Grandpa Blue Jay

On Mother’s Day, my family went to the Twin’s game to celebrate our Mother. We like to try out new seats when we go to the games together, and this time we sat in the Powerball Pavillion. We were surprised upon our arrival to discover that we were surrounded by Blue Jays fans. Fortunately, Rachel and I DO love Canada.

Well it turns out that what we love even more than Canada is sitting next to adorable old grandpa baseball fans.

This post goes out to Harmon, the 91 year old Blue Jay fan, bused in from Canada for this series against the Twins. He was a delight. He is our favorite fan of the 2011-2012 season. That much is for sure.

Special thanks to my sister Rachel, who helped me recall the greatness of Harmon (aka sent me an email with all that she remembered… most of which I copied and pasted into this).

Now you might be thinking, “Laura, I like cheering for baseball. I’d like to be a contender for your favorite fan of the season.” Well, it isn’t going to be easy. But here are some suggestions to get you started.

Have awesome heckles that are also ridiculously long. And don’t forget to have great vocabulary:

  • Harmon would shout out things like, “I SAY OLD CHAP, don’t wait to start throwing strikes on my account!” Basically anything that starts with “I say old chap” is going to be fantastic.
  • When you think your heckle should be done. Talk for about 30 more seconds.
  • Throw in a “jeepers creepers” when the occasion calls for it. And don’t be afraid to end with “eh”!

Know your team:

He educated Rachel on the Blue Jays and describe them in fantastic ways:

–one of their players (who went on to steal both 2nd and 3rd) was
really enjoyable to watch. He is very fast and agile and is a real
consternation to opposing pictures.
–when a guy named Colby was up, I learned that Colby is “cute” name
and he’s the best center fielder they’ve had in years. He covers a
lot of ground, but runs in kind of a loping fashion so you don’t
realize how good he will be.
–talked about how the pitcher is their ace, but seems to have one bad
inning in most outings. His wife added the comment that he sure
wasn’t pitching like an ace today
–he liked one of their players because he always got dirty in
games…a real go-getter
–average age of their players is 24, they are a real young team

Be a Fan of Baseball

He appreciated the good plays of the game, regardless of the team that made them. For example, both he and his wife were impressed with Willingham’s catch deep in the corner, was impressed with Dozier’s catch and turn to get the guy on 2nd out too, and was disappointed when they scored a run on a wild pitch/passed ball (because no one likes to see that sort of thing).

Get Everyone Involved

He chastised his fellow blue jay fans in our section for not cheering loudly enough. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it had to do with how could they possibly walk out of there with their
heads held high if they hadn’t given their all in cheering.

Coach from your seat. And be encouraging:

  • When the players would all go to the mound for a little chat, he would shout things about their meeting, “Not being worth a hoot” and tell them to get back to playing baseball.
  • When a pinch hitter was brought in late in the game, he yelled at him that he’d been sitting all day so he should be ready to go.
  • One guy swung at something in the dirt, he yelled at him to wait for a ball that “maybe isn’t on the ground.” Next pitch he didn’t swing at one in the dirt and he was pleased with himself.
  • When the last guy was up, he yelled, I hope that you realize that you are our last hope.

Participate. Until you stop.

Harmon sang along with O Canada until the high notes at the very end. Afterwards, he told Rachel he can’t hit those notes.

Have a Bit of Sass

when Plouffe got that triple, he made a comment about how Plouffe had walked earlier in the game, hit into a double play and then got that triple…”He’s really going places. I bet his average is up to 139 by now. Good for him” (All said in just a great old man sassy tone, not mean or super sarcastic or anything)

Feed Your Wife

Harmon brought his wife a hot dog and said “Here, eat this for awhile. We need to get some food in you…I’ll take my turn in a bit.”

Be 91 and awesome.

Do you see Harmon?? Don’t you want to be his friend too?

Thanks Harmon, for making our day. You are welcome back at Target Field anytime!

Eavesdropping for the Accent

I want you to know that the only reason I have this picture is because Rachel wanted us to stand ridiculously close to some NYC cops for a slightly extended period of time to hear if they really talk like in the movies.  The verdict?  Yes they do.  Totally worth the covert op. 

