Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/15: Backpack Blessing, Corgi Swagger, Popeyes for Patrick

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.
                           -- Wallace Stevens

1. The Deke and I returned to St. John's Episcopal Church in Beltsville.  At the foot of the altar rested a pile of pink, camo, blue, red, and other colors of backpacks because today's service marked the start of school with the priest blessing these bags with holy water and all of us saying prayers over them. The prayers were for students, teachers, administrators, and others who work at schools.  I imagined one of the Deke's school bags being on the pile and was happy that this time was set aside to encourage and strengthen the Deke and all the other teachers as they move into this new school year.

2.  I picked up the corgis from the groomers and enjoyed how their sleek clean coats and trimmed nails upped their swagger.

3. At shortly after 10:00 p.m., Patrick returned to Greenbelt on time from NYC on the Bolt bus and I helped him satisfy a craving by driving through at Popeyes so he could bring home and devour a three piece chicken and mashed potato dinner.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/29/15: Delighting Angela, Racking Up Steps at the Mall, Meeting Hiram's Parents

1. I don't remember the last time I spent the whole day doing stuff with the Deke. We began our day down at the Hair Cuttery, both getting freshened up so we'll look presentable at the big wedding this coming Saturday in Chicago. When Angela, while cutting my hair, asked me if I'd had a vacation this summer, I told her that I traveled out west and on the plane trip out the flight attendants alerted me that they had decided I had the best hair on the plane.  This happened just after Angela cut my hair the last time and my story delighted her and made her laugh.

2. After some time at home, the Deke and I piled back into the Subaru and headed west to Bethesda and the Montgomery Mall. We rarely shop, let alone shop at a mall, but the Deke needed to buy something to wear to the wedding and I thought about buying a new white shirt. The Deke's trip was a success and I got a lot of steps racked up on my pedometer.

3. After the mall, we stopped in at the Quench Tap Room near the intersection of New Hampshire and E. Randolph and enjoyed some beer together before driving a short distance to Molly and Hiram's house where Hiram's mom and dad, Bertha and Tino were visiting.  I had never met them and it was a lot of fun to get acquainted and to learn more about Hiram's family, especially about how Tino came to the USA from Cuba over fifty years ago.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sibling Assignment #168: Salmon and Gewurztraminer Wine

As August draws to an end and as Carol basks in the glow of the fun of her recent vacation on the Oregon Coast, she gave us siblings this prompt for our next assignment:

"Write about some of the memories you have when we all gathered at the Oregon Coast and share those memories and stories in your next post."

Christy wrote about the last time we all got together on the Oregon Coast in 2009, here.  Carol's post is forthcoming.

Please, Sisters, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think some combination of members of our nuclear family were at the Oregon Coast together in intermittent years from 1980, when Mom and Dad came to see me in Eugene, through 2012, when Mom and I drove to Eugene to visit the Deke, Adrienne, and Jack and we took a day trip to Yachats and had a bite to eat at the Adobe Inn.

Looking back, I see I wrote about our family's time at Rockaway Beach in August, 2009, here, and I see I wrote then about what I was going to write about now for this assignment.  Until now, I didn't realize that I think a lot about these family visits to the Oregon Coast and associate them with the way I have often felt like the family vagabond/weirdo. It's all right there in my August, 2009 blog post and so is my gratitude that, in 2009, I felt so much acceptance from our family even though I spent a lot of time by myself and had a lot on my mind that was troubling me during that very difficult year.

So, since I've already sufficiently tilled that soil, I need to take another approach to this assignment.

I'm tempted to write about the high anxiety I felt when our family gathered at the Oregon Coast.  I was always nervous about whether things were going well for Mom and Dad, but especially Dad. Was this restaurant okay for him? Would the weather cooperate and give us (him) a gorgeous ocean sunset? Would he like the golf course in Waldport? If I bring food for us to eat, will he like what I bring (think cream of celery soup -- and the answer is NO!)?

But, enough of that.  I want to write about a positive memory.  Ha! I just went back  Sibling Assignment #18, written in May, 2007, and I wrote then about, guess what?, my feelings of melancholy when our family gathered at the Oregon Coast, but also about a sweet memory I had about the morning Dad went for a walk and brought us back donuts.  It's here.

Now, back in 2007, Carol wrote about hers and my seasickness when she and Scott E. and I went out on a fishing boat in 1982.  It's hilarious and if you'd like to read it, go here.

We didn't catch any fish that morning.  Carol and I never stopped throwing up long enough to really tend our poles, and even though he never got sick, Scott had no luck either.

So, we did what must be done at the end of a failed fishing expedition:  we bought a salmon from a Yaquina Bay fish market.

If I remember correctly, later that day, in the late afternoon, Scott took over the cooking of the salmon.

He gathered wood on the beach and built a small campfire and when it had died down, he set the salmon he'd dressed and wrapped in foil in the hot coals and cooked it perfectly.

Back in those days, not only did I love salmon baked the way Scott did it, I also loved to eat salmon paired with Gewurztraminer wine.  I guess the sweet meat of the salmon and the peppery and spicy elements of the wine worked for me and I remember feeling blissed out eating this fish, even if we didn't catch it.

I might be making this up. Maybe we didn't have Gewurztraminer with the salmon and maybe we fixed the salmon up in the cabin in the little oven.

But I do know that I associate that cabin strongly with Gewurztraminer wine, thanks to the first visit I ever made to this cabin in the winter of 1980.

Back then, married to Eileen, she and I joined with Barbara and John for a weekend at Yachats and we went to the store to buy some wine and gave Gewurztraminer a try and we loved it and it became our go to wine for the next couple of years.

I especially remember how we drank that wine in the cabin with a winter storm gathering over the ocean, the waves crashing, the wind roaring, and rain pelting the cabin and we got out the board game Sorry! and played "Screw You" Sorry! together.  Any time we could thwart an opponent's advance to victory, we relished it, not with "sorry", but with "screw you" (or its f-bomb equivalent) and we had such a good time and enjoyed the Gewurztraminer so much that we had to go out into the storm and buy another bottle or two.

So, it was a tough morning out on that fishing boat, but a good dinner came out of it and, thanks to the Gewurztraminer wine and the salmon, I can enjoy some fond memories of days spent with people long removed from our family's life, but who added a lot of enjoyment to my life over thirty years ago.

Three Beautiful Things 08/28/15: Cool Morning Air, David's Utter Calm, The Corgis and the Grounds

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of of the pantomime.
                                            -- Wallace Stevens

1.  To get things ready for our trip to Chicago next week, I took the car in to be serviced and walked back home in the cool morning air via the path around Greenbelt Lake:

2. So that Molly and Olivia and Ana could go to the open house this afternoon at Olivia's new school, I stayed with David for about an hour and watched him patiently and meticulously sort through tiny Lego pieces, doing his best to solve construction problems and, when he couldn't solve them, he serenely let go and moved on, without a trace of frustration.

3. The dogs helped me get in over 10, 000 steps today when we once again walked the circumference of the grounds behind our apartment home.  Have I ever posted a picture of this area?  Well, I took one and figure no harm done if I'm repeating myself:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/27/15: Autumn Mornings, To the Dry Cleaners, New Salad

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
                                               -- Wallace Stevens

1.  Although the magazine room at the Greenbelt Library disappointed me -- I'll ask a librarian on another visit if I missed something -- like where are back issues --, the walk to the library from the Co-op refreshed me as autumn air is beginning to sit in Greenbelt in the mornings.

2. After much deliberation and hours of research, I decided to take my suit to the Beltway Super Cleaners in the Greenbelt Plaza and I took a few minutes to stroll down the plaza a ways to check out Heaven's Bakery for the heck of it and it didn't make a strong positive impression on me.  This little stroll was part of my ongoing effort to learn more about where I live.

