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Archive for May 2011

All it lacked was Nat King Cole crooning “Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer (1963).” It was baseball! (Sunday, May 29, 2011, Florence KY)

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And what did we see across the freeway from Champion Windows Stadium in beautiful downtown Florence, Kentucky? Taqueria Mercado 2, the younger sibling of Taqueria Mercado 1 on Route 4 in Fairfield, maker of the best burritos in a dozen surrounding towns. So, I traded all the junk food (I did succumb to a hotdog inside the park) for a beef tongue burrito which was superfragilist....(you spell the rest). Sad to say CB said in future I'd have to go without her because they'd turned her off several times with way too dry beans and stuff (I ordered salsa on the inside and like that solution). Plus a $4.50 burrito now costs $6.50 or so.

Major league baseball disgusted me when it’s collective ego gave fans the finger in favor of fighting over division of the last billion dollars in the pot. Haven’t been to a game since. Haven’t wanted to go to a game since.

The Champion Windows Stadium, starring the Florence Freedom in their 9th season. Size does matter: downsize, that is, where there are no strangers; there's not enough space for that. There is, however, space for a booth offering a ride for the over-indulgent!

But over the years I’ve begun seeing small ballparks in smaller cities … the Lansing Lugnuts, the Dayton Dragons, the Florence (KY) Freedom …

CB eating her very last Taqueria burrito until they relearn moisturizing that formerly fine cuisine. (See the ballpark through Tranq's windows.)

and for the past half dozen of those years I’ve had a budding hankering to attend what I hoped would be at least a shadow of some of the wonderful hours I’ve spent inside ballparks from Detroit’s Tiger Stadium

Not quite filled to the brim this early to watch the players loosen up for the magic they will soon bring our way, always room for one more, we were assured by promotion staff members.

to a Little League field just outside Louisville where my nephew Randy played while my sister and brother in-law sold soda and popcorn along with a lot of other parents and people so the kids could play their games.

CB searching for our seats. Because Junior, Jr., has difficulty with steps, seats for wheelchairs are carefully construction in the back way up high; take out three seats, sweep the concrete, draw one of those fancy wheelchair signs and, voila, handicapper parking inside and out. Even the highest seats offer excellent views of both the field and the fiddling around and fun for all ages.

Sunday, CB and I (at her insistence, actually) put on our baseball caps, jumped into Tranq and drove a few miles down I-75 to Florence for the Freedom’s “Family Fun” day. The moment Junior, Jr and I entered that little bitty ballpark I was struck with deja vu like that was caroming around the place like sixty.

A lot of the old traveling carnivals here. "Step right up, ladies and gents, buy your tickets; get your tickets here. Win TEN THOUSAND dollars. Tickets are absolutely free. (If 2 consecutive Freedom batters hit homeruns in the bottom of the 5th inning AND if your name is drawn, you can take home the cash)" I signed one of them thar slips afore I remembered my old advertising training. Nothing for nothing? I do expect to hear from those friendly chiropractors in the near future. Whadday bet? wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Back to Back Crack!

Circus Mojo players waiting for the call. Wonder what Bobby Vee would say about this rubber ball?

It was summer and sunny, may 9o degrees. Grass was green. Wind was blowing gently from the right field into our faces over on the third base line.

If you’ve ever heard Nat King Cole’s song, you know exactly what I mean. There’s a special cloakroom for depositing your blues, and bad news. You can pick it up on your way out.

The Freedom and the River City Rascals from O’Fannon, Missouri.

Members of the proud, if professional lowly, Frontier independent League. Filled with hope and love of the game. Hope from guys who haven’t gone upstairs yet to play in the majors or in lettered (single A, double A, triple A) leagues and who are still hoping and scrabbling to get there: love of the game from guys who are coming back downstairs from the “bigs,” but who haven’t had enough yet to hang up their cleats and gloves. During its first eight seasons 22 Freedom players have found some success in that they have signed contracts with teams affiliated with the majors.

Some of the players are housed in the homes of of local families to save them expenses, so I was told by the lady at the reservations’ phone extension. It is not a short cut to riches for these players who get paid a few hundred dollars a week. Amazing when you think about it, isn’t it? Fifty dollars a day. Or less? Gotta be some attraction.

Lots of foul balls for fans to catch – the first base Freedom coach, who also is Freedom manager, tossed a foul ball into the stands. I bet I didn’t miss it by six hards. If that!

Family Fun Sunday at Champion WIndows Park. Your hosts: the Florence Freedom.

Home runs. Spectacular catches. Plenty of excitement but not desperate heart in your throat excitement, definitely not the killing kind.

