Friday, November 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/14: Mom Loves Ads, Invigorating Walk, Splendid Dinner

1.  My first deed after morning coffee was to drive the ten or twelve miles or so up to the Tribal Trails gas pumps and convenience store to purchase the Thanksgiving edition of the Spokesman Review.  I brought along Christy and Everett's two wheeled dolly so I could transport the paper, thick and heavy with Black Friday ads, out to the car and into the house.  Paper delivered, Mom began her traditional two hour Thanksgiving Oral Reading of the Ads -- an interpretive reading, replete with oooohs, grunts of disapproval, dramatic pauses, and well-placed emphasis.  It's been a few years since I've been with Mom on Thanksgiving Day and a few years since I've been entranced by what's on sale at J. C. Penney, Macy's, Fred Meyer, Staples, Target, and a host of other Spokane area stores.

2.  I finally took some pictures today for the first time since I left Maryland.  Of course, I left my card reader in Kellogg, so I can't look at the pictures, but snapping these photos was a part of a most welcome walk down the hill to the shores of Lake Roosevelt and back up again, a much needed forty minutes of exercise.

3.  With nary a hitch, we all worked together to make a dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, kuri squash, cranberry and ginger sauce, warm salad with brussel sprouts and apple, olives (green and black), pickled vegetables, yeast rolls, huckleberry jam, and some refreshing white wine, both sparkling and Riesling.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/14: Mom at Peace, Jimmy John's Initiation, Go Zags!

1.  The garbage collectors came before 10:00 and I put the garbage can back in the garage.  The mail was delivered at 10:30.  Once these events transpired, Mom was at peace.  We could hit the road and headed out to the greater Kettle Falls metro-rural area to spend Thanksgiving at Christy's.

2.  After picking up Christy's Christmas cards at Staples at Spokane's Northpointe Plaza on Highway 2, I had the honor of introducing Mom to Jimmy John's where we each devoured a Vito, a gourmet (ahem) salami sandwich that wan't too bad -- once we got about 100 little packets of yellow mustard and gave the salami and provolone and lettuce and onions and vinaigrette a welcome taste boost.

3.  Mom and I arrived at Christy's on the shores of Lake Roosevelt and, after enjoying a cold crisp stubbie bottle of Full Sail's Session Lager, I mixed Christy and Mom an old-fashioned and soon we sat down to a warming and delicious taco soup dinner and settled in to watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeat the Georgia Bulldogs.  Go Zags!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/14: Corrine at the 1313, Saving More Money, Wells Fargo Saga

1.  Back in the car.  Mom and I drove up to the high school and picked up Carol and the three of us buzzed up to Wallace and the 1313 Club, Historic Saloon and Grill, to have lunch with a family friend I've known my entire life, Corrine Turnbow.  It was lovely to see Corrine, to see how she's doing since she lost her husband, Gerry back in June, and to listen to her and Mom reminisce.

2.  Having scoured the ads and clipped coupons, Mom was ready to save more money, so we went to Stein's Family Foods and Yoke's Fresh Market and it was fun seeing Mary Pierce and finding out that Kenton's mom Amy thought I was cute while I was growing up and then seeing Abby at Stein's and debriefing the Saturday gathering of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys.  Saving all that money was fun, too.

3.  Over the weekend, Mom wrote me a check and today I took it up to the uptown Kellogg Wells Fargo Branch to cash it.  To complete this transaction, it took three employees, my driver's license, my passport, light interrogation, and nearly fifteen minutes of waiting while Wells Fargo, I guess, ran background checks, which seemed to include checking my credit rating, college grade point average, and batting average when I played for the Kellogg-Wallace Miners.  BUT, when employee number two (I think she might have been the branch manager) saw that my name was on Mom's bank account (a fact I had forgotten), the waters of the Wells Fargo Red Sea parted and she sent me down to the first teller I began with, who had just been handed the day's transactions from Stein's Family Foods and couldn't help me, so, while I waited, another teller suddenly appeared and she, after a few more questions, gave me the cash.

It was a relief.

Now I could jet down to the liquor store and complete the booze orders both Mom and Christy had given me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/14: Solving the Walker Puzzle, Seeing Mary Lynn, Food Bank Gratitude

1.  Mom is a member of the North Idaho Retired Educators and she really enjoys going to the organization's meetings -- but they are held in Post Falls and Mom doesn't really want to drive there.  Last week she asked me if I would drive her to today's meeting and chauffeur anyone else who needed a ride.  We drove uptown and picked up Barbara Fisher who has great difficulty getting around and needs a walker.  Barbara got to the car, folded herself into the front seat, and, while this was going on, I was trying every which way I could think of to get her walker into the trunk.  Mom saw me struggling and failing with putting the walker in at different angles, patiently trying to figure out how to solve this puzzle.

"It folds up, you know."

A sheepish look came over my face.  I didn't know.  But, yes, lo and behold, two "Press" buttons were conveniently a part of the walker.  I pressed them, and PRESTO, the walker folded up and fit perfectly into the trunk.

