Thursday Thoughts

The Race is On
Last night the Arizona Diamondbacks played the Colorado Rockies in a Wild Card game, winner moving to the regular playoffs. Not being particularly a baseball fan, I didn’t watch the game. I’m sure my brother did and Bill watched some of the game. I was hoping for a Rockies victory, though I like the Diamondbacks as well. The Diamondbacks won the game. Each year as we enter the October baseball season and get closer and closer to the World Series, I always think of my dad and how much he loved the Colorado Rockies. In 2007, the Rockies won the pennant and then went on to lose to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. But Dad and Shirley were able to go to one of the World Series home games at Coors Field. It took some strategy and finesse to get them from Fort Collins to the game, but eventually Jen and I managed to walk them to the gate and wave goodbye, as Shirley pushed him into the ballpark in his wheelchair. The Rockies lost that game, but both Dad and Shirley had such a good time. I’m glad he was able to see a World Series game, and I hope that he watched the game last night from heaven (though he might have had other plans).

It’s Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas
Bec texted me yesterday morning to tell me that she turned on her radio yesterday morning to hear her favorite country music station playing Christmas music. She is a lover of Christmas music, but nevertheless, she was stunned to hear holiday tunes on October 4. Thinking it might have been just an accident, she kept listening. Nope, the station is apparently beginning its run of holiday music early. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I sort of wish we could at least get through Halloween before listening to I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.

What I Want for Christmas is the Remodel to Be Finished
Seriously, if you would have told me in the middle of May when the remodel began that I would still be listening to pounding on October 5, I would have cried. But Bill is almost finished. He embarked last week on the very last room in which he will install hardwood floors. The process for all of the rooms has been that he pulled up the carpet, pull up the press board, layed down new plywood, and finally nailed in the hardwood. He has done the family room, the stairway, and the hallway upstairs. As you read this, he is probably nailing the hardwood down into the living room. And yes, even if you read this blog at 6 in the morning. Once the flooring is down, we will have a professional flooring company finish up the sanding and staining. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the job will be complete before company arrives for Thanksgiving! The best news (and I hope I’m not jinxing anything by telling you this) is that he has done the entire job without serious injury……

Movie Comfort
I managed to talk Bill into taking a break on Tuesday, and we went to the movies. We saw American Made with Tom Cruise. We both really liked it, and thought Cruise did a great job. My takeaway was more about our experience, however. I’m telling you man, I love those reclining seats. Just imaging if those poor people that watched Gone With the Wind when it first came out could have had reclining seats for all three-and-a-half hours of watching enjoyment.

Ciao.

Saturday Smile: We Gather Together

These past couple of days have been days of gathering for Bill and me. Thursday night, the men of the McLain family got together for a well-deserved Boys’ Night. Since my sisters and I frequently gather for Girls’ Night, I was darn happy they got such a great opportunity. And how better to gather than at a baseball game? And, better yet, the Rockies beat the Phillies 11-2. Alastair, Bill, Dave, and Allen had a great time…..

Bill Dave Alastair Allen 2016

And yesterday I had lunch with two of my closest buddies from the days when I worked hard for a living. Mark Gallegos and Dave Martinez and I try to get together at least a couple of times a year. While we used to talk about politics, now we talk about grandkids. Times, they are a changin’…..

Tres Amigos 2

Gatherings with family and friends will always make me smile.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday Thoughts

I’ll Have a Cold One Please
I was shopping for a piece of salmon the other day and couldn’t help but notice this sign in the fish case. I wonder what they used to refresh him? An ice cold Budweiser?
Refreshed Salmon

Man v. Tree
And since we’re in AZ, as I write this blog, Bill is of course outside battling his archenemy — the acacia tree. He just keeps cutting it back. Pretty soon it’s going to be nothing but a stump, which is what I think both he and Jen want. Then we will have to deal with what to do about a stump in your front yard. Maybe put a pot with a cactus in it and fight with the homeowner’s association later.

