Sunday, June 22, 2008


Right now it is not raining here. I am assured by Roger – and also by – that this is a temporary condition. It was raining earlier, complete with thunder, lightning, and some substantial hailstones. About ten minutes ago the sun came out. But it is gray again, and the windows which we reopened will need to be closed again.

In C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength, which for many reasons is one of my favorite books, the characters Camilla and Arthur Dennison relate that one of the reasons they got married was that they both like weather. Not any special kind of weather, just weather in general. Camilla says that most children like weather, and playing in it, until the adults force them not to. I am not sure that I liked weather as a child, but it is definitely true that one of the reasons I regularly give for liking living in Michigan is the experience of all four seasons. Summer thunderstorms, winter snow, wind, heat, cold; I want them all in my life.

As an adult, rain is the weather I probably appreciate least. It can make grocery shopping a trial. My exercise walk is even less pleasant in the rain. I really hate rain spots on my glasses. And yet ... one of the best memories I have of the camp where I spent parts of twelve summers, first as a camper, then on staff, is a walk in the rain.

That particular summer, my first on staff, the staffers were divided into two groups. For two weeks one group were counselors, spending from Sunday afternoon to Saturday morning riding herd on “cabin groups” of campers. The other group served as support staff, cooking and serving meals, cleaning bathrooms, mowing grass. After two weeks the groups switched.

This particular week I was on kitchen duty, which was the longest working day. In the kitchen by 6AM, breakfast on the table by 7:45. Clean up from breakfast, start lunch – and some of the dinner prep as well. Serve lunch (12 noon sharp), then clean up. And then you were free for a couple of hours, until 4PM for serving dinner at five thirty. (I don't mean to imply that this was drudgery. Actually, we played music, and talked, and had a generally good time. But it was long.)

We were free to do whatever we liked during our off hours, which usually boiled down to sleeping and/or swimming in the pool/lying in the sun. But this particular day it was raining, with enough chance of lightning that the pool was closed. And Anna and I weren't sleepy.

This was before the days of lightweight plastic ponchos and raincoats. Such things were made of treated fabric, even canvas, and they were heavy. Plastic trash bags, however, were new and wonderful and easily available in the kitchen. Anna and I grabbed a couple, poked holes for our heads, and spent our free hours running, laughing, singing and playing in the rain. We got back to the cabin just in time to put on dry sneakers and report for dinner duty. Our hair was wet, but since this was, after all, a (rather rustic) camp, that was fine.

I find it intriguing that of all the many many hours I spent at camp, these two rainy ones come to the top of my mind most often. Maybe I should take off my glasses, grab a trash bag, and go!

(As predicted, it's raining again.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

When I was a kid I loved baseball. My brother and I had our favorite teams, with player pictures hung on our bedroom walls in the shape of ballfields. His teams were the Yankees and Giants, mine were the Dodgers and Mets. We had countless arguments about whose teams were better, but since in those days the only inter-league games were the World Series, and not more than one of our teams -- usually the Yankees* -- ever reached that level at the same time, such disputes were purely theoretical.

We read baseball stories, notably John Tunis' The Kid from Tompkinsville series. My favorite
was The Kid Comes Back. We went to occasional Baltimore Orioles games, mostly at the instigation of my Aunt Ethel. Aunt Ethel was my mom's older sister, and I have countless memories of her sitting in front of the TV, watching the Orioles play, knitting away at her current project and keeping score at the same time. I learned a lot of baseball terminology from her. One of the saddest things of her descent in to Alzheimers was when she could no longer follow a baseball game.

And then, well, I grew up. I moved from Oriole territory to the mid-west, and we decided not to have a television in our house. For a few years our congregation had a church-league softball team (for which I was scorekeeper), but that ended when Rosie was a baby. Baseball scores in the newspaper are not the same, and the only MLB [Major League Baseball] team in Michigan is the Detroit Tigers, about whom I care very little, and who play in the middle of a scary city. Since my reading of the sports pages is limited to a glance at the front of the section, I knew two player names, and that's about it. Baseball became a very marginal, almost forgotten part of my life.

Until last Friday night. A friend of the family has occasional access to a set of corporate season tickets, and six weeks or so ago we made plans for him, Roger, me, and Katie to attend the Tigers/Dodgers game at Comerica Park. It sounded like a fun time with a friend, but right up until Thursday I was waffling about actually going, since "I didn't care that much about baseball anymore," it was supposed to rain, and Tommy needed transport to and from an end-of-the-school-year party. Roger finally persuaded me to go, since Tommy had arranged to get a ride from a friend, but I tossed the afghan I'm crocheting for Rosie and Anthony's coming baby into my backpack, figuring I'd have something interesting to do.

We got to Detroit about 30 minutes after stadium opening time, and parked our car in a not-too-near but not-too-far $10 game-night empty lot parking area. I was glad I had packed umbrellas, since it was misting lightly. We walked the several blocks to the stadium, and our friend suggested that we get something to eat at Hockeytown Cafe (warning--link has sound), across the street from the stadium. As usual, I was unimpressed by another sports bar, but the food was acceptable, despite no T in the BLT/Club because of the salmonella scare. By the time we finished, about 40 min before game time, it was raining, hard.

