Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/30/16: Finishing *The Black Echo*, Molly the Pro, Talking with Mom

1. Before I got gas and picked up a couple of items at Costco, I enjoyed a triple berry scone and a cup of dark roast coffee at Panera, but, even better, I finished Michael Connelly's first Harry Bosch novel, The Black Echo. I found that just as the world beneath the surface of Hollywood is a series of complicated, dark tunnels, so I learned that Harry Bosch is inwardly a dark, complex character, driven by subterranean loyalties and resentments, loneliness, deep intelligence, and a moral code all his own.

2. When I pick up the Deke and Olivia at the train station on Thursday, a car seat needs to be in place for Olivia. An unopened, unassembled car seat sits in our apartment home. I opened it, started to take the pieces out, and said to myself, "Forget it". I texted Molly, champion assembler of all things, and asked her if she'd put it together Thursday morning and put the seat in the car correctly. Without hesitation, she said she'd be glad to.  What a relief.  I'm sure I would have figured it all out, but I honestly just didn't feel like it -- it was kind of like one of those evenings when no one feels like fixing dinner, so it's pizza time. I'd rather fix a month of dinners, though, than assemble anything. My lifelong conflict with the material world continues.  Thank goodness, Molly is a pro.

3. I talked with Mom for about an hour today and, all in all, life in her world sounds pretty good. Her voice sounds strong and her mind is very active and it was good to hear all that is on her mind.  She's certainly in better shape now than a year ago after her fall and the complications she suffered when she broke her arm.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/16: Like the Kiva Again, SmarTrip Success, Greenbelt Lake Evening Stroll

1. To make the mushroom soup I decided to give a try, I needed fresh thyme. On Monday, the Co-op was out of fresh thyme, so this morning I drove up to MOM's in College Park and picked some up along with a few other things, and, as always, the combined smells of coffee beans and essential oils and incense sticks gave me pleasant memories of dropping in at the Kiva in Eugene, starting back in at least 1984.

2. While out, I dropped by the Greenbelt Metro station with the intention of buying a SmartTrip card to replace mine that just flat petered out. The Metro system here is run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority (WMATA) and, unfortunately, it's a broken agency for many reasons. I'm hoping with the new general manager it will make a strong come back. Anyway, I got into the station and the vending machines to buy a new card had a yellow gate in front of them -- out of service -- but, not to despair. I went online and learned that CVS Pharmacies throughout the area sell SmarTrip cards so I buzzed down there, bought one, came back home, registered the card, requested that my balance on my petered out card be transferred over and took a deep breath, hoping it all works out.  I hate to say it, but with WMATA, you never know for sure.

3. Usually in the late afternoons and early evenings, I am with the Deke either here at out apartment home or over at the Diazes or at the Old Line Bistro. Often, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking about the light down at Greenbelt Lake and, today, I walked around the lake as the sun was dropping and took a bunch of pictures and resolved that I've got to make such walks a more regular thing.  Here are a few of the pictures I took:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/16: Nearly Ten Years of Blogging, Splash and Flop, Back to tumblr

1.  One of my sources of happiness is that I've remained faithful to this blog. Yesterday, I wrote a a piece in response to Christy's Sibling Assignment -- #179, by the way -- and it was my 3400th post on kellogg bloggin. I am very grateful to Claire Law.  She no longer maintains her blog, Three Beautiful Things, but when I discovered it back in 2006, it gave me just the daily prompt I needed to write nearly every day. The sibling assignments have provided me with similar structure and prompted me to write more than I would have without them.  These external prompts are very good for me because when it comes to money, photography, travel, gardening, writing, and a host of other things, I'm a lousy planner and that was the subject of my 3400th post.  Want to read it?  It's here.  Let me add, my sister, Christy, on the other hand, is an expert planner, and, as it turns out, she wrote about her mad planning skills and how she has learned to be a patient gardener in response to Sibling Assignment #179 and you can read it right here.

2. I sure had a good time splashing and flopping around in the water today at Senior Swim. Since my toe quit throbbing, I've been getting more walking exercise and moving around in the water today was not only an excellent change of pace, it was kind of therapeutic both physically and mentally.

3.  I maintain another blog called "In Living Black and White" over at tumblr. It's a photography blog and I post black and white pictures on it.  I've not been very good about posting over there for a while, but today and yesterday I got back into the tumblr swing of things again and posted pictures from my recent photo strolls in and around Washington, D. C. If you'd like to see what my tumblr blog looks like, just click here.  It's not fancy, but I've had a lot of fun posting there the last few years and have been very inspired by other photographers who post on tumblr.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sibling Assignment #179: I'm a Lousy Planner

I'll begin by saying that this post is my 3400th at kellogg bloggin.

Christy gave us this assignment to write about:

"As spring lurks somewhere around the corner, it is time to think about gardening. Each of us have had different experiences with gardening at different locations. What we have all learned is there is a huge learning curve when it comes to gardening. What lessons have you learned from gardening? Share about a particular plant, gardening as a whole, or whatever you want."

Christy has learned patience through gardening and, unlike me, she is an expert planner.  Her post is here.  I'll post a link to Carol's piece as soon as she writes it.

I am a lousy planner.

In a world where experts in every field from finances to education hammer away at the idea that strategic plans, firm goals, and envisioning a future and then making it happen are the keys to success, I am crippled by being terrible at seeing very far beyond the present moment I am currently experiencing.

When I used to grow flowers, I was a lousy planner.

I loved putting plants in the ground and I enjoyed feeding and watering them. I was a lousy weeder, but not completely negligent.

I could never see into the future and picture what my flowers were going to look like and how they would look in relation to each other.

I used to walk around Eugene and marvel at different gardens and how the colors were in perfect relation to one other and how the gardens were planted so that each flower had its own place and could be seen and enjoyed.

My flower areas had a lot of color -- and I enjoyed that -- but they lacked design. Now, I admit:  I liked this. I enjoyed the randomness of how my flowers looked and enjoyed that there was very little that was predictable in my yard.

As it turned out, gardening was a pretty good source of self-examination and evaluation for me. I came to realize that my unplanned gardens were very much like the way I live my life.

I never planned out a retirement. Yes, I have some money stashed away, and, yes, I earned a pension, but the decision to retire came instantaneously, almost out of the blue, and when I saw that our family would not be crippled by my retirement, I went for it.

My retirement was not the culmination of years of careful planning and, as a result, executed with precision and foresight.

I pretty much fell into it.

Today, I was reading about what good photographers do. Although the article didn't use the word "plan", underlying the article was the unspoken idea that a person just might take better images by planning outings -- planning when the light will be best, planning when, say, flowers or waterfalls are the most photogenic, planning when and where to take portraits to make one's subjects look their best.

