Wendy and I headed to Principal Park in Des Moines yesterday afternoon to attend our first Iowa Cubs game of the season. It was great to sit in the sun, get sunburn, eat a hot dog, and quaff a few cold ones despite our boys of summer getting trounced by Oklahoma City.
One of the many reasons I enjoy baseball is the history and traditions of the game. Given my love of history and my tendency to be nostalgic to a fault, it makes sense that I would love a game that has roughly been played the same way for almost 200 years. It’s a game that binds generations together.
My first trips to Sec Taylor stadium (now known as Sec Taylor Field at Principal Park) were in the early 1970s. About once a summer my grandpa Spec would drive me to Sec Taylor (with a requisite drive by of the Iowa State Capitol building) for an afternoon game. In those days the home team was known as the Iowa Oaks, the AAA farm team of the Oakland Athletics. Grandpa would get us bleacher seats in the shade of the open grandstand roof, behind home plate. We watched some of the great players of Oakland’s World Series winning “mustache gang” as they made their way up to the bigs.
Today, when I sit and enjoy the Iowa Cubs in a much nicer park I am reminded of my grandfather. I never fail to have memories of bringing Taylor and Madison to games when they were young. They still humor dad with an occasional trip to the park even though neither of them really cares about the game. I relive memories of bringing our young friends Nathan and Aaron. And, God willing, I dream of the day I get to bring my own grandchildren to a game at the same park, just as Grandpa Spec brought me.
The past two weeks were dominated by last weekend’s production of Almost, Maine. Wendy and I were cast before Christmas and the curtain finally rose on four performances April 14-17. The play is a series of nine vignettes that take place in on the same night, at the same time, in the mythical town of Almost, Maine. The scenes are all reflections on love and relationships.
The challenge and opportunity for both Wendy and me were to play multiple characters in the show. I played five characters and Wendy played three. It is not unusual for actors to play multiple roles in a show, but the multiple characters are often bit parts or walk-on roles. It is another thing altogether to develop 3-5 fully developed, differentiated characters in one show. From an acting perspective it is an exciting challenge to walk off stage, change costume in less than 30 seconds and walk on as a completely different character. To pull it off and make it believable for the audience was a really, really fun stretch for both Wendy and me.
The show went well. Attendance was slightly above average for a spring show in our community theatre. For both of us, the fun was all about the experience of being directed by our friend Kevin McQuade who is a brilliant director and who pushed both of us to new heights in our acting experiences. In addition, we loved, loved, loved our fellow cast members who were focused, disciplined, and really fun to work with.
Production weekend was fun, but took a lot out of us. The cast socialized after every show. Opening night we had a party here at Vander Well Pub and the last guests to leave meandered out the door around 1:00 a.m. Friday night the cast and crew stopped at the Cellar Peanut Pub and then enjoyed drinks and eats at Monarch’s. Wendy and I enjoyed a nightcap at McQuade Pub and walked home somewhere around 2:00 a.m. Saturday night the cast and various friends enjoyed after show festivities at Kaldera. The closing performance on Sunday was followed by set strike and a cast party at McQuade Pub.
Oh…and I preached two services on Sunday morning in the auditorium at Third Church.
It was wonderful to have Suzanna, Taylor, my folks, Jody, and Emma join us over the weekend to see the show. It’s always a bittersweet experience having loved ones come to town to see the show, but then not having the time or space to actually spend time with them.
We got home from the final cast party on Sunday evening about 9:00 p.m. and I immediately had to pack for a week-long business trip to Texas. I flew out first thing Monday morning and spent five days in San Antonio and Laredo. It was a long week, for sure, but on Friday I got to meet Tim and Kumi for a late lunch at BJ’s Brewhouse between San Antonio and Austin. It was fun to hear about their recent vacation in Japan to visit Kumi’s sister and to see their photos. I also got to spend a couple of hours at the McNay Art Museum before flying out for home.
This weekend has been blessedly quiet. I mowed a crop of weeds on Saturday and tried desperately to groom our pitiful lawn so that it wouldn’t completely shame the neighborhood. Though, our weed infested lawn is an admittedly nicer sight than the apocalyptic wasteland that was our lot last year. We ended Saturday with a wonderful evening on Matthew and Sarah’s deck.
We headed to the early service this morning and enjoyed the message from Roger DeWaard before making the trek to Principal Park for our first Iowa Cubs game of the season. The I-Cubs sucked wind and got blown out by Oklahoma City, but Wendy and I sat in the sun and got our first sunburn of the season.
