I FINALLY saw Bon Jovi in concert

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Once upon a time, not so long ago…

It’s no secret that I lived under a rock for a long time when it came to non Star Wars related pop culture, especially when it came to music. Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet pulled me out from under that rock and helped me see the light. Whenever my friends, Matt and Aaron came over, we’d pop the album in my cassette player. We subsequently turned my room into a stage in the center of a packed arena, pretending to perform Bon Jovi’s jams in front of thousands of screaming fans.

We needed another member to complete the group. Fortunately, Kevin was always a willing participant. So the four of us would jump up and down on my bed, shouting the lyrics at the top of our lungs and shredding the air guitar with each rockin’ solo.

See? There’s more to having a younger brother than just having someone to sneak attack with a pillow at Grandma’s house.

But that’s pretty fun, too. Continue reading “I FINALLY saw Bon Jovi in concert”

Just a boy and a dream about a motorcycle

When I was very young – probably five or six – my Uncle Don had a motorcycle. One day, I got to ride that motorcycle. This is the same Uncle Don who was me when I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, for those of you who are keeping score. I don’t remember if I asked or if it was offered, but I do remember climbing onto the bike and flying around their yard as Uncle Don took us for a lap or two around their house.

The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that I was the one who came up with the idea and asked for a ride. I mean, come on. Who could say “no” to this adorable kid?

I was the Ring Bearer at my aunt and uncle's wedding.

I mean, let’s be honest here. I was their favorite nephew at this point in my life. Of course, that might not be saying much. I might’ve still been their only nephew at that point, other than my brother. And since Kevin was so young at that point, I’ll just go ahead and announce that I was their favorite nephew. No need to take any votes or anything. Just look at that sweet, innocent face and tell me he wouldn’t be your favorite nephew, too.

While the details of who came up with the idea might be a little bit fuzzy, I can tell you this: It was amazing. I know the rush that this guy felt. I was on Cloud Nine. In fact, I was still so excited about what had happened that I ambushed Grandmama when she arrived at their house. I told her everything about it.

Bzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

I probably shouldn’t have said anything to Grandmama. She was not happy. And she let her son know about it. I still feel bad for getting Uncle Don in trouble with his momma. I hope he thought it was worth it. Because I sure did.

Fast forward some 35-ish years…

Weldu loves talking about driving. That really shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, he’ll be turning sixteen soon. And while he talks about driving a car quite a bit, I get the impression that his real dream is to own a motorcycle. He’s even asked me to buy him one. Of course, he doesn’t want just any motorcycle. He wants the nice, shiny, super-expensive ones. My standard answer to that request?

“Get a job.”

Because that’s really the only way he’s going to be able to get any kind of bike like that. So he can add that to the list of things he wants to use his not-yet-existent income to pay for. He already has plans to by stuff like a new phone, but he’s also planning on living in Europe for a while and he’s planning a return trip to Ethiopia. And he wants to save up some money for that.

So he probably definitely isn’t getting a motorcycle any time soon. But that doesn’t mean he can’t dream about riding one. Right? And if he could ride one? Well, that would just be fantastic now, wouldn’t it?

Enter Uncle Don. Again.

While we were in Evansville over the weekend, we helped Uncle Don move some things into storage. While we were loading the trailer, I showed Weldu Uncle Don’s bike. I told him he should ask Uncle Don if he would take him for a ride after we were done moving everything.adjusting-weldus-motorcycle-helmet

It took a little coaxing, but he did eventually ask him. And when the moving was done, we grabbed a helmet for Weldu and away they went.

weldu-and-uncle-don-leaving-on-a-motorcycle weldu-and-uncle-don-after-their-motorcycle-ride

Considering the amount of grief Uncle Don got from Grandmama about my magical motorcycle ride, there was some discussion about whether to show Christy the pictures from the ride or not.

weldu-and-uncle-don-on-a-motorcycle

I’m not going to keep something like this a secret. Weldu needed to be able to share the excitement of this moment with his mom. So of course I told Christy about the whole thing.

Or did I…?

