Baseball at (or just past) the Break

NOTE:  This was a post I meant to finish a week ago.  Then life intervened.

All Star Tickets

Scoring great seats at the All Star Game

In the past three weeks I’ve checked two items off my baseball bucket list and saw the most amazing comeback in my 40+ years of watching this always fascinating sport.  We’re now a little more than a week past the all-star break, the traditional midway point of the baseball season, so it seems appropriate to unleash a few thoughts on you, dear readers, in reverse chronological order to the way they happened.

The All-Star Game is Great Fun:  Washington hosted the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park earlier this month. Almost by a fluke Andrew and I scored great seats.  A colleague—who is British—was given two tickets by a former colleague of his from National Geographic. (Remember that Nat Geo is now owned by FOX, which was televising the game.)  Not caring a great deal for the American pastime, he offered them up to me. For free! Which is how Andrew and I landed in section 133 in fantastic seats for the game on a beautiful Tuesday evening.

Player Introductions

Player introductions at the All Star Game

I love Nats Park when there is a big crowd on hand, and this one was a sellout (even at the outrageous prices). It was great to see all the different jerseys on fans supporting every team in the league. We often see Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, and Orioles jerseys at the ballpark, but we sure don’t see many Trout, Altuve, or Verlanders on this side of the country. I ran into Kiki, a friend from St. Albans, in the long line in the clubhouse store, as we were both successfully seeking All-Star gear. The player introductions were terrific, with a big welcome-home for the Buffalo, Wilson Ramos (boy could we use that bat this year).  Seeing 29 Medal of Honor winners come out to be recognized before the game and having one of them throw out the first ball to Bryce Harper would stir the heart of even the most cynical. A male quartet sang an absolutely gorgeous version of O Canada.  A mass choir formed a flag on the field and sang the national anthem (pre-recorded, but that was okay…the quality was better). Flyovers. Max—the hometown hero—striking out the first two hitters before Mike Trout works him for a 9-pitch walk.  The man-child Aaron “Here Come the” Judge stroking a monster tater off of Max in the second to put the AL up 1-0.  A pretty decent presidents’ race where Teddy was taken out by a flying rabbit (had to be there).  Lots of home runs.  Even more strikeouts.  (Welcome to baseball in 2018.)  Neighbors in the seats nearby from Atlanta and Los Angeles. Everyone just thrilled to be there. Not really caring who wins, but just enjoying seeing these monster lineups (especially on the American League side) go up against pitchers throwing 96-100 mph because they knew they only had to do so for one inning.

I’ve always wanted to attend an All-Star game, but when I checked the ticket prices this year I balked. I’m still saving up in hopes that I will get to a World Series game in Washington before I die. But to have the chance to go this year in our hometown team’s park, in terrific seats, and enjoy it all with Andrew was more of a treat than I even imagined. It is a memory to treasure.

Chalk Up Another One:  Earlier this month I was in San Diego for a conference.  Of course I had checked to see if the Padres were in town.  Yes!  Playing the Dodgers.  Yes!! Since this was one of my stadiums still to be checked off the old bucket list, I invited three friends to join me for a game where monster pitcher Clayton Kershaw was going against the hometown nine.  It really wasn’t much of a match with the Dodgers getting a blowout win, but the ballpark is beautiful and the weather in San Diego is close to perfect every day.

Petco Park Panorama

For those keeping score, here is the list of ballparks visited:

  • Atlanta Braves – Fulton County Stadium (multiple visits in 1980s; never got to Turner Field before they tore it down, but this counts given my rules; don’t want to go to the new one…hate that they moved it to the northern suburbs)
  • Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards (multiple visits in 1990s and 2000s)
  • Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park (1988)
  • Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field (1964, 2007, 2012)
  • Chicago White Sox – US Cellular Field (2013)
  • Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field (2014)
  • Colorado Rockies – Coors Field (2008, 2013)
  • Houston Astros – Minute Maid Park (2016)
  • Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium (2009)
  • Los Angeles Angels – Angels Stadium (2016)
  • Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park (2005)
  • Minnesota Twins – Target Field (2014)
  • Oakland A’s – Oakland Coliseum (2008)
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park (2008)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park (2013)
  • San Diego Padres – Petco Park (2018)
  • San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park (2012 and 2014)
  • Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field (2009)
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium (old – 1993; new – 2012)
  • Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field (2012)
  • Washington Nationals – RFK (multiple times) and Nationals Park (multiple times + part of a season ticket group since 2012)

And here is the ballparks remaining to visit list:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field
  • Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park
  • Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park (I’ve seen it from the outside, but haven’t made a game.)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – Dodger Stadium (This is the only park that family members – Claire and Andrew – have seen before I have had the opportunity. In Claire’s case, three or four times, no less. That’s just not fair!)
  • Miami Marlins – Marlins Park
  • New York Mets – Citi Field (I think this is an easy one to do, but it never works out.)
  • New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium (I know – how can I not have made it to Yankee stadium yet?!  Just goes to show I’ve never been a big Yankees fan)
  • Texas Rangers – Texas Stadium (Seen from the highway but no game yet)
  • Toronto Blue Jays – Rogers Centre

Every Time the Nats Give You Hope…: Right after the July 4th holiday, Andrew and I went to Nats Park to see the Nationals play the lowly Miami Marlins.  So what happens…well, the Nationals fall behind 9-0.  Just about the time we thought we’d seen enough, our guys start an amazing comeback.  Suffice it to say that the 14-12 Nationals win was the wildest I’ve ever seen live.

