Category Archives: Writing

W^2 – anthem (renamed)

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 9, 2023

It is Wednesday, and I am in Baltimore for another baseball trip. This city and ballpark make 25 of 30. I have one last trip before school starts in less than two weeks.

These baseball trips have been more than baseball. Each stop has been an adventure full of curiosity, history, learning and growth, and excitement. Sometimes it is planned, but most times it simply happens.

the Star-Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry Baltimore, Maryland August 8, 2023 2:14 PM

Yesterday, I arrived my flight from Chicago arrived late morning. I had planned to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine before checking in to my hotel. Fort McHenry guards, or guarded, Baltimore Harbor in 1814 during the War of 1812. The British had planned to invade and take over Baltimore in September 1814. The War of 1812 was started by the fledgling United States who was losing the war to the might British Empire. Only weeks before, in August, the British had routed the Americans in Washington, D. C. and burned the White House.

But the British attack on Baltimore is the unravelling of the British advantage and the strengthening of American resolve. In battle it isn’t always might and strength which decides the outcome of a conflict. Sometimes it’s an idea.

During the British bombardment of Fort McHenry an American, Francis Scott Key, watched the battle from a ship in Baltimore harbor. When morning came, he looked across the harbor to see the fort and he saw the American flag flying through the ‘dawns early light.’ He retreated to his sea cabin and penned a poem which spread like wildfire across the young American nation.

In 1931, the United States adopted this poem as its national anthem. We know the poem as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

The poem was four stanzas, and we sing only the first. Last night before the baseball game the crowd rose and sang the song proudly.

Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday although Tuesday night’s ballgame was the best baseball game, I’ve seen this season. Who knows? So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.

What adventure are you off to today?

POST PUBLICATION NOTE: I decided to change the post’s name, from O’ say can you see to anthem.

Arch Rock, created slowly over time

Arch Rock Mackinac Island, Michigan USA

We toured Mackinac (pronounced – mack-i-naw) Island in a horse drawn carriage Monday with friends. One of the stops along our tour was Arch Rock. Our tour guide shared the Ojibwe legends of a young woman whose tears slowly created the arch and another of how angry pileated woodpeckers slowly pecked away at the rock so a maiden could see the lake. But erosion, and science, explains the arch.

Mackinac is the Ojibwe word meaning ‘turtle’ as the island looks like a giant turtle shell emerging from Lake Huron. The Ojibwe were the Native American tribe which inhabited the island and the region long before Europeans explored and settled the region in the seventeenth century.

We had a wonderful time with our friends on Mackinac Island. They returned home yesterday while we helped our daughter move into her college apartment before the new term begins. Sometimes, I should simply stick to six words as Debbie from Travel with Intent suggests.

It’s Saturday and today is going to be an amazing day. After week with friends it is back to life andI have a long list of chores with all sorts of diversions possible. But I am going to try to stick to six words and make the day count. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, carving away at the to-do list. (My Saturday six words)

What are your six words for your Saturday? Or Sunday?  

My video of our trip to and from the island on the ferry.

July’s peaches make the summer count

Dutch Farm Market, South Haven Michigan Friday July 28, 2023 11:16 AM

July peaches make the summer count. I stopped at Dutch Farm Market in South Haven on the way north yesterday. I only bought three things: peaches, blueberries, and beets. These three multiply the joy of summer from three words in to six, or more. Six Word Saturday Could’ve been,

  • I stopped at Dutch Farm Market, or
  • Summer’s harvest brings peaches, blueberries, beets, or even
  • Farmer Ed’s market sells Michigan peaches

But I settled on the title above. Today is going to be an amazing day and I am thankful for the blogging world to encourage me to stretch, even a little. Making the days count, one day at a time, six words in a sentence.

What six words describe you today?

A post for Six Word Saturday inspired by Debbie at Travel with Intent and my blogging friend Margaret at From Pyrenees to Pennines.

What I love about baseball

I am not exactly sure how my baseball bucket list adventures began, but I can backtrack the trail to Homer Bailey’s second no hitter on July 2, 2013.

I am sure you are wondering,

“How in the world can he be certain?”

Well, it started with Maribel, my late mother-in-law. She was up at the lake, and she wanted to listen the Cincinnati Reds game. Unfortunately, neither the Reds radio network nor the Reds television broadcast served norther lower Michigan. That area was Detroit Tigers territory. She was a Reds fan and she watched or listened to the Reds ballgames at home in southwestern Ohio.

