Friday, February 29, 2008

Big League - Part 3

Those of you that have read any of my past stories know that once I start I don't always stop when I say I'm going to. So here we are again. I commented that I would post the end of this story today, but after letting my fingers do the walking, I've discovered there is more to write than I first thought.

I have learned my lesson, (I think), I will no longer say, "This will wrap-up on the next post." or any other promise of timely conclusion. I will simply continue to write until my thoughts are all out.

Thank you for allowing me to run off at the finger.

Part 3

As they pulled up, Eric’s nose was practically pressed up against the car window.

Looking at him through the rear view mirror his father said, “What do you think?”

“It didn’t look this big on TV,” was his son’s reply.

Getting to the park this early meant they pretty much had free reign on where they wanted to park, so they opted for a space that was near the stadium, but appeared to be in the vicinity of an exit as well. Having been to other large events before, Roger knew this would be a good strategy for after the game, when the thousands of cars were all trying to leave at once.

As they got ready to head inside Gail searched her purse and did the check off list. Tickets, sun-screen, credit card and cash, cell phone, camera. With a quick glance in the mirror attached to the visor she adjusted the ball cap she was wearing and insured that her make-up was acceptable, then announced, “We’re ready!”

Eric wondered why there were small BBQ’s smoking from the back of pick-ups and people milling about them when all the excitement was inside the stadium. His dad proceeded to explain what a tailgate party was and that for some people, that was just part of the experience. He thought it sounded like fun, but still couldn’t understand why these people were eating out here when they could get a hot dog or popcorn inside.

Just then a teenage boy dashed in front of them, chasing down a ball that his friend several yards away had thrown over his head. They heard, “Sorry!” as he whizzed by them.

After a brief stop at the security and ticket checkpoint, they were on their way inside.

“Now stay close, and don’t wander away from us honey,” Eric’s mother instructed him.

“I won’t,” he replied.

It was a visual bonanza to the young boy as they worked their way through the crowd, past the souvenir shops, concession stands and entrances to the field. Each time they would pass one of the openings to the seating area Eric would slow down to get a look and ask his parents, “Is this the one?”

Every time he asked this question though, he would be greeted with a response from his mother or father saying, “Not yet,” or “A couple more to go.”

Finally when he thought they must have walked to another planet, his dad announced, “This is the one.”

Walking in it was like stepping back into time for Roger. They were on the field level looking at the third base dugout several rows in front of them. He immediately flashed back to the days of his youth when his parents had walked him into the ballpark not too many miles south of where this modern day facility now stood.

He had dreamed of this day for quite some time when he too could have the thrill of watching the expression on his son’s face as he walked into his first game. He and Gail glanced down at Eric and could see he had a smile that stretched from one ear to the other.

The only word that Eric uttered said it all, “Whoa!”

They walked about halfway down the tiered seating, finding the appropriate row and then worked their way in a couple of chairs until they found the three that matched the numbers on their tickets.

“These are the one’s,” Roger said.

As soon as they sat down, Gail reached into her purse and grabbed the sunscreen.

“Before we do anything else,” she said, “let’s get some of this on you,” directing the comment towards Eric.

“Mom, do I haffta?” was his less than enthusiastic response.

“Yes!” she replied, “we aren’t going to have a sunburnt boys on our hands.”

After the three of them had lathered up all of their exposed skin, Roger reached into the windbreaker he was carrying and pulled out a brand new baseball he had brought for his son.

Looking at Eric he said, “What do you say we go down to the field and see if we can get a few signatures on this baby?”

He didn’t have to ask twice. By the time the last word of his sentence left his lips, Eric was on his feet and ready to go.

“Mom, are you coming?” he asked.

“No, you boys go ahead. I think I’ll stay put for now.”

The two of them headed toward the infield fence where a small crowd of eager autograph hunters had assembled.

At this point, the Giants were on the field doing their pre-game warm ups. Some were stretching out mussels in front of their dugout on the first base side while others were sprinting across the outfield loosening up their legs. A handful of players were gathered around the home plate area swinging bats while waiting their turn to hit a few balls.