I'm aware that many great photographers plan their shots, anticipate what they went the image to look like, and adjust their settings and compose the image in the viewfinder to successfully bring that picture into being.

I'm terrible at all of this. I never plan for light. I grab my camera and go -- usually when I go is dictated more by other things in my life like getting shopping done, taking care of the dogs, finishing up errands, etc. than it is by planning for the best picture taking conditions.

It means that when I look at the pictures I took, there is always an element of surprise.  I'm usually taking pictures based on feelings I have about subject in the moment, or based on what I think the lighting conditions are giving me, but I'm never sure what to expect. It means that I am subject, often, to the unpredictability of luck.

Likewise, I rarely looked at a bunch of flowers I planted and said to myself: "Oh! That's exactly how I thought these flowers would look together."


I was always being surprised and I was always determined to see the way I planted things as being good, even if what I did failed to conform to with well-established ways of growing flowers.

Similarly, when I take pictures and look at them, my mind goes blank as far as what I've read makes a good composition. I can't follow the rules because as I look into my viewfinder, I suddenly have amnesia about the rules. Likewise, when I look at pictures, all the things I've read about leading lines and the rule of thirds and foreground and background disappear from my mind and I find myself enjoying a wide variety of pictures and lack much of rationale for why I like this or that image.

Now, as a renter, I have no garden space, no place to stick flowers almost randomly in the ground, no place to fail to plan but plant a garden anyway.

Not gardening opens up more time for me to fail to plan other parts of my life and enjoy unplanned walks with my camera, unplanned stops to the store, and unplanned times of rest and relaxation.

For those of you who find my lack of mad planning skills irritating, let me just say that for each of you I try. I do my best.

Just like I did in the garden.

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/16: Easter Sunday Church, Inventing a Meal, Day of Rest

1.  Worshipers filled St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The brass quartet's music shimmered. The organ thundered. Easter lilies perfumed the sanctuary.  On this Easter Sunday, we reveled in the reassuring and uplifting fact of life, that the promise is always present that out of darkness light can shine and from death, new life. It's not the only fact of life, but like its darker and painful counterparts,  it is always with us.

2.  While I boiled a pan of rice, in a shallow baking pan, I roasted eggplant, cauliflower, red potatoes, and bell pepper coated with olive oil, salt, oregano, and garlic powder. Once the vegetables had roasted, I poured a can of diced tomatoes over them, returned them to the oven for a short while, took the dish out, and topped it with feta cheese and chopped kalamata olives and served it over the rice. It was not exactly a traditional Easter dinner. It was delicious and fortifying all the same.

3. And, so, the last few days I've enjoyed being out, taking pictures, going to evening worship services for Holy Week, and once I returned home from the Easter service and from checking up on the Diaz house, I decided to settle in for a day of rest -- yes, a little cooking and some evening popcorn -- but, I spent much of my time today taking it easy, napping, and enjoying the quiet of Easter Sunday by myself.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/26/16: Breakfast at Plato's, Easter Vigil, Springtime at the National Arboretum

1. In my ongoing diner quest, this morning I drove down Rt. 1 to Plato's Diner, a neon and chrome Greek and American joint that serves breakfast all day. I enjoyed the ambiance a lot, thought the service was very friendly, and my breakfast was solid enough that I'll go back. It's a good "on the way" location given trips I like to take into NE Washington, D. C. and that makes Plato's Diner inviting.

2.  Do other Episcopalians see it this way?  For me, the most epic night in the entire year of worship is the Saturday night before Easter and the Easter Vigil service. The service tells the whole story of God's power of creation and deliverance, of bringing life out of death and nothingness in the stories of the creation, Noah's Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and the dry bones of Ezekiel.  These stories then culminate with the discovery that the tomb of Jesus is empty and that he once was dead and now lives again.  If it's possible to experience the sweep of the Judeo-Christian story in a single evening, the Easter Vigil service makes that happen and, for me, it has the accompanying effect of calling up my own history with Easter and the joy of many many Easter Eves from my past, especially at Whitworth and St. Mary's in Eugene.

3. After breakfast, I drove on south a ways to the National Arboretum to take pictures of cherry blossoms and any other spring blossoms I might find.  I had an especially good time hanging around the National Capitol Columns, a set of twenty-two Corinthian columns that used to grace the East Portico of the Capitol in Washington, D. C. The columns sit on a small hill and a few cherry trees sit below and I had fun taking pictures of the cherry blossoms in the foreground with the columns in the back. I may have had more fun than success! Evidently, this is a romantic setting (I don't know anymore what is or isn't romantic!) -- it was fun to see couples with a photographer in tow, tromping around, posing for pictures with cherry blossoms, magnolias, and the columns setting the romantic scene.  Here are a few of the pictures I took:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/25/16: Easter Weekend in Nyack, Life Coming from Death, Good Friday Grieving for Vern

1. The Deke and the Diazes got shoehorned into the Diaz-mobile and headed to Nyack, NY to spend the Easter weekend with Adrienne and Jack. I sorely wanted to go, but I volunteered to stay behind so Maggie and Charly could stay home and so I could look after the Diaz cat over the weekend. I was happy to receive word in the middle of the afternoon that they all arrived in Nyack.

2. After much deliberation as to how to go about it, I finally buckled down and wrote the next Sibling Assignment. It's a Lenten meditation on life coming from death. I try to make the point that the deepest truth of the resurrection, to me, is not whether it happened, but that it continuously happens. It's on going. It's deeply embedded in reality.  If you'd like to read my meditation, it's here.

3.  In much the same way a poem helps give focus and shape to otherwise formless thoughts and feelings, liturgical worship also does the same with matters of the spirit and with the overwhelming mysteries of life. I was especially grateful this evening for the Good Friday liturgy I took part in at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Not only did it bring sobering focus to the crucifixion, but, today, Ed, one of my very best friends for nearly fifty years, lost his brother, Vern, to a sudden heart attack. The Good Friday liturgy gave me direction. It helped give structure to my grief and helped me feel it more deeply. During the service, each of us was invited to light a candle, hold it, and kneel in prayer at the foot of the cross in the sanctuary. I lit a candle for Vern and I lit it for Ed and I prayed for the Hanson family and for the many, many people in and from the Silver Valley and beyond who are deeply saddened by Vern's death.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sibling Assignment #178: Meditation Upon Life Coming from Death

I made this Sibling Assignment in anticipation of Easter.  Here it is:

Back at Whitworth, the Chaplain's office used to put together a book of meditations for the season of Lent that reflect upon some aspect of the forty days leading up to Easter.