3. I made another salad this afternoon for dinner and it was really good:  spinach leaves, chick peas, red onion, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese dressed with a combination of olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, honey, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  It made for a most satisfying dinner.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/26/15: Patrick to NYC, Building a Great Salad, Happy Dogs

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of a blackbird.
                                          -- Wallace Stevens

1.  A quick trip to the Greenbelt Station and Patrick boarded the Bolt Bus and was off to New York City.

2.  Time to use up some goods in the cupboard, so I fixed the cup of couscous I still had as well as the orzo and then started to construct a salad with rice, black beans, sweet peppers, red onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, a touch of lime juice, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and some salt.  Huge success.

3.  An expanse of lawn sits outside the back of our apartment building and about four other buildings near ours and the dogs and I walked the circumference of the lawn today and it made them very happy.  If they could talk, they would ask me to do this more often. I'll pretend I can read their minds and we'll do this more often.  They probably wonder why it took me so long to figure out that this would be a good walk for them, especially since it seems to be free of encounters with other dogs -- such encounters drive the corgis nuts and they bark like crazy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/25/15: The List, Old Line Bistro Dinner, From the Boss to Joan Jett

1. I remembered thinking that when I returned from Idaho a month ago, I would, and I quote myself, "Get back into my routine."  I have no idea what that routine is because I'm sure not into any routine as of yet. So, today, I figuratively strapped myself into a chair and made a list of what I need to get done, so that I'm not depending on my scatter-brained memory to remember what to do -- then, I got going on the list by cleaning the bathroom.

2. Patrick, Molly, Ana, the Deke, and I met at the Old Line Bistro for dinner. The Deke and I got seated and the owner came over to ask us how we were and to see if we had been to Old Line before and we told him we had and how much we enjoyed it. Patrick, Molly, and Ana arrived, and our splendid server, Laura, helped us get settled in with the baby. Laura and I had some solid beer talk and I ordered a couple of half pints, the first from Jailbreak in Laurel, a very easy, lightly melon infused blonde ale called Dew Right Honeydew. Second up was a delicious half pint of a small batch, one-off dark beer from Baltimore, a Heavy Seas Desert Island Series Schwartzbier. I ate the best dinner I've ever had at Old Line Bistro:  three lamb sliders with tzatziki sauce, cumcumber, and tomato and a kale and goat cheese salad, sweetened with strawberries and watermelon, made meaty with pecans, and dressed with a bracing balsamic vinaigrette.

3. Patrick and Debbie and the corgis turned in early.  While at Old Line, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" came over the house music system and so, this being the 40th anniversary of the Born to Run album, I went to YouTube and listened to several songs from a 1975 live concert in London at the Hammersmith Odeon performed passionately by Springsteen and the E Street Band. This inspired me to listen to three or four cuts from one of my favorite bands, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and, since Southside Johnny and Bon Jovi have done work together, I listened to a couple of Bon Jovi cuts.  I ended the night, for over ninety minutes, with Joan Jett videos -- among the videos I watched were songs from live concerts and studio produced videos of her songs; I watched her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, found a video of her performing a duet with Bruce Springsteen, singing "Light of Day"; I went way back to Joan Jett's days with The Runaways and listened to a sneering version of "Cherry Bomb" performed in Japan; I found her performing on Oprah and on stage in duets with Miley Cyrus; it was fun when she performed "Crimson and Clover" along side Tommy James; and, I dug up a great late 80s segment from The David Letterman Show with Joan Jett performing a NYC version of Jonathan Richman/ and the Modern Lovers' classic, "Roadrunner".

I'm still not sure I've found a routine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/24/15:IKEA Problem Solving, Shopping with Patrick, Exquisite Dinner

1. The Deke wanted to put into action an idea for where her students can put their backpacks, jackets, coats, and other accessories they bring with them to class.  There are no hooks.  There is no coat hall. So, she asked Patrick and me to go to IKEA to buy some shelving with cubby holes.  We were on it and when we arrived at the Deke's school, she asked where the other shelves were.

Oh.  We were supposed to get two?


Patrick went inside with the Deke and the shelving to be the assembly man and I drove back to IKEA and bought another box of shelving.

I interrupted my mission at IKEA by looking at some picture frames and began to imagine how some of my images of Snug might look in some of those frames.

2.  After Patrick got the shelving assembled, we took care of the dogs, and then it was off to Shoppers to buy groceries for the gourmet meatloaf, cream cheese potato, and asparagus dinner Chef Patrick had planned for to fix for Molly, the Deke, him, and me over at Molly's house.

3.  Chef Patrick's dinner was awesome. The meatloaf was solid, not crumbly, and was both savory and slightly sweet and the cream cheese red potatoes and asparagus were perfect side dishes.  Patrick provided us with a perfect family dinner.  Hiram had left with David and Olivia earlier in the day for a fun trip of miniature golf and amusement park rides to Williamsburg, but he'll be able to enjoy the leftovers when he returns.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/23/15: Farmers Market, Visiting DC Brau, Uncle Patrick

1.  Patrick and I took a quick trip down to Greenbelt's Farmers Market and picked up some red potatoes and cherry tomatoes.  Quite a few people were out, enjoying the variety of produce, soaps, volunteer information, and food booths.

2. Early in the afternoon, Patrick and I headed down to Bladensburg Road in NE D. C. and enjoyed a round of samplers at the D C Brau's tasting room. It's a most unimpressive looking place in a small warehouse on a desultory block that houses a beauty supply shop, a plumbing shop, a run down post office, and a Goodyear Service Center, but, I'm telling you, looks aren't everything. I sampled D C Brau's Corruption IPA, Brau Pils, Public Pale Ale, and Penn Quarter Porter and took a sip of Patrick's On the Wings of Armageddon Double IPA and his Stone of Arbroath Scotch Ale and every one of these beers tasted great. We didn't drink any pints -- the samplers were enough --, but we did walk out with a 64 oz growler of the Corruption IPA and a six pack of Penn Quarter Porter to enjoy later at Molly and Hiram's.

3. David and Olivia are nuts about their Uncle Patrick.  They especially enjoyed transforming Patrick into a human jungle gym on the couch. Patrick is great with the kids and they love all the different ways he plays with them and how creative he is.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/22/15: Patrick's in Maryland, Framing Pictures, Brother Day

1.  United Flight 1947 arrived at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport at 7:06 this morning and on board was our son, Patrick Hennessey and I picked him up and we'll get to have his company now for two weeks.

2.  While I was in Idaho, the Deke bought some picture frames and some of those frames were still empty and I had fun trying out different of my pictures with different frames, trying to learn better what frames enhance what pictures and trying to file away what I learned for future frame purchases.

3.  It was brother day for Molly and Hiram.  Not only did Patrick arrive today, but Alejandro, Hiram's brother, drove down to Silver Spring from Pittsburgh and I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time.  We all sat down to a pasta dinner together and had a lot of fun all getting better acquainted.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/15: Snug and David, Preaching in my Youth, Spiderman Hoodie

1. Even after my Hard Drive Crash of 2012, I still have nearly four hundred pictures of Snug, but after he died in 2011, I couldn't bear to look at them very often.  That changed today. I uploaded tons of pictures of Snug into my flickr account today and looked at many of these pictures and enjoyed what a handsome dog he was and, I think, the love he inspired in me, as seen in the pictures. I'm not sure I have the original file of this picture any longer, but I remembered I had posted in on this blog six years ago (June 2009), and it remains one of my favorites.  It's Snug sitting in our Eugene living room with the Deke's brother, David, who died fewer than six months later:

2.  Sister Christy sent me a text message wondering if Mom was correct in remembering that I had preached a sermon at the Presbyterian church in Omak. She was right and that single text stirred memories of a short-lived time, in my early twenties, when I would get occasional preaching jobs, through the church relations office at Whitworth, in churches near Spokane. Mostly these were one time fill the pulpit jobs, made possible by a woman named Dawn who worked in the church relations office and would contact me when a church called the college looking for a one Sunday preacher. I preached in Sandpoint, Post Falls, Omak, and, for about 4-6 Sundays, in Spangle when the pastor at the Christian Church there had to be away because of surgery.  I often think about those times when I sit in the congregation now and listen to sermons.  I marvel at the naive innocence of my youth when I had total confidence that I had something to say.  Sometimes, when at worship these days, I try to imagine what I'd say if I were ever asked to preach again. Mostly, I think about how, as I've grown older, I face spiritual and sacred matters with humility and, often, silence.

