Time is a Flat circle… or a Hoop

Basketball is a young person’s sport. The average NBA career is 4.5 years. The average WNBA career lasts just 3.5 years.

But then there’s Taru Tuukkanen. Not only still playing in her native Finland, but winning championships… and being named the MVP of the finals with her 13-point, 13-rebound, 14-assist triple-double. Not bad for a 46-year-old.

Excerpt above and quotes below are from this nice feature on Taru by Shelby Dermer on Cincinnati.com. (Taru played college hoops at Xavier.)

Yes, Taru’s been blessed with good genes – she’s never had a major injury. But she also has the will to keep going.

“I have the passion and a crazy mind that I cannot get enough basketball, I understand it’s not normal at all for someone to still be able to do this.”  

Taru Tuukkanen

It’s not normal. But it’s certainly admirable. Taru found something she loved, and she kept at it. The games are the easy part… it’s the long hours of practice, with no cheering crowd, that require a higher level of commitment.

Most of us never play in front of a crowd. But whatever we do, we can only get better through the hard work. The long hours. The practice. Yes, we talkin’ ’bout practice…

You’ve gotta be willing to put in the work. And you will, if you love it enough.

“I’ll know when it’s time. I don’t want to play if I’m not good. As long as there’s a team that wants me and I feel like I can give something to them, then why not keep going?”  

Why not keep going? Words for every middle-aged person to embrace. And be the MVP in a league of their own.

Home is where the music is

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are coming over tonight.

[Photo credit: Michael Wilson]

We’re gonna hang out in the living room.

Oh, and 35 other folks — many of whom are complete strangers — will be coming over too.

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are members of the Cincinnati-based band Wussy. Weird name, brilliant music.

[Photo credit: Jerry Burck, Plan B images]

Wussy rocks! Tonight, they’re going to bring their amazing songwriting to life in an intimate setting. And that gets me right where I live.

The show is part of Chuck and Lisa’s house concert tour. A company called Undertow organizes these tours for Wussy and several other artists. They take care of ticket sales and all the other details. You can host a show… or see one. Check out the current roster here. In my email exchanges with Jayne from Undertow, I thanked her for what Undertow is doing to bring great artists to folks all over the country. Her response:

She’s right, I do give a damn about artists like Mark, Lisa, and Chuck. (They also happen to be super-kind human beings… a huge bonus!)

Music is my happy place. Home is where the heart is. Tonight, I get the best of both worlds. It’s gonna be beautiful.

I’m a Quitter

I set a goal to read 52 books this year – one a week. And I was crushing it. 18 weeks into the year, I’ve got 17 books under my belt.

But I’m bailing out on my books goal.

I’m taking a page from Kenny Roger’s book (ha!) and knowing when to fold ’em.

Why? Because it was an Arbitrary Stupid Goal (also the title of a great book by Tamara Shopsin).

But mainly because I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner. I’ve always preferred short stories (Ray Bradbury is my hero) and short, medium, and long articles.

I subscribe to The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Cincinnati Magazine. And those issues have been piling up in my “to read” stack. I also like reading the Sunday paper. I was basically trading reading timely content for reading timeless content. There’ll be time enough for the latter — to paraphrase Kenny Rogers — when the dealing’s done. And the guilt of not reading the magazines and papers was outweighing the joy I got from the books.

I’ll still read plenty this year – including more books. But reading should bring me joy, not baggage. And I’ve learned that it’s OK to walk away.

[This post is approved by the ghost of Kenny Rogers.]

Here and Gone

Our youngest kid finished up his freshman year at Indiana University a couple of days ago. He came home yesterday. I use the term “came home” very loosely. I saw him for all of five minutes. He’s got other priorities now. Off to see his girlfriend. Home for about five minutes to change clothes, then off to play volleyball with his friends. Then to a friend’s house to watch a movie and hang out. This old man was long asleep when he came rolling home.

He’s already made plans to spend Memorial Day Weekend with his Hoosier friends from Indianapolis. They’re going to the Indy 500.

I feel like he’s already IN the Indy 500 – racing here, racing there… rarely making a pit stop at home. It’s part of the growth process, I know. But it’s still tough when you become a bit player in your baby boy’s life. He’s more “gone” than “here.”

The child born at dawn,
By evening has moved on, grey and gone

Buffalo Tom “Here I Come”

I know life is fleeting. I just wish the pace car went a little slower. Instead, I’ll have to cherish the pit stops.

The Grateful Alive

This past Sunday, I went to the initial “Grateful Gathering” in Cincinnati. It was organized and led by my friend and co-worker Susan Jackson.

It was just 14 folks at a coffee shop, chatting. Actually it was much more than that. Thanks to Susan’s prompts from the Grateful Gatherings guide, the conversation got pretty deep quite quickly.

Sharing with strangers can be daunting. And the whole concept may seem a little too “woo-woo” for you.

I get it. Getting deep with people you just met at a coffee shop may not be your cup of tea.

But this Grateful Dude is here for it… all of it. Anything that adds more positivity to the world is much-needed these days.

Here’s the welcome session video:

“Everyone will be blessed by you, just by your presence”

Next session is Sunday, June 30, 10 a.m. at Moonflower Coffee Collective. Please join. I’ll be grateful if you do. And even if you don’t!

Welcome to the Working Week

Our son Peter starts his first “real job” today. He just left the house a few minutes ago, passport and Social Security card in hand (gotta have those W-9 docs).

The job market’s been tight, and this day has been a long time coming. But it’ll be merely a blip on the radar over the course of his career.

His gig’s at The Cincinnati Insurance Companies (plural). They’ve been around for a long time and are well-respected. Peter could be there 20 months or 20 years. Doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this is just another step on the road to “adulting.”

