Saturday, January 31, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/30/15: 10,000 Steps, Good Marriage, Peanut Sauce

1.  Today was the day to start transferring my prescriptions from Yoke's in Kellogg and Target in Alexandria to the Co-op pharmacy, so this gave me a good reason to walk counter clockwise around Greenbelt Lake to the intersection where I break off to walk to Roosevelt Center, retrace my route, and see how many steps that walk is.  I returned home and my pedometer told me I was over 9000 steps and, by the end of the day, just with steps I took around the house and those I needed to take the recycling out, I surpassed 10,000 steps.

2.  Having me home is making the challenges the Deke experiences at work much less stressful.  When she comes home, the dogs are taken care of and she knows I will or have fixed dinner.  It's a great thing that I can do something I love to so much, that it, cook, to help make it a bit easier for the Deke to do what she loves, that is, teach.  Good marriage really isn't very exciting.  It's deeply satisfying, though.

3.  When the Deke and I were living at Molly and Hiram's, I had found a recipe called "The Best Thai Peanut Sauce" (@  It's simple, as long as the ingredients are on hand:  peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, lime juice, water, minced garlic, minced ginger, and cilantro.  Throw it all in a bowl, mix it up, and a good sauce is done.  So I made this sauce because we had one package of tofu, some broccoli, some cauliflower, and a container of leftover rice in the icebox.  I used my electric fry pan as a vegetable steamer, baked the tofu, heated up the rice with the vegetables and we enjoyed a flavorful dinner.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/29/15: Pedometer Facts, Today's Project, Mom's Getting Food

1.  I was eager to hit the streets and trail around Greenbelt Lake today with my new pedometer around my neck (hidden from view, by the way).  I learned that a walk to the lake and one stroll around the circumference is around 5000 steps.  I need to find out, now, how close I come to 10,000 steps if I walk to the lake, do two laps, and walk home.  I'm also eager to find out how many steps it takes to walk to the lake, break off at the path leading to Roosevelt Center and the Co-op Supermarket, and then walking home.  I might have some pretty good options for getting 10,000 steps (or close to it) in.

2.  Today's project:  get the scanner/copier/printer set up.  Tomorrow's project:  get a pack of office paper and find out if today's set up works.  (I also got our material donations to Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul's itemized.)

3.  I talked to Mom and I'm relieved that Ann, Jane, and Carol and Paul have been supplying her with meals.  She's had plenty to eat since I left and surrendered my position as her chief cook and bottle washer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/28/15: Cold Walk, Pedometer Arrives, Vegetable Soup

1.  I arrived at Greenbelt Lake today and walked in the counter clock wise direction because it is the longer route to the intersection where I leave the lake trail and head to the co-op at Roosevelt Center. It was cold out.  I bundled up with hooded sweatshirt and stocking cap and my winter jacket and enjoyed the bracing feeling of the frigid air and also enjoyed the cloudless sky and the shimmering lake.

2.  I decided to start counting steps on my walks and today my pedometer arrived.  It's a tiny contraption with numerous capabilities and it took me a while and a handful of resets to get things right, but I did and now I can track my walks.  There's a walking website that encourages walking 10,000 steps a day and I'm eager to find out how close my walks to the lake, around, and back home again come to 10,000 steps.  I'm also curious to find out if I'm strong enough to walk this many steps and how long it will take me to build up to this total.

3.  I made good use of the vegetable broth I made the other day by making a vegetable soup.  Really, it was the best broth I've ever made for a soup, ever.  It had a pleasing sweet quality.  I think it's a result of having carmelized the onions before adding the water to the building of the broth.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/27/15: Backlit, Tofu and Broccoli, Stop Making Sense

1.  With the wind chill, it was probably in the high 20s today on Greenbelt Lake and I enjoyed a bracing walk with my Canon S95 and combined exercise with getting back into the swing of photographing my favorite spot, so far, in the Greenbelt area.  When I came back around to the north bank of the lake, the partly cloudy weather conditions afforded me the opportunity to take backlit pictures, looking south onto the lake:

2.  Ah!  Back in the kitchen and back to meatless dinners, so much better for my kidneys.  Tonight I had fun baking some tofu and combining it with steamed broccoli and a sauce made up of soy sauce, fish sauce, peanut butter, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, my homemade vegetable broth, and sesame oil.  We had some leftover brown rice.  I mixed it all up, kept it warm in the electric fry pan and the Deke and I had a very satisfying dinner together.

3.  Dan and I were hired together to teach full time at Lane Community College and our contracts began in January, 1991.  We became great friends, eventually having our offices next door to each other, and, before we retired, grabbed many opportunities to stand in one another's doorframes and have great discussions, most often movies.  Now these discussions are continuing by email.  I had recommended that Dan see "Stop Making Sense", the Talking Heads concert movie.  He did.  Now we are having one of our spirited conversations, both expressing our great admiration for this movie, for its vitality and for its joyous exploration of dystopia and absence of identity.  For both of us, the movie is a work of dada, creating disjunction between the joy the band expresses in performance while singing songs of delusion, alienation, paranoia, and the world's absurdity. The song and performance in the movie that epitomizes this disjunction is, in my view, "Life During Wartime". Deep irony is what got me hooked on studying literature back in the 70s, the kind of disjunction that moved me to love Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, many of Richard Thompson's lyrics, and the Tao de Ching and so much more -- darkness in light and light in darkness, mirth in funeral and dirge in marriage.   Stop making sense. Indeed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/26/15: Quiet, Co-op Walk, Tiny Kitchen BONUS: Rescued Film Project

1.  Students did not attend Prince George's County School District schools today so teachers could calculate and submit grades, so for most of the day the Deke and I were together in the quiet of our apartment home, each being our introverted selves, doing our own tasks, keeping things quiet by talking only on occasion, enjoying one another's company.  I'm getting back into the routines of life in Greenbelt.

2.  We needed a few groceries and the sleety weather didn't seem that uncomfortable, so I put on my coat, gloves, and stocking cap and set out for the co-op, about a mile and a half away.  I was right.  I was never uncomfortable.  I didn't get very wet.  The walk was invigorating both ways and the shoppers at the co-op were mostly people ten to twenty years older than I am and for a few minutes I thought I was back at Yoke's in Kellogg.

