Sunday, May 30, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/29/2021: Back East Again, Beer Nirvana, Sloppy Joe Dinner

1. To my everlasting relief, everything went smoothly today as I flew from Spokane to Seattle and Seattle to Newark on Alaska Airlines and picked up the rental car I had reserved at Newark Liberty International Airport. I know it's odd because I live in North Idaho and I'm supposed to hate driving back East, but I could hardly wait to get back on the Garden State Parkway and the New York Thruway, read multiple direction signs with lots of arrows, and drive through E-Z Pass toll road stations and look at New Jersey service centers again. I loved driving from Newark to Valley Cottage and look forward to Monday's drive to West Wareham, MA to meet up with the Troxstar. 

2.  I'd only been to Valley Cottage once, a day or two after Josh and Adrienne's wedding, while they were moving into their new house. Upon my arrival this evening, Debbie poured me a genuine hop bomb, a Triple IPA, called More Political Flow, a collaboration between District 96 and Obercreek. It was perfect, packed with citrus flavors, refreshingly bitter, and amazingly smooth and easy to drink for such a power packed 10% ABV beer. I enjoyed a small glass of More Political Flow and then had another small glass of a second Triple IPA. District 96 asserts that F.O.A.P.B. (Father of All Photo Bombs) is the biggest IPA they've ever brewed. I'll take their word for it. It also weighed in a 10% A.B.V and deeply satisfied me with its multiple tropical and citrus flavors and its remarkable smoothness. 

As I sipped on these beers, I was reminded of a sunny day, February 4, 2017 to be exact. That day I visited Eastern Market in Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill neighborhood, visited Capitol Hill Books, and strolled on down to a quiet eatery called EatBar on Barrack's Row.

I ordered a Double IPA I'd never heard of, brewed in Astoria, Queens, NYC by SingleCut called Softly Spoken Magic Spells (the closing line of Pink Floyd's "Time"). 

I loved that beer. It put a magic spell on me. While there were many, many good reasons for us to move from Maryland to Kellogg in September of 2017, I knew that once we did, I would be giving up ready access to this kind of New York/New England IPA and now, nearly four years since our move, I continue to feel the loss.

But, tonight, sitting at Josh and Adrienne's dining table, back with Debbie after nine months apart, what once was lost now was found in the two beers I drank tonight and I experienced a small, but significant source of amazing grace.

3. Debbie also fixed a delicious dinner for all of us. I don't know the last time I had sloppy Joes (better than salami sandwiches). Debbie cooked up a delicious batch with potato salad and cabbage salad as sides. What an evening! I met my granddaughter Ellie, got to be around Jack and see how much he's grown up in the last couple of years, enjoyed a splendid reunion with Adrienne and Josh, and, as a bonus, Josh's sister and daughter, Andi and Nya are visiting this weekend. 

Three Beautiful Things 05/28/2021: Pre-Flight Aimlessness, Relaxing with Salami, Easy Airport Time

1.  I decided not to stay in Spokane Friday night before boarding my 6:00 a.m. flight to Seattle and then Newark, so I spent much of today wandering around the house, tidying up, cleaning up, trying not to forget anything, and trying to calculate when to leave the house for the airport and whether I wanted to sleep before I left. 

2. I was unusually nervous about this trip and to calm my nerves I turned to eating sandwiches made with Oscar Meyer salami, Cracker Barrel cheese, and mustard on Dave's Killer 12 Seed Bread accompanied by handfuls of Lay's Classic potato chips, and can after can of Coca-Cola minis. I realize it probably would have been healthier to calm down with yoga or Transcendental Meditation, but these sandwiches, chips, and cola really did the job. 

Tums helped, too.

3. Around 10 p.m., I decided to nap and slept off and on until about 1 a.m. Somehow, this was the perfect amount of sleep and, coupled with a shower, left me feeling refreshed and I was alert on my easy drive to the airport. I arrived shortly before 4 a.m., was the first person served by the baggage person at the Alaska counter and I flew through TSA in no time flat. 

I love getting to airports early and, since Starbucks was not serving salami and cheese sandwiches with potato chips, I bought a coffee, sat down, relaxed, and waited to board my flight. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/27/2021: Quick Shopping Trip, Rotini and Beans, Bacon and Eggs and Beans

1. I decided I needed some short sleeved shirts and shorts for my trip. I buzzed over to CdA and did some quick shopping at Kohl's and Fred Meyer and came straight home. No breakfast. No beer. No lunch. I just wanted to get this task completed and return home and continue preparing for my trip.

2. Years ago I was in Cincinnati and was staying near a Skyline Chili. I regret that I didn't try Skyline myself after our hosts told us they thought chili on pasta was weird. I've never been back to Cincinnati, but have since heard other people rave about Skyline Chili.

Oh, well. No problem. 

I bring this up because tonight I had some rotini in a bag and some of the beans around that I had prepared for Monday's family dinner.

I thought, well, why not try boiling up the rotini, covering it with my baked beans, and topping it with Parmesan cheese. 

I really liked it. I admit, it wasn't really anything close to what I've heard and read about Skyline's chili, but without knowing about Skyline, I don't think I would have imagined this combination.

3. Now that I think about it, I thoroughly enjoyed how I ate those leftover beans. Both today and yesterday I fixed myself a breakfast that was, to me, a variation on a breakfast entree I ate in England many years ago. I fried some bacon, fried a couple of eggs, and served myself baked beans warmed up with the bacon and eggs. I also brewed myself a cup of black tea. I admit, it wasn't exactly like the breakfasts of a banger, beans, eggs, and toast I'd eaten in England, it was a fun approximation. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/26/2021: Organizing, Cleaning, Cinematography

 1. I'm flying out of Spokane Saturday morning and today I started my nervous process of getting myself ready to go, trying to make sure I remember to take what I want and figuring out ways to occupy myself in the airport and on the plane. Read? Audio book? Podcasts? And, what do I need to shop for?

2. I like coming home to a clean house and so I started working on that, too. The other day I read a comment from someone who noted that now that they are older, it takes about twice as long to do household chores as it used to. I guess I was relieved to find out it wasn't just me. It seems like housework takes me forever these days, so that's why I got a jump on it today.

3. I'll send the dvd, Visions of Light, back to Netflix just before I head to Spokane, but, in the meantime, I will just keep watching it. I played it for about a half an hour before I went to sleep last night, savoring each of the segments on the cinematography of movies like The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, and Mildred Pierce and other film noir works.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/25/2021: Road Trip to Lewiston, Beer and Big Burgers at Effie's, Corner Club in Moscow

1. Jake and I met at Rose Lake Junction and powered over the 4th of July Pass into CdA and picked up Byrdman and the three of us bolted down US 95 to Lewiston where we met up with Stu, Lars, and Don K. at Effie Tavern. We all wanted to see Don and extend to him our friendship and company in the aftermath of the death of his oldest brother, Norman, who was hit by a car in Newport News, VA on April 17th. 

2. We arrived at Effie's, piled into the back room, grabbed stools at a high table, and ordered our drinks. Even though it wasn't noon yet, I'd been hankering for a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft and was very happy that Effie's carried this fine day drinking beer. Don arrived. He greeted each of us with a handshake and an embrace and before long we ordered our food. Effie's specialty is a one pound burger served on buns specially baked by Rosauer's. The Effie Burger isn't thick. It's round, like about eight inches in diameter (according to one article I read). I didn't really want to take food in a box all the way back to Kellogg, so I ordered a half an Effie burger and it was perfect.

Even better was the non-stop yakking at our table. We learned more about the accident that killed Norman and how shocked Don was and Don told us more about what a generous man and caring brother Norman always was. We also took a few trips down memory lane, recalling our many sports related failures in Lewiston back in high school, but we offset those more painful memories by talking about when, during the 1971-72 school year, Kellogg defeated Lewiston in football and in basketball when the Bengals traveled up to the Silver Valley. 

We last made a trip to see Don on January 3, 2018. I remembered thinking back then that with US 95 having been widened and straightened out in so many spots over the years, the drive from Kellogg to Lewiston just isn't that big of a deal anymore -- not like the long slog it was back when our family used to go on summer vacation in Orofino. 

There's no good reason why we can't return to Lewiston sooner than later -- no reason why over three years would have to pass before we pile in our rigs and head to the Lewis Clark Valley again. 

3. I suppose I've been hearing stories about the Corner Club, a famous bar in Moscow, for over fifty years. Because Christy, Carol, and many of my Kellogg friends went to school at the U of Idaho and because friends who didn't go to school there traveled to Moscow to hunt or watch Vandal games, I heard over and over again about the legendary Corner Club.

Jake and Byrdman and I had decided on our way to Lewiston that on the way back home we'd stop at the Corner Club for a beer. 

I'm glad we did. I enjoyed seeing the Vandal memorabilia hanging and displayed on the walls. I realized that the building had been sadly cut down to its current size when the street running in front of it was widened years ago, so I wasn't really experiencing the original Corner Club, but no problem. I enjoyed drinking a bottle of Miller High Life, yakkin' with Byrdman and Jake, and having a guy who overheard the three of us talking about this being my first visit announce to the few people in the bar that "there's a virgin in the house". 

I realize, and it's fine, that I don't have any Vandal cred. I know that most of what I thought about being in the Corner Club had to do with other people's stories and articles I've read about this joint over the years. I didn't pretend to have longtime connection to the place today.

But, I enjoyed it and was happy that finally, after all these years, I got to drain a cold one in the historic and much storied Corner Club in Moscow, Idaho! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/24/2021: Baked Beans and Pickled Things, *Visions of Light*, Expanded Family Dinner

1. Usually, we have family dinner together on Sunday, but this week we not only rescheduled to Monday, we also invited members of the Vergobbi family to join us. Back in 2019, Cathy, Dave, and April Vergobbi's father, Jim, passed away. The Vergobbi siblings were in town to wrap up the last details of settling their father's estate and they agreed to have dinner with us at Carol and Paul's.

I was in charge of putting together some pickled appetizers. Earlier in the day, I dashed over to Paul and Carol's and left off several pickled items: Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, red peppers, bread and butter pickles, asparagus, and beets. Knowing Carol has a much better stocked kitchen than I do, I asked her to lay these out for me and she did in six handsome white square bowls.

I was also in charge bringing baked beans. I soaked a combined two pounds of navy beans and black beans overnight and, last night, I chopped up two onions, cut a half a pound of bacon into small pieces, and set out molasses and brown sugar.

This morning I dumped the soaked beans in the crock pot, put water over them, and tossed in the chopped onion and bacon and the molasses and brown sugar.

