Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Going to the World Series

Tonight, Wednesday, October 30, 2013, is game six of the World Series at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Kim and I will be there.
This will be the biggest event in Boston since the marathon bombing. I received an email from the Red Sox, and I read similar articles online, explaining that all the streets around Fenway Park will be closed to traffic and parking for security reasons. Everyone is encouraged to take public transportation to the game – essentially the subway system.
There are a couple of problems with this scenario. First, there are no wheelchair accessible subways that run to Fenway Park. Oh, the Green Line is advertised as accessible, but it’s really not. I tried it once and it was a disaster. Read about it here.
Typically, we park at one of the many handicapped parking spots on the streets around Fenway. The email from the Red Sox, and the similar online articles, don’t address what the hell handicapped people are supposed to do. I’m not happy.
First pitch is just after 8:00, and the gates open at 5: 30. So there’s the issue of normal, everyday rush hour traffic. But with all the streets around Fenway blocked off, that part of town is going to be a clusterfuck starting at around 4:00. That’s not all. Just a mile or two away, President Obama is giving a speech about Obama-care at 4:00. Are you kidding me? All the streets around Faneuil Hall will be clusterfucked too. This doesn’t leave many open streets in Boston at all, hence the suggestion that everyone take public transportation.
Our friend Randi, who lives on the south side of Boston, presumably a safe distance from both clusters, has volunteered to help out. She has identified some handicapped parking spots just outside the secure area at Fenway. We’re going to drive down through Cambridge, avoiding downtown Boston and Storrow Drive. If we find these spots available, we are golden. If not, we just have to continue a short way down Massachusetts Avenue and we’ll be at Randi’s house. She’ll give us a ride as close to she can, drop us off, and then park our van near her house. She’ll either pick us up around midnight or we’ll walk the half hour from Fenway to her house. We’ll then make our way back to Maine. It’s going to be a late night, or should I say an early morning.
With all the logistics I've been working on, I sometimes forget, if only for a few minutes, that there's going to be a baseball game too.
Kim and I have seats at the very front of the right field bleacher section. The view we will have is shown in the picture at the top of this post. I was able to obtain these tickets a couple of weeks ago by simply making a phone call to the wheelchair accessible number. I love that number! I had to pay five times the regular season rate for these seats – $125 per ticket. I now understand that I can sell these tickets for well over $1000 each. I bet that as we approach the stadium I’ll be offered over $2000 per ticket. But we are lifelong, hard-core fans. Our tickets are not for sale at any price!
What’s the big deal? Why are these ticket prices higher than anyone has ever seen for a baseball game before? The Red Sox have won two World Series in this millennium, but they haven’t clinched a World Series at Fenway Park since 1918. The rabid New England sports fans are hoping that tonight is the night. But even if they lose tonight, they’ll have another chance to win the World Series tomorrow night, and Kim and I will be watching from the comfort of our living room. The St. Louis Cardinals are no slouches, however, so this is far from a done deal.
We are sitting in a prime spot for catching a home run ball – maybe a Big Papi walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series. Kim is bringing one of our old baseball gloves for the dual purpose of obtaining a souvenir and protecting me from these projectiles. The problem is, she’s not sure if she catches right-handed or left-handed. Maybe she will bring two gloves- one for each hand.
Watch for us on TV. Go Red Sox!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Turning 50

My 50th birthday was Friday, and Kim threw a huge party. I’ve been to a few of these, and also some retirement parties, and found them eerily similar to memorial services, except for the relative health of the guest of honor and the less frequent crying by the attendees.


At my party the food and drink was irresistible and endless. There were tributes to my life, such as the creative one my daughter put together, pictured above. Amy also produced a slide show that ran on a continuous loop throughout the evening on our television. Several guests remarked about the disproportionate number of photos, especially from my younger days, that featured dead animals. What can I say? Whenever we killed something Dad pulled out the camera.




At this party there were several people meeting one another for the first time, as might occur at a funeral, their friendship with me being the common thread. I liked the party very much. I didn’t feel dead at all. Well done, Kim.

My birthday just happened to fall on a full moon. We took a few shots of the moon as it rose over the cove across the street from my house, just as the party was kicking off.




