Saturday, October 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 10/02/15: New Glasses, Check Engine Light, A Sampler Session

1. I braved the wind and the rain of living on the edge of Hurricane Joaquin and drove to Costco to pick up the new pair of glasses awaiting me.

2.  The Deke had a professional development day and was finished at 2:30. I picked her up at Greenbelt Middle School and the Check Engine light came on. Suddenly, I remembered that the last fill up I purchased was in New Jersey, where, like in Oregon, I couldn't pump my own gas. "Hmmm," I thought, "I'll bet the gas pumper didn't put the gas tank lid on tight," remembering back to 2004 when the Sube's Check Engine light came on for the same reason.  We got home, I tightened the lid, and on our way to Quench and dinner at the Diazes, the Check Engine light went off.

3. The Deke and I drop in for some beer about twice or three times a week now at the Quench Tap Room.  Today, Quench had four different IPAs (and Imperial IPAs) on tap, from Maryland, Vermont, and Belgium and I drank a sampler (4 oz) of each and then enjoyed an Imperial Pilsner from Breckenridge and closed with the beer Union Brewing brewed in honor of Cal Ripken, the Broken Record, a Belgiany Pale Ale.  A great finish.  These samplers, for me, are the way to go.  I love variety in beer and drinking six of them is just a pint and a half.  The Deke and I had a gold medal conversation -- we are back to trying to figure out the future again! It was a perfect tap room session.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 10/01/15: (Dreadful), Thank You Notes, Using up Kale, Great Email

*I don't think I ever met Larry Levine, the WR 115 instructor killed in his classroom at Umpqua Community College. I don't know when he attended the University of Oregon, but if we were there at the same time, I don't remember meeting or knowing him.  That said, I feel dread, grief, anger, and nausea, not because I knew Larry Levine, but because I know our profession. Over the thirty-five or so years I taught, my fellow instructors and I worked with volatile people all the time, people who blew up, confronted us with anger, were a menacing presence in the classroom, and who posed different levels of threat and disruption. Some of us have been harassed, others have been stalked, and some have been physically threatened, shoved, or struck. Larry Levine was shot and killed.  I wish I could say what happened is unimaginable, but we, as teachers, lost the innocence of regarding such killings being unimaginable a long time ago. It's dreadful.

1. I decided it was time to bring back the thank you note in my life and I wrote a couple today on cards I had made at Costco that feature a picture I took of the Kellogg YMCA. The building was finished in 1910.

2. I really purchased too much of it when I bought that gunny sack of kale at Costco a week or two ago. But, it is keeping and today I found a sweet potato/shrimp/kale stir fry recipe.  Ha!  I subbed tofu for the shrimp because I wanted the meal to be vegetarian and it worked out pretty well.  (It would have been better with shrimp:  I admit it.)

3.  Julie has been making references on Facebook to risk and changes in her life and I emailed her today for some details and we had a great exchange about what might lie ahead for her and about her life in the 814.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/30/15: Short Marriages, Oh Yeah! I Store Those, Chill Zone

1.  It made my application for Social Security benefits simpler that neither of my first two marriages lasted more than ten years.

2.  Anxiety struck when I couldn't remember what I did with the blood draw order from my nephrologist. Then I remembered.  I scan and electronically store all my kidney transplant business. I checked my kidney transplant folder and the order was there. I'm set for Monday.

3.  On the spur of the moment, the Deke and I decided to pick up a chicken and some bread and some Flying Dog Truth Imperial IPA and head over to Molly and Hiram's for dinner. If I were about thirty years younger, I'd say the evening was chill. How so? Content children, relaxed adults, easy food, and a bottle of delicious beer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/15: Home Again, Kale Lentil Soup, From Gridlock to Old Line Bistro

1.  Back home.  I got caught up on my writing, almost,  and uploaded the pictures I took in Harwich and posted them. It made me very happy that several friends enjoyed the pictures.

2.  I bought a ton of kale the other day at Costco and I never got around to making the chicken soup I was going to put it in, but today I found a tasty kale lentil potato soup recipe, cooked it up, and every sample I tasted was terrific.  As I was making this soup, I thought of comments I've read about kale being a fad food. I smiled. For me, the kale fad began back in about 1981 when Dan and Betsy Newell invited me over for dinner and served up the kale they were growing in their backyard garden.  I've enjoyed it ever since.  Oh!  And chard, too.

3.  The Deke had a dental appointment in Bowie at about the least convenient time imaginable to drive there.  Our Subaru was one of about a million other cars traveling the suburban labyrinth between Greenbelt and Bowie. I dropped the Deke off and, knowing I'd accidentally left a stove burner on simmer underneath the lentil soup, I made my way back to Greenbelt to turn the burner off. 

