Thursday, October 31, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/30/19: Ellie is Back Home, Youth and Experience, Rum and Hot Chocolate

1. Last week, on Tuesday, Ellie, our newborn granddaughter, was admitted into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit near where Adrienne and Josh live. She underwent a series of tests and was under observation until Tuesday of this week when she was cleared to return home.

It's been an anxious and exhausting week, especially for Adrienne and Josh. Debbie boarded a plane late Thursday night last week and is in New York helping out. Molly is also there. Members of Josh's family have also been on hand. 

For now, I don't have a firm enough understanding of the situation to write in any detail about it.

I am writing this to let anyone reading this know that Ellie has had difficulties, that she's home after a week in NICU, and that Debbie and Molly are in New York.

2. I sat speechless in the Vizio room tonight, thrilled.

The Nationals struggled for 7 and 1/3 innings to solidly hit the crafty deliveries of Astro pitcher, Zach Greinke. Then, with one out in the seventh, the eerily calm Anthony Rendon launched Greinke's one mistake into the left field seats and cut the Astro's lead to 2-1. Greinke thought he'd struck out Juan Soto, but the home plate umpire didn't see it that way.  Soto walked.

Greinke got pulled.

A tired Will Harris took the mound and Howie Kendrick slammed a Harris cutter that hung on the outer edge of the plate the opposite way, down the right field line. The ball struck the foul pole. It was fair. I yelped, "OH MY GOD!"

Howie had just hit another dramatic home run to put the Nationals up by a run, a lead they added to in the next couple of innings and the Washington Nationals won their fourth straight game in Houston's ball park, this one 6-2, and won the World Series.

When Max Scherzer took the mound tonight, no one knew what to expect. Just a few days ago, he was suffering spasms in his back and neck that were so severe he couldn't dress himself. He underwent intense treatments, was administered a cortisone shot, somehow recovered, and delivered a gutty five inning performance tonight. Every inning, the Astros had men on base and, time after time, Scherzer pitched out of jams, only surrendering two runs when he could have easily given up six or seven. Patrick Corbin then pitched three innings of stingy relief, shutting out the Astros, and Daniel Hudson closed out the game, retiring the dangerous Springer, Altuve, and Brantley in order.

Back a couple of weeks ago, I wrote how much I enjoyed the Nationals' blend of young and very experienced players. I hadn't realized when I wrote those words that the Nationals were the oldest team in the majors. Tonight, they got great play out of the young (Soto and Rendon and Corbin) and the old (Scherzer and Kendrick) and, after the game, player after player remarked how much the Nationals' success grew out of the enthusiasm the younger player injected into the team and out of the instruction the older players passed on to the kids.

It was thrilling.

3. I say when it's cold in Kellogg and the World Series is being played at night, fix a couple of cheater Red Hook pint glasses full of hot chocolate and rum.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/19: It's Cold, Acclimating, Trivia and Mud Pie at the Rock City Grill

1. It's January in Kellogg this week. It's not quite an Arctic freeze. Temperatures have not dropped near zero, but they are in the teens. I love the clear skies and the late October sunshine, but it takes me a few days to get adjusted to being outside for long when it's first cold like this. I had planned to walk uptown and, on the way, drop off the Avista bill payment before going up to deposit a check at the bank.

But, I drove to Avista's payment drop off, then drove uptown, and drove to Yoke's. I wasn't ready to face the freezing wind in my face just yet.

2. Back home, I wrote out a birthday card and decided I'd start acclimating to this weather by walking down to the mailbox down at Hill and Cameron. I enjoyed getting my legs moving again and when I got home, I relieved the chill on my face and in my bones by sipping on a couple shots of brandy. It was a pleasant way to warm up!

3. Around 4:30, I hopped in the Sube and plunged back into the North Idaho vortex and drove to the Conoco station just south of I-90 on Highway 3 and Linda was waiting for me in her pickup. I parked, hopped in the truck, and we were off to Spokane's South Hill, off to the Rock City Grill, to meet up again with Mary and Kathy to play trivia. Linda and I got in more solid yakking on the way over and back. We got settled in at our table at the bar and I ordered a classic dry gin martini stirred with olives. I also met Kathy and Mary's friend Beth. She lives in Kathy's apartment complex and, as it turned out, she had lived many years in Eugene where she worked at Sacred Heart, went to Law School, and even taught night school at LCC. I ordered a French dip on pretzel bread which I enjoyed a lot and soon the questions were being announced. We had a little trouble with the Great Lakes questions, were a little shaky on the Animal Kingdom category, and weren't as knowledgeable about Brad Pitt movies as we might have liked, but we had a blast enjoying one another's company.

Toward the end of the night, Mary decided to treat us all to a shared dessert and suddenly two jaw-dropping dishes appeared: a mammoth piece of Gi-normous Mud Pie and a piece of cake called Chocolate Decadence, served with vanilla ice cream.

Oh. My. God.

I enjoyed the way the Gi-normous Mud Pie transported me back to when I went to Whitworth and then was first married and living in Spokane. For many of us, in those days, it was a real treat to go to a restaurant called Chapter Eleven and have their Mud Pie. Until 1978, Whitworthians had to venture down to the corner of Mission and Ruby to go to Chapter Eleven, but then a Chapter Eleven opened near the Y intersection on North Division and Chapter Eleven's salad bar, prime rib, steaks, and Mud Pie were much closer to the campus and became even more popular for students and faculty at Whitworth College.

So, tonight, the dessert was sweet, as were the memories.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/19: Dad's Birthday, Cooking, Watching the Movie *Mud*

1. If it were 1995 today instead of 2019 and I were living in Eugene and not in Kellogg, I would have called Dad and wished him a Happy Birthday. So, I was left to imagine, if instead of Dad dying twenty-three years ago, in 1996, what might we have talked about today on his 89th birthday? In my imagination, he's living in the house I'm living in now. I'm in Eugene. We'd talk about the World Serious (as he called it) and discuss the upcoming Game 6. He'd have been thrilled that, like him, I married a teacher, that I am a stepfather, and that he is great-grandfather five times over and so he'd ask me how all the kids were doing and tell me he enjoys looking at pictures of everyone when Christy or Carol bring over their computers. He'd tell me he wished he felt better because he always wanted to go to New England and see the fall colors and maybe see a ball game in Fenway Park and he'd want to know more about my last visit to D.C. and New York and that he liked the pictures I sent him and Mom. He'd tell me it's awfully cold in Kellogg, that he turned off the outside water and needs to get the hoses in and that everyone was over on Sunday for an early birthday dinner and Mom fixed everyone a sirloin steak and a baked potato and tonight he's drinking some Christian Brothers brandy and Christy helped him find a music station on the Dish tv that plays the music he loves and I can hear the sounds of Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, and Teresa Brewer in the background as we finish our conversation and I hang up the phone and finish drinking what he calls my "crap beer"  ("I don't know how you can stand that shit"), and put my dinner dishes in the dishwasher.

2. The other day I bought a couple of smoked ham shanks and today I put them in the crock pot with onion and celery and cauliflower and salt and pepper and it's simmering away and will soon become the stock for another batch of soup. While it bubbled away, I chopped up onion, garlic, and celery, got it cooking in the cast iron pan and added some ground beef and cooked it all together. Later I added a can of black beans and I boiled some noodles, added them in, and I enjoyed eating this modest concoction for dinner.

3. Charly was a little bit whimpery early this evening -- possibly just a little restless. I had thought I might go out tonight and see a play at the high school, but I decided I didn't want to leave Charly home alone this evening -- especially since I'm going to Spokane to play Tuesday night trivia and am returning to Spokane on Saturday for a Whitworth jazz concert and spending the night.

The Blu-ray version of the movie, Mud, came floating into my mailbox from Netflix a while ago and I decided that since today was a travel day for the Astros and Nationals that I'd see if Charly would like to be in the Vizio room with me while this movie was on.

Charly did want that. In fact, she quieted down, relaxed on the rug, got comfortable, and we had a good evening together.

Soon I was absorbed in this movie. I gave myself over to its blend of realism and fantasy. On the one hand, the movie explores the lives of two teen-age boys living broken and breaking lives in rural Arkansas on the Mississippi River. One boy, Neckbone, doesn't know who his parents are and lives with his uncle. The other boy, Ellis, is living with his mom and dad whose marriage is disintegrating.

The more (to me) fantastical dimension of the story involves an island on the river. The boys sneak away to this island in a motorboat and discover a boat up in a tree. On one of their visits, they discover that a man lives on the island.

His name is Mud.

The movie is mostly focused on the relationship between Mud and the two boys.

I'll leave it at that -- except to say that a story exploring Ellis' loss of innocence (not in a creepy way) and his gaining of experience unfolds on the island, back in town, and between Ellis and his mom and dad.

