The unforeseen rewards of sleeping in

Amish homes
Pleasant morning.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I slept in. It was Saturday after all. It’s the way lots of folks begin their weekend.

For me, though, arising after 7 a.m. was abnormal even on weekends. I like to beat the sun to its dawn.

I needed the sleep after two consecutive late night outings. Now, the terms “late night” take on significant and liberal interpretation when you are a grandparent and not a teenager.

Thursday I attended another fun night in Cleveland with a good friend. I arrived extra early to avoid the guaranteed congestion since the Indians weren’t the only act in town. Sir Paul McCartney was playing next door to the Tribe, and the Browns lost another football game in front of their faithful mass of masochists.

In other words, the town was full of excited folks. Having lived and worked in the city many moons ago, I walked around the downtown area a bit to kill time and to view the remade public square. I was impressed with the space and the all-around cleanliness of the place.

Downtown Cleveland
Fun in Cleveland.
People sat at street side tables in front of restaurants enjoying the cuisine, drinks, and one another. I found the corner where three decades ago I had crossed the street with 30 first and second graders and their teacher. A religious street barker with hand-printed signs and tracts stopped his doomsday bellowing and moseyed up to me. He quietly asked me if the children were Pilgrims. I stoically replied that they were Amish, and followed the class across the intersection.

I spent a marvelous evening at the ballpark with my friend Rob. Happily, it was another last at-bat win for the Indians.

Elvis, Mark Lonsinger, Millersburg OH
Elvis.
Friday evening was just as much fun. My buddy Tim and I went to hear our friend Elvis perform his last gig for the summer in Millersburg. We weren’t disappointed and met lots of other friendly fans.

Both nights I was up way past my bedtime. So I wasn’t surprised that I had slept through sunrise on Saturday. I needed the rest.

Well behind my usual start time, I wanted to get my walk in before the late summer Saturday warmed too much. I discovered that being tardy had its enjoyable rewards.

I usually walk uninterrupted. Not this day.

morning walk
Where I walk.
Good neighbor Mary was already weeding her roadside flowerbeds. We chatted a while as Baltimore Orioles chased one another in the grove of trees at the south edge of my property. Their brilliant orange blazed neon in the sharp-slanting morning light.

An Eastern Phoebe called from a cluster of hardwoods just as I ran into Brian, another neighbor. We talked about his work, the warm weather, and the exhilaration of yet another fantastic Indians comeback victory.

I turned the corner and met my next-door neighbor, Trish, who was in the home stretch of her morning walk. I didn’t delay her long.

Girls in cerulean dresses pedaling bicycles and families in jet-black buggies silently greeted me with head nods and quick waves of hands. It felt good to be alive.

On the return trip to home, another young neighbor caught up with me on his four-wheeler. He was out scouting hunting spots with the season about to begin. A mourning dove sat atop a snag of a dying ash tree, perhaps eavesdropping on Tyler’s hunting secrets.

Annie Yoder
Annie.
I floated with elation the short distance remaining to my house. I was that invigorated by the gorgeous morning, the multitude of spontaneous interpersonal connections I had had, all after two enjoyable evenings with friends.

In the afternoon, I drove to Wooster to celebrate with my friend Annie on the release of her new album “Thousand.” True to form, she belted it out to the delight of all who attended.

Maybe I need to sleep in more often.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

The end of Cleveland sports fatalism?

Amish boys, celebration
A local pizza shop in Fredericksburg, Ohio stayed open late so young Amish boys could watch the deciding game seven of the NBA playoffs. This photo posted on social media shows the boys cheering as the Cavs beat the Warriors.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Maybe this is the end of the strangling fatalism that sports fans of Cleveland’s three professional teams have endured for far too long.

“This” references the recent, glorious victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors that made the Cavs the National Basketball Association (NBA) Champions for 2016.

I know. In today’s fast-paced era of instant information, this fact is old news. But without that introduction, the rest of what I have to say wouldn’t make much sense.

First of all, I couldn’t bear to watch the game. I don’t follow the NBA much anyhow. I wasn’t about to jinx the Cavs by watching the deciding game.

However, when the alert on my wife’s smartphone reported that the Cavs had won, we bolted out of bed and turned on the TV to watch the post-game celebration. It was worth the missed minutes of sleep.

I was impressed with the genuine tears of joy and relief shed by all the players and the head coach. They clearly understood what that precious moment meant to all Cleveland sports fans everywhere. I teared up, too.

miracles
MiraCLEs do happen.

It meant the world to us. It said that after 52 years of hope, frustration, disappointment, and despair that Cleveland had finally broken the infamous, self-induced curse of losing. Of course, such a thing never existed. It just seemed so.

The Cleveland Browns were the last of the three professional sports teams to win a world championship. That was in January 1964. I remember it well because I was at that game as an excited 16-year-old, having had my name drawn in a lottery to purchase tickets.

The Browns won the National Football League Championship with a 27 – 0 win over the Baltimore Colts. They played the game in old, cavernous Municipal Stadium in sub-zero conditions. It was pro football’s super bowl before pro football officially had a Super Bowl.

I couldn’t have imagined then that that victory would be the last championship for a Cleveland sports team until the Cavs’ Father’s Day win. Since 1964, followers of Cleveland’s pro sports have had to endure a lot of disappointments to the point of being fatalistic.

No matter how good any of the three teams were, something silly, even unimaginable, was sure to happen as if the sports Gods had it in for the poor city whose river once caught on fire. I was there for that, too.

