Gratitude

This prose poem was written during the excesses of Tucson’s summer heat but the sentiment can be applied to any of God’s seasons. Today, preparing for Thanksgiving this week, I remain grateful and aware of the treasures of nature and the love of family and friends. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and the gift of gratitude.

Unfolding from sleep I turn toward the open window.

A desert breeze puffs gentle kisses across my eyes and lips.

Sage and desert broom play luscious harmony for my nose.

With feline grace dawn arches blue-gray-pink over the mountaintop

Bringing another day.

Thank you for the new beginning.

I walk the park path in the cool dawn air.

Desert heat will rise soon.

A voyeur, I listen to the gossip of palo verde leaves

Am I the topic of their soft whispers?

The park is alive with rumors of the coming day.

Thank you for nature’s secrets.

Rabbit romps across the path,

Coyote slinks among the shadows, 

Bobcat shelters under the creosote bush,

Quails strut in formation,

Hawk soars in lazy circles seeking breakfast.

Thank you for the companions of morning

Clear skies gather hazy bits of cloud

Building monuments to the midsummer heat.

Monsoons hiss, rumble, boom, crack and clap.

Summer torrents cool, coaxing fragrance from the earth’s bounty.

A kaleidoscope of color frolics among the wrinkles of Pusch Ridge.

Thank you for the intricate interplay of nature’s ensemble.

A Day of Sighs

The sigh as I walked outside to feed the doves, cactus wrens, cardinals, and sparrows that gather in the morning and looked up at the mountains haloed by the rising sun. How beautiful, how peaceful, how enduring.

The sigh when I checked my email, waiting for news of a friend in the hospital with a serious medical condition and found nothing yet.

The sigh when I fixed breakfast and realized I am out of spinach for the morning smoothy. I knew it yesterday but forgot to go to the store.

The sigh when I got ingredients out to make a cake for the tea I’m having this afternoon with friends, still thinking of the one who is in the hospital, hoping he is doing better.

The sigh when I sat down to write this blog. A task I eagerly tackle every Monday morning but there is a shadow over it as I await news.

I know the day will unwind hour by hour and all the trivia of daily life will be tended to. There is another sigh. At this time in my life, I am getting used to having friends and loved ones in medical crises but it doesn’t get any easier, wishing I could DO something, and knowing there is nothing I can do. Prayer is my go-to. Prayer as I walk. Prayer as I cook. It is the refuge, the strength beneath the sighs. All will work out in God’s time.

Weekends

I recently had a discussion with our eldest daughter about time, specifically weekends.  My husband and I have been retired for fourteen years and filled the first six years with the care of our grandson, born shortly after we retired. We were his caregivers on the weekdays from when he was one until he started school while our daughter worked a full-time job. It was the biggest privilege of our lives. A time I wouldn’t trade for anything. It kept us active and engaged watching this little human begin his exploration of life. So much better than when we had our own children and had all the responsibilities of parenthood along with making a living. We had time to enjoy each stage of his development, each triumph from first steps to first lost tooth, in a completely present way. No distractions. He is now a teen with all that entails and an interesting, lovable person. I could brag endlessly but that is for another time, another post. Now we are Sunday grandparents because he is busy with his school, sports, and social life. We all have brunch together and catch up on his activities and viewpoints. I learn something new from him each week.

Back to the discussion of time. I told our daughter we were having friends over for dinner on Monday. “Monday?” she asked. “Why a weekday?” The question took me by surprise. Monday for us is no different than Saturday. We’re retired, as are most of our friends. Our social schedule doesn’t have anything to do with days of the week. It reminded me of Maggie Smith’s question as Violet, the dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey. “Weekend? What is a weekend?” She is one of my favorite television characters and now I identify with her.

Days are weighted in value by our activity, no longer regulated by an employment schedule. When we were employed, weekdays had a significant importance and weekends were assessed very differently as precious free time. As a retiree, however, the distinction goes away quickly. Each day has its own importance depending on the plans we make. Our social schedule, balanced with workout time (nearly a full-time job for us) and other interests creates a varied shape to weeks and months. A trip to Home Depot or the grocery store can be done anytime, not scrunched into a few hours on weekends. A road trip to Tubac, Bisbee, Patagonia Lake or Mt. Lemmon is a fun outing taken whenever we choose and usually when employed people are at work.  So, like the Countess, I no longer recognize the concept of weekend. My life is a weekend.