It’s a momentous week ahead. My 50th birthday is this coming Saturday. [sigh]
Our week was full and the highlight of the past seven days was the wedding of our friends Matthew and Sarah Burch on Saturday night. The week began on Sunday afternoon at the house Matthew and Sarah are moving into in Hunter’s Ridge outside of Pella. It was Lincoln’s 7th birthday and they were having a a gathering of family and friends for a cookout to celebrate. It was a the first chance Wendy and I had to meet some of Sarah’s family.
On Monday night Wendy, Suzanna and I all headed to West Market Park for Union Street Players’ potluck picnic and annual meeting. It was a gorgeous evening and we had a great turnout. I have just completed my 10th year as President and Wendy just completed her 11th on the Board, most of those years serving as Treasurer. We decided earlier this year our time of service on the Board has been fulfilled. Time to let others step up and step in to leadership. Elections were held and we officially entered lame duck status until September 1st when the new officers will take over.
The gorgeous summer weather would continue on Tuesday and it was a great night for baseball. For the second year in a row, the Vande Lude boys treated me to Dude’s Day as a birthday present. We headed to Des Moines and had pizza at Scornovacca’s before heading to Principal Park to watch the I-Cubs take on the Nashville Sounds. The I-Cubbies dropped the game 3-2 but a good time was had by all. Throughout the evening Chad and I plied Nathan and Aaron with “Dude’s Day Questions.” Two of my favorites:
Tom: Dude’s Day Question. Blonde, brunette, or redhead?
Tom: If mom was a superhero, what would her super power be?
Aaron: Kissing daddy.
Thursday night was supposed to be a bridal shower for Sarah at our house and a Guy’s night out with Matthew and the boys. Matthew’s guy’s night transitioned to just a dinner between Matthew and me, then late in the afternoon Matthew bailed on me to spend some time with family who had arrived for the wedding. So…..while Wendy and the ladies celebrated Sarah I walked down the block to McQuade Pub and enjoyed drinks and stogies with Kevin and Linda which is always, always a great way to spend the evening. Wendy had a great time with Sarah and her friends.
On Friday we enjoyed a quiet day at VW Manor. Late in the day Taylor and I enjoyed a nice time of conversation downstairs in VW pub watching the Cub’s and White Sox and Kevin McQuade joined us late in the game to watch the Northsiders win their eighth game in a row. Taylor took off to join Emily Boyd and her boyfriend, Zac at George’s Pizza for dinner. Wendy made wonderful Tilapia filet’s for a quiet dinner just the two of us.
It was a hot one on Saturday, but I was determined to tackle one of my summer honey-do projects before heading to Des Moines for the wedding. I had stained some green treated 2x4s late in the week and spent Saturday morning building a deck step outside our patio doors on the back patio. Felt very manly.
Selfie with Shanae Burch
Pre-Wedding cocktails at Centro
Chad is sad. Kevin, not so much.
Kevin and Becky Roose
Wendy and me with Chad and Shay Vande Lune
Becky, Shay, Taylor and Wendy
Paul Jones and me with the happy couple!
Kevin, Taylor and Becky.
Me and Kevin.
Our dinner table.
Me and Shanae
Wendy, Taylor and me.
Wendy, Taylor and Becky.
Pre-Wedding cocktails at Centro.
Selfie with Shanae & Olivia Burch
Taylor and Becky.
The Grand Ballroom of the Temple of Performing Arts is a gorgeous wedding venue!
Panorama of the ballroom during dinner.
During the ceremony Matthew, Sarah, and their kids mixed colored sand as their lives are being mixed together.
It then felt manly getting cleaned up and donning my tux. Wendy, Taylor and I drove to the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines where Matthew and Sarah’s wedding was scheduled for 5:30. It brought back a lot of memories for Wendy and me as we got married at the Temple on New Year’s Eve 2005. We arrived about 4:00 and checked in with Matthew and Sarah who were taking pictures in the Grand Ballroom. After snapping a picture or two we met Taylor and Kevin & Becky Roose at the Centro bar for drinks.
The grand ballroom is an unbelievably gorgeous venue for a wedding. Matthew and Sarah were stunning and the wedding was really meaningful. Matthew had asked me to stand and provide a brief introduction of him for those who may not know him. It was fun to share a few words. After the ceremony everyone moved into the Recital Hall for drinks and appetizers as they readied the ballroom for dinner. I enjoyed conversation with Matthew’s friend from his grad school days at Fuller and we also hung out with Chad and Shay.
