Monday, April 20, 2015

Mama loved baseball ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Baseball season got underway earlier this month, and the Atlanta Braves are on fire. I have high hopes for the good guys.

My mom loved the Braves and spent every waking hour watching them on TV. She hated West Coast games because they started after her self-imposed 8:30 bedtime, but otherwise if they were on TV, she was watching.
Anyone who chose to visit her during game time might as well pull up a seat, munch some popcorn and watch the TV that was louder than rap music blaring from a teenager’s jumbo car stereo speakers.
I never called or visited while the Braves were on unless I had my game face on. Whenever I called after game time to check on her, I’d ask how the Braves did. “Aw, I don’t want to talk about it,” meant they’d lost, so I quickly changed the subject.
But her love of baseball went back much further, to when I was a kid playing little league. She never missed one of my games. Her cheers were the loudest when we won and when we lost, her face was the longest.
Once when we played in Hull in a Saturday afternoon game, an opposing pitcher hit me with a late-hooking curveball. While grimacing from the shooting pain, I noticed her out of the corner of my eye. She was about to stripe the legs of every opposing player with a keen hickory. She took baseball and the health of her son seriously.
I struggled with math in school but when I reflect back, I realize I understood a great deal more about geometry, trigonometry, angle, trajectory, telemetry and velocity than my school test scores indicated.
On the occasions when the coach put me in the infield at shortstop, I demonstrated an amazing grasp of those concepts in real time. In less than a millisecond after the crack of a white ash bat, my eye and brain calculated all the factors to make and instantaneous decision on where to place my glove to catch a ball traveling at what seemed like the speed light.
I especially loved early spring when the trees were greening, and the sun felt warm on the back of my freshly starched uniform.
The things etched into my mind are the chalk lines and red-clay infields that were as dry as snuff. The fat white bases at the corners looked like unbaked biscuits. I can still remember the smell of my new cowhide glove with lanolin oil rubbed into the palm to keep it soft as a cotton diaper.
By the end of the season, my arms and neck would be tan as teakwood.
Someone once said that baseball is 20 minutes of action packed into three hours. I thought that was funny, but there’s a lot of truth to it.
When I played I remember spending a lot of time standing around scratching and spitting. It’s a good thing cell phones with video cameras hadn’t been invented then because there would probably be some unfortunate footage of me floating around on YouTube.
The Braves are on TV tonight, so in honor of my mom, I plan to pop some popcorn, eat a hotdog and watch some baseball.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A day for splashing

We've had almost seven inches of rain this past week and the lower part of our garden is now a shallow pond.

Today when the clouds moved off to the east leaving an expanse of blue skies and warm sunshine, the little pond warmed up nicely.

My great nephew Jordan saw the pond earlier when he came over to walk with us, but it was still overcast and too cool to wade. As the day warmed, he came over to check out the "swimming pool."

He started off running through it with his galoshes, but it quickly turned into a splashing event as he tried to soak Jilda, his mom and me.

I snapped a few other pictures of him before he reluctantly headed home for a bath.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Some Days

Some days are diamonds, some days are stones. Today was more like a diamond. We had a yard full of family and friends.

My nephew Haven and Niece Jayna showed up a few hours before the crowd began to arrive to prepare the cookers, and fry the fries and hushpuppies.

Then at 4 pm everyone else began to arrive bringing in cakes, brownies, and other goodies. At one point we needed traffic control in our small community.

We had over 30 people  in our house and backyard. At one point I had to walk I had to walk next door and when I headed back, I could hear music, the sound of laughter. I took a lot of pictures, but I still didn't get everyone.

Today was a gift.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Good luck

Have you ever dreamed you were awake but when you woke up, you were asleep? Neither have I but it's an interesting question.

Sometimes the combination of lenses and films on the Hipstamatic app on my phone takes some pictures that are hard to duplicate in any other way. How does it do that? Again, an interesting question and I'm sure there are tech geeks somewhere that would snicker and say, "Simple Dude, you just invert  the algorithm, negate the alpha streams and then saturate the flux capacitor with vector-based noise."

So where am I going with this post? You guessed it. That's an interesting question and if any of you have the slightest clue please private message me with the gamma channel via the onboard carbon induction tube.

This update will automatically self-destruct when you finish reading it.

Good luck and godspeed.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Folk Art

I love yard art. You see some incredible things in people's yards. Last year when we traveled to South Alabama, we dropped off Interstate 59/20 below Tuscaloosa and traveled southward toward Eutaw and Demopolis. The Black Warrior River is deep and wide there. It's mostly farms and fields with little in between. Every now and then we passed old plantations style homes with white columns as big around as redwoods.

On one stretch of highway, we saw fields of yard art constructed of wood and scraps of metal. Some of it was art puns, but some it was stunning.

For years, people traveled through the south bearing witness to roadside folk art. Some thought it was only interesting junk, but fortunately others realized its significance.  Thornton Dial and Mose Tolliver, as well as other artists, had pieces shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

I'm not suggesting that our bottle tree is of that caliber, but I do know that in spring and summer when the sun sits low in the west, the bottle tree in our back yard that Jilda made is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tax Day

I'd dreaded today for weeks. Tax prep took longer than normal and I was a few weeks later getting the information to my accountant. Last year we had to pay a chunk to Uncle Sam. 

We had a number of unexpected expenses so far this year and I feared the taxman would heap it on. (If you want to read a fun take on the taxman, visit my blog buddy Fran's blog here.)

Our accountant called a number of times to clarify information and to make sure he had the numbers right. He sounded pensive.  I should have realized it was April 14, and very few accountants are light-hearted on April 14, but I took his tone as a sign that I'd have to knock off a liquor store today in order to pay my IRS tab.

His secretary called early this morning, and my stomach clenched as if it were preparing for a gut punch.  "You can pick up your returns around 10," she said cheerfully. Guardedly, I asked, "What's the damage?"  I breathed a sigh of relief when she told me we'd be getting a refund this year.

It felt as if a weight had been lifted. A while later Jilda and I took a long walk. The first lap when we walked up the road, I saw the street view of our front yard. A gasp escaped through Jildas lips when we walked by the azaleas. They barely bloomed last year, but this year, they are showing out. I quickly snapped a picture.

The rest of the day was remarkable. I hope the tax man was kind to you this year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wagon Wheel

My phone is full. I don't have that many songs, or books so they're not what's taking up space. When I looked for the culprit I discovered that I have almost eight gigabytes of photographs.

It took a few minutes for that to sink in. Eight billion bytes of photographic data stored on my little phone.

When I began flipping through the photographs, I came across this picture I shot in November of 2013 at the Johnson City Folk Festival. 

It's a wagon wheel. It started out as a photo gag. Any of you that has ever heard the iconic song Wagon Wheel that was written by Bob Dylan and later updated and recorded by Old Crow Medicine Show would know what I'm talking about.  

In the song Wagon Wheel, it mentions Johnson City, Tennessee which is where I shot this picture of a wagon wheel. I imagined all my songwriting buddies would say, "Ah,  you're so clever." Well, that didn't happen. In fact, no one made the connection.

So I have this visual joke that never got off the ground that's been hanging around on my phone for almost two years.

I've made a mental note to make sure I have the pictures backed up and then go on a deleting spree to clean up some space on the phone.

I know you must be thinking, Ol' Rick is down to seeds and stems tonight to write about space on his phone......and you'd be right.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have a better idea.

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