Saturday, February 29, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/28/20: Greek Liquor Run, The Dipper, Arizona Over Stanford and the Ducks Win

1. Maybe I could have found the Retsina, Ouzo, and Metaxa Brandy in one of the liquor stores in Coeur d'Alene or Post Falls, but a website search assured me this wine and these spirits were available at Total Wine, so I leapt into the Sube and floated over the 4th of July Pass and on into the sprawl of Spokane Valley. I sashayed into Total Wine and purchased these Greek potables and so began my quest to stock up for Sunday's family dinner.

2. I belong to the Facebook group North Idaho Foodies, and, over the last couple of months or so, I've read copious posts praising the French dip sandwich at The Dipper at 1500 Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d'Alene. Byrdman and I agreed to meet there at 1:00. Upon arrival, I was very happy to see on the specials board that mac and cheese was available as a side today, so, once Byrdman arrived, I ordered a Little Dipper, a four inch French roll, freshly baked and seasoned with with garlic butter loaded with a pile of thin slices of medium rare fire roasted Angus beef, and a side of mac and cheese made from scratch. I loved the sandwich and the au jus that accompanied it and the mac and cheese was creamy, comforting, and delicious.

Carol, the owner, dropped by our table to make sure we were happy and told us that, before too long, she is adding a chicken sandwich to the menu and they will begin to serve wine and beer.

After lunch, Byrdman went on a tour of some back roads south of CdA, continued to yak and listened to some superb tunes spun by Earl Bailey on Sirius-XM.

After our drive, I vaulted back into the Sube and did some leisurely shopping at Fred Meyer and I think I have the food I need to prepare dinner for the family on Sunday.

3. Once back home, I flipped on the Vizio and caught most of the second half and the overtime period of a barn burner in Tuscon between the Arizona women's basketball squad and Stanford.

Except when they play the Ducks, I am a fan of Arizona's team. They play scrappy, intense basketball and are led by their mercurial and inspiring point guard, Aari McDonald. McDonald is injured and played sparingly for much of the game, but in fourth quarter and overtime she gritted her way through the pain she was obviously experiencing and, with the help of Sam Thomas on offense and a gritty defensive effort, spearheaded the Wildcats to a thrilling 73-72 victory. This was an especially impressive win for Arizona considering how their secondary players had to step up when Aari McDonald had to rest her injury. Sam Thomas, Dominique McBryde, and others filled in beautifully and the entire team played inspired defense.

For the past two seasons, I've enjoyed watching Arizona coach Adia Barnes' interactions with her coaching staff and players during games and have enjoyed her post-game interviews. She was a star player at Arizona and sometimes star players have problems coaching players -- but, such is not the case with Adia Barnes. She is guiding this team beautifully and Arizona is a program on the rise.

I also watched the Ducks women's team thoroughly dismantle Washington State, 88-57 and I stuck around on television to watch their very impressive post-game celebration of winning the conference championship. The game's only scary moment came in the third quarter when Satou Sabally landed awkwardly and twisted (?), rolled (?), -- well, definitely, tweaked her ankle. She sat out the rest of the game with an ice pack on her injury. During the post-game ceremony and celebration she appeared to be walking around pretty well, was all smiles, and it appeared that she might very well be back in action before too long.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/27/20: Dinner Plans, Zags Rout the Junior Varsity, Ducks Drub the Beavs

1. I volunteered to host family dinner for the second straight week this Sunday and I worked out a menu today and, in order to serve what's in it, I will make a trip on Friday to Total Wine in the Spokane Valley and to one or two grocery stores in CdA.

2. I enjoyed going over to Christy and Everett's to watch the Zags play, but the game was not very interesting. Gonzaga routed the Wardner Junior Varsity, also known as the University of San Diego, 94-59. Not much that happened in this game stuck with me. Everett retired to bed during the game and Christy and I talked about things more than we focused on the Zags' romp.

3. I returned home and watched another blow out. In men's basketball, the Ducks and Beavers played for the 345th time -- they first played in the 1902-03 season. In the second half, Oregon went on a 22-4 run and Oregon State never recovered. The final score was 69-54. My primary take away from this game was not unique: the Oregon Ducks play at much higher level of excellence at home than on the road. They do everything better at home: shoot, move the ball, play defense, rebound, and work together. The Ducks close out the conference schedule with home games next weekend against the Bay Area schools. I am eager to see if Oregon will be able to translate their great play at home into similar success in the Pac 12 tournament and the NCAA national tournament.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/26/20: Crab Stock, Organizing Papers, Two Week Trivia Win Streak

1. My three crock pots of crab stock bubbled away for about two days and this morning I shoveled out all the shells and vegetables, strained the stock, and put eleven quarts of stock in the freezer. I have one more bag of shells and, if I have enough containers on hand, today I'll put those shells, along with onion, celery, and seasonings into a slow cooker or two and make more stock.

2. Today was a good day to get some papers organized. Once I receive the last of our tax information, I want to be ready to jump right on the task of getting our returns filed. Completely separate from taxes, I have some filing to do now that I have gone through the papers I had piled chaotically on the card table I have up in the Vizio room. I plan to get the filing done right away.

3. Linda L. has been through -- and in her recovery, is going through -- a serious medical episode, but she's on the healing side of it now. I was really happy to see her with her son's mother-in-law at the Crab Feed Saturday night. On Tuesday, Linda messaged me that she wanted to go to Spokane with me and join Kathy, Mary, and our other team members to play trivia.  This was great news.  Linda felt up to spending another evening out.

I met Linda at the Rose Lake Junction Conoco station and we soared in the Sube to Spokane and on up to Airway Heights and the Northern Quest Casino's Riverbank Taphouse.

We have kind of accidentally assembled a very good team just by figuring the more the merrier. Dan lives in the same apartment complex as Kathy; Chris is Mary's sister-in-law; Joan and Mary know each other as fellow novelists; Linda and I came over from Kellogg and Canyon to join our fellow KHS alums and longtime friends, Mary and Kathy.

And, tonight, for the second week in a row, we were the night's winning team! We were like the Oregon Ducks women's basketball team: no one of us knew everything, but what some didn't know, others did. We picked each other up. We worked together smoothly.

The group of young men (who had a woman at their table tonight) whom we have finished as runner up to several times in the past were on hand tonight.

We defeated them!

I lost track of what all we won by finishing first in two or three rounds and winning the night, but I know I came home with a handsome beer glass and an empty growler from Spokane's terrific brewery, Iron Goat. I also know that much of our collective bill for tonight's food and drinks was covered by last week's and this week's winnings.

Linda and I had a safe and enjoyable drive back to Rose Lake and I returned home and fixed myself a couple chilled dirty martinis (up), relaxing and basking in the thrill of team Random McNally's victory. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/25/20: A Bean Salad Burrito, Unreal 2OT Win for Wake Forest, Reliving Duke Basketball -- 1980-86

1. I cooked up a small pot of basmati rice and, on a flour tortilla, combined it with the bean salad I made for family dinner and some salsa. I liked it. Maybe I'll scramble an egg and add it and see if the resulting breakfast burrito might taste good.

2. I'd watched Michigan State defeat Iowa, 78-70, in an exciting, bruising, and bloody game late in the afternoon and thought that was it for college basketball today. Then a text flew in from Byrdman alerting me to the fact that the Duke/Wake Forest game had gone into overtime. I tuned in and found out that Duke had led Wake Forest, 78-69 with 1:12 left in regulation, but Wake Forest miraculously stormed back to tie the game, thanks to a late 3-pointer by Brandon Childress who, up to that point, had missed all ten of his shots from the field.

Something in Brandon Childress came to life in the OTs. He converted six of his ten shots and scored 13 points in the bonus periods. Wake Forest dominated Duke in the second OT and their fans swallowed them as they stormed the court after the buzzer sounded at the end of Wake's 113-101 triumph.

3. A couple days ago, inside my television's ESPN app, I saw that a documentary about Duke's Coach Mike Krzyzweski was available. It's been out for several months, but just now caught my attention. It's called, "The Class that Saved Coach K" and is about the group of players who came to Duke as freshmen in the fall of 1982.

When it comes to teams I pull for in college basketball, I am almost positive that Duke is at the bottom of my list. (Well, maybe Kenucky is. Yeah, now that I think about it, if Duke and Kentucky square off in the NCAA tournament, I'll probably pull for Duke.)  As a sports fan, with a few exceptions, I tend to side with underdogs and Duke has not been an underdog basketball program since -- well, since the early days of Coach K's tenure at Duke.

And tonight I remembered how I loved watching the Duke Blue Devils emerge in the time period covered by this documentary.  I remembered how Duke had clawed its way into the NCAA Tournament Championship game in 1978, and I feverishly rooted for them to defeat Kentucky, a team I had developed an irrational animosity toward. Kentucky won that NCAA title, much to my dismay, and out of Duke's loss, I became a mildly interested Duke fan.

In the 1970s, Bill Foster coached Duke. His coaching record was solid (113-64), but he left Duke after the 1979-80 season, took the South Carolina coaching job, and the Duke athletic director stunned the basketball world by hiring thirty-three year old Mike Krzyzewski who had been the head coach at Army for the past five seasons and had just completed a lousy 9-17 season.

Duke's basketball fortunes went south.

They had lousy seasons in Coach K's first three campaigns.

But, in 1983-84, when the "Class that Saved Coach K" (Mark Alarie, Weldon Williams, David Henderson, Jay Bilas, and Johnny Dawkins) were sophomores and were joined by a 1983 recruit, Tommy Amaker, Duke began to improve and I remember being hooked on the Duke comeback story -- and it makes sense that I would be. I wanted to see Duke overthrow the ACC's big dogs, North Carolina and Virginia, and seeing this young coach who'd been so maligned for the past three years begin to have success captured my imagination and interest.

So, tonight, I relived my relatively short-lived time as a fan of the Duke Blue Devils.

I enjoyed listening to the 1980s Duke players and Coach K reflect on those years between 1982-86. (I find Jay Bilas infinitely more interesting as a college basketball historian than as an analyst during games.) Even more, I enjoyed seeing the clips of video taken from games from those days.

