Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/2021: Hayden Lake and Beers with Byrdman, *The Hour* , Return to *Enchanted April* and Wallace Shawn

 1. Byrdman and I took on the heat dome today. We sprang into Steph's Sube, cranked up the a/c, and Byrdman took as on a scenic, windy drive looking down on Hayden Lake. When we returned to Coeur d'Alene we roamed for foam. We struck out at Mad Bomber and Jeremiah Johnson's (neither opened until 2 today), but happily landed at Growler Guys.

With it being so hot outside, I was in the mood for a cold Kolsch or a pilsner or a lager. I almost ordered a Kolsch, but my right eye caught a German lager on the tap list, the Vollbier Hell from Klosterbrauerei Andechs in Andechs, Germany. 

What a perfect choice. If I were a full blown hedonist, I would have sat at our table with Byrdman for hours drinking pints of Vollbier Hell and shot the breeze all afternoon about all the great topics we yak about. The beer was remarkably smooth (maybe velvety!) and just slightly sweet with a most enjoyable subtle hint of bitterness. Next time I go to a bottle shop or to Total Wine, I'll be on the lookout for this beer. I'd love to have a few bottles around the house.

After a couple of pints, we returned to Jeremiah Johnson's where we'd never been. The brewery is updating their beer system, so they were selling cans of beer for just two bucks. 

I ordered the Blonde Ale -- keeping things on the lighter side -- and a Caesar salad with chicken. 

Lunch and another beer brought our session to an end. We had an awesome time. Our bs was of the highest quality and the beers, especially the Vollbier Hell, were refreshing and tasty.

2. Back home, after a nap, I finished putting together the pasta salad I'll be taking to the June 30th birthday dinner for Carol -- we are having her dinner early -- her birthday is on July 3rd. By the way, I don't know why we are doing it early, but I'm all in and figure it has to do with Carol's way of celebrating her birthday for at least (ahem 😀) a week. 

I dished out a bowl of Mudslide ice cream and retreated to the Vizio room and watched the next episode of The Hour. I'm going to stick with this program -- mostly because I'm intrigued by the character Freddie Lyon's side project of investigating a couple of recent murders. The first was ruled a robbery/murder and the second a suicide, but Freddie doesn't believe either report and is digging into things on his own. 

So far, the behind the scenes drama of the emerging news hour show dramatized in this series hasn't grabbed me yet, but I'm going to give it more time. The growing sexual attraction between the producer and the show's host isn't doing much for me either -- but, possibly, in time, I'll find this part of the story more compelling.

3. When I finished watching this episode, it was getting a little late, but I wanted the house to cool off a bit more before going to bed.

I decided to watch a movie I hadn't seen for almost thirty years and that has been at the center of our last couple of Zoom meetings about literary comedy. I rented Enchanted April.

It's a perfect pastoral comedy, a perfect green world story. It is, if one surrenders to it, totally enchanting.

Four lonely, even miserable, women who feel trapped in different ways in their lives rent a castle in Italy for a month and before long the April sunshine, the blooming wisteria (and other flowers), the restorative waters of the coastline, and the friendship that emerges between these women transforms them, awakens the happiness that has lay latent within them, and a sweet story emerges.

I remembered how back in the early 1990s, when I saw this movie at the Bijou in Eugene, Enchanted April broadened and deepened my understanding of and experience with the transformative power of the Green World. The thrill I felt then returned this evening. 

I loved all the performances in this movie and felt special affection for how Joan Plowright portrayed her the slow blossoming of Mrs. Fisher, for how Josie Lawrence played the sweet and open-hearted, and to me, mystic, Lottie, and for how Michael Kitchen played the dim sighted, oboe playing owner of the castle, George Briggs. 

When Enchanted April ended, I had a tiny bit of energy left and, when I saw that My Dinner with Andre is an offering on the Criterion Channel, I watched its opening sequences. I'd forgotten all about them. I'd forgotten that Wally has a monologue to open the movie. We hear his voice played over scenes of him in his Manhattan neighborhood, boarding a graffiti marred subway train, and walking to the restaurant for his dinner with Andre, all the time reflecting on his life as a playwright and actor and money and confessing his anxiety about agreeing to this dinner get together with Andre. I will watch this sequence again on Wednesday and then watch the entire movie -- but it intrigued me tonight that in my (faulty) memory, the movie took place entirely in the restaurant. I'd completely forgotten about this terrific opening.

It might be off the wall, but as I watched the opening sequence of Wallace Shawn making his way to the restaurant, I was reminded of the scenes of Fran Lebowitz walking the streets of Manhattan in Pretend It's a City and Public Speaking.


Well, <chuckle> I simply enjoy film footage of people walking in Manhattan. 

It's that simple. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/2021: Sugary Treats, *The Hour*, Harvey Milk and Bob Hoskins BONUS A Limerick by Stu

1. I didn't have much pep in my step this morning, but, finally, in the early afternoon, I crowbarred myself out of my chair and the comfort of the living room and made a trip to Yoke's to buy groceries, mostly for the birthday dinner Christy and I are making for Carol on Wednesday, and to purchase some sugary treats to help me stay cool. I try to lay off pop, but I didn't resist buying some 12 oz bottles of 7Up and its crisp lemon lime sugary flavor worked and brought back a stream of memories of refreshing 7Ups I drank as a kid on hot Kellogg days. I also bought a half gallon of Tillamook Mudslide ice cream -- yes, I also try to lay off eating much ice cream, but I didn't resist the promise of cooling down by stirring this ice cream and milk in a glass to make myself small hand stirred milk shakes.

2. Late in the afternoon, I retreated into the Vizio room. I haven't watched anything on television here at home for weeks. Earlier in the day, an ad from Acorn TV came across my Titter feed and one of the shows featured was The Hour, a two season program from ten years ago about the launch of a new BBC feature news program -- a program similar to CBS's 60 Minutes. The Hour takes place in the mid-fifties and  features Romola Garai (who is new to me [alarmingly -- she's done a ton of great work], Ben Whishaw (always fascinating), and Dominic West (a smooth operator) and, not only is it a show about the BBC in the fifties, it's a murder mystery. I watched episode 1 and I'm intrigued to find how the portrayal of early television journalism,  things behind the scenes at the BBC, and the investigation of two murders (so far) are all going to connect with each other. This first episode also featured the remarkable Vanessa Kirby.  In both her brief role in this show and in The Crown, to me, she plays unpredictable, upsetting and upset, and somewhat bitter characters superbly and I'm always nervous when her characters enter the story -- I'm never quite sure what upsetting thing might happen next. She's brilliant. 

3. After watching this episode of The Hour, I flipped over to the Criterion Channel and decided to watch the 1984 documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. I wish I could remember when I saw this movie before. Did I see it at Cinema 7 in Eugene? That would make sense. I might have seen it at the Bijou. That, too, would fit. It's also possible that I rented it years ago and watched it at home. 

What did I experience watching this movie this evening? Seeing it underscored my sense that the past is always in the present, that history is not a way of looking at what happened, and is over, but is a way of understanding what's happening now. The discussions in this movie of the place in our world of people who are not straight continue. Laws have changed. Certain aspects of life for people who aren't straight have legally opened up, but those laws didn't change the hearts and minds of those among us who see people who aren't straight as abnormal, deviant, perverted, and sinful. As the people featured in this documentary are interviewed, nearly forty years ago, their comments are contemporary. I knew they would be. Likewise, when violence broke out in San Francisco after Dan White, the man who murdered Harvey Milk and George Moscone in their City Hall offices in 1977, was found guilty not of murder but of manslaughter, those scenes also looked, not only contemporary, but like street scenes that followed the death of Martin Luther King, Jr, the acquittal of the officers who clubbed Rodney King, and any number of other events that triggered anger at how justice is carried out, or not, in the USA.

When The Times of Harvey Milk concluded, I was mulling it over, almost absentmindedly looking at the Criterion Channel catalog and suddenly I saw that the stunning 1979/80 movie, The Long Good Friday is an offering of the Criterion Channel.

I didn't resist watching it for the umpteenth time.

I started watching The Long Good Friday about thirty years ago. Back then, the movie excited me in the ways Shakespeare's tragedies excited me. The story is expertly structured to show how Bob Hoskins' character, Harold Shands, appears to be at the top of his life as a kingpin of organized crime in London, but is undone by his inability and unwillingness to adapt to ways the world around him is changing and, as tragic character do, meets his demise as much because of what is inside of him as because of external forces. He perfectly embodies the old saw, character is fate (or character is destiny). Harold Shands is who he has been and in a time of crisis, he cannot be other than the gangster he's always been and in a world undergoing seismic shifts (in large part because of the Irish Republic Army), his inability to listen or adapt eventually topples him. 

If you think I've spoiled the movie by revealing that Harold Shands' life and career meet a tragic end, I haven't. The vitality of this movie is not in how it ends -- it's in how that end is reached and in how this movie is structured, shot, and performed. It features Helen Mirren and she's superb and the supporting cast of syndicate members, corrupt public officials, and others in Harold Shands' world is also stellar.

I used to highly recommend this movie to anyone who would listen to me.

I feel much less eager to recommend it these days, not because I don't think it's brilliant -- it is brilliant --, but because it's such a violent movie. I realized this evening that when I was younger, I was able to downplay, in my mind, the violence in a movie like The Long Good Friday because it worked so well as a expression of dramatic tragedy. 

As I watched it tonight, I knew what scenes of sadism were coming, I knew when other forms of violence were going to happen, and I dreaded them. Intellectually, the movie gives me the same rush of pleasure in 2021 that it gave me in, say 1991, but now it's much harder on my feelings, on my sensibilities, on my soul. 

In service to the genre of tragedy, I understand the necessity of the violence. That's my intellect speaking.

But, the way this violence affects me inwardly, the way it sickens me, upsets me, and violates my sense of decency, makes it, now, difficult for me to recommend. 

Will I watch this movie again?

Most likely, I will, and I'll put myself through the horror and disgust it rouses in me. It's a cinematic, dramatic masterpiece and I don't think I can deny myself the pleasure Bob Hoskins' and Helen Mirren's performances give me nor can I deny myself the enjoyment the movie's artistry gives me.

