Friday, June 30, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/29/17: My Many Thanks, Mom's Good Day, Taking Care of Myself

1. I posted yesterday that I'd had a particularly difficult day with Mom on Wednesday.  Almost immediately, friends and family posted or privately sent me words of encouragement, insight, and strength. Every one of these messages helped me see Mom's situation and what she must be experiencing more clearly and have already helped me improve as one of her caretakers. To all of you who wrote to me and for all of you who continue to hold Mom and our family in your thoughts and prayers, thank you very much.

2.  Overall, Thursday was a good day for Mom. Christy arrived at her room in the morning and helped get her up and dressed. If I remember the story correctly, Mom initiated the idea that she and Christy go outside to the back garden area. Susan and Joe Kerns joined Mom outside and I am certain their visit uplifted her. Susan and Joe's mother, Doris, was one of Mom's very best friends and Susan and Joe have continued in the way of their mother, visiting Mom often. Susan and Joe were with Mom in her room when I arrived and I excused myself so that Mom's living area would be less crowded and out of respect for giving Susan, Joe, and Mom time alone with each other. Before I slipped out, Mom had agreed to eat lunch in the dining room -- it had been at least a week since she had done so. When I returned, much to my delight, I learned that Susan and Joe would be having lunch with Mom.

I returned to Mom's room early in the afternoon, sat with her and talked with her for a couple of hours. Mom spent some of that time sorting out the cards, address books, and other miscellany in the top drawer of the chest of drawers by her bed. Soon she wanted to lie down. Mom had been sitting up in her chair for about six hours. As she went to sleep, I returned to her house and got everything ready for dinner -- all the chopping and slicing and I made a basil-garlic paste in the food processor.

When I went back to see Mom around 4:30 or so, she asked me to get her clothes for the next day out and we talked about where she was and where she wasn't. She ate some dinner. Around six o'clock, I excused myself so I could return to Mom's and fix dinner for Everett, Christy, and me.

3. One concern friends have expressed while I help out with Mom is whether I am taking care of myself. I have been trying to remember to post at least one entry in each of my 3BTs that describes things I am doing that I think qualify as taking care of myself.

I post on this blog every morning. It's vital for me, no matter the quality of the writing. Just sitting down and documenting the previous day's events, among other things, is a way I take care of myself.  My next move will be to get back to taking pictures.

Thursday morning, before I went over to see Mom, I once again walked the verdant trail up to the high school. Just going for a daily twenty to thirty minute walk gets my blood flowing better and helps clear my mind. Every time I mention that I have shopped for food and fixed dinner, I am doing something I love.

I had a great time Thursday afternoon chopping onion, slicing zucchini, making basil-garlic paste, grating Parmesan cheese, and zesting a lemon in preparation for making a recipe called "Summer Pasta with Zuccini, Ricotta, and Basil", here.  Christy, Everett, and I eat dinner together almost every night and review the day and make plans for what lies ahead.

I have several very good lifelong friends who live within a short drive of Kellogg and I do my best to get together with these friends, individually or as a group, to have a meal out or to have a few beers together and to gab for a while.

Lastly, by being where Mom lives, I am taking care of myself. My anxiety about how she is doing day to day has been significantly alleviated by being with her every day and by helping out with her care.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/17: Mom's Frustrations, Walking the Trail, Chicken Dinner on the Deck

1. My helplessness frustrates Mom. When Mom wants to sit up, get into her wheelchair, go to the bathroom, get dressed and so on, yes, it is frustrating for her that she can't do these things on her own, but the fact that I need to buzz for the help of a CNA or another trained person to do these things compounds her frustration. Likewise, it's often difficult to hear and understand what Mom says and when I ask her to repeat herself or when I say back to her what I thought I heard, it frustrates her.

Mom's disapproval has always had a strong impact on me -- whether her disapproval was directed my way, at one of my sisters, or at others outside our home.

All of that is magnified now in this stage of Mom's life. There's never been a time when I wanted to help and please Mom more, not to make her mad, than now, but it's inevitable that she's going to be mad at Christy and me. She's frustrated with her situation and we are making decisions and can't always consult with her about them.

Today I arrived at Mom's room shortly after 11 and she was asleep. She'd been to the Wednesday yoga class and, as happened a week ago, it tuckered her out. I sat with Mom until she began to stir around 12:30 (halfway through The Chew!) and her first words to me were, "You know I'm really mad at you, Bill. You took away my appointment with the eye doctor.  All my problems have to do with my eyes."

I said, "I know." (Even though I know her problems have to do with her failing heart, not her eyes.) I didn't defend canceling the appointment by explaining again that Christy and I didn't think she was strong enough for the travel to and from Post Falls or to sit for a ninety minute to two hour appointment. (Just going to yoga put her to sleep for about an hour and a half.)

Last week, before the decision to cancel the appointment, Rich Nearing took a picture of Mom and me in the dining room. It's now on a bulletin board above Mom's bed. Mom looked at it at one point today and said, "Boy, you can sure tell how mad I am at you in that picture."

I replied, "Yeah. I know."

I knew I wasn't going to do anything to lessen Mom being mad at me. I knew I'd just have to take it.

Soon Christy sent a text message telling me Mom's longtime friend Rosie Rinaldi was coming for a visit. I told Mom Rosie was coming and she told me to leave: "Go to the door and let our guest into the living room." I didn't leave. I succeeded, however, in helping Mom understand that we were in the room Rosie would arrive in.

Just before Rosie arrived and Mom looked at me and said, "G-O. Go, Bill."

"Do you want me to leave while Rosie is here."

Mom looked at me like I'd just told her the earth is flat.

"Of course. Now leave!"

I returned as Rosie was leaving. Mom had gone to the bathroom in my absence and was in her wheelchair and asked me to take her into the kitchen and asked me if she had set the table for dinner yet and we had other conversations along these lines, talking about whether Mom had taken care of things at her house.

Before long, Josh, her speech therapist arrived and Josh played a memory game with Mom and this lightened Mom's mood and seemed to brighten her day. Josh lived in Greenbelt, MD until he was a teenager and so when Josh needed to create a distraction before returning to the game, he and I talked about Greenbelt and other parts of Maryland.

It didn't take long for the memory game to wear Mom out. Josh continued the therapy even as Mom was drifting away in her fatigue and increasingly Mom couldn't remember things that happened in the game just moments before. Josh ended the session by finding a CNA to put Mom back on her bed. I excused myself to go to the public restroom. When I returned, Mom as fast asleep.  I went over to Christy's to talk for a while and then back to Mom's house.

2. My sleep has been fitful the last few nights and I know it has to do with not exercising at all. All I've done is walk across the street to the nursing home and back. This morning I walked on the trail that connects the convergence of Riverside and Mission Avenues with the high school. It's the trail I used to sled on, the trail that Christy and I walked on to get to the window, down below, where we could look in and see Carol as a newborn, the trail I walked countless times to and back from high school, the place I hid out at in the summer of 1969 and got drunk for the first time. It was where I walked late in my senior year to confront my failures as an athlete and to level with myself that I was not exceptional in high school. All these years later, the trail is lush not only with memories, but with underbrush. The trees on the hill above the trail thrive. When I was young, the trail was an easy way to get to the high school and a place where students could get off the high school property and smoke cigarettes. Today, the trail helped me get my body moving again and was a source of tranquil natural beauty.

3. Paul, Christy, Everett, and I ate dinner together on Christy and Everett's deck. For cocktails, Christy fixed a bourbon drink that was lemony and little sweet at the same time, a real pleasure. Christy used the grill to cook a beer can chicken and it was moist and flavorful. She also made a delicious potato salad. Do you remember the black bean, rice, and sweet potato salad I served Monday night and used for filling in the fish tacos on Tuesday night? Well, I still had some left.  I added grated cabbage and carrots to the salad, mixed some sour cream, mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, and homemade taco seasoning in a bowl and folded the mixture into the salad and cabbage blend and we had a side of Mexican cole slaw for dinner along with what Christy prepared.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/27/17: My Day with Mom, Errands and Lunch, Fish Taco Dinner

1. Christy and I just didn't think Mom was strong enough to ride in a car or a van to Post Falls and then have an eye exam at the opthamologist that would last an hour and a half to two hours and then to ride back to Kellogg. So, I canceled her Thursday appointment. Later in the day, Paul agreed this was the right move.

Mom's eyes are bothering her, she said when I told her I canceled the appointment. She asked me if I rescheduled and I told her that I didn't. She flashed me a look of immediate disapproval -- and for good reason. "It's very hard to get an appointment there." She's right. But, I just don't think a visit to the eye doctor in Post Falls will ever happen. I hope I did the right thing.

Shortly after noon, Scott Stuart came to Mom's room to pay a visit and Mom enjoyed remembering the time Scott and other of our friends made wapatuli in a plastic garbage can in her front yard to take to Prichard Days in the summer of 1974.

She also remembered the day back in the early summer of 1965 when Christy and I were cleaning out the garage, in our bare feet, and were hosing the cement floor when Scott came to visit through the Warneke's yard and the gate behind our house. I bounded out of the garage, overly excited to see Scott, and stepped on a shard of the broken neck of an Olympia beer bottle and cut the ball of my foot, requiring a trip to the clinic to have it sewn up. First, though, Mom clipped my toenails.

When Mom said she remembered this happening, I asked her to tell the story and she started out saying that we were about to go on vacation so we needed the garage cleaned out and before long her retelling morphed into another tale about a dance she went to in her youth and who picked her up and that Scott went to the dance. Zoe, Scott, and I listened to this story and I said something like, "Wow! That's great Mom!" and we continued our visit.

