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I Dig Dugout Drama

May 31, 2015

I’ve said it before: I really appreciate Wes Young’s beautiful baseball photography. It is giving a richness to the photo documentation of Peter’s high school baseball experience. I am generally pretty occupied with scorekeeping during the games, so not able to run around with a camera, for one thing. For another, my iPhone doesn’t have the range, nor sophistication to zoom in for these marvelously candid shots; Peter wouldn’t feel comfortable with my intrusion into his personal space anyway (though it’s quite okay by him if someone else captures these moments). But most especially, I don’t have the eye that Wes does. His sense of drama, his composition, his understanding of the game, and his willingness and patience to seek out these shots, and polish them up in post production, is in a class all its own.

I’m just glad he passes these along and is okay with my including them in my blog. They will forever be a part of Peter’s and our baseball memory.  For which I’m deeply grateful.

Here are a few from recent weeks.

This first one was taken at Sac City on May 14, during DHS’s final game of the playoff season. This is a game they lost, which ended not only the season, but also signified the end of a lot of baseball careers. It would be the last game Dan Ariola would coach his eleven graduating seniors… which may account for that look on his face. (Either that, or he’s dumbfounded by some painful, costly error made by a Blue Devil…) (And if that’s the case, at least the guys sitting next to him on the bench aren’t responsible.)

Pictured are Mason, someone I can’t make out, Brendon, Ray, Peter and Coach Ariola.

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These next two were taken yesterday in Fairfield… a more lighthearted moment (first games of the season are like that). I’m going to guess a high, pop-up foul that didn’t get caught…

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My smily guy.

Shooting Saturday

May 30, 2015

Justa buncha shots from a pleasant Saturday:

Standing under the canopy of the giant Oak in Central Park, waiting for Carrie–our plan was to walk and have breakfast–watching people at Farmer’s Market dance and play music and eat stuff. Over at that display table: folks from the City are showing the latest design concepts for the former Oak tree deck area. One day, this will be more of a plaza with increased seating, a more formal stage and low rocks for climbing/sitting on. There will, however, be no seating adjacent to the tree; the city arborist is calling for about a 12′ buffer zone around the tree, enclosed with a decorative fence, to keep people from getting too close and endangering this heritage oak.

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A walk down by the creek in the Arboretum…  this looks more like we’re on the bayou… a lot of the green in this photo is actually the water in Putah Creek–very pond-scummy today. The trees are hanging low and it’s hard to distinguish water from leaves. Plus it was a bit muggy this morning…so yeah, bayouish:

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Further down the creek, we ran across the horse-drawn-wagon club (I couldn’t quite make out the banner on their wagon), learning how to negotiate train tracks in their horse drawn wagon. Really. The things people train for…

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Some aMAZEing artwork (maybe you’re tired of my not so punny words lately?). This is part of a small public art project to use some of the City’s utility boxes as artists’ canvases… this one at the corner of B and 5th:

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Late this afternoon, drove down to Laurel Creek Park in Fairfield for a 7:00pm American Legion game.

You get off on North Texas and you’re immediately blown away by some gorgeous hills. Even the gas station is in a surreally beautiful setting:

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Before the game started, we made our usual run to the closest Starbucks. Saw this and thought it was a funny juxtaposition:

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Get it? McDonald’s is now hiring… a dead end if there ever was one. Ha.

Yarborough Field is immaculately maintained and nestles in the hills. It was warm with gentle breezes. Hard to imagine a nicer place to be:

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Peter got to open for the team’s first game of the summer season. This is not Peter’s primary team this summer, but it was a nice opportunity to get some innings in before the varsity team’s season officially opens next week. A handful of the varsity squad was there. I thought he pitched pretty well. So nice to see him throw. Made the evening even more heavenly.

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He did three innings, Ray did three, and Tyler G closed. They all did well and got the win, 6-4. Peter said it was this team’s first win in fourteen visits to that park. The jinx is off.

Appleplectic

May 29, 2015

I’m excited because I finally have a blog post for which I can use this title.

Here’s what happened:

Peter’s iPhone’s been out of commission for about five or six weeks. Let’s just say something really bad happened to it. This bad thing made for a hilarious story if you’re Peter, or one of Peter’s friends, and a useful story if you’re Peter’s parents (you have to appreciate stories that provide good teaching moments). But, it’s a story I am not allowed to tell. If I did–and here’s where I finally get to show off my new word–Peter would get Appleplectic.**

And actually, for the first month or so, he could use his phone, but just had a hard time seeing it. But then things went from bad to worse because a couple weeks ago, he dropped it. Which further shattered the screen, and then it looked like this:

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And was completely unusable.

