New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, August 20, 2018

The one constant through all the years

Monday morning, folks.  Hope you had a great weekend and that you're planning to make it a good week.

We had kind of an interesting weekend.  A soccer game featuring granddaughter #2 was to have been played in a nearby community Saturday afternoon, so we planned around that.  Weather threatened and the game was postponed, so that left us with some time open, so I used some of the afternoon to do a rescue cleaning of the interior of my wife's car.

It should be noted that 95 percent of the time I'm alone in my travels, so my car gets more dusty than anything, except in and around the driver's seat.  However, my wife's car is the the transport for our three local grandchildren, so the in-and-out and snack and drinks and so forth present some different challenges.

What prompted this cleaning episode was that my wife admitted that her non-car-cup-holder-fitting Yeti spilled one day recently, dumping tea through the front passenger seat onto, well, the rear floor.  Luckily, we have the rubberized floor mats, so that caught most of it, but some made it to the carpet beneath.  Anyway, spent a good ninety minutes cleaning the floors (peroxide is wonderful on carpet stains, in case you hadn't heard that particular tip), seats doors and windows.  And it was oppressively humid when I did all of this, so you can just imagine how wonderful I felt after that!

But today's title is owed to yesterday's activities.  My son put his son into a Cincinnati Reds-operated baseball camp during the summer and part of the package is that the Reds gave participating families four upper-level tickets to one of two Reds home games.  And their game was yesterday, so my son invited me to accompany him and his "big kids," as we've taken to calling the older two, to Cincinnati to see our beloved Reds take on the San Francisco Giants.

We traveled uneventfully to Cincinnati yesterday, I had placed two iPads in the back seat for the kids (a nearly nine-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, if I have not mentioned recently) for the ride north and they both enjoyed some video game fun.  We eventually decided to park on the Ohio side of the river, and found parking in the lot between the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds.  This gave us a nice straight walk through some parking garages to the ballpark, and we emerged on the plaza level next to the statue of the great Johnny Bench.  My family placed a commemoration brick on the plaza when they built this part of the park a few years ago, so the kids always enjoy "finding Poppy's brick," which we did.

Traveled upstairs to our seats, well down the first base line and only a few rows from the top of the upper deck (row R, if I remember).  Good climb on a hot day!  My granddaughter was sitting closest to me and I kept making jokes about seeing planes below us and that the birds were afraid to fly that high, but it didn't matter.  There is something utterly special about taking in a game with my son, to whom I taught the game when I became his mother's husband, and his children.

To me, this is the magic of baseball.  It can be such a simple game, but it can also so be so layered and complex.  My son continued working with his daughter to teach her to keep score, something I've done a few times but now find that I don't have the proper attention span to do well.  He's apparently been doing this for a while, and to watch them talking through the play that just happened and how to record it properly is something to see.

Part of my grandson's Reds camp experience was a field trip to Cincinnati to the same park, where they got to see the locker rooms and other parts of the stadium complex, and it culminated with each camper meeting a player one-on-one.  Our grandson's player was outfielder Phillip Ervin, and he played in yesterday's game, and produced a couple of hits and scored two or three times, I believe.  So that connected the dots between Reds' camp, the field trip and yesterday's game.

And I always so enjoy taking in a game with my son.  His understanding of the game is solid, and I feel somewhat responsible for that.  We discussed how the Giants' pitcher was hanging so many pitches in the strike zone during the Reds' offensive explosion in the 4th inning, that the Giants couldn't get that poor pitcher out of the game fast enough to limit the damage, I helped him clarify how he and my granddaughter should score certain plays where there was an errant throw or some other odd element.

But I know how times have changed, because he studied for one of his night law school classes on the way to and from the game.

It was a truly great day of family fun.  My wife got to spend the afternoon with our youngest grandchild, bringing her to our house so that our daughter-in-law could get a few things done while she had an empty house.  I was a little envious of that, but I think I got the better end of the deal.

Today's title?  From "Field of Dreams:"  "The one constant through all the years has been baseball.  America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.  It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.  But baseball has marked the times."  It has, you know.

