I have never been superstitious. No worries about broken mirrors or walking under ladders. No throwing the salt. None of that. I like black cats — and for that matter, black dogs and brown people.
Except since I got involved in baseball, I have gotten wrapped in Garry’s personal superstitions.
It turns out that people who are “into” sports are very superstitious about them. If they are on a winning streak, they won’t change to different shoes until the streak runs out. Or they will only be called by a particular nick-name during a drought versus during a streak.
For Garry, the fear is that when the Red Sox are doing well, if you talk about it, it will end. I grant you that this superstition grows out of the Red Sox 87 years without a World Series win, but still. We are doing well this year, but we can’t talk about it. When the announcers start to talk about it on television, Garry changes the channel.
It’s part of a long tradition which goes with the most dangerous line in our language: “What could possibly go wrong?”
It really is the most dangerous line in the English language. Something can always go wrong. No matter how well you’ve planned it, scanned it, laid it out in columns. Backed it up with a dozen alternate plans, if you say thosewords, something bad will happen. Always.
I thought maybe that buying a new mattress would help at least by lowering the level of a backache which wakes me up every couple of hours. A
Yesterday, we got the new mattress. It’s a honey. Soft enough, yet with an underlying firmness that probably means it will be with us for a while. It’s got a lot of soft top layers that will soften further and in a few months, it will be as comfortable as a mattress ever gets.
Sometimes during the middle of the night, with my left hip throbbing (I’m a left side sleeper and no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself there’s any other way to be comfortable) from the pressure on the sciatic nerves, I reconfigured the bed so I would pretty much have to sleep on my back, like it or not. That’s the advantage of an adjustable bed. You can make it the perfect place to watch TV or read or chat or any other thing you and your mate — or cat or dog or kids or everybody in one great heap — can do whatever. Or, in my case, sleep on my back which is the only way I can sleep that will get me out of bed able to stand up and limp.
I finally realized my back is too far gone. No mattress is going to solve the problem. The damage is severe, permanent, not repairable. There are no drugs to make the pain go away and no exercise will do more than ease it temporarily.
Moving around helps more than anything else — so part of the problem of going to bed for me is staying in a single position makes my back hurt worst. There have been many evenings when I’ve wondered if it’s worth going to bed.
I’ve developed a serious fear about going to bed.
Then, there are nightmares. These are dreamscapes of reality. Since November 2016, I have almost continuous and nearly real nightmares. These are utterly different than my old nightmares which were typically about stress at work — or my father.
These new anxiety dreams are about The World. It is falling to pieces. I travel someplace beautiful only to realize it is crumbling as I watch. Tall buildings fall. Cliffs collapse. The river turns an ugly glowing green. Fish float to the surface. Trees fall over.
I have political dreams. The most terrifying creature in my dreams used to be my father or some dreadful boss at work. Now? It’s you-know-who and his band of sickos. That DJT is a narcissistic sociopath we already know — but who are those people who (apparently) eagerly serve him?
What are they? Are they even human?
I’m ready to travel into the past, outer space, or some imaginary parallel universe. This one isn’t working for me.
There’s always another way to get there, or so we believe. But what if you can’t get there from here? We’ve had some hilarious adventures where we discovered that the map said one thing, but reality said another thing entirely.
George and his ever talkative wife Martha had just about enough of the Midwest winter. They were tired of snow, tired of cold. At close-to-retirement age, they were just plain tired. When another cold night forced them to stay at home rather than visit a favorite neighborhood stop, they realized there was only one thing that could pull them through to warmer weather. Baseball! Right then and there, they began to talk about a trip to sunny Florida for a round of spring training games.
A year before, they had traveled to Florida on a rare road trip to see the Chicago Cubs play. The Cubs lost but they deemed the trip a success. They had visited a ball park other than Wrigley Field, spent a day at the beach, and wandered through town to do some typical tourist shopping. They had some very hot days, but did not suffer the kind of stifling humidity Lake Michigan can serve up in July. Now, in March, they were ready to go south again.
George sat down with spring schedules to see what teams would be playing. He wanted to find the best matches for the days they could go to Florida. Martha researched the ball parks themselves and the surrounding night spots on the internet. When they had chosen a few games they might like to see, they looked at hotels, air fares and rental cars. After a full night of debate and delay, they made their choices.
