Thursday, April 30, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/20: *Chopped*, Turkey Noodles, Granola BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Debbie left the house today for a while to pay Carol and Paul a visit -- she's hardly seen them since she returned to Kellogg over a month ago. I had been working a couple of crossword puzzles and thinking about things and flipped on the television and saw that The Food Network was running a "Beat the Judge" episode on Chopped.  Three returning champions cooked against each other for two rounds and the survivor advanced to go up against the formidable Amanda Freitag. I enjoy Chopped the most when the judges cook. I am very partial to Chopped After Hours. I won't give away how this episode turned out. I'll just say that both Amanda Freitag and the cook she competed against faced a tough challenge when they only had a half an hour to prepare double pork chops.

2. That turkey breast bone yielded about four and a half quarts of stock. I strained the stock and put it in containers today. Debbie used some of it to make a batch of delicious turkey noodles. We have enough left over for another dinner -- so, I'm happy to say, this one turkey breast will have supplied Debbie and me with four meals and Christy and Everett with another.

3. Our granola supply needed to be replenished and so I combined oats, mixed nuts, vanilla extract, cinnamon, melted butter, honey, and maple syrup into a bowl, mixed them up, spread in on a ridged baking sheet and parchment paper, baked it at 350 for about 25 minuts and PRESTO! we have a new batch of granola. Each batch lasts about a week or so. It's a staple for Debbie and an occasional breakfast entree for me. I tend to eat hot cereal.

Here's another limerick by Stu:

It's normal with age you are told.
The "fix" many places are sold.
So buy you a "pair",
If they're dark will fight glare.
Who says you can't see when you're old?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/28/20: Turkey, Debbie's Knitting, Bill Davie's Weekly Hour BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. When I wrote yesterday about a turkey breast lasting for a few days, I meant that, first of all, there are leftovers and tonight Debbie and I ate a casserole that was a mixture of leftover turkey, cornbread dressing, broccoli, and gravy. It was easy to prepare and delicious -- and it's not all gone.

Moreover, because I had bought a bone-in turkey breast, I put the bone and some remains of the meat in the crock pot with coarsely chopped onion, celery, celery greens, a few green onions, and some small sweet peppers along with salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and marjoram and it will simmer away for a day or two.

I could use this stock to make turkey soup -- which would last us a couple or three days -- or we might make a batch of turkey noodles, also long lasting. We have a container of leftover turkey pieces to put in either one.

We also have a container of turkey and dressing to give to Christy and Everett.

The day I bought this turkey breast, I also bought a whole chicken and one of these days we'll get three or four days of meals from it.

2. Debbie spends much of her time during the day knitting. She has brought her yarn stash upstairs and is determined to use it all up. When she finishes two or three different items, like caps or scarves, she packs them up to be mailed out to family and friends. Today, three packages were ready to go and I took them up the post office and stopped at Yoke's to buy some milk, coffee, onions, cheese, Ritz crackers, and a handful of other things to help sustain us while we lie low.

3. At seven o'clock, on his Facebook page, Bill Davie performed live again for an hour. Bill's Tuesday evening gigs have become my favorite hour of the week. Once again, he played a mixture of songs from his early recordings and played some of his superb recent work. I enjoyed, by the magic of the internet, being in the same room with friends from Whitworth and Eugene -- Val, Jeff, Dave, Kathy, Loras, and possibly others and look forward to returning to Bill's page, where these performances are archived, and listening to this performance again.

April 29th is National Zipper Day and Stu's limerick commemorates it:

A button can hold up your britches.
To close up things tight might take stitches.
But to shut the "barn door",
Takes a "Zipper", no more.
Which you hope can go up without hitches.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/27/20: Picky Old Man, Turkey Dinner, Uncle Val's Martini BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. As I grow older, I'm pickier and pickier about making myself very uncomfortable. Today, the weather was erratic: showers, some clearing, a downpour or two (maybe more) and the changes happened quickly. I just couldn't bring myself to possibly getting rained on and so I took a day off from scaling the dizzying heights of Mt. Wellness. I missed it. I look forward to returning on Tuesday. But, it's simple: I just didn't want to get wet.

2. When Debbie arrived back in Kellogg on March 18th, we agreed immediately that we would stay at home, only going out in public to buy groceries, some liquor, and go to the post office. On her way to Kellogg that day, Debbie stopped at Barney's in Pinehurst and bought a load of groceries with a long stretch of time staying indoors in mind and, soon after, I shopped at Yoke's with the same idea in mind (neither of us bought toilet paper, by the way!).

With the idea of buying food that would last a few days once prepared, I bought a turkey breast.

A couple of days ago, I started thawing it and today I roasted it. I had never tried sliding pats of butter under the skin of a turkey before roasting it and I did that today. Then I seasoned the turkey with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and roasted it for a half an hour at 425 degrees and then turned down the oven to 325 degrees and slow cooked it until it was done. I wasn't getting satisfactory readings with my meat thermometer -- might be time for a new one --, so at one point I made an executive decision that it was done.

And I was right.

I also thawed leftover cornbread dressing from this past Thanksgiving and from the Sunday back in February when I made a batch of dressing to go with the Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken I prepared.

Our dinner was awesome. Debbie made gravy. She steamed some broccoli. The cornbread dressing tasted even better than I remembered and the turkey was moist, rich, and full of flavor, thanks, I think, to the butter and to cooking it pretty slowly at 325.

3. Recently, I bought a bottle of Uncle Val's Botanical Gin. I enjoy Uncle Val's without any mix, but the only mix I had tried was tonic water. While preparing the turkey and dressing, I decided to stir myself an dry martini, up, with almond stuffed green olives, using Uncle Val's. It wasn't bad. But, given a choice between a martini mixed with Tanqueray or Uncle Val's, I'll go with Tanqueray every time. In fact, I think today I drank my last Uncle Val's dry martini.

Here's a limerick from Stu:

Now let us consider your name.
You can thank Mom and Dad or can blame.
After Granny or Hero,
Your input was zero.
But, it's what you are called just the same.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/26/20: Getting Stronger, Zoom Time, Growing Older BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1.  As I reached the picnic table at what I consider the end of the Wellness Trail, I thought the time might be drawing closer to continue on the trail that goes beyond the Wellness Trail and heads rather steeply on up the hill where, eventually, I can head east and get on an old road that comes out in Vergobbi/Italian Gulch. I think some time in early May I'll have enough strength and wind built up to give that hike a try.

2. For two and half hours this afternoon, I was on Zoom with Bill, Diane, Colette, Bridgit, and Val. We covered a lot of ground and felt a lot feelings together. Colette and Bridgit read superb poems they've written. Bill performed a song he recently wrote. We talked about what we are experiencing and what we've observed in the last several weeks of the pandemic. Family histories, family difficulties, past and present, came up. These stories gave rise to the sharing of emotion, compassion, and valuable insight.

3. At Whitworth, Bill, Colette, Bridgit, and Val were students of mine roughly forty years ago. I met Diane about ten years ago, a couple of years after she and Bill got married. As we all talked today, it was hard for me to believe that I had been their teacher. Now all of us are in our late fifties or in our sixties. About forty years ago, I was the talk talk talk teacher guy, trying to guide these friends to have a good experience with Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, George Eliot, and a host of other writers and trying to help them write better. Today I marveled at all that we've experienced over the years, all the knowledge and wisdom we have accrued collectively, how the teacher/student relationship is gone, and we have become mature adult friends. I was fairly quiet and enjoyed listening to all of the stories, ideas, insights, reassurances, reflections, and creations that circulated between us. I am most grateful that we are going to do our best to continue these conversations every couple of weeks.

Here's another limerick by Stu.

Whether football, or golf, maybe skating?
Baseball, rugby, horseshoe or fish baiting.
Soccer, bowling or tennis,
This virus's a menace
And not watching nor playing we're hating.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/25/20: A New Vista, *New York*, Recent and Early TV BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. We have a vigorous rose bush growing near the fence between our back yard and Christy and Everett's. Paul came over today and trimmed it way back and we can see for miles and miles and miles and miles.

2. I've spent time recently reading and watching the movie, The Age of Innocence, prompting me to go back to the third episode of Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film and rewatch its treatment of the Gilded Age in New York City. The focus of this episode is on the great disparity between wealth and poverty in New York City in the latter decades of the 19th century. In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton doesn't write a single syllable about the poor in New York, but watching Ric Burns' film makes the division between the rich and the indigent agonizingly clear. Political corruption was tied directly to this disparity and Burns tell this story, too, with special emphasis on Tammany Hall and the rise and fall of "Boss" Tweed.

3. Debbie and I settled into a solid stretch of television watching this afternoon and on into the evening. We watched Chrisopher Foyle get to the bottom of another corrupt wartime money-making scheme in the Episode 1 of Season 4. It was another superb story.

Later, we lightened up our viewing. I put on an episode of What's My Line?. It was awesome, especially the unforgettable Stopette commercial featuring a mime dancer, through interpretive dance, expressing the efficacy of this (evidently) top of the line antiperspirant deodorant. Pure dada.

Then we watched an episode of Video Village. More dada. It's hard to say what in the program was the most surreal. I'll put my money on Monty Hall and the hostess, Eileen Barton, singing "The Village Bus Song" as they transported the contestants on a golf cart from the end of the Magic Mile back to the where their journey on the Video Village board had started.

If you'd like, you can watch this landmark episode. It was the 500th show of Video Village's run and it's available right here.

We ended our evening by diving into Ken Burns' multi-part documentary, The Roosevelts. We only made it through forty-five minutes of the opening episode due to sleepiness, but we both enjoyed what we saw and look forward to picking it up again.

For me, this episode brought me back to where my day of television viewing had begun. Both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt were born during the period of time covered in the episode of New York I watched this morning. Although born into the same social stratum as the characters in The Age of Innocence and raised in a social world that viewed public service as beneath the station of the wealthy, I look forward to learning how the Roosevelts broke with the norms of their social class, entered the world of politics, and to what degree they confronted the dark realities and suffering of the Gilded Age and its aftermath and, later, the Great Depression. 