3.  When the Deke and I arrived at the Diazes this evening for dinner, David greeted us enthusiastically because his mom had just bought him a Spiderman hoodie and when he pulled the hood up over his head, a Spiderman mask dropped over his face.

Me:  Can you see with the mask over your face?
David:  Yes.  The mask has lots of little holes and I can see right through them.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/20/15: More Photo Sorting, Grieving Snug, Green Bean Potpourri

1.  I spent several hours continuing to examine memory cards, working to recover and organize photographs, all because of the great external drive crash of 2012.  I've worked on this project intermittently since 2012 and I don't see an end in sight. I am glad, however, that I have stopped taking like two hundred pictures every time I take my camera out. This former way of doing things has made these days of going back over memory cards very tedious.

2.  It's been difficult for me over the last nearly four years to go back and look at the scores of pictures I took of my now deceased dog, Snug. The difficulty doesn't diminish with time.  All the same, I enjoyed revisiting pictures of him as I work on this picture project.

3.  I blanched a bag of green beans and boiled some tiny potatoes, and iced them. When the Deke arrived home, she combined them with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic to make a delicious cold dinner.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/19/15: Tedious and Rewarding. North Idaho Pictures, Stop Deleting

1. I have been working since the fall of 2012 to recover pictures from memory cards and organize them after the external hard drive I had recently purchased crashed. I am storing all my pictures, good ones and lousy ones, at flickr, and today I worked on continuing to update my flickr account. It's a tedious project and, at times, rewarding.

2. I found a memory card with pictures I hadn't stored or uploaded to flickr.  I'd missed these pictures from the summer of 2011 -- Martin Creek, North Fork of the CdA River, Cataldo, Mom's yard and garden -- and I've hoped they weren't lost.  For me, this was a great discovery.  Here's a picture from Mom's yard that I'm glad I kept, but that I wan't that crazy about back in 2011:

3.  It's not that all the pictures are that great.  I know they aren't. I've had times when I brutally deleted pictures and I won't do that again.  I will always do my best to keep some record of all the pictures I take.  Today I discovered that I was more pleased with some pictures I took four years ago than I was at the time I took them. As time goes by, I think I'm less harsh in my assessment of my pictures and I have to accommodate my changing moods and perspectives as the pictures, and I, grow older.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/18/15: Slow Start, Gratitude for Travel, Kindness at TGI Fridays

1.  This happens some days, not very often.  I wake up at 5:30, tired, unrefreshed and take care of the dogs and help the Deke get out the door. I fight the fatigue for a while and then surrender and take a morning nap.  I'm very fortunate to be retired so that when this happens I can just deal with it, get some morning sleep and get on with my day.  Today I got on with my day at 10:45.

2. I completed Sibling Assignment #167 today and had a great time kickin' around in my flickr account looking for pictures I've taken that represent what the summer season has come to mean to me.  I felt deep gratitude for my good fortune in life.  I get to travel -- oh, not to Europe or Costa Rica or the Caribbean or Southeast Asia or other far away places-- but over the last few years I've had a good trip to NYC and to Newport, Oregon and have enjoyed travel in North Idaho and drove to Battle Ground, IN and even got to go to Nelson, British Columbia and so I wrote some about it and posted some pictures, here.  

3. After the 10:00 service at St. John's Episcopal Church on Sunday, a parishioner handed the Deke a fundraiser flyer: eat on TGI Fridays on Tuesday, hand in this flyer when cashing out, and fifteen percent of the bill goes to St. John's. So we had a late afternoon dinner at TGI Fridays. Nothing was special about the food -- as expected -- but my whiskey/ginger ale cocktail was strong and delicious and when we left, on our way to the car, Stan, one of the parishioners, saw us leave and left his table and came outside to say hello.  We hadn't noticed him and his wife and other church members as we left -- we are not accustomed to knowing anyone when we go out -- and I enjoyed that he came out to greet us and see if we enjoyed dinner. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sibling Assignment #167: In the Good Old Summertime

Christy assigned the three of us siblings to do the following:

Pick a series of photos from your collection that symbolizes summer to you. Write a reflection on the summer photo choices.
You can see Christy's pictures, here, and read her thoughts about and gratitude for the Sibling Outings that Christy, Carol, and I go on.  Carol's summer has been defined by walking at least 10,000 steps a day:  her pictures and thoughts are here.

Every summer as the mildness of spring starts to give way to the heat of summer, I dread summer's arrival. I dread the heat and the harsh light of cloudless days. Here in Maryland, I dread the humidity. I also dread the dry heat of  where I come from, North Idaho -- and I dread the roar of the inevitable wildfires there.

And, yet, over the past few years, it's been in the good old summertime when I've done some of my favorite traveling, some of it with the Deke, some of it alone, and several jaunts with my sisters.

Looking at my pictures, I'm struck by the variety of places I've visited and the contrasts in the images, so I am going to post some pictures that, I hope, express my gratitude for the good fortune I have had to make some trips, to see good friends, spend time with family, and to make the most of the good old summertime.

Some of my travels have been to small towns in North Idaho that are practically deserted.  My sisters and I went on a Sibling Outing back in 2011 to Avery, Idaho and, later that day, drove around Clarkia.

Avery, Idaho

Clarkia, Idaho

In contrast to these rural North Idaho towns, in 2012, I traveled for about eight days in New York City, my first (and so far, only) visit.  I loved the grandeur of New York City and kept trying to take pictures that reflected the deep impression its cityscape made upon me:

Looking Across the East River from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

I also enjoyed taking candid pictures of people in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  This shot comes from Washington Square in Greenwich Village:

The Pigeons of Washington Square
I will wish for the rest of my days that I could return to Nelson, B. C. and stay for several, not a few, days after Christy and Carol and I traveled there in 2013.  While there, we went on a ferry ride across Kootenay Lake and visited Crawford Bay, where I watched this glass blower do her work:

BC Glassblower

Happy to Have Her Picture Taken
Later in that summer of 2013, I made a very short trip from Eugene to Newport, but it was a long trip back in time as my great friends, going all the way back to our days at Whitworth College, Mark and Peter and I got together for a couple of days of stories, laughter, meals, and some serious reflection upon what we've been doing over the last forty years or so.

Mark and Peter at Newport
This summer, I traveled back to Kellogg -- but I don't have any pictures. I'll have to make up for this lapse when I return in November.

But the summer started with some travel with the Deke.  We went out to Battle Ground, Indiana for a family reunion on the Deke's mother's side of the family and to drop in and out of the Indiana Fiddlers' Gathering.

Maybe the best part of that trip was Aunt Suzy's and also Lisa's screened in porches.  These are comfortably furnished porches where the air moves through, the bugs stay out, and where people can sit around and yak with each other, knit, make plans, drink, and eat some food:

Lisa's Screened In Porch
So, I guess all my dread about the heat and the glare of summer is sort of foolish, isn't it.....My most recent summers have featured some wonderful travel and, most importantly, time spent with family and great friends.

