Tag Archives: weather

Irma Strikes

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

As I write this article before going to bed I am watching Hurricane Irma begin her journey of destruction through Florida after having traced a path of devastation across the Antilles and the Bahamas. Irma is massive and no-matter where she makes landfall the entire state of Florida will see some impact before she is done.

Irma has decreased a bit in strength having spent a little more time over Cuba than expected but will gain at least some of that strength back before she his the mainland. Winds in Key West were already gusting to hurricane force shortly after 11:00 last night. I have a friend who has remained in Key West to help those who cannot get out, even though he could have evacuated on Wednesday. He is now on some of the highest ground on the island in a cinder block house waiting for the storm to pass to begin his work. I have numerous other friends, mostly people who I have served with or taught who have evacuated to other locations from south and central Florida. I am quite anxious for them.

As I have watched Irma move across the Atlantic I have been mesmerized by her fearful symmetry, the large and well defined eye and the massive bands of rain. The radar and satellite images of Irma almost remind me of a beautiful yet deadly Great White Shark, beautiful to behold yet deadly.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of Irma.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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The Great Hampton Roads Blizzard of 2017

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I live in southeastern Virginia and beginning last night we have been under a Blizzard warning. Blizzards are not uncommon here, but normally when one wants a Blizzard here they go to Dairy Queen, but this time Mother Nature has given us a real blizzard.

It’s crazy enough here that the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore is in town. Parts of the area now have over 10 inches of snow although our neighborhood only has about 6 inches on the ground right now and I expect by the end of the storm our total will be between 6 and 8 inches of snow. The one thing that has kept our snow total down is the fact that we began the storm with sleet and freezing rain, which has also been interspersed with the heavy snow and high winds. The combination has left the roads very icy and dangerous.

We lost power for a couple of hours when according to the police some idiot crashed into a power line pole. When that happened we bundled up, defrosted the Escape and took a short drive over to Gordon Biersch until we knew that power had been restored. Since there were very few people there we had some wings and a couple of beers and Judy introduced me to a fascinating tile game called Quirkle.

The road conditions were bad. The snow was heavy and the roads icy and though few people were on the road, it was obvious that many had no idea what they were doing.

Now our Papillons love the snow, especially Izzy. It is so fun to see them play and get what Pappy owners call the “zoomies.”

So anyway, wherever you are I wish you a great day while I eat my special recipe chili and drink beer.

Peace

Padre Steve

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Trials and Tribulations 

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Our Neighborhood during the last Storm 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It has been an exhausting day. When we came back from Germany we found that our Ford Escape was so sodden from the last storm that while we were gone that the inside of the vehicle was still soaked and the seat and carpets were growing mold. Evidently we are not alone both our insurance company and the dealership where we bought the vehicle said that since the last storm which dumped 16 inches of rain in under three days has done the same to a lot of people’s vehicles. Our insurance company sent out an adjuster who totaled the vehicle. So the rest of the day was spent taking care of insurance, picking out a new vehicle and getting the financing all through my USAA app. The miracles of modern technology still astound me. I remember the first car I bought right after we got married in 1983 and how painful the process was, first the dealer, then the bank, oh my God, dealing with the scowling loan officer at the bank. I think that she enjoyed making us sweat, but I digress….

We also went out to look at the vehicle that we are purchasing, picked up our rental car, and I picked up a bunch of tools so I can start working on leveling ground and keep water out of the house during the next big storm which right now looks like it will stay away from us but unfortunately will impact a lot of friends in Florida. Georgia, and the Carolinas. Oh the perils of home ownership… but again I digress, it really sucks to be them right now and I do pray that Hurricane Michael weakens, turns away and just leaves them alone. I have been through enough hurricanes just to want it to go away.

Anyway. I think there was a Vice Presidential debate last night but I was too busy watching my Orioles die in the bottom of the 11th against Toronto in the American League Wild Card game, but there is always next year. I just hope that the Giants beat the Mets tonight but I am already too exhausted to watch.