Scorecard 14-12

Crazy scorecard for the 14-12 Nats win vs. the Marlins

Of course, you’d think that would build momentum.  But you would be wrong.  This weekend is a perfect example.  After winning three straight, they have the Marlins on the ropes in Miami, only to lose a bitter 2-1 game in 10 innings on Saturday night, and then look brain-dead in losing 5-0 today.

This year is feeling a lot like 2013 and 2015…and that’s not a good thing.  I miss Dusty.

It will be interesting to see if the Nats are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline on Tuesday.  I have no idea what they’ll do, but if they don’t do something quickly they will not be playing in October this year.

The dog days of summer have definitely arrived when it comes to the Nats.  But anytime you get to go to a ballgame – especially with one of your children – I’ll take that no matter how the hometown nine are playing.

2018 All Star Game with Andrew

2018 All Star Game with Andrew

More to come…

DJB

Comments on 60 Lessons From 60 Years

60th Birthday celebration

Celebrating my 60th birthday, along with my fractured shoulder and new sling

My blog is not one of those that has thousands of followers and elicits nasty comments…or many comments at all.  100 views is an excellent day. Most of my readers are family and friends, and the comments I do receive tend to come to me on email or on Candice’s Facebook page (since I went off Facebook more than two years ago).

So I was overwhelmed by the response to my last post, 60 Lessons From 60  Years. As of March 5th (a snowy day with offices and schools closed), I only had three “official” comments on the blog. But I have received well over 100 via those other channels and more than 500 views.  I wanted to ensure the comments did not get lost in cyberspace and – more importantly – I wanted to share some of them with you.

But first, to understand the context, it helps to know a bit of the back-story:

Some people will do anything to avoid going to work on their birthday. My excuse? I was hit by an ambulance while helping a friend who had fallen on the ice. Yep, you read that right.

We made the local news. (A colleagues’ husband had seen it on one of those small screens they now have in cabs, so she wrote, “You’re famous in cabs!”)  A friend (Nancy) who was staying with us went out to dinner with a client, and she slipped and fell on the road behind our house when she returned. An angel of a neighbor found her and called us. We went out to help Nancy, and as she couldn’t get up we called 911. I was kneeling behind her as she sat where she had fallen, to keep her upright and to keep her alert. The ambulance arrived and couldn’t stop on the ice as it headed towards us. We couldn’t get out-of-the-way. I was hit first – my left shoulder against the front of the ambulance – and was tossed into a snow bank. Then the ambulance struck Nancy and pushed her down our hill. I could quickly tell I was okay except for shoulder pain but Nancy was obviously in a worse condition. They took her to the trauma unit at a local hospital and I was taken to ER at nearby Holy Cross.

To cut to the chase, I now have a fractured Humerus in my left shoulder. Nancy has some broken bones. According to our doctors at the moment, neither of us will require surgery. I have to keep my left arm immobile in a sling, which you see at the top of the post. Candice and I are so relieved that Nancy’s prognosis is positive at this point. Mutual friends were so good to Nancy, allowing Candice to focus on my injuries, but Candice did get to visit Nancy in the hospital on Wednesday before Thursday’s snow storm hit.

As a result, many of the comments are from friends and colleagues who found out about our little adventure. And don’t worry about all the typing required for this long post. I am becoming a master of the cut and paste.

I wanted others to see the thoughtfulness, love, and wisdom that came through in responses from friends. I thought you, dear readers, would like to see which lessons resonated.  Feel free to add further comments in the “Leave a comment” section below.

We’ll begin with a colleague who consults for us:

Three new things I just added to the hopefully more than 50 I’ve amassed in my 50 years:
1.   You really are your dad, you lucky devil.
2.   I am not one of those few who understand baseball, but I’d best attend more and try harder for something that merits this much praise from you.
3.   I like and admire you even more than I thought. Which was a lot.

Thank you for sharing. Happy Birthday!

The picture of my grandparents – that was tied to Lesson #23 to “Make yourself useful, as well as ornamental” – was a big favorite. Here’s a sampling of those comments:

I came over to get another gander at the ears to see if they align with what was in the picture but all I can say is here’s to hoping I can one day read your reflections when you hit 90!  Happy birthday!

Hope you’re having a Happy Birthday, ambulances aside! This was fun to read through—thanks for sharing. Gosh, you’re grandparents wedding photograph is wonderful—they are such a gorgeous and handsome couple! 29 cracked me up, and 45 is the bomb, as some say. And many more, including still having your dad with you. I hope I get as lucky.

Love them all, but especially #29, 35, and the photo of your grandparents.

The pastor who led the church where I was raised wrote to say:

In many ways you are your Father’s son.

Many commentators called out their favorite lessons:

Absolutely, completely beautiful. I’m fond of, and moved by, many of them. This morning’s favorite is #45.

Happy Birthday, David.  Your lessons have (mostly) all resonated with me – especially on first read Nos. 13 and 37.

Thank you for sharing your blog with us, that was a gift, even if it had to reach me via your not so great news. I hope you are comfy and warm in your hospital and plan to take it very easy these next days. I shared your blog with my husband, we both greatly enjoyed it and live by many of your numbers -14 and 15 and more. We appreciate advice. A friend of my husband who is in the special forces in the UK, (my husband is a former British army officer at Sandhurst) told him once: you won’t succeed if you have to make all your own mistakes, you have to learn from other people’s mistakes. The same lesson can be applied about many things in life. Thank you for your wonderful blog, and I guess I need to give baseball another chance.  Take it easy and Happy Birthday.

Such a delightful read – and full of sage advice I needed to hear after a long day! Also so excited to see I made a cameo. 🙂  (Editor’s Note:  See Rule #18.)  So great seeing you this past weekend. Happy birthday, David! 