That was the last I talked to Mom for the day. I returned to be with her for a couple of hours later in the afternoon. She had fallen into a sleep, a hard sleep, so hard the nurse wouldn't wake her to take her pills and no one could wake her to eat dinner.

Christy went over after dinner and woke Mom up so she could take her medicine, get changed into her pajamas, and be tucked in for the night.

2.  I started out the day getting the tires changed on Mom's car at Silver Valley Tires. She's had the Malibu for eight years and the original tires had finally worn down. I also had a fine pint of IPA at Radio Brewing uptown over lunch with Scott and a few hours later went to the Shoshone Medical Center to have my monthly blood draw taken and sent to the transplant center in Baltimore.

3. For dinner tonight, I refashioned last night's black bean and rice and sweet potato, etc. salad into a main ingredient in fish tacos. I baked some tilapia that I peppered and lemoned, put pieces of the fish on the flour tortillas I had already heated with grated cheese on them, added some cabbage, added the salad, and made a lime wedge for each taco in case Christy or Everett wanted to squeeze lime juice over their taco. I wish I had prepared the tortillas last so that they would have been warm and I wish I had let the salad reach room temperature so that it wasn't so cold in the taco. But the flavors were really good and I liked the crunch of the cabbage.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/26/17: Mom Update, Rice and Bean Salad, *Chopped: After Hours* Stimulated Me

1. Christy went to see Mom around breakfast time and told me that Mom and she shared memories together and Mom had quite a bit to say, especially about the first time Cosette went to church camp and wanted Mom to bunk right below her. She did memory exercises with her speech therapist and by the time I arrived, about 10:30, it was time for her shower. Mom returned looking refreshed. The morning conversations and therapy and the shower tuckered her out. Except for about ninety minutes in the afternoon when Zoe sat with Mom, I was with her until about 5:30 or so and very little transpired between us. Mom ate some of her lunch. Mostly she slept in her wheelchair. She didn't respond when Jane and Lynette came to visit. At one point I buzzed for a nurse to report that Mom was in a lot of lower body pain and the Tylenol he gave her seemed to help. Another staff person recommended that Mom might be more comfortable in bed and moved her. When I left, soon after that, Mom was sleeping peacefully.

2. I made a quick trip to Yoke's and returned to Mom's to fix dinner for Everett and Christy, who put in a seven hour shift at the library today. I made a salad composed of rice, black beans, sweet potatoes, red pepper, cilantro and other items and used street taco-sized flour tortillas to make quesadilla wedges. A cool front had moved in with cloud cover -- a storm came after I went to bed -- and it was very comfortable in Christy and Everett's backyard as we ate dinner, talked about the day and our impressions of Mom's day, and wound down a bit.

3. On YouTube I found several Chopped: After Hours that I'd never seen before and I got so excited watching the chefs who work as judges on the show make dishes from different boxes of oddball ingredients that I had trouble getting to sleep. Oh, well. The episodes inspired me to imagine ways I might refashion the leftover rice and bean salad I made tonight into something different for dinner on Tuesday.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/25/17: Gratitude, Mom's Sunday, Best Shots Dinner

1.  I think I'll start taking my Chromebook to Mom's room so that I can more readily express my gratitude on Facebook and by email to all the people who are writing me comments and notes of support and who are letting me know that they, too, have experienced the complexity and range of emotions that come with bearing witness to the terminal illness of a loved one. I am very grateful for all the kind things people have said. While witnessing the diminishment of my mother is difficult, having friends and family express so much compassion and goodness moves me and helps me experience the ties that bind so many of us in grief. Thank you all very much.

2. All of you who have accompanied a loved one toward death know that you are always looking for positive things to say, even about the smallest accomplishments of the person who is ill. I am deep into this way of talking about Mom. Ask me how Mom's Sunday was and I'll answer, "Well, she ate about five bites of pot roast." I don't mention that she also started to eat her paper napkin. Or I'll say, "She drank her milk shake." I don't mention that she also spilled about a quarter of it on herself because of the spontaneous twitching in her hands. Nor do I mention that these spasms in her hands made it very difficult for Mom to put the bites of pot roast on her fork and into her mouth. I will mention that I volunteered to feed her. Her response, "You don't know what to do, do you?"

Mom's right.

Before I arrived to see Mom shortly after 10 a.m., Paul told me that she was dressed and up in her chair. I arrived and Mom asked for help to go to the bathroom and when the staff person wheeled her from the bathroom back to the vicinity of her bed, Mom asked me to take her out in the hall "to see the other ladies." I uttered a quick prayer of thanksgiving. Mom refused to leave her room the last few days and I was uplifted that she wanted to get out.  A nurse changed the oxygen tank on her wheelchair and we were off. We didn't really see the other ladies, but we did go outside and admire the petunias and carnations and other flowers and had a good sit in the shade. It was hot in Kellogg today, but we were out before the heat intensified and enjoyed an occasional late morning breeze.  Mom didn't talk much. We were out for about a half an hour before she said she was ready to back in.

Back in her room, Mom sat in her wheelchair for several hours. I was with her until around two o'clock when Zoe arrived. I returned around four o'clock after taking a nap, getting myself some groceries at Yoke's, and visiting with Christy who spent the day cleaning her house. Shortly after I arrived, Mom told me she didn't want me to wear the tan cargo shorts I had on anymore when I come to see her. "I want you to wear something clean." (The shorts I had on had just been laundered.) Then she said she wanted to get into her pajamas and go to bed. I left the room while a staff person put Mom into her night wear and, when I returned, Mom was asleep and for this moment she was not twitching or groaning. She was asleep. She was still. She was at peace.

I returned to Mom's house.

3. Christy and Everett and I ate dinner at Best Shots. It was relaxing to take a break from cooking for each other and to enjoy a couple of drinks, some food, and some wide-ranging conversation.  When I headed over to Best Shots, I thought I might go somewhere else afterward, but when we were done eating, I came back to Mom's and flopped to sleep right away.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/24/17: Up and At It, Mom's Distressed Day, Christy Prepares a Perfect Dinner

1. I slept in this morning until 7 a.m. Once I did some writing, I started in on housework around Mom's place: laundry, sweep and mop the kitchen floor, water the houseplants, and start to load up cans of old paint and other painting products for disposal soon.  I was about to vacuum when Christy texted me that Mom was up in her wheelchair. Christy had to get to work and asked me to come over sit with Mom while she was up.

2.  Just as I arrived, a nurse checked Mom's vitals and they were strong. I've spent countless days with Mom over the last few years when her blood pressure was abysmal, but today it was nearly perfect, about 123/80. Mom's oxygen levels were good. At this very basic level of health, Mom's numbers are good.

But, she is but a shadow of the Mary Idell West Woolum I've known all these years. She's losing weight. Her speech is more and more labored. She has lost all interest in going outside to look at flowers and enjoy some fresh air. In fact, she adamantly communicates her disapproval of this idea when I ask her either by nearly crying or by assertively shaking her head. It's the same with leaving her room to go eat in the dining room. I was with Mom for about six and a half hours today and we never had one sustained conversation.

Mom utters single sentences like, "You know, if I went back on the bed, I'd fall asleep right away" or "When are we going?" "Are you ready to go yet?". She slept a lot today both sitting in her wheelchair and lying on her bed, but, to me, she wasn't experiencing that restorative sleep that "knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care". Her head often swung back and forth. She groaned at times. For the first time, she called out Dad's name, "Pert! Pert!" and then she'd call him by his real name, "Ray! Ray!" She called for Christy, too.

Dad is the only other person I've spent extended time with who slept like this. Like Dad during the month of May in 1996, Mom, to me, is distressed and, at times, agitated.

At one point, while she was sitting up, her physical therapist came in and had Mom lift her legs and kick against her hands and push back with her feet and knees against the PT's hands. The PT sang songs like "The Ants Go Marching" to give Mom a rhythm to move her feet to. The PT said Mom's legs and feet were the strongest they'd been all week. She also recommended that we take Mom's walker on four wheels back home, that it presented a potential danger to Mom because of her problems with balance.

Maybe the most difficult thing that happened was when Christy returned to see Mom after her shift at the library and some shopping at WalMart.  I had gone over to Mom's to take a short nap and to do more housework.

This gets confusing to recount, but I'll do my best.

Christy encouraged Mom to sit up, to get back in her wheelchair. Mom did.  Mom thought it was time for a shower. Christy found out that Mom couldn't have a shower on Saturday afternoon because the staff who do showers were not at work. Mom continued to insist that she be wheeled to the shower room. Then, she began to talk as if she had taken a shower.  It went something like this:

Mom: When are we going?

Bill: We are staying here.

Mom: I'm going to take a shower.

Bill: No one is here to give you a shower. You get to stay here and visit with your children.

Mom: I don't want to be naked in front of my children and visit.

I suddenly realized that Mom had gone from wanting a shower to thinking she'd had one and that she was naked in her chair -- and wet.

I assured her that she was dressed and dry and before long she accepted this.

In a few minutes, exhausted her short obsession centered on showering, she lay on her bed again and I sat with Mom until it was time to go to dinner at Christy's around 6:30.

Her distress took another form at some point. Mom was groaning and muttering things I couldn't always understand and then saying Dad's name.

I took her hand.

She pulled it back, quickly and with great force. Her eyes opened wide and fiery:

"We don't do that!"

Earlier, Mom also growled like an angry bear at me in a moment isolated from what came before or after.

