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Updated: 2017-11-18T13:16:05.904-08:00


Three Beautiful Things 11/17/17: Temporarily Out of the House, Moving Day, Basement Social Hour(s)


1. It turned out that the discovery of the wood floors complicated things in our lives a bit: while Shawn varnishes the wood floors in the living room and kitchen, we can't be in our house. I assumed Carol and Paul didn't have room for us nor did I think Christy and Everett would. But, then, Carol reached me and explained how it could work for the Deke and me and the corgis to stay at their house. We accepted her offer and, Saturday morning, we will be moving in with the Roberts family until Tuesday.

2. The couches and cabinets that came out of our house need to be transported to Paul and Carol's house.  Monday is a varnishing day, but there is also a shipment of materials coming to the house and we need the garage cleared as much as possible. Since a couple of Shawn's guys won't be working on the interior of the house, we hired them to use Everett's truck and move these things for us. This seems like a small thing, but, like many small things in life, it's awesome.

3. Our basement is a little chilly, but late this afternoon and on into the early evening, it became a social gathering spot. When Shawn wrapped up his work, he broke out a bottle of Well's Banana Bread Ale, brewed in England, and the Deke, Shawn, and I split it. Drinking this beer awakened in me a forty-two year old love of how beers are brewed in England and, I suddenly realized that I thought this beer would pair really well with the rye whiskey I bought over the weekend at Stein Distillery in Joseph. So, I broke out the whiskey, we all had a nip or two, and I was right. Christy came over later and she and the Deke and I yakked in the basement, enjoyed another couple slugs of rye.

When Christy left, the Deke and I were kind of lost. Our kitchen and living room are empty. We can't cook anything. We could eat a few crackers! Luckily, we weren't feeling hungry. We each had a bowl of awesome bacon mushroom soup at Radio Brewing early in the afternoon and spit an order of parmesan-garlic fries. So, we went to bed and to sleep kind of early. I liked that.

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/17: Demolition Day, Underneath the Layers of Glue, Out on the Town


1.  Not only did demolition in our house begin today, but Shawn and the three guys who work for him removed all the cabinets and appliances out of our kitchen and built the frame around and the beam above the new much wider opening between our living room and kitchen. It really opens things up in our little house.

2. Not only did they get the opening well on its way, but once the guys removed the linoleum  off the kitchen floor and once they scraped the years and years of glue underneath the flooring, they discovered that what we had hoped was true was indeed the case: our kitchen has a hardwood floor. It's going to be a big job to get all that black glue gunk off the floor, but Blaine made progress today and the Deke and I are very happy that there will be effortless continuity between our living room floor and the kitchen.

We've also decided to have less done in our kitchen by having it be L-shaped rather than U-shaped. We want to have as much unfilled space in the house as possible and by not putting any counters against the south wall of the kitchen, we will have opened things up in the house even more.

3.  The Deke and I debriefed for about forty-five minutes at the Hill Street Depot and then Christy and Everett joined us for some dinner. We yakked and yakked about a bunch of stuff and then headed over to Best Shots for a nightcap. After dinner and drinks, Christy and Everett came over to the house to look at all that Shawn and his boys accomplished today and shared our happiness with how things are going after one day.

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/17: Measurements, Yakkin' with Darrell, Demolition Prep


1. Shawn came over this morning to do some detailed measuring of our kitchen and living room and we talked more about the upcoming project. The Deke fixed us a hearty potato and egg breakfast. Thursday begins the demolition.

2. After some project shopping, the Deke and I decided to talk things over at Daft Badger. Darrell Dlouhy, a co-founder and the obligated one at Daft Badger, was in the house and joined the Deke and me for a lively conversation about construction, cooking, beer, and host of other topics. Darrell and I go back forty-five years to our days as students at NIC and, as we sat there today, I couldn't help but think of all the experiences we had singing in the NIC choir, all the intersections that have taken place over the years between our lives, the great changes both of us have experienced since 1972, and all the mutual friends and acquaintances we've had and, in some cases, still have.  My two short pours of Scotchy Scotch Scotch Scotch Ale enhanced our time with Darrell. Its malty sweetness and scotch whiskey notes were in harmony with our table talk and were perfectly warming on what turned out to be a blustery and chilly November day. The Deke loved her beer, too:  Daft Badger's Blood Orange IPA.

3. Back home, the Deke and I enjoyed some delicious leftovers and moved most of  our kitchen to the basement and our living room into the front bedroom in preparation for Thursday's sledge hammers and crowbars.

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/17: Organizing, Afternoon Dinner, Sweet Heat Snack


1. I've kept all the documents related to Mom's estate in a plastic basket of Mom's. I spent a couple of hours organizing that basket today. Instead of loose papers piled in the basket, now almost everything is filed in a folder. I will return to the basket on Wednesday and dig down under the file folders to retrieve a few more loose papers and file those.

2. Early this afternoon, the Deke and I decided to have dinner early in the afternoon. The Deke requested black beans and rice. I dug a familiar recipe from Pinterest and got out our Dutch oven and cooked up the beans. I used a little too much vinegar -- I had to sub apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar and red wine the recipe called for -- but I liked the stronger vinegar taste and I always like the way the acid in this dish is balanced by the brown sugar and it's all made especially delicious by my generous splashes of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce.

Eating this meal transported me back to evenings in our apartment home in Greenbelt. This dish really smells good and one of the nice things about living in a small house, much like when we lived in a small apartment, is the way the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, brown sugar, vinegar, and pepper sauce blanket us with aromatic pleasures.

