Friday, December 12, 2014

It's That Time Again!

I feel that I need to respond to someone who said that I was the “heart and soul” of our class. More than one person has said this to me, and who knows how many others have had similar thoughts?

And BTW, I did take this picture!
Well, I want to nip this thought right in the bud!

I cannot stand on my feet for very long, but I can use a computer and I do it. I have a smart phone and use that also. Not only with the Class of 1971, but with all other relationships in my entire life; it is important to me to keep up with people.

There are other people who support me emotionally and physically during the entire process of planning a Reunion and the afterthought. There is SO MUCH WE CAN DO THESE DAYS, but alas, Denise only has 24 hours in a day, just as the rest of you do.

Cassie Handshoe is the ying to my yang. We have entirely different backgrounds and family situations, but we share the same core values and I believe that we “represent” the scope of people that we have in our class. What would be perfect is if we had that “military brat,” whose parents’ retired in Fairborn, and he or she has stayed in the area. That person could bring in the military thinking, which is different from those who grew up here. Paula Markus, I am not hinting or anything……

Next month we will have a meeting in my basement on Tuesday, January 20th at 7:00. No dinner, dessert maybe. At this point we need a meeting of minds as to what people want to do for the next Reunion. There are several things to consider as we begin thinking about this.

  • People who come into town want to come into town for SOMETHING. They want to make it worth their time and $$ and who can blame them?
  • Those of us putting on the Reunion are OLD and TIRED! I am simply too old for decorating anymore and the Sunday picnics are history. They are too much work for me. (Actually that is incorrect: they are not too much work for me, they are too much work for me after two nights of partying before.)
  • Other classes—and this is NOT a contest—have three to four day events. We simply MUST have Event Chairmen for each event. None of us can do it all, or even come close. Please see former blog here.

Maybe you are asking “What can I do from afar?” Well, let me throw out some suggestions, and we have not had any committee meeting; this is Denise only speaking. Do you have or can you buy table decorations? Memorabilia? Do we feel door prizes are important? Can you donate those (or the $$ to purchase them)? This is the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Ideas, ideas and ideas. We need them so we can see if there is a way to implement them!

By the way, attendance at this meeting does not commit you to anything. However, an idea must be able to be seen through. We need idea people, but we need worker bees too!

I have not blocked anyone from messaging me on Facebook (except some crackpots who DID NOT know me), most of you have my email and phone number, and there is a thread already started on our class web site under Classmates Chatter called Ideas for the 45th Reunion. Let your opinions be known.

My calling in life is as a human behaviorist, and I am about people connecting with other people. I do have more time right now and I can use it to “connect” if you will, but I would like some ideas at that January meeting! I don’t have the strength to do it all alone, nor would I want to.

Put on those thinking caps!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Story with The Affordable Care Act

It’s December 9th and Medicare Open Enrollment is closed, so I now feel I can address this subject. Remember, I always say with both of my blogs, “This is MY story” and that’s about all I can say. There are so many particulars that factor in to this issue that I cannot speak for anyone else and I will not. This is an entry that fits in with topics on both Connection Intersection and The Thrifty Tabloid so it is sort of a “crossover” blog.

Every year, we have our “checkup” with our insurance agent, who does it all; insurance and our investments. Everything looks good, with one exception. They thought they could go out on the Exchange for a better price for me for health insurance. My husband is on Medicare and I am not. He has a Medicare Advantage plan subsidized by his retirement system. He’s in good shape and it’s most definitely “affordable” for us.

I, on the other hand, must pay 100% of my health insurance because I am not on any retirement plan except Social Security (eventually). By the way, we took joint retirement on his retirement so I will not be destitute in my old age. 

We pay an amount for my health insurance that would equal a house payment that we have had for most of our lives. Fortunately for us, the house is paid off! It’s an exorbitant amount for one person, and it is the “basic” plan. It has a higher deductible, 80/20 for a certain amount and if one goes over that amount, it pays 100%. We got our money’s worth when I had cancer.

