Greetings from Ft. Lewis, Washington, where I am spending a long holiday with my son, Maj. Joe, and his wife, Christina.

It has now rained for every day I have been here, with one day where it converted into a light snow. There have been floods here in the last month, and I figure there will be more at this rate.

Ft. Lewis is outside of Tacoma, and there are Starbucks Coffee outlets everywhere. Washington is the home of Starbucks, and it shows. My hotel is near a Starbucks driveup. The lines form daily as the coffee keeps coming.

I also discovered that one can get free Starbucks coffee grounds for one’s garden. I will have to check that out when I get home, because I can recall my grandmother using coffee grounds for her garden when I was a child. It made for some great flowers and veggies. And, that was just ordinary A&P coffee grounds. I can just imagine what the more exclusive Starbucks can do for gardening.

I have discovered, too, that auto congestion is not limited to Chicagoland. The expressways here are also backed up. The big difference is that in Chicagoland, one can veer off, find a side street and then zigzag the old-fashioned way home. For instance, I never use I-290 during business hours, preferring to take the old, tried and true Ogden Avenue, just like in the “old days” before expressways, which now belie their name.

“Express” is no longer applicable! Anyway, in Washington state there are no side streets to use as an alternate. You either sit in traffic or stay home.

It is interesting to use the post’s commissary and post exchange, better known as the “PX”. When you buy something, there is no sales tax. One still gets name brands and a great choice of everything, but no sales tax. I, as a civilian, could not shop there, but all military and families can. It is a savings for them.

A lot of military retirees live around Ft. Lewis, and they use these facilities as well, which is a savings for a senior on a fixed income. And, because they are close to the Madigan Military Hospital, they get medical attention. One often sees colonies of retired military near military posts for just this reason.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at the Madigan Hospital, with officers, including my son, serving. If this was hospital food, everyone was living well, because it was every bit as good as what one could make at home … without the fuss, of course. I got a chance to renew and acquaintance with the hospital’s commander, Gen. Sheila Baxter. She made it her business to stop by every table to meet with the families who were there.

It was fun watching my son, Joe (Pepi), serve as this was something he never did at home. He was always backed up, because he had to talk to everyone coming through the line. He has the same bad habit I do when serving food-putting too much on the plate at one time.

We come from a long line of folks who believe food is love, and we don’t believe in empty plates.

After a long political campaign, I was dying to see a movie, any movie. And so we went to see “Happy Feet,” which is very good, as well as “Casino Royale,” the new James Bond thriller with the new James Bond.

A word to the wise, skip the James Bond flick-it is too long and has no story, not to mention that the new James Bond looks like a pinhead with a broken nose and is nowhere near the suave personage that was Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan.

The kids were kind enough to get me caught up on chapters of “Battlestar Galactica,” again something which was sacrificed to campaigning. They tape everything, so we ran a marathon of chapters of the science fiction TV show. I must admit that I am a bit overwhelmed by it all.

When it comes down to it, there is no place like home, even though the place is being taken over by overly large condominiums, especially the one off of Delaplaine Road, with enough Christmas lights to rival the Oakbrook Center.

I can hardly wait for the humongous Henninger edifice to hover over the village upon completion. Hopefully, it will be more manageable than that condo farm which occupies the property in Brookfield (formerly Buresh’s Restaurant).

Home is changing-but it is home, nonetheless. At least the rainfall is more limited.