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Updated: 2018-04-21T06:37:10.408-07:00


Three Beautiful Things 04/20/18: Fast Cars at Sam's, Remodel Decisions, Return of the Deke


1.  Breakfast at Sam's this morning was a lot of fun. Our server loves telling us about her vacations (soon she's going to Palm Springs), her casino trips (whether to Worley, Spokane, or Las Vegas), and her love of vehicles -- her love encompasses vehicles ranging from golf carts to fast cars. I don't know much about cars, but this morning she was fired up because (I think she said) she's going to purchase a car of her dreams, an orange (or is it rust?) Dodge Barracuda. She had a picture of a Dodge Barracuda on her pocket computer and was downright giddy as she showed it to each of us around the table. Later, when some other customers arrived, she showed the car to them, too, and, to be honest, our server is such a wonderful woman, so good at her work, so unpretentious, and so fun to talk with and joke around with, that everyone is really happy for her that she's had a good turn of fortune in her life and can take these vacations, golf trips, casino outings, and buy fast cars. And, she loves working at Sam's.

2. After Shawn left the other day, I went out back and looked again at the back of the house and I doubted that there was room to mount an awning in the way we had planned. I texted him and asked him to drop by, at his convenience, to see if agreed with me. Shawn called this morning to see if we were up and about so he could check on this. He was also troubled by the fact that he'd estimated a cost for bathroom tile that was was under what he found out the actual cost was. He wanted to talk face to face about this discrepancy with us and with Christy (we are both having bathroom remodels done at the same time).

What it all came down to was that we want to do as much business locally as possible and tile at the Furniture Exchange costs more than it would at Lowe's or Home Depot. The Deke, Christy, and I hardly had to think about it when we told Shawn we'd pay the higher price and buy the tile here in Kellogg from the Furniture Exchange. Shawn hung around for a while and shot the breeze over a cup of coffee after we made this decision and after we decided that mounting an awning on the back of the house wouldn't work. Shawn has been consistently conscientious with us in every aspect of the work he's done on our house and I was, one again, very appreciative of his conscientiousness today.

3.  Having been gone for a month meant that the Deke hadn't been to the Inland Lounge for quite a while, so we went up right as it opened at three o'clock so we could shoot the breeze with Cas and Tracy. Not long after we arrived, Ed came in and enjoyed a beer or two and ordered Nancy some food from Wah Hing and all three of us saw other people we knew -- Ed and Jim (Sr.) Miller, Mike Grebil, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Higbee, Clarence, Betty, and Brian Moore, and the Inland Lounge scene grew into a very enjoyable crowd of mostly people our age and older enjoying one another before either going across the street for a burger at the Elks or up the street to dance at the Kellogg Senior Center.

When the Deke and I arrived home, I fried three strips of bacon and then put frozen green beans in the skillet and let them cook together. I roasted a sheet of sliced onions and baby carrots. I then prepared the two of us each a small flatiron steak. Steak. Green beans with bacon. Roasted carrots and onions. Our dinner crowned a nearly perfect day.

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/18: Taking it Easy, More Joseph Mitchell, Salmon with Spinach and Mushrooms


1.  This morning, at some point, I asked the Deke if she wanted to do something today. She didn't, really. She wanted to take the day to continue to get acclimated to PST some more, rest from all her travels over the last month, and take it easy. That sounded good to me, so I joined her in taking it easy, napping, and having a quiet day around the house.

2. This book, Up in the Old Hotel, I'm reading is a long book. Joseph Mitchell writes copiously in long paragraphs about his subjects and I love feasting on all this detail, whether he's describing the Manhattan cityscape or bringing one of the persons he's profiling alive. The pieces are a bit long. I'm reading this book very slowly and I enjoyed indulging in the world of NYC gypsies again. His first gypsy profile centered on Johnny Nikanov, presented as the king of the gypsies. The second longer profile focused on women gypsies and their elaborate schemes to con unsuspecting and troubled women out of all kinds of money. It was painful to read how they were able to trick entire life savings out of some of their marks, but, again, the detail and the depth of Mitchell's reporting fascinated me.

In another piece I read today, Mitchell eulogizes a favorite old gin mill, Dick's Bar and Grill, located on a narrow street near the Brooklyn Bridge, but now closed because Dick opened a shiny new bar with nearby. Mitchell laments the loss of the grittiness and chaos of the old place and can hardly bear that the new establishment is so nice. And clean. And polite. And orderly. 

3.  When the Deke is out of town, I cook for myself, I experiment with food a bit, and I enjoy it, but I don't have to cook very often because a roast or a chicken or a pot of turkey soup will last me three, even four days. Now I am getting back into the swing of daily cooking for both of us. Today I sauteed a half a pound of sliced mushrooms in one skillet and wilted a container of fresh spinach, dampened with balsamic vinegar, in the other, combined them, and put them on a plate and covered them with aluminum foil. Meanwhile, I roasted a head and a half of cauliflower florets at 400 degrees for nearly a half an hour.

When the Deke returned home from doing some window shopping at Furniture Exchange and having a glass of wine at Hill St. Depot, I seared a small chunk of salmon on the gas range grill. In one of our wide and shallow bowls, I created a bed of the spinach and mushrooms, halved the salmon chunk and placed each chunk on the bed, topped the chunks each with a slice of lemon, and created a circle of cauliflower around the salmon.  The Deke and I were astonished that such a simple meal could have so much flavor and texture and be so pleasing.

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/18: Money Morning, Dad's Blue Datsun Pickup, Radio Brewing


1. The Deke and I wanted to get some financial things in our life clarified, so we had a money morning today. I enjoyed everything we did: we discussed outstanding obligations, assessed how our situation looks today, and started a wish list. I paid bills. We also realized that we needed to Shawn about the next remodeling project that is starting next week. I texted Shawn, invited him over this afternoon, telling him we needed to make sure we had everything he was doing and what it would cost straight in our minds.

2. While Christy and the Deke were attending their book group this afternoon, I hustled over to Yoke's to buy some beer for Shawn's visit and pick up a few other things. While strolling by the onions, garlic, and avocados, I walked near a man wearing a Yankees cap with a toothpick in his mouth, a man older than I am. "You're Woolum, aren't you?" I didn't recognize him. I said yes and I think he could tell I didn't know who he was. "Hello, I'm Rich Edwards. You remember that little blue Datsun pickup your dad had years ago?" "Yes!" "Well, I sold your dad that pickup. He said he wanted it to go golfing." I shook my head in marveled disbelief and we stood there for several minutes and Rich told me was shopping because his wife had slipped on the ice back in February and broken bones in her leg. He thought she'd be healed up some time this summer. We shook hands and I headed off to the dairy cooler and he headed toward the lettuce and carrots.  (By the way, if you were to look back several days on this blog, you'll read that I met Rich's cousin, Kelly, at the Inland Lounge on Saturday.)

3.  Shawn dropped by. I popped open each of us a bottle of Ninkasi's Believer, a fine double red ale, and we got everything straightened out and, if I'm not mistaken, we made additions to the project. After Shawn left, the Deke and I decided to go uptown to Radio Brewing. We grabbed a stool at the front bar, each ordered a short strong ale, and some food. For the first time, I tried the delicious chicken pot pie at Radio and the Deke enjoyed a salad. It was fun just to relax together after being apart for a month and continuing to get caught up about what we did while apart and starting to look at what the near future looks like for us.

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/18: Spiffing Up the House, Off to GEG, Driving the Deke Back to the Valley


1. I got up this morning and figured what with the Deke coming home this evening, it would be the perfect day to clean the house. I cleaned the stove, counters, dishwasher, sink, refrigerator (inside and out); I dust mopped the floors, vacuumed the living room rug, and cleaned the bathroom; I laundered our bedding and made the bed. I wrapped things up by going to the store and purchasing the groceries the Deke had asked me to have on hand. I put the groceries away and surveyed the house, satisfied with a good day's work. The place looked pretty good.

