Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 12/17/19: Eels and Pliny the Elder, Trivia Night Triumph, Charly's Nocturnal Schedule

1. I received notice that The Truth About Animals, the Lucy Cooke book I had held at the library was ready for me to pick up. Perfect. This gave me a good reason to walk uptown. As I trudged along Cameron Avenue, Shawn pulled over in this truck, called out a hello, and we yakked for about fifteen minutes. On my way to the library, I dropped off my Avista bill in the drop box.

I started reading Cooke's book at the Bean. Suddenly, I was transported back to February of 1979 when I visited the south of England coastal town of Rye, one of my favorite places during that three month tour of England. Lucy Cooke grew up in Rye. When she was about seven, her father sunk a Victorian bathtub in their back garden and Lucy Cooke became preoccupied with populating the tub with marine life, creating her own backyard ecosystem. My visit to Rye was sunny. In the morning, I enjoyed sitting in the back garden of the bed and breakfast, working The Guardian crossword puzzle, drinking tea, looking forward to another day walking Rye's cobblestone streets, searching for another cask conditioned ale to try at yet another pub. Now, I add to my memories the thought that nine year old Lucy Cooke was, at the same time, populating her tub with frogs, newts, beetles, skaters, and other little creatures, preparing herself, as it turned out, to become the renowned zoologist she is today.

To my delight, Lucy Cooke opens The Truth About Animals with her chapter on eels. I haven't had a single sip of Russian River's perfectly balanced, narrowly distributed Imperial IPA, Pliny the Elder, since June 17, 2014 at Sixteen Tons, the night Debbie and I had an impromptu good-by gathering before we left Eugene for Virginia and Maryland. What I didn't know that wonderful night at Sixteen Tons with Steve, Debbie, Mark, Loren, Bingham, Jay, and Sherri - with Thomas at the taps -was that the historical Pliny the Elder was himself a naturalist. He was intrigued by eels and the mystery of how they reproduce. If I ever again have the good fortune of quaffing another pint or bottle of Pliny the Elder, his theory will be on my mind: in his exhaustive study, Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder concluded that eels reproduced by rubbing themselves against rocks and "the scrapings came to life". This was not Pliny the Elder's finest moment, but the beer brewed in his name is among the finest, and I loved having my new found preoccupation with eels and my longstanding love of beer merge in this way.

2. I decided to take advantage of the current favorable travel conditions and drive to Rock City Bar and Grill on South Regal in Spokane and play trivia with Kathy and four other people from the apartment complex where she resides. Mary wasn't feeling well tonight and stayed home.

Tonight's questions focused on the holidays and festivals of December and different new years. They tested not only our knowledge of Christmas, Christmas traditions world-wide, Christmas songs, and Christmas movies, but what we knew about Hanukkah, Kwaanza, Rosh Hashanah, New Year's in Brazil, and other celebrations and traditions.

I helped a little bit tonight. I knew Natalie Wood played the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street; I know Jimmy Carter wrote A Christmas in Plains; I was correct in thinking that on the eleventh day of Christmas the gift was eleven pipers piping.

Overall, though, it was on the strength of my teammates that we were tied for the lead with two other teams after the regulations thirty questions and then triumphed in sudden death overtime.

Our team, the Nutcrackers, won a bottle of Chardonnay wine and a funny little trophy. I had a winning ticket during one of the between rounds drawings and won a bag of Hershey Kisses. I also came home with the box of Milk Duds a teammate won, but didn't want to keep.

3. My drive to Spokane and the drive back were both uneventful and easy.

I had been concerned about leaving Charly from 4:30 to 10:00, but she was fine when I returned home.

Charly is on a new schedule these days.

When it's time to go to bed, she wants to join me.

Then, about 2:00 a.m. she starts to whine.

She wants to eat -- so, I lift her off the bed, take her to the kitchen, and she has some food.

Having eaten, she doesn't want to join me back in the bedroom and assumes the place she spends much of her days, on the living room rug.

I go back to bed alone, never quite sure if Charly will soon begin whimpering again because she wants to go outside. Sometimes, Charly makes up her mind before I go back to bed and goes out right after her 2:00 a.m. feeding; sometimes she waits 30 to 60 minutes; sometimes she doesn't need to go out at all until I'm back up at 7:00 or so when I feed her again.

This all works out well for both Charly and me. As it turns out, I'm up often during the night going to the bathroom. Charly's hunger and my bathroom visits often pretty much coincide.

More important, Charly is old, but she's not having accidents in the house. No matter the hour, Charly is very good about letting me know she wants to go outside and I am happy to work with her.

It's funny. Sometimes, even with snow on the ground, Charly will go out, do her business, and then sit in the backyard and ponder; sometimes, at 2:00 a.m., she will drag herself to the back of the yard and do some exploring.

I never know.

But, as John Milton wrote: "They also serve who only stand and wait."

(Sometimes, I sit.)

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