Cubs vs. Brewers — Wrigley Field


My sister called me on Wednesday evening and said friends of hers had given her a couple free tickets to the Cubs-Brewers game on Thursday afternoon and did I want to go? I had to rearrange my schedule a little. (Fortunately, I have a mother who understands when her son cancels a lunch date to go see the Cubs.)

I took the Metra train downtown, then walked to State Street and caught the Red Line subway/el to Addison Street, a block from the park. It took two hours and 45 minutes to get from my house to Wrigley. I waited by the Harry Carey statue outside the bleacher gate and ate one of the Blue Bunny ice cream bars that a pleasant young lady was handing out for free.


When Linda and her friends arrived, we headed to our seats.  We were one section over — maybe 40 feet — from where I sat for the first game of this home stand. It was a hot day — the temperature/humidity index sat at 90º — and there wasn’t much breeze where we were, but I was very glad we were out of the sun.


I purchased a hot dog, fries and a Diet Pepsi. I expect to pay more at the park, but this was ridiculous.


The Air and Water Show was taking place on the lake front a couple miles away. A Navy team parachuted into the park during the National Anthem.



The Cubs, who had won the first three games in the series, got off to a good start in this one, with two runs in the first. Kris Bryant singled and scored.

In the third, Bryant hit a long home run to left, driving in Matt Szczur. Here he is approaching third.


A walk and a couple hits resulted in another run. Cubs were up 5-0 and it looked like a cake walk.

The couple in the seats next to me sat down in the third inning and left about six minutes later, never to return.

Jake Arrieta had a no-hitter two outs into the fourth, but he walked two batters and then gave up a home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis and suddenly it was a game again.

Not to worry. The Cubs came back with two in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back-to-back doubles by Szczur, Bryant and Rizzo. Here’s Bryant’s.


Arrieta walked two in the fifth but escaped without giving up any runs thanks to a pick off at first by catcher Willson Contreras. Arrieta then gave up a lead off homer to Hernan Perez to begin the sixth, walked two more Brewers and was out of the game after 5²⁄³ innings. (He walked seven in the game.)


Spencer Patton entered and walked two more to score a run. It was now 7-5 and the Cubs lead didn’t seem very secure. Never fear. Bryant came up again and hit a homer to dead center. Here he is nearing home.


Both teams scored a single run in the eighth. Bryant drove in Baez with a single. It was his fifth hit in five at-bats, including two home-runs. This was historic. He had a three homer, two double game against the Reds earlier in the year. He is the first National Leaguer and only the second player ever to have two five-hit, two-homer games in a season. Only 17 players have two in their career. Here’s his final hit.


Aroldis Chapman came in for the save in the ninth. Here’s Nieuwenhuis grounding out to Rizzo on a 101 mph fastball to end the game followed by the post-game celebration and the raising of the “W” flag.


My sister and her friends in our seats.


The game ended at 4:40, an hour and 21 minutes after it began. I headed off into the crush of people jamming onto the el. I detrained north of the river and walked along the new Riverwalk back to the station where I just had time to buy a bottle of pop and catch the express. I walked in the door of my house at 7:30, about as sweaty and sticky as a man can be.

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Bird Song Mnemonics

I’m not tone deaf — I can recognize individual songs — but I am tone challenged. I once bought a harmonica and learned two tunes: “Amazing Grace,” and “Red River Valley.” For years afterwards, those were the only two songs I could whistle on key. Now there are none. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the right note when singing.

This has made it a challenge to pursue my chosen hobby of birding. At least half of finding and identifying birds is done by ear. But try as I might, I can never be sure of the rapid, complex songs of most warblers and finches. And when I hear a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker give it’s call, I know it’s one of the two but I’m never sure which one.

But I have managed to learn the calls of a great number of birds by their cadences. There are helpful mnemonics that help me with a lot of them. Some I’ve made up and some I’ve borrowed from others.


For example, the Eastern Towhee clearly sings, “Drink your tea.” The Barred Owl is obviously asking, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

And while no two Song Sparrows sing the exact same song, they all let loose with a variation of, “Madge, Madge, Madge, put on the tea kettle, kettle, kettle.”

The Black-throated Green Warbler sings the old Sunday school song, “The B-I-B-L-E.”

If you have a sense of humor, the White-throated Sparrow says, “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” But if you don’t, it just says, “O sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”

Legend has it that when people die of thirst in the Southwestern desert, the last thing they hear is the Inca Dove mournfully calling, “No hope. No hope. No hope.”

I remember the Savannah Sparrow because I think it sounds like start of the the song “Who Can It Be Now,” by Men at Work, but I’ve never met anyone else who thought so.

Some birds are conveniently named for the songs they sing — the Chickadee, the Phoebe, the Pewee, the Killdeer, the Whip-poor-will. It’s too bad they didn’t name the Tufted Titmouse that way. Its name would be “Peter.” Or the Olive-sided Flycatcher. It sings, “Quick! Three beers!”