2. I took off for the Spokane airport (GEG) a little bit early so that I could fuel up in Coeur d'Alene and grab a sandwich, having sort of forgotten to eat a meal during the day.

3.  I parked in the cell phone parking lot and wasn't there very long before a text message chimed in and I read the magic words, "Got my bag".  I revved up the Sube and blasted my way to the terminal. The Deke swung her bag into the Sube and leapt in the front seat. We briefly embraced and soon we were headed to the Silver Valley, gabbing about the Deke's trip, family news in both the east and the west, how things are in Kellogg, and what we've each listened to lately regarding the news.  We arrived home tired, happy to be back together, and looking forward to a good night's sleep and being able to talk some more over our coffee in the morning.

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/18: Christy's Slideshow Tribute to Mom, Organizing Paper, Braised Curried Chicken


1. My day was underway in the usual way -- dogs fed, coffee brewed, hot cereal nearly cooked, my daily writing begun -- when I see Christy has made a post on Facebook she had told us at family dinner was forthcoming. I stopped everything to watch it. It's a stirring series of photographs, a slideshow, accompanied by music, of Mom's Celebration of Life, the reception at Paul and Carol's that followed, the committal of her ashes, and moments from the span of her life from when she was a child to when she was in the nursing home. If you haven't seen this video, I hope you will watch it. It beautifully portrays the love Mom gave to those in her life and the bounty of love so many others gave her.

The video is right here.

2. I spent the day sorting out personal papers, reviewing bills, going back through papers of Mom's and deciding what to keep and what to dispose of, and doing some preparation for filing our 2018 taxes next year. I decided I didn't want to chase down tax documents in a year that I already have on hand now, so I organized them. 

3. I had a couple of chicken thighs on hand. I heated up oil in the Dutch oven and seared both sides of the salted, peppered, and garlic powdered thighs. Meanwhile, I made a mixture of coconut milk, green curry paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. I removed the thighs from the Dutch oven, drained off the excess hot oil, and put lemon slices, cauliflower florets, and broccoli crowns at the bottom of the pan and put the chicken on top. I poured the coconut milk mixture over it all, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and let it all cook at 275 degrees. I checked the vegetables a couple of times, not wanting to overcook them and ended up removing them about ten or fifteen minutes before the chicken was cooked through.

This was a delicious meal, one I made up just by calling upon past experience with curry sauces and braising. I enjoyed the slight heat and the subtle sweetness and the spices of the curry sauce and especially enjoyed how the vegetables and chicken absorbed these flavors.

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/18: Day Trip, Superb Family Dinner, To the Grocery Store (Finally)


1. Not long after I finished my morning routines, I leapt into the Sube, drove to Kingston, and picked up Ed. We pulled into the Cash and Carry store in CdA so Ed could pick up some supplies for the Subway restaurant Nancy manages and then we headed to the CdA Casino in Worley. We had a good ride down and talked about a lot of different things. Once at the casino, I played for a little while and it became obvious I was having a lousy day, so I quit playing before too long. I hate trying to spend myself out of bad luck! I won't do it.  I went to the deli and had a bagel and a cup of coffee, wishing I had brought a book, and wandered around a bit. Ed seemed to be having better luck than I did and I caught up with him before too long and enjoyed watching him play until he was ready to go. We had another great session of solving the world's problems on the trip back home and returned to the Silver Valley very early in the afternoon.

2. Christy hosted tonight's family dinner. We ate dinner in the shed she has worked so hard to have remodeled and that she has elegantly decorated. I especially enjoyed that we were in the shed while there was still daylight and and enjoyed the way light comes into Christy's space. Dinner was superb. We began with a glass of wine and a toast to Christy and Carol's success in changing their eating habits and their success at steadily losing weight. Our dinner was a masterpiece, all prepared within the limits of Christy and Carol's dietary plan. Christy slow cooked a meatloaf in the crock pot and served it with sides of steamed cabbage and a crisp, fresh green salad. Different things going on the next two Sundays will, I think, keep us from having family dinner. I'll miss getting together, and look forward to resuming in May. It's going to be really fun when (if?) the weather warms up and we can begin to eat outside.

3. I've been a cross between lazy and negligent about getting to the grocery store lately, so I braved this evening's monsoon conditions of wind and rain and stocked up on a few things at Yoke's. I'm especially happy to know that I have just what I need to fix myself dinner on Monday evening.

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/18: I'm Pert Woolum's Kid, The Greek and the One-Eyed Elk, Chicken-Fried Steak


1. Last night, over at Corby's in Post Falls, Dave Corbeil mused that it was about time for his wife and him to hit the Silver Valley. The late Floyd Williams' wife, Mikey, was having an 80th birthday celebration at the Broken Wheel at 1:00 and he wanted to wish her well and see some old friends. Dave told me several times that I ought to come over to the Broken Wheel and I was vague in my response, but I knew I wouldn't go to this party because I didn't really know Mikey nor do I really know her sons. If I really knew Floyd's brother, Rollie, former North Idaho College basketball coach, it would have been fun to see him, but we don't really know each other at all. I did respond to Dave, however, that since he was going to hit the Valley, he oughta come up to The Lounge and see Cas and that I'd be sure to be there around three o'clock. Turns out that Byrdman also thought he might hit the Valley himself, and, true to his word, he did.As the late afternoon unfolded at the Inland Lounge, it became a great scene. Dave Corbeil arrived. After he told Byrdman and me about his afternoon tour of the Kellogg bars up to that point he left us and started yakkin' with Kelly Edwards, an old friend of my dad and of Dad's old golfing buddy from Las Vegas, Joe Estes, and I heard Kelly exclaim from the end of the bar, "That's Pert Woolum's kid?" so I shuffled down to him, introduced myself, and he laughed and couldn't tell me enough how much he misses my dad and Joe Estes and kept saying, "So you're Pert Woolum's kid? I'll be damned."2. As the scene continued to swell at the Inland Lounge, Cas was telling me a great story aboutwhen he and Billy "The Greek" Manthos, whiskey flasks in their tuxedo jacket pockets, served as ushers outside some Catholic church at Ab's wedding in Missoula. Both of us were startled when about fifteen minutes later, who strolled in The Lounge? That's right. The Greek himself. The Greek waded through the crowd by the door -- Corby, Kelly, Ed Miller, John Sevy, Tom Sawyer, and others and made his way to where Byrdman and I were seated and told me all about how he'd heard I'd moved back to Kellogg, how he lived in CdA now, and how much he missed my dad.Later, John Sevy added to the emerging theme of the afternoon and told me how much he missed my dad. Many of you reading this know that my dad was blind in one eye -- Joe Estes loved calling him a one-eyed fat man (and other colorful words to follow "one-eyed") -- and so John told me a story I'd never heard before. Dick Listoe and John Sevy hunted together. On one trip, John bagged an elk whose horns on one side of the rack were a bit deformed and a knot on the horns had grown over one of the elk's eyes. Dad caught wind somehow that "John Sevy had killed a one-eyed elk". Sevy got toward the end of his story and started laughing and said, "I sure miss your Dad. I guarantee you, if he were alive today and he walked in this joint, he'd see me and right away this whole bar would know that I was John Sevy, killer of a one-eyed elk." I laughed and told him that was a great story and agreed with him: vintage Pert Woolum.3.  The crowd thinned out a bit and Byrdman left to return to CdA. Corby left. The Greek and others went across the street to the Elks Club where they were having a ceremonial dinner to honor longtime members, name the Elk of the Year, and other things. Ed was over there to receive his twenty year pin. I had told him Friday at breakfast to come over to The Lounge after the dinner, that I'd like to see him and Nancy and his pin.So, I'd been nursing about one short V. O. and water every forty-five minutes over the last three hours or so and was starting to think I'd go somewhere for a quick bite to eat and come back to see Ed. My plan was to ask Cas to have Ed text me when he got there and I'd rush right back up.But, no sooner did I devise this plan in my head, then Cas told me they had ex[...]

