Saturday, February 6, 2016

Remembering Winter Storm Jonah 2015

A few final memories, in photo form, of Winter Storm Jonah 2015.  Man, I miss the snow.

Saturday afternoon, the day after the Friday snow, J.P. and I met my buddy Russ and his family for an impromptu party at Sloco on 12th Avenue.  (Man, I love my neighborhood).  First, J.P and Cooper played chess.  Then, while the grownups had a couple of beers, J.P. and Cooper had an extended snowball fight outside, around the corner of the building.  We topped it off with Jenni's ice cream and banana pudding from Edley's.  (Man, I love my neighborhood).

On the spur of the moment, Cooper invited J.P. to sleep over.  The next morning, before church, Jude, Joe and I drove to Radnor Lake to meet Russ and the kids and get in a little more sledding.  To say Radnor Lake was beautiful that morning is an understatement.  The sheer beauty literally took my breath away.

Also, I got some great shots of Jude, J.P. and Joe on their sleds.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Joe Time

I worry sometimes that I don't get enough "Joe Time," when it's just me and him.

Most mornings, because I take Joe to Children's House, I do get to spend almost an hour with him.  That time is special, particularly when we go to Bongo Java and play "States Bingo" or watch YouTube videos of hockey players (Joe probably as watched "James Neal 36" one hundred times).  Still, many mornings it's a bit hurried, as Joe finishes up watching "Super Why" or "Bob the Builder" while I get dressed, then we're out the door to school. 

It was different with J.P., or perhaps I just remember it differently.  It seems like he and I did a lot of stuff together, just the two of us.  Before Joe was born and maybe for a while afterwards, J.P. and I went to Belmont U. after dinner.  There, we played outside when it was warm and inside when it was cold.  I think the idea was to give Jude some down time after dinner.  Once he started playing sports, there have been plenty of times when J.P. and threw the baseball or football together.  Thus far, Joe has been a bit young for that type of thing.

Tonight, Jude took J.P. to Governor Haslam's annual "State of the State" speech at the State Capital building.  So, I picked up Joe from Children's House and we spent the night together.  It was awesome, because he was in a great mood the entire evening. 

At his request, we ate dinner at Martin's BBQ Joint on Belmont Blvd. (where he ate his standard grilled cheese sandwich AND chicken tenders, which is a recent development).  Then, we stopped in at Bongo Java to see who was working (Rachel and Hunter) and say hello.  We walked across the street to Belmont U., rode the upstairs and threw the football in the atrium outside the Curb Center.  Just like in times past with J.P., students walking by smiled as Joe called penalties on me and solemnly announced them to the pretend "crowd" or punctuated a touchdown by spiking the football.  We checked downstairs to see if anyone was playing racquetball, looked in "Twana's store" (I wonder where she is) then drove home.

Joe and I watched a video of the song "Happy" on the iPad, then read two books.  Next, it was upstairs to brush his teeth and get his pajamas on, all without a bit of fussing.  We read another book, then I put him to bed on his "big boy" mattress on the floor (converting his toddler bed frame to a double bed frame is an ongoing project of Jude's).  He went right to sleep.  Amazing.

That's Joe Time and I love it.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekend Update

Since this is, of course, Nashville, I'm sitting on the side porch at 10:38 p.m., wearing shorts and a t-shirt in 65 degree weather.  This time last week, there was 7 inches of snow on the ground.  Go figure. 

I just finished a 5 mile night run in the 'hood, which is longer than I've run in a while.  I felt good and strong, which is nice.  I still have some lingering pain in my right hip, but I've grown to accept the fact that unless I embark on a legitimate stretching/strengthening plan, I just may have to deal with it when I run.  I ran my old 5 mile "Graybar" route, much as I used to when we lived on Elliott Avenue.  I just started and finished at Linden Avenue. 

It was strange to run by our old house and see a Christmas wreath still on the front door.  The new owner still hasn't moved in, although there have been workers there pretty regularly.  My old maple tree is there, of course, and she's had some flowers planted in the garden, but there's not furniture in the house.  It makes me sad, I guess, to think of how alive that house was with laughter, tears and everything in between for more than a decade, yet now it's silent day after day.  In a weird way, I wonder if the house is lonely with no one living there inside it. 

This weekend the NHL All-Star Game was in Nashville.  J.P., Joe and I took it all in, from Fan Fair on Saturday afternoon, to the Skills Competition on Saturday evening, to the all-star game in its new 3-on-3 format Sunday late afternoon.  Jude didn't have any interest in going, so it was just the three of us hanging out together, which was fun. 

