Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Kansas Day

    January 29th is Kansas Day. Here is a picture of why I love Kansas so much.

 Am I talking about the wide open spaces, that make me breathe more easily ? The azure sky, an open window to eternity? The vast horizon and its painterly sunsets? The soft prairie grasses,in delicate shades of tan, brown, gold and rust? The lightness of the dry air, lifting my spirits like a weather balloon? The caress of the wild wind, e'er blowing through my hair, across my skin?  


Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's A Sad Sad Day

I didn't want to believe the news I read this morning, that our pitcher Yordano Ventura had died in a car accident. No, no, no, no, no......

What's weird is I had woken up this morning, staring at Yordano's picture and thinking about him briefly. Let me explain: I was lying in bed, looking to the wall opposite my bed, where my writing desk is. Hanging over my desk is the 2016 wall calendar from last year I still hadn't taken down---a Royals calendar commemorating their 2015 win. Yordano was the player featured on December, and I had contemplated how at some point I should take the calendar down, but I didn't have an immediate replacement for the empty spot on the wall, and I didn't mind having Yordano up there a little longer. These were some of my first thoughts of the day. Within an hour or so I'd go online and learn that Yordano had lost his life.            

He was only 25. He was still just a kid, a goofy kid. That's why I had a soft spot in my heart for him, because we'd all seen him battling. He had tremendous talent, and sometimes he was brilliant, dazzling. Other times he was all over the place, and unable to last past a few innings. He lost his cool a few times and lost his command, but give the kid a break...he had a good heart. He was really trying to correct his mistakes. And when he was on, he was really on, throwing fire and reminding everyone why they'd called him Ace Ventura.

No one who watched Game 6 of the 2014 World Series could forget his 7 shut-out innings against the Giants. Brilliant. We didn't really care that he was erratic, because we loved him on the team, and we knew his best years were ahead of him. He was fun to watch, and we looked forward to seeing him develop in the coming years into a mature, solid player. In the meantime, he brought his spirit and personality and youthfulness to the game, to the Royals, and to our city.

We loved his story, the unlikely odds he overcame to make it all the way to the big leagues, and we were so happy to see his success. He was part of  that incredible, unbelievable ride we all took to the World Series win in 2015. We loved that he was ours, and we got to see him pitch. To think there will be no more Yordano Ventura bobblehead nights....he will be sorely missed this coming baseball season.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guess Whose Contract Just Got Extended to 2021!

Duffy Bear!  

He's not going anywhere. At least for the next five years.

Duffy's own words: "I just can't leave this place, this place is home. I'm super excited to stick around." 


Monday, January 16, 2017

I Had A Dream...About a King, Two Princes, and a Duke

In this dream, I went to heaven. It was cloudy. Clouds on the ground, even. I started walking around when all of a sudden Elvis stepped through a cloud and was standing right in front of me.

"It's the King!" I shouted.

Elvis looked good. He had slimmed down and though he was still wearing a jumpsuit, it was reasonably embellished with what appeared to be some form of celestial rhinestones, that sparkled in a tasteful way.

Elvis held up his palm and shook his head. "I'm not the King,"  he said. "That title belongs to one who comes before me."

"You mean, Jesus?" I asked. (Who, by the way, was nowhere to be seen.)

"Jesus doesn't like earthly titles. No, I mean Dr. Martin Luther. When I got here, he was one of the first to meet me, because he died in Memphis too, you know."


"He was the true King, in both name and deed. I was humbled to walk the same cloud with him. I told the heavenly host I wanted them to drop all that "king" biz and have everybody just call me "The Prince" instead.

 Just then, Prince, the musician walked up.

"Oh my gosh, it's Prince!"  I yelled. "That's right! You died...just last year!"

Prince smiled serenely and extended his hand. "Dearly beloved...." he said. I tried to touch his hand but it was like running my hand through warm mist. Prince had a guitar strapped on, and started messing around lightly on the strings.

" do you feel about Elvis calling himself  "The Prince"? I asked.

Prince played a short riff before answering. "It's okay by me. He is free to use it. After all, I gave the name up for a while, during my contentious contract dispute with Warner. . . ."

"So what do you go by now?"

Up here they call me "Formerly the Artist formerly known as Prince", but usually they just call me "Formerly" for short. Technically, I took my name "Prince" back after my contentious contact with Warner expired. But no one seems to remember that." .