My personal favorite is the Warbling Vireo. Some brilliant person came up with a mnemonic that helps me identify it every time — “If I see one, I will seize one, and squeeze it till it squirts.”

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Roger Creates a Web Page!

I have now spent two months looking for a new job. The chief thing I’ve learned is that looking for a job is very much like having a job except that nobody pays me to do it. I’ve just about got memorized. I keep checking back on the listing for editor of Arkansas Bride magazine. I’m just not sure if I’m exactly what they’re looking for.

There have been some other odd bits along the way. For example, the placement agency I’m working with gave me a long list of new careers I might want to pursue. There were probably 500 listed, but for some reason, my eye went immediately to “poultry slaughterer.” I gave it some serious thought, but in the end, I chose to stick with writing and editing.

And then, insult of insults, my niece in Florida turned me down for a job as her personal dishwasher because I only wash the sides of the plates that we actually use. Whatever.

I’ve noticed a lot of editing jobs require proficiency in HTML. Prior to this week, everything I knew about HTML could be summed up in this sentence — “It has something to do with computers.” (Actually, I found out that I’ve known a fair amount of HTML for a long time. I just never knew what to call the coding I’ve been doing on my blog for the past 15 years.)

But now I’ve taken an online course and have created my own web page. Watch out world. An exciting new age of the Internet is right around the corner.

You want to see the website? Here it is.

Never mind.

I apparently still don’t know how to make it an actual web page. That’s probably in the next lesson.

But here’s what it would have looked like.

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Cubs vs. Angels — Wrigley Field

All season long, I’ve seen posts from friends who were at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs and, frankly, I’ve been jealous. Why them and not me? And then I found $30 left over from a birthday present and I hatched a plan. I visited StubHub and found tickets for $30 in the upper deck by the infield for  a game on the very next Tuesday night. (It had to be a sign, right?) It didn’t take me long to convince Nate to go along.

Tickets in hand, the next question was how to get there. On weekday night games, parking isn’t allowed within 412 miles of the field unless you pay with a major body organ. We opted for the Wrigley Express from Woodfield.

This being Illinois, the system they have in place there is odd. The website says the buses leave at 4:30. I got there at 3:30 and there was already a line. At 3:45, buses began loading and taking off. By 4:00, four of the six were gone. Nate arrived about then and we took the final two seats on bus five, far in the back with no leg room to speak of.

And then we sat until 4:30 so they could load all the late-comers onto our bus and bus #6 where they packed into the aisle. Two young men were standing close to the back door. For the next hour and a half, as we sat in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway, we heard a constant plea from the intercom — “Please move away from the doors.” Every time the message repeated, one of the young men would look up at the top of the door and then … stay right where he was.

We finally arrived at 6:15, about 45 minutes before game time. Our seats were high up in the upper deck right next to the press box. It was a hot, muggy day, and we felt very little breeze, but the view was great. We could see a slice of Lake Michigan way off to our right.


I left to find a bathroom (not easy to do at Wrigley) and buy $15.25 worth of supper.


I didn’t leave my seat again. Because I only had my cellphone, all the rest of my photos will look remarkably similar.


Willson Contreras on his way home after his game-tying blast in the third.


Chris Bryant rounding third after his monster shot onto Waveland in the fifth.


Mike Trout about to strike out against Strop to end the game in the ninth. I posted this because Trout will probably be in the Hall of Fame someday and I wanted to prove I saw him play (although you’ll have to take the video board’s word for it).


It was a great game, with two homers, great pitching by John Lackey, some amazing fielding by the Cubs and some humorous fielding by the Angels. We stuck around afterwards for the singing of the silly song and the raising of the “W” flag, which are mandatory parts of the “Cubs are the best team in baseball” experience. Near the end of the video, you can see a blurry replay of Bryant’s home run on the video board.


There were still a lot of fans around as we pushed our way out through the metal detectors and struggled to find a place where we could breathe. It was probably as close as I’ll ever come to knowing what it feels like to be born.


I’d been texting back and forth with my daughter all game long. She was downtown driving for Uber and volunteered to give us a ride home. We took her up on it. About 35 minutes after the final pitch, we met her on a side street two blocks from the park. After dealing with some extraordinarily rude traffic police, we were on our way in air-conditioned comfort and arrived back at the bus depot where we’d left our cars just a few minutes after the buses, but without the knee pain and numb butts.

Here’s the box score. It put the Cubs at 29 games over .500 with a 70-41 record, by far the best in baseball. It was also their eighth win in a row.

As a life-long Cub fan, it feels very strange to write that.

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Cats on Chairs

All the other cats that have lived in this house had to be bribed to go anywhere near the red chair. But Millie and Lucy are social — they want to be where we are. So, when I’m working at my desk they’re right behind me hanging out on the chair.



