Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/30/15: Car Delivery, Smoking Cigs in the Car, Gin and Fresh Squeezed IPA

1.  I'm house/dog/cat sitting for the Diaz family this coming week and the Deke will use their Element while they are gone and the Deke is under the weather so I drove the Sube down to Groveton, saw the Diaz family off as they headed off to their family reunion, and then I drove the Diaz's Element to Greenbelt. Luckily, the traffic on the Beltway was light to moderate in volume (I only had to brake to a stop once) and so I enjoyed driving the down and back.

2.  Getting back to Groveton involved more transfers and modes of transportation than usual.  Ha! You see, the Greenbelt Metro station is closed this weekend for major track replacement and so after I rode the G12 to the Greenbelt station, I then rode the Metro shuttle bus to College Park station where I boarded the Green line train -- it was running the opposite way from what it usually does -- that disoriented me a bit, but burly Metro employees with strong voices called out instructions as to which train to board and I believed them! -- rode it to my old favorite station, Archives, where I crossed the platform and got on the Yellow line for Huntington.  Once at Huntington, I needed to catch the Fairfax Connector bus #161 to the corner near the Diaz's home, but the 161 runs hourly on Saturdays and I had about a thirty minute wait.  Goodness looked down upon me and a slightly disabled woman about my age with a cane, though.  The 161 waiting area was in the shade and a breeze had kicked up.  Not only that, Molly was kind enough to do some text messaging with me to make the time fly and we had a fun "talk" about travel and kids and those days fifty years ago when both the Deke and I traveled in our parents' cars without a/c, the windows closed, and both of our parents smoking.  Ha!  Those were the days and before I knew it, the 161 arrived, I got off at Harrison Lane and Bedrock and strolled the short distance to my home for the next week.

3.  Once back to the Diaz home, I drank a couple Seagram's Gin with Twisted Lime on the rocks, fell asleep for a while, and later went to Shoppers and much to my delight and amazement, not even looking for it, I found a six pack of Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, one of my favorite of all beers.  I was too tired when I got back home to enjoy a beer, but I look forward to drinking about one a day as this week progresses. There might be a lot of things going downhill in the world, but, right now, in the world of beer, things are going uphill and having Bend, OR's Deschutes beer migrate to the Mt. Vernon Shopping Plaza in Hybla Valley in Alexandria, VA is one sign of things being pretty good.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/29/15: Step Count Back, Stable Kidneys, Johnny and Dave

1.  I got my replacement pedometer working again and now I'll once again have a record of my steps.

2.  I had blood drawn on Tuesday and the results came to me today and nothing has changed much, The key kidney numbers are stable and that's as good of news as I can hope for with my disease.

3.  I looked at some videos on YouTube from 20 to 25 to 30 years ago of Johnny Carson on the David Letterman show and of Dave on Johnny's show.  I didn't know David Letterman made Johnny Carson so giddy. It was fun to see Johnny Carson get so wound up and work so hard to make Dave laugh -- and to see him succeed.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/28/15: Drive to Groveton, Flying Carpet on the Beltway, The Movie *Calvary*

1.  I took a drive down to Molly and Hiram's to deliver a couple of child car seats.  I start my dog/house sitting gig at the Diaz's on Saturday and wanted to make sure I understood what I needed to do to help out. I got it all straight and had some solid conversation with Molly.

2.  That U-Haul-like truck, with graffiti painted on the side, open in the back, about half full of carpet remnants?  Yeah, the one that had pieces of carpet falling out the back on the Beltway?  I got around it before I was forced to tangle with any of the rogue pieces of carpet intermittently littering the freeway.

3.  I watched Calvary this evening, a movie in which Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, a priest who listens, in the confessional, to a man who was sexually abused and assaulted as a boy threaten to kill him the following Sunday, not because he's a bad priest, but because he's a good priest.  The movie then examines the week of the priest's life leading up to the day when we find out whether the abused man will actually carry out his threat.  The story is existential as Father James confronts whether his life and vocation has purpose or meaning and the movie, I thought, followed, roughly, the structure of the medieval morality plays where the central figure faces the the evils of life embodied in individual characters.  My rough estimation is that as Father James approaches his possible death, he confronts,in the village where he lives, embodiments of Self-destruction, Greed, Arrogance/Pride, Lust, Cowardice, Drunkenness, Anger, and Murder.  The characters who embody these qualities mock Father James' vocation and test his compassion, the strength of his priestly resolve, and his courage. Like the old morality plays, this movie, in its structure and approach, feels artificial, but, to me, not in a bad way.  Its artificiality compresses and magnifies the trials this good priest faces into a seven day structure and draws upon a very old style of story telling to tell a most contemporary and unsettling story.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/27/15: Caring for the Deke, Julie Swoons;Enter the Oysterband, Vaughan Williams Concert

