Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Day Early but Still Sincere

My middle younger sister, Kara, and her husband, Russ, may still be finding stuff as they unpack having recently finished relocating from New Jersey to Florida. One of the things she shouldn't have to look for is my best wishes on her natal anniversary which is actually tomorrow, but I think in her case we should be allowed to start the shenanigans early and tarry for as long as we so choose. 

I'm reprising something I wrote sometime back when she was farther North. I called it: 

Brighter than a Burning Birthday Candle

Tomorrow is my sister, Kara's birthday. You can be forgiven for not knowing this but only just barely. It's a holiday (I would hope) at her house and probably should be one on her block as well as across the state, though in light of budget cutbacks, that's unlikely to be the case.

The world is a much better place because Kara is in it and our family is fortunate that she is our relative even if, as Albert Einstein postulated, everything is relative. (Could that mean everything is Einstein? I'm asking that because it would explain the bramble that is so often my hair when I awaken.)

Kara and I shared a small overlapping childhood as I was transitioning away as she was becoming her own person. And in a sense, I suspect, she sees herself more often as Jill and Adam's older sister than as the younger sibling of our brother, Kelly, and sister, Evan, with whom I spent far more years (but only because their luck wasn't as good as Kara's).

Kara and her husband, Russ, have their own family with RJ, Randy, and Jordan all men in motion and on a mission, in different directions at maximum velocity. I discovered long ago the easiest way to track the passing of time is to look at and to your children as they are better indicators of how far we have come than any mirror can hope to be. I imagine I am not the only one who made that discovery.

Kara should actually be our ambassador to the United Nations as she has a genius for talking people into doing things they would otherwise never, ever consider and, while so doing, convincing them that it was all their own idea in the first place while she is just pleased and proud to help them.

She (and our) younger sister, Jill, can probably actually pull off the Tom Sawyer painting the fence trick, but it's Kara who organizes the trip to the hardware store to get the brushes and the drop cloths. And she'll even help you muscle them into the van. Meanwhile, it's Jill who collects the money and, sorry, even though it's a quarter for a chance to paint and you did give her a dollar, she's out of change.

I wasn't around when our Mother was a kid, or a teen, or a young woman. I caught up with her as a young mother (and was, technically, the first reason why she was a young mother) but I've always thought Kara most resembles what our Mom must have been like when we were too small to really remember.

You cannot help but smile when you are with Kara-I am smiling now as I type this, thinking of her because she is relentlessly cheerful no matter the situation. Her children reflect the values she and Russ have instilled in them and are improving the world on their own terms just as their parents, but most especially my sister, taught them to do.

My brother-in-law has impeccable judgment, excellent taste, and most especially superior good fortune. Happy Birthday, Kara!
-bill Kenny

Monday, July 22, 2019

Big Day for Baseball

As a kid, I never had the coordination, the height, the strength or the stamina of any of the guys on the block with whom I hung out (but I did have the grammatical chops to know how to write that sentence from an early age). 

I had and still have a burning competitive desire to do well; when I was younger it was to win at all costs but as one ages, one surrenders certain things from one's youth (except, seemingly, the ability to speak of oneself in the third person). 

I'm not sure if I found baseball or it found me. My father brought home a Whitey Ford (right-handed) pitcher's mitt (Ford was a dominant and dominating left-hander for the NY Yankees in the late '50s and early '60s) that I still have, someplace. Every off-season I smothered it in neet's foot oil, put a baseball in its pocket, wrapped some seriously heavy-duty rubber bands around it and put it in the back mousetrap on my bicycle in the garage and prayed for spring and sandlot baseball.  

I never played organized ball at any level, not that it keeps me, to this day, from stopping as I channel surf to watch a game, major or minor league, that pops up on television or to pull over when I'm coming back from seeing my cardiologist and watch the little league games going on at the fields across the street from his practice. 

Dad was a (San Francisco) Giants fan and Mom a (Los Angeles) Dodgers fan when both ballclubs called New York City home. When the Lords of Baseball allowed both teams to head for California, I'm not sure my parents ever forgave them, but when the NY Mets arrived at the Polo Grounds in 1962, many thousands like my parents embraced them passionately despite the fact that they sucked like no one else in baseball ever had. (I just learned Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? is back in print and it's the best baseball book ever written so you should get it if you love baseball and/or the writings of Jimmy Breslin). 

My team was always the NY Yankees and I had my Whitey Ford pitcher's mitt to prove it. But as I've improved (I don't like saying "aged;" I'm not brie or wine) my devotion has deepened and widened for all teams (well, not so much the Baltimore Orioles or the Miami Marlins, for reasons I'm not really clear about anymore). 

That's why yesterday, more so than either the All-Star Game or that pathetic TV exercise the day before it, the Home Run Derby, is so important to me. It was induction day at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and is always one of the great days of the year as heroes of my (and your) youth (and later middle ages) are enshrined forever among their peers as the greatest to ever play the best sport in the world, baseball. 

