley hit his second shot over the green out of a bunker sand trap and a disaster resulted: Bradley double bogeyed the hole. Reavie calmly sank his birdie putt on the 17th and suddenly his lead swelled to four strokes.

The cake walk was on again.

Both players parred the 18th and Chez Reavie ended an eleven year, 250 tournament drought, and won the tournament. Reavie is reported to be one of the tour's most affable players, a guy who is popular with his fellow golfers. The word from the course was that he and Bradley were having fun as Bradley went on his hot streak, that both players were supporting and encouraging the other, even as they played fiercely to win. I enjoyed seeing both the happiness and relief on Reavie's face in the interview after the tournament and was really happy to see an old school golfer win. Reavie is not a bomber. He drives the ball straight, not very long, but straight, so he plays a lot from the fairway and hits a lot of greens in regulation. I liked seeing Reavie win this tournament playing in a way that I was familiar with back in my younger days of watching golf on television.

3. The St. Louis Cardinals' astonishing rally, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, fell short and the Angels defeated them tonight 6-4. But this game's outcome was overshadowed by Albert Pujols playing his last game in St. Louis. Pujols played for eleven seasons at St. Louis. Fans loved him. In 2012, he left the Cardinals (and the National League) and joined the L. A. Angels (and the American League).  Thanks to inter-league play, the Angels visited St. Louis this weekend and the every game featured standing ovations for Albert Pujols. It was moving. Not only were fans in the stadium and those of us watching on television moved by these shows of affection, Pujols was, too -- at one point, he had to leave the bench and go into the clubhouse tunnel to weep.

Pujols is thirty-nine years old, nearing retirement, and no one thinks he will ever have a chance to play in St. Louis again. So, tonight's game was St. Louis' farewell to one of their most beloved players of all time.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/19: Reading *The New Yorker*, "Unlike Any Other", Bronx Bombers

1. Every week The New Yorker magazine arrives on Friday or Saturday. It arrived today. For the first time in a long time, I almost immediately plunged into an issue when it got here. I learned more about London's former mayor, Boris Johnson; I read reviews of two television series, When They See Us and Chernobyl; I contemplated Walt Whitman turning 200 years old; I thought about Amy Davidson Sorkin's editorial on tensions between President Trump and Joseph Biden. For many years, I've read the New Yorker to encourage my fantasies of living in New York City and being able to go to plays and musicals, to hear music in clubs, to take in the latest exhibitions at the museums, to dine at different delis, bagel shops, and international eateries, and to follow the footsteps of New Yorker writers after they've written short pieces about observations they've made while strolling in particular areas of New York City. So, today, I read the latest theater reviews and imagined myself going to the musical The Secret Life of Bees and the Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It was fun.

2. When it comes time to watch the Masters on television in April, I am always of two minds. On the one hand, I love the golf. I love seeing players return every year to Augusta National to confront the challenges of the golf course and I enjoy the many memories I have of past tournaments. Some of golf's most dramatic showdowns have happened at the Masters involving Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and many others. I cannot imagine ever experiencing again an afternoon as thrilling as when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986, at the age of 46, shooting a 30 on the back nine, a 65 for the round, coming from at least four shots behind.

On the other hand, this annual tournament is hosted by an exclusive club that has been slow to invite anyone other than white men into its membership. It's a club that asserts authoritarian control over how the tournament is broadcast on television, how those who attend the tournament behave, and how information about the club and its operations is communicated to the public, if it is.

I bring this up because this week's issue of The New Yorker features a draw the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz styled article on the Masters entitled, "Unlike Any Other" written by Nick Paumgarten. (If you'd like to read it, click here and see if it comes up.) I'd call it a snarky article, maybe even a hit piece, that pokes holes in the props and looks behind the artificial scenery we see and the piped in sounds we hear at the Masters on television. The experience of being at the Masters or seeing it on television is a carefully curated and scripted one.

I love theater, so I enjoyed learning about the artifice:  how the conditions of the golf course's greens are meticulously controlled by a system of underground pipes and mechanical blowers called Sub-Air; how the sounds of birds are piped into the course; the pine straw is imported, pine cones removed; the azalea blossoms are carefully husbanded so that they will be in full bloom for the tournament. It made me think how common this kind of staging is in our lives in the USA, whether in political gatherings, award shows, or  sets of "reality" television. I thought about how any number of us, wealthy, famous, or not, present ourselves in public. It's all about making good appearances.

So upon learning more about the Masters as an event devoted to appearances, controlling people's behavior, coddling the powerful, and sustaining the privilege of wealth, will I stop watching this tournament?


The golfers can't fake it. Within all the artifice and tradition and mythology of the Masters, the players face the authentic challenge of playing Augusta National, making sound decisions, hitting precise shots, confronting history, and dealing with the heat, wind, and rain, elements which not even the Augusta National Golf Club can control.

That, I love.

And, in the same way that I surrender myself to all kinds of artifice, visual trickery, and make believe when I go to see plays or watch movies or look at television, I willingly give myself over to the same when I watch the Masters. I let myself be moved and awed by the springtime spectacle of watching golf at Augusta National.

That, too, I love.

3. Speaking of the rich and powerful, as I fixed myself and enjoyed eating a green curry sauce with chicken and tofu to serve over jasmine rice, I tuned into watching the latest version of the Bronx Bombers, that is, the New York Yankees play the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have packed their lineup with powerful hitters. Today their two home runs came from less powerful players, Gio Urshela and Austin Romine, but the Yankees extended their streak of consecutive games hitting a home run to 25, tying a club record set in 1941. I am eager to see if this Yankee team, so powerful at the plate, so stacked to dominate the regular season, will also be a successful team in the playoffs.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/19: Crab Stock, *Empire Falls*, Dave Chappelle and Movement

1. I took out three quart-sized containers of crab shells I had brought home in February from the annual Kellogg Elks Crab Feed, dumped them in the crock pot and added a couple of onions chopped up, a handful of celery leaves, and a couple of stalks of celery chopped. I added in Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper and turned the slow cooker on. Early on, all I could smell in the kitchen were the greens and onions cooking, but, about four hours later, not just the kitchen, but the house filled with smell of crab. I would let this stock bubble away all night, guaranteeing that I this coastal aroma would be with me all through the night and bid me good morning when I awakened.

By the way, I still have a couple zip lock bags of shells in the freezer, good for at least one, if not two, more batches of stock sometime in the future.

2. Until July of 2018, I hadn't had a television for anything other than watching DVDs and videotapes for over twenty years. At some point, definitely before moving to Maryland, I didn't have a television at all. I used to hear about a lot of programming, especially shows available on cable, that I didn't have the means to watch. One of those shows was an HBO adaptation of Richard Russo's novel about life in a fictional broken down small blue collar town in Maine, Empire Falls.

Empire Falls is a two episode mini-series. Its cast is packed with superb actors: Helen Hunt, Joanne Woodward, Robin Wright, Estelle Parsons, Ed Harris, Paul Newman, Aidan Quinn, Dennis Farina, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, among others.

I watched the first episode today and enjoyed the experience of the story unfolding as if I were viewing a novel: it has a narrator, it moves fluidly between the story's present and then into the past as things that happen trigger memories, and, with the freedom of a novel, the movie transports us into different time frames and different places.

At the heart of Empire Falls is the fact that obscure lives in a run-down, once thriving small town play out stories that are everyone's stories and involve the common human experiences of death, love, mendacity, vanity, cruelty, aging, and power, to name a few. Empire Falls, to my way of thinking, takes us into the American experience in a way that resembles Our Town or Death of a Salesman. In the experiences of common American families, we see not only the particular difficulties family members struggle with, but we see the larger, even universal, stories of hope, joy, disappointment, delusion, and tragedy. The characters in Empire Falls don't see themselves acting out these larger stories, nor, so far, do they see themselves and their lives as uncovering the illusions of the American Dream. But as a viewer watching these stories unfold from the distance of my comfortable chair in my little television room, I see larger stories unfolding, the ideas and the integrity of the American Dream being called into question.

