Sunday, November 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/29/14: Showcase Preparations, Arctic Stroll, Turkey Soup

1.  Shakespeare Showcase is just a week away.  It will be performed on Saturday, December 6th at 7:00 at the Wildish Theater in Springfield.  Sparky and I talked on the telephone for a little bit about the narration and now I have a better idea of what I need to do to help get the introduction to the show written.  No sweat!  I'll most likely finish it when Mom and I return to Kellogg tomorrow. Much of it is already written, thanks to writing already completed for past Showcases.

2.  The frigid Arctic air started moving in on the shores of Lake Roosevelt, but the sun shone under clear skies and I took a walk down the hill to the lake and back up again, getting my heart pumping and my blood moving.

3.  I think Mom wanted me to build on the success I achieved in cooking up a hamburger soup in Kellogg a little while back and so she assigned me to cook the turkey soup for dinner tonight.  I took my charge very seriously.  Yesterday, I had boiled down the turkey's carcass and today I sauteed some onion, celery, and sweet peppers, adding fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped up some carrots, combined it with yesterday's boil down effort, and, late in the game, added egg noodles, and we had ourselves a pretty tasty, warming, and hearty soup.  I also baked beer bread out of a Krusteaz box and it worked well with the soup.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/28/14: Inward Peace, Online Blowout, Zags Snag Mom

1.  I achieved a sliver of inward peace by buying my return ticket to Baltimore and reserving a car for my trip to Portland this coming Wednesday and paying some bills.  It was not exactly a Black Friday blowout, just getting things done.

2.  The Black Friday Blowout occurred at Christy's dining table as she snapped open her laptop, joined forces with Mom to create a coupon pile, and they worked together to make about 10,000 Christmas purchases online and last I heard, they had save 450, 000 dollars.  Not bad.

3.  I think Mom had a conversion experience this afternoon as the Gonzaga/St. John's tightened up and she got emotionally involved with high hopes that the Zags would hang on in the game's last minute and win.  And they did!  Mom wondered when the next game would be on TV.  She might have Zag fever.  She just might be joining Zag Nation.  She definitely finds Kevin Pangos, and I quote her, "cute".  Go Zags!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/27/14: Mom Loves Ads, Invigorating Walk, Splendid Dinner

1.  My first deed after morning coffee was to drive the ten or twelve miles or so up to the Tribal Trails gas pumps and convenience store to purchase the Thanksgiving edition of the Spokesman Review.  I brought along Christy and Everett's two wheeled dolly so I could transport the paper, thick and heavy with Black Friday ads, out to the car and into the house.  Paper delivered, Mom began her traditional two hour Thanksgiving Oral Reading of the Ads -- an interpretive reading, replete with oooohs, grunts of disapproval, dramatic pauses, and well-placed emphasis.  It's been a few years since I've been with Mom on Thanksgiving Day and a few years since I've been entranced by what's on sale at J. C. Penney, Macy's, Fred Meyer, Staples, Target, and a host of other Spokane area stores.

2.  I finally took some pictures today for the first time since I left Maryland.  Of course, I left my card reader in Kellogg, so I can't look at the pictures, but snapping these photos was a part of a most welcome walk down the hill to the shores of Lake Roosevelt and back up again, a much needed forty minutes of exercise.

3.  With nary a hitch, we all worked together to make a dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, kuri squash, cranberry and ginger sauce, warm salad with brussel sprouts and apple, olives (green and black), pickled vegetables, yeast rolls, huckleberry jam, and some refreshing white wine, both sparkling and Riesling.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/26/14: Mom at Peace, Jimmy John's Initiation, Go Zags!

1.  The garbage collectors came before 10:00 and I put the garbage can back in the garage.  The mail was delivered at 10:30.  Once these events transpired, Mom was at peace.  We could hit the road and headed out to the greater Kettle Falls metro-rural area to spend Thanksgiving at Christy's.

2.  After picking up Christy's Christmas cards at Staples at Spokane's Northpointe Plaza on Highway 2, I had the honor of introducing Mom to Jimmy John's where we each devoured a Vito, a gourmet (ahem) salami sandwich that wan't too bad -- once we got about 100 little packets of yellow mustard and gave the salami and provolone and lettuce and onions and vinaigrette a welcome taste boost.

3.  Mom and I arrived at Christy's on the shores of Lake Roosevelt and, after enjoying a cold crisp stubbie bottle of Full Sail's Session Lager, I mixed Christy and Mom an old-fashioned and soon we sat down to a warming and delicious taco soup dinner and settled in to watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeat the Georgia Bulldogs.  Go Zags!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/14: Corrine at the 1313, Saving More Money, Wells Fargo Saga

1.  Back in the car.  Mom and I drove up to the high school and picked up Carol and the three of us buzzed up to Wallace and the 1313 Club, Historic Saloon and Grill, to have lunch with a family friend I've known my entire life, Corrine Turnbow.  It was lovely to see Corrine, to see how she's doing since she lost her husband, Gerry back in June, and to listen to her and Mom reminisce.