3.  I watched a few episodes of Chopped: After Hours this evening and suddenly wondered if I might combine sweet with heat and make the Deke and me a tasty snack. So, I got out a bunch of sesame rice crackers, put some cream cheese on each one, then topped each cracker with Mom's rhubarb strawberry jam from 2014 and a touch of Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste. The chefs on Chopped are always working to combine contrasting sensations and textures. I thought the crunchy cracker contrasted nicely with the cream cheese and that the jam and the chili paste also contrasted nicely with each other.  It worked. Each bite was crisp, creamy, sweet, and hot, giving the Deke and me pleasure and a bit of a surprise. The hotness of the chili paste snuck up on us so that what seemed like a sweet treat finished with some heat.

Three Beautiful Things 11/13/17: Busy in CdA, Hannah at the Courthouse, Rip and Tear Soon


1. I drove to CdA this morning for more money talk. We got some things decided and I left with a better understanding of several different things.  On the way to CdA, my Check Engine light flashed on and I decided to have the codes read right away following my money appointment. After a quick search online while sitting in a parking lot, I went out to Reliable Auto and Truck in Hayden because I'm always looking for an independent repair shop and this one specializes in Subes.

The man working the front of the shop read and cleared the codes and the results were familiar to me and we talked about the tune up I'd had done just before leaving Greenbelt. He got under the hood and checked things out and he was impressed with the work Jens did in Greenbelt.  We decided to see if the light comes on again. If it does, I'll return. I've often wondered if I have a quirk in the Sube that turns on the Check Engine light kind of randomly and he wondered the same.  I've read of other people having this happen. So we'll see. He didn't charge me for reading and clearing the codes or digging around in my engine and I enjoyed our conversation a lot. I'll keep having my oil changed in Kellogg, but for stuff Silver Valley Tires can't do, I'll return to Reliable Auto and Truck.

2. I called the Shoshone County Motor Vehicle Department around 1:00 to make sure I had everything I needed to register the Sube in Idaho.  The sparkling and friendly voice over the phone informed me that she could do my VIN inspection on the spot. (I thought I'd have to go to the police station.)  This was great news. I could have everything taken care of in one stop at the courthouse. So, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and it turned out that that sparkling and friendly voice belonged to Hannah Etherton and that for the umphteenth time in my life I was having a most positive interaction with a member of the Etherton family. Everything was in order with the title and the VIN and, in a short amount of time, I was the proud owner of Idaho license plates with an Idaho title forthcoming.  (Did you read that Rich? I'll make sure I have your address so I can send you MD plates to add to your collection!)

3. The day got busier. The Deke and I accepted an invitation to see the contractor we are working with in his home so we could see the impressive work he's done on his house, talk more about our remodel, and agree to the terms of a contract. Ripping and tearing starts Thursday and we are the only job he and his crew will be working on, so things should move at a pretty good pace over the course of the next few weeks.

After we were at Shawn's, the Deke and I had some debriefing to do, so, after we dropped in to say hello to Christy at the library, we strolled around the corner and grabbed a stool at the thinking table at Radio Brewing for a couple short pours and some serious discussion, and we got in some good yakkin' with Paige.

We'd had a light lunch at the Broken Wheel and the guy who works there warmed up to us after a while.  It was fun drawing him out a bit. We returned home to the very delicious soup the Deke made from the remains of last night's chicken dinner, augmented with cheese tortellinis. It was warming, relaxing, and deeply satisfying. After a day of getting so much done, I hit the hay early.

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/17: Heading Home, Back Home, Family Dinner


1. After a solid breakfast at the buffet, Mike, Terry, Ed, Jake, and I settled up our hotel bills and all hit the road, bringing a fun time together to an end. Ed and I piled into Jake's rig and we were off to Idaho with quick stop at Country Mercantile to gawk at the candy, try some samples, and buy some to bring home. I bought the Deke and me a few peanut clusters.

2. Back home in Kellogg, everything was in good order. The Deke had left to knit with the Sunday group at Radio Brewing and I got a few chores around the house done in preparation for Sunday Family Dinner.

3. The Deke cooked up chicken thighs in a delicious sauce and served rice, polenta, and a chopped salad to go along with it. Our conversation around the table was lively and fun. Among other things, we divided responsibilities for Thanksgiving dinner, so now we all know our assignments as to what to bring to Carol and Paul's to enhance our meal. We have an excellent dinner planned, a fine combination of traditional dishes and some new and different offerings.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/17: Breakfast Buffet, Distillery and Brewery Run, Steak Dinner


1. Mike, Ed, Terry, and I got off to a solid start this morning at the breakfast buffet with a full breakfast and some good yakking and laughing about all we had done the night before.

2. Terry and I jumped into his pickup and headed into the Willowa mountain country for a gorgeous drive to Joseph and Enterprise.  We had miles and miles of top notch conversation about all kinds of things, political and familial, including the situations we each faced with our now deceased mothers as they grew older and what is happening with Terry's over ninety year old mother-in-law.

At Joseph, we visited the Stein Distillery, a maker of fine whiskey, vodka, and cordials. I don't know the woman's name who hosted us and served us half ounce samples, but she was delightful and knowledgeable and generous. Terry and I loved Stein's moonshine, bourbon, rye whiskey, and vodka and I learned more about each. Both of us bought a bottle of 5 year aged rye whiskey and left warmed by both the spirits we consumed and the warmth of our host.

