Friday, April 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/28/16: Tire Repaired, Sharp Dressed Man, Hard Copies

1.  After I dropped the Deke off at school, I blasted over to the Sunoco station/Greenbelt Automotive and not only did the Sube's front left tire get looked at almost immediately, it turned out that it was slowly leaking air because of a nail had taken residence in the tire. While I had a bagel and coffee at the Co-op and got a prescription refilled at the Co-op pharmacy, the tire got repaired and I was back home within an hour.

2. I never buy clothes and it shows. I've decided, at least for a while, that I should make one clothing purchase a month so I have a few more shirts and some pants beyond a pair of church slacks and three pairs of jeans. This afternoon, I darted up to Costco and bought a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of pants. I think I will wear my new ensemble at Phyllis's 90th birthday party on Saturday in Lansing, MI -- or, maybe I'll wear my new clothes on the flight to Detroit.  Look at how many new possibilities suddenly opened up.  It's dizzying.

3. Every time I fly somewhere and can check in at home and print out a boarding pass, I am unusually giddy when the electronic process is successful. I haven't reached that magic moment I'm sure many others have where I can take these things for granted. I also like having hard copies of stuff in my keeping when I travel. The hard copies reassure me and help me relax. That's just how I roll -- and fly.   So, I got out a manila folder and now it holds our car rental confirmation, our flight confirmation, our boarding passes, our receipt for our checked baggage (I enjoy boarding a plane without my suitcase -- I'm part of a dying breed), and our auto insurance information. If I had made the Hampton Inn reservations, I'd have a hard copy of that confirmation, too. Oh! Wait.  I think I have an email that was forwarded to me with the confirmation number on it!  I'm headed to the printer right now!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/27/16: Air Machine, Party with Brian, "Secret" Restrooms

1.  I discovered that the Shell station across from the Beltway Plaza on Greenbelt Road has a machine I'd never seen before. It's an air machine with a setting that makes it possible to put a specific amount of air in a tire to reach a specific pressure. The Sube has a tire with a slow leak -- getting it checked on Thursday -- and I was happy to be able to put just the right amount of air in the tire.

2. Molly, the Deke and I piled into the Sube and buzzed down to Union Station where we parked and we made our way to the bar at the Washington Court Hotel and met up with the Deke's brother Brian and his business associate, Josh.  We fell right into easy conversation and then made our way to Johnny's Half Shell where we ate seafood and capped off the night at Kelly's Irish Times.  It was a superb party, with lots of good stories, pictures, updates, and laughs.

3. My occasional drives into downtown DC and knowing my way to the parking garage really paid off this evening as we got downtown fairly quickly, parked easily, navigated Union Station efficiently, making the whole evening very relaxing. When we got back to Union Station after our time with Brian, I impressed Molly and the Deke with my knowledge of the what seemed like secret upstairs restrooms at Shake Shack -- a lifesaver.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/26/16: Voting, 28mm, The Ache of Neil Jordan

1.  When was the last time I strode into a physical polling location and cast a vote? Having lived in Oregon for so many years after Oregon instituted voting by mail, I really don't remember. Today, however, I did dash up to Greenbelt Elementary School and pick up a ballot and ink in the circles; then, instead of dropping my ballot in a box, I placed it in a scanner and my vote was electronically tallied.

2. Earlier in the day, I exercised some photography muscles that were going to atrophy if I continued to neglect them. Over the last few months, I've been taking pictures exclusively with my Sigma 18-200, f/3.5-6.3 lens, with automatic focus and built in light meter.  It's the perfect lens, really, for the kind of pictures I've been taking at the aquatic gardens or on the National Mall and other such places because I can easily alternate between wide angle shots and zooming in on subjects.  Well, today, I took my 28mm, f/2,5 manual lens for a stroll around Greenbelt Lake and I suddenly realized that I didn't know much about what the strengths of a wide angle lens are.  I returned home, looked at my pictures -- they are okay -- and I found this article. It's a beginner's guide to the 28mm lens and now I want to get it back out and see if I can more consciously take advantage of what the 28 mm lens is best for.

3. I've been watching movies I first saw 20-40 years ago. Titles pop in my head and I see if they are available at the library and it's been fun to experience again, now that I'm in my sixties, movies I watched when I was in my twenties and thirties and early forties. I've been especially keen on watching movies that are, to me, stories about loneliness, or, put another way, about longing, the longing for companionship, closeness, and, sometimes, intimate love. Today, I two watched movies written and directed by Neil Jordan:  Mona Lisa and The Crying Game.  Both movies made me ache. In both, loneliness and longing had multiple effects on characters, ranging from the development of deep loyalties to outbursts of physical violence to tenderness to acts of courage in the face of mortal danger.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/25/16: Splish Splash, Big Rice Salad, Dogfish Head 120 Minutes

1. After a two week absence, this morning I was back to the senior water aerobic class I take, flopping around, splashing, getting some good exercise, not even wanting to wipe the smile off my face.

2. I decided to go all out and cram the rice salad I made today with more flavors and textures than I ever have before.  I combined brown rice and couscous. I used fresh cilantro, basil, and mint. I added sweet orange pepper to the usual ingredients: tomatoes, feta cheese, almonds,garbanzo beans, cucumbers, lemon juice, and olive oil.  It is a dense, flavorful salad and will be even better as it sits overnight.

3. The Deke and I continued the ongoing project of figuring out our lives at Old Line Bistro. We each enjoyed a flight of beers. On the way out, we bought two 12 oz. bottles of Dogfish Head's 120 Minute Imperial IPA. It is about 18% ABV and so we split one of the bottles after we chilled it back at our apartment home. It is the booziest, most aggressively hopped, and most unusual beer I've ever tasted. Six ounces of it was about right. It was so different tasting and smelling that it left me speechless, unsure of what I thought.  Ha! It'll be fun to split the other bottle one of these days. I'll try to decide if I think it's really nasty, kind of sublime, or somewhere in between.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/16: Mother Carol is Retiring, More Turtles and Geese, DC Brau Blowout

1. I enjoy worshiping at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and I know that the rector, Rev. Dr. Carol Jablonski contributes mightily to why I have such a good experience there. This morning, I found out that Mother Jablonski has decided to retire and will not only be leaving the parish in early June, but she and her husband, a deacon at St. John's, will be moving to North Carolina. She wrote an eloquent letter to the parish about her decision, the family matters that led to her decision, and her confidence that St. Andrew's will carry on well in her absence. Her letter and her decision deepened my respect for her. I never met Mother Jablonski. I only worshiped in her congregation, but I'll miss her as a celebrant and a preacher, for her leadership, and for her liturgical dignity and imagination.

