I mean, how can they be better than Saturday, right?
But, good days come in all shapes and sizes. And, this Monday was good.
Let’s check the “Good Day” box score …
Time in my day – and some jingle in my pocket – to sit down at Miso Sweetfor lunch. Good!
Ramen. And, Donuts. Charlottesville. Very Good!
I know that not everyone has the time to sit down for lunch or the money to have a nutritious meal. It is not lost on me.
In the bathroom I find this note:
Photo: My trusty four-year old Droid. Permanent thumbprint on the lens. Not a good photo, but then, sometimes, even on good days, you are caught camera-less and only have one thumbprinty photo to show for yourself.
After lunch, I still have time to get to my Yoga studio for my own practice before my classes start. Awesome Good!
Yoga classes are full. Bountiful Goodness!
Sure, the Baltimore Orioles were swept by the Twins over the weekend. Sure, they will lose again on Monday night … and Tuesday night. Sure, they look not so good and that’s six straight losses and the chances for Orioles baseball in October are looking a little like this:
But, still. Delicious lunch. Good advice from a restaurant bathroom. Yoga.
And, Buttercup Dickerson, who’s credited with being the first Italian American to play major league baseball – except that I discovered he wasn’t Italian American at all.
** Be Prepared.
A photographer friend reminds me that a good photographer must anticipate where and when the spontaneous moment – and perfect picture – will occur.
I have yet to get my anticipation right at a game. Stolen base, breathtaking play in the outfield, close play at the plate? I’ve seen ‘em all and every single photo is just a little late. Never in the nick of time.
It was right after that Nick Howard photo. One out, ninth inning, UVa is up 11-2.
What happens when a bunch of college boys are about to advance to the College World Series?
So, with one out, I pointed my camera at the mound, fussed with the shutter, held it there, and waited.
True, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Maryland singles. Man on first. Pop out. Two out. I kept checking the camera to make sure I still had it right. More waiting. And, then, strike three. Three out. Game Over.
Unlike baseball games which are not nearly as long as you think they are, War & Peaceis long. First there’s peace, then there’s war, then more peace, then back to war.
Look, I’m halfway through …
Stevie wishes she could read.
And, there is a central character named Nick. (Nikolai Rostov for you Tolstoy purists.)
Jeremy Brett as Nikolai in the 1956 film.
He’s an ordinary sort of fellow. Some pages ago he lost a bunch of money gambling. It was quite stupid of him and his ordinariness annoys me. When he shows up for a chapter or two, I find myself wondering what the more interesting characters are doing.
To be fair, Nikolai would agree with me. At one point, he tells his sister how tiresome and boring his life is.
But, there’s still a long way to go.
And, if there’s one thing I learned this year, things change and you gotta roll with it. Maybe things will change for Nikolai.
That’s my 2014 wrap-up.
Done, just in the nick of time …
Now, I’m off to teach my first classes in my new Yoga studio.
The Orioles swept up a few minor leaguers last week, which is sweet and all, sort of like a hot night out at the Dollar Store. But, it’s always so sad to watch the free agent list scroll by … “nope” … “nope” … “can’t afford him” … “nope” … “nope” … “too expensive.”
“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself. … It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” ~ Harper Lee
First off,thank you to that reader who emailed me last night to tell me he can snap his fingers. (This, in response, to my heartfelt admission yesterday.) I exorcise my divine discontent … and for this, you taunt? Truly? Truly?
So, what’s new in divine discontent today?
I’m not sure that it’s ok to unleash fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve/Day. I mean, sure, set off some whistling Moonshine Bottle Rockets, Blazing Rebel Fountains with all the pretty colors, a few of those nameless ashy, snakey things. Prairie Fire cones, Nuclear Sunrise candles. Go ahead. Sparklers? Sparkle your pants off.
No, I’m talking armaments. That sound like – or could possibly have actually been – cannon fire.
I went to bed before midnight because I taught Yoga this morning.
But, I awoke at midnight to the sound of shelling. Wait, what? Grant’s marching toward Richmond again?
The booming, wall-rattling shelling was coming from our neighbor’s house, about a quarter-mile and one full cow pasture away.
Is that really necessary?
Are you trying to kill the old year … or the new one?
So, when I got up at 6:00 a.m. today, I suggested that I might go outside and lay on my car horn to greet my new year and wake the neighbors.
