There is a chipmunk. Being a chipmunk he tends to move very quickly. The cat has, to my knowledge, never seen him. She is not the most attentive indoor hunter of things outdoors. She’s not the most attentive hunter of things indoors, but I digress.
Anyway, the chipmunk took the time to sun himself today. I was able to get a shot from a fair way off. I have now documented the chipmunk:
Aubie came to visit us at the game tonight. Aubie has a flashing problem:
No one in the family has bothered to confront him yet. I think everyone is waiting for the right time.
He also sat with us for awhile, until the children came calling. Aubie is a ladies man, but he’s all about the kids, too. And so, after a time, he was off to hug little girls and tousle the hair of the young guys.
All of this during a baseball game that Auburn lost to Jacksonville State 6-1.
Grading papers. One student wrote “This class has shaped how I view journalism and will be foundational in my future studies in this major.”
Also I converted that not-quite-good Toomer’s Corner thing I wrote last month into the Big Stories format. You might have read it here or on TWER, but it is a different way of seeing it. Sometimes that makes all the difference. I’m going to use that format for things every now and then. I expect there will be a few additions this summer.
Which is on the way, by the way. Summer, I mean. We hit 79 today. We’ll be in the 80s tomorrow.
Talking with my grandmother Sunday I told her that I knew she’d been frustrated by the spring, with the cold temperatures. She said it was the coldest spring she could remember. And she said she wouldn’t complain about the summer at all. When it gets here.
We held the last critique meeting of the school year for the newspaper. The newsroom closes down for the summer. Some people graduate, others take a deep breath. I thanked them for their hard work. I bragged on them, despite the huge error in the headline of the lead story.
Class was held. Things were discussed. Everyone’s mind is outside because the beautiful spring weather has shown up and it all feels very real and, finally, incontrovertibly here.
The newsroom folks gave me two doughnuts. That’s how you end a Wednesday:
Made it home in time to see the last half of the baseball game. Auburn hosted Samford. Everyone wanted to know who I would cheer for. Samford pays me so …
Auburn won 9-3, in yet another comeback. Both teams are in their respective conference post-season hunts. The two teams have almost identical conference records. Samford hits for power, Auburn has lately been looking for any hits that drive in runs. They’ve spent their conference schedule getting beaten up by the baseball teams in the country. Auburn has won both of the two mid-week games this season.
The last time Samford beat Auburn was March of last year, at Samford, and it was dramatic:
Here’s a mystery: After tonight’s game The Yankee, Adam and I caught dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this on the ground next to the door. I’ve boosted the contrast so we can see it a bit more clearly:
It says “Heard & Swope 1905.” A quick search of the genealogy sites tells me there was a Sylvester McDaniel Swope (1852-1923). He was a preacher in Talladega, which is about 90 minutes away today. It was a little different in his day. But Sylvester had a son in 1877, Arthur, who married Addie Lee Heard. Arthur is buried here in Auburn, so maybe these are the right people. (There were 31,000 people in the county and about 1,600 in the town at the time. How many different Heards and Swopes could there have been?)
The first gas pump was four years away and the year before there a total of 37 party line phones in town. Those tidbits, and this picture, come from Logue and Simms’ (1981) incomparable pictorial history.
That map is from 1903, when College Street was still Main. See that empty spot at lot 34? I think that’s where this Heard & Swope marker would go in in 1905. You can count the front doors today and it makes sense, for the most part. But I’m not sure what Heard and Swope were building. Yet.
The weekly post with extra pictures that would otherwise just sit on my phone or in my camera and never be seen because there was no logical place for them, except for Catching Up.
The seniors give us all awards at the end of the year. This year’s seniors acknowledged my Twitter account. I try to share helpful material with them there.
For the first time in years I looked at the dates on coins. These are the ones sitting on my desk. All week I’ve been checking out dates, since taking this picture. I’ve learned it has become difficult to find a random coin that is as old as I am. Birthdays and years don’t make me feel old. Little things like that have a way of getting to you, though.
I don’t remember why I took this picture, which is a rare thing for me to say. But I did, and here it is. I was on my bike one evening, I think. I seldom forget why I took a picture. I regret taking them even less.
Our friend and baseball smart guy Kevin Ives is holding up the rebel black bear that Dr. Magical Balloons made. We were his warmup act — he just volunteered us — and this took him about 45 seconds. He’s good. Book him:
So there was John Pawlowski, an otherwise quiet, even-tempered, nice guy, watching his team struggle in this very inert fashion today. The weather was getting to everyone. And just as the sun came out Pawlowski saw something he could get animated about. So he went out to argue a strike call against one of his batters.