3.  The kitchen in our quiet apartment home is tiny.  I enjoy the challenge of working with limited counter space and not being able to stock up on scores of food items.  I had fun making ratatouille and letting it simmer much of the afternoon -- and it turned out really tasty -- and after dinner I spent about four hours or so making vegetable stock/broth for future soups or to cook rice in.  I think the last time I made vegetable stock/broth was during the last century.  I see myself enjoying getting back into the swing of this, saving vegetable clippings and ends and keeping a supply of always on hand.

BONUS:  On Facebook, Julie posted a video looking at the successful efforts of the Rescued Film Project to develop thirty-one rolls of film a soldier had taken during WWII and never developed himself.  You can view this ten minute video looking at the developing process and some of the pictures themselves, here.   If the fascinating project of rescuing and developing undeveloped rolls of film interests you, go visit the Rescued Film Project website and archive, here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/25/15: Walking Greenbelt Lake, Back to the Co-op, Dinner with the Diaz Family

1.  I woke up in Greenbelt, MD this morning for the first time since November 5th.  After coffee and some writing, I resumed my daily routine of going to Greenbelt Lake and walking the 1.3 miles circumference, seeing the lake like I'd never seen it before:  thin ice covering spots, trees without leaves, mud in a few spots on the trail.  Happiness swelled inside me.

2.  For the first time since early November I went to the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy. I was reminded of what a regular store it is.  A little dingy, a ton of Shurfine products, many elderly shoppers from nearby living complexes -- I thought, this store is not that different from Yoke's or Stein's in Kellogg.  Oh, it's smaller, but it has none of the alternative living co-op vibe other co-ops I've been to have.  Happiness swelled inside me.

3.  Around 5:30, Hiram, Molly, Olivia, and David arrived for dinner.  Hugs all around.  I think Olivia and David remembered me, but they did not call me Skin Chin, a nickname that might now be obsolete.  Out of my head, I fixed a pasta sauce with canned whole and diced tomatoes, yellow peppers, onions, garlic, and mushrooms with fresh basil, some oregano, pepper, and a dash of sugar. I augmented a bag of Italian salad with radishes, celery, and carrots.  Tonight's pasta was one of my very favorites, rotini.  After spending so much time with my sisters and mother in Idaho and Washington state, it was fun to experience how much I enjoy my family here in Alexandria and Greenbelt -- and I thought about how much I look forward to visiting Adrienne and Jack in Nyack and I daydream about Patrick coming out to see us, as well as going to Oregon to see him.  I never dreamed I'd have family on both sides of the U.S.A., but, I do, and I can't help but miss who I'm not with even as I fully enjoy who I am with at any given time.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/24/15: A.M. at Spokane International, Easy Flights, Back with the Deke

1.  I was up (a little too) bright and early at the Ramada Inn, climbed in the shuttle van, arrived almost immediately at the airport, and got great service from Alaska Airlines and got to walk through the expedited TSA security check.  This is how I like to do things.  Arrive way way early, have everything go smoothly, and then just sit quietly and wait to board the plane.  I really dislike the last minute and when at the airport I often run this paraphrase of John Milton through my mind:  "They also serve who only sit and wait."

2.  Flying to Seattle was easy.  Flying to Baltimore was easy.  I really like easy flights when everything goes well.  I spent quite a bit of time on the flight to Baltimore reading about day hikes in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia -- great state and federal parks, historical sites, and expansive green areas in D. C. and got excited imagining myself checking them out.

3.  Deke picked me up at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and we went straight to Beltsville and the Old Line Bistro and started right in on talking about stuff over a couple of beers and a light dinner in preparation for our return to our little two bedroom apartment in Greenbelt and my reunion with Charly and Maggie.  Whoa.  It's all good.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/15: Mom's Morning Report, Last Things, Sendoff at Legends and the Ramada Inn

1.  Mom woke up with two shiners, a bruise on her forehead, and another on the crown of her nose, but she slept beautifully despite her fall and didn't have any new aches and pains to report.  Her Thursday evening fall was frightening, but, all things considered, she came out of it pretty well.

2.  Since today was my last day in Kellogg, Mom made sure she I did a handful of things before I left:  go to the vision center to order a new lens, get groceries at Stien's; buy more at Yoke's; pick up fat free half and half and Dentyne gum at WalMart; pick up a variety of things at Tru Value.  I got a few last things done around the house and then it was time to go when Ed picked me up and we headed to Liberty Lake.

3.  Jake, Byrdman, Lars, Stu, Ed, Al Calahan, and I met at Legends in Liberty Lake for some burgers and a couple of beers and I was very happy that I got one last chance to see all these guys before heading back to Maryland.  Byrdman drove me to the Ramada Inn at the airport and we had one beer in the lounge and found out Ernie Banks had died and did some looking back upon the 1969 Cubs and how sad it was for Ernie that that team folded in September to the oh so famous Miracle Mets.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/22/15: Packing Up, Mom's Fall, Dinner After Mom's Fall

1.  It's time to get ready to return to Maryland and today I packed two boxes of clothes and gifts I don't have room for in my suitcase and mailed them to Greenbelt.  I also packed my suitcase.  I did these things on Thursday because I leave on Friday afternoon and I hate doing things at the last minute -- usually.

2.  Carol and Paul invited Mom and me over to their house for dinner.  I took the car out of the driveway and parked it where I always do for Mom to get in easily.  Mom, as she always does, especially when the sidewalks are clear and dry, started down her front porch steps, with her cane, and down the sidewalk.  As I was getting out of the car to help her get in, Mom fell.  I temporarily had my back turned as I was getting out of the car and it was at that moment that she fell.  She landed on crusty snow in the front yard, her nose bleeding and her glasses askew.  Mom sent me into the house to get a box of Kleenex (and, believe it or not, to turn out a light a left on) and when I came right back out, our neighbor Jane was with her, questioning her about where she hurt, how she was, and so on.  Mom sat up, accounted for her glasses, defiantly insisted she was all right, and Jane and I lifted her to her feet and she was all right, mostly.  No knee, ankle, leg, or hip injury.  The most damage was to her face.  She had a bloody nose. The frames of her glasses jammed into her face and caused bruising under her eyes and across the bridge of her nose.  We drove to Carol's where Mom, with Paul's help, got into Carol's house without incident.  She genuinely seemed good, aside from the bruising.  Her nose bleed subsided and we got ready for dinner.

3. At Carol's, Mom discovered that a lens came out of her glasses.  I went back to her house to see if I could find it.  I did.  It had started snowing.  Upon returning to Carol's, I said we must take the dinner over to Mom's before the snow got worse.  And we did.  Mom got back into her house without incident before the snowfall increased much and, despite being unsettled by Mom's spill, we all gathered ourselves and enjoyed the dinner of stuffed peppers, corn bread, fruit salad, and a beet side dish that Carol had prepared.

