Hope Returns to Believeland

Cleveland is a football town. There really isn’t anyway other to describe it.

Yes, there are two other professional sports that garner just as much of the Cleveland faithful with the Indians and the Cavaliers, but for the latter LeBron is gone and the Indians were swept in the playoffs.

Normally, in the last couple of years these events would crush the Cleveland sports faithful. It didn’t.

A funny thing happened on the way to start of the football season. HBO’s Hard Knocks, featuring none other than the Cleveland Browns. This set the tone to bring back the faithful and it generated the highest viewer ship the show has enjoyed. That was step one.

Then the real test began. Step two.

With little hope of winning against the Steelers the Browns did the next best thing they came back and tied. The faithful started to take notice. A glimmer of hope..

Growing up outside of Cleveland, football was a religion all its own. My home town, like many others in Northeast Ohio set their Sunday scheduled around the game. If you went to noon Mass you were guaranteed to be home by kickoff.

If you have ever been to country auction you know how fast the auctioneer speaks. Well if the Browns were in the playoff. The Homily or Sermon if you will, would be spoken just like those of those country auctioneers much to the delight of the faithful and the Browns faithful. I suppose my favorite Homily during those days was when our Priest look at his congregation and said simply this. “You know what you did and so does he!” Communion was more like a discus competition except you had to make sure your tonsils were ready to receive the host. No one ever complained. After all kickoff was quickly approaching. Our Priest would then race down the aisle faster than a groom in a shot gun wedding, yelling half way down “Mass has ended go in peace and go Browns” on this day no one was going to get out of the church faster because he knew he wanted to get to the rectory and not be stampeded on by the faithful.

Sunday meals were prepared as if it was a holiday; starting in the morning and served after or before the game. Even if football wasn’t Mom or Grandma’s sport they knew what had to happen. After all it was the second religion in the house and someone would always say “God must love football or we wouldn’t have it on Sundays!”

Back then there was never any worry about cameras shooting a take a knee because the National Anthem was never televised. Even during the playoffs.

In 1980 I was part of the Singing Angels that were asked to sing the National Anthem and do the half time show during the Oakland Raiders and the Browns playoff game. While my Dad was a parent escort, my Mom and everyone else stayed home and grew angry when they could not watch us perform- when they called the TV station they simply stated it was valuable advertising time. It was also the same day a certain nickname, Clevelanders have called it red right 88 and the rest of the country would refer to it as “Mistake on the Lake” which eventually became the reference for the whole city. But still the faithful remained.

Even in 1995 the faithful remained and Cleveland was the first team ever to keep the history in Cleveland and retain the name of the team. The faithful were promised a team and waited for 1999.

Its hard to shake us diehard Browns fans. But it happened. Now for me living in Louisiana it’s hard to get games unless you are willing to spend extra on a two drink minimum or NFL game pass. However, I can listen to the games on Cleveland Browns Radio network. Thank god the Browns have the best play by play man in the universe in Jim Donovan. Up until 2016 I was an avid listener. Then Dad passed away and well football left me. It was our religion after the game we would talk for an hour about what was good, bad and ugly. He would tell me what I would have to wait for in sparse highlights on ESPN..his replays always sounded better than the National Media would convey. So I left football. No more fantasy leagues, no more NFL Network nothing my heart wasn’t in it anymore.

Little did I know the faithful came with me and so did the Browns. For me it was too painful, I missed my Dad. For the Browns and the faithful it was two years of only winning the number one draft pick.

In May of this year, I decided to tune back in.

Hard Knocks, 92.3 the fan, ESPNCleveland, and the Browns Daily. I watch every preseason game and marveled how Hard Knocks kept up with it and just how much talent it takes to produce such a show. I felt bad for the players who were cut. Checking the Browns website for the final roster and keeping tabs on cuts and additions.

I rejoiced knowing we were playing the Saints! I could see a game in my home! I cringed as we lost and diligently kept and ear open all week if we would pull the trigger on the quarterback position.

