Saturday, September 30, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/29/17: Morning Tasks, Wandering Parcel Comes Home, Upstairs/Downstairs

1. I got right back at it this morning. I emptied out more of Mom's kitchen and the Deke and I started rearranging where things go and thought more and talked more about our minimalist approach to furnishing the kitchen and the rest of the house. I loaded up the Sube with donations to the thrift store at Fuller Center for Housing in Smelterville, some stuff for the dump, and a load of dry cleaning. I also dropped in at City Hall and the water company to pay Mom's bills and ask about having the accounts put in my name -- that will happen when the ownership of the house has been transferred.

I wrapped up my morning tasks with a visit to Yoke's and bought our first real load of groceries.

Going around to all these places got me excited about living in Kellogg. Every single person I talked with was really friendly and very helpful. At Yoke's, two women around my age, one riding a shopping scooter, the other pushing a cart, were by the beer case in back complaining loudly and ceaselessly about President Donald John Trump and the day's news.  The woman in the scooter said, "Oh! Excuse us. We're just talkin' politics!" I replied, " Yeah..back here with all the beer!" She responded, "We haven't even started drinkin' yet!" I laughed, "That would really make things interesting!"  We all had a good laugh and I headed to the canned goods and they returned to their disgust.

2. While I was at Yoke's, I got a follow up call from the FedEx driver. It turns out he had delivered our wandering parcel to Dave Smith Motors and called me to say he'd be bringing it to our house in about ten minutes.

The driver was embarrassed and apologetic about his mistake and was mightily irritated that the guy at receiving at Dave Smith Motors didn't contact him to tell him a parcel belonging to someone else had been delivered there.

He relayed their conversation to me:

"Why didn't you tell me you got a parcel that belonged to someone else?"

"Oh. I don't know. I just got busy and forgot. Anyway, it was your mistake. You shouldn't have delivered that box here in the first place."

Shake my head.

3. I moved the boxes with my things out of the garage into the basement. Almost everything we had shipped is in the house now. Then I started working on the upstairs level of the house. We have friends coming to visit Saturday night and the upstairs needs a lot of clearing out and cleaning before we can open Mom's futon into a bed. On Saturday, I'll be making more donation trips and a trip to the dump. Luckily, the futon is in an open area upstairs and we don't need the bedroom. I can put a lot of things I need to consult with Christy and Carol about in the bedroom. I hope to have the area suitable for guests by early Saturday afternoon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/28/17: The Basement, Wandering Parcel and Wandering Dogs, Back to Radio Brewing

1. The Deke and I worked at a decidedly leisurely pace today as we started to figure out how we are going to occupy the space in our house. We decided a few weeks ago that we'd like to have everything related to our clothing be in the basement. The washer and dryer are down there. So is the ironing board. There's a shower in the basement. So, we took our clothes to the room down there and established the purpose of one room in the house.

2. We had ten boxes shipped to Kellogg from Greenbelt. About seven of the boxes had smaller boxes packed in them.  On Wednesday, three of the boxes arrived and today six more -- one was missing. I called FedEx and filed a disputed delivery report and a representative from FedEx called me back within the hour to report that they had made two bulk deliveries in Kellogg and our missing box was accidentally delivered to the other address. The representative hopes a driver will be able to pick up the wandering parcel on Friday and bring it to us, but it might not happen until Monday. In a perfect world, I'd know who received our parcel and go get it myself, but privacy concerns kept the representative from telling me who got our box.  Fair enough.

This parcel wasn't the only happy wanderer today. On the west side of the house there's a gate that opens to the backyard. It's a difficult gate to open. I know I have rarely used it over the years, but maybe others have used it more often.  Well, someone used it recently and didn't close it all the way and as the Deke was playing her guitar in the living room and I was working in the kitchen, I realized that Maggie and Charly were not in the back yard.

Maggie and Charly on the loose is the subject of my worst waking nightmares.

I dashed to the front of the house. No dogs in sight.

I alerted the Deke to the fact that the dogs were on the loose.

I decided to walk west.

Two houses down, Maggie and Charly suddenly appeared from the side of the Douglas house.

They were nonchalant. The Deke had grabbed their leashes and Charly immediately trotted over to the Deke. One dog secure.  Maggie is always more independently minded than Charly and was doubly nonchalant about returning home -- but she did.

My waking nightmare came to a happy end.

Now if that box will just come home.

3.  The Deke and I haven't quite set up the kitchen yet. I haven't shopped for groceries yet. That will be a Friday task.  So, we headed to Radio Brewing around 5:30 and each enjoyed a glass of X Minus Zero IPA. I don't like IPAs with food. We waited until we finished our beer and the Deke ordered Korean tacos and I ordered a brat with an orzo salad. I do like lager and pilsner beers with food, however, and Radio Brewing just brought on their Oktoberfest beer.  Perfect.  I loved the beer and it worked beautifully with my food. The Deke continued making friends with Paige. They talked a bunch about knitting and we had a good time with Andrew, our server.

Christy invited us to join her and Everett for a nightcap. It was a great evening with a lot of conversation about Mom and next Friday's service, among other things.  It looks like things are shaping up very well for the service and I'll feel even better about it as I carve out time to write the eulogy I'll be giving.  A lot of it is in my head, but I need to get it written down.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/27/17: Arrival in Kellogg, Radio Brewing Rocks, Dog Love and Dinner

1. After a La Quinta breakfast, the Deke and I packed up, loaded up the car, and pointed the Sube west and set the homing device for Kellogg, Idaho. It was 7:30 PST when we left Bozeman.  We enjoyed a very easy and gorgeous drive across Montana, over the Continental Divide, and over Lookout Pass, before we descended into the Silver Valley -- Mullan, Wallace, Osburn, Big Creek, Elizabeth Park, and soon, Kellogg. We arrived in the very early afternoon.

It will be a while before I can refer to the house as our house. To me, when we walked in the front door, we were walking into Mom's house. But, it really wasn't Mom's house. So much is gone: the angels, the television and console that housed it, the many many antique items Mom had hanging on the kitchen wall; the kitchen hutch is gone, books have been cleared out, living room chairs and tables, shelving in the front bedroom is down along with a book case. Mom loved to fill her house with all kinds of material items and the Deke and I marveled at how much roomier the house is with fewer things in it.

I don't know where the Deke and I will start as we continue to do the immense amount of work Christy, Carol, Paul did after I returned to Maryland and the work I already did before I headed back east to clear out and refashion this house. I said to Christy this afternoon with a chuckle, "Wow! We've done so much work in the last couple of months. It's hard to believe there's so much left to do!"

But there is.

And, slowly, we'll get on it after we deliberate and imagine what we want and as we get going with some more hard work.

I'm thankful we arrived safely, for our new house, and for the projects that lie ahead.

2.  At about 3:00, the Deke and I headed uptown to have a little party at Radio Brewing. Paige was pouring this afternoon. She and the Deke had established a knitter's friendship earlier in the summer and today I found out that she worked as a costumer for theaters in Portland and did costuming work in New York City. For a while, the Deke and I were the only two customers at the bar, so we got to talk a lot with Paige and the other woman working there, Shailey (sp?).  We also enjoyed smoked salmon flatbread and an order of homemade, fresh, and hot to the touch tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. I loved the conversations, I loved the food, and I was, once again, over the moon as I quaffed Radio Brewing's smooth and juicy IPA, X Minus Zero. All of this eating and talking and drinking was accompanied by the sounds of radio music from the middle of the 20th century playing quietly in the background -- it is a totally unique scene in comparison to anything I have experienced in Kellogg over the last sixty years. We love it.

3.  Possibly the best news of the day? Our dogs, Maggie and Charly, made friends right away with Christy and Everett's dogs, Riley and Tucker. The Deke and I were apprehensive about how Maggie and Charly would respond to Riley and Tucker because they haven't had many dog friends over the last several years. The four of them hit it off immediately and, if our neighbors don't mind the noise they make while playing, I am very happy for all four dogs that they will have each other as playmates. I'm staggered with delight that Maggie and Charly will have a social life in Kellogg.

Christy fixed a great soup along with cucumbers and bread for dinner and we had a family dinner in Christy's back yard -- Christy, Everett, the Deke, Carol, Paul and I. We started to talk about a little business together, but it wasn't long before I had to retire from serious discussion. After five glorious days of driving across the USA and pushing myself to stay at it, I finally let down tonight and hit the wall. We'll get the stuff taken care of over the next several days or few weeks and I'm glad Christy, Carol, and I are all eager to get things done -- even if I didn't seem all that eager by evening's end last night!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/26/17: Scenic Drive, Outlaw Beer, Brazilian Bowls

1.  The drive from Bismark, North Dakota to Bozeman, MT today was the best leg of our trip so far. For much of the day, clouds covered the sun and the temperatures remained moderate. I love the scenery across North Dakota and really enjoy the mountain ranges that pop up when driving deeper into Montana.

