Sunday, June 30, 2013

On This Date in 1998

There have been some weird, unexplained incidents at our house the past couple days.

Yesterday when I went home for lunch, I noticed a trail of mail – five pieces, including a copy of the Times Observer, so I’m not talking about small envelopes or cards – leading from the sidewalk to the front door. I fished four other pieces out of the mailbox. What is going on here? I wondered. I can’t imagine our mailman being so careless. Although I didn’t measure, the pieces on the ground seemed to be an equal distance apart. A kid’s prank?

When I told her about this incident before she left for work this morning, JoAnna asked me about a hair brush that had been sitting on top of the toilet tank in the small bathroom.

“Whose is this?” She had a most puzzled look on her face.

“I assumed it was yours,” I told her. She looked at me at what I hoped was mock-disbelief.

“Are you having an affair?” she asked. I strained to hear a jokey tone in her voice.

“Oh yeah, you caught me,” I said with a laugh. Then my tone became more serious.

“You know the answer to that question.”

JoAnna also wondered what a hammer was doing on the countertop in the dining area. Neither of us could remember using it over the weekend or seeing the boys with it.

When I looked at the car this morning, I immediately noticed something awry. The hood had been popped open. I remember opening the trunk from the inside of the car the previous evening so Andy could retrieve his baseball gear. The hood and trunk controls aren’t anywhere near each other.

 There’s got to be a logical explanation for this stuff. The brush could be Meaghan’s. It could have become separated from the pack in which she totes her swimming gear. From its size, it looks like a brush that a girl in grade school would use.

Anyway, I now find myself looking at things around the house more closely. Is anything out of place? Anything missing? Not where it belongs? Stay tuned for the next installment of The Mysteries of Mayflower Drive.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Another warm weekend. And another busy weekend, but of a different, less focused sort. Not everything has revolved around baseball, although it did start out that way.

Andy was the only one with a game scheduled for Friday evening. On Wednesday, both of the boys’ games were postponed, not due to rain but rather the threat of rain and a skyful of lightning. It was quite an electrical display. They occurred during the late afternoon/early evening at the beginning of the week, during the night later in the week.

Maybe it was the result of a week-long heat wave, but both teams looked ragged on Friday. Most of the boys didn’t seem to be interested in the game they were playing. Every once in awhile, I heard a parent shout out an encouragement that seemed to border on a reprimand.

 “Chase, keep your head in the game!” The second baseman was acting a little goofy.

“Brandon, watch what’s going on on the field.” The rightfielder practically had his back to the rest of the team.

Andy stayed focused. He played right-centerfield for the first two innings, first base for an inning, sat out an inning, and then pitched the last two innings. Like his three teammates before him who pitched, he had a little bit of trouble with his accuracy. With runners at second and third and two outs, he managed to get the batter to look at a called third strike on the outside corner. Good pitch! I missed the final inning so we could start for our next destination right after the game. While playing with a couple of boys who also have brothers on the baseball team, Eddie managed to get himself covered with dirt, a regular Pigpen. We went home so he could clean off his face, arms, and legs and then change his clothes. Our friends Ron and Julie were hosting a sheepshead party, which got underway around 6:00, the same time Andy’s game started. We arrived around 8:30 and Ron fired up his gas grill again and cooked us some hamburgers. Otherwise, our food options would have been limited to chips and salsa, chips and dip. And we were hungry folks. We sat on their new deck, the one we helped put together a couple of weekends ago, until the mosquitoes drove us inside, shortly before ten o’clock, then played until midnight in a chilled living room. The air-conditioner must have been cranked to high.

I had terrible cards all evening. Even so, I was up a couple dollars after the first hour or so. I either had a partner hand, and went along for the ride, or the picker didn’t get enough points to win. By the time we left, though, I was down at least a couple dollars. We don’t play for big stakes: a quarter per hand.

While the adults played cards, the boys watched TV. Air Bud was on the Disney channel. Andy and Eddie were wonderful the entire time, never complaining, never getting in anyone’s way. They always seem to enjoy the time they spent at Ron and Julie’s house.

Oh, by the way, Andy’s team won by a score of 11-2. Andy walked all three times he was up to bat. The opposing team had one marginally good pitcher, but the other three could – literally – barely get the ball over the plate. A lot of runs scored on bases on balls. For that reason, it was a very slow-paced, uninteresting game, at times comparable to watching paint dry. It was a lackadaisical evening all around – for both players and fans.

Saturday morning we began phase one of JoAnna’s pre-Bastille Day Party housecleaning. From the list of locations she had prepared, I selected following: utility room, back hallway, and garage. JoAnna gave the kitchen a thorough going-over: cupboards, stove, floor. She even cleaned the salt and peppers shakers. It was that kind of attention to detail. The boys, of course, lounged in the family room watching TV. I actually didn’t’ get to the garage until Sunday morning. 

Andy had made arrangements to have a friend sleep over. Drew Farrell and his mom stopped by at 2:00. Drew and Andy actually have a mutual history going back a few years. They played on the same coach-pitch baseball team three years ago and the same basketball team the year before last, when Andy was in third grade. Drew also plays on the select baseball team. Drew will be a fifth grader at Sauk Trail School in Middleton this fall. Andy ran into him at the new outdoor pool early last week, and since then things have really clicked between the two of them.

JoAnna and I dropped the boys off at the pool and then continued our party preparations. We stopped at a store called Party City to pick up plastic plates, utensils, cups, wine glasses, tablecloths as well as napkins and a few miscellaneous items. We also went to Target, in the same “big box power center” strip mall to buy some new hand towels for the bathrooms, then to Menard’s for a fan light for the kitchen and a green metal arbor for the side yard.

While Jo fixed supper, I joined the boys at the pool. The water felt great after a couple hours of running errands on a hot day. Eddie kept me company during the hour that I was there. While the boys and I were enjoying the refreshing coolness of the pool, JoAnna barbecued chicken and ribs for supper. The ribs had been marinated with Cajun seasonings. Outstanding! We ate on the patio, one of the few times we have used our picnic table this summer.

After supper the boys decided they wanted to see a movie. Our choices were limited, due both to the quality and ratings of the summer releases. Eddie had been intrigued by the previews he saw on TV for Doctor Doolittle, a movie that had just opened to tepid reviews at best. Not being an Eddie Murphy fan, I gritted my teeth and decided to make the best of it. It turned out to be a very funny and entertaining movie, on that Murphy didn’t overwhelm with the usual steamroller force of his personality. He was relatively restrained, a performance that perfectly fit the character he played. Eddie chuckled throughout the movie, and at one point told me, “This is the funniest movie I have ever seen.” One reviewer remarked that parents might complain about the movie’s rating, but the jokes about a flatulent gerbil or a thermometer getting stuck up a dog’s rectum, for example, were very mild. The movie was rated PG-13, but I would have given it a PG. At least a third of the audience seemed to be kids in the age range of Andy and Eddie. I took the boys to Dairy Queen after the movie, forgetting that JoAnna had prepared strawberry shortcake. I had mind for breakfast the next day. I don’t think the boys would have been interested anyway.