In the end, though, I was not pulling for Duke when the Blue Devils faced Louisville in the 1986 NCAA championship game. As much as I admired all they went through to reach this game, I was all in with Louisville and their coach Denny Crum, the half-brother of one of my very best friends, Terry Turner. In fact, I watched that 1986 championship game with Terry and with another of my very best friends from Kellogg, Roger Pearson. I can't remember if we got together at Roger's apartment in Salem or at Terry's house in Gladstone, but I do know it's the last time I joined my lifelong buddies to watch an NCAA championship game and, tonight, as I watched Pervis Ellison score on a put back of Jeff Hall's air ball late in the game, the shot that clinched Louisville's win, the joy of watching basketball with Terry and Roger and the thrill of college basketball in the 1980s all came back to me and made me very happy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/24/20: Making Crab Stock, Canceled Trip, Sabrina Ionescu and an Unforgettable 02/24/20

1. Ha! My house smells like a Chesapeake Bay crab shack. I borrowed Christy's crock pot so I could have three slow cookers going at once, and filled each one with crab shells, onion, celery, some greens, and some seasoning and got going on this year's project making crab stock, using shells from the Kellogg Elks Crab Feed. I still have one more bag of shells in the freezer. My guess is, if I have enough containers to put the stock in, that I'll get right to work boiling down those shells as soon as the batches I'm fixing now are finished.

2. Debbie and I confirmed with one another today that she will be staying in NY in April to help out Josh and Adrienne with Ellie and Jack and with giving the family a hand with things around the house. About a month ago, we thought Debbie would return to Kellogg, be able to look after Charly, and that I'd go back to Maryland and see Molly's family and then go to New York and meet Ellie and visit Josh, Adrienne, and Jack. For now, I have canceled those plans and am hoping it's a postponement. I am 100 percent in support of the cancellation/postponement. It's necessary and I get it. I am hoping that spring will have sprung in Kellogg come April and that I'll be able to get out and enjoy the beauty of local trails and get back to hiking.

3. Tonight, basketball fans got to see one of the most remarkable evenings in the history of the sport.

It would have been scintillating enough, on an ordinary day, that Oregon's women were playing Stanford. After all, the game was in Palo Alto, Stanford was just one game behind the first place Ducks, both teams were vying for a conference title, and these are the conference's two premier programs.

But the day involved much more than the basketball game.

This morning, the Celebration of Life for Gianna and Kobe Bryant took place in Los Angeles at Staples Center.

It was held today, on 02/24, because Gianna wore the jersey number 2 and Kobe wore 24.

But, that's not all.

Sabrina Ionescu wears the number 20.

Kobe Bryant and Sabrina Ionsecu had become close personal friends and close basketball associates. Without question, when he was alive, Kobe Bryant was Sabrina Ionescu's most important mentor, influence, and inspiration and, in the aftermath of Bryant's death, Ionescu has dedicated her basketball life and her performances to the memory of Kobe Bryant.

So, today was 02/24/20. Gianna. Kobe. Sabrina.

This morning Sabrina Ionescu delivered a stirring tribute to Kobe and Gianna at the Celebration of Life.

Soon after, she flew north and arrived in Palo Alto in the early afternoon to prepare for this game against Stanford.

She was sick. She was vomiting. She didn't join her team for pre-game warm ups.

She no doubt hydrated and saved what energy she had left after her emotional speech, a flight, and an afternoon of illness for the game itself.

So how did Sabrina Ionsecu perform at the end of such a demanding day?

And, how did the Ducks perform?

Kobe Bryant had taken an active interest in this team and Sabrina Ionescu was far from alone in being aggrieved by his death.

The Ducks won, 74-66.

In my view, they won largely because the Ducks did what they do best when they are at their best.

They picked each other up.

Ruthy Hebard had an off night. Stanford's inside players clogged the key, making it difficult for Hebard to roll to the basket after setting screens. Moreover, she got into early foul trouble and spent quite a bit of time on the bench. Hebard averages nearly 17 points per game and tonight she only scored 4 points.

Someone needed to pick up for her; someone needed to score well over her average and help pick up those 13 points Hebard didn't score.

Well, that someone was, for starters, Satou Sabally. She took it upon herself to score after aggressive drives to the basket, get fouled, make 3 of 5 free throws, and pop in 4 of her 7 three point attempts. She scored 27 points, eleven above her average points per game.

She helped pick up for Hebard.

So did Sabrina Ionescu. Ionescu averages about 17 points a game and tonight she scored 21 and she dished out 12 assists, meaning that she had a hand in about 60% of Oregon's points.

She helped pick up for Hebard's off scoring night and she kept her teammates involved in the offense with her pinpoint passes.

And, that's not all.

Had this game only involved a stellar night after a demanding day for Sabrina Ionescu and a crucial win over Stanford, it would have been remarkable.

But, no.

This game played on 02/24/20 (Gianna, Kobe, Sabrina) was also the game when Ionescus, with 1:47 left in the third quarter snagged her 1000th career rebound.

For her career, and, keep in mind, not one single basketball player in the history of all of college basketball has done what I'm about to record, Sabrina Ionescu has scored over 2000 points, dished out over 1000 assists, and snared over 1000 rebounds.

It's mind boggling that one player would be this versatile and rack up these numbers.

This career performance can only be compared no one.

To be such a prolific scorer, passer (enabling teammates to score), and rebounder is evidence of Sabrina Ionescu's unparalleled proficiency in these three areas of offensive skill, tenacity, and productivity.

Tonight Sabrina Ionescu, to use a tired metaphor, crashed a ceiling and what she did will be equaled or surpassed only if she inspires some future player to develop such versatility and to play college basketball for four years.

And that's not all.

By scoring 21 points, pulling down 12 rebounds, and dishing out 12 assists, Sabrina recorded a triple double for the 26th time in her career. No other player in the history of all of college basketball is even in her time zone of having achieved this statistic.

I find it uncanny that all of this happened on the night of 02/24/20. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/23/20: Southwest Family Dinner, Fresh Margaritas, Christy Served Fresh Peach Pie

1. Originally, knowing I was the host for tonight's family dinner, I had other plans for what to prepare. But, when Christy told me that she would be bringing the peach pie she baked at her cooking class at Mary Alexander's house, I changed my plan. I host again on March 1. I'll fulfill my original plan at that time.

I decided that peach pie would be the perfect dessert for a chicken dinner. Then I got it in my thick skull that I wanted to use buttermilk to prepare the chicken. I thought I'd be putting the chicken overnight in some kind of a buttermilk marinade, but I stumbled across a recipe called Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken.

Ah! I liked the looks of this one. I prefer baking chicken to frying it. The rub this recipe called for sounded really good: oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder (which I don't have on hand and left out ). 

I applied the rub to a bunch of chicken thighs, got out two cast iron skillets, seared the thighs on each side for about three minutes in butter, poured buttermilk into the the two skillets, and popped the skillets in the oven to bake for about a half an hour.

Since the chicken featured southwest flavors, I decided I'd like to make a Southwest black bean salad. So that the flavors would age a bit in this salad, I made it on Saturday by mixing together a couple of cans of black beans, two ripe avocados chopped, four green onions, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes halved, the juice of three limes, honey, olive oil, and chopped cilantro.

The recipe also called for minced chipolte chiles in adobo sauce. Here's another product I don't have on hand. We don't prepare food with heat for family dinner, so I did some looking around and found just what I wanted: a recipe called Not Hot Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. All I had to do was blend together tomato paste, cumin, rice vinegar, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and salt (I left out the cayenne pepper). I folded this sauce into the ingredients mentioned above and topped the salad with the cilantro. It sat in the refrigerator for over twenty-four hours before we ate.

I realized that we'd probably enjoy potatoes and corn bread with the chicken and salad, but I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to make cornbread dressing. The recipe I used suggested letting the cornbread dry for a day or two before making the dressing, so, on Friday, I made a pan of cornbread and it dried for nearly 48 hours before I made the dressing today with onion, celery, sage, thyme, garlic, butter, a small amount of Italian sausage, eggs, homemade chicken stock, and half and half. I left out the cayenne pepper.

2. To prepare for this dinner, I also searched for a margarita recipe, thinking margaritas would go well with the dinner I had planned.

The recipe I decided to use called for juicing lemons and limes, zesting them, adding superfine sugar, and letting this mixture steep for about 24 hours.

So on Saturday, I juiced six lemons and six limes, did a crummy job of zesting, but got some zest, and, since I don't carry superfine sugar, I got out the food processor, poured in regular sugar, and ran the processor for nearly five minutes, thus making the sugar less coarse -- not sure it was superfine, but close enough.

The recipe also called for using 100% agave tequila, preferably Reposado. Okay, I thought, I'll shell out a few extra clams and buy tequila a little closer to the top shelf. The recipe also called for triple sec.

3. Everett wasn't feeling well and stayed home. I greeted Christy, Carol, and Paul, upon their arrival, with a chilled margarita on the rocks. I'm not enough of a connoisseur myself to tell if the fresh juice, superfine sugar, and slightly more expensive tequila made a big difference, but everyone enjoyed their drink and I'd definitely do the same thing again.

We had a splendid dinner together and talked about all kinds of things -- movies, television shows, streaming tv vrs Dish, Christy's upcoming trip to Quinn's, some college basketball, and other things.

Christy's peach pie was sublime. It was warm, the peaches tasted fresh, the crust was perfect, and each slice was made perfect by the vanilla ice cream that accompanied it.

Here are the recipes for what I prepared. Three of them are recipes from the Cook's company and might be behind a paywall. I'm sorry if this is the case.

The chicken recipe is here.
The salad recipe is here.
The not hot sauce recipe is here.
The cornbread dressing recipe is here.
The margarita recipe is here.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/22/20: Dinner Prep, Crab Feed, Zags Suffer Defeat

1. I had a lot of fun today preparing food and getting ready to serve cocktails a day ahead of family dinner. Details to come after dinner is served.

2. Kellogg's most recent High Holy Days concluded tonight with the Saturday Elks Crab Feed. The Crab Feed is so popular that it's held on both Friday and Saturday, filling the upstairs and the downstairs of the Elks Club and raising money for the Elks and for the ROTC program at Kellogg High School. I brought four plastic shopping bags and left with three and half bags of shells and will soon get my crab stock production line in operation. Tonight, my friends asked me to make a big batch of chowder with the crab stock I make so we can have a dinner party. All of my cooking insecurities rushed through me, my mouth went dry, butterflies flew in my stomach, but I agreed we should do it and I think I might even put my big boy pants on and help the others organize such an event.