 

This is why I got misty-eyed at Aly’s final choir concert

Aly's Final Concert

A few weeks ago, we gathered in Aly’s school gym for one final time as the 8th grade choirs gave one final middle school concert. As they gathered to sing the final song, I have to admit that I had a bit of an emotional moment. I even got a little misty-eyed. I probably wasn’t the only one. But it probably wasn’t for the reason y’all think.

Yes, it’s crazy that our Aly is already out of middle school and is going to be a Freshman next year. It’s a little concerning how fast everything is flying by. I was warned about such things, and I’ve tried to soak in as many moments as possible. And it’s amazing to see how our little girl who used to talk to bees and make mud angels in the puddles grow up right before our eyes. But that’s really not the reason I felt this wave of emotion come over me. And it’s not because this was her final choir performance, since she’s not planning on participating in any of the choirs or singing groups in high school.

No, there was a much more personal reason. In order to explain why I felt the way I did, I have to give you a little bit of background. So let’s rewind the clock some 25-ish years.

I hated middle school.

There. I said it. It’s out in the open for everyone to know. I hated almost everything about middle school. I hated riding the bus.* I hated algebra. I hated the cliques. I hated the inside jokes and the slang everyone would try to use. I hated being made fun of. And having come from a relatively small school where you knew everyone and everyone knew you, I hated being at such a large school where it was hard for me to know anyone.

I wasn’t a Jock. I wasn’t a Prep. I wasn’t a Hood or a Nerd. I was an outsider who didn’t really fit in with the rest of the outsiders. And I most certainly didn’t fit in with the popular kids. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. So I was overwhelmed throughout most of my middle school  career.

Me in 6th grade

I hated middle school.

I’m sure there were good things about middle school, but I’ve unintentionally blocked them out. OK, that’s not entirely true. I do remember some good things. I was baptized while I was in middle school. I became heavily involved in Scouting and came under the leadership of some pretty amazing mentors who poured life into me, even when I was silently miserable. My parents did the best they could. They’d never parented a middle school student before. And that’s funny, because I’d never been a middle school student before. Looking back, I’m pretty sure we were all just making it up as we went along. In spite of the struggles, I did know they loved me. But school itself?  I’ve blocked out most of my middle school experience. A lot of it is a blur. And I think I’m OK with that. Because here’s some of the stuff I do remember…

I remember the beginning of Summer Break between my final year of elementary school and my first year of middle school. I was told that the rising 7th and 8th graders had a “hit list.” You didn’t want to be on this hit list because that meant you were going to get beat up. Every day. At the beginning of Summer Break, a well-meaning friend told me that I was on the hit list. That ruined my Summer. It probably helped ruin the first semester of 6th grade, too. I was never beaten up in middle school. Never got anywhere near a fight.** My friend did. Once. Kind of. Actually, he was just pummelled while the rest of the school watched because he refused to fight back.

Speaking of that friend, he was one of the only friends I really had in middle school. And I remember constantly teasing him and mistreating him because I thought it would get others to think I was cooler than I really was.

I remember people making fun of my hair. Relentlessly. Repeatedly. Nonstop. Unceasingly. You get the picture?

Me in 8th grade

I remember feeling so much pressure to be accepted that I lied to people about having a girlfriend who lived out of the country. While I really did know some girls who live overseas, I want anywhere close to being in any type of dating relationship with any of them.

It was horrible. I can’t imagine what life would’ve been like if social media was thrown into the mix. You have no idea how thankful I am that it wouldn’t exist until long after I was out of middle school.

I hated middle school.

About a year ago, I had the chance to attend a class reunion at our middle school. I originally planned on attending, but work obligations prevented me from making the trip to my hometown. There was a part of me that was bummed. In spite of my horrible middle school experience, some of my middle school classmates did become friends of mine. In high school. So it would have been nice to see them. But I have to be honest. I was mostly pretty OK with not going back. Why relive such an ugly time in my life?

So as I watched Aly perform on stage, I thought about how positive her final year of middle school had been. Of course, there have been some rocky moments during her middle school career. That’s part of the middle school experience. But she is moving on to high school as a grounded, confident young woman.

