Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/30/14: My Love of Public Transportation, American Cool at the National Portrait Gallery, The Deke's Workout

1.  An ideal day for me is to board public transportation and go see something I really enjoy -- like a movie or a museum.  It might be what I enjoy most about living in a metropolitan area.  Much of the time, I can leave the car at home and leave the transporting to the bus and the train.  Today I boarded the Fairfax Connector, got off at the Huntington Metro Station, and took the train to Chinatown/Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. so I could go to one of my favorite galleries, the National Portrait Gallery -- and the museum that it shares a building with, the American Art Museum.

2.  At the National Portrait Gallery, I focused my attention on an exhibit entitled "American Cool", a collection of photographs from the 19th century to the present, exploring the idea of "cool" in American theater, music, movies, and writing.  Are you wondering just what the National Portrait Gallery people mean by "cool"?  Go here and you can read all about it and see some pictures, too.  Who was I most drawn to?  Chrissie Hynde. Patti Smith.  Lou Reid.  Paul Newman -- I watched a great clip from Cool Hand Luke -- from the "cool hand" poker scene.  Here's the whole scene.  The gallery's clip started at about 1:50.  Man.  How cool is Paul Newman here?  And how cool is Chrissie Hynde singing "Brass in Pocket" with The Pretenders?  It was a cool couple of hours looking at these photos, reading about America and the idea of "cool" and thinking about what a great time I've lived in when it comes to "cool":  David Byrne, Susan Sarandon, Jon Stewart, Johnny Depp, Bonnie Raitt, and the many others featured from 1950 until now.

3.  For the Deke, today was the second day of a three-day workshop on French immersion instruction and it was fun listening to her talk about it when she got home.  She's experiencing French immersion herself, having listened to a French-Canadian guy give a presentation and how different his French was from the faculty from Cameroon and how different their French was from the Deke's and the French she heard spoken at school in Eugene.  It was a mental workout for the Deke and she told me how much she enjoyed every minute of it.  This is really good news!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/14: Learning More About D.C., No Shopping Dinner, Branagh and Bergman

1.  I decided not to go into Washington, D. C. today and, instead, did more reading about D.C. breweries and taplists to better prepare for future visits.

2.  The Deke, in a sense, started work today.  She attended the first of a three day workshop on immersion instruction.  I wanted to have dinner ready for her when she arrived home and decided I would make due with whatever was available here at home:  ground beef, onions, potatoes, bacon, all fried, topped with slices of tomato and grated cheese.  It worked.

3.  We watched another Wallander episode and it moved even more deeply into detective Kurt Wallander's existential struggles.  In fact, there were moments when I thought I was watching an Igmar Bergman movie, not a television detective series, as the weight of fatigue and the pain of  existing burden Kurt Wallander and move him to ponder the absurdity of his life and work and question the meaning of his existence.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/14: Bread and Water, Scrips Transferred, Intro to "Wallander"

1.  The Deke and I took a short drive to Belle View Blvd. and had a tasty pastry and cup of coffee at a bakery called Bread & Water.  I don't remember the last time we went out for coffee in the morning.  It was fun to finally do so again.

2.  Moving means an nearly endless string of things to take care of, like the Deke having her prescriptions transferred to Target this morning.

3.  For the first time in a long time, the Deke and I were alone in the presence of a television set and could watch a program together and we decided to give Wallander a shot.  I enjoyed Kenneth Branaugh a lot and the two episodes we watched were not only grisly detective stories, but had a visual existential quality -- many shots of emptiness whether in fields, at sea, or parking lots -- and Kurt Wallander himself is a detective doing his work in the face of his existential crises, not the least of which is his sense of malaise, both professional and personal,  which Branagh brilliantly makes physical in his character's gestures and the writers have brought to life in the script. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/14: Love and Quiet, My First Yuengling Lager, Everyday Junglist Pale Ale

1.  Yes, there's is nothing wrong with deeply loving grandchildren and being grateful in their absence for the quiet and calm that has settled into Molly and Hiram's home since the family left for a visit in Miami.

2.  The Deke and I went out by ourselves for beers this afternoon for the first time since we left Eugene on June 19th.  For me, it was an historic visit to Shooter McGee's on Duke Street:  I drank my first pint of  Pottsville, Pennsylvania's own Yuengling Lager, made by the oldest brewery in the USA.  Our server, Rob, delivered the Yuengling to the table in a chilled glass, perfect for a lager, and the beer was perfectly satisfying.  I'll definitely drink it again.

3.  The Deke and I made our way over to T. J. Stone's and there, too, I experienced another historic beer moment!  My reading about beer in the D. C. area acquainted me with DC Brau, a D.C. brewery, and I drank my first DC Brau beer this evening:  the Everyday Junglist Pale Ale.  The brewery's description of the beer says I should have tasted "juicy notes of ruby red grapefruit and plump Clementine oranges", but I didn't quite get that far in thinking about what I was drinking.  I just thought it tasted really good.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center

I visited the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD for the first time yesterday.  Until I was connected to it via a Twitter recommendation in the last week or so, I had no idea this place existed.

I am ecstatic that I found it.

I'll tell you what made me so happy in this post, but first, let me invite you to check out the Silver Spring Theater's website, here, so you can see how the place presents itself, and, if you'd like to read about the history of the Silver Theater itself, you can read it, here.

I love movies and I often don't pursue my love of movies as forcefully as I might.  Part of what gets in the way of my pursuit of this love is that it's not my sole love.  I'm often enjoying other things in life I love and sometimes watching a movie gets lost in the shuffle of taking pictures, cooking, trying out different beers, spending time in Kellogg, and doing other things.  While I enjoy watching movies at home, sadly, on my small computer screen, I really love going to movie theaters.

I especially love movie theaters that show independent, foreign, and documentary movies -- I loved the Cinema 7 in Eugene until it closed in 1987, and loved the Bijou in Eugene, too, especially the downtown Bijou Metro.

Living, for now, in the Northern Virginia (NoVa) suburbs of Washington, D.C., I realized immediately that it would be no problem to find any number of mall-anchored multi-screen movie emporia showing the latest box office smashes here in the suburbs.

In searching for other movie venues, I was pleased to find the West End Cinema near Foggy Bottom in D. C. as well as the E Street Cinema, The Avalon, and The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (The Arlington features all kinds of movies, ranging from Godzilla to The Grand Budapest Hotel to single night showings of MASH and Plan 9 from Outer Space.  The Arlington also features live entertainment some nights). 

I look forward to going to all of these theaters, but I want to live at the AFI Silver Theater. 

It's place devoted to movies in a way I've never seen before.

Let me explain by example, by telling you what is happening at the AFI Silver Theater right now.

For starters, three current independent movies are showing (Snowpiercer, Belle, and Boyhood).  My sense is that the theater is always showing contemporary movies of this sort.