When I popped this movie into the machine, I knew Matthew McConaughey played the role of Mud to well-earned acclaim. What I didn't realize, though, was this movie was loaded with other superb actors. The roles of Ellis and Neckbone were played brilliantly by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. Sarah Paulson and Reese Witherspoon play their small roles with power. In a perfect world of movie making, two spin off movies growing out of Mud, each focusing on each of these characters' stories, would get filmed and we'd watch Paulson and Witherspoon flesh out their complicated characters fully and see the full range of their prowess as actors. 

I loved seeing a grizzled Sam Shepard in this movie.  Michael Shannon played Neckbone's hard-working, roguish, and caring uncle masterfully. Joe Don Baker brought both menace and a kind of corrupted gravitas to his minor role. Lastly, I hope to dive deeper into the work of Ray McKinnon. I am eager to see if he occupies other character roles as fully in other shows as he occupied being Ellis' laconic and confused dad in Mud. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/19: Sleeping In, Chili and Cornbread Muffins, Astros Blaze to Victory

1. Charly woke me up at around 4:30 or 5, hungry, thirsty, and needing to go outside. When she was done, I carried her back in and seized the opportunity to have the bed to myself. Once Charly's done her morning business, she's happy to lie down on the rug in the living room. I slept until after 8:00, a rarity.

2. I had about half a container of the delicious chili Christy made. While at Yoke's, I decided to bake cornbread muffins and, for the first time in longer than I can remember, I bought a small box of Jiffy mix. Before the World Series got underway, I had a great meal of chili and cornbread muffins and now I'm going to look into a copycat recipe and see if I can make cornbread that tastes similar to what comes out of the box.

3.  This evening, I just didn't feel like listening to Fox's pregame show, so when I tuned into Game 5 of the World Series as the game was starting, I didn't know that the Nationals' Max Scherzer was suffering from neck and back spasms and stiffness and would not be pitching tonight.

My spirits sunk. I'm wondering if the collective spirit of the Nationals had also sunk. Until this weekend, they were riding a crest of enthusiasm and confidence: they defeated the Dodgers in their first playoff round, swept the Cardinals in the NLCS, and defeated the Astros in the first two games of this series, in Houston. But, thud, the Nationals lost Games 3 and 4 at home. Now, it's the Astros who look rested and confident are acting like their old joyous selves.

So, tonight, the Astros pitched Gerrit Cole, the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball over the last five to six months. With Scherzer on the shelf, the Nationals turned to Joe Ross a member of their staff who has pitched infrequently in the playoffs and had a mediocre 2019 season.

It looked like a terribly lopsided match up strongly favoring the Astros.

And it was.

Listening to the broadcast, I could tell both Joe Buck and John Smoltz were trying to persuade us viewers that Joe Ross was hanging in there, putting forth a game effort under the circumstances, and, they said, keeping the Nationals in the ball game.

Well, the fact of the matter is that in the second inning, Yordan Alvarez clubbed a two run homer over 400 feet to center field in the second inning and, in the fourth, albeit after getting a terrible call all on potential strike three call from the home plate umpire, Joe Ross hung a slider that must have looked like a volleyball to Carlos Correa and, with a runner on base, he powdered it nearly 400 feet into the left field stands for another two-run round tripper.

Gerrit Cole pitched masterfully ("he's a virtuoso" said one of the tv guys) for seven innings, giving up only one run when Juan Soto went yard to center field and the Astro relievers, Joe Smith and Ryan Pressly efficiently mopped up the Nats in the 8th and 9th innings and the Astros cruised to a 7-1 victory.


Now, in order to win the World Series, the Nationals have to win two games in Houston.

Their chances Tuesday hinge on how well they can score runs against the overpowering and wily Justin Verlander and how well the Nats' reliably stingy righty Stephen Strasburg can hold the powerful, fast, versatile, and emotionally pumped up Astros' offense in check.

I'll be playing trivia with Kathy, Linda, and Mary on Tuesday evening at the Rock City Grill in south Spokane, but will do my best to keep an eye on the World Series while doing my best to help out my teammates at the trivia table.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/26/19: VFW Breakfast, Pork & Apple Feed, Astros Look Hot

1. Huckleberry pancake with butter. Scrambled eggs. A couple of link sausages. Back to the line. A biscuit with sausage gravy. Coffee.  I enjoy going to Osburn's VFW Hall on the 4th Saturday of the month for their fund raising breakfast. The food is delicious. I always see DJ and Eileen. Today I got to talk with Mike Grebil for a while. As I continue to live in the Silver Valley, I want to go to as many of these breakfasts and other feeds as I can. I've started checking the community board at Yoke's to make sure I know about ones coming up and they are often advertised on Facebook. As I try to become more and more a part of life around here, these food events are central.

2. In fact, it was because of wanting to do more feeds that a few weeks ago I made plans to go to the Pork and Apple Feed at the Elks tonight and Ed and I went. What a fun-filled night! Ed and I arrived right at 5:00. I bought a slug of raffle tickets, put a blue ticket in the box in front of each prize I was interested in winning on one table and all my pink tickets went into the tumbler for a shot at winning one of the big prizes.  Ed and I joined Danny, Sharon, Bert, and Cindy and I drank a few cans of Miller beer and joined in the yakking and laughing and entertaining each other until the chow line formed.

Servers at the front of the hall filled my plate with tender, moist pork, brown-sugared fried apple slices, a small bowl of baked beans, a dinner roll, and cole slaw. As we all neared the end of our splendid meal, Harley and a KHS student, a woman also named Harley, took over the room and worked together on raffling off prizes and getting the kids' elk race going a few times*.  Harley and Harley have been working together on this for over ten years. In fact, young Harley is currently a cast member in the school play this weekend at KHS and went to the director, brother-in-law Paul, and asked if the Saturday performance could happen at a time that would allow her to jet up to the Elks afterward so she could help her sidekick Harley with the drawings. Sure enough, Paul set the performance for 4 o'clock. Harley performed in the play, arrived at the Elks, and was, once again, part of what the two of them call the Harley and Harley Show.

(See why I love these feeds?)

I won a loaf of what looked to me like zucchini bread, but it might have been banana bread or another kind. So that he could pack this bread in his lunches this coming week, I gave my prize to Ed. He liked that.

3. Baseball can be a streaky game and looks like possibly the Houston Astros have snapped out of a bad streak into a good one and that the Nationals have possibly moved the other direction. Because I was yakking, laughing, and eating, I didn't watch tonight's Game 4 of the World Series closely, but I watched enough to know that the Astros jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning; I saw Alex Bregman trotting around the bases after catapulting a shot into the seats for a grand slam; and, I know the Nationals never got much offense going and lost the game 8-1.

I'm a little bummed out.

Because I loved living near Washington, D.C. and fell in love with that city, I am hoping for a Nationals' World Series title. Tonight's game is huge, as is the fifth game of any World Series. It's odd that neither team has won a game at home. For Game 5, the Nationals will have one of their aces, Max Scherzer on the mound, but the Astros will counter with the powerful Gerrit Cole. Last Tuesday, the Nationals defeated the Astros with Cole on the mound. For me, it would be awesome if they could do it again.

I hate to say it, but I don't have a good feeling about Game 5. If, as it appears, the mighty Astros are on a roll, they will be difficult to defeat tonight.

All the same, GO NATS!

* The Pork and Apple feed features an elk race for the children present. It features a board with six elk on it going from the top to the bottom of the board. Each elk is on some kind of slider. The children all fill out entry forms and pick if they want to have elk # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 "race" for them. One adult rolls dice and whatever is rolled determines which elk moves forward how many spaces. A second adult has what looks like a pool cue and slides the designated elk forward the designated spaces. In short order, one of the six elk wins the race and the child (or children) who picked that elk wins a prize. The children come up to the board, sit in front of it, and cheer for their elk as it moves ahead. It's a sweet game. Tonight they played if four, maybe five, times.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/19: Day Trip to the St. Joe, Calder Store Rest Stop, It Was Bound to Happen

1. I parked the Sube at the Bull Run Trailhead of the Trail of the CdAs, sprang into Byrdman's rig, and we headed down Highway 2 and eventually turned off at the road that goes along the St. Joe River heading to Avery and took a stunning side trip up Marble Creek and then Boulder Creek. On the way, we stopped at a few places along the Chain Lakes. Everywhere we looked, the western larches (out here we also call them tamaracks) were aflame, lighting up the hillsides with gold. Up Boulder Creek a huge logging operation was wrapping up on a very steep hillside. Both Boulder and Marble Creek ran strong, filling their canyons with sound of rushing water. Our stops were fairly frequent and several times I wanted to step outside of the constraints of time and the responsibilities I have back in Kellogg and not leave the St. Joe River basin. But, that's not the way things work and we kept moving on. I posted a few randomly chosen pictures at the bottom of this post and if you'd like to see more of my pictures, they are posted on my flickr page, here.

