Monday, March 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/15: Past and Present, Sacred and Secular, Frost and the Zags

1.  I can never keep this kind of stuff straight in my head, so I don't know if, for the church, Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, but, for me it does.  The Palm Sunday service packs a lot of drama in it, beginning with Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and before long the service features a congregational reading of the events leading up to the crucifixion and the crucifixion itself.  So, this is what happens: the Palm Sunday service takes us into the contrasting emotions of triumph of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and the horror of what followed -- betrayal, denial, despair, mob violence, and the capital punishment of Jesus.  And then, as Holy Week progresses, the services relive these events, beginning with the Last Supper on Maunday Thursday, the death of Jesus on Good Friday, the sweep of biblical history on Saturday in the Easter Vigil service, and the celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday. As much as anything, I experience my personal history at the United Church of Kellogg, my days at Whitworth College, and my years at St. Mary's Episcopal Church the most deeply during this week -- sunrise service in Kellogg, turning the campus into stations of biblical history at Whitworth, including a sunrise service, and the dignity of Holy Week services at St. Mary's.  It all poured into my memory this morning at St. Andrew's, College Park today and I had that scintillating experience of being physically in one place, but spiritually in many places during the course of today's service.

2.  Just in case I would happen to lose track of my residence in the secular world, I went for a cinnamon raisin bagel and cream cheese at College Park's Bagel Place after church where the place was packed with University of Maryland students, some just getting out of bed at noon, enjoying bagel breakfast sandwiches and others with laptops open, doing schoolwork.  For me, this is what my life has always been about, the living in the tension between the sacred and the secular, relishing both, and today, as morning turned into afternoon, this bagel shop gave me entry back into the world where I spend most of my hours and days.

3. I double tasked late in the afternoon, keeping an eye on the developments in the Duke-Gonzaga game by checking the score on and watching an intriguing episode of A Touch of Frost. The episode focused on race relations in the fictional town of Denton and an attempt by Supt. Mullet to diversify the police force.  It was fascinating to see Jack Frost duped by his white informant, who carried a grudge against the black father of her child, into thinking a string of robberies in Denton had been carried out by black residents of a Denton housing project.  Sadly, Duke defeated the Zags and Inspector Frost uncovered the truth, all in a close to two hour time frame.  I experienced more emotional contrast on this most interesting Palm Sunday.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/15: Mom Sounds Strong, Candyland!, Existential Jack Frost

1.  MOM UPDATE:  It's not easy to patch a phone call through to Mom these days.  What with a CNA coming to her house to help clean her and do some light housekeeping, a physical therapist visiting, an occupational therapist visiting, and with Pat Elfsten delivering a new medical lift chair to her house, it's a whirlwind at her place.  Finally, shortly after 7 EST, I was able to get a call in and Mom sounded strong and most appreciative of all the help she's getting from family and the professionals.  About ten minutes into our talk, the doorbell rang and Pat had arrived to deliver the new chair.  I'll have to see tomorrow if I can get on Mom's social schedule (ha!) and get another call through -- but, good news.  The Roberts are taking her across the church to the church, they have borrowed a wheelchair, and Mom will get to hear people from across the Silver Valley sing an Easter Cantata, directed by Joy Persoon.  Getting out, seeing some people, and hearing the music performed will be great medicine for her spirit.

2.  Molly and Olivia and David paid a visit this afternoon and the youngsters experienced an important rite of passage:  the Deke had bought the board game, Candyland, and the children played it for the first time.

3.  After Molly, the Deke, and I ate a steaming bowl of massaman curry over brown rice (next time, I'll make a thinner sauce and use less peanut butter), I watched a very satisfying episode of A Touch of Frost.  For Jack Frost, detective work becomes an existential crisis as, within himself, he wrestles with crime and the pointless deaths he investigates, giving him pause to silently wrestle with whether life has any real meaning -- or is life just a series of random and meaningless occurrences? Are they occurrences that a cop like himself must get to the bottom of to satisfy the law?  Doesn't he know know all the while that solving a case will never satisfy any craving he has to make sense of what happens in the world?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/15: Flowers for Mom, Great Walking Day, Zags and Inspector Lewis

1.  Christy and Everett bought Mom a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and here, two days after her surgery, sits Mom, enjoying the flowers, and you can see how she's holding up after being in the hospital:

2.  It was a great day for walking.  I returned by foot to the tax guy.  He had corrected the returns so that the Deke's name, not mine, was on them.  My route to his office took me part of the way around Greenbelt Lake, and then I picked up the trail again and finished walking the circumference of the lake and headed on home.  By day's end, thanks to a trip to the store and the library and a stroll down to the mailbox, I racked up about 9,000 steps, a great walking day.