Members of the Mojo Circus walked on big beach balls, rode unicycles before the game and during pauses. During the pauses as teams switched every half inning there was something going on: kids racing the team’s two mascots (not sure what they were, kinda poor relation of Big Bird, I think. It was “Family Fun Sunday” and that’s what it felt like. One group all wore t-shirts to let us know their church was well-represented.

Workers were helpful AND friendly AND sociable. I rode up to a guy wearing a Freedom t-shirt, asked him if he worked there; before he could answer this guy dressed like a jar of mustard ran over to see if I’s in trouble or maybe even had a question.

Oh, yes, the mustard raced the catchup and a couple of more friendly critters but no way they could catch the gorilla man (or woman?)

More than half the stands in Champion Windows Field were empty, yet the activities and hominess never gave me an impression of poverty and impending doom or bankruptcy.

It occurs to me that 9-dollar yard-long (it seemed) hot dog may be the mainstay of the hope Freedom’s financial future.

I haven’t had that much fun at a ballgame in half a lifetime, maybe more than half a lifetime.

Sometimes I even watched the game. Mostly, I lost myself in the ambiance of it all. The fact we were winning (note: entry to the ballpark entitles you to officially become one of the ubiquitous “us”).

Naked eyeballs one by one stagger home after a strenuous race allll the way from the back of the outfield, from the far reaches of the Rascals' bullpen.

Gimme a hunnert or two afternoons like this and I might decide that I’m not going unless I can take it with me.

CB was right in the middle of the action: clapping and yelling and just having a good ole time for a while, but all good things… etc., etc., and so it was: after 7 innings, we got tired – notice  how when you’re way ahead or way behind you seem to get tired pretty quickly? – and headed out… the score was 8-1 and, we were confident we were leaving it all in the good, gentle hands of only the best kind of robber barons as we passed and waved bye bye.

OH! I see from the team website they wound up winning beating the River Rascals 8-1. Tim Holmes, from Bay Village, Ohio, pitched a three-hitter.

Forgot to load this one which seems to me to epitomize the day.

Yesterday was HOTTT!

PS: Note how shitty my pics are (except the one of the eyeballs and the young lady of fun). Failed experiment to mass resize them for uploading into the blog.

Written by frankieleeee

May 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Family

Willie makes it two skunks in a row! 3-0 Scrabble – Lunchbunch Afterwords! Yea, Willie! But, first, A Taste of the Ragin’ Cajun country right here in Cincinnati, folks. J. Gumbo on the Rise. (Lunchbunch. May 26, 2011. White Oak, OH. wilflebobcee)

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In the middle of a mishmosh of foreign cultures lies a haven of serenity and quietude that spreads wisdom and hope through the western suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, and it is also where Tranq the trusty van who delights in balking and talking back to any who dare claim ownership, esp. CB and me, begins his trek to meet up with friendlies (code-named Willie and Bob) for a weekly celebration/observance/wake we call (the) Lunchbunch!

6023 Cheviot Road., Cincinnati, Ohio 45247

Like one of those pillboxes you see American G-Is overrunning in WW II movies. See how Shelly's car seems to snuggle so close to Tranq. Mmmmm! Meanwhile, CB marches into the restaurant to check out whether the tables also have parking space for Junior, Jr.

I see someone has rediscovered the trick of using a mirror behind the bar to give the illusion of much more space.

Before we took up pen and paper to score, I see we all acted like we were enjoying ourselves, leading me to believe we were either good eaters or excellent actors, sacrificing for the greater good. 'Twas indeed a good time. See the little bitty cups provided by Shelly for sample tasting?

While we are usually (not to be confused with “normal-ly”) four straight-talking, discerning, intelligent-if-not gentle, warm fuzzballs, on occasion our collective cone of silence that protects us from the outside, is torn open by negative forces which sometimes insinuates itself in the inner workings of our little group. On the subject of food, e.g. It happened again last week in the parking lot of J. Gumbo’s. What resulted was not pretty and not the stuff of tall tales you’d like to collect for your babies and grandbabies to lull them to sleep of a night. Oh, my god! It was culinary chaos, folks. Depending on who among us you ask, lunch at J Gumbos Cajun place over by our house, it was either food to die for or food to kill for (in retribution for crimes against the palate).

Willie: “It was perfect. The food. And the service.”

My favorite: voodoo nachoes!

Bob: “It was awful: all of it. How dare they insult my palate. Didn’t enjoy one bit of one bite, not even that bread”

Whatever the weather!

fle: “All of it, except two, were grand and good and called for reprise. Interestingly, the two I ordered (beans and rice & (?)) were the least interesting to eat …. Yet both were very good “warmed over.”

