Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/30/16: Mom's Status, Bev Turns 80, Yakkin' at the Redtail Bar and Grill

1.  The cough and sore throat that bothered Mom last week are improving, helping Mom sleep better and rest more comfortably. She started the new medication meant to address her heart problems and we are hopeful that her heart rate will slow down and she will be less tired.

2. I got to see Jake and Carol Lee today because Jake's mom, Bev, turned eighty years old and her family put on a celebration picnic at Gene Day Park in Osburn.  The turnout was really good, Bev was very happy, and, as Ed and I left, Jake and Carol and Alan's band was getting warmed up and putting out very good music.

3.  Ed and I took a trip to the CdA Casino and while we were enjoying the Redtail Bar and Grill's hearty beef stew, I fell into conversation with a guy about my age who had worked over thirty years ago on the construction of the Metro subway/train system in the Washington, D. C. and we discussed the impact of the system on the growth and improvement of the D.C. metro area.  As we talked, I felt dismay that the Metro system is having so many problems, because if that train system works well, it is a boon to all aspects of everyday life and the economic health of our nation's capital.  On a lighter note, I also learned about where my pal at the bar used to eat superb fried chicken and oysters in the south and east of Maryland.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/16: Heart Clinic Visit, Yoke's Shout Out, Gin and Plans

1.  Mom and I piled into her Malibu and entered into a zone of uncertain anticipation as we climbed the 4th of July Pass and buzzed around the north shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene on our way to the Kootenai Heart Clinic Northwest where we met up with Christy who was running errands in Coeur d'Alene.  In the exam room, we discussed what we knew: Mom's heart is experiencing atrial fibrillation. The forty-eight hours Mom spent with a heart monitor strapped to her last week gave the staff a detailed record of the atrial fibrillation and now there's a plan in place with medication to regulate her heart followed up with a visit with her cardiologist on August 19th to see how the medicine is working. Our hope is that this treatment will not only help Mom's heart function better, but alleviate her of the fatigue she's felt over the last several weeks.  Mom left the clinic happy to know this plan is in place and we hustled home, after she had some blood work done, so she could have some lunch and I could get her new medicine.

2. The pharmacy at Yoke's didn't have enough pills on hand to fill Mom's new order.  Let me digress for a second. This about the third or fourth time I've faced some kind of a problem at Yoke's Pharmacy and every single time, the people working there have been unfailingly helpful and cheerful. The pharmacist had enough pills on hand to dole out four days worth for Mom and I'll pick up the rest of the order on Monday afternoon.  The good service at Yoke's roused my gratitude for the superb service I've experienced over the last dozen years or so at Hiron's on 18th in Eugene, at the Target near Groveton in Alexandria, and at the Co-op in Greenbelt.

3.  After dinner, I strolled over to Christy and Everett's for a little gin over ice and discussed our plans for the next few days, especially because I get to go to Osburn for Bev Jacobs' 80th birthday party and take a trip to Worley for some food, drink, and reel spinning at the casino and see friends on Monday and Tuesday, if everything works out. I like to know what Christy and Carol are up to when I leave town and know that no one will ever be far from Mom's house when I'm gone.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/16: Mom's Cough Improves, First Corned Beef, Martini Nightcap

1. Mom talked with the professional at the heart clinic to find out if there was a reading of the heart monitor she wore last week and the upshot of her conversation was an appointment on Friday, the 29th. The best news about Mom today was that the cough that has bothered her for well over a week is subsiding.

2. Mom spotted a sale on corned beef a day or two ago. I had never cooked corned beef before, so I read up on it and at about nine in the morning put carrots and onions in the bottom of the crock pot, laid the corned beef on top of it, poured beef broth and beer over the corned beef, added spices and let the liquids bubble for a few hours and then added red potatoes and cabbage and we ate our dinner on the comfortable deck at about 5:30.  I have to say, my first go at cooking corned beef was a success.

3. After Mom went to bed around 9:00, I slipped next door to Christy's for a couple of gin martinis and shot the breeze for a whle, a relaxing way to close the day.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/16: My Sisters Buoy Mom's Spirits, Wedding Preparations, Throwback Dinner

1. Carol is coming over to Mom's in the morning to make her breakfast and lunch and to do other tasks. Not only is this a great help in keeping Mom's household running and an aid to her physical comfort, and, even more, it's a boost to Mom's morale that she can count on Carol's company each morning. As a bonus, Carol brings the family Pomeranian, Sadie, over and Mom coos over her and gives her a treat.  It's an uplifting way for Mom to start the day. Today, Mom says she felt "so-so", but she was doing slightly better than the previous couple of days. I know her day was made better by Christy coming over, Carol coming over and returning, and by the conversations they had about the wedding shower for Molly that Christy will host in a couple of weeks and other things.

2. I will be the officiant for Scott and Cate's wedding in October. Today I worked with the outline of the service they sent me to start to compose the words of the service and I read a variety of poems and other passages that might bring inspiration and dignity to their ceremony.

3.  I was happy that the ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup I combined in a bowl fried up fairly well and gave Christy, Mom, and me the illusion we were eating meatloaf for dinner. We all enjoyed the red potatoes I boiled and fried, seasoned with bacon and onion, and the salad I made from lettuce I harvested in Mom's back yard. For old times' sake, we also enjoyed a can of Del Monte whole kernel corn and, for a minute, I thought I was back at the family dinner table fifty years ago.  Canned corn was a staple.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/16: Mom Update, Dinner on the Deck, Longing

1.  Mom continues to be fatigued, but her energy was better today than yesterday.  She tried to take a nap late in the afternoon, but she couldn't sleep once she lay down on her bed.  She hasn't heard news just yet about the reading of her heart monitor and I think the waiting is making her anxious. The plan was to hear from the clinic on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I hope we get some news on Wednesday.

2.  I assumed dinner responsibilities tonight and found a simple recipe involving ground beef, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and seasonings. The recipe called for this mixture to be put in the oven. That didn't make sense to me, so I combined and cooked the ingredients (I added red pepper) in the cast iron skillet and then put it all in the crock pot. I boiled some noodles (or is it pasta? I'm not sure), let them cool, and added them into the crock pot about a half an hour before dinner. I also baked beer bread from a box mix and added celery, radishes, cucumber, and grape tomatoes to a Caesar salad kit to make a salad. Christy, Everett, Mom, and I enjoyed this dinner on Mom's deck, relieved as the ninety degree day slowly cooled off in the evening shade.

3.  The Deke sent me a picture of the interior of Quench, one of our favorite taprooms in Maryland. It made me happy that she was enjoying a couple beers and a wrap. At the same time, I couldn't suppress the feeling of longing to be with her, talking things over, having a few laughs, and enjoying some offerings from Quench's always reliable tap list.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/16: Farewell, Breakfast in CdA, Mom Overcomes Fatigue

1.  I woke up this morning on the ninth floor of the Red Lion at the Park and gazed nostalgically at Riverfront Park and other Spokane landmarks and bridges before getting cleaned up and sadly driving the Deke to the Spokane International Airport and watched her disappear pulling her suitcase toward the checkout counter. Now my decision looms: when do I return to the Old Line State?

