July will be over before I know it…

I will be heading to Ontario in 3 weeks, for a week-long vacation. It is my 50th birthday in August and I will be spending my birthday in my home province. I am also going to see my Aunt who is 91 years of age and she recently broke her hip. She’s getting out of rehab this week and I want to see her, she has always been my favourite relative. I am really looking forward to the trip.

Flights right now are dirt cheap as well. This really helped with my decision to visit. Normally, I would pay $550 or so for a return flight. This time around, I am paying $222. Dirt cheap… I have a car rental for the week and it is costing me about 3 times what the flight is costing me. I need the rental though, I am going to be traveling all across the province to visit with friend and family that I have not seen in 2 years.

This month will more than likely zoom by. This weekend, I am volunteering at the Sinister Seven race in Crowsnest Pass. Should be fun. No umpiring though, which is OK, I can use a weekend off of that.

Monday, I head to Calgary for 3 days. I booked a hotel ages ago, likely back in November I would guess. It’s the 10th Annual MLB All-Star game dinner with a friend who’s a former co-worker. We get together once a year and catch up and spend the evening not really watching the All-Star game and eating dinner at Boston Pizza. It’s always a great time. I’ve also booked myself into 2 umpiring assignments, Monday and Wednesday. The dogs will be in boarding all week. I will head home on Wednesday after the game and then go back to Calgary on Saturday morning for a double-header and another DH on Sunday. So, next week will fly by.

I am off the following weekend as I could not get the dogs into boarding. I may take a couple of games on either the Saturday or Sunday, I know they need help.

The last weekend of the month, I am umpiring for Baseball Alberta. Two double-headers, 13U and 15U. Hopefully it will be good baseball.

After that, I head to Ontario for 6 days. My time is booked, just about down to the minute. It will be hectic, but fun. I am having a BBQ for my birthday that my brother in law said I could host at his place. Just a handful of friends and some BBQ. I am sure it will be a good time.

So, July will go by in a flash, I am sure. I hope you enjoy yours.

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A relaxing few days…

Yesterday was a pretty relaxing day. I drove a friend to work early in the AM and then went back to bed for a couple of hours at 7am. The hot weather that we had for a week finally broke and the house is back to normal temperatures. Crowsnest Pass hit 36C last Wednesday which is a record high by a few degrees. It was stinking hot, although I have experienced much hotter (and way more humid) in Ontario, I am just not used to it.

It did cool down at night, near single digits, but there was no breeze so the house didn’t cool off like I might like. I wish the house would retain heat like that in the winter. I did not too bad though. I opened the windows and blinds at 9pm or so and kept them open until 930 in the morning. The back door and front door are open at night as well, I am not too worried about security, Blondie and Hera are in the living room and Twix is with me in the bedroom, I highly doubt anyone would try to come in – I do live in the middle of nowhere after all.

Last night we had a make-up game for slo-pitch. It was a cool evening, 15C or so, and thunderstorms. We played in some moderate rain but got both games in. The league needs to put a time limit on games, or something though. We played until about 945pm, too long, I think for 2 games. A 1:15 time limit would be good, then you’re looking at 2.5 hours for a double header. I got a couple of hits and walked a couple of times – the pitches were all over the place, so I took my walks.

I had no fly balls at all to the outfield. That’s OK though, means I don’t have to attempt to catch any… LOL It was fun, we split the games.

Today were are supposed to get some more rain, I think. I would like to take the dogs down to the lake if it isn’t raining – they have such a good time. Otherwise, not much going on, I think it will be a relaxing sort of day, I seem to have those often.

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Great weekend of baseball…

Saturday’s double header of umpiring was some of the best played baseball that I have ever umpired in Babe Ruth.

The trip to Calgary was uneventful, as trips should be. It was partly cloudy with a nice breeze. The first game started at 10am. One of the coaches was a previous player of mine, he’s turned into a great coach. His team was ahead 5-4 going into the bottom of the 7th inning and they were able to shut the door and hold on for the victory. It was a great game, excellent defense, a pitchers duel, really. I was on the plate for the game, didn’t take any foul balls off of the facemask, luckily.

In the second game, I moved to the bases. It was a team where the coaches seem to whine about absolutely everything. They are a very young coaching staff though, early to mid 20s and it appears that they think every call is something against them, personally. They are a good group, except for this – I presume it will improve, as they get older, but who knows. Whiners, that’s how I know them, anyway.