I secretly shed a little tear and secretly wiped it away before anyone could see it. Because while I know high school can have its share of drama and challenges, it is so much better than middle school. I know that it feels like middle school never ends. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel and it can lead to better things. Much better things. I’m convinced that Aly is going to love high school.

That tear also leaked out because of my great sense of relieve. Two of our children have successfully navigated the middle school minefield. We’ll have three high school students at the beginning of this school year. That means we only have one more kid to go through middle school. So in my head, I gave Christy an imaginary  celebratory “high five.” They made it through middle school. And I think they’ve turned out to be some pretty amazing kids. Just one more to go.*** And that’s a few years away.

We’ve got this.

If you know a middle school student, especially one who is struggling, please be there for him or her. Be an encourager. Be a shoulder to lean on. Please pass on the message that it will get better. So hang in there.

Middle school was not the end of the world. It gets better. So much better.

And I guess that was a good lesson to learn. No matter the circumstances that surround you, it’s not the end of the world. Like my Grandmama used to say, “This, too, shall pass.”

*I did think George, our bus driver was pretty cool, though. He probably let us get away with more than we should have during our daily commutes, but he tried to ease the boring bus ride. In spite of his efforts, I still didn’t like riding the bus. I was much happier walking to school like I did in elementary school.

**Shoot, the only time I was ever in anything close to a fight (other than with my brother) was when I was in 1st grade. And that was more like people running after each other and taunting each other.

***For a variety of reasons, I’m glad we didn’t enroll Weldu in school as soon as we got home. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like for him to try to navigate the final semester of 8th grade. Middle school is hard enough when you’ve grown up here in the States!

Celebrating Bosse Field’s 100th anniversary!

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Bosse Field is 100 years old

I’ve been to sports facilities that just ooze history out of every corner. It’s a mystical, magical experience. Some say Bosse Field has that same kind of feel. There’s good reason for that.

Bosse Field is about to turn 100 years old.


It’s the third-oldest ballpark still in use in the United States. Only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are older. From concerts to an NFL team (ever hear of the Evansville Crimson Giants? Yeah, me neither. You learn something new every day.) to minor league baseball, Bosse Field has seen its share of memorable moments.
Bosse Field

I have a few personal memories of Bosse Field. Both are honestly pretty faint. I think I remember attending an All Star game for our t-ball league there. I also remember attending a Triplets game. Or maybe more. And I think I had one of their Knothole Gang shirts at one point.

Bosse Field is a place steeped in history. That made it the perfect setting for A League of Their Own. Although Madonna later said she wasn’t much of a fan of our fair city, the fact that A League of Their Own was filmed in Evansville was a source of great civic pride. In many ways, it still is.

Shop for thousands of 100% authentic autographed sports collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comI still puff out my chest a little bit whenever I talk about the movie. I’m always quick to inform people that it was filmed in my hometown. And that Uncle Dale took Grandmama to the filming of the final scenes. They needed extras dressed in 1940s attire to fill the stands for the championship game. I have other friends that were there that day, too. Every time I watch the movie, I scan the crowd to see if I can find anyone I know. I haven’t been able to find anyone yet. But I’m sure I will someday.

I remember riding in the car with my Aunt Patsy one evening. A limo pulled beside us while we were heading down Morgan Avenue. “What if that’s one of the cast from that movie they’re filming here – the one about girls’ baseball?” we said to ourselves. Then a window rolled down and a hand reached out and waved at us. Aunt Patsy was convinced that it was Tom Hanks. I’m still not convinced.

Fortunately, Mr. Hanks doesn’t think Evansville is the equivalent of Prague.

So in honor of Bosse Field’s 100th anniversary, I’m going to be introducing my kids to A League of Their Own. Of course we’ll have peanuts and cracker jack. And since the Rockford Peaches play such a prominent role in the film, we’re gonna have an old favorite of mine from my Scouting days: Simple Peach Cobbler a la mode.

What? I haven’t shared this fabulous recipe yet? That’s a travesty. I’ll have to do that very soon. But for now, you’ll have to wait. But don’t cry about it while you wait.

