Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/15: Routine, Remembering Ted, Pizza at the Diaz House

1. It's a monthly routine that's easy, but I must always remember to get it done, and today I went to LabCorp and had blood drawn so that the Transplant Center at the University of Maryland has a fresh sample of my blood every thirty days.

2. I spent time today composing and posting a remembrance of Ted Ayotte who died on Sunday, here.

3. The Deke, Patrick, and I went to the Diaz home for a good visit and some pepperoni pizza that Molly made.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Remembering Ted Ayotte

"And holy shit do some of them trash talk and gamble"

Those were Ted Ayotte's last words to me -- a text message sent on August 27th at 10:14 a.m. the day after he had worked as a marshal during a practice round at The Barclays golf tournament at Plainfield Country Club.

I had texted Ted earlier, asking him if he was working all four days of play at The Barclays.  I can hear Ted's voice in the immediate response he sent me:

"Bill it was absolutely amazing I worked it yesterday and the day before so practice and proam I was on the 14th Teebox and Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson one after another came up on the Teebox during the program they are incredible to watch I just had a fantastic time....working tomorrow half a day"

Then he dropped the "holy shit" on me!

Unlike so many suffering the shock and grief of Ted's sudden death, I had only known Ted for a short time.

My wife, Debbie, is Sally's cousin.  In recent years, Debbie had spent some great time with Ted and Sally, but I didn't meet them until after Debbie and I moved east in the summer of 2014.

I met Ted and Sally on February 20, 2015. Debbie and I spent a night with them on our way to visit our daughter, Adrienne, in Nyack, NY.

It was a memorable meeting.  Ted was most impressed that we had driven all the way from Maryland and, still, we were ready to head right out the door and go downtown to Hailey's Harp and Pub.

The pub was packed and, as we walked in, friends mobbed Ted. The pub's owner shook his hand. Guys he was going with on a golf trip in a few days slapped him on the back, all smiles, and they started giving each other shit.

Drinking my HopDevil IPA, soaking in the scene at Hailey's, I was suddenly filled with hope.

It might be, I thought, that I'm starting to become friends with a guy who I could have grown up with in Kellogg, Idaho.

I began to wonder, is he a straight shooter, a no bullshit kind of guy?  Debbie had told me he was and my first impression was that, yes, he meets this North Idaho standard.

I could see he was a pro at giving his friends shit.  This was a good sign.

Even better, he could take some good-natured ribbing and I could already see Ted laughing at himself.  That was a great sign.

Ted rejoined our table and we started to hit the sauce. Corona Light for Ted. And for Sally.

I stuck with the HopDevil.

Now it really felt like I was making a friend I fit with, a friend I'd want to have join the Hall of Fame of Great Guys in Don Knott's back patio in Kellogg, a guy I could trust to be real with my lifelong friends, a guy I could tell they would enjoy a lot.

We got back to Ted and Sally's house and right away, Ted fished a Lagunita's IPA out of the fridge and I sank deeper into pleasant intoxication and, BOOM!, I fell asleep (passed out?) on Ted and Sally's couch.

It was my first night at Ted and Sally's and there I was, this drunk lunk from Kellogg, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon, and now Greenbelt, MD, deep in sleep, never to make it to my bed, and it was not a problem.

Morning came, I was refreshed, the coffee was on, and Ted had out a pen and pad to take bagel orders and head downtown to has favorite bagel shop and bring back a feast.

"Ted.  He's all right, isn't he?" I said to Debbie as we drove later that day to Nyack.

"I told you he was."


We had a more extended stay at Ted and Sally's over the Easter weekend for the men's basketball NCAA Final Four and I got to experience Ted and Sally as avid sports fans.

More and more any distance that might have existed between me, a North Idaho kid, and Ted, the basketball star from Edison, NJ and cop in Metuchen closed and I started to think I was making a good friend.

Ted and Sally helped Debbie and me feel right at home at their huge party to watch the Final Four semi-finals. I started to feel more and more like family when we went to Ted's son's house for Easter dinner and I met Ted's brother.

The next day, Ted and I took a walk in Metuchen and went to see Sally at the church.

Ted and I had lunch at Hailey's.

We talked more -- we talked about golf, about the upcoming Duke/Wisconsin game, Ted's life, my life, Ted's work as a police officer, the church, how each of us was keeping care of himself as we were getting older, all good stuff, a friendship getting underway.