Let's pretend we are at Whitworth.  Each of us has been asked to contribute a Lenten meditation and we were asked to write about one of three topics  -- or a combination of them:


Christy's meditation upon self-discipline and creativity is here and I'll post a link to Carol's post when she completes it.

I've been out and about the last few days taking pictures of life beginning to bud on tree branches or of new blossoms having sprung to life on cherry trees, dogwoods, and other plants all around the D. C. Metropolitan area.

Although I'm sure it can all be scientifically explained, all the same, I experience seeing floral life spring from what looks like lifeless tree branches or to have daffodils and crocus and tulips and other spring flowers suddenly break through the ground where there appeared to be nothing as a great mystery.

It reminds me during the Lenten season and on into Easter that I am untroubled by my own doubt and others' doubt about whether the resurrection of Jesus was an historical occurrence.  It might have been and, if so, it's a physically miraculous event.

The deeper truth of Easter, though, does not depend on a whether the resurrection physically happened and, knowing this relieves me of all concern when I doubt that it did.

The deeper truth is that in every moment of every day, resurrection happens. It's ongoing. It's a deeply embedded aspect of reality and, to me, a mysterious aspect of reality.

In the physical world, I am most aware of springtime as the season of resurrection as life springs from lifeless appearing dormancy or as certain animals awake from a death-like hibernation.

I also have experienced and I witness cycles of life/death/resurrection in my own inward life and in the inward lives of people I know.

On several occasions, I have, like Christ, but within myself, descended into hell and felt inwardly dead. Most often, it's been in the face of loss or separation or as a result of my own failure that I have died within myself. I've also experienced being in a coma -- it was as if I were dead to the world -- and I've been very ill on two or three other occasions when it felt like I was nearly dead.

But, resurrection, mysteriously, happens. Like Christ, who ascended out of hell, who emerged from the tomb, that same pattern of coming alive again happened to me. I didn't remain in despair. I recovered from illness. I once was dead, but now I live.

I've seen this same pattern in others -- I've seen people close to me be all but destroyed by experiencing bad things, say, in relationships, come back from the dead, become animated again, experience a resurrection of purpose and meaning again in their lives.

Resurrection happens in acts of forgiveness, in moments of grace, in deeds of generosity and giving. When forgiveness, grace, or generosity happens, both the one who is forgiving or generous and the one who receives this is transformed, often out of darkness, a kind of death, into light and life again.

In my daily prayers and in my life of worship and in my life of seeking the way of Truth, I have had to and continue to have to understand the deep mysteries of life and of Supreme Being, of God, on my own terms, in my own language, with my own stories, and often with my mouth shut.

I am most animated in life by what I experience, not by what I believe.  I'm happy to say, much like I experience gravity (so I don't have to bother believing in it), I experience God. I don't have to bother believing.

Likewise, all the time, I experience the resurrection. I don't need to bother with believing. New life springs from dead life within me and around me with the same sureness as a book hits the ground when I drop it.

Why our lives have been blessed with gravity and resurrection and renewal and healing and goodness and the presence of the God, I don't know.

I am always experiencing these mysteries and they matter to me more than anything.

Three Beautiful Things 02/24/16: Kind Bus Driver, National Mall Mob Scene, Stripping the Altar

1. Around 11:00, I drove to Union Station, parked the Sube in the parking garage, grabbed a chocolate croissant and a dark roast coffee at Starbucks, and meandered over to the Circulator bus stop. My plan: head over to the Tidal Basin and see about taking pictures of the exploding and exquisite cherry blossoms. I boarded the bus and my SmarTrip card didn't work and I (stupidly) wasn't carrying any money. But, the kindest bus driver in the world blamed her machine for not reading my fare card and so I got to ride. Later in the day, I confirmed with a station manager at the Smithsonian Metro station that my SmarTrip card was damaged, unreadable, so I walked back to Union Station, grateful with every step, as I racked up over 9000 for the day, that my big toe is about 95 per cent healed. The walking and the nearly total absence of pain made me giddy.

2.  So, I wondered, will the Tidal Basin be a mob scene on Maundy Thursday? Yes. I discovered it was a mob scene. So, I made a decision. I smiled and kept a smile throughout my visit. I decided to enjoy being a member of this throng enjoying our shared possession of this magnificent place, of these cherry trees and of the towering monuments nearby. Others smiled back. Two women and then a group of people asked me to take their pictures with their cameras. I marveled at the battalion of paddle boats out on the Tidal Basin.  I took pictures -- I'll put up a bunch of them at the end of this post -- and I felt more fully American than maybe I ever have, just being in the company of so many people enjoying our National Mall.  By the way, here's one picture that gives you a sense the numbers of people I shared my early afternoon with!

3.  The Maundy Thursday service at St. Andrew's was a solemn hour and a half of music and prayers devoted to the beauty of the Last Supper and Christ's washing of his disciples' feet. In the same way that Jesus Christ was stripped upon being crucified, the service ended, in preparation for Good Friday, with the altar being stripped and with all of us leaving the church in silence.

Here are some pictures.  If you want to see all the slightly over sixty pictures I took, see my album on flickr, here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03-23-16: Remembering Bob Evans, Lamb Sliders, Strolling Greenbelt Lake

1. When Molly, Patrick, the Deke, and I drove across the USA from Eugene to Hendersonville, NC back in 1998, we had one particularly long day of hot driving that ended in Blue Springs, MO where we checked into our Motel 6 and then piled into a booth at Bob Evans and I thought I'd gone to heaven as I ate a dinner of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes/gravy with a frosty Coke and lemon.  Today, I drove up to the Laurel Corridor to go to Weis Market to buy some cans of Polar seltzer and dropped in at Bob Evans for a sausage and egg and hash brown and biscuit breakfast.  The food was fine, but what I really enjoyed was remembering back eighteen years ago and that trip and that one memorable dinner.

2. Today was the Deke's last day with students before spring break and to start off this break just right, we went up to Old Line Bistro for some chips, truffle fries, and we shared three lamb sliders. We had a good time with Laura, our server, and enjoyed some excellent beer.

3. Earlier in the day, I gave my toe another walking test and my toe prevailed.  I went down to Greenbelt Lake and strolled the circumference, racking up over two miles of walking.  Along the way, I took a few pictures and here's a sampling:

Behind Our Apartment Home 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/16: Fish Stew, Ana Goes Dada, Back to the Gardens

1. You just marinate talapia in a mixture of lime juice, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper and let it sit for however long you want and then fry onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a pot until soft, dump the marinated fish into the pot, pour a can of diced tomatoes and a can of coconut milk over the top, let it simmer covered about 20 minutes until the fish is cooked and presto!: Brazilian Fish Stew. It's really good. (I fixed a pot today.) Do you want the recipe?  Just click here.

