Baseball – it’s berry, berry good

atbatThe Braves cried this week, not just because they lost for the first time, but because it was the end of the season for them.

For many, including Yoda, this was the first real team they ever belonged to. It was the first time they felt a brotherhood built around a common goal. The goal was not necessarily to win, but to bring out the best in each other. That they did.

In five months, the Braves went from a team of loosely joined boys with little experience to a determined and undefeated west county championship team. It was a joy to see them grow. Yoda went from barely able to throw the ball 20 feet to hurling it to the cutoff man from outfield with palm stinging power. We watched a frozen infield turn into a quick response team. In nine and ten year old boy abilities, it was like watching the Keystone Cops turn into the Bolshoi Ballet.

We were all astounded at their progress, but most of all we were proud of the sportsmen they became. To a man, the Braves played honestly and with honor.

Their head coach, Joe Lewis (and yes that is his real name) made it clear from the very beginning that baseball is a game to be played using the best of themselves. Coach Lewis and the other three assistant coaches, Benton, Clack, and Thigpen always upheld themselves as the examples of what they wanted the kids to be. Each advancement made by a boy was celebrated proudly with a high-five, swooping hug or just a “guy” fist pound and each frustration handled with finesse as to bring out a betterment, not an embarrassment.

This true coaching led the boys to an undefeated title in their division of live pitch. And as such, they were slotted to play in the wider all county championship series. And play they did.

The first game of the series, they played on fire, but the flames were doused by a nasty thunderstorm. In the second inning the game was called due to weather. They would have to begin again the next day.

The boys were a bit dispirited the second day. Whether it was fatigue or their first exposure to the darker side of sportsmanship, I’m not sure. This was the first time the boys had experienced parents that openly mocked them, shouted insults and attempted to overrun the umpires’ calls. It was disheartening to see such behavior directed toward nine and ten year old children.

It took a lot not to return in kind, but instead we returned in kindness. We applauded every effort and every well-played inning. We drowned out the ugliness with cheers. Coach Lewis made sure that his boys would not be the ones to create animosity on the field or that his parents would not be thrown out during this championship series. We chose to show the boys the high road.

The boys ultimately lost the series, but not for trying. There were great hits, excellent pitches, throws and catches. There were a couple of amazing and clever home plate plays and even a tie-breaker extra inning, but it was not to be. The shameful tactics used by the other team won out. Cheaters do sometime prosper.

The boys were upset that they lost. It was hard to face their first losses this late in the game, but it wan’t until they cleared the field and gathered their equipment out of the dugout that the true meaning of the loss hit home. It was their last game together.  For Yoda, it was as if he lost his best friend and he wasn’t the only one. Reports from other parents were the same.

Several of the boys are moving up to the next level, as is Coach Lewis. The Braves as we knew them will not return, but we are glad to have the experience we did. It could have been something so different. Coaches Lewis, Benton, Clack and Thigpen built a team based on camaraderie and pride in a game well-played; the boys’ reaction to the last game proved that.

We were fearful that long ago blustery try-out day in February. We had heard the horror stories of spiteful parents and coaches that screamed, but fortune smiled in our favor. We became part of the Braves and Coach Lewis, we got a piece of that pie.

The Essay I Should Have Written

UnknownA cold, miserable mist greeted me when I walked out into the evening after my last semester final. The kind of mist that doesn’t quite call for an umbrella and yet leaves you damp by the time you get where you are going no matter the distance traveled. It fit my mood perfectly and summed up the semester quite well: all wet.

It really bothers me that I have not performed well, especially in this anthropology course on identity, despite knowing that there have been some extenuating circumstances involved – work issues, home issues, health issues – and as only my closest of closest’s know, identity can be a challenging subject for me. But I also know that I made some poor choices in the past fifteen weeks. All came back to haunt me this afternoon.

Given the choice of two out of five or six questions, we were to write complete essays integrating the information we gleaned from the course and our supposed intellectual interpretation of said information. I say supposed because, at least in my instance, my intellect fled from my brain as soon as I began to read the questions.

