Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some of my best friends are fans

I'm what you call a fair-weather sports fan. When there are sporting events, I'll tune in or turn on -- Olympics, World Series/NBA Championships/Final Four/Rose Bowl, etc. But on a regular full-time basis, organized sports occupies very few molecules in my gray matter.

Unless of course, it's force fed me via my girl's participation (summer softball is allll-most over), and if the kinderfolken of friends/family are playing, we like to turn out to root-root-root for the home team.

On the other hand, I am a spectacle kind-of guy and while watching a game on the tube holds little interest, toss a couple tickets my way and I'll be the first to grab my keyring off the hook in the mudroom and withdraw my life savings for some dogs and a beer.

Case in point, last weekend was the highly anticipated appearance of a legendary LA Dodger to our local AAA club's venue. He was there as part of a fairly successful marketing ploy ("Tastes of the Big Leagues") saluting selected major league teams/ballparks across the nation. Last week was Dodger Stadium week ("Dodger Dogs...hold the smog"-- pretty clever tagline I thought).

Now, normally this event in and of itself wouldn't be enough to get me to shell out the baseball bucks needed to treat my family to a fun-filled night at the ballpark. However, even though we're not the be all-end all of baseball fans, we have a friend who is.

Jon's baseball career started early on, culminating to college ball and a short stint with a AAA club in Vermont. He was a southpaw pitcher, born in LA, weaned on Dodger Dogs with mustard and bled Chávez Ravine blue long before his family relocated to our small town some 20+ years ago.

Attending a game with his family and getting to meet and chat with a storied hero from his past was too much to pass up. And I was there to witness it.

We patiently stood in the meet-and-greet autograph line, missing the first several innings of what turned out to be an exciting match-up between our OKC Redhawks and the Nashville Sounds. C and Jon's oldest son (B, age 5+) stood with us as we surveyed the other 100 or so line standers, summarily judging their Dodger fanaticism level based on what it was they were having autographed and how much blue adorned their bodies.

C held tight to a brand new finepoint Sharpie along with a Dodger ball cap souvie my Wife had acquired sometime back in our LA days. Others around us held various 8x10 glossies, a few caps and jerseys dotted the line, as well as baseballs of various vintages and styles.

From deep down in one of Jon's cargo shorts front pockets, grasped firmly in his pitching hand, was what I believed to be one of the most prized possessions from my friend's youth - a MLB licensed baseball festooned with autographs of a dozen or so members of the 1980's Dodger's.

While the gameplay monikers for the 80's Dodgers may not ring any bells with some, for those of us who grew up in LA during that time period, the roster is etched in our memories...even in the creaking gray matter of those of us who didn't know much about baseball...Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Joe Ferguson, Pedro Guerrero, Charlie Hough, Rick Monday, Manny Mota, Jerry Reuss, Bill Russell, Reggie Smith, Don Sutton, Bob Welch.And of course, the most famous of all Dodgers from that time, Steve Garvey.

For me, it was a momentary jolt of electricity as I stood back and watched C interact with Mr. Garvey, securing autographs on both her Mom's ballcap and her own hand-me-down softball glove.

The major joy of the event took place as I stood off to the side watching Jon step up to the table and pull his prized ball into view. While my eyes witnessed the everyday magic of one hero (a retired ballplayer) meeting another (loving husband, dedicated father), I let my mind drift back to my heady days of youth, when hero's stood proudly on pedestals and games were meant to be played, not paid for."And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The casserole express

Need to keep a tally of food and mercantile that's been rolling into our house since word got around my small town that the "little wife" is hobbling around with a busted ankle.

All I can say is, what a spectacular tradition this is.
  • Oven-warm pecan nut muffins brought over personally by our neighbor lady, who felt really bad that she wasn't home to hear the pathetic screams of my wife as she lay sprawled out off the back stoop with her freshly busted ankle.

  • From a family of cattle ranchers came a mess of Sloppy Joe's, made with ranch fresh beef, complete with buns. The sauce was a sweet barbeque style that was a welcome variant from our normal Manwich style.

  • Mexican/spaghetti casserole with french bread. Think of a Bob's Big Boy Chili size (the last time I ate one of these was at the Bob's '49 in Burbank, with Drew Carey eating one just like it across the way at the counter) with Tex-Mex flair and seasonings. Muy delicioso.

  • Grilled lemon/butter chicken breasts, grilled squash and tomato medley, and yogurt red grape salad with brown sugar topping. This meal was provided by a family with a father who Loves to grill (capital L). Accompanying this grilled extravaganza was an oven fresh, full loaf of homemade wheat bread that was yeasty and chewy and aromatic to the nth degree.

  • Spaghetti with sweet (homemade and fresh) Italian Sausage. The father-in-law of the family who provided this meal is known for his homemade Italian sausage. He's been grinding and stuffing the sausages himself since 1948, and only sells them at a grocery store in McAlester, Oklahoma. The girl's weren't prepared for the sweetness of the sauce, but once they figured out it was supposed to taste that way, they dug it.

  • Lasagna (frozen) Stouffer's makes a good frozen lasagna now.