By the way, I nearly decided to relocate the site that hosts this blog after learning of a couple of features that appeared not to be working, but I think I have that ironed out now.  I welcome your comments on formatting and appearance, as well as comments.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

In quotes

It’s Thursday and I’m ready for the weekend.  Are you?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed the well-timed or well-worded quote, whether from a famous person or otherwise.  Some end up become clichés of the speaker/writer’s original intent, others continue on as is.

Indulge me as I enumerate some of my all-time favorites, and I will do my utmost to attribute them to the proper source:

“Baseball is ninety percent mental.  The other HALF is physical.”
                        --Yogi Berra

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
                        --Winston Churchill

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
                        --Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
                        --Will Rogers

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.”
                        --Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives.”
                        --Jackie Robinson

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”
                        --Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

“I don’t always get shot in the middle of a speech, but when I do, I finish the damn speech.”
                        --Theodore Roosevelt

“Never allow the fear of striking out from keeping you from playing the game.”
                        --Babe Ruth

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
                        --John F. Kennedy

“Try not!  Do, or do not!  There is no try!”

“If you build it, he will come.”
                        --The Voice, “Field of Dreams”

What are some of your favorites?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Roaring in the background

It's Monday afternoon, friends, so that's one day almost done, four to go until the next weekend rolls around!

As most regular visitors to this space know, I'm a big sports fan.  Baseball, college (but not professional) basketball, football and, yes, professional golf all attract my attention.

I have to confess, despite friends who are definitely not on board, that I enjoy watching Tiger Woods play golf.  And let me qualify that.  I enjoy watching a HEALTHY Tiger Woods ply his craft on the golf course.

It's been really difficult for the last several years watching him endure one surgery after another (seven was the number I heard yesterday) over the years.  There are lots of lists out there, but I believe the worst of this started after his astounding U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines in 2008, when he limped through a playoff round with Rocco Mediate and then had reconstructive surgery on a knee about a week later.  He's since had at least four procedures designed to deal with chronic back issues, the most recent a fusion of vertebrae in his lumbar region.

But he's played a pretty full schedule of tournaments this year, appeared in all four major championships and was simply too far behind in yesterday's final round of the PGA Championship to catch eventual winner Brooks Koepka (who has won the U.S. Open the last two seasons).

I'll acknowledge that the media fascination with Woods has seldom waned during his periods of inactivity and recovery, and his personal conduct has been the subject of widespread reporting during all of this as well.

But I must say it was fun to watch him brush away the years and play some remarkable golf shots.  I say "shots" because, as I've experienced recently, Tiger couldn't find most of the fairways at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis with both hands and a flashlight yesterday.  But he shot 64 when it counted and damned if he didn't finish in second place.

In case you weren't aware, worth noting that the man needed help getting out of bed this time last year.  Literally.  All of his comments in the media sounded very much like a man who was struggling to accept that he might never play golf again.  Any golf, let alone world-class competitive professional golf.  He said over and over again that he just wanted to be able to live his life without pain and to play with his kids.

But little by little since that last procedure, he's rediscovered his skill, albeit wrapped in a somewhat less compliant physique, but watching him hit one stellar iron shot after another (I'm no expert, but I agree with some of the experts who've said that Tiger is one of the best iron players in the history of professional golf) and making clutch putts a large percentage of the time yesterday was thrilling indeed.

My wife has said that she doesn't really get too excited about watching golf with me, unless it's a big event.  She likes some of the young guns, like Jordan Spieth (ditto) and Kentucky's own Justin Thomas (also ditto), but Tiger's the guy who still commands her attention enough to get her to watch.

She did yesterday.

Next are the four events of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and then the Ryder Cup.  Hope we get to see more of this version of Mr. Woods.  It sure is fun when we do.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Same old same old

It's Monday, friends.  Again.  Seems we do this regularly, don't we?

Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend, as I did.  Despite the fact that I played golf.

If you detect a note of sarcasm therein, you're right.  At an earlier point in my adult life, I was HEAVILY into playing golf as often as possible.  I had a job that required me to travel by car regularly, sometimes overnight, and I consistently had my clubs and shoes with me, ready to play on short notice.  I managed to play twice a week on average in those days, and the quality of my golf game was pretty evident in my scores.

That was in the early 2000's, so that would make me fifteen or more years younger.