After I graduated from college we lived in Cleveland for a couple of years, and made lifelong friends there. Six of these friends drove all the way to Maine for this party. Wow! We didn’t have enough room for everyone in our house, but our neighbor across the street was away on vacation, so she lent us her house for three nights. Wow again!

Jessica, who is an occupational therapist by day and a badass cake chef by night, made this incredible Red Sox cake and escorted it all the way from Cleveland without damage.



Friends came from all around Maine as well. There were about 50 people in attendance. I’ve been to parties with 50 people before. Being an introvert, I usually seek out the 3 to 5 friends I am most comfortable with and hang close to them for the evening. When you’re the guest of honor, however, you need and want to spend significant time with everyone at your party. But of course that’s impossible unless the party is 12 hours long, which this one wasn’t. I bounced around as much as I could. I spoke at least briefly with everyone, but failed to spend quality time with every guest. I’m sure they understand.

Even though I promised Lynn I would stop doing this at parties, I recited my version of The Unfortunate Popcorn Incident to a largely sympathetic audience.

Because of the unusually warm October evening, we made it an indoor/outdoor affair. This was the first big party that showcased Kim’s new patio in conjunction with our deck. It was a huge hit. We had a wood fire in the outdoor fireplace, and we also lit up our propane patio heater. Those babies retail for about $200 but Kim found a perfectly good one on craigslist for $30.

In the invitation Kim specified "no gifts necessary", but you know how that goes. So, what do you get the wheelchair guy who has everything? You get him a few bottles of wine and a boatload of gift certificates to his favorite restaurants. I won’t need my wallet at Snow Squall for quite some time.

Throughout the weekend Louie, the world’s greatest Cleveland sports fan, and I argued about sports, politics, religion, music, technology, education, and a few other things. We never get angry with one another, and we never change one another's minds either. Nevertheless, there’s nobody's deaf ears I'd rather have my opinions fall on than my good friend Louie's.

On Saturday, we took the Clevelanders to our favorite establishment on the pier, Portland Lobster Company, for one last afternoon of eating and drinking in the sun. It was unusually warm, and the band played classic tunes from our era. Somebody put them up to singing Happy Birthday to me. I filed an official protest, as this was not officially my birthday anymore. I was ignored.

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If you're reading this blog post in an email, you'll have to go to the original post to watch the short video above. Below are a couple of still shots from Portland Lobster Company.

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We topped it all off with a lobster bake at our house Saturday night, and everyone was gone early on Sunday morning. There – I think we’re done with summer now.

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This extended birthday weekend reminded me of a few things:
1. 50 is old, especially when it feels like 80
2. I have more great friends than anyone deserves
3. My daughter is remarkable (my son was at college, but he is remarkable too)
4. My wife is crazy awesome (I bet you didn’t know that)
5. I have to somehow top this party next year when Kim turns 50. Email me ideas at email@enjoyingtheride.com.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The View from My Wheelchair: Gillette Stadium (part 3 of 3)

This is part three of my three part series about our trip to Gillette Stadium. Click here for part one or here for part two.

Still riding our high from the unbelievable Patriots victory, the four of us made our way out of the stadium and back down to the van. The next step was for me to transfer from the iBot to the Invacare chair for the ride home. This is a more difficult transfer for me than the one from the Invacare to the iBot, because the Invacare chair sits higher. Transferring uphill is difficult. Usually I can manage this transfer, but maybe 20% of the time I can’t. This was one of those times.

I had Kim grab my pants on one side and Andy grab on the other side, and on the count of three they lifted. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done. We then settled into the van, and they packed all sorts of tailgating equipment in and around me. Andy had volunteered to be the designated driver, and we started the slow trek home.

The Red Sox were playing game 2 of the American League Championship Series that evening against the Detroit Tigers in Boston. The winner of this best-of-seven will advance to the World Series. Game 1 had been ugly for the Red Sox. They managed only a single hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, and ended up losing the game by a score of 1-0. On our drive home from Gillette Stadium we turned on the radio to listen to game 2.

