Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/30/2021: Baking Cups, Tree House Concert, Zags Streak Past USC

1.  Well. Well. Ha! I enjoy making muffins from time to time and I prefer aluminum foil baking cups. I bought aluminum cups once at Yoke's a couple or so years ago, but Yoke's seems to have quit carrying them. So, I ordered 100 of them online. They arrived today. I discovered I accidentally ordered jumbo cups (3.5 inches), not the regular cups (2.5 inches) I thought I'd purchased. 

I decided to accept my error and take advantage of it rather than beweep my outcast state. I'm going to go out and find some jumbo muffin pans -- and wanting to do this might just give me good reason to rocket over the hill and do a little shopping and maybe a little eating in CdA.

2. Tonight's Tree House Concert was a gem. I enjoy these concerts no matter what Bill Davie plays, but, I confess, I get a little extra pleasure when Bill reaches deep into the past and plays songs from his early recordings -- songs like "Mornings" and "Learn to Say Goodbye" and "King of the Art" -- and that's what he did tonight. Bill also announced that even if, as more and more people are vaccinated, he returns to coffeehouse and other in person performances, the Tree House Concerts will continue. That's great news -- I think for many of us who tune in regularly to Bill's concerts, they have gone way beyond being a source of pandemic relief. They are a great joy, an uplift to our spirits, a chance to virtually congregate with other people far and wide who love Bill and his generosity, his music, poetry, and poetry readings -- and we all love The Hand.  I know that I, for one, long ago stopped connecting these concerts to the pandemic and that however the pandemic surges and recedes, Bill will continue to perform Tree House Concerts online. 

3. So, Sunday night I watched USC's men's basketball team dismantle Oregon. USC's zone defense pushed Oregon away from the basket, forced Oregon into late in the shot clock shots, many of those shots poor ones, and, in general, stymied the Ducks.

Now, here's what I am incapable of: I could not imagine how the USC defense would fare against Gonzaga. For starters, I didn't know how the presence of Gonzaga would impact the Trojans psychologically and, in addition, Gonzaga has a very different team of starters than Oregon does. 

I was, however, eager this evening to find out.

Well, right from the get go, Gonzaga established a huge psychological edge over USC. The Trojans started the game jittery, turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, and the Zags streaked out to an early lead. On the other end of the court, when Gonzaga had to play their half court offense, it became clear that Gonzaga is a much more versatile team than Oregon, has many more ways to attack USC than Oregon did, and the Zags scored in multiple ways. The Zags went right at the powerful Mobley brothers inside and established Drew Timme as the player their offensive attack would orbit around. I heard several people say before this game that Timme would have a lot of problems in this game because he'd never faced a defensive player like Evan Mobley or like his brother, Isaiah. To myself, I thought that might be true, but I'm not sure the Mobley brothers have faced a player inside as deft and versatile as Drew Timmey.

Timme established himself as a force inside. But, he wasn't alone. The Zags attacked the Trojans' defense with crisp passes, great cuts, vision, and selflessness. The Zags shredded USC, storming to a 49-30 half time lead and cruising to an 85-66 win. 

I really didn't learn a thing about how the Trojans would fare against the Zags by having watched them play other opponents, especially Oregon.  

And, I have to say that I don't know what to expect when the Zags play UCLA. UCLA plays vigorous defense. They gave Michigan State, BYU, Abeline Christian, Alabama, and Michigan all kinds of problems. 

But not one of those teams is Gonzaga. I saw Creighton do things out of character against Gonzaga, leading me to believe they were mentally rattled by the Zags. I saw the same thing happen against USC.

Will UCLA be jittery? Can UCLA stop the multi-dimensional and versatile offense of Gonzaga? How will UCLA fare on offense against Gonzaga? Will UCLA's Johnny Juzang continue to score a lot of points? The Zags' defense looked very good against USC, whether for physical or psychological reasons. Will the Zags disrupt the Bruins as well?

I can't say. 

Until I see these two teams actually on the maple playing one another, I don't know what to expect. 

It's the same for Baylor and Houston. 

I just don't know.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/2021: Luna Sleeps In, Yellow Chicken Curry, Beavers Fall Short

1. Luna has developed a new habit in the mornings. I will contrast her with Copper. Both Luna and Copper sleep with me, Luna close to my chest and Copper at my feet. I usually rise and shine between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning. Copper immediately leaps off the bed and begins to order me around with persistent meows. He's a bit impatient when I have to use the bathroom first thing and, as I make my way out to the kitchen, he stays at my ankles, herding me.

Copper wants his breakfast. 

Once in the kitchen, Copper is patient while I wash out his food bowl, put water in the water bowl, and pop open a can of wet food. It makes him very happy when I put his food down.

In contrast, Luna doesn't rise and shine with me. She has taken to sleeping in. She loves to burrow herself under the covers and keep sleeping. She started doing this a while back and I was a bit concerned that it was a sign that she wasn't feeling well again. 

So, early on, I got Luna out of bed. I immediately saw, however, that she was doing fine and so now I let her sleep in as long as she wants. 

The only slight adjustment I've had to make is that I now wait until she's up and around before putting her food down.

Otherwise, Copper will eat it. 

These are delicate negotiations between me and Luna and Copper. 

2. I had some fun in the kitchen today. I started out by putting on a pot of jasmine rice. While it cooked, I took out the package of chicken tenders I bought the other day and started cooking them in olive oil and sesame oil. (I also added sesame oil to the water when I prepared the rice.)

I chopped up an onion, a few baby Yukon Golds, a half a yam, and took some green beans out of the freezer. I combined coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, a couple dried lime kaffir leaves, and yellow curry paste in a pot. I started heating it up and soon folded in the vegetables and chopped up chicken tenders and let this sauce cook slowly away until the potatoes and yams and onions were tender.

I love curry sauce over rice and this bowl turned out really delicious. As a bonus, I have over a quart of sauce and a quart of cooked rice left over, so there will be more yellow chicken curry in my near future.

3. Early in tonight's tilt between the Houston Cougars and the Oregon State Beavers, Houston's defense stymied and confused Oregon State and they fell behind, trailing by seventeen points at halftime. At halftime, the Beavers' coach, Wayne Tinkle, devised a defensive scheme that threw the Cougars off kilter and slowly, surely the Beavers mounted a comeback, even tying the game at 55-55. But, as happens, it's often difficult for a team storming back from a large deficit to get all the way over the hump and take a lead. The Beavers had chances, but they stymied themselves with a couple of turnovers and some poor shot selection. It was a really admirable run the Beavers made, not only in this game, but in the month of  March, but tonight it ended in a 67-61 defeat. 

Houston advances to the semi-finals of the tournament where they will face Baylor, who defeated Arkansas in a fast-paced, high flying game, 81-72. The semi-finals will be on Saturday. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/2021: Italian Family Dinner, Zoom Talk and Trauma, USC Overpowers Oregon

1.  As I've alluded to throughout the week, Carol was in charge of family dinner this week and she planned an Italian feast. None of us knew what it would feature, but Christy and I knew what we were to bring to add to the mystery main dish. 

I was in charge of wine and brought a bottle of Rose (Rozay) and a Petit Syrah. I also brought gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, and strips of orange peel and mixed us each a Negroni cocktail.

Christy picked up a loaf of freshly baked bread at Blackboard Market in Wallace on Thursday. We all agreed it was Italian bread! I froze the bread until this morning and it remained fresh. Christy also made a superb Italian green salad. 

Upon arriving at Carol and Paul's, with Paul's mother, Pat, as a guest, we found out that Carol make a very delicious minestrone soup featuring tomatoes from last summer's harvest and homemade chicken stock which had bubbled away for about a week and was dark, full of nutrients, and deep and rich in flavor.

We also discovered that for an appetizer, Carol had prepared a Merenda, a spread of nuts, meat, cheese, crackers, olives, and fruit. For what I enjoy most in an appetizer, it was perfect! 

For dessert, Carol baked an awesome Italian lemon cake served with a scoop of vanilla gelato that had oak in its title. Was it vanilla oak gelato? Oak vanilla? I didn't quite get that straight. 

So, not only was our dinner perfectly delicious, we also felt some of the relief that comes with all being fully vaccinated.

We've been having dinners at Carol and Paul's because they have room in their living room for us all to spread out and establish plenty of distance between one another. We've also taken the added precaution of covering our faces when not eating and drinking. I've been very grateful, week after week, that Christy, Carol, Paul, and I have all agreed to cover up and that no one has groused about it. 

Tonight, though, we agreed that given what we've learned about being vaccinated, we could be together uncovered. Pat took a group picture of the four of us, one with our face coverings on and another with them off, all holding our vaccination cards.

Being fully vaccinated gives me a lot of confidence that I'm unlikely to get sick -- or get very sick -- if exposed to the virus. 

I remain concerned, though, about the potential for me to spread the virus to others, should I be exposed. 

Enough uncertainty exists about whether vaccinated people might still be vectors and sources of contagion that I will continue to wear a face covering in public places -- again, not so much because I'm concerned about getting sick, but because I don't want to take a chance that I might be carrying the virus, not know it, and spread it to others. 

I'm lucky, I guess. I don't feel restricted by having my face covered. It's not uncomfortable for me. I understand neither of these things are true for many others. So I'll continue to cover up, for the sake of others, in public (unless I'm eating or drinking!), until I am assured that a large segment of the population has been inoculated. 

2. Today's Zoom meeting with Bill, Diane, Val, Bridgit, and Colette was, on the whole, a sobering one, often difficult. Bridgit lost her balance in a parking lot last week and fell, suffering broken bones, countless bruises, and other sources of pain. She's going to the hospital on Monday, the 29th, for surgery on the fractures. It's going to take her weeks, if not months, to heal, not only physically, but from the trauma of such a surprising and brutal accident. 

Colette worked for over thirty years in Boulder with developmentally disabled people. She helped clients in innumerable ways to, among other things, train for employment, find jobs, live independently, navigate getting around in the city, and many other things.

The gunman who killed ten people in the Table Mesa King Soopers store in Boulder on March 22, 2021,  murdered one of Colette's longtime clients, Teri Leiker. Teri Leiker worked as a courtesy clerk, a grocery bagger, at King Soopers for thirty-one years. Colette had been instrumental in helping her secure this job and continued to work with Teri regularly until Colette and her family relocated to Washington State a few years ago.

The slaying of Teri Leiker devastated Colette. Colette entrusted us, her friends, with as much of the story as she could tell, bringing Teri Leiker to life for us in vivid detail, telling us Teri Leiker's personal history, describing her personality, and detailing the relationship she had with Teri Leiker. We learned about how much Teri Leiker loved working at King Soopers, how she loved hugging people, high-fiving them, and how Teri Leiker articulated what she wanted in life and how she was able to make many of her dreams for herself come true. 

Why would I include the murder of Teri Leiker and Colette's grief in a daily accounting of beautiful things that happened to me?