Fast forward to the present and I played Saturday for only the fourth time in this calendar year.  And played very, very inconsistently.  I wouldn't say I played poorly (although my Saturday playing partners expressed sympathy on that basis) but I did not play as well as I am often capable.  It's as though I've regressed to where I was before all of that frequent play.

So what happened?

Well, it's my opinion that golf is an activity that you can enjoy at any age, but you can enjoy it more when you're able to play with a certain level of proficiency.  I have a friend (more a friend of a friend, but that's a technicality) who plays about as frequently as I do now, and he is always upset that he doesn't hit sand shots as well as the pros he watches on television.  We always tell him that if he played as frequently as those guys do, well, he'd be better at it.

I'm in that mode right now.  Even though I played on back-to-back Saturdays for the first time in some months, I'm not playing regularly enough to develop the good habits and technique necessary to  perform better.  I've avoided making statements about how I've forgotten how to play, but it's a little like that, actually.

I even resorted to a little online research about technique with some of my more glaring issues, and that was not helpful, as I watched several YouTube videos offering tips and demonstrations of how-to and so forth and they were all so contradictory that I immediately remembered why I pass on all forms of golf instruction, whether from my friends or others.  Way too confusing at my level.

I have a couple of ideas on how to mitigate the damage that some of my worst issues are doing to my scorecard, so hoping I'll score better the next time out.  And there will be a next time, but I'm not sure when.

The circle will keep on turning, of course.  And since I try not to take it too seriously, I'm not a pain to play with when things aren't going well, at least!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Rolled into one

Good Monday morning, friends.  We're experiencing some temperate weather here in central Kentucky lately, which is more than I can say for my friends out west, where wildfires are raging in numerous locations.  If you're near any of those spots, please be safe!

Several different things to note this morning, so forgive me if I jump a little too rapidly from topic to topic.

First, my wife and I went to a movie yesterday, which we now do about twice a year.  Went to see the latest "Mission: Impossible" picture, starring the never-aging Tom Cruise.  As an aside, whomever is doing Tom's aesthetic work is doing a great job!

Anyway, without going into any detail, this was a great action/adventure film, full of nice plot twists and great action sequences.  The advance media articles noted in great detail what lengths Cruise will go to for realism, as he's built that expectation among his fans, and I have to say, what appears in these movies is among the best of this genre.  The remaining cast members, whether holdovers from previous installments or new entrants like Henry Cavill (you know, Superman!), all contribute nicely, but it's definitely Tom's show and, well, it shows.

Saw previews for a number of forgettable action flicks beforehand, which is what you'd expect before a feature of this type.

We went to the nearby Movie Tavern, which has comfy seats that you can reserve in advance and a full menu, although we usually pick up some candy to take with us and buy drinks and popcorn.  Theater was somewhat crowded and there was a youngish couple to my left, but other than the low whispering that they constantly did throughout the movie, everyone seemed to behave.  Our best move was to obtain seats in the middle of a row, so that people weren't continually passing by.

Saturday I played golf with a friend for the first time in quite a while.  Beautiful day, but this was only the third time I'd hit the links this year, so my game is, well, rusty.

Anyway, I hit a ball from one side of what I thought was a dry stream bed to the other, and asked my friend if he thought I could cross safely.  We agreed I probably could and I stepped forward, but before I realized, I was both-ankles-deep in the soft black mud just below the grass!  Yuck!

As any good golfer would, I soldiered on, as this wasn't a lot different than getting caught in the rain, once I wiped the majority of the muck from my shoes.  Unfortunately, when I returned home later that day and discarded the socks and shoelaces, I noticed that the mud/water blend had soaked the tongues of the shoes all the way through.  So decided these would need to be replaced, since they'd probably never come clean.

That hole yielded a terrible score, as one would expect, but I played a steady round after that, so that was a good improvement.

My wife and I went out for some really good Mexican food that evening, and afterward found ourselves at a local sporting goods store.  I (well, actually my wife) found some inexpensive spikeless golf shoes to replace those I had soiled and bought new towels to replace my ten-year-old ones, one of which was hopelessly stained by the afore-mentioned mud.