Only you don’t argue balls and strikes. So when Pawlowski, the likable man did it, the umpire heard him out and walked up the first base line. Pawlowski stayed by the batter’s box, like he was getting ready to dig in. He said a few more things. The fans were egging it on. And the ump came back down the line and they argued a bit more. And then the ump tossed the manager, which was his plan and what the ump was trying to avoid. This ejection, his first of the season, fired up the team. You can see the video below:
There was a C-130 flyover. He was very low. A C-130 did some historic and record-breaking landings on the USS Forrestal in the 1960s. And yet this is still strange to see knowing the only airport close by is a small municipal airport that has two runways which are … both … long enough for the Hercules. OK, never mind. Still cool to see:
The Mother’s Day gift you’ll want to leave on the shelf:
Great game at the ballpark today. This game had it all: pickoff moves, base stealers thrown out by a mile, moonshots, two home runs denied, two comebacks, ejections, arguing from both sides, sunshine and, naturally, an over-the-shoulder catch by the closer to end the game. It was a gritty performance by Auburn to take the series and the best game I’ve seen all year:
At the end of the weekend Auburn is now 11th in the SEC. The top 12 teams advance to the conference tournament in Hoover. It will come down to the last two weekend series again for the Tigers.
Checking my elaborately Photoshopped gag gift calendar … yes, I see that this is May.
In Albany, NY, where Maine is playing baseball today, it is sunny and 75. We haven’t seen 75 in a week. It is 57 right now. The high temperatures for Auburn on this day in this century: 80, 78, 82, 69, 71, 84, 82, 79, 77, 84, 70, 84 and 60.
I’ve seen snow in the Deep South in April. But I’m pretty sure I’ve never huddled under a blanket in May. This is a strange season.
Also, it is rainy.
The baseball game was delayed from the afternoon until the evening. So that meant even cooler still. Which wouldn’t have been so bad itself, but for the continual drizzle and threat of rain. And, also, it is May.
By the end of the night you could see your breath in the air.
Now, I like the water. One of my earliest memories is being fished out of the deep end of a pool I had no business being in. As a child the local YMCA had the fish-themed swimming lessons and I made it up to the shark level. I was a certified lifeguard, back in the old style where you had to go get people and in the kinder, gentler, let’s don’t get hurt or sued and throw in a float instead style. I have memories, for some thing or other, of turning blue jeans into a floatation device. I’ve treaded water for more than an hour. I’ve been a SCUBA diver for two decades.
I’m good with the water, at peace with what I can and can’t do there, particularly below the surface. You still have some control of things there. If you know yourself you have fairly defined ideas of your limits, and that is satisfying and comforting; I’m not afraid of the water because I know what I am and what I am not, he said, hoping that sounded wise. But I treat it recreationally.
One thing I am not is a lap swimmer.
Never could hold a straight line. That’s just the basic problem. Olympic and national champion swimming coach David Marsh once told me “You have to admire swimmers. They spend hundreds of hours doing thousands of laps in a pool to shave fractions of a second off their best time.”
I respect that level of dedication and discipline, even more in the context of things I’d never do. I’m not that kind of swimmer.
So there I was today, cool new reflective race goggles, in an outside lane of an outdoor pool with the temperature hovering around 65 degrees and falling and trying to swim.
I haven’t done anything more than tread water or float on my back in a year or so.
Today I just tried to make the goggles fit. They didn’t. Water got in. I don’t like water in my eyes. So I quickly realized you don’t clear goggles like you would clear a diving mask:
It just brings in more water. Because your nose isn’t inside the confined area, of course. But, hey, the training is never forgotten. So up on the rope line, work on the goggles. Swim a bit, fiddle a bit, swim a bit, drown my eyes awhile. And so on. Finally this was resolved. Finally I can swim. Only I’ve all but forgotten how to breathe. I like to breathe. Breathing, in my book, is vastly underrated. This goes on in a thoroughly unsatisfying manner.
Finally it all comes together. I can see. I can breathe. I can actually think about the stroke. I get through four circuits of the freestyle stroke — really bringing my arms and shoulders out of the water and overhead and down properly — and realize this hurts my shoulder. So the now 10-month old injury and surgery still limits me.
So I do other things, try other strokes. Back to the sidestroke and a modified breaststroke and my favorite: underwater, handcuffed criminal stroke.
But I did 700 meters — a warmup, really — which is more than I would have done otherwise.
Also, it turned cold again today. Chilly, in fact. Downright unseasonable and noticeable, too. I’d complain, but there is snow in places like Iowa and Minnesota that would also like a bit of May, thank you. I’ve mentioned it. Remarked, maybe. But I haven’t complained too much. And if I have, it was entirely good-natured, because some places are dealing with unseasonal May snows.
But I would like spring to come back, because the first part of summer can hurt if it just shows up without a preamble.
After falling 6-1 to Ole Miss tonight, Auburn is now 16-51 against the SEC in the big four sports — football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball — since the 2012 SEC baseball tournament. That’s a bad year.