Here's another limerick from Stu:

It's said that some drink when they're bored.
When quarantied not doubled it's FOURED!
So, it's wine, spirits, or beer,
Good thing outlets are near.
So essential rules won't be ignored.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/20: Shakespeare Hikes with Me, Driving Up the River, Green Curry and Foyle BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. On Thursday, I didn't trust the weather, the intermittent showers and occasional downpours. I didn't scale Mt. Wellness. Today, however, was a bright, bright sunshiny day. I made fewer stops to catch my breath going up the trail. My legs felt a bit stronger. I thought a lot about all I've learned about life from my long relationship with the works of William Shakespeare, especially about all the different ways time moves and the variety of ways we measure time.

2. I returned to the Sube. I'd just filled the gas tank. I decided to take a drive up the North Fork and see what the snow pack looked like in the parking area at the Coal Creek trail head. The spring runoff has swollen the river. I don't know how much more it will rise. As I drove by the trail head, I saw the snow was nearly gone, but the parking area looked muddy. I didn't turn in. I'll wait until the mud dries. I'll cruise up there again next week and check it out again.

3. I popped open a container of green curry paste today, combined it with coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar and poured this sauce over chopped onion, russet potatoes, broccoli florets, and sweet red peppers. I brought it to a boil (a more vigorous boil than I had planned) and then slow cooked this curry. Debbie made a batch of rice. The curry was really good -- not overwhelmingly spicy. The moderate heat allowed the other flavors of the curry paste to come forward, enhanced by the balance of salty and sweet that I added.

We watched Christopher Foyle investigate a murder at a farm house near Hastings. In the course of his inquiry, Foyle unearthed deep secrets about life on this farm and provided comfort to a woman deeply injured by the losses she'd suffered over the years. Samantha put on rough clothes and helped with the farm's potato crop. Foyle solved the murder.

In this limerick, Stu recalls cruising the gut in Kellogg:

It's a trip that was short to be clear.
Up "Hill" as McKinley was near.
Take a right, go up Main,
Circle back in car train.
Never need to get out of first gear.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/20: Business Done, Scorsese's *The Age of Innocence*, Costco Delivery and a New Martini BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. As I'm prone to do, because I don't like doing business over the telephone, I've been putting off a certain financial matter. I tried to take care of it using email, but didn't get a response. I probably sent the email to the wrong part of the company (oh well...). Today, I made the phone call, got the information I needed, wrote out a check, and it's in the mail.

I feel lighter, both in spirit and, ha!, my checkbook!

2. Having read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence recently, I decided to watch the movie this afternoon. I went to it in Portland back in 1993 the first night it was released. I remembered it being visually lush and I remembered enjoying Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer. Today, the smaller screen of our television reduced the movie's visual beauty but the social critique imbedded in Wharton's novel was intact as the movie explored how people in this 1870s world of wealth in New York City spend much of their time doing very little. They pay visits. They have dinners. They live by entrenched social codes and gossip about how others are conforming to these codes or are violating them.

There's almost no action - oh, characters dance at a ball, they ride in carriages, and Newman Archer and Countess Oleska steal some brief moments of awkward passion. But, I experienced the movie as an exploration of boredom.  I thought the movie brought its viewers into the experience of lives full of luxuries, but otherwise bored out, emptied out. To me, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Archer's arrested development and immature fantasizing perfectly; likewise, Michelle Pfeiffer brilliantly embodies the more world-worn, insightful, and unmoored life of Countess Oleska.

When I read The Age of Innocence, I disliked Newman Archer and I think Edith Wharton invited me to feel this way. I mean, Newman Archer is not villainous. He's not despicable. He's not interesting enough to be either. He's smug, whiny, uninteresting, naive, immature, and untouched by his travels and the books he's read; in short, he's a cipher. Daniel Day-Lewis manages to portray all of this. Some have thought his performance was flat; I thought Newman Archer was flat and that consistently playing his flatness required great skill.

3. Paul and Carol (and maybe Zoe...not sure) went to Costco and Fred Meyer today and generously offered to pick things up for Christy and Debbie and me. Paul delivered the goods to our porch. It made me very happy to now have a good stock of salmon burgers, shrimp, Kalamata olives, salad greens, broccoli, coffee, feta cheese, sparkling mineral water, eggplant, and oatmeal.

Debbie makes the best green salads and, tonight, after a dinner featuring one of her masterpieces along with salmon and red rice, I decided to try a dirty martini made with Kalamata olive brine and garnished with Kalamata olives. All I've ever drunk before was green olive brine and olives. Guess what? The Kalamata brine and the black olives worked for me. Next up? I'm going to look for pickled onions and see what I think of a Gibson.

Today, Stu reminds us that NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990:

It is wise to not borrow trouble.
Stay safe, not errors redouble.
But if bold efforts not tried,
Those who said "no" been defied.
Most likely they'd never launched Hubble.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/20: Good Hike, Post Office and Transplant Update, Bill Davie on YouTube BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. The trail called to me this morning and I answered. Was there a spring in my step? Did I fly up the trail to the picnic table? Hmmm. Not really. I trudged up the trail, rested a few times when I got winded, and got way off the trail to give a woman, the baby strapped to her chest, and her dog plenty of room to pass by as she descended while I ascended the trail. My wind isn't great -- it never is that great -- but my legs felt stronger. It was a good hike.

2. I strapped on my mask and headed to the Post Office. The usually laconic guy at the counter was loquacious today, asked me how I was holding up, and told me how grateful he was for the plastic protection between him and his customers. A few weeks ago, before the protection was installed, a customer coughed on him and he was out eight days with a respiratory infection. Fortunately, it wasn't the Covid 19 virus and he's doing fine now.

Speaking of Covid 19, I got a call from my transplant nurse today and the Sacred Heart transplant program is going to slowly, cautiously get back underway. Now that Debbie is back in Kellogg and can serve as the primary support person I need should I be transplanted, I consented to being returned to the active transplant list again. I see the kidney doctor on May 6th, so I'll have blood work done next week and I can find out from the doc how things are going inside me. I continue to feel really good. I probably should knock on wood, but I'm not experiencing any of the symptoms of kidney disease and am grateful every day that this continues to be the case.

3. As I was bouncing around the World Wide Web today, I discovered that Bill Davie edited his Tuesday night live performance and posted it on YouTube. He was able to make what had been two videos of his performance into a single one and it looks and sounds terrific. If you'd like to see it, it is right here.

Here's a limerick from Stu:

So, it's true that pie's baked in a pan.
Freshly made or poured out from a can.
But to correctly espouse,
This "nut" pie in your house.
Does it rhyme with an "ON" or an "AN"?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/20: Health and Wellness Trail, Talkin' with Paul, Bill Davie Live! BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. It finally came back to me today. I don't do well scaling Mt. Health and Wellness behind the hospital after I've eaten mush or scrambled eggs or anything else for breakfast and do much better if I gather up my helmet, harness, ice screws, Prusik cord, carabiners, and other gear and crawl up the hill before breakfast.

So I did that today. I scaled the hill. Before breakfast.

Last year's approach came back to me today.

Time to get back into that rhythm.

2. I was trying to think when I last talked with Paul Richter (KHS '70). We played baseball, golf, and basketball together when I was in junior high and high school. I think Mom was his second grade teacher. My (faulty) memory recalls last talking to him at the, I'll say, 1978 (or was it 1979?) Memorial Day weekend golf tournament at the Pinehurst golf course. We had both completed our rounds and our conversation was about the NBA Finals. We were both excited about the Seattle SuperSonics appearing in the finals and talked about that. I haven't seen Paul in person since.

We had a terrific conversation on the phone today. We covered a lot of ground, talking about the present as well as catching each other up on challenges we've faced over the years with our health and other things.

I don't know if the local golf course will hold the annual Memorial Day tournament this year. Originally, Paul was going to come over to play and we would have seen each other again, back on the old golf course -- him as a player, me as a spectator these days. Wisely, whether or not the golf course holds the tournament, he's staying put, lying low, not taking unnecessary risks. He lives in an area that's been hard hit with Covid 19 cases. He won't risk bringing the virus into the Silver Valley.

3. After enjoying a couple dirty martinis on the back deck while visiting, at safe distance apart, with Debbie and Christy, I returned to the house to listen to Bill Davie perform live again on Facebook.

Technologically speaking, it was a glitchy sixty minutes.

I couldn't tell if I was having rural Kellogg internet problems or if Bill was having problems on his end -- or both.

After a while, disappointed, I surrendered, gave up the ghost;  this morning (Wednesday), however, before writing this blog post, I went onto Bill's Facebook page and found two videos and listened to everything that was posted from last night and enjoyed his performance completely!

I don't experience many silver linings in this time of pandemic, but the fact that Bill Davie wants to perform, can't do it in front of a live audience, and so broadcasts himself over the internet means that that I've heard him perform more this month than in the last twenty some odd years combined. Bill says it's good therapy for him. It's renewing for me.

Hearing Bill perform animates me, touches my feelings, and gives me great joy.

Here's today's limerick from Stu:

Cousins are hard to explain.
To understand puts a tax on your brain.
First or Second is clear,
Further down requires beer.
And when you talk of "Removed" it's insane.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/20: Convoluted Bill Paying!, Lentil Soup/Stew, Foyle and Country Music BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. It wasn't a big deal. I tried for four days to pay a bill online, one that I pay this way every month. No luck. Four days of a repeated error message. Okay. Be patient. Try another route.  I printed out the bill, wrote a check, included a letter of explanation, and mailed it in. After nearly two weeks the check hadn't cleared, so I called the company today and found out that because things at the collections department have been slowed down by the realities of the pandemic, it's likely no one had tended to my payment yet. I said to the agent, "I understand".  Internet service has been spotty at home lately, but after a few attempts, I was able to stop payment on the check. I was ready to call in a payment, but decided to give paying online one more try. It worked! The bill is paid. The check is canceled. I started this week with three pieces of home business to take care of. I like to take care of these things like this by doing one a day. One down. Two to go.