We had good seats in the lower bowl (section 109, A, 1-3), which gave the boys a close up look at a lot of the action.  We saw the Predators' own Shea Weber defend his title Saturday night in the hardest shot contest with a 108.3 mph slap shot into the net right in front of us.  This afternoon, we saw Jaromir Jagr, a first ballot hall of famer, score a goal on a nifty move.  That was really cool.  We also saw John Scott, voted on to the western division all-star team by the fans as a prank, score a pair of goals and win the MVP (also by fan vote).  Fantastic.

When the third 3-on-3 game started (Atlantic vs. Pacific, I think), Joe and I decided to go for a walk to look for team mascots.  Periodically, they had been roaming through the concourse and into the stands.  I lifted Joe onto my shoulders - his latest thing is he loves to ride on my shoulders - and we walked in a circle around the inside of the Bridgestone Coliseum.  Suddenly, up ahead, I saw a big, bright blue mascot.  It was the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot.  He gave Joe a hug, then kneeled down with his arm around Joe so I could take a picture with my cell phone.

We continued on our walk, when Joe (back on my shoulders) yelled out, "Daddy, there's one!" and pointed to the left, in an entrance to a section of seats.  Sure enough, there was a hairy, orange mascot - Youpe - the Montreal Canadians mascot.  We walked over to him and waited until he turned around to face us.  He saw Joe and before I could say anything, he scooped him up in the air, cradled him in his arms and posed for a picture.  A moment in time captured forever.  Good stuff.

At one point during the game, as I sat there between my boys watching the best hockey players in the world, I marveled at how lucky I am to have two sons who love sports as much as I do.  It's pretty special.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter Olympics '16

It didn't get much above freezing today, so the 7 inches or so of know Winter Storm Jonah was kind enough to leave us with yesterday morning is still here.  J.P. and Joe especially have enjoyed sledding down 15th Avenue, right in front of our house.

This morning, J.P. realized he could get more speed by sledding down the hill on his back - skeleton style - as opposed to sitting in it.  

Joe prefers to ride down the hill in the sled with Jude, sitting in front of her. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Top 10 Run

I think I've written this before, but a lot of what running is to me is a never ending quest for the perfect run, or at the very least, what I call a "top 10 run."  It's that simple, for me anyway.  

It's really the secret answer to the question I get from time to time - "Why do you like to run?" or "Why do you run so much?"  It's the best answer I can give to the question, anyway.  

If I run 100 times in a given year, I consider myself lucky if I have 2 or 3 "top 10 runs."  I think those type of runs are hard to come by because there are so many variables that all have to be in the right place, working together, for me to have a "top 10 run."  

My mood is important.  Am I happy and content?  How do I feel, physically? (although I've learned to live with a fairly constant amount of pain in my low back and right hip)  Am I worried about anything in particular - family, work, etc?  Is anything in my life bothering me or nagging at my psyche?  What is the weather like?  Do I have the right gear for particular run?  Is the podcast I'm listening to captivating (B.S. Report nee Bill Simmons Podcast, This American Life, The Lowe Post, WTF w/Marc Maron.  Am I in a hurry, trying to squeeze a run in, or do I have plenty of time?  Am I tired?  

See, there's a lot of moving parts.  Don't get me wrong, I can still have good runs if my mind, mood and body are not right, so to speak.  I just can't have great, or "top 10 runs," the kind of runs I'm always looking for. 

Today, I had a "top 10 run."  We woke up this morning to giant snowflakes falling from the sky, like the fake snow you see on television or in Broadway plays.  The snow quickly accumulated on the ground as it became apparent we were in the midst of a "winter event."  Winter storm Jonah, as it were.  

When the boys and Jude went down for a nap this afternoon, about 3:00 p.m., I decided to head out for a run.  In 30 degree weather with snow falling and 7 inches of snow on the ground.  In shorts w/my lightweight running mittens I've had for 20 + years and get to use a couple times a year).  Damn, just the way I like it. 

I ran down Belmont Blvd. to David Lipscomb, then across campus.  It was breathtakingly gorgeous with brilliant white snow covering the ground everywhere I looked.  Tree limbs along the route sagged low, laden with snow.  The snow fell almost in crystals, stinging my face as I ran.  I wasn't at all cold, although the wind blew in my face as I made my way back up Granny White Pike/12th Avenue.  

I felt strong, alive and more like me then I've felt in a while.  It's easy, it seems, to lose myself - to lose who I am - in the busy and sometimes mundane details of daily work and family life.  A run like I had today helps me find myself again.  I'm not sure how or why, but it does.  And it did today.

