My Love Affair with Baseball…

When I was in the fifth grade my teacher, Louie Poluzzi, loved the N.Y. Giants. On game day he would go into the office and rewire the intercom to broadcast the game over our loud-speaker. I always looked forward to game days as we seldom did any work and we had an excuse to cheer and jump around which made the day go by so much faster. I never followed the players, their stats, etc. and even to this day about 60 years later, I still don’t. But, I love the games. I love watching the pitchers change from a fast ball to a change-up and then all of a sudden throw in a slider or a curve ball and watch the batter swing off his feet only to swish air. Because I was born in San Diego I listened to Padre games and occasionally went to a game. When I moved to Hawaii after high school there were no major league teams, no minor league teams, but there was a triple A team called the Hawaiian Islanders. I lived in the neighborhood so went to a lot of the games. They were held in the “Termite Palace”. I’ve never learned its real name but I certainly understood where the name came from! It’s warm in Honolulu. Termites love the weather and swarms of them hovered over the field like so many little ‘copters waiting for the seats to empty so they could get back to work eating what was left of the poor stadium. But, the games were such fun. Hawai’i loves its sports.

Years later I moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i and discovered that the entire island was in love with the San Francisco Giants. All the games were broadcast on the radio and when the internet was born one could follow the games on comcast. I gradually became addicted to the games and would hook up my computer at work to earphones so I could occasionally catch an inning or two between patients. It was all I could do to keep from cheering aloud at a good hit, home run or a pitch that caught an opponent off guard.

I was lucky enough to have two boys. I don’t think they loved baseball as much as their Mom did but they did enjoy playing in Little League. My work schedule was perfect as I could take them to practices on my two short days during the week and go to the games on the weekend. Toward the middle of the season we had “The Tournaments”– 17 of them in a row, week after week, and I was in heaven. I’m pretty sure I was the only parent that looked forward to the games every weekend. My boys were never the stars of their teams, but I think they enjoyed playing. However, times change and they were on to other sports…soccer, aikido. I still had my Giants.

Then, years later, the boys gone to college, I was able to cheer again when Winter Ball teams formed throughout the islands. We had a nice stadium in Hilo and though the crowds were never huge, we were large enough to generate noise. I was probably the most enthusiastic. One evening as I stood yelling and cheering a man game up and asked if I would like to play in an on-field contest during the seventh inning stretch so, of course, I said sure. In my shorts and sandals I went on to the field and was given a little minnow net and told to try to catch three balls as someone tossed each from the top of the stands. The first one was lobbed rather gently and I had no problem catching it, so the next one was made a little more difficult. Thrown a lot harder, I had to run to the side but managed to net the second ball as well. By this time I had the people in the stands cheering me on. The last ball was thrown way up, way back and I had to back-peddle as fast as possible. Just as I reached the area of the ball my sandals caught on the grass and I went down, heels over my head, but my eyes still on the ball and, lo and behold, caught the third ball in my little net. I felt like a major league outfielder warding off a winning home run! No game, no points, but I did win $75 in gift certificates and had memories to last a lifetime. And, I had a ball signed by Ichiro Suzuki who was playing on a Japanese Winter Ball Team.

When I moved to Maui there was no baseball broadcast. No one cheered for the Giants. No longer any Winter Ball. I have withdrawals between Oct. and April. However today was opening night of baseball. I have discovered that ESPN broadcasts games, not necessarily the Giants, but today I was able to watch the Padres beat the LA Dodgers and that was almost as much fun. I don’t recognize many of the names. The teams change every season so it’s hard to hold on to names and numbers and for me it has always just been about the game.

Every beginning, an end…Every ending, a beginning

My three-year relationship has come to an end. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around why but I’m looking for that window to open now that the door has closed. So, I’ve penned a few of my thoughts. Odd that I usually write in a prose style, but for this I chose to rhyme.

When unplanned and unexpected
Great love fades from sight
The world becomes just memories
Of all the days and nights

I could, before, reach out
For loving arms opened wide
Now, there’s only chasms
You, and me on the other side

No longer a voice singing with joy
My words are tempered with rife
For now, contentment has passed
Leaving a space in my life

Alone again, yet hopeful
I throw caution to the wind
Forging a new life’s adventure
Faith that the future will mend

A heart once broken by pain
Grows back big and strong
So, I go forward on my new path
Hoping to write a new song

God is always within me
Forever guiding the way
I will no longer fear tomorrow
Beginning with today

Gone, But Never Forgotten

In 1974 I got a phone call that shattered my world…”Hello, is this Tina’s sister?” “yes”. “Well, she’s been in an accident, I think she’s dead.” Then, the silence of a phone caller hanging up.

