I began writing this post two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and didn’t finish in the time I had. I started writing after the Reds game Friday night and worked on polishing it in the coffee shop Saturday morning. But I couldn’t quite find the right words or flow. It was the last full day of my epic baseball trip and I wanted to make it on time to Cleveland, so I stopped and crafted a different post.
Of all the cities and stadiums, I visited on my trip, Pittsburgh was my favorite. I felt connected from the moment I arrived, I felt welcome, I felt home.
Before I left Pittsburgh, I visited my paternal grandparents. They are buried in a beautiful cemetery to the south of the city center. I had intended to visit them before the game, but I was late leaving Philadelphia. The cemetery where they lay at rest, in eternal peace, was in the general direction I was traveling. So, it was a win-win. I could visit them and get closer to Friday’s destination, Cincinnati.
My grandfather died in 1971 at the age of fifty-two. I was nine years old and remember the summer evening we learned of his death. He died peacefully on July 17, 1971.
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.
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→
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 5, 2022
I spent the entire week, last week, in northern Mississippi with my brother and his wife sorting through my stepmother’s home and her belongings. It was a tough week.
I drove south over the Cairo Bridge on Sunday, the day after Christmas, and returned New Year’s Eve. Its over 600 miles to her home. The Cairo Bridge marks 382 of those miles from my home in northern Illinois. The trip took through me five states – Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I crossed the mighty Mississippi River four times on my trip, and I had a lot to think about on the way south and even more on the return.
The river keeps moving and I suppose that is good advice.
Today is gonna be an awesome 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, crossing bridges all the time.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 8, 2021
It’s been almost two years since my stepmother has lived in her home in Oxford, Mississippi and we are (finally) beginning the process of emptying the home, saving the special things, discarding those things that aren’t and finding new homes for many of the things we can’t keep. It’s a process and there’s a lot to go through, but we are making headway.
She and my dad lived in Reading, England for several years in the late 70s and early 80s. I remember visiting several times and spending Christmas and New Year of 1978 with them. There are lots of memories in this cup.
Like so many things in life, there more to this story. A connection from the late 70s to the present day and possibly well into the future. It’s gonna be a great day, but first I must press publish and get to school. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, digging up the past and illuminating the present.
What is something that you pulled out that brought back a strong memory? Please share.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Saturday morning, we loaded our car and took off to take our youngest daughter off to college. It was a hot day and we got everything into her un-air-conditioned dorm room. We helped her unpack and put things away and then drove home. The drive home seemed so much longer than the drive there. Same distance, different circumstances, lighter load and for the first time in twenty-three and half years we are on our own again. Life begins anew. I remember my first week or so away from home and off to college, but I never thought how hard it was on my mom. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, beginning a new journey all over again.
Every time I roast a chicken, I think of my mom. Every time single time.
Friday night, I cooked dinner. Roasted chicken with rosemary and thyme, green beans, and a salad. It was just me, and Fern.
We are at the lake for the weekend, and it was just the two of us. I cut open the package and pulled the chicken out of the plastic wrapping, placing it in the sink and removing the neck and the giblets from inside the bird. I rinsed the bird and carefully patted it dry. My mom taught me that a crispy skin is because it’s skin is dry and light coated with olive oil. I placed the neck and giblets in a small saucepan, covered them with water, and placed them on the stove. Exactly like my mom taught me. I turned the burner to low and allowed the pan to slowly cook the contents – this part of the bird was for Fern.
I patted the chicken’s skin dry a final time before I placed it in a cast iron skillet lightly coating it with olive oil and then sprinkling it with black pepper and dried thyme and rosemary on the back, the breast, and legs of the bird pressing spices onto the skin. Then I placed it in the oven at 425˚F and waited.
Within a few minutes the aroma of a roasting chicken filled the cottage.
While it cooked, I fed Fern sprinkling some of the broth from her part of the bird and its some meat gleaned from the neck. Mom taught me that a whole chicken could feed a family and a dog. Every time I cook a whole chicken, I feed the dogs, too.
It took almost an hour in the oven and while it roasted, I busied myself with other chores and then prepared the salad and the green beans. I pulled the roasted bird out of the oven, checked the temperature, and then let it rest a few moments before carving off a thigh and a drumstick and plating it with green beans and a generous portion of the salad.
It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.
My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.
My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.
However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.
But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.
Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.
I was 7 years old when the photo above was taken. Every time I see it, I remember listening to the Apollo 8 astronauts reading the first ten verses of Genesis as their space capsule orbited the moon. I can remember sitting in front of the black and white television in my pajamas with my two brothers. I was in first grade and enamored with the American space program.
50 years later, I am still amazed by what lies beyond Earth. The past few weeks, I have awakened early in the morning to see Venus brightly illuminating the pre-dawn sky. The sun brightly illuminating the sky. This morning, it was a reminder of what lies beyond.
Each time I see the moon, I marvel at the achievements of
America’s space program – despite what a professional basketball player
recently denied, men did reach the moon and return safely.
But today, I marvel at the photo and the possibilities that exist for our world. As Bill Anders, one of the three Apollo 8 astronauts, remarked,
“We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth,”
My weekly challenge was to remember my favorite song from five years ago and listen to it. I have no idea what I was listening to five years ago but it certainly was not on the top 100 from July 2013. I had an idea, a better idea, and I went back 40 years to when I was 16; the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. That was the summer of all sorts of memories.
This past Sunday afternoon, we drove north. I had a driver for the first hour and the last hour. My daughter O is working on her driving hours and loves driving. It gave me time to go back in time – 40 years – to the summer of ’78. I checked the top 40 from July ’78. I recognized most of the top 10 but my memory took a jolt when I read #14 – Miss You by the Rolling Stones. That song took me back and brought back all sorts of memories and I found my song…. But first… how I got there.
I turned 16 in November ’77, but I couldn’t get my driver’s license I hadn’t completed the required behind the wheel driving training. Instead of taking driver’s ed during the summer, like all of my peers, I had been visiting by dad in England for five weeks. I took the driver’s training during winter break of my sophomore year and was ready to get my license in January of ‘78. January in Houston, Texas is cold, but not nearly as cold as January where I now live – there is no comparison.
I am the oldest in my family, so I was the first of the kids to get my license and the first child to teach my mom all sorts of lessons she and her sister probably did not teach their parents when they were growing up in the fifties.
When my parents divorced, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia and a year later he and my step-mom moved to London, England. Whatever he had, he took with him or put in storage except for the 1969 blue Volkswagen Beetle. It was stored in the garage. I had my name on it. Or rather, I had put my name on it.
For a 16-year-old boy in 1978, having your driver’s license is cool, having a car a car is even cooler. Once I got my license, I began to drive the ‘blue bug.’ I could drive to work and back and had to ask permission beyond that. The little blue bug had air conditioning, but it didn’t work and the radio had AM only. I had a job and made minimum wage as a busboy and dishwasher at my next-door neighbor’s Italian restaurant. By March, I had scrimped and saved enough money to purchase an in dash 8-track cassette player and FM\AM radio and a couple of speakers for the blue bug. I had barely enough money leftover to buy two 8-track tapes – I picked Van Halen’s debut album and Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty. I listened to those constantly.
The blue bug was nothing brag about. Beside the AC not working, there was a hole in the passenger side floorboards caused by battery acid spillage. A friend of my mom’s helped with a fix and the radio and speakers were an improvement. To make up for the lack of AC the blue bug had side windows which could tilt inward and force air into the car. But driving it in the hot Texas spring and summer was pretty uncomfortable and perspiring was the norm. Continue reading Day 29 – Miss You→