I finished episode one and I didn't launch right into the second episode. Much of Empire Falls hit me hard. I needed to live overnight, if not longer, with what pained me before returning to see how its different stories do or don't get resolved.

3. Back when I was a composition teacher, again and again and again and again I stressed to students in the courses I taught that what I'd like to see them take charge of in their writing is the movement of their essay from one part to another - whether it's the movement from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph or section to section of their work. I tried to help students recognize the ways the writers we were reading moved their works along. Sometimes the movement was by contrast, sometimes by drawing a comparison, providing definition, repeating a key word or concept and riffing on it in a different way; sometimes the movement was from exposition to narration, illustrating a point with a story. This was my way of trying to impress upon these writers that the ways of holding a piece of writing together arise out of the piece itself. It's organic. Structure is largely shaped by movement. Anything can work, but not everything does. A writer can do anything to move things along, keep parts connecting, but it must work.

I was thinking about teaching composition this evening as I watched Dave Chappelle's Netflix special, Equanimity. Now, I never, not in a million years, could have played this comedy show in class. Dave Chappelle's comedy thrives on transgressions. His work his vulgar, sometimes grotesque, charged with all kinds of language, images, and stories that I think people should freely choose to listen to and it just isn't the sort of thing I would play in class.

But, if I could have, I would have asked my students to marvel at the ways Dave Chappelle structures his storytelling, jokes, and his commentary. I would have said, "Let's examine how Dave Chappelle moves from joke to joke, how he holds things together within a story, and how he even moves between a character (or persona) he's created named 'Dave Chappelle' and the Dave Chappelle he invites us to believe is the real Dave Chappelle." I would have invited these students to try to understand what Dave Chappelle's purposes are, in addition to making us laugh, and how the way he moves the parts of his show from one aspect to another serves his purposes, to arrive at his understandings of how things are in life, his truths.

He's an ingenious composer, a superb writer.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/19: Margo Martindale as Claudia, Good Food, Atmosphere

1.  Having watched the entire first season of The Americans, I have a lot on my mind and different scenes keep replaying in my head. It's fun. The actor in The Americans who has made the strongest impression on me is Margo Martindale. She plays Phillip and Elizabeth's KGB handler, Claudia. I enjoyed her work plenty enough when she was playing the fascinating and complex Claudia straight up, including the brief and totally unexpected scene when she plays Ms. PacMan,  but toward the end of season one, she assumes a couple of disguises, first as Clark's mother (Clark is one of Phillip's alter characters), and, then, later on, she disguises herself as an embarrassed, scatterbrained woman (Lori's aunt from apartment 3D) who has locked herself out of her nieces's place and needs to make a phone call. I won't say what she does once in the apartment, but it's a scene that will always live with me.

2. For breakfast, I'd made myself a delicious rice and shrimp egg scramble. I had some rice left over. Later in the day, I dumped it into that fish soup I made on Wednesday and the rice added texture and substance, making a soup I had already enjoyed taste even better.

3. Late in the evening, without thinking much about it, I put Farewell My Lovely on the television. I've never seen it, but, for some reason (and I was right), I thought it would be fun to watch Robert Mitchum at work, playing the hard-boiled P. I., Philip Marlowe. I didn't get far into the movie, but I was especially enchanted in what I did watch by the movie's atmosphere -- it's 1941 in L. A. --, especially David Shire's soundtrack, jazzy and orchestral, featuring existential sax and trombone solos answered by romantic sounding strings, meant, my guess is, to capture Philip Marlowe's solitude as a bachelor and detective and his softer than expected inward self. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/19: Watching *The Americans*, Fish Soup, The Best Piety is to Enjoy

1. We had some hard rain today, punctuated by at least one thunderstorm. It was a good day to stay indoors. By this afternoon, I wanted a break from taking care of household stuff. So, I decided to plunge into the FX television series, The Americans. I vaguely remembered that at least a couple of New Yorker writers had reviewed this series positively and I thought -- maybe -- I'd had friends on Facebook who'd enjoyed it.

At the outset, The Americans is set in the early years of the Ronald Reagan presidency. Episodes take place in Washington, D. C. and Falls Church, VA. Its stories focus on two KGB agents, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who live in Falls Church with two children as suburban Americans, travel agents Elizabeth and Philip Jennings. Elizabeth and Philip have completely transformed their former Soviet selves into Americans and with this disguise unshakably in place, they work as spies.

If, over the last few years, you've come to recognize posts on social media that are fabricated by Russian "troll farms", you know that they ingeniously reflect certain characteristics of particular American mindsets. These posts are polarizing. They express fear, fear, to take one example, of the USA being taken over by people from outside the country. I first thought something was up with these posts about four years ago when Facebook friends of mine were posting  and people on Twitter were retweeting apparent photographic evidence of a pro-Isis rally in Dearborn, MI, replete with apparent radical Islamists apparently waving the Isis flag. The language of the posts accompanying the pictures sounded genuinely American, especially the claims that went something like this: Here's what the mainstream media isn't telling you! Isis held this rally in Dearborn, MI after the shootings in San Bernardino. Wake up, America! And so on. The pictures were fabrications, the captions were written by Russians, but they seemed so American, especially as ways of frightening and polarizing people.

My point is that, to me, watching The Americans is like having the fabricated social media posts come to life in the fabricated characters of Elizabeth and Phillip. They have completely immersed themselves into suburban life in N. Virginia. When new neighbors move in, Elizabeth bakes brownies for them. They take their children to the mall.  Phillip plays dumb Dad games with ice cream cones. Elizabeth makes meatloaf. They disguise themselves in multiple ways as multiple Americans in their spy work and every persona they create is spot on. Like the Russian trolls online, Elizabeth and Phillip have so completely immersed themselves in different aspects of the American character and play these characteristics so naturally that they are able to hide in plain sight.

Elizabeth and Phillip's marriage was arranged by the KGB back in the Soviet Union. So far, in the first season, episode story lines are divided between Phillip and Elizabeth's spy missions and the difficulties in their marriage -- is the fiction of their marriage dissolving and are they developing a genuinely intimate relationship? And if they are, contrary to the designs of their arrangement, becoming a genuinely married couple in spirit, as opposed to being married in name and appearance, how do they live with the feelings they are developing for each other vis a vis the underhanded and deceitful, often sexual, demands of their work as KGB agents?

The Americans is a hybrid domestic drama/spy thriller series. It's compelling.  I'll keep watching it. 

2. I thawed out a couple containers of crab stock I made back in February and added baby carrots, chopped red pepper, a handful of shrimp, and some chopped up halibut to the stock and cooked it slowly. I seasoned this developing soup with Old Bay seasoning, some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then I decided I wanted it to be creamier, so I added milk to it and the result was a pretty tasty fish soup or fish chowder, perfect for this cool June day. It would have been better with cauliflower (my potato substitute), but I didn't have any on hand and just didn't feel like going to the store.

3. Dan Armstrong wrote me a couple of emails today. One of them was his electrifying response to having just watched the movie, Moonlight, and built upon a conversation we had in Eugene back in May about the movie, Green Book, a movie I haven't watched yet. He also wrote a moving response to what I wrote about having coffee on Tuesday with Deborah and Scott. I'm going to keep much of what he wrote private, but I will say that he took the time to write very positively about my work as an instructor at LCC. I won't detail what he wrote here -- it's between us -- and what I will write in response is between us. But, I will say that as my life moves, day by day, farther and farther away from those nearly thirty-five years I was a college instructor, sometimes my teaching career seems like a mirage. Some days it feels like I dreamed it. It might be odd to write, but Dan's email was a reality check. My work at LCC (and the U of Oregon and Whitworth) did happen and, more often than not, went well.

Over the last couple of months, I've been immersing myself back into the world of Shakespeare through DVDs, things I've been reading, and podcasts. I have also had the opportunity to write, through correspondence with Scott Shirk, what I think it takes to write well. (Be awake!) The dive back into Shakespeare has been invigorating, but it has also brought to mind how incomplete my knowledge was when teaching Shakespeare and sometimes I wish I could get back in the game again knowing some of the things I know now.

