Friday, July 31, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/30/15: Restorative Sleep, Restored Computer, Restorative Dinner

1. I do not remember the last time I slept for 11-12 hours, but this morning I woke up, got out of bed, and was startled to see that it was 10:00. Likewise, the Deke was in need of a long, restorative sleep.She arose ninety minutes later. We are fortunate people that we live a life that allows us to rest like this, even if it's a once in a blue moon sort of thing.

2. The Deke and I drove back to the Diaz house to give Molly support -- an ice tea lemonade and a chocolate croissant, to be exact -- and to see Ana Maria again. The Deke's browser had been hijacked while I was in Kellogg and so I spent a couple of hours with tech support at Symantec getting her computer cleaned up. I had no problem with the solution taking two hours. The service people were earnest, considerate, and focused and I enjoyed working with all three of them and was happy to see the the Deke's computer returned to health.

3. Next, the Deke and Molly commissioned me to go to Giant for some food and we had a family dinner of chicken, rice, baguette, and green salad.  The Deke took charge of putting the dinner together and it was a great help to Hiram, who'd been with Olivia and David all day, and Molly, who is recovering from giving birth, to have this dinner prepared for them. It was a jolly time -- I left the table with my body and my spirit well nourished.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/15: Suburban Gridlock, Seeing Ana Maria, Taproom Discovery

1. I jumped on the 4 a.m. shuttle from the Ramada Inn to the airport and everything went smoothly from the time I checked in my bag until I landed at Baltimore Washington International Airport. The Deke had to brave barely moving traffic on the BW Parkway, but she and Olivia and David arrived to pick me up and we then braved barely moving traffic on I-95 for our trip to the Diaz's. What a grind..a trip to the airport and back that should have taken a grand total of about forty to fifty minutes took two hours. Olivia and David were champs, though, and it helped the Deke and me decide, for sure, that if I come into Baltimore again at around 4:30 on a weekday, I'll take mass transit back to Greenbelt.

2. Arriving at the Diaz's meant that I got to see Ana Maria for the first time. I'm not very experienced with babies, and I was very tired after all the traveling, so I decided to wait until Thursday to hold her for the first time.  I don't want to rush into these things.  Molly's doing pretty well. She's tired. he's sore from her workout.  She's in great spirits and will have Hiram home to help her for the next ten days or so.

3. I found a taproom.  Once settled in at the Diaz's, the Deke asked me to go on a beer run and I drove down to E. Randolph and New Hampshire to a bottle shop called Quench.  I picked up a sixer of the intense Double Dog Double IPA from Flying Dog and, for the Deke, a sixer of Peg Leg Imperial Stout. I didn't know that Quench's bottle shop had a taproom adjoining it.  This is great news!  It's only about 10 minutes from the Diaz house and features about twenty beers on tap and a food menu. I took a minute to peruse the taplist and it looks solid. I see a few visits to this joint in my future to check it out more deeply. (Out here in the Maryland D. C. suburbs, I don't see many taprooms -- unlike parts of Eugene where if you stand on a corner and throw a rock in any direction, you are bound to hit a taphouse. Finding one near Molly and Hiram is a great discovery.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/15: Granddaughter Ana Maria is Born, Sibs at Michael D's, Sibs Join Stu at Manito Taphouse

1. The day began with most beautiful news.  Molly gave birth to Ana Maria Diaz. I'll have more to report when I am back in Maryland on Wednesday, July 29th.  My impression at this time is that all is going well. Ana is the Deke's and my fourth grandchild.  (Wow!)

2. Christy, Carol, and I spent my last day in the Inland Empire enjoying a sibling outing.  We started the day in Breakfast Town, also known as Coeur d'Alene, and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Michael D's.  I enjoyed corned beef hash, a couple of eggs, home fried potatoes, and a side of one biscuit with gravy.  It's a good thing Greenbelt, MD is NOT Breakfast Town.  It would be difficult to resist indulging myself often which would not help out my efforts to keep my weight and blood pressure down!

3. After taking care of some business in CdA and enjoying the floral beauty of the Duncan Gardens and picking up some snacks at Trader Joe's for my flight to Baltimore, we met with lifelong friend Scott "Stu" Stuart at the superb South Hill gastropub, The Manito Taphouse.  We had a great time talking with each other, enjoying the enthusiasm and beer knowledge of our server, Emily, and our excellent dinner. I kept thinking throughout our time that I just don't get whey such a place doesn't exist in Greenbelt or College Park...Denizen's in Silver Spring is close and Franklin's in Hyattsville is too big -- and I'd live to see a joint similar to The Manito Taphouse open nearby in our neck of Maryland.  Sigh. If I were a rich man......

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/15: Maggie Survives, 7th Grade Kidney Report, Dinner at Carol's, BONUS: Ana Maria is Born

1. I called the Deke and received this report: The Deke is staying at Molly and Hiram's in Silver Spring because Molly is so close to having her baby. In the middle of the night, our older corgi Maggie showed signs of distress and illness and the Deke quickly located an emergency vet and took Maggie to Rockville where she was treated for a urinary tract infection. Eventually, the vet sent Maggie home with pills and she is recovering well.

2. Upstairs, Mom had a small bag of things from my youth to sort out. In the bag, I found report cards. I found out that all of my teachers said I talked too much in class. Ha! Among other things, I discovered a 7th grade science research report.  What was the subject of my paper:  kidneys. For those of you who know that I'm being treated for chronic kidney disease, you can understand that I found this discovery both weird and eerie.

