1969 – MY FAVORITE YEAR

1969 was the year I learned to fly. The world spun faster on its axis. Everything changed.

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it unfold. I was a new mommy with a 2 months old baby boy. Home with the baby and not working or in school, I had time to see it happen.

English: Neil Armstrong descending the ladder ...

I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Imagine, a real live man on the moon!

We viewed it on CBS. It was obvious Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there too. Up there, with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement, almost in tears, his voice breaking with emotion.

The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for that historic broadcast. Neil Armstrong died last year. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero.

How I envied him his trip to the moon. I always tell my husband that no man will ever take me away from him, but if the Mother Ship comes and offers me a trip to the stars, sorry bub, I’m outta here. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, but if they could do it on Cocoon, maybe there’s time for me, too. Maybe Garry can come with me.

Woodstock was just a month away and there were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert that was going to happen upstate. I had friends who had tickets and were going. I was busy with the baby and wished them well.

There were hippies giving out flowers in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. But I didn’t envy them because I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and in some ways, happier than at anytime since.

I was young, still healthy. I believed we would change the world, end war, make the world a better place. I still thought the world could be changed. All we had to do was love one another and join together to make it happen. Vietnam was in high gear, but we believed it was going to end any day … and though we soon found out how terribly wrong we were, for a little bit of time, we saw the future brightly and full of hope.

I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now” which I first hear sung by the Holy Modal Rounders at a local folk music club. They had been the stonedest group of people I’d ever met, but the song was a great lullaby and made my baby boy laugh. 

It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. A World Series win. 1969. What a year. I rocked my son to sleep and discovered Oktoberfest beer. New York went crazy for the Mets. It should have been the Dodgers, but they’d abandoned us for the west coast.

I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.

Music was wonderful. How young we were! How sure we could do anything, everything.

We were going to end war … end THE war … right every wrong. As we found the peak, we would almost immediately drop back into a darker valley. But for a year, a happy year, the stars aligned and everything was good.

Decades passed; youth was a long time ago. The drugs we take control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. They aren’t any fun at all.

I worry about Social Security and Medicare and I know I’m not going to fix what’s wrong with the world. I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is barely younger than I was then.

I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President … but 1969 remains my year.

DAILY PROMPT: TOO CLOSE TO CALL

The collapsed Cypress Street Viaduct at the No...

October 17, 1989 — Moments before game three of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, fans were thrown from their seats at Candlestick Park as the Loma Prieta earthquake brought the Bay Area to its knees.

Players rushed to their families, cradling their children on the field. Outside, the Bay Bridge collapsed and the Marina burst into flames. The quake shook for 15 seconds and reached 6.9 on the Richter Scale – the largest San Francisco had seen since the devastating earthquake of 1906. When the night was through, 63 people were dead, 3,757 were injured and thousands were left homeless. – Huffington Post, October 17, 2012

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Aerial view of roadbed collapse near the interface of the cantilever and truss sections of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (AKA “The Bay Bridge”)

I was at Garry’s place. Boston. I’d just gotten back from the coast. Oakland, where I was working a free-lance job with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), the water and sewer company which serves Berkeley and Oakland. I’d come home early because I had caught the flu and wanted nothing more than hot soup, sympathy, a bed and a pillow.

Garry added to that watching the World Series. Baseball fanatic that he is, he never misses it, even when our team is not involved. He loves not just our team, but the game.

I was already in bed, propped up on pillows. The game started, then there was some kind of ruckus and then a picture of a bridge, one section collapsed.

I knew that bridge. I’d been driving across it, back and forth, then getting onto the 880 to Oakland from Berkeley.

“Hey,” I called, “Garry! The Bay Bridge is down!” He came in.

“You sure?” he asked.

“I’ve been taking that bridge every day for the past few weeks. I’d know it anywhere. What’s going on out there? Earthquake?”

This was CNN’s big moment, the event that put it on the media map because they were the first on the scene, the first with pictures. More information started to come in. The Bay Bridge had partially fallen. Worse, the upper level of route 880 had collapsed, trapping commuters in their cars underneath.

If I hadn’t gotten sick, if I hadn’t come back to Boston early, I would have been one of those commuters … or on the bridge.

That was a close one. Too close.