And while we’re on the topic of thick accents of awesomeness, when we were at the JFK airport buying a cup of peppermint tea, the guy behind us in line was this big brawny airport employee (I picture him to be one of the guys that loads luggage into the planes.  Or maybe he carries the planes to the runway – he just looked that strong) who has this super thick NY accent, orders an incredibly girly sugary seasonal espresso drink.  It made us giggle (from a safe distance) when we heard him talk vs what he ordered.

Where the Dream Began… Rockefeller Center

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

As my Christmas gift to you this year, I’d like to invite you to come ice skating with me below the tree at Rockefeller Center.  This is really the mutual lifelong dream which began my Christmas trip to New York with Rachel. 

My whole life I have dreamed of skating in this magical place.  Let me tell you: it did not disappoint.

We saw the tree from a distance – glorious in all of its lights.

We got in line, and thought, “are we going to make it through the line in time?”  because we knew there was a private event happening after the next skating timeslot.  We couldn’t stop taking pictures and gazing at the tree while we waited.  It was the most festive and pretty queue I’ve stood in. 

Then, they let us in!  It was a tremendously exciting moment.  The moment we knew our dreams would be coming true.

We went into a super tiny warming house, bought our tickets (cost an arm and a leg, but TOTALLY worth it) and then got our skates.  We had them store our boots and bags.

We step out onto the ice.  This is always a terrifying moment for me, as I generally skate once or twice a year, and in that first second of finding your skating legs, you never knew how it is going to turn out.  Falling the moment I stepped on the ice wasn’t part of the dream.  And thankfully it wasn’t part of the reality either. 

We began to skate.  There was Christmas music playing softly in the background.  Along one of the long sides of the rink you could look up and see the people waiting in line.  On the two short sides of the rink, you could look up and see trees covered in white lights, along with gold and silver flags lining the rink, and blowing in the wind.  And let’s not forget the throngs of people standing on the sidelines, watching the festivity on the ice below.  Then on the fourth side of the rink, the main attraction, the tree.  If I thought it was a sight to behold while looking at it from eye level, the view of skating below it and gazing up at the colorful splendor, was really something.  

There was a fountain with the iconic golden statue below the tree.  The fountain was the perfect white noise to give you a feeling of privacy, like you were the only ones on the rink, as you couldn’t readily hear the conversations of those around you. 

When we started skating, it was a bit crowded, but soon it thinned out and towards the end of our time on the rink, there were not many people left on the ice at all.  Even at the most crowded times, the rink was still comfortable to easily skate at your own pace (unless your pace is speed skating) because they limit the number of people on at any given time.

on the ice!

It was fun to watch our fellow skaters: the mother and daughter in adorable jackets and hats, the family, the couples, and the pageant winners.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  A group of about a dozen pageant winners/contestants, in their fancy short skirts and coats, complete with sashes that say things such as Miss Arizona Teen USA came on the ice with their videographer.  Utah: great skater who twirls and everything.  Arizona: just like it was impossible to count the number of lights of the tree, it was impossible to count the number of times she fell. 

This evening was Christmas magic at its finest.  We listened to Christmas music, shared Christmas memories and favorite Christmas traditions as we skated rounded and round.  We couldn’t stop smiling – there was so much Christmas joy in our hearts that evening.  And there continues to be overwhelming Christmas cheer whenever I think back on this amazing evening.  Dreams really do come true. 

My writing probably cannot do this event justice, so we’d like to invite you to join us at Rockefeller Center and skate with us, in the video below.  Remember to tie your laces real tight for good ankle support, toss some tinsel in the air, and press play. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 

See you on Boxing Day!

The perks of cheering for a losing team.

This weekend I somehow managed to find myself at three Twins games.  In the best of circumstances, this would be of utmost excitement.  However, these days in Twins Territory, we do not find ourselves in the best of circumstances, so I was unsure what number I should truly find myself at on the excitement scale.

All this time at Target Field did allow me to think through the silver lining of being a Twins fan.  I don’t think these principles necessarily need to be solely applied to the Twins.  Feel free to apply them to your child’s t-ball team, your friend’s city soccer league team, or your cousin’s intramural broomball team.

Perk #1: It is a no pressure situation.  You know that fun excitement/nervous/butterflies/anxiety you feel when your team is on the cusp of greatness?  I remember this energy at game 163 in the Dome in 2009 – it ended in a win!  I also remember this energy at the last play-off game we played at Target Field in 2010.  It ended so poorly.  Exiting that night was the saddest and longest walk down a ramp I’ve ever experienced.  When your team is expected to play poorly and lose though, it really takes away the stress!  How nice is that?