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/18: Capone's in Post Falls, Downdraft, Corby's


1. I gassed up the Sube and rocketed west to the CdA, the Lake City, swung by Byrdman's house, and we headed out to spend a few hours in Post Falls, ID. Our first stop was Capone's for sandwiches and a beer. Neither of us had been to Capone's West before and it was fun to see that it's built, like the mothership CdA Capones, with dedication to neighborly atmosphere, tons of sports memorabilia, more beer taps than tables, and basic food: sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and appetizers.

2. When Byrdman and I arrived at Downdraft Brewing, it had just opened for the day and none of the Friday crowd had begun to stream in. We were served by the owner and brewer herself, Ginger, and it turned out that she is married to Josh Cantamessa, son of the late Jeff Cantamessa who was at the center of much that is alive and vital in Wallace. Byrdman's wife, Steph, is from Wallace and has been friends with the Cantamessas for many, many years and it was a blast talking with Ginger about Wallace and the Cantamessa family, as well as absorbing her beer expertise. She took us back to the brewing area and gave us a brief tour and, while in the tasting room, we talked about the different beer styles she brews and how business is going at Downdraft. Downdraft had closed back in November and Ginger and Josh reopened it as the new owners in January. It's my favorite kind of brewery: small operation, excellent beer, innovative beer ambitions, cozy, and very friendly. I look forward to returning. 

3. Every 4-6 weeks, a bunch of us guys who graduated from Kellogg High School meet up at Corby's in Post Falls for a couple of beers and to see the owner, Dave Corbeil (KHS, Class of 67). Today, Lars, Stu, Byrdman, and I met and Dave (Pappy) Corbeil came in later. He'd been to the funeral of former CdA Viking basketball coach, Dean Lundblad. He told us about some of the CdA basketball players who attended the funeral and the reception at the CaddyShack. This led to some great yakkin' about high school basketball in North Idaho fifty years ago and, at one point, the conversation circled around to how much better Kellogg's teams could have been if guys like Bob and John Pegg or Jack Morris or quite a few others hadn't moved from Kellogg to CdA or Spokane. It's sure fun to think back and relive times when we were kids, played a ton of basketball at the Y, and played other sports around the neighborhood, monitoring ourselves, organizing the games ourselves, and not relying solely on Little League or other organized leagues in order to get some games together. I guess the closest we come to doing that now is to organize get togethers like this evening's and talk about the playing we used to do!

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/18: Quiet Day, NYCity Stories, Visit Next Door


1. I stayed home today. The corgis were at peace all day, doing little more than rising up from the prone position only to find a different place -- the living room rug, the queen bed, the love seat, or their crate -- to resume lying down. I listened to a variety of news podcasts, continuing to learn more about the multiple things going on this week with Facebook, Syria, and other complex stories.

2. I also retreated back in time to the 1930s and 1940s in New York City by returning to more profiles by Joseph Mitchell. I learned about gypsy life in NYC at that time, a man on a mission to eradicate the world of profanity, another man who tramped across the United States and wrote checks for as much as 25,000 dollars to people who poured him a cup of coffee or fixed him some food, and the Union League of the Deaf.

3. Finally, at about 7:30 p.m., I left the house and paid Christy and Everett a visit. We yakked for a while about Christy's trip to CdA today, my road trip yesterday, our upcoming house remodeling projects, and other things. It was a relaxing way to bring a very quiet and relaxing day to a close.

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/18: Road Trip to Harrison, Meeting Lunk in St. Maries, Two of Us Are Tired!


1.  For the third week in a row, Byrdman and I struck out into the verdant landscapes of North Idaho on a local road trip. Rather than heading north, like we did the last two weeks, we headed east and south. We drove on ID Highway 97 around Lake Coeur d'Alene, admiring the numerous vistas of the lake and local mountains, still snow capped, and eased on into Harrison, ID and made a stop at One Shot Charlie's. It's a bar that's been around for nearly seventy years. Today, One Shot Charlie's was very quiet. Byrdman and I took a stool at the bar for a single slow and relaxing beer and exchanged our expertise on topics ranging from the NBA in the 1970s to the current news.

2. We continued on ID Highway 97 to its junction with ID Highway 3 and swooped into St. Maries. While in Harrison, I texted American Legion baseball teammate, Jack Lunger, to see if he wanted to meet up with Byrdman and me. He responded in the affirmative and directed us to meet him at Joe's Bar in the heart of downtown St. Maries. I hadn't see Jack (Lunk) Lunger for over forty years and, upon our arrival, we discovered, to our surprise and delight, that Wallace High School grad, Dave Oakes, was at Joe's with Lunk. We settled in around a large, circular, padded card table just off the bar and spent an hour and a half or so swapping stories, getting caught up, and enjoying each other's company. I had never met Dave Oakes. I soon learned a lot about his athletic career and his many years of officiating basketball and I learned that he works for the same outfit as Ed, Buff, Jerry, and Scott, my Friday breakfast pals. 

If I've learned anything since returning to live in Kellogg, it's that if I am going to get reacquainted with friends from back in the day, I need to go to where these old friends are and that I will meet people from those days that I didn't really know back then. I've enjoyed joining up with the Wallace Social Club on the Fridays I've met with them; I will go to Corby's in Post Falls and meet up with Stu, Lars, and Byrdman this Friday where rumor has it a bunch of guys from the KHS Class of '71 will be getting together, too; I continue to renew old friendships and make new acquaintances at the Inland Lounge.

In other words, I'm really happy that Byrdman got Lunk's contact information from Doc and that I texted Lunk from Harrison and our meeting of the minds at Joe's Bar was the result. Honestly, if I look back just one year to when the Deke and I traveled to Virginia in March, I visited Mom in early April, and the Deke and I visited Adrienne and Jack and saw two shows on Broadway later on in April, I thought our near future would involve living in Maryland and more exploration of places back east. Instead, circumstances that grew out of Mom's death in August led us to decide to move back to Kellogg and now I'm getting to know people again from whom I was separated for decades. I never saw this coming.

3.  I was back home for a while when I received a text message from the Deke that she arrived safely back in Maryland, tired, and was back at Molly and Hiram's home. I was happy to get this news and am looking forward to the Deke's return to Kellogg early next week. The Deke wasn't alone in being tired. My day of road tripping left me fatigued and I turned in very early, happy that I'd had such a fun day.

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/18: Shooting the Breeze, Photo Scouting, Pork Roast Dinner


1.  The Deke called me this morning. She is relaxing for a few days with her cousin, Sally, at Hilton, Head, SC. The Deke and I have easy conversations together and, when she's gone, more than anything else, I miss shooting the breeze together. It was fun doing just that this morning.

2. My favorite places to take pictures over the last eight years or so have been watery locales. I loved going to Delta Ponds in Eugene, especially to take pictures of waterfowl; when we lived for a short time in Groveton, VA, I loved the time I spent taking pictures in the wetlands of Huntley Meadows Park; when we decided to move to Kellogg, the one place in Washington, D. C. I knew I would miss the most is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, especially when the lotus and water lilies are in bloom or those days when the many turtles in the park sun themselves.