3.  I tried to imagine how happy Christy must be, along with all the other fans of Gonzaga men's basketball I know in the greater Spokane-CdA-Kellogg metropolitan area, when the Zags defeated UCLA this evening, 74-62.  I double-tasked during the game, checking on periodically for scores while watching an unusual episode of Inspector Lewis about a writer of fantasy fiction and a murder committed with a magic mirror and a C. S. Lewis sword.  Honestly, sometimes, as I watch episodes of Inspector Lewis, it's as if the movie Blue Velvet were transported to Oxford -- the series examines a dark underbelly of weirdness existing underneath the intellectual and respectable and posh veneer of Oxford University life.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/26/15: Tax Error, Hint of Humidity, Lewis and Hathaway

1.  It was an easy mistake to make and Bill, the tax preparer will correct it this evening and I'll pick up the revised tax stuff on Friday:  he used my last name when the Deke's name popped up on the returns instead of her own name.  Ha!  It was kind of weird, having known her by her last name all these years, to have her appear on these returns with my last name.

2.  The temperature climbed up into the early 70s today, accompanied by showers and I got my first hint, in 2015, of the duvet of humidity we'll live with every day before long.

3.  I settled into another episode of Inspector Lewis and realized that the plots spun in this series don't interest me nearly as much as the way the series develops the character of Lewis and of Hathaway and develops their relationship.  The relationship is mostly professional, but friendship also emerges. Nothing about their relationship reminds me of anything I've seen before in pairs of cops, whether Cagney and Lacey or Friday and Gannon.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/25/15: Mom is Home, I'm Not a Photographer, The Deke Keeps it Real

1.  MOM UPDATE:  Mom returned home to Kellogg today after an overnight stay in the Post Falls hospital.  I called her and she talked almost non-stop for about a half an hour about the surgery, how happy she is with the care she received at the hospital, the private life of her male nurse, and then veered off into family news and her hopes of borrowing a wheelchair and attending the Easter Cantata on Sunday.  Almost the only things I said were, "Right" and "Yes" at key times, letting her know I was on the other end of the call listening.  Her nearly non-stop talking was a good sign to me that she is in good spirits, not in much pain, and, above all, came out of the surgery not only put back together, but with her mind sharp and active.

2.  I think one of the reasons I find it difficult to call myself a photographer is that I don't have the devotion and discipline many photographers have.  I read time and time again that what a photographer needs to do is always carry a camera.  I often, on purpose, don't carry a camera because there are times I don't want to see the things around me in terms of pictures and don't want to interrupt a walk or my contemplations by taking a picture.  Today I visited the National Park that sits right on the edge of Greenbelt -- Greenbelt Park.  It's kind of astonishing to have this wooded area with creeks and wild flowers sitting right between the Washingon-Baltimore Parkway, the cars zooming on Greenbelt Road and so close to the Captial Beltway.  I walked the Dogwood Trail and didn't bring my camera -- and, I have to admit, I regretted my decision a bit when about 200 yards into my hike, two white-tailed deer walked about 200 feet in front of me, stopped and stared, and practically begged me to take their portrait.

3.  This evening the Deke told me about the aftermath of today's Honor Roll Assembly at her school. Once back in the classroom, several kids were crying, either because they hadn't received achievement certificates or only received one (out of a possible three).  The Deke sat them down on the classroom carpet.  This is what they do in her class when it's time to have a talk.  She invited them to talk about the assembly and why some children were crying and why others were so happy.  In other words, they took a break from test preparation and testing and talked.  The Deke asked her students why so many of them enjoyed knitting with her when no one got a certificate for that.  She had random students stand up and the children talked about what each of these students could be rewarded for (she is nice, she gets her homework in on time) that wasn't rewarded at the assembly. The Deke will never get these children to be quiet in class and they will continue to exhaust her, but then things like this happen when the Deke gives the children a way to be real, and it's inspiring to hear her talk about her work as a teacher.  She just never gives up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/24/15: Mom's Successful Surgery, Money, A Most Welcome Dinner

1.  MOM UPDATE:  Mom came through the surgery on her upper arm successfully.  She will stay in the hospital in Post Falls over night and be home after lunch on Wednesday, March 25.  The surgeon told Carol that once he saw it,  the fracture was worse than he thought.  As I understand it, he mended the fracture with a rod.  Carol will bring Mom home and then I'll learn more about what she'll do to recover and rehabilitate.

