Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/20: We Voted, Whale Day, Tree House and *Jazz* BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I took a break from updating passwords and strolled next door, collected Christy's and Everett's ballots, added them to mine, and drove to the courthouse in Wallace and turned them in.

Our votes are in!

2. Over at the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast, it was Whale Day. Today, his publisher released Billy Collins' latest book of poems, Whale Day, and the broadcast was a celebration of the book coming out.

Even though this segment of the broadcast didn't play very clearly on my tablet, my favorite part of the celebration was at the end. Suzannah, Billy Collins' wife and the producer/director/make-up artist/lighting director/etc. of the broadcast made it possible for viewers of the broadcast from both sides of the Atlantic to appear on screen. The Collinses greeted each of them warmly and received their congratulations and gratitude graciously. One man in England had his kitten in his arms while talking online (I loved it) and a woman in Ireland brought me to tears when she sang a verse of an Irish song. Billy Collins is Irish and, he too, seemed touched by her singing. 

3. The day just kept improving as late afternoon became evening, I poured myself a gin and tonic, and listened to Bill Davie perform Tree House Concert #23 at 7 p.m. He opened very strong with one of my very favorite of his songs, "King of the Art", a song that often plays in my head and wakes me up at night -- I enjoy that. Bill also blended two exquisite covers into tonight's concert. Both moved me: John Hartford's "Gentle on my Mind" and Tom Petty's "Wild Flowers".  He took a generous poetry break and read several of his poems, a handful of Gregory Orr's works, and poems by Lucille Clifton. 

Back in May, 2006, Lucille Clifton visited Lane Community College. She gave a reading and she agreed to join with some students and faculty for a luncheon together. She was especially gracious and generous with the students during lunch, listening attentively to their questions and comments and answering them with seriousness and gravity, as if she were being interviewed on some big time radio show like Fresh Air.  I remembered, too, how I'd been asked to introduce Lucille Clifton at her reading, a most enjoyable task. 

Bill's concert ended. I was pumped and ready for more artistic stimulation.

I watched all but about twenty minutes of the third episode of Ken Burns' series, Jazz. It focused on the  emergence of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and also explained how the jazz movement migrated out of its city of origin, New Orleans, and began to be performed, danced to, and loved in northern cities like Chicago and New York. 

A limerick by Stu:

Before online shopping was cool.  
Think Coyote and Roadrunner dual. 
There weren’t Amazon Deals, 
For Rocket Powered Wheels. 
But, Acme had it all as a rule!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/20: Upgrade, Measuring Time, In the Beginning BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I completed my software business with the worldwide corporation I started dealing with last Wednesday.  I'm glad to be done with that, but in the process I lost some data that I've started to replace. If I needed to slow down my life a bit, this tedious process will do just that!

2. So, as I expected, once I entered into the world of software upgrade, a long telephone call and an online chat session with a very friendly agent who tried but couldn't help me devoured much of my afternoon, as did starting the project of replacing the data I'd lost (luckily I can recreate it -- many of my online accounts will now have new passwords!). 
I took a break from my new project and drove to the post office to mail an envelope containing Debbie's absentee ballot off to New York.

Early in the evening, I put computer stuff aside and mixed myself a gin and tonic and put today's Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast on the Vizio. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 29th, Billy Collins' new collection of poetry, Whale Day, comes out.

Billy Collins had fun wryly joking about today being Whale Day Eve and this silliness, along with the Horace Silver he played to open the broadcast and the funny Irish song about dancing cows he played at the end and the poems he read transported my attention away from online password management and into a much more pleasant world. 

I can't sum up the poem I enjoyed most very well. It's entitled "Tipping Point". In it, Billy Collins realizes that jazz saxophonist and bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy died when he was thirty-six and, on the day of the poem, thirty-six years had passed since his death. The poem playfully regards time in terms of another Eric Dolphy lifetime getting underway and the poem's speaker muses about what he felt at this tipping point moment as time passed from a second Eric Dolphy lifespan into a third. I didn't know it, but it turned out this was just the sort of playful treatment of time and the human relationship to time that I wanted to experience this evening. The poem filled an empty spot in my inward self  (it scratched an itch) that I didn't even know was there.

3. After watching an hour of news programming, I mixed myself on more gin and tonic and decided to go back to the beginning of Ken Burns' series, Jazz, and watch the first episode. Having watched the last four episodes already (7-10) made going back to the beginning work especially well for me. Knowing where Ken Burns' story was headed and knowing its end made what I learned tonight about the origins of jazz all the more pointed. 

A limerick by Stu: 

It’s easy to rhyme words with duck. 
With their males called a Drake not a Buck! 
But, when the guy’s called a Gander, 
Don’t let thoughts meander. 
It’s a day to wish honkers some luck! 

Goose Day. 
With best thoughts of Kirk

Monday, September 28, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/20: Poems Don't Have to Mean Anything, Cooperation and First Albums, Family Dinner BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I eagerly anticipated today's once every two weeks ZOOM conversation at 2:00. Bill, Diane, Colette, and I spent just over three hours talking about all kinds of things. We had a great discussion about poetry and how we read and understand poems. Among us, we said too many fascinating and insightful things for me to detail here. I'll just say, and I tried to articulate this, that my enjoyment of poetry has grown since I retired.  I am no longer obligated to come up with a "reading" or an interpretation of poems -- nor do I have to assign students to do the same -- but I can enjoy what's alive in the poem that is alive in me (or what the poem brings to life in me). I can ease into the enjoyment of how the poem creates momentum, how it's formed, the moves of the imagination it makes, and, maybe above all, its music. 

Daily, Billy Collins reinforces my enjoyment of poetry in these ways. He rarely, if ever, talks about what his (or any one else's) poems mean. He strongly downplays the idea that poems are a means of self-expression, of expressing feeling. A good poem will create feeling in the reader and it may or may not have to do with any feeling in the poet. Billy Collins emphasizes again and again, I think, the writing of poetry as a playful act, a way of both observing details in the world and of expanding upon those details with imaginative riffs and well-composed lines. 

2. We also discussed how strongly we prefer formal education that is cooperative with supportive teachers/instructors/professors in charge to competitive classrooms conducted like something akin to boot camp. Colette has experienced some especially brutal classroom atmospheres in different creative writing classes and workshops she's been in over the years, but is very happy to report that the MFA program at Eastern Oregon Univ. she's currently enrolled in manages, thanks to the approach of the director and the professors, to strike that golden balance between rigor and cooperation, a balance between assigning challenging reading/demanding workloads and proving humane support for the program's participants.

For me, at least, a fun moment in this conversation occurred when Bill pulled out the notebook/journal he kept when he was my Writing I student at Whitworth in the fall of 1977. He read comments I made forty-three years ago in his notebook.  To my relief, it turned out that right from the beginning (Bill was a student in the first writing class I ever taught), I worked to encourage, affirm, and support my students. The comments I wrote, at the tender age of 23, about Bill's writing were accurate, heartening, and prescient. About his creativity, artistry, original ways of seeing things, and clarity, my comments were right on in 1977 and are exponentially much more true in 2020.  I'm happy to report that Writing I under my direction was no boot camp.

This afternoon we also learned more about the project Diane is working on for Victory Music. She's been doing interviews with longtime Seattle area musicians, like Magical Strings and Tim Noah, about their very first albums. It's a fascinating project and got us talking about the thrilling history of acoustic music and singers and songwriters in and around the Puget Sound. Moreover, Diane let us in on how she approaches writing these articles and on other projects she's published at Victory Music.

3. As if the scintillating conversation Bill, Colette, Diane, and I enjoyed were not enough, I also was a very happy participant in tonight's family dinner at Carol and Paul's house.

 I hardly walked in the door and Carol put a cocktail in my hand whose name had autumn and afternoon in the title and featured bourbon, cider, a cinnamon stick, apple slices, and I'm not sure what else! I do know I enjoyed it.

Soon, we made our way to the dinner table. Carol had prepared each of us a fresh and crispy green salad on a small plate to start and the main course consisted of rosemary lemon roasted chicken, smashed Yukon gold potatoes, and tender asparagus spears. For dessert, Carol presented stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.

It was a hearty and delicious meal.

We talked about a lot of things, but what stuck with me is something I'm not particularly happy about in myself, but seems to be the way I am, given my temperament and mental state of being.

Christy serves on the library board and Carol serves on the local hospital board. I admire them for being active in the Kellogg community and making positive contributions to the welfare of our area.

I've been offered the opportunity to join two different boards in Kellogg and turned them both down. 

I might be wrong, but I came to believe that problems I was having in my life while I worked at LCC, problems with fatigue, feeling pressure that had a depressing effect on my mental state and that often led to me being moody at home, had to do with committee work in my job and with always having to deal with the ways my work as an instructor intersected with ways our work was being administered at all levels of governance. I promised myself when I retired, that for the good of my health, I would do all in my power not to be involved with committees, boards, and similar bodies.

The odd thing is that I support the work of these bodies -- even if I might not agree with their decisions, I support having a city council, a county commission, and boards like my sisters are on. Being on such boards (or, at school, committees), however, not only wears me out, but has contributed to some serious deterioration in my health. For reasons I can't explain, I simply seem ill-suited to this kind of work or volunteerism.

After our discussion last night and on into this morning, I have been wondering how I might be of local help without it involving meetings. Looking back to when I lived in Eugene, I was able to do this at church. I would be asked to give a talk, teach a class, work in the kitchen, and other things, much of it requiring little or no committee involvement. Yes, I served on the Adult Education Committee before moving away and somehow that was different for me. I can't explain it. 