A few other salient quotes by the Countess:

At my age one much ration one’s excitement.

Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.

Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.

Principles are like prayers, noble of course, but awkward at a party.

A lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.

Never complain, never explain

If reason fails, try force.

There can be too much truth in any relationship.

Hope is a tease designed to prevent us from reality.

You are a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.

Meaning well is not enough.

Writers Need Wingmen

Writing is a solitary endeavor. When one conjures the image of a writer it is often of a lonely soul sequestered in a garret pounding away on a computer or scribbling with a pencil to transcribe the dispatches from their imagination. In truth, writers need wingmen. 

I recently reread Stephen King’s On Writing. He describes the first draft as being written behind closed doors; no one allowed as the muses impart their magic. Then in successive drafts, the door is open, inviting input as he edits. This is where a writers’ group becomes essential. Even though I am not a professional with professional editors, I do want to improve my skills. That makes writing more fun. I take classes to learn how to create scenes, characters, and dialogue. I enjoy employing the tools of the craft to make better prose and poetry. My writers’ group is invaluable as a means of testing those skills. They are my wingmen. They support me and protect me from the threats of dangling participles, passive voice, misdirected sentences, and weak prose. I get positive feedback from Jackie and Sally when they read my story. Positive feedback doesn’t mean making only affirmative comments. On the contrary, it means they look for the divots in the course. Does the story hold together? Are the characters believable? Does the narrative draw the reader in? As a solitary writer, I know what I want to say but sometimes it gets stuck in my head and doesn’t make it to the page. They spot places where something is missing in the narrative or a character. Their critique lets me know if a sentence doesn’t make sense or a scene doesn’t carry the story forward. They help me clarify my intent. That support makes me a better writer, a better communicator.

It is a pleasure to share my writing with a group of trusted friends and have them share their stories with me. Thank you Jackie and Sally. We learn from each other. In Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets we three coauthors describe our journey as a group, learning to be better writers while expanding our friendship. We encourage writers to create small groups and discover the support within that close dynamic.

Ghost Story

Here we are in October, rolling toward the holidays with the anticipation of ghouls, ghosts and goblins that visit on October 31, All Hallows Eve. Many cultures celebrate November 1st called by different names All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Dia de Los Muertos, a day to honor those who passed before. The practice goes back centuries in Christian culture and ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs. A day of prayer and remembrance after a night of hijinks and revelry.

Well, I have a real ghost story. There have been times in my life when the unexplained/unexplainable occurred. Are they mind tricks? Is it wishful thinking? Or are there spirits reaching from the other side? I’ve journaled about these times and told friends about them. Now I will share one such experience with you.

It happened over fifty-five years ago and is as vibrant in memory as if it happened fifteen minutes ago. My father passed away unexpectantly. He had serious heart issues, but I did not think he was on the brink of death. Dad and I were very close. He got me. He was the loving bridge, firmly anchored on my side, across a chasm of mother-daughter expectations.  Dad was an invaluable ally to a headstrong teen.

Married at eighteen, by twenty-two I was in my own home with a husband and two young children (a baby of one month and a toddler eighteen months). Our little family lived out in the “sticks”, the only place we could afford a house. My parents and brother lived a few miles away in another town, so we saw them about once a week.  Dad loved being with his grandbabies.

Mom called to give me the news that Daddy had passed. Devastated, inconsolable, I descended into a robotic state doing only what was needed. Grief held my heart in a spikey vice grip, severed from my body.

Several nights later, I was driving home on a dark, rain-slick road after going to the grocery store miles away for a few necessities. My husband was home with the babies. It was mid-February in the Pacific Northwest, cold, dank, and dreary. I was enveloped in a blackness not only of the night but of spirit. The empty country road bordered by an ominous phalanx of fir trees was unlit, no traffic ahead or behind me, only the thin beam from my headlights to guide me. I wept, thinking about my father, cheeks drenched in tears, the deepest sorrow I had ever known. In a haze, I pictured accelerating off a curve in the road into the woods, slamming against a tree to stop the pain. No thought of my husband, children, mother, or brother – just the unbearable ache of wanting to be with my father.