To me, the way Colette has written about Teri Leiker online and the way she brought us into Teri Leiker's world today is beautiful because Colette's writing and telling of Teri Leiker's story, and her part in that story, brought the horror of this murder close to us, made it immediate.  Colette's accounts have not only animated the lost life of Teri Leiker, but her accounts have brought us intimately into the murder's impact on those who knew Teri Leiker, helped us experience that the effects of such brutality extend out far beyond the person killed. We could see the devastation in Colette's face, hear it in her voice, and could begin to comprehend it in her stories. None of the rest of us knew Teri Leiker, but we are now all involved in one dimension of the trauma her murderer activated when he killed Teri Leiker. 

3.  It was also quite a day in college basketball. With UCLA and USC winning their games today, three of the eight teams still in the tournament are from the Pac 12 conference. Gonzaga seemed to barely break a sweat dispatching one of my favorite teams, Creighton. UCLA defeated Alabama in a thrilling overtime game. My alma mater, however, had a lot of problems tonight. I've repeated this point about the Oregon Ducks over and over again: they have to get good production on offense from their four best players, Richardson, Omoruyi, Duarte, and Figueroa in order to have a shot at beating really good teams. If they also get production from Williams or get some production from the bench, it's a bonus.

Tonight, USC played a zone defense that befuddled the Ducks. They just couldn't get the ball in their best shooters hands in places on the court where they are at their best and often the shots they did get were rushed as they ate up time on the shot clock trying to penetrate the Trojans' great defensive scheme. 

All credit to the Trojans. Their defense disrupted Oregon, really made the Ducks struggle, and on offense the Trojans got great scoring out of their backcourt. The guards' shots opened up, in large part, because the tall and lanky Mobley brothers established themselves as a potent scoring threat inside early on and as the Ducks collapsed their defense on them, the Trojans peppered the basket with deadly outside shooting. 

This game was never really in question. Early on, USC established dominance over Oregon and beat the Ducks handily, 82-68.

Now USC plays Gonzaga.

I don't really know what to expect. 

The Zags have never played a team quite like USC -- nor has USC played a team quite like the Zags.

It'll be fascinating to see what gives. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/2021: EMERGENCY! LOL!, Oregon State Wins, Luna Chases Copper

 1. I dashed over to Yoke's this morning, set on buying the wine for Sunday's family dinner. Carol is preparing an Italian dinner and I volunteered to bring, as assigned by Carol, an Italian wine. I had asked Carol what to buy and she thought Yoke's usually carried a Chianti.

Well, maybe Yoke's in Kellogg used to carry a Chianti, but evidently there's either a very high demand for Chianti and Yoke's was sold out or Chianti isn't very popular in Kellogg so Yoke's doesn't carry it.

Either way, I came up empty.

I bolted back home, wrote a panicked email to Carol and Christy with the subject heading Family Dinner EMERGENCY! and sought their counsel. Christy said she might be going out to Barney's and, if she did, she'd see if Barney's carried Chianti. It turned out Christy didn't need to go to Barney's -- she found everything she needed at Yoke's! -- and so I sweat cold bullets for hours, waiting to hear from Carol.

Carol's delay made me think she didn't fully understand the gravity of the situation 😉, but, just as I was about to jump in the Sube with a willingness to search every wine cellar in North Idaho for a bottle of Chianti, Carol got back to me.

In six simple words, Carol quieted my anxiety and tranquilized my nerves: "A Syrah or Shiraz would work". 

My breathing returned to normal. My hands stopped shaking. I knew, because I had slowly and carefully read every wine bottle on the shelves at Yoke's that the store carries both wines. 

I will fulfill my obligation to Sunday's dinner and not be the cause of it's failure.

Thank goodness! 

2. There is definitely an unwritten rule in the unwritten book of unwritten rules that states that if a person is a graduate of the University of Oregon -- or even a fan of the Ducks -- that person must hate the Oregon State Beavers.

Was I ever grateful today that I've never submitted to nor obeyed that rule.

If I had, I would have denied myself the pleasure of watching the Oregon State Beavers men's basketball team knuckle down on defense, slowly, but eventually, find some rhythm on offense, and, in a physical grind of a game, defeat Loyola of Chicago, 65-58. Remarkably, the Beavers advance to the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament as a 12th seed, as the team picked in the preseason to finish last in Pac-12.

As I watched the Beavers win today, a few things stood out. First, without a doubt, their team leader, both in scoring and in temperament, is Ethan Thompson. He keeps the Oregon State offense organized, has a knack for scoring in pressure situations, and brings a contagious joy and confidence to each game. Secondly, the Beavers have about seven or eight next tier  players who are about equal in talent. The best of them is the explosive leaper, Warith Alatishe, and then the Beavers have a wave of hard-working defenders, some of whom who might get hot and score in double figures, but who come in and out of the game, giving one another some rest, play solid defense, and give the Beavers depth. The Beavers have also been, throughout the tournament, great from the free throw line, a particularly important strength late in these games when the Beavers have been protecting their leads.

Oregon State faces a stern test on Monday when they play the University of Houston. I don't know what to expect. Like Oregon State (and like Loyola-Chicago), Houston plays strong defense. Houston would appear to my (not that trustworthy) eye to have more players who are reliable scorers and they are a bigger and longer team than any the Beavers have faced so far in the tournament. 

A Beaver win would be astonishing, but astonishing wins have been the Beavers' trademark ever since they won four straight games on four consecutive days to win the Pac-12 Tournament and qualify for the Big Dance.

3.  I don't know that I'll ever figure out how Luna and Copper experience each other. On the face of it, I'd say Copper is sometimes intimidated by Luna, but other times they rest peacefully together on the couch and are definitely at peace with each other when we all go to sleep at night.

Today, and I don't know who initiated this, Luna and Copper got frisky with each other and I couldn't tell if the chasing, hissing, hiding, romping around from room to room was playful, if Luna was being aggressive and asserting her dominance, or a combination of both. 

This chasing around lasted no more than ten or fifteen minutes and then Luna and Copper retreated to their usual places. I wondered, at one point, if they were having a territorial dust up over my bed. Usually I keep Luna and Copper out of my bedroom because Copper was, on occasion, taking dumps on the bed.

Copper always wants to be in that room and, because I knew he had just done his business in the litter box, I left the bedroom door open and Copper immediately made himself at home on the bed. 

I think the chasing around started soon after Copper jumped on my bed and that makes me think that Luna wanted to make sure Copper knew who rules the roost.

No harm resulted, just some commotion, and an interruption to the usually calm and quiet lives Copper and Luna normally live day to day. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/26/2021: Walking Wallace, Pine Creek Tavern, Sleeping with Luna and Copper

1. My favorite places to go walking are near water -- I especially enjoy walking paths that go around a pond or a small lake -- and walking in towns and cities. One of the things I enjoyed most about living in Maryland was having a small lake just a stone's throw away from our apartment home and being able to walk in along other watery areas. I also loved walking the streets in Washington, D.C. and the same was true in Eugene. In Eugene, I enjoyed combining walking city streets and walking near water when I'd walk through neighborhoods near our house and then along the Willamette River and end up at Delta Ponds in North Eugene.

I have to admit, I haven't found comparable experiences since moving to Kellogg. The closest -- and it's a very good experience -- is when I hike along creeks, say on the Coal Creek Trail or the Pulaski Tunnel Trail. 

This morning I thought that it might be fun to walk the streets of Wallace's downtown. There are blocks in downtown Wallace to walk up and down and I'm always wanting to get the geography of downtown Wallace a little clearer in my head. 

So that's what I did. I parked on 5th Street and walked Pine, Cedar, Sixth, Seventh, Fifth, and Bank -- not in that order -- in a circuitous route, reminding myself where different places are -- like Blackboard Market, Wallace Brewing, Cogs Gastropub, Slab Meat, Fainting Goat, Eureka Sally's, and other spots. It's too bad I wasn't hungry or feeling like having a beer -- it would have been fun to stop in somewhere for a refreshment, but I just walked for about 25 minutes and racked up over 2000 steps. 

This walk didn't satisfy my ever present yearning for walking in a city -- I won't lie -- but it was pretty good and I can see myself returning to try out other routes and expand upon what I did today.

2. After walking, I felt like driving for a while. I didn't get on the freeway. I drove the old highway to Osburn, on into Kellogg, and then drove uptown and headed west on McKinley, out of town, to Smelterville and eventually to Pinehurst. 

I started feeling a little hungry. I also have been imagining going to an out of the way tavern in Shoshone County for a bottle or two of Miller beer.  

Ah! The Pine Creek Tavern!

I walked in the Pine Creek Tavern and two men were at the bar and every table was vacant. I sat down at a table, ordered a Miller beer and a hamburger with fries. 

The beer was just what I wanted. It was kind of sweet, easy to drink, very cold and refreshing. It tasted great with my thick burger dressed with mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onion, and dill pickle. It tasted good with my fries and fry sauce, too. As I've written about in abundance over the years, I love craft beers, but I don't enjoy them very much with food. I like to drink craft beer and then eat or eat and then drink craft beer, but, on the whole, I don't enjoy most craft beers while I'm eating.

It's a whole different story, though, with American mass produced lagers. I really enjoy washing down a burger and fries or slices of pizza or even a breakfast of hash browns, sausage, and eggs with a Budweiser or a Miller or a Rolling Rock. Sometimes, I like to combine orange juice with an American lager or tomato juice or a V-8. 

Today, it had been at least a year or more since I'd enjoyed a cold Miller beer served out of a Shoshone County tavern/bar/Lounge cooler turned way up. 

I was so happy when I returned home that I sat in my chair, put my feet up on the ottoman, enjoyed Luna affixed to my chest, and fell into the old familiar burger-fry-Miller beer sleep I relish when I have had one of these lunches.

3. I awoke from my afternoon hibernation and looked at my pedometer and decided I'd like to get in over 3000 steps today. I don't have a lot of stamina right now and I'm wanting to build it up so I can return to hiking in the hills. At first, I thought I'd walk down to the Gondolier convenience store and pick up a bag of popcorn or some other snack, but my better self rejected that idea and I just took a walk in the neighborhood and pushed my step total to around 3400. That is the highest total I've walked in quite a while. I decided that rather than berate myself for not having walked more, I'd congratulate myself for getting out and moving around. 

There are all kinds of rewards for any amount of walking I do, but the one I enjoy the most is the way it helps me sleep at night. My tired legs love the relaxing feeling of being stretched out at night and walking helps me sleep deeper and longer. Copper seems to enjoy it, too. While Luna spends the night either attached to or very near me from the waist up, Copper, who never makes contact with me during the day, presses herself against my lower legs at night. 