For me, the real fun is found in the multiple film series the Silver Theater runs.  Here's a list of the series currently underway:

  •  A fifteen-movie Burt Lancaster series has run since April and ends on August 2 with a screening of Atlantic City, featuring a talk by his daughter, Joanna. 
  • An Alec Guinness Centennial has been running since July 3 and will end September 15. It features twenty-seven movies from all across Guinness' film career. 
  • Ha!  July through September features a retrospective of thirty-four films from the 80s entitled:  Totally Awesome 8:  Great Films of the 1980s.
  • Cinema and the Great War features thirty-four movies, including several silent films with live musical accompaniment, with WWI as their subject matter.  Again, July through September.
  • A five movie Sergio Leone series wraps up today.
  • Fourteen Mario Bava films will show from July through August.
  • Enjoy Raoul Walsh movies?  Come to Silver Spring in July through September.  Eight of his movies are showing. 
  • Starting Saturday, you can see six Harold Ramis movies, screened in his memory. 
  • And, starting Sunday, six movies will be shown in 70mm, including, to my delight, a movie I've never seen (I can't believe it!), Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet
Right now, I live about an hour or so from Silver Spring via the Fairfax County Connector and the Metro Train.  I'll live much closer via Metro if and when the Deke and I move to Greenbelt, MD. 

When we decided to move to the D.C. area, I was excited to be closer to Molly and Adrienne and I knew from my six day stay with Molly and Hiram back in 2012 that there was a lot I wanted to see and do.

What's really fun now is making new discoveries, like Huntley Meadows Park, right down the street, and, as you can see, the AFI Silver Spring Theater and Culture Center. 

When I retired in June, 2012, I never saw this coming. 

How could I?

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/14: Alec Guinness at AFI SIlver Spring, Perfect Timing, Pizza Farewell

1.  I hopped on the Metro Train and made my way to Silver Spring, MD and to the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center.  One of their several film series right now is a two month long Alec Guinness retrospective and I reveled in seeing two of his 1951 Ealing Studio masterpieces:  The Man in the White Suit and The Lavender Hill Mob.  The movies were purely delightful.  I ached with pleasure thanks to Alec Guinness' genius, the riotous farcical scenes in each movie, each film's gorgeous black and white cinematography, and the beauty of the movie theaters I saw these shows in.  I have always dreamed of living where I could go to movie retrospectives and series any day of the week and this AFI facility far exceeds my dreams. Right now, six different film series are running concurrently at AFI Silver Springs.   I'll write a full blog post about it later. 

2.  When I get off the train at Huntington Station on the weekends, the bus I take to get back to Molly and Hiram's only runs once an hour and today, for once, the timing of my train arrival and the bus' departure coincided perfectly.  This happens rarely.

3.  Molly, Hiram, the Deke, David, and Olivia and I ate Z Pizza pizzas together before the Diaz family climbed into their family vehicle and headed off for a visit to Hiram's family in Miami that will last about ten days.  The Deke and I are house/dog/cat sitting while they are gone. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/14: Huntley Meadows Wetlands, Suburban Labyrinth, The Lords of Beer Smile on Me

1.  I went for a stroll in Huntley Meadows Park and walked deeper into the park than I had before and gawked at the gorgeous wetlands, stunned that I was in world that contrasts so mightily from the suburban sprawl it rests it the midst of -- and, as if I haven't mentioned this 10000 times already, the park is only a ten minute walk from Molly and Hiram's home.  Here are some pictures of what I enjoyed:

2.  Upon the recommendation of Kathy Williams Harper and Molly and Hiram and after some research showing me that they had both Yeti Imperial Stout and Beckenridge 471 Double IPA, I drove out to Total Wine out in Lincolnia.  I mapped out my route and then, once I got going, confused this destination with another, and took a lousy route to get to Total Wine.  I could have so easily become lost, but, I had enough local knowledge that I recovered.  Coming back home was another story.  It took me about an hour and a half to make wrong turns and get confused and make my way through rush hour traffic, but I saw parts of Alexandria I hadn't seen before and I put enough of my local knowledge to work that I figured out how, eventually, to get home.  A GPS would have helped, but what fun would that have been?

3.  After my hilarious winding through the suburban labyrinth, I arrived home and thought how nice a light, crisp, refreshing summery lager would taste and I knew that last week I had bought two bottles of Sierra Nevada's Summerfest.  I knew I'd drunk one of them and wondered if it were possible that the other bottle had survived nearly a week of sitting in the cooler and the fridge, not to mention Olivia's birthday party and beer lovers who attended it.  Keeping my expectations and hopes low, I looked in the fridge, and there it was!  The Summerfest survived!  It was mine!  It was perfect!  Light. Crisp.  A little citrusy, which I liked a lot, and not at all boozy: light alcohol content and the epitome of refreshing.  The eternal Lords of Beer certainly smiled on me this afternoon. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/14: Day Trip to Maryland, Tasty Shawarma Platter, 471 in the 703

1.  The Deke had some paperwork to submit to the principal she'll be working for, so we took a morning drive, first to Lanham, MD, where Robert Goddard French Immersion school used to be housed, and then a drive to Greenbelt, MD where the school has moved.  We drove around Greenbelt a bit, asking ourselves what it might be like to live in Greenbelt and we think it would be good. 

2.  We enjoyed lunch at The New Deal Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant and cultural hub, in Roosevelt Center in the old part of Greenbelt.  I very much enjoyed my Shawarma Platter, marinated  roasted beef, served with tahini sauce, lettuce & tomato wrapped in pita with a green salad and really flavorful white rice on the side. 

3.  So far, the best place I've found to sit and have a beer is the Whole Foods store on Duke Street in Alexandria (area code 703) and after our trip to Maryland, the Deke and I sat at the horseshoe counter of the little pub and I enjoyed a 10 oz. 471 Double IPA from Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado.  The 471 weighs in at 9.8 ABV and so I sipped on my snifter very slowly and enjoyed 471's wide range of flavors and its warm booziness seemed to make me glow.   

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/14: Accident Anniversary, Modem Gone, Learning to Read

1.  On July 23, 1973, forty-one years ago today, at the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant in Kellogg, Idaho, I fell to the bottom of a flash roaster filled with sulfur dioxide gas and dust from zinc and other minerals and survived the accident.  I posted on Facebook that today was the anniversary of this accident and asked anyone who read the post that I would be raising a toast today to my good fortune that I'm still here and have lived so many years after coming so close to losing it all. For anyone reading this blog post, if this anniversary is news to you and if you happen to be having a drink today, whether it's water, an excellent beer, or anything else, please raise your glass toward where I live in Virginia, raise it to the sky, and say, "Cheers!" 

 I'll love that.

2.   I got a few more things taken care of involving our move from Eugene.  Ha!  Century Link doesn't want their old crappy modem/router back and I don't have to box it up and so I can get rid of it.  I don't know why that pleased me so much -- I guess getting rid of it is less hassle.