2.  Having scoured the ads and clipped coupons, Mom was ready to save more money, so we went to Stein's Family Foods and Yoke's Fresh Market and it was fun seeing Mary Pierce and finding out that Kenton's mom Amy thought I was cute while I was growing up and then seeing Abby at Stein's and debriefing the Saturday gathering of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys.  Saving all that money was fun, too.

3.  Over the weekend, Mom wrote me a check and today I took it up to the uptown Kellogg Wells Fargo Branch to cash it.  To complete this transaction, it took three employees, my driver's license, my passport, light interrogation, and nearly fifteen minutes of waiting while Wells Fargo, I guess, ran background checks, which seemed to include checking my credit rating, college grade point average, and batting average when I played for the Kellogg-Wallace Miners.  BUT, when employee number two (I think she might have been the branch manager) saw that my name was on Mom's bank account (a fact I had forgotten), the waters of the Wells Fargo Red Sea parted and she sent me down to the first teller I began with, who had just been handed the day's transactions from Stein's Family Foods and couldn't help me, so, while I waited, another teller suddenly appeared and she, after a few more questions, gave me the cash.

It was a relief.

Now I could jet down to the liquor store and complete the booze orders both Mom and Christy had given me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/14: Solving the Walker Puzzle, Seeing Mary Lynn, Food Bank Gratitude

1.  Mom is a member of the North Idaho Retired Educators and she really enjoys going to the organization's meetings -- but they are held in Post Falls and Mom doesn't really want to drive there.  Last week she asked me if I would drive her to today's meeting and chauffeur anyone else who needed a ride.  We drove uptown and picked up Barbara Fisher who has great difficulty getting around and needs a walker.  Barbara got to the car, folded herself into the front seat, and, while this was going on, I was trying every which way I could think of to get her walker into the trunk.  Mom saw me struggling and failing with putting the walker in at different angles, patiently trying to figure out how to solve this puzzle.

"It folds up, you know."

A sheepish look came over my face.  I didn't know.  But, yes, lo and behold, two "Press" buttons were conveniently a part of the walker.  I pressed them, and PRESTO, the walker folded up and fit perfectly into the trunk.

2.  The North Idaho Retired Educators meet at the Post Falls Senior Center, and Mom and Barbara extracted themselves from Mom's car and got inside without incident and I came in, checked in with with where Mom wanted to sit, and beelined over to Mary Lynn's table so I could have a sober talk with her.  Mary and I first met a couple of years ago at Whispers when I was near the end of a night on the town with Byrdman. I was intoxicated.  Even in my compromised condition, Mary impressed me as being a really good person, full of good humor and kindness.  My first impression has been solidified by her postings on Facebook, but, all the same, I've looked forward to seeing Mary again when I hadn't been out enjoying a few beers.   That happened today and I came away from this meeting very happy that a series of "it's a small world" events led to Mary and me meeting each other, sharing the many ways our lives are connected through mutual friends and her husband, and that I got to have some wonderful conversation with her today.

3. The North Idaho Retired Educators took up a collection for the Silver Valley Food Bank and I delivered it on their behalf when when Mom and I returned home.  Two people were there filling out forms to help them get assistance, the man who runs the place was on the phone helping someone work out a billing problem with Avista, and a woman came out of the back of the office and was most grateful when I handed over the envelope with the Retired Educators' donation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/14: Commode Convos, I Miss the Deke, Sunday Steak Dinner

1.  Mom and I continued our discussion of toilets and risers.  I dove into the World Wide Web, researching toilet styles and sizes, but I'd much rather do my investigation in actual brick and mortar stores.  Such investigation will happen -- but possibly later than sooner with luncheons on the calendar on Monday and Tuesday and a trip planned for Thanksgiving.   For those of you keeping track, Mom already has a tall toilet, but she'd like one that's even taller and elongated.  She also has a riser, but would like one with arms.

2.  It had been a while since the Deke and I talked.  Today we had an excellent email exchange with a follow up phone call.  I enjoyed getting caught up on some things and trying to work out some other stuff.  I must say, though, I sure enjoy talking more in person than on the phone, but our current situation is what it is.  Anyone have a teletransporter you aren't using and that I could borrow?

3.  My kitchen takeover continues.  Here's what Mom does:  when chops, roasts, steaks, legs, wings, and other cuts of meat go on sale, she buys some and freezes them.  We are working our way through the freezer.  This morning, Mom pulled out a couple of sirloin steaks and I fried some potatoes, heated up a can of Western Family whole corn kernels, and made a cabbage salad that included chopped up turnips, green onions, and radishes left over from the vegetable plate we had last week. Mom baked a couple of baguettes.  The bread was a splendid addition to our steak dinner.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/14: Making Mom's Life Easier, Blood Pressure Relief, Hall of Fame of Great Guys

1.  The things Mom needs help with adds up a little more all the time.  I can tell that every little think is getting a little more difficult.  Nothing is getting easier.  Today we continued our discussion regarding the height of toilet seats and I have begun looking into both a riser with arms attached and we are looking at the possibility of new and (if possible) higher toilet for her bathroom.

