A to Z Challenge Reflections 2020

I hadn’t originally planned on participating in the A to Z challenge this year. I hadn’t really been blogging at all since midsummer and when the school years started I was working 60 to 70 hours a week at a movie theater and as a substitute teacher. And even though I had a week off school for Spring break our family had a number of activities planned for that week. Planning 26 entries for mu blog was probably the furthest thing from my mind.

Then in quick succession my spring break was lengthened to two weeks, the movie theater temporarily closed , and all the spring break activities we had planned were postponed or cancelled all due to pandemic concerns. Sometimes during those 2 weeks came a stay at home order and all of a sudden I had time on my hands.

During those weeks I did a lot of relaxing and even amid all the anxiety really enjoyed my family and my new found free time. I rediscovered reading blogs for pleasure and while I pondered whether I might be able to find work to replace my “nonessential” jobs, I decided not to look until March 30th, which would have been the Monday I was supposed to come back from Spring Break. It was at that point I decided to sign up for the A to Z challenge.

My theme for last years challenge was the movie music of the Sherman Brothers. It was a bit of a complex process as I would have a video of the song, the lyrics from the song and my reflections or remembrance from the movie. It was complex but each post had a very predictable pattern. I also had prepared many of the submissions in advance of April 1st. By choice or necessity that was all different this year.

I chose a topic Capitals and put my own Random twist on it. I chose New York’s capital Albany as my A entry and wrote about a visit to Baseball’s Hall of fame a few years back. The Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, not Albany. While my son and I did stay in Albany for a few days on the trip the articles main focus was not Albany.

Most every entry was like that. Quito is the capital of Ecuador. The missionaries Jim and Elisabeth Elliot were married in Quito, I’ll write about them. It was much less about capitals and more about free association derived from Capitals. I tried as much as I could to tell about myself and so you might not know anymore about Pierre, South Dakota than you did before, but hopefully you know a little more about me.

Going back to my sudden inclusion into the ranks of the unemployed for a moment, I actually viewed it as a bit of a sabbatical. I had set a date of March 30th to start looking for work, I expected that this could take quite a bit of time. The truth now was that on the 30th, I heard about a job, applied for that job, was interviewed and hired for that job in about a 6 hour period.

I thought the job would be restocking a grocery store on the over night shift 2 or 3 times a week. Which would give me plenty of time for my family, volunteer activities and the challenge. It turned out the job was 5 to 6 times a week giving me less time than I thought I would have had. Also changing my sleep patterns really did a bit of a number on my whole creative process and also got in the way of deadlines. On three different times I had to catch up on my posts after missing the natural deadline of the calendar.

Generally one of my favorite parts of the a to z challenge is how it involves me in the blog-o-sphere. I love reading and interacting with other peoples blogs. This year I did far less of that than I hoped to. Now that I am no longer obligated to post every day, I hope to catch up on some of that reading and commenting.

I will start by spending some time to look at some reflection posts. If you are interested in checking these out, click here. I am already looking forward to next years challenge. I have an idea that will be very time intensive and will take months of preparation. I thought of it last year, but by December , I knew there would be no way to implement it this year. This is what is known in the entermation (a synonym I just created for infotainment) field as a tease.

I’ll end this piece with a bit of an announcement. 11 years ago I began my blogging journey with a blog called Home School Dad. I did over 700 posts there from 2009 to 2012 another 100 from 2013 to 2016 and its essentially laid dormant for the last 3+ years. I recently decided to bring this blog out of mothballs. I will still be posting here as well, but I imagine that HSD will again become my flagship. I spent a few hours this evening adjusting the format. If you check it out by clicking here, you will always see a link to my most recent Random Acts of Roller entry, which of course will be this entry. Thanks for everyone stopping by from the challenge. I hope achieving a new normal after the challenge and in this crazy covid situation is fun and fulfilling.

Capital L Lansing

3 states have capital cities that begin with L. Arkansas has Little Rock, Nebraska has Lincoln. These did not make the cut, as I went with Lansing Michigan. Lansing is the nearest state capital to where I live of a state that does not border my own. There are parts of Michigan, I can get to in about 2 hours. Lansing takes a little longer.

Yesterdays fact filled trip to Kaskaskia was unusual for me. Because it was actually about Kaskaskia. You may have noticed that mostly I use these state capitals as a starting off point for a topic that is often near and dear to my heart. Today’s subject is minor league baseball.

Lansing is the home of the Lansing Lugnuts which plays in the Midwest League. They are a Single A affiliate of the Toronto Bluejays. Previous to that they were aligned with the Chicago Cubs and previous to that they were with the Kansas City Royals organization when the team began in 1996.

The Lugnuts have a mascot and they even have a fight song. The lyrics are available here. Listen by clicking here. To see more a to z challenge click here. To see my 2014 a to z entry click on Late Late Show.

.

