Saturday, May 30, 2015

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Ticket for The Quad City River Bandits Baseball team, photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Just buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

I will guess that most of you reading this recognize the words to this song, "Take Me Out to The Ballgame," by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.  They wrote this tune in 1908.  I've got a link to it below and there's some interesting history behind it.  For example, the lyrics above are only the chorus.  There are several verses to the song.  I never knew that, among other things.

It is a song as central to baseball as overpriced hot dogs and long pitching changes.  Traditionally sung between the top and bottom of the 7th inning, it's a crowd favorite.  I've got a link to a version sung by,...well, you'll just have to check it out for yourself, if interested... 

OK, we're back.  I should give a bit of background on this post.  Thursday night (May 28th) was both the local Realtor and Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) night at our minor league ballpark.  For those of us old enough to remember, the stadium was called John O'Donald Stadium.  Now, it is Modern Woodman Park.  Yes, it has gone somewhat commercial.  There is a Ferris wheel in the background, high-end beer and food (with prices to match) and even private suites.  So much for the days of being a big shot were box seats.  

I did get a kick out of seeing that Barefoot wine is the "Wine of minor league baseball."  (Or words to that effect.)  Then again, it's a ballpark and summer.  So ought your beverage be cold?  Oh well, that's just my two cents.

On a more serious note, I love that this ballpark has seats reserved for wounded Veterans.  The area of seating honor is named for a personal hero of mine, Congressman Lane Evans.  He served in the U.S. Marines and continued to serve our nation in Congress for many years.  Despite being an unapologetic liberal, he was well-respected by all and beloved by most.  One of his key issues was supporting Veterans.  It is more than fitting that this sitting area is named after him:

The Lane Evans box for Veterans, photo by J. Berta.

Truth be told, I'm not a huge baseball fan.  My favorite sport, without question, is football, particularly Iowa football.  However, we had a great time at the ball park Thursday night.  When I mean, "we," it was Dawn and the girls.  While Cassie (our eldest) was a good sport, Carly (our youngest) had the time of her life.  She even snagged the most elusive of souvenirs...

The baseball my daughter snagged, signed by The River Bandits mascot, Rascal.  Photo by J. Berta

She did not catch it, instead ran it down in the area off the first base line and snagged it.   Still, it's hers.  She even got it signed by the River Bandits mascot, "Rascal."

Even if you're not a huge fan of baseball, going to the ball park is something special during summer.  Minor league ball parks are a place to enjoy a few hours with family and friends.  It is a way for us to celebrate the "national pastime" (or at least the 21st century version of it) and bask in the glow (sun or neon lights) of the experience.

So take a break from the world and take someone out to the ball game.  You'll be glad you did.

Play ball!

Be well my friends,



Monday, May 25, 2015

The First Left Turn

From Memorial Day, 2014, The Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery.  Photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

Today is Memorial Day.  Originally set for May 30th, it is now observed the last Monday in May.  When first observed, it was to honor the dead from the Civil War.  Now, it is a time to remember all of our military killed in combat.  To say that the holiday has...evolved from its initial observances would be accurate.  Memorial Day now stands at the intersection of the streets of "Somber Remembrance" and "The Start of Summer." 

If you're active on Facebook, you've likely seen a number of posts gently (and not so gently) reminding folks that this is not Veterans' Day, nor just (yippie!) a three-day weekend.  

I don't have any issues with these posts.  I think (myself included) can use a reminder.  In our hyper-in-the-moment world, it is easy to lose perspective. 

Here's a poem by Archibald MacLeish that helped me find that perspective:

The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak by Archibald MacLeish

The young dead soldiers do not speak.

Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: 
who has not heard them? 

They have a silence that speaks for them at night 
and when the clock counts. 

They say: We were young. We have died. 
Remember us. 

They say: We have done what we could 
but until it is finished it is not done. 

They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished 
no one can know what our lives gave. 

They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours, 
they will mean what you make them. 

They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for 
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, 
it is you who must say this. 

We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. 
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

What a fantastic poem.  If you're wondering (as I was) who was Archibald MacLeish, I've got some links to him in the sources.  I could do an entire post on this guy.  However, for today, I'll simply share that he was a American Soldier and poet whose brother, Ken, is one of the young men mentioned in the poem.