2.  The Diazes have a couple of electronic keyboards out in their living room and one of them has a preset array of music samples it plays and Ana was at the keyboard hitting buttons and gave us the most exquisite dada performance of totally disconnected and unrelated notes and random passages from the samples.

3. Early in the afternoon, I drove down to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to see what kind of blooming might be happening this early in the spring. I was itching to take pictures and I wanted to see how my improving toe would hold up if I walked a couple of miles. My toe held up really well, I enjoyed my stroll through the park, and here are a few pictures I took:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/21/16: Back in the Water, Simple Dish, Smile!

1. My toe is not 100% healed. The swelling is minimal and I am experiencing a level of pain I either hardly notice or that I can easily tolerate. So, I returned to water aerobics today and, in chest deep water, I jogged, performed jumping jacks, and did other exercises that put some stress on my toe and I was never uncomfortable and I fully participated. I'd like this toe to get even better, but I can live with it and function pretty well if what I am experiencing now becomes normal.

2. Last year some time, I found a recipe for black beans and rice that the Deke and I really like a lot. If you read the recipe, here, you can see that it combines sweet flavors with savory ones with a vinegar-y bite. I fixed this dish tonight.  I ate mine as a bowl of beans and rice and the Deke made herself a burrito.

3. I scanned the archives of Radiolab and decided to listen to an episode from last October, "Smile My Ass". The episode looked back about sixty years to the origins of the television program, Candid Camera -- which really means it was looking back at the origins of what we now call reality television. Granted, I have watched very little reality television.  Ice Road Truckers is the only reality series I've ever spent much time watching (on Netflix). To be fascinated by this podcast, though, I didn't need to have been much interested in reality television. I just needed to be interested in human behavior.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/16: Chicken Stew, 1987 Haunts Me, The Big Listen

1.  I slow cooked a whole chicken and removed the meat from the bones Saturday afternoon/evening and put the broth in the icebox. Today, I turned it all into a tasty chicken stew and the Deke and I took it over to the Diazes with a baguette and the Deke made a cabbage and radish salad and we had a deeply satisfying dinner together.

2. Before leaving our apartment home to go have some beer before going to the Diazes, I listened to a Radiolab episode covering the stunning development that began in late April, 1987, when The Miami Herald decided to investigate rumors that presidential hopeful Gary Hart was guilty of marital infidelity. I was fascinated by the story as it unfolded on this podcast, as Matt Bai, Lesley Stahl, Cokie Roberts, and others offered their insights into the changing landscape of journalistic practices and the whole "character" question. The story also took me back to the chaos of my life in the spring of 1987. I was as lost and confused about where my life could possibly be headed as I was at any point before or after. My academic life was in steep decline and I would never recover. I was failing miserably in my so-called love life with more failure to come.  I had no idea what I'd be doing for work or income after I finished a temporary, part time job I was currently working. I thought Gary Hart must be terribly frightened. I knew I was. It all came back to me this afternoon.

3.  Once we returned from the Diazes, I settled into another episode of the new radio show on WAMU called The Big Listen.  It's a podcast about podcasts and I love listening to the different people interviewed about the podcasts they create, hearing passages from different episodes, and going in search of their websites, expanding my podcast world. Of special interest to me tonight was a Washington Post podcast called, Presidential. Host Lillian Cunningham is doing a weekly podcast, starting with George Washington, of the legacy and character of each president, timed so that the last of the 44 episodes will be aired just before the 2016 election.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/19/16: Shopping With a Smile, Surprisingly Awesome, Deep Into Legos

1.  My toe had bedeviled me Friday night on into Saturday morning. I was up at 4:30 a.m. icing it.  Then, later in the day, the swelling diminished and so did the pain. I needed to go shopping for me and the Deke, so I decided to go all out and drag myself to Costco and the Co-op. It went great.  I wasn't 100% free of pain, but I was walking without much of a limp and with a smile. Some shoppers caught my smile and smiled back, but I decided not to stop them and tell them my life story, that it wasn't the breaded tilapia samples bringing a smile across my face, but the improvement of my toe.

2. Back home, the Deke was watching the second season of Bosch in our luxurious apartment home's living room. I plan to watch it myself, so I didn't want to hear it, so I put on the headphones and listened to the radio program Snap Judgment and then listened to the beginning of the broadcast of WAMU's The Big Listen and found out about a podcast called Surprisingly Awesome. The two hosts take turns exploring topics the other will find boring and try to convince each other that the topic is actually, well, surprisingly awesome. One of their early shows focused on the free throw, and, being a lifetime fan of basketball, I had to listen to it and and it was surprisingly awesome.  Wanna see what you think? Take a half an hour and go here -- I especially enjoyed listening to Ted St. Martin.  He grew up on a dairy farm in Selah, WA and, at age 66, set the Guinness world record for dropping the most consecutive free throws in a row: 5.221 in over seven hours.  He's fascinating.  (The Dirk Nowitzki segment is pretty good, too.)

3. Molly brought David over for a sleepover and the Deke had bought him a new box of Legos and got right into the Lego zone, following the directions provided to build things, and occupied himself with joy and deep concentration. (If David ever breaks Ted St. Martin's free throw record, he will be able to credit his long hours of playing with Legos as the way he learned to give himself over to long hours of concentration on a task.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/18/16: Short Trip to Baltimore, Vitality at Silver Diner, Winding Down

1.  The Deke, Julie, and I piled into the Sube shortly after 7 a.m.  I dropped the Deke off at school and Julie I headed north on the Baltimore/Washington Parkway to downtown Baltimore. Our hope had been to arrive in time for coffee together before Julie went to her first session at the conference, but, alas, just as we closed in on Baltimore, the traffic got very thick, very slow. Julie and I took advantage of the congestion by having the conversations in the Sube we would have had over a hot morning drink and it was really fun. We bade each other farewell, both hoped it won't be too long until we can get together again and I drove back to Greenbelt, really happy and invigorated.  Julie, the Deke, and I had great time together.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Julie about many things regarding our lives since leaving Eugene, her steadfast and devoted care of her mother, and about the lives we lived back in the old days in Eugene and at LCC.  

2.  Upon arriving back in Greenbelt, I stopped in at the Silver Diner and sat at the counter. The Silver Diner has a large staff of young people waiting tables and providing other services and I had fun watching them joke with each other, help each other out, and generally do the things that help keep morale high on the job. A guy came in who used to work there and smiles and hugs broke out across the staff. I enjoyed my eggs, potatoes, sausage, biscuit, and coffee, too, but, even more, I enjoyed the ways these young people worked and treated each other.