According to the report we heard the next day, the boys stayed up until 12:30. Andy let Eddie join in on the fun. In fact, it was never an issue about where Eddie was going to sleep. We let the boys have the family room, opening up the couch. They watched a video and then some of the X games coverage on ESPN. Another storm blew in around 4 a.m., maintaining the one-a-day pattern. JoAnna turned on the TV to check the Doppler radar. We saw a lot of red covering Dane County and a few minutes later, when we looked out the window, the rain was indeed coming down in sheets. I don’t know if the storm disturbed the boys. They didn’t make any mention of it.

We walked in a parade on Sunday, promoting the candidacy of Jon Erpenbach for state senate. Jon used to work for JoAnna as public relations coordinator. He has a background in TV and radio, and, actually, used to work for the senator, Joe Wineke, who now holds the seat. Joe decided to make a run for the open seat in the 2nd congressional district. JoAnna, Julie, and I handed out Packer and Badger schedules and Andy, Drew, and Eddie, on their rollerblades, tossed Tootsie Rolls to the paradegoers. It took uis a half hour to walk the route. It was a hot day but, fortunately, not as humid as it had been a couple days ago. JoAnna and I were glistening with sweat when we reached the car. Drew’s dad, by the way, is one of Jon’s best friends. They went to school together from the elementary grades through high school. They used to double date and are both married to the “high-school sweethearts”, who are both named Kathy.

After dropping Drew off at home, the family went swimming at the outdoor pool. This was JoAnna’s first visit, my second in two days, probably the boys’ 10th or so. We are making good use of our family pass. Drew, his mom and Sister (Eddie’s age) made an appearance shortly after our arrival, which pleased Andy, of course. JoAnna and I left at 3:30, as she had a 4:00 meeting to attend. Another campaign powwow, this one for Rick Phelps, who is also running for the 2nd congressional district, and whom JoAnna and I favor over Joe. I ran a few errands before returning to the pool – Meikle’s True Value to get more potting soil for the final patch of backyard reseeding, Brennan’s for fresh fruit, and Sentry for groceries for the boys’ lunches this week.

Supper was pot luck, help yourself, whatever you can scrounge up. There was a leftover slab of the Cajun ribs that JoAnna barbecued on Saturday, which I claimed. JoAnna finished the chicken. Later, Andy and I went to one of the high-school ball diamonds so he could practice his pitching. Drew’s team was having a batting practice and I think Andy was hoping he would run into him. We didn’t. Andy threw some heat, pitching the ball very accurately. I was quite impressed.

The boys went to bed relatively early for a summer evening, but I’m sure they were beat. Including the time we waited for the parade to start, they were on their rollberblades for over an hour and at the pool for nearly three, the sun shining relentlessly as a result of no cloud cover. I let them sleep in this morning until after 8:00.

JoAnna and I were in bed relatively early, too. We watched the Game Show network – a line-up of black-and-white golden oldies from the 1950s – until the station became scrambled. This seems to happen every night at 10:30 and I have no idea why. I had soaked up a lot of sun during the day, most of it seemingly absorbed by my face. I look like quite the outdoorsman right now. Ruddy complexion. Sun-bleached hair.

So much for this weekend news update.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wilson's Motel, Bardstown, Kentucky (Postcard Series)

Bardstown was one of the first cities in Kentucky to be settled by European Americans.

Monday, June 24, 2013

On This Date in 1998

A thunderstorm rumbled through Middleton early this morning. The noise disturbed the boys’ sleep, as well as their feelings of safety and well-being, so they joined Mom and Dad in bed until the storm passed over. Not realizing they were up and about, JoAnna let out a startled scream as they entered the room. That jolted me awake. We lay scrunched together, listening to the storm, not saying too much. After one particularly loud crack of lightning, the clock radio emitted a soft click. It was 5:00 a.m. and we were without power.

JoAnna and I stayed in bed past our usual time. JoAnna wanted to be able to use her hair dryer after taking a shower, and I was just being lazy. I finally got out of bed at quarter to seven, 45 minutes past my usual time, wondering why it was taking so long to restore power. I exercise on the Walkfit for 10 minutes instead of my usual 20. On warm, muggy mornings, I like to have a fan blowing air on me, and that was not an option today.

Just as I started to prepare the boys’ lunches, I heard another click and then the grinding noise of the dehumidifier. It was 7:20, so we were without power for nearly two and a half hours. At the library, I learned that none of the other staff members had lost power. Must have been a small area that was affected.

Our invitations for the Bastille Day party have all been sent out, and a few people have already responded. I hope the weather will be cooler than it’s going to be this weekend. We are in store for some hot and sticky days. At least we’ll be outdoors Friday evening, out of our sticky house. Ron and Julie are hosting a sheepshead party on their new deck. Saturday we’ll probably go to a movie and out to eat to avoid the heat. The boys will continue to make good use of the family pass I bought for the new outdoor pool here. In fact, JoAnna and I should start going there, although I imagine it’ll be a crunch of bodies this weekend.

A lotta baseball so far this summer. Eddie plays twice a week in a calch-pitch league. Andy also plays twice a week in the Little Bucks league. Last weekend, Andy played in his first tournament, which was held in Beaver Dam. His team started out on a good note, winning their first game Saturday by a score of 9-4. Then they ran up against a very tough team from Fond du Lac and lost 13-0. Fond du Lac won its first game by the same score. Sunday Middleton lost to Beaver Dam, a game that was close during the first two innings, but then Middleton fell apart on defense. Had they won, we would have had to stay around fore another three hours until the semi-final games. I know that some parents and even some of the kids weren’t that disappointed to leave. Overall, it was a good experience for the boys. They’ll know what to expect the next time. Andy will play in two more tournaments this summer, one of which is scheduled in Reedsburg on the weekend of the family reunion, unfortunately.

Boxer is starting to get bolder. This morning he jumped onto a kitchen chair and then onto the table to slurp up the milk that Eddie had left behind in his cereal bowl.. Last week I opened a can of tuna fish and heard a long chorus of meows. Boxer was begging for a taste, which I refused to give to him. JoAnna is still taking about getting a second cat, a playmate for our kitty meowsers. Is this really a good idea? I wonder. I don’t have any base of knowledge in this area, but then I do work in a library where we have books on taking care of cats and learning about their behavior.

So I followed up on this idea and learned the following. “The building of friendship between two cats takes much longer than people want ti to. Most people expect the first and second cats to love each other and play together right away. If this actually happens, consider yourself lucky. It’s rare. Cats don’t believe in love at first sight. It can be several months before they get used to each other. Be sure that you don’t do anything to cause jealousy in either cat.” In another section of the book, the author says you probably shouldn’t leave two cats alone during the first two or three weeks they come into contact. Hmm.

Maybe we want to rethink this second cat business or talk to Meaghan’s dad, our vet, and get his spin on this.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Backing up to Thursday.