2.  On my way back to Kellogg, I stopped in Breakfast Town (my nickname for Coeur d'Alene) at the Breakfast Nook and relished the three plump sausage links, a couple of eggs over medium, crispy hash browns, sourdough toast and several cups of solid diner coffee I ordered.

3.  I didn't get a chance at dinner to ask Christy what went into the way she combined leftover cabbage and pork chops into the delicious, kimchi-like dish we had tonight in hers and Everett's back yard. I loved it. I was also happy that Mom made it over to Christy's. Mom had had a very tired day. She was feeling the fatigue of having gone to see The Music Man in Coeur d'Alene on Sunday. At about four in the afternoon, after nodding off and waking herself up in her chair all day, she submitted to her fatigue and took a nap in her room, something she does only very rarely. I think that nap did her a ton of good, helping her rally not only to go to dinner, but to make a tour with me of her tomatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, and other garden delights.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/16: Mom's Day Out, Back to the Daft, Blackbird Beers BONUS! Manito Tap House

1.  It was good to see Mom get a little bit gussied up and head off to Coeur d'Alene with Carol and Paul to see a production of The Music Man at the Kroc Center.  I learned by messages I received later in the day from Christy and Carol that Mom enjoyed the show a lot and was pretty tired by the time she returned home.

2. Today was the Deke's last day in the Inland Empire before flying back to Maryland on Monday, so we did a little going out together before spending the night at the Red Lion at the Park in Spokane.  We began our fun afternoon and evening at the Daft Badger and split a heavenly basil and pesto BLT. Our beers were superb: the Deke had a couple small Summer's Envy and I was kind of blown away by my small pour of Windigo Indian Brown Ale and, for dessert, I enjoyed a Perfect Peach ale.  For many reasons, I wish the Deke could stay longer, but maybe what I'll miss the most when I'm here in North Idaho without her is enjoying the splendid food and beer at the Daft Badger.

3.  Once in Spokane, we strolled across the street from the hotel to the Blackbird Tavern and sat at the bar and enjoyed short pours of a couple of old favorites.  Because it was a limited release ale, I never thought I'd drink a Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 001 again. It disappeared from where we drink and buy beer in Maryland a couple of months ago, but the Blackbird had a keg on tap and I loved tasting it again.  The Deke hadn't had a Breakside Carmel Salted Stout since we left Oregon in 2014 and she and the stout had a happy reunion. We ended our session at Blackbird by sharing a 7 oz pour of Lost Abbey's Angel's Share, a beautiful and potent brandy barrel-aged American Strong Ale. It was boozy, hoppy, and brandy sweet all at the same time.

BONUS!  Later on, the Deke and I cruised by the Altadena Apartments where I lived thirty-two years ago on our way up Grand Boulevard and dinner at the Mantio Tap House where I ate a filling and delicious blackened mac and cheese and the Deke loved her Caesar salad.  Once again, short pours: the Deke loved her Brother Double IPA from Fremont Brewing and I transported myself back to Eugene for a Ninkasi Maiden the Shade.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/16: Remembering the Kopper Keg, Chef Christy, *CSI:Miami*

1.  It was a slow day here at Mom's and so I took some time to complete the latest Sibling Assignment by writing about the good times I had at the Kopper Keg in Kellogg over forty years ago and also wrote about all the stuff I never did, about what a cautious and tame guy I was, leading me to think sometimes that I'm not really a true North Idahoan the way so many of my friends are -- friends who can regale me for hours with stories of the wild stuff they used to do.  You can read my post, here.

2.  Christy prepared an awesome dinner and she and Everett walked it through the back yard gate over to Mom's deck.  Christy cooked up juicy pork chops, made a creative rice dish, assembled a very tasty cole slaw, and warmed up a chewy baguette.  She topped off this little feast with a strawberry cake served with Tillamook strawberry ice cream. All I did was cook up some broccoli.  The evening air was perfectly comfortable, making our dinner even more enjoyable.

3.  I don't know if CSI: Miami, with its fashion magazine looking characters and its forensic work being done in a setting that looks like a space ship and its whooshy production values is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I sure get a kick out of it. I especially find myself laughing out loud at the world-weary, melodramatic, laconic Lieutenant Horatio Caine and his sideways body language, cheesy one-liners, and strategic removing of his sunglasses. I watched a couple episodes tonight and marveled at the beautiful people, the bright tropical colors, and the outlandish story lines and enjoyed having some laughs -- hoping I was laughing with the show, not at it!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sibling Assignment #183: The Kopper Keg and Who I've Never Been and Who I Am Today

About a week ago, I thought up this assignment for me and my sisters.  Here it is:

Last night I was in Best Shots. I admired how it looks now and remembered what it looked like over forty years ago. It triggered memories and stories about the Kopper Keg back in my college days. Write about a place you have been to recently in Kellogg, Cd'A, Moscow, or anywhere else, that is different now than it was in your late teens or early twenties. Write about the physical place then and now and the memories and stories the place triggers. 
Christy revisits and remembers the old Sunnyside Elementary School building, here.  Carol's post is still to come. 

The Best Shots Sports Bar looks way different than the good old Kopper Keg did.  The air hockey table is gone. Gone are the pool tables. If the walls were decorated back in the old Kopper Keg, I suppose it would have been with beer signs and plaques advertising Lucky Lager beer. Now, the walls boast life-like pictures of Gonzaga men's baskeball players and coaches along with tributes to other sports and images from the events of 09/11/01. 

Both times that I've been to Best Shots in the last couple of weeks, the place started filling up with ghosts of my nights in there back in 1973, soon after I reached Idaho's drinking age of 19, through the next few years. 

Many of these memories came back last night when I was sitting around a bonfire up the North Fork with friends I graduated from high school with.  Stories surfaced.  Goose and Lars put in at Silverton with plans to float the Lead Creek from there to the Kopper Keg. A fight broke out one night when Wayne Sharp knocked over my friends' five dollar pitcher of Bloody Marys.  I remembered stories of my friends closing down the Kopper Keg and going on road trips in the middle of the night to British Columbia or western Montana or to other places in North Idaho.  I remember hearing about picking up girls with the help of CB radios.  I remember hearing about shooting guns at Montana cattle or scaring guys fishing the Clark Fork River. 

These stories make me laugh.

They also remind me how tame I was in my late teens and early twenties and how I am, in so many ways, not what is usually thought of as a North Idaho guy.

Except for the fact that I worked at the Bunker, I don't have much North Idaho "street cred". 

I never went on a not-long-after-midnight road trip.

I never played illegal black jack or any other card game in the Kopper Keg's back room. Or anywhere else.

It's made me think of all the other things my friends from high school talk about that I never did.

I never owned a gun.

