Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung around here, about a month early. At first it seemed like a fluke...the snow and frost were certain to return....but now I'd have to say it's here. Here's some pictures from the last 10 days to prove it. The flowering trees are blooming like crazy!

Billy and his buddy Ryan have been riding their bikes to school most of the time. This picture was taken after school at their "quidditch" match. It's a take off from the game on the Harry Potter movies and involves running around with brooms between their legs. I don't quite get it. They broke my good broom, that's all I know about that.

The same tree blossoming on a different day. So many blossoms!

At the Twins game, outside, green must be spring. How will it be next year if the weather returns to normal? Snowy? Will T.C. Bear need long underwear? Oh wait, he's a bear, he won't come out of hibernation until it's warm enough.

Dandelions. A sure sign of spring. The trouble with this early and very long spring is that I feel so, so far behind. It feels like I should be digging around in the flower garden. It feels like I should have the window boxes planted. It feels like I should have the annuals in place....

....but it's not even May 1st yet. So I'm not really just feels like it. Well, the lawn needs mowing for a second time, so maybe I am behind.

It would be tough to be a farmer this year....well....most years....but this year especially. It would be so, so tempting to get things in the ground early. But how big of a risk can they take? A late frost for farmers is pretty costly. It's not like they can just go out and throw a sheet or two over their plants. But if I feel far behind, it must be many times worse for them. My dad used to say, "I'm so far behind, I'm almost caught up." Which doesn't make sense unless you depend on the seasons and are a whole year me with my spring cleaning.

Did you notice the full moon the other day? I have a friend that works at a nursing home and said that she tries to stay off the work schedule when the moon is full....she said really strange things happen during the full moon. She also said that it's one of those things that everyone knows but no one talks about. Weird. But I believe it.

Here are my pretty pink tulips....they still look mostly yellow to me....but that's ok.

In my last post I mentioned we had our first co-rec softball games....a double header on Monday night. On Tuesday night we had our first women's game. It's Thursday now, and I'm starting to think I might be able to walk normally again by tomorrow. Can you say STIFF? Ugh. Old age isn't pretty.

But the nice thing about the warm days, this early spring and all the pretty flowers blooming is that when I am in the garden, stooped over and can't get up, I'll just pretend I'm down there to smell the flowers. All is good.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Dogs

Softball started for the old folks in our family last night. Eric and I are playing on the same Co-Rec softball team on Monday nights. I've been managing the team for a while, I don't particularly like managing, but if I manage the team they have to let me there. I decided (I can, I'm the manager) that we needed new shirts this year...which meant that I got to have some fun coming up with a design. Here it is....Big Dogs Softball.

This is what I thought it would look like on the shirt....except for the colors....I ordered shirts with blue sleeves and blue printing.

Well, the shirts came in time for our first game....and they turned out pretty much like I expected. That's a good thing. $15.00. Not bad for a logo on the front and a number on the back.

We started our season with a double header....twice as many sore muscles loss, one win, new shirts, no injuries. The summer is off to a good start! GO DOGS!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Twins Game # 2

Wednesday afternoon I got a text from my friend Jen...she asked "do you want to go to the Twins game tomorrow afternoon?" Forecast, 70 and sunny, day game, Twins....ummmm....yeah! We didn't have tickets, she said lets skip all those extra charges and get them off of Craigslist. Ummm....ok. Visions of bogus tickets danced in my head. She contacted about 15 people....decided to go with one guy that would deliver the tickets. OK...sounds good. Except he didn't want to deliver them to Waconia where she lived...but Eden Prairie would be ok. What's your address she asked. Visions of serial killers and getting robbed blind danced in my head. How about meeting at Caribou Coffee. Yes! Deal! Tickets under face value, they looked legit...Target Field here we come! We decided to take the Express bus...only $5.25 for a ride to the game. Except it was Earth Day...our ride was free...woohoo! We got there about an hour early. The plaza was already crowded!

My heart skipped a beat when the scanner didn't accept my ticket on the first swipe....2nd one was good though....whew....real tickets. :-) Before the game we met some of Jen's friends near the left field line. The players were warming up, chatting about the field, the weather, how the other guys mom wears army boots. Who knows. It was fun to take it all in.

This little guy was ready for the game to start. No idea who he is, but he sure was a cute little Twins fan.

We found our seats over by the first base line. The National Anthem was sung and then it was time to....PLAY BALL!

Cuddyer and Morneau...a couple of my favorites.

The Umps got ready, T.C. Bear got the crowd ready....

...the line up was announced....

...and it was time for the game! Twins vs. the Cleveland Indians....last game in the series.

T.C. pumped up the crowd, and shot free T-shirts from his air gun.

The Indians came out ready to play. Hits and walks and....the Twins were down by one run in the first inning. The Twins had a few hits here and there, but didn't have enough on this day. Here is Morneau as a base runner on first. I thought it was cool that both first basemen were #33. It's the little things.

The Twins sign looked cool in the daylight.