I let the beans slow cook all day. In the middle of the afternoon, I added Dijon mustard to them. 

2.  While the beans gurgled away, today's mail came and included my rented replacement copy of the American Film Institute's superb documentary, Visions of Light. Released in 1992, it's a study of the history of cinematography reaching all the way back to the earliest making of moving pictures. I love this movie as it marches through the decades of movie making, the development of movie making technologies, the improvement of lenses, and the daring of the many photographers who have shot the many, many movies so beloved by film goers. I'll never be the kind of observant, analytical movie viewer that the many people who write about films are. I don't really have words to describe what's happening photographically in movies. But, I can appreciate light and shadows and perspective and I can, at the very least, marvel at photography in movies that stirs me, makes me sit upright, and moves me with its beauty. Visions of Light helps enlarge my response, even if unarticulated, to what I see in movies. 

3.  Dinner was fun. Christy organized picnic style food. Dave Vergobbi offered anyone interested a hearty shot of Maker's Mark. April (Vergobbi) Lee's husband, Rick, mixed Italian Aperol Spritzes. Christy brought lemon chicken drumsticks and potato salad. Ed had given me some fresh asparagus from the Columbia Basin and Carol roasted it. Carol also baked cornbread and I brought my crockpot of beans.  April brought watermelon slices. For dessert, Carol baked rhubarb oatmeal cookies. 

I enjoyed conversation with Cathy (Vergobbi) Dammel. We are both graduates of KHS Class of 72. I also enjoyed talking with Dave Vergobbi and tried to convey to him what's happening on Zoom with Bridgit, Bill, Diane, Val, Colette, and me with our project to understand literary comedy better. 

I didn't chat as much with other members of the Vergobbi family: Dave's wife, Anne (a longtime friend of Christy's) and their daughter, Claire nor with April (Vergobbi) Lee, her husband Rick, and their son Nicholas. 

I listened to everyone talk to everyone else when I wasn't in conversation and thought this was a superb evening featuring two families deeply tied to each other and to the town of Kellogg breaking bread, yakking, and enjoying mirthful fellowship. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/23/2021: Dissolving and Converging, Goodness is Sociable, Bad-Ass Lefty -- not Hefty

1. At 10:00 this morning, Bridgit, Val, Bill, Diane, and I jumped on the ZOOM. We continued our exploration together of the literary genre of comedy. If you've been reading this blog over the last few weeks or if you have any memory of having read this blog between the years 2006-2012, when, on occasion, I taught the Literature of Comedy (was that the course title? How soon these details slip away. . .), you know that we aren't looking at comedy primarily as humor or as a source of laughs, but we are looking at comedy as a genre of poems, stories, movies, and plays that explore positive experiences like transformation, redemption, resurrection, connectedness, and, our focus for today, goodness. 

I read aloud several poems to begin, poems that took us back to our earlier discussions of comic rhythm and of the epistemological and metaphysical aspects of comedy. I wanted to reiterate that literary works invite us to gain knowledge, that is, to know things, in ways other than empiricism and rationality. Often works of comedy open up avenues of astonishment, wonder, amazement, and faith as sources of knowledge and, in turn, help us see that reality is not merely what we experience with our senses, but is also invisible and spiritual. Here's a list of the poems I read. If you'd like to read any or all of them, all are available online and a quick internet search will take you right to them. 

"Wild Geese" Mary Oliver

"Kindness" Naomi Shihab Nye

"Joy" Lisel Mueller

"Any Common Desolation" Ellen Bass

"Listening to Bach's B Minor Mass in the Kitchen" Elizabeth Burns

"Small Kindnesses" Danusha Lameris

Stimulating conversation rose out of these poems. I couldn't begin to sum it all up. Several things stuck with me. These poems are all grounded in physical experience and as we began dive into a discussion of goodness, we talked a lot about the reliability of our bodies and, thanks to Diane, chewed over Joseph Campbell's assertion in The Power of Myth that the mind is a filter, a secondary organ. Here's how Campbell put it:

This thing up here (Campbell points to his head)—this consciousness—thinks it’s running the shop. It’s a secondary organ! It’s a secondary organ of a total human being, and it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.

In addition to discussing the "humanity of the body", we also discussed dissolving, an image both Naomi Shihab Nye and Elizabeth Burns draw in their poems, "Kindness" and "Listening to Bach's B Minor Mass in the Kitchen". For Nye, the image of dissolving is connected to losing things. She writes: "Before you know what kindness really is/you must lose things, /feel the future dissolve in a moment/like salt in a weakened broth." In other words, kindness begins in knowing loss and desolation (echoed in Ellen Bass's poem "Any Common Desolation"). In Elizabeth Burns' poem, she experiences the voices singing Bach's B Minor Mass dissolving "a sense of time and place" "so that what divides us/from past and elsewhere, and from each other, /falls away, and everything's connected and we are all/drops of water in this enormous breaking wave." 

Bridgit enlarged the concept of dissolving by zeroing in on lines from Lisel Mueller's poem "Joy" when Mueller explores the idea that the experience she has being moved by music (possibly by Bach's "Ode to Joy) combines happiness and sadness and what she feels is 

. . . about
two seemingly parallel lines coming together
inside us, in some place
that is still wilderness.
Joy, joy, the sopranos sing,
reaching for the shimmering notes
while our eyes fill with tears.

These lines reminded Bridgit of Teilhard de Chardin's thinking embodied in his phrase "everything that rises must converge" and the ways that apparent opposites, whether in comedy or in our experience,  converge -- joy with terror, death with life, happiness with sadness -- has been a central theme running through our ZOOM conversations. We've been helped along profoundly by the short essays of Ross Gay and his collection, The Book of Delights. Colette introduced us to Ross Gay two weeks ago and, today, Val returned us to his writing and asked me to read aloud his piece, "Lily on the Pants". In it, Ross Gay describes pushing his face so close to a lily in his garden that he and the flower are kissing. He reflects on this convergence as a "particular kind of death", and writes that 

the moving so close to another living and breathing thing's breath . . . . will, in fact, kill you with delight, will end the life you had previously led before kneeling here and breathing the breathing thing's living breath, and the lily will resurrect you, too, your lips and nose lit with gold dust, your face and fingers smelling faintly all day of where they've been, amen. 

Dissolving. Converging. Kissing. Death. Delight. Breathing. Breath. Resurrection. Joy. Tears. 

We discussed a lot thanks to these poems and Gay's piece on lilies. 

And I hadn't even begun to present my prepared remarks for the day!

2. I dug into my brain's archives and recovered some of my research from back around 1985-86. I never figured out how to shape the work I did into a dissertation, but I spent many many hours reading published sermons from the late 16th and early 17th centuries in England in pursuit of better understanding concepts of goodness.

One passage, from a preacher named John Hales stood out, and today I presented this passage to my ZOOM mates and it led to a discussion of goodness as being grounded in a soft and sweet and flexible disposition and as rooted in that which bind us to one another, through compassion, communicating to the necessity of others, and extending ourselves to others and receiving others unto ourselves. In other words, Hales asserts that human goodness relies on our receptiveness of others and states that unlike other virtues and achievements which shine brightest when seen as individual achievement, goodness shine brightest when shared, when communicated, when it's experienced in community. 

As part of my presentation I pointed out that the prefix -com (and sometimes -con) in the English language is rooted in the Latin word cum which mean with or together with. So the whole idea of goodness as that which binds us to one another is embedded in English words like compassion, companion, community, common, and several others. 

To me, it's this exploration of our social existence that is at the center of the literary genre of comedy. In our fellowship, our ministering to one another, our love for others, and in our looking out for one another, comedy explores again and again that these social dimensions of human existence invigorate us, comfort us, and are at the root of our continuation as a species. Tragedy focuses more on individualism, isolation, and ruin; comedy on togetherness, community, continuity, and goodness. 

As we talked more today, I experienced an old teacher's dream come true. That would be my dream come true. 

A little background first.

Years ago, I was involved in a discussion about my mother and a person who has known her for many years claimed that Mom's need for control and having things done her way was because she'd been a teacher for so many years and, this person claimed, that's how teachers are. Even after they retire, they want to be in control and want to be in charge.

I thought to myself, "Hmmm. Not so fast my friend. I've been teaching for around thirty years and I want just the opposite. (And I have many fellow teachers who feel the same way.)" 

The times I loved most in my teaching career were when my students took over class meetings, when I was more of an observer and a listener (and, at times, a director), and students were not relying on me for insights and understanding, but were making discoveries with each other and, in turn, becoming one another's teachers.

Yes, in our ZOOM meeting today, I got things underway by reading some poems and making a few prepared remarks. But, the majority of what we discussed and what we learned came from Bill, Diane, Bridgit, and Val. I brought up that I thought Bill's song "Comfort" (com- word!) and its line "We were immortal in a limited way" spoke perfectly to the ways we've been discussing the way immortality exists within mortality in comedy and suddenly Val or Bridgit or Diane asked Bill to play and sing "Comfort" and he did. 

Our next focus is going to be on vitality and it's clear that while I'll have a few things to say to get us going that most of what we talk about is going to come from my ZOOM mates, not me, the "teacher". Diane has already posted collage she made accompanied by verses from Walt Whitman. She also posted a clip from the movie, Moonstruck

Maybe this project began as a "class", but, as Bridgit said yesterday, it doesn't seem like a class at all, but more like a salon. 

That's what I wanted my classes to be back in my days as an instructor. I didn't want control. I didn't want to be telling people what to do. I wanted to be the spark that got the fire going, but once things heated up, my goal was to get out of the way. I succeeded in some classes and didn't in others.

In this ZOOM project, I really feel like I'm doing some of my best teaching by not having to teach much at all.

3. I didn't see Phil Mickelson tee off to start the 4th round of the PGA Championship today. I was still in the ZOOM salon.

When I flipped on the Vizio, Phil had lost his third round lead and regained it. Soon he electrified the gallery when he holed out from a sandy area on the fifth hole for a birdie.

Surely most of you reading this know that Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship today and surely you know that at age 50 and eleven months he is the oldest golfer to ever win a major championship. 

If you've read my posts over the weekend, you know that I wondered if Phil Mickelson had the stamina, both mental and physical, to withstand the pressure of being chased over the weekend on a golf course, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, that is brutally long, shot through with water, alligators, and sand hazards, dry and fast, and under the daily siege of wind whipping all over the course. 

Until this weekend (and I might be alone in this), I had never considered Phil a bad-ass golfer, an intimidator, a daunting presence on the golf course.

