Monday, September 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/19: Breakfast with Ed and Darren, End of the Season, Comforting Family Dinner

1. First thing this morning, I darted down to Sam's and met up with Ed and Darren for breakfast. Ed's been working long hours for the last couple of months and I've been out of town a bit and so I hadn't seen him for a while. Darren's work has him on the road a lot -- he would be driving to Orem, Utah after we finished eating -- so it's fun when he's back in town that he gets together with his dad and I enjoy it when they invite me to join them. Because Ed and his fellow workers have been so hard at it, we haven't been meeting lately for breakfast on Friday mornings. So, today, not only was it a lot of fun to see Ed and Darren, it was good to be back in Sam's. I enjoyed seeing Terri and Lisa again and I enjoyed my eggs benedict.

2. Today the regular baseball season ended. With it came the end to Silver Valley Leagues 1 and 2 in ESPN Fantasy Baseball. Since April, once I made my morning coffee, the first thing I've done every morning is find out which of my team's players played that day, checked to see if I wanted to drop any players and add free agents, and set my lineups for the coming day in both leagues. During every day, I've looked at my phone fairly regularly to see how my teams are doing. Participating with Cas and Seth and Ginger and Fitz and Kennaugh and four other guys I've never met in these leagues has been a blast.

The daily competition was fun, but best of all it got me back into following baseball closer than I have for years. I know that I quit following baseball closely years ago because I didn't have other friends who were deeply into it, but that changed when I moved back to the Silver Valley. It's been rejuvenating to talk and text baseball with Cas and to see Seth and Ginger at the Lounge and talk baseball with them. I can't do what I could as a much younger guy and recite every team's starting lineup, but I am more familiar with teams and players than I have been in a long time.

I look forward to the Major League Baseball playoffs, starting on Tuesday, but I'm a bit dejected that this season of Fantasy Baseball League is over.

In League 1, I never succeeded at putting together an effective pitching staff for the Sunnyside Oddfellowz and I finished 7th out of ten teams in that league.

In League 2, which features head to head weekly competition, however, my team, the Kellogg Johnniez, finished the regular season winning four out of the last five weeks' matches and advanced to the winner's bracket of the playoffs and finished in the money, in third place. The Johnniez had good hitting up and down the lineup, but the Johnniez's pitching staff was inconsistent. I'll try to improve both my pitching staffs next year, but Major League Baseball today is dominated by great hitters and I think putting a strong staff together will be very challenging.

To fill the void left by the end of the Fantasy League, I'll prepare for the 2020 player draft, coming in March. For the 2019 season, I let ESPN's computer draft for me, but, unless I'm busy with something else, I'll do my own drafting next season.

3. Christy and Everett hosted family dinner tonight. Christy's dinner was a perfect answer to the weird cold snap we're in the midst of here in North Idaho. For starters, she fixed us each an Old-Fashioned and then, to further ward off the this late September chill, she served a hearty beef barley soup. In the spirit of enjoying comfort food, Christy also prepared each of us a wedge salad with a very tasty homemade bleu cheese dressing. For dessert we had a delicious cake that I remember being something like almond bourbon (but it might have a better name than that) accompanied by small pours of Amaretto. It was a night of lively conversation and I got kind of dizzy when the calendars came out and we all talked about the activities coming up in October: I'm going to hear Bob Woodward speak in Spokane, Christy and Everett are going to Priest Lake, Carol and Paul will be in Moscow for the Univ. of Idaho homecoming, Carol will be traveling to Utah, and I'm sure I left out something.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/19: VFW Breakfast, Hunkered Down, *Echo in the Canyon*

1. Jake swung by around 8:30 or so this morning and we rumbled up to the V.F.W. Hall in Osburn for their fourth Saturday every month breakfast. DJ was busing tables. Eileen worked the kitchen. We were happy to see each other. I settled into a plate of one huckleberry pancake, some scrambled eggs, and a single sausage. I went back for seconds and enjoyed a biscuit with sausage gravy. The hall was buzzing with a good turnout and a lot of good will. On our way back to Kellogg, Jake drove us up Montgomery Gulch for old time's sake where the leaves were starting to turn orange, gold, and scarlet and we reminded ourselves where people we've known for years either still live or used to and swapped tales about time we spent up this gulch in our youth.

