Sportsmanlike Conduct

Matthew is happiest at the ballpark

 

My son is a huge sports fan. I’m talking about living, breathing, touching, feeling and every other sense and emotion out there. Matthew starts his day checking the scores from the previous evening, spends much of his free time shooting hoops or throwing a baseball in our backyard and likes to watch his favourite teams play well into the night, every night.

I guess you can say that my dream came true. I have loved playing, following and watching sports since I was a child. I grew up on a quiet street and played ball hockey and baseball with the boys, I collected and traded baseball cards and I religiously listened to Tom and Jerry on CJCL AM 1430 radio (today the Jays can be heard on Sportsnet the Fan 590) as I did my homework every night.

I had my aha moment in grade 11 chemistry (yes the same class though not the same day that I created Kinetic Man) when I suddenly realized that I wasn’t bright or ambitious enough to go to medical school but instead wanted to be a journalist. Oh and not just a journalist but a sports journalist. Everyone, and I mean everyone, laughed at me.

It took me a few years to get back on track, but I took the first step in graduate school when I interned at ABC Sports Radio, in my final semester of journalism school at New York University. With a small production staff I had a quick learning curve, and it all culminated in the fall of 2000 when New York City hosted the famous Subway World Series – Yankees vs Mets. ABC handed me the ball one night and I handled the reporting duties, on the field at Shea stadium!

When I returned to Toronto the following year some great people took a chance on me and hired me to be a producer at the short-lived Team Sports Radio Network. Then I got an opportunity to join the Assignment Desk at Rogers Sportsnet, working with some of the greatest names in sports media. Many of those talented journalists are still at Sportsnet today or have moved on to other careers in sports media in Canada, and I want to thank all of them for teaching me so much about sports and sportsmanlike conduct.

So it thrills me that my son loves sports. Matthew loves baseball and basketball most and can’t bear to miss a game. Hockey is close behind. He lives for the Blue Jays, Raptors and Leafs (I’m a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes but that story is for another day) and he will support really any team if it’s home base is in Canada. Sometimes he takes the term “fan” to the level of “fanatic,” like when he insists that he watch the last quarter of the Raptor game in the car on my phone or he must watch the Jays game in full at 10:00 pm when they are on the west coast.

A child looking at the baseball diamond in awe
Matthew looks on in awe at the ballpark
Mom and son selfies at the Jays game
Selfie at the Jays game last year

Matthew loves sports so much that if none of his preferred sports are on TV he will choose almost anything, just to get his sports fix in. Maybe some of you love it, but I can’t bear to watch darts, poker or bowling. I draw the line at entertainment that involves throwing sharp objects at a board with people cheering them on.

Sporting the number 17 jersey playing basketball
Note his jersey number – that’s right, 17!
Defending on the basketball court
He takes pride in his basketball defensive skills on his school team

My husband doesn’t care much for sports, so it brings me a smile every day that I found my sports partner in life in my son. Matthew loves my encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and its many rules, and we literally can sit together for hours discussing the many nuances of the game.

showing off his baseball bat
Matthew has joined his school’s softball team
getting ready to swing the bat
Matthew’s first at bat of the season with his school’s baseball team

Matthew asked for one thing for his birthday this year – a trip with me, his mother, to Chicago this summer, to watch his beloved Blue Jays play the Cubs. Our flight has been booked, the hotel is reserved and we have a pair of tickets to the Jays at Cubs game on Friday afternoon, August 18. As a bonus, Toronto’s MLS soccer club is in Chicago that same weekend and we have scored a pair of tickets to the Toronto FC at Chicago Fire game on Saturday night, August 19. Now that’s a perfect mother and son weekend.

Overwhelmed on a Tuesday

 

Today I am feeling overwhelmed, and I’m having trouble staying focused. The main issue that’s keeping me from accomplishing my long list of tasks is the news from Manchester from Monday evening. Beyond the horrifying thought that someone would blow himself up, intentionally, in a crowd of people, what makes me feel particularly sickened is that he chose to kill children. The people of Manchester, my family in Manchester, and those families in Manchester who are suffering today are all on my mind.

I’m also suffering from the post long weekend blahs. It seems that every time we add an extra day to the weekend I need an additional day to get back on track. The kids got off to school late this morning, the baby and I were slow to get dressed, there are still dirty breakfast dishes in the kitchen sink and I only arrived at the grocery store after noon.

What also is causing me to be overwhelmed on a Tuesday is that I am falling into the trap of reading too many websites and blogs about how to blog, how to create the best blog, how to optimize my SEO settings, what tags I should include in each post or the best keyword strategy. As I stated in my first post, I’m new to this. I have so much to learn, so much so that it overwhelms me on a Tuesday and I can’t move forward.

Instead of becoming increasingly frustrated I am going to take a step back today and turn my attention away from the “how to” websites on “how to create the best blog.” I am going to think about the great city of Manchester and the great people who live there who have opened up their homes to many scared and helpless youth and children who did nothing wrong except go out for a night of music.

I will raise a cup of coffee (I’m in no shape for wine today) to the great citizens of Manchester (thanks to my Mancunian cousins Sarah and Jacob who provided my featured image today) who will persevere and won’t let terrorists ever terrorize them.