Next stop? Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub in Enterprise. The pub is in a handsome older house, slightly similar to the High Street Pub in Eugene. I was a little bit fired up to see they had a strong ale and enjoyed my 9 oz pour a lot. I ordered chicken skewers and a cup of clam chowder, a perfect light lunch, and finished with a 9 oz pour of light and delicious golden ale, covering both ends of the beer strength spectrum.

3. Back at the casino, Ed, Mike, Terry, Jake, and I met at the Wildhorse's Plateau Steakhouse. I enjoyed a superb whiskey and ginger ale cocktail before diving into a juicy pepper-crusted Pendleton Whiskey Steak with rice pilaf and baby carrots. We had a great time yakkin about all kinds of stuff and our meal was deeply satisfying.

This great meal finished my night. I watched a little college football on television and, before long, fell into a relaxed and deep sleep.

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/17: Off to Pendleton, Since 2001, Solid Yakkin'


1. I popped out of bed around five a.m. to pack my bag and prepare for a weekend trip to Pendleton, OR. I'd had a blissful night's sleep thanks to the comfort of our brand new firm queen bed and the fresh sheets and blankets the Deke made it with. I strolled down Cameron Avenue to Sam's and enjoyed a cup of coffee with Ed, Jerry, Buff, Scott, and Aaron and soon Ed and I piled into his pickup, swung by our house to pick up my bags, and we headed to his house in Kingston where Jake picked us up and we began our drive to Pendleton.

2. Back in November of 2001, right after Thanksgiving, a bunch of us guys from the Kellogg High School Class of 1972 traveled to Portland for a weekend together of just plain playing. In 2005, we gave it a try in Lincoln City, OR and for a couple or three years we got together in Coeur d'Alene. For the last five years or so, we've congregated at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton and today Jake, Ed, Terry, Mike, and I all arrived soon after noon and our weekend got underway. We started at the lobby bar and enjoyed a couple of beers, fanned out, and each did our thing.

3. Around 3:30 or so, Mike, Ed, and I got together in Ed's room for a drink and some serious yakkin' and, after I went to my room and watched some basketball, I joined Jake and Terry back at the bar to watch the Zags play. It turned out I didn't pay much attention to the game because we got into more serious yakkin' with a couple of truck drivers, one seated down by Jake and another seated by me. The guy next to me was in his mid-thirties, lived in rural Eastern Oregon, and was waiting for his dad to come to the Wild Horse.  He and Jake and I yakked about the world today, the Sunshine Mine Fire, all the jobs this guy has done over the years, and, before long, Jake returned to the card table and Josh's dad showed up and I met him, yakked a bit, and decided it was time to go to bed.

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/17: Money, Passed the Test, Smoked Meat


1.  I've had some financial questions nagging at me over the last week and so I made an appointment to see a financial advisor at the bank.  The Deke and I had a great conversation with the advisor we met with and I have a follow up appointment scheduled for Monday and I am feeling much more relaxed about things.

2. I passed the test. I now have an Idaho driver's license. Ditto the Deke. I couldn't register the Sube  today, but I'll do it next week. We are chipping away. We are getting things done.

3. After the meeting at the bank and the grueling test to secure our licenses at the Sheriff's Office, the Deke and I relaxed over a beer and a sandwich at The Hill Street Depot. We got in some good yakkin' with Liz, our server, and I really enjoyed my Hawaiian smoked pulled pork sandwich primarily because I love the Depot's smoked meats.

One more great thing happened today. The Furniture Exchange delivered our new queen bed and frame to our house and set it up. The Deke and I agreed that the firmness of this bed and the comfort of the bedding we purchased made our bed a source of comfort.

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/17: Business, Imagining the Kitchen, Food for the Freezer


1. I spent more hours today taking care of business related to our house: moved Mom's single bed upstairs after removing the headboard -- no now space is cleared for our queen bed to arrive on Thursday; more insurance business; bills paid; I learned about the Idaho homeowner's tax exemption. I imagine a time will come in 2018 when we are settled in and have all these things taken care of.  For now, keep a quiet mind and chip away, slow and steady.

2. The Deke and I went to Cd'A and looked mainly at counters, cabinets, flooring, and doors. We didn't make any decisions, but we have a little better idea of what's available. We split a Thai beef sandwich and each ate a cup of beer cheese soup and drank a couple of small pours at Daft Badger and sketched out different kitchen configurations.

3. The Deke went to a knitting get together at Knit Knit in downtown CdA and I went to Costco to shop for frozen foods that we can warm up at Christy and Everett's (and Carol and Paul's?) during the remodel when our kitchen will be out of commission.  The Celtics and Lakers were playing on a television at Costco and when I stopped to watch the game, a sales rep from Direct TV approached me. I told him we don't have a television and that I haven't subscribed to a television service for over thirty years.

He told me that was cool.

Then we talked for a while about basketball -- namely, the NBA, and, even though my NBA IQ is much reduced these days, I enjoyed our exchange a lot. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/17: House Business, Lost and Found, Meatloaf Dinner


1.  I keep chipping away at getting business done related to Mom's estate. I made a very important visit today to the attorney's office and signed a document transferring Mom's house into mine and the Deke's names. The document has to be processed by the county, but essentially it means that we are home owners again. Completing the settlement with my sisters is in the works. Things are getting done.  We aren't there yet, but slowly, surely we are getting there.