2.  It money day today.  I sat with the tax preparer for an hour or so figuring out the ramifications of a multi-state return and our move and so and so forth.  The results, so far, are favorable for us and we'll know the final verdict at the end of the week.  The Deke and I then had a sit down with our financial advisors and we are getting a clearer picture of what our financial future looks like.  This money stuff wears me out -- always has -- and I enjoyed coming home and enjoying a cold, fresh satisfying bottle of Port City Monument IPA, an easy, refreshing beer brewed in Alexandria.

3.  I made the Deke and me a green curry with eggplant, red peppers, and onion and served the coconut milky concoction over ramen noodles pan fried in sesame oil.  After the Deke had had a noisy day at school, we confronted our finances, and the Deke stood in a long line at CVS to get a prescription refill, this really tasty meal was most welcome.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/23/15: Surgery on the 24th, Staying Home, Lentil Stew

1.  MOM UPDATE:  Mom checks in at the hospital in Post Falls for surgery on Tuesday, March 24th at 11:15.  The surgery will happen some time later. Carol will be with her.  Carol has been getting help being with Mom from her daughters, Cosette and Zoe, and from our friend Francie.  It's a little bit of an unknown as to whether Mom will come home after the surgery or come back to Kellogg.

2.  I stayed in and got things done at home:  preparing for tax day tomorrow, setting up the Deke's laptop with our printer, unpacking some IKEA shelving, starting to scan transplant letters and records for electronic storage, and more.  I made myself stay in and it was worth it.

3.  In the midst of taking care of home stuff, I put together a very tasty lentil stew, a simple combo of onions, carrots, garlic, lentils, vegetable broth, water, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.  It was quick to make and both the Deke and I found it very satisfying.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Couple of Hours at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland

Saturday afternoon, I took a drive from Greenbelt to Sandy Point State Park, just over thirty miles, so I could have my first experience being at Chesapeake Bay.  In reading about Sandy Point before driving over, every one of the articles emphasized the views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge available at this park.  So, I fell right in line and took a few bridge pictures:

I walked behind the beach.   For some reason, I wasn't in the mood to walk in the sand. Here are some of the perspectives I had:

I discovered a short trail in a wooded are called the Blue Crab Trail and I walked it and took some pictures in color.  I especially enjoyed finding a little pond that was still topped with ice:

I also took some shadow pictures I enjoyed:

And from the Blue Crab Trail, I could see this Chesapeake Bay Lighthouse in the distance:

While on the trail, I took some black and white pictures, too:

I ended my visit to Sandy Point State Park by walking on some docks used, I think, by crabbers and for other purposes I'm sure I'll learn more about when I return.

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/15: Olivia and David Arrived, Deep Personal Church History, Laptop Tune-Up

1.  I went to Safeway early in the morning to replenish the pantry and when I returned, I could hear children's voices in our apartment home and, indeed, in my brief absence, Olivia and David had arrived for their day with Grandpa and Nana while Molly drove to Harrisburg to hear Hiram perform in the symphony.  Later, David and Olivia and I played the single die game the Deke invented -- the numbers 1-6 written down twice on a piece of paper, roll the die, and circle the number on the sheet of paper and try to get all the numbers circled.  I tried to teach the children what I learned from my father:  how to blow on the die and shake it under each arm pit.  This method didn't really catch on.

2.  I once again worshiped at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in College Park and, once again, it was unspectacular and deeply satisfying, not because the choir was amazing or because the sermon was out of sight -- they were both fairly run of the mill, and just fine -- in short, not because there were great performances.  No.  It was over an hour of prayer and meditation inside my personal deep history and the deep instutional history of the liturgy and of Lenten hymns that threw me back to spiritual experiences so deeply rooted inside of me, I couldn't specifically locate where I'd first sung them.  The United Church in Kellogg? First Pres. of Cd'A? Worship at Whitworth?  St. Mary's in Eugene?  Some of these places?  All of them?  I don't know -- I just know that the hymns gave me the deep satisfaction of being a part of a history of worship much larger than the moment I was in at St. Andrews, College Park.