I became so wrapped up waking up to 92.3 the fan in my morning haze I heated the traffic report. 480 and 271 were backed up and for a moment I thought great my commute is gonna suck.. then I remember where I lived in Baton Rouge. Homesick is my only excuse.

Then a Thursday night with color rush jerseys came to my TV. Cleveland looked fantastic the city and the team and I was more homesick then I could remember. But it wouldn’t last.

The Jets flew through the defense and were 14-0 it was then I changed the channel shut the radio broadcast off and muttered nothing has changed. Until…..

My phone started going off. News alerts from the major sports outlets and the Browns filled my phone “Baker Mayfield has taken the field….” my heart leaped which I thought was stupid but as I fumble around for my remote then couldn’t remember what channel number it was on I began that hurry up panic. Finally I found the NFL Network and I was electrified as if I was at FirstEnergy Field.

I wasn’t the only one. The faithful and those who hopped on the Bandwagon were there too. As if the sports gods reaped their brilliance and rewarded the faithful for their long suffering. The losing streak snapped, the faithful cheering, and the team smiling. The Bud Light coolers where going to be open. To hear Jim Donovan make the call “is this what it feels like?” WOW!

As the game began to turn around my text notification went off. “Beth is this still your number?” A friend of mine who moved to Texas, (who’s name is also Beth) was wanting to know if I was watching. She had become a Browns fan through Hard Knocks. And I now had someone to share the game with! Just like Dad used to text me during the game.

Even my work here in the Deep South you might have thought I was the Haslems. The congrats, the texts and FB shout outs made me realize what I had been missing since my Dad passed.

Over the next week friends from all over were sending me joyful responses and anger when the bad calls in Oakland became center stage.

The Browns/Raven game wouldn’t be any different as I was on a Sunday afternoon with my new Browns partner in Crime (Beth) were feverishly texting. I was listening as she watched. My granddaughter was asking me what I was listening to? Nearly six she looked at me oddly when I said the Browns. “You mean the color on TV?” Ummm WHAT!?!

CBS switched from the blowout Chiefs game to the Browns and I didn’t notice. Now I could really texting with Beth and we could enjoy the game together! Thank goodness the Saints were on MNF or she would be swapping back and forth I thought.

The Browns would win again! My phone lit up like Christmas with all my Baton Rouge friends cheering for me because of my love for the team and Cleveland friends cheering because we the faithful had something to cheer about.

The faithful and new faithful have returned.

This week I was in Atlanta racing across the airport to catch my connecting flight to Cleveland. In the midway I abruptly stopped and knew which gate was mine. Not ever having to look at the gate sign–The legions of Browns fan were proudly dressed for a flight to Cleveland. Orange and Brown gear was everywhere! I immediately regretted not wearing mine.

See it is not just the winning. It’s the feeling, the excitement that is bringing the legions of faithful back. Just like when our children leave home and come back, they usually bring more with them. So have the faithful and it includes the sports media. Jim Rome told Jerry Jones to move over “The Cleveland Browns are America’s Team!”

The Cleveland Browns showed up in time to pick us up and to return hope to the most hopeful city in the country Believeland and sent a bandwagon for the new faithful.

Someone needs to explain to Hue Jackson this:

You know the pressures of losing, now you need to learn the pressures of winning. Instead of asking where were you over the last two years. Consider this– whether you were a fan for 50 years or 2 months there is room for all the support and love we can get. Hey Hue think about it next you want to say something less stellar.

The support is buying tickets, gear and viewership how can there NOT be room for more?

Maybe you Coach Jackson missed it, but….

Hope has return to Believeland.

I hope it never leave us again.

Or maybe it’s just The Rally Possum!

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Bookends

I am a sports fan through and through. I love playing, watching and talking sports. It was my Dad who introduced me to the love of sports. What is odd about this is he was not very athletic at all. He understood the mechanics of what needed to happen without being able to carry out the action himself. Just ask my mother who could dance with the grace of a swan, what happened when they tried ballroom dancing. You might hurt yourself laughing. Yet, that never stopped him from trying or coaching me.

