The Promise of Possibilities
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2 April 2014, Arlington VA USA
At last the weather is getting better after that awful weekend of rain-mini-hail-snow. Walking to the bus stop with my eight-year-old charge, Mickey, has been so pleasant — no umbrella to blow inside out in the wind, no curbside puddles for cars to splash onto us, just a lovely walk on a spring morning. Tuesday morning’s yoga class felt good but left me more tired than usual. I actually dozed off while reading after lunch. So after dinner, I suggested a walk. Mickey scootered while I walked for almost an hour — over and around the park, through the FDIC Building plaza and the Virginia Square area, then to a yoghurt shop and home. It was fun to see a park full of people — baseball game on the diamond, kids practicing soccer passes and catching ground balls, lots of tennis players of all ages.
I was stunned to get two emails today with bad news. A high school friend is having surgery for breast cancer tomorrow. And the husband of a friend in Warsaw died following heart surgery.
Skipped Pilates to prepare for Aideen’s return — cleaning, laundering bed linens etc. So I walked down to Clarendon and back (about 20 minutes each way) to have lunch with my friends Inga and Adam. Adam lives near there, and is an art restorer and an antique car “nut” (a collector and restorer). He’s been helping Inga with car sales/purchases and is always fun to talk with. We had a delightful lunch.
After dinner, Mickey and I walked to the library so he could look for some books, only to discover we needed a PIN number for Aideen’s library card. A friendly librarian did something to override the system and allow Mickey to check out two of his favorite “Big Nate” books. (He’s already finished the book I bought him at the International Spy Museum, and by bedtime had made quite a dent in one Big Nate.) Afterward the library, we walked to the park, again full of people enjoying being outdoors. Mickey played with a five-year-old whom we met on the jungle gym. Mickey was really good at moving hand-over-hand from one swinging bar to the next. The other boy wanted to play tag, which they did with Mickey alwayshaving to be “it.” And Mickey handled that really well. On the walk home we talked about how the younger child didn’t quite get the concept of tag, and Mickey allowed as how he probably hadn’t at that age either.
Aideen returned today, happy to be home and healthy. After the last trip we spent the afternoon in the ER as she got tests and prescriptions, later learning for sure that she had giardia. This time it’s only her allergies acting up. She’ll pick Mickey up at school shortly, then we’ll have dinner at Rus Uz, a Russian Uzbek restaurant that’s a block away and they’ll take me to Bethesda. Inga and her friend Mary are taking their daughters Franciszka and Abby to New York City for the weekend to celebrate 16th birthdays; they’ll stay in our Peace Corps friend Kim’s apartment. Kim will come to Bethesda
4 April, Bethesda MD
Who’d a thunk it? Those commercials that extol how absorbent their paper towels are are right. At Inga’s I make coffee using a small Melitta, which takes a cone-shaped filter. When I couldn’t find one, I used an old standby from my overseas days, a paper towel scrunched into the Melitta. Into the makeshift filter went the coffee grounds (some great Ethiopian that Aideen had brought me previously). Over the coffee went the boiling water. Out came … nothing. Coffee should have dripped through the paper towel into the mug, something I’d witnessed many times in the past. Instead the Melitta held a pool of coffee slurry. I’m off to take Franciszka to school — she’ll drive there and I’ll drive back via the supermarket!
7 April, Minneapolis MN
Home again. Doing some final sorting of Scotland. Sally, from the Acapulco trip days, is definitely joining me the second week. She’ll finalize air reservations from her place in Greece this week. Looks like a full house for the whole month. I’ve started to make notes that I’ll email to everyone in May.
Had a long email from my friend Bob who’s been working in Afghanistan for the last year-plus. I was curious for a “local” view of the elections. He feels that the elections succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, that Afghanis are so tired of the corruption and failed leadership of the current regime and the senseless brutality of the Taliban that they came out to register and to vote in large numbers despite several serious incidents. He said not only was turnout higher than in the previous election but many more women voted. One of his Afghan colleagues commented that “the majority has awakened,” and that would certainly be a good sign that we haven’t wasted lives, money and time there.
Just got off the phone with Peace Corps friend Sabrina. She, husband Mark and my adopted grandson Christopher were joining me in Scotland the last week of June. But that date conflicts with the self-catering cottage they’ve rented; it has to be a Saturday-Saturday stay. They won’t join me but hopefully will come to Ayr for the few days before that. Big disappointment but nice to have inspired someone to see the land of half my heritage.