Some of the visiting Colorado Rockies along with a few of the lesser known Giants players were standing in front of the fans signing autographs on baseballs, caps and programs that were being handed to them.

Eric, along with the help of his dad, was able to get six signatures on his baseball before the two teams had finished up their pre-game activities. Neither Roger nor his son recognized any of the names they had collected, but that didn’t matter to Eric. As far as he was concerned they said something to the equivalent of Babe Ruth or A-Rod.

By the time the two of them returned to their seats, the stadium had begun to fill up. Upon his arrival, Eric proudly displayed his new treasure to his mom, trying his best to decipher the scribbled names that were written on it.

“Wow! How many did you get?” his mom asked.

“We got a bunch mom, and one of the guys even shook my hand!”

She was quite sure it would be some time before her little boy would consent to washing that hand.

Gail leaned over, gave her husband a kiss and whispered, “Thank you,” to him.

Roger smiled and whispered back, “I think I had as much fun as he did.”

The grounds crew had replaced the players on the field and were doing the final preparations for the beginning of the game. It was only about ten minutes until the first pitch now.


to be continued

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Big League - Part 2

For the first installment of this story, please see yesterday's post.

Part 2

The three of them piled into the car and got ready for their drive to the city. It would take about two and a half hours provided traffic was clear, and considering it was Saturday morning, they figured there would be plenty of time to get there, find a parking spot and make it in time for batting practice.

“Mom,” Eric said, “Is dad gonna drive over that cool bridge?”

“You mean the Golden Gate?” she replied. “That’s up to your father, and only if we have time.”

“Dad, why do they call it the Golden Gate anyway? It doesn’t look very gold to me.”

Chuckling, his father told him, “It’s not really about the color of the bridge son. Remember, California’s State motto, The Golden State?”

“Oh yeah, so do we get to check it out?”

“We’ll see, maybe after the game”

With that Roger started the car and announced, “Who’s ready to go to a baseball game?”

Both of his passengers announced in unison, “We are!”

As they had expected there weren’t too many cars on highway 70 heading to Sacramento, and even as they travelled along interstate 80 towards Vallejo they managed to make good time. The closer they got to Oakland however the once quick pace they had enjoyed, now became a slow crawl. It had been several years since Gail or Roger had driven on any of the bay area roads and they could hardly believe how much more traffic there seemed to be now.

“How are we doing on time hun?” Gail asked.

Her husband replied, “We should be fine as long as it doesn’t get any worse. I figured we’d hit a little slow down, but even this is surprising.”

Meanwhile, Eric had already started the ‘Are we there yet? and ‘How much longer? statements about fifty miles earlier. The two juice boxes he had drank on the way had now worked their way through his system and his parents got the obligatory ‘I need to go potty’ call from the back seat.

His dad called back to him, “Can you hold it for a little bit? Now is really not the best time.”

“I’ll try!” he heard.

About ten minutes later, but only about three miles further, they passed a small fender bender on the side of the freeway. Once they were on the other side of the accident however, the flow of traffic picked back up and they were once again zipping along.

That was until they heard, “I can’t hold it anymore!”

Gail pointed out an exit ahead and noted that there was a McDonald’s sign she could see to the right. Eric practically jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped and made a b-line for the restroom. A few minutes and a Happy Meal later they were back on the road.

No sooner had they settled back in and they were on the Bay Bridge.

“Is this the Golden Gate?” Eric asked.

“No sweetie,” his mom told him, “this is a different one. This one is called the Bay Bridge.”


During the next few minutes as they travelled high over the San Francisco Bay, Eric pointed out every boat, ship, buoy, and seagull he could see. He craned his neck to see as far out the window and over the railing as he possibly could, as if something more grand was sure to be directly beneath them. He thought it was especially neat that there was an island in the middle of the bridge.