I'm not really looking for ideas or advice. For now, I'd prefer pondering this on my own. I can think with more clarity right now if I'm not getting suggestions, no matter how benevolent the intentions.

If I have a breakthrough, I'm sure it will be a beautiful thing and make its way onto this blog!

Here's a limerick by Stu: 

What color’s your favorite to wear? 
Do you need to match skin and your hair? 
Do you care what folks think, 
Blue for boys and girls pink? 
Or pick whatever is clean you find there?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/20: Curry Kitchen, Patience, Oldman Will Wait BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I messed around quite a bit in the kitchen today, trying to teach myself more about making Indian curry.  I heated up the chicken and the braise I made on Friday. I separated the meat from the liquid and ran the liquid through the fat separator. I put a bunch of the chicken pieces back in the refrigerator and combined the other pieces with the "fat free" braise, added more curry powder, and blended in about as much heavy whipped cream as felt right. I also added a couple of dried kaffir leaves and a small amount of cayenne pepper. 

This curry was turning into kind of a hybrid, I think, and I liked that. I fixed myself some jasmine rice and poured the sauce over it.

The curry tasted mild and creamy. My inexperience with curry powder stood out. I think this sauce needed more. I enjoyed my dinner, but I am confident that I can do better and look forward to playing with this more.

2. I'm in the midst of a small unfinished transaction with a multi-national software conglomerate. I started this transaction on Wednesday. Today, I checked up on it.  I had a short online chat with one of the corporation's agents who was eager to be of help.  My case has gone to the "senior level" and, the agent assured me, will be acted on soon. I just wanted to make sure it hadn't been lost, so that news was a relief and the agent thanked me for being so calm and patient. I'm glad my typing to him in the chat box came off that way. It's honestly exactly how I felt. 

3.  I retired to the Vizio room. I thought I'd watch a movie. I was in the mood to relive one of the independent movies from the 1980s I enjoyed so much -- something like Mona Lisa or My Beautiful Laundrette. I looked up Sid and Nancy and discovered it is not available to stream, so I looked into some other Gary Oldman movies. It was down to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Darkest Hour when suddenly a wave of sleepiness came over me. I'd had a spotty night on Friday night -- sinus pressure presenting itself as a toothache had kept me awake (it settled down once I was up and around on Saturday - I've had this happen before). I decided movies would have to wait and I crawled into bed and not only enjoyed completing an acrostic puzzle, but, thank goodness, a welcome night of peaceful, comfortable sleep. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

If you’re browsing online there’s a spotta. 
That says if you’ve got one you outta. 
Know this month be Septembah, 
So, the 4th Sunday remembah 
To take time to honnah your Daughtah. 

 And I do...Happy Daughter’s Day Aynslee...Love You

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/20: Experimenting, Gratitude, Puzzles BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: This is my 5100th post over here at kelloggbloggin.

1. I bought a whole chicken the other day at Yoke's, thinking I'd like to experiment with a different braise. Today, I cooked some onion, ginger, and garlic in butter and then added a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of curry powder, and a handful of cilantro to the pot and lowered the seared whole chicken into this braise and slow cooked it for a couple of hours or so. 

I decided, once I'd cut the chicken meat into pieces and put it all in a glass container, that I'd use the braise as a marinate. I poured the braise over the chicken pieces, sealed it, and put it in the refrigerator. 

On Saturday, my plan is to make my first creamy Indian curry sauce, put the marinated chicken pieces in the sauce, and see how it tastes served over rice. I'm not sure what to expect, but at the very least, this experiment means I'm trying new things.

2. Once again, rather than watch Billy Collins live, I watched his broadcast in the early evening on the
Vizio. I poured myself a cup of hot chocolate and rum and enjoyed Sonny Rollins, a surprise visit by the Rolling Stones, and especially enjoyed Billy Collins' poems expressing gratitude -- I don't have the titles handy, but one was about returning home, another about listening to Sonny Rollins while walking in Manhattan, and another about the asparagus stalks painted on a friend's kitchen wall. 

3. While waiting for chicken to braise and to help me wind down before going to sleep, I've sure been enjoying solving acrostic puzzles. It might be wise for me to take a break, though, and spend some time outdoors instead of doing puzzles!

A limerick by Stu: 

Imagine that you’re back in school. 
With classes online as a rule. 
You’d probably miss all your friends, 
As the quarantine never ends! 
For kids, 2020’s been cruel.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/20: "Central Park" Hit Me, Flu Shot, Potato Soup BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. Recently, rather than listening to the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast live, I've been putting it on the Vizio some time between 5:30 and 7. 

Today, Billy Collins played Paul Desmond to open the broadcast, and, for me, rather than his playing sounding like a dry martini, it sounded like a hot cup of Ghirardelli chocolate and cocoa spiked with Meyer's dark rum. That's what I fixed for myself to enjoy during the broadcast and it was a delicious accompaniment to the jazz and poetry. 

Billy Collins read a selection of his own poem's today. 

One hit me. 

It's been echoing in my head ever since he read it and I have it here at home to reread. 

It's called, "Central Park". In the poem, we learn that originally the carousel at Central Park was powered by a blind mule who was "strapped to the oar of a wheel in an earthen/room directly below the merry turning of the carousel." 

The image of the blind mule underground spending its days walking in a circle to make a merry go round function haunts me, even as I write this blog post, and took me back to the same feeling of pity and horror I experienced when I read in Emile Zola's novel, Germinal about horses, called "pit ponies", employed to pull train cars of coal and loads of mining equipment. Some of these horses pulled loads in and out of the coal pits. Others pulled loads from one area in the pit to another, and, like the carousel mule, never saw the light of day while employed. 

It's been over ten years since I read Germinal. I hardly remember the plot.

I'll never forget the horses, though, nor the blind mule powering the Central Park carousel.

2.  Earlier in the day, I popped over to Yoke's for a flu shot. After she administered the vaccine, the pharmacist, Laurie, took time to ask me about my status on the kidney transplant list. Her concern moved me and took me back to when Mom was having trouble filling her pill box correctly and how Laurie and Sandy in the Yoke's pharmacy filled Mom's pill box for her, always with good cheer and concern for how she was doing, and, if needed, delivered the box to Mom at home.

I get offers in the mail from the prescription insurance company I'm enrolled with urging me to transfer my prescription to their company, receiving my pills by mail, and, evidently, saving money.

No way. In addition to their careful attention to helping Mom, I've had other experiences at the Yoke's pharmacy when the people working there have gone the extra distance to resolve a problem and have provided me with premium service. If I'm paying extra for their dedication to my well being, so be it.

3. I have some potatoes in the kitchen that are starting to get old. In order to use most of them, and, thanks to the weather being cooler, I decided to cook up a simple potato soup.

As I was putting together the potatoes, onion, celery, flour, chicken broth, and flour to get this soup going, I thought about what a neutral soup potato soup is. It's a soup without much flavor of its own and so, I thought, is a good soup to experiment with. I didn't go crazy, but, because it's among my favorite seasonings, I added cumin to my soup and, then, thinking a little heat would be fun, I added red pepper flakes. 

I enjoyed the result a lot and it got me thinking about how I might play around with other spices I have in my collection when I make potato soup again -- especially the Mediterranean spices I bought several months ago from Penzeys. 

Here's a limerick by Stu: 

Do you ever just turn off the news? 
Or radio folks with their views? 
The pap they disburse, 
Just keeps getting worse and worse. 
Designed to confound and confuse.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/20: Happy Anniversary, Acorn Squash, Frozen BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. It turns out that we who love martinis have another reason to be grateful for this simple, elegant drink -- in addition to how drinking a dry martini is like sipping Paul Desmond playing the alto sax.  Six months ago, on March 22nd, Billy Collins' 79th birthday, under the influence of martinis, Billy Collins gave in and agreed to try out his wife Suzannah's recommendation that he read poetry live on Facebook.

So, Billy Collins' first appearance was on March 23rd and today marked the six month anniversary of what is now known as the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast.

 I started tuning into this broadcast around July 20. Since then Billy Collins has introduced me to new poets and many poems of his that I'd never read; he's helped significantly expand my experience with jazz, not only with the music he plays, but with his commentary, inspiring me to dig deeper into the history of jazz through reading and watching programs on my television; he's also broadened and deepened my appreciation and knowledge of poets/poetry I was already familiar with and he's inspired me to listen to podcasts and some streaming programming online, further enhancing my enjoyment of poetry.

When I retired from teaching, I wanted to reintroduce myself to poetry and stories and plays, see if I could experience them as works to be enjoyed, not so much as works to be taught, that is, as sources for student essays and exams or as content on a course syllabus.

I've succeeded, on my own, in experiencing literature this way. In addition, Billy Collins' poetry broadcasts help me each day to experience poems as source of love and enjoyment unattached to my former work as a community college instructor. 

By the way, Bill Davie has had the same impact on me. He takes a poetry break during each of his Tree House Concerts and has helped expand my world of poems significantly -- and, reminded me of my love of some longtime favorites. Bill Davie's love of poetry and Billy Collins' love of poetry is a good contagion! 

2.  I found an acorn squash that has come on in the back corner of the yard. It's about the size of a softball. It's green, without variegation. I consulted with Debbie. We agree. It needs more vine time.

3. Since I know pasta dishes like lasagna can be frozen and reheated, I had no hesitation about freezing the helping or two of buffalo chicken pasta that remained from Sunday's family dinner.

I also had two quarts of the tabouli style rice salad left over. I decided I'd put one quart of it in the freezer and find out if such a salad freezes well. 