With this in mind, I went on a picture taking scouting drive today. I drove west of Kellogg on Riverview Dr., on Canyon Rd., and across the Cataldo Slough on Dredge Road. I then headed into the hills a bit and along parts of the Coeur d'Alene on River Road and Tamarack Ridge Rd.  Mostly I looked for where I might have access to different sightlines in the Cataldo Slough, to see what the possibilities might be for taking waterscape pictures or pictures of waterfowl, and imagined other possibilities of taking pictures of barns, silos, horses, and other subjects in the general Cataldo and Canyon areas.

3.  I returned home from my drive and took the pork roast out of the refrigerator. It had been sitting there for about twenty-four hours, coated with the paste I made of garlic, salt, pepper, dried sage, dried rosemary, and olive oil. Once the roast was at room temperature, I put it in a hot oven (475 degrees) for about a half an hour. I let the roast rest for another half an hour and then returned it to the oven at 325 degrees until it reached an interior temperature of about 145 degrees. I removed the roast and it rested for another twenty to thirty minutes and I carved it. It was moist! It was peppery and flavorful, especially, to me, because of the dried rosemary and the pepper.

I had sliced an onion and put the meat on top of these slices. When I removed the roast from the Dutch oven, the onions were beautifully caramelized and lay in a shallow pool of fatty liquid flavored by the paste I'd made. I had sauteed onion and yellow zucchini in bacon grease and I added these caramelized onions and the tasty liquid to the this saute to create a rich and tasty side dish to the slices of roast I ate for dinner.

Much of what I did in cooking this dinner was experimental. I'm not sure I would have tried out these different experiments if I were cooking for others. During times like the last three weeks when I am home alone, this is one of the things I enjoy about being on my own -- I am much braver in the kitchen.
After all, if I louse up a meal, I'm the only one who has to eat it.

I posted the recipe for preparing this pork roast before.  I'll post it again: it's here.

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/18: Mortar and Pestle is Back, Morning Routine, "King of the Gypsies"


1. The recipe called for a mortar and pestle! I couldn't believe my eyes! I was looking for a different way to roast the small bone in sirloin end roast I had thawed. The second I found out that this recipe called for me to use the mortar and pestle, I was all in. So, I peeled six garlic cloves and dropped them into the mortar with salt and wielded my trusty pestle and crushed them into a paste. Then I added olive oil, dried rosemary, dried sage, and pepper and mashed it all together into a lush paste. I slathered the paste onto the roast, put a loose fitting tent of aluminum foil over the meat, and put it in the refrigerator where it will sit for about twenty-four hours until I roast the pork tomorrow.

If you want to read the recipe, it's here.

2. Recently, I have developed a morning routine I enjoy. Not only do I drink a couple of cups of SilverCup Midnight coffee (or so) and write my daily blog post, but I also listen to short podcasts. On Monday through Friday, the New York Times produces a morning twenty minute podcast, The Daily, here. Each podcast focuses primarily on one current story. Host Michael Barbaro interviews either a journalist or another person involved with the story who work to sort out where things stand with the story as day breaks. I also listen to a similar podcast from NPR, called Up First here, a ten minute first look at prominent stories of the upcoming day. As the day proceeds, depending on what I'm doing, I enjoy listening to programs I used to tune into when I lived in Maryland, especially 1A, here, Here and Now, here, and On Point, here

3. I haven't finished the profile yet, but I'm learning about another New York City world I know nothing about in Joseph Mitchell's piece, "King of the Gypsies" and am pretty sure that on Tuesday I'll put a lot of things I could do on hold and finish reading Mitchell's look at King Cockeye Johnny, the nickname for Johnny Nikanov, self-appointed gypsy king.

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/18: The Fourth Round, Preparing Family Dinner, Neil Young and Jethro Tull


1.  I watched coverage of the Masters Tournament all day long today.  The Masters is the only one of golf's four major tournaments contested at the same golf course every year -- and what a gorgeous golf course it is, especially in early April, when Augusta National is alive with dogwood and azaleas, complimented majestically by the pine trees, ponds, and the meandering course of Rae's Creek. The golf course's hills and water and undulated greens combined with a variety of weather conditions, ranging from windy to warm and still to rainy give the players at Augusta a unique challenge every round. If, when I played the best golf of my life (which wasn't that good), I were to play this golf course, I doubt I could get around Augusta in under 120 strokes -- which would be nearly fifty strokes over par.I didn't have strong feelings about who I hoped would win the 82nd Masters. My hope was that I'd get to enjoy a day of skilled shotmaking, excitement, gutsy play, and good competition. All of that happened, not only in the way eventual winner Patrick Reed made one fine shot and one clutch putt after another to hold on to his lead, but in the way Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth brilliantly charged hard from behind to keep pressure on Patrick Reed. Until Patrick Reed two-putted from over twenty feet above the hole, needing a testy two to four footer to win the Masters, the outcome of this tournament was never certain and made for a day of scintillating and dramatic golf.2. I was on tap for hosting tonight's family dinner so I took my Chromebook out to the kitchen and prepped food while watching the Masters. One of my favorite undertakings in the kitchen is to make a soup bar. Ideally, I like to make three or four different pots of soup with the hope that people will sample each of them. Today, however, I limited the soup bar to two pots of soup, both conforming with the requirements of the Keto eating plan.I wanted to put the last of my current supply of crab stock to good use and made a salmon chowder. I poached two fillet of salmon resting atop sauteed sweet red pepper and celery in crab stock while, at the same time, I cooked a head of cauliflower florets in crab stock. When the florets were tender, I folded 8 oz. of cream cheese into the pot, let it melt, and then pulverized the mixture in the blender. I flaked the poached salmon and combined the cauliflower mixture with the sauteed vegetables and salmon and the chowder was ready.The other soup was a sirloin steak stroganoff soup which only required that I brown small bits of sirloin steak, saute a pound or so of chopped mushrooms, add about five cups of some of my beef stock along with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and paprika and, later, fold in about 12 oz. of sour cream.I left the onions out of both soups because one family member is allergic to onions and I didn't use the parsley called for just because I didn't want it. So there!For our first course, I seared three halved heads of Romaine lettuce on the gas range grill and made Parmesan cheese and an olive oil salad dressing available to put on the lettuce. I'd never seared lettuce before, although I knew about doing this from when the Deke and Patrick both ordered a grilled Caesar salad back in October at Iron Goat Brewery in Spokane.Christy, Everett, Carol, and Paul all enjoyed this dinner, a great relief to me, because everything I fixed was new to me and was sort of an experiment.The recipe for the chowder is here, for the stroganoff soup is here, and for the seared lettuce and dressing is here.  3. After conversation around the dinner table and in the living room, I cleaned up the kitchen and relaxed for a little while with a couple of videos on YouTube. I was enthralled by a jan[...]

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/18: Watching the Masters, Imagining Family Dinner, A Visit to The Lounge


1. I'm sure of it. Golf is my favorite game to watch on television, especially when a major tournament is being contested. I think the last time I watched golf on tv was in July of 2014 when Rory McIlroy won the Open championship at Royal Liverpool. We had just moved to Virginia. It was Olivia's birthday weekend. Adrienne and Jack buzzed down from Nyack. Hiram and Molly's townhouse was full. I spent two nights in a Best Western in Ft. Belvoir/Mt. Vernon. Before going to Olivia's party, I watched golf. I loved it.