3. I picked up the Deke right around 4:30. She'd been at school for over nine hours and she was ready for some relaxation at the Old Line Bistro and so we drove up to Beltsville, enjoyed some beer and snacks -- neither of us was hungry for dinner -- and the Deke wound down and we got to talk about some of the absurdity of the Deke's job and what's ahead this weekend and  Easter weekend being only a week away.  With spring break about to arrive, students only have three days of school next week, so, starting on Thursday, the Deke will have about twelve days free of her third graders' charms and intensity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/17/16: Meeting Julie Fether, Tasty Irish Stew, Return of the Crock Pot

1.  Today was momentous. First, a bit of context. Julie Fether and I worked at LCC for many years, have numerous mutual friends and acquaintances both on the faculty/staff and in the theater, but we never met when we lived there. A little over three years ago Julie left Eugene to help tend to her dying father in Pennsylvania, and then, after he died, moved permanently to her childhood home in Pennsylvania to live with and help her mother who was devastated in countless ways by the loss of her husband. When Julie and I both had articles published in the Community College Moment that spring, we had a bunch of online conversations about our writing and other things and then we decided to become 21st century email/snail mail pen pals. Our correspondence has been steady ever since and, today, we met face to face or the first time.  Julie arrived by train and came to our apartment home to spend the night before a conference in Baltimore on Friday. The Deke, Julie, and I hit it off immediately, went into non-stop conversation mode for a few hours. For the sake of old times in Eugene, and because it's damn good beer, we toasted each other with bottles of Ninkasi's Total Domination and we had an evening full of good conversation, many stories, and growing enjoyment of one another.

2.  I found a recipe for Irish stew that featured both red wine and Guiness beer. I cut back the amount of beef broth the recipe called for by a cup and put twice as much Guiness in the stew as the recipe dictated.  Julie and the Deke loved the stew -- well, so did I -- and it made me very happy to have our one tip of the hat to St. Patrick's Day work out so well.

3. When the Deke and I left Eugene, we gave away our entire kitchen, including our slow cooker.  I never purchased a new one because we didn't have room in our tiny kitchen for it. But, a few weeks back, we gave ourselves more kitchen storage space with some IKEA shelves. Today, because I wanted to slow cook the Irish stew, I bought us a new slow cooker.  It performed splendidly on its maiden run if the quality of the Irish stew can be seen as a reliable measure.  I'm very happy to have this appliance back in my life. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/16/16: Slow Healing, The Deke's Favorite Pasta Dish, The Tunnels of Harry Bosch

1.  The swelling and pain in my toe seems is not getting better, not getting worse. I can wear my shoes. I can walk, albeit with some pain, but I'm not immobilized. I'm hopeful that, as has happened before, this late stage of healing is slow and that with ice and patience, I'll be back to painless movement again.

2.  I know the Deke likes heated up diced canned tomatoes with garlic, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil served over spaghetti.  It's simple. For the Deke, it's nostalgic. My making this for dinner tonight made her very happy.

3. I've only read one Harry Bosch novel, The Concrete Blonde.  I ordered a copy of The Black Echo. It arrived Tuesday and now I'm nearly done with the first part of the novel. Bosch is working to solve the murder of one of his fellow Tunnel Rats from his days fighting in the Vietnam War. I'm not sure yet, but I sense that the story is going to not only deal with the way the victim was dumped in a Mulholland Dam tunnel and with the awful days Bosch spent in tunnels in Vietnam, but I think the story is going to take us into the dark tunnels of Bosch's mind and spirit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/15/16: Day of Rest II, Watching *Sherlock*, Metro Shuts Down

1.  I stayed in all day today.  Aside from doing some laundry, all I did was rest and continue to recover from being sick on Monday. My big toe is not done healing, but has settled down to a level of pain I can live with and I'm about 85% mobile. When toe anger has flared up the three times before, it always took weeks, not days, for the swelling and pain to settle down, so I'm still hopeful. I continued the ice therapy today.

2. There is a whole world of television shows and movie making that I haven't entered into.  I don't know what to call this world, but it includes the Peter Jackson treatment of Tolkien's stories, any movies about zombies and pirates, all of the comic books made into movies, and works featuring Benedict Cumberbatch.  I only put these movies together in a "world" because when I was around people in the theater program at LCC, and as I follow several of my theater friends on Facebook, these were the movies that were the most popular and people were nuts about Benedict Cumberbatch. So, today, I broke the ice and watched the first episode of the first season of Sherlock and I had a lot fun with how this episode established the character of Sherlock Holmes and Watson and with how their relationship is getting underway.  I'll watch more, and, then, who knows? Maybe it'll be time to dive into some Batman or something. . . . .

3.  For the first time in the history of the system, Metro shut itself down today for safety reasons. The shutdown happens on Wednesday, March 16th. Other shutdowns have occurred because of weather or labor dispute, but never has a General Manager and the WMATA Board shut down Metro out of concern for rider safety. A tunnel fire, similar to the deadly one at L'Enfant Station a little over a year ago, broke out Monday morning at McPherson Sqaure Station. In response, rather than spread inspections of the system over a many weeks period of time, WMATA's leadership decided to shut the system down for at least 29 hours to conduct these inspections. I follow the travails of Metro every day. Every day I hope that the new leadership is up to the daunting challenge of repairing this broken train system and getting it running safely and reliably again.  Take my word for it. It's a steep challenge.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/14/16: Day of Rest, Improving Toe, Faithful Dogs

1. As Sunday night became Monday morning, I had my most painful night so far with this episode of my red and swollen and angry big toe.  Then, suddenly, I got very sick, ugly sick, and it became very clear that I would be in bed for the rest of the day, sleeping and hydrating. I don't remember the last time I slept so much in one day.

2. One good thing about staying in bed is that it seemed to help my toe. It settled down enough that if it made contact with, say, my right heel, it wasn't painful.  I think the toe problem arose from my foot being too crowded in my shoes with a new insole insert I was wearing to deal with some bottom of my heel pain. The last time I had a toe problem was two years ago -- spring break 2014 -- and I have, I think, figured out that that episode and the two that preceded it, in the fall of 2013 and January of 2014, were because of shoes that my feet didn't like.  The new inserts turned out to be a mistake.