I've never seen the movie Frozen

A limerick by Stu: 

Some people like fish two and red.  
Others prefer folks in “Whoville” instead. 
You may dig talking “Cats”, 
That visit your house wearing “Hats”. 
His stories were great before bed. 

Dr. Seuss passed away on this date in 1991

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/20: Medicine Ball? Jazz and Poetry Broadcast, The Joy of Bill Davie BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I harvested a third squash from the back corner of our yard. Yesterday, I said these hubbards(?) were about the size of a medicine ball.

Upon further review and with, I guess, a cooler mind, I now confess to all of you that I exaggerated.

My assessment today is that each squash is about the size of a rugby ball.

Who knows what they will look like tomorrow?

2. I downloaded Amazon's internet browser on my Vizio and watched two sessions of Billy Collins' poetry broadcast today. In the second session, I loved hearing Billy Collins talk about and read excerpts from the book Meet Me at Jim & Andy's: Jazz Musicians and Their World. He focused on passages about alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, who once remarked that he tried to make his horn sound like a dry martini. 

I also enjoyed Billy Collins' reading and short discussion of Richard Wilbur's poem, "Barred Owl" and how, on some AP literature exam, Wilbur's poem was placed side by side with Billy Collins' poem, "The History Teacher". Students writing the exam were instructed to compare/contrast the two poems. I'll just say that both poems explore the way adults often try to cushion children from the things in the world that are frightening, like the sound of an owl or, in Billy Collins' poem, the harsh realities of history. 

If you'd like to read either or both poems, both are easy to find via your internet search engine.

3. Life is unfair in any number of ways. I find it unfair that a guitar player as skilled and fun to listen to as Bill Davie is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis. The insults of MS come and go in Bill's life, often exacerbated by warmer weather. Lately, he's had discomfort in his left arm and hand and has been unsure of just how much his pain would affect his guitar playing during his weekly Tuesday evening Tree House Concerts, live on Facebook and easy to find archived on YouTube.

Somehow, so far, he has always performed in these concerts. Two things: the playing sometimes helps the pain and he gives himself some time to rest during his concerts by talking about different things, announcing the upcoming, or just passed, birthdays of listeners, and by devoting a chunk of time in the concert to reading poetry. 

It's poignant. The joy of playing gives Bill some relief from pain. We watch him walking on a tightrope every Tuesday night, never knowing if he might have to stop things and say, "Sorry. I just can't play any longer." (This has never happened.) The topper? He plays and performs a riveting show every week, moving between songs that are driving and surreal like, "Fascination" and others that are tender and moving like "Raise Your Heart". 

His poems were also moving as he read some of his own deeply affecting works and then moved to equally moving and arresting poems by Mary Oliver and Gregory Orr.

Tonight was Tree House Concert #22. These weekly concerts grew out of how the pandemic is restricting Bill's ability to perform at live venues, so he decided to perform live online. I cannot repeat often enough that I've now heard Bill play more often in 2020 than I had heard him in the previous nearly forty years and I cannot repeat enough how much I enjoy being in the virtual audience with Kathy and Loras, reliving the many times we heard Bill perform live in Eugene, Corvallis, Yachats, and possibly elsewhere in Oregon, and being with longtime friends like Val, Colette, Jeff, Bridgit, and others who heard Bill play in the early 80s on campus, downtown at Henny's, and who knows where else and now, here we are again, together and listening to Bill perform. 

As I've said before, I've decided that the rational (not scared) thing for me to do these days is spend a lot of time at home. With Debbie living in New York, spending her days helping Jack with his remote schooling and providing a lot of assistance in helping care for Ellie, I am home alone most hours of the day. I am doing my best to make the most of this time by myself and knowing that I'll be joining Bill and Diane and longtime friends every Tuesday evening to enjoy Bill Davie perform makes this time of isolation not merely bearable, but a source of spiritual and emotional vitality.  

A limerick by Stu:

Where did you go to the “show”? 
Was it a Theater with tickets to go? 
Maybe a screen that’s outside, 
Where in the trunk your friends hide? 
Those times were quite special ya know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/20: Slow Day on Purpose, Big Squash, Dizzy Gillespie BONUS: A Limerick by Stu

 1. Predictably, after I spent much of the weekend preparing food and cleaning house for Sunday's expanded family dinner, today I spent much of the day resting, completing a handful of acrostic puzzles. I fell asleep during the Billy Collins poetry broadcast and will give it a second go in the morning. 

2. At one point, I did wander out to the squash patch in the northeast corner of the yard and harvested two squash (I think Debbie said they are hubbards), both about the size of a medicine ball.

3. Late this evening, I found a short documentary film (about 25 minutes) of Dizzy Gillespie. The film alternated between passages of Gillespie performing in California with a quintet and talking with the filmmaker, Les Blank, about his musical ideas and the origins of the sounds and rhythms of bebop. 

Here's a limerick by Stu: 

Looking back, ask if you were “agin” it? 
Short shorts, that’s how you must spin it. 
Made of nylon not cotton, 
If worn ne’er be forgotten. 
Maybe worse if you were the ones in it. 

Basketball shorts prior to 1991 Michigan Men’s Basketball Team (Fab Five).

Monday, September 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/20: Preparing, Brains and Brawn and Feathery Touch, Superb Family Dinner BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. With the food I planned to serve late this afternoon pretty much done -- I heated the naan, cut up celery sticks, and turned the buffalo chicken pasta from a refrigerated to a room temperature dish --, I divided my time between keeping an eye on the U. S. Open and spiffing up the house -- cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming floors and rugs, cleaning the bathroom, and setting up the deck for hosting Hugh and Carol Crozier, Stu, Christy, Paul, and Carol for tonight's special edition of family dinner.

2. To prepare for this year's golf season, Bryson DeChambeau put on forty pounds of body mass (he has forearms and biceps like a hyper-spinached up Popeye!) and continued his very scientific and mathematical analytical approach to all aspects of the game: his swing, ball speed on his putts, angles on the green, and other areas. With his added physical strength, DeChambeau bombed his tee shots, often landing in the rough, but because he is so strong, he muscled his shots out of the rough, often from much closer to the green than his opponents. It was a stunning display of brains and brawn, and, to top it off, DeChambeau played the more delicate aspects of his game brilliantly. He putted, in his words, "immacuately" and when he had to scramble around the greens, his chips and pitches were deft -- beautifully analyzed and delicately executed. Brains, brawn, and feathery touch. In the end, no one could match the balance of his performance and he won the U. S. Open by six strokes and inspired countless discussions about his unorthodox approach to the game. 

3. I was having a good weekend, planning, cooking, cleaning, watching golf, but the very very best came as the weekend was ending.

By 3:00, I had everything set up for dinner.

First, Stu arrived and we had some time to yak before Carol and Paul came on the scene. Soon Christy arrived. I mixed some cocktails, Stu and his longtime friends, my sisters, yakked, and, before long, Hugh and Carol arrived.

Hugh had just finished the sixth grade and our 1966 Little League season when his family moved to the Seattle area. Hugh and I became friends on Facebook a few years ago. In December of 2019, he made a business trip to Spokane and, along with Stu, Lars, Mary, and Kathy, I got to see Hugh for several hours, mostly at Perry Street Brewing, for the first time in fifty-three years.

Until today, none of us seated on the deck had ever met Hugh's wife Carol. My sisters and Hugh have had some interaction on Facebook, but I'm not sure how much Christy and Hugh ever talked or anything the one school year Hugh was at Sunnyside Elementary. Today, Carol and Paul met Hugh and Carol for the first time.

Before everyone arrived, I wondered, how will this work out? Will it be awkward getting acquainted or will things go smoothly, will conversation, laughter, and mirth just sort of easily happen?

Within minutes I had my answer. Conversation immediately erupted. It turns out everyone had lots to talk about, not only the good old days in Kellogg and Elk Creek, but the good new days in recent years as well. Carol Crozier seemed to feel at home right off the bat -- at one point, Christy escorted her to the she shed for a tour! Hugh brought an armload of beers from Washington, Stu brought a couple of bombers brewed by Wallace Brewing, and I shared beer with Hugh that Patrick brought from Oregon. 

The beers were out of sight: red ale, double IPA, German chocolate stout, and an Imperial stout. Hugh and I split each beer, making it safe to try four beers out and keep our wits about us.

For food, I put out a Thai noodle salad, the buffalo chicken pasta dish, a rice salad, naan with hummus, celery sticks with a simple blue cheese dressing I made, a bowl of peanuts, pickled onions, pickled green tomatoes, pickled asparagus, and bread and butter pickles. Yeah, it was probably too much food, but I thought it would be fun to have a variety of things to graze and everyone seemed to enjoy what they ate. 

I was beaming throughout dinner. I loved that Christy, Carol, Paul, and Stu are so easy to get along with and were so gracious and so interested in getting better acquainted with Carol and Hugh, asking them questions about themselves and telling stories, too.  The conversation among all of us was easy, laughter came readily and naturally, we learned a ton about things in the past around Kellogg and a ton about things in present day Seattle and Renton, and present day Kellogg as well. 

I spent the party seated on the back porch adjacent to the deck and, from my perch, it was a perfect party, a perfect family dinner. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

Three words Nat King Cole sang are clear.
Not soda and pretzels and beer.
But if referred to 2020,
And how things "wenty"?
Lazy, Hazy, and Crazy's this year!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/20: Grip It and Rip It, Food Prep Finished, Sunday Hopes BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. The third round of the U. S. Open intrigued me. The two leaders, Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau, up to this point, have taken, and succeeded with, the strategy of "grip it and rip it" to a level that has boggled my mind. It's widely assumed by golf experts that in order to win a U. S. Open, a golfer must keep the ball in the fairway and avoid the thick, tangly, tall, and punishing rough. Players at the elite level depend on being able to control their shots and it's very difficult to do so when striking the ball in the overgrown rough at Winged Foot. 

