Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Doctor

My Dr. J...
I've never been, and never will be, a big basketball fan, but over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of hype on Philadelphia sports talk radio leading up to last night's premier of the NBA TV documentary The Doctor. Having been born and raised in Philly, and a sports fan in general, if not basketball particularly, Julius "Dr J" Erving was a part of the fabric of my youth, so I tuned in and watched. I am very glad that I did.

My memories of Dr J were more of him at the back end of his career, even in terms of his years with the Seventy-Sixers, including the championship year of 1983. People spoke with reverence of the immensely talented 1977 team that lost to the Portland Trailblazers in the finals, but I have no real memory of those years (at least with regards to basketball). And I know that Dr J had come to the Seventy-Sixers from the ABA when the leagues merged. But while I have heard the stories and seen some of the old footage of the earlier legendary years of the Doc revolutionizing the game playing above the rim, I guess I just didn't understand the full magnitude of the impact Dr J had on the game, and just how unbelievable he was in the days before my time. I knew he was one of the all-time greats, but even that doesn't seem to do him justice.

...and that other Dr. J
My Dr J had a modest afro at best, with close cropped hair by the time I remember him best. He played with the brownish-orange ball, not the red white and blue ABA ball. He was a consummate team player, still capable of playing a complete game; scoring, rebounding, passing and playing solid defense. And while he was still a great player and had the ability to show flashes of that other Dr J, he wasn't the daily freak show that he had apparently been. The Doctor focused more on the Doc I didn't get to see, and therefore didn't truly comprehend. I thought I did, but I didn't. All I can say is wow.

The show was extremely well done, and while it did omit some less-than-flattering events that occurred in Erving's personal life, it did a masterful job of telling his story, and placing that story in the historical context of modern professional basketball. It's a story of humble beginnings, some personal tragedies, but ultimately is the story of a sports legend who seems to be universally well regarded for his class and dignity. I think this would be a story of interest to any sports fan, not just a basketball fan or a Philly boy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stop and Smell the Roses

We love to go to Longwood Gardens as a family and wander the grounds at all different times of year, admiring the seasonal plants, flowers and displays. I have taken a lot of pictures of beautiful flowers there over the years. As I was wandering around outside today I was reminded (again) how many beautiful flowers I can see at this time of year without ever leaving home.

Amp has spent a lot of time and effort over the years trying different designs and combinations of things that will both look nice and stand up to the deer fairly well. This year we have pinks, reds and purples in the front...
Front foundation beds

...and in the back, on the deck, we have primarily purples and whites.
Deck baskets

We have had a very wet spring, and it shows in the way the flowers have just taken off.
Deck containers

It's fair to say that I didn't inherit Dad's green thumb and love of gardening. He could spend hours upon hours working in the gardens and the flower beds just for the sheer love of the effort. So can Amp (and she does).
Evergreens and under-plantings

But while it is true that I do not enjoy the work of gardening all that much, I certainly can appreciate the results.
A splash of red

I'm pretty sure Amp is convinced that I don't even notice all the work that she puts into making the outside of the house look nice. Nothing could be further from the truth. I notice it all the time, and appreciate it very much. I think the outside of our house looks great, and it is all her doing...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Making Myself Useful

It's not the most glamorous chore in the world, and isn't hobby related (for sure), but Amp and I have spent the better part of two or three days over the past two weekends completely re-doing the garage. As with probably most people who have been in the same house for sixteen years (can it possibly be sixteen years?!), we have accumulated way too much stuff, a lot of which in turn has ended up in the garage.

So in good spring cleaning tradition, the task at hand became purge, clean and re-organize. The purging and cleaning part was easy; the re-organizing part was a little more involved. Re-organizing involved dismantling some overhead hanging racks, removing a potting bench along the side wall, taking down some crappy old hanging bars for tools and such, and replacing it all with nice new (and sadly expensive) modular heavy duty shelving and hanging space. The goal was pretty simple; keep as much off the floor in permanently available storage space as possible.

At the risk of boring myself and anyone else, here's the (nearly) end result. We still have a few of these things in the picture to dispose of, but have pretty much met our goal of very little on the floor. Yard tools on the right, kids stuff hanging on the left, and everything else (like outdoor Christmas decor etc) on the shelves on the back wall.

There is a little purging left to do, and some empty storage containers to figure out what to do with, but for the most part the goal has been met admirably. The only downside that I can see is that after a couple of years of being asked to do this, I might now have to do something else useful...