The three of us have some negotiating to do during the night as I am up about three or four times (at least) to visit the water closet, but we work it out and neither Luna nor Copper protest. In fact, sometimes they take advantage of my getting up to take a stroll in the house themselves, munch on a little food, have some water, visit a litter box, or, sometimes, Copper enjoys batting the little plastic golf ball with a bell in it around the living room and the hallway outside my bedroom for about ten minutes or so.

But, they always return, assume their spots, and we fall back to sleep again. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/25/2021: Good News for Luna, Christy Delivers Italian Bread, Chicken Tenders

1. First thing this morning, I drove Luna to see Dr. Cook who wanted to get a reading of the glucose in her blood after two days of no insulin. The result was awesome. Dr. Cook called me into an examination room. He was almost giddy as he explained that Luna has gone into diabetic remission and doesn't have to have insulin as long as her condition remains stable.  Luna has some dental problems that need attention. Dr. Cook has been delaying doing this, but with Luna's urinary tract infection cleared up and her glucose levels so good, she can have this dental work done on April 20th. Before sedating Luna and going to work on her teeth, Dr. Cook will get a glucose reading and if it's up again, I will have her insulin on hand in case she needs a dose. 

I know it might be a rough time for Luna in the couple or three days after the dental work, but I'll be very happy that she will be a much healthier cat after this work is done -- and, if I dare write these words, both cats will have had all the medical attention they need for a while -- a great relief to me. I want Luna and Copper to be as healthy as possible.

2. In the middle of the afternoon I was working a crossword puzzle and I saw Christy walking in front of my picture window. 

She had a loaf of bread in hand!

It's a gorgeous oval shaped loaf of freshly baked bread from Blackboard Marketplace in Wallace. 

Christy and I hoped it fulfilled Carol's request that we bring Italian bread to dinner on Sunday. Christy found an article on line spelling out differences between French bread and Italian bread. Upon reading it, I texted Christy a proclamation that I believe it's an Italian loaf, but also said that we'll find out for sure on Sunday. Carol will have the final say: she has first-hand knowledge of Italian bread because she's been to Italy. 🙏🙏🙏

3. It's been years since I've purchased a package of chicken tenders. There was a time, when we lived in Eugene, that I used to quite regularly pick up a bag of tenders at Trader Joe's. Today, while at Yoke's, I decided to buy some. Later on, I cooked them in the cast iron pan with a combination of sesame and olive oil and I made a batch of rice. I had a very simple meal of chicken and rice, made more flavorful with a combination of Teriyaki sauce and Bragg Liquid Amino.  I had some tenders left over and I definitely see a chicken curry bowl in my immediate future. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/24/2021: Dinner Bread, Ducks Defeat Georgia, Adding Zip to My Stew

 1. Carol is fixing an Italian dinner on Sunday for family dinner and I volunteered to bring bread, fix a cocktail, and bring wine. I'm not sure the kind of bread I want to bring is available in Kellogg. I planned on going to CdA to buy a loaf, but suddenly wondered if Blackboard Market in Wallace might sell loaves of something like Italian bread. 


It turns out Christy's book group is meeting at Blackboard Market on Thursday and she volunteered to check out their bread and buy a loaf that at least comes close to what Carol requested for dinner. I'll freeze it and thaw it in time for dinner.

2. Led by Sedona Prince and Nyara Sabally inside and by inexperienced Maddie Scher's remarkably steady play at the point (in the absence of injured players Tehina Pao-Pao, Jaz Shelley, and Taylor Chavez), the Ducks defeated Georgia, 57-50. I got to watch the second half and enjoyed it a lot.  I agree with Rebecca Lobo. In the time between being eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, the Ducks found a cohesion and developed a toughness I hadn't seen previously in this team, especially late in the season. It's a young team with a lot of new players and their season has been fragmented by injuries and Covid pauses, but in their victories over South Dakota and Georgia, they looked like a much stronger team. They played tough defense and did great work on offense getting the ball to the right players, especially to Prince and Sabally. 

I don't know if Sedona Prince has ever watched footage of Jack Sikma, but watching her shoot her feathery fade away jump shot along the baseline reminded me of Sikma's signature shot. I really enjoyed Sedona Prince's perfection of this shot, whether Jack Sikma had anything to do with it or not. 

3. I warmed up my remaining leftover chicken stew that I had frozen and thawed and decided to make it a little richer by breaking an egg into it as it heated up on the stove and I spiced it up a little with some red pepper flakes. It was a simple and tasty meal and made me think that I will break eggs into my soups and stews more often. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/23/2021: Good News at the Vet, House Cleaning, Tree House and Martini and More

 1. First thing this morning, I took Luna and Copper to the vet. Copper stuck around for a dental cleaning that went very well and he returned home in good spirits, demonstrating none of the after effects that can happen after being sedated and having the vet poke around in his mouth.

Luna was in for a quick blood glucose test and and a urinalysis. Her glucose number was stunningly good and Dr. Cook told me to not give her insulin for two days and bring her back in on Thursday morning for another glucose reading and see how things look. The urinalysis reading was also very good -- no infection, no glucose. We'll see on Thursday if her glucose numbers remain good and if they do, Luna will have another break from insulin shots. Then I'll bring her back in two weeks and see how things look then.

It was a good day for Copper and Luna (and for me, I guess).

2. I took a break from college basketball games today and focused on some housecleaning and laundry. Things had gotten a little ratty around the house and I vacuumed, swept, changed my bed sheets, and got some other things spiffed up. Honestly, though, this house cleaning never really gets done, but it was satisfying to make some progress.

3. Bill Davie took last Tuesday off and returned tonight for Tree House concert #45. I think the week off refreshed Bill's energy and gave him a chance to relax. His energy when he performs is always good and he seemed particularly jazzed tonight. The many people who tuned in tonight were grateful that Bill was back and expressed support for his need to slow things down a bit and take a brief sabbatical. 

I especially enjoyed tonight's poetry break. Documentary film maker Haydn Reiss recently introduced Bill to Tony Hoagland and Bill read about half a dozen poems from Hoagland's last book, Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God. I relished Hoagland's long lines, so full, and the many surprising and often profound turns that happened within his poems. 

I enhanced the enjoyment of this evening's concerts by mixing a couple of dry gin martinis up and stirred. I hadn't drunk a martini in over a month and both of them were very satisfying. During the concert, I let a combination of diced tomatoes, butter, and half a white onion simmer on the stove top. When Bill wrapped things up, I boiled some penne pasta and poured the sauce I made over it. If I'd had a little red wine on hand, this would have been a perfect meal -- but imperfect can be really good, too, and his bowl of food was, in fact, really good. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/2021: Sube in the Shop, Young Shin's Ramyun, Ducks Defeat South Dakota

1.  I needed to have a Sube problem, indicated by the check engine light, taken care of in Coeur d' Alene. So, this morning,  I vaulted into the Sube, blasted off, but eased off the rockets a bit going over the slushy 4th of July Pass, and arrived on time for my appointment. I brought a crossword puzzle book and it kept me occupied for the two and a half hours or so I waited for the job to get finished. The problem was just what I'd been told it was when I had a scan performed at Silver Valley Tire. As I paid my bill, I had a very good conversation with Ryan about the future of the Sube. I have known for quite a while that a major maintenance job is due soon - so we talked about that - but we also talked about how impressed the mechanic was with what good shape the Sube is in after 17 years. I was happy to hear that -- I've been conscientious with the maintenance and upkeep of the Sube. That attention has worked. 

2.  Just for old time's sake, I filled the Sube with gas at Costco. It didn't need much.  I then reversed field and drove out to the Prairie Pavillion. I'd read a lot about it, but never been there.  Prairie Pavillion is a collection of food trucks. Not all of them were open, but I was happy to see that Young Shin's Korean food truck was. I ordered a bowl of Ramyun, spicy, not mild, with beef. I took the container back to the Sube and loved eating the Ramen noodles, egg, vegetables, and cheese and drinking the spicy, rich broth from the container.  The Ramyun warmed my body and eating Korean food for the first time in quite a while also lifted up my spirit. 

3.  Because my television service doesn't offer the Pac-12 Network, I've hardly seen Ducks play this season. I missed the men's game with Iowa this morning because I was at the auto shop, but I got to watch the women play this evening against South Dakota. The few times I've seen the women play, they have seemed unsure of themselves, fragmented. I think that's had to do with injuries, Covid pauses, and with the team being so unfamiliar with one another.  Tonight, the Ducks played suffocating defense. Erin Boley played superbly, scoring 22 points, and the Ducks defeated South Dakota, 67-47. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/21/2021: Unpredictable, Beavers Triumph, Family Dinner

1. Increasingly, I'm learning that I cannot imagine what might happen when one team plays another by thinking about what they've done against other opponents. Earlier in the season, I watched Loyola-Chicago have to play an overtime period before defeating Southern Illinois, a lesser team in their conference. Judging from that game, I would have said that the highly regarded Illinois team, seeded #1 in their region, would dispense with Loyola-Chicago with little trouble. But, today, the teams met and the game I imagined was very different from the game that actually happened. I would have never imagined that Illinois would be so frustrated by Loyola-Chicago's defense and that Loyola-Chicago would be able to dictate the pace of the game and play so well against Illinois' defense. But, Loyola-Chicago outplayed Illinois today and beat them, 71-58. It was entertaining and almost, for me, unbelievable.

2. Another entertaining and unbelievable game featured Oregon State and Oklahoma State. I had watched Oklahoma State play several times this season and was very impressed with their quickness and physical play and was really impressed with their superb 6'8" all-purpose freshman, Cade Cunningham. Oregon State had had a middling season in the Pac 12 conference, but they won four games in a row to win the conference tournament and had surprised Tennessee, beating them handily on Friday. 

Tonight, Oregon State missed 11 of their first 12 shots to begin the game, but turned their performance around in the first half and dominated Oklahoma State as the half progressed, leading by 14 at halftime. Oregon State had some rough stretches in the second half, but they hit shots at well-timed moments, matched and often exceeded Oklahoma State's toughness on the boards, and, relying largely on Ethan Thompson's steady hand and excellent shooting, especially at the free throw line, defeated Oklahoma State, 80-70. 

3. Around 4:30, Christy, Carol, Paul, Paul's mother, Pat, Zoe, and Jason got together at Carol and Paul's for family dinner. Christy knocked this dinner out of Teeter's Field -- in fact, I think she hit the King Coal sign -- with her lemon Italian chicken, potato salad, and stuffed celery.  I brought a batch of slow cooked baked beans and Zoe baked rolls. Carol and Paul provided wine and Zoe made a killer chocolate mousse for dessert.

With our expanded number of diners, our conversations ranged far and wide, getting caught up on family news, sharing our basketball observations, and finding ways to have plenty of good laughs. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/2021: Kitchen Efforts, Highlights and a Lowlight, Feeling Better--Protecting Others

 1. I medicated Copper and Luna for fleas after I fed them and gave Luna her insulin shot and her dose of antibiotics and then I headed to Yoke's for a quick trip. I volunteered to bring baked beans to family dinner on Sunday. I found a recipe for crockpot baked beans -- a convenient recipe to put together while watching 150,000 college basketball games -- and needed to buy some bacon and onions. 