So anyway, have a great night and stay safe. If you are in the Southeast and in the path of Michael my thoughts and prayers are with you as many of you will probably be dealing with what I have today and worse and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Snow Days: Closing up Shop in Virginia Beach and the Tidewater

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“Nature has no mercy at all.  Nature says, “I’m going to snow.  If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough.  I am going to snow anyway.”  ~Maya Angelou

We have lived in many places in our lives. Though my wife and I are originally from California we have lived in a lot of diverse places and climates. So weather, even though we have our preferences of what we like is really no big deal. We just take the time to get ready for it as best as we can knowing that we can’t control it.  

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We have lived a decent number of years in places where winter is really real, to include Germany, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As such we have learned how to drive in winter conditions and be safe. Little things like keep a safe following distance, slowing down, turning into spins to correct them when we hit black ice; these are standard operating procedure for us. We also do what we can around the house to make sure that we are ready, we have a snow shovel, ice melt salt, as well as food and of course plenty of beer.

We have been stationed in the Tidewater area of Virginia for some time now. During this time winters have generally been mild. On a few occasions we have had snow and ice. I think on two occasions we have had 5-7 inches of snow.

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The past two weeks have been a bit harder. The weather thanks to the Polar Vortex has been rather chilly. Last week we had about 4 inches of snow which due to the sub freezing temps stayed around almost a week. This week, after a couple of days break with mild temperatures winter hit again. This time is was a storm that came from the south which met up with an Arctic blast right over us.

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On Monday morning most forecasts called for 1-3 inches, but by Tuesday morning all the weather guessers were predicting 5-12 inches, a virtual Snowmageddon. Thankfully we are still better prepared than much of the South, but still this is such a rarity that things tend to grind to a halt here.

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And guess what, they got it right. Most of our area had snow totals of 7-10 inches. At my house we had 8-10 inches depending where in the lawn I measured. Drifts were higher.

The effects on us have been minimal, unless you ask our older dog Molly. I shoveled and put out more ice melt and salt and like I said we had food and more importantly beer.

However the region is in shutdown mode. Schools and local government offices have been closed and most will remain closed tomorrow. The military bases only have duty personnel, security, fire and maintenance personnel at work, with the main effort being snow removal. Last week we missed two days. This week it will be three as due to the conditions we will not go in tomorrow either.

Local businesses are either open with reduced staff or closed.

The main thoroughfares, the Interstate Highways, and major US and State Highways have been cleared, some other main roads are clear too. However most residential areas roads are in pretty bad shape. Since the snow was a dry powder a pretty heavy layer of ice formed beneath the snow, an ice layer in places 2 inches thick. Today it barely got above freezing so those roads are still going to be bad tomorrow. Thankfully we know how to drive in this crap.

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Molly our oldest dog made her peace with snow a few years ago. She is not happy with it but is obviously not impressed. On Wednesday morning I wondered if she was thinking something like “F*** this shit.” However, Minnie, our youngest has taken to the snow like a champ. The little 10 pound Papillon bounds through it and still does all of her tracking and patrolling.

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So tomorrow will be a day to take care of some stuff around the house as well as get an oil change and my annual inspection on my car.

Work will be sporty when I go back as we will be trying to get our students caught back up in this 10 week graduate level course.

So anyway until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Praying for the Gulf: Hurricane Isaac Channels the Ghost of Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was a devastating event. The hurricane nearly came ashore as a category 5 hurricane, weakening at the last minute before coming ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Even so the storm had major and long lasting effects. Over 1800 people lost their lives and property damage exceeded $81 billion. Parts of New Orleans still remain an uninhabited ghost town. It is etched in the psyche of the inhabitants of the Gulf Coast and the nation. Whenever a storm forms in the Gulf of Mexico it brings back those terrible memories of August 2005 when death came to New Orleans in the form of Katrina. The ghosts of Katrina still remain and Hurricane Isaac has channeled those ghosts.

Katrina

In 2005 I was serving as the Chaplain for the Marine Security Forces in Norfolk. I preparing to fly to New Orleans for a conference on Sexual Assault and Prevention. I was watching the weather closely and as Hurricane Katrina tracked toward New Orleans and grew stronger I got word that the conference had been postponed. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to the conference, meeting some colleagues that I had not seen and had planned to see a Minor League ballgame when in town.

My disappointment rapidly shifted to concern about the areas of New Orleans and Gulfport Mississippi. Initially I wasn’t too concerned but watched in horror as the storm strengthened. I was thinking hard about the Navy in Gulfport where I had talked the detailer out of sending me in to be the junior chaplain in the base chapel 2003 because I wanted to remain operational. Had I meekly agreed to the detailer we would have been directly in the path of Katrina’s track.

To watch the disaster unfold was frightening. To see people suffering and the breakdown in civil order as the city was inundated was frightening. Emergency response was woefully insufficient, public order completely broke down as levees failed and local response providers became victims themselves. The Super Dome was a prime evacuation center but it was hit hard, supplies we short and the attempt to provide shelter to the poor who could not evacuate a disaster. State, Local and Federal responses were poorly coordinated and executed.  I some ways New Orleans will never completely recover from Katrina.

It appears Isaac is tracking to New Orleans and Gulfport.  If it continues its path and the models are correct the effects should be nothing like Katrina although massive rainfall and storm surge could create some chaos. Thankfully some dry air is keeping Isaac from gaining too much momentum however Katrina surprised many by gaining a huge amount of power in a very short time.

Local, State and Federal government agencies are on alert, the National Guard has been activated in some areas and evacuations of coastal areas have been going on for a couple of days.

Isaac will have economic impacts beyond any life or property damage due to the storm but, hopefully only short term. Oil drilling and production facilities will be shut down for several days even if they sustain no or little damage and gas prices are moving up. Oil platforms have been strengthened since Katrina but all it takes as one platform to fail to create an ecological disaster.

Isaac has delayed the Republican National Convention in Tampa which was very much in the target zone just a few days ago. Anyone who has ever been to Tampa knows the danger if a storm was to hit it. There have been studies one of which, Project Phoenix http://www.tbrpc.org/tampabaycatplan/pdf/Project_Phoenix_Scenario_Info.pdf  which analyzes the effects of a worst case scenario. In 1921 Tampa was hit by a category 4 storm that did great damage to Tampa and St Petersburg which were then much smaller metropolitan areas.

Damage from the 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane

While Tampa should suffer little from Isaac, the city was right to take preparations and the GOP leadership was right to delay the start of the convention. Since hurricanes often make unexpected moves and sometimes strengthen in ways not expected they could not take that chance. That being said if Isaac hits New Orleans hard it could put a damper on media coverage of the convention. After all in our society natural disasters and human tragedies always get more coverage than political rallies.

I have been through about 6 or 7 hurricanes or tropical storms in North Carolina and Virginia and another in Okinawa. I have rode out hurricanes and Indian Ocean cyclones at sea. they are not to be taken lightly. Last year I experienced Hurricane Irene which was a very large slow moving category one storm which did enough damage in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to be classed as one of the top ten natural disasters in the history of the country.