I preface this for you to understand what I have recently gone through. Somewhere in my infinite wisdom these losses feel connected.

I lost my Dad two months after the CAVS won the NBA championship and the end of a 52 year drought for Cleveland, the city my Dad loved with every ounce of his being.

The last real conversation I had with him was his excitement for the Indians– “Bethy, they don’t just have the stuff to go to the World Series they have the stuff to win it!! ” In 2016 the Indians would come close. Sadly he didn’t live to see it–But it got me through the loss of his death.

He taught me to love and embrace all that is Cleveland even when I have moved as an adult 1200 miles away. He helped me to continue my love for the city and area. Cleveland and Northeast, Ohio to me is still home.

So much so that when my best friend wanted a Schnauzer puppy her husband asked me to bring one back when my daughters and I drove to Cleveland. It was the year I decided to surprise Dad with a trip to the Canton Football Hall of fame.

The vet was only 10 minutes from there; where the adorable little puppy was waiting for my friend to be her 40th birthday surprise. But the surprise would be on me!

After our visit to the Hall of Fame we would go and pick up that adorable little puppy, As I was preparing to give them the check, the wife of the vet handed Dad another puppy. Just as adorable but very still. The vet said he tends to be very serious. Dad look at the vet and said “Would you like to make a bet?” See the little salt and pepper male was the largest of the litter and perhaps the Alpha and his eyes were fixed on me while Dad held him. He walked over knowing that my 40th birthday was just a few days after my best friend’s. “Elizabeth, everybody needs a little black and white on their 40th and that is just what he is.”

I retrieved the puppy from him and held him. Suddenly the serious nature diminished and the pup’s true personality came through. Lively, energetically licking, pawing and sniffing my face. Chewing my hair and looking at me as if to say “you are mine.” And just like that I was. I knew immediately what I would name him.

“So do you have a name?” Dad asked laughing. After it had been five minutes since he placed the puppy in my arms.

“Yep, Spike!” I announced as the pup was now chewing my necklace.

“Spike?” Dad questioned.

“Yeah, I have three cats at home and he needs to come in with attitude. Spike it is.” I smiled as newly named Spike was now chewing my purse strap and pulled my wallet out and dumped half my purse on the counter.

Dad looked at me nodded and laughed ” Well that makes sense.”

Over the years Beth’s Little Dude Spike ( his AKA name) would rule the house of Cats, play ball in house, break a few things with his antics, catch cat tails thinking he had won the Super Bowl and never understood why I scolded him when he did.

He would speak in dog, while I spoke in English and he would get frustrated with me because he understood me, but my barkish was subpar.

He would watch sports with me and if my Cleveland team would lose (not really shocking is it) he would bring me his ball so we could win a victory together. Well, until a cat crossed his path then he’d forget the ball and chase the cat on top of my kitchen table which would cause me to have to replace another center piece.

“Spike!” I would yell with exasperation.

His reaction was always the same, child like eyes and a whining bark that said ” Hey the cat did it, not me!” And like clockwork I’d clean up the centerpiece toss in the trash only to have one of my children comment on the debacle.

“Lost another one– Hey here’s an idea. STOP putting a centerpiece on the table.” Spike who was hiding behind the author of the statement was clearly in agreement.

Spike was a wanderer. If the gate had a crack or was improperly shut –he could push it open and he would go through. Which earned him the nickname Houdini.

When I found him he would jump up and act like nothing happened. I would lecture as we walked home and Spike– he ignored me and wanted a treat.

Twice I had to turn to Facebook to find him. Each time he was found he managed to get a free meal –oddly he worked his magic after only being gone an hour.

Spike the once serious puppy was a favorite with high school kids my girls brought home. He never like anyone my girls and I dated, after all he was the Alpha.

