Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/30/14: I Got Pills, Morale Boost for Mom, Pizza Party!

1.  I braved the arctic invasion that is dropping the Kellogg temperatures into the single digits (still above zero, though) and drove to Yoke's to discover that the transfer of one of my prescriptions succeeded and I have all my medicines again.  I really like it when things work out.

2.  This was a physically painful day for Mom, but it was a good day for her morale.  The first boost occurred when Susan and Joe dropped by for a visit and Mom (and I) enjoyed some good conversation about all kinds of things, including the details of how Mom's teaching career began in Weippe back in 1951, where she had over 30 children in a combo 2nd/3rd grade class and lived all by herself in a tiny apartment in the upstairs of Weippe resident's home.

3.  Pizza party!  Mom's morale boost got a second boost when Carol, Paul, Cosette, and Molly came over for pizza from Yoke's, which we all enjoyed, and for a viewing of the Kennedy Center Honors. I went to bed as the Kennedy Center Honors show was getting underway, but I could tell from the laughter I could hear upstairs as I fell asleep that Mom was having a great time with the Roberts family.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/29/14: Slip Slidin' in Kellogg, Friendly Help, Helping Mom

1.  Arctic hell winds have returned to Kellogg.  Temperatures are dropping and will continue to drop. I ran errands and, for the first time in years, drove Mom's car on the compact snow and ice of the scraped streets of Kellogg and managed the car just fine when I slid a couple of times.

2.  I appreciated the friendly and eager to help assistance the woman at the Post Office and the pharmacist and his assistant at Yoke's pharmacy gave me today, helping me finally get my Christmas packages mailed and getting another prescription transfer underway.

3.  After several days of her kids cooking in the kitchen, Mom's kitchen floor was in need of a good mopping and I took care of it after I watered Mom's house plants   These are routine tasks that Mom's sciatica pain and arthritis make difficult and she was pleased that I got them done.  We were also pleased that we had more leftovers to eat for dinner.  We are doing a good job emptying the refrigerator and having good food as well.  Emptying the refrigerator means a lot to Mom and I've been happy to help!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/28/14: The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Christy Heads Out, Dinner Again!

1.  My day started at 2:13 a.m. when Carol texted me that she and Paul and Molly had returned safely through the snow and ice back to Kellogg from the Spokane airport.  I was suddenly wide awake and accidentally put the television on the local PBS channel and the documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali was about to begin and I watched all ninety minutes of it.  I learned more than I had ever known about the Nation of Islam, Ali's conversion, his decision to be a conscientious objector, and the Supreme Court ruling that reversed his conviction for refusing to report for induction into the U. S. military forces.  The movie helped me relive and better understand events that occurred when I was in grade school,  junior high, and high school, giving me perspectives very different from the opinions and comments I heard on television and in my hometown.  I thought of many friends I've made over the years, especially in Eugene, who aren't into boxing (but some are!), so might not watch this movie, but who are deeply interested in the issues this movie addresses.  I hope some of them will give this movie a look.

2.  The snow kept falling in Kellogg and Bob down the street cleared our sidewalk with his snow blower, but soon more shoveling was in order, and I wanted to help clear the way for Christy as she loaded up her car to leave, so I got some shoveling in.  I was kind of hoping (but I kept my mouth shut -- she didn't need my advice!) that Christy might wait another day to leave, but she decided to brave to snow and drive back home to Martins Creek.  It turned out that the roads were in pretty good shape, so that was a relief, but it would have been fun to have her around for another day.

3.  One more gift exchange today for Christmas!  With Molly having returned from Colorado, we had Carol's family over for a second go around of minestrone soup and had fun seeing Molly again and exchanging gifts with her.  I don't remember the last time that members of Carol's family and others of us had dinner together five days in a row!  It was, by far, the best thing that happened during the Christmas/my birthday season.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/27/14: Birthday Dinner, Zags Win!, Home Safely

1.  It was a great birthday, not really celebrated so much as quietly acknowledged, with a bunch of Facebook messages and a scrumptious dinner featuring Christy cooking us a delicious minestrone soup.  Paul, Carol, Cosette, Christy, Mom, and I gathered around Mom's kitchen table for an excellent family/birthday time together.

2.  Before dinner, we watched the Zags take a few body blows from the BYU Cougars and assert themselves late in the game to come away with a 87-80 victory.   The victory helped our dinner and time together be even more enjoyable.

3.  At 2:13 a.m. of the early hours of 12/28, I received a welcome text message from Carol that she and Paul were back home in Kellogg after a late night trip to Spokane to pick up Molly and Kai at the airport.  They made it safely on I-90 which had been closed earlier in the day and over the Fourth of July Pass where many accidents had occurred.  We are in the midst of a significant snow dump and I'm very happy that everyone is home safely.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/26/14: Crally Makes Me Beam, Sib Talk, Searching for Light in the Darkness

1.  Christy and I went over to Carol's early in the afternoon to have some sibling time together, and, much to our surprise, Kellee (Crally) Mills and her daughter, Megan, were in the house, soon to be joined by Mike and Melanie, Crally's husband and other daughter.  Crally laughed at me being a dope, saying dopey things so we could laugh, and so did Megan.  I had settled down a bit by the time Melanie and Mike arrived.  I really appreciated that they were good sports with my joking around and enjoyed having time to enjoy what good people the Mills are.  I've known Crally since she was a little girl, but today was the most I've been around her in a long, long time.  She and her family made me beam.  I liked that.

2.  The time Christy, Carol, and I had together was fruitful.  We talked about our care for Mom once I return to Maryland and it's a great joy to me to know that we will continue to do all we can to help Mom out and help keep Mom's spirits up.  Before we talked, I knew we'd work together to help Mom and it was heartening to talk it out for a while.  We also talked about the writing we've done together and I think the world will see the return of our Sibling Assignments.

