Is This Thing On?  


I notice that it's only been about 2 years since I've posted on here. I didn't even know if I still have an active account, but I guess the blog world doesn't delete you. I seem to have missed a few things over the past months. I know one thing I will have to buy the book that Momma Fargo has out there (how else will it become a best seller).

  So a few updates....My father is doing great after his double lung transplant. He visits the doctors once every 3 months just to make sure but they have told him that barring some strange illness the grumpy old man could well outlive the rest of us. My kids are growing up and that sucks. My youngest is going to enter middle school next year and that means that he won't like me for much longer. My middle son is soon to be a sophomore and he of course knows more than his crusty old boring parents ever did. My oldest is pursuing a culinary career and so far so good (fingers are crossed as are toes).

  Other than that life goes on. I get older and (wider) wiser. Softball is still a part of the picture although I'm not sure how I've managed to keep that one going. I notice all the tragic things that have been going on and it always makes me want to jump on here and voice my opinion. I find that I'm at a loss for words for these things that have been happening. The shootings and the kidnappings and now the natural disasters. It's all emotion and I find no voice to say how devastating it all is to me. BUT this is therapy and one way or another I feel better after at least attempting to get my thoughts in some semblance of order and put them on here. We have family in Oklahoma and we have been very fortunate that they are OK. Phone calls were the order of the day as we tried desperately to find out any information, but the calls came and everybody is scared but safe.

Ms. A ....All I can say is I'm praying for you guys. I'm truly sorry that your son has to go through this and I will keep praying for him until he is better...He is certainly lucky he has you to look out for him. I enjoy looking at your pictures on your blog and they definitely lift my spirits so thank you!

It's funny how a few lines typed can lift your spirits. The blogosphere is truly therapy. I'm going to have to get on here just a bit more for the sake of my sanity!

Summer Days  

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Summer is supposed to be a nice time when you can get together with family and friends and enjoy a barbecue or a ball game with some ice cream and an iced tea (or a beer). It's about enjoying the ability to be outside and doing things when everybody has a little break from stuff.

OK so not many people get a break during the summer from work, but it is a time when the kiddos are off school so they get to complain that there is nothing to do all summer long until the last week. Then they find about 100 things to do and complain on the night before school starts again that the summer went by too dang fast.

I've noticed an unfortunate part of my end of summer days. It's the anniversary of many friends and family that have passed on. To say that it leaves me with a feeling of melancholy is sometimes an understatement. I realized that as I'm getting older the list of people I've said goodbye to is growing (and much too quickly).

On the all powerful facebook I saw a friend from a post remembering a friend of ours that passed some 21 years ago. It was followed by a post from one of his friends talking of a friend that passed within days of that person but 2 years later. This was followed by another and another. I didn't realize it until I was reading that post that I knew about 10 people that have passed within a few days of each other and a dozen years apart.

That of course got me to thinking of other friends I've lost over the years. Not to mention family. I'm from an Italian family and one thing we know how to do is well have big families. Many memories are of older relatives from my childhood. They would all sit around at my cousins house for a family get together eating pasta and arguing. Looking back it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

It also got me to thinking about all the things left unsaid between me and my friends and family that have passed. I am fortunate that my list is not all that long, but nonetheless there are regrets for comments not made (and even for a few made in haste).

The only point I have to this rambling post is remember that our time is short and it's precious. Use it wisely and never take any of it for granted. I received a sharp reminder of that from a simple post this morning and I will make sure I'm talking to mom and dad today. Funny how it doesn't take much to get us moving in the right direction.

Weekends At The Beach!  

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I've decided I like the fact that we aren't having a devastating summer here in California. It's been fairly mild compared to most of the country. We haven't had that many days over a hundred and now entering the "hottest" part of our summer I was ready for the heat wave to begin.

Our heat wave consisted of 6 days over 100 and only 2 of them hit 107. For the Central Valley that is a laugh. We are used to many days strung together over 100 and many of them reach the 110 mark. This year wasn't that way and I decided that even though it wasn't devastating here in the valley, the coast would still be nicer so we headed to Santa Cruz for the weekend to visit with the rest of my family as they were enjoying their vacation (Work has been so hectic we didn't get a proper vacation).

So thankfully the day we left town it was about 104 and I was looking forward to the comparative cool that was sure to come when we got over the Hill. I wasn't disappointed. Not more than an hour and a half from home the temperature dropped to a beautiful 68 degrees with a nice little breeze blowing. It was perfect with the sun shining and all. Perfect beach weather and we hadn't even reached the beach yet.

another hour of driving and we showed up at mom and dad's vacation house. This was the view I got to enjoy for 3 days (was supposed to be only 2).

We didn't need to go anywhere or do anything as far as I was concerned. The kids felt otherwise so we got to take a few trips to the boardwalk and the pier. All in all it was a great time and I can see how just a short break can really recharge the batteries.

