Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Little Bit Of Everything - Part II

After a bit of a blog slowdown - I'm back in the swing of things. I posted a few backlogged entries below - enjoy.

Home Sweet Home: I'm originally from Western Massachusetts - Springfield, Massachusetts, to be precise, (home of basketball, Dr. Seuss and Indian Motorcycle - see the photo on the left). So any time I have a chance to head that way for a visit, it means a lot to me. Of course, the real reason for this latest trek up to Springfield? Emma, plain and simple; it was time to see her. I pretty much think about Emma in some way every day and I do my best to call her often. But phone calls are no substitute for a real flesh and blood visit.

When I first arrived, I was happy to see that Emma's doing okay; as well as can be expected for a person fast approaching 100 years of life on earth. Up until a year ago, she was completely independent, living in her own apartment, cooking her own meals. Then, she was hit with a gall bladder infection and things started to shift. Now, even Emma would admit she needs help, which she's now getting at a wonderful place called Heritage Hall in Agawam, Mass. I snapped the shot to the right as Emma napped, bundled up while watching her stories, (soaps - Emma still loves her soaps). As I sat with her, I couldn't help but grab the bible sitting on top of the desk next to her bed - and I read while Emma slept. I read it out loud and, at one point when Emma woke up, she listened and talked with me about what I was reading. That's something I've always enjoyed doing whenever I've spent time with Emma over the years. For those of you who don't know the story, this is the woman who helped to raise me as well as my brother and sister. (See Emma Foote - on the main portion of the site). She's a very special person to me and my family - very special. And a few hours with Emma the other day drove one key point home with me: As soon as I return to Kansas City, I'm planning another visit to Agawam. I know it means a lot to her.

After my morning visit I headed up 91 to Northampton to grab a quick bite with my buddy Bill/Will. A camera within reach on the passenger car seat, I was ready to snap a few photos of the famous New England foliage. Yeah, right. You would figure, two weeks into October, the timing would've been absolutely perfect for such a thing. Unfortunately, 90-degree weather doesn't do much for leaves, in terms of bringing on the color. For crying out loud, the trees probably thought it was still mid-July out there. I think I saw one red tree somewhere around Holyoke. And that was it. I managed to catch one quasi-autumn shot on my approach into Northampton - you see it above. Still, summer weather aside, it was still great to see Bill/Will and Rose. And it was an extra treat to see the Polish heritage parade which made it's way up Main Street as Bill/Will and I ate a late breakfast.

The afternoon meant a return visit with Emma to give her a hug and kiss goodbye, a quick stop at Richard's Grinders - the best sandwiches around - at least in Springfield, that is - and then I was on my way back to the city. Slowly ... on my way back. Traffic, traffic and more traffic. Thinking it would be the quickest way back to NY, I chose to take the 91 to 95 route. Unwise choice. Bumper to bumper on my approach to New Haven, the only thing that kept me sane was the beautiful sunset, which you see here, hovering over the New Haven skyline. Another plus about being stuck in traffic, if there is a plus, the long trip allowed me to listen to the Yankees'/Indians' game on WCBS-NY. It's always a treat to listen to John Sterling and Susan Waldman announcing a Yankee game. I'm kidding, of course. By the time I hit the Henry Hudson, the Yankees were losing - 4 to 0. And it was only the 2nd inning!

I forgot how much fun it is to walk around the city when there's a big NY sporting event going on. There is no need for a TV or radio. Just walk the streets or sit quietly in your apartment with the windows open and you'll know precisely what's going on simply by listening carefully. After returning my Thrifty rental, I weaved my way back to Howard's place, taking in the Upper East Side block by block. Every bar, pub and restaurant had the game on. Screams, moans and groans. Whenever I heard one of those sounds, I poked my head into whatever restaurant I happened to be passing and asked, "What's going on?" And the news wasn't good. For Yankee fans, that is. Howard was actually at the game, so I know he wasn't thrilled being a witness to the Yankees' final 2007 contest.

Back To The Midwest: I grabbed a falafel from around the corner and headed back to Howard's to organize for my return trip. Max watched as I packed so I decided to snap off a few photos of the best cat in the world. Not since I was 7 had I become so attached to a cat. That particular black cat with the white spot was named "Ben Casey" and he used to follow me home from school every day. Like Ben Casey, Max is special. So much so, I'm pretty sure he's a dog. I know, I know. Cat lovers hate to hear that kind of thing.

By the next morning, I had clearly had my fill of New York. Still, I found myself taking a few more photos on my way back to Newark Airport. The Super Shuttle driver ended up choosing a strange route, taking us through the Bronx and then over the GW Bridge via Washington Heights. Who knows? Maybe it was all about my being able to see Yankee Stadium ... the day after. I couldn't help but think this might be the last time I would be seeing this remarkable place. And it is remarkable. The history - My lord. This has absolutely nothing to do with my being a Mets' fan. I'm a baseball fan first. And Yankee Stadium is quite the special place. It's sad to think they're tearing it down.

Progress, I suppose.

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