I'd soaked a pound of navy beans all night. I drained them, put them in the crock pot, and added a chopped onion, a quarter pound of bacon pieces, molasses, brown sugar, and a combination of freshly produced chicken stock and water.

The chicken stock had been bubbling away since Saturday and was ebony, flavored with parsley, celery, bay leaves, onion, and cilantro. I strained the stock, put it containers. One of the quart containers was only half full and I used that stock in the beans.

Now the beans just had to slowly cook for about eight hours or so and early in the evening I added in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I let the beans stay warm overnight and I'll check to see if I want them to be thicker when I wake up in the morning.

2.  Inevitably, watching hoops all day meant that I experienced one disappointment, but a lot of real pleasure. It disappointed me that Virginia Commonwealth Univ had to forfeit its game against Oregon because of Covid infections in their program. Oregon was scheduled to play late in the day and I was really looking forward to seeing how they would perform. 

But, I experienced some deep enjoyment. Eastern Washington University played a strong game against the mighty blueblood Kansas squad and it was fun to see the two Shadle Park graduates (from Spokane), brothers Tanner and Jacob Groves, play so well and to see EWU make this a highly competitive game. I guess I'd have to say that I never expected EWU to win it, but that the outcome was in doubt for about 75-80% of the game was a fun surprise. 

When I was in junior high through my college days, I was a dedicated UCLA men's basketball fan. It all started because classmate and close friend Terry Turner's half brother, Denny Crum, was an assistant coach at UCLA until the 71-72 season and I loved how UCLA played under Coach John Wooden. 

Well, it's been many, many years since I felt any excitement about UCLA, but I felt some of it again on Thursday when they defeated Michigan State and felt some of that old invigoration of my youth tonight as UCLA battled BYU and defeated the Cougars, 73-62. 

A new experience for me, since I lived in Maryland, is to get excited about watching the Maryland Terrapins play basketball and I loved how they played tough defense, deliberate and disciplined offense, and defeated UConn, 63-54. 

I stopped watching Gonzaga waltz to its 98-55 victory over Norfolk State because on another channel the Wildcats of Abeline Christian, a school that's only been playing Division I basketball for about seven years, was playing a nail-biter with Texas, the champions of the might Big 12 Conference Tournament. My imagination was insufficient to even imagine that Abeline Christian could win this game, but by forcing tons of turnovers, playing a slow down style, keeping the game ugly, and thanks to a couple of game winning free throws in the game's last second, the Wildcats defeated the Longhorns by a point, 53-52. 

I could hardly believe what I witnessed.

3.  I wondered over the last couple of days if, when Byrdman and I lunched at MickDuff's, I might have picked up a bit of the Covid virus. On Thursday and Friday, I had slight discomfort in my throat, I was coughing about two or three times an hour, my nose was a little bit runny, and I felt some chest congestion. (Could have been allergies.)

I wasn't running a fever, though, and my taste and smell were fine. No headache. No nausea. No real feelings of fatigue. No malaise.

My rational mind trusts that if I was exposed to the virus, the vaccination helped my body fight it off.

But, my rational mind also knows that if I did pick up a bit of the virus, it's possible that I could spread it.

I decided to lie low for a few days and, when I go out, I'll cover my mouth and nose.

I'm not concerned about getting sick myself. I trust the vaccine.

But, the jury is still out regarding whether vaccinated people might spread the virus -- and, so, I will be mindful of protecting others, especially at family dinner on Sunday and at the auto repair shop on Monday. 

Oh! By the way, I felt fine today. No hint of a sore throat, no cough, no sinus drip, no tingling in my chest - and my energy was good.

I just thought, so when I look back on this blog one day, that I'd establish a record of what the days after Wednesday's road trip looked like and how I was thinking about my health and, more important, the health of others and what I decided to do. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/19/2021: Disinterested vrs Uninterested, Fun Games, Roam for Foam

 1. Although often used interchangeably, the words "uninterested" and "disinterested" mean two different things. Uninterested means just not caring. These days, I'm uninterested in college and professional football. I pay enough attention to the sport to know what teams are doing well so I'll know what the interested people around me are talking about when the subject comes up, but, on the whole, I don't care about football any longer. I'm uninterested.

When it comes to college basketball, I'm much more disinterested. I care a lot about the game, love seeing college basketball played, and enjoy spending hours watching teams go at it. 

But, I'm mostly disinterested -- that is, I don't have a lot of investment in the games' outcomes. Now, I am not disinterested when the Zags play nor when the Ducks play. If they were in the tournament, I would not be disinterested if St. John's played. When the Ducks and Zags play, I'll have a vested emotional interest in the outcome, but for almost all the rest of the games, I am eager to see them played well, I enjoy the drama, I like to be surprised when lower seeded teams defeat teams supposedly their superior, but I'm largely disinterested in the outcomes. This is very unlike my younger days when I was a raging partisan. (I learned this from my father.) 


I still hold on to some irrational partisanship. As my dad used to say, during the Cold War, about teams he rooted against, "I wouldn't root for ______ if they were playing Russia." I feel the same way about Syracuse. No disinterest there. No rationality, either! I wouldn't root for Syracuse if they were playing Russia.  Please. Do not ask me to be consistent.

These games are a source of deep pleasure, no matter who wins. Oddly enough, I'm surprisingly removed, emotionally, from whether my picks in my brackets are successful. I find it fun to join with other people and see how their brackets turn out and I'm very interested to see how it all comes out, but I today I responded to my successful picks the same as the ones I missed. I said, "Oh well. The games were sure fun to watch."

I mean really fun!

2. Today featured a lot of fun games. Three games went into overtime and two of those resulted in exciting upsets as North Texas upset Purdue and Oral Roberts shocked Ohio State. To my surprise, Oregon State handily defeated Tennessee. Oregon State was picked to finish dead last in the Pac-12. They came alive and swept through the conference tournament, but I figured they'd be gone after one game in the national tournament. No way! Do beavers pounce in the wild? I don't know -- but I do know that the OSU Beavers pounced on Tennessee right from the get go, defeated them handily, and now must face another OSU, another orange and black squad, the very tough Oklahoma State Cowboys, on Sunday.

3. Equally fun to watching these games is texting with Byrdman and T2 throughout the day. I also had a few online conversations with Stu. My favorite exchange of the day wasn't about basketball, though. Back in July of 2013, Byrdman, T2, and I got together at T2's house and, after drinking some beer on Terry's patio, went on a roam for some foam. Today, Byrdman recalled our trip to Beermongers and he (and I) really enjoyed our pour of Ayinger Helles Lager. I shared a daydream I'd had the other day, coincidentally, that featured the three of us roaming for foam again in the Portland area. It was so much easier to do these get togethers back in the years around 2013. I lived in Eugene. One of Byrdman's sons lived in West Linn. We were all retired. But, now, of course, I live in Kellogg. Byrdman's son no longer lives in Oregon. I'd be up for making an Oregon road trip with Byrdman one day to pay Terry another visit and to go on another beer hunt together. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-18-2021: UCLA in OT, Two Minute Bracket, Snow Melted

1.  Of the four NCAA basketball games I watched today, my favorite was UCLA's overtime win over Michigan State. UCLA came from behind late in regulation and tied this game and jumped on the Spartans early in the overtime and hung on to win. Michigan State always plays a punishing game, lots of physical contact, with a primary emphasis on rebounds. For much of this game, UCLA would seem to have snared rebounds, only to have Michigan State muscle the ball away from the Bruins. This changed late in the game and in the overtime. UCLA fought to maintain possession of their rebounds, got stronger and stronger on defense, and made some clutch plays offensively helping them secure the victory, 86-80. Today's other winners in the first four games were Texas Southern, Drake, and Norfolk State (who will face Gonzaga).

2.  After these games concluded I decided to take the two minute approach to filling out my bracket and submitting it to Sharann and Doug in Bend. Rather than try to rationally figure out who might beat whom in the tournament, I decided that the tournament is such a crap shoot that I would just make quick decisions, pick some of my favorite teams, and live with it. I decided that even though I'll be surprised if Gonzaga wins the tournament, that I would, out of loyalty and wish fulfillment, pick the Zags to win the whole thing.

3.  I took an easy walk up to where the Health and Wellness Trail starts to see if the snow has melted both on the high school trail and the trail up the hill. It has. Before too long, I'll start huffing and puffing up the hill and start building up some stamina again. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/17/2021: Road Trip, Alpha Dog at Laughing Dog, Porter Memories and Beef Stew

 1. I leapt into the Sube and rocketed over the Fourth of July Pass and made a soft landing at Byrdman's house and we piled into his pickup and headed north for a North Idaho road trip. Today marked the two week anniversary of my second Covid vaccination and Byrdman's been fully vaccinated for a while now and so we decided now was the time to get back out and drive around our part of the state. We drove as far north as Ponderay, ID. It was a sunny day so we could see for miles all around us, a gorgeous day in the Panhandle with sapphire lakes, snow-capped peaks, and some wide open prairie land.  We also got in some serious yakking.

2. We made a couple of stops. I've written before in this blog that I really enjoy the Laughing Dog Brewery tasting room in Ponderay.  Byrdman and I stopped in there today. For a while we were the only customers. I was last in this tasting room back in September of 2019 as I wrapped up the excursion I took back then to Crawford Bay, BC. We walked in and immediately I felt at home. While I've been staying at home so much over the last several months, I've focused on what I enjoy at home and rarely thought about what I wasn't doing. As a result, I hadn't even been thinking about the beers at Laughing Dog Brewery! At first, when I looked at the tap list, it was as if I'd never seen it before. I liked that. It meant I hadn't been wishing I could be elsewhere while at home -- just the approach I wanted to take.

But, then it came back to me -- Laughing Dog brews a hop bomb of an Imperial IPA, the Alpha Dog. I ordered a 10 oz glass and it was just right. I'd let myself, on purpose, forget the deep pleasure I experience when drinking a freshly drawn Imperial IPA in a tap room, and I enjoyed having that sensation return. I loved that they serve beer in a 10 oz glass and decided I'd go for a second and not only did I enjoy its taste, but I enjoyed the slight euphoria it gave me.

Unless things have changed here in the Silver Valley, no local breweries serve an Imperial IPA. Now I might find out differently in the months to come, but since they are not available here, it makes it all that more scintillating when I go to Cda or Ponderay or elsewhere and can enjoy one of these favorite beers of mine.

Ha! I admit it. While drinking the Alpha Dog, I let my mind drift back to the Northeast reaches of Washington, D.C. and relived, as best I could, Sunday afternoons with Debbie at DC Brau, drinking  flavorful glasses of On the Wings of Armageddon, one of my favorite of all Imperial IPAs.  I did not remain completely in the moment at Laughing Dog!