The boys had an awesome time so now I just have to figure out a way to get a job that takes me this way on a regular basis. I could really get to like this coastal life.

Softball update..We totally sucked last week and got slaughtered, but hey we have out whole team back this week so it's game on now!!

The 40 Something Ball Player  

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Well I noticed that I still have some followers so that means one of two things have happened. One you were waiting patiently for my return to see if I had anything else to say or two you were too lazy to stop following. Regardless of the reason, you are still here so I figured I could drop in myself.

Well at last post my son was playing baseball. He had a pretty decent season and he truly enjoys the game as much as dad (thank you God). We took 2nd place and that's pretty decent. Lost the championship game but the boys played their hearts out. Just wasn't meant to be this time. He is already enrolled in Fall Ball and excited as can be to get started.

I figured that I was done with my ball playing days. After all I'm almost 44 and broken down to the nth degree. What could I possibly have to prove? I figure that by now if there is something I haven't accomplished on the ball field it's just not gonna happen. So what keeps dragging my sorry old butt out there to play again? I am gonna go with ignorance. My friends tell me that it's just my first love and I can never let it go completely (that's why they made the Wii).

So a co-worker tells me about this co-ed league he is in and he says "you'll love it, it's really low key and everybody just hangs out after the games. We are just there for a little fun, nothing too serious." I'm thinking that is just for me. No serious running and no serious attitude. I forgot this is me and I'm not made that way. I play to win, regardless if it's co-ed, men's league, little league, or eventually nursing home league. I don't like to lose and I especially don't like to lose because of something I did.

First sign that this wasn't gonna be so good. The second practice we had. I realized that I still have the ability to play and as I get older I can hit the ball much further and harder than in the past (could be the extra 25 lbs.) I'm enjoying myself to no end on the field just fielding grounders and hitting the ball to the fence and then disaster struck. I come flying around (trotting) 3rd base and hit the base wrong. There goes the hammy. No big deal though, it was just a slight pull and I let up when I felt it. No real damage done. Next at bat I crushed it ( I really did) and as I'm admiring the shot down third base line as it heads for the fence I ....fall on the way to first base. Apparently everybody but me was focusing on the first base line and I tripped...down I go. Hurt the hammy a bit more, but even worse the knee is swollen like the softball I just hit. I'm relagated to 1st base in the field and a courtesy runner if I'm lucky enough to limp to first after hitting it.

Nobody really laughed at me when that happened (not to my face at least). It only took me 3 weeks to recover from something that used to take 3 days. but hey I'm still walking and I've decided that I have to come to grips with the fact that I'm not 25 anymore. I've learned to hit far and run slow. I've also learned that infield is not that bad after all even for an old outfielder. We are doing pretty good, and I'm thinking that if I can just keep from falling down anymore I might even try this again next year.

On a side note. My dad is doing really well since his transplant. My parents went on vacation last week to Santa Cruz and my dad was able to walk up and down the hills without any problems whatsoever. In fact I had more difficulty than he did. Of course I didn't tell him that and I sure didn't let on that it was killing me to walk a step ahead of him all the while telling the old man to hurry it up.

so 7 more weeks of softball and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If I get up the nerve I'm gonna take a couple of pictures of a game. That should be good for a laugh for anybody who looks at it.

Play ball!!

What Matters Most?  

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It's coming on that time of year again....

BASEBALL!!!! I'm gonna see my first love once again. Baseball was the first thing I found in my life that made me forget about my appetite, made me forget about the TV. It made me forget homework, school work, girls, cars, and everything in between. Am I a fan of any team? Sure, but I'm not the true armchair fan that some are. I'm a fan of the GAME. Little League, High School, College, or Pro I could care less. I will go watch softball as quickly as I'll go watch a pro game.

My youngest son decided that he was going to play this year and I can't even put into words how excited I was to hear that he was going to give it a shot. He played T-Ball for a few years and was pretty bored with it but because he is so dang small we were a bit nervous about him playing last year. This year he wouldn't be restrained and we relented. He is doing fine and as far as athletic ability goes, he has more than enough. So now my quandry begins.

He was picked by a team here in town. The coach is a fellow who has never played the game before. His son is playing and he wanted to be involved. I say great. So he has a couple other people helping him and they didn't play either. There is one woman out there that played ball and she seems to know what to do, but it's very hard for one person to go around helping everybody.

I coached and managed baseball and T-ball for many years. We won a few championships along the way too. More importantly my players almost all played ball at high school and a dozen or so played college. We even had one get to AA ball. I always felt that the important thing was to develop their love for the game and the rest comes after that. if you don't appreciate it, you don't have the drive to get better. You have to want to play to become a player.

