Nashville Sounds

Baseball, hotdogs, cotton candy, peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks.

Root, root, root for the home team.

Stomp, stomp, clap to We Will Rock You.

Seated in a blue stadium seat, perched precariously on a narrow ledge barely big enough for the seat and our feet, overlooking 16 rows of similarly seated people, directly behind left handed batters – that’s where Hubby, Daughter and I spent a good portion of yesterday’s late afternoon and evening.

The Nashville Sounds had a home game and we had tickets.

It was our first visit to Greer Stadium and our first Minor League game.

Long time Atlanta Braves fans, we were accustomed to Major League Baseball and familiar with Turner Field.

Major League and Minor League are as different as the two words (major / minor) imply.  But, Major League wouldn’t exist without Minor League.

There is no “small ball” in baseball, except for game strategy used to garner runs.  Every game played is important and every player is equally so.

Minor League experiences the first professional at-bat of Major League hopefuls.

It’s hometown proud and locally supported. It’s familiar, it’s accessible, it’s family friendly and it’s fun.

The Nashville Sounds are affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers – not the Atlanta Braves.  And the Braves and the Brewers are rivals.

This was something that caused me a little angst as I settled in to watch the game – felt I was in the enemy’s camp – but only for a moment. It was quickly decided that staunch Braves fans can find ample room in their hearts to embrace and enjoy the hometown boys and cheer them on to victory.

Baseball is more than a team.  It’s more than a name. It’s more than a win.  It’s more than a game.

Baseball IS game and those who watch it and love it understand that and appreciate what it means to be a part of the world of baseball.

Root, root, root for the home team.  If they don’t win it’s a shame.  Sure it is, but, it’s not all about who wins – that’s the wonder of baseball – it’s all about game.  And, these Minor League players and their supporters understand that.

Don’t believe me? You go sit behind home plate and watch that ball rocket in at 96 miles and hour and see those young guys stare it down unflinchingly as it zips by less than 2 inches from them.

Yeah, they got game.

Got game? There’s a seat for you at the next Nashville Sounds game.

There’s nothing minor about our Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball experience.  It rocked our world.

Oh…and we won last night, the Sounds did, that is.  😉

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The Road Shoe

In the road was a shoe.

It wasn’t a tennis shoe.

It wasn’t a dress shoe.

It wasn’t an athletic shoe.

It wasn’t a hiking shoe.

It was an old black leather high-top shoe that lay tipped on its side, its sole visible and vulnerable.  The untied laces lay twisted on the pavement beside it.

Alone, it lay there in the middle of the lane.

I wondered where its mate was.

And, I wondered what decision led to the shoe’s location and precarious position. (It was obvious the shoe did not place itself there on purpose.)

Had it been discarded? …no longer wanted?

Was it lost? …its owner looking for it?

The shoe had trod many miles and seen many days of usefulness.  Oh, the stories it could tell if its tongue were loosed and empowered to talk.

I wanted to claim the shoe, but I was only a passenger traveling from location to destination.

Perhaps someone came along and saw the value in what had been discarded and the shoe found new purpose and new meaning.  Perhaps even now that which was one man’s trash has become another’s treasure.

Instead of lying in the road with its tongue hanging out and its laces sprawled before it…perhaps it graces someone’s porch or garden, stuffed full of flowers and overflowing with beauty.

Reclaimed and repurposed.  Ah…that’s what God does for the tired, weary, discarded and forgotten.  He rescues us, cleans us up, gives us new meaning and a new purpose.

Three Months Til First Frost

I heard something yesterday that caused my mind to run forward three months.

Let’s see…three months from now would be the last weekend in September.

Hmm…that’s a bit early…a full month earlier than last year.

You see, Southern folklore says the first frost will come three months after you hear the first Cicada.

I heard the first one yesterday.

While I”m not one to put a lot of stock in folklore, I do pay attention to the wisdom of it.

It’s how people lived before newspapers, TV and radio, internet, Twitter and Facebook told them what to think and how to do.  It’s how people eked out a living before Walmart, Kroger, and Walgreens were established. It’s how people survived.  It’s how they thrived.

To those who see, know, and understand this wisdom, there are reminders and warnings issued every day, in every season, that urge productivity in the present, a forward facing attitude, and preparation for what’s next.