I've never doubted that he is one of the sport's very best players ever, but Phil always seemed like kind of a dufus to me -- to me, he has kind of a goofy walk and a goofy manner that was accented by how, unlike many players on the tour, he never had a sculpted or cut physique. I think of when he won his first Masters and upon sinking his final putt jumped into the air. Gravity did not flatter that jump. Phil got about four inches off the ground it seemed. With his red shirt on Sunday and cut body, Tiger Woods was always intimidating. Brooks Koepka saunters onto a golf course looking like an NFL linebacker and the lack of affect in his face is intimidating. But, Phil always looked to me like the goofy lovable uncle who you loved to go visit because he had a big jar of hard candy next to his recliner and when you hugged him you always remembered the smell of Sen-Sens on his breath.

But this weekend was different. 

I hadn't seen Phil Mickelson for a while on television and his once roundish face looked angular. Phil's nickname is Lefty. Jim Rome used to called him Hefty. He couldn't call him that now. Phil's been in the gym. He's been more disciplined in the mess hall. On Saturday he wore a black shirt and, combined with his sunglasses, he looked, for the first time I can remember, like bad-ass Phil. 

Not only had Phil imposed upon himself a physical discipline, he also imposed a mental one. Phil walked the course deliberately. Before each shot, he went through a meditative process, settling himself down, envisioning the shot he wanted to hit, thinking through what he wanted to do. Phil has always had the instincts of a riverboat gambler who liked to walk on the wild side, but this weekend he was less Brett Maverick and more Kwai Chang Caine, centered, calm. The fire in his belly burned at a constant heat. It didn't flare up. Bad ass Phil was focused, purposeful, and would not be deterred. He imposed his will on the pace of play. Nothing, not an errant shot into the swamp, a drive that landed up against a golf cart tire, the impatience of Brooks Koepka, nothing broke Phil's determination to play this tournament on his terms, at his pace, with his devotion to focus and middle age bad-assery.

It worked.

I never dreamed I'd see Phil Mickelson win another major tournament, but his physical and mental fitness paid off. He hit some of the week's longest drives. He never, to my way of thinking, played a reckless shot. His touch around the greens was deft and he made a number of testy medium range putts. The only real sign I saw that goofy Phil still lived inside this weekend's bad-ass Phil was his almost compulsive thumbs up gesture again and again and again to the gallery. 

He gave a souvenir golf ball to a kid in a wheelchair. He unnerved the usually unflappable Brooks Koepka with his deliberate Zenmaster Phil pace of play.  He talked to wife on a cell phone after he signed his score card, repeatedly telling her he loved her. I half expected him to assure her he'd pick up a carton of milk on the way home. 

When Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters, I didn't think I'd ever see such an incredible moment in golf again.

When Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters, I didn't think I'd ever see such an incredible moment in golf again.

Now, Phil Mickelson, at nearly 51 years old, has won the PGA Championship and I don't think I'll ever see such an incredible moment in golf again. 

I'll keep tuning in though.

Golf's an incredible game. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/22/2021: Dreaming of Playing Relaxed Golf, Meeting Linda at the Lounge, Freshening Up on Goodness

1.  Early on the back nine, it looked like Phil Mickelson might blast out to an insurmountable lead in the third round of the PGA Championship. But, golf courses seem to have personalities and on the 12th and 13th holes, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. seemed to say, "No more!" and enticed Phil into a couple of errant drives off the tee. One ended up lodged against the tire of of golf cart and the other splashed in the alligator habitat along the 13th hole. Mickelson lost three strokes to par on these holes and the four-time major champion and PGA strongman, Brooks Koepka, charged into a tie with Mickelson. Koepka, however, bogeyed 18, and fell into second place, a stroke behind Mickelson by the end of the third round. 

I'm not alone, I'm sure, in wondering whether Mickelson, who is one month shy of his 51st birthday, will have the mental and physical stamina needed to hold off Koepka and the other contenders. If he does, he will be the oldest player ever to win one of men's golf's four major tournaments. The oldest was Julius Boros back in 1968. He was just over 48 when he won the PGA Championship. I vividly remember watching Boros on the final day of that tournament and spent years as a golfer wishing I could play the game with his relaxed demeanor and fluid tempo. But, readers, I saw Julius Boros play golf and I was no Julius Boros. No, I was a nervous golfer, highly insecure, and my lack of confidence affected my tempo which was, at best, erratic. I had some good moments on the golf course, but, all in all, I was a wreck, especially mentally and emotionally. Therefore, as I watched Phil Mickelson today as he moved deliberately from hole to hole, as he mindfully envisioned each shot before he hit it, and as he thought his way around the course with intelligence and a sense of calm, I enjoyed his inward strength and tried to imagine what it must feel like to be at ease on a golf course. I rarely was.

2. Linda Lavigne called me early this afternoon. Over the months, we've talked about how fun it would be, especially now that we've been vaccinated, to meet at the Inland Lounge for a drink or two and talk to Cas. Linda said today would work for her. I arrived at the Lounge first and, a fun surprise awaited me. Ed was there. He'd ordered dinner to go from Wah Hing next door and was at a table by himself and I joined him. We yakked for a while. Linda arrived. The three of us yakked, Ed's food came, we yakked some more, and then Ed left to take his and Nancy's food home.

Linda and I eventually made our way to the bar and talked about a bunch of things and Cas joined in when he could. It was a lot of fun to talk freely about friends and life in North Idaho and when it came time for us to go our separate ways, we agreed that we should do this about once a month. 

3. While I watched the golf tournament, I also worked on getting ready to spearhead our ZOOM group's once every two week exploration of the literary genre of comedy. I knew that I wanted us to focus on goodness -- literary comedies, by and large, explore the nature of goodness -- and I wanted to find some poems that would help review things we talked about in our first two sessions and move us forward in our discussion tomorrow. I also did some work with the Internet Etymological Dictionary reviewing some word histories that I used to be very familiar with, but that I needed to brush up on. By the time the PGA's third round ended, I not only had enjoyed watching some scintillating golf, I had also discovered a handful of splendid poems and was feeling up to speed again in my knowledge and understanding of the word histories of compassion, comfort, commiserate, communion, community, common, and other similar words related to human goodness. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/21/2021: The Strain of Golf, Young Grizzlies Win in OT, The Great Indoors

1. Even though I spent much of the day, starting at 10 o'clock, with an eye on the second round of the PGA Championship, I didn't get to see what I might have enjoyed most: 50 year old Phil Mickelson's terrific round. He fired, under difficult and demanding conditions, a three under par 69. It secured him a tie for the lead, with Louis Oosthuizen who played nearly immaculate golf, not only shooting a 68, but played a bogey-free round until he carded a 5 on the 18th hole. 

I thought today about when I used to play golf. I remembered how mentally drained I felt after playing on a more challenging course -- in fact, I felt defeated and discouraged. I've played holes when I began to imagine a helicopter swooping onto the course and airlifting me away, rescuing me from my own anguish.

The odd thing about those painful rounds is that I enjoyed them, not because I like to suffer, but because they heightened my understanding of the game's difficulties, of what a demanding game it is, especially on the nerves and one's confidence. 

So, today, as I sat comfortably in the Vizio room and watched the world's best players slash out of knee high grass, splash shots into water hazards, have good looking shots roll off different greens, and explode shot after shot out of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island's ubiquitous sandy areas, I experienced mental fatigue and stress. I honestly cannot imagine the psychological strength these players have developed to be able to carve out such impressive scores on such a demanding course, under such difficult and windy conditions.

2. Until tonight, I hadn't watched a single NBA game this season or last. I have devoted many hours to watching college basketball, but not the pros. For no really good reason, after the golf coverage ended, I kept the Vizio tuned in to ESPN and watched Golden State host Memphis. The winner of the game would secure the Western Conference's eighth seed in the NBA playoffs and the loser's season would come to an end.

Memphis won the game in overtime, 117-112. 

I enjoyed watching the Grizzlies' exuberance. It's the NBA's youngest team (I think) and emerging stars like Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks played with enthusiasm. Brooks played dogged defense covering Steph Curry and Morant led the Grizzlies' offense, establishing his three point shot from the outset, converting acrobatic drives to the tin, and burying two crucial floaters late in the shot clock in OT. Golden State really misses Klay Thompson. Memphis gang-defended Steph Curry, and, although Curry scored 39 points, he did so by taking a lot of shots and his teammates scored inconsistently. Golden State's ball handling often struck me as casual. The Warriors committed 23 turnovers, many of them unforced errors. Their carelessness puzzled me. I even wondered if securing this 8th seed meant more to the Grizzlies than the Warriors -- I thought Memphis played with more energy and purpose.

3. I've stayed indoors for the last three weeks, dividing my time between housecleaning and watching sports on television. I've got to get out of the house on Saturday and do some walking, but, I have to admit, I've enjoyed staying home. I love the outdoors, but I also really enjoy the quiet of staying indoors, taking time to clean the house, time to think about some things, doing some cooking, and enjoying Copper and Luna's company. I don't know why staying close to home like this doesn't make me restless, doesn't give me cabin fever. It seems to be how I'm wired -- and have been for as long as I can remember. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/20/2021: Wind and Pressure, Chores and Shopping, Cracked

 1. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina hosts this year's PGA Championship and I kept an eye on much of the action today. It's fun watching the players navigate the course's length, design, and weather conditions, particularly the wind. It's inevitable that every single player in this tournament will hit stray shots, whether off the tee or into the greens. The players who score the best will be deft and creative at hitting tricky shots and, will, in the face of the tournament's pressure, the pressure of the elements, and the mental strain of frustration, maintain their composure. 

2. I took breaks from the golf tournament and continued working on domestic chores. I finished my laundry, put clean sheets on my bed, did some minor rearranging in the kitchen to create more counter space, and shopped at Yoke's, mainly for items I'll need to complete my assignment for Monday's family dinner. It will be an expanded version. The Vergobbi siblings will be in town and will join us Monday evening, along with a couple of spouses, a family friend, and possibly a couple of the adult children. 

3. I informed that the disc the company sent me of the documentary Visions of Light was cracked and wouldn't play. I'll send it back and hope a replacement comes before long. I used to own this movie, but gave it away when we moved to Maryland and I was eager to see it again. The movie profiles several cinematographers and is a beautiful study of photography in movie making. It's getting to be an older movie, having been released in 1992. I'd love to see this movie updated one day. But, for now, it's thrilling to look back at the artistry of these cinematographers and I hope the Netflix/ company has a disc available to send me that isn't busted! 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/19/2021: Chores, Making Miso Soup, Heartbreaker Cider

1. Over the last week or so,  I've been out of the house a lot -- breakfast in Post Falls, lunch in Spokane, the Elks Roundup parade, a trip to the CdA Casino, a hike at Coal Creek, a walk uptown to vote and visit Radio Brewing, family dinner, etc. 