I think the snow that Mom tripped into broke her fall.  Even though the snow wasn't soft, I think it helped keep Mom's spill from being worse.  Thank goodness she didn't fall forward on the concrete.

Mom thinks the fall happened because she lost her concentration.  Her mind wandered and she wasn't paying attention to walking.

That's probably true.  Whatever caused the spill, I'm left with the knowledge that Mom's physical condition is fragile. Her balance especially is fragile.  Her legs, even when free of pain, as they are right now, are wobbly.

It makes it difficult for me to be packing my suitcase and getting ready to leave.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/21/15: Relief, New Kellogg, Kitchen Takeover

1.  For the time being, Mom is experiencing relief from pain in her hip, legs, and shin thanks to the shot we was given a week ago.  It means that Mom has become her 84 year old version of the energizer bunny.  She is trying to make up for lost time, but all her activity around the house puts a strain on her back and so she isn't quite the cyclone she's like to be.  I would like to see her pace herself, but that's never been Mom's way and, as I've written before, I cannot impose my will upon my mother, so I do my best to be of help and finish up tasks like laundry and cooking dinner that today Mom had to stop doing because her back was growling at her, telling her to slow down.  Mom's work ethic and devotion to cleanliness and orderliness around the house is admirable, but it can also work against her best interests when it comes to pain relief.

2.  I took another stroll in Kellogg, resuming my obedience to my doctor's orders that I try to walk a half an hour a day.  Now that the hell winds of the North Pole have subsided and Yahweh's snowflakes of wrath have stopped falling, I can get these walks in.  I thought today about old Kellogg (what was here before I left in 1976) and new Kellogg (what's come since).  Here are two pictures I took of new Kellogg:


3.  Mom pulled out an old recipe from Betty Crocker and mixed up a delicious sauce to braise a small pack of boneless pork ribs with and we had some rice and a salad.  I helped out some with this dinner, but mostly it was an impressive result of Mom's kitchen takeover.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/20/15: Strolling Kellogg, Costco and Lunch, Let's Find a Deal with Mom

1.  Mom needed some business taken care of at Wells Fargo uptown, so I walked up, resuming my walking habit, and took some pictures of things around Kellogg.  Here are three of them:

Kellogg Sky and TownScape as I Leave Mom's House

Teeter's Field: Snow Can't Hide My Failures Here

Kellogg YMCA: The Temple of Fun

2.  For her birthday, I turned a power point series of slides from Mom's cousin Helen's funeral into printed pictures and picked them up at Costco in CdA. Then I seized the opportunity to go out to lunch with Byrdman for a burger and fries and an orange beer at Nosworthy's Hall of Fame.  

3.  Mom wants to see if a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit  might help relieve her pain and so she and I, and then, Paul, and then, Christy, helped her choose one to order and she got a good buy and she's going to give it a try; simultaneously, Mom and I went over all the options for a medical alert system and we are on the cusp of ordering her one, but might be asking some questions of her sales rep before she commits to one and orders it.  Her indecision and caution reminds of what I'm like when I try to decide whether to buy a camera! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/19/15: Pho, Rug, Biscuits

1.  For Mom's birthday, next door neighbor, Jane, brought delicious Pho and spring rolls from Pho Thanh in Coeur d'Alene and the soup was delicious and warming and the rolls were tasty.  It is a gift that will keep on giving -- we have another helping in the fridge for another meal.

2.  Mom has been awaiting the arrival of a new oval rug for the TV room and it arrived today and I managed, without breaking any windows or lamps, to wrestle it out of the lengthy oblong box and roll it out for Mom.  She is very happy with it -- although she is still unhappy with the slipcover on the sofa.

3.  It was a great day for soup as Mom and I each enjoyed a bowl of leftover ham and bean soup and Mom baked some flaky biscuits, a great compliment to the soup.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sibling Assignment #152: Mom's Gratitude in Salt Shakers, Souvenirs, Gifts, Angels, Memories, and Stories

Carol served up this assignment for her, Christy, and me to write about.  Christy wrote about Mom's work ethic, here, and Carol focused on Mom's humor, here.

Carol's assignment:
Write about something that you realized about Mom when you were an adult, that didn't occur to you when you were a child growing up.
When I was a child growing up, I had no way of knowing how much material things mean to Mom.

Now, as an adult, I walk into Mom's house and I'm almost dizzied by all the objects that greet me: angels, candles, memorabilia, pictures framed on the wall, and a couch, love seat, two sitting chairs, three end tables, and an entertainment center packed into a tiny living room.  The east kitchen wall is covered with artifacts:  spoons from places all over the world as well as items that were once her mother's, her mother-in-law's, her Aunt May's, things Mom herself once used, as well as things like oversized wooden salad utensils, signs, Expo '74 souvenirs, a shelf with McCormick seasoning containers as well as old salt and pepper shakers; there's a metal hot water heater, countless mugs on a rack -- and the west wall is dominated by antique utensils accompanied by a spice cupboard, cheese grater, measuring utensils and a host of other things that Mom uses.  The kitchen also features a buffet with sets of dishes and drawers stuffed with all kinds of things ranging from candy to coupons. Mom keeps houseplants everywhere: on top of the refrigerator, on top of the buffet, on the end tables, on furniture pieces in the TV room, above the bathtub, on a round table in her bedroom, and on the entertainment center.

And there's more: closets upstairs and downstairs full of slacks, blouses, sweaters, and other apparel. In fact, there's more material items in the basement than I care to write about.

What's remarkable to me, and I never understood this as a child, is that Mom's attachment to stuff is also an attachment to the history of this stuff.

Mom has a mental catalog of where nearly every one of the items in her house came from.  She knows what things were wedding gifts back in 1952 and who they came from, what came from Bob and Ronnie, what things came from women she taught with, what things she brought to Kellogg after the deaths of both my grandmothers, what things came from her sister and my cousins, and what things came from one of us kids.  I'm embarrassed sometimes.  Mom tells me about things I gave her and I have no remembrance of it and then she can not only tell me that it came from me and what wife I was married to, but she also know where we celebrated that Christmas that year or which summer she received it.

It's the same way with houseplants and plates on the walls and old lamps.

It's remarkable.