Still, couldn't it be a little cooler?

Three Beautiful Things 08/17/15: Back to School, Back to Food Prep, Back to Idaho

1. Summer break is over for the Deke and so we got back into our morning routine today.  As I dropped the Deke off at school, she told me she was looking forward to seeing her fellow teachers and to getting underway with the work of preparing her mind and her classroom for the arrival of students next week.

2. We haven't quite returned to our routine of one night's dinner being the next day's lunch just yet, so I took time this morning to make a very tasty tabbouleh-style rice salad, subbing basil for parsley and going a little crazy with the lemon and garlic. Both the Deke and I were very happy with how sweet and flavorful the tomatoes we bought Sunday at Costco were.

3. I got an email from Alaska Air advertising excellent plane ticket prices. Since I plan to visit Mom and my sisters in November and come back to Maryland after Thanksgiving, I decided to see what it would cost if I bought a ticket out and back now. I liked the prices, so I bought my tickets and will arrive in Spokane on Nov. 4 and come back to Maryland on Dec. 5th.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/16/15: St. John's in Beltsville, The World Comes to Costco, Evelyn Brings Over Lasagna

1. The Deke and I hadn't been to church together, I'd say, since Jack was baptized back in 2011.  Last Sunday, an Episcopal Church deacon preached at St. Andrews' in College Park. I wanted to know more about him and discovered that he serves St. John's in Beltsville. I either didn't know (or had totally forgotten) there was an Episcopal Church in Beltsville. It's a much smaller church than St. Andrew's and much closer to our apartment home. I mentioned my discovery to Debbie, told her St. John's priest was Haitian, and said I thought it was a mostly African-American parish and that I was going to attend services there on Sunday. Immediately, Debbie said, "I want to go." So we did. We were warmly welcomed. The service was beautiful, moving at times. We went to the parish hall for coffee hour, and, to our surprise and delight, a tasty potluck lunch was being served. We met the Marshalls who sat with us at coffee hour and told us about the nearly forty years they've been coming to St. John's. We'll go back next Sunday, I'm sure, unless, for some reason, Patrick's arrival and visit creates a conflict.

2. After church, we shopped at Costco where the Deke knew there were some handy food items for her daily lunches -- she starts back on Monday, August 17th. If I ever need evidence, right before my eyes, that I don't live in Eugene or Spokane or Coeur d' Alene or Kellogg any longer, the Beltsville Costco is the perfect place to go. The Beltsville Costco feels like an international bazaar or food market. As the Deke and I made our way up and down the Costco aisles, I couldn't begin to count the number of languages spoken by shoppers and because I am ignorant about the wardrobes of people from African countries, Muslim countries, Pacific Island countries, and India and other Hindu countries and because I do not have a keen sense of what countries different people from East Asia or Latin America or Europe come from, I couldn't begin to say how many people from how many different nations were in the Beltsville Costco today. It's a wonder to me I live here. I never imagined I'd ever live in such an international setting -- and whenever I want to experience how international Prince George's County in Maryland is, all I have to do is visit the Beltsville Costco, especially over the weekend. It's invigorating.

3.  A family from Ghana lives next door to Molly and Hiram.  Evelyn, the family's matriarch, is a cousin to one of the Deke's fellow teachers at school, and the Deke will unfold to him that she knows Evelyn on Monday when she returns to work. Around five o'clock, the Deke and I went over to the Diazes and just as we arrived, Evelyn popped over unannounced with a surprise lasagna -- she, like many other generous people in Molly and Hiram's life, was helping them out with food because they have a new born baby at home. Evelyn stayed for a while to visit and told us about her daughter who went to Spelman College and then worked in the Teach for American program in D. C. and helped out in Bangkok as Teach for Thailand was being formed and how her daughter is about to begin her first year at the University of Maryland Law School. Evelyn's theme was how much she admired people who go into school teaching and that her daughter decided that if she were going to affect change in the world, she would need a law degree.

By the way, the lasagna -- known to David and Olivia as pizza noodles -- was awesome.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 07/15/15: No Machine Worked, Snafus, Turning of the Tide

1. I decided to have pictures I took at the Aquatic Gardens and at the Wheaton Regional Park printed. I usually do this online through Costco, but the online Costco Photo Center is closed while the company investigates a security breach. So I went to the Beltsville Costco to order the pictures.  For the first time in my life, I had a failed experience at Costco -- very unusual.  Not one of the three machines I used would load my pictures off of the cd I took in. After over 45 minutes of trying, I surrendered to the facts of life that this wasn't my day and headed off to go for a walk in the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.

2. On my way to the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a Filipino-American Seventh Day Adventist church parking lot, so, seeing that this wasn't my day, I bagged going to Patuxent, and came back to our apartment home where someone talking on a smart phone was parked across three parking spaces in front of our apartment building, including our assigned spot. She never saw me waiting for her to move, never heard me lightly honk my horn, so I inched closer to her and she finally looked up. We smiled. She moved.  I parked. I laughed at the absurdity of my life. I went in, logged on to flickr, and ordered my pictures through Snapfish. Had I only done this 90 minutes ago. . . .

3. Things improved mightily when the Deke and I drove over to Molly and Hiram's to visit, enjoy some chicken dinner together, and shoot the breeze.  It was a good way to turn the tide of a day of snafus into a day of satisfaction.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/14/15: Good Walk, Picking Up the Deke, Dinner at the Diaz House

1. I enjoyed walking around half of Greenbelt Lake and on over to Roosevelt Center to pick up a refill at the pharmacy and back home again along Crescent Road. With other walking I did during the day running errands and other miscellaneous things, I logged over 10,000 steps -- it's been a while since I walked that many steps in a day.

2. The Deke arrived home at New Carrollton AmTrack station, giving me another reason to drive into previously untraveled territory.  I'd arrived in New Carrollton back in April on the train from Matuchen, N.J., but I came back to our apartment home the bus. Bit by bit, I'm figuring out more and more of all these criss-crossing, curly routes and roads that make up the transportation system of the suburban labyrinth where I live.

3. The Deke is happy to be back home and we did exactly what you'd think we'd do: we went to the Diaz household for dinner, where we found Ana to be healthy, growing, and sleeping deeply for almost the whole time we were there. Molly was relaxed, Hiram was getting ready for a parade at the Marine Barracks, and David and Olivia were both cheerfully playing and popping up from time to time with dispatches about Spiderman and other luminaries in their world of play.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/13/15: Maggie on the Mend, Corgi Godzilla Fantasies, Maggie's Kidneys Are Healthy

1. The medicine and prescription dog food are helping Maggie get better. Everything about her today was pretty much back to Maggie being herself.  I do hope she doesn't fall into a habit of wanting to be up at 4:15 every morning. I indulged her this morning, but as her condition improves, I want those two hours of sleep back in the morning.

2. Because I decided to stay home with Maggie all day, aside from a trip to the store, I cleaned carpets. The corgis regard the vacuum cleaner and the rug shampooer as villains in a fourth-rate Godzilla movie in their little corgi heads, so doing this cleaning meant keeping the corgis from full on attacking the machines by containing them behind closed doors in the bedroom and the bathroom. You'd think the corgis would just go into panic attack mode when the machines are turned on, but, no, just the sight of me moving one of the machines from one place to another, sends Maggie and Charly into a shrieking fit of scream barking.

3. I talked to the vet this afternoon. Good news. Although the sample of Maggie's pee I captured was small, it was sufficient. Yes, the analysis showed a UTI. The Deke and I had been concerned that Maggie might be suffering loss of renal function. But, no, Maggie's kidney numbers were good. This is a great relief.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/12/15: Maggie's Ill, Capturing a Sample, Relief for Maggie

1. Maggie was up at 4:15, restless, insisting every few minutes on going outside to pee, not peeing when we went out and she wanted tons of food, beyond her usual demands. I called the vet and dropped her off and waited until about 4:00 in the afternoon when the vet called with news.

