Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tonight I'm a Yankees Fan



What a night of nostalgia and emotion it was. I'm talking about the final Yankees game to be played in Yankee Stadium ever. EVER!

I had planned to watch the Yankees take on the Baltimore Orioles in the ESPN game of the week, and turned on the TV early to catch the NFL news and perhaps see a screen crawl on the new college football rankings.

Instead I saw a notice that the pregame ceremonies were being covered on ESPN2, so I hastily switched over and caught a sight of the greatest living Yankees being introduced and standing at their positions. Wow!

The game itself really didn't matter much to me. The Yankees won 7-3, Andy Pettitte got the win, and Jose Molina hit the last homerun to be recorded in Yankee Stadium, bookending a most historical era started by Babe Ruth's first homerun in the first game played at the stadium.

It was the history, it was the legacy, it was the memories. When I was a kid, the New York Yankees were the team we listened to ... them and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I've been a fan of the Atlanta Braves for decades, thanks to cable television, but in those days -- the 1950's -- we only had radio. And we waited for the Yankees games.

I never got to watch a lot of baseball when I was growing up. Remember, this is Hawaii, and only once in a blue moon would major league exhibitions be played here. In fact, I consider myself lucky if I'm able to catch ONE major league game live at the ballpark a year.

So I wanted to watch this last Yankee Stadium game. Like I said, the game itself wasn't that important to me. Derek Jeter, the captain, had a lousy night batting and went 0 for 5 because of a sore left hand that was struck by a pitch the day before. But he won't be remembered for that, or for being the last Yankee to bat at the stadium.

I will remember him for the beautiful speech he gave on the mound, backed up by his teammates, when he thanked the fans and evoked memories of great Yankees, of great games, of great World Series in the past, and asked them to hold those memories in their hearts and share them with the upcoming generations, just as older memories had been shared with them.

And I will remember the team trotting around the warning track, paying homage to their fans, of every age, many with tears in their eyes.

Nobody seemed to want to leave. It was a special night. For me too. Just like the night Mark McGwire broke the Babe's record. Just like the night when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's record. I didn't want to turn the channel, I didn't want to shut it down.

Tonight, I was a Yankees fan again. It felt pretty good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Butterfly



How lovely the scent that wafts in the breeze –
It beckons the butterfly, whispers, “Oh please
Come partake of this wonderful nectar inside,
Brush wings on petals, you won’t be denied.”

Consumed by the need to probe for the sweet,
The Monarch will hover, decision complete,
Committed to tasting the flavor desired,
A tongue flickers forth, its mission inspired.

Diaphanous touches cause dew to release,
Soft brushings of wings on petals increase.
Light as a feather on precipitous perch,
It sighs in relief, having ended its search.

The petals of rose spread wide and suggest
A union of flower and butterfly blessed,
Lo, the butterfly drinks through petals a-quiver
In concert with wings that shimmer and shiver.

I am the butterfly, she is the flower,
We meet in the garden, in pale misty shower
That kisses the cheek and moistens the eyes,
Then parting, I lift myself back to the skies.

(I wrote this poem in 2004 one night when I was in a very good mood.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spam and Eggs Breakfast



It's the all-Hawaii breakfast. Spam and eggs. So much so that many years ago, the Hawaii McDonald's franchises became the first fast food chain to serve a local menu, including Spam and eggs with rice.

Burger King has entered the fray and is now advertising its Hawaiian breakfast sandwich with Spam, eggs and cheese on a croissant, as well as a Spam Platter with Spam, scrambled eggs and white rice.

I had Spam and eggs with rice for breakfast this morning. Made my own. And, I mush the over-easy eggs into the rice and season it with ketchup and shoyu. When he was a little tyke, my #1 son used to call it "matoo eggs." We still call it that in our house.

There's only one thing better, and that's Spam and eggs with FRIED rice. Now that's a breakfast worthy of anticipation as my eyes slowly focus on the KHON morning news while I'm lying in bed trying to will my stomach to stop growling.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Pharmacy Run

I should buy stock in Costco. Every couple of weeks or so, I head on over to the Dole Cannery store and leave a sizeable chunk of hard-earned cash there, much of it in the pharmacy, as I am the appointed family "drug runner."