2. Once settled in a bit, I drove over to Outlaw Brewing in Bozeman and bought beer, some Hangin' Judge Double IPA, one of the smoothest and easy drinking 2IPAs I've ever tasted, and some Horse Thief IPA, a light and refreshing IPA. We have leftover beer in our jugs and will finish them in Kellogg.

3. Online, the Deke found a Brazilian restaurant in downtown Bozeman called Five on Black that serves very tasty and spicy bowls. The Deke put in an order and I drove into the heart of Bozeman and picked up our dinner and we enjoyed a very satisfying dinner together. Dinner, a little beer, and going to bed early brought an uneventful day to a quiet close.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/25/17: Cooler Travel, Laughing Sun, Party Tunes

1. After two days of travel where the temperatures went into the low 90s and the sun was bright and unforgiving, today, as we left Wisconsin, crossed Minnesota, and entered North Dakota, the temperatures fell all the way into the 50s and we had cloud cover all day, making the driving more comfortable.

2. We checked into La Quinta in Bismark, where pets stay without an extra fee (!). I almost immediately jumped back in the Sube and drove downtown to the Laughing Sun Brewing Co. and bought me and the Deke a growler of Feast Like a Sultan IPA. Back at our room, the Deke had gone to the lobby and picked up a complimentary salad and a couple slices of complimentary pizza and we partied for the next couple of hours or so, very happy with how very tasty our jug of beer turned out to be.

3.  The party really got rolling for me when I played some videos of the Seldom Scene, including songs they recorded with Jonathan Edwards, and played a set of selections from The Band's performance at their last concert, featured in the movie The Last Waltz.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/24/17: Panera and Sunoco, Ah! Chicago!, Eau Claire with Good Corgis

1. The Deke and I bolted out of bed, wasted little time gathering our things, and left the pre-apocalyptic bleak Communist bloc suburb-scape of Elyria, OH and soon pulled into a service center off the Ohio Turnpike and the Deke brought a cinnamon crunch bagel and a cinnamon crunch scone and dark roast coffee out to the Sube from Panera while I filled up the Sube with gas.  It being Sunday, the Ohio Turnpike was not very busy and we glided through the rest of Ohio, across the top of Indiana, and on into Illinois.

2. My hope that possibly the traffic wouldn't be too choked in Chicago was mostly realized. I've certainly experienced more gridlock on the freeways there than we did today. No matter how thick or moderate the traffic, though, it's worth all the effort just to enjoy driving the Chicago Skyway and gawk at the grandeur of the Chicago skyline.

3. At some point, we decided to drive to Eau Claire, WI rather than La Crosse and we pulled into the Best Western parking lot around 6:15. Everything at this motel turned out to be more pleasant. We got settled in a bit and I took a little trip to Chipotle again -- we enjoyed bowls so much last night that we decided to go for it again -- and I went to a spirited supermarket called Festival Foods and picked up a 20 oz Coca Cola, a 750 ml can of Foster's lager, in tribute to David Diedrich, and a small box of wine for the Deke. By the time I got back, it was 8:00 and relaxing with food, soda, and beer helped me eventually melt into bed and fall blissfully asleep.

One more thing: Charly and Maggie have been really good dogs. They have endured the long days in their crate in the back of the Subaru quietly, for the most part, and have travelled really well. Having to dogs makes it very difficult to do any sight seeing or visiting of family or friends on this trip. It all works better if we do what we've done for the first two days of our drive: just keep going forward!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/23/17: On the Road, Chrissy Hynde's Ohio, Beer and Wine and Chipotle Bowls

1. By design, the Deke and I did not spring immediately into the Sube and head west at the crack of day. We'd had a long week of getting out of our apartment home and we opted for a late morning start. I ran a couple of errands to the Post Office and to FedEx and by about 10:30 or so, we packed up the car and headed for Elyria, OH, just over six hours away.

2. Two years ago, the Deke, Patrick, and I stayed at a Hampton Inn in Elyria, OH and I'd forgotten that the area around the Hampton and the Day's Inn, where we spent Saturday night, looked like what the USA would look like had the Communist bloc won the Cold War. Huge shuttered former big box superstores surrounded by bleak, empty, cracking parking lots dominate the landscape, with a few straggling businesses like PetSmart and Olive Garden hanging on. The Days Inn we stayed at was frayed and dingy, with carpeting taken from the seating area of a roller skate rink, colorless paint peeling and chipping, and the hallways barely illuminated with forty watt bulbs. Our room's air conditioning sounded like a malfunctioning East German Baade 152 taking off and was infused with a Fabreeze air freshener so I kept waking up, thinking I was sleeping in a scented 13 gallon Hefty trash bag.  We made the best of our cramped depressing environment, though, and are glad we won't likely be spending another night in Elyria, OH. Ever.

Chrissy Hynde sang about the decay of her Ohio hometown back in 1982. Remember? If not, it's right here.

3. What did we do to make the best of our crummy room? Well, first of all, we reminded ourselves that we have stayed in worse rooms -- the Hotel 6 near East Lansing, MI back in 2015 springs immediately to mind -- and I went out into the heart of this decaying suburb, this replica of East Berlin (circa 1983), and found a Chipotle shop and bought us each a steak bowl and I went to Marc's, a dying grocery store, and found a four pack of tiny bottles of Merlot, a cold six pack of Bud, and a 16 oz can of Coca Cola. The Coke went perfectly with the Chipotle food, the Deke loved the little bottles of wine -- it helped our room seem like a passenger jet plane -- and I wanted a light, easy to drink beer, full of nostalgic tastes, that I could drink fast so I could finally wind down after all that driving.  I kept hearing a voice say, "This Bud's for you!"

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/22/17: Gratitude for Our Apartment Home, The Real Thing, Itinerary

1. Today, late in the afternoon, we turned in the keys to our apartment home. Shortly after four o'clock, I finished giving the living room and dining area one last vacuuming. The apartment sat empty and clean. I took a few minutes to appreciate what a great place this has been: quiet, maintained expertly and efficiently, compact, convenient to the Deke's job, a great location for me to launch various forays into the DC metropolitan area and we were only about a half an hour from the BWI airport; we hosted about a dozen or more visitors in the room furnished for the grandchildren to have overnights with us; we had easy access to the large grassy area behind the building so we could readily take Maggie and Charly out to do their business. I turned the small kitchen into a cooking lab and had a great time extending my boundaries of fixing different foods.

I'm hard pressed to come up with a living situation I enjoyed more. This unspectacular little apartment helped make these three years living in Greenbelt, MD three of the best years of my life.

2. Getting to the point where I could muse about how much I loved this place required another full day of work. We shipped a bunch of parcels to Kellogg. The Deke and Molly made deliveries to Dora Kennedy School and to University Christian Church. We packed the dog crate in the Sube so the dogs will have a comfortable ride. The day turned soupy with humidity. Carting boxes to the car, odds and ends to the dumpster, and doing our final packing wore me out so much that when we went to Quench to relax, I was too hot and tired to drink beer. I enjoyed a single pour of Green Hat Gin and then switched to Coke and drank a couple of cans over ice with lime. I rarely drink pop anymore.  Today Coke was perfect. It was the real thing.

3. Back at the Diazes, we unloaded much of our stuff from the car and I headed straight to the basement to further cool off and to lie down and relax. I took some time to chart out an itinerary for the next few days. I think it'll go something like this:

Saturday: drive to Elryia, Ohio.
Sunday: drive to La Crosse, WI
Monday: drive to Bismark, ND
Tuesday: drive to Bozeman, MT
Wednesday: drive to Kellogg, ID

We don't have to rush and I think we can do each of these segments during the day.

Now, on two different occasions, the Deke and I have pushed ourselves and driven from Bismark to Kellogg in a single day.

We were younger then.

And we hadn't just spent day after day sorting, packing, and hauling.

I'd prefer shorter days of driving and giving ourselves plenty of rest.

But, we'll see......

Friday, September 22, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/21/17: Morning Loading, More Sorting, Old Line Party with Friends

1. I got out of bed around 6:30 this morning and, as I've done the two or three mornings, headed over to Starbucks for a cup of coffee, a scone, and some writing. Once finished, I figured no one would be up and around just yet at the Diaz house, so I buzzed over to our apartment home and loaded up all the boxes we are shipping that were addressed -- about five weren't.