3. Going to the Crab Feed meant that I didn't see the bulk of the Zags loss to BYU nor the Ducks mens team's thrilling overtime victory over Arizona. I caught the very end of the Zags game when I returned home and read up on it in the middle of the night (Charly and I were up together every 90 minutes between about 11:30 pm and 5:30 am).

BYU is a sharp shooting team. They have the conference's strongest and most deft center in the pivot, Yoeli Childs -- and, from what little of the game I saw and from the highlights I watched on ESPN, Childs is exactly the kind of player I've wished Gonzaga faced more often in their conference, but no other such players are in the WCC.  Childs scored 28 points and snared 10 rebounds. Childs and the two primary Cougar snipers, TJ Haws, and Jake Toolson, combined to score 61 of BYU's 91 points (Zac Seljaas added 12) in the Cougs' resounding 91-78 victory.

The hope for us Zags fans was that this was what is often referred to as a "good loss". What did the Zags learn about themselves tonight? Will they carry those lessons forward and be an improved team because of what happened tonight? If they do, yes, it was a good loss, albeit, as I could see on their faces and their bowed heads as they left the court, a painful one.

I won't get into it much here, but Baylor's loss to Kansas today had a similar feel to it, for me. It was a closer game (Kansas won 64-61), but similar to the Zags, Baylor was dominated by a strong Kansas player inside, Udoka Azubuike, and if Baylor learned something from this game about how to deal with Azubuike when the two teams will almost surely meet again, then they will have turned a very disappointing loss today into a good loss.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/21/20: Prepping Ahead of Time, Ducks Rout Cal, Stanford Holds off OSU

1. Christy wrote to me that peach pie pairs well with any meal. Good! Since Christy is bringing a peach pie she made and baked to family dinner on Sunday (02-23), I want to fix a dinner that prepares the way for such a delicious dessert. So, this morning I read menus, furrowed my brow, and made a decision. I will reveal my decision after we've had dinner, but, the good news for me is that by deciding today what to fix for Sunday, I could get dinner preparations underway -- and that's what I did tonight.

I started cooking. I'll continue on Saturday. I won't have to try to do all the cooking on Sunday. It's very possible, especially once the Kansas/Baylor game is over, that I'll get going on house cleaning on Saturday, too.

I'm stoked.

2. About a month ago, the Ducks women's basketball team routed Cal by 50 points. Tonight was their rematch and, unlike other Duck games, when I find reasons to get anxious ahead of time, I was not anxious tonight. Cal is a very young team. In a year or two they might be potent. Right now, they aren't. Cal had a few spurts of very good play tonight, but, on the whole, they were no match for the Ducks. Tonight the Ducks combined superb ball movement with exquisite and efficient shooting.

Sabrina Ionescu only took 9 shots, made 7 of them, and scored 17 points along with dishing out 11 assists and pulling down 11 rebounds. Her performance was so intricately woven into the effort of the whole team that it was barely noticeable that she achieved her 25th career triple double (no other player in college basketball, men's or women's, has come close to doing this). Ruthy Hebart was nearly unstoppable in the key, making 10 of her 13 shots for 20 points and yanked down 15 rebounds. Erin Boley continued her blazing shooting streak and jaw-droppingly converted 8 of her 9 attempts from beyond the three point line on her way to pouring in 24 points. 

It wasn't an exciting game as far as suspense -- Oregon won 93-61 --, but this game featured some of the best ball movement and some of the most scintillating sequences of offensive teamwork I've ever seen in any basketball game at any level.

I'll close with an inside joke:

Yes, Linda L., it was breathtaking!

(I don't need to tell Linda S. it was breathtaking. She watched these heart stopping moments and knows exactly what I'm talking about!)

3. To close out the evening, I did some cooking and I watched the second half of Oregon State's women's basketball game against Stanford. It's been a tough year for the Beavers, but, even in their losses, they've played everyone very tough. Tonight was no exception, but Stanford prevailed, 63-60.

Stanford and Oregon play on Monday. My hope is that the Ducks' Minyon Moore will defend Stanford's Kiana Williams so tight she will be able to tell what brand of gum Williams is chewing. Kiana Williams is a superb player with a knack for scoring clutch baskets in tight games.

I would think that at the very top of Oregon's game plan going into Monday's game will be a strategy to limit Kiana Williams' scoring.  The Ducks have also got to keep Stanford off the boards when Stanford has the ball.  Cardinal teams have always been tough on the offensive boards and that's true again this season.

It could be an epic game.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/20/20: Two Bill Waltons and a Tough Loss, Zags Benefit from Halftime, Cherry Pie (OMG!)

1. It was nearly a half an hour of space truckin' almost too galactic to write about when Frank Caliendo joined Dave Pasch and Bill Walton during the first half of the Oregon/Arizona State game and impersonated Bill Walton while Bill Walton was being Bill Walton. The Magic Carpet Ride soared to heights previously unknown in the history of telecasting, if not the history of the human race.

Occasionally, Walton 1 and 2 even acknowledged that a basketball game was underway. Arizona State is coached by Bobby Hurley and, both as a player and as a coach, Bobby Hurley's conduct gets under my skin. That said, I really admire his basketball team and the Sun Devils played the Ducks very tough, forcing numerous turnovers (they scored 19 points on Duck turnovers), hitting their offensive glass hard (ASU scored five second chance points -- and won by five points), and getting good scoring nights out of Rob Edwards and Alonzo Verge.

The Ducks had flashes of brilliant play, but also stretches of subpar play and their inconsistency probably cost them the game. Payton Pritchard fouled out. That hurt the Ducks. The Ducks were also lackluster from the free throw line (making only 12-19 free throws).

The Ducks are undefeated at home and have lost 5 of 9 conference games on the road. I'm not sure why they struggle so much away from Eugene, but those struggles were apparent tonight,evidenced especially by how the Ducks played so hot and cold.

The final score: ASU 77 Oregon 72.

2. Back in high school, and I don't remember if it was my junior or my senior year, one night we played Moscow pretty well at home in the first half before we ultimately lost the game.

I remember Mike Farley saying to me, "We got beat by halftime."

What he meant was that we had some good energy going in the second quarter and it seemed to have drained out of us when we stopped playing, went to the locker room, sat and listened to our coach talk, and returned to the floor without the oomph we had in the first half.

This came to mind tonight as the second half of the Gonzaga/University of San Francisco game got underway. USF played over their heads on the first half and their spirited defensive effort seemed to have the Zags rattled. The Dons led by nine points at halftime.

Then both teams went to their locker rooms at halftime.

Gonzaga regrouped and settled down; USF came out flat, without nearly the energy they had before halftime.

The Zags went on 20-2 run, secured a lead they never gave up, and ended up defeating the outmanned USF Dons, 71-54.

In a way, the Dons were defeated by the halftime break.

But, truth be told, even had they come out stronger in the second half, I think over the course of the second half, Gonzaga's superior players would have beaten USF any way. As is often the case when mismatched teams play, the underdog simply doesn't have the personnel to maintain the high quality of play required to defeat the stronger team over 40 minutes.

Tonight, for about 20 minutes, San Francisco was able to play at a high enough level to give the Zags a good contest in the first half and establish a halftime lead. But, they didn't have 40 minute of that kind of effort in them and as the second half progressed, the inevitable occurred. The Zags established their superiority down low around the basket, the Zags started hitting some outside shots, and the Dons couldn't sustain any kind of effective response.

3. Christy and Teresa went to Mary Alexander's house in Mullan today and baked pies and played cards. Mary has agreed to tutor Christy and Teresa in the arts of baking. Christy is loving it and, well, so am I! At halftime of the Gonzaga game, Christy served me a slice of the cherry pie she baked today. It was slightly tart (YES!), had a really pleasing almond flavored undertone, was built upon a flaky and very tasty crust, and paired perfectly with vanilla ice cream. Maybe my disposition about the Zags and the game's telecast was so sanguine because this pie made everything seem wonderful.

Christy informed me that she will be bring a peach pie to my house for Sunday's family dinner. I'm wondering if I should try to cook a meal that serves as a proper prelude to the peach pie. Hmmm. What might that be?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/19/20: Walking Sunnyside, Kathy's Travels, Victory at Riverbank

1. I could see clearly that it was a bright, bright sunshiny day and so I got out and walked a ways. I went to the ATM down the street to secure cash to pay for a beer and dinner at the Riverbank tonight at Northern Quest and for whatever I decide to drink before, during, and/or after the Elks Crab Feed Saturday night. Then I walked around Sunnyside a bit, trying to remember who used to live in certain houses -- I couldn't remember too much -- and was grateful that the dogs who barked at me were all contained behind fences.

2. I wasn't at the Riverbank very long when Mary and Kathy arrived and so did two new trivia team members, Joan (who, like Mary, writes fiction set in the Regency era) and Chris, Mary's brother Rob's wife. (Rob Chase. KHS '72. 1971-72 Student Body President.)  Soon, our occasional teammate, Dan, joined us.

As we all settled in at our table, I enjoyed Kathy telling me about her son's majestic wedding in San Diego and what a good time she had at the wedding, the reception that followed, and hanging out in the city. She also told me more about the fun she had attending the premier of the movie, Foosballers, and how much she enjoyed sharing the stage afterward with her daughter, Kelsey Cook, to field questions from the audience about foosball and the movie.

3. It turned out that our team was formidable. Joan and Chris both had a lot of knowledge about a lot of things, including pop culture; Dan made solid contributions regarding geography and other subjects;  Mary, Kathy, and I chipped in with some significant knowledge, too.

And we won the night!

We won going away!

We won fifty dollars for our victory!

We also won 15 dollars as the winners of round 6 (I think).

We tied as the victors in at least one other round, but didn't win the tiebreaker, which is essentially a kind of coin flip.

I don't know how often we'll be able to assemble this particular combination of players, but, tonight, this combination was really strong.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/18/20: Punched Up Granola, Walking, My Gonzaga Dream (Again)

1. I'd love to be one of those people who no longer needs recipes when cooking, but I don't see it happening. I have been wondering for a while, however, if recipes, by and large, are too cautious about flavor. I browned another batch of granola in the oven today and, being guided by a recipe I like, increased the amount of cinnamon, butter, vanilla, and honey/brown sugar the recipe called for. I also, by the way, left the granola in the oven for only 25 minutes instead of the 30 minutes the recipe stipulates (at 350 degrees). I thought punching up these flavors worked really well -- but, then again, I love cinnamon, butter, vanilla, and brown sugar. If others ate this, they might find these flavors overdone. But, I am almost always just doing food prep for myself, so I can push things more than, say, when I prepare family dinner.  Next time I make a batch, I plan to grind up some cardamom pods with my mortar and pestle and see what it adds to the granola.