Spike was happy for a granddaughter to come into the fray. After all who doesn’t love a good game of grab the diaper and steal the cookie? I once told Spike as if he was human- just ask she’ll give it to you. So he barked softly and she did.

He would curl up with her when she slept and more than once I caught him pulling the covers up on her.

As time passed it would be Savannah on her visits that started to cover him up and tuck him in.

Age does what it does and even if Spike could escape a fence he could not escape Father Time. Blind and ailing. My little dude listen with me like old times the Browns on Thursday Night Football finally end their losing streak.

Two days later just as I held him as a puppy and he claimed me, he left me for his enteral rest in my arms. In my grief I did what I did when my Dad passed, rewatch a happy moment we shared.

As if it was bookends in the moment of time I watch the CAVS win with my Dad on the phone and I watch the Browns win with Spike by my side. Dad placed Spike in my arms after a trip to the hall of fame and I handed Spike back to him in heaven.

Sports in this moment of my life are the bookends, one on each side Alpha and Omega. The immense love that is placed in between is what fills the heart and lingers with me, as I place this book in between the bookends built in my heart and now take pause before I open a new book in my life.

I miss them both but I am my best because of them. Their story for me is one I am proud to place in between the bookends of my heart.

Rewriting History using the *

The Cleveland Indians have done something this century has never seen. Maybe you heard of it. A 22 game win streak. However the powers that be in Major League Baseball have explained the Indians are the second longest streak in history.

Now here is what’s odd. Understandable but odd never the less. The 1916 Giants hold the record. They played 12 games on the 13th game (if memory serves me correctly-and no I wasn’t there) according to Elias Sports the Giants tied. Due to weather and darkness the game was called and a tie was recorded maybe or just mention on the score keepers sheet? The Giants went on to a 14 game winning streak. Now this has been hash tagged, hashed out, and just hashed to death. See the Giants replayed the tie game. Even though 8 innings had been played. Ties have never counted and shouldn’t. No one argues the Giants accomplishment. The argument arises because it’s not true consecutive wins

Thus enter the dilemma. This record has a flaw and the Indians’ record hasn’t. Show me how it could possibly happen now and then add in the modern era as a consolation prize-meaning as illumination in the ball park for night games as the start of the modern era. Um sure- but the Giants still have a tie that went unrecorded because somebody said “Well if there’s time to make it up you can if not we won’t count it.” If it wasn’t counted then how does everybody know it exists? Further they get their stats on a game that doesn’t count. I believe Elias Sports said they replayed the game the next day from the beginning. Yet you can discount a game that was played almost to its entirety? I know it was a long time ago. But still.

I don’t want to take anything away from High Pockets and his crew. But there is a solution.

It’s called the asterisk. Yep you heard me. The dread little symbol of look at the bottom of the page and see how we’ve address this record. Billy Crystal made a movie out of it 61*. How Roger Maris was given an * by his single season homerun record- all because he wasn’t Babe Ruth who did it in a shorter season or Mickey Mantle who was the Yankees golden boy then.

The * denotes things. Like oh shall we say a 1916 winning streak? This would then leave open real winning streaks like the 2002 A’s, The 1935 Cubs and 2017 Indians. Allowing those stats to reflect uninterrupted winning streaks.

Yes the asterisk has a bad reputation but it has its place and not on Roger Maris’ record which we know was broken.

If no one will say it then I will. Put the asterisk by the 1916 Giants to reflect the truth and be done with it.

History is the greatest part of Baseball. And as in the movie Field of Dreams Terence Mann says it;

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”

As should an asterisk * mark the past.

Here is Where You Left Me

It has been a very long time since I blogged.  I have no excuses I simply lost the passion.  Or maybe even the nerve.  But it was here I introduced people to my Parents. Moreover my Dad.

He has always been a guiding force in my life. No matter what I was going through he had a way of reaching me.  For a very long time my Dad would send me little inspirational messages.  I enjoyed them, sometimes laughing or sometimes shaking my head thinking where does he find this stuff.