Thanks for including me on this – what a great read! I think it’s funny you mention “becoming your father” – I sometimes fear that though I look just like my dad, in personality I’m becoming my mother! 54 and 55 both resonated with me too. I seem to find that life often has something better in store for me than I could have thought up myself.  Hope you’re recuperating well. Everyone keeps stopping by and passing along their good thoughts!

Happy Birthday David! Hope the shoulder is better. I heard.  Can’t wait to read this and best of all listen to some of this music. My eye did catch your mention of…. The Bitter Southerner. (Editor’s Note: See #28) It is my #1 self treat after a nice long run. Makes me smile to have something in common with you even if you are 60 YEARS OLD.  To Your Day!

Happy belated birthday, David! I’m particularly fond of #’s 13, 15, 7, 28.

I’m so glad to hear you are ok and that your humor remains intact. I was glad to follow this link and read your 60 lessons. It was a great read. Re: #17 – I would say Amtrak is the very best place to think and write. Icing on the cake for me would be the train from NYC to Albany, Hudson River side. #40 made me cry. I especially like #59. In the time I’ve been here, you’ve always been the one to thank me for things or say good job. I’ve mentioned it to many people how important those gestures are, just how far they go….but never thanked you directly. Thank you for taking the time to do that. Hope you feel better soon. Happy birthday!

I also received some suggestions for new lessons to add to the list:

From the ripe old age of 61, I agree with most of your observations. I would also add, “Do something that challenges you every day. It won’t hurt.” I am working on a retirement plan that would allow me to be a “senior nomad,” although I’ll have to change it to something like “Still Crazy Nomad.” I think that’s what I want to be when I grow up, since being Janis Joplin seems out of the question.  Sorry to hear about your run-in with an ambulance. A classic “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Have a happy birthday in spite of it.

Happy birthday.  Enjoyed your 60 vignettes, and now on your birthday, you’ve learned another: bad things happen to good people – and good may come of that.

Here’s one from a colleague who has a serious case of Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) and has helped me research past acquisitions.

Happy B-Day David!

• Birthday prediction: I think there’s an Gibson Advanced Jumbo in tobacco sunburst in your future …

• Lesson #61: You can never have too many guitars …

• Don’t forget the 12-step program I’ve been advocating: Step 1: submit to a higher power (i.e., the Guitar Gods) …

P.S. Don’t even think about it … just reach for the credit card and everything will be just fine…

Gibson Jumbo

Carl’s next acquisition…a Gibson sunburst Jumbo

Then, of course, the ambulance accident generated a great deal of commentary.

You are rocking the sling my friend! Take it easy…

Can’t want to see what you come up with for 65.

So sorry David. One helluva way to ring in your birthday. I’m so over this snow and ice. I bet you are too.

Heard you’re the subject of the news story I read last night about an ambulance striking the folks it was coming to help. Glad to hear you’ll be OK, but such an unfortunate (and painful!) thing to happen. I hope you feel better soon – and that you get to spend your recovery time watching spring training games from less-icy places!

I understand that you’ve injured your arm in the cause of helping a friend. I am sorry for your troubles and wish you a speedy, easy recovery. I will say, on the other hand, that your accident led me to read your blog post, “60 Lessons from 60 Years.” There’s a lot of love in your writing as well as good humor, wisdom, and links to fine music. Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned.

Inconceivable! (one of the better lines from the Princess Bride) First of all, Happy Birthday!, but secondly stay inside, drink warm cocoa with a little schnapps for the pain and recover! Hope at least the drugs are good.

What a terrific milestone, David! I hope you have a wonderful, grateful, celebratory – and ambulance-free – birthday. (I hear cake can help …)

I am so sorry to hear about your accident and the injuries you and your guest sustained. Hope that you both heal soon and get back to 100%. I can’t imagine how shocked and helpless you must have felt as that ambulance was bearing down on you. Amazing that, so soon afterwards, you are able to reflect on it with such calm. Again, glad that you are on the road to recovery.  Thank you too, for sharing your insights on life, love, and family on your blog.

I truly enjoyed your blog entry and savored the lessons therein. Had it not been for Rob visiting here yesterday…I would have written you with birthday greetings and a question about Glacier. However, Rob shared the news of Tuesday evening and the accident.  Now this email has turned from Happy Birthday to Get Well Soon. One never knows what is around the corner. Some advice on the breaking of bones—Almost 4 years ago, I broke my leg. The things I learned—1) Listen to the doctor and stay ahead of the pain. Even if you don’t like medication, a healing bone is very painful; 2) Ice! 3)Let people do for you—at least at first; 4) Don’t write emails while taking the pain meds. You think you make sense between naps, but you don’t; 5) Take the time you need—easier said than done, but it will make a difference in the recovery and 6) Do the physical therapy and then some. It makes a tremendous difference! I hope that you and your houseguest will be on the mend shortly. Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers. And may the year bring you much joy, preservation victories, baseball, music and family!

Finally, I received a long email from a friend, Ed. I met Ed and his wife Ruth on a National Trust tour of the Black Sea. They were representing Andover. We bonded over many things, but especially baseball.  His son works for the Red Sox, and I have had the pleasure of visiting Ed and Ruth in their house outside Boston. We keep planning a trip to Nationals Stadium. They are both so very thoughtful, and I thought I’d end this post with excerpts from Ed’s reflections. Enjoy.

Just spent a fascinating evening with your 60 for 60, and Happy Birthday!