It was more of the same. Through five innings the Red Sox again had no hits. In the top of the sixth inning the Tigers scored four more runs to take a 5-0 lead. This was too much for us to bear. Silence would be preferable, so we turned the radio off. We should have learned a lesson from the never-say-die Patriots, right? I dozed for half an hour or 45 minutes. As I was waking up out of my stupor Andy turned the radio back on. The score was 5 – 1, Detroit. It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the Red Sox were showing a little life. That got our attention, and we resumed listening to the game.

If you’re a baseball fan then you know what happened next. With the bases loaded, the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox postseason history, David Ortiz, came to bat. In Boston he is known by the affectionate nickname of Big Papi. The Tigers countered by bringing in their best relief pitcher, called their “closer”, because he is supposed to close out a pending victory. On the very first pitch Big Papi drove the ball deep. It cleared the outfielder’s glove by inches and went over the fence for a grand slam home run. Detroit’s right fielder, Torii Hunter, had jumped so high that he flipped over the fence, literally upside down, and landed on his head in the Red Sox bullpen. He was shaken up, but stayed in the game, which was now tied 5 - 5.


Here is an iconic photo of a police officer cheering for the home run at the same time that Torii Hunter’s legs were upside down.

Although we were ecstatic about the grand slam, we wanted to see the rest of the game, not listen to it. We were still a couple of miles from our house on the drive home, so we urged Andy to step on it, so to speak.

By the time we pulled in our driveway it was the bottom of the ninth inning, the score was still tied, and the Red Sox had one base runner on. We opened the van doors and Kim and Karen scurried out, dragging equipment with them so that I would be able to get out of the van as well. Kim rushed into the house and turned on the TV. Andy helped me navigate my wheelchair out of the tight quarters of the van, and we hurried into the house.

In my living room we watched the Red Sox baserunner advance to third base. With no outs in the inning, things were looking good. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who we call Salty for obvious reasons, singled to left field. The runner scored easily from third base, and the game was over. The Red Sox had completed an incredible comeback to tie the championship series one game to one. Once again, Andy, Karen, and Kim were a 10 on a happy scale of 1 to 10. Because the view from my wheelchair was perfect this time, I was a 10 as well.

Allow me to summarize. We were upgraded to luxury accommodations at the football game and had recovered much of our original investment in tickets. We witnessed an incredible, rare comeback by the Patriots. On the way home we listened to a heroic grand slam that tied the game for the Red Sox in the playoffs, and we were able to watch the winning run score on our television. Oh, and we had outstanding food, drink, and company the entire time.

It was a good day, a very good day.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The View from My Wheelchair: Gillette Stadium (part 2 of 3)


This is part two of my three part series about our trip to Gillette Stadium. Click here for part one.

We decided to compress our planned tailgating activities from four hours to two hours, so that we could spend some of the pregame in the luxury box. We ate our food until it hurt, and then we ate a little more. At around 2:30 we packed our tailgating paraphernalia into the van and began walking toward the stadium. We flashed our special passes to the stadium employees, and they funneled us toward the VIP intake system. The closer we came to the luxury box the more affluent and well-heeled I began to feel. We were leaving the riffraff behind and becoming part of the football watching elite, or something like that. I swear, when we opened the door to the suite a soft, white light emanated from within, and I think I heard harp music. This was going to be good.

Once inside, we thanked our kind hosts and ordered some complementary drinks from the waiter (I had already moved on to Diet Coke by this point). Our priority when we enter an unfamiliar space like this is to evaluate its wheelchair accessibility. The bathroom was perfect. It was roomy and accessible and private so that Kim could come in and assist me. The suite itself was spacious, but there was no place where I could have a clear view of the field without interference from people in front of me, even though the iBot can stand tall.

Eventually we identified the best possible viewing spot. I could see most of the field most the time, and there was a television right in front of me that showed live-action. I could use that as a backup.

More and more people poured into the luxury box. The guests came in all shapes and sizes, so to speak. The all-star lineup included a private college CEO (or whatever they are called), several business owners and executives, a well-known Maine sportscaster, and a handsome dude in an iBot wheelchair. These people were no more or less friendly and interesting than the people in the parking lot. But they were either more fortunate or more hard-working, depending on your philosophy on such matters.