Shortly after reaching the west end of the bridge and making a handful of turns, the three travellers found themselves at the parking lot of AT&T Park, the home of the Giants.


to be continued

Monday, February 25, 2008

Big League - Part 1

Before I get to the story, yes I am still alive and breathing. My wife has dug a large hole in the back yard, but assures me that it's for a tree. Riiiight. I'm sleeping with one eye open for a while. She did get a kick out of all your comments supporting her. (as did I)

With spring just around the corner the following story came to mind. It's mostly fiction with a sprinkling of facts just for fun. Hope you enjoy it.

Part 1

“What are you doing buddy?”

“Is it time to get up dad?” the small voice said.

As his father reached for the alarm clock he said, “I don’t know, what time is it?”

The man’s eyes opened just enough to distinguish what the red glow on the alarm clock showed… 5:30am. “No, not yet Eric, go back to bed son.”

“OK the boy replied, “How much longer dad?”

“One more hour buddy, now get some more sleep.”

He knew there was no possible way his eight-year-old son was going back to sleep, but with a little luck he’d be able to get a few winks himself.

About a half an hour latter he felt the presence of two eyes starring at him from his bedside. Glancing up, he saw Eric standing next to him again. He couldn’t help but smile when he looked at the excited boy in front of him in his PJ’s and baseball glove in hand.

“Having a hard time sleeping?” whispered the father.


“Alright, what do you say we go down stairs and get some breakfast?”

“Yes!” the boy exclaimed.

His father replied, “Shsssh, let’s not wake up mom.”

“Too late.” They heard come from the other side of the bed.

Before another word could be spoken their seventy-five pound ball of energy sprang up onto the bed between them talking a mile a minute.

“How much longer until we leave dad? Mom did you wash my shirt? How long does it take to get there? … He kept up this barrage of questions barely taking time for a breath in between, let alone waiting for an answer.

“Slow down honey, one thing at a time.” His mom said, “Let’s get some breakfast in you, then we can sort out all the other details.”

“OK mom,” Eric said, “Come on dad!”

Their boy was half way down the stairs before either of his parent’s feet had hit the floor.

“Do you think he’s excited?” jested the mother.

The father replied, “Just a tad.”

With that they both broke into laughter.

By the time they made it to the kitchen, their son had already put the cereal and milk on the table and was climbing onto the counter in an effort to reach the bowls in the cabinet above.

“I got one for everyone,” announced Eric.

As he walked to the dining table the boy’s rapid fire of questions continued, “Do you think they’ll hit a ball towards us? Cause if they do I’ve got my mitt and I’ll catch it. Where are we sitting again dad? Do we get to have a hot dog there? …

His dad answered each of his questions for what seemed like the four hundredth time, knowing full well that within the hour he would be answering them all over again. Normally this repeating himself would have gotten a little old, but today was different. Today was his son’s first big league baseball game. He remembered back some thirty years prior when his mom and dad had taken him to his first game.

He could recall the amazement of walking into Candlestick Park and seeing the perfectly cut grass of the outfield and the grounds crew spraying down the dirt around the bases. He remembered all the fans waving the pennants decorated in orange and black. He also recalled sitting just above the third base dugout where the visiting San Diego Padres were and although the baseball that some of the players autographed was long since gone, he could still picture it resting in his favorite glove.

“Honey…Hello…Earth to Roger.” Coming out of his day dream he finally heard from his wife, “Would you like some milk with your cereal?”

With a sheepish grin he replied, “Thank you dear.”

After wolfing down two bowls of cereal, Eric rushed back up the stairs to get his clothes on.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if he had this much enthusiasm on school days?” Roger said.

His wife Gail replied, “Now I know you’re in a dream land! Still, it would be refreshing.”

Like a herd of elephants, Eric came rumbling back down the stairs shouting, “I’m reeeeaaaadyyyy!”
to be continued

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I like mine toasted

Sometimes I wonder, “What am I going to write about today?” Such was the case today when low and behold, the mailman arrived and my quest for subject matter was over.