3. I drove north to Potomac Yards today and bought three novels:  The Moviegoer, Great Expectations, and Crime and Punishment.  I haven't been reading much and I have quite a bit of time to read these days and these are novels that I've always wanted to read, especially because I won't be reading them for professional reasons:  no thoughts about "how to teach them" or about literary criticism or theory or any of those m natters I've retired from.  I really want to learn how to read all over again, in a way, for its own sake, not for the sake of the profession I retired from.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/14: No GPS, Rare Hair Day, Chefs Hiram and The Deke

1.  I don't use GPS (yet).  I still read maps, write myself out directions on little memo pads I carry.  I don't sweat getting lost and with memory and a developing sense of where I am, work to find my way to where I'm going.  It's inefficient.  But it sticks.  I "wasted" some time today going to a branch of the United States Senate Federal Credit Union to do some banking, but the payoff was pretty good.  I wandered around, learned more about Alexandria, and I (eventually) got to where I wanted to go, both coming and going.

2.  On my GPS-free meandering around Alexandria, just for the hell of it, I drove to Kingstowne Center and discovered a Safeway, which was convenient since we needed some groceries for dinner.  I bought one round of groceries, took them to the car, and realized I didn't buy chicken, my primary reason for going to Safeway in the first place.  When I bought the chicken, something very rare happened.  The cashier was momentarily struck dumb and then she said, "You have such beautiful hair!"  It was my turn to be struck dumb.  I blushed and thanked her.  I didn't know I could enjoy such a compliment so much.

3. The Deke marinated the chicken and  Hiram took over the cooking chores and we had a crazy delicious simple dinner of chicken breast, the tastiest mashed potatoes I've ever eaten, and a green salad.  I could get used to this:  bring home food, it gets cooked, and Hiram, Molly, the Deke, and I enjoy a splendid dinner.  (Olivia and David eat their own things, dictated by their much narrower tastes....)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/14: Sparkling Rainbow Pony, Tart Peche Festina, Moderate Weather

1.  Olivia received two stick horses for her birthday.  She thought only one, the unicorn, was magical.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the second was a magical horse also.  It's a rainbow pony, maybe even a sparkling rainbow pony.  Now she knows both her stick horses are magical.  It was a fine Grandpa moment.  And a fine one for Olivia, as well!

2.  Today was the first day I had a chance to taste the Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a Berliner Weisse jam packed with peach juice.  It's magnificent.  The peach is perfectly present and complemented by the beer's tartness.  It's not quite a sour ale, but close enough, and I loved this beer.  The Deke brought it home last week as a surprise and I look forward to quaffing a few more of these peachy delights.

3.  I don't know what's going on here in the greater Washington, D.C. area with the weather, but I'm happy to report that after a week living here, we've not been oppressed by quilts of heat and humidity yet.  Sitting out on the deck outside Hiram and Molly's sliding glass door off the kitchen and dining area was pleasant both in the late morning and again in the late afternoon and evening.  I know this will change, but it's been very pleasant to have days like today that are relatively moderate.  No one is wrung out. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/20/14: Rory Wins, Beer at Giant, EPIC Party for Olivia

1.  Oerflow at Molly and Hiram's meant that I spent Saturday night and will spend tonight at the Ft. Belvoir/Mt. Vernon Best Western and that means having a television and I this morning I was up at 6 a.m to take full advantage by watching the coverage of the British Open from start to finish, made even more fun by swapping expert commentary and witty quips with Rick Wainright on Facebook.

2.  Before arriving at Olivia's EPIC birthday party, I stopped in Giant to pick up some Coca-cola and ice and took a few minutes to peruse their beer selection and it's really good.  I look forward to dropping in there from time to time to bring home some brands of beer that are totally new to me.

3.  Olivia's EPIC birthday party was, for the most part, a gathering of euphonium players and their families.  No one broke out a horn.  I enjoyed meeting Hiram and Molly's friends and all the kids (except Joey) who came loved the bounce house.  Olivia enjoyed herself and was very excited by the fine birthday gifts she received.  I wasn't around for the aftermath, but I hope Molly, Hiram, Adrienne, and the Deke felt that all their efforts to put on an EPIC party resulted in a good one.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Royal Shakespeare Company: Henry IV, part 2, Live from Stratford-Upon-Avon

Live from Stratford-Upon-Avon is a project of the Royal Shakespeare Company featuring broadcasts of live performances of the RSC in movie theaters around the world.

Yesterday, I went to the West End Cinema near George Washington University in D.C. and watched the broadcast of Henry IV, part 2

Having just moved to the Washington D.C. area, I am fortunate that I discovered that this broadcast was playing at 11 a.m. at the West End -- I owe my gratitude to Twitter --not only because it wasn't exactly a hot ticket event in D. C. and because performances of Henry IV, part 2, in my experience, are rare. 

It's got to be the least popular of the Henriad tetralogy (RII, HIV1, HIV2, and HV).  It's a painful play, largely, I think, because it's a post-war story.    

On the one hand, RII tells the story of Bolingbroke's rebellion and his taking of the crown from Richard, as well as the tragic arc of Richard's story and HIV1 climaxes with Prince Hal helping his father defeat the Percy's rebellion at Shrewsbury and introduces the hijinks of Falstaff and Hal in the Boar's Head tavern world and HV tells the story of the new king Henry V uniting his father's broken kingdom by waging war in France. 

On the other hand, Henry IV, part 2 is a dark portrayal of the uncertainty experienced with the ending of  war.  I might have written "the uncertainty England experienced with the ending of war", but I experience this play as an exploration of the consequences of war itself, not just the Percy rebellion.  In this way, I find it similar to Homer's The Odyssey

In both works, certainty is a chief casualty of war.  Things are never what they seem.  Trust is fragile.  No one knows who is trustworthy -- or if anyone is.  HIV2's chorus figure is named Rumour and his dissembling right from the get go sets the tone for the whole play and illuminates the deceit, ill will, moral decay, and disease, both physical and spiritual, that dominates the play.

I think another casualty of this post-war deterioration is the play's plot.  It really doesn't have a strong plot at all.  More than a well-formed and plotted story,  I experienced HIV2 as a series of loosely connected set pieces, all dramatizing a terribly fallen world.  The tavern/brothel scenes are much nastier and are sometimes dominated by a deranged character named Pistol.  It is not as fun being in Falstaff's world in this play as it was in HIV1 and, not only are his scenes more cynical and bitter, they are also more melancholy with unexpected reveries upon old age and mortality.

