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.

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