3. Maggie and Charly stayed with me in the bedroom the whole day, without a second of restlessness and only one barking jag.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/13/16: Church, Curry, Ice

1. I had very good day at church and the Bach Postlude topped it off stirringly.

2. I made really good Madras curry.

3. My left foot is giving me a lot of trouble and I iced it all day.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/12/16: Second Story Bookstore, Flight at 7 Locks, Chicken and Dumplings

1. I dropped off the Deke at the Diazes early this afternoon and wound my way to Rockville to check out Second Story Books, a warehouse of a used bookstore with cement floors, endless stacks marked with subjects in black marker, used cd's, lp's. and dvd's, and boxes of books strewn about to dig into. I bought the Diazes and hardback American Heritage Dictionary in superb condition for six bucks and the store owner who checked my purchase seized the opportunity to give me a leisurely and rambling and informative lecture on the virtues of the 1970s Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary.

2. Sometimes a lack of planning opens up a delightful surprise -- and this is what happened to me. On my way to the bookstore, I took a wrong turn and almost immediately I was at the 7 Locks Brewery in Rockville. I had no idea the brewery and bookstore were so close to each other.  I got resituated, found the bookstore, and later on went into the tasting room at 7 Locks and enjoyed a flight of five tasters and watched Michigan State and Maryland play in the Big 10 basketball tournament. Here are the five beers I tasted:

Snakeden Saison
Owen's Ordinary Pale Ale
Leap Year V2 IPA
Surrender Dorothy RyePA (I took home a growler of this one.)
Farmhouse Strong Ale

3.  Back at the Diazes, the Deke cooked up the most delicious dinner:  chicken and dumplings.  Awesome, just awesome.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/11/16: New Ceiling, Looking After David and Olivia, Great Beer BONUS: RIP Keith Emerson

1. Luis arrived, as promised, shortly after 9 a.m. and spent much of the day cutting out the damaged shower ceiling piece, replacing it, plastering, painting, leaving, returning, touching up and the job is done and it looks great.

2. Molly needed to see her doctor to find out if the sore throat plaguing her is strep (no it isn't), and so I sprang into the Sube and jetted over to the Diazes to be with Olivia and David -- Molly took Ana with her. So, for about and hour and a half or so, Olivia and David completely took care of themselves -- they played a game on a computer for a while and then each got out pens and markers and drew monsters, ghosts, and cats, and David showed me a Lego puzzle he made for Olivia and before we knew it Molly was back. I hardly spoke with the children or anything for that hour and a half because they were so content to do their own things independent of my attention or supervision. Oh! And they had zero disputes -- a great relief for me -- I'm crappy at intervening in disputes.

3. The Deke and I sure enjoy going to the Old Line Bistro on Friday nights. Laura provided her impeccable service and Marcus came over to chat for a few minutes. I ordered an awesome flight of four beers: Maniacal 2IPA from Port City in Alexandria; Double Duckpin from Union up in Baltimore; a very unusual, herbal infused IPA from 7 Locks in Rockville, MD called Leap Year V.2; and I was very happy to get to try Firestone Walker's brand new  Luponic Distortion Revolution No. 001 -- the first of a series of experimental beers from Firestone Walker. The variety of different hops and the range of tastes in these beers made for a most enjoyable session.

BONUS: With the passing of Keith Emerson, I've had all kinds of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer tunes spinning in my head. The memories are especially sweet, all connected with my college days, first at NIC and the many evenings with Bruce, Robert, Sluggo, Liz, and others at the Cockroach Castle listening to ELP albums or having them pop up on the Q-FM rotation and then in my single dorm room in the Village at Whitworth where I played passages from the album Brain Salad Surgery to inspire myself to keep reading or to keep writing as I pursued my studies.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/10/16: Bathroom Ceiling Acts as Dam, Driving to Alexandria, Dinner with Bingham

1. The ceiling above our shower didn't look or feel right to me. It was bowing out a bit and felt spongy. I reported it to Andre over in the management office and he sent Luis to look at it and Luis stuck a screwdriver into the ceiling and water streamed out.  It turns out the apartment above us had a leak, a very small one, and water had been accumulating for a while, so Luis went up and fixed that and will be back Friday morning to repair our ceiling.  Here's what I liked: Luis knocked on the door of our apartment home within fifteen minutes of my making the report.

2.  I drove to Alexandria this afternoon via the B-W Parkway and Rts. 295, 695, and 395.  This particular web of freeways, especially 695 and 395, has bewildered me ever since we moved to this area, but today the scales began to fall from my eyes and it started to make better sense. It was a workout, though. Once I got to 295, I was contributing to massive volume on the freeways, but I stayed calm and trusted the GPS robot, and it all worked out beautifully.

3.  I arrived at the Virginia Theological Seminary shortly after five to have dinner with Father Bingham Powell, our priest at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Eugene. He was at the seminary for a meeting of the Alumni Council and we had determined a few months ago that we'd get together when he visited. He gave me a brief tour of the idyllic seminary campus and we made our way to the seminary's pub, Cafe 1823, and had a great conversation over a couple of beers and dinner. I really enjoyed hearing about news from St. Mary's church, finding out about new developments and getting caught up on how certain people are doing.  I drove back to Greenbelt on a jetstream of happiness.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/09/16: Polar Surprise, No Kelly at Trader Joe's, Dinner at Quench

1.  One of the janitors at the school the Deke works at flagged us down as we entered the parking lot. He pointed to a stack of something. As we pulled away and got closer to the stack, we could clearly see that one of the Deke's colleagues had bought us two 12 packs of lemon Polar seltzer water.  The day before, he had tipped us off that Giant carried Polar, but had told us they didn't have lemon. Well, someone carries lemon and now we have 24 cans.

2. The Deke decided to depart from getting her hair done at Hair Cuttery and made an appointment at the Alchemy Salon on Columbia Pike (Rt. 29) and, while she got her hair cut, I ducked into Trader Joe's for a while and suddenly flashed back to Trader Joe's on Coburg Road in Eugene and how I used to see Kelly working there and we'd have great talks. So, I texted Kelly and told her how disappointed I was that I was in this Trader Joe's and she wasn't there and it made me miss her. She texted back and it was fun to have a few minutes of solid contact with each other.

3.  Well, Quench is only about ten minutes or so away from the Alchemy Salon, so the Deke and I buzzed up, sat down, and had a couple of beers. The Deke went with Firestone Walker's Double Jack and I had a Troeg's Nugget Nectar and then a Ninkasi Total Domination.  We not only enjoyed the beers, but we split a turkey and sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and Russian dressing sandwich on toasted rye and split a cottage pie, which is seasoned beef and vegetables under mashed potatoes and cheese oven baked in a casserole dish.  We loved both entrees. We had never had dinner at Quench before and tonight definitely won't be the last time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/08/16: Driving to NE DC, Cans of Polar, Fundraising at Franklin's

1.  I don't really know why I enjoy driving down Kenilworth, across Decatur, down Bladensburg Road, past DC Brau, on to South Dakota NE, and into the Goodwill parking lot. It's not a lovely drive. In fact, it's a lot of suburban and urban blight.  Maybe it's just the satisfaction of knowing I've figured out so many different routes and that I'm not lost. But, whatever the source of my pleasure, I dropped off a few things today, and, on my way home, stopped off at Target to buy ice packs and insole inserts to help relieve the pain in my feet.  (The ice treatments seem to be working.)