Perk #2: Giveaways have more irony, because you are also giving away players.  We traded Jim Thome this week.  I felt like there was no chance for closure or a goodbye.  He is a great player and a great man.  Ironically enough, the giveaway for our first game sans Thome was the Jim Thome Wind-Up Walker.  I guess if he can’t be walking across our field, he can at least walk across our desks.

Perk #2a: We can be happy for others.  Even though it makes me sad, I can see how it was the right move for Thome, and we still are cheering him on in MN, keeping track of his home runs past 600, even though he isn’t hitting them on behalf of the Twins anymore.

Perk #3: Fan greatness comes into play. When your team is doing well, fans aren’t nearly as impressive.  However, when your team forgets that they care, you and all your fellow fans will cheer your heads off for anyone who catches a foul ball in the stands.  You can bet that we just made his night by our applause.  You are welcome, kind sir.  Let’s hope Gardy saw you, and you might have a shot at playing tomorrow.

Perk #4: You can play games.  There is so much to take in at Target Field.  If there is no baseball to watch, you can play I Spy with your friends.  You are sure to see all the important and fun sights this way!  Another fun game is, “Which player from tonight’s line-up would you date?”  If you were busy cheering, you wouldn’t have time to talk about these important issues.

Perk #5:  Calling it an early night.  Normally I am a staunch “I will stay to the bitter end” sort of fan.  But when you are down by so many runs that it would take a true Mother’s Day Miracle to pull out a win, and you have had a long day at work (or the state fair) you could just walk away.  You won’t need to worry about missing anything.

Perk #6: Your expectations are lower.  On Friday, the Twins lost by approximately 1.2 billion.  On Saturday, we only lost by 2 runs!  I was thrilled to be at a game where our loss was so respectable.

Perk #7: The homerun derby comes to you.  Not everyone can go to the homerun derby, but when your team is playing really poorly, the other team may hit homer after homer.  It is like you aren’t even at a real game.  How many more can you guys hit?  Neat!

Perk #8: You can learn from other teams.  “Wow!  I think they call that a Double Play.  Maybe we will try it sometime!  That could be fun and different!”

Perk #9: PTL for an outdoor stadium.  Losing at the dome wasn’t nearly as fun as losing at Target Field, where you can enjoy some fresh air, a cool night’s breeze, and bugs zooming at your face.

Perk #10: You really get to know the minor league teams.  If your team is doing well and staying healthy, you just see the same old players all the time. But if players are on the “I suck list” and the DL, you get a chance to scope out the up and coming talent.

Perk #11: When you do win, it is so much sweeter.  Today we beat the Tigers 11-4.  (Special thanks go out to Luke Hughes for making that win possible).  I hadn’t heard Beautiful Day at the end of a game in forever.  It doesn’t raise my expectations higher for next time, but it sure was nice to head to Target Field and see the Twins actually play baseball!

Friday Funday part 1

My friend Rachel doesn’t work on Fridays, and since it is summer, neither do I!  We have dubbed Fridays: Friday Funday, and we think of ways to have fun on Fridays.  Oh, and then we have the fun.  It would be a little lame to just stop at the thinking.

We are two weeks in and are looking forward to this coming Friday when we fulfill our 2-year-old dream to go horseback riding together.  It will probably be magical.  But we can’t just jump right into that.  We need to start at the beginning, because it’s a very good place to start.

Two Fridays ago, we spontaneously began our tradition with a boatload of Friday fun.  (This is literal.  We were in a boat).

Rachel had a fancy t-shirt coupon for a free salad at Noodles, so we split a delicious summer salad and our mutual favorite: Pasta Fresca.  Over lunch she regaled me with tales of the cell phone mafia.

Then we decided to hit up the Container Store.  I have seen this store on the horizon for years and always dreamt of going.  I love containers so much.  Probably too much.  And I probably should be a much more organized person for how much I like them.  This store was a little slice of organizational heaven.  I spent my first trip just taking in all the sights.

if you look carefully, you can see the sparkly green paddleboat-ness

After this,  we spontaneously rented a sparkly green paddleboat, and sailed the high seas (or peddled our way at a slow, but reasonable pace, around the tiny chain of ponds).  I enjoyed the warnings posted on the boat to peddle slow as your legs may grow weary.  We also enjoyed watching a group of pre-teens rock their boat as much as possible while drenching themselves under the fountain.

maze winner!