Then her mouth turned up into a half-smile. She chuckled as if to say, "Gotcha, didn't I?"

"Yes, Mom," I said to myself, "you got me."

3.  Everett's daughter, Linda, gave Everett a generous slab of salmon for Father's Day and Christy prepared it with a very tasty Mediterranean rub and grilled the salmon on cedar planks and served it with a Mediterranean cucumber salad and watermelon wedges.  Christy, Everett, Paul, Zoe, and I ate together in Christy and Everett's backyard. It was a perfect dinner. It gave us a chance to debrief about our different experiences with Mom recently and some time to relax with delicious food and wine. I had thought about heading uptown after dinner, but I was bushed and stayed home and went to bed early.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/23/17: Mom Update, Trip to Cd'A, On the Town with Ed

1.  For the first time since I arrived in Kellogg, I didn't spent much time with Mom today. I was in Coeur d'Alene much of the day. When I saw Mom around 3:00 or so this afternoon, she was with Paul and Zoe, sitting up in her wheelchair, tired, and ready to be taken home. She repeatedly said things like, "Are you ready?" and "Let's get this show on the road". She always let it go once any of us said we weren't going home. She'd been in her room all day, much of it sitting up. I thought Mom might like to go outside and look at flowers. Mom adamantly let me know she didn't. Shortly before four, Mom suddenly asserted that she want to change into her pajamas, so I buzzed for someone to come and change her. As she lay down, I asked Mom if she wanted Zoe and me to leave so she could have some time to herself and without pause she said, "Yes".  Christy returned around 7:15 and Mom sat up in her comfortable green chair. Christy and Mom visited for a bit and soon Mom wanted to return to bed for the night. During the day she had worked, in her room, with both her physical and occupational therapist and she ate a little bit of her lunch. All in all, from what I saw and after talking with Paul, Zoe, and Christy, today was a stable day for Mom.

2. I was up at 4 a.m. this morning. I drank coffee and puttered around for a while. I wasn't getting the WiFi signal from Christy's router so I took my Chromebook to McDonald's and enjoyed a cup of senior coffee and did my morning writing. On the way to McDonald's, I saw Ed's truck in the parking lot of Sam's Restaurant. He was waiting for his regular Friday morning breakfast crew to arrive and we shot the breeze for a few minutes. Around 7 or so, I drove to Le Peep in Cd'A, a.k.a. Breakfast Town, and met up with Stu, Byrdman, Jake, and Carol Lee for hearty plate of chicken fried steak, peasant potatoes, sourdough toast, and eggs over medium. We had a good session of yakkin' and got a few laughs in and really enjoyed ourselves. I then went to Kohl's to buy three short-sleeved shirts and to Costco to pick up a few things. I bought some Uncle Val's Botanical Gin and some George Dickel Rye Whiskey at the liquor store on Government Way near Appleway and before I left town I stopped to yak some more with Byrdman and enjoy a cold Dr. Pepper.

3. Back in Kellogg, after visiting Mom, I fixed Christy, Everett, and me baked fillets of tilapia resting on red onion slices with lemon slices on top. After dinner, Ed picked me up and we had a drink at Best Shots and then we went up to see Bob Casady, the owner and barkeep at the Inland Lounge. Byrdman was there. So was Dale Jacobs. It was fun to see Harley relaxing after another successful burger night across the street at the Elks club. Soon, Abby strolled in. I had a good talk with Cas about the years he spent caring for his ailing mother before she died. It was a solid evening at the Inland Lounge with guys I've known essentially my whole life.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/22/17: Mom Mostly Slept, Gratitude to Friends and Family, Restorative Dinner at Christy's

1.  I arrived around 9:30 to visit Mom and she was sound asleep and couldn't be awakened. She'd pulled her oxygen tube from her nose sometime during the night and her oxygen level was low. I'm not sure I have the following story exactly right, but here's what I think I heard: Earlier in the morning, her occupational therapist found her sitting in her walker and the walker was unlocked -- she'd gotten out of bed on her own, evidently -- and Mom was rummaging through drawers in the chest of drawers next to her bed. Luckily, she didn't roll out of control while seated on her walker. The OT got her into her comfortable chair and she had some kind of an event -- a seizure maybe.  At some point, the staff helped Mom out of her pajamas and into her jeans and shirt and when I arrived she was showing all the signs of having pulled out her oxygen.

Mostly Mom slept and her arms and hands twitched and she was back to pecking at her chest and neck. I sat with her, often holding her hand, until I had to leave at 1:30 to take care of some business. Then Zoe and Paul sat with her. Soon after I left, Zoe texted me to say Mom sat up for a while, ate a little bit of the hash I had brought and some Kindred cake. By the time I returned to her bedside around 4:00, she was asleep again, often with her eyes open, and muttering things I couldn't understand. At some point, she suddenly sat up, wanted to stand up on her own -- I stood very nearby while she did this -- and wanted to sit in her wheelchair which she did for under ten minutes and went back to lying down. Mom and I didn't have one conversation today. She was never awake long enough to converse and never lucid when she was awake. Today, she didn't experience the revival she had had on Sunday when her day started out similarly.

Just before 7:00, two staff members asked me to leave so they could put Mom in her nightwear. They made her bed more comfortable and helped Mom return to it.  I left and will return to see Mom sometime around lunch on Friday. I'll be in CdA in the morning.

2.  All day long, as I checked my Facebook account, I received heartfelt words of support from friends and family. Some of my friends have been through this same kind of experience with their own parents or other family and expressed their understanding that they knew what was going on and assured me that Mom, even in her sleep, silence, and disorientation, appreciates and is comforted by having Christy, Zoe, Paul, and I at her side so much of the day. I am not able, just yet,  to respond to each comment individually and often don't even have the time to click on "like" or "love". I do, however, deeply appreciate all this support and encouragement. It strengthens me. It helps me feel united with my friends and family who are far away, significantly lessening the isolation I sometimes feel when it's just Mom and me in her room. I also had phone conversations with the Deke which were especially comforting and uplifting.

3. Whatever isolation I feel is also significantly lessened by working with Christy and Zoe and Paul to be with Mom and when we eat evening meals together. Tonight, Christy fixed an enchilada casserole in the crock pot. Because I'd eaten a late lunch while I was waiting for the oil to be changed in Mom's car, I didn't eat as much of the casserole as I normally would, but it was a very comforting meal -- especially the kidney beans for some reason! Christy's back yard was cool and relaxing and I enjoyed having a short pour of Uncle Val's Botanical Gin over a cube of ice and having conversation with Christy, Zoe, Paul, and Everett.  These evenings behind Christy and Everett's house are restorative. They strengthen my resolve to face the next day of uncertainty being with Mom.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/21/17: Morning Chores and Mom's Voice, Lunch with Mom, Mom's Evening Ramblings

1. I popped out of bed at five this morning to write and to clean the kitchen, load the dishwasher, do Mom's and my laundry, water outdoor plants and other things. I am doing my best to meet Mom's high standards of cleanliness around the house with mixed success. It's funny that even though she isn't here, I can hear her telling me what needs to be done and how to do it -- and, then, wouldn't you know it, when I visit Mom and her mind begins to float, among her top concerns is her house. She'll ask, "Are the beds made? How's the dining area? Is my bed cleared off?" Etc. So, I suppose, in part, I'm putting in a little extra effort so that I can answer her questions positively. (Her bed is not cleared off, though.)

2. Christy and I arrived together at Mom's room shortly after 9 o'clock. She was dressed -- although it turned out she put her pants on over her pajama bottoms so one of the staff helped her correct that -- and I thought she seemed fatigued already. Mom's occupational therapist persuaded Mom to attend the Wednesday morning yoga class. Christy attended with her and I dashed back over to Mom's and organized my clothes and belongings and arranged to have Mom's car serviced on Thursday.

Upon returning, Shoshone News-Press under my arm, Christy left to join Everett for an afternoon in Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls. I wheeled Mom out into the fresh air of the garden area where she read Joan Ross's obituary and we talked about some things. We went back in for lunch and Mom was more tired than usual and the things she had to say were increasingly disconnected. To our delight, Zoe and Paul arrived during lunch and we all returned to Mom's room.

Christy and Everett had brought a comfortable chair over to Mom's room from her bedroom with the hope that when Mom sits up in her room she'll use that chair rather than the wheelchair. Zoe read Mom a letter Carol wrote her from Italy. I returned to Mom's and rested.

3. When I arrived back at Mom's room around 5 p.m., Zoe was with Mom. Earlier, Mom had asked Zoe and Paul to leave so she could sleep. Zoe returned around 3 p.m. ready to do Mom's nails, but, as it turned out, Wednesday was Nail Day at Kindred and someone had already trimmed and polished Mom's nails.

Mom was fighting hard to stay awake. She was adamant about not going to the dining hall and she continued to speak whatever popped next into her mind. Mom wanted to get in her wheelchair and have me wheel her to "the dining area". I thought she had changed her mind about going to the dining hall and this frustrated her so much she nearly cried and was red-faced with frustration. No, she wanted to see the dining area in her house. She thought we were at her home. She berated me briefly for trying to tell her what to do about going to the Kindred dining hall. I got mixed up because Mom has never referred to the table sitting in our kitchen as the "dining area" before -- but, I took my lumps, quickly recovered, and temporarily helped her understand we weren't at her house.