2. I got my legs moving today and walked to the Avista drop box and deposited my bill. This walk made me think how much I'm looking forward to the arrival of late winter and spring when I can return to trails and enjoy natural beauty along with exercise.

3. Watching Illinois defeat Penn State (62-56) and Creighton's triumph over Marquette (73-65) tonight made me wish (yet, again) that Gonzaga played in a conference like the Big East or the Big Ten where the teams are more equally talented and almost every game is a hard fought, tooth and nail affair. I think Gonzaga would do very well, but no way would they dominate these conferences the way they dominate the WCC.

Tonight I tried to imagine Gonzaga's guards going up against Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu or how they would fare against Creighton's sharp shooting trio of Mitch Ballock, Ty-Shon Alexander, and Marcus Zegarowski. Down low, tonight, the action in the Illinois/Penn State game was bruising, and I thought it would be great for Drew Timme and Filip Petrusev to body up against Illinois' Kofi Cockburn or Penn State's Mike Watkins. I dream of other matchups between Gonzaga and Maryland or Gonzaga and Seton Hall, thinking that Gonzaga would play these teams tough, but in both the Big Ten and the Big East (well, and in the Pac 12), the teams atop these conferences have multiple losses. It's inevitable. I'm sure Gonzaga would, too, and (obviously!) I think the more demanding competition would sharpen the Zags and we certainly would not see Gonzaga able to have subpar performances and still win by wide margins the way they can in the WCC.

Oh. Okay. I'll write my dream again. I think I do this every season.

The Big East only has one team, Butler, that is not a Catholic university.

It would be a blast if the USA were a smaller country, if Gonzaga had geographical proximity to these Big East schools, and if Gonzaga could join this conference and face, game after game, teams like Villanova, Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, the forty minutes of hell against St. John's, and the others and be challenged all through January, February, and March by rugged, aggressive, sharp-shooting teams who are either close to as talented or are equally talented as the Zags.

It's a dream I have that will never come true.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/17/20: Bloggin' at Starbucks, Breakfast at the Garnet, Johnnies Don't Hang On

1. I was at Ed's at 6:30 this morning. He drove us to CdA where he had an imaging appointment first thing this morning.  Ed, Stu, Lars, and I made a plan to meet around 9:00 at the Garnet in Coeur d'Alene for breakfast.

While Ed was having the scan done, I camped out at the Starbucks on Ironwood Dr. with a morning bun and a grande Pike Place Roast coffee and blogged away. Whenever I visit Eugene, I often do the same thing at the Starbucks near 6th and Lawrence. I have often daydreamed of having a similar place to go to in Kellogg to write in the morning. Both of these Starbucks have numerous tables and lots of windows and, in both places, I'm in the company of other people who also have laptops open and are working on one thing or another or playing computer games. I also enjoy the activity in both shops, and, in both places, it's rare that any one knows me. I can enjoy writing in the company of others and with the comfort of anonymity.

2. Back in October, I wrote about my ongoing disappointment that several places where I eat breakfast serve corned beef hash from a can and that I enjoy corned beef hash made in house.

Well, Mary Elizabeth commented on that blog post and told me that the Garnet makes their own corned beef hash.

So, when the guys and I sat down for breakfast this morning, I hardly had to look at the menu.

I knew I was going to order corned beef hash and I'm very happy I did. It thoroughly enjoyed the Garnet's generous serving of their meaty and well-seasoned corned beef hash and the eggs that accompanied it. I ordered a biscuit, too, and enjoyed in with the Garnet's own lemon curd, but was so full from the hash and eggs, that I could only eat half of the large biscuit.

We guys covered a lot of territory as we yakked away: Zags basketball, a little high school basketball, travel, retirement stuff -- Social Security, Medicare, etc. --, the feature Ed had seen Sunday morning on Air Supply, and some medical/dental tales. It was great time, made even more enjoyable by the clear weather, excellent driving conditions, and great conversation when Ed and I headed back to the Silver Valley.

3. For many of the two hours between 3:30 and 5:30, donning my St. John's hoodie, I felt some of the excitement I felt a year ago for the Johnnies of St. John's University. The Johnnies hosted Xavier in Madison Square Garden today and it was fun to see how much they've improved since I last saw them play a month or so ago.

St. John's strategy is to create chaos, force their opponent into multiple turnovers, and score points on fast breaks generated by their defense. They press their opponents from baseline to baseline the entire game and work hard to create frustration.

It worked tonight and players like Rasheem Dunn, Nick Rutherford, and Marcellus Earlington who are new to the program or, in the case of Earlington, barely played last year, played great tonight. This year's St. John's team is responding well to their new coach, Mike Anderson's patience, low-key demeanor, and very demanding style of play.

With 2:05 left in the game, Nick Rutherford scored on a dunk off of LJ Figueroa's steal and the Johnnies were up by five. But, the Johnnies could not close out this game. Rasheem Dunn missed the front end of a one and one at the charity stripe with 25 seconds to go. They missed their last four shots from the field in the last two minutes. And, Xavier, fought through the pressing Johnny's defense, scored eight points in the last two minutes, and secured the win, 77-74.

St. John's may not get over the hump this season of learning how to close out close games. Tonight, they were the best I've seen them all season in scoring in the open court and Dunn, Earlington, and Rutherford scored better than ever out of their set offense.

But they couldn't close out this game.

Xavier, on the other hand, kept their hopes alive of possibly securing a spot in the NCAA National Tournament. They are definitely, as they say, on the bubble, and this win was crucial to their hopes of being chosen on Selection Sunday.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/16/20: Ducks Overwhelm USC, Ducks Blast Utah, One More Maureen Lawson Episode

1. I am emotionally committed to the success of the Oregon Ducks women's basketball team more than I am committed to any other college basketball team in the whole USA.

Even though the Ducks have an extraordinarily talented team, I always find reasons, it seems, to be anxious before every game. This afternoon, my concern was that the Ducks might come on the court a little flat after defeating 7th ranked UCLA on Friday night and, to my eyes, looking a little tired in the later stages of that game.

As this matinee contest got underway, Oregon, in fact, did seem sluggish and USC quickly demonstrated that they have two very talented freshmen, guard Endyia Rogers and forward Alissa Pili. And, sure enough, the Ducks had trouble scoring early. They fell behind 7-0. Gradually, they shook the cobwebs and by quarter's end were ahead, 20-15, led by Satou Sallaby's buckets sunk near the hoop as well as a couple from distance.

As the game progressed, all of the parts of the Duck's offense clicked. Ionescu and Moore dished out multiple assists, especially to Ruthy Hebard, and the Ducks' outside shots started to fall. In the second half, Erin Boley caught fire -- she burst into flames -- and drained, by game's end, seven three pointers on her way to scoring 25 points.

It wasn't long, in the second half, before the sheer talent of the Ducks overwhelmed and dominated the Trojans and Oregon zoomed to a resounding 93-67 victory.

2.  As it turned out, the men's team for Oregon also played today, facing Utah in an evening tilt at Matthew Knight Arena. These Ducks did not start out even a little sluggish. They were hot as a blast furnace.  Led by Payton Pritchard and Will Richardson, the Ducks scorched the twine in the first half, raced to a 44-30 halftime lead, and kept their collective feet on the proverbial gas pedal the rest of the way and overwhelmed Utah, 80-62.

3. Christy and Everett needed to cancel Family Dinner and Carol decided she'd also prefer staying home to rest.

I fixed myself a tomato and zucchini pasta sauce to put over penne and, after the Oregon/Utah game, decided to watch the one remaining episode I hadn't seen this week of A Touch of Frost featuring Sally Dexter playing the role of Maureen Lawson. The case was grisly. Two women in their seventies were murdered in their homes.

Late in this episode, Lawson confides in Jack Frost that she doesn't go home at night to a "fella". Her lover is a woman. Had I been watching this program twenty-five years ago, I would have thought this would be a rich story line to develop. But, by the end of the next episode in Season 2, Maureen Lawson was relocated to Cornwall. She returned for one episode in Season 11.

In the brief amount of time that Sally Dexter worked in this series, I thought her characterization of Maureen Lawson brought depth to the series. She contributed gravity, seriousness, intelligence, frankness, and insight to her partnership with Jack Frost. She seemed to understand Jack Frost's eccentricities right from the start and he respected her work and insights. The two inspectors worked very well together professionally and were in the early stages of caring for one another's personal lives.

I don't know how these things are decided -- which characters stay, which are written out of television shows, but I wish Sally Dexter had stayed with A Touch of Frost longer and I could have watched her delve deeper into the character of Maureen Lawson.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/15/20: The Maryland Connection, Zags Sail to Victory, Frost and Lawson Episodes

1.  Yeah. Yeah. I get it. That stretch of Baltimore Ave./Rt 1 that runs through College Park, MD is aesthetically brutal, the traffic is frequently snarled, and it contributes mightily to the comments I've read or have heard telling me that, as a college town, College Park is "an armpit", that's it's "America's ugliest college town".

But I liked College Park. A lot.

Every time I drove to College Park to worship at St. Andrews or to walk on the Paint Branch Trail or to eat and have a cup of coffee at Bagel Place, among other things I enjoyed in College Park, my affection for the place grew.

Now that I live in Kellogg, within myself I've adopted the Maryland Terrapins (the Terps) men's basketball team as the home team I left behind -- with feelings very similar to the ones I have for both the men's and women's Oregon Ducks basketball teams.

So, when the Terps play on television, I love to tune in and, this year, I've enjoyed watching the Terps mature over the course of the season and play their way, for now, to the top of the Big Ten Conference standings.

Today the Terps traveled to East Lansing to play Michigan State. Earlier in the season, thanks to conference losses on the road to Penn State, Iowa, and Wisconsin, basketball fans, especially Terp fans, started to wonder if the Terps were too soft to win away from College Park.

Well, in the last month, Maryland has won three road games in a row and they hoped to make it four in the hostile environment of MSU's Breslin Center.

