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OK, so, admittedly, it’s been awhile* since I last blogged: Just under 5 months, if anyone’s counting (and Jane, I KNOW you are) — and I do not have a good excuse for going so long between posts … although I do have a pretty damn good reason for not paying all that much attention to my bloggie in recent months … plus I know, in my heart of hearts, that anyone who truly needs A Daily Dose of Di usually knows where to find me, online and otherwise.

Anyhoo, I could not let today’s awesome yet ultimately heartbreaking men’s championship match between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick go by without reminiscing about and even celebrating the 10-year anniversary of when I had a childhood dream come true and got to go to the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. (My ACTUAL childhood dream involved playing a point on Centre Court, while one of my, uhm, adult fantasies involves making out there. Neither of those occurred during my 1999 trip to Wimbledon, of course, but I did get to see Pete Sampras and Venus Williams play matches on Centre Court.)

Not saying I would have been able to play a point there, either, because before I even left the United States — in fact, just as I boarded the Metra in a South Side suburb of Chicago to begin the second leg of the journey (the one that would take us Downtown to catch a cab to O’Hare) — I suffered a horrible ankle sprain, thanks to a lame-brain conductor who insisted I move from one mostly empty train car into another mostly empty train car. While I was still standing in the inclined aisle of the mostly empty train car I was already in, the train began moving, and as it lurched forward, I staggered and my right ankle rolled completely over and all kinds of pain ensued. But, what the heck: Who needs two good ankles for activities like running through airports or walking through the grounds of Wimbledon or leisurely strolling through London and Paris?

However, the incident made for some funny stories, later, and gave me ample opportunities  to show off my spot-on British accent whilst telling them, so it was not an entirely bad thing.

What do I remember most about Wimbledon?

  • Seeing Anna Kournikova making her way toward the practice courts just as our bus dropped us off.
  • Watching Steffi Graf practicing on an outer court.
  • Laughing as Martina Hingis, whom I believe was the No. 1 seed, lost in the first round on Court 1. (I had gotten tickets for that court off some guy I found on the Internet. I will admit, it was a little scary: I sent him some money and he said he would send the tickets, known as Debentures, to the hotel where I was staying — and when I arrived at the Henley House Hotel, the tickets were actually there!)
  • Marveling over how small Centre Court looked when Pete Sampras played on it. (I swear, he served the ball and got to the net in, like, 2 steps!)

Mostly, I just remember wandering around the outer courts and noticing how everything was so GREEN — from the grass courts to the overall color scheme of the tennis facility. And I recall smiling over how much bigger Centre Court was than it looks on television … and also how much bigger it was than the lawn of the house I grew up in, where Debra and I and various neighorhood kids played badminton rather than tennis but still referred to our ongoing tournaments each summer as Wimbledon.

———

I never thought Andy Roddick would make it to another Grand Slam final, let alone put up such an incredible fight before going down 16-14 in the 5th set of Wimbledon.

I admit: I gave up on Roddick years ago. He always struck me as sort of a one-shot wonder: Big serve, no real game to back it up. Too slow. Too inconsistent. Not enough heart. True, he has a U.S. Open title to his credit, but that was WAY BACK in 2003 (seems SO long ago, doesn’t it?), and although he’s had a couple of chances to play for a Wimbledon title before, once those opportunities came and went, I never, ever thought he’d get another chance to play for the championship, let alone win it.

And it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that he won’t ever win Wimbledon. But, wow: He gave it everything he had today, and I found myself not only hoping but also believing that he would win the match. And when it was over, I found myself feeling so, so bad for him — yet I was also so thankful I got to see the effort he put in because that, to me, is what sports in general and tennis in particular are all about: Playing your best and giving it your all, win or lose.

He reaffirmed my faith that, indeed, anything is possible. In fact, everything is.

Believe it!

———

* — After using the phrase “it’s been awhile,” I am, OF COURSE, reminded of the song by the same name by Staind … and my favorite line: “And it’s been awhile / but I can still remember just the way you taste.”