2. I returned this afternoon to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. I figured (correctly) that on this clear, warm day I'd find happy turtles basking and geese both placidly gliding on some ponds and protecting their nests of eggs. Thanks to the warming weather, the lilies, lily pads, irises, and other flora are waking up and the difference in plant life from just two days ago was, in a few ponds, dramatic.  I took more pictures and if you'd like to see them, just scroll down.

3. DC Brau is not far from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and I had a little time on my hands, so, aware that last weekend was DC Brau's 5th anniversary party and, more important, aware that DC Brau had collaborated with five different brewers to create five different beers for the occasion, and, most important, knowing that those beers were still on tap, I headed to DC Brau's tasting room. I savored a pint of Ripa the Dipa, a rye double IPA, brewed in collaboration with Indiana's Sun King Brewery of Indianapolis. I wanted a six pack of this superb beer, but I learned awesome news when I inquired about it.  The brewery is selling a  Fifth Anniversary Collaboration Series six pack. It features each of the five collaborative beers along with the divine DC Brau Double IPA, On the Wings of Armageddon. I took the six pack to the Diazes where Molly, the Deke, and I had a spectacular beer tasting party.  I loved them all.  

Here are the five collaboration beers:

  • Celestial Garden, an India Pale Lager, brewed with Austin Beerworks
  • Pink Pallet Jack, a saison with hibiscus and rose hips, brewed with Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis
  • Ripa the Dipa, a rye double IPA with Sun King Brewery of Indianapolis
  • The Wise and the Lovely, an imperial mild stout with Cigar City Brewing of Tampa Bay and Harper Macaw Chocolate Makers, located next door to DC Brau on Bladensburg Rd., DC NE
  • Zehn von Zehn, a dunkel, brewed with Port City Brewing of Alexandria, VA
If you'd like to read a comprehensive article about these breweries and these collaboration, click right here. And if you'd like to see the design for the can of each beer, just scroll past the Aquatic Gardens pictures and you'll find them.

Still here?  Well, here are some pictures from my stroll through the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on Sunday:

And here are the Collaborative Series beer can designs:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/16: Light from the Past, Soup on the Spot, Grandpa Popcorn Again

1.  I haven't had pictures I've taken printed for a while and I suddenly remembered that in my Flickr account I have an album of hundreds of pictures I set aside to possibly print one day. I sorted through those pictures today, and some others from the past, and picked out about a hundred or so of them to print some time soon. It was fun to remember back to taking pictures at our Eugene house. The natural light that streamed inside that house was sublime, especially some mornings and some late afternoons and I enjoyed looking at some of the still life pictures I took there.  Likewise, I enjoyed still life pictures I took inside Christy and Everett's house at Martin Creek. I remember snapping some pictures when I was the first one up and around some mornings and the light was just perfect. It'll be fun to see how the prints look.  I'll post examples of light from the past at the bottom of this post.

2. The masala curry with coconut milk over green beans, potatoes, and chicken I made the other night got thick in the leftover container, so I thinned it with some leftover chicken stock turned it into a splendid soup.

3. Molly brought David and Olivia to our apartment home for to sleep overnight and I got to become Grandpa Popcorn we all shared in a big bowl of buttery, salty Orville Ridenbacher popped on the stovetop in a stock pot with oil.

Here are a couple of pictures from the house we lived in Eugene, followed by a couple of still life pictures I took at Martin Creek:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/16: Turtles and Geese, Leafy Rockville Visit, Balkan Food and RyePA at 7 Locks

1.  I'm probably repeating myself (again), but back in Eugene, I loved walking around the Delta Ponds taking pictures. I must just be enamored with wetlands. When we lived in Groveton, VA, I loved the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park. And, now, living in Greenbelt, I can drive about twenty minutes south to NE Washington, DC and visit another wetland area, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. I motored down there today. At this time of year, the spectacular lotus and lilies and other late spring and summer blooms are dormant, but it's fun to look at emerging plant life, to admire the geese, and to find turtles on snags in ponds sunbathing. I took some pictures today.  If you'd like to look at them, scroll down to the end of this post.

2. The Deke and I glided in the Sube over to Rockville, MD this afternoon. The Deke wanted to visit a colleague she met at a conference a couple of weeks ago and see her school. I waited in the parking lot and further absorbed myself in the book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The school is in a leafy, comfortable Rockville neighborhood and coming onto the school grounds and witnessing the long lineup of parents and grandparents picking up students in cars much nicer and newer than our 2004 Sube reminded me of the Deke's days teaching in the Fox Hollow neighborhood of Eugene at Charlemagne.

3. After the Deke's visit, we streaked straight to 7 Locks Brewing and dove straight into one of our favorite of all beers, 7 Locks' Surrender Dorothy Rye IPA. I wonder if other beer drinkers who enjoy Extra Special Bitter ales would agree with me that there is something ESB-y about Surrender Dorothy. I guess all that matters, ultimately, is that for me, there is, although Surrender Dorothy is more bitter than ESBs tend to be. The tasting room was quiet and relaxing -- we were there shortly after 4 -- and the Deke and I elevated the pleasure of our party at 7 Locks when the Balkanik Taste food truck opened for business at 5. Wow! We started by sharing a Balkan platter of grilled chicken, a pork patty, potato salad, Shopska salad (tomato, cucumber, feta with olive oil and vinegar) and Tzatziki sauce on the side. We loved it.  Then we decided to split a lamb burger, served with cabbage slaw in the sandwich. We loved it. We didn't want to leave the Rye IPA or quit eating the food, but we owned up to our human limits and brought our party to a rousing end by dropping in on the Diazes on our way back to Greenbelt.

Here are some pictures from my visit today to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/16: The Machine Works!, Drinking Like a Buddhist, Mulligatawny Soup Stirs Memories

1.  In our apartment building we have two washers and two dryers and to operate them we put a money card in a slot. The machine we use to add value to our laundry card is over at the leasing office building. I had one more load of laundry to do, but the value adding machine at the leasing office building was busted. Yesterday, I lumbered over to the leasing office building twice, but the sign telling us that repairs were forthcoming was on the machine.  Today, however, I experienced a small victory. The machine had been repaired. I added value to our card. I took care of our last load of laundry for a while.

2. Stone Brewing is marking its 20th anniversary with an Encore Series by bringing back some of its anniversary beers from the past. Late this afternoon, the Deke and I split a bomber of one of our favorites.  It's the 12th anniversary Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and it's yet another specialty beer we wish wouldn't go away -- but the Deke and I know we live in a world where everything is temporary and Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout will be with us for just a short while, inspiring us to savor the bottle we had tonight and to enjoy each and every glass, bottle, or can of beer we drink in the knowledge that it, too, may (or will) one day pass.