They love me there. Not because I spend a lot, but because I bring them a printed list of each person's requirements, noting the name of the medicine, dosage, number of refills remaining, and that date the prescription expires. They beam when they see me coming with the list in hand, they beam when they see me standing in the pick-up line 45 minutes later, and they beam when they hand me the meds.


The only problem with the "pharmacy run" is that they need time to fill the prescriptions. And that takes at least 45 minutes. Have you ever spent 45 minutes in Costco? That is soooo hazardous to your health and pocketbook. I'm always spending too much money as I wander the aisles, constantly checking my watch to see if the 45 minutes are up.


And the cart gets heavier and heavier and more difficult to push and steer. The worst is when wifey asks me to get a couple of cases of bottled water to sell at the family deli. I'd like to get them last, but those things need to go at the bottom of the pile. You can't put them on the top. And sliding them into the bottom rack can do wonders for your back.


I did it today. And I need a back massage!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Pickles Observation



My favorite comic strip is Brian Crane's "Pickles" -- about an older couple and their family. The husband, Earl, reminds me of me, 'cept I don't have a white mustache. His wife, Opal, doesn't remind me of MY wife, but she does resemble in general a few women I've come across.

Today's strip cracked me up. (Hope I don't get into any trouble for posting it here. Yikes!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pearls of the Sea




Diamonds are nice, they sparkle like ice;
They show off their fire, they inspire desire;
They come from below,
Compressed and deep,
Hidden from view
Their secrets they keep.

Emeralds are green, their beauty serene;
They give off a glow, they just seem to know
That we love to have
What they offer today –
Inspiring our words,
Fulfilling our play.

Rubies burn bright, they heat up the light;
Scarlet, cerise … they draw us with ease
Into magic romance
Of silver and gold.
While images promise
And wonders behold.

But pearls – oh the pearls.

Pearls have a luster that transcends the cold,
An essence of shimmer and global perfection;
Created by Him from natural life
To inspire emotion and inner reflection.

Far deep in the brine their colors do hide –
Pure white as the clouds, pink as the rose,
Black as the night, blue as the sky …
Their glory so secret, ‘til found they repose.

When brought to the light, a pearl will reveal
Its innermost beauty, its special appeal.
I’ve seen what it offers, I love what I see –
My lady, my pearl, my loving … and me.

(I wrote this in 2004, at a time when I was buying loose gemstones on eBay.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bye Bye Website

Many years ago, I had my first taste of tiramisu, that heavenly Italian dessert that I've often described as "heaven in your mouth." It prompted me to start a website that eventually became the #1 source of tiramisu information in the whole world. Throughout the years, millions of people visited the site and posted their ratings of tiramisu they've had in restaurants.

The website's success started to impinge on my freedom, and I soon found myself spending a couple of hours EVERY DAY updating the information and responding to emails from readers. Eventually it kind of settled down to where I was only spending a couple of hours a week, and most recently, a couple of hours every three months or so.

Today, about a dozen years after I launched the website, tired of it all and after careful consideration, I completed the process of selling it to another devotee. And of that, I have some mixed feelings. It's like giving your child up for adoption after 10 years of warm, personal caring.

But it's done, and I wish the new owner well in his endeavour.

Keep visiting HeavenlyTiramisu.com and watch alongside of me with interest he makes his improvements.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Must Football Prevail?

Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008) is a busy day for me. Not only do the USC Trojans take on Ohio State in the college football game of the week, I also have to set up at my stamp and coin dealer association's bourse (dealer market).

The bourse commitment was made early in the year when I paid my table fees for the 2008 set of shows, so I feel a financial responsibility to make use of my pre-paid fee. One thing that concerns is that this September show comes fast on the heels of an August show in which I participated three weeks ago. I'm a little concerned that sales might be down because of this. If I recall last year, the Saturday shows didn't draw very well during the college football season.