That Easter weekend was a superb visit.

I got to see Ted one more time at the end of June at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering and the family reunion at Aunt Susie's.

I don't think Ted had ever been to a festival like this one with musicians not only performing on stage, but gathering in small knots around the park and jamming with each other.

These fiddlers fired Ted up. He was beside himself with enthusiasm for all the impromptu music people were playing and he made video recordings of them with his phone and loved telling all of us back at Aunt Susie's house what he had experienced and how great these fiddle players were.

Ted also crossed over that weekend into the world of craft beer, thanks to Brian, Allison, and Danielle Diedrich, who brought a a bunch of beers with them from Indiana in growlers and cans.

I don't know if this cross over to craft beer lasted long for Ted, but soon after Ted and Sally left Indiana to head back to New Jersey, I got a text from Ted telling me he'd had a Lagunita's beer in Pennsylvania and that "it was fantastic".

By now, Ted and I were texting back and forth on occasion, mostly about golf; I knew Ted was disillusioned with Tiger Woods -- he had witnessed his arrogance first-hand -- and so I sent him the occasional text about Tiger's demise and we enjoyed letting each other know how highly we regarded Jordan Spieth and other young, emerging players on the PGA tour.

Yes, I kept thinking, I am making friends with a great guy, a guy who is decent through and through; a guy whose generosity (along with Sally's) has strengthened my family; a guy who is not full of himself or full of shit, who enjoys shooting the breeze over beers and food about sports and who I'd love to take to Kellogg to meet my lifelong friends there.

And then he died.

To quote my Kellogg friend, Ed:  "It just ain't right."

We got robbed.

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/15: Enrollment, We've Lost Ted, *Foyle's War*

1.  I am very fortunate that my retirement agreement with Lane Community College includes health insurance benefits until I reach Medicare age. Today, I completed the enrollment for those benefits.

2. The Deke and I were in touch throughout the day as she learned that the viewing of Ted Ayotte is on Wednesday and that his funeral will be on Thursday in Metuchen, NJ.  If you read these Three Beautiful Things, you might remember that the Deke and I went to Metuchen twice in 2015, first, in February, and again over Easter weekend, to visit the Deke's cousin, Sally, and her husband, Ted Ayotte.  On Sunday evening, the Deke and I learned the awful news that Ted suddenly collapsed and died in his home earlier in the day.   We last saw Ted in June at Aunt Susie's in Battle Ground, IN at a family reunion.  Ted and I hit it off from the get go. In the brief seven months I knew him, he was a great friend.  I can't accept that we've lost Ted. 

3. This evening, I finished watching an episode of Foyle's War. I would imagine that much of the appeal of contemporary crime/forensic television shows has to do with the wondrous technologies the investigators have at their disposal to solve murders. In part, what makes Foyle's War compelling is that Christopher Foyle investigates and solves crimes without the aid of so much as a microscope. The series has emotional power, too, because everything that is happening in the show connects with how the Second World War, and England's involvement in Europe, is affecting everyday life in Hastings, the East Sussex town on the English Channel, where the stories take place. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/15: Backpack Blessing, Corgi Swagger, Popeyes for Patrick

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.
                           -- Wallace Stevens

1. The Deke and I returned to St. John's Episcopal Church in Beltsville.  At the foot of the altar rested a pile of pink, camo, blue, red, and other colors of backpacks because today's service marked the start of school with the priest blessing these bags with holy water and all of us saying prayers over them. The prayers were for students, teachers, administrators, and others who work at schools.  I imagined one of the Deke's school bags being on the pile and was happy that this time was set aside to encourage and strengthen the Deke and all the other teachers as they move into this new school year.

2.  I picked up the corgis from the groomers and enjoyed how their sleek clean coats and trimmed nails upped their swagger.

3. At shortly after 10:00 p.m., Patrick returned to Greenbelt on time from NYC on the Bolt bus and I helped him satisfy a craving by driving through at Popeyes so he could bring home and devour a three piece chicken and mashed potato dinner.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/29/15: Delighting Angela, Racking Up Steps at the Mall, Meeting Hiram's Parents

1. I don't remember the last time I spent the whole day doing stuff with the Deke. We began our day down at the Hair Cuttery, both getting freshened up so we'll look presentable at the big wedding this coming Saturday in Chicago. When Angela, while cutting my hair, asked me if I'd had a vacation this summer, I told her that I traveled out west and on the plane trip out the flight attendants alerted me that they had decided I had the best hair on the plane.  This happened just after Angela cut my hair the last time and my story delighted her and made her laugh.

