Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/30/16: Shashuka Brunch, Fancy Cocktail Party, Fun Time Extended

1. After lounging around and recovering from our busy Sunday, Camille, Danielle, and I staggered into the Sube and hightailed it over to Molly's -- where the Deke and the corgis spent the night. Danielle got right to it in the kitchen and made a peppery batch of shashuka, eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and peppers, seasoned with cumin and chili powder and served with toasted challah on the side. It was an exquisite brunch.

2. When we were at Flying Dog yesterday, Molly suggested to Danielle that we have a fancy cocktail party on on Monday. So, late in the lazy afternoon, Camille, Molly, and Danielle piled in the Diaz mini-van and returned with the makings for quesadillas and with a bottle of tequila and one of Cointreau and Danielle mixed us all pitcher of winter margaritas featuring grapefruit and lime juice mixed with tequila and Cointreau, served in a glass rimmed with chili powder and coarse salt. Then she blended a pitcher of a watermelon margarita, herbed with basil.  It was a fun party.

3. A couple of hours later, the Deke and I needed to get back to our apartment home and we entrusted the care of Danielle and Camille to Molly -- ha! -- it was fun knowing that Molly and her cousin and her cousin's good friend would continue the fun times.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/29/16: Farmers Market/Foot Healing, Zipping Up to Flying Dog, Crispy Eggplant and Big Green Salad

1. After sleeping in until nine o'clock, I wrote on this blog and enjoyed coffee and then Danielle, Camille, and I snapped to it and jumped in the Sube, parked it at Buddy Attick Park, and walked the Greenbelt Lake path until we broke off at the trail leading to Roosevelt Center. We bought fresh vegetables and eggs at the Farmers' Market and a few other food items at the Co-op and walked back along the lake to the Sube. This was a big deal for me. I've been bothered for most of 2016 and a little earlier by nagging pain in my right heel and arch. Over the last two days, between strolling at the National Mall and walking to the Farmers' Market and back today, I logged about 7.5 miles with only the tiniest bit of discomfort. I am very happy about this development and am keeping my fingers crossed that whatever was ailing the bottom of my right foot is close to being healed. The combination of flopping around in the pool and walking does my health a ton of good.

2. The Deke, in an act of pure agape love and generosity, volunteered to stay at the Diazes and look after the children while Hiram played a concert at Wolf Trap so that Molly could join Danielle, Camille, and me for a trip up to Frederick, MD and the gorgeous Flying Dog Brewery. So, around mid-afternoon, the four of us piled into the Sube and whizzed up to the brewery, found a table on the patio, and took a moment to thank God for the 4 ounce pour and the four glass flight of 4 ounce pours. We talked and laughed and told stories for about an hour and a half, sampling Flying Dog's great variety of beer styles. We all agree: most of the time, when drinking a craft beer, four or six ounces is enough -- in fact, Flying Dog doesn't sell pints -- the largest amount of beer they sell is an eight oz. glass. I love this. So, I sampled some old friends at Flying Dog like Ella and the Truth and I enjoyed some beers I'd never tried before such the Numero Uno Summer Cerveza (our server called it a bad ass Corona. I totally agree.), Ancho Lime Paradise Lager, and Berliner Wiesse.  We had a blast. Here you can see a picture Molly took of Camille, Danielle and me. Danielle and I are on one side of the table and Camille is across from us. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of all four of us.

3. In a moment of ingenious impulse, Danielle called in from the Sube to the Noodle King in Silver Spring and ordered Crispy Eggplant and we picked it up and headed back to the Diaz house to rejoin the Deke and dove into the Crispy Eggplant and the huge mixed greens salad the Deke built with the food we purchased earlier in the day.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/28/16: Art Walk, Right Proper Brewing (Wow!), Porter Sundaes

1. Danielle, Camille and I filled the Sube with excitement as we piled in and zipped down to Union Station, parked, and went our separate ways exploring Washington, D. C. I wandered across the U. S. Capitol grounds and as I strolled by the west lawn, I listened to Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinese's sound check for Sunday's PBS Memorial Day Eve concert. I trudged in the 90 degree heat down to the National Mall and slipped into the National Gallery for lunch at a salad bar, cooled off a bit, and then went upstairs and looked at pictures by two of my favorite landscape painters, Turner and Constable, admiring their studies of light and the fundamentally insubstantial nature of the fluid physical world.

Cooled off, deeply satisfied with the art I'd experienced, I staggered out of the National Gallery and trudged some more, up 7th street to G and loved the recent acquisitions at the National Portrait Gallery.  I was especially intrigued, astonished, and moved by three oil paintings; an unnerving and intimidating portrait of Kevin Spacey's House of Cards charancter, Francis J. Underwood; an arresting portrait of nineteen year old Charlayne Hunter-Gault -- it caused me to gasp; and an extreme close up of the elderly, dignified Hank Aaron. A black and white photograph of Prince stopped me in my tracks as did a raw 1970s self-portrait by Patti Smith.  I concluded my visit on a note of whimsy by watching a psychedelic animated video of John Lennon's "Oh Yoko!" that made me feel as if I had suddenly boarded a yellow submarine -- and for the next half an hour or so, I couldn't stop the words, "Oh Yoko/Oh Yoko/My love will turn you on" echoing in my mind.  Sigh.

2. After a quick Metro ride back to Union Station, Danielle, Camille, and I reunited piled back into the Sube and buzzed into NE Washington, DC to the Brookland neighborhood to the handsome tasting room at the Right Proper Brewing Production House. This was, possibly, the best beer drinking experience I've ever had.  No. Really. I'm not kidding. The three of us shared seventeen four oz pours of the greatest variety of beer styles I've ever drunk in one place.  Of special pleasure to me were the (at least) five sour beers brewed at Right Proper, but the other styles were superb -- and NOT ONE IPA! I am eager to return. So much creativity, so much variety, such good service and so much fun.

3. We ended this jam packed day at the Diazes with a pile of Chinese food and Camille made us each a sundae consisting of an ice cream sandwich chunk submerged in Right Proper's Haxan, a most chocolate-y and sweet beer.  This was my first experience combining ice cream with beer -- and I approved. Ha!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/27/16: Pre-Airport Vacuuming, Lunch in Ellicott City, Party at the Diazes

1. The saga continues. After enduring ten minutes or so of corgi scream barking in their crate while I vacuumed our apartment home and then after witnessing them dive bomb the vacuum cleaner itself in an act of teeth-bared naked aggression, I got my nerves settled and zipped in the Sube up to the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to pick up our niece Danielle and her friend, Camille (whom I liked a lot immediately). They have come to see us and to do some touring of Washington, D. C. over Memorial Day weekend.

2. Once Danielle and Camille piled into the Sube, we descended upon Ellicott City, MD where I took them to a brewery and eatery (a.k.a brewpub) I'd never been to before, the Ellicott City Brewing Company. All my other favorite breweries in D. C. were closed until later in the afternoon, so I hoped and prayed, after a wee bit of research, that this place would be good.  And it was! We never got off Main Sreet in  Ellicott City. It's a tight street bending uphill crammed with businesses in old buildings, some stone, others wooden -- ranging from wine shops to junk stores. I'm not much of a shopper, but I enjoyed the old town feel of Main Street. I was also pleased that the beer at Ellicott Brewing Company was excellent and the French dip I ate for lunch was solid. I would have been happy to be able to sit and talk all day with Danielle and Camille and sample more beer -- but, alas, we wrapped up our lunch after about ninety minutes.

