Monday, November 30, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-29-20: RIP James Everett Jolley, Young for So Long, Christy and Everett Together

1. Christy's husband, James Everett Jolley, died shortly after midnight. He was born on July 3, 1930 and died on November 30, 2020. 

Because Everett's care was being directed by Hospice of North Idaho and because the hospital staff is a bit more lenient on the weekends, Carol, Paul, and I got to spend several hours today with Christy and Everett. When I arrived this morning shortly after 10 a.m.,  Everett knew I was there, could barely speak, and was floating in and out of sleep. When they were done with church, Carol and Paul came to see Everett and I returned home, knowing, at this point, Everett was supposed to be limited to three visitors at a time. 

Carol and Paul sang hymns for Everett and prayed with Christy. Everett could no longer talk. 

Around 3:45 Christy called Carol, Paul, and me and asked us to return to the hospital. By listening to the rhythms and patterns of Everett's breathing, Everett's nurse said that Everett would likely pass away sooner than later. Under these circumstances, no one at the hospital objected to Carol, Paul, Christy, and me all being in his room at the same time. 

Carol and Paul sang more songs for Everett. I sat silently in deep thought and prayer. Everett's nurse and CNA checked in with us regularly. 

At around six o'clock, the night nurse and CNA took over Everett's care. We all waited for the new nurse to come in, met him, and said good by and thank you to the departing nurse and CNA.  Paul, Carol, and I went home, Christy stayed with Everett for another half an hour or so, and then she went home to make sure Riley was all right and to take care of some other things. While home, she was in regular contact with the night nurse and, for most of the evening, his condition didn't change a lot. Shortly after midnight, though, he quietly and peacefully passed from this life to the next. 

2. I thought a lot today about how Everett stayed so young for so long. I was amazed, as I thought back to 2015, when Christy and Everett moved from Martin Creek to Kellogg. It was a two day move and was nearly unbearably hot -- the temperature exceeded 100 degrees on the move's second day. Everett was 85 years old and worked just as hard, if not harder, than the rest of us hauling stuff, loading the U-Haul, and loading the cars and truck. Once Christy and Everett settled into Kellogg, Everett did tons of work around the house and in the garden and yard. He seemed indomitable.

But, over the last couple of years or so, he started to slow down. On October 31st, a month ago, he felt really sick and consented to making a visit to the ER. 

Knowing this, I asked Christy if she was going to request an ambulance. Everett absolutely did not want an ambulance. He said he just needed to gather himself and he'd be able to walk to the car. It took him quite a while to gather himself. I happened to look out my window as Everett, with Christy by his side, consenting to Everett's insistence that he didn't need any help by not touching him, and hobbled to their vehicle.

Everett had been housebound for a while and I hadn't seen him for a spell. I was taken aback by how feeble he looked, how gaunt, by how much he'd aged. He refused to use a cane or a walker as he shambled down the sidewalk.  Even with Christy right by his side, I felt anxiety. Could Everett make it to the vehicle? 

He did make it. Once at the ER, thank goodness, he consented to being taken into the hospital in a wheelchair. 

The contrast between Everett at 85 years of age in 2015 and Everett at 90 on Halloween thirty days ago and today was stark. None of us knew on the afternoon of Oct. 31st what lay ahead, but anyone who saw Everett that day knew that the illnesses he suffered had sapped him of physical strength, but not of his determination to get well again and return home. Over the last ten days or so, though, Everett's strong will began to relent his physical decline and today we witnessed his brave surrender as his life was coming to an end.

3. I also thought about and felt gratitude today for Christy and Everett's marriage. They married each other in August of 1997. From then until they moved to Kellogg in 2015, they lived a country life. They manured silty soil and established numerous flower beds and vegetable gardens. Everett made a gazebo out of a discarded satellite tv dish. Here, they could warm themselves next to a fire. They raised chickens (rabbits, too, I think), took in several dogs and cats over the years, and worked diligently year after year to improve their property.  Living in rural northeast Washington State afforded Christy and Everett many opportunities to get out and marvel at the area's natural splendor, to camp, and to enjoy exploring the area's small towns, the restaurants, second hand stores, and other rural pleasures. Oh! And how could I forget? They became unshakeable fans of the Gonzaga men's basketball team. 

They carried that same spirit of exploration to Kellogg when they moved here, and, when they could, ventured out into the beauty of North Idaho and Western Montana.

We all saw Christy's tireless devotion to Everett's well-being over the last few years as health problems began to plague him more frequently and as Christy stayed at his side as much as possible over the last month while Everett was hospitalized. Before that, Christy did all she could to help Everett eat well, provided him comfort whenever his body hurt, and did countless other things that enhanced the quality of his life and kept him going for so long. 

Everett has always been devoted to Christy. He took great pleasure in their activities together, cared for her when she suffered illness or was hospitalized, and was generous with his listening ear and compassionate understanding.  

Today, I enjoyed meditating on the loving companionship Everett and Christy shared so freely with each other over the course of their twenty-three years of marriage. 

With his sweet disposition, gentle heart, profound work ethic, fun sense of humor, and devotion to goodness, Everett was a huge presence, not only as Christy's husband, but as a member of our family. 

He leaves us with a void that can never be filled. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-28-20: Everett's Day, Music History, Couscous -->Hoops-->Rare Earth BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. Christy and Everett's nurses work together to manage Everett's pain. They've rearranged Everett's care and pain medication schedule in such a way that Everett is awake and alert more often in the early part of the day, less so in the afternoon and evening. Today, one of Everett's daughters and one his granddaughters got to see Everett. Christy also spent a lot of time with him. Christy came over to see me when her day of visiting Everett ended and discussed a variety of things related to this difficult time.

2. Early in the afternoon, I took off for about a half an hour walk on the trail to the high school and then down the Jacobs Gulch road and back home again. I listened to the third episode of the podcast, 1619, and it was, by far, the least brutal episode of this podcast and fit in nicely with my everlasting quest to understand the history of American music better and how much it's been influenced by African-Americans, from the beginning. The host of this podcast, Nikole Hannah-Jones, turned this entire episode over to Wesley Morris, a podcaster, writer, and social/music critic/historian I have read and listened to quite a bit over the years. His review of American popular music from minstrelsy to the present in this episode was awesome. 

I loved how he started his survey by telling a story about being at home with a friend, chopping vegetables, preparing dinner, and his friend asked him to put the Yacht Rock station on Pandora. The friend had an errand to run. As Morris, alone in his kitchen,  listened to the station featuring music by Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan, Toto, and others, he realized how much Yacht Rock, which is a subgenre of primarily white artists, is indebted to Black music, to the blues, jazz, gospel, and other influences. 

It was a brilliant way to kick off his jam-packed history lesson and it fit perfectly with other documentaries I've watched and podcasts I've listened to about American music in a fascinating way. 

It made my walk very enjoyable.

If you'd like to check out this episode, just click here

3. As dinner time approached, I stood in front of the opened refrigerator and imagined just what I might fix myself. I looked at the container of left over couscous and I thought, hmmm, salad. I put the couscous in a bowl, added raisins, chopped up a cucumber, and chopped up an apple - this was becoming promising.  I took out my plain yogurt, put some in a bowl, and made a dressing by adding cumin, honey, and cayenne pepper to the yogurt. I confess, I overdid the honey a bit, but no big deal, the yogurt dressing was great with the couscous, raisins, cucumber, and apple. I'll keep experimenting with this -- maybe get some help from recipes. I love rice salads and couscous salads so I'm very happy with the prospects that lie ahead.

As with so many aspects of life during the pandemic, college basketball is in some turmoil with different teams having to pull out of games because players or staff have test positive for Covid-19. Sometimes teams don't know who'll they'll play next until a day or two before the game happens. 

It's kind of like the way things work in the NCAA tournament.

For example, Villanova is in the bubble that's been created at the Mohegan Sun Casino Complex in Connecticut. They played games on Wednesday and Thursday and suddenly got offered a chance to play again on Saturday against Virginia Tech because their scheduled opponent, Temple, had to pull out.

Villanova entered the game ranked third in the nation. Virginia Tech entered the game unranked. 

Villanova seemed off their game, but they went up 52-40 with just under nine minutes to play. I thought Villanova would do what they often do, methodically and competently stretch this lead, but they didn't.

Virginia Tech chipped away. Late in the game Villanova missed crucial free throws and it looked like the Hokies had the game won until a freak play after the Hokies accidentally made a free throw resulted in a foul against VT. Justin Moore buried two free throws and game went into overtime.

Virginia Tech outscored the Wildcats 17-9 in OT, securing the upset. 

I switched gears after this game ended. I was watching a trailer of the movie, Serpico. In the trailer, a bit of Rod Stewart's version of the song "(I Know) I'm Losing You" was played and I immediately headed to YouTube and listened to a live extended version of the song played by the Faces, featuring Rod Stewart, Ronnie Woods, and others. Then I listened to Stewart's album version from Every Picture Tells a Story

I hadn't had enough. I love Rare Earth. I knew they played unreal extended versions of "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and I listened to one of them.  All three versions were great and transported me back to how I used to play this song in my head over and over again while pulling cathodes, stripping zinc, and stacking zinc back in the Zinc Plant cell room. It was, I guess, a way of helping me endure the toxic work I was doing. 

Here's a limerick by Stu:

You start with a courteous bow.  
Follow “Caller” as best you know how. 
Taking hands left and right, 
Keep your partner in sight. 
Back together when calls do allow. 

National Square Dance Day.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-27-20: Everett Update, Zags Waltz, *Reconstruction*

1. Everett was alert more often today than yesterday.  Christy spent much of the day with him. He slept quite a bit, but, when he was awake, he was pretty comfortable and was clear headed. He and Christy had conversations.  Everett made it clear how much he enjoys Christy's company and appreciates her devotion to his comfort.  I can't emphasize enough how good it is that Everett is in Kellogg, Christy is so close by, and that she is allowed to spend so much time with him. 