But, then I think, whatever I did or didn't know, nothing was as important in my work as what I did to try to inspire my students' love. I cared about trying to help students have a mirthful experience with writing, to maybe even have moments when they enjoyed writing (or loved it), more than I cared about how what they learned might contribute to their academic success. I thought that experiencing an invigorating love of writing would, in the long run, help them succeed, maybe even more than the more measurable aspects of writing. Likewise, I think my literature courses gave students every opportunity to love poetry, novels, stories, movies, and plays. I couldn't measure this, but sometimes I experienced it. Sometimes students would tell me they loved the works we studied, that the literature was alive to them, helping them understand and even expand their inward lives and to regard others more compassionately.

A simple sentiment of George Eliot's character Will Ladislaw in her novel, Middlemarch, was always guiding my work: "The best piety is to enjoy -- when you can. You are doing the most then to save the earth's character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight -- in art or in anything else."

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/19: Coffee in Spokane, Wondering, Loafing and Pondering

1. A couple weeks or so ago, Deborah (Jacobsen) Gridley, one of my best friends from our college days at Whitworth, told me that she and her husband, Scott, would be in Spokane on June 17th and 18th to visit Ron and Marianne Frase to celebrate their birthdays (Ron's 95th; Marianne's 84). We decided to meet up at the Rockwood Bakery in Spokane at 10:00 a.m. for coffee.

For the last two weeks, I have been eager for this day to come. Deborah and I have been pretty good about keeping in touch over the years, but it had been in the neighborhood of twenty years since we'd seen each other in person.

Deborah, Scott, and I immediately fell into easy, comfortable non-stop conversation for about two hours. We are all Idahoans now. Deborah and Scott moved to Eagle around the same time (I think) I moved to Kellogg and we talked about what we've experienced as new residents of Idaho. We did a little reminiscing about Whitworth, but mostly we talked about current things -- our families, church, politics, etc.

Driving home, I thought about how much goodness Deborah and I have carried forward from our time at Whitworth. If I remember correctly, our friendship deepened in the spring of 1975 when we took a history course in the Enlightenment period together from Prof. Fenton Duvall. I have vague, possibly inaccurate, memories of taking my reading assignments for that course with me to breakfast some mornings and hanging out in the dining hall when I was done eating, drinking coffee and reading. I don't know if Deborah ever sat and read with me, but I think we talked about the readings from time to time -- if not in the dining hall, well, somewhere on campus. I know it was during that spring term that we got more deeply acquainted.

I remember our friendship deepening even more the following school year. Deborah had graduated. She'd been hired as an intern (or Chaplain's Assistant) in the college's Chaplain's Office. One of her assignments was to help organize the college's Forum program, a twice weekly gathering of students and faculty in the auditorium to hear speakers, see presentations, and, sometimes, hear music.  I loved Forum. I admired Deborah's work, got to help her out once in a while, and remember talking with her about different speakers and how much I enjoyed them. That fall, if I remember correctly, Deborah and I were part of what I think we called a support group that met once a week at Chaplain Ron White's home just to talk about our lives and our faith and to listen to each other.

This is just to say that the seeds for good conversation between us at the Rockwood Bakery had been planted about forty-five years ago. Without a doubt, I loved my times at Whitworth the most for the conversations I used to have in the dorms, in study groups, and in the dining hall. From time to time, I long for those kinds of conversations again, long to talk with others, as I did with Deborah, about the integration of faith and the subject matter of our academic courses, long to talk about how to respond conscientiously to what we see going on in the world.

Coffee this morning with Deborah and Scott satisfied that longing for me today.  Of course, it being forty-five years later, we didn't talk like our student selves.  But, underlying all we talked about was our enduring friendship and that foundation of faith, exploration, openness, and deep concern about our lives and the world that we were building while at Whitworth.

Scott and Deborah had an appointment to meet in the Spokane Valley and when they said they needed to say good-bye and get going, I know I kept saying things like "Oh! Before you go" and "Oh! One more thing" to delay our separation.

I wanted to just keep on talking together.

2. When I left Spokane, I drove straight back to Kellogg. Not only did I feel gratitude for the time Deborah, Scott, and I spent together, but I thought about how easy it is to drive to Spokane and I wondered why I don't go over more often, especially to take pictures. I did, after all, recently purchase a hiking guide to Coeur d'Alene and Spokane, and, I thought, there's no good reason why I shouldn't come over more often early in the day before the heat settles in and try out some of the more moderate hikes and take some pictures.

3. Back in Kellogg, I went to Yoke's and purchased a few items. I fixed myself a black bean, lettuce, and white rice salad. I pondered my trip to Spokane some more. I'd had enough stimulation for the day, so I didn't listen to any podcasts, watch anything on television, or do any reading. For most of the afternoon and on into the evening, I had a Walt Whitman day. Whitman writes in Song of Myself:  "I loaf and invite my soul/I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass."

My loafing was so advanced that I didn't even get around to observing grass. I just loafed, pondered, enjoyed sweet memories, and retired to bed early -- with old Charly's complete approval!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/19: Goose 'n the Tree Breakfast, Quick Trip to CdA, More Lewis Black

1. I decided to make a quick trip to Coeur d'Alene and stopped on my way at Goose 'n the Tree for breakfast. I ordered the Continental Divide. It features scrambled eggs, refried beans, sirloin tips, and mexi cheese served over two corn tortillas, all smothered in chili verde sauce. It comes with a side of hash browns. I loved the blend of flavors, especially the chili verde sauce, and the variety of textures. The breakfast sustained me for much of the rest of the day. All I had for dinner was a salad combining Romaine lettuce, jasmine rice, and black beans topped with the olive brine vinaigrette I've been experimenting with.

2.  My plan was to get in and out of Coeur d'Alene quickly. I got a hair cut and went to Pilgrim's and bought a couple bricks of tofu and a bag of bulk jasmine rice and drove straight back to Kellogg.

3. Back home, I felt sluggish. I napped, recovering from being up early to feed Charly. I found another Lewis Black comedy special on my list of television offerings and had a bunch of good laughs. The show I watched was taped just after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had both been nominated for the presidency, but before the general election. Lewis Black had a heyday. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/19: U. S. Open, Father's Day Family Dinner, Interviews

1. I spent much of the day watching the final round of the U. S. Open golf tournament today. As seems to be more and more the case as I age, I didn't favor any one of the leaders very strongly -- I enjoy them all -- and hoped to see these players play well. Over the years, in preparing courses for the U. S. Open, the United States Golf Association has tightened fairways, grown the rough thick and tall, and let the host course's surfaces get hard and fast, making it very difficult for the players to score. I have cringed watching some of these U. S. Opens. I prefer to watch players play in conditions that allow them to go after scores, but penalize poor shots; too many times, for my enjoyment, the players in the U.S. Open have played defensively and had to be tentative.

Sunday's conditions at the Pebble Beach Beach Golf Links seemed just about right. Pin placements looked challenging to me, but not impossible. The greens were not baked and crispy, but reasonably accepting of well struck shots. The rough was thick, the fescue high, and the Pacific Ocean, on the holes that ran along the the water, was gorgeous and intimidating. Repeatedly, I looked at what these players faced as they marched from hole to hole and wondered how they do it, how they can play so powerfully and delicately and shoot superb scores on this majestic and very difficult golf course.

The tournament winner, Gary Woodland, played a terrific final round. I think golf history will laud him for years to come for the courageous 3 wood he rocketed 263 yards on his second shot on the 14th hole to put himself in position to birdie the hole and pick up a stroke on his titanic challenger, Brooks Koepka, which he did; he also seized the moment at the 17th's hourglass green when he recovered from a mediocre first shot by clipping a delicate wedge from the fringe of the green, striking it perfectly over the ridge in the green's center, and rolling the shot very near the pin, saving his par.

2. My viewing of the U.S. Open was interrupted around 4:00 by a special Father's Day edition of family dinner at Carol and Paul's. My nieces, Cosette and Molly, joined us. Carol and Paul offered us grilled shrimp and a variety of other chopped ingredients and sauces so we could each fix ourselves soft-shelled shrimp tacos. Carol made a very tasty rhubarb crisp for dessert, served with Blue Ribbon French vanilla ice cream.

