The May Family  
The May Family; Garland, Texas


30 June 2004


Word reached us today that the RSI 10U baseball team on which Collin participated this summer, the Yankees, have won the Sportsmanship Award for the 2004 season. The qualifications for this award are obvious: they were a new team; the team was comprised mostly of boys who had never played baseball before; and they did not win any games. Through all of this both the team and the coach epitomized the values of good sportsmanship and fair play. Neither bad calls by the officials nor bad breaks for the team itself reduced its members to arguments or tantrums.

We congratulate Collin, the Yankees, and their coach, Stanley Arnold, on the achievement of this award. They have all learned a great deal this season and have grown in both skill and character as a result. There is no doubt that all will be better off as the result of this shared experience.

24 June 2004

Hit the showers

With the completion of last night's double-header, Collin's 10U RSI baseball season came to an end. With three at-bats, he had a base hit between first and second as well as a hefty pop fly toward left field. Unfortunately the latter resulted in an out. Nevertheless, the effort was golden.

This was his first experience playing on an organized baseball team. In fact, it was pretty much his first experience playing organized baseball. Regardless, he has shown great improvement over his performance at the beginning of the season. All-in-all he seems to have had a good two months.

All of the boys have exhibited great progress over the past sixty days. When they began that first weekend in May, it was like watching the Bad News Bears. Few could bat and fewer still could catch. Even though they won no games all season, the improvement was noticeable.

One has to give much of the credit to the coach, Stanley Arnold. It takes a rare individual to exhibit the patience necessary to guide a group of inexperienced nine and ten year-olds through the process of learning a sport. By the end of the season, it was obvious that his endurance and leadership had led to much improvement. In fact, there were a few games where, even though they lost, the final score was much closer.

Kids love an audience and Collin is no different. Elizabeth, Oberon and Herman made the effort to attend every game. Only work commitments or the weather prevented one or more from doing so. There were also cameo appearances by several relations. In town for a wedding the following evening, Marion, Sandy, Jen, and Christopher all attended the 20 May game. Kristie and Mark attended yesterday's double-header. All showed great enthusiasm for Collin and the team in general.

Collin has already indicated a desire to play again next year. Being in the fifth grade, he will qualify to participate on his school team, the Saint Paul Packers. Elizabeth and Herman plan to work with him over the coming months to build on the base that he acquired through participation in the RSI league. His improvement is easy to see.

Congratulations, Collin, on a fruitful season!

20 June 2004

Family truckster

Families grow; ours is no exception. It has become increasingly obvious over the past eighteen months or so that our aging VW Jetta was simply not going to last much longer as primary means of transport.

We have been researching our options for the past year or so. Given the level of satisfaction that Kristie and Mark have enjoyed with their Toyota Highlander, we have been focusing our analysis of that model and vendor. With full intent of simply browsing and "kicking the tires", we visited a local dealer and instead drove away with a new vehicle ... and it was not a Highlander.

Yesterday marked one week since our purchase of a 2004 Toyota Sienna. We had looked at the Sienna as an option of a few occasions, but Elizabeth was leery of the "soccer mom" stigma associated with minivans. Herman, OTOH, had fond memories of the family conversion van of his youth as well as the Ford Econoline owned by his friend Mike in high school.

As fate would have it, when we got to the dealer we found that they had no Highlanders on the main lot. However, they did have five Siennas. Three had been tagged as sold and two were available for a look. Needing to go to the remote lot anyway, to visit the Highlander stockade, the sales rep suggested that we test drive the Sienna en route. Taking a round-about course, it did not take Elizabeth long to become enamoured with the Sienna. In fact, she said, "I don't think we need to drive the Highlander".

Our decision was cemented when, after making a side-by-side comparison of the two at the remote lot, we determined that the Highlander simply did not have the cargo capacity needed by a family of four; on long trip; with canine family members. We also liked all of the storage cubbies. There are literally dozens of little receptacles located throughout the vehicle that can serve as storage for goods and sundries. All that remained was to decide on the two available.

Our choices were a silver LE and a green XLE. Elizabeth was in awe of several of the package features of the XLE. Chief among the latter being the leather steering wheel; powered sliding doors and rear hatch; JBL sound system; and zoned climate control. Herman found all of these to be expensive frivolities. In the end, it did come to cost. The XLE had a sticker price that turned out to be less negotiable than the extremely good deal that we were able to haggle for the LE. Combine that with the lighter paint color in the hot Texas heat and it did not take too long for Elizabeth to agree with the decision.

