Sunday, July 7, 2013

On This Date in 1998

This past weekend started out on an early, quiet note. I stayed home on Friday since the boys didn’t have a Camp of the Trails program due to the holiday. I was hoping for a beautiful day so that we could hang out at the pool during the afternoon after a morning of yard work (for me, of course) and television for the boys – what else?!!) Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. Around quarter to nine, as a matter of fact, if was pouring down rain, the proverbial cats and dogs, and the sky remained overcast for the rest of the day, with a lighter rain falling intermittently. What to do to pass the time? Well, the boys still had the option of television, obviously. For me, I found other choices. There always seems to be a load or two or laundry to do, so I tacked that and a few other light household chores. By late morning, I was feeling bored and housebound, but it was too wet to do anything outside. Even with a pause in the rain, the conditions were too click and muddy for a trip to a baseball diamond so that Andy could practice his pitching and both boys could take batting practice. I wasn’t in the mood to read – in fact, shamefully, I’m not even halfway through the book I started over a month ago. Giving in to a feeling of laziness, I lay on my bed, grabbed the remote, and zapped on the TV. I probably tuned it to the Game Show Network. I can’t remember now. I ended up dozing off for nearly an hour.

During the afternoon, after a week of insistent pleading on Andy’s part, I took the boys to Kohl’s to buy them new shoes. It was a necessary and not a frivolous purchase. It doesn’t take those two very long to beat up a pair of shoes. I ended up spending almost $110. I had vetoed a trip to the mall, The Athlete’s Foot, specifically, where I could have easily spent $150, so I should be thankful for a department store like Kohl’s that has a good selection of merchandise at affordable prices. By the way, Andy’s wearing a size 8 (!) now. I don’t doubt that he’ll be my size in less than 4 years – height, weight, and shoe size. Actually, since he’s almost 11, make that prediction in less than 3 years.

JoAnna returned home from work late Friday afternoon with takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant, one entrée with scallops and vegetables and another called steak orange, breaded pieces of beef in a tangy sauce with orange peel. Naturally, you don’t eat the orange peel, but it does give the dish a very distinctive flavor. The boys, who don’t even care for egg rolls, popped a frozen pizza into the oven. We talked about goint out to a movie, but nobody could agree on what to see so we stayed home. Shortly before dusk, when the sky finally started to clear, I put on a pair of old sneakers and raked up three huge piles of creeping Charlie in the western third of the back yard, the next area for reseeding attention. I’ll have to ask Larry for the best solution in eliminating this pesky and extremely invasive weed. So far I’ve been mostly successful in keeping it from the new grass that I planted during the past couple months, which, to my satisfaction, continues to thrive.

We walked in another parade on Saturday the 4th, this one in Evansville, a community of about 4,000 located about 20 miles south of here. Starting time: 10 a.m. Once again, the adults passed our football schedules promoting Jon Erpenbach’s Senate candidacy and the boys, just Andy and Eddie this week, on their rollerblades, passed out candy. JoAnna had left the house early to pick up Julie, since her husband Ron needed their vehicle. Julie, by the way, is Jon’s campaign manager. (She actually works for JoAnna, and this is her big assignment for the year.) Fortunately, we were near the beginning of the Evansville parade, entry $48. The entire parade included more than 200 entries. From the look of the entries that I saw – or didn’t see – one band, no floats – it looked like a yawner. The parade was routed through an older area of town where many beautiful, well-maintained homes are located.

The boys accompanied Mom to a second parade in Brodhead, a community of a similar size another ten miles south and less than six miles from the Illinois border. This parade started at noon. My family rejoined me at 2:00, which gave us plenty of time for an outing at the pool, the weather having improved greatly from the previous day. It was overcast, and even a little cool, during the Evansville parade. Better for us. Not so good for the spectators lining the route, many of them wearing jackets and even a few wrapped in blankets, although I thought that was overdoing it. The afternoon provided lots of warm sunshine and the chance for me to get enough sun on my chest and stomach to feel a little tingle later in the day.

Either Mom and Dad were too lazy or the boys were really pulling our strings, but our Saturday evening meal was a take-out order from Subway. Hey, it’s summer and a holiday weekend to boot. We had a big party ahead of us so cooking out didn’t have a whole lot of appeal. Again, we had a quiet evening at home.