Maryland raced out in front of Michigan State in the first half by as many as fifteen points, but sagged as the half was closing and took an eight point lead into halftime. In the second half, Michigan State tightened its defense and Maryland's offense became stagnant. Slowly and surely, the Spartans steadily closed Maryland's lead, overtook the Terps, and siezed a seven point lead with 3:25 to play on an Aaron Henry jumper.

Then the tide turned.

Jalen Smith hit a three point shot, closing the gap to four points and, in the game's final 3:25, MSU never scored again.

The Terps' Anthony Cowans, however, did.

And how.

He calmly hit three straight three point shots and two free throws, scoring Maryland's last eleven points and led Maryland on a late game surge that secured the Terps a 67-60 victory, keeping the Terps atop the Big 10 conference.

I'm not very demonstrative or vocal during basketball games, but if huge smiles were noise, the joyous grin on my face at the end of this tilt would have been a roar and my celebration would have frightened old Charly.  But, I was quiet, happy -- actually, kind of emotionally moved --, and proud that Maryland, whom I like to call my old neighborhood school, clamped down on the Spartans late, worked their way out of their second half funk, and won this very challenging game in East Lansing.

2. The last ten to fourteen days have been trying for Christy and Everett. Everett's been battling health problems and Christy has gotten run down because Everett has had restless nights and Christy has taken him to several appointments in Kellogg and Coeur d'Alene over the last week and a half or so.

I asked Christy's permission to join them to watch tonight's Gonzaga game against Pepperdine and was happy that they felt well enough and rested enough to have me over.

Everett's doing better. I could tell that upon entering the house.  Christy reviewed Everett's treatment plan with me and reported that they are seeing positive results.

The basketball game was kind of a ragged affair. Pepperdine is a far inferior team compared to Gonzaga. To stay in this game, they had to run time off the clock with long possessions and play hounding, ugly defense. Pepperdine's approach kept the game close for a half as Gonzaga only led by four at halftime.

Gonzaga was getting Pepperdine's best effort, but it wouldn't be long before Gonzaga's superior shooting and defense would take over the game and, in the second half, Gonzaga opened up a double digit lead that they never surrendered and sailed to victory, 89-77.

3. I continue to try out my experiment of staying up past midnight with Charly, feeding her a little bit and taking her out back before I go to bed, and hoping she will go four hours or so without whimpering and that I can sleep until around four and then until about eight o'clock.

By the way, I'm also seeing if it helps Charly to come to bed with me. Charly used to come into the bedroom and express her wish to sleep on my bed, but that ended a few months ago. I've gotten it in my head, however, that even though she no longer shuffles on her own to the bedroom, that during the night she doesn't like being alone in the living room. So, now I'm carrying her into my bedroom and seeing how she does sleeping next to me.

So far, it's worked pretty well.

You might remember that on Friday night, on A Touch of Frost, I loved watching Detective Inspector Jack Frost (David Jason) working with fellow inspector Maureen Lawson (Sally Dexter) who was on temporary loan to the Denton police station. I did a little digging and discovered that Frost and Lawson had worked together in a couple of episodes about eight seasons back from the episode I watched on Friday.

So, tonight, I went back to Season 3, Episode 4. This case Frost and Lawson worked on was a tough one to solve and the episode's story line was made more complicated by Lawson's involvement in a separate and simpler burglary case involving two women living together. In wrapping up the case, Maureen Lawson and one of the women who'd been burgled were attracted to each other and began to see each other for meals or drinks out. In other words, Maureen Lawson and this woman crossed the line separating a police officer and a crime victim and became a bit involved with each other.
I won't disclose how Lawson's lapse in professional judgment worked out, but having this plot line developing along with the larger story of a bottle factory heist and subsequent attempts having been made on the life of the factory's owner significantly deepened the power of the entire episode.

It was past midnight when I went back another season to watch Frost and Lawson in the first episode they worked together in, but after about 20 minutes or so, I could no longer stay awake, picked up Charly, and we went to bed. I'll finish that episode as soon as possible.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/14/20: *A Separation* and Middle East Movies, Hebard's Huge Night vrs UCLA, Maureen Dawson Helps Jack Frost

1. If Iranian movies accurately portray day to day life in Iran, and I don't have any good reason to believe they don't, then many Iranians' day to day existence looks very familiar: marriages fall apart, adult children move parents into their own homes and care for them, sometimes these parents suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a piano gets sold, movers get hired to move it, cell phone users in rural areas struggle to find a signal, mothers drive their children places, traffic gets congested in Tehran, and so on.

I didn't get much sleep Thursday night and on into Friday morning, so when I started watching Asghar Farhadi's movie, A Separation, this afternoon, I suspected I might not have the mental energy to stick with it.

I was right. I'll try again on Saturday.

But, in the ten minutes or so I watched, the pressures the family in the movie were experiencing were familiar: in home care for the husband's elderly father, the adult son's commitment to care for his aged dad, a mother concerned about the welfare of her elementary school-aged daughter, the confusion and grief on the child's face as her mother packs up to move, to live apart from her husband, and the mother beginning to face the uncertainty of living as a single parent.

So far, the movie is shot in what I would call the style of cinema verite. It looks almost like a documentary. The other movie I watched by Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman, was made in a similar style, so it is as if we, as viewers, are right there, experiencing the pace and crowdedness of life in Tehran.

I haven't read anything about A Separation. I don't know where this movie is headed, but I'm looking forward to watching it when I've slept better and can give this movie the attention of my rested mind.

I am grateful that thanks to Netflix and and possibly other sources, I can watch movies made in Israel, Palestine, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East. They've enriched my life significantly over the years.

2. I napped off and on during the day -- Charly is calm and rests peacefully during the day. It's at night when she whimpers for food and water, when she finds it difficult to settle down and requires my attention.

So, by this evening, thanks to a boost from a fresh batch of rice salad and a pre-game mug of hot chocolate, I was raring to go when the telecast of the women's basketball game between the Ducks and UCLA came on at 8:00.

Linda S. and I got on our text machines so we could tell each other what we were seeing in this game. I will admit, though, and maybe Linda did the same thing, that out of a superstitious fear of jinxing the Ducks, I didn't mention to Linda last year's Duck/UCLA game on February 22, 2019 when UCLA rallied from twenty-two points behind in Matthew Knight Arena and defeated Oregon, 74-69. Now, I realize, it's important to note that Ruthy Hebard was out with an injury on that stunning night, but, still, as this game got underway, I had a mild case of the weebie-jeebies, fearing that no Ducks' lead would be safe thanks to the history between these two teams.

Well, tonight, believe me, Ruthy Hebard was present -- and how! From the get go, it became clear that Coach Graves was certain that UCLA didn't have the personnel necessary to defend Hebard in the paint and, every chance they got, as the game progressed, the Ducks fed Ruthy the ball inside, sometimes as she flashed across the key, other times as she positioned herself inside, and, most beautifully, when she and Sabrina Ionescu ran some wicked pick and rolls. By game's end, Ruthy Hebard scored 30 points. She took 19 shots and made 14 of them and added a couple of free throws to her total. And, for good measure, Hebard collected 17 rebounds.

When UCLA tried to collapse and swarm Hebard inside, the Ducks' answered with some dead-eye shooting from mid-range and from beyond the three point arc.  The Ducks were very democratic from the outside as Ionescu, Jaz Shelley, Taylor Chavez, and, to my delight, Minyon Moore all popped in jumpers. Erin Boley and Satou Sabally had quiet nights scoring, but both hit key rally busting shots in the fourth quarter when UCLA valiantly tried to repeat their miraculous comeback of a year ago. (As UCLA cut into Oregon's lead tonight, I was getting nervous, but I kept it to myself out of fear that just mentioning last year's game might make a miracle comeback happen again! Ha!) The Bruins cut Oregon's one-time 26 point lead to 12, but, in the end, the Ducks weathered the Bruins' rally and won this game, 80-66.

3. Hoping that a past midnight snack and trip outdoors might help Charly settle down during her restless early morning hours, I watched a very interesting and, at times, creepy episode of A Touch of Frost. It was fun seeing Amanda Root pop up in this episode as a very demanding and competitive ballroom dancing contestant after just seeing her as Christopher Foyle's brokenhearted former lover on Monday night.

Inspector Jack Frost had a full plate in the episode I watched tonight as one victim, a bigamist, was murdered near a canal and a second victim was found dismembered in a discarded refrigerator at a fridge dump site and Frost struggled the entire episode with the pain of a tooth he broke while eating a lollipop -- a comic homage, no doubt, to Kojak!

In this episode, DS Maureen Lawson was on loan to the Denton office and she and Jack Frost worked beautifully together. In many ways, the pairing of these two detectives was my favorite feature of this episode and I'm going to go back and watch again episodes from earlier seasons when DS Maureen Lawson worked as Jack's partner. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/13/20: New Cell Phone, Back to Daft Badger, Ducks Win During Walton's Latest Magic Carpet Ride

1. Last summer I busted my cell phone. I replaced it by resurrecting the older cell phone I kept around after buying the one I busted. The older, resurrected cell phone worked fine, but its battery was crapping out, making it necessary to carry a portable charger with me, especially when I went out of town.

Well, a group of us plan to go to St. Regis and then to the Old Montana Bar and Grill next week. I am also hoping to travel to Maryland and New York sometime this year. I don't want to have to carry a portable charger, so I drove to CdA and went to the Verizon store on Prairie and Hiway 95 and bought a new cell phone.

2. After completing my purchase, I realized I hadn't eaten anything all day and I recalled seeing on Facebook that the weekly lunch special at Daft Badger is a creative and really tasty sounding sandwich: thin sliced smoked beef, cucumber, spinach, cilantro, gruyere cheese, and Thai green curry mayonnaise on a baguette. It sounded pretty close to a Banh Mi, a favorite of mine. This week's lunch special also includes clam chowder.

I also realized that I hadn't been to Daft Badger (located in CdA on 2nd between Spruce and Poplar) for ages, a sorry situation.

I strolled in and, as is always the case at Daft Badger, I was immediately greeted by a friendly server (today it was Brittany), eager to be of help, who brought me water and menus. All I had to do was decide on a beer.

I decided to give Daft Badger's New England IPA, called Coast to Coast, a try and it was perfect. It came on my tongue pleasingly with a citrusy juiciness followed by a dry finish, just a hint of complementing bitterness. I enjoyed my 12 oz pour (no imperial pint for me!) and wished I weren't driving because I would have enjoyed trying the brewery's Imperial Stout or Kalua Porter. Another time.