2. Giant has cans of Polar seltzer water. Until now, the only place I've found Polar cans was at Costco in Nyack, NY. I purchased two twelve packs today and it made me weirdly giddy.

3.  Franklin's in Hyattsville is Prince George's County's only brewpub. I don't understand why this is true given the size of the county and its huge population.  Oh, well. The school the Deke teaches at had a fundraiser this evening at Franklin's and we went, the Diaz family came, and we shared our table with Mr. Flannery, the Deke's buddy and a second grade teacher, and with Brandon, a parent. We had a blast, especially the Deke.  It's obvious that the parents who were at the dinner deeply appreciate the Deke's work with their children and that the Deke really enjoys her fellow teachers. She was really happy as we left Franklin's. It's a shame that the school system is so broken and such a constant energy drain and headache. It's grinding down and wearing out good people and making demands on teachers and students alike that deter learning rather than enrich it.  The Deke is not returning next year. And she's not alone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/07/16: "I got this one", Into the Pool, Soup Redux

1.  Once a month, I lumber down to LabCorp and have a sample of my blood drawn and it's mailed to the transplant center in Baltimore. I always hope my phlebotomist will be Angela. She knows the drill, recognizes the paper work, and I enjoy working with her. Sure enough. Today, I got sent to Room #1 and a phlebotomist I'd never worked with was there, but Angela swooped in, told her, "I got this one" and now my vial of blood is on its way to Charm City, expertly drawn by Angela.

2.  Senior Swim didn't meet last week because there were five Mondays in the month of February -- classes only meet four times a month -- *shake my head*-- and it felt really good to get in the water and jog, do jumping jacks, and perform the all the other twenty or so exercises Marcia puts us through.

3. Last week I followed a recipe for Red Curry Thai Soup to the letter and the amount of red chili pepper was too intense to enjoy. Today, I made another batch, but left out the red curry paste and then dumped the firey leftover soup from last week into the new soup along with a little leftover coconut milk from the peanut sauce I made on Saturday.  The result?  Perfect.  The Deke and I really enjoyed this revised soup -- and it is still pretty formidably hot!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/06/16: Tallis Gives Me Inmost Joy, Back to Bagel Place, Ninkasi Nostalgia

1.  As the Holy Communion ended this morning at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, the choir sang "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say", a hymn set to a gorgeous tune by Thomas Tallis.  I remembered back to January of 1996 and a concert by the Mozart Players at Beall Hall at the Univ. of Oregon and the first time I ever heard "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", composed by Ralph Vaughn Williams. That tune has lived with me in deep and abiding ways ever since and this morning hearing the choir sing it brought me inmost joy.

2.  It's been months since I strolled over to the Bagel Place in College Park to have a cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with cream cheese with coffee, but, today after church, I did just that. I grabbed myself a copy of the Washington City Paper and enjoyed reading about all the musicians who are coming to this area and seeing the listings for all the plays being performed and imagined myself going to them all, chuckled, finished my snack, came back to Earth, and jumped into the Sube, turned on RadioLab,  made my way to Rt. 201, and drove back to our apartment home.

3. Molly's birthday celebration continued today. Hiram invited a bunch of friends and their thousands of children over for beer, snacks, and birthday cake. The Deke and I popped in, enjoyed some excellent conversation with the youth of today, and, filled with hope, piled back into the Sube and drove over to the Quench Tap Room and each enjoyed a somewhat nostalgic pint of Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA.  I had hoped for a glass of Tricerahops, but that keg was empty. It was fun drinking a Total Domination and imagining myself sitting in the Ninkasi tasting room in the Whitaker neighborhood, happy that, in Eugene,  I once lived so close to so much fine beer before moving here to Maryland.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/05/16: Hung Phat Spree, Return to DC Brau, Molly's Birthday Dinner

1. Molly turned 30 years old today. We gave her a new haircut for her birthday, but I didn't join in the festivities at the salon. I dropped the Deke off at the Diazes and began a day of preparations for fixing Molly's birthday dinner by driving over to Hung Phat and buying coconut milk and cream, a variety of rice noodles, a bag of sweet rice, a bottle of sesame oil, and other things.

2. I was in search of coconut ice cream/frozen dessert for Molly's birthday dinner, so I went to MOM's to buy the vegetables I needed for dinner and I found a coconut frozen dessert product.  On my way home, Molly texted me that the Diaz house was a beer desert, so I delayed dinner preparations and drove down to DC Brau and bought a couple of sixers of On the Wings of Armageddon. I enjoyed a twelve oz pour myself and marveled at how jam-packed the brewery was as several groups with name tags around their necks and another with cone-shaped birthday hats were having get togethers and, my guess is, brewery tours. The cone-capped revelers all streamed in, one by one, flashing their IDs as I waited to leave with the two sixers in tow. As I finally left, Crab, the ID checker, joked: "Shit. You coulda downed half those beers waitin' for these guys to get in." Ha! We had a good laugh.   It was a fun stop. I dropped off the beer at the Diazes and headed back to our apartment home.

3. Molly requested that I stir fry some green onions, tofu, eggplant, snap peas, and mushrooms and serve them with peanut sauce, so when I returned to our apartment home, I cooked this up, and returned to the Diazes and Molly was very happy with her birthday dinner, the mini-sheet cake the Deke bought at Trader Joe's, and the coconut frozen dessert.  I am happy to report that the Deke and I helped make Molly's birthday a happy one, especially because Hiram couldn't be around late in the day for dinner because he had a gig. He is throwing a party on Sunday for the Diazes' many friends. The Deke and I might drop by -- we'll see.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/04/16: Paying Maryland, Out with the Deke, Back to DC Brau

1. I owed the state of Maryland some tax money -- not a ton -- but tax refund money arrived this week and I paid off Maryland and began setting money aside to make estimated tax payments for 2016 over the course of the year.  I don't like these things lingering around and was happy to get this business done and the set aside underway.

2.  The Deke took a personal leave day today and we headed over to the glorious Westfield Mall in Wheaton. The Deke had an appointment at Lenscrafters to get her eyes checked -- and found out, upon arrival, that Lenscrafters doesn't accept her insurance.  Ha! So the Deke did a little shopping at H and M and we headed over to the Diazes where I dropped off the Deke and drove to our apartment home to care for the dogs before returning to the Diazes for a take out dinner of delicious Peruvian chicken.