Delighted many times over…All 60 had something for me. Can’t think of them all now, but: Staunton [wasn’t Wilson born there?]. Old buildings which several generations have struggled to keep standing. Small towns. Your western travels. Your twins, beloved. [We have identicals as 6-year-old granddaughters in Lexington MA]. The Bitter Southerner’s reassuring message. Your thinking on church, on Southern Baptists, on the Christian Right, who get in their own way. And too much more to remember at the moment.

We differ on a few points, but I appreciate your perspective which would say, Vive la difference!

1. Belichick is far from perfect, but I’ve met him, as a fellow Andover alum. He loved Andover. He was charming, and he has a good side. A mutual friend heard from a guy that Bill once stopped along a highway to help this poor anonymous soul change his tire in a pouring rain. At the end, the guy said, hey, aren’t you . . . ? And Bill said, Please don’t say any more–to me or anyone else. You wouldda done the same thing for me. And he drove off. Kinda like Dean Smith. Maybe great coaches`figure out, sooner than the rest of us, not to be proud of doing the right thing, but just doing it.

The NFL is my guilty pleasure, and I feel like taking a shower after getting its evils splashed on me. But I must confess that it seemed right that Richard Sherman needed to learn more about Kipling’s point that victory and defeat are Two Great Imposters – and he did so with a grace that he had not shown me before. Ditto Pete Carroll, who had left USC just before his misdeeds there came crashing down on the folks he left behind. I was pleasantly surprised that Coach Carroll bravely took the blame for that play call. And Marshawn Lynch said he wasn’t surprised not to get the ball, because “football is a team game.” Not bad for a guy who hasn’t shown a lot of respect in other moments. As your 90-year-old Dad, and your beautiful Grandmother and daughter would doubtless agree, humans are complex and should not be written off.

2. Blue-grass, Blue Highways hymns, and mandolins, have not been to my taste. But I admire them more now, after seeing your appreciation for them.

The three best YouTubes of music I saw this year I will share with you, hoping to add to your eclectic appreciation.

A. So many surprises in this first one: As college kids in 1963-4, we skipped right over this song, to get to “Fun Fun Fun” or “Little Deuce Coop.” Brian Wilson, for a while a hopeless self-absorbed mess, wrote this relatively obscure tune–but not the equally beautiful lyrics–when he was barely 21. His cousin and Hawthorne, CA, neighbor–Mike Love–widely known as a jerk in most circumstances, this time created the words, that make the discerning tear up. And who knew that Mike Love of all people would admit his mistake, in trying to change Willie Nelson’s delivery?

But greatest of all, savor Brian Wilson’s facial expressions at about 4:49. It’s as if this astounding songwriter and harmonist is the RCA dog, listening to his master’s voice on the phonograph. HE tears up–not as a demi-god, but as a human being. All these guys, Willie included, are just regular people, creating some pretty good art, and shaking hands over it. If there is a God, She would smile here. Life can be beautiful, in the South, in the West.

(Editor’s note:  Ed sent along a bonus Beach Boys video)

B. Tammy Wynette and some promoter named Billy Sherrill wrote this song in 15 minutes. We’ve all heard it, but few of us knew what real-life marital and bodily pain Wynette lived through–like Brian Wilson. Her voice haunts:

I’m gonna tell Ruth, and you can tell Candice, that even our selective hearing lets this song come through, loud and clear. [Wynette’s last recording session, before an early death, was singing Brian Wilson’s “In My Room,” which he wrote c. 1961 after yet another beating from his Dad. You can find a different YouTube showing Brian and Tammy together, recording, just weeks before she died. They moved each other, two screwed-up lives intersecting, like ships in the night.]

C. The U.S. Library of Congress selected this 1964 T.A.M.I. Show for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Rolling Stones later said that following James Brown at the end of this show was the biggest mistake they ever made in their careers–and yet they too performed memorably. [Didn’t get what they wanted, but maybe what they needed?] Check out this portion of James Brown’s 20-minute set:

Best to you, and now your remarkable family,
Ed Q.

Candice came out when the Beach Boys tune was playing, as she was a big fan during high school. I had seen the James Brown clip before, and remain amazed.  You gotta love friends who quote Kipling, Bill Belichick, Brian Wilson, Tammy Wynette, and the Godfather of Soul all in the same message.  To each and every one of you who reached out with your love, concerns, thoughts, stories, and humor, my deepest and sincere thanks.

With much love and affection, and with More to Come…

DJB

Our Year in Photos – 2014

Candice and David celebrate their 32nd anniversary in Copenhagen, March 20, 2014As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come… This was certainly a year in which we had much for which to be thankful.

Both Claire and Andrew studied abroad in 2014, so all four of us had the chance to travel to new places for new experiences. Candice and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary (photo at the top of the post) while the family gathered in Copenhagen to visit Andrew during his studies abroad.  We continued to enjoy good health and marvel that the two of us could remain so young and yet see the twins reach their 21st birthday!  I’m not sure how that happened, but we loved celebrating with them last December as they came home for the Christmas break.

Andrew and Claire's 21st Birthday

Andrew and Claire completed their junior years in college in 2014 and are now almost halfway through their senior year. We have visited both campuses this fall and hope to make it back one more time before their graduations in May.  There is a lot to capture this year – from time with friends, to work and school activities, to family trips, and  more.  Because more and more folks are viewing this blog on smartphones, you can still see the captions by placing  the cursor over the photos, but I’m adding some commentary along the way.

As regular readers know, I love to listen to live music. One of the many musicians I saw this year was a January show with the incredibly talented Claire Lynch at one of the Institute of Musical Traditions Monday night concerts. Candice captured the two of us during the break.