“Honey, you have many, many miles to go before you are done.” My father was next to me in the car telling me to go on. I glanced at the passenger seat, nothing, no one; yet his voice was as clear as crystal and so was his message. My sobs stopped instantly. The death grip on my heart released. My attention focused on the road. I felt wrapped in a warm embrace. He was with me. His voice is still distinct, those words still in my ear when I recall that night. I know my father saved my life. We will meet again.

Blogging and Journaling

I started this post with the title Blogging versus Journaling but they are not in competition being totally different mindsets. When we started this blog website a couple of months ago, I thought it would be a journal of sorts – talking about writing, talking about being a writers’ group in the same way as I do my daily journal. I journal, however, for an audience of One, Me. My thoughts come rapidly and randomly. I capture a sentence about the weather, then one of my cats gets my attention or the main activity of my day enters the page or the thought of a friend’s dilemma. Some days I’m delving into a conundrum that needs to be sorted in my life. Some days I write about clouds. My journal entries flit from idea to idea. I know I am the only one who will look at that page. I am talking to myself. Looking back on journal pages I find that I can tell what kind of day it is or will be by the thoughts that crowd my head. I try to do morning pages but that doesn’t always work so they happen when they happen. Journaling is a kind of mind clearing exercise often done outside and always handwritten.  It helps me put perspective on myself in the context of my universe.

When I sit down to write a blog it is for an audience of others. I quickly realized that the mind that writes my journal is not the mind that writes a blog. In a blog, I organize my thoughts to communicate a cogent theme.  I am writing to connect with other people. I am opening my head and inviting others to have a peek. I’m writing story. Blogging is done on the computer, edited with delete and backspace keys available.

Our writers’ group has, over the years, evolved into a kind of group journaling, sorting the meaning of life through writing. We often write from prompts. Those prompts lead us into a memory or story that illuminates pieces of our lives. I find it fascinating that given the same parameters, we three come up with totally different narratives or poetry.  I write fiction and all fiction relates to reality on some level. No matter how whimsical I get there is a kernel of my life in a character or situation. I am blessed with a very pleasant life so when I write into a dark place, I conjure experiences I’ve heard or read, then stir them into stories based on my understanding of life, my beliefs. I do enjoy writing childhood experiences and family memoir occasionally. Everyone writes what they know. Jackie writes mostly memoir. Her stories come from deep places of personal experience. She found it very hard to write fiction when we first took creative writing classes together. She learned to do it and now comes up with characters and imaginary situations more easily. They are always infused with her Midwest roots. Sally is adept at writing both fiction and memoir.  Her characters contain bits of herself. Knowing her so well now, I can spot the hint of her petticoat under the dress of her prose. She also writes from strong Midwest roots that formed her view of life. Sally and I like to write poetry, condensing a thought or experience into the fewest possible words with the most significance. That is the beauty of a long-lasting writers’ group. We riff on personal experiences to make stories we share. We explore and expand our ways of communicating in the safety of the group. Blogging is a step away from that safety, just as publishing our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets is a public invitation into the ups and downs of our years together. It is a journey of discovery.

Red and Moxie

We live in a wild place. Our property backs to two hundred-plus acres of the Vistoso Nature Preserve, one of the many wildlife sanctuaries in Oro Valley. A variety of species of wildlife make their home in the Preserve from mule deer to javelina, coyotes, and bobcats. A mountain lion is sighted occasionally, and a black bear was reported in Big Wash preserve in our town. We are interlopers that they tolerate. Our town is bounded by the Catalina Mountains to the east and the Tortolita Mountains to the north. Animals retreat to the mountains during the hottest months of the year just as many people do. Come late summer, they return to the valley just like people do. It is common to take a walk in the neighborhood accompanied at a respectful distance by a family of javelina or a lone coyote. Bobcats pop in and out of yards, using fences as elements of their parcourse. Lizards and geckos are more prevalent than flies. I’ve not heard or read of a person being attacked by any of these animals in our town but people with small pets, cats, and dogs, have to be vigilant. Great Horned Owls and hawks have been known to carry off the little pets and a hungry coyote may attack a dog even if it is on a leash. We have a plethora of quail, rabbits, and lizards so you don’t see emaciated coyotes around here.

Ken and I have our cups of tea and coffee every morning on the back patio. Tea for me, coffee for him. Our open-air aviary attracts hundreds of birds daily. We enjoy the morning antics of tiny hummingbirds, small wrens, sparrows, and finches with the larger doves, mourning and white-wing. The variety of birds changes with the seasons. Dozens of Gamble Quail live in the underbrush at the edge of the Preserve all year around. They come as families to eat their share of the bird food we put out each morning. They squeak like a baby’s toy to call each other. In spring, they bring their offspring, eggs on legs, Ken calls them. The little ones can’t fly so they scurry around the ground, coming through the rail fence into the yard to chase each other until mama quail calls them back. They follow their mama in neat lines with papa as the shepherd bringing up the rear. There is always the renegade who goes his own way and makes papa double back to round him up.

Moxie

The winged visitor I enjoy most is the mockingbird. I named her Moxie. She was a steady visitor for a few years, sitting in a tree near our patio. Her conversation is amusing. Che-che-che, he-be, he-be, chirp, whistle, chitter-chitter, needer-needer, trill, click, twitter. She performs long soliloquies. We missed her for two years. I think she quarantined during covid, but she is back now. We noticed her delightful chatter a couple of weeks ago. She can scold like the cactus wren, clack like a roadrunner, and caw like a crow. When homes were being built near us a few years ago she would rat-a-tat-tat like the nail gun. She doesn’t join the feasting throng but sits in a tree above the crowd. Mockingbirds prefer insects and fruit to the seeds we provide. By 9:00 in the morning she goes on her way. I’m not sure about the lifespan of a mockingbird, so there may have been many over time, but I choose to believe it is Moxie again and again. I am very grateful she returned this year to entertain us.

Red

Another friend who joined us this year is Redtail Hawk. He sits high in the tallest tree. Mostly he is on the lookout for breakfast. When he soars in to take his watchful place all the birds, especially the doves, take off in a thunderclap of wings. He sends his squeaky greetings down to us as he sits preening. Gradually the birds reappear to continue eating. We discovered he is only interested in the doves. I think the smaller birds are too much trouble for the sustenance they provide. If a dove gets careless and returns too soon, Mr. Hawk is on it like white on rice. Doves are not quite bright and slow to boot, very easy prey for Red. He sometimes perches on one of the cinderblock fence posts with his catch and consumes it slowly. Soft grey feathers float into the breeze as he strips it down to the meaty parts. Not bothered by humans nearby, he concentrates on his meal. Then he too leaves the backyard for other daytime adventures and we are left with the twitters of the smaller birds. They are quiet during the afternoons, naptime, but start up again at dusk for a short time until dark. Resident bats come out at dusk. They are very quiet as they snap up flying insects. They are reclusive during the day. We are ever aware of the natural world in this place we call home.

Roots

force of nature

There is an age-old metaphor – a tree as life. It is so because it works well. I was struck last week by images of devastation made by hurricane Ian as it churned across Florida. Images of destruction, man-made structures strewn across the ground as the palm trees waved goodbye to the storm, their fronds high in the air above. How do they survive? What makes the slender palm tree accept nature’s temper tantrum with equanimity while the solidly built structures below are reduced to rubble? I’m sure there are scientific explanations. I am not a scientist, nor do I especially enjoy scientific explanations. I prefer metaphor to explain the mysteries of life.

The palm tree is in its native habitat. It belongs. It is rooted. Yes, there will be casualties but for the most part the palm withstands storms. Just as people when they are rooted will be able to withstand the vagaries that life offers. A person’s roots are not in the soil or even place based. A person’s roots are in family, in the childhood that nourishes and solidifies his or her character.

Everyone is born with their own set of talents. How those abilities are nourished, how that character is encouraged comes at the beginning of life, the roots. How is the child treated? What does the child learn about being human? Babies are not blank slates. They come with a host of built-in sensors, instruments. Those instruments are fine-tuned to each person’s unique orchestration. They pick up cues from their environment about how to act and react. They interpret the cues according to their sensibilities. That is why two, three, or even eleven children of the same parents will interact with the world entirely differently.