Mom was seeing things, including a airplane near the ceiling of her room, and she talked for a while as if Jack and Shirley Carney were Zoe's grandparents. We then talked about who Zoe's grandparents are, including Mary and Pert Woolum, and we discussed who Jack and Shirley's kids are and how many children they have. Mom suddenly thought it would be a good idea for us to work on making a Turnbow family tree, since "we don't have anything else to do".

I understand if these stories make you laugh. If it weren't my mother, I'd probably think the oddball comments and misunderstandings and hallucinations were funny, too.  I understand if, for any of you reading this, the absurdity of what Mom says provides some comic relief to a sad situation as Mom's mind betrays her.

Maybe one day I'll sit around with Carol and Christy and Zoe and Paul and others and we'll look back and remember the random things Mom said and I'll have a good laugh then.

For now, I try to enter Mom's world and answer her questions and I try to help her understand where she is and keep the conversation going. I think she's frightened. I hope that having family nearby during much of the day helps her feel more secure.

Shortly after I returned to Mom's house, Christy and Everett arrived back from Post Falls.

I had asked Christy to find me a 16 oz. mug for my morning coffee. She did. This made me very happy.

Christy also bought a fifth of Uncle Val's Botanical Gin.

We sat on her back deck, enjoyed some gin, and talked about the day just completed.

This was the relief from Mom's sad situation that I needed.

Oh! Christy took this picture of Mom and Zoe on Monday, June 19th before the care conference at Kindred. As you can see, Mom looks pretty good, especially after she'd had such a rough day on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/20/17: Mom in the Garden, Cooking Chicken Dinner, Mom's Fatigue and Fragile Mind

1.  When I arrived at Mom's room this morning, staff were assisting her in getting dressed. I suggested we leave the room and go outside into the cool Kellogg morning and enjoy the fresh air and roses, violas, columbine, petunias, and other flowers along with the blue spruce and Ponderosa pines outside. I pushed Mom in her wheelchair around the garden area and then we sat and visited for a while until we returned to her room. Mom's occupational therapist soon arrived and I left to run some errands, but returned before too long to take Mom to lunch at the dining hall and to spend more time outside. At lunch and during our second visit to the garden, fatigue was setting in for Mom and the things she had to say were increasingly disconnected from what was going on around her and became more random. At lunch, I couldn't tell if Mom was tracking what Peny or Betty had to say. Her contributions to the conversation didn't grow out of the others' comments or observations. Mom was part in the world of the dining room and part in a world of her own. She didn't eat much.

2.  I wheeled Mom back to her room and left her to rest and probably sleep. Back at Mom's house, I rested a bit, took a short nap, went over to the store, and used the lemon garlic baked tilapia recipe the Deke and I enjoy so much to bake drumsticks for Christy, Everett, and me to eat later for dinner.

3. I returned to Kindred around five o'clock, thinking I'd wheel Mom down to the dining room. As I strolled into her room, her physical therapist, Sheri, was leaving and Mom was bushed after her session. Firmly, she told me she wasn't going to the dining room. No problem.

This is not a medical observation, merely the observation of a son: when Mom gets tired, the symptoms of her vascular dementia start to take over. This evening, Mom's ramblings were incoherent. She was seeing things before her eyes that I couldn't see. I'm not saying they weren't there -- for Mom, they were there, but I couldn't see them. I tried to answer her questions about these things and listened to her tell me about things that happened in her mind, but nowhere else. When she told me to get out a pad and pen and write down things I needed to look for, I did so -- one of those things was her cell phone, and I found it.

For dinner, Mom ate a container of applesauce I brought over and a little bit of the hash I had made the night before. Tuesday night is ice cream night and when John brought her a cup of huckleberry ice cream, she was uninterested in it. We'd all like to see Mom eat more, but I don't think she's going to. Mom asked to go to the bathroom and wanted to change into her pajamas, so I buzzed for help, waited, stepped out, returned to her room, and then bade Mom good night and went back to the house, finished cooking dinner, and took the chicken, rice, and corn over to Christy and Everett's.

One other thing: when I was injured in a roaster at the Zinc Plant back in 1973, the superintendent of the roaster floors was Rich Nearing. Now Rich volunteers in the evenings at Kindred. On Monday, he took a picture of me and Mom and today he brought it to Mom's room and he asked me to remind him about my accident and I told a very short version of what happened. It started to come back to him and we reminisced a bit about the Zinc Plant and he told me about a serious injury he suffered at the Phosphoric Acid Plant. We may not return to talking about the injuries we suffered at the Zinc Plant anymore, but it'll be good to see Rich as the summer continues.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/19/17: Mom's Strong Morning, Taking Mom Outside, Dinner and Mom's Ice Cream

1. Mom's condition today was nothing like yesterday. It was almost the opposite. I arrived at Kindred around 8:30. Mom was in bed. Mom's occupational therapist popped in and helped her get dressed and cleaned up. Mom participated in the meeting Christy has scheduled with some of the Kindred staff -- a care conference -- so that newcomers Zoe and I could meet different staff and we could discuss Mom's current situation.

I came away from the meeting with a stronger understanding of why the therapy staff wants Mom to eat in the dining room, not in the room where she lives. I decided I will do my best to accompany Mom to lunch and dinner, sit with her, and visit with her tablemates, Peny, Betty, and Christy (a Kindred resident -- not my sister!). I am also going to take helpings of food to Mom from home more regularly. It's hard to tell if Mom has lost her appetite or if she doesn't like the food at Kindred. She doesn't eat much at the table. I chopped up fresh strawberries for her at lunch and I have other ideas of food to take over that she might enjoy.

2. After the care conference, Zoe, Christy, Mom, and I went out into the garden area and sat in a shaded area and enjoyed the fresh air, admired the trees and vivid flowers growing all about, and yakked. Before the care conference, a CNA had told Mom that she would give Mom a shower some time after 11, so I wheeled Mom back to her room and Misty arrived and took Mom away. Mom and I then ate lunch.

3. That was a pretty full morning and, after lunch, Mom returned to her room and lay down.  I returned to Mom's house and took a short nap. Christy worked at the library until 7:00 p.m. and I volunteered to cook dinner.

I decided to make ground beef hash. It was easy: I chopped up three small Russet potatoes and a yam along with a yellow onion, seasoned them with garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper and fried them along with a pound of ground chuck until the potatoes were tender and meat no longer pink. I covered it, returned to Kindred to sit with Mom at dinner and wheeled her back outside where Peny's dog Joey was prancing around. We visited with Peny, had fun watching Joey, and explored the grounds at Kindred a little more extensively until I needed to return home to finish cooking dinner.

I warmed the potatoes, onion, and meat back up and then made three indentations in the hash. I cracked an egg into each depression and let the eggs cook until the whites began to lose their translucence. I put the skillet in the oven and let the eggs bake until the whites firmed up and the yolk was cooked up right. I pulled the skillet out of the oven, put a bottle of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA in my pocket with a bottle opener,  and walked through the gate between Mom's and Christy's yards to the table Christy and Everett had set, plopped down the skillet and we dug in. I didn't get chopped! Christy and Everett liked the hash.  (By the way, I didn't follow the recipe in every detail, but the recipe that guided me is here.)

I chopped up more strawberries for Mom and Christy and I bought her a plain sundae at McDonald's. Mom loves soft ice cream. I put the ice cream and strawberries together in a bowl and Mom devoured her sweet treat. Watching her eat the ice cream and strawberries so ravenously made me think that Mom might eat more if she enjoys the food more, so I'll see what I can do about fixing things she likes and taking them over.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/18/17: Writing and Breakfast, Mom's Rough Day, Mom's Revival

1. My body is in Kellogg, but its system is on Eastern Standard Time, so I was up at 5:30 this morning, welcomed by a cool, quiet Kellogg morning. I spent quite a bit of time this morning writing in this blog, trying to honestly and accurately document what I am seeing as Mom's condition continues to decline. At around 8 o'clock, I strolled down to Sam's Restaurant with some sections of the Spokesman Review in hand and enjoyed a huge breakfast of fat link sausages, hash browns, eggs, and English muffin.

It turns out it was good I had started the day with a hearty breakfast.

2. Mom had had a difficult night. When I arrived to at about 9:00, she was in a hospital gown, not the pajamas she'd gone to bed wearing, and her sheets were changed. Mom thought she'd been to the dining room for breakfast, but it turns out she hadn't. I don't know if she ate some breakfast in her room.

I stayed with Mom for a couple of hours. A nurse came in and helped her get to the bathroom. Mom couldn't raise herself to a sitting position nor could she stand up on her own to use her walker.

She spent much of the ensuing time in what looked to me like restless sleep. Her hands and arms are beginning to twitch involuntarily and she is beginning to touch herself on the neck and torso and sometimes holds her hands up as if she's trying to read something and other times she mimes drinking water or eating.  She was often talking in this state of restless sleep and I could rarely tell what she was saying.

Christy arrived around 10:30 and a staff member came in to comfort Mom and talk with her about getting dressed. Mom kept saying, "Give me ten more minutes" or "Give me two more minutes."  The staff person worked with this and I could see that soon she would dress Mom and I excused myself to go do some grocery shopping, wash some laundry for Mom at her house, and take care of some personal business, including a phone call to the Deke.

I returned to Kindred around 1:30 and Mom was dressed.

A very rough afternoon got underway.

Mom's mouth turned downward into a deep frown, her cheeks looked hollow, and the twitching and touching her upper body increased.  She clawed the oxygen tube out of her nose several times and pushed my hands away when I tried to put it back in -- I buzzed for assistance and a staff member was much better than I at putting it back in.

