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?

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