We probably won't ship these boxes until Friday, but I wanted to put them in the Sube in the cool of the morning and I wanted to experience the psychological pleasure of seeing our apartment home emptied out a little bit more.

2. The Deke had more to sort through and pack and now we have areas in the living room designated for things going to Dora Kennedy school and to the church we attended last Sunday to help a vet who had been homeless, but recently landed an apartment and needs cleaning supplies and other basic household goods. We'll deliver those on Friday.

3. It so happened that the group of Prince George's County School District employees with whom we have met up with from time to time over the last couple of years was getting together late this afternoon at Old Line. It was a boisterous time. Much of the talk was about school and everyone had a tale to tell about how their work was impeded by the lousy ways this school district operates, but the conversation also moved to other topics like travel, music, home ownership challenges, cars, and so on and I pretty much sat quietly and took it all in. As our party wound down and we all started to head home, we said so long to each other and the Deke and I left feeling very happy. This was a fun and fascinating group of people. A couple of them, in particular, were great friends for the Deke, supportive, informative, and understanding. Always, when I listened to these people, I learned a great deal about the many, many difficulties people face who live in Prince George's County and even more about the frustrations of working in this school system.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/20/17: Hauling All Over the Place, The Plan, Winding Down

1. Twice I piled into the Sube after loading it up with kitchen items and other things and hauled them to the Diazes. After my second trip, I dropped into Home Depot and bought a hand truck to help me haul boxes to be shipped, probably on Thursday. I gave the hand truck a workout when I returned to our apartment home and hauled about ten boxes of belongings and a computer printer to the Sube and buzzed them down to the Goodwill in NE Washington, DC.  We won't transport our new hand truck to Kellogg -- we hope the church we visited on Sunday might find it useful --, but I'm thinking that when we get to Kellogg, I'll buy another one because I don't want to be without one again.

2. We have two more days of electricity in our apartment home, so we are thinking we'll do all we can to get the last bits and pieces of things sorted on Thursday and our boxes shipped to Kellogg, with possibly a straggling box or two going out on Friday. Friday, then, we can vacuum, clean the refrigerator, wipe out our already clean oven, clean corgy nose smudges off the sliding glass door, and do any spot cleaning the carpeting might need.

We should be hitting the road Saturday morning with no exact plan of when we'll arrive in Kellogg. We'll let our driving stamina and Maggie and Charly's tolerance of travel determine how long we take to get to Idaho.

3. Loading. Hauling. Unloading. It's all good, but the temperature was around 90 degrees this afternoon with just enough humidity to make it sticky, so by the time 5 o'clock rolled around, my legs were rubbery, but, good news, my back didn't hurt. The Deke and I deliberated for about three seconds and decided to have a glass of beer at Old Line and, once we arrived, decided to each have a salad. Old Line was quiet and very relaxing and we sat there like a couple of dumbstruck retirees, not much left to say, and gathered ourselves before heading over to the Diazes where the Chinese food we treated the family to was awaiting our arrival.

I ate. I trudged down the basement stairs. I went to sleep early.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/19/17: Tedious Tasks, Farewell LabCorp, Beer and God

1.  The Deke and I dove right back into the tedious tasks of sorting and packing and boxing back at our apartment home.  I have taken care of almost all my belongings, so I spent much of the day on the phone and the computer making address changes and stopping our electric and Internet service.

2. I went to LabCorp this afternoon for my last blood draw in Greenbelt. To my great pleasure, my favorite phlebotomist, Angela, drew my blood. As always, we spoke few words, but I have always admired her efficiency and kindness. On my way out, I told the woman at the front counter that I wouldn't be coming any longer and, as always, she was warm and effusive in her expression of best wishes to me and in her condolences that Mom had died. I choked up a little. I have come to this place about thirty times in the the last thirty-six months. The employees and I became familiar with each other in spoken and unspoken ways and I enjoyed this office so much that I actually looked forward to my monthly blood draw. The good news, I'm happy to say, is that the phlebotomists at Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg are also a pleasure to work with, so my good blood draw experience will continue. Still, I will miss the great people at LabCorp on Greenbelt Road in Greenbelt, MD.

3. The Deke and I rewarded ourselves for our good work today with a trip to DC Brau, our favorite brewery in the Capital of America. We pulled into the back parking lot that abuts the railroad tracks and it was nearly empty -- oh no! is DC Brau closed tonight? I checked and no, DC Brau was not closed, just quiet. We walked into the cement block tasting room. I took a long and wistful look at all the T-shirts and other merchandise hanging on the wall over the counter where the beer is served and uttered a short prayer of thanksgiving that DC Brau never upgraded this taproom, never fancied it up, but continued to operate out of this modest little room and serve its beer in funny little plastic glasses and to serve flights of plastic samplers in boxtops used as trays.

I ordered an experimental beer called Deep Cuts, Volume 2. It was a wet-hopped pale ale brewed with fresh Centennial hops transported overnight from Michigan. It was a floral tasting beer, rich and deep in the simplicity of its single hop profile and really delicious. I had this beer because there'd been a mix-up at DC Brau and the production people didn't make enough On the Wings of Armageddon to serve in the tasting room, only to can.

The Deke and I had a great theological and ontological discussion about Rev. Nathan Hill's sermon on Sunday and dove deep, not only into our two glasses of beer (The Deke was drinking Corruption IPA.) but into our thoughts about the nature of God and what the voice from the burning bush in Exodus meant when it said, "I am who I am."

It was one of our best conversations ever and was a welcome contrast to all the discussions we've been having of the nitty gritty details of moving.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/18/17: Cargo Van, Yakkin' with Ashley, Relaxing in Near Emptiness

1. The Deke and I bounded out of our apartment home and piled into the Sube and blasted down to the Enterprise store in Lanham where we confirmed our reservation for a cargo van and Ashley helped me get everything squared away and I lumbered back up the Capital Beltway in the van back up to our apartment home where Molly and Hiram had arrived, eager to load the van up with tables, shelves, dressers, a desk, a couch, and the other big items we owned that in a matter of a couple of hours would no longer be ours, but belong to the Diazes.

2. I wasn't much help loading the van -- in fact, maybe it worked out better that I was out of the way. Molly and Hiram packed it up like real pros. I drove the cargo to the Diaz house and now I could be of assistance. I leaped into the van and brought items to Molly and Hiram at the mouth of the van and we emptied the van efficiently and without incident.

Back at Enterprise, Ashley was surprised to see me back so soon and when I requested a ride home, she grabbed a huge pickup truck, I hopped in, and we had a great talk about Maryland, Washington, D.C., her ROTC days at Howard University, and the soul food at Carolina Kitchen. I told Ashley how much I was going to miss living in the D. C. area, and she was especially happy to hear me say how much I'd come to love Maryland.

If Enterprise were to ask me to nominate an employee of the year, Ashley would receive my vote. Once again, I had a great experience with a member of the much maligned Millennial Generation!

3.  I returned to our apartment home and relaxed. I propped some folded blankets up against the plastic crate that holds our personal papers and lay down on the floor and chilled on the Internet and completed a level of Candy Crush Saga that had baffled me for a couple of days. Our apartment home is not quite empty, but it was very quiet and I enjoyed the solitude.

Then I made my first pass at vacuuming the carpet where our furniture and bed had been with the hope that as the Deke and I spend the next couple of days getting the rest of our stuff sorted out and shipped, the place will feel a little bit fresher than it did when this day began.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/17/17: A Fun Church Visit, Boxes, Panera Dinner

1. The Deke and I went down to Hyattsville this morning and worshiped at University Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ congregation, and stayed for the church's fall kickoff potluck.   Two girls who were in the Deke's 3rd grade class last school year go to this church -- in fact, the father of one of the girls is the pastor. The girls are close friends and were ecstatic to see the Deke, as were their parents. I thought with how difficult teaching at Dora Kennedy was, it must have been satisfying for the Deke to have these parents, along with another parent who goes to this church, tell her what a great teacher she was and how much their children miss her.

2. Back at our apartment home, I taped up the seven boxes of belongings I'm shipping to Kellogg. Over the next few days, I could imagine needing to fill one more box, but I am very pleased that I've reduced my belongings that won't go in my suitcase or fit in the car to these boxes. We'll ship stuff in the next day or two and Monday is when Molly and Hiram will move our larger things to their house. They'll keep some of it and other things will go to the rummage sale at the children's school. We'll start sleeping at the Diaz house on Monday night and are still shooting for the end of the week as the time we'll hit the road.