Could I Create Victoria’s Garden?

lawn

Victoria Day and the long weekend that goes with it is marked annually as Canada’s unofficial launch of the summer season. This holiday goes all the way back to 1845, when Queen Victoria actually sat on the British throne and celebrated her birthday on May 24, and Canadians have embraced it for over 150 years.

Canadians celebrate this long weekend in various ways: they open the summer cottage, enjoy fireworks, catch up on some overdue spring cleaning and spruce up the garden and lawn.

I love to garden, or to put it another way, I love the idea of gardening. I do not naturally have a green thumb, and I worked hard to create a simple garden with greenery, a nice lawn and a punch of colour in our first home, one we lived in and enjoyed for almost 12 years.

We have lived in our current home for three years and it’s been a struggle to create a functioning front lawn. We are lucky to have a large, spacious, flat lot in the heart of the city, but with that comes tremendous maintenance.

Our biggest challenge is the front lawn, the first impression zone of any property. When we moved in in June 2014 the front yard was in bad shape. We inherited a balding lawn covered in weeds sitting in front of an overgrown garden with half dead bushes.

What a patch of the front yard looked like when we moved in three years ago

Over the last couple of years I have cleaned up the garden beds, removed years of dead leaves and brought the small bushes back to life. However, I didn’t do much with the grass patch, thinking always that maybe some miracle would happen and that each spring a thick healthy patch of grass would grow.

Boy was I wrong. Last year weeds and clover took over, and this spring an army of grubs moved in. An alert went out to the neighbourhood raccoons who heard there was a buffet of grubs at our house, and they attacked what was left of our front lawn.

Neighbours and dog walkers would shake their heads and remark how pathetic our small front lawn looked. I had to do something. After calling a few lawn and garden businesses I chose one that had a great name (Gardenzilla), they were friendly, had good reviews and quoted a fair price to aerate the soil, get rid of the grubs and put nemotodes in to keep the raccoons away and put down fresh grass seed.

We have been watering diligently, and green is starting to return as the grass begins to grow. But the daily alert to the neighbourhood raccoons still goes out. Most mornings I can still see a piece of the new lawn scratched at and turned over. Maybe we need more nemotodes. Or we need to install a scarecrow. Maybe these intelligent raccoons will learn to read and I will put a big sign up on my lawn that says “keep out.”

What a patch of the front yard looks like today

I dream of a soft, thick green front lawn, and I will keep seeding, treating and watering the grass until one day that miracle will happen. If you have any ideas or simple suggestions about how to help my lawn go green post a comment here or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

Growing Old Gracefully

old

I am scared to get old. Old age is still years away, but it’s something that’s on my mind quite often. I’m not talking about retirement, grandchildren and winters in Florida. When I think about old age I think about frailty, illness and nursing homes.

Why should someone my age (I don’t hide my age – I’m 40 years old) be concerned about old age? Shouldn’t I take joy in my young family, my career ambitions and great friends? Well of course that’s where I focus most of my attention, and every day I am grateful for the life I feel privileged to lead.

But it’s still there – that nagging reminder that someday I may be old. I grew up in a large close family, and all four of my grandparents played a big role in making me who I am today. My Bubby, who had a heart of gold and kindness and love seemed to emanate from every part of her, died at the age of 72. I was only 19 at the time and was still too young to understand what old age was. My other three grandparents lived to be old, and one of them, my Poppy, is 96 years old.

Poppy has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I was a child and I love him dearly. Poppy has aged gracefully and has overcome tremendous challenges with his health. He is a colon cancer survivor, lives with angina and over the past few years has developed dementia. This is a man who was a practicing Chartered Professional Accountant well into his eighties, golfed and skied for decades and traveled the world.

Baby Matthew playing on the floor with Poppy
Julia loves to have snuggles with Poppy
Nessa loves having lunch with her Poppy

My grandparents always told me they chose to live life to the fullest, and I believe they did. But then they grew old, and I mean the cruel side of old age that included frailty and illness.

Last night, while many members of my family were enjoying a long weekend up at our country home north of Toronto my father got a call that his father (my Poppy) was in an ambulance on his way to the emergency room. I won’t go into the details here and I’m happy to say that Poppy is fine, but I could hear the strain and stress in my father’s voice as he spoke with my grandfather’s caregiver about what was going on. My father and sister jumped in the car and drove back to the city to be at Poppy’s side, advocate for him at the hospital and get him back home safely that night.

My Poppy was a strong and charismatic person throughout his whole life, who loved my grandmother with all his heart every day of their 69-year marriage. He was sharp, confident, smart and successful. And now he is frail and depends on his children and a whole host of dedicated and amazing caregivers for everything.

All I could think about last night, as my father raced to the hospital and my grandfather sat on a stretcher in the emergency room, was how scared I am of old age. I hated the idea of my beloved Poppy sitting alone with chest pains in the emergency room and no longer in a position to advocate for himself. Without the dedicated support of his children, grandchildren and caregivers I don’t know what kind of life my Poppy could lead in his old age. And yes, that scares me.

