Baseball, Injustice, and Deals With The Devil

SpringTraining

Baseball for Twins fans begins tonight. I am curious how they will treat the National Anthem. After all, Minneapolis was the spark for the racial justice movement and some players have been very vocal in their support. The Pohlad family, who owns the team, pledged $25 million to racial equality causes. I am betting the entire team takes the knee tonight, similar to what the Nationals and the Yankees did last night. We’ll see.

As my readers know, Tricia Helfer has been the subject of this blog a few times. I thought of making a blog post so I thought I’d find a recent photo of her and post it. So here she is at a recent Humane Society event. If this is what middle age looks like either her good works have sustained her or there has been a bond with dark forces. Or complements to her daily regimen.

TRICIA HELFER at The Humane Society To The Rescue Gala

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Shelter From The Storm

Leonard and Amy

This was taken in the Man Cave on Sunday. We had yet another day of ridiculously high winds and these two cats (Leonard l, Amy r) had seen enough of that shit. In fact, we have had nothing but strong winds since late April. It’s dried everything out, the grass taking on characteristics of dry toast. Sunday night we finally got a drenching of sorts because of a pattern of thunderstorms moving through. Our total was about an inch and a half. My lawn was elated.

We have done quite a bit of planting this spring: flower beds, flower pots, a vegetable garden, and a new apple tree (Zestar!). I’ve been fertilizing and soaking all of these on a regular basis and they’ve all starting to sprout/flower. The rain did liven up their progress but I had done more than enough for them to thrive.

Now, at this point last year, my hands were in hideous shape. The bus driving had driven the tendinitis to redline levels and working in the yard only aggravated it. Mowing lawn was particularly bad. So at this point last year, playing guitar was a distant dream. Hell, typing was painful.

But this is a new year and there has been no driving a bus full of screaming brats (yeah, I’m not missing that shit). I did figure that my playing was going to suffer. Last Friday I had completed three days of hard work outside, including mowing. That is usually disastrous for my tendinitis. Saturday I picked up the electric to see how bad it was. And…I played for about ten minutes without a problem. The next day I went further.

Now we’re on Wednesday and last night I worked on those silly beginner chord progressions for about half an hour and the only pain was a little burn in my strumming hand and of course the sting in my fingertips. But I am actually making progress, which is unheard of.

I’m still using the Fender Play program for lessons and I’ve been stuck on one level since early May. But this week I turned a page. My fingertips are aching to go back and play some more. I can play the progression I was stuck on in reliable whole notes and just about in half notes. This was impossible a month ago. So I am elated.

The right (strumming/picking) hand has some pain this AM but it’s bearable as I type this. I’ll ice it and by late this afternoon, I’ll pick up the electric again and a small part of me will feel like a rock star. It puts me in a good mood just thinking of it. The progress will be slow and there will be regressions. But at this rate by next summer I should be able to sit on the deck out back and just bash out blues/rock riffs. And that’s more than enough for me.

 

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Beer Fridge Update

Beer fridge - Summer 2020

I am ready for summer now (though our weather has pretty much sucked all of May). Three new entries joining my summer faves: Summit Brewing’s Twenty One IPA, Indeed Brewing’s Flavorwave IPA, and Rhombus Guys (from Grand Forks ND!) Greenway Double IPA. Yeah, that’s a lot of hops but please note that there’s a twelve of Bell’s legendary Oberon wheat ale and Summit’s Dakota Soul Czech Pils to moderate things. Now if we could just get a day of warm temps and no more of the fucking 40-MILE-AN-HOUR WIND, IT WOULD BE NICE! Drink up.

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So Now I Have a Rig

Jerol's guitar rig

First of all, that carpet is not as horrible as it looks. The nape is just all messed up from moving the amp and the cords around.

I got a small and inexpensive distortion pedal last week. I had a little trouble getting it going – some battery issue that resolved itself. But it’s roaring now and it’s fun. Of course, my hands are so banged up from spring yard work I can barely form chords but that will change once we get all the foundational yard/garden work done. Until then, stretching exercises, Ibuprofen, and ice will keep the pain at bay.

But having the distortion pedal is so FUN. I am still experimenting with adjusting the various controls in conjunction with the tone controls/pickup volume on the guitar. Before it sounded so impossibly clean and sweet it was practically an acoustic. On Tuesday, the day before I mowed the lawn and resurrected my tendinitis, I played a series of easy chords with the pedal inactivated. My wife thought it sounded nice. Then I stomped the pedal and played the same chords. That sweet angel SG became the Daemon Queen, Reaper of Souls! My wife was less than impressed. Which, is a goal of sorts.

Play on.

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Been Away for Too Long

Peanuts - Snoopy playing records

I guess I have not posted in quite a while so let’s amend that. But really, I’ve been busy. Work has been slow but it’s picking up a little. In the meanwhile, I’ve been keeping busy. I got a lot of cleaning up done downstairs in our hellhole of a basement, outside lawn/garden prep has begun, I subscribed to Fender Play and have done quite a bit of guitar playing, and the writing is going well.

Oh, and here’s a mandatory but non-objectifying photo of Tricia Helfer to confuse hapless image searchers straying onto this blog in hopes of capturing a glimpse of her bared bottom. They make it sooooo easy.

tricia_helfer_full

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An Unexpected Guest

Gibosn SG guitar rig

March seems to be going out like a lamb up here on the northern steppes. On Friday, the neighbors across the street were out in their front yard, enjoying adult beverages. My neighbor’s brother was there as well. Let’s call him Rocker. We’ve known each for decades.

We stood there in the sun, chatting about this and that. Rocker has a handful of guitars. I have my one acoustic. I mentioned that the Fender Play program (online guitar lessons) went from a free one month trial to a free three month trial for everyone trapped at home. I just signed up a few days ago and planned to milk it for all it was worth. Rocker said, “You know, you might need something more electric. I’ve got the perfect thing for that.”

He went home and came back with a small practice amp, cords, and lo, a beautiful 2011 Gibson SG Robby Krieger model. Just for something for me to play with! As Gimli the dwarf said, “this is a kingly gift”. Indeed. I am a very, very grateful man. This axe is far beyond my meager skills but by goddess, I am so very excited to take lessons with this cradled in my hands.

My wife thinks it sounds beautiful. She kind of expected the sort of thing she associated with electric guitars: a wall of distorted, crunching sound. Well, first of all, I don’t know any of those guitar riffs that are associated with that kind of music. Second of all, I would need a distortion/overdrive pedal to take that clean signal and warp it into something that breaks stone and shatters glass. Guess what I put into my Amazon wish list.

Carjo I love you but in the words of The Edge, “It Might Get Loud.”

 

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Writing Update

You should be writing

I finished a new chapter yesterday and it took a surprising turn. I have somehow created another antagonist to oppose my unlikely heroes, who are already in over their heads. It’s strange how unintentional creativity can be. Sometimes you have to work and work and just fucking work to put in one word after another. Then again sometimes notions and schemes appear without warning or even trying. It’s always a pleasant experience but it is nearly impossible to force.

There is only one way to deal with it. Keep writing.

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Stocking up

beer fridge march 2020

I figure we have enough toilet paper for now but there are other considerations.

While in Bismarck, I got two twelves: Bells Two-Hearted IPA and Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. My stock had gotten really low. 24 beers at three or four beers a week means I am good for almost a couple months. Hopefully by then we’ll be able to travel freely.

At some point this week I will need to make a run for Coke and Diet Coke and maybe milk/bread/eggs. It will be a quick turn and burn at the grocery store in the town next to ours. I’ll wear latex gloves, keep my distance, and use the self-checkout. That should guarantee some safety.

The other big worry is cat food. I had checked Chewy online early last week and they indicated that deliveries will be delayed and a lot was out of stock. I went back yesterday and found everything I needed. That saves me a trip farther out of town. And then we will keep hunkered down, living that introverts dream. And drinking some damn good beer.

Take care, stay safe.

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Splendid Isolation

introverts please

Introverts, we’ve got this.

I am thinking in these days of isolation that blogging might be making a comeback. People are going to have a lot of time on their hands. The fashionable short posts on Twitter and Facebook can amuse for only so long. So perhaps reading longer pieces will again become the rage. On the other hand, they just might listen to more podcasts.

I know some extroverts that are going to start going batshit insane but me and my people, we got this. This virus is a hermit’s dream. So I will do my best to remember those who can’t savor sweet isolation and crave constant social interaction.

Carjo is in the risk category. She has diabetes (though her numbers have stabilized into the borderline territory), a weak set of lungs, and like me, is over sixty. So our plan the coming weeks was always to stay in. We had one doctor appointment this Monday so that’s done. At some point soon we need to get stage 2 shingle virus shots. And I really need to make a cat food run by next weekend. But other than that, we are not going beyond the confines of our yard for the foreseeable future.

We are as stocked up as we can be. Carjo is an anxious person and thus she’s been stocking up on groceries and sundries. Oddly enough, we didn’t go nuts on toilet paper hoarding but I think we’ll be OK. The stores will be stocked again by the time we are running low.

My wife favors being a recluse. Social engagement is taxing for her and depression often leaves her struggling to just move around the house. She had plans to go to Winnipeg with her BFF for a James Taylor concert in April. That is cancelled and she is quite relieved. She didn’t want to risk the exposure and she is perfectly happy sitting inside with her daily diet of TV, Internet, and napping with cats. It’s a small life but it is the life she wants and needs right now.

As I have posted many times, I have a lot of books to read. I have writing to do. There’s games on the computers. There’s a plethora of TV shows and movies to stream. And my hands are in decent shape again so there’s my continuing battle to become competent on guitar. When the weather gets nicer I can start getting the lawn and garden ready. And my exercise program is accelerating. So I won’t be losing my sanity to boredom.

Tonight I have a conference call meeting for a small town board I sit on. This was going to be a regular in-person meeting but I spoke up that we were under isolation. Others chimed in that it just wasn’t a good idea. So we’re going to a conference call and we’ll have it wrapped up in half an hour. It’s a relief that cooler heads prevailed.

So, I’ll try posting more in the next few days. I’ve got more memes to share and more updates on what I’ve been up to. And I’ll have to bemoan the loss of baseball. In the mean time, take care of yourself and your beloveds. Take care of those in your community. We’ve all got this.

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This World is So Screwed Except…

SpringTraining

pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training. In a world with climate collapse and authoritarians running unchecked, we need some good news. Especially considering that right now it’s a minus 25 windchill outside. It’s good to just think about the Boys of Summer are throwing balls around, getting warmed up. Play ball!

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