Incidentally, that crater-like hole on the top, has a matching golfball-sized bulge on the bottom. Miraculously, the impact of the mystery object that caused this trauma did damage only to the phone’s battery, not to any of its components.

You could also say we were a bit Appleplectic when we saw his phone in this state–his new iPhone 6 that he’d badgered us for months to get. Especially considering the bone-headed way he destroyed it in the first place…

Nevermind.

But, really, look at this:

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I don’t think our annoyance is unreasonable. We certainly aren’t being cellfish!

I wanted to say, “Dude, I know that in the youniverse you live in, this is not a big deal… but for us, around whom the world does NOT revolve, it’s real property, real money, real time and real inconvenient to have to deal with this.”

But that would just make for a classic teenage nonversation.

“Here’s a great idea!” I wanted to say. “YOU created this situation, YOU can buy your own replacement phone!”

That turned out to be an epiphanot.

Not having a working phone has created more than a few hassles and inconveniences for Peter in the past few weeks.  His friends have continued to send messages to him on his phone, and had every textpectation he’d respond, but he could not. He missed social things, online game things, Snapchatty things… It’s like, today, if you remove a kid’s lifeline to his friends, his life comes to a screeching halt. He’s alone, at home, lazily, if cozily lounging away on the couch, just him and the Internest, except he has no phone, so…  so….

Hmmm… I was going somewhere with that…. guess I got hit with a bit of destinesia.

(I certainly wasn’t going to try and use the word masturdate in a sentence.)

Anyway.

Here’s the good news. Jim decided to try and fix the phone himself. He ordered the parts and then consulted the YouTuberverse and a few hours later, it was fixed and its operating system upgraded. Now Siri doesn’t work for Peter, but, all things considered, that’s not a big deal. When Peter got home from school and got the news that his phone was functional again, he was so excited he screamed “YESSSSSS!!!”, grabbed me into some sort of teen version of a bear hug, lifted me up, and, I think, in his exuberance, may have cracked one of my ribs. I am not kidding. I didn’t want him to feel too bad about that, so I only privately grimaced. He did run to get some ice.

Again: appleplectic, this time in the joy sense of the wold.

I had a few more of these words… but this post would have gotten even worse if I’d tried to incorporate them. Here they are in case you also love dumb humor: Askhole (someone who asks inane questions); carcolepsy (falling asleep while driving); ambitchous (going after what you want in a mean way); unlightening (something that is, you know, not enlightening, or a bad thing you have to unlearn); upbrella (the open state of an umbrella…this one I made up… Jim thought its companion, downbrella, was a stretch).

You’re welcome.

** I totally made up this word, but if you Google appleplectic, you’ll find I’m not the first one. Still, I take full credit. The other ones I borrowed.

If you live with a surveyor and mapper, as I do, you might get a to-scale drawing should you need one, as I did.

I didn’t even ask; he read about it on my blog (funny, huh?), and this afternoon, I saw this was happening:

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Which became this. It’s a little hard to see the drawing details in this picture, but trust me, the backyard lawn area and proposed raised bed are definitely to scale:

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Just for me:

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So, soon, this lovely lawn will become a raised vegetable planter:

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Raised Bed Confab

May 27, 2015

Took the first real step today in making this raised bed thing a reality. Meaning, three professionals in their fields–Frances, Derek and Ruben–joined me in the backyard for a nearly two hour meeting to discuss 1) removing our lawn, and 2) building a raised bed for gardening.

Who knew such a thing could get so complicated?

You may be surprised to learn there are a few different ways to take out a lawn, and maybe not so surprised to learn there are about seventeen thousand gazillion ways to design and build a raised bed. Good lord.

And in both cases, there is an environmentally thoughtful way to do it and a less environmentally thoughtful way. Plus, there are efficiencies to be considered and inefficiencies to avoid that you never dreamed of (if you’re me). Given the team here, we ended up in a pretty good place: mostly environmentally thoughtful and reasonably efficient. But on the way there, we had to gently maneuver around a few egos and things got a little prickly.

Here is my loosely drawn summary of where we perhaps ended up on the maybe design. Roughly. We spent a lot of time with flags and rope before we arrived at what seemed like a workable design.

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(Because, really, it’s just a raised bed on what was once a lawn.)

Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’ll be one (vs more than one) large bed.
  • It’ll have straight edges (vs anything round, because my psyche can’t deal with round corners).
  • The walls will be composed of charming, irregular, multi-colored, stone-like blocks, with dug-out footings, bound together with some mortar. You can sit on it. It will be nice to look at. 
  • There will be a teeny plaza between it and the house. I may place a colorful urn or two on this little plaza space, next to the bed, and fill it with flowers.
  • There will be perimeter paths comprising large stepping stones embedded in DG. The paths will have a medium-sized rock border on the outer edge.
  • Since we opted out of multiple smaller beds, and, in the end rejected the keyhole design, there will be strategically placed stepping stones inside the bed so we can easily access all the plants.
  • We’re using a sod cutter to remove the lawn’s upper layer, and we’re going to sheet mulch under the bed to prevent bermuda grass from getting a foothold. We’ll be laying a new layer of dirt around the bed and under the paths.  
  • And then, obviously, the interior will be filled with seasonal vegetables. Maybe some other stuff.  