1.  We saw it coming on Memorial Day, but the Deke pushed through the school day on Tuesday, but, at the end of the day, her voice was shot and she was fatigued and so she reported herself as ill for Wednesday and stayed home.  I kicked into my shopping and cooking gear.  I went to the Co-op and picked up some tapioca pudding, orange juice, lemonade, a whole chicken, chocolate, shortbread cookies, and some other items and returned home and cooked down the chicken, pulled it out of the pot and let it cool, cooked some onion, tomato, red potato, garlic, carrots, and celery, threw some paprika, oregano, basil, thyme, and red pepper flackes into the pot, pulled the chicken off the bone and tore it into small pieces, threw the meat in the pot, let it stew for a couple of hours, and the Deke and I had ourselves a hearty chicken soup.  I'm hoping it was as medicinal as it was tasty.

2.  Julie enthusiastically posted on Facebook that her favorite (and the most handsome) polkameister, Alex Meixner, will be playing at the Johnstown Polkafest over the weekend and I suddenly flashed on my love for the Oysterband's version of the polka song, "New York Girls" and suddenly I was awash in nostalgia for the days nearly twenty-five years ago when I discovered the Oysterband and I gave myself a concert and relived the deep pleasure songs like "Gambler (We Don't Do That Anymore)", "Too Late Now", and "All that Way for This" give me.  "Too Late Now" has a few lines that I have always loved:

You bought up the props for a world that never was
Now there's holes in the scenery and less and less applause.
This sentiment is punctuated throughout the song by the repeated words, "Too late now".
I'll confess right now, that this has been my greatest fear in my life -- that at any time I am living a false life, propping up a false world, a false story about my life, and then, confronting the discovering of the holes in the scenery.  I don't want that.  The Oysterband helps me keep it real, as has my study of so much literature over the years, as has so many movies and plays that tell stories about characters living in an illusory world, not the one they are really in.  The illusory world is so tempting -- and when it all comes apart, it's so painful. And it's always too late now.

3.  Via highways and biways I can't briefly explain, The Oysterband led me to two gorgeous compositions created by Ralph Vaughan Williams:  Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus" and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.  These two pieces bring back lovely memories of hearing Vaughan Williams live in concert as well as Vaughan Williams concerts I used to give myself via my mp3 player after school in Eugene while waiting for buses or while I rode those buses or as I walked home from the station or from the High Street pub after a couple or three Hammerheads.  Vaughan Williams transports me, takes me out of myself, stirs my deep feelings -- and it was a pleasure to have that experience again tonight.

Oh!  All this music was delivered to me by the miracle of YouTube.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/26/15: I'll Do My Part, Memory Card (Re)Discoveries, Golf and Golf Courses

1.  The woman working the front desk at LabCorp, where I have my blood drawn, chuckled when I told her that I saw my order included urinalysis and that "I'm ready any time to do my part."  She immediately reached for a cup and said, "You know where the bathroom is, right?"  "I sure do."

2.  I spent much of the day reviewing memory cards that hold pictures I lost on the external hard drive I busted nearly three years ago.  I found more pictures I hoped I'd find -- I made more folders and made more flickr albums, with many more to come.  I've resigned myself to what I think is the fact that I have lost the card with my end of June, 2011 pictures on it -- the ones I took in Ashland and on the Rogue River driving home.  It's disappointing, but I keep hoping they'll surprise me and pop up...but that hope is pretty faint.  (I loved that weekend with Bill and Diane and I had a great time taking pictures....but everything is temporary, right?)

3.  I finalized a decision with the financial guys today, but when Dillon and I got to talking about the wonders of the game of golf and about golf courses in this area, that was more fun than talking about income and draw downs. I detected melancholy in my voice when I explained why I don't play any longer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/25/15: High Energy, Recovery, Another Flickr Day

1.  It was a lively morning:  Jack woke up, and as always, he's right at it, ready to eat, play, and be busy.  Soon Molly and Olivia arrived and then Olivia and Jack got right at it chasing a squirrel out back, then began the cycle I remember so well from when I was a boy:  coming in/going out, coming in/going out, coming in/going out about a hundred times.  Soon they settled again inside, playing and imagining all kinds of things, prancing between the guest room and the living room.  Endless, and I mean, endless energy!