3.  You probably already know that mulligatawny soup is an English soup derived from an Indian sauce recipe, but back in the late 1980s I didn't know that. It wasn't until one afternoon when I walked into the Bagel Bakery (when it was located on 8th Street where Pacific Winds is now) and I saw Mulligatawny Soup listed as the soup of the day. Linda, the British co-proprietor of the Bagel Bakery, was working the counter and I asked about mulligatawny soup and she explained what it was and I figured if it tasted any where near as delicious as it smelled, I was in for a deep pleasure. I loved it and when I finished the soup I immediately thought that I had to make some of that (and I did) and this afternoon this memory and the deep pleasure of mulligatawny soup returned to me as I assembled onions, ginger, garlic, carrots, Granny Smith apples, diced tomatoes, lentils, and chicken stock and seasoned it all with curry powder, cumin, tumeric, garam masala, red pepper flakes, and thyme and poured in a can of coconut milk after it was all cooked. In the bowl, I added cilantro and lime juice -- I could have added a dollop of yogurt -- and, oh my, what a great soup and how fun it was to remember how much I loved Bagel Bakery all those years.  My gratitude for Linda and her kindness and her mulligatawny soup returned. It was a perfect meal -- stimulating flavors, complex aroma, and sweet memories. Want the recipe?  It's right here.  I'm sorry I can't link you to my many happy memories of Bagel Bakery, though.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/16: Never Stops Being Special, Spinach Yogurt Soup, Loneliness Studies

1. I was remembering today the giddiness I used to feel when I was a kid when Mom and Dad would take our family to the Sunshine Inn for dinner -- and, I remember one Su nday morning when I had a paper route, going for French toast breakfast with either Mom or Dad. This morning I realized that I still feel some of that giddiness when I go out to eat. It's funny. All I did this morning was cruise up to Panera in Beltsville for a wild blueberry scone and a cup of dark roast coffee to enjoy while I continue to read Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and that old feeling of enjoying something special, of being treated, came back.  I guess I've never quite reached the point where I take going out for a bite to eat, even if it's just a scone, for granted.

2. I sometimes forget I have cookbooks.  Back in December, Sister Christy gave me a very handsome cookbook, The Heart of the Plate. It's a Mollie Katzen cookbook and part of what I enjoy about having it is that starting about 30 years ago, I cooked out of Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook and her Enchanted Broccoli Forest all the time. So, today, I made a spinach rice soup with yogurt.  I was simple, quick, and very delicious.  All I had to do was chop up an onion, throw the pieces in hot oil, add cumin and tumeric, add garlic after the onions got soft, let that cook a short while, add spinach leaves, let it cook, and then add vegetable broth and let it all cook at a very low heat for ten minutes. In the meantime, I cooked up some rice and added it to the soup along with a cup of plain yogurt and the soup was ready.  The Deke and I enjoyed it a lot and I will make it again.

3. Today I read reports about studies connecting loneliness or social isolation with heart disease and stroke. Coincidentally, loneliness has been on my mind a lot lately. I've been troubled by how lonely I was, off and on, at certain periods of my life. I don't know if this loneliness affected my physical health, but I've been thinking a lot about how it distorted my judgment. I did stupid things and, looking back, I can see how much I was trying to cover up how lonely I was. I suppose this connection between poor judgment and loneliness is a common psychological insight, but I've only recently begun to see it as I get older and as things I did in the past flash forward to me, usually uninvited.  By the way, I made some very good decisions back then, too, and am proud of many things I accomplished -- but those good things don't seem, as Joan Didion put it, to "come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night, and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, and who is going to make amends"  (qtd from "On Keeping a Notebook").

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/16: David Simon Continued, Clean Bedding, Hiram's Baltimore Gig

1. For no good reason, I rarely stay home all day and read a book. I always feel compelled to go out and do something -- shop for groceries, go on a photo stroll, run errands, something, you know, to feel useful. Well, today, I stayed home and continued to read David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and I kept thinking about the month I spent serving on Lane County's Grand Jury where I heard testimony day after day from police officers and detectives and where I saw the members of the District Attorney's office wading through their overwhelming workload. The book has also had me thinking about the documentaries I've watched and the reading I've done about public defenders, other defense attorneys, and, in addition, the Innocence Project. Tonight I read articles about the aggressive and abusive tactics practiced by the police in D. C. and I'm keeping an eye on journalists Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly's trespass case from when they were arrested in Ferguson, MO at a McDonald's. It's unresolved.  It's hard to believe that prosecutors are pursuing it so aggressively. I don't read about these matters all the time, but, when I do, I have to confront complexity and inherent contradictions and the co-existence of honor and abuse -- in other words, I have to read it all with the ways of seeing and understanding I have learned from Shakespeare over the years.

2. While I read, in our bedroom, where the corgis are at their quietest, I wasn't completely unproductive regarding household chores -- I got a ton of laundry done, including the blissful task of laundering our bedding and the reward was sweet when I slipped between the clean sheets and under the freshly cleaned blanket, and bedspread and felt waves of pleasure as I fell asleep.

3. Molly invited the Deke and me over for delicious pasta and sauce and cabbage salad.  We learned that Hiram will be playing trombone for a weekend in May with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. If you'd like to read more about the dates and the program, just go here.  The Baltimore Symphony's music director and frequent conductor, by the way, used to be the conductor of the Eugene Symphony -- some of you might remember the giddy days in Eugene when Marin Alsop conducted.  I immediately wondered if Hiram would be playing under Alsop's baton, but, no. We'll see if Hiram plays with them again one day and if Alsop conducts then.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/16: Stocking Up Again, Chicken Curry, Reading David Simon

1. I took a trip up to Laurel Corridor and bought beer at Total Wine and Polar seltzer water at Weis's so I won't have to concern myself with these products for a while. I also picked up a couple of Firestone Walker mixed 12 packs at Old Line, so now we have six cans of Luponic Distortion -- a beer disappearing from the shelves.

2. I boiled drumsticks, stripped the meat off the bone, and blended it with boiled potatoes and sauteed onions with green beans before pouring Madras curry sauce over all of it and the Deke and I ate this over rice I cooked with chicken stock instead of water.  It was a good meal.

