Friday, January 29, 2016

Update and "you're never too old to publish a book"

Waiting for surgery
I’m slowly coming to grips with the understanding that I can’t bend my knee for the next six weeks…  Post about sailing or kayaking or hiking will have to be drawn from past adventures….  I feel as if I have a peg leg and am not very mobile.  Thankfully, the pain has subsided and I am taking about a 1/3 of the pain medicine as I was before.  Because of drug allergies with many traditional pain killers, I was given a morphine product which might explain some weird dreams that I had (it also might explain why I have been sleeping 10-12 hours a day).  But I am doing well and life is getting to be somewhat normal.  

I hope I don't gross you out with the photos!  I am going to end up with a zipper look on the front of my leg with the staples that have been put into the wound.  Also, for the first time in my life, part of that leg was shaved!  I didn't finish the job.

my wound
I have been watching a lot of movies as I sit around with my leg up: Cider House Rules, The Way, The Quiet American, Safelight, Night Train to Lisbon, Female Agents, Jackie & Ryan, Mansfield Park, World of Tomorrow, NLL: Yeonpyeong Haejeon, Chocolat.  Netflix streaming has been good!  

Last summer I was given a book by a ninety year old friend and I finally got around to reading it.  This isn’t normally the type of reading I do, but I the Maritime history of the world (which I was reading pre-surgery, is just too complicated).  I found the book delightful.  My review is below. 

Lucy Barrett, Salad Days in the Golden Years: Introducing Virginia and Matilda (Cleveland TN: Penman Publishing, 2015), 182 page 

This is a delightful novel written by a friend on the island.  This past year, she turned 90 and celebrated by publishing her first book.  Salad Days in the Golden Years is a delightful book about Virginia, who decides she is not going to live with her only child, but is going to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  There, she meets Matilda and the two of them become a dynamic duo—catching criminals, planning weddings, and seeking their own late-life lovers.  Virginia is a bit naïve, having moved to the facility as a widow, having been married to the same man for over fifty years.  She was used to having people (her husband, then her son) make decisions for her.  But she wants to be independent and slowly learns how to accomplish this.  Matilda tests her, as she is the type that likes to run the lives of others, but Virginia learns how they might be friends but without Matilda’s control.  Barrett weaves in a number of other characters including a young waitress at the CCRC whose boyfriend is shot.  This sets the scene for Virginia and Matilda to catch a fugitive.  In the background, with connections primarily through letters and voice mail, is her son’s family along with the trust fund manager.  As a mother-in-law, Virginia she has questions about her daughter-in-law who doesn’t like to cook, but is able to keep them to herself by moving to Magnolia Village.  Yet, Virginia is fearful of what would happen to her grandchildren if Pot Tarts were no longer manufactured.  By the end of the story, Virginia is content with her new life and even has a new boyfriend.  Another couple there is married and he has discovered he has a grandson.  Virginia’s own son has accepted that his mother can care for herself, while Virginia understands more about how his family is a bit different, but also works.  Although there are no “happy ever-after” stories in life, at last those at Magnolia Village will make the most of the journey.  This is a well-told story and I recommend it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wrigley Field

I will come back and edit this again as I wrote it while taking a synthetic morphine as I recover from the surgery on my quad tendon.  Yesterday was tough--once the block wore off, I was in pain.  Today hasn't been quite as bad, but every time I try to back off on meds, the pain goes up...  between the meds and an ice machine that keeps cool water on my leg, I am making it.  


George F. Will, A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred (New York: Crown Archetype, 2014), 223 pages including a bibliography, index and a few photos.

Baseball is as encrusted with clichés as old ships are with barnacles.
                                                        -George Will (page 105)