I endured the stop and go Beltway traffic and then threaded my way through the suburban labyrinth again to pick the Deke up.

We crawled back to Greenbelt on the Beltway and decided to relax by driving on to Beltsville, normally ten minutes from Greenbelt, but about a half an hour this evening.

The effort was worth it. 

The Deke worked her way through a pint of the heavenly and hoppy Flying Dog Imperial IPA called The Truth and I savored the piney start and citrusy second verse and slightly sweet and pleasingly bitter finale of Great Divide's Titan IPA.

For dinner, we split a burger called the Walking Dead, a pepper crusted chunk of ground beef dressed with blue cheese and mushrooms -- a burger too big for either of us and perfect to share. We added an order of tasty truffle fries. Soon the memory of crawling our way to Bowie and back disappeared into a lovely, hedonistic fog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/15: Farewell to the Troxes, Good Drive Back, Travel and Gratitude

1. I had to bid the Troxstar and his parents farewell this morning.  I hope my gratitude for their hospitality and for giving me a chance to have such an awesome weekend in Massachusetts came through.

2.  The drive back to Maryland took about nine hours. I considered myself very fortunate that there were only two traffic delays along the way and that I left I-95 just north of the Beltway before it got really badly backed up.

3.  I enjoy trips like the one I took from Thursday to Monday.  I saw parts of the USA I've never seen before, gained more confidence in my ability to navigate unfamiliar places, and, most of all, I loved seeing Adrienne and Jack and the Troxstar and his family; loved meeting and spending time with Adam, Keeley, and Amy and hope to see them again; loved being welcomed into Derek and Cathy's home and spending a great afternoon with them.  It's always relaxing to be back home in the familiar confines of our little apartment home where I can sit and reflect upon how grateful I am to be able to travel and see people -- new and old -- family and friends.  This is what's defined this calendar year for me whether in Idaho, Washington, Maryland, D. C., New Jersey, Indiana, New York, or Massachusetts: being with friends and family, participating in many changes in many lives, and living with gratitude that I have so many great people in my life.  And, just think, I will get to see more friends and family in November when I return to Idaho with trips to Washington and Oregon, as well.

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/15: Strolling at Harwich, Seeing Derek and Cathy, Burger and Early Bedtime

1.  I got up this morning and drove to Cape Cod for the first time in my life. I went to Harwich, parked the car at the tourist information center, and strolled for a while, making my way to Bank Street Beach.  Down at the beach, and as I walked back to the car, I took some pictures:

2.  I didn't go to Cape Cod to tour and see sites.  I went to see my cousin, Derek, and his wife, Cathy, in Dennis Port.  They welcomed me warmly and immediately put an IPA from Cap Cod in my hand and Cathy sliced up some cheese and meat and gave us a plate of crackers and we sat down in front of the Pats' game, but spent a lot more time having a good long chat than we did watching the football game. I'd never really sat down and talked with Derek before.  We had a ton to talk about -- our families, how we each came to live on the East coast, and a host of other things.  While we were talking, pulled pork and homemade beans were simmering in the kitchen and we ended our afternoon together with awesome pulled pork sandwiches, beans, and cole slaw.  It was a great visit.  I hope I can find my way back before too awfully long and take up Derek and Cathy on their offer to show me around Cape Cod and have some more fun together.

3.  Back at the Troxstar's parents' home, I was invited to the dinner table for a delicious grilled burger and a Mayflower IPA. The combination of food, drink, and travel moved me to excuse myself early in the evening to go to bed, meaning I missed the red moon and the eclipse -- but, I was tired and wanted to be rested for my long drive back to Maryland on Monday.

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/15: Donuts and Humble Pie, Bog Lessons, The Gang's All Here

1.  After a bracing breakfast of a coffee cake muffin and a chocolate frosted raised donut and coffee at Dunkin Donuts, the Troxstar and I got together with Randy's brother, Roger, and nephew, Sam, and we hit some golf balls at the driving range and then went to Roger's house, shot the breeze, and listened to some Humble Pie.

2. Beth, a relative of the Troxstar, farms a cranberry bog and the Troxstar and I visited the bog today and I learned more than I ever knew about the growing, nurturing, harvesting, and selling of cranberries.  I learned about dry picking and wet picking.  I saw a berry picking machine in action. I even got to lend a hand to the operation and moved boxes of cranberries from the bog to the tractor that transported them and moved a few boxes to the sorting area.

