Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Compulsive Scoring: Japan Edition

Another one for serious baseball fans only.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 5-6, Day 7-8: DC to Shenandoah National Park

June 5-6, Day 7-8: DC to Shenandoah National Park and then E-Ville

I'm afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning.

He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious.

Pics: from Shenandoah NP, and THB one last time, hard at work

Up early, the Tadue household is on the move: Mack is off to Philadelphia for a weekend with family and a presentation at Drexel on Monday; Chris is going to work; Rachel is sleeping in, and Bev is making us all omelets for breakfast. We eat outside again, at 8am it is perfect, as is the breakfast.

We chug off to get supplies for lunch, and drive to the north-most entrance to Shenandoah National Park, about 1.5 hours away. We have our annual pass ready to go when the ranger tells us the Park is free this weekend. Hard to understand in this economy the feds giving anything away!

We get our NP passport stamped and head out for what is supposed to be less than a mile each way hike, which turns into a 3.6 mile round trip. It’s worth it; the turn around point is a great spot for a picnic lunch: the setting is a large vista to the west, no thunderstorms in sight, a breeze coming up to the ridge, and it’s only 74 degrees out. Baguette, apples, cheese, candy bar left over from the Priory, tap water, $10.

We check in to the Skyland lodge and while DB settles in I take a hike to the highest point in the park, Stony Man Point. Along the way, I get very close to a deer (see blurry close-up) and not too close to a small black bear (see the dot in the forest). There are a number of azalea and laurel trees in bloom, and a smattering of wild flowers.

Emilie has given us a great tip: book a room on the second floor overlooking the valley to the west ($140/night). And, it has definitely cooled off so we can sit outside with a vast (though hazy) vista and enjoy a drink. Dinner: two salads, rare salmon and pork tenderloin, three drinks, $85.

June 6, Day 8: Shenandoah National Park to E-ville

I'm bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is "In 15 minutes everybody will be famous."

If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be.

Up early to take a hike or two before we head to the airport. Breakfast of ceral with berries, $8.

We see a bear on the way to the first hike, right near the Skyland Lodge. This bear is a lot closer than the one I saw the day before, however this time we are in a car, a fairer match of skills and capabilities (though it is a rental car with 38k miles on it, so maybe not a fair match at all).

Two short hikes, one to a waterfall, the other through a forest of primarily dogwoods in bloom. The hemlock are dying off here as the beetles migrate north faster than the trees can develop a resistance. This is mostly due to the rapid climate change, enabling the beetles to move into areas where the cooler winter climate could keep them at bay. There’s even a prevention, it requires someone touching every hemlock, so ain’t gonna happen.

Finish up, shower (no detail too mundane for THB), lunch at nice spot in Warrenton called Claire’s (omelet, chicken curry salad, fresh scones, $40), and wait in the airport with the Sunday NYT. Flight delayed because of…all together now…thunderstorms in the east.

June 4, Day 6: DC

June 4, Day 6: DC

I used to think that everything was just being funny but now I don't know. I mean, how can you tell?

I never said most of the things I said.

Pics: THB hard at work at Nats Park (courtesy of Bev), DB hits another art jewelry gallery, Nationals ballpark including DB and Honcho Howard.

We take a hot, steamy walk to Pain Quotidien for breakfast, strolling a gorgeous Betheseda neighborhood. It is clear that a lot of the houses has been given the roid treatment and pumped up. As Bev explains, they are tearing down the old, smaller houses and building big new ones (BIG!) on these big lots, and selling them for around $2 million. That’s what just happened to the house behind them, the house is now in escrow. The lots are so big that even with a big house, there’s plenty of room for a nice yard and distance from neighbors. Breakfast flutes, muffin, berries, cafĂ© au lait (one, tooooo hot for me), $25.

We decide to repeat some of our trip to DC of 2.5 years ago; unfortunately nothing can be done about repeating the sub-30 degree weather, we are now in the low 90s with high humidity. First stop is Jewelerswerk, our only art jewelry stop of the trip. Bev is making jewelry now, and she and DB are connected on many levels. DB makes a purchase (in the pic, you might be able to see her new necklace).

One anecdote: it’s a small store, and at one point the owner takes a phone call and starts discussing the ups and downs of her daughter’s testing skills in what I can only guess is lower school (the owner is clearly an “old” mom). Besides the call being annoying to listen to, it also makes me realize how great it is to have grown up children and move on to totally different concerns, grown up concerns about jobs, money, partners, kids of their own, and most of which are now theirs to worry about and not mine (DB says moms cannot move on, the ties are too strong…or put another way, dads never get started on the concern path, so don’t have to hop off later!).

In the gallery district, we go to Rice for lunch, a mostly Thai spot, and share larb gai (diced chicken on lettuce leaves), green tea dumplings (great!), and veggie pad thai (excellent), and two Arnold Palmers, $45.

We stop in a few galleries, and then in a little small space chat up a guy who is doing lots of small projects around the country related to the confluence of art and helping foster community and sustainable eating. He’s heard the author of Farm City, Novella Carpenter, talk; her book takes place near us in Oakland (a great read, highly recommended), knows about Outstanding in the Field (not a non-profit!), and small urban gardens (like the one Joel has created out our back window in E-ville).