2. Byrdman's second cousin, Jeff, runs the Calder Store Restaurant and Lounge and we stopped in to visit Jeff, drink a couple of beers, and to enjoy a hamburger and fries. We sat down at the bar. A guy there who was helping the superb bartender, Julie, make Jello shots, told us Jeff was in the house and soon he appeared, took a stool, lit up a cigarette, and he and Jim yakked and got caught up on stuff. There is nothing modern, fancy, or shiny about the Calder store. It's rustic and friendly, featuring a menu of solid bar food (burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, chicken strips, etc.), tacos on Tuesdays, and prime rib some other time -- not sure when -- maybe the weekend. Jeff used to cook at the Ground Round, now Nosworthy's Hall of Fame, and several years ago decided to take his talents to Calder and run this place and be the cook here. There's some live music in the summer, karaoke and dart tournaments in the colder months, plenty of Jello shots, two dollar bottles of beer, and a ton of friendliness and local color. We had an awesome visit.

3. I guess it was bound to happen. At some point, the Nationals would have a game when they didn't come up with hits with men on base and when the Astros would touch up one of their pitchers a bit. It happened tonight and the Astros won Game 3 of the World Series, 4-1. While the Astros' 36 year old veteran Zach Greinke isn't the overpowering pitcher he used to be, tonight, for nearly five innings, he mixed his variety of spinning pitches with the occasional fastball and kept the Nationals' hitters from mounting any sustained rallies. Once Astro manager AJ Hinch thought Greinke was spent, the Astros' bullpen took over and the Nationals couldn't sustain any kind of offense against the five hurlers who pitched in relief.

It was a tough night for the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman nearly got beaned when Josh James lost control of a fastball that sent Zimmerman spinning to the ground. Zimmerman was slow to gather himself and return to the batters' box. He struck out. Trea Turner hit a foul ball that ricocheted directly into his groin. He dropped to the ground. Several minutes of Turner wincing, taking deep breaths, gingerly returning to his feet, and regaining his equilibrium passed before he returned to the plate. He also struck out. Catcher Kurt Suzuki suffered an injury to his hip flexor as he scooted laterally to block an errant Fernando Rodney delivery. He remained in the game until Rodney retired the Astros, but then took himself out.

On offense, the Astros didn't overpower the Nationals. They scored single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th innings. Jose Altuve scored twice. Michael Brantley knocked him in both times. Robinson Chirinos homered.

In the end, it was pretty simple: the Astros got three timely hits with men on base and the Nationals only came through once.

It was bound to happen some time.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday's road trip:

Friday, October 25, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/19: Sprinkler Blow Out, No Gas Leak, Crossword Puzzles

1. I wanted to be home when the guy came to blow out our sprinklers. His company told me he'd call and let me know what time he'd arrive. And that's what happened. He called around 3:00 or so and arrived, blew out the sprinklers -- it didn't take long -- and he was gone.

2. While doing his job, the sprinkler guy told me thought he could smell gas outside the house. I called Avista and guy came over to check it out. Everything is fine. The Avista guy thinks the sprinkler guy smelled the odor that comes through the vent whenever the furnace first kicks on.

3. Not too many weeks ago, I bought a book of 200 Wednesday NYTimes crossword puzzles. Wednesday puzzles are medium level puzzles. That's just right for me, and, today, while I waited for the sprinkler guy, I worked two or three of these puzzles. It was a perfect way to follow up on playing trivia in Spokane Wednesday night -- and, who knows? Possibly it was good training for the next time I play trivia.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/19: Chicken Stock, Splendid Drives with Linda, Trivia at the Riverbank Taphouse

1. I decided that after nearly two days, the chicken stock had simmered long enough in the crock pot and I let it cool down, strained it, and transferred it into containers. Next up? I bought a couple of ham shanks and I'll be turning them into stock.

2. I don't remember the last time Linda Lavigne (KHS, '71) and I had a conversation. Oh -- I've run into her at the last couple of all-class reunions, but it was just a "Hi! How are ya? Great! Great to see you!" kind of thing. Around 4:30, I swung by Linda's place out in what we used to call The Canyon and we rocketed in the Sube to the Northern Quest Casino to join forces with Mary Chase and Kathy Brainard to play trivia at the Riverbank Taphouse.

Linda and I have deep roots in the Silver Valley. We grew up in the same church. We knew a lot of the same people in high school. We've both experienced our share of difficulties over the years -- so we had a lot to talk about going to Northern Quest and coming back. I learned a lot about Linda's family, about people with whom we went to high school, people I've lost track of, but whom Linda has been good friends with over the years, about friends of her family, and much more. 

Linda carries many especially fond memories of our church when it was uptown across from what is now Radio Brewing. Her stories and memories about the creaky interior of the building, the smells of our church, the thrift store the church ran just down the street, and other things helped fragments of my own memories surface. Linda expressed deep affection for our church and I enjoyed how her memories stirred my affection for the place, too.

3. I don't remember the last time I visited the Northern Quest Casino. The place has undergone a ton of expansion since I was last there. Linda and I strolled in, immediately spotted the Riverbank Taphouse, settled in at a table and ordered drinks (I enjoyed a very good wet hop 2IPA from Crux) and soon Mary and Kathy popped in and joined us. I ordered a plate of delicious Bahn Mi Chicken Tacos with an Asian slaw on the side and soon the guy running the trivia game got tonight's action rolling.

The four of us had a lot of fun. Yeah, we got stumped a few times -- we were not very strong when it came to #1 country music hits -- but we got questions about Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and a few others right! Mary and I were disappointed in ourselves that we couldn't come up with the Greek historian Herodotus as the answer to the last, and most difficult, question of the night.

So, we didn't win the trivia game, but, a panel of highly trained experts determined that our team name, "The Slam Dunkers" was the best name in the room and so we won a bag of prizes that included Skittles, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, a Red Hook beer glass, stickers from Fremont Brewing, and a keychain with a Lilliputian flip-flop attached to it. (Did I forget anything?) Team names had to include "lam" in them.

At the end of the competition, our server snapped our picture. I don't think our faces are showing too much strain and fatigue after about 90 minutes of trying to answer grueling questions about fruits, US presidents, country music, and other random categories!

L to R: Bill, Linda, Mary, Kathy

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/19: Scouting Kellogg, Lack of Focus!, World Series at the Lounge

1. I have a modest picture taking project in mind to do in Kellogg, but until I actually get it going, I'm keeping my idea to myself. I miss having an ongoing project. My two favorites in Eugene were when I took pictures of people holding hands and when I took pictures of places to sit on people's porches, in their yards, and other places. So, today, I did some scouting in Kellogg and soon I'll start this project and see if it works.

2. I drove up the river today to take pictures. On the first part of my outing, I screwed up. I've been itching to take my manual lenses out and, for today, I mounted my Tamron 28mm manual lens on my Nikon. I parked in the Coal Creek parking area that opens up immediately upon turning off Forest Service Road 9 just past mile marker 13.  Instead of heading up the trail, I went out along Road 9 and took pictures of the river, the trees that had turned yellow, and the rock faces across the river. I entered into serious tunnel thinking. I was severely preoccupied with composition and with getting the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture as close to right as I could.

I was so preoccupied that I forgot that I also had to manually adjust the focus.

I realized this a while later when I stopped on the Old River Road not far from Albert's Place. Not one of the pictures I took up by Coal Creek was any good. For a second, I started to reprimand myself for all the pictures I've taken over the years, not only using, but depending on, automatic focus. Then I laughed at myself. And, at this new spot on the river, I took a series of pictures mindful of the exposure, composition, and, ta da!, focus.

I jumped back in the Sube and drove a short ways up Wall Ridge Road. I loved the views, but I didn't much care for the road surface once the paved part ended. I found a place to turn around, came back down to the Old River Road, and decided that soon I'm going to return to this area, park the Sube somewhere close to Albert's Country Store, and walk/hike up Wall Ridge Road and take some landscape pictures up there. 

3. Back home, I got a text from Cas inviting me to watch Game 1 of the World Series up at the Lounge. I had planned on watching at home and welcomed this change of plans. Doug Y came up, too, and the three of us settled in at the bar and watched the game unfold.

I felt a little giddy, eager to see how the Washington Nationals would perform after nearly a week layoff. Both teams started their premier pitchers. The Astros' Gerrit Cole hadn't lost a start since May 22 and had looked indomitable in his recent playoff outings against the Yankees and Rays. The Nationals countered with Max Scherzer who has been a little bit inconsistent, but overcome his laspes with guile and guts.

Scherzer can be a bit wobbly early in games and, sure enough, in the bottom of the first, Scherzer walked George Springer, surrendered a single to Jose Altuve, and, after striking out two hitters, gave up a double to Yuli Gurriel and the Astros grabbed a quick 2-0 lead.

I felt some low level dread. Scherzer was not sharp. He was throwing a lot of pitches and with the way Cole has been pitching over the last five months, just a slim 2-0 lead seemed huge for the Astros.

But, I should know by now. The Nationals are a team of battlers, used to being down in games, well-practiced in comebacks.

Sure enough, in the top of the second, Ryan Zimmerman hit a towering home run. Scherzer continued to struggle, but the Astros, despite putting several runners on base, didn't score.