However, I do believe perspective is important.  I do not think there is anything wrong with enjoying the day, the weather (even if it's raining, it's not snow) and time with family and friends.  I have every intention to hang out with both groups later today.  If anyone were to spend the entire day engaged in some secular "Shiva sitting" that would be, in my opinion, an unnecessary act of self-denial of time set aside from work and other obligations.

I'd go a step further.  I believe the reason we honor our dead is because they gave their lives for the idea of America.  Of course, that idea includes our form of Government and the freedoms enriched in that structure.  Yet it also includes the concepts of, "...the pursuit of happiness," (Declaration of Independence) and "... a more perfect union," (The U.S. Constitution).  Vague terms that are best given meaning by individuals actually engaged in the process of living their lives.

I'd argue that at the heart of what it means to be an American, to live in this great nation, is the freedom to gather with those who matter most and yes, laugh and smile.  How many people around the world cannot gather for fear of a bomb blast?  How many others gather not in joy, but in squalor, in some wretched refugee camp?  

My friends, we do not have that here.  We do not have that because women and men possessed with courage died to keep such horrors from us.  The died so that if they could not enjoy fellowship, friendship and love, then at least we could.

One of my favorite books is Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.  Although it is a fictionalized tale of the stand of the 300 Spartans against the Persian Army, it is based on history.  I also find it to have some great life lessons.  One of my favorite is towards the end of the book where one of the Spartans answers the question:

"What is the opposite of fear?"

To me, Memorial Day is a time to, in your own way, recall those who did, as Lincoln proclaimed at Gettysburg, "...gave the last full measure of devotion..."  After paying that tribute, then enjoy the day.  I know many Veterans and have heard many express this same sentiment.

I would suggest that if you have a flag, please fly it today.  This is one of the national holidays to fly it.  I put a link below to the other times. In many communities, local groups will put up a flag for you.  I love the look in my community of seeing street lined with Old Glory.  For me, I like putting out my own flag.  

Our flag in front of our house on Memorial Day 2015.  Photo by J. Berta.

Speaking of the flag, My friend Mikel shared this on Facebook yesterday of Robin Williams.  I think it is just super.  If anyone takes offense from this, well, then please watch it again.  I see it as a wonderful marriage of humor and honor.  Let us also recall that that Williams was the Bob Hope of this generation for entertaining the troops on countless USO tours.  To me, his patriotism credentials are beyond reproach.  

Oh, sorry, here's the video:

I'm going to close out this blog post with a poem I wrote about today.  As I've said before, I consider myself, at best, a bar stool poet.  However, I've had this poem in my head for a while and wanted to get it onto paper (or at least a WORD.DOC).  When we think of today, by all means, let us honor the fallen.  Yet let us also remember those they left behind.  For whom, their laughter will never be quite as loud, their smile never quite as wide, since the moment they learned their loved one had perished under our flag.

The setting for this poem is The National Cemetery at the Rock Island Arsenal.  It is a place that will be visited my many like the person featured in this poem.

The First Left Turn by Jeno Berta

The car slows, a green light flashes.
It makes the first left turn, past the gate,
Entering a place of honor, a place of peace.

An aged hand shifts the car into park, removing the keys.
The other hand opens the door, the same hand with a ring,
A ring given decades ago.
For a promise made, for a promise kept.

With effort, the car door opens.
Legs worn with age touch the ground.
The same ground walked countless times.

Slowly, yet with purpose, she walks to a simple stone.
From a distance, it looks like all the others.
To her, there is no other. 

In silence, she stares, she prays.
A tear glides down a wrinkled cheek.
She closes her eyes, so she can see him.

He, a young man, trim and proud.
In a uniform, with buttons bright in the summer sun.
How they dazzled that day, their wedding day.

There was no lovey honeymoon, no fancy trip out of town.
No one had money for such things back then.
Besides, he was leaving soon.  Too soon.
Off to war, away from her. 

Then one day, her doorbell rang.
She knew.   She knew before she answered the door.

They brought him home, laid him to rest.  
To his funeral, many came.
To his grave, few still do.

But she comes. 
To see his name.
To touch the stone.
To remember.

And for as long as she is able, she will continue,

Continue to make that first left turn.

To remember is to honor.

Be well my friends,



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Where The Time Goes

The calendar in our kitchen, how we track where our time goes.  Photo by J. Berta

"This is where the time goes in an ordinary town."

