I know I am a little biased, but I am convinced that my grandsons are destined for the Majors.
Let me explain.
Here is a photo of Max, age 7, fielding a ground ball:
Max fielding a hot grounder
Notice the bent knees, the low glove position, his focus on the ball. The kid behind him may as well go to sleep.
And you should see him hit.
His little brother is also a talented player.
Here is a photo of Jack, age 2, completing his swing.
Jack at Bat
Notice the transfer of weight to his right side, the rotation of his hips and shoulders, the clean follow through with his hands, his focus on the ball as it leaves his bat. His swing demonstrates pure toddler power. Ted Williams had nothing on this boy.
I admit, his helmet is a little strange, but otherwise, he is on his way to becoming the Duke Snider of Redwood City.
Our family was about to take the long hike to the Pipeline and back. But before we left Lyn’s garden, we noticed a Skipper butterfly in the jaws of a Crab Spider.
Crab Spider and Skipper
It was a slow moving event, so we decided to leave the area and start our walk. It was a pleasant 72 degrees with sunny skies. The weather is always like this where we live. Our great niece Trinity has a great affinity for animals. Dogs, horses, cats all seem to make friends with her very quickly.
Lyn, Trinity, Mark, Ann and Gene
Later in the day, my brother Mark and I took the same walk. The early evening lighting made for an interesting photo.
I was talking to a friend one day who had noticed a yellow bird in his yard that looked like a canary. Since he knew that I was a birder, he asked me what I thought the bird might be. I told him that it was likely an American Goldfinch, the state bird. He had lived in Washington most of his life but never noticed the little yellow bird.
Lyn and I and our grandson were walking along our usual path yesterday afternoon when we noticed an area where the Cottonwoods were dumping a large amount of cotton. Suddenly, a swirl of cotton, actually a small “whirlwind” appeared in the center of the road. Are these whirlwinds always there? Do we just not notice them?
My youngest grandson, 16 months old, was playing along with his two older cousins and older brother. Often, there would be an unpleasant exchange, but sometimes they actually enjoyed being in each other’s company. Were they establishing relationships that would last a lifetime? What was going on?
Our Youngest Grandson
Last night there were lots of firecrackers and fireworks in the area. At times the explosions were quite loud. But the Swainson’s Thrushes continued to sing. In fact, they sang louder than ever. Was their territory so valuable that they would sing to defend it even while under constant attack?
The Swainson’s Thrush has a beautiful flute-like song. Most of my neighbors are unaware of the difference between the thrush’s song and the Song Sparrow’s song. Without doubt it is hard to hear the birds sing when listening to an iPod. But what am I missing? What do I not notice?
It is Father’s Day, 2011. My father passed away 7 years ago. There are times when it does not seem possible. I still miss his presence at our family gatherings. He was the best and most influential teacher that I ever had. And he seldom spoke. St Francis of Assisi was quoted as saying: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” My father was like that.
I was at church this morning at a little parish in Woodinville, Washington. For a moment, I wondered what I was doing there. And then it came to me. Church was where family could be family. It was like ballroom dancing where men can express themselves as men, the leaders, and women can be, for a moment, the followers. In church, the family stands, sits and kneels together. As families in our extended family have done for centuries, they listen to the readings from the sacred book, they listen to words of wisdom, and they partake in the sacred meal. Whether or not you believe that the church holds special keys to salvation it is hard not to see the powerful symbols that are present in these gatherings. Perhaps I understood a little more about who my father was when I saw him at church. He held my baby brothers, he kept the older kids in line, and he escorted my mother up and down the aisle. Even outside of church, he always treated my mother with kindness and courtesy. One day we were bringing him home from the hospital. He had hardly said a word all day. But when we arrived, he said with clarity, “Help your mother get out of the car!” You bet we did. Yes, he was a great teacher. And when I grow up, I would like to be just like him.
We had just returned from the grocery store and noticed a murder (large group) of crows in the cottonwoods alongside the pond. They were really making quite a racket. I suspected there was something up. Lyn looked out the deck and saw something just off the path on the other side of the pond. I took out my binoculars and saw a very large and mature Cooper’s Hawk on the ground next to what appeared to be a dead male Ring-necked Duck. The Cooper’s Hawk, with striking russet-colored bars on her breast and bluish- gray wings, was disturbed by all the commotion. She decided to fly up into the nearby bushes and then out of sight. I wanted to verify that the duck was a male Ring-necked Duck so I approached within about 30 feet to get a better look with my binoculars. There was no doubt. The bill and plumage was unmistakable. So what really happened?