The Real Colorado Rockies
We have had nice weather here in AZ so far, though I think it’s supposed to turn a bit warmer as the days go by. Bill and I had already been enjoying our Denver backyard, and so we are glad that we can sit outside here as well. Cole was over one day while we were in Denver, and he was having an extraordinarily good time entertaining himself. He would take rocks from the side of our yard and move them. Simply move them someplace else. He found it quite a bit of fun. But I will tell you what happened the evening after he left. I have a rocking chair in the backyard, and during the early spring, the squirrels got ahold of it, made a hole in it, and began using the stuffing for a nest. I wasn’t too upset as the cushion was in need of being replaced anyway. I just hadn’t gotten around to it. But that evening, despite the hole, I sat down in the chair with my gin and tonic in hand. Hmmmm, I thought. This doesn’t feel very comfortable. I wonder why. I got up and looked at the cushion and what do I see but three or four rocks nestled into the hole. I wonder how they got there?

I love my nana

Let Me Explain
While in Denver, one afternoon I drove over to our nearaby Chick-Fil-A to get Bill and Alastair some lunch. Two Chick-Fil-A combos and an order of six nuggets. Now, let me explain something. The 2003 Volkswagen Beetle is an adorable little car. There are many things I love about my car. But one of the things that the Germans didn’t think through was the cup holder in the front seat. It swings out so that you can fit one normal sized drink as long as normal means a drink in a cup no larger than six inches high. As for the other cup holder – fugittaboutit. It’s, for all intents and purposes, useless. So, because my two combos included two drinks – and I only had one workable drink holder – I asked the cashier in the drive-thru for a drink holder. But I didn’t stop there. I began apologizing to her and explaining about my cars drink holding limitation. After already going into much more detail than I needed, I began wondering about what in the world makes me feel I need to explain everything. The truth of the matter is that the 16-year-old girl couldn’t possibly have cared less if or why I needed a drink holder. Oy vey.

I’m Counting Calories
And one final story that I will tell on myself. Bill and I made a trip to Winco today. Winco is a large economy-priced grocery store that is owned by the employees. (And once again I am explaining myself when it doesn’t matter what Winco is.) Anyway, one of the things we like about Winco is that they have bin after bin of bulk products, including such things as pastas and spices and candy and chips and pretzels and legumes. Think anything bulk and they have it. So Bill picked out a bunch of chocolate-covered peanuts and bananas and caramels and I picked out Jelly Belly jellybeans. A shameful amount of all, really. But we also bought some healthy things like milk and eggs. When we got to the check stand, I realized that I had bought 2% milk rather than fat free. I actually was considering giving up my place in line to go to the back of the store and exchange my milk. Suddenly I looked down at all of the candy and snacks we had purchased and told Bill, “Uh, never mind.” Sometimes I can only laugh at myself.

Sncacks

And I’m worried about 2% milk?

Ciao.

Take Me Out to Spring Training

I’ve only attended a handful of spring training games in my life. Well, to be perfectly frank, depending on your definition of handful, I have perhaps only attended a handful of professional baseball games of any type in my life.

My brother is grown up now, shown here with his youngest grandbaby Kelsie. He would undoubtedly take a swing today.

My brother is grown up now, shown here with his youngest grandbaby Kelsie. He would undoubtedly take a swing today.

Nebraska wasn’t big on baseball when I grew up. At least not Columbus, Nebraska. The only baseball games I attended when growing up in Columbus were those in which my brother played. For the record, during the course of his Little League baseball career, he didn’t take a single swing at a ball. Not one. I vividly recall my father BEGGING him to take a swing. We don’t care if you miss, my dad told him again and again. We don’t care if you strike out, he would add. Just take a swing. But here’s how my brother’s 6- or 7-year-old brain apparently rationalized his strategy. If I swing, I will likely strike out and humiliate myself. If I get on base via walks, I am fast enough that it is likely I will score. There you have it. It’s simple, really.