2. I returned home from the attorney's office and from recycling some cardboard and aluminum cans. I opened the mail and detected an error in a bill we received. I wanted to call the company immediately, but I couldn't find my phone. I knew I'd had my phone when I went uptown. Suddenly, a lightning bolt hit me. I jumped back in the Sube and drove to the cardboard recycling dumpster. The lid of the dumpster is high overhead. I wondered if when I reached up to throw in the cardboard, if -- well, sure enough, I drove up to the dumpster and there was my phone, lying on the ground, right by the dumpster, cold, lonely, and eager to show me I had notifications.

I sighed in gratitude that I hadn't run over it earlier and that this recycling station is not very busy so no one else found my phone before I returned. I will also make sure, in the future, that if I do anything that requires me to throw things higher than my head, that my phone is in a secure pocket -- or just leave it in the Sube.

3. The Deke had thawed the uncooked meatloaf we had left over from nearly two weeks ago and she added more egg and saltine crackers to it so it held together better. In a single Pyrex pan she cooked the meatloaf and roasted baby potatoes and squash chunks. The result was a very delicious and deeply warming dinner with the added bonus that we have some meatloaf left over for sandwiches on Wednesday.

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/17: Morning Walk, Numbers, Perfect Turkey Soup


1. The snow falling deterred the Deke and me from going out and doing a lot today, but we did take a walk down to Stein's.  I took a signed form to the insurance office next door to Stein's confirming the cancellation of Mom's auto insurance policy. We walked to the just to pick up some milk and the Deke very pleasantly surprised me when she purchased a couple of turkey legs. This could only mean one thing: turkey soup. But when?

2. The Deke went right to work simmering the turkey bone with onion and soon the mouth watering fragrance of turkey filled the house. In the middle of the afternoon, Shawn, the contractor, called.  He had a rough estimate ready to show us for remodeling the kitchen and doing other work. He dropped by a little later. We went over the numbers. No big surprises except we can get this project started sooner than we originally thought. The Deke and I have some talking to do. We have some figuring out to do. We should know more by the end of the week.

3. The turkey broth continued to simmer. Shawn left and suddenly the Deke decided tonight would be turkey soup night. She had to hustle to get the soup ready because she has her Beer Ed class at Radio Brewing on Monday nights. Suddenly, the Deke was not only chopping celery, but also a squash and she was boiling penne pasta. She dumped the meat back into the broth along with the celery and squash cubes and the boiled pasta and it all cooked for about twenty minutes in our new Dutch oven with the lid on.

The soup tasted even better than it smelled. I loved how the squash lightly sweetened the broth, making the soup both savory and oh so slightly sugary. Carrots might have performed similarly, but the squash gave the soup an even more delicious sweetness and I loved the squash's starchy and soft texture.

The best part of having the weather cool off is that the meals get warmer. Last night pot roast. Tonight turkey soup. Right now a meatloaf that's been in the freezer is thawed and ready for the oven. It will warm our Tuesday evening table.

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/17: Wireless Sound, Matinee Show, Perfect Family Dinner


1.  The Deke and I are ready to experience the sound of streaming music into our home. This morning I read CNET reviews of different possibilities, focusing on Amazon's Echo products, different wireless speakers, and combining the two. I'm still contemplating -- everything sounds kind of fun. We'll see.

2. The Deke and I piled into the Sube around 1:30 for a drive to Wallace. We watched -- and sang along with -- Carol and Paul and the rest of their band at the Sixth Street Melodrama. They put on a musical production, Goin' for the Gold, Settlin' for the Silver.  It was a program of work, love, and Christian songs, with narrative material woven in as a tribute to the history of the Silver Valley. The work songs were particularly powerful for me and brought back great memories of teaching U. S. Working Class Literature with Margaret and, in particular, of the great songs in the movie, Harlan County, USA -- especially Merle Travis' masterpiece, "Dark as a Dungeon".  Team teaching that class with Margaret was a superb experience in my life as an instructor and I loved the class sessions when we focused on songs about work and labor and union organizing. It was uplifting to have those memories rush back to me during the program.

3. Our fun afternoon at the matinee performance just got more fun as the day darkened. A group of knitters meets at Radio Brewing on Sunday afternoons and the Deke joined in when we returned to Kellogg. She loved meeting new people, knitting with them, and getting in some serious yarn talk. I took a spot at the thinking table -- or the bar -- and enjoyed talking with the tasting room manager Meredith and, when she had customers to serve, reading recipes online.

After Radio Brewing, we went next door to Christy and Everett's for family dinner. Carol, Paul, Christy, Everett, the Deke, and I are trying to have dinner together on Sundays and, so far, as long as we are all in town, we are succeeding.

Christy made a delicious pitcher of pear and apple fall sangria for our cocktail half hour and for dinner we had a most delicious pot roast with potatoes and carrots, complemented by cornbread and a fresh apple salad. I asked Christy if the meat was a chuck roast because I was staggered by how moist and flavorful it was.

Now, I know the pot roast was so good because Christy worked her magic with the crock pot and with just the right seasonings, but I was staggered because the chuck roast brought back memories of some chuck roasts we had when we were kids that were kind of stringy and dry and required a lot of ketchup. I never minded the dry stringy chuck roast. Ha! I liked it.

Tonight's pot roast/chuck roast, however, was a revelation of just how good that cut of meat can be when slow cooked and seasoned right. The potatoes and carrots were also moist and perfectly prepared and absorbed some of the taste of the beef as they stewed in the broth created by the roast as it cooked.  What a perfect fall dinner to warm us up, especially as we experienced our first snowfall over the weekend, starting on Friday.