3. Byrdman and I drove a little ways south, back to Sandpoint, and stopped in at MickDuff's Pub to try another beer. We sat at the bar and I had another just awesome beer flashback moment. 

Let me take a moment and say that when I began drinking craft beers in some earnest back in 1996, the porter was a much more popular beer back then than it is now. In fact, unless this has changed, McMenamin's no longer makes the Black Rabbit Porter, one of my favorites back in the late 20th century.

Anyway, as I perused the MickDuff tap list, not really wanting another IPA, to my delight I saw they brew and serve a porter called the Knot Tree.  I took a sip and realized it was just what I wanted: kind of toasty, definitely chocolate-y, with the pleasing taste of espresso coffee right alongside. 

Again, I enjoyed the Knot Tree porter in the moment I was drinking it, a lot, but I also enjoyed the magic carpet ride this beer gave me back to Eugene, back to the High Street Pub, the 19th Street Pub, and Sam Bond's Garage, especially in the winter and spring of 1997. I had some students back then with whom I enjoyed Friday afternoon trips to a pub. I often ordered a porter. The beer was great and the memories of yakking and laughing might even be better.

By the way, as Byrdman and I finished our first 10 oz pour at MickDuff's, we decided to have a bite to eat. MickDuff's had a special St. Patrick's Day menu and, to my delight, offered a beef stew that included Knot Tree Porter as an ingredient. The beer added a welcome sweetness to the stew that I enjoyed completely.

Today represented a small leap of faith in chemistry, biology, and immunology for me today. I will probably lie low for a few days, hoping my trust and faith in being inoculated was warranted. It was sure a fun test drive today! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03/16/2021: Roaring Over the Pass, Haircut, Daft Badger Visit

1.  It's good to know that if I fire up the Sube and point it toward Coeur d'Alene that, despite all its inactivity over the last year, it can roar over the 4th of July Pass.

The Sube has a problem, though, that I can't really explain well, and I drove over to the auto repair shop to talk it over with Ryan and schedule an appointment to get the problem taken care of. Ryan used to be the service manager at Reliable Auto and I visited him several times there with questions. I liked dealing with him. Reliable closed in 2020 and recommended that customers follow Ryan to Lakeside Automotive.

So I did.

I go back on Monday morning and hope to get the problem solved and the check engine light off.

2. I could probably go back in this blog and check, but, as I write this, I can't remember the last time I sat down for a haircut. I dropped in at Supercuts today and, after a short wait, put my locks under the care of Jessica and left feeling grateful that my hair will not, for the foreseeable future, fall into my eyes at night, tickle me, and wake me up. That feels really good.

3. After gassing up at Costco, I decided to have lunch at Daft Badger. I've been impressed with the measures proprietor Darrell Dlouhy and his staff have been taking for their customers during the pandemic. I sat at an outdoor table, near a heater, and ordered a pint of fresh hop Ekuanot IPA. I won't go so far as to call it an ecstatic experience, but I sure enjoyed drinking a fresh pint of beer drawn from a keg. I also enjoyed the Reuben sandwich and garbanzo bean salad I ate for lunch. I thought the homemade Russian dressing on the sandwich made it particularly delicious. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-15-2021: The Vet Was Right, Next Step for Luna, Brackets Will Wait

1.  It's kind of a reach, but, still, it's what happened today. When the vet, Dr. Cook, called me (unexpectedly) today, he had good news: the analysis of Luna's urine came back and Dr. Cook's educated guess last Tuesday as to which antibiotic would work best to knock out her UTI was correct. It reminded me of when, in November of 1999, I arrived at Sacred Heart's Emergency Room. I was critically ill (turned out it was bacterial meningitis) and a doctor made an educated guess as to which antibiotic to start me on before the results of the spinal tap came back. He guessed right and it saved my life. I got better, eventually. Luna is doing much better, too, and has been for several days.

2. Dr. Cook also outlined the next step for keeping tabs on Luna's diabetes. I'll take her in first thing in the morning next Tuesday, about 12 hours after her previous insulin shot. Rather than Luna being at the vet's all day, being checked every two hours, Dr. Cook will get a reading and see how her blood looks since the previous evening's shot. We'll go from there -- is the current dosage right on? Does it need to change? Is it time to begin to change Luna's diet? 

We'll see.

3.  Bracket Commissioner Doug sent out an email today reminding us that, in our pool, we are not picking the play-in games, so I won't be filling out my bracket until after those games are completed, on Thursday evening. I can get started on other picks, but, until that email came, my plan had been to get the job done today. 

No such luck! 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-14-2021: Toss Ups, Zoom Talking, Family Dinner

1. I know, I mean I KNOW, that I do not have the kind of analytical mind required to look at an NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket and make intelligent choices regarding winners and losers of each game. 

I know it.

Nonetheless, I am going to enter a pool administered by Sharann and Doug. I'm not going to pretend to be able to predict much of anything, so I'm going to, when faced with what I think is a tossup, pick the team I want to win. 

This does present a slight problem regarding the overall bracket. I would love to see Gonzaga win this tournament, but I would also love to see the Oregon Ducks win it. Back in 2017, the Zags and Ducks both advanced to the Final Four, but Oregon lost in the semi-finals, so the Ducks didn't play the Zags, saving me a difficult dilemma. Maybe I've written about this before -- I can't remember -- but I think I'm on record as saying that if they played each other, I would probably lean toward the Ducks. I'm an alum. I lived in Track City for about thirty-five years. I developed an attachment.  But, once the game got underway, I might be surprised. I might discover that being born and raised in the Inland Empire, having great memories of the days when the Zags were in the Big Sky Conference, and living now in Zag Country might move me to root for them.

My guess is -- and I don't actually think they'll meet in this tournament -- I would take joy in the outcome and be happy for either team's success.

2. Today, Bill, Diane, Val, and I had a, to understate it, stimulating couple of hours of conversation on Zoom. Bill, Diane, and I were the first ones on and had a lot of fun talking about Kenneth Branagh movies from about thirty years ago, paying special attention to Much Ado About Nothing and Dead Again and the Patrick Doyle soundtracks. We also talked about the Zoom chat Bill and Diane recently had with documentary movie maker Haydn Reiss and this led us to talking about Robert Bly, the death of Tony Hoagland, and why interviews with Lawrence Ferlinghetti (weird mood) and Galway Kinnell (dementia) were not in Reece's movie about Robert Bly.  The mention of Galway Kinnell reminded me that I had read an anthologized version of his poem, "After Making Love, We Hear Footsteps" and I thought it was missing a line about the mental capacity of baseball players. Bill got out the poem as it originally appeared in Mortal Acts, Mortal Words and, sure enough, the original had the line, but Kinnell edited it out in versions of the poem published later. I felt a small amount of pleasure that I'd noticed this change!

Val joined us and updated us on her grad school application process -- it's going very well -- and we got to talking about life in the USA and Bill put up the Jeep ad about meeting in the middle featuring Bruce Springsteen and we discussed it, largely as an ahistorical message that was meant to enhance Jeep's brand and that was grounded in the archetypes of flag, country church, the cowboy, and the cross. Our discussion was vigorous and was further enhanced by Diane reading aloud an essay her brother had written about the ad. I had avoided the ad, until today, because I so enjoy Bruce Springsteen as a singer, songwriter, and performer that I didn't want to experience him as an ad man. I relented, though, and enjoyed the conversation and Diane's brother's essay very much.

Our conversation turned to chronic pain, a subject, I'm sorry to say, that is a daily source of suffering for Bill and Val. Bill and Val opened up about what they experience, the things they do day to day to try to alleviate their pain, and shared their expertise, not only with each other, but with Diane and me, too.  This topic led us to contemplate the reality of uncertainty and the illusion of control in our lives. I talked a bit about all that I don't know -- when will I see Debbie and Gibbs again? What's going on with the pandemic? With ill friends? I've kept myself on a somewhat even keel by doing my best to accept the uncertainty, not fight it, and live the best life I can while not knowing what's next. Suffering and agitation and outrage about things way out of my control makes me miserable. So does wishing things were different. They aren't different. For the most part, they can't be. Knowing that, I do my best to find sources of vitality in my limited life (seeking, in Marlowe's words, "Infinite riches in a little room") and enjoy them. I am very fortunate that while I am chronically ill with a long-term slowly advancing kidney disease, I'm not in chronic pain.  I left today's conversation with great admiration for how Bill and Val live as they fully as they can, as fully as they do, day to day, while never being fully free of pain. 

3. I was in charge of family dinner tonight and I envisioned a simple meal. I had made two soups, a fish chowder and a chicken stew. I asked Christy and Carol to team up and lay out some combination of sliced meat, bread, pickles, olives, cheeses, bread, and maybe crackers. I asked for a bottle of chilled white wine. Christy volunteered to make us each an Irish Kiss, a cocktail combining sparkling wine and a melon liqueur, garnished with a lime slice and served in a glass with the rim sugared. (I may not have described this 100% accurately -- I hope it's close.) We had a lemon fluff for dessert.

We had quite a bit of spirited conversation (not arguments) tonight about all sorts of things, ranging from the upcoming NCAA men's basketball tournament to our experiences living in other places where our work and our social life and, for me, my church life meant we got to be close to people who are culturally, ethnically, and racially different than ourselves -- whether in Glendive, Inchelium, Eugene, Spokane, Greenbelt, the Tri-Cities, WA, or right here in Kellogg -- whether teaching or working for a community college on Indian reservations, working in an alternative high school, teaching where we have, or living in Maryland and spending time out and about in the Washington, D. C. area.  I talked about Debbie's teaching experiences, hoping I was accurate, wishing she were in the living room to speak for herself. The experiences we talked about have and continue to enrich us and have broadened and deepened our view of things. I'm glad we can talk with each other so well about all these things. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-13-2021: Cooking Away, Basketball Memories, Cat Comfort

1. Sunday is Zoom Day and I'm in charge of the main meal for family dinner. I got it all prepared today. I started making this particular chicken stew when we lived in Maryland and it was fun to do it again. It involves cooking a whole chicken on the stovetop so, today, the house smelled really good while the chicken was cooking and got even better as I slow cooked the other ingredients, let the chicken cool off, and took the meat off the chicken's bones and finished putting the stew together.  I put the carcass in the crock pot with onions, celery, greens, and some seasoning and now a new batch of chicken stock is bubbling away -- more great smells. It was a very good day in the kitchen and I'm happy to have dinner for Sunday all ready to go. 

2. Today was another day full of college basketball. Late in the afternoon, I flipped on the Big Sky Conference tournament final between Eastern Washington and Montana State. EWU features two Shadle Park grads, the Tanner brothers, Lucas and Jacob. I had fun remembering when Byrdman, Stu, Lars, and I went to Spokane a few years ago and watched Shadle Park host the Kellogg Wildcats. Jacob Groves was a gangly freshman then. Tanner Groves had graduated. The next season, Shadle came to Kellogg. I saw Jacob play again. 