Our bird feeders are right beneath this window. The House Finches and Goldfinches like to hang out in the pear tree and on the roof of the bay window, both of which are RIGHT THERE!


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The Thrill of OPK

If you’ve ever had children in music, theater, dance or similar activities, you’ve experienced the dreaded OPK. It stands for “Other People’s Kids.”

With every commitment there comes an endless series of programs and recitals. Add to that Sunday school and Christmas programs and award ceremonies. Sooner or later it occurs to you that you’ve attended an awful lot of these things.

Of course you go to support your child. It’s what parents do. You don’t even mind that part of it. The problem is that your child is only center stage for about five minutes. But you have to stick around for another hour and a half and watch other people’s kids. And let’s be honest — only rarely are you entertained.


Years ago, my daughter had a piano recital. Her teacher didn’t have a room in her house large enough for the families of all her students. She divided the performing children into three groups and staged the attendees accordingly. The families of kids in the first group were in the living room where the piano was. The second group was stationed in the family room. The third group, with the more advanced students, gathered in the dining room.

As we sat with a group of random people in a stranger’s dining room, the dulcet tones of “The Happy Clown” and “Winter Sleigh Ride” wafted down the hallway.

Finally it was our turn to move to the living room. The only chairs left were in the front row, three feet from the piano. We listened patiently to the students until finally it was our daughter’s turn to play. Of course, she was the last pianist of the afternoon.

When she finished, we began to gather our belongings. The piano teacher stood up to make some final comments. Or so we thought.

Instead, she announced that she wasn’t only a piano teacher. She also taught voice. As a special treat, we were being given the opportunity to hear two of her students.

At which point, two 12-year-old girls got up, stood two feet in front of us and sang the ENTIRE SOUNDTRACK from The Lion King. We were stuck. The aspiring stars stood directly in front of us, and their parents sat directly behind us. We couldn’t leave. We couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t in any way show that we were annoyed or bored.

I’m sure those two girls have since grown up to be lovely young ladies and delightful singers. But this was in the early stages of their careers. Probably the first stage. And the stage was running late that afternoon.

I had two ideas during those 45 minutes.

First, I coined the term OPK.

Second, I decided that my daughter would soon have a new piano teacher.

Posted in Music, Performances | Leave a comment

How to Father

I wrote this piece for work as part of a campaign to encourage fathers to be more involved in the lives of their children. The photos are of me and my father, Craig Massey.


Wouldn’t it be great if fatherhood came with an instruction manual? (Not that we would actually read the instructions …)

Your 6-year-old son has no interest in sports. Turn to page 13 to find out why.

  • YOU need to grow up. There’s a lot more to life than sports.
  • He’ll probably be an amazing scientist and cure cancer. Don’t worry.
  • You need to buy season tickets and take him to every game. What are you waiting for?

Your 16-year-old daughter isn’t talking to you. Turn to page 34 to find out why.

  • All she talks about these days is boys and music. Count your blessings.
  • She’s seeking independence. Keep loving her and be patient.
  • She’s gotten in with the wrong crowd. Ground her for six months.

A few people have written instruction manuals like this, but many fathers have found them lacking. No two kids are the same or deal with the same circumstances, so no two kids will respond the same way, no matter what parenting method we use. And even if we did everything right (which we don’t), kids have free will and often choose the wrong path.

So what are we, as fathers, to do? The Lord offers us help in the Bible. No, He hasn’t given us a step-by-step instruction manual. But He’s given us something even better — His perfect example to follow. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1).

So, if God is our Father (and He is, once we’ve trusted Jesus Christ as Savior), and if God is love (and He is), it makes sense to look at God’s love to find out how to be loving leaders of our children.

God has given us a list of exactly what love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It’s a lot to digest all at once. There are probably a few things on the list that will really grab you and make you realize you have room to improve. As the first point states, our heavenly Father is patient. He doesn’t expect us to be fault free or to become exemplary fathers overnight. But He does expect us to be disciplined to grow in what we know.

Pick one attribute of love from the list and concentrate on it for as long as it takes to become a habit. Then pick a second attribute. It won’t be long before you find yourself living in God’s strength most of the time.