I can't recall if I've mentioned, but we came to a decision recently and have elected to reclaim our dining room for the stated purpose, which means my office will be moving to another part of the house.  We have a three bedroom house, and there's only two of us, but for some reason had arranged both of the extra bedrooms as just that, bedrooms.  So I'll be stealing space in one of those rooms for a smaller desk and adjacent drawer unit (which I just assembled last night!), since I have a file cabinet in the garage.  Have to sell my large wooden office furniture to complete this process, since it won't fit anywhere else (and would not go up the stairs without removing a window, I don't think!).  Stay tuned on that.

On the evening of my birthday two Fridays ago we had severe storms move through our area, and we were actually without power for a couple of hours.  Our son and his family didn't have electricity for twelve hours, and I heard that in a neighboring county that numerous people went several days before service was restored.

I mention this because as I was writing this I was interrupted by a very momentary outage, which will cause more inconvenience in resetting clocks than anything.

I suppose after this big weekend I need to take it easy, but it's back to work today for me, and probably for you as well.  Hope you have a good day and a good week.

Friday, July 20, 2018


Happy birthday to me....

Today is my 58th birthday, friends!  I don't feel all that different, of course.  Turns out that I share this birthday with Alexander the Great, the actress Diana Rigg, former Minnesota Twins great Tony Oliva, singer Kim Carnes, guitarist Carlos Santana, television personality Erica Hill, and supermodel (and wife of quarterback Tom Brady) Gisele Bundchen, among many others.

I think that this is all that we have in common, although I do know how to play the guitar a little bit....

Was chatting with a friend yesterday via text message (that's how we do it these days, you know) and in speaking of today's birthday I referenced an old Jimmy Buffett song title:  "Growing Older but Not Up."  Seems to fit my current mindset!  I'm not rebelling against my current age but also not giving in to it, either.

Think about this:  I've got a wonderful wife, two great kids (who are also married to terrific people) and five beautiful grandchildren. Why rebel?

Later there will likely be time spent with family, but today's a workday, so have to go out and do my duty.  In the rain, no less.  But as a man my age should, I accept the rain as necessary to keep my yard and plants in working condition.

As I mention to folks occasionally, I don't like very much music that has been recorded by anyone younger than I am.  That means that most all of my favorites are real relics, relatively speaking.  Doesn't bother me, as long as their music is still available to me.

So I'll be rolling down the highway later this morning, listening to the Beatles or some other ancient music and trying to make sense of it all.  Hope your day is a good one, too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

At home and abroad

Good Tuesday morning to all.

Allow me a couple of comments about the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki, Finland yesterday.

We're in a dark and rather dangerous place now, and my feelings echo virtually all of the analysis and coverage that I've read over the past eighteen hours.  What President Trump did in siding with President Putin and against the entirety of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities is unprecedented and I am honestly unsure what can be done about it.

Officials in the Trump Administration can resign and make some noise on their way out of their positions, but that won't really change anything.  And our Republican-controlled Congress has done what it always does....make some statements about how bad all of this is, but it never leads anywhere.

For my part, those average citizens who are not happy with our current course have one clear alternative--vote.  No, we're not voting in a presidential election, but the entirety of the House of Representatives is up for reelection in November, as are many Senators, Governors and Mayors.  If you don't like how our governments are handling things, you have the ability to influence changing those governments.  And not only should but MUST exercise that right.

And it's easy to forget that the events in the Trump European trip that preceded the meetings in Helsinki were equally unsettling.  The President essentially demanded that NATO members "pay into" NATO in greater amounts than before, when it's well documented that he doesn't have a clear understanding of NATO funding.  In the end, though, he claimed that all was well, NATO was strong and it was all because of him.

Likewise his side trip to the London area to meet with British PM Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II.  He gave an interview to the Sun newspaper damning May's handling of Brexit, claiming he told her what to do (he apparently advised her to sue the European Union) but she didn't listen, that outgoing Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would make a great Prime Minister and on and on and on.

Then he committed numerous faux pas in meeting with the Queen, some forgivable, some less so.  He kept her waiting for nearly fifteen minutes, then walked awkwardly with her to review some of the Palace Guard that stood at attention for the occasion.  It was reported that Trump and his wife Melania spent less than an hour with the Queen.

The ugly American abroad, one could say.