So, the other day, someone asked me if I'd ever seen any kids play in high school who then went on the play in any NCAA national tournaments. The only one I could think of was Charlie Sitton. I saw him play for McMinnville against Churchill at Mac Court with Roger P. in December of 1979.  Sitton went on to play for Oregon State in the early 1980s and he played in three Big Dances. 

Since Eastern Washington won today and qualified for the national tournament, Jacob Groves will be the second participant I saw play in high school. 

I sigh a bit. Had I been more adventurous in Maryland and gone to high school games, say, at DeMatha High in Hyattsville, I would have seen a bunch of future NCAA Tournament players compete in high school.

Obviously, my high school basketball viewing history is pretty limited!

3. Luna and Copper are enjoying the late winter sunshine in Kellogg. They find spots in the living room where they can sleep, spots where the sun shines upon them directly. Luna's infection seems to be cleared up. She's not making trips to the litter box frequently. Luna and Copper both enjoy joining me in bed at night. Copper makes his only physical contact with me during the night, pressing against my legs, below my knees. Luna sleeps right next to me, pressing against my upper torso and, as of late, at some point she paws me lightly on the face, her signal that she's ready to burrow under the covers where she spends much of the night. She seems to want to spend morning under the covers, too, after I get up. I take no pleasure in lifting her out of the bed, but, she must get her morning dose of antibiotics and her insulin shot on schedule -- so, I interrupt her peaceful morning rest. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-12-2021: New Tires, Ethiopian Longberry Coffee, Drama and Disappointment

1. Down at Silver Valley Tires, the guys removed my barely used this winter snow tires and replaced them with a brand new set of all-season treads. Big surprise awaited me at the tire shop! Ed was there. We yakked for a while in the shop and when his car was ready, he gave me a lift home so we could yak some more.

2. Earlier this week, Val emailed me and asked if I'd like some of hers and Mike's surplus Ethiopian Longberry coffee. You bet I did! I've never tried this kind of coffee before and so Mike ground me up some beans and the packet arrived today. I immediately brewed myself a 12 oz cup and I really enjoyed its floral quality and the way a slight hint of blueberry stayed on my tongue after I'd finished the cup. This cup of coffee has me thinking over my choice of coffee beans. For several years, I've been buying dark roast coffee beans, but this Ethiopian Longberry is a light roast. I like the chocolate-y, even caramel-y, sometimes smokey, flavors of the dark roast, but today made me think that I'm missing out on some pretty interesting flavors by not drinking lighter roasts. I see fun times with coffee ahead!

3. It was a thrilling day in college basketball. Of the games I watched, I especially enjoyed Creighton's win over UConn and the dramatic struggle between Baylor and OSU, with the up and coming OK State capturing the victory. I also experienced disappointment. I listened to the Ducks and the Beavers on the Oregon Sports Network and, to my ear, it sounded like the Ducks were flat tonight, in contrast to the Beavers who, to my ear, sounded energized and active. The Beavers beat the Ducks by eleven -- handily I'd say. It's tough to figure. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-11-2021: Concrete Done, Basketball Pandemonium, Morning Dew IPA

 1. The plumber came for about an hour today, mixed concrete in a bucket in the front yard, packed several of these buckets to the basement, and filled in the opening he made yesterday and smoothed it over. On Friday, he'll drop by for a second or two and replace the furnace filter and the job will be finished.

2. I'm not going to review all the basketball games I watched, or kept an eye on today, but it was a day filled with raucous pandemonium. I saw buzzer beaters, blow outs, players perform calmly under pressure, intense effort, and superior play throughout the day. I was especially happy the Ducks beat Arizona State, but I couldn't watch it. I'll listen to their next game with the Beavers online. I enjoyed watching Maryland defeat Michigan State, but am not very hopeful that they can do the same against Michigan. I'll also mention that I was very happy for the Georgetown Hoyas. They nipped Villanova by a point and it was moving to me that a freshman from Anacostia, Dante Harris, calmly converted the two free throws at the end of the game that provided the margin of victory. I had a great time yakkin' on the text machine much of the day with Byrdman and Terry Turner, exchanging piercing insights and a ton of wise cracks. 

3. I've mentioned before that I enjoy drinking craft beer the most when I'm with other people. I rarely drink craft beer here at home when I'm by myself. This afternoon, though, I suddenly wanted to enjoy my 22 oz bottle of Morning Dew IPA, a collaborative effort between Breakside Brewery of Portland, OR and Fat Head's Brewery of Cleveland, OH. I sipped on this one bottle of beer for much of the afternoon. It's a tropical tasting beer and I enjoyed the mango and pineapple flavors and the mild euphoria its 7.1 ABV gave me. It's a pleasant way to drink a beer -- pour out a few ounces, put a stopper in the bottle, return it to the fridge, sip, wait, pour out some more, and repeat this over about three hours. I sure look forward to being back in tap rooms and tasting rooms again. I liked having the sensation again that beer is good. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-10-2021: Luna's Day at the Vet, New Plumbing, Hodgepodge, (470)

1. Luna spent the day at the vet and had her glucose levels checked throughout the day. They fell low enough that her twice daily dosage of insulin will be only one unit per shot. She came home in good spirits, went right to the food bowl, and, at least this evening, did not make frequent trips to the litter box. I am hopeful that the antibiotics are knocking out the infection. I will take Luna back to the vet on March 23rd for another all day visit to monitor her glucose levels. Right now, I have to say, she's doing great and I'm happy to help her get her glucose levels stabilized. (By the way, the high levels of glucose encourage the growth of bacteria and so there is a correlation between this condition and her urinary tract infection.)

2. The plumber arrived today and cut and jack hammered a small section of the basement floor in the utility area, removed deteriorating and deteriorated cast iron pipe that was about seventy years old, and replaced it with more durable, slightly larger piping. He cleaned up the debris and will return on Thursday to pour concrete into the areas he had dug up. The job seemed to go smoothly and I'm happy to have made this improvement in our house. 

3. I grabbed a sandwich-sized Zip Lock bag of ground beef out of the freezer, thawed it and browned it in the cast iron pan, soon added chopped potatoes, frozen green beans, and frozen corn and this hodgepodge of foods cooked together tasted pretty good -- especially with a few dabs of catsup on top.

* It's Thursday morning as I write this. The Ken Lilyblad fund needs 470 dollars to reach its goal of 4000 dollars today. If you'd like to help Ken's family meet the costs of his memorial service, here's the link:

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-09-2021: Luna Needs Vet Care, Writing for Val, Roundball and Live Music ($495.00 to Go)

 1.  I appreciated the detailed care Dr. Cook gave Luna today. I dropped her off early this morning. I'd concluding from observing her in the litter box during her very frequent trips over the last couple of days that she has some kind of infection and I was right. I'll be treating her at home with antibiotics. Her glucose numbers have also increased significantly over the last month and I have agreed to treat Luna with insulin. When I brought Luna home, for the first couple of hours or so she was very restless, but by around six o'clock, she settled down, attached herself to me, purred, relaxed, and slept at my side all through the night. She was not making frequent litter box visits in the evening or through the night. I'm taking that as a good sign.

2.  Val asked me to write her a letter of recommendation to the history graduate program she's applying to enter and the most fun part of composing the letter was helping Val pursue the furtherance of her education. Equally fun, though, was remembering how much I enjoyed Val as a student in the spring of 1983, how willing she was to challenge things I said and to work so well with her fellow students. The course was an undergraduate seminar. It had a small enrollment. Members of the class got along really well and Val contributed much goodwill and many good questions and insights to our proceedings. I really enjoyed having the best features of that course come back to life again.

3.  My attention was divided at 7:00 this evening between keeping an eye on the second half of Gonzaga's come from behind win over BYU to win the WCC Conference Tournament Championship, with the television muted, and watching and listening to Bill Davie perform his latest Tree House Concert. Luna must have enjoyed the concert. She attached herself to my chest for all of it, no doubt relieved to be home from the vet and back where things are more familiar. Bill was having a woozy night. This happens some times because his MS flares up. He powered through his physical difficulties with grace and gratitude, thanking us all for being there to listen to him, to make appreciative comments, and help keep his spirit strong. 

* With today and tomorrow left, the effort to raise funds for Ken Lilyblad's memorial is just $495.00 short of the $4000 goal. If you'd like to help Ken's family reach this goal, here's where to go:

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-08-2021: Walking and Listening, Rebooting my Mind, Coffee and Nostalgia (Update)

 1. I extended my walking route a bit today and headed up the trail to the high school as far as the steps that go down to the hospital parking lot and made my way back home on Jacobs Gulch Road and Cameron Avenue. My legs felt better and I enjoyed listening again to the opening sections of The Warmth of Other Suns. I wanted to let those first pages settle more securely into my mind. The opening pages of this book elegantly establish the epic nature and immense importance of the great migration, during much of the 20th century, of black citizens out of the South into the Northeast, Midwest, and the West. 

2. As I printed out and started to read the research essay Val is going to submit as part of her graduate school application, I realized that it had been nine years since I'd read a research paper. I got a little ways into her paper and long unused habits of reading kicked in and I made a mark here, another one there, wrote a comment at this point and another at that point. Did I suddenly long to have a stack of research papers on my desk, all needing to be commented upon and graded? No way. In fact, after working with Val's paper, I needed a nap! 

I enjoy Val's essay a lot. Its thesis is grounded, in part, in the book Rising Tide -- I was very happy that Val had sent me the book and I read it. 

Now, I need to get my mind geared toward writing Val a letter of recommendation. I wrote  a letter of recommendation for Colette a couple or three years ago, but I'm not in the habit (like I used to be) and I'll need to oil some of the rusty gears in my brain in order to get this letter written! I look forward to it. 

3.  One of my private eccentric pleasures is making nostalgia driven coffee orders online. I'm not talking about my day to day coffee, but, rather, occasional coffee at home. I'm talking about coffee blends that bring up memories and feelings of times I've enjoyed in the past. So far, I've made a couple of such orders of Peet's coffee. I've ordered blends unavailable at Yoke's. 

Today, I ordered a couple of pounds of Eugene's Full City Coffee. Full City used to have a coffee house at the corner of 13th and High, near St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and I enjoyed sitting in there from time to time over the years. They also have a shop on Pearl St. in downtown Eugene and I had some very enjoyable times on my own and some wonderful coffee meetups with friends at that shop. Debbie and I dropped in there occasionally years ago and I loved that. So, I'm hoping, that when this order arrives and I make myself a cup of Full City Blend that I'll be able to return to days I enjoyed in Eugene, think about friends I rarely see any more, and enjoy the warm feelings that come with getting nostalgic. A full blend indeed! 