3. Let's just say I took the long way back to the Diazes.  Instead of heading north and west to their house, I headed south and west to just inside NE Washington, D C and paid a visit to my favorite of all spots: DC Brau. John and Lizzie were working the tasting room -- always a pleasure -- and I enjoyed a couple of pours of On the Wings of Armageddon and then purchased a growler of Alpha Domina Mellis and a sixer of On the Wings of Armageddon to share with the family back at the Diaz house. It was a fun evening and I had an especially fun time with Ana:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/03/16: Naps, Hot Soup, Dogfather Imperial Stout from Ponderay, Idaho

1. I took three naps today.

2. I followed a recipe for red curry thai soup and it was way too hot in a red chili pepper way and now I will go to to work to cool it down. Good flavor, too much heat.

3. The Deke and I split a really delicious North Idaho beer today from Laughing Dog Brewery in Ponderay.  It's Bourbon Barrel Aged Dogfather imperial stout, 10.85 ABV (whoa!) and we totally enjoyed its deep, slightly sweet, chocolate-y taste and complex character.  I first drank a snifter of this nearly a year ago in May at Gilly's in Rockville, drove home, sat in the living room, stood up to go into the bedroom, blacked out, tumbled to the floor, busted my laptop's monitor when it crashed against a hallway wall, and quickly was on my feet again.  Remember?  Well, I'm happy to say I enjoyed tonight's 12 oz. of Dogfather without the drama of blacking out! I'm also happy to say I've never had another such incident.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/02/16: *Spotlight*, More of Tom Ripley, *Rocky* Retrospective

1.  If I were in show business, if I were a member of the Academy, I'd be unable to cast an Oscar vote. Each year, as the Oscars are awarded, I'm amazed by how much confidence others have as they argue for what movies and what performances should be given awards.  I suppose, for me, it really comes down to the fact that I don't have an awards or a ranking mentality. If you and I talked about movies thirty years ago, then, yes, I always had a top ten movie list in mind and could rattle it off instantly. That has changed. Now, I just love seeing movies. I don't rank them.  I don't think about awards.

So, today, when I went to the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring (one of my favorite places anywhere) to see Spotlight, I went to see a movie I've wanted to see since it was released.  Mainly, I wanted to see another Tom McCarthy movie.  The Station Agent and The Visitor both moved me with their deep investigation of loneliness and friendship and I enjoyed the range of emotional work McCarthy inspired in Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Hiam Abbass.

Tom McCarthy's work moved me again. The fierce and collective commitment of the Boston Globe's Spotlight team brought me to tears several times and the work of Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, and Brian d'Arcy James to make this fierceness vibrate throughout the story thrilled me.

2. I went to Silver Spring an hour or so before the 11:20 screening and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a pecan braid at Panera and continued to marvel at what a wretchedly amoral character Tom Ripley is as I read further into The Talented Mr. Ripley. I'm intrigued to find out how this story turns out, but it's not enjoyable spending time with this despicable guy.

3. I relaxed this evening with an hour long promotional film that I watched through Amazon Prime that had been put out in advance of the movie, Creed. The film looked back at the six Rocky movies and the circumstances that led to the making of Creed.  It's called From Rocky to Creed: The Legacy Continues.  I especially enjoyed listening to Sylvester Stallone and finding out how he and Ryan Coogler decided to go ahead and make the movie Creed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 03/01/16: National Gallery Photo Exhibit, Really Great Beer, Three Bottles on the Shelf!

1. I drove down to Union Station, parked the Sube in the parking garage like I'd done it 10,000 times before, made my way to the National Mall Circulator bus, and visited the National Gallery of Art to see an exhibit entitled, "Celebrating Photography at the National Gallery of Art: Recent Gifts".  It's an eclectic exhibit, featuring many styles like portraiture, post-modern approaches to landscape, street photography, and others. I'd never seen a street photograph by Richard Avedon before and his picture of a woman holding a folded over newspaper with a screaming headline reporting the death of JFK -- its title: "November 22, 1963 in Times Square" -- arrested my attention as did Paul Graham's series entitled "Pittsburgh" and Deborah Lusters' portraits, a collection called "One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana". The National Gallery of Art provides Lusters' collection online, here.  Here is the Avedon picture that stopped me in my tracks:

2.  When the Deke left school today, she was wound up, in a good way,  after a solid conversation with her principal. The Deke is discovering she has more support in her difficult situation at school than she originally thought. It's a relief.  The Deke jumped into the Sube and suggested we go to the Old Line Bistro for a beer or two and that's what we did. I was psyched when I saw D. C. Brau's deep and abiding imperial IPA, On the Wings of Armageddon, was on tap and the Deke sampled, loved, and drank a couple snifters of Stone's gorgeous 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, out as part of Stone's Encore Series to commemorate the brewery's 20th anniversary.  We didn't stay long.  We didn't drink much. But, we had one of the best sessions of drinking beer ever because the beer and our conversation was so good.

3. I took a little taste of the Deke's Oatmeal Stout and sprang out of the bistro into the adjoining bottle shop to see if there were bottles of this Bittersweet Chocolate available.  There were!  Three of them! I went all out and bought all three of the 22 oz bombers so we can enjoy this beer at selected moments on three occasions in our future.  I love being able to buy these beers that don't come out very often.  Needless to say, the Deke was pretty stoked when I returned to our table with three bottles in the bag.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 02/29/16: Good Talk at Enterprise, Back in the Kitchen, D. C. Vacation Pictures

1. While I waited for one of the men at Enterprise to check the mileage and gasoline in the rental car I returned, I had a great conversation with the other guy in the office.  He's a student at the University of the District of Columbia. I'd never talked to a student from this school before and I enjoyed how happy he was that he decided to go there (he's from Maryland) and that he will "finish his business" at UDC in June.  It was one of those conversations where I left thinking how fun it would be to run into this guy in a few years and see how it's all gone since he finished school.

2. During my vacation with Ed, I didn't do anything in the kitchen except make coffee. Today, I volunteered to make dinner for the Deke and me and for the Diazes and I was kind of giddy about it. I went to the Co-op and picked up a few groceries and returned to our apartment home to cook up a tofu mushroom stroganoff recipe that I tried out for the first time -- and everyone loved it.  The Deke even noticed that it was a recipe I hadn't cooked before and it made me happy to think that the food I cook is not all that generic.

3.  I spent time editing the not very many pictures I took while on vacation with Ed. I was so absorbed by the tours we went on and by taking in the monuments and everything that I didn't take many pictures.  All the same, here are a few. I really enjoyed the gray and misty weather and how it made the Washington Monument look: