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Monday, April 9, 2001

It's too bad Mom was sick yesterday, because if she'd been able to go to dinner with us there would have been three people to share the bottle of wine instead of just two. I felt great last night, but I would probably feel a little better this morning if not for the extra portions. We had the Chalk Hill sauvignon blanc, if you're interested.

It was Suzanne and I who shared the wine. John and Suzanne took me out to dinner for my birthday at Café da Vero in Sebastopol, a place I recommend highly. I had prawns in a cream sauce, and Grand Marnier cheesecake for dessert. And a couple of glasses of wine. It was a secret where we were going, until I whined that I didn't know what to wear. Then Suzanne told me.

David was there also. Eric couldn't make it, because he's in Las Vegas for the weekend, celebrating his own birthday with people much younger than I am. David is going to make birdhouses for the tops of the wooden fence posts around my yard. He was going to get me a birdbath but couldn't find one that suited him. He's been doing landscape design in his parents' yard since he was a kid, so I'd trust his judgment that the available birdbaths are unworthy.

He gave me a choice of waiting for him to find a decent one, or having him make the birdhouses. Since I wouldn't be able to make a birdhouse with a kit, let alone from scratch, I chose that. Some day I'll have birdbath, too.

Along with the dinner (which would have been an excellent birthday gift all by itself), Suzanne and John gave me the outdoor furniture that I was just about ready to go out and buy for myself. A patio table and four chairs. Green. Perfect.

Mom has a cold, or something that acts like a cold in some ways but not others. We're not sure what it is, just some kind of virus. She's getting better, but she wasn't quite up to going out last night.

The bubble in her eye, by the way is gone. She's seeing better than she did before her surgery, and after she sees the doctor again next month she should be getting new glasses and seeing better than ever. And I mean that literally, better than she ever has in her life. It's kind of a miracle, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it works out as we hope.

The day after my birthday is always a letdown, but when it falls on a Monday it's more like being dropped suddenly into a swamp. Besides the usual money juggling and paper pushing, I had to deal with today being the Boss's first day back at his desk after a week and a half on the road.

Some parts of the job are solely his province. I can't do any estimating or material ordering, and I'm not an engineer so I can't do the designing. He does all that, and I try to do as much of the rest as I can. So when something comes up at his end that he doesn't want to deal with, he'll call or fax and dump it on me. That's fine, except when it happens All Day Long. On a Monday. After a big lethargy-inducing meal. Then it gets to be kind of a nuisance after a while.

the latest appearance in the garden

I wasn't going to write about baseball again so soon, but I had tears in my eyes this morning over a player who personified the kind of class and competitiveness that makes the game such a big part of my life. I tuned into Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh to watch the opening ceremony for the new PNC Park, only to learn that Willie Stargell had died this morning.

The station was replaying the closing ceremony for Three Rivers Stadium last October, when Stargell threw the last pitch and was greeted with the loudest ovation of all the Pirate players, past and present. He was a great slugger and a man beloved by his teammates and the fans, for his warm personality and positive attitude. In these days when no one wants to be a role model, the mantle came naturally to him. And he truly loved the city of Pittsburgh.

Willie Stargell actually spent some time here in Santa Rosa, playing ball one year at Santa Rosa Junior College. He grew up in Oakland, a great baseball town that gave the world players like Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson. But he will always be identified with Pittsburgh, and a statue of him stands outside the new ballpark. It's a statue he'll never see, because he was too ill to attend the unveiling this weekend.

And I have to say that from what I could see, PNC Park is a beautiful place. It's an intimate ballpark overlooking the Allegheny River, built specifically to keep the Pirates from leaving town. That might not be the best way for a city to spend its money, but losing the Pittsburgh Pirates would have cost the National League a big part of its history and tradition.

I'm just a baseball fan, way on the other side of the country, so I don't have the local perspective, just the view of someone who likes to watch men play a game on real grass with wooden bats. Right now it's making Pittsburgh look like a city worth visiting, even more than before. We have a beautiful new park in San Francisco, but PNC Park is another jewel. (It's just too bad the Pirates couldn't have played better on opening day.)

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