         Watching a baseball game at Wrigley’s Field is a delight.  In 2011, I took the train from Michigan to Chicago, then took the Red Line out to Wrigley Field to watch the Houston Astros beat the Chicago Cubs.  I was rooting for the Cubs and would have liked to have seen them win, but those who go to watch baseball at Wrigley’s attend mostly for the experience. “People go to museums of fine art to see the paintings, not the frames that display them,” Will writes.  “Many people do, however, decide to go to Chicago Cubs games because they are played within this lovely frame… It is frequently noted that Wrigley’s Field is lovelier than the baseball that is played on the field.” (13).   This leads to all kinds of jokes about the Cubs:  “What does a female bear taking birth control pills have in common with the World Series,” someone will ask.  “No Cubs.”  Or, “for most teams, 0-30 is called a calamity.  For the Cubs, it is called April. (29)  The old ballpark turned 100 years old in 2014 and George Will, who grew up in Illinois and is a Cub fan, wrote a history of the park to celebrate the event and to explore why people love the Cubs and Wrigley’s Field.  As Will notes early in the book, "Reason rarely regulates love." (11)  And with the Cubs, it’s all about love as their attendance is the least sensitive to performance in all baseball. (134)  People come whether or not they are winning.  Ironically, their attendance is four times more sensitive to beer prices than performance which is why only two teams (the Pirates and Diamondbacks) have cheaper beer.  (136)
            The Cubs are an old organization and at one time (pre-Wrigley’s Field) they were a powerhouse.  In the 1880s, with Cap Anson, they had many championships.  It’s just that they’ve had a bad century, winning their last World Series in 1908.  Will gives the history of the team that was first known as the Chicago White Stockings and under the leadership of Albert Goodwill Spaulding (baseball’s first entrepreneur) helped invent Major League Baseball. (31). Goodyear published yearly “Spalding Guides” to Major League Baseball.  In his 1908 edition,   Goodyear (who Will noted “was not always fastidious about facts”) created the myth of Abner Doubleday inventing baseball in the summer of 1939 in Farmer Finney’s pasture in Cooperstown, NY. (33)  After being known as the White Stockings, the team went by a number of names (Colts, Orphans and Spuds).  In 1902, after the creation of the American League, there was another team in Chicago that was using the name “White Sox’s,” so they looked for a new name and decided on Cubs as it represented bear-like strength with a playful disposition. (36)  Another interesting fact that Will provides:  The American League was founded in 1882 and its main difference at the time was it allowed beer sale at ball games. (34)
            In 1914, the Cubs built their new stadium with the home plate at the corner of Addison and Clark Streets at the site of a former Lutheran Seminary.  (20)  Ironically, Addison Street was named for Dr. Thomas Addison, who identified "Addison anemia," providing more comic material for the Cubs. (15)  Two years later, William Wrigley, who had made his fortune with chewing gum, brought into the Cub organization. (45). Wrigley was a promoter who was fond of saying, "Baseball is too much of a sport to be a business and too much of a business to be a sport. (46)  His was the first club to allow people to keep balls that were hit into the stands and unlike other teams, who saw radio broadcast as a threat, he allowed stations to broadcast the games free of charge.  (47-48).  He reached out to women and built a strong female fan base.  Under his family leadership, the motto was if the team was bad, “strive mightily to improve the ballpark.” (87)  The Wrigley’s tried to create a ballpark for the whole family and would advertise for people to come out and have a picnic.  The joke was that the other team often did.  (83)
            Will goes into detail about the Cub’s 1932 World Series loss to the Yankees and the game when Babe Ruth “called the shot” before he hit a home run over center field.  As he notes, it probably didn’t happen the way it has been portrayed.  Ruth, and the Yankees, were upset with the Cubs over a player (Mark Koenig) they’d traded from the Yankees late in the season.  The team decided that Koenig would only get ½ of a share of the World’s Series proceeds for the team since he didn’t play all year for them.  This increased the tension between the teams and most likely Ruth’s pointing the bat at the Cub’s dugout.  The game was also interesting because of who were in the stands.  Franklin Roosevelt was there (just 38 days before being elected President along with a 12 year old boy (John Paul Stevens) who would go on to be a Supreme Court Justice. (55-6)
            Will tells many other stories about the Cubs and the field.  This includes providing the background to the book and movie, The Natural. (65-67); how Jack Ruby was a vendor at Wrigley’s before moving to Texas where he shot Lee Harvey Oswald (90); of Ray Kroc selling paper cups to Wrigley’s before starting McDonalds (91); and Ronald Reagan broadcasting Cub games in Iowa via teletype. (93).
            Wrigley’s field was the last major league ballpark to install lights.  Will notes that one of the reason was the local bars, who liked day games so that the fans would stop off at the bar for drinks and food after the game was over.  It is also one of the few stadiums to hold on to the organ and to shun more electronic means of music and scoreboards.  Other topics that Will covered included race relations and baseball in Chicago.  Some of the earlier leaders of the team were racists, which is ironic since the most famous Cub was Ernie Banks, an African-American.  Another famous Cub was Manager Leo Durocher, known for saying “nice guys finish last.”  This is another myth that Will shatters, noting that Durocher was speaking of the Giants and said, “All nice guys.  They’ll finish last” and journals “improved on his quote.” (108)  He also noted that Durocher didn’t like Ernie Banks.  “You could say about Ernie that he never remembered a sign or forgot a newspaperman’s name,” Durocher said. (112)
            The last part of the book is mostly philosophical as Will explores the role tribalism plays into our love of sports, the beauty of which “is its absence of meaning.” (188)

            I don’t always agree with George Will’s politics, but I share a love of baseball and enjoyed reading this book.  I had picked it up a few months ago and it was just what I needed as my concentration was greatly reduced due to my torn quad tendon.  If you don’t mind Will’s myth-busting, you’ll find this book to be a gem.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Monday morning wrap-up on Tuesday evening...

Tomorrow morning I am going in to have my quad tendon reattached to my knee…  Wish me luck.  I will be on crutches for at least six more weeks and in rehab even longer as I regain usage of my leg.

I haven’t felt much like writing this past week (and there have been no adventures).  It has been all I can do to maintain enough of a schedule to do what I needed to do for work.  Everything takes time on crutches and just getting dressed is exhausting.  For someone who likes to be active, this is a bummer!   I do now have a handicap sticker!