Lyrics from the 90s Alt-Rock band Sugar, their song, "Believe What You're Saying."

Greetings All:

In addition to the posts I have published, I've got a production.  Or, put another way, ones that I have started and for whatever reason, never finished.  This is one I started way back in January.  Yup, that long ago.

Here's the initial commentary of this post:

"It's a Tuesday night here in Bettendorf, Iowa.  It's a balmy 8 degrees (sans chill 'd wind).  Early this evening, there was much rejoicing in our home that school is cancelled due to the (ahem) inclement weather we're experiencing here in the Iowa

Who am I kidding?  It's (expletive-deleted) cold. 

Then again, I'm in a warm house, with plenty of light.  I've got my family with me and thanks to the internet, I've got a bunch of browsers open.  One's Facebook (no surprise there) and on another Peter Gabriel and Paula Cole are singing. 

Here is where my time is going, and as for ordinary, fine, I'll take it.

The song lyrics I quoted at the beginning are from a band that I stumbled across in law school.  The lead singer and (I don't think it's a stretch to say) the heart and soul of the band, Bob Mould, wrote this tune.  It is both heart-breaking and somewhat stoic as anything out of the 90s could be."

This post has been resting comfortably in the drafts folder for four months.  How the time goes indeed, it's already May.

And here's where we are as I write this blog post.  Photo by J. Berta

Time goes by and winds only one way, forward.  I will  venture to guess you are like me, lamenting there are not, (wait for it) more hours in the day.  Regrets, there are not.

There has been an explosion in the "peak performance" industry.  The artifact that was the palm pilot of the 90s has been replaced by the smart phone/tablet world of "apps" that can help you better track your events, and manage your life.  The latest edition to my world of "self/tech help" is the Fitbit.  (This device, linked conveniently to my iPhone, helps track steps and sleep and your calorie consumption.  (I've...declined to engage in that degree of candid fitness analysis, at least for now.  Sometimes, ignorance, while not bliss, is more comfortable than the brutal truth.)  For those of you who are curious as to what it looks like, here it is:

My Fitbit, photo by J. Berta.

These things are great.  I do believe they can empower us to be more productive.  However, to paraphrase the fictional Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, such things, "...are only a tool."  We still have to do the work.  Part of the work, the job description, is to decide what to do.  Quoting one of my favorite song writers, Bob Seger's song, "Against The Wind," "What to leave in, what to leave out."

There is an author, Laura Vanderkam, whose written a series of books and articles about how successful people manage their lives.  I am impressed with her honest, yet not preachy, approach to this subject.  Oh, and by the way, she has four (very young) kids and is a regular runner.

This is someone who I will listen to when it comes to managing time.  I have a link to her site below.  I also have listened to most of her books and find there is lots of good advice in them.  It's not stuff we haven't heard before, it is just presented in a different way.  I have a link to an article she wrote about folks who attempt to crank out a novel in a month.  I invite you to read it, even if you do not have the ambition to write a book.     

This was posted on my friend Gina group's Facebook page about this photo of Mr. Jim "Pee Wee" Martin.  In a few weeks, it will be 71 years ago that Mr. Martin and a group of incredibly brave Americans plunged from planes into the darkness of Nazi-occupied France.  Their mission:  Liberate.   Here's the photo of him re-living that jump seven decades later:

Mr. Martin, after his 2014 jump, photo courtesy of Pin Ups For Vets, full link below in sources.

Here's the message that accompanied this photo on Facebook:  

"70 years ago, Jim "Pee Wee" Martin parachuted into France, behind German enemy lines, in the dark of night ahead of the D-Day invasion. At the age of 93, the World War ll veteran jumped into Normandy again, in a full military kit, to mark the anniversary of the June 6th landings by Allied troops. Before jumping he said, "They are worried about me getting hurt. I said, 'Don't worry about it. If I get hurt or I get killed, what is the difference? I've lived 93 years. I've had a good life.'"

How's that for knowing where you're time has gone?

I checked in to Mr. Martin's Facebook page (link below) and am pleased to report he's still with us, enjoying life and telling his story.

I thought it was fitting to feature him in this post, as this is Memorial Day Weekend.  I have a post coming tomorrow on that subject.  Memorial Day is traditionally viewed as the start of summer and features, parties, BBQs, ball games, big-box store sales and the sounds of various lawn care instruments.  In that, it might be easy to forget that the reason for a three-day weekend is to honor those who fell in defense of our nation.  