They would return to the familiar spots of St. Petersburg. From there they could go to Tampa to see the Yankees, then down to Bradenton to catch the Pirates and from there to Sarasota to see the Orioles.
Unlike the famous George and Martha of Broadway play and movie fame, this couple rarely had arguments. In fact, they were in agreement on just about anything that meant parties and good times. When almost all of their arrangements were in place, and they were congratulating themselves on another “road trip extraordinaire”, Martha had one more good idea. Of course, the good idea may have been fueled by the German beer she had been drinking all night, but it was an interesting idea, nonetheless.
“Why don’t we call old Harold for the game in Bradenton or Sarasota?” Martha blurted out as if her head had been hit by a rock and she was stunned silly.
“Harold!” George shouted with glee. “That’s a wonderful idea. The old boy probably needs a road trip anyway. Let’s give lucky old Harold a call.”
While Martha dutifully looked for Harold’s phone number, George wondered why the little tapper of Dortmunder beer had run dry. “I am headed to the basement, ” George called out. “I have to find another one of these big cans of beer. You killed the last one.”
“I did no such thing, George,” Martha lied.
When the twosome finally met back at the kitchen table, each was carrying the object of their search. “Well dial the phone and hand it over, old woman,” George said with a laugh.
“I am not as old as you, wise guy,” Martha said as she handed over the phone. Both began to giggle and laugh like school kids up to no good. The phone rang away as the couple talked on until George finally realized there must have been at least 20 rings. He hung up.
“I can not imagine that Harold is not home at this hour. He was never out late.” It was true, of course. In all his life Harold was rarely out at night, and since he retired and moved to Florida, he was always home by dark.
“He’s probably sleeping, you nit wit,” Martha declared. “Let’s give him another try tomorrow.” And so they did. In fact, they called for several days in a row and at different times of day, but Harold never answered. When the day of the trip arrived, Harold was not part of the plan.
Undeterred by their lack of success at lining up Harold for a game, they resolved to try him again once they landed at the Florida airport. They departed from Chicago’s Midway airport. Unbelievably, it was once the busiest airport in the country, but that was before the jet age. Now the crowded airport just seemed like the busiest airport. St. Petersburg airport, on the other hand, was in stark contrast, even for spring training. The crowd was small and the rental car line was short. The couple got their car, got to their hotel, and got on the phone. Still, there was no Harold.
“I hope the old guy is OK,” Martha said, finally voicing more than a bit of concern.
“Sure, Harold is just fine,” George insisted. “He is probably at some nice restaurant right now being fussed over by some cute waitresses. Don’t worry.”
At that very moment Harold was being fussed over by some weary nurses at the Intensive Care Unit of the county hospital. This trip, the retired planner from the Midwest was going to miss the endlessly talkative George and Martha.
Note: The next Harold story appears next week. What happened to Harold? The previous story: “Missing Monday“
Because most of us are rational, we not only loathe the guy running our government. We also really want to know how he became such an awful person. We all know people — some of us are those people — who grew up with abusive parents. Desperately poverty. Rich and privileged, lower, middle, or undefined class. One of many children. An only child. Male. Female. Other.
Most of us turned out okay. Even those who have (had) (still have) a lot of issues were never completely loathsome. All of us had a few good points. Someone thought we were okay.
But then, there’s Donald J. Trump.
So I thought I’d run a little survey.
His father was a pretty ugly guy in his own right. A racist slumlord, I’m sure he passed his beliefs to his kid. But other people have rotten parents and they don’t grow up just like them. Rich and poor, children can grow into decent people, no matter how they began.
What made the difference? If it wasn’t a contract with the dark one? A television renewal failure? What happened to turn a rich asshole into the pit of evil?
When you live in the Blackstone River Valley, life is about the river or one of its tributaries. Or an attached stream, pond, lake, or waterfall. The valley has always been about the river.
It’s also about the bridges. No one thinks much about the bridges because, in our lifetime, there have always been bridges. But the bridges have grown old and every couple of years, one of them becomes bad enough that they have to close it down and rebuild it. That is when you discover how important all those little bridges are and how difficult travel in the valley becomes when even one bridge is down.
We have lived in the valley for 18 years. During this time, at least half a dozen bridges across the Blackstone River have been taken down and replaced and there are many more that will need to be replaced. When suddenly, the next village over is not a 1-mile drive but instead is a 10-mile drive, you realize how important the river is and the importance of even the smallest bridge.
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