With all of this in and out, I neglected basic household chores. 

Today, I stayed home. I did most of my laundry. I cleaned up the kitchen. I vacuumed the living room. I've got more to do on Thursday, but I got off to a good start today.

2. When I bought Chilean sea bass at Pilgrim's a week ago Saturday, I also bought a container of miso paste. 

In the opening of Midnight Diner, we see a pot with bacon, chopped carrots, and other items sizzling away and Master pours broth or water over them and then, I think, he mixes in miso paste in order to make miso soup.

Whether I'm right or wrong in what he's doing, today I decided to try making a similar soup. I chopped up two slices of bacon and half an onion and cooked them until the bacon was about halfway done and onions were tender. I added chopped carrots and celery to this, let them cook for a while, and then I added water and covered the pot for about 4-5 minutes. By now, the vegetables were tender and I added a little over two tablespoons of miso paste and some chopped tofu to the soup, stirred the miso paste until it dissolved, and let it all simmer for about ten minutes.

I enjoyed the results a lot. Miso is a fermented paste. Therefore, this soup was subtly sour and savory at the same time. I enjoyed the way the sweetness of the carrots and smokiness of the bacon added dimension to the soup and the onion and celery enhanced its aromatic qualities. The tofu absorbed the different flavors and, since I really enjoy tofu, I enjoyed what it brought to my soup. 

I was reminded of the much simpler miso soup I used to eat in Eugene at Pure. I'll continue to experiment with miso paste, read up a bit more about other ways to make miso soup. For sure, I'll experiment with combining my homemade chicken stock with miso. I'll also make some soup with meat in it -- pork or chicken or fish would no doubt work. In time, I'll buy some kelp, some bonito flakes, some wakame seaweed, and try out these ingredients -- and others.

I don't know what will work well, but I do know that I loved eating miso again.

3. I relaxed this evening by finishing off an opened bomber of One Tree's Heartbreaker Cider. It's a raspberry cider whose sweetness is offset by a surprising and light kiss of Jalapeno pepper. It's an intriguing combination and helped cap off a productive stay at home day. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/18/2021: Walking to Vote, Korean Tacos and Big Hop Mess, Uplifing and Sobering Concert

 1. I got in a good walk today. Our local polling site is uptown at the Elks Club and I so early this afternoon I hoofed it uptown to vote in the local water district election. While I was at it, I also dropped off a bill payment in the postal box in front of the now closed Stein's grocery store and put my utilities payment in the Avista dropbox. 

2. I extended my walk a ways and strolled up to Radio Brewing. I wanted to try their Big Hop Mess IPA and enjoyed both 10 oz pours. I snacked on two delicious Korean street tacos. In the course of my walking and while at Radio, I was in touch with Debbie and we talked more about how this summer might play out and about my trip to New York on the 29th. My pedometer is out of commission, but I think to walk to Radio Brewing and back covers between 2.5 and 3 miles. I like getting a little stronger.  

3. Tonight's Tree House Concert was uplifting and sobering. Bill's performance was superb -- and uplifting. He played some great songs from many years ago like "Comfort", "Radio On", and "Concrete Tree" and an emotionally charged and more recent song, "Life on the Sound". 

What was sobering? Bill has MS and as the weather warms, his symptoms get worse. It's painful for him to play his guitar. Bill announced tonight that for the foreseeable future, he will perform Tree House Concerts once a month rather than once a week. Consequently, his next concert online will be on June 1st and we'll all find out as the summer goes on how the reduced performance schedule works for Bill and how much he'll be able to play. It was heartening to read the supportive comments listeners posted after Bill announced his change in plans. These concerts have been a source of joy and comfort over the last year. All of us regular concert goers are deeply grateful for all that Bill has given us and are doubly grateful that Bill will continue to perform this summer. We are all sending the very best of wishes and the most healing of energy. We know trying and difficult days lie ahead for Bill.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/17/2021: Rose Lake Visit, Black Monday, IPA from Kendrick

1. Ed and I swung by Jake and Carol Lee's house on Rose Lake. I hadn't seen either of them for quite a while and I enjoyed seeing them again. Jake showed me the many improvements he's made to their property and, as we left made our way toward the highway, Jake pointed out the spots where trees used to stand, but that had been blown down by the winter's wind storms. 

2. Jake drove us to CdA where we picked up Mike Stafford and we headed down for some reel spinning entertainment at the CdA Casino. I couldn't remember when I made my last visit to this casino and it was fun to try out some games and, as it turned out, win a little money. 

3. Around noon, Lars and Stu joined us in the Red Tail Bar and Grill for lunch. It was fun to have a knot of Class of 72 guys together again, to get caught up on the latest news, and have some good laughs. I ordered a 1904 IPA, brewed by Hardware Brewing of Kendrick, ID -- a brewery I visited back in Sept. of 2019 and a place I very much look forward to going to again. The beer was tasty and so was my prime rib dip with fries. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/16/2021: First Time for Me, Scalloped Potatoes and Hot Crab Dip, What a Meal!

 1. Carol spearheaded today's family dinner. She created the menu and distributed recipes from the cookbook, Bless this Food. She assigned me to prepare three contributions, all of which were new to me and I was feeling some very low grade anxiety, but I hopped into the Sube, screeched over to Yoke's, bought the ingredients I needed, soared home, and got down to business. Mostly, I hoped the recipes from this cookbook were reliable. Often I like to improvise with recipes. Not today. Today I would stay in each recipe's lane and do my best to fulfill my assignments.

2. Carol assigned me to bake hot crab dip for an appetizer, cook scalloped potatoes as a side dish, and fix each of us a mint julep as a cocktail. The dishes and the cocktail supported Carol's main entree, a baked rack of lamb.

The recipe for the scalloped potatoes frustrated me very slightly in that it called for onion and potatoes in cup measurements. I don't really know how many potatoes or chopped onions constitutes a cup, but I did a little online poking around and satisfied myself that I'd come close to fulfilling the recipe with about four potatoes and a half an onion.

I started by melting butter in a pan and sautéing chopped onion and minced garlic. When they were tender, I stirred in flour and marjoram and immediately added milk, brought the mixture to a low boil, turned down the heat, and stirred it until thickened.

I lined the bottom of a two quart baking dish with parchment paper and created a layer of chopped potatoes. I poured about half of the sauce I'd just made over this layer and added grated Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio cheese, created another layer, and put the rest of the sauce and more grated cheese on it. I baked this dish covered for 75 minutes, removed it from the oven, uncovered it, grated more cheese over the top, and then popped in back into the oven for another half an hour. I admit. I was leery about baking this dish for an hour and forty-five minutes, but it seemed all right coming out of the oven. 

I was relieved.

With the potato dish ready to go, I focused on the hot crab dip. I had thought about making a special trip to CdA to buy crab meat, but, with my sisters' permission, made this dip with Bumble Bee canned crab meat. If I ever make this dip again, I'll go find crab meat at a seafood counter. I think it would improve the dish a lot. The dip was easy to assemble, just a matter of combining cream cheese, sour cream, a little mayonnaise, grated cheese (I used Mexican), fresh lemon juice, and few other things together and topping it with more grated cheese.  I was leery of the 40 minutes baking time, but I trusted the recipe and it turned out great.

3. I really don't think we, as a family, should try, on any given Sunday, to outdo the family dinners we've had before.

And, yet, that's just what we seem to do!

Or, at least we seem to equal the quality of past meals!

Tonight, Carol imagined a splendid meal and, as it turned out, Christy and I succeeded in helping make it work.

Carol's idea was to build a menu around the rack of lamb she roasted.

Since lamb is often served with mint, Carol assigned me to make mint juleps and we all thought it was a superb cocktail. I think, had I not been limited in my bourbon supply, we would have had a second round. The combination of the brown sugary bourbon, the fresh mint, and the drink's sugar cubes were very tasty to all of us.

We enjoyed the crab dip with buttery crackers with our cocktails and then Paul and Carol began to roll out the dinner offerings. 

The rack of lamb was beautifully seasoned and Carol served it on the rare side, which I enjoyed. Christy made a gorgeous plate of lightly cooked sugar snap peas, asparagus, and tomatoes and one of my favorite dishes, gingered carrots. She also brought a bottle of Pinot Noir and Gewurtztraminer wine. I held myself in check and drank a small taste of the Gewürztraminer and a glass of Pinot Noir. Both wines were perfect.

Carol also baked rolls from a recipe that called for them to be topped with poppy seeds, but she had an "everything" mix of seeds on hand and her Crusty Everything Rolls were awesome -- I think they were my favorite bread offering we've ever had at family dinner.

We slowly ate our dinner and let our meal settle for a while and Carol topped off this meal she planned by serving us rhubarb pie (with rhubarb she harvested out of my back yard). 

It, like the rest of this meal, was perfect. The tart rhubarb and the flaky crust somehow seemed just the right way to bring our rack of lamb dinner to a close.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/15/2021: Kellogg Elks Roundup Parade, Relaxing at the Lounge, 43 Is for Me at Radio

 1. I gave the Sube a day of rest today and dashed straight out the door and set out on a trek to uptown Kellogg, Idaho late this morning.

Today was, after all, the Kellogg Elks Roundup parade. Back when I played Little League baseball, all of the Kellogg teams put on our uniforms and walked, team by team, in a group in the Kellogg Elks Roundup parade. Then, starting in 1969, I participated in the parade as a member of the Kellogg High School marching band. 

I arrived uptown early and, as I thought he might, Cas opened the Inland Lounge early. I strolled in, plopped down on a stool, and it was so cool and comfortable in the Lounge that I watched the parade through the Lounge's open door.

The parade featured no Little League teams nor high school marching band. Unlike earlier days, no horses were in the parade; therefore, no Elks Club initiates were tasked with cleaning up behind the horses. 

It was a short parade.

The Wallace Elks Drunk and Bugle Corps provided marching music. Carol Young, the reigning Elk of the Year, rode in the parade in one of Jim O'Reilly's vintage cars, with Jim at the wheel. The parade featured several other classic vintage cars, some good looking dogs, including a corgi, being walked by the local dog rescue group, fire trucks, an ambulance, and cars from the police and sheriff's departments. Several of the parade's participants tossed candy to the spectators lined on the street.

