Sunday, July 30, 2006

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.

When my Granddad died, my father sold his box seats at Dodger Stadium. My father had four daughters, and he probably thought his girls wouldn't be able to appreciate the joys of baseball. He was wrong.

Sometime in the early-80s, my dad and I started going to Dodger games together. Our family life was unstable, but my dad and I found that we could have some semblance of a relationship by sharing baseball. On warm summer nights he'd come home from work, pick me up, and we'd make the short drive to Dodger Stadium. I loved driving the last stretch up the hill, where a sheer cliff flanked the right side of the road. Maybe my excitement was partially fear of a rockslide, but I did love the drive.

When we got to the Stadium, we'd get a couple of Dodger Dogs before finding our seats. (Dodger Dogs are the only hot dogs worth eating, by the way.) I'd get a Diet Coke, my dad would get a beer, and we'd take our seats, which were usually along the first baseline. The sun was always blinding, at first, but eventually the sun would dip behind the scoreboard and the round, orange Union 76 gasoline sign that stood on top. From that vantage we would watch the game and catch glimpses of the celebrities who were in attendance that day.

My dad taught me how to read the box scores. I learned all the terminology. I listened to the legendary Vin Scully announce the games. I ate Cracker Jack and ice cream and joyfully sang during the seventh inning stretch. I became a huge fan of Steve Sax, Orel Herschiser, and even Fernando Valenzuela. Mostly, though, I learned how to sit still during the very long stretches where nothing seemed to happen. I learned to appreciate the steady, slow rhythms of baseball. And occasionally, my dad and I would have a good conversation about something other than the game itself.

One of my clearest father/daughter childhood memories was in 1988. My parents were on the verge of divorce, and my mom and I had already moved into an apartment. I was a senior in high school and acted like my dad barely existed. He reached out, though, and invited me to Game 1 of the World Series against the Oakland A's. We had incredible seats between homeplate and first base. We were four rows behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The governor was there. The whole stadium was buzzing with excitement, yet my father and I barely spoke during the game. There was an enormous, unspoken tension between us that baseball could not heal. By the ninth inning I couldn't wait to go home.

But then an ailing Kirk Gibson emerged from the dugout, took the plate, and made an amazing, miraculous three-run homer that brought the Dodgers from behind and gave us the win. I remember watching the crowd go nuts and seeing my dad's face. He was happy for the win, but his face showed the strain of our broken family and fractured relationship. It remained one of the many unspoken moments between us, but I think I understood a bit more about my dad that night. He had screwed up our family, but he was aware of his mistakes. He didn't know how to express it, but I think he was sorry about his inability to fix things. I probably didn't express enough appreciation at the time, but I was honored that my dad chose to invite me to the game as opposed to any of his friends.

My dad lives alone now, and I only see him once a year. When I visited him last summer, he enormous television was showing a Dodger game. The screen looked off-color, though, and after a few minutes I realized that Steve Garvey was playing. My dad was watching a replay of an old Dodgers game on ESPN Classic. I don't understand why he'd want to watch a game from 30 years ago, but maybe he was trying to come to terms with his own life, too. Baseball just happens to be his medium.

And now, for sheer love of the game, here's a link to my favorite speech from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams. James Earl Jones could never have given this speech about any other sport.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Caelyn's Latest Word Picture

Five-year-old Caelyn had a stomach ache this morning. "It's like there's a scorpion inside my tummy that's pinching me." She's a little wordsmith, she is. I'll bet she becomes a writer.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stuff on My Cat

The kids and I have discovered a hilarious website:
The basic premise is that cats are even better when you stack stuff on them. Every morning we check out the new photos and giggle.
We're so entertained by the pictures that we've started dressing up our own cat. Poor Zelda has been extremely tolerant, and here's our favorite shot so far.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Favorite Kid Quotes of Late

My kids are always cracking me up with their clever language usages, but I think Caelyn is the most creative. Here are some of her latest quotes:

"Sometimes I'm just melting with happiness!"

"When I get sick, it's like there's a volcano in my tummy that comes out my mouth." (Now there's a vivid picture.)

Then again, Kendra asks the most profound questions, such as:

"Can presidents come back to life?" and

"Why didn't God make all our fingers the same size?" and

"Can a shark's head come up through the toilet and bite me?"

Recent Escapades, Part Three -- SAPD Not Involved

In yet another blip on my screen of bad luck, our mailbox was demolished by a runaway truck last week. A neighbor is building a pool, and the excavators forgot to set the brake. The truck rolled down the street and smashed into our front yard, taking out both our and our neighbor's mailboxes. Thankfully, the kids weren't outside playing. Also thankfully, the excavators have already written a check to fully pay for the replacement mailboxes, which cost over $500 a piece. Until then, I have to drive to the local post office to pick up our mail.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Recent Escapades with the SAPD -- Part Two

Remember the huge garage project I did to surprise Kevin? (He really, really liked it, by the way.) While the paint was drying, I had to park my minivan in the driveway. And here's what happened:

On the Saturday after VBS, I went out for some much-needed alone time. I went shopping, and while I was in Rack Room Shoes (the scene of David's escape; see previous post), I found a super-cheap and fairly cute black purse. I bought it and immediately switched my wallet and cell phone into the new black purse since I was wearing black pants and shoes.

When I came home that night, I brought my old brown purse into the house out of habit. I didn't really think about bringing in the new black purse. Big mistake.

The next morning I went outside with the kids to load up for church. Right away, I noticed that the passenger's window was shattered. I went inside, told Kevin, and asked what would have caused the window to break. Sometimes I'm just so stinking naive, but Kevin once broke a window just from the vibration of his lawnmower, and he did mow the lawn on Saturday, so my thoughts were on that path.

Suddenly it dawned on me that this was an act of vandalism, and that I didn't know where that black purse was. I did a quick search of the house and confirmed that, yes, we'd been robbed.

It only took 90 minutes to call the police and file a report, and then call all the credit card companies to cancel the cards. Several informed me that they had already red-flagged my card since they had noticed unusual activity on the cards. I haven't seen all the statements yet, but it looks like the thieves had a good ole time buying beer at gas stations and getting some electronic equipment at Walmart.

Later that week, the SAPD called me to say they had "recovered" my wallet at the Valero down the street from my house. I went to the police station to pick it up, and some of my cards were still in there. My driver's license is MIA, so some hoodlum is probably using it to get into bars. There were also some credit cards that didn't belong to me in my wallent. Some poor bloke named Steven B. Harwood also got burglarized, I guess, by the same guys. But, at least I got my Costco card back and a few other things. All the cash was gone, but the thieves didn't take my coins. I suppose they aren't interested in small change when they were busy racking up hundreds of dollars of fraudulent purchases.

And here's a tip: The DPS office in New Braunfels is not any faster than the location on Perrin Beitel. I waited an hour with three kids to get a replacement license, and the New Braunfels office didn't have any chairs to sit on. Can't wait to see that new license photo, considering I was rather frazzled and David was pulling on my shorts.