Many of the guests approached me to talk about the iBot. As I’ve indicated before, explaining the iBot and demonstrating its features are two of my favorite activities. It makes for great conversation. Plus, it elevates me, at least to some extent, from the realm of the pitiable to the realm of the enviable.

Did I mention there was complementary food, beer, and wine in the luxury suite? We also enjoyed shrimp, scallops, beef wrapped in bacon, noodles, cookies, chocolates, and ice cream. Although our bellies were already full, it would have been rude not to partake of this complementary feast, and we’re not rude people. We feasted again until it hurt, and then we feasted a little more.

Eventually I asked Kim to assist me in the bathroom. Even with her help, I take considerably more time than the average guy to get into the bathroom, empty my bladder, and get out. As often occurs in these situations, people waiting to use the bathroom after me became impatient. They hadn’t seen me go in, and wondered what was taking so long. They rattled the locked door more than once, and although they never shouted, “What’s taking so long?” I was able to overhear them wonder as much amongst themselves.

When we were done and I wheeled out of the bathroom, I could see the expressions on the faces of those people who were waiting so impatiently. They always look humbled, and this time was no different. It’s all good, though. When you’re a disabled person in an able-bodied world, you grow a thick skin.

The first half of the game went well. At intermission the Patriots were ahead of the undefeated Saints 17 - 7. Things didn’t go so well in the second half. The Patriots kept making mistakes and the Saints didn’t. With New Orleans leading by a score of 27 - 23, and only two minutes and 24 seconds left on the clock, the Patriots took possession of the ball for what would certainly be the last time. A field-goal would be of no use to the Patriots. They would need to score a touchdown. Tom Brady, our future Hall of Fame quarterback, had accomplished comebacks like this many times before. We weren’t confident, but we were hopeful.

On the very next play, Brady threw a deep pass that was intercepted by the Saints at the New England 20 yard line. Game over.

I moved away from the luxury box window and mingled at the back of the suite. At least half of the suite guests were leaving. Many of the 70,000+ patrons in the stadium were filing out too. I thanked our hosts for their hospitality. They graciously apologized that the team didn’t win today, and I graciously pointed out that it wasn’t their fault. I’ve joked a bit here about the extravagance of the situation, but these business owners were down to earth and kind folks, and I very much appreciated their generosity. Watching a Patriots game from a luxury box was an incredible experience. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back out in the cold next year!

I texted a friend, Susan, who was stuck at an airport and unable to watch the game. I let her know that the Patriots had lost by four points. Andy, Karen, and Kim remained at the front of the luxury box to bear witness to the Patriots death throes, although I couldn’t understand why they were putting themselves through that pain.

After a few minutes, however, Kim called to me, “Mitch, it’s third down for the Saints. You may want to come watch this.”

I had assumed that there simply wasn’t enough time left in the game for the Patriots to get their hands on the ball again. I’m usually pretty good about these things, but in this instance I had been wrong. New Orleans failed to get a first down and had to punt to the Patriots. Tom Brady and his offense would get one more chance.

The Patriots moved the ball well, and with 10 seconds left in the game they were on the New Orleans 17 yard line. On the next play, Brady dropped back and let the ball fly to the back left-hand corner of the end zone. Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted rookie, leapt up and caught the ball. Both of his feet landed inbounds – touchdown.

Unfortunately for me, but understandable in the context of such an exciting finish, everyone had stood up in front of me as soon as the ball left Brady’s hand, and I didn’t see the catch. I was aware of the completion because of the reaction of the rest of the fans. I shifted my gaze from the field to the television just in time to see Thompkins celebrating in the end zone.

In this instance, the view from my wheelchair sucked.

On a scale of 1 to 10, if I had watched that play from my couch, or if I had been afforded a clear view of the field, I would have felt like a 10. But, given that I had actually missed the climactic event of the day, I was probably a solid 8 instead. I wish I wasn’t that way. I shouldn’t have let it affect me, but these are just the facts. Still, I was very happy about the outcome of the game.

Sheepishly, I admitted to my group, who were all solid 10’s as they should have been, that I had sent a faulty text to our friend Susan. We laughed about it, and I quickly sent her a correction!