We have a tendency to think only in present tense, to become wrapped up in current issues, to be unprepared for change that can’t help but come, to procrastinate, to set aside what should be done and engage in “feel good” activities….

Three months til the first frost, or maybe it will be four months – when isn’t as important as what.

What do I need to do today, and each day thereafter, to make sure I’m ready for that which I know will come and when it does will change everything?

Untethered

As I sit at my computer, I face a window that looks into our backyard.

I can’t see much, but I can see anything that happens to cross the yard, especially if it passes close to the window.

…like the white balloon did the other day as storms approached our area.

I was sitting at the computer, attending to a task for work.  The blind was open – I wanted to keep an eye on the weather.  A gust of wind shook the awning above the back door and I looked up to see what was what.

As the wind calmed, I was surprised and delighted to see a white balloon lazily drift by a few inches from the window, trailing a light pink ribbon….  It floated by slowly enough for me to blink my eyes several times.  I was certain I was imagining it.

As the balloon slipped beyond my field of vision, I made a hasty decision, jumped up and ran out the back door to catch it before the storm did.

As I leapt from the porch, I saw that the balloon was approaching the chain link fence that separates our yard from our neighbor’s. At first I thought the balloon would be halted by the fence.  It was barely 4 feet from the ground and the fence was 6 feet high.

But, a whisper of breeze stirred and lifted the balloon.  Up the fence it crept.  Concern that the crossed wires atop the fence would pop it drove me forward. At the top of the fence, the balloon hesitated as though waiting for me.  I was nearly there.

The ribbon had become tangled around a leaf of the Morning Glory that graced the fence top. I could just barely reach it, I thought, as I drew within arm’s reach of it.

It was then that I noticed the balloon was slipping farther away.  The ribbon was not tightly wound around the leaf…just slightly entangled and the tug of the breeze was pulling the balloon….

As my fingertips reached the fence and touched the tip of the ribbon, the remainder of it slipped from around the leaf and between my fingers as I leapt and grasped for it.

I watched as the balloon was lifted higher, and higher until it sailed up and over the house next door and out of sight.

As I turned from the fence and walked back to the house, I rubbed my forearm where it had connected with the wire atop the fence and thought of the balloon.  And, I wondered what I would have done with it if I’d caught it.

I’d come close enough to see it clearly.  It was a dying balloon.  The helium in it was no longer sufficient to send it upright into the sky.  The top half of the balloon was a light gray, no doubt from the city’s air pollution.  The light pink ribbon had once been brighter…more colorful.  The balloon itself looked fragile and tired.

But, untethered it was willing and able to go where the wind took it.

Free.  Unfettered.  Loosed.  Not caught or held by anything. Free to go where the winds of change took it and soar as high as chance and circumstance allowed.

To drift lazily on the breeze…to soar above obstacles…to slip away from all that would snare…to….

The balloon took a part of me with it that day.  And, somewhere, that part of me soars, untethered.

Cleaning Fish

The rule is – if you catch ’em and keep ’em, you clean ’em.

Hubby and Daughter went fishing on Father’s Day.  The intent was two-fold

  1. to spend time together
  2. to catch fish

They spent about 7 hours together.

They caught 3 fish each.

Of those 6 fish caught, Daughter kept 2 and brought them home.

I recited the rule, emphasizing the last part “you clean ’em.”

“Okay” was all she said.

I laughed.  She had never cleaned a fish before.  I wasn’t even sure she had watched it done from start to finish. AND, one of the fish was still gasping.

Sometimes the only way to learn is to do. With a few instructions and a lot of supervision, Daughter cleaned both fish, rinsed them and popped them into the freezer.

“Now, all we need are a few more fish and we can have a fish fry!” Daughter said.

A few more?? Guess she’s forgotten how many fried fish I can eat. 😉

2 Years Married

Yesterday was Son’s and Daughter-in-Love’s 2nd Wedding Anniversary.

And…I missed it.

I knew they were married in June.  I knew they were married a week after we celebrated our own anniversary.  I  knew they were married three days after my dad was buried.

I knew all of this – KNEW it.

But, I still missed it.

I MISSED it.

The most joyous day of my son’s life (apart from the birth of their daughter) and I let it slip up on me. And, had I not seen his post on Facebook, directed to his wife, in which he shared love for her and his joy in being married to her, it would have slipped past me.