WINNERS OF THE 2013 WORLD SERIES, RED SOX DO IT AT FENWAY IN 6!!!

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It’s only been 95 years … just a blip on the monitor of history. But it’s been a long wait for Red Sox fans, to see them win a World Series in Fenway Park. Tonight the magic worked. The third series in a decade and the first clinch of the Series at home. WE DID IT!

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GO SOX! UP THREE TO TWO AND BACK TO FENWAY!

WAY TO GO!

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Back to Fenway on Wednesday!

Big Papi was okay on first … surprise! What a great series this is turning out to be. Who really thought we’d take two out of three in St. Louis? Wonders never cease.

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42 – The Story of An American Legend. The Story of America.

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We meant to see this one in the theatre, but time slipped away and by the time we were ready to go, it was gone. But that turned out to be fine, because we have a wide-screen television and surround. I bought the movie and we got a private screening. Time for baseball and history. Not only baseball. Not only history.

The integration of sports is taken so much for granted today, younger generations can’t imagine when it was any other way. This is the movie that shows how it happened. It’s a movie about many things.

It’s the story of how and why Jackie Robinson became the first non-white player in Major League Baseball. How this began the integration of all professional sports. It was the beginning of modern baseball as well as the first significant move toward real integration.

That it was our original home town team, the Brooklyn Dodgers makes the story more personal for us. Branch Rickey, owner of the Dodgers, decided it was time to make a difference. Because he could, he changed the world. Harrison Ford as Mr. Rickey mumbles. He’s also real, touching, human. He actually made me cry. Harrison Ford is not known for nuanced performances, but he gives one in this movie.

JrobinsonI commented that Harrison used to be President, not to mention Indiana Jones. Garry pointed out that owning the Dodgers was far more important. I agreed. Because Garry and I agree: there’s nothing more important than baseball. Especially right now.

Chadwick Boseman bears a strong physical resemblance to Jackie Robinson. He doesn’t sound like him, but that’s quibbling. Nicole Beharie is a pretty good likeness of Rachel Isum Robinson. Who, as Garry pointed out, is even today, old as she is, one fine-looking woman. It was no accident Rickey chose a good-looking couple. He knew what they would be up against and it would be hard enough. Any small advantage they could gain by just being attractive … well, they were going to need it.

It’s hard for people brought up after the Civil Rights Amendment to understand the intensity of the hatred, anger and rage bringing a Black man into baseball caused.

It was 1947, the year I was born. The big war in Europe was over and returning Black soldiers were appalled and enraged that the service to their nation had done nothing to alleviate the oppression of Jim Crow laws. Segregation was not merely as bad as it had been. It was worse. Returning Black soldiers made racists all over America nervous that their position of supremacy was being threatened.

It would take 20 years to make get a civil rights amendment to the Constitution. Twenty more to make it real and twenty-five years more to get a non-white President into office. It will probably take another twenty before people stop noticing race … if indeed they ever do. Race and the judgments we make based on skin color are so ingrained, so automatic, so very American.

More than apple pie or the flag, we the people love to hate. It’s the most universal of all human behaviors. Not our ability to love but our willingness to hate.

Chadwick Boseman not only looks like Jackie Robinson. He has his swing. I assume they taught him the swing, but they did it very well and really got that gritty baseball “feel” into the movie. Everyone plays their part with authenticity, as those of us old enough to remember the real guys can attest. Maybe that’s the problem with many of the critics: they never saw the real guys, met them, cheered for them. Lived and died with them through the long season of baseball. They don’t remember, but we do.

The cinematography is great, moving smoothly and naturally between wide and close shots to give you the feeling of the game and more. Nice, tight segues. What is even better captured is the intensity of the abuse Robinson was forced to put up with, to swallow without complaint while simultaneously playing at the top of his game. I’d like to see any modern player survive this.

In many ways, Robinson didn’t survive it. He lived through it, but it killed him from the inside. He blasted open the door of the future and it cost him dearly.

Why did Rickey do it? There was a strong moral component. Rickey believed it was the right thing to do and the right thing to do for baseball. But above all, it was a sound business decision. There was a huge pool of talent out there and the Dodgers needed all the help they could get. By bringing in first Jackie Robinson while simultaneously planning to bring up more Black players, Rickey figured he was going to do some serious winning. He was right.