For those so departed, time has stopped.  It goes nowhere.  I'd invite you to, in your own way, think about them.  I know that when I do this, I realize I have a whole lot more time than I thought and I'm motivated to make the most of the time I have.  After all, it will be gone before I know it.

Be well my friends,

Sources: (This photo and story may also be the work of others, however, due to its origin on Facebook and has free sharing offered, it is deemed to be also governed under fair use and/or public domain for the purposes of this blog. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Green Grass (of Home)

My front yard, photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

This is the time of year when everything is green.  When I mean green, I mean "cut the grass twice a week" green.  We've had a bunch of rain and as a result, things are wonderfully green, except the weeds.  They're green, too, just not wonderful.

There is something of a minor ritual of lawn care, at least for me.  In our house, this is my job and it is one that I actually enjoy in a way.  There is a sense, a feeling of accomplishment, when it's all done.  More than once this season, I've caught myself staring at the sky, wondering if the rain would hold off until I got the back yard cut.  So far, I've gotten lucky.

There is something special about grass in the spring.  The dull yellow of winter is gone, replaced by a gorgeous green.  I also appreciate the simple beauty of a lawn freshly cut.  Not too long, not too short.  In the words of Goldilocks, "Just right."

Years ago I bought Johnny Cash's Live from Folsom and San Quinton Prison CDs.  It is one of, perhaps the iconic performance of his career.  There are a number of well-known songs, "Folsom Prison Blues," "Cocaine Blues," "A Boy Named Sue," (a personal favorite) and "Jackson."  All great songs, without a doubt.  However, one of my favorites is "The Green, Green Grass of home.

J.R. 'Johnny Cash," photo by Joel Baldwin, public domain, full citation listed below in credits.

 I've got a link to the lyrics, as well as a YouTube version of the performance, if you'd like to check either out for yourself. In a nutshell, the song tells the tale of a man who is so happy to be home, to see his parents, his beloved and the, ", green grass of home."  He awakes in his grey prison cell, realizing it was all a dream.  There is no joy, no green grass.  Just misery and and iron bars.  

It is a haunting song.  One heavy with regret and longing for a second chance...that will never come.  The narrator in this song will never see the green, grass of home.

I am not sure why I recall this song.  Perhaps it is that I'm a fan of Johnny Cash.  Perhaps it is that the older I get, the more I appreciate the home I have, even with the tasks of home ownership, including lawn care. 

In time, too soon actually, the rains of spring will yield to the summer sun and there may be weeks when the grass does not need to be cut.  When it is, it is more to level out the lawn than anything else.  So for now, I'll appreciate the green grass and not complain (much) about having to cut it twice a week.

Be well my friends,

Sources:, Joel Baldwin - LOOK April 29, 1969. p.74, Public Domain,_Green_Grass_of_Home 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Of Mice and Men (and Fiction and Feeling)

George Salter's design for Of Mice and Men, first edition, fair use claimed, full cite posted below.
Greetings All:

Year to date, I'm averaging about a blog post a week.  I make an effort to write about subjects that matter to me and I hope my readers find of interest.  Usually, current event and/or historical references drive my writing.  Recently, I have been focusing on more positive subjects and attempting to avoid deeper and more somber topics.  I'm not sure how to classify this post, perhaps somewhere in the middle on the "dour" scale.  Ultimately, you, the readers, will be the judge.  In any event, here goes:

There is a post going around social media about how some parents wish to prohibit (i.e. ban) the classic novel, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  I have a link to the story below and here's the beginning of the article:

"The Great Depression is part of our nation’s history. So why would an Idaho committee seek to ban one of the greatest books written about that time period?  John Steinbeck’s "Of Mice and Men” is under fire from a Coeur d’Alene committee which says the book is too dark and depressing for teens to read."

When I saw this story, it got my attention for a couple of reasons:  First, I consider Steinbeck one of America's literary giants.  I have a link to one list of the 100 best novels and while Of Mice and Men is not on it, another Steinbeck work, The Grapes of Wrath, made the cut, #10.  One critic, Henry James, ranks Steinbeck as #21 amongst America's greatest writers.  I've got a link to the whole list from Commentary Magazine, but please trust me, he's in good company.