 I signed up for MLB TV and we watched and listened to the ballgame using my computer in her bedroom. That night I signed up three times for MLB TV and I didn’t catch my mistake until my credit card billing statement arrived the following month. Thankfully, MLB TV was understanding and cancelled the two additional accounts. I’ve been renewing the package ever since.

About that time, my favorite team, the Houston Astros began to play better and since, I’ve been paying more attention since. Thank you, Maribel.

Since last summer, I’ve travelled to twelve cities and thirteen new ball parks in addition to the two ballparks in Chicago. I’ve met many people in my travels. I’ve attended all but one of those games by myself and each time I sit down to watch the game, I meet new people.

What I love about baseball is that I realize that it is truly America’s game. By attendance it is the most popular sport, but the baseball season is 162 games long and each team plays half of their games at home and the other half on the road. In 2022, over 64 million people watched a major league baseball game in person, attendance is down almost 10% compared to 2018.

the crowd in St. Louis with the Gateway Arch in the background

This past year MLB made rule changes to the game to speed up play and make the game more exciting. At first, I was apprehensive, but with four months (and seven games in a ballpark) into the season I agree. The game is more exciting and on average a ballgame is almost thirty minutes shorter this year compared to previous seasons. This season’s average is 2 hours and 39 minutes compared with the 2022 season average game length of 3 hours and 6 minutes. Continue reading What I love about baseball

W^2 – bite

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 19, 2023

It is Wednesday, again. I am in Denver, Colorado for another baseball game. Last night’s game didn’t turn out well for my team, but they play 162 games in a season for a reason.

I arrived yesterday morning and had a full day planned, capped with walking to and from the ballpark.

goofing around at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colorado July 18, 2023 10:51 MDT

My plan was to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, lunch with a blogger, then the game. Sometimes things don’t go your way or lot of other people have the same idea. It turned out that I was not the only person who wanted to get a jump start on their day and when I arrived at the car rental facility I was well back in the line. The line moved smoothly and did get my car, but I was more than an hour behind schedule. Continue reading W^2 – bite

W^2 – colorful

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 12, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have a closeup of one of our hummingbird feeders and a bonus, a reverse view with a hummingbird.

a hummingbird feeder from inside the house, Wheaton, IL Wednesday July 12, 2023 7:56 AM

Today is the thirty-seventh day of summer break, almost to the halfway mark. Earlier this morning storms rolled through with lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. We need the rain after a very dry spring. The flowers came despite the lack of April showers.

The birds came, too.

Several years ago, I added a few bird feeders to our backyard. It was the summer of ’18 and I was recovering, or rehabilitating, from my first knee replacement surgery. I had been reading the a book Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I learned about the book while reading a blog post at From Pyrenees to Pennines in one of Margaret’s many blogposts about reading.

Both changed my life. The book and thus the bird feeders and the knee surgeries, in December ’18 I had the other knee replaced. I’ve never looked back. Continue reading W^2 – colorful

a foggy Sunday dozen

This morning I awoke to a fog enshrouded lake, yesterday it was rainy.  Later today, it will be sunny. We get it all here.

in homage to the last two blogposts, black and white with a pinch of color…

This morning when I first looked out, I could see as far as the speedboat – about a hundred yards, but a couple of hours later we could make out the opposite shore, barely.

I walked to the end of the dock and captured a few images, a dozen or so, before the fog lifted. I’ll let the images tell the story. Continue reading a foggy Sunday dozen

reprise, black and white

In response to yesterday’s post W^2 – black and white, a reprise of sorts.

In hindsight, yesterday was a million and six times better than the day before.

Our nephew arrived with his wife and young children just as the storms began to roll across the lake. A few minutes later his brother, another nephew arrived. It was wonderful to see them. Since my wife’s parents died, our paths only cross for weddings, funerals, and graduations.

The kids were reluctant to get out of the car, but slowly warmed and by the end of their visit they were playing in the water, exploring the lake, toys, and all that our lake home has to offer.

It was delightful to visit, to catch up, and share our home with them.