One interesting point in favor of the Sienna is the fact that, while it is capable of carrying nearly twice the cargo of the Highlander, it realizes the same highway mileage and only loses two points in the city (19/27 vs 21/27). Since it will be primarily used for trips involving significant distances or when the entire family is conveyed — thus eliminating the need to take two vehicles — the two MPG points in the city are negligible.

09 June 2004

Oberon's first month

After one month, Oberon has settled into his groove. He has become fully comfortable in his new home and can be frequently found roaming the house to be with one member of his new family or another. The felines seem to have almost fully, but nevertheless begrudgingly, accepted him as a permanent fixture of their domain.

Marcus can quite frequently be found reclining in somewhat close proximity to Oberon. Though the former almost always maintains a keen vigil upon the movements of the latter, he nevertheless has shown no signs of aggression in over two weeks. Aurelia, on the other hand, usually prefers to maintain a perch on higher ground. She too has shown no signs of agitation when Oberon is close at hand.

Oberon continues to do well with his stays at home during the day. Now that the summer is upon us, this is less of an issue since Rebecca or Collin is usually at home on any given day. However, there are some days where it is necessary for him to be alone for lengthy stretches of time and he seems none the worse for the experience. No damage to property; no "accidents"; no apparent psychoses. He is an excellent companion.

A couple of interesting notes regarding a recent trip to the dog park. Collin and Herman took Oberon this past Sunday and were treated with the opportunity to meet a couple who had recently become Greyhound adopters themselves. Their new children, Katie and Jake were both adopted from Greyhound Adoption League of Texas. We had the opportunity to compare notes and chat about Greyhounds in general. They shared that they are new to Greyhound adoption as well, having accepted Katie into their home only one month ago. Not waiting as long as we are planning (three to six months), they chose to add Jake to their household only a week or two ago. Coincidentally, they, like us, had heretofore been "cat people", but chose to open their home to Greyhounds due to the feline nature of the breed. It was an overall enjoyable meeting.

Collin experienced a little anxiety, though. While Herman was chatting with Candace and Michael (the Greyhound parents), Collin evidently struck a discordant note with what appeared to be a Keeshond. He was observed to be running across the field with an apparently agitated hound close behind and several others joining in the pursuit. Collin was given instruction to stop running on several occasions, but chose to ignore that advice and proceeded in a wide arc until he came to a stop at Herman's side. Once Collin stopped, the dogs stopped their pursuit and returned to their families. Never a dull moment to be sure.

Two other anecdotes from this visit — both repeats of prior experiences. Oberon took great joy in attempting to challenge two Great Danes to a playful contest of speed. As in the past, he would approach the Dane, look him straight in the eye with ears perked and tail wagging vigorously. Once he had the attention of the other dog, he would lunge to the side and attempt to goad the Dane into initiating a sprint. Tonight, however, Oberon had no takers of his invitation. It intrigues Herman to no end that Oberon only adopts this stance with Great Danes. Even that evening, with two other Greyhounds in attendance, it was only the Danes with which Oberon had a racing fascination.

The evening's other repeat was the presence of what has to be both the ugliest and the most obnoxious boxer ever to walk the Earth. This canine, named Bosco, is wall-eyed and seems to take great delight in tormenting Oberon. This is the second time that we have seen Bosco at the park and on both occasions he has licked and sniffed Oberon to the point of the latter turning to snap in displeasure. Sunday, Bosco seemed particularly tenacious in his obnoxious behavior. The three of us were finally able to shake his persistence by traveling to the other end of the park; we left soon thereafter.

At this one month point, we feel as though Oberon has made a complete transition to our family. He has become a much loved and enjoyed addition to our household and we have resolved now more than ever to add another — as both a companion to Oberon and an addition to our own family. Greyhounds are truly a breed apart from other canines.

06 June 2004

Rebecca is in the field

At 1000 this morning, Rebecca boarded a flight to Houston for a week of field research in marine biology with Texas A&M, Galveston (TAMUG). She will be participating in the so-called "Sea Camp 5" — or Coastal Ecology — program offered by TAMUG. During this session, Rebecca and her companions will spend the week camping on the beach from south Padre Island to Galveston learning the basics of marine biology. The latter including techniques and identification of marine and estuarine species. In addition to her camp related duties, Rebecca has been tasked with keeping a journal of her experience. We look forward to reading about her adventure.

05 June 2004

Celebrating twenty years of educating

After over twenty years of educating sophomores in the Tyler Independent School district, Margaret has decided to retire from teaching tenth grade English. To mark that milestone and commemorate her two decades-plus, Elizabeth and Mark organized a family event treating Margaret to an afternoon of pleasures.