We decided to go over to the stadium and get our tickets scanned so we would be eligible for rain checks. Since we were in, we walked around to our assigned section, and decided to stand by the entry-way to our seats (between two hot dog stands!) to see if the rain would let up. It was actually quite pleasant -- there was a breeze from the field, which can be seen very well from the whole concessions/walkway ring. In the Orioles old park -- since replaced -- you could only see the field from the seats proper. About 10 minutes before scheduled game time, we noticed that the rain had tapered to a mist. Since I had brought rags to dry our seats, we decided to go and sit in them (with our umbrellas) and see what happened.

The seats were amazing! Fourteen rows back, right behind the home dugout. Aunt Ethel always preferred the view over the plate, and our budget was NOT corporate, so I'd never before been in the "good" seats. By the time we'd been in them 15 minutes the rain had totally stopped, and the grounds crew came out to uncover the infield. For about 2 minutes we wondered what they were going to do with all the water standing on the tarp. The answer -- dump it on the outfield! By then the scoreboard showed that the game would begin about one hour late, and it was a good choice; there was no more rain that evening.

I had decided before we took our seats that I wouldn't bother getting out my crocheting, because I didn't want to get it wet. But during the extra time of the delay, I pulled it out. By the time of the National Anthem, I had finished a row and a half. And then the game began. For the first inning, I divided my attention, looking up for the pitch and then down at my afghan. But somewhere along the line -- maybe it was the first line drive third baseman Guillen snared too fast for me to see -- I remembered: THIS is what I love about baseball. Not the team or player stats; not loyalty to any particular team. What I loved , and to my astonishment still love, is the actual game play itself. Long flies caught just short of the fence. The batter acting irate if a pitch comes too close. The tag -- or missed tag -- on the steal to second or third. I just love baseball.

Roger, who has always been little mystified by my baseball knowledge (football is his game), was glad to hear that my rediscovered passion is not for the Tigers, but for baseball. We are already researching going to see the Lansing Lugnuts, where the best (non-suite) seats in the house cost $9. I can't wait!

And, oh yeah, the afghan? Despite getting caught up in the game, I still finished 6 rows. Aunt Ethel would have been proud.

* Although the 1969 Series, where the Mets "lost last place", lives so clearly in my memory that when I saw the movie Frequency, and the date flashed on the screen at the beginning of the movie, I knew exactly what was going on on that day.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Daniel!

My grandson turned two today! Despite the early morning wake-up call and long drive, being there for Daniel's birth was, as I mentioned here (scroll down), one of the high points of my life. And the two years have simply flown. Then he looked like this; now he looks like this -- all boy and marvelous.

Happy birthday, grandson!

Friday, June 06, 2008


I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the acronym that titles this post. Most of you probably do know URL, which stands for "Uniform Resource Locater", and is what any techno-geek you may know will call the address of this blog, or anything else on the internet. (When I asked Roger a little while ago exactly what the letters stood for, so that I could use them in this post, I got a three-minute discussion of why they're called that, and how it's supposed to work but doesn't always. TooMuchInformation, to use another acronym!)

IRL, on the other hand, is a blog and text-message abbreviation which stands for "In Real Life." I know most of the people on my blogroll only from the internet, but obviously I know Arwen IRL, since she's my daughter! One of the benefits of meeting people online, however, is that if you really hit it off and find you have a lot in common, you can meet IRL. This is not without its dangers, of course, since people can lie on the internet, but adults who have a common interest in knitting, or theology, or literature, or whatever, are in my (NSH) opinion less likely to actually meet up with a weirdo than kids who just want to meet a "friend".

Arwen has met several online friends IRL, and a couple of them have become the kind of friends that you take an airplane trip to visit, and stay in their house, and invite to your in-laws condo, and generally do all the things with that you do with any real friend. I, however, (partly since I am newer to blogging) had never done so before yesterday.

But yesterday I hopped in my car and drove the 90 minutes (or two hours home during rush hour :-( ) to Arwen's town to meet up with "Liz." Liz doesn't appear on my blogroll, because hers is password protected. Arwen and I have been reading her for several years, since before her password, and leaving comments of the kind that caused her to deem us nice enough people to be let in to a blog that's now family and IRL friends only. Thanks, Liz, for the compliment! Liz normally lives half a continent away, but is doing a three month training stint in a city only 2 1/2 hours from Arwen. So we decided to meet up in Arwen's town due to the logistics of transporting Camilla, who is an important part of the package. It was wonderful!

Liz is just like her online personality -- I hope I am, too; I know Arwen is! -- and we chatted about this, that, and the other thing for five hours. And then I had to head home for choir practice and Liz had to go in the opposite direction for what I hope was a hot date! Since she returns to her home state in three weeks, I don't know if we'll have another chance to meet her IRL. But I surely am glad we had this one!

Note to all 3 of my readers -- if you ever expect to be in Michigan, email me and we''ll see if we can work something out!

Disclaimer from last post -- It appears that a lot of DaVinci's Notebook's songs are raunchier than I would care to listen to. Rats, and I'm sorry if I steered you in the wrong direction.