I enjoyed my sandwich a lot. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. The smoked beef was tender and perfectly cooked. I loved the understated spicy kick the curry mayo gave this sandwich. The clam chowder served as a perfect compliment.

3.  "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf

I like to dream yes, yes
Right between the sound machine
On a cloud of sound I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near
To the stars away from here

Well, you don't know what
We can find
Why don't you come with Walton, yeah
On a magic carpet ride

Every morning, I check the day's men's college basketball schedule at to see which of that day's games are on television and I go the Twitter page called "Announcer Schedules" to see who will be doing play by play and analysis for those games.

This morning, I looked up the Colorado at Oregon game on ESPN and, lo and behold, on Twitter, saw that Bill Walton would be on the mike tonight.

I smiled. 

Oh! My! God!

It's going to be another Magic Carpet Ride at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR!

Bill Walton will be baked, high as a kite, and fired up. He loves the University of Oregon, he loves the state of Oregon, he loves being in Eugene. 

I wondered, hmmm, where will Walton's Magic Carpet Ride take us tonight?

Will he eat a jar of peanut butter with his hands on the set like he did last time he was in Eugene?

Will he rhapsodize about Eugene's beautiful bike trails and teach us where we can find the headwaters of the Willamette River?

How many times will be lobby for Oregon coach Dana Altman to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

I was eager for 6 p.m. to roll around so I could drop the safety bar across my lap and brace myself for a ride on Bill Walton's Timber Terror.

I was going to see where Space Truckin' Billy would fly tonight. 

Tonight, the Space Cowboy was joined by his usual sidekick, the long-suffering Dave Pasch, and a guest analyst, Mark Jackson.

A couple of times during the broadcast, Bill Walton commented on the game before him. He barked at the referees. Walton is a proponent of "let them play". Bill expresses his displeasure with the refs and with things players do that he disapproves of by bellowing, "PLEEEEASE!"

Otherwise, Bill spent much of the night otherwise disposed, not letting the game get too much in the way of what was on his joyful, joyous, trippy mind.

Having Mark Jackson at his side opened up frequent opportunities for Bill to effusively praise what an outstanding player Jackson was and what an honor it was to be on the broadcast with him.

Early in the game, Walton decided that Mark Jackson didn't need his broadcaster's notes, so he picked them up off the table and tossed them to the floor. 

Walton quacked frequently. 

He also made several references to grass.

In the second half, while holding a Mark Jackson cardboard fat head on a stick in front of his face, Walton informed us that the battle between Oregon and Colorado was putting the fate of the known universe in the balance. (The universe survived.)

We learned that the Amazon River and the Chicago River are the only two rivers, in addition to the Willamette River, whose flow had reversed direction over the course of geological time.

Twice, Walton ordered Mark Jackson's son, Christian, to stand up. He and Mark Jackson had a wonderful discussion of dogs they've lost to old age and Walton spoke affectionately of the two dogs he and his wife currently have. 

At one point, on a Colorado possession, Walton took over Pasch's play by play duties, but instead of saying what the Colorado players were doing, he suddenly inserted the names of former Indiana Pacers Dale Davis, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullen, Rik Smits, and Mark Jackson into the action, and had them playing for a former Pacer's coach, Slick Leonard.  Not one of those late 1990s Pacer players had Leonard as a coach. Leonard's career with the Pacers ended in 1980. 

But, no problem.

It's the Magic Carpet Ride.

Walton goes far.

He flies near.

He goes to the stars away from here. 

Like Deep Purple, he's Space Truckin'. 


The game. 

Oregon got its offense going in the second half, tightened its defensive effort, in large part thanks to a full court press, and they roared from 12 points behind in the second half and defeated Colorado, 68-60.

One last thing. Walton announced during the game that all of these Duck fans would be back in Matthew Knight Arena in July for this summer's Phish concerts. Pasch and Jackson had no idea what he was talking about. 

I have a ticket for one night of Phish in Eugene in July.  I hope I can go. If I do, I'll be keeping an eye out for Bill Walton who will be living large, living high, and living full of joy. Who knows? Maybe Phish will have him come on stage and drum! 

Witnessing that would represent the snow-capped summit of my concert going career. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/12/20: Edith Warton's Sharp Pen, Unpredictable Big East, *Judy* as a Sonnet Cycle

1. Today I made the switch from Patrick O'Brian to Edith Wharton and there's a point of contact between them. In the same way that O'Brian describes in great detail the physical features of a the ship Sophie and the details of 18th century life on shore and on the ship, Wharton, in The Age of Innocence, describes upper class society in late 19th century Manhattan in similar detail. It's not just the manners of these aristocrats she describes, but she draws, first, a vivid picture of the Academy of Music in New York City where, in the opening of the novel, Faust is being performed. (If you've seen the movie, The Age of Innocence, you might remember that the art production of the movie is similarly lush in its attention to detail.) Second, the novel's principals retire, after the opera, to the ballroom at the Beaufort mansion, and, again Wharton draws a detailed picture of the design and decor of ballroom, always connecting the architectural details of the space and the details of each character's apparel to the nature of his or her personality, taste, prejudices, and over all disposition.

It's wicked.

Edith Wharton's pen is sharp.

2. As an avid follower of Big East basketball, I'm no different from others who devote hours watching rivals in this conference play games.

The conference is reliably unpredictable.

Take tonight. First place Seton Hall hosted Creighton. Seton Hall's Myles Powell had an off night, Creighton continued its emergence as a team on the rise, and the Blue Jays beat Seton Hall, 87-82, at The Rock, the Prudential Center in Newark.

Next up: Villanova played host to Marquette. Marquette had won its last three games and Villanova had lost three in row.

But, Marquette's star, Markus Powell, like Myles Powell, also had an off night; but, in the game's final two minutes, Howard hit huge shots (but missed key free throws) and Marquette nearly pulled ahead, nearly pulled off a near miraculous comeback, but fell short, and Villanova hung on to win, 72-71.

3. Shakespeare's cycle of sonnets read like a 154 sided diamond (if there were such a thing).
With each new sonnet, Shakespeare explores another facet of love and sexuality, whether it's love between friends, romantic love, love and aging, the pain of betrayal, jealousy, despair, or any of the other many dimensions of love.

Tonight, I experienced Renee Zellweger's performance as Judy Garland in the movie, Judy, much like Shakespeare's sonnet cycle, but, the subject was not love;  Zellweger, instead, brought to life grief's countless facets. It was a wrenching performance taking us deep into the grief (and fatigue) of a lost childhood, financial instability, insecurity, lost love, being exploited and discarded as a film star, family separation, carrying the weight of maintaining a public persona, loneliness, dependence on pills, and any number of other sources of her grief. Zellweger brought this grief to life with her eyes, her range of facial expressions, in the catches and breaks in her character's voice, her character's mannerisms, and in way her character walked, danced, sang, slumped, stumbled, and smoked cigarettes. Each gesture was like a new sonnet, unveiling another dimension of the bottomless grief that consumed her character Judy's being.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/11/20: I Finished *Master and Commander* (No Spoilers), Maryland Hangs On, Adjusting to Charly with *Vera*

1. About six weeks ago, when I finished watching the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, I wrote that I enjoyed the movie much more when Bond's character was under development and when his mind was at work matching wits with the movie's villains or with his boss. I found myself impatient during the outrageous chases with their spectacular special effects and as his seductions of and liaisons with women played out. During these scenes, I wanted to get back to what was cerebral and complicated about James Bond. Those scenes were much more absorbing.

Similarly, in reading Master and Commander, I found the book most captivating as I learned more about the inner lives of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, unfolded in their conversations, decisions, actions, and inward thoughts. When the story focused on the details of battles at sea, the novel was more difficult for me to enjoy, except as they revealed more about each naval man's character.

Master and Commander is the first of Patrick O'Brian's twenty completed and one unfinished Aubrey/Maturin historical novels. My curiosity as to how Aubrey and Maturin will develop as individual characters and how their friendship will proceed motivates me to read on in the series. It could be that as I read more deeply into the series, the passages describing the flash and boom of battle, the raising and lowering of sails, and the maneuvering of ships in battle will become more compelling to me.

It's hard to say.

I think I am sufficiently interested, though, to find out how Jack Aubrey moves on from his naval successes and failures in the first book and whether he learns from those things he's done that have undermined his own ambitions.  At some point, I'll get going on the next novel, Post Captain.

Before I move forward, though, I might take time to go back and reread the last two chapters of Master and Commander. I was fatigued when I read them and I think they deserve my second reading with a fresher mind.

And I won't read Post Captain right away because Edith Wharton is calling and my next move is to enter into the late 19th century world of New York City in her novel, The Age of Innocence.

2. At halftime, it looked like Maryland would waltz to a victory over Nebraska. The Terps held a 13 point lead. Nebraska was having a lousy shooting night.

In the second half, Maryland's waltz turned into Nebraska's monster mash and the 'Huskers roared back and, with 12 seconds left in the game, Nebraska rebounded a missed Anthony Cowan free throw. Nebraska had cut the lead to one point. With four seconds remaining, Nebraska's Cam Mack found an open lane to the hoop, drove hard to the cup, but Maryland's Jalen Smith swooped into the key and swatted away Mack's shot without drawing a foul. Smith snatched possession of his block and got fouled with 7/10 of a second left in the game. He made his first free throw, missed the second on purpose, and Nebraska could not launch a last tenth of a second desperation shot and Maryland prevailed, 72-70.

3.  I decided to see tonight if I might get more consecutive hours of sleep if I stayed up later and fed Charly late at night and took her out back before going to bed around midnight. It might have worked. Charly cried for me to tend to her at 4 a.m. I got four consecutive, sweet hours of sleep. I returned to bed and slept until 7:30. I'm going to take this approach again. I woke up more refreshed than I have been in a while.

Knowing that I'm going to stay up about two hours longer than I usually do, I put a couple or three movies on my television's watchlist and then decided, since I've finished Season 9 of Vera, to go back to the beginning and start watching episodes beginning with the first episode of the first season.

Having done this, I now know Vera moved into her father's very modest wreck of a country home after he died and that with the beginning of the series she enters into a period of reckoning, trying to come to grips with what a difficult father he was. When I watched Vera confront some facts about her father's life in the fourth episode of season 9, I hadn't realized what she'd been through at the beginning of the series as she moved into his house.

