Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Fright

Twas the night before Halloween, and all through the house...not a creature was stirring, not even a louse.  That's pretty much the way things are for us "empty nesters".  At least I think it is.  I just mentioned to the little lady Kay (yes!!!) that we aren't carving pumpkins this evening.  Her response was..."so!"  Alas, it is true, without a kid in the house Halloween is relegated to buying a bunch of candy bars three weeks before the actual date of the event, and then try our best to eat them all before it gets here.  We haven't been successful yet, but there is still almost 24 hours to accomplish that fete.  We did go to a Halloween party last night...without costumes and we stayed all of 36 minutes.

The big event this weekend is...of course...the celebration of the Lutheran Reformation.  It is remembered each year, on or about the 31st of October, because on October 31st in the year 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany.  Among his points for discussion was "why coffee must be served after every worship service, the need for all songs and hymns to be spontaneously sung in 4 part harmony, and the requirement that no one...and I mean no one...sits in my selected seat on Sunday morning."  (all good Lutheran's understand the sanctity of one's own church pew!)  Along with the Reformation celebration we also commemorated the 102 birthday of one of our church members, Gladys.  Now it's not every day that someone turns 102!  And it wasn't today.  Actually, her birthday took place this past Monday.  Because a 102nd birthday is not a regular occurrence we scheduled a HUGE bash last Sunday, after the worship service.  We alerted the media, and camera crew from the local CBS affiliate took the bait and showed up.  The problem was...the guest of honor didn't.  No one knew where she was.  a little later in the day the mystery was solved.  It turns out that on the previous Thursday afternoon, just after renewing her driver's license for another 5 years, Gladys decided to stop at the car wash to clean up her 1980s vintage K-car.  In the process she took a spill, and got bruised up a good bit.  At 102 you tend to become a little fragile.  She just wasn't feeling up to coming to church last Sunday so she stayed home to rest.  She did make it today so we got to revel with her in her longevity...minus the TV crew.

Here it is, Sunday evening, and another weekend has come and just about gone.  Did I mention that I sat and watched the Wisconsin-Ohio State football game last evening?  Good, because I don't really want to talk about it.  I'll be back out on the tennis court in the morning, and that should give me the opportunity to vent my frustrations.  That should result in several more holes in the back wall of the building that houses the indoor courts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trader Joes

Today was a big day in the life of Spokane, WA, especially up here on the South Hill.  Trader Joe's opened its doors for business today.  Being that we are Trader Joe's aficionados (that's fans for all of you who live in the Rockwood Community) Kay and I decided to go and check out the scene today.  We had planned to go about noon time, after our morning tennis extravaganza (more on that below), but due to an impromptu lunch engagement on Kay's part we didn't go until 2:00pm.  When we go there the parking lot was full.  Every space within 43 and a half miles had a car in it...some had two.  In front of the store was an ambulance and a fire truck.  apparently they didn't have to find a space to legally park in.  As we walked into the store we found out why the emergency vehicles were there.  We almost passed out too!  Seems like everyone who lives east of the Cascade Range had the same idea that we did...let's go to Trader Joe's.  The waiting lines for the checkout lanes were estimated at about 1 hour.  After a quick look see we made a quick exit.

Did I mention our tennis extravaganza this morning?  Well, we had another new participant in the group.  Warren was taking the place of Bill, who apparently thinks that visiting a son in New York is a better use of one's time than playing with the posse.  Now far be it from me to complain, and I am not going to do it here, so I must admit that it was a real pleasure having Warren join our group today.  We had a very intense and competitive session, that was enjoyable to all.  At least I think it was enjoyable...if it wasn't to some of the others then that's tough!

Inspired by a recent viewing of Chopped on the Food Network we had a dinner of chicken fried pork, red-eye gravy, mashed potatoes and peas for dinner this evening.  My bride...the lovely and talented Kay (yes!) concocted a heavenly creation.  The kicker was the cayenne pepper that was added to the breading on the pork and into the gravy.  It was fantastic.  We may be breathing fire all night long, but it was fantastic!

As I wrap things up for the night I want to remind everyone that this Sunday we will be remembering and celebrating the Protestant Reformation.  It's really the Lutheran Reformation, as the rest of the protestant churches just didn't know where to stop.  Come on down to St. John's Lutheran in the Latah Valley on Sunday morning at 9:30am to find out just what all of this reformed stuff is about (John...I'm talking to you...and Mark as well).  If you don't find the worship service to your liking you will certainly like the food that follows.  Kay (yes!) is in charge of that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frozen Solid

This morning, October 25th 2011, we experienced our first official freeze of the season, as the official temperature as measured at the Spokane International Airport bottomed out at 29 degrees.  This is somewhat later than average, which I hope portends a later onset of winter this year.  Heck...that's Lutheran for hell...we're already experiencing a later onset of winter this year as last fall we had snow on October 18th, and again on the 25th!  In any case, winter can wait, at least from my point of view, as we are still waiting for summer to show up this year.