I hope to grow old gracefully, like my Poppy. I hope that life is kind to me, especially old age. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared.

Life is a Leap

Life is a leap of faith. I heard this phrase in a song from the show Strictly Ballroom on Wednesday, the day I launched this blog. My mother and I are long time subscribers of the Mirvish theatre season and love going to see plays together. I sat in the theatre and enjoyed the show after a long, exciting and yet stressful day. Some of the words in the song that close Act 1 struck me and those words were timely:

When you feel you’re flying blind that is when you know you’re fine

Something deep down inside that’s never ever ever crossed your mind

Even though it scares you to lose control

Take a chance and just let it go

 

When you feel it take your breath away

Just keep walking towards it anyway

‘Cause life is a leap of faith

Life is a leap of faith

 

Even though it’s hard to trust let the armour turn to dust

I say I say you must unless you want your heart crushed

Even though it scares you to lose control

Take a chance and just let it go

 

When you feel it take your breath away

Just keep walking towards it anyway

‘Cause life is a leap of faith

Life is a leap of faith.

So the title of this song is actually “Love is a Leap of Faith” and the female lead’s father and grandmother are clearly singing to this woman and the male lead about love. However, I am choosing to interpret the words as something more generic about life, in particular my life right now.

This blog is a leap of faith for me. Yes it kind of scares me, but I’m taking a chance and I am just letting it go. I don’t know where this will take me, but this new journey excites me.

By the way, Strictly Ballroom was a fun play with great music and fabulous dancing. I felt the plot was a bit weak and definitely Act 1 was better than Act 2. It’s worth the ticket and a night out!

What’s in a Number? I have Favourite – do you?

number

Many people have a favourite number, a lucky number or sometimes an unlucky number. Numerology plays a central role in many cultures, with some believed to be inauspicious while others may bring fortune.https://www.thespruce.com/is-number-4-a-bad-feng-shui-number-1274542

For example, the number 4 is associated with bad luck in Chinese culture as the Chinese word for the 4 has a similar sound to the word for death.

Gematria is alphanumeric code in Hebrew, in which letters correspond to numbers. The numerical value of a word can be calculated by adding those numbers together. 18 is lucky in Judaism as 10 and 8 correspond to the Hebrew letters for “chet” and “yud,” which put https://www.thespruce.com/is-number-4-a-bad-feng-shui-number-1274542together spell the word “chai.” That’s the Hebrew word for life.

Sometimes a number or a set of numbers can, because of a single event, tradition or a series of events, be associated with good luck (or bad luck!). There may not be a cultural, religious or historical connection and it’s not always logical.

For me it’s all about 17.

I can’t quite pinpoint when I started to like 17 or why, but since childhood I have liked it and have associated it with happy and coincidental events in my life.

As a teenager, when I became a sports fan, my favourite hockey player was (and still is) #17, Wendel Clark and my favourite baseball player was #17, Kelly Gruber. When my brother played both soccer and hockey his coach handed him the #17 jersey, and I was so proud to see my son wearing the #17 jersey this year when he joined his school’s basketball team.

Over 25 years ago, when my parents built our family’s country home, my mother decided to play Lotto 6/49 just as the 1,100-foot driveway was built. As we were a family of five she needed to add one more number to her list and followed my suggestion to include #17. Well, she got five of the six numbers that night (yes of course 17 was one of them!), and the amount she won covered much of the cost for that driveway (which we later named “Route 6/49”).

This year is 2017, and I launched this blog on the 17th of the month. Somehow, it brings me comfort and a little smile. Do you have a lucky number? Post your comments here, send me an email at kineticmotions17@gmail.com or Tweet at me @AliciaRichler to let me know what number you like.

First Blog Post

job security

Grade eleven chemistry. Most of my attention was focused anywhere except on the lesson at the front of the room. I began to doodle and my pen curved and swirled to create a cartoon character. I looked down at my paper and was pleased with my creation, but he needed a name.

I looked up at the chalkboard, which was covered in mathematics equations and formulas that seemed more like gibberish than my homework. Then I  looked around the classroom, a room which was used for science, chemistry and physics, and the name came to me – Kinetic Man: a man of action.

Since that day, I have been drawing Kinetic Man on birthday cards, chalkboards and notes to family and friends. Drawing Kinetic Man energizes me, he gets me up and gets me moving.

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. While I didn’t realize it that day when I was sixteen years old in high school, doodling on my page and creating this cartoon character, Kinetic Man has inspired me to get in motion and start writing.

For years I have thought about creating an online space to write and voice my thoughts on a number of subjects. The internet is vast, full of countless websites, blogs, publications and pages, and I hope this is a space people will enjoy visiting to read, comment and contribute.

I am going to cover a variety of topics here, including, but not limited to, current events, travel, food and cooking, family and sports (in particular baseball and skiing).

While I have worked in public affairs and communications for many years and had the opportunity to interact with many talented bloggers, writing in this style is new to me. I am truly a novice and have so much to learn. I am excited to take on this challenge and don’t know where it will take me.

I welcome your comments, opinions and advice. Please feel free to share my posts and contact me if you would like to write a post. This is the space that is getting me moving, and I hope it gets you moving too.