The questions weren’t difficult, really just slight variations on things we had discussed in class. What was lacking was my ability to form a single cohesive unit of thought. We had two hours to give back any indication we understood the course work. It took me an hour and a half to write the first piece of drivel and the remaining half hour to slather my paper with the second piece of nonsense. I cried on the way home, whether in frustration, relief or shame I cannot say.

Bashert, bless her non-cooking soul, had made matzah ball soup while I was off torturing myself. It was a welcome balm to my aching ego, as was the time spent relaxing on the couch with her and Yoda just watching a mystery show together. It gave me space to breathe and mull over what had occurred during the final. It gave me a chance to get my thoughts in order and think about what I would have written had my brain been in working order.

One of the choices in the questions given was to state three things you have learned about your identity through this course. This is the essay that I should have written.

Identity is a nebulous thing. It tends to defy definition because there are so many ways to define it. When researching information about my term paper, I found that Toon van Meijl attempted to define identity as “a kind of nexus at which different constructions of self coincide, and sometimes also collide”. Identity is who you are, but also who you are taught to be and who you are ascribed to be. Identity is fluid and changeable, yet fixed and determined. That is what I have learned this semester.

In my parents’ home I am the third child and youngest daughter, sister to my siblings; immutable non-choices, determined by my parents’ genetics and timing. In my own home, I am Mom; I am now daughter and mother. Two of my identities have coincided and collided. I exist in the context of both constructs.

In my spousal relationship, I am wife and not-wife, to corrupt a phrase used by Serena Nanda in her article, “Men and Not-Men”. The hegemony in which I reside still does not fully accept the identity marker of wife for my partnership in life. Since I live in a domestic partnership and have the sex designation of female, it is customary to identify my role as “wife”, but in my domestic partnership, the other is not male. Here a different construction collides. Because of my sexuality, I am not wife, but I am not husband.

Along the same lines is my gender identity; gender, as we have been taught, being the cultural interpretation of physical appearance. Because of agreements to societal changes over the years in the Western cultural structure in which I reside, I am able to utilize my own agency and choose to not wear clothing typically interpreted for people who have a feminine gender. But because those societal changes did not necessarily encompass a change in the central meaning of the generalized concepts of what masculine and feminine connote in our society, my choice of attire and even hairstyle creates yet another identity when seen from another social worldview.

In my place of work, I occupy multiple spaces. I am employee, boss, trainer, acquaintance and friend. In school, I am student, but designated as other since I do not fit the cultural profile of the typical college student. In my religious sphere, I am Jewish to the outside faiths, but may not be considered as such by those Jews whose worldview is much more orthodox than mine.

At my own nexus of self, I am all of the above and more. I identify as artist, writer, political agnostic, curmudgeon and nice person. How I see myself may not be the way another will or can view me. If I have learned anything in the time spent through this course is that identity is a process, a state of being that is always fixed and always in flux, determined not only by the institution in which we reside, but also by the resistance and agency we as individuals choose to apply.

Dibs on the MatchBox Car

In my grandmother’s home was a magic box. Every child in our family was magnetically attracted to it. It sat almost at the end of a long hallway that divided Mama’s shotgun house, directly in front of the single bathroom.

It wasn’t a grand thing. Only about as wide as a five year old’s arm and covered with brown shelf paper, it was an unassuming vault of treasures. It was Mama’s toy box.

As soon as we entered the house, my younger brother and I would beeline through the living room, dart through the doorway from the dining room and race down the hall to the awaiting trove.  Lucky was the kid who arrived first, she or he got first dibs on what was the choice item of the day.

It varied from time to time what things it held for us to discover. Slinkys, yo-yos, soldiers with their feet frozen in blobs of green plastic or some ViewMaster reels might be found. Often, Matchbox cars, HotWheels and Tonka trucks were at the ready to populate the small, two-story garage handbuilt by my Grandfather or race down the long hall.