2.  I borrowed Mom's blood pressure monitor today and I got an astronomical reading with the systolic number at 201.  I couldn't believe my eyes and, so, when I went to Wal-Mart to do a little shopping for Mom, I used the blood pressure machine out there and the reading was much, much, much better and saved me a trip to the ER.

3.  The Hall of Fame of Great Guys met at Knott's Landing this evening.  Our numbers were smaller than usual, but Lars, Abby, Donnie, and I had a great time watching some basketball, drinking some beer, eating great snacks, and having grilled cheeseburgers.  We told stories, remembered all kinds of people from our past, got caught up on some stuff, laughed, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  It was a great night with great guys.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/14: Thanks to Yoke's Pharm, Merry Times at Noah's, Travel Dreams

1.  The staff at Yoke's Pharmacy worked hard to fill my prescription, going the extra mile to do what I could have (or should have) done by calling Dr. Zachem in Eugene for permission to refill my medicine.  I didn't realize the order was expired and now I'll be sure to contact my doctor in Laurel before having a refill done again.  It might seem like a small thing that the pharmacist made this call for me.  All the same, I appreciated her efforts a lot.

2.  I had to wonder, while seated at the bar at Noah's Canteen with Ed, if working at Dave Smith Motors drives people to drink.  Quite a few employees were drinking hard and laughing it up.  One guy even brought his own mix:  he sat with a two liter bottle of Squirt in front of him and paid for his vodka and mixed his own drinks.  As we left Noah's, Ed and I agreed that it was fun to see Noah's Canteen so busy and to see so many people having so much fun.

3.  Across the crowded room, Ed and I saw Buff and Cathy come into Noah's Canteen and we went over to their table and joined them for couple more drinks and it was fun listening to Buff and Ed talk about their travels, whether to NoVa, Mexico, NYC, or New Zealand -- they got me thinking about whether the Deke and I might travel to somewhere cooler this summer when Maryland is blanketed by the annual duvet of heat and humidity.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/14: I'm Not Bill Murray, Golden Days of Game Shows, Uncle Chub and Uncle Red

1. It happened again.   "Is that Bill Murray?" I heard one kid ask another from close to the Spartacus machine near the men's restroom I just walked out of at the Coeur d'Alene Casino. I stopped.  I wished so badly I could have done an on-the-spot-spot-on impression of Bill Murray, but it's not in my minuscule repertoire.   I said, "Sorry, no" and smiled as one of the kids said, "Dude, you look just like him."  Killer.

2.  One of the things that's fun about going an occasional youtube.com free association tour is to unearth junk like episodes from "What's My Line?" or to look at a pilot of a show that never aired, called "What's the Law?"  I am reminded of television figures I had long forgotten about.  Henry Morgan.  Barry Nelson.  Wally Bruner.  Arlene Francis.  Soupy Sales.  Dorothy Kilgallen. I even got to relive the ineffable charm of John Charles Daly, the legendary host of "What's My Line?"  What will I look at next?  Footage of Garry Moore? Bud Collyer?  Bill Cullen? Jack Narz?

3.  I found out today that longtime friend Rick Taylor has a fascinating family tree which includes the mind-boggling fact that if he were to walk into the YMCA today and shoot around with Y-Ball legends Chub and Red Taylor, he would refer to them as Uncle Chub and Uncle Red.  I had no idea.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/14: Contact with Zelmo, The YMCA and Albi Sinks, Fixing a Linguine Dinner

1.  We have made contact.  Abby took a flyer today and shot Ed "Zelmo Beatty" Bailey an email and got an email back.  I haven't seen Zelmo since about 197? and so it was awesome to read his reply to Abby and find out what's going on in his life these days.  Abby and I are planning a call to Zelmo in Maui, with the speaker phone on, and see what more we can learn about the big guy.

2.  On my daily walk through town today I saved Mom more money by walking to Avista and Wells Fargo to pay bills for her.  I also strolled over to E. Portland and walked by the house we lived in until 1962 before we moved to the house I'm sitting in right now.  Earlier on my walk, it was all I could do not to walk up the steps of the former YMCA, past a Bud Lite bottle with foam frozen on the spout, and buzz in and play some basketball with Chub and Red Taylor or maybe get in some ping pong with local champ Tommy Hansen.  Two steps later, I nearly walked up the stairs of the Bunker Hill Employment Office to see of Albi Sinks (a.k.a. Alibi Stinks) could squeeze me into an opening back at the Zinc Plant Cell Room again.