Not one piece of candy came to my stool in the Lounge.

2. After the parade, I hung out in the Lounge and got to see a bunch of people I haven't seen in many months. Kellogg city government luminaries Ron Delcamp, Rod Plank, and Terry Douglas were in the house. I got to see Wanda. Ginger and I reminisced about our tight battle last week in fantasy baseball. I yakked with Eddie Joe, learned about this summer's classic car gathering from Jim O'Reilly, and learned all about Tuesday's election for the Central Shoshone Water District board from Terry and Rod. 

For the last 12-14 months, given, by choice, that I've stayed close to home and busied myself with books, movies, cooking, live streams online, and other things that I could do anywhere, I didn't really feel like I was in Kellogg. 

That changed yesterday and today, both at the Elks on Friday when I had a burger and both days at the Inland Lounge. It was easy, comfortable, and fun to step back into the scene at the Elks and the Lounge again, to get caught up on local news, see people I haven't seen for over a year, have some good laughs, good conversation, and feel like I was home again.

3. I took a break from all the fun at the Lounge and hoofed it up to Radio Brewing to have either a late lunch or an early dinner. Back in March, Byrdman and I were at the Country Lane River Resort up the river and Josh introduced us to a new IPA from Radio called 43 Is for Me. Its name honors Idaho being the USA's 43rd state and is made with Idaho 7 and Cashmere hops, both grown in Idaho. 

I ordered myself a 10oz pour and enjoyed the balance in this beer between the hops and the malt. The slightly maltier profile (to me) made this a smooth and tasty IPA, but, no need to fret about the malt -- it's also a deliciously hoppy beer, full of flavor, and moderately bitter, weighing in at 35 IBUs and has a nice ABV at 5.4%

I didn't know any one at Radio, so I enjoyed my beer and ordered a delicious burger with fries, and slowly, quietly, ate my meal and enjoyed hearing "The Blitzkrieg Bop" and other fiery music playing on the house system. 

On my way back home, I stopped in the Lounge for one more beer and more fun conversation and then walked back to the house. 

It was a pretty good walking day for me: 6100 steps, just shy of three miles. I welcomed having a couple of benches to sit down on while walking home. It was a very warm and sunny day in Kellogg and I started to get overheated a couple of time, but cooled off nicely once I walked in the front door. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/14/2021: Hiking Coal Creek, Burgers at the Elks, Relaxing at the Lounge

 1. I filled my water bottle, strapped on my backpack, and spirited the Sube up the river to the Coal Creek trailhead, parked in the lower parking area, and hiked along the creek bed to the footbridge and back. I considered going on up the trail as it ascends higher into the mountain, looking down on Coal Creek, but I was expecting an afternoon phone call I didn't want to miss. I'll time things better next time and my plan is to gradually add more distance to this hike each time I hit this trail. Today I enjoyed that Coal Creek was running pretty strong with numerous small waterfalls tumbling over rocks and fallen trees. The combination of shade and the cooling effect of the creek on the air combined to create a comfortable hiking temperature. It was an excellent jaunt.

2. Ed and I headed up to the Elks Club around 4:30, easily found a table, ordered beers and our burgers, and had a fun time yakkin' with different people and enjoying the good vibes in the room. For me, the burgers Keith Greene fries are perfect. Why? They are on the small side. For several years, I enjoyed the larger, thicker burgers so many restaurants now serve, but in the past few years, they've been more burger than I want to eat. The Elks burger is perfectly cooked and doesn't leave me feeling uncomfortably stuffed. I really like that.

3. Ed and I popped over to the Lounge after we finished our burgers. I had a couple Miller High Lifes and Ed and I had fun talking with DJ and Eileen. It was fun to see so many familiar faces at the bar and at other tables, fun to see people relaxing and enjoying one another's company. Cas and Tracy were busy, so I didn't much of a chance to talk with them, but Cas had time to tell me that once he and Jeremy arrived where Cas's truck was parked on Eagle Creek on Wednesday, the tire changing went smoothly. It turned out both tires had their side walls slashed, almost certainly by a sharp branch of one of the many fallen trees along the road. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/13/2021:Lunch with Mary at baba's, Double IPA at Growler Guys, Fran Lebowitz in 2010

1. I jumped into the Sube and zoomed to Kendall Yards in Spokane and met Mary Chase for a 1:30 lunch at baba. Baba describes itself as serving Mediterranean comfort food. I thought of it as a Lebanese fusion restaurant (not 100% accurate on my part). It also might be called a New American eatery. Whatever you call it, baba serves a variety of dishes that combine the ingredients and flavors of the Middle East and the Mediterranean with some Asian influences in entrees and small plates that are distinctly Mediterranean and others that have traditional American influences.

I'll just say the food was adventurous and delicious. Mary and I ordered a combination of small plates and entrees. We enjoyed hummus, fried olives, carrot and beet salad, a wonderful dish called a Buddha Bowl, falafel in pita bread, a couple of lamb/beef meatballs (I think), and innovative cocktails. I joined Mary in ordering a cumcumber-elderflower gimlet to start and then I switched to a really tasty turmeric-ginger mule. 

Mary and I hadn't seen each other since we had breakfast outside at Le Peep back on September 4, 2020 and we had a lot to talk about and it was really satisfying to enjoy this flavorful food and drink and get caught up on the many things going on in our lives. 

In addition, I enjoyed being at Kendall Yards, if, for no other reason, than to absorb some exuberant energy. It was a mildly warm day with blue skies dotted with a few clouds and so people of all ages were out walking dogs, riding skateboards, bicycling, jogging, and walking above the Spokane River, all enjoying this glorious afternoon. Some shirts were off, knots of comfortably dressed men and women talked and laughed together, and I enjoyed soaking in the vitality and general happiness all around me. 

2. Upon my return, as I swooped into Coeur d'Alene, I decided I wanted to check out a taproom I'd never been to. The building that used to house Slate Creek Brewing was now a place called Good Times. I parked, walked up to the front door, opened it, and was greeted by a somber young man who told me the place had just gone out of business, that they were turning in their keys today.

I vaulted back into the Sube and decided to go for a sure thing. I was suddenly seized by a desire for an Imperial IPA and I knew Growler Guys would be serving at least one. 

I was right. I ordered myself a 10 oz pour of Heretic Brewing's Evil Cousin and took a seat at a table and very slowly worked my through its generously hopped resinous and citrusy flavors and its pleasant bitterness. 

My decision to stop in CdA was 100% spur of the moment. I let Byrdman know I was over at Growler Guys, but he was sitting down to dinner and so we'll roam for foam another time. I enjoyed the scene at Growler Guys. Good friends, mostly young men, were seated at tables throughout the place, having greeted each other with vigorous hugs and handshakes. Fervent discussion transpired at every table. 

I don't know what the discussions were about, but I enjoyed bearing witness to such earnest engagement. 

3. Back home, I eventually took my computer and disk drive to bed with me and popped in the Martin Scorsese/Fran Lebowitz movie Public Speaking, a movie very similar to their current Netflix collaboration, Pretend It's a City. It was released in 2010. It covered some of the territory later revisited in Pretend It's a City, and, like the newer series, featured Fran Lebowitz seated at a table (this time at The Waverly Inn), holding court, interspersed with clips of her giving public speaking performances and with footage of influential figures in her life.

I enjoy listening to Fran Lebowitz pontificate. I enjoy the fact that the only thing the two of us have in common is that our minds are at work, mine not nearly as much as hers. Otherwise, Fran Lebowitz and I have next to nothing in common. She's lived in New York most of her life. She enjoys upsetting people, being opinionated, criticizing mediocrity, and regarding herself as always right. She doesn't cook. She hates the emergence of no smoking regulations in bars and restaurants. She's acerbic, funny, outspoken, impatient, and has the sharpest of wits. If you know me, you can see the contrasts. 

I don't envy Fran Lebowitz's personality and intellectual prowess, but I do envy that she spends so much time walking in Manhattan. In both of the Scorsese documentaries featuring her, we see footage of Fran Lebowitz walking purposefully and attentively from place to place. New York City, whether Brooklyn or Manhattan, is, along with London, my favorite place to walk and, to be honest, if this movie had been 90 minutes of watching Fran Lebowitz walk, I would have been all in. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/12/2021: Flat Tires Up Eagle Creek, Riding in the Pickup Bed, Jeremy and Ed Rescue Us at the Prichard Tavern

1. For a week or so, Cas and I have been batting the idea around of going up to the Prichard Tavern for a bite to eat and to drink a day beer or two (or three . . . ). Saturday, when Byrdman and I were at the Lounge, the subject came up and Byrdman said he'd like to join us (GREAT!) and today turned out to be the day for the three of us to head up the river.

So, Cas and I met up with Byrdman in Enaville. We piled into Cas's pickup and we headed for the west fork of Eagle Creek (the road to the Ancient Cedar Grove) so Cas could check out the trees that blew down during the winter wind storms and make plans for cutting firewood.

Our drive up the unpaved road along Eagle Creek was going just fine until we encountered a woman and her dog coming the other way in a side by side. We pulled over a bit and so did she and we passed each other and we heard a sound we didn't like.

None of us wanted to hear Cas say, "I think I've got a flat."

But that's where we were at. 

Cas got out. Byrdman and I followed suit and Cas didn't actually have a flat. He had two. Both tires on the passenger side were goners.

2. It was now time to ponder.

We were several miles from the main highway.

We had no cell service. (I sent Christy a text just to double check and she didn't receive in until a few hours later.)

We'd each had a beer. 

We cracked open another and started walking down the road, hoping that people who live on down the road would have a land line and let Cas call Silver Valley Tires; if we had to, we were ready to walk the several miles to the Prichard Tavern.

We'd walked about a mile and off to the right a guy had set up camp and his two black labs, on chains, began barking at us.

The guy, whose name turned out to be Rick, came out to see what the commotion was about and either Byrdman or Cas called out to him that Cas's pickup was disabled and asked if he could give us a lift to the Prichard Tavern so we could call for help. 

He agreed, but told us he couldn't leave his dogs at his campsite. 

No problem. The dogs joined Rick in the cab and we piled into the bed of Rick's pickup.

3. We arrived at the tavern. Cas and I ordered a beer. Byrdman had things to do later and wisely switched to water.

Cas got a hold of Jeremy at Silver Valley Tires and Jeremy said it would take him about 20 minutes to get a couple of tires mounted and then he'd load them up,  hit the road, and head for Prichard.