In the top of the fourth inning, Juan Soto hit a solo blast and then, in the top of the fifth, after Adam Eaton hit a run-scoring single, Soto scorched a double to left field, driving in two runs.

I stared, stunned, at the Lounge's tv screen above the bar. I almost started pinching myself. Oh my God! The Nationals scored five runs off of Gerrit Cole.

Max Scherzer wobbled on. He pitched himself out of some tight spots, but, having thrown 112 pitches, left the game after five innings. A string of relievers followed. The Astros chipped away at the Nats' lead. The fearsome George Springer homered in the seventh and slammed a double that drove in a run in the eighth, but with two out in the eighth, Sean Dolittle got the third out and slammed the door on the Astros in the ninth.

It's a huge win for the Nationals. They won against the Astros' best pitcher. Their own ace, Max Scherzer, struggled, but prevailed. It's always a big deal to win a game in a seven game series on the road.

For Game 2, both teams again have powerful pitchers starting: Verlander for the Astros and Strasburg for the Nationals.

I don't know what to expect.

Even though I was a bone head today out taking pictures, I'd thought I'd post a few of the pictures I took on the Old River Road.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/19: Coffee with Ed, Chicken Stock, Learning More About Photography

1. I had just put on water to boil to fix oatmeal this morning and my phone rang. I couldn't believe it. It was Ed. Ed's been working long hours and many days over the last several months, but this morning he got off work really early and called me to see if I wanted coffee. I did. We met at The Bean. We yakked about a bunch of stuff, including roads and places in the CdA River Basin. Ed used to haul a lot of logs out places well up from where Byrdman and I were last Thursday and he explained to me where any number of roads go to, where key junctions are, and what some of the views are like. Once Ed retires, he and Stu and I want to go on some day trips and I hope we'll go into some of this country to enjoy the beauty and so Ed can relive some of his days many years ago working for Kellogg Transfer.

Ed and I also made a plan to go to the Elks on Saturday evening for the Chamber of Commerce's annual Pork and Apple Festival for dinner, raffle, drawings, prizes, and fun.

2. Into the crock pot, I put the leftover chicken bones from the stew I made on Sunday along with celery, celery greens, a chopped onion, bay leaves, and some salt and pepper all together, poured water over it, turned on the slow cooker, and by late afternoon, the smell of bubbling chicken stock filled the house.

3. I stayed inside while it rained today. I spent much of the afternoon reading about different Nikon camera lenses, wondering if I wanted to add to my modest collection, and, in the course of my reading, refreshed and added to my understanding of exposure. It's been quite a while since I devoted time to this kind of reading, including rereading a very informative email about Nikon lenses that Rick Taylor sent me about three years ago. I don't know that I absorbed what I read well enough to be able to repeat it, say, in conversation, but, after today, some technical knowledge about cameras and lenses and exposure sunk in more deeply.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/19: Chicken Stew, Tamron 28mm Lens, Apple Pie at Christy and Everett's

1. I bought a whole chicken at Yoke's today and guided by a recipe for Tuscan Chicken Stew I used to make in Greenbelt, I made a big pot of chicken stew. I decided I didn't want the Tuscan ingredients -- no tomatoes, potatoes, Italian seasoning, or paprika. Instead, I fixed the stew with onions, carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower along with black beans and white ones. I'm a little concerned that the broccoli might be dominating the soup's taste, but, if so, I might be able to do something to mitigate that. I didn't have a bowl of stew tonight, but I've got four quarts, some to freeze and some to enjoy in the near future. If you'd like to see the Tuscan Chicken Stew recipe, just click here.

On Monday, I'll throw the chicken bones, some meat, a chopped onion, and some celery with seasonings and water into the crock pot and get a batch of chicken broth going.

2. I mentioned a little while back that I brought my modest amount of camera gear out of the upstairs and put it in the Vizio room. This simple move has me motivated to get some of my other lenses out and learn how to use them again. It's a challenge, but, back in the old days in Eugene, I used to enjoy mounting a manual lens on my Nikon. It forces me not to rely on autofocus and to make decisions about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO without automatic metering help. I also enjoy the little clicking sound the lens makes when I manually change the f-stops. Today, I started to get reacquainted with my 28mm (fixed) Tamron lens and shot just a few pictures around the house to get back into the swing of using a manual lens. It was a short session, but really fun and has me kind of fired up to see what I can do with the Tamron.

3. Christy is working hard to clean up, refurnish, and brighten up her basement. She also had the misfortune of having the lift chair she inherited from Mom crap out beyond repair. She asked Carol, Paul, and I to come over and help put the lift chair in the pickup for a dump run and move other items out of the basement, either to go to the dump or to Carol and Paul's.

We did it. We also toured the emerging basement project.

AND, Christy baked a delicious apple pie and we all joined together in her living room and ate pie and ice cream.

We had fun talking about school hot lunch and how lucky we were to have cooks on site baking bread and rolls and fixing meals like witches' brew, mashed potatoes with hamburger gravy, oven baked chicken, and a number of other dishes we remembered fondly.

We also learned today that Debbie, Patrick, and Meagan will be coming to Kellogg together from Portland on Thanksgiving Day. Carol and Paul will be in Meridian, so it will be up to Christy and me to plan the Thanksgiving menu. We got off to a blazing start tonight doing just that. Last year, Travis and Molly joined Christy, Everett, and me for Thanksgiving and it was a lot of fun. We know Travis and Molly are not going to Meridian. Will they come to Kellogg again? We don't know, but they are absolutely welcome to join us.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/19: Composing Pictures, I'm Not Very Technical, Altuve and the Astros Win!

1. Once again today, I spent a lot of time working with pictures. When I used to take more street pictures, I developed a sense of how I wanted to compose those pictures. I'm not sure I have words for what I learned, but I do know that, for me, composing pictures is always the last concern I have when getting ready to open the shutter. (That's not good.) My primary concerns, which are fine, have always been focus and light -- aperture, shutter, and ISO settings. But, on Thursday, as I took more pictures of the landscape up the Little North Fork, I became more aware of how I was composing my shots.

I know that I got a little bit fixated on mist but I wasn't paying enough attention to how I framed the mist cozying up to the trees and leaves on the hillsides or my attempts at framing often didn't work very well. But, at some point, I thought about the pictures I took on Wednesday on the Health and Wellness Trail. My best shots were ones with the trail running through the frame -- I don't really have words for what the trail's purpose was in these compositions, but, on Thursday, as I started composing with the road or the river in the frame, I thought my compositions were better and I spent time yesterday and today studying this.

The pictures I snapped up the Little North Fork are collected in an album over at flickr. It's right here.

2.  The technical ways really good photographers write about composition doesn't stick with me. In all things (writing, teaching, taking pictures, cooking), I'm not much of a technician. I tend to develop a feel for things. So, when taking pictures, I have to rely on making myself go beyond pointing and shooting -- which, for me, means not just photographing what looks good to my eye, but trying to imagine what will make a decently composed picture (my success at this is mixed) and I have to pretty much trust my instincts because all those things I've read about composition technique never makes its way to my consciousness while I take pictures. I have to trust, I guess, that what I've read and learned is at work somewhere inside me. I know while I'm taking pictures, what I've learned about composition is not often occupying my train of thought -- if I even have a train of thought while shooting.

3. I closed my Chromebook and my PC later in the afternoon and settled into watching Game 6 of the ACLS. In one way, at least, this game was going to be very different from baseball games I've watched over most of the years of my life.

Neither team employed what is commonly called a starting pitcher. Rather than looking to the pitchers who opened tonight's game to pitch anywhere from 5-7 innings, both teams were planning on employing a parade of pitchers, each of them pitching one or two innings, or maybe a little more. Both the Yankees and the Astros carry numerous short inning pitchers (what we used to call relievers) on their roster. Both teams needed to rest their traditional starting pitchers. So, what is now called "a bullpen game" got underway.

Byrdman and I agreed that this game might turn into a slugfest and, in the beginning, it looked like we might be right as Yuri Gurriel powered a three run homer into the left field seats in the bottom of the first, catapulting the Astros to an early 3-0 lead. But, until the ninth inning, the game progressed without a lot of fireworks. The Yankees scratched out a run on a couple of hits in the second inning; Gio Urshela slammed a solo shot in the fourth and the Astros scored on a fielder's choice in the sixth.

Over the first eight innings, both teams left several runners on base who were in scoring position. The Astros left six, the Yankees left five. The slugfest never really materialized, well, until the ninth inning.

In the top of the ninth, with the Astro's top reliever, Roberto Osuna on the mound, Gio Urshela rapped a sharp single to left to open the inning. Osuna struck out Brett Gardner. Then DJ LeMahieu, one of baseball's most disciplined and dangerous hitters, strode to the plate. LeMahieu battled Osuna; he took a ball, swung and missed on the next pitch, and then fouled off five of Orsuna's next six offerings. LaMahieu took Orsuna's ninth pitch of this at bat for a ball. With the count 3-2, on Orsuna's tenth pitch, LaMahieu muscled a cutter on the outer edge of the plate the opposite way to right field. Right fielder George Springer drifted back to the wall, timed his leap perfectly, stretched his left arm as far as it would go, and LaMahieu's blast dropped into the stands, just inches out of Springer's reach.