Leo Derocher

Leo Derocher

Christopher Meloni, ex of Law and Order: SVU, nails Leo Durocher, the crazy, quirky Brooklyn Dodger’s manager. He actually looks like Durocher.

If you love baseball, see it. Even if you don’t love baseball, see it anyway. See it for the history, to remember how hard the battle for equal rights was, is and will continue to be. How much baseball, the American pastime, has always been at the center of the American experience.

And finally see it because it’s the story of a genuine red-blooded American hero. In every sense of the word.

From Garry Armstrong:

I have to admit I was tearing up in places even though there’s no cryin’ in baseball. Critics aside, this was no pleasant Hollywood fable but a fairly authentic account of Jackie Robinson, the man and the player and the times that swirled around him.

Much of this is first-hand recall for me. I was 5 years old and already a budding baseball fan in Brooklyn in 1947 when the young player wearing number 42 became a household name. I remember all the excitement in my neighborhood. Some of it I understood. Some of it I didn’t. The newspapers and radio were full of the Dodgers and Jackie Robinson and how what they were doing would perhaps cause problems all across the country.

I remember angry things shouted by White people we encountered. I recall some very nice comments offered by White people who frequently said Jackie Robinson was “a credit to your people.”

I followed the Dodgers very closely over the years. I knew their lineup by heart, could emulate their swings and could recite from memory details of their personal lives along with the baseball stuff. In later years, I’d have the good fortune to meet many of the Boys of Summer including Peewee, Campy, Big Newk, Ralphie Branca, Gil Hodges, The Duke (My hero) and Jackie Robinson.

Later, as a reporter, they gave me their own first hand accounts of what it was like – that memorable year of 1947. I would also hear from Red Barber, the legendary sportscaster who called almost all of the games during the ’47 season for the Dodgers. One poignant memory involves a conversation with Campy (Roy Campanella) and Jackie Robinson. I was now a young reporter and a familiar face to many of the aging Dodgers. Campy was always “the diplomat”, pleasant and smiling.

Jackie always seemed angry. I thought he was mad at me sometimes until Campy said he was just “Jackie being Jackie”. The conversation was about how young Black people conduct themselves. Jackie thought many were irresponsible. Campy said they were just kids doing what kids do. Jackie glared at Campy and then smiled at me saying. “You get it, don’t you?”. I just nodded.

Sorry I strayed from the movie but it evoked so many, many memories. And, thanks Harrison Ford, for a splendid portrayal of Branch Rickey!

IF YOU’RE FROM NEW YORK OF A CERTAIN AGE

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If you are from New York and any kind of baseball fan and a certain age — baby boomers or older — you remember the endless rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers (aka Dem Bums) and the Yankees.  It was  the signature of autumn, when the two teams faced off — with Brooklyn usually losing.

And then, the magical year … 1955. An unforgettable year. We got to listen to the games on the radio at school instead of our usual classes. It was so important, everyone listened from the principal to the littlest kindergartener.

It was part of growing up in New York. Autumn. Baseball and leaves crunching under your new school shoes.

VACATION REPORT: DAY 2 – RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

When you can’t fix it, you soldier on. Today, overcoming the series of blows that knocked out yesterday, we go forth to shop and take pictures of Cape Cod. If the Red Sox can survive last night’s defeat by Detroit, we can survive a cruddy tourist trap on Old Cape Cod.

The weather is with us, or it’s supposed to be. Hard to tell. Yesterday it was bright and beautiful early, but got dreary and chilly by early afternoon. Regardless, we’re out and about today.Until we get tired.

Ogunquit, September 2009

Ogunquit, September 2009

We’ve never had a bad vacation. Garry and I travel well together. We’ve been to awful hotels and had horrible airplane experiences.

Once, coming back from New Orleans, American cancelled our connecting flight (without so much as an explanation) and left us stranded in Atlanta.

On a flight from Israel to New York via London, British Airways left me sitting on my luggage (with all the other Israeli in-transit passengers) in Heathrow for 40 hours. It was supposed to be a 3-hour layover, but the plane broke down. BA had to bring a replacement from Italy. They didn’t even offer us cookies and tea. Or a comfortable lounge because we were merely coach passengers. It didn’t ruin my trip home, but I have never willingly flown British Airways again. I’m not quite that forgiving.