Lots of emergency activity in the neighborhood today. While running errands, I was passed by a fire engine on 15th Street, a police car on Nicollet and another police car on 1st Avenue — all within 15 minutes. Didn’t see any smoke nor injured bodies so don’t know what was going on.
|My Godson's son|
Alijah gets ready for Easter
So I went to the Thursday water ex class and caught a cold. Usually I don’t do this class as the instructor is very uncreative and low energy. But since I’m only here for two weeks, I want to get in as much exercise as I can. Afterward class, four of us went to coffee, and one woman got coffee refills for herself and me. She was just recovering from a very nasty cold and I think I got it. Or maybe it was just bad luck and germs from opening a door. Anyway, I skipped by favorite class (Andrew’s shallow water class) today and probably will skip tomorrow. I can hardly breathe but am taking some Sudafed, which I hate but I have to be healthy by next Friday when I leave for Boston etc. Giving myself some down time, liquids only today, to get healthy!
Aideen has confirmed dates when she and Mickey will come to Minnesota this summer, and I’ve confirmed dates with Janet and Ed to use their cabin part of that time. Will be fun to have them here. Hoping that my nephews and their kids can join us.
I have been trying to figure a good time to call my friend in Poland. Her husband died unexpectedly last month, and I want to talk to her, to see how she’s doing and what I can do to help. Although our Polish friends will do what they can to help, she is alone and unlikely to reach out too often. Thankfully she called me today. She is devastated, as I expected, and I feel so helpless being here. This death is just one more reminder of my mortality, something I think about sometimes. I have more years behind me than ahead of me. So I have to make the most of every minute.
This afternoon my sister and I went shopping to find carpeting for her condo. She needs to redecorate and carpeting is the place to start. We found several that she likes, took samples home and arranged for Home Depot to send a measuring service next week. Hopefully she can arrange installation in June when I’m gone. That way she and Stu (her cat) can stay at my place. Next, a painter.
All this Heartbleed virus stuff is driving this Luddite crazy. Change password, wait to change passwords. Argh! My sister the techie finally found a website with info on which sites are at risk, which has helped. But I spent a frustrating evening yesterday changing some key user names and passwords.
A day out with Marilou is always fun. Since I arrived to pick her up early, I played fetch with her Sammy who has more energy than any 10 dogs. Then we scoped out the valance for her sunroom before leaving. We’d tried to use our Groupon to Eat Street Social for lunch one weekday a while back only to find it closed, so we reserved for Sunday brunch today, to be followed by a movie. After looking at the menu, we weren’t sure we’d spend all of our Groupon value … $60 … then proceeded to overspend it. Good food though. Afterwards we drove out to the cheapo Hopkins Cinema and saw “Gravity.” We’re both a bit acrophobic — thank God we didn’t see it in 3D. But the graphics were excellent, and although it’s a thin storyline, the acting was wonderful. I especially like the image at the end when Sandra Bullock finally gets to earth — her rise from the lake to finally standing and walking was so evocative of that picture of humankind’s transition over the millenia.
14 April, Passover begins this evening
I remember well the seders we had at our church, instigated by my Sunday school class. We did several activities with youth from a nearby synagogue and decided that since the Last Supper was really a seder, we should experience that. Not sure if the church continued after we graduated from high school.
It was cold and windy when I walked Lake Harriet this morning with my friend Linda, but thankfully we both still had winter gear handy. It’s been weeks since my last Monday morning walk with Linda, and I haven’t exercised since Thursday, deciding to stay out of the water until I get this cold under control. Today I can finally breathe again. Now to decide if I’m going to water ex tomorrow. That can wait until I get up tomorrow and see how I feel.
I contacted a bunch of high school friends about having dinner when I’m in PA for the wedding. Had only heard from Bucky and Suzie until today. Pinky called and several of the Elizabeth gang are interested in joining us. I promised to follow up with others and we’ll coordinate on Thursday.
This morning I left a voice mail message for my late son Peter’s friend Ole about painting Barbara’s condo. He called this evening to say he’s stopped painting and taken a job with the local distributor of Bobcats, the little tractors. He’d been doing some part time work for them on the side while continuing to paint, then was given the chance for a steady income with benefits, a definite plus for a family man. While I’m disappointed that he can’t do the job for us, I am happy for his change. He’s married with two small children now, and his wife Lauren works for an advertising agency and travels for work sometimes. Having more certain hours and income will make their lives easier.
