?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.

Time . . . to go

I’ve subscribed to “Time” magazine for decades. At first, when it was in its heyday before there was instant news, I looked forward to its drop in my mailbox every week. It was contemporary, informative, and succinct.

But that was in the last millennium. Now it’s relegated to a feature approach to most articles instead of a news approach, partly because it comes out twice monthly since 2020. You can’t be the forerunner of news with a schedule like that.

The most current issue is a collection of what “Time” call the “world’s most influential people.” It  is divided into six categories of “influencers,” such artists, titans, leaders, etc. Granted, the people who were chosen are recognizable in their genre; but are they worldly influential? I don’t think so.

Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City Chiefs football fame is on the cover of my edition. He is a great football player, but I’ve never considered him an “influencer” beyond the realm of his profession. Maybe he supports Little League teams; maybe he has a foundation to help underprivileged children play football; or maybe he donates a ton of money to worthy causes.

Still, I don’t think that makes him one of the world’s most influential people? Rather it makes him someone to help “Time” sell magazines.

All in all, I think “Time” should wrap it up. The information is old and cold before it arrives in my mailbox. And, actually, the fact that I subscribed for two years for $20 should have told me how desperate the publication was.

Sorry Patrick, but I do not plan to resubscribe.

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Pancake Breakfast

I’m not a breakfast person, but once a year I get up at 7 AM and go to the Sodus Fire Department’s annual pancake affair.

It’s one of those events where the whole community – infants, teens, families, seniors – turns out to pay ten dollars and be served by local volunteer firefighters in their natural habitat: the firehouse. The engines and trucks are moved outside to be replaced by rows of folding tables and chairs from the local church. The Miss Blossomtime beauty pageant is usually the week before this event, and the winners act as servers along with the firefighters.

Guests choose any combination of the following three items — eggs, pancakes, sausage – which enables vegetarians to dine too. Veterans eat free.

The food arrives on the best economical paper plates and is accompanied by a variety of juices, coffees, and noise. Unlike some breakfast establishments that want to turn tables, we linger and run into people we haven’t seen all winter.

It’s quite a production. Volunteers solicit donations from other businesses to defray costs. Others prepare condiments while still others sign on as cooks. And then there’s the clean-up crew.

For someone who rarely eats breakfast, I always enjoy the whole thing and appreciate what goes into creating a slice of Americana.

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Today Earl and I flew the “W” as the Cubs beat the Marlins on home ground.

Believe me, it’s an emotional experience that will most likely be grist for various blogs through the summer. Still, I know readers might not be interested. So perhaps I should put an asterisk in the title in case you want to support me but don’t want to read about baseball.

My first memories of the game were as a pre-teen, when my Mother listened to games on the radio. Raised in New York City, her allegiance was to the Giants. But, to give her credit, she always rooted for the home team wherever we lived. And we moved a lot.

Years later, my son played Little League in Arlington Heights. As a lefty, he was good at first base and pitched an inning or two. I learned the nuances of the game from him.

Even more years later, there is a wonderful photo of my Mother and stepfather at a Cubs game. It was probably 30 years ago. And when she died I had the photo made into a poster that was displayed at her funeral, because it was iconic her.

And now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, Earl and I continue the tradition. We love to hear the “Go, Cubs, Go” anthem when they win. Written by Steve Goodman in 1984, it is sung at every winning home game as the “W” flag ascends the pole to end the day.

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The NY Times offers a game called “Connections” every morning for free. In other words, you don’t have to subscribe to the paper to play, but I imagine it’s something like a loss leader in grocery stores. You get hooked and maybe want to buy a full subscription.

“Connections” has become part of Earl’s and my daily routine; in fact, it is the start of it. You can find the instructions online, so I won’t describe them here. Rather, here are some observations I have that could help novices.

First, most words on any given day are both nouns and verbs. This is important, although I assume not many people these days know the distinction. Trust me, it helps. Next, the most obvious answer is rarely correct. Lion, witch, and wardrobe are not about C. S. Lewis; instead they belong to The Wizard of Oz.

Then there are words within words. For instance, the four words tinder, ironic, leadership, and Goldilocks have nothing in common on the surface. But if you study more closely, you see that the minerals tin, iron, lead, and gold are imbedded in the longer words. So one must dissect the words in many different ways.

It’s an interesting game, and our record so far is fairly decent. Maybe you’d like to try one I made up. What do carrot, partridge, information, and mission have in common?

(Send me your answer in the comment section, which is at the bottom, far right, of every blog, after all the “share” icons.)

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I’ve been home from Boston about 24 hours and have begun to assume the mantle of my daily life in Benton Harbor. It’s a comfortable life: we have more money than month; we’re entering the most gorgeous time of the year; and asparagus farm stands are about to open.

Still, I’m struck with how a vacation puts your regular life on hold, and it’s a good thing.

In the past six weeks I’ve taken two vacations, one to Naples, FL, and the other to Boston, MA. Even though I brought my computer on both, I wasn’t tied to checking my bank accounts, answering emails, or solving problems. Sure, I’d planned ahead before leaving town, so that I wouldn’t be greeted with any ugly surprises. And, yes, I returned to a stack of projects.

But in between I was aware that vacation meant long periods where I could read a book, catch up on items of interest, and have more time to relax. I didn’t worry about cooking meals or cleaning the house or tending the garden. Emails went unanswered, and the world didn’t end.

In essence, I got off the grid. In this age of technology, where everything is an urgent “NOW,” it was refreshing to feel aimless and untethered to the daily grind. I recommend it highly.

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The Day After

There are many different ways to experience Boston on Marathon Weekend. Some people come from all over the world to soak in the local culture, enjoy fantastic seafood, attend a Boston Red Sox game. And then run the race on Monday after a loaded weekend of tourism.

That’s never been our style.

Other runners fly in at the last minute, get their entry packet, run the race, and fly home with little sense of the city.

That’s never been our style either.

Our pattern is to stay about five days, hang out at the same haunts year after year (which are local establishments rather than historic monuments or sport arenas), sleep a lot, and save energy for the big day. Our celebration is the day after the race when we decompress before returning to our individual lives.

We go to the Black Rose, an Irish pub on the waterfront, where we devour fish and chips, listen to Irish music, and rehash the previous day’s trials and triumphs. We compare this year’s race to previous ones: the weather, the spectators, the finish line. Kevin’s time.

Then we head to our lodgings to pack and start home tomorrow morning.

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April 2013 –  Boston Marathon bombing. Lives interrupted, race stopped, city on edge.

April 2014 – I am at the eight mile marker waiting for last year’s survivors: those with new limbs and those with impaired eyesight; the runners who were stopped before the finish last year; the elites. And then my son, Kevin, who is running Boston for the first time.

The tears are pungent as is the scent from grills where residents plan to spend the day. A cacophony of cheers, claps, cow bells . . . and footsteps.

I see Kevin in the crowd; he blows me a kiss. Then I head for public transportation and the finish line in downtown Boston, the MC’s raspy exhortation: “Take back the finish line” ringing in my ears.

And 35,000 runners did.

April 2024 – Ten years later.

Still coming to Boston. We are all ten years older, but the mystique remains. The bombing and taking back the finish line have receded but not completely. They probably never will. At one security checkpoint a woman said to me, “If you had been here the year of the bombing, you’d understand.” I said nothing, but because we were here the year after we understand completely.

For the record, a little under 30,000 runners finished this year. Kevin ran 3:14, which qualifies him to run Boston 2025.

We’ll be back.

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More Migrants

Kevin and I are not alone in our migration to Boston. This year, there are 32,000 runners with probably as many family members providing support along the course. This doesn’t match the number of arctic terns or monarch butterflies who flit the globe annually; but it is impressive since humans have the ability to choose whether they migrate or not; animals do it by instinct.

We are staying in an Airbnb for the first time, because hotels have become too expensive. What we spent $250 a night last year at the AC Marriott is now $400. So L, Kevin’s partner, who is a pro at finding space with good vibes and fewer dollars involved, booked a flat for us in a neighborhood about a mile and a half from the AC at about 50 percent of the cost.

We don’t know what the other 31,999 runners are doing this evening, but we assume most of them have arrived, possibly picked up their race packets, and are bedding down for the evening. For most serious runners, tomorrow, the day before the race, is devoted to relaxing, carb loading, and going to bed early.

In that regard, the 32,000 migrants are all in sync.

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Boston Bound

The arctic tern holds the record for the longest annual migration recorded by any animal as it moves between Greenland and Antarctica in a zig-zag route that covers 44,000 miles a year.

In another  part of the globe, around 1.3 million wildebeest travel nearly 1,900 miles each year as they follow the rains around the Serengeti.

And in Boston, Kevin and Mom make their annual pilgrimage to that Holy Grail of marathons sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association, the oldest continually run race of that distance in the world: the Boston Marathon.

Sometimes it’s just the two of us. Sometimes other family members and friends have come. But in the ten years since Kevin first ran Boston – It was the year after the bombing – it’s become a special event.

We visit the same pizza joint, the same bookstore, the same Irish pub every time. We predetermine where I’ll stand along the route and cheer when he runs by. We relearn the “T,” Boston’s excellent public transportation system. And we immerse ourselves in the lore of winners, past and to come on Monday, April 15.

So if I’m negligent about blogging for the next week, please chalk it up to following our natural instincts. Just like the monarch butterfly and the barn swallow too.

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I’ve been in the gardens, and there’s a ton of work to be done. But there’s nothing like the warm sun on your back, little wind in the air, and soil that is ready to give up its weeds to get motivated. Especially the ease of pulling weeds.

Have spent time the past two days, after removing rose cones, addressing the weeds. I didn’t mulch last season, which means weeds felt free to spread their roots and leaves.

Some people mulch over the weeds, but I’m a purist. I start each garden season pulling weeds before laying mulch. I also prune my bushes before laying mulch so that it remains as clean as possible for as long as possible.

All of this means that while my neighbors in the condo community are mulched, I am not. It’s by request. In one way, it means more work later in terms of laying the mulch; but the bushes will be trimmed, the annuals planted, and the weeds banished.

I am a happy gardener.

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