He used to say “Bethy, you feel bad, and think it’s bad-however, and I quote I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” It didn’t matter the age I was, somehow he always found away to slip that particular quote in.

When I was riding high on life he would again slip a little something in.  “Bethy, to be great you have to be good, to be good you have to be willing to fall down far more times than you succeed, this is all before you can be good and to quit now because you aren’t good then you have cheated yourself. Just remember this while you celebrate now, because tomorrow you have to figure out how to stay there.”

My response was always the same “But Dad!!”

“No buts about it, use a little humility and some common sense.” He’d look serious and then shrugged,  “Or Elizabeth do it your way and see if maybe I might just know a few things”

” But Mom says you don’t have common sense!” I would protest.

“Is that so? Hmm. Well then keep thinking your way and see who has the common sense.”

“But Dad, this was a great day!!” How could he burst my bubble? Why would he act as if I was riding my ego as a jetpack? I might have been looking back at it.

“Oh I didn’t say you couldn’t celebrate. But 6 months ago the world was caving in because YOU not me, not your mother, YOU” as he pointed at me ” thought you weren’t good enough and wanted to quit. And now you act as if none of that happened.”

“But Dad, what is it that is making you rain on my parade?” I would scowl, stomp my feet or just let out an argh as if I had just join the crew of the Jolly Roger.

“Oh that’s simple.” He would say casually.

“What is it?” I would protest after all he was raining  on my parade. He wanted me to achieve. And I’ve achieved and now I’m getting the mother load of all lectures.

“If you don’t know then I can’t help you.” He would always turn away acting very slightly like he failed as a parent. Not a great acting job mind you. I’m pretty sure it was a set up and he was bluffing as if he was holding an inside straight and he knew I had a pair of twos.

“Fine give me a hint I’m missing all the fun!”

” No hints Elizabeth this isn’t a test.” Again he would shrug his shoulders and turn to leave.

“Thanks Dad! Thanks a lot!” I would always snap.

“Ahhhhh you figured it out.” The sarcasm was thick like a London Fog just pummeled my bedroom.

“I said thanks a lot? How and when did I figure out anything?” In my head I was picturing missing jigsaw pieces, running away to the big city or swiping the car keys and taking it for a joy ride. Unfortunately, the first time we had one of these types of chats I was twelve, well at least I was tall enough to reach the gas peddle. I was however,  going forward, in these situations profoundly clueless.

“What is thanks?” He’d ask.

“Something you say when someone does something for somebody, I guess?” Now I had the case of the creepy crawlies. You know where you start scratching you neck that doesn’t itch. Twisting your fingers around each other and making patterns with your foot in the new carpet. The fidgets had set in.

“Does somebody have to give you something to be thankful?”

I shrugged my shoulders, because after the fidgets set in I somehow always managed to lose the ability to verbally communicate. And make eye contact.

“Elizabeth, celebrate today but be thankful while doing it. Every success that is made has many hands that helped, every failed attempt is lonely. The good news in failure if you see it more positive mind you; is you learn from it.” It stinks having a teacher for a Dad was always my first thought. “Here is where I will leave you before you go celebrate. Take the time to be grateful and thankful. It isn’t just being polite it is away of life.”

He meant it.  My Dad didn’t rain on my parade he wanted me to enjoy the parade everyday and it was his way of saying life is a parade if I would let it.

Dad, here is where you left me. Blogging again and telling the world what they might have missed or forgotten. Your words, your lessons and the journey.

And sadly it is really here on earth is where he left me.

My Dad’s parade on earth ended on August 9, 2016.  The little messages to me stop on August 7, when he had taken ill.

Everyday my Dad was grateful and thankful for his wife, his children, grandchildren and great granddaughter.

Everything else? Well that’s where I leave you.  Dad always knew when to let me figure it out. He always had faith I would.

I know he’ll let me know when I finally do from heaven above.  Actually, he probably already knows.

I love you Dad.