We had back-to-back thunderstorms during the early afternoon. During my lunch hour, I stopped at a nearby grocery store to buy a few items, mostly paper products as we had just about depleted our supply of toilet paper, Kleenex, and paper towels. The heavens opened up while I was in the checkout line. I stood under the canopy outside for 15 minutes waiting for the rain to let up. Because of the bulk of my purchases, I had four bags to load into the car. I would have got drenched making a dash to the car, let alone trying to get anything inside. I saw long bolts of lightning. The ear-splitting crack and roll of the thunder made me feel a little weak in the knees. Once the storm started to let up, I made my getaway. I unloaded the bags at the house and then returned to the library. On my way there, a second storm blew in. Literally. All of a sudden, I see the trees start to shake violently, and, a half block ahead of me, a sheet of rain moving almost sideways, as far-fetched as that may sound. It was a sight to behold.

Thursday evening I drove to Oshkosh just ahead of the day’s third storm. Actually, my destination was Waukau, a small community about 20 miles west of Oshkosh. I had made arrangements to visit LeRoy and Patsy Stahle. They live in a remodeled farmhouse, with three outbuildings on the property they purchased. One of them is the barn in which their two horses are kept. From 1970 to 1993, LeRoy drove the county bookmobile for the Oshkosh Public Library. He and Patsy used to host a library hayride every October during the early 1980s. A tractor would pull a hay
wagon along the mostly deserted country roads and we’d make periodic stops at a number of bars, then eat chili and enjoy the warmth of a huge bonfire. Those were fun times. Patsy worked at Speed Queen in Ripon. She retired four years ago. LeRoy is 64 and Patsy is 61, so they have plenty of years ahead of them. They are two wonderful people.

JoAnna and I were a little puzzled by Melanie’s remarks, especially being asked if she is a Christian. They just don’t ring true. First of all, are Christians the only people who are offended by the use of alcohol and drugs? Any devout person – Muslim, Jew, Buddhist – would likely find such behavior offensive. I’m sure that even some atheists would be offended. It wasn’t clear if Melanie’s visit included a job interview, but even in an informal situation, I can’t imagine someone saying, “We allow drinking and drugs on campus.” Beloit College is above the law? The drinking age is 21 and drugs are illegal, but of course that doesn’t stop students on most American campuses from experimenting. Maybe she misinterpreted something said to her. Nowadays, questions about religious affiliations (or sexual preference or health conditions) aren’t asked even casually during a job interview. As for the two women “making out”, that is certainly within the realm of possibility on a campus as tolerant and socially liberal as Beloit.

Eddie played baseball yesterday; Andy had the night off so he went swimming. The game was wild and woolly, lots of runs scored. Again, Eddie had a good night at the plate. He made a great play at third, fielding a groundball and tagging out the runner coming from second. It seemed like he instinctively knew what to do. Once again, the coach did not show up, so one of the dads volunteered to be an assistant coach took over, made out the lineup, moved the kids around the field on defense. The final score, you might be wondering. I have no idea. I think Eddie’s team won, something like 15-14. On the way home, I dropped off Eddie at the pool. (I had brought along his trunks and a towel.) He had twenty minutes to cool off and join his brother and Meaghan. The pool should get a lot of use this week, by the boys and many other people. We’re enjoying some hot, but not too hot, summertime weather. So far, it still cools off during the night, the temperature falling to the high 50s or low 60s. We have no problem sleeping.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On This Date in 1998

My shoulders and upper back are still a little warm from all the sun they absorbed this past weekend, especially on Saturday. My face, noticeably reddened as a result of this overexposure, feels a little tight along the forehead, but I’ve been applying a moisturizing cream every once in awhile.

Andy had quite a weekend of baseball. He played Friday evening, a regular league game, pitching on inning and getting out of a bases-loaded jam, his team going on to win 10-5, or something like that. I only caught the second inning of the game, having spent the day in Oshkosh where I had scheduled a WLA board meeting at the public library. JoAnna wanted to watch Andy play, so after my quick stop at Andy’s game, I drove to another part of town to watch Eddie’s game. He played much better than he did on the previous Monday, making contact with the ball three times he was up and getting on base. His team won, but I have no idea what the score was. After the game, we drove back to where Andy was playing and caught the final inning of the game. For supper, we went to Culver’s, a Wisconsin-based fast-food franchise, with a better and more varied menu than McDonald’s and Burger King. With a big weekend ahead of us, it was early to bed for everyone.

Andy’s first game of the Beaver Dam baseball tournament was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Beaver Dam is less than an hour’s drive from Middleton, going northeast on state highway 151. The coach had asked everyone to meet in the high school parking lot by 9:00, so he could distribute the uniforms. (Caps, jersey, and socks. The boys supply their own pants.) With a second game scheduled at 2:00, JoAnna and I packed a cooler with soda, sandwiches, apples, baby carrots, and brought along other stuff to tack on. (Goldfish, Twizzlers, pretzels.)

Middleton played a team from Waunakee, another suburban Dane County community, in its first game. Our boys got off to a quick 3-9 lead in the first, then held Waunakee scoreless for three innings and added three more runs in the bottom of the 3rd. Then Waunakee came back with 4 runs in the top of the 5th, three of them scoring on a bases-loaded smash to centerfield that neither the rightcenterfielder or leftcenterfielder (Andy) had a chance to catch. (In the league for 10 year olds, they play with four outfielders.) Andy, though, quickly ran to the ball and made a great throw to third base to beat the runner. Three outs. End of rally. Then Middleton tried to put the game out of reach with three more runs in the bottom half of the 5th. Waunakee didn’t score in the 6th, so Middleton won its first tournament game, 9-4.

The game was played at Lakeview Park, a very attractive outdoor space encompassing about four city blocks. Although it was close by, we didn’t have a view of the lake. (Maybe it was visible years ago when the park was first created.) We stayed here and had a picnic before moving to the location of the second game, a complex of four baseball diamonds in a different part of the town. We found a Dairy Queen along the way. With the temperature approaching 90 and the sun blazing down mercilessly, a cold treat seemed definitely in order.

The heat may have been part of the reason for Middleton’s poor showing in game two, but they were matched up against a very powerful (and older-looking) team from Fond du Lac. Fondy’s first two batters hit balls that should have been fielded cleanly and resulted in outs. Batter number three then poked a tremendous shot over the left-field fence for a home run. Then fences are short, of course, by major-league standards, but he still had to have hit the ball about 225 feet. I was relieved that the team had scored only five runs when the third out was recorded. The opponent’s two pitchers threw smoke all game. Middleton’s players aren’t used to seeing such good pitching over the course of an entire game. They managed to load the bases when the second pitcher had a bit of a problem with his control during his first inning of pitching but were unable to get a runner home. Final score: 13-0 in four innings. The games don’t go the full six innings when the score is that lopsided. Fond du Lac won its morning game by the same score. I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the championship game.

We were happy to feel the blast of the air-conditioner on the drive home. The outside temperature as shown on the digital dashboard display registered as high as 93. The lawn needed mowing, but that chore was not going to get done until another day.

“We should go to a movie,” JoAnna suggested.