I remember when Garry and I were coming back from Florida and Delta left us sitting on the runway so long (in Philadelphia) one of the passengers went into a diabetic coma. We had to make an emergency landing in Baltimore, which was going backwards since we were in transit to Boston from Orlando.

Williamsburg 2012

Williamsburg 2012

Then there was my memorable flight between JFK and Logan, during which two out of four engines got taken out by lightning. I wasn’t sure I was going to ever see Garry again. Not to mention the poisonous mussels in Galway that left me unable to look at a mussel for the next ten years — that was our honeymoon. One vacation, I came down with German Measles but we just kept going because there wasn’t anything to be done about it anyhow.

We are, as I said, good travelers. We let bad stuff roll off and enjoy the rest. It’s hard to find anything good about this “resort,” but it will give me plenty of material for blogging mill and in the midst of a kind of grisly horror have been moments of insane hilarity. It would be silly to let it ruin our single annual week of vacation. We’d be the only losers.

Rockport, July 2010

Rockport, July 2010

Today, laden with cameras and optimism, we will sally forth to hunt for (1) a really comfortable pair of shoes for me and some great beauty shots of beach and cute Cape villages.

We’ll be back. Later, with photographs.

Gettysburg, 2012

Gettysburg, 2012

VACATION REPORT: DAY 1 – “WHAT A DUMP!”

It’s 76 miles as the road goes, but it took three hours. Which wasn’t bad considering it was a snail trail all the way. Friday night traffic is bad and the roads to the Cape are the most crowded. No matter. We were in a good mood. Patient. No screaming and cursing as we were cut off and tail-gated crawling to Cape Cod.

Baseball. The soothing cure all.

Baseball. The soothing cure-all.

Finally we got here. I got a bad feeling. You probably know what I mean. The asphalt in the parking lot is all broken. It feels dilapidated. You try to find the office and you can’t because there’s a backhoe parked in front of it. And in your heart, you know your room is directly behind the backhoe. Yup, I knew it. I asked for a different room. I just couldn’t do a week staring at the ass end of a backhoe.

“The last lady loved it. She had three little kids and said it would keep them interested.”

“We don’t have little kids. I prefer not to spend my week on the Cape up close and personal with a back hoe.” Humor? My head hurts.

The only other available unit is on the second floor. No elevator. No help with our stuff, of which there was, as usual, way too much. I had asked for a room with handicapped access. “Well,” she said, “You’d have to talk to your exchange group about that.” Right.

We needed a place to sleep. It was getting late. We were tired.

Garry had A Look. I know that look. He’s pissed, figures it’s not worth fighting over because it’s futile. He spent years on the road and he knows a dump when he sees one. And, as he points out later as he is hauling several tons of stuff up a steep flight of stairs … “We’ve stayed in worse.’

The old futon in the "living room." What a beauty!

The old futon in the “living room.” What a beauty!

Indeed we have. The place in Montreal with the hot and cold running cockroaches. That was very bad. This place IS a dump, but there are worse dumps. At least the WiFi works.

The mattress on the bed may have had some spring, a hint of softness … a long time ago. Long, long time ago. Now, it’s weary. Made bitter by hard use, it is lumpy and unforgiving. I sense 8 nights of torture awaiting us. Don’t stay at the Cape Wind in Hyannis. You’ll be sorry.

The bed is hard as a rock. The ancient futon in the living room is ugly and stained, but oddly comfortable. The TV works and the National League playoff series starts tonight. If there’s baseball, Garry is good to go. Until we hit that bed. That’s going to hurt. A lot. We brought our own pillows. Maybe I’ll sleep out here in the living room on the futon.

The bathroom. Garry looked. “It has,” he said, “A certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’ ” Yes, that certainly is true. I was laughing hysterically when I pulled out a camera and took a few shots of it. “Je ne sais quoi” like this is too good to not share.

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No baking dish. I use the broiler drip pan. I ask about getting one. Tomorrow. Hopefully. How about a bulb for the lamp in the living room? Tomorrow. Hangers for the closet? It’s a big closet, but not useful with no hangers. Tomorrow — if they have any (good luck). The dresser is tiny, just three small drawers — more like an oversized night table. I give two to Garry and decide to keep everything except my underwear in the duffel.