3.  Today was Day 3 of our family getting together for dinner.  We did the sensible thing.  We had a good supply of leftovers from the Moroccan Christmas Eve dinner and from our USA prime rib dinner on Christmas, so we dove into leftovers and the food seemed even better after aging a day or two.  After dinner, Christy, Carol, Mom, and I toured the dreary streets of Kellogg in search of houses with Christmas lights and every once in a while the darkness was broken by hearty souls who decorated their houses and yards.  They were few and far between, though.  We all seemed to remember a time when Kellogg was more lit up.  Was it?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/25/14: Sweet Rolls, Santa's Little Helper, Back to the USA

1.  Our Christmas Day began with some orangy, brown sugary sweet rolls out of the bundt pan that Christy made and gave our day a sweet start.

2.  Christy was also the chief bartender for Christmas Day.  I could have had a Candy Cane Martini or a Dirty Shirley, but I opted for Santa's Little Helper.  To make it, on Christmas Eve, Christy soaked cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cranberries in Evan Williams bourbon.  To make the drink on Christmas, she mixed three parts of the infused bourbon with one part Triple Sec and some 7Up.  She garnished this winter warmer with cranberries.  I took one drink 7of this tasty cocktail and immediately asked for a little for 7Up and then slowly made my way to the bottom of the glass.  It was not only really delicious, but it was a fine Christmas Day sedative in case the holiday was rattling my nerves -- which it wasn't -- so my already calm demeanor simply got calmer.  Wow!

3.  Carol cooked a very moist prime rib and Yorkshire pudding with a delicious horseradish sauce and we also had a fine vegetable and relish plate, a very tasty potato dish that Christy made, and a cranberry-grape-walnut-whipping cream salad that Mom made, and some red wine:  it all made for a hearty Christmas dinner and was perfectly topped off, later in the afternoon, by a slice of pecan pie with coffee bolstered with a splash of the infused bourbon.  We definitely came back to the U.S.A. after a Christmas Even in Morocco!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/24/14: No Guilt Zone, Moroccan Feast, Gift Exchange

1.  Mom wanted to make her contributions to today's Christmas Eve dinner and tomorrow's Christmas Dinner, but the pain in her legs and hips (especially) was too much and I took over for her.  Mom felt guilty that she wasn't doing her part and I suggested that she try to feel happy that she had good help with Christy and me in the house and I can't say her feelings of guilt dissolved, but her mood did seem to change a bit and she went back to resting her aching joints in her chair.

2.  Each year, Carol and Paul host a Christmas Eve dinner with food from a particular country.  This year's country was Morocco.  Oh!  My!  I loved making (very tasty) sweet potato shepherd's pie which was, like so many of the other dishes, replete with cinnamon and cumin and other aromatic spices, all of which were spectacular:  pomegranate beets, rice pilaf, carrot and lentil stew, cuminy carrots, a very tasty tomatoy dip for raw vegetables, green olive bread, and pita bread, stuffed dates, and even more than I've listed here.  I love food from the Mediterranean and I see myself continuing to make dishes all through the year from this dinner tonight.  (I think this was my favorite of all the Christmas Eve dinners I've been able to participate in at Carol and Paul's.)

3.  Christy, Everett, and I returned to Mom's and had a quiet gift exchange together and now I am a little richer with a new sweater, a Univ. of Maryland hoodie, a pair of slippers, and bottle of Legacy Canadian whiskey.  Most gratifying for me, however, was that Christy, Everett, and Mom all lit up when they opened the framed pictures I gave them, pictures I had taken near Christy's home and pictures I had taken of flowers I raised in the olden days in Eugene.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/23/14: Beer Talk with Deke, I Don't Have a Beard, Chitter-Chatter at Noah's

1.  Deke called me from what she said was "a Whole Foods-like store" in (or near) Nyack to ask me about beer we had or hadn't consumed this summer.  I told the Deke that I was not in "a Whole Foods-like store".  I was in the parking lot at Yoke's.  In Kellogg.

2.  I'd already been to Stein's where I had gabbed with Barney and then yakked with Abby when I arrived at Yoke's and had a good visit with our longtime family friend Rosie. Then Donnie, her husband, arrived, and hit me with his classic line:  "Jesus Christ, Billy, I didn't know who you were without all that hair on your face." 

3.  Christy and her KHS Class of '73 friends, Dawn and Chris, let me join them for lunch at Noah's Canteen and I enjoyed a couple of huckleberry margaritas and three beef sliders.  I enjoyed how much my sister and her friends enjoyed each other and happily served as photographer to capture the moment, although I wasn't as at home snapping pictures with their pocket computer/cameras, a.k.a. phones, as I am with a camera, but I think the pictures turned out just fine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/22/14: 1313 Table Talk, Gift Prep, Zoe Saves the Day

1.  While doing what I do in the morning -- mainly get some writing done -- a message flew in from Scott Stuart and he suggested we go out this morning for a bite to eat.  We got a hold of Ed and he was in, so the tree of us mighty Wildcats from the KHS Class of '72 congregated at the 1313 in Wallace for some solid discussion and solid Silver Valley cuisine.  On our way out and when we got back to Kellogg, Scott came in the house and visited with Mom and he stood up very well under her barrage of questions regarding his family and other points of history in his life, then and now.  Man. His strength under interrogation was impressive!

2.  The Christmas gifts I'd sending (late) to members of the family required some work and preparation today and I got that done.

3.  Zoe saved my life, in a Christmassy sort of way, by coming over to Mom's house and coming down to the basement and wrapping my gifts for me.  I am, without question, the world's worst gift wrapper and Zoe saved me much embarrassment/humiliation by performing what, for her, was a simple task.   I am grateful x 100,000,000,000,000.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/21/14: Christy Arrives, World Premier, Great Talk with Diane

1.  Christy arrived today and I helped prepare for her arrival by following each directive Mom gave me:  I put the Christmas decoration boxes back in the storage closets, dusted, swept, and vacuumed the upstairs, and hung the new curtains in the TV room on the ground floor.  I stayed calm.  I obeyed Mom.

2.  By the grace of all that is good in the world, I managed to land a ticket to the red carpet world premier of Nancy Hanks' latest short film, "Across Bank Street:  The Last Witch", held upstairs at the Wallace Elks.  Pemphredo, the last witch herself, was played by my sister Carol, who helped bring about the end of a bullying situation in Wallace.  I got to sit at a table with Carol and her family and with sister Christy.  We enjoyed our spaghetti and salad and garlic bread meal and watched proudly as Carol brought the benevolence of Pemphredo to life on the (pretty) big screen.  It was my first experience being in the midst of the Silver Valley Film Making Community.