2. I went back through memory cards from my picture taking past, hoping I'd find pictures that I lost when I sropped and busted an external storage drive back in 2012.  There is one weekend of pictures from Ashland that I'm very sorry is lost forever, I'm afraid, but that was balanced out by a set of pictures I took in Cataldo and then on up the North Fork that I thought I'd also lost, but that today I found.  Finding these pictures helped me feel better about the ones I lost forever -- well, not totally lost -- some of them are in Facebook albums, but they are shrunken versions.

3.  My uploads onto Flickr increased several fold today as I worked diligently to upload pictures on my hard drive into the Flickr-verse.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/24/15: Church with Adrienne, St. Andrew's Selfie, Speaking With Other Languages

1.  Originally, I planned to go to the 8:00 service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in College Park, but as the time drew near to get cleaned up and take off, I was the only person in our apartment home awake, except Jack, and I stuck around to keep an eye on him and decided to go to the 10:30 service. No problem.  This definitely turned out to be "no problem" when Adrienne told me she'd like to go to church with me. This made me very happy and so we both got ourselves ready and headed out for the Pentecost Sunday service, a huge and wonderful and very upbeat day in the church calendar.

2.  As we walked closer to the church, Adrienne informed that we'd have to take a selfie outside the church.  I had no idea!  But, no problem, and here's the picture Adrienne snapped of us about to worship in celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit, for many, the birthday of the church:

3.  When the descent of the Holy Spirit is described in the Book of Acts, we learn that many languages are spoken and, this morning, at St. Andrew's, the gospel reading from John was read in many languages ranging from French to Finnish to Hawaiian Pidgin English to English itself.  I'd never experienced this way of dramatizing the Pentecost before. It inspired and moved me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/23/15: Dream Pasta Sauce, Beer From Coast to Coast, The Deke Nailed It

1.  When the Deke and I are here at our apartment home and eat pasta for dinner, we just open a can of tomatoes, spice 'em up, heat 'em up, and put 'em over the pasta.  But, today, with Adrienne, Jack, Molly, Hiram, Olivia, and David visiting us and having dinner, I decided to go all out and make a more ambitious sauce.  I imagined what I'd like that sauce to taste like, went to Pinterest, and I found just the recipe and I tripled (!) it. I started with almost browning a head's worth of garlic, pouring two pounds of ground beef and one pound of sweet ground sausage on top of it, and browning the meat all the way through.  I salted and peppered it. On top of the meat I poured three cans of crushed tomatoes and three cans of tomato paste.  (Ah!  This sauce was getting sweeter and sweeter.)  Then I added 12 oz. of red wine and two tablespoons of sugar, poured in a generous helping of dried oregano, andton of fresh basil.  It was easy to put together and I cooked all afternoon.  It turned out just the way I hoped it would and tasted great -- and, to make the cooking of the sauce even more fun, the grown ups all liked it, too.

2.  I'm a coast to coast beer drinker.  I enjoy the east coast beers I've been introduced to out here from Georgia, New York, Virginia, DC, and Maryland and I like the beers from the middle of the USA, from Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio; and, I love those Colorado beers.  Today, Hiram made the pleasure of drinking a Portland, OR beer possible.  He brought over some Upheaval IPA, brewed by the Widmer Brothers.  As the bottle says, it's unfiltered, unexpected, unapologetic, and uncompromised.  For me, it was unreal, for the second weekend in a row, to drink some Oregon beer and this one hit the spot.  It's fun to enjoy beers from across our great nation.  Cheers!

3.  Yeah, the Deke and I could have gotten by fine with a one bedroom apartment home, but the Deke can see into the future and in her Nana crystal ball she saw a second bedroom not only as a guest room, but as a play room for David, Jack, and Olivia.  She was so right on the mark.  Today, our grandchildren got out the different toys their Nana has supplied the room with and played and played and played.  Yes, they came sprinting from their back play room out to report an injustice perpetrated among them or to tell us something they were doing or just to extend their play space from the back to the front of our little abode, but it has turned out to be a perfect decision that we decided to rent two bedrooms, not just one, when we made our head spinning move to Greenbelt, MD.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/22/2015: Hiking Rachel Carson Park, DC Music History, Eggplant Discovery