3. I picked up the Deke from school, and back at our apartment home, the Deke and Danielle and Camille fell into easy conversation and a bit after six o'clock we loaded ourselves into the Sube and rocketed over to the Diazes. I streaked in the Sube over to Dominic's Italian Grille and picked up a couple of pizzas and some tater tots, bought some beer at Quench, and we had a fun party. I'd say Danielle and Camille's visit is off to a splendid start.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/26/16: Worship and Flopping, Lemon Broccoli Pasta, Figuring out Friday

1. Working out at the Greenbelt Aquatic Center's pool is similar to worshiping as an Episcopalian. It is satisfying not because it's an electric experience or not because new things happen every time, but because of the repetition, of the way prayers and readings and hymns and movement in the pool with the noodle become a part of the regular rhythm of my body and spirit. So, I went to the pool and flopped and splashed around today, deeply satisfied by the regularity of my workout.

2. I found a recipe for lemon broccoli pasta today and went to the Co-op and picked up a box of rigatoni, broccoli, a couple of lemons, some spinach, and some Parmesan cheese. I boiled the pasta, adding the broccoli to the pot with about three minutes to go, drained it, and tossed in the spinach and the zest of a lemon, stirred it, and let it sit while I melted butter, added garlic, crushed red pepper, and, a little later, lemon juice to it, poured the lemon-garlic butter over the pasta/broccoli/spinach and, presto!, the Deke and I had a fine bowl of food for dinner.

3.  Danielle and her friend -- whose name I don't know just yet -- will be arriving to visit us Friday late in the morning and our hope was to head to a brewery and sample some beers. I have looked forward to introducing Danielle to some of the breweries I've enjoyed over the last year or so.  None of my favorite tasting rooms, however, open on Friday until later in the afternoon -- BUT, there is a brewpub in Ellicott City, about 20 minutes from the airport. I've never been there, but I am kind of excited by the prospect of having lunch at the Ellicott Brewing Company and having a taste or two of their beers, adding this joint to my slowly growing list of breweries I've visited.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/25/16: Collapsed Stool, Chicken Soup Again, Sweater in my Future

1. There's this stool I sit on to look at things in the refrigerator, and today, while I was making sure some kind of double IPA was going to be available for the Deke after school, the stool broke underneath me and and I, without thinking, grabbed the refrigerator door. I pulled the refrigerator toward me. A few items slid out. Nothing broke. No mess to speak of. I was greatly relieved the refrigerator did not tilt my way so far that it fell on me. I threw the stool in the trash.

2. When Allie was here a week ago, I cooked up a recipe simply called Asian chicken noodle soup. It's not much of a name, but it's a very simple and tasty soup and since I had the ingredients on hand today to make it again, I did -- and, once again, it was very good.

3. The Deke decided she wanted to knit me a maroon sweater and today the yarn arrived and I had no idea she had ordered such soft yarn or that the maroon has black specks in it, making the color deeper and even more interesting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/24/16: Sheets, Chicken, Plans

1. I would have to say that when the highlight of my day is buying a new set of sheets for the bed at Costco, it was a slow one.

2. I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot, though. And used chicken stock I bought today at Costco.

3. And, well, the Deke and I continued to coordinate with Molly and Hiram about our respective summer travel plans. We have to work together on these plans because if the Deke and I leave, we need to leave the dogs with the Diazes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/23/16: Inevitable, Awkwardness Averted, Back Safe in Kellogg

1.  The Deke has been waiting for a packet of forms to fill out from a local clinic to arrive in the mail. Each day last week, we checked the mail. The forms didn't come. I volunteered to drive the twenty minutes or so up to Laurel to pick up the packet and so, today, I squeezed myself into the Sube and bolted up to the clinic, secured the packet, and, later, when the Deke and I arrived back at our apartment home, the much anticipated packet was in our mailbox. Inevitable.

2. Well, after I flopped and splashed around until noon at the water aerobics class, I stayed in the pool for a while longer and worked out for about ten or fifteen extra minutes. As I emerged out of the pool, I saw that the woman who often confuses the men's and women's locker rooms was emerging from the hot tub. I strategically hung back, and as she headed toward the locker rooms, then I did, too.  She arrived at the fork in the road -- go right to the women's locker room, left to the men's. Ready to intervene in case she went left again, instead of right, I watched her pause, study the signage, and, to my great relief, stroll into the women's locker room. Awkward moment averted.

3. After school, the Deke and I popped into the Old Line Bistro for a glass of beer and a snack off the Happy Hour grub menu. We didn't want much to eat or drink, but just wanted to hang out for about an hour before heading back to our apartment home. We arrived home and I later just the news I was hoping for came zooming from the heavens into my hand-held texting machine:  Christy, Mom, and Cosette arrived safely back in Kellogg, thus ending their odyssey to Zoe's graduation and back. They stopped at the Clearwater River Casino in Lewiston to meet Lura and Lyle for lunch, and here's a picture of Mom with her niece, Lura Mullikin. (You know, Mom doesn't really look like she's traveled nearly 700 miles over the last few days. She looks fresh, rested, relaxed.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/22/16: Reading and Napping, Margaritas and Ichiro, Figuring Out the Upcoming Months BONUS: Mom

1. For much of the afternoon, I did something I enjoy immensely. I lay on the top of our bed. I read a good book, Seabiscuit, in the prone position. I napped, woke up, read some, napped again. I didn't know if I'd ever get off the bed and make more of my day. This lying down and reading and napping seemed to be all I wanted from life today.

2. But, I did a little more. Around 4:00 or so, the Deke and I headed to Colesville to one of our favorite spots, Quench. Quench got a liquor license in the past couple of months and I wasn't feeling like drinking a beer, so I ordered one of their Classic Margaritas and enjoyed it so much that I ordered a second. The Nationals were playing the Marlins on the television and I saw Ichiro stroke the 2,555th hit of his Major League Baseball career. Ichiro pounded out six hits over the weekend, drawing him within 44 hits of the coveted 3,000 hits for his career -- not bad for a guy who didn't play his first MLB game until he was twenty-seven years old.

3. The Deke and I have plans over the next few months to coordinate with the Diazes.  To help nourish ourselves to sit down and begin talking about this coordination, the Deke and I dropped into the Greek Village and picked up a couple of dinners for the two of us and Molly to split -- Hiram would be eating with some orchestra mates in Baltimore after the Baltimore Symphony's matinee. We ate, sat down at the calendar Molly constructed, and got almost everything figured out, a process helped mightily by Hiram's arrival back home.  He's the busiest of all of us with jobs out of town and a tour coming up in October. Our summer plans are beginning to take shape.  Oh! We brought the corgis back home. They were good dogs Saturday and Sunday at the Diazes.  No jailbreaks!

BONUS:  On her trip to the Boise area, today Mom got to visit with her friend since the first grade, Jodi Robinson, and Jodi's daughter (and my lifelong friend), Jeri and then had dinner with her niece, Judy Coomer, and her husband, Jack, and two of Judy and Jack's daughters, Michelle and Angie. Here are a couple of pictures:

Mom and Jodi Robinson

Mom and Judy Coomer

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/21/16: Making the Rounds, Sally's Visit, Zoe's Graduation

1. These coupons from Total Wine came in the mail several days ago and today I redeemed them by buying a wide variety of beers. It was a lot of fun shopping for beers I knew the Deke and I already enjoy and picking up some beers we've never tried to further expand our enjoyment. Afterward, in preparation for the Deke's cousin Sally's visit and stay over, I went over to Weis Market to pick up some snacks. I dropped off my purchases at our apartment home, loaded the corgis into the Sube, and rumbled over to the Diazes so that Sally's dog, Lucy, could stay at our place in peace and not have the corgis pester her and scream bark at her just for being around. I concluded my round of errands at MOM's where I picked up a couple of boxes of tomato soup for dinner and loaf of freshly baked and sliced 7 grain bread to have on hand, among a few other things.