2. I thawed the last two quarts of ham stock I made back in August. While it thawed, I chopped up onion and celery and sauteed the pieces in the Dutch oven and, when soft, added in a couple or three cloves of chopped garlic cloves. I poured the thawed stock over these aromatics and added three yams chopped, a handful or so of mushrooms, some chopped cabbage, and a couple of cups of dried lentils. I brought this soup/stew to a slight boil, turned down the heat, and let it slow cook for over an hour until the lentil were soft.

I was cooking on a wing and prayer, hoping this combination would work well together.

It did.

The lentils and mushrooms gave the soup/stew an earthy quality. The ham stock made it subtly, mildly salty. The yams sweetened the soup. Debbie and I both enjoyed it a lot and, after dinner, I put almost two quarts of leftover soup/stew in the icebox for future enjoyment.

3. Tonight Debbie and I watched Episode 3 of the Season 3 of Foyle's War. To date, this was the most complex episode of this show I've seen. When it ended, Debbie exclaimed, "Whew! That was like The Wire! Only different." Yes, it was. It was like The Wire in the way it so deftly treated a variety of human experiences: the physical and mental costs of war, adultery, grace and understanding, leniency, domestic battery, the bearing and revealing of secrets and lies, revenge, love between father and son, and others. These matters between and within characters all arose in the course of Foyle and Milner's investigations of sabotage at a newly formed burn hospital treating RAF pilots and of a murder. It was unlike The Wire in tone, how characters talk to each other, what they are involved in and, of course, in setting. Hastings, England in 1941 is vastly different than Baltimore in the 1990s!

Upon its completion, even though it was getting a little bit late, Debbie and I wanted to continue our party.

Some poking around I'd done earlier in the day revealed that Ken Burns' documentary project examining the history of country music was available on the tv's PBS app.

Dan had told me he enjoyed Ken Burns' Country Music a lot and I'd read other praise of it elsewhere on social media.

We got about an hour or so into the first episode and I loved both its exploration of the origins of country music in the USA and the short interviews with country musicians of the 20th and 21st century like Dolly Parton, Kathy Mattea, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and others. Not only did I enjoy learning about how musical traditions that traveled from Europe and Africa combined to create country music, I also enjoyed learning about how early phonograph records and the early growth of radio helped boost country music's popularity.

It's possible you might need to look up a vocabulary word in the limerick Stu wrote for today. (I know I did!):

So here is a question to ponder.
If weather be dark when you wander.
Is "gloomy the word,
Or should "dreary" be heard?
And your answer should not cause to maunder.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/20: Huffing and Puffing, Party with W. Cronkite, A Fun TV Night BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Last summer, when I first hiked beyond the picnic table on the Health and Wellness Trail, trekked into Revett Lake, and trudged to the end of the Pulaski Trail, I moved slowly, got easily winded, and had to rest on the trail a lot. Today I hiked the Health and Wellness Trail and, after a winter and early spring of being too sedentary, I'm in lousy shape again. I huffed and puffed my way to the picnic table today and hope to get stronger with more hikes -- but, I sure enjoyed being on the trail.

2. Debbie and I got a good party underway late this afternoon. I fixed Debbie a renewable Manhattan and I fixed myself a couple of martinis, the second one dirty. I'd been wondering if past episodes of the CBS news program, The Twentieth Century, were available anywhere. I put YouTube on the television and, with a little searching, found an episode from 1966. As part of the program's "Man of the Month" series, The Twentieth Century (hosted by Walter Cronkite) presented a half an hour profile of Ho Chi Minh. Having just watched  The Quiet American and the first episode of Ken Burns' Vietnam, which focused much attention on Ho, this profile was a perfect way to get the story of post-World War II Vietnam more firmly lodged in our memories.

3. Debbie made an awesome kale salad for dinner. I dove into our television's PBS app and we looked at titles from the American Experience series. We had never heard of Alfred Loomis. He made a ton of money as a young man, bought a Tuxedo Lake mansion, and built himself a world class scientific laboratory where he could live out his passion for science and invention and became a world-renowned figure, especially in developing technologies in support of the U.S.A.'s war effort in the 1940s.

The program is titled, "The Secret of Tuxedo Park". We watched it and found it fascinating.

We switched gears and watched another episode of Foyle's War as Christopher Foyle navigated the choppy waters of tensions between divisions of the Britain's intelligence efforts.

We ended the night watching Stacy Keach, as Mike Hammer, get to the bottom of the murder of a cop. It was the first episode of 1997's syndicated, short-lived tv program, Mike Hammer, Private Eye.   
I enjoyed Foyle's War much much more than Mike Hammer, Private Eye; two very different programs with two very different sensibilities, but both featuring top notch actors, Michael Kitchen and Stacy Keach.

Stu offers a limerick looking at Kellogg's good neighbor, Smelterville:

We all know to party is fun.
And Smelterville knew how it's done.
Derby action, cars wreck,
Rodeo time what the heck?
And bars still open at rise of the sun.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/20: Walking to Avista, Dump Run, Yellow Shrimp Curry BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Often times -- and this is a flaw of mine -- to get myself out walking the streets of Kellogg, I need a task. Well, our gas/electric bill arrived and I decided to walk it over to the drop box at the local Avista office and then stop off at the liquor store and buy a fifth of George Dickel Rye. The walk felt really good and I welcomed breaking the inertia I've let myself succumb to while staying inside so much.

2. I have a semi-obsession with keeping our garage uncluttered so that a few things can be stored in it and there's always room for the Sube. Our cardboard box collection was starting to increase a bit and so I put them in the back of the Sube and headed out to the dump/transfer station to toss them in the cardboard recycling bin. Things were easy at the dump. I was one of three people getting rid of stuff. I was in and out in well under five minutes. It was a satisfying little trip.

3. I got out the Dutch oven, covered the bottom with an onion chopped up. In a bowl, I mixed two cans of coconut milk, two tablespoons of yellow curry paste, and two overflowing tablespoons each of soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar. I poured this curry mixture over the onions, brought it to a slight boil, turned the heat way down, and let it slow cook until the onions were about tender.

I also made a pot of basmati rice.

After a while, I dumped frozen green beans into the curry and a little later put in a handful or so of thawed out pre-cooked shrimp. Once the green beans and shrimp were warmed through, Debbie and I were ready to pour the curry over rice and we agreed: it was really good. I was happy that the curry sauce was such a tasty blend of sweet, salty, and spicy -- these tastes were almost in balance. It's that good blend I always try to achieve.  One thing was missing: I didn't have cilantro on hand. So it goes...

April 19th is Garlic Day and Stu wrote a limerick:

Not everyone loves "stinking rose"!
Stinky breath, is just how it goes.
In food it is tasty,
Fights of vampires, skin pasty.
And is healthy as everyone knows!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/20: Too Comfortable?, Lawn Care Again, June of 1994 BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Today worried me just a little bit. I was just a little too comfortable sheltering in place, a little too willing to just sit around all day, working some puzzles, drinking coffee, enjoying a late evening martini, yakkin' with Debbie, eating leftover ham soup, watching some television, and just generally entertaining myself -- and finding it so easy! I've kind of always been this way, though, a little too content to hang out inside and lounge around.

2. I sauntered out to the kitchen around 4:00 and I saw a stranger in the back yard, a slight kid, probably middle school age. I popped out back and said, "Hi! What's up?" Turns out Ethan, who takes care of our lawn, hired him. "Great!" I replied. I hadn't seen Ethan's landscaping rig and trailer parked next door in front of Jane's, but, aha!, lawn care time has arrived. Once lawn season is underway, I never know when Ethan and his crew will pop up -- and, I kind of like that -- can't really explain why -- so it was business as usual that they popped up today unannounced.

Our yard looks a lot better after their visit.

3. Debbie decided to retire for the night before tonight's episode of Peter Gunn ended. I watched the episode's closing street gunfight in the show's unnamed wharf side town. Then, for about a half an hour, I watched a chunk of Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the Knicks and Pacers. I crapped out after a while, but it was fun watching those players, listening to Marv Albert, and remembering some of what was going on in my life in the uncertain days in early June of 1994.

Here's another one of Stu's limericks:

For sure it sees time now are hard.
Being told you should not leave your yard.
Inconvenient it's true,
But it's better for you.
Than when you cooked or cleaned using lard!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/20: Vietnam History, Leftovers, Old TV BONUS: Stu's Limerick

1. After watching The Quiet American last night, this morning I put on the first episode of Ken Burns' documentary, Vietnam. I wanted to remind myself of at least the broad outline of Vietnam's history with France and remind myself of how the USA slowly and surely got involved in Vietnam. It all came back to me.

2. We had some of Christy's delicious tomato sauce left over. Debbie stretched it with a can of diced tomatoes, added in some spinach, garbanzo beans, and roasted onion pieces and, served over rice, this was a very satisfying dinner bowl.

3. Debbie and I had a fun night watching television programming from our youth again. We watched an episode of Peter Gunn, a handful of episodes of the Dick Tracy cartoon show, and wrapped up the night with the first episode of The Real McCoys. We had a fun, relaxing party.

Here's the latest of Stu's limericks:

If you needed to chuck an old stump.
Smelly garbage or leaves in a clump.
Broken tables and chairs,
Maybe just to see bears.
It’s all there when you went to the Dump.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/20: 150 Crosswords Puzzles, *The Quiet American*, Goren and Eames BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. A few months back, I bought an omnibus containing 200 Wednesday New York Times crossword puzzles. Today, after completing a couple of them, I passed the 150 puzzle mark.

2. Late this afternoon, Debbie and I watched The Quiet American (2002), a film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel. It's a deft combination of a political-spy-journalism thriller and a love story set in Vietnam while the French were fighting the Communist insurgence there.  In the middle of it all is a British newspaper reporter, played brilliantly by Michael Caine. He befriends a newly arrived American played very effectively by Brandon Frazier. I really don't want to get into the details of the plot because I'd hate to spoil the pleasure of this movie's development. I will say, though, that over the years I've watched and written a bit about movies I think of as "dead man comes to life" stories. To me, The Quiet American fits this genre, while, at the same time, examining through the complexities of a love triangle, the international relations between Vietnam, France, and the USA in the period of time leading up to France's withdrawl from the region in 1954.