We were off of the diamond by 3pm. It had gotten warm, but nowhere near as hot as it was last week. It was a pleasant day for baseball for sure.

I headed to my motel in the NW part of the city. I am quite happy with the find. From the outside, you wouldn’t think much of it, a non-descript two story motel. Once you’re in the room, it’s a haven. Comfortable beds (the most comfortable that I have ever had in a hotel), really nice bathrooms and water pressure in the shower that is amazing. The price is great as well, around $70 after taxes.

I had dinner at Denny’s. Excellent food, good prices as well. I stopped by Optimist and watched most of the game that was being played, it was great baseball as well – good to see.

We had rain overnight, no idea how much rain since I sleep like the dead. I headed to the diamond around 6am to see what the field was like. The gate was closed so I walked in. I checked it out from the outfield fence and it looked fine. I could not see that there was standing water at home plate though. At 715am, the city web site reported that the park was open. It would be a perfect day for baseball – cool and cloudy, I was looking forward to it.

At around 815, I got a text from the President of Babe Ruth that the park was closed – I was surprised. If the city had worked the diamond, I am sure it would have been playable, but, we all know how city workers can be. Since the diamond was closed for the 10am game, it meant it was automatically closed for the 1pm game as well and they’d re-examine it at that time to see if the later games would be played.

I was at a friends for breakfast, it was good to catch-up. I headed home around 930am with a stop in Okotoks at Costco for gas. I didn’t go in, didn’t really need anything and didn’t want to spend any money for no real reason. It was a great ride home.

There was an accident on Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass so that delayed me by a few minutes. Traffic was backed up and the detour through one of the towns was slow, but, thankfully it was available as there isn’t often a way around accidents.

I had a quiet afternoon as the dogs were still in boarding. I picked them up about 630 and watched TV on Sunday evening. The end of a pretty good weekend.

Back to Monday now. I hope you have a good week.

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Back to the diamond…

The heat wave in Alberta is finally over, I think. It’s quite comfortable right now and the forecast calls for more reasonable weather. Thankfully.

I am heading to Calgary this morning to umpire a double-header today and one is also scheduled for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s games are in doubt though, Calgary is calling for rain and quite a bit of it – we will see, weather forecasts change pretty quickly. One thing I learned when I moved to Alberta, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.

I am hoping that I can go through a couple of baseball games without being beaten by the baseball. Typically, I might get hit in the face a time or two over an entire season, not in back to back games.

Today it is supposed to be in the mid 20s and cloudy, so it sounds like perfect conditions for baseball. I also only have to do one plate today, as opposed to both plates last week – that will be nice.

No plans for the evening. I think I will order a pizza and take it easy. If the weather is bad tomorrow, I will head home and get the dogs early.

I have next weekend off of umpiring as I am volunteering with the Sinister 7 Race here in the Pass. It’s a backcountry race, should be fun. Lots going on in July, the month will fly by I am sure and then I have my trip to Ontario that I am looking forward to.

For any Americans reading my blog, Happy 4th of July tomorrow – hope you have a great weekend.

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Heat, slo-pitch, Covid and the All-Star Game…

Yesterday was a pretty slow Canada Day for me. It meant the end of the restrictions, masks and various ridiculous rules that have been around for months (16, 17 months) due to Covid. Alberta is the first province to remove all restrictions, finally.

I was going to watch the Jays game, decided on a nap instead and nearly 3 hours later I woke up. Didn’t affect my sleeping last night either, I must have needed it, maybe it’s all this heat at the moment.

I went to the Market yesterday, picked up 2 key lime pies that I ordered. They were different from what I have had before, but they are excellent. It was nice to see so many faces at the market. There were still a few people who were wearing masks for whatever reason, and I am sure there will be for some time, if not permanently. The media and government have pushed an agenda of fear during this entire thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I know it was real and people unfortunately died. Now, I don’t, for a second think that as many people died as were reported, I am sure a lot of those people died WITH Covid, not from Covid. I am just glad it is behind us now.

My home province of Ontario is way behind Alberta in opening back up. I am hopeful that things will be back to normal by the time that I visit in just over a month. Right now, I have lunches and dinners scheduled with friends and family and want to be able to have all of those, preferably inside. Time will tell, won’t it?