3.  I had done the same thing with my laptop earlier in the morning and then I spent some time on the Deke's laptop, as well,  running security scans and getting a tiny bit of infection knocked out and tuning up our computers and they are running well.  I get kind of nervous about this kind of thing and it was a relief to me to spend some time doing this.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/21/15: Sandy Point State Park, Mom Update, Great Talk with Christy

1.  I took a drive over to Sandy Point State Park just outside Anapolis and enjoyed the Blue Crab trail, a stroll along the beach line, crabbing docks, the view of the Bay Bridge, and taking some pictures, pictures I haven't looked at yet.  The park has acres of parking which makes me think this is a very popular destination during the warmer times of the year.

2.  I had a good talk with Mom and she sounds good, though tired.  I think she sounds tired because people have been so good to her!  It's just great news that friends in Kellogg have been dropping in to check on her and that she's been getting some phone calls.  The visits, the phone calls, the cards she's received all mean the world to her.

3.  I had a good talk with Christy, too.  She's getting the hang of taking care of Mom -- by that I mean getting her pillows arranged when she goes to bed and other caretaking things that Carol has learned how to do and Christy is perfecting.  Christy also told me about changes Mom is willing to make so that more/all of her life is on the main floor of the house and she stays out of the basement.  Christy as shown her sets of stackable washers and driers that would fit in the kitchen and Mom is very interested.  This has been a long time coming and I'm not only relieved, but very happy that Mom is getting serious about making changes that will make her life in her home more safe.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/15: Letter from the Transplant Center, Helping Molly, Fun with Massaman

UPDATE:  On October 1, 2006, I started this modest project, a blog I named kellogg bloggin' and today, on March 21, 2015, I am posting my 3000th entry.If nothing else, I've stuck with it.

1.  I received in the mail today the official notice that I have been placed on the kidney transplant list and I learned what I need to do as far as informing the transplant center of a number of things, including travel, change in insurance plan, and if I have a change in address.  I will have blood drawn once a month.  I'll have heart tests run annually.  None of it sounds onerous.  I just have to remember. It makes me want to make a poster-sized reminder list and post it in a conspicuous spot in our apartment home.

2.  Molly arrived at our apartment home around 4:30 or so, bedraggled.  David had wet himself. Olivia was upset about a spill in the car.  She stripped David of his wet clothes and I laundered them. As I left to go pick up the Deke, Olivia was on a time out and David lay prone, wailing about not having his clothes.  I returned home with the Deke and things had calmed down and the children were happy to see their Nana.  It took a big load off Molly, who has been alone with the children for a day or two since Hiram went to Harrisburg recently for a symphony gig.  Soon enough, Olivia was eating quesadilla wedges and jasmine rice at the table and the Deke was reading Mike Mulligan and Steam Shovel to David.  I got David's clothes out of the drier and finished fixing dinner.  Later Molly, the children, and the Deke left to go back to Alexandria and the Deke and Olivia and David will be back here on Sunday and Molly will go to Harrisburg to hear the orchestra Hiram is working for perform.

3.  When I shopped at Hung Phat yesterday, I bought some massaman curry paste and was eager to give it a try and so I stir fried about 4 oz of paste, added a can of coconut milk, let it boil before adding kaffir leaves, fish sauce, lime juice, ginger slices, brown sugar, soy sauce, hot sauce, and white sugar; I brought it to a boil, let it simmer a bit and put in another can of coconut milk, and added in a pound of chicken and a chopped onion.  Once the chicken had cooked, I added green beans, roasted peanuts, peanut butter, and potatoes.  This was really fun, especially as the different aromas of the curry and peanuts and ginger and kaffir leaves rose out of the pot and it was most rewarding when Molly and the Deke enjoyed eating this curry over rice.   Half the coconut milk I used came out of the carton I use for my oatmeal in the morning and it is not as creamy as the canned coconut milk.  In the future, I will only used the creamier stuff in curry dishes.