So, our insurance agent did some research. She was able to find policies that were slightly less than mine per month, but with a much higher deductible. The other idea was to get a “calamity” policy with a $6,000 deductible, for just a little bit less. With my history, I wouldn't even consider this option.

She tweaked some numbers, but we came up over the income limit for any real help. I might add, JUST over the line. Although our middle class is shrinking, I feel that we've been as close to middle class as there is in this day and age. Our needs have been met. If anything, we are on the lower end of middle class.

So, we are too rich for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but there is nothing “affordable” about the amount we have to pay for health insurance. We pay it, because the alternative would wipe us out if I have another bout with cancer or anything else of that nature. But as I said, it’s a house payment.

The Affordable Care Act is for the poor. I do not deny that they need health care. My $7,000.00 a year for health insurance is paying for it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Derges' Digest 2014

On the cruise
At the dawning of 2014, we could not have imagined the changes that would come. I knew before we sent out our 2013 letter that I was going to end my career at the Senior Center at the end of January; but since I had not told them, it would be inappropriate to announce it.

I knew I did the right thing. I became ill in mid-January which lasted four weeks, and I have not been ill since. I've had tired days, but I have not been sick. With the wicked winter we had, I was happy to just stay home and it was fine.

In the middle of February Jessica got a promotion to a Human Resource Generalist, and in the same week we found that Jessica and Brent were going to make us grandparents again, so that gave my life purpose beyond earning an income.

Jerry continues his volunteering at Springfield Regional Medical Center three days a week; but once last school year ended, he decided he liked Tuesdays and Thursdays free, so he got together with the STRS people and took his second retirement. We are both officially retired, but Jerry will continue his volunteer work at the hospital, which he thoroughly enjoys.

We took Jessica and Kyah to Atlanta for Easter, to visit my brother. It had been almost two years since I saw him and Kyah had never met him. We had a great time and celebrated Easter in fine fashion, church and a picnic with friends.

Joel and Lindsey
In June we helped Joel and Lindsey move into their new home. Lindsey has done a wonderful job of transforming a new house into a real home. The same week, we learned that son-in-law Brent passed the actuary test that makes him an ACAS (Associate of Casualty Actuarial Science).

In August, my long-time friend and I went on a road trip to Wisconsin to the wedding of another long-time friend. We had a wonderful weekend and decided we definitely want to do this again.

I have been doing some things that I have wanted to do for a long time. I am exercising regularly, doing Precept Bible study and did rejoin church choir. My high school classmates have had regular get-togethers. What I added was an interest in Sears Kit Homes, and meeting some other aficionados, who know A LOT more than I do! I have renewed my social work license, so took some education for that. I took an online course on the life and writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am singing with the Springfield Symphony Chorale for the 2014-2015 season. I am exploring my loves of history, architecture, and music. I continue to write my blogs for my creative outlet. I am able to visit my Mother one day a week. In short, I LOVE retirement! And the house is clean too! (I’m still not much into cooking.)

A new school year brought football to Joel at Tippecanoe High School and he moved to the Offensive Coordinator this year. Tipp had a good team that made it two games into the playoffs. Their final record was 9-3. They had several players getting league and all-district recognition. It was a satisfying year.

My two precious girls!

Our precious granddaughter, Norah Kinsley, made her arrival on Tuesday, October 7th.  She is a petite little thing at 7lb. 5oz. and 19 inches long. Kyah is a very happy big sister; and the rest of us like her too!

In November, Jerry and I took a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean. We decided to drive and stop one night in the Smokies before going to visit my brother in Atlanta. From there we went to Savannah, and took a tour of that city. We headed down the coast to Fort Lauderdale, where we set out for the Bahamas and St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We sailed on one of the largest vessels, Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas.” It’s enormous and you just have to google it to imagine it. We spent 7 days on the cruise, and left Fort Lauderdale and stayed a night in Valdosta, GA before heading to Atlanta again.

We spent Thanksgiving Day alone, which was fine after two weeks of being on the go. We were able to join Brent’s family on Sunday for their meal, and we enjoyed that as we always do. I had my Class of 1971 Christmas party in early December.