I haven't shot a firearm since I took NRA safety training in junior high.

I've never gone hunting.

I've operated a four-wheeler once. 

I have never skied.

I never visited a whore house in Wallace. 

I fished a couple of times off a dock at Rose Lake before I was a teen -- and never fished again.

Until our senior party in late May, 1972, I never went to a keg party in high school.  I didn't really start drinking beer until my first year of college.

I water skied once.

I've never operated a motorcycle.

Until I joined high school friends in July, 2007 for my first shot at it, I had never floated the North Fork in an inner tube, on a raft, or in any other way.

I never dove or jumped off the Black Bridge or the Silver Bridge. Or any other bridge anywhere.  In fact, I rarely jumped off the high dive at the Kellogg City Pool.

When my friends get together, and the stories start to roll out, I don't have any to tell.  All I can ever say is, "Wasn't there a time you guys rented an RV for a Schweitzer Basin blow out? Wasn't there a time you did something like push someone's car over the U.S./Canada border because it had a flat tire or something? Didn't someone push Hog's car into the North Fork?"  

I w
asn't there for any of this stuff and I'm not even sure I have the facts right when I bring them up.

All the same, even though I don't have any great stories to tell, I love remembering afternoons and nights at the Kopper Keg. 

What did I enjoy so much? 

Well, the thing I enjoyed the most was nights when I strolled in and drank beer and shot the breeze with friends. 

I was going to school at North Idaho College and other friends were working in Kellogg, others joined the military, and others went to college in Moscow or Pocatello or Spokane or Walla Walla -- and maybe other places, too.

I'd go a while without seeing friends and either by design or by accident, we'd all pop into the Keg.

I remember one night, maybe it was my sophomore year, I'm not sure, Terry Turner and some friends decided on the spur of the moment to take a road trip from Pocatello to Kellogg and so, on this night, I was sitting in the Keg over a schooner of Lucky Lager, and, suddenly, a cry went up from near the door:  "TURNER!"

Suddenly a relaxing evening turned into an adrenaline rush and we bought pitchers of beer and the stories and laughs started to cascade and I was in my element, one of my best friends was back home with friends from his school and we got to help them enjoy life at the Kopper Keg.

I really haven't changed much over the last forty years or so when it comes to drinking beer.

The closest I ever came to doing anything wild was at our KHS ten year reunion when Don K. and I sat on the rack on Turner's car trunk, going from Dirty Ernie's to the Kopper Keg, holding a bottle of beer in one hand, and waving to the imaginary crowds lining McKinley Avenue for the Elks parade with the other.  When we saw Officer Dan Schierman pass us going the other way, we threw our beer bottles against the wall beneath John George's house, and, when we got pulled over in the parking lot across the street from the Keg, we told the officer we would clean up the beer bottle glass and go home, and then immediately disobeyed him by not cleaning up the glass and going back to Dirty Ernie's where we drank deep into the morning, long after the joint should have closed.

To this day, just like at the Kopper Keg, I love getting together with friends, whether friends from my Kellogg days or friends from Eugene, drinking some beer, and shooting the breeze.

These sessions today, just like my sessions at the Kopper Keg, don't leave me with great stories to tell, but they make me very happy.

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/16: Good Boring Day, Elks Club Burgers, Bonfire Up the River

1.  It was a low key day at Mom's today -- the house cleaner came in, Lura and Lyle headed back to Orofino, Mom finished her 48 hours with the heart monitor and Christy returned it to CdA, I got Mom's laundry done, and I went to the Humdinger and picked up Mom and the Deke burgers and fries. If this all sounds boring, it was the good kind of boring.

2. I raced out to Kingston and picked up Ed and the skies opened up and we drove through a good old North Idaho downpour to where Wanda and Sharon have property up the North Fork and sat in the Malibu waiting for the deluge to stop when my cell phone rang. I answered. It was Stu.

Stu: "Hi! Where are you?"
Me: "Up the river."
S. "No one's there."
M. "I know. It's raining."
S. "We're all at the Elks for burgers."
M. "Oh. See ya soon."

So Ed and I jetted down I-90 under a double rainbow to the Kellogg Elks Club and sat down at a round table with Stu, Joni, Wanda, Lars, and Goose for a couple of beers and the best cheeseburger and hand cut fries I've eaten in years.

3. Our party moved from the Kellogg Elks Club back up the river. Goose had a couple of Montana IPAs in his cooler, so I got to enjoy a Big Sky IPA and, later, I took a can of Double Haul IPA home.  I'll enjoy it as soon as possible.  It was great to see Danny and Sharon and sit in a circle around a crackling bonfire -- lots of great stories and getting caught up with friends I've know for practically my whole life.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/16: Heart Monitor Glitch, Good Beer Talk, Chef Lura

1.  Mom is wearing a heart monitor and it came apart during the night and so she lost some time having her heart rate measured and lost sleep trying to put it back together again. She got the cord hooked back into it, but she lost sleep and was tired throughout the day.

2. The Deke and I slipped away for a little while and enjoyed some small beers and good conversation at the City Limits, and, after we returned to Mom's, the Deke decided to change her flight back to Maryland and leave on Monday instead of on Friday.

3.  Lura threw a ham into the crock pot and smashed up some potatoes and we had a great dinner on Mom's back deck. It was especially good that Mom rallied and had a good time eating with the rest of the family.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/20/16: Mom's Check Up, Hi Dale!, Delicious Family Dinner

1. Mom and Christy and I drove down to Coeur d'Alene so Mom could have a check up at the heart clinic. Mom got a good report, keeping in mind that she is experiencing Stage C heart failure. As with my experience with Stage IV kidney disease, the goal is staying steady, not getting worse. Mom's blood pressure and weight have been stable over the last two weeks and her high heart rate is a concern. Mom came home wearing a heart monitor for forty eight hours with the likelihood that she'll have the dosage increased for a medicine that slows down her heart rate. All in all, all things considered, it was a positive visit.

2. I took Mom's car down to the service center for an oil change and, on my walk back to Mom's, Dale Costa saw me, called out my name, and we had a fun talk about how much he is enjoying retirement and shared news about our families.

3. Carol and Paul hosted a dinner cooked by their future son-in-law, Travis, who loves to cook and is really good. He prepared grilled chicken with a huckleberry coating, bacon wrapped dates (or were they figs?), and a pasta salad. It was a comfortable evening under the generous shade of the Roberts' tri-color beech tree and it was fun getting Lura, Lyle, the Deke, Mom, Christy, Everett, Carol, Paul, Molly, and Travis all together for a great dinner.  Mom needed to go home early, so I brought her back, and later the get together continued in Christy and Everett's back yard. I have to admit that I pooped out early during the post-party party. I simply ran out of energy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/19/16: Joni at Fred Meyer, Mixed Day for Mom, Southern Indiana Cuisine

1. After I cut and cleaned some lettuce in Mom's garden, helped her organize her bedroom closet, loaded up some stuff for the Salvation Army, and threw some other stuff in the garbage, the Deke and I drove to Coeur d'Alene to do a little shopping at Fred Meyer and I heard a voice called out, "Hey, Mr. Woolum!" and there was Joni! What a surprise! We had a nice conversation and secured some plans to get friends together for a party in August.