2. After some time at home, the Deke and I piled back into the Subaru and headed west to Bethesda and the Montgomery Mall. We rarely shop, let alone shop at a mall, but the Deke needed to buy something to wear to the wedding and I thought about buying a new white shirt. The Deke's trip was a success and I got a lot of steps racked up on my pedometer.

3. After the mall, we stopped in at the Quench Tap Room near the intersection of New Hampshire and E. Randolph and enjoyed some beer together before driving a short distance to Molly and Hiram's house where Hiram's mom and dad, Bertha and Tino were visiting.  I had never met them and it was a lot of fun to get acquainted and to learn more about Hiram's family, especially about how Tino came to the USA from Cuba over fifty years ago.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sibling Assignment #168: Salmon and Gewurztraminer Wine

As August draws to an end and as Carol basks in the glow of the fun of her recent vacation on the Oregon Coast, she gave us siblings this prompt for our next assignment:

"Write about some of the memories you have when we all gathered at the Oregon Coast and share those memories and stories in your next post."

Christy wrote about the last time we all got together on the Oregon Coast in 2009, here.  Carol's post is forthcoming.

Please, Sisters, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think some combination of members of our nuclear family were at the Oregon Coast together in intermittent years from 1980, when Mom and Dad came to see me in Eugene, through 2012, when Mom and I drove to Eugene to visit the Deke, Adrienne, and Jack and we took a day trip to Yachats and had a bite to eat at the Adobe Inn.

Looking back, I see I wrote about our family's time at Rockaway Beach in August, 2009, here, and I see I wrote then about what I was going to write about now for this assignment.  Until now, I didn't realize that I think a lot about these family visits to the Oregon Coast and associate them with the way I have often felt like the family vagabond/weirdo. It's all right there in my August, 2009 blog post and so is my gratitude that, in 2009, I felt so much acceptance from our family even though I spent a lot of time by myself and had a lot on my mind that was troubling me during that very difficult year.

So, since I've already sufficiently tilled that soil, I need to take another approach to this assignment.

I'm tempted to write about the high anxiety I felt when our family gathered at the Oregon Coast.  I was always nervous about whether things were going well for Mom and Dad, but especially Dad. Was this restaurant okay for him? Would the weather cooperate and give us (him) a gorgeous ocean sunset? Would he like the golf course in Waldport? If I bring food for us to eat, will he like what I bring (think cream of celery soup -- and the answer is NO!)?

But, enough of that.  I want to write about a positive memory.  Ha! I just went back  Sibling Assignment #18, written in May, 2007, and I wrote then about, guess what?, my feelings of melancholy when our family gathered at the Oregon Coast, but also about a sweet memory I had about the morning Dad went for a walk and brought us back donuts.  It's here.

Now, back in 2007, Carol wrote about hers and my seasickness when she and Scott E. and I went out on a fishing boat in 1982.  It's hilarious and if you'd like to read it, go here.

We didn't catch any fish that morning.  Carol and I never stopped throwing up long enough to really tend our poles, and even though he never got sick, Scott had no luck either.

So, we did what must be done at the end of a failed fishing expedition:  we bought a salmon from a Yaquina Bay fish market.

If I remember correctly, later that day, in the late afternoon, Scott took over the cooking of the salmon.

He gathered wood on the beach and built a small campfire and when it had died down, he set the salmon he'd dressed and wrapped in foil in the hot coals and cooked it perfectly.

Back in those days, not only did I love salmon baked the way Scott did it, I also loved to eat salmon paired with Gewurztraminer wine.  I guess the sweet meat of the salmon and the peppery and spicy elements of the wine worked for me and I remember feeling blissed out eating this fish, even if we didn't catch it.

I might be making this up. Maybe we didn't have Gewurztraminer with the salmon and maybe we fixed the salmon up in the cabin in the little oven.

But I do know that I associate that cabin strongly with Gewurztraminer wine, thanks to the first visit I ever made to this cabin in the winter of 1980.