  • Lasagna (fresh, homemade) with warmed French baguette, bag salad, seasoned croutons and Ranch dressing. Okay, Stouffer's is good, but nothing beats homemade, old family recipe, stack it high and wide noodled lasagna. C's second grade teacher brought this over tonight and we feasted like the Soprano's on a Sunday night.

    Topping this extraordinary meal was a full-sized home-baked angel food cake with chilled fresh sugar-glazed strawberries for dessert.

    Now, I've had plenty of sponge cake in my days (Twinkie's anyone), but this was my first ever foray into the angel food cake arena. Hard to believe, I know, but it's now become C's cake of choice for her birthday cake, and I will never look at the dull and boring squared off bundt cake the same again.

  • A half-gallon of Braum's mint chocolate chip ice cream (Wifey's fave) brought over as dessert to a main entree featuring a slightly used Action Patriot wheelchair.

    The sporty coupe is decked out with cobalt blue paint, low profile 26" tubed racing tires on hardened plastic rims (new tube on the right side), crushed nylon seat and back rest and dual hand-operated hand brakes on each side for superior stopping and locking power.

  • Finally, another family brought over a set of vintage wooden crutches (circa 1950) that had been passed on from grandparent to grandparent and ended up collecting dust in this family's attic crawlspace. While it's not the lightweight aluminum wonders with click-stop adjustment and neoprene/silicone end tips and armpit rests, it fits with my Wife's personal vintage chic style.
  • Big thanks and hoo-haahs to all our lovely friends and neighbors that have participated in the "what's that family going to do for food now that S can't even stand up and walk" parade.

    It's a good thing I can warm things up with the best of them.

    Friday, June 05, 2009

    Hoops Part 1 - I'm in the system now

    One of the many hoops I had to jump through on my way to my recent hard won acquisition of this...

    ..was to be electronically fingerprinted at the State Dept. of Education, wherein my identity and background could be checked with the OSBI.

    I was more than happy to do so, since it's one of those things that I'm glad they're checking before letting anyone near my publicly schooled kids. On the other hand, it unnerved me some to think that my name was now on yet another government "list."

    True, we average citizens have been providing our thumb prints for years to get our driver's license renewed, and I know I'm not the only parent in the world to have their own kid's fingerprints on file with the local law enforcement agency.

    However the entire experience of actually being f-printed at the hands of a complete stranger, even if it's for innocent and law-abiding reasons, was slightly more comfortable than the few minutes between the time you realize you need to adjust your shorts, and the instant you get to.

    Guys, you know exactly what I mean here.

    And what exactly am I going to do with a teaching certificate in Journalism (how all my film and tv education and experience was translated into a license to teach secondary level journalism is beyond me, but there you have it)?

    Who knows. But given the number of hoops I jumped through, the number of tests I've taken (still more of these on the horizon), interviews I've succumbed to and paperwork that has passed through my home office, I guess I'd better do something more with it other than hang it on the wall next to my vintage iMac "Yum" poster and collection of American Graffiti die cast cars from the Johnny Lightning collection.

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    Have you seen these fish?

    The dog days of summer are hovering on the quickly approaching horizon and already our small town is seeing a rash of theft and thievery.

    $.81 for three minnows. Seems the bad economy has trickled down to live bait prices as well.

    My only question (actually, I have many but this one seemed the most questionable that I could cull from this police blotter entry) is how exactly did the Bait Shop owner know there were only 3 minnows missing? The bait shops that I've visited (okay, I've been to two in my lifetime) had huge tanks full of the swimming silver fishes.

    Maybe the Rainman is in charge of the minnow tank.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    DO NOT make important decisions

    A broken bone anywhere in the body is called a fracture. You have broken ankle.

    Your broken bones have been put together and held steady by use of plates, rods, pins and/or screws. A cut through the skin over the fracture was made to put these devices into the fracture. Broken bones heal best when lined up and held in place with a cast or splint. The length of time you need to wear the cast or splint depends on which bone is broken and how well your bones heal. This may take 6 - 12 weeks or longer. the metal devices may need to be removed in 1-2 years or before if they begin to cause a problem."
    Wifey is home and resting now, after today's out-patient procedure to get her "shinbone connected to her ankle bone..." went textbook smooth.

    S's ortho cutter was a slightly bulkier and more European version of Jason Scott Lee (in his prime while filming Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) with all the personality of the 750cfm carburetor on my El Camino. Still, I find that surgeons as a group are a right serious lot and truth be told, when staring down the wrong end of a #2 scalpel, I'd prefer less "Hawkeye" Pierce antics and more Dr. Rocket Romano, if you know what I mean.

    Still and all, his prognosis was honest and forthright ("I can't make you good as new, but I'll do my best") and he did manage to crack a smile and mutter the appropriately witty retort when I pulled out the old "Doctor, will she be able to play the violin, when the cast comes off?" joke.

    The title for this post was culled from the myriad of printed and verbally espoused directions, instructions, orders, recovery guidelines and mandates we received from an entire staff of concerned nurses, doctors, and assorted medical personnel during the course of our most trying of days.

    To bad. I think in the fog of anesthesia, some of the most important decisions can be made with little or no regret at all.