Christy made delicious bar cookies for dessert. They brought our meal and our lively conversations to a tasty conclusion.

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/17: History Day, Zags Triumph, Inland Lounge Nightcap


1.  Spontaneously, today I got caught up in the life and tyranny of Joseph Stalin. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, Stephen Kotkin's second of a three volume biography of Stalin is available and Keith Gessen of Columbia University reviewed it in the latest issue of The New Yorker. I took courses in both the History of Russia and Modern European History back at Whitworth, but that's been over forty years ago and so, as I read Gessen's review, I traveled the World Wide Web a bit, reading up on, among other things, Lenin, the periods of terror in 20th century Russia, the collectivist programs Stalin enforced, and the German invasion of Russia in 1941. I wish I could say that all this reading today was merely interesting or that it was fascinating, but most of it was horrifying. I'll leave it at that.

I don't know if this link works for non-subscribers to The New Yorker, but if you'd like to see if Gessen's review comes up for you, it is here.

2.  It wasn't much of a game. Zags 96, College of Idaho 67. It didn't count on either team's record nor will it factor into each team's statistics. It was an exhibition game. All the same, it was fun going next door to Christy and Everett's to watch much of the game and to begin to get a little bit familiar with the players on this year's Gonzaga squad.  Watching the Zags got me a little fired up in anticipation of their participation in the PK80 Tournament in Portland over Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a power packed tournament. If you haven't looked into it, and want to go here.

3. I watched the game while the Deke was at a French speakers' meet-up and supper here in Kellogg. When she finished, she picked me up and we went up to the Inland Lounge for a nightcap and, lo and behold, Allan, Peggy, Nancy, and Ed were at the table in front of the fireplace and we joined them for some cocktails and a whole lot of yakkin'. It was a really fun surprise to meet up with them.

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/17: Breakfast Club, Lively Time at Wallace Brewing, More Fun at the Lounge


1. I sprang out of bed around 5 a.m. and about an hour later I bounded down Cameron Avenue to Sam's and enjoyed breakfast with Ed, Buff, Jerry, and Scott and listened to a bunch of stories about rollers and cutting asphalt and the cost of pickup trucks. It was a good time and I've got to keep rolling myself out of bed every Friday morning to join these guys for six o'clock breakfast.

2. Later in the morning, I took care of some business at the bank.  The snow started to fall in the afternoon, but, undeterred, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and drove along the river and through the valley to Wallace Brewing. Shawn, the contractor who visited us Thursday, had invited us to join him and his wife and Patti Hei and Rod Plank and others to listen to one of the owners of the brewery, Chase, do a Facebook Live interview with Astrid. I didn't  really listen to the interview. I had a great time yakkin' -- I especially enjoyed talking with Patti. We are fellow Class of '72 grads from Kellogg, so we go way back and I learned a lot about what she's been up to, what she's experienced over the years, and how she's doing now. I also enjoyed a great conversation with Chase who told me all about opening the brewery back in 2008, some of his beer travels around the country, and about their once a year oak-aged strong ale called Vito. It was a lively, sometimes exuberant afternoon enjoyed over great beers with really good people.

3. Earlier, the Deke and I had decided we'd stop in and say hello to Cas at the Inland Lounge when we returned to Kellogg. Patti and Rod decided to drop in for a while, too, so the four of us sat in front of the Inland Lounge fireplace and continued yakkin' and all got to know each other even better.  The Deke was especially happy with the Manhattans Cas mixed for her. I got in some solid baseball yakkin' with Cas. My deal was to recall Pittsburgh Pirate players from the deep past and remark that it was too bad the Dodgers didn't have past Pirates Vernon (The Deacon) Law or Al McBean or Manny Mota or Smokey Burgess or Don Clendenon on their 2017 squad or they might have gotten over the hump and defeated the Astros in the World Series. (I forgot to mention Bob Veale.) As a bonus, as we were about to leave the Lounge, in strolled Ashley and Fred, the owners of Radio Brewing, and we had fun jawin' with them for a little while before we headed home with a stop at Christy and Everett's to talk with them after their very eventful day.  Among other things, Riley got neutered.

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/17: Eye Check Up, Finances, Remodeling Ideas and the Thinking Table


1. I started the day with a solid check up at the Kellogg Vision Center. On Wednesday, there had been a screw up regarding my insurance -- the provider made an error over the telephone -- and I had a good laugh with the woman at the front counter about it. My eyes haven't changed much, but Dr. Miller and I decided I'd get a new slightly strengthened prescription.

2. I spent time figuring out some more of the finances of Mom's estate and made a call to financial institution where we have some money invested to find out about moving some funds into the estate account here in Kellogg. I talked with a very friendly guy who sounded, well, to me, sounded a lot like Kai Rysdaal, the host of the radio show, Marketplace. The Kai Rysdaal sound alike guy explained my options very clearly to me and I now know I need to make a trip to the bank on Friday morning to see Cyndy to get this transaction underway. By the way, I kept waiting for the Kai Rysdaal sound alike guy to say, "Let's do the numbers".

3.  Later in the afternoon, Shawn, a local contractor came by and told us a little bit of his story as to how he and his wife decided to move to Kellogg early in 2017. Then he and the Deke talked a lot about ways we might remodel the main floor of our house. Right now, we are mainly interested in remodeling the kitchen, taking up the carpeting in the living room, painting, and improving the spatial relationship between the kitchen and the living room. Shawn had great ideas -- he has a lively and imaginative mind -- and we settled on a rough idea of what he and his crew might do and we will look for an estimate next week. 