It's the kingdom that Prince Hal is about to inherit.  It's a mess.  So is his relationship with his father whose terminal physical disease, deep guilt, and distrust of his son, Hal, is a microcosm for the ill condition of his kingdom and the uncertainty of what kind of king Hal will be.  The strongest drama in the play occurs at King Henry IV's death bed.  Henry comes to believe that Hal is eager for his death and can't wait to become king and he wails a reminiscence of how, in this topsy turvy world, those who were his best friends became his enemies.  His anger, pain, and howling inspire Hal to level with his father.  Hal tells his father how he's seen the crown consume his father, eat him alive, and Hal explains that he is apprehensive, not eager, to become king, and that he has put the wild days of his youth behind him.

It's all very intense. The pain.  The arguments.  The betrayals. The never knowing what's real, what's fabricated. 

It's why viewing this broadcast wiped me out.

I had forgotten how draining this play is and the intensity of the production made it all the more draining. 

The play hits so close to home.  Shakespeare (like Homer) keenly understands that the destructiveness of war only begins on the battlefield.   Battlefield deaths and injuries are bad enough, but it never ends there.  The destructiveness seeps into the citizenry, dividing people against each other.  Citizens never know what the truth is and war sows distrust, cynicism, and fatigue everywhere.  It doesn't matter when the war is fought, who the combatants are, or where war is waged.  The destructiveness of war that Shakespeare brings alive in HIV2 is universal and had no more of a sobering effect on medieval England or Shakespeare's England or on any other country at any other time than it does in the 21st century.

After all, Prince Hal sees the way war has torn his country apart and how it's devastated his father and he becomes a warrior king, leading England to war in France.   When looking at the world today, I can only conclude that there's no such thing as history.  It's one long war-filled present moment. 

I think that's what Shakespeare saw, as well. 

I would like to describe how these actors did their work, but I don't really have words for it.  I can say that I loved how the actors did something I've never been able to do: they gave each syllable of the play's words life through a wide range of vocal variation, energetic physical gestures, and deep commitment to the play's varieties of suffering.  The fact that their stage performances were filmed magnified how superb their work was, often putting me right on the stage with the actors, almost making the experience more intimate than had I seen the play live in the recently transformed Royal Shakespeare Theater. 

My next chance to see this play will be when the Deke and I find a place to live and the belongings we have in Eugene are shipped to wherever we move to.  In one of those boxes is my DVD collection of  The Hollow Crown.  It's the Henriad performed from beginning to end, produced, I believe, by the BBC.

I look forward to that.

Three Beautiful Thngs 07/19/14: Brewing Tales on the Metro, Shakespeare on Film, Adrienne and Jack!

1.  I've never lived in a place where trains are an integral part of daily life.  Kellogg?  No.  Spokane? No.  Eugene? No.  All the same, I've always loved train travel, whether on the Tube in London, traveling on Brit Rail around England, Wales, and Scotland when I was young, going on AmTrack in the west, traversing Brooklyn and Manhattan on the MTA, or cruising from place to place on the Metro in the Washington, D.C. area.  This morning, I got back into the Metro groove, riding from Huntington to the Pentagon and jumping on the blue line to Foggy Bottom and back to Huntington via King Street, Alexandria.  On the way to the Pentagon station, a woman from Warrenville, IL was very excited about my Two Brothers Brewing T-shirt and, once I confessed I hadn't yet quaffed Two Brothers beer, she gave me a rundown on their different ales and, unfortunately, my arrival at the Pentagon interrupted our conversation, just as she was telling me about her family's love of homebrewing.

2.  Watching a filmed live production of Henry IV, part 2 at the West End Cinema near Foggy Bottom thrilled me.  The play's intense exploration of riot, national and personal disease, and the disintegrating impacts of war, on the personal, local, and national levels, left me overwhelmed so I found a bench near the George Washington Medical Center and just sat for over a half an hour and stared.  (If you'd like to know more, later I'll post a blog entry about what I experienced.)

3.  Adrienne and Jack arrived at Molly and Hiram's today in advance of the EPIC birthday party for Olivia tomorrow and it's fun to see Adrienne and to see how much Jack has grown up since the last time I saw him in person nearly two years ago. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/18/14: Making Mistakes, SmarTripping, My Corona

1.  I went on a drive today in the vicinity of Groveton and other sections of Alexandria.  I wanted to make my directional mistakes now when I wasn't under the gun to get somewhere or get anything done.  Sure enough, right off the bat, I mistook north for south on the Richmond Highway.  It actually was a helpful mistake.  I got myself turned around, though, and found the motel where the Deke and I will stay Saturday and Sunday nights during the weekend of Olivia's EPIC 5th birthday party.

2.  It was good to visit the Huntington Metro Station, load some money on my SmarTrip card.  I'm ready for my Saturday trip into D.C. to see Henry IV, Part 2.  

3.  Last weekend, in discussing beer with Brian and Allie, they both dissed Corona in no uncertain terms, as I've heard others in similar conversations do.  It made me thirsty for a Corona.  I enjoy Corona.  So, at the end of my driving around today, I dropped it at Shoppers and bought a six pack and a lime and came back to the townhouse, a little hot, wanting some relaxation, and thoroughly enjoyed two bottles of Corona.  Sometimes it just hits the spot. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/17/14: The Deke Goes to School, Sean Loved/Loves Shakespeare, Perfect Corn Salad

1.  The Deke visited the school she'll be teaching at in Greenbelt, MD.  I asked her how things went and she said, "Awesome."  I beamed.  We might be leaning toward living in Greenbelt, an idea I like a lot so that we live closer to the Deke's work.  We'll see what transpires next week (and beyond....). (By the way, I learned today that the American Film Institute Cultural Center is in Silver Springs, MD with a Metro stop two blocks away.  I wish I'd had my act together better today.  Today was the last day of a 40th anniversary showing of Chinatown.  I would have loved to have seen it on a movie screen...oh well....)

2.  I called the Oregon Community Credit Union today and Sean helped me and after about 30 seconds he told me he took my Shakespeare course "back in the day" and that he loved the course (especially King Lear) and that he still had his creative project from the course and was keeping it to show his son when he got older.  I last taught Shakespeare in spring term, 2007 and last taught it regularly at LCC in spring of 2002, after starting in fall, 1991.  I don't know when Sean took the course, but am I ever happy that what we did in that course has stuck with him.  When I taught, I didn't care much about meeting course objectives.  I wanted the experience of Shakespeare to be invigorating and worthy of remembering.  This happened for Sean.  

3.  The corn salad Molly made was superb and I amped up its already tangy, spicy delicious-ocity with some cold rice and hot mango sauce.  It's an America's Test Kitchen recipe and Molly brought it fully and joyously alive.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Not Being a Star: Kellogg Junior and High School Band and the President's Own United States Marine Band

I don't know if I can write very well about this.

I mean, it goes without saying, the President's Own U. S. Marine Band is 492,939 times better than the Kellogg High School (and Kellogg Junior High) bands I played in from the 7th to the 12th grade, 1966-1972.