3.  I continued my recent kitchen takeover and cooked up some linguine with a tomato and shrimp sauce, all in preparation for dinner with Paul, Carol, and Molly.  I was happy that everyone thought the meal was good.  I am starting to gain confidence that I can do a good job in Mom's kitchen, but I'm not getting cocky, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/18/14: Uptown Ghosts, I'm the New Cook, Monumental Turkey Decision

1.  Once again, no frigid hell winds of the polar vortex gripped Kellogg, so I walked in the still, cold air east on Cameron, scaled Hill Street, and strolled through downtown and made my way down Depot Hill, turned west on Cameron and returned home.  While uptown, I felt like I was in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the town I lived in had been evacuated and no one told me. The ghosts I saw uptown were friendly, though, drinking Olys and Heidelbergs with teenaged ghosts playing pinball at Dick and Floyd's, shopping at Pat's Grocery, filing in to worship at the United Church, and buying Matchbox cars in the basement of Gary's Drug.  

2.  I decided today was the day to offer to take over cooking duties for dinner.  It's always a tricky offer.  But, Mom gladly relinquished the kitchen to me, making me think my offer could have succeeded days earlier. I cooked up a (if I may say so) splendid pot of hamburger, turnip, carrot, celery, and onion soup, cooked in a tomato paste and water broth.  I'll be cooking dinner tomorrow night, too, and I'm thinking this might become a regular gig.

3.  Our family made a monumental decision today:  Mom and I will not be taking the turkey Mom won last year to Christy's house for Thanksgiving.  Christy will be able to earn a free turkey at Safeway in Colville by buying 44 thousand dollars worth of groceries, so that will be our Thanksgiving turkey. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the difficulty of landing a spaceship on a comet and 1 being turning up the volume of a television, this move by Christy moves the logistics of Thanksgiving Day from an 8 to about a 3.  We no longer have to figure out how to thaw Mom's turkey and transport it to Kettle Falls, a task which was taking on the magnitude of putting in the freeway through Kellogg.   For many of you, the transporting of a turkey from Kellogg to Kettle Falls, as well as thawing it,  might seem easy, but you don't know the half of what a topic of conversation this has been here at Mom's house and in our family.  When Christy and I talked about it at the Kibbie Dome during the Vandal football game, our conversation, including going on line to the USDA to read up on turkey thawing methods,  chewed up the whole second quarter.  It was a big deal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/17/14: Back to Walking, Guinness at Higgens Point, Kellogg Day at Bardenay

1.  It is still frigid outside.  But, the hell winds from the Arctic have settled down and so I was able to resume my walking regimen this morning and strolled east on Cameron, turned right on Hill, admired Teeters Field, strode McKinley to Division, descended Depot Hill, returned to Cameron, wove my way through the sharp dressed Dave Smith salesmen, and returned home.  It felt really good to get moving again.

2.  Abby picked me up shortly after noon and we went straight to Coeur d'Alene to chez Byrdman and he brought out a bottle of Guinness Blonde American Lager for each of us and we took a drive to Higgens Point parked, shot the breeze some more, and headed to Coeur d'Alene for lunch.

3.  Abby, Byrdman, and I decided to eat lunch at Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery and we not only enjoyed excellent food and drink, it turned out coming to this place exceeded any expectations we might have had of eating there.  Why?  Well, as we entered, seated at a table to our left were (and I used their high school names) Shelley Knott, Cindy Bovill, and Karen Ives, all graduates of KHS in 1970 and 1971, all past cheerleaders, and all lovely, friendly women.  We greeted each other warmly and talked for a good fifteen minutes or so before going to our own table.  Shelley, Cindy, and Karen came over to our table on their way out and who walked in?  Jack Morris, who lived down the street from me and around the corner from Abby until he moved to Coeur d'Alene in the 6th grade and has been a friend of Byrdman's for the last 30 years or so in Cd'A.  We all talked more and the woman who had been our server took a team picture of all of us.  I hope I can get a hold of that picture one day.  It will forever help me relive the great happiness I felt to have a reunion with such a great crowd of Kellogg friends.

Three Beautiful Things 11/16/14: Wheat Berries and Whipped Cream, Investigation Discovery Overload, Not After Me

1.  I discovered the other day that Mom bought about a half a ton of wheat berries at Pilgrim's a few months ago and I volunteered to prepare some for breakfast.  Mom said, "No.  I want mine with whipping cream and we don't have any."  Now that I'm in my sixties, I understand that what Mom really said was, "Will you please go to the store and pick up some whipping cream so we can have wheat berries?"  So, I volunteered to stroll down to Stein's and pick up some whipping cream and returned, cooked up the wheat berries, and Mom enjoyed them, much like she had enjoyed similar breakfasts as a child, always with whipping cream.