Wally the Beer Man was working in our section. He always has a smile on his face. Making people happy one beer at a time. Just kidding. It was fun to see the vending icon though!

Morneau hit a double...the 2nd baseman was making the tag before he had the ball. Oops.

Their base runner was tossed out at first...yeah Morneau. He's one of my favorites...did I mention that?

And then the game was done. Twins lost, 8-1. Can't win them all. And you can't complain about a day outdoors at the ballpark. It didn't hit the predicted 70 degrees, but that's ok.
The pitchers made the hike across the field to the dugout. It wasn't until I was looking at my photos that I noticed this! What the heck is it, a gorilla?

A year ago Eric and I were at a Twins game and noticed a baby blue and pink back pack. You can see it in this post. We found out later from our friend Tonya that the rookie pitchers have to carry an embarrassing backpack with sports drinks and snacks for the rest of the guys. Too funny.
It turns out the Thursday game was a popular one. We found out later that a couple of different sets of friends were at the game, and my nephew Isaac. I wish I had known! After the game we met up with Jen's friends and went out to grab a bit to eat. We returned to an empty I had to have my picture taken in the big mitt. I'm quite a catch...hahaha...sorry...couldn't resist. The trouble with going out after the game was that we didn't realize that the express bus only ran for an hour after the last inning. We got to the empty bus stop about an hour and a half later. Oops. It took some time, but we found a map and walked and walked to a bus stop to catch a bus back to the park and ride. We made it eventually, and the ride was still free with our ticket stub. Whew!

On our car ride back home we came across this bike racer dude. You know, the bike racers that like to take up most of the lane, even when there is a bike path next to the rode. Anyway, I couldn't help but think, why in the world would someone that is a fit athletic bike racer want to be sponsored by doughy white Wonder Bread?? Nice polka dots buddy!

Just another one of those unsolved mysteries involving men in lycra. In spite of the lycra, the Twins losing, and our missing our was a great day! Go Twins!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Out Front and a Curve Ball

I guess I've stepped away from my blog again. Sometimes life throws us a curve that and it's hard to think about other things, like blogging. More about that in a bit. Anyway, I'm back with a what's happening out front post. Lots of things are popping up. If you look closely, you'll see a little bit of blue peaking out from the left side of that big ugly stump.

Here's a closer look. Forget-me-nots. One of my favorites. This was taken later in the day when the sun was low. Love the rich blue.

You can also see a couple of tulips popping up. Yellow tulips. The package claimed they were a pastel pink. Yellow isn't bad, but what the heck? Eric picked the bulbs up for me in Amsterdam last fall...I don't think I'll be returning them. :-)

The cherry tree is blossoming. Or crab apple tree. Or whatever it is. The blossoms are pretty and smell so nice.

If I were a bird I'd build a nest there.

Here is my yellow tulip on a sunnier day. Yellow. Not pink.

The next few shots were taken in the front corner of my neighbors yard. I wonder if their red tulip was supposed to be a different color. I like it.

While we're looking at the tulips I'll tell you about that curve ball that has thrown us all for a little bit of the loop this last week. Last month, Billy tried out but didn't make the cut for the high school baseball team. It was quite a blow. He was more determined than ever to make the travel team for this summer, so he could have a better chance to make the High School team next year. He took some extra hitting lessons, worked on pitching a bit and went to the travel team evaluations feeling like things would turn out well.

They didn't. The same kids that made the High School team are the ones that will be playing on the travel team this summer. He was crushed. We were too. And while I do know that it's just baseball, it was a big dream of his to play travel again this year, to play High School ball, to even play in college if he could....but with one cut, it feels like his dreams are gone. Poof. It's tough to watch it happen to your child. Life's lessons, I know, but I sure wish he didn't have to learn them this way, at this age.

The hard part is knowing that he honestly should have made both teams. Through all the years of playing travel, he has always had one of the highest batting averages on his team. Through those same years he was on the top of the list of fewest errors made. Black and white stats. Facts. Nobody looked at those. Beyond the stats he is a kid that knows and loves the game. He might not have been an all star, but he hustles, he listens. He was out there because he was passionate about the game, not because he was pushed into it. But even with that he didn't make the cut.

How do you explain "why" to your child when you can't understand it yourself. How do you explain "why" when there are kids that had terrible stats and not the best of attitudes that make the team and your son didn't. How do you stop yourself from pointing out that, well, his dad and his dad and his dad are on the board of directors for the league? On that one you bite your tongue...I did, I have scars to prove it.
We asked the High School coach what he could have done differently...he suggested that Billy should have hit the weight room to bulk up. Excuse me, at the time he was 14 and had just grown 8.5" in the last two years, I don't think lifting weights would have been good for his body.
During evaluations for the High School team the coach asked the kids which positions they played, Billy said first base but didn't give a 2nd position because he thought that he could show his playing ability the best at first base. Turns out that first base is where they put the kids that pitch when they aren't pitching. It seems to me that the coach could have mentioned that to him. Bite tongue again. Billy has played pretty much everywhere, but first base was what he felt that was best at.