We moved to the futon in the living room. It took less than 15 minutes for Garry to cry “uncle.” I didn’t last that long. Now we are in the living room. If I think of this as an adventure, I might enjoy it for the sheer hilarity. You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s a dump. But, for the next week, it’s our dump.

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AUTUMN WASHING AWAY

As I sit in my office listening to the sound of the rain, I can look up and see the rain dripping from our gutters — probably clogged with leaves — and see the way the leaves droop under the weight of water.

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This is the third day of rain in a row. Yesterday … even the day before … the rain was only intermittent. The sun peeped out occasionally just to give us hope and at one point, enough to allow the Red Sox to beat the Devil Rays 12 to 2. And then the rain came back. A bit heavier, a bit steadier.

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This morning, it’s a very steady pouring rain and the leaves are beginning to fade. What just yesterday held the promise of an exceptional autumn is morphing into a repeat of so many autumns in recent years. Just when the leaves are showing real color and we harbor the dream of a glorious fall … the rain comes. The gold and the red turn to dull brown. The leaves slither off into sodden piles on the ground and autumn never hits its peak. Over before it entirely began.

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Maybe if the rain stops today … just maybe we can salvage the season. I so very much wanted this one perfect season. For so many reasons. I wanted this one, this time, to be right.

MAKE THEM PLAY STICKBALL

As we head into Major League Baseball’s post season — and the Red Sox are in it (yay) — Garry is obsessively glued to the television. And football is starting, so there is an unrelenting stream of sports playing on the big TV in the living room. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sportscasters were talking about somebody getting stuck with an error because he couldn’t catch a ball on a bad bounce and how hard it is to catch them when they take an unpredictable bounce.

Which got me to thinking about stickball. These guys are paid gazillions to play professional baseball. They have parks with groundskeepers, bases, uniforms, baseballs and even bats! How would they do without all that fancy stuff, huh? We didn’t have any of that. No siree.

Spalding Hi-Bounce BallWe had old broomsticks and pink rubber Spalding balls. Seriously, even our broomsticks were worn out. If it was any good, your mother was using it and it had a broom attached. You try to take that broomstick and she’ll beat you with it. And the ball? Half the time, they weren’t even balls anymore. They were lumps of old pink rubber that had sometime in the past been balls.

So, assuming you actually hit it (dubious), you had no way to predict where it would go. All the bounces were bad. Those things were crazy. Since the bases were “the red car over there” and “the big maple tree in front of Bobby’s house” and everyone agreed the manhole cover was home because it was more or less in the middle of the road … while third was the drainage grate over the sewer … that left us wide open for serious disputes about fair versus foul. The team who was most vigorous in pursuit of fairness or foulness got the call, especially since we were our own umpires.

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Photo credit: mattweberphotos.com

If those expensive athletes had to play stickball, how well do you think they’d do, huh? I’d just like to see one single game of major leaguers playing stickball with an old broomstick and that pink rubber ball bouncing all over the place.

They would learn humility in a hurry. So I say — make them play stickball!! Oh, and make A-Rod the ump. That’ll show’em.

“Moe” Berg: Sportsman, Scholar, Spy — Central Intelligence Agency

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See also on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

“Moe” Berg: Sportsman, Scholar, Spy

Morris “Moe” Berg, a professional baseball player who also served his country as an intelligence officer, lived a life many can only dream of. A true Renaissance man, Berg graduated from Princeton University, passed the New York State bar exam and learned eight languages.

Moe Berg - Catching for the Senators, 1932-1934

Moe Berg – Catching for the Senators, 1932-1934

After graduating from college in 1923, Moe played 15 seasons of major-league baseball as a shortstop, catcher and coach. Pictured are his cards as coach of the Boston Red Sox in 1940 and as catcher for the Washington Senators (from 1932 – 34).

Mixing Baseball and Intelligence

Berg’s entrance into the field of intelligence began when he, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other baseball greats formed an all-star team and traveled to Japan in the mid-1930s for exhibition games.

