Memorial Day has been called the unofficial beginning of summer. It is usually a time when people pack up the car and go somewhere for the long weekend. I feel that over the past few years, people have been getting back to what Memorial Day was originally intended for: honoring those who served and are no longer with us.
I’m not saying there’s something wrong with taking a trip. Whatever you’re doing, you should be mindful of why we celebrate Memorial Day. The United States doesn’t have a draft. Every last man and woman who serves in the Armed Forces does so of their own free will. These people know what they’re signing up for and they go ahead anyway. To say it’s not an easy thing to do is an understatement. Our men and women knowingly and willingly go into danger when everyone else’s first instinct is to avoid it. Unfortunately, some who do this don’t make it back.
There are veterans in my family (Army and Marines) and Wife’s (Air Force). My grandfathers (Army and Navy) and Wife’s (Army) served in World War II. Every Memorial Day, we visit the resting place of Wife’s grandfather. We don’t forget, but The Oppressed likes to ask every year if we’re going. We do, and on the way there is some ceremony taking place, usually downtown, to honor the dead. We make that ceremony, no matter how small or how quick it is.
There are plenty of reasons to celebrate Memorial Day. Those reasons can be found marked with gravestones and American flags. The Oppressed was happy one year when she and a group of friends got to put the flags at the spots occupied by those who served. It’s a way of reminding herself why we have Memorial Day. There are a lot of brave daddies (and mommies) who left their families and didn’t make it back. For Wife and me, our grandfathers, our other relatives, and our friends made it back. Today, we remember those who didn’t. We remember those who knew what they were signing up for and left their homes and their families for that greater purpose that called them. Today, I hope your day allows a moment to pass through a cemetery and see the graves marked with flags. Some towns have a memorial in the center with a statue or a flag to honor those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice. Remember those who didn’t make it, and if you one of those who did, Thank you.
Daddy likes to unwind at the end of the day with a tasty beverage. He also likes to help local businesses. He relaxes. They thrive. It’s a win-win.
I like beer. You know I like beer and you know what kinds of beers I like. I’m happy to say I became a craft beer (formerly known as “microbrew”) connoisseur long before it became a popular thing to do, although I am happy to see the smaller taprooms popping up and taking advantage of the popularity by offering their own lagers, stouts, pilsners, etc.
I thought I would spend this week talking about some locally-made beers in my area and a couple that aren’t exactly close but on my way to and from destinations. These are beers that I have tasted and enjoy buying and imbibing, so I know what I’m talking about. I also want you to know these are beers I am writing about on my own free will and time. No one approached me for this and no one paid or offered me anything. These are beers I genuinely like.
Bent Water Brewing
This was a brewery I first learned about when passing through my old neighborhood. When on the road travelling to or from a vacation or visiting family, I try to stop somewhere to pick up some local beer. I like finding out about what’s around that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy and try. There was one drive home I decided to stop at a store I had passed many times but never visited. I was surprised to find beer made in my native Lynn, MA. I feel like my first beer was the Thunder Funk or the Viskiss. I don’t remember, which is odd because you always remember your first. Right? I’m hoping to try more from this brewery. I just need to make it back to the North Shore. (bentwaterbrewing.com)
Ipswich Ale Brewery
I thought this was Mercury Brewing, but I couldn’t find that in my research. These nice people make many kinds of beer but their flagship offering is Ipswich Ale and it’s a great beer. In addition to this there are a number of other beers including Route 101 and Oatmeal Stout, personal favorites of mine. (ipswichalebrewery.com)
I’m a history buff, so I’m often in America’s Hometown of Plymouth. I’m not sure when I started drinking the offerings of Mayflower Brewing but their Thanksgiving Ale has been my personal tradition for years. Upon returning home from wherever we’re celebrating Thanksgiving, I put my feet up and enjoy one. Pilgrims drank beer all the time. It was safer than the brackish water. I drink beer because I like to support local businesses. Just doing my (small) part. (mayflowerbrewing.com)
I think Wife introduced me to Trillium and I’m glad she did. They have plenty of varieties to choose from and you can enjoy their beers and grab something to eat in Canton and two additional locations in Boston. Otherwise, you can grab a four-pack at your local store. I liked the Double Dry Hopped Scaled the best but am looking forward to trying more, expanding my palette and trying more options. There are plenty from this brewery. (trilliumbrewing.com)
This is just a small sampling of the local beers I enjoy. There seems to be new tap rooms opening up all the time, which means more things to try out. No matter what pops up, I’ll be sure to pick something up from one of the existing breweries. If you like beer, there seems to be no shortage of options. Try one or two. They’re small businesses. They’re local. They certainly appreciate your business.
