Monday, September 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/14: Mom and Hiram, I Like the Euros More, It's Never Simple

1.  The picture Kai took of Mom and Hiram at the President's Own United States Marine Band concert Saturday night at Ferris High School in Spokane started making the rounds (went viral!) on Facebook and it was beautiful to see that Hiram got to meet Mom.  It was really good of Molly and Kai to take Mom and for all of them to have dinner afterward at Twig.  I talked to Mom this morning and she had a wonderful time and loved the concert.

2.  I feel some obligation, because I live in the USA, to pull for the USA in the Ryder Cup.  But I don't enjoy the American players that much and do enjoy most of the European players.  So, when the Europeans defeated the US once again, I didn't feel the sadness I've been conditioned to think I should feel.  I was happy for Rory and the lads on the European side.

3.  It won't be installed for another week, but after a few false starts, a call to the service center, and an act of surrender, we are on the calendar to have Internet service at our new apartment.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/14: Before Kohl's, At Kohl's, After Kohl's

1.  I found Kohl's.  I drove to Kingstowne center and drove for about forty-five minutes all over the parking lot, looking for Kohl's and it was nowhere so I found a parking spot and called the Deke, hoping she could help me find Kohl's.  Turns out Kohl's wasn't in the mall, but across the boulevard from the mall next to WalMart.  I was so relieved to have found Kohl's that I went straight to the East Asian Bistro and ate a bowl of Won Ton Soup and a plate of combo Lo Mein Noodles.  I, then, drove to Kohl's.

2.  At Kohl's I bought furnishings for the kitchen:  cast iron skillets, four sets of peacock Fiesta ware, silverware, a new ELECTRIC FRYING PAN, and some other things.  I was checked out by the nicest, most helpful checker in the world who helped me sign up for a Kohl's credit card so I got a 30 per cent discount on my purchase.  Therefore, when the 30 per cent off was combined with all the in store sales I took advantage of, I saved close to a million dollars today at Kohl's.  Later, I added to our kitchen supplies at Target.  I didn't save a million dollars at Target.

3.  After I found Kohl's, and after I saved a million dollars at Kohl's, I went to Giant and bought some Pumpking beer and a sampler six pack of Flying Dog Imperial Pumpkin, Devil's Backbone Pumpkin, Flying Dog Oyster Stout, Founder's Raspberry Ale, Southern Tier Porter, and a Festina Peche by Dogshead.  Allison, Molly, the Deke, and I all tried different beers.  The women knit.  I followed all the latest news on twitter and ESPN.  We capped off the evening when Allison surprised all of us by ordering about six or seven dishes of carry out Chinese food from Chin's kitchen.  What a climax!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/14: Lease Signed, The Pleasures of Dickens, Old Line Has Sour Ales!

1.  The Deke and I now have an apartment in Greenbelt, Maryland.  We have no furnishings, but we have an apartment.  We'll get to work on the stocking and the furnishing this weekend and we'll have a bit more to put in it when the moving truck arrives.  I'll hope that maybe we'll be somewhat settled in over the next week.

2.  I took the train to Greenbelt and figured out which bus goes from Greenbelt station to our apartment complex and spent a lot of time reading Great Expectations and I'm hooked.  The opening chapters are set in a marsh near a churchyard and involve two escaped convicts and no one I've ever read evokes the damp, dark, chill of a December marsh and the futile efforts of the human body to ward off the cold like Dickens.  In addition, no one can create a quick character, whether an escaped convict or a dopey uncle or a child beating sister or a pompous church clerk like Dickens.  

3.  With the signing of the lease under our belts, the Deke and I, upon Pete the lease guy's recommendation, went to Beltsville to Old Line Fine Wine, a former Circuit City building converted into a warehouse style store for bottles and cans of wine, beer, and spirits and a bistro with a seventeen tap taplist and pretty good food.  I enjoyed a 18th Anniversary Imperial IPA from Stone and a hoppy wheat -- maybe from Boulevard.  Great stuff.  We enjoyed the feta cheese caramelized onion flatbread, hot wings, and brussel sprouts fried in apple sesame sauce.

My highlight, though, was buying a bomber of Weyerbacher's Riserva, an American Wild Ale, or as I like to think of them, a sour ale, and this one was brewed with pureed raspberries and aged in oak barrels.  I've had a strong hankering for sour beer ever since I left Eugene.  The one sour I had a few weeks ago in Old Town Alexandria helped, and bringing this beer home and drinking part of the bottle was hugely satisfying.  Final note:  I am alone in our household in my love of sours -- so I did not have the pleasure of sharing the bottle or of enjoying the deep pleasures of sour ale with anyone else.....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/14: Pendleton's On, (Some of) Our Stuff, Allison Arrived

1.  It's good to know that Jake, Ed, Mike S., and I will be doin' our annual thing at the Wild Horse Casino in Pendleton:  gaming, eating, watching football, telling tall tales, insulting each other, and, most of all, relaxing.