3. I returned back home in time to see the Gary Woodland play his last four holes and enjoyed the tension of his success at keeping his lead over Brooks Koepka. When Fox's coverage of the tournament ended, I flipped over to the Golf Channel. I listened to Woodland, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka answer questions from members of the media and was very impressed with their grace and sportsmanship. As much as anything, when I watch sporting events, I enjoy when competitors have earned one another's mutual respect.

Such was the case today. Several defeated players waited for Gary Woodland to leave the 18th green and greeted him with handshakes and embraces. More petulant players would have gone straight to the locker room, cleaned up, and left the premises as quickly as possible. I believed both Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka when they told  reporters that they were happy for Gary Woodland. (Justin Rose played the last two rounds with Woodland and when Woodland executed that marvelous chip shot on 17, Rose gave him a congratulatory fist bump. It was awesome.) In his post-tournament session with reporters, Gary Woodland was modest. He reviewed his key shots, described his mental state during the round, and answered a series of personal, Father's Day questions. He didn't gloat, but expressed gratitude for all those who helped him over the years to make his victory possible.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/19: U.S. Open's Third Round, Fun with Salad, Dave Chappelle and Lewis Black

1. Today I watched the third round of the U. S. Open golf tournament unfold. The Pebble Beach Golf Links confronted players with a daunting challenge. The course's surfaces grew more firm. Holding shots on Pebble Beach's small greens grew increasingly difficult, but not impossible. The rough was thick, appropriately penalizing wayward shots.  Over the years, I've seen much more severe course conditions in U. S. Open tournaments, conditions that, for me, drained the joy out of watching the tournament. I enjoyed watching what I saw today: it was possible for players to break par, but it took exceptional play. I'll just say that when I was young and played golf, I underestimated the importance of a golfer being able to recover from trouble on a course. Today's leaders in the U. S. Open recovered beautifully from errant shots that landed in sand traps, thick grass, tall stalks of fescue, patches of ice plants, and near trees. Sometimes it took deft chipping and putting; sometimes a well-placed explosion shot; frequently it meant converting a difficult putt, whether from long distance or from that purgatorial 3-7 foot range.

I won't even try to predict how this tournament will turn out. Gary Woodland leads by a stroke and has combined power and finesse to play superbly; Justin Rose is a stroke behind him after a scrambling round, punctuated by rolling in one knee knocking putt after another; two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka is only four strokes back and is playing with consistency and confidence; right there with him is another very solid player, Louis Oosthuizen along with journeyman and blazing putter, Chez Reavie. And, who knows? Rory McIlroy is five strokes back, but is capable of mounting a comeback, especially if he can manage to score under par on the par five holes.

2. I've been having fun making salads composed of Romaine lettuce, jasmine rice, garbanzo beans, garlic stuffed green olives, feta or Parmesan cheese, and cucumber. I made a dressing consisting of unmeasured amounts of olive oil, olive brine, vinegar, Dinon mustard, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. This dressing, like the salad, leaves a lot of room for experimentation with ingredients and I doubt I can replicate either the salad or the dressing. I'll keep playing around with both, having established some core ingredients and knowing that I love salads made of lettuce, rice, and beans.

3. I dropped myself into two worlds of profanity, coarseness, brilliant insight, irony, irreverence, and unfiltered observations this evening by listening to two hour long comedy shows by two performers, both raised in Silver Spring, MD: first, Dave Chappelle and then Lewis Black. They dizzied me. They made me laugh, too, but they both made my head spin. I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/14/19: Understanding the Sewer, Road Trip, Back Home with Charly

1. At breakfast, Buff explained to me what the City of Kellogg's concern is with damaged sewer lines coming out of residences into the main lines: soil or dirt. It is costly to treat sewage with dirt in it. So, when the City of Kellogg had main sewer lines repaired/replaced around town, it was a good time to see that lines, like mine, get repaired. I had speculated that the main concern was that sewage would be seeping into the soil; turns out, the main concern is soil coming through cracks and other brokenness in the 70 year old clay pipes into the sewage. I get it. I'm on board.

2. Ed can buy a roll of snoose at a pretty good discount at the Fightin' Creek Smoke Shop and Market not far from Worley, so we hopped in his newly purchased 2016 Camry and rocketed down. As long as we were in the neighborhood, we also bopped over to the Cd'A Casino. I spun some reels for a while and then went to the Red Tail Bar and Grill and enjoyed a bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a tall single shot (kind of weak, just like I wanted) gin and tonic. It was quiet in the bar. I could keep an eye on developments at the U. S. Open golf tournament. As always, Ed and I had a good drive down and back and got in some high quality yakkin' about all sorts of things. It was a good trip.

3. Back home, Charly had dragged herself to the back door where she greeted me, glad to see me back because she was ready to eat. Charly has been getting up around 4:30 or 5:00 (sometimes earlier) to eat in the morning, so her second meal of the day has been a little earlier than usual. I wish Charly's hips and hind legs could improve, but they continue to slowly deteriorate. Nonetheless, as always, she got herself down the back steps, out into the yard, enjoyed some sunshine and a little sniffing around and basking in the sun, and got herself back up the stairs and into the house.

When Charly and I are in the house together, Charly always situates herself near me. These days, she spends much of the day lying down and she enjoys being close to my feet, sometimes in contact with my ankles. That's exactly where she plopped herself in the Vizio room as I watched the golf coverage conclude and listened to the talking heads on today's episode of Around the Horn, which aired earlier, discuss the Raptors' win over the Warriors.

I had contemplated a trip uptown to the Inland Lounge, but, I opted for going to bed early where I discovered that my shoulder has healed to a point where I can sleep on either my left or right side with only minor discomfort. It's still getting better.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/19: Sewer Inspection, Rose on Fire, Raptors Win

1. As part of the City of Kellogg's Sewer & Roads Rehabilitation Project, homeowners in the area where I live were informed 3-4 years ago that they might be responsible for repair or replacement of the sewer line running from our houses into the main line, located in our back yards. The City notified me back in November, 2018, that their video inspection showed that I'd need to have work done on the line running from my house.

Today, a plumber/sewer guy came to the house, did his own video inspection, took some measurements, and explained what approach he thinks would work. Before long I should receive an estimate of the cost.

The City of Kellogg is requiring that this work be completed by the end of 2020 and I'm very happy that neighbor Kellee and I teamed up and had our properties and our sewer lines inspected today so that the work will be done way ahead of the deadline.

2. While and after the plumber/sewer guy performed his inspection, I went into the Vizio room and watched a few hours of the television coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Around six o'clock, I changed stations in order watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals and so I missed Justin Rose's scorching birdie-birdie-birdie finish on the last three holes and missed him seizing the tournament's lead after one round.

3. I'm enjoying how my partisanship for sports teams has melted away as I've grown older. I flipped on tonight's NBA Finals' Game 6 hoping for good action between Golden State and Toronto. I love both of these teams and tonight they played a thrilling game. In fact, it was unbelievable watching the Warriors scrap desperately, a team already decimated by injuries who then lost Klay Thompson late in the third quarter when he landed awkwardly after Danny Green fouled him on a drive to the basket. Thompson tore his ACL. The Warriors' scrapping got even more desperate. They were, yes, an inferior team without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, but they seemed more dangerous to me, playing with desperation and abandon. Unbelievably, the depleted Warriors had a chance to win this game in the closing seconds, but Steph Curry missed a three point shot and the Raptors hung on to win.

After the game, I had fun listening to Scott Van Pelt interview different players from the Raptors and I enjoyed Van Pelt's conversation with Tim Legler about this game and its many, many improbabilities.

I hate sports injuries. By that, I mean I hate players getting hurt. Golden State's injuries, I thought, changed them from a polished team of superb shooters and passers and skilled defenders into a ragtag team of fighters who challenged Toronto to the very limits of their talent. Desperate, undermanned teams often play with an almost reckless abandon that makes them unpredictable and, in the short run, very difficult to defeat. I admired how the Raptors rose to the occasion. Their run to the championship was scintillating and laudable.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/19: I Drove Today, Lilacs Reinvigorated, Baseball Tonight

1. During the day, when I'm moving around, my shoulder feels pretty good. I drove the Sube for the first time since Sunday and only experienced slight pain. I went shopping at Yoke's. On June 13th, I will ride my bike back to the park for the opening of the Silver Valley Community Market. I'll ride with vigilance.

