Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy holidays

We had a gentlish Christmas here, with good friends, a smaller-than-usual Boxing Day party (bad weather), and, of course, H, A, and sweet B. No other gifts necessary. Tonight, we plan another quiet holiday evening with an old friend, and then tomorrow, extending open arms to the new year.

This was B’s gift to her great-grandfather, and it conveys a pretty accurate picture, physically and attitudinally, of our girl. B’s 4-1/2 now, and although she looks amazingly like her mother at the same age, it’s becoming obvious she has an altogether different personality than her reserved mom (not to mention being a stunning fashion plate). On my side of the family, at least, the relative she’s most like is my mother, who was open, outgoing, social, and anything but shy. Like her, B will talk to anyone at any time about anything. She expects to like everyone and expects everyone to like her. Which, of course, they do. My feeling about this is, basically, envy.

Monday, December 24, 2012


I love this photo, stolen from H and A’s blog, of sweet B playing UNO with her father. She learned the game from a favorite set of so-called grown-ups over Thanksgiving, with much hilarity from all concerned, and has become a four-year-old demon card sharp. You can tell from her body language that she’s playing for keeps!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

O Tannenbaum

We always get our Christmas tree late. When H was a little girl, we cut it (or bought it if we were feeling lazy) and put it up on Christmas Eve Day. H would always feel sorry for the scruffy lot remaining, and pick out the scruffiest of all to take home. This is how we learned that it really makes no difference how perfect or im the tree itself is; once it’s decorated, it looks festively wonderful.

We’ve also worked for 40-odd years to keep commercial trinkets off the tree. We made our own when we were young (and had parties at which our young friends could mix mucilage, paper paste, and wine in their preferred proportions). We now have a tree heavily hung with memories, some created by friends and family, some by kindergarten artists, some simply thoughtful gifts.

We don’t agree on lights. We do agree that arguing at Christmas is a Bad Thing. So once the tree is up and watered in its stand, I gracefully withdraw and spend the resulting free time looking for gifts I’m pretty sure I bought back in the summer and hid somewhere exceptionally clever. Sometimes I find them. Most of them, anyway.

We’re early this year. Heading out shortly to choose a scruffy fir and have a young man bundle it up and tie it to the car roof. Sadly sans H, who now has a life to live and won’t arrive for a few days. But we’ll save the construction-paper star for her. Tree’s not properly dressed until she tops it off.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Deacons

Jacob Ruppert was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the other day. He was the owner of the New York Yankees who brought Babe Ruth to the team (Ruth called him “Colonel”), built Yankee Stadium, and established the Yankee dynasty. A worthy choice, and you can read a good article about it here. My favorite thing about Ruppert, though, is the name of the man he bought the team with: Tillinghast l’Hommedieu Huston.

I used to write quite a bit about baseball history, so I’m always interested when the Hall reaches back and chooses someone it missed in the past. This year, the special committee also chose a 19th-Century player I’m especially fond of. Deacon White was the first batter in the first game ever played by a professional league, and got professional league baseball’s first hit. He was a great hitter, and was generally considered the greatest of the bare-handed catchers, before the mitt came in. In a crude, rough, profane profession, White was, by all accounts, a clean living character, and got his nickname because he was an actual deacon in his church. None of this has anything to do with why I like him.

Here’s what I love: as major stars, he and a teammate once refused to report to a new team when their old one sold their contracts. After a big kerfuffle, they got half the purchase price—an unheard-of concession at the time. Questioned by the press afterward, the Deacon pithily expressed a deathless principle, “No man is going to sell my carcass unless I get half.”


My Uncle Bob was called “Deacon” as a boy, because he was once forced to stand up in church and give some sort of talk or reading. A less deacony person you would have been hard put to find. But he, like Deacon White was a terrific ballplayer. I was into my 30s before I stopped running into local characters who, when they found out who I was, would say, “your Uncle Bob made the greatest catch I’ve ever seen.” Always the same catch from the same game, sometime in the late 1930s. I’d always call and tell him. He loved it.