Wolff and Bryson turned the conventional wisdom upside down. Both players missed more fairways than they hit, but because of their physical strength and because of their considerable length off the tee (especially DeChambeau) that meant their shots from the rough were shorter, they hit remarkable shots out of the rough and overcame their inaccurate shots off the tee.  

Who will win on Sunday? I have no predictions, no idea.

2. I balanced my time between the Vizio room and golf and the kitchen. The buffalo chicken pasta sort of a salad was finished. I finished making the Thai noodle salad. I made a tabouli styled rice salad. I made a batch of hummus and a blue cheese dip for celery to go with the buffalo chicken pasta sort of salad. I thawed out some naan bread to dip in the hummus and I'll also put out some wine, peanuts and pickled vegetables. We'll have kind of a buffet/eat when you are ready/informal family dinner when Hugh and Carol (and possibly Stu) arrive.

3. I'm glad the food is ready to go -- I think each of the salads I made will benefit from being prepared ahead of time, giving the flavors a chance to settle in. All that's left now is getting the house spiffed up a bit and preparing the deck for guests. I hope it won't be too cold to eat outside. I'll be ready to move things indoors if necessary, but it's not supposed to rain on Sunday and temperature is forecast to be cool, but not cold. 

Here's a limerick by Stu (and a little message!):

For all people who missed it, yesterday was.......

Me likes me patch on me eye. 
Me likes Jolly Roger up high. 
And me hook for a hand, 
Treasure buried in sand. 
And me peg for me leg gets me by.

Talk like a Pirate Day
Don't forget it in 2021

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/20: Bebop/Hip Hop, U.S. Open, Dinner Prep BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I realized today that the episode of Jazz entitled, "Dedicated to Chaos" is the episode I should have started with in my quest to better understand bebop. The episode helped me understand much better how some Black jazz musicians found the lack of freedom in big band/swing compositions to be confining. They also wanted to play music that more truthfully expressed their experience as African-Americans. In late night jazz sessions and with the support of Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, Bud Powell, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others pioneered bebop, this startling and innovative style of jazz. For listeners accustomed to the dance rhythms and much more structured sound of the big bands, the speed, emotional turmoil, and aggressiveness of bebop was jarring. 

I thought about how little I know about hip hop. I do know that hip hop, like bepop, began underground -- not in Harlem, but in the Bronx -- and, like bepop, has its roots in the Black urban experience. Like bepop, hip hop was pioneered by African Americans as a way of exploring Black experience and expressing its truths. Hip hop also became a means for African Americans to take control of the recording, marketing, and selling of their own music, working outside of the established record companies and means of distribution.  Over the last 30-40 years, as hip hop has emerged and gained widespread popularity, I've heard countless denigrating comments about this style of music and the content of its lyrics. I wondered if this rejection and these derisive comments are similar to the rejection the bebop pioneers experienced for creating a sound so out of conformity with mainstream jazz and for expressing a range of emotions that many listeners found unsettling. 

2. On the windswept fairways and greens of Winged Foot Golf Club, host to this year's men's U. S. Open, I didn't hear any bebop or hip hop, but enjoyed watching putts drop as this most challenging course asserted its will, taxing the world's best golfers, demanding that they play at their highest level or suffer golf humiliation. The player who stood our for me today was Patrick Reed -- he scrambled all day, rarely hitting greens in regulation, but time after time, whether out of the green side rough or out  of green side sand traps, he deftly pitched and chipped his recovery shots close to the hole and converted knee knocking after knee knocking putt. When he completed his round, Reed headed straight for the driving range. No doubt he knows, much like other followers of golf know, that in order to win this championship, he must drive the ball straighter. It's difficult to score well on a course like Winged Foot by putting so much pressure on the short game. 

3. As I planned, late this afternoon and on into the evening, I got started on preparing food for Sunday's family dinner and visit from Hugh and Carol Crozier. I'm about half way done, will finish on Saturday, and have everything ready to go long before guests arrive. I'm relieved. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

The “Man” said, don’t “Kipe” it, “you dig?” 
“Right on” will just “book” to that “gig”! 
“It’s a gas” not “uptight”, 
Sounds are “groovy”, “outta sight!” 
“Far out”, there’s a “Bota” to “swig”!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/20: *Jazz*, Prof Bebop, Prepping Family Dinner BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1.  One day, I'll go back and watch the episodes of Ken Burns' series, Jazz, that cover the first days of jazz on through 1940. But, at this time, my interest is much more in the evolution of jazz from 1940 to, well, about 2000, since the series was released in 2001. Watching these episodes, I learned more about the way styles of jazz grew out of one style's response to what came before it and the way jazz gave voice to social and political developments in the life of the USA. What I've watched has secured for me what I thought was true: my tastes in jazz are eclectic and I do not have any investment in making assessments about what is jazz and what isn't. I am enthralled by bebop, cool jazz, fusion, as well as the big band sound and I find the sonic explorations of free and avant garde jazz fascinating and sometimes perfect for giving musical expression to ways I feel about things. 

Although Jazz didn't cover this, I think I'm also coming to appreciate more fully the way bepop and possibly cool jazz inspired the Beat poets and I went on YouTube today and listened to Jack Kerouac read his poem, "Charlie Parker" to the piano accompaniment of Steve Allen. 

2.  This afternoon, I tuned into the Billy Collins poetry broadcast. When Billy Collins introduces us to a jazz musician, he puts on sunglasses and assumes the role of Professor Bebop. On the one hand, he's being kind of funny when he plays Professor Bebop, but, at the same time, his comments are informative and are expanding my enjoyment of jazz music. 

As I listen to more of Billy Collins' poetry and to what he says about jazz, I find myself wanting to learn more about the poetics of Beat poetry and possibly understanding a little bit about how Billy Collins' style of poetry is related, if it is, to Beat poetry and, in turn, to jazz. I might be making this all up. If I am, fine -- but these questions are swirling around in my head.

3. I am hosting family dinner this Sunday and Hugh and Carol Crozier will be joining us. I spent time today putting my shopping list together and planning what food I'll prepare. I'll get going on all of this on Friday and Saturday -- the food prep will be simple and what I have planned for us to eat will taste better on Sunday if it's made a day or two in advance.

A limerick by Stu:

Very few in this world are called "Best"!
Who still stand alone at the crest.
And, though others are great,
Two's the best they can rate.
As Jimi tops the list we attest!

Jimi Henrix passed away on this date in 1970, joining many others in the "27" Club!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/20: Dental Success, Kidney Check Up Relief, Thelonius Monk and Bebop BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: I could see the outlines of  mountains to the south of Kellogg today. Our air's smoke load lightened a bit.

1. Over the last couple of years, in particular, I've been much more disciplined in how I tend to my dental health. I'll leave it at that -- who needs to (or wants to) read the gory details (maybe Jeri! 😊). So, when I went to have my once every four months cleaning today, I was hopeful that hygienist extraordinaire Kathy would be pleased with my efforts.  

She was. 

So, not only did I leave the dentist's office with smoother feeling teeth, my night time mouth guard sanitized, and a bag of dental cleaning supplies, I also left with the slightly euphoric feeling of Kathy having praised me. 

2. Next up this morning: I met my appointment with Dr. Bieber, Nephrologist. 

I was feeling some stress about this visit.

I had seen my lab work results and my glomerular filtration rate (gfr) had dropped from 15 to 13 and my blood's creatinine content was higher than usual. Other parts of my results looked good, though. 

Most of all, I was anxious about talking with Dr. Bieber about my decision last month to turn down a kidney and not have a transplant.

My anxiety was misplaced. 

Here. Listen in:

Dr. Bieber: Good morning! How have you been feeling?

Me: Really good. Just like I have for years, I'm happy to say.

Dr. Bieber: And you are still on the active list for a transplant?

Me: Well, no. I was offered a kidney last month and I turned it down.

Dr. Bieber: That was very wise. (My emphasis.)

Me (on the verge of happy tears): My transplant nurse coordinator called me the next day, wondering about my decision to decline and told me that if I were going to be turning down offers, I should be put on inactive status on the transplant list. I agreed and that's where things stand right now.

Dr. Bieber had my lab report in hand and he went over it in more detail than any other doctor ever has.  He showed me that, yes, in the area of filtration, my numbers were not very good (gfr and creatinine). But, he told me, in other ways my kidneys continue to work splendidly. He explained that it's why I continue to feel good, why I'm not anemic, why I'm not retaining water in my lower legs and ankles, why, in short, I'm not experiencing symptoms. He added that these numbers have been strong all along and that these numbers suggest present and, most likely (no guarantees), continued stability for some indeterminate amount of time.

In short, he would rather, for now, see me continue to live with my kidneys in the shape they are in now, and have been for several years, than go through a transplant.

He was realistic. We never know when the other functions might go into decline. But, given my history and given the strength of my numbers overall, he doesn't anticipate a steep decline in the near future.

I also expressed my concerns about having a transplant, which requires significantly lowering my immune system, during this pandemic. He agreed. It's a concern and only recently have transplant programs resumed performing surgeries. His hope is that I can continue to be stable and feel good at least until a vaccine for Covid-19 is available and get the shot before transplantation.

So, what's next? 

