The Crack of the Bat

As the wind chill makes it feel like the 20s and below, it’s the glow of sunshine that reminds me of a sign of spring: pitchers Clearwater3and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida. The 2013 season rises anew with hopes of good health and lots of ‘Ws’ to cheer about.

Baseball is a fickle game; success comes down to the health of your best pitcher or slugger. Every team balances that hope against the odds. During the Phillies best year in decades, 2008, I went to spring training on vacation; my son got to be bat boy for a day; I got to announce the pre-game show and line up on Mother’s Day and then the amazing season that followed happened mainly because – nearly every key player was healthy. It was a dream come true. Boys and girls, including my Clearwater_20080325_47son,  grew up knowing the Phillies only as winners. It seems the struggles began after the last of the confetti was cleaned up from the World Series parade in 2008.

This year, the roster includes the key – but aging- players we’ve come to depend on: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. Already, we know Chooch is out for 25 games for the Adderall suspension. That leaves the team depending on Eric Kratz.

We know there are questions surrounding the health of Howard, Utley and Roy Halladay’s shoulder – not to mention Michael Stutes and his shoulder. While the warmth of Clearwater can be therapeutic, all that can be a waste when it comes to playing baseball in  Philadelphia in April.

Almost like a marriage, I am a Phillies fan in good times and bad. Just like a marriage, you enjoy the game more when things are going your way – but it’s a joy to see the boys of summer back in action. Spring is coming here in the cold north – but summer begins today in Clearwater. Go Phils!

The Finale

Not wasting a minute of our final day here in Moultonborough, we quickly planned a day on the lake. After a quick breakfast, the serene water pulled me in. Doug and I went for an awesome canoe trip to the point where we are and around the bend and one island. There were birds, bugs, rocks, a gentle breeze, warming sun, the occasional barking dog and such peace that it should be bottled and patented. If more people could experience serenity like this, there would be no toxic arguments – or at least there’d be fewer arguments.

After the ride back at the house, we tried to encourage Andrew & Adam to come with us on our last adventure on the lake for this vacation. I’d packed lunch for us all – but the boys decided they’d rather stay at the house and head out in the canoe a bit later. Believe it or not – they actually did take a canoe ride and eat lunch.

Doug and I first got some gas, then headed to a section of the lake we had not been to before. We went to the town of Glendale which included a marina, the N.H. Marine Patrol and “Snuffer” the fire rescue boat and the Lyons Den Restaurant which is supposed to be quite good. People were waiting for the place to open as we got there before noon. After a walk on shore and on the dock, we motored out, noticing all the beautiful houses – some large – some small – but all waterfront and just delightful. We headed to the shore of Ellacoya State Park. The shore was also dotted with homes; there were swimmers and boaters, but it just wasn’t quite right for what we were looking for. We continued along the lake passing Welch Island, then Sleepers Island – that actually has an old castle on it which is now someone’s home. Across from Sleepers Island was a cove where about a dozen boats were anchored in an area that had a great sandy bottom , with water shallow enough to just float around and enjoy the sun and the glorious day. We had lunch, lounged around in and out of the water; had a catch and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s also fun watching other people enjoy their family, friends and their boats.

After a couple of hours, it was time to move on. We pulled up anchor and headed around Treasure Island and back toward Rattlesnake Island. We made our way across The Broads and back toward Long Island. We were back at the house around 2:45. Unfortunately, it was time to starting the trip home by taking the boat out of the water. For the first time all week, I had mom-son time. Adam drove the boat the five-minute ride from the house to the public ramp at Long Island. It’s always easier to talk with your son with no other interruptions. That was the highlight of my day – that five-minute ride.

Adam expertly guided the boat onto the trailer with Doug acting like he was directing and airplane on the tarmac. (Quite amusing) Dinner took us to Tamarack near Weirs Beach. Doug had a craving for a lobster roll – certainly something you can’t get at home. I stuck with a salad and clam chowder (or chowdah as they say up here). I asked for lobster on the salad. I ended up with more lobster on my salad than Doug had on his lobster roll. The guys also chowed down with fried shrimp for Adam and a lobster roll for Andrew. It’s interesting to note that I have never stood in line for take-out food and faced a $73 tab. All that lobster is not cheap! But oh, is it ever good.

Now, it’s time to pack up our things along with our great memories of this wonderful place. My heart is here – I find true happiness here – I love this place – the loon will welcome us back as they always do.

Melancholy, Baby

We love vacation so much because we get to be somewhere out of our element; experience things we don’t see or do at home and enjoy the company of people we care about. In all the places I’ve been in my years, there is no other place that makes me feel so happy and fulfilled. New Hampshire has become more than a vacation destination – it feels like home.