During that depressing stretch, fans of the Cavs, the Browns, and the Indians had seen it all. For the Cavs, it was Michael Jordan on far too many occasions.

For the Browns, it was The Drive, The Fumble, and The Move, when Art Model secretly transported the team to Baltimore. The Colts had previously shuffled off to Indianapolis.

For the Indians, it was Jose Mesa in the ninth inning of game seven of the 1997 World Series. They haven’t been close to a championship since.

But the Cavs have permanently corked that bottle of bad luck. Since I froze my nose in 1964, Cleveland finally has another world champion. Thanks to fatalism’s firm grip, I still can’t believe it.

Has this great victory killed the Cleveland sports jinx? Will folks simply get on with life without this fatalistic outlook about never being able to win? I sure hope so.

I do know this. When the Cleveland Indians defeat the Chicago Cubs for the World Series win this fall, I’ll be entirely, positively, wonderfully convinced.

fireworks, baseball, Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians
Someday fireworks will explode in celebration of an Indians World Series championship. Someday, maybe this year. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Better late than not at all: Humbly accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

By Bruce Stambaugh

Last March, I was honored to receive an award I really didn’t know what to do with. I had only been blogging for three months, and I wasn’t sure if this was legitimate or the blogger’s version of a chain letter.

Versatile Blogger AwardAaron Graham was nice enough to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award on me after he read my Questions post. And for my more cynical readers, I have never met nor do I know Aaron. He adequately described the award and why I received it, along with a few others. In accepting this coveted award, all I had to do was write a post thanking Aaron. I also had to proclaim seven little known facts about myself, which would have been a piece of cake since I am so little known to start with. And I had to hand out the same award to up to 15 other bloggers. In my naiveté, I wasn’t sure I knew 15 other bloggers. Sure, I had more people than that visit my blog, and several posted comments. I could have easily gone back through those comments, clicked on their blog and christened the 15 I felt most deserving as fellow Versatile Bloggers. But I didn’t.

You see one of my many faults, and my kind wife will attest that it is only one, is that I procrastinate. I wrote about that, too, once. But that was long before I starting blogging. Still, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and here we are in 2012 and I still haven’t passed on the award the way I should have. Until now.

What spurred me on? One of my blogging friends, Mikalee Byerman, was awarded the Versatile Blogger award after her hysterical Jesus is my Trash man post. When I saw that, I knew the award was valuable and for real. In fact, Mikalee was on my short list of bloggers to nominate.

So thanks to Aaron, who by now has probably forgotten me, and to the nice lady from Bellingham, Washington who crowned Mikalee, I am finally accepting this award, revealing seven startling insignificant facts about my life and naming 15 very deserving bloggers for the same award.

And the nominations are:

Bob Zeller for his persistent and informative posts about his two great loves, besides his wife, photography and birds. His shots are amazing.

Patricia Koelle, who shares some exquisite shots from her home in Germany.

Scott sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and has the wherewithal to share it. http://littlecrumcreek.wordpress.com/.

Subhakar Das, who knows both books and photographs with equal expertise at http://ficfaq.wordpress.com/.

Heather who shares a love of animals and words, not only with me, but also with her long list of devoted readers. http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/.

Lucy Gardener loves food, photographs and life. She incorporates all three very nicely on her blog. http://lhgardener1988.wordpress.com/

I think you’ll find Carrie Craig a most appreciative person.

Judy at Northern Narratives beautifully chronicles the days through her lens.

Though focusing on poetry, the subjects and style of Kvenna Rad’s poems are indeed versatile and deserving of this award. http://kvennarad.wordpress.com/

A military spouse from Texas has an important and timely message to follow on http://sottmp.com/.

Grace encourages people to decorate their life at http://www.herumbrella.com/.

Tinkerbelle loves laughter, and shares her youthful sense of humor from her London base. http://laughteriscatching.com/.

Fiona takes an upbeat look at life from China. http://fionaqiqi.wordpress.com/.

Anyone that takes a picture a day, plus loves words and dogs gets my vote. http://livingtheseasons.com/.

And last but not least, any 16-year old who titles his blog, Learning to be Wrong, has to be right. Way to go, Justin. http://learningtobewrong.wordpress.com/.

As for my seven personal revelations, they’re not nearly as revealing or as exciting as the bloggers I’ve listed. But to fulfill the award’s requirement, here there are:

1. I can’t swim.
2. I’m afraid of the water.
3. I almost drowned when I was two.
4. I only take showers (See a pattern developing?)
5. I have never water-skied.
6. I used to have long, blond, curly hair until the seventh grade.
7. I attended the Cleveland Browns’ last World Championship (now hyper-marketed as the Super Bowl) victory, a 27-0 trouncing of the highly favored Baltimore Colts in 1964. Of course since then the Colts moved to Indianapolis, and the Browns moved to Baltimore, thanks to Art Model. The good folks of Cleveland sued to get their name back and won. Unfortunately, the Ravens, really the exiled Browns, went on to win a Super Bowl so Model could be buried in his camel’s hair overcoat and a championship ring on his finger. Or was he already? I can’t remember. I haven’t followed pro football since Model moved the team. I’d rather go swimming.

Well, folks, that’s the best I can do. My procrastination has finally been overcome by guilt, and the Versatile Blogger Awards have been duly handed out. Bring on the Oscars.