About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alex Gordon, Len Dawson, and Defeating Adversity

© 2015/ Jamie Squire, Getty Images. 
Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
It was a Wednesday night, the 8th of July, just before the All Star break.  The Royals were in first place in their division, proud owners of the best record in the American League, and the second-best in baseball behind only that other team from Missouri.  But in the space of less than a minute, everything went sideways.  Tampa Bay Rays' Logan Forsythe launched a drive to deep left field.  Alex Gordon, as he has done so many times before, took off in pursuit.  Usually such a play ends with the ball in Gordon's glove as he slams into the wall.  But this time, as he approached the wall, he tried to pull up.  And then he went down.  I, along with a few tens of thousands of other Royals' fans listened, quite fearfully, as it appeared at the moment he may have suffered a season-ending, if not a career-ending injury.  Later, we were told that what we initially thought might be a blown knee or broken leg, has been diagnosed as a grade-2 strained groin muscle. This is a painful and serious injury to be sure, but one that has a better and brighter light at the end of the dark tunnel of his absence from the lineup.
In the hours following that moment, I endured my worst fears. But out of the depths of the past came a memory of September 1969. The Chiefs were off and running on what every instinct in your body knew was going to be The Year. Then Len Dawson went down with a knee injury.   All the hopes and dreams for a season of glory seemed to have collapsed.  At least for the fans.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Hiking, Part 26


Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

It was a typical Virginia summer day.  Which is to say very hot, oppressively humid, not usually a good day for hiking.  But there was no severe weather in the forecast, which has not been the case in the two-and-a-half weeks since we returned from Paris.  After perusing some options, we decided to go east instead of west, heading into, or at least close to D.C. to tackle the Mount Vernon Trail

The Trail is a paved multi-use path running from Alexandria down to George Washington's Mt. Vernon estate.  Usually, a trail like this includes the risk of running afoul bicyclists who, in their minds, believe they're on part of the Tour de France.  I've run into (or more accurately, been run into) by users of this ilk while running the W&OD trail through Vienna. With this in mind, I decided to put in at Fort Hunt Park, a good 14 miles south of DC proper.  I'm not the only one who shares this opinion.  Websites like Yelp are full of caustic and vitriolic comments about the few racers who frequent this trail, all of whom are universally described by a rather earthy word that begins with D.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Normandy


Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

The overcast which had been persistent all morning was reluctantly giving way.  The sun pierced the clouds occasionally, the light giving color to the land.  It was cool and breezy, but this was June.  And this was Normandy.

Places where violent death has occurred have the same feel.  There is a quiet that is somber, yet meaningful.  The same atmosphere exists in places like Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shanksville, PA, where a group of airline passengers fought the first battle in the War on Terror.  These are places where heroism was defined; where violence and valor defined the day.

We stood atop the windy bluff, my wife and I, looking down onto what, on another June day, had been designated Beach Easy Green.  It was a bit of a misnomer, "Easy" being the phonetic expression for the letter "E".  In truth, there was nothing easy about that beach on June 6, 1944.  Today, we stood and watched as the waters of the English Channel whispered across the sand.  In the quiet, we contemplated the meaning of courage.

71 years and 13 days previous, the quiet morning was rent by the roar of tens of thousands of guns, from officers' pistols to the giant naval rifles of the battleships.  By the hundreds, landing craft hit the beaches, dropped their ramps, and for the first time in that war, Allied soldiers poured into Europe.  

Superbly trained thought they were, only a few were professional soldiers.  They were coal miners and cab drivers; farmers and financial managers; college students and cowboys.  Also present in abundance were the boys fresh out of high school who would today lose their lives before they had even started. Some were cut down inside the landing craft, sawed by German automatic weapons before their boots even touched the sand.  Some died on the sprint across the beach, others as they courageously fought to open the beach exits.  Still others would die on  the uplands behind the wall of pillboxes and emplacements, including the Airborne troopers who had jumped in the night before, some of them executed in their chutes as they mistakenly dropped into the charnel house of Ste. Mer Eglise.  

But others -- many, many others -- would survive.  They would cross the beaches, climb the hills, kill the enemy and start that long, bloody march that would end 10 months later in a ruined city called Berlin.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Day 4 -- Paris Again

 Eglise du Dome Church

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

This was our first day on our own, with the departure of our son's family for Korea.  It's always sad to be away from grandchildren when you've gotten used to having them around.  But, this was vacation, so we soldiered on, albeit with slightly empty hearts.

We decided to take a bus tour, as it would be the best way to see the most sites in the least amount of time.  We went online and bought tickets, which we printed out at the computer in the hotel lobby.  Taking the train in, we debarked at the station nearest the Notre Dame Cathedral.  According to the map we had, it should have only been a block to where we could pick up the GO-GO (Get On, Get Off) bus.  Easier said than done.  It took the better part of an hour to locate the stop.  It didn't help that neither the website or the flyer off the website showed what signs to look for.  After chasing those yellow busses up and down the streets, criss-crossing the Seine several times, we finally found the proper signage.  After a few minutes, the bus came by.  We presented our vouchers to the driver, who gave us back our tickets, a very informational flyer, and--lo and behold--a map of all the stops.  It would have been nice if that had been on the website.

We were issued earphones, those rock-hard earbuds that simply don't fit my ears.  The plug-ins were against the outer wall of the bus, which meant the cord (never long enough) had to stretch across my seat-mate, an elderly lady who regarded me with barely concealed contempt.  An American, of course.

Once settled on the upper deck, I was able to sit back and enjoy the city as it rolled past.  The heavy traffic meant that the bus was going slow enough to make picture-taking a fairly easy task.  The day was picture perfect, the sky a clear and beautiful blue and the sun pleasantly warm.  As much as I enjoyed the ride, the earphones made it difficult to understand much of what was being said.  Still, Paris is a beautiful thing to behold, even if you don't know what you're looking at.