2. If Sally was hoping for a quiet, peaceful day of conversation, knitting, slow and steady 6 oz glasses of beer, the running of the Preakness, and a very simple dinner, she came to the right place.  Nothing electric happened today.  We just sat around and enjoyed one another's company and didn't even bother to figure anything out.

3. Throughout the day, dispatches poured in from the graduation ceremony at the College of Idaho. Even though the weather was imperfect, Mom prepared herself well for it and Paul wheeled her to a spot under cover, a great help, and all indications are that the family had a most happy day, proud of Zoe's completion of her degree and delighted to all be together. Here's a picture of Mom and Zoe:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/20/16: 2016 - A Cherokee Odyssey, Sunny Laundry Day, Corgi Uproar

1. It was almost like when John Glenn orbited the earth three times on February 20, 1962. Remember the suspense? Checking the television or radio reports to learn he'd made his second orbit, then his third, and learning he'd splashed down successfully? This morning, Cosette, who served as pilot, Christy, and Mom launched off from Kellogg in Christy's Jeep Cherokee and began their arduous odyssey to Caldwell, ID for the occasion of Zoe's graduation from the College of Idaho. I was concerned about how Mom would hold up on such a long mission and Christy, as if she were reporting dispatches for CBS news on John Glenn's flight, kept me posted by text message as they stopped in Ritzville, lunched in Kennewick, took a rest at the Stanfield rest area, passed through Baker City, and splashed down in Caldwell. As best I could tell, Mom, with the aid of Reese's candy and, I'm sure, the goodwill of Christy and Cosette, completed the epic journey in comfort.  I was relieved.

Christy, Cosette, and Mom Launching Off from Kellogg 

2. After (nearly) forty days and nights of rain here in the greater DC-opolis, today we had a day of sunshine and the temperature shot over 70 for the first time this month.  It was a glorious day and I took full advantage of it by staying in all day, doing about 600 loads of laundry. The rain returns on Saturday.  Then I'll go out and have some fun.

3. At about 8:00 this evening, I got my courage up.  I could have put cotton balls in my ears, but I forgot we had a bag of cotton balls in the hall closet. I put the corgis in their crate, closed the door to the back bedroom, and, yes, I vacuumed the living room, hall, and front bedroom. I tried to be deft and swift, making my every move count, so that I could finish quickly and bring the din of corgi scream barking to an end. Had you seen me darting around our apartment home with our silver Shark, you would have seen a sonnet in motion. I turned off the Shark, felt sudden dread, fearing that the corgis' behavior had degenerated into a bare knuckle MMA cage fight, but, no, they were just screaming and when I released them they ran aimlessly like jack rabbits throughout our apartment home, but soon realized the cleaning crisis was over, and I took them outside where they calmly, and with great relief on their faces, did their business.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/19/16: Remembering Don's Market, Steve Jaynes' Recovery Continues, Busy Weekend Ahead

1.  I spent much of the morning trying to recall memories and details about Don's Market, a grocery store in our neighborhood in Kellogg where I bought baseball cards. learned I was a lousy shoplifter, and occasionally got to sit on a wooden beer crate with my Dad and other neighborhood men while they drank after work beers in the back room. I wrote about Don's Market to fulfill Sibling Assignment #180. It's posted here.

2. I'll use the fact that I wrote Steve Jaynes a card today -- I hope the picture of the Kellogg YMCA will boost his spirits -- as a way to report what I know about his recovery from the torn aorta he suffered.  He's out of Sacred Heart in Spokane and is in rehab in Post Falls at the Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital. Scott Stuart has reported having had good conversation with Steve, meaning that his recovery has advanced to the point where he can have conversation, talk about what's going on, and what he remembers about this episode transpiring. Steve expressed to Scott deep gratitude for all the support people have given him and I was also encouraged to know that Steve enjoyed talking with Scott about some of the stuff that we experienced growing up in Kellogg.

3. It's a busy time in our Maryland family life this coming weekend. Hiram is playing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; his brother, Alejandro, is paying a visit; the Deke's cousin Sally is paying us a visit on Saturday; all of these events require grandchild care and some dog sitting.  I think we got it all figured out this evening with Molly and it will all work out.  This is a relief.

(Let me add a note that some of my Eugene friends might appreciate: the conductor and artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is the former Eugene Symphony conductor, Marin Alsop.  When I found out Hiram got this job, the first thing I wondered was whether Alsop would be conducting this program.  The answer is no.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sibling Assignment #180: The Back of Donnie's Store

Sister Carol gave us the prompt for the latest Sibling Assignment:

Neighborhood grocery stores used to be quite common in Kellogg as we were growing up.  Think about the neighborhood grocery stores that used to be in Kellogg, and write about some memories associated with these stores.  Pick only one store to write about, or several.  If you have a photograph of the store, or where it used to be, share a photo as well.
Christy remembers penny candy at Smelterville's Wayside Market, here.  Carol's post is forthcoming.


When the 1965 fiscal year started in July, the Idaho sales tax arrived.

A few weeks before the tax took effect, I walked into Don's Market on Mullan Avenue in Kellogg and the store's owner, Donnie Rinaldi, had written a sign on butcher paper with black grease pen stating, in essence, that because he didn't want to deal with the paperwork collecting this tax involved, he would be closing the store.

I was 11 years old and this news saddened me. I could walk to Don's Market, simply by heading east on Cameron, turning north on Oregon, walking two blocks, turning right on Mullan and walking a short distance to the store.  Don's Market was my one stop shop for baseball cards and whenever I had a quarter or more to spend, I rushed over to buy packs of cards, get teased by Josephine Wombolt, and indulge myself in the suspense as to what players would be in my new pack.  Would I finally get a Willie Mays card, or would I get my fourth card of Bob Bolin or my sixth copy of Don Mossi?

But, Don's Market was more to me than just baseball cards.

To explain, let me point out that the front of Don's Market was where Josephine held down the cash register and behind her was the penny candy/baseball card area and the rest of the store was stocked with bread and canned goods and a dairy case. Don's Market sold pop and beer. Shoppers could pick up other convenience items.

In the back of the store, Don butchered meat. He took orders at the meat case and filled the orders right behind the case.  Right behind the meat counter and butcher block was a back room, referred to by Dad as "the back of Donnie's store". The back room featured a walk-in cooler and some storage space for overstock.


That cooler.

That cooler was where Donnie stored meat and it was where he stored the beer that wouldn't fit out front.

Now, let me just say that, as a beer drinker, aside from the fact there were no craft beers back then, I'd enjoy it if it were 1963 again in the back of Donnie's store.

Beer used to be delivered and stored in sturdy wooden crates. Remember? If not, here's an Olympia Beer case:

These beer cases were strong enough to bear the weight of a grown adult.

In the back of Donnie's store, in a small open space where no products were stored, Dad and other men who lived in the Sunnyside part of Kellogg, walked into the back of Donnie's store, grabbed a beer crate, and sat in a half circle.