3. The HBO series, The Wire, fascinated me and now I'm reading the first book written by David Simon, who helped create The Wire.  Back in 1988, the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Unit gave Simon unlimited access to their detectives and their work and, in 1991, Simon published the book I'm reading:  Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. It's a fascinating and unnerving book. David Simon is not only a superb story teller, but he writes most insightfully about how the bureaucracy of Baltimore's Police Department operates and the pressure the detectives are under to get murders solved, not so much in service to justice, but in service to the governmental system they work within.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/16: Motoring to Maryland, Meeting Up with T. Turner, Yakkin' at the Diazes

1. After a sunny and relaxing morning at Adrienne's, the Deke and I hit the road, made a quick stop on the Garden State Parkway's Montvale Service Center and staggered into Dunkin' Donuts for some dark roast coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, gassed up at Sunoco, and soon we flew in the Sube  to the New Jersey Turnpike, over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, and into the driveway at the Diazes, basking in the glow of our weekend trip to NY. It was a great success.

2. Almost immediately I left the Diazes and drove to the Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills to meet Terry Turner who had just flown into Baltimore Washington International Airport on business.We had arranged to meet at Bobby Flay's Burger Palace, ordered ourselves some dinner, and commenced to get caught up on what's going on with Terry in Oregon, me in Maryland, and on news from our home, North Idaho's Silver Valley. Terry asked for a lift to Baltimore, so we piled into the Sube and scurried up 295 to the Hyatt on the Inner Harbor, sat down at the bar, had a drink, and continued our efforts to solve the world's problems.  I got back to the Diazes at 8:30, as planned. This visit with Terry topped off a superb weekend of travel and visiting.

3. Back at the Diazes, conversation shifted to C. S. Lewis and Shakespeare and stone statues coming to life and the parables of Jesus and I was blown away that we were talking about such matters until after 10 p.m. in the evening. It's been a while since I've been asked to draw upon my many years of Shakespeare study -- and, I admit, I felt rusty (ha! of course I'm rusty!), but it was fun and stimulating to yak about Shakespeare and Elizabethan sermons and plays and Marlowe and the prodigal son and . . .  . Wow!. . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/16: Yankee Stadium Upper Deck, Wandering in Yankee Stadium, Party Time in the Bronx

1. Adrienne's boyfriend, Alex, and I crossed the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge and buzzed down to the Woodlawn Station the north Bronx to catch a 4 train to Yankee Stadium where we were immediately besieged by men selling tickets they had already bought.  We turned down an offer to buy 75 dollar tickets and instead bought grandstand tickets for 20 bucks that put us in the upper deck over looking the first base line and right field. It took me about ten minutes to adjust to the perspective from up there.  Once I did, I enjoyed the view and settled into watching King Felix Hernandez square off against CC Sabathia in low scoring matinee tilt.  I didn't feel like fiddling much with a camera, so I just grabbed a couple of quick shots of what things looked like in Section 409, Row 4, Seat 3.

2.  I admit it.  I'm old-fashioned. If I buy a ticket to go to a baseball game, the game is why I'm there. This was not true for thousands of people who were at Yankee Stadium yesterday.  I had to use the men's room around the fifth inning and Alex and I left our seats and ended up wandering around, looking at the many amenities available for fans who want an almost theme park experience at the ballpark. We popped into the sunroof area where fans can have a beer and gaze upon the Manhattan skyline.  Yeah, there are a couple of small television screens, but most of the people in this area were drinking and socializing, oblivious to the game and John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman's call of it. We visited the Yankee Museum, went to one of the Yankee stores (I bought a Yankee pint glass), and I marveled at the number of people not watching the game (including me, I guess!). Eventually, by the seventh inning, Alex and I snuck into some seats in left field.  If you look at the picture above and spot the Canon sign in left field, we sat in the section right behind that sign. The seats were cushioned, very comfortable. It was kind of fun being closer to the action on the field and in such, for me, luxurious seats.

3.  Alex and I wandered around the neighborhood adjacent to Yankee Stadium and dropped into Billy's Sports Bar for a sandwich and a beer. It was the single loudest bar I've ever been to in my entire life. I stuck it out because I've never been in such a place before and decided to have the full experience of being in a place where the house music is so loud I almost had to write out my beer and sandwich order and where scores and scores of people, mostly young, made their way to the cavernous back area with its mammoth tv screens, multiple bars, and spacious dance floor.  They were stoked, dancing, not walking, to the back, drinks in hand, eager to join in with the scores and scores of other NY Ranger fans bellowing in joy as the Rangers defeated the Penguins in a first round Stanley Cup playoff game or to sway in knots of gyrating shouting and laughing partiers.  Alex and I walked through this festive mob to exit Billy's and now I can say I've been in the company of  vigorous young people partying at five thirty in the afternoon in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/16: Turnpike Fantasy, Growler and Gill Can Chill Beer!, Gabbin'

1. When the Deke and I streak in our silver Sube up the New Jersey Turnpike on our way to Nyack, NY to see Adrienne, I always imagine we are in a Bruce Springsteen song that probably has never been written.

2. Next door to Nyack is Nanuet, home to our favorite East Coast taproom and bottle shop, Growler and Gill. We met up there with Alex and Adrienne and we found out that they have a chiller and can have beer off the shelf chilled and ready to serve in three minutes.  Thanks to this discovery, we let Growler and Gill beer god, Nick, introduce us to Pipeworks Brewing Company's exquisite double IPA, Ninja vs Unicorn. We loved it. Nick serving us this beer led to a conversation about DC Brau which led Nick to rave about the day some one brought some On the Wings of Armageddon to him in New York and how much he loved that beer and I promised Nick that I would, if it were available, bring him some Wings next time the Deke and I come up to Nyack/Nanuet

3. Back at Adrienne's apartment, Alex, the Deke, Adrienne, and I continued our party, gabbing, listening to music provided by Alexa, and drinking some of the excellent beers we brought back with us from Growler and Gill. I especially enjoyed trying some Lagunitas Sucks for the first time.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/16: Angela Cut My Hair, Irish Beef Stew Redux, Rare Evening of Quiet

1. In preparation for Friday's trip to Nyack to see Adrienne, I went to the Hair Cuttery and requested that Angela cut my hair. She seemed glad to see me and was as kind as ever as she efficiently trimmed me up and sent me on my way. I enjoy that I am one of Angela's regular customers and that we get along so well.

2. Since the Deke and I were going to have dinner at the Diazes and drop the dogs off so they could spend the weekend there while we go to New York, I fixed our dinner and decided to cook up the Irish beef stew I made when Julie visited us on St. Patrick's Day.  I'm glad I did.  It was really good again and I'm not sure I'll be making much more of it until in the fall when the weather cools down again.