3.  Before the world premier red carpet gala got fully underway, I got to talk with the Elks' bartender, Diane (Hone) Hogan, KHS, Class of '72.  We had a great visit and caught each other up on much that has transpired over the many years.  We both agreed that our lives have been nothing like we could have ever imagined when we left high school forty-one years ago, in both wondrous and painful ways.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/20/14: Christmas Errands, Lunch at Parabola, Intro to Slate Creek Brewery

1.  Today was Christmas errand day in Coeur d'Alene.  I picked up some pictures at Costco, got a hair cut, and eventually went to Michael's and got some frames.  I especially enjoyed talking with the guy at Hair Clips who cut my hair.  He was a guy who went back to college (NIC, LCSC) at age 48 and earned a degree to go to work in the medical field.  He cuts hair part time now after he did so for seventeen years and it was as if I were back in Eugene, at LCC, when I had many such conversations with older students who did similar things.

2.  Byrdman and I went on a mini-tour of Cd'A for lunch.  We ate at Paragon Brewing.  It used to be the Time Out Tavern and it's been handsomely remodeled and is a great neighborhood pub with excellent beers.  I had a tasty IPA from MickDuff's and a chocolate cherry stout from somewhere in the region. I seem to have forgotten where.  Our pub burger loaded with onion rings and blue cheese was superb and we both agreed the seasoned fries were the best we'd ever had.  Our session was made really superb by the sparkling work of Brittany, a very friendly, talkative, and knowledgeable bartender.

3.  Speaking of knowledgeable, there was Amanda at the neighborhood taproom/brewery, Slate Creek.  A guy came in to buy a growler and we got to yakking and it turned out he used to live in Eugene and was crazy about Hop Valley and their Citrus Mistress (me, too!) and when Amanda overheard us, she told us she had lived in Eugene, worked at Oakshire, and had been on the Eugene Beer Week Board.  This was really fun!  And the beer was good.  I enjoyed their 6 Weight IPA and Salmon Run Red Ale.

It was fun having a short crawl with Byrdman and, as always, for me, I really enjoy making the acquaintance of young people, like the guy at Slate Creek, and like Amanda and Brittany, who are enthused about beer, have lived in a bunch of other places, and enjoy gabbing about it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/19/14: Duh!, Popcorn Balls, Nalley's Chili

1.  So.  I'm all about helping Mom save money and so today I drove uptown to Wells Fargo to pay her bank credit card.  It saved postage.

I decided to go to the drive up station, which is across the street from the bank itself.  I arrived and sat in the car behind a person whose transaction took quite a while, but that was okay.  It gave me some time to meditate upon all I'd learned over the last few days about Christmas from the Hallmark channel.

My turn came and I put the bill and the check in the tube thing and put it in the machine that sucks it over to the bank.

I sat.  I thought about how Christmas isn't about commercialization.  I found myself wondering if we really do have guardian angels in our lives.  I let images of how healthy and good looking all the characters in Hallmark movies are dance in my head.  I contemplated how, in Hallmark movies, people say things like Christmas carols make Christmas food taste better, I just let the transaction be slow.  I figured it's the way things go at Wells Fargo Bank, Kellogg, Idaho.

The image of my favorite teller Jimmie came on the screen just outside the driver's side window of Mom's Malibu.

"Sir, please send your transaction over."

I suddenly realized I had put the bill and the check in the tube, but . . .

So I pushed the "send" button.

That sped things up.

2.  Mom and I got the popcorn ball assembly line set up.  First, we made red peppermint balls and then a batch of carmel popcorn balls.  It was an aromatic and tasty way to spend the afternoon.

3.  I had a package of chicken drumsticks all ready to prepare, but Mom, knowing that Ed and I were going to go play in Worley, suggested that we have the chicken tomorrow and have Nalley's chili tonight.  She really likes chili out of the can, and, it turns out, so do I.  So we had a quick dinner of Nalley's chili and we finished off the loaf of sourdough bread and enjoyed slices of Tillamook sharp cheese and ate some pineapple and cottage cheese.  Mom helped Ed and me get on the road more quickly and it was a relief to do some easy dinner prep after all the kitchen work the popcorn balls required.

Friday, December 19, 2014

(Post #2900) Three Beautiful Things 12/18/14: What Once Was Lost, More Christmas Treats, Dreamin' with the Deke

This is my 2900th post on kellogg bloggin.

1.  This past spring, when Christy helped Mom bring her garden decor and other items out of the garage into the yard, the bird bath bowl that goes on the bird bath stand was missing.  This sent alarms throughout our family and a search and rescue effort got underway that involved, at different times, Mom, Christy, Everett, Paul, Carol, and possibly Carol's daughters.  I joined the effort when I visited Kellogg in June.  The bird bath bowl wasn't in the garage, it wasn't in the rafters, it wasn't in the upstairs storage closets: it wasn't anywhere.  Its disappearance created one of the most intense sources of bafflement and anxiety in the history of our family.  We all gave up, and to spare one another further bird bath bowl is missing pain and suffering, we only spoke about the bird bath bowl in hushed whispers, out of earshot of Mom.  She'd suffered enough.  

Today, this morning to be exact, I was looking in the big cupboard in the basement for the Mirro spritz cookie tube.  The overhead lighting was too dim for me, so I was using a flashlight.  I never found the spritz cookie utensil, BUT, I happened to shine the light under two fairly large plastic bowls, AND THERE IT WAS!!!  


I took several long, slow breaths.  Before breaking such earth-shattering news to Mom, I wanted to be sure I was correct, that I wasn't the victim of an optical illusion created by my heart's desire that I had found the bird bath bowl.

Mom came down to the basement to help me find the Mirro spritz cookie tube and I quietly and cautiously said, "Mom.  I-I-I think I found the bird bath bowl."

Mom's jaw dropped.

"You're kidding!"

"Isn't this it?"

When suddenly the basement was filled with warm light and angels began to sing hymns of joy, when ghosts of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir belted out Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus", and when Mom broke out a happy Moon Walk,  I knew it was the bird bath bowl.

It is our Christmas miracle.