Claire Lynch with DJB

Andrew left in late January for his study abroad semester in Copenhagen. Over the course of the next few months, he visited a variety of European cities, including Milan, Bratislava, and Krakow, where he sent back lots of pictures of architecture, food, and good times with friends.

Andrew in Milan

Andrew and his friend Gracie in Bratislava

Andrew visits Krakow

Andrew in Devin

In March, Claire, Candice and I made our way to Copenhagen for a two-week Scandinavian adventure, taking advantage of Andrew’s time abroad to visit this fascinating place.

Claire and Andrew do the Danish look

Candice and Claire with the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Andrew, Candice and David at St. Albans - in Copenhagen!

Our apartment was on the canal in Copenhagen

Claire stayed with us for the first week, but then took her first trip to England, where she saw the sites of London and more with college friends who were in the country.

Claire and Ella at London Bridge, March 2014

Stonehenge

Claire and Susan off to Hogwarts

Claire and Susan in London

While Claire and friends were exploring the English countryside, Andrew, Candice, and I made our way on to Stockholm, where we visited museums and cafes when not simply walking the streets of the old section of the city.

Andrew and Candice in Stockholm March 2014

Cathedral Bell Tower in Stockholm, March 2014

2014 wasn’t all travel and play! I am still working, but it just so happens that a great deal of what I do takes place on the road. I had a stretch in May when I found myself in Detroit, Texas, and Hawaii in the span of less than a week. In fact, from the middle of May to the middle of June I traveled to Detroit, Texas, Honolulu, Chicago and Plano (twice), Seattle, Louisville, New York City (twice), and Hot Springs, South Dakota. I am privileged to get to work on, and visit, incredible places. The opportunity to take a private tour of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on Memorial Day Weekend was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Of course, I occasionally do sillier things as well, such as take my first selfie at Mount Rushmore…which a colleague caught on camera.

DJB during an interview on Hawaii Public Radio

U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor on Memorial Day Weekend

Taking my first selfie at Mount Rushmore

In June, Claire left for six weeks study in Vienna.  She had a wonderful time studying Psychology and German and exploring central Europe.

Vienna, June 2014

Claire living large in a Vienna cafe

Andrew was home for an internship all summer and we loved having him with us. In June, he joined Candice and me at one of our favorite events, the Farm Dinner at Woodlawn to support Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. It was a time of great food and fun for a very worthwhile cause.

Arcadia Farm Field Dinner June 2014

Arcadia Farm Dinner June 2014

Claire returned home on July 4th, so we celebrated with an appropriate patriotic meal. Candice and I then headed to West Virginia to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our dear friends, Katherine and Madison Brown, which also coincided with Madison’s 80th birthday. Katherine is Claire’s godmother, and it was great to be in Parkersburg to celebrate with them.

Claire's American Homecoming July 4th, 2014

Brown's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration - July 5, 2014

Claire’s summer on the road continued in July and August, as she first flew with Candice to Florida to see Grandmother Colando and the rest of Candice’s family. While there, they all enjoyed a Caribbean cruise.

Caribbean Cruise

Claire learns how to navigate a casino...from her grandmother

Claire enjoying the cruise

Claire and Candice returned home just in time for Claire to pack for the cross-country car trip with me that we dubbed the Not All Who Wander Are Lost Tour.

California or Bust

Bean Selfie Chicago

Claire with Aunt Susan and Zoe

Kyra and Claire in the Big Chair

Taliesin with Claire

With Liz and Dave at the Twins game 08 05 14

Twine Ball City Limits Sign

Twine Ball and Claire

North Dakota Sunflowers

Claire and DJB at Glacier

Claire by the St. Mary Waterfall

Wallace, Idaho and the Smokehouse Saloon

Bruce and Shari Shull with Claire and DJB

Designated photographer

With Willie at ATT Park

Lunch in Claremont with Claire

While Claire and I were traveling cross-country, Candice and Andrew were exploring Washington on their bicycles, including a fun ride one day down to the Navy Yard to check out a new restaurant.

Candice and Andrew at the Navy Yard

September, October, and November were months of baseball pennant races, more work travel for me (including a quick but enjoyable trip to Galicia, Spain), dinners with friends (and their dogs!) and trips to visit Andrew and Claire at college.

Galicia Meal with INTO Ex Comm

The dome over the pool at Mondariza

Section 313 Cheer

Office Bobble heads and Banner

Candice enjoys some puppy love

Brown University Chorus

Candice and Andrew at WaterFire

Claire won’t be with us this Thanksgiving, but you can see that she and her good friend Jason are in the…ahem…spirit.

Claire and Jason prepare the turkey

I can’t think of a nicer way to end our yearly review than with pictures of Candice and me with our two wonderful children from our recent campus visits – with Andrew at Providence’s WaterFire and with Claire during a night out with friends in the charming Claremont Village. We are so blessed.

Candice, Andrew and David at WaterFire in Providence October 25, 2014

Candice and DJB with Claire in Claremont, October 2014

As we enter this holiday season, Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours.

More to come…

DJB

The “Not All Who Wander Are Lost Tour” Lives On!

Claire and DJB with MapRegular readers will recall those intrepid travelers – Claire and David – making their way cross-country in August on what I dubbed the “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” tour. For twenty days, father and daughter crossed this great land, all the while keeping readers of More to Come… updated on our travels with daily posts, photos, and stories. It was a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure for both of us.

So you can imagine my delight when Claire told us a few weeks ago that she had placed a map of the US on the wall in her dorm room, with the route outlined and photos from the trip displayed along the way.

Old school wall posting.  Oh my…do I love that daughter of mine!