I continue to ice my shoulder. At night, however, my shoulder suffers. I'm not moving around and it tightens up some. Charly has been wanting to eat between 4-4:30 a.m. and so after I feed her, I'm not going back to bed, but getting ice on my shoulder at that early hour and then it starts feeling better. As I wrote yesterday, there is a small area that where some pain persists and a small area in the arc of my arm's movement that hurts. But the majority of the pain is gone and I've gained a lot of function back when using my right arm.

2. Three guys with a good sized truck, a chain saw, and pruning shears worked on the lilacs in back.  Brian thought major work hadn't been done on them in 15-20 years. I wondered if a tree service crew had ever worked on them. I know, when Mom was alive, that a few times I cut some deadwood out of them. I know Everett has. I am pretty sure Mom put Paul to work back there. But we all did minor surgery. Today, this crew cut these lilacs way back, freeing them of three huge truck loads of dead material, giving them a chance, essentially, to start over again. Brian will return in the early spring and help train the new growth. The lilacs might not have blooms next year. In the long run, however, these lilacs should prosper from having nutrients going to living shoots. Things look very different in the back and, for now, a once tall and spreading green and dead branches screen is all but gone. In time, though, I trust healthier growth will sprout back there. Before long, I'll start thinking about what I might do with the new empty spaces along the back fence.

3. I've been listening almost every day to the ESPN podcast, Baseball Tonight, with host Buster Olney and I've taken an interest in the surge in home runs being struck this season. I've heard some say the baseballs are wound tighter and so have more juice. Others say that pitchers are, by and large, throwing faster pitches and hitters are, by and large, taking bigger all or nothing upward swings (strikeouts are also on the rise). One consequence of this current trend is that, on the whole, fewer baseballs are in play during a game. It means that we fans experience less action -- fewer base runners, fewer stolen bases, fewer time when one of my favorite baseball moments occurs and that is when a hitter smacks a line drive into the right or left field gap with the bases loaded and his double clears the bases.

With all this said, this evening I realized ESPN was broadcasting the Astros and the Brewers and that their game had gone into extra innings, fourteen innings to be precise. The Brewers won the game and, it almost goes without saying, that the Brewers' game winning hit was a mighty parabolic home run smashed by Mike Moustakas. Much of the Brewers' performance in this game was all or nothing. The team hit four home runs, three solo shots and Moustakas's two run blast. The Brewers also struck out twenty-four times.

Did I enjoy the innings I watched?

As a matter of fact, I did.

When I was a Little Leaguer, our defense used to chatter when a batter came up. One string of chatter went something like this: "Come on big babe, he can't hit, ay ay, ay ay -- Swing!" We peppered out chatter with "hun now"s (a variant of Roger Craig's "humm baby") and we used to encourage our pitchers to "rock and fire".

I don't know a lot about pitching mechanics and approaches to pitching in the major leagues, but, last night, the Astros ran a relief pitcher out for the last two innings named Cionel Perez and he could rock and fire. His windup was built on the concept of rocking back and little and then vaulting forward, slinging the pitch with the momentum gathered by the movement from rocking back a bit to lunging forward. I loved watching him.

Cionel Perez ended up being this game's losing pitcher. He surrendered Mike Moustakas's game winning rocket. But, he epitomized for me baseball's infinite variety. Rarely do two pitchers look the same on the mound; rarely do two hitters look the same at the plate. Baseball players come in a wide variety of sizes. I've always loved this about baseball and, as I watched the last innings of this game, I enjoyed each team's variety. Players are not only various in their size, but in their temperament, their nationalities, and their age.

Yes, I know baseball goes through trends. Right now, in large part because of what statistical analysis reveals, teams don't worry about batters striking out a lot because the statistical benefits of home runs offset the damage of strikeouts. It's kind of like the three pointer in basketball. The benefits of making some three point shots offsets the damage of missing a bunch of them, so teams keep jacking them up and major league hitters keep, as old broadcasters used to say, "swinging for the downs".

Within any trend in baseball, though, is each team's variety and that variety always keeps me intrigued and coming back for more.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/19: Icing, About Writing, Weed Eating

1. Icing my shoulder is working. Today my right arm's range of motion and my reach increased. Areas around my shoulder that had been painful previously, didn't hurt today. Once again, when I am still, no pain. My guess is that the one small area that is tender is going to take some time to heal, so I will continue to ice it and not put undue demands on how I use my right arm. The whole situation felt much better today than it did, say, on Sunday evening when I wrecked on my bicycle.

2. Scott Shirk wrote me an email asking how he might become a better writer. In responding today, I had fun revisiting the ways I think about writing in relation to Thich Nhat Hanh's exploration of being and non-being in his book Being Peace. Writing this letter reawakened what I cared the most about when I was a writing instructor.

I don't know if I was right or not, but, as an instructor, I always thought that good writing was inseparable from the cultivation of inward freedom -- the freedom to see things in multiple ways, to explore connections between seemingly unrelated things, to be awake to the world's variety, and to exercise the freedom to write by letting it rip, trying to forget about grades and performance. I knew then and I know now that this wasn't a very academic approach. I also knew as our composition program became more preoccupied with assessing its own success, that I didn't possess a single objective means of measuring whether students who came to enjoy writing, felt free to let it rip, and who explored the world and their writing by exploring the copious nature of concepts, ideas, and experiences actually met the officially stated objectives of the writing courses.

I don't think I ever surrendered to the idea that such assessment was possible.

Retired, I don't miss assessment. I don't miss course objectives. I don't miss trying to meet those objectives while simultaneously resisting them.

I miss the experience of trying to cultivate freedom. I miss the laughter, fun, and joy some students experienced when they became less preoccupied with achievement and grades and discovered they often wrote better, in my view, when they quite trying so damn hard to write better and let it rip.

3. In preparation for a small crew coming to the house on Wednesday, June 12th, and cutting back the lilacs, I hired a junior at KHS to come over and use his weed eater to cut back all the growth around the lilacs in the rear of the back yard and to take what he mowed down off the premises. He did just what I asked and earned himself a little more money toward the work he wants done on his truck. I asked him if he pulled weeds or did he just remove them with his machine. I had a sense he didn't pull weeds and I was right. If I ever decide, though, that I'd like more weed whacking done, I'll get back in touch with him again. I'm very happy that the tree guys are going to have much easier access to the lilacs thanks to the work this high schooler did back there today.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/19: Shoulder Update, Furnace and Washing Machine, Warriors Against All Odds

1. Today turned out to be a good day to rest and ice my shoulder as much as possible. Some good news about my shoulder, in answer to concerns different friends brought up: I can lift my arm as if I were raising my hand in school. The lifting is interrupted by some pain, but I can use my right arm to put things away up high. Even with my shoulder pain, I was able to unload the dishwasher, put the dishes away, clean off the counters, and wash the dishes by hand that needed to be. On Sunday night, after my wreck, I couldn't sleep on either my right or left side, but Monday night I could sleep on my left side. I like to sleep on one side or the other and this was a relief. Much of the initial pain I suffered is gone and now I can pinpoint where my shoulder is angry. I am the most inhibited when I reach down (not up).  Since shifting gears in the Sube requires reaching down, today I'll go out to the car and test my ability to shift and I'll play with the steering wheel and see how that feels. When I am sitting still or when I am working on my Chromebook, tablet, or phone, I don't feel any pain. That's both a relief and encouraging.

2. Late in the morning, Robert came by and tuned up the furnace. It's clean. It's running well. I'll have Robert return in the year 2021. Not long after that, Sherri and Brock pulled up in front of the house in the WattsMobile, removed the washing machine I'm replacing and moved the new one in, installed it, and ran it through its paces and declared it ready to go.