It also goes without saying that my son-in-law Hiram is 492,939 times better at playing the euphonium than I was at playing the baritone horn.  

All the same, last night, sitting on the Capitol Steps, on a mild and flawless Washington, D.C. evening, listening to the President's Own play the national anthem and a Souza march and variety of other music arranged for this band composed of woodwinds, brass instruments, and percussion, I felt old stirrings, stirrings that orchestras, dominated by stringed instruments, do not give me. 

I flashed back to the basement band room at Kellogg Junior High School.  It was September.  Mr. Benson had decided to switch me from trumpet to baritone horn (a close cousin of the euphonium).  Up until the 7th grade, all the ensemble music I had played had been in unison with the other instruments.  I had never played a part before.

As a result, when Mr. Benson handed out our first piece (it might have been an arrangement of "Downtown"), I immediately got lost.  The music in front of me didn't seem to associate at all with the Petula Clark tune I'd loved since it came out; in fact, it was the first 45 rpm single I ever purchased. 

My fellow baritone player was Wayne Denlinger.  He expertly played the baritone part to "Downtown" and I sat there, perplexed.

But, before long, I started to get it.  The baritone horn parts were sometimes rhythmic parts.  Other times we played counter-melodies.  Other times were contributing to harmony between instruments.  There were times we doubled the trombone's part.  Once in a while, yes, once in a while, an arrangement's melody came our way. 

That was fun.

Actually, it was all fun.  Sometimes I would walk the many blocks from the junior high uptown to our house on Sunnyside or walk the trail from the high school back home and I would sing my baritone horn parts or listen to them playing in my head.

After my band days were over, I would think back on those baritone horn parts and I started to think that we added substance and beauty to arrangements, added elements that some listeners maybe couldn't pick out, but that was filling out a song like "Downtown", making it more pleasing and moving than if all we did was all play the melody.

Sometimes, playing these parts moved me and I learned a lot about the beauty of not being a star, of being in a position of support, of making contributions to something good that often went unnoticed, but were deepening the beauty of the music. 

Playing that baritone horn created a love in me for not being a star. It informed my love for small supporting roles when I got cast in plays, for teaching composition for years, in support of many other academic subjects, and for team teaching, where much of my work was underneath students' attention and in support of those I team taught with.

So, last night, while listening to the President's own, I often locked in on the swelling beauty of the underneath parts, of the instruments creating beauty in support of, say, the trumpets or the woodwinds, and sometimes, like in the National Anthem, I could hear the part I used to play, and the smile that broke across my face as I gazed at the American flag near the Capitol dome wasn't patriotic, it was a smile for the music, for the trombones, euphonium, and tubas. 

But, then things got a little complicated, in a good way.  Hiram had several solos.  The euphonium is, after all, a very melodic instrument and doesn't always have to be in the background, and it was glorious to hear Hiram play, among other things, the tune of Greensleeves within a composition that included English folk songs and be reminded what airy and delicate music is possible when playing a euphonium.

Sitting on the Capitol steps last nights, listening to the President's Own, I was locked into the beauty of the present.  I was also traveling back in time.  I was seated beneath the Capitol dome, but I was also seated in the back of two band rooms, back where the baritones played, enjoying all those pop songs, marches, Christmas songs, overtures, and other arrangements we played in band, making great friends, having a ton of fun, and learning the deep satisfaction of not to being a star. 

Three Beautiful Things 07/16/14: A Place to Walk, Stratford Comes to D.C., The President's Own on the Capitol Steps

1.  When I visited Molly's family two summers ago, I focused my visit on going into Washington D.C., taking pictures and taking in photography exhibits at different museums and galleries.  I also visited Tim for a day.  My point?  I didn't pay much attention to Groveton.  Today, I strolled no more than ten minutes from the Diaz townhouse to a sizable nature reserve/park, Huntley Meadows and I'm really happy that for as long as the Deke and I stay here, such a gorgeous place is nearby for walking and taking pictures.  Here are a few I took:

2.  Via Twitter, I discovered D.C.'s City Paper, a weekly focused on features and what's happening in the world of art and food, etc.  I discovered an art movie house, West End Cinema, and bought myself a ticket to see a production of Henry IV, part 2, filmed live at Stratford-Upon-Avon.  It will show at 11 a.m. on Saturday and features Antony Sher as Falstaff.  I'm stoked.

3.  As readers of my blog surely know, my son-in-law, Hiram plays euphonium in the President's Own United States Marine Band.  I heard the band for the first time tonight, an 8 p.m. concert on the Capitol Steps.  Molly and I set up lawn chairs about a quarter of a way up the steps and had a great view of the band, playing below us.  For tonight, for various non-musical reasons, Hiram was the only euphonium player and played several solos.  The temperature was remarkably mild and the music was a sensational mixture of marches, patriotic pieces, show tunes, and an overture. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/15/14: Weird Al, Being Grandpa, End of the Day Spotted Cow

1.  All that driving, starting on Thursday July 10 in Kellogg, Idaho, left me intoxicated with fatigue and so long stretches of lying down, watching Weird Al Yankovich videos on YouTube, and sleeping on occasion, was luxurious, and most welcome.  About Weird Al: if you were into Dire Straits' hit, "Money for Nothing" AND if the Clampett family regularly visited your living room one night a week, then I think you'll love Weird Al's "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies".  And, in a Florence Henderson being Michelle Pfeiffer/"Witness"/Coolio sort of way, you might also enjoy "Amish Paradise".  In my fatigue intoxicated state of mind, these and other Weird Al vids were a nourishing source of mirth and lifted my spirits in a way not even Rumi could have done. (Btw, I got a kick out of Weird Al's two latest vids, "Word Crimes" and "Tacky" as well.  I'm not providing links.  If you'd like to see Weird Al vids, enter Weird Al and the vid titles in your preferred search engine.)

2.  The Deke and I moved to Groveton, VA to be close to our grandchildren and we are definitely close to two of them right now!  Olivia straps on her angel wings to complement her lynx shirt and leopard pants and dances and prances around the house while David, sometimes perplexed by his older sister's rambunctious ways, keeps building his vocabulary, repeating what he hears, smiling broadly, pleased with himself as new words and new sentences come rolling out.  Oh! And David is rambunctious, too.  It's perpetual motion around here, and, believe me, it's not Grandpa who's always on the move!

3.  The children went to bed.  I arose from my fatigue stupor.  I thought I was too tired for a beer, but once Hiram declared that he loved the New Glarus Spotted Cow that Brian bought us Only in  Wisconsin, I joined in and quaffed a couple myself and they were perfect:  easy, a little sweet, slightly spicy -- a couple bottles of chilly Farmhouse Ale bliss.  Looks pretty good, huh?