2.  It was a good day socially for Mom. Sue Kerns visited her in the morning and later in the day my cousin, Lura, and her husband, Lyle, arrived for a visit.  Unfortunately, Mom wasn't feeling well after a second night of lousy sleep and a sore throat, so when it came time to have dinner outside over at Christy and Everett's, Mom stayed inside.

3.  I enjoyed cooking for our dinner with Lura and Lyle. I made wilted lettuce for the first time ever and I fixed a mess of green beans and bacon and both contributions went over well.  This pleased me greatly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/18/16: Mom's Best Medicine, Kitchen Take Over!, On the Deck

1. I woke up and came upstairs to find Mom weary after a lousy night's sleep. She'd been up since 5 o'clock, troubled during the night by dreams about her medication schedule. She was short of breath and decided to use her oxygen while sitting in her chair, something she hasn't done since I've been here.  As the morning progressed, Mom rallied. Naps helped. So did having the Deke and I in the house along with a visit by Jane from next door and Christy coming over. There's not a doubt in my mind that companionship is the best medicine, no matter the size of the dose, although this is one thing in life where more is better.

2. For the first time since arriving in Kellogg ten days ago, I took over the kitchen! I fixed an electric frying pan dinner of ground beef, onion, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, and red potatoes topped with some grated cheddar cheese,  accompanied by a bowl of sliced sweet onions and cucumber in rice vinegar. I couldn't remember if I'd ever fixed this for Mom before, so I was very happy when she said she enjoyed this dinner a lot.

3. Mom headed into bed a little earlier than usual tonight after having a lousy night last night, and the Deke and I went over to Christy and Everett's deck for a drink and some conversation and laughs until a storm started to roll in, sending us dashing for cover back in Mom's house. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/17/16: Back to the Patch, Back to City Limits, Potato Soup, BONUS! Tucker

1.  Mom's raspberry plants are down to their last berries and so she put on her sun hat and long sleeve shirt and pushed her all-terrain walker to the northwest corner of her back yard and, together, we finished off the harvest. Mom needed me to help her move the chair she picks in from spot to spot and to help steady her while on her feet, but she needed little help doing the picking and we had fun.  Next up:  lettuce!

2. Patrick, the Deke, and I climbed into Mom's Malibu and admired the hills, mountains, and trees as we drove to Wallace to stop in again at the City Limits Brew Pub where we enjoyed some Sunset Red ale, Patrick ate some nachos to fuel his drive back to Portland, we enjoyed lively conversation, and brought a growler of Sunset Red back to Kellogg.

3. Christy and Everett joined Mom, the Deke, and me on Mom's deck for a delicious dinner of the Deke's family famous potato soup. It was fun to have memories come back of family life in Eugene with Adrienne, Patrick, and Molly and to remember how much they loved it when the Deke made this soup -- and so did I! Christy and Everett were closing out a day of rest after an intense Saturday involving Everett's son's funeral and dinner afterward and a late and emotional night for Christy at the James Taylor concert in Spokane.

BONUS! Christy and Everett adopted a heeler and named him Tucker. Tucker is a rescue dog and, as a younger dog, might have been mistreated by a man. He's wary of men. But, Friday night, Patrick won over Tucker's trust with the help of playing with him with a dog toy. Early this afternoon, while I was sitting on Christy and Everett's back porch, Tucker laid down beside me, licked my hands and, from time to time, rose up and licked my face. Tucker came over to Mom's for dinner and we continued to build a friendship. I love having a new friend in Tucker and love seeing his trust grow in the world Christy and Everett have created for him.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/16/16: Wal Mart Trip, City Limits Dinner, Metro Tour

1.  Mom and I piled into her Malibu and buzzed out to the Smelterville Wal Mart. I went really well. A handicap spot near the door was open and I brought a shopping cart over to the car and Mom used it as substitute for a walker.  Together, we got the goods on her list, covering quite a bit of the store. Mom, a checker, and a store manager got her coupons figured out and, with help, Mom completed the transaction at the credit card machine where she slid her card into the bottom, using the chip reader. A few steps away, Mom sat on a bench and reviewed her receipt, item by item, found no errors, and we went over to customer service where Mom returned, without a hitch, an item she bought a few weeks ago.  I'd like to help Mom make more little trips like this -- especially during this period of time when her pain shots are working. She often gets up to two months of relief from these shots -- the shots, however, come in three month intervals. The store walking exercise is good for her treatment of congestive heart failure.

2. Mom also wanted a couple of things from Yoke's and Stein's, but she'd had enough walking at Wal Mart, so she took it easy at home, and I picked them up myself. Rested, Mom was ready a couple of hours later for a trip to Wallace's City Limits Brew Pub and an early dinner.  Mom, the Deke, Patrick, and I zoomed up to Wallace and enjoyed dinner together. We gave the new walker a restaurant test drive and it performed splendidly. Mom slid easily into the joint and the seat on her walker sat higher than a restaurant chair, not only giving her a way to sit at the table, but saving her the difficulty of getting into and out of one of these lower chairs. This all was a great relief and made me very happy.

3.  After dinner, we all went on a short tour of the Kellogg/Wardner metropolitan area, and admired the torn up streets for the ongoing sewer project and talked about Dad's life in Wardner and looked at the house we lived in on E. Portland until we moved into Mom's current house in 1962.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/15/16: Mom's New Walker, Daft Badger Lunch, Back Yard Dinner BONUS! Best Shots

1.  The Deke, Patrick, and I piled into Mom's Malibu and jetted off to Coeur d' Alene and, after gassing up and picking up a few things at Costco, we headed over to Bellevue Healthcare and the Deke and I purchased Mom a new walker, a narrower one, one with four wheels,  equipped with a basket, a snap on and off tray, and a seat. When we brought it home, it was a great relief to watch Mom make her way through narrow passages in the house with some ease and to know that when no one is around to bring Mom a bowl of fruit or cereal or to bring her a sandwich on a plate, she can transport it herself on the tray. I'm going to help Mom find and purchase a cup holder, too.  I hope that this better walker helps Mom in her determination to live more independently in her home.

2. After we purchased the walker, the Deke and I introduced Patrick to the superb food and and beer at Daft Badger.  The Deke decided, because we like to do this sort of thing, that we will call it the Draft Dodger, but, whatever we call it, we now know that if we ever lived near Coeur d'Alene, we'd be enjoying the beers and splitting sandwiches at the Daft Dodger as often as possible. The Daft Badger is one of our favorite places anywhere -- Eugene, Portland, Spokane, Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, Washington, D. C. --anywhere.  This afternoon, the scene at Daft Badger was perfect: it was a temperate, breezy day, very comfortable to sit outside where a group of guys played cornhole in the parking lot and people of all ages filed in and out to enjoy Daft Badger's tasty offerings and impeccably friendly and efficient service. Alysha served us and she made our lunch even more fun and enjoyable.