3. When the corgis are at rest and we peacefully hang out together, they are a comfort and a pleasure. But, by nature, corgis, especially our Maggie, are a breed with a magnified sense of responsibility and our corgis go on scream bark blast when our neighbor across the hall leaves his apartment home, when other people bring their dogs out in the green space behind our apartment for a walk, when the mail is delivered to the mailboxes two levels above us, when any door in our building is knocked on, and -- well, you get the point. This evening, the Deke and I returned home without the corgis. Their absence gave us a rare evening of uninterrupted quiet.

I relished it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/16: No Scream Barking, Vacuuming in Peace, Inventing a Dinner

1.  Maggie and Charly were due for shots at the vet at Petsmart and it's always a huge relief when I take them in and pick them up and we don't encounter other dogs. Other dogs inspire Maggie to scream bark and Charly is a follower and follows suit. We didn't encounter other dogs today. A small victory.

2. You know what else sends Maggie and Charly into spasms of panic barking?  The vacuum cleaner. And so, while the dogs were at the vet, I vacuumed our apartment home in peace, a pleasure I rarely experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. I liked the price of the packages of drumsticks at Costco, so I bought one of the three-packs and froze two of the packs.  I took the five drumsticks out of the pack I didn't freeze and covered them with Greek seasoning and baked them along with chopped up red potatoes.  After the drumsticks had baked for a while, I added a can of diced tomatoes, seasoned with oregano and pepper flakes, and a can of chickpeas to the baking dish and topped the mixture with slices of sweet red pepper. After the chicken was done baking and the dish was warmed up, I topped it with feta cheese crumbles and Kalamata olives.  For a side dish, I covered slices of  cucumber and yellow pepper and mint leaves with rice vinegar and olive oil and salt and pepper.  It was a good dinner.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/16: Sube Serviced, 2016 Tax Plan, Margaritaville

1.  Thankfully, I happened to pop on the a/c in the Sube a couple of weeks ago before it really starts warming up around here and discovered that it was blowing just plain air, not cool air. So, today, it was time for an oil change and so I dropped the Sube off at the Sunoco station and got the oil changed, the a/c serviced, and the brakes inspected.  The brakes are in great shape, the a/c blows cool air, and we are set for another 3000 miles.

2. I felt so giddy about the Sube being serviced that I decided to take care of my Maryland tax situation for 2016. I need to pay estimated tax on my Oregon state pension, so I went to the online site of the Maryland Comptroller and set up four payments spread out over the calendar year. I tend to procrastinate a bit about tasks like this and it's a relief that I got it done.

3. Molly, the Deke, and I met at Chevy's for a school fund raiser and it was fun to pour back a couple of margaritas -- I hadn't had a margarita since last summer -- and to eat a chicken enchilada, chili rellano, and a pork tamale with rice and refried beans on the side.  The place is a cavernous echo chamber with eighties music blaring and a lot of people were out, so it was noisy, but I sank into tequila oblivion, a grin of pleasure spread across my face, and I had a great time.  Molly got to come by herself so it was fun to be able to talk with her uninterrupted by her normal motherly duties.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/11/16: "See You in Six Months", Mom Sounds Good, A Different Pasta Sauce

1. I heard the best news I can hear at my nephrologist appointment today:  "I don't need to see you for six months." Not next month, not in three months, nor in four months, but in six months. I had received the report of my blood work several days before my appointment and I knew my numbers had remained stable and that's what the doc and I are always looking for. So, I'll keep taking my little bit of medicine, flopping around in the swimming pool, going on walks, and getting most of my protein from non-animal sources and hope that in six months, this stability continues.

2. When I returned to our apartment home, I called Mom to let her know that my visit to the kidney doctor had been good and I was happy that she sounded strong and spry and was getting ready to go outside and do some garden work -- yank some weeds here, cut back some junk there, and start getting things ready for some planting later this spring.  She's curtailing her operation, but not shutting it down.

3. Sometimes, after getting good news at the doctor, I'll go somewhere for a bite to eat, but today my eighteen mile drive to Bethesda took nearly an hour on the Beltway, I returned home via Rt. 410 and Rt. 201 -- which worked fine -- but I was tired of being out and so I fixed myself a Greco-Italian bowl of spaghetti, cooking a sauce that combined tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, oregano, Parmesan cheese, and Greek seasoning.  I liked it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/10/16: Celebrating the Days of Easter, Fun at DC Brau, Ana's Growing Up

1.  Now that we are well into the fifty days of Easter in the Episcopal Church, things have cheered up since the forty days of Lent.  This morning the sun illuminated the stained glass, the hymns were celebratory, and, in the reading from Acts, Saul became Paul in a blinding moment on the road to Damascus. There were many good reasons for all the alleluias we proclaimed today.

2. The Deke and I decided to relax for an hour or so at the DC. Brau Brewing Company's tasting room. I found my self longing for a pint of On the Wings of Armageddon, DC Brau's smooth and potent imperial IPA -- and the only place to quaff a pint is at the brewery itself.  (I'm hoping they will be able to fill cans and growlers again one day, but, for now, it's drink it on site or don't drink it at all!) We had a great time.The beer was awesome. The vibe couldn't have been better. Luther Wright and the Wrongs were on the sound system playing bluegrass covers of  Pink Floyd's The Wall, a handful of people were at different tables playing board games or shooting the breeze, and bartender John proudly told me, when I asked, that he has now gone 47 straight days without a cigarette. He's amazed by how good beer tastes again! On our way out, we stopped by the Paraguayan/Argentine Project Milanesa food truck to tell the proprietors that if we didn't already have dinner plans, we'd have a bite to eat and asked them when they'd be back. They gave us some mouth watering samples of their corn salad, cabbage and corn salad, and chicken nuggets and told us they'd be at Atlas Brew Works next Sunday. So will we.

3. We closed out our Sunday with dinner at the Diazes and not only enjoyed a fine salmon dinner, but remarked often how Ana's chubby baby cheeks are shrinking and she's getting older fast, right before our eyes as she crawls, pulls herself up and stands, tries to find her balance -- walking can't be too far off -- , and as she makes more and more noises that are beginning to resemble vowels, making me think that words aren't too far away.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/16: American City Diner, Learning Tenley Circle, Hop Bomb BONUS: Loneliness at the Movies

1. The Deke gave a workshop for teachers of foreign language today at a conference in D. C.  at the National Cathedral School. After I dropped her off, I continued my quest for a diner that serves a breakfast worthy of, say, The Breakfast Nook in Coeur d'Alene or Cornucopia in Eugene. I don't need to find such a place here in the D. C. Metro area, but the quest is really fun.  From spotting it while driving on Connecticut Ave NW and from reading a list of D. C. diners published online, I was aware of American City Diner, a chrome-ish old school looking diner with pictures of celebrities like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe plastered all over the place and booths with juke boxes. It's an older place, worn, a little run down, and very friendly. While drinking a regular cup of coffee, I ordered a corned beef hash breakfast, with just the slightest hope that maybe the hash would be homemade, but it wasn't. However, my eggs were cooked just right, the home fries were solid, and I ordered an English muffin because I've given up on any of these D. C. diners serving excellent bread. If I'm in the neighborhood again at breakfast time, I'll go back, but I won't drive the thirty minutes or so from home it takes to get there.  It's not special trip worthy, but I had a good time at American City Diner and left feeling satisfied.