There was never anything large or very expensive in the box. Mostly just odds and ends left over from birthdays or Christmas’ past. Things to be discarded or treated with possible childhood distain would be magically transformed into an object of desire. Mr. Potato Head might not have both ears, but his pipe and glasses were there and that was great. Only a few Spirograph gears might be available, but there was enough to create fabulous designs to captivate any willing adult art admirer.

Palpable delight was felt in digging through the bit and pieces, mining for just the perfect toy to claim for the day or the hour or until Mom told us our turn was over. Imagination would take over when we found the stray crayon or some pirate coins hidden in the back corners.

Built way before mandatory locking hinges and I’m sure repurposed from another use, the box had a lid with the tendency to fall back into closed position. You really had to make sure that it was all the way back before starting to rummage. Once, in my haste to grab a good toy, I failed to push the lid all the way back. Slap! across my nose the hasp came – blood, tears and a lesson well learned.

The inevitability of growing up and its cruel disassociation with the magical never really affected Mama’s toy box. It never moved. Even as we grew and became busily involved in the ways of adulthood, it remained steadfast in its place guarding the long hallway ready to offer any passing child a chance to play. The next generations would soon experience the joy of running through the house to claim their daily prize.

In these often harried and tense days, it is nice to bring to mind the magic box in Mama’s hall. Though the home she kept for 40 odd years or so has been gone for quite some time, claimed by urban planning, the memory of it and that box full of childhood joy will always be there ready for another day of play. Race you there.

Peas Under the Plate

I owe my mother apologies for many things done or not done over the years, but I believe high on the list should be a hearty, “I’m sorry” for the repeated utterance of the following three little words:

“What’s for supper?”

Every night the same inquisition. Every night the same stares of anticipation. Every night the same dread. What’s for supper?

My Mom faced this eternal (infernal) question each night from four children, a husband and various and sundry pets who passed through our way for thirty years or so. Bless her little heart. I wonder if she, like I now, wanted to slap a frying pan upside someone’s head when those three little words came out?

Mom made do. I admire that and wish I had more of her “do”. She made supper and we ate it (with the exception of my younger brother Ernst, who subsisted on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for 18 years, but that is another story). We had a meat, a veggie and a starch every supper. She made it work, whether we deserved it or not.

When we asked “what’s for supper?” I’m sure there were plenty of turned up noses at times, but the menu she worked out is what we got. There was no ditching the kitchen and heading off to the nearest fast food establishment. Going out was for special occasions and with dinner guests numbering from four to six most of the time, it was rather expensive, too.

We lived on my Dad’s one salary. Mom made it work. Some nights we had Spam patties as the meat source, other nights we had round steak that had been split in half lengthwise then pounded out to stretch. There were other nights of fried chicken or pork chops and mashed potatoes (not applesauce).  Looking back those must have been the times my parents were more flush, but it didn’t matter, we partook of what we had, which is not to say we ate it all – no, I remember clearly trying to hide peas under the rim of my plate and I’ve heard stories of my brother Stavro covertly placing items behind the refrigerator.

Supper was the time the family regrouped. All were called by the rallying cry, “supper’s ready”! Off went the t.v., down went the books, the telephone conversation was cut short, play was halted and we all came together.

We had marvelous conversations and learned of each other’s daily lives. We told stories, passed on new knowledge, played word games and made plans. Occasionally, we would fight, but most of the time we laughed, a lot. Supper became less about the food and more about the time spent together. It was something I think we took too much for granted. Another apology owed to Mom.

Maybe that’s the “do” I’m missing. Even in the worst of times, Mom found something to make for us so that we could sit together and eat. She may have wanted to conk each one of  us on the head for asking what’s for supper, but she didn’t and we survived to ask another day.

Perhaps I need to take the message more to heart. The t.v. needs to go off, apps turned off, Yoda called in from play and make supper the focus it should be, our family reconnection. Stretched paychecks and crossed schedules need to take a backseat to the preparation of what’s for supper. Nothing says I can’t resent the question, but everything says I can make it mean something else.

Thank you, Mom.