3.  With Patrick in town, Carol, Paul, Mom, the Deke, Patrick, Christy, Everett, and I swarmed into Christy and Everett's back yard and, after a huckleberry lemonade cocktail, enjoyed a salmon dinner, cowboy beans, beets cooked with chard and onion, a fresh greens salad, and peanut buttery bars with ice cream for dessert.

BONUS: Ed and I went over to Best Shots, the former Kopper Keg, for a drink and we marveled at the remodel job, the transformation of the joint and reminisced about Lucky Lager nights in this building nearly forty-five years ago when Kellogg was still a Wild West mining/logging town and the approach to life was anything goes.  We had the good fortune of having Vicki, sweet and lovely, serve us our drinks and spend a little time shooting the breeze and having a few laughs.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/14/16: Mom Update, Dinner at Carol's, Patrick Arrived

1.  Mom commented several times today that she was in less pain thanks to the shots administered yesterday at the Pain Management Clinic. It's all a matter of degree. Less pain still involves pain. Mom's life has become more constrained since two medical professionals have strongly recommended that she use her walker full time. Her house is small and kind of crowded, but she's doing her best to navigate it.  It's difficult for her to carry things -- say plates of food or a glass of water -- while using her current walker.  Soon, the Deke and I are going to go walker shopping and look for a narrower walker and one equipped with a tray and a basket or other kind of pouch so Mom can more safely carry food and water from the kitchen to the living room and not rely on others to do these sorts of things.  I have to admit, my mind is preoccupied with trying to help Mom maintain her independence and to do things to help her live safely while also giving her help with things she finds difficult or impossible to do.  It was good that this morning, with help, Mom made her way out to her back yard raspberry bushes this morning and did some picking. It would have been dangerous for her to make that jaunt alone and she needs help getting situated in the chair she sits in while picking and needs helping moving the chair in order to harvest other spots.

2.  Mom got to have another little outing today when we drove her over to Carol's for a dinner in the back yard and enjoyed steak and grilled vegetables, corn on the cob, and salad.

3. At 10:00 p.m., Patrick arrived in Kellogg and he and the Deke and I enjoyed a beer and the cool Kellogg night air on Mom's back deck.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/13/16: Mom's Shots, Early Celebration, Discussion

1.  The most important event today was driving Mom to Coeur d'Alene for a visit to the Pain Management Clinic where the doctor gave Mom shots to relieve the pain of the bursitis and sciatica she suffers from. All went smoothly. Mom enjoys the staff at this clinic and the Deke and I accompanied her for the interview before her shot and learned more about heart arrhythmia and we'll talk with Larry Keyser more about Mom's heartbeat at the Kootenai Heart Clinic this coming Wednesday.

2. Little did we know that July 14th is National Hot Dog Day, so it turns out we enjoyed brat dogs this evening on Mom's deck on National Hot Dog Day Eve!

3. The Deke and I took some time on the deck to talk about our plans for the rest of the summer, trying to figure out when each of us will head back to Maryland and we didn't come to any conclusion yet. Nothing is clear cut.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/12/16: Mom Update, Writing About Uncertainty, Lunch in Wallace

1. Mom can't leave her house on her own any longer. It's been a few months since she drove her car. One of the things we do to help her out is run errands around town and this morning I paid her bill at Ace Hardware, dropped another bill in the mail, and went to Yoke's and picked up a prescription order and a few groceries. Mom is mentally sharp and her mood improves when she has company in the house, but her physical problems continue to plague her.

2.  Being back in Kellogg brings stories back to mind and, for some reason, I think a lot about the confusion and fear I felt in the summer of 1972 after high school graduation. To complete our latest Sibling Assignment, this morning I finished writing about that summer and how the things I felt and some of the ways I behaved turned out not to be temporary, but, at critical points in my adult life, turned out to be habits.  If you'd like to read this piece, just click here.

3.  Christy and Everett are in mourning. Everett's son, Kenny, died on Monday. Today they got away from the phone calls and funeral arrangements by inviting the Deke and me to go up to Wallace and sample some beers at Wallace Brewing and to enjoy lunch at the City Limits.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/11/16: Stu Drops By, New Chromebooks, Cool Air Dinner

1. Scott drove over from Post Falls and had a good visit with Mom and then he and I toured Sunnyside, drove out Elizabeth Park for another tour, and drove through Kellogg's uptown. We finished our time together at the old Kopper Keg -- now Best Shots -- and had a fun and delicious lunch.

2. The Deke and I decided to give Chromebooks a whirl for the stuff we do on the World Wide Web and they arrived today and, after some troubleshooting, the Deke got Google Hangout up and running.

3.  The Deke marinated some pork chops, sauteed some zucchini, and cooked up some couscous and Christy, Everett, Mom, and I enjoyed a satisfying dinner in the cool early evening North Idaho air on Mom's back deck.

Sibling Assignment #182: Uncertainty and the Summer of '72

Here's the next Sibling Assignment -- I gave it.

Reflect back on the summer following your high school graduation and before you started college and write about memories that stand out, feelings you had, things that you did, or whatever pops in your mind when you think about that summer. 
Christy wrote about music memories and posted some classic videos, here. Carol's post is still to come.

As May turned into June in the late spring/early summer of 1972, and I graduated from Kellogg High School, several memories stand out.

Good friends from the Class of '72 survived a serious car accident in the early morning hours of our graduation party.

With no sense of grace and for no good reason, I broke up with a lovely girlfriend, a stupid move.

I had no idea what to do about college and hadn't applied to any school, even though I graduated in the top 10 of my class and had friends going to the University of Idaho, Idaho State, Whitman, the College of Idaho, Spokane Community College and other places near and far, and I was paralyzed with indecision and the fear of making the wrong decision.

I returned to work at the Bunker Hill Company, first as a janitor at the main office and the mine offices. Later in the summer, I went back to to work in the cell room as a stripper where I had worked the previous summer.

During the last weeks of high school and throughout this summer, I was given over to long walks, sometimes on the trail up to the high school, often uptown to my janitor job at the Bunker, and, at other times, up to Vergobbi Gulch.

Long walks, long thoughts, private thoughts, and I wondered what had happened and where I was going.

Back in the summer of 1972, and for quite a while forward, I thought of myself and my life as in a decline I didn't understand.

It began with basketball. I probably understand now why my performance as a basketball player went downhill from the ninth grade, when I was our leading scorer, to my senior year when I spent most of my time on the bench and scored the fewest number of points in one season of any of my seasons as a high school player.  But, that's another post.

I thought long and hard on those walks about lost elections, not winning any high school awards, my failures with girlfriends, my uncertainty about church, my mediocrity as a musician, and, as the baseball season got underway, the slow decline of my performance.