When I talked with her a month ago,  I told Transplant Nurse Coordinator Sheri that even though I was inactive, I'd like to go through the once a year series of tests and interviews that happens every November. She said I could delay it until the early months of 2021, but I don't want to. I really enjoy talking with the members of the transplant team and I look forward to meeting with all of them once again and I'm fine with having a million blood tests, X-rays, heart tests, and other things done during the day. 

I see Dr. Bieber again in January.

3.  I returned home and warmed up some left over steak soup with rice for lunch and then took the packages of dog feed to go to Lucky Paws, along with a package for Debbie in New York, to the post office.

Back home again, the combination of anxiety and relief I experienced this morning washed over me so mightily that I collapsed and fell into a deep and restorative sleep for about an hour.

Revived, I photographed squash for Debbie, finished the blog writing that I usually complete in the morning, had an awesome telephone conversation for about 45 minutes with lifelong friend, Paul Richter, had some leftover curry and rice for dinner, and retired to the Vizio room to watch two documentary films on jazz.

I started by watching the Theolonious Monk documentary,  Straight, No Chaser. The movie is built upon generous chunks of time watching and listening to Monk play in nightclubs, recording studios, jazz festivals, and at home. It also features candid scenes of Monk backstage, in airports and on airplanes, on the streets of cities, all contributing to a sense of his complex personality on stage, in rehearsal, and in his domestic life. Unlike many documentaries, this one is not particularly interview heavy, but is much more devoted to experiencing Monk at work as player and band leader.

I then turned to the Ken Burns documentary series, Jazz, which I've never watched. Having just watched the Monk movie, I wanted to experience how Burns' series dealt with the origins and the growth of bebop, so I put on episode 8, "Risk", and watched the first hour. I learned much more about bebop's exploration of unusual, often broken, rhythms and discordant melodies and its emphasis not only on speed and virtuosity, but on personal expression, especially of emotions, whether feelings of anxiety or disillusionment, or the joy musicians like Charlie Parker seemed to find in the freedom, daring, and expansiveness of this emerging style of jazz. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

As I gaze 'round the house I see books.
They're on tables and shelves and in nooks.
Some day soon, I would bet,
I'll bag the TV and Net.
And give written word more than just looks. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/20: Kidneys and Poetry, Fire Relief for Animals, Tree House Concert BONUS: A Limerick by Stu

Note: For a fleeting moment today, sunlight shone through the glass squares on upper half of our front door, casting a shadow on the hardwood floor.  The smoke was not quite as heavy today. 

1. This morning, I watched a National Kidney Foundation webinar on kidney transplantation, eager to further assess my decision to decline the offer of a kidney last month. I'd say the program did what it should have: it cast doubt on my decision. The program, at times, emphasized the value of a preemptive transplant, that is, a transplant completed before the patient ever goes on dialysis. That's what my transplant would have been. But the webinar never brought up my specific situation. I feel great. I'm not experiencing the symptoms of kidney failure. Yes, I have moments of doubt -- which I'm fine with -- but most of the time, I think I made the right decision. I'm curious what Dr. Beiber will say. Today is the 15th -- I see him tomorrow. 

Later in the day I enjoyed the Billy Collins poetry broadcast more than I enjoyed the kidney webcast! I now know that the two poets I'd never heard of that Billy Collins read on Monday were Teresa McLamb and Maureen Oehler DuRant. I'm especially interested in buying Maureen Oehler DuRant's book, Skirmishes on the Okie-Irish Border, and finding out if other of her poems are as morbidly funny and deeply touching as the one Billy Collins read on Monday, "Made Up". The poem is about the speaker of the poem and her sisters not approving of how the mortician made up her mother after she died and tells how they go about correcting the mortician's work at the funeral home.  

2. When he flew off to New York with Debbie, Gibbs left behind much of a 30 lb bag of dry food and a few cans of wet food. Today I packed the dry food into several gallon sized zip lock bags and packed them, along with the cans of  wet food, into two boxes to send to Lucky Paws Rescue in Springfield, OR where this non-profit group is housing animals (dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, etc.) displaced by the fires up the McKenzie River, along with the other rescue animals they care for normally.  Lucky Paws Rescue also posted requests for animal vitamins and other items and I fulfilled those requests with two Amazon and two Chewy orders and had them shipped to Springfield. 

3 I thought Bill Davie gave a rip-roaring Tree House Concert tonight. He divided his selections tonight between some of my longtime favorite songs of his ("Sacred Ground", "Narrow Gate", Learn to Say Goodbye") and songs that don't reach back to the days when he performed a couple of concerts in my living room about twenty-five/seven years ago ("Summer Island", "The Blue Spruce Motel"). Bill reached back into the earlier days of the USA's folk revival and brilliantly and touchingly covered songs by Tom Paxton, Malvina Reynolds, and Pete Seeger. When he took his poetry break, Bill read more of the poems that comprise his Pandemic Suite and he read a handful of very short poems, sparks of verse, written by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison, from their book, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry.

A limerick by Stu:

There are those who are stuck in the past.
Who think a lot how they jumped and ran fast.
Yesterday's find for a stroll,
But, look ahead for your goal.
Or the next race that's run you'll be last. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/20: New Poets, Family Dinner, Lucky Paws BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: Smoke made itself at home in the Silver Valley today.

1.  I had a good time listening to the Billy Collins poetry broadcast today. His wife, Suzannah, posts the poems he reads each day when the broadcast is over, but she was under the weather today. As of now, she hasn't posted the poems or the poets from Monday's broadcast. So, when I write in this blog tomorrow, if all goes well for Suzannah, I'll be able to note the names of two poets Billy Collins introduced.  I'd like to have a record of them -- and if Suzannah doesn't write the update, I'll go back and listen to the broadcast again.

2. Christy fixed one of my favorite of all family dinners for late this afternoon. Carol, Paul, Everett, Christy, and I made ourselves comfortable in Christy's she shed to enjoy it together. We started by pouring glasses of bourbon lemonade from a pitcher. Christy made the lemonade from scratch and it was a most enjoyable and refreshing cocktail. 

Before long, she and Paul brought the main course into the she shed. Christy made two salads, a delicious potato salad and an awesome Mexican street corn salad to complement the tender, flavorful slow cooked bbq chicken drumsticks she prepared. She made quite a few of those drumsticks and it was all I could do to stop myself from eating the entire platter after the others had served themselves. Likewise, if I could eat the way I could when I was younger, I would have eaten additional heaps of both salads. 

For dessert, Christy baked a moist and tasty Amaretto pound cake with a spot of Amaretto liqueur to drink with it. Perfect. 

There was a time in her life when Christy spent a lot of time out at Rose Lake, way beyond our family's occasional visits, way beyond the annual 4th of July party out there. This past week she and Joyce L., who spent many summers with her family at Rose Lake, went out to the lake to spend time on the Jacobs' deck with Carol Lee. I don't know how long it had been since Christy visited Rose Lake, but much of our conversation tonight centered on Rose Lake/Park Road history -- who lived where, who lives there now, what remodels have happened, what new structures have been built and so on.  I realized while Christy was looking back and contrasting the past to the present, that I never kept all that straight when I visited Rose Lake. I knew where the Turnbows' cabin was because that was party central, but it didn't really stick in my mind, then or now, where all these other people lived. I think my silence during much of the conversation last night had two sources: one, I didn't have much to contribute, except an occasional wise crack and, two, I was in awe of how much Christy remembered and knew. She was a living Rose Lake Park Road atlas! Very impressive! 

3. After dinner, I spent time reading the animal rescue work that a non-profit in Springfield, OR called Lucky Paws is doing, not only with animals in the Eugene-Springfield area, but as they send volunteers into the McKenzie River Valley searching for animals who have survived (or are surviving) the Holiday Camp Fire. I'm going to help them out a bit. I'll wait until I've actually done it to write about what I have in mind. Likewise, I want to donate some aid to Paul's brother and sister-in-law whose residence at Harbick Country Inn was spared by the fire and who are now volunteering at Harbick's which has become a kind of command center in the Blue River/Rainbow area. At tHarbick's, firefighters and others can eat, and portable stations have been set up so these workers can shower, use toilets, wash their hands, and enjoy other relief from their arduous work. 


A limerick by Stu:

The great geniuses all provoke thought. 
For ideas their conclusions are sought. 
In Music or Space, 
Maybe it’s Math they embrace? 
Or invent something we use a lot.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/20: Tennis Warriors, Temperament, Juice Sr. BONUS A Limerick by Stu

Note: The smoke lay thick in the Silver Valley all day.

1. I tuned into the U. S. Open finals match between Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem. I gave the early parts and the last parts of the match my full attention, but for most of the match, I was focused on talking with Bill, Diane, Val, and Bridgit while we were on ZOOM.  I was aware, though, that Zverev got off to a blazing start, winning the first two sets and that Thiem dug in and won the next two sets, extending the match to a decisive fifth set. The fifth set was tied after twelve games and so the match had to be decided by a tiebreaker. 

By this time I was no longer on ZOOM and I was blown away by what I witnessed. Dominic Thiem's legs were beginning to cramp and in between points he was jogging in place, keeping his legs moving, trying to prevent them from locking up. His gait looked like a penguin's (I thought he was moving around like Ron Cey.) Alexander Zverev was also showing the strain of a four hour match. I learned later that his left quad was beginning to seize up, costing him some speed on his powerful serve.

When athletes in any sport gut it out and play with determination and skill even as their bodies are breaking down, we often call them warriors. As the tiebreaker progressed, that's what I felt I was witnessing: two elite athletes having their overworked muscles betraying them, but both figuring out ways to continue to play, playing fiercely, trying not to surrender to the pain and immobility, and both willing to push themselves until one of them prevailed in this tiebreaker.