Mom continued to speak incoherently in a weak, hoarse voice and sometimes she'd begin counting -- "one, two, three, four" up to twelve or so and then she'd count by tens -- "ten, twenty, thirty" up to like eighty.

At one point, Christy returned to her house to see Everett and to get ready for a family dinner planned at 4:00 at Carol and Paul's. When Carol texted to say Paul would come by Kindred at 3:30 to transport Mom, I returned a message saying I doubted Mom could go and suggested Carol come and see Mom now.

For all of us, seeing Mom's condition worsen so much this afternoon was grievous. Carol hadn't seen Mom since Saturday and it had been a day or two for Paul. They were shaken. Mom was the most frail and vulnerable we'd ever seen her.

3.  Then things changed.

I stayed with Mom while the others ate dinner at Carol and Paul's.

Mom told me she was hot and I buzzed for help, suggesting to a staff member that Mom would like to get out of her shirt and pants and changed into a hospital gown. A couple of staff members changed Mom and helped her get situated again in her bed.

Almost miraculously, with the change of clothes, Mom was awake, alert, conversational. It was as if the morning and afternoon of what I thought was restless sleep had restored her. I texted Christy and Carol and told them that Mom had perked up, that she and I were talking.

Granted, Mom is experiencing vascular dementia, so our conversations involved talking about things that had happened and things that Mom imagined. Mom is confused. She often thinks she is in her house across the street and so, for example, she asked me to go to the kitchen and get her some bread and she wanted some salsa. She thought salsa would taste good.  She didn't always know who I was and asked me what my brother's name is.

But, sense or nonsense, it was a great relief to see Mom emerge from the semi-conscious state she'd been in earlier and to sit up a little better and be back with us.

Christy returned with Everett and I went back to Mom's house to finish the laundry and to wait for a plate of dinner, delivered by Molly, Zoe, and Cosette. I talked some more with the Deke.

I returned to see Mom. Christy and Carol were there. Mom's revival continued. In fact, she asked for a plate of the Father's Day dinner and Carol called over to her house and soon Molly brought Mom the food and Mom ate a bit, said she wanted a break, but said she'd eat more in a few minutes.

At this point, still adjusting to Pacific Standard Time -- it was getting to be about 10:30 or so for my system -- I excused myself, returned to Mom's house, and soon went to bed.

I haven't told the whole Sunday story here. I might have mixed up some chronology. But what I've written is close to accurate.  If I need to correct anything, or if Christy or Carol would like me to add anything for the record, I will come back and do so.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/17/17: Leaving the Deke, Disconcerting Mom Update, Sibling Outing at Radio Brewing

1.  I sprang out of bed at 4:30 this morning so I'd have about an hour or so to shower, shave, drink coffee, write a blog post (3BTs), and finish packing a few last things.

The Deke and I have a good thing going. We are accustomed to stretches of time apart from each other. We have both struck out on our own many times to help out family members. I've made many extended trips to Kellogg over the last seventeen years or so, beginning when Mom was recovering from cancer treatment in 2000 and multiple times since then. The Deke has also traveled independently over the years to, among other things, be with her ailing and now deceased mother, to help out with the birth of Olivia, to see Adrienne when we all lived on opposite sides of the country, and to be with her brother, David, when he died in 2009.

We know how to do this.

The Deke and I also know how to live together, how to have fun, gab, laugh, mourn, vent, extend ourselves to others. help each other out, in short, live a good life together.

It's difficult when we separate.

This morning was no exception. We both know that my coming to Kellogg to be with Christy and Carol and to do all we can to help comfort and care for Mom is the right thing to do.

All the same, it was difficult to separate this morning. We will see each other again in July -- I'm very grateful for that -- and we'll yak on the phone. It'll all work out. It always does.

We have a good thing going.

2.  I had easy flights to Chicago and then Spokane. The Byrdman picked me up at the airport and we got in some top notch yakkin' on the drive to Kellogg.

Christy and I went to Kindred around 2:30 or so and joined Carol who was already there to see Mom.

I last saw Mom in the middle of April, on the 13th, two months ago.

Mom's condition has weakened considerably in the last two months. I knew this was true because of how diligent Christy and Carol have been in describing and narrating Mom's difficulties almost daily
in updates they write and we share with each other on Google Docs.

But even having read all that my sisters wrote, seeing Mom in person startled me.

Her once potent voice is even more feeble. Her overall complexion is gray. When she had to visit the bathroom, she needed assistance sitting up, had to rest after sitting up before being helped to her feet and situated with her walker, and needed Carol's assistance to make her way into the commode. She sat on her walker and scooted it when she returned to bed, too tired and weak to walk back.

Mom is seeing things that none of the rest of us see -- tubes overhead, an envelope at the end of her bed, for example. She loses track of where she is.  More than once today Mom thought she was in her house. She's not confused all the time.  But when Christy and I returned for an evening visit, her lapses into confusion and the way she was seeing things that weren't there disconcerted both of us.

On Father's Day, we are having a family dinner to wish Carol God's speed as she departs for Italy on Monday.  Molly, Zoe, and Cosette will get to honor Paul by fixing all of us dinner and expressing their love and gratitude for all that he's been to them and for them as their father.

The plan is for Mom to come over to Carol and Paul's for this dinner. I hope she can make it. I want to believe that joining in the festivities and being out in the fresh Kellogg air eating the girls' cooking and maybe having a nip of Riesling wine will boost her morale and bring joy to her fragile heart.

3. Christy, Carol, and I left Kindred and went uptown to a new establishment in town: Radio Brewing. The physical design of the place, the decor as well as the menus, is built around radios and vinyl records. It's a spacious and comfortable brewery with several beers already brewed, new ones to come, and a splendid menu. I enjoyed a couple of pints of Extra Special Bitter and the three of us shared a cheese plate and each had an entree -- I had mashed potatoes, gravy, and beef brisket served in a waffle cone -- I'd never had meat and potatoes served this way and enjoyed the taste as well as the novelty of my order.

By now, I'd been up and at it with having flown across the country since 1:30 a.m. PST and I was a little too tired to delve into Mom's finances in detail, but Carol helped Christy and me see that, generally speaking, in the short term, Mom's financial picture is all right.  The three of us spent most of our time talking about Mom's ailing health, the progressive deterioration of her heart function and its impact on her mind and her body. We hope, if it works out on Kindred's end and if Mom agrees to it, that we can move Mom to a semi-private room where things would be quieter. We have a care meeting scheduled on Monday so we might find out more about this possibility at that time.

I'm deeply grateful that Christy, Carol, and I are working cooperatively to help Mom as best we can, not only by being with her as often as possible at Kindred, but by seeing to it that her house is clean and functioning and the same with her yard and garden. When Mom can pay her house and yard a visit and see how great everything looks, I hope it will make her happy to see that her family -- daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, grandson-in-law -- has worked diligently to keep everything looking good and to help her yard and garden thrive.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/16/17: Filing, Anacostia and DC Brau, Preparing for Kellogg

1. The Deke spent the day at Maya Angelou French Immersion, meeting with the staff, preparing for the next school year. Meanwhile, I dove into a project I've been putting of for months and refiled our papers and reduced our number of files and file folders significantly. It all fits a in a milk crate.

2. I drove down to Maya Angelou and picked up the Deke so we could have a beer or two at DC Brau. Traffic was heavy. It took us over thirty-five minutes to travel no more than ten miles. The Waze app routed us through SE Washington, D. C., so I had my first experience driving in the Anacostia neighborhood, also known as Ward 8 or just "East of the River". I've resolved to be more calm about driving in unfamiliar places with intersections I don't always understand and it paid off. I made all the correct turns, only got honked at twice (!), and the Deke arrived at the brewery in fine shape to enjoy On the Wings of Armageddon together, something we won't be able to do again until late in the summer.

3.  Christy, Carol, and I will sit down together in Kellogg on Saturday, possibly at Radio Brewing, to discuss Mom: updates, how to proceed, what the possibilities are, and so on. For me, this will be, for the most part, a mouth shut, ears open session. Through the magic of the internet and Google Docs and texting, we got this conversation started today and already can see that we have a lot to discuss and are guided by devotion to mutuality and goodwill.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/15/17: Walking Old Greenbelt, Packing Early, Mom Update

1. I dropped off the Sube at the Sunoco station again this morning, talked briefly with the mechanic, and walked back home through some of the co-op housing townhouses on one of the original sidewalks designed by Eleanor Roosevelt and her collaborators when Greenbelt was planned in 1935. These homes are nearly eighty years old, modest, with small yards, in the midst of lush trees and bushes. I can't say why I haven't explored this walkway and others like it in Old Greenbelt -- I always just walked along Crescent Road, the main roadway back to where we live. I'll change that.  By the way, the Sube is in good shape, ready for our upcoming separation.

2. I am nearly done packing for my trip back to Kellogg on Saturday.  One of the small things I can do to maintain some semblance of peace of mind is not wait until the last minute to do get ready for a trip like this, so I've left myself the entire day on Friday to make sure I've got what I want.

3. Mom saw her primary care provider today and the doctor diagnosed her with vascular dementia. Christy and Carol write me updates regularly about Mom and most of them have included Mom having episodes of confusion, disorientation, and lapses in memory. It's not good news by any means, but having a diagnosis will help define more clearly the care for Mom, especially when it comes to diet, hydration, and helping Mom move about, all of which can help slow down the dementia's development. Christy said the diagnosis helped Mom feel better. I think this means that she has a clearer idea of what she's dealing with and she talked with Christy about her diet, about ways she can increase her protein intake.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/14/17: Checking the Sube, Starting to Pack, 1979 Fall Classic

1. I took the Sube down to the Sunoco station to be serviced and to make sure the tires and brakes and a/c are in all in good shape for the Deke since I'll be gone for at least two and a half months. We've had a heat wave here in Greenbelt, but since I dropped off the car around 7:00 this morning, the walk home was comfortable -- not quite cool, but comfortable.  It turns out the guys at the garage got behind and the Sube didn't get on the rack, so I'll go back in the morning.