So enter my son's coach. Non-player coach is trying. I give him credit for stepping out on the field to try this. It's never easy to go outside your comfort zone. He is definitely not in that comfort zone. He is reading books and watching video to get ideas for coaching tips. I've decided to stay out of it and just cheer my son on. Tonight that became very difficult. We have gone to the batting cage or played ball in the backyard and the ball park for years. I've pitched to the boys for a good long time and have always shown them the proper way to hold a bat, how to stand and how to use their lower body to generate some power. Tonight my son was given a different batting stance and a different way to hold the bat. It looked awkward and he did poorly. I understand that it's the first time he tried it, but it's wrong and I admit I was tempted to say something. I zipped my lip and let him try it the way the coach said.

After practice I spoke with my son about the way he batted and he informed me that it was the way the coach told him to hit. His coach said this would help him see the ball better and some other crap that I disagreed with. I asked my boy if he liked it and he said no. I explained to him what the new stance he was in was (open stance) and I also explained to him why some pro players use that stance. He then explained to me that he wasn't a pro and wanted to know why the coach had him stand that way. I opened a can of worms without really trying to. I told my boy to give it one more try in practice and this weekend we would try it, but if it doesn't work for him he doesn't have to keep using it.

My quandry....What is the most important part of baseball? Is it learning the fundamentals? Is it learning the love of the game? Is it just to get out their and try your best? I think it's all of the above. Unfortunately I think that coaches who try to coach without understanding the game do a great disservice to those kids they are trying to teach. If you want to help out I think that's great, but if you don't know what you are doing don't offer to run a team. And shame on the league for letting somebody with absolutely no knowledge of the game having control of a team. Let them be assistants, but don't let them run it.

Time will tell how the season will go. I just hope at the end of the day my son still has an appreciation for this great great game. A bright spot has been my middle son has found a little spark of interest in ball again as well. Fingers are crossed that when the season tryouts open for his age group he will decide that he wants to give it another shot.

I don't care if my kids are ever great ball players. I do care if they like the game or not. I want to be able to sit down and watch a game with the boys and have a good ol' fashioned argument about if the runner should steal of if the guy was out at third. That can only happen if they, like me decide that this is a pretty great game. I just worry that a few bad experiences at a young age could wipe out that possibility.

Little League Here We Come!!!!


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I made mention of the fact that my father was in need of some serious medical help a while back. He was on the list for a lung transplant. A double lung transplant actually. Three months had gone by with not much information and hope was fading fairly fast for him. Not that he was getting worse physically but his state of mind was not good. He was more and more worried that he wasn't going to get that call.

Well this past weekend he got that call. They called Friday night and told him to get up to the hospital as soon as possible. For my parents that is about a 3 hour drive. I was called and they left. I showed up the next morning and spoke with pop briefly. He seemed more relaxed than any of us and I figured that since he only had to worry about himself and nobody else he was finally able to be at a little peace. The doctors told him that they would operate that afternoon, then they told him late that night. He told me that it was definitely unsettling to realize that he was essentially waiting for someone else to die so that he would have a chance to live. It put a different perspective on this whole procedure to be sure. Not that we didn't understand that going in, it's just that when it comes down to it, you have to come to grips with it.

Late Saturday night the procedure was started and about 6 in the morning the surgeon came out (one of the surgeons) to tell us that the procedure was successful and he already had more strength in his new lungs than he did in the old ones. A collective sigh of relief went up from all of us at that simple fact. Then we were given all the other info, but truth be told I didn't listen to it all. I was just happy with the fact that my father had made it through the first stage of his fight. The rest would come in due time and we would be there for him.

The next couple of days were stressful for us as well as him. He is doing well so far, but we understand this is just the earliest of stages for him and the real work is yet to come. He has a a handful of pills a day to look forward to for the rest of his life and compared to the alternative that is not a bad thing.

I spoke with pop for a little bit when he was still in ICU and he told me that he didn't know how to feel about this "gift" he had received. He understood that the person who donated the lungs was a fairly young person and that gave him pause and he told me he didn't know how much he wanted to know. It was a little bit of guilt that he was feeling and although I didn't totally understand (how could I) I still got the sense of where he was coming from. I tried to explain to him that yes he did recieve this at somebody else's expense but he didn't cause what happened to them. Our whole family are set up as donors and someday if I meet an untimely end somebody else may be able to benefit from what I can leave behind as well.

I'm just amazed that we have technology that allows my family to keep my father around for a while longer. However long that may be is not important. It feels like we have been given a second chance and I for one am more than grateful.

To the family that lost their loved one all I can say is know that from your tragedy something good came. I'm so very sorry for your loss, but I'm so very thankful for what I received. The feeling is truly overwhelming.

So we begin our plans for the next three months and hope that pop will respond to all the treatments as well as he has to everything else so far. The man is pretty stubborn and resilient for 64 years old.

If you have an inside track with the man upstairs throw a good word in for pop, and throw another in for the generous soul who had the forsight to realize that in their tragedy they could offer up hope to another family who had none.