Then storms rolled across the lake, one after another, and we stayed off the lake and out of the boats. More than once, we waded out to the boats, turning back when we saw lightning until we decided that we would get wet regardless of whether it was raining or not.

looking west northwest, as rain falls gently

While they boated, Fern and I stayed ashore. I waded into the lake and took the photos for this post. By the end of their visit every single beach towel was soaked, and the kids (and adults) were spent.

clouds over the lake, looking west north west in portrait mode

Yesterday WAS a million and six times better than the day before with family – our nephews and their kids bringing color to the lakeshore on a stormy day.

This morning began with steady rain, but the sun is breaking through and sunshine is on the way. Today is going to be an amazing day, it could be a million and six times better than yesterday. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, black and white or in color.

Is it black, white, or colorful where you are?

W^2 – peanut

W^2, W2, or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Today is Day 23 and yesterday, I took the train from Chicagoland all the way to St. Louis. It was my first real train ride in the United States. Trains in the US were once a BIG deal, but with the advent of the car, a national road system, and air travel trains declined in my lifetime. I don’t recall ever riding a train to go anywhere until my brothers and I visited my father in Europe after my parents divorced. My first rail trip was to Glasgow from London on British Rail. We have a commuter rail system in Chicagoland, but I don’t use it often. However, I did take commuter rail into Union Station yesterday morning.

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have a new peanut image from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

Last night I added to my list of cities where Major League Baseball is played, twenty-three. Every game reminds me of how baseball is an integral part of our culture. I could say sport, but I don’t get this feeling with football, basketball, or other sports and I don’t know why. But last night I sat amongst St. Louis Cardinal fans whom I’d never met and had a great talking baseball and life.

Last night’s seats were the best seats I have ever had for a baseball game. I decided to splurge on these seats when I was planning my trip. To my right were two couples out for the ballgame and to my left was a group of friends, and in front of me were a father and son. None of us were regulars in these seats. The woman to my right was a mom whose thins were headed off to college this fall, JP to right was a graphic artist, and the young man in front of me reminded me who was winning the game – the Cardinals. It was a great night at the ballpark.

I have seven cities left on my list: Denver, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto.

Today, I have a visit to the Gateway Arch, another baseball game tonight, and a train ride home tomorrow.

Today is going to be an amazing day, it could be a million and six times better than yesterday. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, watching a baseball game, or enjoying the sights and sounds of a new city.

What will you explore today?

Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?

It’s Monday, Day 21 and I wasted yesterday. Really wasted it. I spent the entire afternoon on things unimportant and certainly not urgent.

One day summer won’t be summer break, it will be life in retirement. I’ve often told folks who marvel my summer break (envy) that I think of summer break as an audition for retirement. If so, I am not going to get a call back.

In my last post I referenced the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was replying to a comment and I found a great resource from the folks at FranklinCovey, it’s an overview of the 7 Habits – click if you like. I’ve been using their products for over twenty years to plan my day and organize my daily and weekly tasks. Every year I get a little better at it learning from my failures and successes.

my stats as of Monday, June 26, 2023

One of the parts of my daily routine playing the New York Times Wordle. I don’t remember how I started, but I did. It could’ve been my daughter, or the buzz on social media as folks posted their solution to the day’s Wordle. If you haven’t played it, it is a simple game. You have six guesses to guess the day’s word. The word is five letters long and with each guess you get feedback.

  • Green squares mean that the letter you guessed is in the correct position in the day’s word.
  • Yellow squares mean the letter you guessed is in the word day’s but not in that space.
  • Gray squares mean that the letter you guessed is not in that day’s word.

According to an article in The Ledger, there over 158,000 five-letter words in the English language, but the Official Scrabble Dictionary puts the number at about 9,000 words. Somewhere I read the Wordle game has a dictionary at just over 2,300 words and doesn’t use plurals as solutions.

I find Wordle challenging, and I find it frustrating, too. Most mornings, playing the day’s Wordle is the last thing I do before getting started on the day – showering and heading off to school. But in the summer, I have more time and less urgency (and thus more time to write and dream).

Some days, the puzzle takes five to ten minutes or as quickly as two minutes like it was this morning. And there are days when I can’t see a solution and come back later.

Last summer, I began to track my daily results and approach playing the game as a scientist. At the point, it took an average of 4.46 attempts to solve the puzzle. Since then, my average slowly declined and is currently 4.05 attempts to solve the puzzle, though the month of June has been awful with a miss and several five and six attempt days and a monthly average of 4.23. Continue reading Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?