I return to repeated viewings of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II for the same reasons. 

Here's the limerick by Stu: 

We know things can happen in "threes"!
And first was that COVID Disease.
Then came riots, quarantine,
Murder Hornets are seen.
Now HEAT triple digit degrees. 


Monday, June 28, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/2021: Zooming in the Green World, Lunch at the Old Montana Bar, Luna and Copper Deal with Heat

 1. My day started this morning about as superbly as a day could begin. Over my morning coffee I did some final preparations for the 10:00 comedy Zoom meeting and got three passages from As You Like It ready to go to help substantiate points I'd be making with the other Westminster Basementeers about the pastoral green world in literary comedies. For me, it was refreshing to dive back into this subject matter and discuss rejuvenation, rebirth, gaining perspective, slowing things down, healing, and the other aspects of what stories, poems, and even music portray as happening in the green world of nature and I enjoyed contrasting it with the striving, fast paced, often unforgiving city (or court) world portrayed in many literary works.

We talked about yet another way that literary comedy helps us see the tight connection between vitality and goodness. We discussed laughter as a means of catharsis and as a way we bond ourselves to others. Laughter also sweetens our perspective and this laughter doesn't just grow out of "funny" things that happen: it also grows out of the sheer joy of reconciliation, confusion being clarified, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, and the other positive human experiences comedies portray and explore.

I also loved returning to the second act of As You Like It and looking at Duke Senior's vision of the wonder with what the Arden Forest has become to him in his banishment, at Orlando's commitment to serving the needs of his aged companion Adam, and, best of all, the way Duke Senior disarms Orlando when he comes into the Duke's camp, ready to do sword battle for food, and suddenly realizes there's no fight to be had. Duke Senior will generously give him all the food he wants to satisfy his hunger and to deliver Adam from starvation. He tells Orlando, totally grounded in the spirit of comedy, "your gentleness shall force/More than your force move us to gentleness." I love this moment. I loved returning to it this morning and sharing it with my fellow Westminster Basementeers.

2.  Soon after the end of the Zoom meeting, Christy, Carol, and I vaulted into Christy's Outback and glided over Lookout Pass to Saltese, MT and the Old Montana Bar. 

Everett's son, Gene, and Gene's wife, Diana, are camping north of St. Regis and we hopped over the hill to join them for lunch. 

It was a really fun lunch. I'd never spent time with Gene and Diana and I enjoyed the conversations and what open, friendly, and kind people they are. At one point, I playfully confessed that I'm addicted to gambling and that I was going to throw a little money away and play a machine on the other side of the room. Gene joined me and we played for a little while, but no luck. I've had some luck on these machines other times, but, today, the games I played were a little tight. No problem. I was fun to spin some reels and fun to do it with Gene.

In a way I really enjoyed, Gene reminded me a lot of Everett. He's easy going. He sometimes talks sort of like Everett. He has some physical gestures and facial expressions that are similar to Everett. I didn't know this about Gene and I think he's very fortunate to have been and to still be carrying these qualities of Everett's forward. He did not, however, tell any jokes about a seeing eye chihuahua or a misplaced hearing aid!

3. Back home, I was relieved that the house had stayed pretty cool and that Luna and Copper seem to be finding ways to stay comfortable during this heat wave. I don't understand why, but on these hot days they often trot upstairs, the hottest part of the house, and lie down on the futon we have up there. Copper often rests under the futon where I would think it's cooler, but Luna seems to enjoy sunning herself by the window by the futon. 

Sometimes, in this heat, Luna and Copper will go outside where it's hot. Luna lounges in the shade and Copper likes to find a place to hide in the high weeds I have growing on three sides of the yard.

I wonder if Copper and Luna have some genetic connection to big cats on the savannah. I wonder if they are acting out something ancient that lives within them and allows them to live out scenes in their ancient memory and if, at some level, they are experiencing what it's like to be a puma or a lion in the heat of the lands of their origin. 

Maybe not. But I have fun imagining such things and having such thoughts.  

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/2021: Window A/C Unit Installed, Chillin' at the Lounge, Perfect Rice Salad

1. I pretty much knew that when I buzzed down to Ace Hardware first thing this morning that they'd be sold out of window a/c units. But, I gave it a shot and I was correct. Craig informed me that they are sold out in Wallace, Kellogg, Wal Mart in Smelterville, and in St. Maries. I smiled and quipped that maybe I should try Chicago and he quipped back that I might try Alaska. 😅

I was mentally prepared to make the combination of floor fans and window fans I possess work, but I thought I'd just see if Christy might be able to get by with using one of her window units -- she has two of them, thanks to Lura and Lyle giving her one last weekend. If Christy needed both of them, no problem, I'd make what I have work and call around to places in Coeur d'Alene and see if anyone has a window unit in stock.

Well, Christy, told me she thought she could get by with one unit. I had asked Paul earlier if he could assist me in putting it in and getting the living room rearranged.

He did both! The a/c unit is in. It's cooling the living room down nicely. I put the two window fans in the bedroom where they can pull warm air out during the day and bring in the somewhat cooler air at night. 

The living room is kind of a mess. Interior design/arrangement is not a strong suit of mine. But, I'll figure things out one way or another. 

Right now, keeping the room somewhat cool for Luna and Copper and me is the primary concern and, right now, that's happening.

2. Not long after wrapping up the a/c project with Paul and Christy, I called Ed and told him I was free to go uptown and visit the Inland Lounge. Ed picked me up, pointed out some of the finer features of his Camry, told me how much we were going to enjoy our new car, and we strolled into the Lounge and had a good session with Cas. 

The beer at the Lounge is super cold and I am really enjoying Miller High Life these days as my go to mass produced American beer and the two bottles I drank were perfectly refreshing and our time at the Lounge was awesome -- good stories, good laughs, and solid relaxation. 

3.  In preparation for the hot weather, I made a pretty good sized rice salad on Friday morning. It combines cold jasmine rice with sliced cucumber, tomato, almonds, cilantro, feta cheese, chickpeas, and olives. I dressed it with a combination of olive brine, rice vinegar, and olive oil. 

I served myself small bowls of this salad all day long. I have a bit more left over for later. I love this salad whether it's hot or cold out, but as we begin life this week in the heat dome, this rice salad is perfectly nourishing and comforting. By the way, a person can put all kinds of stuff in this salad: red pepper, red onions, cold meat, or anything that sounds good -- also, it's a flexible salad as far as how it might be dressed. 

More cold salads to come. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/2021: Debbie Bought a Car, Celebrating Darren's Birthday, *Heartworn Highways* Again

1. It was a big day for Debbie and me today. We'd decided that we'd like to buy, we hope, one last new car in our life together. Today, after we'd talked several times about what we want in a car, Debbie closed a transaction on a new Toyota Camry. I don't know what model it is or anything, but I know Debbie is happy with its size, the sight lines looking out of the car, and the color (silver/gray -- a little darker than the Sube). 

So, this clinches our plan for me to fly to Maryland, join the 4th of July party at the Diaz home, and, eventually, begin a cross country drive with Debbie and Gibbs back to Kellogg via Chicago/Lake Michigan and who knows where else.

2. Debbie and I had some figuring out to do on the phone and we got it all settled around 2:30 (PST) and I leapt into the Sube and, in a flash, arrived a little over an hour later at the Northern Quest Casino near Spokane.

I joined Ed, Nancy, Darren, and Erica for a couple of beers and an order of chicken wings to celebrate Darren's birthday. We seized a table at the Epic Sports Bar and had a lot of fun for about an hour gabbin' away and getting in some good laughs. It was a blast.

The others had a 6 o'clock dinner reservation at Masselow's Steakhouse in the casino, so our little party broke up around 5 or so. I went out on the floor, played machines for a while, didn't win or lose any money, and got back to Kellogg around 7:30, hoping Copper and Luna were all right with the temperatures rising. They were. My efforts to keep the living room at least moderately cool worked. 

3. Once settled in back in Kellogg, I retired to the bedroom with my MacBook Air and my external drive and watched the 1976 documentary, Heartworn Highways.

I'd watched this documentary before, let's see, <checks my blog history> back in August of 2010 during a visit to see Mom in Kellogg. I had remembered enjoying the music a lot. I enjoyed seeing Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and David Allen Coe, and others as young guys and the movie increased my appreciation for the niche of country music these artists were carving out.

Watching it tonight, I enjoyed the music more than eleven years ago. Most of all I enjoyed the style of the movie.  Having watched a few Les Blank documentaries lately, this movie was very similar in style. Unlike many documentaries, it didn't have a narrator. In fact, the musicians were introduced to us only if they introduced themselves or if their name came up in the footage they appeared in. Their identities were established once and for all in the final credits.

It's a fluid movie, moving from one artist to another, from one time and place to another, without much sense of transition and it has an unpolished look, almost like a home movie. But it's clear that the director and cinematographer,  James Szalapski, has a keen eye for purposeful details. He makes sure they are in each shot's frame and it becomes clear that what might seem haphazard in the movie isn't. 

I now know that in the last few years a sequel to this movie was released called Heartworn Highways Revisited. It features contemporary young artists making music similar to Guy Clark, Steve Young, Steve Earle and the other originators of, what?, outlaw country music; it also features musicians from the first movie. We see them in their last years, about forty years after Heartworn Highways was filmed. 

I plan on ordering myself a copy of both movies. Heartworn Highways, to me, documents many aspects of life around 1975. Not only do I enjoy the music in the movie, but I enjoy the cars, cigarettes, clothes, and other small details, like those paper cone cups with plastic holders we used to drink coffee out of and the cheap wine the musicians drink as they sit around a table singing "Silent Night, Holy Night". 

I'm hoping to dig more into documentaries from 40-50 years ago. I enjoy Les Blank a lot. I'm thinking right now about how much I enjoy both Harlan County, USA and Hearts and Minds from that time period and I think it's time to explore more. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/2021: Farewell Patrick and Meagan, Flying to Baltimore, Copper and Luna Outside

 1. Patrick and Meagan had not finished their vacation after our time in Glacier National Park. Late this morning, they packed up their things, loaded their car, and headed west to Alta Crystal Resort near Mt. Rainier. 