So as we complete another year, we reflect on the many blessings that we have, and sincerely look forward to another year in 2015. The biggest blessing of all: God Came Down—Emmanuel! It’s not just a holiday! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Celebrating Our Anniversary With a Cruise

I’ve been off the radar for a while, literally and figuratively. I had no real inspiration, there is nothing new on the Cancer Journey and should not be, and I tread water in My Fitness Journey. I have had some issues with medicines fighting each other and I have let the fitness go a little; but I know it’s time to get back. NOW! Not waiting until the New Year!

Earlier we decided to go on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise after the birth of our second grandchild, so we planned on mid-November. It would be nice to enjoy summer weather for one last hurray before winter sets in. We did literally leave the Midwest in one season and returned in another. ~sigh~

We decided that we would drive down to Fort Lauderdale, giving us the opportunity to visit with my brother in Atlanta, and an opportunity to drive over to Savannah, GA, which I have always wanted to do. It was beautiful to drive through Kentucky and Tennessee and still see so much color in the trees. We had three beautiful days of color. We also had some quality time with my brother, and we got to see a city I had always wanted to see.

After touring Savannah, we headed down Interstate 95 and eventually ended up on St. Augustine Beach for the night.  The next day we had a leisurely drive to Fort Lauderdale, down the east coast. We stayed at a motel that gave you a full breakfast, let you keep your car there for the week, AND shuttled you to and from the Port. It was worth every penny!

We boarded the ship, Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas” on early Saturday afternoon. We had plenty of time to unpack and explore, before we set off. It is one of the largest passenger sailing vessels in use. One of the new features of this series of cruise ships is a “Promenade,” where shopping and some restaurants are provided for passengers. Another is a “Boardwalk” which is open air, and has a carousel, more shops and at the back of the ship, an Aqua Theatre where they have diving and swimming shows. The pinnacle of design is the open air “Central Park,” where they have an actual park in the middle of the ship, with trees and other plants growing. There are staterooms with balconies looking over Central Park.

The Oasis of the Seas is on the left.
Otherwise, the ship is designed much as other ships are, with the formal dining room at one end and theater at the other. For me, most of what I wanted to do is “dress for dinner” and then go to a show. Neither of us is interested in the casino, and I didn't make it into the Kate Spade store.

It seemed enormous, and when you consider 6,300 passengers and 2,400 crew to serve them, that is just shy of 9,000 people! What sized town do YOU life in?

The first two nights, they were confused in our dining reservations. This problem probably originated with the telephone CSR, but was escalated on the ship. By Monday, we had OUR place, and two waiters that were fabulous. They learned what we liked and brought it to us before we asked.

Sunday was a port day in the Bahamas and we took a bus tour. I had much to learn about that country and its history, we had a delightful driver and a small group as we ended up on the “handicapped” van. We drove over to Paradise Island and it is indeed adeptly named. However, I got a terrible blister on my foot, which made life uncomfortable.  Monday was “at sea” so I was able to rest it, but by Tuesday’s shore visit to St. Thomas and St. John, I needed to visit the medical facility in the evening. Buy the insurance. In theory, it’s supposed to take care of the doctor and meds. I’ll believe that it’s going to happen. Well, at least I had an antibiotic in me to avoid any infection. It’s hard to keep one’s feet sterile in this environment.

The Tuesday visit to St. Thomas and St. John was an interesting day. They are part of the U.S. Virgin Islands and I was able to check my email—mostly ads. We took a boat ride to St. John and spent most of our day there. This is the island with the glorious beaches. We had lunch, but I didn't walk much.

By Wednesday, we docked in St. Maarten and I was feeling better. It’s so interesting to see this island which is split up between the Dutch and the French. We drove around the island and enjoyed the sights. I had time to shop, so I picked up a few things.

I needed Thursday and Friday to rest up, and that was good. What I love about cruises is that on “at sea days,” you can sleep in, have breakfast when and where you want, spend time at the pool if you want (after I had an open wound on my foot, I felt it was irresponsible to go to a public pool) and Jerry did, while I did other things. Usually we took a late afternoon nap, then went to dinner and a show.