2.  Gonzaga's game with Auburn, played at Fort Meyers, FL,  featured an 8 a.m. (PST) tipoff. Auburn is a young team with a lot of talent, but raw. The more experienced Zags had little trouble establishing themselves as the superior team, weathered Auburn's barrage of three point shots, and waltzed to a 90-67 victory. Auburn had no answer for Drew Timme who scored 28 points nor for Corey Kisbert who knocked down 25. 

3. I fixed myself a couscous, spinach, green bean, and salmon bowl for dinner and, early in the evening, and I watched the last two hours of the PBS documentary series, Reconstruction. At the same time that Reconstruction was sobering and terrifying, especially its chronicling of the history of terrorism and lynching, it was inspiring to see Black leaders confront the cruelty, confront the awful insistence that, as Black people, African-Americans were, by nature, inferior and created by God to be subservient to white people. Intellectuals, artists, and especially photographers countered the white propaganda depicting Black people as stupid, lazy, savage, bumbling, ill-formed, and predatory (climaxed in the movie Birth of a Nation) with photographic images, essays, stories, poems, publications, original music, and other forms of expression that countered the propaganda and emphasized the dignity and intellectual and artistic abilities of African-Americans. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-26-20: Prayers Devotions Talking, Superb Thanksgiving Dinner, College BB Roundup

1.  Christy spent much of the day with Everett today. They spent time in the morning talking, praying, and sharing devotions written by Billy Graham. Everett asked about Riley. Later in the day, Paul brought Riley by Everett's window. Everett smiled. At lunchtime, a staff member served Christy and Everett a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. For Everett, it was a restful day. 

2. As planned, a plan I was completely at peace with, I spent Thanksgiving Day by myself today. I have done this in the past, even in times of sound public health. I was happy to play it safe, enjoy friends and family through online communications, and do some things here at home I enjoy, like drinking a delicious Double IPA from Great Notion Brewing, Sub Harmonics. These days, I rarely drink beer or any other alcohol when I'm home alone. I enjoy beer and cocktails a lot more when I'm in others' company, in person or on Zoom/Facebook Live. Today, I made an exception and enjoyed the juiciness and perfect bitterness of this beer a lot.

Carol, Paul, Zoe, and Jason delivered me (and Christy next door) a turkey dinner: turkey slices, oyster cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, orange candied sweet potatoes, homemade rolls, homemade cranberry apple butter, and a relish tray. 

As I served myself dinner out of the containers Carol and the others so lovingly packed my food in, I realized the gravy was the part of this dinner I had the highest hopes for.  For me, this meal would be as good as the gravy, the gravy I planned to pour over the mashed potatoes, turkey pieces, and dressing. I dipped a spoon into the turkey gravy to test it. I nearly wept. The gravy was perfect: meaty, smooth, just salty enough, and beautifully seasoned. I prepared my plate and dug in, with my next focus directed to the cornbread oyster dressing. It was a briny joy, rich, flavorful, like nothing I'd ever tasted before, especially on Thanksgiving. I love "regular" dressing, but I was mildly euphoric as I experienced the surprise and uniqueness of this dressing and the way the cornbread and oysters complemented (and complimented) each other. My turkey was moist, the sweet potatoes were mildly sweet and I loved the presence of the orange, and I poured a small puddle of cranberry apple butter on my plate and dipped my rolls into my tiny, tasty pool. I had a bottle of opened Sauvignon Blanc, left over from an earlier family dinner, and poured myself a small glass of it. 

This generous delivery also included three slices of pie: pecan, pumpkin, and apple.

After finishing my rich and mouthwatering turkey dinner, my aged digestive system begged me to pass on the pie tonight. I obeyed. My reward will be pie on Friday and, I'll bet, on into Saturday, too.

3. So, in writing this blog post, I saved writing about how I spent much of my day watching men's college basketball for my BT #3. 

I know not everyone who reads this blog is crazy about sports (no problem) and so I thought I'd provide, to use a metaphor I see and hear all the time in news reporting, an exit ramp for some of you to pull off this freeway and find your way back to however you are spending your day after Thanksgiving.

For those of you hanging around to continue reading, I loved watching two games in particular, Gonzaga vrs Kansas and Villanova vrs Arizona State.

I'll get to those games in a little while.

First, though, while I was waiting for the Villanova/ASU tilt, I rewatched an ESPN documentary that was being shown on the ACC Network entitled, The Class That Saved Coach K. I can understand how any of you know me might be surprised that I watched this documentary for the second time because you might know that I'm not a Duke basketball fan. Yes, I admire Coach K and his program, but I almost always pull for their opponents.

But, things at Duke were rocky for Coach K in the beginning. Two of his first three teams finished with losing records, including the 1982-83 team that featuring prize recruits Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, Johnny Dawkins, and David Henderson, among others.

I'll digress for a moment. When I was a college basketball fan in my youth, most players in college didn't  enter the NBA Draft until they'd completed their college eligibility. There were exceptions, but one of the great pleasures, for me, in watching college basketball in the 1970s and 1980s was not only watching players mature from their freshman or sophomore to their senior year, but to see rivalries intensify between players of the same class on competing teams. 

I bring this up because one of the things I enjoy about The Class That Saved Coach K is that the great recruiting class Coach K brought to Duke in 1982 had a lousy first season as freshmen, going 11-17. It's hard to imagine now, given Coach K's illustrious career, that in his early years at Duke, powerful donors and Blue Devil boosters were calling for Duke to fire and replace Mike Krzyzewski. Duke didn't. Gradually, Duke improved and, by the time Bilas, Alarie, Dawkins, and Henderson were seniors, they played for the NCAA title in 1986 (a game they lost, to my delight, to Louisville). 

In this documentary, I loved watching these players talk about growing up together and enjoyed listening to them talk about the pains they suffered from their freshman to senior seasons. 

In college basketball today, it's common for elite players to play their freshman season (the NBA mandates that U.S. players cannot be drafted until a year has passed since their high school graduation) and then leave school and turn professional. Philosophically, I have no problem with this; as a fan of college basketball, though, I'd love to see more of these players play longer in college. Now, that said, some less than elite, but superb, players play four years, and we fans get to see them develop from being boyish freshmen to becoming stronger, more mature seniors.

Three such players played today, and, I'd argue so did a fourth: Gonzaga's Corey Kisbert, Villanova's Collin Gillespie, and ASU's Remy Martin are all seniors and the Zags' Joel Ayayi is a redshirt junior -- this is his fourth year in Gonzaga's program.

Among other pleasures these two games gave me, I loved watching Kisbert, Gillespie, and Ayayi. Physically, they've all matured and time after time I noted the way they made smart plays based on their experience and savvy. Ayayi is the quietest of the three players. Although he doesn't have the ball in his hands as much as Kisbert or Gillespie, Ayayi makes great decisions, especially in the open court, and is a stout defender.

It was a bad Thanksgiving for Remy Martin. I've never seen him have such a tough game. It was a testament to Villanova's game plan defending him. Villanova crowded him, put bigger, agile defenders on him as often as possible, and made it nearly impossible for Remy Martin to get his game going.  He only scored five points. 

In fact, Villanova played just the way those of us who follow this team have become accustomed to. I might be nuts, but the more I watch Villanova, the more I'm reminded of the UCLA teams coached by John Wooden. It's not so much that they run similar offenses (Wooden's teams didn't have the three point shot available, for one thing) or similar defenses, per se, but it's the attention to fundamentals. The Villanova players are always in position when they receive the ball on offense, balanced, ready to shoot. The Villanova players play within themselves, almost always limit their efforts to what they can do well. Wild shots are rare. They are always aware of where their teammates are and not only look for well-chosen shots, but they are always looking for a teammate who might have a better shot. 

Point guard Collin Gillespie runs their offense, sometimes in an unusual way, backing his defender into the paint, sometimes scoring from near the iron and other times making passes as if he were a low post player, not a point guard. At the same time, their offensive production comes largely from sophomore forward, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a player who has matured remarkably from his freshman year to now He has a dead-eye jumper from 15-17 feet out from the middle of the floor, makes imaginative, fluid, and productive moves inside, and can, on occasion, bury a three-pointer. 

Much of Robinson-Earl's success is related to how Villanova is so adept at scoring from beyond the three point arc. Their opponents' defenses get stretched and if they dare double team Robinson-Earl, he is skilled at finding his unguarded teammates. 

Villanova is not a boring team, but they aren't flashy either. They are consistently competent. They rarely beat themselves; they are patient and often wait until deep into the shot clock to shoot;  often this patience pays off with high percentage shots - whether open three pointers, drives to the basket, or a Robinson-Earl midrange jump shot.

Ultimately, Villanova's consistency and sound fundamental basketball wore down ASU. ASU would have liked to have played at a faster pace, but it's hard to rush Villanova. In addition, Villanova is a great rebounding team and when ASU missed shots, they rarely snared an offensive board. Villanova, time after time, had those errant shots covered and ate them up. 

Similarly, Gonzaga is a fundamentally sound, unselfish team. Much like Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, the Zags' sophomore Drew Timme has developed his immense skills impressively since his freshman year. As I watch him, I wonder if, in a good way, he feels liberated, freer to operate with Filip Petrusev having moved on. One reason, of course, is that he's no longer a backup to Petrusev. But, last year, when Petrusev and Timme were on the floor together, Petrusev was the alpha player and he took up space -- with Petrusev having gone to Europe as a professional, Timme is the alpha player inside and doesn't have to share that real estate with anyone. Timme has very impressive footwork, a variety of shots, including the occasional outside jumper, and makes great use of the backboard on several of his shots. (I love to see players make bank shots!)

Complimenting and complementing Timme inside is Corey Kisbert outside.  Kisbert, who looks about five years older than a year ago and has become much stronger, especially in the upper body, is establishing that not only is he a three point threat, he can also drive aggressively to the hoop and finish. Timme and Kisbert both benefit greatly from the play of freshman point guard Jalen Suggs who, in his first two games, has established himself as a great ball handler, a wily and physical defender, a fearless driver to the tin, and an accomplished outside shooter. 

