Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/29/14: Long Walks, Sorting Papers, Giants Win and I'm Not Filled with Joy

1.  A couple of good long walks today, first with the dogs when we walked one and a half times around the lake because our walk started at the auto shop (120,000 mile service job and new rear brakes) and then I had to walk back to the shop.  I left the dogs behind in our apartment home and that seemed to work out all right.

2.  Finally, after moving and hauling around a green tub with miscellaneous cords and stuff and with the folders of our household papers, I nearly finished getting that stuff sorted out.  I want to have this done before I head to Kellogg next week.

3.  I have to admit:  somewhere along the line over the last 10-15 years, I lost my emotional involvement with baseball.  Baseball, like other sports, interests me, and I enjoy knowing what's going on, but I don't have the fire in my belly for specific teams I once had, don't feel the joy or disappointment I once felt when teams I root for succeed for fail.  This is too bad tonight because my longtime favorite baseball team, since 1962) the Giants, won the World Series for the third time in five years.  Had this happened when I was in my twenties or my thirties, I would be out of my mind with joy.  But, now, I'm not indifferent, but I don't get the rush I did when I was younger.  I can't explain it -- maybe it would be different if I watched the games on television...I don't know.  But, I appreciate their win from a baseball history point of view and I admire what a scrappy team this was and how incredibly Madison Bumgarner pitched, but that rush of joy I would have felt in my younger days just didn't happen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/28/14: Happy Birthday Dad, A More Peaceful Walk, Chicken Soup

1. Were he alive, Dad would have turned 84 today.  For some reason, my thoughts about him today were all about the language he used.  He had so many great phrases he dropped and many of them were vulgar and that made me laugh and still does.  The one thing people say about my dad over and over again to me when I'm home in Kellogg is that he always made them laugh with his stories and his sayings and his antics.  He loved his Kellogg friends, loved being around other people, especially when he was in his element (at home, in friends' houses, the Bunker Hill, the bar, the bowling alley, and the golf course), and people enjoyed him, too.

2.  Today's walk around Greenbelt Lake was most enjoyable under a clearing sky and we only encountered one dog, so Maggie didn't have to act like a Secret Service warning dog so much and it made our walk much more peaceful.

3.  Yesterday, the Deke requested a very specific dinner:  chicken soup with onion, garlic, and broccoli.  So I made it and I made it right -- it was just what the Deke hoped it would be.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/14: Misty Walk, Keeping It Clean, No Shop Rice Salad

1.  It was between 40 and 50 degrees as Charly and Maggie and I set out to walk around Greenbelt Lake this morning.  Mist hovered above the lake.  Red and golden leaves reflected off the water as the mist burned off.  Glorious.  Maggie was agitated on the leash because over the course of our walk we encountered four other dogs.  She was on high alert.  My camera wouldn't have been of much use to record this sublime scene.  Maggie required my focus.

2.  Up a half a flight of stairs and there's our buildings laundry room,  Regularly, people who work keeping up the apartment complex keep the room clean.  I got my laundry done today.  The machines were sparkling clean as was the floor.  Outside, workers mowed the expansive grounds.  Our rent helps cover  an impressive amount of upkeep around here, both in the buildings and on the grounds. It's great for morale.

3.  I didn't feel like going to the store so I decided I'd make dinner with whatever we had on hand.  Rice.  Tofu.  Garlic. Red pepper. Celery. Olive oil, Feta cheese. Almonds.  Lemon.  Oregano.  Fresh basil.  I cooked the rice and chilled it.  Fried up the tofu with garlic and chilled it.  Chopped the pepper and celery.  Mixed all the ingredients, squeezed a lemon over it all and poured some olive oil in the mix.  It's a great salad.  The Deke and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/26/14: St. Andrew's, Better Route to Reagan, Eggplant Pasta Sauce

1.  If I drove to Dunn Loring to worship at Holy Cross, I wouldn't see Rev. Betsy Tesi because she was involved in a retreat.  Therefore, I worshiped closer to home at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in College Park and I loved it.  For starters,the building is, for a USA church, old and built with huge stones and the grounds are colorfully landscaped with a variety of flowers and other foliage.  The church was very welcoming, the liturgy was filled with music, good old hymns and the choir (and the children's choir, and as we waited to go to the communion rail, we were in an aisle with the choir on both sides of us, like standing in headphones.  I'll see Betsy next Sunday.  Then it's off to Kellogg and when I return, Betsy will be done with her interim position, so I'll start worshiping regularly at St. Andrew's.

2.  I drove (trickled down?) to Reagan International Airport to pick up Hiram and drove the more efficient way on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (295) and then on a couple other spurs ending in -95 and I got the airport in no time.  I'd like to drive this route a few more times and get as acquainted with it as I have become with the Capital Beltway.  I had decided when I picked up the Deke at the airport last Sunday night, not to try this more efficient route at night and went with what I knew better.

3.  I made a pasta sauce with tomatoes, eggplant, red pepper, garlic, fresh basil, and oregano and combined with spaghetti, it worked really well -- and there is plenty leftover, a real plus.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/25/14: Cask ESB, The Vintage Vault, Black Raspberry Dessert

1.  The Deke and I drove down to Molly's and I took the car to Huntington Station, parked it, and took the Metro to Washington, D. C. and finally visited a bar that has, in its five years, become a nearly mythic destination for beer lovers:  The ChurchKey.  And, damn, did I ever pick the perfect day to go.  It's the fifth anniversary week at the ChruchKey and the Saturday, Oct. 25 event was to open the Vintage Vault and serve tasters out of vintage bottles of beer the joint has had around for a while.  Oh.  My. God.  Well, I got warmed up with a glass of cask beer.  I haven't had a cask ale or an ESB since leaving Eugene, so I enjoyed a Jake's ESB from Sly Fox Brewing of PA.  

2.  Then I dove into the vault.  I slowly relished a taster of Firestone's XV, then I had to have a taster of the divine Parabola from Firestone.  Drinking these beers with all their maply, sugary, figgy, cherry-y, boozy, chocolaty deliciousness was like having Christmas in October.  I really wished I'd had a beer loving friend seated next to me so we could talk about how awesome Firestone is.  Then it was time for a sour and, to my delight, Bruery's Tart of Darkness had been set free from the vault and its biting raisin-y brown ale goodness hit the spot.  These were all three oz tasters, so I cold swim a little deeper and ordered a Bink Grand Cru and I was in Belgium where I got to taste the molasses and cocoa and slight peppery qualities of a strong ale with the Belgian bonus of spice and yeast.

3.  I closed out my session with one last taster from the tap list and it was my dessert (and I wish Molly could have joined me for this one) and it took me back to Pottstown, PA and the Sly Fox Brewery.  And what a dessert it was:  Black Raspberry Reserve, a sweet, fruity wheat beer featuring a pound of  black and red raspberries per gallon of beer.  It was like ending my session with a homemade cobbler, but not a la mode.  I thought of so many friends I wished were with me, helping the ChurchKey celebrate number five and joining in on the opening of the Vintage Vault...and, by the way, thank goodness for the 3 oz taster...I could do some excellent sampling and walk out of the place and still be pretty steady!

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!