We saw five completely different shows. The first was the Broadway show “Cats.” We saw a diving show in the Aqua Theater, an ice show on the onboard ice rink, a comedy and music show aimed at people of our age which was fabulous, and another show called “Come Fly with Me” that featured people flying around the theater, all kinds of special effects. Sometimes after the shows, we went to lounges to see other shows. No, I did not do Karaoke.

As I mentioned, “Oasis of the Seas” is one of the largest cruise vessels in operation. Currently, you may be seeing advertisements for “Quantum of the Seas,” which is even larger, to begin cruising in April 2015. I have mixed reviews about large verses smaller. These larger ships, by sheer size, have even more issues for the folks who are older and slower, which is many of the cruisers. The ships have more to do for families.

On the other hand, the smaller ships are more intimate. You are more likely to see someone you don’t know more than once and engage in conversation. For me, where dinner, entertainment and the pools are the most important thing to me, I’d just as soon stay small.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and had the opportunity to reconnect over all the things we were learning and doing. The phones were shut off, the stateroom TV didn't have network programming although it did have one ESPN channel, and we mainly used the TV to order tickets to shows and check our account. I love the balcony view, but it makes Hubby a little queasy, so he just doesn't look that way. I also love the movement of the ship under NORMAL conditions (our last day at sea was a bit rough.) I can’t tell if I've had too much wine, or it’s the ship. Haha! By the way, the wine was as good as the food.

One night, we had lobster. It was fabulous. Our waiter asked us if we liked it and we said yes and HE BROUGHT US BOTH ANOTHER PLATE! We finished that meal off with baked Alaska and could barely move. The following evening we had Key Lime Pie for dessert (which is my favorite), and he brought me a second piece! He got a good tip.

Our stateroom attendant was great too. She kept me in ice for my foot for three days. She would call “Miss Denise, how are you?” from six rooms away! She got a great tip too.

This is the Farewell Party on the Promenade.
I may or may not have been dancing.
We chose an “express departure” off the ship which began at 6:30 AM. With 6,300 passengers, we thought it was a good idea! We were right. By 7:30 we were in a van on the way to the motel and then we were on our way home, eating when we got hungry. The two days of driving to Atlanta were rainy and was the worst weather on the trip. We visited Valdosta, GA and spent the night there. The following night was at my brother’s. We spent a day with him and then headed home the following day.

After thirty seven years, we don't look too bad!

It was a great trip! It is my hope that, in retirement, we can have more of these opportunities, and also be able to take advantage of great last-minute deals. Whether a cruise or not, it’s time to learn new things and share with my spouse and the people we meet along the way. I love this time of life.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Becoming a Grandma Again!

I was never worried about loving one grandchild over the other. I have two children. If I had three, I would still love them all.

So when I learned that I was to become a grandmother for the second time in early October, I was exhilarated with anticipation. This child was more real from the get-go. As I recall, I felt the same way about my second pregnancy. Because I already had a child to love and it was REAL, the second child was a real life from the moment I knew I was carrying. It was the same way with this grandchild.

When we learned it was to be another girl, I didn't have one bit of disappointment. That’s the thing about being a grandparent—it just really DOES NOT MATTER! You love them all!

This baby had a name and the parents actually told us the name, because Big Sister was bound to spill the beans. I don’t know what it was about it, but a name made the baby more real. I don’t know why that is. We had two names chosen for our children, so their grandparents knew if it was a girl, it would be so and so, and if it was a boy, it would be so and so. But with this baby, we just always called her by her name, as if she was already among us. (She was in a manner of speaking!)
Within an hour of her birth.

We found out early, and it did seem to be the longest pregnancy ever, but she came one day after her due date. Mommy knew she was in labor on her due date. She doesn't tell me, but her husband hinted on Facebook. By the following morning, we were getting ready to get to the hospital. Norah was born at 10:40 AM or thereabouts. Big Sister got to see her at the same time we did. It was a very family oriented day. However, I do draw the line with being in the delivery room. I did that twice and that was enough.

We didn't stay long as Mommy was exhausted. Nana took Big Sis to a special afternoon for the two of them.