I think I'll write more about Anton Watson and return to Joel Ayayi in a future blog post. Watson's contributions are the quietest of the starting five, but I've seen plenty that I like in his contributions and I like the way he looks older and stronger than he did as a freshman. 

I forgot to post the scores. 

Gonzaga defeated Kansas, 102-90.

Villanova defeated Arizona State, 83-74. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-25-20: Afternoon Discussion, Kitchen Action, Villanova Prevails

1. Christy, Carol, and I met again this afternoon. Everett and Christy had conversation this morning. By the afternoon, Everett was sleeping comfortably. Christy will go to the hospital in the morning. She's hoping to watch the Zags/Kansas basketball game and to have the Thanksgiving dinner the hospital serves its patients around lunch time. 

2. Riley and I had a good morning and early afternoon together before Paul came by and took Riley for a run. Riley stayed over at Carol and Paul's until Christy, Carol, and I finished our afternoon discussion. I cleaned up the kitchen and packed a bag with the cornbread I made for the turkey stuffing for Carol and Paul and some food containers for Christy's and my Thanksgiving dinner (to be delivered). Then I made myself a tasty pasta bowl for dinner, retiring to the Vizio room. 

3. I missed a lot of college basketball action today, but early this evening I watched Villanova play Boston College. Boston College played Villanova tough for about thirty-four of the game's forty minutes with some sharp shooting, aggressive drives to the tin, and energetic defense. But, the Eagles couldn't sustain forty minutes of splendid play. Villanova patiently and methodically grinded away, came from behind, and, in Villanova fashion, by playing sound fundamental basketball and never showing any signs of panic, prevailed, 76-67. Villanova's team is stocked with experienced players; two of them, Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, are All-American caliber ballers. I am excited to see how the other teams in the Big East will match up against them once conference play begins.  Villanova will play Arizona State, led by another All-American player, Remy Martin. I'm eager to watch these two teams play, if I can, at 6:30 on Thanksgiving Day. 

* Yesterday I wrote that Jim Page performed from his house, but I couldn't remember the name of the den he performs in -- now I know: it's the Bobcat Den. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-24-20: Siblings Meeting, Riley, Jim Page and Bill Davie Perform Together

1. Christy, Carol, and I met at my house this afternoon and talked about where things are at with Everett, and, in turn, with Christy. We'll get together again at my house on Wednesday, the 25th. Christy was, today, and will be on Wednesday, in conversation with different people at the hospital, discussing Everett's condition, care, where he's made some progress, where not, and how to proceed. I might have more to report in my blog tomorrow. For now, suffice it to say that Everett and Christy talk together (even share the occasional latte) and he is spending some time out of bed sitting up in a wheelchair. I'll just add how happy I am that Christy is retired and has the time to spend many hours with Everett. Her encouragement and good company is a constant boost to Everett's spirits and he deeply appreciates all Christy is doing for him.

2. Riley is doing well, especially given all the activity happening around him. When Everett was in CdA and Riley stayed with me, it took him from 30 to 60 minutes to stop pacing, howling, and crying. Now he's restless when he first arrives in the living room, goes right to the window to watch Christy leave, and, once she's out of sight, he settles right down. Today, as he often does, Paul took Riley for a run. Riley stayed at Carol and Paul's during our family meeting. 

He's been a really good dog -- my impression over the years is that dogs thrive on regularity, things being as predictable as possible, and Riley has hung in there really well with Christy being gone during the day, going between my house and Carol and Paul's, and not having his life be quite as predictable as usual.

3. I poured myself a hot buttered rum, adding brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a little bit of Ghirardelli hot chocolate powder to the rum, hot water, and butter in my mug, and settled in for this week's Tree House Concert. Tonight, Bill Davie invited Jim Page to share the concert with him. Jim was at home, in the space he calls the something den, but I can't remember the name as I write this, and Bill was also at home in the Tree House. 

I've been listening to Jim Page for nearly at least thirty years -- he's been making music a lot longer than that. I'm not sure what words I would have used in the past to describe him outside of his being a genius song writer and a powerful performer. Tonight, I experienced Jim Page as soulful. His songs, as always were copious explorations of all regions of the soul, his, ours, and the collective soul. Jim's soulfulness, his quiet playing and singing, the power and range of his lyrics moved me. 

Bill also sang soulful songs tonight -- no surrealism, no razor blades raining down on Tacoma, no Micronesian bullets -- tonight he took us to the Puget Sound, to a rough patch as a father to his son, to the memory of his father, and other sources of deep feeling and experience.

Jim and Bill have been corresponding for a year and half or so in verse, following the path of Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison and their book, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry. 

I've been working my way, joyfully, through Jane Hirshfield's essay, "Seeing through Words: An Introduction to Basho, Haiku, and the Suppleness of Image". In writing a history of the haiku, Hirshfield spends some time writing about renga, a Japanese form of collaborative verse. The renga is a highly structured form of collaborative poetry in which poets build upon one another's verses, sending the developing poem back and forth.

Bill and Jim read a generous chunk of their correspondence in verse tonight. I experienced it as in the spirit of renga -- Bill and Jim's poems are in free verse; they aren't formal-- and loved listening to how they drew upon one another's poems and then left doors open for the the other to walk out of (or into) and develop another concept, insight, image cluster, memory, or idea. I am especially happy that I got to hear these poems. While I think they would be great to read silently or out loud to myself, they became animated works, living and breathing, as Bill and Jim gave them voice. 

What a superb two hours of songs and poems, a concert given by two friends who have been performing together, from time to time, for nearly thirty-five years and, even though they were in different rooms in different houses, conveyed their love for each other and their joy in performing together as powerfully as if they'd been side by side on a stage. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-23-20: Slow Process, Essays on Poetry, The Second Hour of *Reconstruction*

1. Rehab and recovery for Everett is a slow undertaking. Christy spent a lot of time with Everett today and reports some signs of gradual improvement in his blood work and in some of his physical movements. I think the best we can all hope for right now is that these slow improvements and Everett's overall stability continue.  

Riley stayed with me today. Early in the afternoon, Paul dropped by to take Riley for a run and they visited Everett's window at the hospital. I have to believe seeing Riley has got to be a boost to Everett's morale - Christy's pictures of these visits are a boost to mine! 

2. I ordered about half a dozen or so books from independent booksellers a while back through and and a couple others through Another one arrived today: Jane Hirshfield's Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. I'm bouncing around these days between reading history, watching history documentaries, and reading poetry and writings about poetry. The history material is brutal and reading poems and poetics gives my mind a rest from the harsh realities of Reconstruction and, my second current interest, the USA's expansion into lands west of the Mississippi.

The Hirshfield book is a series of essays, some of them lectures she's given, and I started with her piece, "What is American in Modern American Poetry?". I thoroughly enjoyed her survey of American poets breaking free of British and European forms and idioms and writing poems that have an American voice and that forge a national identity apart from the traditions of Europe. I love reading lines by and comments about Walt Whitman. I am always eager and hungry to learn more about Emily Dickinson's poetry and Jane Hirshfield helped me do that today. I enjoyed how, as she looked at some developments in 20th century poetry she highlighted the Imagists, the New York School of poetry, the Beats, experiments in expressionist poetry, and the work of the Confessional poets as she worked to give readers a sense of the many invigorating paths American poetry has travelled since Walt Whitman's breakthroughs in the 19th century. 

I'm still waiting for one more book, a book I used to love teaching from, entitled, The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa, edited by Robert Hass. Bill Moyers, in one of his poetry series, introduced me to Robert Hass and his devotion to translating and discussing the haiku. Hass delighted me and set my mind afire at the same time and I am eager to have his book back in the house again.

In preparation for its arrival, I read much of Jane Hirshfield's essay (in Ten Windows) on Basho, which is also an essay on the development of the haiku tradition in Japan and the immense contributions Basho made to this form of poetry. I'm stoked to be back into this style of poetry again after several years of being away.

3. For an hour or so this evening, I took a break from Jane Hirshfield and watched the second hour of the four hour PBS documentary series, Reconstruction. It was painful. During early years of Reconstruction, aided by the intervention of the federal government, conditions for the recently enslaved people improved economically, politically, and educationally. It wasn't long, though, before the backlash violently opposing Reconstruction asserted itself, primarily in the form of the Klu Klux Klan and other similar terrorists groups, and white people resentful of equality for these newly freed people went on the attack. The federal intervention weakened; laws written to protect Black people were not enforced; the violent and cruel campaigns to return the South to something more like the pre-Civil War conditions of white supremacy gained momentum and succeeded. 

My impression is that the two hours of viewing that lie ahead will explore the development of Jim Crow. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-22-20: Stable Day for Everett, Mellow Riley, Great Zoom Chat

1. It was a quiet day at Shoshone Medical Center. Everett did one round of physical therapy -- he'll return to a full schedule of therapies on Monday. Christy spent much of the day with Everett and things were stable again today. 

2. Riley spent the day with me. When he comes over, he's on his leash. I walk him around the house on his leash for a while upon his arrival. It seems to relax him. He didn't cry or howl today nor did he seem to wonder where he was or where Christy was. In fact, for almost the entire time he stayed here, Riley either sat in the chair next to mine, relaxed, lay on the love seat, relaxed, or lay on the floor, relaxed. He also napped off and on.

3. For today's every two weeks Zoom meeting, I joined Bill and Diane for a couple of hours of rousing conversation. We all have the delay of the transfer of power from one president to the next on our minds and talked about it, extensively, along with U. S. history. We also veered into conversation about poetry. Bill and I both recently purchased the anthology, Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic. A generous roster of poets contributed a single (in most cases) poem to this anthology and we agreed that the variety, the quality of the poems, and the fact that many of the poets are new to us makes this anthology valuable. We also talked a bit about Tuesday's upcoming Tree House Concert. It'll be an especially great one because Bill will be performing, by the magic of a split screen, alongside Jim Page. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-21-20: Short Update on Everett, Cotton Economy, Puzzle Time

1. I don't have anything significantly new to report about Everett. Overall, he was pretty stable today. Christy reported that the weekend physical therapist was great to work with. Everett was out of bed in a wheelchair for the early part of the afternoon until he wanted to get some shut eye around three o'clock. Christy returned home shortly after Everett fell asleep. 