Does that ever happen, really?

I don’t think so. I, for example, would undoubtedly be better about — and perhaps even caught up with — blogging if I were able to blog something every time I think about blogging it. But then again, with today’s technological advances, not to mention the amount of time a day I spend sitting at a computer, I probably actually could blog anything and everything I ever wanted, the very second it crosses my mind.

However, I will never be that organized. Nor that committed. I mean: Gimme a break!

So, here are a few shots I have taken over the last, oh, 3 weeks or so … in no particular order … as usual!

This was taken yesterday on my way back from Akin Grade School. I had to snap it because of the haystacks/bales and the telephone poles and the water tower and the truck. Plus it reminds me of Jane and Ray.

Those shots were from our quick trip to Chicago, during which it was basically too cold to walk anywhere — except for a short jaunt down 2 or 3 blocks of Michigan Avenue on Saturday … and we did manage to mosey over to the big Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.

On Thanksgiving Day, Diane and I stopped at the Goat Tower en route to The Ville. She had read about the tower in American Profile: Apparently, a Shelby County farmer built it for his goats, which are from Saanen, Switzerland — where, apparently, the terrain is rather mountainous. (I have no idea if that’s true or not, but … well, it must be, no?)

Apparently, mountain goats the relocate to the flatlands of Illinois don’t mind relaxing on the decidedly un-mountainous terrain!

Later in the day, we relaxed in the recliners in front of my parents’ new doors, watching a little bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I posted this on another site as “Joey and Chandler” (like the Friends characters), but I have now decided maybe we’re more like “Alan and Denny” (as in “Shore” and “Crane” from Boston Legal, which I already miss more than I ever imagined possible).

Except for the scotch. And the cigars.

After dinner came the best part of the day (next to the pumpkin pie, of course!): Christmas crafts, courtesy of mi madre. From left are Aunt Janie, Diane, Delra, Di and Mom. We made Christmas trees, gingerbread men (complete with rolling pins!) and tiny bell angels.

I have the cutest cat in the entire world.

Which is kind of funny because — and I may have mentioned this earlier — the first time I saw her, I thought she was the strangest-looking cat I’d ever seen in my entire life.

I’ll post some pictures of her helping me decorate our Christmas tree and wrap presents … eventually. Maybe. Unless I get busy doing something else.

I’m not an alcoholic, but earlier this week, this part of “The Serenity Prayer” helped calm me down a little bit:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I will admit I have been rather concerned about The Lovely and her grandkids, who also happen to be my godkids. Part of me knows that, to quote Shawn Mullins, “everything’s gonna be all right,” but there are no certainties in this life, really, and so, when upheaval strikes, sometimes I find myself trying to tune out everything in hopes of finding the answer somewhere within.

Doesn’t always work, and sometimes I, like most people, find that being inside my head can be a dangerous place.

And sometimes not!

Anyway, a few minutes ago I crawled into bed, covered up, and almost immediately had a memory of Kameron from the first time we took him to Key West. He was walking then, but he wasn’t quite a year old, and every night around 8 o’clock or so, he would hit what we called The Delirium Stage — basically, he started acting kinda nutty, mostly because he was trying to keep himself awake.

On New Year’s Eve, his parents went out, and Diane and I stayed at the condo with Kameron, watching movies. On that night, he didn’t get too “delirious”; in fact, he climbed up on the couch and fell asleep in just a few minutes.

Or so we thought.

Diane asked me if I could carry him into the bedroom without waking him up. I said I’d try, and as I knelt down next to the couch to lift him, he opened his eyes.

And he just started LAUGHING! (I was afraid he’d start crying.)

It was one of my favorite moments ever.

Why does it seem so long ago? Kameron’s not even 5 yet.