And, I would have missed it completely.

I made no comment on his post. But, I did “LIKE” it. (That’s what you do on Facebook when you see something you like or agree with – you click the “LIKE” button.)

And, I do LIKE it. A lot!

I could not have chosen a better wife for him…better best friend…spouse…mother for his child/children…companion…perfect yin to his yang….

She brings out the best in him and drives him to be better.  She lights his life and beats his heart.  She keeps him straight and gives him a reason to come home.  She stirs his soul and fires his passion. She supports, encourages, corrects, provides boundaries, creates family, loves….

She loves him.

Oh, how she loves him.

And, he loves her.

And, therein likes their greatest strength, for as those of us who have lived more years together than apart know – love conquers all.

Happy (belated) Anniversary!

Daughter and Her Dad Go Fishing

For Father’s Day, Daughter took her dad fishing – first time ever for her to take him…for him to go with her…for them to fish together…alone.

She insisted on driving to Long Hunter State Park in her little red Smart Car.  I quietly inquired as to how they would manage to take the fishing poles in the little car.  She assured me they would fit.

That morning, she drove her little red Smart Car to church and Hubby rode with her.  The plan was to leave upon the final a-men and head home to change clothes, grab fishing gear, a sandwich, and head out.

That plan changed with a text I received from daughter upon their arrival at church.

I think Daddy is scared of my car XD

Apparently something about the ride to church that morning (either Daughter’s driving or the car’s jerky movements) made Hubby slightly car sick.

It was decided that loading fishing supplies into his car would be easier than attempting to cram it all into her car, so upon arriving home they changed plans.  He would drive and she would back seat drive – I mean…ride shotgun.

Between the roar of motorboats, jet skis and the Blue Angels, they managed to catch a total of 3 fish each – small perch – and brought two of them home to clean and place in the freezer for the fish fry we’re sure to have one day (when they catch enough).

Personally, I think they caught more than fish.  I think they caught a new lease on a relationship almost 30 years old. And, I think they caught sight of each other through new eyes and a new appreciation for what was and even more for what is and what can be.

There was only one thing missing that day – perhaps Son can join them the next time they head out to drown worms and crickets.

Zoo Roos and the Featherbrained Parents

If you want to “experience the wild side” visit a zoo…any zoo.

I’m not talking about wild animals.

It’s featherbrained parents and their wild way of raising their next generation that I’m referring to.

Case in point:  Nashville Zoo – family consisting of a mom, dad, two boys (8, 6) and a girl (4) – walk-through kangaroo enclosure – inattentive parenting style that encourages children to experience EVERYTHING hands on.

Hubby and I were in line to enter the kangaroo enclosure.  To enter one must go through two gates.  The first gate opens into a fenced area that is barred by a gate at both ends (to keep kangas from escaping from the enclosure and children from their parents and into the enclosure).

We had entered the first gate and were following a couple with one child as we moved toward the second gate that opened into the kangaroo compound.

Just as we opened the gate to move through it, we heard “WAIT FOR US!” as we felt two small bodies bump against us and then past us.  We assumed they were with the family ahead of us.

As we closed the gate behind us, I looked back and saw a woman and man with a boy slowly making their way toward the second gate.  Apparently the two children who had dashed past us didn’t belong to them.

I turned to look ahead of me as we stepped around the people who had gathered just inside the gate and as I did, I saw the little she devil that had careened into and bounced off of us as she and her brother shot past us.  Blond curls bounced as she turned her head right and left looking at kangaroos. The people I thought she was with gave her no notice.  And, neither did the boy she had entered with.

She spied a kangaroo lying on the ground, in the shade of a tree, just off the path…15 feet from her.  The instructions are – stay on the path at all times and allow the roos to come to you.  Apparently this little girl couldn’t read, or didn’t follow directions.  All she knew was that nothing now stood between her and her beloved kanga or roo.

With arms outstretched to grab and hug, this little bundle of mayhem stepped off the walkway and into harm’s way, heading straight for the nearest kangaroo and beyond my reach.

“Where are her parents?” I wondered. Did she become my responsibility because her parents are absent?

DO unattended children of inattentive parents become the responsibility of others??

Apparently so.  And, of course, as is so often the case, the one who steps in to save the little one from certain harm becomes the bad guy.