It's not about "sour grapes" that my kid didn't make the team. It's not really about baseball at all. It's about everyone being given a fair shot, it's about looking at the facts that are there instead of who's who, it's about politics being in places where they shouldn't be...but most of all it's about watching a really good kid have his dreams get squashed without a second thought. It's darned hard.

On a lighter note, I don't think I could be more proud of how he's handled it all. He's not giving up, he's keeping his chin up. He's planning on trying to get on the team next year. He's handled it with dignity and grace....I wonder where he learned all that, it sure wasn't from me!

Back to the flowers. Forget-me-nots. I think I better go out and smell those roses again....because even with curve balls every now and then, life is pretty darned good.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Twins at Target Field

The excitement has been building since opening day. The Twins new stadium, outdoor baseball is back in Minnesota. We couldn't wait to get to a game! Eric and I went to our first Twins game at Target Field on Friday night, April 16th. Be forewarned, this post has lots of pictures. Are you ready?

Here's a picture of a billboard taken on the way to the game.

We parked in Ramp A, right next to the field. $13.00...ouch....but the convenience of being so close to the field and exiting right onto 394 made it worth it.

It was 63 degrees at the start of the 7:10 game. 53 degrees by the end of the game at 10:15. It was a little chilly, but who cares?? Here is a view of the stadium from the parking ramp.

We got our tickets from our friend Tonya. She works for the Twins and has season tickets in section 220. She also has a blog about this first year in Target Field. I did the header for her a couple of weeks's at if you want to check it out. Our seats were great. The first thing I noticed was the cool retro Twins sign.

We got there a little early to take it all in. The grounds crew is top notch.
Adding a Twins logo to the pitchers mound. The grass was so green, it didn't seem real. Were we really outside getting ready to watch a baseball game?
Then this wrapper flew past us in the breeze....yep....we were really outside.

There was a bit of a breeze, the flags above left field were blowing. Pennant flags for the pennant years, I like it.

The shiny new Twins sign under a big bank of lights in center field.

A couple of fans that were pretty giddy about being at the game. :-)

The Twins were playing Kansas City. Here are some of their players stretching out below us.

The Twins were stretching over by first base. Tonya's seats are in the front part of the 2nd deck, between 3rd and home, about even with the pitcher's mound. Great view.

We had to try out some of the stadium food. BBQ's and kettle chips. We got the food about the time we had to stand for the National Anthem....poor timing. We stood for that, then sat to try and eat only to stand again and again for late comers taking their seats. Lesson learned. The food was good though!

There was only a short time were the sun was a problem for seeing the reflected off of the old IDS building into our eyes for about 15 minutes. They shouldn't have washed their windows!

What's a little glare when Baker is on the mound for the Twins. Did I mention that they are playing outside?

Kansas City must have had an off day on April 15th...Jackie Robinson Day...because they were all wearing their Jackie Robinson number 42 jerseys when they played the Twins. Hey, it's number 42 at bat. Again and again.

The stands were full for the one seemed to mind the cool evening air.

We could look into the Twins dugouts from our seats. Some players were standing, some were sitting on the bench, some were on top of the bench...just like a bunch of kids. I like it.

Game is Joe Mauer at the plate....

The pitch, the swing....

Foul ball.

K.C. # 42 trying to steal 2nd base....

The throw, the catch, the slide.......

The missed tag. Safe! Oops.

K.C. # 42 trying to score from third. The throw, Mauer's got it....

...the slide....
the tag....

.... he's out!

The game was awesome. The views were awesome. Here is the Mpls. skyline as seen from our seats.

Here it is 20 minutes later after the sun went down.

These were taken at about 5 minute intervals. Loved the colors.

The grounds crew was hard at work half way through the game. There is a reason the field is as beautiful as it is.

Eventually Tonya came by to see if we were enjoying our evening.

Yes we were...thank you very much!

She took our picture...that was sweet.

Then the big dude sitting next to me offered to take our picture. It just goes to show that even with everything set on camera isn't idiot proof.

Kansas City had some troubles. They met at the mound to talk things over. I couldn't help but think that what they were saying went something like this....

Larry: Excuse me, but what the heck's going on out here?
Crash: Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. We need a live... is it a live rooster?
[Jose nods]
Crash: We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present.
[to the players]
Crash: Is that about right?
[the players nod]
Crash: We're dealing with a lot of s#@&.
Larry: Okay, well, uh... candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let's get two! Go get 'em.

Name that movie.
The movie is Bull Durham
The bull pen at the new stadium is way out in center field. They know that it's time to change pitchers when too many balls come over the fence into the bull pen.

I didn't realize that the Twins sign lit up with colored lights at night.

I also didn't realize that it did was cool.

As the night wore on and the Twins lead grew....the crowds thinned out and we were able to put our feet up.

And sneak up a row to take each others pictures. Me.


Twins win 10-3...and then there were fireworks.

Jsut a few.

Outdoor baseball in Minnesota, it's something to celebrate.

The season the Twins are having is too.

Congratulations's looking like a great season ahead.