TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME

Offside Memories – Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?


One weekend, shortly after Garry and I began living together, he had read the sports section of three newspapers and was watching the fifth or sixth baseball game in a row. I thought: “I really better learn to love baseball. If I don’t, I will never have a conversation with Garry from April through October.” Little did I know when baseball ended, it would be time for football.

I love baseball. I understand it. Never took to football with the same enthusiasm, but I’m good with basketball. Hockey and soccer don’t do it for me. Other than that? If it’s done on a horse, I’ll watch it.

nationals in DC baseball

I’ve been to a lot of baseball games, mostly at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox. But in our travels, we’ve caught a game at Candlestick Park, in Montreal and most recently, a Red Sox-Yankees match-up in the new Yankee Stadium.

Watching the Sox trounce the Yankees on their home turf was the coolest game I’ve seen in a park. And we had great seats.

These days, we watch on the big TV. The greatest sports moment I can remember? How could I forget? It was the Red Sox winning the Series in 2004 with a walk-off homer by David Ortiz. We sat there stunned, waiting for the umpire to say it was a mistake. It had finally happened!

By now, we’ve gotten used to winning. We have higher expectations of our team performance. It had been a long dry spell.

Here we are again. After a winning season in 2013, the Sox can’t seem to hit the ball with the bat. The season has been so godawful, we are already trying to forget it. And it’s only the middle of June.

Still, it’s a long season. You never know, right?

P.S. Almost forgot! It was pretty memorable when Garry and I cuddled up in the big bed (I had the flu) to watch a World Series and instead, watched the big San Francisco earthquake. I had returned from San Francisco the day before. That was unique.

EVIL DREAMS

There is a herd of elephants in my living room. Sometimes there are so many elephants lolling about that there is hardly enough room for me to settle down, have a cup of tea and watch the Red Sox on a warm summer evening.

They are the elephants of my childhood. Snidely grinning elephants. Scary elephants. One pachyderm carries a belt. I know he’s going to beat me. Others smile sweetly. I don’t to trust those smiles. These are not real. The smiles are camouflage to hide an evil so deep it makes my blood turn watery.

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For most of my life I had a recurring nightmare. I would be sitting in the middle of some particularly bucolic setting, a field, meadow or alongside babbling brook. The day would be perfect. Blue sky, puffy clouds and sunshine. I was happy. Content to sit and watch the birds, bunnies or butterflies. In the midst of this bucolic setting, the cute little creatures would transform into flying or crawling little monsters that would swarm over me. I’d wake up screaming, drenched in sweat.

The monsters were never the same twice. Sometimes they looked like spiders or snakes; other times, they resembled nothing in the real world. Perhaps they could have emerged from the primordial ooze or a sleazy horror movie.

Always there were many monsters attacking simultaneously. Escape was impossible and in any case, I was paralyzed with terror unable to run, barely able to scream. Only waking ended the attack. But not the fear. The fear stuck around.

The dream sometimes went away for a few months, but inevitably returned. And so it continued for more than forty years. Finally — a lifetime later — all the little monsters came together and formed a face. My father.

My eyes snapped open. I was fully awake and understood.

I never had the dream again.

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

WorldChampionRedSox2013

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!

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

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.

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.

Boston from the Baptist – The Citgo Sign and Fenway Park

I had to be at the Baptist Hospital today to see my spine guy, harboring a hope that something can be done to make it hurt a bit less. I have been to the Baptist before and I remembered that it was at the top of the hill on Parkman Hill Avenue in the area known to everyone as “hospital city.”

I’m not going to bother to explain what that means because I’m pretty sure you can figure it out. What I did not remember, or perhaps had never noticed, is that the view from the hospital is great, particularly if you’re a baseball fan and the words “CITGO sign” resonate for you.

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There’s a saying in Boston: “London has Big Ben, Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Boston has the CITGO sign.”

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If you are neither a baseball fan and nor from New England, you are probably saying “Huh?” A gigantic neon sign for CITGO does not have the iconic sound that you get from Ayers Rock, Big Ben, or the Taj Mahal, but for Bostonians, it’s so entwined with Fenway Park, the Red Sox, and Boston’s identity that the idea of losing it is unacceptable.

Citgo sign and Yawkey way

Should CITGO cease to exist,  I’m sure Boston would make sure the sign remained, flashing over Fenway Park. It’s as obvious an identifier of Boston as the Empire State Building is of New York or the Gold Gate Bridge is of San Francisco.

From Citgo.com:

 

A Sign Of The Times

The iconic CITGO sign has been a part of the Boston skyline since 1940. Located at 660 Beacon Street, on what was once a Cities Service divisional office, the sign originally featured the Cities Service logo, but was replaced with the famous CITGO “trimark” of today when the CITGO brand was created for the marketing division of Cities Service in 1965.