Next month is Peter’s 15th yahrseit, and I’m thinking of doing something in addition to saying kaddish at Temple Israel with Susan. Susan’s mother’s yahrseit is the same day as Peter’s, and on the first anniversary of his death, she invited me to join her in the Jewish tradition. I do that whenever I’m in Minneapolis.
Today’s Minnesota Twins baseball game was called on account of bad weather — snow. ‘Nuff said.
Up since 5:30 getting ready to travel: Stripped off the bed linens. Did the pile of ironing, mostly flat pieces which I hate to iron (boring). Quick trip to CVS to get some homemade “Kinder Egg” ingredients (Jonah and Spike in Boston love Kinder Eggs), to the post office to mail a cap that I knitted cap for my friend Marcia’s new granddaughter and to Whole Foods to grab some take out for lunch and sample their fantastic guacamole. Have completed four loads of laundry, two more to go. Still need to put clean sheets on the bed, but I’m taking a break.
FYI — KinderEggs are a German children’s treat — a chocolate-covered plastic egg with a prize inside. Jonah and Spike discovered them while living in London, and you cannot buy them in the US because food products cannot contain nonfood items. However, I supply them with KinderEggs when I’m in Poland.
Also did my online check-in with Delta … and a Skype call with Steve, who’s also on the Center Board. I had sent him a draft of my notes/presentation on recommended changes to how the Center’s president is evaluated. I got samples from HR friends here as well as copies of how the glass company evaluates our board chairman and comments from another board member. Steve added some good comments. I’ll finish this when I get back in May.
This afternoon Jan’s coming over to knit and keep me company while I finish my pre-departure chores. I always do better if someone is around. Then off to friends Janet and Ed’s tonight so I can be at the airport by 5 am. Argh!
Yesterday Janet and Sally (of Acapulco fame) and I braved the snowfall and went to Milda’s for lunch. Milda’s is an institution on the North Side that’s reopened after a fire required relocation. It’s the epitome of a neighborhood cafe, big servings of delicious comfort food. Janet and Sally indulged in the homemade beef pasties with gravy; they were “ginormous” the kids say and declared well worth the fatty calories. Later in the afternoon, I was back out in the thick of it when I drove to my hair appointment at Connie’s. In the hour or so I was there, heavy wet snowfall covered the car. We went to dinner at Crossroads Deli, a favorite spot not too far from Connie’s. More snow to scrape when we finished. The super slushy highway home was made more dangerous by fast-moving SUVs spraying a high wake onto my little Focus and the need to navigate potholes. I was so glad to get home safely. Thankfully it’s in the mid 30s today and snow is melting now.
18 April, the original Patriot’s Day marking Paul Revere’s ride, Newtonville MA
I never like travel days because I don’t sleep well. It’s why I prefer early flights to the 3:10 pm to Amsterdam. Today I was wide awake at midnight, never did fall back to sleep and turned off the 4 am alarm at 3:30. I was at Janet and Ed’s because, as I wrote last month, they are lots closer to the airport and offer “limo service.” Their son Thom provided that today. Since TSA is now recommending two-plus hours in advance of domestic flights, I was at MSP before 5 am for my 7 am flight to Boston. No long lines this time so I had lots of time to call Expedia about changing my Boston-to-Pittsburgh flight. That’s what had me awake … my two-leg trip only had a 33 minute window to change planes in LaGuardia. While it cost me a change fee and a few more bucks for a slightly more costly nonstop ticket, it was worth the price. Made the change. Now I’ll leave at the same time but fly nonstop.
My friend Karen, wife of Larry from Peace Corps and mother of Jonah and Spike, picked me up at the airport. We ran a few errands and picked the boys up at baseball practice before going to the house. Time to settle in and start catching up, then a short nap before dinner. Now to bed.
BTW, Paul Revere said, “The Redcoats are coming,” not “The British are coming.” After all, he was a Brit.
PS to Class of ’63 readers — Anyone remember our 8th grade history class with Miss Scary when a male classmate who trotted around the room reciting “Paul Revere’s Ride”? Who was that? (Non classmates, that was really the teacher’s name. Imagine the fun we had.)