Back then, married to Eileen, she and I joined with Barbara and John for a weekend at Yachats and we went to the store to buy some wine and gave Gewurztraminer a try and we loved it and it became our go to wine for the next couple of years.

I especially remember how we drank that wine in the cabin with a winter storm gathering over the ocean, the waves crashing, the wind roaring, and rain pelting the cabin and we got out the board game Sorry! and played "Screw You" Sorry! together.  Any time we could thwart an opponent's advance to victory, we relished it, not with "sorry", but with "screw you" (or its f-bomb equivalent) and we had such a good time and enjoyed the Gewurztraminer so much that we had to go out into the storm and buy another bottle or two.

So, it was a tough morning out on that fishing boat, but a good dinner came out of it and, thanks to the Gewurztraminer wine and the salmon, I can enjoy some fond memories of days spent with people long removed from our family's life, but who added a lot of enjoyment to my life over thirty years ago.

Three Beautiful Things 08/28/15: Cool Morning Air, David's Utter Calm, The Corgis and the Grounds

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of of the pantomime.
                                            -- Wallace Stevens

1.  To get things ready for our trip to Chicago next week, I took the car in to be serviced and walked back home in the cool morning air via the path around Greenbelt Lake:

2. So that Molly and Olivia and Ana could go to the open house this afternoon at Olivia's new school, I stayed with David for about an hour and watched him patiently and meticulously sort through tiny Lego pieces, doing his best to solve construction problems and, when he couldn't solve them, he serenely let go and moved on, without a trace of frustration.

3. The dogs helped me get in over 10, 000 steps today when we once again walked the circumference of the grounds behind our apartment home.  Have I ever posted a picture of this area?  Well, I took one and figure no harm done if I'm repeating myself:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/27/15: Autumn Mornings, To the Dry Cleaners, New Salad

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
                                               -- Wallace Stevens

1.  Although the magazine room at the Greenbelt Library disappointed me -- I'll ask a librarian on another visit if I missed something -- like where are back issues --, the walk to the library from the Co-op refreshed me as autumn air is beginning to sit in Greenbelt in the mornings.

2. After much deliberation and hours of research, I decided to take my suit to the Beltway Super Cleaners in the Greenbelt Plaza and I took a few minutes to stroll down the plaza a ways to check out Heaven's Bakery for the heck of it and it didn't make a strong positive impression on me.  This little stroll was part of my ongoing effort to learn more about where I live.

3. I made another salad this afternoon for dinner and it was really good:  spinach leaves, chick peas, red onion, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese dressed with a combination of olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, honey, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  It made for a most satisfying dinner.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/15: Patrick to NYC, Building a Great Salad, Happy Dogs

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of a blackbird.
                                          -- Wallace Stevens

1.  A quick trip to the Greenbelt Station and Patrick boarded the Bolt Bus and was off to New York City.

2.  Time to use up some goods in the cupboard, so I fixed the cup of couscous I still had as well as the orzo and then started to construct a salad with rice, black beans, sweet peppers, red onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, a touch of lime juice, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and some salt.  Huge success.

3.  An expanse of lawn sits outside the back of our apartment building and about four other buildings near ours and the dogs and I walked the circumference of the lawn today and it made them very happy.  If they could talk, they would ask me to do this more often. I'll pretend I can read their minds and we'll do this more often.  They probably wonder why it took me so long to figure out that this would be a good walk for them, especially since it seems to be free of encounters with other dogs -- such encounters drive the corgis nuts and they bark like crazy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/15: The List, Old Line Bistro Dinner, From the Boss to Joan Jett

1. I remembered thinking that when I returned from Idaho a month ago, I would, and I quote myself, "Get back into my routine."  I have no idea what that routine is because I'm sure not into any routine as of yet. So, today, I figuratively strapped myself into a chair and made a list of what I need to get done, so that I'm not depending on my scatter-brained memory to remember what to do -- then, I got going on the list by cleaning the bathroom.

