October Gratitude

On October 29, I am grateful for these — collected over the course of the month.

  1. Harvest time
  2. A few stalks left behind
  3. Airports
  4. A full-circle rainbow seen from above
  5. Tennessee sunrise
  6. A quiet place to stay
  7. That bald-headed guy resting his arm on the chair (below)
  8. The woman in the middle in the greenish shirt (above) (Her eyes always sparkle.)
  9. Dining with friends
  10. A new book
  11. An afternoon walking around a mall with a friend (sorry, no picture)
  12. The Dalek I saw there
  13. A bald eagle sighting
  14. A new job
  15. Chipmunks in the house (only the tail visible here)
  16. Mice trapped in an empty can and released into the wild
  17. Beautiful sunsets
  18. A girl to take the picture for me while I drive (rearview mirror)
  19. Late autumn colors
  20. The way the afternoon sun hits the hills
  21. Concentric spiky circles
  22. Apples
  23. Pears
  24. Hallmark movies
  25. Family humor
  26. A funny sign
  27. A visit from my grandson (the walker isn’t his)
  28. My father and my grandson playing together
  29. A military funeral (no photo, but a memory I’ll hold onto)

How has your October been?

 

A is for Appetite (Or, 5 Things About Zombies)

Please forgive this post. I blame it on my brother and the fact that I’ve been struggling to write.

“Why don’t you write ’10 Things About Zombies’?” my brother suggested.

“I don’t know ten things about zombies,” I said.

“Make them up,” he said, but I couldn’t think of anything.

“Zombies are dead,” I told him.

“You need to come up with something more interesting,” he replied.

Exactly.

So I tried.

I came up with five facts, but the first one is really a correction.

Zombie Fact #1: Zombies are not dead; they are undead.

Cee Neuner is starting a weekly photo challenge called “Alphabet with a Twist.”  For the next 26 weeks, she’ll feature a different letter ~~ with a twist ~~ for her Fun Foto Challenge.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little twisted myself — but, I felt like I could commit to this challenge.

A (with a twist) is Ap. The photo needs to feature something that begins with the letters “Ap.”

I’m adding my own second requirement for this challenge. I’m going to use old family pictures.

Zombie Fact #2: Zombies don’t like to be photographed. Most zombie photos are staged and not real.

A few years ago, I started scanning my father’s slides to get them into a digital format. All of the photographs in this post were taken by my father before I was even born. Not staged. 100% real. No zombies.

So…. A is for Appetite.

Zombie Fact #3: Zombies like watermelon.

Watermelon is red and juicy. If you look at zombie pictures (which I know are staged) they often have red juicy stuff running down their chin. Watermelon, while not the consistency of brains or flesh, looks appetizing enough to fool your average zombie.

My mother told me that watermelon was sometimes soothing for a child that was teething. I like to think that’s why she was feeding it to Stewart in this picture, but she may have kept watermelon on hand in case of zombie attack.

Stewart eating watermelon

Zombie Fact #4: Zombies are delighted when they see a baby with food on his or her face.

Zombies really aren’t so different from the rest of us. What parent hasn’t taken a picture of junior with spaghetti on his head or chocolate ice cream smeared all over his face?

For zombies, though, they find it attractive because they identify with it. Most zombies have lost their swallow reflex. Remember the zombie pictures with red liquid dripping down their chin? Well, they can’t help it. Their swallow reflex died with them and didn’t come back to life. That’s why they talk the way they do. That’s why they eat the way they do. When they see a baby with food all over his face, they think he’s one of them. They feel a kinship.

Stewart with food on his face

This can actually be used to a family’s advantage when under attack. Hold the food-covered baby in plain view while the rest of the family slowly backs out of a room invaded by zombies. The zombies will be so enamored that they won’t attack. Once everyone is out the room. Shut the door and run.

This is a picture of my mother feeding Stewart.

He doesn’t have anywhere near enough food on his face to distract zombies. It’s okay. He lived his whole life without a single zombie attack.

My mother and my oldest brother have both passed away but they will never be zombies, because —

Zombie Fact #5: A person who lives a life of service to others can never become a zombie.

My mother and my brother both gave freely and generously of themselves. It’s like a zombie vaccine.

This should serve as a reminder to all.

We should be kind.

We should be generous.

We should put others first.

— if for no other reason than it will keep us from being zombies.

 

 

Free Parking — Then and Now

When we lived down the road from the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, we offered free parking.

Free — no strings attached — just free.

2005 

We generally had quite a few takers. We were, after all, less than half a mile from the site.

But we sold that house in 2006 and my brother, 2 miles from the ceremony site, took up the task.

He offers free parking AND a free shuttle.

2017

He even offered free water and hot dogs, although they didn’t make the sign.

This year, he had only three takers. To be fair, it was a smaller crowd than some of the past years.

Two guys pulled up and asked what the deal was.

“You can park here for free,” my son said, “and we give you a ride to and from the ceremony.”

“What’s the catch?” the man asked.

“No catch. My family just likes to do nice things,” my son replied.

They parked.

My brother drove them in and gave them a paper with his phone number on it so they could call when they were ready to be picked up. They called when it was over, he picked them up, and that was it.

Really. No strings.

In the next few years, the crowds may be larger.

Derek Jeter will probably set some records. Yankees support their own.

But then, so do the Red Sox, and David Ortiz will probably go in the year after Jeter.

Free parking may be more appealing when no other parking is available.


On an unrelated note, on Induction Sunday, I decided to walk home from church — about 2 1/2 miles — to take some pictures of the crowds.