Editor/Husband suggested that I not do this: “They have a cannon.”
Editor/Husband would like to share this cannon joke with you. Click here.
(He tried to tell it to me at midnight, but I just wanted to go back to sleep.)
Let’s start the year …
First up, baseball.
Yesterday, I exorcisedmy baseball discontent … giving the Baltimore Orioles’ owner somechin music for being a cheapskate, skinflint, and tightwad (these all mean different things, by the way, and he is all of them).
But, let me begin 2014 on a positive note.
I love the Orioles annualpet calendar. Proceeds supportBARCS, Baltimore’s animal shelter, and animal welfare organizations are dear to my heart.
But, here’s the thing. To produce the calendar means that the Orioles must do the photo shoots and get everything to press well in advance. (Spoiler alert: teams can change, BARCS calendars cannot.)
The result is a beautiful calendar of Orioles posing in last year’s summer sun with handsome rescue dogs and bushels of adorable kitties. (It’s clear the low-ranking rookies often end up with the kittens … don’t think Stevie and I haven’t noticed.)
I opened up the 2014 calendar today, and look at Mr. January and Mr. January!
(In 2013, pitcherJake Arrieta was traded to the Cubs just as his month as Mr. July was beginning.Jim Johnson– see, I told you I’m not done with this – had just completed his Mr. November reign when he was traded to the A’s on December 2.)
Stevie is not happy about the Jim Johnson trade either … or the lack of calendar cats.
In previous calendars, most players enjoyed their own month. This year, there seems to be more two-players-to-a-month sharing. The size of the team hasn’t changed, so maybe the Orioles are now thinking, “Yikes, let’s just stuff a few players on the page and hope that at least one of them is still around come next year.”
But, back to being positive.
I love my Orioles calendar. (But, boy, I’ll missNate. And, Jim.)
Just 44 days until pitchers and catchers report.
Next up, Yoga.
I taught Yoga this morning. It was great!
And, finally, Life.
Have a great 2014.
(See, wrapped them all up again.)
Divine Discontent can have the rest of New Year’s Day off!
All good intentions to get healthy, go running, or eat better go out the window when a foot of snow covers your car, knocks out your power, but you still have to go to work.
You know it. I know it.
(There’s no resolution in the world strong enough to keep me from a piece of chocolate or a Diet Mountain Dew.)
Oh, look, Stevie’s a Dewbie, too!
If pressed, my New Year’s resolution is pretty simple – make it to 2015 and write on here from time to time. Because I love writing stuff for you. Really. Both of you. You’re both wonderful and incredibly good looking.
In the spirit of New Year’s let me tell you two honest things about me:
1) I cannot snap my fingers. I really can’t. It’s not that I choose not to. I would snap all day. If only I could. (There. Just tried again. Still can’t.)
(Editor/Husband says I snap my fingers like a second-grader. A paste-eating second-grader. I’m not proud of this.)
2) The only New Year’s resolution I ever kept was years ago when I worked in an office. I used to needle a colleague all the time. (She was a very nice person, but she didn’t know who R.E.M. was, for god’s sake, how could I not needle her? I was in a very sarcastic phase of my life. I know, so glad that’s passed.)
So, for New Year’s I promised her that for an entire year I was going to be nice to her. And, I was. I was so nice, fawning over her and always asking how her day was going (often interrupting her several times an hour just to ask), that I proved to be an incredibly annoying nice person. Imagine that!
Lisa became a successful – and very nice – lawyer. I write a blog with two readers. So, as you can see, sarcasm gets you nowhere, kids.
While I see the timely need to lard up this blog with some resolution jabber, it being a new year and all, you’ve probably already realized that I’m not really the best person to go to for advice or encouragement.
Unless you happen to own the Baltimore Orioles. Here are some resolutions for you, Mr. Angelos.
First off, get us some pitching. Spend some money … you can’t take it with you and you’re not getting any younger. You can never fully redeem yourself in my eyes after trading Jim Johnson, but you can make amends.
Let’s start with a Starter, ok? I mean, a real Starting Pitcher – a mean-as-cuss, ace-of-the-team alley cat who throws both fire and finesse.
A pitcher who understands that his day doesn’t end with the words “he was roughed up, again, in the fifth inning.” A pitcher who strives for “27 outs” … in a single game, not in a month.
Mountain Lion and Dr. Perky are cheap.
He won’t be.