3. During the day, I read that the Warriors' Kevin Durant would return to the court tonight against the Raptors. Rehabilitating a calf injury and, possibly, a fragile Achilles tendon, he hadn't played since May 8th. He returned to action tonight. He played for twelve minutes. He knocked down his first three three point shots. Seeing him back in action was scintillating. But, early in the second quarter, he planted his right foot, about to create a shot for himself, and suddenly he fell to the floor. He sat, massaging his right Achilles heel. Staff, along with teammates Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry, helped him off the floor and into the locker room. All evidence, minus an MRI scheduled for June 11th, points to Durant having suffered a torn Achilles tendon. If that's the case, Durant will most likely miss the entirety of the 2019-20 season.

For the Warriors, the joy of Durant's return turned into the grief of losing him.

By halftime, the Raptors had cut the Warriors' onetime fourteen point lead to six points. The Warriors went into their locker room at halftime and learned what they could about how bad Kevin Durant's injury was. I've heard reports from Doris Burke and Brian Windhorst about that halftime locker room. It was like a morgue.

I thought of Shakespeare's Henry V. The Warriors were akin to King Henry's troops at the Battle of Agincourt. The Warriors were depleted. Durant was out. Iguodala, Thompson, Cousins, and Looney were all playing with fresh injuries -- in fact, Looney would leave the game, his injury aggravated,  in the fourth quarter and not return. The Raptors had the Warriors outmanned. They looked physically stronger. Their bench is deep and reserves Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet were making strong contributions.

I knew that Warrior coach Steve Kerr did not give a rousing King Henry-like speech at half time, rousing his players by referring to them as "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers", but the post-game interviews I heard with Draymond Green, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson were packed with references to Kevin Durant as their fallen brother and allusions to the crippled condition of their team. The Warriors did band together. Against nearly insurmountable odds, they rallied their weakened bodies and their mournful spirits and won this game.

Get this: in the last 20 years in the NBA playoffs, in 96 games, teams have entered the last three minutes of their games with a six point lead and won 93 of those games.

That's right. Teams trailing by six points with three minutes to go, before tonight, were 3-93.

Now it's 4-93 because the Warriors got three three pointers from Curry and Thompson, defended the Raptors fiercely on Toronto's last possession, overcame an offensive basket interference call, a goal tend, and a moving screen violation, all by DeMarcus Cousins, and miraculously won this game, 106-105.

As I've written before, I tend to think and write less about how teams lose games and more about how teams win games. The three treys that Thompson and Curry hit late in this game were as graceful of shots under duress as I've ever witnessed. I also thought, and Tim Legler's post-game analysis supported my thoughts, that the Warriors' defense in the last fifteen seconds confused Kawhi Leonard, especially when Iguodala left his man down low to come out high and double team Leonard along with Klay Thompson, forcing Leonard to pass to Fred VanVleet who passed to Kyle Lowry who was harassed by Draymond Green and missed the Raptors' final shot badly.

Looking ahead to Game 6 on Thursday, I once again think the Raptors have a decided physical advantage over the Warriors. It's hard to imagine the Warriors overcoming the hardships they are enduring and finding a way to win back in Oakland.

But, I think all of us who love to watch sports agree. In any given game, especially at the championship level, there is always the possibility that the unlikely, even the miraculous can happen. That's why we watch. If the Warriors find a way to win Game 6, I don't know that I'd consider it a miracle, but I would say that Golden State found a way to pull off the highly unlikely.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/19: *Crime Junkie* Podcast, Family Dinner, I Had a Bicycle Wreck

1. I hosted family dinner tonight, so I worked during the day in the kitchen getting things cleaned up and preparing food. Out of the blue, I put on a podcast I'd never heard of, let alone listened to, called Crime Junkie. I, by the way, am not a crime junkie, not by any definition of my own and not by the definition provided by this podcast's host, Ashley Flowers. But, I thought it might be interesting to listen to while I worked in the kitchen and I was right. It had an episode devoted to an awful serial murderer named Israel Keyes. Keyes' crimes had come to my attention several years ago because of a case in Alaska and at least one Alaskan Facebook friend was posting about it and about his suicide in 2012. Listening to this podcast, found here, brought the grisly story back to me. I probably won't return Crime Junkie anytime soon. I think after watching about four episodes of Forensic Files on Saturday and listening to a few of these podcast episodes today, I've encountered enough true crime stories for a while. If you'd like to check out the Crime Junkie webpage and look at the list of episodes and see pictures, interrogation videos, and other material related to each week's subject, just click here.

2.  Because a bluegrass group, the Ginstrings, were playing a free concert, sponsored by Radio Brewing, in the Kellogg City Park, we ate family dinner early tonight, around 4:30. During our cocktail time, Christy and Everett enjoyed a gin and tonic, Paul poured himself a glass of red wine, and Carol, much to my delight, dove into my craft beer stash. I suggested she might enjoy trying Block 15's chocolate, raspberry stout, Love Potion #9. She split the 16 oz can with me. If you've ever had one of those not overly sweet but semi-sweet chocolate-y truffles, one that has a touch of bitterness to complement its chocolate flavor and one that also has was made with a hint of raspberry, that's what this beer tasted like. It was just what I like in a chocolate-fruit stout. Later Carol popped open my bottle of Ex Novo's Nevermore barleywine, poured herself a moderate amount and put a stopper in the bottle and returned it to the fridge. I didn't try it -- I drank my stout too slowly -- but I'll give it a taste later on.

Dinner was simple. I made two hamburger steaks buried in mushrooms and onions and I made three or four steaks that combined hamburger and German sausage, also buried in mushrooms and onions. I steamed a head of cauliflower and grilled Romano lettuce on the stove top and seasoned it with Montreal Steak Seasoning and Parmesan cheese.

We all left the kitchen table and retired back to the living room and Paul raised some theological questions about the authority of the ordained and I enjoyed reflecting on this question and others as I understand them within the context of the Episcopal Church of the USA. The Episcopal churches where I have worshiped over the last thirty-five years or so have emphasized the interrogative over the declarative in wrestling with different questions related to a life of faith. Not every Episcopal church is fundamentally interrogative and in the worldwide Anglican Communion, many dioceses invest much more top down authority in the ordained bishops and priests than the dioceses I've been a part of in Oregon, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Spokane.

It's always fun to discuss these theological and church related questions. These discussions always make me grateful for the experience I had at Whitworth College and the many students and faculty I encountered and talked with whose Christian experience and ways of seeing a life of faith varied greatly (sometimes wildly) from one another.

3. I jumped on my bicycle and pedaled to the Kellogg City Park. Upon arrival, I steered between two of those low to the ground concrete slabs that mark parking spots and my left pedal hit one of them and I went flying off the bike and hit the grass pretty hard.  I gathered myself, checked out my bike, and joined Carol and Paul to listen to the Ginstrings play bluegrass music.

My right shoulder absorbed most of the impact of my fall and, as I listened to the music, I started to feel nauseous. I also concluded it would be smart to go back home and start icing the area of impact. So, I only heard the Ginstrings play about two tunes and bade Carol and Paul farewell.

I arrived home, parked my bicycle, and pulled a huge ice pack out of the freezer, got a towel and began icing my shoulder. The nausea subsided and I could feel the shock of the trauma to my right shoulder wearing off. I just wanted to go to bed.

I positioned myself in bed as comfortably as I could, but I couldn't sleep on my right side the way I like to and it took me a while to go to sleep, but I did. I had to, as always, get up two or three times to use the bathroom and it was a struggle to get out of bed, but I figured it out, returned, and went  right back to sleep. At about five o'clock, Charly wanted to eat and started whining and I know that once she starts the whining for morning food, she won't stop until she gets her way.

I figured out how to get out of bed, fed her, and got the ice pack back out, went back to bed, and positioned the ice pack so that half of it was icing the front of my shoulder and half of it the back. I fell right back to sleep, woke up about 90 minutes later and returned the ice pack to the freezer to prepare it for my next treatment.

I'm happy to say that I'm having no problems sitting here typing this blog post. In fact, as I sit here typing, I'm in a comfortable sitting position and I don't feel any pain. But, once I get up to do things, my right arm's mobility is limited.

