All posts by Clay

Friday night fireworks

It is Saturday morning, and I am in Cincinnati, Ohio. I started to write a post last night, gave up, and went to sleep. I picked up this morning and the post morphed and changed. Writing takes time, especially, good thoughtful writing, it takes time and so does driving. Today I am driving to Cleveland and my seventh and final baseball game for this trip. I decided to shelve the post I was working on and drive to Cleveland. I’ll finish that post later.

the view down the left field line – Great American Ball Park Cincinnati, Ohio

Last night I watched the Atlanta Braves defeat the Cincinnati Reds 9 to 1 at Great American Ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River. It was a close game, 2 – 1, until the seventh inning when the Braves’ line up opened up with their ‘fireworks’ and scored three runs and an inning later scored three more. The Braves added another run in the ninth. The only fireworks the Reds had to offer where the Friday night fireworks after the game.

I enjoyed the game, but it would have been more fun to watch had the contest been closer.

Their fans have a good time and I’ll have to come back the next time the Astros play the Reds in Cincinnati. I have a 249 mile drive ahead of me, Maps predicts it will take 3 hours and 37 minutes and if there is anything I’ve learned on this trip, it will be longer. So I’d better jump, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, always learning.

What is something you’ve learned from experience on a trip or vacation?

Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Last night, I was in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Brewers. It was the BEST venue yet. Hands down.

I am not sure why, but everything clicked last night from getting to the ballpark to getting back to my hotel room and everything in between. Including an eraser on the pencil provided with the scorecard.

and the peanuts were good, too.

My dad loved baseball. He had two favorite teams; I believe. He loved the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think. I’ll have to go with what I think because I don’t have anyone to ask, anymore. Continue reading Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Wednesday and Philly

Wednesday night’s game four of my baseball trip concluded with a pop up out to center field. Twenty- seven outs. It was a good game; the Atlanta Braves bested the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yesterday I arrived in Philadelphia, site of game four but also the site where this great American experiment came to a head some 246 years ago.

the room where it happened, Independence Hall

Less than a mile from where I sit, the founding fathers discussed, debated, and argued about next steps in 1776. The eventually came up with a statement, a written declaration, of complaints and desires. The Declaration of Independence was intended for King George III, who never read it. But it didn’t matter the world was in motion, as it still is today. Evolving, changing, succeeding, failing.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I wonder what the founding fathers would think of where we are as a nation of people today. Continue reading Wednesday and Philly

Tuesday at the Mets

Tuesday found me back in New York City for the third game of my seven game baseball trip.

I didn’t plan my drive from DC to NYC very well and I arrived at the peak of rush hour. I was able to make the game on time and I was in my seat with food, beverage, and a scorecard for the first pitch.

 

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A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount)

The Astros began with a walk to Jose Altuve, their lead off hitter and lightning rod for boos in New York City and most baseball stadiums. The next batter, Jeremy Pena, hit into what should have been a double play, but he beat it out on a manager’s review. It was all downhill for the Mets after that. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate, got four hits and four runs in the first inning. They never looked back.

I enjoyed my dinner, Buffalo wings with blue cheese (needed more blue cheese) and a celery stick, kept score and watched the game. Continue reading Tuesday at the Mets

Baseball traditions – Tuesday’s Tune

I began thinking about my baseball trip a couple of months ago in April. Then life set in, as it always does, and I put it off.

When school ended in early June all I had was a dream, but no plans. I had empty dates on the calendar and a dream of visiting all thirty of the baseball cities in my lifetime.

The idea of a summer trip was born with the idea of flying to New York City to see my favorite team, the Houston Astros play in New York City. When I discovered that the schedule had the Astros playing the other New York team, the Mets two days later I decided to make it more than one game, or two, but more. By the time I had finished planning I had seven cities, seven days, seven stadiums, and a total of ten MLB teams.

The venues are Yankee Stadium (NYC), Nationals Park (DC), Citi Field (NYC), Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia), PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati), and Progressive Field (Cleveland).

My first step was deciding to fly one way to New York City, rent a car, and drive the remainder of the schedule. Then I booked the flight and then the car and I was on my way.  I could find and sketched out an itinerary, Sunday to Sunday.

Queensboro Bridge over the East River connecting Queens to Manhattan. Construction began in 1900 and the bridge opened in 1909.

Hotels and game tickets were next, it was early enough in the season that there are plenty of game tickets available for purchase. After tickets, places to stay, then places I wanted to visit along the way, because in life there is more than just baseball.

Along the way, I decided to visit at least one place in each city and write a long my way.

My first contact was an old friend who I used to work with in the restaurant business before I became a teacher. He and his wife live in the DC area. I texted him after tickets and hotels and yesterday we met for lunch. When he pulled picked me up, we started up right where we had left off some twenty plus years ago when worked with each other.

My second contact was a friend in Ohio for the Reds game in Cincinnati. He and his wife joined us this spring in Florida, and we shared a car when our flights home were cancelled.

Then there were the sights along the way. Each city has something I want to see along the way.

But it was the baseball that was most important.

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” – Yogi Berra

New York City
My first stop was historic Yankee Stadium. Last week I saw that a friend of mine and his wife were in New York for a vacation, he and I teach together at the same school. So, we met at Gate 4 on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon for Houston Astros vs. the New York Yankees. Neither of us had seen baseball in Yankee Stadium.

I was a small speck of orange in a see of white pinstripe Yankee fans..

Yankee Stadium is only historic because it’s home the New York Yankees the most successful franchise in MLB, the stadium opened in 2009 and is modelled after the original stadium that was the team’s home from 1923 to 2008. Continue reading Baseball traditions – Tuesday’s Tune

W^2 – planets

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Last night I set my alarm so I could go outside to see the five visible planets.