I thought that I had a slo-pitch game last night. I left the house at 6pm, not really looking forward to playing slo-pitch in 33C heat. I got to the diamond and the road to the diamond was locked up, so I guess no slo-pitch, fine with me. I returned home and made dinner, BBQ steak and a Caesar salad, followed by a slice of the key lime pie.

I watched the Rockies walk-off win their game against St. Louis. It was a nice win. The Rockies are hot at home, it’s unfortunate that they cannot play on the road.

It’s almost the half-way point to the season, the All-Star Game. I will be sort of watching, while having dinner with my friend in Calgary, it’s the 10th Annual MLB All-Star dinner. The tradition started way back when my friend from Ontario was in Alberta and the 3 of us went for dinner. We haven’t worked together for 7 or 8 years now, but we meet once a year, have dinner and catch up. It’s always a great evening. I planned a mini-vacation around it, so I am staying in Calgary for a couple of days. I might, stress, might, go to the Calgary Stampede while in Calgary, but we’ll see. I got a great rate on my hotel as I booked it months and months ago. I know it will be a good couple of days.

So, to everyone in Alberta, nice that we can see each others faces again. Well, not that I wore a mask too often anyway, just when forced to at Costco pretty well. Nice to be back to normal again anyway. I hope the rest of the country catches up soon.

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Moore’s can go to hell…

As readers know, I returned to the world of umpiring this summer. I had to buy a couple of pair of grey pants for umpiring, so, a few weeks ago, I made a trip to Lethbridge to Moore’s to get some gray dress pants. I do have plate pants on order, they should hopefully arrive next week.

I used the pants over the Father’s Day weekend, they worked, not quite enough room in the legs for the shin pads, but they did what they needed to do.

This past weekend, I put on my pants and then dropped something, so I bent over to pick it up – rip… Right in the ass of the pants. Oh, how nice. The zipper broke as well, a double whammy.

So, I put on the second pair, all was good.

I returned to Lethbridge yesterday. I made my customary stop at Costco for gas and a few items and then zipped over to Moore’s. I brought my pants in and the sales guy said “we can’t fix these” – oh really, Einstein? No, of course you can’t, they ripped right along the seam, there was obviously an issue when they were made. I pointed out that the zipper was also broken.

He asked what I wanted to do – I was a little dumbfounded… I would like to get a new pair. He said he can’t do anything as I washed them and, pointing to the label, he said they were dry clean only.

Well, I didn’t know they were dry clean only. Now, when I bought them, I didn’t ask for “machine wash” but I honestly didn’t think about it. I have never purchased a pair of pants that requires dry cleaning, I would not, especially with pants that I am using to umpire with.

So, I threw the pants on the count, told him that was bullshit and that I would never buy any crap from Moore’s again, and I won’t. I could care less if I washed them (5% wool is why they were dry clean only, apparently). Awful customer service this time around by a punk kid at Moore’s.

Well, Moore’s, you and your cheap-assed clothes, and your shitty sales people, can all go to hell.

Thanks. 🙂

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That’s a warm one…

We are in the middle of a heat wave in Alberta. They seem to be happening more and more often. Calgary is going to see temperatures in the upper 30s this week, which, for any Americans, is the upper 90s / low 100s… Unusually hot for Alberta. Thankfully, it is not humid.

It is even really hot in the mountains where I live which is rather unusual. It was 34C yesterday, supposed to be slightly hotter the next few days.

The house isn’t horrible, at least it cools down at night. As of this writing, it is 12C, welcome relief from the heat and it gives the house a chance to cool down. At about 930am or so, I close up the windows, close the blinds and curtains and try my best to keep the hot outside. Hera isn’t particularly impressed with the hot temps, I can’t blame her, she does wear a full fur coat after all.

To tell the honest truth, I prefer winter temperatures over this stuff. Maybe if I had AC it would change my mind. It is easier to put layers on and snuggle up on the couch, rather than take layers off and swelter. Plus, if I walk around outside in a bathing suit, people will complain – that I am sure of.

Temperatures will drop to more normal levels by the weekend by the looks of it. Good thing, I am umpiring two double-headers on Saturday and Sunday. Wearing all that gear in the heat is a good way to lose some pounds, that’s for sure.

Try to keep it cool.

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Play Ball !!!