Efforts to remove the sign in the early 1980s faced fierce opposition and led CITGO to restore the sign, with groups even fighting to declare the sign a landmark.

The CITGO Sign is held in particular high regard by Boston sports fans. Red Sox sluggers are enticed by the so-called “C-IT-GO” sign as they blast home runs over the left-field wall, and runners in the grueling Boston Marathon welcome its sight as the 20th mile mark. Its pulsing flash in the night sky has even been used by mothers-to-be at nearby Beth Israel to time their contractions.

It’s no secret that the CITGO Sign in Boston’s Kenmore Square is beloved by people across the country and around the world. Not only has it become a major image of the city of Boston, featured in postcards and tourist brochures, but the sign was deemed an “Objet d’Heart” by Time Magazine, was photographed by Life Magazine and featured in the New York Times. It has even become a source of inspiration for artists, musicians and filmmakers from around the world.

Want to know more about the famous CITGO sign? Check out the interesting CITGO Sign Facts, and learn more about the man who is known by thousands of locals as the Keeper of the Sign.

Kenmore Square, Bosston - December 19, 2012

Kenmore Square, Boston – December 19, 2012

A Boston Icon Gets a Facelift

In late July 2010, the 45-year-old, 3,600-square-foot sign had all its LED lights replaced with more technologically advanced and environmentally friendly versions. The upgrades required that the sign go dark while the work was done.

Boston residents watched excitedly as the sign was relit on Sept. 17 during the 7th inning stretch of a Red Sox home game— just in time for baseball playoff season. Today, the famous beacon looks better than ever!

When I first came to Boston in 1987, I was puzzled. I couldn’t understand why everyone loved this huge, garish neon sign. Half the time only pieces of it lit up, so what was all the fuss about? It didn’t take me long to get it: this sign was part of the whole Fenway Park-Red Sox mystique, a signature of the park, the team and the city. Moreover, the CITGO sign is visible from far and wide. It is the first landmark I recognized and used to find my way around the peculiar streets of the city. You can use it to find Fenway … and it’s important to be able to find Fenway Park. You might be forgiven for not being able to find Faneuil Hall, but you have to know the way to Fenway. Even if you don’t care about baseball. It’s a Boston thing.

So there I was, on the third floor of the Hospital, which is the lobby floor since the building is built into the hill and suddenly, I looked out and I saw Boston. Better, I saw the CITGO sign … and below it, the green walls of Fenway Park. They tried to build a new ball park some years ago but it turned out the fans didn’t want a new ball park. They wanted Fenway Park. In this house, we simply couldn’t imagine giving up Fenway.

After a great deal of hoopla and political maneuvering,  they renovated the old park. CITGO fixed their sign. All is right with the world: Fenway is safe, at least for a while.

Boston.

Boston.

This year, 2012, was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. If the team hadn’t had their worst season in decades, it probably would have been a more gala occasion. Nonetheless, the Red Sox have put together a great website with pictures going back to the turn of the century. Lots of history and more. Check it out!

Lake Chaubunagungamaug In Autumn

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, or Lake Chargoggaggoggmancogmanhoggagogg (and other various spellings) is also known as Webster Lake, which is what I call it. It’s quite a big lake. Surrounded by trees, many of them maple, it can be spectacular in the fall.

For the non-New Englanders, maple trees are the ones that produce the brilliant red, gold, and orange leaves. Oak leaves turn a soft yellow, most other trees turn, at best, light red. We have fewer maple trees than we used to, probably because the oak trees have taken over the woodlands, blocking the sunlight and stunting the growth of smaller trees. For once, it’s nothing man has done: it’s just nature doing its own thing.

So, wherever you can find maple trees, especially near a body of water, that’s where you find the brilliant autumn leaves for which New England is famous. Now that August is nearing its end, all of us are hoping for a good autumn. It’s not just the color, it’s also that the fall is usually the nicest weather of the year and with a little luck, can stretch for as long as two months, more or less. The last two years have been washouts: too much rain at the wrong time took the leaves down before they reached full color.

Late afternoon in October.

Maybe this year? It sounds like I’m talking about the Red Sox. I know that they aren’t going to give us a beautiful Autumn, so I can but hope that the leaves will do the job. Autumn is our reward for surviving New England‘s other seasons. We deserve a beautiful season full of crisp weather and bright leaves.

Sunlight through bright maple leaves by the lake’s shore.

Here’s to a fine years for the leaves. From the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I bring you gleaming waters and brilliant scarlet maple trees with the sun shining through.