After dealing with my eyes, money, and great conversation with Shawn, I was a little spent -- and so was the Deke -- so we decided to debrief over an order of fish and chips and some small glasses of beer at Radio Brewing.  I loved my glasses of ESB and the fish and chips at Radio Brewing please us deeply. What you might call the bar, we call the thinking table and we put the thinking table to great use this evening.

Three Beautiful Things 11/01/17: Tasks Completed, Carol's Home, Christy's Home


1. Every day the Deke and I try to get at least one more task completed in our efforts to get settled in Kellogg. We accomplished a bit more than that today: we had an estimator come by to take a look at our gutters; I talked with a builder about coming to the house on Thursday to discuss painting -- and maybe other things; we went over to the Crall's house and looked at what it did to their living room and kitchen when they had a wall removed between the two rooms.  The Deke completed more paperwork in relation to medical stuff and insurance and I filled out paperwork related to my Thursday eye check up. I also got on the horn and straightened out a small mix up with my health insurance provider.

We also continued to take sample Idaho driver's license tests online.  I hope we'll feel ready to take the test soon!

I gave another task the old college try, but fell short: I tried cleaning the oven with soap and water -- I did a pretty good job, but, alas, I'll need some Easy Off to really get this task done.

2.  Carol dropped by to pick up a book and reported that she had an excellent trip to Portland. She was on her way to dress rehearsal for the show, "Goin' for Gold, Settlin' for Silver". It sounds to me like they are performing a bunch of songs related to local history in the Silver Valley. We will be attending this Sunday's matinee show.

3. Soon after Carol left, Christy came by. She had also been away for the last few days and reported that she and Everett and the dogs (Riley and Tucker) also had a splendid get away to Priest Lake and the surrounding area. We yakked with Christy for a while and then settled into an evening of cheese and crackers and hummus and crackers, setting aside our original plans to have a Marcella Hazan spaghetti dinner. We just had a little party instead.

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/17: Bank Business, Trick or Treat, Photo Stroll Next Door


1.  I popped into the bank this morning and deposited the refund from Kindred into Mom's estate account and asked Cyndy to walk with me through the paperwork required to make my third of a claim on Mom's IRA. Cyndy only complaint was that her witch wig was making her head hot. I was very grateful when she assured me that I pretty much knew what I was doing, so I went to a cubicle next to hers, filled out the forms, and she sent them in.  I feel a little lighter with each task I complete in settling Mom's affairs.2. Being back in Kellogg, I was a little more excited than usual for Halloween. I bought a bag each of Nestle's Crunch bars, Reese's peanut butter cups, Mars bars, and Twixes, all candy bars I would have wanted back in the heyday of trick or treating the generous families of Sunnyside here in Kellogg. I never went all out as far as dressing up, but I enjoyed how kind people were and, of course, enjoyed arriving home and spreading out my sugary riches to assess what our neighbors gave me. Tonight's turnout was solid and we have about a dozen candy treats left in case we ever get the urge for a little chocolaty snack.3.  Before going uptown with the Deke for a couple of small beers before dinner and the trick or treaters, I wandered over to Christy and Everett's yard and took some pictures of plants and flowers.  I ended my session taking a couple of pictures out in a little garden plot by the front of our garage.  They are the last two of this set:[...]

Three Beautiful Things 10/30/17: (4000th Post), A Bed!, Watts Shopping, Naps and Snacks


(I created kellogg bloggin' back on October 1, 2006, inspired by articles I'd read in the New York Times over the previous few years about weblogs. I thought a blog might motivate me to write more frequently. Before long, I discovered Clare Law's blog, Three Beautiful Things. I discovered that people around the world were writing within this structure, so I decided to give it a try. I've also participated in other writing and photography projects with other people. I used to contribute to the now defunct Sunday Scribblings and my sisters and I have written nearly two hundred sibling assignments and done several sibling photography assignments.

I bring this up because I am about to write my 4000th post here at kellogg bloggin'. I've had some periods when I fell off posting to this blog, but, for the most part, I've remained committed to doing what I set out to do: write something daily.)

1.  The Deke and I sat down and made a serious attempt to chart out what we want to get done around the house and when.  At the top of the list? Buy ourselves a bed!

We did that today. After much deliberation at the Furniture Exchange, we purchased a queen bed and it will arrive next week.

2. We are also planning to buy a gas range and a smaller refrigerator.  I realized that in all the years I've lived in the Silver Valley and in all the years I've visited, that I'd never been to Watts Appliance in Pinehurst.  We sauntered in. Sherri greeted us and provided us with copious knowledge about gas ranges, refrigerators, and range hoods.

I stepped aside at one point and glanced at the historical pictures of Pinehurst hanging on the wall and wanted to spend more time studying them and remembering the Pinehurst of 40 and more years ago. We knew we wouldn't be making a purchase today, but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Watts Appliance.  Sherri gave us a lot to ponder in a most friendly and helpful way.

3.  Back home, the Deke and I finished the leftovers from last night's dinner and we both collapsed into long naps. I guess shopping for a bed and looking at appliances exhausted us. The sleep revived us and before long we got the hummus, cheeses, corncakes, crackers, cream cheese, and fresh ground chili paste back out and enjoyed a dinner of snacks.