2.  Yes, that's true.  I would have preferred to hear that the belongings we left in Eugene are on the truck and on their way to Greenbelt, MD.  But, not yet.  Nonetheless, I'm grateful to know what's what and can get going on moving into our apartment this weekend knowing what we've got and don't have and will definitely start buying what we need to start to furnish the joint and begin to stock the kitchen.

3.  Allison arrived from Chicago today and the kitchen buzzed with stories, laughter, knitting, beer, and wine, and I made my contribution by fixing a colorful stir fry with great variety and a pretty decent sauce.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/14: Eye Exam Soon, Peaches, Over Our Heads

1.  Two or three calls to eye exam places in Greenbelt, MD followed by a call to Moda in Portland and I got some good help and learned what I need to do to make my health insurance work for me and so I got an eye exam appointment in Beltsville, MD.  My new life has lots of belts.

2.  Rita wrote me a simple email after she read about my phone calls to get things straight with PERS and medical insurance and making appointments.  She brought back to life the closing of a Li-Young Lee poem we used to work with a lot back in our team teaching days, whether with students or with faculty at conferences and workshops we used to attend.  She brought back sweet memories to me and reminded me of the wisdom of the poem when she wrote:

These are the things that make life possible!

From joy to joy,
From wing to wing,
From blossom to blossom,
To sweet impossible blossom.

Maybe the meaning of this is private between Rita and me.  In might be inarticulable. Doesn't matter. The lines sweetened the rest of my day.

3.  The Deke's work at Robert Goddard French immersion school in Greenbelt is challenging in ways she has never experienced before in all her years working with children.  She's working hard to work with the great differences between the situation at Robert Goddard and in her work in Eugene.  The Deke, Molly, and I entered into deep conversation about it last night and figured nothing out.   It's over our heads.

If you'd like to read the whole Li-Young Lee poem, here it is:

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
- Li-Young Lee

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/14: Betty is the Woman, Rhea Comes Through, Sofie Soothes Me

1.  I hope I don't have to call PERS too many more times, but when I do, I pray that every time I call, Betty will answer the phone and help me.  With my move to a "permanent" address in Maryland, I needed to take care of some business regarding my pension and Betty hung in there with my nervous voice and my anxiety muddled mind and helped me understand just what was going on and what I need to do.  Ultimately, her kindest and most magical words were, "I'll mail you the forms."  I nearly fell to my knees.  I didn't have to navigate the sometimes confusing PERS website to find the forms or bother Molly to print them for me:  they are coming in the mail and I understand what they are!

2.   But my head didn't ache and my guts weren't knotted up just because of PERS.  I need to get back to seeing doctors again.  After my first call to Johns Hopkins, I copied my insurance card at Staples and had it faxed to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  I waited about two hours for a phone call:  would Johns Hopkins accept my insurance? Or was I screwed?  Wait.  Headache. Anxiety in my gut. More waiting.  The phone rang.  It was Rhea at Johns Hopkins.  The answer was yes and Rhea directed me to a clinic in Laurel and a nephrology center in Bethesda and I was on my way.  I have an internist appointment.  I have a kidney doctor appointment.  The anxiety lifted.  Both appointments are well in advance of my trip to Spokane/Kellogg/Pendleton.  I know these are the anxieties of being a privileged retiree, but, all the same, it's what I experienced.

3.  All that remains is eye exam and finding a dentist.  I'll do that tomorrow.  With the medical stuff taken care of and my anxiety relieved, I went straight to the icebox and cracked open a Goose Island Sofie and let its peppery, funky, orange peel Belgiumy goodness take the place of my anxiety.  A perfect antidote.  Things felt pretty good again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/14: Lego Puffin, Starting Over, Unseasoned Stir Fry

1.  David woke up before Molly returned from taking Olivia to school and so once he got settled in with a bowl of cereal, he asked if we could look at puffins again and so I called up puffin images on the laptop and David was most intrigued by the legos puffin.

2.  Soon, we'll be moving into our apartment and starting all over again with stocking the kitchen and furnishing the living room and other rooms.  I wrote lists, figuring out what we'll buy to get the stocking and furnishing underway.  It's fun to think about what my most basic needs are in the kitchen when I look at the kind of cooking I do most.  It's fairly simple.  (Near the top of the list? Electric frying pan!)