New Glarus Spotted Cow:  Only in Wisconsin!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/14/14: Mythic Sports Places, Where's Noah?, Arrival

1.  As a sports fan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are mythic places to me and as we drove from Long Beach, IN to Groveton (Alexandria), VA today, I had memories and associations pop in my head as we passed signs for Valparaiso, South Bend, Akron, Toledo, Cleveland, Beaver Falls, Pittsburgh, and, to top off the day, visited the Oakmont Travel Plaza and saw signs for the upcoming 2016 men's U. S. Open golf tournament.  At OAKMONT.....for many many years, it's lived as a heaven in my mind, not a town with a travel plaza.

2.  Thank goodness for the rest area soon after going over the summit of Braddock Mountain in Maryland.  A downpour right out of the Torah deluged us and I couldn't see and the rest area gave us a place to let the rain settle down and get back on the road again.

3.  We arrived at Molly and Hiram's in Groveton, VA after just over twelve hours of driving and Hiram served us chicken red curry with white rice and assorted steamed vegetables. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/13/14: The Q on the Beach, Tapas, One Leg Left

1.  Today and yesterday I've spent time getting to know my Pentax Q better.  I took it down to the beach of Lake Michigan today and took some pictures.  If you are on Facebook, you can see the album I posted by going to my Facebook page.  If you are reading this post on my blog (, if you go the entry that precedes this one, I posted some of the pictures there.  If you are reading this on email, I'll send you those pictures I posted on my blog.  It felt good, by the way, to work more with the Q and I know I've got a long ways to go with it.

2.  Danielle and Allie went to the store and brought a generous supply of cold cuts, bread, olives, cheese, and a host of other foods for tapas and we had ourselves a snacky and satisfying dinner.

3.  Tomorrow, Monday, the 14th of July, the Deke and I will embark on the last leg of our drive to Virginia.  Our plan is to drive all the way to Molly and Hiram's in one day.  Therefore, I packed the car tonight.  It'll help us get off to an early start tomorrow. 

Life at Debbie's Brother Brian's on Lake Michigan Near Long Beach, IN

Exterior View of Brian's Home
Screened In Porch in Back
Brian Served Snacks
Brian Bought Beer
The Deke Leads a Knitting Workshop
Allie Takes a Break from Knitting
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan (2)

Three Beautiful Things 07/12/14: Kickin It, Back with the Q, Another Saturday Night

1.  I didn't drive the Subaru today.  Instead, I relaxed with the Deke, her brother, Brian, and Brian's daughters, Allie and Danielle, perched above Lake Michigan, thick foliage obscuring the lake, sitting in the screened in porch, gabbing and taking it easy.

2.  For a few months, back in the days when I lived in Eugene, I couldn't find the battery charger for my Pentax Q and I found it as we were packing up the house in a bag of things to go to Goodwill.  (Good catch.)  Today, I spent some good time snapping pictures with the Q, getting more familiar with it again, and, to be honest, getting myself more in the mindset for taking pictures.  I'm rusty.  When it comes to taking pictures, nothing comes automatically to me and I am enjoying getting myself back into the groove as best as I can.

3.  While it was really fun for the Deke, Danielle, Allie, and I to pack into Brian's Beamer and head to Sawyer, MI for dinner at the Greenbush Brewery and while I enjoyed a pint of Starchicken Shotgun IPA and a pint of Traktor Golden Cream Ale, nice compliments to Joique Wings (jerk rub..smoked) and a Pulled-Chicken sandwich, the real fun was driving home and participating in a spontaneous sing along with Cat Stevens performing "Another Saturday Night". 

Three Beautiful Things 07/11/14: Sixteen (and a Half) Hours, Inspired by Distance, Spotted Cow and Pizza

1.  The Deke and I roused ourselves out of our Super 8 luxury at 7 a.m. and packed up and hit the road with our target destination the Lake Michigan hamlet of Long Beach, IN.  We would arrive in Long Beach sixteen and a half hours later, tired, not too cranky, and satisfied that we could begin our visit with Brian and Allison and Danielle.

2.  Once again, with the help of cruise control, I enjoyed the vastness of the western midsection of the USA.  The endless stretches of land in South Dakota are inspiring to me and as is the way things begin to green up and get more populous in Minnesota and Wisconsin as is the and the press and congestion of Chicago and beyond.  This drive tested my patience at times, tested my faith in GPS, and wore me completely out.  I'm not used to 16 and a half hour drives (HA!), but as I got deeper and deeper into it, I felt an odd sense of strength, power, and, well, fatigue.

3.  My first Wisconsin brewed beer awaited me (and the Deke).  It was brewed at New Glarus brewery and is called Spotted Cow.  It is a refreshing and tasty farmhouse ale and paired well with the macaroni and cheese pizza Brian and Allie picked up for us at the Blue Chip casino.  What a great way to wind down after an epic drive across South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and into the top of Indiana. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/10/14: Up and At 'Em, Gorgeous Montana, Gourmet Whopper

1.  The Deke and I roused ourselves out of bed at 5 a.m. and by 6:30 we were packed up and on the road, heading for Rapid City, SD.

2.  The vastness and variety of Montana's landscape excites me and I enjoyed every mile from the top of Lookout Pass, the outskirts of Missoula, the climb of the Continental Divide out of Butte, and the open spaces stretching into infinity out of Billings.  I enjoyed the little corner of Wyoming we drove through and was really happy, after about 14 hours of driving to fall into bed at the Super 8 in Rapid City.

3.  The Deke and I plow when we drive and only stop for fuel and to relieve ourselves and give the dogs a chance to do the same. . . so, we hardly ate a thing as we drove and I've never had a Whopper from Burger King taste more gourmet than it did tonight with a large order of fries in our snug little room at Super 8. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/14: Errands, Sam's for Dinner, Great Discussion

Today was the last day in Kellogg for the Deke and me.  Tomorrow, July 10, we will set out to cross the country with a weekend stop at the Deke's brother's lake place on Lake Michigan and then on to Virginia.  Today's Three Beautiful Things occurred in Kellogg.  After today, my posts might be sporadic, but they might not be, and they'll come from more and more easterly places.

1.  I ran a few errands for Mom:  paid bills at Ace and the water company, dropped off paper bags at Cattails, recycled stuff, made a contribution to the ReUse Center, and did some watering of plants.  I doubt I did everything Mom wanted and needed done while I was here, but we made some progress and I know Mom is very happy with how her yard looks for the time being.

2.  The Deke, Mom, and I went to Sam's for dinner and I got to talk to Darrell Knoll, Lois Dahlberg, and Roger Grosvenor as well as enjoy a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a Pepsi.  It was a fun dinner.

3.  Carol and Paul came over and we had really fun discussions about labyrinths and mandalas in anticipation of Carol's trip to Montana tomorrow to visit the Redsun Labyrinth near Victor and then we got into discussing Shakespeare and film and To Kill a Mockingbird and all kinds of fun stuff that I might have gotten too excited about.  My excited voice got pretty loud, as usual.