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/17: Errands in CdA, Mad Bomber Brewing, Cheese Plate and Angus Tips


1. The Deke and I decided to nail down some errands in CdA: I got the Sube's wheels retorqued at Costco; we shopped for a few things at Costco; then the Deke picked up a picture she'd had framed at Michael's, a picture that has been in her life for sixty years; we bought some things at Fred Meyer, including a bottle of red wine, Effie's Crispy Corncakes, and three small chunks of cheese from the Murray's cheese counter.

2. In between Michael's and Fred Meyer, I introduced the Deke to Mad Bomber Brewing in Hayden. We ordered an eight beer flight with samples of everything from porter to red ale, rye ale to Oktoberfest, and black ale to IPA. The beers are bold and flavorful -- I especially enjoyed the Oktoberfest, the Scotch Ale, and the porter and loved my return engagement with the Fatman IPA.

3. Back in Kellogg, the Deke and I enjoyed a cheese and cracker plate, including hummus and some saltines topped with cream cheese and fresh ground chili paste, imitating a sample the Deke tried at Costco -- the sample was on a rice cracker, but we loved it all the same on the saltine. Later on, we had a delicious dinner. Costco sells Mission Hill Bistro Angus steak tips, carrots, and potatoes with gravy. I enriched the gravy by adding some red wine and we ate this over white rice. We each enjoyed a small bowl and left ourselves another meal for Monday.

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/17: Bernie's Funeral, The Reception, Dinner with Jake and Carol Lee


1. I spiffed up late this morning and vaulted into the Sube and lit out for the Wallace Elks.  I climbed upstairs for the Elks Funeral Service in celebration of the life of Bernard (Bernie) Mattern.  I never met Bernie, but Bernie is Byrdman's father-in-law and I went in support of Byrdman and Stephanie and in gratitude for the Mattern cabin up the North Fork of the CdA River where I have spent and will continue to spend blissful afternoons and evenings with Byrdman and the extended Mattern family. The family has always received me openly and generously and Bernie was the Mattern patriarch.

2. As grow older, I have also learned that funerals afford all of us the opportunity to see longtime acquaintances and friends -- and sometimes I haven't seen some of these people for decades. Such was the case today. Now, I've seen Mary Lynn in recent years and we are Facebook friends, but it had been forty-five years since I'd seen her husband, John, as well as Wallace High grads Rob Gillies and Jerry Keane. I've seen Dan Carrico up the river, and it was fun to talk to him and to see his and Byrdman's brother-in-law, Tim.  Diane Hogan (KHS Class of '72) tends bar at the Wallace Elks and during a lull in the action, Diane and I slipped in a stellar conversation.  I ended my stay at the reception sitting with Byrdman, Stephanie, members of both of their families, and Rob Gillies. I learned a whole lot from Rob about his son's business in Eugene and a group of guys he hangs out with at different Silver Valley watering holes on Fridays.  I hope to catch them one afternoon at the Inland Lounge.

3. Once I returned home, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and glided out to Rose Lake for dinner with Jake and Carol Lee at their home on the lake. Carol Lee poured us each a Dark and Stormy made with black cherry rum -- that was fun -- and we gabbed for a while and then sat down to an epic dinner.

Carol Lee served rotisserie pork roast and cooked apples, a potato casserole, roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, and delicious bread rolls. It was a superb meal, paired perfectly with a blended red wine from Columbia Crest. A slow glass of Kahlua and half and half on ice topped it off perfectly.

We did a little more yakkin' and kept an eye on the World Series. We relaxed like this until about 8 o'clock when the Deke and I hit the road and returned to Kellogg.

We had a great evening for which we are most grateful.

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/17: Tires Rotated, Midtown Deli, Kellogg Boys at Corby's


1.  I took the Sube into Costco in CdA this afternoon and had the tires rotated. I killed forty-five minutes looking around, eating a few samples, and trying to get the layout of this store affixed in my mind.

2. I went over to Byrdman's house and we drove to Post Falls and each ate a sandwich at Midtown Deli, a drive up sandwich shop housed in a little hut I associate with coffee stands. We sat out in the sun, enjoyed our food, and got our serious afternoon and early evening of yakkin' underway.

3. Byrdman and I headed over to Corby's. After a while, the proprietor Dave Corbeil (aka Corby or Big Pappy) sauntered in his joint and yakked with Byrdman and me for a while. A little later,  more Kellogg boys strolled in: Lars and Jake joined us and then Stu came in and Tony Rinaldi came over to our table to say hello. It's a lot of fun to sit around and chew the fat with guys I've known for nearly as long as I can remember and to enjoy the stories as they fly around the table.

Three Beautiful Things 10/26/17: More Home Pictures, City Park Photo Spree, Exquisite Lager at Radio Brewing