I waved goodbye to Meagan and Patrick sadly. They are fun to be with, treat me respectfully and light heartedly, and we enjoy doing a lot of the same things: hiking, exploring, talking about all kinds of things, trying out beers at different places, eating decent food, and spending time with family -- it was especially fun that Patrick and Meagan got to spend so much time with Christy, Carol, Paul, Molly, and Zoe -- and some time with Cosette, Taylor, and Sapphire, too. 

Meagan made it a special point to tell me, as she left, how much she enjoyed her time with my family.  I know she was speaking for Patrick, too.

Lastly, I really enjoyed that I let Meagan and Patrick be in charge while we traveled. It did me some good as far as developing flexibility to let Meagan and Patrick shake me out of my usual schedule and ways of doing things, to get going later in the day, often play things by ear, sometimes figure things out on the fly, and just enter into their world and, in a sense, be like Meagan and Patrick. 

It all worked out splendidly. We experienced some wonderful surprises (East Glacier, party on the deck Wednesday night!) and had a ton of fun.

2. Debbie texted me today with a strong suggestion that I book a flight to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for July 4th, and join her, Ellie, Jack, Josh, Adrienne, Gibbs (and Spike?), and the Diazes in Silver Spring, MD. She recommended that we spend some time in Maryland and then make our way to the area close to her brother Brian's lake place on Lake Michigan and be present for Hiram's performance of a piece commissioned by the Michigan City, Indiana Municipal Band (hope I got the name right) in mid-July. Hiram has played with this group before, leading them to have this piece composed, featuring him. 

From the northern Indiana/Chicagoland area, Debbie, Gibbs, and I would then, at some point, start our trek back to Kellogg and, by the end of the month, it sure looks like Debbie, Gibbs, Luna, Copper, and I will be back together on West Cameron Avenue. It will have been about eleven months since Debbie and Gibbs flew off to help out with Jack and Ellie back in Valley Cottage, NY. 

It's a pretty big deal.

(My flight is booked. I will arrive at BWI around 4:30 in the afternoon on July 4 🎉🎉🎉.)

3.  I like how it's working for Luna and Copper to be spending more time out back -- whether on the porch, on the deck, or roaming on the lawn and among the weeds in the meadow (cough cough) that surrounds three sides of the yard. Copper seems the more adventurous. 

I'm wondering if time outside might help relieve some of Copper's anxiety when I'm gone. It's hard to say. I'm also wondering if the cats might use the litter boxes indoors less often if they are spending more time outdoors. I'll be keeping an eye on these things over the next several days. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/2021: Powerful Kootenai Falls, Memory Drinking at MickDuff's, Family Party on the Deck!

 1. Meagan, Patrick, and I pointed the Nissan Sentra west on Highway 2 and, after breakfast at Carolyn's Cafe in Hungry Horse, set out for Kootenai Falls. We hiked down to the different viewing points of the falls and I marveled, as I did back in 2019, at the sheer power of the Kootenai River as it blasts through this passage over cliffs and rocks, creating eye popping cascades, churning pools of water, and tremendous  force. We then made our way to the Swinging Bridge and, as on my last visit here, I just wasn't ready to walk across it. Patrick and Meagan enjoyed it a lot. I sat in shady spots on rocks bordering the trail and gawked at the power of the Kootenai River, feeling like I didn't need to walk above it to appreciate its beauty and force.

Note to myself: it's been a lousy month for me as far as physical activity and I really felt it hiking up out of the riverbed and back to the parking lot. The heat bothered me a lot, too. I have to get back moving again and regain a better capacity for wind and stamina. Right now, I'm in lousy shape.

2. We continued on Highway 2 until the junction with Highway 56 and turned south until we reached Highway 200 and headed on west along the Clark Fork River, into Clark Fork, ID, around an upper region of Lake Pend Oreille and on into Sandpoint.

We piled out of the car at MickDuff's, found a spot to sit on a large picnic table outside, and I ordered MickDuff's version of a Black and Tan. Its a mixture of their Tipsy Toehead Blonde Ale and their Knot Tree Porter. I love MickDuff's Knot Tree Porter -- it takes me back to the days, oh, 20-24 years ago when I loved drinking McMenamin's Black Rabbit Porter.  For me, drinking two glasses of this beer was classic memory drinking -- yes, the taste was awesome, but the memories of Black Rabbit Porter made this beer session exquisite.

Until today, I'd never eaten a poke bowl and now I have. I loved the raw ahi tuna in a terrific sauce that included toasted sesame seeds to give the dish some crunch. 

Meagan went inside and returned with four 25 oz crowlers: Blonde Ale, Mole Stout, Summer Crush (a milkshake IPA), and a pale ale.

3. Upon arriving back at the house in Kellogg, we were delighted that Zoe, Molly, and Carol were all at the house. Zoe had just fed Copper and Luna (no cat messes while I was gone! Victory!) and we invited them to stick around for a party on the deck. Christy was out watering flowers and we invited her over, too, and Patrick made a tasty batch of guacamole to go with chips Patrick and Meagan had on hand. We had plenty of beer. Christy enjoyed a bourbon and coke cocktail. We emptied all but about 8 oz of three of the crowlers. We stayed out until around 10:30, telling stories, laughing, just having a fun time. 

Patrick and I both squeezed in some laundry time and I made some progress getting reacquainted with Luna and Copper after our two nights of separation.  Last night, they loved being out back while all of us were out there. In fact, Copper loved it so much that he stayed out all night. I was a bit anxious about him not being in when I went to bed, but around 5 a.m. I checked out back, saw Christy's cat Grayson in the back part of the yard, could hear another can squawking, and sure enough, Copper was the squawker. I walked back to Copper. Grayson shuffled off, leaving Copper at liberty to saunter back into the house and enjoy his morning meal. 

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/2021: Overcoming Entry Ticket Disappointment, East Glacier Wonder, West Glacier Magnificence

 1. Patrick, Meagan, and I started our day touring in and around Glacier National Park with bagels, other snacks, and coffee at Flitter Bee Buzz Thru, a coffee stand near the town of West Glacier.

We soon reached the West Glacier entrance of the park, thinking we were set. Two months ago, Patrick had bought a Park Pass, but because of the park's growing popularity, in order to enter at West Glacier, St. Mary, or via Camas Pass between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., an Entry Reservation Ticket is also required. This requirement was not in place when Patrick purchased the Park Pass. We didn't have an Entry Reservation Ticket. 

We couldn't enter the park.

We were directed to an area where park rangers were advising confused visitors like ourselves. 

A patient, encouraging ranger went over a map with Patrick. Generally speaking, she recommended that we go back out to Highway 2 and drive to East Glacier Village. She promised that we'd see some gorgeous scenery and said some other things that I'm not sure about. She urged us to return to the West Glacier entrance some time after 5 p.m. when we'd be able to enter the park with just our Park Pass -- no need for the Entry Reservation Ticket. 

By the way, she also informed us that only a section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road was open -- we could get as far as the Avalanche Creek Campground. Beyond that, the park service was plowing snow, clearing away rock, putting up guard rails, and repairing roads. 

So, having talked with the ranger, we began our recovery from the shocking news that we'd have to change our day's plan.

Our recovery from this shock and disappointment got underway -- and EVERYTHING was great from this point forward. 

2. We entered the park on the east side and, at the Two Medicine entry point, the ranger at the booth saw our Park Pass (no Entry Reservation Ticket needed here). We drove to the Running Eagle Falls trailhead and took a short hike to the waterfall, a powerful cascade. We then drove to Two Medicine Lake and took a short walk to a spot on the beach and marveled at the beauty of the lake and the grandeur of the mountain faces that seemed to grow out of the water. 

We were stirred and had now reached a point of happiness and awe in our day we had thought, just hours earlier, might never come.

But, we persisted. We rolled with our situation. We were patient. We were rewarded. Our visit to the east side of the park was unplanned and magnificent. 

We might have even been a little bit grateful that the Entry Reservation Ticket situation forced us to do some things we wouldn't have done otherwise.

3.  And, lo and behold, we made a triumphant return to the West Glacier entry. It was past 5 p.m. and we zipped right in, along with a fairly line long of other cars. 

There were lots of people, lots of cars. So what? Yeah, there were a lot of people, but we weren't exactly looking to zip down the road fast and furiously.

We made our way to the end of the road, the barrier at Avalanche Creek Campground and, to our delight, this was also where the easy hike on the Trail of the Cedars commenced. Meagan used her wizardry to find a precious parking spot and we walked the boardwalk constructed to guide us through this stand of ancient cedar trees and to thrill at the rushing waters of Avalanche Creek. 

We reversed field, headed back toward the park's exit, stopping from time to time to admire scenic views and we made one last stop at the Lake McDonald Lodge. We found a take out cafe on the bottom level of the lodge and ordered sandwiches and drinks and enjoyed our food on a bench while surveying the splendor of Lake McDonald and watching children and adults play on the beach not far below us. After eating, we took a casual stroll down to the lake's edge, marveled at the sun setting, the light becoming softer and softer, and thought how fortunate we were that a day that seemed to start with heartbreaking disappointment was heartbreaking or disappointing at all.

It was a day of awe.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/2021: Leaving Luna and Copper, Driving Montana, Backslope Brewery is Perfect!

 1. I spent much of the morning getting ready for the two night trip I'm going on with Meagan and Patrick to Hungry Horse, MT. Zoe is staying at the house while I'm gone and I spent some of the morning doing my best to detail for her some written instructions regarding the care of Luna and Copper. I'm hoping that having Zoe in the house with them while I'm gone will reduce their stress level, especially Copper's. I also tried to leave the house as spiffy as possible for Zoe and changed the bedding so she can sleep under fresh sheets. I was very grateful when Christy took care of Luna and Copper while I was in New York and I'm equally grateful that Zoe agreed to stay at the house while I'm gone. It's a great comfort to me. More important, I hope it's a comfort to Luna and Copper.