2. I extended my walk a bit today. I walked up Jacobs Gulch to the high school and then came back home via the trail that connects the high school to Riverside Ave. and on to Cameron. I listened to the second episode of the podcast 1619, a conversation about the cotton economy after the invention of the cotton gin, and all that enslaved people contributed to that economy and what they suffered during times of peak production and during times of recession. It's a brutal story. 

3. I thought about returning to the documentary series, Reconstruction, this evening, but decided to let 1619 settle into my mind, not add more history to it, and so I went to bed really early and worked an acrostic puzzle, a great way to challenge and relax my mind at the same time before going to sleep. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-20-20: Everett Update, *1619*, Jeeves and Bertie

 1. This was Everett's third full day at Shoshone Medical Center. To better accommodate the different devices his medical team uses as aids to Everett's physical therapy, his team moved him to a larger room. Paul and Riley found the new room. Riley visiting from outside his window made Everett very happy again. Christy reports that a routine has developed in Everett's treatment, especially on M-F. Christy's latest update describes Everett and his situation as stable. Today, Christy returned home from the hospital a little bit earlier, with Everett's encouragement, which meant she could spend some quality time with Riley and get some much needed rest at the end of a demanding week. 

2. Over the last year, historians, politicians, and interested readers from all points of view have been discussing the project spearheaded by Nikole Hannah-Jones known as 1619. The New York Times Magazine published the project in August of 2019 and the newspaper published some accompanying material at the same time. I've never seen that August 14, 2019 issue of the magazine, but I have followed some of the discussion surrounding it. 

I was poking around in Podbean, the app I use to find and listen to podcasts. I was looking for podcasts that might be related to Reconstruction and to How the South Won the Civil War and the six episode podcast that grew out of 1619 popped up. I enjoy listening to podcasts when I go out walking, so while I walked down Riverside, jagged over to Cameron, headed up Jacobs Gulch, climbed the stairs below the Wellness Trail, and returned home via the trail to the high school and Riverside again, I listened to the first episode of 1619. It covered ground I was familiar with from other reading and other documentaries. That was good. The repetition helped fix this history more firmly in my memory. I enjoyed listening to another history that put the African-American experience at the center of the story of our country's history and I look forward to listening to the other five episodes and more walking.

3. The subject matter of my reading and viewing recently has been heavy. It will continue to be. But, on occasion, I like to take a break from all the seriousness (usually by watching sports) and did so this evening as I fixed myself a dinner that combined the tomato, tofu, chickpea mixture I made the other night with linguine. A couple of months ago, I added the audio file, The P. G. Wodehouse Collection to our library. It's quite an anthology of some of Wodehouse's Jeeves and Bertie stories and (I think) one of his Jeeves novels. Tonight, I listened to three Jeeves and Bertie tales and laughed out loud at the absurd pickles Bertie got himself into, only to be rescued by the resourceful and unflappable Jeeves. Wodehouse's plots are hilariously ridiculous, but what makes Wodehouse addictive to me is his mastery of English. Many of my guffaws tonight had less to do with what happened in the tales but more to do with how Bertie describes what's happening, his vacuous interior reflections upon things, and the many ways Jeeves quietly, almost mystically, delivers Bertie from thorny social situations back to safety again. Bertie never ceases to be staggered when Jeeves saves his bacon once again. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-19-20: Everett's Exercises, USA Conflicts, Digging Deeper

 1. Christy spent the morning and afternoon with Everett -- keep in mind, if she leaves the hospital's premises, she can't return until the next day. The staff at Shoshone Medical Center worked with Everett throughout the day. They kept Everett active with exercises, working to build his strength and his mobility.  One of the physical therapists helped Everett get out of bed and had him spend an hour in a wheelchair.

Paul had Riley out for a run today and they came to Everett's window. Seeing Riley was the highlight of Everett's day. 

So far, the therapists working with Everett are keeping him in his room. He does some of his exercises while in bed. In the afternoon, Everett told Christy he feels better than he has in a long time. Christy reports that Everett's appetite was better today.

Everett napped in the afternoon until his last physical therapy session of the day. 

Christy said it was a good day.

2. I finished reading Heather Cox Richardson's How the South Won the Civil War. The book helped me understand the conflicts that have been at work in the United States from our country's inception regarding freedom, equality, property (or capital), power, voting rights, the role of government (federal, state, and local) in our lives, and justice. These conflicts are ongoing, unresolved, and current. They involve everything from how United States citizens, and those in power, both in the private and public sector, view taxation, history, racial matters, property, money, poverty, wealth, and many other matters. 

3. Heather Cox Richardson's book stimulated me to explore United States history further. I started tonight by watching the first hour of the four hour PBS documentary series, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation and the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant ended the institution of slavery and brought the military conflict between the North and South to an end. Deep conflicts and impossibly difficult questions remained, though, about the future of the enslaved people who'd been set free and about how to reunite the Confederate and Union states. Those conflicts I mentioned above regarding freedom, equality, taxation, property, and so on lay at the heart of the Reconstruction project. Heather Cox Richardson's book looks at how the ways these conflicts were addressed after the Civil War helped shape the direction of the United States from then to now. 

The documentary series, Reconstruction, goes into this post-Civil War period in some depth, exploring the conflicts, the persons involved, the violence, and the racial tensions of Reconstruction. Not only did the first hour of this series help me understand what was at stake during Reconstruction, President Andrew Johnson's central role in the early days of Reconstruction, and the long term effects of those early days, but the series is acquainting (and reacquainting me) with the current scholars whose careers are dedicated to sorting out this vital period of our country's history. 

I also plan to explore the history of the West in the USA more fully in the coming weeks. I watched Ken Burns' documentary series, The West,  back in 2007, according to my blog, and I'm going to return to it. One of the scholars interviewed in The West is Patricia Nelson Limerick. I have put in an order at the library for her book, The Legacy of Conquest and want to reacquaint myself with her study of Western Expansion. I've read at least one excerpt from this book, but I haven't read it in its entirety. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-18-20: Everett in Kellogg, Great Walk, Allspice in Chicken Soup

1. In writing today's Everett update, I need to get some things straight in my mind -- and maybe it will help you who are reading this, too.

Everett has been under hospital care since Oct. 31st when the emergency room doctor in Kellogg determined that he needed more advanced care for internal infections than Shoshone Medical Center is equipped to provide. Once transferred, on Sunday, Nov. 1 he tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and was admitted into Kootenai Health's Covid unit.  Christy couldn't visit him. He never showed symptoms of Covid-19 and after being isolated for about ten days, Everett was transferred to acute care. Now Christy could be with Everett. Everett was in acute care for about a week and on Tuesday, Nov. 17th, he was transferred to Shoshone Medical Center here in Kellogg.

The upshot of all of this is that Everett has a lot going on and a long ways to go in his recovery.

Christy is very happy he's at Shoshone Medical Center. It's calmer. From Christy's past stay there in 2018 and from Mom's long stay back in 2016, Christy, especially, and I became familiar with members of the staff who are working with Everett. Another staff member is a friend of Debbie's and mine. Not only do these people do really good work, but the familiarity is comforting and, with the slower pace at Shoshone Medical Center, these staff members can spend more time helping Everett with a variety of things like shaving, getting out of bed into a wheelchair, keeping him cleaned up, and so on. 

Because he's at Shoshone Medical Center and because Christy only has to travel a couple of blocks to be with Everett and because she can spend a lot of time with him, she can be right there to help him understand what's happening when he gets (understandably) confused and encourage him when he's offered different services. Nov. 18th was Everett's best day for his mental state and spirit since he's been hospitalized. I'm not in any position to say how this day rated as far as his physical health. The doctor has put a plan in place and now it's a matter of everyone doing their best to carry it out -- patiently, one day at a time. 

2. I had a modest cooking project planned for today and, in order to carry it out, I needed a few items from Yoke's. The weather was mild so I strapped on my back pack and walked to the store, bought a few things, and walked back home. I racked up about 2800 steps and it felt great. (And, since I'm writing this on Thursday morning, I can report that I had my best night of sleep in a while on Wednesday night.)

3. My cooking project was simple, fun, and a tiny bit adventurous. I thawed out a whole chicken and, following a recipe, I cooked it in two quarts of chicken broth accompanied by three onions, quartered, and some chunks of carrot and celery. Once I brought the broth to a boil, I added salt and pepper, garlic powder, thyme, sage, and, of all things (different in my experience), allspice. Allspice felt adventurous -- but then I remembered back to the good old days living in Eugene. A Vietnamese restaurant, Bon Mi, served chicken pho seasoned with cloves and I loved that layer of flavor in their soup. I felt confident that the allspice would add a similar dimension to what I was making.

When the chicken was done, I removed it and vegetables. I chopped some mushrooms, added them to the broth along with some rotini pasta I had in the bottom of a bag and brought the broth to a boil for about ten minutes to cook the mushrooms and pasta and to reduce the broth some. Meanwhile, I cut pieces of off the chicken and, once the broth was done boiling, I added in about half of the chicken, refrigerated the rest, and put back in the carrots, onions, and celery.

I loved the big steaming bowl I served myself, especially the allspice.  I have three quarts of this soup/stew leftover in containers. I'll refrigerate some and freeze the rest. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-17-20: Everett Returns to Kellogg, Walking with Laurie Garrett, Start with Canned Tomatoes

 1. Today, Everett was transferred out of acute care at Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene to the Shoshone Medical Center (SMC) in Kellogg. This was exactly the next step Christy hoped for. Things are calm, quieter at SMC and SMC allows Everett one visitor a day, so Christy can be with him each day until she leaves the premises. Had Everett been admitted to Cascadia's facility across the street, Christy could not have visited him. Everett's room gives him a view of Cameron Avenue -- he can see Sam's, his favorite breakfast spot -- and Christy looks forward to bringing Riley to Everett's window. As Christy wrote, "there's still work to be done" -- rehab, building strength, and healing. 