Capital C Columbia

Today’s choice of capital cities was very easy for me as Columbia, South Carolina is the only capital I have ever called my home. I lived there between 1995 and 1997. I left Columbia to pursue the great love of my life, Amy with whom I will celebrate 22 years of marriage on the Saturday before Easter.

While in Columbia, I discovered another great love, The Krispy Kreme donut.

One of the best things about the Krispy Kreme Donut beyond the flaky creamy tenderness found in every bite is the Krispy Kreme donut shop itself especially the cascading waterfall of glaze, which I renamed the wall of glaze. Eventually The Wall of Glaze came to mean the Krispy Kreme itself.

The Wall of Glaze

I am something of a song writer. I say something since I can only carry a tune in a bucket and I so seldom have a bucket with me. It’s often on a list of things I need, but hardly there when I make up songs.

So in the Fall of 1995 I was driving to a job interview and I made up a song about a relationship that takes place over several years but entirely in a Krispy Kreme Donut shop. I named it of course ,The Wall of Glaze.

I sang the lyrics to my friend Jeff. But because I did not bring my bucket with me that day, he recognized it as more of a 50’s do -wop song and not the Bob Seger like ballad I intended it as. He performed it at a campus function and probably promptly forgot about it. It has lingered with me these 25 years and I endeavor to share it with you now.

Here are the lyrics …

The Wall of Glaze Lyrics by Dave Roller Music by Jeff Half Dozen (actually Jeff Six, but half dozen has a more donut themed approach)

It was our first date On a Friday night.
She got a blueberry donut and a medium Sprite
She looked so good and I stood amazed
That I could lose my heart 
At the wall of glaze.
At the Krispy Kreme
At the Wall of Glaze
Just a memory
of my younger days
Of how she looked so good
And how I stood amazed
That I could lose my heart
At The Wall of Glaze .

End of senior year 
Going separate ways 
I was off to the army
Her to the college daze
We promised to write every week 
It would be like we never went away  
How we cried and cried at The Wall of Glaze.

At the Krispy Kreme  
At The Wall of Glaze
 Just a memory 
Of my younger days 
Of how we promised to write every week 
It would  seem like we never went away 
But the tears fell like rain 
At The Wall of Glaze

Well you know the story
 Left a boy came back a man 
I wrote her in my letters 
Things I still don't understand
 Oh my love for her just grew and grew 
I was longing for that day 
When I'd ask for her hand 
At The Wall of Glaze

So on a Friday night 
Got down on my knees 
Put a ring on her finger
 Said will you marry me please 
She said I'm sorry 
But you were just a passing phase 
And she broke my heart 
At The Wall of Glaze

At the Krispy Kreme 
At The Wall of Glaze 
It's the end of the story
 Not the starting page 
I put a ring on her finger
 She said "Boy, you're just a phase" 
And she broke my heart 
At The Wall of Glaze 


(Poignant Musical Interlude) 

Now I sit alone 
On a Friday night 
With a blueberry donut 
And it don't feel right 
I know I shouldn't be here 
But I feel trapped in a cage 
Since she broke my heart 
At The Wall of Glaze

 At the Krispy Kreme 
Called The Wall of Glaze
 Just a memory Of my younger days 
I know I shouldn't be here
 I feel trapped in a cage 
since I lost my heart, 
since she broke my heart, 
now that we're apart 
At The Wall of Glaze.

For more of the A to Z challenge click here. To see my 2015 entry on C is for Comiskey Park click here.

Capital A Albany

Hall of Fame Weekend 2014

It is time for the A to Z challenge 2020. My theme is Capitals .

Mostly current state capitals but I do plan on using some country capitals and old state capitals where there are no current state capitals with that letter. There are plenty of State Capitals that begin with A Anchorage was a definite consideration but only because today is April 1st and Juneau that Anchorage is not the capital of Alaska.

Other legitimates A’s are Anapolis, Austin, Atlanta and Augusta. I did not go with any of those. I went with Albany the capital of New York.

Since this is the first day of the challenge let me explain the rationelle of why I pick crtain capitals over others. Each capital I choose is more of a touchstone to something significant to me and my family that may have very little to do with my actual post. Albany is no exception.

I chose Albany because it reminds be of Baseball’s hall of Fame.

Branch Rickey

Hey Wait a minute. You are probably thinking babseball’s hall of fame is in Cooperstown not Albany ,and you would be right. Let me just back up a little.

Frank Thomas memorabilia on display at Hall of Fame

In 2014 Frank Thomas, along with Greg Maddux Tony Larussa, Joe Torre, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox were elected into the Hall of Fame. Frank Thomas is one of my most favorite players and I had been hoping for years to go see him inducted if he ever was inducted to the hall.

At about the same time that Franks was being voted in in Januar of 2014, my Dad was having a quadruple bypass operation. Much of my love baseball comes from my Dad. The first game he ever went to was at County stadium in Milwaukee, wisconsin where he watched Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers play the Milwaukee Braves. Life is short I decided. I planned an intergenerational family trip for my Dad, brother, nephew and Son. 3 of them ended up declining my offer but my SOn Charlie and I went. By the time other family members had backed out there wasn’t a lot of local accomodations available. So Charlie and I decided to stay in, wait for it, Albany and drive the 90 minutes (one way) or so each day into Cooperstown.