3. We are running out of food in the house, so I went up to Panera and bought the Deke a chicken bowl and bought myself a ham and cheese sandwich. It simplified things at home a lot to eat some simple carry out dinner.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Three Beautiful Things:09/16/17: Panera and Flights, Family Pictures, Curry and Duckpin and YouTube

1. While the Deke had coffee at Starbucks with a friend she taught with at Dora Kennedy French Immersion School, I hopped over to Panera and enjoyed a cinnamon crunch bagel, toasted with cream cheese. Mostly I looked at the cost of flights from Spokane to Eugene, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland and familiarized myself with what airlines fly where and when out of Spokane.  I have no immediate plans to fly any of these places, but it was fun to poke around on Southwest and Alaska's websites.

2. I have narrowed down what of mine I'm shipping to Kellogg to about six boxes with one, maybe two, more to go. I'm sending a lot of pictures out west and it was fun to look at ones taken on two different family trips the Deke, Adrienne, Molly, Patrick, and I made to Kellogg in, I think, 1999 and definitely in 2003. Adrienne, Molly, and the Deke sang at Carol's 40 birthday celebration in Mom's backyard. That made a great picture. I also have a little collection of family portraits taken in 1999(?) on the old white bench swing in Mom's backyard featuring a variety of configurations of different members of the four families present that day.

3. The Deke and I had a very good Ethiopian chicken curry dinner, prepared by Hiram, at the Diaz house. The Deke complimented the main dish with a refreshing cucumber, chickpea, and feta salad. After dinner, the Deke and I went to Old Line to talk more about the upcoming week. We squeezed the last two half pints of Union's Double Duckpin out of the bottom of Old Line's keg so we now are certain that chances are very slim that we'll be able to enjoy another one of those fine beers while we're still in Maryland.  We were both pleased with our good fortune that we got to enjoy this beer one last time.

Back at our apartment home, I played a Levon Helm interview with David Letterman and listened to him sing a roots tune with the Paul Shaffer band. This led me to play a bunch of tunes from The Last Waltz and to a few songs by The Highwaymen and then I found a Letterman clip where Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash appear together on the show and I found a video featuring Waylon Jennings appearing on Johnny Cash's television show.  Oh, I also listened to Jerry Douglas with Paul Simon and another video of Jerry Douglas and Bill Frisell with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and a couple versions of Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting for a Train".  Last of all, I played Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform "Runnin' Down a Dream" so for the 10,000th time I could bliss out to Michael Campbell's epic guitar solo.

Then it got to be past 1:00 a.m. and I flopped into bed.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/15/17: Good Phone Talks, Farewell Sunoco, A Double IPA Miracle

1. Getting ready to move -- there's the business to take care of: cancel this, address changes for that, hoping to remember everything, on and on. I called Phyllis at Rossi Insurance in Kellogg to make sure things are in order with the home insurance at Mom's house and about the timing of putting the insurance in my name and Phyllis was a delight. She expressed condolences for Mom's passing -- this, in addition to having sent us a card back in June after she learned Mom was in the nursing home and a card upon learning Mom had died. She answered all of my questions cheerfully, expertly. I don't enjoy talking on the phone, but this phone call almost convinced me that getting on the phone to take care of business really isn't that bad. And you know what? I had a good experience with Sandra, the Nationwide agent in Greenbelt, and with the woman in Annapolis who helped me understand that I could cancel my last estimated tax payment online.

2. Today I made my last visit to the Sunoco station in Greenbelt to have the Sube worked on. For the last three years and 39,000 miles the guys at this shop have kept the oil changed, the air conditioning working, the engine tuned up, and the fluid levels up to date.  When they couldn't replace the clutch, they sent me to the shop next door. I thought about going over to the picnic table where the mechanics smoke cigarettes, drink coffee, and shoot the breeze before and after work to thank them for taking good care of the Sube. Instead, I'll write them some kind of thank you and, in the same way I am looking forward to getting started in Idaho with a new primary care doctor and a new nephrologist and getting listed at another transplant center, I also look forward to entrusting the Sube to another good shop.

3.  The other day as I was sorting through notebooks, DVDs, cds, books, and camera lenses and packing up stuff to send to Kellogg, I suddenly felt nostalgic for Union Brewery beers. Patrick, the Deke, and I had a great visit to Union Brewery in Baltimore this past Christmas Eve and for no good reason I was suddenly visited by the memory of the taste of the hoppy perfection of Double Duckpin Double IPA. I sighed. Moving away, I figured I wouldn't taste Double Duckpin on tap again until returning to Maryland for a visit sometime down the road.

But, then, this evening, the Deke and I took a couple of seats at the Old Line bar and Shannon brought us a tap list and I gasped: "Deke! They've got Double Duckpin on tap today!"

We each ordered a glass and it actually tasted better than my romanticizing mind remembered. I drank my glass slowly, gratefully, mindfully, reverently.  I ordered a second.

I will be forever grateful for our time living in Maryland for many reasons, but chief among them will be getting to enjoy, among other beers, my favorite of all 2IPAs: Flying Dog's The Truth, Victory's Dirt Wolf, DC Brau's On the Wings of Armageddon, SingleCut's Softly Spoken Magic Spells, and Union's Double Duckpin Double IPA, representing, in order, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., the Queens, and Baltimore.

I also want to mention Bell's Two Hearted Ale of Kalamazoo, MI. It's not officially a 2IPA, but it performs like one and is one of our country's very best beers -- I've experienced the heavens opening up and had visions of the divine and heard Levon Helm and a host of angels singing "Up on Cripple Creek" when drinking a pint of Two Hearted Ale. Scott Shirk was with me in April when this happened at the Parkside Lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

I think the Deke and I might drive a box of various beers from out here to Idaho, but I would also be just fine with telling these faithful friends farewell, not hang on to them, and turn my attention to the great beers awaiting us in Kellogg, Wallace, CdA, Post Falls, Spokane, Moscow, Pullman, Missoula, Eugene, and beyond.

Right now, I'm already tasting one of those 3 buck Happy Hour pints of X-Minus One IPA at Radio Brewing in Kellogg.

*By the way, the Double Duckpin Double IPA inspired the Deke and me to make a very important decision: we are going to drive Maggie and Charly to Kellogg, not fly them to Spokane. It turns out both of us were having a lot of doubts, despite the assurances from the vet that the dogs would be okay, about flying our aged dogs out west and we decided that we want to have the dogs with us for the entire trip.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/14/17: Notebooks, Quench Talk, A Racing Mind

1. Why did I move this box of graduate school and teaching notes written in journals and all these grade books and grade sheets to Greenbelt? Most of it is not going to Kellogg, I decided, as I launched into a significant purge of notebooks and other paper things that I no longer want. I am keeping some personal journals I've kept over the years, if for no other reason than to do what Joan Didion advises i her essay, "On Keeping a Notebook". She writes that ". . . we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget."

Indeed. I hadn't exactly forgotten how riddled with self-doubt, guilt, and anxiety I was in my twenties and thirties and on into my early forties, but the notebooks I'm not throwing away chronicle how much I obsessed on my fears and how much I recriminated myself. Other things popped up. This past April, at the Inland Lounge, Bob Casady told me he'd heard the Indigo Girls open for the Grateful Dead on either August 21 or 22, 1993.  I told him I didn't go to either show, but today I read in a journal that I'd had a ticket to the August 21 show, but elected not to use it (did I give it away? sell it?). Instead, I drove to Portland and hung out at the Hawthorne Street Fair and, later in the day, went to the (now defunct) Movie House on SW Taylor to see Much Ado About Nothing for the sixth time that summer.

That guy who, in 1993, used to drive to Portland to see movies and wander around is attractive company. He didn't come knocking on my mind's door. He didn't feel betrayed by me. I found him today and I read and remembered that on that day at the Hawthorne Street Fair I was wearing a long sleeve T-shirt from Pelau (Belau) and ran into a guy named Stewart and we talked about why I was wearing this shirt because he'd been to Pelau and I was reminded today that in 1993 I wrote that Stewart was a jerk and a vague memory of this guy being a know-it-all pontificator began to rise up from the fog of my memory.  I'm ready to be done with Stewart, but he will live wherever I am as long as I keep that notebook he appeared in.

2.  After a day of sorting and packing and making arrangement to rent a van to move stuff over to the Diaz house, the Deke and I went to Quench. We talked about what lies ahead of us in Kellogg and how we might approach the refashioning of the back yard at Mom's house and shared ideas about Mom's house that will soon be ours. It was a great party, enhanced for me by the sweet, smokey, malty bliss of a couple glasses of Founder's Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.