Now before I get to the story, perhaps I should clarify something. The person who delivers our mail isn’t a man, but rather a woman. So my first thought is that I should call her a female man, but she doesn’t strike me as being butch, so I guess that doesn’t work either. I guess I’ll have to resort to being PC and call her our letter carrier. Of course she doesn’t belong solely to my family so maybe I shouldn’t say she’s “our” letter carrier. Let’s see . . . she’s a woman who drives a US Post Office delivery vehicle and also delivers the mail to various destinations.

But, as Arlo Guthrie said in the famous “Alice’s Restaurant”, “That’s not what I came here to talk to you about." You see, the before mentioned letter delivery human brought my wife a letter that had us both in stitches.

I’ve scanned it and included it on this post for your enjoyment as well. If you have a hard time reading the print on it just click on the image and it should open in a larger format.

The first thing Lisa said was, “What am I receiving this letter from Neptune Cremation Service for?” At forty-two years of age she had a valid point and of course being the warm, soft, compassionate sole that I am, I immediately responded with, “Because your old!”

In case you’re wondering, Yes, I got the look. That piercing glare that only a married woman can truly master. This is something that I’m sure is taught in "being a wife 101."

After digging myself out of that familiar spot it was time to read this beautiful letter.

As you will notice in the upper left hand corner, by filling out the enclosed reply card she could win a pre-paid cremation. As I was fumbling for a pen for her to fill out the form, I noticed the bold print highlighting that the January 2008 winner was listed. This got me to thinking, gee, I wonder if this “prize” has an expiration date to it? (Pun intended) Did this poor guy have to die before February rolled around so he could cash in on his winnings?

I really enjoyed their bullet points under the heading, “Cremation just makes sense because”, but I thought they missed a key one. They could have included * Who doesn’t love a good BBQ?

I do love knowing that cremation is eco friendly too, although I wonder what the poor worms are supposed to eat if everybody’s getting torched.

The next thing I noticed was their motto: Simple, Economical and Dignified . . .

That’s nice, but there are soooo many other possibilities aren’t there? How about:

The other Krispy Crème.
We really cook!
We provide the last luau.
If you think it’s hot in our oven just wait . . .
The diet that really works, watch the pounds melt away!
You bring the tater salad, we’ve got the Q covered.
We provide the ultimate tanning bed.

The last paragraph on page one reads, “With everyone moving around these days, placing a loved one in a “local” cemetery may not be as functional as it used to be.” Is it just me, or does this sound like free agency in a major sporting venue?

On to page two (that has a nice ring to it too, and why are there three spellings for the word to, too, two?) “First you lock in today’s price.” But what if the Feds lower the interest rate by another quarter percent?

The last thing that got me was the small print at the bottom of the letter. It states, “Please accept our apologies if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family.” HELLO . . . Wouldn’t that be the best time to receive this letter? That’s like Pizza Hut putting, “Sorry if this $3.00 off coupon has reached you at dinner time.”

Personally, I don’t care what is done with my body after I’m gone. I’m going to have a brand new one and be rockin’ with the big man upstairs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Take Five

Look out planet...I'm baaaaack! With some much needed rest, a weekend in which the sun was out more than the clouds, and for some strange reason the Sesame Street theme song running through my head I offer you the following:

Today's post is brought to you by the number five:

It's the number of fingers or toes I have on the end of each limb.

It's half of ten.

The name of Speed Racer's car was the Mach 5

It rhymes with many other words: hive, Clive, alive, drive, etc.

A pentagon has five sides.

When followed by o'clock, it signals the end of a working day for many businesses.

When viewed upside down and through a mirror, it looks much like the number two.

When Micheal Jackson was still black, he sang with the Jackson Five.

It's how many cents a nickle is worth.

The fifth planet in our solar system is Jupiter.

There are five oceans in the world.

It's represented by a V in Roman numerals.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Down by the Stream

In an attempt to get the creative juices flowing again I will carry any of you willing to go along with me through a stream of my consciousness.