Today, I discovered that CBS coverage of the Masters was available at So, I tuned in and thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Reed's thrilling performance, scoring mind boggling eagles at both the 13th and 15th holes and the way Rory McIlroy battled to stay close enough to possibly catch up to Reed tomorrow. I came out of my seat and bellowed, "OH MY GOD!" when McIlroy chipped in for an eagle on the 8th hole. It was fun to swap text messages with Byrdman as the third round developed and drew to a close. We both agreed: this tournament hardly needed Tiger and Phil in order to be dramatic and entertaining. What it needed was fearless young players emboldened by the slightly damp and forgiving conditions at Augusta National, making it a day when players up and down the leaderboard shot rarely seen low scores, heightening the drama. I can hardly wait to watch Sunday's final round.

2. I am the host for Sunday family dinner this weekend and I took occasional breaks from the golf action to look up recipes that are congruent with the plans Christy and Carol are following to lose weight. I decided what I'll make and have a trip to the store planned for the morning to pick up some food to make it happen. I'll reveal the plan and the menu when I post tomorrow's 3BTs. Suffice it to say I was happy to find recipes that give me the chance to do some of my favorite kind of cooking and that will produce meals within Christy and Carol's eating discipline.

3. Not long after dark and after fixing myself a green salad with tuna fish and cottage cheese, I realized I was out of coffee, so I went to Yoke's and ground myself over a pound of SilverCup Midnight. I returned to the car and saw the neon straw flashing back and forth in the neon martini glass resting above the entry into the Inland Lounge and decided to stop in. I enjoyed two VO ditches, shot the breeze with Cas, listened to the drunken and dulled wit of a guy who boasted, "I cracked open my first beer at 2 o'clock this afternoon at Dirty Ernie's" (expletives deleted). That was about six hours ago and nothing in his six hours of drinking Miller Lites had done anything to make him enjoyable. After a while, the woman he was with seized upon an opportunity. When her pal lurched to the restroom, she drank the rest of his, as it turned out, last beer and cashed them out. He staggered toward the door, giving an old guy near him a bent elbow, sustained heart level and heart felt peace and love drug brotherhood handshake -- he might have told the old guy he loved him -- just before he left. Once he was out the door, a welcome duvet of quiet and relief blanketed the Inland Lounge.

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/18: Up Early for a Pancake Lesson, House Cleaning, Friday Uptown


1.  With the Deke on a visit back east and Maggie having restless nights -- and Charly doing whatever Maggie does! --, I have some unusual mornings. This morning, Maggie woke me up shortly after 3 a.m. to eat (again) and once I was up, I decided to stay up. I didn't want to sleep through our 6 a.m. breakfast get together at Sam's, so I didn't go back to bed but fired up my laptop and got some writing done and drank some coffee. Breakfast was a lot of fun, especially the moment when Jerry ordered a pancake with bacon and eggs and, once it arrived, pulled a jar of Jif creamy peanut butter out of his jacket pocket. Jerry then instructed Ed, Scott, Buff, and me in the fine art of perfectly preparing a pancake: thick layer of Jiff, generous amount of syrup, and top it off with the two eggs.

2. Back home after breakfast, I went back to bed and slept off my early rising and, feeling much better by noon or so, cleaned up the kitchen, with special attention to the stove surfaces. I also laundered sheets and towels and some clothes, motivated by knowing I'd be sleeping in a bed with fresh sheets tonight.

3.  I met Ed uptown at the Elks for a Friday night burger and fries. Before long, Bev, Maxine, Jake, Carol Lee, Bucky, Debbie, and Shirley joined us and we had a lot of fun yakkin'. Before settling in at our table, I went back to the kitchen to say hello to a Dick and Floyd's slow pitch softball teammate and fellow Zinc Plant alum, Keith Green. Keith is a seasoned grill cook, having gained invaluable experience over 45 years ago when he slung burgers (the Lane Burger!) and other fine meals out of the kitchen at the Kopper Keg. I think I remember that the practice at the Kopper Keg was to deep fry the burger patty, but, not at the Elks. These burgers are fried the right way, on the grill.

After a burger and fries, I darted across the street to the Inland Lounge for a great conversation with Mike Grebil. Mike expressed his gratitude for the work Mom did with his son -- was it more than one?
-- in the school district's gifted student program and we talked about those good old days of History Day projects and state competition in Boise. Mike's son was too young to qualify for a trip to the national competition in Washington, D. C. I very much enjoyed listening to the glowing things Mike had to say about Mom's work.

Three Beautiful Things 04/05/18: Road Trip to Saltese, Visiting Goose, Enigmas and Ambiguity in Joseph Mitchell's Writing


1. The rain and chill made it unpleasant to do outdoor chores around their home on Rose Lake, so Jake and Carol Lee decided Thursday would be a good day for ride to Montana to have lunch, do some light gambling, and go see Goose at Stangs Food Center and Liquor Store in St. Regis.

So Jake and Carol Lee picked up Ed in Kingston and picked me up just before noon and we humped it over Lookout Pass and glided into the quiet of Saltese, MT and made ourselves at home at the Old Montana Bar and Grill.  I enjoyed a thick burger on a brioche bun with a side of beer battered fries and washed it down with the King of Beers. Since I usually drink craft beers, I was startled by my first sip of Budweiser at how sweet it tasted. I did a double take, wondering if I'd been served a can of pop instead of beer, but I almost immediately settled down within myself and realized that the Bud is a maltier beer, properly known as barley pop.

We did some good yakkin' at our table. After we ate, we all took a seat at a different gaming machine and played for a little while and each one of us left the Old Montana Bar and Grill with a little more money than we came in with. That doesn't happen very often.

2. We piled back into the Jacobs-mobile and made our way to St. Regis to pay Goose a visit at Stangs, where he and Mother Goose, Janice, own and operate their fine grocery and liquor store. Mother Goose had to get Goose on the horn and have him return to the store from home. He arrived and we had a lot of fun standing around, eating snickerdoodle cookies, and finding out how things are going in St. Regis and about the trip Goose and a bunch of other guys took a month ago to Lewiston to play golf and hang out with Don Knott. Goose, Jake, and I swapped gout/arthritis stories and I filed away some of what they had to say, thinking it might be helpful if I have another flare up. Before leaving St. Regis, we stopped for a short visit in another little gaming room. This visit ate into my winnings a bit and I resigned from playing pretty quickly, sensing that that the machines in this room and I were not on good terms.

3. Back home, I napped and then dove back into some more of Joseph Mitchell's writing. I read a Christmas story he wrote five years into the Great Depression about a couple who were destitute and lived in a cave in Central Park. Mitchell interviewed them and his story attracted a lot of attention around New York City, but I won't give away what happened after the piece was published. I will say, though, as with much of Mitchell's writing, the accumulation of details about this couple increases their story's ambiguity, making the story for me, an enigmatic one. By the way, this reminds me of something I used to try to explain to my Shakespeare students. Rich ambiguity results, not from the withholding of details, but from copious details. The more we learn, for example, about Macbeth, the more ambiguous, even mysterious, his character is to us. I have to chuckle. This point reminds me of minor arguments I had, from time to time, with writing students when I suggested they develop more detail in their compositions. Often, their response would be, "I was trying to create ambiguity." I would almost imperceptibly sigh within myself and then try, with mixed success, to explain that ambiguity doesn't result from underwriting something, but from fully developing the contradictory nature of most ideas worth writing and thinking about.