Although my end-of-the-game was slightly subdued from what it otherwise could have been, I can’t imagine the regret and disappointment of the significant number of fans who, after having spent hundreds of dollars and many hours at the stadium, left early and completely missed this dramatic comeback victory. And how do you suppose most of those fans learned of their premature evacuation? As they were walking towards their vehicles or as they were cracking open one last beer for the post game tailgating, they heard such a roar emanating from the stadium that it could only have meant one thing. Ouch.

Part three (conclusion) tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The View from My Wheelchair: Gillette Stadium (part 1 of 3)


It’s always great fun, and one of the highlights of our year, to make our annual trek to watch the Patriots play football at Gillette Stadium. But our experience this time was unusually memorable, for a couple of reasons.

I’ve mentioned many times before how fortunate I am to have Kim as my wife, best friend, and primary caregiver. But I’m also blessed to have two very supportive brothers and their awesome wives. I wrote about Tom and Diane after our trip to Jamaica in February of this year. This post is about spending the day with Andy and Karen in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Planning for a day at Gillette Stadium is all about food and drink. Diets and any counting of calories, carbohydrates, or even cookies are suspended for the day. This year we brought several flavors of ribs, buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese (yes, you heard me correctly), chips, a bacon and cheese dip, whoopie pies, roasted almonds that I couldn’t stop eating once I started, and several varieties of beer and soft drinks. We brought a small grill for cooking, a folding table, a cooler, and three folding cloth chairs. Thank goodness for my packing spreadsheet.

Of course I brought my iBot wheelchair, as I always do for these big outings. But at the last minute I decided I would also bring my Invacare chair, if only for the ride down and back. The Invacare chair has the added feature of the easy-lock system, so that I can safely and effortlessly secure the wheelchair to the floor of the van.

We’ve gone to a Patriots game every year for a while now. One of the benefits for disabled people at Gillette Stadium is (or was) the handicapped parking lot, situated directly in front of the main entrance to the stadium. All parking lots open four hours before game time, so we arrived promptly at 12:25 for this late afternoon start.

As we approached our special parking lot, I became confused by what I saw. The lot was closed, and nobody was parking there. We were quickly redirected to the adjacent lot and found a suitable handicapped parking spot with room for my ramp to open on the right side of the van. No problem.

We asked someone why the other parking lot was closed. They indicated that since the Boston Marathon bombing the parking lot nearest the stadium was being used as a security buffer between the stadium and the mass of humanity outside of it. Thanks, terrorists. Now the available number of handicapped parking spots at Gillette Stadium has been cut roughly in half. This will make it even more critical that we arrive early in the future. There’s nothing like forcing the cripples to compete for parking.

In concert with thousands of other people around Gillette Stadium, we quickly emptied our vehicle, and within five minutes we had our grill, table, chairs, cooler, etc. all set up. Each of us had a fresh, cold beer opened, and we were ready to go. I transferred from my Invacare chair to my iBot and elevated myself to balance mode. In no time at all, people were walking up to me and asking questions about the iBot. I love it when that happens.

One of Andy’s many fine attributes is that he knows everybody. He and Karen live in Bangor, the third-largest city in Maine. Andy has been active in countless civic organizations and more than a few business ventures. All three of their kids went through the Bangor Public school system. He’s like the unofficial mayor of Bangor.

It turns out that a company which works closely with the New England Patriots is headquartered in Bangor. Of course Andy knows the owners quite well. When they learned that we were attending the game, one of them stopped by where we were tailgating and gave us four complementary passes to their corporate luxury box.

The tickets we had purchased months ago for this game cost us $147 each. They weren’t bad tickets, but they weren’t great either. It was a no-brainer for us to accept this generous offer. Then we started toying with the idea of doing something with the tickets that we had already purchased. Ideally we would’ve invited friends to join us, but it was already too close to game time. We certainly didn’t want to walk around the parking area like a sleazy scalper, shouting, “Anybody want to buy some tickets?” Yet, the thought of recovering at least some of the $588 was enticing.


Soon we noticed a commotion off to our left. The Patriots were hosting the New Orleans Saints that day, and a group of about a dozen Saints fans were making their rounds in the tailgating area. They were dressed flamboyantly, as residents of New Orleans are prone to do. They were very friendly, and Patriots fans were friendly back. Kim and Karen joined them for a photo.