2. I got back home. Stu and Byrdman both sent me reports of snow where they live. In Kellogg, it was rainy and chilly, but I didn't see any snow fall during the day. I thought it would be a good day to hunker down and fix myself a brandy and hot water or two. That was a fun thought, but once I got settled in, watching the playoff bound Washington Nationals play the Cleveland Indians and as I got more and more absorbed in working more crosswords (the book I bought has 200 of them -- I'm almost to 70!), I never got myself up and moving to go down to the liquor store. To warm myself up, I heated leftover carrot/yam/apple/cauliflower soup I made on Thursday and suddenly had the bright idea that sour cream would taste good in it -- and I was right. The recipe recommended serving the soup with coconut milk, but I thought I'd go the other way and rather than further sweeten the soup, I'd give make it tangy. I liked it a lot.

3. Later in the evening, I popped myself a small bowl of popcorn and rented the very enjoyable music documentary, Echo in the Canyon. Cas had watched it not long ago and texted me that it was awesome and so I decided to give it a go. Cas is right. The movie delves into the genius of the pop/rock/folk music that grew out of Laurel Canyon, CA in the mid-1960s. Through interviews conducted by Jakob Dylan and television footage from about 1964-67, the movie explores the revolution in rock n roll created by The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, the Mamas and the Papas, The Association, and others; it also examines the impact The Beatles had on these groups and, in turn, the way these California groups inspired The Beatles.

The movie is anchored in a tribute concert performed in 2015 at the Orpheum. Jakob Dylan fronts a band that includes Regina Spektor, Jade Castrinos, Beck, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, and Norah Jones and they covered an array of songs originally peformed by bands in this movie. I loved hearing the parts of this concert that were in the movie and enjoyed the way the movie cut from these performances to interviews with Tom Petty (his last film appearance), Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, John Sebastian, Eric Clapton, Lou Adler, Roger McGuinn, Ringo Starr, and others and the way it weaved scenes from the movie Model Shop into the documentary.

If you ever spent time over fifty years ago listening to "In My Room", California Dreamin'", "Never My Love", "For What's It's Worth", "The Bells of Rhymney" and the other memorable and influential songs that came out of Southern California in the mid-1960s, and if you enjoyed these songs, I think chances are pretty damn good that you'll enjoy this movie.

Actually --- I loved it.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/19: flickr, Pizza at the Lounge, Konked Out Early

1.  I like to post selected pictures on my blog, but I post every picture I shoot that's in focus on my flickr page. Today I nearly finished getting all my pictures posted from my travels to the top of Idaho and on into British Columbia. My flickr album page is always right here.

2. Jake bought a pepperoni pizza at Zany's and called me to see if I wanted to meet him at the Lounge to have a few slices, drink a beer or two, and yak for a while. I sure did. It was a busy late afternoon at the Lounge and I got in some superb fantasy baseball yakkin' with Seth and Cas, shot the breeze with Eddie Joe, and had a lot of fun with Jake.

3. Back home, I uploaded some more pictures, hoping to finish putting together my largest photo album from my trip, but, to my surprise, I was very sleepy. I surrendered. Charly and I got settled in bed for the night and I was down for the night before 9:00.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Wetlands Near Crawford Bay, 09-23-19

The last thing I did in Crawford Bay on Monday before heading back to Idaho was walk a nearby wetlands trail. I don't know the migration patterns of waterfowl in this area, so I didn't know if I'd get to see and possibly photograph any birds. I didn't see any birds. So, I turned my attention to the clouds, mountains, and water.