2. I leave for Kellogg on Saturday morning. I have been casually doing this and that to get myself packed, but today I got serious and boxed up my blood draw kits to mail to Kellogg and got my laundry done and Thursday I'll start getting my stuff packed.

3. When sports writers look back on the best World Series of all time, they never even mention my favorite Fall Classic: the 1979 Orioles/Pirates brouhaha.  I loved the way the Pirates came back from the brink of elimination, down 3-1 after four games and having to face pitching aces Mike Flanagan, Jim Palmer, and Scott McGregor, and swept games five through seven. Tonight I watched a program looking back at that World Series, here.  The narrator was Vin Scully and the whole video awakened many happy memories from that time in my life.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/13/17: Vacuuming in Peace, School's Out for Summer, Harriet is Home

1. Molly agreed to keep the corgis at her house a little longer than planned and I seized upon the opportunity of a temporarily dog-free apartment home to vacuum the bedroom, hallway, living room, and dining area in peace. The corgis perceive the vacuum cleaner as a fiend. They aggressively attack it when it's off if I move it from one place to another in their presence and when I turn it on, they scream bark it agony. This morning I experienced one of the most relaxing and satisfying sessions of vacuuming I've had in years.

2. I picked up the Deke this afternoon at work. She had completed her last day at Dora Kennedy French Immersion School and so we went to Old Line to celebrate and, much to our surprise and delight, Molly contacted the Deke to say she'd be joining us. We noshed on this and that and I enjoyed a gin that Chris at Old Line told me about on Saturday, but that I'd never tried before: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin. I ordered it lightly iced. It beautifully combines juniper, lavender, sage, lemon, and cucumber, making it a refreshing and complex spirit.

3. Today, I went to Hannah's Facebook page to see if she'd posted any news about Harriet Potter and now I know for sure that Harriet is reunited with Hannah and her two dog mates, Tara and Snorri. Below you'll find a picture of the three dogs at home in Salem followed by some shots I took of Harriet Potter before I drove her to Dulles International Airport to fly away.

Tara, Harriet Potter, Snorri

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/17: Harriet Flies to Portland, New Job, Foyle Cracks Another Case

1. After spending the morning and early afternoon hanging out with Harriet Potter and making sure I had the paperwork all gathered, we drove out to Dulles International Airport where I signed about 15,000 documents and worked with a United employee to get everything just right with Harriet's crate and Harriet in her crate and I said goodbye to her. Hannah texted the Deke reporting that Harriet arrived in Portland, OR.  I look forward to hearing more about how she is doing, reunited with Hannah and with Hannah's two other dogs.

2. The Deke wrestled over the weekend about what to do next school year. She rescinded her resignation too late to return to the school where she's been teaching the last three years and wondered if she just might go ahead and not teach next year. She was, however, offered a fifth grade job at the district's other French Immersion school in the lower part of the county about 30-35 minutes away. This morning I received an email from the the Deke telling me she just couldn't turn that job down. So, next school year the Deke will be teaching at Maya Angelou French Immersion School near Oxon Hill and Temple Hills, not far from National Harbor.

3. Tonight, we took in another episode of Foyle's War. Christopher Foyle, with Sam's help, brilliantly got to the bottom of a gasoline (petrol) pilfering operation and the murder of a woman who was involved in the operation.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/11/17: Vet's Letter for Harriet, Watergate on ABC, Foyle is Outraged

1. It looks like things are lined up for Harriet Potter to fly away on Monday, June 12th from Dulles International Airport. Her reservation is confirmed and, today, the Deke secured a letter from the veterinarian certifying that while Harriet is a mixed terrier breed, she is not part pit bull and is of a sweet and safe disposition.

2.  I've probably had enough of Watergate documentaries for a while. Today I found a video that the ABC network made, here.  It's a compilation of ABC's stories as they appeared on the nightly news, starting with news of the break-in and extending to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. I watched it alone while the Deke was over at the Diazes and then again when she got home. It played like any one of Shakespeare's tragedies, except that the protagonist did not die. But, as a story about downfall filled with self-destruction and self-delusion and as the story's conclusion became more and more inevitable, it filled me with a fear and awe much like Shakespeare's dark plays do. What was I in awe of? The power of truth and truth telling and the destructive power of the darkness and deep insecurities in Richard Nixon's inward self that moved him and those loyal to him to be so multi-dimensionally mendacious.

3. Without knowing I would do so, I continued to examine mendacity by watching "Twelve Ships" the first episode of the second season of Foyle's War. This episode features terrible corruption within the town of Hastings -- bombed houses being looted -- and international corruption as well.  Christopher Foyle must confront an American millionaire whose wealth is built upon stealing, betrayal, and lying. It's a chilling episode and the terrible offenses of the perpetrators move Foyle to use the strongest language I'd ever heard him direct at criminals he has apprehended.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/10/17: American Airlines Snafu, Braised Thai Curry Chicken, More Watergate

1.  I am going to miss Harriet Potter. She's such a sweet dog, such a comfortable and comforting companion.

Such thoughts occupied my mind at 4:30 this morning as the Deke and I gathered ourselves, loaded up Harriet and her travel crate, and made our way to the American Airlines cargo office.

"I can't let this dog on a plane," Eugene, the gatekeeper at American Airlines cargo told us. "She's a terrier mix and I can't allow a terrier mix to be transported in case it's part pit bull. American Airlines is very strict about this."  At some earlier point in time, the "higher ups" had come down on Eugene during an audit because he'd let a dog travel that he shouldn't have.  He was determined not to violate the regulations again.

Had the lines on the health certificate and on the reservation identifying the breed been filled in differently, Harriet could have traveled. But they weren't. We were stymied. We know Harriet is not a dangerous dog. Eugene could see that Harriet is not a dangerous dog as she sweetly, calmly, and quietly stood in Eugene's office and that Harriet has not one pit bull feature.

These realities didn't matter.

The paperwork mattered.

Hannah's plan to fly from India with her other two dogs into Seattle on Saturday where Harriet Potter would be waiting and then rent a van and drive her dogs to Salem had just fallen apart.

We couldn't do anything. The Deke and I loaded Harriet back up in the Sube and returned to our apartment home. The Deke messaged Hannah with the frustrating news.

Later in the day the Deke talked with United Airlines. She didn't want to deal with American Airlines again. She booked Harriet a new flight out of Dulles on Monday afternoon. She'll fly non-stop to Portland.  The Deke carefully worked with the United agent to make sure we had everything in order so that Harriet Potter would not be refused again. The Deke called the vet's office. We would need to return to the vet and secure a note and attach it to the health certificate stating the vet's confidence that Harriet Potter doesn't have any pit bull in her.

What helped relieve our frustration and disappointment that our attempt to ship Harriet failed?

Harriet Potter will be with us Saturday, Sunday, and much of the day on Monday. I didn't have to say goodbye after all.

2.  I had seen Chef Scott Conant braise either a cut of meat or a piece of fish on Chopped: After Hours. At the time, I looked into braising and wondered if there might be a recipe for Thai curry braised chicken. I found one right away and this afternoon I fried each side of four chicken thighs for about five minutes per side and, in another pan, combined green curry paste, fresh chopped ginger, chopped garlic, coconut cream, chicken broth, fish sauce, and some sugar. My cast iron pans don't have lids, so I simmered the chicken in the curry sauce in our crock pot. Just before serving, I boiled shrimp noodles -- which don't have much of a shrimp taste -- drained them, and put them in the crock pot.  The Deke and I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. The Deke cleaned the curry off of a couple pieces of the chicken, chopped them up, and Harriet loved having some chicken, too.  The recipe I was guided by? It's right here.

(By the way, I buy Maesri brand curry pastes. The recipe calls for using Thai Kitchen curry paste. If I used as much Maesri curry paste as the recipe calls for, we wouldn't be able to eat the food. It would be too peppery, too hot. Maybe the Thai Kitchen curry pastes are less intense -- I don't know -- or maybe the Deke and I simply enjoy a milder curry. I recommend that if you try this recipe,  start out with less curry paste, taste the sauce as it cooks, and add more paste if you want more heat.)

3. The Deke and I dove back into Watergate this afternoon and evening. We put on the Discovery Channel's treatment of the story (here, here, and here) and then rounded out our evening with the movie Frost/Nixon.  One thought I had. Richard Nixon's sound judgment was his first virtue to disintegrate as his jealousy, secrecy, resentment, suspicion, desperate clinging to power and legacy, and lust for revenge took over his psyche. The erosion of many other virtues accompanied the corruption of his sound judgment.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/09/17: Harriet Guides Me, More Watergate Films, Comfort Food Again

1. Harriet and I went down to Greenbelt Lake. I thought we'd stroll the circumference again, but she wasn't interested. She wanted to sniff around a picnic area just off the lake trail and then she guided me back to the car. Once back to our apartment home, she relaxed on the couch and slept much of the afternoon.