So I pray for all of those in the path of Isaac tonight and in the coming days as the storm hits the Gulf Coast and then moves inland.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Kira Gets Married, the June Swoon and the Rise and Fall of Stars

kira 1Kira Arriving escorted by her Proud Dad Tony

After having to deal with what has seemed like and unending series a series of memorial services, funerals and family medical crisis’ I finally something to celebrate.  Judy and I are going to the wedding of Kira.  Kira goes to the same church as Judy whose mother sings in the same choir.  Kira is a choir child and occasionally will sing with them. We first met Kira when she had just graduated from high school.  Even then she was a joy.  She was and is one of the sweetest girls we have ever known.  Of course Judy knew Kira and her family at church.  I was on the road frequently and only occasionally attended the church.  I got to know her better over at Gordon Biersch where she worked when Judy and I first started going there.  The first time I actually met her Judy told me “THIS IS KIRA AND YOU WILL OVERTIP HER.”  I did so but never regetted it, Kira always earned it.  If things were not too busy and even if they were busy Kira would pull up a chair by us and just talk.  Sometimes it was life, sometimes church, school or relationships but the conversation between us and Kira was something that we looked forward to every time we went to Biersch.  Now we know all of the bartenders and quite a few of the servers at the restaurant, and we love them all and we pretty much overtip them as well.  Kira however was something special.  As she completes college I know that she will do great things.   Her soon to be husband is a lucky man and is advised to take good care of Kira.

Kira is also a beautiful girl.  She comes from Irish and Italian stock, but you would think that she came direct from directly from Erin.  Her personal and physical beauty must have attracted guys like flies.  She seems to have stepped out of an Andrew Greely Bishop Blackie mystery as the sweet and beautiful heroine who helps Blackie solve the mystery.   If we had a daughter, we would want her to be Kira.

Kira will be married in the yard of her parent’s home.  Her and our Priest, Fr Jim will perform the ceremony.   The location is because some people attending are decidedly anti-Catholic and will not enter a Catholic church.  This means of course that I will be in my clericals tonight and maybe even wear a big pectoral cross or crucifix.  I seldom wear these even though my church says priests should wear silver pectoral crosses.  I personally find them a bit pretentious, but in this case to help draw fire from Fr Jim and make the anti-Catholics uncomfortable I will wear this and ingratiate myself to them.  Now, this will be a sacrifice for me as it will be hot and humid tonight.  Today happens to be the hottest day that we have had this year the temperature will be in the mid to high 90s with a heat index of over 100 degrees.  I will likely be sweating like a Boiler Technician on a World War Two cruiser in the South Pacific, probably off of Guadalcanal.  I hate humidity.  However tonight the cause is worthy of suffering for Jesus and I’m sure that the Deity Herself will approve.  When Judy and I were married we had temps in the high 90s but we were married in California with NO HUMIDITY thank you God.  There is the possibility that we could get storms so I am praying hard that at least for the duration of the ceremony that the heavens do not open as this is an open ceremony.  Now I do this kind of thing a lot with the Tides with varying degrees of success.  I do pray that the Deity Herself will smile upon Kira’s wedding.

kira 2Kira and Nate

A practical implication for Kira and her very soon to be husband is that the Roman Catholic Church will not recognize tonight’s ceremony because it is not being done in a church building.  The Commonwealth of Virginia will recognize this, but the church will not.  So tomorrow they will have the rite done in the small chapel in the church proper.  It is kind of a two step way of doing this and thankfully for the bride she has a wonderful priest who will work with her.  The inside the building requirement is because of an understanding that since marriage is a Sacrament of the Church that the wedding is to be performed in a religious setting among the faithful.  Complicating the situation was that Kira’s family’s home is in the boundary of another far more conservative parish that would have had to okay it, no chance of that. I do understand this requiement under Canon Law and try to follow it myself though I am not Roman; however as a Navy Chaplain sometimes I make exception to this.  However I also have theological questions about the necessity of getting married in the church building.  If the church is present where the Bishop is and by extension where the Priest is; and the Sacrament is performed in accordance with the Marriage Rite and proper intent of it being a Sacrament  conducted by a validly ordained Priest, how can it not be valid?  It seems to me that the same Holy Trinity which sanctifies the Rite conducted by the Priest is capable of doing this outside as well as inside of the church building.  I’m sure that the early Catholic Church could not do this, neither the Celtic Catholic missionaries who converted much of Western Europe.  They simply did not have the facilities.  Likewise, the underground churches in China or Islamic nations. The Bishop or Priest was present with the faithful and that ensured the validity of the sacraments, not the location.  I’m sure to get a barrage of theological criticism from the Ultra Montanes Canon Law Nazis but what do I care?

kira 3Presentation of the Newly Married Couple

A SHAMELESSS PLUG AND FREE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE ABBY NORMAL ABBESS: Judy contributed her part for the wedding doing a beautiful Celtic design for the bulletin covers.  I saw her working on these and the detail that she puts into her work and the beauty of the finished product is simply amazing.  If you need digital artwork done for almost anything, or for that matter religious statues restored or custom clergy vestments she is incredible. Some of my posts about our Wiener Dogs display her work.  These are drawings and not photos if you have any questions.  Contact her through the like to the Abby Normal Abbess on the blog role link on right column of this page.

Speaking of the Norfolk Tides, they are emulating the old San Francisco Giants and are experiencing a “June Swoon.”  This has not been a good month for the home team.  The Orioles gutted our fearsome batting order bringing Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Oscar Salazar to the big team where they are all doing well.  Our hitting has died, thankfully the pitching staff is still holding together.  Even more importantly our closest competitor the Durham Bulls are doing even worse this month and we remain a game up in the International League South.  I must redouble my prayers for the team and perhaps ask Tides General Manager Dave Rosenfeld if I can bless the bats.  After all it was Yogi Berra who once said: “I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”  Since Master Yogi has made this pronouncement I am sure that something has happened to the bats and that an exorcism might be due.

Finally some stars are rising and falling this week in the Navy.  First the rising star:  Captain Frank Morneau, my first Commodore at EOD Group Two was selected for the rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half.  This is the same rank as a Army, Marine Corps or Air Force Brigadier General.  There are not many EOD Officers who have risen to this rank.  Captain Morneau is the second.  He was great to work for and is a dynamic and energetic officer.  I remember him most as being a baseball fan, actually a Yankees fan that carried a game used bat to staff meetings.  Since I only carry a baseball in my digital camouflage uniform and get some looks as I toss up and down as I walk our corridors I can imagine the looks that Rear Admiral Select Morneau will get at the Pentagon or Congressional hearings on EOD issues.

The falling star is Rear Admiral Alan Blues Baker, the Deputy Navy Chief of Chaplains and Chaplain of the Marine Corps.  Admiral Baker is a graduate of the Naval Academy and former Surface Warfare Officer.  He was investigated by the Navy Inspector General (why we don’t have an Inspector Admiral I will never know) for an allegation of retribution and violation of the Military Whistle Blower Protection Act in regard to the FY 2008 Chaplain Captain selection board.  I do not know Admiral Baker but as a career officer and chaplain in both the Army and Navy see his forced retirement and failure to become our Chief of Chaplains as yet another stain on our Corps.  I wish this had never happened and will keep him and his family in my prayers even as I pray for the future leadership of the Chaplain Corps.  Admiral Bob Burt who was scheduled to retire will remain in office for another year and Rear-Admiral Select Mark Tidd will assume the office as the Deputy and Chaplain of the Marine Corps as scheduled.

This issue grieves me.  I remember when my Brigade Executive Officer and later acting commander Colonel Jim Wigger tell me that the Chaplain Corps in the Army was far more political and had no Ruths, being so ruthless in comparison with the Army Medical Department.  The Army Medical Department was a pretty ruthless organization, so when Colonel Wigger told me that I was somewhat skeptical.  He told me that I was jumping from the “frying pan into the fire” and he was right.  The thing about chaplains regardless of denominational affiliation, theological background or rank is that we are expected to be above the board and exemplify integrity.  If we even give the impression that we are somehow unethical or lacking in integrity then what we say means nothing because people will either not believe us or discount what we say.  It creates a problem for those who are doing good things because some people will lump us all in with the wrong doer. When a chaplain falls it can create a crisis of faith in the community. It is the same as when a civilian minister falls from grace.  The Catholic pedophile priests, pastors of Evangelical Mega-Churches or large ministries who are accused of financial or sexual misconduct created the same problem for civilian ministers as well as military chaplains.  Admiral Baker’s fall comes on the heels of a young Chaplain named Dillman who was convicted of a number of sexual assault and improper conduct charges a couple of weeks ago.  This young man once named as a Military Chaplain Association of America  “Chaplain of the Year is going to Leavenworth for 10 years.  A couple of years ago we had a priest who was convicted of a number of sexual assault charges by having sex with other men and not telling them that he was HIV positive.  This chaplain was a “poster boy” for the Chaplain Corps and the Roman Catholic Church Military Archdiocese.  Another Chaplain named Klingenschmitt was convicted of disobeying lawful orders after having engaged in a prolonged period of protest against the Navy.  Klingenschmitt, who I have written about on this website before made an absolute ass out of himself by protesting the Navy in front of the White House, making spurious allegations against multiple commanding officers and lying through his teeth about “not being allowed to pray in Jesus Name.”  When I was at Camp LeJeune I had to relieve two Chaplains who were kicked out of the Navy for sexual misconduct, one Protestant and one Catholic.  When I was at Headquarters Battalion 2nd Marine Division I was given charge over several chaplains who had not acquitted themselves well in order to try to help them become successful.   I also saw Army Chaplains conduct themselves in less than exemplary fashion.

Of course chaplains and ministers are human and we all are flawed, as the Apostle Paul wrote “All have fouled up and fallen short of the Glory of God.”  This being said chaplains and ministers while being human and free to make mistakes need to be sure that those mistakes are not those which compromise our integrity.  When I was a young Army Chaplain we were told that SAM, Sex, Alcohol and Money were the three biggest issues that put chaplains out of the service in jail.   Let’s add retribution to that list.  It is a sad day for the Chaplain Corps.  Please pray for us as individuals as well as a Corps as we walk through this valley and keep Admiral Baker in your prayers.

Peace, Steve+

Post Script: The wedding went off well, the promise of the Deity Herself to hold back the rain materizlized as she had promised.  Howver it was hot and humid and though I look good in them was regretting wearing my clericals.  The June Swoon con tinues for the Tides and the Bulls but the Gwinnett Braves are sneaking up and are within two games of the Tides and one of the Bulls.  We have been getting some runs but need to have things come together and fast.  Harbor Park is withing my resposne time to the medical center so if there is nothing critical going on tomorrow afternoon I will head over and watch the game.  So for selfish reason if nothing else I pray for the good health of all tomorrow.

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April Baseball in Norfolk…Thank God for Global Warming

April is at long last over.  Though officially spring, the weather in Norfolk or the Hampton Roads area is often miserable.  It can and usually is cold, rainy and windy.  Low temps often are in the 40s and sometimes early in the month in the 30s.  While this is pretty pathetic compared to the Great Plains, Great Lakes and Northeast where winter doesn’t really end until like June, it is still a pain in the ass.  Especially if you are a member of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish.  Since I am a member of said parish the weather here in April hath great interest for me.  I think it was our first season here, I don’t refer to them as years, they are indeed seasons, that we went to our first home opener at Harbor Park.  To be succinct we were totally unprepared for the climatological experience having just come up from Jacksonville Florida.  In other words on the 3rd of April or whatever it was, we froze our asses off.

I really can’t remember if it was the 2004 or 2005 home opener the weather was quite sporty and very cold.  The temperature at game time was 38 degrees.  There was a wind coming out of Center Field blowing into our face at a steady 25-30 mph with gusts to 45.  You can figure the wind chill yourself, but to say the least it was cold as hell behind the plate at Harbor Park.   Now we came prepared.  We had heavy jackets, long  johns and layered clothing.  Yet we were still cold as hell.  I ended up spending a bunch of money on a Norfolk Tides blanket to go over us, instead of beer we were mainlining coffee and hot cocoa to try to stay warm.  Despite all that we did to keep warm we were driven from the park by the 7th inning stretch.  I’m sure that the ever patient Judy would have wished to depart a fair amount sooner, but there is something almost unholy and heretical to me about leaving a game early.  It’s like doing the “down and out” after Eucharist at church.  Catholics understand this, the people receive communion and continue walking out the door without waiting for the closing prayer and benediction.  However, in this case, in order to keep warm I finally gave in and took Judy home.  Weather of this kind has not been a singular experience in our stay here.  I have spent a fair amount of money on jackets, blankets and sweatshirts at Harbor Park as well as a few other stadiums just to stay warm.  Time and time again in April we have frozen our asses off watching ball games.  I have talked with the Deity Herself about this but She has basically told me to “Suck it up” as it “builds character.”  Since I have been labeled a character by some I guess that Her plan for me is working.

This year has been a mix of weather.  We have had a couple of very nice nights for baseball.  In fact I worn a t-shirt, cargo shorts and Birkenstocks on Tuesday night.  Last night we were back to cold weather with a lot of wind. It was cold enough for me to leave my seat and try to stay warm.  After making a deposit of my rental beer (one can never really buy beer) I went to get a to get a charcoal grilled King-Twist pretzel.  I made sure that I stayed up at the warm fire produced by the charcoal at the pretzel stand as long as I could while eating my cinnamon sugar pretzel.  After finishing this I took my second rented beer, a Gordon Biersch Marzen, and hung out with Chip, the usher for section 202.  Chip is a retired Navy Chief who served in submarines.  Over the past few years we have gotten to know each other.  He’s a great guy. After a nice conversation with Chip I moved down the stairs  to hang out with Elliott, the usher for my section 102 on the walk separating the 100 level from the 200 level. This is Elliott’s first year as an usher and he knows his baseball as does Chip. It is fun just to talk about life, baseball and faith with these guys.

So Elliott and I leaned up against the rail and talked about the game, life and family as I drank my rented beer.  One of the cool things about being a season ticket holder is that the park becomes like a comfortable pub where you relax and enjoy life with people who love the game.  For me this is pretty cool.  No matter how tough a day I might have, the calm brought about by the simple view of the diamond settles and centers me.

While hanging out with Elliott I was able to grab a foul ball which had come straight back and bounced off the press box into my my hands.  This was the second ball in two days that I had picked up.  The first was the night before when I outran a couple of drunks for a foul ball that had come back over the grandstand as I walked to my car.  Having kept that ball I gave it to the only kid left in my section of the stadium.  This was a hearty lad not more than four years old sitting with his equally hearty family.  Mom expressed her gratitude, the lad said thank you and it made me look like a nice guy and I still got to keep a ball.  Actually, the times a Harbor Park I have got a foul ball I have given it to a kid. This is not because I am a nice guy.  The truth is that I am like an evangelist for the Church of Baseball.  I remember what it was like to get my first baseball at Anaheim Stadium when I got one from Angels outfielder Billy Cowan.  I want to ensure that these young people join the one true church and not one of the apostate sects like football or basketball. As I said previous night I had picked up a ball that came over the grandstand while heading to the parking lot.  Since I was the only kid out there I figured that it was mine, the drunks behind me who were stumbling to try to catch me would have to fend for themselves.

As it were the weather stayed cold and windy.  I finally looked at Elliott and said “Thank God for Global Warming or we would really be freezing our asses off.”  Elliott laughed and said that he would have to remember that one and use it.  Chip also agreed. In April and early May I do have to thank the Deity Herself for global warning.  Come July and August I will be arguing with her that She needs to cool things down and She as usual will tell me to stop complaining and enjoy the game at the Harbor Park Parish of the Church of Baseball.

Peace, Steve+

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