1. Once again, I took some pictures in and around the house. I'm enjoying taking pictures again after a long layoff and it's especially fun to photograph the light and shadows in the back yard. I'll post pictures at the end of this post, including one of our house -- some readers of this blog have asked me to do that.2. I needed to go to Yoke's for a few things and turned my outing into a shopping spree and photo spree. I parked in the swimming pool parking lot and with October light shining through the brown, red, and yellow leaves, I took a bunch of pictures of leaves and experimented with some out of focus shots -- they failed -- and with a shots where I opened my aperture as wide and nearly as wide as possible.  My inner jury is still out about the softness of these shots. I like that these pictures look less like the leaves we see with our own eyes -- it makes them a little more abstract. I'm going to live with these shots for a while longer, try some more of them, and maybe one day I'll arrive at a conclusion about how much I like this approach.  I love the bokeh the wide aperture produces.If you'd like to glance at the pictures I've taken the last couple of days, I put everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in my flickr albums.  The pictures I took Wednesday and Thursday are here, here, and here.3. The engineers over at have been repairing problems the last day or two and today they seemed to have at least temporarily repaired what was broken. I was able to (slowly) upload pictures and create albums of my last two days of picture taking which allows me to more readily work with pictures on my Chromebook.  While I was working on this, Christy arrived and told us about the photo session she and Everett had in (or near) Osburn. They will have pictures to send out at Christmas now and to keep for other purposes.The Deke and Christy went over to Jane's next door to look at all the work she's had done on her house. I joined them, looked around, and then the Deke and I needed to return to the store to buy what I forgot. On the way, we decided to take a detour to Radio Brewing.I sat at the bar and realized I'd never tried their Golden Age Lager. It's one of the most pleasant, light, and tasty lagers I've ever tried. The Deke had made a fox ears hat for one of the owners, Ashley. Ashley was wearing it when we arrived and she was stoked. The Deke had a great time yakkin' with Ashley and Becky and I spent time in quiet bliss sipping on the exquisite lager in my glass.Then Fitz came in and Becky introduced us and he and I got to yakkin' about the Milo Creek project, his work on the County Commissioners board, the Dodgers of the 1970s and early 80s, and about people he knows after living here for over twenty years who are people I've known since I was a kid: Abbie, Cas, Mountain Man Miller, and others.Great stuff.Here are some pictures, beginning with Mom's/our house:[...]

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/17: Sprinklers and Hoses, Guests for Dinner, Home Pictures


1. The guy came today to blow out the sprinkler system and I seized the moment and brought the garden hoses indoors.  Well, I brought one hose indoors. The no-knot floppy hoses that jump all over the place if I'm not holding them when I turn on the water? May they rest in peace. They went in the garbage can.2. Next door, Mike is taking care of Jane's house while she is traveling in Italy. Tonight we hosted dinner with Mike and Christy and Everett. The Deke took over the kitchen and fixed a dynamite meatloaf and she baked all but one of the remaining potatoes Ed bought in Montana. The Deke also made a delicious celery, radish, apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad. Mike lived in the Silver Valley about forty years ago and stories about the good ole days and conversation about the beauty of places to go in North Idaho flew around the table.3. Earlier in the day, I broke out my camera for the first time in months. To shake off the rust, I decided to focus on trying to take pictures of Maggie and Charly indoors and took pictures around the back and front yard outdoors. I'm also accepting the challenge of posting a black and white picture each day on Facebook, so I took some pictures that I hope are worthy of the challenge.  Here is a sampling of the pictures:[...]

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/17: Fillings and Blood Draw, Fall in Spokane, Chowder for Dinner


1.  First thing this morning, I took a little jaunt down the block to Bird Family Dental and spent about an hour enjoying the friendly and careful work of Dr. Bird and his assistants while they worked together to enhance my dental health with a couple of fillings. When I was younger, I dreaded going to the dentist, but over the last twenty years or so, I've worked with dental hygienists and dentists and their assistants who have not only made going to the dentist painless, but their manner and good work has motivated me to take increasingly better care of my teeth and gums.

I arrived home, got my blood draw kit together, and dropped in on the fine people at Shoshone Medical Center where my monthly blood draw for the Univ. of Maryland Transplant Center went smoothly. I left feeling very happy.

2. The Deke and I piled into the Sube and motored over to Spokane Valley to check out the Value Village on Pines and Sprague. It wasn't quite what the Deke was looking for and we decided not to go to any nore vintage or thrift stores. We drove down Sprague into Spokane and gawked at all the reds, vermillions, and golden tones of the great variety of turning trees, especially on the South Hill, and stopped for a stroll at the majestic Manito Park.  We wrapped up our day in Spokane with a short visit to Paradise Fibers, the Deke's paradise, for sure. It was fun to drive both aimlessly and purposefully around Spokane and to admire its beauty on this flawless autumn day.

3. The Deke and I have been talking a lot about purchasing some kind of cast iron soup/stew/chowder utensil. We stopped at Fred Meyer in CdA to buy some raw shrimp and other items in support of a potato, shrimp, and corn chowder recipe we wanted to try out. We also visited the kitchenwares and decided to buy an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Once home, I dove into preparing this evening's meal. I peeled and chopped a couple of the huge potatoes Ed gave us on Saturday. I did my best to chop the potatoes and the celery and onion into small pieces and I minced five cloves of garlic. Next I peeled the shrimp, put a tablespoon of butter in the Dutch oven, and cooked the shrimp, then set them aside. I then built the soup, step by step, cooking the onion and celery in more butter, adding flour and garlic to the mix, pouring in chicken broth and the potatoes and paprika, boiled it, let it simmer and then added the corn and let the mixture simmer some more. The last step was to add the half and half, Old Bay seasoning, and chopped shrimp and heat up the chowder. I loved how our new Dutch oven performed.

We served the chowder with slices of artisan bread. We loved the layers of flavors and the texture of the broth. I am especially fond of fish soup and loved the way the liquid from the shrimp harmonized with the chicken broth, half and half, paprika, Old Bay, celery, onion, and the garlic.

Next time I make this soup, I'll let the potatoes cook a little longer. The recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes and I'll use them next time. They might cook quicker than the russets we used. Following the recipe left the russets slightly undercooked. It was a small flaw in our otherwise deeply satisfying chowder.

Want to try it?  The recipe is right here