I LOVE TRAVELLING. I have always loved it. Even as a kid I looked forward to family trips even if they were to visit relatives.
I liked travelling so much that I began to suspect that I was adopted and that I was really born into a Gypsy family. There were times I’m sure my parents might have wished that were true. I was never the kid who asked, “Are we there yet?” My question was always, “How long before we go?”
It didn’t take me long to discover something about myself and travelling – I always felt better when my body was in motion. It didn’t matter whether it was the hum of the car on the road or the rumbling back and forth of the trains that we rode to visit my mother’s sisters in Cleveland and Chicago. Later on when I had my first taste of airplane travel it was the constant vibration of the whole aircraft. Somehow it all made me feel physically better.
It still does.
The recent trip that my wife (the lovely and time zone hopping, Dawn) and I just finished consisted of long flights separated by lots of time on the road exploring the many canyons in Utah and Arizona. I do have to admit that the long hours cruising through the southwest did make some of my aging bones complain, but it also sang the old song to me about the open road and the feeling of comforting movement.
It doesn’t have to be on long trip across the country to give me that sense of well-being and bodily goodness. Riding around Terre Haute (That’s French for “The Grand Canyon it ain’t) running errands or on a shopping excursion down to Sam’s Club or even a quick dash to St. Arbucks can give me that same feeling that has blessed me since I was a kid.
Being in motion, heading somewhere, even if it is an unimportant journey sets my cells into action. From the wind coming through the open window (I rarely use the AC) to the sound of the tires on the road, feeling the pressure of acceleration against my body, to the sense of the power at my fingertips, it all feels good.
Taking a walk has given me the same things even though no power source is involved other than my legs and desire to go.
Now, as I get older and my physical strengths and abilities are diminishing at a much too rapid pace, I find that my desire – no, my need for my own therapeutic motion remains.
I can’t walk as fast or as far as I used to. I know that my hiking days in the State Parks are ended, but I have learned to accept smaller and less strenuous trails give me what I need. Give me a shopping list and the aisles at the Kroger supermarket can give me what I really hunger for.
I don’t know if others feel this same way about being in motion. I’ve asked a few people about this and all I usually get are awkward stares in return. I don’t understand. Why don’t other people feel what I feel? Is my physiology so unique that I’m the only one who benefits from the simple act of going somewhere? I’d really like to know.
Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody feel what I feel?
THERE ARE GOOD SIGNS and there are bad signs. And then there are signs that are just disappointing.
The other day when my wife (the lovely and epicurean, Dawn) and I were out and about around town. And we were feeling hungry. It was a little after two in the afternoon when I spotted a café that had a large sign in the front window –
“Breakfast Served All Day”
Salt Lake City seems to be a very nice town nestled in the mountains and filled with one-way streets that inevitably take you somewhere you don’t want to go. It took us a while, but we made it and started off for southern Utah by going north instead to see the Great Salt Lake.
I CAME OUT OF THE NOONTIME SERVICES in the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) carrying my iced coffee with me. I found a convenient spot to set up my computer and took that first sip from my 55 gallon drum of delicious iced coffee.
Horror! Oh, the Humanity!
ONE OF THE PROBLEMS with attending a conference in a large hotel is the food. When they are trying to feed lunch or dinner to hundreds of people at a time it can get problematic almost instantaneously.
Trying to figure out a menu that people will enjoy, without accidentally poisoning a few or having Table 43 slip into anaphylactic shock from gluten sensitivity, can be a culinary nightmare.
We do admit, however, that these particular items might not be all that relevant to you unless you live in or near the city of Unalaska, Alaska.
If there is a diet out there to try, I have tried it. Some were better than others. Some were easier than others. Some made more sense than others. You can say the same thing about people too, I guess.
And some people are just plain fattening.
THE FATHERS DAY Holiday, Celebration, Acknowledgement is hard upon us.
On days like that I really don’t think much about my role as a father. I picked up the honorific in midstream, becoming a “Step-Dad” at the age of 56. I don’t think about my role because it is an evolving thing, changing from day to day – sometimes hour to hour.
EVERY MORNING WHEN I TURN ON MY PHONE and look at the baseball scores, double check the weather forecasts, peruse the news, see if my calendar has any appointments scheduled, monitor the local gasoline prices and check my email (in fact, I do everything except use the phone to make a call) I discover that two or three people have sent me something they regard as “trivia.”
What is or isn’t trivial is really quite a subjective call. It is like whether a particular person is sweet dream beautiful or merely nightmarish, or do Brussels Sprouts make your mouth either water or fill with projectile matter. It is like wondering if some favorite politician is a lowlife, scum-sucking career criminal or just a thieving degenerate spawn of Satan.
You catch my drift?
Most of the things sent my way are not trivia. The fact that today is so and so’s birthday is not trivia. The fact that some guy at a County Fair in California is selling “Deep Fried Slim-Fast Bars” is not trivia. It is hellishly funny, but not as funny as another guy, in Milwaukee, who has erected a sign on the roof of a building on the approach path to the Milwaukee Airport that reads, “Welcome to Cleveland.”
That is a guy I’d like to meet.
For the better part of last year I participated in a weekly trivia contest at a local pub. Teams of erratically educated people would get together to show off, compete for gift cards good only at the pub, and to drink themselves into memory erasing stupors.
Our team had one member who must have done nothing for the last 20 years but listen to Top 40 Radio and watch sitcoms. He was a very valuable person to have on board. Another member had a disturbingly encyclopedic memory for anything to do with Sports. I was the Old Guy who could actually remember something that happened before the invention of TiVo.