3.  After a burger at Harry's, the Troxstar and I had a big night on Saturday.  We made our way to downtown Middleborough, poked around in Benny's (Your Favorite Store) and saw other sites before we met up with another longtime friend of Randy's and Facebook friend of mine:  Adam Swift.  We grabbed a table at the Central Cafe and had a great time talking, having a few laughs, and getting ourselves ready for the next stop.

At the Fireside Bar and Grille, we found more of the Troxstar's Middleborough friends at the bar -- Peter, Stephen, Chris, and Lee, all strangers to me, but I got introduced and enjoyed very much meeting them and shooting the breeze.

After we got a table, another Facebook friend I'd never met in person arrived: Amy, and her husband, Kirk.  Now the whole gang was present.  I knew my place as an outsider, and was happy these old friends to each other welcomed me into their get together and it was fun to briefly be a part of the Middleborough life the Troxstar has told me so much about over the years.

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/15: Driving to Massachusetts, Pu Pu Platter, Keeley and Linguica Pizza

1.  I bid Adrienne and Jack farewell this morning and drove across the Tappan Zee Bridge to the junction with I-95 and slowly made my way through Connecticut, wishing I could stop and visit the Eugene O'Neill sites, drove through Rhode Island, and descended south to West Wareham, Mass., where the Troxstar had just finished moving firewood to his parents' backyard and greeted me with directions not to park too close to the mailbox where his brother's rental car had been smashed into some time in the not too distant past.

While I drove, I listened to lectures on cd from a series called The Modern Scholar entitled, "How to Listen to and Appreciate Jazz". I followed these lectures while driving much better than I could follow "The Hebrew Bible".  Jazz's history is not quite as long.

2.  The Troxstar's mom and dad (Elinor and Ernie) treated Randy and me to a Pu Pu platter at the Orchid of Hawaii in Lakeville, Mass., a staggeringly generous collection of spare ribs, chicken wings, egg rolls, won tons, and more.

3. Starting about six years ago, I became friends with several of the Troxstar's friends he grew up with and went to high school with in Middleborough, MA.  This evening I met one of these friends: Keeley. She is a dynamic fifth grade teacher, the Troxstar's pen pal, and most enjoyable to get to know.  She met the Troxstar and me at the Boston Tavern and after a beer or two we visited Oliver's Mill Park, a park created out of the remains of an 18th century industrial complex.  While there, we ran into Tony Coelho, whose sister, Allison, is another Facebook friend from Middleborough.

We ended our evening at the packed and happy Central Cafe in Middleborough where the Troxstar and Keeley introduced me to Linguica sausage pizza, one pie with ground Linguica, the other with sliced, and it was awesome.

I loved meeting and talking with Keeley. My visit got off to a really good start.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/15: Easy Drive, Jack's School, Swimming for Pizza and Ice Cream

1. The drive from Greenbelt to Nyack was easy, familiar. Two things made the miles go by enjoyably.  First, until I lost radio contact in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, I enjoyed the Pope's address to Congress.  Second, although  I couldn't keep up with every detail, I learned a lot listening to lectures on cd about the Hebrew Bible.

2.  About ninety minutes after I arrived at Adrienne's place, she picked me up and we visited Jack's school, a perfectly peaceful older house on a wooded property with ample play areas and cooling shade. When we arrived, Jack was working on making paper jack o'lantern faces. After he finished up, he took us inside the house and showed us other things he had made.

3. From school, we went to Jack's swimming lesson at a huge aquatic facility in a local middle school and rewarded Jack for his participation with a slice of pizza and an bowl of ice cream.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/15: Helping the Blind to See, The Pope Talks Baseball?, T. S. Eliot Enchiladas

1.  One funny problem with choosing new frames for my glasses is that when I put on the frames, I can't really see in the mirror what I look like. I took several selfies in Costco, but I'm an inexperienced selfy taker and none of the pictures helped me that much. When I came to the counter with a couple of frames, the woman helping me was kind. She told me I didn't look good in the frames I'd chosen and then she helped me find a couple others. I decided to put my full faith and trust in her observations and evaluation.

2.  With Uncle Rex and Uncle Hiram in town, the Deke and I went to chez Diaz for dinner, and, as we like to do, we went to the Quench Tap Room first where the Pope was on CNN, celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Brookland, Washington D. C. The sound was off the television showing the Pope.  The television featuring commentators talking about the Orioles/Nationals series had the volume on.  Ah!  Theater of the absurd.