If given stability, a child’s roots will go deep, grow strong. The stability is not of place, it is heart and soul based. A child rooted in emotional security, can move from place to place, in circumstances good or ill, and still be able to grow. They will bend with life’s challenges but stay rooted in their humanity. There are so many stories of people raised in difficult conditions who overcame obstacles to flourish and succeed because they acquired, in the beginning, a core strength that anchored, rooted, them.

It’s not all la-ti-da – an easy equation. Humans are by nature inquisitive. As they mature, they usually experiment with alternatives. That is the basis of human migration. Many seek to define themselves by pulling away from the familiar. Everyone has their own path to trod. There are studies that indicate character is fully formed by age eight. An established character prevails even through the storms of life. Of course, there are always the lost ones. Just as you see uprooted palm trees here and there, some people, even if rooted well, can develop addictions, disease, or psychosis, a myriad of things that dislodge their roots. They may find ways to endure but the disturbance will be manifested in their interactions with life forevermore. It is the responsibility of adults to provide children with stable roots for their best chance to withstand life’s tempests.

A Ringtail Tale

“Diana,” Julie, our receptionist called my desk, “there is a kitten on the rail outside the office. I’m going to bring it in before it falls.”

Ringer

“Sure,” I said and left my desk to see what she was talking about.

We owned a small property management company, and our office was on the second floor of a building in a commercial area of Tucson. The pebble concrete open stairway was the only way up to the landing outside our door. The rail around the landing was the barrier that kept us from falling to the parking lot thirty feet below. A kitten walking on that rail was doing a highwire act with no net.

In Julie came with a small orange ringtail cat. She set him on the floor of the reception area, and he pranced into the main office, a prince coming to assess his kingdom. There was no hesitation. He did not appear frightened or intimidated to be in a foreign place. He held his ringed tail up proudly and acknowledged everyone in the office with a short visit as he toured each nook and cranny. It was obvious he had been cared for, no feral cat he. He was plump and confident. I followed him around to see what he would do. I began talking to him.

“I’m Ringer,” he told me in a telepathic way.

I announced his name to everyone. I asked Julie to take petty cash to the Walgreens down the block and buy a litter box, cat litter, food, and bowls to make our visitor welcome for his short stay with us. We made posters to put up around the building. The only residential parcel on the block was an apartment complex behind our office building. It was sectioned off by a six-foot plus fence at the back of our parking lot. We made a poster for the apartments with Ringer’s picture and details to put up wherever people might see them. Ringer set about making himself at home charming each of our agents and employees.

My husband was out of town but due back the next morning. We had a cat at home, Phoebe (you can read about her in a separate blog post, 9/19). She was a demon cat and I knew she would not be amenable to adding to the family. No one else was immediately willing to take Ringer home. At the end of the day, I said Ringer could stay in my husband’s office for the night and we’d decide what to do with him if we didn’t get any response to the posters. It was a Friday night.

I picked Ken up at the airport and said we needed to make a short detour to the office before going home.

“What’s up?” he asked suspiciously.

“Just something I want you to see.”

When we got to the office I opened the door to his office and out came Ringer. “Where did you get that cat? It’s not staying here.”

I filled him in on Ringer’s backstory as best I could and said we were trying to find his home. Ringer did his part weaving in and out of Ken’s legs, looking up, making clever little meow sounds asking to be his best friend. It worked, Ken succumbed to his spell quickly.

“Ok. He can be here for the time being but we need to find him a home.”

Several weeks later, Ringer had established himself as the official office greeter. Everyone who came in, client, tenant, or applicant was checked out. He ran to the door whenever it was opened to see what new friend he could make. We had a policy with new tenants who had dogs that they had to bring the dogs into the office for an interview before we rented to them. The whole office is animal crazy so it was our way of getting to know lots and lots of dogs. Ringer also liked dogs and would make a quick acquaintance when they dropped by. If the dogs were friendly, he would stand by during the interview in the conference room, if not he would disappear back into the office.  He was never intimidated but he was respectful of others.