I have seen more of this child than I did her sister. Working kept me from being able to help with her, and now I can do much more. I took Big Sis to her preschool pumpkin patch trip. I was happy to be able to make those memories with her. I look forward to doing that again.

Life is changing, but this is the BEST part of it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I Love All Four Seasons

As many people retire they are looking for more moderate climates to live in. I am happy to live in an area that has four definite seasons, and there are things I love (and dislike) about each of them. Let me be perfectly frank; this is my home and I am close to my children, most of my relatives and many of my friends. I stay here because of relationships, not climate.

I know that we live at a certain latitude, and the earth is at a certain angle on its axis and the earth rotates around the sun, and let’s not forget the effect of our moon—I’m Mrs. Science Teacher, remember—but I do love the Midwest and I get bored easily with only one or two seasons.

One of the things I like about the changes is the cycle of the growing season. I realize that the Midwest is not unique in this; every climate and area grows what grows there! Here, it’s corn, soybeans, winter wheat and hay. I love to see the annual growth and finally the harvest.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think I would pick the one we are in now. I love the daily changes during autumn. I love the colors of autumn. I love to watch them unfold, green to yellow, yellow to orange and then finally the dying brown. Actually they are the colors I have usually decorated with almost all my life. My wedding colors were fall colors.

I love to drive through the country and watch the corn being harvested. Next will be the beans, and after that winter wheat will be planted in the bean fields. Sometimes we are annoyed by the machinery on the roads, but it’s part of the agricultural life. What I look forward to is the picture of all the fields being “put to bed” for winter. Here, that is about Thanksgiving time. I love to watch the changing of the colors. For us the peak is the mid-October, and then the leaves begin to fall—it depends on whether we get a big rain to just bring all the leaves down at once, or it happens in stages.

By the time the end of November rolls around, I am ready to change seasons. Christmas decorations are up and I am basically a Currier and Ives sort of girl. I like snow for Christmas. My husband and I still drive around to see the lights. Snow is quiet and I love the peace and quiet. We quiet down and observe the Christmas holidays with our family.

In January, I love to “hunker down” at home. I love the beauty of snow. I don’t love the dangerous roads. I pray for my children that are out driving and doing their activities, but I am happy to read a book. We watch a lot of basketball on TV. I make lots of soup. When the roads are cleared, I love to drive and see the beauty of snow on the fields and the trees. But now that I’m retired, I don’t have to!

Alas, by the time March rolls around, I am tired of snow too! It’s melting, dirty and ugly. March is supposed to come “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Not usually. I have sat through high school baseball games in late March and nearly froze.

Spring brings promise of new life and new growth. I enjoy watching the new growth come out in stages—first the crocuses, followed by other flowers. The fields are planted and the tree growth begins from the ground up, first with the lower bushes, reaching up to the deciduous trees, and gradually filling out as summer approaches. I love “purple week,” where the all the purple flowers and redbud bushes bloom.  I love the celebration of the Resurrection.

May is a time of endings, school and other programs that operate during the school year, but the crops and other trees and flowers are growing. We spend time in our yard, planting the new flowers. I fix the pots for the cemetery for Memorial Day.

In our area, Memorial Day does signal the beginning of summer, even if the summer solstice is later in June. The trees and flowers are in full bloom and the crops are growing. The corn is usually far beyond “knee high by the Fourth of July,” and the wheat is nearing harvest. As summer progresses, the beans and corn grow and it’s all lush and green. Even if hot, I love seeing the greenness of it all!

But all growing seasons are supposed to come to an end. It is the way of the world, and the income of the farmer. Gradually the green turns to golden and the time comes to harvest. The nights are getting colder and the leaves turn, and it starts all over again.

It’s never boring and I love it. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

For The Love of the Game

My Dad, with the octagon OB
in the background.
I remember being a little girl and going to softball games to watch my Daddy play. I’m sure I played with the other little kids, and Mommy bounced baby Benny on her lap. I don’t remember one single thing about the game itself.