2. Fortunately, the first words out of the vet's mouth were, "Hello, this is Dr. Rosero and Maggie's doing fine." Maggie has no blockage and the vet put her back on the antibiotics she was on until Sunday or Monday from her UTI two weeks ago and he prescribed some medicinal dog food. He was unable to secure a sample from Maggie in order to do a urinalysis, so it's up to me to capture a sample. Once home, Maggie began to pee again and I am hoping to succeed tomorrow morning where my attempts this evening to capture a sample failed. (Allow me to jump ahead to Wednesday morning, Aug. 13 -- I captured a sample. Huge relief.)

3. We have pain medication left over from Maggie's emergency vet visit two weeks ago and I'm giving her some, allowing Maggie to sleep and rest and stop pacing and wanting to work out her stress by eating.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/11/15: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Jazz and Justice, Sort of a Tapas Dinner

1.  I continued my exploration of NE Washington D. C. today, as well as my exploration of all the natural beauty in this area that sits in the midst of all the bewildering urban/suburban sprawl I live on the northeast edge of, by driving less than thirty minutes to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, marshy wetland alive with lotuses, lilypads, other exotic flowers and water fowl and other wild life on the easterly bank of the Anacostia River.  Here are some of the pictures I took. If you'd like to see more of the color pictures, just go here and if you'd like to see more black and white, they are here.  If you'd like to see the whole batch of over seventy pictures from the gardens, they are here.  I post all my pictures, without prejudice, over at flickr.

2. Over in SE Washington, DC, another terrible conflict continues as developers and the DC Housing Authority push to dislocate, in the name of gentrification, low-income tenants from their homes in the Barry Farm neighborhood. I listened to members of the Barry Farms Tenants and Allies Association discuss their plight on 89.3 WPFW-FM.  WPFW-FM describes itself as the Jazz and Justice station and I have learned more in just the last two weeks listening to this station, not just about the hardships people of color in D. C. endure, but, even more so, about the numerous people and organizations in D.C. neighborhoods working hard, doing positive things to improve everything from housing problems to the difficulties families with members who are incarcerated live through to the history of the ignored and often despised people living in poverty in Washington, D.C.  I've never listened to a radio station like this one -- which means never before have I heard, first hand, so many raw stories and so much untold history of so many people whose lives are so very different from my own.

Oh! And the music on this station is really good, too -- it's jazz and a lot more.

3. I've been home alone for about ten days now since the Deke traveled to Nyack to visit Adrienne and Jack. I haven't been motivated to cook, in part because of the heat and, in part, I have more fun cooking when it's for more than myself. Tonight I did one of my favorite things for dinner.  I ate one half of a ciabatta roll broken in to pieces and dipped into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I munched on cheese slices and salami and crisp sea salt crackers. I covered the other half of the ciabatta roll with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and layered feta cheese, fresh basil, and golden delicious apple slices on the open face. I enjoyed a chick pea salad I bought at the Co-op. It was a sort of tapas dinner.  It was a lot of fun.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Black and White

On Tueday, August 11th, I furthered my exploration of NE Washington, D. C. with a trip to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a park replete with exotic flowers such as lotuses, and lily pads, marine fowl and other wildlife, and marshy wetlands. It's located near the banks of the Anacostia River within a half an hour of our apartment home.

Here are some of the pictures I took in black and white:

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Color

On Tueday, August 11th, I furthered my exploration of NE Washington, D. C. with a trip to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a park replete with exotic flowers such as lotuses, and lily pads, marine fowl and other wildlife, and marshy wetlands. It's located near the banks of the Anacostia River within a half an hour of our apartment home.

Here are some of the pictures I took, in color:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/10/15: Writing About Christy's Move, More on *Mr. Holmes*, Scrounging for Dinner

1.  It took me most of the day to write the three posts for this blog I was determined to finish today. In addition to 3BTs, I completed the next Sibling Assignment.  In it, I reflect on how happy I am for my sister, Christy, for my mom, and for our entire family that Christy has moved in next door to Mom.  It's posted here.

2. The corgis insisted that I feed them shortly before 5:30 a.m. this morning, so in the afternoon, as I worked to write my last blog post of the day, I needed a nap.  When I awoke, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down, I was in much better shape to write about my understanding of virtuous deceit in Shakespeare and how it helped me reflect upon the movie Mr. Holmes. I do not disclose plot details of Mr. Holmes, so if you decide to go here and read my thoughts, I won't spoil the movie's story for you.

3. Having finished writing, it was past dinner time. I didn't feel like going to the store. I decided I'd make due with what little food I had in our apartment home. I remembered I had a half of a ciabatta roll. I had a brick of Cracker Barrel cheese. I found a tin of salmon in a cupboard. I toasted the roll, using the cast iron skillet and made an open face salmon and cheese combination with mustard. Not bad.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Virtuous Deceit in Shakespeare and *Mr. Holmes*

If you are familiar with Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, you know that the play reaches its climax in Act IV when Claudio, deceived by Don John into thinking Hero has betrayed him -- that is, cheated on him --, humiliates her at the wedding by accusing her of infidelity and refusing to marry her.

In the immediate aftermath of this chaotic scene, Friar Francis, who doesn't believe for a second that Hero was unfaithful, devises a deceitful plan. He instructs Hero's father and others to spread a lie that Hero is dead. He answers Don John's deceit that Claudio and Don Pedro fell for regarding Hero's fidelity with a deceit of his own, trusting that Claudio's true love for Hero will be reawakened when he learns she is dead. 

It's a virtuous deceit.

It's a trope Shakespeare puts into play in other of his comedies (and in some of his histories) as a means of breaking through to a character's true, and better nature, when because of jealousy or love-sickness the character cannot hear the simple truth. (I just thought of a tragedy where a wonderful virtuous deceit occurs -- Edgar, disguised at Mad Tom, leads his blinded father Gloucester to belive his survived a fall from a cliff. Oh..there must be others, as well!)

Rosalind deceives Orlando in As You Like It, by presenting herself as a man to him and from behind her disguise is able to successfully test Orlando's love for her. In The Winter's Tale, furious jealousy blinds Leontes, violently removing him from his true feelings of love for his wife Hermione.  As in the Hero story of Much Ado About Nothing, a report goes out that Hermione is dead, but she is actually in exile with Paulina. Over fifteen years pass, and at the end of the play, Leontes is presented with a statue of his deceased wife Hermione -- except it only appears to be a statue and, right before Leontes' eyes, the "statue" Hermione comes alive and Leontes' love for her is resurrected and their long separation is reconciled.

To me, the philosophical concepts that are shot throughout Shakespeare's plays are, first, the volatile, mutable nature of reality and, second, the inherent double (at least) nature of reality. In his plays, things are in a constant state of flux and this includes a concept like deceit.

Does Shakespeare explore the traditional view of deceit, that it is destructive, erosive, corrosive, and abhorrent? Definitely. He explores the destructive nature of deceit in his tragedies and history plays (as well as how Prince Hal/Henry V uses deceit to redemptive purposes). The horror of deceit dominates Macbeth and Othello. Claudius' deceit (and Gertrude's, too?How complicit is she?) gives rise to the entire story of Hamlet.

As noted, however, Shakespeare also explores how deceit can be put to virtuous use. It's as if over his career he wanted to see how far he could go with what Friar Lawrence says in his garden as he reflects upon his herbs. He muses:
Virtue itself turn vice being misapplied
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Friar Lawrence observes this doubleness not only in human actions, but in the very herbs he grows in his garden:

Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.