What once was lost has now been found.

2.  Nothing on this day could really top the finding of the bird bath bowl, but Mom and I did not rest on our laurels.  We got to work right away making Nuts and Bolts (a 50 year old probably know it as Chex Holiday Mix), spritz cookies, and miniature honey cakes.  Mom's stamina in the kitchen has greatly diminished, but, working together, we knocked out these holiday treats and all that remains is making the popcorn balls.

3.  The Deke and I had a couple of really good phone talks and we went right into everything's on the table mode and discussed all kinds of possibilities as to what our life together might look like in the next few years.  My only wish is that we could teleport ourselves to 16 Tons or Billy Mac's or Cornucopia where the talks that got us to Maryland happened and were such perfect places for such discussions -- but, I'm confident we'll find our talking joint(s) in the Greenbelt area once I get back.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/17/14: Decorating Mom's House, Baking Goodies with Mom, Hallmark Movies

1.  The Help Mom Get the House Decorated for Christmas Project continues -- plants moved and rearranged, creche on the television, lights on the new plants on the television, angel with a color wheel of different colors inside of it needs a new bulb -- probably won't make the cut --, and an assortment of other angels, reindeer, ornaments, and other lights ready to be placed around the house with care.  Things are looking very festive around here.

2.  The Help Mom Bake Christmas Goodies for Christmas Project continues:  today's goodie:  a five (I think) layered cookie of melted margarine, graham cracker crumbs, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, sweet condensed milk, and ground walnuts.  Later, after they cooled, Mom and I worked together to extract the cookies from the pan.  They are sweet, rich, and ready to eat and ready to share if you happen to be in the neighborhood and want to drop by.

3.  Once  today's episode of  General Hospital ended at two o'clock, Mom had me change the channel to 44 -- yes, the Hallmark Channel.  I didn't watch the movie (one of Hallmark's 12 Movies of Christmas) closely, but the one that was on today definitely featured a woman who was unsure about a man, a man who was romantically non-committal, and I sensed that characters were struggling with whether or not they were feeling the Christmas spirit -- I know the woman of the movie stated that "Christmas is more than commercialization".  I didn't see the conclusion of the movie, but I'll bravely predict that the romantic problems got solved and that something happened, maybe while the woman television anchor was doing her community service for a car collision she was in, that restored everyone's Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/16/14: Slow Day, Address Correct, Breakfast Dinner Collaboration

1.  Slow day.  Mom worked all day on her Christmas cards and we won't get going on the Christmas decorations in the living room until she finishes them.  I think she's done -- so tomorrow could be the big day!

2.  I made a couple of calls to Maryland today and the insurance agency has our correct address in Greenbelt and it's likely that the bills from the Laurel clinic just haven't been mailed yet.

3.  Mom and I worked together to cook a breakfast for dinner:  waffles, sausage, fried potatoes, and fried eggs.  We succeeded!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/15/14: Retired Educators' Christmas Gala, Saving Money, Everything's on the Table

1.  Mom and I piled in to the Malibu and jetted to Post Falls for the Christmas meeting of the North Idaho Retired Educators luncheon.  While we wolfed down our Senior Citizen meal consisting of hot beef sandwich, canned corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and marshmallow something dessert (we were told it would taste like cheesecake), the girls ensemble from Post Falls High School presented a superb mix of Christmas songs.  I remembered being in the Cardinal Chorale at North Idaho College and how we gave Christmas programs out in the community of Coeur d' Alene and how much fun it was to make people happy with our singing.  This is what happened at the Post Falls Senior Center:  the girls made all of us happy with their energy and the beauty of their songs and their singing.

2.  After the luncheon, it was time to go save money.  Mom and I went to J. C. Penney.  Mom brought a fistful of coupons and found a few items for herself and some Christmas gifts and she found a cooperative cashier who helped her divide her purchases into piles, one where she could used this coupon and another where she could use that one, and after about ten minutes of sorting and scanning, Mom's purchase was completed and she walked proudly out of the store, having saved about 350,000 dollars.  The people in the line backing up behind her while she saved every possible penny were patient and seemed to be filled with the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill toward Mom.  (Me, too!)  We made another money saving trip, this time to Shopko where, unknown to Mom, but ready to make her day, were some half price discounts on things she wanted to buy.  As we left the store, I imagined Katrina and the Waves playing "Walking on Sunshine" as the soundtrack to our shopping safari in Coeur d'Alene.

3.  The Deke called me while Mom and I were eating dinner and discussed what might be next for us in the upcoming year and we agreed that we will continue to live with the motto that got us to Greenbelt, MD:  everything is on the table.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/14/14: Worship in Comfort, Pictures -- Finally, Smart Diners

1.  Last Saturday, Carol and Mom went to a holiday tea at Mountain View Congregational Church across the street and Carol took Mom into the sanctuary and suggested she sit in one of the pews and see if it was comfortable for her, to see if she could get out of the pew all right.  Mom discovered the pews worked for her.  Therefore, Mom and I went to church together this morning and I think this will become more regular for Mom.  I'm very grateful to Carol for taking Mom on this little side trip at the church so that she knows that she can worship and be comfortable.

2.  I have only taken pictures twice since leaving Greenbelt on Nov. 5.  It's hard to explain.  I can't explain why I take so few pictures in Kellogg -- in fact, I haven't taken a single picture in Kellogg.  I took a few, however, over Thanksgiving at Martin Creek/Lake Roosevelt and Russell and I went on a photo stroll on December 7.  This afternoon, I finally looked at these pictures and here is one from Lake Roosevelt and one from the stroll with Russell that I liked:

Lake Roosevelt

Leaves on the Trail Near Autzen Stadium

3.  Mom and I are making the best possible use of the food we have on hand.  Tonight we ate chicken thighs leftover from Friday and I cooked up the Brussel sprouts that we still had from Thanksgiving and we made another dent in the leftover cranberry sauce and I augmented a green salad we've been working on with slices of radishes that we have now used up that have lasted us quite a while.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/13/14: Oh Tannenbaum, Scroogy Paul, 1313 Dinner and Ale

1.  I think getting Mom's house ready for Christmas might be at least a five day project, maybe three or four.  Today was Day #2:  we found a string of lights that worked to replace the ones that didn't, we strung golden garland around the tree, and we unwrapped and hung the ornaments.  Mom knows where every ornament came from, including as gifts from students she had, whom she can identify. The ornaments often moved her to giggle with delight.  Mom loves decorating the Christmas tree -- more than anyone I know.