The other reason I like this story is I was in the play in high school.  More on that in a moment.

Of Mice and Men is set during the Great Depression on a California ranch.  The two main characters, George and Lenny, are migrant workers, looking for both work and their way in an ever-increasingly hostile world.  Steinbeck masterfully tells a story of hope and heartbreak.  The book is a mirror of that era, casting a painfully clear reflection of the suffering of that time.

It is a tough story.  Then again, we're talking about a tough time in our nation's history.  Various historians have mused that it was this period of systemic economic strife and suffering steeled America for the carnage of World War II.  I think there's more than a little truth to that theory.

The Great Depression was an economic disaster and a human catastrophe.   One-third of the non-farmer population was out of work, or 15% of the population.  For the poor, it was far worse.  Harlem, for example, had a 50% unemployment rate.  (Please see GWU link below for more information.)

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

Dorothea Lange's photo of a mother and her children, 1936, Elm Grove, California, photo source, Farm Security Administration, fair use/public domain claimed, full cite below in the credits.

Simply put, it was a bad time.  Steinbeck's writing reflects the world he saw and experienced.  Is there foul language? Check.  Racism, both blatant and subtle?  Check.  Violence?  Check.  Sexism?  Check.  Heartbreak?  Check, check, check.

And to the parents who say "Don't expose my precious child to this story," I say, "Read it.  Read it twice."  It is precisely because of all the things we find offensive in it that we should read it, all of us.  It's our history.  Reading it is not condoning it.  In fact, I'd argue the only authentic way to own our history is to understand it, with all its blemishes and raw, bleeding wounds.

I have a link below to books that have gone thru challenges over their publishing career.  This book made the list.  I think that Mr. Steinbeck would be proud of that fact, perhaps as much as his Nobel Prize.

So going back to the play and my role in it.  In 1985, Davenport West High School presented the stage version Of Mice and Men.  Under the direction of Mr. Paul Holtzworth, he guided, encouraged, occasionally yelled (well, OK, more than occasionally, but we were kids after all and deserved it) and directed us into a damn good high-school production of that show.

I had the role of Candy, an old farm worker with a crippled hand.  My dog has to be put down and to this day, I tear up when I think of that scene.  I recall that before the show began my friend Reid, a fine actor in his own right, helped me fix my fake bum hand and gave me some of the best advice an actor can receive:  "Keep the illusion alive."

Because after all, a play often is about a fake story.  Notwithstanding the historical background, the story itself is about something that is not real, never was.  There never was a George, or Lenny, or Curley or Candy.  All made up characters.  My friend Tom reminded me of that fact today.  He also made a reference/challenge to all of us to not focus so much on the pretend world and instead engage in solving the problems of our real one.  In a follow up post, he did state the value of a performance that can rise one to feel something.  His comment warrants a quote:

"...if you are crying, laughing, loving, hating, feeling happiness, feeling depression is all part of a good story. We humans have been storytelling for thousands of years..."

That is good advice, and well said my friend.

I would take it a step forward.  I would argue that a good story cannot exist without a basis in fact, in history.  One of my favorite books of the last decade is Stephen Pressfield's novel, Gates of Fire.  It is the fictionalized telling of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans held off the Persian Army in a heroic and suicidal stand, allowing greater Greece to rally and ultimately claim victory.  Oh, and the story is fictional.  The general concept is correct, but once you get past the historical bread, the meat, cheese, veggies (hardly any on my sandwiches) and condiments are all made up!  Never happened.

And yet, it's a hell of a story.  I burned thru it in a few days.  It was one of a few books I took with me on my little sabbatical I took a few years back a few time zones east six years ago.  I have given this book as a gift a bunch of times and have every intention of of continuing to do so.  I've got a link to the book below if you want to check it out and I highly encourage you to do so.

To the moms and dads who have a problem with Of Mice and Men, then this book will really blow your minds.  You don't want your kids picking up this book.  It discusses war and killing and loss and horror.  It also discusses honor and sacrifice and freedom and the willing subordination to a cause greater than oneself.  This is a book that is, to quote a former boss of mine, "a page turner."  It might actually cause (some) of your "so-called" sensitive kids to enlist or pursue ROTC in college.  Wow, how's that for irony?  Alas, I digress...