Just watched this guy (Roger Federer) win the U.S. Open men’s singles championship:

I have to admit, I was hoping he’d be playing the final against this guy (Rafael Nadal):

Although, admittedly, if Fed and Rafa had been playing each other for the title, I probably would’ve been pulling for Nadal. As it was, I like Andy Murray OK, but nowhere near as much as Roger and Rafa, so that made watching the final relatively stress-free. Especially once Fed took control of the match in the first set.

By the way, both of those photos were taken by me on Aug. 29 and 30, from the south end of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows (or is it “Meadow”?). Our actual seats were up in the nosebleed section — which, actually, isn’t that bad, but somehow, we never actually made it all the way up to our actual seats because we kept finding empty ones in the section below, and no one ever made us leave them.

Anyhoo, now the 2008 U.S. Open is officially over, and after that fortnight and my two-week Beijing Olympics binge, I have to admit I’m all sportsed-out for the moment. Which is ironic because the Cubs are still (amazingly) in the lead in the National League Central (but in the midst of losing, what, six of their last seven games? and seven of their last 10?), and I should be all fired up about what’s left of the baseball season — especially considering the Cubs start a three-game series in St. Louis on Tuesday — but right now, I’m in la-la land.

Which ain’t surprising, for a Monday.

More later on the whole NY trip, perhaps …

I’ve had this CD on my desk for several weeks now; it’s filled with photos from our trip to Reno, NV, back in December 2002.

En route to Reno, however, because of high winds, we were forced to land in Las Vegas — in theory, only for a couple of hours while the winds subsided, but in reality: overnight!

While there, I found an Elvis cow.

Elvis Cow

We boarded our next flight early the next a.m. and made it to Reno without further incident(s).

Karl and Sherry took us to Lake Tahoe and some other town, right on the Nevada-California border, so I could set foot in Cali.

On the way, I spied a snowman with a mohawk.

Mohawk Snowman

Then it was time for a little beach volleyball … or not!

Lake Tahoe Beach Volleyball

This happens to be one of my favorite pictures of me because, in my opinion, I look like I’m about 12 … plus I’m wearing my then-new Timberland boots … plus Diane appears to be rather amused by the spectacle of my pseudo-balancing act!

I’m finding that, during the course of the last 10 years or so — certainly during most of the 2000s — I have been measuring/remembering the time by recalling the trips and the tribulations, the obsessions and the depressions, the love and the losses.

Seems incredible to me that this is already 2008 — which means, God willing, another “new” decade isn’t that far off. I don’t like to look too far ahead, though; doing so prompts worry, and I like me best when I’m not worrying.

Crab!

It has been a few days (weeks?) since I promised some Keys photos.

This handsome guy (gal?) showed up on the sidewalk on the way to the pool at our hotel. True to form, I didn’t even notice him until Diane said, “Oh, look: A crab!” (I am nothing if not observant.)

Sun on Water

One of the best parts about Key West is watching the sun set (almost) every night.

One night, Diane and I headed to Mallory Square to watch the event along with all the other tourists who gather each evening. When we arrived, though, we found a huge cruise ship docked there, blocking the view of the sunset for a good portion of the area. (Apparently, there were two or three ships at the docks that night.)

Karl called to tell us they had found a spot between two of the ships and said to hurry over there. We started walking in that direction but were unable to get through because that part of the dock was locked. We went back to the first dock and tried to wedge ourselves between the crowd to get a view of the fast-approaching sunset. Unfortunately, we had to stand three or four back, and I started pouting because I knew I wasn’t going to get a clear view for a picture.

“We should try to walk around to get to where Karl is,” I fumed. “I can’t get any good shots from here!”

“There’s not enough time,” Diane said, pointing to the sun. “Let’s just watch the sunset and enjoy it.”

I fumed some more, silently … and then, just as the sun was about to go under a cloud — thus ending any hopes of a “perfect sunset” — I climbed up on a chair and clicked off three or four shots, hoping I could just get something.

Sailboat at Sunset

(For the record: Just minutes before sunset, one of the cruise ships moved right in front of Karl and the rest of the gang, obliterating their view!)