2. Patrick, Molly, Ana, the Deke, and I met at the Old Line Bistro for dinner. The Deke and I got seated and the owner came over to ask us how we were and to see if we had been to Old Line before and we told him we had and how much we enjoyed it. Patrick, Molly, and Ana arrived, and our splendid server, Laura, helped us get settled in with the baby. Laura and I had some solid beer talk and I ordered a couple of half pints, the first from Jailbreak in Laurel, a very easy, lightly melon infused blonde ale called Dew Right Honeydew. Second up was a delicious half pint of a small batch, one-off dark beer from Baltimore, a Heavy Seas Desert Island Series Schwartzbier. I ate the best dinner I've ever had at Old Line Bistro:  three lamb sliders with tzatziki sauce, cumcumber, and tomato and a kale and goat cheese salad, sweetened with strawberries and watermelon, made meaty with pecans, and dressed with a bracing balsamic vinaigrette.

3. Patrick and Debbie and the corgis turned in early.  While at Old Line, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" came over the house music system and so, this being the 40th anniversary of the Born to Run album, I went to YouTube and listened to several songs from a 1975 live concert in London at the Hammersmith Odeon performed passionately by Springsteen and the E Street Band. This inspired me to listen to three or four cuts from one of my favorite bands, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and, since Southside Johnny and Bon Jovi have done work together, I listened to a couple of Bon Jovi cuts.  I ended the night, for over ninety minutes, with Joan Jett videos -- among the videos I watched were songs from live concerts and studio produced videos of her songs; I watched her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, found a video of her performing a duet with Bruce Springsteen, singing "Light of Day"; I went way back to Joan Jett's days with The Runaways and listened to a sneering version of "Cherry Bomb" performed in Japan; I found her performing on Oprah and on stage in duets with Miley Cyrus; it was fun when she performed "Crimson and Clover" along side Tommy James; and, I dug up a great late 80s segment from The David Letterman Show with Joan Jett performing a NYC version of Jonathan Richman/ and the Modern Lovers' classic, "Roadrunner".

I'm still not sure I've found a routine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/15:IKEA Problem Solving, Shopping with Patrick, Exquisite Dinner

1. The Deke wanted to put into action an idea for where her students can put their backpacks, jackets, coats, and other accessories they bring with them to class.  There are no hooks.  There is no coat hall. So, she asked Patrick and me to go to IKEA to buy some shelving with cubby holes.  We were on it and when we arrived at the Deke's school, she asked where the other shelves were.

Oh.  We were supposed to get two?


Patrick went inside with the Deke and the shelving to be the assembly man and I drove back to IKEA and bought another box of shelving.

I interrupted my mission at IKEA by looking at some picture frames and began to imagine how some of my images of Snug might look in some of those frames.

2.  After Patrick got the shelving assembled, we took care of the dogs, and then it was off to Shoppers to buy groceries for the gourmet meatloaf, cream cheese potato, and asparagus dinner Chef Patrick had planned for to fix for Molly, the Deke, him, and me over at Molly's house.

3.  Chef Patrick's dinner was awesome. The meatloaf was solid, not crumbly, and was both savory and slightly sweet and the cream cheese red potatoes and asparagus were perfect side dishes.  Patrick provided us with a perfect family dinner.  Hiram had left with David and Olivia earlier in the day for a fun trip of miniature golf and amusement park rides to Williamsburg, but he'll be able to enjoy the leftovers when he returns.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/15: Farmers Market, Visiting DC Brau, Uncle Patrick

1.  Patrick and I took a quick trip down to Greenbelt's Farmers Market and picked up some red potatoes and cherry tomatoes.  Quite a few people were out, enjoying the variety of produce, soaps, volunteer information, and food booths.

2. Early in the afternoon, Patrick and I headed down to Bladensburg Road in NE D. C. and enjoyed a round of samplers at the D C Brau's tasting room. It's a most unimpressive looking place in a small warehouse on a desultory block that houses a beauty supply shop, a plumbing shop, a run down post office, and a Goodyear Service Center, but, I'm telling you, looks aren't everything. I sampled D C Brau's Corruption IPA, Brau Pils, Public Pale Ale, and Penn Quarter Porter and took a sip of Patrick's On the Wings of Armageddon Double IPA and his Stone of Arbroath Scotch Ale and every one of these beers tasted great. We didn't drink any pints -- the samplers were enough --, but we did walk out with a 64 oz growler of the Corruption IPA and a six pack of Penn Quarter Porter to enjoy later at Molly and Hiram's.

3. David and Olivia are nuts about their Uncle Patrick.  They especially enjoyed transforming Patrick into a human jungle gym on the couch. Patrick is great with the kids and they love all the different ways he plays with them and how creative he is.