3. With Uncle Rex as sous chef and Uncle Hiram as the chef in charge, they combined forces to make the best enchiladas I've ever eaten in my life. They featured turkey and a sweetish, chocolatey, chili peppery mole sauce as well as a creamy white sauce, unlike any sauce for enchiladas I've ever known of, let alone eaten. While Uncle Hiram rolled the meat into the tortillas, he and I recited passages aloud from T. S. Eliot and Shakespeare, adding a layer of literary mirth to an already festive evening. Alas, Uncle Hiram and Uncle Rex head back to Miami on Thursday morning -- we hope they'll return soon for another visit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/15: Driving to Middleborough, Old Smart Phone, Meeting Uncle Hiram and Uncle Rex

1. It looks like the Deke and Molly have worked out things with the Diaz's vehicles so that I can take our Subaru to NY and Massachusetts, starting Thursday morning.  This makes everything about 10,000 times simpler for trip to see the hallowed grounds trod by the Troxstar in his youth.

2. I attended this afternoon's Smart Phone Workshop today at the Verizon store. I found out that my older phone has some, well, shortcomings, but it's just fine for texting, phone calls, general internet browsing, and navigation.  I read some forums when I got home and I might be able to give a directive on my google account that will open google play for me on my phone.  Right now, google says, "No way! You can't play." We'll see.

3.  After years of hearing about Hiram's mother's older brother, Uncle Hiram, and his husband, Uncle Rex, the Deke and I got to meet them this evening in vibrant downtown Silver Spring at the Copper Canyon Grill. We had a splendid time, highlighted, for me, by Uncle Hiram telling me about his undergraduate days at the University of Chicago, a course he took from a besotted Kurt Vonnegut, and his love for William Faulkner and James Joyce -- including a story about when he and some friends read Joyce's Ulysses aloud to each other over a couple of three days of booze, pot, and literary ecstasy.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/15: Travel Plans Solidifying, Tuscan Chicken Stew, November Plans

1.  I am very grateful that Adrienne has room for me at her apartment in Nyack to sleep on the couch, allowing me, on my drive to the Troxstar's hometown, to break up the trip in about half and have more time to deal with the awful traffic conditions on the turnpikes that could result from the Pope coming to NYC and Philadelphia.

2.  We are having a cool spell here in Greenbelt and I seized the opportunity late this morning  to make Tuscan chicken stew.  The whole chicken simmered in the stock pot for an hour or so while I cut up celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I wrestled the chicken out of the pot, set it aside to cool, strained the broth, and simmered the vegetables and a can of kidney beans for about 35 minutes, seasoning the broth with oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper.  As the chicken chilled, I removed the meat from the many bones, added it to the vegetables and beans, stirred it all together, and let it stew for the rest of the afternoon into the early evening until the Deke and I were ready to eat.

3.  I got a call from Stu and when I answered, on my new smart phone, I thought I had hung up by accident and so a longish period of silence ensued, but Stu hung on, let me be a smart phone dummy, and we had a good talk about possibilities for getting our Kellogg friends together when I visit in November. I think we'll have a get together at the Pine Creek Tavern one day or evening -- YES!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/15: Returning Home, Dilly Dallyin' at Costco, A New Office?

This is my 3200th post on kellogg bloggin'.....

1.  We'd been away from St. John's Episcopal Church the last two Sundays thanks to travel and post-travel fatigue. Returning this morning to the familiar words of the liturgy, the hearty Passing of the Peace,  processing to the front of the church for the laying on of hands and, later, for communion was a return to my spirit's home.

2.  It was fun shopping at a dilly dally pace today at Costco, checking out everything from pork tenderloin to mini cream puffs to feta cheese, not buying any of them, but looking, and enjoying the staggering variety of shoppers from all over the world and buying ground beef and buns and tomatoes for tonight's burger fry at the Diaz home, as well as some other food with dinners this week, like Tuscan Chicken Stew -- I am eager to get going on it on Monday!

3. Some of you might know or might remember that the Deke used to leave work at Charlemagne in Eugene and take stacks of papers to be graded to 16 Tons or Cornucopia or Billy Mac's and grade them while drinking a glass of wine or a pint of beer. She called each place, "My Office".  The Deke has not found a place to call, "My Office" here in Greenbelt -- not the Marriott Hotel bar, not Chevy's, not TGI Friday's, not (though this could change) the Old Line Bistro. But, today, she and I went to the Quench Tap Room.  It's about ten minutes from Molly and Hiram's house and as we got settled in at the bar, each with a pint of beer, the Deke pulled out a stack of papers and said, "I'm gonna work on these."


I turned my attention to the Eagles and the Cowboys -- and then the Ravens and the Raiders -- and the Deke graded away.  When it was time to leave, we piled into the Subaru and The Deke said, "That was great! It was like I was at The Office again. That's how I like to work."