The Cactus League, of course, is located in Arizona. In fact, eight different communities in the Phoenix metro area have a baseball park devoted to one or two different teams from around the west and midwest. The teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians, the Colorado Rockies, the Kansas City Royals, the LA Angels, the LA Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Oakland A’s, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants, the Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers. A few teams share a ball park – Arizona and Colorado, the White Sox and the Dodgers, the Indians and the Reds, and the Royals and the Rangers. The others have their own. As you can imagine, the teams and their followers provide quite a boost to the cities’ economies.

This year Bill and I attended the opening Cubs game at Sloan Park in Mesa. As you can imagine, the fans were in a downright FRENZY of ADORATION for their beloved Cubbies who came thiiiiiiis close to going to the World Series. The stadium was packed, and if you didn’t get your tickets weeks in advance (which we did), you were out of luck. I don’t even remember who won the game (or even who they played), but it was a lot of fun.

Yesterday we attended what will be one of the final spring games for the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Field in Scottsdale. They played the White Sox, and unlike the Cubs’ game, the stands were far from full. Having not attended another Rockies game this spring, I don’t know if that is typical, or if the fans have simply run out of steam. The weather was overcast and delightfully cool. But given the weather and the only halfway-full park, the beer venders were begging for sales. Even the man with the hat that makes it look like there’s an arrow going through his head and wearing peanut earrings was desperate to sell a beer or two.

I noticed that there were a variety of fans representing many teams in attendance. Of course there were Rockies and White Sox hats and shirts. I also saw a lot of people wearing shirts with Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Angels logos. And, of course, very many Giants hats and shirts. 2015 World Champions and all….

It is fun to see the kids before the game lined up by the fence looking for autographs. Thespring training 3.28.16 players yesterday were happy to oblige.

They were also happy to hit home runs too. In fact, I quit counting after a total of seven home runs. Three were hit by Rockies players, and they were one after another – three in a row. Imagine the pressure on the fourth man up. He handled it like my brother. He didn’t take a swing and managed a walk. That’s one way to beat the pressure.

Maybe 10 minutes before the National Anthem, I noticed some hubbub down on the field near the Rockies dugout. There was a man spraying what appeared to be bug spray into the corner near where the man who would sing the National Anthem would soon sit. The apparent bug-sprayer man seemed to be quite concerned, and several other Rockies officials also came to check out how things were going. I never was able to figure out what it was they were spraying, and frankly, don’t want to think about it too hard, it being the Arizona desert and all.

And Bill said to me after the game – as he does after every game – we should go to more baseball games this year.

We’ll see.

Thursday Thoughts

Webelos
Tuesday night at 7:30, our doorbell rang. These days it’s starting to get dark at 7:30, so I couldn’t imagine who would be visiting us. I cautiously looked out my peephole because I fully intended not to answer the door – or at least make sure that Bill was standing next to me if I did – unless I knew who it was. Standing on my front porch was the cutest Cub Scout you’ve ever seen, minus his Cub Scout uniform. It was Alastair. And it was that time of year. Boy Scout Popcorn time. Forty bucks for three bags of popcorn. But did I mention it was Alastair? Could you have said no to this face?……..

10325415_10203234870568741_4144293279571499963_n (3)

Breaking Up
bill and parisi sandwichI might owe a few of you apologies for yesterday’s blog, in which I led with a paragraph about breaking up. I quickly went on to say that it was my hair stylist with whom I was ending a relationship. However, after I posted it on Facebook, I noticed that it was really misleading. You see, FB doesn’t let you choose which photo it posts. So all my Facebook friends initially saw was a photo of Bill and the first paragraph about breaking up. I got more hits on my blog from Facebook than I think I ever have. Apparently people thought my marriage was ending. My apologies, and please know that in the unlikely event that my marriage should end, you will never, ever find out on Facebook. Especially not with a picture of a smiling Bill holding a delicious sandwich. I would definitely edit the sandwich out.