The year I turned seven (1960) my Daddy took us to our first Reds game at Crosley Field. I had watched a few games on TV and was aware of the “star power” of Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson. I was in awe of seeing “real” baseball players. A seven-year-old doesn't last long listening to the radio, but I walked to the candy store, and bought lots of bubble gum with baseball cards in them. This probably gave me my first visual interest into the players and teams.

I remember the Reds playing in the 1961 World Series. That really piqued my interest at a time when I soaked it up like a sponge. During those elementary school years, I learned more about the game itself; the teams, rivalries and leagues. I continued to chew that bubble gum and buy those cards. I never traded.

Both my parents loved the game—I didn't stand a chance. Dad played at Olive Branch High School, and Mom was friends with baseball players in Springfield. I’m sure it’s an interest they shared together in the early years.

One of my absolute all time favorites, of Mike laying
down a suicide squeeze, with another Mike coming home!
Benny’s myopia kept him from playing baseball, and we certainly didn't understand that during those years. I know Dad was disappointed, but it’s what it was. After moving, I played softball, but I really wasn't very talented at it. I just tried my best and made some lifelong friends.

As a family, we continued to go to games at Crosley Field each year. It always was a great family activity and we loved it. We sat in the “moon deck” sometimes, to save a little money. It never mattered to me.

What is this thing I have with
left-handed batters?
When I got to high school, I "went steady" with a guy who was on the varsity baseball team. I was a junior and he was a senior. I guess you could say I was a “groupie.” I went to every game, and can remember sitting in the car in some miserable place with his mother. Spring high school baseball can be brutal in Ohio—I've been to games called for snow. I thoroughly enjoyed that year, and when he and I began talking seriously about a life together, while other girls were planning their college careers or something else, I was planning on following a guy around in the minor leagues, if we got lucky.

There REALLY are not very many 17-year-olds that think like that!

Well, of course, that didn't work out (although we have a wonderful relationship today and he approves this message) and life moved on. I continued to follow our high school team my senior year, at least to the HOME games.

Riverfront Stadium was built between my junior and senior years in high school, 1970.

The college years brought new friends, many of whom were Reds fans and the Big Red Machine was gearing up. We weren't any richer than any other college kids, and we would pile into someone’s semi-operational vehicle and go to college nights, and any other special cheap night. We parked ten blocks away at a cheap place and ate 25 cent hot dogs. I didn't drink beer. I think we went a couple of times on someone’s sibling’s straight-A tickets. We would do anything to get to the game.

During 1975 and 1976, the years the Reds won the World Series (plural), I was 22 and 23 years old.  I graduated in 1974 and lived in another town through most of the summer of 1975, but moved home September 30, 1975.  I had no job, so by golly, I could watch every game of that 1975 World Series, the series that all others are compared to in Cincinnati. The big joke is that I met my future husband on a travel night of the series, because otherwise, I would have been home, planted in front of the TV with my Dad, who was recuperating from a heart attack. I guess it was meant to be, because I just wouldn't have been out while the ball game was on! Period.

My husband-to-be was not the dyed-in-the-wool fan that I was. His Dad played ball, and I guess was a pretty good pitcher, but he was a farmer and there wasn't much time for watching TV baseball games. However, the man had a transistor radio with him at all times, so he was listening to games. Living between Detroit and Cleveland, he was an American League fan, which he and I teased each other about for many years. (My father-in-law was buried with his transistor radio)

By the time we were married, there was much more baseball on TV. I watched it. Wanna spend time with me? Watch baseball. Period. He was converted.

During the early years, we went to many games with friends, and we didn't sit in any moon deck or nosebleed seats. I worked in a bank and could sign up for free tickets to several games. We usually went to Farmers’ Night with my in-laws. I talked my father-in-law into attending a National League game. Land sakes!

I remember the sickening feeling I had when Tony Perez was traded and the Big Red Machine was bit-by-bit dismantled. When I heard that Tony had been traded to the Phillies and would be playing in Cincinnati in April 1983, I ordered tickets. This I wanted to see. We were part of an ovation that lasted about ten minutes. It was awesome! I don’t remember who won the game, I just remember the welcome of Big Doggie back to Cincinnati. (I also remember being at work in 2000, when my co-worker—also a baseball fan—got the word of Tony’s Hall of Fame election. I told my co-worker I could now die in peace!)