I was doing the trivia thing for the enjoyment and to get out of the house so my loving and talented wife, Dawn could have some peace and quiet. I can be a bit like a young beagle puppy at times – cute, but headache producing.
I don’t drink – a fact that helped late in the game as I was one of the few left in the joint who could remember facts about William Howard Taft and get my car keys in the ignition on the first try. Through chance and dumb luck our team was surprisingly successful. Appetizers for everyone!
I began to separate myself from the weekly event because I began to suspect that our Sports Maven was nuttier than a truckload of Payday candy bars.
The trivia game is supposed to be fun. Am I right? But for this fellow it had turned into a Blood Sport. If he supplied the wrong answer to a question about who won the Orange Bowl in 1913, he would slam his fist onto the table, turn persimmon red, and have to go take a walk to cool off.
Naturally, I would throw kerosene onto the fire.
“I think you’re right! Tell the Moderator that you challenge her answer and that you are playing under protest.”
“##^@@&*$##%%!!!!!” (followed by a few laps around the parking lot)
That’s a paraphrase, of course.
I used the Holiday Season to completely exit from the team – and so did all of the other members – leaving Mr. Pecan Log teamless.
I heard that he glommed onto another team and proceeded to drive them batty.
I may go back over to the pub and play the game again someday, but I’m going to assemble my own team beforehand. I want no psychotics, nobody who has to keep throwing away their sobriety pins and no one who thinks the answer to every question is either Al or Tipper Gore.
I WAS WANDERING through the recently reconfigured aisles of the Kroger’s Supermarket this morning. Whenever they do make changes like that it takes a while for me to be able to find anything again. I end up having to go up and down all the aisles. I know that having me do that is the objective, but if I haven’t purchased canned lychee nuts in the last forty years I probably won’t be doing so anytime soon.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING this blog for very long you would have picked up that I am a BIG fan of San Francisco Giants baseball. I lived there for 25 years and it gets into your blood stream. I’ve infected my wife, the lovely and articulate Dawn, with Giants Fever and we both stay up much too late when the Giants are at home on the west coast.
Last Tuesday night they were playing in New York against the Mets. It was not a good day for the Mets.
Giants rookie starter Chris Heston (no relation to Charlton Heston, the famous actor in many over-wrought, epic, budget-busting, biblical and quasi-biblical Hollywood movie spectaculars.) threw a beautiful, complete game, No-Hitter against the Mets.
Heston gave up no hits and no walks. The defense behind him played flawlessly, committing no errors. Three Mets did get on base when Heston had a pitch or three wander off track and hit the batters. That was it.
We watched the entire game and it was a thing of beauty indeed. Young Heston (27 years old) showed poise, self-control, and laserlike concentration. He completed the game averaging just a hair over 12 pitches per inning. Very economical.
I know, I know. Some of you are going, “Here he goes again on his baseball kick.”
I do admit that, on occasion, I do wax rhapsodic about The Game and talk about it as if it was the most important thing in the world. I know that it isn’t. Coffee is the most important thing, with baseball executing a hook slide into second place.
How does a thing like this happen to an otherwise rational adult? I don’t know. All I know is that it happened to me and I make limited pretense to being a rational adult anyway.
Baseball is a child’s game played at breakneck speed, even though some people complain that it moves at a snail’s pace. It is the only major team sport played without the tyranny of the clock. It is the only team sport where it is the players on defense that control the possession of the ball.
It is the only sport that, as a child, I could play with any degree of success.
Growing up with full use of only one arm and one leg I was no threat in basketball, football, tennis, hockey (Gimme a break), track and field, golf, or swimming.
My skills in the pool are close to that of a blacksmith’s anvil.
Those other sports were beyond my abilities, but in baseball I could make a reasonable effort and get reasonable results.
I couldn’t run worth a damn, but if you hit the ball far enough you don’t have to. Even so, my hitting was marginal, but I was a good pitcher. My one good arm was strong enough for me to scare other kids my age.
My career was limited to games with and against other neighborhood kids. I wanted to play on a “real” team, but that required getting a doctor to sign a form saying that I was physically able – and that was never going to happen. I guess they felt that having me running around the field while wearing steel braces on my leg was not a good idea.
Oh, well. Time passes.
Since those days I have remained an avid fan of The Game, transferring my loyalties from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Cleveland Indians and onto the San Francisco Giants.
When you finally find the treasure the twisting route on the map becomes unimportant.
I love the game for its complexity as well as its simplicity; for its quick as a rabbit speed as well as its 19th century leisurely pace; for its hammering brute force as well as its almost balletic delicacy.
Watching a cleanly executed 6 to 4 to 3 double play is sharing in a filigree of speed, timing, prowess and unerring accuracy – all while avoiding the spikes of a charging runner.
Yeah, so I do get excited by things like Chris Heston’s No-Hitter the other night. I enjoy watching it and appreciate the skill and hard work it takes to make it look so easy.
On an evening like last Tuesday it was all so beautiful.
I SAW AN ITEM FLY BY MY EYES on Facebook a couple of days ago that made me say, “Wha???
A truck overturned near Xenia, Ohio (Which is near Dayton, for the geographically noncognoscenti.)
The cargo on this extremely horizontal truck was 2,200 live piglets. Tragically, as in many vehicular accidents, there were casualties. Approximately 200 – 400 piglets are no longer in the “living” category. For the rest of them it was “Run for your lives, little piggies.”
MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND INSPIRING Dawn, and I have been doing a lot of “Binge Watching” lately. We have viewed our way through the entire “Breaking Bad” series, “House of Cards,” “White Collar,” “True Detective,” and a few others.
It may be entertaining, but it’s not a way to encounter much worth thinking about later.