Friday, June 29, 2007

More Bayzboll...

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

~ Yogi Berra

Then... and now

Its no wonder they call it America's game. It is such a blast going to minor league baseball games. I can remember being a kid (yeah yeah... no old guy memory jokes!) and going to my first minor league games with the family in Bakersfield, back in the mid to late '50s. The Bakersfield Bears... I would have been about 6 or 7, old enough to enjoy the food (hotdogs, sno-cones and peanuts, what more can a kid ask for?) and get to chase foul balls in the parking lot. Aaah... those were the days!

And as a historic sidenote to my Bakersfield experience... We lived on the east side of town, just off of Nile St. In fact I can still remember the address, 2008 Valencia. At the time Valencia was the last street on the north side of Nile. East beyond that was rolling foothills leading up to the Sierra Nevada west face and the Kern River canyon. We used to walk across the fields to elementary school. It was a great playground! Go out and catch lizards, jump off high cliffs into the dirt below (high at that age turned out to be about 5' when I went back as an adult) and jump into the whirlwinds that cruised around, filled with dust and tumble weeds..

There were also contacts with what today are rare and endangered species: the blunt nosed leopard lizard, California condors and Basque sheepherders. The Leopard Lizards were a trip because to a young kid like me they were huge. They ran on their back legs and would get all puffy and hissy if cornered. The condors were another matter. We used to lay on our backs in the field and watch vultures as they circled overhead. One morning on the way to school we tried that and what we got were condors circling and they were so huge they scared the heck out of us and we ran home and got a ride to school! I managed to get a close-up view of the condor in the '80s when there were only 3 remaining wild ones left in Central California. I went on one of my many photo drives up to Mt Pinos east of the Cuyama Valley and came around a curve in the road and there was this huge (and here I do not exaggerate when I say "huge") bird sitting on a rock at a point just off the side of the road. The bird launched into flight when I pulled over and I watched it as it flew away. I swear I could see it for miles as it drifted without once flapping its wings and soared off to the south and west. With a wingspan of almost 10' it is... noticeable.

Which finds me once again digressing from my topic. But it is pretty cool the territory one can cover in writing. Time and space become virtually irrelevant...

Anyways... I started out talking bayzboll. Then I moved on to California and started talking about the Bakersfield Bears and lizards and condors and Basques sheepherders... that Bears link goes to's rundown on the California League and its history. It seems the Bears only existed as the Bears for ten years, between 1957 and 1967. If any of the Emerald players drop in here for a donut... be glad you're in Eugene...

Watching the kids at the Ems games... the ones hanging on the dugout roof waiting for the players to sign a baseball or program... or better yet... being able to run onto the field in their uniforms... how cool is that!? I mean look at the faces on these kids (and they are about as young as they get for an organized sports teams):

And while they get to share the excitement of what they see as the big time, the players (and the coaches! I watch Greg Riddoch, Ems Manager, and it is obvious, his love for the game. And in my mind he exemplifies the best of the sport of baseball) get to present themselves as examples; as talented players and as men.

And speaking of being a man... I have to fess up... LynchMob (from over at MadFriars) points out in the comments on the Boys of Summer post, just below, that I was wearing a SF cap to the Ems' Opening Day game. I don't wear baseball caps much anymore, I prefer a bigger chapeau, one that serves as an umbrella against rain and sun, with a wide brim, made from felt... but that SF cap... represents years of wearing SF caps. When I was living at Opal Creek I'd wear my SF cap and folks would always say, "oh, a Giants fan eh?" And I'd havta say, "huh?"

They'd reply, "your cap, thats a San Francisco Giants cap isn't it?" And I'd get this puzzled look on my face (easy for me to do, being Scandihoovian and a long-haired hippie type) and say "oh. That. I always though it meant Smart Fella. Or Stinky Feet. My wife says something else..." and people would inevitably laugh. Hopefully they were laughing with me!

Now... I know this was started out to be a baseball post...

I swear I tried, I really, really did.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

the boys of summer...

Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.
~ Yogi Berra

Welcome to you folks dropping in from Mad Friars/San Diego Padres! This blog represents my humble efforts at blogging and provides me a free way to display my photography and writing. This pic is one of mine taken last Wednesday at the Eugene Emeralds 1st day of training at Civic Stadium, posted at the Mad Friar's wwwebpage, the site for San Diego Padres' scouting.

Never a great ballplayer as a kid, I played Little League for a couple of years back in elementary school, played softball in the early '70s (where I also bowled and played basketball in the base leagues) while I was in the Air Force down in Austin, Texas at (the former) Bergstrom AFB. While living in Fresno in the '80s I played slowpitch there with a group of buddies in a league, and... well... we were pretty good for a bunch of old hippies. I found out then I actually could play good ball. And when you hit a game winning hit, it doesn't matter whether you're a pro or an amateur, its still waaay cool!

Always a fan, I saw my first pro game at the LA Coliseum when the Dodgers played there before the Chavez Ravine stadium was built (and thats another whole and seperate future blog post). I went to HS with at least a couple of quality baseball players. Garry Maddox won professional baseball's Golden Glove Award 8 consecutive seasons (1975 - 1982) and his skills prompted Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas to remark, "Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water. The rest is covered by Garry Maddox."