3. Instead of reaching back to television programming from our childhoods, tonight we reached back to the early 2000's and watched an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent as Goren and Eames worked to get to the bottom of a murder case involving a group of modern nomads called Irish Travelers.

Here's another limerick that Stu composed:

We all could use a good laugh.
Like mistakes when you're talking's a gaffe.
So imagine some guy,
Thinks he's so cool you will sigh.
Then he trips and his cool's cut in half.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/20: Six Minute Workout, Bill and Heidi and Bob LIVE!, Some More Old TV BONUS Stu's Limerick

1. Back in February, I came across videos for six minute workouts in the home, including explanations that this way of exercising can be beneficial. I gave it a try today and I agree. Two sets of jumping jacks, standing lunges, kneeling push ups, and plank, each set lasting thirty seconds, got my heart pumping, winded me a little bit, and helped me sleep better. The article offers three videos, three separate workouts, and I'll keep it bookmarked and return to it -- maybe more than once a day if I'm really feeling ambitious.

I don't know if you need a subscription to the New York Times to see this article and its videos. I'll post the link just in case you are interested and can get to it. It's here

2. Friendly ghosts from Whitworth, Eugene, Corvallis, Yachats, La Push, and Seattle and other places joined me in the Vizio room tonight as I watched and listened to a live performance by Bill Davie, performing in his residence in Seattle, and Heidi Muller with Bob Webb, performing from their residence near Joseph, OR.

Some of those ghosts were also in the virtual audience listening to Bill and Heidi and Bob -- Kathy and Loras, Jeff, Val, and Andrea to name a few.

Others flew in my room from all over the country as I remembered going with them to hear Bill perform, first in Spokane, and then around western Oregon, often with a group of friends from Eugene. Tonight those friends were all with me in spirit as I enjoyed Bill's performance. Invisible connections are powerful and I enjoyed feeling like the past had not melted away but was present and alive in my little room here in Kellogg.

I'd only heard Heidi Muller perform in person once, probably about 25-30 years ago, in Corvallis, but I heard her songs a lot on KLCC and listened to her CD Cassiopeia at home.

Heidi Muller and Bob Webb were scheduled to perform in Kellogg a few weeks ago, on March 22nd, at the St. Rita's Church fellowship hall as part of the Community Concert series.

It was postponed. Last night, after learning from a Facebook comment I made during the concert that I was from Kellogg, Heidi left me a comment saying that she and Bob are scheduled to play in Kellogg in September. I look forward to that assuming the pandemic has subsided by then.

Hearing Bill perform twice in the last two weeks, and knowing he'll be performing again online on Tuesday, April 21st, here's what makes me as happy as having the ghosts visit me: I'm thoroughly enjoying becoming familiar with Bill's latest songs.

I realize that these online performances are happening because of venues being closed and that Bill would rather be performing with his listeners physically present.

But, for me, having Bill's performances broadcast online means staying connected with his songs and with him as a performer in a way otherwise unavailable to me, unless I were to travel to Seattle. I am loving becoming familiar with songs I hadn't heard before, seeing how Bill has evolved as a performer, and being engaged again with his versatility as a songwriter and guitar player.

I can hardly wait to tune in again next week. For too long, I have lived exclusively in the past with Bill's songs. I will continue to do this. His songs open up some of my life's very sweetest memories. But now I can also live in the present with Bill's songs, join him in meditating upon aging, upon the nature of love now that we are in our sixties, and upon that favorite of Bill's subjects: the eternal mystery of things.

3. With Bill and Heidi and Bob's concert having come to an end, I joined Debbie in the living room and we decided to watch some more television programming from the days of our youth.

Debbie didn't watch Green Acres much when she was a kid. I remember it being funnier than I'm finding it right now. I'm wondering if the show got off to kind of a slow start in the early episodes. In my memory, what made Green Acres really funny were the townspeople of Hooterville and, in these early episodes, they haven't played as prominently in the stories as maybe they will later.

We watched two episodes of Green Acres and closed out the night with a Dick Van Dyke episode focused on Sally's ongoing mission to find a husband. Is the show suggesting that a talented, hilarious, intelligent, and slightly caustic woman has no chance finding a man interested in her? Or is the show suggesting that men are dumbbells because Sally's intelligence, somewhat caustic wit, and talent scares them off? Personally, I think the scared men are dopes.

April 15th is Jackie Robinson Day and here's Stu's limerick for today:

No one can compare with this guy.
His toughness you cannot deny.
He changed everyone's mind,
Left prejudice behind.
And made the world better, no lie!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/20: Errands, Enjoying Christy's Sauce, Old TV Again BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I strapped on my mask and ventured out into the city today for a short while. I popped over to the recycling bins behind the Gondolier and dropped off some cans and plastic bottles, dropped a book into the outdoor bin at the library, and picked up some groceries at Yoke's. When sheltering in place began here in Idaho, a remodeling job had just begun at Yoke's. It's continued. The store looks a little better every week. I also made a quick stop at the liquor store to buy a fifth of E & J Brandy and a small bottle of Jagermeister. Ouzo isn't available in Kellogg and I'm looking for a something sort of similar. I've never tried Jagermeister and decided to give it a try.

2. Christy has been mining her freezer lately and she unearthed tomatoes and zucchini and decided to slow cook batches of garden tomato sauce. She gave us a jar and tonight Debbie combined Christy's sauce with bits of the meatloaft left over from last night and served it over penne pasta. I loved it, especially the way the pieces of meatloaf worked like meatballs in the sauce.

3.  While watching episodes of Green Acres, The Munsters, and The Andy Griffith tonight, I also broke open that little bottle of Jagermeister. My small hits from the bottle were all right, but I cannot and I will not think of it as a substitute for Ouzo. No problem. I'll look into this more and see if I can find something that is similar and see if it's available around here, and, when I feel okay about doing it and go to Total Wine again, I'll stock up a bit on Ouzo.

My favorite feature of the television shows from 50-65 years ago involves music and dance performances within some of the different shows. One of the episodes of Andy Griffith we watched tonight featured a character named Rafe Hollister, played by Jack Prince, who is an exquisite vocalist and wins an audition to sing at the Mayberry musicale. He wins the audition over Barney Fife. The judges stop Barney's audition halfway through his song, an occurrence that mercifully happens offstage. We get to hear Rafe Hollister sing three songs in this episode and it's sublime.

Here's another limerick by Stu:

What new could be said about beer?
We know "It's the Water" so clear.
"Refreshing" or "King",
"We've got the beer" people sing.
"Mountain Fresh", I don't care, bring some here.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/20: Memories and "Survive and Advance", Meatloaf Dinner, TV Night BONUS: Stu's Limerick

1. Today, my mind wandered back to 1983. I wish I'd been keeping some kind of record of things back then, so I have to trust my memory. I know that when Easter rolled around on April 3, 1983, spring break at Whitworth was coming to an end. I seem to remember that I took the Greyhound to Seattle during that break, but I'm not sure when I returned to Spokane nor can I remember if I came to Kellogg for Easter Day.

But two memorable things happened that weekend and were on my mind on Easter Day today. First, on the bus ride home from Seattle, I read Adrienne Rich's collection of essays, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, a book that rattled many assumptions I had about human nature and the universality of experience and had (and has had) a lasting impact on my understanding of and conversations with women writers, philosophers, colleagues, students, and friends over the next thirty-five years or so.  It's one of those books that so challenged my thinking, and, in doing so, excited me, that I'll always remember where I was when I read it.

The other memorable event that Easter weekend happened on Easter Monday. I was back in Spokane, in my apartment, and I watched the NCAA tournament men's championship final between North Carolina State and Houston. 

Like a sizable majority of basketball fans across the country, I expected Houston to dominate this game and win easily, but that's not what happened at all. In many people's assessment, NC State's 54-52 victory was, and remains, the biggest upset in the tournament's history. Just for the record, I can't decide which upset I think was the most astonishing: Texas Western's defeat of Kentucky in 1966, NC State's victory in 1983, or Villanova's defeat of Georgetown in 1985. I don't think I'll ever figure it out.

Well, since that 1983 game happened on Easter Monday, I decided that on Easter Day today I'd watch the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that told the story of that 1983 NC State team and their coach, Jim Valvano. It was entitled, "Survive and Advance".

From the opening of this movie, I was either near tears or in tears. The set up was perfect. The living members of that team sat around a long table, in 2013, thirty years after their improbable championship, and swapped tales. Coach Jim Valvano had died of cancer twenty years earlier, at 47 years old, ten years after their championship. This documentary was both a memoir of the basketball games that comprised their miracle run to the championship and a tribute to the imagination, love, and irrepressible spirit of Coach Jim Valvano.

From beginning to end, I loved this movie. I loved the scenes from around the table. I loved the interviews with the players gave away from the reunion. The movie was stocked with filmed highlights of many games throughout the 1982-83 season, including their most improbable capturing of the Atlantic Coast Conference season's end tournament and their march to the NCAA championship. I loved the clips of Jim Valvano, interviews he gave, speeches he gave, including his famous ESPY speech, given less than two months before he died.

I loved watching this movie on Easter Day. NC State had been given up for dead countless times in 1982-83 season. Watch the movie and you'll see for yourself. But, in the spirit of Coach Valvano's famous words, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." and in the spirit of the way we always live in the company of countless resurrections around us all the time, the NC State Wolfpack arose from the dead and one of the great stories in all of sports unfolded.

2. I knew we had some ground beef in the freezer and I asked Debbie if she'd made a meatloaf dinner today. Debbie's meatloaf dinners bring to mind a day in August of 1998 as Debbie, Molly, Patrick, and I were making our way across the USA in Debbie's maroon Toyota van on our way to visit Debbie's mom in North Carolina. On this particular day, we arrived in Blue Springs, Missouri around 9:00 or so. We drove that day over 600 miles from Denver. We had a room reserved at a Motel 6 and it was close to a Bob Evans restaurant. We piled out of the van to go eat and we were nearly suffocated by the thick Missouri humidity.