3.  Molly and Hiram went to Wolf Trap to see Steve Martin and Martin Short. The Deke looked after Ana, David, and Olivia. I joined the Deke for individualized pizzas that Molly helped us assemble and bake and some salad and then I drove back to our apartment home and went to sleep, woke up and couldn't get back to sleep until around 1:30 and then went back to sleep again. My mind is racing with the details of this major change taking place in our lives.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/13/17: Sally in New Jersey, I'll Miss Living in the East, Ana is Joyously Alive

1. The Deke and I were up and at 'em this morning and hit the road around 10:30 to begin our trip back to Greenbelt. We stopped at Metuchen, NJ to have lunch with the Deke's cousin Sally. We went to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza and enjoyed a green salad and chicken wings. We had a good time catching up on all the different changes in our lives and ruminated upon what the future might bring and when one or both of us might be traveling to the eastern U.S.A. again.

2. We left Sally's around 2:00 and rocketed down the New Jersey Turnpike and on through Delaware and into Maryland. This must have been about the fifteenth time I made this drive between Greenbelt and Nyack over the last three years and I'll miss it -- I'll miss crossing the Susquehanna River and, later, going over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the feeling of being a part of America on the move with all the other vehicles on the NJ Turnpike; I'll miss those New Jersey Service Plazas named after famous New Jersey people like Joyce Kilmer, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, James Fenimore Cooper and others, the Peet's Coffee at Maryland's Chesapeake House Travel Plaza, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Baltimore skyline looming to the west of I-895, and driving from Nyack to Tarrytown across the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge. I'll miss the anticipation of seeing Adrienne and Jack and enjoying their handsome neighborhood and the beer in Nanuet and Pearl River.  I'll miss hopping on the train in Tarrytown and arriving in the pulsing grandeur of Grand Central Terminal, walking to Washington Square, and ducking into bars in the West Village, East Village, and the Lower East Side to talk about Shakespeare, Levon Helm, and Apocalypse Now, among many other things with Scott Shirk. 

Living in the DC area, exploring it, and taking these trips from Greenbelt to Nyack, NY along with other trips I made beyond Nyack to Cooperstown and Middleboro, MA and Cape Cod gave me a deeper sense of patriotism, of being a citizen of a vast, vibrant, and varied nation than anything I had ever done in my life.

I'll miss it.

But, there's much I've left unexplored in Kellogg and North Idaho, Western Montana, and Eastern Washington over the years. It's time to get goin' out there!

3.  We pulled in front of the Diaz house just in the nick of time. Molly and Hiram and David had an early evening planned attending parents' night at David and Olivia's school and so the Deke and I kept Ana and Olivia company. Ana is a two year old proficient in the verbal art of DaDa. She talks almost without stopping in a never ending disconnected stream of stories, songs she's learned, nonsense songs she creates on the spot, nonsense sentences, short plays with dolls or stuffed animals or figurines as characters, observations of family life, self-narration, and other joyous expressions of AnnaWorld with unbridled vigor and pure happiness. She walks, runs, hops, dances, skips, jumps, and sometimes falls, all the while talking, laughing, demonstrating this, pointing out that, always fully and wondrously Ana alive.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/12/17: Quiet, Angels Dance at Defiant, A Radio Afternoon Nightmare

1.  The Deke and I spent our last full morning in Nyack with the windows open and the cool morning air filling the living room, lounging around, drinking coffee, and enjoying the silence, interrupted only occasionally by birds singing and cars slowly whooshing by.  Once in a while we uttered a few words to each other ("want more coffee?" "need anything while I'm up?"), but mostly we enjoyed being quiet.

2.  Early in the afternoon, we decided that maybe we should do something. Growler and Gill is one of my favorite taprooms anywhere, so we drove there, but they don't open until four. The same was true for places we might like to visit in downtown Nyack. I muttered that these places just don't cater to retired people who like a little day drinking. We shrugged. The Deke confirmed on her pocket computer that Defiant Brewing Company opened at 2:00. Defiant is a cash only establishment, so I went into a pub across the street to an ATM, got us a little cash, and we returned to Defiant. I like the 10 oz. pours at Defiant -- it's just the right amount of higher alcohol beer for me, no more -- and I ordered a Medusa IPA and drank it very slowly while the Deke and I worked our way through the best charcuterie plate we've ever eaten.

Defiant smokes their own meats and they use the smoker to make heavenly crunchy corn bread crustinis, which, along with the mild Asiago, Cheddar, and Gouda cheeses, add sweetness and balance to the smoked meats. But the real coup de grace of this board? The balsamic pickles.

Defiant does all their own pickling, too, and when I bit into one of those balsamic pickles, the heavens opened up and angels, their wings dripping with brine, sang hymns of praise and danced joyously to the sounds of Bob Seger playing over the house sound system and I had a brief glimpse of the Oneness of all things.

3.  We needed a few groceries and I seized the opportunity to drive south on Rt. 303, through Blauvelt and on into Orangeburg, to pick up a few things at the Stop and Shop. On the way back to Adrienne's, I listened to a story on the radio about nursing homes that have lost power in Florida or had to evacuate residents and how the facilities work to continue to serve their residents under such conditions. It reminded me of a picture I saw when Harvey hit Texas, of nursing home residents waiting in their facility in waist high water in Dickinson to be taken elsewhere. I thought of the days I spent this summer in the nursing home being with Mom and could barely stand imagining the challenges that would confront the staff and the residents in Kellogg if there were a power outage, or, God forbid, water began to fill the place. I thought about how confusing it would have been for Mom and other residents if the facility had to be evacuated. Listening to the story of the difficulties that confront Florida nursing homes in the aftermath of Harvey was an afternoon nightmare and made me ache for difficulties Mom never had to face.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/11/17: Short Rockland County Beer Tour, Grilled Pizzas, Writing about Shakespeare AND A Wedding Photo

1. After a morning of lounging around, the Deke and I headed out to the Ambulance Brew House, a handsome, cozy taproom in Nanuet. I enjoyed a 12 oz pour of an IPA from Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont and I can't remember the name of it. It was an earthy, hazy, complex beer, sort of epitomizing just what I'll miss when we leave the East Coast. The Deke and I also ordered a delicious cheese and meat plate that offered us a variety of tastes: heat in the cheeses, salty goodness in the cured meats, and sweetness in the orange marmalade and raisins, along with the more neutral flavors of the crackers and nuts.

After one beer, we ventured over to Defiant Brewing in Pearl River. We each ordered a Fake News IPA and it was an odd and satisfying beer. It was, to me, a hybrid beer, combining the strength of an IPA with the taste of pilsner or Helles lager. I sat at the bar and texted back and forth with Stu about 1970s basketball in Kellogg, CdA, and Spokane -- he is also diving into the archives -- while the Deke visited one of her favorite yarn stores, The Stitchery.  The Deke returned, finished her beer, and we returned to Adrienne's after a relaxing afternoon in Rockland County, NY.

2.  Soon after we returned to Adrienne's apartment, I head back to Nanuet to shop at Fairway for some pizza ingredients: meats, a goat cheese log, tomatoes, and pesto along with picking up some bagels, lox, and a four pack of Dirt Wolf Double IPA.  I brought it home and Adrienne, Jack, the Deke, and I each built a pizza on an individual size round of naan bread and Adrienne grilled each pizza. Adrienne also made a killer chickpea, cucumber, and feta cheese salad, a perfect compliment to the pizza.

3. I paid tribute to the time Scott Shirk and I spent drinking Dirt Wolf in the Blind Tiger in the West Village by cracking one open this evening a writing Scott an email that continued our discussion of Shakespeare. I tried to explain what I see going on in the very dissonant tones and the deeply troubling subject matter of two of Shakespeare's comedies, The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure -- and wondered if, in these plays, Shakespeare was working out critiques of the genre of comedy, work that might have led him to write the kinds of comedies (or tragicomedies or romances) that concluded his career, namely The Winter's Tale and The Tempest.

I really don't know, but it sure is fun to think and write about these things outside of academic life, not as a teacher or a student.  I've really retired.

Julie and Curtis Rockwell are beginning to make some of their wedding pictures public, and here is one of my favorites, taken after the ceremony, of Curtis, Julie, and me.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/10/17: Quality Sleep, Jack and Legos, Adrienne's Superb Salmon Dinner

1.  After walking several miles in NYCity on Saturday, I slept in until 9:30 on Sunday. Over the last couple of months, I haven't walked very much and I haven't flopped around in a pool since June. Most of my physical exercise has resulted from hauling boxes and other items in Kellogg. All this walking in NYCity was a boon and I slept with a length and depth I haven't experienced in months.