May I Help You, Sir?

Victoria: Your problem, Mr. Marchand, is that you’re preoccupied with stereotypes. I think it’s as simple as you’re one kind of man, I’m another.

King Marchand: And what kind are you?

Victoria: One that doesn’t have to prove it. To myself, or anyone.


I was “Sir’d” again this week. The oh, so polite drive through attendant at Arby’s ended each of his inquiries and statements with “Sir”.

“What type of drink, Sir?”, “You just want the sandwich, Sir?”, “Your total is $8, Sir.”, “Please drive around to the first window, Sir.”

I’ve given up trying to correct people.

As a kid, I was forever mistaken for a boy. My manner and dress bucked the norm of 1960‘s middle class suburbia. I was Scout on paved streets.

The teen years didn’t bring anything different. Although I had changed from a solid, square block to blocky hour glass the question still rose, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

One would think that true adulthood would bring some clearer distinctions, but no on that one too.

Once for Halloween, Bashert and I traded costuming. I wore one of her folksy skirts and tops, put on make-up and jewelry, while she dressed in slacks, a button down shirt, vest, tie and sported a hat. Her gear was beyond my usual attire. I was the one mistaken for a cross-dresser.

What confuses people about a short-haired, middle-aged, heavy-set, well-endowed woman, that they would make the jump to give me a not just a masculine identity, but a male identity? I tried to find some information on line, but to no avail yet. What is the data? What markers or culturally induced suppositions are at work? Is there something innate about these assumptions/presumptions?

You tell me. I have yet to figure it out. All I know is I received a “Thank you, MA’AM” and a 10% discount when I got to the window.

Dreams may come, dreams may go

In the spring, I received notice that my university financial aid would not be processed unless I declared a major, met with an advisor and laid out a course schedule hurtling me toward graduation. I was informed that financial aid would no longer pay for any courses not directly involved with obtaining the degree I sought. Such is the penalty for going back for a second undergraduate degree and having no money. I have to know what I want to be when I grow up.

Some time back, I grew weary of the corporate grind, the machinations, the end of the world scenarios every time something goes wrong, the obvious greed and lack of empathy from those who have scaled the corporate mountain. I kept telling Bashert I needed to get back in school and find something else to do with my life. She finally told me to “shit or get off the pot”. In other words, do something about it or shut up. I chose to return to school.

I returned with the full intention of moving on to a graduate program here at our state Medical University. I didn’t want to become a physician, but gain a doctorate and do research. Neuroscience and psychopharmacology were the two beacons lighting my way. I am fascinated with the way the brain works. I had a dream.

I volunteered to work the night shift so that I could have my days to attend classes and study. I worked it out with my nightside partners whereby I would be the one to “close” every night except Wednesdays, the night before I had a lab class scheduled. Working the later night shift would also give me more time to spend with Yoda, picking him up from school and having supper together with Bashert.

When I got to school, it was if I had entered a magic kingdom. I’d forgotten how much I love to learn. Having a lifetime of experiences behind me, I felt much surer of myself. No longer the first time attending, scared teenager or that voiceless woman coming out of a horrible divorce situation, I was there for a purpose and with a self authority I lacked before.

My resolve of purpose faltered a year into my studies with the introduction of Evolutionary Biology and PreCalculus.

Now let me pause here just one moment and let you know something about myself. I am bitter. You see, I graduated the first time around with a GPA of 3.499 and it didn’t get rounded up. Yep, I missed cum laude by 1/1000th of a point. You know why I graduated with a 3.499?


In 1979, I took College Algebra, earned a D and it has haunted my GPA ever since.  Never mind that I returned to school, took it over and made an A, no, in college it all counts and never goes away.

What do Evolutionary Biology and PreCalculus concern? Math – lots and lots of math.

That semester was a living hell of math.

I managed to eke out a B in both classes. EvoBio was saved by my writing ability and obnoxious eagerness to have everything turned in early. PreCalculus was saved only by my four day marathon study session for the final and the good graces of the adjunct professor, who dropped three tests grades.