In the end, Dominic Thiem prevailed. He collapsed on the court. His face expressed disbelief, ecstasy, and exhaustion. He stared for a few minutes at the heavens before lifting himself back to his feet and accepting congratulations from and extending condolences to his close friend, Alexander Zverev. I thought the two playes were on the verge of collapsing into each others' arms in a moment of mutual admiration usually reserved for combatants in mythological epics. Their grace moved me.

2. We had a lot to talk about in our ZOOM discussion. Early on, we talked about Billy Collins' poetry broadcast he gave on Friday -- the one I wrote about on Saturday. We went back nineteen years and talked about what we experienced on September 11, 2001 and in the days that followed. I'd say that each of us tried to come to grips with the death and destruction of that catastrophic day in quiet ways. I know on the Sunday after the catastrophe, after Bishop John Thorton delivered a moving sermon and we arrived at the moment in the liturgy when we recite the Lord's Prayer together, that he invited us to join hands. The entire congregation accepted the invitation so that we weren't merely holding hands with our pew mates, but the entirety of the congregation were joined physically as one. 

I tend to think that so much of how we respond to things has to do with temperament, even more than, say, beliefs. My temperament as a person doesn't seem to fit well with more traditional expressions of patriotism. I can't explain it. I wasn't brought up this way. It's just the way I am, I guess. I feel surges of affection for the USA when I do things like read Walt Whitman, drive across the USA and see our country's many landscapes and marvel at the miles and miles of open spaces, when I go on day hikes, and when I'm in big cities and feel the vitality and energy of so many different people from all over the world. I felt the most attuned to being a citizen of the USA when I lived in Maryland and when I visited Washington, D. C., New York City, Baltimore, and Savannah, GA. 

It's my temperament, I guess. I didn't come to experience things this way by the way I was raised at home, by how I was educated as a kid, or by the community I grew up in.  I can't explain it. 

Our ZOOM discussion veered in other directions, too. We talked about those things on so many people's minds right now, the upcoming election and fires and other things on our minds like understanding the world through mythology, the nourishing value of Bill's Tuesday night concerts, what we've been reading, and how much we enjoy each other and relish these ZOOM meetings every two weeks. 

3. I really don't enjoy drinking beer or cocktails alone. With Debbie helping Adrienne, Josh, Ellie, and Jack in New York, I hardly ever drink anything here at home, where I'm spending much of my time. And, yet, I have quite a few cans of beer from Oregon in the refrigerator that Patrick brought me last weekend. So, today, I had some drinking company during the ZOOM discussion. Bill was sipping on a single malt scotch. Val was enjoying a few fingers of Plantation Pineapple Rum. I joined in and cracked open a can of Great Notion's Juice Sr, a New England style Triple IPA, weighing in at 10.5% ABV. 

This beer exploded with juicy flavors and made me grateful that I'm alive during a time of so much innovation in the brewing of beer. The beer's juiciness was balanced by just the right amount of bitter aftertaste, meaning that I didn't feel like I was drinking a Hi-C fruit drink, but that I was enjoying a sturdy, tasty, relaxing, real deal New England style IPA!   

Here's a limerick by Stu:

Wish it were always today, don't deny it.
But, those craving attention won't buy it.
Noise hurting our heads,
From when leaving our beds.
It seems little to ask for some quiet.

National Quiet Day (UK)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/20: Osaka Wins, *King of Hearts* and Cinema 7, Good for Debbie! BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: Today smoke from the fires out here in the west rolled into Kellogg and grew thicker as the day progressed. I'm staying indoors, windows and doors shut, and, so far, the smoke has stayed outside. 

1. This afternoon, I watched some tennis as Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka played for the championship of the U.S. Open. I hadn't seen Naomi Osaka play since her 2018 finals win over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka has been entangled in a prolonged dispute over the custody of her son and it's kept her from playing much tennis recently. In other words, I didn't know what to expect as this match began. Even without having any expectations, I was stunned by the first set: Azarenka steamrolled Osaka, 6-1. Azarenka's serve was nearly perfect (she put 16 of her first 17 serves in play) and Osaka undermined herself with 13 unforced errors.

Honestly, it looked it might be a quick afternoon. Osaka lost her first service game of the second set, but broke Azarenka's serve back immediately and it appeared something fell into place for Osaka. She began serving more confidently, eliminated the high number of unforced errors, began peppering Azarenka with pinpoint shots, both in returning serve and during rallies, and her confidence built. 

It had been twenty-five years since a player in the women's final of the U.S. Open had dropped the first set and come back to win the next two and capture the title. Naomi Osaka did just that today. In those second two sets her serves and her shots back to Azarenka were relentless, taxing Azarenka, keeping pressure on her. In the end, Osaka's power and accuracy prevailed, and she won her second U.S. Open title, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

2. When I moved to Eugene in 1979, I was eager to live in a university town. I have to admit, though, that I was scared of graduate school and spent way too much time on my school work and didn't take as much advantage of the cultural wealth of Eugene as I might have. 

That said, upon arriving in Eugene in August, about a month before school started, I discovered a tiny movie theater located downtown called Cinema 7. Cinema 7 showed international movies, off the beaten track US movies, revival movies, and film classics from decades ago. It also hosted a live theater project, "Live Matinee".   As I remember, Cinema 7 turned its movies over fairly frequently, so if a person really wanted to see something, it was necessary to get there quickly. I liked this approach because  it meant a lot of movies were coming and going.  Cinema 7 also featured double features -- not all the time -- but fairly often and I loved going to these.

I have no way of documenting what I'm about to claim with any certainty, but here's what I remember.

While living in Spokane and attending and working at Whitworth College, I'd heard people rave about a movie that had been made and released in France in 1966 entitled, King of Hearts. It hadn't done well when first released in France, but once it was revived in small theaters like the Cinema 7 in the USA, it had become very popular among art house movie goers -- making it what came to be known as a "cult classic". 

Well, as good fortune would have it, I noticed, soon after arriving in Eugene, that King of Hearts was showing (being revived) at Cinema 7 and, I think, it's the first movie I saw in that theater.

I remember loving it. I remember the feeling of exhilaration sitting in that little theater gave me as I anticipated watching this movie and the promise of many more out of the mainstream movies to come. Oddly, though, that day forty-one years ago was the first and last time I watched King of Hearts.

Ah! This afternoon, however, I watched it again.

I don't want to give a lot of the movie away, but let me, at least, divulge the movie's setting and premise and make a few comments about it.

It's set in and near a village in the north of France as WWI is nearing its end. 

The village houses an asylum.

Under threat that the village will be blown up, the villagers desert the place. The gates to the asylum are left unlocked. With the villagers gone, the men and women in the asylum take over the village.

They are joined by a "sane" French speaking Scottish soldier (played by Alan Bates) who has been sent to the village to save it from being blown up.

I don't want to reveal in any detail what happens when the inmates of the asylum take over the village. It is too delightful, zany, uplifting, surreal, weird, and full of vitality to spoil by revealing particulars. 

I will say, though, as I watched it today, I remembered moments at the Oregon Country Fair when I was walking along a trail and suddenly a boisterous marching band appeared or attendees dressed like fairies appeared out of nowhere to dance and sing and I thought of old Eugene Celebration parades and the Rickies. I thought of Slug Queen pageants. I thought of my year of taking improv classes, of later being in plays and how at rehearsals or in other down times actors would break into improvised scenes, guileless, mirthful, spirited moments of invention and vigor. I thought of the joy and absurd theater of Babes with Axes singing "Bears in the City". I thought of uptown Kellogg during Krazy Daze back when I was a kid. 

Tender, dreamy, mirthful, kind, energetic, subversive, and wish fulfilling, King of Hearts explores goodness and vitality, lets loose the impulses we have to dance, sing, make music, put on costumes, improvise, be free, celebrate, accept, be untethered, to be spontaneous, to get our Maude on, all in a time when war, violence, and destruction are both nearby and present. 

I loved seeing this movie again and loved remembering climbing up the stairs in Eugene's Atrium to the tiny Cinema 7, with a reproduction of Betty Boop next to the door into the theater, and, until it closed in 1987, watching many of the best movies I've seen in my entire life. 

I went to Cinema 7 the night it showed its last movie. As it turns out, the first and last movies I saw at Cinema 7 were movies about kings: King of Hearts and The Man Who Would be King. (By the way, also in 1979, I had seen The Man Who Would be King as part of a Sean Connery double feature one Sunday afternoon at Cinema 7. It played alongside Robin and Marian.) 

(Note to myself: it would be fun to replicate that Sunday matinee double feature one day here at home -- I wish I could do it with the three people I was with to see these, and many other movies, starting 41 years ago until 1981, but, alas, we don't know each other any longer.)

3. Earlier in the day, Debbie sent me pictures from New York that roused in me much happiness and deep longing. She and Josh headed north of Valley Cottage, NY and visited three (right?) breweries. Debbie didn't say much about the breweries (no problem), but judging from the pictures, they all looked like rural breweries, maybe even farmhouse breweries. Each brewery was in the country. Each was surrounded by large tracts of land. Each had outdoor seating with the tables set a good distance apart from each other. It was a glorious day in New York. The sky was open and nearly cloudless and Debbie wrote that it was perfect.  I'm happy Debbie and Josh had an outing and that Debbie drank delicious fresh beer; the pictures made me long to be in New York, or anywhere I'd been back east, where such mild days and such good beer are glorious.  

