NY Mets Opening Day

Baseball Standings '08

Our newest and greatest acquisition for the Mets, our pitching savior Johan Santana, will turn it around this year for the team that, last October, suffered the most historic collapse in the history of baseball. All will be good in 2008.

It’s been a long, harsh, snowy, bitter cold, long, long winter… but Opening Day for my beloved team has finally arrived today… play ball!

Here are excerpts from an essay by the former commissioner of baseball, Bart Giamatti, who suffered an untimely death in 1989 while in office (for those not in the baseball-know, he was the father of actor Paul Giamatti).

Green Fields of the Mind
From A Great and Glorious Game: Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti
Originally published in Yale Alumni Magazine and Journal (November 1977)

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn’t this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game’s deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio–not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television–and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.

Of course, there are those who grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.

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Maine

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We made our yearly trip to Maine for our anniversary and this time were met with winds from another planet. We safely watched the sandstorm from the confines of the car, while other people made the endeavor down to the beach. Even the seagull was finding the wind to be a challenge.

This year we made stops in Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, and Portland, while once again using the Grey Gull Inn in Wells as home base for the weekend. Clicking on each photo will bring you the larger size, or you can use the slideshow feature.

It was my first full day in Portland and I was surprised at how they must have a large Scandinavian community, considering they have not one, but two “Simply Scandinavian” stores — one store for food, and another store for everything else. We shopped in the food store, and then yesterday dined on Norwegian fjord smoked salmon, lingonberry spread, gjetost cheese, and lefse.

On Saturday we had lunch in Bull Feeney’s overlooking Portland and the harbor… an Irish saloon from the 1880s, complete with a snug and a pot belly stove.

We also hit a license plate gold mine for Michael — a nautical Maine souvenir shop was selling, oddly enough, stacks of plates from across the country (along with railroad spikes… and horseshoe nails… you name the non-nautical oddity, they had it).

Other than the winds from another planet, it was a beautiful weekend, with sunrises over the ocean at the inn, and seals basking on sunny rocks while we had breakfast.

Tribute

What better way to spend the day than with Grandma and Grandpa, from the slide show I posted last year; a few people have included nice comments below the video. Thanks again to Vincent for some of the photographs. And here’s another poem by Eavan Boland.

The Emigrant Irish

Like oil lamps we put them out the back,

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example.

They would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power.

Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

Eavan Boland

It’s that time of year again. The PBS stations are full of pledge-driven shows… Absolutely Irish, Historic Pubs of Ireland, Celtic Thunder, The High Kings… to name just a few. Any day now, The Quiet Man… and Darby O’Gill and the Little People… will start infecting televisions all over the country, playing in heavy rotation.

The shamrock and leprechaun decorations abound, and soon people will be drinking green beer, and spelling the day as St. Patty’s Day, which is incorrect. Patty is a girl’s name. It’s St. Paddy’s Day, so let’s spell it correctly for once, everyone, please.

I’m 100% proud to be a second-generation Irish American, but have never felt the need to wear green on the day, or paint shamrocks on my face. Instead, I will celebrate my ancestry with writings that I studied in last semester’s course, “Postmodern Irish Poetry”. Here is a poem by Eavan Boland.

Quarantine

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking–they were both walking–north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

Thank you everyone

BunnyGirl

I appreciate all your thoughts and condolences about BunnyGirl more than you know. She was a beautiful girl and now she’s in a more beautiful place. She was my whole world, and I told her that every day of her enriched life.

I was blindsided by the sudden decline in her final week; when the meds seemed to work for the first few weeks, I really thought it was going to keep her going for awhile. I’m grateful that she was never in any pain. She was just so very tired.

I used vacation time beginning that Wednesday, through the rest of the week. For the last few days, she never left the bedroom, and laid on our bed, under the quilt. I never left her side except for work on that Monday and Tuesday, but even then I left early so I could get home to her quicker. The bedroom and our bed turned into a hospice, and we gave her all the love and comfort we had in us. I laid with her under the quilt 24/7, making sure to always be either caressing her or touching her.

Now she’s gone, and there really are no words for my heartache. Having been through this before with Smokey, I know that only time will heal, but even then I won’t ever forget how much I miss her, and how much it hurts. Before she passed, I gave her kisses from everyone, telling her who each kiss was from. I thanked her for all the joy and comfort she gave me for more than seventeen years, and I asked her to not forget me, and to come visit me in my dreams.

Shawn used vacation time that Thursday and Friday, and the day after she passed we took a drive because I needed to see the ocean. I chose Hampton Beach in NH, rather than Maine, and I found it curious that I wanted to stay on the small NH seacoast, when I love the beaches in Maine so much. As we were strolling down to the water, Shawn glanced down and picked up a small, broken shell in the shape of a heart. I knew it was a gift from her, and I knew then that I had chosen that beach for a good reason.

The next morning I woke to a dream where she had come to visit me. In the dream, I was sitting in the living room and she happily strolled in, gave me her big hello chirp, and jumped into my lap. I was so happy to see her and hold her again, but I knew it was just a visit, and that I was going to have to let her go again. Always the good girl, always the sweetheart, always the angel, she gave me both a gift and a visit within two days.

BooBear has shown signs of missing her; on a few occasions I found him sniffing under her favorite chair looking for her, and sniffing inside closets, and then looking for her inside her bunny hut. He seems needy, curled up in our laps all the time, and following us from room to room. We love him to pieces, and we’re giving him 200% comfort and attention, and he seems to be adjusting well enough.

Of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken of her over the years, I’ve posted a small selection, all taken between June and December 2007.