Time Doesn’t Matter, Home Is Not 4th Base and Other Lessons of Baseball

Baseball is poetry. Bart Giamatti said that, and after a weekend at diamonds while our Matthew and his team played in a tournament, I realize more than ever, he’s right. Things I’ve learned as a baseball fanatic (and if someone can explain the infield fly opt-out rule, I’m game to listen).

1. You gotta know how to get out of a bind

‘Doesn’t matter who got you into your bases-loaded-no-outs-sun-in-your-eyes-hot-hitter-at-the-plate situation. Sometimes, you’re called to the mound. You answer the call with passion yet calmness and pitch. You throw fast, accurate, field if needed and get your team outta that bind.

Matt on the mound.
Matt on the mound.

Other times, it’s your turn at the plate. You may be needed to advance a runner or clear three ducks off the pond. Step up, lean in–and for heaven’s sake don’t strike out looking.

Lean in and swing!
Lean in and swing!

2. Time doesn’t really matter

As the only major sport that isn’t timed, baseball allows thought, contemplation and long innings that can be painful or ecstatic (depends if you’re in the field or rounding bases to score runs). If you’re really lucky, time will slow to a delicious near-halt while you’ll get to play under the lights on a hot summer night. Magic. Memories of our team’s win that night have a glow in my mind.

under lights

3. You have fans. Make ’em proud.

Our team had siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors and of course proud parents there for all 6 (!) tourney games. Even if you don’t think someone is rooting for you. Even if you can’t see them, your fans are there. Do ’em proud and do your darndest.

Matt's little sis and his teammate's little sis. It helps the mojo if your fans color coordinate, too.
Matt’s little sis and his teammate’s little sis. It helps the mojo if your fans color coordinate, too.

4. Tame complicated things with simple solutions.

The #1 reason I adore baseball is that it is one complicated game. Your next move can shift with each pitch. You need to pay careful attention to details like pitch count, where the batter hit last time up, your third base coach’s signals and of course your spot in the batting order. And just when I thought I understood the infield fly rule, a call in another game this weekend revealed it’s more complicated when you don’t take advantage of it. A game was won on that rule. Yet the solutions are usually simple. Throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball. Just know where, when, how fast–and be ready to change your plan every few seconds.

boys

5. Food is overrated. But tourney Tshirts are priceless.

Although if you really wanted peanuts for breakfast, I hope you came early.
Although if you really wanted peanuts for breakfast, I hope you came early.
Lunch, and necessary accessories.
Lunch, and necessary accessories.
Countdown is on.
Countdown is on.

6. Home is not fourth base. Home is home.

Home is where all our adventures begin–and end. Home is about rejoining, restoration, warmth, comfort, familiarity.  Baseball is entirely about going home. It’s the only game you ever heard of where you want to get back to where you started. All the other games are territorial – you want to get his or her territory – but not baseball. Baseball simply wants to get you from here, back around to here.

There truly is no place like home. Especially a not-perfectly manicured one that shows signs of tough times, quick slides and foot-stomping celebrations.
There truly is no place like home. Especially a not-perfectly manicured one that shows signs of tough times, quick slides and foot-stomping celebrations.

It was lovely to come back home Sunday evening, with a tired, sunburned, dirty, sorta-nourished family and a third-place medal. Most of all, I’ll forever remember another stanza of this great poetry called baseball. Or should it be titled life?

Advertisements

Gettin’ in Gear: Night at Elko Speedway

Midwest summers are short. Yet if you gear up and get out, you build up memories to last the cooler months ’round here. One of our favorite spots for a hot summer night is Elko Speedway, a NASCAR home track. Saturday night, Greg and I took Matt and Cara.  Ear plugs in, we took in the action!

Great place to catch a MN June sunset!
Great place to catch a MN June sunset!

Green flag

From the green start flag on each heat and then the finals, these drivers did not disappoint. Several surprise winners, some “ooooh ahhhh” crashes (but nothing serious) and lots of passing/bumping action kept us cheering and laughing, trying to pick the winner in each race.

The evening’s lineup included Big 8, Legends, Power Stocks, Super Late Models and of course Thunder Cars.

You learn things at the track, such as:

– When you see a change ahead, slow up a bit, turn strong–then accelerate back up!

– If you crash, get off the track, get your tool kit and get ready for next week’s race

– Don’t look back: look ahead

– Keep your eye on the path; don’t worry so much about others passing you

– Pass on the inside

– Take your victory lap

– Smile

Even though this gorgeous track is mere miles from our suburban home and definite city lifestyle, the crowd at the Speedway is, ahem, a tad different.

The girls and I keep thinking we need black tube tops and tattoos to fit in a bit better here...
The girls and I keep thinking we need black tube tops and tattoos to fit in a bit better here…

The featured act was Galaxy Girl and Johnny Rocket and their “air” show. It was pretty cool.

Airborne bike and acrobat: Cool Galaxy Girl show before the heats and at intermission.
Airborne bike and acrobat: Cool Galaxy Girl show before the heats and at intermission.

After the races, this crazy girl climbed up 127 feet to the tip top of a space needle and did aerial acrobatics.

photo

No net. No ropes. No safety wires. All crazy. But pretty cool and definitely memorable — just like the rest of our great night at Elko Speedway.

Too soon, the engines quieted and the evening wrapped up with the checkered flag.

We’ll be back! Now, where is a good tattoo parlor…

My Summer Bumper Sticker

new day

We sang this at Church this morning, and amongst other beautiful “aha” moments from Bill’s sermon and majestic music, the last line is now my mantra for summer vacation. I was so hungry for something to guide me this summer, and I feel more relaxed already, now that I have this.