In that way, we could continue to enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned space. Throughout the week, Eddie had expressed a desire to see the new Disney movie, Mulan, which wasn’t even near the top of my “gotta-see” list, but since he behaved so well during what I’m sure was a long day for him, he deserved to make the choice. I found the movie a bit silly. The songs were uninspired, and the animation flat. The computer-enhanced images seemed borrowed from last year’s Hercules, a movie I was expecting to detest, based on the previews I saw, but which I actually found quite charming. But who cares what Dad thinks, right? Eddie enjoyed the movie, his frequent laughter attesting to this. JoAnna and Andy also like it.

After the movie, we drove to a nearby Pizza Hut for supper. The boys ordered a stuffed-crust pepperoni pizza. JoAnna and I tried a new item on the menu, Bakemates, I think it’s called, although that doesn’t sound right now – rotini, chicken, and vegetables in an alfredo sauce. Not bad. It was served very hot with 2 garlic breadsticks.

JoAnna was actually the first one in bed Saturday night. Andy and Eddie didn’t get to bed until 10:00. I used the quiet time to catch on up paying some bills and tidying up my desk.

Sunday morning we were on the road to Beaver Dam at 10:15. Middleton’s first game was scheduled at 12:00. The opposing team, one of two host teams from Beaver Dam, looked much less intimidating than the Fond du Lac team.

“They might actually have a chance of winning and making it into the semi-finals,” I thought, which would mean another game at 4:30. Believe me, I had mixed feeling about how much baseball I wanted to watch in one weekend.

After two innings, the score was knotted at 2-2. When Beaver Dam started hitting the ball with authority in the 3rd inning, Middleton’s defense fell apart. It wasn’t so much fielding the ball, as to what to do with it once they had it. The infielders weren’t playing their positions, leaving bases open and allowing runners to advance, then making errant throws to advance even more. In the top of the 6th, the score was 10-3, Middleton down and seemingly out. However, they staged a rally, scoring three runs until a pop-up to the pitcher, with the bases loaded, ended the inning. A basehit would have probably made it a one-run game with the team’s best hitter coming up to bat. I noticed the coach’s son didn’t seem to be too disappointed.

“Yeah, now we can go home,” I heard him say as he ran off the field. I think he probably expressed the sentiments of most of his teammates and perhaps a majority of the parents. It was a good learning experience for the boys, though, and they’ll be better prepared for their next tournament, which takes place in Madison on the last weekend in July. There’s also a tournament the following weekend in Reedsburg, about an hour northwest of Middleton. Looks like Andy and I won’t be attending the Richard family reunion this year.

The boys slept during the drive home, and JoAnna eyes were very heavy as I parked the van in the garage. She took a nap, Andy immediately called Meaghan, Eddie watched TV in the kitchen, and I tackled a few household chores. Later I started to mow the front yard, but JoAnna, up from her nap now, said, “No, you don’t have to do that. It’s Father Day.” I turned the job over to her and went to the back yard where I picked up some debris – mostly broken tree branches - -from Saturday’s late-evening thunderstorm. I also uprooted dozens of little maple sprouts that had been hoping to make a home in our flower beds. Then I went inside and rested, taking a well-timed TV break to watch some of my favorite reruns on the Game Show network: Password, What’s My Line?, I’ve Got a Secret. JoAnna bought some steaks for a Father’s Day cookout, but the boys wanted to go swimming.

"It’s your decision,” JoAnna told me, since permission granted would mean we wouldn’t have a family supper. Since I had just spent $80 for a family pool pass earlier in the week, I allowed the boys to go and even drove them and Meaghan to the pool, with the idea that I’d pick them up in an hour. An hour later, Meaghan was ready but the boys were having too much fun. I drove Meaghan home as she had to be home at 6:30, no ifs, ands, or buts.

The boys missed a great meal. JoAnna cooked the steaks – a sirloin strip for me, a T-bone for her – to perfection. In fact, she couldn’t eat all of hers, so I packed away the rest of it.

We both went to pick up the boys at 7:30, a half hour before the pool closed. Andy was with Drew Farrell, a teammate on the select baseball squad who was also on Andy’s baseball team in 3rd grade and coach-pitch baseball team the summer after 1st grade. Drew goes to Sauk Trail School. “Drew” is actually a shortened form of Andrew. Eddie was having a great time both on his own and with a baseball teammate of his. Since they were already clean, there was no need to play “Battle of the Showers”. Andy will often promise to take a shower in the morning when he needs to clean the grime off his body before going to bed. Eddie will sometimes resist until I start the shower for him.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On This Date in History

Here is another letter with yet another font style. Microsoft Word, the word processing program I am using, offers more than 50 choices, though you shouldn’t expect me to try them all. I try to pick a readable style, and at least half of what is offered is a little too artsy or specialized.

I feel a little responsible for Andy’s below-average pitching performance yesterday. I left work early so he could warm up before his game. He pitched about 10 minutes, about an hour before game time. In the first inning of the game, the first two batters hit the ball back to Andy. He fielded each one cleanly and made an accurate throw to first. Two outs. I was happy to see him off to such a good start. The next batter, a classmate and soccer teammate of Andy’s who is my nominee for best hitter in the Little Bucks League, boomed a double over the right-fielder’s head. Batter number four hit a dribbler to the third baseman, who had trouble picking I tup and made a very late, but accurate throw to first. Then the first baseman, noticing that the lead runner was ten feet off third base, threw the ball back to the third baseman, who let it get by him into foul territory. The unearned run tied the score. Andy’s team had scored once in the top of the first. In the second inning, Andy lost his control. He walked three batters and hit two. I wondered if maybe he was tired from the pitching he did before the game. He was upset with himself, and I felt so bad for him, but he managed to finish the inning, but not before the other team scored four runs.

I was pleased that Andy was able to shake off his disappointing performance rather quickly. He stayed involved in the game. The second pitcher for his team didn’t do any better, also giving up five runs in 2 innings. A couple of pitchers on the other team were wild, also, which allowed Andy’s team almost to make a comeback. Down 10-8 in the top of the 6th (in a 6 inning game), Johnny Strnad, the team’s best player, was up with the bases loaded. The players were screaming encouragement from the sidelines, but Johnny ended up grounding out into a force out. The two teams that played last night are probably the best in the league.

Later in the evening, when I asked Andy about the warm-up pitches, he said, no, that wasn’t the problem. He was trying to aim the ball. Meaghan, the only girl in the league, led off the 2nd inning, and I wonder if her presence upset his pitching rhythm. His first two pitches were way outside, as if he was afraid he might hit her. As his coaches told him, everyone has an offday. Next time Andy should feel a little bit more comfortable in a pressure situation.

This morning I left Andy sleep in until 8:15. He has another game tomorrow evening and plays in a tournament in Beaver Dam this weekend. “He needs his rest,” I thought, “and I don’t have to be to work at any particular time.” That gave me a chance to do a few things around the house: finish sawing up the tree limb I cut down last weekend into manageable pieces to carry to the curb, sweep the kitchen floor (dotted with so many crumbs I’m surprised I didn’t hear a crunch when I walked on it), vacuum the back hallway (where the boys deposit wood chips from the inside of their shoes each day), start a load of ash and get it into the dryer before leaving for work.

Eddie was up when I finished my Walkfit, an unusual circumstance as he is usually the one who is reluctant to get up. Andy’s sleeping in gave Eddie some bonus TV time. Also more time to play with Boxer, who is starting to move off the floor with greater ease and spring.