2.  I discovered that the new lineup of Sudden Link basic cable channels includes a channel called Investigation Discovery and it's one documentary crime story after another.  Today I watched a couple of 48 Hours reruns and a piece driven by the investigative work of Paula Zahn.  Then I had to take a break -- like a long break -- the police work is interesting, but the crimes are so awful that I can only watch so much and then I have to watch something less violent -- like Sunday Night NFL football.

3.  I announced this to Carol and Mom and now I will announce it to anyone who reads this blog: when I die, if anyone says they'd like to name a bridge, road, highway, beltline, beltway, parkway, boulevard, street, avenue, freeway, turnpike, lane, pikeway or any thing else vehicles use to get from one place to another after me (Ha!), please stop them.  I don't get why it is considered an honor to have streets, boulevards, avenues, etc. named after people and I want no part of it!

Three Beautiful Things 11/15/14: VANDAL DAY Breakfast, High Fiving JOE VANDAL!!!, VANDAL DAY Post-Game Dinner

VANDAL DAY!!!! for Carol, Paul, Kai, Molly, Christy, Everett, and yours truly -- LET'S GO IDAHO!!!!

1.  Carol, Paul, and I started VANDAL DAY off just right by picking up Kai and Molly in Coeur d'Alene and having a hearty breakfast at La Peep at Riverstone where by merely saying the title of Herman Melville's finest novel, I made our server laugh for the entirety of our time at the restaurant. I can't really recreate the moment, but, trust me, I may have never said the words Moby Dick with better timing or in such a surprising way.

2.  I have a very difficult decision to make.  Before the Vandals' game, I high fived Joe Vandal. Should I ever wash my right hand again?

3.  The Vandals played a lousy game giving up big plays, failing to cash in on Troy State's turnovers, and never really getting anything going on offense or defense.  But the band was fantastic, especially the premier cymbal player, niece Cosette.  BUT, postgame was awesome:  we all met up with Walter, Elinor, Terri, Kenton, and Gerri for a fab dinner at Lamadrid Mexican Restaurant.  The conversations were golden, punctuated with hearty laughter and suffused with the warmth of friends all enjoying each other.

Three Beautiful Things 11/14/15: Guinness Blonde and Fernan Lake, Capone's Satisfies, Lux at Enoteca

1.  I drove over to the Byrdman's and he greeted me in front of the house with a couple of Guinness Blonde American Lager beers and we jumped in his limo and took a drive to Fernan Lake and enjoyed the cold smooth easy taste of this first beer in the Guinness Discovery series.  For me, it was a great discovery.

2.  Up to this point, I have not yet discovered a bar/restaurant in the Greenbelt, MD area that has the beer selection and atmosphere similar to the places I most enjoy in North Idaho or in Eugene.  With that in mind, I told Byrdman I'd like to have lunch at Capone's in Coeur d'Alene and I fully enjoyed being in a familiar place where I could enjoy a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and a Pastrami French Dip and fries.  Byrdman and I continued the great breezed shooting we started on Fernan Lake and had a superb lunch.

3.  Byrdman and I went out to Post Falls to try out a new brewery, Downdraft, but it was closed. Nearby was a taproom called Enoteca and we enjoyed a pint of Lux, a very fine Helles Lager from Ninkasi and, even more, we enjoyed talking with the woman who served our beer.  Byrdman had played ball with her dad years ago and it turned out she knew all kinds of people familiar to both Byrdman and me.  It was her first day on the job and I'd like to think a couple of fine gents like Byrdman and me helped her get off to a good start at Enoteca Fine Wine and Beer.



Three Beautiful Things 11/13/14: Snow Scrimmage, Mom's Jaw Drops, Forensic Sleep Aid

1.  The cold snap, a.k.a. the Polar Vortex, continues to sit in Kellogg, reminding me of a great recess when I was in the fourth or fifth grade when the teachers let us play outside without supervision. About six inches of powdery snow blanketed the playground and, free of adults, we organized one of the best tackle football scrimmages I ever experienced in my whole life.  I came back to class snowy, eventually pretty wet, but my face burned with the pleasure of doing what the teachers would never let us do and with the illusion that I knew what it felt like to be a Green Bay Packer playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

2.  With the TV room under control, it seemed like a good day to sweep the kitchen, vacuum the living room and hall, and to pull Mom's chair out, vacuum under it, and vacuum Mom's chair itself. Luckily, Mom survived the mild shock of having me do this without being asked.

3.  How is it that watching reruns of HLN's "Forensic Files" on the tiny television in the basement bedroom helps me sleep at night?

Three Beautiful Things 11/12/14: Before Putting on the Slipcover, Covering the Couch, TV Crash

1.  In order to put the sale-priced wine-colored slipcover from Target on the couch in the TV room, Mom told me I had to:

  • Pull the couch away from the west wall and window and wash the wall, wash the woodwork, wash the window, and wash the blinds
  • Vacuum the couch
  • Pull the two tables of plant and the end table on the south side of the room away from the wall and the window and wash the wall, wash the woodwork, wash the window, and wash the blinds
  • Vacuum the floor
  • Mop the floor
  • Put the couch back in place, pull out the hide-a-bed and vacuum it.
So I did.