Proficient in Japanese, Berg talked his way into one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. He climbed to the rooftop alone and used a movie camera to film the capital city’s shipyards. Reportedly, the US used Berg’s footage to plan bombing raids over Tokyo in World War II.

OSS Intelligence Career Highlights

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Berg initially joined the White House’s new Office of Inter-American Affairs but left for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1943. He became a paramilitary officer and carried out various intelligence operations in Europe, including parachuting into Yugoslavia to evaluate resistance groups there.

Moe Berg, coaching for the Red Sox, 1940

Moe Berg, coaching for the Red Sox, 1940

By 1945 Berg had been tasked to determine whether Nazi Germany was close to having a nuclear weapon. Using his language skills and charm, he managed to locate and chat with Werner Heisenberg, a top physicist in the Third Reich. Berg accurately determined that the answer was “no.”

Berg stayed with the OSS until it dissolved in 1945. Afterward, he served on the staff of NATO’s Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development.

A Word from Berg

Before his death in 1972, Berg said, “Maybe I’m not in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame like so many of my baseball buddies, but I’m happy I had the chance to play pro ball and am especially proud of my contributions to my country. Perhaps I could not hit like Babe Ruth, but I spoke more languages than he did.”

The baseball cards pictured here are held in the CIA Museum’s collection.

Afterward

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once described Moe Berg as a most unusual fellow.

When the war ended, Moe Berg found himself unemployed. He did receive occasional intelligence assignments, including a visit to the Soviet Union, where his ability to speak Russia was valuable. Traveling with other agents, when asked for credentials, by a Soviet border guard in Russian-dominated Czechoslovakia, he showed the soldier a letter from the Texaco Oil company, with its big red star. The illiterate soldier was satisfied and let them pass.

He lived with his brother Samuel for 17 years and, when evicted, spent his last final years with his sister, Ethel. A lifelong bachelor, he never owned a home or even rented an apartment. He never learned how to drive. When someone criticized him for wasting his talent, Berg responded: “I’d rather be a ballplayer than a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

I thought maybe this was urban legend, but this is from the C.I.A.’s own website, so I guess not! How come this hasn’t been made into a movie? It reads like one!

See on www.cia.gov

Daily Prompt: Off the edge and the ledge

What keeps me off the edge and the ledge? Not one thing, but a set, human, creative … and furry.

There’s photography, more important with each passing day. My creative outlet, the visual side of me. I discovered it when painting  become too much of a hassle with 4 cats, a toddler and no studio. I loved not only shooting. I loved working the darkroom, the magic of the shadow show. Choosing the perfect paper. Trimming and mounting prints. I even liked the smell of the chemicals.

Then life happened. I fell back on writing, ever been with me. For decades, I did no more than take an occasional snapshot.

In the 1990s, suddenly there were digital cameras. I bought the first Sony digital. The Mavica. It used floppy disks. Remember? Big clunky cameras. By today’s standards, primitive. I liked the easy availability of disks. The quality, for its time, wasn’t bad. They were solid. Sturdy. Rocks amidst fragile flowers. I gave the second of them to a doctor who liked the Mavica to record images of patients in the office. Computers still used those plastic not-so-floppy disks. Now, I suppose not. We don’t even have a disk reader in our computers and I have long since thrown away the old disks.

Cameras

Then came a leap in technology. Every day, the pixel count, the lens quality went up while prices went down.

Now  I have digital cameras up the wazoo and no doubt will have more. I’m deep in lust for the latest greatest. My world is digital. Bet yours is too. How did we survive all those years without digital, without WiFi? How primitive.

Photographs are how I show my world to the world when words aren’t enough or are too much. I keep a camera in my purse, another on my desk. To handle emergencies, when I suddenly need to take a picture.

You’d be surprised how often such emergencies arise. Without warning, I absolutely must take a picture from the deck, of the garden, of a doll, bear or window decoration. I grab the nearest camera and go create.

Then, there is writing. It’s like breathing. I write because I can’t imagine not writing. Always, from when first I understood words I have written. I hear words in my head before they go through my fingers into a keyboard.

Other components to sanity. My friend Cherrie. The fur kids. I think they sense when I need them. Maybe they don’t know what it is they sense, but they sense something. And I love them. My amazing husband, though his passionate devotion to the Red Sox is sometimes troubling. I believe he’s angry with me, but the ominous glower and frowning countenance is aimed at his team.This is what we call “a guy thing.”