The first thing I did when Candice and I walked into Claire’s dorm room on this late October/early November “she’s not coming home for Thanksgiving so we’re going out to see her” visit, was to go and see THE MAP.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Tour Map Overview

Just look at that beauty.  Twenty days of memories captured in one place, with the route marked and pictures pointing to the places we had visited along the way.

As Andrew and Claire were growing up, we had a map of the world on our downstairs wall.  We encouraged friends who were traveling to send us postcards from far away places. When the postcards arrived, we would post them on the wall and attach yarn to the back, which then stretched to a pin located in the appropriate city or country.  It was a great way to learn world geography (we have a lot of friends who travel extensively) and it stayed up until we painted the house sometime in high school.

Eastern portion of the tour

Claire used that map as her inspiration.  She shows us at the beginning of the trip – with the picture by the rental car outside our house on the morning of August 1st – and then heading up to Cleveland (first of three baseball stadium pictures) and Chicago. Our You Want Nutrition, Eat Carrots! day in Madison is captured as well, with that delicious ice cream cone photo.  (That was the top-rated post from the trip, BTW.)

Central Time edition map

Here you can see Claire’s part of the map I dubbed the Central Time Edition in one of several Observations from the Road.  Seeing the world’s largest ball of twine rolled by one person, our second baseball stadium (Target Field in Minneapolis), and fields of sunflowers were among the highlights.

Western tour

End of the road map

The last two portions highlight the western and coastal route of the trip, along with our arrival in Claremont.  I’m not going to say much about these photos or I’ll start crying again, but you can get a sense of my gratefulness for this trip in The Thankfulness Edition of Observations From the Road.  Candice, Claire, and I are going out to dinner on Sunday evening at the same restaurant where I wrote that final post…and had to put on sunglasses so that the waitress wouldn’t call the manager because of my tears. Sunday should be much more joyful!

What father wouldn’t want to come into his daughter’s dorm room and see their special time together posted in such a wonderful way on the wall.

She is one in a million.

More to come…

DJB

The Streaks Continue!

Ian Desmond BobbleheadWhat a month for baseball!

During August, I’ve seen four major league games in four different cities and was able to cheer four home teams to wins.

For the Nationals, they are on a ten game winning streak. Five of the last six have been by walk-offs.

Last evening those two streaks converged.

Candice and I had tickets for Thursday’s late-afternoon game between the Nationals and  Arizona. The Nats came into the contest having won 9 in a row, including a terrific walk-off win the night before. We arrived early enough to pick up our Ian Desmond bobble-heads (Desmond is the one to the right of catcher Wilson Ramos in the photo at the top of the post) and with great anticipation for another magical evening.

But while picking up the Desmond bobble-head was easy enough, the Nats needed someone to pick up their offense.  They hit well enough – until a runner touched second base.  Then the Diamondback pitchers all turned into Cy Young. Twice the Nats left the bases loaded, for crying out loud.

But in the bottom of the 9th of a scoreless game, the magic began.

With one out, Denard Span – who is finally playing like the complete baseball player we all hoped he would be after we sent Michael Morse to Seattle – got a solid single, keeping that .300 batting average on the rise.  With Anthony Rendon at the plate – the guy who won the previous night’s game with a walk-off hit – Span stole second to get into scoring position. It was absolutely the right move at the right time, keeping the pressure on the Diamondbacks.  And they crumbled under the pressure.

Rendon hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Jordan Pacheco, who threw the ball past first baseman Mark Trumbo, allowing Span to score the winning run.

As usual, Tom Boswell has the best advice for Nats fans:

Pay attention. This doesn’t happen every decade, even every generation. Wherever you sit during Washington Nationals games, on your favorite couch in front of the TV or in the bleachers on South Capitol Street, don’t change seats. Eat the same pregame meal. Lucky charms — don’t lose ’em. How far can this thing go?

Nothing in baseball is more pure summer fun, mixed with just enough tension to be deliciously fretful, than a long winning streak.

Nothing, indeed – unless it is mixing that streak with a bucket list road trip and seeing baseball in four wonderful stadiums (Cleveland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Washington) with your daughter and wife.

Signs at AT&T Park

As the signs at AT&T Park in San Francisco demonstrate, baseball is a game for memories.  And this has been a great month for making more baseball memories.

Let’s keep it going, Nats!

More to come…

DJB

Observations From the Road (The “Thankfulness” Edition)

California or BustTuesday, August 19th (and day #19) – is the last one of the cross-country Not All Who Wander Are Lost tour. Later this morning I’ll be flying home.  I can’t wait to see Candice and Andrew (who leaves for his senior year in college on Friday morning).  But I also want to put a wrap on the wonderful two-and-a-half weeks Claire and I had on our exploration of this amazing country we live in. It has been an experience I’ll never forget.

I’ve had several parts of this series where I’ve thrown together random thoughts that I’ve entitled Observations from the Road.  For those who want to see them in order, you can find them here as:

So this grouping of random thoughts wraps up the Observations From the Road posts as well as the series on our cross-country tour.  I’ve entitled it The Thankfulness Edition, for we could not have driven 4,590 miles and passed through 13 states without the help of many friends, family members, work colleagues, college acquaintances of Claire’s, and strangers.  I’ll miss some who should be thanked, but I hope to capture the vast majority. And I have book-ended this post with the first (above) and final picture taken on our trip.