Just then, a slight pale figure burst through the cloud. It was David Bowie.

"David Bowie!" I exclaimed. "Oh my gosh!!!!"

Prince nodded in Bowie's direction. "Otherwise known in these parts as "the Duke."

"Of course," I said. "As in 'thin, white....makes sense."

Bowie greeted me. "Welcome to heaven. The ultimate space oddity."

"I'm honored to meet you, Bowie," I said. "I cried when you died."  I awkwardly glanced at the two Princes standing nearby. "I was sad when you guys died too," I said hastily.

Bowie ch-ch-changed the subject. "We're all going on a joy ride," he said. You should join us".

"I think I'm already on a joy ride," I said.

Bowie continued. "Dr. King is taking us for a ride on his bus. You'll love it".

I was incredulous, which, given the unusual events that had already transpired, was saying something. "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.....drives a bus?"

Just then I heard a loud honk, and saw approaching the strangest vehicle I'd ever seen. It was short but incredibly, impossibly wide."

"That's our ride," said Bowie.

 "What IS that?" I gasped. "I've never seen anything like it!"

"It's Dr. King's bus," Bowie replied. "Where everybody sits up front."

Sigh. It was just a dream. Or was it?.........

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Gnarly Mess of Spent Pods...

...Is what you're left with when you make a big pot of masala chai.

But it's well worth it. An aromatic cup of spicy, milky chai tea is the thing to drink when the weather's crappy and you're stuck home all day.  

How do you arrive at the perfect cup of chai? Well, I don't like to boast but I've got homemade chai down to a science. And I'm happy to share my process with you:

It's easy! Just...

Measure out 5 cups of water and start heating it.
Cut up an ass-ton of ginger into small bits and throw it in the water.
Add about 20 whole cloves.
Measure out a couple of teaspoons of ground cinnamon, and sprinkle in some nutmeg.
Pour a couple of handfuls of green cardamom pods onto cutting board and attempt to crush with the bottom of a drinking glass. Note that they aren't getting very crushed.
Look for the meat tenderizer to use instead. After searching utensil drawer, look in auxiliary kitchen drawer.
Note that meat tenderizer is oddly missing. Who took it and where could they have taken it?
It was a big hammer-like tool and is not something that could be easily overlooked.  
Continue attempting to crush pods with the bottom of a glass.
Look for the mortar and pestle. Didn't we use to have one once?
Give up and add partially crushed pods to water.
Grind pepper over the pot. Realize the pepper is being ground up too fine.
Get out whole peppercorns and put them on the cutting board and attempt to smash up somewhat with the bottom of the drinking glass. Add peppercorns to water.
Boil together for a couple of minutes.
Lower the heat. Actually, just turn it off.
Add tea bags---has to be strong black tea. Oops --why are you adding the kind with strings and paper tags? The paper will dissolve in the water. Fish out the bags. Replace with tag-less bags. There, that's better.
Cover the pot and steep the bags.
Add 4 cups of milk. Turn up heat until mixture is nice and hot.
Taste. Meh. Too bland. Add more cinnamon and pepper.
Don't add more cloves because you did that last time and the tea tasted like furniture polish.
Uh-oh. Mixture looking too dark. Add more milk.
Taste. Now too weak.
Throw in a couple more tea bags. Grab a random spice and sprinkle more in.
Taste again. Now too strong! More milk!
Repeat previous 5 steps!
Finally, strain the mixture into another pot.
Add sugar. Taste. Needs more.
Add sugar. Taste. Needs  more.
Add sugar. Taste. More.
Taste. Ahh...that's IT!  

At last, the payoff.....

See? That's all there is to it!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Greetings, Ice Man


I for one welcome and embrace our new Ice Overlord.

I submit completely to your rule, knowing in return you will not shut down our internet or bank our furnace fires.

I like a light glaze as opposed to ice accretions or snapped power lines. Not that you were asking. Falling tree branches are a mighty testament to your power. But not necessary.

Your power is known to all. Your appearance, less so. So it is with surprise (the pleasant kind, I assure you) that after a lengthy meditation on your awesomeness I was led to this image. You appear rather wizened, and even a bit cold. Perhaps you've been wanting a new line of work

Believe me, we've all been there. Excuse me, I mean, believe you.

Because we do believe you. That's my point. You have no need to prove what you can do. We believe in your fierce-some power already.

So give yourself a pass on this one.The people have already clawed and hoarded every last scrap left on the grocery store shelves. So your work is done.