You have your family, your school friends… and then your work friends. Some of the folks he meets in the days and weeks to come could become people he stays in touch with 40 years from now. That’s pretty cool. Oh, and earning a salary is a nice perk too.

Welcome to the working week!

Oh my Pod!

It’s not my podcast, actually. It’s the podcast that Dave Tellmann and I do… or did, rather. But we’re still hauling in the hardware (“we’d like to thank the members of the academy…”) and reaping the accolades (“none of this would’ve been possible without your support…”).

The latest shout-out came courtesy of Cincinnati CityBeat.

Our “97X Rumblings from the Big Bush” podcast has run its course. (We did do a bonus episode recently after Mojo Nixon passed away.) But maybe a few more fans of the station will find their way to our little ol’ show. Which is the point.

“Rumblings” has a lot in common with a kid’s fort.

You can tell a lot of time and effort went into the construction of it, but it’s still clearly quite amateur. And that’s OK. For the few folks that tuned in, it was a time capsule from a time in their lives when the music and the people who shared it mattered a great deal to them. Those connections still matter.

We appreciate the recognition from CityBeat. Now if you’ll excuse us, Dave and I have to go put on our tuxedos for the awards ceremony.

“And They’re Off!”

Last Thursday, Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I went down to Keeneland with our freighbors (friends/neighbors) Whit and Barb.

Keeneland is a horse racing track in Lexington, KY. A fancy one. Pastoral. Fewer folks betting their rent money, and more well-heeled folks with designer clothing and “fascinator” hats. Bluebloods in Bluegrass country. But they still let in riff-raff like us, as long as we pony up (ha!) the $7 general admission fee.

My wife and I have a mini bucket list with Whit and Barb. It started during pandemic. Nothing elaborate – no overseas excursions, no skydiving. Just random stuff nearby that we’ve always wanted to do. Like take a weekday off from work to go bet on the ponies.

It was raining buckets when we left in the morning. And the forecast called for severe thunderstorms in the afternoon. But a soggy day at the track beats a dry day at the office.

On sunny weekend days, Keeneland is packed with the “see and be seen” crowd, along with a heaping helping of University of Kentucky frat boys and sorority sisters. Great for people-watching, but stuffed and stuffy. (Those giant hats really block your view of the track!) Weekdays are a better — pardon the pun — bet.

We tailgated in the parking lot… which is actually a field. (Joni Mitchell would love it!)

The “Thunderstorm Thursday” weather kept a lot of folks away, so there were no lines at the windows (and at the beer booths). We could be true “railbirds.”

We met an elderly man from Dayton and his two middle-aged sons, who were there on a father/son trip. Nice folks.

And despite the ominous forecast, the sun actually broke through in the afternoon for a couple of hours.

We cashed a few tickets… it was usually enough to recoup the $8 that we bet on one race and spend it on the next one. We probably went home $20 lighter. And 1,000% richer for having spent a fun day with good friends.

Not every vacation has to be elaborate. Not every bucket list item has to be exotic. Sometimes a random, rainy Thursday is all you need for some rejuvenation.

(These jockeys didn’t make any money for us, but they were super-friendly.)

Grateful for the Chance…

There are many times I question the “wisdom” of crafting blog posts for a blog that few* people read.

*4-6 folks, roughly, although that staggering number drops precipitously if you subtract relatives.

Any objective observer would consider it a waste of time and money. I should just buy a journal and write in that. Same readership, without the hassle and expense of maintaining a web presence. (Believe it or not, I actually have to PAY for the highly coveted, much-sought-after domain name of “dubbatrubba.com.”)

But then I get a note like this from my friend and co-worker:

Wow! So one of my trivial posts on my silly little blog actually played a very tiny role in helping kickstart something that will bring more gratefulness and joy into the world? I’m flabbergasted! (And flabby too… probably from too much time sitting on my butt blogging.)

Here’s more about the event:

Grateful Gatherings are monthly conversations with purpose, designed by Grateful Living and hosted by people like Harmony co-president Susan Jackson who have completed their training program. Each month we’ll be exploring the transformative practice of grateful living, using the resources provided by Grateful Living. Our monthly topics will include things like: Say Yes to JoyWelcome ImperfectionNavigate GriefReimagine RestAwaken to Awe, and Act with Courage.

Suddenly all those countless hours spent blogging seem worthwhile. Especially if we’re grading success on the Emerson scale:

Susan’s first Grateful Gathering will take place on Sunday, April 28, at 10 a.m. at Moonflower Coffee Collective in Sharonville. Damn right I’ll be there! Because I’m forever grateful that Susan read some silly little blog post in the first place.

This is just the incentive I needed to continue with my blog posts! It’s so much better than the usual feedback I receive, which falls into one of two categories:

Angels Among us

I went to a memorial service for my friend John’s mom a few days ago. John did the eulogy. He said at the very start that there should really be two eulogies.

Eulogy #1: His mom, Sandy, was a children’s hospice nurse for 35 years. Full stop.

Sure, there was much more to her — and John covered that territory beautifully in Eulogy #2 — but that single sentence sums up a life well-lived, in service to others in their darkest hours of need. Most of us wouldn’t last a day in that gig. The fact that she did it for 35 years surely has earned her the express ticket to heaven.

Not every nurse is as kind and caring as Sandy was. But every day, in hospitals, nursing homes, care centers — and even on battlefields — there are nurses who answer the call. Usually for long shifts, typically for less pay than folks who don’t have to deal with life-and-death situations.

From a baby’s first breath to a grandparent’s final breath, nurses heed the call to provide care and comfort. It’s messy. It’s taxing. It can be harrowing. They deserve our praise (and a raise!).

(The obituary for Nurse Sandy is here. Next time you’re having a bad day at work, read it over. You’ll gain a new perspective on what a “bad day” really is. )

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