In addition to knowing where these things came from, Mom can recall the memories and the stories attached to them.  I marvel at how Mom remembers the smallest details about things that happened that are related in one way or another to all these items found in all three stories of the house.

Every once in a while, Mom decides to get rid of some stuff and I've filled her car trunk with magazines and recycled them and taken items to a couple of charities that take in used stuff.

But, unlike me (and the Deke), who gave away at least 70% of our belongings when we moved from Eugene to Greenbelt, and felt great relief in unloading what we gave away, Mom is not relieved by getting rid of things and it's very hard for her to do.

If you are still reading this and feel moved to offer psychological analysis of my mom or if you feel compelled to use the "h" word (hoarder), please don't.

And please, you don't need to tell or remind me that my sisters and I will one day have to deal with all of Mom's belongings.

We know it.

As much as I'd like to impose my will on Mom and persuade her to take care of these things now, it's too demanding on her and I've decided not to argue with her or try to control her.

Mom knows what I think -- get rid of as much as you can -- and I don't need to repeat myself and she doesn't need to hear me repeat it.

So, this is my response to Carol's assignment: it never occurred to me, when I was a child growing up, that material things meant so much to Mom and that these things provided the many, many signposts in all the rooms of her house by which she remembers the many people she loves and the countless stories she carries in her mind and her heart.

Three Beautiful Things 01/18/15: Rose Lake Breakfast, Seahawk Pandemonium, Ham Soup and Being Introverted

1.  Old friends Jake, Carol, Joni, Wanda, Scott, Ed, Cleve, Susan and I got together at the Rose Lake Restaurant for a hearty breakfast.  Since I'm heading back to Greenbelt on Saturday, my friends wanted at least one more shot at barraging me with kidney transplant jokes (there were not volunteers!) and their fun company.  It was a great time.

2.  Pandemonium broke out at Eddie Joe's tavern with each play that moved the Seahawks closer to their miraculous victory over the Packers and the place rocked with "Another One Bites the Dust" on the jukebox mayhem when the Seahawks triumphed.  An hour or so before the bedlam erupted, I got to have some conversation with Pat Kenyon, telling him, among other things, that I had seen his old buddy Joe Musgrove at the Mad Bomber in Hayden.  It was a lot of fun to hear more about their friendship over thirty years ago.

3.  Mom took the ham bone left over from last night's birthday dinner at Carol's and cooked up a perfect ham and white bean soup and all of us found it not only satisfying, but deeply satisfying.  For me and Christy and Carol, the soup brought back memories of many Sunday dinners in our home. (By the way, as a post-dinner conversation, Paul, Carol, Christy, and I tried to help Mom understand each of our generally introverted nature and that introversion is just fine -- and that many introverted people teach, preach, act, perform, and do other things in front of other people.)  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/17/15: Sauce, Zags, Dinner

1.  In preparation for Mom's birthday dinner tonight, I got right at making the apple-cranberry-ginger sauce by peeling and sectioning apples, washing and picking through cranberries, juicing and zesting an orange, and throwing it all in the crock pot with some brown sugar.  Christy and I popped the ginger in the mix at the eight hour mark.

2.  Christy and Everett arrived in Kellogg in time to watch the Zags play LMU -- and then Paul came over.  It was good to see Gonzaga hit twelve of their sixteen free throws after suffering through such a dreadful night at the charity stripe on Thursday.  Their free throw success was part of their easy victory:  72-55.

3.  Mom turns 84 on Monday and we had a birthday dinner for tonight, since Christy can't be here on Monday.  We had a good old-fashioned ham dinner with baked beans and a potato dish Christy made. It was a jolly meal followed by Mom opening some gifts and a lot of stories and conversation.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/16/15: Mom Is A Cyclone, Charlie Don't Surf, Darrell at Daft Badger

1.  I had much better luck with the Swiffer today as I moved Mom's bed out from against the wall and Swiffered the dust that had gathered and, thanks to all things holy, I remembered to put a Swiffer pad on the Swiffer.  So, Mom's bedroom is cleaned, the TV room is cleaned; I got the downstairs bathroom cleaned and the living room vacuumed, including sucking the gunk that that had gathered in the crevice between the arm of the couch and the cushion where Mom sits.  Mom is feeling better after her shot and when she feels better, she goes back, as best she can, to being the house cleaning cyclone she was in her younger days.

2.  I drove to Coeur d'Alene to spend some time chewing the fat and trying out some untested beer places with Byrdman.  We started in Hayden and enjoyed a pint at Rusty's and then walked around the corner to the Mad Bomber for a couple of delicious double IPAs called "Charlie Don't Surf", which has moved to the top of my informal rankings as best name for a beer ever.  At some point, while we were quaffing Charlie, a guy who used to work at the Lucky Friday and lived in the Silver Valley made his way around the horseshoe bar to tell us tales about work and dope and how he'd never lived in a place as lawless as the Silver Valley in the early 1980s.  His name was Joe Musgrove. He had a lot on his mind.

3.  Our tour ended with the sampling of beers at Daft Badger, a brewery in CdA located at 1710 N. 2nd St., that is about to open.  One of its owners is Darrell Dlouhy, whom I've known since our NIC days, starting in 1972.  I hadn't seen Darrell to talk with him for over twenty years, so it was awesome not only to sample some of the tasty beers at Daft Badger, but to have a chance to talk with Darrell about days gone by and about the all important present.  The Daft Badger will open on January 20th and if you live anywhere near CdA, get over there.  The brick building and handsome taproom are very classy, the beer is top notch, the food menu looks delicious, and, if you aren't into beer, the Daft Badger will also be serving wine.  I've been following Darrell's and his son-in-law's love for brewing beer grow from brewing at home to deciding to develop and open their own brewery and being in the Daft Badger made me very happy for Darrell.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/15/15: I'm a Swiffer Whiffer, Cauliflower for the Win, Zags Got the Yips

1.  Mom ordered a new rug for the TV room.  To prepare for the rug, she asked me clean up the TV room.  Well, first thing, I thought Mom seems to like this thing called a Swiffer, so I got out the Swiffer and swiffed the TV room floor.  Mom asked me if the Swiffer was still clean.  I told her I didn't know and showed it to her.  Uh. Oh.  Turns out I didn't put a Swiffer pad on the Swiffer so I swiffed with the Swiffer wrong.  Mom gave me a Swiffer pad lesson and equipped with a Swiffer pad on my Swiffer I swiffed the TV room.  I came out and reported that the TV room was ready for the rug.