LaMahieu's two-run shot tied the game, 4-4. Now Osuna had to gather himself and face slugger Aaron Judge. He struck him out. Osuna ended the inning when he coaxed Gleyber Torres to fly out harmlessly to left field.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees had their best reliever, Aroldus Chapman, rested and ready to pitch. I figured this game was headed to extra innings when Chapman mowed down Martin Maldonado on strikes and overpowered Josh Reddick, who hit a weak pop-up to third. I didn't have confidence that the slumping George Springer would reach base against the dominating Aroldus Chapman, but Chapman got a little wild and walked Springer.

Jose Altuve marched to the plate. As with Springer, Chapman was wild. His first two fastballs were high and outside. With the count 2-0, Chapman delivered a slider that dropped over the plate and Altuve took a strike. Chapman then delivered another slider and it hung ever so slightly out over the plate and Altuve pounced on it and launched a missile 407 feet to left field for a game winning two-run home run.


I meant it. As Jose Altuve stood in against Aroldus Chapman, I knew Altuve had a history of getting big hits in pressure-packed, dramatic situations. Honestly, I just couldn't bring myself to believe he'd do it again. Not against Aroldus Chapman. My jaw dropped, I sat in stunned silence, and, so as not to scare Charly, I didn't scream in joy when Altuve homered.

And then giddiness consumed me.

I watched the Astros celebrate and marveled how the game of baseball has never been one reserved only for behemoths. Sure, the huge guys like Aaron Judge or muscular players like Mike Trout excel, but Jose Altuve is just 5' 6" tall and weighs no more than 168 pounds. Somehow, he's learned to generate great power out of his slight physcial stature -- I mean, get this: over the last three years (2017-19), in 7 playoff series, totaling 37 games, Altuve has hit thirteen home runs. He's hit them against the Red Sox, Indians, Yankees, Rays, and Dodgers -- elite teams and elite pitchers.

There's not another player in the major leagues the Astros would rather have than Jose Altuve.

I want the Washington Nationals to win the World Series.

The Nationals face a daunting test playing the Astros, but if the Nationals' starting pitchers continue to excel and if they can get timely hitting the way they did in the NLCS, they will be competitive and, as they say, in baseball you just never know.

I really like the Astros, but in my house, the rallying cry will be, "Stay in the fight" and "Go Nats!"

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10-18-19: Blood Draw and Mom, Working on Pictures, Can't Hate the Yanks *Bonus* (More River Pictures)

1. Once a month, I stagger into the Shoshone Medical Center with the blood draw kit sent to me from a lab in Spokane and I have a tube of blood drawn. Today, the first phlebotomist couldn't get my blood to come out after trying a couple of places. He called in another phlebotomist and she succeeded. I don't know what the deal was, but I was unruffled by the guy's difficulties. I've been having blood drawn monthly now for over four years and this was only the second time the first couple of pokes didn't draw blood. Two things came to mind. One, I am going to try to remember to drink more water before my next blood draw; two, it seems like as Mom got older, drawing her blood became more and more difficult and I didn't face anything today like some of the ordeals I seem to remember she did when the phlebotomists couldn't find a vein. I thought a lot about the many such difficulties and indignities Mom suffered in her last couple of years of life and her courage.

2. I spent a short time this afternoon backing up folders of pictures and looking through my flickr account to see if I had neglected to upload some of the files off of my Pentax Q's memory card. Sure enough. For starters, I found several pictures from the days at Molly and Hiram's in Groveton, VA that I hadn't uploaded. I'll continue looking for more.

I posted one of my pictures from up the Little North Fork on the North Idaho Life Facebook page I belong to. I don't think I've ever posted a picture that roused more positive response. That was fun. If you saw my 3BThings yesterday, it's the bottom picture of the six I posted.

3. I am a decidedly less partisan baseball fan in my senior years than I was when I was younger. In the olden days, Dad had a huge impact on my partisanship as a fan. So, in the ALCS, I want the Astros to win, but I enjoyed seeing the Yankee bats come to life in the first inning of last night's game. I came to admire the Yankees' DJ LeMahieu's as the 2019 season developed and his lead off home run was a bomb for the Yanks. So was Aaron Hicks' three-run shot of the foul pole later in the first inning. After the first inning, the Yankees led the Astros, 4-1, and neither team scored again. Remarkably, it's the first time in 1609 postseason games in MLB history that two teams scored in inning #1 and were both shut out the rest of the game (hat tip to Byrdman for that bit of trivia!).

Dad used to "hate" the teams he rooted against and I've lost that "hatred". I'm enjoying pulling for the Astros, but, tonight, I enjoyed seeing this series tighten up a bit and admired the way the Yankees bounced back from a humiliating loss on Thursday.


Byrdman asked me to post some more pictures from our outing up the Little North Fork on Thursday. Here are a few more pictures I snapped that day (I think these images show better if you click on them):

Friday, October 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/19: Rumblin' Up the Little North Fork, Donya's Gone from CLRR, Ignominious Yankee Loss

1. Byrdman and I rendezvoused at the Trail of the CdA's Enaville trailhead. I piled into his pickup and we rumbled up the paved road to Bumblebee Campground and continued over the rough and potholed gravel road up the Little North Fork of the CdA River for about ten miles. Undeterred by the blustery, rainy weather, we stopped at several points to take pictures of orange and golden landscapes and the beauty of the river. At one point, we pulled into a parking area just off the road and hiked down a moderately steep hill and spent time on the river's bank, enjoying the placid flow of the river and stately pine trees and verdant ferns all around us.

Below, I have posted some of the approximately sixty pictures I took today as I gave my Pentax Q another workout.

2. Byrdman and I then plopped down at the bar at the Country Lane River Resort. I dove into a basket of delicious buffalo chicken wings and a glass of Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA. In keeping with the rest of our peaceful outing, the Country Lane River Resort was quiet. We learned our onetime yakkin' pal at the bar, Donya, decided to move back to Portland. L. E. said it was good move for her well being and for health insurance reasons, but we had enjoyed yakkin' with her when we visited in January and I had enjoyed running into Donya at the Elks Crab Feed in February.

3. Back home, I tuned into the Astros/Yankees playing Game 4 of the ALCS. The Astros look like they might be getting noisy again as both George Springer and Carlos Correa slammed three run homers, spearheading the Astros to an 8-3 win. The Astros trotted out six pitchers who pieced together a gutsy performance. Seven times the Yankees had runners in scoring position with two outs and, each time, the Astros' pitchers prevailed. On defense, the Yankees were painful to watch as two of their normally very dependable infielders, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu, made two errors each. The Astros will secure a spot in the World Series if they win Game 5 and will look to their dominating pitcher Justin Verlander to stymie the Yankees and move ahead to the Fall Classic.

I'm not a Yankee fan, but tonight I took no delight in watching them crumble. Their hitters often looked lost at the plate. Their four errors were uncharacteristic and kind of shocking. And, to add to their woes, the Yankees' beloved pitcher CC Sabathia hobbled off the mound injured. I doubt we'll ever see Sabathia pitch again. He's thirty-nine years old. His body is worn out. He's been pitching in the major leagues since 2001. He's won 251 games. He helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009. Soon, I'm sure, he'll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Tonight, he tried to give the Yankees one more short, solid outing, but his shoulder popped, he was in pain, and he was (and, I presume, is) finished.

I saw a game at Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2016 on a clear, sunny, glorious Saturday afternoon. Two major league titans, neither at the top of his game any longer, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez were the starting pitchers. Neither pitched very long in this game, but, even though I didn't get to see them at their best, it was awesome to see these two in person in the Bronx.

First, a picture from the Enaville Trail of the CdA's trailhead and then pictures up the Little North Fork of the CdA River, all shot with my Pentax Q.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/19: Ellie and Adrienne Are Home, Hiking the Wellness Trail, Trivia in Spokane with Mary and Kathy

1. Adrienne and Josh's daughter and Jack's new sister, Eloise (Ellie) Ann, arrived home today. So did Adrienne. It sure looks like, given the pictures that Josh has been posting and the email Debbie wrote to me about her conversations with Adrienne, that Ellie and Adrienne are both doing very well.

2. Baseball games. A gravel pit run. Putzing around the house. Some weather. My own inertia. Whatever the causes, I haven't been out on the trails lately, but I broke through today and took a splendid hike on the Shoshone Medical Center's Health and Wellness Trail. I decided to get my Pentax Q back into action and I can't for the life of me understand why I've let this camera lie around in semi-retirement. I took some pictures of autumn leaves up and down the hillside that the trail winds its way on, loved how the camera responded, and I looked back at pictures I'd taken a few years ago and I was kind of stunned. Some of my favorite pictures taken in Eugene, at Martin's Creek, around Kellogg, and elsewhere are on this camera's memory card. I don't know if I ever posted these pictures on flickr. If not, I've got a big project ahead of me.