Oh! I left out a detail.  They walked into the back of Donnie's store, strolled into the walk-in cooler, popped open a beer, made some kind of note as to what they owed Josephine up front for the beer, grabbed a beer crate, and sat in a half circle to shoot the breeze and have a few laughs.

Looking back, I'm blown away by this scene. Needless to say, Donnie was not licensed to serve customer's beer in his store. But the illegality of it doesn't blow me away nearly as much as remembering how much these men in their thirties enjoyed having a place to drink beer together that was kind of like a boys' clubhouse or tree house or one of their parents' basement.

I'm not sure why I was included.  Maybe the idea was that Dad would come home sooner and not miss dinner if I were with him. Or did Dad want to help introduce to me to the camaraderie he and his friends experienced in the back of Donnie's store, telling stories, talking about work at the Bunker Hill, giving each other crap, and talking about how the world was going to hell?

Some days, at Don's Market, I wasn't included in the back of the store. Some days, I waited for Dad out in front of the store in our Chevy Impala. So that I'd have something to do, Dad bought me several packs of baseball cards, so I sat in the car, reading my new cards.

I remember one day, I started to get bored out in the car, so I went back into the store.  No one was at the front counter. Maybe Josephine was on a break.  I decided that day to give shoplifting a try and I grabbed a few bits of penny candy and dashed out the store, back to the car, and tried to hide myself out of view of the car windows and ate the candy.

Sunday School teachings at the United Church had worked. I felt so guilty for having swiped that candy that it tasted like ashes and my career pinching penny candy ended that day.

As important as anything I learned at Sunday School, though, was what I learned when I got to grab a crate and sit with the men.

I learned about how lasting friendships get built. I had a period of time in my adult life when I didn't understand what I'd experienced in the back of Donnie's store. I had this idea in head that friendships were formed by talking about books and poems and music and movies and teaching, by making a conscious effort with friends to try to understand the meaning of life.

Then, twenty years ago, Dad was down to the last month of his life.

One after another his drinking buddies came to visit him at our family home.  Dad's friends and Dad gave each other the same old crap they always did, but now the kidding around and the bullshit was more a source of comfort and reassurance than entertainment. The loyalty and deep trust that had built over the years, including in the back of Donnie's store, made it possible for Dad to die on June 1 secure in the love of his good friends and those many friends filled the church on the day of his funeral.

I try to carry forward what I learned in the back of Donnie's store. My Silver Valley friends and I don't have the back room of a neighborhood market, nor do we have wooden beer crates to sit on, to drink beer and pick on each other and talk about work and retirement and how the world is going to hell.

But we have our spots to get together and we have the will to keep getting together so we can not only enjoy our friendships, but are secure in the promise that we will be of comfort to one another when, like Dad, our time is up.

Three Beautiful Things 05/18/16: Getting Closer to *Afro-Vegan*, Not Quite a Mad Dog Margarita, Guy Clark Concert

1. I vaulted into the Sube this morning and made some rounds. I filled up at Costco and buzzed over to Weiss' at the Laurel Corridor and purchased 24 cans of Polar seltzer water -- and I had a fun conversation with the woman who checked me out about her nails after she threatened to sue me if she broke a nail on one of the seltzer boxes. I replied, "I know. I was getting nervous." She got a kick out of that and told me all about how much she loves her nails. After that,  I thought I would return to our apartment home, but I made an executive, unilateral decision and puttered on over to the Hollywood District of College Park and went to MOM's to see if I could find teff. I did! I'm getting closer and closer to having what I need to make Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts, and fixing my first meal from the cookbook, Afro-Vegan.  Looking over the recipe again, I realize I may have to wait until next week to make it, but at least my pantry supply is improving.

2. After flopping around in the relaxing waters of the Greenbelt Aquatic Center for about an hour, I picked up the Deke at school and she wanted to go have a drink at Old Line. Guy Clark died on Tuesday and I really wanted to go to Austin and drink Mad Dog Margaritas in the Chili Parlor Bar ("Dublin Blues"), but I settled for a couple of silver Patron margaritas at Old Line in memory of Guy Clark and in honor of the great songwriting tradition of Texistentialism.

3. Earlier in the day, I'd heard the end of "L. A. Freeway" as a radio story on Guy Clark concluded, so when we returned to our apartment home, I played Guy Clark performing "L. A. Freeway" and "Dublin Blues" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train". Then I played the Highwaymen (Kristofferson, Cash, Jennings, Nelson) performing "Desperados Waiting for a Train" and ended this little concert with a clip from The David Letterman Show. It was a stirring performance:  Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Eric Taylor lined up across the stage, joining forces to sing "Desperados Waiting for a Train."  I never dreamed, even ten years ago, that it would be so easy to sit with a laptop and so easily be able to watch and listen to performances like these just by typing some key words into a search engine and making a few clicks. This is so standard in our lives that it's easy to take it for granted -- but, me? Well, I find it awesome.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/17/16: Cookbook Revival, Co-op Trip, Satisfying Peruvian Potato-Bean Stew

1. For quite a while, I have relied almost exclusively, with great success, on the World Wide Web to find recipes. This approach has been greatly enhanced by my starting a Pinterest account and I also enjoy looking into recipes on sites like Yummly, Epicurious, and others. Lately, however, I have returned to the more tactile experience of consulting cookbooks. My collection is very small. Ha! I can't remember if I gave away cookbooks before moving from Eugene or if a box of them got lost in our move. I recently bought a book of traditional African rooted recipes of the Carribean, the African continent, and the south of our country that don't use meat, called Afro-Vegan. My pantry, however, is not properly equipped yet to cook from his book. My search is underway for markets in the DC-opolis that sell grains and spices and vegetables for African and Carribean cuisine. In addition, many of these recipes are two day undertakings and require more advance planning than is my habit. (You might remember: I'm a lousy planner.) Today, after realizing I couldn't fix a meal from Afro-Vegan, I returned to a gift from sister Christy, Mollie Katzen's Heart of the Plate, and found a perfect recipe for this chilly and rainy May day: Peruvian Potato-Bean Stew.

2. In order to make Peruvian Potato-Bean Stew, I made a trip to the Co-op to purchase some pinto beans, canola oil, a bag of red potatoes, a poblano pepper, an onion, some cilantro, a couple of limes, and garlic.  I already had bell peppers at home.

3. The recipe is simple and the meal is a little bit peppery hot, hearty, and delicious.  All I had to do was saute a chopped onion with chili powder and cumin for about five minutes or so, then add chopped bell pepper, garlic, and poblano pepper (no seeds) and let that cook for another five minutes or so. Then I added in the chopped red potatoes, put the cover on the pot, and cooked that, stirring occasionally, for five or more minutes, after which I added water and cooked the potatoes until tender. Once the potatoes were tender, I added two cans of pinto beans and a can of diced tomatoes, brought the stew to a boil and then simmered it. I added the juice of a lime at the end and the Deke and I put cilantro in the stew in our bowls.  I thought cornbread would taste good with this so I baked some -- and, lo and behold, I was correct! This was a very good dinner. It filled the house with delicious aromas and we have leftovers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/16/16: Finding the Right Locker Room, Evening with Allie, Sweet Nightcap

1. After a good swimming class, highlighted by my discovering that not all aqua noodles are the same and that if I use one with a larger diameter, I can float, I was in the locker room about to get ready to shower when I saw an elderly woman, from our class, opening and closing lockers. This is the fourth time in the last five weeks she has wandered into the men's locker room, disoriented. I approached her and said, "Would you like some help finding the women's locker room?" She replied, "Oh, yes. Thank you." I escorted her back toward the pool and the hot tub to the spot where a turn to the right is into the women's locker room and she went in.  The other guy in the men's locker room who had been showering when she wandered in was good-natured and I told him this was about the fourth week in a row she'd paid our locker room a visit. He laughed and said, "Well, I wasn't sure, what with all this transgender stuff going on!"  Then he got serious and expressed understanding of her being disoriented.  I was really happy he didn't freak out or anything and that he was a good guy.  Each time this woman has wandered into our locker room after swimming class and her visit to the hot tub, she's made me think of Phoenix Jackson, the blind woman in Eudora's Welty's short story "A Worn Path". I've wondered if maybe my swim class classmate is hard of seeing or if there's some other reason she gets disoriented. I really have no idea.  I'll keep an eye out for her again next week.