I was also in high school with Alan Ashby.

Alan ended up with the Houston Astros where he caught for flamethrowing fastballer Nolan Ryan. Alan eventually wound up catching more games than any other player in the Astros' franchise history. It seems I remember one of his outstanding stats from HS was not allowing a stolen base while he was behind the plate. Maybe someone can confirm or correct that for me.

My kids' great uncle, Scott McKinstry, is editor of Oldtyme Baseball News (McKinstry, D. Scott, editor. Oldtyme Baseball News. P.O. Box 833-S. Petoskey, Michigan 49770; 6 issues for $ 24.95/year; published since 1988) I'm not sure if its still in publication but I can remember seeing copies while still married to the kids' mom.

So, summer is here, and as they say in baseball: Play Ball!

Oh yeah, and PS:

I'm always seeking photo work, especially of the paying kind! and I will gladly sell prints of almost any of the images posted here. Contact me... no job too small, no wage too high!

allan ( )

Monday, June 11, 2007

Opal Creek Hike, June 10...

You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday was one of the kind of days we get a lot of here in the NorthWest, cloudy, drizzly, rainy and a bit of sun thrown in just to make it interesting.

We have an exchange student from germany staying with us for a couple of weeks, Dennis. He is 17 and a good kid. A bit big to call him a kid, but he is a great young man and I do believe he is enjoying Oregon.

The kids had spent Saturday in Portland, so we met up in Mehama, at the Gingerbread House. We've been eating there since the early '90s and for a hamburger joint in a small town... the food is good, the people always friendly.

I had spent Saturday with my bud Jeff, or El Jeffe as I call him, attending a SweatLodge out in Blachly at Nanish Shontie, with Mala Spotted Eagle, his wife Skye and about 10 other folks. Jeff heads up our Harmony Events Medicine organization, now a respectable 501(c)3 non-profit.

Mala and I have many shared friends/acquaintances/family... they are off to Europe for teaching and fund-raising and I will get back in touch when they come home. I'd like to spend some time and get to know these two better, spend some time visiting them and their land. At my age I have some history about the indigenous movement here in the US and the place tribal people played in this year's social reminisce, the Summer of Love. The old medicine folks, many of who, like my Grampa Semu, Mala's dad Rolling Thunder and others have passed on, all played a part in opening the awareness of that era's youth to the native perspective.

Anyway... after legs were stretched, a few more snacks purchased, we loaded the kids into my car and I headed with them up the Little North Fork Rd. (Of course, like we do anytime we have someone in the car we point out the house along the river Robin was born in -- and throw in the joke about finding Alex in a pumpkin patch) and headed up for Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats.

It is always a pleasure to make this drive and know that when we get to the gate we will have a wonderful day. And it was.

Hardly rained at all while we were hiking... flowers were blooming and the light was good off and on for picture taking. For some reason I don't get into Opal Creek much before June and I usually end up missing the rhododendron and bear grass bloom cycles... but this time... this time we just caught the end of their beautiful flowering season and I was glad -- again -- to have made this hike. Enjoy some spring flowers (also here, bunchberry and gentian):

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Pics from the archives...

What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions.

Life is plurality, death is uniformity.

By suppressing differences and pecularities, by eliminating different civilizations and cultures, progress weakens life and favors death.

The ideal of a single civilization for everyone, implicit in the cult of progress and technique, impoverishes and mutilates us.

Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life

~ Octavio Paz

The best thing among all of my experiences as a young adult was travelling. And Uncle Sam took care of the travelling. I was able while in the military to visit foreign lands like Thailand (1st pic), Texas and Idaho...

Exposure to different cultures is broadening to personal horizons. Or at least is an opportunity to broaden one's horizons... I've met those who had no desire to recognize cultural ways and mores different than their own.

Thailand gave me an opportunity that I embraced. I loved my time there, I was impressed by the differences between their laid-back steadiness and environmental common sense and the driven shallow chaos of American consumer society.

Pic #2 is a publicity shot from the early '80s taken for the Central Valley Stuntmen's Association.

Pic #3 was from the 1985 Wassama Roundhouse rededication, just north of Oakhurst (CA). The pics (4 - 9) following are an Aztec dance group that performed the opening ceremonial. I remember that it was a beautiful day. The elder, I was told, was the group's teacher and this would be his last trip north from Mexico. I do remember the woman's name... Maquil Xilchotl. Also present at this at this event were Chumash dancers from the Santa Ynez Reservation, including Uncle Tony Romero. I arrived early enough to get the Roundhouse and grinding stones photographed without any visitors to clutter the landscape. I was able to visit with the dancers as they prepared their plumed gear and I have a whole series from this day's events.

All of this series of pics are scanned from prints. I suspect I will be spending years pouring thru my old negatives and slides and having them high-res scanned onto disc. When I get these scanned from the orginal film I will (well... maybe...) replace them. Still, the quality is good enough temporarily.