(I started with Season 9 because about a month or so ago it was all I had access to through my BritBox subscription, but now we also subscribe to Acorn so now I can watch all of the seasons and episodes.)

In this first episode, viewers are introduced to Vera over the course of an unusual pair of murders. Both murders were ritual killings involving water and flowers and neither murder made much sense until Vera and her fellow inspectors began to dig into the lives of a circle of bird watchers. The murderer's secret perversion surfaced, along with other deceits. Vera cracked the case.

I prefer early to bed and early to rise -- but I'm going to change that pattern, work with Charly's life rhythms in her old age, and start watching more drama on my television late at night with the help of hot chocolate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/10/20: Reckless Jack Aubrey, Deeper into Foyle, Documentary: Jacksonville in the Final Four -- 1970

1. I tried to finish reading the book Master and Commander today, but after another night of interrupted sleep looking after Charly, I kept falling asleep while I read. I'm almost done. The book's protagonist, Jack Aubrey, got on the wrong side of his commanding officer by persisting to  carry on an affair with the officer's wife.  The story seems to be headed toward a denouement involving the consequences of Aubrey's recklessness.

2. As the first episode of the second season of Foyle's War got underway, I realized I'd watched it a several years ago, but I couldn't remember the details so I watched it again. In much the same way that the last episode I watched of Vera opened up a story line that revealed Vera's history with her father, this episode of Foyle's War included a subplot that unfolded a painful occurrence in Christopher Foyle's past love life. The brief encounter that revealed Foyle's heartbreak had little to do with the cases he was working on, but developed new depth in Foyle and added complexity to his character.

3. On Saturday, on CBS Sports Network, I saw that CBSSN was running an hour long documentary on the Jacksonville University Dolphins' stunning rise in 1969-70 basketball season from nearly total obscurity to the finals of the NCAA National Championship Tournament.

The title of the show is Jacksonville U: Can Do.

After watching Foyle's War, I looked at the CBSNN schedule to see when else Jacksonville U: Can Do might be replaying since I missed it on Sunday.

It played tonight at nine and I watched it.

It was awesome to return to that 1969-70 season. That March, Terry Turner invited me to be his family's guest and watch the Western Regional of the NCAA tournament in Seattle. On Thursday evening, as we watched UCLA defeat Long Beach State, astonishment rippled through the crowd when the P.A announcer reported that Jacksonville had defeated Ralph Miller's Iowa Hawkeyes, featuring future SuperSonic NBA champions Fred Brown and John Johnson, 104-103 -- we later learned that Jacksonville won that game on a put back by Pembroke Burroughs III at the buzzer.

Then, on Saturday, another shocker: while we watched UCLA dismantle Utah State, we heard that Jacksonville defeated Kentucky, 106-100 and had earned a trip to the Final Four. We were in Hec Edmonston Pavillion on the University of Washington campus  and the proper song to play when that score was announced would have been, "There's a Kind of Hush". You could have heard a proverbial pin drop.

I was 16 years old, sitting in Hec Edmonston Pavillion, and I was having a very difficult time making sense out of this -- I'd had a UCLA-chauvinist attitude toward Jacksonville, thinking that this team anchored by Artis Gilmore, led by guards Vaughn Wedeking and Rex Morgan, and supported by Pembroke Burroughs III, Rod McIntyre, and Mike Blevins was some kind of freak show with their flamboyantly dressed coach Joe Williams, their Harlem Globetrotter like show in warm-ups, and their white boys' floppy hair and their black players' big Afros.

And, it's their rise from obscurity and the shock that Jacksonville sent through the world of NCAA basketball in the late winter of 1970 that this documentary narrates.

I loved UCLA. And, as it turned out, UCLA faced Jacksonville in the final game of the 1970 tournament.

In the same way that I thought the Colts would dominate the Jets in the 1969 Super Bowl (I was wrong), thought the Orioles would crush the Mets in the 1969 World Series (wrong again), and the Vikings would cruise past the Chiefs in the 1970 Super Bowl (wrong, yet again), I didn't think Jacksonville had a prayer against UCLA.

And, for a while, I was wrong again.

Tonight, I enjoyed watching clips from that 1970 championship game between Jacksonville and UCLA and reliving the shock of Jacksonville, especially Artis Gilmore, dominating the early part of that contest. It wasn't until Sidney Wicks stopped fronting Artis Gilmore and defended him from behind and blocked a handful of Gilmore's shots that UCLA assumed eventual control of this game and went on to win it, 80-69.

I was ecstatic that Saturday afternoon.

My UCLA-chauvinism had been vindicated.

But as the years went by, that game kept coming back to me in my thoughts and memories and it wasn't UCLA I kept thinking about, but the unlikely story of Jacksonville's basketball team that year. When I studied at the U of O, I used to take the Sports Illustrated issue off the shelf that included coverage of that game and read about it again and again, look at the pictures, and relive that game. Jacksonville's rise to almost the top had captivated me.

That game happened fifty years ago.

Jacksonville has never won an NCAA tournament game since. In fact, they haven't even appeared in the tournament for 34 years.

The documentary Jacksonville U: Can Do opened my eyes to all kinds of things I hadn't known before about what a small school Jacksonville was, how minuscule its basketball program was, and how much the city of Jacksonville was under the grip of Jim Crow.

Now, I admit, this program was not produced with the high caliber production values, nor with the budget, that make ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries so exemplary.

And I liked that.

To me, it was fitting that such an underdog story about a low budget basketball team that played championship basketball against all odds was told in a low budget documentary that moved me, not because it had an award winning look, but by stirring up memories and creating fresh feelings in me about this Jacksonville team and about my own attitudes about basketball and basketball players when I was younger.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/09/20: Ducks Avenge January Loss to ASU, Aggravated Murder Imperial Stout, Burger at Sam's

1. Linda S., down in Eugene, and I jumped on our texting machines at about 2:00 so we could comment back and forth on the Oregon/Arizona State women's basketball game. Back on January 10th, Arizona State overcame a 13 point deficit and stormed back to a victory over Oregon, the Ducks' only conference loss of the season.

Oregon's players were not shy about it: they wanted revenge.

Arizona State plays a slow down, physical style of basketball. On defense, they jam up the paint and they push, grab, elbow, and hold their opponents, while also rotating help down low, and are willing to have fouls called in exchange for frustrating the other team and knowing that by playing a lot of players, they can keep fresh players banging away on defense and by sheer numbers protect their players from fouling out.

Without a doubt, the Sun Devils' primary strategy was to make pick and rolls run by Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard as difficult as possible and find out if the Ducks could adjust and find other ways to score.

In the early stages of the game, Arizona State's approach was effective, but the Sun Devils soon learned that Oregon could play physical, disrupting defense themselves -- get, as the television announcers like to say, down and dirty. So, the first quarter, at times, looked as much like a rugby match as a basketball game, but Oregon prevailed, holding ASU to just two points and scored ten themselves.

Oregon adjusted to the way ASU packed the paint and began to pepper shots from the outside and scored some points off of their defense forcing turnovers. While Ruthy Hebard was benched with two fouls and was stymied by ASU's defense when she did play, Ionescu scored 13 first half points, hit all three of her treys, and Oregon increased its lead to 27-15.

In the second half, a strong-willed Ducks team followed Coach Kelly Graves' instructions and got Ruthy Hebard into the flow of their offense, feeding her the ball inside, challenging the Sun Devils to stop her, and they didn't. With Hebard scoring inside, the Ducks also heated up from the perimeter, especially Jaz Shelley and Erin Boley, and they dizzied the Sun Devils, outscoring ASU by fifteen points in the third quarter and building an insurmountable 57-30 lead at the end of three.

The Ducks continued to fire away in the fourth quarter, with Satou Sabally getting in on the act after not scoring much earlier in the game, and the Ducks cruised to a 79-48 win.

If you were to look at the box score of this afternoon's game, you might not, on the face of it, be overwhelmed by Minyon Moore's numbers -- but if you watched the game, you might say she spearheaded the Ducks' efforts today. I loved how she played. From the point, on offense and defense, Minyon Moore was the Ducks' leader in responding to ASU's bruising style of play. She responded fearlessly and was the Ducks' chief disrupter.

While Moore only scored five points, she contributed to this win with six steals, zero turnovers, four rebounds, four assists, and, as the menacing leader of the Ducks' defense, she only committed two fouls. She's a fierce player and, I think, she sets a tone and an example, especially on defense, for her teammates and they are following her lead. Yes, on offense, Sabrina Ionescu controls this team with as intelligent and team-oriented leadership as I've ever seen in a player. But when it comes to intelligent defense and team-oriented sacrifice, when it comes to committing mentally, physically, and emotionally to just being tough, Minyon Moore emerges game after game as this team's boss.

2. I mentioned yesterday that I bought a couple cans of winter ale at Pilgrim's. What I didn't mention was that I also bought a 16 oz can of Bombastic Brewing's Imperial Breakfast Stout called Aggravated Murder, a beer that weighs in at 14.5% ABV.  The brewery is in Hayden, ID.

Normally, if I am going to drink a beer with this much alcohol content, I only drink 4-6 oz of it.

But, I had an entire pint before me.

So, I grabbed a small glass, and, over the course of the two hour basketball game, I drank small servings of about 3-4 oz.

The beer is delicious. It's barely carbonated and flows out of the can in a luxurious black stream and gave my nose a pleasant smell of coffee and maple. I enjoyed how, when I sipped it, the first sensation was of the coffee taking a hold of my tongue, with help from some caramel and toffee flavors. Then, after a few seconds, almost as an afterthought, the light sweetness of maple syrup asserted itself, making the finish very pleasing. You'd think a beer with such high alcohol content would also have a boozy quality, but not Aggravated Murder. The alcohol warmth was subdued and nicely balanced with coffee and maple syrup.

I'd had an up and down night with Charly again on Saturday night. When the Ducks game ended and I'd finished the pint of Aggravated Murder, I was relaxed, steady on my feet, but ready for a nap and got in a very satisfying hour or so of sleep.

3. Christy had texted Carol and me earlier in the day to cancel tonight's Family Dinner. Everett had had an up and down night with leg cramps. Everett has had a tough week with other physical problems and Christy was too tired to host us and was going to try to recover some of the sleep she lost during the night.