Because there’s no crying in baseball.

If you’re looking for smoe pretty cool memorabilia from A League of Their Own, check out this link:Movie Collectibles and Memorabilia. They also have some pretty cool All American Girls Professional Baseball League memorabilia, too.

4 signs I’m turning into a grumpy old man

Grumpy Old Man
One of my students has consistently called me Grandpa since the day I showed up in his class in October. Granted, he does occasionally call me “Daddy,” too. And there was one day a few weeks ago where he walked down the hall with me and introduced me as “Mr. Matt” to everyone he met – real or imaginary. So there are days where he’s all over the place with what he calls me. But his go-to name for me is Grandpa. Maybe I look like his super-young, super-hip (is that what the young whipper snappers call it nowadays?) grandpa. Or maybe it’s just the head of gray I mean…white hair. White hair. Yeah…that’s the ticket…Because it’s totally turning white and not gray at all. So maybe it’s the color of my hair that makes him assume I’m a grandpa. Or maybe there’s no real explanation of what’s going on in this kid’s head. He just wants to call me Grandpa.

I guess I’m technically old enough to be his grandpa. I guess that means I’m getting older.

I had another realization about my age recently. I was talking with a co-worker one night and realized that I have scars on my body that are older than he is. The scar from me jumping through an aquarium? Older than him. The scar from the time where I was teaching ax safety and wound up cutting my leg with an ax? Yup. Older than him. Wait….how is it possible that I’ve been blogging on this site for 10+ years and I’ve never talked about these scars? This is a travesty that must be corrected. I sense a series a-brewing.

But I digress…

Those scars? Totally older than him.

Dang. I really am getting older. I like to say that I agree with Bon Jovi. I’m not really getting old. Just older.

But maybe that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Maybe I’m not just getting older. Maybe I’m getting old. Here are four reasons that there’s a very good possibility that I’m starting to become a grumpy old man.

1. Catching some zzzzz…

Before I elaborate, I feel like I should make a disclaimer about my grandparents so you don’t misunderstand me. Grandmama and Grandpa were not grumpy people. They laughed. A lot. I remember them as generally, genuinely happy people.

Grandparents’ wedding picture. I think.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


I remember their smiles. And I definitely remember their laughs. Especially Grandpa’s. It’s been 25-ish years since I’ve heard that laugh, but I can still hear it echoing through my memories when I think about him. Boy do I miss that laugh. I wish my kids could’ve heard that laugh. I know they would’ve loved it. And he would’ve gotten a big kick out of them.

So you get the point. Grandmama and Grandpa were happy people. Joyous people. They were not grumps.

But, boy could they sleep.

Whenever we’d go stay at my grandparents’ house, the night would almost always end with Grandpa asleep on the red carpet that covered their Living Room. It didn’t really  matter what was on TV. He generally fell asleep while we were watching it.

And Grandmama? As she got older, she fell asleep almost anywhere at almost any time. I remember having conversations with her as she would sit down in the recliner. I’m not kidding: 30 seconds after sitting in her chair, she’d be asleep. Her best friend told us that she also had a knack for falling asleep in the movie theatee. I remember some other places where she fell asleep, but she’d probably be mortified if she was still alive and found out that I’d shared them in public.

The grand-apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, apparently. I fall asleep all the time while sitting on the couch. I’ve also dozed off a time or two during the occasional trip to the local dollar(+75 cents) theater. I am certainly following in Grandmama and Grandpa’s footsteps.

Does this make me grumpy? No. Not unless one of the kids rudely rouses me from my slumber upon the couch. Then I’m not very happy. But that only lasts for a little while. It isn’t a perpetual state of grumpiness.

Does it make me old? Probably. I think it’s safe to say that the all-nighters from college, the dates that Christy and I would have that would last until 5 in the morning, and the precious few hours of sleep that I got while our kids were babies have taken their toll. So now I’m playing catch-up. One cat nap at a time. Does this mean I’m ancient? Nah. But it’s pretty clear that I’m older.

Now please excuse me while I take a quick nap before I write the rest of this post.

2. Jaywalkers

Nothing makes me grumpier than a jaywalker crossing the street in front of my car while I’m driving down the road. This really didn’t bother me too much until sometime early last year when it was dark and a lady jumped out from between two stopped cars going the opposite direction. I was *this close* to hitting her. I’ve included a banana for scale:

That’s close.

Too close.

If she had jumped out any more, there’s no way I wouldn’t have hit her. All because she couldn’t walk a few hundred feet and cross at an intersection.

Now I just get grumpy when someone walks out in front of me and isn’t using a crosswalk or at an intersection. It makes me so grumpy that I’m tempted to speed up a little and blare my horn, just to scare them a bit. Of course I would never intentionally hit someone. But scaring someone enough to reconsider jaywalking might be fun. You know I’d never really speed up like that. But I may or may not have blared my horn at jaywalkers as they walked in front of me.

Because I’m grumpy like that.

Don't jay walk 1937

3. People who walk the wrong way

Speaking of pedestrians, people walking the wrong way down the street make me just as grumpy as jaywalkers do. Walking on the right side of the road, with the flow of  traffic instead of against it, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s unsafe for the pedestrians. It’s also unsafe for the people who are driving. Unless you want to increase the chances of being involved in a car vs. pedestrian accident, it just makes sense to walk on the left side of the road.

And because I really don’t want to be involved in any car vs. pedestrian incidents, I admit that I’ve at the occasional pedestrian (it’s usually a small group of teenagers) for walking down the right side, which is the wrong side, of the road. It isn’t safe and it just makes me grumpy.

Wrong Way

Very, very grumpy.

4. No turn signals

There are a lot of things I miss about living in the South. I’m sure it’s a blog post waiting to happen. There are a few things, however, that I don’t miss. One thing that drove me nuts about driving in Upper East Tennessee was the regular use of “courtesy signals” by the locals. Have you ever experienced this?

Let’s say a car is two spots in front of you and is turning left. That driver has the left turn signal on and is waiting for an opening in oncoming traffic to make the turn. As a “courtesy,” the car behind that car – the car between the two of you – turns on his/her left turn signal in order to let you know that the person in the front of the line is waiting to turn left. There were times where I encountered five or six cars flashing “courtesy signals” while waiting for the first person to turn. Once that person turned, all of subsequent drivers went straight.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. I never have. But it drives me nuts.

2005 BMW 645Ci Cabriolet - Flickr - The Car Spy (21)

That pales in comparison to how grumpy I get when someone doesn’t even bother to use a turn signal at all. I like to minimize uncertainty when I’m driving. I like to have an idea what my fellow drivers are trying to do. If you’re turning and I don’t know that ahead of time, that makes me grumpy.

Turn signals are our friends, people! Use them!

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Well fliberty-floo. Flobble-dee-flee!

I’m coming closer and closer to being a grumpy old man. I’m sure this’ll change in the future as my grumpy old manliness continues to grow, it seems that most of my grumpiness seems to be tied to driving. But it’s not because of anything I’m doing. It’s everyone else. Please show some courtesy and some common sense when you’re walking or driving down the road. If you don’t, you just might encounter a grumpy old man like me.

That’s the way it is.
And I like it.

Now get off my lawn.

The sun continues to rise

Sunset from Base Camp at Philmont photo SunriseatPhilmont_zpsbc936663.jpgI took this picture in July of 1994. It isn’t that great of a picture, but it’s one of the most special and most memorable pictures I have taken from any of my five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch.

I had just completed my final trek at Philmont. I thought this would be my last hurrah* at Philmont. Kevin and I had the amazing opportunity to hike down Time Ridge from the Tooth of Time together in a very cool moment of brotherly bonding. I was going to be heading away to college in a month and I knew that shared experiences like these were going to become few and far between. So I cherished that moment as much as a fresh-out-of-high-school kid could cherish.

Shortly after coming off the trail, our crew received all our mail that had been sent to us while we were in the backcountry. Kevin and I received an envelope that had been sent overnight to us, which seemed rather odd. No one had ever sent us an overnight package while we were at Philmont. It was a little too unpredictable (and expensive) to try to send something like that. So we opened the envelope, which contained a note from Dad: Grandmama was in the hospital.

We didn’t really have much time to dwell on this news because of all of the debriefing events that had to take place before we could head home. We knew we’d be calling home later that evening. It was Mom’s birthday and we had a plan.

After the Closing Ceremony, we grabbed as many people as we could and had them huddle around a payphone. As soon as mom picked up the phone, she was serenaded by a motley group of 15+ teenage boys singing “Happy birthday, dear Mom!” to her over the phone. As soon as the song was over, some of the adults from our crew led the impromptu Boy Band away as we continued our conversation with Mom and Dad.

“How’s Grandmama?” I asked, fully expecting to hear that she had already gone home.

I don’t remember what Dad said or how he said it because all I remember was knowing without him even finishing the first word that Grandmama had died earlier in the day – probably while Kevin and I were hiking down Trail Ridge together.

As I turned to try to tell Kevin what I had just heard, words totally escaped me. I hoped he could somehow read my mind because I could not find a way to make myself say the words, “Grandmama died.”

Then I felt it. It was caring and comforting and strong. It was a hand on my shoulder. Mr. G had stayed with us and was there for us. He had found out beforehand and was there to comfort us as we found out this heartbreaking news some one thousand miles away from home. I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through that phone call without him being there for us.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I got up early and walked around through Base Camp. I remember seeing the vast sea of stars high above me and feeling extremely alone and sad. Then the sun began to rise. And I realized that even though things were dark and heartbreaking for me, there was still a glimmer of hope. The sun does still rise. The day does come. And the darkness is pushed away.

So I took this picture to remind me of that moment – to remind me that light is stronger than dark, even when I hurt deep deep down in my soul. When everything is falling apart and you’re completely isolated and alone….there’s still hope. Light still wins.

I thought of this picture yesterday as I was standing in a room with my colleagues, learning that our company was going through another reduction in force. This announcement was probably more difficult to hear than the one 10 months ago because I soon realized that many of the people I worked with very closely had become casualties of this “right-sizing.” And then I felt it again. It was the strangest thing. I felt this hand on my shoulder, much like I felt when Mr. G was putting his hand on my shoulder and telling me it was going to be OK. Of course, his hand wasn’t on my shoulder.

No one’s hand was on my shoulder.

But I felt it. And I wanted to go around the room and put my hand on everyone’s shoulder, telling them that things were going to be OK. We were going to get through this disappointing news. I wanted to find my colleagues who had just been let go, put my hand on their collective shoulders, and be there for them.

As I left the office after the announcement that day, I had decided that I was going to find this picture and post it with this story as an attempt to encourage my friends who lost their jobs that there is light at the end of this darkness and that I have confidence that all of them are going to go on to do some pretty amazing things in their careers. I have no doubt about that.

Then it became clear that Christy’s dad was not going to live very much longer. And I realized that this picture that I had been thinking of for the last 36 hours was really for me and my family.

There is light at the end of this darkness. There is hope at the end of this heartache. Life will continue to go on, even as we walk through the valley of death’s shadow.

Even in the midst of this devastating series of events, it behooves us to live, and live to the fullest.

*It turned out that this event was not my last hurrah at Philmont. I returned the next two Summers as a staff member. 

C is for Coffee

C is for Coffee

I’ve heard stories about my Grandmama and coffee. I recently had this confirmed because I wasn’t sure if I was actually remembering this story or if I had somehow made it up and convinced myself that it was real. After talking with my aunt, I now know that it was very real. Grandmama’s kids weren’t allowed to even get out of bed until after she’d had her first cup of coffee. While that’s a pretty strong dedication to coffee, it probably speaks more to the reality of having four boys and a girl in your house.

I don’t remember ever experiencing that rule when Kevin and I would spend the night at their house. I do, however, remember that Grandmama tried to pass along her dedication to the magic bean. There were several times where I’d be sitting at the breakfast table with her and she’d offer me a cup of coffee. I tried it a couple of times. She’d always suggest I put a lot of milk in it.

It never helped.

I couldn’t stand the stuff.

Still can’t.

So when Christy and I were in Ethiopia to bring Mihret home with us, I found myself in a nice little dilemma. Ethiopians love their coffee. They’re quite proud of it. I knew we were going to participate in a coffee ceremony or two and I didn’t want to offend our hosts, but I was genuinely concerned about gagging on the coffee or needing some kind of flavored drink to serve as a chaser to wash away the expected coffee nastiness.

I never had to chase the coffee. It turns out, Ethiopians know how to make a pretty amazing cup of coffee. I guess it makes sense. After all, they’ve been doing it for centuries. I’ve never experienced a drink like it. It was pretty fabulous.
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony 001

Call me a coffee snob if you want. I don’t care. I really don’t like coffee. Unless it’s made by the experts – and even then I only enjoy it on a limited basis. Fortunately, they brew a pretty good cup right here in town.

And I like to think Grandmama would be OK with that.

The scary elevator lady

I was five or six when my mom had back surgery. There are a few things I remember about this, like staying with different family members after school, and visiting mom in the hospital. I remember she was in a dimly lit room with some kind of metal frame surrounding her. I don’t really remember a whole lot about visiting her. Probably because I was too traumatized on the way up to see her.

Grandmama had brought me to the hospital. We entered the elevator with an older lady who had an oxygen tank in tow. I’m pretty sure I had never seen someone hooked up to oxygen before. And since she was already a little bit scary looking with her bulging eyes and her sunk-in cheeks, let’s just say that I didn’t want to get anywhere near her or her freaky tank that was connected to her. I was already on edge. I realize she probably wasn’t really that scary in the grand scheme of things, but she was a scary sight for me as a six year old. I kept Grandmama between me and Scary Oxygen Lady.

She didn’t really look like this, but you get the idea.
Image via –fandomania

Then the elevator stopped.

And I freaked out.

I felt like the walls were closing in on me, forcing me to get closer to Scary Oxygen Lady. I practically climbed up Grandmama’s leg as Scary Oxygen Lady finally picked up the emergency phone in the elevator and called whoever it is you call on the emergency phone. I don’t remember anything she said except, “Hurry. There’s a little boy that’s pretty scared because the elevator has stopped.”

I tried to figure out a way to let everyone know that I wasn’t just scared because of the elevator stopping. I was scared out of my mind because I’d never seen anyone hooked up to oxygen like that before. And now I was stuck with her.

They eventually got us out. I think it took one or two years. Maybe a decade.

Or more.

For years, I refused to ride the elevator. Mom and Kevin would get on and ride with no problem. Me? I took the stairs. I was scared to death of riding elevators. I’m pretty sure I had an unhealthy obsession with potentially getting stuck in another elevator. I’m pretty sure it could have been classified as a phobia.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t in Brazil when they did this prank. Because if this had happened to me, I don’t think I’d even be able to go into a building with an elevator ever again.

ever

 

Goodbye, Old Friend…

I’ll be honest.

I wish we were in Evansville today.

Today’s a big day at home, with Aiden’s participation in his fourth Pinewood Derby (more on that at another time), and the kids’ Upward basketball game.

But I still wish we were in Evansville.

If so, I would do everything I could to be at the Aces game that’s happening right now. Because it’s the last game they’ll ever play at Roberts Stadium. And I’ve got to admit, I’m a little misty-eyed about it.

I understand the need for a new arena in Evansville. And although it took me a while to come around I support the move.

That being said, it’s like I’m about to lose a friend.

Roberts Stadium has been good to me. I used to go there several times a year. Grandmama and Grandpa lived several blocks away. I remember walking to several games with them. And because of Grandmama’s position as an employee of UE, I think Kevin and I would get into games for free (or maybe it was just a steep discount – I’m not sure). And we went to a lot of them in the late 80s, early 90s.

When I think of Roberts Stadium, many memories come to mind. But they’re too numerous to put in one post. I’ll do my best to share some of them over the next few days as I join other Evansville natives in remembering this special building.

Do you have any favorite memories of Roberts Stadium? What are they?