My birthday was earlier in the spring. There were some baseball-themed gifts on the table that had my name on them. My family knew my glove was needing some repair. I’m not sure how long I had the glove, but I was disappointed when I saw some lacings torn and needing attention.
One of my children saw the glove and heard me mention the need for a repair or replacement. I was presented with a glove repair kit. I had never repaired a glove before and I’m not one of those people who can just take something apart and put it back together. I’m one of those people who takes something apart, puts it back together and ends up with an extra part laying about after reassembly.
I did what I always do when I need to do something but lack the know-how…
Well, I got the kit. My glove needed repair and I had another game coming up. How can I teach children to not jump out of the way? How can I teach them the glove protects them? How can I demonstrate the glove is their friend if I don’t have a glove laced up, intact and on my hand to assist in the demonstration.
Again, I had never done this before and I wasn’t sure if I could. I did what I always do when I need to do something but lack the know-how: I went online to research the problem. I’d like to take this moment to thank YouTube’s DIRTY 30’s Leather & Lace for their tutorials. The videos I found on their page walked me through the process of fixing a glove and I know where to go if the need arises again.
That need did arise. When speaking to a parent after a game, I noticed the player’s glove was pulled apart and needed a new lacing around the fingers. I took the glove home. Again, I needed something to reference for the job. After finding the right source, I was able to stitch the glove back up. The same thing happened a few days later. This one was a little harder. It was a small glove and not one you might repair. I tried it and a fielder has a glove that’s as good as new and his parents saved a little money by not having to go out and find another glove.
That’s the point. Instead of having to buy another glove, I hope by re-lacing these gloves, I’m able to help the players get another season or two out of them. I also hope I’m saving the parents some money. Instead of having to run out and buy another glove, fixing a perfectly usable glove saves them money and a trip to the store. Plus, with one or two baseball players in my family, I’m learning something that is sure to come in handy again.
I’m sure you are aware of the loss we all experienced last year when we needed to have a tree removed from our property. If you are not aware of Larry the Tree and the memories he provided the entire family (The Oppressed), allow me to once again share the story of our beloved tree and the day he was taken away from us in a cruel and heartless decision made by Wife and me. Here is the story that honors his memory. Larry the Tree – Drink your juice (and Other Crimes Against Humanity) (brave-daddy.com)
The Oppressed continues to remind me of what happened to Larry and how he is in a better place, no thanks to her parents. I thought it would be nice if you got it straight from the fingers of my daughter. Here it is, the life and times of Larry in her own words.
My father thought I should write a story on his blog (I am The Oppressed). I decided I will write about the famous Larry The Tree (from the perspective of The Oppressed). Now to begin:
One day I was doing schoolwork and I heard my parents were hiring someone to kill my good friend Larry the tree. They told me he was dead but he was still standing and dead things can’t stand; not to mention they killed him on this birthday, Earth Day. They also said they’ve never heard of the tree being named “Larry”. Well, if they took the time to pay attention, they would know his name. It was brutal. I mean, watching your friend die is 100% not ideal. Not to mention the same day Larry was killed, a Barbie doll (named “Tom”) was buried after suffering injuries from a head ripping. Larry’s funeral was small. I put up a grave, put flowers down, and prayed. Only me and two of my friends were there. I wore a black dress.
