Go Cubs, Go

I grew up in a baseball-cheering family. My dad grew up on the outskirts of New York City and absorbed Yankee mania. I first remember listening to games when I was maybe four or five. By that time we lived in Pennsylvania and we were Pirate fans. Well, Dad was become a Pirate fan and so by osmosis, so was I.

Dad had a shortwave radio and sometimes at night, I would go to sleep listening to some random game between two obscure (to us) teams like the Cardinals and the Dodgers.

And so by the time we moved to Illinois and by the time the school took all the fifth grade safety patrols to a Cubs game, I was immersed in the rules and easily picked up on what was happening. What was happening was the Cubs played the Pirates, Ernie Banks hit a home run, the Cubs won and Ernie became my hero.

That was it. I was a Cubs fan. And I remained a Cubs fan though I married a Pirates fan, we lived in the middle of Tiger fans and then lived in the middle of Brewer fans. So the rule was – if the Cubs played the Pirates, Ken cheered for the Pirates – any other time he cheered for the Cubs and vice versa. Or if Cubs were playing the Tigers or Brewers, we cheered for the Cubs – any other time we cheered for the Tigers or Brewers. Yes, we had a strict baseball-cheering system.

Once or twice a summer (as a kid), we’d get in the car and drive to Wrigley Field. Because  no one really came to the games in those days (Cubs were a sad team), we could easily find parking and buy tickets.

When we lived in Racine, we occasionally brought the kids down to games (and Kelli physically ran into Harry Carey or wait, Harry Carey ran into her).

Since I’m back in the area I again get to one or two games a year.

And I’ve gotten to some cool games …

We were at the Lee Smith game with the “immaculate deflection” play (that’s what it’s called).

We were at the game where Billy Williams broke the record for most consecutive games played. (Cincinnati)

We were at the one where the Cubs and the Brewers were vying for a place in the playoffs – Brewers were winning until two outs in the ninth and Cubs rallied and won. (Talking about screaming fans!)

Being there is fun. Getting there is crazy.

I do not mind driving in the city. I do mind parking in the city.

We have done driving, remote parking, nearby parking lot (say $30 – $40), Redline, bus from suburban shopping mall and taxi. None are ideal. Unlike many ballparks, Wrigley is in a residential area with no parking lot. But at the same time, we have always managed to actually get to the game.

Just beware – if you’ve never been there.

Once you arrive, the neighborhood is chaos. People everywhere, swarming around, trying to sell you tickets or buy your tickets, or offering you ice water (don’t believe that part about there being no bottled water in the stadium),  or programs.

Like any stadium/museum these days, you have to grow through security – actually twice. They checked out bags and then you put your stuff in another container and go walk through the metal detector machine (which for some reason, I had to walk through four times – have no idea why).

And then you’re inside. You feel people jostling against you as everyone wants to get where they’re going. You smell the mixture of hotdogs, nachos and peanuts. You hear surround sound snippets of conversation.

My first game.

Where is our seats?

Let’s get some food.

Who’s pitching”

Stay with me! Don’t get lost. I’ll never find you.

And then you walk up the ramp and into the bright sunlight. You see the iconic field, ivy on the wall. Sandberg, Banks, Williams (plus) flags flying, the guys warming up on the grass.

You find your way to your seat and you relax …

Friday’s game was just about perfect (for a ballgame).

Kyle Hendricks pitched (my favorite pitcher). Ben Zobrist (a favorite) led off with a hit and then came through with a bases-loaded double – which pushed the Cubs ahead. Kris Bryant (another favorite) followed behind with another hit. Now, if Steve Cishek had pitched …

And they won.

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If only Steve Cishek had pitched – the day would’ve been complete.
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The new Gallagher Way
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The crowds!
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My favorite pitcher.
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The national anthem.
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Gorgeous day!
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Ready to play!
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Hendricks pitching
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Ben Zobrist, after hitting a bases-loaded double, is on second base … no, wait, he’s on third base, just wandered over there for a little conversation. But wait again – the Giants were done discussing whatever they were discussing and he wanders back to second.
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Okay – this was impressive – none of the other players were out there, but Zobrist was signing autographs and more autographs – this was about half the crowd size it was at first. He did quit soon after I took the picture.

 

 

Morton Arboretum on a Spring Afternoon

I got a cool Christmas present this year – given to me by my in-laws, picked out by my daughter – a pass to the Morton Arboretum.

Morton Arboretum is 1,700 acres in Lisle, Illinois founded by Joy Sterling Morton. Mr. Morton’s father founded Arbor Day. Mr. Joy Morton, himself,  not only developed the Arboretum but also started the Morton Salt Company,

The main focus of the Morton Arboretum is … trees. The 1700 acres have 222,000 plants of all kinds. I could say a lot more … and probably will because I’m sure I’ll be back.