Jim and I needed a ride back to the Silver Valley.  On the tavern's land line, I couldn't reach Christy's 509 number to see if she could pick us up, so I called Ed and fortune smiled on me and Byrdman. Ed had just walked in the door after delivering gravel to Blanchard, ID and said he'd be happy to come up, have a beer, and drive Byrdman to Enaville and drive me home to Kellogg.

So, Cas, Byrdman, and I sat at a table on the patio, each enjoyed a burger and some fries, and it wasn't terribly long before Ed arrived and then Jeremy. 

Jeremy seemed unconcerned. He told me as I headed toward Ed's car, "We'll get her done." 

I trusted that. And sure enough, later in the evening, Byrdman and I got a text from Cas telling us he was back in Kellogg and so was his truck. The damaged tires were beyond repair, but his truck now had new tires and was back in action. 

So, the day was a success! Cas got to check out the fallen trees up Eagle Creek. We all got to have lunch and beers at the Prichard Tavern. We had a great time and, as a bonus, even got in a pretty good walk. 

And, to top it all off, we've got an epic story to tell over and over and over again for as long as we live. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/11/2021: Outing with Ed and Stu, Party at Christy's!, Tree House Concert

1. I blasted out to Ed's house and we piled into his car and rocketed over the hill to Post Falls and met Stu at the Corner Cafe for breakfast. We had a great time yakkin' and I enjoyed my very simple fare: a waffle, two eggs over medium, and two link sausages. After breakfast, we vaulted into the mountains near the Idaho/Washington border to the log house where Stu lives and surveyed some new development going on up there and Ed and I hopped into Stu's side by side and followed him up some undeveloped roads to a chunk of property Stu and a couple other guys invested in. The property, to me, at least, seemed up pretty high and I enjoyed the view, starting at Liberty Lake and extending all the way west to Spokane. 

2. Around five o'clock, Christy hosted a party for her, me, Paul, and Carol. We drank some sparkling wine to toast her new sectional sofa, refrigerator, and stove and Christy told us about other works she's been doing around the house. After a while, we turned our attention to planning for Everett's Celebration of Life on June 19th. I left thinking the plans were coming together beautifully, but, even more important, I think Christy has envisioned a service that will be a beautiful and most fitting tribute to Everett. We also started to nail down some details for the reception to follow over at Carol and Paul's house and those details also seemed to be coming together. As someone who is a part of this effort, I'm really happy that we are doing all this work at the "first" minute, not the last!

3. Bill Davie performed another splendid Tree House Concert tonight. One of the facts about the way he experiences MS is that playing his guitar is more difficult when the weather warms up. Now that it's May and getting warmer, Bill told us he was going was going to do his best to make it through and I thought his playing and singing were awesome. I also enjoyed that early on in the concert, Debbie made a comment. It would have been after 10:00 EST in New York and I don't know if she was able to listen to the entire concert, but I liked knowing we were in the Tree House's virtual audience together. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/10/2021: Slow Day, Great Leftovers, Palestinian Dishes

1. Sunday was a day packed with intellectual and culinary adventures and pleasure. Today turned out to be a day of rest, interrupted only by my slow and successful efforts to tidy up the kitchen after all the fun I had in there yesterday.

2. I snacked on pocket bread with Hummus and Baba Ghannouj throughout the day. At dinner time, I put the leftover chunk of fish and red peppers, tomatoes, olives, and potatoes left over from family dinner atop a rectangle of aluminum foil, folded it almost shut, and put it in a pot with about a quarter or half an inch of water. I brought the water to a boil, turned the heat way down, put a lid on the pot, and used this method to steam heat the fish dish. It worked. The fish warmed up and didn't get cooked much more and I enjoyed revisiting all the Moroccan flavors and the pleasing texture of the Chilean Sea Bass.

3.  When I retired for the night, I wound down, not only by having Luna on my chest and Copper pressed against my left calf, but by reading about dishes in the cookbook, Zaiton: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen. I wanted to jump out of bed, drive to Yoke's, buy several whole chickens, stew meat, raisins, lamb shoulder, ground beef, and other items, and start cooking. These recipes look brilliant and the only ingredient consistently called for that I don't have is pomegranate molasses. Time to order a bottle. Time to figure out when to get crackin' on cooking some of this food! 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/09/2021: Delight and Wonder, Sea Bass and Middle Eastern Dips, Carol's Wish Comes True

1. Our Zoom group met this morning and continued our casual look at the literary genre of comedy. Our focus today was on how works in this genre often explore ways of knowing, the nature of our knowledge, and the nature of reality itself, with special emphasis on wonder, delight, amazement, marvel, and astonishment not only as something we experience, but as ways of knowing, as sources of knowledge. This led to our discussion of invisible realities, with special emphasis on dreams, the imagination, visions, and other realities, often regarded as not real or as inferior to that in the world which we experience with our senses. We looked at a short passage from Frederick Nietzche in which he argues that dream reality, not waking reality, is primary and most important in human experience. We talked about literary works where we see this played out and where characters by non-rational means, by being capable of astonishment and wonder arrive at truths inaccessible by other means -- we see this in The Accidental Tourist, The Winter's Tale, in the poetry of Mary Oliver, and, thanks to a reading by Colette, in the essays of Ross Gay, especially in his book, The Book of Delights.

Our discussion of concepts in comedy moved away from books, plays, movies, and poems to our own experiences with imagination, wonder, joy, dreams and triggered a really good discussion of what in our lives lives on beyond us, what the sources of continuation are in our lives. In comedy, the metaphor most commonly employed to give us a picture of continuation is marriage and its implicit promise of bringing new life through children into the world. 

Our discussion included how having children (or step-children) is a source of continuation, but we also talked a lot about other ways we contribute to the continuation of life by means other than having children   through good deeds, art, inventions, all that we create, our accomplishments, and other things. 

Ross Gay's essay, "'Joy is Such a Human Madness'" sparked conversation of another sort as we looked at the co-existence of terror and joy in life, at the way in which terror and joy do not cancel each other out, but are means by which we know know ourselves, know one another, and connect with each other more deeply.

Our two hours of learning and discussion energized us as we enjoyed the vitality of one another's stories, insights, and explorations. 

(ZOOM mates: If you feel so moved,please feel free to add to my description of our meeting in the Facebook comments -- I'd love to have you fill in my inevitable gaps.) 

2.  We ended our time together on Zoom and BOOM! I went straight to the kitchen to prepare my offerings for today's Mother's Day family dinner. Carol is the only mother among us, so Christy thought it would be fun for her and me to prepare a meal fulfilling whatever request Carol made.

Carol told us she wanted a Middle East fish dinner.

Christy texted me later and volunteered to prepare a cocktail, a salad, and dessert.  I was happy (ecstatic actually) to figure out a fish entree, our appetizers, and wine.

I love food from the Middle East. I'm also inexperienced when it comes to cooking fish. Therefore, I was mildly anxious about what I was taking on, but excited at the same time.

So, on Saturday, I bought two chunks of frozen Chilean Sea Bass at Pilgrim's, each thick and weighing a little over a pound and I thawed them, and, before I jumped on Zoom, I took them out of the refrigerator so they'd soon be at room temperature.

My next move was to make a marinade mixing cilantro, parsley, cumin, saffron, garlic, and paprika and combining it with fresh lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and tomato paste. 

I cut the two fish chunks into four and put the marinade over the fish, sealed the container, and let it sit for two hours.

While the fish marinated, I poked holes in a large eggplant and put it in the oven at 375 degrees and roasted it, removed it, and let it cool. 

Once cooled, I removed the skin and let it sit in a colander for about 10 minutes. Once embittering liquid had drained from it, I mashed it in a bowl and added tahini, minced garlic, and lemon juice, mixed it together and, last of all, added olive oil. That's all it took to have a bowl of Baba Ghannouj. 

I also wanted to make another dip available for our appetizer, so I got out the food processor, dumped a can of chickpeas in it along with a quarter cup of the liquid from the can. To this I added lemon juice, garlic, and tahini, flipped on the food processor, put the mixture in a bowl, drizzled olive oil over the top and that's all it took to have Hummus for our dinner.

I then turned my attention back to the Moroccan Baked Chilean Sea Bass with Olives, Tomatoes, and Potatoes.

I cut three Yukon Gold potatoes into half inch thick slices, brought them to a boil, simmered them for about fifteen minutes, drained them, and let them cool.

I also cut a red pepper into thin slivers and cut each of the cherry tomatoes in a pint container in half. 

Soon I decided the fish had marinated long enough so I assembled the ingredients. I lined the bottom of a glass baking dish with parchment paper and created a layer of the Yukon Golds. I topped the potatoes with the chunks of Chilean Sea Bass and spooned the leftover marinade over them. I topped the fish with the tomatoes, red peppers, and pitted Kalamata olives.

The dish was ready to go into the 350 degree oven.

Here's where my mild anxiety took hold.

The recipe called for the fish to bake for 30 minutes, but I didn't really know if these pieces I was baking were of the same or similar thickness to what the recipe assumed.

I quickly went on line and discovered that sea bass is done when its internal temperature is between 135 and 145 degrees. 

My primary concern was over cooking the fish. I didn't want it to be dry.

So I set the time for 25 minutes, baked the fish, took it out and measured the temperature in a thick spot of one of the chunks. 

It still had a ways to go.

I then baked the sea bass in four minute increments. After each of these periods, I took the fish's temperature, and after about four returns to the oven, I determined the fish was baked through and still moist.  

I knew that in the time between my arrival at Carol and Paul's and when we ate, the fish would cook some more while resting, but I trusted that it was in good enough shape to bear more slow cooking while at rest.

3. Because the fish entree took longer than I had planned to bake, I texted Christy, asked her to take over the pocket bread and two dips since I was going to be late.

She did so happily.

I arrived at Carol and Paul's. Molly had come up from Moscow and Christy was in the process of serving the best cocktail, in my opinion, that we've ever had for family dinner.

In the Middle East tradition of loving cucumber and mint and lemons and oranges, she made a cocktail that mixed lemonade with cucumber/mint vodka, garnished with orange peel and mint. I loved the citrus and the mint working together and cucumber always has a cooling and refreshing effect on a mixed drink. I hope this cocktail will return one day!

So we snacked on Prophet's Ezekiel 4:9 pocket bread -- I read the verse from the Book of Ezekiel that inspired the bread -- dipped in Hummus and Baba Ghannouj and enjoyed the cocktail.