Today, Monday, the furnace man comes to tune up the furnace and later this afternoon Watts will deliver the new washing machine. If, when these parts of my day are finished, my shoulder isn't feeling much better, I'll go have it checked out.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/19: The Lowe Post Show, *Forensic Files* Jag, Subway

1. If you follow sports at all, you know that from the broadcasting/talk show end of things, it's noisy. Lots of voices, lots of analysis, lots of opinions. It can be challenging in the midst of all this cacophony to decide whose voices to listen and whose to filter out. Although more than two voices exist that I never filter out, the two voices I pay the most attention to are Doris Burke and Zach Lowe.

I wish Doris Burke were working these NBA finals as a play by play analyst rather than doing what she's been assigned: buttonholing coaches between quarters for in-game interviews, interviewing a star of the game right after it, and chasing down injury updates in both teams' locker rooms ("Mike, they've stitched up the cut under VanVleet's eye and say he'll be back on the floor shortly" -- ABC doesn't need a mastermind like Doris Burke to do that kind of reporting.)

Over the years, Zach Lowe has written deep and detailed analysis of what happens in NBA games and has deftly supported his analysis with video footage of what he's explaining, whether it's how different teams defend the pick and roll, how Steph Curry gets himself open so often in the Warriors' offense, or what happens when the Warriors gang up to defend Kawhi Leonard and leave a shooter like Danny Green unguarded. Often his analysis of basketball, for me, is like reading the most intricate analysis of, say, Helen Vendler breaking down a Shakespeare sonnet. I don't understand all of it, but the 80-90 percent of what I do understand expands my understanding and helps me watch NBA games and read Shakespeare's poetry more insightfully.

Well, this is all to say that Zach Lowe also hosts a podcast, The Lowe Post, found here.

Look at the list of episodes, and you'll see the ones I've recently been enjoying:  his talk with Doris Burke, another with Jeff Van Gundy, yet another with Chris Herring, and his conversation with Richard Jefferson. Zach Lowe leavens his geeky basketball expertise with good humor, so every minute of these conversations is not nitty gritty technical talk, but is well-balanced with stories (as a kid in Manasquan, New Jersey, Doris Burke loved the Oakland Raiders!) and witty repartee.

Listening to The Lowe Post Show helped make cleaning the kitchen today much more enjoyable.

2. Every once in a while, I get on a jag watching Forensic Files on Netflix. Without commercial interruption, each episode lasts 22 minutes and it's fun to watch the forensic experts with their magnifying glasses, microscopes, infrared gizmos, computer hard drive readers, and other technological instruments bring (apparent) order and clarity to one messy case after another. I love how figuring out the case always hinges on some minute detail: a Reese's peanut butter cup wrapper, a thin wire buried in a pile of debris, the tip of a latex glove, a chip of paint, a carelessly discarded cigarette butt, or analysis of brain cells.

3. All those computers and other high tech instruments inspired me to jump on the Chromebook and order a 6 inch Italian B.M.T. at Subway with a little bag of potato chips. I walked down to the Gondolier and bought a pint of milk so I'd have milk for my morning coffee and strolled to Subway on my way home and picked up my dinner. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/19: New Washing Machine, Tasks Scheduled, Raptors Over the Warriors

1. I came home after breakfast and meditated on washing machines for a while and leapt into the Sube and buzzed out to Watts Appliance determined to make a final decision. I shop for appliances at Watts for several reasons. I like to shop local. They have a limited inventory, so fewer appliances to choose from.  Looking at multiple styles and varieties of any appliance gives me vertigo. Included in the price of the appliance is delivery, installation, and the removal of the old machine. Watts has an in house repairman. He services the appliances they sell and he's done great work in this house on things before -- when Mom was still alive and since.

I am a simple launderer. I don't do special soaks or special rinses. I don't need much capacity in the machine. The front loader in the shop was tempting, but I didn't want or need as much capacity as it has. So I bought a top loader that will do the job without a lot of decisions to make and has a capacity a little larger, but similar, to the old machine.  I could have had the machine delivered this afternoon, but I decided to wait until Monday afternoon. I like to go to the Lounge on Friday afternoons.

2.  Kellee messaged me that a guy is coming to both of our properties (her dad's house is behind Christy and Everett's) this coming Thursday to assess the sewer situation as required by the City of Kellogg. So, I've taken care of the washing machine. The furnace will be tuned up on Monday. The lilacs will get taken care of about Wednesday. The sewer guy comes on Thursday. I still might ask the electrician to come over to make some changes in the house, but I'm going to let these other things get done first.

3. I had a good time at the Lounge, sipping gin and tonic, yakkin' with Cas and Bird Legs and Gloria. I returned home in plenty of time to watch Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

I am enjoying not being all that partisan when it comes to the Warriors and the Raptors. Absent strong feelings about who wins, I am enjoying the high quality of play. As I see it, the Raptors are wearing the Warriors down, tiring them out, with their physical strength and their depth. Last night, when seasoned veteran Serge Ibaka came off the bench in relief, I think, of Marc Gasol, the Raptors didn't lose anything, but got stronger as Ibaka continued to play bruising defense, blocked shots, and scored, unexpectedly, from the outside. Kawhi Leonard continues to wear down the Warriors with his physical strength, controlled aggression, and deft shooting touch. It seems to me that with every game, Kyle Lowry grows more and more confident in his decisions as the team's point guard.

The Warriors, for good reason, look spent. Steph Curry tried to compensate for the loss of Klay Thompson in Game 3 and it looks to me like the increased playing time and responsibility is wearing him out. The Warriors sorely miss Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson played superbly last night, but, with Durant in the lineup, he and Curry don't have to score as much and can find spots to rest and recharge. Without Durant, the Warriors aren't getting many points from anyone other than Curry and Thompson. DeMarcus Cousins is struggling to play himself back into shape after being out for several weeks with a quad injury. He often looks a step slow, out of breath, and a bit clumsy. The Raptors, on the other hand, got excellent scoring last night from Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka in support of Leonard.

I can't put my finger on it, but there is something about the character of this Raptor team that reminds me of the San Antonio Spurs. Maybe it's just that Kawhi Leonard is now a Raptor after several years with the Spurs. Maybe it's the way Toronto is getting such solid play out of a player who went undrafted (Fred VanVleet), veterans who have revived their careers by coming to Toronto (Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Danny Green), an aging player like Kyle Lowry who is bringing his team so much savvy and leadership, or maybe it's the way the Raptors play with such patience, intelligence, and strength. Maybe they aren't similar to past Spurs teams at all! But, that's what I keep thinking I see.

I do know that in my somewhat impartial view, I'm finding it difficult to watch the Warriors play as a team weakened by injuries, a team, possibly, beginning to run on empty. At full strength, the Warriors play with snap, verve, daring, and even joy. This weakened Warriors squad just doesn't seem to have the energy (I think they have the will) to score points in waves and dazzle opponents with quick defense, sharp passes, dizzying fast breaks, and superb shooting.

Two more days off.

Travel to Toronto.

A little rest.

Maybe Kevin Durant will play some.

Monday could be an interesting night -- will the Warriors revive? Or will we see the Toronto Raptors win the franchise's first ever NBA crown?

I'll be tuned in to find out.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/19: Washer Shopping, *Aja* Again, *Luther* Quandary

1. I enjoyed my afternoon trip out to look at washing machines and am 97.93% certain I'll buy a new machine on Friday. Which one? I've got plenty of info in my head. Game time decision.

2.  One of my favorite 60 minutes of television is watching (repeatedly) the Steely Dan/Aja episode on the old VH1 show Classic Albums. I'll be bold. I think even the person who doesn't particularly like Steely Dan could find the intelligent discussion of music and album making by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and other musicians fascinating. I watched it on Amazon Prime, but it's also on YouTube right here. (By the way, a small gin and tonic pairs well with Aja on Classic Albums.)