2. I'm unsure exactly what the event was, but today the main street of Nyack was closed to traffic and a street fair took place. I wasn't really interested in buying jewelry or eating Thai food or signing up for another Visa card, so when I went downtown, I didn't walk through the street fair, but made my way to Starbucks where I met Jack and the Deke. Jack had purchased a Batman Lego kit and finished it and, upon my arrival, the Deke went back to the store and bought Jack a Joker Lego kit and Jack and I sat in Starbucks while the Deke visited a yarn store. Jack didn't quite complete the Joker, but I enjoyed watching him follow the instruction step by step and start to put it together. For encouraging a child to sit still, focus, and work methodically on a project, these Lego sets are perfect.

3. Adrienne prepared a heavenly dinner tonight. She baked salmon, fixed fresh asparagus spears, and made buttery, creamy mashed potatoes using a variety of tiny spuds. The Deke had told Adrienne that she'd been craving salmon and Adrienne satisfied the Deke's craving -- and then more. It's been a deep pleasure for me over the last several years to see Molly, Patrick, and Adrienne all become increasingly interested in cooking and an even greater pleasure to enjoy the great food they prepare.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/09/17: Tire Torque Rechecked, Zucker's Bagels and a City Stroll, Beer in the W. and E. Village

1. The torque of the tire that I had replaced on Thursday needed to be rechecked, so I buzzed the Sube over to the Nanuet Costco Tire Center where there was no line and Quincy got the job going right away and the job was completed in no time.  I celebrated the quick work by going into the Costco Wholesale store and buying two cases of Polar seltzer water.

2. I piled the Polar and myself back into the Sube and hurtled across the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Tarrytown train station and leaped on a train headed to Grand Central Terminal. Upon arrival, I took a second to soak in all the activity at Grand Central and to admire the grandeur of the place. I strode out the door and headed south on Lexington and dropped into Zucker's Bagels and Smoked Fish, here, for a Zucker's Traditional: a toasted bagel sandwich featuring Nova Scotia salmon, plain cream cheese, beefsteak tomatoes, red onion, and capers.

Properly nourished, I walked south on Lexington to 34th St., headed west to 5th Ave., admired the Empire State Building, and strolled south on 5th for about twenty-five blocks to Washington Square Park and sat for a while on a bench and surveyed the throngs of relaxed people enjoying the mild weather, being guided on walking tours, laughing at the entertainment of a couple of magicians, and soaking up the music of buskers, among other things.

I would have camped in Washington Park Square for a long time, but more urgent business lay ahead. It was almost beer o'clock.

3. If it's beer o'clock in Manhattan, especially in the West Village, East Village, or the Lower East Side, chances are good that I'm meeting up somewhere with Scott Shirk.

That was, indeed, the case today.

Scott took the train from Brooklyn and we met at the Blind Tiger Ale House on Bleeker Street, a rustic pub famous for its devotion to craft beers. Scott and I found a table against a wall and we had a couple of rounds of Victory's superb Dirt Wolf Double IPA. I don't think I'd quaffed a Dirt Wolf since March when Ed, Mike, and I bellied up to the bar at O'Hara's Irish Pub in the shadow of the One World Trade Center.

Scott and my conversation was wide-ranging: The Band, Richard Manuel, the gig Scott played last night, Apocalypse Now, other movies from forty years ago, Julie and Curtis' wedding, King Lear, and on and on.

Soon, though, it was time to head from the West Village to the East Village. We stopped for a listen to a jazz quartet made up of Japanese men in their twenties -- a great sound -- and made a quick stop at a street fair to look at some record albums and to eat a quick chicken empanada at a Puerto Rican booth.

Our plan was to descend underground into the grotto known as Jimmy's No. 43, but, alas, Jimmy'd gone fishing and so we opted for a dive bar, also beneath street level, the unpretentious Grassroots. We sat down at the bar on chairs whose stuffing was falling out and ordered up Black and Tans blending Bass Ale and Guinness and continued to talk about Shakespeare, Kellogg's Inland Lounge and the Broken Wheel (maybe that was at Blind Tiger -- but who's keeping score?!), more movies, death, and more of everything until it was time to stagger out and direct me to the right train to get back to Grand Central. I arrived at Grand Central, immediately found the track for the train back to Tarrytown, and returned to Nyack.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/17: Tire Mission, Driving the East Coast, Superb Frittata Dinner

1. Customers swamped the Costco Tire Center. One guy, who stayed unrattled, worked the counter and maintained his grace under the pressure of impatient customers waiting to be served. I reached the counter after about forty minutes in line and found out it would be a couple of hours before the guys in the shop would get to my tire. I was unrattled. It was about 10:00 and I meandered across Route 1 and camped out at Panera where I enjoyed coffee and a cinnamon crunch scone and had some great text messaging time with Stu and Byrdman about high school basketball in North Idaho and Spokane back in our high school days, an ongoing and fun conversation. Around 11:30 I returned to Costco and, lo and behold, the guys in the shop were done with the Sube. They had to replace the tire, punctured by my dive into the pothole last night, and the tire was under warranty, and nearly brand new, and so I didn't have to pay anything.

Tire mission accomplished.

2. Now the Deke and I were looking at a drive to Nyack, NY later in the day. It took us a while to get ourselves gathered for the drive -- I went to the pharmacy, got cleaned up, and packed my bag. We drove Charly and Maggie over to the Diaz's house. We enjoyed a sandwich at Molly and Hiram's. We didn't leave for Nyack until after 3 o'clock.  Just yesterday, we thought we'd leave around 10 a.m.!

I have never lost my love for the drive from Maryland to Nyack, NY. Yes, things were congested in the vicinity of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, but otherwise I experienced much of the same pleasure driving up I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Garden State Parkway that I have for the last three years, and the pleasure it simple and enduring: it just feels so authentically East Coast to me. And I like that.

3.  We arrived at Adrienne and Jack's at about 8:20 and dug into a great meal that Adrienne had prepared: cold green beans with feta cheese, a turkey, spinach, and mozzarella cheese frittata, and a green salad. The Deke and I were both hungry and this meal nourished us and was very, very tasty. Our visit to Nyack was off to a perfect start.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/07/17: More Research, Byrdman After the Memorial Service, Pothole and Hurricane Irma

1. I made a mistake in my post yesterday and here's my correction.

Whoever scanned the online Spokane Daily Chronicle issue I consulted to review the facts of Kellogg's monumental 106-57 loss to the Coeur d'Alene Vikings my junior year put the December 2, 1970 sports page in the December 1, 1970 newspaper. This was why I thought Kellogg played CdA on Monday, November 30th.

We didn't.

We played on Tuesday night -- which makes a ton more sense -- December 1, 1970.

I am having a blast diving into these Chronicle archives and communicating with other people online about high school basketball in North Idaho when I was in high school.

Today, Stu and I marveled that the CdA Viking team that mopped up their new gym with us on December 1, 1970 did not win the Idaho state tournament. Neither of us could imagine them losing to anyone. That's how much we admired them. But, indeed, the Vikings lost to Skyline High School of Idaho Falls. Skyline won the tournament and CdA won their consolation game to finish the tournament in third place. (By the way, I verified that the next year CdA lost in the state championship game to Moscow and the next year they won the state title -- quite a run.)

Later in the day, JoJo informed me that not long after the Vikings drubbed us, they lost a game to Central Valley of Spokane. I was stunned. I marveled at how good that CV team must have been to beat the Vikings. I remembered CV was coached by the legendary Ray Thatcher and I found some box scores from later in the season and read names of players on that team, but didn't recognize any of them. I do know that CV won the Washington State Border League, defeating University High late in the season to snap a tie at the top between the two squads. I have more research ahead of me to find out how Central Valley performed in the state tournament.

I also read write ups about what a phenomenal scorer Dave Wood of Rogers High was in the Spokane City League.

By the way, I think I figured out the starting five for the 1970-71 Vikings, and I'm open to correction. But a perusal of some line scores leads me to believe they started Duffy Taylor, Nick Nead, Scott Stern, Brice Bemis, and Dick Schaffer.  Bench players included Dick Fields, Mike Spenser, and Jim Lee. (My apologies if I spelled any of these last names wrong.)

