Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/22/14: Unpacking, Another Step, Molly's the Assembling Genius

1.  Unpacking boxes reminded me just what books, dvds, and cds I had decided to keep.

2.  Next step in getting moved to Maryland:  I called a shop and I will be taking the car there in the morning for a Maryland State Safety Inspection so I can then go get the car titled and registered.

3.  Cyclone Molly put her assembling skills to work for us again and put together the bed frame.  That's another giant step forward around the apartment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/21/14: Movers Arrived, Transplant -- Step One, Greenbelt Lake Trail in October

1.  About three hours earlier than  expected, the movers arrived at our apartment and moved the modest number of boxes, pictures, few pieces of furniture, mattress, bed frames, and the Deke's guitar and ukes into our home.  The bill was quite a bit less than had been estimated and it looks like this process of getting our stuff moved to Greenbelt, which began on June 19th, the day the movers arrived at 940 Madison and continued on Oct. 7 when our things were loaded onto the national truck in Eugene has come to an end.  Now it's up to us to figure out what to do with the books, pictures, and the other things that have arrived.  This is a relief.

2.  I went to the University of Maryland Medical Center website and looked at the video about kidney transplants presented by their transplant center.  Dr. Malik, my new kidney doctor, had recommended that I call UMMC.  So I did.  I have an appointment in March for an all day evaluation as to whether I qualify to be put on the transplant list.  I could have had this done sooner, but thought I'd wait until I return from Idaho.  I don't really know when I'm coming back, but now I know I'll be back a little while ahead of March 2nd when I have this evaluation done.  I don't mind saying:  this is nerve wracking.

3.  On Friday the 17th and Sunday the 19th I took pictures at Huntley Meadows and Greenbelt Lake and today I finally opened those files and looked at the pictures.  I thought one picture I took at Greenbelt Lake shows pretty well how beautiful the trail that goes around the lake is in many spots:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/20/14: Bethesda Nephrologist, Our Belongings, Dinner with Molly and Children

1.  Until today, Bethesda had always been, to me, the home of Congressional Country Club, host to a handful of major golf tournaments over the years.  Now it is the home of my new nephrologist's office.  I met with Dr. Malik today, a friendly knowledgeable man, I'd guess, in his early 30s,  and we talked about my kidney history and about starting the process of getting me on the Maryland transplant list.  I've known this was coming, even if the transplant is a few or several years down the road, but even if it is down the road, things have to be in place well ahead of time so that I can move up the list and have everything ready when the time comes.  He had me do blood work after our discussion and he'll get a hold of me if anything looks concerning to him, given my history of illness, but stability.

2.  A call came in from Eugene today about the belongings we were having shipped out to us.  It looks like they'll be here on the 21st.  How about that?

3.  So that I could have dinner with the Ethertons and meet my kidney doctor appointment with a peaceful mind, Molly and Hiram agreed to let the corgis stay with them until this afternoon.  I had planned to drive to Alexandria and pick them up, but Molly piled her children in her car, loaded up the corgis, and came for a visit.  She brought us all some Krispy Kremes for dessert and I combined the best of a couple of recipes and made a gingery, red peppery, slightly sweet dish of tofu, broccoli, mixed nuts, and Chinese noodles fried in sesame oil.  The dinner was a smash!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/19/14: Holy Cross Worship, Chilly Photo Stroll, The Deke is Back

1.  I drove, with much more ease, to Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Dunn Loring, and, like last week, had that great feeling of being spiritually at home again within the liturgy of the Eucharistic Rite II.  Again, I knew my fellow parishioners at St. Mary's 8:00 service were in worship at the same time and I felt bonded with them.  I saw Rev. Betsy Tesi again, a great comfort and a joy.  A parishioner of Holy Cross gave the sermon.  It was the best stewardship sermon I've ever heard. Desire.  Decision. Discipline. Delight.  I hope I'll always remember it.

2.  I took a windy, chilly photo stroll around Greenbelt Lake without the corgis.  They are at Molly and Hiram's until Monday afternoon and so my stroll was much more leisurely and I had time to stop and try out taking some pictures that would be difficult to do with them tugging on the leash.  I haven't looked at the pictures yet, but I will soon and am eager to see how they came out.