I looked at the remaining classes I would be required to take to earn my B.S. and move on. Chemistry I&II & Organic – math; Physics I&II- math; Calculus – math; Genetics – math.

It was then I realized that I was not going to be able to realize my dreams of moving on to any PhD. program in science. Perhaps if I was younger with more time and energy to devote myself strictly to the programs, I could do it, at least that’s what I would like to think. But with a family to care for, health issues and a job that costs me 45-60 hours a week, excluding travel time, it just wasn’t going to happen. I simply don’t bounce back like I used to and there are sacrifices I’m not ready to make. So, I had to release that dream.

It hasn’t been easy giving up.  I practically gave up writing and I my camera still lies unused. I grudgingly declared an English major and met with the English vice-chair for advisement. Corporate drudgery stared me down hard. I felt defeated, weary and wasteful. At this point in my life, what use was studying 19th century British literature going to do? I sulked most of my way through last spring and the summer.

It has taken until now to climb my way back out of that hole of disappointment.

Glimmers of light are beginning to shine through. I have partners that I work with in my business life that I enjoy and trust now. And while Family Bedlam is well, still bedlam, we are a family doing the best we can with love and hope. This semester I am taking classes I really enjoy and I have an appointment to speak with someone in the Communications department about switching to an area of study that might just help me in my present career. If I cannot move on to a different world outside then perhaps I can make the world I exist in now a little bit better.

I guess that’s the good thing about dreams. One can always build another.

Photo Credit: Photo by Vail. Undated.



 The rhythm of life can be disrupted by many things. My arrhythmia came about by lack of sleep.


The first or second week of May, in a sleep deprived stupor, I nearly hit a train. This was no metaphorical iron horse breathing the hot breath of mortal visions, but a real locomotive. I wasn’t stuck on the tracks or trying to beat the guard arms, no I just nearly rammed into the side of a moving CSX freight car because my brain was running on the memory of my Serta.

June found me working three straight weeks of 7pm to 5am shifts and attending an accelerated five week semester, studying Intro to Literary Theory (I never again want to read Heart of Darkness or see “Apocalypse Now”.), and doing a massive overhaul of my home. On more than one occasion, I woke to sunlight streaming through my car window either in the work parking lot or in front of my home. Very disconcerting to say the least.


Life was moving in pudding. Something had to give and, like our so wise government always seems to choose, the first thing to go was the Arts. Writing, outside of horribly constructed critical papers for school, was out. Photography reduced to glossed over gazing at Bashert’s beautiful shots. The summer reading books remained hostage in the bottom of my book bag.


Things began to flow again when one of my fellow gatekeepers returned to the office a couple of weeks ago giving me time relief and Maymester closed giving me brain relief (I earned a B in my lit class – always makes me wonder if an A would be in the works if the only thing on my list was school). My family has been gracious enough to allow me to sleep in even though on occasion Yoda was busting at the seams to get me up and going. I’ve only passed out in the driveway once in the last two weeks.


So, hopefully my sinus rhythm is returning to normal. I took a quick opportunity to step outside and snaps some photos today and if I can keep this up I will finish this little article. I’ve started it many times in the last few days. I’m going to catch up on all the Weekly Photo Challenges that I can. “Today” sort of loses its freshness when taken several weeks after the “today” of the assignment, but philosophically speaking it’s always today, so…


For those of you who so nicely signed up to follow the blog, I thank you for hanging in and not deleting my link while I was MIA. For those of you who have stopped by and left comments, I thank you also; I will answer and acknowledge the time you took to visit. I have one day planned to catch up on all the wonderful blog writings and photography I have missed these weeks.


Blogosphere, here I come, cross my heart.


Summertime and the livin’ ain’t easy.

Thanks, Yakir for the snap.

Three years ago about this time, I was making my way across the southern California desert riding the remnants of the Mother Road. Much of that once mighty highway is lonely lane of asphalt stretching out for flat miles with nothing on either side but sand, sparse vegetation and mountains in the distance. This time of year the road becomes a strip of bacon sizzling in the desert sun. 107℉ with spikes to 110℉ was the norm during the four hour drive.