1.  I drove out to Olney and took a left toward Brookville -- we're talking Maryland here -- and took my first hike in the Rachel Carson Conservation Park.  It was a good hike hike with some change in elevation and thick forest.  I took pictures, general pictures, that show you that I was getting a feel for the place.  I look forward to returning and taking pictures as I get a better visual understanding of this place:


2.  I got back in the car after my hike and had the good fortune to hear this week's "Metro Connection" program on WAMU (DC public radio) and the focus was on DC's music history.  The show covered punk, varieties of hard metal, jazz, bluegrass, go-go, and hip-hop.  Ha!  The program made me wish I'd lived around here as a young guy with time on my hands and a love of the night life.  But, when I was young and loved the night life, there was the WOW Hall and I enjoyed some pretty good jam music there with Zero, Nine Days Wonder, Little Women, and that wasn't too bad!

3. I was dong a a little shopping at the Co-op and I looked at a packaged eggplant meal and I figured that I could make it.  I read the ingredients -- eggplant, tomato, red pepper, oregano, garlic, feta cheese -- and I was right.  I came home, put the electric fry pan to work, and made an eggplant dish unlike any that the Deke and I have had before, served it with quinoa, and it was really, really good.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Friday, May 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/21/15: Letterman and Hanks, The Liars Club, Beer Stop on the Train

1.  Since we don't have a television, I'm grateful that I could go online and see segments of the last couple of nights of David Letterman's late night program.  I especially enjoyed Tom Hanks' appearance and so I dove into the YouTube archives and watched more of his appearances over the years.  Maybe some one else did, but I am unaware of any one who freed up Tom Hanks and inspired him to be hilarious the David Letterman did.  It was a blast to watch as much of their many times on the show together as I did.

2.  In all of the stuff I read over the last couple of days about David Letterman's career, there was one omission:  his participation in the short-lived (and stupid) television game show, The Liars Club.  I occasionally watched The Liars Club back around 1976-77 or so. It was when I first saw David Letterman and he was the one panelist who was unforgettable to me.  Well, lo and behold, I found at least one, maybe two, videos of David Letterman appearances on the Liars Club and those early days of seeing him on t.v. all came back to me.  I really wish more of a record existed of his morning show on NBC.  It had a short run, but in the summer of 1980, I had mornings when I couldn't stop laughing at stuff he and his supporting cast did.  I especially remember getting a kick out of Rich Hall and Edie McClurg.

3.  Yeah, it's probably about an hour long ride to get there, and another hour back, but it excited me today when I figured out that the Twinbrook Metro Station on the Red Line is a mere seven minute walk from my favorite, so far, taproom in the MD suburbs of D. C., Gilly's Craft Beer and Wine Shop in Rockville.  I really like knowing that I can take the train to Gilly's, have a sandwich, try out a beer or two, maybe buy a few bottles, and not concern myself with driving home.  It's a win-win-win-win.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/20/15: Buckling Down, Another Fitness Day, Eggplant Stretcher

1.  I strapped myself into a chair at the desk, buckled down, and scanned documents so I'd have electronic records of blood draw directives, the Deke's PERS statement, and other things.

2.  I picked up the Deke at her school and we went straight to the Fitness Center and we have another day of success as we try to get a routine underway.

3.  The recipe for the Szechuan eggplant we enjoy calls for two eggplants.  We only had one -- so, the Szechuan eggplant dish became Szechuan eggplant and tofu with ramen noodles.  At our apartment home, we like to think of tofu as eggplant stretcher.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/19/15: Fresh Squeezed on P Street, Whitworth Gathering Awakens Me, Whitworth Orchestra Moves Me

1.  I began my day of travel by getting off the Metro at Dupont Circle and sauntering down P Street to Whole Foods. I wanted to check out this store and the traffic on P Street because it's on a fairly direct route into D. C. from our apartment home.  My visit was worth the effort for two reasons.  I enjoy the VA and DC Whole Foods stores that serve beer at their coffee bars (this can't be done in MD) and it was very satisfying to enjoy a slow pint of Brau Pilsener from the local brewery DC Brau.  In addition, as I scanned the bottled and canned beer inventory, for the first time since moving out here, I laid eyes on one of my favorite beers ever:  Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA.  Today was not the day to be carrying a six pack around, but I'll get back there and, hopefully, the Fresh Squeezed IPA will still be in stock.  (The thrill of seeing Fresh Squeezed IPA in DC could be topped in only one way -- how about if Hop Valley decided to distribute Citrus Mistress IPA [or 541 Lager!] out here?  I doubt that would ever happen, but it would be awesome.)