2. If you read these posts I make every day, you might be picking up on how I revel in small victories when it comes to driving in Washington, D. C.  I performed an imaginary happy dance behind the wheel of the Sube today when I went back to the National Cathedral School to pick up the Deke. This morning, when I headed toward the National Cathedral School on Nebraska Ave, suddenly (for me) Tenley Circle popped up and the robot voice coming out of the little computer, also called a phone,  I carry in my pocket told me to go into Tenley Circle and exit onto Wisconsin Ave.  The problem for me, when I drove into the circle this morning, was that there were no signs pointing an ignorant driver (like me) to Wisconsin Ave.  This morning, rather than leaving the circle on Wisconsin Ave., I accidentally stayed on Nebraska Ave. I recovered easily, got over to Wisconsin Ave via Warren, but I was bound and determined to figure out where and how to get on Wisconsin Ave coming out of the Tenley Circle.  I got back to our apartment home, summoned a map online, studied Tenley Circle, and, aha!, I got it.  When I returned to Tenley Circle this afternoon, I trusted my memory of the map, didn't depend on the robot's directions, and I did it! I left Tenley Circle and got onto Wisconsin Ave. -- without the robot and with no sign in sight telling me where Wisconsin Ave. was.  Small victory. Huge relief.

3. The Deke had a great time at the conference, was really tired, wanted to relax with a beer, so we went to the Old Line Bistro, plopped ourselves down at the bar, and I enjoyed my first ever DC Brau Citizen -- a Belgian-styled pale ale -- and then ordered a small snifter of one of the strongest, hoppiest, most potent beers I've ever tasted:  Lagunita's The Waldos' Special Ale.  It was a hop bomb beyond my imagining, strong, bitter, dank, mighty, and virtuous. It's not to be fooled with nor to be ordered by those looking for balance in a beer. Waldos' Special Ale is mirthfully extreme!

BONUS: I've decided to go back and watch some movies I first saw between about 1975 and 1988.  For some reason, the other day, I was suddenly arrested by curiosity about the movie Eye of the Needle which featured Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland.  I saw it in Eugene in the fall of 1980 with my first wife and I remember, afterward, making snarky, smart alecky (immature?) comments about the waterlogged Donald Sutherland at the movie's conclusion.  Why making these smarty pants comments sticks in my memory remains a mystery, but I decided to order the movie through Interlibrary Loan and see how I might experience it thirty-six years later.

The movie unsettled me, discomfited me. Donald Sutherland's Nazi spy character is as close to absolutely amoral and alienated as any character I've experienced -- he plays a character who has no hesitation about continuing a love affair with the woman whose husband he just murdered and who commits a series of flash murders in the movie, murders committed instantaneously, numbly, without premeditation and without regret.  The story studied the deep loneliness of Kate Nelligan's character and this, too, unsettled me. Her character, along with the profoundly lonely characters in Choose Me, have elicited memories of my own periods of deep loneliness in my life and I'm developing a deeper understanding of the impact loneliness has had on decisions I've made, things I've done (or left undone), and the ways I've thought about meaning and purpose in my life while very lonely. I don't really like having these memories pop up, but it's been good to reflect upon the way loneliness can distort perceptions and judgment and how we relate to others -- and these movies have prompted memories and thoughts I hadn't expected.

Next 1980s movie?  Mona Lisa.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/08/16: Betty Wood's Committal, Yes to No Cook Pasta Sauce, Epic Facebook Thread

1.  Back in March, St. Mary's Episcopal Church's priest Father Bingham Powell made a business trip from Eugene to Virginia Theological Seminary and we had dinner at the seminary. He mentioned he'd be returning to Virginia for an April 8 committal/burial of Michelle Wood's mother, Betty, at Arlington National Cemetery where Betty's husband already rests in peace. Without thinking, I asked Bingham if he thought it would be all right if I attended the committal, as a show of support for Michelle, whom I never really got to know at St. Mary's, but whom I felt kinship with because we both had been at St. Mary's together for many years.  Bingham secured Michelle's permission and then he asked me if I would read Matthew 11:28-30 at the service. I happily said I would.

So, today, I took the train to the Archives station, enjoyed a chocolate croissant and a cup of dark roast coffee at Paul Bakery and Cafe, and then walked leisurely about a mile to the Smithsonian station on the National Mall where I caught a train to Arlington National Cemetery and met up with Michelle and rest of the small group of us who would be present for the committal.

Pam Birrell made the trip from Eugene with her daughter, Hope, and I enjoyed meeting Hope and being able to have some great conversation with Pam, especially at lunch after the committal and on the Metro from Crystal City to Gallery Place afterward.

I'm grateful I got to attend the committal of Betty Wood. Despite having left Eugene, I will always want to participate in the life of St. Mary's Church and support those I knew there, whether really well or only a little bit, in any way I can.  It's a river that runs deep inside of me.

2.  That no cook pasta sauce I didn't make last night? I combined chopped tomatoes, chopped mint leaves, oregano, crumbled feta cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, sliced green onions, Kalamata olives, and olive oil with cooked spaghetti and the Deke and I had a delicious meal.

3. Sister Carol and her husband, Paul, took Mom to the Shoshone County Court House so Mom could submit her Circuit Breaker papers and earn a property tax reduction.  Neither Carol's friends, April and Kellee, nor I, had heard of the Circuit Breaker Tax Reduction Program and, on Facebook, we tried and tried and tried to pry an answer out of Carol as to what this program is and why it's called Circuit Breaker.  Carol didn't respond. And she didn't respond. And she didn't respond some more. So, April, Kellee, and I piled wiseacre comment upon wiseacre comment on Carol's original Circuit Breaker post, making the best possible use of the magic of Facebook to entertain ourselves, give Carol a bad time, and create an epic thread.  Carol finally returned to her computer/smart phone and when confronted by the longest and funniest string of Facebook comments ever written, finally succeeded in helping us see that the circuit breaker metaphor treats taxes like residential electricity. Here's one website's explanation of how the metaphor works:

One increasingly popular type of targeted property tax relief program is called a “circuit breaker” because it protects taxpayers from a property tax “overload”just like an electric circuit breaker: when a property tax bill exceeds a certain percentage of a taxpayer’s income, the circuit breaker reduces property taxes in excess of this “overload” level. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/07/16: Dog Breath, No on No Cook Pasta Sauce, Red IPA

1.  I bought the dogs the additive we put in their drinking water that enhances their dental health, and, with any luck, will sweeten their halitosis.