But was that pie good!!!!! Yepper!

CB: “Give it a 2 and a half. ”

Guess who was stuck with the bill, she said, as she shoved the revealing slip of paper toward the photographer while Shelly the server raced over to refill our pop classes and resupply our napkin supply and reassure herself that all was well with us in our relationship to her.

I wonder which of our enemies’ forces broke through the barrier to plant this one in our midst.

Why, you may ask, is Bob proudly showing off a crisp, almost like new, 100-dollar bill at J. Gumbo's over on Cheviot Road? Mmmmmmmm. Willie almost got by with "that's the smallest bill I've got!" She was, however, outsmarted by the ever-vigilant, ever-helpful Shelly.

It couldn’t have been Shelly the server, she was almost awesome. She was! From the moment CB and I spotted her bending into the open trunk of her car in the parking lot, she sent signals of bonhomie to us all.  Even Bob! She gaily brought tasting samples of practically every dish on the menu. Questions answered. Every one. Even offered (with our dollar) to fetch ice cream for our peach pie at the gas station/party store next door.

Building small, built in the middle of a lot. Looked a lot like the bier gardens my dad and stepmom used to frequent back in the day in the backwoods of Tennessee. A made-over Italian place (notice how many restaurants are located at the sites of former restaurants?)

Apparently they don’t cook on-site! Either Willie or Bob or both told me all the food is cooked at the J. Gumbo’s commissary in Louisville. Which I suppose could explain why they don’t have hamburgers or sausage sandwiches or oyster po’ boys.

Bob did point out he thinks J.Gumbo’s uses an awful lot of salt. Probably. And not unusual. Even the top chefs in the world proclaim that salt is the single most important ingredient to improve the taste of food.

Then back to our place for an afternoon of Scrabble. Afterwords.

Not this time, Bob. Nosir. No you don't, big boy. Not this time, sir!

All Hail Wee Willie the Wonder Woman.

 

Sooooo. I'm collecting bets on my games, folks. Hope you all came prepared. Fle, you owe me $5.00 and no credit, either; this is too fine a victory to celebrate with a chit. CB, looks like $5.00 from you, too. Bob, aren't you glad we doubled down? Ten biguns from you, my friend. Ten of 'em: one, two three, four, five, six, etcetera, TEN.

 

All hail the new Bobslayer!

Willie beat us all (3-1). CB beat all but one of us (2-1). I beat all but two of us (1-2). Bob beat all but 3 of us (0-3).

Pretty soon none of us can spar with her without additional protective gear to preserve our heads as permanent extensions of our bodies.

Written by frankieleeee

May 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm

May 21, 2011 – WGPO goes slumming in mid-Michigan! til

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And so did we anoint yet another senior citizens center with the scent of mindsweat pouring from valiant efforts to reach the finish line first. As always the valiance was pretty much equal; the remuneration was not – for example, they didn’t give me any money even though I poured my heart and soul (and a little coffee and pop) onto that little table in the Loose Senior Center in Linden MI Saturday a week ago. No reward!

Except.

Elaine! Linda! Jeff! Steve!

Yeah. I suppose there was reward. Even for me. Of the priceless kind.

I came out 2-5 – still think I coulda whacked Steve iffen I’d read the runs of my tracking sheet more accurately.

Notice some of these pics are from Jeff Clark – thank you, sir.

WGPO. $20 entry fee. Good friends. Moonshine still out back.

Who could ask for anything more?

Written by frankieleeee

May 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Babylon: an Update! (Duff’s Buffet, Wilmington OH. May 19, 2011) [Lunchbunch]

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Pease porridge hot!
Pease porridge cold!
Pease porridge in the pot
three days old!

The very same age,
as life would have it,
as Willie’s like-new
grandbaby come to live
in St. Paris, Ohio,
Lilly
three days
in the pot of life.

Lunchbunch, thy name should be babble. All talking and orally stamping on each other’s toes as we tried to wedge details of our own excitement of the week into the huddle of conversation over heaped plates of buffet.

And the week leading up to our gathering was filled with noteworthy stuff and such:

Willie became a brand new grandmother again. On the 16th.

CB’s daughter Mona put on her mortarboard and grabbed her masters degree at Xavier University in Cincinnati. On the 14th.

Fle, with a little help from Bob, finally selected his birthday gift from CB: a bright pink smartphone. An iPhone!