Congratulations to the class of 2019! You are amazing.
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hotter than Hooter in Heeter

Many think of me as someone who would bitch if hanged with a new rope. Perhaps, but I prefer to see myself as a Man of All Seasons. 

When it's winter, I complain about the snow, the cold and the ice. In the spring, my allergies give me cause and I give everyone else an earful of complaints. Come autumn, I fret about the bare branches, the accumulating tree leaves and the approaching winter months. 

Of course this weekend, like tens of millions throughout the country, I shelter as I swelter and stay indoors, hydrate, and complain about the heat but not too strenuously because I don't want to break a sweat while so doing.  

On Saturday morning I attended a Norwich City Council Economic Development workshop at Foundry 66 and very much enjoyed the air-conditioning. On my way into the building, passing through the Artspace parking lot that abuts These Guys Brewing which is next door to Foundry 66, in the midst of what was already a hot and humid Saturday (the bulk of the morning and the heat of the day were still before us) I passed a rose bush growing through the chain-link fencing that demarcates the two properties (I am always amazed at where plants of all kinds can grow and thrive and wonder if we humans might be better off taking our example from them) and this rose pretty much jumped out at me. Made the whole morning worth it.

"Well, last night I slept in the open (it gets so hot in the city)."
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step

"I sail to the moon
I spoke too soon
And how much did it cost
I was dropped from
The moonbeam
And sailed on shooting stars."

"Maybe you'll
Be president
But know right from wrong
Or in the flood
You'll build an Ark."

"And sail us to the moon
Sail us to the moon
Sail us to the moon
Sail us to the moon."

-bill kenny

Friday, July 19, 2019

Not Pink Floyd's Version

For me, ever since the Bush-Gore 2000 hanging chad contretemps, Florida, the Sunshine State, has been a source of mirth and merriment and sometimes various other emotions (often simultaneously) which brings me to a more recent chapter of something  I like to think of as "Only In Florida" (even though I suspect its not just there), this.

Yeah, it's gruesome and grotesque but the line in the story that stands out for me is "Authorities are still working to determine a motive..." Umm, show of hands: who among us can assist the agents of law enforcement in developing a hypothesis for the crime? 

Yeah, I think we can help them cut to the chase. Sorry! My bad. 
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wish in One Hand

The expression goes 'be careful what you wish for.' 
It's truer than you might realize or believe.

Jim Rohn
And remember both wish and work start with W, have four letters and perform best in tandem.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Why Keep Looking Back?

I was doing some between-grocery-store trips shopping on Sunday (you know, when there's a couple of things you want right now rather than wait until it's time to do your 'real' grocery shopping with the big cart and all) and was hailed by someone in the produce section (we were looking at fruits. Me, seedless grapes; him, peaches) who 'knew' me from that thumbnail picture in The Bulletin that pops up on random Wednesdays. 

I admit I was a little disappointed he hadn't recognized me from the 'Have You Seen this Dweeb?' photo on the side of the milk carton (and they say it 'pays to advertise') but was intrigued by his question which was: 'why are you so optimistic about Norwich?' He added that he'd lived here all of his life (so far) and hadn't ever encountered an "Energizer Bunny" (his words) when it came to Norwich. 

It took me a minute to slide the bass drum off my shoulders and put the sticks down and when I did I offered an elevator speech kind of answer (that's a vertical drive-by when you only have a floor or two to make your most salient point; in my case, I usually wear a ball cap to cover mine) that touched on the almost three decades my family and I have lived here, the positive changes we believe we have seen and concluded by channeling Randy Bachman's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet in terms of optimism about tomorrow and all the ones to follow.

Less than impressed or inspired he countered with my least favorite response that, for me, signals someone looking for an argument rather than hoping to have a discussion, the old "whatabout?" 

I've heard it used for everything from Hillary Clinton's emails to, in his case, the Reid and Hughes building, which I think I read was abandoned in 1987 and acquired by the City of Norwich in 1993. Not that he's unhappy about the projected rehabilitation unfolding there now, mind you, but 'what about the delay and all the mistakes for all those years (again, his words) by city leaders?'

Yeah. He had me there. Right at the corner of 'back in the day' and 'looking through sepia-tinted eyewear.' Rather than elevate his and/or my blood pressure, I offered a smile and nod as I retreated towards the deli counter because I knew we weren't going to change one another's minds about how each of us feels about the town in which we live. 

You can hold on to something from the past so tightly that you're not able to reach out and grab ahold of what's next. Norwich of 2019 is in more ways than I can ever imagine (or hope to understand) both similar to and yet different from the Rose City of 1993, or 1893 for that matter. And nothing we can do at this moment can, or will, ever change anything done or left undone from then. 

Have mistakes been made? Are we human? It's the same answer to both questions so let's adapt, learn from the past and move forward together into the future. And maybe come back later in the week for those seedless grapes when they're on sale.
-bill kenny