Ringer especially liked to hang out in Ken’s office. If Ken left for a minute, Ringer would curl up on his chair. Otherwise, he would stretch out on the desk or snuggle up in the visitor chair. From time to time, he would wander the rest of the office checking on each person. Everyone adored him and enjoyed his company. He loved it when the printer started and would run to the cabinet it was on to stand by to see what came out. He was a great poseur when the camera came out.

Ringer supervising the printing

Ringer as office mate

Ringer stayed in the office every night alone. I took him to the vet that specialized in felines around the corner from our office. He pronounced him fit and healthy and said he was probably four to six months old. He also said he should be castrated. Ouch! I wasn’t sure I knew him well enough to authorize that act but since no one had stepped up to claim him, I did. We took him home after the operation to watch over him. Phoebe let it be known she did not approve. She would walk up and slap him in the face when he was resting on his little bed. Small as she was she packed a powerful punch. She hissed, she spat, she growled – in every way telling him he was an intruder. I spent time with her telling her she was still queen and that he was recovering from surgery and would go back to the office in a few days. I don’t think she bought it. We had to quarantine him to keep him safe.

I took him back to the office after a few days and he was happy to be in his friendly environment. We started taking him home on weekends because we enjoyed his happy personality. He was the yang to Phoebe’s yin. Phoebe adapted, sort of. Ringer learned to stay out of her way. Then we began taking him back and forth every day. Ken always left earlier than I did to go to work so Ringer was my passenger. He liked the car ride to and from the office, especially when I played classical music on the radio. He would get into his carrier instantly when I put it down whether to go home or back to the office. Eventually, he grew to be fifteen pounds and too heavy for me to lug up and down the stairs every day. We made the decision that he was our home cat and Phoebe would just have to like it or lump it. It was a little nerve-wracking to leave them alone the first time without putting him in a separate space. We didn’t know if we would come home to war or peace. They worked it out. Ringer gave Phoebe a wide berth and she pretended he didn’t exist.

Ringer enjoying his martini
Ringer relaxing at home

Phoebe was my all-the-time cat. If I was home, she was with me, beside me, on my lap, sleeping with us. Ringer found his own place and stayed out of the way. Ringer adopted three stuffed pets, a yellow duck, a gray mouse, and a brown teddy bear. Each was two to three inches high. He carried them around with him one by one. Sometimes he would bring one or the other to us – meowing as he walked into the room to let us know he had a gift. He would lay it at our feet to share his special toy with us.

When Phoebe died, I had a talk with Ringer and told him he was now my support animal. He understood and from that day he came to sit on my lap, he slept with us at night and he hung around both of us all the time. He would bring his three buddies to bed at night, putting them at the foot of the bed. Then during the day he would take them one by one from the bed and play with them or leave them in other rooms. But always he would tuck them into bed each night. He enjoyed a cocktail at cocktail hour – a martini glass of water with a dash of water added. He liked being a part of the party.

Ringer was an indoor/outdoor cat who the entire neighborhood got to know. He was always friendly and curious. When he died, we heard from neighbors how much he would be missed. All the office staff mourned his passing too. Of course, no one misses him as much as we do. He is buried in our backyard with his three pets – mouse, teddy and duck, but at a great distance from Phoebe.

Queen of Baseball

My major passion aside from my family is Baseball, America’s game. I LOVE baseball. My mother told me it was inevitable because the only cool place in Wichita during the hot summer of ‘45 was the baseball park, so she watched a lot of baseball when she was pregnant with me. I was a September baby. That used to be playoff time. A lot has changed in seventy-seven years.

Over the years I watched evolutions of players, rules, and decorum on the field and off. Can’t say I’m impressed by it all that much. So disappointed in the Astros cheating a couple of years ago. But my excitement and loyalty for the game never wavered. I sincerely hope the talk of robo-umps, an automated strike zone governed by computer, is quashed. I love homeplate umpires, human and fallible, they provide an added element of suspense to the game.

Airbourne

To me, baseball is a combination of bullfighting (mostly bloodless) and ballet. It is an individual sport played as a team. Each player is highlighted when their skill is required. Pitchers on the mound are the bulls, powerful and potentially deadly with missiles sometimes topping 100 mph. The batter is the matador – sidestepping the bull’s charge until it is time to thrust the final blow and send the ball soaring through the air. That is when the ballet begins. Infielders and outfielders race, leap, spin, twirl through the air with nearly impossible physical grace to catch a ball coming toward them and then with equal style turn and twist to deftly throw the ball to the proper place to consummate a play.