2.  I jumped back on the Metro and sped up to the Tenleytown station.  From there, after sitting in the public library for about ten minutes to cool down, I strolled to the National Presbyterian Church for a Whitworth College (now University) alumni reception.  I wanted to talk with both of them longer, but the highlight of the reception was seeing Fred Bruner (his wife Signe Schilperoort couldn't make it) and Kathy Pecka.  It got some of my now often dormant Whitworth liberal arts education juices flowing to listen to alums around the table talk about their jobs and how their Whitworth liberal arts education had prepared them for what they were doing.  I thought about all I owed to Whitworth for my success as an instructor -- every day at LCC, I tried to teach, in a secular way, as if I were still teaching at Whitworth.  First as a student, and then as a temporary faculty member, it was at Whitworth where the intellectual and spiritual foundation of my teaching career was formed.  Students often responded positively to the spirit I brought to the classroom and the formation of my teaching spirit happened at Whitworth.  My spirit was nourished by my fellow teachers at LCC, but the great inspiration happened at Whitworth.

3.  After the reception, we made our way to the National Presbyterian Church sanctuary for a concert given by the Whitworth University Symphony Orchestra.  It was a delightful program featuring the Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D.  I'm not a learned listener of symphonic music.  I don't listen critically.  I just respond and this performance moved my hands and arms and made my head bob and left me feeling emotionally whole. It was a great evening.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/18/15: Rise of the Robots, Work Out, My Friend Flickr

1.  It was muggy outside, at times rainy, and I decided to stay inside and cook meals to last the next few days and listen to WAMU.  I learned about Jeffrey Brown's poetry, mixed use architecture and planning in the D. C. area -- where it's succeeded and where it's been less successful -- and then I learned about how robots and Artificial Intelligence are taking over many, many tasks once done by humans, and, in turn, making even more and more human labor obsolete -- and not just physical labor, but jobs that have traditionally relied on human thinking, analysis, and judgment.  The radio interview with Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future discussed what's happening and what kinds of white collar and blue collar jobs are being replaced by robots, but didn't discuss what to do about the loss of these jobs and how people will make money if human labor is becoming increasingly obsolete as more jobs disappear.  I sure don't know.

2.  I picked up the Deke from work and we went straight to the Greenbelt Fitness Center and enjoyed exercising and plan to make this a part of our daily routine.

3.  In the past, I've always had to carve out a good chunk of time to upload pictures to my Flickr page. But something happened over at Flickr -- my pictures uploaded really fast and I was able to add to some of my albums and create some new ones in almost no time at all.  Flickr also has some new features I like, but I need to do some more poking around over there to see if some of the features I used to enjoy at Flickr are still available -- especially search functions.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nyack Beach State Park: A Walk Along the Hudson River

While walking along the Hudson River on Saturday, May 16th, when taking pictures, I did my best to follow the suggestions Bobby Baker outlined in this article about keeping pictures simple with minimal subject matter in the frame.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Sibling Assignment #163: Buoy and Sailboat on the Hudson River

Here's what I assigned for Carol, Christy, and me to do:

Since Carol is taking an online photography class, let's do an exercise together.

1.  Read this article.

2.  Make yourself pause, look, and see and create a well-composed picture following the instruction of Bobby Baker.  In other words, keep the picture simple.

3.  Write a paragraph about your experience doing this.

Carol combined my assignment with an assignment from her class and presented a picture of upside down solar lights, here, and Christy focused on a door in the Annie room in her Martins Creek home, here.

I was struck the most in reading Bobby Baker's article by his emphasis on minimalism.  I liked his idea that pictures can be beautiful when there is very little in the frame.  I have been working pretty consistently with negative space in pictures for a few years now and the way it calms the mind, gives the mind a rest, and provides space within a picture's frame for contemplation and rest.  

When the Deke and I met up with Adrienne and Alex Friday night at Growlers and Gill, it excited me when they told me about a path along the Hudson River not from Adrienne's apartment at Nyack Beach State Park.  I immediately thought that since the Hudson is such a wide river as it flows by Nyack, that I'd be able to take pictures focused on a single image with the river providing plenty of negative space.

I was right.  I took quite a few pictures, here, but for this assignment, I'll post this one:

As you can see, it was a hazy day along the trail of Nyack Beach State Park.  It gives this picture a dreamy quality.  I tried to give this picture plenty of empty space and the river provides that.  To me, there's a contrast at work between the fixed solidness of the buoy and the light mobility of the sailboat and I like how they sit in proximity to each other.  I also like the three different textures of the background as the near shore blends into the hills behind it which blend into the gray sky.  It's all gray, but different shades of gray, making this nearly empty scene dreamy and calming to look upon.

Hmmm....I decided to see what this picture would look like with some of the water in the foreground cropped.  See what you think:

Three Beautiful Things 05/17/15: Milestones, Dinners, Popcorn Party

1.  Somehow, it makes the drive from Nyack to Greenbelt seem shorter and faster now that I've identified milestones or turning points along the way.  The first one comes when we leave the Garden State Turnpike and enter the New Jersey Turnpike; the second is when the New Jersey Turnpike goes from being six lanes, with three of them dedicated to cars only, back to being a freeway of cars, trucks, and buses mixed together; the third is the Delaware Memorial Bridge; the last milestone is the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.  As we pass under the claustrophobic confines of this tunnel, we can say, "All right! We are almost home! (Unless 1-95 becomes a congested mess!)"

2.  We had a safe drive home with only a few congestion delays and I headed straight to the Co-op to stock the pantry and start thinking about meals for the upcoming week.

3.  The Deke and I celebrated the end of a great three day weekend trip to see Jack and Adrienne with a buttery, salty, crunchy popcorn party.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/16/15: Folks Who Live on the Hill, Walking the Hudson, Hide and Seek with Jack

1.  I often forget wealthy people live in the world.  Oh, I read about them in the news, but I rarely encounter the wealthy or lay eyes on their houses.  Today, I took a very short drive to Upper Nyack on my way to Nyack Beach State Park and there they were:  the wealthy.  Upper Nyack features several old houses with stone walls, tons of rooms, and smartly manicured lawns, a handful of them perched above the Hudson River with what I imagine are spectacular views.  On the rare occasion that I see houses like this, I always think the same thing -- what a headache.

2.  Nyack Beach State Park features a wide path along the Hudson River.  I enjoyed walking this path, taking pictures, which I'll look when I return to Greenbelt, and nodding to other people walking the same path, along with bicyclists and a handful of people fishing from the bank.

3.  The Deke left to run some errands and to pick up Adrienne, leaving me to have solo time with Jack.  We spent some time watching YouTubes of Thomas the Train transforming into Opthomas Prime, and then we played, the highlight being hide and seek.  When Jack plays hide and seek, he tells me where he's going to hide (under Mommy's bed), I act like I don't know where he is, and when he gets impatient with me looking for him under tables, in closets, behind the couch, and in drawers, he calls out to me, "Bop! I'm under Mommy's bed!" and he laughed and laughed when I said, "I can't find Jack.  This is making me so tired, I'm going to take a nap."  I lay down on the bed Jack was under and when he popped out, I acted like I'd just seen a ghost and Jack laughed and laughed.  He's a tireless lad at four years old, with a lot on his mind and an active imagination.  He's a challenge to keep up with -- and I don't think I quite meet that challenge!  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/15/15: On the Road to Nyack, Shorties and Snacks at Growler and Gill, Quiet and NINKASI!

1.  The Deke and I got our weekend bags packed and piled into the Subaru and it was off to Nyack, NY.  All the landmarks are becoming familiar:  the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the service area on the New Jersey Turnpike named after New Jersey luminaries (e.g. James Fenimore Cooper, Clara Barton, Woodrow Wilson -- Tony Soprano hasn't made the cut yet), the sometime bewildering Toll Plazas on both the New Jersey and the Garden State Parkway, and exit #11 off I-87 that signals we are almost to Adrienne's.

2.  I wore my t-shirt representing my favorite tap room west of the Mississippi (16 Tons in Eugene) to visit my favorite tap room east of the Mississippi (Growler and Grill in Nanuet) and Growler and Gill was all I'd hoped for and more.  Being served in shorties, I drank a couple of New York IPAs, another from Wisconsin, and closed out with a Helles Lager from Germany.  The beers were terrific and the meat and cheese plate, order of spinach spread/dip with chips and seasoned bread, order of Polish pierogis, and cheese pizza hit the spot.  It was fun meeting up with Adrienne and her pal Alex, and, in good time, the Deke drove to the day care center so Jack could join us.  This was a great party.