2. Molly and Hiram returned from their short wedding trip to the Dominican Republic and Allie wrapped up her time looking after Olivia, David, and Ana.  I picked up Allie at the Diazes and then we picked up the Deke at school and the three of us had dinner at the Old Line Bistro and then drove on up to the Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport and dropped off Allie for her flight back to Chicago.

3. The Deke and I returned to our apartment home and split a 12 oz can of DC Brau and Cigar City Brewing's perfect imperial stout, The Wise and the Lovely. It was a sweet chocolate-y way to put a cap on a our excellent evening with Allie and to relax before hitting the sack.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/15/16: Sleeping In, Cleaning in Peace, Jailbreak Ends with the Corgis Back Home

1. With the corgis enjoying a sleepover with the Deke and Allie and Ana and David (Olivia was on a sleepover of her own in Laurel), I slept until 9:00 this morning. What a great pleasure this was.

2. Without Maggie and Charly attacking the vacuum or scream barking in their crate, I not only vacuumed our apartment home, but I took advantage of my solitude to mop the kitchen and bathroom floors, clean surfaces, and, generally speaking, have our apartment home sparkling.

3. Evidently, Maggie and Charly enjoyed not being cooped up in our apartment home and took advantage of a door in the back of the Diazes being left open and went on their version of the incredible journey together in the local neighborhood. They successfully snuck out, unnoticed.  But, Charly had had enough happy wandering and showed up on the back patio and then the Deke led a search and rescue effort to find Maggie.  With the help of some neighbors, the Deke corralled Maggie and no harm was done. If I had been at the Diazes when the corgis got loose?  Just like the other times Maggie, in particular, has gotten loose in Eugene, Kellogg, and Alexandria, my usual calm and easy going manner would have given way to abject fear. Yeah, from time to time, I wish the corgis would red alert bark a little less in our apartment home; some mornings, around 5:30, I would like them to stop insisting with whining and pushing their noses in my face on being fed; and, yes, I wish they'd stop attacking the vacuum cleaner; but, believe me, I do not want to lose them nor do I in any way want them harmed. I'm really happy and relieved this incident -- their first jailbreak in Maryland, by the way -- had such a happy ending.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/14/16: Ah! Three Stars Brewing, Flavor Packed Syrian Soup, The Promise of Quiet

1. I leaped into the Sube and made my way to the dead end of Chillum Place, in an industrial sliver in NW D. C. to sample some beers at the Three Stars Brewing Company.  Why does this company call itself Three Stars?  It's an homage to the flag of Washington, D. C.  Here's the D.C. flag's design, inspired by George Washington's coat of arms:

My twenty minute drive to Three Stars was a complete success. I enjoyed four 1 oz samples for free and then purchased four small beers in a flight. My three favorite beers? Peppercorn Saison, Starsky and Dutch, a sweet Imperial Stout, and Dissonance, a Berliner Style Rye, a sour beer. I went to Three Stars today because I knew that Friday night the brewery released a new Double India Pale Ale called Ultra Fresh in cans only and I bought a four pack of tall boys to share with the Deke and Allie later in the day. We loved this beer and it just might be worth another trip over to Three Stars to see if they still have cans in stock on Sunday.

2. When the Deke and I zoomed in the Sube up to Nyack a few weeks ago, Adrienne gave me a cookbook, Bean by Bean.  It's awesome. Whenever I get a cookbook, it takes me a while to peruse it and I don't usually get anything cooked right away.  Tonight the time had come.  I cooked the first of what will be many dishes from this book.  I made the Syrian Zucchini-Chickpea soup. It was very simple -- onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, chickpeas, bean liquid and water, tomato paste, allspice, cumin, salt, pepper, zucchini, cilantro, and we each squeezed the juice of a lemon into our separate bowls. Allie made perfect cornbread muffins to accompany the soup and this was a superb meal. (A google search of the menu name will give you, if you scroll down far enough, results from the google book version of Bean by Bean. The recipe is on pages 61-62.)

3. To help out Allie with taking care of our grandchildren, the Deke is spending the nights at the Diazes until they return Sunday night.  The Deke offered to have the corgis stay over on Saturday night, giving me the chance to sleep past 5:30 a.m., to have some quiet time in our apartment home, and -- YES! -- to vacuum. Huzzah!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/13/16: 28mm Workout, Geese and Goslings, Asian Chicken Soup for a Cold

1. Today was something like the fifteenth straight day of rain in the greater DC-opolis and I decided to venture out anyway and take some pictures. I continued in my determination to learn how to take pictures appropriate to the possibilities of my Tamron 28mm manual lens and today I snapped away at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. It was my third recent workout with this lens and, at this point, I'm not quite ready to reveal my pictures on this blog -- but, I am keeping a record of my attempts to take good pictures with this lens over at my flickr site -- and if you'd like to see evidence of me trying to get the exposure right and figure out the composition possibilities using this lens, just go here. (I post all my pictures on flickr -- everything, no matter if the pictures are horrible, is included -- having all my pictures stored here helps me a lot as I try to learn how to take pictures I like.)

2. When I was last at the Aquatic Gardens on April 24th, park rangers set orange traffic cones in certain areas to warn park visitors that geese were protecting nests of eggs and to leave the geese alone. Today, I got to see a bunch of the babies that had hatched from those eggs, walking and swimming, in an orderly file behind an adult. I also saw one gaggle of goslings learning how to climb a pond's bank, out of the water, back to a park trail. The adults watched the goslings struggle with finding a good place to leave the water and watched their awkward attempts to climb out. The adults never intervened and it was fun to see these goslings overcome their failures and finally join the adults back on terra firma. By the way, the geese are protective of their goslings, not just their eggs. I kept my distance, but even as careful as I was, my presence inspired a few of the geese to hiss unambiguous warnings aimed at me.

3. Allie is taking care of Ana, David, and Olivia while Hiram and Molly are at a family wedding and she is picking up a cold from the kids.  I had volunteered to fix dinner tonight, so I went to my Pinterest account and did a search for soups that are good for a cold. I found a recipe called Asian Chicken Noodle soup and I liked the looks of it.  It's simple:  chicken, chicken stock, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and fish sauce. I added cilantro and a jalapeno pepper -- about half of its seeds -- I wanted some heat, but not a lot. I fixed rice sticks separately from the soup and, once boiled, added them to the broth and meat. Each of us squeezed the juice of a lime slice into our bowls of soup. I don't know if the soup was physically medicinal, but both Allie and the Deke loved it and our souls were definitely nourished. The recipe is here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/12/16: Bagel Gratitude, Coffee and Cards, Aquatic Agility

1. The new toaster works. I enjoyed a comforting toasted and buttered sesame bagel with coffee this morning. Momentarily, I was back in our sunny kitchen on Madison in Eugene, grateful to have lived so close to Bagel Bakery and to have been so lucky to have relished their bagels for so many years.