Read more about the celebration at node.Zero.

Dog Day Afternoon

Operation Kindness hosted its tenth annual Dog Day Afternoon event this morning at Bob Woodruff Park. We along with Kristie, Mark and their canine children (Emmy, Dexter and Simon) as well as Margaret and Theodore with their canine children (Pumpkin and Duke) met to enjoy the gathering.

We arrived at around 1010 and, already, the parking lots were full. We ended up parking at the far northeast end of the park and working our way back.

Hoping to see representatives of the adoption agency from which we obtained Oberon, we were instead treated to the ability to meet the alternative Greyhound organization, the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas (GALT). Along with the adoptees offered by GALT, Oberon was able to meet several other of his GH cousins — including an intriguing genetic mutation known as a Spanich Greyhound. The latter resembles a cross between a GH and an Irish Wolfhound. Quite interesting.

The entire entourage enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with other dog families from the region. Canids in attendance ranged in size from the smallest, Chihuahuas, to the largest, Great Danes and Mastiffs. Much socialization took place.

In addition to the festivities of the event, this was also marked the first opportunity for Oberon to meet his cousins, Emmy, Dexter, Simon, Pumpkin and Duke. All got along quite well — even, for the most part, Emmy. ;-)

02 June 2004

Game ball

At the conclusion of every game, The coach for Collin's baseball team awards the game ball to the player who has shown the most improvement and/or has contributed most to the evening's game. We are proud to announce that it was Collin on whom that honor was bestowed tonight.

This week marks the midpoint of the RSI youth baseball season. The team for which Collin plays, the Yankees, has come a long way since their initial practice the first week of May. As with any novice team comprised of mostly first-time players, their win-loss record is primarily the latter. Nevertheless, they all show enthusiasm and weekly improvement. Tonight was no exception.

This evening's game was rescheduled from last Thursday when the original contest was rained out. Games are usually played on Tuesday and Thursday, with the occasional Monday thrown in for good measure. However, Wednesday is an exception.

Collin is almost always positioned about half way down the line-up of batters for any given game. In his enthusiasm to play well, he is more likely than not to strike out when at-bat. Tonight, through luck and determination, he got a hit on a two-two count that drove straight between first and second. Luck came into play with respect to the fact that the mid-fielder fumbled the grounded catch and the first baseman dropped the ball, thus allowing Collin to make it safely to base.

No one was more surprised at the connection that Collin. He stood there for a split second and marveled that he had actually hit the ball. After arriving on base, he was grinning ear-to-ear and did a little success dance. Unfortunately, the attempt never resulted in a run as, while later positioned on second, the batter struck out, ending the inning. Nevertheless, Collin got a run in the next inning when he cycled through all four bases on walks and crossed home plate.

In recognizing Collin during the post-game debriefing, his coach singled out the hit as an example of how concentration and practice can result in success. He also commented on Collin's enthusiasm as expressed when reaching the plate. In modest reply, Collin said he was simply "doing what [coach] said."

Week three with Oberon

Another week has come and gone since we adopted the newest member of our household. The process of learning about one another; discovering personality traits; and general bonding continues.

Our household can be a whirlwind at times — especially during the school year. Nevertheless, we have taken great pains to include Oberon in and any and all of the family activities for which it is possible. He has attended all but two of Collin's baseball games; he often accompanies either Elizabeth or Herman when we have need to take the kids to some event or another; and he recently escorted us to a family gathering the day following the marriage of Herman's cousin. Just for his benefit, we have added an event to our schedule: at least twice a week we visit a local dog park to allow him unrestrained exercise and canine socialization. Through all of this Oberon has adapted well and continues to show great enthusiasm at being a member of our family.

As with all relationships, we hve begun to discover some of Oberon's idiosyncracies. One aspect of the latter is his aversion to noise. We watch little television, but when we do it is usually with great gusto. When viewing a theatrical release movie, we almost always enable the Dolby or THX sub-system and listen at increased volume through all five (or seven) speakers. Oberon usually tolerates only a few moments of this before he relocates himself behind the sofa. Another discovery is his sensitivity to "Law & Order" Frequent viewers of this television show are no doubt familiar wih the dramatic, two chord snippet that delineates one act from another. If Oberon is snoozing when this transition takes place, he will immediately jump to his feet and look around for the source! He also reacts to the sound of any doorbell — real, reproduced or imagined.

Needless to say, we continue to have no regrets for our decision to adopt Oberon and enjoy his company very much.

continue to the May 2004 archive


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last edited: 2004.06.30