So since Christmas I’ve wanted to go … first it was cold and then it was snowy and then I had a lot of writing assignments to do … and then spring happened and we’ve had rain and rain and rain.

And then we had a beautiful afternoon and I took advantage of the opportunity.

Here are some of the pictures I took.  (Other trips, I’ll focus more on identification, etc.)

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Eating Our Way Up North

IMG_9615.jpgLast weekend Carter and I headed north to hear Elizabeth perform for solo and ensemble (as I said in my last post).

IMG_9612Before we went, I checked out some local restaurants that might be fun to try.

IMG_9613On the way to Steven’s Point, I found a cheesy option which I thought was appropriate being that we were in Wisconsin and all. The place had several different varieties of mac and cheese – that was their specialty – hence their name. Neither Carter nor I were very hungry, so we split a bowl – well, actually a mini cast-iron frying pan of the classic cheese – nothing fancy.

And that’s kind of how IMG_9611it tasted. Even though it is considered the #3 best restaurant out of 130 restaurants in Wisconsin Dells, it was rather cheesily bland. The macaroni was drenched in a creamy sauce. Maybe I just don’t like creamy sauces. We ate it, but were glad we didn’t order separate servings. (And I’m guessing some of their fancier dishes are more tasty.)

You order at the counter and take your dish to a seat  (or maybe the server brings it to you – I really can’t remember)- so semi-kind of, fast food.

Maybe it was #3 restaurant  – I haven’t been to the other 130. I’d give it a six out of 10. I did like the decor. Very Wisconsinish.


Once we got to Stevens Point, we were asked to meet the others at Hilltop Pub and Grill. (#4 of 91 in S.P. according to Trip Advisor). IMG_9617Cindy’s parents had heard it was a great place for Friday Night Fish Fry (definitely a Wisconsin thing).

I still wasn’t hungry (not feeling 100%) so had something simple – but most of the family got the fish fry. So, I did eat a couple pieces of Cindy’s fish and it was super good. Carter had the chicken tenders and said they were similar to what he’s had other places. But everyone truly thought the fish delicious.. Good recommendation.

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Various members of several sides of the family.

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IMG_9646Another restaurant that interested me was the Wooden Chair.  (Trip Advisor – 3 of 91). So after the Saturday competition we headed over.

The restaurant opened in 1993, but is located in a bank building from 1891. (Seems like I have been in several banks turned restaurants.) A lot of the structure/decor reflects the bank.

Jeff, Cindy, Carter, Elizabeth and I were the ones who ate here and we all got something different. Everyone seemed to enjoy their food. I was feeling better, so I got a BLT. The IMG_9650sandwich was absolutely delicious! I like BLTs and eat them a lot – especially on road trips – but this one was extra good – moist with a lot of bacon. I wished we lived closer so I could try some other foods. (I was still eating cautiously.)

The walls were brick and very old-time bankish – which I also liked.

And I had to smile at Carter and Elizabeth playing games with the creamer containers. Anyone who ever went out to eat with my dad knows how he had a whole series of games with the creamers – getting points for landing one upright, etc. These two never met my dad, but his DNA was evident in their choice of activities.

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All I can say is, their great-grandfather would’ve been proud of them.

 

An Eerie Evening Walk

IMG_9628To prepare for a quick trip to Stevens Point with Carter, I searched on the internet for things to do/see that would interest me and a 14-year-old boy.

That’s how I found the Stevens Point Sculpture Garden. By the time we got to S.P. , met the rest of the family for dinner, and then checked out the performing arts center on the UW campus (where Elizabeth was to perform Saturday morning), the sky was beginning to darken.

I put the address in the GPS and we headed out. But Siri just left us with “find a place to park and walk to your destination.”  However, there was no place to park and no clue as to where the destination was.

So after riding around some more and after the sky getting even darker, we went back to the hotel, picked up Jeff And Elizabeth, and headed out again. This time I put Zenoff Park in the GPS because I guess that the Sculpture Park is inside of Zenoff Park – but if you don’t know that – the directions get very confusing.

All this to say that by the time we found it, the evening light was fading. The trees were  leafless and the ground brown and muddy. Parts were flooded from the recent rain. This was the night’s aesthetic as we wandered the trail and looked at strange formations in the dusk. The pictures do not even do justice to the eeriness of our walk.

I am sure if we did the same walk on a sunny summer morning, the perspective would be a lot different.

If you’re in Stevens Point, I would recommend it for a place to get some exercise – however, although we did not get bitten by an army of bugs  (maybe a little early in the season) – reviewers say the place has a multitude of ticks and mosquitos – which I believe because of the boggy areas. So beware.