Speaking of bummers.  Although I liked some of David Bowie’s music and was sai to learn of his demise, he was never a favorite.  But the Eagles were the soundtrack of my youth and more than one person in my past suggested that “Desperado” should be my theme song.  I’ve often felt that I was living“Life in the Fast Lane” and at times I wondered if I'd checked into “Hotel California,” where I could check out whenever I wanted, but could never leave.  Then I could relax and “chill out” to “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Take it Easy.”  The death of Glen Frey caused me to pause and realize the years are moving along way too fast.

I won’t mention the Steelers, but am taking consolation in the realization that spring training isn’t too far off in the future.  I just finished a reading George Will’s book on Wrigley’s Field and maybe after my drug-induced surgery stupor wears off, I’ll write a review.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bad tattoos and a bum leg

Last week, I was traveling in traffic and the car in front of me had a bumper sticker that read:

Bad tattoos make Baby Jesus cry.
                  -Resurrection Ink

I posted a comment about it on Facebook, asking if people thought it was blasphemy.  In a weird way, I thought it was funny, but bordering on blasphemy and bad taste.  Truthfully, as a baby, Jesus probably didn’t care about ink and as Lord cares more about what’s in one’s heart than what is on one skin.  However, as a personal confession, I have not been a big fan of ink since the 9th grade when I fell asleep in a class and Mike drew on my arm.  I must have been sound asleep for when I woke, there was drawings up and down my exposed forearm.  Obviously, there wasn't much going on in this class!  I don’t mind small discrete tattoos on people, but don’t find large tattoos particularly attractive.  To each their own, I suppose.  What’s your take on this bumper sticker?  

On Saturday, I was planning on sailing on a friend’s boat when I had an accident.  It was misty so the deck was slippery.  We were hosting the jib.  I was pulling down on the halyard that became stuck so I put more weight onto the line.  It broke free and I slipped, but my left foot got caught on a block and I twisted back against the rail.  With my left leg immobile, my weigh pushed back on it and I felt something snap.  Pain shot through my body and it took all my strength to grab the rail and not fall overboard.  I was pulled back on board, but couldn’t move my left leg.  Thankfully, I did not break a bone as I had feared, but I did do something to the muscle or tendons.  The Emergency Room referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, gave me drugs, and told me to keep my leg elevated and iced for at least 48 hours.  Hopefully, it is a bad bruise and not a torn ACL.  I’ll find out this week.  

UPDATE:  It didn't take the orthopedic surgeon very long to suggest that my problem is a torn quad and that I need surgery.  

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The week's round-up

Welcome to the New Year!  I arrived back in Savannah in time to watch Michigan State drown in a red tide at the Cotton Bowl, a spectacle that hasn’t been seen since Pharaoh’s army chased Moses and the Hebrew people through the Red Sea.  Undersea warfare would not be perfected until the beginning of the 20th Century, something Pharaoh became painfully aware of, even though the Confederacy did sink a Yankee ship with the Huntley in Charleston harbor.   The past few days back in Savannah have been filled with excited things like cleaning out and painting a quarter of the garage (this will be done in stages), sailing, answering fire calls (although I missed a real fire due to work), and a return to my regular job…  My only real gripe was the faulty fire alarm that went off in a house where no one was home at 5:45 AM on New Year's Day!  Really?  But a faithful group of red-eyed volunteers showed up and checked it out and made sure there was no fire before heading back to bed.

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I enjoyed my time in the Old North State, even though many of my hours were spent working in my parents yard.  My daughter and I drove up the day after Christmas (she has always been fun to travel with, but it's even nicer now that she can drive!).   I got to see both of my parents often, who were living at different wings of a skilled nursing facility: my dad in rehab and my mom in the regular wing.  I also got to see my siblings and spent an afternoon on a boat with my brother, wearing shorts which seems odd in late-December.  We even got in and out of the boat on Masonboro Island without boots, for the water was still warm.  Watching folks do the “polar plunge here in Georgia where the water temperature is still warmer than Lake Michigan in August was a bit of a joke.  But even in Michigan, where they normally have to cut holes in the ice on Gun Lake with a chainsaw for the polar plunge, there was no ice.  Weird weather we’re having.

After spending time at my parents, my daughter and I headed across the state to visit my uncle and my grandmother.  Along the way, we stopped in Raleigh to visit Judy (her original blog was Kenju, now she blogs at Just Ask Judy) one of my longtime blogger friends.  We spent an enjoyable hour and a half talking to Judy and Mr. Kenju about many things including Georgetown basketball (Mr. Kenju played for Georgetown in the early 1960s).  Judy is a talented florist and you may have remembered my admiration of her posts about decorating the governor's mansion in Raleigh.)  I would have enjoyed staying longer, but we still had a long drive in the rain to get to Hickory, so we bid them farewell and continued to drive into the sunset (which was well concealed behind the clouds).   And that, my friends, was my last week in a nutshell. 

I hope you are enjoying your New Year!
Heading back after yesterday's races
Winter sailing without foul-weather gear!