3. I watched the second episode of the first season of Luther. So far, I have a mixed response to this series. I admire Idris Elba's work, but I haven't decided what I think of the plotting of each episode. I'm going to watch another episode and see if the formula I've observed so far continues and decide whether I enjoy it. I also need to experience the Alice Morgan psycho subplot some more and decide if I find it an irritating distraction or a story line I genuinely care about.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/05/19: Hiking with Byrdman, Lilacs, John Luther and the Raptors

1. Byrdman's daily routine includes hiking Tubbs Hill. Today he texted me saying he wanted to change his routine and hike from Jacobs Gulch to Vergobbi (Italian) Gulch. I met him at the trail head of the Shoshone Medical Center's Health and Wellness Trail and, along with Byrdman's dogs, Sebi and Pip, we headed up the hill. The hike to the picnic table situated at the end of the Wellness Trail gave me much less trouble today than on Monday, but I was wise to take a break and enjoy the view of Kellogg and Wardner Peak and Haystack Peak across the valley.

I knew the trail steepened quite a bit heading up the hill from the picnic table. I gamely panted my way up the hill and reached a point where I had to stop. I was doubled over. My heart raced. I was confident that if I took some time to return to a normal breathing pattern and heart beat, I could make it to the top of the hill. I lay down. Byrdman scouted the area that lay ahead. He reported that soon the trail leveled off. My breathing and heart beat leveled off and, indeed, I made it to the top.

We enjoyed more views of Kellogg and the Silver Valley and before long discovered an undeveloped road and followed it. Eventually the road went downhill and we eased into Vergobbi Gulch.

I could tell that even though I failed to scale the hill on Monday, the effort strengthened me for today. Byrdman and I started this hike earlier than I did on my solo effort and I did much better in the slightly cooler conditions.

2. After Brian came over this afternoon, I committed to having a couple of his guys come over next week and work on the lilac trees/bushes. Brian wondered if I wanted them taken out. I didn't. I wanted the deadwood removed and wanted to revive the living parts of the lilacs. Soon, I'll talk with Debbie and see if we agree on this approach.

I took a day off regarding the washing machine. I'll be giving that quandary some attention on Thursday.

3. I watched some television today. First, I watched the first episode of the first season of the BBC series, Luther. Idris Elba plays the troubled and ingenious DCI John Luther brilliantly.  I really enjoyed seeing Saskia Reeves playing the role of DSU Rose Teller, Luther's immediate supervisor. Reeves caught my attention in Salting the Battlefield, the concluding part of the Johnny Worriker spy trilogy. This episode of Luther not only tells the story of John Luther returning to work on a creepy case after being cleared in an internal investigation of his behavior, but it also examines how his wife has, during a period of separation from John Luther, fallen in love with another man. I understand that this thread of the plot develops Luther's troublesome character more fully and I see how it becomes a part of the case Luther is investigating. Nonetheless, on the whole, I am almost never as interested in the marital/family/personal lives of detectives on tv shows as I am in their professional work. In this episode, I was always relieved when Luther's highly charged confrontations with his estranged wife ended and the story returned to his investigation of the creepy narcissist who murdered her dog and her parents.

Later, in the early evening, I watched the Toronto Raptors defeated the seriously injury riddled Golden State Warriors, 123-109. I enjoy both of these teams a lot. In particular, I am impressed with how the Raptors' management built this Toronto team. All game long, I thought, yeah, Toronto  built a title contender by trading for or signing some experienced players who had either been on NBA title winning teams elsewhere or had played deep into the playoffs and are veterans of the playoff experience.

Most notably and obviously, the best example of this is Kawhi Leonard, but so is another ex-Spur, Danny Green who, last night, played tenacious defense, buried six three point bombs, and didn't sulk when Coach Nick Nurse started Fred VanVleet in his place to open the second half. Two other experienced NBA players with deep playoff experience pop to mind: Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet played superbly last night, too, but I enjoyed watching Leonard, Green, Gasol, and Ibaka not only make great plays, but I thought they were helping show their teammates how to make defensive plays and sharp passes and how to score in big moments.

With the Raptors maturing as a playoff team, it will be fascinating to see how Friday night's game unfolds, especially if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson return to action for the Warriors.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/04/19: Hiring Help, Studying the Washing Machine, Curry Sausage Potato Soup

1. I gave my full attention today to things around the house that need attention. I contacted Kellee and she is going to make an appointment to have her dad's sewer line and mine inspected, in response to a letter from the the City of Kellogg. Soon a tree service guy who has worked for Carol and Paul will come over and estimate what it will cost to clean up the lilac trees/bushes out back.  I have a call in for an appointment to have our furnace tuned up.

2. I spent most of the day reading and watching videos about washing machines leaking. The washing machine in the basement is over twenty years old. For several weeks, when I've gone down to take clothes out, sometimes there has been a small trickle of water coming out of the bottom of the machine. Other times, it's been dry. Because the machine is a Frigidaire, Watts doesn't service it and Furniture Exchange told me they recommend customers to Fred's in CdA. Fred's won't come out for a week (which is fine), but if I could learn about someone in the Silver Valley who services washing machines, I'd have that person come over.

Paul came over and looked at the washer and we agreed the water is not from the input or output hose connections. After he left, I washed a load of clothes. I got out old pictures and looked through them while sitting in front of the machine, hoping to pinpoint when the trickle of water leaks out. Sure enough, it leaks out during the final spin. I read up some more on what this might mean, consulted with Travis in Moscow, and I think I can, at the very least, listen to the repair guy with some knowledge of what's going on and what might need fixing.

I'll just say that while looking into this on the World Wide Web, most people's stories involved leaks that left a lot of water on their floor. This is not the case with me. There is a floor drain right by the washer and there's not enough water coming out of the machine, right now, to reach the drain. Could it get worse? Well, I'd rather get it fixed than find out.

I also looked into buying a new washer. Replacing ours, built in 1997, is still on the table.

3. I browned some German sausage mixed with chopped onion and celery and mushrooms. I chopped up a few potatoes and cooked them until tender in chicken broth. I added the sausage mix to the potatoes and broth and added two cans of coconut milk to create a version of potato sausage soup that I made up. I tasted it and wanted something more in it, so I put a glob of green curry paste in a cast iron pan, heated it up until fragrant, and stirred the curry paste into the soup. Now the soup has a good kick to it and, for dinner tonight, I enjoyed a bowl of curry sausage potato soup. It's sweet, spicy, and creamy and it was fun to dream up and make.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 06/03/19: Hiking Project Underway, Getting Invigorated, Tuna Salad

1.  I have hiked the Shoshone Medical Center health and wellness trail several times and returned to it today. The hike challenges me. It's not a long hike, but, for me, it's steep enough that I need to rest along the way and catch my breath before moving on. About a half a mile up, there's a viewpoint and a picnic table with a sign explaining silva restoration in the Kellogg area.

Beyond this area, a trail continues, and, I've been told, it comes out in Vergobbi Gulch in Kellogg.

Until today, I'd never hiked beyond the picnic table. Today, I gave it a try. I thought the trail steepened significantly and I struggled hard to make my way to higher ground. After a while, I decided that this is going to have to be an effort best spread out over many days. I need to strengthen my legs and improve my cardio-vascular function to complete this trail.

So, I retreated, determined to return and try to climb farther up the hill next time I try -- like on Tuesday. I don't have any idea how long it's going to take me to climb this trail, but it's too much for me right now and I hope that, over time, I'll build the strength and stamina to make it.

2. The hike may not have been a total success as far as what I set out to do, but it was just the invigoration I needed. This morning, I continued to feel tired after all the activity and, really, the intensity of all that happened on Saturday with seeing so many people I've known for decades and joining with them to suffer the grief of Goose's death and celebrate the vitality of his life. Charly awakened me to eat around 5:00 this morning and I went back to sleep around 10:00 or so and took another short nap after my hike. These naps were restorative and I'm feeling my energy level rise again.

3. I imagined several fun things to make for dinner tonight, but decided to put some of them off until later in the week. I opted for a simple meal. I bought a bag of salad and poured tuna fish over it and added pepperoncinis, garlic stuffed green olives, and shredded cheese to the greens and topped it with a Greek salad dressing I bought last week.