Some of my worst memories of milk were from kinder garden. Stale graham crackers with one of those micro sized containers of room temperature moo juice that always tasted more like the carton than the contents. Gack! I like milk when it's really, really cold. I want it to be so cold that I have "Popsicle head" after chugging a big glass of it.

If Heath Leger was only mildly popular before, why is he the greatest thing since sliced bread now that he is dead? and before bread was sliced what was the greatest thing?

Mohammad Ali claimed that "I am the greatest" when in fact everybody knows that Colonel Sanders really was. Try going fifteen rounds over a hot pressure cooker with eleven herbs and spices and see how tough you are Mr Cassius Clay.

Two wrongs don't make a right and two rights don't make a wrong, they actually make something that resembles a u-turn and speaking of turns, if you're ever in San Francisco, don't even think about trying to make a left turn.

I can't remember the last time I had home made tamales.

Vanentines Day is here. Does anything say I love you like a tire rotation for her car?

I used to play with friends, now I just play with myself. I've found I'm much better at it. Yes, there's nothing better than a good game of solitare. . . What'd ya think I meant?

Why do we have ketchup and catsup? Is this like Beta and VHS? Does anyone really pronuonce it, "cat-sup"? Personally, I don't want anything on my hamburger that sounds like a feline just yacked up a fur ball.

Football season is officially over and baseball is just around the corner. My oldest brother broke almost every record for pitching at the high school he attended. I wonder, now that it's some thirty years later, how many of those records are still in his name?

On our first date, my wife and I watched the movie "Big". I got a copy of it on DVD for a present today. Everybody say ahhhhaaa.

I'm taking a long weekend, and no, I don't work for the government.

TTFN (ta ta for now)

Monday, February 11, 2008


I'm thinking about creating a new line of greeting cards. I offer the following as some possibilities:

Congratulations on your promotion
Nobody kisses up like you

Happy Fathers Day
The DNA test confirms it

Graduation day is finally here
Time to start repaying your student loans

Happy retirement
We thought you’d never leave

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby
Hope it isn’t as ugly as the last one

Happy Columbus Day
I’ve discovered you suck

Congratulations on your first home
Your mom and I don’t look at it like losing a son
We look at it like gaining a bedroom

Sorry to hear about your erectile dysfunction
Your wife says hi

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I have been bestowed with the lofty award of the C.O.W.

My good friend Matt-Man from Bagwine Ruminations selects a recipient for this prestigious award each week from the many comments he receives at his site. Apparently, my birthday well wish to him on Wednesday really touched a soft spot in his heart. My loving sentiment went something like this:

"Happy Birthday ya old fart. I got you a present, but I don't know how to mail herpes."

I'm considering a career change and going to Hallmark to write greeting cards for them.

If you haven’t been exposed (appropriate word) to Matt’s site before head over and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Disgusted perhaps, but never disappointed.

A word of caution; if you’re looking for a warm fuzzy site that you can curl up to on a cold winters day, this may not be the one for you. If however, you appreciate a person who doesn’t hide behind any type of mask and lets it all hang out for the world to see, then by all means go say hi to him.

Thanks for the C.O.W. my brother from another mother!

**Side note** We had the big race last night and although we didn’t come home with any trophies it was a blast just the same. Anthony’s car made it through the first round, but lost in the finals, and Matthews finished second in the first round. The coolest thing was on the drive home when Matt, without any prompting said, “It didn’t matter if we won dad, it was fun anyway.”

I’m pretty sure some dust must have got into my eyes just then, because they began to tear up at that point.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not Quite Nascar

Racers start your engines!

My boys go to a club at church called AWANA and one of the activities they enjoy the most is the annual pine car derby, with this year’s being held tomorrow night. It always proves to be a great time when fathers, (and mothers too), get to act just like the kids, watching their cars race down the track.

The photos you see here are the creations my boys and I have come up with over the past few years. The last two years I did most of the work on their cars while they instructed me on how they wanted them to look. This year I took a different approach. I really wanted them to have more of the hands on building with me being there to help them as necessary and to make sure fingers didn’t get cut off in the process.