This morning, the two of us enjoyed some breakfast then took the boat out for a spin on the lake. We had no particular destination in mind, we just wanted to glide on the clear, flat water feeling the warm sun and enjoying just being here. We ended up at Bear Island where you can see what’s happening on the lake via a web cam that is live inside the house right there on the point of the island. Check it out here. I texted my brother who is back at work that we were in front of the camera – and he saw us on the boat. Very cool.

We motored over to Greg and Theresa’s house to say, “good morning” and see them and the kids which was a treat. They paddled around in the water outside their house. The morning sun was getting much warmer. We saw a very small turtle sunning himself on a rock. We gave the Breskins a lift over to cousin Barry’s house so they could pick up their shared boat for a morning spin around the lake and take the kids tubing again. We headed back to our house for some lunch.

Adam and Andrew decided THIS was the day they were going to sleep – forever. When we returned at 11:30 a.m. – they were still fast asleep. The two of them wanted to go experience Monkey Trunks, a climbing, zip-line, rope adventure located next to Fun Spot at Weirs Beach. We headed there and dropped them off so they could tire themselves out some more.

That led me to my 2 p.m. followup doctor appointment. Not a lot of news there; just confirmation that I am healing and I could consider cutting back my mondo doses of antibiotics. Enough said there.

By the time we went back to pick up the guys at Fun Spot, they were finished on Monkey Trunks and spent more time playing games at the arcade. Driving back, I just couldn’t face the refrigerator of leftovers, so we decided to eat at The Village Kitchen. Funny, all the years we’ve passed the restaurant, I thought it was called “Country Cookin’. Those letters are larger on the sign than the name “Village Kitchen.” Anyway, we found what is probably New Hampshire’s version of a local diner. It seemed there were a lot of local folks there. The food was OK; the service very nice and the total bill for four people – $49. No complaints.

The highlight of the day happened as we came home offering Andrew a boat-driving lesson. He excelled – and enjoyed. A few rain showers that passed through left a rainbow; the lake turned a beautiful shade of pink with a purple and gray sky. If only this could be home.

 

 

The Scene of the Crime–All is Not Lost

The P.S. to the “I Scream for Ice Cream” post came minutes after I had posted the missive. I shut down the computer and grabbed some things to take downstairs to my bedroom. The stairs were dark; the light switch was to my left, but it never occurred to me to turn it on. I had descended these stairs many times. They are wooden, steep and narrow with a right turn that includes three steps. However, I stepped on just one of those three steps and took a tumble to my left. My faced smashed into some boating equipment stowed in the corner; my left leg twisted and I guess I used my left hand to try to block the fall. Doug, Adam, Steve & sue along with my dad came rushing to the stairs. Doug saw the blood and was a little scared. I was probably in shock. Long story short. I’m banged up, but went to a doctor and I’ll heal quickly – I hope.I think we should put a chalk outline of me sprawled out at the bottom of the steps.

Andrew arrives -with a surprise --no hair!

Friday included picking up Adam’s friend, Andrew at the Manchester airport. Adam was shocked when he saw that Andrew had shaved his head. He couldn’t believe Doug and I had NOT told him about Andrew’s hair. The look on Adam’s face was worth holding back. We got back to the house mid-afternoon. It was the last day and night with my family, so dinner was an event. We made chicken kabobs and then decided to take a boat ride to Meredith to The Town Docks for ice cream. I had a delicious cone of chocolate peanut butter yogurt. Mom, Sue, Steve, Adam and Doug along with Andrew also enjoyed their choices.It was nearly dark when we headed back in the light of a full moon. We watched the end of the Phillies game on my computer. I turned in – I was exhausted from the physical damage to myself and the long day.

I Scream for Ice Cream

Jolly Island on Lake Winnepesaukee

There’s a hint of autumn creeping into the New Hampshire air. The nights are cool since showers passed through in the past few days. Sunshine and those amazing clouds filled the sky throughout the day. A brisk wind made it a good sailing day; it was about as choppy as it gets on Lake Winnipesaukee. We boated from the house in Moultonborough to just below Weir’s Beach where Doug found gas for 40-cents a gallon cheaper than the marina about a mile by boat from the house.

Let’s not forget the big event of the day. Adam is back with us after his summer as an archery counselor at Camp Robin Hood. About 9:20 this morning Adam texted Doug asking, “When are you going to pick me up?” Funny thing is, he never let us know when he’d be finished working on the last day of  camp. We picked him up around 11. He made his sad good byes to his friends at camp and was quiet in the car for about 10 miles. Then, he opened up about some of his camp activities including when the police questioned two car loads of counselors because they were hanging out in a parking lot figuring out where to eat dinner one night when they had off. All went well, though – no one got in any trouble. Adam’s looking forward to getting his pay check since he spent all of his spending money.

After a terrific family dinner with all of us at the table (steak, corn & salad), Doug, Steve, Sue, Adam and I went to play mini-golf, then had ice cream at Kellerhaus at Weir’s Beach. The place has been around forever. It’s a combination gift shop and ice cream buffet. We ordered our sundaes and “dressed” them at the sundae bar. Yum!