2. It was windy, not rainy, and the temperature was mild this afternoon when I walked to the Avista office to leave off my monthly payment in the outdoor drop box. On walks like this, I enjoy listening to either books on audible or to podcasts. I follow science writer Laurie Garrett on Twitter, not only for any daily comments she might make about the pandemic, but also because she always posts when she'll be appearing on television or as a podcast guest. Today I learned that she spent over an hour talking with John Helleman on his podcast Hell and High Water, here, and I listened to about half of this conversation while walking and finished it when I returned home. 

Laurie Garrett has been researching and writing about public health worldwide, epidemics, and pandemics for over thirty years. If you'd like to read more about her educational background and her career as a journalist and public intellectual, you can always read her profile at Wikipedia and you can explore her website, here, where her books are described in detail as is her work traveling the globe, writing about viruses (HIV, Ebola, SARS, and others), government's responses, and public health, both in the USA and globally. 

3. When Debbie returned to Kellogg from Eugene, she showed me how she'd been fixing meals based on sautéing chopped onion and garlic, adding a can of diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted), and then other ingredients and eating it served over rice. On Monday, I made one of these mixtures and added garbanzo beans to the mixture and seasoned it with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and fennel seeds. I had some of that mixture left over. I sautéed more onion, added cubes of drained tofu to it, seasoned it much the same as Monday's night's mess, with the addition of garlic powder. Both nights, I served this mixture over rice. I didn't eat the entire batch tonight and when I do reheat it, my next move, if I remember, will be to add in green beans. 

After dinner, I read more of Heather Cox Richardson's book, How the South Won the Civil War

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-16-20: Everett Update, Old Friend Returns, Westward Expansion

1. I don't have much of an update to write about Everett. Christy spent the morning and much of the afternoon with him. I know Everett was awake and that he and Christy talked about all kinds of things. The visitation policy at Kootenai Health is understandably tight and restrictive, but thank God the hospital allows one visitor and that Christy has the time to spend with Everett and the dedication to his well-being to be at his side for so many hours.

2. When we moved to Maryland, I decided that rather than move or store boxes and boxes of books, I'd give them away, donate them. Every once in a while, I long to have some of those books back in my possession. A while back, I decided I wanted Jane Hirshfield's Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry back in my life and ordered it through Upon ordering it, I found out that Biblio tracked down a copy of it at St. Vinnie's Charitable Books in Eugene. 

I suddenly wondered if the copy being shipped my way might be the very copy I gave away back in 2014. I liked the idea of the book coming full circle.

Today the book arrived and I excitedly extracted it from the packaging and thumbed through it, looking for any tell-tale signs that this was the copy I once owned. 

I'm not one to mark books. This copy had no marks in it. It didn't have my name in it either.

Ergo: I don't know if it's the copy I once owned in Eugene.

I'm going to act like it is, though. Why not? The book's content is an old friend and I'm going to tell myself the actual book is as well.

3. I read as much of Heather Cox Richardson's How the South Won the Civil War as I could today. I can't zip through this book. It's packed with names and events it takes time to sort out.  As the book moves from the Civil War itself to the expansion of the United States westward, much of what Richardson writes about is violent, cruel, covetous, and greedy. Even though I knew this was true before reading this book, reading about it again gives me pause. I can't zip through this book. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-15-20: Everett Update, Power and Discipline, American History BONUS A Limerick by Stu

 1. Christy spent much of the day in Cd'A with Everett and returned to Kellogg in the afternoon. She was worn out. I write updates on this blog based on Christy's updates and she'll write her next one on Monday some time. I know a little bit. Everett was more alert this morning. He had better color, ate better, drank some of Christy's latte, joked around with nurses, and replaced his own hearing aid battery. Christy will head back to the hospital on Monday morning.

2. I watched Dustin Johnson, with his easy gait, unflappable temperament, and powerful golf game win this year's Masters. He wobbled a bit early in the day. He bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes, his four stroke lead was down to a single stroke, but he calmed down, birdied the sixth and eighth holes, didn't bogey another hole all day, played the back nine three strokes under par, and set a Masters scoring record by finishing the tournament twenty strokes under par. Not only that, he's the first player to ever play 72 holes at the Masters and only register four bogeys over the four days. Dustin Johnson has developed into a remarkably powerful, consistent, and disciplined player and all of those qualities contributed mightily to his success this weekend. 

3. I came away from my further reading of Heather Cox Richardson's How the South Won the Civil War today with a much deeper sense of the importance of the 1850s and the 1860s in our country's history. While reading this book, I suddenly remembered that back in 2016 The Washington Post took on an ambitious podcast series called Presidential. The series moved, episode by episode, chronologically, through the stories and legacy of each president, featuring interviews with historians and other presidential experts.

I listened to some of these episodes in 2016 and I'm glad that this podcast popped back in my mind. As I went to sleep tonight, I listened to the Franklin Pierce episode -- well, not all of it -- I fell asleep before it ended. I'll go back and listen again today. I'm really happy to have Presidential back on my radar again. 

If you'd like to check out this podcast, just click here.

A limerick by Stu: 

It's not that you need this each day.
But on occasion to get it's okay.
Drive right up to the speaker,
Hope your cup ain't a leaker.
And the grub in your bag's worth the pay.

National Fast Food Day

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-14-20: Update on Everett, The Masters, Laurie Garrett on the Vaccine

1. Christy spent the day and night in Coeur d'Alene and was with Everett for most of today. Everett slept most of the day. It was a good day here in Kellogg for Riley. Paul exercised him a lot and he spent about three hours with me and was mellow and content.

2. I spent much of the day enjoying  the Masters and texting insights and wisecracks with Terry T. and Byrdman.  At the end of the round, we wondered what Dustin Johnson might have to do to preserve his four stroke lead going into the final round on Sunday.

3. Throughout the pandemic, Pulitzer Prize winning science writer Laurie Garrett has been one of several experts I've listened to frequently. Her understanding of the pandemic has been informed and reliable. Today I listened to her conversation, on the On the Media podcast, with host Brooke Gladstone. This past week Garrett wrote an article for Foreign Policy in which she agrees that, on the face of it, the news that Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine has demonstrated a 90% effectiveness with no serious bad reactions in trial results looks like really great news.

But, the title of this twenty minute episode is "The Pfizer Vaccine Isn't a Home Run Yet". Laurie Garrett raises several warnings about the vaccine. Underwriting the storing and distribution of the vaccine presents immense challenges. So does getting the vaccine into people's arms. To reach herd immunity, 80 to 90 percent of the population would need to either have contracted the virus or be vaccinated. Enough people in the USA oppose being vaccinated that that factor alone makes reaching herd immunity through vaccination unlikely. That's not the only hurdle. 

The podcast episode is here

Laurie Garret's article in Foreign Policy is here

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-13-20: Everett Update, Power and Distance in Nov., *My Octopus Teacher*

 1.  Christy spent the morning and the early afternoon with Everett. She came home to gather some things for him and will return to Kootenai Health Saturday morning and spend Saturday night in Coeur d'Alene. Riley was with me when Christy returned to Kellogg. She came over to pick him up and reported that Everett's fluid retention was improving and that his appetite is pretty good. I think it helps immeasurably that Christy can be in Everett's room, not only to be at his side, but to be able to talk in person with members of Everett's medical team. It has not been firmly determined when Everett will be transferred to the Cascadia facility here in Kellogg. 

2. Because of the rains that have soaked Augusta National and, maybe, because it's November and the hours of sunlight and warmth are shorter, the course is playing softer than it normally does in April. So far, what this means for the field, is that players who hit shorter drives can compete better with the long hitters because softer greens hold shots struck from farther away better than firmer greens do. A quick glance at the leaderboard after two rounds confirms this. While long hitters like Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are tied for first, so are a couple of somewhat shorter drivers, Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer. Yes, the longer hitters on the leaderboard probably have the best chance of prevailing, but I enjoy seeing the less powerful golfers able to compete well.

Much like the current emphasis in baseball on high velocity pitchers, in golf, players are building their physical strength and structuring their swings (while using highly advanced and powerful equipment) to pound the ball longer and longer distances off the tee. 

In the same way that I want to see a place in baseball for pitchers who pitch with less velocity to succeed, likewise, I want less powerful golfers succeed. I don't really pull against anyone during a golf tournament, but ever since I was a kid, I've always enjoyed seeing the less powerful players do well, players like Gene Littler, Ben Crenshaw, Corey Pavin and others. 

3. When Paul brought Riley over around 12:30, he also brought me a container of bourbon meatballs that Carol had made for her book group along with some cornbread.

I ate about half of these delicious meatballs with rice for lunch, and, around dinner time, I heated up the rest, fixed myself a green salad, and decided to watch the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher.

For what I enjoy in life, this was a superb movie.

It tells the story of a filmmaker from South Africa, Craig Foster, who began free-diving in a kelp forest in False Bay, near Cape Town. He caught the attention of a particular octopus, visited her every day, and chronicled the octopus's life and the relationship that developed between them.

The underwater photography in this movie is staggering, absolutely gorgeous. As the movie tells Foster's story with this octopus, we, as viewers, not only learn more and more about the complexity and intelligence of the common octopus, we also experience dramatic and perilous events in the octopus's life.  

I experienced the movie as both a scientific study of and a spiritual journey into the beauty and wonder of interdependence, underwater, yes, but also on land as the movie explores how Foster's deep dives into the kelp forest and his relationship with this octopus altered his life, especially with his son. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-12-20: Brief Update on Everett, November at the Masters, Leta Powell Drake and Jiminy Glick

 1.  Christy spent the whole day with Everett. We don't know when he'll be released, but, when he is, he'll be admitted to the Cascadia facility across the street. With the drainage tube put back in today, the fluid is going down in his body. His appetite is all right -- and he keeps wanting to share his food with Christy! Christy spent Thursday night in Coeur d'Alene and will be back with Everett in the morning.