Several folks in that group were former New Orleans residents now living in the Northeast. It was a long shot, but Karen asked one of the ladies if she would be interested in purchasing any tickets. Much to our surprise and delight, she said she might like one more ticket, but needed to make a phone call to confirm. When she got off the phone she said, “Actually, we could use three tickets.”

We negotiated a $100 price for each of three $147 tickets. It was a classic win – win situation.

This day was starting out really well. But there was so much more to come.

Part 2 tomorrow…

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Going to Fenway Park

Even though I was only a young boy, by the time I attended my first game at Fenway Park I was already a devoted and well-informed Red Sox fan. When I initially laid eyes on the lush green grass, the rich, brown infield dirt, and the imposing Green Monster wall in left field, it was so much more impressive than I had imagined it would be. If only I could say as much about the performance of the team each year.

To this day, that awestruck child in me comes out every time I visit Fenway Park, and for that I am grateful. Although this is baseball’s oldest venue, opened in 1912, they’ve added many improvements over the years, and I find it to be a generally wheelchair accessible ballpark.

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the special phone number that I can call for wheelchair accessible seating, and scored us a couple of tickets for game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 5. The accessible ticket phone number allows me to obtain seats to games that are otherwise sold out already.

Because Fenway Park is in the center of Boston, and was built so long ago, there is no stadium-owned parking to speak of. Instead there’s a mishmash of on-street parking, parking garages, and private parking lots. The typical price per vehicle is about $40. We noticed that at this playoff game several vendors raised their prices to $60. However, handicapped parking spaces are free. We have a mental map of approximately 20 such spaces scattered around the Fenway neighborhood. We follow a route each time that begins at our most desirable and ends at our least desirable handicapped space. It’s been a long time since we have been completely shut out, and we weren’t on this day. We claimed one of our favorite spaces on Commonwealth Avenue. Although it is a 10 minute walk to the ballpark, this location affords us a clean escape from the traffic when the game is over.

Kim and I had arrived early in Boston so that we could have lunch with our friend Randi. We chose a well-regarded restaurant near Fenway called Eastern Standard. After a delicious meal and an enjoyable visit, Kim and I walked over to the park.

Once we passed through the turnstiles into Fenway Park, we spent some just outside on a street called Yawkey Way. The Red Sox close Yawkey Way to traffic before each game, and it is transformed into a unique carnival atmosphere for ticket holders. There are vendors, musicians, and even a guy on stilts. It’s great people watching for me, and it’s great iBot watching for everybody else. Of course, I take my iBot when I go to Fenway, and folks can’t stop staring at me in balance mode, and I eat it up. I don’t hear every comment they make to one another as I pass by, but Kim often picks up little nuggets and fills me in.

I keep a spreadsheet (I wish I had a nickel for every time I started a sentence with those words) that lists all of the handicapped seats in Fenway Park of which I am aware. For each seat I have recorded information about the advantages and disadvantages of that location. I take into account the seats’ proximity to accessible bathrooms and food concessions, and whether the seats are under cover or exposed to the weather. I consider the quality of the view. Of course I also take into account the different prices of each seating option. So, whenever I call the ticket office I have my spreadsheet up on my computer screen ready for immediate consultation.

This was game 2 of a best of 5 series with Tampa Bay. Boston had won the previous night by the lopsided score of 12 to 2. The game we attended was another rousing victory for the Red Sox, winning by a score of 7 to 4. Highlights included two home runs by our favorite, and oldest slugger, David Ortiz. The intensity at postseason games is palpable. Every strike, every out, and especially every home run is met with thunderous approval. Goosebumps appear on arms; shivers travel up spines.

In the middle of the eighth inning at every Red Sox game in Fenway Park all 37,000 or so people come together to sing Neil Diamond’s hit Sweet Caroline. On days when the Red Sox are losing it provides some consolation. On beautiful summer evenings, it confirms our love of the game. In postseason games that the Red Sox are winning, it can make you at least temporarily believe that all is right with the world, and maybe, just for that moment, it is. Kim captured some of Saturday’s rendition on her iPhone. (If you’re viewing this through an email you may need to click on this link.)