I was confused.

At a graduation barbecue in the Vergobbi's backyard, Jeff Wombolt, a star basketball player at Kellogg about a dozen years earlier, and a dentist in town now, cornered me to tell me that my high school years I'd just finished would be the best years of my life.

I thought, "Are you kidding me?"

I thought, "It's never going to be any better than these past four years?"

I mean, I loved my high school friends and the fun we had, but if high school was the peak, well, this possibility filled me with despair and confusion.

On those long walks, I felt this despair. I felt the confusion of my failures and feared that if it life was never going to be any better than what I'd experienced in high school, as Dr. Wombolt had (drunkenly) told me, then I wasn't at all sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go.

During that summer, in small ways, I did something that would undermine me at critical points in my adult life. Because I was feeling inferior not only to people around me, but to my younger self, I started to try too hard. The trying too hard really kicked in when I tried to prove myself as worthy for a girlfriend I was losing and continued, after I started school at North Idaho College, as I tried to prove myself socially by drinking too much and trying to prove myself as a real Kellogg guy.

As I look back over the years, it's clear to me that whenever I have felt terribly inferior my response has been to try too hard and to try to be a person I'm not at all at home with. Similar to how I felt as the summer of 1972 wound down, when I have felt inferior or have felt afraid of some kind of approaching and inevitable loss of a relationship, I have always tried to act like I have a bigger personality than I do, tried to be irreverent, tried to assume some kind of a persona of a person who didn't really hold the sort of values that I really do hold. On the verge of loss, I always figured I was being rejected for being too much of a Boy Scout and so I would try hard not to be a Boy Scout, a straight arrow, and this act always alienated me from my authentic self and left me ragged and confused.

This trying hard to mask my fear and disappointment actually started in the spring of 1969 when I drove a girlfriend away, continued in my antics as a basketball bench warmer when I expressed the disappointment of my decline as a player by becoming a team clown, and kicked in again late in the summer of 1972 and continued on into the fall as I tried too hard to make myself into a person I thought a girlfriend I was losing would rather have than me.

I wish I had learned what a failed approach it is, but I didn't. Instead, I turned to it repeatedly in my adulthood, especially in turbulent times following my first divorce and when other relationships disintegrated. Trying to be someone I'm not was costly and, today, when I take long walks around Greenbelt Lake or as I sit here in Kellogg, Idaho in my mother's front room and think back on the summer of 1972, I sometimes experience again the disillusion that pretending to be someone I'm not has caused.

The good news is that during the summer of 1972 and in the forty-four years that followed, I've had peaceful stretches of living authentically, some of them long.  I've been fortunate to have forged deep and lasting friendships with people who have experienced some of my ragged times and saw through my fake grandiosity, my facades of false confidence, and even recognized my fear, and our friendships have endured. I'm very grateful for this.

When Christy wrote this Sibling Assignment, she focused on the music of 1973 and what I've written in my post takes me back to 1972 and a song that I used to mock because I was a sophisticated high school graduate and, in my sophistication, found its refrain trite.  It might be trite.  I don't know. But, Rick Nelson's "Garden Party" has stuck with me over the years and was rattling my conscience when I was eighteen years old, especially when Nelson sang, repeatedly

It's all right now, I've learned my lesson well
You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.
In my times of fear and in my attempts to compensate for my insecurity, I didn't please myself and I failed to please those I thought I sorely wanted to please.  At critical junctures, I hadn't learned my lesson well.

And, to close, I'm very happy to report that Dr. Jeff Wombolt was wrong. My four years of high school were not the best years of my life.

I'm happy that I'm friends with quite a few of my high school friends and when we get together, yes, we reminisce, but we don't act like we are still in high school or expect one another to be who we were then.

In fact, we have all disobeyed the most common sentence we wrote in one another's annuals as we were completing high school in 1972:  "Don't ever change."

We have changed.

We grew up.

And we've behaved badly, made lousy decisions, learned our lessons, been humbled, done a lot of good in the world, and grown into better people and better friends than we could have ever imagined when we left Kellogg High School, young and unsure, and the summer of 1972 got under way.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/10/16: Catching Up, Mom's Raspberries, Music of '73

1.   With Christy's Chromebook available, I settled into a soft chair in a corner of Mom's living room and wrote the seven blog posts I was behind on.  It was fun remembering the highlights of the last week and gratifying to get caught up.

2. Mom's raspberry bushes out back were full of ripe berries and the Deke and Mom went out back to pick for about an hour and, later, after I'd finished writing, I staggered out and picked more berries.  I had a pretty good harvest at one point, put the bowl I was using on a flat fence post, and a gust of wind blew it off and rendered my efforts futile. It was my day's Sisyphus moment. Ha!

3.  After dinner, Christy took us on a YouTube tour through soft rock hits of the 1970s with some Three Degrees and Stylistics thrown in.  We were remembering back to the summer of 1973, the summer of Christy's graduation from high school, and the blog post she wrote about that summer for our latest Sibling Assignment, here.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/09/16: Daft Badger Bliss, Steve is Recovering, The Soup Was the Best

1. The Deke and Vickie and Alan and I started out day off perfectly at Daft Badger Brewing in Coeur d'Alene. It might be the most handsomely constructed and inviting brewery of all the ones I've visited. It was our lucky day.  I have know owner Darrell Dlouhy since the fall of 1972 and he was in the house, working away, and came over for some good conversation. In addition to the pleasure of seeing Darrell, I loved my two half pours of Final Mile Golden Ale -- might be the tastiest Golden Ale I've ever had -- and the BLT the Deke and me split popped with multiple flavors.  The Deke, Alan, and Vickie left because I had other plans in Coeur d'Alene and I sat wistfully for a while, wishing that we could see Vickie and Alan more often, but happy we've seen them twice in the last year.

2. Scott swung by the Daft Badger and picked me up so we could go visit our boyhood friend Steve Jaynes as he recovers from having suffered a ruptured aorta. Steve seemed to me to be doing beautifully.  We had a fun conversation, he got up so Paula could take a picture of him and Scott and me. I thought he was moving around well and looked very good.  What a relief it was to see him progressing so steadily after the terrible scare his near death experience gave all of us who know him and care so much for him.

3. Scott gave me a lift down to the Shopko parking lot where Ed was waiting so that he and I could make a trip down to Worley and try our luck at the casino. Ha! The highlight of the trip, for me, was a spicy bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a pint of Star Dust IPA at the Red Tail Bar and the great conversations I had with Ed.

Three Beautiful Things 07/08/16: Rocket Bakery Scheming, A Visit to Whitworth Univ., Spokane Tour

1. The Deke and Vickie and Alan became friends in Spokane over forty years ago and last night they drove to Spokane from Seattle and, this morning, we had a rendezvous at the Oxford Suites in Spokane Valley and climbed into Mom's Malibu and buzzed over to Rocket Bakery on 14th near S. Cedar where we yakked and started making plans for the day.

