2nd Thursday [1]: Running the Bases


This is Punkin.

One of my fondest memories of Punkin is when she chased me around the bases on a school baseball field across the street from our last home. She loved to play with us there.

We have since moved to a new house, farther away but still within walking distance of those fields, and we took our current canine there on Saturday. Because I did not introduce her completely in my previous post, I will tell you her name now: Raisin.

We named her Raisin because A) It kept in the spirit 100_4048of the foody name of her sister, Punkin, and B) She had brown circles around her eyes as a puppy that looked to us a little bit like raisins. We quickly learned what a holy terror she was as a puppy (and let’s be honest, still is today as well), so we gave her a middle name: Hell. We call her by both names only with the utmost love and respect, of course. 😉

20150207_164952Raisin had an incident with a husky a few weeks back at the nearby dog park, so we are keeping her away from there for now. Instead we took her to the ball field, and she chased me from second base to third, bringing back to me a happiness I felt years ago.

Of course, there was plenty of ball chasing, too. Raisin is a true runner. She needs to be on a farm, where she can run long distances. Our tiny back yard and the chain in the front yard just aren’t enough for her fast feet. Here she is ready to retrieve a tennis ball:

In all fairness to Chuckit! (and to my wife), Raisin had already cracked the ball in half by chewing on it so much, and tennis balls don’t throw quite as well once they’re broken. That’s my story, anyway.

I love that the ball fields allow a large space for her to run free, and they are mostly contained by a fence to keep her from running away. But the truth is, neither Raisin nor Punkin would ever let us get out of their sight. Punkin was a “people” and felt more comfortable with us than with other dogs. Raisin, I think, just feels she owns us and doesn’t want us to run away.


The ground was a bit wet, having thawed out in a winter warm spell, which meant she alternately had under her feet wet grass, mud, and the new sensation of infield sand. She brought much of the latter two home with her, all over her body. What matters, though, is that she got some much needed exercise, and she had fun.


It was easy to feel Punkin’s presence there, too.

Chasing down balls or a Frisbee.

And running the bases.


Re-Springing Six Steps

Mission: Make a Daily Prompt personal. The details: Re-Springing Your Step. I don’t know if this is the last time I felt rejuvenated, but I’m going to share with you a walk I took with my dog, R.H., last spring. I like walks, almost as much as she does, and I believe this particular one refreshed us both.

I try to walk her often, but our treks usually take us around the same neighborhoods and parks close to our home. Last spring I decided to take 20140306_151817her into the city, for a stroll around downtown, for her to smell new scents and me to see different sights. This was our first long walk of the year, after being cooped up in the house for much of the winter. I parked near Main Street and we headed first for a small park within the downtown district.

She of course stopped first to smell the base of a trash can, which could only mean that some other dog recently mistook it for a fire hydrant. But I let her see if it was anyone she recognized, and then we headed for the creek that runs through the park and beyond.

She loves water, and will get in the lake often when we are at the dog park close 20140306_151611to our house. So she quickly spotted the creek and pulled me in that direction. The sun glistened off the surface, and I was grateful to see no trash floating by this time around. I had to let her dip her paws at least once.20140306_151635


R.H. is a mutt, something plus laborador, so I’m told she should love water. But she won’t swim at the dog park, only walk in the water, drink it, sink her tennis ball in it, and occasionally relieve herself in it. But she must love the feel of the water on her feet, as she loves to traipse through the larger creek just a block away from home, as well. I can’t blame her at all.

From there we headed toward the college campus, and across the street from it past a favorite local lunch and dinner spot for my wife and I. I hadn’t planned on stopping for any reason (they don’t serve canines!), but R.H. stopped, right at the gate, and stared at the door. Of all the places to stop and gawk, why this one? It must have smelled as good to her as it does to us.


By this time we were headed back toward the car, but still had a long way to go to get there, so I guess she was getting hungry. Since I didn’t take her into the last place, she stopped and stared in the window of another a little bit later.20140306_153222 Undeterred by her apparent desire to stop for a sandwich, I took us across Main Street again for a little longer journey, still.

While this shot isn't framed very well, it does show a pretty happy dog!

While this shot isn’t framed very well, it does show a pretty happy dog!



As the sun began to dip behind our small city’s tallest buildings, it began to be clear that we were both wearing out, and the walk back to the car was the new agenda.



I cannot speak for her, but our first long walk on a beautiful spring day made me feel fantastic. The holiday season at work drains me of nearly every ounce of energy I have, and it is followed by the bitter and nasty Midwest winter that leaves little inspiration to go outside at all. This was a walk we had never before taken together, and the new adventure paired with the familiar exercise make me feel like the year had just begun anew. In total, six steps were re-sprung–her feet as well as mine.

Oak Ridge Cemetery

Paying Respects to Abraham Lincoln

I attempted today to write to a separate category, for my dream reader, on the subject of one of the travels I have taken. It became a much more daunting task than I expected, and I found myself trying to decipher a new form of web design instead of writing. So here I refocus the attempt into one aspect of last summer’s road trip: My walk through the tomb of a tremendous American president.

Obelisk rising into sky.

The obelisk atop the tomb, from the west side.

So, reader, rather than inspire you to visit Springfield, Illinois, by blandly retracing my own steps through it and sharing information that you can easily find elsewhere on the web, I call out to you my most endearing moment of the trip, and let that alone stand as reason to see the town.



So reads the sign between the parking lot and Lincoln’s tomb. Tourist attraction, yes, but it is also a final resting place–of an entire family–among the final resting places of many other souls nearby, and deserved of quiet observation. Not play; not cell phone calls. Silence and respect. That is before you even go inside.

There is a bronze bust outside that begs you to take a moment for a lucky rub of the nose, a photo op that cannot be missed. But once inside, selfies should cease. Our cameras clicked away only at the many sculpture originals and reproductions that ring the corridors of the monument, and took a solemn image at the family crypt and the grave of the President.


During a 2010 vacation in our nation’s capital, we took a walking tour along the route of the investigation immediately following Lincoln’s assassination. For me, it was one of the highlights of our whole vacation. But after that experience of the plot to end his life, and my reading the events of his final weeks in Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln last year, our first two days in Springfield were about getting to know the man that he was. Doing so brought a feeling of attachment; a personal connection to an enormous historical figure. By the time we reached the Lincoln Tomb, silence and respect were not a problem.


One corner of the inner corridor. A replica of Chicago’s Lincoln Park statue, and Lincoln “The Circuit Rider,” original to tomb.

Each of the sculptures inside had a title and, if reproduced, a location of the original. His likeness is represented well across the country, and even in Westminster Abbey. Just inside the entrance is a small-scale version of the seated president we saw years earlier on the National Mall in DC. The others depict his many occupations in life, from circuit rider and lawyer, to militia man, debater, and legislator. In the center of the monument sits the vault containing Mary, Tad, Willie and Eddie, and a marker honoring Robert, who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Across from the four lies the grave of Abraham Lincoln, and it couldn’t be more fitting in its glory.

Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

Lincoln’s grave.

There are stories about how many times the President’s sarcophagus was opened–mostly to verify that he was actually inside it–and that he was embalmed multiple times. Finally he was placed 10 feet below the ground, encased in wire and cement, never to be touched again. You are allowed no closer than ten feet away from the base of his marble marker. But even at this distance, I felt close. I paid my respects. Rest in peace, Mr. President.

Today, you are my dream reader.