This morning at 7am when I opened the back door to let out the dogs, I was hit in the face with that memory. Flashes of the Amboy Crater popped into my head and I half expected the backyard to be littered with bit and pieces of volcanic rock. I quickly retreated into the luxurious comfort of my air conditioned home and willed the pups to take care of business quickly.

I have lived all my adult life in the southern United States; The South where it is “sticky” from April until December. Hot, humid summers are the expected thing and we are rarely disappointed, but this summer is taking the cake. Even those who make the satirical remark, “Imagine that, Georgia hot in June?” will have to admit, it’s not just hot right now, it’s damn hot.

When I was a kid, we lived in Phoenix, Arizona (See Drowning in the Desert). The five years we spent out there showed us what western hot could be. One summer all the neighborhood kids got together and fried eggs on the sidewalk and my Mom watched the rubber seal around her car windshield melt like a slow tar river.

Southern hot is different. Put an egg on the sidewalk, it will poach. Things don’t really melt here, they stew. A second skin is a constant accessory. Once when I was in New York,  I came out of a hotel restroom stall to find a young woman looking in the mirror complaining that the humidity was ruining her curls.  I thought to myself, honey you don’t know humidity until you watch the sweat from your sweet, iced tea grow mildew on your glass.

The storms predicted for tonight and early this week don’t raise the hopes for relief. They mean a third layer of skin; insect repellant. 100% humidity and standing water and it’s party time for the insect population. We’ve already seen an increase in gnats, mosquitoes, fleas and for the first time ever in the house, tics (yes, we are combing over the animals each time they come from outside – I don’t do parasites). After the rains, we will be laying down a veterinarian recommended Spectracide®, another first.

I’m not sure what the rest of the summer will bring. There’s meteorological mumbo-jumbo about this weather pattern and that weather pattern, but anyone who lives in this area could have told you that this was to be a scorcher. Mild winters breed hot summers. That’s the way this region rolls. The mystery lies in the height the mercury will hit and the length of wave’s stay.

So place your bets, raise your umbrellas, fans, fly swatters and hem lengths to toast this first heat of summer. It’s going to be one hell of one to remember.


I’ve been going to see the chiropractor for about a month or so.  I’d been to one many, many years ago after a car accident and it seemed to help.  I thought I’d give it a go again since I’m lopsided from walking with a limp for so long.

The twins who run the place are very gung ho on the proper placement of the Atlas bone. This is the top cervical bone in your neck – the one that your skull is supposed to rest serenely upon.  Apparently, mine is out of whack because I am not even close to serenity at the moment.

They have a funky machine that looks as if it going to deliver a lethal stab into the base of your skull.  What it does is gently adjust the degree of angle in the Atlas.  No more, “take a breath, relax and try not to think that I’m about to snap the hell out of your neck” stuff. Nope, just a gentle, almost unfelt tap.

My Atlas has been reset oh, six times now.  I’m guessing the little bugger is quite happy being crooked. It just won’t sit still and every time they adjust it, I end up with these excruciating bothersome muscle spasms between my shoulder blades.  You know the kind where that’s pretty much all you can think about?

I was dancing with Yoda yesterday and with every move my back had it’s own little disco party. Today, I’ve been attempting to study for my Archaeology final, but the spasms in my back are making me wonder if I need my own forensics done.


Female: approximately 50 years old

Height: feet touch the floor

Weight: filled out

Race: hasn’t run one in 30 years

Teeth: still her own, although they could use a whitening

Body shape: filled out

Musculature: apparently doesn’t eat spinach

Handedness: both there

Scars: emotional and physical present

Past bone injuries: two screws in right ankle; one slightly skewed Atlas


There was a crooked woman and she walked a crooked mile,
She found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
She bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Until she underwent chiropractic manipulations and ended up in worse straits than before.

Anyone know a good masseuse?