Friday, September 26, 2008

Aw, heck, it's probably too early to post this, but there's a little tune that everyone's been singing after a Cubs win (literally - the whole stadium gets into it)... and I've been humming it all morning, so here goes...

Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go-o-o!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!
They got the power, they got the speed
To be the best in the National League.
Well this is the year and the Cubs are real
So come on down to Wrigley Field!
We're singing now
Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go-o-o!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!
Baseball time is here again.
You can catch it all on WGN.
So stamp you feet and clap your hands -
Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.
You're singing now
Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go-o-o!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh, you just knew I'd have to mention it...

Cubs clinched.

And Maggie and I went up to Cedarburg, WI, for their Wine and Harvest festival.

Cedarburg is one of those small cities that you don't think really exists anymore. Downtown is eight blocks ong, anchored on one end by a church and the other by an old mill winery. In between is full of little restaurants (I do mean little) and gift stores and florists and meat markets (home of the damn BEST apple brats you ever tasted!) and ice cream stores (where you can still get an apple dumpling with ice cream for two bucks. Can't get a cone for that around here!).
It has more than a downtown - it has many neighborhoods and an ice rink and even a McDonald's and a Dairy Queen (so it's a reasonable sized city, I guess).
You have to understand something here - even though I always lived in the suburbs, it's always been in the suburbs of a reasonably large city. I guess South Bend was the smallest city I've lived aside, and even that was reasonably large. San Jose, Sacramento, Buffalo, Chicago? Definitely large!
Maybe there are a lot of those towns out there - just sitting in the middle of nowhere, still operating and not slowly dying... but color me pleasantly surprised that Cedarburg, the Smallville of Wisconsin, is still there and still kicking.
Nice to know.

Oh, and the night the Cubs clinched we went to the play Damn Yankees. Not only was it baseball oriented? It starred -

The Washington Senators!

Americana would approve.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh-h-h-hh, man!

Cubs were down four runs, bottom of the ninth, two outs, nobody on.

They won.

They won?

Four runs down, one out left and they won?

It's never over until it's over.

This is the year!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Funerals and Moving

Well, just got back from the funeral for Maggie's cousin Richard.

He had been sick for quite some time, and when he went to the hospital Maggie and I visited on two occasions, including the night before he passed away.

Last night was the wake, and though his family is Polish, not Irish, the feeling was one of more joy than sadness. His sons and daughters came in from New Hampshire and Carolina and Ohio, and there were plenty of Maggie's local relations there as well (her entire family lives within seven miles of my house. Literally.).

Mass today was a little sadder, but then, I always choke up a little at funerals. Must be the music or something. :)

Seriously, every time my family gets together it seems it's at a funeral. And now Maggie's family.

I think I will be planning a multi-family get -together soon, not on a holiday or anything but just to get together. You never know when, you know?

I've moved a lot - I've lived in Albany, Boston, Syracuse, Buffalo, San Jose, Sacramento, Buffalo (again!) and Chicago, with school in South Bend thrown in there for good measure.

Maggie has moved - um, never.

Her family has moved around but generally stayed within Arlington Heights or close to it.

So have a lot of my relations - they've never left the Syracuse area, even though they may have moved around a bit.

It's a different experience, a different lifestyle - but I think I'd like to see my brothers and sisters more often.

Of course, they live in Atlanta, Washington DC, and San Jose, so that kind of makes it difficult.

I don't know... it's just good to have family near. And when they're not, to make the time to see them/

Cubbies Magic Number is still 4

We're going to the play-y-y-y-y-y-offs. Some time. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Carlos Zambrano Rides Again!

Last night the Cubs-Astros game got moved to Milwaukee, since Houston is kind of a mess right now. Milwaukee has long been known as Wrigley North, by the way.

Carlos Zambrano came back after several weeks off and we wondered about his injured shoulder.

It must have gotten better.

He pitched a no-hitter, the first for the Cubs in 32 years.

The first ever in a "neutral" ballpark.

The Cubs won again today too.


Just maybe.

This is the year.


First, the floods.

Chicago has been hit with the most rain ever recorded. Up to 11" in some places, more like nine out where I live.

Do you really know how much 9" of rain is? Consider the ground is sopped and can't absorb anymore, and the cement and buildings and tar parking lots certainly can't absorb it, and that it's all gotta go somewhere...

