Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Memory”

It’s Too Early For Anything But Puppies

hurricaneAS I GET UP THIS MORNING and turn on the TV all I see is hurricanes and candidates. There’s not much difference when you get down to it – a lot of hot air passing through, and people getting soaked. The hurricane blows down homes and the candidates blow down people’s dreams with nonsensical promises for things they can never deliver.

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Now It Is Time To Stare Out Of The Window

hornsby_rogers_1“PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT I DO IN WINTER when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Rogers Hornsby

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Baseball, its History and its Allure I offer up that quote from Rogers Hornsby (1896 – 1963). He is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame and is considered one of The Greats of the game. He played and managed from 1915 until 1953.

This well known quote about what he did in the off season says so much more than is apparent on the surface. It is more than just a game. It is more than just a metaphor for life. Baseball is a living, breathing superlative.

Baseball season is over now. Over for me, that is. True, there are still the Playoffs and the World Series to be decided, but my team is not there. They have gone home and so have I.

Oh, I imagine that I will watch some of these games, but because I have no one to cheer for, to anguish over, and to call by their first names, I will watch to enjoy the beauty of the game itself.

Someone, I forget who, said that, “Baseball is a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.” But if your favorite team is not playing it is like watching a ballet covered with dirt and pine tar. It is beautiful to watch, but you know that something is wrong. Where are your players?

Now that the season is over we, I and my wife, the lovely and Southpaw, Dawn, are keeping an ear cocked for any news about trades and player moves. Two of our pitchers have announced that they are retiring. Who will fill their spots in the rotation and bullpen? Who is going to be a Free Agent the day after the World Series ends? How are players recovering from injuries and surgeries? Will they be ready for Spring Training?

Spring Training – the truest harbinger of the changing of seasons. That robin may be frozen to the tree branch outside our window, but if Timmy’s hip surgery has brought him back then can new Black and Orange T-shirts be far behind?

We are not any different from Rogers Hornsby. We are also staring out of the window waiting for spring. But our window gives us a view of more than the snow and ice. It gives us the latest news and rumors.

The “Hot Stove League” is electronic these days with 24/7 talk and analysis as well as wishing and hoping. There will be second guessing until the cows come home and number crunching until it all turns into meaningless babble. That is when we pop a DVD into the machine. We can bundle up and watch Matt Cain’s Perfect Game and the Four Game Sweep in the 2012 World Series. We can sit in awe as MadBum strides in from the bullpen like Paul Bunyan ready to clear-cut the Kansas City Royals once again.

I can’t speak for the people who love football, tennis or golf, but don’t ever try to tell me that Baseball is “just a game.”

A more modern lover of the game than Hornsby, columnist George Will – who never played in the Majors, said, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.” 

Now that the season is over we are also sitting by the window waiting for spring. It won’t be long.

Now Serving #15 – And I’m Holding #137

JugglingI’M NOT MUCH OF A JUGGLER. In fact, I am the worst juggler I have ever known. W.C. Fields is a better juggler than me – and he’s been dead since I was six months old.

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Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be

FB_IMG_1441895951206THERE IS A GOOD REASON my wife, the lovely and unfailingly perceptive, Dawn, calls my trips to St. Arbucks, along with, “The Usual Suspects,” my “Play Group.” I admit that there are some days when the maturity level drops below Pre-School closing in on Pre-Natal.

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S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y

BayCityRollers-kiltsONE OF THE USUAL SUSPECTS asked me what I was planning to do this weekend. Before I could answer another of the bunch started singing, not very well, a fractured rendition of the old number by The Bay City Rollers: “Saturday Night.”

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A Memory Delivered By FedEx

20150806_115017WHEN I GOT BACK HOME this morning after coffee Dawn said that there were two boxes waiting to be opened. FedEx had delivered them – sent by my niece Susan who lives in North Carolina. The boxes were filled with memories.

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Just Throw It Back

atariEVERY WEEK ON FACEBOOK I see people posting old pictures of themselves or their kids – or even their dogs and cats. The pictures of themselves invariably show them looking pounds slimmer and without any gray hair. The dogs and cats look about the same – just smaller.

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My Fathers Day

john mom and dad

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.

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A Thing Of Beauty In Nine Innings

Double Play Giants

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.

In The End…

your storyMY 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.

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The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done

gorilla-gorilla

BEING HUMAN BEINGS, such as we all are, to the best of my knowledge, we tend to, on a fairly regular basis, do dumb things.

Of course, there are different Levels of Dumbness.  

For example:

Looking back to your Senior Prom and remembering how difficult it was trying to teach a sheep to slow-dance.

Making anonymous obscene phone calls to 911

At Christmas, giving your wife or Sweetheart a gift card – to the local Dollar General store.

Trying to impress your date by ordering in French – at Taco Bell.

Going into a Biker Bar and ordering an Appletini.

Going to college and majoring in Theater, with a minor in Political Science.

I did that one myself.  Smart move.  I still had the cap and gown on when I realized that the only things I was actually qualified to do were to either stage a coup or turn Ecuador into a musical.

But, perhaps, the dumbest thing I have ever done, aside from various interpersonal relationships with unstable, but attractive women, was the time I held hands with an 800# Gorilla.

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Connecting The Dots

Connect the dots

“IT MUST BE TWENTY YEARS AGO…” At my age most things are that, or more. Twenty years seems like the blinking of the proverbial eye.

1994? Why, I have stuff in the refrigerator older than that.  The old saying goes that “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Trust me – it flies even when you aren’t having fun. It just flies – faster with each passing year.

It seems that it was just the day before yesterday when I was in high school, but I attended my fiftieth class reunion this summer. When did I get old? Or was I always this age, but blind to it?

I’m not complaining mind you. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again for all the silicon in San Jose. I wouldn’t mind being thirty years old again though. At thirty you are still in relatively good shape physically, but you are a better judge as to how the world works.

Thirty for me was in 1976 – the American Bicentennial year. There were fabulous celebrations all over the country. Personally, I had purchased a house, had a great girl friend, and I was doing some fun stage work. I was also trying to care for my parents. I didn’t have many celebrations that year.

In 1976 my father was dying and my mother was lost in it all and neglecting her own heath, her diabetes. My father died a few days before Thanksgiving. He was 65.

The house became very quiet.

I was thirty.

The next two years are a blur. In those two years; I lost my job and got a new one, I watched my mother deteriorate until she needed care I could not give her, I saw the girl friend close her door, and I sold the house. It was a house that had never been more than a way station. It was never a home.

I was thirty. I felt ancient.

I sold the house and drove as far west as I could go without falling into the ocean. I knew no one, had no job, no address, and no possessions other than what was in the back of my car. I arrived in California the week before Christmas. On Christmas Day I went to the beach. I froze my ass off, but it was a symbolic gesture. Looking back I’m not sure what it symbolized, but it sure wasn’t practical.

I think that the human body plays tricks on us as we age. It tinkers with our memories. I can give you incredible details about what I did during those first few days in California, but I have to stop and think to tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. But, as I think about it now, yesterday’s lunch was not very memorable. Perhaps the body knows what it is doing: remember what is meaningful and just trash the other stuff.

As I look back on it, 1976 was not a very good year for me, but it was the kind of year that made the next two years possible, vital even. Without my 1976 the years that followed could very easily have made yesterday’s lunch into a memorable event. One dot pointed the way to the next one until the picture became clear.

Thank you for allowing me to wallow about in this puddle of personal nostalgia.

Now – Carry on and do something to make us all laugh.

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