My nephew suggested that the Cooper’s Hawk was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He thought it unlikely that a Cooper’s Hawk would take down a duck. He thought it more likely that the duck was taken by an Eagle and dropped or simply died for some other reason and the hawk was simply picking up some carrion. If an Eagle had taken the duck it is possible that he simply dropped the duck when confronted with the large murder of crows (about 20 birds). But it was a very large Cooper’s Hawk! I think the hawk did it. Later that afternoon I returned to the spot where I saw the dead drake. The duck had been dragged about 6 feet. It appeared that the Cooper’s Hawk had returned to the scene of the crime for her lunch. It was an ugly sight. There was little left but head and feathers.
In my youth, I went fishing a few times, but I never went hunting. I couldn’t kill an animal without feeling like I did something wrong. But the hawk did what it was supposed to do. In the hawk’s view there was no crime. The next morning there was double the number of Ring-necked Ducks in the pond. Were they trying to make a statement of protest or did they already forget what happened? I haven’t. We humans are often not able to forget. It can be a blessing, but sometimes it’s a curse.
After two weeks, I returned to the “Scene of the Crime.” Feathers were still scattered on the ground.
Major Quake hits Japan followed by a tsunami that hits just north and east of Tokyo. My brother Ron is at home in Tokyo at the time. The building shakes for a long time. Then it shakes again and again. He’s still shaking but sends me and other family members an email saying that he is OK. The next day he writes more emails telling us that Tokyo is recovering rapidly. The next morning my cousin Sylvia calls me asking how Ron is doing. Sylvia lives in Southern California. I live in Western Washington. She wanted to know because Ron is family.
I grew up with some unusual grandparents. Both were devout Catholics and both were forced to leave Mexico because of political unrest in the early 1920s. My maternal grandfather was a famous Mexican Muralist who continued as a muralist, portrait artist, and religious painter in California. My paternal grandfather was a politician and landowner/businessman who put his skills in business to good use in the Los Angeles area. He had to. He had 13 children.
Back Row from Left: Adela, Ralph, Frank, Angie. Middle Row: Joe, Lupe, Grandfather, Grandmother, Teresa, Gabriel. Bottom Row: Mike, Katherine, Laura, Rosemary, and Nick.
There’s Dad on the top right. Only Laura, Rosemary and Nick are still living. When my grandfather died in 1965 he had 50 grandchildren. Growing up we became acquainted with all the cousins. Many still live in the Los Angeles area. Rosemary moved with her family to Albuquerque, New Mexico so we didn’t see her children too often. But there are many happy memories to explore. My cousin Sylvia is Uncle Ralph’s daughter. So what brought her to call me about my brother Ron? I don’t believe the answer is easy, but I think it has something to do with the powerful bond that family has on us. I remember that Sylvia came to visit my mom when she was very ill and near death. I remember my brothers were all there when both parents were in their last hours. I remember Joe’s family bringing water to share with the family at my father’s funeral. I remember playing baseball with Joe’s kids and Rosemary’s kids. I remember playing chess with Frank’s kids. I remember growing up with Nick’s children. I suppose it was these occasions and occasions like them where the family bond grew stronger. I really appreciate the call from Sylvia. It was a pleasant reminder that I will always have my family. It’s a good feeling to have.
If you could have any super power, which would you choose? For the purposes of this discussion, the following powers are allowed: super-strength, super-speed, mind reading, super-intelligence, flight, and time travel with a space transporter. Sorry, no ice generation or flame throwing. So which would you choose? Super-strength and super-speed would be nice if you wanted to be a super hero. Mind reading would be interesting, but really scary. What if I could tell what people were really thinking? I suspect I would lose all my friends in a hurry. What if other people could read my mind? Now that would be downright embarrassing. People would probably throw me out of their house on a regular basis. Some would not let me in their house. Super intelligence would be helpful. But I really can’t imagine what it would be like because, right now, I have average intelligence. I believe I would choose time travel with a space transporter. My apologies to Dr. Einstein, but I would have to set some rules. The time and place where I visited would have no knowledge of my presence. I could not talk to anyone and no one would be able to see or hear me. But it would still be a super experience.