I am compelled to write a bit about my recent tennis experience.  That compulsion is not necessarily my own, but rather more from one of the members of my posse.  It seems that John, who is usually a happy man, is a little unhappy with the frequency with which I am recording the events from the court in this space.  In an effort to ensure the domestic tranquility, or at least the peace of the posse, I will now fill you in on what has been happening tennis-wise in the past week or least as it extends to last Friday.  I have to admit, I am questioning the dedication of the posse.  One of our regular members, the Hammer, has been off to Spain for a couple of weeks, and Bill went winging away to New York.  Where are their priorities?  Where is their sense of duty?  Well enough of them, in their absence John and I have enjoyed the company of Jim and Ken.  Boy, have we enjoyed their company.  last Friday, as our morning romp was drawing to a close, John and I teamed up to take a 5 games to none lead as our time expired.  We picked things up again on Monday morning, and teamed up to begin the day with a 6-0 victory.  That was 11 games won in succession.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Our opponents didn't think so.  From there, I jumped the net to team with Jim, and we quickly moved out to a 4-0 lead...that's 15 games won in a row!  Alas, all good things must come to an end, as the streak halted there.  The next 5 games weren't pretty, as we lost 4 of them, but still prevailed in the set 6-4.  Tomorrow I will be back out there at 11:00am, and will likely go straight into the crapper.

Looking ahead to the weather for the rest of the week it appears as if the snow will continue to hold off indefinitely.  We will be cool and mostly dry, and the overnight temperature will be dipping down to around or slightly below freezing.  That's okay as long as the days warm up to 50 or so.  Most of the people I know are all wanting to talk about the winter ahead, and the predictions that it's going to be cold and snowy again this year.  That's the idea, based upon another year of La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.  My thought is that we'll know when it gets here.  Nobody around this area can accurately predict what is going to happen in the next 4 days, let alone the next 4 months!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Falling Leaves

I have been waiting for this day...for about 10 years.  The maple trees in the backyard are finally mature enough to bring bright color, and the weather is finally sunny enough to show off the color.  In previous years it has either been too windy, too gloomy or too snowy to bring on this bonanza of beauty in the backyard.  Actually, the weather yesterday was just as good, but my availability to take pictures was severely limited.  The weekend began with me out in the garden picking all of the tomatoes that we had out on the vine.  We are still to see our first freeze up here on the hill in Spokane, and it looks like that might still be at least a week away, but with the shorter and cooler days, due to the lowering sun angle, there wasn't a whole lot of natural ripening going on.  We now have an array of multicolored tomatoes...from green to yellow to orange and dull red...spread across our dining area (it's not really a room, rather part of the overall kitchen experience) table.  That's okay since as empty nesters we tend to dine from folding trays in front of the TV.

I should probably weigh in on my recent tennis experiences.  Weighing in is probably not the term that I should use, as actually weighing myself would be a very embarrassing experience.  I have spent WAY too much time sitting with a folding tray before me in front of the TV.  At any rate, I have been playing a lot of tennis lately, and at times even fairly well.  I am now part of a mixed doubles league that plays on Friday evenings.  We compete against other clubs from around town.  Our first match was a little over a week ago, Friday the 7th.  My partner, Terri, and I competed valiantly, but to now avail.  We lost the first set in a tie break, won the second set 6-4, and then lost in the determining tie breaker 10-2 (ouch).  This past Friday, two days ago, I was set to play with Terri again, but she called our team captain at 1:00pm to report that she was in Seattle.  You would have to hit the ball pretty well to get it over the net from there.  There was the possibility that I might be teamed with another partner...Tracy...if she could get out of her previous commitment for the evening.  She could not, and I found out 15 minutes before play began.  What were we to do?  Only one thing made sense, draft Kay (the missus) to play.  Now since she is not on the team roster our match would not count toward the team score, but at least we could all play.  Kay wasn't so sure about the whole thing, but like a trooper took the court.  We actually won the first game!  I thought...great, we can't get skunked.  We then proceeded to lose the set 6-1.  Undaunted, we continued on, with low expectations.  In the second set we also won the first game, and then the second.  We managed to maintain a slight lead to the point of being ahead 5-4.  It was my our fate was in my hands.  I held serve and we won the set 6-4!  That took us to a tie breaker to determine the overall winner of the match.  Kay and I jumped out to a lead, and stretched it to 6-2.  From there we must have been awakened from our dreamland.  We ended up losing the tie breaker, and the match, 10-8.  But hey, we did a lot better than we thought we would!

Well, what about my morning tennis posse...Monday, Wednesday and Friday...or should I say my version of "Grumpy Old Men".  We still get out there on a regular basis, and "enjoy" each others company.  My good friend John has taken to bringing guests to our matches, exotic birds from far away places.  Last week he brought a Kiwi, or at least he said it was a Kiwi.  It looked more like a wooden seagull, but to humor him we all agreed that it was indeed a Kiwi.  The strangest thing was that it always seemed like it was during the toss for my serve you could hear the bird faintly cry...""  John is now threatening to bring an Emu to one of our sessions, but he will need to get a sun roof installed in his 1916 Volvo first.

Other than that, life is fairly quiet around the Albrecht house.  The place across the street...Brady's old for sale, AGAIN.  If you would like to spice up your existence, and experience life on the front porch, just go ahead and make an offer.  The price is just about right.