  We'll light some candles, as if all our electricity was going off, and call it good. Deal?  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Just Rinse It For Crying Out Loud!

Posted this sign on the kitchen cupboard over the winter break. Two daughters home all day, making multiple trips to the kitchen to drink multiple solutions of tea, cocoa, protein shakes can imagine what can occur...

By now the sign has lost its initial startle effect, but I have to say it pretty much worked!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Okay Duff-Man, You're It.

Pitcher Danny Duffy won my heart some time back with his bear suit, but he was vying for the top spot on my roster with outfielder Jarrod Dyson and closer Wade Davis. Now both David and Dyson have been traded away (see previous post They Traded Dyson!!!!!!!)

So Danny Duffy, congratulations. You'll be pleased to know you are now officially my favorite Royals player.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017

They Traded Dyson!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't even. 

(Sobbing, blubbering, sniffling...sobs coming so fast can't catch a breath...)

I know, I know....we needed a pitcher. Dyson was not an everyday player. He wasn't even the 4th outfielder. We only had one year left of him anyway before he hit free agency, so we needed to make a move to fill a spot in our rotation with someone who we could hang onto for awhile. I get it.    

But Dyson, along with Wade Davis, who also got traded this off-season, was one of my favorite members of the team. He was one of the most colorful, and fun to watch. He was an excellent pinch runner. Could steal like a mother. And he made some pretty impressive catches. He was relatively small--5'9"---but he was scrappy. And had his own unique blend of mojo.    

Here he is doing a backflip after making a winning catch:  

Speaking of catches, this grab he made climbing the outfield wall was insane:


One of my favorite moments was the big smile on his face after sliding into home after hitting an inside-the-park home run:

Then there was the little dance he did after stealing third during the 2014 Wild Card game that would send the Royals to their first playoffs in 29 years and eventually the World Series.As he was often known to say, "That's what speed do" :

Thanks for all the good times, Dyson. Hope they appreciate you in Seattle.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Problem with Snow Nights...

   ... Is they deprive us of Snow Days.

   It's all in the timing. A good snow needs to start about 3:00 am to mess with roads and trigger closings. A snow before midnight is premature, misaligned, out of sync, a big party pooper.

So yeah, I had to go in to work today.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 has me like....

So much for reflection and burning candles and shit. I'm having trouble adjusting to the new year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day -- Almost My Last Day on Earth, Maybe

What a way to start a new year. Talk about taking stock of your life.....while out in my Civic on a routine errand late this afternoon I almost got creamed by a big black pickup. Just a second more, just a few inches more, and I may have been placed in the same Heaven Orientation session as Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. But I don't want to be overdramatic. Maybe I would have merely sustained gross bodily harm and debilitating injuries. There's no way to know for sure what would have happened if I had driven just a tad more into that intersection.

What I do know is that as I was traveling south on a quiet street that runs behind Walgreens and Pizza Hut, a street where I had the rightofway, a pickup traveling west ran a stop sign and came barreling out of nowhere, blasting through the intersection I was entering. He was going so fast it was clear he hadn't even thought about slowing or stopping. You expect this sort of thing on New Year's Eve. You don't expect that just running out for take-out pizza the next day, a short distance from your house might get you killed. You hear these stories, but don't think such a random, senseless act could bring an end to your magnifico life.

When I saw the pickup what I saw was a sure collision course. I must have slammed on the brakes though I don't remember and I jerked my steering wheel hard to the right. So as my car turned the pickup slithered past me and though I waited for the SLAM at the point of contact, there was none. Miraculously, it seemed, there was no contact at all and the pickup continued on its idiotic, assholish way. As I watched it skitter off, I laid full-force on the horn, glaring, then pulled into a nearby driveway to collect myself. I saw its brake lights come on down the road...but that was the last I saw of it.

I pulled back onto the road and then pulled over again, to collect myself some more, and contemplate what had just happened.

When I got home, I found the pizza had "shifted" to put it mildly. The slices were still in the box but were all willy nilly. I was just grateful that was the only thing that had to be put back together.

This post was going to be about the Yankee Cracklin' Cinnamon candle (pictured above) I've been burning...the nice little sound it makes...and how my New Year's Resolution is to buy more and keep burning them. (I demand so much of myself.)

So I'll be burning the candle in the coming months, with perhaps even a little more reflection, appreciation and gratitude than I had before.