"Did you swiff behind the couch?"

I had whiffed.

I asked, "Does the rug go under the couch?"

"No, but when the rug goes in the TV room we won't be able to clean behind the couch."

I hadn't thought of that.

As I maneuvered the couch out of its tight spot, the power strip cord wrapped around one of the couch legs and suddenly lamp, telephone, computer, and phone charger began a precipitous slide. Thanks to being so nimble, I stopped pulling out the couch in the nick of time and then slowly and laboriously tipped the couch and extracted the cord and saved Mom's house from a shocking crash.

It's a good thing I pulled out the couch and cleaned behind it.

There was a cheerio on the floor.

2.  Recently, Yoke's had a killer sale on cauliflower and during our today's daily "What shall we have for dinner" summit, I suggested that we eat the cauliflower tonight and asked Mom if she'd like some cauliflower soup.  I had found a recipe online.  I didn't tell her that this would be my maiden voyage in the world of making cauliflower soup.  Mom not only said she would, but she told me about ten things she likes in a cauliflower soup.  I uttered a silent prayer of thanks that, aside from onion, the recipe covered all of Mom's desires, and, thank goodness, when the big moment came at dinner for Mom to eat the soup, she enjoyed it, with some enthusiasm.  I now have a new born confidence in the making of cauliflower soup.

3.  It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a basketball team in possession of the yips at the free throw line will always be in want of a win.  Tonight, the Zags had te yips at the free throw line against Pepperdine.  They clanked nineteen of 'em, out of their thirty-three attempts.  Somehow, though, the Zags prevailed and were not in want of a win, but won a nail-biter, 78-76.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/14/15: Two Home Runs, Like at Tony's, Seeing Juli

1.  From Mom's house, I took a walk east on Cameron, south on Hill, west on the bike trail, turned north to get back to Bunker Ave., returned to Cameron and back to Mom's house.  The most fun part of the walk was stopping at the field where I used to play Little League baseball and remembering a couple of home runs I hit during my twelve year old season and standing on the spot on the trail, which used to be railroad tracks, where those homers sailed.  The field is under snow.  In my mind, I thawed it and replayed those two thrilling moments of my boyhood.

The Fence Used to Be a Wood One

From Right Field, Looking South and West
I'm Standing Where the RR Tracks Used to Be and Where My Home Runs Landed

2.  Mom and I had thawed two steaks a day or two ago and tonight was steak night;  Carol added to our meal by bringing over some pasta she had prepared for a church board meeting at her house and so Mom and I pretended we were eating at Tony's on Lake Coeur d'Alene.  It was a place that featured steak and pasta.

3.  Ed and I decided to go shoot the breeze for an hour or so at Noah's Canteen and, to my delight, I saw Juli there and we exchanged a warm embrace and some good laughs.  For all the history Juli and I share, we never met until the All-Class Reunion in 2010 outside Eddie Joe's and now it's like we've known each other forever.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/13/15: Mom's Shot, Mom's Cords, Mom's Multivitamin Savings

1.  Mom and I went to the pain clinic where she's a patient so she could get a shot to help relive the torment of her sciatica pain.  Our drive over was easy, thank goodness, and Mom got right in, asked all of her questions, and the people working there treated her well.  Now we'll see if the pain, which she told the doctor was 10 on a scale of 1-10, will subside and she'll have relief until her next appointment in March.

2.  Mom bought cords at J. C. Penney (on sale) back in November.  She got them home and they didn't fit right.  Today we went back to J. C. Penney and Mom let the each one of the three people who helped her know that the tag telling her the size wasn't correct.  Mom took three different pairs of pants off the rack, brought two of them to the service desk to lay them out and measure them against the ones that didn't fit.  None of them was right for her.  Then she went to another part of women's wear to look at other pants.  None of them was right.  So, after about a half an hour of comparisons and conversations, Mom surrendered and got a 17 dollar refund on the cords she bought back in November.  Epic.

3.   I'm not sure, but I thought I heard Mom say, "Hell yeah" as she pumped her fist and high fived the checker at the Smelterville WalMart  when she told Mom what a good deal she got with her coupon on Centrum Silver Women's Multivitamins With a Smooth Coating That is Easy to Swallow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/12/15: Writing, Napping, Appreciating

1.  Writing.  My sisters and I returned this past week to giving and writing Sibling Assignments and I enjoyed taking time to write about Christmas and what it means to me and how our family has celebrated it over the years and what has changed.  If you'd like to read it, it's here.

2.  Napping.  Today was one of the laziest days I've had in a long time.  I took two or three naps.  Part of it was that I inexplicably was up at 5 a.m. and I wonder if the trip to Christy and Everett's wore me out a little -- in a good way.

3.  Appreciating.  Carol asked Mom and me if we'd like some onion soup and bread sticks she made and we enthusiastically accepted and so Carol brought the dinner over to Mom's house and it was really tasty.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sibling Assignment #151: Our Family and the Two Christmases

For several years, my sisters and I assigned each other writing and picture taking prompts, called Sibling Assignments.  I just looked, and I posted my last Sibling Assignment post in August of 2011. Carol, Christy, and I have decided to get this project going again, and Christy assigned this prompt to reflect upon: 

 "As we wind down from another holiday season with family, reflect on how the celebrating has changed over the years."

You can find Carol's post here and Christy's is here.

How I experience our family celebrating Christmas is parallel to how I see Christmas celebrated in the U.S.A. 

In the U.S.A. and in the Woolum family we celebrate two Christmases.  Most of our energy and attention is focused on the secular Christmas, the Christmas of decorations, lights, Christmas trees, gift giving, shopping, and other Christmas traditions.

This Christmas is magnificent and I wish we would all embrace it as the prevalent way to celebrate Christmas and recognize that the magical traditions of the secular Christmas have little to do with the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

On the one hand, I wish my fellow Christians would stop saying things like "Jesus is the reason for the season".  For Christians, yes, this is true, but for all of us, Christian or not, there are countless other reasons for the season, including spreading good cheer, being generous, enjoying lights in the midst of darkness, and dreaming of snow.  

If we were to socially recognize that almost all of us, whatever our spiritual practices, celebrate the Christmas of Santa Claus and family dinners and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we would know that when we wish one another "Merry Christmas", we are not imposing the celebration of a Christian season nor of a Christian  feast day on each other. People are wishing each other a merry day of lights and tinsel and gifts and food and generosity and all the other fun things that come with the secular Christmas.