I've been working to try and get an upper hand on keeping my kitchen clean and decided I didn't want to mess it up any more by cooking myself dinner.

I went to Sam's and ordered a hamburger with fries and Pepsi.

It was simple, filling, and I was happy to come home, look at what I still had left to clean up in the kitchen and really happy I didn't make myself even more of a mess.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/08/20: Visiting Linda, Basketball with Rice Salad and Winter Ale, Daryl Hall and the O'Jays

1.  Around noon or so, I sprang into the Sube and swooshed over to Coeur d'Alene, happy that the driving conditions were nearly ideal so the swooshing was easy.

I grabbed a misto at Starbucks and went to the hospital to visit Linda L. Even though she'd been through a procedure earlier in the morning, by the time I arrived, she was awake, alert, and we fell into easy conversation. It looks like Linda will be released from the medical center on Sunday (02/09) which means that chances are good that this morning's procedure was a success in stopping the internal bleeding that's been going on over the last (about) ten days. Linda explained what it turned out the problem seemed to be, and while I have a general understanding of what she was telling me, I'd have to hear it again or read about it to get it appropriately straight and repeat it.

Linda was in good spirits for the two hours or so we talked about subjects ranging from music, especially  the genius of Daryl Hall (and Hall and Oates' 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette, featuring "She's Gone") and Leon Russell to some history of the Bunker Hill Company and life on the North Fork to what's happening in our families these days. Our conversation was interrupted for a little while by a physical therapist who was checking out Linda's plans for where she'd go upon being released and who put her through a few paces to see what kind of shape her balance and mobility were in after all she's been through. I think the physical therapist's assessment could be summed up this way: "Pretty good -- all things considered!"

2. I left the hospital, got a nifty hair trim, shopped a bit at Costco and Pilgrim's, and headed back to Kellogg. I hadn't eaten much all day so I put on a pot of rice and assembled a very tasty salad composed of rice, chickpeas, cucumber, almond slivers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese crumbles, cilantro, olive oil, rice vinegar, and Kalamata brine.

And that's not all! Ever since the short days and long nights and colder weather descended upon Kellogg, I've been hankering for some winter ale. My trips to Yoke's have been futile when I've looked there -- didn't they used to carry Deschutes Jubelale and Ninkasi's Sleigher? -- for some malty seasonal beers. At Pilgrim's, I wasn't having much winter ale luck at all, when a second or third scan of the shelves rewarded me. I found a can of Hopworks Urban Brewery's Abominable Winter Ale and a can of Sockeye's Winterfest. I enjoyed the malty Abominable while the rice I cooked for the salad cooled and, after I'd eaten, I enjoyed the much hoppier Winterfest.

I drank these beers while watching two disappointing basketball games. Five cardboard figures dressed in uniforms that said "St. Mary's" on the front got flattened by Gonzaga, 90-60. That St. Mary's put up so little resistance to Gonzaga's high scoring and efficient offense was a big let down. I'm happy the Zags won, but I was hoping for a well-contested game. This one wasn't.  I stopped watching it at halftime. Well, wait a minute, I did enjoy one thing:  watching the continued emergence of Drew Timme.

I left the Zags' game to watch Oregon play Oregon State in Corvallis. While this game was close, it was disappointing to see Oregon look so unsure of themselves, especially on offense. Tonight, at least, not one single Duck player stepped up to share the scoring load with Payton Pritchard. The Ducks suffered through a long drought in the second half, not scoring a single point for nine minutes. Yes, the Beavers played stingy defense, blanketing Pritchard especially, but all that attention to Pritchard left other Ducks open for some pretty good shots and it was one clank city for the Ducks.

If you read my basketball thoughts on this blog about college basketball, you know that I think teams who get good production out of secondary scorers and don't depend too much on their stars have the most success. Tonight, Payton Pritchard had an average scoring night and the secondary scorers for Oregon came up nearly empty. The Beavers exploited the Ducks' long dry spell, chipped away at Oregon's double figure lead, eventually took the lead, protected it, and won this game, 63-53.

3. It had been a while since I visited Daryl's House on YouTube. Well, Daryl Hall was fresh on my mind after visiting Linda, so I looked for an episode I hadn't seen and found the episode featuring the O'Jays dropping by Daryl's abode, allowing me before I went to sleep tonight to jump on the "Love Train", to be on guard for those "Backstabbers", and to say "I Love Music", too. Daryl's guests always sing at least one hit from Hall and Oates and, Oh Lord!, Daryl and the O'Jays performing "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" was divine. 

It was a satisfying and emotional way to bring a full day to an end.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/07/20: Slow Day, Terps Leap to the Top, Ducks Overwhelm Arizona

1. My ups and downs during the night with Charly and joining my friends for 6 a.m. breakfast at Sam's this morning left me feeling sleep deprived and so I didn't, as I thought I might, make a trip to CdA. I nodded off from time to time in the morning, chipped away at cleaning up the kitchen, made a trip to Yoke's and the Post Office, and got a little reading done.

Good ole Charly slept most of the day and didn't even have her first meal until in the afternoon. She really is living pretty much on a day is night, night is day schedule and so my sleep patterns, which I cherish (!), are currently in a state of disruption.  It's all right. I think it's all part of her aging and Charly is going through this so courageously that I'm inspired to help her out with patience.

2. All day, I was looking forward to Maryland (my old neighborhood team) and Illinois tipping off in a men's game between teams at the top of the Big 10 standings.

Earlier in the day, Byrdman and I texted a bit about this game. I agreed 100% with Byrdman that Maryland's Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan have been sizzling lately and remarked that I hoped Maryland's secondary scorers, Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell, and Eric Ayala, could combine for 20-25 points in support of Smith and Cowan, thinking it would really boost Maryland's chances to beat Illinois.

Well, I underestimated the Terps' trio of secondary scorers. Not only did Maryland come back from an early 14 point deficit to beat Illinois, 75-66, but Wiggins, Morsell, and Ayala combined to score 37 points, more than supporting the 31 points Cowan and Smith combined to put up, and those three were crucial in Maryland's win, vital in helping Maryland take sole possession of first place in the conference.

3. While watching Maryland and Illinois, I did my best to keep an eye on the Oregon/Arizona women's game. I watched the first quarter while the Maryland game was at halftime and Oregon held an 18-10 lead at the end of the quarter. I left the Oregon game for a while and when I checked back, Arizona had cut Oregon's lead to four, 20-16. Dang. The Maryland game was at a tense juncture. I returned to it and then, later, when I switched to the Pac-12 Network, I caught the halftime interview with Coach Graves and was startled to see that Oregon had swollen their lead to 17 points and led 39-22 at the half.

I finished watching the Maryland game and when I returned to the Matt in Eugene, the rout was on. The Ducks were scoring from everywhere. Taylor Chavez was cooking with gas from the perimeter; Sabrina Ionescu was on her way to a triple double and hit a shot from the Dairy Mart at 3425 Hilyard in South Eugene at the buzzer to end the third quarter and put the Ducks up 72-38; Ruthy Hebard scored 22 points, hammering away in the paint; Satou Sabally poured in 17, on drives to the iron as well as three buckets from three point land.  The Wildcats are a very good team. They have the conference's best defense and several potent players, led by the conference's top scorer, Ari McDonald, but Oregon overwhelmed the Wildcats tonight in their 85-52 win.

What I saw was breathtaking.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/06/20: More Snow, Kitchen Fun, Zags Win

1. I started the day with another workout, shoveling snow. Today's shoveling was more strenuous thanks to some rain and warmer weather. The snow was heavy. I was careful not to lift too much at a time and I got the job done. My back didn't hurt very much and the exercise helped me sleep more restfully.

2. I made a new batch of granola and experimented a bit. I used cranberry trail mix. I included dates as well as golden raisins. I increased the amount of melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon I used. I don't know that I'll ever make the perfect granola, but I enjoy trying out new ways to make it.

I also made a turmeric cauliflower soup by roasting cauliflower florets, chopped shallot, and some garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper. Once roasted, the recipe called for adding these ingredients into a mixture of unsweetened almond milk and vegetable broth.  I decided to be a bit daring and use crab stock instead of vegetable broth. I pureed it with the blender stick. It worked. I also blended in the last of the hummus I made the other night. I used a little too much garlic in this batch and so it helped garlic up this soup. It's not the best soup I've ever made, but making it once gives me ideas for how I might improve it next time around.

3. It would have been a stunning upset had the Loyola Marymount University defeated Gonzaga tonight. Yes, the Zags got sloppy in the first half and turned the ball over too often. A few times the Zags fell asleep on defense and gave up some easy buckets to LMU. And, yes, LMU hung in there in the first half and were behind by only eight points, 38-30 at halftime. In the second half, Gonzaga tightened their defense, took better care of the rock on offense, started hitting three point shots to compliment the great inside scoring they were getting from Drew Timme and Filip Petrusev, and stretched their lead into a rout and cruised to a 85-67 victory.

With Killian Tillie injured with a sprained ankle, Gonzaga thrust the freshman Drew Timme into the starting lineup and tonight he was brilliant. He plays with a lot of savvy around the basket and has a deft shooting touch, although his range his limited. But from about 12-15 feet and closer to the basket he scores in a variety of ways: floaters, tear drops, jumpers, bank shots with both his right and left hand, and strong put backs off missed shots. He is emerging as a very solid player and teamed up with Petrusev inside makes Gonzaga's interior offense tough to defend.

Gonzaga plays their arch rival St. Mary's in the Gaels' tiny pressure cooker gym in Moraga, CA on Saturday. I hope that by not playing last Saturday and again tonight, Tillie might be recovered enough to give the Zags some minutes against St. Mary's. The Zags' bench is shallow and any minutes Tillie could chalk up would give Timme, Petrusev, and possibly Corey Kisbert some valuable time to rest during the game.

Tonight, Gonzaga made 72% of their free throws. They shot 25 and made 18. This percentage at the line is slightly better than their 68.1% for the season, which, by the way, puts Gonzaga at 262 out of the 350 teams in Division I basketball.

Saturday. On the road. Likely a tight game. I would love to see the Zags rise above their past performances over the season and make something more like 80% of their free throws. Against St. Mary's every stat will be precious -- turnovers, rebounds, points in the paint, everything. It would bolster Gonzaga's chances of securing a victory on the road if they make their charity tosses.

Easier said than done.