2. I hadn't made a no cook pasta sauce dish for a while, so I went to the Co-op and bought the ingredients and soon after I returned home, the Deke called and said she'd like to go out for dinner.  No problem. We'll have no cook pasta sauce over spaghetti on Friday.

3. At the Old Line Bistro, I enjoyed a chicken Caesar salad and a cup of clam chowder and tried out a Partner Ships Red IPA,  a collaboration between Maine Brewing Co. and Baltimore's Heavy Seas.  It was really good.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/16: Admiring Leslie Ann Warren, Home Cooking, Anticipating Jane Alexander

1. I finished watching Alan Rudolph's dreamy film noir-ish pastiche of the bedroom farce, Choose Me, this morning and then I found some reviews of the movie written when it was released in 1984. Mainly, I wanted to see if any of the pros who write about movies were as deeply impressed with Leslie Ann Warren's portrayal of Eve. None were. I thought her performance was complex and sublime. She kept reminding me of  how Vivien Leigh brought Blanche DuBois to life in the 1951 movie, A Streetcar Named Desire.  Vivien Leigh's Blanche DuBois was mercurial, moving moment by moment from nostalgic to self-loathing to flirtatious to bitter to insecure and Leslie Ann Warren's Eve was similar. Within moments, as Eve talked on the phone to Dr. Nancy Love or when she tries to figure out the enigmatic Mickey, she is, by turns, within seconds, hopeful, distrusting, doubtful, cynical, sensual, cold, seductive, self-hating, weary, wary, angry, and always lonely, always drifting, unmoored. It's not just that Leslie Ann Warren brought Eve's complexity to life that so deeply impressed me, rather, it was her bringing alive Eve's moment to moment instability, her seamless movements in split seconds from one dimension of her character to another, especially with her eyes, the openness of her face, and her vocal range.

2.  I decided at some point today that I just didn't feel like going out into the world. This is rare. But, I had to fix dinner and, with what we had on hand, I was able to throw together a dinner of black beans and rice, subbing sweet potato for red pepper and balsamic vinegar for red wine. I knew the sweet potato would work, and I was very happy that the balsamic vinegar did, too.

3. While I was looking at movies available to watch on Amazon Prime, I suddenly found All the President's Men.  The other day, I'd read a magazine article presenting an oral history of the movie and I had watched a few clips, but tonight I watched the whole movie again. I love this movie and every time I see it, I eagerly anticipate Bernstein's interview of the bookkeeper, the nameless character played by Jane Alexander. Jane Alexander plays the moral conflict and fear of this character perfectly, as her disgust with what she's witnessed working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President gradually takes over and she slowly and anxiously tells what truth she can.  Every time I watch this movie, I eagerly anticipate Jane Alexander summing up her loathing in this one line:  "If you guys could get John Mitchell, that would be beautiful."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/05/16: Crock Pot Beefy Taco, Remembering Ramsey, Back to *Choose Me*

1. It was fun getting out the crock pot and throwing together browned ground beef, refried beans, sauteed onions, garlic, salsa, a chopped up skillet-grilled poblano pepper, and grated sharp cheddar cheese, putting the slow cooker on low, and then having flour tortillas set to warm, chopped cabbage, cilantro, and chopped tomatoes ready for when the Deke got home so we could roll us up a tasty and filling dinner.  The only thing missing, for me?  An icy margarita.  Oh, well. (The recipe is here.)

2.  I was in plays in the theater at LCC with Ramsey Tainton. He was murdered last August.  Today was Ramsey's birthday and, as requested by the love of his life, I raised a bottle of Guiness in his honor and drank it in his memory this evening.

3.  Back in 1984-85, a few graduate school friends and I became very interested in a moody sex and loneliness movie directed by Alan Rudolph called Choose Me. I remember we could never figure out if we thought it was a good movie, but it sure got our attention and gave us a movie to talk about. I watched the first hour of Choose Me this evening and I'll finish it on Wednesday.  I'll just say the sex quadrangle or pentagon or, maybe, hexagon that develops in this movie centers around a bar in L. A. run by Eve, played exquisitely by Leslie Ann Warren. The movie's characters are unmoored, drifting, lonely. The movie drifts moodily from scene to scene, encounter to encounter accompanied often by the velvety, soulful singing of Teddy Pendergrass and, at other times, by sultry tenor saxophone jazz. Just like over thirty years ago when I first watched this movie, I have no criteria by which to evaluate it, but the work of Keith Carradine, Genevieve Bujold, Leslie Ann Warren, and Rae Dawn Chong to bring despair to life haunts me with memories of when I was drifting, lonely, and unsure what direction my life might take. I acted on being lost differently than these characters, but the core experience is similar and this movie is bringing the confusion I felt back to me.  (Let me add, that to the viewer less serious minded, even grim, than I am, this movie could be experienced as a farcical sex romp. I get that!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/16: Routines, Assassination Anniversary, Darkness in Photographs

1.  I started the day with routines.  First, I had my monthly blood draw done for the transplant center and a blood draw done for my next kidney doctor appointment in a week. Later in the morning, I flopped and splashed around in the swimming pool at my weekly water aerobics class and left feeling tingly and refreshed and a little bit tired.  

2. Today marks the 48th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That fact means much more to me now that I live near Washington, D. C. because I can go to National Mall and stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and fill in the space that stretches east toward the Capitol Building with all the pictures I've seen of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Moreover, when I drive to Union Station, I turn right off of Bladensburg Road onto H Street NE.  H Street was destroyed by fire during the riots that followed the assassination of King and for over thirty years hardly anything happened to revive or restore it. Now it's in better shape. New restaurants. A new Giant grocery store. The streetcar just began to run on H Street. I spent time today searching for pictures online of the fires and their aftermath. Later, I found an hour long documentary produced by WETA called Washington in the 60s. It helped me understand a great deal about this area where I now live and if you'd like to watch it, just go here.