I'd never eaten at a Bob Evans before. Tired, hot, in need of sustenance and refreshment, I ordered the meatloaf dinner. It included a potato and canned green beans. I also ordered a Coca Cola with lemon. I swear, I've never enjoyed a meal more.

I enjoyed that meatloaf dinner at Bob Evans so completely that I began to request it for my birthday dinners over the years and Debbie complied by fixing meatloaves that were far better than what I ate that sultry August night.

Over the past several years, Debbie and I have not been together on my December 27th birthday often. We were together on 12-27-2019, but I wanted a lighter dinner and we had a cheese and salami and wine meal, not meatloaf.

But, on this Easter Sunday, as if it were my birthday and as a way of recalling that night in Missouri, I asked Debbie to make a meatloaf dinner with canned green beans. Debbie also made roasted potatoes and I had some mini Cokes and a lemon on hand and so Debbie resurrected this most perfect of all meals and I loved it.

3. After letting this dinner digest by working crossword puzzles in the Vizio room, I brought the tv out to the living room and Debbie recommended we watch some more Peter Gunn.

So we did.

We drank small pours of George Dickel Rye Whiskey and experimented with shaking drops of orange and, later, angostura bitters in our rye.

We marveled at the light and shadows of the cineamatography of Peter Gunn and at its commitment to jazz music.

Then we switched gears.

We watched the first three episodes of Family Affair and learned how Buffy, Jody, and Cissy came to live with Uncle Bill and Mr. French and then enjoyed the episode when Buffy and Jody buy their Uncle Bill a horse. (No, really!)

I saw Family Affair with adult eyes tonight. Back in junior high and early high school, the few times I ever watched this show, I never realized that it was a story of amazing grace -- Buffy, Jody, and Cissy once were lost and now were found. Moreover, I didn't think much about how these three kids contributed to a transformation of the inward lives of Uncle Bill and Mr. French.

I was touched.

Debbie and I were on a roll.

We'd watched the origin story of Family Affair and decided to take a look at the first episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Here again, I was in for a new experience -- as a kid, I hadn't paid much attention to Rose Marie as an actor, singer, dancer, and comedian on this show. She was awesome. I think her appearances on Hollywood Squares dulled my appreciation of what a splendid and versatile performer she was. We watched the first two episodes of season one.

It was past midnight by now, but what did we have to do tomorrow? No need to hit the hay just yet.

So, one more origin story.

The Andy Griffith Show.

The creators of the first episode of the first season built the initial story around the arrival of Aunt Bee and Opie's resistance to having her take the place of the former housekeeper, Rose.

It actually paralleled Episode 2 of Family Affair. In it, Mr. French packs his bags and takes leave of Uncle Bill and the kids, but returns -- I won't spoil why he does. Likewise, Aunt Bee comes to believe that she will never win over Opie and is all but out the door when suddenly she's persuaded to stay.

After our mini-marathon of past television shows and small pours of rye, it was past 1:00 a.m. and we decided this fun couldn't last all night and we each turned in.

April 13th is National Scrabble Day and Stu has written a limerick for the occasion:

There's only one vowel picked at first.
Then a "q" and an "x", you are cursed.
Best think of words quick,
To get new letters to pick.
Or end with a score that is worst.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/20: Ham Soup, Easter Carolers, Mike Wallace and Vera BONUS: A Limerick by Stu

1. In early August of 2019, I joined friends up the river for our Still Alive at 65 birthday party. On Saturday, we all brought food for a potluck. I prepared a bone-in ham and took slices to the party. I made ham stock the week after the party. Today, I brought two quarts of that stock up from the freezer, thawed a couple of ham hocks, chopped an onion, some celery, and about four carrots, opened and drained a couple cans of white beans, combined it all in the crock pot and slow cooked Debbie and me a ham and white bean soup.

That ham stock was perfect and provided the foundation for a delicious soup. Oh, I might have added another can of beans and possibly made the soup a little thicker by mashing some beans, but no matter. The soup tasted great. It was, to me, a great comfort.  It made me want to buy another small bone-in ham one day, not so much for the ham, but for the stock I could make from it.

2. Carol, Paul, Zoe, and Jason piled in Mom's old Malibu and drove around the area, rapped on doors of friends, family, and people from Carol and Paul's church, and sang Easter carols and delivered a bag of cookies. They arrived at our house in the middle of the afternoon and, at at time I'm feeling a hole in my life because I live in a town and a valley where there's no Episcopal Church. I know that even if there were one here, the church would be closed -- no in person Easter Vigil, no flowering of the cross, no Easter Sunday Eucharist. So, hearing the hymns they sang moved me. I enjoyed Debbie grabbing her ukulele and accompanying the Roberts in singing "This Little Light of Mine".  The cookies were really good, too, especially with a little brandy.

Carol figured they'd been to about fifteen houses before coming to our house and then visiting Christy and Everett.

Easter is my favorite holiday for many reasons, the main one being that, to me, it's the high point in the church calendar. Worship during Lent, Holy Week, and on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are, again, for me, the main focus of the season and the holiday. Especially in my adulthood, Easter has been the quietest holiday, involved the fewest distractions from experiencing its spiritual significance, and has afforded me, over the years, hours of contemplation, prayer, and gratitude, not only through worship, but out in nature where I've enjoyed the resurrected life of flowers and other other growing things returning after the cold and darkness of winter.

While gladly sheltering in place this Sunday, my experience with Easter will be even more solitary and private than usual. I'll figure out ways to create a meaningful Easter Day. Right now, I'm remembering the years when I was single, living in Eugene, worshiped at St. Mary's, and then drove up to Hendricks Park, found a bench among the rhododendrons and sat quietly, enjoyed the happiness of others walking through the gardens, and was still. I can experience within our home and within myself today what I might normally experience out in the world by remembering, imagining, and envisioning new life and the many resurrections we live with daily.

3. Debbie and I had a good time late this afternoon watching the documentary movie, Mike Wallace is Here, a movie reviewing Wallace's career in television and how he came to be one of the most hard-hitting interviewers in the news media. I not only enjoyed learning more about Mike Wallace himself, but I also enjoyed revisiting so many of the events and people who have shaped the years of my lifetime. I didn't enjoy revisiting these events because they were pleasant. I enjoyed seeing them from the perspective of being in my sixties, of remembering what I was doing and how I experienced these things when I was younger. In a way, in made me think, yet again, that, in a way, there's no such things as the past. Everything keeps on happening in an ever expanding present. History doesn't repeat itself. It keeps living. We are what we were.

I topped off the evening by watching another episode from the first season of Vera. For me, the pleasure of watching episodes of Vera rarely comes from her solving the case at hand and finding out who committed the crimes. No, I love, first of all, the brilliant character actors who work in these episodes, not just the recurring characters of the Northumberland police force, but the actors playing the onetime roles of the different characters Vera confronts and interrogates in the course of her investigations. The stories of these characters emerge.

In tonight's episode there was a bereaved mother whose very young son went missing and has never been found. We meet two male characters estranged from their families. One of the men is suddenly thrust into the role of caretaker for his infirm father, with whom he shares a bitter past.  The episode features an environmental surveyor who enters into a potentially compromising love affair as well as an estranged daughter and a second bereaved mother suffering from grief and depression. Each of the actors playing these roles completely occupies the characters and it's these characters and each episode's various subplots and explorations of secondary characters that arrest my attention and rouse my feeling. Likewise, tensions surface between Vera and her subordinates in the police force. Vera and the other detectives struggle with personal difficulties within themselves. Combined, these stories that are concurrent with the criminal investigation and the way they are presented makes the show Vera one I love to return to regularly.

Here's Stu's limerick for, well, you'll see:

Young girls wore white glove with their dress.
Boys' hair combed not usual mess.
Then to Church or with fam,
Sit down meal with ham.
A Celebration of what? You can guess!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/20: *Regarding Susan Sontag*, Rice Bowls, *Vera* and *Peter Gunn* BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I've been putting some titles of documentaries about music, musicians, and writers on my FireTV watch list. I had promised myself that today I'd watch the movie Regarding Susan Sontag. The movie chronicles the entire span of Sontag's life, dividing its focus between, on the one hand, looking at Sontag's novels, essays, and books, her film making, and, on the other, reporting on her love relationships over the years with men and women. While aware of Sontag's fame, I came to this movie not knowing much about her ideas and this film helped me understand her writings on, among other things, pop culture, photography, her political viewpoints, her insights into illness and mortality, and her sense of what she understood her role as a writer to be, especially in relation to society and as a cultural critic. Among the many pleasures of this movie was listening to the voice of Patricia Clarkson. Clarkson provided readings of those passages for which no recordings exist of Sontag reading them herself. Clarkson's work was brilliant.

2. It got to be around dinner time. I told Debbie that whatever we were having for dinner, it would involve rice. Debbie recommended I make shrimp with green beans. Talk about great minds. I was thinking the very same thing. As I started thawing the pre-cooked shrimp and preparing the frozen green beans, seasoning them with garlic powder, I suddenly thought that I'd like to top this rice bowl of shrimp and green beans with toasted sesame seeds. Debbie liked the idea, too, so I prepared the sesame seeds, finished warming up the shrimp and green beans, and we each enjoyed a tasty rice bowl. I enhanced mine with Bragg's Liquid Aminos, a very good decision. 

3. After watching some news programming, we switched gears and went back to the first season of Vera. Although Debbie had seen it, she agreed to watch the season's second episode again. In it, Vera revives an eleven year old murder case, suspecting that the wrong person was imprisoned for it. It was a good story, but of special note to me was the way, in this early episode, Vera is portrayed as prone to temper outbursts and is, to say the least, prickly with her subordinates, yelling at them sometimes in moments of frustration and impatience. I began watching Vera in a much later season -- 10 or 11 -- and while Vera is, in these later episodes, sarcastic, fiery, demanding, blunt, and always brilliant, it's as if the years had worn off some of the sharper edges of her character. Over the next weeks and months, I'll keep coming back to Vera and I'll be particularly interested in watching the development of her character and see if I'm right that as she ages she mellows a bit.