We moved on to the main course. Christy made a vibrant, fresh, and deep tasting Middle East green salad and I'm happy to report that the fish I baked was neither undercooked nor dry. The combined flavors of the marinade along with the red pepper, olives, and tomatoes worked perfectly and the somewhat neutral tasting potatoes were a welcome balance to the other more bold tasting ingredients. I'd never, to my memory, eaten sea bass before and it was velvety, not really rich, and very pleasing. I'd love to return to this fish sometime. I brought a bottle of Pinto Grigio and it paired beautifully with the fish and salad.

For dessert, Christy made us chocolate Israeli truffles with sprinkles. I don't think any of us expected sprinkles on anything and so were were delighted with the truffles and enjoyed how tasty they were. Christy brought her homemade limoncello to drink with our truffles and Paul made a pot of decaf coffee, and, for me, the slight bitterness of the coffee was a welcome taste, balancing out the subtle sweetness of the truffles and limoncello. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/08/2021: RIP Jerome Garger, Pilgrim's and Daft Badger, The Lounge and Radio

1. On Friday, during the day, I thought about memories of Jerome Garger much of the day. I imagined going to Eugene some time this summer and driving out to Yahchats to visit Jerome and Vicki. These memories were triggered by a picture I saw on Facebook of his former sister-in-law and her husband posed in the garden that had once been their lawn. 

Today, on Facebook, I learned that Jerome died on Friday. Now the memories really rushed in. Jerome and I met in 1989 when I began working part time in the Lane Community College English Department. We really hit it off and over the years became close friends. I'm not quite ready to write about Jerome at length right now, but I plan to before long. For now, I'll just say that time and time again, Jerome went out of his way to extend himself to me with support and encouragement, both in my professional and my personal life. He had an uncanny sense of knowing when I needed a good laugh, to hear one of him many inspiring or funny stories, to hear level headed advice, or some praise -- and Jerome was generous in praising my work at LCC and what he appreciated about our friendship. 

2. I drove to CdA this morning to buy the groceries I need to prepare my contributions to our special family dinner on Mother's Day. We are going to honor Carol and she requested a Middle Eastern dinner featuring fish. I'll prepare a recipe tomorrow and bought Chilean Sea Bass and other items to support this meal. I did all my shopping at Pilgrim's and in much the same way I used to enjoy shopping at Mom's in College Park and the Kiva in Eugene, I really enjoyed being in this store and spent quite a bit of time leisurely pushing my cart almost aimlessly up and down the aisles.

I finished shopping. I hadn't eaten anything all morning. I suddenly remembered that when Darrell, Jeff, and I quaffed beers on the patio at Daft Badger nearly two weeks ago that Darrell told us that the brewery would be releasing a Mexican lager for Cinco de Mayo. 

Ah! I love craft lagers! I bolted straight from Pilgrim's to Daft Badger and within minutes a gorgeous golden Mexican lager, called Flyin' Kiwi, was sitting in front of me with a wedge of lime affixed to the rim of the pint glass. The lunch special this week is a Chicken Torta with Enchilada Soup and this spicy meal paired perfectly with the fresh, clean, full-bodied Mexican lager. I enjoyed my pint so much that I ordered a 12 oz glass, enjoyed it, and ended my session.

3. I wasn't quite finished drinking beer yet. Byrdman had texted me earlier in the day that he was coming to Kellogg and so we went uptown together.

First stop: my first visit to the Inland Lounge during business hours since March of 2020. 

Two stools were vacant at the far end of the bar and I plopped down next to Ginger, my opponent this week in the head to head league in fantasy baseball. We had exchanged some text messages earlier in the day about the tight battle our teams were locked in and it was really fun to continue that discussion in person rather than over the phone. I drank a couple of bottles of Miller Genuine Draft, my macro beer of choice these days, enjoyed them a lot and had fun yakking with Cas, Tracey, and Byrdman, and more with Ginger. 

Byrdman and I then made our way up to Radio Brewing and I honestly do not remember the last time I hoisted a pint in there -- hard to believe given how often I used to drop in. I had hoped to enjoy a pint of their pilsner, but the keg had blown, so, keeping things on the lighter side, I happily settled for a Wildcat Wheat beer, a beer, if I remember correctly, was brewed in 2017 as a tribute to the KHS All-Class Reunion that August. Byrdman and I enjoyed one beer, got in some seriously great yakkin' and he dropped me off at home where I promptly fixed myself some popcorn and hit the sack, aggrieved that Jerome had died and uplifted by such a mirthful couple of hours out on the town of Kellogg. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/07/2021: Debbie Plans a Getaway, Planning Family Dinner, *Shall We Dance?* -- 24 Years Later

1. Debbie and I will be going on a Thursday/Friday trip in just under three weeks, exploring New York outside of and beyond NYC and its suburbs.  Debbie is making our plans and I'm happy to report that she is looking at hikes for us to go on, possibly including waterfalls. I've been trying to remember the last time Debbie and I hiked together. I really can't -- was it that day many years ago when we hiked the McKenzie River Trail one day after church? It doesn't really matter -- what matter is that I'm stoked to join Debbie, see the countryside, hit a trail or two, and visit some wineries and breweries with Gibbs right along with us.

2. Christy and I asked Carol to make a request for Mother's Day dinner. She wants to experience the flavors of the Middle East, with the a fish dish as the main entree. Putting this little feast together has required some planning. Today I double checked the recipes I'll follow and made a list of groceries to go buy in Coeur d'Alene. I'm going to break with my usual habit of trying to make whatever I can find at Yoke's work. I want to look over the fish offerings in CdA and I just thought it would be fun to go to Pilgrim's Market, possibly to Fred Meyer, and no doubt to Fisherman's Market and check out fish, produce, wine, and, apart from dinner, look at cider selections.

3. I also did some planning today for the blabbing I'll do on Sunday with our Zoom group about the literary genre of comedy. I have a plan and to reinforce my thinking and feeling about stories of transformation and joy, tonight I thoroughly enjoyed watching the 1996 original Japanese version of the movie, Shall We Dance?  I hadn't seen this movie since the summer of 1997, back when Debbie and I were getting acquainted by writing many, many emails back and forth to each other. Shall We Dance? was playing at the Bijou Art Cinema and, in one of her emails, Debbie asked me if I'd seen it. I hadn't, but went to the movie right away and I loved it. I wish I could remember what Debbie and I wrote back and forth about the movie, but I've forgotten. 

The movie stayed with me, though, for these last twenty-four years, especially when, on occasion, I taught the Literature of Comedy course at LCC and as I began, about 10-15 years ago, to pay special attention to movies about characters who had died or were dead inside and came to life again. Such transformation is at the heart of Shall We Dance?, not only for the character the story is primarily about, but for other characters, too. It was a joy in 1997 and an even greater joy tonight  to watch how entering into the emotional dimensions of ballroom dancing, not just the physical techniques,  helps a variety of characters blossom into being more fully human, full of vitality, delight, wonder, and vibrant love of various kinds.   

Friday, May 7, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/06/2021: Travel Plans Forming, *Manchester by the Sea* and Aging, Talking with Debbie

 1. It looks like my trip back east at the end of the month will include a visit, almost right off the bat, with The Troxstar in his home state of Massachusetts. It's going to happen, but we have a few details to iron out about what we want to do and, today, I pushed that process forward a bit in an email with some of my thoughts. I also learned that it's highly likely that I'll be able to spend time, at some point, between June 7th and 11th with Scott and Cate Shirk somewhere in New York City -- Manhattan, maybe? Brooklyn, possibly? That's not nailed down at all, but at least I know we'll be able to work out some kind of plan during that week.

2. I spent much of the afternoon today watching, feeling the impact of, and thinking about the movie Manchester By the Sea. The movie tells the story of Lee Chandler, who, in his late thirties/early forties lives alone, works as a custodian for apartments in Quincy, MA, and has the small world of his present life upended when his brother dies and he's named, in his brother's will, as the guardian of his teenaged nephew.

I really don't want to give away much of this movie. Even though the movie is about five years old and was an award winner, I watched it today knowing very little about it. Not having the cushion of foreknowledge about the movie, it disturbed me a lot and crowded my mind for the rest of the day and evening. I knew the bare bones of the story -- no more than what I wrote in the previous paragraph. But, as the movie progressed and as I learned more about Lee Chandler's and his families' past and as I watched Lee work out things with his nephew, the movie's emotional content gripped me more and more. 

As I felt the impact of Manchester By the Sea and thought about it, I also thought about how much my response to movies has changed over the years. I used to thrive on watching movies like Manchester by the Sea. I loved movies that dealt with suffering, not because I loved the suffering, but because I didn't enjoy escapism. I still enjoy serious movies way more than escapist movies, but not in high volume, not with the voraciousness I used to possess. I was thinking today that after watching Manchester by the Sea, I'd need a few days to recover from it and there was a time when I'd go straight from one movie like it to another, either at home or in the theaters. Not now. I think being older and having had more experience, this movie hit me hard and the suffering it portrayed got more into my guts and less into my head the way these movies did years ago.

3. Debbie went to Growler and Gill today in West Nyack and sent me a picture of the DIPA she was drinking, brewed by Equilibrium of Middletown, NY.  I loved having the sensation return, through memory, of the great DIPAs I enjoyed back east and I could almost smell Debbie's beer while looking at the picture. Later, Debbie called and we discussed the uncertainty of the next several months, leaving ourselves plenty to talk about when we see each other starting May 29th. Our hope is that as this month proceeds, we'll know more about a variety of things that will help us see what we can expect for the remainder of 2021. 

It's all good. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/05/2021: Kidney News Good, Rice Bowl and Jerry Garcia, Scorsese Interviews Mom and Dad

1. I had an appointment with my kidney doctor today.

I had planned to walk the entire distance to the clinic this morning, but I had a few harmless holdups as I tried to leave the house, so I drove to the Trail of the CdAs, parked across from The Bean, and walked to the clinic from there. 

My appointment with Dr. Bieber went just as I had thought it would after I read my lab work results last week.  Not only did my numbers show that my kidneys are diseased, but stable, but we saw some improved performance since my last blood work in January. My blood pressure, however, read higher than usual today and I'll keep an eye on that and I have some slight swelling from edema in my lower legs that I also need to monitor. 

I will return for more blood work and an appointment in August. My hope is that with the better weather and my increased activity that my kidneys will continue to function as well as they can as I live as well as I can with this disease. 

