Monday, September 26, 2011

Cooperstown: The Non-Baseball Parts

Yvonne with the Great Pumpkin.  Yep, Pumpkinfest 2011: We Were There.

Cooperstown sits on a big lake.  It's real purty.

Back to the pumpkins.  At the big weigh-off on Saturday, local businesses buy a pumpkin and sponsor it in the Pumpkin Regatta.  On Sunday, they paint them, hollow them out like canoes then race 'em in the lake!

With some time to kill before the regatta, we snuck in some birding at Goodyear Swamp, on the opposite end of the lake.  Four positive IDs in one hour; Yvonne spotted some good ones.

Another view of the wetlands.  Lovely, right?


We made it back in time for the second of three races.  That pumpkin in front -- the Hampton Inn pumpkin -- crushed it.

Other highlights:  The sweet old inn where we stayed (the photos don't do it justice), the one traffic light in town, and seeing the tourist who broke the color barrier! 

Cooperstown in Pictures* (*Mostly)

The Hall of Fame is a serious place.  They spell "Museum" with "v"s!

At the Bambino's locker.  As you'll see below, I loved the Hall.  But this seems like a good place to express a beef:  all the goods are behind glass.  I get it.  It's priceless stuff, you don't want it touched or damaged -- but the Met has 500-year-old tapestries hanging al fresco; certainly SOME of the treasures of baseball's past could be en plein air.  It just makes it more immediate, more real.

Re-creating a memorable photo from my '89 trip, inside Hank Aaron's locker.

Yvonne loved how I was loving this section.  They had this whole exhibit on baseball's record books, with lots of fascinating stuff -- like how Ty Cobb's lifetime average of .367 (one of those stats I committed to memory long ago) is actually .366.  Some dude went back and looked at all the official scores from Cobb's career and found that he wasn't charged for a number of at-bats that he should have been, which lowered his official lifetime average.  Insane.

Second place in the day's trivia score.

This is where we took a break after the three-hour mark.  Above is a shot of Yvonne's favorite player, Hideki Matsui.  Yes, this is a photo of a photo of Matsui's face painted on a jumbo jet.  You gotta love the Japanese.  

At the entrance to the Hall itself.  That ethereal glow behind me?  That's greatness.

If I'm gonna rock the Oaks jersey, I gotta give some love to the greatest Oak of all time, Kirby Puckett.  You're my boy, blue!
Addendum: I wasn't the only Visalian "in the Hall."  He doesn't have a plaque, but he does have a mention in the chronology of the game which makes up the main exhibit:  Orval Overall, a pitcher with the 1906 National League Champion Chicago Cubs -- who were, incidentally, led by Fresno-native first baseman-manager Frank Chance (who IS enshrined). 

Addendum #2:  Yvonne was an impeccable sport.  Five (!) hours in the museum and nary a complaint.  Although this did happen over a photo of the first night game, from May 24, 1935...

Me:  That was as good as it would ever get.  It's been all downhill from here.
Yvonne:  Do you even listen to yourself?  The things that come out of your mouth sometimes...
(No one is surprised that my favorite era of baseball pre-dates my birth by a good 40 years though, right?  And I'm not entirely serious about night games...especially after I read the letter that FDR wrote to the Commissioner in 1942 urging him to keep baseball going during the war, and in fact to keep up with the night games so that the boys on the day shift could catch a game.  Love FDR.)

All in all, not a bad way to spend a day!  Thanks, love, for the gift of baseball!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birthday Season, II

Birthday Season swung into high gear today, D-Day, as it were:  cookies at work (some of them were portioned out to the rest of the office, the rest I ate by about 4:30), then a preview screening of Moneyball (thanks, Danielle!) -- the perfect starter to our weekend in COOPERSTOWN!

Oh, did we not mention that we're taking a long weekend upstate to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame?  Because that's totally happening.  It's a combined birthday-anniversary gift from my awesome wife (the first anniversary being the "paper" one, I got a couple of tickets to the Hall back in May).  When I went 22 years ago with my family we spent a solid 3 hours in the museum and I was ready to go back in for more.  We'll see if it holds up this time.  I'm guessing yes.  Yvonne is on photo duty.  She's thrilled.

A word about Moneyball.  Continuing with the tradition that was established in Bull Durham, the town of Visalia once again gets much love in a baseball movie.  Not only does Brad Pitt's character mention our town by name (with the correct pronunciation even -- thanks, Brad!), but some real-game Oaks footage plays a prominent role....and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

V-town rules.

Baseball rules.