Love is patient  Don’t respond with anger, even when deliberately provoked. Remain calm, even when disciplining.
Love is kind  Seek ways to benefit your children unconditionally. Work in a child’s best interest regardless of how the child responds.
Love does not envy Don’t seek to take any credit away from the children. Rejoice when your children succeed.
Love does not boast  Don’t focus attention on yourself or feel superior.
Love is not proud  Don’t use your children to boost your own self-esteem or stand with others.
Love is not rude Remember that your children are watching and behave in a way that sets a good example.
Love is not self-seeking  Don’t put your own priorities or interests above those of your children.
Love is not easily angered  Remember that you were once young and made your share of mistakes and went through your own rebellion.
Love keeps no record of wrongs Don’t hold grudges. Don’t demand payback for wrongs but forgive completely.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth Don’t be happy about the misfortune of your children. Don’t put them down or meanly tease them for their mistakes or weaknesses.
Love always protects Provide a strong foundation and a constant haven for your children in all their struggles and challenges.
Love always trusts Assume the best of your children. When they sin, discipline in love, but when there is any doubt, respond with grace.
Love always hopes Hope for the best, even when your children are making poor choices. Respond positively.
Love always perseveres Keep on loving even when your child is failing constantly or actively rebelling.
Love never fails Keep on doing these things. Keep in mind how often you fail to live up to God’s standards and how God always responds with grace, then model that love to your own children.

We can’t be perfect fathers, but by seeking to reflect God’s love into our kids’ lives, we can be good ones. And we can point our children to their perfect Heavenly Father.

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Dog Owners

Many people are more comfortable with their pets than they are with humans. I know this from personal observation.

On my daily hike around the neighborhood, I meet people out walking their dogs. Frequently, as we approach each other, the owners begin talking out loud to their pets in an obvious effort to avoid talking with me. And they almost always use a goofy, high-pitched voice like they’re sucking helium and speaking to an infant.

“Come on Nibbles! We’re almost home! Just a little further and you can have a treat! Would you like a treat! I know you like treats!”

I make a friendly effort to wait until I’ve passed them by before I roll my eyes.

It gets even more awkward when they talk to their dog about ME.

“It’s OK Doofus! He’s a stranger but he won’t hurt you! Do you think he’s going to bite you? He’s not going to bite you. Leave the man alone. Let’s go, Doofus!”

It so happens that they’ve judged me correctly — I won’t, in fact, bite their dog. In fact, I think the risk is so slight that anyone they meet is likely to bite their dog that it could probably safely remain unsaid.

But yesterday morning I experienced the apex of awkwardness. Ahead of me I saw a young man, perhaps in his mid-20s, standing in the grass along the path. He had a miniature, long-haired dachshund on a leash. A jogger came from the other direction and passed by. The dog owner and his dog immediately set out after him, about three feet behind his heels. After perhaps 20 yards, the jogger looked back over his shoulder. The dog owner explained, “He’s chasing you.”

Mind you, the dog was on a leash. It would have been doing no chasing if the owner hadn’t been chasing along with him.

About that time, the three of them passed by where I was walking. The dog owner and his dog immediately gave up their pursuit of the jogger and began following right behind me. I heard the guy say to his dog, “Do you want to smell his legs?”

I found this decidedly uncomfortable and determined to give him about six seconds to stop before I turned around and told him his behavior was odd and unacceptable. But I didn’t need to do that. After five seconds, they dropped back and stopped.

I guess the dog didn’t want to smell my legs after all.

(NOTE: The names have been changed to protect innocent animals that are not responsible for the behavior of their owners.)

Posted in Life Is Weird | 2 Comments

R Massey Writes

Today I launched a new Facebook page called R Massey Writes to get some recognition after 20 years of writing without bylines. I used this as my profile photo. Notice how subtly I included the red chair.

This One

I struggled with the header image on the page. I finally decided to use this:


I created it in Word, messed about with it a bit in Picasa, made the letters look a little stressed in Paint and then added some effects in Snapseed. I’m happy with it for now.

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Caught in the Storm

It was late on a Sunday afternoon. The temperatures all week had hovered in the mid-90s with miserable humidity. I’d managed to get in some early morning walks, but I’d also skipped several days. A storm had just passed through and the air felt a little cooler (if no less humid) and I decided to head out.

The sky was a poster of every type of cloud and the scene kept changing from minute to minute.



Hulk punching out his Teddy bear.


Happy pig.

I’d walked about two miles from home when a thunderstorm popped up right overhead.


The local junior high was the closest building, so I made a dash for the covered area by the front door and spent the next half hour pacing back and forth (I have to get my miles in). The rain came down hard and the sky looked angry. Sally texted me to ask if I wanted to be picked up. I could see blue sky headed my way, so I told her I’d stick it out. When the rain stopped and I heard no more thunder, I set out.

Probably a mistake. Within a couple minutes, things were decidedly dicey. The clear sky stayed in the distance, and I was out in a large field in the middle of a storm. I wasn’t alone in my foolishness. A young buck deer was grazing in the soy beans, keeping his eyes on me and ignoring the lightning in the background.


Things were getting more and more harrowing and I began walking faster.



Within a minute of when I took the photo above, everything got dark and it began to pour. I took shelter under a tree in a housing development and called my wife to rescue me. She came within minutes and I was soon safe at home where I completed my walk on the treadmill downstairs.

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