By the way, Day #2 also included putting gift bags under the tree and putting the living room furniture back in place.

2.  Mom and I headed east to Wallace where Carol and Paul and the rest of the 6th Street Melodrama cast put on their Christmas program.  It was a series of favorite Christmas songs built around Paul playing against type as a Grinchy, Scroogy middle-aged husband/father who wanted all the hubbub of Christmas to vanish and was a first-class crab as his wife, Carol, decorated the tree and as family friends arrived to go caroling.  But, Paul's character had a conversion experience while his wife and friends were out caroling when he sang "Somewhere in My Memory" and gazed upon the family stockings hung over the fireplace and at pictures of his daughters.  I nearly stood up and cried out, "Good to have you back, Paul", but I restrained myself.

3.  Mom treated Carol, Paul, and me to dinner at the 1313 Club in downtown Wallace where we basked in the afterglow of Carol and Paul's success on the stage and enjoyed some solid food.  I ordered a Wallace Brewing Winter Warmer (8.0 ABV).  I drank a few sips when it first arrived, but it was in a frosted glass and I could tell it would taste better at a warmer temperature.  So, I ate my cheeseburger and fries, left the beer alone, and finished after I'd eaten and after it warmed a bit.  I was right.  The complex of malt and wintry flavors were much more enjoyable as the beer lost its iciness.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/12/14: Easy Cash, The Spirit of Kellogg, The Tree is Up

1.  You might remember that the last time I took a check to Wells Fargo in uptown Kellogg to cash that I had to see three tellers, show my drivers license and passport, and was on the verge of being electronically thumb printed when suddenly the second teller I saw realized I am on Mom's account. Today, I went to this same bank to cash a check for Mom and I stepped up to Jimmie's station and told her that I had a check to cash and that I was on the account.  Jimmie remembered me!  The transaction was a snap!  Jimmie dished out the cash Mom needed in no time and I was on my way. Yes!

2.  Friday is always shop the ads day for Mom at Yoke's and Stein's and I did the shopping today. Every day when I go out in Kellogg, it saddens me to see how many broken down people are out, struggling with canes, often gray-faced, sometimes stooped over.  My home town has lost much of its vitality. But, it hasn't lost its friendliness.  Today I was moved by Jimmie's friendliness at the bank, by kidding around with the Yoke's pharmacist, and by the kind words Donna, at Yoke's, had so say about Mom.  Kellogg is aging in every way:  not just the people, but the sidewalks and streets and buildings are showing cracks and wear.  But, the spirit of friendliness and goodwill endures.

3.  Mom's artificial tree is a pole with slots and you stick the branches into the slots.  I remembered that last year we packed the tree very carefully, with the color-coded branches for each level tied together and a tag saying what color they are.  Our careful work paid off and getting the tree put together was a breeze.  Of course, one of the strings of lights didn't work and we'll need to deal with that tomorrow. Tomorrow is also garland and ornaments day.  We'll figure that stuff out, no problem: the key fact:  the tree is up!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/11/14: Java on Sherman, Doc Visit with Mom, Pork Chop Dinner

1.  Christy and I had an excellent breakfast warmed by fine service from Cait at Java on Sherman in Cd'A.

2.  I went to the clinic with Mom and met her nurse, Cindy, and her doctor, Dr. McDonald.  Mom found out she bruises easily and needs to reduce her salt intake, so it was a pretty low key visit and it was good to get a picture of how Mom's doctor communicates with her.  Mom is really good about communicating with her doctor.

3.  Back home in Kellogg means back to the kitchen and I fried Mom and me up some pork chops, fried some potatoes, heated up a can of sweet corn, and combined a bean salad made for a potluck over the weekend with spiral noodles left over from last week's beef stroganoff and make an impromptu pasta salad.

Three Beautiful Things 12/10/14: Thanks to Rita, Thirty-Five Again, Kennel Club Zombie Nation Bucket List

1.  It was with deep gratitude that I said goodbye to Rita.  I am grateful for her generous hospitality, tasty and nourishing meals,  and for our hours of thoughtful conversations ruminating on the past and working to figure out all of the complications of our present lives -- and the future.

2.  As I checked in my suitcase at the Alaska express counter, the woman who took my bag and I overheard a guy at the next agent's station complain about how old he felt after the agent wished him a happy birthday.  He was turning thirty-five.  The agent helping me looked at me, saw my white hair, and I looked at her, seeing the years in the wrinkles in her face and we laughed, both wishing we could be thirty-five again and correct all the stuff we'd done wrong between then and now.  Ha!

3.  After dinner at Gordy's, Christy and I went to the Spokane Arena for the Zags/Cougar tilt.  For the first time in my life, I decided to put one experience on a bucket list.  Before I die, I want to put on a red Zag shirt and join the Kennel Club and jump up and down, cry out, "We. Are. G. U.!", sing, wave my arms up and down in front of me, and put my arms around Kennel Clubbers on each side of me and sway to the pre-game music and halftime music of Zombie Nation.  It's been a long time since I've wanted to be college aged again, but tonight I loved the Kennel Club Zombie Nation choreography so much that I've decided that in a perfect world the Kennel Club would give me a one game invite and let me do their Zombie Nation gig with them!

Three (Is Not Enough) Beautiful Things 12/09/14: Creswell Sanctuary, Scones with Jane, Sparky Talk, Dinner with Harold

1.  Rita and I went to the Creswell Bakery for biscuits and sausage gravy and a marvelous hazelnut sticky bun.  The Creswell Bakery is another sanctuary.  Is this bakery housed in a former church building or am I just imagining that?  Hmmm.  Well, it feels like a church to me and the dining area is peaceful and open, much like a church fellowship hall and it was most peaceful enjoying this fine meal with Rita in such a relaxing environment.