2. Meagan, Patrick, and I sat around the kitchen table just before noon and enjoyed bagel sandwiches from The Bean. We loaded my luggage in the car and we were off on a gorgeous three and a half hour drive into western Montana. I am a very fortunate person. While in New York and New England earlier in June and late in May, I got to enjoy the peaceful canopies of seemingly unending deciduous trees, gently rolling hills, and the breadth and width of the Hudson River, among other splendors of nature. Today, the scenery was all in contrast to that. Coniferous trees dominate the landscape. The mountains are imposing. The Clark Fork River meanders around Montana beautifully and is not the behemoth that the Hudson River is. 

I cannot set American landscapes in comparison to one another. It's all arresting. 

We are staying near Hungry Horse, MT at Lazy Bear Lodging. We rented the Bear Den Townhouse. The townhouse strikes me as newly remodeled in a rustic style with wood floors and emphasis on rustic looking furnishings. It's sparkling clean, loaded with amenities, and tucked a short way off the highway among evergreens. It's quiet. It's very comfortable. We are very happy here.

3. Once we got settled in, Meagan did some quick research regarding breweries near Hungry Horse and we piled into the Nissan Sentra and headed to the Backslope Brewery in Columbia Falls. The brewery has a taproom and a kitchen and, upon our arrival, the place was packed with numerous people waiting for a table. Thank goodness, Patrick and Meagan are patient (and so am I). The host invited us to order a beer at the bar and drink it in the waiting area and we did just that.

I love a lot about beer, but two pleasures stand out: I love encountering a beer I've never seen, tasted, or imagined before and I love beers aged in booze barrels. As I scanned the beer list, I nearly came out of my shoes when I read that Backslope brewed a beer called The Notorious BDG. It's an amber ale brewed with honey and molasses aged in rum barrels. I'd never heard of such a delicious sounding beer and I ordered a glass. It was superb. As I waited for the server to pour my beer, I prepared myself for a beer with next to no bitterness and wondered how forward the molasses would be (it was perfect) and how sweet the honey would be (just right). I loved the rummy character of this beer and savored each sip. 

Once we were seated, I knew I was going to order a flank steak Bulgogi bowl and I anticipated that Backslope's Pilgrim Blonde Ale would be the perfect accompaniment. 

I was right! The Pilgrim Blonde Ale is a mild beer, easy to drink, and does not have the explosion of hops common in an IPA. Therefore, the marinated flank steak, fried egg, rice, sriracha, and cilantro in my bowl did not have to compete with a variety of flavors found in my beer. I'd hit the food/beer sweet spot. 

We also ordered fried pickles. The Backslope fries the pickles as spears, not as coin shaped slices, and I liked this style a lot. The fried pickles were a tasty and satisfying appetizer.

We also ordered a growler of Backslope's Crooked Creek IPA to go. 

It sits unopened in the refrigerator and I am eager to bust into it on Tuesday! 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/2021:Father's Day Taco Feed, Rahm Wins the US Open, Radio Beers on the Deck

 Note: If you'd like to look at the program and read the welcome, prayers, Bible selections, and my eulogy from Everett's Celebration of Life on Saturday, it's all posted at this link:

1. Since I'm taking a trip with Patrick and Meagan to Montana on Monday and since Zoe is staying at the house with Luna and Copper, I spent much of the morning cleaning the house.

By 2:00, though, it was time to jet over to Paul and Carol's for a quiet and easy Father's Day taco feed. 

It was relaxing to spend time with Molly, Zoe, Cosette, Taylor, Sapphire, Christy, Tracy, Paul, and Carol. Yes, we've seen a lot of each other this weekend, but with the Celebration of Life completed, it was fun to wind down with a mojito and to eat some ground beef or shrimp tacos made with flour or corn tortillas. 

2. I returned home and watched Spain's Jon Rahm dramatically birdie 17 and 18 en route to his one stroke victory over Louis Oosthuizen to win the 2021 U. S. Open golf championship. Oosthuizen opened the way for Rahm to charge to victory when he hit his tee shot into a gnarly penalty area on the 17th hole and bogeyed it. Rahm's victory was especially dramatic because a couple of weeks ago he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial golf tournament after three rounds because he tested positive for Covid. He was devastated by that development, but bounced back in an almost unimaginable way to win this most challenging major golf tournament.

3. After having dinner at Radio Brewing, Meagan and Patrick swung by with two cans of three different beers from Radio. While Patrick and Meagan shared two cans of Idaho Sexy Huckleberry Wheat Ale, I was knocked over by how much I enjoyed two cans of Radio's Horchata Cream Ale. I loved how the cinnamon and vanilla came on strong and I enjoyed the way this cream ale felt in my mouth. We closed out our session by splitting a pint of vanilla coffee stout that I had in the refrigerator and while we enjoyed these beers we talked about a range of subjects, covering everything from family matters to the now deceased radio host Art Bell! It was a great time on the deck. Luna and Copper especially enjoyed joining us and I loved watching them become more and more comfortable with being in the back yard. 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/2021: Celebration of Life for Everett, The Perfect Reception, Leftovers Party!

 1. Everett's Celebration of Life this morning was months in the making. Christy devoted countless hours to very carefully setting the date and time, deciding on the music she wanted performed, making decisions about the music that played before the service began, sorting through hundreds (thousands?) of pictures and assembling a slide show, planning and executing the service's display at the front of the church, purchasing flowers, going over the details of the reception, especially with Carol, assigning pews to family members, printing a program, and planning all the other details of today's service and reception.

As today grew near, my anticipation grew and so did my fervent hope that everything would fall into place. 

It did.

Today's service was a perfect memorial to every facet of Everett's life. 

Everett was a devoted Christian and the service vibrated with prayers speaking to Everett's faith, gospel music, and testaments to his faithfulness. The service paid tribute to Everett as a father with stories and pictures and a poem Christy wrote that attested to his love of his children, and, in turn, his love of grandchildren and great grandchildren. We had some good laughs, too. Everett loved to tell jokes and say funny and clever things. If it's possible to capture the whole of a person who lived as fully and as long as Everett did (90 years), I think this Celebration of Life came as close as humanly possible to helping us all relive Everett's love of so much in his life:  the Lord, his family, Christy, the many animals in his life, his many labors, being in the outdoors, making people laugh, being of service to others, country and gospel music, his memories as a young guy growing up in the Methow Valley and Chelan, and more.

I'm not quite ready to post the service's program, Christy's poem, the prayers I gave, bible passages I read, nor the eulogy I gave. I need to do a some light proofreading of my electronic copies. When I do post them, I'll announce I've done so on Facebook and will email the link to all the subscribers to this blog.

2. On Friday, when I attended Norman Knott, Jr.'s service at the Greenwood Cemetery, the sunshine was edging toward brutal. All of us in attendance gravitated toward any shade we could find.

I bring this up because, on Friday, I was feeling some low level anxiety about the early afternoon reception planned in Carol and Paul's back yard after our celebration of Everett's life.

Oh, my! Was that bit of anxiety ever a waste of feeling!

Not only is Carol and Paul's yard handsomely shaded by trees, the early afternoon sky featured a light cloud cover. The sun was out, but the clouds filtered both its glare and its direct heat. Not only that, the weather granted us further reprieve with a series of refreshing breezes. In other words, it was a perfect afternoon outside.

I loved being in the company of so much good cheer.

I loved being in the company of Everett's family, the many graduates of Kellogg High School, of a variety of ages, older and younger than Christy and me, Professors Walter Hesford and Elinor Michel who are longtime friends of Christy from the Univ of Idaho, some friends of Christy and Everett's from her days teaching at Inchelium, cousin Lura and her husband Lyle from the West/Baugh branch of our family tree; I was very happy that stepson Patrick and his girlfriend, Meagan drove from Portland to pay their respects and it was fun to have Carol and Paul's whole family present with Zoe, Cosette, and Molly on hand. 

I thought the service, even though it was a Celebration of Life, opened up ample room for people to weep as they mourned the loss of Everett and gave people in the mood to celebrate Everett ample room to do that.  The reception continued the spirit of celebration with plates of ham, turkey, and beef slices, croissants to use for sandwiches, a wide variety of salads (provided by members of PEO), other food items, and a generous wine bar, as well as plenty of water and lemonade. The peak of the reception occurred when Paul raised a toast to Everett in remembrance of his firm handshake. To Paul, it was as if Everett were passing his strength on to the person whose hand he shook and, at the same time, assuring the other person that things were going to be all right.

Once again, Christy, with Carol and Paul's help, put many hours of thought and planning into this reception and all that work was rewarded by seeing how happy the attendees were with the food, wine, and one another's company. 

3. It turned out that officiating Everett's service wore me out, in a good way. I came home from the reception and took a very satisfying nap. I'd thought about going to Coeur d'Alene to purchase a crowler or two of Kellerbier at Trails End Brewery, but I just didn't have the energy to do so.

At six o'clock, family gathered again in Carol and Paul's back yard to feast on reception leftovers. 

Zoe baked delicious herb seasoned bread to make sandwiches with and Carol baked an awesome strawberry rhubarb pie served with ice cream. Lura and Lyle added to the delicious offerings with a container of blackberries. 

Taylor and Cosette live together in Moscow and Taylor has a daughter named Sapphire who is a month shy of turning five years old. She had turned Zoe's makeup bag into a medical bag and used its contents to give medical and dental care to anyone at this gathering who needed a checkup or some medical/dental care. 

And, guess what? The weekend of spending time together isn't over yet! As we enjoyed the late afternoon and early evening air cooling off and as we told stories and made wisecracks to make each other laugh, Carol composed a menu for a Father's Day get together at 2:00. Christy, Tracy, possibly Patrick and Meagan, the Roberts family, and I will reconvene at that time for more good food, good cheer, and, I'll bet, a lot of further winding down as this epic weekend comes to a close. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/2021: RIP Norman Knott, Burger Feed at Christy's, Patrick and Meagan Bring a Beer Supply

 1. Ed and Stu came by the house and we piled into Stu's truck and glided up to the Kellogg's Greenwood Cemetery to pay our last respects to Don Knott's oldest brother, Norman. I enjoyed seeing a lot of people I knew and thought it was a good thing that we all heard Norman's obituary read and said the Lord's Prayer together. The Greenwood Cemetery is a gorgeous resting place for decades of people who are buried there or whose ashes are in one of the several columbaria in a series of walls. 