Here's a limerick by Stu:

This smoky cloud's bad we must say.
And it stinks when it's dark and still day.
But, if you look at the cost,
Of what those burned out have lost.
You just can't compare it, no way! 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/20: Billy Collins Commemorates the Catastrophe, Continued, Bean Rice Meal BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, either because I was out of the house or I was taking a mid-afternoon nap, I missed three Billy Collins Poetry Broadcasts in a row. This morning, I listened to them all. I'm finding that I'm mentally at my best in the morning and so I had plenty of mental stamina to take in three broadcasts in a row.

I tuned into Friday's broadcast live - he comes on around 2:31 or 2:32 or 2:33 PST, Monday through Friday (and takes every other Wednesday off).

As I tuned in, I wasn't thinking about it being the 19th anniversary of the blowing up of the World Trade Center buildings, the destruction caused by a jet plane flying into the Pentagon, or the crash of United Flight 93. I knew today was the anniversary, but my mind was much more occupied by learning more news about the Holiday Farm and other fires in Oregon and about family matters. Gibbs just got groomed. I'd been enjoying pictures Debbie sent me of his new look and thinking about how happy I am that Gibbs and Ellie get along so well. 

But the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were on Billy Collins' mind today. He took us back to September 6, 2002. On that day, a Special Joint Session of the United States Congress took place at Federal Hall in New York City as an act of support for New York and as a way of remembering the victims of the catastrophe. Billy Collins was the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-03. The Librarian of Congress asked Billy Collins to write a poem for this Congressional meeting. At first, he didn't think he could do it -- he wanted to write an authentic poem in his own voice, employing his own style, and it didn't seem to him that his way of writing poetry was in keeping with the predominant ways the catastrophe had been commemorated since it happened. When the request was made, he talked to three government people and they told him what the poem should include -- a tribute to the first responders, hope for the future of the USA, and other similar means of tribute the country was accustomed to.

It moved me that Billy Collins could not write the poem he was asked to write. In the aftermath of the catastrophe, I experienced much of the national response as bellicose and vengeful. Personally, these demonstrations left me cold. I felt the country sporting for a fight, eager to get revenge. I kept hearing that the people of our country had been drawn together by this catastrophe, but I was experiencing a lot of division, especially as individuals' and institutions' patriotism was being called into question if they questioned the national security measures the government imposed and the different rationales for going to war. I experienced the violence, both physical and verbal, imposed upon Muslims (and other non-Muslim brown-skinned people) and mosques especially ugly and divisive. (I still do.) 

To his credit, Billy Collins rose to the occasion and wrote a poem for the Sept. 6, 2002 joint session. He didn't write a poem employing the images or descriptions we all had become accustomed to seeing and hearing in the days, weeks, and months following the catastrophe. He didn't write about first responders. He didn't invoke our country's flag. He didn't write about fear, freedom, remembering, not forgetting, heroism, or destruction.

His poem is entitled The "Names". In the course of the poem he names, alphabetically, the last names of twenty-five people killed, letter by letter, leaving out only the letter X. I won't give away what he does with the letter X.

For me, the poem explores how these deaths get into our consciousness and we see the deaths all around us: in rain droplets, the sky, in photographs, willows, everywhere. They are the names of mothers, fathers, citizens, sons, daughters. 

Today, listening to Billy Collins read "The Names" made the catastrophe intimate. The poem touched me in a way I've longed for, very similar to how I felt in 2012 when I visited St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan.  St. Paul's was miraculously undamaged by the nearby explosions at the World Trade Center. Soon it became a place of sanctuary where rescuers, firefighters, and police came to rest, clean up, eat, pray, worship. 

I don't know much about the equipment these workers had attached to them when they came into the chapel. But, I do know that the equipment left scratch marks on the pews at St. Paul's and that those scratch marks, a lasting memorial to the fatigue, longing for refreshment, and the need for spiritual sustenance made a more lasting impression on me than anything else I saw in the vicinity of Ground Zero.

Like the images and names in Billy Collins' poem, those scratch marks conveyed something intimate to me, something close to the insides of the tired bodies and weary souls of these workers, a particular, indelible sign of the catastrophe's toll that I'll never forget.

(If you want to hear Billy Collins read "The Names", just put the words Billy Collins The Names into your favorite search engine and you'll have results in no time.)

2. In this broadcast, Billy Collins took us more deeply into the catastrophe with his reading of the poem, "Photograph from September 11" by Wislawa Szymborska, an intimate freezing of those who jumped from the World Trade Center's burning heights. He then read three poems by Mary Oliver, all of which deepened the emotion of this broadcast. I thought each, in its own indirect way, took us back to the catastrophe and helped us delve further into its emotional and spiritual impact, even though not one of these poems focused directly on those terrible events. The Mary Oliver poems: "Wild Geese", "Praying", and "The Summer Day". 

Billy Collins ended the broadcast by deftly moving our attention and feelings to something lighter. In his poem, "Down on the Farm", Billy Collins muses about the puzzling phenomenon of Tennessee fainting goats.

One more thing: Billy Collins plays and comments on different jazz artists and tunes to begin and end his broadcasts, and today, for the first time, I heard the sublime tune, "Chelsea Bridge", played by pianist Tommy Flanagan. 

My world keeps growing.

3. After so much poetry, I needed some physical activity and turned my attention to the kitchen. I had a surplus of yellow onions and I didn't want them to go bad, so I chopped them in the food processor and froze them.

I also put a clove of minced garlic in hot olive oil. When it started to turn golden, I add a chopped onion and chopped gold potato. These cooked up for a while and then I added some leftover brown rice and a can of black beans seasoned with garlic salt and cumin. After all these ingredients cooked for a while, I served myself a bowlful, topped it with Yellowbird Serrano Hot Sauce, enjoyed my meal, and took an acrostic puzzle into my bedroom and worked it out on the bed, in the prone position. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

Observations from having a phone.
Number of calls from recordings has grown.
Voices all sound the same,
You've been hacked, give your name.
With an accent that's from parts unknown.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/20: Lab Work, Errands, Dinner Salad BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. I drank a bunch of water and went to the clinic uptown to have lab work done in preparation for next week's appointment with Dr. Bieber, nephrologist. Now some tension begins to build. Because I can't tell anything, at this point, about how my kidneys are functioning by how I feel, I'm never at all sure what to expect to learn when my blood work comes back. I do my best to busy myself, occupy my mind with other things, but I always experience low grade anxiety as I await the lab results. 

2.  I took care of a couple of things that I've been slow to get to. Debbie left behind some things to be donated to St. Vincent de Paul's and I took care of that and I got a package ready to send Debbie in New York. Then I dropped it. The box tore apart. I tried to repair it and my efforts were futile. The box was a goner.  In the afternoon, Christy told me she had some boxes out by her wood pile. I found one, packed up Debbie's things again, and I'll mail it Friday morning. 

3. I had fun making myself a salad for dinner. In the bottom of the salad bowl I combined some avocado oil with pomegranate balsamic vinegar. I added garlic salt and oregano along with feta cheese, Kalamata olives, green onion, the juice of half a lemon, and some fairly finely chopped celery. I mixed this all together and then chopped up some Romaine lettuce, added it to the bowl, mixed it all up (I guess I tossed it) and it was both delicious with its complex of flavors and filling. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

You would think that this is the day.
That anger and hate could belay.
We we're all parts of the whole,
With a share common goal.
A fair shot in the US of A!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/20: Drive to Jordan Saddle, Relaxing, The Cardinals BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 Note: Several people responded with supportive comments to my blog post's prelude yesterday and I'm grateful for your encouraging comments. Thank you very much.

1. I drove out to Ed's house in Kingston around 9:00 this morning and we headed upriver and turned off the CdA River Road at Shoshone Creek and wound our way up to Jordan Saddle and a ways beyond before Ed decided the road's condition was so sketchy that it was best to turn around and retrace our route. We had a great time yakkin' about all kinds of things, stopping at a McGillvary job site right by the Snake Pit to say hello to the guys I used to join for Friday morning breakfast, and enjoying the arresting forest scenery on this mild late summer day.

2. Back home, I relaxed by finishing the leftover green tomato curry I hadn't put in the freezer over rice. This late lunch relaxed me so completely that I crawled back to bed and took a deep and refreshing nap.

3. I also enjoyed a message exchange with Stu about NIC basketball in 72-74. Stu raised some questions about the 73-74 season that I couldn't answer -- things in the past are getting fuzzier and fuzzier for me -- and I'm thinking I might do some searching on the World Wide Web to see if I can find some box scores or even some newspaper stories about some of those games. 

A limerick by Stu:

A dog is a pooch you can pet.
Or a team picked to lose from a bet.
So just for a prank,
Change that name to "Frank",
Add a bun, for a meal, it's no sweat. 

National Hot Dog Day

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/20: (Fire Prelude), Upriver, *The Chef Show*, Not Here Now BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 I write this daily blog because it seems to be good for my spirit to write about things that I do or that happen every day that I enjoy, that bring me pleasure, or that are worth remembering. It's been helpful more times than I can count to have this record of my day to day life to refer to when things have come up in conversation or I have just wanted to recall what was going on at a certain time.

As I write this blog for 09/08/20, I will write about things I enjoyed on this day in the small world of my life. 

But, late in the afternoon, I began to learn more and more about the Holiday Farm Fire burning east of Springfield and Eugene, about one friend's newly built cabin that was burned to the ground and about another friend who has evacuated her home on the McKenzie River and has no idea if the house has burned or not. I know that if I still lived in the country, several miles past Marcola, OR, where I lived from June 1989 through Novemeber of 1990 that I would be under orders to evacuate immediately. I know the fire is moving toward Springfield and that the Thurston area is on alert. The shelter that had been established at Thurston High School has been moved to Springfield High. 

