Sun, sky and trees.

“Performing is the only excuse for my existence.”

That quote was by Carol Channing. I have no quote for Mel Stottlemyre. You know who Carol Channing was. You might not know who Mel was. Let’s say that they were a part of my youth. They both passed within the last 24 hours.

When I read about Carol’s passing, the first thing that came to mind was “Hello Dolly.” Not just a few words of the song, but almost the whole thing. As a child I saw the musical, but that’s not why. My parents like big band music, and show tunes. I must have heard that song 100 times when I was a child. It’s deeply embedded in my brain.

That’s a good thing.

Stottlemyre was a pitcher for The New York Yankees. I’ve been a fan since before I was born. Unfortunately for him, he pitched in an era the Yankees would like to forget. They were seriously in decline. Still, he was an all-star, who regularly¬†won 20 games a year.

I saw him on the very first day that he pitched in August, 1964. My uncle took us to the game. He won the game and my hero — then and now — Mickey Mantle hit a tape measure home run of 563 feet.

Funny how songs and some numbers stick in my head.

Mantle was built for baseball. He was medium-sized and compact, not like the big bombers today. The face of the Yankees is Aaron Judge. He’s built like a football tight end. He’s 6’7″, about 275 pounds. He’s not just big. He’s built well. Just huge. So too, with the Yankees other big bomber, Giancarlo Stanton. He is a mirror to Judge. Yeah. There are a lot of other home run hitters on the team, but those two are the leaders.

Mantle was also an alcoholic. He got sober around the same time that I did. As big a baseball hero as he was, the last thing he said public before dying of cancer, was “Don’t be like me.”

My hero.

You know, I’m not really sad. Carol Channing was 97 years old. Mel Stottlemyre fought bone marrow cancer for 20 years. He continued to coach through most of that time. They lived their lives well.

That quote of hers That’s me. To a tee. Except it’s pictures.

Besides watching parts of my life through a rear view mirror. I question what I’ve done. Enough? Not enough? Crossed the line? No matter, that’s what this year is about.

The picture. And, then a little more housekeeping. This is one of those pictures that I saw during the holiday season. That’s why the trees are still so full. It was bright, sunny and warmish that day. Not like today, when the high will be in the low forties. It’ll warm up some towards the weekend, and then… the lows will be in the middle twenties. All my weather devices agree. Weather in the twenties around here in the swamp is like it is in the teens in other places. Woo, boy. Frozen cobblestones.

I have some wonderful news to share. Remember those two books? They are moving along just fine. The publisher like my photography so much that I’ve been offered a whole host of possibilities. I pitched some and he pitched some back to me. This does a lot for me. In retirement. Besides that, I’ve got so much agency work that if the clouds don’t break I’m going to be overwhelmed. In retirement.

All I know is that I should have formally retired earlier. If I was still beating the bushes trying to grow clients, I wouldn’t have time for this work. In retirement. If I sound gleeful, I am. This is about where I want to be at this stage in my career.