At the risk of seeming greedy, pony up for another bat in the lineup and maybe a strong bullpen arm to replace the one you so callously and cruelly threw away. (It may be a new year, but I’m not over this Jim Johnson thing yet.)
In short, Mr. A, let’s spend some real dough so that the rest of baseball will stop thinking we’re the class weirdos.
# # #
So, you know how this blog is supposed to be about baseball and Yoga and life? And, how I talk a good game (always aiming for the bleachers) but rarely wrap them all up together? I feel bad about that.
Let’s fix things.
Earlier this year, I came upon four particularly useful rules. Or, resolutions. Call them what you like.
They were posted by a pitcher above his locker.
I love these rules. They are good reminders for a pitcher. They are good reminders for a Yoga student. They are good reminders for life.
Here they are.
~ Go 0-1. Must have action. Early is my friend.
~ Get the ball down. Strikes below the knees.
~ Manage the game. Slow down. Break a bad rhythm.
~ Take your time between pitches. Take a time out and reset.
That’s baseball talk, for this: Start 0-1. Throw a strike. Be confident.
Be in control.
Take charge and responsibility for your actions. If you’re being a doofus, change.
And, always step off the mound and take the time you need to think things through when feeling pressured or else you may do something really, really stupid.
Which in Yoga I boil down to that one simple, most important resolution of all …
Things I’ve learned in the past three baseball-less weeks.
Did you know it only takes four seconds to put the toilet paper roll on the hanger in the bathroom? I had forgotten that that’s what that little wall bracket thingy is for. Did you know that you can do that every time you start a new roll?
Now, with no baseball to watch, I suddenly have all sorts of time to do the things that I haven’t done for awhile.
Point #1. If you can’t play baseball outside, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing baseball. (Florida and Arizona, you have Spring Training … ALL the teams are there every spring. And, you have the Fall League! Isn’t that enough for you?) And, Houston Astros, if the Texas Rangers can play outside, why can’t you? (And, Toronto, Seattle, Milwaukee? Oh, never mind …)
Point #2. Really, Nationals? A retractable roof is going to put you in the playoffs? Why not spend $300 million on Robinson Cano? Or, two Carlos Beltrans?
Editor/Husband says that $300 million for a retractable roof seems reasonable to him. (This conversation really happened: Me: “Hey, you can have 30 Jim Johnsons for that.” He: “If only he were retractable.” “I don’t know what that means.” “I don’t either.”)
Point #3. The Mayor laughed at the Nats’ request. Laughed. And, someone in his office said the roof would be “butt ugly.” So, uh, I guess that means no roof?
Point #4. Editor/Husband says my stubbornness about indoor baseball is similar to the outcry over lights at baseball parks and the first night games. The first major league night game was in 1935. (He remembers this? Editor/Husband is much older than I thought.)
Lights. Clouds. Sky.
Things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving? Just 78 days ’til Pitchers & Catchers report. Happy Thanksgiving!
That’s how I start most of my Yoga classes when I teach.
It’s pretty much impossible in our world to turn everything off completely – even for an hour. But, turning down the volume a little, well, that’s a start. If only for that one hour of Yoga.
Turning down the volume is the Yogic path of Pratyahara.
To be Fancy Pants about it, the deal of Pratyahara is this – withdraw the senses inward. Close your eyes and look inside. Close your ears and listen to your breath. Close your touch and just feel the air on your skin.
Just find the quiet inside.
Clearing out the clutter in your brain for a few minutes each day can be as rewarding as cleaning all that forgotten junk out of your garage. (Some of the gunk in your brain can be covered with dust, grease, and mouse nests, too.)
That’s why I love this photo I took.
Hanging out at the batting cage, little kid in the center up there, shows his Pratyahara.
Hey, if the crack of the bat gets too loud, just cover your ears.
The batter in the cage is probably swinging away in his “zone”, oblivious to the rest of us, which is simply his Yoga and Pratyahara without all the Sanskrit.
(And, you thought I would never post about Yoga again!)
On Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles lost and were eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends Sunday. Time for huntin’, fishin’, or whatever it is that these fellas do when they’re not swinging at bad pitches. (See, Orioles’ Pitchers … it’s not always your fault.)
After last season, I discovered that baseball in October is more fun than I ever could have imagined.
October in Baltimore (2012 edition).
But, instead, the Orioles are done. (Although Manny Machado is going to be ok. Hakuna Machado!)