2. The Masters golf tournament started today and I camped out in the Vizio room at 10:00 and watched ESPN's coverage. Normally, this tournament takes place in April, but, this year it was postponed until November. No spectators line the fairways or encircle the greens. A rain storm delayed play in the morning. The rain significantly softened the course, Augusta National, and the players took full advantage. Players shot historically low scores. 

If you follow golf at all, you know that the Masters tournament is the epitome of a springtime event, with the magnolias, azaleas, and other spring blossoms exploding in white and pink and purples and reds, creating one of golf's most charming and enchanting visual scenes.  Yes, I missed those spring blossoms today, but autumn at Augusta National offers other splendor: softer light, long shadows, fall colors, and darker reflections in the ponds, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

3. While scrolling through Twitter this evening, I discovered someone had posted a string of video clips from the career of Lincoln, Nebraska interviewer Leta Powell Drake. I have since learned that videos of Leta Powell Drake have become popular on line. I had no idea. My discovery of her was an entertaining accident. Leta Powell Drake interviews celebrities with no filters, asking embarrassing questions, making off the wall comments, flirting a bit, and either charming or frustrating her subjects with her disarming questions and eccentric style. 

Well, this led to another discovery. It's obvious that I don't watch much television. I didn't know until tonight that Martin Short created a bloated, ridiculous, and hilarious exaggeration of a celebrity interviewer, a character named Jiminy Glick. I found him because someone on Twitter wrote that he thought Martin Short had borrowed mannerisms and interviewing techniques from Leta Powell Drake in creating Jiminy Glick. I don't know if that's true, but watching clips of Jiminy Glick had me in stitches. No surprise. For me, all Martin Short has to do is appear, and, before he utters a word, I'm already laughing. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-11-20: Brief Everett Update, High Velocity Forever?, Reading History

1. The best news of the day: Christy spent several hours visiting with Everett after they hadn't seen each other for about a week and a half. Christy reports that Everett was in good spirits today. He enjoyed listening to Christy's news about Riley, things around the house, and other things and was an active participant in their conversations. Everett is retaining fluids, though.  I'm hoping to be able to provide a fuller update of this situation in a later blog post. 

2. I finished listening to the audio production of K: A History of Baseball in 10 Pitches. Along with finding the book's stories about players past and present fascinating and along with enjoying reliving certain moments in baseball history and imagining others play out in my mind, I think what I learned from this book about different pitches and how they travel to the plate, how they move side to side or up and down, will help me watch games with a sharper, more informed eye. 

This book also made me wonder if the current obsession baseball scouts, general managers, and owners have with pitchers' velocity will, one day, fade. How long will we see games featuring three, four, or more pitchers per nine innings, all pitching limited innings, so that they can throw pitches over 95 mph, one batter after another, never (rarely) seeing a batter more than twice in a game? 

Kepner's book reminded me that pitching has passed through other phases in the past. In the 1980s, thanks in large part to the influence of Roger Craig, the split finger fastball was all the rage. The pitch never stopped being used, but it gained a reputation for injuring pitchers' arms and fell out of favor. Likewise, the success of the Yankees' indomitable Mariana Rivera and his bat-breaking cutter inspired a surge in this pitch's popularity. Like the split-finger fastball, the cutter never stopped being thrown, but its use declined in the 2010s. For one thing, no one mastered the pitch like Rivera had and, in addition, hitters began to adjust to it, often waiting for a pitcher to heave a misfired cutter that would hang out over the plate, a mistake power hitters feasted on.

Many of the great pitchers over the years have not had stunning velocity. And some pitchers -- let's take Frank Tanana as an example -- started their careers as high velocity, overpowering pitchers, suffered arm trouble, and reinvented themselves as pitchers who relied on craftiness, pinpoint control, cerebral knowledge of hitters, and a variety of speed and different ways of moving their pitches up and down and in and out to baffle hitters.

I hope, in its lust for high velocity pitchers who also have one or two secondary pitches, that Major League Baseball doesn't render pitchers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Juan Marichal, Tommy John, Rich Hill, and many other low velocity pitchers obsolete, pitchers whose success lay in their ability to keep hitters off balance and fool them, not overpower them. 

Having listened to this book, I immediately reserved myself a copy at the public library. Now I'd like to go back and read and reread sections, sections I found especially instructive and others I found entertaining.

3. I changed gears later in the day. I'd read a thick book of historical fiction, The Pillars of the Earth; I read an absorbing baseball book, K; I decided to turn to history next. I subscribe to Boston College's Prof. Heather Cox Richardson's daily "Letter to America" and I enjoy her perspective and the clarity of her writing. Recently, she published a book entitled, How the South Won the Civil War. Cox is not arguing that the South won the Civil War militarily; she does, however, argue that prominent ideologies of the South prevailed (and prevail) in the United States, especially with western expansion. I've read her introduction and am quite a ways into her first chapter and I'm enjoying the clarity of her writing and the development of her thesis. I'm also enjoying an experiment: this is the first time reading a book on Kindle while simultaneously listening to it on audible. Heather Cox Richardson is the book's reader on audible. I've listened to her several times on Facebook Live and on YouTube and I'm enjoying listening to her reading  this book aloud. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-10-20: (Update) Baseball Names, Pasta, Tree House Concert BONUS A Limerick by Stu

Note: Everett is no longer in the COVID unit at Kootenai Health. Now Christy can visit him and plans a long visit with him on Wednesday, November 11. I'm going to hold off on a longer update until Christy lets Everett's family and Carol, Debbie, and me know what she learns when on site.  

1.  I love watching baseball and golf, but I might enjoy reading about these sports even more. 

I'll set golf aside for now. 

Today the focus is baseball. 

Over the years, the books I've read by Roger Kahn, Jane Leavy, Roger Angell, Thomas Bosworth, David Halberstam, Lawrence S. Ritter, Daniel Okrent, and others have brought players and great moments alive for me vividly, transported me to key times in my non-baseball life, and given me insight into baseball as if I were reading about Shakespeare's plays or George Eliot novels. 

Today, I continued listening to the audible recording of Tyler Kepner reading his book from 2019, K: A History of Baseball in 10 Pitches. So far, I've experienced the history of baseball through his detailed examination of the slider, fastball, curve, knuckleball, splitter, screwball, sinker, and changeup. Only the chapters on the spitter and cutter remain.

As I've mentioned before, Kepner draws upon interviews he's conducted with players, past and present, and published interviews others have conducted for much of his material.

Many of the pitchers and batters and coaches he gives voice to or tells stories about had faded from my baseball memory. I have loved having these players and coaches, their feats, and their theories about pitching back in the front of my mind again: Steve Rogers, Johnny Podres, Roger Craig, Ramon Martinez (and little brother Pedro!), Dan Quisenberry, Tom Candiotti, J. R. Richard, Frank Viola, Ted Abernathy, Jim Bouton, Kent Tekulve, Mike Marshall, Donnie Moore, Jeff Nelson, Hoyt Wilhelm,  and many, many more. 

I've never thought about so many pitchers, so many approaches to pitching, or thought about so many famous situations in baseball history from the perspective of types of pitches before. I've also enjoyed reading about players from the early days of baseball like Carl Hubbell, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and other older players whose names are familiar to me, and about others like Hall of Famer, Candy Cummings, the supposed inventor of the curve ball, whom I'd never bothered to pay attention to. 

2. I opened a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. I cut an onion in half. I sliced a chunk of butter off the cube I had out. I cut the half onion into two pieces. I combined these ingredients in a saucepan and added oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds. I cooked it all for about 45 minutes. I tossed the onion pieces. The result was a batch of my version of Marcella Hagan's tomato sauce. 

I then made a small batch of rotini, one of my favorite pastas. I combined the pasta and sauce in a bowl, added parmesan cheese, and enjoyed a simple, flavorful dinner. Earlier, I'd eaten a small bowl of a green salad augmented with tuna fish I'd made a day or so ago, leaving enough so I'll have more of this salad on Wednesday.

3. I tried something a little different so I could enjoy a warming drink while I tuned in to tonight's Tree House Concert, performed by Bill Davie.

I wondered how a hot drink would work using the ingredients of a Brandy Alexander -- brandy, creme de cacao, and whole milk (no cream on hand, or half and half) mixed with hot water and enhanced by cinnamon and nutmeg. All in all, it was a satisfying drink, but, a little sweet for my taste. If I try this again, I'll pour less creme de cacao into the mix.

Bill's concert was really good. He felt like he was a little off, but we listeners, judging from the stream of gratitude and positive comments people posted during the show, loved his work and loved his selection of songs. For about thirty years, I've thought "Learning to Say Goodbye" is an insightful piece of writing that falls somewhere between absurdism and surrealism and, since we live in an absurd, surreal world, this song has a clear ring of truth. Bill read a few of his own poems, written in a time of tumult in his life, and then turned to Billy Collins and Ted Koosner. Koosner's poems, especially, brought a sense of calm to the proceedings. 

Bill is taking next Tuesday off, but will return on November 24th for a powerhouse evening as he and Jim Page will perform together. 

Before the pandemic, before Bill started performing live on Facebook, since he can't perform in live brick and mortar venues until the pandemic (it is to be hoped) calms down, I never dreamed, unless I made a trip to Seattle, that I'd ever hear Bill and Jim perform together again. 

I'm stoked. 

Here's a limerick by Stu: 

Your belly's tied up in a knot.
There's more places designated as "Hot"!
Was there ever a day,
When you thought you would say?
I look forward to getting a "shot"?

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-09-20: Brief Everett Update, Getting Medieval in the Sube, Baseball History Pitch by Pitch

 1. Although the CAT scan results are pending, it appears that the abscess that has remained in Everett's abdomen is gone. The team's plan is to remove the drainage tube. The nurse Christy talked with reports that Everett is tired, is sleeping more, and wants to stay in bed. 