3. Carol and Paul invited Mom, Christy, Everett, and me over for dinner.  Paul grilled a school of tilapia and it tasted exquisite with the accompanying green salad, garden fresh green beans, and brown rice. Toward the end of dinner, a robust discussion of raised garden beds broke out between Christy, Everett, Paul, and Mom and I spent about ten minutes or so waiting for the right moment to bust into the discussion with the news that Molly had gone into labor and was on her way to the hospital.

BONUS UPDATE: Here's a preview of tomorrow's Three Beautiful Things:  Molly gave birth to Ana Maria on 07/28/15.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/15: Washer Man, City Limits Grub, Mom Wins at Walmart

1. This morning Mom gathered up her laundry and I did the same and I became, in Mom's words, "Washer Man" and got the clothes and towels and rags washed and dried before we headed off for our next undertakings for the day.

2. Mom had decided earlier in the week that she wanted to treat us all to a meal at the City Limits in Wallace, so we all piled into our vehicles and sat down to a lot of fun and a delicious lunch and beers at the Silver Valley's premier brew pub. I thoroughly enjoyed my Beer Brat and Raspberry Wheat Ale.

3. Mom caught Walmart again! She and I went to the Smelterville Walmart after lunch and after she took about twenty items or so, unimpeded, to the Express "Ten or Less" cashier, she inspected her receipt and saw a $4.98 purchase that didn't have a verbal description, only a number. So, we hot-footed it over to the customer service counter where the friendly and efficient agent did a computer search of the store's inventory and told Mom she had paid $4.98 for a loaf of bread she picked up at the deli/bakery. Mom didn't think the bread had cost -- or was worth -- $4.98, so she gave the bread back to the friendly, efficient agent and had the $4.98 credited to her credit card. Two days in a row! Another win for Mom!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/15: Breakfast at Penny Lane, Walmart Ripoff Redeemed, Heading Into Our Sixties

1. Around 9:00, I strolled west on Cameron Avenue to Knott's Landing where Donnie Knott was fixing an awesome breakfast of waffles, fried eggs, sausage, potatoes, and coffee for me and Abby. We picked right up from where we'd been the night before yakkin about all kinds of stuff and brought the weekend get together of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys to an end.

2. Chaos. Corporate thievery. I made a run to the Smelterville Walmart for Mom and got home and a quick inspection of the receipt made it clear: she got ripped off. The cashier guy evidently (and accidently, let's hope) scanned one of Mom's boxes of Quaker's granola twice. This meant Mom got ripped off for $4.50 and she could not abide such an injustice. On our way up the river, Christy and I stopped at Walmart and I went to the customer service counter where the friendly and efficient Walmart agent pushed buttons here, had me sign there, explained this, and asked for that and, before I knew it, I had a refund to give back to Mom.  Order restored.

3. Christy and I were going up the river to take part in the KHS Class of '73's 60th birthday celebration. I had a great time talkin' with many of Christy's classmates and getting caught up on what's happening these days as we longtime friends head into our sixties. The event also turned out to be small reunion for my fellow members of the Class of '72. It was great to see and yak with Sharon and Wanda and before long birthday boy Ed and Joni arrived and we split off for a while and met Jake and Carol Lee at the Snake Pit for drinks and food. The whole afternoon and evening was Silver Valley life at its very finest.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/15: Bench Warmer Reporter, Hall of Fame at Knott's Landing, Class of '75

1. This afternoon, I dropped by Knott's Landing to drop off a couple of six packs of Payette Brewing's excellent North Fork Lager for this evening's Hall of Fame of Great Guys get together and Don and I popped open a couple of North Forks a piece and got in some early yakkin' before the official event started at five. Don had some issues of the school paper from high school.  I was such a crappy basketball player my sophomore year, that, sitting on the end of the bench, I watched our games and wrote up recaps in a non-opinion column called "Sports Replay".  It was fun reading some of those columns again -- they were harmless-- but not as fun to remember all those games I spent as a spectator with a uniform on.

2. Byrdman, Donnie, and Ed and I were the first charter members of the Hall of Fame of Great Guys to arrive.  Later, Pat Kenyon visited us for a while and, still later, Abby came by. Byrdman provided the music with great music from the 70s, so we shot the breeze and knocked down some barley pop to the sounds of the Allman Brothers, Queen, Don McLean, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and other superb music from forty years ago.  Donnie not only provided the patio for our get together, he also cooked up some first-rate chili and accompanying hot dogs. It was an awesome night with friends I've known for over fifty years. This is the best part of getting old -- getting together with friends I've known forever.

3. Ed and I took a break from the goings on at Knott's Landing (aka Penny Lane) and strolled down the street to Eddie Joe's where the KHS Class of '75 was having the first night of their class reunion. After some conversation with Mark Absec, I got to have a much longer conversation with Kevin Edwards (Class of '71, married to Kay Hoskins, Class of '75).  I hadn't seen Eddie for at least forty years and it was fun talking about what's up these days and talking with Kay, as well.  I also talked with Marilyn Listoe, Pat Kenyon (again), and Einor Larsen (Class of '73), and then Ed and I made our way over to see Buff, talk for a little while, and we made our way back to the Hall of Fame. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/15: Chicken Fried Plate of Awesome, Dinner Prep, Christy's Dinner Party Success

1. Back to Breakfast Town this morning.  Stu, Lars, Joni and I met for breakfast at Nosworthy's Hall of Fame in Coeur d'Alene.  It had been a long time since I had a chicken fried steak with sausage gravy and hash browns and sourdough toast accompanied by a couple of orange beers and coffee so I indulged in this tasty combination and it was almost as good as spending time with three lifelong friends and shooting the breeze for about an hour and a half.