The kids are done with school for the year, which begins a whole new level of activity around our house (read = neighborhood, community, state!). If I had a bumper sticker for my beloved Sequoia, in which I will spend lots of time chauffeuring kiddos to summer action, this would be it.

A.M. is not the problem

I am a morning person, often rising before dawn with anticipation, joy, eagerness for the day–and more plans for it than could ever fit in 24 hours. My morning prayers are centered on optimism and excitement for the day ahead. Yet as the hours unfold with myriad activities, I get drained. Annoyed. Short-tempered. Anxious.

But why would I not get to the end of the day and celebrate the accomplishments, moments of joy, sweet surprises and beauty of a full day, well-spent? Perhaps it’s time to start.

So this summer, I shall try to be singing when the evening comes. Does it still count if it takes a glass of wine to get there?

il_fullxfull.430215498_67o5

Mayday, Milestone May Days!

My very scientific poll reveals that May is the craziest month of every year. For everyone. So instead of howling, Mayday!, I’ve opted to breathe in on May 1, skip sleep and deep cleaning and enjoy every moment of these Lovely May Days. Exhaling in early June now, I’m already a tad sad the month is over. But looking back makes me smile (and prepare for a quiet evening with a good book).

It starts very early on May 1. We make homemade goodies to fill May Baskets and “sneak” them to the neighbors in the morning. It sure starts our day bright.

948851_10151482655879006_713633395_o

Spring color

945284_10151486841569006_590517452_n

Julia and I accomplished one of our goals for the year: Run a color run. We did Run or Dye on Harriet Island in St Paul. It was a very chilly morning, but the music, our dancing, her laughter and our bit of nerves kept us warm. She is a runner. Her mom, not so much. But she slowed her pace to just under an 8 minute mile, and I could keep up. The course was beautiful, right along the river with views of my beloved downtown St Paul. And at the finish line, she held my hand as we sprinted across and hugged me big. I trust she’ll run every “race” in life with similar poise, preparation, zest — and true accomplishment. Love our young lady.

939424_10151487082734006_275161457_o

Calendar check

Our very snowy winter continued through May, so the dogs and I enjoyed bonus time on lovely winter wonderland woods hikes. It got to the point where I couldn’t tell anyone how much I was loving the extra snow walks. Even my heartiest MN friends had HAD IT WITH SNOW. Not me. Not quite yet.

938962_10151485599809006_1412914473_o

Dance in the rain

When the snow did subside, we had rain. Perfect for evenings on our front porch, surrounded by kids dancing in puddles, the marvelous scent of wet dogs and laughter echoing under the inevitable rainbows.

485409_10151493659769006_574302722_n

Mighty Mile

Greatest show of school spirit happens in May at our kids’ middle school, Century. It’s always held on a Friday when the younger kids do not have school so they can cheer on siblings, neighbors–and see the cool things in store when they reach middle school. In six waves (starting with 6th grade girls, then 6th grade boys, and so on), the kids all run a beautiful one-mile course around/on their school grounds.

Mighty Mile 2013
Mighty Mile 2013

The sidewalks are decorated with inspirational (and sassy good) messages in chalk, parents come, some teachers and staff members run–and the kids cheer each other on. It gets me happy-teary-eyed every time. Groups of kids plan their running attire, style and pace. Some amazing times have been set — top times are emblazoned forever on a plaque in the school. It’s fun to compare the 6th grade girls to the 8th grade boys, and realize the incredible transformation that takes place while kids are at this school. Hopefully, they also learn the paramount importance of spirit!

Birthday boys

Matty and Greg celebrate their birthdays in May. We now have a teenage boy at our house!

963310_10151510409464006_612046383_o

Matty celebrated his birthday with a couple buddies in sweet seats at a Twins game. All are hockey players, so I think the highlight was the Wild players in the homerun derby as pre-game. Since we were so close, Josh Harding signed the boys’ baseballs and tossed ’em back to very happy Matt and his friends.

316157_10151508763289006_2136802840_n

The boys also ruled the big screen, appearing on it several times throughout the game.

photo-2

Confirmation!

Julia celebrated her confirmation with a beautiful service and lovely afternoon with grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and many others.

Julia with her sis and their cousin Allison.
Julia with her sis and their cousin Allison.
Oh how I pray these young ladies shall always knows God's love for them and lean on Him.
Oh how I pray these young ladies shall always knows God’s love for them and lean on Him.
With baby bro Matt.
With baby bro Matt.
One of our best blessings.
One of our best blessings.

Girls rock!

Cara attended a Girl Scouts concert and “flew up” to her next level in Girl Scouts.

IMG_3226

photo-7

Cool curriculum

Each year in school, there is one “big” project. Third grade, it’s the wax museum, where each student “becomes” a historical person for an afternoon. They must do the research, write the speech, assemble the costume–and deliver the speech to museum visitors. Our Clara Barton rocked it!

photo-9

Seems like yesterday that Julia was Betsy Ross for her wax museum. Did I mention May is crazy?
Seems like yesterday that Julia was Betsy Ross for her wax museum. Did I mention May is crazy?
Of course Clara's personal chef made her a theme breakfast (Clara is most well known for starting the Red Cross).
Of course Clara’s personal chef made her a theme breakfast (Clara is most well known for starting the Red Cross).

We thrived through another crazy May. And I loved every minute of it. Now, bring on summer!