This morning as I was leaving the bedroom, I heard the soft plink of a chord of sour notes coming from the living room. I found Boxer crouched on top of the paino, loking at his world from a new vantage point. He hoped back to the floor with a little bit of assistance on my part and a gruff, “No, Boxer!” Tuesday night I fixed myself a tossed salad with tuna added in. Boxer remained at my feet throughout my preparations, meowing occasionally and looking as though he might be considering a jump to the countertop. I suspect that feat is in the not-too-distant future. For that reason, I resisted the urge to give him a treat.

I apologize for not calling lately. Things have been so hectic with the boys’ sometimes competing baseball schedules and our other activities. While exercising this morning, I thought about calling before going to work but got sidetracked by other things. At least you are getting regular letter from me, so you have an idea of how life is proceeding her. The big 4 – work, the boys, the house, the yard – take up most of our time.

I haven’t been following baseball too closely this year. I usually have the TV tuned to “Sports Center” when I’m on the Walkfit, catching as many baseball highlights that will fit into my 20 minutes of exercise. I glance at the team standings (hoping for a Yankee loss, which happens too infrequently this season) and the box scores (more interested in attendance figures than anything else – wondering how much longer Montreal and the Twin Cities can keep a baseball team when they usually attract less than 10,000 people to a game), but I don’t study them like I did 30 years ago. I leave that to Andy now. I’d like to take the family to a game at Wrigley Field sometime this summer. I made a couple of trips there in the mid-80s with some Oshkosh friends. It’s a great ballpark; it has a very intimate feel. Every once in awhile, Andy will ask about the possibility of this trip. I should check the schedule for a good match-up. The Cubs vs. Cardinals. Andy would get a kick out of seeing Mark McGwire in action.

The Beacon Motor-Hotel and Coffee Shop, .Barstow, California

Source:  Waymarking  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City (Postcard Series)

The Art Deco building opened in 1936.

Photo credit:  Kansas City Broadway Series

On This Date in 1998

So begins another week. June is zipping along at a pretty fast clip. I’d rather see it move along at a more leisurely pace, but I’m sure that won’t happen. I’d have to discover a miracle of physics, and sometimes I have a problem locating my keys.

During the summer I have to add a task to my morning routine. During the school year, the boys almost always buy their lunch at Elm Lawn, but the summer program they are enrolled in at Sauk Trail doesn’t provide a hot lunch option, so I need to make them one. For Eddie, it’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a small container of applesauce, a can of Fresca, cookies, and depending upon what’s available, goldfish or baby carrots. Andy eats a turkey and cheese sandwich with mayo, a fruit cup, and then the same as what I pack for Eddie. JoAnna created a list of household chores for othe boys to do in order to earn their allowance: make their beds, tidy up their rooms, put their clothes away, wash the dishes, take out the garbage. For Andy’s I should add “make your own lunch”.

Friday evening, JoAnna attended the state Democratic convention at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace in Madison. Neither of the boys had a baseball game scheduled. Andy preferred to stay at home instead of going out to eat, so we ordered a pizza for delivery and watched game 5 of the Bulls-Jazz series. I was pleased to see the Jazz win. Andy, of course, wanted the Bulls’ celebration to begin.

Saturday afternoon, we participated in a “deck-raising”. Ron and Julie, friends of ours who live in the east side of Madison, were putting a deck off their back porch. They are part of the group that we occasionally play cards with. JoAnna and I thought the boys wouldn’t be interested, but Andy wanted to go and that, of course, left Eddie with no choice. He wanted to stay home. Andy asked if Meaghan could come along with us, and I didn’t see a problem with that, as the boys usually accompany us to our card parties anyway. We arrived at 12:30, in time for a hamburger cookout. JoAnna didn’t show up until nearly 2:00 as she was at the Dem convention again. Ron’s parents and one of his brothers were there as well as a half dozen of Ron and Julie’s friends. Most of the people in attendance observed the work being done. For about an hour or so, I used a power drill to insert screws into the wood beams. The kids behaved very well, keeping out of the way most of the time. Andy and Meaghan brought their baseball gloves along and were able to play catch. On the drive back to Middleton, we stopped at Best Buy so Andy could buy a CD by Chumbawamba, a group that had a #1 hit earlier this year with their song “Tubthumper”. Not a group or song I’m familiar with. Later, giving into his persistent requests, I took Eddie to Target so he could buy a Beast War toy. The particularly character he wanted wasn’t in stock. We searched the toy section thoroughly. Eddie seemed more perplexed than disappointed. On the way home, we stopped at our neighborhood Walgreen’s, as I wasn’t in the mood to drive an additional three miles to Toys R Us. Fortunately, and against all odds I had figured, he found what he wanted there.

JoAnna and I pretty much vegged out Saturday night. The boys went swimming t the outdoor pool. During the morning, I had worked on another portion of the front lawn, reseeding a particularly bare area, so I had my sense of accomplishment for the day. (The project continues to be a success.) We ended up watching a movie, Romancing the Stone, a romantic comedy/thriller with Michael Dougals and Kathleen Turner. I saw it when it was first released in 1984, the spring before I met JoAnna. She had never seen it.

Since JoAnna had a meeting to attend at 1:00 Sunday afternoon, we weren’t able to plan any family activity. Meaghan spent most of the day at our house. I kept hearing Andy complain about their being nothing to do. When he asked if I’d take them miniature golfing, I declined. Meaghan’s dad ended up providing taxi service. I watered my grass seed and then finished the challenging task of “pruning” a 8-inch-diameter limb from the silver maple in the back yard. I wasn’t using the most effective tool, although I did get the thing down after 30 minutes of dogged persistence. Then it took me another hour to but the limb into manageable pieces and transport them to the curb. The branch had been interfering with the straight growth of the three evergreens.

JoAnna fixed a pasta salad and we grilled out hamburgers for supper. Afterwards Andy and I rode our bikes to a nearby ball field and he practiced his pitching and batting. Andy’s team has played two games so far this season and won both of them, 12-3 last Monday and 6-0 on Wednesday. Andy has pitched two innings in each game, giving up only 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walked, and notching 8 strikeouts. He looks good on the mount, at ease and confident, with a very economical pitching motion.

I’ve been reading the articles about Warren Public Library in the Times-Observer (Which reminds me. I need to renew my subscription.) The library certainly generates a lot of publicity but, unfortunately, most of it is bad. Speaking of bad news, the closing of Carnahan’s certainly isn’t good news for downtown. The mall never did turn downtown Warren into a ghost town, although a lot of former retail space is now used for offices. I think the idea of developing the riverfront is a long overdue good idea and maybe that will help to reinvigorate the downtown area.

I’ve enclosed some pictures of Boxer (and family).

Monday, June 10, 2013

On This Date in 1998

JoAnna and I are suffering through a second week of a summer cold.  Actually, "suffering" is probably too strong a word.  It's not like we've been down and out.  What started out as a slight sore throat gave way to clogged sinuses accompanied by a cough and a lack of zip.  We haven't missed any work.  Until last night, JoAnna hadn't been sleeping too well.  A dose and a half of NyQuil took care of that problem.  I've limited my drug intake to an occasional Vicks cold and cough fizzy drink. I usually wake up in the morning feeling worse than when I went to bed, but once I start moving around -- stretching, doing my usual 20 minutes of Walkfit -- I start to feel better.