* The fund to defray Ken Lilyblad's memorial service is now 545 dollars short of reaching the $4000 goal. Here's where to go to chip in:

Monday, March 8, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-07-2021: Kitchen Attention, Shrimp Street Tacos, Beef Bourguignon Family Dinner, (Update)

1. I decided to bear down on getting the kitchen spruced up and brightened up the food prep surfaces, swept the floor, cleaned the stove top, put away dishes that were out, and washed other ones. I've decided to hold off on using the dishwasher until Tuesday's big plumbing job gets finished. 

2. With the kitchen looking better, I made a marinade consisting of soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and vegetable oil. I had thawed out shrimp and combined the shrimp and marinade in a zip lock bag to marinate -- I let it sit in the fridge for about 5 hours, turning the bag every once in a while.

I marinated the shrimp to put inside of street taco tortillas as an appetizer for family dinner. Once marinated, I chopped up the shrimp into smaller pieces. 

I decided I'd rather assemble the simple tacos at Carol and Paul's, so I packed up the tortillas and marinated shrimp along with chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Over at the Roberts', I used one of their skillets to  warm up the marinade and then cook the shrimp at the same time that I put the tortillas in the oven to warm.

All I had to do was fill each tortilla with shrimp and fold it over. I set out these tacos along with the lime wedges and chopped cilantro so Carol, Paul, and Christy could add however much they wanted. 

3. Then I mixed us each a Vieux Carre. It's a New Orleans cocktail featuring equal parts of rye whiskey, cognac, and sweet vermouth mixed with a smaller amount of Benedictine liqueur and some splashes of Peychaud and Angostura bitters. What really made this cocktail sing was the garnish: a single Luxardo Maraschino Cherry. What a difference a really tasty cherry makes! I loved how the cherry not only added a light fruitiness to this drink, but its subtle sweetness complemented the spiciness of the rye, helping to make this a smooth, herbal-y, tasty drink. 

When Carol gave us our dinner assignments earlier in the week, she revealed that she was making beef stew.

Carol went above and beyond simply making beef stew. She consulted her 2019 edition of the Silver Valley Community Cookbook, found Juli Zook's recipe for Beef Bourguignon, and went to work making this rich and mighty and mighty and labor intensive dish. It was a smashing entree. Carol also made a batch of cheddar cheese biscuits and Christy assembled a delicious and creamy cole slaw. For dessert, we enjoyed Christy's chocolate-y Irish Cream Cookie Bars. I enjoyed mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

So, this was, as is often the case, a dinner of new things. I introduced the Vieux Carre. I thought it would be fun to have a fish appetizer before eating a beef dish and thought tiny tacos would be fun. We'd never had them before. The Beef Bourguignon was, of course, a brand new entree and, as best I remember, Christy made us a dessert we’d never had before. 

I think Christy, Carol, Paul, and I agree that these Sunday dinners are a fun time to try out new cocktails and new recipes. I don't know what we'd do if one of our forays into different foods turned out lousy -- maybe a call somewhere for some take out food! 

* The effort to raise funds for Ken Lilyblad's memorial service has $770.00 to go toward the goal of $4000.00.  Want to pitch in? Go here:

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-06-2120: Saltine Crackers, Yakkin' with Gus, More Yakkin' with Jeff, (Update)

1. It probably doesn't sound like much, but it made a difference to me today. I shopped at Yoke's and bought a box of saltine crackers. Around the start of the new year, I'd quit buying saltine crackers. I got it my head that I was eating too many saltine crackers, but today I decided that saltine crackers would give me a lift. Buying a box of saltine crackers, coming home and eating some cheese and saltine crackers and later a few saltine crackers with butter and jam, comforted me. I filled in another square on my weekend comfort food Bingo card.

2.  I can't remember the last time I spent more time in one day talking on the telephone. Mike Masters called me shortly before noon to see how I was doing, tell me how things were with himself, swap some stories, reminisce about days gone by, and get some updates on mutual friends. He told me that at some point a couple of his Wardner friends nicknamed him "Mouse" and that gave me a chuckle and I didn't remember it. He also reminded me that when we played junior high basketball, his nickname was Gus -- as in former College of Idaho and Idaho Vandal great, Gus Johnson. I hadn't thought about that nickname for decades and it was a blast to remember when Mike was Gus. 

3. Around 9 p.m., Jeff Steve called me and we talked for a little over two hours. He had just finished watching Hamilton on Disney+ for the third time and called to ask if I'd seen it. I haven't. He told me about how and why Hamilton moves him and that catapulted us into a wide-ranging discussion about everything from Compline to the Tao to mutual friends we've known over the last nearly forty years to his kayak building business to his trip to Central America while at Whitworth to any number of other things. It was a scintillating conversation and a gave each of us the opportunity to reflect upon and talk about how our thinking about things and our spiritual experiences have evolved over the decades.

* A quick update: the Go Fund Me effort initiated by Ken Lilyblad's family to defray the costs of Ken's memorial service has set 4000 dollars as its goal. Just yesterday, this effort passed the 3000 dollar mark. They will reach their goal if they receive 870 dollars by Thursday. 

Want to help out? Here's the link:

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-05-2021: Luna is Groomed, Change of Mindset, Comfort Food, (Reminder)

1. Luna had a good day at the groomer. Dr. Cook had told me back on 02-10 that she might need a little more time to wake up after being sedated and that was true, but she was in good spirits when I brought her home about 4:30. Luna had quite a few mats and so the groomer shaved much of her fur (with my full approval) and I'm really happy that both Luna and Copper got these close cuts and aren't feeling whatever discomfort mats bring. When the cats first emerge from the crate having been shaved, they look odd at first, but I am not only getting used to their current appearance, I'm liking it. I'm very happy for them.

2. I find that now that I've received my second Covid vaccination, I am having to make a conscious effort to change my mindset about my future. I've been determined to accept and do all I can to enjoy all the time I've been spending in the house since last March 13th. I'm very grateful for the electronic wonders of the 21st century that have made communication via Zoom, text messaging, phone calls, and Face Time possible. I've felt connected with friends even though we haven't seen each other much at all. I'm also grateful for the time I spent with friends outside when it was warmer out. I've enjoyed reading so many books, watching good stuff on the Vizio, cooking, and all the other enriching things I've spent my time doing while I've mostly sequestered myself. I'm happy that Christy, Carol, Paul, and I worked out how to get together as safely as possible on Sundays for family dinner.

Now I'm beginning to imagine going out again and drinking craft beer on tap and yakkin' with friends. I've enjoyed all the cooking I've been doing, but I'm looking forward, when I'm ready, to dining out once in a while. I've also begun, after shutting out such thoughts for about a year, to think that possibly a road trip lies ahead some time in 2021. Eugene/Portland. The Oregon Coast.  Seattle. Missoula. Maybe even a flight back east some time.  At some point, Debbie and I might live under the same roof again. 

I'm not letting myself get carried away, but it's fun to imagine the possibility of doing some things I've calmly and without rancor not done over the last year. It's requiring a welcome change in my mindset.

3. I keep sandwich sized Zip lock bags about half filled with ground beef in the freezer. I probably cook with ground beef once every couple of weeks. I enjoy fixing ground beef soup and other meals.

Tonight, I chopped up a half a white onion and put it in the Dutch oven with a packet of ground beef. Once the onion was tender and the ground beef was browned, I added a can of red beans, frozen spinach, and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. While these ingredients warmed up and their flavors blended, I boiled a batch of rotini, drained it, and added it to the onions, ground beef, red beans, spinach, and tomatoes. I decided these ingredients had almost enough flavor without any more seasoning and all I added was some black pepper to this dish when I heaped it into a bowl.

I hadn't planned it this way, but it turned out that this meal filled up most of my comfort food Bingo card. I would have filled up one more square on the card had I added cheese to it. A cornbread crust on top would have filled another Bingo square -- but, I was very happy with this dish as it was.

* The GoFundMe effort to raise money for Ken Lilyblad's memorial service has now reached nearly 75% of its goal of $4000. If you'd like to help out and contribute to this fund, here's where you go can go:

Friday, March 5, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-04-2021: (Reminder), Building Up My Legs, Listening to Isabel Wilkerson, Thoughts About the Zags

* A reminder that KHS Class of 72 classmate, Ken Lilyblad, died on February 26th. In raising funds for Ken's memorial service, the Lilyblad family has $4,000 as its goal and are over halfway there . If you feel moved to add a donation, here's the link to the family's GoFundMe page:

1. I resumed my efforts to build some leg strength and some stamina after my winter layoff from walking. Right now, it seems best to walk for about twenty minutes. The current sunny and moderate weather makes this project much more inviting.

2.  I enjoy listening to books on Audible when I walk. For quite a while, I'll be  listening to Isabel Wilkerson's history of the great migration of African-Americans, from 1915-1970, out of the South and into the Northeast, Midwest, and the West. It's entitled The Warmth of Other Suns. I was interested in this book before I read Rising Tide. As I read Rising Tide, though, one of the book's central concerns was how the landowners in the South wondered what they would do for a labor force as African-Americans began to migrate to the north and the west. Now I will learn more about why and how this migration took place. 

3. After watching Baylor defeat Oklahoma State late this afternoon, 81-70, I began to imagine a game between Gonzaga and Baylor, should it ever happen. I tried to flip around my usual way of thinking about such a matchup. Normally, I contemplate all the challenges Baylor will present for Gonzaga: they are an active, athletic defensive team; they have several players who shoot a pretty high percentage from beyond the three-point line; they have depth; they love to run the floor when they turn other teams over; they have disrupting and active players inside. Baylor doesn't have overwhelming height inside, but their inside players are versatile, relentless, intelligent, and disruptive.

All of that will present great challenges to Gonzaga, should the two teams meet.

But I wanted to flip this question around and ask what problems, what challenges does Gonzaga present to Baylor? Would Baylor be concerned about containing Drew Timme inside? Do they regard him as a potential scorer against their active and physical inside defenders? How does Baylor regard Gonzaga's ball movement, their fluid offensive sets? Any special problems there? How about Gonzaga's versatility, their depth, the way they get points from multiple players (so does Baylor, btw), both starters and reserves? 

I can see, if I were Mark Few, what would keep me awake at night about playing Baylor. But I wonder what about Gonzaga would keep Baylor coach Scott Drew from sleeping? Coach Drew would have to think Baylor has an advantage in terms of physical strength and he'd have to know he has a better three point shooting team than the Zags, but what would Gonzaga bring anything to this matchup that offsets these advantages? What would make Scott Drew toss and turn on the eve of this game, should it happen? 

It's hard for me to predict what would happen if these two team were to meet. I have a much stronger sense of how Baylor plays against top-notch teams since the Big 12 is such a powerful conference; Gonzaga, on the other hand, plays in a weaker conference. They don't get challenged game after game by very talented teams the way Baylor has. 

Will this matter? 

I don't know. 