A day of sports. Both Spike (8) and Jonah (12) had soccer games. They are easy to spot on the field and enthusiastic participants. Jonah is taller than his teammates and has a head of curly hair that I wish I had.
I talked and texted with my nieces Michelle and Dyana about plans … Michelle and I are in Boston this weekend to support Dyana’s first Boston Marathon. Dyana’s laying low while Michelle and her husband Jon play tourist. Jon has to return to MN tomorrow, so the Michels and I will meet M&D in the afternoon at some point and have a late lunch-early dinner. Not only is this marathon-and-holiday weekend, but both the Bruins (hockey) and Red Sox (baseball) are playing. We hoping to catch a dinner table in between the games.
20 April, Easter Sunday
I had made Jonah and Spike “KinderEggs” from big yellow plastic Easter eggs and brought them for Easter. I made the first eggs easy to find, then sent them on a hunt for the second ones, ala my mom’s Easter basket and egg hunts. They loved the eggs, but I didn’t know that Spike is allergic to tree nuts and doesn’t care for peanut butter (Reese’s were in the eggs). He traded with Jonah for M&Ms, and I promised to replace his candies with one of his choice when we found a CVS today.
The weather is perfect for being outdoors. Karen ordered sandwiches from a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop in downtown Boston, then we walked to the Public Garden (next to Boston Common) and sat in the sunshine to eat. My Cubano with turkey and chicken was out of this world. We had Patches, their dog, with us, and he attracted a lot of attention.
|Jonah, Karen, Spike, Larry & Patches in Public Garden|
Michelle and Dyana walked over from their hotel, then we wandered to and through the marathon expo before driving to the North End/Little Italy for dinner. Boy, did we just make it in time. Jonah, Michelle, Dyana and I jumped out of the car to find a table. M&D tried the restaurant where they had eaten the night before. Italian and excellent … but no room before 8, they called to us from across the street. Jonah needed a bathroom (truth be told, so did I), so we went into another to use the bathroom and seek a table. A jovial maitre d’ said yes to both requests … but wouldn’t seat us until we all arrived. So many more people arrived before Larry, Karen and Spike that I was getting worried. But they’d finally found a parking space among the narrow, cramped streets and set up the car so Patches would be okay until we’d finished. We sat, we ate, we enjoyed. Must write a glowing review of Ricardo’s.
Oh, so we’re walking down the street and Dyana goes into a CVS for a bottle of water. I join her, trying to remember what it is I needed to buy here besides water. Then Spike joined me and reminded me … his KinderEgg candy. I’m so glad he was comfortable doing that; I would hate to have forgotten and disappointed him. He spent some time deciding and finally settled on mint M&Ms. Interesting choice for a kid. I grabbed a couple of Brookstones, dark chocolate covered blueberry and pomegranate, to help keep my hands out of the Ms.
21 April, Patriot’s Day holiday and Boston Marathon Day
Dyana finished the marathon in 4:17 and was looking good when we saw her at about mile 18 in Newton. She stopped for a few minutes of photos, a squirt of water from the boys and short chat, then off she went.
I took a bus as far into the city as I could get, but not before tripping on a curb and falling (without serious injury). Without Larry’s yelling “Suzi. Bus,” I might’ve missed it; I was sending Michelle a text and not looking. The bus stopped way short of the center due to the race, so I walked forever down Commonwealth. I finally gave up trying to find Michelle despite her directions. Finally caught up her and Dyana under the “Paul Revere” statue (it is actually George Washington, but I knew where they intended us to meet). The 40-minute wait at Cheers was worthwhile for a delicious and perfectly cooked real hamburger, my first in ages. I ate all the fries and a few of Michelle’s onion rings.
Took the T back to the suburbs and Larry met me. We finished the day watching two favorite teams win, the Penguins and the Blackhawks. Oh, and USAir upgraded me. What a great day!
22 April, Boston Logan Airport
Passing the time in a comfortable rocking chair looking out at a beautiful sunny day and airplanes moving to and fro. Off to Pittsburgh shortly.
23 April, West Mifflin (southeast of Pittsburgh), PA
Staying at the same hotel where I stayed for the 50th reunion last year.