3.  I made it just fine to Reagan Airport and picked up the Deke after her awesome weekend in Chicago and with only one inexplicable hiccup, one period of trouble getting out of the Reagan maze, got home safely.  If I go to Reagan again, especially at night, I know what mistake not to repeat -- and how to compensate within my head for some lousy signage at the airport's exit.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/18/14: Sleep, Arundel Mills,Dinner at Dave and Diane Etherton's Farm

1.  I woke up at Hiram and Molly's after nearly ten hours of sleep.  It was the first uninterrupted night of sleep I've had in longer than I can remember.  Not once did I have to visit the bathroom and when I woke up I not only felt refreshed, I lay there and marveled at the rare experience I'd just had overnight.

2.  I decided to take a drive up the Baltimore Washington Parkway and check out Maryland Live!, the casino at Arundel Mills.  It was unlike any casino I've ever visited.  It's integrated into a sprawling mall of all kinds of stores, not a stand alone building along a freeway or highway like the casinos in Oregon and Idaho.  The gaming room is huge, with a great variety of card games, other games, and slot machines.  A large number of the machines were new to me, so I enjoyed playing the ones I got to and had good time not spending a lot of money and getting familiar with this casino which is about a half an hour away from Greenbelt.  I thought about the fun Ed and Jake and Mike I would have playing around at this place.

3.  The best part of the day came at the end.  I drove to Dave and Diane Etherton's farm near Bowie and not only saw the wonderful home they've moved into and the fine piece of land they live on, but got to have a few hours of fun conversation, a superb pork roast dinner, and couple of apple ciders.  I met two of Diane and Dave's daughters (Liese [sp?] and Ingrid) and learned a great deal about Dave and Diane's lives since Dave left Kellogg, graduated from the U of I, went to grad school at the U of Arizona, met and married Diane, and moved to Maryland.  Dave and I both graduated from the Class of 72 at KHS and it was really fun to account for all we have done in our lives since finishing high school in Kellogg.  It was a splendid evening.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/14: Relaxing in Huntley Meadows, Got Through Reagan, Cat Urine Shoes Gone

1.  The corgis and I took our daily morning walk around Greenbelt Lake, but then I took a bonus walk with my camera and by myself at Huntley Meadows near Hiram and Molly's.  I took a bunch of pictures, yet to come online, and enjoyed walking deep into the wetlands and forest and letting the beauty take me out of my petty anxieties and into deep relaxation.

2.  Today was the Deke's day to fly to Chicago and so I drove to Reagan National Airport and managed to find the correct lanes and take her to the right place and only got honked at (totally unnecessarily -- I think he saw my Oregon plates) once.  Good news came a couple hours later when the Deke texted me she arrived safely.

3.  I have a personal policy.  Maybe some of you share it.  When a pair of walking shoes begin to smell like cat urine, it's time to purchase a new pair.  I followed my policy today and bought a new pair of walking shoes and magically got ten bucks off when a guy handed me a card and woman took my phone number and suddenly I was under the spell of Sports Authority saving me cold cash.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/16/14: Corgis Draw Attention, A Diaz Visit, Lousy Pumpkin Cider

1.  As I walk around Greenbelt Lake with the corgis, more and more people continue to be unimpressed with the disheveled guy with his unkempt mop of gray hair trying to lower his blood pressure and lose a little weight but are more and more casting approving glances and smiles and making complimentary comments about Maggie and Charly.  It's as it should be.

2.  The often too too quiet of my day in the apartment was broken when Olivia and David arrived at Nana and Grandpa's with Molly and Hiram and all kinds of joy erupted.   The grandkids love visiting us and there seems to be plenty for them to do whether it's dominoes or coloring or sitting at the table and eating mac and cheese and talking about what our favorite color is or our favorite animal.  Molly and Hiram were fun, too, and we all enjoyed (thank goodness) the rice salad I made with jasmine rice, eggplant sauteed in garlic and covered with fresh lemon juice as it cooled, roasted almonds, tomato, fresh basil leaves, kalamata olives, feta cheese, garlic, and a little olive oil.I   Molly made and brought a very tasty salad dressing that we all thought enhanced the already flavorful salad.  We had a great dinner.