If you’ve never been introduced to building one of these, the basics are as follows: You start with a block of pine that measures approximately 7(l) x 1 ¾(w) x 1 ¾(h) inches. You are also given four plastic wheels and four metal axles. From here you are allowed to make any type of design you want as long as the overall weight doesn’t exceed 5oz.

So equipped with our car kits, a lot of imagination and a good amount of enthusiasm, the boys and I headed to the “body shop” otherwise known as the garage. After they decided on their design it was time to break out the power tools. (Insert a Tim Taylor grunting sound here). Tool number one would be the band saw. They held the block of wood and guided the blade along the lines they had traced while I kept my hands on top of theirs.

Mission accomplished…both cars got cut out and everyone had the same amount of fingers as when the evening began. Next up, the belt and disc sander. I once again helped them safely learn how to use the sander to smooth out the rough cuts from the saw.

Time to paint. They both decided to start with gloss black. I think my youngest would have picked sky-blue pink with purple polka dots if that had been the color his brother picked. Being the youngest of three boys I can totally relate to this. I always wanted to be cool like my big brothers. Well, this signalled the end of evening number one and the most difficult part for them. Waiting for the paint to dry.

Night number two consisted of helping them add racing stripes, apply decals and paint things such as, windows, doors, and lights. We then glued the axels in place and applied a liberal amount of graphite to the wheels so they will (hopefully) zip down the track.

This was definitely one of those proud papa moments when my boys and I could bond while playing in the garage.

Pine car kits, $3.00 each… Spray paint, $5.00…Time spent with my sons, Priceless!

I’ll give you an update after tomorrow night to let you know how the competition went.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Groundhog Meme

I was tagged for this meme by Mary, aka The Teach at Work of the Poet.

List five reasons why you either love or hate the groundhog.

The following are five reasons why I LOVE the groundhog. (or at leat tolerate it)

1) Ground hog rhymes with web blog

2) Considering how accurate my local meterologist is, how far fetched is it to ask a blind rhodent to predict a few weeks of wheather?

3) It's the other white meat.

4) Groundhogs don't ruin my lawn like moles do.

5) Somehow I don't think even Hallmark will be able to guilt us into buying cards and gifts for the sake of a groundhog.

The rules say to tag five people, but when have you ever known me to play by the rules. If you want to jump in on this one go for it. If not, no harm, no foul.

*Side note. My extra long days should wrap up pretty soon so I'll be back to posting on a more regular basis. Thanks for hanging in there and visiting even though I haven't had much to offer up lately.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cattin' Around

My current project is a two story remodel/addition in which a garage, laundry, master bedroom and bathroom are being added, along with expanding the size of some of the existing rooms. My portion of the job is to install the drywall (about 150 sheets) then prime and paint the entire interior and exterior of the house.

It's quite a good sized job and I'm really happy to have a considerable amount of work to do during this typically slower time of year.

All of these long hours makes me wish I could catch a nap in the middle of the day, but that's not likely to happen. Now I dont believe in reincarnation, but if it were possible I'd want to came back as a cat. They are the kings and queens of nap taking.

It must be rough

The two tiger stripe ones are named Kazu (male) and Spaz (female)

The gray one is Bella (female)

They're about five months old now and they have been a continuous source of entertainment for all of us. With four cats, three gold fish and one dog, it's like our own little version of Wild Kingdom around here.

Speaking of which didn't you love watching that show? (if your old enough to remember it) Marlin Perkins would always set up the scene as something like this, "We've sent Jim to the plains of Africa to take a baby lion cub away from its mother in order to bandage its injured paw. Don't worry about Jim folks, he is equipted with a very dull butter-knife for protection and as long as the mother lion doesn't wake up before the mild seditive wears off he is perfectly safe. Lets see . . . she seems to be moving around a little earlier than we expected her to . . . yes she is getting up now and she doesn't look too happy about Jim holding her cub . . . kids, you may want to go into the other room for a minute . . . excuse us while we go to a commercial break brought to by the good folks at Mutual of Omaha."