Friar Lawrence's actions in this play demonstrate that not all deceit performed for virtuous reasons is successful. He attempts to help Romeo and Juliet by staging Juliet's death with the help of a potion that makes it appear she is dead. Romeo finds her in the crypt before the potion wears off and his too early discovery of her leads to their double suicide.

Friar Lawrence's deceit fails. Friar Francis' deceit works. So does Paulina's. So does Rosalind's. Just for the record, so, eventually, does Puck's.

Shakespeare's exploration of virtuous deceit occupied my thoughts after I saw the movie, Mr. Holmes.

Because it's a new movie and I don't want to give away details, I'll just say that as the story came to its conclusion, the nonagenarian Holmes learns that had he not been quite so rigorously honest at a critical juncture of his life, the life of another might have been spared. I think he also learns that the fictions Dr. Watson wrote about him, the embellishments of his career, resulted in some good in the world for those who enjoyed the stories, learned from them, and, possibly, found hope in them.

What Holmes learns about fiction and deceit inspires him to a deed late in his life that is deceitful and life giving, even redemptive.

If you want to know what it is, you'll have to see the movie.

I'll just say that Mr. Holmes' edges toward death with many of his mental and physical powers eroding, but what he learns about the power of fiction, of virtuous deceit, revitalizes his last days and opens the way for him to die at peace with himself.

Sibling Assignment #166: Mom's New Next Door Neighbor

I assigned Sibling Assignment #166:

I think we'd all agree that July, 2015 was a most eventful month for all three of us. 
Choose one day out of this memorable month and focus on it and what happened.  Write about why it stands out to you as especially noteworthy.
You can see and read Carol's photo-essay of her 29th wedding anniversary, here. Christy wrote about the toughest day of July and how love prevailed, here.

I decided late in the spring to travel to Kellogg for most of the month of July.

I wanted to see Mom and be of any help I could has she continues to recover from her fall and broken arm she suffered back in March. I also wanted to pitch in and help Christy and Everett move from Martin Creek to Kellogg where they have moved into the house next door to Mom.  Along with Christy, I also got to help keep up Carol and Paul's yard and look after their Poms while they and Cosette traveled to San Francisco.

And, as always, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my lifelong friends in North Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Fortune smiled on me in July. On the 28th, I left Kellogg knowing I had enjoyed several good times and a great party with with lifelong friends. I ate three great breakfasts out in CdA! I got to help members of the KHS Class of '73 celebrate turning 60. My sisters and I had a fun day in CdA and Spokane on July 28th. Stu joined us at the end of that day. I flew back to Baltimore knowing I had been of help to both of my sisters and my mom.

Then, to top it all off, back at Ft. Belvoir Community in Northern Virginia, Molly gave birth to Ana Maria on July 28th and I got to see her a day later at her new home in Silver Spring when I arrived back home from Kellogg.

If this had been any other month, I would write about the birth of Ana Maria as the most noteworthy day.

This wasn't any other month, though, because on Monday, July 6th, a huge change occurred that I'm sure will have transformative effects on my family in Kellogg beyond what we can imagine.

On July 6th, Carol, Molly R., and I drove to Martin Creek to help load Christy and Everett's U-Haul truck and to help them move their belongings to their new house next door to Mom in Kellogg.

When we arrived, Paul and Everett and Christy were well underway getting the truck loaded.  Paul took charge of arranging the goods in the truck and the rest of us brought boxes and furniture and other possessions out of the house and garage in the mid-90s heat.

Once back in Kellogg, we feasted on the food Christy brought home to Mom's from Panda Express and several of us enjoyed a cool nightcap of gin and tonics in camping chairs in Christy and Everett's living room.

None of what happened that day was especially noteworthy, but the possibilities this move holds for goodness in our family is beyond noteworthy.

It's profound.

First of all, Christy is moving back to our hometown where lifelong friends live and where she and Everett no longer have to endure the demands of day to day life in the country. Not only will their gardening and property upkeep demands lessen in Kellogg, but now, if they need to go to the store or buy some hardware or go to the bank , they can go down the street, not make excursions into Kettle Falls or Colville.

Moreover, Christy is newly retired. Her daily commute into Inchelium is done. So are the day to day demands teaching put on her spirit, mind, and body.  She had a wonderful career, but it had run its course and Kellogg will be a restful place to live.  It's quiet. The pace is slow. She and Everett are buying a solid house.

Most of all, though, this move means that Mom will not only have Carol and Paul close by to help her out and keep her company , but Christy will be next door.

During Mom's dark days after her March fall, nearly all of the responsibility for giving Mom help and company throughout the day and night, of finding out what help was available to her, of taking Mom to appointments and to the hospital, and so on, fell on Carol and her family.

Not once have I heard Carol complain.

Now, Mom has both of my sisters in Kellogg to help her with her shopping, yard work, the cleaning she can't do, and with helping her fix meals when she's not up to it and other things. Mom is determined to do these things herself, but she's suffering from physical ailments that often make it impossible for to do such things and her once nearly inexhaustible stamina has greatly decreased.

Many people in Mom's situation become lonely and isolated.  Carol and Paul and their daughters, as well as Mom's next door neighbor, Jane, and other of Mom's friends, visit her often and offer to help out with errands and projects Mom needs done. With Christy and Everett moving in next door, Mom's circle of people she can rely on has now grown significantly -- in numbers, yes, but also in meaningfulness and trust.

Mom is working hard to stay as independent as she can, but she can't be wholly independent -- nor should she be -- and with Christy, Everett, Carol, and Paul nearby, she has more family members to not only help her stay in her house and feel less overwhelmed by what she needs to do and what she wants to have done, but she has more people to have fun with, to eat meals with, enjoy get togethers with, and go on outings with.  Just in the two weeks, Mom has had dinner at the Snake Pit, been to Molly R's birthday party, been on a tour of a Wallace residence's raised bed gardens, and enjoyed a visit from Lura and Lyle. Christy worked with Lura to arrange that visit and Christy and Carol both hosted backyard dinners. Mom was free of such responsibilities and, I'll wager, much more relaxed as a result.

 If you'd asked me just four or five years ago how I thought our family's future was going to work out, I would have said that the Deke and I would move to Kellogg and Christy and Everett would stay at Martin Creek and we'd all be closer together in that way.

But, I greatly underestimated the power of having grandchildren come into our lives and, so, I am far away from Kellogg and it's Christy who came back home.

I'll come back to Kellogg to see everyone and help out as I am able. I'm caught between wanting to see my Kellogg family and friends and to be as much help as I can, on the one hand, and, on the other, to enjoy life with the Deke and the rest of our family here in the east, and, to help keep our household running during the school year when the demands on the Deke's everyday life increase significantly.

I'm just fortunate that I can come out to Kellogg about twice a year and have the good life I have here in Maryland with my family here.

That day, July 6th, when Christy and Everett moved into the house next door to Mom has increased my faith that that Christy's life will be even happier and that Mom's morale will continue to be strong. To me, being in good spirits and knowing she has people for good company and to turn to for help is the key to Mom's well-being and I trust that having both Christy and Carol in Kellogg will be a profound help as Mom enjoys her life in her mid-80s and beyond.

Three Beautiful Things 08/09/15: O Taste and See, Laundry Calls, Cider and Salad

1. I worshiped this morning at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The Psalm appointed for today was Psalm 34 and during the Psalm I was transported back one day to Saturday, my visit to the Atlas Brew Works, and the flight of beers I enjoyed when, with other congregants, we read aloud verse 8:  "O taste and see that the Lord is good."

In addition, Denise Levertov's poem, "O Taste and See" sprang to mind:

The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination's tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being

hungry and plucking
the fruit.