3. Whether it's family dinners, sibling outings (hint, hint!), doing things with Kellogg friends, hiking, traveling to British Columbia, going to Whitworth events  in Spokane (another one coming up Nov. 2!), planning a trip to Pendleton with Ed, Mike, and Terry, hanging out at the Lounge, following baseball and texting about it with Cas and Byrdman, anticipating the coming college women's and men's basketball season, events at the Elks, going on road trips around North Idaho with Byrdman, joining the fantasy baseball league I belong to, and other things, I am making a concerted effort to thoroughly enjoy having moved to Kellogg.

At first, this project was challenging because living in Kellogg is so different than living in Greenbelt, MD -- living close to Washington, DC, living just a few hours from NYC, living near Molly's family and not too far from Adrienne's; in Greenbelt, I lived near a beautiful lake, close to an aquatic center I loved, enjoyed both driving and traveling by mass transit to different parts of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  I will always miss DC Brau, the National Aquatic Gardens, having some beers at Quench and Old Line, shopping at the Asian market in Wheaton, making occasional trips to one of the Wegmans grocery stores, the regional parks, seeing movies at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, and more.

Today, I'm happy to write, I upped my enjoyment of living in Kellogg and the Inland Northwest significantly.

Late this afternoon, I drove to Spokane and met up with Mary Chase and Kathy Brainard, both 1971 grads of KHS, at The Bar at Pizza Pipeline near North Division and Mission to play trivia together.

This was my first time playing trivia in a bar (or anywhere else, aside from a Trivial Pursuits game board). I've had plenty of opportunities in Eugene, Beltsville, and Kellogg, but I have barely a competitive bone in my body and so wondered if I would enjoy being on a team competing with others at answering trivia questions.

But, a couple of things moved me to go today. First, I enjoy Mary Chase's company and I was confident that I would enjoy time with Kathy Brainard, too -- and I was right. Second, I am trying to get into a mindset where driving to Spokane (as long as Charly is ok) and coming back to Kellogg at night just isn't that big of a deal -- especially since my night vision has improved thanks to cataract surgery.

I want to see movies at the Magic Lantern in Spokane. I need to start thinking of this as a small deal, not a big deal. Same with day hiking in the Spokane area. As long as my trips don't take more than about five or six hours, Charly is fine.

End of self-directed pep talk.

Playing trivia with Mary and Kathy was a blast. We ordered a pizza together and I enjoyed that a lot. I do not enjoy pizza and craft beer together, but the Rolling Rock beer I drank with our pizza was perfect.

Mary, Kathy, and I were a relaxed, low-key team with a pretty good range of knowledge. Mary was great at African country word scrambles, I was of value with sports questions (takes me back to why I was put on the KHS High School Bowl team [Mary and I were teammates in 1971]), and Kathy knew quite a bit about a variety of thing and was our go to teammate when it came to identifying stand-up comics -- maybe because stand-up is her daughter Kelsey Cook's vocation.

We had some deficiencies. Namely, math questions. Ha!

In between trivia sessions, the three of us got in some great yakking about our lives these days, being retired, the old days in Kellogg and Eugene (we all were grad students at one time at the U of O -- Mary and I were even in a class together), and other things.

I look forward to joining up with Mary and Kathy again soon for more trivia. Trivia nights happen in Spokane almost every night of the week at different bars. Mary and Kathy play frequently, so I'll always have a lot of options.

By the way, Mary and Kathy usually play at the Riverbank Taproom at the Northern Quest Casino on Wednesday nights, but tonight a private party had that room rented. So, they decided to give The Bar at Pizza Pipeline a try. Once I adjusted to the volume level -- a lot of people in a tight place and the trivia host was miked pretty loud -- I enjoyed being in this place a lot. I'd definitely go back there and I am stoked to join them at other venues.

Here are a few pictures from today's hike, as I get reacquainted with my Pentax Q:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/19: Gravel Run with Stu, Astros Win, Nats to the World Series, (More Pictures!)

* If you'd like to see a few more pictures of newly born Eloise Ann Langford (my fifth grandchild) and family just scroll down a ways and you'll find them.

1. Stu wondered this morning if I might like to make a trip with him to a gravel pit. His son and daughter-in-law, who live in the Osburn suburb of Sunnyslope, needed a load of gravel and Stu has a dump truck. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Stu, ride in his dump truck, go to the Smelterville gravel pit, take a drive up Terror Gulch to the Sunnyslope Road, and then have lunch with Stu. He swung by my place around 10:30 or so, I leapt into his dump truck, and we were off. At first, Stu thought we could get the gravel at a pit in Osburn, but that wasn't the case. After he ran an errand in Osburn, we soared back through Kellogg and went out to where the drive-in and the dump used to be north of Smelterville. A loader dumped a load of gravel into Stu's truck, we rumbled back to Osburn and up to Sunnyslope, and Stu dumped the gravel right where Amanda wanted it.

We topped off our time together with lunch at the Hill Street Depot where I enjoyed a smoked French dip sandwich and a can of Rose cider. Stu and I yakked up a storm on the road and over lunch and had a great time.

2. Upon returning home from the gravel pit, Sunnyslopes, and the Hill Street Depot, I dashed into the Vizio room and flipped on the Yankees/Astros game. While eating lunch, I had seen out of the corner of my eye that the wee and mighty Jose Altuve had blasted a home run in the top of the first inning (his twelfth postseason home run in his career!) and when I eased into my Vizio chair, the Astros still held that 1-0 lead. Just as Charly joined me and I stretched out my legs a bit on the folding chair I use as a stool, Josh Reddick blasted a second inning round tripper.

Things did not look good for the Bronx Bombers. The Astro's Gerrit Cole, who hasn't lost a start since May 22, was on the hill for the Astros, but he was not quite as sharp as usual. He walked five batters. He struck out seven, ending a streak of eleven straight games of striking out 10 or more batters (that, by the way is sick). He got into some testy situations today, but, if you know anything about baseball, the test of greatness in a pitcher is whether he can get batters out even though he doesn't have his best stuff -- or, to put it another way, doesn't have his A game. Tonight, Cole had his B game and he pitched masterfully with lesser stuff, shutting out the Yankees for seven innings before leaving the game. The Astros scored a couple more runs in the 7th thanks to a Zach Britton wild pitch and on a sacrifice fly. Astro reliever, Joe Smith, surrendered an 8th home run to rising pinstripe star Gleyber Torres, but Will Harris and Roberto Osuna got the game's last five outs and the Astros now lead this series 2-1. 

Rain storms are forecast in the Gotham City for Wednesday. It's possible Game 4 will be rained out.

3. If you were in Washington, D.C. today and if you were to go to the Howard University Hospital, you would arrive at the former site of Griffith Stadium, the former home of the Washington Senators. In 1933, with three games played at Griffith Stadium, the Washington Senators played the NY Giants in the World Series. No World Series game has been played in D.C. since.

That will change next week.

Tonight, the Washington Nationals jumped all over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning, scoring seven runs. The Cardinals aided the Nationals' cause with a couple of boneheaded flubs on defense. For all intents and purposes, it looked like a) this game was over and b) I'd be getting out the latest crossword puzzle I've been working on.

In the early innings, the Nationals' starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin, dominated the Cardinals. In the fifth inning, though, he faltered. The Cards scored three runs and crept within three runs of the Nats, 7-4. But, manager Dave Martinez stuck with Corbin and Corbin struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna to end the inning. The Cardinals put more runners on base in the ensuing innings, but the much-maligned Nationals' bullpen kept them from scoring and secured the win, sweeping this series. Now the Nationals advance to the World Series.

When I lived in the DC area, I always had this sense of Washington, D. C. being an underdog city. Maybe another time I'll sort this out. I do know this: the people of D. C. hunger for their teams to succeed. The Caps won the 2018 Stanley Cup. The Mystics won the 2019 WNBA title. Can the Nationals add a World Series to these successes?

I'd love to go to D. C. during this series. I wouldn't even bother to dream of getting a ticket to the ball park, but there are any number of places I'd love to go to and watch the games with other fans of the Nationals. But, I'll watch it all from either the comfort of the Vizio room or on a stool at the Inland Lounge.

I enjoy the Astros a lot, too. I hope they defeat the Yankees. I'd love to see the Astros and Nationals square off for all kinds of reasons. I'm eager to see how that AL series plays out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/19: Eloise Ann Langford is Born, Breakfast with Cas and Other Stuff, Nats' Vets Lead the Way

1. The most beautiful of things happened! Today, October 14, 2019, at 7:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Adrienne, Josh, and Jack welcomed their new daughter and sister into their family. Eloise Ann Langford brightened all of our lives with her arrival.  Scroll to the bottom of this page and you'll see pictures of Eloise, Josh, and Adrienne.