The boys have remained healthy.  They both started their baseball seasons Monday night.  Same time, different diamonds.  I watched the first couple innings of Eddie's couch-pitch game, long enough to see him run out an infield hit.  None of his teammates could bring him around to score. On Saturday, I thought Eddie's baseball season might be over.  He didn't want to attend his practice. At first he was reluctant to tell us the reason why.  Not completely successful in holding back his tears, he said, "Some kids don't like me."  JoAnna and I exchanged wounded glances while Eddie tried to compose himself.  Eddie knows a few of the boys on the team.  In fact, one of them, Derek, has been his best friend through most of 1st grade.  Through gentle prodding, we convinced him to attend his practice. When we picked him up, he appeared to be in good spirits.  On Monday, he seemed to be eager to get to his game, especially after I told him that his coach would have a t-shirt for him.  (For some unexplained reasons, he didn't get his shirt last week when the rest of the team did.  When I asked him about it, he didn't seem to want to acknowledge the question.)

Andy's team was playing just a short walk away.  I let Eddie know where I was going and he didn't object.  I was able to watch Andy pitch the 3rd and 4th innings of his game.  He struck out the first two batters in the 3rd, but the next batter, his good friend Rex, popped a basehit to left-center. He was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, so Andy was out of the inning.  In the 4th,k Andy struck out the first batter and threw the next two batters out at first.  The second ball hit to him was a bullet I didn't think he had a chance to catch, but, as he told me later, he looked in his glove and there was the ball.  He really played well.  JoAnna and I were very proud of him.

This weather we've been having makes me wonder whatever happened to global warming. Saturday was cool and overcast, with occasional showers. JoAnna and I painted Andy’s bedroom. We moved Eddie into the blue bedroom. On Sunday it was warm enough for the boys to swim at the new outdoor pool. Monday night I bought along a sweatshirt to Eddie’s ballgame and put it on before the end of the first inning. I found JoAnna in her hooded sweatshirt at Andy’s game. Tuesday was downright ugly. Rain all day. The temperature barely reached 60. Today’s a bit of an improvement, as the sun is finally starting to burn through the cloud cover. I may actually have to wear my shades to the game tonight.

Boxer must wonder why his family spend so little time at home during the week. On Monday, for example, we’re out of the house shortly after 8. I make a brief midday appearance for lunch. We’re all in and out of the house prior to the boys’ baseball games and then gone for another 2½ hours. At least he had some company yesterday evening, but tonight will be a repeat of Monday’s schedule. He got a booster shot this weekend but the vet suggested that we wait until he’s 12 weeks old to get him declawed. He loves to play. This morning he was around my face at 3:30. “Too early, Kitty Meowsers,” I saw as I carry him out of the bedroom and close the door to prevent further interruption of my sleep. For the past two nights, he’s been going to bed with Eddie, who almost takes it personally when Boxer, in a playful mood, scoots away as Eddie tries to pick him up.

My mom wrote us a letter last week but included no additional information about my dad. In the Nelson family, no news is not necessarily good news, but I take it that the bed set up off the kitchen and the specially designed chair have helped for the present. Dad has no upper-body or arm strength left. The couple time he fell recently, Mom had to get one of my brothers to help out. I’m thankful that Lar, Barb, and Dale still live in Warren. Otherwise, we’d have a family crisis on our hands.

Sorry to end the letter on such a down note.

We enjoyed your recent visit and look forward to your helping us host our Bastille Day party.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

On This Date in 1998

The past four days could almost be viewed as a mini-vacation. JoAnna and I took Thursday off, and I worked only a half day on Friday. Wednesday was the last day of school for the boys.

The boys and I went to a Brewers game Wednesday evening. This was supposed to be a family outing, but JoAnna had to attend a meeting of the Dane County Airport Commission, of which she is a member, at 5:30. The game was scheduled to begin at 6:35, a half hour earlier than usual since the game was being televised on ESPN. JoAnna couldn’t afford to miss this meeting as her appointment to the Airport Commission had been controversial, the former chair of the county board of supervisors, a Republicans, speaking out against her selection. So Meaghan came with us in JoAnna’s place.

Sitting in the back seat, Andy and Meaghan kept up a steady chatter of conversation on the drive to Milwaukee. They get along so well. At Eddie’s request, we listened to a Beatles tape. Getting to the huge parking lot surrounding County Stadium was not the chore I expected. I picked up our tickets at the “will call” window, and we found our seats after a stop at on e of many souvenir stands. Meaghan bought one of those oversize foam hands, index finger pointing skyward in a “we’re number 1” gesture. Andy bought a miniature wood bat with the Brewers logo on it (why he felt he needed some worthless thing like this I don’t know), and I bought a hat for Eddie. He was the only one without his own spending money. We quickly found our seats in the family section, 20 rows behind home plate. Very good seats, actually. Most of the people in this section were older adults. I didn’t see many parents with younger children. No drinking or smoking is allowed, so choosing seats here is one way people avoid dealing with belligerent, obnoxious drunks (known to be a fixture at baseball games) and polluted air.

The Braves were in town, for the first time in 33 years, when the team deserted Milwaukee for Atlanta. We saw the final of a three-game series, the Brewers getting swept 5-2. The home team staged a rally in the bottom of the ninth, which got the remaining fans revved up. It looked as though at least 30% of the 19,000+ in attendance headed for the exits at the end of the 8th inning. Gotta beat the traffic.

We waited for the crowds to thin before leaving our seats. The worst of the parking lot gridlock was over by the time we reached the car. Andy and Meaghan resumed their chattering – they never seem to be at a loss for things to talk about—but the two of them and Eddie had fallen asleep by the halfway point of our trip home. It was 11:30when we dropped Meaghan off.

JoAnna and I painted Andy’s room on Thursday. What an improvement. The walls were dirty and pocked with nail holes. We had to use a scraper to remove all of the two-sided tape we sued to display the boys’ sports team banners. I had never really liked the color we had chosen the last time we painted this room. A beige with too much of an orange tint. I stopped at Mautz paint store last week and picked out more than a dozen “neutral” color samples. Side by side we were able to determine which one were actually more green or blue or orange than tan. We selected a “Silver Mink”, which looks great. It’s a very neutral color, exactly what we wanted for this room, even though it can’t be classified as tan.

Outside of the baseball game and the painting project, it was a relatively lowkey weekend. Andy spent most of his time playing with Meaghan and Nick. They went swimming at the indoor pool on Friday evening and at the new outdoor pool on Sunday, Eddie accompanying them both times. The outdoor pool was scheduled to open on Thursday, but the weather was too cold. Ditto Friday. After last Monday’s beautiful introduction to June, we experienced an extended cool spell, weather more suitable for the end of April than the start of the kids’ summer vacation. A couple mornings I was tempted to run on the furnace.