For It’s One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out
Yesterday evening, Bill was invited to join Dave and two of his kids – Dagny and Alastair – at the Rockies game. Neither Bill nor I are particularly baseball fans, though we do enjoy the spring training games in Mesa during the month of March. But MAN, it’s not every day you get a chance to enjoy a game on a lovely late summer night with your son and grandkids. So he was excited to say yes.  Dagny was even tossed a practice ball…

rockies game

Rolled Up
In two simple photos, I can show you one of the immense differences between neat and tidy Bill and his wife, Pigpen Kris. I will simply show you how we roll up the hose in the backyard. Here’s the hose when Bill rolls it up….

hose bill rollup

Here’s the hose when I roll it up….

hose my rollup

Need I say more?

School Bell’s Ringing
And the last of my grandkids’ back-to-school photos, with Micah starting preschool….

MIcah first day 2015

Hurricane Season
Court and Alyx are refinancing their home. Because of this, they are required to get a new appraisal. As you would expect, they are hoping for a good number, so they have both been frantically getting their house ready for the inspection. I got a text message from Alyx yesterday afternoon asking if I could possibly pick up the girls from school so that she could keep cleaning, pointing out that it was somewhat difficult to get a lot done with Cole as her helper. As proof, she sent me this photo…..

cole devil (2)

Seriously, have you ever seen a child look more mischievous? That is a boy who loves his work.

Ciao!

Thursday Thoughts

Ah Choo

I told you that I came home to grandkidarama. I couldn’t possibly be more delighted about seeing them again. The thing is, where there are school-age kids, there is often school-age-kids-related illness. Like colds. I went into it with my eyes wide open. I knew a few of the grandkids had sniffly noses. I could hear the coughs. I had a one-year-old’s drool on my sweater from a one-year-old who was later diagnosed with (count ‘em) two ear infections (he would likely have had three had he had three ears). So Tuesday evening when my throat began to feel scratchy, I had to admit to myself that I was likely coming down with a cold. Sure enough, I woke up in the middle of the night with a massively sore throat full of phlegm. My first cold of 2015 is upon me. The hugs and kisses were well worth the few days of sniffling that will ensue. After all, remember this?……..

Cole snuggling

and this…..

looking at disney pics

Mother’s Day Weather

Every Mother’s Day, Bill and I enjoy brunch at the Greenbriar Restaurant outside of Boulder with my sister Jen. Prior to marrying and starting his own Mother’s Day traditions, Court used to join us. BJ hasn’t missed a single one that I can remember. The brunch is magnificent, with tables and tables of goodies from a breakfast bar featuring omelets made to order to salads, prime rib and leg of lamb carving stations, oysters on the half shell, and all things in between. The dessert table alone is worth the price of admission. I remember one year when Court ate 10 or 12 crème brulees by himself. Ah, there is nothing quite like an all-you-can-eat buffet when you’re college-aged. Last year, an infrequent-but-certainly-not-unheard-of winter snowstorm prevented Bill and me from making it to the brunch. Six to eight inches of snow didn’t deter BJ, however, who has four-wheel drive expressly for such emergencies. For 12 months I have lamented missing that buffet. So I have looked foward to Sunday with great pleasure.

Except for the fact that Weather Channel shows a snowflake on their Sunday weather forecast. Be gone, Winter. I told Bill that I will simply not miss this year so that snowflake must go away. We listened to the weather news this morning, and it sounds like the snow will be above 7,000 feet.

Speaking of Weather….