Snow Day

I have to post, as I'm sitting at Frothy Monkey in 12South just before 9:00 a.m., watching the snow fall outside.  It's beautiful.  I'm trying to get a little work in before I meet Jude and the boys at Sevier Park for some sledding.

We went to bed last night unsure of what it would look like outside when we woke up.  J.P. came down this morning, about 6:30 a.m., and opened the plantation shutters in our bedroom.  Outside, the ground was covered in snow and giant, gorgeous snowflakes were falling from the sky.  Incredible.

Winter Storm Jonah, in spite of conflicting weather reports and predictions of how much snow we would get in Nashville, has delivered big time!  We're going to get 4-5 inches, I think, of a wet, pretty snow perfect for making snowman and having snowball fights.  Fantastic!

I started in to work, quickly realized it wasn't worth the risk to try to get to Franklin, and detoured over to Frothy Monkey (Bongo Java was closed) to have a cup of coffee and work for a while.  It's one of those mornings where every song on their playlist is one I like - Peace Train, Here Comes the Sun, and on and on.

Morning office indeed.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Harlem Globetrotters

It's a 13 degree Monday morning (which I love) and I'm at 8th & Roast early.  I was able to get out of the house with everyone still sleeping, as it's MLK Day and Jude is off work.  She's taking the boys to an open Predators' practice at the Ford Ice Center followed by an open skate.  J.P. is excited about the prospect of trying out the ice skates he got from Santa Claus.

Jude and I took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters Friday evening and I really wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind.  

We had great seats (thanks to Jude), on the 6th row on the sideline at Bridgestone Arena.  Before the game, we had dinner with friends (parent's of J.P.'s Children's House/USN buddies) at Chago's Cantina.  The arena was packed with parents and children, all excited to see the Globetrotters.

Now, I don't have a recollection of seeing the Harlem Globetrotters as a child.  I was, of course, well aware of how they were - Meadowlark Lemon, Curley Neal, etc. - such is the appeal of their worldwide brand.  I also knew, even as a child, that at some point Wilt Chamberlain had played for them.  But I had never seen them in person.

Suffice to say, the Globetrotters did not disappoint.  There was along introduction of the players and several gags before the game started.  I was worried J.P. might be getting bored, because he didn't quite understand the game was part of a larger "show."  I don't think he realized, at first, that the players would clown around so much.  As that concept sunk in, it was special to watch J.P. and Joe (who were sitting between Jude and me) laugh uproariously at the Globetrotters' antics.  Several times, Jude and I exchanged glances over the tops of the boys' heads, laughing ourselves at their amusement over the antics of Ant, Bull, Thunder, Stretch, etc.

The funniest and sweetest thing to me, though, is that J.P. bought into the story hook, line and sinker. He absolutely had no idea that the Globetrotters were destined to win.  In a storyline that was akin to a professional wrestling match, the World All-Star Team's coach found a "game changing rule book" at halftime and proceeded to use it have Globetrotters ejected throughout the second half.  J.P. got angrier and angrier every time the referee made a Globetrotter leave the court.  Then, he got worried, when he realized the Globetrotters would have to forfeit the game if they didn't have enough players to finish.  

J.P.'s demeanor changed from pensive to mortified when Ant (the modern day Meadowlark Lemon) was injured and limped to the locker room.  The Globetrotters were down to five players.  The last straw for him was when the World All-Star Team's coach, playing the role of "heel" to the hilt, changed the scoreboard.  A Globetrotter - Firefly, I think - got caught trying to change the scoreboard back, as a result of which he was ejected.  The Globetrotters had four players left and it appeared a forfeit was imminent.  J.P.'s hands were on his head and he was on the verge of tears.  Priceless.

Suddenly, Ant came limping out to the court from the locker room, to the roar of an adoring crowd.  He grabbed the microphone at mid-court, told the crowd the game would continue, then snatched the "game changing rule book" from the World All-Star Team's coach.  "This isn't a rule book!" he shouted.  "It's your diary!"  And with that, the Globetrotters who had been ejected took off their sweats and rejoined the game.  The Globetrotters won in the last seconds and the winning streak continues. 

What a night!  Rights of passage like these are treasures, to be sure.  J.P. was particularly delighted when I told him that the Instagram photo of him watching the game (above) had been "liked" by Stretch within minutes of my taking it (of course, Stretch was on the floor signing autographs when he somehow managed to "like" the photo.  That's just part of the magic of the Harlem Globetrotter experience.  Through midday Saturday, J.P. had me check repeatedly and report back to him on which Globetrotters "liked" his photo (several did, actually).

Magic, pure magic.