2.  The Deke and Vickie's day continued among the millions of skeins of yarn at Paradise Fibers on W. Indiana and Alan agreed to join me on a nostalgic walking tour of Whitworth University. Oh, my. I got to thinking how some of us back in the halcyon days between 1974 and 1984 kind of enjoyed how run down and rickety so much of the campus was -- especially our beloved Westminster Hall, home to the English Department.  Nothing much is rickety on campus any longer. Wow! New buildings have been constructed throughout campus, buildings like Westminster have been remodeled and made stronger, the grounds are gorgeous, and almost all remnants of a campus that sometimes and in some places, 30-40 years ago, looked like it had taken a vow of poverty are gone and gentrified. All this renewal and transformation complicated my memories. I temporarily wanted some of that more modest campus back again. But that sensation didn't last. Mostly I thought what a gorgeous place -- what a lovely campus for today's students, faculty, administration, alums, staff, and visitors to enjoy.  I also bought a sweatshirt.

3. Alan and I picked up our wives at Paradise Fibers and our Spokane tour was on:  lunch and beers at No-Li Brewhouse, a quick tour of Kendall Yards, a drive into the belly of Browne's Addition, some browsing at Auntie's Bookstore, and, lastly, a couple of half pints at Twelve Strings Brewery in Spokane Valley.  I'm not sure we had had enough, but the Deke and I had a drive back to Kellogg ahead of us, so we brought our spectacular day to an end with broad smiles and good cheer, knowing that we'd see each other again on Saturday.

Three Beautiful Things 07/07/16: New Phones, Capone's Bliss, Happy Birthday Party

1.  The Deke and I had a fun visit to the Verizon store and walked out with new phones and a tablet!

2.  After our major purchase at Verizon and some errands at Fred Meyer and the knitting store, the Deke and I relaxed at Capone's and enjoyed sandwiches and let Mike, our server, introduce us to Elysian's Space Dust IPA and Terminal Gravity's Cross Eyed Cricket IPA.  We each pint in the middle of the table and each drank from both of them, enjoying every drop.  We loved being at Capone's.  For some reason, its lack of shininess and well-worn interior reminds me of joints I used to go to forty years ago in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane -- even though I can't name any of them that Capone's reminds me of!

3. Carol and Everett have a mutual birthday on July 3rd, and since the Deke and I were not in Kellogg just yet when that esteemed day arrived, tonight our family celebrated belatedly and Christy grilled a Cajun shrimp-sausage-potato-broken corn cobs medley which we all loved with Jane's cole slaw and Christy's green peppery monkey bread. It was a fantastic meal, topped off with cinnamon mocha brownies a la mode.

Three Beautiful Things 07/06/16: Clinic Visit, Wig Purchase, The Deke Fixed Dinner

1.  Mom needs to regularly visit the Kootenai Heart Clinic Northwest in Coeur d'Alene so her congestive heart failure can be monitored.   Mom is between a rock and a hard place. She needs to shed fluid, which her tissue is retaining, but the diuretic to help her do this contributes to the lowering of her blood pressure. Mom also needs help lowering her heart rate.  So, today's visit was focused on these challenges -- trying to lower Mom's water weight, trying to keep her blood pressure up, and slowing down her heart rate.

2. After our visit to the clinic, we ate lunch and then Mom went to Tamara, her wig consultant and purchased a new wig, making her very happy.

3. The Deke stayed in Kellogg while we took care of business in CdA and planned a great meal, prepared with help from Christy at the grill:  we enjoyed a tasty beet, apple, carrot salad, tiny boiled Yukon potatoes, and grilled Polish sausage. Perfect.

Three Beautiful Things 07/05/16: Flying Out of Midway, Arriving in Kellogg, Dinner at Christy's

1. The Deke, Adrienne, Jack, and I were flying out of Midway an hour apart from each other and so we all piled into Brian's BMW SUV and made our way to South Cicero Street and things went great for me and the Deke and we had an easy flight to Spokane.

2. Carol picked us up at the airport and upon arriving in Kellogg we had warm greetings all around and started the process of getting introduced to Tucker, Christy and Everett's new dog, who needs some time to develop trust with strangers.

3. Christy fixed a wonderful barbecued chicken dinner and we had a splendid first evening in Christy and Everett's beautiful backyard, enjoying the cool Kellogg evening air.

Three Beautiful Things 07/04/16: Long Beach Parade, LPs with Bourbon and Ginger Ale, Lawyers Guns and Money

1.  At around 10:00, Adrienne, Jack, Brian, Bill, and I hot-footed it down the street and staked out a spot from which we watched the annual Long Beach 4th of July parade. No floats. No marching bands. No hot air balloons. But we watched decorated cars, tricked out golf carts, civic groups, and a huge family reunion parade by, throwing candy, sharing good cheer, and some people even sang pop songs accompanied by boom boxes in their vehicles.

2. Back at Brian's, Ben poured me an exquisite bourbon and ginger ale with fresh lime, featuring an upper shelf bourbon I'd never heard of and never got the name of. While I sipped on this classy cocktail, I played LPs, a rare treat for me, to listen to vinyl recordings, including Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, u2's War, some Gordon Lightfoot, and the first side of Willie Nelson's Stardust.

3. The musical highlight was when Bill found and played, on his smart phone, the cut "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" off of Warren Zevon's Stand in the Fire album, recorded live at the Roxy Theater in L. A. Suddenly I was transported back to my downtown apartment at the Altadena at 6th and Stevens in Spokane and those chilly mornings when I walked downtown to catch the bus to Whitworth for another day of teaching, without a Walkman, but Warren Zevon had so deeply impressed his music in my mind that I could recall every note of "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" and I played air guitar walking down Stevens, sporting my full length wool coat I bought for like eight bucks at Goodwill, floating in the dark ecstasy of being, to quote the song, down on my luck when it came to the miseries and confusions of my inward life as 1983 became 1984.

Three Beautiful Things 07/03/16: Leaving Greenbelt, Arriving in Chicago and More, Burn 'Em Brewing

1.  After I took the corgis over to the Diazes, I was able to enjoy, in peace and quiet, hustling around our apartment home and vacuum and clean things up in preparation for our return to Greenbelt. Around 11:15, Molly gave me a lift to BWI International Airport and everything went as smooth as fresh cream. I did one of my favorite things to do on a flight:  I composed a long(ish) handwritten letter to a longtime friend.

2.  I arrived at Chicago's Midway Int. Airport where nephew Bill Diedrich picked me up and we made the trip to Long Beach, IN fly by with intense dicsussion about everything from the Spanish Inquisition to Henry IV, part 1 to labor unions to Bill's prospects for employment now that he's finished with law school.

