Thursday, May 13, 2010

Skateboarding Still Isn't A Crime

My cracked Santa Cruz skateboard still has life in it! The coned Slimeballs may need to be rotated, though, after tonight's session. Those old wheels were practically smoking as I carved big, beautiful, beefy lines down the hills in my hood.

It's been awhile since I felt the raw fear that the death wobbles deliver. My trucks and deck turned to Jello beneath my feet as the shadowy forest whooshed by. What a rush!

My foot was off the board as I contemplated bailing, but it would have been suicidal to try and slow my rocketing momentum at that point. All I could do was keep my creaky knees bent and flow down the concrete slope.

For a skater born in the mid-seventies, I was pretty pleased with my ollie, but my flip tricks need a little work. Maybe I'll have to settle for just surfing sidewalks in style. Nah, I don't think so.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Features

Deliberately Unintentional doesn't get updated as often as CNN or MSN; however, I have added a Twitter feed, so scroll down and see what I'm yappin' about. Or better yet, just follow @kattmaiser on Twitter.

Also, you may have noticed I added a Picasa slideshow box to the right side of this blog. If you don't see a new story or a recent tweet, scroll down and see if there are any new snaps floating by. The iPhone's camera isn't the best, but it does the trick.

Thanks for your patience and support.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Monkey Bars, Handlebars and Rock Bars

Last weekend was a nice mix of my new reality and a taste of the old days thrown in for good measure. Although we visit a lot of parks as a family and I sneak away for a run every other night, it's nothing like the pre-kids days of 36 holes of disc golf, three-hour bike rides and 10-mile hikes. Not to mention Sunday morning mimosas.

On the way home from work I stopped off to crush a bucket of golf balls at the driving range "rapid fire" style, as I had to pick up the boys from daycare. The driving range has been my proxy for a real round of golf for the past few years. Sending a few dozen beat-up balls for a ride with the swing of a loaner driver always satisfies.

Following an evening of beers and Nationals baseball on the couch, I took the boys up to the local elementary school's playground. It has a nice mix of slides, platforms, swings and climbers. Plus the playground is on a hill next to a big open athletic field, which affords some nice sky views. I love the wooded hills here in Virginia, but sometimes it's nice to emerge from the trees.

After a rejuvenating nap, we piled into the man-van for a short ride to a local lake for a stroller/backpack hike. The wind was ripping, but the sun was warm on our faces. Having my little guy babbling and pointing things out along the walk was pretty cool, too.

Our family is beginning to outgrow our little shed. Bikes, trikes, gardening gear, inflatable pools, baseball bats and balls, skateboards, snowshoes, camping equipment, tools, toys and old car seats are hung and piled in every available space.

So now I've laid the groundwork for why I took my wife's bike for a spin instead of my own much more masculine two-wheel, steel horse. The chick bike was simply the easiest to retrieve from the cluttered shed. I promise, it wasn't because her seat is like sitting atop a mountain of cotton candy, or because all 21 of her gears work perfectly. Nope, it was just easier to reach....

Speaking of chicks, we enjoyed a really good Mothers Day brunch in a D.C. neighborhood called Adams Morgan. The venue, the Asylum, was pretty interesting. At night it hosts rock bands, but their kitchen has a really diverse menu including vegetarian/vegan options. Needless to say, my wife was quite pleased with her meal and my huevos rancheros were fantastic. The mimosas kept mommy and daddy smiling as a certain three-year-old acted his age.

The National Zoo is just down the road from Adams Morgan, so we parked the man-van on a side street, loaded up the strollers and walked a few blocks to the entrance. For those of you who have never been to D.C., the National Zoo is a Smithsonian institution, which means admission is free. You really can't beat seeing prowling tigers, lounging lions, climbing gibbons, playful orangutans and pandas for free. The season is still young and it was early, so the crowds weren't too thick.

I had planned to end the weekend with a grilling session and a few beers in the backyard; however, a frozen pizza the size of a hula hoop had forced the freezer door ajar while we were out. The pork chops and corn-on-the-cob had to wait.

All in all it was a very fulfilling weekend. The right balance was struck between me time and family fun, which isn't always an easy thing to do these days.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Boys of Summer

I think I should quit my job and just focus on preparing Cannon and Colton for the Major Leagues. Social Security is moving toward bankruptcy and who knows how long it’ll be before Wall Street gambles away my meager retirement savings. I figure training a couple kids to play professional baseball is probably the safest bet for my long-term security.

However, there is one small hole in this plan - I stunk at the game when I was a kid. I was always a fan of the game, but I never applied myself. Maybe it was because my first coach was always in court or jail for drinking and driving, or maybe it was because I found early success on a skateboard. Either way, baseball was part of my life growing up - and still is - and I hope the game is part of my sons’ lives.

I remember playing tee-ball, utterly clueless to the complete rules and nuances of the game. Yet I understood “see ball, hit ball, run.” I remember playing Optimist baseball at Galloway Park and watching Darin and Jeremy crank moonshots deep into the field over the hapless outfielders (there weren’t any fences back then). I remember playing catch with my father in the backyard on hot, muggy afternoons with the scent of freshly cut grass wafting on the breeze (we still do our best to break out the mitts when I'm in town). And as awesome as it was to see the St. Louis Cardinals play at old Busch Stadium, hanging out under the bleachers at a Waterloo Indians game eating dogs and salted peanuts in the shell was almost as fulfilling. The glare of the lights, the smell of stale beer, the crack of the bat in the cool evening air, and the roar from the crowd as a foul ball looped over the grandstands and smashed a windshield are all very vivid memories to this day.

It's fair to say baseball has been a big part of Cannon's first three years. After all, he did walk out of Camden Yards in his diaper on Fathers Day a two years ago, and he was at RFK Stadium for the final Nationals game before they moved into their new digs. Both Cannon and Colton accompanied Angie and I to a Single-A Potomac Nationals game on Fathers Day last year, which was really a lot of fun and very reminiscent of a Lootown Indians game.

The past couple weeks Cannon has been making consistent contact with the ball off the tee, but he’s also been consistently hitting me with the bat. In case you’ve forgotten, the thin, yellow whiffleball bat really smarts. The stinging pain is a small price to pay though to watch him square up to the tee and take his hacks.

His younger brother Colton’s temperature is also rising with baseball fever. When he’s not scurrying off with the bats or knocking the ball of its perch, he can belt the big plastic ball all the way to the fence with a little help from me. From the way his little eyes light up and his toothy smile that spreads from ear-to-ear, I can tell he likes the feeling. Catching the ball is still a bit like playing catch with mannequins, but at least one of the two boys has a glove. I'll just keep throwing balls at them until they figure it out.

Now would be a good time to thank my old friend Rob for adding to our collection of soft baseballs, because we've had a few good living room dodgeball battles since we saw you in March. My sons are welcome to throw every ball in the house at me and hit me with their bats, just so long as they give me free tickets to their professional games in the future.

It may be a tad premature to discuss the placement of their plaques in Cooperstown, but I have much more confidence in the Baseball Hall of Fame voters than the U.S. government or my financial broker. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every backyard pitch, every ball smacked off the fence, every slap to the shins and every ballgame I can share with my boys.