After the graveside ceremony, we all made our way down to the Elks Club for a burger feed. I had a burger feed coming up on a short while at Christy's tonight, but I enjoyed a couple of cans of Miller High Life, a great beer to my taste! I got to yak with Harley, Riles, Barney, Keith, and others and felt slightly euphoric drinking those two cold beers and having a bunch of good laughs.

2. I returned home and spent some time just sitting with Luna and Copper on the back porch, seeing if we might enjoy some time outside together. We did. Luna and Copper were very content sitting near me and occasionally wandering down on the deck or grazing a bit in the grass. 

Before long, I sashayed over through the gate between our yard and Christy's and joined in some conversation and, before long, Lura announced that the burgers were ready to eat. We also had potato chips and potato salad and a fine selection of condiments for the hamburgers. Lura was happy with how she cooked the burgers (deservedly so) and she was really happy with the tasty ground beef that came from Yoke's. 

I love Keith's burgers up at the Elks. It was difficult to turn one down. But, I had to put family over fraternal order. I was really glad I did. The LuraBurger was delicious as was Christy's potato salad. It's always a treat.

3. I knew from text messages that Patrick and Meagan had arrived in Kellogg a little earlier. They rested for a while in their room at the Silver Inn, just down the street and popped in at Christy's. Meagan hadn't met several family members and introduced herself. After a bit, Patrick informed me that he and Meagan had bought some bombers at Iron Goat Brewing in Spokane. When the time was right, I dashed over to the house to inspect the beers and refrigerate them and popped open a wonderful blonde ale and split it with Meagan and Patrick. Later, I popped back over brought back a bomber of Goatmeal Stout. It was like pouring espresso and chocolate brownie out of a bottle with a nice bite of bitterness at the end. 

Meagan, Patrick, and I decided to go over to my place and share some more beer and Molly asked if she could join in. YES! So I retired to the living room with a small glass of session IPA called Junior from Structures Brewing in Bellingham. This beer was a little bit old, but it had been refrigerated ever since Hugh brought here and we all agreed it tasted perfectly fine.

Meagan, Patrick, and Meagan talked about a variety of things in the kitchen. I relaxed in the living room, half listening to what they had to say, but trying to give them their privacy as youngsters to talk without an old man like me eavesdropping very hard.

I had a little bit of another IPA. The party moved into the living room. Conversation continued to be meaningful and urgent, but before long, Zoe arrived and gave Molly a lift home and by 11:00 I bade Patrick and Meagan farewell and hit the sack. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/2021: Spiffing Up the Basement, Haircut and Trails End Brewery, Christy Hosts Dinner

 1. The basement has needed some attention for a while. Today, while laundering a blanket, the drum in the washing machine began making a loud noise because the blanket had shifted to one side and drum was out of balance. I fixed that, restarted the washing machine, and decided to stay downstairs in case the drum needed my attention again. To pass the time, I swept. I checked out the condition of some fluorescent light bulbs. I got things looking better, but I need to take the vacuum cleaner down and do more cleaning.

2. I sprung into the Sube this afternoon and blasted over the pass to Coeur d'Alene and went to Supercuts. I was happy to see that both women who have cut my hair before were working. It turned out that Robin, who commutes to CdA from Pinehurst, cut my hair and got it trimmed up and looking pretty good in record time. 

Because for about a year, starting last March, I had been lying pretty low here in Kellogg, I had read about Trails End Brewery but hadn't dropped in. 

Trails End bakes pizza in a brick oven -- I could see the flame in the oven from the bar -- and if they served slices, I was ready to order a cheese slice and sample a little bit of beer. Well, no problem, but Trails End only sells whole pies -- I'll buy one another time -- so I decided to have two small glasses of beer.

I started with Trails End's Creek Hoppin' West Coast IPA. I could have ordered a hazy, but after drinking quite a few hazys back east, I've been hankering for a more resinous, more piney IPA. In addition, the more juicy hazy IPAs tend to be less bitter (lower IBU) and I was also hankering for a more pronounced bitter finish. Creek Hoppin's IBU was not out of sight at 60, but I thought it delivered a strong bitter finish and I enjoyed the beer's flavors.

As I enjoyed this beer, I saw, for the first time ever in a brewery or taproom, that Trails End brews a Kellerbier. Back in Salem, MA a couple of weeks ago, Emily Sauter gave me a can of Kellerbier from Fox Farms, the brewery where she works. I drank it last week in New York and loved it and I was thrilled to see that Trails End brews a Kellerbier. So I ordered a small glass of Mountains Please! and I loved it. It's a light, cloudy beer and this one is made with the Kazbek Hop from the Czech Republic and has a very pleasing lemon forward taste. One day, when I know I'll be drinking beer with others here at home, I'll return to Trails End and purchase a crowler or a growler of Mountains Please! to go. I'd love to share this gem of a beer with other craft beer lovers!

3. Back in Kellogg, at 6 o'clock, the Celebration of Everett's Life officially began when I ambled over to Christy's back yard and joined Christy, Lura, and Lyle -- and a bit later, Tracy -- for a gin and tonic and the spaghetti and meatball (cooked in the crockpot) that Christy whipped up for dinner. 

We regaled each other with stories about family and shared memories and talked about what's happening with different family members in the present. Our meal was delicious and our time together was filled with good cheer, as it should be. We pretty much left the big world out there to do its business without us because we were focused on the small and much more enjoyable world of life in our families and on getting this weekend of honoring Everett off to a positive start. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/2021: Everett's Service is Ready to Go, Remembering June 15, 2018, Chicken from Yoke's

 1. For the second day in a row, I buckled down, didn't procrastinate, and finished the eulogy for Everett. I wrote a welcome, an announcement, an opening prayer, and a benediction. I also selected and typed out three passages of reasonable length from the Bible to read. Now all I have to do is review it all and print it out and put it in the binder. 

Because I was getting this project finished with plenty of time to spare, I enjoyed my work today, especially as I read different passages from the Bible and as I sought assistance from the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer and the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer. The only Episcopalian/Anglican worship service I've been to in the last year and a half was Ellie's baptism last Sunday. I'm looking forward to once again driving over to St. Luke's on Sunday mornings and worshiping there again. I won't do it this Sunday, but possibly I'll be able to on June 27th.

2. Today, Pam Dane posted a group picture on Facebook of many of the people who attended the party for Michael McDonald and Lynn Tullis' retirement in Pam and Mike's back yard on June 15, 2018. That was a momentous party. I am still beaming from the joy of being back together with people I taught with at LCC from 1989-2014. I can't think of a party I've enjoyed more. I love seeing Jerome Garger standing tall in the back row of this picture. I love remembering how invigorating it was to see him that day and to share our mutual love for each other. It's also grievous to see him in this picture. He died on May 7 at home at the age of 83. Memories of our many great times together have been returning to me every day since I read the news on May 8th. If you'd like to read about Jerome's full and vibrant life, his obituary is here

June 15th was a doubly momentous day. While I was at the LCC retirement party, Debbie joined teachers she had taught with at Charlemagne and found out that during the 2018-19 school year, the school would be needing a long term substitute teacher to work in place of a faculty member who would be on maternity leave. The teachers at that party urged Debbie to consider applying for the position and the prospect fired up Debbie. Debbie and I returned to Eugene in August. Debbie interviewed for the position and landed it. She moved to Eugene late in October and so began this phase of our marriage we are still in of being mostly separated from one another. The teaching job and living in Eugene worked out splendidly for Debbie and, she confirmed in a phone call we had last night, she is definitely done teaching (I'd made a joke about her returning to the classroom in Prince George's County). 

It's actually mind boggling to read back through this blog and look at all that has happened since that gorgeous evening in Eugene on June 15, 2018 with Debbie's work in Eugene as a teacher, Josh and Adrienne getting married, Ellie being born, frequent trips to Spokane to play trivia, Debbie moving to Valley Cottage, the way I filled my days while lying low before I was vaccinated, getting Gibbs, losing Everett, bringing Copper and Luna into my life, and much much more. 

That picture in Pam and Mike's back yard represents a seismic joy to me. It's also a turning point as Debbie and I were about to move into another phase of our uncommon married life.

3.  I needed to pick up a few things at Yoke's this evening. I had a fleeting thought before I buzzed over there that if they had any rotisserie chickens for sale, I'd buy one. One was left. I brought it home, cooked up some rice and corn and made a simple chicken, rice, and corn bowl topped with teriyaki sauce and, even though the chicken was much saltier than I prefer, I enjoyed my meal and drank a lot of sparkling water to compensate for the chicken's high sodium level! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/2021: Writing for Everett, Bill and Kat Play a Benefit, Outdoor Time for Luna and Copper

 1. As I grow older, I do everything slower. I am officiating the Celebration of Life for Everett on Saturday and I started taking notes and jotting possible approaches to the eulogy while I was in New York. I'm just not sure any longer that I can pull off a last minute composition of anything. 

Today, I completed about 95% of eulogy and I'm relieved that I won't be rushing around, trying to finish it, say, on Friday or Saturday morning. Mostly, I need to write the final paragraph and I think by stepping away from my day of writing in the evening and by reading and contemplating passages from the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer that I have a pretty good idea of how I'm going to bring the eulogy to a close. 

With the eulogy completed, I can turn my attention to writing the opening prayers, the benediction, and announcements. I will also select a few passages to read from the Bible. I am nearly certain that by the time I go to bed Wednesday night, I'll have the entire service ready to go and can edit it, if needed, on Thursday and Friday.