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As a dedicated Red Sox fan, I must admit that the satisfaction I gain from watching the Red Sox is at least partially dependent on the outcome of the game. I always have a good time at Fenway, but I have a better time when they win. This is not all that different from attending a play at your local theater. The act of dressing up and going out with wonderful people almost guarantees a certain level of enjoyment, but if the writing and acting is superior, and the play ends in a way that is satisfying – all the better.

There are so many things that I can’t do anymore, but going to Red Sox games is something I can do, arguably, even better than I used to. I say this because of my ability to obtain tickets to almost any game and my knack for securing free parking. So this is an activity we intend to partake of for years to come, money permitting, at least during seasons when they’re not horrible. They are rarely horrible.

Below are some pictures from trips to Fenway in previous years. Click on any of these pictures, or the pictures above, to see an enlarged version.









Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another Walk to Bug Light Park

At the risk of boring you with one more post about how much I love my neighborhood, I’d like to share with you a walk I took on Saturday to Bug Light Park.

It took considerable initiative, more than it should have, to tear myself away from my little routines and venture outside for an hour or two. I’m glad I did.

My house is about a quarter-mile from the entrance to a wonderful biking/walking trail called the Greenbelt, otherwise known as the Eastern Trail. By hopping on this paved and well-maintained pathway I can gain access to several noteworthy destinations. But, by far my favorite walk along the Greenbelt is the one that takes me to Bug Light Park.

The initial part of this route hugs the shoreline of the saltwater cove I live on. The image below shows the view of the cove from my front yard. It’s literally just across the street. Note: click on any image to zoom in.


The black arrow in the above photo indicates a spot on the cove directly across from my house. That’s where the next picture, below, was taken from.


The black arrow in the picture above indicates the location of my house as seen from across the cove. Let’s zoom in a little bit. In the photo below, the arrow again indicates my house. The picture window that you see is in my living room, where I spent almost all of my time in the company of my two best friends – the computer and the television. But I do manage to avert my eyes away from the screens maybe 100 times or so a day, just to gaze out over my little corner of this huge ocean.



I encountered some graffiti. You can see what a rough neighborhood I live in.



Less than half an hour later I arrived at my destination, Bug Light Park.



One of the first things you notice in the park is Fort Gorgeous, sitting strategically in the middle of Casco Bay.



Then there is the namesake lighthouse, which is very small compared to most lighthouses, but no less awesome.





On this day there were two rather large cruise ships docked in Portland Harbor. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to live where so many cruise ships want to visit. And yet, the city is so much more than its tourism.



This was a beautiful day in September, my favorite weather month. Temperatures were in the high 60s. The sun was shining and there were a few puffy clouds. Only the lightest of breezes refreshed the park, enveloping us in the good ocean smell, not the bad one.

The Greenbelt, Bug Light Park, and all of Portland Harbor were busy that afternoon, but not in a hectic way. I think everyone appreciated that days like this, at this time of year, at this latitude, are fleeting.






As I was getting ready to leave, one of the harbor’s tugboats decided to put on a little show for everyone. The boat rotated about so that the waterspouts twirled in the air like a giant lawn sprinkler.



I had brief conversations with all sorts of people that day. For example, there was the elderly man who comes to the park often with his daughter and granddaughter. As we gazed at the cruise ships I asked him if he had ever been on one. “No, I don’t think that’s for me.” Having been on one of those cruise ships before, and having known this gentleman for upwards of 30 seconds, I was quite sure he was wrong about his assessment, but I didn’t correct him.

You can’t help but feel alive, engaged, and appreciative on days like this. These photos and my words fall short of portraying the grandeur of this scene. Perhaps my post will evoke memories for some of you about your special places. But even memories are not enough. There is no substitute for being physically present in these wide open spaces once in a while.

There is some evolutionary itch (or spiritual if you prefer) that can be scratched only in this way. It is nothing short of therapeutic, especially for people who are in pain (and who isn’t, to some extent). There are so many aspects of our lives that are beyond our control, but taking in the beauty of our surroundings is a deeply personal, healing experience that most of us can enjoy once in a while.

And you know what? All of my little routines (and my little dog) were still there waiting for me when I got home, none the worse for my absence. I need to do this more often.