Just like the rookeeper did who stepped between the little girl and the kangaroo.

As soon as the rookeeper said “NO! You cannot approach or touch the kangaroo!” the little girl’s parents appeared. (Yep, they were the ones who followed us into the enclosure.)

And, like their daughter, uttered the words “Why not?”

WHY NOT was clearly posted outside the enclosure, within the gated area before entering the enclosure and throughout the enclosed kangaroo area. And, any thinking adult with one eye and half sense could see that these kangas were NOT fuzzy pets or stuffed animals.

I wondered – could these people not read, or were they just total morons?

Or, featherheads as my brother taught his daughter to say of people who acted like they had feathers in their head instead of a brain.

We found out later that they could, indeed, read.  And, so could their boys. The dad read a sign that said “This is how far a kangaroo can jump.  Can you jump that far?” And, the older of the two boys said, “The sign says Do not step off the path and do not touch the well, so why is Mommy looking in the well?”

Good question.  Smart question.  What did Featherhead Dad reply? “Because that’s what Mommy wants to do. Mommy knows these signs don’t apply to her.”

My advice?  Go ahead, Mrs. Featherhead.  One swift kick from a kangaroo will knock some sense in your head. But, just remember – your children are watching and learning.  And, as we’ve already seen, they are following your example. And, your example can get them killed.

And, in the meantime, I’ll call child protective services because YES, Featherhead, if your child is unattended because of your inattention, it’s called neglect in the eyes of the law and it becomes someone else’s responsibility to see that they are cared for and protected.

Kudos to the Rookeeper who did her job and didn’t back down or apologize for doing it.

Parents, corral your kids – be responsible and teach them responsibility by following the rules yourself.  And, if you don’t, be wise – don’t get bent out of shape when someone steps in and acts on their behalf.

Nuff said.

Baby Rarebits

Abbie is a hunter.  Weighing only 9 lbs and barely 7 inches high, she slips in and out of the garden as she hunts monsters and tracks lizards.

Often, the only evidence of her presence in the garden is occasional jiggling seen in the rows of beans and peas as she makes her way amongst and beneath them.

Earlier this week, Abbie disappeared into the garden as she was wont to do and I, busy with whatever it was that occupied me, forgot that she remained outside when Todd (the other doxie) came inside.

An hour or so later, Daughter inquired as to the whereabouts of Abbie.

I suggested she look outside…perhaps she had cornered the illusive monster.

What Daughter found turned our stomachs and broke our hearts.

Abbie had found a nest of baby rabbits in the garden beneath the purple hull peas. Daughter found her with half of one of the bunnies hanging from her jaws.  She yelled for me and shouted at Abbie to release her hold on the brown baby bunny.

She was covered in blood…hot…fresh…smelly animal blood…raw….rarebits.

And, she had devoured half of the bunny leaving the back legs and tail….

Abbie was placed in lock up while Daughter searched for the nest and when she found it, I heard her groan.

Two baby bunnies had been killed…their perfect, little soft bunny bodies had been crushed as Abbie had done what dogs do when they find rabbits.  She mauled them to death. The only evidence of the harm that had befallen them was a drop of blood that trickled from the nostril of one and a trickle of blood from the ear of another.

Poor, poor baby bunnies.

The saddest thing of all was the mother bunny who wanted to return to her babies.  Before letting the dogs out earlier, I had chased her from the garden, unaware that her reluctance to leave the yard betrayed the presence of something precious.  I thought she just wanted to nibble more apple cores.

For several hours that evening, the mother bunny tried to return to our backyard.  I had blocked the opening in the fence that had given her entrance previously.  And, the next morning, she was still there wanting…needing to get to her babies.

Daughter buried the bunnies and headed inside to scold Abbie and bathe her.

The next evening, Daughter turned the dogs out unsupervised – for only a few minutes.

Abbie found the dead, decaying bunnies and dug them up.

And, yes…began noshing on one.

Apparently, Abbie is a common sewer when it comes to eating rabbit.  Todd is no connoisseur when it comes to food either. Not to be outdone, he dug up and devoured the fish heads Daughter buried in the garden after cleaning the fish she and Hubby caught last weekend.

Bunny rarebits and fish heads – that’s enough to turn me into a vegetarian.