I headed for Calgary shortly before 7am on Saturday to umpire for the weekend. It was a non-eventful trip, the sort of trip that you expect. Eventful might typically means something goes wrong, we don’t want that.

I was umpiring with a new partner. We started on time, weather conditions were warm, but there was a nice breeze. It was a pretty decent game. I took a hit off of the facemask, something that doesn’t happen all too often.

The game ended in the bottom of the sixth inning on an ejection of a player from the home team, who were behind in the game.

The player apparently didn’t like my strike two call, which he looked at. On the called third strike, which, by the way was belt high and right down the middle, he complained to me about the strike 2 call. He chirped, I allow that, get it out, I am tough, I can take it.

He continued for a moment, I asked him to return to his dugout, which he did, chirping on the way. Then, for whatever reason, he swore at me, so I had no choice but to toss him. I don’t eject players too often, in fact, he’s only the 2nd or 3rd player ejection that I have ever made.

Well, the team did not have any subs for this player, so the game ended. Didn’t really matter, he was the second out, the time limit had expired and the home team was down by 6 runs or so. After I called the game, I heard a few more chirps from parents, telling me I need to know the rules – sure, parents, you’re the experts.

I returned to my truck to sit in the AC, we had 30 minutes until the next game. I had to do back-to-back plates as my partner wasn’t ready to do a plate at this level. As it turns out, maybe I wasn’t either.

In the bottom of the first inning, I took another shot off the face mask. I will admit that I have not umpired in the last 3 years and I am out of practice. As the pitch was fouled, I slightly turned my head, which is human nature and I took the ball off of the side of my mask which then slammed into my shoulder. Thankfully, I wear a catcher style one piece helmet, otherwise I would be dealing with a broken jaw, I am sure.

It hurt. I ripped the mask off and swore, something I normally don’t do when I am umpiring (the swearing, I mean). I took a few minutes to collect myself, apologized to the fans for swearing and returned to my position behind the plate.

A few pitches later, I started to feel woozy. On the 1-2 count, I was unable to show the count on my fingers, I knew something was up. When another ball was thrown, making the count 2-2, I felt sick to my stomach and called time. I stepped away from the plate and took a knee.

My partner ran in from the field, as well as some of the coaches to ensure I was ok, I wasn’t. I was escorted off of the field to sit in the shade of the dugout. I was given a wet towel to put on my neck and an icepack for my head and face. Someone, for some reason (overly cautious, I am sure) called an ambulance.

Over the next hour, while we waited for the ambulance, I started to feel better. The President of Babe Ruth was called, he made the decision in this case to suspend the game as there was only one umpire and the game had already been delayed for an hour. It turns out that the ambulance came from south of High River, so it took them that long to get to the diamond, they are stationed out of Vulcan, Alberta. Unbelievable that they had to come from so far, looks like our health system needs some updates somewhere.

They looked me over, I was answering questions, my heart rate and blood pressure were fine, eyes were fine, they asked if I wanted to go to a hospital – I declined. One, I felt OK at this point and two, if I had gone to the hospital, I would have been there for hours and hours, they were going to take me to Airdrie, north of Calgary, getting back to my truck would have been a pain in the ass. The paramedics were great, asked me a bunch of questions and ensured I was good.

The team from Olds that helped me out had left by the time I was done in the ambulance. I wanted to thank the parents who helped out, it was much appreciated. I felt bad that the kids didn’t get their game in. I come from 250km away to umpire, I am not doing this for the money, I lose money every time I umpire, I do it because I love baseball, love umpiring and like working with the players and coaches – baseball has been part of my life since my late teens, that doesn’t go away.

I spoke with the President of the League and the Supervisor of Umpires, it was decided, sort of for me, that I would not umpire on Sunday. They could cover off my games easy enough.

The motel I stayed at in Calgary was awesome. I booked a place that didn’t look like much from the outside, a typical 2-level motel. The room was excellent, almost luxurious. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever had in a motel room and the bathroom was spa-like. Unbelievable water pressure in the shower, blew me away. I went for dinner to Denny’s, was totally full ($50 later as well). I went to bed very early, just after 7pm. The AC in the room was great, slept very comfortably, until just after 1230. I typically sleep about 5 hours, well, that was more than 5 hours.

