Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Big Labor Day Weekend of Fun

It all began today with a Tiger baseball game at Commerica Park.

Anna at Tim Horton's
Anna and I met my Uncle Louie to watch the Tigers play the Kansas City Royals--and were we psyched to go to the game!  My plan was to have lunch at the Avalon Bakery in Midtown and then go to the game.  Anna has never been there and I wanted to introduce her to another special place Detroit has to offer.  (A couple years ago we went to the Agriculture Expo that featured the famous urban gardens of the city.  Avalon Bakery is part of that same grassroots movement that is re-building the city block by block.) However, we were behind schedule and had lunch at Tim Horton's near Belleville.  Not a bad choice, really.  Good food, good service and no waiting in line.

We arrived at the stadium on time and found a great parking space about three blocks away for only $10.  It was near Clifford and Woodward, site of the old Wright-Kay Jewelers.  I worked there one Christmas in fashion jewelry.  Just another stroll down memory lane, I told Anna.  I also marched in my high school band on several Thanksgiving Day parades down Woodward Avenue, too.  Such a great experience!

Uncle Louie
Thank God for cell phones!  We were to meet my uncle (who had the tickets) at the big Tiger Cat entrance but I couldn't find him--until our cell phones brought us together.  We just missed the opening of the game and part of the first inning by the time we took our seats.  The seats, by the way were in the upper deck along first baseline.  Great seats for only $24.  As much as I miss Tiger Stadium for its history, Commerica Park is by far a better park for watching a game.  Hardly any obstructions and sitting along the baseline allows for a certain intimacy with the field and players--even for people who are a bit near-sighted.

We saw Jason Turner, a new pitcher up from the minor leagues, as well as Maglio Ordonez execute a three-hit, three RBI game.  Another interesting thing that is happening is the Tigers' habit of rallying after two outs.  This pattern makes for some very exciting baseball.  The Tigers came from behind two times during the game, but when they needed to do it a third time, the team seemed to be all worn out and the Royals beat them 11 to 8.  The seventh inning was the killer for the Tigers after the Royals pounded out four runs and then another one in the eighth inning.  Oh well.

Here are some shots of the game from our seats just to prove I'm not lying:

It was a very hot day and my uncle wisely found seats that had the sun at our backs so we weren't looking into it for the 3 1/2-hour game.  He paid for the tickets, too, God bless him!

I thought we might try Avalon Bakery after the game but not only were the city's downtown streets crowded but many other people had the same idea and there was no parking available once we got to the bakery.  So we pressed on to go past my old school, Wayne State University, and entered I-94 at Trumbull.  My grandmother used to live in this area in the late 50s and I used to take the Trumbull ramp while a student at WSU in the early 70s during rush hour traffic.  I still had the touch for getting on the freeway, too.

Instead of going to Wiley's farm to help with harvesting vegetables on Friday, my usual day, I went today and picked cherry tomatoes, daylong strawberries, plum tomatoes and round tomatoes.  Jose, one of two Mexican harvesters, taught me how to select the best tomatoes:  firm not soft, no cracks or blemishes, no stems (because they puncture the other tomatoes in the bucket).  It's been hot in the past two weeks but not too bad today.  I wore my boots since I start work at 8 a.m. and am tired of getting wet from the dew. 

Stoop labor is not easy, especially since I'm so out of shape with those muscles.  So after spending four hours there, I gathered my weekly stash of vegetables and made my way to the Root Beer Stand for a soothing and delicious ice cream float.  When I returned home, I lay down for about two hours to recover from my muscle aches and tiredness.  There was a party to go to tonight at 6 and I had to regenerate some energy.

My neighborhood gets together to celebrate various holidays:  Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.  We also meet for Superbowl in February and sometimes have Goddess Parties for women only.  It was threatening rain and the temp was 90 degrees, so we had the party indoors with air conditioning and outdoors in a circle of chairs.  We had hot dogs, salads, watermelon, corn on the cob, cole slaw.  I made a red bean salad that I invented this summer (red beans, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, boiled eggs, avocado in lemon juice) and people seemed to like it.