2.  Once I completed the above tasks, Mom and I struggled, but kept our patience and our cool, and put the slipcover on the couch.

3.  I then cleaned the woodwork on the east side of the TV room, as Mom directed me to do.  Mom did not, however, ask me to knock the television off its stand, but, sigh, I did.  It was the only loud crashing noise that marred an otherwise successful cleaning project.  Fortunately, the TV still works.

Three Beautiful Things 11/11/14: Slipcover, J. C. Penney Happy Dance, Hair Cut

1.  Mom took some time this morning to gather her ads and coupons and we headed to Coeur d'Alene. First stop: Target and Mom bought a wine-colored slipcover (at a HUGE discount) for the TV room couch.

2.  Next up:  J. C. Penney.  I had two 25 buck gift cards and Mom had a 10 buck coupon, and 10% off coupon, and she got 20% off for using her charge card.  I used my gift cards and the help of Mom's coupons to buy two pairs of jeans and Mom bought me two pairs of pajama pants (a.k.a. limousines for the legs).  She bought herself some other things and she saved, if I remember correctly, about 31,000 dollars. I then got to see her fling her cane across the J. C. Penney parking lot and dazzle shoppers leaving and returning to their cars with her energetic J. C. Penney happy dance.

3.  I had a great time talking with the woman in the J. C. Penney salon who shampooed and cut my hair and I think getting an inch and a half lopped off makes me more tolerable company for Mom -- she had made it clear to me last week that "I like it better when your hair is shorter".

Three Beautiful Things 11/10/14: Finding Sherrie, Picking Up Scout Slack, Wal-Mart Happy Dance

1.  I drove Mom to Osburn and paid her Sudden Link bill (Mom won't pay the price of a postage stamp to pay by mail) and then we went in search of Sherrie, the woman Mom was entrusting the alteration of her new coat (that she saved 200 thousand dollars on).  Mom didn't know Sherrie's address but was SURE Sherrie lived next to the new restaurant in Osburn.  We went to the new restaurant and no one lived next to it, so then we followed some directions a woman at Sudden Link gave us and went to the wrong house.  We were stumped.  So we parked the car and Mom got out her cell phone to call Jane, BUT she doesn't know how to use her phone to find her contacts list, so she didn't know Jane's number by memory.  Luckily, I had enough cell phone savvy that I opened her contact list, she called Jane, Jane gave us Sherrie's address and we dropped off Mom's coat.

2.  I drove Mom back to Kellogg and we stopped at the Food Bank to make donations, the donations that "the Boy Scouts were supposed to pick up" and then saved Mom another postage stamp by paying her sewer bill at City Hall.

3.  The best was yet to come. The day reached its climax at the Smelterville Wal-Mart where Mom not only picked up some butter and diet tonic water and fat free half and half, but she also bought some other products at a great discount by using Fred Meyer coupons that Wal-Mart accepted.  Mom was so happy when she redeemed these coupons and saved more money that she nearly flinged her cane across the Wal-Mart parking lot and kicked out a happy dance.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/09/14: Casino Floor Coffee, Divine Licorice, Early to Bed

1.  I went down to the casino floor at 7 a.m. to start drinking coffee and Ed was at it, racking up the dollars at an ancient Egypt themed machine.  I marveled at his good luck.  He didn't, however, inspire me to try my luck again, and I stuck around to shoot the breeze and before long Mike and Jake appeared and we slowly made our way over to the buffet for substantial breakfast.

2.  Jake, Ed, and I said, "Later" to Mike, who headed home to Yakima, and we headed toward Kellogg, with an early stop at the Country Mercantile store.  Man.  Jake bought a bag of black licorice pieces and shared some with me and, no kidding, I couldn't remember ever eating such tasty and satisfying licorice.

3,  My bad luck at the Wildhorse Casino meant I was in bed early so I got good sleep, but, I'd been traveling quite a bit by the time I returned to Mom's and got more sleep in the afternoon and went to bed early in the evening.

Three Beautiful Things 11/08/14: Settling In at the Bar, Duane's 'Vette, Meeting Delise

1.  My hopes of reversing my lousy luck were quickly dashed, so I found myself a spot at the bar at 10 a.m. in the Wildhorse Sports Bar, ordered a Bloody Mary, followed by several slow frosty Budweiser (the King of) beers and settled into a late morning and fun afternoon of college football broadcast on television screens wherever I looked.

2.  Jake joined me in the Wildhorse Sports Bar and we made fast friends with Duane from LaGrande via the Lone Star State.  Duane's wife was playing machines and Duane was pounding down Royal Crown and Cokes and he told us all about the 'Vette he'd recently purchased and, when his wife came to check up on him, she got out her phone and showed us pictures, in living color, of Duane's gorgeous car.