2. Earlier in the day, about 7:30 a.m., Cas swung by and we hauled ourselves out to the Goose n Tree in Pinehurst for a superb breakfast and some first-rate yakkin'. I tried a pancake breakfast -- three fluffy pancakes with a small pile of bacon and a couple of eggs. I enjoyed my food a lot -- I couldn't finish it -- and, likewise, Cas enjoyed his Eggs Benedict with crab.

Once home, I completed my morning writing and then I brought my camera equipment out of the where I'd been storing it upstairs dresser to the living room. I honestly don't know why I haven't done this sooner, but I spent much of the afternoon reacquainting myself with my modest collection of lenses, charging my Pentax Q batteries and relearning how to operate it, and ordering a lens cap and lens cleaning pens online. My next move will be to get acquainted with the film cameras and lenses Byrdman turned over to me quite a while ago, buy some film, and see how I do with some old school equipment.

(I should never put anything upstairs -- or in the basement for that matter. Aside from a few kitchen things I keep in the basement, when I put things where I don't see them daily, their existence flies right out of my mind. It's a funny way to be, but it's how I am.)

By the way, I bought a ticket for another Whitworth University event. Their jazz ensemble will be playing with their director's son, renowned trombonist (and Whitworth alum), Ryan Keberle and his band, Catharsis. This concert is on Saturday, November 2 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox at 8:00. I also booked a room at the Ruby Hotel out of curiosity to see how I'd like that place and so I can stay downtown for this concert.

3. I love the current Major League Baseball publicity campaign, "We play loud". It focuses on the brash young players (Acuna, Bellinger, Soto, and others) who've recently come into the game, extolling their talents and their animated, extroverted approach to playing baseball.

That said, my deeper enjoyment comes from seeing players who've been playing for many years, and are in their thirties (or forties!) and watch them rise to the challenge of playoff baseball and make major contributions to their team's success. Such is the story, right now, of the Washington Nationals.

I watched the Nationals dismantle the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-1, tonight in Game 3 of the NLCS and put themselves with one win of advancing to the World Series. Yes, a major contributor to their success tonight was 29 year old Anthony Rendon.

But, tonight, 31 year old Stephen Strasburg pitched brilliantly for seven innings. He was relieved by 42 year old Fernando Rodney who mowed down the three Cardinals he faced, two by strikeout. On the offensive side, Howie Kendrick, at age 36, slammed three doubles and drove in three runs. Ryan Zimmerman, age 35, chipped in with a double himself, and a single, and drove home two runs.

If you enjoy a player who "plays loud" on the bench, watch 35 year old Max Scherzer in the Nationals' dugout, stalking, cheering, miming a shark bite with his hands, high fiving some players, hugging others, wow! -- he's full of contagious energy.

The Nationals' team blends players of all ages. Turner, Soto, Rendon, and Robles are young and fresh while Scherzer, Rodney, Zimmerman, Suzuki, Strasburg, and Kendrick bring veteran leadership and years of baseball experience to the team. It's a great pleasure to watch them.

Here are some pictures of Eloise Ann Langford alone, with Josh, and with Adrienne -- and a picture of her footprints!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/19: Spiffing Up, Mitford Family Dinner, Astros' Dramatic Win

1. Yeah, I would have preferred being outdoors, but the house needed spiffing up and so that's what I did today along with some grocery shopping. It was a good move. The house is even more comfortable and peaceful now that Charly's hair is vacuumed up, the sinks are clean, and there's a little less clutter around.

2. Carol and Paul hosted tonight's family dinner and Carol had the fun idea of serving a Mitford Family Dinner -- a meal based on food in the stories in Jan Karon's Mitford Series.

We started with a hot buttered brandy featuring apple cider (or was it juice?) and apple brandy. It was just the right drink for an October evening. Along with our cocktail, Carol and Paul served toasted pecans and roasted almonds.

The dinner was awesome. Carol has a Mitford cookbook and out of it she prepared a green salad with oranges and scallions, pork roast, cooked apples, roasted red and sweet potatoes with rosemary, and angel biscuits. Carol also plopped two bottles of wine on the table from Colter's Creek Winery of Juliaetta, ID: the Juliaetta Rose and the Koos Koos Kia Red.

We had a lot of catching up to do with each other -- so much going on! Christy's plumbing got fixed; Carol and Paul went to a PTO wine tasting in Wallace; Christy had reports from the Mullan pool where she goes to water aerobics; the library in Kellogg had a book sale; and there was more. 

It was a great evening.

3. I arrived back home in time to watch the last few innings of the Astros and Yankees. When I joined the action, the game was tied at 2-2 and remained that way through some suspenseful innings. In the bottom of the 11th, however, Carlos Correa slammed a dramatic howitzer over the right center field fence, the Astro fans went nuts, the Astros broke into a raucous celebration at home plate, and now the series takes a day off and resumes at noon on Tuesday in Yankee Stadium. This series has the potential to be an epic one.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/12/19: Morning of Contentment, Shakespeare and Mary Chase, Peacock Room and Pho Thanh

1. I had the day to myself today. Carol and Paul accepted my request to take in Charly. Originally, I thought I'd go to Spokane early in the day and eat a late breakfast or have lunch before going to Whitworth University's production of  A Midsummer Night's Dream. Instead, I spent the morning at home. Charly was content. I enjoyed the quiet and solitude of the house. I took a long, hot luxury shower. I dropped of Charly at Carol and Paul's around 11:30. Carol and Paul were taking advantage of this golden October day by working in their yard. This was perfect for Charly who loves their yard and being outside with others.

2. I arrived at the theater early, purchased a glass of Bale Breaker's Topcutter IPA and, to my delight, Mary Chase (KHS, '71) also arrived early. Mary and I are friends from our high school days and from a year or two at the Univ. of Oregon and on Facebook. Last week she saw on Facebook that I'd been at the Rockwood Bakery near where she lives and asked me to let her know when I'd be back to Spokane. I told her I was going to this afternoon's play. She also bought a ticket and we planned to meet afterward for a drink. Well, we got some bonus time to get caught up with each other with an excellent conversation before the play began.

The Whitworth's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was energetic with a lot of physical action: crossed lovers wrestling and fairies and characters popping up in the balcony and among the audience at the orchestra level. The actors, however, were not yet at ease with the play's poetry and language and I'm not sure they always understood what their characters were saying. It's understandable. Articulating Shakespeare's poetry requires exercising the jaw and tongue in ways quite different from how we speak every day. I enjoyed the casts' enthusiasm, envied their physicality, and found the rude mechanicals' performance of Pyramus and Thisbe to be the clearest and most enjoyable part of the show.

I imagine the play was abridged the way it was out of acknowledgement of the casts' inexperience. That was a sound decision. The production ran under two hours and the cuts in the play made it easier for the cast to maintain an upbeat, sometimes frantic tempo. That said, I have to admit I missed some of the cut out parts: I missed Titania's "These are the forgeries of jealousy speech"; the changeling story was cut -- Mary called this to my attention after the play, and, once she did, in retrospect, I missed it; I missed the royals' smart aleck remarks during Pyramus and Thisbe. I can understand why the director cut these (and other) parts -- all the same, I missed these bits, so, in my head while I watched and as I thought back over the production,  I filled them in.

I am very happy I made the trip to see this play. I enjoyed seeing this young cast take on the play, very much enjoyed their exuberance, and, after all those years of being involved with Shakespeare at LCC, found myself enjoying the flashbacks to the good old days in Eugene that the production inspired in me.

3.  After the play, Mary and I walked across the street to the Peacock Room at the Davenport Hotel and had a drink together. I took a quick glance at the cocktail menu and decided to try something different and ordered a blackberry bourbon sidecar. I enjoyed it. Even more, I very much enjoyed conversation with Mary. We had a lot to talk about: family, mutual friends, our work over the years teaching writing to college students, our impressions of Spokane in 2019, and many other things.  Mary and one or two of her KHS classmates, also longtime acquaintances of mine, enjoy going to trivia nights at a few places around Spokane.  Mary reiterated her invitation to me to join them. I will sometime -- I hope to soon while the roads are still predictably safe.

On my way home, I stopped for a couple of spring rolls and a plate of chow mein noodles with beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp at Pho Thanh in CdA. As I dove deeper into the chow mein, I discovered the dish featured a perfect amount of chilis, just enough to give the food some heat, but not so much that it burned my mouth. I left Pho Thanh full and satisfied.