Of the two Christmases, I readily, but without self-righteousness, admit that the Christian Christmas means much more to me than the secular one does.  

But, I do not experience the beauty of the Christian Christmas much at all outside of worship, and, more specifically, outside of the liturgical worship of the Episcopal Church.   I experience it most fully when I'm in the company of other people I've been worshiping with all year long, others with whom I've been through all the seasons of the church year:  Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany; Lent, Easter, Pentecost -- and two periods of "ordinary" time which follow the Epiphany and the Pentecost.  

Here's my point:  my experience with the Christian Christmas is almost private, certainly confined to my experience in the church itself.  

This is good.  I don't see why the experience of Christ's birth should be public.  

The secular celebration of Christmas is a public one -- to me, marked by wishing people "Merry Christmas!"  

So, I didn't grow up in an Episcopalian family. So, when I gather with my family at Christmas, as I've done the last two years, I cannot expect to have the Christian experience with Christmas I love so much -- and I'm perfectly fine with this.  

After all, the liturgy lives not only within the walls of an Episcopal Church, it lives in my heart and soul.  I prefer to be in liturgical communion with others, but this December, as Advent gave way to Christmas Day and Christmastide, these seasons lived in me.

So, to the question Christy raised -- how has our family celebration changed . . . one thing that has always been true about celebrating Christmas in our family has always been overwhelmingly devoted to the secular Christmas, to the Christmas of popcorn balls, fruit cake, cookies, nuts and bolts, Christmas cards, Christmas ornaments, gifts, dinners, alcoholic refreshments, wreaths and all the other fun things that bring us joy, happiness, and fun.  

This is exactly as it should be.  

And, yes, there has been change.

For me, the biggest change is no one comes to our family home spreading Christmas cheer. Well, most people didn't come to our house to spread the cheer.  Most came to drink it!  

Dad loved having people drop in at Christmastime.  For many of our family friends, our house was where they came on Christmas morning or later in the day to have a Christmas smash, most famously, Dad's Tom and Jerry's.   Mike and June Turner were often the first to arrive and nothing said Merry Christmas like Mike Turner walking in the house, greeting my Dad with a "Merry Christmas you fat one-eyed son of a bitch!  Where's the beer, god damnit?" And my Dad replying, "Jesus Christ!  Get your skinny ass out to the back porch and get your own god damned beer!  And Merry Christmas, June!"   LaughLaughLaugh.

Now that was secular!  But in my memory this went on throughout the morning.  Jerry and Corrine and their kids stopped by.  So did the Robinsons.  And Wayne Benson.  As I got older, friends of mine came by for a smash, many getting their initiation to the sweet battered goodness of Dad's Tom and Jerrys.  

No one comes by these days.

I don't know if the tradition of going around to people's houses on Christmas happens around Kellogg any longer.  

Today, Christmas also brings out Mom's determination.  

She has a storage closet upstairs full of lights, nativity scene, garland, ornaments, santas, angels, and other Christmas decorations.  In the basement, she keeps the tree she and Dad bought over twenty years ago.  

Mom is determined to have her house look Christmasy in the same way it has for years.  It's part of why I came to Kellogg for an extended visit.  I know Mom can't get the decorations out, can't bring them downstairs, can't bring her tree upstairs, and can't put the tree up.  

She needs help.  But it's all in the living room and Mom starts getting it all out, the stories begin to pour out of her.  She remembers where every ornament came from and if it was a gift, who gave it to her.  Her love of Christmases past and of teachers and friends she's known for years come alive again and she meticulously unwraps each ornament and puts in on the tree and as reminisces about the origins of other decorations.  

When she was younger, Mom was a Christmas tornado, bustling from room to room, putting up decorations, baking all kinds of treats in the kitchen, getting gifts wrapped, never seeming to stop.

Now, she's a light breeze.  She can't motor around the house without stopping.  She has to stop frequently, sit down, let her aching hip settle down or her lower leg stop growling.  

But, whereas her body is slowing down, her spirit and love of Christmas is not diminished a bit.  

And that love is being carried forward by my sisters who also love to decorate, bake, plan dinners, cook Christmas meals, make drinks and fill the Christmas season with their vitality.

And maybe when it comes to my place in the family, things haven't changed much.  I help where I can, but I'm a follower at Christmas.  I do what I can to help out, but I don't get much going on my own.  

I guess I could be called a Christmas introvert.  I try to find ways to listen to the liturgy that lives in my heart.  

Three Beautiful Things 01/11/14: So Long Until Friday, Mom Dozes Off, Talking Heads Concert

1.  As a send off after our visit with Christy and Everett, Mom and I joined Christy and Everett at Sandy's Drive-In in Kettle Falls for a hearty breakfast and more time together until Mom's upcoming birthday weekend.  I could relax and enjoy breakfast largely because the weather was quiet and, with assistance, Mom got safely into the car at Christy's and safely into Sandy's.  There was a little bit of snow and ice to deal with, but, Mom and I conquered it!  I know it was really good for Mom just to be outside long enough to get into the car and the cafe (and later at a rest stop).  She's been shut in ever since the snow started falling about two weeks ago.

2.  The quieting of the weather meant that Mom and I had a safe and clear drive back to Kellogg, a great relief.  Mom was so worry free and relaxed during the drive, she dozed off a few times, a good sign, so much better than when she is tormented by anxiety when a trip like this is snowy or icy.

3.  Much to my surprise and delight, Julie posted a video of a 1980 Talking Heads concert, played in at the Capitol Theater in Passiac, New Jersey.  I haven't watched the whole concert yet, but so far it's given me genealogical pleasure, as if I am looking at Talking Heads family tree and witnessing the beginnings of what will later become their movie, Stop Making Sense.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/10/15: Relaxing at Martin Creek, More Flickr Building, Dinner and the Zags

1.  Everett burns a comfortable heat in the family wood stove.  Light snow fell in the morning.  Coffee is plentiful.  The dogs are relaxed.  The cats come in and out.  Things are very slow and easy here at Christy and Everett's at Martin Creek.

2.  While joining in on the many conversations whirling about between Mom and Everett and Christy and me, I continued to build more Flickr albums and, once again, enjoyed reliving sessions of taking pictures and remembering what I hoped would happen when I opened the shutter.  I don't usually take pictures to preserve memories -- but, without intending to, that's just what I've done.