3.  I tried one last time to reverse my luck.  I failed.  I was done playing for the weekend.  But, I got to meet the lovely Delise.  Delise is the hotel's host and she's the person Ed and Mike call when we are coming to the Wildhorse Casino and it's Delise who rewards us with free rooms for being such fine patrons of the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton.

Three Beautiful Things 11/07/14: On the Road, Ritz Roadhouse in Ritzville, Let the Failure Begin

1.  Ed got up at the crack of self-employed and and delivered a guy a load of gravel, went home, cleaned up, and then picked me up at Mom's at 8 a.m., right on schedule and we were on our way to the annual November weekend at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton.

2.  Ed and I arrived at Jake's, Ed parked his pickup, and we climbed into Jake's Subaru and drove straight to Ritz Roadhouse in Ritzville and devoured a big breakfast, building a good foundation for the big weekend to come at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton.

3.  Mike arrived ahead of us.  We met, went to the check-in area, figured out our hotel rooms, found out that being such excellent patrons meant our rooms were comped, and, for me, the fun of failure began, but before the machines reached into my pocket and took every twenty dollar bill I carried, I slipped into the Wildhorse Sports Bar for a frosty Budweiser and then joined the boys in the Hot Rock Cafe for a burger and some fries.  Refreshed, nourished, I returned to the casino floor and my bad luck continued.  Ha! What did I expect!

Three Beautiful Things 11/06/14: Dave Smith's and Abby, Eager to Go, Cookin' with Mom

1.  I took Mom's Malibu down to Dave Smith's for a recall repair and on my way down to pick it up, I had a great talk with Abby at Stein's grocery store.

2.  Ed told me he'd pick me up at 8 a.m. Friday morning to go to Pendleton, but was read to go twelve hours early, at 8 p.m.

3.  I bought some Soba noodles at Yoke's and Mom and I collaborated on a chicken/vegetable stir fry.

Three Beautiful Things 11/05/14: Way Early, Laptop Left Behind, It All Worked Out West

1.  I am overly cautious.  I admit it.  Today I left our apartment home way (way) early and everything worked out.  I not only rode the correct bus to the Greenbelt Station, but I boarded the correct bus to BWI airport and everything went smoothly as far as getting checked in, getting through security, and ordering a tuna sandwich at Subway.

2.  There was one slight glitch.  When it came time to take my laptop out of my computer bag, I suddenly discovered I left it behind, in our apartment home.  I laughed at myself while shaking my head, knowing it figured, and strode forward through security with confidence that the Deke would ship my computer to me in Kellogg.

3.  Everything clicked in Seattle -- I managed to order a short Pike at Starbucks and boarded the airport train to the correct gate and flew to Spokane where sister Carol was waiting for me in the cell phone parking lot.  I sure enjoy it when everything works out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/04/14: Picking Up the Deke, Sparky Called!, Excellent Dinner

1.  The Deke had a solid weekend visit with Molly and family and I had an easy drive to Groveton to pick her and the corgis up and we had a pleasant, easy drive back to Greenbelt.  It was really good to be back together and heart warming to know her visit had been so good.

2.  Sparky called and we talked over some things related to the December 6th Shakespeare Showcase being given at the Wildish Theater in Springfield.  Some uncertainty underlies this show.  It's the first Showcase away from LCC and so logistics and rehearsal and support is all pretty different -- and it's exciting and I loved being back talking with Sparky about this next venture.  It's hard to believe that this all started in December of 1991 in the basement of the Center building so many years ago and that Sparky and I are still working together.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to get back to Eugene after this one to help out again, but I'm sure happy it's working out this time.

3.  I won't be cooking for the Deke and me again until some time in 2015, and I had fun putting together a tofu mushroom stroganoff over egg noodles and it made me very happy that the Deke enjoyed it a lot and has two containers of leftovers to boot.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/03/14: New Tax Accountant, High Time to Get to Beltsville, Shannon Behind the Bar

1.  I awoke, pulled myself together, and met my 9:00 appointment with our new tax accountant and it was a really good visit.  I don't know how our tax bill is going to end up, but, for me, things felt chaotic on the tax front with our move to Maryland and Bill, the guy I saw today, helped me see that things aren't nearly as confusing as they were in my head.

2.  Sometimes, like Ishmael, "whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to" well, to get to Beltsville.  So, to Beltsville I went today. I enjoyed the well-lighted interior of Petco (PetSmart is dingy to me) and bought some dog food and snacks and I went up the road to the Old Line Bistro and satisfied my longing for a margarita and ate half a chicken Caesar wrap (I brought the other half home) and sipped on a half pint of Breckenridge Fresh Hop Pale Ale.