This morning the alarm went off, I thought about ignoring it, but I got up. I pulled a sweatshirt over my head and put on a pair of shorts and walked outside.

I had the lake to myself. The sun was beginning to rise, and the sky was clear, with the waning crescent moon highlighting the lake’s gentle waves. I could clearly see three of the planets; Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn and while Venus had risen, I couldn’t see it because of the tree line. Mercury was still below the horizon. I decided four three planets and the moon were enough.

Before long the sun rose, and the day began. It is going to be a great day and tomorrow could possibly be a million and six times better. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count one day at a time, stopping to take in the world for moment.

When was the last time you got up early to see the morning sky?

Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

It has been quite a long time since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. It isn’t that I haven’t been inspired by music because I have, but it’s been a time issue especially during the school year.  It’s the third week of summer break and while I have more time to write, I also have the time for all those things I said I’d do when school was finished for the year, and now I have that time.

It’s Day 18 of summer break, the first real day of summer and I have been slowly carving away, and adding to, my TO DO list.

Our son was married the Saturday before Memorial Day and it was a weekend of family and friend time. It had been a while since I had been to a wedding, and we had a wonderful time celebrating our son and our new daughter-in-law as well her entire family.

School ended three weeks ago Wednesday and I finished the following day. It has been an interesting two and a quarter years since that last Tuesday’s Tune post – Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s Not Lost.

The Friday’s weather, the first day of summer break, was sunny, warm, and perfect for watching the birds at the feeders in the backyard. I have placed the feeders so we can see them from the kitchen and sometimes I stop to watch the activity at the feeders. That first Friday afternoon, I looked out to watch for birds and I discovered an unusual bird latched to the tree bark. I stared and realized that it appeared it wasn’t a native bird. I was busy and when I came back later, it had flown off, and didn’t think anything about it the rest of the night.

The next morning, I was putting the trash out when I saw a bird walking in the street, it was the same bird I had seen the day before in our backyard. I bent down to pick up the bird and he climbed on to my finger and I picked him up. I guessed the bird was a pet and it had a purple (mauve) band on its left leg. A neighbor who had been walking his dog stopped to help and neither he nor I knew anyone in our neighborhood who had a pet bird. I placed the bird on a tree branch and took a photo so I could post a “have you lost your bird” post to our neighborhood’s Facebook page. I then headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my regular Saturday morning volunteer shift.

I couldn’t get the bird off my mind, I knew it was some family’s pet, and I felt guilt for not doing more to reunite the bird and its family. So, I turned around when I was almost halfway to Loaves and Fishes so I could retrieve the bird and put him (I was assuming it was a ‘him’) in Fern’s crate until after my shift. Fortunately, Fern and Ivy were (and still are) up north at the lake with my wife and daughter – which is a good thing, because if Fern had been in her yard, the bird wouldn’t have fared well. The bird was where I had left it and it got on my finger right away. I took it inside and placed the it in Fern’s crate, gave it some water, and birdseed, created the “have you lost your bird?” post, and headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my shift.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

moving purposefully

Yesterday morning, I went for a hike at a new location, St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois. It’s less than five miles from my house, about a ten-minute drive, and I had been there a couple of times, but I had never hiked. The parking lot was largely wide open when I arrived. Wednesday was s hot and humid, unseasonably warm HOT for mid-June which explained the parking lot.

the sun and a solid oak at St. James Farm Forest Preserve

St. James Farm and the adjacent Cantigny Park could be called an American “Downton Abbey.” Continue reading moving purposefully

W^2 – me

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 15, 2022

This is me and this week’s W^2 post.

me, and the lake on a beautiful late spring morning. Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 13, 2022 8:27 AM

I snapped this photo Monday morning before I left the lake for a week at home.

It was a cool late spring morning, yes, it is still spring for another few days, and the temperature was in the mid-50s and sunny. I always enjoy my time by the lake, it’s restful, relaxing, and it puts a smile on my face, even when I have say goodbye.

By the time I had reached home it was in low 90s and thick clouds hung in the air. Severe storms passed through the area in the late afternoon and early evening, but I didn’t feel a drop of rain, but I could feel the energy in the air.

A heat wave is rolling through the Midwest and bringing excessive heat warnings and the possibility of severe weather this evening. I am going to lay low and keep my head down, a smile on my face, and dedicate time to those things I can do.

Today is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, a smile on face, a song in my heart, and skip in my step.

What is going to make you smile today?

what I am planning for summer break 2022

It’s summer, day 9 to be precise. I am a counter. I count the days and I try to make the time count, too. Sometimes I do, sometimes I come up short, but I am reminded that

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…. Ecclesiastes 3:1

It reminds me to do better and to be present.

I am at the lake for a short trip, and I am headed home early Monday morning to do some of the things I said I’d do when summer came and so far, it’s a work in progress. This morning I awoke to a silent lake and fog lifting off the surface and hanging over the lake. It happens when warmer water interacts with cooler air – it’s science in action and I love how it looks in the early morning light.

morning fog, Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 11, 2022 at 6:29 EDT

I re-read last year’s summer post Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning and I did well in 2021. I wrote when I could, and I enjoyed the backyard birds and even branched out to birding by the lake. I re-centered myself last summer and I think last school year was my best year as an educator, yet there is still room for growth, there always is.

Today’s post will be the first post of my 13th year of blogging. Oh, how far I have come and yet I have never left where I began. Continue reading what I am planning for summer break 2022