So where would I go? In this case, of course, we are talking about time and space. I can think of many places. First, I would like to play baseball with my Dad again. He would take his sons with him to Lynwood Park, or one day, he took us to Chavez Ravine before Dodger Stadium was built. He was a great pitcher, or so it seemed to a six year old. Sometimes he would hit us fly balls. There was nothing in the world that was more fun than catching one of his deep flies to the outfield.
Next, I would like to be in front of our house when I was five years old. I was flying a kite and all the string was out, the kite was flying almost straight up. “Look Mommy.” Look at my kite!” My mom peered out the window and looked up. She seemed very happy with her little boy.
And then I would like to be two years old on the rug rolling the ball back and forth to my grandfather. I remember the smell of the linseed oil from his paints and the faint outlines of the room, but I would love to be there again. It seemed like the happiest place on earth.
We had a sunny day, the first in a long time. There was no snow on the ground. So we decided to take a walk. This is where we walked:
It was 39F and mostly sunny but felt warmer because there was no wind. We walked up 232nd Street to just beyond the Tolt Pipeline. Turning East on NE 14oth Street we walked towards the Snoqualmie River Valley. Passing 235 Ct NE we saw a Pileated Woodpecker flying west. The white under her wings sparkled in the bright sunshine. Lyn noted the beautiful houses with large play areas along the way. One house had a two story tree house for the children. I noted the singing Song Sparrows. At the end of 140th Street we stopped to take photos of the Snoqualmie River Valley. We could see a small portion of the river and a lot of flooded farmland as we looked to the northeast. Continuing south on 242nd Ave NE we walked among tall Douglas Firs. As we approached the Pipeline again we noticed the “bathtub” on the right, a famous landmark. Knowing that the view would be spectacular at the bottom of the hill, but not wanting to walk back again, I decided to walk down anyway. Lyn went part way. The view was spectacular. I could see hundreds if not thousands of ducks in the huge puddles created by the flooded river. But then I had to walk up again. No problem. I’m only 63.
Returning along the Pipeline we passed a man who was playing ball with two black poodles. Their ears would flop up and down as they chased the ball. It was funny to watch. Returning to our neighborhood we saw men laying concrete on the curbs and sidewalks. A week earlier, another crew had come to tear up the less than perfect work of their predecessors. “To every thing … there is a season…”
As one gets older, one wonders why time goes by so fast. I was talking to one of our friends at a gathering last night. Neither one of us could remember very much about raising our children. I remember the high points and the low points, but without photos; I would forget a lot more. It all seemed to go by so fast. Our two daughters were born and before I knew it, they were out of the nest. I remember holding my oldest daughter in my arms when she was about three days old. I held her with just my right hand. Today she has two boys of her own. Where did the time go?
I remember the day that I met my wife to be as if it was only yesterday. After 42 years of being married, it still seems like it was only yesterday.
I remember starting work at Hughes Aircraft Company fresh out of the Air Force. Before I knew it, I was signing retirement papers. Did I really work that many years?
My dad used to enjoy dancing before he met my mom. After that he never danced again until my oldest daughter got married. Certainly it was the most photographed dance in history. He never missed a beat. Even though it had been over 50 years, to my dad it probably didn’t seem like that long ago.
I remember going to church with my dad when I was young. They called him “Mr. Magallanes.” Before I knew it, I was at his funeral and they were calling me Mr. Magallanes. How could that be? I thought I was just one of his boys.
When my youngest daughter was three, she took piano lessons from my mother. At four, her mother found her playing something different by herself. Her mother asked her what she was doing. She said “I’m composing.” Today she writes music as part of her business. I bet she can still feel the piano keys on grandma’s piano. My daughter never missed a beat.
Time plays tricks on us as we get older. When we are young, Christmas seems like it will never come. But as we get older, time passes in the blink of an eye.
On Christmas Eve we sang in our parish choir. I sang Tenor and Lyn sang soprano. I had the most trouble with the Christmas Carols because we didn’t have time to practice them.
On Christmas, we had a dinner at our house to include my brother and his wife and his two daughters and their families and my daughter and her husband and her husband’s brother. Lyn prepared a ham and a wonderful vegetable dish with brussel sprouts and cranberries. A great time was had by all. Afterwards, we played Taboo. Carol, my favorite niece, was the winner many times over. Her lightning fast responses were hard to beat. The photos above document the festivities.