Both JoAnna and I have been dealing with summer colds this past week. Nothing major, just a slight runny nose, slight congestion, slight cough. It’s more of an irritation that ailment. Unfortunately, it just won’t go away. JoAnna felt extremely rundown Friday after work, spending most of her evening sacked out on the couch in the family room. That’s when I did some more reseeding in the back yard and swept al the maple “droppings” off the patio.

JoAnna and I went grocery shopping Saturday morning, while Andy was at Nick’s and Eddie was at his baseball practice. Whenever my wife accompanies me on these trips, we end up spending a small fortune on food. Not so bad this time. She wanted to select some items for her lunches and easy meals at home. The boy’s baseball schedules will make a regular suppertime a challenge. But then that goal has always been a challenge. She doesn’t always want us falling back on high-calorie, high-fact options like McDonald’s, which, of course, the boys would choose every time.

We had to change our Saturday evening plans when we learned that the movie we wanted to see, The Truman Show with Jim Carrey, was sold out. We ended up renting a video, Trains, Planes, & Automobiles, a rather silly comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. The humor was very broad, something I wasn’t particularly in the mood for. I divided my attention between the TV screen and computer screen, where a game of Hearts completed with the movie.

On Sunday afternoon, more than a month after its delivery, I reduced the pile of shredded bark to nothing. I trimmed the evergreens in the back yard, creating a cozy little outdoor picnic nook. We have this beautiful yard (notice how I’m now singing a much more upbeat tune) that we don’t take the time to enjoy. After completing the yardwork chores Friday evening, I sat on the patio and just enjoyed the view.

Boxer is at least twice the size as when we first got him. He’s a very affectionate, playful kitten, sometimes too much so. We are trying to get him not to scratch and bite so much. Not that we’re all covered with scars. When Boxer get over-exuberant, we just put him down. The boys are very good with him and know how to deal with his friskiness.

He comes into our bedroom, purring and ready to play, at 5 each morning. Saying “no” or “go away, Boxer” doesn’t get results, so one of us, usually JoAnna, as I seem to have better luck tuning out Boxer, will take the cat out of the room and close the door so we can sleep undisturbed for another hour.

This is all I have time for right now. We send our love.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mark Twain Hotel, Chicago (Postcard Series)

The History of the Mark Twain Hotel.  (USA Today, 2012)

Excerpt:   The 200-room Mark Twain Hotel was built in the 1930s. Designed by architect Harry Glube in 1930, the Art Deco-style building was constructed of a beige brick with white terra-cotta accents. The Mark Twain Hotel is in the heart of Chicago's historic Gold Coast Neighborhood, an affluent part of town that expanded greatly after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Gold Coast neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Flickr photo

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 5, 1992

Once again I have only the dimmest memory of the specific circumstances of going to bed last night.  How far into Nick at Nite's evening line-up did I remain conscious?  I really have no idea.

I almost miss the WAPL board meeting in Oshkosh.  I stop at City Hall and the library to get the checks ready for distribution.  Ilene informs me that Marie has called in sick.  Fortunately, Susan is willing to fill in for the day.

Ten miles into the trip, I curse myself for not bringing along the camcorder.  I wanted to shoot a memory-lane video as I drove around Oshkosh.  It will have to be done at another time.

I'm fifteen minutes late for the meeting, but the group present is still chatting informally once I arrive since they don't have a quorum.  My presence takes care of that problem.  I'm expecting a short meeting, under two hours, meaning that we'll be done around noon, but it takes us until nearly 2 to get through the agenda.  That gives me only the briefest of opportunities to walk through the library and greet familiar faces.  On a Friday afternoon in the summer when the reduced 37-hour work week has one into effect, the possibilities are greatly reduced.   Except for John Stoneberg, who is eager to get back to Eau Claire, the board members eat lunch at Tortilla Flats, my choice -- and my first visit since the restaurant has moved into its new location.  The cheese crisp is still as massive and tasty and filling as ever.

I always experience such a tingle of disbelief whenever I visit Oshkosh, as if I have returned to a special dreamworld.  I did so little here professionally, but so much socially, which is the area I gave more priority anyway -- though maybe I underestimate my achievements here.  I wonder how I would feel about myself today if I were still there, still single perhaps, still content to have biking and drugs as my main sources of pleasure.  I think I'd be an awfully weary, self-loathing man.

Time constraints do not allow any surprise visits,  I think about how much I'd like to see Bob for even a few minutes.  Driving past Dave and Lynn's duplex, I notice a swing set and sandbox in the back yard.   For the people who rent the upstairs apartment?  Or have Dave and Lynn moved elsewhere?  For all I know, they could be in another state.  I haven't been in touch with them for nearly two years.

The Nissan is one of a multitude of vehicles speeding along highway 151.  I return to Madison in time to cash my check at the credit union, but not to contact JoAnna about picking up the boys.

We spent the evening at Festa Italia with Larry and Martha and Michael (and Martha's sister Liz).  It's so much fun watching Andy interact with other children his age.  He makes friends so quickly.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 1992

For the first time since my return from vacation, I'm able to spend a full day at the library.  I walk away with not too much more than a tidier desk to show for it, although a big chunk of time is spent preparing the board report composing the minutes from Tuesday's PLAC meeting.  I pick up the boys and we stop at McDonald's as promised.  My supper is mostly a liquid one.  I nosh on a few McNuggets.  We play in the back yard before bath time.  Eddie goes to bed immediately after his bath, but Andy stays up with me to watch Nick at Nite.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 1992

I'm away from the library all day.  During the morning, I drop in at Radio Hall to participate in an ETN on the Americans with Disabilities Act and its implications on programs and services for public libraries.  Afterwards, I visit the library school library and find just the book I need "Reference Services for Children and Young Adults".  Linda Mundt checks it out on her card for me.  Now I can start to make some progress on the September workshop I agreed to do for the Lakeshores Library System.  Right now I have very little in the way of prepared materials.  I spend about an hour at University Bookstore noting titles to add to the classic paperback collection.

The OPAC subcommittee takes the entire afternoon to review three of seven proposals.  It's not as tortuous a process as I thought it might be.  I pick up the boys at daycare.  As soon as I get home, I notice that Ganser has left stacks of materials on the roof.  The project must be set to begin tomorrow.

Strange evening.  Although the weather is ideal, we don't venture outside.  Andy's content to veg out watching cartoons for awhile.  I can't get him to eat much of a supper, though that's not a problem with Eddie.  With outdoor play an extended activity at daycare now, baths have become a nightly ritual.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Julie Olson Westfall (1950-2013) Warren Area High School Class of 1968

Source:  Warren Times Observer, May 27, 2013

June 2, 1992

Photo credit:  Museum at the Portage
Home of the Portage Public Library from 1946 to 1994.

Portage hosts the PLAC meeting this month.  I arrive in town with some time to spare.  I walk up and down the main street looking for places to buy postcards.  It's obvious that the same cards depicting Portage have been sold out for at least two decades.  It's also obvious from my casual study of the various storefronts that Portage has not yet been malled.  If I recall, there are a number of businesses located on the north side of town on business 51, but it hasn't been enough to such out all of the vitality of downtown.