2. Bill Davie has decided to perform Tree House concerts just once a month. Tonight, though, he teamed up with his longtime friend and fellow singer and songwriter, Kat Eggleston. They appeared live on YouTube from each their studios to perform a benefit concert for the great North Seattle bookstore, cafe, and music venue, The Couth Buzzard (8310 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103). They performed a beautiful concert. They traded songs back and forth, told stories, and praised the Couth Buzzard, inspiring us listeners to contribute to helping the Couth Buzzard move forward as Covid restrictions begin to ease. 

Interested in helping out? Here's a link to the GoFundMe page dedicated to this project:

3. More than Luna, Copper has shown interest in spending time in the back yard. Up until now, Copper and Luna have been indoor cats, but I've decided to let them go out in the enclosed back yard, explore around a bit, and find out if they enjoy it. So far, their times outside have been fairly short. I have heard Copper and Christy's cat, Grayson, make noises at each other, but they kept their distance. No harm. Of the two, Copper is, by my observation, the cat more prone to feeling stressed and I'd like to find out if spending some time on the deck, in the grass, and among the copious weeds might help relieve some of his occasional anxiety.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/14/2021: Coffee with Ed and Jake, My Wardrobe, Garden Party at Carol and Paul's

1. Ed was in town this morning taking care of some business and called me to meet at The Bean for a cup of coffee. I vaulted into the Sube, screeched over, and, lo and behold, Ed had run into Jake at Subway and invited him to join us. In the comfort of the mild morning, we yakked and laughed and I learned what Ed and Jake had been up to over the last couple of weeks. Jake was happy, not only that today was his birthday, but that Remember When, the band he's in with Carol Lee and Al Callahan, helped make Harley and Candy's 50th wedding anniversary party at the Elks a huge success. Ed had a good time at the anniversary party, too, and had been at a benefit the night before at the Osburn VFW Hall for a guy he worked with who is seriously ill. 

2. I wanted to make sure, today, that I was set as far as clothes for this Saturday's Celebration of Life for Everett. Christy and I discussed what I might wear and whether I needed to buy a new suit. We decided that I didn't need to, that if I wore fresh pants (with a belt -- no TSA drawer dropping, please) and a long-sleeved shirt, that would be appropriate for the occasion. I was grateful. I would have done it had Christy asked (and still will if she changes her mind), but I was a bit relieved that I don't need to go clothes shopping this week.

3. Carol and Paul invited Christy and me over to their house to join them and Zoe and Molly for a garden party. Christy brought gin and tonic and limes and we each made ourselves a cocktail and sat on the patio and talked about a bunch of stuff, including details for the Celebration of Life. Things seem to be falling into place. If anything needs to be ironed out logistically, that can happen at the church on Friday afternoon. It also sounds like things are in place for the reception that will follow at Carol and Paul's house, in the back yard. I have a general outline in mind and partially on paper for the eulogy I'll present and I know what my other tasks will be as the officiant of the service. 

I like that things are in pretty good shape this far in advance. Christy has a lot of support from family and friends who will help do the tasks that need to be carried out and everyone seems to be on board and ready to get things done. 


If you haven't heard or seen the notice, here are the Celebration of Life details:

When: Saturday, June 19th, 2021

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Place: Mountain View Congregational Church (once known as The United Church) on West Cameron Avenue, across the street from our house and Christy's

Reception to follow at Carol and Paul's: 7 Diamond St. in Kellogg

Monday, June 14, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/2021: Morning Duties, Vitality and Goodness, Party at Christy's!

1. First thing this morning I dragged my sleep deprived, foggy self over to Yoke's to buy some milk, a cube steak, and four new containers of cat litter. I hadn't had coffee yet (no milk at home), so I stopped at McDonald's for a drive thru senior coffee and returned home. I fixed myself a breakfast I don't prepare often, but that sure hit the spot today: cube steak, two fried eggs, and toast.  

It's an odious job, no doubt, but I was happy to empty Copper and Luna's litter boxes, clean them out, and put fresh litter back in. I can't blame any cats for being finicky about their boxes. I've tried not to give Copper and Luna a chance to be finicky by scooping their boxes regularly and deep cleaning them periodically. Copper and Luna ask so little of me -- they just want to be comfortable and content and regularly fed. We have a pretty good deal together.

2. After not Zooming for three weeks, Bill, Diane, Bridgit, and I jumped on Zoom this afternoon and continued our wide ranging, exhilarating, and formidable discussion of the literary genre of comedy. As the person sparking this discussion, I would have liked to have been a bit more prepared, but the good news, as always, today was that Bill, Diane, and Bridgit had plenty of things to talk about. All I had to do to light the fire was say that our focus today was going to be on vitality and goodness. 

We had a great discussion of the sources and experiences of vitality in the movie, Enchanted April. I saw it back in 1992, I think, and I remember that it helped me form a lot of my ideas about goodness and vitality and to have it all start to come back to me today was not only stimulating, but an emotionally moving experience. We veered in a slightly, but not totally, different direction when I read a paragraph from Ross Gay's essay, "Loitering", published in his book, The Book of Delights. I wanted to look at the value of being materially unproductive, of not being a consumer, of loitering or loafing or lollygagging, of joining Walt Whitman whose lines in "Song of Myself", filled with vitality, often regarded as the core of his poetic vision, open this way:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

           For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loaf and invite my soul,

I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.  

Before long, our discussion moved away from Enchanted April and Walt Whitman and Laurie Colwin and, I'd say, was invigorated by Joseph Campbell and his vision of vitality and the importance of following our bliss. We discussed aging. We discussed how retirement and illness can mean losing central aspects of our self-identity. We discussed how if our identification is primarily formed by the work we do, then retirement is very challenging. We lose an important part of our identity. Likewise, for Bill, who has MS, his identity is profoundly shaped by playing his guitar and performing. The pain of MS and its impact on his coordination makes playing increasingly difficult. If he can no longer dive into this profound source of goodness and vitality in his life, what will he do for invigoration, for purpose? 

These are compelling questions, questions I dare say we didn't give much thought to when we were younger, when it seemed like we would do what we cherish forever. 

Our discussion today was both electric and sobering, exciting and solemn. 

I began our discussion in a bit of a stupor from sleep deprivation. After two hours of exchanging stories and insights, I was renewed, energized, and alert. This Zoom session transformed my day. It vitalized me. 

3.  Upon ending the Zoom discussion, I sauntered next door with a nearly empty bottle of Tanqueray for a cocktail party with Christy and Carol. We enjoyed some crackers, cheese, and nuts and got caught up on what's been going on the last couple of weeks. Carol ordered a pizza delivered and we devoured it. The gin (and a little orange vodka) did more than just relax me. It combined with my sleep deprivation to put me a drowsy state and I returned home and went to bed at 6:30 p.m. I woke up later and fed the Luna and Copper, but mostly I slept, getting up only to visit the bathroom and drink water. By morning, I'd racked up right around twelve hours of sleep and I have to say that I think I'm back in synch with being in the Pacific Standard time zone again! 





Sunday, June 13, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/2021:Dropping My Drawers at TSA, *The Bomber Mafia*, Copper and Luna Welcome Me Home

 Note: It's a day late, but at the bottom of this post, you can see a picture of me, all happy to be back at O'Hara's Irish Pub and happy to be drinking a good old Dirt Wolf Double IPA. 

1. My flight out of Newark Liberty International Airport today was around 5:30 p.m., so I had much of the day to get my clothes organized and quadruple or quintuple check that I had my identification in place, that I was checked in for my flight, that I had the keys to the Sube and the house, that my pills were packed, and that everything was in order with the rental car. 

I left just about ten minutes or so later than I think I should have -- I had it in my shrinking brain that the airport was about 30-40 minutes away, but it's closer to an hour away. Traffic coming out of Valley Cottage was thick, a little bit slow and there was one complete slow down to a near stop on the Garden State Parkway. 

The slowdown was because of all the people who slowed down to check out an accident scene in the lanes going the opposite way. Are those people called rubberneckers? I shrugged, said, "Oh, well!" to myself, and arrived at the rental car return and got the car off my hands about ninety minutes ahead of my flight.

I printed myself a boarding pass and a luggage tag, dropped off my suitcase, and saw that the TSA line was long. Oh, well! I don't enjoy being either irritated or impatient, so I let my mind wander and after about twenty minutes I got my belt and shoes off, put my electronics in a couple of bins, walked through the x-ray machine thing, and stepped over to to the end of the conveyer belt to pick up my stuff.

I gathered my belongings, started to make my way to a place to sit down and get organized, and it turns out I really needed that belt. My pants fell down.

I quickly recovered, pulled them up, got my belt on, noticed that no one seemed to have noticed my embarrassing moment, got myself organized, and made my way to the correct gate and onto the plane.

2. In New York, I had downloaded Debbie's and my audiobook copy of Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Bomber Mafia. Debbie had listened to it, recommended I listen to it, and it made my flight really enjoyable.

Basically, the book explores two different theories of how to bomb enemies in wartime. It would be a spoiler if I wrote what the two theories are and how the conflict between these theories played out in World War II. Debbie made the point to me that the book reminded her of Rising Tide in the way that book looked at two theories about flood control and the egos and personalities attached to those conflicted approaches. The Bomber Mafia also explores how ideas (or theories), no matter how scientifically they are worked out, are not always disinterested in a purely scientific way, but are also influenced by ambition, moral vision, and, among other factors, personalities.

3. I arrived in Spokane and experienced what for me as a major triumph: I didn't lose my parking ticket with my car's location written on it and I didn't lose my set of Kellogg keys while I was back east!

Consequently, after I paid for my two weeks of outside parking at a pay station in the airport terminal, I walked straight to the Sube, fired it up, and headed for Kellogg with a quick stop in CdA at Carl's Jr. for a cheeseburger and fries that left me feeling full, but not nourished! 

Copper and Luna had missed me while I was gone. Really, there's no doubt that they regard me as their guy. As a welcome home gesture, both of them bit me a couple for three times (no serious injuries!) either out of affection or as a way of expressing their displeasure at my absence or a combination of the two. 

I walked in the door about 12:30 a.m. My body was still on EST, so it was really about 3:30 a.m. for me and I'd been awake for about twenty hours -- I didn't sleep on the planes. 