2.  I first met Jane King around twenty years ago when she enrolled in my Wednesday night Shakespeare class.  She has been a generous supporter of learning communities and other invigorating projects at LCC.  (Jane is a faithful reader of this blog -- she is often the reader most on my mind as I write these posts.)  Rita and I visited Jane today in her handsome apartment at the Eugene Hotel for coffee and scones and had a lovely time getting caught up. We also had a deep and emotional discussion about the difficulties of aging parents in relation to their children and the difficulties of children in relation to their aging parents.  It was a generous, tearful discussion, assuming the best about our respective family members and looking head on at how challenging it is when parents grow older and increasingly vulnerable.

3.  I really needed one more visit with Sparky.  I had to talk with her about the New Shakespeare Showcase and ruminate about the future and we had a great conversation.  Joe joined in and we covered all kinds of ground, and left each other with the hope that maybe we'll not only see each other in the not too distant future, but we both badly want to work together again....

4.  Sunday morning, I didn't make it to the 8:00 service where I had hoped to sit in the pew with Harold Lannom and possibly have a coffee afterward.  I didn't make it.  Instead, I went to Harold's house this afternoon and then we went to Billy Mac's for drinks and a fine dinner.  Harold told me about the transitions in his life, about giving up his car, about getting ready to move out of his house, about his hope for traveling to Washington, D. C.  Luckily, as a retiree, I can help Harold with all he needs if he comes to D. C., starting with meeting him at the airport and helping him get from place to place and see what and who he wants to see.  (We dreamed of a liturgy given somewhere in the D. C. area that would include me reading the Old Testament lesson and Betsy Tesi giving the sermon!)

Three Beautiful Things 12/08/14: Catching Up with Linda, LCC Quick Stop, Dinner Party Ghosts

1.  Linda and I had a lot of catching up to do.  It had been months since I popped up in her cubicle and kept her from getting work done by gabbing with her about the Ducks and other topics in our frequent sports talk conversations.  Today we got together at Turtles and each ordered a huge bucket of chicken noodle soup and talked and talked about all kinds of stuff, ranging from family matters to Ducks basketball and football.  We even talked a tiny bit about LCC, but kept away from that subject for the most part.  We had a fantastic time and pretty much got everything figured out that needed figuring.

2.  I knew when Linda gave me a ride back to LCC, that Jeff would be in his office so I dropped in to talk about the scintillating Showcase and I enjoyed all the enthusiasm he had for it -- and enjoyed talking about other things as well.  I figured I'd have a chance surprise meeting or two with old friends while at LCC briefly and I was not disappointed.  I saw and got to embrace both Hyla and Jose.

3.  Rita and I were guests at a gorgeous lasagna dinner party at Pam and Mike's.  For a good period of time, the conversation turned to oral history as Rita and I shared our experiences with learning communities at LCC, stretching back over twenty years and ending at the end of fall 1999 when Rita retired.  Many ghosts, some friendly, some nasty visited Pam and Mike's lovely new home as we dug into those memories and told our stories.

Three (Is Not Enough) Beautiful Things 12/07/14: Sanctuary, Taverns, Foggy Photo Shoot, MD Talk, Lo Mein, TroxBall

1.  I find (and have found) sanctuary in many places in my life:  home, with family, in the tavern, in the classroom, and, as you would expect, church.  Today, I returned to the sanctuary, the peacefulness, the comfort, the sense of belonging I experience at St. Mary's Episcopal Church and it was deeply satisfying.  St. Mary's has been my most consistent source of sanctuary over the last thirty-five years and I was sad to leave it behind when we moved to Maryland.  Today, with Father Ted as the celebrant, the parish's new assistant priest, Rev. Brad Toebben, preaching,  with Father Bingham Powell sidling next to me in the pew during confession, with Tom Tent singing "Comfort Ye My People", I felt enfolded into liturgical dignity, pastoral comfort, prophetic and intelligent preaching, stirring music, and the many years of history I have experienced in this church, this parish.

2.  I attended church with the Troxstar and I told him afterward that I wanted a Hammerhead beer before I left Eugene, so after a beer at 16 Tons to commemorate that we both got started there after an 11:00 service back in 2011, and then went to the High Street Brewery and Pub and enjoyed a Hammerhead.  It's still, of all the beers I've ever drunk, the most reliable, both in taste and in its power to bring back great memories of days back in the late nineties when I began drinking beer again and of trips to Edgefield and of great sessions in many McMenamin's pubs around Oregon.  See what I mean?  The tavern is a sanctuary to me.

3.  I enjoyed the foggy environs down by Autzen Stadium and near the dog park as Russell and I went on a photo stroll which turned out to be less, for me, about photos and more about watching dogs, enjoying the fog rolling in, and having more time to be with Russell.

4.  Jay and Sherri and I had, through a small flurry of text messages, decided to meet at Tap and Growler and I got to meet their friends Andy and Tracy and we had some great conversation about beer and food and hockey and a host of other topics, including the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D. C., where Andy used to live.  He confirmed many of my first impressions of the Greenbelt area, including the sad reality that the taproom movement has not yet reached much of these suburbs, just yet, but the Deke and I have been to Franklin's in Hyattsville, the joint that several of Andy's friends texted to him as a good place to go -- it was fun having these texts fly around about the place I live while enjoying a couple of sour ales with Jay, Sherri, Tracy, and Andy.

5.  I just had to have a dinner at Jade Palace.  I overdid it, but it was sure fun to go back to this place where I've enjoyed Chinese food for nearly twenty years and have a small bowl (it was huge) of Won Ton soup and a plate of Lo Mein noodles with beef, chicken, and shrimp.

6.  When the New England Patriots are on television,  I have had fun over the years watching them with the Troxstar.  The Pats are his home state squad and so their games take on a heightened importance in the presence of the Troxstar and I had fun watching the last hour or so of  their game with the Chargers over at Chez Trox.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/06/14: Ian's Bow Tie, Tech/Dress Rehearsal Lifts Me Up, I Loved the Showcase

I've looked forward to this day for months.  When I knew I'd be coming to Kellogg for an extended stay, I emailed Sparky to see if I could be a part of the New Shakespeare Showcase.  I longed to stay with this project that the two of us started twenty-three years ago at LCC.  Sparky said, "yes" and so I bought my Spokane to Portland ticket and planned a week's visit to Eugene and Creswell.  Today the day arrived.  We would be presenting another Showcase, now at the Wildish Theater in Springfield, now with community actors and no students, now under the auspices of Fools Haven, Sparky's performance company.  The Shakespeare Showcase is old, but now it is new and I was bubbling with anticipation to get going with it.