2. Late in the morning, I went to Panera to sit at a table with a dark roast coffee and a blueberry scone and to write short letters on cards I had made of a picture I took of Kellogg's YMCA building, my home away from home in my youth. The Y has been closed for many years in Kellogg and the building has stood unused all those years, but, even now, when I walk by it, I swear I can hear the squeaking of our Converse Chuck Taylors and smell the chlorine fog coming up the stairs from the basement swimming pool.

3.  I increased the amount of time I spent in the pool today and added an agility drill we used to do when I was on the 9th grade football team (no wins, six losses). It is fun to do what was torturous in full pads on the Astro-dirt of Kellogg's Teeters Field while wearing a swimming suit in the much less punishing water of the Greenbelt pool.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/11/16: Let There Be Toast, Flopping Around with the Noodle, Jeff Steve's Notes on Life

1. This was a banner day in the funny little life I live with the Deke. After nearly nineteen months since we moved to the DC area, we now have a toaster. I bought one at Costco today. Our little apartment home is short on counter and storage space, BUT, back in February we bought some shelves for the kitchen and now we have a place to put the toaster when it's not in use on a counter. So it only took me nearly three months since the Deke constructed the shelving to buy the toaster, but, as the Deke so correctly says,  "You do everything slow."

2. I can feel it. Slowly, I'm getting more limber. I could feel it today as I flopped around in the pool and did a variety of exercises with the noodle. Back home, I watched some videos and read some articles, searching for ways to add to my noodle routine. You know, I'm talking about one of these things:

3. Jeff Steve, over on Facebook, has been posting notes on life and his brief notes have triggered some of my sweet memories of when I used to teach ENG 107 (Survey of World Literature) and the stuff we did in that class with the Tao de Ching and the poetry of Rumi. It's been fun remembering passages about emptiness and mystery and other of life's eternal truths and posting some Lao-tzu or Rumi poetry on Jeff's wall.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/10/16: Vacuuming in Peace, Fun at the Bistro, Imperial Milk Stout Nightcap

1. I dropped off Maggie and Charly at the vet so they could get a couple of vaccinations and have their nails clipped.  I drop them off rather than have an office visit because the dogs don't mind and leaving off the dogs guarantees me about three to four hours of silence in our apartment home.  Moreover, in the dogs' absence, I can vacuum our humble abode without the dogs attacking the vacuum cleaner or scream barking in their crate.  I never dreamed, when I was young, of a future where I would so fully enjoy vacuuming the carpeting of an apartment, but, ha!, I do, and I especially enjoy vacuuming when I can do it without protest from the dogs.

2. I had a quick dinner in mind to fix tonight -- a red curry rice noodle soup -- so I was going to fix it when the Deke and I arrived back at our apartment home after school. But, before we even got out of the school parking lot, we decided to go to the Old Line Bistro for a couple of beers and to split a burger and fries. Upon arriving, two servers we really enjoy a lot, Kristi and Laura, bounded out to our table to greet us and to report that they'd been "fighting" in the back to see who got to serve us! We were there a little early, before the place got busy, so we had a good visit with Laura while Kristi, the apparent winner of the fight, took our orders and cheerfully served us for the rest of our stay. We had a great time. The Deke relaxed after another trying day at work and we had a fun conversation, reflecting, as we often do, about how very different from anything we've ever known life in Maryland is, especially in contrast to life in Eugene, and talked about the sweet nostalgia we often feel for life in Eugene.  

3.  A couple of months ago, we bought these chintzy 6 oz. glasses at IKEA. We use them often to split 12 oz beers. Often, neither of us wants a whole bottle or can of beer. Splitting a beer works perfectly. Tonight, our nightcap was flawless. It gave me the same fundamental pleasure as a cup of hot chocolate. We split a can of DC Brau/Cigar City's The Wise and the Lovely, an Imperial Stout. It packs a boozy punch with its 10% ABV. It's a smooth chocolate nut candy bar, and, as a milk stout, it's like drinking a glass of cold milk to chase down the candy bar, only the chocolate and the nut and the milk are all combined into a single rush of goodness on the tongue. It's the perfect beer to drink from a 6 oz glass, almost like having a brandy to top off the night, and it left me feeling warm and happy as I gazed upon the freshly vacuumed carpet, enjoyed the sound of easy breathing as the corgis slept, and thought about how I never dreamed I'd be sitting in a basement apartment in a D. C. suburb, living close to grandchildren and making my way around a part of the USA I'd rarely even thought about before. You just never know. . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/09/16: Reading, Flopping and Splashing, Making Greek Pasta Salad

1. I don't really want to get up at 5 a.m., but when the corgis whine and shove their noses in my face to wake me up, most often I surrender. I guess the good thing about being up earlier than I want is that it gives me more hours in the day to write and, this morning, gave me some extra time to read more pages of Seabiscuit. It's funny. After all those years of teaching English, I needed a hiatus from reading -- I think, mostly, I wanted to give my mind a chance to reform itself so that I could read books free of thinking about whether they would be good for assigning in class and free of thinking about how I would teach them or what I'd assign my students to write. I'm making my way, now, through entire books without having these teaching questions rise up and, as a result, I'm enjoying reading books for reasons having nothing to do with the habits of thinking I developed over a long career of teaching. I like that. I enjoy reading for non-professional reasons and I'm enjoying taking an interest in things. like detective work in Baltimore or WWII airplanes or the rise of the auto industry in the 1930s that have nothing to do with anything I ever did in the classroom.

2. The water at the swimming pool seemed warmer than usual this morning and after I flopped and splashed around during today's aerobics class, I stuck around and made up exercises and tried them out, not only to get a little more of a workout, but also because the water soothed me.

3. I found a recipe for a Greek pasta salad and a Greek vinaigrette and both were easy: bow tie pasta, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta, Parmesan, cucumber, and tomatoes and a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper. I thought a bottle of  Pinot Grigio would taste good with this salad and I was right -- and the Deke agreed.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/08/15: Detectives' Lives, Remembering Mother's Day Eve, Drunken Noodles at the Diazes

1. I was up at 5:30 this morning with the dogs and finished my morning routines and decided to watch the next episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets. As this first season develops, I can see that Barry Levinson and the other creators of this series worked, back in 1993, to distance this show from other police story programming on television. In the episode I viewed this morning, nothing happens on the streets. It's a blisteringly hot night in Baltimore and, in the heat of this night, no homicides occur. The episode focuses on the detectives cooped up in their station office with no air conditioning. The absence of policing opens the way for a deeper exploration of the complicated and complex lives of the detectives. By the end of the episode, I was near tears, so moved I had to sit for a while and steady myself, knowing that if I had ever thought about binge watching this show, I couldn't do it.

2. After I gathered myself, I called Mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day, happy that Christy would be hosting a Mother's Day dinner at her house and that my sisters and my mother would be enjoying each other's company. Every year on Mother's Day, I remember that I arrived in Kellogg from Eugene to be with Dad for the last four weeks of his life on Saturday evening, Mother's Day Eve -- it was May 4 when I arrived -- twenty years ago -- Dad died on June 1, 1996.