3.  I didn't season the zucchini, mushrooms, yellow summer squash, onion, celery, or cabbage when I stir fried them and the only thing I did with the Chinese noodles was fry them in sesame oil after boiling them.  I wanted to see if the flavor of the vegetables would carry the meal, maybe with some help, if the Deke or Molly so chose, with soy sauce.  The vegetables did carry the day.  Turns out this was an excellent combination of flavors and we all enjoyed tonight's dinner.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/14: WaPo and Charismatic Worship, Christina Makes Sushi, Panda Express Copycat, BONUS

1.  I closed myself off for a while upstairs and got started reading Sunday's Washington Post and followed other bits of news I'm following via twitter.  On the other side of the woods, behind Molly and Hiram's, the Faith United Methodist Church started an outdoor worship service at 11:00 so that I read about the events of the world, nation, and local area to the accompaniment of amplified Gospel/praise music and a vociferous sermon.  I couldn't hear the words, but I could hear the tone and passion and force of the pastor's delivery.

2.  On Sept. 19, NPR ran a story busting the myth that women can't make sushi, here. (I'd never heard that one.) (Tip o' the hat to Julie Fether for posting this article on twitter.)  As if to prove NPR's my busting correct, our next door neighbor, Christina, made sushi and generously shared a board of it with our household.  Here's a picture Christina took of her artistic, most tasty creation:

And here's Molly's picture:

3.  Well.  We had tofu in the fridge.  We had eggplant.  We had red pepper.  These ingredients along with minced garlic, Frank's hot sauce, a little sugar, fish sauce, and onion combined with Molly's making some perfect Hiram Rice were just what we needed to have a Copycat Panda Express Tofu and Eggplant dinner.  I figured, and this is not much of a boast, that since I wasn't making this dish for 180 people coming through a line in an airport and since it wasn't going to sit in a steamer for Lord knows how long, that my Tofu Eggplant dinner might be better than Panda Express.  And it was!  Ha!  Molly, the Deke, and I really enjoyed this dish.  A lot.

BONUS: I booked a flight to Spokane for November 5th, so my plan to go to the Wild Horse Casino in Pendleton on the weekend before Veterans Day and to stay in Kellogg with my mom during some part (if not all) of the winter is going to happen.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/14: Trudging in D. C., H Street Festival, New Salad

1.  How best to describe my folly?  Let's begin with D.C. streets.  In both the NW and NE parts of the D.C. quadrant, many street names are the same.  They are lettered streets and numbered streets.  So, today, when I got off the Metro train at Union Station, I wanted to go to H Street NE and about 4th.  I l left the station and started walking.  I found H Street and made my way toward 4th.  I got to 4th and there was no H Street Festival, my destination.  I kept trudging forward and suddenly I was in Chinatown.  Hmmm. I thought.  Does D. C. have two Chinatowns?  I kept going and arrived at the general area of the Verizon Center and realized I was on H Street NW, not H Street NE.  It was over eighty degrees and I was getting heated up, but, I decided to reverse myself and so I trudged to H Street NE, arrived at 4th Street, and lo and behold, I found the H Street Festival.

2.  After all this sidewalk walking in the afternoon heat, I was beat.  The H Street Festival was packed with people walking up and down H Street and with food vendors selling bbq, rice and noodles, sandwiches, and a host of other offerings; all kinds of clothes and jewelry vendors were out; I think there were eight music stages; politicians had volunteers out distributing pamphlets.  I was too tired to get my camera out and I took in what I could of the festival by walking around for about an hour and I headed back to Molly and Hiram's.  H Street, in case you're wondering, was a busy commercial area in the middle of the 20th century, had begun to decline, and was devastated by the riots and the fires set in the days following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.  It's been only in the last ten years or so that the area has recovered from the damage in 1968 and the festival is an annual celebration of a broken street and neighborhood recovering.

3.  I experimented with bits and pieces of a couple of recipes and made a ginger garlic sesame tofu-cold Chinese noodle-cabbage-red pepper salad that both the Deke and Molly enjoyed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/14: Puffins for Breakfast, Things Are Movin', Ninety Day Refill

1.  Usually David sleeps until Molly returns from either walking or driving Olivia to school.  This morning he woke up so I had put on my big boy grandpa pants and take care of him.  I poured him a bowl of Puffins breakfast cereal and then I brought up a series of pictures of puffins on the World Wide Web and David looked at, and enjoyed, puffins while eating his Puffins.

2.  I called the movers in Eugene on Wednesday and didn't hear back.  I don't think Sandy got the message to call me back.  So I called again this morning and talked with Sandy and everything got set in motion to have the belongings stored in Eugene moved to Greenbelt, MD.  I even managed to survive sending a fax at the Staples self-service fax machine.  I was so relieved to have succeeded my knees were wobbly in the parking lot.

3.  I got three of my prescriptions filled at Target and I was probably a little too excited when I got home and discovered that my atorvastatin calcium tablets cost a bit more than usual because I got a ninety day refill.  I am all for ninety day refills!