The first person who made this all possible was Candice – When I mentioned several years ago I wanted to drive cross-country, Candice never made anything but supportive comments along the way. When I asked if she wanted to join us, she said, “I’ve driven cross-country before, and once was enough.” However, she could see the excitement building in Claire and me as we began to plan out our route and get closer to departure, and then she became our #1 cheerleader along the way.  Since I’ve left Facebook, Candice regularly allows me to posts items I put on More to Come…. With this trip, she took on the responsibility of seeing that the posts were up as soon as possible after I wrote them, and she talked up our trip with friends at church, family members, and others she saw over the past couple of weeks.

The other thing that made this trip possible is that our family financial planner (again, that would be Candice) never once questioned the cost of the trip…even as the Visa bills kept coming in and a certain rental car company (Enterprise) didn’t honor their quoted rate for a one-way rental and drove us to another company that treated us fairly…but at a cost than was higher than my initial estimate. Early on she said, “This is a trip of a lifetime for you and Claire, and I don’t want you to worry about money.” This means a great deal to me, as I count on Candice to keep our family budget in line. She simply said, “We can do it” and that was the end of the conversation.

Thanks to those who made suggestions – Sometime about 2-3 months ago, I sent around a sketchy itinerary to some family, friends, and colleagues and asked them for thoughts on things we should see.  And did they ever respond! So many of the great places we visited came about as a result of suggestions.  Then, once we got into the trip, others emailed additional suggestions, and we took them up on a few of those as well.  So – at the very real chance of leaving someone out – I want to thank these terrific itinerary planners:  Kathleen and Herb Crowther (for the Cleveland area); Susan Morse (for her Chicago recommendations); Genell Scheurell, Janet Hustrand, and Oakley Pearson (for several thoughts in the Midwest and Great Plans – with Oakley getting special points for the “Ball of Twine” recommendation); Liz Welsh McGonagle (for the Minneapolis thoughts and for making the Twins game happen); Barb Pahl (for numerous route suggestions and individual place recommendations in the Great Plains and Mountain regions – with special points for pushing us to go way north and visit Glacier); Jeff Grip (who made our magical day at Taliesin possible); Mark Huppert, Kevin Daniels, and Anthony Veerkamp (for a host of suggestions in Seattle, San Francisco, and all along the west coast); Constance Beaumont (for the Portland tour and especially for the Astoria suggestion); Sheri Freemuth (for Idaho and eastern Washington thoughts); Jenny Buddenborg (who suggested – among other things – the fantastic University of Mary in Bismarck and then helped make arrangements for a tour); and Jackie Tran (who passed along suggestions in San Francisco).  If I have forgotten others, please forgive me. Kyra Stone made great food suggestions in Madison (which led to an immediate weight gain of five pounds on my part). And – as I’ve mentioned numerous times – a big thank you to those who comment on Yelp!  We couldn’t have eaten so well without you!

With Kathleen Crowther in Shaker Heights

Claire with Aunt Susan and Zoe

Bruce and Shari Shull with Claire and DJB

Thanks to our Hosts – Just when we thought we couldn’t take another hotel room, one of our friends or family members offered up a place to stay. We got three of them in photos – Kathleen Crowther (husband Herb was taking the photo) in Cleveland; Claire’s Aunt Susan and Cousin Zoe in Chicago; Bruce and Shari Shull in Gig Harbor, Washington; and Constance Beaumont in Portland, Oregon.  Somehow, we were having so much fun with Constance that we forgot to get a picture!  Nonetheless, thanks to all of these wonderful people. Claire and I loved seeing you and getting to know you better.  It was a true highlight of our trip.

Thanks to the Readers of More to Come… – Every day I would hear through comments on the blog, emails I received, or from comments Candice and Claire were receiving on Facebook and Instagram, about how many people were reading – and apparently enjoying – these updates on our progress. Your kindness spurred me to try to capture the true wonder and fun of our adventure.  A special thanks to Janet Hulstrand – who is a wonderful writer. Janet would send along comments and suggestions for places to visit, she encouraged her twitter followers to read the series, and she would simply “like” virtually every post that came up during the trip. Janet’s praise is high praise in my book.  In addition to Janet (who has followed the blog for years), I had some 5 or more new bloggers begin following More to Come… after reading a post or two in this series. Finally, it was great today to have virtually everyone who came up to give Claire a hug on campus say something along the lines of “I’ve been following your road trip and it sounds amazing!” The fact that a couple of Claire’s friends even characterized the old man as “awesome” was just icing on the cake!

I’m thankful for this amazing country – I’ve written about the plains, mountains, valleys, coast lines, Great Lakes…you name it…so I won’t go into any of that again.  But to look at our landscape day after day, as it changes going east to west and then north to south, is an incredible experience.  I saw so many places and things I had never seen before.  Every mountain range we crossed was unique and breathtaking. Our rivers, lakes, and oceans are incredible. And – unfortunately – we have destroyed much of what is wonderful about our landscapes through horrible development decisions, greed, commercialized farming (have you ever seen a commercial livestock feed lot – you’ll never eat McDonalds again), extraction of oil and gas, and the list goes on and on. I’m thankful I had a chance to see it in this condition, and I’m thankful that the mellennials of Claire and Andrew’s generation appear to be bent on trying to undo our destruction. Let’s hope they have enough time and political will to succeed.

I’m thankful for how taking things off a bucket list leads to new thoughts on adventures – Claire and I talked about bucket lists on several occasions.  Claire decided that the 47 Things to Do While You are At Pomona would be a good start to a bucket list, and I agreed. Then, we started talking about all the states we had visited: 13 on this trip (11 of which were new to Claire).  That got us to thinking about how many states in general we had visited, and the number was 48 for me and 34 for Claire.  So guess what’s now on our respective bucket lists?  And we decided while unpacking today that our next road trip would begin in Alaska – which is one of the two states I’m missing.  (Nevada is the other.)  I love a sense of exploration so early in life.