It was past 10:30, I think, when Vera wrapped up. I thought Debbie was going to go to bed, but she lingered for a while. I started doing one of my favorite things -- clicking around the endless offerings available on FireTV and looking at trailers for different movies and documentaries.

While I was FireTV surfing, Debbie said she'd like to watch a short tv episode of something -- in the spirit of what we did a while back when we watched early episodes of Bewitched. Her eye caught an image and abruptly she said, "How about Peter Gunn?"

My adrenaline surged.

I clicked on Peter Gunn with these few words, "Remember its great theme song?"

I was a too young to watch Peter Gunn when it aired from 1958-61, but over the years I'd read this and that about its atmosphere, the writing, and the way it was filmed. Our viewing tonight confirmed that the atmosphere and the way the show was shot was all film noir: monochromatic, cool jazz, dimly lit rooms, high contrast between light and shadows, tons of cigarette smoke.  Peter Gunn is a well-groomed, sharply dressed private detective who drives a DeSoto and has a beautiful girlfriend who sings with a jazz band in a wharfside club called Mother's. The show's script is hard-boiled, echoing the clipped rhythms and wit of writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

The two stories we watched were thin, but in their devotion to cool jazz, elegance, and ruthless thugs, it looked like Peter Gunn was as much about aesthetics as it was about plots. In the second episode, "Streetcar Jones", much of the story is given over to Streetcar, who plays the vibes, and Lido, a jazz piano player, talking in separate conversations with Peter Gunn about the nature of jazz, the soul of jazz, and what divides authentic jazz players from pretenders. The murder investigation became a minor concern in this episode. Jazz theory and jazz criticism took over the episode and my jaw dropped. I had no idea that these kinds of conversations ever took place in a weekly half hour television program. We are looking forward to watching more. 

Stu wrote this limerick for our enjoyment:

I know that the world sure seems crazy.
You're told to go home and be lazy.
Stay six feet apart,
Wipe down the shopping cart.
And on Doctors and Nurses heap praisey!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/20: The Rena and Pasties, *Molly's Game*, A New Appetizer! BONUS Stu's Limerick

1.  I had fun over the course of the day reading comments on the blog post I put up today. Two items attracted interest. First of all, Stu's limerick made mention of  being scared at the old Rena Theater in Kellogg by "the guy with the flashlight". Bobbie H. remembers him kicking  her sister out of the theater for unknown reasons and then Bobbie would have to leave, too. Bobbie isn't sure what her sister did. Christy wrote that a friend of hers got chased all the way upstairs to the bathroom by the mean creepy guy with the flashlight. Stu and I had a fun time messaging back and forth about the guy with the flashlight and pieced together some Rena (and Wilma in Wallace and CdA) history and agreed: the flashlight guy flat out didn't like kids.

I also enjoyed the comments that ensued regarding pasties. Cousin Lura didn't know about pasties and I enjoyed bringing her up to speed. I also enjoyed all the comments regarding whether to eat pasties with gravy. I definitely have friends who enjoy their pasties with gravy, but Bev W, who grew up in England, reminded me that gravy makes them too messy. I suspect this is especially true when the pasty is packed in a miner's lunch bucket. Tom T. detailed the ingredients his mother packed into the pasties she made, stimulating my appetite (!), and reported they were served with gravy at the dinner table and with ketchup when he carried them in his lunch bucket at the Bunker.

When Christy made pasties with Mary A. back in January, Mary said that people she knew liked pasties with either brown gravy, ketchup, sour cream, or ranch dressing. Christy likes hers with sour cream.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this daylong conversation throughout the day about pasties. What a great topic of conversation and a way to share ideas and experiences. Oh! I enjoyed the Rena stories, too.

2. Over the last few months, on several occasions, Ed has recommended I watch the movie, Molly's Game, the story of Olympic-level skier Molly Bloom and her experience hosting and running ultra-high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and New York City.

I enjoyed the movie a lot. I didn't know what to expect and I'm glad I didn't come into it thinking it would be a "poker movie", like, say, Rounders. I experienced this movie as less of a poker movie and more of a character study of Molly Bloom, and, I thought, a study of the seductive powers of tons of money and its impact on a person's integrity.

I went to IMDb and looked over the list of movies Jessica Chastain has appeared in and it confirmed that I had never seen her in a movie before. This movie presents Molly Bloom as complex and conflicted, faced with much to grapple with and grave decisions to make. I thought Jessica Chastain played her many dimensions beautifully.

3. Debbie and I explored some new territory in our life together tonight.

It was getting close to dinner time and Debbie wondered if I'd pop popcorn. I was happy to and we each enjoyed a small bowl. It is not a new thing for Debbie and me to have popcorn for dinner. About a half an hour or so after we ate the popcorn, I asked Debbie if she wanted a steak -- we had flat irons ready to be cooked in the ice box.

Debbie said yes. And she requested spinach.

So, since we weren't having popcorn dinner, now Debbie and I have opened up the popcorn as an appetizer option in our funny little Kellogg life.

I headed back to the kitchen. I thought onions would go well with spinach and steak, so I fried up onions, added a block of frozen spinach to the skillet, cooked them up together, and fried the steaks with onions and we had a very satisfying dinner, possibly made even better by popcorn to start. 

April 10th is National Sibling Day and Stu commemorates it with a limerick:

Be they close maybe you fight.
Want them near or best out of sight.
If they're loved ones take note,
Or you might miss the boat.
To make your Brother or Sister's day bright!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/20: Fresh Spring Air, Pasties, Banana Bread and Lemon Bread BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Today's sunshine and fresh air motivated me to work on indoor things. We opened doors and windows and refreshed the house with spring air. I cleaned up the Vizio room, vacuumed it, and threw open the curtains and windows and suddenly it was transformed, bright and airy. I wrote a business email I've been putting off as well as a business text message. I decided to postpone a doctor's appointment until early May. Taking care of all these things relieved me.

2. Over at Carol and Paul's house, there's been baking activity. Carol texted us with an offer for pasties and Paul put them on the porch late this afternoon. I don't know exactly where I got it in my head that I enjoy pasties with gravy.  Christy made pasties in Mullan back in January -- no gravy. In February, a year ago, Christy, Everett, and I ate pasties while watching the Zags. I think those pasties came from Montana -- no gravy. I enjoyed the pasties that Paul delivered -- don't get me wrong -- but I also thought that I would enjoy some gravy in the filling and/or over the top of my pasty and I'm wondering if when I ate pasties over forty years ago in Cornwall, they had gravy -- or if I'm confusing pasties in my head with meat pies. I don't know. It's where my thoughts went this evening.

3. Turns out Christy has been busy baking, too. A little later in the evening, she dropped off a loaf of cream cheese banana bread and a loaf of zucchini lemon bread. I was all over the banana bread immediately. Banana bread has been a part of our family's life for as long as I can remember. Grandma Woolum made awesome banana bread and so did Mom. Neither of them baked it with the added delight of cream cheese like Christy did (Oh my God!), but I associate the taste of banana bread with Christmas and as I ate a single slice of Christy's bread tonight, a rush of Christmas sensations and memories flooded my mind. 

Today, Stu recalls Kellogg's old movie theater, the Rena:

So movies that you waited to see.
Is now different than IT used to be.
Back then was the Rena
Which just had one Screena.
And the guy with the flashlight scared me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/20: Drive Through Banking, Flat Iron Steaks, *All the President's Men*, BONUS Stu's Limerick

1. Even though I never got out of the Sube, I strapped on my mask when I headed uptown to deposit our tax refunds in our Wells Fargo account. I want to make strapping on my mask when I leave the house a routine action, a habit. When it was my turn at the the drive through and the teller and I spoke on the little monitor, I removed my mask at that moment. I thought my voice would come through more clearly if I took it off.

When I ran errands yesterday, I thought it would be my last day out for a while, but I decided to get this one transaction completed at the bank. I know I'll have another errand coming up before too long because Debbie is going to have at least one more package to be mailed.

I washed my mask by hand right away when I returned home -- another habit I'm developing.

2. Back in the ever receding past, when we lived in Eugene, I used to regularly buy flat iron steaks at the Market of Choice. Debbie and I both enjoyed that these were small steaks and we enjoyed how they tasted. When we made a beef order nearly two years ago from a local rancher, the order included a package of flat iron steaks. Today, after thawing them overnight, I finally opened the package. To my delight and surprise, the package contained four steaks. I seasoned and fried two of them this evening. Debbie roasted some potatoes and made a cabbage salad. It was a simple and tasty meal and soon we'll repeat some of it because we have two more steaks in the ice box.

3. Debbie and I were watching an episode of Law and Order that featured Jane Alexander and said something about how much I loved her work, especially in All the President's Men. There was a pause. Then I wondered if Debbie would mind if we bagged Law and Order and watched All the President's Men instead.

"That's a great idea!"

It was awesome. So many aspects of this movie give me pleasure every time I see it: the location shots in Washington, D. C., the ensemble cast and the great work of every actor, the storytelling, the pace and suspense of the movie, all those rotary dial telephones(!), the writing -- I enjoy this movie as much as any I've ever seen. It kept me up later than usual and, although I was ready to hit the hay when it was over, I felt some urgings to go back to the beginning and watch it all again.

Watching it again together made for a superb party tonight. It was a blast.

Here's another limerick from Stu:

Spelling words proper is tough
And usage is easy to muff.
Whether to, too, or two,
Or even just blue or blew.
It's easy to mess up that stuff.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/20: My First Masked Outing to the P. O., Shopping at Yoke's, Liquor Store Stop BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I strapped on my mask. I leaped into the Sube and roared uptown to mail masks that Debbie sewed to Portland, Eugene, and Valley Cottage, NY. I also dropped masks off at Carol and Paul's house. My transaction at the Post Office was stymied temporarily. I left my wallet at home. Ah! Of course! Forgetfulness, for me, always accompanies being anxious. I left the house feeling, if not anxious, for sure self-conscious about wearing a mask, mainly because I'm not used to it. I returned home, grabbed my wallet, finished my transaction at the Post Office, and headed to Yoke's.