Bob’s wayfaring wife Joyce returned to the welcoming arms of her spousal unit (May 13), bringing with her a guest to be proudly treated to the aesthetic delights of a walled city (which only last year was able to beat back an infestation of May flies and tobacco worms) and the finely-honed culinary skills of Joyce’s husband Bob! ‘Course the problem was the babble. All stories were told. Some parts of all stories were heard by listeners who did not include the teller. My guess is that not one of us would have passed a simple true-false test on any of the stories told by the “other” three.

The Dayton Daily News and the Cincinnati Enquirer would have been impressed by the strangely harmonic sounds rising from our table like a bunch of hungover angels tuning up our harps for Ed Sullivan’s realllllly big show for the big guy.

Written by frankieleeee

May 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Lunchbunch

Photos of Inside of Sultan’s Turkish Restaurant West Chester OH (also see Perhaps THE BEST so far: Sultan’s Mediterranean Cuisine in West Chester, Ohio (Lunchbunch 5/05/2011)

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I got my cart before my horse and so had to play catchup by inserting the slideshow of Sultan’s interior BEFORE the article itself).

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Written by frankieleeee

May 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Lunchbunch

Perhaps THE BEST so far: Sultan’s Mediterranean Cuisine in West Chester, Ohio (Lunchbunch 5/05/2011)

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Sultan's Mediterranean (Turkish) Cuisine, 7305 Tylers Corner Drive, West Chester, OH. (513) 847.1535.

I crybabied all the way to Lunchbunch yesterday. It was Cinco de Mayo. It was my turn to choose a restaurant. I couldn’t find a Mexican Restaurant (other than fast food or pretend-Mexican) that we had not hit on at least once. For reasons unknown to me or anyone else I chose a Turkish eatery. After all, is pide (pita) bread a lot like flour tortilla bread?

An owner most amiable and our server overdelighted to be of our service. Yes, we did present our most heartfelt thanks wrapped in a small bankroll.

Self-loathing filled Tranq the Van to the  brim, pouring out of me as we drove down Cox Road, as we desperately looked for Sultan’s before we found it was down an alley and behind this little strip shopping strip.

Appetizer course for four, said the menu. Okay, we replied, we'll bite. And did we ever!

Another not wonderful harbinger.

Until we all got our butts in and our legs under the table.

Baklava so good, they should use it for prizes at major Scrabble (copyright til you die) tournaments. Easily a 10!

Until we got our teeth around some of the food and discovered that Sultan’s has the best Mediterranean food I’ve ever eaten.

Don’t even care whether it’s genuine or Americanized.

It was wonderful.


Momma, come get yore baby boy!

Hardly had time for all the gossip we had all ready: Bob’s wife Joyce is leaving today for Minnesota to visit her friend. He’ll be driving a loaner from a friend of Lunchbunch; Willie has been running ragged to eradicate mould in her house; CB had half a dozen birthday parties celebrating her 70th birthday, including a visit to the Cirque du Soleil now playing on Coney Island just outside Cincinnati; and I (who helped her celebrate) have spent a lot to time recovering. Also, I finally found a shoe repair place to replace three broken zippers on my multi-talented purse.

My yule gift to Willie in 2011 is a “pen of the month” payable every month.” May’s pen is a keychain retractable that CB picked up for me at Cirque du Soleil!

Bob also got one, but he can’t take his home; he can only play with it on Lunchbunch days’ Afterwords.

Oh!

Still haven't got all my labels right yet. I ordered the best meat on the plate only to find it was good but not THE best that I had thought it was. Do you recognize the prop person?

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Afterwords was another hoot. Wee Willie struggled mightily all day to make Bob and I “behave our tongues and manners.” Bob and I struggled mightily to jump the traces all day “because they were there.”

CB exhibited exemplary behavior and, bless her heart, not one expletive about the hauling about of my oxygen, Scrabble (copyright til you die) board and throne chair. Except, of course, you want to count her encounter in the West Chester Library where she kicked a guy out of his place because he was sitting at the only good table in the common room. He left and two minutes later Bob came by with news of the opening of a private room. So we left a perfectly empty table.

Technically, I'm told (thanks, Bob, in advance) this was chicken noodle soup in which the noodles were a novelty to us all.

We had a perfectly(?) good time in the (temporarily reassigned) Scrabble (copyright til you die) room.

Bob seems to be the only one of us with so much time on his hands that he can spend literally minutes a day memorizing new

words and rememorizing old words; he beats most of the three of the rest of us most of the time.

Yesterday was no exception, although Wee-Willie almost kept up with him. Bob had 3 wins and 1 loss. Willie had 2 wins and one loss. I had 1 win and 3 losses. CB’s was a bad luck day. No wins and three losses.

Written by frankieleeee

May 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Lunchbunch