3.  For much of the afternoon, the smell of the pot roast Christy put in the oven defined the house. The dinner tasted every bit as good as it smelled:  chuck roast, carrots, and potatoes and a crisp salad. It was a simple dinner that helped give us just the strength we needed to watch the Zags defeat the Santa Clara Broncos.  The game was a lot of fun.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/09/15: CEREAL ON SALE!, Drive to the Academy, Christy's Birthday

1.  Selected boxes of breakfast cereal were on sale, FRIDAY ONLY, at Yokes, and before Mom and I piled into the Malibu to head north and west to Martin Creek for Christy's birthday, Mom commissioned me to go buy boxes of granola and raisin bran.

2.  With the money we saved on the breakfast cereal, Mom and I could afford to take a little side trip in Spokane to find The Academy, the retirement apartment building where Beverly Pegg lives, the spot that was, until 1975, a preparatory school for girls, run by the Sisters of the Holy Names.  As a turn of the century building preserved on the historic registry, it looks gorgeous, and fits handsomely into the Gonzaga neighborhood.

3.  Thank goodness:  the roads from Kellogg to Martin Creek (near Kettle Falls) were clear and Mom and I were relaxed when we arrived at Christy's for her 60th birthday and a dinner of shrimp scampi, rice pilaf, Caesar salad, and some French bread.  I can't remember the last time I was with Christy on her birthday and it was really fun to be able to take Mom to Martin Creek, and have a low key birthday party with Christy and Everett.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/08/15: More Flickr, Blissful Shave, Intro to Pine Creek Tavern

1.  My project to load my pictures on Flickr continues.  I enjoy this project because I'm not selective. Every picture I'm in possession of goes into these albums, unlike when I post albums on Facebook and am much more selective.  The result is that I see some good things in old pictures I had previously missed and this is fun.  It's also fun to relive walks, many with Russell, others at Greenbelt Lake, and others around the city of Eugene, when I took these many pictures.  I have a lot of pleasure invested in these photographs.

2.  Of all the things to find beauty in, but here goes:  when I came to Kellogg back in early November, I thought I had left a good shaving razor at Mom's.  I hadn't.  I've neglected to buy a replacement and Mom had some disposable Bic blades and I've been using them.  Today, I finally bought myself a Mach III razor and filled up the basement bathroom sink with hot water and, oh my God, experienced the best shave I've had in months.  Yes, the result was a smooth face, but that wasn't the source of pleasure.  No, the source of pleasure was the ease with which the sharp Mach III shaved the bristly hairs off my face, the heat of the water that made this ease more possible, and the absence of scratches, cuts, or red blotches the Bic shavers always gave me.  This rare physical pleasure blissed me out.

3.  Over the last several years, since becoming a part of Facebook, I've read fun accounts of friends, like Jim Etherton, who have lived up Pine Creek, going to the Pine Creek Tavern.  Early in my current visit to Kellogg, I told Ed that I had never been to the Pine Creek Tavern and wondered if we might go in some evening.  Today that evening came and it turned into a spontaneous gathering of a splinter group of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys.  It turns out Stu and Ed talked earlier in the day and Stu drove over the hill from State Line and joined us and then I texted Don (Norm) Knott to see if he could join us on such short notice and we all met in the parking lot at Barney's Harvest Foods, piled into Stu's rig, and made our way south about four miles on Division St. as it turned into Pine Creek Rd. and arrived at the sparkling, friendly Pine Creek Tavern.  I immediately ordered a can of Mountain Fresh Rainier Beer and a bacon cheeseburger, enjoyed swapping tall tales with my lifelong buddies, and loved my food.  If I were to ever live in the Silver Valley, the Pine Creek Tavern would be a place I'd go to regularly:  whoever runs this joint is doing a stellar job.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/07/15: Flickr Recluse, Mushroom Pork Chops, Holy Names/Holy Family

1.  I worked reclusively for several hours today on my Flickr account, not only uploading pictures, but also numbering pictures in some albums, cataloging them, I guess.  This effort grew out of Adrienne wanting some pictures of people holding hands to display at work.  In order for her to be able to choose which ones she wanted, I needed to number the pictures better and I want to do this cataloging with other albums as well.

2.  Mom and I took jumped in the kitchen time machine and went back to the days of pork chops braised in Campbell's mushroom soup.  I don't remember ever fixing pork chops this way, so Mom gave me some tips and it worked. This means we collaborated!  We boiled fresh beets and they tasted perfect with the mushroom pork chops.  The pork chops reminded me of when I'd arrive home late for dinner because of basketball practice or other school activities (or work) and Mom put a plate in the oven and in my memory, every one of those oven warmed dinners consisted of mushroom pork chops, potatoes, gravy, and canned whole kernel corn.

3.  Carol and Cosette and Molly dropped in this evening and a spirited discussion broke out regarding the location and the history of The Academy, the retirement home where Beverly lives.  After consulting the notes Mom took from her phone conversation with Beverly, the Spokane phone book, and the World Wide Web, we convinced Mom that Beverly does not live near Holy Family hospital, but, instead, lives in the former Holy Names Academy.  Therefore, she doesn't live near Northtown, but nearer Jack and Dan's.  It's easy to confuse Holy Family with Holy Names and we think maybe Beverly mixed them up when talking to Mom and it took an epic family discussion to get it all straightened out!  Such discussions happen often under Mom's roof and I'm always slightly relieved when the facts are discovered....

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/06/15: Baseball Talk, Madeline Dropped By, Green Beans and Bacon

1.  It felt pretty good to get out of the house today.  Rain fell from the slate sky.  The snow is getting slushier and slushier.  Abby was working at Stein's Family Foods and we had a good time talking about Biggio, Pedro, the Big Unit, and Smoltz getting elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and about Terry's upcoming annual trip to spring training in Arizona.

2. I love it when Mom has a visitor drop by.  It doesn't happen very often -- maybe what I'm saying is that I wish, for her morale, it happened more often -- but, today, Madeline dropped by.  She had seen Jane, Mom's next door neighbor, at Wal Mart, and left the conversation under the impression that Mom was home after just having hip surgery.  It was really funny, when Madeline arrived, and learned that Mom's hip surgery was quite a few years ago!  All the same, Mom and Madeline had a great talk and it was obvious that her visit made Mom very happy.  (By the way, some of you will know who I'm talking about here:  Madeline arrived while Mom was talking with Beverly Pegg on the phone -- another boost to Mom's morale.  [Historical note:  we bought the house I'm sitting in right now in 1962 from Bob and Beverly Pegg....]