2. As I pulled into the parking lot, I immediately noticed that no one coming in or going out of the store was wearing a mask. No judgment. I just wondered if I would be in the company of other mask wearers.

I wasn't.

Well, late in my visit, I spotted one other masked person, but for almost all of the fifteen or twenty minutes or so I spent shopping, I was the only one.

No problem. At first, I thought being the only one would bother me, but it didn't.

I enjoyed being out, stocking up on this and that, and doing my best not to have to return for 10-14 days. I don't think I'll succeed at that, but after I returned home, Debbie and I started a discussion about making an effort to try to execute a two week shopping plan.

3. I dropped into the liquor store and I hope my purchase of triple sec, George Dickel Rye, and Meyer's Dark Rum will give us enough booze over the next two weeks for Debbie's Manhattans, my occasional Rum and Coke, and my martinis along with the hot drinks I enjoy with rum and brandy.  If I consume cocktails over the next couple of weeks, however,   the way I did tonight, our supply will last forever. I didn't drink a drop of alcohol!

Here's another limerick, courtesy of Stu:

There are things we just don't understand
Like why are there 5 fingers per hand?
Or the reasons for gnats,
Or dogs hating cats?
Or the Beatles broke up as a band?

Monday, April 6, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/05/20: Pancakes, On Location, *CSI: Miami* Party BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. On Saturday night, if I remember correctly, Debbie said she'd like to have pancakes for breakfast on Sunday. This morning, Adrienne sent Debbie and me a picture of apple cinnamon pancakes she and Jack had joined forces to make. That sounded good to me, so I melted butter in a pan, sliced up an apple, put the slices in the butter and seasoned the apples with brown sugar and cinnamon.

From the basement, I brought up the pancake/waffle mix Debbie purchased a couple of weeks ago and made us each a couple of pancakes. Debbie put the apples on hers with yogurt and I made a pancake sandwich. I covered the bottom pancake with apples and I poured real maple syrup over the top pancake.

2. On Saturday night, Debbie and I watched Three Days of the Condor for a while and Debbie said, at some point, she'd had enough. It was making her too nervous. I watched the rest of the movie this afternoon and didn't think it added up to much. It's funny. More than anything, I enjoyed that most of the movie took place in New York City in the early 70s.  It was shot on location and I enjoyed seeing the New York City street scenes and interior shots of apartments, a diner and a cafe more than the movie.

After finishing the movie, I poked around on the World Wide Web and discovered a blog called Movie Tourist (it's here). The creator of this blog posts addresses and images of locations in movies. The creator covers a wide range of cities and movies and I enjoyed very much examining what he posted for Three Days of the Condor -- and daydreamed about jotting down the addresses and visiting these spots one day if I can travel to NYC again.

3. I had already watched the replay of the 1983 NCAA men's basketball championship game between North Carolina State and Houston and was about halfway through watching last year's title game between Virginia and Texas Tech when Debbie invited me to come out in the living room for a party.

Our party started out somberly as we watched a SkyTV feature on the pandemic's impact on Bergamo, Italy's hardest hit city.

It was sobering. We let what we'd seen sink in. Earlier in the day I'd watched a documentary about the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. It reaffirmed for me that history is predictive.

I looked for something different for us to watch and we broke out in simultaneous laughter when we saw that episodes of CSI: Miami were airing on WE TV.  It had been years since we had indulged this guilty pleasure and so we watched a couple of episodes and it all came back: the bright colors of the fantasy world of Miami where only the most beautiful men and women live, several of them working as crime scene investigators, and the grave comic seriousness of the program's lead character, the incomparable Haratio Caine. I recalled evenings back in Eugene when I would watch, on YouTube, one opening after another of episodes of CSI:Miami just to hear what pithy comment Horatio Caine would make just before the sonic blast of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" signaled that things were getting real and the investigation of another crime was about to get underway.

Stu pays homage to Kellogg's Teeters Field in today's limerick:

Sports fields can have grass like a lawn.
Their purpose is for games to play on.
Like football and soccer,
But Teeter’s don’t knock ‘er!
She served well with grass that was gone!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/20: Yakkin' with Colette Marie, Granola Batch, Welcome Back Marcella Hazan BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. My fumbling with my cell phone turned out fortuitous today! Colette Marie wondered online if and how she could see Bill and Marjorie's Thursday night concert. I decided to text her the answer, but in my fumbling, bumbling way I dialed her phone number. She didn't pick up and I couldn't figure out in my fumbling bumbling state how to hang up and I left her a message.

No harm done, but I felt foolish that I was being such a stumble bum with my phone.

The fortuitous part was Colette Marie called me back. We last talked in November over dinner at The Prodigal Son in Pendleton. We had a terrific conversation about all sorts of things --  I  learned that Colette's family, including her son in western Washington state, are hanging in there in the face of some difficulties and was really happy to learn that Colette is continuing her work on her MFA at EOU and has the solid support of her family in her graduate work.

2. Well, so far, in my very limited trips to Yoke's, old-fashioned oatmeal has been on the shelves, and, for Debbie and me, that's a good thing because I can keep up my production of granola. My experiements today were moderate. I sweetened the granola with a combination of honey and maple syrup and I put in a few whole cloves along with the cinnamon. I think next time I'll be a little more aggressive with the cloves -- I'd like to bring that flavor -- one of my favorites -- forward more.

3. As our day crept closer to dinner, I asked Debbie if a pasta dinner sounded good. Debbie perked right up and responded with a solid "Yes!". Then she said that she'd love pasta with that tomato sauce that has an onion in it. I knew immediately that she was referring to Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce. So, I opened a couple of 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes, cut up an onion into chunks, and sliced off about five tablespoons of butter and combined it all it a pot with a dash or two of salt. I let it all bubble away for about 45 minutes or so, removed the onion chunks, and we enjoyed our favorite sauce over penne pasta. Pasta with Marcella Hazan's sauce, for Debbie and me, has got to be one of the tastiest and simplest meals possible. It's miraculous that we don't just fix it every night.

Here's another of Stu's limericks that many of us can relate to!

How in the world can it be?
That menus are so hard to see!
And I get dizzy from gittin',
To standin' from sittin'.
And that guy in the mirror ain't me.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/20: Pandemic Mask, Hamburger Soup, *Cold Justice* Visits the Silver Valley BONUS Stu's Limerick

1. I finished ironing the last ribbons of fabric, the ones Debbie transforms into mask straps on her sewing machine. This afternoon, Debbie presented me with my pandemic mask to wear on the rare occasion I go outside -- that is, buy groceries and go to the liquor store. Here I am, sporting my new mask:

2.  I did some chopping and then put some ground beef seasoned with garlic powder, onion, celery, and carrots in the Dutch oven and cooked them until the meat was no longer pink and the onions were soft. I added two minced garlic cloves, cooked the mix for another minute, and then added a can of pinto beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a quart of chicken stock, chopped potatoes, frozen corn kernels, and frozen green beans. I seasoned the soup with red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. It cooked slowly on the stove top until the potatoes were tender and before long Debbie and I had a delicious hamburger soup for dinner.

3. Ed texted me today, wondering if I'd seen the Cold Justice episode "Mystery on the Mountain" on Oxygen television covering the unsolved disappearance of Brian Shookman in August 2012. First thing I had to do was see if my Fubo subscription included the Oxygen channel. It does. Then I saw that this episode was airing again at 6:00 this evening. Debbie and I tuned in. I enjoyed watching the Cold Justice people working side by side with Shoshone County law enforcement. I won't give away how the episode turned out, but will say that the whole story is chilling.

Here's Stu's limerick for today:

It's really not hard to be nice.
Saying thank you for help's good advice.
Offer strangers a smile,
Then after a while.
It's a habit, don't even think twice.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/02/20: Ironing for Masks, It's a Concerted Effort, Bill and Marjorie's Concert BONUS: Limerick by Stu

1. I did not feel numb today.

For starters,  I blazed a trail up and down the basement stairs. We keep the ironing board in the basement and I continued to help Debbie with her mask sewing project, ironing five straps per trip downstairs. Later in the afternoon, our next door neighbor, Jane, rapped on the door and, for Debbie, Jane's visit was a game changer. Jane gave Debbie elastic straps. We'll still need to make cloth straps, but Debbie was really happy that some of the masks will have elastic ones.

2. I'll tell you what else eased the numbness today and made me feel alive. I had contact with three friends from the Whitworth days. The first two contacts were from fellow students, two longtime friends I hear from often, but, each time we exchange messages, it's uplifting for me.

Deborah reminded me that snapping out of feeling numb is a concerted effort. I read this two ways. First, it's an ongoing thing, especially when we're lying low, not getting out much, not doing a lot of the things outside the home we enjoy. I also read her comment this way: snapping out of numbness is something we do in concert with others. I know I can't rely on myself, alone, to snap out of it and feel more energetic and alive. Deborah told me that, after a period of inactivity, she culled and pressed fabrics in preparation for measuring and cutting -- she's decided to get going on making a quilt. I not only loved knowing that Deborah is getting underway with something she enjoys doing a lot, her news also inspired me to keep doing things that I enjoy and to resist becoming a zombie.

I also heard from my spring of 1975 roommate in South Warren at Whitworth, Rich, the Badger, also know as Rocket.

One way he's taking advantage of the way his life has slowed down during the pandemic is to reach out to friends and express appreciation to them. I really enjoyed the way Rich's message took me back 46 years, to how we got acquainted and how we discovered a mutual enjoyment of sports, mocking local crappy radio and television people, laughing about third-rate baseball players and their hilarious baseball card pictures, and watching reruns late at night of Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life. We had serious moments, too, but mostly I, like Rich, remember how we found a common sense of humor and a common love of the world of sports, especially baseball and hockey.

How could I possibly remain numb recalling all the great times with Rich?  Great poker games, music listening sessions, beer drinking sessions, and Don Dirk punching out opponents in hockey games at the Spokane Coliseum.