I delivered cards to Everett today by taking them to the welcoming desk at Kootenai Health. Christy learned from the nurse that Everett received and read the cards. 

I toyed with the idea of doing something else in Coeur d'Alene, but decided to drive straight back to Kellogg after delivering the cards.  I always tilt toward what's become known as "an abundance of caution". 

2. I've contemplated purchasing a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker so I can listen to books on audible while driving. Today, though, I wondered if it would work to listen to The Pillars of the Earth using my smart phone and putting an ear bud in one ear. It did. I could hear what was happening outside the car at the same time that the story transported me to 12th century England. Unless, over time, I'm unhappy with this approach, I'll hold off on purchasing a speaker.

 I started reading The Pillars of the Earth back in July, put it aside for quite a while at some point this summer, picked it up again and committed myself to finishing it -- and today I did just that.

I enjoyed the great span of this novel, the way it developed over about fifty-one years, set primarily in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, featuring the parallel development of the building of a new cathedral and the stories of a handful of characters, all, in one way or another, connected with the cathedral. As the plot deepens, so do these characters -- some mature into wisdom, into a deeper understanding of love, service, and acceptance of their suffering; others persist in destructive ways and never repent; others are chastened, and, in one way or another, own up to their grievous acts, deeds motivated by greed, lust, mendacity, a thirst for power, and meanness. At the center of it all is the long and often tumultuous process of financing and constructing the new cathedral.

I didn't realize, as I cruised down I-90, listening to John Lee read this story, that Follett's book concludes with the events leading up to and climaxing in the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. Throughout the novel, Follett explores the tension between spiritual power and earthly power, between virtue and service to God on the one hand and the efforts, on the other, of characters to seize land, increase their wealth, and usurp those holding governing positions. The ongoing conflict between spiritual strength and brute physical force reaches its peak, not only with the murder of Thomas Becket, but in what occurs in the aftermath and brings this epic novel to its profound conclusion.

3. Having finished The Pillars of the Earth, I decided to change things up a bit. I turned to baseball and, through, ordered Tyler Kepner's book, K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches. Over ten chapters, Kepner devotes one chapter to one kind of pitch and looks at baseball's history through the development of that pitch. He begins with the slider, goes to the fastball, then the curve and, over the course of the book, devotes his other chapters to the knuckleball, splitter, screwball, sinker, changeup, spitball, and cutter.

 Kepner draws upon countless interviews with pitchers past and present along with others involved in the sport. Kepner also draws upon the voracious reading he's done over the years of oral histories, biographies, memoirs, and other materials by and about pitchers and pitching. He also writes some autobiographical passages that are fun. 

I'm into chapter three right now and the stories have been enthralling. Kepner's insights into baseball are smart and illuminating.  Moreover, Kepner works to sort out the changes that have transpired in baseball in the last several years and connects them to contemporary approaches to pitching and to managing pitching staffs.

Tyler Kepner is the baseball writer for The New York Times. I don't know if he's written anything yet on Kevin Cash's decision in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series to pull Blake Snell in the sixth inning. I'll look into that before long. If he hasn't, it certainly would not be difficult to extrapolate from what he has to say about major league pitching in, say, the last five years to figure out how he might analyze Cash's crucial (and, as it turned out, misguided) decision to replace Snell at that juncture in Game 6. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-08-20: Brief Everett Update, Family Dinner Postponed, ZOOM and So Much to Read

1.  Christy talked with Everett's nurse this evening. I have no significant changes to report. Everett is alert. He's cooperating with the medical staff. His team doubts he'll need surgery. His CAT scan results are still pending. He continues on a liquid diet. So far, there is no news about when Everett might be released from Kootenai Health. 

2. In preparation for family dinner, I baked cornbread, not in a pan or a skillet, but as muffins -- they aren't cornbread muffins, per se, but regular cornbread baked in a muffin tin. Later, Christy contacted Carol and me to say she needed a day of rest and asked if we could postpone family dinner. It turned out that Paul, also, was feeling a little scratchy.  We agreed. We hope to get together next week. I talked with Christy this evening by phone, and already she was feeling better thanks to just stopping, getting some more sleep, and taking it as easy as possible. 

3. Val, Colette, Bill, Diane, and I gathered around our ZOOM machines at 2:00 and talked about a wide array of things. Foremost on our minds was the presidential election and we all articulated our hopes for what a change in leadership means to us and our country right now and what we hope for as time moves along. It was a lot of fun to listen to each other's perspectives, whether historical, religious, political, mythological, or psychological. In time, our attention moved to poetry, the power and even the elusiveness of poetry. As a group, we are building a bibliography of books and other sources we mention to each other. I'm very grateful for this. Often when our once every two weeks conversation ends, I haven't taken notes and I don't remember the books, lectures on video, articles, and other fascinating sources of insight and pleasure we all mention. 

I closed out the night by reading another chunk of The Pillars of the Earth. I'm within a hundred pages of finishing this novel and I'm curious what threads Ken Follett will tidy up and which will be left untied and developed further in the next installation of his Kingsbridge series. I catch myself wondering at what point I'll continue reading his series when I finish this book.  I have other books in mind to read next, shorter ones, both fiction and non-fiction. I'm not quite sure how I'll plan this out. 

And then movies. . . I haven't watched a movie for too long. . . I'll never figure out how to fit it all in! 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-07-20: Christy/Everett/Riley Update, Reading, A Billy Collins Surprise and My Last Four Years

 1. The best family news of today: Christy's Covid test came back negative.  This is a great relief. 

As far as an Everett update, Christy dropped off a letter and card -- maybe other things -- I don't know -- and, as the day progressed, found out that Everett's CAT scan results are pending and that he's hanging in there -- no real changes. 

I dog sat Riley while Christy was in Coeur d'Alene. This is the third time in the last week that he has stayed with me and I wondered if he might be less agitated today. He was. For about a half an hour or so he paced, jumped up on the empty chair next to mine, jumped up on the love seat, and cried a tiny bit. I didn't unleash him. I walked him in the house and, when we did this, he was calm, the leash was slack. At some point, he completely relaxed, jumped up on the love seat, and for most of his visit (unless I got up to do something), Riley sat and lay on the love seat, slept some, and acted like staying with me wasn't that different from being at home. 

He lit up with excitement when Christy returned. He always does! 

My hope is that Riley really has come to accept staying with me as a source of comfort, not of anxiety. Either way, he's always welcome and he and I work things out, no matter how he's feeling.

2. With the help of saltine crackers and cream cheese, saltine crackers and sardines, a small bowl of popcorn, cups of tea, a bowl of brown rice seasoned with Bragg Liquid Aminos, and the warmth of the house's heating system, I spent much of the day experiencing family conflicts, secular and ecclesiastical political intrigue, successes and set backs in cathedral construction, and grisly attacks and battles in the south of England in the 12th century as I devoured more of The Pillars of the Earth

3. I don't have the reading stamina I once had and, during one of my breaks from The Pillars of the Earth, I was on line and received a notice that Billy Collins was, surprise!, on Facebook. He was live. I tuned in. He was playing a John Phillip Sousa march. He sat in front of an American flag unfurled across the wall behind his desk chair. He'd poured himself a Jameson's Irish Whiskey. His wife Suzannah was home after visiting newborns in Utah and was drinking a Moscow Mule made from potato vodka. 

The came on the air to express their joy and relief that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the election.

Billy Collins wrote the poem, "Launch", upon request from the Associated Press, for Barak Obama's 2009 inauguration. (He was one of several poets the AP invited to mark the occasion with a poem.)

He read that poem today and it was fitting for the launch of Joe Biden's presidency, just has it had been for Barak Obama's. 

Stumbling upon this surprise broadcast was fun, a fortuitous accident. 

Afterward, I did some thinking today that I would have done no matter who won the election.

I find these presidential elections a convenient time to review what happened in my life over the past  four years of a presidential term.

I might write something in more detail at another time. For now, I'll just say that I'll always think of the Donald J. Trump years as a time of great change in my life, a time of many months of separation from Debbie, many of those months living alone, and as a time of profound loss. Mom died in 2017.

I thought today about how the first year of Trump's presidency, for me, was marked by daily concern about Mom's declining health and by trips to Kellogg to help Christy and Carol take care of Mom and then to be with her daily during her stay at Cascadia across the street. It was during President Trump's first year in office that we decided to move to Kellogg. As the Trump presidency progressed, Debbie took a job in Eugene and lived there; in 2019 Ellie was born and Adrienne and Josh needed help and Debbie spent extended time in New York helping care for Ellie. Debbie returned to New York just a couple of months ago to help out because of how the pandemic is affecting Adrienne and Josh's family life. They needed Debbie to help them out with Jack and Ellie. 

I'll leave things there for now. If I write it, in another blog post I'd like to reflect a bit on how I decided to deal with no longer living in Maryland, near Washington, D. C. Leaving the east coast was difficult. I also had to make decisions about how to live well while alone, first while Debbie was in Eugene, mostly without a pandemic and then how to live well while alone under the restrictions I imposed on myself (and still do) with the pandemic's onset and, by the end of August, Debbie's departure to New York. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-06-20: Everett Update, Reading Day, Quick Trip BONUS A Photo and Limerick by Stu

1. On a day to day basis, Everett continues to make incremental progress. He ate tomato soup today. He is doing physical therapy. He is not showing symptoms of Covid. His doctor thinks that if Everett doesn't show symptoms by Tuesday, he probably won't suffer them. One of the abscesses is gone and his team moved the date for the CAT scan to check on the other one to Saturday, Nov. 7. Christy had a good conversation with Everett. She will go to Kootenai Health on Saturday (Nov. 7) to deliver a card and letter to the front desk to be delivered to Everett. It's not clear when Everett will come home. 

You might have read or seen on the news that Covid cases are increasing in North Idaho.

One result of this increase is that it's slowing down the return of test results. Christy was tested on Wednesday, had hoped to have her results back in no more than 48 hours, but the backlog is slowing things down and she continues to wait to find out her results.