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/18: Watching the Masters Par 3 in Bayview, Back to Slate Creek, New York Beer


1. I dropped by Byrdman's house in CdA around 11:30 and we buzzed up to Bayview, ID to visit Kim and Tim's handsome, multi-level house perched above Lake Pend Oreille. Stephanie (Mrs. Byrdman) is house sitting while Kim and Tim are on a trip. Byrdman and I arrived, toured Kim and Tim's house, admired their spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding mountains -- the Green Monarchs, I think.Stephanie fixed us a very tasty lunch featuring grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, making delicious use of leftover Easter Day ham.Byrdman and I settled down in front of ESPN's broadcast of the Par 3 contest at Augusta National Golf Club. The contest is a relaxed competition, giving the participants an informal contest in which they can goof off with each other, include family members in the contest, and compete for a trophy.Little did Byrdman and I know that we would be watching a nearly miraculous golfing event. The first miracle was that Tom Watson, age 68, won the competition and ESPN gave a ton of air time to Watson and the other two golfing legends he played with, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.  We loved seeing these players we've been following for over fifty years make brilliant shots and some long putts while savoring one another's company. My mind swirled with memories of watching Watson, Nicklaus, and Player play scintillating golf back when I was a teenager and on into my twenties and thirties.So watching these legends was awesome enough. Then, on the ninth hole, Jack Nicklaus invited his fifteen year old grandson, GT, to take a break from caddying for him, and strike a shot from the ninth tee.In blue tennis shoes, wearing his white caddy's jumpsuit, GT struck a gorgeous shot that soared high over Ike's pond, landed on a downslope and spun back slowly, surely toward the pin and, WOW!, dropped in the hole. GT aced the ninth hole! A miracle hole in one! He did it in the company of three of the greatest golfers ever and his feat moved his grandfather, The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, to tears.I have to write a few words of gratitude to the chilly, damp weather we experienced in North Idaho today.Had it been sunny and a little warmer out, Byrdman and I might very likely have been tromping around on some trail in nearby Farragut State Park and would have missed the thrilling 2018 Par 3 contest, surely the most memorable in the history of the Masters Week at Augusta National.2. Byrdman and I headed back to CdA and agreed to make a one beer stop at Slate Creek Brewing. Slate Creek closed back in October, but one of its former employees, Danica Gilbert, along with another buyer, Andy Neels, who lives in Alaska, bought the brewery and have reopened it.I loved being back in the cozy, concrete, and very friendly confines of Slate Creek again. Right now, Danica Gilbert is doing everything at the brewery: she brews beer, runs the taproom, pours the beer in the taproom, and keeps the building and the glassware clean. Her brewing capacity is limited right now, as is her time to brew, so she serves Slate Creek beer only as it is available, but the guest taps were awesome, including offerings from 12 String, Mad Bomber, Radio Brewing, Post Falls Brewing, Icicle Brewing, and others. She also has four ciders on tap, a tap open for Rainier Beer, and she sells wine.I was happy that she is continuing the Slate Creek tradition of making peanuts available to all customers, on the house, and that the shells still go on the floor.So, I ordered a pint of 12 String's malty and warming Tremelo Scotch Ale, continued yakkin' with Byrdman, and enjoyed that Danica Gilbert took a few minutes to update Byrdman and me on[...]

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/18: Taxes Filed, Chicken Roasted, More Joseph Mitchell


1. It took a while for the Deke's W-2 to arrive from Prince George's County. I took time to do some preliminary scouring of our bank statements. I'd already done a good job of keeping tax documents organized. Then, this morning, the spirit moved me to sit down and pull it all together and fill out Federal, Maryland, and Idaho tax forms and I finished. I filed them. I heard back that all three entities accepted our returns.  What with Mom's taxes filed, the Deke's and my joint return filed, and estate papers signed and turned back into the attorney's office, I spent some part of this afternoon feeling a little bit lost. These home business matters have been on my mind quite a bit and having them taken care of left me wondering what to do with myself. So, I took a nap!

2. On Sunday, I roasted a whole chicken using the high heat method. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and oregano and cut a lemon in half and put the chunks in the chicken's cavity. I cranked up the oven to 450 degrees and roasted for a little over an hour until the meat temperature read 160 degrees. The chicken rested for about fifteen minutes or so and then I carved it. To my delight and astonishment, the meat was not only cooked through, it was moist and tasted great. I had roasted the chicken in the Dutch over and the bottom of the Dutch oven was covered with delicious looking chicken grease and bits and I decided to put the carcass on top of this fatty source of flavor, nearly cover the carcass with water, add some celery tops and leaves I always have on hand, a coarsely chopped onion, a couple of bay leaves, and some seasonings and make some chicken broth.

I've been making tons of stock in the crock pot, letting it bubble away for 5-7 days. These stocks are dark, intense, and very rich. The broth I made on Sunday came out very flavorful and is lighter, both in color and texture.

I bring this up now because with this broth I've made chicken soup on Monday and Tuesday nights that I loved. I probably should say it's chicken vegetable soup featuring broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and carrots. I still have another soup dinner waiting in the refrigerator to be warmed up.

In short, I got a lot of mileage out of this chicken. I've eaten the drumsticks and wings at lunch time, made a delicious green chicken salad, occasionally snacked on chicken pieces during the day, and I made three dinners worth of soup.

3.  I relaxed this evening with another profile from the collection of Joseph Mitchell anthology, Up in the Old Hotel. The stories I'm reading now were originally published in the late 1930s and on into the 1940s. It's fun to have the world of the Bowery and the Village and the Lower East Side opened up to me and to meet characters with names like Dutch, Chinatown Nellie, Big Tim, The Rummager, Sarsaparilla Reilly, Boo Boo, Big Yaffie, Little Yaffie, Eddie the Plague, Swiss Cheese, Gin Buck and others and learn more about the saloons, gin mills, ballrooms, diners, and other haunts they populate and where they hustle, grift, run their yaps, form syndicates, gamble, sponsor balls, and otherwise lead lives completely unknown to me.

Three Beautiful Things 04/02/18: Engagement!, Estate Business, Remembering 2017


1. Today my pocket computer chimed with a notification. When I checked my messages, I saw a picture of Adrienne and Josh, a lovely picture, and Adrienne was wearing a ring I hadn't seen before. It's an engagement ring! Today, Josh proposed marriage to Adrienne and she accepted. I am very happy for Josh and Adrienne -- and, for Jack -- and it makes me very happy that they announced their engagement while the Deke was visiting and that they could toast their engagement  together.

2. This morning I picked up papers at the attorney's office that will bring the settlement of Mom's estate to a close. Christy, Carol, and I all signed statements saying we were satisfied with how we divided the estate among ourselves. We will have these papers dated and notarized once Mom's tax refunds arrive and I have deposited the checks in the estate account and made one last division of funds. Then I can officially retire my responsibilities as executor.

3. The Deke and I paid more money out of pocket than usual in 2017 for medical expenses. I scoured our bank statements and totaled up how much we spent, just in case it makes a difference when I file our tax returns.  It might not, but the fun part of going line by line through those statements is having many memories of fun times in 2017 return: touring Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City with Ed and Mike; the little trip the Deke and I took down to Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown; the drive the Deke and I made across the country in order to move back to Kellogg; those Sunday visits the Deke and I often made to DC Brau; the Deke and I seeing Sunday in the Park with George and The Glass Menagerie in New York City and going to hear Chanticleer at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. 

This scouring of our bank records also brought back thoughts, feelings, and memories of my trip in April to see Mom, the last time I saw her in her own house, and my return to Kellogg in June to be with Mom and Christy and Carol until Mom died in August. So, I got the tax business I wanted to finish taken care of and I also relived one of the most eventful years of my life, a year of joy, excitement, and profound loss. 

Three Beautiful Things 04/01/18: Where Are They Now?, Contemplating Death to Life, Family Dinner


1.  I spent the day writing, with a couple of periods of sleep mixed in. I was up at 4:00 (or was it 4:30?) this morning to feed Maggie and Charly and decided not to go back to bed. When writing my 3BTs, I went down a most enjoyable rabbit hole on the World Wide Web, looking at what kinds of music Peter Bach and Dave Coey and Michael Walker of Nine Days Wonder are playing these days. It is sweet to continue remembering those days I loved when I was between 35 and 45 years old at the WOW Hall and to recapture them in some small ways. 