3. I transported my electric frying pan to the Diazes and stir fried tofu, broccoli, and green pepper, scrambled three eggs to add to it, poured a stir fry sauce I made from scratch over this mixture and then added in the banh pho noodles I fixed, added more stir fry sauce, and we had something like drunken noodles for Mother's Day dinner. That everyone enjoyed this meal made me beam.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/07/16: Visit to Flying Dog, Touring Downtown Frederick, *Homicide: Life on the Streets*

1. The Deke and I climbed into the Sube and headed north and west for a day trip to Frederick. At our initial destination, Flying Dog Brewery we shared a flight of excellent beers, ordered ourselves a most tasty couple of steak and cheese spring rolls from the food booth on the patio and ended our visit with a half pint each of Ella, the latest in Flying Dog's single hop series. Flying Dog's tasting room is airy with a spacious patio and staff eager to help. We arrived soon after it opened on purpose, knowing that Flying Dog is popular and the joint might fill up fast -- and it certainly was doing just that.  We left very happy and look forward to heading out there another time.

2. We eased into the bustling downtown of Frederick, a cozy knot of specialty shops,cafes, and watering holes. Today was MayFest in Frederick and lots of cheery people were out and, after we scanned the shelves at the Curious Iguana bookstore,  we ducked into Jo Jo's, a restaurant and taproom, and the Deke had some soup and I had a plate of corned beef hash with two poached eggs, a buttery biscuit, and a couple cups of coffee. The Deke then strolled down Patrick Street to The Knot House, a yarn store she loved, and I went to the parking garage, retrieved the Sube, and picked the Deke up and we headed south to Rockville for a glass of Surrender Dorothy Rye IPA at 7 Locks and then returned to our apartment home and fed our hungry dogs. It was a fun outing. We enjoyed the thrill of going to places we'd never been and getting to know our new home state of Maryland a little bit better.

3. Once we got settled in back in our apartment home, I watched the first two episodes of the first season of Homicide: Life on the Streets. It's compelling -- the story lines are absorbing, the acting is peerless, and the writing is often perfectly off beat, always shrewd, rhythmic, with its own police station cadence, its own music. I'm really happy that I decided to give this series a shot after reading David Simon's book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/06/16: Laundry Done, Mom Feels a Little Crummy, Hiram Fixes Soup Dinner

1.  As I started to get dressed this morning, it struck me that I didn't have that many clothes to choose from and a light went on in my head:  I haven't done laundry for a while. Ha! So, I did some separating and stripped the bed and spent the next few hours getting my laundry done.

2. When we arrived at the Diazes for an after school visit, Molly and Ana were at the store and Olivia was playing at with Ari at her house and David was upstairs sleeping off his bout with an improving respiratory illness. Hiram seemed to be enjoying the quiet. I took advantage of the lull and slipped into the back room the family uses for school, and called Mom. I had tried the day before, but no answer. Today, however, was successful. Mom was tired. She hasn't felt her best the last couple of days, but she had plenty to tell me about, and we had a good talk about the death of our friend Wayne Benson and I learned a little more about what was happening in the days and weeks leading up to when he died earlier this week.

3. Hiram fixed us a delicious dinner of tomato soup and broiled slices of bread covered with grated cheddar cheese. He also served some fried sausage to put in the soup -- it was kind of an experiement, and a successful one. It's been gray and rainy all week here in the D. C. Metropolitan area and a Friday night soup was a perfect way to warm up this dreary and chilly last several days.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/05/16: Finishing *Unbroken*, Unexpected Trip to DC Brau, Debut of Banh Pho Noodles

1. Over coffee and a bagel at Panera in Beltsville, I almost finished the book Unbroken and then I came home and did finish reading it. I closed the book astonished by Louie Zamperini's capacity for forgiveness which I experienced as also a more general human capacity for forgiveness.  I would never title this book this, but I thought it could be titled, An Anatomy of Forgiveness because the story so beautifully portrays both Zamperini's forgiveness of those abused him and the way this forgiveness is rooted in experience from earlier in his life, especially a mystical experience he had while casting about on the ocean on a raft for over six weeks.

2. When I picked up the Deke from school this afternoon, she surprised me by suggesting we drive south into Washington, D. C. and have a beer at DC Brau, a brewery we both love. Normally, I'm hesitant about driving to D. C. at 5 in the afternoon, but I have discovered a route that is usually uncongested and that was the case late this afternoon. We arrived in under twenty minutes.  The tasting room at DC Brau was quiet, we enjoyed sampling some of their 5th Anniversary beers, and had a good talk.

3. Back at our apartment home, I mixed together soy sauce, a little water, sesame oil, juice from two limes, ginger, garlic, honey, and red pepper flakes and poured it over stir fried eggplant, onion, and red pepper and then combined this mixture with banh pho noodles and it turned out beautifully.  I'm very happy to have discovered the recipe for the sauce and to have imagined that it would taste great over stir fried vegetables. This was the first time I cooked with banh pho noodles and, as I thought she would, the Deke loved them.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/04/16: Sube is Cool Again, Bus Stop Monologist, Kids Tell the Darndest Jokes

1. Once I dropped off the Deke at work, I took the Sube into the Sunoco station and left it off for the day so that Jens could repair its air conditioning unit. It has run for over twelve years without a problem, but I guess time caught up with it and a leaky line had to be replaced.

2. I flopped around in the pool for about an hour after I dropped off the car and rode the bus back to our apartment home. While waiting for the bus, I fell into conversation with a woman who must have been twenty or so years older than I am. She was embarking on a trip to the Greenbelt Metro Station so she could catch a couple of trains and a shuttle bus to George Mason University where she was going to attend and observe the Faculty Senate's meeting where they, as it turns out, decided to ask the GMU administration to put the naming of the law school after Antonin Scalia on hold. She was fired up about this meeting and supported her concerns about how donors corrupt university curriculum by pulling a copy of Jane Mayer's Dark Money out of her book bag. I had heard Jane Mayer interviewed about her book on the radio, so I knew what my new friend was talking about.  Did I say earlier we had a conversation?  Ha! We didn't really. I was a willing audience to her monologue about education, money, the over reliance on part time faculty at universities, courses she takes tuition free at local universities and community colleges, coal mining in Tennessee, Herman Melville, smog, corruption, and her hopes that she would have time to drop in on the Arlington Democratic Party meeting after she was done at George Mason University. Unfortunately, we weren't riding the same bus. Her twelve minute monologue ended when her bus arrived and, as she boarded, we both wished each other well.

3. I walked back to the Sunoco station to pick up the Sube -- I got in just over 7000 steps today -- and the Deke and I went over to the Diazes and the highlight of dinner conversation was listening to David and Olivia make up jokes on the spot.

For example:

David: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don't know.
David: Because the stupid farmer didn't fix the hole in the fence.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/03/16: Blood Draw, Working Out Alone, Steve Jaynes is Improving

1.  I arrived at the lab a couple hours early for my blood draw on the off chance that they weren't busy and could get me in early and my small gamble paid off.  I got in almost right away and now I'll just return in a month so that the UM Transplant Center can continue to receive a monthly sample of my blood.

2. I returned to the swimming pool today and did my best to replicate the workout I go through when I go to class on Monday mornings. Today's workout was very satisfying and relaxing.