It was an amazing trip. We drove up through Canada into Buffalo stopping briefly at Niagara Falls and then going back the next morning and exploring it more thoroughly before driving into Albany.

Niagara Falls


WWe didnt spend a lot of time in Albany we got there late and left there early. On our last night we did continue a family tradtion of trying to bowl in every state in the U.S. That night trying to bowl was the correct term as we didn’t break 100 until the final frame and that was his and my combined score.

There’s no Bowling in Baseball.

The next day we left Albany for good and went back to Cooperstown for the induction speeches.




Frank’s Speech

It was an amazing trip. So many things we did that I haven’t even mentioned and Albany has so little to do with it. But when I think of the Capital of New York I always think of the Capital time Charlie and I had Hall of Fame Weekend 2014.

This is not my first trip to the A to Z Challenge. You can get back to the Challenge by clicking here. You can see my A entry from 2019 when my theme was the music of the Sherman Brothers by clicking on Spoonful.

The best game I never watched and why I no longer regret it.

Thursday July 23, 2009 was a typical summer day for the Roller family at that juncture of our lives. Emma was at the library and we had friends from our home school co-op over for a play date. That particular day Fred Prasil had brought his son Danny and daughter Ashleigh over who were close to the ages of my son Charlie and my daughter Lucy.

At the time I was the only full time home schooling Dad I knew but Fred Prasil was the closest thing to that. Fred and I had many things in common. We were both married to wonderful women named Amy who both worked full time in the public schools. We were both avid White Sox fans and could talk for hours and hours about sports.

Fred and I were the only men who taught at the co-op at the time. Fred taught art and gym classes where he was known as coach Fred. His paying job was also teaching gymnastics and other classes. He and his Amy would split the homeschooling duties at their house.

This particular Thursday was no different than the many times I had spent with Fred. The boys played light sabers and legos, the girls played princesses and Fred and I talked sports and held court on a variety of subjects.

I bet we mostly talked about the White Sox as it was the heart of baseball season. We didn’t think of switching on the radio and seeing how our beloved team was faring against Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays. We were enjoying each other’s company too much to think of it.

While we weren’t thinking of it, this was happening on the south side of Chicago…

Yes my favorite White Sox pitcher threw a perfect game and me the die hard White Sox fan that I am missed every single pitch because I was too busy talking White Sox with another die hard fan.

I didn’t realize the perfect game had happened until Fred and his kids had left and Charlie and I drove to pick up Emma from the library. We stopped at the Mcdonalds drive through on the way to the library and I turned the radio on to see if I could catch the end of the game. The post game was already on and people were already calling in to talk about the game. This happens at the end of every game, so it’s not unusual. What was unusual was the type of comments people were making and how excited everybody including the announced clearly was. It took me a few calls to realize what had happened.

At that point I got super excited, started switching channels to find out that Chicago was buzzing with the news. I got my food and drove home. I got out of the car and started telling Amy all about the game, but before I could get too far, she asked, “Where’s Emma?”

I had gotten so excited about the perfect game, that I had forgotten my daughter at the library! This was the reason I had left the house in the first place. Emma was eventually picked up and all was fine.

Or was it? For the next 9 1/2 years Fred Prasil , myself and Mark Buehrle’s perfect fame were inextricably linked together. If I saw Fred, I would think of the perfect game. If I saw Buehrle I would think about that day and how Fred and I could have been listening to the game while we hung out.

A few years after that Fred left the co-op but our families would still get together from time to time. Ashleigh and Lucy were in the same Awana program for a few years and last November I ran into Amy Prasil and Danny at Walmart and found that Fred had some interest in returning to our co-op. I was very excited and talked to Fred a week later and was glad to hear that he would be rejoining the co-op.

A very short time after that Fred died of a heart attack while he was coaching gymnastics. Like any sudden unexpected death it shocked everyone in the Prasil’s orbit. I went from anticipating weekly time with my friend to grieving his loss overnight.

Danny and Ashleigh were able to return to the co-op this year where they have been able to reestablish old friendships and grow new ones. I may not have seen Fred every week in co-op as I had hoped but I was able to see him in them.

And Mark Buehrle and my perfect game regret? I no longer have it. I still think of Fred when I see anything Buehrle related and think of him especially today on the 10th anniversary. But I would not change the day I spent with Fred on July 23, 2009 in any way (I would pick up Emma earlier. ) I always taught my kids that people are more important than things. The perfect game was really a thing, Time spent with friends and the memories they produce now that is as perfect as you can get here on Earth.

But Fred is not here on Earth. Like me, Fred was a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Fred is in heaven right now enjoying an eternal relationship with his creator and savior. There is nothing more perfect than that!