I’m hoping Jim will agree to draw us a real plan to scale, and Peter will calculate the area of the bed for us.

Singapore to Sac

May 26, 2015

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Lorilyn is back.

We dined outside and caught up.

It is a dry heat. 

Illumination Matters

May 25, 2015

I’ve had far more entertaining afternoons, but rarely ones more illuminating.

Sat in the park and read a little bit of this…  even a little was a lot.

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Jim and I have both been more than happy to stick our fingers in our ears and hum lalalalalalalalala when faced with the daunting college application and admission process. For sure, until now, it’s been way too soon to start worrying about any of it. We keep saying, thank goodness we’re not there yet!  

But.. now, we’re there.

Peter’s been dabbling in ideas about college for years but, until now, we’ve just listened and not engaged in his [many] fantasies. In our travels and on a couple of random road trips, we’ve walked the campuses of Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and listened to his imagination wander. He thinks big. Way big. Too big. But it didn’t matter. All ideas were fine, even the most grandiose, because it just wasn’t time to narrow anything down. I always figure it’s good for him to imagine himself going to these kinds of schools… even as we know the prospect of actually getting in to any of these is remote (by definition). Understanding the universe and range of possibilities is a good thing… context, perspective. I figure it’s a useful carrot.. way out there… keeps things real for him, reminds him what high school and classes and tests are (or can be) all about. The choice has always been his; he gets to decide if he wants to study that hard to get the grades necessary for those schools. He has to deal with the gap between wanting things and the willingness to work for them… a gap I think he’s coming to understand. He knows who gets those grades and I think he knows how they get them. I think he knows where his line of willingness is, though I also think he suffers a bit from a few academic delusions. Well, we’ll see. He’s a smart kid and will figure it out.

Anyway.

We’ve also walked the campuses of UC San Diego, San Francisco State and, of course, UC Davis.  So he understands education for the plebeians, too (kidding, of course). And there will be plenty more before this process is over.

(I never went on a college tour…  and did just fine with my choices.)

The good thing is, that in all his planning for his future (premature as it is), we’ve never had to say that he is better suited for one school or another, or that this or that one is out of reach, or that he’s meeting his objectives or not, studying enough or not, on the right path or not. Just like they said would happen, his peers are taking care of most of that. We listen, we are encouraging (“you can do anything you want to do”) but he’s got his own ideas about where he wants to go. But also, more and more, his parameters are falling into place based on what his friends are talking about and what his interests, grades and test scores dictate. His choices are becoming more Peter-appropriate.

I think he still thinks great schools are within reach. And maybe some are. To be seen.

But, reading Admission Matters, here’s what I learned about “the best” schools….

Elite does not define greatness. I learned that there is a substantial artificiality about the rankings of schools, and that the rankings have lead to a sense of inflated desirability. The schools that are US News’ top ranked schools are among the best and most prestigious schools, but this whole ranking game has created its own monster. One student says, “… no school can ever be as good as most people think they are.” Professionals in the admissions world are saying the system for ranking schools is dubious and flawed; the president of Stanford said, “… much about these rankings — particularly their specious formulas and spurious precision — is utterly misleading.”  About a hundred schools fall into the category of selective (further divided into ultra, super, highly and very selective), and these are, in fact, very hard to get into.  What’s happening is applicants think they have to narrow their universe to the top 100 schools, which increases the applicant pool for these schools and lowers the admission rate. Which makes them more selective… and prestigious. And more people apply thinking they’ll get the best eductation there.

But there are thousands of other schools that are totally great and in many cases better fits for the kid. You just have to get prestige out of your head. This will be a lot harder for Peter to do than for us.

There is so so much more to this. There’s 4-yr versus community college, there’s taking a gap year, there’s the financing. Never mind the test taking, essay writing, application..

Admission Matters seems like it’s going to be a good resource. At nearly 400 pages, I hope so. It does a great job of describing the differences between the process us boomers went through, versus the process the kids of us boomers are going through (echo boomers). She says about us, forty and fifty years ago: “For the most part, the whole process was fairly low key. If students did their homework carefully before deciding where to apply, the outcome was usually predictable.” Now, it’s a national obsession.

Fascinating. And more than a bummer.

Lots of choices, lots of process ahead.