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/19: Pictures from My Recent Trip, Boasting to Shawn, Carrot and Yam Soup

1. With it being a rainy day, I hunkered down and, for much of the day, edited and posted pictures that I took on my trip to Bonners Ferry and Crawford Bay, B.C. I also spent a lot of time thinking about how I might improve my picture taking in the future, particularly pictures of creeks and waterfalls. I have to be lenient with myself about one thing, though: upon reading some articles by professional photographers, I realized that when I hike into a watershed, taking pictures is not my primary reason for being there -- it's secondary to my immediate experience of what my senses experience and to the ways these places nourish my spirit. The articles I read were by photographers who go to a place with the primary purpose of photographing it -- they enter the water, carry equipment, and make decisions about when to go into these places based on the best times to photograph them. I don't do any of that. But, even though I'm not even close to being a pro, I am always looking for ways to improve.  I snapped quite a few pictures (that I didn't post) where I made mistakes I'd like to cut down on.

Here are the sets of pictures I have posted online so far:

Copper Falls, here.
Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge, here.
Myrtle Falls, here.
Pilot Bay Lighthouse, here.
Pilot Bay Trail, here.
Lockhart Creek and Beach, here.

2. In order to carry out my cooking project for today, I needed a few groceries. As I was checking out, to my delight, Shawn and Teresa were behind me. I have kind of a running joke going with both Shawn and Ed in which I exaggerate the wonder of the fact that I succeeded in carrying out a home repair or home improvement task. So, immediately, I told Shawn I had big news for him.

"Yeah...what is it?"
I puffed out my chest.
"I changed the batteries in the thermostat today all on my own and didn't even have to call you!"

Shawn and Teresa both laughed and we talked about some other things. I mentioned that Debbie was in Chicago for her 50th high school reunion and that I was feeling especially wild and frisky tonight so I was headed home to make carrot soup.

That was good for another pretty good laugh in the parking lot as we both piled in our vehicles and left.

3. So, when Adrienne, Josh, and Jack were here, it seems like whoever went to the store always picked up yet another package of baby carrots. When I arrived home from my North Idaho/B.C. trip, I realized we had quite a surplus so I decided I'd like to make some sort of carrot and ginger and yam soup and puree it in the blender. So, I chopped up onion, garlic, and fresh ginger and cooked them in the Dutch oven until tender and added in chopped yam, all the baby carrots I had on hand, and a box of vegetable broth. I brought this to a boil and then simmered it until I could put a fork through the carrots and yams and then added a head of fairly finely chopped cauliflower, turned off the heat, and let the soup sit for a while. I got out the blender and pureed batches of this mixture, put it back in the Dutch oven, added just a little too much salt, and decided this soup would taste good with cinnamon and added that. I added even more cinnamon to both of the two bowls I ate and, if I remember, I'll pick up some ground nutmeg at the store and add it, too.

I enjoy pureed (and cream) soups a lot. The rainy and cooler weather and cooking only for myself combined to make this the perfect day to prepare and enjoy this soup -- and I have plenty left over for the next couple of days to play around with -- nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and who knows what else?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lockhart Creek and Beach 09-22-19

South a ways from Crawford Bay, B.C. (where I stayed), right on the highway, are Lockhart Beach and Lockhart Creek Provincial Parks, adjacent to one another. I hiked for a couple of hours on the Lockhart Creek Trail and then walked the very short trail down to Lockhart Beach.

Pilot Bay Trail, 09-21-19

A little ways back toward Kootenai Bay is a turnoff to a parking lot for the Pilot Bay Trail. I hiked a part of it and also went down to the Sawmill Bay Beach.

Pilot Bay Lighthouse, 09-21-19

The trailhead to the Pilot Bay Lighthouse is a few miles south of Kootenai Bay, B.C. The hike to the lighthouse is not very long, but every step is stunning. Here are pictures from the trail, of the lighthouse's exterior and interior, and views from the lighthouse's perch.

Myrtle Falls, 09-20-19

The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge rests about 5-6 miles west of Bonners Ferry. The trailhead to Myrtle Falls is across the road from the Refuge's headquarters.

Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge, 09-19-19

Both Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge are in a county park just east of Troy on Highway 2. If you happen to out that way and want to see them, you can't miss the park or its generous parking lot.

Copper Falls, 09-19-19

Copper Falls can be found just east of Highway 95, just south of the border with Canada. Here are a couple of pictures of the trail, one picture of the falls from Copper Creek below the cascade, and pictures from the upper overlook perch.