And on top of this, I've been a USC football fan since I attended my first game in the LA Coliseum in 1964 and watched Mike Garrett (now USC's athletic director) tear off long runs through Notre Dame, upstaging their eventual Heisman Trophy winner, John Huarte.

The Trojan game will be on ABC right smack dab in the afternoon portion of the stamp and coin show. If I stay at the show until it ends, I won't get home until the second half starts. I just might close up early and try to get home sometime in the first half. Unless there are customers at my table -- then, money talks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Omnipresence


I see You in the world surrounding me,
You fill my soul with wonder every day.
It is as though You want us all to know
How wonderful the beauty You convey.

I see You in the branch that reaches out,
Supportive of the leaves that gather light.
You bring the nourishment to all who want,
Work never ends from dawn to quiet night.

I see You in the rock that lies beside
The dusty road that carries me to Thee.
So full of strength on which Your home is built,
You resolutely hold the humble key.

I see You in the cloud that tumbles by,
The pure white softness simply melts my heart.
Like cotton rolling ‘cross an azure sky,
Your smile sustains me when we are apart.

I see You in the drop of rain that falls
To splash upon my face when it turns high.
You kiss my cheek and bring a smile to fore,
Your drops elicit such a sweet reply.

I see You in the golden sun that dawns,
And passes o’er me as the day does age.
When Sol turns crimson at the end of day,
I close Your book and mark the future page.

I see You everywhere in everything
That You’ve created for Your children to share.
I see You when my eyes do gaze upon
Most anything appearing anywhere.

(I wrote this poem in 2004.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Trigger Thumb

Say hello to my right thumb; it’s the star of my show today and in fact has been a focus for a couple of months. Back in April, it decided to give me trouble and signed up for the “trigger” option. That’s when the first knuckle (the one in the middle of the thumb) pops when you bend it. Like the cocking of a trigger.

My orthopedic surgeon gave it a cortisone shot and that cured it for a few weeks, but then Mr. Trigger-Happy Thumb decided to come back with a vengeance. Not only is it bothersome, it hurts too.

So … last Friday I had it operated on. One would think a “not-so-big-deal” event was in order. Uh uh. Nope. They reserved a big-ol' hospital operating room for me. The operation was at 8:30 in the morning but I had to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. I then moved from one waiting room to another, either shuffling about in that air-conditioned hospital gown or being wheeled around on a gurney bed, talking to maybe a half-dozen different people who kept asking me the same questions over and over again.

Specific questions: What’s your name? When is your birthday? Which thumb is it? What medication do you take? Do you have any allergies? I do understand why they do this, of course, but perhaps the next time I do something like this, I’m going to bring a card with all that information printed on it.

They stuck needles into the backs of my hands and eventually wheeled me into the OR with its lights blazing and another half-dozen masked strangers milling around. I felt like I’d been abducted by a UFO and was going to be experimentally prodded. The only familiar sound was my ortho-doc’s voice, which I heard throughout the operation.

I wanted to see what was going on because the sedative they used didn’t put me to sleep, but they draped a sheet between me and my outstretched right arm. Shucks. All I could do was count the holes in the acoustical tile above my bored face.

The operation was short, it ended pretty quickly and after a little cup of apple juice and three graham crackers, and a brief recovery period, they stuffed me into a wheelchair and sent me on my way to the front door.

You know what the hardest part of the whole ordeal was? I have a stretchy wrap around my right hand and can’t get it wet for a few days. So I’ve been taking my evening shower with the hand all wrapped up in a plastic shopping bag, taped to my arm so water won’t leak in. It's hard taking shower with only my left hand.

There are places I can't reach with the left hand, and as a result, I haven’t been able to wash my left underarm since the operation. It’s gotta be stinky.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Good Start

Okay, that's enough for today, don't you think?

I'm hungry. Perhaps I'll go to lunch today, say, Bubba Gump's? Yeah. Southern Charmed Fried Shrimp sounds good.

Dew Point

The muse taps one on the shoulder at the oddest times. Then again, perhaps the times are not as odd as one might think. Take this morning, for example. It is my usual Sunday wont to meander outdoors to the mailbox, where the newsboy so ungraciously posits the five pounds of newspaper, so full of advertising and features and sometimes-relevant news items that supposedly will report the state of the world we live in, and the future we have to look forward to.