3. A good friend I grew up with in Kellogg, Steve Jaynes, suffered a torn aorta and has been in the Caridiac Instensive Care Unit in Cd'A for several weeks. Today, I got a text message from Scott Stuart that was encouraging -- Steve is recovering, will be out of CICU later this week, it looks like, is eating regular food, and is working with a physical therapist. He's been through a tough time and it's heartening to know that he is gradually getting better.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/02/16: Moving My Mortal Shell, In Search Of, Fall Back Food

1. I was back in the pool today flopping and splashing around, getting the heart rate going up a bit, stretching some muscles, and trying to keep this mortal shell I live in moving.

2. Searching at the Co-op, Safeway,two CVS stores, and Target for some allergy medicine for the Deke helped me get in almost 5000 steps today, a good number, especially in tandem with the pool exercising. I never found the medicine a parent recommended she buy, but it looks like what I did buy is giving the Deke some relief and she said tonight she was almost feeling human again.

3. I enjoyed perusing a new cookbook I bought of meatless African dishes, but my kitchen is not quite equipped to fix the ones that caught my eye and I think cooking from this book might require a trip to one of the international groceries, probably in Adelphi. But, I had rice on hand and black beans and onion and garlic and yellow and orange peppers and the spices, red wine, vinegar, and brown sugar I need to make the simple and always reliably tasty black beans and rice dish we love, so we had it for dinner. I'll try get to work on those other recipes over the next several days.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 05/01/16: Reading and Knitting, Gratitude at Quench, Fantastic Dinner at the Diazes

1.  Turns out the Deke and I are compatible travelers when it come time to be leavin' on a jet plane. We both love leaving for the airport early so that if we hit any snags, there is no panic.  This morning, we took off way early for the Detroit airport. We gave ourselves plenty of time to negotiate the unexpected exit closure and detour. We had plenty of time to return our rental car and catch the shuttle to the airport.  We hadn't checked in online before arriving at the airport and we had plenty of time to go up to the desk, check in, check our suitcase through (we both hate carrying suitcases on to the plane!), and fly through security. THEN, we had plenty of time to enjoy a snack and a coffee at Starbucks and to get a lot of reading and knitting done while we waited to board the plane.

I got to thinking about how fidgety and restless the Deke and I aren't -- never once, as we waited to board the plane, did we ever feel the desire to pace, shake pocket change, or grumble about having arrived so early.

I read Unbroken.

The Deke knit.

We were content.

2. Once we collected our suitcase at BWI, we stepped outside to where the BWI parking shuttles board passengers and rode to the long term parking lot, found the Sube, and headed down I-95 and across MD 200 to New Hampshire Ave. where we strode happily into the taproom at Quench and I enjoyed some beer from California I'd never heard of and can't now remember the name of and the Deke had some white wine.  It was enjoyable to hoist a drink in gratitude that we traveled so well together, that all went smoothly, and that we got to help Phylllis celebrate 90 good years of being alive and loving life.

3. If I am wrong, I hope Molly or Hiram will correct me, but I do believe that awesome carry out food that awaited the Deke and me when we arrived at the Diazes was from Maurya Kebabs and Curries located in the Maryland Farms Shopping Center on Cherry Hill Road. Wow.  Did I ever enjoy the curried chickpeas, the basmati rice, the incredible chicken dishes, and the samosas. Such delicious food brought our eventful weekend to a perfect conclusion. So, the Deke and I piled the corgis into the backseat and headed home, wishing that Monday did not mean the beginning of another week of noise and testing and administrative micro-managing for the Deke at her school. . . . but feeling like we've got it pretty good being able to get away to celebrate Phyllis' birthday and living in a place where it's just not that difficult to see family in Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, or Indiana -- as well as right here in Maryland -- AND be able to get away to Idaho and Oregon on occasion....

Three Beautiful Things 04/30/16: Day In, Ingcredible Lunch, Feting Phyllis

1.  Allergies besieged the Deke, starting a couple of days ago, and today she took full advantage of being away from home, in a quiet room at the Hampton Inn in East Lansing, and slept most of the day in preparation for celebrating Phyllis's 90th birthday. I took advantage of the situation in my own way and sat in a comfortable chair in our room, put my feet up, and continued reading Unbroken, by turns a most absorbing and disturbing book.

2. Around noon or so, I strolled over to a Chinese take out place called Ingcredible and ordered some chicken fried rice, pepper steak and white rice, and shrimp lo mein noodles and brought the order back to the room for me and the Deke to split. The food wasn't great, but it didn't need to be. We just needed something uncomplicated to eat in our room while the Deke continued to treat her burning eyes and fend off the allergy attack.

3. Around six, we loaded ourselves up in the Kia Soul and blasted over to the University Club of Michigan State University where the Chirico family had rented a ballroom to host the nearly 100 people who attended their mother's 90th birthday celebration. Phyllis is the Deke's stepmother.  She was the Deke's dad's second wife and Phyllis and the Deke have remained close and good friends over the years since the Deke's dad's died about 25 years ago. The celebration featured an hour of mingling with drinks, some introductory remarks about Phyllis as we got seated, a dinner, and then post-dinner entertainment, including Phyllis, a longtime veteran of the theater, singing a couple of tunes. The evening ended with family pictures while a DJ played a variety of music that spanned the length of Phyllis's life and many people danced. It was an intense night -- in a good way. The Deke got to visit with her step-siblings and catch up with their young adult kids. Joy filled the room and throughout the entire evening, Phyllis beamed.

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/16: Early Birds, Smooth in Detroit, Perfect Evening at BAD Brewing

1.  The Deke and I thought and thought, trying to figure out if we had ever flown anywhere together. Each of us has flown to different destinations alone multiple times since we got married in 1997, but we concluded that the only flight we've made together was to Austin, TX back in May, 1998. But, here's what we know about each other:  we hate the last minute. We hate to rush. We like to get going early. So, this morning, we piled into the Sube and gave ourselves plenty of time to possibly encounter slow traffic on the BW Parkway, to have the bus shuttle be late at long term parking, and to encounter long lines at the Delta counter or at TSA. I brought Unbroken to read.  The Deke brought knitting. We both wanted to eat lunch before our flight -- so if we got to our waiting area pretty early, we were set.

Ahhhhh. Everything went smoothly.  We had plenty of time to eat a sandwich at Quiznos. When we boarded we were relaxed, unhurried, and ready to enjoy our flight to Detroit.

2. Once we landed in Detroit, we had no reason to rush at the airport. We took our time and figured out where to pick up our suitcase at which carousel, figured out where to board the shuttle to Enterprise, were relaxed when we piled into our Kia Soul, and had no anxiety when the traffic was slow between Detroit and East Lansing -- where we found the Hampton Inn with no problem and quickly and easily got checked into our room.

I carried my manila folder of timetables and boarding passes and confirmation sheets with confirmation numbers with me to Delta, Enterprise, and the Hampton Inn and my mind was at ease as we made each transaction.

3. Once settled in our room, the Deke and I bolted in the Soul twenty minutes south to Mason, MI and plopped down at BAD Brewing Company to sample their beers and order food from the food truck out back.  The beers were good, not great, but they didn't need to be great. We were at a perfect spot, a cozy, small town brewery, no flash, nothing fancy, and really friendly. Most of the customers were old codgers like ourselves, so we felt like we fit right in.  We split the best BLT we've ever eaten and split an order of hand cut fries from the food truck and soon the Deke's step-sister, Nella, joined us and her arrival topped off a great evening of new beers, superb food, and lively conversation.

This was the perfect way to launch our weekend in Michigan for the celebration of Phyllis' 90th birthday.