We spent Sunday from 3 until 10 at Lance and Sue’s, friends of ours who host a party each year to coincide with the Rhythm and Booms fireworks display, which the city of Madison promotes as the biggest and best in the Midwest. (They might be right.) About 30 people were there, mostly adults. With two exceptions, l this was a group of younger couples and singles whose childrearing years are, at a minimum, two years in the future. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Ron and Julie have a baby within the next three years.) We sat around and talked, played cards, and set up two bocce ball tournaments – singles and doubles. I missed the first one since the boys wanted to check out the rides and amusements at Warner Park. JoAnna always passes on this diversion. It’s definitely rink-dink stuff. Even the boys lost interest after an hour of wandering around and emptying dad’s wallet of $20. The “midway” games are so expensive, except for the ones that involve tossing ping-pong balls into glass bowls or jars. (11 balls for $2.) Those are the ones I encouraged Eddie to play. Andy, of course, wanted to shoot a basketball (2 throws for $2) and guess the speed of a baseball he pitches (3 for $2, the guess coming after the first two balls are thrown.) Eddie won a goldfish. At least I think it was a goldfish. It was handed to him in a plastic bag filled with water tinted with green food coloring. (Green + gold = Packers, I suppose. I just figured that out right now. Duh!) I almost made him give it back, wondering to myself, “What are we going to do with this?”

“Hey, we have a friend for Boxer!” I told the boys, as we left the park, imagining the cat’s reaction as soon as he saw this little morsel.

Back at the picnic, we put Eddie’s prize in a safe place.

In the doubles bocce tournament, Andy burned up the course. He and his partner beat Dad and his partner in the first round, Mom and her partner Lance – the host, who set up the course and had finished second in the singles event – in the second round, but lost the final 10-8. Lance has a huge back yard, not particularly wide but very deep. Using space belonging to two of his neighbors, he set up an “18-hole” bocce course, complete with a water hazard (a kid’s wading pool), uneven terrain, and trees blocking a few of the “pin”. Somebody should market this idea.

As the dusk settled over us, we gathered in the front yard for the fireworks. As was expected, it was a spectacular display lasting for 30 minutes and accompanied by music broadcast over one of Madison’s radio stations. All the neighbors had their radio blaring, too. All in all, a very enjoyable day, but the killer, as always, is getting home. In Lane and Sue’s immediate neighborhood, we were stuck in traffic for at least an hour, despite our efforts to park the van in a place that would provide us with the best chance for a quick getaway. Yeah, right. What were we thinking. 250,000 show up for this event. It took us two hours to get home. Under ordinary driving conditions, the trip takes 15 minutes, at the most. The beginning of the designated route for Middleton traffic (and to other points north and west) was clogged by drivers coming from the other direction using both lanes. I was tempted to make a few comments as we literally inched our way along, but two words made me keep my mouth shut: road rage.

I thought we had left the fish behind in Lance and Sue’s back yard, but JoAnna found it in the van Monday afternoon when she was taking out some stuff we had missed Sunday night. Amazingly, it was still alive. We put it in a glass container, then placed it on a cupboard out of the view of Boxer before leaving for the boys’ baseball games. When we returned home, Eddie found the fish on the kitchen floor, unmolested. Baggy – we had already named it – had jumped out of his container and make what must have been a spectacular dive onto the linoleum. It must have already been dead when Boxer happened up on it or else Boxer just wasn’t interested in such an itty-bitty thing. Eddie took the loss very matter-of-factly. I guess we’re not fish people. 

Eddie’s baseball coach is such a jerk. I had no idea why he accepted this responsibility in the first place. He arranged a list of volunteer assistant coaches to help out. There was no way I could help out and now I’m happy my schedule is so busy. The assistant coaches have been left in charge. The head coach arrives at games late and leaves early. Yesterday he left during the middle of the sixth inning (and these are only six-inning games) and asked someone to drop off the equipment at his house. Julie Novinski, one of the moms and the wife of Andy’s baseball coach, has kept track of the line-up and keeps the kids organized in their batting order on the bench when they’re not in the field. I know she’s biting her tongue, and I admire her for stepping in and keeping things running smoothly. From what Julie said, I guess a number of parents have already called the organizers of the baseball league and said don’t let this guy coach again. And he’s got a kid on the team who’s a real whiner. Fortunately, the coach’s attitude hasn’t affected the players’ enjoyment of the game. Eddie is always excited on a game day and he and his teammates always play with enthusiasm.

Andy’s team is 7-1, and he’s been pitching on a regular basis and doing quite well. His hitting is improving, too. His games are a lot more interesting to watch, as the boys have developed some skills and a more advanced understanding of the game. In Eddie’s league, some of the kids still have trouble e throwing the ball.

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