Back to Bethesda on the Metro (an aged version of Bart), and then out to the ballpark. Lots of traffic, so THB is making Bev and DB crazy about getting there only 1 hour early. Mack is smart, he takes the Metro from work! We arrive, and the tour begins.

We interrupt this blog to announce that the game was NOT rain delayed. It did rain during the game, at Bev and Mack’s house! Somehow, we have fooled the god of thunder (for one day).

The Nationals ballpark: no sponsor! It has 4 levels, a very large first level, a bit of grass in centerfield for the hitters’ background, and a few bronze statues beyond left field. One of the three is DB’s favorite player from the good old days: Frank Honcho Howard, who still holds the career record for homers by a Washington ballplayer (and here I thought it was Tab Hunter).

It’s almost full, the largest crowd since opening night, 33,000 here for fireworks (and anticipating the #1 draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, might be making his major league debut: people have been buying up tickets for the entire homestand. Didn’t happen for us, he starts next week.). I liked Comerica and PNC parks better, though not by much.

We had great seats, bought off Craigslist. We are right behind home plate in the second deck. Cushions built into the seats! Air conditioned concession stand behind us. Damn nice! Speciality food: a soft, chewy, oily, salty pretzel from Noahs; not bad, though pricey at $5.25 each. Kielbasa with kraut, Italian sausage (with everything), two beers (no micro-brews, DB unsuccessfully scoured the stadium for some), and a gratefully found and retrieved Gifford’s ice cream mid-game, total $40.

The game: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, did the game go on and on and on in the heat and humidity. The Reds (the FIRST place Reds, a phrase not heard in many a year) are in town, and the Nats color is red, so it isn’t easy to tell the teams apart. Harang and Livan were their usual throw-a-ton-of-pitches selves, and tons of runners, most of whom did not score. Slowwwwwwww. Many pitching changes, two different times for just one batter.

Two outfield plays made the difference: in the 7th, the Reds leftfielder dropped an easy one and two runs scored as a result. Two batters later, there was a sac fly, and the Nats shortstop got thrown out after the umps conferred and overruled a safe call at third base (needless to say, we still have no idea what happened to get the umps to confer, since they seemed to decide to do so on their own).

The other big play: Micah Owings (great hitting pitcher, now used in relief) hits for himself in a big situation and slaps a liner down the right field line and the Nats right fielder made a great sliding catch to prevent two runs (phew…..we are all praying to the other non-thunder gods to avoid extra innings at all costs).

Game time: Over three and a half longgggg hours, without the Nats batting in the bottom of the ninth. Shades of playoff games or any Yankees – Red Sox matchup.

Finally the game ends, ten minutes to get ready, and a delightful, short, fireworks show, with music playing by local E-ville band, Green Day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 3, Day 5: Pittsburgh – Ohiopyle - DC

June 2, Day 5: Pittsburgh – Ohiopyle - DC

In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

I'm a lucky guy and I'm happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.

Pics: Fallingwater (and upper guest residence) and Kentuck Knob, sculpture from around Kentuck Knob including a piece of the Berlin wall, various road work

Take a tip from Mort and head towards Fallingwater on the way from PNC Park to Nationals Park. Because we put it off too long, we can’t make a tour of the house fit, so we buy a “stroll the grounds” ticket and take pictures. The house was commissioned by the Kaufmanns, who owned a major department store chain in this area (note quote above), when Frank was in his late 60s to early 70s (or so).

Heading south, we go through Ohiopyle, a mecca for kayakers and bikers; even in mid-week, there are a lot of cars parked here. There is a bike trail that runs for 17 miles one way and 11 the other, and lots of people must hop on here.

A very short ride to Kentuck Knob, interrupted by road repair (see pic), reminding us of home. This house is also a FLW design, commissioned when Frank was in his mid-80s and built in the 1950s for the Hagans, owners of a local ice cream company. Mrs. Hagan sold the house to Lord Palumbo, a British Baron, 15 years ago (or so), and he has created a sculpture garden in the meadow below the house.

We tour the house, which is built into the side of a hill just below the “knob” of the hill. The house radiates around a rather small hexagon housing the kitchen area: there is a giant living room, smallish dining area, and three small bedrooms on the east side of the house (to catch the morning light, a FLW trademark we’re told), and a great veranda facing south. The original design was for 1200sq ft, the Hagans negotiated an additional 1000 sq ft, most of which must have ended up in the living room.

We meander around the house and down to the meadow. Much of the sculpture are made by British artists we don’t recognize. However, there is a small Serra (must be a maquette; nothing special) and two Goldsworthy’s, both in his typical style (and made from local stone, as was the house).

Back to Ohiopyle for lunch: chicken sandwich, veggie gyro, lemonades, $20. Of note: the town is undergoing major road work, including right in front of the grill we’re eating at (see pic), another reminder of home.

We drive to Bethesda, just outside of DC, to spend two nights with Bev and Mack, a couple we became friends with when we spent three days together hiking in Patagonia (with Sharry and Alec), staying at the Remota Hotel in Puerto Natales. This is the second time we've stayed with them, the first was 2.5 years ago in January, a very cold January!

Well, what do you know; a thunderstorm arrives in the early evening. Fortunately, it clears up, the skewers go on the grill, and we have a great evening dining on the deck, complete with fire flies (a first for me, at least in my recorded memory).

Friday night is projected to be clear, hot (very hot for us), and the game is followed by fireworks, a bonus!