Three Beautiful Things 07/08/14: Crafted Blowout, Starr Pops In, Tamara and Paul Bunyan

Before I get started, it came to my attention via an ad for a T-shirt, that the proper spelling for what Deb at the Snake Pit did not call me on July 6th at breakfast is Cutie Patootie.  And, by the way, if you care to look, this term of endearment has earned a spot in   Okay.  That was then.  This is now:

1.  Byrdman and I decided we'd like one more blowout at Crafted.  We bellied up to the bar and I thoroughly enjoyed a pint of refreshing Firestone Walker Pivo Pils and my first ever draft pint of Great Divide's divine Colette (I'd only had bottles before).  Then Byrdman and I split a bottle of Goose Island's sublime Sofie and split a bottle of Deschute's Black Butte Porter XXIV, a chocolaty, molasses-y, slightly fruity bourbon barrel aged gift from heaven.

2.  Byrdman and I were about halfway through our Crafted blowout when our long time buddy and power hitting outfielder Starr Kelso popped in, able to take a break from helping injured workers in their fight to be properly compensated by on the job injuries.  He informed us he likes to drink because alcohol kills brain cells, but only the weak ones.  It's survival of the fittest.  I called it cerebral Darwinism.  We all got a kick out that.  Starr brought a thick pile of Xeroxed clippings from the Kellogg Evening News telling stories of the best baseball team ever to play in the Silver Valley, the 1969 American Legion squad.  I wasn't on that team.  I was one year too young.  But I watched them a lot and loved them.  An already premiere Crafted blowout suddenly became epic with Starr's arrival.  I look forward to renewing this session when I return to Kellogg in the winter.

3.  Before the Crafted blowout, I picked up a wig for Mom at Tamara's wig shop and, as always, had a great visit with her and very much appreciated her concern for my mother's well-being and her kind words about Mom.  Tamara is one great woman.  Then I popped into the Paul Bunyan for a juicy cheeseburger and scrumptious french fries, good preparation for a session at Crafted.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/14: Cutie Patutie, Pictures Up the River, Hike & BONUS: Fish Tacos

1.  I started my day of picture taking up the river with breakfast at the Snake Pit (Enaville Resort) and nearly succeeded in getting Deb, the breakfast server, who called Walter in the other "Cutie Patutie" to call me Cutie Patutie, too, but she didn't follow through.  She asked me if I wanted to be called "Cutie Patutie" and she told me how much she like calling guys that, but then when Deb brought me my coffee warm up and brought me my bill, she never once called me Cutie Patutie.  Sigh. Oh well.....

2.  During my time in Kellogg, I haven't had my cameras out and it was fun taking pictures of the Snake Pit, the North Fork of the Cd'A River, the Settler's Grove, and a moose cow and her calf.  I was rusty, though, and wish I could have this picture taking back again.  I just wasn't thinking right and took many pictures with too slow of a shutter speed, so they were improperly exposed.  Dang!  If you'd like to see the pictures I took, either scroll down from this post, if you are reading my blog right now, or, if you are reading this on Facebook or via email, go to and scroll down.  There are three posts of pictures.  I'll decide later if any of my Settler's Grove pictures are worthy of posting.  I did a lousy job taking pictures there.

3.  Byrdman and Steph have property, an A-Frame and a trailer, etc. up the river near Prichard and I got to visit them today.  Byrdman sat for a while by the river, me chomping on a tasty cinnamon roll and sipping coffee, and then we headed up to the Settler's Grove for a spectacular hike through the cedars on on up the mountain a ways.  We cooled off at the Bedroom Mine Bar in Murray and picked up a pizza to go and returned to the Byrdman river estate to eat the pizza, sit by the river some more, and yak more.  If I'd been at the top of my game with my camera, it would have been a perfect day up the river, but can't have it all.....

BONUS:  WOW!  This was such a great day that it can't be contained by the number "3".  Carol and Paul invited Mom and the Deke and me over for fish tacos and we had a great time sitting in the shade of their tri-color beech tree, gabbing, laughing, and enjoying really good food. 

Moose Cow and Calf, 07/07/14

Byrdman and I went on a hike into the Settler's Grove and beyond and as we drove out, we saw this mother and her baby near the road.

Monday, July 7, 2014

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River 07/07/14

Here's the place we Silver Valley natives refer to when we say "up the river". I long for the day when I can take pictures up the river that in some way match the beauty I see and feel when I go up the river.

Breakfast at the Snake Pit/Enaville Resort 07/07/14

I always knew this place up the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River as The Snake Pit or Josie's. It's also known as the Enaville Resort. Whatever you call it, it's a site in Shoshone County with a colorful history (in the Silver Valley, "colorful history" means, to whatever place it refers to, that it was a whorehouse, either in part or entirely.) The Snake Pit is a lot cooler inside than my pictures show.

Mom's Back Yard, 07-07-14

My pictures of Mom's back yard never look as good as what I experience when I look it over. Nonetheless, since I've been writing a bit about fertilizing her lawn and gardens, I thought I'd give all interested a view of what I hope I didn't ruin when I applied the Miracle-Gro.

Three Beautiful Things 07/06/14: Shop-Vac Success, Lightening Mom's Load, City Limits Meal and Ale

1.  I woke up this morning and Mom's yard and garden were still alive.  My clumsy efforts to fertilize didn't kill them.  Therefore, Mom trusted me to take down her two geranium pots hooked above the front porch so she could meticulously deadhead them and she entrusted me with her Shop-Vac and so I vacuumed up the petals, stems, and leaves her surgical efforts left behind.  I succeeded.

2.  Building on the momentum of my Shop-Vac success, I took a bunch of stuff to the Smelterville Fuller Housing ReUse Center.   I was really happy that Mom, after some delay, gave me the green light to help lighten the load of stuff in her basement and garage. 

3.  To celebrate the fertilized yard and garden, the deadheaded geraniums, and stuff taken to Smelterville, Mom, the Deke, and I went out to dinner at the City Limits in Wallace.  City Limits is a brew pub for North Idaho Mountain Brew.  I ordered a Cripple Creek IPA.  I like citrusy IPAs and Cripple Creek satisfied me with its assertive grapefruitiness and its moderate bitterness.  I gotta say, though, it left me feeling like its ABV was more than the 6.7% advertised.  I walked out walking straight and talking well, but, all the same, I felt like I'd quaffed a couple of Imperial or Double IPAs.  It was one of those beers that I enjoyed more and more the deeper I got into each pint.  (My French dip sandwich was excellent, btw.) 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/05/14: Fertilizing Fiasco, Sweet and Sour, Paint Chips

1.  I'm at my worst, without question, when I'm doing something and I don't really know what I'm doing.  I was happy to fill up a Miracle-Gro thing with Miracle-Gro plant food and screw the thing to the hose attachment and attach the attachment to the hose and fertilize Mom's flowers, produce plants, and grass, but I didn't really understand how to tell when I'd used up the plant food or how long to keep the fertilizer solution spraying on the plants.  So I sprayed the plants and grass in the backyard and some of the front, afraid that I was wasting plant food, but Mom told me that to do her front and back yards would take five packets and I'd only used one.  I was hot from the relentless sun exposure, but I kept my cool and took a rest and went back to it and divided four packs of plant food between the front and back, redoing the places I'd already done and giving the new places a longer drink of fertilizer.  I'm good with miracles.  I think they happen.  I am thinking it will be truly a miracle if my lousy Miracle-Gro fertilizing ends up helping Mom's lawn and plants gro(w) better.  Sigh.