1.  The Troxstar and I went to Brails for breakfast and we had some fine food and much fine rapport and many entertaining moments with Ian, who has been the man for us at Brails for a long time.  By the way, Ian looked spiffy with his bow tie. No one else at Brails was wearing one.  He was unique. And spiffy.

2.  Tech/dress rehearsals are arduous and today's was no exception.  I love the ardor.  I love the rough edges being smoothed.  I love the confidence I gain that the tech stuff is getting worked out and, while it might be rough in the afternoon, will be smooth in the evening when we give our show.  Marcee and I worked together again and we were right on.  My comfort with Marcee increased and I made adjustments so that I would be more comfortable with the microphone and with handling my script.  Rehearsal was also reunion time.  I hadn't seen Michelle or Dylan or AnnMarie or Julia and others for quite a while and I loved being at work with them again, especially after being in other shows together in the past.

3.  The New Shakespeare Showcase was a stellar success.  We had a great audience of nearly 200 people, a magnificent surprise.  Marcee and I were tight, we had fun, and we made it clear that we loved our words and enjoyed working with each other.  This thrilled me.  The audience was alive to our show, the actors had a blast and performed beautifully, and the whole night shimmered with excitement and goodness.  I met up with Rita and her friend Linda after the show at Planktown Brewing a few blocks from the Wildish where my already high spirits were elevated more by the square dancing underway and seeing so many from the cast enjoying each other at a large table.  This as great a night for me as the Babes with Axes reunion concert back in March and I never thought the joy I felt that night would ever be matched.

Three (Is Not Enough) Beautiful Things 12/05/14: Generosity, Meeting Marcee, Stein, Coffee, Overtime, Pub Crawl

1.  It's a deep pleasure to be staying at Rita's in Creswell during this week visiting in Eugene and this morning Rita served us quiche and granola and we launched into conversation about the Symphony last night and about countless other topics we have on our minds after all this years of having taught together and being such dear friends.

2.  I was tingling with anticipation:  this morning I met Marcee Long, with whom I would serve as the co-narrator for the New Shakespeare Showcase.  I love that Sparky decided to turn what had been a one person gig -- and I've been that person for a while -- into a man/woman gig and I was eager to find out how Marcee and I would get along and how the script would sound once we got to reading it aloud.  It could not have been a more perfect meeting.  Marcee is generous, gifted, receptive, eager to work, a lover of language, and a good sport, open to joking around while working hard.  From the very beginning of our read through, we nailed the narration and I left her house with full confidence that we would make our part of the show sparkle with good energy that would help bring the whole show and the scenes being performed come alive.

3.  Before my next social engagement, I had a little extra time.  I'd been a little bit anxious that I might not squeeze in a visit to the Bier Stein, but Marcee and I were done in plenty of time before my two o'clock "appointment" that I had time to drop in and have a couple sour beers.  I loved sitting at the horseshoe bar again and I was really happy that Sarah was my server.  I don't think she realized I had moved away (and I didn't tell her).  Instead, we picked right up with the friendly conversation we've always had, enjoyed a laugh or two, and I relaxed, enjoying how much other customers were enjoying themselves and how much I love the Bier Stein.

4.  For many many years, as regularly as we can, Michael, Jeff, MB, and I have been meeting for coffee and wide-ranging conversation about our own lives, things we are thinking about, movies, reading we've done, teaching, our jobs, and any number of other things.  We reunited today and it was two hours of love expressed through open conversation and deep listening -- and some really good laughs.

5.  I wasn't expecting this at all:  Michael and Margaret and I went into overtime and extended our talk at the coffeehouse by motoring over to Billy Mac's for a beer and a bite to eat and more deeply engaging conversation.

6.  It was time to dive into the Fermentation District, into the Whiteaker neighborhood and crawl to pubs with the Troxstar and Loren.  I had to have a Citrus Mistress IPA so we braved the roars of Duck fans in two TV rooms and had a beer and then we went to Oakshire where it was much quieter and I enjoyed a winter ale and the conversations we had.  The Troxstar and I, for the sake of old times, went to the Pour House for an ESB and enjoyed sitting at the bar, downing one last pint, and cracking wise.  We walked back to his place and I flopped on the couch, saving myself some serious buzz driving!

Three (Is Not Enough) Beautiful Things 12/04/14: Generosity, Pure, Sparky Uplift, 16 Tons, Billy Mac's, Sublime Symphony

1.  The Turners generous hospitality continued in the morning with bracing coffee, chicken sausage and eggs:  a great breakfast and more superb conversation.

2.  I drove the rental car to Eugene and went straight to Russell's and, while we didn't go take pictures, we did head straight to our favorite eatery, Pure, and enjoyed a tasty and relaxing lunch, with great conversation, and we got to see the friendly server who has waited on us for a long time and she was as sweet to talk with as ever.  This was the perfect way to start my visit in Eugene.

3.  I drove from Pure up to Sparky's house so we could enthusiastically embrace each other and have a good talk about the upcoming New Shakespeare Showcase and about Sparky's hopes and dreams for Fools Haven and other projects.  Scintillating.  Uplifting. Energizing.

4.  From Sparky's I headed straight to 16 Tons to quaff a couple of beers with the mates I met with every Thursday afternoon for many months when I lived in Eugene.  Jakob was pouring and I got to talk with his dad about his kidney transplant and then Don and Richard and Cliff rolled in and we had a great time, as always, talking about all kinds of stuff and having great laughs.  As I got ready to leave, who walked in but the Deke's and my beer drinking pals Sherri and Jay -- I nearly came out of my skin with surprise and joy and after hugs and big smiles, we wrote down one another's numbers so we could make a plan to get together later.