Another great day. Bucky and I did a Tour of the Township with a stop at Tillie’s in Versailles for lunch, fish sandwiches of course. We had tried Country Club Tavern in lower Greenock, but it doesn’t open until 4 pm. Bucky’s a friend from Everglade Drive; he joined our class midway through 5th grade. Like me, he couldn’t wait to abandon the old hometown for elsewhere. His career in sales has taken him to many places, including Buffalo NY and Marietta Ohio. I had forgotten that he had two paper routes — he could remember so many of the old residents of the various homes we passed. We were both saddened to see all of the fences in our old backyards (no more sledding there) and found all of the home additions interesting.
Dinner at Atria’s with Pinky, Eileen, Noreen, Janie, Barb, Suzie, Lance and Bucky. More catching up and talk of future plans. Eileen and Noreen may join me in Scotland the same week as Jane, another high school friend. And agreement that we want to do something collectively for our 70th birthdays next year.
28 April, Robinson Township PA
What a great weekend. The wedding on Saturday was heavenly … gloomy morning turned gorgeously sunny just as Alexis and Marcus left the gazebo to ‘walk down the aisle.’ Short but very personal ceremony; the officiant was a friend of theirs and this was his first wedding. Way too much delicious food — ‘continental breakfast’ before the ceremony, huge buffet brunch after. I’m sure I gained five pounds on Saturday. Bob gave a heartfelt toast that drew tears. Dancing to a variety of old music genres. We helped clear things at the end of the afternoon and did so efficiently that the caterer wanted to hire us.
|Alexis and Bob|
Before that, lots of fun and great food. OD’d on tacos and mac & cheese at Smoke, a hole-in-the-wall place in old Homestead that Alexis and Marcus had previously found and Bob now adores. This was his second visit this trip. OD’d on pizza another night, the first pizza I’ve eaten in months. I took his Reno grandsons to the Strip District and Carnegie Museum of Natural History on a rainy afternoon. I got a few tee-shirts and some Polish candy in the Strip but the boys didn’t get anything. They thought they’d find non-Pittsburgh teams represented. Not! Lunch at The Porch in Oakland was surprisingly good for ‘order at the bar and have delivered at the table’ service — a salad with perfectly cooked salmon for me, burger for Tyler and strip steak for Jacob. Someone said it’s owned by the same folks who own my old high school hangout, Eat ’n’ Park. Hmmm.
Most everyone left on Sunday. I drove the long way to Ligonier for a brief respite in Linn Run State Park and a big homemade ice cream cone in town. Then back at the Central cafe next to the hotel, dinner and wine with high school friend Janet.
Now it’s off to Boston again.
Later … at the new new Pittsburgh International Airport (not to be confused with the old new airport or the old airport)
After flying into Pittsburgh first class, I’m flying out in steerage, not only paying for my one checked suitcase but relegated to the last group to board. Ah, the fickleness of airlines.
30 April, Boston Logan Airport
I’m pooped but in all the best possible of ways. The reunion with two of my three freshman year roommates, Karyn and Karen, was amazing. Haven’t seen either of them since graduation in 1967 although Karyn and I have been in touch off and on over the years. Karen seems to be doing pretty well, despite several serious health issues. She’s always had an optimistic outlook, and that has to be helping. The retirement community where she lives is beautiful and populated by a warm and friendly staff and residents. Food was wonderful (unfortunately for my waistline). I had seafood both nights, cooked as perfectly as you’d expected at a Cape Cod restaurant. We yakked and yakked and amazed each other with the minutiae we recalled of life back in Willard Hall. We looked at photos of who we used to be and laughed a lot. I googled our friend Melissa, found her in New Jersey, and we surprised her with a call. Karyn and I both said we’d be back … and I know we will. How do we let people who meant so much to us get away for so long? No more.
|Karyn, Karen and I|
Later, Minneapolis MN
Raining. Delta didn’t lose my suitcase. My wonderful sister picked me up and is happy: The Pittsburgh Penguins won the first round in the hockey playoffs. Despite the last minutedness of the their wins, Barbara did not have a heart attack or stroke. Tomery got her birth certificate and now, we hope, can renew her passport and be off to Mexico next Monday. Ah, procrastination is in the genes of we Kanyr women.
Home at last. My laundry basket overfloweth. So in addition to that, back to water ex and detox tomorrow. Maybe by the weekend, I won’t feel so bloatedly fat.