The dinner was amazing and it was a wonderful feast. When the feasting was over the dancing began. So much fun was had by all. Late in the evening Matthew and I stole away to the guy’s dressing room where we had a few minutes of quiet time and I got to pray over the groom. By the end of the evening it was the Vander Wells, Rooses, and Vande Lunes who were the last ones on the dance floor. It was midnight before we got home.
This morning it was back to Des Moines where I had the privilege of sharing the morning message at Westview in Waukee. Taylor came with her friend Curtis. After the service she and Curtis headed to the Des Moines Art Center for a lunch date. Wendy and I had lunch at the Roose’s with Keith and Tanya Wilhite.
We then headed to Des Moines for a noon Iowa Cubs game. We sat in the sun, ate hot dogs, drank beer, and watched the hometown boys celebrate my birthday with a 7-2 win over the Round Rock Express. We got fried to a crisp in the hot sun, but after a cool, wet spring that seemed like a worthwhile luxury.
We got back to Pella in time to get our stuff gathered and up to the Pella Opera House for our final dress rehearsal. The Tulip Queen and her court came to see the show, which was nice. After the show, our friends in the cast, crew (Moriarity’s, Van Zante’s, Ann W., Lisa W. along with Kevin M.) went out to Kaldera for food and drinks. We enjoyed a marvelous evening together. It was the perfect way to end my birthday.
The celebrations weren’t over, however. There was no rehearsal on Wednesday. My friend Matthew took me to Des Moines for a burger and a pint at Rock Bottom before seeing the movie Oblivion at Jordan Creek. It was great to spend time with a friend. Wendy and I enjoyed the evening on the couch watching Scott Feldman pitch a complete game in a Cubs’ victory of San Diego.
Pella Tulip Time arrived yesterday along with a rare, late winter storm. It was cold, windy and wet all morning. Then the snow started flying. The parades were cancelled. After trying to open for a few hours, all the food stands shut down. Wendy and I bundled up in our scarves, winter coats and gloves to walk through the blizzard like conditions to the Pella Opera House. Since it was one of the few things people could do indoors, we had a good crowd for our opening performance of The Dominie’s Wife. After the show we braved the elements to walk home and holed up to have dinner and call it an early evening.
This morning I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked out the window at the blanket of newly fallen snow. Our show will still go on this afternoon. Tomorrow the high is predicted at 58 with light rain, so there may yet be hope for at least one soggy parade or two. What an awful disappointment for the community. No one we’ve spoken with can remember a Tulip Time this miserable!😦
We have performances of The Dominie’s Wife this afternoon at 4:30 and again tomorrow at 12:30.
Cubbie Bear stopped by to wish me a Happy Birthday!
The Easter weekend started with my birthday party which was celebrated a week early. Wendy has always wanted to rent a skybox at Principal Park and have a birthday party for me. The I-Cubs aren’t in town on my actual birthday, so the festivities were planned for last Friday night. It was a cold, drizzly night so it was nice that we had a warm, dry skybox to enjoy the game. As the sun went down, fog started rising from the outfield and the game was eventually called after seven innings because of it. There were, however, fireworks after the game which was a great way to end the evening.
Wendy and I volunteer on the tech team at our church and Easter Sunday is always a major technical production. Half of the worship team is in the sanctuary and half in the auditorium. So the Easter service happens together in two rooms with audio and visual hook up between the two. Wendy was on a camera and I was running a light board. So, Saturday was rehearsal and then all Sunday morning was spent helping with two of the three Easter Sunday services.
After church, we headed to Des Moines to have Easter dinner with the VWs. The Keithley crew were there along with Tay & Clay and Uncle Tim. We were also excited to have our family friend Dave with us. Dave is in from Rhode Island helping renovate Tim’s building. It had been many years since I’d seen him.
We missed Maddy Kate who was in Minneapolis. She is finishing up school and will return to Pella in early May.
The I-Cubs missed the post season, losing their chances in the final game of the season on Labor Day. The Chi-Cubs are one step from the cellar and their days are numbered. The NFL season starts tonight. Wendy and I have broken out our purple and gold.
So long, Cubbie Bear. See you next spring when our hopes are made new again.