But, I was alert on my drive and I spent an hour, maybe an hour and a half, getting re-established with Luna and Copper until we finally all went to bed and once again Luna slept near my shoulders and Copper pressed himself against my lower leg and ankle. 

It's a really good thing that we are all back together again. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/2021: Return to Zucker's in Manhattan, Back to O'Hara's and X'ian, Strolling Brooklyn and the Village

 1. An Uber driver picked me at 7:30 this morning and dropped me off at the Metro-North railway station in Tarrytown. I immediately bought a round trip ticket to Grand Central Terminal and back along with 25 bucks worth of rides on the MTA subway. I boarded an express train that only stopped once on the way to Grand Central and, as the train glided into Manhattan, I admired the serenity and breadth of the Hudson River. 

Upon arriving at Grand Central, I went to the main concourse and made sure I remembered how to read the railroad system signs. It didn't take me long to remind myself that the Tarrytown train is on the Hudson Line and I made sure that I'd know, when I returned later in the day, which train I would be checking the times for.

I don't travel to Grand Central a lot, but when I do, I enjoy walking a short distance south on Lexington Ave. and stopping in at Zucker's for a cinnamon raisin bagel, not toasted, with a light smear of cream cheese and a medium cup of coffee with milk. It only took me a few seconds to figure out the logistics of their Zucker's ordering system (they have protective measures in place). I took my order out onto Lexington Ave., stood at a table, and began my day of enjoying the activity around me in NYC. 

Soon, I hopped on a 4 train and headed to Lower Manhattan. I boarded an express train that overshot my destination, but it was no big deal. I got off the train at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop, emerged from underground, sat down for a few minutes, and with the help of google maps, I figured out my very simple walking route north and east to O'Hara's Irish Pub on Cedar St. near Trinity Place. 

I was ahead of schedule as far as meeting Scott.  Near O'Hara's is the one time nerve center of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Zuccotti Park. Today, things were considerably, immeasurably quieter than in September 2011 -- in fact, it was very mellow. A handful of us were seated around the park. A small knot of food trucks served people coffee, water, or an early lunch. I gazed up at the towering World Trade Center, watched bicyclists on pedal and e-bikes, pedaling deliveries, and marveled at how quiet and unrushed the world around me was.

2. Scott arrived in the park around 11:15. Because Ed and Mike and I had had an awesome time at O'Hara's Irish Pub back in March 2017, I will forever consider it mandatory to pay O'Hara's a visit, if at all possible, any time I'm in Manhattan.

O'Hara's is a homey, welcoming, bar with a distinctly small town vibe (country music was on the juke box!). Scott and I bellied up to the bar and I ordered the only beer I've ever drunk at O'Hara's, a Dirt Wolf 2IPA from Victory Brewing. When I've drunk IPAs since arriving in New York, they've been mostly hazy New England IPAs. Dirt Wolf is much more of a western IPA, much more similar to the beers I used to drink in Oregon. I really enjoyed its resinous and piney flavors and its  bitter finish. It was a fun change from the more juicy hazy IPAs and Scott and I agreed that yakkin' over a Dirt Wolf in O'Hara's was about as awesome of a start to a day as we could imagine.

Once we finished out beer, we hopped on a subway to Brooklyn. I wanted to introduce Scott to the local chain of restaurants called X'ian Famous Foods and their very tasty western Chinese cuisine. I don't know anywhere else to go to eat this kind of Chinese food.  I had been to the X'ian near the Museum of Modern Art a couple of years ago and, because I wanted to spend time in Brooklyn, I recommended to Scott that we eat at their location on Willoughby Street. The food today was every bit as flavorful and awesome as I remembered. We shared a bowl of spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles, a X'ian burger (was it spicy beef?) prepared between two pieces of a kind of flatbread that was terrific, and an order of spicy and sour lamb dumplings -- heavenly.

3. I recommended to Scott that we go to Brooklyn because I wanted to return to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. I was last on the promenade in 2012 and I wanted to see the new skyline across the East River that now included the World Trade Center and I wanted to gaze at the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and at watercraft, like jet skis and water taxis, darting on the water. I also enjoy how relaxed the other people are who are strolling, sitting on benches, and enjoying this remarkable spot. 

After this peaceful time at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, we hopped on a subway and headed to Greenwich Village and managed to secure a table outside at the very busy Blind Tiger pub. We each ordered a Company Lunch IPA from Maine Brewing, my first ever Maine Brewing beer. We both agreed that it was nice drinking an IPA that wasn't exploding with bombs of flavor, but that was balanced, easy to drink, refreshing, and rock solid.

Once we finished our beer, we weren't quite finished yet. To my utter delight, we strolled from the Blind Tiger to the mellow scene at Washington Square. On our way to Washington Square, I was struck by the number of young people serenely riding bicycles, gliding on scooters, and enjoying their skateboards. Some buskers were out performing music in the Village and Washington Square itself was replete with good vibes and people taking it easy, enjoying the cooler weather, and the serene social scene. 

I guess, to me, the general mellowness everywhere we went kind of tied the day together. So much about New York City is ordinary -- everyday people walking dogs, buzzing around on bicycles, riding scooters, sitting in parks with take out food, enjoying a bagel at Zuker's, getting from one place to another on the train, enjoying western Chinese food in X'ian courtyard, strolling, yakking, and relaxing on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Yes, I'd like to return to NYC and visit museums and galleries, possibly hear some live music, go to the theater, and visit historical sites -- but, I really enjoy just hanging out in NYC -- sitting in a bar or two, walking from place to place, being in parks, eating some casual food, having great conversation with a longtime friend, just doing ordinary things in a city filled, like every city, with ordinary people.

I caught an express train to Tarrytown. I hired an Uber ride back to the Langford's. Josh had been to the beer store and purchased a peerless variety of beers. I drank my last Kolsch from Salem and drank very short pours of a stunning coconut, cinnamon, coffee stout, a saison, and a tripel. I was wise in keeping my pours small. I slept well afterward, was not revisited by remnants of beer in my system through the night, and felt good when I woke up. 

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/2021: A New NYC Plan, Fixing Dinner with What's on Hand, Gibbs Sees a Deer

 1. I had planned to go into NYC on Tuesday to see Scott and Cate but had to cancel. It turns out the cancellation was a postponement. I contacted Scott today and worked out a schedule to meet up with him at O'Hara's Irish Pub and then see what might be next. Cate will be working, so I'll have to see her another time. It will be after their baby is born. But I am very happy that I get to hang out with Scott, be in NYC, and enjoy the much cooler weather that has settled in as the week comes to a close.

2. Debbie asked me to cook dinner. At first, thought it would be Thai curry, similar to what I fix in Kellogg. It turned out we didn't have all the ingredients on hand and so, looking to save myself a trip to the store, I did an online search for a recipe that includes coconut milk, chicken, and rice and found one called One Pan Coconut Chicken Curry and Rice. I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe -- no hot peppers, brown rice instead of white, a little more liquid -- and it turned out great and every one enjoyed it.  

3.  I took Gibbs for a short walk on a neighborhood loop I learned from Debbie and the highlight was seeing a stately deer across the street who took a couple of pauses to stare at us, much on some more grass and leaves, and then amble on down the block and eat some more food elsewhere. To my surprise and pleasure, Gibbs didn't bark at the deer and so the moment was peaceful for all of us. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/2021: Nap Drive with Ellie, Gwen Drops By, Beer and Getting Ideas on the Table

1.  The workers are making solid progress on putting the siding up on Josh and Adrienne's house, but in order to sleep during her nap time, Ellie has to be taken for a ride in the car.

I volunteered to be today's driver. Debbie secured Ellie in her car seat after I cooled the interior down by jumping in the car earlier and running the a/c. I drove Ellie down Rt 303 -- yesterdays rivers and ponds and lakes had completely receded. Just before entering New Jersey, we exited Rt 303 and merged onto the leafy beauty of the Palisades Parkway and I drove to its terminus, followed the signs in the roundabout that pointed me south again, and eventually arrived back in Valley Cottage.

Ellie slept soundlessly the whole time. 

2. I arrived back at the Langford home at almost the same time Debbie's stepsister Gwen arrived. Gwen had been in Massachusetts and dropped by to say hello. She had her big, curly dog, Ryder, in tow. Ryder is about ten times bigger than Gibbs, but no problem. Gibbs pranced around him, leapt up on Ryder, and insisted that they play. Ryder was unfazed and even humored Gibbs a bit, but not with nearly the energy that Gibbs put out. 

It was all good.

So was Gwen's visit. Gwen had been on another trip out east back in September of 2016 and visited Debbie and me. I hadn't seen Gwen since we dined at Old Line Bistro in Beltsville and at the Greek Village in Colesville. In the meantime, Gwen's mother, Debbie's stepmother, Phillis, passed away just over a year ago. It was fun today recalling stories about Phillis and talking about other news in Gwen's family. 

I hope we'll see each other again -- and maybe not have five years pass.

3. Debbie and I are slowly and without conclusions just yet talking about what the next several months might look like. We like to discuss these matters over beer. It's almost automatic, when we are in this neck of the woods, to grab a table at Growler and Gill,  try out some beers, and commence some serious discussion. We did just that late this afternoon. I drank small pours of Kolsch and cucumber cream ale (I wish I had jotted down the names of the beers and the brewers). I also finished a couple of small pours of IPAs that Debbie wasn't crazy about, but that were fine with me(!). I ordered one full pour to end my session -- it was brewed in Queens at SingleCut Brewing, the same place that brewed one of my favorite beers, Softly Spoken Magic Spells. Spells wasn't on tap at Growler and Gill, but SingleCut's Double Dry Hopped 2IPA called Green Plastic Watering Can was and I slowly sipped my way through this smooth and potent hops explosion. 

Debbie wasn't 100 percent pleased with any of the beers she drank at Growler and Gill. I was about 93.5% pleased (!). But, Debbie's beer night was soon redeemed. She reached into the cooler and bought a pint can of Tin Barn's Back 40, cracked it open back in our room, and she loved it. As a bonus, Josh visited us while we were winding down and he poured me a small glass of a tasty saison from District 96 and poured Debbie an IPA or two of theirs which she also loved. 