Movies. Silly games.

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Books. Reading. More books. Audiobooks. Kindle, hardbound and paperback. The smell of printer’s ink when I open a new hardbound book. The soft crack as the spine gives way. How delicious is a new book. I caress it. Sniff it. Look at it, feel it. I send it love. It’s alive, a world to explore.

Take everything but books and the people I love. I’ll get through.

Me, A-Rod and Raw Onion

The Major League Baseball logo.

I have good days and bad. This wasn’t an especially good one. Not after my doctor called to mention in addition to the bad mitral valve, I have significant cardiomyopathy. Keep calm, stay hydrated and blog on. So here I am. Blogging on.

The good news? I’m unlikely to die of cancer. My heart will probably give out first.

The bad news? I think my career in professional baseball is over.

The A-Rod show has come at a perfect time for me, if not for MLB. It’s such high entertainment it has successfully distracted me from what would otherwise be a full descent into a puddle of self-pity.

Me and A-Fraud. Except that I never got the $275,000,000 contract or took all those performance enhancing drugs, now given this cool nickname of PEDs. You’d think if I’m going to have all the health issues, I could at least have had fun and gotten paid big bucks too. Like Alex baby.

A-Rod was on television — all over television — explaining how this has been the worst year of his life. Poor guy. He’s been humiliated by cheating and lying while getting paid staggering sums of money. He’s had health issues, but I’ll swap him any day of the week. Talk about clueless. He genuinely thinks we should feel sorry for him, not because of what he did, but because — take a deep breath — HE GOT CAUGHT! How embarrassing. What could be worse than having to publicly admit to wrong-doing when you’ve actually done wrong? But not to worry. Mr. Rodriguez is not admitting to anything by golly. He’s being picked on by Major League Baseball and the Yankees. He’s a victim, not a bad guy! Even if you don’t follow sports, this is one of those stories that has got to leave you with your jaw hanging.

Watching A-Rod be sincere on TV last night took my breath away. He used the same degree of sincerity as he did when he denied having taken steroids or even being tempted to take them. I loved that line. That is the definition of chutzpah and he’s not even Jewish. He said we should not judge him on his past. Let’s just move forward and trust him because he is a better man, a changed man, an honorable guy who loves baseball. And his paycheck. He’s had a hard time. (Bite lower lip, look victimized.)

That’s like a recidivist explaining to a jury that all his crimes are in the past. He promises not to hold up any more banks. Can’t we all forgive, forget and give him the fresh start he deserves?

Yeah, right. I have a bridge to sell.

While I’m working on recovering my sense of humor, I’m waiting for A-Rod’s next press conference. Garry and I were both surprised he didn’t produce a single tear. My husband feels that for $275,000,000 he should be able to cry on cue. I wondered how come he didn’t palm a piece of raw onion. A tear would have sealed the deal.

Personally, I have not found that crying helps much, but I don’t get press conferences. Just doctor appointments.

Daily Prompt: So Far, So Good

It’s almost August. The year’s mid-point passed a while ago and the days are beginning to shorten again as our tilted planet spins its endless, dizzy circles round our not-yet-fading sun.

Outside in my garden, the roses are past caring, throwing only an occasional blossom. The day lilies, exhausted by the massive display in early July, have collapsed in a heap on the garden floor. They did their job. See you next year.

Day Lilies

It stopped raining a couple of days ago and the 100 degree heat broke. Don’t think we don’t appreciate it. It’s almost safe to go outside again! Mow the lawn, clean the walk. If the rain holds off, of course.

All things being equal — they never really are — it’s like, you know? Okay. We’ve had some good times. Laughed with friends. Not cavorting like teenagers, but there were a couple of small get-togethers. We’ve still got a roof over our head. Did a radio show and there’s another soon.

Neither of us has been diagnosed with a terminal disease and only one really good friend died. Pastor Stan went the way we all want to go. If death can be a sign of God’s grace, it’s clear Pastor Stan was the man. Well into his eighties, never sick a day in his life, he was eating lunch with a friend, stood up, fell over and was gone. He was one of the funniest, kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known and we miss him terribly … but if you gotta go (and we all do), that was a classy exit.