2.  I'd planned on taking another jaunt into NE D. C. this afternoon to visit the DC Brau brewery, but I could not in good conscience let my laundry pile up another day.  So I got it done and thought of Richard Wilbur's lines in the poem "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World":

"Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven."

3. I did not think of any poems when I drove to the Co-op and picked up some broccoli and tomatoes to add to my pasta salad dressed with both balsamic and rice vinegar as well as olive oil.  The salad is tasty and paired well with a bottle of Woodchuck Summer Time hard cider, a crisp apple cider topped with a tart touch of blueberry juice.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/08/15: A Deeper DC, Samplers @ Atlas Brew Works, Pink Floyd Flight

1.  K. H. and I talked last December at Billy Mac's about the fact that she had grown up in Washington, D.C. In the late summer and fall, I had been making trips to the West End Cinema in Foggy Bottom, and K. told me how her Irish-Catholic ancestors had settled in that, and I quote her, "mosquito infested swamp land." This morning K commented on my Friday foray into NE Washington DC by telling me -- or reminding me -- that she had grown up in NE DC, first with her grandparents and then at St. Vincent's orphanage. On Friday, I'd just been near these landmarks in K's young life, I went searching online to locate exactly where K had lived and gone to school and found pictures of the exterior of the orphanage she lived in. If KH told me in December that she lived in NE DC, it didn't stick in my memory, but now that I have just begun to explore and read about this quadrant of Washington, DC, KH's story is all the more immediate and tangible to me.

2. The tasting room at Atlas Brew Works on West Virginia Ave, NE in DC in only open on Friday from 5-8 and on Saturday and Sunday from 1-8. Today, I visited it for the first time. The brewery reminded me of when I went to the original Oakshire tasting room in the Trainsong neighborhood of Eugene. Atlas Brew Works operates out of a warehouse in the Ivy City neighborhood and on its tasting days, it puts up a company sign, invites a food truck to camp in front near the two cornhole boards, opens two huge warehouse doors, and welcomes beer lovers into the warehouse to taste their beer at an L-shaped bar or seated on picnic tables. The bar and tables sit adjacent to the brewery's production area. Classic tunes from the 70s echo off the concrete floor and walls. Jolly beer tasters surrounded the bar; the picnic tables were full.

I joined in the happy vibe of Atlas Brew Works, bellying up to the bar and ordering a flight, which allowed me to sample all but one of their currently available beers -- you can learn more about the beers, here.  Because it's low in supply, at first the barkeep didn't give me a sample of NSFW Imperial Black IPA, but after we had a little conversation -- and maybe after she saw how much I enjoyed the other beers -- she brought me a sample of NSFW.

I finished my flight, paid for another sample of NSFW, bought a six pack of Atlas' District Commons Lager, a beer I want Molly to taste to see if it rivals Hop Valley's 541 Lager as awesome in her book, and returned to Greenbelt.

Only one thing could have made this visit to Atlas Brew Works better: a companion -- say, the Deke or the Troxstar or Julie or Brian-Danielle-Allison or my Billy Mac's friends or the Thursday afternoon guys I threw back pints with at 16 Tons.

Tasting beer solo fills me with satisfaction, but tasting beer with mates fills me with joy.

3. I was into about my fourth little sampler when suddenly time stopped and, spiritually, I temporarily vacated the Atlas Brew Works when Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" came over the sound system. Richard Wright's keyboard prelude transformed the brewery warehouse into a church and David Gilmore's muted and mournful opening guitar cries pulled longings from deep within me -- I longed to be with old friends (Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" sprung to mind) or to be back at the McDonald Theater or at the Cuthbert  listening to another Floydian Slips show or to be touring beer joints in CdA with Byrdman -- I longed for the days in the Center building at LCC listening to Coleman Barks talk about longing and the poetry of Rumi. Multiple other longs followed.  Soon enough, though, I returned to the concrete present of the Atlas Brew Works warehouse and entered again into the immediate pleasures happening at that moment in NE DC. I felt gratitude that now this is my life, a life I would never have even dared to imagine just a short time ago.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/07/15: Exploring NE DC, Lunch at Union Market, PoPville and WPFW-FM and Gentrification

1.  I set out today to become more familiar with the names of neighborhoods and the locations of places, businesses, and breweries in the sections of NE Washington D. C. that sit about 20-30 minutes from our apartment home. I studied and tried out driving routes: Rt. 410 (the East-West Highway), Rt. 1 (Baltimore Ave becoming Rhode Island Ave NE), West Virginia NE, Florida NE, Mt. Olivet Rd. NE, and Bladensburg Rd. I know how to get to the Good Foods Market in Woodridge, DC Brau (is it in a named neighborhood?), Atlas Brew Works in Ivy City, and Union Market in the Union Market District.  This wasn't all brand new to me -- the National Arboretum is in NE DC and I took a less ambitious drive to locate DC Brau back in April.

2. I parked in the spacious parking area in front of the Union Market.  Union Market is a gentrified version of an historic market place in this location. Union Market is all indoors and features a number of eateries, all of them locally owned and artisan. One restaurant grows food on the Union Market roof. Among the offerings in the market, I discovered Mediterranean food, an oyster bar, barbecue, fancy sandwiches, a fish and chips joint, a Laotian noodle bar, and, the place I landed on, a Korean taco counter. I loved the galaxy of pickled and spicy flavors in the half rice, half slaw pork bowl I ordered. The Market also features local bakeries, an upscale coffee/espresso bar, meat shops, a vinegar/oil boutique, and an Airstream  out front, called Suburbia, that serves specialty cocktails and beers. The Union Market overwhelmed me -- so much to see and smell packed into a refurbished warehouse -- and, I'll return.  I'd especially enjoy going early on a Saturday morning for coffee and an item from one of the bakeries. And, when I'm less overwhelmed, I'd like to take some pictures.

3. Once back home, I went online to read up more on where I'd been in the afternoon and discovered a blog (and its companion Twitter feed) called PoPville, DC's Neighborhood Blog. I rummaged through posts, joined the site's Flickr group, and learned much more about some of  DC's different neighborhoods, not only about places to eat and drink, but about real estate developments and challenges, as well as updates with the difficult week the Metro system has had.

Speaking of DC's housing challenges, during my drive to NE Washington, DC, I listened to the program Latino Media Collective on WPFW-FM and the show focused on gentrification in DC's so-called Chinatown and its detrimental, often devastating, impact on lower income residents, especially after the construction of the Verizon Center, completed in 1997, and all the higher end housing and retail outlets and restaurants that followed. The program focused on two tenants of the Museum Square Apartments in Chinatown who are fighting with other tentants to keep their residents as a development company works to evict them and take over the building.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/06/15: Drug Talk, Old Greenbelt Theater, *Mr. Holmes* and the Power of Fiction

1.  I take a medication that was, in the beginning, overseen by Dr. Whitely in Eugene, but, after a few years, my primary care physician took it over.  My physician in Laurel, Dr. Cullen, preferred not to be in charge of it, so I met today with Nurse Practioner, Carolyn Clark, and, after about 40 minutes of discussion, we decided to cut my dosage in half. Depending on the results of this change, we might decide in three months to eliminate the medication altogether. We'll see.  It was a very good appointment. 

2. When we moved to Greenbelt, I soon learned that the town movie theater, built in 1938, was being remodeled and restored. The theater reopened a few months ago. Tonight, I saw a movie at the Old Greenbelt Theater for the first time. The remodel astonished me. The concessions area is bright and airy. The theater itself is spacious and the screen is mammoth and curved at the two ends.  I don't know much about the effect of the curving, but seeing tonight's movie on such a huge screen absorbed me into the world of post-World War II England and Japan, the art of keeping bees, and the realities of a man moving more deeply into old age, desperately working to hang on to his mental sharpness and his ability to remember while suffering the deterioration of his mind.