2.  The North Idaho Retired Educators meet at the Post Falls Senior Center, and Mom and Barbara extracted themselves from Mom's car and got inside without incident and I came in, checked in with with where Mom wanted to sit, and beelined over to Mary Lynn's table so I could have a sober talk with her.  Mary and I first met a couple of years ago at Whispers when I was near the end of a night on the town with Byrdman. I was intoxicated.  Even in my compromised condition, Mary impressed me as being a really good person, full of good humor and kindness.  My first impression has been solidified by her postings on Facebook, but, all the same, I've looked forward to seeing Mary again when I hadn't been out enjoying a few beers.   That happened today and I came away from this meeting very happy that a series of "it's a small world" events led to Mary and me meeting each other, sharing the many ways our lives are connected through mutual friends and her husband, and that I got to have some wonderful conversation with her today.

3. The North Idaho Retired Educators took up a collection for the Silver Valley Food Bank and I delivered it on their behalf when when Mom and I returned home.  Two people were there filling out forms to help them get assistance, the man who runs the place was on the phone helping someone work out a billing problem with Avista, and a woman came out of the back of the office and was most grateful when I handed over the envelope with the Retired Educators' donation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/14: Commode Convos, I Miss the Deke, Sunday Steak Dinner

1.  Mom and I continued our discussion of toilets and risers.  I dove into the World Wide Web, researching toilet styles and sizes, but I'd much rather do my investigation in actual brick and mortar stores.  Such investigation will happen -- but possibly later than sooner with luncheons on the calendar on Monday and Tuesday and a trip planned for Thanksgiving.   For those of you keeping track, Mom already has a tall toilet, but she'd like one that's even taller and elongated.  She also has a riser, but would like one with arms.

2.  It had been a while since the Deke and I talked.  Today we had an excellent email exchange with a follow up phone call.  I enjoyed getting caught up on some things and trying to work out some other stuff.  I must say, though, I sure enjoy talking more in person than on the phone, but our current situation is what it is.  Anyone have a teletransporter you aren't using and that I could borrow?

3.  My kitchen takeover continues.  Here's what Mom does:  when chops, roasts, steaks, legs, wings, and other cuts of meat go on sale, she buys some and freezes them.  We are working our way through the freezer.  This morning, Mom pulled out a couple of sirloin steaks and I fried some potatoes, heated up a can of Western Family whole corn kernels, and made a cabbage salad that included chopped up turnips, green onions, and radishes left over from the vegetable plate we had last week. Mom baked a couple of baguettes.  The bread was a splendid addition to our steak dinner.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/14: Making Mom's Life Easier, Blood Pressure Relief, Hall of Fame of Great Guys

1.  The things Mom needs help with adds up a little more all the time.  I can tell that every little think is getting a little more difficult.  Nothing is getting easier.  Today we continued our discussion regarding the height of toilet seats and I have begun looking into both a riser with arms attached and we are looking at the possibility of new and (if possible) higher toilet for her bathroom.

2.  I borrowed Mom's blood pressure monitor today and I got an astronomical reading with the systolic number at 201.  I couldn't believe my eyes and, so, when I went to Wal-Mart to do a little shopping for Mom, I used the blood pressure machine out there and the reading was much, much, much better and saved me a trip to the ER.

3.  The Hall of Fame of Great Guys met at Knott's Landing this evening.  Our numbers were smaller than usual, but Lars, Abby, Donnie, and I had a great time watching some basketball, drinking some beer, eating great snacks, and having grilled cheeseburgers.  We told stories, remembered all kinds of people from our past, got caught up on some stuff, laughed, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  It was a great night with great guys.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/14: Thanks to Yoke's Pharm, Merry Times at Noah's, Travel Dreams

1.  The staff at Yoke's Pharmacy worked hard to fill my prescription, going the extra mile to do what I could have (or should have) done by calling Dr. Zachem in Eugene for permission to refill my medicine.  I didn't realize the order was expired and now I'll be sure to contact my doctor in Laurel before having a refill done again.  It might seem like a small thing that the pharmacist made this call for me.  All the same, I appreciated her efforts a lot.

2.  I had to wonder, while seated at the bar at Noah's Canteen with Ed, if working at Dave Smith Motors drives people to drink.  Quite a few employees were drinking hard and laughing it up.  One guy even brought his own mix:  he sat with a two liter bottle of Squirt in front of him and paid for his vodka and mixed his own drinks.  As we left Noah's, Ed and I agreed that it was fun to see Noah's Canteen so busy and to see so many people having so much fun.