This is the true story of Larry.
Larry the tree
April 7, 1966 – April 22, 2020
Last words: “I don’t want to die.”
(The birthdate and final words are accurate according to The Oppressed)
Batting is a miraculous thing. Players who were tired and dying of thirst are suddenly filled with newfound life and energy. Boys who couldn’t stand up are suddenly men with vigor and gusto who are ready to grab a bat and face danger.
The sun is shining. The weather is getting warmer. Birds are singing. It means baseball season is arriving again. It also means a new crew of children to whom I will pass on my love and knowledge for and of the National Pastime.
It also means trying to nail down the names of six or seven new players, which usually means an afternoon of, “Hey!” since I need to get a message across to somebody fast. I might need to bring somebody’s attention to a ball thrown in their direction or wake somebody up who is not paying attention while they are on base and another baserunner is heading for that base. Who knows with this crew?
What I do know is this: There are some future managers on this team. I have a bunch of players who aren’t much for listening, but they love to remind the others where they need to be. They also like telling me who has already played first base and they haven’t hit yet.
Let’s start with my team on the field. The Boys of Summer take the field. Three of them are standing on first base. One might be catching. One or two might be somewhere else on the infield and ask if it’s alright where they are. My first order of the inning is to convince two of the boys on first that they need to play somewhere else. I usually tell them something like I can’t waste their arm at first base or I need someone with their speed somewhere else on the field. Something motivational that will convince them to move from the prized first base. This usually includes a promise that they can play first base later in the game.
That’s done. Players are in position. I look around to see my crew and make sure they’re ready. One is making a sand castle. Two more are practicing ninja dropkicks on the grass. My teams usually include different players doing the same things every year. I just guess who it’s going to be doing what.
Now we’re ready. Players in position. One is looking back at the concession stand. They smell something. Burgers. Chicken fingers. French fries. I remind the player they need to face forward and get ready in case the ball is hit to them. The ball is hit. The fielder fields it and the ball goes sailing over the first baseman’s head. I take this opportunity to remind everyone on the field (again) that the object of the game is to reach the first baseman’s glove, not to show how strong they are. I tell them it’s alright. There are no girls around. They don’t need to show off their strength and can save that for recess the next day.
Sometimes there will be two or three players chatting with each other in the middle of the game. Something urgent and compelling, I’m sure. These are Kindergartners and first-graders so I’m sure what’s being discussed is Earth-shattering. I break up the roundtables and direct the children’s attention to the man at the plate. I don’t need another player threatening to quit because they weren’t paying attention when the ball was hit to them and they took one on the leg or the arm. Our time on the field mercifully comes to an end and it’s our turn to bat.
Batting is a miraculous thing. Players who were tired and dying of thirst after 10 minutes on the field are suddenly filled with newfound life and energy. Boys who couldn’t stand up are suddenly men with vigor and gusto who are ready to grab a bat and face danger. I am met with “Can I hit?” “Is it my turn?” “When can I bat?” This is when I am reminded by numerous people who didn’t get the chance to hit first in any inning last time.
I give the order. This isn’t an actual “game” so it’s a different order every inning in order to make sure the same person isn’t hitting first or last every time. I give the order and, throughout our turn to bat, remind my men who is hitting next and who is on deck. I’m at home plate, sometimes; making sure the feet are where they should be, hands are positioned right, elbow bent. My player is relaxed and ready. I check his feet. I remind him of the batters box (I draw one so they know where to stand) and tell him to stay there and wait for the ball. Level swing. This is what I tell them. Bats go everywhere. Players swing at angles Trigonometry Professors have never seen before. Some players want to stand behind the plate. They draw a box where the catcher normally plays and, since there’s a box there, it’s perfectly alright for them to be there. I explain that’s not the way it works and they need to stand in a Regulation batter’s box. Sorry, Slugger. Rules are rules.