The moon is nearly full; the stars are bright – I’m still looking for that shooting star during this wonderful vacation.

Return to the Lake

The thing about vacation is the journey getting there. Why does it seem that it takes forever to get to your destination? Looking back on the past 48 hours, I’m so happy to be back at Lake Winnepesaukee, but now I’d like the clock to just slow down.

The Moultonborough house here in New Hampshire is just the same as I remember. It’s nothing fancy, but offers spectacular views of our little piece of the lake and plenty of places for six adults to have whatever personal moments they’d like. Doug successfully launched the boat at Long Island for the short ride to the dock at the house. We were so incredibly happy to be getting her Saturday, that we forgot to eat lunch. Steve & Sue (brother & sister-in-law), my parents and us towing the boat were in our separate vehicles. We met at the BJ’s in Tilton, shopped there and at the Shaw’s supermarket next door, then made our way to the rental office in Centre Harbor. Doug, mom & dad headed to launch the boat while Steve, Sue and I went to the state store in Centre Harbor and picked up a few extra things at the Heath’s grocery to kill time before we could get the house key.

The next hours were about unpacking, checking out the house, getting dinner ready and most important, saying “hello” to the lake once more. After a spaghetti dinner with grilled sausage and salad. We toasted day one in the house, then Doug took us for a boat ride around Long Island. We admired the waterfront homes, watched the sky change as the sun started dipping to the west and even saw our first pair of loon of the week. Dusk led to a night of rain showers, but the peaceful night with the drumming of rain on the rocks and landscape led to a wonderful Sunday morning pancake breakfast (thanks, Doug!) and fruit. Why does everything taste better on vacation???

We’re having a lazy Sunday and may go visit Adam at Camp Robin Hood. May the clock tick ever-so-slowly.

The Loon are Calling

View from the Moultonborough vacation house

 

It has been a long while since I’ve posted a blog. And that’s really a good thing. My business is going well; my family life has been full and busy and I’ve been around friends more often in work and play. I suppose the major delay in writing again has been hip surgery. That has been a big change in my life over the past nearly seven months or so.

Our wonderful weekend trip to San Francisco in January put me over the top when it came to the pain I was experiencing in my right hip. Doctors advise that when your pain becomes so intense that you can’t get through your everyday activities, then it’s time to do something about that pain. In February, I went literally crying to Doug telling him I was going to do something about my hip pain. He barely knew I had any problem. No one knew. I really lived with the pain day-to-day for several years until it got so bad, I could not sleep at night or walk stairs without intense pain.

Fast forward to May 9th for hip surgery at Rothman Institute. While I experienced major surgery and had a difficult time wrapping my head around that, the pain I had for so long was gone immediately. Since I had continued going to the gym leading to surgery – no matter how painful – this helped my physical therapy in many ways. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be on board with exercise and strengthening and then have a body part replaced. I was never on a walker as most hip replacement patients are for as long as a week; I was on crutches for two days and a cane for a week. I was done with physical therapy after about eight visits and continued all of the prescribed exercises for weeks on my own. I continue to go to the gym three times a week and am about 95% of where I want to be. The remaining 5% is the healing of the nerves in my upper right leg which remain numb. It’s still a little sore around the incision which I discovered last weekend when I batted a fly off my by slapping my leg. OUCH!  So, I’m still careful not to bump into things. The incision itself  is healing nicely.

With that major change behind me (literally), I was back to work for the summer months while Adam began his position as a first year aid teaching archery at Camp Robin Hood. As usual, the summer has been a growing experience for him. It’s great to see him happy and enjoying the transition from camper to staff member and doing well. As usual, the summer has flown by. Doug and I had our summer of dates that included trips to Toronto to see the Phillies; a weekend and a day trip in the Chesapeake, and day trips to Brigantine, Barnegat Bay and of course, the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

But what we all work for is vacation. We are fortunate to be able to adjust our business calendars to have a long vacation this year back in the land that we love so much: New Hampshire. We’ll be spending time with my family, then Doug’s, as well as Adam’s friend, Andrew joining us along with my friend, Donna.

What is it about vacation that makes the few days leading to vacation so incredibly stressful. Not that I have as much stress as I used to in broadcasting, but the “to do” list is crazy. All week there have been so many tasks and chores to do; clients all of a sudden need your help and advice on something or other (no worries..that’s a good problem to have) and I just KNOW I have forgotten to do something critical!

Now, I breathe deeply knowing the fresh, New Hampshire air and the beautiful lakefront house is just a couple of days away. The solitary call of the loon will no longer be a memory – I’ll hear that sound at mornings and at dusk; we’ll visit “S’More” Island once again; we’ll enjoy family and friends. I’ll be writing lakeside to chronicle yet another bucolic respite in the Granite State.