It was good to see Debbie's beer fortunes change for the better. Even better was the fact that we had a great time together, talking, trying out some beers, and happily arriving at no hard and fast decisions or plans for what might happen on down the line. We do, however, have plenty on the table and that's just the way we like it! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/2021: Virtual School for Jack, Dodging Flood Waters, Pizza and Kolsch

 1. Because I live on the opposite side of the USA from our grandchildren, I don't have many opportunities to be Grandpa (or, as I am known in the Langford home, Bop). Today, though, Jack's had to do go to virtual school because the school he attends was closed because of the heat. I didn't actually have to, but out of curiosity, I sat at the dining table for a while and listened to Jack's teacher chat informally with her students on Zoom before school actually started and then listened for about ten minutes or so as she launched into the morning's social studies lesson.

I was favorably impressed with Jack's teacher's rapport with her fourth graders and with the way the children talked openly with her. My practice as a teacher was to try to persuade the students that I was on their side, that we were not engaged in teacher vs. student conflict, and it sounded to me like Mrs. Parnther was on her students' side and loved working with them.

The social studies unit focused on child labor in the USA. MB and I used to put some focus on this subject back when we taught American Working Class Literature together so I have some familiarity with it. I thought Mrs. Parnther covered it very well and I wondered if Jack and the other children could imagine what it would be like if, as children, they were working to help support their families. I didn't see the pictures Mrs. Parnther showed them of malnourished, underdressed children working, but I looked up some photographs on my own and, felt, as I have before, outrage at the cruelty of children being laborers. 

Later, Debbie took Ellie on another nap drive -- it's too noisy for her to nap with the workers putting new siding on the house -- and I kept an eye on Jack, from a distance, and was happy to see him staying on task with his school session before the lunch break.

2. Around 3:00, I drove to The Salvation Army Eastern Territorial Headquarters to give Adrienne a ride home from her job. In the car, Adrienne told me that Jack's dad, Nathan, wouldn't be able to pick up Jack to go to the rock climbing facility in New Jersey for Jack's weekly climbing session, but would meet Jack at High Exposure Rock Climbing in Northvale. 

I volunteered to drive Jack to the facility. 

By this time, a heavy rainstorm had moved into the area. 

I didn't think much of it and Jack and I headed south on Rt 303 around 4:30.

We weren't quite to New Jersey yet when we came to an intersection blocked off by the police because a river of water was running over Rt. 303. I followed other cars to the west and then the south and back east and we circumvented this flooded area and returned to Rt. 303. 

But, the hard rain was causing water to pool up all around us on the streets. We came to another blocked off place and on the second try, I managed to circumvent this and, with the help of google's gps, I got on the correct route to the rock climbing facility.

I had already decided that I was not going to drive the Nissan Versa I had rented through any of the standing water in the street. I was able to bypass one pond by cutting through a parking lot, but while driving toward our destination, another lake on the road was filling up in front of us and I said to Jack, "I'm not driving through that!"

Let's just say that at this moment I had just become the world's least popular grandpa.

Jack said he could just walk to the facility -- I thought to myself, you must mean swim.

As Jack's agitation grew, I called Adrienne (no answer) and then called Debbie (who answered), hoping one of them could reach Nathan (I didn't have his number). While I worked on this, Jack saw Nathan drive past us and go through the lake I wouldn't drive through. 

Debbie texted me Nathan's number. I reached him, told him where we were, and he backtracked, found us, and Jack leaped out of the Versa and joined Nathan. 

(They went to the rock climbing facility and discovered it had been closed because of the local flooding.)

I cut back through the parking lot I'd used earlier to bypass one pond and made my way back to Rt. 303 only to face the blocked off flooded area again.

I turned left on a street and about three blocks down faced the largest collection of water on the street I'd seen yet. I made a U-turn, was going to make a turn to the north and drive parallel to Rt. 303, but the street was a one-way going south. I turned around again, hoping to find another route and I saw a car disregard the one-way street prohibition and turn north on that street so I turned around again and I, too, went the wrong way on this street.


That was the ticket. I navigated my way back to Rt 303 and knew that another blocked area was to the north, but, before I reached the spot on 303 where the river ran through it, I saw the exit off of Rt 303 to get onto the Palisades Parkway -- where I had driven yesterday on our nap drive with Ellie.


I exited Rt 303, got on the Palisades Parkway, and from that point forward it was an easy and uneventful drive back to the Langford house in Valley Cottage. 

I uttered a brief prayer of gratitude that, thanks to Ellie needing to get out of the house to nap, I had a bit of knowledge about travel routes I wouldn't have had otherwise, and, as they say, it saved my bacon!

3. I had sent Debbie a melodrama free text flatly stating that I wasn't sure how I was going to make it back to the house. She called me, while I was inching my way up Rt 303. At this moment, I was fairly confident I'd figure something out -- and I did -- so Debbie asked if, on my way home, I could stop at Jose's Liquor Store and purchase a bottle of Maker's Mark. 

No problem.

Because of the route I took to return to Valley Cottage, I didn't go right by the liquor store, but I did go right by the Langford house. I stopped in front of the house, called Debbie, and told her how I had succeeded to navigate the rental ark back to the house, despite the local flooding here and there.

Well, it turns out that Dee Maria's Pizza and Pasta is just two doors down from Jose's Liquor Store -- sandwiched between them is the home of the tongue taco, Cielito Lindo -- and when I phoned Debbie from in front of the house, we decided that she would phone in an order for a pizza and I would bring it back.

I returned with the pizza and cracked open one of the pints of Kolsch I brought back from Notch Brewing.  The beer was perfect -- light, slightly sweet, refreshing, and easy to drink. It was, for me, the perfect ale to drink with pizza because I like sweet drinks, like soda, with pizza and this beer was just right. 

The pizza, too, was just right. Yes, I admit, I like pizza crust on the crunchier, crispy side, but it's not mandatory for my enjoyment. Debbie ordered a half sausage and half pepperoni pizza and I loved it. I served myself a second pint of Kolsch, enjoyed my pizza slices, and felt very relaxed. It was as if the demands of navigating my way from the top of New Jersey back to Valley Cottage had never happened. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/2021: On the Road with Ellie, Plans Change, Mexican Dinner

1. The workers who replaced Josh and Adrienne's roof a while back, started work this morning on replacing the house's siding.  Their work was loud, making it highly unlikely that Ellie could sleep during her late morning nap time. Therefore, Debbie, Ellie, and I piled into Adrienne's vehicle and eventually jumped on the Palisades Parkway and headed north to its end and then reversed field and drove back south on the Parkway and made our way home.

It was an easy drive. Traffic was moderate and considerate. 

More important, Ellie slept the entire time until we were a short distance from Josh and Adrienne's house. 

Moreover, resting in Debbie's lap, Gibbs slept much of the way, too.

For the two of us awake in the car, we enjoyed the handsome scenery and talked about how the rest of this week might play out.

2. With the remodeling project underway and how it affects Ellie, it became clear that it would help Debbie a lot if I didn't make the trip I'd planned for Tuesday to meet up with Scott and Cate in NYC.   In addition, a stifling heat wave is also underway and the administrators at Jack's school decided that instruction would be delivered virtually on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning Jack will be home both days. Grandpa duty calls and I'll help Debbie look after Jack and Ellie and we'll hope the noise isn't as loud today. The project foreman told Adrienne that he thought the rest of the project would be quieter now that most of the old siding is off. We'll see. . . . 

3. Josh brought us all a variety of Mexican entrees for dinner tonight from a local spot, Cielito Lindo Mexican Deli.  It was delicious and I was happy to accept the invitation to try, along with the quesadilla and enchiladas and other food, a tongue taco and pork stomach taco. I'd eat them both again. I loved this meal and would eat regularly at Cielito Lindo Mexican Deli if I lived in Valley Cottage. 

By the way, this makes two terrific take out meals in a row that Josh has brought home. I thoroughly enjoyed Friday's food from Grub, too. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/2021: Eloise's Baptism, Family Party and Imagining Being with Ted, Five Deer Enjoy Dinner

 1. Debbie and I hopped into the rental car and dashed over to Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack, NY to join the rest of the family for the baptism of Eloise. The service took place in the courtyard adjacent to the church's building and we all moved chairs into the shade of a generous tree. Even though the baptism took place at 9:30, the morning was already hot and it was a relief to be out of the sun. 

I hadn't worshiped in person for well over a year. Entering back into the rhythms and the language of the Episcopalian liturgy was deeply satisfying and I loved being a part of the family's and the congregation's collective vow that we would do all we could to help Ellie make her way in the world, to instruct, protect, and love her. 

2. After the baptism, we all returned to Josh and Adrienne's house for a party featuring a light and delicious strawberry shortcake cake, blueberries, strawberries, macaroons, a plate of delicious assorted candies, and other treats. We'd had bagels from Nyack Hot Bagels before the baptism and I was especially happy that there were plenty left over and so I ate a couple of those. It was especially fun to see Sally. I hadn't seen her since Josh and Adrienne's wedding. Being with Sally again made me happy in the moment and also brought up a lot of memories of times we spent with Sally and her late husband, Ted, back when Debbie and I lived in the east. I missed Ted today. When I was by myself I imagined conversations we might have had during this party about golf and basketball and other things and thought a lot about what a kind and fun friend he was.

3. Debbie and Sally teamed up and made a pasta salad and a three bean salad and Debbie marinated chicken tenders in the refrigerator. Josh grilled the chicken for dinner and the salads were terrific, reminding me of how much more variety in food Debbie and I enjoy together when we are living under the same roof. 

After dinner, as the sun began to set, four adult deer and a fawn visited the trees and grassy area between Josh and Adrienne's lot and the next door neighbor's. I stood on the lower deck for over a half an hour just watching the deer calmly munch on grass, leaves, and other vegetation. Their calmness calmed me. Eventually, they made their way up to the street, crossed it, and, I suppose, moved on to other suburban pastures.