3.  Across the crowded room, Ed and I saw Buff and Cathy come into Noah's Canteen and we went over to their table and joined them for couple more drinks and it was fun listening to Buff and Ed talk about their travels, whether to NoVa, Mexico, NYC, or New Zealand -- they got me thinking about whether the Deke and I might travel to somewhere cooler this summer when Maryland is blanketed by the annual duvet of heat and humidity.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/14: I'm Not Bill Murray, Golden Days of Game Shows, Uncle Chub and Uncle Red

1. It happened again.   "Is that Bill Murray?" I heard one kid ask another from close to the Spartacus machine near the men's restroom I just walked out of at the Coeur d'Alene Casino. I stopped.  I wished so badly I could have done an on-the-spot-spot-on impression of Bill Murray, but it's not in my minuscule repertoire.   I said, "Sorry, no" and smiled as one of the kids said, "Dude, you look just like him."  Killer.

2.  One of the things that's fun about going an occasional youtube.com free association tour is to unearth junk like episodes from "What's My Line?" or to look at a pilot of a show that never aired, called "What's the Law?"  I am reminded of television figures I had long forgotten about.  Henry Morgan.  Barry Nelson.  Wally Bruner.  Arlene Francis.  Soupy Sales.  Dorothy Kilgallen. I even got to relive the ineffable charm of John Charles Daly, the legendary host of "What's My Line?"  What will I look at next?  Footage of Garry Moore? Bud Collyer?  Bill Cullen? Jack Narz?

3.  I found out today that longtime friend Rick Taylor has a fascinating family tree which includes the mind-boggling fact that if he were to walk into the YMCA today and shoot around with Y-Ball legends Chub and Red Taylor, he would refer to them as Uncle Chub and Uncle Red.  I had no idea.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/14: Contact with Zelmo, The YMCA and Albi Sinks, Fixing a Linguine Dinner

1.  We have made contact.  Abby took a flyer today and shot Ed "Zelmo Beatty" Bailey an email and got an email back.  I haven't seen Zelmo since about 197? and so it was awesome to read his reply to Abby and find out what's going on in his life these days.  Abby and I are planning a call to Zelmo in Maui, with the speaker phone on, and see what more we can learn about the big guy.

2.  On my daily walk through town today I saved Mom more money by walking to Avista and Wells Fargo to pay bills for her.  I also strolled over to E. Portland and walked by the house we lived in until 1962 before we moved to the house I'm sitting in right now.  Earlier on my walk, it was all I could do not to walk up the steps of the former YMCA, past a Bud Lite bottle with foam frozen on the spout, and buzz in and play some basketball with Chub and Red Taylor or maybe get in some ping pong with local champ Tommy Hansen.  Two steps later, I nearly walked up the stairs of the Bunker Hill Employment Office to see of Albi Sinks (a.k.a. Alibi Stinks) could squeeze me into an opening back at the Zinc Plant Cell Room again.

3.  I continued my recent kitchen takeover and cooked up some linguine with a tomato and shrimp sauce, all in preparation for dinner with Paul, Carol, and Molly.  I was happy that everyone thought the meal was good.  I am starting to gain confidence that I can do a good job in Mom's kitchen, but I'm not getting cocky, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/14: Uptown Ghosts, I'm the New Cook, Monumental Turkey Decision

1.  Once again, no frigid hell winds of the polar vortex gripped Kellogg, so I walked in the still, cold air east on Cameron, scaled Hill Street, and strolled through downtown and made my way down Depot Hill, turned west on Cameron and returned home.  While uptown, I felt like I was in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the town I lived in had been evacuated and no one told me. The ghosts I saw uptown were friendly, though, drinking Olys and Heidelbergs with teenaged ghosts playing pinball at Dick and Floyd's, shopping at Pat's Grocery, filing in to worship at the United Church, and buying Matchbox cars in the basement of Gary's Drug.  

2.  I decided today was the day to offer to take over cooking duties for dinner.  It's always a tricky offer.  But, Mom gladly relinquished the kitchen to me, making me think my offer could have succeeded days earlier. I cooked up a (if I may say so) splendid pot of hamburger, turnip, carrot, celery, and onion soup, cooked in a tomato paste and water broth.  I'll be cooking dinner tomorrow night, too, and I'm thinking this might become a regular gig.

3.  Our family made a monumental decision today:  Mom and I will not be taking the turkey Mom won last year to Christy's house for Thanksgiving.  Christy will be able to earn a free turkey at Safeway in Colville by buying 44 thousand dollars worth of groceries, so that will be our Thanksgiving turkey. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the difficulty of landing a spaceship on a comet and 1 being turning up the volume of a television, this move by Christy moves the logistics of Thanksgiving Day from an 8 to about a 3.  We no longer have to figure out how to thaw Mom's turkey and transport it to Kettle Falls, a task which was taking on the magnitude of putting in the freeway through Kellogg.   For many of you, the transporting of a turkey from Kellogg to Kettle Falls, as well as thawing it,  might seem easy, but you don't know the half of what a topic of conversation this has been here at Mom's house and in our family.  When Christy and I talked about it at the Kibbie Dome during the Vandal football game, our conversation, including going on line to the USDA to read up on turkey thawing methods,  chewed up the whole second quarter.  It was a big deal.