So, here’s how I spent my first day out of the playoffs.
1) One of my cats pooped. On the kitchen counter. I came home and there it was. Poop. On the kitchen counter. I spent my first day of meaningless baseball super-bleach-sanitizing the kitchen. I may just have to burn it down. (I can forgive certain cat things. She’s old and sort of frail. But, the boxes were clean. This is a felony.)
Smokey Jo. Felon.
2) At my Yoga studio, I have beautiful windows overlooking a courtyard that is used by the nearby restaurant. It lets in lovely light. As I was teaching yesterday, my students were practicing and I look up to see a guy – all tattoos, beers, and facial hair – coming up to my window, making eye contact with me, and then vomiting. Profusely. All over. It seemed to last forever. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I worried he might try to come into the class and vomit some more. He heaved up about a gallon of his insides, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and staggered away. I’m still traumatized.
3) I broke the space bar on my laptop. Doyouknowhowimportantspacesbetweenwordsare? Veryveryimportant.
And, here’s what I learned.
1) Cats really don’t care about you.
2) You can become hypnotized watching someone vomit.
I love my Orioles. I’m proud of all they did this season. I’m proud of the homeruns. The amazing defense. The pitchers. I’m proud of each and every Oriole. (I may tease ’em, sure, but I love ’em.)
And, I’m soaking in these last few games. They may be playoff meaningless, but they’re never meaningless to me. They won last night! They had a winning season!
But, this October is going to be awful – just endless poop and vomit – if I don’t find a backup team soon.
So, there you go.
In a comment on one of my earlier posts, Don Of All Trades put in his pitch for me to root for the St. Louis Cardinals.
So, just by virtue of his promptness (and flattery), the Cardinals are off to a quick start.
The Oakland A’s could be ok … after all, to go from O’s to A’s is just gentle vowel shifting. It could be quite easy for me.
But, the door is wide open.
Is your team still in it? Add a comment. Give me your best pitch.
Since only you and three other people actually read this thing, chances are good I’ll go with your team if you take the time to ask me. Think of it as a baseball date. Sure, we’ll break up in November, but we could have some fun in October, right?
You know the ones.Your team has a cozy, comfortable lead going into the late innings, and then the bullpen comes out, but things somehow start to go badly, the pitchers go sour and give up runs, lots of runs, homeruns, all sorts of runs, and the comfortable lead vanishes and suddenly the game is tied, and so the game continues for a few more innings, but your bats are cold, no one can hit, and you run out of relievers, and then you give up the game-winning run to the other team, and then the game is over, and you lost. Then you go out and do the very same thing the next day.
Just hypothetical, of course. Unless you’re a Baltimore Orioles fan, in which case, this is suddenly reality.
So, for your extra innings today … a few things to help settle the bullpen down, and to kill some time because it hurts just a little too much to talk about baseball today.
10th INNING ~ Get Smarter
Maybe our bullpen pitchers need to sharpen up the old coconuts. Get a little smarter, sharper, quicker.
A friend of mine recently turned me on to Lumosity.com, which offers you a few minutes of games and puzzles each day as a means to keep your mind sharp and your brain supple. My friend is pretty smart, so I thought I would give it a go. I’ve been at it for a month or so. I still don’t understand physics, but maybe I am a bit quicker at finding my car keys in the morning. So, progress.
There’s a free version and a subscription version, which offers a few extra games each day. Try it out and let me know how you do feeding all those bloody confusing fish in that stupid koi pond.
11th INNING ~ Get Peaceful
Science has shown that meditation can soothe the mind and quiet the brain. Maybe it’s time to get your OM on. I heard a story this morning that reported on how meditation can help repair damage to the brain in soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can find it here.
But, everyone can benefit from a bit of stillness. And, even if you’ve only got a minute … good enough. Try a one-minute meditation, here.
So, if your team just got swept, your batters and your bullpen let you down (and no, my blog post about bullpens this week did not jinx them … it couldn’t of, could it?), then the only thing left are bear cubs.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia has 16 of them … and they’re all on the Critter Cam. You really do need to watch them. You’ll forget all about how your favorite team let you down this week. Watch here (try Cam 1 … that’s where they’re usually hanging out.)
photo courtesy of the Wildlife Center of Virginia
Oh God, they’re so cute.
Enjoy this free baseball … the Orioles’ amazing comeback begins tomorrow!
