Saturday, October 17, 2009

The American Work Ethic

This was Beach Clean-Up Day, one of the community service days school kids here and everywhere perform during the year. It was foggy but lovely out at Ocean Beach. Most of what we found was common detritus -- bottle caps, cigarette butts, plastic, broken bottles -- but we also found some drug syringes and my son found a small packet of marijuana.

Later, the day's main action occurred out at the Presidio, the former long-time Army base that now is part of the City of San Francisco. There, the girls' team I wrote about recently finally found out what it feels like to succeed after three long seasons of hard work.

Regular visitors may recall that this team, which is called the Palominos, came into today with an all-time record of 0-19 and a scoring deficiency of 6-91. Today's opponents beat them the last time they met by a score of 6-2.

But today, after weeks of practices, and clinics, and the accumulated frustration of so many continuing losses, the Palominos turned into a real soccer team.

They dominated play against a team that seemed unprepared to not be able to coast to yet another victory over a younger, smaller team that they'd beaten by four goals just three weeks earlier.

Nevertheless, no one could score a goal.

At halftime, it was 0-0.

More than halfway through the second half, it still was scoreless, when suddenly you could almost sense our girls collectively had finally simply had enough of losing and started upping their aggression.

In soccer, much of what happens depends upon who gets to the ball first, wherever on the pitch that may be. I noticed that our girls were beating the other team to the ball over and over, and I knew that -- in the unwritten rule that underlies soccer games -- they were going to get a scoring chance at some point.

Finally they did.

A perfect feed by the left forward to the center forward led to a slicing shot well outside of the keeper's range. At the moment the ball left the shooter's foot, I knew. As did other parents. We all yelled at the top of our voices as that sphere seemingly in slow motion inexorably ripped across the white line and into the back of the net.

Moments later, the game ended. Victory, sweet victory!

After shaking hands with the losing team, our girls raced across the field to us, their long-suffering but ever-loyal parents.

My daughter was the first to arrive and I swept her up and swung her around and around.

Tonight, back home, we had a beautiful sunset, with deep streaks of red, pink, yellow, orange, blue and purple lighting up the Western sky.

And I did something I almost never do: I bought them junk food. Yep, the kids ate donuts.

"Congratulations, winners!" (Click to look at those faces.)

Photo by Joshua Ets-Hokins

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back Home

I've been remiss in updating my posts here, so let me try to make up for almost an entire workweek of silence.

Here is what happened. We took off in a violent rainstorm on Tuesday that made the plane bounce so violently that we wondered why we ever agreed to go on this trip in the first place.

San Francisco, on that day, was slammed by winds and rains that were the remnants of a much worse killer storm that did its real damage far away from here.

The good news is we sped east at a record pace, landing at JFK about four hours later.

In my other favorite city, we had a good week. Yesterday, a big storm system (the same one that hit SF?) dumped rain in amazing volumes on Midtown.

This morning, at an ungodly hour, I rose and found my way back onto an airplane that then very gently delivered me and the other passengers back here to home.

That's my story. What is yours?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, Kids Day; Tuesday Beckons

Gotta be a grownup the rest of this week, but today I got to play with my kids and grandkids in a variety of venues.

They are all so different from each other, with different needs, schedules, expectations, and skills that balancing the crowd would require a maestro conductor, a choreographer, a master organizer.

Being none of those things, I flow with the go.

There is a crisis a minutes -- this one falls, that one shrieks, this one loses his math assignment, that one becomes moody, this one is sad no soccer field is open, that one needs a nap.

And go it so's.

Gotta fly away on a jet plane in the morning to New York City. I'll next report from there, in midtown...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend Post, #1,500

These girls deserve the best sportswomanship award. Over the past few years, their all-time record is 0-19 and they've been outscored ~91-6. But their spirits remain high, they work hard, and they are improving.

These past few days have been packed with people coming and going.

The weather turned cold today; the sky's grown dark.

Yesterday was warmer. So that allowed lots of outdoor time. Little kids barely notice the weather, anyway.

It's a historical moment at Hotweir.

With people at so many stages of development around here -- a newborn held by a 15-year-old; a ten-year-old reading to a one-year-old. A 30-something helping a 13 year old. Another 30-something playing with a 2 year old. A 20-something talks with a 60ish person.

My three sons, so sweet...

...and so tough!

Happy post number one thousand, five hundred, Hotweir! It took a little over three and a half years to get here...Onward toward 2,000.


Avoiding Pain = Not a Strategy

You know you're not listening to enough music when you find yourself humming the tune that is the ring tone on your cellphone -- and you also have no idea what song those tones come from.

Trying to impress my grandson this morning, I accidentally hit him in the face with a ball I'd kicked far too hard, frightening him and causing him to cry for a while. He gave me a look that was something like. "Grandpa, I thought I could trust you!"

Hours later, I still felt awful.

A few days earlier he had smashed my forehead with a hard plastic globe, not realizing that he would leave me with what feels like an invisible bruise. The next day, I was walking to the market when a bug flew directly into that spot, causing my to lurch and hold my head in pain.

Any witness would have thought, "That guy is crazy, reacting to being hit by a bug in that way."

You know young kids are staying with you when you find yourself humming "The Wheels on the Bus" in the shower.

The President is ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a reminder of how much the country has changed since the early days of Bill Clinton's first term, when he misjudged the political opposition to gays in the military, which then spawned this policy that pleased no one, and has accomplished little -- if anything -- of value over the past sixteen years.

Now, finally, the U.S. as a nation is growing up and eliminating a double standard in the military. Hopefully, this progressive step will trigger further needed changes in society as a whole.