Claire at the Fort George Brewery

Finally, I am eternally grateful to Claire – I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better traveling companion.  If you have to spend 18 days in a car with someone, it had better be someone who is intelligent, quick-witted, funny, thoughtful, inquisitive, curious, flexible, and loving…and I could throw in a dozen or more descriptors except that her face will already be turning red.  It also helps that she’s a good driver and likes to try any local IPA that the bartender suggests! (Those two things do not happen at the same time.) We had some serious talks along the way, as Claire was dealing with a couple of issues that she’ll be facing her senior year in college.  Not once did she speak ill of anyone or try to blame others for her situation. Instead, she always looks for the good, and then builds off that perspective. This doesn’t mean she is naive – far from it. But she has an inherently positive and expectant outlook on life. I wish I could capture a small piece of that perspective to use in my dealings with others, as I would be a far better person.

Claire is not one to judge. I know she wants to help me with my (over) eating and exercise, but her way of talking about it is only supportive and loving. When I think of how she made the decision in high school to only eat healthy food and to become physically fit, I marvel at her discipline. But she doesn’t push her way of living or point of view on her father, her family, or her friends.

Claire is open to what she can learn from others. We shared “playlist” time from our various iPhones during the majority of the trip, and not once – even after 10 bluegrass songs in a row – did she reach for her ear-buds.  Imagine that – a 21-year old going 18 days in a car with her father without once tuning him out with the old ear-buds trick. It is my experience that this is almost earth-shattering in its precedence!

So I’ll end by quoting myself – in the Central Time edition of Observations from the Road: 

Claire is a wonderful, sensitive, and thoughtful individual – which, of course, I knew in the Eastern time zone before I left on this trip.  But I just wanted to say it again today.  She is one in a million.

I know that every father thinks that about his daughter.  I’m just glad that I had the past two-and-a-half weeks to confirm it – once again – about my daughter.  I’ve loved every second with Claire and I’ll never forget these memories.

Lunch in Claremont with Claire

More to come…

DJB

Moving Day

Lunch in Claremont with Claire

I have to admit – of all the planning I did for our cross-country tour, I had not given much thought to how emotional Day 18 of our Not All Who Wander Are Lost tour would be. But Candice seemed to know, when she sent a text this morning that indicated we should “guard our hearts as you step out of this special time together.” Claire, of course, just said, “Dad, you’re not going to cry are you?”  Well, of course I am.

Sliders at Some Crust Bakery

Claire said she felt she was “back home in Claremont” when we went to Eureka Burger last evening for dinner.  I felt that way when we picked up our sliders at Some Crust Bakery for breakfast.  I can’t tell folks on the east coast how wonderful Some Crust is…but you just have to take my word for it. And Claremont is one special little village. We fell in love with it the minute Claire visited Pomona, and we take every opportunity to come to this magical part of Southern California.  Some Crust is one of about ten places our family visits on every trip to see Claire at college.  Union on Yale, where I’m having dinner tonight, is another. When she graduates next spring, we’ll have to make up reasons to come back here.

Claire checks out her new bed in her dorm room

Common Room in Claire's Suite

The morning was spent getting the key to Claire’s dorm room, checking out the new digs, and bringing up boxes from storage.  The two photos above show her new bed (a double – finally!) and the common room in her four room suite. The senior dorms are only 4 years old, and they are fantastic. Back in the day (when we had to walk through a foot of snow to get to school) we certainly didn’t have anything this plush.  I told Claire and a friend that they shouldn’t get use to this…it is probably the best housing they will have for the next ten years.

Pomona Hall exterior

The exterior (above) is pretty terrific as well.  This is a “green” dorm, full of environmentally sensitive elements.  I think it is just about right for my Claire’s senior year at school!

The contrast with moving in three years ago couldn’t be wider.  Then, all four of us were here feeling our way as freshmen parents (as well as freshmen twins).  We were racing around buying this and that, trying to locate the key buildings on campus, and generally attempting not to act like we were completely clueless (at least in front of Claire). This time, Claire and I took the items we had brought cross-country up to her room (in about two trips) and then drove over to the storage bin to pick up a few other boxes, which we quickly dispatched into her new room as well.  Then we stopped by to say hello to the swim team coach, we watched the football team running laps in 95 degree heat (waving to an ex-boyfriend in the process), picked up a friend to join us for lunch, and dropped off Claire’s bike for its yearly tune-up.  At noon we were settled into Full of Life (another village favorite) for our sandwiches and a final tour lunch (which we captured in the photo at the top of the post). Afterwards, we helped another friend move some boxes (a car is a valuable commodity this time of year on campus), stopped by a local store to buy me a new pair of flip-flops (since my old ones blew out on this trip), and found some local craft beer for the fridge.

In the midst of all this, Claire made some progress on unpacking, and making her new dorm room a home.

Then came the time I’d been dreading.  It was clear that I wasn’t needed at this point, and that Claire was ready to focus on getting her room together before her meeting tonight with the other orientation counselors. (They are called OA’s, but I can’t recall what the A stands for.) Our cross-country adventure really was ending. Yesterday, Rosanne Cash’s version of Miss the Mississippi and You came up as we neared Claremont, and I told Clare that I would miss her.  She said, “Really?”  (How can you not love someone who doesn’t even realize how wonderful she is?)  I said, “Really.  You wear well as a traveling companion.”

Today we hugged, laughed, I cried, and left.

It was fantastic, my love.  Have a wonderful senior year.  See you later this fall.

Love,

Dad

Claire at the entrance to Pomona Hall

More to come…

DJB