OK, first off, somebody Googled “life is meaningless and everything dies” yesterday and somehow … for some insane reason known only to the Internet … was directed to my blog.
Really? Really??? I’m very disappointed in you, Google.
For the record, life is NOT meaningless (not even for the Miami Marlins), but yes, in fact, everything does die eventually.
In Yoga there is a path called Bhakti – the Yoga of devotion. It’s one of the simplest paths of Yoga because there are no special instructions to guide it. The practice is simply seeing, feeling, experiencing, and honoring the divine in yourself, in others, and in the world around you. You know, the divine (life force, meaningful goodness, or God or the Goddess … take your pick here).
Seeing and honoring the divine in a beloved friend, a beautiful flower, or a joyful cat is a pretty easy way to rock the Bhakti path.
But, isn’t that a bit too easy?
Seeing the divine in the heart of an annoying person, in something ugly or frightening, or in a difficult experience … now that’sBhakti.
Here in Virginia, thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of other-worldly cicadas have made their way up out of the ground. They’ve left their crunchy outer shells (or carcasses, if you will) all over, including dozens on my porch.
Here’s a cicada, ready for anything!
After 17 years underground, they emerge like randy Rip Van Winkles to mate. Yes, finally old enough to mingle at the frat house mixer conveniently located in my elm tree.
They are known mostly for the ethereal mating song of the male – something that sounds strangely like spaceships landing in a low-rent sci-fi movie. You can listen here.
They make that sound by flexing their bellies which vibrates little bongo drums in their abdomen. (I’m not kidding. Wing rubbing is for sissies.)
The sound is considered beautiful and alluring to female cicadas. When a thousand of them get their drums going, it can get pretty loud and can go all night (which, again, seems rather frat-like). What may make a female cicada swoon can be incredibly annoying for humans.
Not to mention the fact that cicadas are rather large – 2 or 3 inches – are related to locusts, have translucent wings and enormous, kinda creepy red eyes. (They also make a terrible squishing sound when you accidentally step on one … and with thousands of them lounging on your porch, it’s bound to happen.)
It’s hard to love a cicada (unless you’re a chicken; they and other animals find cicadas to be buttery and delicious).
I dedicated the Yoga classes I taught this week to the cicada – which meant lots of core work (to activate our own abdomens), deep breathing (after 17 years underground I would think they’d appreciate some fresh air) and a lot of stretching out of the earth and out of our shells. (People were on their own for the mating thing …)
I just wanted to send a little love to the cicada. Very cool little locusts, if a bit ugly. I wanted to honor the sweet divine that rests within them, in the same way it rests within all of us.
So, Bhakti for the cicadas!
And, Bhakti for Jim Johnson, beleaguered Baltimore Orioles closer.
It’s no fun watching your All-Star closer toss up batting practice and lose games in the bottom of the 9th that you thought were won.
It’s 10 p.m., the game’s winding down … you have a comfortable one- or two-run lead, time to get ready for bed. And, Jim Johnson comes out to the mound, gives up a meaningless hit (just to make things interesting) and then shuts them down. Old Reliable Jim.
We turn off the TV and go to bed happy, with dreams of the World Series in our heads.
But, when things go bad for Jim Johnson, my Editor/Husband yells at him. “Oh, no. Oh, no. No, no, no!” Things went very bad this week.
I’m sure my husband knows that Jim Johnson can’t actually hear him. I’m pretty much the only one who can. (Well, the cats hear him, too, but what can they do? They can’t even bunt.)
It’s when players have rough games or go through a slump that you have to look beyond an external bad day to see through to the goodness within.
So we decided (and by “we”, I mean “I” decided) no more yelling at Jim Johnson. Only positive support. (Yeh, I know, Jim Johnson can’t hear that either. But, the house is more peaceful, so … progress.)
After all, we all have bad days. We all have slumps. But, it doesn’t define who we are.
On Tuesday night, Jim Johnson came out in the 10th inning and shut down the Yankees 1-2-3. So, he’s coming around.
Even when things are bad, or when people let you down or disappoint you, or strange-looking locusts crawl out of the ground to make noise and mess up your porch … you can look for the sweetness, the goodness, the divine, within. That’s Bhakti.
Seeing and honoring the divine in your loved ones is a good start. Extending that recognition to others in your world, even the ones you don’t know or you don’t understand, takes a bit more work.