DangerDogs

The dogs have been healthy. A little scare, no big problems, knock on wood (my head will do).

Got a couple of new computers and a few cameras. We’re broke, but no more so than we’ve been for the last decade. Nobody is banging on the door trying to take anything away. We almost have the car paid off — and it still runs! Imagine that!

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I didn’t have hardly any surgery at all and only one hospital stay (a record). The Red Sox are playing much better than expected.

My blog passed 85,000 hits and I’m please with the work I’m doing. More important, I’m enjoying it. I live in permanent dread I’ll lose what I’ve got (take that as a general statement), but that’s so “me.” If I weren’t worried, I wouldn’t be me.

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I even sold enough copies of my book (17) to get a royalty check (be still my heart)! It was almost enough to take Garry and I to a luxurious dinner at McDonald’s! Are you impressed? I sure was! Garry merely raised one eyebrow, something he does well and I can’t do at all. It’s infuriating because raising one eyebrow is sophisticated and debonair, but raising both just looks goofy.

We drink much better coffee than we used to and I’ve simplified cooking so it is as close to not cooking as it could be. I haven’t gotten fatter and Garry hasn’t gotten thinner.That’s what we call success!

My husband has been selected to enter the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in September. I have a new dress to wear to the event and we have more than enough people to fill our table … almost overflowing! I didn’t know we had enough friends to fill a table. May wonders never cease. Around that same time, we’ll celebrate our 23 wedding anniversary, see friends we haven’t seen since college (yikes) and do a radio show too. Our radio host is also the emcee at the induction ceremony, so I guess we shall get a whole week of celebration. I don’t want to jinx us, but it sounds pretty special. Gee.

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All in all? Good. I still have to find out what’s wrong with that nasty noisy mitral valve and try to convince my wrists not to punk out on me, but I figure we’re on a roll.

For years it’s been one crisis after another. Maybe, just maybe, we get a little of the good stuff. I know it won’t, can’t last forever … but a little while would be ever so nice.

Daily Prompt: Fandom — Beisbol

I always liked baseball. I grew up in New York where the annual epic battles between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees were so important we listened to the games in classrooms in elementary school during school hours. When the Dodgers beat the Yankees in 1955, that was as good as it gets for a baseball fan, or more accurately, a Dodgers fan.

When the Dodgers deserted Brooklyn for the west coast, we were heartbroken. Faithless Dodgers! I drifted away. College, babies, work … no time for much else.

Until I married Garry. To say he lived and died with the Red Sox is not an overstatement. Like me, he came from New York and had been a passionate Dodgers fan. Like me, he felt he had been set adrift when our team abandoned us.  Although we revived a bit when the Mets came to town, it wasn’t the same, though the Miracle Mets of 1969 almost (but not quite) made up for some of the hurt feelings left in the wake of the Dodgers emigration. Unlike me, he had moved to a true baseball town and found a new team to love.

Ah, Boston. And oh — the Red Sox! In what other town could a huge neon Citgo sign at the ballpark become a city landmark?

Citco sign over Feway is part of the panarama of Boston.

The Citco sign over Fenway is part of the panorama of Boston.

The beloved, hapless, hopeless, cursed team of teams. When I came to live in Boston in 1988, they hadn’t won a World Series since 1918. They’d gotten so close … and then some terrible error, some disaster would occur. Everyone would scream, tear out their hair, then finally sigh and murmur “Wait until next year.”

Next year came. Twice, in 2004 and 2007. After that, everyone calmed down. We had done it, not one, but twice. The second time proving the first was no fluke. We could hold our heads up. The curse was lifted. All would be well.

Back to my life with baseball. Garry is, was, always will be an ardent devotee of The American Pastime. Baseball season is long and busy. It isn’t a game a week. It’s a game everyday and even more often, if like Garry, you follow more than one team. I realized early in our marriage I had a choice. Spend my summers without Garry … or learn to love baseball.

I went with baseball. It wasn’t hard to love it. More like remembering something I had once known. I’ll never be quite as much a fan as Garry, but I understand the game, appreciate the art of it and know how baseball is an integral part of American history and tradition. I’ve been to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame and loved it.

Baseball has enriched my life and my marriage. And I have a year-round husband.