I spent some time watching TV and chatting with a friend online. Around 230am, I went out to 7/11 for a Big Gulp. I had a shower and planned on leaving around 5am for home, I ended up leaving right around 4 and made great time home.

Yesterday was a relaxing day for the most part. I picked up the dogs at 10am from boarding and stayed in most of the day, it was too hot to do much outside. We are in the middle of a heat wave, rare for the mountains.

Other than my jaw since being a bit sore, I am back to normal. I head back for another double-header this coming weekend. I will endeavor to NOT turn my head, it’s a habit I need to get back into.

Play Ball !!!

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Baseball and Hera

Both my plate shoes and base shoes arrived yesterday. I ordered them the previous week, they shipped from Mississauga. For some reason, they used UPS which I don’t like. It took them over a week to arrive. UPS’s tracking information sucks. I prefer Purolator, they update tracking at every stop. I digress.

Anyway, so I now have proper plate shoes and good base shoes. Both are made by New Balance and are very comfortable, well, once they get broken in anyway. I will be able to break them in this weekend. I am doing two double-headers, Saturday and Sunday.

It’s going to be a warm weekend. Upper 20’s both days. I am going for dinner with friends on Saturday night, so I have booked a cheap motel room. I don’t want to go out for dinner after umpiring 2 games without having a shower, how nice of me, eh?

The dogs are booked in with my friends, so they’ll be good, and I will pick them up on my way home Sunday night.

Speaking of dogs, Hera is booked for potential surgery. We still need to do x-rays / MRI to verify, 100% what is wrong, but it is looking more and more like surgery will be needed. It’s booked for late August, after I return from Ontario. I am not going to get it done and then have to go to Ontario, leaving a crippled dog behind for someone else to care for, that would not be fair to Hera, nor my friends.

She isn’t limping too badly right now, so, I am still sort of hopeful that it was/is a bad strain, but we will see.

I got my vet to send a prescription for pain meds to the local vet here in the Pass. A 2 month supply was $140, so not too bad. I don’t want her to be in pain anyway, that’s for sure.

Well, it’s Friday, that means the weekend is here. Enjoy. I will have fun on the baseball diamonds in Calgary.

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Wednesday is cleaning day…

Wednesday was cleaning day. Now, this doesn’t mean that I was cleaning, no. My cleaning lady was in. 🙂 Wednesday’s are also the day that the dogs go to doggie day care. They love the interaction with the other dogs and they come home exhausted and happy. Hera didn’t go, I didn’t want her to over-stress her leg/knee. She doesn’t understand this, of course.

Blondie and Twix happily jumped on the bus (the dogs are picked up and dropped off) while I was holding Hera’s collar, if there was ever a sad dog, it was then. I took Hera for a walk, I was initially going to take her down what’s called Miner’s Path, but when I started to walk in that direction, she wanted nothing of it, she wanted to go for a car ride.

So, into the Beast we go and head out to one of our regular walking spots. I think Hera would be perfectly happy being an only dog. She seems to have a great time with just me, no sisters around to steal possible attention.

I had a great nap, although Hera wouldn’t join me. Blondie and Twix got home and were happy and tired.

I watched the Rockies who won, on the road for, what, the 4th, perhaps 5th time of the season. It was against Seattle, so I am not sure if it really counts. They held on for a 3-1 win, I think it was. Good game anyway. Right as soon as that ended, the Astros game started in Baltimore. It was a drubbing, with the Astros winning 13-0. The Astros are hot right now, that was their 10th straight.

It’s almost time for the MLB All-Star game, it’s July 13 which also means it’s my annual MLB All-Star game dinner with my friend that I see once a year on this day. This will be the 10th annual dinner, it’s a great tradition. We stopped working together, 7 years ago, at least, and we catch up, once a year. We go to Boston Pizza, always good food and it’s a good price as well. I will be in Calgary for a few days, a mini-vacation. It will be a great time, I am sure.

Yesterday evening we had rain and thundershowers. We are getting that again all day today, so I doubt that slo-pitch will be a go tonight. One good thing to note is that Hera no longer appears to be afraid of thunder. She used to climb up on the couch beside me when it was thundering, no more. She’s such a brave girl.

Today is market day and the first market that is outside. Of course it is supposed to rain all day, why wouldn’t it. I have ordered a couple of key lime pies, I haven’t had one in ages, so that will be great.

Enjoy Thursday, it’s almost the weekend.

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