2.  Mom fixed a nice throwback dinner:  sweet and sour boneless pork ribs with egg noodles, salad, and beets.  It not only felt good to be served such a good meal, but after my fertilizing fiasco, it was relaxing and refreshing to feel the increasing coolness of the Kellogg evening take over Mom's deck.

3.  HNL showed about 150 straight episodes of Forensic Files tonight and I watched about five or so of them and even though I knew that forensic science was going to win every half an hour and the criminal would be caught, I marveled at how a chip of paint or foam around a victim's mouth or the downloading and deleting of a Guns n' Roses song provided the information detectives needed to nail the perp. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/04/14: Judge Judy at Worley, Cookout at Carol's, Dogs Survive the Din

1.  Ed and I drove down to the Cd'A Casino and played for a few hours.  My best spin was on the Bejeweled machine and I had fun going down the rabbit hole of the surreal playing the Judge Judy machine. 

2.  It was a fun Fourth of July + Carol's birthday(week) party at Carol and Paul's this evening.  Paul did an exceptional job grilling a Super 1 salmon, potatoes, and mixed vegetables.  I didn't realize that one of Mom and Dad's longtime friends, Jim Vergobbi, would be there and his presence brought back a flood of memories, mostly from when he umpired slow pitch softball in Kellogg. . . Carol is best friends with Jim's daughter April, and I enjoyed meeting her husband and sons.   The height of the cook out might have come with dessert:  Zoe and Cosette baked peach pies and Mom brought homemade vanilla ice cream.  Mom "made a BIG mistake" and put too much whipping cream and sugar in the ice cream.  It was a most fortunate and tasty error.

3.  The Deke and I left the cook out early to come back to Mom's house to keep Charly and Maggie company for the two hours or so that the little town of Kellogg sounded like 1993 Sarajevo with thunderous blasts of skyrockets and other bombs bursting in air.  After about an hour of anxious dashing about in the backyard, even as the air blasts continued, the dogs seemed to reach a point of exhaustion and settled down.  The took comfort in having Mom, the Deke, and me nearby and they survived Independence Day.  I dread this day more than any other, especially as darkness sets in and the din begins. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/03/14: Straight to Salt, Leftovers and Greens, Castle

1.  Yokes didn't best me today.  I walked straight to the ice cream rock salt.  No labyrinth.

2.  The turkey casserole, leftover linguine, ground beef skillet dinner, mixed vegetables and French fries from Longhorn BBQ -- we pulled them all out of the fridge and they went great with the beet greens, kale, chard and baby yukon potatoes the Deke fixed.  The mess of  greens and potatoes, prepared the way the Deke learned in her youth, allowed me to feel like I was eating dinner in southern Indiana, without the humidity.

3.  I'm almost always late to the party, so Nathan Fillion did not come to my attention until I saw him in the role of Dogberry last summer in Joss Whedon's brilliant Much Ado About Nothing.  Now,  I watch him here at Mom's every once in a while on his television show, Castle, and it's fun.  Someday, I'll watch that DVD set of Firefly I possess.  Firefly lovers tell me he's really good in it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/02/14: Tent Mate Does the Right Thing, Good Times at Longhorn BBQ, Mystical Ginger

1.  If I were to tell the world via Facebook that I have a relationship with the clutch on the Subaru, I'd have to say it's complicated.  This morning I decided to have the clutch looked at down at Reco's Muffler and Auto Repair at the corner of Railroad Ave. and North Division St. in Kellogg.  I like going there because it's owned by Randy Smith who was my tentmate during the 1969 National Boy Scout Jamboree in Farragut State Park in Idaho.  Randy found little to repair in the clutch.  I liked that.  And we had a good talk about life at this stage when our mothers are in their 80s.  His mother lives with him and he's doing the right thing and it's difficult.  Yeah, I understand...not always easy to do the right thing.

2.  Christy and Everett drove down to Spokane and Carol, the Deke, Mom, and I drove over from Kellogg and we met for a late lunch/early dinner at the Longhorn BBQ on North Argonne in Spokane Valley.  Tomorrow Everett turns 84 and Carol turns 51, so we were celebrating their birthdays and we were having one last whole family get together before the Deke and I hit the road for Virginia. Mom loved her ribs.  Christy and I were deeply relieved.  I loved my NoLi Longhorn Ale.  And, as you can see, brother-in-law Everett and I enjoyed sitting side by side:

3. I purchased a couple bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale at the Wal-Mart in Smelterville and the cashier lit up and asked me if I'd ever made my own ginger ale.  I told him that I had not, and he beamed all through his explanation of how he makes it and how wild ginger grows at his hunting camp and that he harvests a lot of it for making ginger ale and how he loves to go into the field of ginger and rub his hands in it and smell the ginger on his hands.  This man was spiritually transported as he told me this story.  It was as if he broke into blossom right there on the job in Wal-Mart.  It was mystical.  Joyful.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/01/14: Help at Super 1, Skillet Dinner, Searching for Ed Yurick

1.  For some reason, probably having to do with daydreaming, I couldn't get that plastic produce bag open at Cd'A's Super 1 and the produce guy helped me.  We had a good laugh about losing focus.

2.  I fixed dinner and pleased Mom with a skillet dinner of ground beef, bacon, onion, potato, corn, red pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms. 

3.  I had fun doing a little online research on Ed Yurick, whose name came up during the HOFGG convention over the weekend.  I kind of remembered his name, knew he was a jock, but didn't know him at NIC and thought I might remember what he looked like if I could read about him.  No, that didn't happen, but it was fun discovering that he and Mike Schwartz and Mike Crnkovitch all played on the same baseball team at Boise State. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 06/30/14: Weeds, Deke's Dinner, Cool Air

1.  I got some weeds pulled and an unproductive rose dug up in Mom's backyard.

2.  The Deke fixed a fantastic no-cook sauce and mixed it up with some linguine.  Great dinner.

3.  Carol, Paul, Zoe, Molly, and Cosette came over for dinner and the Deke and I were especially mindful of enjoying the cool evening air on the back deck since once we arrive in Virginia, we'll have to wait until about October for cool air and it'll probably arrive in the form of a tropical storm.