I will never forget that day or the feeling of panic in my soul.

My sister was special. I know everyone thinks their siblings are special, but she was way above and beyond the normal special. She was exuberant about life. When I was ten and she was seven we got our first horse. I was the horse crazy kid but Tina climbed aboard as if born to ride. The horse bucked me off every day. She knew how to talk to horses and was never airborne. I just didn’t know the language as she did. Her amazing talent blossomed and she became a champion competitor in our area, after a few years was competing at the state level where she became a champion. When at age 18 and 15 we moved to Hawaii she continued her winning ways with the horse we shipped over along with eleven big “Beacon” shipping boxes of trophies that my Mom and Dad were reluctant to part with.

Along the way, she moved to Maui and began training horses for the Haku Baldwin Ranch. She loved her job. And, she took up the sport of hang-gliding. She chose the color of her kite to match the colors of Maui…blue for the sky, purple for the proliferation of Jacaranda trees and the green of the leaves. She became adept at this sport as she was in anything she tried–tennis, surfing, riding.

What happened that day I’ll never know nor do I think I ever want to know the details. Maybe it was a rogue wind, maybe a failure of equipment or maybe just really bad luck. But, I lost her.

A few months later, I moved to the big island of Hawai’i. Now, after 38 years, I am back on Maui and I see my sister everywhere. When I drive to hula I pass the Haku Baldwin Training Center. Jacaranda trees are everywhere–purple and green against the blue sky. I went picnicking to Polipoli Park on the high side of Haleakala and passed the flight initiation platform for the hang-gliding enthusiasts and where we scattered my sister’s ashes. I see her in the horses that live down the street. It has been 39 years since her passing and it still feels like yesterday. I know that time heals and the wounds of my loss have scarred over, but time hasn’t diminished the feelings of love, pride, and the joy of sharing my life with her.

The Lost and Found of Pleasantries

Because I spend a lot of time sewing, I’m in the fabric stores a lot. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two of them. This morning, for example, (and this is not the first time), when I walked through the door, both employees were sitting at a table chatting and didn’t even bother to acknowledge my entrance let alone ask me if could use any help. So, I scout out the store looking for a particular fabric that I need to complete an order that has a time deadline. Deadlines are particularly onerous as I live on an island and I always have to tack on a couple of extra days for a package to arrive in the mid-west or eastern part of the US and one extra day to California or the west coast. However, buyers seldom think about that and will purchase a hula skirt and then ask to have it arrive in three days to Kansas. So, though not in a bad mood (it takes much more than that), I felt slighted by the staff and therefore a little miffed. I just happen to think that if you are in the business of selling anything, your first concern is the customer. It wasn’t like the place was busy. When in the store I’m usually the only one there. I think I can hazard a guess as to why. When I found the fabric I was looking for, I took it to the table to be cut. Again, I wasn’t greeted or even offered a smile. My fabric was cut and I was sent to the register where I had to wait several minutes for the sales clerk to figure out how to work the new digital cash register. I’ve been coming in a few times a week for a month and at my first visit she was learning the ins and outs of her new machine. However, a month later, she still is unable to use it without asking for help. And, the help was chatting on her phone about personal things while I waited for her to finally help the hapless cashier. I’ve decided that as of today unless I have a 25% discount off of a fabric that I can’t live without, I will not be frequenting their store again.

Then, still feeling a little put out, I had to drive over the other fabric store for a certain fabric that I knew they had. I was greeted when I walk in, “aloha, how are you today?”. Smiles all around. “How can we help you?” The store had several customers. The staff was attentive without hovering. They cut my fabric, asked if I needed a bag, folded the cloth neatly for my bag. They commented on how nice it was to see me so often, thanked me for my patronage. I like this store and I will be coming back again and again.

Courtesy, good manners and pleasant conversation are not completely lost in this day of cell phones, iPads, texting and social media where a face to face conversation with eye contact is an oddity. My own business is an on-line shop so I seldom see what people look like other than their logo. But, I treat my customers with the utmost courtesy. I still believe that there is nothing better than good customer service. I establish a good working relationship with my buyers as I do a lot of custom work. We enjoy each others “company”. I guess the aloha spirit hasn’t quite made its mark on some, while others embrace it.