2. After I watched All the President's Men last night, this afternoon and evening I watched three Watergate documentaries. The first was from National Geographic, here; then I watched a documentary Robert Redford produced and narrated to commemorate the 40th anniversary of All the President's Men, here; last, I watched a retrospective of Dick Cavett's many interviews with many of the people involved in Watergate and listened to his and others' reflections looking back. It's here.  These documentaries made me think about how revenge is so closely related to jealousy and resentment and paranoia, all of them, like jealousy, are, as Shakespeare wrote, green-eyed monsters which mock the meat they feed on. Become consumed by and then act on jealousy, resentment, and paranoia by seeking revenge, and self-defeat and self-destruction follow.  It's the tragic pattern. It was Richard Nixon's pattern, too. Such a terrible waste.

3. It was fun having two pieces of fish left over from last night's fish bake. We also had rice left over and I boiled some potatoes to add a little variety to our meal.  Some uncertainties again have sprung up in our life here in Greenbelt. We'll figure it all out soon enough, but having things be somewhat unsettled makes eating comfort food like potatoes and fish and rice all the more pleasing.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/08/17: Harriet and the Sube, Oil and Vinegar, Jane Alexander Moves Me Again

1. Our temporary dog guest, Harriet Potter, enjoys riding in the car and so she rode with me when we took the Deke to work, sat patiently for the few minutes it took me to gas up the Sube, and rode down the Beltway with the Deke and me to Maya Angelou French Immersion School in the lower part of the county where the Deke paid a visit to learn more about the district's other French Immersion school. I didn't put Harriet to the test of listening to the James Comey testimony on the radio. Instead, we listened to Chopin and Brahms and Vivaldi and other composers' music on WETA-FM, Washington, D.C.'s classical station. Harriet seemed fine with that.

2. It made me very happy when the Deke told me she'd like the lemon garlic baked tilapia again that I made not too long ago. I had cucumbers, red onion, and grape tomatoes on hand, so I chopped them up, salt and peppered them, and dressed them with olive oil, rice vinegar, and white wine vinegar and added some garlic powder. It was a really good salad and reminded me of the many, many, many times my grandmothers and Mom made similar salads during the summer, often using garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and, when available, Walla Walla Sweet Onions.

3. It's like when you come home day after day and put the same album on that you just can't get enough of. Only the Deke and I do this with Fry and Laurie and I've gone through times when, day after day, I put on Stop Making Sense. Well, now our favorite "album" that we put on and listen to repeatedly is the movie All the President's Men and it was, for the millionth time, it seems, thrilling to experience this story build and unfold and to watch its perfect cast at work. Once again, as a conflicted member of the bureaucracy who slowly, haltingly, reluctantly becomes a whistleblower as her pained conscience cannot bear withholding the truth any longer, Jane Alexander, playing the CREEP bookkeeper, moved me. I love watching her act.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/07/17: Walking the Lake with Harriet, Harriet's Healthy, Harriet's Terrible and Miraculous History

1. Our temporary dog guest, Harriet Potter, was an ideal companion today. The highlight of our day was strolling the circumference of Greenbelt Lake. Harriet was calm. She never tugged on the leash. She was unconcerned about the presence of other dogs -- just as they were unconcerned about her. I couldn't help but try to imagine what she was experiencing as we walked in the cool shade of the generous trees bordering the trail with the lake always within sight when just two days ago she was living in an apartment in India. But, maybe, as a dog, she was so locked into the present moment that she wasn't seeing Greenbelt Lake with any memory at all. The contrast was more than likely all in my head.

2. Harriet and I picked up the Deke and drove over to the vet in Colesville, MD to secure a health certificate so that Harriet can fly to Seattle on Saturday where Hannah will pick her up and drive to Salem, OR. We hit a snag in obtaining the certificate because we didn't have Hannah's Salem address or her phone number. We got the address online and Christelle, another former Charlemagne teacher who now lives in Maine, confirmed it and gave us Hannah's phone number. Harriet is in great health and is certified to fly.

3. When Harriet was a stray dog, someone abused her by pouring a hot liquid, like grease or oil, on her back leaving a long winding scar. As we left PetSmart, a friendly and dog loving woman, a little older than us, asked us about Harriet and wondered what happened to create the scar. The Deke told her what she knew about Harriet's story and the three of us had an emotional moment of expressing our disgust with Harriet having been abused, our relief and happiness that Hannah found Harriet, who was giving birth to a litter of puppies in a stairwell (Hannah took in Harriet and found homes for the puppies), and that Harriet's life took such a miraculous turn for the better.

The vet, by the way, remarked that while Harriet's body was scarred by this abuse, she showed no signs of having been scarred mentally. To me, this is a miracle. Harriet Potter is a deeply trusting dog, not skittish or suspicious of people or other dogs. It's miraculous.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/06/17: McEnroe and Borg and More, Harriet Potter, Corgis at Molly's

1. I gave myself some thrills today -- well, I should say I relived some thrills from my younger days, extending back as far as 1975. I jumped on YouTube and watched highlights of Wimbledon and U. S. Open matches between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, and Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe. I took myself back to what were, for me, some of the most fun Grand Slam matches ever. I also stumbled upon an HBO documentary about the relationship and friendship between Borg and McEnroe. I ought not to go down this YouTube path too often -- it would be easy to lose whole days to living in the rock star era of tennis.

2. The Deke agreed to help out Hannah, a woman she taught with in Eugene at Charlemagne. Hannah has been living and teaching in India -- where, by the way, she taught at an international school with the woman whose place the Deke took here in Greenbelt and who has just returned to the USA.

Hannah is leaving India. But, she had taken in a stray dog in India -- namely, Harriet Potter. So, Harriet flew from India to Baltimore (or Washington, D. C.), got picked up by the teacher whose place the Deke took, and who has returned to Maryland, and we picked Harriet up, and brought her to our apartment home. We are having her checked at the vet and then we will crate her and take her to the Baltimore airport to be flown to Oregon where she will live with one of Hannah's family members. If I told the whole story about Hannah, India, Istanbul, Harriet, other dogs in India, Oregon, the teacher who left Greenbelt, but has returned to the area, and the rest of this complicated situation, it would take about ten pages.

Suffice it to say, we picked up Harriet in Cheverly last night and brought her to our apartment home. She is a quiet, sweet, and calm dog, a mixed breed for sure. She is understandably confused about where she is -- she had been in India just 24 hours earlier -- but she and I took a couple of late evening walks and she seemed to feel much more relaxed inside if I kept her close to me on her leash. Therefore, I slept on the couch last night with Harriet nearby sleeping on the floor, her leash hooked on my arm.

That worked fine.

3.  Because Harriet is staying with us until she flies to Oregon, Molly agreed to take in Maggie and Charly until Harriet leaves. We delivered the dogs, ate some delicious kale and sausage soup and biscuits, and had a good visit with Molly and the children. Hiram is away on a euphonium gig in Kentucky, so Molly has her hands full with her children and our dogs. Luckily, the dogs feel at home at the Diaz house and don't have nearly the reasons to scream bark there as they do in our apartment home where, in the building, there is much more coming and going and are many more reasons for the diligent, always on the alert, corgis to frequently raise the alarm.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/05/17: Talking with Mom, Physical Exertion, Baked Tilapia Comfort Food

1. Carol texted me this evening, wondering if it was a good time for me to call Mom. Carol, Paul, and Mom were on the outdoor patio at Kindred. I called and Mom and I had a short conversation that ended when one of the staff delivered Mom's evening meal to her. I know Mom is ill. Nonetheless, hearing Mom's weakened voice unsettles me. Until the last few years (I think), Mom always had a strong voice, clear with plenty of volume. And, until recently, even as her legs have betrayed her and even as her heart has weakened, her mind had been reliably clear. This is no longer true. In our short conversation, I knew Mom was confused about some things -- like the date of my arrival in Kellogg.  I used the word "safer" a few times, referring to the necessity of footrests on her wheelchair, and Mom thought I was asking about paying for the wheelchair. Carol and I talked briefly as Mom started to eat and Carol told me Mom's coloring was better today and that she'd had some physical therapy and someone helped her shower. No day is great for Mom, but a day like today is a little better than the lousy days.

Yesterday, I mentioned that Carol and Christy were sick. Carol felt better today and went to work. Christy was down most of the day and I hope the sleep and rest helps her fight off the bug that has her feeling so crummy.

2.  I went all out at the pool today. I flopped around with the rest of the class members for 45 minutes and then I stayed in the pool for another half an hour and worked out more. Then I sat in the jacuzzi for about ten minutes.  All this physical activity, including the walking around I did in and around the ballpark yesterday in Baltimore, has helped settle my nerves and ease my anxiety about my family in Kellogg and decisions the Deke and I face here in Greenbelt.

3. I had plans in place to make a rice salad that the Deke and I love and one I haven't fixed in quite a while. I went to MOM's and bought items we needed for this salad and, then, once we were settled into our apartment home, the Deke wondered if it would be too much trouble for me to bake some fish.

Not a problem. Not a problem at all.

So I thawed pieces of tilapia, put oregano on them, melted some butter, sauteed a bunch of cloves of chopped garlic, juiced a lemon, and poured part of the lemon into the oiled baking pan and the rest into the butter/garlic mix. I had made some onion slices, roasted them for about five minutes or so, then put the tilapia on top of the onion slices, poured the lemon/butter/garlic mix over the fish and baked it for about fifteen minutes. Once out of the oven, I topped the fish with fresh cilantro.  I also made rice and some spinach.