2. Back home, I pitched in to help get Mom's house and yard presentable for dinner with Dick and Renae, Carol, Paul, and Cosette, and Christy and Everett by pulling weeds over by the garage on the front of Mom's property, hosing down the deck so there weren't cat paw prints, watering different pots of plants, and vacuuming the front and back porch.

3. Christy was the brains and talent that brought our dinner party into being.  She put together a generous antipasto platter, mixed a great bourbon lemon cocktail that is a delicious cousin of an Old Fashioned, and made a most tasty and tomatoey no-cook pasta dish accompanied by foccacia. We gathered on Mom's deck (no cat paw prints) and the stories and laughter flew -- a great party.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/15: Garage Looking Good, David's Legos, Christy Needs a Drink Taster

1. With minor rearranging, I made a space in the garage for Mom's all-terrain walker.  This required me to put the ShopVac on "blow", and blow some more dust, grass, and leafy material out of the garage. My success in completing this project gave me such a strong jolt of adrenaline, that I returned to the east side of the garage and rearranged things there so that it looks tidy and orderly.

2. Back in Greenbelt, Molly needed the Deke to spend much of the day with David. She bought him a new Legos kit and the video she posted on Facebook made me wish I could have been there to see him meticulously build away.

3. Christy found a recipe for a bourbon drink that is kind of a citrus version of an Old Fashioned and she needed to try it out before serving it to guests on Thursday, and I accepted her offer to be a volunteer drink taster -- and it was very good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/15: Sorting out the Side of the Garage, Water into Wine, Spaghetti on the Deck

1. Mom and I took a gander at the stuff scattered and stacked on the east side of her garage -- planting pots, garden hose, utility cart, lattice for the deck, tomato cages, buckets, random boards, a couple of bags of old, old leaves, and Mom stuck to her central principle when it comes to should it stay or should it go: unless it's broken, it stays.  A bucket was broken. A couple of plant pots were broken. So were some trays that once held plant starters. An old birdhouse was falling apart. I threw that stuff away. Now, I'll try to make the stuff she's keeping look better over there.  The new neighbors (ahem: Christy and Everett!) haven't complained, but I'd like to make the view out their west windows a little bit nicer.

2. Something in the garage was apparently blocking the signal from the in-house remote and the remote in Mom's Impala to the garage door, so it wouldn't open or close via either remote. I hooked up the shop-vac and used it as a dust and dirt and old leaves blower and blew the garage clean. Somehow, that fixed the problem with the remote. I felt like I had performed a miracle nearly equal to turning water into wine.

3. Christy handed me a couple of jars of homemade tomato sauce and I added onion, yellow pepper, and browned ground beef to it, boiled some spaghetti, fixed a green salad, and, abbacadabra!, Mom, Christy, Everett, and I had ourselves a spaghetti dinner on the deck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Three Beautiful 'Things 07/20/15: Zach Wins; Jordan's a Sportsman, Molly's Back, Patio Dinner

1.  After watering and doing the needed pet care at Carol and Paul's, I came back to Mom's and watched the thrilling last round of the British Open and the four hole playoff.  Zach Johnson's win was exciting, especially his putts on 18 and on the first two playoff holes. During the playoff, the camera showed Jordan Spieth, who fell one stroke short of also being in the playoff, and who needed a victory to keep his Grand Slam aspirations alive, actually watching the playoff. My jaw dropped. I thought it was customary for players who fell short in tournaments to get to the locker room and parking lot as soon as possible and speed off. Not only did Spieth stick around, when the tournament ended, he was among the first to greet and congratulate Zach Johnson when he walked off the 18th green at the playoff's end.

I immediately thought of all the athletes who would see such sportsmanship as a sign of weakness. I thought of all the players who want to crush their opponents and figure sportsmanship gets in the way of achieving a crush the opponent competitive edge. I texted Ted in New Jersey and said that Spieth must have left his Tiger Woods etiquette manual back in the U.S.A. I can't imagine Tiger Woods falling a stroke short in a tournament, sticking around to watch a playoff, and then bro-hugging the winner.

But Spieth did.

I admire that.

2. I went over to Carol and Paul's in the afternoon to let Sadie and Juliet outside and MOLLY WAS HOME! She had returned from her surprise visit to Eugene for Zoe's birthday and from her camping trip to Palouse Falls and she said she'd take care of the lawn/garden watering and the dogs and cats.

3.  Christy and Everett picked up some Tony Roma ribs in CdA and Christy fixed Mom and Everett and me a dinner of ribs, rice, Asian salad, and broccoli.  We sat out on Christy and Everett's patio in the cooling evening air and enjoyed the food and one another's company. It's great having these new next door neighbors.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/19/15: British Open Again, RIP Moe, Grocery Store Discussion

1. It was fun keeping an eye on the British Open golf championship and seeing amateur Paul Dunne ascend to the top of the leaderboard along with Jason Day and Louis Oosterhuizen and to see Jordan Spieth breathing down their necks, just a stroke behind. It reminded me of a year ago when Molly and Hiram's townhouse was full of family and so I stayed at a Best Western near Ft. Belvoir, VA and watched last year's open in my room. That was a lot of fun.

2. Upon learning that Alex Rocco, the actor who played Moe "Do you know who I am" Green in The Godfather, died, I watched his great scene with Al Pacino in Las Vegas on YouTube and then watched a seventy minute documentary on the making of the whole Godfather saga.

3. Christy and Everett took care of things at Carol and Paul's this evening and when she brought back the key, we got into a long discussion with Mom of the history of grocery stores, both current stores and past ones, and ended up talking about Waremart, Trader Joe's, Winco, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, and few others. Ha!  I didn't see that conversation coming.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/18/15: Breakfast Nook in Breakfast Town, Surprise! Jake Shows Up, Back Deck Pizza

1.  After feeding the dogs and cats and cleaning up after them and spending nearly two hours watering the lawn and flowers at Carol and Paul's, going to the bank for Mom and shopping for her at Yoke's, and digging up a rose in Mom's garden, it was just past nine o'clock and Ed called and I found out when he and Nancy and Austen and Lee would be at the Breakfast Nook and so I drove to CdA and me up with them.  For me, CdA has become the city of breakfasts and craft beer. My Breakfast Nook plate of hamburger steak medium rare, eggs sunny side up, fluffy, golden hash browns with Tabasco sauce, sourdough toast, and coffee was perfectly delicious and filling. CdA is definitely Breakfast Town.

2.  Ed and I headed down to the CdA Casino to try our luck one last time while I'm in Idaho and my playing luck was bad and I quit long before Ed and I left to come back to the Silver Valley. Sometimes I just know my playing is going nowhere and today was one of those days and I'm glad I gave in, gave it up, and didn't spend much money.  BUT, the day had two great moments.  I was walking around with my tail between my legs, feeling sorry for myself after about an hour down there and I ran into Jake! What a great surprise! Then, as Ed and I were getting ready to leave, we stuck around after Jake won over 300 free spins on the Electrifying Riches machine and watched all his spins to see how he did and it went pretty darn well. So, yeah, my luck wasn't good, but I didn't push it, and I got to see Jake and witness him have some good luck and that made the trip down a whole lot of fun.

3. Back in Kellogg, I found out that Christy had ordered Everett, Mom, her, and me a Canadian bacon, pineapple, olive, and mushroom pizza from Wildcat Pizza and that she had some Rolling Rock beers to go with it. The four of us relaxed on Mom's deck as the evening grew cooler, enjoyed our pizza and beer, and I'd be very surprised if I woke up Sunday and the world had any problems since I'm pretty sure we solved them all.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/17/15: Tending the Roberts' Property, GinTalk at Dick and Renae's, Plannin' with Ed

1.  I grabbed a Senior Coffee at McDonald's at around six a.m. and headed over to Carol and Paul's and tried to make my way flawessly through the checklist of dog care, garden and yard care, cat care, and other things while the Roberts are in San Francisco.  I made with only two text messages to Carol about the watering valves and the location of two geranium plants.  I think I'll nail it all without a hitch on Saturday morning.

2. Mom and Christy and I piled into Mom's Malibu and headed over to what I'll call the Silver Mountain condos at the base of the gondola as guests of Dick and Renae Costa for some snacks and gin. We had a blast talking about life in the Valley back when we were younger and the industrial smoke blanketed the Valley and Renae went on blind dates and Mom and Renae taught together and Kellogg was packed with young people on the move, starting their teaching jobs in School District #391.  I missed a lot of those days, but Dick and Renae and Christy and Mom helped me feel like I was right here instead of being in Cd'A and Spokane going to school and getting my life as a teacher underway at Whitworth.

3. Ed and I met for a quick smash at Noah's and called Mike and called Carol Lee and did all we could to get our crowded social schedule figured out, both now and in November. It's a job in itself what with all we have going on, but I think we almost did it, and can move forward into our wild world of airplane rides, lake parties, patio reunions, and trips to the casino.  And we did it without spreading our planners on the bar.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/16/15: Pine Creek Tavern Lunch, Pork Roast Dinner, Perfect Raspberry Dessert

1.  Don Knott and Scott Stuart and I met at the Pine Creek Tavern where I had a 1/3 lb. cheeseburger with a couple of Miller High Lifes and I felt like I was living the High Life indeed. The Pine Creek Tavern food is first rate, the beer is ice cold x 10, and it was the perfect spot for three lifelong friends to sit and bring it all back as well as talk about our lives in 2015. Don and Scott have a gift, I'll tell ya, for telling stories about when they played men's league basketball in the Silver Valley for Johnny's Bar and making me feel like I was a member of their squad, or, at the very least, there to witness the epic games they played and the post-game action that occurred in Johnny's Bar itself in downtown Smelterville.

2. After lunch, I returned to Mom's to assume the duty of cook for the night. I put a pre-seasoned pork roast in the oven, cooked up a mess of green beans with corn cut off a couple of cobs seasoned with a couple of strips of bacon, and threw together a green salad. Christy brought over macaroni salad and apple sauce and Mom and Everett and Christy, and I sat on Mom's deck on a perfectly cool and comfortable Kellogg evening and enjoyed our meal and one another's company.

3. Mom continues to flex her garden muscles as part of her therapy to make use of her damaged right arm and the sweetest part of her therapy is the raspberries she picks.  Tonight, Christy turned a batch of those raspberries into another raspberry pie and it was the perfect dessert to finish off our pork roast dinner.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/15/15: Mom Picks Raspberries, German Beer @ Chez Byrdman, Back to Paragon and Daft Badger

1. Mom is appreciating the cooler temperatures and is feeling a little bit frisky with her arm feeling better and with her hip and legs not hurting so much, so she headed to the raspberry patch to do some picking and I joined her to take some of some weed pulling and poisoning.

2. I jetted over the 4th of July Pass to visit the Lake City of Coeur d'Alene and drop by the residence of Jim "Byrdman" Byrd. We relaxed by enjoying some German lager and wheat beer at Chez Byrdman and I got to see Byrdman's developing basement man cave and we got started on figuring out the world of sports and current events.

3. Byrdman and I then headed out to Paragon Brewing on Government way for some chow and I enjoyed tenderloin sliders and seasoned curly fries with a fine pint of Firestone Walker Easy Jack, a fine session IPA, not too boozy, but full of hoppy bite.  Done eating, we made our way down to Daft Badger Brewery.  My North Idaho College class and choirmate, Darrell Dlouhy runs this brewery. The beer is superb and so is the food menu -- Byrdman and I were very impressed with the food we saw come out of the kitchen and when it comes to beer, I thoroughly enjoyed my Summer's Envy Citra IPA and Byrdman gave his Final Mile Golden Ale an enthusiastic thumbs up.  We only had one disappointment: Darrell had gone home a bit earlier, so we didn't get to see him, but we totally enjoyed our beers and, as we were back in January when we first visited Daft Badger, we were very impressed with what a handsome and comfortable environment Darrell has created in his brewpub and with the the superb service of Darrell's staff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/14/15: Lunch with Kenton at the City Limits, Steak Dinner at Christy's, Junebug is Back in the Fold

1.  Christy, Carol, and I piled into Mom's Malibu and headed east to the wilds of Wallace, Idaho and the Silver Valley's finest brewery/restaurant, The City Limits, and met up with our lifelong friend, Kenton Bird. Kenton was in town to make a donation to the Wallace District Mining Museum. Christy and I enjoyed the in house (North Idaho Mountain Brewery) raspberry wheat ale -- a refreshing and tart fruit beer -- and my French dip was delicious. Our conversation with Kenton was wide-ranging.  It was especially fun getting caught up on Kenton's new administrative post at the U of Idaho and, as you can see from this picture, straightening out all the world's many ills:

2.  Christy invited Mom and me over to her new house next door for petite sirloin steak, corn on the cob, green salad, and fresh raspberry pie.  Our dinner was awesome and it was fun to have such a good dinner with Mom's most excellent new next door neighbor.

3.  Everett arrived back home from his trip today to Christy and Everett's on the market house near Kettle Falls.  He did some cleaning up at the other house and, most importantly, he was able to get the up until today elusive cat, Junebug, into a carrier and bring her to Kellogg.  Coming after many futile efforts, Junebug's capture was the source of great joy for Christy and Everett -- and now their family of cats is all accounted for and living safely in their new home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/13/15: Mom's Car Ready to Roll, Walmart Happy Dance, 1979 MLB All-Star Game

1. First thing, I drove Mom's car to the old Rena Theater.  Now, it's the site of Dave Smith's Auto Service center. Mom's Malibu was overdue for an oil change and not only did the car's oil get changed, but the car cleaners at Dave Smith's did such a fine job of cleaning the exterior and interior of Mom's car that I wasn't sure I wanted to get back into it, fearing I might mess it up with a stray blade of dead grass or have some dust fall off my shoes.

2. Since breaking her arm in March, Mom has not been inside a grocery store, let alone the Smelterville Walmart.  Well, today Mom and I changed that.  I drove Mom up to the Smelterville Walmart entrance and she got out of the car and flung her cane high in the air, spun around in an ice-skater-like triple axel happy dance, and caught her cane before it hit the ground. I'd never seen anything like it. My jaw dropped, and, mere mortal that I am, I just parked the car and joined Mom and walked all over the store so she could pick up a wide variety of groceries, household goods, and gifts for Zoe's birthday.

3. Much to my surprise and delight, I stumbled across a replay of the 1979 Major League All-Star game, a game I attended in Seattle at the Kingdome.  It was fun to see the two terrific throws Dave Parker made from right field to nail Jim Rice at third and then Brian Downing at home, thanks, in large part, to Gary Carter's masterful blocking of the plate. I enjoyed seeing Lee Mazilli's game tying home run in the eighth and, once again, felt the weirdness of having the NL's winning run score on four straight base on balls served up my Jim Kern and Ron Guidry.  As I watched this game, I marveled at the number of players present whom I liked a lot thirty-six years ago.  For me, great names like Yaz, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Bobby Grich, Rick Burleson, and many more.  My memories of that game had grown dim, so it was fun to have them brought to life again.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/12/15: The List, Golf Thrills and Memories, Happy Hour

1. I was relaxing in Mom's television room, writing a blog post, when she walked in and she held out and rattled a piece of paper in front of me. I quickly reasoned that she wanted me to take this piece of paper and read it. It was a list of things she wanted me to do today -- water plants, move plants from the kitchen to the patio, dead head the flowers in front of the house, and a few other things. I had been afraid that I wouldn't have anything to do on this fine Sunday.  Mom relieved me of this fear and before long, I got to work and, fanfare please, it turned out, later in the day, Mom was pleased with my handiwork dead heading the flowers in front of the house.

2. Carol and Mom met Susan Kerns in Pinehurst and then traveled over the hill to CdA to see Singin in the Rain at the Kroc Center. While I had the house to myself, I watched the Women's U. S. Open and totally enjoyed Inn Gee Chun firing birdies on four of the six holes between the 12th and 17th and then biting my nails as Amy Yang eagled the 16th and birdied the 17th to pull even with Chun, but paid for an errant drive on 18 with a bogey.  Chun won in her first ever U. S. Open -- she's only twenty years old -- and it was thrilling.

Throughout the back nine I flashed back to July 10-13, 1997 when I was in the gallery for all four rounds of the Women's U. S. Open at the Witch Hollow course of Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland near North Plains, OR.  I loved those four days. It was the best experience I have ever had at a sporting event, especially the first three days when the galleries were less crowded and I watched many of my favorite players, including Betsy King, Meg Mallon, Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan, Laura Davies, and Nancy Lopez, to name a few.

3. After the golf tournament ended, I went out in the back yard and Mom's new next door neighbors, Sister Christy and her husband Everett, called out to me to come on over and join them for Happy Hour.  I could hardly say no, and joined them for some gin and tonic and some relaxing conversation, much of it focused on the progress they are making in getting settled into their new home.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/11/15: Back to the Garden, Mini Forensic Files Binge, Superb Chicken Dinner

1. We woke up Saturday morning to a much cooler Kellogg, Idaho -- and we even got some hard rain. Mom decided to take her all-terrain walker out to the raspberry patch and sit in her sturdy plastic gardening chair and pick raspberries.  She told me that if I was looking for something to do, I could dead head flowers in the back yard.  Then she complained that she didn't feel right about having anyone over to her deck/back yard because of all the weeds.  Hint taken. I got a lot of dead heads clipped off and than spent about ninety minutes weeding the very back flower area of Mom's yard and a couple of other areas as well. I think things look better.

2. I came back to me today. One of the things I enjoy about being at Mom's is watching episode after episode of Forensic Files -- it's such a tight show. Each half hour episode covers a heinous murder, the problems it gives investigators, and how forensic scientists can figure out the crime from a strand of hair or a chip of paint or a fiber from a piece of clothing or some other seemingly insignificant piece of evidence and put together a case that prosecutes the perpetrator. I rested after my weed pulling session by marveling at couple of episodes of Forensic Files and returned to a couple more before going to sleep for the night.

3. Carol and Paul invited Mom and Christy and me over to their place for some chicken grilled on the Weber, a vegetable medley (featuring eggplant!), some rice, garden fresh salad, watermelon wedges, and a dessert of apple, huckleberry, rhubarb crisp. Christy stayed in her new home to wait for Everett to return from Kettle Falls and to rest her overworked muscles and joints, so we delivered this superb meal to her and Everett when we came back to Mom's.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/10/15: Errands, Butterfly Chair Covers, Making the Trip South

1.  I took a day off from helping Christy and Everett move in and ran some errands for Mom: bank, post office, Stein's, Yoke's, the water district, and Ace Hardware for cash, stamps, groceries, and the paying of a couple of bills.

2.  Mom wants new covers for the butterfly chairs she's owned since at least the Eisenhower administration and, thanks to the magic of online shopping, I ordered her new covers, due to arrive next week.

3. After a family dinner of BLTs, Ed swung by and we had a ton of things to talk about as we headed down to the CdA Casino for some easy entertainment where neither one of us won any money, but neither one of us got creamed, either.  As always, it's not the casino that's the most fun -- it's the trip down and back and the talking.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/15: Mom to the Doctor, Coma Nap, Unloading and Gin and Tonic

1.  I was up at 4:50 this morning to have some coffee and to let Mom know I was up and at 'em and ready to walk out the door at 6:15 to drive her to CdA for her 7:10 appointment at the pain clinic for a couple of shots. All went well --aside from Mom's doctor being a bit tardy -- and we returned home after a quick stop at Walmart and continued our day.

2.  Those of you who have been reading my Three Beautiful Things lately might have been asking yourself, "Doesn't he ever stop?" When Sister Carol was on her walk this morning, she called out to me from across Cameron Avenue, "Hey! Energizer Bunny!" Ha! Well, late this morning, I did stop and went to the basement at Mom's house and fell into a deep coma nap and it was refreshing and revitalizing.

3.  I needed that refreshment and revitalizing.  Over at Christy's, more boxes needed to come in, more tubs and boxes needed to go to the basement, and the U Haul trailer needed to be unloaded. Paul and Carol came over to provide a huge help. We aren't done quite yet, but we made significant progress and will be able to return the trailer on Friday.  A couple of late afternoon gin and tonics also refreshed me, but I can't say they really revitalized me.  Ha!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/15: Improved Dental Record, Who Needs Belize?, Riding Home with Christy

1.  I have made a conscious effort over the last six months to practice better dental care -- another retirement goal that never makes the television commercials -- and today I walked east on Cameron Avenue here in Kellogg for a check up and cleaning at Bird Family Dental and Cathy saw ten areas of gum improvement and said overall things looked about 80 percent better from when I saw her in December. 

2.  It seems like I always see these retirement ads where older men in golf shirts who take regular doses of Viagra are soaking up the tropical heat and today I thought:  Who needs to go to Belize to soak up the heat?  I just went to Kettle Falls/Martin Creek for temperatures that climbed to about 105 degrees and worked up a good sweat helping Everett load a U Haul trailer and pickup bed with chairs and tables and a table saw and a snow blower (ha!) and other things.  Everett and I worked without complaining, made a bunch of wise cracks, and took plenty of breaks in the air conditioned living room and got almost everything loaded.  I don't know when the next trip to Kettle Falls/Martin Creek to bring another load to Kellogg will be. 

3.  Christy and I rode back to Kellogg together, keeping an eye on Everett pulling the U Haul, and it gave us a chance to get just about everything figured out, ranging from our mutual retirements to how we can keep helping Mom.  Yes, loading stuff in the intense heat was the hardest physical task I've undertaken in many years, but working well and having a good time with Everett and getting to have such a good ride home with Christy made it all, in retrospect, seem easy. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/15: Retirement Goal Met, Holiday Decorations, Margaritaville

1.  Today I saw another one of those retirement commercials and it was about setting retirement goals and I remembered when I talked with Kathy back in Eugene and she asked me about my goals and I said that near the top for me was helping my sister move from Kettle Falls/Martin Creek to Kellogg. I said,"Who needs retirement travel to Trafalgar Square or volunteering for the Red Cross when I can help load and unload a U-Haul truck?" Ha!  She looked puzzled, but today I could email her and tell her that I am meeting this goal.  Paul, Everett, and I worked for a few hours today getting Christy and Everett's belongings out of the truck and into the house, the garage, and the side of the garage.  Life is good!

2. Christy loves the holidays and has about twenty-five tubs with Christmas decorations, Harvest/Autumn things, Easter/Spring materials and after we got the truck unloaded, I carried these tubs to the basement and got the storage down there underway.  Life's still good!

3. We ended the day with a late birthday party for Carol and Everett.  Both have a July 3 birthday.  I was assigned to make margaritas and here's how I like to make them:  a proper pour of silver tequila, a proper amount of margarita mix, a nice amount of fresh squeezed orange juice, and a splash of 7-Up.  Everyone seemed to agree:  these margaritas were pretty darn good. I mean life is really good!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/06/15: Up Early, Retirement at Martin Creek, Gin and Tonic Ends the Day

1.So Carol and Molly and I planned on leaving Kellogg at 7 a.m. to head up to Christy and Everett's to get their stuff loaded onto the U-Haul truck. I woke up in the basement, checked the clock, it read 5:30 and that seemed perfect -- time for some coffee, time to do some writing, time to put some ice on my sore heel.  I climbed upstairs and discovered the clock by my bed was wrong.  It wasn't 5:30 a.m. It was 4:30. Oh well.  Now I had an extra hour to get myself ready to head to Kettle Falls. This is the good life.

2. I laughed again today as I thought about my retirement in contrast to those retirement commercials on the television.  Today, did the Deke and I toast each other with a midnight glass of champagne as the moon rose over Cancun? Did I go on yet another best buddy golf trip to a destination golf course? Did I attend night after night of musical theater on Broadway?  No. Ha! Today, I was near Kettle Falls, WA at Martin Creek.  The temperature rose into the mid-90s. I helped haul boxes and tables and bookshelves and the gas bbq and tables and chairs and admired Paul as he put his mad U-Haul arranging skills to work and we got almost everything on the U-Haul truck, into Everett's pick-up, into Carol's car, and into Christy's car. Did we get everything moved to Kellogg? Not quite. I have another destination moving trip in my near future.  Christy, Everett, and I will make another trip on Wednesday to load a U-Haul trailer and Everett's truck. We're getting there. This is the good life.

3. We returned to Kellogg. Christy picked up an order at Panda Express in CdA, and we feasted on it at Mom's and, while we were not seated around a beach fire at Turks and Caicos, Christy, Carol, Paul, and I did sit in camp chairs in Christy's unlit new living room and ended our day of work with gin and tonic, drunk out of red Solo cups, a day of good work behind us and with unloading the truck lying just twelve hours in our future.  This is the good life!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/05/15: Morning Coffee, Ghosts, Wal Mart Trip Delayed

1. I woke up and enjoyed coffee and some morning conversation with Carol, and later, Paul, on their patio in the coolish morning air. Why not just "cool morning air"? Kellogg is in the midst of a terrible, wildfire feeding heat wave.

2. Ghosts. I helped Christy and Everett move a few things into their new home next door to Mom and friendly ghosts, like Lois sitting at the kitchen table smoking cigarettes and Lelo tearing around in the back yard, appeared.

3. My takeover of Mom's kitchen hasn't quite happened. We were going to drive out to Wal Mart for some groceries.  It would have been her first trip to a store since she broke her arm back on March 5th. But, she as we were thinking about going, Mom started feeling woozie and she nixed the plan. I wondered if it might be the heat. Mom sent me to McDonald's where I picked each of us up a third pound sirloin burger and we split an order of fries. Mom felt better as afternoon turned into evening.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/04/15: Best Hair on the Flight, Scanning the Competition, Back in Kellogg

1. Early on during the flight from Baltimore Washington International to Sea-Tac, one of the flight attendants said to me, in reference to her fellow attendants, "By the way, we've been talking and we have decided you have the best hair on this flight."

2.  Blown away by my status on Alaska Air Flight 767, I began scanning the rows ahead of me as I sat and behind me when I visited the lavatory, looking at everyone's hair.  I gotta admit:  the competition wasn't too stiff.

3. Carol and Paul were at the curb almost the second I picked up my bag at GEG and they not only drove me to Kellogg, they let me eat some leftover steak and morning potatoes before I went to bed and gave me a cool, comfortable bed in their basement for the night.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/03/15: Maryland's Coffers Swell, Jack and His Cousins, Checked In and Packed

1. No state income taxes are withdrawn from my pension, so I hunkered down today in the world of the Maryland Comptroller online and did my best to figure out my estimated tax bill for the year 2015 and contributed some money to the Old Line State treasury. I now expect to see the rest of Maryland's pot holes filled and the state's public teachers to get raise after my contribution. I think that's realistic.

2.  The Deke and I went to Molly and Hiram's new house for dinner.  Jack and Adrienne had been there all day and it made me happy to find out Jack had had so much fun all day long playing with his cousins, David and Olivia, and that his sleepover with them went so well.  As I left, I found out he's going to spend another night at the Diaz home. This couldn't be working out any better!

3.  I'm flying to Seattle and Spokane and Carol is driving me to Kellogg on July 4t h at 5:30 p.m. and I'm checked in with Alaska Airlines and my bags are 95% packed.   No last minute rushing around -- my favorite way to do things.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Thngs 07/02/15: Drizzly Walk, Unadvertised Retirement, Co-op Basil Grace

1.  The Sube needed some clutch work done and so, after I dropped off the car, I got in a misty, drizzly, cool, humid walk this morning from the Greenbelt Service Center/Sunoco station back to our apartment home

2. Adrienne and Jack rolled in from Nyack this afternoon and Molly and Olivia and David were already here and Hiram came later and the Deke and I teamed up to make a pot of pasta, olive oil, basil, parm cheese, garlic, and tomatoes and the Deke made a cabbage salad and the kids loved playing and running from room to room dreaming up games to play and laughing and it was a good family time together.  It was one of those times in my retirement that never makes it on the retirement ads on television.  Neither does spending two nights in a dumpy Super 8 near East Lansing.  I'm not experiencing retirement as advertised.

3. Down at the Co-op I asked the produce supervisor if they were out of fresh basil and she said they were and so I was planning a trip to Safeway when the produce supervisor reappeared with a fresh basil package that was already opened. She told me she'd needed to take some basil out of it for something she was working on and I could have the rest at a reduced price and I almost sang the opening verse of "Amazing Grace" aloud, but instead I thanked her very much.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/01/15: Outta the Dump, Pretzel Dog Boost, The New House

1.  The Deke and I spent two nights in a Super 8 dump by mistake. Once we realized what we'd done, we were too worn out to do anything about it. We survived, had some fun mocking ourselves, and, after I took a shower under a sluggish dribble of water, we got out of there and made everything seem good in the world again with two Pikes from Starbucks.

2. Back on the road again for an all day drive from East Lansing, MI to Greenbelt, MD. Gray cloud cover all day made the drive easier and we both marveled at the beauty of Pennsylvania and of the mountains and foliage in Western Maryland. At one point, I was starting to fade and needed a food boost and, Ha!, a pretzel dog at Aunt Annie's at the Oakmont Plum Service Plaza in Pennsylvania got me revved up again.

3. Have I mentioned that even though they were making a major move from Virginia townhouse to the house they bought in Silver Spring, MD, that Molly and Hiram looked after the loud mouthed corgis while we were away?  Well, they did and upon arriving back in the D. C. suburanopolis, we drove straight to Molly and Hiram's and not only picked up the dogs, but saw the interior of their beautiful new house for the first time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 06/30/15: Pike Blend Boost, Tommy Maddox Comeback, Farewell to Phyllis

1. Sometimes a tall paper cup of Pike Market blend from Starbucks with some 2 percent milk just hits the spot and gets the day off on the right start.  That was my experience this morning.

2. Do you remember when the supposed washed up Tommy Maddox led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a heart stopping 36-33 victory on January 5, 2003?  If not, don't feel too out of it.  I hadn't thought about this game for years, but, as I was getting caught up on my blog this afternoon in the inspiring confines of our Super 8 motel room, this game was featured on the NFL Network and I got a big thrill out of watching Maddox lead the Steelers to a most improbable come from behind victory.  It was fun to enjoy a little livin in the past.

3. Our most enjoyable visit with the Deke's stepmother, Phyllis, came to an end this evening over bar food and a beer at Spag's Bar and Grill in Williamston, MI. John came by and so did Nella and Cecie and her friend Connor joined in and we had a fun time together and then the Deke and I went to Phyllis' condo, loaded up a couple of pieces of furniture in the Sube that had belonged the Deke's Grandma Cassie, said good-by to Phyllis, and a great day came to a close.