There's more. And it's weighing heavily on me. I lived in this area for nearly thirty-five years and the welfare of many people I know and the countless people I don't know is preoccupying me, dominating my thoughts. (This is true of fires affecting Everett's family near Inchelium, WA, too, of the fire that's caused evacuation in Lincoln City, OR, and of other fires in the Pacific Northwest.)

I've wondered if I should suspend this blog for the time being. 

I'm not going to. 

I'm not oblivious to the frightening and heartbreaking impact of these fires. I am not blithely blogging while Holiday Farm Fire and other fires burn. Blogging, yes. Blithely, no. 

I don't have any words that feel right for those who might read this blog and have suffered property loss or displacement; I have no words that feel right to express my fervent hope that the Holiday Farm Fire can be slowed down before it reaches Springfield and Eugene nor do I have the right words to express my fervent hope that the other fires can be contained.

I hope. I pray. I am mindful of the terrible time so many are having and of the arduous work that lies ahead for those fighting these fires.

So, while Tuesday was a terrible and frightening day in the larger world outside my little life, here are some things that happened in my tiny world that I'm grateful for:

1. After two postponements,  Byrdman and I met at the trailhead in Enaville across from the Snake Pit at around 9:30 and I piled into his pickup and we headed to his family's (and the Carrico family's) cabin up the North Fork a couple miles short of Prichard. Before leaving, I got out a small cooler and packed a pint can of Bombastic Brewing's Wisdom, their new hazy IPA, a bomber of Breakside's Wanderlust IPA, and a bomber of Breakside's Tastes Like Vinyl Sounds IPA. I also brought snacks to munch on while we enjoyed these beers.

We arrived at the cabin and set ourselves up along the riverbank in what just might have been the most peaceful and relaxing spot in the entire USA. The river sauntered along hypnotically, the temperature was perfectly mild, and Byrdman set up a little music system so we could listen to classic tunes broadcast on satellite radio. 

Byrdman recommended we start our sinking into bliss by each consuming an icy Prichard Mai Tai. I got about halfway through mine and told Byrdman that I'd like to save the second half for after we drank our beer. So that's what we did.

I served the citrus forward hazy IPA and then we worked our way through the two splendid Breakside IPAs. We soaked up the idyllic scenery, grooved to the tunes from our (much) younger days, looked at photos of old friends that Byrdman had loaded on his cell phone, and yakked about all kinds of things from the deep past and in the fraught present. 

It's hard to imagine spending time any more blissfully, but, alas, all good things must end someday (autumn leaves must fall) and we packed up, piled back into the pickup, started our trip back to Enaville, talked about the great players in the old ABA, and finished off the very bottom of a bottle of premixed peach maragritas Byrdman found in the cabin as we were preparing to leave. 

2. Back home, I relaxed some more, decided I would watch Tuesday's Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast on Wednesday, and ate some leftovers, enjoyed some cookie dough ice cream, took a nap, and decided to watch another episode of The Chef Show. 

It was a lot of fun. Jon Favreau and Roy Choi stuck around Las Vegas and visited chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger at the Border Grill. The chefs were upbeat, full of fun, good humor, and great cooking tips for preparing different dishes from Mexico, Peru, and elsewhere. While I'm not equipped at home to fix the food they made with Jon Favreau and Roy Choi, I enjoyed the verve and vitality of this episode and wanted to do some kind of tele-travel into the kitchen where this episode was filmed and dive into the great food they prepared. 

(By the way, I saw that someone reviewed this program and contemptuously snarked at its tired format. Well, it's not tired to me! I've watched two episodes. I've enjoyed the interactions between the people cooking, have learned more about cooking itself, and was delightfully entertained. Take if from someone who is easy to please (that's me!), if you are in a jolly mood or looking to put into one, I think this show might work for you. But, I guess I can imagine that for certain rather mirthless viewers, it might just seem tired. <Shrug>)

3. By the time 7:00 rolled around, I'd absorbed quite a bit of news regarding the fires in the McKenzie River valley, the loss of the towns of Vida and Blue River, the threats to Leaburg and Walterville, among other places, the loss of my friends' family cabin,and the displacement of another friend. Questions about other people living on or near the McKenzie River swirled in my mind. I viewed many pictures posted by friends of the thick smoke that had descended upon Springfield and Eugene. The Troxstar texted me some updates. 

Every day, I do my best to focus my attention on what is before me, to, as Ram Dass famously said, "Be here now".  

As Bill Davie's Tree House Concert started tonight, my mind was not in the present. My thoughts and the feelings of anxiety I was experiencing were with the city where I lived all those years and my friends from LCC, the theater world, St. Mary's Church, the taprooms, and elsewhere.

Part of my attention was on Bill's concert and I knew he was giving a splendid concert and that he was reaching out with his kindness and concern to people who are also in fire country out in the general area of Omak and the Methow Valley (where Bill lived for many years). Bill's song selections were right on, his poetry was terrific, and so were the poems he read by Ron Koertge. But, I think, at some point, I'll go to YouTube and listen to it all again, listen when I'm paying better attention and my mind is emptier, not so crowded with wondering so much about these fires, especially in Oregon and near Inchelium in northeastern Washington state. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

Is Civics taught in school anymore?
Has Home Ec been thrown out the door?
Has Long Division's time past,
And no need to "Type" fast?
Is it still two plus two equals four?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/20: Loved *Chef*, Garden Fresh Family Dinner, Billy Collins and Old Movies BONUS A Limerick by Stu

Jazz update: Yesterday, as I wrote about Sunday, I forgot to write that all day long I listened to the daring and often disjointed, but always ingenious, sounds of Eric Dolphy and took special pleasure in listening to his exploration of the bass clarinet as a jazz instrument.

Monday's morning music: Aja, Steely Dan.

1. Byrdman and I were going to go on an outing today, but we mutually agreed to postpone it because of the high winds roaring in North Idaho and Eastern Washington (and elsewhere in the region). I was in a food movie mood after watching Big Night last night, so this morning I watched Chef, a movie starring and directed by Jon Favreau. In it, Favreau plays a high-powered chef who, for a variety of reasons, has had it with the high end restaurant business and decides to open a food truck. His great cooking and personal friend, Martin (John Leguizamo) and his pre-teen son Percy (Emjay Anthony) join him in his new venture.

This movie uplifted me. It's a superbly cast movie with a splendid comic script. Like many comedies, from my point of view, it's a movie built on how we wish things could be in life more than it's a realistic movie and that worked beautifully for me. The movie's soundtrack is varied and often exhilarating and this movie fired up my imagination about cooking. The food we see being prepared is awesome to look at and it's fun to watch characters in the movie enjoy it so much. 

Chef Roy Choi helped bring this movie into being as a co-producer and food consultant. In 2019, Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau teamed up and are featured in a Netflix series entitled, The Chef Show. This evening, I checked it out and watched Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau's visit to Chef Wolfgang Puck at his Las Vegas steakhouse, CUT.

I loved watching Chef Wolfgang Puck walk Jon Favreau through the process of perfectly preparing a variety of cuts of steak. I learned more about steak preparation and I realized, in a way I never had before, how crucial sophisticated kitchen equipment and high quality ingredients are for a high end restaurant like CUT. I thought and thought and dreamed and dreamed about how much fun it would be to cook on the kind of grill featured at CUT and to have access to the great variety of other equipment (and ingredients) featured in this half hour program.

Oh, well. I'll keep doing my best with what I got -- but I might buy a couple of new pans or something!

2. With Cubano sandwiches and brisket sliders dancing in my head after watching Chef, I arrived at Carol and Paul's to join them and Christy and Everett for family dinner. Carol prepared a meal that was focused on many foods harvested from her gardens. We started with a delicate and fresh salad and moved on to green beans and bacon, a compliment to the main dish, cabbage stuffed with beef, served in a delicious tomato sauce or broth, depending on one's point of view. We ended the evening drinking small pours from the bottle of Tuaca that Christy brought for us to share. It was a delicious and soothing digestif.

3. This afternoon I watched Dustin Johnson close out the 2020 PGA Tour Championship golf tournament, thus saving my viewing of the Billy Collins Poetry Broadcast until after dinner. I enjoyed the poems he read by Mark Strand, Pablo Neruda, and Katha Politt, all focused on pleasures and comforts: a pot roast, a pair of socks, and, at the end of her poem, Politt relishes the idea of a lost dog finding its home. Billy Collins also read two of his own poems, "I Ask You" and "Breathless".

In introducing "Breathless", Billy Collins commented a bit on the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard movie, Breathless. For me, the timing couldn't have been better. I am in the mood to watch movies made in France and Italy from the 1960s and 70s. In particular, I've had King of Hearts (1966) and Amarcord (1973) in mind, and now I'll add Breathless to my list.

I'm not only in the mood for these adventurous, innovative, and unusual older movies, I'm also in the mood to relive, as best I can in the tiny house I live in with our modest-sized Vizio screen, the experience of going to movies at my favorite micro-cinemas, namely The Magic Lantern in Spokane, the long shuttered Cinema 7 in Eugene, the nearly forty-year old Bijou Art Cinemas near the Univ of Oregon in Eugene, and the Broadway Metro in Eugene's downtown. Many of my most prized and exhilarating movie going experiences happened in these four theaters and I love trying to recreate being back in them simply by replaying at home movies I saw, or wish I'd seen, in these houses.

Here's a limerick by Stu:

So much we try to arrange.
So what's not in our plans we think strange.
We can be happily surprised,
Or face events we've despised.
But it's amazing how fast things can change.