3.  At 7:00 this evening, two Whitworthians from the 1980s, my longtime friend, Bill Davie (who was twice a student of mine at Whitworth) and Marjorie Richards were scheduled to play a concert at the C & P Coffee Company in West Seattle.

But, in this time of pandemic, C & P Coffee is closed.

So, with the help of Zoom, Bill and Marjorie performed their concert live on Facebook, Bill from his home and Marjorie, who was accompanied on several songs by her wife, Nancy Reinhold, from their home.

I didn't know Marjorie at Whitworth -- at least, I don't remember knowing her. I am sure this is the first time I've heard her perform her music. I enjoyed her songs, the subtle power of her singing voice, and her guitar playing style; when she and Nancy performed together, the harmonies were exquisite and, when they were both playing guitars, they played off of each other brilliantly.

I loved listening to Bill perform numerous songs I had never heard before. He's recently completed a new recording called Night Sky and several of the songs her performed this evening appear on it. I can't say much in detail about these songs, having only heard them once, except to say that Bill's songwriting, his lyrics, rhythms, and melodies, always have and continue to this day to move in multiple stirring directions.

Maybe one day I should write a long blog post about all the times and all the ways Bill Davie's life and mine have intersected. When I lived in Eugene, he twice performed a house concert in my home. I heard him perform in Corvallis, Yachats, Deadwood, several venues in Eugene, and I made a memorable trip to Seattle around 1995 to hear him open for Peter Himmelman -- was that venue called the Back Door?

Bill, his wife, Dianne, and I rented a house together and enjoyed a vacation in Ashland in June of 2011; we rented separate cabins but spent a lot of time together on a similar getaway to La Push, WA in 2014 and were joined one evening by Bridgit and Dan. In 2010, Bill and Diane, Bridgit, Susan-Louise, and I spent a glorious day together on the Kalama River at Bridgit's parents' home, talking, reminiscing, and listening to Bill play some songs.

These were among the memories stirring in my mind as I listened to Bill perform tonight. Bill pulled one song out of the deep past. When he introduced his song "Comfort" which appeared on his 1988 album, Phobia Robes.

When Bill introduced the song, he talked about road songs that travel with us and how, years ago, when he drove to American Falls, Idaho to help his grandmother clean out her house after his grandfather died, he listened repeatedly to Kansas playing "Carry On Wayward Son".

I suddenly remembered that Phobia Robes and Bill's next album Gravity were, on several occasions, road trip music for me. My memory of exactly when is a little vague, but somehow those albums connect me with deep feelings I have for my Kellogg High School friends. I know I played these cds on my drive back to Eugene from gatherings with my KHS friends in Vancouver, WA because their emotional content somehow stir up my love and deep feelings for my Kellogg friends.

I can't really explain it. I can say, though, that it was especially satisfying to be sitting in the Vizio room in our little house in Kellogg listening to Bill, having memories of growing up in Kellogg rise up and these memories connected with Bill's and my love of Richard Hugo, the poet who has most helped me sort out my feelings about growing up here, and I thought back to 1977 when Bill was my student in Writing I (Freshman Comp) at Whitworth and one day in class he helped me pronounce Hoboken correctly and, beyond that, something between us clicked and, when I returned to Spokane in 1982 to teach at Whitworth again, Bill was finishing his degree and one morning I fixed pork chops and eggs for Bill and Dave V. and together we watched Breaker Morant and I remember how strongly I felt that this was the life I wanted -- good relationships with students and inviting them over for breakfast and a movie and we probably drank beer with breakfast and it all came back to me tonight as I enjoyed the music and enjoyed my good fortune. I've known Bill for 43 years and I could see the names of people from those Whitworth days popping up on the Facebook feed who were in the virtual coffeehouse listening together to Bill and Marjorie play -- Bridgit, Andrea, Jeff, Mary, Nancy, Al, Brad, Susan-Louise and, in addition, other people I knew about at Whitworth 35-40 years ago, but never met.  I loved being a part of it. It also got to me that Kathy was in the virtual house -- maybe Loras, too -- and I thought of all the times we heard Bill Davie in Oregon, at the house concerts and at other venues around and how much fun it was all those years ago to enjoy his music together.

So, yeah, the numbness of the previous day lifted.

By the way, if you'd like to check out Bill's music, click on this link:
It's all there.

Helping make masks. Being in touch with Whitworth friends. Listening to Bill Davie and Marjorie Richards' live concert. These are sources of enjoyment stronger than the temporary numbness brought on by the pandemic.

And so is another limerick by Stu:

Sales come in many odd ways.
And our hometown itself had a phase.
Where they'd take lots of their wares.
Outside on tables and chairs.
For a weekend they'd call Crazy Days.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 04/01/20: Making Masks, Confronting Numbness, Contact with Friends BONUS: Stu's Limerick

1. Debbie has begun a mask sewing project. She's been consulting many online resources and talked with a fellow Kellogg mask maker to compare notes. I'm involved. Each mask has four straps and the strips of fabric that Debbie transforms into straps need to be folded from the top, ironed, folded up from the bottom, ironed, and then the bottom needs to be folded up one more time and ironed.

I am ironing. It's tedious. My small motor skills are not exactly Olympian. But, once I decided to iron with my glasses on and as I got more practice, I improved. It also helps having bottles of sparkling mineral water nearby to refresh myself while ironing.

2. Aside from ironing, today was the first day of lying low that I really didn't do much. I wasn't feeling bored or discontented. I wasn't even feeling particularly lazy.

I've got to resist what I think I was feeling -- numb. When I feel numb, it's easy for me not to do much at all and I think the pandemic had this effect on me today.

I'm thinking it's time to read another book.

3. Another way for me to resist numbness is to yak with Debbie - I enjoyed that today - and to keep in contact with friends out in the world. Stu and I message in the morning. I had a fun exchange with Kathy. I get good stuff from Byrdman. I received some emails from friends who receive this blog by email and I've enjoyed passing on to Stu their enjoyment of his limericks. Their delight makes him happy.  His limerick dedicated to April 1st generated some fun sourdough with friends. (Wait! I'm writing myself out of my numbness right now. Thinking about how much I enjoy hearing from friends and reaching out to them is a great way to feel alive, to resist the numbness.)

Here's another of Stu's limericks:

Now age affects everyone.
Like slowing the pace of your run.
But it's not always bad,
Recounting good times you've had.
But forgetting your friend's name ain't fun.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 03/31/20: Fish Chowder, Errands, The House Shook BONUS: Stu's April 1st Limerick

1. I'm about to tell you something that will matter quite a bit by the time you finish reading this post. April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day. I learned that today. It made me think of when Mom used to make sourdough food -- I think I was in grade school, but I'm not sure -- and how much I enjoyed it when we had sourdough pancakes. Mom made small pancakes and it was fun to be able to go to Sunday School and boast about eating a dozen pancakes for breakfast.

My cooking today didn't involve sourdough. No, I thawed a quart of crab stock and made a pot of creamy fish chowder with shrimp and chunks of salmon broken off from the salmon burger patties I buy at Costco. The recipe I use calls for a bit of cayenne pepper, an ingredient I leave out when I make this chowder for family dinner. I included it today and so Debbie and I both enjoyed the deep flavors of the crab stock and the touch of heat provided by the cayenne pepper.

Ha! Now that I think about it, too bad we aren't in the sourdough swing of things in our home. I would have enjoyed some sourdough bread or rolls with this fish chowder.

2. During this time of sheltering in place, it seems that about once a week I have to run a few errands in town. Today, I had a prescription to pick up at Yoke's and, while there, I quickly stocked up on some groceries. Debbie knit Ellie a hat and I dashed into the Post Office and had it mailed and dashed right out. The clerk at the Post Office counter and I completed this transaction with a barrier of plastic between us, hanging in wide strips from overhead. I ended my errands by swiftly grabbing a bottle of Tanqueray, a fifth of George Dickel Rye Wiskey, and a bottle of orange bitters and was in and out of the liquor store in a matter of minutes. I followed all the protocols at Yoke's. I sanitized my grocery cart and moved as efficiently through the store as possible and I kept my distance. Once home, I immediately scrubbed my hands after putting the groceries away and I took a shower.

Carol and Paul made a Costco trip today and, to my delight, were able to fulfill my three requests: 48 16 oz bottles of sparking mineral water, a package of four pounds of butter, and a bag of pre-cooked shrimp. Paul left the products on the porch and we made quick work of the exchange between us when I paid him with a check. Christy asked them to get her some rice. They brought back a large bag and Christy offered to share her rice with us. I delivered quart containers to Christy's back porch, she filled eight of them with rice, and returned the containers to our back porch.

3. Debbie and I live in the house my mom and dad bought and moved us into back in June of 1962. At that time, US Highway 10 came through Kellogg on Cameron Avenue. Our house is on "Little Cameron", a street that runs parallel to Cameron Avenue itself. For all intents and purposes, we lived on Highway 10 until the freeway opened a couple or three years later.

I have two vivid memories of living so near the highway. First of all, during the summer of 1962, which was the year of the Century 21 Exposition, the Seattle World's Fair, Cameron Avenue/Highway 10 was thick with cars coming and going from Seattle and I saw more license plates from more different states than I'd ever imagined.

Second of all, I remember how our house used to shake when big trucks came through Kellogg and rattle things hanging on the wall.

At about 4:45-5:00 this afternoon, I thought it was 1962 again. I suddenly thought I was an eight years old. The house shook and I could hear some rattling in the kitchen cupboards.

It was an earthquake.

It wasn't long before we learned that 6.5 magnitude earthquake, originating in central Southern Idaho, in the Challis National Forest, had taken place.

Our experience was mild, but it was strong enough to transport me back about fifty-eight years ago to the early days of living in this house.

Stu wrote a limerick for April 1st. Now is when the information I wrote at the beginning of this post will come in handy!

Today is for "Fooling" it's said.
Jokes played just to make your face red.
All joking aside,
Make it known far and wide.
It's also for Sourdough Bread.