3.  I love beer and cider.  But every once in a while I have to make an executive decision and face the facts that sometimes a brewery fails in its efforts to make a fermented beverage.  Such was the case today.  I purchased a sixer of Harpoon Pumpkin Cider and it was awful.  I went ahead and drank one bottle to see if maybe the taste would grow on me, but it didn't.  Then, as a family, we all tasted from another bottle -- sour faces all the way around.  I surrendered.  I poured five bottles of Harpoon Pumpkin Cider down the drain and declared it the lousiest cider -- and maybe the lousiest fermented beverage -- I'd ever tasted. I've never surrendered like this before.  I've enjoyed other Harpoon products, but this one was awful.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/15/14: Humid Walk, Pretty Good Day, Eggplant Sandwiches

1.  I have experienced the humidity in June, July, August, and September in the area we recently moved to.  Today caught me by surprise.  The temperature was what I'd expect on an autumn morning -- in the 60s.  But, it was humid and so when the corgis and I went on our morning walk around Greenbelt Lake, I was not expected to work up quite the sweat I did on a morning with a temperature I thought of as pretty cool.  Ha!  Live and learn.

2.  As you must know by now, the third grade class at Robert Goddard French Immersion Elementary School where the Deke teaches has been a difficult group from kindergarten forward.  One of the mothers is a behavior specialist and, thanks to the Deke, she came to the school and made a presentation to the staff about child development and working with difficult children.  It helped the Deke a lot, as did two other things:  she's developing good relations with a couple of other staff members and the parents of this difficult group are totally in support of the Deke's work and her efforts.  When the Deke slid into the car today, for the first time in a long time, maybe the first time this school year, she said, "I didn't have a horrible day.  In fact, it was pretty good."  Everything about her was lighter in the evening and having this "pretty good day" was a boost to her morale.

3. I was going to make ratatouille for dinner tonight and, somehow, as I reflected upon the ingredients, I flashed back to Labor Day, 1997.  The Deke and I were just starting to see each other every day and we went to Opal Creek for a hike.  The Deke brought these delicious eggplant sandwiches for our lunch and I thought about how we hadn't eggplant sandwiches since.  So, I went to the Co-op and bought an eggplant, tomatoes, fresh basil, and two ciabatta rolls.  Once home, I made eggplant slices, salted them, soaked them in olive oil, fried them, cut the rolls in half, toasted them using a cast iron skillet and built a sandwich of fried eggplant, tomato, feta cheese, and fresh basil leaves.   My cooking often makes the Deke happy, but she liked this eggplant sandwich more than anything I've fixed in recent memory.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/14/14: Ongoing Transition, A Refreshing Harp Lager, Tofu and Broccoli

1.  I keep plugging away at trying to establish everything in Maryland:  what do I need to do to register the car?  What do I need to do to get a MD driver's license?  When will our auto insurance cards arrive?  What's happening with retirement accounts? What will electricity cost us here?  Any idea when our belongings might arrive from Eugene? Emails.  Phone calls.  Waiting for the mail. Learning.  I'll be very happy to have the business parts of this transition completed.

2.  When I crack open a well-chilled Harp Lager and chug the first icy draw from the bottle, I always wonder why I would ever drink any other beer.  It is one of the most crisp, refreshing, and satisfying beers I ever drink.  The one I drank tonight really hit the spot.

3.  I cruised down to the Co-op to buy some broccoli so that I could fix a broccoli and tofu over Chinese noodles recipe I had tried at Molly and Hiram's and wanted to cook again.  It's a great dish.  It's garlicy and the rice vinegar in the soy sauce/fish sauce coating gives the dish a bite that goes nicely with the garlic.  It made for a nice dinner for the Deke and me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/14: Corgi Fatigue, Aiello Brings It, Sunday in the Park

1.  This morning's walk around Greenbelt Lake was a success:  the corgis were still, tired out, for several hours.  Maggie is to much the guard dog to ever really sleep, it seems, but at least she lies quietly on the love seat, a big help in relieving my anxiety that the dogs are a bother to our neighbors in the apartment building.

2.  Danny Aiello was a great interview subject on the Diane Rehm Show this morning.  He told great stories, answered her questions sincerely and frankly, and even sang.

3.  I took pictures while walking Greenbelt Lake on Sunday, but didn't look at them until today.  Here are a few of them: