Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/15: Home Again, Kale Lentil Soup, From Gridlock to Old Line Bistro

1.  Back home.  I got caught up on my writing, almost,  and uploaded the pictures I took in Harwich and posted them. It made me very happy that several friends enjoyed the pictures.

2.  I bought a ton of kale the other day at Costco and I never got around to making the chicken soup I was going to put it in, but today I found a tasty kale lentil potato soup recipe, cooked it up, and every sample I tasted was terrific.  As I was making this soup, I thought of comments I've read about kale being a fad food. I smiled. For me, the kale fad began back in about 1981 when Dan and Betsy Newell invited me over for dinner and served up the kale they were growing in their backyard garden.  I've enjoyed it ever since.  Oh!  And chard, too.

3.  The Deke had a dental appointment in Bowie at about the least convenient time imaginable to drive there.  Our Subaru was one of about a million other cars traveling the suburban labyrinth between Greenbelt and Bowie. I dropped the Deke off and, knowing I'd accidentally left a stove burner on simmer underneath the lentil soup, I made my way back to Greenbelt to turn the burner off. 

I endured the stop and go Beltway traffic and then threaded my way through the suburban labyrinth again to pick the Deke up.

We crawled back to Greenbelt on the Beltway and decided to relax by driving on to Beltsville, normally ten minutes from Greenbelt, but about a half an hour this evening.

The effort was worth it. 

The Deke worked her way through a pint of the heavenly and hoppy Flying Dog Imperial IPA called The Truth and I savored the piney start and citrusy second verse and slightly sweet and pleasingly bitter finale of Great Divide's Titan IPA.

For dinner, we split a burger called the Walking Dead, a pepper crusted chunk of ground beef dressed with blue cheese and mushrooms -- a burger too big for either of us and perfect to share. We added an order of tasty truffle fries. Soon the memory of crawling our way to Bowie and back disappeared into a lovely, hedonistic fog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/15: Farewell to the Troxes, Good Drive Back, Travel and Gratitude

1. I had to bid the Troxstar and his parents farewell this morning.  I hope my gratitude for their hospitality and for giving me a chance to have such an awesome weekend in Massachusetts came through.

2.  The drive back to Maryland took about nine hours. I considered myself very fortunate that there were only two traffic delays along the way and that I left I-95 just north of the Beltway before it got really badly backed up.

3.  I enjoy trips like the one I took from Thursday to Monday.  I saw parts of the USA I've never seen before, gained more confidence in my ability to navigate unfamiliar places, and, most of all, I loved seeing Adrienne and Jack and the Troxstar and his family; loved meeting and spending time with Adam, Keeley, and Amy and hope to see them again; loved being welcomed into Derek and Cathy's home and spending a great afternoon with them.  It's always relaxing to be back home in the familiar confines of our little apartment home where I can sit and reflect upon how grateful I am to be able to travel and see people -- new and old -- family and friends.  This is what's defined this calendar year for me whether in Idaho, Washington, Maryland, D. C., New Jersey, Indiana, New York, or Massachusetts: being with friends and family, participating in many changes in many lives, and living with gratitude that I have so many great people in my life.  And, just think, I will get to see more friends and family in November when I return to Idaho with trips to Washington and Oregon, as well.

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/15: Strolling at Harwich, Seeing Derek and Cathy, Burger and Early Bedtime

1.  I got up this morning and drove to Cape Cod for the first time in my life. I went to Harwich, parked the car at the tourist information center, and strolled for a while, making my way to Bank Street Beach.  Down at the beach, and as I walked back to the car, I took some pictures:

2.  I didn't go to Cape Cod to tour and see sites.  I went to see my cousin, Derek, and his wife, Cathy, in Dennis Port.  They welcomed me warmly and immediately put an IPA from Cap Cod in my hand and Cathy sliced up some cheese and meat and gave us a plate of crackers and we sat down in front of the Pats' game, but spent a lot more time having a good long chat than we did watching the football game. I'd never really sat down and talked with Derek before.  We had a ton to talk about -- our families, how we each came to live on the East coast, and a host of other things.  While we were talking, pulled pork and homemade beans were simmering in the kitchen and we ended our afternoon together with awesome pulled pork sandwiches, beans, and cole slaw.  It was a great visit.  I hope I can find my way back before too awfully long and take up Derek and Cathy on their offer to show me around Cape Cod and have some more fun together.

3.  Back at the Troxstar's parents' home, I was invited to the dinner table for a delicious grilled burger and a Mayflower IPA. The combination of food, drink, and travel moved me to excuse myself early in the evening to go to bed, meaning I missed the red moon and the eclipse -- but, I was tired and wanted to be rested for my long drive back to Maryland on Monday.

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/15: Donuts and Humble Pie, Bog Lessons, The Gang's All Here

1.  After a bracing breakfast of a coffee cake muffin and a chocolate frosted raised donut and coffee at Dunkin Donuts, the Troxstar and I got together with Randy's brother, Roger, and nephew, Sam, and we hit some golf balls at the driving range and then went to Roger's house, shot the breeze, and listened to some Humble Pie.

2. Beth, a relative of the Troxstar, farms a cranberry bog and the Troxstar and I visited the bog today and I learned more than I ever knew about the growing, nurturing, harvesting, and selling of cranberries.  I learned about dry picking and wet picking.  I saw a berry picking machine in action. I even got to lend a hand to the operation and moved boxes of cranberries from the bog to the tractor that transported them and moved a few boxes to the sorting area.

3.  After a burger at Harry's, the Troxstar and I had a big night on Saturday.  We made our way to downtown Middleborough, poked around in Benny's (Your Favorite Store) and saw other sites before we met up with another longtime friend of Randy's and Facebook friend of mine:  Adam Swift.  We grabbed a table at the Central Cafe and had a great time talking, having a few laughs, and getting ourselves ready for the next stop.

At the Fireside Bar and Grille, we found more of the Troxstar's Middleborough friends at the bar -- Peter, Stephen, Chris, and Lee, all strangers to me, but I got introduced and enjoyed very much meeting them and shooting the breeze.

After we got a table, another Facebook friend I'd never met in person arrived: Amy, and her husband, Kirk.  Now the whole gang was present.  I knew my place as an outsider, and was happy these old friends to each other welcomed me into their get together and it was fun to briefly be a part of the Middleborough life the Troxstar has told me so much about over the years.

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/15: Driving to Massachusetts, Pu Pu Platter, Keeley and Linguica Pizza

1.  I bid Adrienne and Jack farewell this morning and drove across the Tappan Zee Bridge to the junction with I-95 and slowly made my way through Connecticut, wishing I could stop and visit the Eugene O'Neill sites, drove through Rhode Island, and descended south to West Wareham, Mass., where the Troxstar had just finished moving firewood to his parents' backyard and greeted me with directions not to park too close to the mailbox where his brother's rental car had been smashed into some time in the not too distant past.

While I drove, I listened to lectures on cd from a series called The Modern Scholar entitled, "How to Listen to and Appreciate Jazz". I followed these lectures while driving much better than I could follow "The Hebrew Bible".  Jazz's history is not quite as long.

2.  The Troxstar's mom and dad (Elinor and Ernie) treated Randy and me to a Pu Pu platter at the Orchid of Hawaii in Lakeville, Mass., a staggeringly generous collection of spare ribs, chicken wings, egg rolls, won tons, and more.

3. Starting about six years ago, I became friends with several of the Troxstar's friends he grew up with and went to high school with in Middleborough, MA.  This evening I met one of these friends: Keeley. She is a dynamic fifth grade teacher, the Troxstar's pen pal, and most enjoyable to get to know.  She met the Troxstar and me at the Boston Tavern and after a beer or two we visited Oliver's Mill Park, a park created out of the remains of an 18th century industrial complex.  While there, we ran into Tony Coelho, whose sister, Allison, is another Facebook friend from Middleborough.

We ended our evening at the packed and happy Central Cafe in Middleborough where the Troxstar and Keeley introduced me to Linguica sausage pizza, one pie with ground Linguica, the other with sliced, and it was awesome.

I loved meeting and talking with Keeley. My visit got off to a really good start.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/15: Easy Drive, Jack's School, Swimming for Pizza and Ice Cream

1. The drive from Greenbelt to Nyack was easy, familiar. Two things made the miles go by enjoyably.  First, until I lost radio contact in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, I enjoyed the Pope's address to Congress.  Second, although  I couldn't keep up with every detail, I learned a lot listening to lectures on cd about the Hebrew Bible.

2.  About ninety minutes after I arrived at Adrienne's place, she picked me up and we visited Jack's school, a perfectly peaceful older house on a wooded property with ample play areas and cooling shade. When we arrived, Jack was working on making paper jack o'lantern faces. After he finished up, he took us inside the house and showed us other things he had made.

3. From school, we went to Jack's swimming lesson at a huge aquatic facility in a local middle school and rewarded Jack for his participation with a slice of pizza and an bowl of ice cream.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/15: Helping the Blind to See, The Pope Talks Baseball?, T. S. Eliot Enchiladas

1.  One funny problem with choosing new frames for my glasses is that when I put on the frames, I can't really see in the mirror what I look like. I took several selfies in Costco, but I'm an inexperienced selfy taker and none of the pictures helped me that much. When I came to the counter with a couple of frames, the woman helping me was kind. She told me I didn't look good in the frames I'd chosen and then she helped me find a couple others. I decided to put my full faith and trust in her observations and evaluation.

2.  With Uncle Rex and Uncle Hiram in town, the Deke and I went to chez Diaz for dinner, and, as we like to do, we went to the Quench Tap Room first where the Pope was on CNN, celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Brookland, Washington D. C. The sound was off the television showing the Pope.  The television featuring commentators talking about the Orioles/Nationals series had the volume on.  Ah!  Theater of the absurd.

3. With Uncle Rex as sous chef and Uncle Hiram as the chef in charge, they combined forces to make the best enchiladas I've ever eaten in my life. They featured turkey and a sweetish, chocolatey, chili peppery mole sauce as well as a creamy white sauce, unlike any sauce for enchiladas I've ever known of, let alone eaten. While Uncle Hiram rolled the meat into the tortillas, he and I recited passages aloud from T. S. Eliot and Shakespeare, adding a layer of literary mirth to an already festive evening. Alas, Uncle Hiram and Uncle Rex head back to Miami on Thursday morning -- we hope they'll return soon for another visit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/15: Driving to Middleborough, Old Smart Phone, Meeting Uncle Hiram and Uncle Rex

1. It looks like the Deke and Molly have worked out things with the Diaz's vehicles so that I can take our Subaru to NY and Massachusetts, starting Thursday morning.  This makes everything about 10,000 times simpler for trip to see the hallowed grounds trod by the Troxstar in his youth.

2. I attended this afternoon's Smart Phone Workshop today at the Verizon store. I found out that my older phone has some, well, shortcomings, but it's just fine for texting, phone calls, general internet browsing, and navigation.  I read some forums when I got home and I might be able to give a directive on my google account that will open google play for me on my phone.  Right now, google says, "No way! You can't play." We'll see.

3.  After years of hearing about Hiram's mother's older brother, Uncle Hiram, and his husband, Uncle Rex, the Deke and I got to meet them this evening in vibrant downtown Silver Spring at the Copper Canyon Grill. We had a splendid time, highlighted, for me, by Uncle Hiram telling me about his undergraduate days at the University of Chicago, a course he took from a besotted Kurt Vonnegut, and his love for William Faulkner and James Joyce -- including a story about when he and some friends read Joyce's Ulysses aloud to each other over a couple of three days of booze, pot, and literary ecstasy.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/15: Travel Plans Solidifying, Tuscan Chicken Stew, November Plans

1.  I am very grateful that Adrienne has room for me at her apartment in Nyack to sleep on the couch, allowing me, on my drive to the Troxstar's hometown, to break up the trip in about half and have more time to deal with the awful traffic conditions on the turnpikes that could result from the Pope coming to NYC and Philadelphia.

2.  We are having a cool spell here in Greenbelt and I seized the opportunity late this morning  to make Tuscan chicken stew.  The whole chicken simmered in the stock pot for an hour or so while I cut up celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I wrestled the chicken out of the pot, set it aside to cool, strained the broth, and simmered the vegetables and a can of kidney beans for about 35 minutes, seasoning the broth with oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper.  As the chicken chilled, I removed the meat from the many bones, added it to the vegetables and beans, stirred it all together, and let it stew for the rest of the afternoon into the early evening until the Deke and I were ready to eat.

3.  I got a call from Stu and when I answered, on my new smart phone, I thought I had hung up by accident and so a longish period of silence ensued, but Stu hung on, let me be a smart phone dummy, and we had a good talk about possibilities for getting our Kellogg friends together when I visit in November. I think we'll have a get together at the Pine Creek Tavern one day or evening -- YES!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/15: Returning Home, Dilly Dallyin' at Costco, A New Office?

This is my 3200th post on kellogg bloggin'.....

1.  We'd been away from St. John's Episcopal Church the last two Sundays thanks to travel and post-travel fatigue. Returning this morning to the familiar words of the liturgy, the hearty Passing of the Peace,  processing to the front of the church for the laying on of hands and, later, for communion was a return to my spirit's home.

2.  It was fun shopping at a dilly dally pace today at Costco, checking out everything from pork tenderloin to mini cream puffs to feta cheese, not buying any of them, but looking, and enjoying the staggering variety of shoppers from all over the world and buying ground beef and buns and tomatoes for tonight's burger fry at the Diaz home, as well as some other food with dinners this week, like Tuscan Chicken Stew -- I am eager to get going on it on Monday!

3. Some of you might know or might remember that the Deke used to leave work at Charlemagne in Eugene and take stacks of papers to be graded to 16 Tons or Cornucopia or Billy Mac's and grade them while drinking a glass of wine or a pint of beer. She called each place, "My Office".  The Deke has not found a place to call, "My Office" here in Greenbelt -- not the Marriott Hotel bar, not Chevy's, not TGI Friday's, not (though this could change) the Old Line Bistro. But, today, she and I went to the Quench Tap Room.  It's about ten minutes from Molly and Hiram's house and as we got settled in at the bar, each with a pint of beer, the Deke pulled out a stack of papers and said, "I'm gonna work on these."


I turned my attention to the Eagles and the Cowboys -- and then the Ravens and the Raiders -- and the Deke graded away.  When it was time to leave, we piled into the Subaru and The Deke said, "That was great! It was like I was at The Office again. That's how I like to work."


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/15: Listening on the Green Line, The Kindness of Rick Chapman, Shooting Portraits

1.  The two African-American women in their twenties who sat behind me on the Green Line train going into D. C. had just finished a workshop related to the work they were doing with disadvantaged kids.  They were steamed. I closed my copy of Great Expectations and listened. They'd found their workshop leader well-intentioned, but condescending, self-congratulatory, insulting in her/his missionary zeal, and crippled by understanding and talking about the disadvantaged in terms of stereotypes ("they don't know how to behave"), not experience. Then they talked about white interviewers they'd experienced and white bosses they'd had who complimented them for being "articulate", for "speaking well for themselves". The train pulled up to the Gallery Place/Chinatown stop.  The two women got off the train and disappeared.  I went to the National Portrait Gallery.

2.  I arrived at the National Portrait Gallery early and entered the area where exhibition, "Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze" is showing. Photographer Rick Chapman was scheduled to talk about his portraits in this exhibition in about an hour, but it turned out he was there early and I watched him reach out to a couple of brothers around nine or ten years old. He answered their questions seriously, kindly, free of condescension, and took them over to his Jeff Gordon portrait and explained the design concept he had in mind when he took this portrait without a race car in sight and with much of the picture dominated by the building where Gordon's business as a race car driver is headquartered.

Rick Chapman's kind and generous manner with these boys deeply impressed me. On the rare occasion that I am in the company of an accomplished artist -- photographer, poet, writer, scholar -- I love it when the artist gives her/his full attention to the least accomplished persons in their company. At LCC, I witnessed the writers Dan O'Brien and Louise Steinman and the poets Lucille Clifton and Kay Ryan be generous in the same way with the students who were invited to a luncheon with each of them. All four of them conversed easily, listened intently, answered questions gracefully and gratefully. They made a lasting and most positive impression on me in the way they interacted with the earnest, unpolished, inquisitive students who had been invited to lunch with them.

So did Rich Chapman's conversation with these boys.

3. Rick Chapman is not a sports fan, so when he was commissioned by ESPN and ESPY to photograph forty portraits of a variety of celebrity athletes, his purpose was to develop a connection with each athlete as a person and to try to portray more intimate aspects of each one's personality or character that we might not see on television or in celebrity magazines. He began his talk telling us about the portrait he shot of Serena Williams, a pensive, black and white close-up, explained how the picture came about and the challenges he faced shooting Serena at a country club with no apparent suitable context within which to get his shot, and how he ended up solving that problem. Then he talked in the same way about his portrait of Venus Williams, taken at her home.  

I thought about the portraits I took of my WR 115 students from 2012-14 and how, if I succeeded at creating a picture that revealed the student's deeper character and if there were any successful design elements in the shots, it happened in no more than ten minutes of shooting; Rick Chapman, on the other hand, spent as many as four hours with each of the forty athletes he portrayed, earning as much trust as possible, talking casually with them, urging them to let him portray them in ways not done before.

Ten of Rick Chapman's forty ESPY portraits are on display in the exhibition, "Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze".

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/15: Creamy Tomato Spinach Sauce, Beer Heaven at Bluejacket, Blanket Fort

1.  Those of you who are faithful readers of Three Beautiful Things might remember that Thursday evening, when the Deke and I arrived at our apartment home after a couple of Troegs Knife Hop ales at Old Line weBistro, we flippantly threw off all sense of dinner decorum and common sense and I popped us popcorn for dinner.  Well, today, knowing I was going into D. C. and would eat in our nation's capital, I made the sauce for the dinner that elbowed out by popcorn.  I sauteed some onion and garlic, added diced tomatoes and tomato paste and water, folded in cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, seasoned this sauce with oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and then added a bunch of spinach leaves.  I made creamy tomato spinach sauce, put it in the ice box, and the Deke picked it up after school and drove over to the Diazes and enjoyed this sauce over spaghetti with Molly.

2. Why didn't Molly and the Deke enjoy it with Hiram?  Because I met up with Hiram in the Yards, a shiny uppish scale restaurant/apartment/retail/fitness center development close to the Anacostia River located between Navy Yard and  the Nationals' baseball park. Ever since I moved to this area, I've wanted to drink the beer brewed at Bluejacket, a brewery famous for its wide variety of beer styles brewed in house, served on site (IPA, sours, kolsch, lagers, stout, gose, berliner weisse, schwartzbier).  You can peruse their tap list, here.  So, it was taster time.  I enjoyed four oz tasters of ten of their beers and every single one triggered my ecstasy. Yes.  They were that good. Bluejacket doesn't distribute their beer.  You gotta go to their joint to drink it. No problem. I just have to jump on the green line Metro at Greenbelt station and ride the train to Navy Yard, walk a couple of blocks and I'm there. Hiram and I very efficiently figured out everything that needed figuring out over these beers and enjoyed snacks: hot sauce and bleu cheese over tater tots, a plate of hot chicken wings, and a cold charcuterie.

3.  Hiram and I arrived back at chez Diaz and I thrilled at the sight of David and Olivia's blanket fort in the tv room.  Awsome.  Just Awesome.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/15: Smarty Pants Phone, Pennsylvania Beer & Idaho Memories, Popcorn Dinner

1.  So.

Family members have been urging me for months, maybe years, to move from my low IQ phone to a smart one. Sister Christy, months ago, passed the smart phone she used for a few years on to me after she upgraded. Finally, today, I powered up the phone Christy gave me and I went to the Verizon store and Kevin fiddled and diddled and switched my service from the low IQ phone to the smart phone and moved my contacts over and now I carry a computer and a still camera and video camera and, oh, so much more in my pocket. Surely this will improve the quality of my life.  Right?

2. The Deke texted me a request for gin and tonics with lime when she got off work. I thought she meant we would go out for gin and tonics with lime after work, but I think she meant that she'd like me to go to one of Greenbelt's dimly lit, charmless, joyless liquor stores and pick up some gin and tonic and lime.  I didn't. No problem. We just headed north to Beltsville to the Old Line Bistro, plopped ourselves on stools at the bar, exchanged some good words with Lemar, and decided to drink a couple of Pennsylvania's very finest beer:  Troegs Hop Knife Harvest Ale.  We both loved this beer. I tend to enjoy the more citrusy IPAs -- and this beer delivered tasty citrus tones, but here's what surprised and pleased me.  It also had a piney, resinous character and, honestly, with each gulp I could swear I was among the great Ponderosa pines of North Idaho, searching for a wayward drive down the left side of the 7th hole at the Pinehurst Golf Course.  The beer intoxicated me slightly, but nothing like the pine tree memories of golf -- and, I just thought of this -- of July weeks at Camp Easton on Coeur d'Alene Lake as a Boy Scout.  Complex flavor and great memories:  now that's a good beer in my book!

3.  After some solid conversation at the bar, the Deke and I returned home.  I had planned to cook up a creamy tomato spinach pasta sauce to pour over some penne, but we said, "Forget it" and I popped a stock pot overflowing with popcorn, buttered it, and salted it and that was our dinner tonight.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/16/15: D. C. Plans, Feeling Old School Joy, Dinner Upon Request!

1. I've been lazy about going into Washington, D. C.  That's a fact. To get myself motivated to not be so inert, I took time this morning to read up on what's happening at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, and the National Archives and started planning some trips into our nation's capitol to see some exhibits and listen to some lectures -- starting, I think, on Friday.

2. I drove a short distance to Metzerott Road  to a parking lot and I walked on the Paint Branch Trail, past a handsome, grassy (and empty) dog park on down to the University of Maryland.  Once on campus, I lost the trail. I'll have to read a map and figure out where it goes.  I took a stroll down Paint Branch Drive past demolished buildings and cranes where new ones were being built and observed students and faculty, dismayed that not one of them looked all that happy to be strolling to or from class.  Maybe the drained of expression look is an affect, a mask -- okay, no problem.   Still, I didn't see one sign of a student having been electrified and surprised by Beowulf or Homer, of being astonished by the wit of Donne's "Valediction Forbidding Mourning", or of being delighted by the playfulness of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  So, I remembered back to having these experiences myself, felt the jolt of joy my studies so often gave me, and felt it for them.

3. Molly texted.  Hiram was giving lessons at George Mason University. She was low on groceries. Would the Deke and I like to come over for some food -- well, and bring it?  Delighted to. It just so happened that I was getting ready to blanch green beans, boil baby potatoes, chop up red onion, grape tomatoes, and sweet peppers to make a salad and I knew I'd be making plenty for both of our families. So I combined these vegetables in a large bowl, mixed together olive oil, crushed garlic, rice vinegar, salt, and pepper, dressed the salad, finishing up just in time to pick up the Deke at school and go over to the Diaz house.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/15: Tentley Tea, I Don't Think So, Tofu is Back

1.  This morning I longed for an English breakfast. For me, this means eggs, toast and Marmite, maybe some beans, some bacon, and some black tea and milk. All I had around the house, though, was tea, so I happily settled for a cup or two of Tentley British Blend Premium tea.  It's so cheap -- hard to know how premium it is! But, for this easy to please Doodle, it hit the spot.

2. I think I decided today that I don't want to insert layers of interactive curriculum aligned with Common Core standards into ebooks for an outfit called Curriculet, even if they would hire me to do so.

3. At dinner, when the Deke dove into her bowl of stir fry and peanut sauce I cooked up, she exclaimed, "Wow! I forgot how good tofu is!"  Exactly.  Seven words that made my day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/15: Parents to the Rescue, Dr. Madsen a Year Later, Lamar and Lamb Sliders

1.  It might be that the bloom is slowly coming off the rose -- that a sleepover at Nana's and Grandpa's isn't quite the epic adventure it was just a few months ago.  If so, no problem.  We live in a mutable world and children can especially mutable! Not long after waking up, Olivia whined, maybe even cried a bit, about wanting to go home; she pushed the Deke to please hurry up and shower so they could get going back to the Diaz home.  But, the Deke didn't have to hustle. Unexpectedly, Molly and Hiram and Ana came to our apartment home to pick up David and Olivia. David and Olivia jumped with joy at the arrival of their mom and dad and sister. I couldn't help but wonder if they might have felt different this morning if I'd made popcorn to begin the day.  Ha!

2.  My eyesight has not significantly diminished, according to my favorite optometrist, Dr. Catherine Madsen at the Beltsville Costco Vision Center, and so I will continue to move through the world with the same prescription I've had for the last couple of years.  Dr. Madsen showed genuine interest in the health of my eyes and we had a good talk about my kidney disease as well.  I appreciated the interest she took in the whole picture of my well-being.  I appreciated Dr. Madsen's work a year ago and really enjoyed her again today.

3.  My eyes had to be dilated for some photographs, so I didn't want to drive to our apartment home right away.  Instead, I put on the funny plastic floppy sunglasses Dr. Madsen handed me, with a sheepish look, and made my way one parking lot over, on foot, to the Old Line Bistro.  I ordered three three mini-lamb sliders, dressed with tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki sauce, and a side of this joint's delicious home made potato chips and enjoyed a pint of the renowned (deservedly so) Bell's Two-Hearted Ale.  The bartender, Lamar, and I talked some NFL football.  I closed out my lunch with a half pint of Cobbler Mountain Honey Cider, a light, apple-y, refreshing dessert. Lamar shook my hand when I left and told me it had been an honor and a pleasure to meet me and hoped I'd come back soon.  I think I will.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/15: Fall Food Shopping, Gin and Beer and Stir Fry, Grandpa Popcorn Strikes Again

1.  The temperatures dipped a bit today. I'd nearly forgotten how good it felt to walk outside late in the morning and feel refreshed by the air, not pressed down by it. Then I had a thought! Cooler temperatures mean one fun thing for me:  time to get out the electric frying pan and fix some cooked food. My oil supply was down, so after I picked up some produce staples at Costco (where I also picked up the cards I had made featuring a picture I took of the Kellogg YMCA), I went to the Co-op and restocked the cupboard with canola oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil, as well as rice vinegar, eggplant (my fast is over), and other stuff.  Now, I'm ready. When the weather really cools off I can cut back on the cold dinner salads and get back into the world of stir fry, curries, and soup.

2. The Deke and I knew we were going to the Diaz house in the afternoon and I volunteered to make dinner. I hummed "Hail to the Chief" as I took the electric frying pan out of the lower cupboard and poured myself a little gin with lime twist over ice and cooked up some stir fry:  sweet onions, garlic, EGGPLANT, broccoli, and sweet peppers.  I toasted some sesame seeds. I made a peanut sauce --with plenty of lime juice. Somewhere in there I poured myself a glass (well, two glasses) of Little Sumpin' Sumpin'. I fried a batch of rice in sesame oil. I put all the food in containers, got out a box, loaded it up, took it to chez Diaz, and I'm happy to report that our family loved this dinner -- and, I'm happy to report, I loved all the boiling, chopping, frying, toasting, blending, tasting, and drinking.

3.  For a while Olivia wasn't sure she wanted to leave her house and she was still whimpering as we pulled out of the driveway to head to Greenbelt for a sleepover.  Soon, though, her tears dried up, we settled into our apartment home.  I cleaned up the mess I made in the kitchen fixing dinner and immediately became Grandpa Popcorn and made Olivia, David, the Deke, and me a big batch of buttery, salty Jolly Time fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/15: Staying Home, Foyle Confronts Corruption, Can't Rewind -- Gone Too Far

1.  For the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency that runs the trains and buses in the DC area, 2015 is its annus horribilis.

One passenger was asphyxiated in January; an empty train derailed in August, seriously disrupting service on three lines for at least a day; the agency is behind in track repair; the agency is without a general manager; lousy service has resulted in diminished ridership and so WMATA is facing financial difficulties.  The system's biggest challenge will come in less than two weeks when Pope Francis visits Washington D. C. His visit will bring countless visitors to DC -- and they will want to get from one part of this city to another efficiently.  Can Metro deliver?

Metro's problems moved me to stay home today.  I had planned to see a couple of movies in Silver Spring and go to the Silver Spring Jazz Festival, but as I planned my travels on the Metro system, I learned the Greenbelt Station was closed and I just didn't have the oomph today to take a bus to Greenbelt Station, board a shuttle to the College Park Metro, ride the Green Line to Fort Totten, transfer to the Red Line, where trains were running on a 24 minute schedule, and then ride to Silver Spring and do the whole thing again in reverse.

So I stayed home.  I spent much of the morning working with the black and white pictures I took at Greenbelt Park on Friday, posting some to my tumblr blog, here, and others to kellogg bloggin and all of them to my flickr account.

I'm glad I stayed home, as it turns out. The Deke was exhausted from our travels and the emotional demands of Ted's funeral in New Jersey and Ben and Tana's wedding in Chicago and then returning to work on Tuesday and I think it was good I stuck around.

2.  Early in the evening, the Deke went over the Diaz house and I continued my home stay and watched the last episode of the first season of Foyle's War.  Foyle's son, Andrew, an R. A. F. pilot, gets entangled in the corruption of an R. A. F. base near Hastings, is imprisoned on false charges, and his bewildering situation connects with a curator's robbery of an art piece and with two recent front door stabbings and murders. Christopher Foyle eventually sees through it all and exposes terrible crime and cover up at the R. A. F.  It is a complicated and deftly constructed story -- and, in the end, emotionally moving.

3.  For the last several days, the Buggles' song "Video Killed the Radio Star" has been playing over and over in my head.  I've enjoyed it. It's made me go back and remember times I enjoyed back in the 70s, times before, and during, the song's release. I went on You Tube tonight and and watched and listened to couple of versions of the song.  Over and over two lines from the song have been spurring my thoughts about how much I was in love with falling in love and how I'd get scared and try to deny my experience and while I could deceive myself with my intellect, I could never fool my feelings. The Buggles put it this way:  "In my mind and in my car/We can't rewind we've gone too far." Yeah. I got scared. Several times. I tried to rewind. Couldn't.  We'd gone too far. Or, at least, I had. I spent the night with ghosts, both wrestling with and enjoying a past that always lives in my present.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/15: Deep in the Suburban Woods, Photographing Light, Ale and Ducks at Quench

1.  It's a wooded suburban getaway. It's the closest campground area to our nation's capital. It's operated and taken care of by the National Park Service. It's Greenbelt Park. It's about ten minutes from our apartment home. Today I strolled the Perimeter Trail and parts of the Dogwood Trail, enjoying the heavily shaded trails and the local temperatures having dropped into the 80s.  Deep in the forest shade at one point, I saw a deer and a fawn, nearly completely camouflaged by the shadows and the woods. I stood and stared for a few seconds, realized they were too deep in the dark for a picture, and strolled on.

2.  I took mostly black and white pictures while I sauntered along these trails. With so much broken light in the woods, I decided to take pictures of the light and experimented with different shutter speeds and aperture, often taking several pictures of the same subject.  I'm still at the point in taking pictures where I don't yet foresee what a picture will look like when I open the shutter, but I make adjustments and then find out from the picture what I did.  I look forward to the day when I can imagine what I'd like a picture to look like and can confidently adjust the shutter speed and aperture to achieve that effect -- well, I do this once in a while -- but I'd like to do it more.  Here are some of the results of me photographing light today.  (If you'd like to see all 70 or so pictures I took, they are stored, here.

3.  Before the Deke and I went to chez Diaz for spaghetti dinner, we stopped in at the Quench Tap Room and I enjoyed two superb beers:  a big and fruity and not overly bitter IPA from a new brewer in Ellicott City, Maryland  called Manor Hill and I began our stop at Quench with an English strong ale brewed by Innis and Gunn,  straight outta Glasgow. It's a sweeter beer than I usually drink and perfectly so.  I loved it.  Our visit was made even more enjoyable by running into a U of O alum (Class of '87) named Robert.  He and I are both nervous about Oregon's tilt on Saturday with Michigan State and he gave me his card and volunteered to tell me about breweries in our region he's enjoyed if I just email him.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/15: Prince George's Paint Branch Trail, Photo Contrasts, Salad Buffet and LEGO Tutorial

1.  The temperatures dropped into the 80s today and so I took a walk.  My goal every day is to try to take at least 5000 steps and today I took over 10, 000 steps.  Just so you know, in this area where I live, there are two Paint Branch Trails, one in our county (Prince George's) and one in Montgomery County (it runs near Molly and Hiram's home). Today, I drove to the north trail head of the Prince George's Paint Branch Trail, right off Cherry Hill Road. I walked south through areas recovering from the deadly Sept. 24. 2001 tornado that struck this area, skirted the edge of the Paint Branch Golf Complex, and continued to just north of the University of Maryland.

2. Before going on this walk, I grabbed my Nikon and equipped it with my 50mm/1.4 prime lens and after snapping a few pictures, I remembered that I'd told myself to work on being more mindful of contrast in my pictures.  So I looked for light and shadow, natural objects juxtaposed with unnatural ones, contrasting colors (not a strength of mine), life and death, and any other contrasts I could find. Here are some of my pictures:

3. Mid-afternoon a text came in from Molly informing me that dinner tonight was at her house. Molly made a terrific Greek-styled rice salad and she stove top grilled some chicken tenders and I brought over leftover salads I made the last two days here at home.  So we enjoyed a modest salad buffet together. Before and after dinner, David, with the aid of a catalog and a magazine, instructed me in the fine points of new Star Wars LEGO spaceships and Ninja-themed LEGO mini-figures and structures.  I had no idea.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/15: Troxstar Road Trip, Cold Salad, Popcorn Contentment

1. I spent solid time today collecting intel and weighing options in preparation for a trip to Middleborough in a couple of weeks so I can not only see the Troxstar, but get an introduction to his version of Kellogg.

2. With the humid temperatures hovering in the low 90s, I decided not to go on a hike today, and, instead, blanched green beans, boiled tiny Yukon Golds, chopped up tomatoes and peppers and red onions, and crushed garlic into olive oil and combined it all into a cold salad, fitting for this hot September day. I hear news from Kellogg that there's a bite of autumn in the air, but not here in Greenbelt, MD. Just like last year, September is hot and the air is heavy.

3. The Deke returned home from parents' night at the Dora Kennedy French Immersion school. She was pleased with how things went. It turned out she was ready for some popcorn, so I made us a heaping stock pot full. We ended our evening letting the relaxing power of popcorn settle us down and send us contented into the night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/15: Costco Trip, Black Bean Salad, Tacos and Calico Critters

1. I started getting our household back in order after being away for six days with a trip to Costco to buy some peppers, green beans, tomatoes, almond butter, salsa, kale salad kit -- and a fill up of gasoline.

2.  After a trip to CVS to buy a replacement hair drier -- maybe Aunt Susie has a new hair drier -- or The Aloft Hotel in Chicago! --, I stocked up at the Co-op and returned home and cooked rice and combined it with black beans, chopped peppers, tomatoes, and red onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, corn, lime juice, and olive oil to make a salad to take to Molly and Hiram's for dinner tonight.

3. The salad was a fitting complement to Taco Tuesday at chez Diaz and before we dove into the chow, Olivia explained to me a little bit about the world of Calico Critters. I had no idea.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/15: Early Start, For the Sake of Family, Good Dogs

1.  The Deke and I got ourselves up and around, said good-bye to Aunt Susie, and were on the road before 7 a.m. with a drive from Battle Ground, IN to Greenbelt, MD ahead of us.

2. When we arrived in Maryland, the traffic started backing up and slowing down, with about a hundred miles still to go to Molly and Hiram's to pick up the dogs. At the uber crowded I-270 interchange, we decided to stay on I-70 and we made our way to Molly and Hiram's via Rt. 32 and, soon enough, Rt 29.  The traffic on this alternate route was uninterrupted saving us a lot of frustration, even if we added a few miles to our route. All the same, it was a thirteen hour driving day. We covered a lot of ground in six days -- emotionally and physically -- all for the sake of family.

3. At chez Diaz, Maggie and Charly were excited to see the Deke and when they arrived at our apartment home they enjoyed being back on the couch and soon relaxed in their familiar surroundings.  The Deke and I were very happy to learn that they had behaved very well at Molly and Hiram's and were never a problem.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/15: Brunch at the East Bank Club, Visiting at Aunt Susie's, We Can't Leave!

1.  The Deke's brother, Brian, father of the groom, hosted a hearty brunch at the athletic club he belongs to:  the East Bank Club. The bagels, cold salmon, pastries, and Florentine eggs benedict I ate were delicious and it was, by all I could see, a perfect way to wind down a weekend full of energy and fun.

2.  After brunch, the Deke and I piled ourselves and our stuff back into the Subaru and drove to Battle Ground, IN to visit Aunt Susie at her house and to see Susie's daughter, Lisa, her son Luke, and her partner, Donna, all of whom we knew were coming over.  We had another great family time with everyone, tempered by the fact that Susie is recovering from a spell with cancer and is in a lot of pain from other things ailing her. But she was determined to enjoy our company and we had a lovely visit.

3.  Originally, the Deke and I were going to visit for an hour or two and then drive for another four hours so that our drive back to Greenbelt on Monday would be shorter.  But, we didn't want to leave Aunt Susie or Lisa or Donna or Luke, so we spent the night and decided that we would just grit our teeth and push through the long drive on Monday!

Three Beautiful Things 09/05/15: Dick's Career Advice, Dick's Last Resort, Ben and Tana Are Wed

1. The Deke and I went shopping at Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  While I waited at Starbucks for the Deke to finish up, a guy named Dick, sitting with about six bags of books, told me how I could get a Shakespeare theater started in Greenbelt.  When I left, I entreated him to enjoy his reading, but he told me he didn't read: "These books are my oranges.  I squeezed them for their juice."

2.  In the afternoon, I strolled the Chicago River, dwarfed by skyscrapers seeming to rise out of the river itself and came upon Dick's Last Resort, an establishment I'd been to on the Riverwalk in San Antonio and had talked about with Ed, who also went to the San Antonio joint when he visited there. So, for old time's sake, I went into the Chicago version of Dick's Last Resort and drank a couple cheater pints of Little Sumpin' Sumpin' and ate a blackened chicken Caesar Salad and I texted Ed to tell him the Dick's Last Resort I was in was not as rowdy as the one in San Antonio, but that the scenery was good.

3. Ben and Tana got married at 6 o'clock at gallery 1038, a refashioned warehouse space in an industrial area on Goose Island in Chicago.   No longer a warehouse, it's now an upscale event space. About a hundred fifty people attended the ceremony and reception, replete with an open bar, catered dinner, and dance music provided by a dj. I had the misfortune, at about 8:00 or so, of figuratively hitting the wall.  After driving to New Jersey on Wednesday and attending the viewing and the funeral of Ted and driving to Chicago on Thursday and Friday and celebrating at the rehearsal dinner on Friday and walking around during the day on Saturday, I had to affix myself to a couch near the bar and be a sober spectator to all the mirth and merriment going on in the dance hall and around the bar. What I saw was beautiful, and I have to admit, I wish I'd been about twenty-five years younger with the stamina I used to have and been able to dance and whoop it up with the youngsters!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/04/15: Checked In, Reunion at the Carnivale, No Longer Kids

1.  Upon our arrival in downtown Chicago, after creeping up I-90 to the Ohio St. exit, we checked into The Aloft Hotel, figuring out who bunks with whom -- I'm with Patrick -- and got ourselves ready for the first event of the wedding weekend.

2.  Patrick, the Deke, and I taxied to Carnivale, a restaurant featuring bold colors, a raucous atmosphere, and food offerings from South America, Spain, and the Caribbean. Quickly, we found Adrienne, hugged, and then we embraced our other family members:  Ben, the groom, his sisters, Danielle and Allison, Brian, the Deke's brother, and Diane, Brian's wife.  We missed David, the Deke's brother, who died in 2009, but immediately I saw his son Bill and we embraced and later David's daughter, Samantha (who lived with the Deke and me in Eugene back in 2011-12), another hug. Margaritas, Mexican beer, mojitos, and other cocktails flowed freely, and happiness filled the room.

My best moment?  Allison told me she is seriously considering composing Three Beautiful Things each day!

3.  We were served heaping plates of food, family style.  I wish I could list all the food, but it was all unfamilar to me, and very tasty and very fun -- but not as fun as seeing Adrienne and Patrick and our nieces and nephews as adults enjoying each other in ways they never could have when they were kids.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/03/15: Sending Ted Into the Church, Eulogizing Ted, Bidding Ted Farewell

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’
                                             --from Julius Caesar
                                                William Shakespeare

"The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness."
                                              -- Michel Montaigne

1.  I don't know all the correct ways to refer to a policeman's funeral, but I'll do my best.  Seated in the Metuchen First Presbyterian Church, suddenly I heard the lone bagpiper and I now know that Ted Ayotte's coffin, draped with a flag of the USA, was under the protective presence of a police honor guard. Those of us in the church stood as pall bearers rolled his coffin to the front of the church and several rows of pews on both sides of the church filled with police officers in uniform.

2.  Ted's sons, Jim and Ken, eulogized their father with the highest of praise and with stories of their fathers' life of community service, love for family and friends, affections as a grandfather, and of their pride to have had a man of Ted Ayotte's goodness and generosity as their father. The pastor's eulogy reinforced and expanded upon these same elements of Ted's life.  The words of Michel Montaigne sprang to my mind.  Here they are again, "The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness."

3.  After the service concluded inside the church, honoring Ted continued outside the church with the solitary bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace".  Officers removed the flag from Ted's coffin, folded with great dignity, and presented it to Sally. The police detail was dismissed and Ted's coffin was placed in the hearse to be carried to his place of eternal rest.

A luncheon followed in the church's social center.  Patrick, the Deke, and I left Metuchen, NJ shortly after noon to begin our nearly 500 mile drive to a Hampton Inn Elyria, OH for a night of rest before driving on to Chicago on Friday for three days of festivities surrounding our nephew Ben's wedding on Saturday.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/02/15: Not at the Last Minute, Arriving at the Ayotte House, Ted in Repose

1. I dropped Patrick and the Deke off at Kohl's not far from chez Diaz and drove over to Molly and Hiram's to drop off the dogs.  They forgot the dogs were coming over and had gone on a shopping safari. LUCKILY, the Deke, Patrick, and I were not running late or even at the last minute and we had some wiggle room in our plan to arrive in Metuchen, NJ about 4:00.  I took the dogs for a walk and not long after the corgis and I got back to chez Diaz, the Diaz family arrived, I dropped off the dogs, and picked up Patrick and the Deke at the shopping center and we were off to New Jersey to honor and mourn the life and death of Ted Ayotte.

2.  We arrived at the Ayotte house shortly after 4:00 and soon Sally, Adrienne and other family members returned from the first viewing of Ted in repose at the funeral home.  We embraced each other. Conversations grew out of our love for each other and our grief at losing Ted. We ate the generous gifts of food spread out in the kitchen.

3.  Patrick, the Deke, and I went to the evening viewing of Ted lying in a coffin, dressed in a police uniform, all the kindness and good cheer drained from him by death, but his unflappable calm in life was almost magnified by his being dead. The Deke and I knelt at his coffin. I prayed, shed tears, and remembered how much I enjoyed Ted, many moments of our brief friendship flashing before my eyes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/15: Routine, Remembering Ted, Pizza at the Diaz House

1. It's a monthly routine that's easy, but I must always remember to get it done, and today I went to LabCorp and had blood drawn so that the Transplant Center at the University of Maryland has a fresh sample of my blood every thirty days.

2. I spent time today composing and posting a remembrance of Ted Ayotte who died on Sunday, here.

3. The Deke, Patrick, and I went to the Diaz home for a good visit and some pepperoni pizza that Molly made.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Remembering Ted Ayotte

"And holy shit do some of them trash talk and gamble"

Those were Ted Ayotte's last words to me -- a text message sent on August 27th at 10:14 a.m. the day after he had worked as a marshal during a practice round at The Barclays golf tournament at Plainfield Country Club.

I had texted Ted earlier, asking him if he was working all four days of play at The Barclays.  I can hear Ted's voice in the immediate response he sent me:

"Bill it was absolutely amazing I worked it yesterday and the day before so practice and proam I was on the 14th Teebox and Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson one after another came up on the Teebox during the program they are incredible to watch I just had a fantastic time....working tomorrow half a day"

Then he dropped the "holy shit" on me!

Unlike so many suffering the shock and grief of Ted's sudden death, I had only known Ted for a short time.

My wife, Debbie, is Sally's cousin.  In recent years, Debbie had spent some great time with Ted and Sally, but I didn't meet them until after Debbie and I moved east in the summer of 2014.

I met Ted and Sally on February 20, 2015. Debbie and I spent a night with them on our way to visit our daughter, Adrienne, in Nyack, NY.

It was a memorable meeting.  Ted was most impressed that we had driven all the way from Maryland and, still, we were ready to head right out the door and go downtown to Hailey's Harp and Pub.

The pub was packed and, as we walked in, friends mobbed Ted. The pub's owner shook his hand. Guys he was going with on a golf trip in a few days slapped him on the back, all smiles, and they started giving each other shit.

Drinking my HopDevil IPA, soaking in the scene at Hailey's, I was suddenly filled with hope.

It might be, I thought, that I'm starting to become friends with a guy who I could have grown up with in Kellogg, Idaho.

I began to wonder, is he a straight shooter, a no bullshit kind of guy?  Debbie had told me he was and my first impression was that, yes, he meets this North Idaho standard.

I could see he was a pro at giving his friends shit.  This was a good sign.

Even better, he could take some good-natured ribbing and I could already see Ted laughing at himself.  That was a great sign.

Ted rejoined our table and we started to hit the sauce. Corona Light for Ted. And for Sally.

I stuck with the HopDevil.

Now it really felt like I was making a friend I fit with, a friend I'd want to have join the Hall of Fame of Great Guys in Don Knott's back patio in Kellogg, a guy I could trust to be real with my lifelong friends, a guy I could tell they would enjoy a lot.

We got back to Ted and Sally's house and right away, Ted fished a Lagunita's IPA out of the fridge and I sank deeper into pleasant intoxication and, BOOM!, I fell asleep (passed out?) on Ted and Sally's couch.

It was my first night at Ted and Sally's and there I was, this drunk lunk from Kellogg, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon, and now Greenbelt, MD, deep in sleep, never to make it to my bed, and it was not a problem.

Morning came, I was refreshed, the coffee was on, and Ted had out a pen and pad to take bagel orders and head downtown to has favorite bagel shop and bring back a feast.

"Ted.  He's all right, isn't he?" I said to Debbie as we drove later that day to Nyack.

"I told you he was."


We had a more extended stay at Ted and Sally's over the Easter weekend for the men's basketball NCAA Final Four and I got to experience Ted and Sally as avid sports fans.

More and more any distance that might have existed between me, a North Idaho kid, and Ted, the basketball star from Edison, NJ and cop in Metuchen closed and I started to think I was making a good friend.

Ted and Sally helped Debbie and me feel right at home at their huge party to watch the Final Four semi-finals. I started to feel more and more like family when we went to Ted's son's house for Easter dinner and I met Ted's brother.

The next day, Ted and I took a walk in Metuchen and went to see Sally at the church.

Ted and I had lunch at Hailey's.

We talked more -- we talked about golf, about the upcoming Duke/Wisconsin game, Ted's life, my life, Ted's work as a police officer, the church, how each of us was keeping care of himself as we were getting older, all good stuff, a friendship getting underway.

That Easter weekend was a superb visit.

I got to see Ted one more time at the end of June at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering and the family reunion at Aunt Susie's.

I don't think Ted had ever been to a festival like this one with musicians not only performing on stage, but gathering in small knots around the park and jamming with each other.

These fiddlers fired Ted up. He was beside himself with enthusiasm for all the impromptu music people were playing and he made video recordings of them with his phone and loved telling all of us back at Aunt Susie's house what he had experienced and how great these fiddle players were.

Ted also crossed over that weekend into the world of craft beer, thanks to Brian, Allison, and Danielle Diedrich, who brought a a bunch of beers with them from Indiana in growlers and cans.

I don't know if this cross over to craft beer lasted long for Ted, but soon after Ted and Sally left Indiana to head back to New Jersey, I got a text from Ted telling me he'd had a Lagunita's beer in Pennsylvania and that "it was fantastic".

By now, Ted and I were texting back and forth on occasion, mostly about golf; I knew Ted was disillusioned with Tiger Woods -- he had witnessed his arrogance first-hand -- and so I sent him the occasional text about Tiger's demise and we enjoyed letting each other know how highly we regarded Jordan Spieth and other young, emerging players on the PGA tour.

Yes, I kept thinking, I am making friends with a great guy, a guy who is decent through and through; a guy whose generosity (along with Sally's) has strengthened my family; a guy who is not full of himself or full of shit, who enjoys shooting the breeze over beers and food about sports and who I'd love to take to Kellogg to meet my lifelong friends there.

And then he died.

To quote my Kellogg friend, Ed:  "It just ain't right."

We got robbed.

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/15: Enrollment, We've Lost Ted, *Foyle's War*

1.  I am very fortunate that my retirement agreement with Lane Community College includes health insurance benefits until I reach Medicare age. Today, I completed the enrollment for those benefits.

2. The Deke and I were in touch throughout the day as she learned that the viewing of Ted Ayotte is on Wednesday and that his funeral will be on Thursday in Metuchen, NJ.  If you read these Three Beautiful Things, you might remember that the Deke and I went to Metuchen twice in 2015, first, in February, and again over Easter weekend, to visit the Deke's cousin, Sally, and her husband, Ted Ayotte.  On Sunday evening, the Deke and I learned the awful news that Ted suddenly collapsed and died in his home earlier in the day.   We last saw Ted in June at Aunt Susie's in Battle Ground, IN at a family reunion.  Ted and I hit it off from the get go. In the brief seven months I knew him, he was a great friend.  I can't accept that we've lost Ted. 

3. This evening, I finished watching an episode of Foyle's War. I would imagine that much of the appeal of contemporary crime/forensic television shows has to do with the wondrous technologies the investigators have at their disposal to solve murders. In part, what makes Foyle's War compelling is that Christopher Foyle investigates and solves crimes without the aid of so much as a microscope. The series has emotional power, too, because everything that is happening in the show connects with how the Second World War, and England's involvement in Europe, is affecting everyday life in Hastings, the East Sussex town on the English Channel, where the stories take place.