The tilapia recipe and jasmine rice paired flavorfully and, to my surprise, the Deke experienced the whole dinner as comfort food. We both marveled at how much great flavor resulted from such a simple recipe. This dinner provided pleasure, nutrition, comfort, and happiness. It was much better, I decided, than even the killer rice salad I didn't make.

Want to check out this recipe? Click here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/04/17: Kellogg Update, Arriving at Camden Yards, The Ball Game, Meeting Up at DuClaw

UPDATE: Before I write about the fun things that happened today, I'll give a brief update of things in Kellogg. Christy and Carol hit a wall this weekend. Both of them were down with what sounds like a flu bug. Mom had a rocky weekend, too. Mom goes back and forth between times of clarity and times of confusion and her appetite is not very good. My sisters had planned to take Mom to her house on Sunday to see all the work Travis, Paul, and Christy have done in her yard and to see the flowers that are blooming, but this visit had to be postponed because of my sisters' illness and exhaustion and because the weather wasn't very good.

1.  After some coffee and oatmeal this morning, the Deke drove me over to the Greenbelt Metro Station where I caught the Metrobus Express to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. I hopped off at Concourse E and right nearby found the terminal for the MTA Light Rail and rode the train to Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Once I got through security, I strolled among the many shops and places to eat on Eutaw Street and decided to enjoy a brat and a Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale. To eat, I sat in the patio area overlooking right field and, after I ate, I made my way to my seat about thirty rows behind home plate which gave me a great view of the game. Below, you will find a picture of my view of the stadium

2. I stayed put during the whole game. Most of the people sitting in Section 33 and the surrounding area didn't. At the end of each half inning, many fans left to go out for concessions or to have a smoke or for other reasons. Many of the people near where I was seated left the game early, almost as if they were on the clock and had determined ahead of time to leave by, say, 3:30. For almost all the people near where I sat, the game was a social occasion to eat, drink, talk, and laugh and to occasionally pay attention to the game. After my visit to Yankee Stadium last April, I figured this would be the case.

I enjoyed very much being at the game alone, intently watching each pitch, feeling an old love for the game of baseball well up inside me again. Even though this was an early June contest with very little, in the moment, on the line, I felt some of the tensions baseball used to create in me when Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman got into a couple of jams and I was unexpectedly moved when he pitched out of one of them. In the sixth inning, as Tillman labored to pitch himself out of a bases loaded mess, I could barely continue to watch, I was so deeply disappointed, when Orioles catcher Francisco Pena fired an errant throw to third base that allowed two Red Sox runs to score. I felt robbed, actually, because I wanted to see Tillman complete his efforts to retire the Sox side with the bases loaded, but, instead, Pena's inexplicable wild toss destroyed the tension. It blew up the drama.

I hadn't felt this involved in a baseball game for several years and I used to feel it all the time. I liked feeling involved.

3. The shopping mall at Arundel Mills is about 15 miles from the ballyard and the Deke and Molly were down there having some time together and I splurged and hired an Uber ride to the mall. We met at DuClaw Brewing, a brewery and restaurant. I was very pleased to see they had Flying Dog's Numero Uno Summer Cerveza on tap. It is a light, easy, refreshing beer, like drinking what a Flying Dog tapster called "Corona on crack". I enjoyed the beer with the crab jalapeno BLT sandwich I ordered. The three of us had a lot of fun gabbing about a bunch of stuff and our dinner put a perfect cap on a most enjoyable day.

Here's a picture of the ballpark, taken from my seat:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/03/17: Jack is Good, 7 Locks, *The Sting*

1.  Grandson Jack was with his dad in his dad's van when another car rear ended them. Jack was transported to a local medical center and the Deke and I waited anxiously for about ninety minutes for news about his condition. The good news arrived. Adrienne sent the Deke a picture of Jack smiling and a caption that he was good. Later, in the evening, Adrienne and the Deke talked more on the phone and Jack had gone to bed, possibly a little sore, but he was doing all right. What a relief.

2. After the Deke went to a salon to have her hair cut, we drove about twenty-five minutes to Rockville and enjoyed a couple of beers at 7 Locks Brewing.  The room was airy and relaxed. The Nationals' tilt against the A's in Oakland was projected on the wall and I enjoyed watching bits of the action, knowing that Rich Brock, my college roommate and great friend, was in attendance. He was sure the cellar dwelling A's would get walloped, but, no, the A's vanquished the Nationals, winning 10-4.

3. Back home, after we split a Reuben at Old Line, the Deke suddenly said, "Put on The Sting." Gladly! I loved seeing it again for the 300,000th time. Much of the pleasure of watching The Sting is that it features so many superb character actors in fun roles -- I especially enjoyed Eileen Brennan, Ray Walston, Charles Durning, Harold Gould, Dana Elcar, Dimitra Arliss, Charles Dierkop, and, one of the best of all character actors, Robert Shaw.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/02/17: Distress to Relief, Orioles Ticket, *All the President's Men* (Again!)

1.  Mom had had a couple of tough days Wednesday and Thursday and reading what Carol wrote about Mom's difficulties distressed me. I turned my distress into busy-ness and did five loads of laundry, including our bedding and the bathroom and kitchen towels and washcloths. I crated the dogs and vacuumed the living room.

Later, I challenged myself to fix the Deke and me a dinner salad using what I had on hand. I roasted sweet potato chunks, topped with the taco seasoning I made last weekend. In a large bowl I combined leftover jasmine rice, a can of drained black beans seasoned with cumin and oregano, a package of corn (after I cooked and cooled it), leftover cilantro, chopped leftover red onion, and then mixed in the sweet potato bits.  As a bonus, since the Deke asked me to pick up some beer at the store, I seized the opportunity to buy an avocado, chopped it, and added it to this salad.

The salad worked two ways. As a salad it was superb and it also worked as a taco filling. I fried a few corn tortillas in canola oil, rid them of excess oil, and stuffed them with the salad. I loved the layers of flavors in each bite: the sweetness of the corn and the sweet potato, the zestiness of the cilantro, the buttery creaminess of the avocado, the earthiness of the cumin and oregano, and the mild heat and spiciness of the taco seasoning.

While I was assembling this salad, Christy sent me and Carol a text message reporting that Mom was having a much better day on Friday.  This news came as a great relief and turned my kitchen project from therapy into fun and joy.

2. While the Deke and I were at Old Line on Thursday, the Orioles game was on the screen above the bar and upcoming games flashed on the tv. The O's have a matinee tilt with the Red Sox on Sunday and I surmised that this would be a perfect day to go to Camden Yards for the first time and take in a baseball game. Since it's a one time deal, I splurged a little and bought a ticket up a bit and behind home plate, below the edge of the press box. I spent time figuring out how I can get to the ballpark on public transit, using my SmartTrip card once I get to the Greenbelt transit station.

3.  While we relaxed for the evening in our apartment home, the Deke asked me to put a movie on my Chromebook that she could listen to while I watched. Suddenly, I wanted to see All the President's Men for the 9000th time and so I rented it and watched while the Deke busied herself online and with knitting and listened. One of the many pleasures of watching this movie again is that I am becoming more and more familiar with places in Washington, D. C. where certain scenes were shot so my recognition of those places is getting sharper. I hope that whenever I'm back in the D. C. area, whenever I can come back from Kellogg once I'm there, one of my return visits will coincide with a walking tour of the movie or of the events surrounding the Watergate break-in and the cover up. I would very much enjoy walking this movie and this history directed by a learned guide.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/01/17: Remembering Dad, Urgent Pencil Sharpener Run, No Onion

1. Christy and Carol wrote about sitting on the front porch of our family home at 516 W. Cameron and Christy invoked the memory of  how Dad's loved sitting on our porch, drinking 16 oz. cans of Heidelberg beer, sometimes smoking a cigar, spraying the front yard with a hose, waving to people driving by, and talking to those who walked by. It was especially poignant to remember Dad today on the 21st anniversary of the day he died.

2. I went to Costco to fill up the Sube and as I was pulling out, a call came in from the Deke. She sounded desperate. She needed an electric pencil sharpener in her classroom -- and fast. Knowing that a new sharpener would help settle down some of the classroom chaos, I whipped down to Staples as quickly as I could, plucked a heavy duty sharpener off the shelf, bought it, and delivered it to the school, about five minutes from Staples. Later, when I picked up the Deke, she expressed much gratitude that I ran this errand.

3. After enjoying some excellent beer at Old Line, I once again fixed a quick pot of Marcella Hazan's pasta sauce to pour over penne. The Deke asked me to leave out the onion. I did. We both enjoyed the buttery richness of the sauce without the onion and, no doubt, each time I make the sauce, I will ask, "Onion or no onion?".

A quick note: the last two times I've been to Old Line, I've enjoyed very much another Maryland brewed beer. It is brewed in Frederick at Monocacy Brewing Company and it's a called Riot Rye Pale Ale.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 05/31/17: Flying to Spokane, Business, Sube History

1. I booked a flight for Spokane today. I will arrive there on Saturday, June 17th at 11:00 a.m., so I'll get to see Mom early in the afternoon that day. I'm relieved that I made this booking. Just knowing when I arrive in Kellogg helps give shape to the next few months for the Deke, me, and my family in Kellogg. I think it also helps in all the deliberations and plans required in trying to arrange for Mom to return to her home.

2. I spent a lot of time today doing household financial business. I also registered for the Kellogg High School All-Class Reunion in August.  Getting these things done was another source of relief.

3.  I also spent time reviewing the history of the Sube. How old are the tires? When was the timing belt last changed? How old are the brakes? Can the odd thing happening with the air conditioning be fixed? Questions, questions, questions.