I was still tired from the day and needed some alone time.  (Kurt calls this inspirational for the book I'm writing on growing up in Detroit.)  I left the party after an hour and went home to read The Guardian (UK newspaper weekly) in silence and didn't even turn on the TV.  While I enjoyed my time, I unfortunately missed the conclusion of the Tiger baseball game where they came back from 7 runs behind in the ninth inning to beat the Kansas City Royals. 


On Sunday we went to my sisters' house in Detroit.  We met them about 1 p.m. on Sunday for a picnic of barbecued chicken breast, my World's Greatest Potato Salad, corn on the cob, salad and Pepperidge Farms orange cake.  Delicious! 
John grilling up those chicken breasts

delicious grub for the picnic

Denise checks the temperature for the BBQ chicken

When Kurt and I returned home, I settled down to relax and came upon the film, The Miracle Worker.  It features Patty Duke who portrays Helen Keller in her first year with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, played by Ann Bancroft.  This is yet another teacher movie that TBS has been playing over the past week.  I also saw The Corn Is Green (a young lad from a Cornish mining town is mentored by a teacher to go to Oxford) and Goodbye Mr. Chips (a young, stiff, uncompromising Latin teacher learns how to be with his students at a British boarding school through his wife, who dies in childbirth at a young age).  These movies made a deep impression on me in my teen years and influenced the kind of teacher I wanted to be.  Today, there are a lot of people--politicians and citizens--who forget what teaching is about and concentrate instead on testing, which is connected to government funding.  Teaching is about mentoring the young and preparing them for life and work.  (The Atlanta, Georgia school district was recently cited for cheating on test results.)

Afterward, I watched the Tiger game at 8 p.m. and saw them whoop the Chicago White Sox 18 to 2, who were demoralized by last night's game and completely shut down tonight.  The Sox managed to score 2 runs in the ninth to the boos of Tiger fans who wanted a shutout.  The Tigers are on a roll and I hope they keep it up through September in preparation for the playoffs to the World Series in October.  I have been obsessed with the Tigers over the last couple weeks and now have pennant fever.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they maintain this hot streak!  (I hope to see another game before the end of the month.  Just can't get enough of them Tigers.)


Today we had a picnic with my farm buddies, Donna, Mac, Anna, Ron and Soo at the farm.  I made another potato salad, this time with red potatoes from Wiley's farm.  (For yesterday's picnic, I used Yukon Gold.  I think the red potatoes were better.)  Donna brought brats and salad and Kurt made the most colorful and delicious peach pie that we all ate up in one sitting.  

New gates that cross the entrance roadway at the farm

Before dinner, Ron took me on a pasture walk to show me all the new fencing that was done recently--about 1.5 miles worth.  He can now rotate the animals to graze on several pastures.  It was amazing to see.  Electrical switches are set up for each pasture.  

The Soo is looking for a logo for their farm cheese.  She has been studying possibilities and then had me go out to the pasture and try out a few shots.  She wants to feature the water buffalo.  Here are a few samples of the possibilities of these noble beasts.  

We had a delicious and lively dinner, however, about 6:15 it was time to milk the goats.  I wanted to stay and help Soo so Kurt rode back to Kalamazoo with Donna, Mac and Anna.  It has been about a month since I worked at the farm and it felt good to see and work with the animals.  Of course, they tried to take advantage of me by storming the gate but I held my own pretty well.  I haven't forgotten everything I learned.

Soo and I finished milking at dusk and I went home to relax from my knee aches.  Another good day at the farm and a totally unexpected pleasure of working with the animals.

Ron and Soo have been working day and night to set up their new dairy and in one year they are now producing cheese, which puts them two years ahead of where they thought they'd be.  Before dinner we all had a taste of the cambere cheese made from buffalo milk and it was absolutely amazing. 

Tuesday, it's back to my writing and exercise program.  I gained about 6 pounds over the past week and have a long way to go to be ready for the Olympics in 2012.

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