3. The movie I saw? Mr. Holmes. This slow, deliberately plotted and superbly acted movie moved me. It will stay with me. Ian McKellen's brilliant portrayal of Sherlock Holmes nearing the end of his life explores the deterioration of Holmes' mind and memory and the painful limitations of his body as Holmes tries to remember back to over thirty years ago and piece together the last case he worked on and why this case caused him to never work as a detective again. Holmes writes the story of the case as fragments of its details come back to him. I left the movie thinking about how the movie explored the power of fiction. After all, Holmes himself is a fictional character, here presented outside the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as if he lived beyond Doyle's stories into old age.  In the movie, Sherlock Holmes works to get the facts straight about his last case, to correct the way his chronicler, John Watson, embellished the story, fictionalized it. In working to get at the facts, Holmes, unexpectedly, comes to learn, in a painful and moving way, the redemptive power of fiction.  Made up stories, he learns, can not only nurture the soul, but can be life saving in ways that can be contrary to sticking to logic and the facts. 

How to say this? The movie is a fiction about a fictional character whose detective career has been embellished and fictionalized in stories told by his good friend and as this fictional detective embarks on a project to remember the facts, to cut through the fictional embellishments, to set the record straight, and set down the story right, he has a liberating epiphany about a power in fiction he'd been blind to all his life.  

In addition to what I've already written here, much of the movie was grounded in the struggle throughout the movie between Holmes and his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, played powerfully by Laura Linney -- and, central to the movie, is Holmes' friendship with Mrs. Munro's son, Roger.  

It all fits together. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/05/15: Up and At 'Em, Ice Tea Lemonade, Wheaton Regional Park

1.  The corgis roused me out of bed around six o'clock, hungry, and I fed them and immediately took the rice I had prepared the night before and mixed in cucumbers, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, almonds, basil, olive oil, and lemon so that I would have a rice salad to enjoy whenever I wanted a meal or a snack during the day.

2. Not long after Ana was born, I took a gallon of ice tea lemonade to the Diaz home and Molly liked it.  The Co-op put that very product on sale this week for a couple of bucks a gallon, so I bought a couple gallons for Molly and delivered it today -- and spent some time shooting the breeze with Molly and Hiram.

3. I was on my way to the Wheaton Regional Park, within which sits the Brookside Gardens. I'd read about this area, but hadn't visited until today and I can add this huge acreage of trails, a lake, various gardens, fountains, wildlife, gazebos and other structures, conservatory, and gorgeous gardens to my growing list of nature reserves thriving in the midst of the D. C. suburbanopolis.  I took my camera and discovered I hadn't taken any pictures since late in June -- a trend I must reverse -- and here are some of the pictures I snapped during my over two mile walk.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/04/15: Angela Remembers, The Deke's in Nyack, More Carpet Cleaning

1.  I've lived in Greenbelt for nearly a year and much of that time has been defined by coming and going. I've spent four of the months since I moved here in Kellogg. On about three occasions, the Deke and I have driven up to Nyack to see Adrienne and we've spent time at Sally and Ted's in Matuchen, New Jersey. At the beginning of the summer, we drove to Indiana and Michigan to see family.  It's all been good.  A result of this travel to see family -- and of family coming to see us, I should add -- is that, after nearly a year, I don't know anyone in Greenbelt.

Because I'm on the kidney transplant list, I have to have a vial of blood drawn every thirty days. I go to a place about five minutes away, LabCorp. Today, I went in, but I forgot my wallet.  The staffer at the front desk asked me for my identification, I told her I didn't have it.

My favorite phlebotomist, Angela, was at the desk and said, "Isn't that Mr. Woodlum (I get used to people getting my name wrong)? I know him.  He's fine."

Angela and I aren't friends or anything, but, I have to admit, I liked being remembered in this D.C. suburb, where, almost all of the time, I am a stranger.

2. The Deke gathered her things and Adrienne arrived outside our apartment building and they drove off to Nyack so they can have several days together. I was happy when the Deke texted me several hours later to let me know they had arrived at Adrienne's.

3. I continued the project I started yesterday:vacuuming and shampooing the carpet of our apartment home. Now, not only is our dining area fresher, but so is the living room and the short hall outside the bedrooms. Next up will be the bedrooms, but the water in our apartment complex will she shut off on Wednesday, August, 5th, so I'll probably delay the end of this project until Thursday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/03/15: Apartment Home Cleaning, Tex-Mex Dinner, Lego Time

1. Having dogs and having carpet means every once in a while it's necessary to get out the big old carpet cleaning machine and go at it. It'll be a two (maybe three) day job here in our apartment home and I got off to a fine start today and, already, it's fresher in our little place.

2. Molly and Hiram's longtime friend, Lauren, fixed our family a straight up terrific Tex-Mex casserole and, once again, with Adrienne and Jack in town, we had another family dinner and all marveled at Ana as she slept through one moment of tension after another as Jack and Olivia resisted the idea that Tex-Mex food was worthy of their consumption. The adults prevailed and soon all was forgotten as David, Olivia, and Jack tore into cupcakes, a dessert in celebration of Molly and Hiram's sixth wedding anniversary.

3. Earlier in the day, the Deke had been to Target and bought each of our grandchildren a Lego kit -- Batman, Spiderman, Friends -- and she sat with them and the instruction manuals at the dining table and helped them get well into the building of new toys. It's a calming activity with immediate and tangible rewards.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/02/15: Back to St. Andrews, Family Dinner, Solo Sleepover

1. After weeks away, I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the congregation of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church this morning, back into the structure and rhythms of worship in the Episcopal Church. Nothing special happened in the service:  as it should be. It was regular, built around readings having to do with manna and the bread of life, and gave me a sense of order in my life that, spiritually speaking, had been missing.

2. The Deke and I returned to the Diaz's home.  Adrienne and Jack are visiting for a few days, so the out east contingent of our family got to see each other and enjoy together a delicious dinner of chili (thanks to Leah), rice, and cabbage salad. I also had some time helping Ana do what Ana does best these days -- sleep:

3.  David decided that, yes, he'd like to come over to our apartment home for a sleepover all by himself, leaving his sister, Olivia, and cousin, Jack back at the Diaz house. David is a self-reliant three year old. The minute he arrived at our home, he dove right into different Lego toys and entertained himself for quite a while with a Where's Waldo? book. We wrapped up the evening with a bowl of popcorn and the Deke read David a story and he went right to sleep. It was a good day in the world of Nana and Grandpa and their grandchildren.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/01/15: Honey Nut Cheerio Time, David Loves the Flashlight, Do Nothing Day

1. As I was sitting here in our apartment home, writing away, David and Olivia suddenly emerged, hungry for a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and thirsty for some apple juice. I marvel at how easy they are to please.

2. All morning long, all David really needed to be content was to keep his story going about how dark it can be in the back bedroom if the light is off and the blinds and door are closed and so he needs to have a flashlight back there. Luckily, I keep a flashlight out in plain sight in the living room. David is endlessly entertained by turning it off and on and making sure I know exactly how he can put it to good use.

3. Once the Deke left for the Diaz house with Olivia and David, I needed a day of doing nothing and I succeeded. I am very happy to be living in Maryland and being so close to Molly and Adrienne and their children. I enjoy Greenbelt and knowing that Washington, D. C.and other fine places are a short train ride away. At the same time, living so far from family in Kellogg and the difficulty of leaving family in Maryland and New York behind when I head west and the difficulty of leaving friends and family behind when I return east, fatigues me -- and today I needed to sit around and do nothing more ambitious than get a couple of loads of laundry done and mess around on the World Wide Web.