3.  I was puzzled at Growler and Grill.  The last couple of times I've been there on a Friday afternoon, the place got really crowded and then noisy and it was difficult to talk -- but, tonight, it stayed quiet and it was easy to talk at our table.  Then, being the crafty sleuth I am, I discovered that the Growler and Gill has outside seating in the back.  It was a warm evening and a pretty good crowd was seated out there.  I was happy to be indoors with good short glasses of beer, excellent snacks, and unbeatable company.  (Oh!  By the way, Growler and Gill had Ninkasi's Oatis on tap and had 12 oz bottles of both Ninkasi's Tricerahops Double IPA and Oatis on the shelf.  I haven't seen a Ninkasi bottle or tap handle anywhere east of the Mississippi River -- seeing them startled me with delight and I brought a couple Tricerahops home to Adrienne's.  They will bring me some Saturday bliss.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/14/15: Road Trip Confirmed, Spicy Soup, Change for the Better?

1.  The Deke and I confirmed with each other this morning that we will be hitting the road Friday morning to go see Adrienne and Jack in good ole Nyack.  This means a road trip for Charly and Maggie, not always their favorite thing to do.

2.  Molly and David and Olivia would be paying us a late afternoon visit, so I decided to make us grown ups a pot of cauliflower soup (to which I also add broccoli) and so I sauteed a couple of onions with red pepper (my addition), spiced them up with bay leaf and Chinese five spice powder and red pepper flakes, added five cloves of crushed garlic, let that cook a bit and then made about 4 and 1/2 cups of vegetable/chicken broth, added the cauliflower and broccoli, boiled the vegetables until tender, transferred it into the blender, blended it until velvety, put the velvety mixture back in the pot, added vinegar and a can of coconut milk and, PRESTO! -- the soup was ready.  I had a good amount of leftover cooked rice on hand and this spicy soup is particularly tasty served over brown rice.

3.  The Deke and I had a good talk about her work. The fact that a particular student was transferred out of her home room might help her end the school year better -- and it's an action that could make the student and the student's mother more pleased -- but, then again, who knows?  For the Deke and me, it'll be nice to have a three day weekend and a trip to New York to get away from such things.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/13/15: Doc Says I'm Fine, Black Beans and Rice, Parkland and Shindig

1.  I drove out to the Johns Hopkins clinic near Laurel and my doctor asked me about the incident Saturday when I blacked out and then he listened to my heart and poked around a bit, liked what he heard and felt -- and liked my answers to his questions, and sent me home.  "I think you're just fine. It was probably a one time thing."  I celebrated this good news by letting it rip with a cup of coffee and a cranberry orange scone at Starbucks at the Laurel Town Center.

2.  By sauteing onion with green and red pepper, adding garlic to it, and then adding black beans, hot sauce, red wine, red wine vinegar, cumin, oregano, and brown sugar, and pouring this tasty mixture over brown rice and topping it with shredded cheese and some Tostitos Hint of Lime corn chips, I fixed the Deke and me a very tasty dinner.  Oh! By the way, if you try this at home, I'm told sour cream (or yogurt) also is a good topping for this dish.

3.  I had started this movie a couple of nights ago and this evening I finished Parkland.  It tells the stories of the medical staff at the Parkland Hospital, the Dallas F.B.I. and Secret Service agents, Abraham Zapruder, and Lee Harvey Oswald's brother, Robert in the hours leading up to the JFK assassination and the few days immediately following.  Here's what I liked about this movie:  it was not a thesis movie.  It didn't work out any arguments about who killed Kennedy.  Rather, through rapid cross cutting between its four stories, successfully captured the chaos of those manic few days, taking us, I thought, into the things happening one or two degrees removed from the killing itself.  It's not a tidy movie.  It comes to no conclusions.  Its sympathies for certain characters are clear -- and I enjoyed that -- but mostly I enjoyed that this movie let those days be the chaotic mess that they were.

Then I watched a retrospective of the television show Shindig on YouTube.  I had forgotten how full of energy and great music Shindig was -- I was especially riveted by a Tina Turner/Marvin Gaye duet and medley.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/12/15: Appt. on Wednesday, Back Up, First Solo Flight

1.  Both of my doctors have web-based messaging services and yesterday, after a nudge from several Facebook friends, I let both my doctors know I had blacked out on Saturday.  My primary doctor asked me if I wanted to come in ASAP.  I couldn't come in right away, but made an appointment for first thing Wednesday morning and so I'll be driving to Laurel to talk things over with Dr. Cullen -- and, peering into my crystal ball, I see blood work in my immediate future.