I spent much of the rest of the day composing pieces in response to three different Sibling Assignment questions and when Christy and Carol finish theirs, I will post mine in conjunction with theirs.

2. It being Easter, it was a good day to reflect upon the ways life coming out of death happens around us all the time. I contemplate this a lot, not just on Easter, but on Easter Sunday I think about this reality more intently, experiencing the truths of resurrection as ongoing, in the present tense. That specific moment of "He is risen" is eternal, continuous, always with us in countless ways in our relationships, in acts of forgiveness, in accepting forgiveness, in the vitality of grace, in the world of nature, in communities of people, and in mundane details of our day to day lives. It's a theological and a secular reality. The story of Jesus magnifies this reality, helps us see a widespread truth enacted in a single, stirring story.

3. Christy, Everett, Carol, Paul and I congregated at Carol and Paul's house for family dinner.  Carol prepared a delicious salad for starters and for the main course she roasted a chicken moistened by a ton of butter and flavored with a variety of herbs along with garlic and lemon. She served tender stalks of asparagus and, having handmade a batch of mayonnaise, she fixed deviled eggs. We talked about all that's coming up this month: remodeling projects, garden and yard plans, Mom's Day at the Univ. of Idaho, getting close to finalizing the closing of Mom's estate, and Christy's Easter Day tribulations dealing with her Dish television hook up. I'd say Christy had an Easter Day experience of resurrection with electronics in her house as different devices seemed (nearly) dead and have now come back to life again!

Three Beautiful Things 03/31/18: Best Shots Trolls Duke Fans, Nine Days Wonder, The Deke at Defiant


1. I finished writing this morning.  I drank a couple of cups of the smoky, dark chocolate-y SilverCup Midnight Blend, my favorite coffee, roasted at Silvercup Coffee, right here in Kellogg. I was enjoying the still morning, my solitude, thinking about the Deke traveling to New York today, happy that she gets to see Adrienne and Jack and hang out in Nyack, a place we love to visit. I thought it might be fun to continue reading profiles by Joseph Mitchell over breakfast somewhere, and, after some deliberation, decided to go to Best Shots. Their breakfast portions are a little smaller than Sam's and that sounded good to me and it's often quiet at Best Shots first thing in the morning and I thought I might be able to continue feeling the sense of ease I was enjoying this morning and have been feeling for a while now.I walked up the ramp to the entry of Best Shots and a guy I didn't know was coming out, a can of snoose in hand, loading himself up a pinch between his cheek and gum, and we nodded at each other and I asked him how it was going and he said he was doing great and he walked a few steps and just as I was ready to pull open the door and he exclaimed to me, "Hey, buddy! You'll love it in there! You can watch Kansas beat Duke all over again!" and he laughed and strode to his pickup. He was right. A couple of the televisions were running the last minutes of regulation and the overtime period of last Sunday's 85-81 thriller, Kansas over Duke, over and over again. If there are Duke fans in the Silver Valley, I haven't met them, but I sure talk to plenty of "anyone but Duke" fans. My guess is that Best Shots was running this part of the game over and over again so that fans could exult repeatedly in Duke being eliminated from the NCAA tournament. If any Dukies came into the Best Shots, they should get ready to be trolled, ready for a pretty sick burn.2. Friday, I had been in the basement looking for The Story of the Weeping Camel, a DVD I thought for sure I hadn't given away when we moved from Greenbelt (but it looks like I was wrong), when I discovered I had kept a favorite old CD, Left of Center, by the Eugene jam band, Nine Days Wonder.  Nine Days Wonder played regular gigs at the WOW Hall late in the 1980s on into the early 1990s. I can't tell you the exact lifespan of the band, but I do know that starting some time in 1989, I started going to their shows whenever I could. Listening to the CD in the car today reminded me of all the dislocation, uncertainty, inner chaos, and longing for security I felt during those years. Those Nine Days Wonder shows, along with shows they shared with Little Women or other shows I went to by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Zero, Widespread Panic, and other jam bands delivered me back then, temporarily, out of my inward torment into states of ecstasy, especially when dancing. The gratitude I felt back then for these bands and that music engulfed me today in the Sube as I listened to this Nine Days Wonder CD and remembered all that solitary dancing on the WOW Hall dance floor and the release and the sense of togetherness I felt with so many others  who were otherwise strangers to me, and my wish, at the time, that I didn't have to return home or face my academic failings or my job uncertainty, but that my life could be one long sweaty formless dance.3. Ed needed to pick up a roll of snoose today down at the Fightin' Creek Market on the CdA Reservation, so he invited me to join him and to go to the casino for a while. I both accepte[...]

Three Beautiful Things 03/30/18: Ed's in Boise, Midway Tavern, Dropping in at The Lounge


1. I was already up for the third or fourth time feeding the corgis (!) when Ed called at 5:30 a.m. It was his turn to buy breakfast this morning at Sam's.  Somehow he arranged with the pilot or with a tech guy or someone for a computer glitch to delay his flight from San Diego Thursday night a couple of hours or so which led to a missed connection.  He called me from the Boise airport, heartbroken, to let me know that he wouldn't be at breakfast and that he would miss his turn to buy. I thought to myself that he went to a lot of trouble just to get out of ponying up this morning, but we'll get him back next week -- and, I was relieved later in the day when he called to tell me that he and Nancy made it home safely around 9:00 this morning.

2. I cleaned up the kitchen and tidied up the rest of the house this afternoon before heading up to the venerable Midway Tavern in Osburn to meet up with the crew of Wallace people who meet every Friday afternoon at a different Silver Valley bar to have a couple of beers, shoot the breeze, and get in some good laughs. I went up to the bar and ordered a can of Mountain Fresh Rainier and didn't realize that at this time of day on Fridays, at least, a can beer only cost a buck. I couldn't remember the last time I only paid a buck for a beer. I joined Rob and JoAnn at their table and had a great time looking back at times long gone by in the Silver Valley and remembering people we all knew in common. One fact came up that I had totally forgotten: for a time, the little grocery store next to the Trail Motel was owned by Mike Williams and was called Wee Willie's.

3. After an hour and a half or more at the Midway, I headed back to Kellogg and dropped in at the Inland Lounge to see who was hanging out there and to see how Cas was doing. I didn't stay long, but enjoyed some yakkin' with Cas and Doug Yrjana and shared a hearty handshake with Ed Miller, freshly returned from Arizona, and I talked some NCAA hoops with Becky who was in with a bunch of people from Radio Brewing.  I left after one beer. I was hungry. I needed to pick up a few things at Yoke's. On my way out the door, Julie Crnkovich told me about her upcoming trip to Vegas and Palm Springs. Knowing she's got a fun trip ahead of her made me very happy. I arrived home, cooked up a simple dinner, and was ready to go to bed and enter back into corgi night world. 

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/18: Road Trip to Spirit Lake, Lunch at Messy's, Quiet Time at Paragon


1.  Whenever I have been bouncing off the walls in the house for several days in a row; whenever I need a break from giving attention to taxes; whenever I grow weary from days of treating the gout, but happy I can begin to see metatarsals of my left foot -- then, I figure it's high time to leap into the Sube and drive to Spirit Lake, Idaho as soon as possible. Well, I didn't actually drive to Spirit Lake. I drove to  Byrdman's house in CdA and he drove us to the outskirts of Post Falls, through the city of Rathdrum, and on into Spirit Lake, Idaho.