Cleveland Cavaliers VS Golden State Warriors Preview

NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

Stiletto Stomping Sports

Looking ahead at the NBA Finals it is hard for anyone to be objective. Both teams have a need and a want to achieve the elusive title that rankles and ails each franchise. Cavs and Warriors have MVPs, rookie coaches, each have beaten the other at home and have squads made up of inexperienced players except for one.

LeBron James will be a major factor heading to the Oracle Arena.  The big reason is that he did not play against the Warriors at the Oracle.  The rumor and record state how hard it is as a visitor to win at the Oracle but the same can be said about the Q.  Home court advantage proved to have little impact on the Cavs and truthfully I have the impression they would rather travel first and then come home.  This is where LeBron makes the difference.

His ability to keep the Cavaliers on point…

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Together 

Together! It’s Time!

Stiletto Stomping Sports

Are you from Cleveland? The Northeast Ohio area? Did you grow up there in the last 50 years? If the answer is yes then you will feel the words printed. If not then you may just shrug it off.  OR you may just hear what is posted on my blog!


Dreams in Cleveland are cut from the iron ore that once rested on the shores of Lake Erie. Those dreams can easily be shattered by the frigid winds that clip across the Northcoast with the fury of a stealth bomber. Faster than the speed of light and quieter than a ninja warrior closing in on the target.

Growing up here meant having a great sense of humor, the ability to dust yourself off and try again and facing the fact your dreams may need to take on a different direction.  Yet never to be abandon.

So many times the city…

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Why It Matters

Big Markets have the names; New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Big Towns, big celebrities, big traffic and big championship victories. Medium and small markets tend to have layovers for a couple hours and not always touristy unless it’s the holidays.  The occasional underdog victory and championship or so it’s always been the thought.

However, there are a lot more medium and small markets with more than a regional or local fan base. This point can easily be made from anywhere. However 50 years is 50 years. I’ll let you figure the geography.

When you’re from Cleveland or a fan of Cleveland sports it safe to assume Cleveland isn’t in the trendy big market group.

It is however away of life, no matter where the road of life takes you. And it’s pretty noticeable when in a crowded room that is filled with fans for the other team , one solidly loud  blasting cheer being heard over the disappointed group might just stand out a little and the shrouded possibility of not being invited back. It’s Love and loyalty. Also for those fans who live out of town a lot of ” whys” and ” Oh admit it you want to cheer a winner for a change.” Uh yes but we want our team to be that winner! The reason?

It’s simple.

We love a city, and the teams that represent that city. Cleveland has a deep history of greatness and rock bottom events. Clevelanders are likable, humorous and can change from the predictable norm to the exception to the rule faster then Clark Kent can become the Man of Steel.

Together we have waited over 50 years. Together we have watched the ups and downs. But the loyalty remains and outside of the area that loyalty amongst fans who have had to move for various reasons are just as true. We tend to be extremely thankful for the Internet, cable deals and calling back home more often after games then on holidays. ESPN can never carry enough highlight footage either!

For most of us it’s home. The lessons we garnered as kids, to understanding why Cleveland is a preverbal punchline and taught those jokesters we can tell a few ourselves. We get it. It’s funny. Cleveland is fun to say , and you almost can’t say it without smiling a little.  Trust me it’s not a cure for the blues. Still there’s always a bright side and a “wait for next year” quote lingering after we poke fun at ourselves.

This city is so much more, just look at the many brilliant and talented people who grew up here. They changed medical science, the entertainment industry, they became inventors, oil barons, sports heros and gave a name to rock ‘n’ roll. In return they inspired others and left behind a deep and rich history for all those still growing up in Northeast Ohio. Furthermore, a legacy in the preciously fragile beauty of a dream and the overwhelming excitement when it comes true.

The Cavaliers matter on all the various levels. LeBron came home after a very hard to swallow departure. He was criticized when he showed his Buckeye pride while injured watching a team with the biggest heart in college football defy all odds and made history happen.