Sometimes I pitch to the budding baseball battlers. These boys are still learning how to hit without a tee, so I am careful and cautious when it comes to pitching. Sometimes, however a pitch goes awry and I hit a batter. I hate that. Not as much as the one who gets hit, but I hate it. I run to the batter, make sure they’re alright and we don’t need to amputate. He’s alright and, after some prodding and convincing from the parents, returns to the box to finish his time at the plate.
He makes contact. Infielders pile upon each other for a chance to get the ball and throw the ball. They can finally do something. The batter runs. I remind him to run the other way. He changes course. I remind him to run without the bat. He flings the bat. Suddenly, I’m Pepper Martin diving out of the way in order to avoid the incoming bat. I’m in my forties and I still have my agility.
The day comes to an end. We line up at home plate, walk past the other team, and say, “Good game.” No handshakes because of the ‘Rona. I end our session with some words of wisdom. Something to inspire the troops. The Boy and I head home where he tells me about what I need to improve on.
I am a husband, a parent to five children, and a baseball coach. I take care of a dog and a cat. I help with homework and give driving lessons among other duties fulfilled. For all of these duties, some of the most exciting moments occur in my own home.
Wife and I try to keep a clean house. Some days are easier than others. Those easier days are usually when the Miracles of Christ are at school or the whole family is out of the house for the day on an excursion. We try to enlist the cherubs’ help from time to time, that’s easier than obtaining answers regarding discoveries Wife and I make around the abode.
You may already be familiar with the story of King Tut’s tomb. In 1923, an archaeologist named Howard Carter found the tomb and discovered what it contained. The discovery was magnificent in both archaeological and historical terms. The discoveries made that day in February of 1923 answered many questions and led to some new ones. The discoveries I make at home produce many questions but don’t answer much.
I go to one child’s room to wake them up in the morning. They have an alarm but they either sleep through it or just ignore it. On my way through the room to their bed, I notice several items laying around the room, usually in the form of empty cans. Thankfully, these empty cans are non-alcoholic, so it could be worse. Since these cans are actually in someone’s room, it’s hard for them to deny them or not now where they came from. Questions regarding this discovery usually produces answers such as, “Oh, yeah,” or, “Um, yeah. I was gonna get those.”
Of course you were. Right after you finished your video game or the television show you started streaming for the tenth time this week. I’m sure it was right at the top of your list. Right after the mountain of laundry that’s been sitting there for weeks going on months, waiting for you to scale it. I’m sure it was just a matter of time. It’s not like you’re in the room sleeping all morning and you walk past them when you finally get up out of bed.
Other discoveries are a little difficult to pinpoint. These are the ones made in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. Upon entering these parts of the house, the visitor is met with random scraps plastic left from opening powdered drink mixes. No one can explain these mysterious phenomena. Empty chip and snack bags. Again, no one can explain this. Water bottles. Juice boxes. More miracles of God. Things people have certainly seen but weren’t around to witness the actual happening. “I don’t know.” “That was there when I got here.” I wonder if we’re on some sacred burial ground of an ancient civilization long forgotten and the spirits are somehow communicating with us with these objects and items randomly left about the house that trespasses on said sacred ground.
Sometimes, there’s food and crumbs left with these mysterious packages. If you’ve seen the movie “Coco”, you know that people leave food for the spirits of their departed relatives. Maybe people in this house have been leaving food for the spirits. It’s also possible that people in this house are eating snacks and leaving crumbs but we don’t want to offend the gods, do we?
I’m not sure who to speak to about this. The Oppressed? The Gaggle? Discovery Channel? The Boy? Wife? National Geographic? I’m sure someone from PBS would love to know about these strange occurrences randomly taking place all over the house. Doggie doesn’t care where it’s coming from. She’s just happy to have an extra snack now and then. I wish these mysterious spirits wouldn’t leave so many signs. It’s hard enough for our dear children to clean the house as it is. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe they really are cleaning but Ida Know and Not Me from “The Family Circus” are dropping by and leaving subtle reminders that they were here. This much I know: It couldn’t possibly come from our children.
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