2. On Wednesday, Cd'A First Presbyterian Church held a memorial service for Brice Bemis. Byrdman attended the service and afterward he had some beers at Midtown Pub with some stellar ballplayers from Kootenai County: Coeur d'Alene's Bob Ehrlich and Craig Plumlee and Mike Guindon of Post Falls. I would have really enjoyed talking with these guys, especially when Craig Plumlee and Byrdman continued the session at Daft Badger and Craig got to talking about the basketball rivalries between Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Moscow, and Kellogg our senior year in 1971-72. I would have loved to have heard Craig's memories and analysis of these teams and I would have added Sandpoint to the mix and would have wondered if, like me, Craig thought John Andrews was one of the best all around athletes anywhere.

Maybe another day. Maybe at Corby's. We'll see. Maybe, for me, moving the North Idaho and meeting up with Byrdman and Stu and Lars and Jake and others in the greater CdA-Post Falls area might also include running into or meeting up with some of my CdA peers whom I never knew off the court, but against whom Byrdman played a lot of rec ball as an adult. I know that one of my best days in the summer of 2017 was when Byrdman and I ran into Tim Terrell and Jack Morris at Midtown Pub and had a great talk about when we all played ball.

There was no bragging. No exaggerations. No fabrications. We just talked facts about who played, what happened, and what we remembered.  I mean, we talk about the present, too -- retirement, kids, jobs we've had, when to retire, and so on. But it's really fun to talk with these guys I knew only as teen age star athletes and enjoy what good guys they are in their sixties, all these years later.

3. I was driving the Deke and me home from the Diazes and had a classic East Coast experience. I hit a pothole that damaged our right rear tire. I pulled off onto the shoulder and we called AAA and the man who put the spare on was named Jumiel. He is from the U.S. Virgin Islands. While doing his job, he immediately began talking to us about Hurricane Irma, how his parents were in the U.S. Virgin Islands and he couldn't reach them yet and how worried he was. We could do little but thank him for changing our tire and tell him we'd hold him and his family in our prayers.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/06/17: More on the 70-71 Kellogg Wildcats, Rest and Errands, Eggplant Returns

1. Yesterday, when I wrote about the passing of Brice Bemis, I wrote about the fact that he scored the first basket ever in the new CdA gym, with me "guarding" him, back in 1970.

I did some online newspaper research about this game. I now know our hapless Wildcat squad played the Vikings on December 1, 1970. Yesterday, I said we lost the game by just over fifty points. I was wrong. We lost by forty-nine points. The final tally was 106-57.

Finding this score brought back a memory of what a deluded kid I was in high school, how willing I was to express false confidence, how very little self-knowledge I had. In the locker room after the game, we Wildcats were dejected. We'd just been humiliated by a far superior opponent and we might have all known, though we wouldn't say it, that we didn't have much of a basketball team.

Our coach, Larry Curry, walked into the locker room and declared: "They won't score 100 points on us next time."

I responded: "Hell, they won't even beat us."

I'm still embarrassed that I said such a clueless thing. We could have played the 1970-71 Vikings team a hundred times and never beaten them. They were tall, fast, and experienced and we were short, slow, and green.

The  game with CdA was contested on a Tuesday night.  We licked our wounds during the week, practiced hard, and traveled to Ferris High School on Friday night. I looked up the score of that game. Ferris defeated us 102-52.

Ah! That was our fifty point loss.

Under the headline, "'Century' Victim to Take on Zags", these paragraphs appeared in the  December 5, 1970 Spokane Daily Chronicle's encapsulation of the Ferris game:
 Kellogg helps Gonzaga Prep open its 1970-71 high school basketball campaign tonight in Spokane and the visiting Wildcats have to be hoping they will not help another team join the "Century Club".
Kellogg was whipped 102-52 by Ferris here last night. It was the same Panhandle team that was the victim when Shadle Park set a City record in notching a 106-55 victory early last year. 

The Chronicle didn't bother to mention that we surrendered over 100 points to CdA just four days earlier, helping them enter the "Century Club".

By the way, I checked the December 7, 1970 Spokane Daily Chronicle. We held Gonzaga Prep to 70 points the night after surrendering 102 points to Ferris.

Although we denied the Zags admission into the "Century Club", we could only muster 55 points ourselves and started our dismal 1970-71 season at 0-3, having given up 278 points in three games.

Oh! Later in the season, my prediction that "Hell, they won't even beat us" didn't pan out.

CdA came to Andrews Gymnasium at Kellogg High School and drubbed us. I don't know the final score, but Coach Curry's prediction was right: they didn't score 100 points against us again.

2. I had time to do all that research into the opening of the 1970-71 basketball season because I rested quite a bit today, fighting off the bug I mentioned yesterday. The rest helped a lot. I did get out, though. I thoroughly enjoyed driving over to MOM's Organic to pick up a few groceries for dinner, I stopped in at the Sunoco station where Jens replaced a headlight bulb that had gone out, and I picked up a few things at the Co-op.

3. If you read this blog of mine very often, you might have noticed a word missing over the last two and half months or so: eggplant. Today, however, I made a green curry for the Deke and me and poured it over rice noodles, eggplant, onion, green beans, and tofu. It was a mild curry. I wish I'd made it a little spicier because spicy things are medicinal for me. It was really fun, though, to make some curry again and to work with my old friend eggplant in the kitchen after our too long of an absence from each other.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/05/17: Ran Myself Ragged, RIP Brice Bemis, Old Friends at Old Line

1. Today it all caught up with me. I have been running myself ragged for the last two and a half months with daily visits to see Mom, her passing away, beginning to clear things out of her house, a fun trip to Eugene, flying back to Greenbelt to begin packing up our apartment home in preparation for our move to Kellogg, and a wonderful drive to Huntingdon, PA to officiate Julie and Curtis' wedding. Until these past two and a half months, I had not run myself ragged since working full time at LCC. It's why retirement has been so good for my health.

But, today, I hit the wall. I've been achy, had a constant cough, and a sore throat. I reached a ragged point of exhaustion.

I worked on some things around the apartment, but mostly I lay in bed, sleeping on and off, definitely resting.  We have a trip planned to NY and NJ this weekend, so I want to be well again and rested up for it. We have more packing to finish up and our drive across the country looms ahead, too.

I need to rest up for another day and stop acting like I can go and go and go -- I'd say like I used to, but I've never been very good at going and going and going -- it has always caught up to me like this!

2.  It shocked me today when I read on Facebook that Coeur d' Alene High School, Class of '71, former Viking basketball standout, Brice Bemis died on Monday. I never knew Brice. Our basketball lives, however, will be forever intertwined. In the late fall of 1970, we, the KHS Wildcats, and the CdA Vikings opened the basketball season against each other in the first game ever played in CdA's new high school gymnasium and it was the most monumentally one-sided game I ever played in. Cd'A beat us by just over fifty points.

That night, I was assigned to guard Brice Bemis. The Viks secured the opening tip, set up their offense, and Brice Bemis launched a 12-15 foot jump shot with me "guarding" him. I lunged his way, feebly put my hand up about five feet short of his face, and he splashed it -- it was the first basket scored in the new CdA gym and, just a couple of years ago, through his friend Marion Richardson, Brice reminded me that he scored the first bucket in that gym. I told Marion to be sure to tell Brice that I knew that was true because I had an up close view of the shot and its success.

3. I rallied for a couple of hours this afternoon and the Deke and I went to Old Line to try to nail down when we might leave Greenbelt and arrive in Kellogg. It's still a little fuzzy in my mind, but we at least know we are staying in Greenbelt though the weekend of the 16th and 17th.

While we were conferring at the bar, to our surprise, members of a group of educators we know from Prince George's County School District strolled in, talked to us at the bar, and we joined them at their table. Over the past couple of years or so, we've enjoyed many late afternoons with this group and it was really fun to see them again -- for the last time before we leave? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/04/17: Shipping Boxes, Dogs Can Fly, Diaz Dinner

1. It is looking more and more like we can make this move to Kellogg without hiring a moving company. We'll have some boxes shipped by parcel post, but we aren't moving any big items and we are finding more and more items to give away, either to family or to charity.

2. The Deke took Maggie to the vet. The vet said Maggie and Charly are both in good health for dogs their age and that to fly them to Spokane wouldn't be any more difficult on them than a drive across the U.S.A. This news could, potentially, make our move more comfortable. The dogs hate riding in the car.