2.  I spent much of the day reading The Pillars of the Earth. Much of the time I also listened to my audible audio edition, read by John Lee. It's an absorbing way to enjoy the time I'm spending indoors and while outdoors it's rainy and chilly.

3. Until Christy finds out her Covid test results, she's staying indoors even more strictly than I am. She texted me with a request that I bop down to the liquor store and pick her up a bottle of Brown Sugar Bourbon. I was happy to do so, and, as it turned out, I am running low on Meyer's Dark Rum.  I didn't drink any rum or anything else again today or this evening -- I don't like to drink and read!

Here's a limerick by Stu to illustrate this picture he snapped Friday.

This guy doesn't care 'bout your day.
What is happening or what people say.
Ambles around without care,
Enjoys life here and there.
Feels peaceful if looked at that way. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-05-20: Everett Update, Digging Deeper, The Comfort of Hot Drinks

 1. Christy talked to Everett's nurse this evening and she talked with Everett. The news is encouraging.

For starters, he did not experience Covid symptoms today.

His medical team decided to remove the NG tube from his nose, the one that they used to feed Everett. Today, Everett started a liquid diet.

The abscesses are still draining and on Friday Everett will be administered a CAT scan so his team can see how much abscess remains. His antibiotic regimen continues.

At the same time that Everett says he wants to go home and that he wants a beer, in phone conversation with Christy, he tells her he understands why he's in the hospital and why he can't go home. 

Until the abscesses clear up, Everett will stay in the hospital. 

Christy also reports that today, on the phone, Everett sounded stronger, could hear her better, and dropped an Everettism on Christy. Christy asked how he felt, and he said, "Not too shabby!" Classic. 

Christy's Covid test results have not come back. She's in conversation with a social worker about support for Everett once he returns home. Christy plans to return to the hospital on Saturday to deliver some things and pick up others. She'll spend Friday continuing to prepare the house for Everett's return.

2. By the time I put down The Pillars of the Earth today, I'd finished about three quarters of the book. As a reader of fiction, I rarely, if ever, try to anticipate what's coming up and so, if a writer's hope is to surprise the reader with things that happen, I'm the reader the author wants. Several turns in the story surprised me as I read today and, along with these pleasures, I enjoyed how Ken Follett's plot turns not only move the story forward, creating momentum, but they deepened the development of prominent characters in the story. Yes, some of the characters persist in being single dimensional, not because Follett is failing as a writer, but because he's exploring the arrested development of these men, exploring the dangers of their prolonged immaturity, lack of self-control, and self-centeredness. Other characters grow. They examine flaws within themselves. They rarely act only with self-interest in mind. The experience a complex of emotions. 

I'll just say, without providing plot spoiling details, that the epic sweep of this novel grew today when the action, for some characters, moved across the English Channel into France and Spain. It's fun.

3.  The temperatures haven't been that low, but the late autumn rain is chilly and the shorter days seem to increase the chill with their longer hours of darkness. 

I'm grateful for tea, whether it's English Breakfast, Bengal Spice, Lemon Ginger, or just plain Ginger tea. Reading a long and winding novel and drinking cups of tea, warms me, comforts me.

Later in the evening, after dinner, I took a break from tea and warmed myself with a cup of hot chocolate. No rum. No brandy. Just hot chocolate and digging deeper into the challenges of life in 12th century England, enjoying my comfortable home while at the same time being transported far from it.  

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-04-20: Update on Everett, Debit Card Saga, Baboons/Tik Tok/Twins/"Drop the Pilot"

 1. Christy can't visit Everett at the Kootenai Health because he tested positive for Covid. But, one of Everett's nurses calls Christy to give her updates and Christy can write Everett letters and they can talk on the phone.

The nurse's report today was encouraging. Yes, he's tubed up -- a drainage tube is at work in his abdomen and a nasogastric (NG) tube, inserted through his nose, is connected to his stomach. His team hoped, on Wednesday, that they could remove the NG tube in the evening. Doing so would mean Everett might start eating food.

Everett is not experiencing Covid symptoms. 

The culture from Monday's procedure showed a yeast infection. The sepsis is gone. His once low potassium levels are back in range. 

The nurse who talked to Christy was surprised that Everett is ninety years old. If you know Everett at all, you know he loves jokes and he's been cracking jokes to the medical staff -- a good sign.

Christy plans to drive to CdA on Thursday, deliver a couple more letters to him, and bring him flowers. 

I don't think there's a timetable for Everett's release, but Christy's impression is that he won't be coming home in the next few days.

Later, after her visit with the nurse, Christy talked with Everett on the phone. Christy reports that he sounded like himself: he understands what's going on, but is confused why Christy can't visit him; he requested a 12-pack of beer; he told Christy to hug Riley for him; he laughed about his illness being on Facebook and told Christy he figured she'd be posting about it. As their call ended, Everett uttered one of his favorite statements: "The first hundred years are the hardest!" 

Hearing this, Christy knew he had to be improving! 

2. I continue to limit my visits to Yoke's. I made a trip today to pick up prescriptions for Christy and Everett, a couple of things for Christy, and to stock up for myself.

My shopping excursion was ho-hum. 

As the checker rang up my groceries, though, I took out my wallet and my debit card was missing.

I breathed deeply. I haven't been using my card much lately. The empty slot in my wallet perplexed me.

I shook my head, said, "Oh, man!" and asked the checker to put my groceries aside. I needed to go home and find my card. I promised to be back soon.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why I would have had my debit card out. I hadn't shopped since Saturday and hadn't used it for any purchases since then.

Still, I searched the top of the dining table, the chairs I use, the table beside my bed, the top of the bookcase, and no luck.

The last time I reached for my debit card in my wallet and it was missing was on October 30, 2016. Scott Shirk and I were roaming the East Village in Manhattan and had finished a bite to eat and some awesome beer at Jimmy's No. 43 at 43 E. 7th St (it permanently closed in 2017).  When I went to pay, my card slot in my wallet was empty.

That day, as it turned out, I had bought a cinnamon bagel with a thin smear of cream cheese at Zucker's, paid for it with my debit card, and, instead of putting my card in my wallet, put it in the pocket of the shirt I was wearing, underneath a sweatshirt. It took me about ten minutes or so to figure this out at Jimmy's No. 43.

I stopped searching surfaces at home.

I checked the left pocket of the pants I was wearing, the pocket with my phone in it.

There was my card.

Then I remembered. 

I had taken my card out to pay for Christy and Everett's pills, paid with cash instead, and, instead of doing the smart thing, instead of following my usual routine, instead of putting the card back in my wallet, I put it in my pocket.

I drove back to Yoke's, decided not to tell the checker my life story -- instead I told you! -- and made my purchase and returned home, relieved. 

I am dependent on routines, one of them being the return of my debit card to its assigned slot in my wallet whenever I use it. When I break these routines, I'm always at bay and it takes me a while to recover.

Such was the case today.

3. While I cleaned up the kitchen today, I listened to a fascinating Radiolab episode on power relations and decision making in baboon troops. I see that it's not the only episode Radiolab has done on baboons and I plan to investigate this.

Later, I got to clicking around on the World Wide Web. Reading a recent article about Stevie Nicks moved me to click on a link and watch the famous Tik Tok video of Nathan Apodaca's glide on a longboard to his job at an Idaho Falls potato factory after his rig broke down while drinking Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice and mouthing lyrics from Fleetwood Mac's song "Dreams". 

The article I read about Stevie Nix also included a link to the famous video of twenty-two year old twins Tim and Fred Williams of Gary, Indiana listening to Phil Collins', "In the Air" for the first time and going nuts over Phil Collins' drum solo about halfway through the song. I watched all of it. 

I was hooked. I watched more of Tim and Fred Williams this evening and enjoyed them listening to "The Chain", "Layla", and "Gimme Shelter" for the first time. They loved them all. One of the twins, Tim, was on his own listening to "Gimme Shelter". It was fun to see his astonishment that The Rolling Stones were so good and hear him express his bewilderment that he'd never listened to them before.

My musical wanderings also led me to a video of Tracy Chapman singing, in 2020, "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", a song from her first album released thirty-two years ago. That year I saw Tracy Chapman open for Bob Dylan at the Keller Auditorium in Portland on August 19, 1988. She was a shy performer in her early twenties, and, despite seeming to hide behind her guitar, arrested the audience into awed silence with her set.

To my delight, when I listened to Tracy Chapman, a link popped up to a live performance by Joan Armatrading singing "Drop the Pilot", a song I hadn't thought about for years and that, for a time nearly forty years ago, was one of my favorites, a song I played repeatedly, danced to, and carried around in my head, uplifted by Joan Armatrading singing, "Animal, Mineral, Physical, Spiritual/I'm the one you need, I'm the one you need".

I never quite memorized the opening of the chorus, but I loved to listen again and again to Joan Armatrading sing:

Drop the pilot, try my balloon
Drop the monkey, smell my perfume
Drop the mahout, I'm the Easy Rider
Don't use your army to fight a losing battle. 

I can't think of a better song imploring someone, seducing someone, to drop their lover and come to the singer of this song. 

I don't know if the person addressed in this song ever dropped the pilot, but, if they did, a promise of ecstasy lay ahead:

You're kissing cousins, there's no smoke, no flame
If you lose that pilot, I can fly your plane
If you want solid ground, come on and try me
Oh, I can take you so high that you're never gonna want to come down

Listening to this song reminded me of a regret. Joan Armatrading and Richard Thompson shared a bill at the Cuthbert Amphitheater on July 12, 1996 and I didn't go. 

I also pondered and pondered who introduced me to Joan Armatrading back in about 1983. 

I'm going to say it was Colette Marie -- but, I might be wrong -- it might have been one of the women who hung out together a lot at Whitworth -- was it Maureen Sweeney? Maia Blom? Jody Drew? Sue Ann Higgens? Susan-Louise Johnson? -- and, who knows, it might have been someone I've forgotten.

Whoever introduced me to Joan Armatrading, thank you! 

I am really happy to have her music back in my life again.