5.  I was hasty with Jay and Sherri because I wanted to get to Billy Mac's to meet up with the gang of friends who meet there nearly every Thursday and so I got to see the great friends I've shared so many IPAs and margaritas and Caesar salads and taco specials with over the last three or four years AND I got to see John and hug Amber AND Rita joined us and so my LCC friends got to see Rita again and maybe Rita will join in the evenings at Billy Mac's.  Being at Billy Mac's and being with friends I've known and worked with for so many years gave me a deep sense of being at home and I was aching with joy.

6.  A most joyful day back in Eugene crescendoed at the Hult Center when Rita and I went to hear the Eugene Symphony play a wonderful and various program -- Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto featuring a spirited soloist, was the highlight for me, not only for how beautifully the orchestra and soloist performed it, but for all the lovely memories that this piece inspired in me as I listened.  I saw some of my very favorite passages of my life play out in front of my mind's eye and I reveled in how I've been such a fortunate person in so many ways.

Three Beautiful Things 12/03/14: Talking About Mom, Good Guy at Alaska, TROXSTAR/Souza Reunion and a BONUS

1.  I was grateful this afternoon that my sister Carol gave me a ride to the Spokane Airport (GEG) so I could fly to Portland (PDX).  I'm concerned about Mom while I'm gone and Carol and I had a good talk about what Mom needs from us kids, how we need to offer it and not be asked, and how everything any one of us kids does for Mom strengthens our entire family by alleviating anxiety, building trust, and boosting Mom's morale.

2.  The agent at the Alaska Airline desk was under some duress because he was trying to help customers while a remodel project was going on all around him.  When I presented my bag to be checked in, he sheepishly reminded me it would be twenty-five bucks, and I told him, "No sweat.  It's a small price to pay for the convenience of walking on the plane with nothing to carry or concern myself with."  I was being sincere.  He laughed and looked relieved that I was into paying the fee and appreciative of what I was paying for.  We smiled our way through his printer being slow and the rest of our transaction and genuinely wished each other a good day.

3.  OMG!  No, really!  Yesterday I had a text exchange with the Troxstar, and (OMG!) found out he would be in Oregon City at the same time I landed at PDX -- and that he would be having a few beers at one of Oregon's finest establishments:  The Highland Stillhouse, a favorite joint of mine, of Byrdman, of the Troxstar, and of T. Turner.  And guess who else would there?  Jon Souza!  What a great way to begin my Oregon visit, no, what I meant was, what an awesome way to start my Oregon visit!

BONUS:  The beginning of my Oregon visit only got better when I left the Highland Stillhouse and drove to Terry Turner's where he served me a bowl of sweet potato soup and poured me an awesome single malt scotch and we stayed up past midnight, talking with Nancy until she went to bed, and then continued gabbing between ourselves as if we were a couple of old Silver Valley guys who knew what they were talking about.  And we did.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/02/14: Stew Worked, Fruitcake Production, Mom's Meals

1.  I'm happy to report that the London broil stew that cooked all night in the crock pot made a delicious dinner for Mom and me.  I also made some cornbread muffins and a green salad.  I was especially pleased that the beef was so tender and easy to eat.

2.  Today was fruitcake day and Mom and I joined forces to get the ingredients prepared for the batter and then I became the designated stir-er and I helped drop spoonfuls of batter into the fruitcake loaf pans.  The fruitcake baked beautifully and after it cooled, Mom enriched the loaves with brandy.

3.  After dinner, I made beef stroganoff in preparation for my trip to Oregon on December 3.  Mom will have some ready to eat dinners while I'm gone:  leftover cabbage and Polish sausage, leftover London broil stew, and beef stroganoff.  It helps me feel more at peace about leaving for a week to know Mom has some of her meals already prepared.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 12/01/14: The Smallest Things, Showcase Preparations, Cabbage Dinner and Stew

1.  Mom waters her house plants every Monday.  About three weeks ago, she was watering them and I could hear her grunting in pain and I was struck by how she had to sit and rest after watering just a few plants.  She has about nine or ten plants that she moves puts on a towel on her dining table to water and about half of these plants are above her head, on the refrigerator and the buffet.  Watering her plants is about a fifteen minute job, at most, and it was taking Mom much longer than that.  I stepped in and Mom gladly gave way and now I've got the hang of it.  I can do this job just the way Mom wants it done.  So, today I watered the plants.  I got it done in no time, including dusting the television, a key task on watering day.  I know that because of her pride, Mom would prefer just clenching her teeth and doing this on her own, enduring the pain and fatigue such a simple task causes her.  It's a small thing for me to help out.  I'm remembering back to when Dad was so ill.  Mom is not in the terrible shape he was in, but one fact connects them:  the smallest bits of of help make the hugest difference.

2.  I finished writing a draft of the introduction to the Shakespeare Showcase and then had a good talk with Sparky about the Showcase and, to my delight, I established contact with Marcee with whom I will be the Showcase's co-narrator.  I am eager to get together with Marcee and get acquainted and practice the work we will do together.  I'm really stoked that the narration, which I've done solo over the last few years, is now a shared task and can hardly wait to work out the alternating between a man's and woman's voice.

3.  Early today, I unearthed a chunk of London broil out of Mom's freezer, and, after I made Mom and me a cabbage and Polish sausage and boiled potatoes dinner, I browned chunks of London broil and sauteed celery, carrot, and onion and threw it all with water and bullion and seasoning into the crock pot and tomorrow Mom and I will have a simple stew featuring slow cooked and tender chunks of the London broil.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/14: Relaxing Weekend Ends, Enjoyed Wendy's, Safe at Home

1.  Mom and I gathered our things and Christy packed up some food and holly, pine cones, and boughs for us to take home, and, in saying our farewells as we left Christy and Everett's home, we all agreed that we'd had a most relaxing, simple, and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day and weekend.  None of us wanted it to end.

2.  Mom and I both needed a rest room break and decided we'd like a bite to eat, so we stopped at Wendy's on Argonne Road and I was very happy that once she added some salt and pepper to her burger Mom was very happy with her lunch.  (So was I...)

3.  Mom and I arrived home safely and Carol and Paul kept Mom and me up to date on the progress of their trip from Meridian, ID to Kellogg and we were happy when they arrived home safely.  The Deke sent me one update when she was about forty-five miles outside Greenbelt and I didn't hear anything else, so I'm figuring no news is good news and that she and Molly arrived home safely.