We have had rain every day since we got home, except for the day of our arrival when Bill mowed our overgrown lawn after driving 450 miles. I’m beginning to think that I should start rounding up the animals. Friday we are supposed to watch 8-year-old Dagny sing the National Anthem (along with 100 of her closest Southmoor Elementary Choir friends) at the Rockies game. Unfortunately, the Rockies are having a HELL of a time even having a game because of rain and thunderstorms. Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t look good, I’m afraid. Nor does Saturday’s, when Cole will have his one-year-old birthday celebration, which is designed to be held outdoors. Fingers crossed. And by the way, if Denver is supposed to have over 300 days of sunshine a year, the sun better get busy. I’m eager to begin cleaning up our patio and enjoying a drink in the evening sitting on my rocking chair that we hauled those same 450 miles.

Chihuly Glass Exhibit ala the Beverly Hillbillies

Undoubtedly many of you have had the pleasure of seeing a display of the amazingly beautiful glass designs by glass artist Dale Chihuly. I saw the exhibit a couple of years ago at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, and was lucky enough to see it again last summer at the display at the Denver Botanical Gardens. The colorful glass designs amidst the gorgeous foliage and as part of pretty water features are a sight to behold.

Last fall when we cleaned up our yard in preparation for winter, I threw our plastic balls into our own little empty water feature where they couldn’t blow away and I knew I could easily find them this spring. Because of the rain, however, our little cement pond is full of water. This morning, I looked at the pond and realized we have our own version of a glass exhibit. Watch out Mr. Chihuly.

Chihuly Glass exhibit at Denver Botanical Gardens

Chihuly Glass exhibit at Denver Botanical Gardens

The Beverly Hillbillies version ala our own cee-ment pond.

The Beverly Hillbillies version ala our own cee-ment pond.

Now if I could just find my umbrellas.

 

Saturday Smile: Peanuts and Cracker Jack

salt river fieldBill and I went to our second Cactus League Spring Training game yesterday – this one the Rockies v. the White Sox at Salt River Field at Talking Stick. We actually had real seats just above the third base line instead of sitting on the grass, or so far in the outfield that you have to rely upon the rumor mill to know what’s happening.

first selfie

My first selfie.

Several funny and wonderful things transpired at this game. For example, I took my first selfie. Perhaps as I get better at it, I will learn not to shoot from down to up, as it shows all of my many flaws. J-Lo always looks good in hers….

J-Lo selfie.

J-Lo selfie.

Oh, and I forgot my phone in the car, so after we found our seats, I left the ballpark to go get it. I was feeling very smart because I remembered to take my ticket. What I didn’t remember to do – in fact, never even thought of it – was to get my hand stamped. It was only as I walked back up to the gate that it occurred to me that there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t think I am coming in on someone else’s ticket that had already been scanned.

Which, of course, they did. And it is one of the few times that I think it’s better to be old and lucky than young and sexy. “I promise that I am telling you the truth,” I said, because I’m certain if I was lying I wouldn’t say that. I’m sure that’s what they were thinking. But I guess they just didn’t want to take on this frazzled baby boomer in her Rockies shirt. They let me back in, rolling their eyes all the while.

Probably my favorite thing that happened, however, was on the field. It was the bottom of the fourth inning. Rockies were ahead 2-0, and both of those runs had come that inning. Two outs and the bases were loaded. The batter hit a foul ball down the first baseline. Instead of letting it go foul, the White Sox outfielder DOVE for the ball, literally disappearing into the Rockies bullpen as he caught the ball. He comes up a second or so later with the ball in his hand and a big smile on his face.

And here’s what I like about baseball. As he left the field, the crowd stood up and cheered him. Not just the White Sox fans, but the Rockies fans as well. Now, maybe that wouldn’t happen in a regular season game, but it felt good to let him know we appreciated his hearty effort.

But, friends, I buried the lead.

Just this past week I learned something you all probably knew, but I didn’t: the plural of Cracker Jack is Cracker Jack. You will know just what a nerd I am when I tell you that for 61 years, it has bugged me that “Jacks” didn’t rhyme with “back” in the famous seventh inning stretch song. So it was with great pride and enormous gusto that I sang out “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack; I don’t care if I never get back.”

It rhymes.

Have a good weekend.