Another one of my favorite activities is going to the Dolphin Research Center.

The day Diane and I went, however, the Keys were setting record lows for temperatures. The wind was bitterly cold coming off the water, but I was determined to get some good dolphin photos.

Can’t help it: I love them!

Dolphin Pals

I almost always take a picture of this Tennyson quote at the AIDS Memorial at Higgs Beach:

Tennyson

Diane and I took a walk to the beach near our hotel. A couple at the beach asked me to take their picture, so I did, and then we had them take our picture.

Di & Diane

Right after that, another couple asked me to take their picture … but before I did, the guy’s hat went flying off his head and into the ocean! He jumped down into the water and retrieved it … and then I went ahead and took the picture! (I had also snapped one of him going after his cap — but that photo is on his camera, not mine!)

Anyhoo, I realize I’ve been slacking on blogging for the past few weeks (months?), and I have set sort of a mini-goal in honor of this being a Leap February and all: To write a little something every day of this month.

It’s only 29 days …

Begin 66

Dear Matthew,

Thought of you this weekend whilst wandering around the streets of Chicago. We were headed to the Art Institute when The Lovely said, “Oh, look: There’s the Route 66 sign!” So I snapped a couple of shots — one without flash, and one with (this is the one with). A few minutes later, we were standing in line and a guy selling Street-Wise was telling everyone with cameras to “get a picture of the Route 66 sign,” and I thought, You’re gonna have to give me a lot more information than that to get a dollar from me!

Anyhoo, when I was looking over my photos from the weekend, I remembered one I had taken earlier this year — a different highway, in a much different locale:

Begin 1

I also remembered that on the other side of the street was a sign that showed the end of Route 1, but the “END” part was missing from the sign. It occurred to me, this morning, that I should have taken a picture of the “END” of Route 66; after all, the sign would have been on the other side of the street, right? (I didn’t even think to look!)

All of which makes me wonder:

Are there highways on the moon?

Your pal,
Di

P.S. We did, indeed, see the Richard Misrach “On the Beach” exhibit. I especially liked the photographs of the various people on the beach — reminded me of something by Norman Rockwell, a little — and the ones of individual people in the water.

I am a tad cranky today. Partly because I believe the next-door cat is, indeed, gone (that mainly makes me sad, but it contributes to my overall crankiness), and also because I truly detest unsolicited (negative) comments, as well as people in authority — who really should know better — who call you the day of an event they fully expect you to cover (in this case, “you” being “me”) instead of giving you (again: “me”) the courtesy of advance notice (for example, a couple of days or more rather than a few short hours). Especially considering said event consists of spending an excruciatingly boring evening in a hot gymnasium. Blech.

Also, I am cranky because a year ago, I was en route to the Grand Canyon, in the midst of a most excellent trip to Arizona, and I cannot help wishing I were there, again, right now.

Earlier in the week, I had set out for the Saguaro National Park with my trusty atlas in hand … resulting in a photo that captures My True Drokdom just about as perfectly as possible:

Traveling Drok

This particular trip was especially good for thinking because I spent a good portion of it alone. Driving. And listening to music. And seeing stuff I had never seen before.

And I do not wish to rewrite the trip because what I wrote here and somewhere in here (the MySpace bloggie is not nearly as easy to navigate — another reason I ditched it, I suppose) is better than anything I could write today because it was fresh, then … and here it is, a whole year later.

My, how time flies.

I do remember, though, a site I saw and a thought I had, at one point in my journey. I had just (reluctantly) left Sedona, and as I drove toward a town called Jerome near the top of Mingus Mountain (7,815 ft., according to my atlas), on a couple of nearby mountains, I saw the letters “J” and “C.” And me being me, at the time, I immediately saw that as a reminder of an acquaintance of mine whose initials are J.C. — an acquaintance of mine who was, I finally realized, becoming an ex-acquaintance.

Just over a month later, though, I made a new friend whose initials are J.C.

How cool is that?

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