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 H Honolulu

4 state capitals begin with the letter H: Harrisburg, PA, Hartford, CT, Helena, MT and of course Honolulu, HI. I chose Honolulu not because it’s the only state of the 4 I haven’t been to but because of its role as a mnemonic device.

As part of teaching our home schooled children the state capitals we have often made up and employed mnemonic devices. We ask questions like Whats the capital of Alaska (You know … Juneau) or Who’s the Boss of Massachusetts ? (Boston). Our youngest daughter is name Lucy and we used to call her LuLu. So that’s how we remember Hawaii’s capital by emphasizing the lulu in Honolulu.

I want to take this time to remind the readers that the purpose of my theme is not to give you many or any great insights on the capitals but to randomly riff on the capitals and in so tell you more about me and my family than stuff you can already find on Wikipedia.

For more (and probably better) a to z to challenge posts click here.

To see my first A to Z H post click on 2012 the first year I participated.

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!