3.  Shannon was working the bar at the Old Line Bistro and she was fun.  She enjoyed conversation and went down to the end of the bar to talk with a couple guys down there and then made her way to my end of the bar and told me about the one time she took a trip to Portland and to Mt. St. Helen's and how much she enjoyed the waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge and the lava caves at Mt. St. Helen's.  She was never overbearing, checked in on me at just the right times, and made my lunch in Beltsville most enjoyable.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 11/02/14: Warm Morning at Holy Cross, Delivering Boxes, The Vacuum Cleaner Works

1.  Since I'm going to Kellogg Wednesday, this morning was my last chance to see Rev. Betsy Tesi for a while and to worship at Holy Cross.  It was a splendid morning.  Betsy gave a very stimulating, and at times very funny, sermon on Christmas shopping, Sunday brunches, All Saints' Day, the Sermon on the Mount, and the joy of baptism and living in the presence of God.  After the service, a Holy Cross member sat next to me and we had a wonderful visit and the same thing happened with a two other Holy Cross members in the fellowship hall.  I could tell, from the first time I attended Holy Cross, that I felt welcomed there and never more so than this morning.

2.  Betsy and Martin are moving out of their apartment soon and I took boxes with me this morning and followed Betsy over to her apartment to drop off them off.

3.  I'm lousy at putting things together, but I breathed slowly, settled my nerves down, took all the parts out of the box, carefully examined the illustrations, and succeeded, yes, succeeded in putting together our new vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the living room and hall carpet and, to top things off, figured out how to use the pet hair attachment and vacuumed the furniture.  I was temped to take a nap I was so relieved, but, to get ready to assemble the vacuum cleaner, I'd already taken a nap to escape my anxiety, so fixed myself mushroom soup from scratch instead and settled into the evening.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pictures from Greenbelt

Behind our apartment home/complex . . .I enjoy looking out back and seeing these different trees. This weekend the wind has whipped up and the leaves are disappearing...




It takes the dogs and me no more than fifteen minutes to walk from our apartment to Greenbelt Lake. Here are some pictures of the park, the lake, and trail that goes around the lake:






 The park and the trail:






I'll end with some reflection pictures:




Three Beautiful Things 11/01/14: Morning with David and Olivia, The Long Way Home, Shopping Spree -- Heh

1.  Olivia and David woke and went straight to their Legos, the huge kind, and before they had eaten a bite of breakfast built towers and trucks and played together, picking up where they left off when they went to bed.  Once at her bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, Olivia opened up to me in ways she hasn't before and described the school work Molly has hung on the kitchen wall.

2.  I decided to try a new route driving from Groveton to Greenbelt and I messed it up and drove into D. C.  Once there, utility work on New York Avenue NE clogged traffic to a near standstill, but at least I learned that New York Avenue NE is Route 50 and I know where Route 50 goes heading east, so I didn't sweat my error and eventually I got to the Baltimore Washington Parkway -- exactly where I wanted to be originally.  The time I spend reading maps and paying attention to signs and routes while driving, because I don't have GPS, paid off and, yes, my drive to Greenbelt wasn't very efficient, but I learned a lot and I'm none the worse for it.

3.  Today might have been my last spending spree -- well, at least, for me, a spending spree -- for a while.  I'm not one who shops very often, but I went to the Arundel Mills Costco store and bought a vacuum cleaner, a pair of pillows for the king bed, and a couple of bath towels and then I came back to Greenbelt and picked up a couple of camera related items at Staples and went across the street to Target and bought a 2 quart saucepan, a Corningware casserole dish, and a box of five Pyrex storage containers.  For those of you who shop until you drop, this might seem pretty minor, but buying this many items in a single day is way out of character for me -- I think I'll be okay.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 10/31/14: Picture Time, Grandkids and Halloween, Good Karma at Giant

1.  I hadn't sat down and spent time with pictures I'd taken for a while.  It was fun doing some light editing and seeing what pictures from behind our apartment complex and down at Greenbelt Lake looked like.  Later this evening, I'll post some of them here at kelloggbloggin and send some out to those of you who don't see my FBook albums.

2.  The Deke and I arrived at Molly and Hiram's just in time to see Olivia, as a fairy princess, and David, as a dog, head out to do some light trick or treating.

3.  I was in the self check out line at Giant and the woman ahead of me saw my 4 pack of Dogfish Head IPA 90.  She was just about done scanning her groceries and exclaimed, "That's what I forgot.  Beer!"  I said, "Want to take this one?  I'll just go get myself another."  I think she was taken back a little by my offer but a she smiled widely and accepted.  I went back to the shelf of room temperature beer where I'd picked up that four pack, but only one four pack was left and it only had two bottles in it.  "Well," I said to myself, "I guess I'll have to find the Deke a different imperial IPA or something else she might like."  Now, mind you, I had been to the refrigerated section earlier and didn't find any cold Dogfish Head IPA 90.  But, this time, upon my return, I found the beer the Dogfish Head 90, the very beer Deke wanted and, hold on:   it was cold!  Perfect!  Sometimes things just work out for everyone.