Hooray for birthdays!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birthday Season

Sunday commenced the beginning of Birthday Season in the Team Squeen household, which can only mean one thing: Birthday cake. I have made Dan chocolate concoctions in the past, but this year, I went all vanilla all the way.

I think he likes it.

I made his cake a bit early this year since we'll be going away this weekend for a birthday baseball extravaganza (more on that in a later post) and I wanted to make sure we would have time to enjoy it before we left (someone had four slices this evening after his dinner, so enjoyment is definitely in abundance!)

Speaking of enjoyment, we went to see The Lion King in 3D over the weekend which is my favorite Disney movie next to The Little Mermaid. I used to watch it all the time but hadn't seen it in over a decade. I couldn't stop crying. I loved it so much. It's crazy how well I remembered some of those lines considering I am the type of person who can barely recall the plot of a book I read a few months ago. I get very sentimental about the circle of life. Dan, who never saw it before, thought it was a bit cheesy. He doesn't know goodness. Or what cold means. The temperature dropped to the 60s this week, and you would have thought we were experiencing Siberian winter from his reaction. The long underwear are minutes away from being pulled out of the drawers.

Coinciding with birthday season, I am finishing up my summer job this week. I really liked working at this magazine and am bummed to go, but time's up. The life of a freelancer; you never can get too attached to one job. We moved into a new office building on Monday, so for my last week, I have been demoted to a freelance workstation in the corner, a mile from my other co-workers, with my punishment being that I have to stare at this hideous green wall all day.

The window seat is nice, but my eyes hurt looking forward. Maybe it is time to go.

Birthday season, end of a job, cool autumn weather, the circle of life -- it sure feels like change is in the air and great new things are coming our way. I'll be sure to blog about it on a more regular basis. (I hope!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

California Trip in Pictures

First stop: Los Angeles.

We hung out at The Home Depot parking lot (with Ara and Brett). Because that is how we like to spend our vacation.

The egg aisle at Trader Joe's. The perfect place to have a debate about worker's unions. I wonder what side that girl is on?

We had breakfast with Julie L. and checked out her sweet apartment in Beverly Hills.

SQUEEN-MAGEDDON at the Apices' house. I enjoyed my time at this barbecue so much that I only took two so-so pictures. Here's one.

Here's the other. The sunset from Matt and Katie's backyard.

Next, we headed to Visalia.

California fruit. We ate some. Okay, lots.

Meeting the Dom.

The girls showed us their mad piano skills.

Sleeping on the couch. Like father like son.

We hung out with BFFs Teddy and Maddy at Gram and Grandpa's house.

Card sharks

Monica's birthday cake (I made it!)

On our last day, we took a trip to Sequoia National Park.

General Sherman: The mother of all trees.

The birding mania continued.

I got stuck inside a tree.

Then it was time to go back home. That's all!

Monday, September 5, 2011


World's angriest cow.  Just because.

We made it out of New York without a hitch -- exactly as predicted -- a few hours before Hurricane Irene dropped some rain on the city and New Yorkers acted as though they were the first (or maybe just the most important) people to ever weather a hurricane.  Whatever.  By the time the rain really started that day, I'd already had two Mexican meals (if you count Del Taco for one of them, which you should, because it's awesome) in sunny LA.

There's probably no point in giving a blow-by-blow account of the week, especially since I believe vacation is meant to be time off, not packed with plans, even if they're plans for fun.  That is to say we didn't do a whole lot.

Saturday was spent hanging at Brett and Emily's and accompanying them on errands as they prepared for Burning Man.  After they took off on Sunday, Yvonne and I borrowed their car to drive around LA and explore neighborhoods where we might want to live in, oh, say, three months.  (The strong leader in that race is Beachwood Canyon, if we could only find a little detached back house on the cheap.) Sunday night, we went to Apice's because they threw a perfect backyard barbecue to bring together all our friends.

By Monday evening, we were up in V-town for our fourth Mexican meal in three days.  My dad and I were both feeling an entree at our usual joint, Colima, but it felt wrong not to have a burrito, too.  So we did both (we split the burrito, not that that made it any less gross after having had like four baskets of chips).  

The rest of the week was a blur of over-eating, binge-eating and eating to excess.  (I had Yvonne's leftovers from Colima for lunch the next day, plus taco salad that night to bring my Mexican meal total to six.)  Throw in a few visits to the grands, a little motivational speaking to a class of high school seniors (I know!!!), a day of birding at Kaweah Oaks Preserve and a hike through the big trees of Sequoia National Park, and you've got a pretty sweet seven days.

Sweet red-tailed hawk.  Pic by Mom.