What I do know is that both Gonzaga and Baylor will face stern tests from different opponents in the NCAA Tournament and just getting to a game (it would have to be in the Finals) between these two is far far far from guaranteed. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-03-2021: (Appeal Again) Vaccination, Fish Chowder, Ducks Defeat UCLA

* The Lilyblad family has $4,000 as its goal and are over halfway there in raising funds for Ken's memorial service. If you feel moved to add a donation, here's the link to the family's GoFundMe page:

1. I leapt in the Sube and raced uptown to Heritage Health and didn't even have to get out of my car to receive my second Covid vaccination. I'm happy to write that, so far, no ill effects.

2. I picked up a few things at Yoke's today, including a couple of packages of fresh clams. When I returned home, I made a double batch of creamy fish chowder that included shrimp, clams, and chopped up salmon patties and used the crab stock I made from the Elks take out crab feed shells I got from Ed, Nancy, Jake, and Carol Lee. I loved the chowder, although I wonder if it might be too peppery for others who don't do well with peppery food. I froze two quarts and have another quart in the fridge ready to eat over the next few days.

3. It was sure fun watching the Ducks' men's basketball team play UCLA tonight in a game that would vault the Ducks into first place in the conference if they were to win it. Well, the Ducks did win this game, 82-74 and I enjoyed two factors in the Ducks' performance a lot. First, the Ducks' three senior starters, Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi, and L. J. Figueroa, made great plays at key times throughout the game, whether making steals on defense, scoring key baskets on offense, blocking shots, or drawing fouls. Even more, I was-come-out-of-my-chair-in-joy thrilled to watch the continued emergence of Will Richardson. He made a couple of shots late in this game that made me think his pre-injury confidence is returning and that this Ducks' team is reaching the point where they have four very reliable options on offense. Tonight, the fifth guy, Eric Williams, started the game shooting really well, a significant boost to the Ducks, and if the Ducks also get some points out of other supporting players, they will be really tough to beat.

Oregon closes out their season on Sunday in Corvallis against OSU, a team that defeated them early in the year and has been playing well, winning four of their last four games. 

The Oregon women's basketball team plays Oregon State on March 4. It's Day 2 of the Pac 12 Conference Tournament  and if I had the Pac 12 Network, I'd be glued to that game.  I will, however, listen to it online. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-02-2021: (An Appeal), A Short Walk, Riveting Matinee, Live from Seattle!

Ken Lilyblad, KHS Class of 72, died last Friday. His family is currently seeking donations to pay for his memorial service. If you'd like to help out, click to this link:

1. The weather has warmed up a bit. It wasn't raining. It wasn't snowing. The wind wasn't blowing. I seized the day and took a walk for the first time in several weeks. Oh, it wasn't a long one -- just about 3/4 of a mile to the mailbox in front of the now closed grocery store at Hill and Cameron, but it felt good to get moving again.

2. I watched a riveting matinee college basketball game today as the Baylor Bears seem to have come out of the funk they were in after a long Covid-related pause and defeated the energetic and sharp-shooting West Virginia Mountaineers, 94-89 in overtime. This was a scintillating tilt. Both teams played with passion, purpose, great skill, and determination. For a while in the OT period, I thought this game might go into multiple overtimes, but Baylor proved to be oh so slightly superior to West Virginia, even though it felt like both teams had won. 

If this game and the Ohio State/Michigan game on February 21st in any way foreshadowed the kind of intense competition we will see when the conference tournaments and the national tournament get underway, we will be in for an immensely entertaining few weeks of March Madness!

3. Tonight's Tree House Concert was a special two hour production featuring Bill Davie at home in the Tree House and Jim Page from his home, performing from the Bobcat Den. I first saw Bill and Jim perform together in my living room back in the fall of 1993 and from that time forward, have enjoyed the variety in their songwriting, the ways their songwriting and playing compliment each other, and, more than anything else, the fun they have together, the great delight they take in their friendship and the respect they extend to one another as musicians. As is so often the case when I hear Bill and Jim, their performance transported me into my own private world of memories and good times. I enjoyed the music in the present, while also enjoying a little time traveling back to Sam Bond's in Eugene, the community center in Deadwood, OR, and other times and places brought back to life by Bill and Jim's songs and performances. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 03-01-2021: Sominex Brunch, Crumbl and Tea, Solid Ducks' (m) Win

1.  I made home fried potatoes late this morning by boiling some some small Yukon golds, letting them cool, frying half an onion, chopped, with a clove of chopped garlic, and chopping the potatoes and adding them to the pan. I removed the potatoes and onions, fried two eggs, put it all together in a bowl and it was a simple and, as it turns out, relaxing brunch. I finished it and fell asleep for nearly an hour.

2. Christy made a trip to CdA today and met up with Teresa who bought her a belated birthday gift: a four pack of Crumbl cookies. She had two left and let me choose one of them. I selected a sugar cookie with chocolate (or was it fudge?) frosting. I brought it home, fixed a cup of Taylors Scottish Breakfast Tea, and slowly enjoyed, without a doubt, the best cookie I can remember ever eating. 

3. Once again, this evening, the three seniors, Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi, and LJ Figueroa spearheaded the Oregon Ducks' basketball team, carrying them to victory, 80-69. I am a little bit obsessed with wanting to see Oregon guard Will Richardson regain his confidence and full excellence now that he's rejoined the Ducks after having thumb surgery. Tonight he buried three shots from beyond the arc, made a gorgeous spinning move to the basket, scored, and drew a foul, and dished out five assists. He finished with 12 points and, to my eyes, played his best game this winter. I hope his improvement continues. I think if the three seniors and Will Richardson are all playing about as well as they can, the Ducks will be very difficult to beat as they finish the regular season and move into the conference and national tournaments. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 02-28-2021: Underdogs Prevail, Hellbender and Crab Pie Queen, ZOOM and Family Dinner

1. I woke up this morning feeling some measure of a satisfaction that I had already cooked my contribution to tonight's family dinner and so my Sunday morning and afternoon could be relaxing. 

I got to enjoy two college basketball games. One was a shocker, the other deeply satisfying. 

I'd say I saw two teams win today who, after slow starts to the season, are playing their best basketball at this late stage of the campaign -- and that's good. Teams want to be on the upswing coming into their conference tournaments and, should they qualify, be playing their best when the national tournament gets underway.

I turned on the Villanova/Butler game expecting the Wildcats to cruise to a ho hum victory.

Was I ever wrong.

I'm not sure what had Villanova rattled or why they shot so poorly. In these situations, I always want to give credit to the opponent's defense, so I'm letting myself believe Butler's energetic, determined effort had something to do with Villanova's poor showing.

I should say, at this point, that I am a fan of both Butler and Villanova. I didn't come into this game rooting hard for or against either team. But, I also gravitate strongly toward underdogs and Butler was the decided underdog in this game, especially considering that their best player, Aaron Thompson, was unable to play. In Thompson's absence, freshman guard, Chuck Harris played brilliantly, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the first half, and senior guard Jair Bolden complimented Harris with 12 second half beans. I thought Butler got a significant boost from the inside play of Bryce Golden and Bryce Nze who combined for 25 points.

The final score was Butler 73, Villanova 61. 

Next, I watched the improving Maryland Terps (my old home team 😀) play suffocating defense against Michigan State while playing more confidently and sharply on offense than I've seen them all season and, led by Eric Ayala's 22 points, defeat Sparty, 73-55. I'd seen Maryland play earlier in the year and they looked lost. I attributed their insecurity to having lost last year's point guard Anthony Cowan, Jr and their superb forward, Jalen Smith. Players who played last year in support of Cowan and Smith needed to figure out how to cohere without them and determine who their leaders would be. Today, they looked way more comfortable with each other than earlier in the season and I enjoyed seeing, in particular, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggens, and Darryl Morsell growing into their roles as team leaders.

2. I really had Maryland and Washington, D. C. on my mind today. A tweet from LT Goodluck popped up on my Twitter feed. He reported that he had walked 11.5 miles on Saturday, reporting that he and his wife had served over 200 pints of beer on the patio.

The tweet came from D.C. I wondered if I could figure out where he had served 200 outdoor pints.

With a tiny bit of work, I figured it out: LT Goodluck is a brewer at Hellbender Brewing.


I suddenly wanted in the worst way to jump in the Sube and drive for 36 hours the 2390 miles and get off of New Hampshire Ave NE and go up and down a few residential streets and make my way back to Hellbender.

Unable, exactly, to do that today, I settled for doing a Google map search for the route from our apartment home at 432 Ridge Road in Greenbelt to Hellbender.

When I did that, an eatery I'd never heard of, Crab Pie Queen, located near our former apartment, popped up on the map at 414 Ridge Road.  I could not for the life of me picture a structure at 414 Ridge Road and so I obsessed for about a half an hour, looking at pictures, reading about Crab Pie Queen, doing all I could to figure out what the structure looks like that houses this business. 

No luck. 

I decided that I would just have to return to Greenbelt as soon as possible, figure out where Crab Pie Queen is located, order a crab pie and some banana pudding, and then, at some point, cruise back to Hellbender Brewing and enjoy a pint or a flight of their tasty beers.

3. The rest of my day was jam packed with enjoyment!

Bill, Diane, Bridgit, for a few minutes, Val, and I jumped on Zoom this afternoon and had a wide-ranging conversation about movies, Shakespeare, illness and growing old, caring for the elderly, and even a word or two about cats. I think we might be moving forward with the idea of having me do some presentations for our Westminster Basement Study Group. It would mean having me awaken my former English teacher self from his nearly seven year slumber! My favorite subject matter to teach at LCC was the literary genre of comedy. It's possible that I might brush up on the question that's on my mind all the time -- what gives life vitality? -- and do a little yakking with my Westminster friends about renewal, community, togetherness, resurrection, and the other features that make literary comedy such a profound genre of stories, poems, movies, plays, and other writings.

After our Zoom conversation, I headed over to Carol and Paul's.

First thing, I put the Greek White Bean Soup I made on Saturday in a pot and started to heat it up. 

Then I mixed us each a Southside. I crushed a sugar cube with some water in a glass, poured that into the cocktail shaker, and then added gin and fresh lime juice. Also tossed in a smashed mint leave. I shook this up, poured it into each person's cocktail glass, added a mint leave, and PRESTO! we each had a Southside.

Tonight Christy spearheaded a Greek dinner. That's why I brought the Greek White Bean Soup as a starter.

Carol made a really delicious Greek salad, dressed perfectly.

Christy made her first ever Pastitsio. It's a Greek lasagne-style dish combining, basically, pasta, tomato, ground meat seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and Bechamel sauce into a layered dish.

Because I love meat seasoned with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves and because I love white sauce, I declared Christy's Pasitisio to have been enshrined tonight in the Family Dinner Hall of Fame (which doesn't exist, but it was fun to say!). 

To top off the evening, Christy made baklava cups served with limoncello, a perfect way to round out tonight's unforgettable and adventurous family dinner.