Once there, we took a quick spin down to the northeast tip of the lake itself and then barreled into the downtown district, parked, and bellied up to the plank at the oldest continuous serving bar in Idaho, the Whitehorse Saloon and Hotel.  The seasoned bartender, Dolly, extended us a warm welcome and answered our questions about the joint.  She poured us each an unnamed seasonal beer from Samuel Adams. My crack research team has looked into Samuel Adams' seasonal beers and concluded that Nellie served us a Fresh as Helles, a lager with orange blossom flavor added. No music was playing at the Whitehorse, but if we needed some entertainment, an episode of NCIS played on a television overhead. Dolly moved on down the bar for a cigarette and to exchange hair salon horror stories with a customer she knew well.

2. After our beer, we crossed Maine Street and dropped into Messy's, a cozy family-owned burger joint we'd both read good things about. At the counter, decorated with a variety of America loving mottos, we established that we didn't qualify for the discounts available to veterans or other public servants (not to teachers!) and each ordered ourselves a burger with fries. The burger was superb. Not only was the meat cooked beautifully, the bun was toasted and a little crunchy, and tasted great.

3. We left Spirit Lake and returned to CdA via a quick descent into the mean streets of Athol where we made a quick inspection of the parking lot at the new Super 1. As we approached CdA, we had a tough choice to make: should we have a beer at Mad Bomber or Paragon on Government Way? Well, I thought Paragon was brewing their own beer now and I wanted to give it a try, so that's where we shuffled into.  Turns out Paragon hasn't begun to brew their own beer yet -- they are breaking ground for a space for their brewery. But, we each ordered ourselves a glass of Ninkasi's Pacific Rain, a pale ale, and enjoyed sipping on it slowly for a relaxing half hour or so.

So, we had a fun time touring, having a couple of beers, and eating a delicious lunch. I wanted to make sure to head back to Kellogg within the amount of time the Deke and I have agreed to leave the corgis in their crate, and I succeeded with time to spare.

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/18: Corgi Checkup, Tasty Hybrid Soup, Teri Sent Me Pictures of Mom


1. Maggie and Charly spent the day at Kellogg Pet Medical Center. They were due for some vaccinations, due for a check up, and it was time for them to be shampooed and groomed. The Deke made this appointment for the corgis before she left for Maryland/New York and wondered if we might find out if we can do anything about Maggie's new habit of waking up every couple of hours during the night, wanting to eat. The vet couldn't give us any definite answers. He speculated that Maggie might have Cushing's Disease, but when he listed symptoms to me, Maggie shows none of them outside of increased hunger -- but this increased hunger is only a nighttime phenomenon. The other possibility? Well, older dogs, and Maggie is nearly fourteen years old, can develop dementia and one symptom of canine dementia is sleep-wake cycle disturbance. I've read what other symptoms can be: pacing, anxiety, staring at walls (that's me), elimination disorders and I don't see much, if any, of these behaviors in Maggie.I talked with the Deke about my visit and we are going to wait and see how Maggie does over the next couple of weeks or so. The Deke returns in the middle of April. We will assess what I've seen in Maggie, she'll make her observations, and we'll go from there.The good news? No emergency. Even better news? Maggie is full of energy. When we go to the basement together, she bounds up the stairs upon our return. Her elimination habits are the same as they've always been and she's not having accidents in the house. She continues to be Charly's good friend with no signs of aggression.She simply wants to eat about every two hours through the night, beginning around 11 or midnight.I assured the Deke that this isn't annoying me, not making me mad. I know these wakings are coming every night and when Maggie starts to insist on a feeding, I just get up, feed the dogs a bit of food, give them a chance to go out in the back yard, and we all return to bed.2. I was just going about my day today, writing, listening to news podcasts, mailing out Mom's tax returns, talking with Christy, and so on when it suddenly struck me that I had the ingredients on hand for a potentially very delicious soup. I had a pound of ground beef on hand so I browned it and added celery and sliced mushrooms and broccoli to the meat. When these vegetables had softened, I pulled a quart of my homemade onion soup out of the refrigerator and poured it in. I let it heat up and, after a while, I added sour cream to this emerging soup and the result was a rich, savory, very tasty ground beef and onion stroganoff soup. It turns out this soup was a hybrid of onion soup I prepared after braising chicken thighs a couple of weeks ago, onions and liquid that were at the bottom of the pork roast braise I prepared for family dinner a little over a week ago, and the combination of ground beef, vegetables, and sour cream I already described. I'm very happy that I still have a bowl or so leftover to enjoy again in the near future.3. Through Facebook, Teri (Rucker) Brandt, KHS Class of 1972, several of my other classmates, and I are in contact with each other.  Teri informed me, possibly reminded me, that she visited her mother here in the Kellogg area in 2009 and, along with Doris Kerns, they paid Mom a visit. Today, Teri passed on to me pictures of that visit. These pictures startled me in a very good way. It had been a while since I'd seen pictures of Mom that I'd never see[...]

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/18: Executor Duties, The Deke in Maryland, Back to Joseph Mitchell


1.  As the executor of Mom's estate, I have a couple of things I need to do to take care of her business. I wrote a short letter to our attorney asking if the time has come to close Mom's estate and confirm that no claims have been made on her estate and that my sisters and I have complied with her wishes in her will. I hope to hear back pretty soon so we can get this business taken care of.My other task is to file Mom's tax returns. I've spent some time reading up on what filing for a deceased person requires and once I fired up TurboTax, I was happy to see that the software asked me all the questions about Mom's death that I was expecting. I finished her returns, printed them (they can't be e-filed), and, on Wednesday, I'll review my work, gather the appropriate documents, and mail them off.2. The Deke and I exchanged some text messages today. Not only is she having a good visit with the Diaz family, she is getting out and about in the greater Greenbelt/Beltsville area. Last week, the Deke sent me a picture of her and one of our favorite servers at Old Line, Cameron, and today she sent me a picture of Quench's proprietor, Mike, looking happy at work behind the bar.Sigh.It thrills me that the Deke is enjoying herself. At the same time, I ache to be in Maryland, Washington, D. C., and, soon, New York. I love being back in Kellogg, but, in moving back here, I was not looking to get out of the D. C. area. I hadn't had enough of the vibrancy and motion and vitality of urban life. We had many good reasons for moving back to Kellogg, but not one of them had to do with having had enough of living back east. Far from it. I loved being in the midst of such a beehive of variety and energy and I miss those days when I drove down to Union Station, parked the Sube, and took stunning walks among the monuments and museums of Washington, D. C.  I also loved the beers brewed back east.But, then I look out the window here in our living room in Kellogg and gaze upon the snow-capped Kellogg Peak and Wardner Peak and I think of the grand views of the hills surrounding Kellogg when I walk north on Main Street uptown and think of how much I enjoy my sisters and my friends here in Kellogg and ponder how fortunate I am to be here and fortunate that the Deke and I seized a certain moment and lived in Maryland for three years.3. Having said farewell to the world of Great Expectations, having said goodbye to Pip and Jaggers and Miss Havisham and Joe and Estella and rest of Dickens' unforgettable characters in this book, today I turned my attention to New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, back to the unforgettable men and women profiled in the writings of Joseph Mitchell. Today I dove into the lives of two Manhattan eccentrics: Joe Gould and Rev. James Jefferson Davis Hall.Joe Gould was a homeless Greenwich Village street intellectual, a Harvard graduate, who interviewed countless people as he compiled what he called his Oral History of Our Time, a rambling, unstructured, mind-boggling, largely unreadable, opus of stories, interpretations, and opinions scribbled into innumerable little notebooks. Rev. James Jefferson Davis Hall was a loud and restless and tireless Episcopalian priest who preached on street corners, in tavern doorways, in flop houses, on the telephone, and anywhere else he could be heard. Less than trying to impose any analysis upon these men, Mitchell writes in stunning detail a[...]