The meeting is routine.  Surprisingly, this is my first visit to the Portage library.  The city certainly needs a much larger facility.

I drive back to Middleton via a winding 78 and a heavily traveled 12.  The rest of my day is rather nondescript.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On This Date in 1998

June is off to a gorgeous start. A cloudless sky, a bright sun, and a very comfortable temperature. As a result, the little boy in me yearns to heave only three more days of school left and nothing to do this summer but play. But I can’t, and neither do I want, to turn the clock back that far. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy that time of my life. Quite the contrary. I can remember being around Andy’s age and playing one game of waffle ball after another or spending most of the day – morning, afternoon, and evening – at Beaty Field, where we had a choice of activities: tether ball, box hockey, softball, kickball using the pavilion as the diamond, checkers and chess (for the more sedentary), or just hanging out on the tree-lined path along the Conewango Creek. Few kids experience that type of unstructured vacation nowadays.

Larry and Alice spent the weekend with us so we could help them celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. Early Friday evening, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by sitting on the patio and talking. Around 6:30, our conversation was interrupted by the high-decibel screeching of a gang of crows. The noise brought many of our neighbors outside. Instead of going out to eat, I picked up some fish fry at Crandall’s. Later in the evening, we visited Scott’s rooftop garden on the near east side of Madison, site of the 70s theme party JoAnna and I attended a couple weekends ago, and watched the sesquicentennial fireworks over Lake Mendota. Seven stories from ground level afforded us a great unobstructed view.

I worked on Saturday for the first time in three months. I’m no longer in the regular rotation, but I do fill in for vacation and emergencies and had agreed to do so on the 30th more than a month ago. With one staff member out of town to attend her brother-in-law’s funeral, I couldn’t make a last-minute substitution. 

Grandma and Grandpa Richard didn’t get to see much of Andy. He spent all day, except for a two-hour afternoon baseball practice at his friend Rex’s house, where he had a sleepover that night. (JoAnna and I overruled our previous dictum: no sleepovers until the end of school.) Eddie had a baseball practice Saturday morning, and during the afternoon, JoAnna and her dad attended a Civil War re-enactment at Camp Randall, just south of the UW campus. Eddie refused to go, so Grandma stayed home with him. He was in somewhat of an ornery mood, mostly due to a runny nose. We wonder if he might have allergies.

We went out to Smoky’s, Madison’s premier steakhouse, Saturday evening. Sometimes the wait for a table here—the restaurant doesn’t take reservations -- is excruciatingly long, but we were seated within 10 minutes of our arrival. In the mood for a major feast, I ordered the 20-oz. T-bone. Larry was the only one who finished his steak. He ordered a small tenderloin. Our leftovers provided us with one part of the following day’s breakfast: steak, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes. Not exactly a healthy weekend of eating.

Larry and Alice left around noon on Sunday. JoAnna and I then tackled a farily major project, moving Eddie’s captain bed into the blue bedroom, since the boys recently agreed that they should have their own bedrooms. On Thursday, the beginning of the boys’ summer vacation (no daycare until the following Monday), JoAnna and I will paint Andy’s room, a long overdue project. The walls are filthy, and I was never very happy with the color we chose. Desert beige turned out to have a surprising orange tint. Last week I picked up about 20 color samples from Mautz. Individually, they don’t’ look all that different, but side by side, it quickly became clear what color has a green or orange or yellow tint to it.

Andy decided he wanted to go swimming early yesterday afternoon, just as JoAnna and I were finishing up the rearrangement of the bedrooms.

“But the new pool’s not opened yet,” I said.

“Not the outdoor pool,” Andy countered.

“Well, you better call first to see if they have open swim now,” I told him.

He didn’t know where to look in the phone book, so I helped him find the number. Open, swim, we learned, was from 1 until 3.

Andy called his friend Tyler, and he accompanied us. Eddie, too. The indoor pool is attached to the high school and was constructed at least 5 years ago. Yesterday was my first visit. Only 8 other people were there so we had a lot of room to splash around. It provided a relaxing break.

I thought I was going to get some yard work done later in the day. More lawn doctoring. The area in the front yard where I reseeded a few weeks ago is starting to fill in – almost a solid green now. I ended up folding laundry and watching the Game Show network for 90 minutes. Couldn’t’ tear myself away from the rebroadcast of three classics from the 1950s: I’ve Got a Secret, What’s My Line?, and To Tell the Truth. What a trip down memory lane, although it wasn’t too often that I saw the first two shows since there were aired on Sunday evening at 10:00 and 10:30. Later in the evening we watched a rebroadcast from the first season of Password, with two now-obscure celebrities, the actress Dina Merrill and the playwright Abe Burrows. I suppose even Allan Ludden doesn’t have much of a recognition factor today. Even Andy’s become a fan of the Game Show network. With this and Nick at Nite and TV land (not available here), one could live completely in the TV past.

Yesterday we discovered that all four of us have sore throats. Nothing major, although JoAnna did feel a little rundown during the afternoon, probably from a lack of sleep (a comfortable sleep) the past two night. We slept on the sofa bed in the family room so her parents could have our bed. The thin, lump mattress provides no support and is not something we like to subject our older guests to. After a storm blew through (literally, seeming to shake the house with the intensity of its force) early Sunday morning between 2 and 3, I walked to the other sides of the house to sleep in Andy’s bed. If I hadn’t gone swimming, I’d’ve probably taken a nap, too. In fact, I had been looking forward to sacking out in the hammock.

Andy and I watched most of game 7 between the Bulls and the Pacers. Andy, of course, was rooting for Chicago, but I was hoping for an upset. I wanted to see an early end to all the Jordan hoopla, but now I’ll have to endure at least another couple weeks of it. During the first quarter and a half of the game, Andy and I rode our bikes to a nearby ballfield. Andy practiced his pitching, and then I threw him some batting practice. The next day, I always feel some pain in my legs, especially my right knee, after these activities. The crouching to catch his pitches, the running after the balls he hits – my body is telling me it’s not as resilient as it used to be. Hey, 50 is not that far off!

That’s the news for now. We send our love.

June 1, 1992

#4 on the Billboard Hot 100

I get an early start to the day after a week's vacation.  The only surprise is that one of the sliding glass doors for the lobby display case is broken.  Otherwise, I zip through my mail and organize the May invoices.  Then I seem to be at a loss as to what to do next.  I have a long list of project screaming for my attention.  I take a break around 9:30 and eat a second, heartier breakfast at the Old Town Inn.  I try the chicken cordon bleu omelet, an uninspired but certainly edible concoction.  The American fries are very tasty.

The Dane County Reimbursement Study Committee meets at the Madison Public Library during the early afternoon.  I feel out of it here but still manage to make a few lucid contributions to the discussion.

For a change of pace, and in an effort to get my weight back down below 200, Andy and I walk home from Little Red.  He complains a few times about being tired walking.  So am I -- loaded down with my over-the-shoulder bag, a plastic string-tie bag containing our mail from the past week, and a brown grocery bag stuffed with a variety of Andy's leftovers from Little Red.

JoAnna's evening meeting is scheduled to we have a rare weekday evening to spend together.