3. Molly and Hiram will play a key role in our move. We are giving them quite a few items from our apartment home and they would be the ones to take the dogs to the airport to have them shipped. Hiram fixed all of us teriyaki chicken and rice with vegetables for dinner tonight and we started to get more into the nitty gritty of making this move happen.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/03/17: The Signing, Catholic Beer Club, Raw Flame Gone

1. Once I finally got out of bed, I gathered my things, made sure the cottage I stayed in was picked up and straightened up, and headed to Stone Town Cafe for breakfast with people who hadn't left Huntingdon after the wedding. Lo and behold, upon arriving at the cafe, Susie informed me that the breakfast location had been changed to the Rockwell homestead.

No problem.

I steered the Sube out of town and threaded it up the narrow road to Julie and Curtis' property and, before long, Julie, Curtis, and I sat down at a table in the barn and, with little ceremony, I signed their marriage certificate to be sent back to the county.

The scones, quiche, French toast casserole, fruit, coffee, and other fine foods, along with listening to Julie talk about the course she's teaching this semester that examines food systems in the U.S.A., nourished me for my slightly more than three hour drive back to Maryland.

2. The drive back to Maryland, back through through the thick forest and fertile farm lands on two lane roads in Pennsylvania, until I reached I-70, I-270, and the Capitol Beltway, was easy and without incident.

I had already made a date with the Deke to do what we have done on Sunday afternoons for quite awhile: go to DC Brau. I nearly wept with pleasure upon sipping my drops of On the Wings of Armageddon after not having any for nearly three months.

The Deke and I sat at a table and were joined by layman James and Benedictine Monk, Brother Ignacio of the monastery of St. Anselm in NE D.C., fewer than ten minutes away from DC Brau. James and Brother Ignacio are the city coordinators for the D. C. Catholic Beer Club.

The Deke overheard James and Brother Ignacio talking about the Netflix series The Crown and just as I was returning to the counter to purchase another On the Wings of Armageddon, she started talking with them about the show, and, by the time I returned to our table, the conversation had turned magnificently theological and perfectly ecumenical. James had to leave a little early. For the ensuing half an hour, though, Brother Ignacio told us all about his vocation as a Benedictine -- he prays without ceasing -- and the studies he is currently embarked upon to become a priest: two years of philosophy and four years of theology. In fact, he was carrying with him a printout of Aristotle's categories that he needed to memorize as part of his course.

This was one of our best ever visits to DC Brau. Our conversation, though relatively brief, soared into the most important questions of what life means, what it is to be human, and how we experience God in the world. James and Brother Ignacio left us filled with gratitude for such an uplifting and stimulating party.

If you'd like to read more about Brother Iganacio and James -- and the Catholic Beer Club -- just click here.

3. The Deke and I drove the short distance from DC Brau to Ivy City for one last beer at Atlas Brewing. I think if we were to continue to live in Maryland, our Sunday routine would expand to include both of these breweries.

We drank our last beer and talked about how we imagine living our lives in Kellogg. We have dreams about all kinds of things including music, reading, writing, traveling, and what we might do with Mom's house.

Back at our apartment home, I popped us each a bowl of popcorn.

After the Deke turned in, I gave myself over to how much I hated having learned earlier in the day that Walter Becker had died at the age of 67.

I spent the next hour or so on YouTube, watching videos of Steely Dan performing live at different stages of their life as a band and listened to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker being interviewed on a VH1 show.

I went to bed, wishing I could break out the hats and hooters and rev up the motor scooters.

We lost a raw flame, a live wire.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/02/17: Getting Ready, Julie and Curtis' Wedding, The Reception

1. I slept in this morning for an hour or so and woke up already feeling the thrill of this afternoon's wedding joining the lives of Julie Fether and Curtis Rockwell. I decided to be fastidious about my appearance, a rarity. I brought two pairs of slacks and two jackets and two ties to Huntingdon and I took some time to deliberate which ones to wear. I liked my history with my gray suit and chose it. I carefully inspected the jacket and slacks for wrinkles, pressed the slacks and then pressed my white shirt. I showered. I had one more decision to make: which tie? I decided on the more brightly colored one and tied a knot I was very happy with on my second attempt.

I decided I looked ready to be an officiant and strolled up the hill to Curtis' parents' home where Ken and Millie invited me in for a sandwich and a couple of cups up Constant Comment tea.

2. We arrived at Manor Church, deep in the country, and everything was ready to go. No last minute crises, no pre-wedding drama, just sound planning paying off.

The rain had let up so wedding guests were able to congregate outside the church and talk and laugh in happy groups. Those who were in the church were treated to a half an hour or so of gorgeous Celtic music by the Folkemer family who also enriched the ceremony with their playing.

The wedding party processed to the front of the church, Julie dressed in a Ukrainian wedding dress, her mother, June, and brother, Jamie, happy to give Julie away to Curtis.

The ceremony proceeded beautifully, focused on the strength, beauty, and durability of the invigorating power of love with passages from Shakespeare, the Song of Songs, Middlemarch, and Rumi along with a nod to St. Paul. Ukrainian traditions seasoned the ceremony.

It was a joyous wedding. As it drew to an end and Julie and Curtis received their guests, smiles beamed from every row of pews and every corner of the room. Julie and Curtis' family and friends are thrilled for their happiness and for the goodness their life together promises.

Officiating this wedding was one of the deepest pleasures of my life.

3. After the wedding, we all headed back to the Rockwell homestead for a lively reception featuring a generous table of appetizers, toasts, a musical performance by Julie and Curtis, gift bags, woodfire pizza baked on the spot, and, for dessert, cheesecake, various pies, and individually wrapped gobs (whoopie pies). I especially enjoyed the iced Iron City Beer of Pittsburgh, PA.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/17: Drive to Huntingdon, Arrival at the Homestead, Rehearsal and Dinner

1.  Today began with dropping the Deke off at the Diaz house and with me solo driving the Sube to Huntingdon, PA. It wasn't too long after I entered Pennsylvania that I was off the freeways and winding my way to Huntingdon on state and county roads through cornfields, thickly forested hills, small towns, and a lovely state park. I loved this drive. I'd never experienced so much of rural Pennsylvania and found this area, located in south central Pennsylvania, on the Appalachian ridges of the Alleghenies, arresting in its natural variety and beauty.

2. I made my way outside of the city limits a ways, up a hill to the end of  Oriskany Lane, where Julie and Curtis live in a house that has been in the Rockwell family for decades. Following and warm greeting from Julie and being introduced to Curtis, I got to meet Julie's mother, June, whom Julie as told me a great deal about in our correspondence over the last four years. She's witty, kind, and generous, just as Julie has told me. I also got to meet Curtis' father, Ken, who gave me a history of this sturdy old house that is now Julie and Curtis', and who told me about his, and his family's, many, many years as educators at Juniata College the private, liberal arts college in Huntingdon. He is very proud of the enduring legacy of Juniata's commitment to liberal arts undergraduate education and of his service to the school.

3. It wasn't long before the participants in Saturday's wedding ceremony caravanned out to the stone church at Manor Hill, built as a Presbyterian house of worship in 1825. We rehearsed the ceremony -- everyone has their cues, their marks, and knows where to be when.  We then all made out way to the rehearsal dinner on the patio of the Stone Town Cafe and Gallery where we enjoyed tender and juicy and tasty barbecue beef brisket, roasted potatoes, corn casserole, and dinner rolls followed by strawberries and whipped cream over flaky and light puff pastry. I think the festive mood is set for a joyous wedding day and that our goodwill and merriment will overcome any difficulties the rainy day might present.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 08/31/17: Book Donations, Resting, Wedding Ceremony Ready

1. I buzzed down to the Co-op to pick up a few items and some boxes and, to my delight, a huge box sat near the front of the store. The Greenbelt Elementary PTA is collecting books for a book sale. I brought home the goods I bought, the Deke and I packed up about half a dozen boxes of books we had already set aside to lighten our move to Kellogg, and I drove them back down to the Co-op and dropped them in the box.

2. The Deke left for a couple of hours this afternoon and suddenly I felt a wave of exhaustion. The visits to see Mom at Kindred, Mom passing away, the efforts to move things out of her house, the travel from Kellogg to Greenbelt, preparing Julie and Curtis' wedding ceremony, and the packing the Deke and I have been working on conspired to yell at me to stop. I did. I lay down. Maggie and Charly joined me. I slept.

3.  I packed my suitcase for tomorrow's drive to Huntingdon, PA. After a little bit more editing and after Julie answered a few questions about the ceremony, I am confident that my work is completed. I've had a blast working with Julie through thoughtful and enthusiastic emails to get things right -- the way she and Curtis want them -- and now I will just concentrate on relaxing and enjoying the charge Julie and Curtis have entrusted me with to join their lives together in marriage.