A soccer field near us had 25 feet of water on it. Granted, it's lower as a retention area just for such emergencies, but 25 feet of water is still damn impressive.

Maggie got stuck coming home from driving a guy over to the dialysis center (wotta gal!) - all the roads coming from there to here were impassible. In Des Plaines only two north south streets remained open and only three east west. That's for the whole dang town.

We had a lot of water.

The retention ponds in my development overflowed, which is pretty impressive since a few days ago they were ten feet down, at least. Now they extend clear to the street.

But the skies cleared, cloudy but no rain today, and we're not due for any more until Saturday. So. looks like my neighborhood dodged a big bullet (since all our lower floors are halfway into the ground - half-basement, half-room!). Unfortunately, many of my neighbors did not dodge the bullet and streets are still pretty much impassible in many areas. Took several of us three hours into work today, trying to find a dry route in. Normally takes 20, 30 minutes.

Still, I couldn't help thinking as I watched Ray Kroc's #1 and #1000 MCDonalds go under water , and the Interstates closed and O'Hare airport cut off - what power the water has! Nothing to do but get out of the way - no amount of sandbags could stop it. Just sort of a reminder that for all man's great works and cool buildings and well-engineered roads, heaven and nature still can wipe it away with a shrug.

Just kind of makes you think of your own mortality, is all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm not sick... yet.

Bad news: The Cubbies have lost 7 out of their last 8 games.

Good news: Milwaukee and the others in pursuit have played badly too. Cubbies still lead by four and a half.

Bad news: The Cubbies still have to play St Louis (our archenemies) and worse, six games against Milwaukee!

Good news: The Cubbies usually kick Milwaukee's butt.

Bad news: But that means that we're playing for the pennant directly against our number 2 rival.

Good news: You'd rather play Arizona? Maybe we're better off coming in second, at that.

Good news: The Cubs are definately in the playoffs.

Bad News: They've gotta get their swing back, their winning ways back! They've just gotta!

Good news: They will.

Let's go Cubs!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They're at the Post!

One of the things I enjoy about this area is that there is a racetrack nearby.

Not one of those dingy, dirty little tracks with horses pulling buggies and spiderweb-strewn betting windows. No, I'm talking about a mammoth operation with gleaming white spires and acres of horsebarns and areas to watch the horses.

I'm talking Arlington Park.

Arlington is quite the place - huge, yet divvied up so nicely you never feel crowded or lost. I've felt crowded and lost at a dog track (WAY smaller!).

They have nice self-service betting machines and you can get whatever you want to eat there, and the track is very nicely kept and they have huge viewscreens so you can see what's going on...

But primarily, there are the horses.

Thoroughbreds, some of which go on to the Kentucky Derby (same owners of the tracks) and some of which, well, are a bit out of their league. All of which are very handsome animals which you can go down to the barns and down to the track and see pretty up close.

Then you go bet on them.

I have no idea how to bet, really. Sure, I can read all the tips and figure out that Glue Boy hasn't won in fifteen starts and I can see the odds posted, but to be honest I go mostly for names and colors.

Dynareign ran Sunday, so I had to bet that one because of Aaron's Dynagirl. Similarly, Windjammer - how can I turn down that horse!?

Then there are the Irish names with two Irish parents wearing green - ho, you bet I'm going for that one!

Sexyblueeyes ran Sunday. Maggie bet on that one because of me. I bet on BrownEyedGirl because of her.

OK, ok, I do have some guides in the odds department. I'll usually choose horses that are 4-1 to 7-1. Far enough out there that they aren't favorites, not so far that a good run is impossible, high enough so the payout is worth getting is you win.

Oh, I'm a big better. $2. That's it.

So, if I lose, no big deal.

I usually hit about 3 winners out of the 8 or 9 races we get there for, which actually is pretty good - the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times usually only hit one or two. I'm not sure that's particularly good.

Of course, I lose the other 5 or 6, so I usually don't walk away any richer than I came in. Often a few bucks less.

But you know what? On a clear, sunny day, with white clouds gently rolling overhead, and Maggie and her neices and nephews there (yeah, I get talked into babysitting) and some diet Cokes,man, you can't get any better way to waste a Sunday.

Er, except a ballgame.

Or gaming with my friends.

But it's a nice third :)