After our paddleboating excursion ended, we wound our way through the landscaped maze.  You’d think that with all my hedgemaze experience that I would have been a natural.  I was not.  But I did eventually catch up with the mazing-expert.

never give up! never surrender.

Then came the most magical part of our afternoon.  We sat and chatted in Adirondack  chairs, next to a pretty garden, under a weeping willow tree.  I could have sat there forever.  I want to go back and sit there again.  Who wants to go with me?  It is like sitting in a fairy tale.

Know your audience. And your eavesdroppers.

My friend and I were out to dinner tonight – we hadn’t seen each other in a while, and so we were catching up on life.  Naturally, one of our conversation topics that came up was boys and dating.  Since there was nothing interesting to report, the conversation turned to where does one meet great single guys?  It was at this point in the conversation the guy from the booth behind us joined our conversation saying, “Right here!  I’m single!”

The end.

No really – that was the end of the conversation – I mostly just burst out laughing, and he turned back to continue talking with his friend (who incidentally was looking at him like, “did you really just say that?”)

amazing.

THE PLAID BANDITS: a day of people watching.

Sunday after church, my sister and I set out on an adventure with Flat Stanley, who arrived in my mailbox on Friday.  My cousin Katie’s friend is a third grade teacher and needed some midwest locations.  If you are not familiar with Flat Stanley, I will briefly explain.  He is a book character that sadly got flattened when his bulletin board fell on him.  Now he is able to do super cool flat things, like travel through the mail and visit new and exciting places – like here!  So… to sum up, Sunday after church my sister and I set out to take Flat Stanley on a grand adventure through the excitingness that is our home state, and photograph him at various locations.

What we did not plan for – but were pleasantly surprised by – is the amazing people watching opportunities that came our way.  I guess that is what happens when you go to lots of popular places on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

I will try to remember the highlights to share them with you.  Rachel – help me out if I am forgetting anything truly awesome.

  1. The Elliptigo – I was not fast enough with my camera, so this photo is from the internets, not from my own photography skills.  But we saw a man on this interesting invention at Lake Calhoun

For an even better understanding of this newfangled thing, watch it on Good Morning America:

  • Notice I am switching to bullets here because numbering wasn’t working.  They couldn’t all be numbered 1.
  • We had lots of great dog sightings as well.  one preppy couple was walking around the lake with one tiny little sweatered dog and one giant sweater-less dog.  And yes, to keep stereotypes going strong, the preppy lady had the tiny dog on her leash and the preppy guy had the giant dog on his leash.
  • Flannel Friends: We were driving down Lake Street to get to 35W and we noticed this amazing couple in their matching plaid flannel shirts.  Are they Peeping (Plaid) Toms?  Are they the Plaid Bandits about to break in to this store?  There is really no way to know.

  • Rachel spotted in front of us a mini cooper that either had multiple large dogs in it, or it had people with funny hats inside.  We don’t know which it is, and let’s be honest – either option gives me delightful images in my head.
  • We were so excited I was so excited to see that the TROLLEY was running today!  Trolleys are one of my favorite things and Rachel is such a good sister that she agreed to ride it with me.  I almost made a run for the hills when I saw the extreme amount of small children and Halloween decorations at the trolley station, but I am glad that I didn’t, because I would have missed this:  Yep, poodles aboard a trolley!  It almost trumps, or maybe even does trump, the time I saw this poodle sitting in the back of a convertible while the own brings two coffees back to the car.
  • Did I mention that the trolley was going to a “pumpkin patch” for Halloween?  I use this term loosely because really it was at the end of the trolley line and there was a small fenced in area with a bunch of pumpkins sitting out and families could go pick out a pumpkin.
  • You know you are at a “fancy” pumpkin patch when the lady in front of you carries her kid’s pumpkin in a Coach bag.  Really??
  • These points do not even include the ridiculous conversations we caught snippets of – but it is fun to imagine what those people are actually talking about – although I can only imagine what people think of me when they overhear my ridiculous conversations with my friends.

Oh yes, don’t worry, we did get some great photos of Flat Stanley standing on the beach, climbing a fall colored tree, riding a trolley, visiting the cherry and spoon, and climbing up a roller coaster at Nickelodean Universe.  Oh, and wearing a MN sweatshirt.  Naturally.