3.  Mom decided she wanted to eat the leftover spaghetti for dinner and that she wanted me to fix the fresh green beans I bought a few days ago.  Then she decided she wanted the green beans fixed with bacon.  I immediately consulted Rachel Ray online and got a sense of how to fix green beans and bacon and, thank goodness, I succeeded!  Mom was very happy with her spaghetti and green beans and bacon dinner, complemented by a slice of Stein's Family Foods French bread.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/05/14: Rain, Soup, Ice Cream

1.  The weather warmed up slightly and so the snow falling gave way to rainfall, making it a mess outside and a good day to stay in the house.

2.  Yesterday, when I baked chicken, I boiled other of the pieces and today I turned the broth into chicken vegetable soup and a good dinner.

3.  The chocolate peanut butter ice cream tucked in the back of Mom's freezer is a little bit too good.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/04/15: Snow Piles Up, Talking with the Deke, Mr. Tanner and I

1.  The snow kept piling up outside.  A guy who works for a neighbor did our first shoveling and, later, I shoveled the sidewalks.  Weather like this shuts Mom in.  It's the single fact that makes it hard for me to think about returning to Maryland on January 24th.

2.  It make me very happy when the Deke called me from Jiffy Lube in Alexandria and again from our apartment in Greenbelt and we started making plans for life when I return, a time we are both looking forward to.  Much in our life has been put on hold and we are looking forward to moving forward on these matters, matters regarding taxes, finances, our apartment and personal health.  As we get these things taken care of, I might begin to feel like the process of moving, which began when we first started to prepare to sell the house in Eugene back in April, might come to an end, nearly a year later.

3.  I had a lot of fun back in the kitchen today, baking chicken hindquarters, fixing Mom and me kale, heating up boiled potatoes we had left over from a few days ago, and making salad.  I also boiled another hindquarter and made chicken broth that will soon become a chicken soup.  When I'm in the kitchen, I'm like the title character in Harry Chapin's song, "Mr. Tanner".  About Mr. Tanner, Harry Chapin wrote, "He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/03/15: Day #2 of Decorations, Mom's Feng Shui, The Kitchen is Mine Again

1.  Taking down Christmas decorations in Mom's house is not a one day job.  Oh! No!  It continued today.  I carried boxes and tubs upstairs.  Mom wants to make sure all is right up there with the decorations and their boxes, so there we'll work on that another day and I'll put things in the storage closet.  We both hope that day #3 of the decoration take down will bring this task to an end.

2.  Mom decided she's like the living room arranged differently.  No problem.  I moved the love seat against the east wall and the two chairs that were there are now up against the north wall.  I put the end tables in new places.  I gave the living room a full vacuuming.  I made sure Mom's place to sit on the love seat is equipped with telephone, heating pad, massage cushion and that that they are all plugged in and working.  Mom was ready to shake things up a little and she is very happy with the changes.

3.  The coup de cuisine is over.  I pulled a wooden spoon out of the drawer and defended my status as chief cook and bottle washer.  Mom retreated.  Carol didn't even try to infringe on my territory.  I secured my turf my making spaghetti sauce and pasta and salad and re-established the fact that when it comes to Mom's kitchen, I'm the guy.  (Flex, flex.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/02/15: Packing Up Christmas Decorations, New Riser, Carol Brings Us Dinner

1.  One by one, Mom and I removed the ornaments from the Christmas tree and Mom wrapped each one in tissue, crepe, or newspaper and I removed the garland and the lights and took the tree apart and packed it in its box.  The nativity scene is no longer on the television.  The angels are packed away and Santa and his reindeer along with ornaments are no longer on the kitchen buffet.  There's still some packing to do, but Mom and I succeeded in returning the house to what it looks like all year long -- except at Christmas.

2.  While Mom and I were packing up Christmas decorations, the UPS driver left a box on the porch and it was the new toilet riser!  It's a three inch model, perfect for Mom's high toilet and Mom gave it a test run and declared it perfect.  Christy engineered this purchase by doing extensive toilet riser research and making the order and now life is just a little bit easier for Mom around her house.

3.  Carol stepped into the coup de cuisine fray.  Once again, I did not fix dinner tonight.  Carol brought red lentil curry and naan bread and hummus over to Mom's and, well, I did make basmati rice, and Mom and I enjoyed a splendid meal, made especially delicious by Carol's generosity.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 01/01/15: Hello Travis, Mom's Coup Continues, Winter at Mom's

1.  During the Oregon/Florida State football game, I shared a few text messages with Linda and she was at a party in Eugene also attended by Travis, a student of mine several around ten years ago -- or more.  I immediately remembered Travis.  He was a really good guy, an excellent student, and a dedicated and talented musician.  Linda told him hello for me and I think I enjoyed having that moment of contact with Travis more than even the Ducks' convincing win.

2.  Mom's coup de cuisine continued this evening.  She hijacked the jars of oysters, butter, half and half, evaporated milk, and butter and made her, Paul, and me a quick and delicious,  comfortably warming oyster stew.  I was allowed to make a salad and get the saltines out of the cupboard.

3.  I'm slowly starting to take some pictures in Kellogg and continuing to become better acquainted with my Pentax Q -- a camera I've owned now for nearly a year, but that I've been slow to feel comfortable with.  (Our relationship is improving....)   Here are four pictures from Mom's house:

Mom's House

Mom's Back Yard

Looking Out Mom's Picture Window

Looking Out Mom's TV Room

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 12/31/14: Broncos Prevail, Mom's Kitchen Coup, Elks Club Party

1.  It was great fun watching Boise State stand up to a frantic Arizona come back and win their third Fiesta Bowl.

2.  Mom had me grab a small package of boneless beef ribs out of the basement freezer and she prepared a tasty bbq sauce and let them cook in the oven for a couple of hours and we had a delicious meal together.  For the time being, at least, Mom rose up and usurped cooking duties from me -- I didn't see that coming at all!

3.  At the Kellogg Elks Club, where our KHS '72 classmates Ron and Carol joined with Alan Callahan as the great cover band Remember When, to play music for the Elks' New Year's Eve party, and the Class of '72 turned out strong:    Tom, Ed, Sharon, Joni, Patty, Wanda, Tona, Diane, Jake, Carol, Rick C (did I miss anyone?).  We were the youngest table in the room! Wanda put us all in the spirit of the party when she was the first to don a Happy New Year tiara.  What could be better than to ring in the new year at 9 p.m. (it was midnight on the east coast), being realistic about the fact that few of us could make it until midnight PST!