My (rambling) point is that fiction and the folks who reside in it are not real.  They are made up.  Yet when you mix up the historical background of the story, along with the quite real human emotions and choices that naturally follow, my friends:  Throw all that in a shaker with some ice, strain and serve in a properly chilled glass, and you've got one potent cocktail...of authenticity.  

I submit, I mark as a piece of evidence to be introduced to this court of my readers the concept, the belief, that just because something is a work of fiction does not render it devoid of its human value.  Its authenticity, the "acid test," rests not in its historical accuracy (and I'm talking literature here) but in its ability to move us, to cause us to feel something.  

If it does, then I respectfully argue, it is real, it matters.  And I think the reason some parents are so up in arms about wanting to protect their kids from it is they know, they are convinced that Steinbeck's work is, in fact real.  Real enough to cause their child pain.  

I would suggest, encourage even, these parents who want to keep Of Mice and Men away from their kids do the opposite, encourage them to both read and perform it.  Stage the play.  Let the kids learn their history by performing it.  Of course, provide generous periods of reflection on the subject matter.  If best for the cast, edit out certain ugly words if it will best serve the greater goal of telling the story.  You don't need every swear word or racial epitaph to feel this story.

All you need is the courage to tell it and hear it and collectively share it.  And then, then my friends, this work of literature becomes something real to all in attendance at the performance.  With the proper preparation and appropriate involvement by all, you have done more than told a story.  You've joined history with literature and a collective experience.

That is something no one should ever be denied...and certainly not protected from.

Be well my friends,

Sources: (see explanation for fair use justification.)


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Glory of the Sound

Public domain, Wikipedia,

Greetings All:

I have been looking for a subject to write on that avoids the negativity that envelops our world.  I have endeavored to write about subjects that are positive, that speak to, as Lincoln coined, "The better angels of our nature."

Yet there have been a bunch of stuff getting in the way.  Baltimore burning, a police officer murdered in New York City, the heartbreaking carnage of the Nepal earthquake, all give reasons to be grim.  I recall the words of Don Mclean of "American Pie" fame:

"I met a girl who sang the blues.
And I asked her for some happy news.
But she just smiled and turned away."

Yes, it is true, happy news can be hard to find.  But find some I did.  And ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to share it with you now.

My happy news comes in the form of softball.  To be precise, my youngest daughter's softball team.  She and her fellow second-graders have taken to the field for another season of softball.  Thanks to Coach Mike and the other volunteers, the kids are in very good hands.

Dawn and I hung out for the first practice and it was sheer joy to watch them play.  Well, "play" might be a bit of a stretch, as they are just learning the game.  The focus on teaching the fundamentals and having fun.  In this league, everyone get to hit (off a tee if necessary) and run the bases.  There are no outs, every gets a turn.  Score is not kept.

I am not one of those parents who renounces competition and winners and losers.  I believe kids need to learn about what it takes to be successful.  However, there is a time for that and this is not it.  Instead, this is a time for having fun, for laughing, for being part of team and doing your best and getting better, if only a little bit, every time you pick up a glove or swing a bat.

Watching the kids hit, for me, the most enjoyable part.  The coaches are patient and give both correction and praise.  Not every swing is a hit, yet when it is, a thing of beauty unfolds.  You see the mixture of wonder, surprise and joy on the hitter's face when the bat makes contact with the ball and it goes flying.  How far it goes?  Who cares.  Contact was made and that's a hit my friends.

Simply put, it is the glory of the sound.  The sound of ball bouncing off of a bat, of the joy of the moment, of kids running and throwing and catching (well, not so much that part, but they're getting there).  It's seeing a coach shout encouragement and seeing them mentally record the progress made.  Small, sure, but measurable.  Just get a little bit better and still have fun in the process.  What more could you ask for?

As I'm on the subject of sounds, I'll leave you with a poem of one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core. 

Well, Yeats has his lake and I have softball to watch, both with
sounds to cherish and recall.  I am sure Yeats had a grand time at
his lake (if he only traveled there in his mind).  As for me, my time
watching the kids play softball is my grand time.  And I am lucky
beyond words to get to experience it.

I hope you have your own moments this summer full of sounds that
bring you the same feelings.  If you're having trouble hearing them,
then might I suggest unplugging for a bit and go outside and listen 
for themI hope you can hear them.  You deserve it.  We all do.

Be well my friends,