When I was eighteen or nineteen one of the issues that bothered me was the players’ incessant need to adjust their cups. They looked so uncomfortable. I told my husband I recognized an employment opportunity for myself – MLB Cup Adjustor. I saw a chance to help those boys be more comfortable as they stepped up to the plate. Alas, it never came to pass. I think the equipment has been improved because I don’t notice as much adjusting these days.

Now as a matron, a senior woman of wisdom, I decided the role for me is Queen of Baseball. No compensation is required, only the acknowledgment and respect the position warrants.

These are a few of the rules that would be issued under my reign:

  1. No spitting during a game
  2. No cursing during a game
  3. No tattoos above the neck until retired from active playing
  4. No silly pitcher posturing – PITCH the ball – don’t look like a bird taking flight, a chicken laying an egg, or a little leaguer elbow-sighting the ball.
  5. No sidearm or submarine pitching – again if you can’t pitch the ball overhand as it is meant to be pitched, find another job.
  6. No extreme player shifts in the field – I think they got that message and it is being rectified.
  7. No sissy bunting – hit the darn ball, hard or soft but HIT it like a man.
  8. All commentators MUST be former major league players. They know what baseball is all about and can coherently share information and perspective with spectators. That means NO women as commentators. It may sound sexist but I’ve never heard a woman be as insightful as a former player when calling a game. If you haven’t been up to the plate facing a ball thrown 100 mph directly at you, stay in the spectator seats where you belong cheering for the boys on the field. That would make me the ONLY woman in baseball – as Queen. I admit that I am very blessed to have a former professional player for a husband. He explains clearly any action on the field that I don’t understand.

As to the 40-man roster of the Queen’s team, I confess it may not be weighted the same as the rosters of major league teams, pitchers to catchers to fielders, but these are my favorite players and I know they can do the job. The list, of course, changes season to season but many of these players are long-standing on the roster. These are not listed in any particular order of preference except Ohtani who is #1 in everything.  I am adjusting to the universal DH concept and would find those among the players listed.

  • Pitchers
    • Shohei Ohtani- unequivocally MVP
    • Gerrit Cole
    • Adam Ottavino
    • Clayton Kershaw
    • Joe Kelly
    • David Price
    • Julio Urias
    • Dallas Keuchel
    • Justin Verlander
    • Kenley Jansen
    • Max Scherzer
  • Catchers – Captains of the game
    • Buster Posey
    • Will Smith
    • Carson Kelly
    • Yadier Molina
  • Infield
    • Freddie Freeman
    • Paul Goldschmidt
    • Anthony Rizzo
    • Nolan Arenado – a tiger at 3rd
    • Rafie Devers
    • Eduardo Escobar
    • Xander Bogaerts
    • Freddie Galvis
    • Bo Bichette
    • Bobby Dalbec
    • Carlos Correa
    • Dansby Swanson
    • Joey Votto
    • Jose Altuve
    • Justin Turner
    • Chris Owings
  •  Outfield
    • A.J. Pollock
    • George Springer
    • Charlie Blackmon
    • J.D. Martinez
    • Aaron Judge
    • Joc Pederson
    • Mike Trout
    • Joey Gallo
    • Mookie Betts

I use a criterion not dissimilar to that of the Miss America pageant to choose my players. They must be well-rounded in every facet of baseball.

  1. Must look good in the uniform – no baggy butts or paunchy bellies
  2. Must have a good character, be courteous to fans, and a plus to their community, no whiners, kibitzers or pouters allowed. (Manny Machado is eliminated by this criteria). It’s a game, folks. Freddie Freeman is the perennial Mr. Congeniality. I love to watch him greet opposing guests on first base. – always with a smile.
  3. MUST be talented – have outstanding skills on the field and always play to win.

This baseball season is coming to a close.  It is impossible to root for just one team because MY players are dispersed among many teams so I root for the player. It gets kind of wicky-wacky when a favorite pitcher is confronting a favorite batter, or a favorite batter hits a fly ball that soars directly toward a favorite outfielder. Dilemmas I must deal with as a fan the Queen of Baseball.