Saturday, October 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/24/14: Registered Marylander, Home Alone, The Deke's Instincts

1.  Sure, it took close to a couple of hours, but the Subaru is now a registered and titled vehicle in the state of Maryland, is the proud bearer of Chesapeake Bay plates with a heron on them, and I am not only a licensed driver in Maryland, but a registered voter.  The bonus?  Both of the women who helped me get everything taken care of were great to work with, friendly, knowledgeable, and, in the case of the registration woman, patient.  She was about my age with a good sense of humor and enjoyed me telling her that I find Maryland beautiful!

2.  For the first time since moving into our apartment home, I left the corgis home alone for a somewhat extended period of time while I was at the Motor Vehicle Administration.  I returned back to our apartment home and there were no angry residents of Lakeside North Apartment Homes waiting for me at my door to tell me to get my dogs to shut up; nor were there any angry notes on my door.  In fact, as best I can tell, the dogs were just fine in my absence.  I think they might be adjusting to life in our apartment home and are feeling at home themselves.  Let's hope.

3.  The Deke's third graders will always be difficult.  This is a given.  But, this evening the Deke told me of some ways she's doing some things that many of these students love and she had some good moments today.  Mainly (and this is my way of putting it) she's got to come at them from left field with stuff they don't expect.  The standard mode of operation at this school seems to center on worksheets (they are measurable) and the students, even at eight years old, know that math worksheet after math worksheet is an awful way to learn.  Worksheets are not in the Deke's teaching wheelhouse, but she's finding ways to do what is -- and get the worksheets done, too (I think).  Every night, she tells me about the challenges she faces.  Her work really tires her out.  But the Deke has strong teaching instincts and a very reliable moral compass and when she follows her instincts and is guided by her compass, especially with noisy, hyperactive children (yelling at them doesn't help one bit), things go better. Who knows, maybe as this year goes along, more and more of these students will come to see that the Deke doesn't not see them as worksheet machines, but as children whose curiosity she wants to excite.  And, she tells me every day that she's glad we moved to Maryland and that she enjoys our new apartment home. Me, too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/23/14: Lotsa Walking, Sube is Safe, Wendy's Settles the Nerves

1.  It was a great day for the corgis and me and our walking.  I dropped the Subaru off at the shop for a state inspection and the dogs and I walked from the shop to the lake, a new route for us, and around the lake, before heading home and then we walked back to the shop when the car was ready.  I'll just say that from Oct. 1 to Oct 20 my weight dropped seven pounds, according to scales in the docs' offices, and my blood pressure readings at home have been really good.

2.  The Subaru passed, needing only a bulb for a buck and a half and is now Maryland State Certified Safe and I can go to the Maryland Vehicles Administration and get the car registered and secure a state driver's license.  That's Friday's project.

3.  The Deke was pretty worn out after school and needed help unwinding late this afternoon -- I know this because she requested a hamburger.  So, I hustled down to Wendy's and picked up one for each of us, with no cheese, and brought home the magic Wendy's quarter pound relaxant.  It was kind of fun and once we dressed the burgers at home to our liking, they weren't too bad.  Once.

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.