2. I bought some chicken tenders at the store today and fixed a chicken, onion, broccoli, jasmine rice bowl with soy sauce for dinner, a simple and deliciously satisfying dinner. My new external cd/dvd drive for my computer arrived today and, while I cooked and ate, I played a favorite double cd entitled, Dear Jerry: Celebrating the Music of Jerry Garcia, a live concert given in May of 2015 in Columbia, MD (under a half an hour from where I lived at the time in Greenbelt). It features former members of The Grateful Dead along with other groups, like moe., OAR, Trampled By Turtles, Widespread Panic, Peter Frampton, and others. I love hearing familiar Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead tunes reimagined and performed freshly by all these artists. 

3. This evening I returned to the Criterion Channel which features a collection of early work by Martin Scorsese under the title of Scorsese Shorts. Tonight I watched his 50 minute long documentary, Italianamerican (1974). In it, Scorsese interviews his mother (Catherine) and father (Charles) in their New York apartment. It's fascinating. They tell stories of how their families came to America, about immigrant life on Orchard St on Lower East Side Manhattan, reflect on their own trip to Italy, and, as a bonus, Catherine Scorsese makes pasta sauce. The sauce bubbles away during the interview until they leave the living room and all gather around the kitchen table and the interview continues over dinner. When the credits roll, so does Catherine Scorsese's pasta sauce recipe. I loved the intimacy of this movie and how beautifully Scorsese drew out his parents' candor and their love of their Italian heritage. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/04/2021: Luna the Afghani Cat, Walking Uptown, Bill Dedicates a Song to Bridgit

 1. Back in graduate school, I used to spend time with a fellow student, Ed C., who had served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan. This was just over thirty-five years ago and the Soviets were at war in Afghanistan. Over breakfast at the Glenwood one morning, Ed told me that there were days when he would be walking across flat areas of rock and no vegetation in Afghanistan and suddenly, out of nowhere, an Afghani, with no malice, would appear in front of him. Ed said, "I don't know how these guys did it. There was nowhere to hide. It was barren. You'd think I'd see someone in the area. But, I didn't. Bill, let me tell you, being among the Afghanis, seeing how well they know their land, I guarantee you, the Soviets don't have a prayer in Afghanistan."

Today, Luna vanished. I looked under the covers on my bed, under furniture, upstairs, downstairs, everywhere I could think of and I saw no sign of her.

I was ready to take a walk, but decided I couldn't enjoy walking until I'd accounted for Luna.

I sat down in the living room and then, as if she were a cat from Afghanistan, Luna suddenly appeared. Out of nowhere! I don't know where she popped up from, but there she was, calm and indifferent, and I was relieved. 

I admit, I'm an easy target -- and I think Luna and Copper are messing with my mind!

2. When I lived in Eugene and in Greenbelt and when I used to walk in Washington, D.C., I always had a purpose in mind for my strolls -- taking pictures at the Delta Ponds or around Greenbelt Lake; a monument to visit or a movie theater to walk to in D.C.; in Eugene, I often walked to the bus station or to Cornucopia or another place for breakfast. 

In Kellogg, I don't have nearby ponds or lakes to walk to and around. It's not much of a walk to breakfast and in Eugene those walks to breakfast always included me taking pictures of flowers or outdoor places where people sat or coming upon couples holding hands. 

So, now, I have to invent reasons, beyond exercising, to go on walks. Today, I wrote out a couple of bills and rather than put them out in my mailbox for Hillary to pick up or rather than walk them down the street to the mailbox a few blocks away, I decided to walk them uptown to the post office.

I decided to give my leg strength and stamina a bit of a test and walked up Depot Hill rather than the shorter Hill Street or Lower 3rd Street hills. I was very happy with how I performed on Depot Hill and was even happier, after I dropped off my mail, to hear Linda L. call out to me from across the street in her pickup. 

We had a good visit and then when I got to the bottom of the Hill Street hill, Cas spotted me taking a rest on a bench at the corner of Railroad and Hill. He parked his pickup and joined me and we had a good yakkin' session. 

I also spoke briefly with a couple from out of town. They were bicycling on the Trail of the CdAs and asked me about where they might have lunch. I gave them a few ideas. They thought the Backcountry Cafe sounded good and, as luck would have it, they bicycled by Cas and me, stopped, and told me they loved the Backcountry and were grateful I told them about it. 

(Please note: I did not recommend any lunch spots. I am so easy to please when it comes to eating in cafes and restaurants that I will mention places, but I won't recommend them. Not even I would trust any of my recommendations!)

3. I spent some time late this afternoon figuring out when to fly to Newark and how long to stay in NY. I decided to leave May 29th and return on June 12th. I booked my flights, sent out messages to Christy, Carol, and Debbie to make sure it worked for them (it did) and then, suddenly, it was time for Bill Davie's 50th(!) Tree House Concert. I quickly poured myself some tequila over a cube of ice and added some Cointreau to it and settled in for a wonderful concert.

Bridgit was in the virtual house for tonight's performance. A while back she suffered a serious fall and is on the road to recovery, but her injuries are several and complicated and it's going to take quite a while to heal. In support of Bridgit's difficulties and in honor of her strength as she goes through the rigors of physical therapy, Bill performed his stirring song, "Raise Your Heart". 


It was a stellar concert all the way through. Bill dedicating this song to Bridgit was the topper for me. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/03/2021: Poetry Sleuthing, Remembering Mom's Service, Heading East

 1. I met Bev when I was the visiting writer for three years for the Writing Project summer writing workshops through the University of Idaho from 2008-10. Bev contacted me today looking for a poem to help her write a poem of her own for Mother's Day. I didn't recognize the poem she described, but her inquiry sent me back into this blog and I took a sentimental journey back to those three summers and my trips to McCall, in 2008, and to Lake Coeur d'Alene the next two years.

With some help from her daughter, Bev found the poem's title: "What She Could Do" by Elizabeth Holmes and I located it online. I didn't know the poem, so I wasn't the one who had presented it as a prompt in a workshop Bev had been in. I thought possibly Bev was looking for George Bilgere's "The Table" and sent that poem to her -- but it was, indeed, Holmes' poem she'd been looking for.

The time I spent chatting online with Bev, looking back at blog entries, and reading "The Table" and "What She Could Do" made my day. I loved chatting with Bev and I loved going back and reliving those workshops, especially the week in 2009. That year I wrote my most detailed summaries of what we did in the daily workshops and I enjoyed having it come back to me.

2. I took another trip to the past tonight when Christy asked me what Scriptures had been a part of Mom's Celebration of Life. I couldn't remember, but I knew they were in the eulogy I gave at Mom's service. I retrieved and printed out the eulogy. I was able to answer Christy's question.  I hadn't read the eulogy since the fall of 2017 when we celebrated her life. 

It got to me. 

3. It's set. Granddaughter Ellie will be baptized in Nyack, NY at Grace Episcopal Church on June 6th. Debbie has arranged to be able to get away (with me) for a couple of days leading into that weekend. We'll go on some kind of a trip. Now I just need to decide how long I want to be back east, what else I plan to do, and book myself tickets to get there. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 05/02/2021: Prosciutto/Pancetta, My Pasta Carbonara Debut, Superb Family Dinner

 1. I confess. I have not come to grips with the difference between prosciutto and pancetta, probably for the shallow reason that both words start with a "p". So, today, I blasted over to Yoke's to do some shopping for family dinner. I would be preparing Pasta Carbonara. I found an uncomplicated recipe and it called for pancetta. I figured pancetta wouldn't be available at Yoke's and my plan was to buy center cut, thick bacon as a substitute.

Yoke's has a case near their pizza/deli station with some finer cheeses and meats in it and, lo and behold, I found -- wait for it -- prosciutto there. I didn't have the Pasta Carbonara recipe with me and I thought, at that moment, that the recipe called prosciutto (it actually called for pancetta). So I put a package of prosciutto along with a chunk of Champagne cheese and a package of four meats labeled antipasto and a container of mixed olives in my cart.

I wandered around the store, at first thinking there was no need to buy bacon, but a voice of caution whispered from inside me that it might be a good idea to have it on hand as a Pasta Carbonara backup -- or, just to have on hand for other cooking projects.

I arrived home, double checked the recipe and, sure enough, I had confused prosciutto and pancetta. The recipe, in fact, called for diced pancetta. The slices of prosciutto I purchased were as thin as onion skin. I did a little recipe research regarding prosciutto in Pasta Carbonara and discovered that prosciutto is a good ingredient, but the recipes called for thicker slices than what I bought.

Fortunately, I had purchased the bacon as a back up and eventually I decided I'd include both bacon and prosciutto in tonight's Pasta Carbonara and see how that worked.

2. I had arranged with Carol to fix the Pasta Carbonara at hers and Paul's house. I wanted to be able to serve the Pasta Carbonara as soon after cooking it as possible -- in other words, I didn't want to fix it at home and drive it over to the Roberts' house.

To prepare to fix the Pasta Carbonara on the road, I cut up some bacon into small pieces, cut up some prosciutto, finely grated some of my Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio cheese, and cracked two whole eggs and separated out one additional egg yolk and put all of this in four separate containers. I packed the containers in my smaller Dutch oven, loaded up the sliced meats, cheese,  olive mix, and package of spaghetti in a bag, and headed over to Carol and Paul's. 

3. Once at Carol and Paul's I got down to business. I prepared the appetizer plate with the meats, cheese, and olive mix along with slices of baguette from the Blackboard in Wallace.

I put on a pot of boiling water.

I warmed up the Dutch oven and started the bacon sizzling and later, well toward the end of the bacon's cooking time, tossed in pieces of prosciutto. In the meantime, I whisked the eggs and much of the grated cheese together in a bowl.  When the spaghetti was done cooking, I saved out a half a cup of pasta water, drained the spaghetti and tossed it in the Dutch oven with the bacon and prosciutto. I added the pasta water to the egg and cheese mixture, whisked it together, and poured it over the pasta and meat blend and continued tossing it, topped with the rest of the grated cheese,  and PRESTO! I had made my first ever Pasta Carbonara.

Now we were ready for our family dinner.

Christy brought a bottle of Prosecco and we enjoyed it with our appetizers.

Christy also made a terrific, crisp Caesar salad with a light vinaigrette dressing, nicely offsetting the richness of the Pasta Carbonara. 

Carol did a beautiful job roasting a delicious batch of broccoli.

Carol and Paul also contributed a silky Pinot Noir, a perfect light bodied red wine for this meal.

We also ate baguette slices with our dinner.

For dessert, I brought a small container of caramel cookie crunch gelato and Carol had some oak vanilla gelato left over from an earlier family dinner and she served us each a combination of the two. It was a refreshing way to round out our meal. 

Conversation bounced all over the place with the gardening season getting underway, news about people and places in the Silver Valley, and what lies ahead for all of us over the next month or two or summer approaches.