3.  Upon arriving at the Deke's brother's lake house in Long Beach, IN on Lake Michigan, I got to greet and be greeted by family and meet Danielle's friend Sophia.  Soon, we all piled into cars and bee-lined it to Burn 'Em Brewing where I enjoyed a couple pints of Rye Alert, a superb rye-infused amber. I thoroughly enjoy hopped up ambers, creations that are a higher octane version of the usually mild-mannered amber ale.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 07/02/16: Double T Bacon and Eggs, Strolling Annapolis, Getting Ready to Go

Let me get started by telling you that I don't know exactly when I'll be back online after this morning. My guess is that I'll be able to update my 3BTs on Tuesday, but maybe not until Wednesday. Sometimes when circumstances leave me without computer access and I don't post, some of my friends write me with concern and check in to make sure I'm okay.  So, there's no need for concern. I'll be back later once I get settled in and get things sorted out in Kellogg.

1. After a coffee at home, I started my day by climbing into the Sube and jetting over to Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.  As I neared Annapolis, the traffic was backed up with all the people several miles ahead going through the toll station and crossing the Bay Bridge, but after about twenty minutes of crawling, I got off of Route 50 and popped into the Double T Diner for a quick breakfast of coffee, bacon, eggs, home fries, and English muffin. It was just what I wanted. Straight ahead, quick food and snappy efficient service in a diner atmosphere.

2. I parked near the corner of St. Mary's and Compromise and strolled up and down different street in Annapolis, checking out St. John's College and the Maryland State House and eventually walking near the docks and I gawked a bit at boats. It was a warm morning. The humidity was low. A lot of other people were out strolling, walking dogs, jogging, and generally soaking up this gorgeous morning.  I was working on our latest Sibling Photo Assignment, looking for pictures to take of flags, bunting, and other items that were red, white, and blue. If you'd like to see the pictures I posted from Ellicott City and Annapolis, just go here. If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you'll find my favorite picture of this little project.  Mainly, I like the fact that it includes the reflection of a U.S.A. flag that was flying across the street.

3. I returned to Greenbelt and spent the rest of the day doing this and that to get ready for my Sunday flight to Chicago and then my Tuesday flight to Spokane:  I did some laundry, got a haircut, got about 85 per cent of my packing done, etc. etc. I also got to cancel my car rental reservation because it turns out that Bill Diedrich will be picking me up at Midway Airport and Brian will be taking Adrienne, Jack, the Deke and me back to the airport on Tuesday.  This was very welcome news.

Here's that picture.  It's no great shakes, I know, but, still, it was my favorite:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Photo Assignment #3: Red, White, and Blue

When I read this assignment, I decided I would not meet it by taking pictures of flowers and that I would take pictures of red, white, and blue appearing together in each frame. I also decided that I would not take any of these pictures on or near the National Mall where, I'm sure, red, white, and blue abound this weekend.  I had begun to note that red, white, and blue items were scarce in Greenbelt, so I took a couple of different 30-40 minute drives, first to Ellicott City on Thursday and to Annapolis on Saturday. Both places, especially Annapolis, have older buildings in concentrated parts of their respective cities and I played a hunch that these places might fly flags, hang bunting, or have red, white, and blue items displayed in their storefronts.  I was right.

Christy shot flowers, here and Carol took pictures at the Old Cataldo Mission, here.

Here's how Christy worded the assignment:

Three color challenge.Consider the colors red, white, and blue. Construct a photo series using these three colors alone or combined in honor of our nation's birthday. Patriotic pictures are not a requirement. Keep your eyes open and your camera ready for red,white, and blue in any way you see pleasing to the eye. Please post by July 4th.
The first three pictures are from Ellicott City and the last two are from Annapolis:

Three Beautiful Things 07/01/16: The Deke is A-OK, Readiness, The Lonely Cat DeAnna

1. The Deke called this morning from Brian's lake place on Lake Michigan and she's having a good time and I can tell the Diazes are having a fun vacation. Adrienne and Jack arrived in Chicago today and Brian picked them up at the airport and they joined in the fun at the lake and, later, Brian, the Deke, Hiram, Molly, and Adrienne all piled into one of Brian's rigs and headed out to Burn 'Em Brewing in Michigan City, IN.  Here they are:

 2.  I started making serious moves to get ready to fly to Chicago on Sunday -- mail held, rental car reserved, computer decisions made, and lots of thinking about what I'm going to pack.

3. Storms threatened Annapolis, so I decided not to drive over to work on our Sibling Photo Assignment #3 until possibly Saturday morning. As I've done every day this week, I checked up on the Diaz house and gave their cat DeAnna some company -- she gets very lonely and is all over me when I come in, rubbing against my leg, straining to be petted, eager to sit in my lap.  It's difficult walking out the door when I leave, knowing how she craves company, but her time of mostly solitude will end soon and she'll be surrounded by the boisterous activity of Olivia, David, and Ana and will soon feel the security of being a part of her family again.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Three Beautiful Thngs 06/30/16: Reunited, More Flux, Main Street Photo Stroll

1. Two days ago, I discovered I'd lost my small camera bag, the one that my Nikon D3100 fits into perfectly. I also keep a spark battery in its front pocket. This morning, I called the Visitor Center at Brookside Gardens -- I got to thinking that I might have left the bag on a bench while taking pictures there on Sunday.  Sure enough.  A thoughtful person turned in my bag.  I happily drove over and retrieved it. I had a lump in my throat. That bag and I have had great fun together over the last five years. I didn't want it to be gone.

2. While driving back home from the lost and found, I listened on the radio to Susan Faludi talk with Diane Rehm about her book, In the Darkroom, that Faludi has recently published about her father's decision at the age of 74 to become a woman. It's a complicated story. Faludi had been estranged from her father for most of her adult life because of what a domineering and violent man he had been and then, out of nowhere, she got an email from him announcing, "I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I have never been inside."She also commissioned her daughter to sit with her, listen to her, and to write his and then her story. Faludi agreed to.

Once again, and this happens regularly, I pondered the indeterminate, ever shifting nature of reality and all those years I looked to Shakespeare -- and later Buddha -- to help me come to grips with impermanence. I haven't come to grips with it. I long for stability and permanence and security and am unsettled by things not being what I thought they were or wished they were, even though, in my head, I know this is the way things are. We live in constant flux. Back at Whitworth, we used to call this living in tension and we struggled (another key Whitworth word!) to live authentic Christian lives within tension of impermanence.  I still do. So, yeah. I try to live at peace, but, at the same time, I live in the tensions wrought by contradiction and instability.

All this was going through my mind and I managed to keep the Sube on the road and arrive home safely!

3. Early in the afternoon, I drove up to the historical Main Street of Ellicott City, MD to work on the latest Sibling Photo Assignment. I enjoyed my stroll up and down both sides of Main Street and my photo session was a modest success.  I'll reveal the assignment later and post pictures when I've completed it. Suffice it to say that I am going to go back out in the world on Friday and shoot some more and see if I can improve upon what I've already done.  I've decided to complete this assignment without taking pictures of flowers or of anything else in nature and it's a challenge for me, especially because I'm shooting in color.