What ? You don’t think that didn’t hit home with the King? Surely you jest! His heart was out there for all to see in the first game back at the Q. So after watching The Ohio State Buckeyes win the national championship title with the third quarterback of the season, a little Buckeye Pride didn’t rub off on the Cleveland Cavaliers? Didn’t they start a surging journey and began to gel their talents and passions together after that? Hey next man up and bring it.

Well the Cavs showed it today and after their victory made statements that sounded like LeBron’s Nike commercial ” For them! For Cleveland! Together!”

Home is where the heart is. Home matters whether it’s looking at an old picture or overcoming obstacles in the wallet  to get back in time for the holidays or special events.

Home for a Clevelander is all of that and knowing those glory days heard from people who have gone on to be parents, grandparents , great grandparents and have departed but are very much a part of our hearts where they are still young, and very much alive.  It’s a tribute to them. It is a reminder for those who have waited for so long , all dreams take time and work, but never quit, and never give up!

And it will become an ushering in of a new day, a new era, and new beginning for a city, an area, and region that has changed with the times but never seems to waiver in what the rest of the world has forgotten. The value of loyalty, the power of a simple dream and that when you follow your heart it can lead you to something great.

Which may just be home.  Whether it’s your city, your family, or getting out of work a few minutes early to watch the game with your Parents and your kids. That city lettered on those jerseys, from the less shiny towns across the country, speaks volumes for the medium and small markets in one word HOME!

And THAT’S why it matters.

A Single Step

Just a Monday morning thought…

Operation Discovering Me

With a single step I can move forward.
I can move towards a destination.
I can overcome obstacles of pain or dismay.
I can move past hurt and distain.
I can forgive and forget.
I can celebrate joy.
With a single step I can give and receive.
I can honor and love.
I can embrace and give hugs.
I can let go of the past.
With a single step I can start a journey.
I can have an adventure.
I can take a chance.
I can receive blessings.
With a single step I say no to fear and hello to life.
I can be the who I long to be.
No one can take that single step but me!

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From Cleveland with Love, Thanks LeBron

There is no place like home!

Stiletto Stomping Sports

ClevelandCleveland, Ohio– 41° 29′ 57″ N / 81° 41′ 44″ W ,  Area code 216

On the shores of Lake Erie, County seat of Cuyahoga.

Being from Cleveland has been the greatest experience of my life.  Since the beginning of 2014 a strange event has been happening– the winds of change have finally hit the North Coast rolling up on to the shores of Lake Erie.  For nearly 50 years Cleveland has been starved for a return to greatness.  Anyone from here, no matter where they live now are the loyalist of a city that has seen more ups and downs from every aspect that life can throw faster then a Heater from Van Meter, a Bob Feller’s fastball.

People from outside of the area do not understand and sit in shock over the announcement from LeBron James. For those born after 1964 in the city will not remember the great days, nor do they care to…

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Dad’s Newpaper and His Portable Man Cave

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In the modern world a man has his special room called a man-cave.  Placed and held in high esteem, usually scattered everywhere are all the precious pieces of “junk” (as Mom calls it) that he endears and has stored. These new modern caves with the 60 inch flat screen LCD, HD, gaming systems and internet access televisions, that include enough sports paraphernalia to inundate the masculine senses with a euphoric high, grants the man of the house a lion’s den pride amongst all the modern reveals of interior design. Long before the modern standard in boys with toys comfort, there were a few simpler precursors that where once en vogue, well sort of.

Men, while they were still boys were a little more primitive in their needs and mud grimed clothes were the utmost in their fashion attire.  After all, “throw some dirt on it” is still a boys best medical lament.

Those early man-caves were called forts, tree houses and club houses. Incredible early marvels of construction made with used nails, scrap wood and a lot of “junk” (hmm Mom maybe onto something) they found from everywhere. Mother’s back in time believed that Tide, Whisk, All-Tempa-Cheer and Clorox  would relieve the stained fabrics of the newly bought starch white church shirt of  beastly grass, oil and dirt from their precious angel’s clothes.  Secretly, they counted on stains to catch little sweet Johnny in a lie of his where abouts.  Ah the days of innocence that forge a boy’s soul to manhood and the expectation for youthful males to demonstrate skills for the future.