The eyes are usually bleary in the early a.m., struggling to focus in the omnipresent shade of morning shadow. Still, the morning sparkles all around, and the moisture in the grass sprinkles upon ones toes, despite the protection of sandals. And it is at this point that one begins a deeper reflection on the dew that covers the lawn.

Ponder this – from whence does this moisture arrive, and where does it go to when light floods the heavens? The moisture that beads on flowers and leaves and stems and grass comes from thin air, does it not? There is something about the coolness of life that seems to draw these tears of life from the air that we draw into our bodies. So on this morning, I stand there, marveling. My face is drawn downward, to the point where I am kneeling in the grass next to the pink hibiscus bud that is slowly – imperceptibly – spreading its petals, the beadlets of life-giving water beginning their rolling descent to the lips before succumbing to the pull of the earth and falling to nourish the blades of grass below.

This moisture, this dew, scientists and pragmatists will say, was drawn out of the air – condensed, if you will – when the temperature reached a certain level. The dew point, it is called.

But I poeticize that the dew instead is created by a higher power. Now sitting on the grass, my pajama pants wet and clinging to my legs, I study the dew on the flower. How can it be so beautiful a phenomenon that water, the fluid of our life, can appear as if from nothing? And once created, it does not simply lie there unmoving. No, it shimmers, and it reflects everything around it, taking in the colors and the images, and re-releasing them in all their colorful glory back into the world.

It is as if something has been reborn. Oh welcome back into this world, I cry! Take the trees, the grass, the flowers, the rusty toy left outside, the painted south corner of my abode, the brown fence that hides within that little sphere of crystal water sitting there on the lip of the hibiscus petal. Show me what you see! Bring my world back to me in miniature! Gather in the light of the dawning sun!

My friend, the dew drop. My lover, the dew drop. Myself, the dew drop.

My dew drop, and the countless others that blanket my little neighborhood of the world, are hardly noticeable in the general scheme of early Sunday morning. But they are there for me. They nourish my awakening soul on this special day of days.

At some point during the minutes that follow, the golden-blue rays of the sun warm the air about me, heating the sky, and my dew drop begins a basking in the slowing rising temperature of day. As I watch it, mesmerized, it begins to diminish, taking with it the microcosm of my world, which it was appropriated for its very own. Slowly, slowly, it diminishes. And then … it is no more.

Somewhat saddened, I arise and feel the cool breeze wafting upon my damp pajama leggings, evaporating what is left of the morning moisture. But before I can dismay completely, a thunder of thought peals through my consciousness. I pause, and something flashes in my mind.The dew drop. It seems … that dew drop has not disappeared. It suddenly dawns upon me that instead, it has transformed into something greater than a globular reflection of my little world. It has moved on, it has been taken higher, it will be resurrected elsewhere. It will enjoy a renaissance to be enjoyed by another somewhere, and that person and I will share something quite profound.

Because it is Sunday, I begin thinking cosmically and religiously. Could it be that the Master of humankind has purposely talked to me and shown me that flower on this particular day, at this particular time of the morning? Does He have a plan for me? Does the appearance, disappearance, and ultimate reappearance of those water molecules have something to do with that plan?

Because … well, because when you think about it, the water in the dew drop did indeed disappear. But it will reappear – perhaps as a drop of water in a mighty ocean, perhaps as a snowflake – in a tarn, perhaps, or as a tear drop, or as water in a soldier’s canteen – in a cloud perhaps as it wafts over that someone else’s home. Perhaps, just perhaps, it will experience a rebirth again as a drop of dew. Perhaps to be ignored, perhaps to be trod upon, perhaps.

But perhaps, just perhaps, it will be seen by another sleepy man on a lovely Sunday morning, and thought of the way I have thought … this morning.

(I wrote this in August 2005.)

Mowing the Grass

Woke up this morning with an itch in my brain to start a blog. So here we go. I think I'll start mowing the grass and painting in the lines. BBL.