3. Soon after I watched Washington in the 60s, a link to article in The Washingtonian entitled "All the President's Men: An Oral History" popped up on my Twitter feed.  I read it. I watched clips from the movie. I remembered back to the spring of 1976 when I saw All the President's Men and the thrill it gave me then and continues to give me all these forty years later. It's funny -- in many ways what I enjoy most about the movie is Gordon Willis' work as the Director of Photography. I watched one of the Deep Throat scenes, filmed in a dark parking garage and marveled at the half lit face of Hal Holbrook and how masterfully Willis made the darkness of the whole story come alive with his cinematography. I know that his work here and in Godfather and Godfather II helped shape my own predilection for the dark in the pictures I take and the way I edit my pictures.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/16: Recreating Heurich Lager, Bluegrass at Atlas, Crisp Clean Sheets

1.  Knowing that local brewery DC Brau had worked to recreate a pre-prohibition lager from the historic Christian Heurich Brewing Company (which closed in 1956), I head down to DC Brau today and had my first pint of Heurich Lager. No, it didn't have all the complex citrus or pine notes of a hoppy American IPA, but I was raised on lager beer and this was among, if not the very best lager I've ever tasted. Lagers are easy beers to drink, especially when cold, so John, as he poured my beer, made sure I knew that the ABV of this beer was at 7%, high for a lager (in my experience).  Knowing this, I stopped at one pint -- plus, I had another brewer visit ahead of me.

2.  I hope Atlas Brew Works on West Virginia NE, just minutes from DC Brau, continues to have bluegrass bands play from time to time. This afternoon, the band Rye and Dirty played for a couple of hours and I plopped down on a picnic table and slowly nursed a pint of Ponzi IPA and then a pint of 1500 Lager and enjoyed these young guys rip out some great tunes on guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle, and upright bass and also enjoyed their variety of vocal harmonies. The acoustics were not great, but I didn't think they would be in a brewery, and, of course, most people in attendance talked and talked all through the music -- only a handful of us seemed to be there to focus on the music -- but, I expected this, too, and rolled with it just fine.  It was a great three or more hours in these two breweries -- the vibe was great in both places and listening to live bluegrass music is among my very favorite things to do.

3.  I joined the Deke and the Diazes for some take out Peruvian chicken.  Our return to our apartment home had a reward.  Earlier today I had laundered our bedding and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I crawled under those clean sheets and blanket and enjoyed their crisp comfort all night long.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/02/16: Laurel Corridor Marketplace, Working with Photographs, Greekish Dinner

1.  So that I could buy four 12 packs of Polar seltzer water at Weis market and a variety of beers at Total Wine, I drove up to the Laurel Corridor Marketplace and before I shopped I got absorbed again in David Simon's 1991 non-fiction book, Homicide, about the Baltimore Police Department's homicide division while enjoying a wild blueberry scone and a cup of dark roasted coffee at Panera.

2.  On my Tidal Basin and National Mall stroll on Friday, I took over 150 pictures.  Lately, I've been working at taking fewer pictures per photo session, but on Friday I tried out some new things, returned to some ways of taking pictures I hadn't done for a while (like candid shots of people), and discovered surprises, like the Floral Library.  Consequently, I spent quite a bit of time editing those pictures and decided what to post as albums on Facebook and what pictures to post on my tumblr blog.  It was fun to try to enhance pictures and it's always fun to hear back from people who like images I post.

3. I decided to spring a surprise on the Deke by making that Greeky dish I made last week while she was in New York. I roasted eggplant, cauliflower, bell pepper, and red potato pieces seasoned with salt and Greek seasoning and, in the meantime, heated up a can of diced tomatoes and garbanzo beans seasoned with fresh oregano. I mixed them up in the roasting pan and topped it with crumbled feta cheese and chopped Kalamata olives.  We poured this mixture over rice.  It worked.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/01/16: D. C. Morning Stroll, The Police Joined In, Martin Luther Comes to Dinner

1.  The last few mornings, Maggie and Charly have been wanting to be fed between 5 and 5:30 and I haven't had the will to resist them. So, this morning, after feeding them and taking them out back to do their business, I wrote my blog post, gathered up my camera, and drove to Union Station to park, grab a coffee and chocolate croissant, jump on the Circulator bus, start taking pictures at the Jefferson Memorial, and see where things went from there.  I wanted to take pictures in early morning sunlight, but, as luck would have it, the morning was overcast and a little bit rainy; furthermore, many of the cherry blossoms were past their peak and were getting shaggy.  No problem.  I accepted what the world around me had to give and did my best to take some good pictures and enjoyed walking for about 2.5 miles.  I'll put a sampling of pictures at the end of this post.

2. On my way to the National Mall Floral Library (also called the Tulip Library), the woman who was helping people cross the street started to talk at length about a great block party she went to in Maryland and was ecstatic about how fun it was to have DJs and music and food and drink and to enjoy so many people just getting together and enjoying each other in unity -- the way things should be. Yeah, some killjoy neighbor called the cops on them with a noise complaint, but when the police got there, they joined in and there was no problem and anyway, they had posted notices around the neighborhood that they were having this party and it was all good. At first, I thought she was talking to someone on the phone through the earpiece she was wearing, but then I realized she was telling me her story and I got to hear it all because the red light was lengthy and when it turned green she told me to have a blessed day and I dittoed that and went on my way.

3.  The Deke and I went over to the Diazes for a very tasty tomato soup dinner, featuring soup and cheese-topped baguette slices and we ended up having a most unexpected and really fun discussion of the Protestant Reformation.  You just never know.

Here are some pictures from my gray morning photo stroll down at the Tidal Basin and on over to the National Mall:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/31/16: Molly is the Boss, Train Station Pick Up, Great Beer Variety

1.  I stopped off at Starbucks to buy Molly a white mocha and then whizzed straight to the Diaz house where Molly took charge of the assembling of the car seat, like a boss, and installed it correctly and safely in the Sube. This little morning trip saved me about three hours of time and made my life about 3.5 million times easier than if I had worked out the assembling of the car seat on my own. My deficiencies are what they are!

2. Traffic was moderate on the Beltway -- nonetheless, a reckless driver used the shoulder to needlessly pass me -- ha! -- heading down to the New Carrollton Amtrak station where I picked up the Deke and Olivia after their train trip from Nyack/Nanuet to Penn Station and on down to Maryland. The trip bored Olivia, but she recovered quickly once back home.

3. After the Deke took a little time to nap, she and I headed up to the Old Line Bistro where we split a reuben and I got to enjoy three very different beers.  I was very excited that the Old Line has Goose Island's Wild Ale called Lolita on tap. I hadn't quaffed a sour/wild ale for many months and it was a delight. Next up, I loved my pint of Flying Dog's Truth, a hoppy smashmouth imperial IPA that really sends me over the moon, and, for dessert, I had a half a pint of Star Hill's double chocolate stout which is like drinking a chocolate cupcake made from scratch. The Deke and I got caught up on some things after being apart since Good Friday and, without a doubt, had a great party.