I suspect boys, who grew up when my Dad did, never quite imagined what a discarded cardboard box, broken fence parts, mud splattered spackle and rusty nails of engineering could evolve to.  For once Dad was groomed to my mother he discovered all things male would be placed in the garage.  Yes the garage, tool bearing, oil smelling, trash can holding pre-modern versions of the Man-cave.  The other high-end domicile of masculinity was…wait for it…..wait for it……

“The John” why else would it be called with a male gender name? Oh yippee, (sigh) the pride of Charmin and the Sears’ catalogue. Do something wrong in our house and a stiff punishment could be having to clean up after a recent visit by the only male in our home.  If you saw Dad enter with the newspaper it could be awhile, better grab a clothes pin, Windex, scrub brush and gloves.  I looked more like a mad scientist preparing for a new experiment then someone who just hacked off Mom for not getting my book report done.

These two places varied in size and structure, both places did however, make Spanky and the gang’s He-man Women Haters Club look far more luxurious and, grand in splendor with the added bonus of being in a really cool tree.  I am also willing to bet to this day, Dad quietly wished over an hourglass for a Delorean that would transport him back to his first cave once my sister and I started driving.

What was truly ingenious of Dad was his portable man-cave.  Yes my dad, that wryly creative soul, discovered by carrying a newspaper everywhere, he could camouflage his secret desires to stealthily sneak off to see a man about a horse or tinker around in the garage with the other pioneers of pre-cave amenities for a quick beer and never being able to remember to take out the trash.  Simply said, this mild manner male figure of patriarchy, once seated at the dinner table in one smooth motion could miraculously disappear behind the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Never to be heard from unless a disagreement between the females ensued, the female gender canines begged too much or I said and did something that either invoked humor or evoked Mom, usually I could do both at the same time.

The black and white pages of boring stuff (as I referred to it) would shake up and down from his laughter.  If you need to get his attention just knock on the printed pages and you would hear a drawn out “yeeeesss?”  Sometimes if he was really deep into the man-cave of published fish wrap you might have to knock harder or comeback later, which usually meant he was going to stay out of it, or how much was it going to cost to replace.

The portable man-cave was Dad’s method of choice over the garage and the bathroom.  His deployment of the paper gave him the ability to listen to the on goings of his home, afforded him the title of king of the selective hearing and gave the appearance of being present.

Then he would always with out delay, fold the newspaper and comment on everything he heard.  He offered suggestions, asked questions and cautiously warned me to stop cutting up the paper for school until he had a chance to read it.  Many great moments with my Dad have and still are sitting around the kitchen table when I return home for the holidays.

Perhaps the greatest conversation was when I had pushed my luck too far with Mom.  His words have stayed with me like the coffee cans in the garage filled with rusty old nails.

“My darling child remember this; the choices you make now are the lessons you will learn later. Cherish each lesson the way that I cherish and love you.”

Just like a coffee can of old nails you don’t know why you have them but you never know when you are going to need them.  His words on that day didn’t make me feel better nor get me out of trouble, further I didn’t understand why he said what he said. All I knew was he loved me and wished me well in my choices.  Years later, those words can still bring me solace and have been a constant mantra while raising my own family. Like the old nails in the garage his words were waiting for me to use when I needed them.

Today the newspaper for Dad has been replaced by an IPad, he has his own study (still filled with junk according to Mom), he has more male support in the house with the dogs and grandsons who reside there.  Yet in his real cave, (his inner self) is the most precious gift that he gives to all of us regularly. The gift of his generous, loving and brilliant heart.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!  I love you with all my heart!

PS I am thinking of redoing the bathroom any suggestions?  Just kidding!