Of course, I forgot all about the crowds when I walked down the path and instead took pictures of my favorite bridge.

Some things about Cooperstown (or me) don’t change. I’ve been taking pictures of this bridge for years. It’s always beautiful.

the bridge on Hall of Fame Induction weekend 2017

the bridge on Hall of Fame Induction weekend 2005

the bridge on Hall of Fame Induction weekend 2017

the bridge on Hall of Fame Induction weekend 2005

#pastmeetspresent

New Use for an iPod

For a couple of years, my father kept saying, “I need one of those things,” and he would mimic someone holding a device in their hand and tapping on the screen.

We tried to convince him that an iPad would work well for him — it’s bigger and does a lot of the same things — but no dice. He was sure he needed a smart phone.

Last summer one of my sons upgraded from a iPod Touch to an iPhone, so we gave his iPod to my father. We could connect it to wi-fi in the house and it would function in basically the same way as a phone. My son set up an iTunes account for him, and I had my sister send him his one and only message.

At 87, this is one new trick the old dog can’t learn.

It sits on his tray table. I charge it about once a week for him. The one time I forgot, he told me that we needed to buy new batteries for it. Modern technology is hard for an older person to understand — even the basics of recharging a device.

But every day, he picks it up and pushes the home button. I put a picture of my mother on his lock screen.

“Good morning, Elinor,” he says, and then he sets it down.

I think he finds some security in seeing her face each day.

He found a use for the iPod I wouldn’t have guessed.

Play Your Game

I’m a fan of the synchronized sports shot.

DSC04028

Karl (dark 14) and opposing 14 running for the ball

This is probably one of my favorite pictures of Karl playing soccer because he and the other player are right at the same place in their stride.

I loved watching Karl play soccer.

dsc01262

Karl and Michael — high school doubles

Tennis was fun, too.

Karl and Michael made a good doubles team. In the picture, they’re sort of synchronized — weight on the left foot, backhand ready.

They did pretty well at tennis — for a couple of soccer players. Against the odds.

I heard their tennis coach give them the same advice over and over that year. “Just play your game,” he told them.

“Their game” was a fairly simple one. Return the ball.

While their opponents were trying to put spin and speed on the ball, not always very successfully, Karl and Michael simply returned the ball. Over. And over. And over.

Sometimes it aggravated their opponents. You could see them thinking, What the heck?! These yahoos don’t know squat about real tennis.

But Michael and Karl knew how to return the ball.

When one of them tried to get fancy, it inevitably failed. Coach would call them over. “Just play your game,” he reminded them.

It worked until they encountered a team whose skill was so superior that neither of them could return the ball. (See “Laughter“)

Coach’s advice was such good advice.

Be you.

Lean in to your strengths.

Don’t worry too much about what others are doing.

Play your game.

November

“Did I do anything for your last birthday?” I asked Laurel this morning.

I honestly couldn’t remember. Laurel’s birthday and my mother’s deathday were too close together.

“Uh-huh,” she answered. “You made rice.”

Not really sure that will win me any parenting awards. Rice. In the microwave.

But it is one of her favorites.

November was a blur.

“Did I buy you any presents?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she answered. “Pajamas.”

At least it wasn’t socks and underwear.

Wait — maybe I got her those, too, and she was too polite to tell me.

I remember so little of that month.

Did we celebrate Thanksgiving? Did I make the turkey?

What did I do for the 30 days that November hath?

I looked through the pictures on my computer for clues.

Here is the story they told:

On the day my mother died, I noticed the sunset. IMG_7769 (1)

My sister and I helped my father.

Donabeth, Dad, and me

On Laurel’s birthday, I went for a walk.

The stone bridge

I made the previously mentioned rice — and some chicken to go with it. Broccoli, too, but it didn’t make the photo.

Birthday dinner

The kids played cards (probably while I was making rice).IMG_0340

And all through November, life continued.

Family gathered.

Jacob, Henry, Laurel

We played games.

Family games

I sat at the Columbarium.

The Columbarium

Laurel swam.

Swimming

I noticed a sunrise.

Sunrise

And I’m pretty sure we had Thanksgiving.IMG_7874

 

 

Swimming Posters

I loved the idea of reenacting a piece of art for this week’s photo challenge: Life Imitates Art

But what to do?

I asked Laurel if she would sit on my lap and put her hand on my cheek, like a Mary Cassatt painting, but she said no. It probably would have looked kind of strange anyway. She may be my baby, but she’s taller than me now.

So — swimming. I decided to ask my swimmers to recreate some swimming posters.

This one — Michael Phelps doing streamline — I just wanted them to see. Streamline is such a foundational skill. We work on it from Day 1 of swim season — and still, about half look nothing like this, hand over hand, squeezing the head.

Michael Phelps — Streamline

I stood on the balcony and took pictures of each swimmer leaving the wall in streamline. For you photo-geeks, all I have is a little Sony Cyber-shot that I bought on sale at Target for $59. I guess you get in clarity what you pay for.

DSC05572 (1)

Streamline

Still, it was a great learning experience for the kids. I showed each one the picture I had taken of them and we talked about how they could make their streamlines even better.

For fun, at the end of practice, we tried to recreate another swim poster.

I pulled our little Kodak PlaySport out of retirement (it can take underwater photographs), charged it up, and prayed that it would work.  Laurel was the photographer as each one of my swimmers did a cannonball off the diving board. This was the best shot.

Cannonball!

Cannonball!

Or this one.

Cannonball!!

Cannonball!!

So — thank you Daily Post for the photo challenge. I may not be much of a photographer, but this was fun.