When I picked up Charly, she was content, having spent a lot of time outside and having spent time with Sadie, Carol and Paul's geriatric Pomeranian. I fed her a little bit of food when we got home as a reward for being such a good dog, and, before long, the two of us went to bed, both tired and relaxed after a most splendid day.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/11/19: Goose n Tree, Up the River, Nats Win at the Lounge

1. I hadn't dropped into the Goose n Tree in Pinehurst for quite a while to eat breakfast and late this morning I decided to go up the river and take some pictures, so I stopped in. I'd just seen Meredith on Sunday when I bought a loaf of bread for family dinner there and I enjoyed seeing her again. My breakfast was superb. Derrick makes exquisite sauces and so I ordered the Continental Divide. I had never eaten Derrick's Chili Rojo sauce and am I ever happy I ordered this dish. It featured two corn tortillas covered with refried beans topped with cheddar cheese. On top of the cheese, Derrick created a layer of scrambled eggs and sirloin tips and the whole dish swam in his Chili Rojo sauce. To my taste, much like his Verde Sauce, the Chili Rojo sauce did not have a lot of heat (pepper sauces were available at the table if I wanted to heat it up). Rather, the sweet and smoky flavor of chili came forward and I enjoyed this a lot. As a side, the dish included Derrick's perfectly prepared hash browns.

2. From the Goose n Tree, I headed up the river to take pictures. I stopped at a turnout at mile post 4 and took pictures from road level and crawled down the bank for angles closer to the water. Unfortunately, my session was cut short because I suddenly had to go back home and take care of some business -- nothing to worry about -- it's all fine -- so I'm looking forward to the next gorgeous October day when I can stay longer and work my way farther up the river and on to the Coal Creek trail -- and maybe beyond.

Pictures later.

3. Around 5:00, I headed uptown to watch Game 1 of the Nationals/Cardinals NL Championship Series. The Nationals eked out a run in the second and again in the seventh and those two runs held up because their #4 starter, thirty-five year old Anibal Sanchez, of all the wild and unexpected things, pitched no-hit ball two outs into the eighth inning. Cardinal pinch hitter Jose Martinez singled for the Cards' only hit. Sanchez then left the game and Sean Doolittle masterfully finished the game. All four Cards he faced made outs.

My attention during the game was divided between keeping track of the game and enjoying conversation with Ginger and Eddie Joe and then, after they'd had burgers at the Elks, Carol Lee, Jake, and Ed and, after they finished playing golf, Eileen and DJ.

I had my burger delivered from the Elks -- no cheese, dill pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Perfect.

I didn't need to give this game my full attention to know that the Nationals' win was a huge one because:

1. They won this game with their #4 starter on the mound.
2. They won this game in St. Louis and St. Louis no longer has home field advantage.
3. They only used one pitcher out of the bullpen, giving their relievers much valued rest. Not only that, their top reliever, Daniel Hudson, was unavailable. He's on a temporary paternity leave. His wife just gave birth. I hear Hudson will return to the Nationals for Saturday's tilt.
4. The Nationals will have Max Scherzer available with full rest for Saturday's Game 2 and will have both Corbin and Strasburg fully rested when the series heads to D. C. on Monday -- unless one of them is called upon to pitch on Saturday in relief. We'll see!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/19: KHS Parade and Pep Rally, Astros Win, Fun Dessert Party and Celebrating the Mystics

1. It's cold outside. Today a wind kicked up. Inside the house, it's quiet, warm, and peaceful. Charly is at ease. It's tempting to indulge in the comfort of my solitude on days like today and just drink hot things and not do much. Finally, this afternoon, I ventured out. I leapt in the Sube and crawled west on Cameron, navigating the gathering throng awaiting today's Kellogg High School Homecoming Parade. I took bags of mostly seltzer water cans to the recycling station down the gulch from the high school, and, as I left, a tiny squadron of JROTC members serving as honor guards, were marching with an USA flag in front of a fire engine loaded with students at the front of the gathering Homecoming parade and I zoomed out of the recycle area, a safe distance ahead of the parade, avoided West Cameron Avenue -- the parade route -- and took I-90 to the Division Street exit and returned to East Cameron and took the old highway out to the dump where I deposited about a dozen cardboard boxes into the cardboard recycling bin.

When I returned to Kellogg, the JROTC honor guard had reached the corner of Hill and Cameron and was leading the parade south on Hill Street. I turned north on Hill, right on Riverside, and right on Division and made my way to Railroad Avenue, hoping to arrive at the corner of Railroad and Hill ahead of the parade because I wanted a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a 16 oz latte at The Bean.

I succeeded.

I enjoyed my order, yakked a bit with Ginger, and listened as the parade made its way into Teeters Field. Before long, the bellowing of each high school class filled The Bean as the classes competed with each other at the Homecoming Pep Rally, one by one, to see which class could roar cheers in support of the Kellogg Wildcats the loudest.

During my high school years, I don't remember ever having an outdoor pep rally outdoors at Teeters Field at the end of a parade. I remember the evening bonfire and I've written before about when a bunch of us drove coughing and gagging through a cloud of tear gas outside the Inland Lounge and Rio Club uptown after one of these bonfires, but we never had a rally like these students had today and I was happy for the students. I think they were having a lot of fun.

2. Back home, I settled in for the early innings of the Astros/Rays game. As I will explain soon, I had another engagement at 6:00, but I got to see the Astros explode for four runs in the bottom of the first and, unlike Tuesday, George Springer, Michael Brantley, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman looked animated, fired up, and the Astros definitely had some of their trademark pop back in their bats. The top performer, though, for the Astros was pitcher Gerrit Cole. I watched him mow down the Rays for about four innings. His pitches were nasty. I later learned he pitched eight innings, struck out 10 Rays, and dominated Tampa Bay.

3. I missed much of the game because Carol and Paul hosted a boisterous wine/dessert party so that my sisters, Paul, and I could get together with Dave Vergobbi, Dave's wife Ann Riordan, and their daughter Claire.

Dave and Ann are in Kellogg from Salt Lake City to carry on with the work Dave and his siblings are sharing to deal with their father's home and belongings in the wake of Jim's death in July.

Our conversations ricocheted all over the place tonight, but, if one thread tied them all together, it was reliving the past having grown up in Kellogg -- and, to a degree, for the alums in the room, reliving some days at the University of Idaho.

For me, things got a little intense (no problem) when conversation veered toward Dave having worked for Dad as a mechanic's helper in the lower Zinc Plant. Dave and I added to each other's stories and descriptions of what a nasty place the Zinc Plant was to work and Ann asked me about the accident I had there in 1973 and I told my story. This led, as I remember, to us Kellogg kids talking about the Sunshine Mine Fire and our memories of that horrible week and Paul shared a harrowing experience he had while working in the bowels of the Lucky Friday mine.

Somehow, we managed to lighten things up by also talking about Krazy Days in uptown Kellogg and Frontier Days in Smelterville and about stuff like when Dave and some of his friends went to the KWAL station building in Osburn dressed like Kiss, so we had a lot to laugh about; not all of our conversation centered around grim mining history and near death experiences.

I loved our time together. I enjoyed getting better acquainted with Christy and Carol's Tri Delt(a) sister Ann and really enjoyed listening to Claire talk about her work with the non-profit organization called Garden City Harvest in Missoula. And, well, to be honest, those days working in the Zinc Plant really invigorate me when I get to listen to others who worked there and when I tell some of my stories. Last night, I thought how fun it would be to suddenly have other Zinc Plant alums get together -- Cas, Jim Etherton, Mike Woodruff, John Hopper, Sparky Jasberg, Dale Fattu, Merle Buhl, Dennis Carlson, and countless others -- and tell more stories and discuss the wonders and horrors of working in that plant. I do know this: for Dave and me, as was evident this evening, those days (and nights) working in the Zinc Plant were not only memorable, but deeply formative.

While we were visiting, I checked the score of the Rays/Astros game from time to time, but the game I was missing that I also cared a lot about was Game 5 of the WNBA Championship Final. Tonight's game determined the 2019 WNBA champion and, once again, because of living those three years in Maryland, I felt an almost hometown affinity with the Washington Mystics.

But even more than that, I was pulling for the Mystics because I am a fan of Washington's great Elena Delle Donne. It's tempting for me to tell her whole story here, but suffice it to say that Delle Donne has made her family and her severely disabled older sister the primary focus of her life. To stay close to home, she played college basketball at the Univ. of Delaware (after leaving the powerhouse U Conn program). As a professional, she asked to be traded from the Chicago Fire to the Mystics to be closer to her family in Wilmington. She's battled Lyme Disease, a broken nose, knee injuries, among other ailments, and played this final series against the Connecticut Sun with a mask on her face and three herniated disks in her back. She is, in every aspect of the game of basketball, a superb player -- twice named the WNBA MVP and I love watching her play.

When I returned home, I jumped right online and read recaps of the Mystics' victory over the Sun and read about what Elena Delle Donne contributed to the win and what she had to say afterward. Her focus was on her older sister, Lizzie, who always has been and was again last night, Delle Donne's inspiration. I haven't looked at video from the game, but I'll see if I can find some.

Would I rather have been at the dessert party tonight? Yes. Did I sometimes wish I could be two places at once, at our party and in the Vizio room? I did. I loved the party and when I returned home and poured myself a mug of brandy, rum, and hot water, I also loved learning how Elena Delle Donne performed in helping the Washington Mystics to their first ever WNBA championship.