I was eight months pregnant on Johnny Bench Night in 1983. All we could get were nose-bleed seats and I think Jerry and I were in one place and Mom and Loren were in another. It was September 24th or something and I was so darned hot I had a beer. Not that I needed to, but I didn't dare go down those steep steps to the bathroom.

A little girl being raised right.
Opening Day 1985.
During the years the kids were little we didn't get to Cincy much. I remember my daughter liked “Buddy Bell.” (I think she liked the alliteration, she was four. But come to think of it, later she liked Bret Boone, so maybe she had something for players named B). We took Joel at a young age and he DID understand the game, because he had so much more exposure to the game and commentary on TV. It’s so amazing how kids soak up these things.

Then, there was a shift from going to games in Cincinnati, Ohio to games in Enon, Ohio. Jess played girls softball several years and Joel played little league.

I like to tell the story about Joel at 6, when his t-ball team was practicing on the grass because the field was wet and we were making do. Joel was playing second base and caught a line drive and ran to second and then to first and got an unassisted triple play. We adults looked at each other and thought, “Did we really just see what we thought we saw?” It was not a physical feat, it was a mental feat. The other kids were picking dandelions.

Another favorite of my son, playing
against the school (system) in which
he would later teach and coach.
That began thirteen years of walking tacos and hotdogs. Little league, traveling junior high league and high school JV his freshman year, and then took over first base for varsity for three years. I always did like first basemen. There was spring high school ball and summer ball. When he was 15, he started his 10-year stint as an umpire. I missed very few games that he played in, but I did draw the line at umpiring. Oh, I saw a few, but I mostly heard about his umpiring from other parents. They were pleased, and that was nice to hear.

It was a small town and I can remember him coming home from umping a game of 5th and 6th graders. He said, "You know you live in a small town, when you are umping a game and the pitcher is the younger brother of your former girlfriend, the catcher is the younger brother of your current girlfriend (now wife) and the batter is the younger brother of the second base umpire." Yeah, life was like that.

Last year, when they reunited the position players of the Big Red Machine, one of my college friends got tickets and she and I were there. It was completely awesome and one of the best baseball memories of my life. It MIGHT happen again because they are building a statue for Tony Perez. You never know. I’ll be there, regardless.

Next year Great American Ball Park hosts the All-Star Game. That’s a pipe dream, but I’d love to see the Home Run Derby.

Yes, I have been to Cooperstown, and did not have enough time to spend there. We were on a group tour of New York State and City and I would like to return on my terms.

Big moments in baseball that I remember exactly where I was:
  • Sobbing on New Year’s Eve 1972 when I learned of the death of Roberto Clemente.
  • At my Social Work Practicum watching TV when Hank Aaron hit his home run in April 1974. In September of 1973, I ordered tickets for a Braves game in left-center field.
  • Watching the game that John McSherry died in (Opening Day 1996) with my children. I knew he was dead immediately. Try telling that to your kids.
  • Letting the kids stay up when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the longevity record.
  • My choir director wondering why no one showed up for choir the night Pete Rose got his big hit. (The man was from Alabama. What would he know?)

Well, the professional season is almost over and I will watch the post-season, depending on who’s playing, and I rarely root against the National League, but you never know. I do wish Derek Jeter well.

I love this picture too. #1 played for
a team in my son's league and we
watched him grow up. Here he gives
a high five to one of the kids on the
World Series Championship team
from Chicago.
Why do I continue to love and watch the game? Why do I choose to watch the Little League World Series instead of a movie or other program? Because somewhere in my soul, I love the walk-off hit-preferably a home run-and watch grown men act like little boys when they play a little boys' (and now girls'!) game. I love the strategy and I love the skill of the game. To some people, it plays too slow; but there's something about the mental battle of a pitchers' duel that I love. Certainly, I still have my favorite players, (not always Reds) and always will. I can tip my hat to a fine defensive play, even if it results negatively for our team.

There are changes coming next year. I don't know what will happen; but I know I will still love the game.