2.  Most of my files and folders were already backed up, but I'd neglected a few of them and I had some housecleaning to do with stuff on my desktop.  I got it almost all done.  My "holding hands" and "come have a sit' folders might need some attention.

3.  Molly and Hiram closed the deal this afternoon on the purchase of their house and I watched Olivia and David solo for the first time, solo.  We did pretty well.  I tried to set up situations where they weren't competing for who gets what physical object and to keep a running dialogue going where I asked questions about Batman or Bird Town or Monkey Lunch and that kept them, for the most part, getting along and us having fun.  We all survived Grandpa's first solo flight really well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/11/15: Laptop Fixed, Air Conditioning Fixed, Eggplant Sandwich Fixed

1.  Saturday evening, I got up from a chair in our living room, with my laptop in hand, to go to our bedroom to lie down. A few feet shy of the bedroom door, I did something I've never done before:  I fainted.  My laptop flew out of my hand and struck a wall in the hall. It was busted.  Today I went to a computer repair and sales place in College Park and found out that the computer's operating system, hard drive, and software were all unharmed, but that I'd busted the laptop's screen/monitor.  I took the machine in at about 12:30 p.m. and the guy had it diagnosed, repaired, and ready for me to bring home at 5:30.  I have felt just fine since the fainting spell -- it was like I just stood up too fast and maybe my blood pressure was low -- and it's always good to have a broken piece of technology back in operation again. (Oh, by the way, when I see my doctor again in June, I'll mention the fainting spell.)

2.  The heat has started to move in to Greenbelt -- and it's started to get humid.  Our apartment home's air conditioning unit was blowing air -- neutral, uncool, kind of worthless air.  The complex here has a maintenance staff on site and the AC guy came over this morning, went into the magic closet where the heat/cooling system's guts are located, and discovered that our AC was not turned on.  He turned it on, returned a while later to make sure all was working.  It was.  It is.  Our apartment home is much more comfortable.

3.  I had intended to build eggplant sandwiches for the Deke and me on Friday.  That idea got delayed until this evening.  I fried slices of eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper.  I piled these on the open, buttered, toasted ciabatta rolls and added slices of feta cheese, fresh basil leaves, and pepperoncinis. it's a great sandwich and the green salad I fixed was a perfect compliment.  (Mayo is an option to dress the sandwich, but not for me.  I've used yellow mustard in the past, but passed on it today.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/10/15: Early Morning Church, What a Nana!, Farmers Market, BONUS

1.  I decided to try the 8:00 service at St. Andrews in College Park.  The service was sparsely attended -- I think everyone there greeted each other during the passing of the peace -- and it's a spare service with no music.  As far as life at home, it might be a good service for me to attend regularly.  It sure worked out well today.

2.  David and Olivia came over to see us while Hiram and Molly had a walk through at the house they are buying.  I marvel at how many different ideas the Deke has for things for the kids to do to keep them freshly stimulated -- everything from knitting to sidewalk chalk to reading a book together -- and more.

3.  In order to fix dinner, I had to go to the Co-op and the Roosevelt Center was alive with live music for the Green Man Festival -- in addition, there were booths with food and different wares -- including tie-dye! -- and it was the first day of the Sunday Farmers Market.  I strolled through the Farmer's Market, made some mental notes -- kale here, strawberries there, apples at that place -- noted that farmers at the market were from Pennsylvania as well as Maryland and Virginia.  I'll go back next week, bring cash -- I forgot to do so today -- and buy some fresh food products.  (This, by the way, is one of several Farmers Markets in the immediate area, reminding me that although we live in the bewildering labyrinth of the D. C. suburbanopolis, there's a lot of farming going on nearby.)

BONUS:  MOM UPDATE:  Mom's week got off to a difficult start with intense pain in her lower back and hip and then, on Tuesday, it all but disappeared.  We've talked at least three times since Tuesday, when she saw a doctor, and she sounds really good.  She and Carol have worked things out so that she spends her nights by herself.  Carol and Paul come over daily to help her out with different things and she's getting M-F help from a woman who does housework, the CNA who bathes her and does other things around the house, and from three other medical professionals less frequently.  Before too long, Christy and Everett will live next door to Mom.  All of this makes me live much more peacefully with the fact that I am needed here in Maryland and can't be two places at once.