When I was King

When I was a teenager in New York, I was unremarkable and full of doubt. I suffered from low self esteem, struggled with my weight, and had a bad temper and jealous heart. Like many young people, I was having a difficult time finding my place in the universe. This angst was softened some by having a girlfriend I adored, and my complete joy in playing baseball.

One variation to the game of baseball was something called stickball. There were two ways to play stickball. One version consisted of playing in the street and involved hitting a bounced pitch with a broom handle. This was not an easy thing to do as the bouncing ball came quickly and often had a weird spin to it. How far you hit the ball determined if it was a single, double, etc, and many of these games involved running bases.  The ball was either a Pensy Pinkie, or a Spauldeen. Both were firm, pink hollow balls and could travel a great distance.

The other way stickball was played involved chalking a square box on the side of a school or building. This created the strike zone, and if a pitcher threw a strike, the ball would have chalk on it. This was my preferred way to play stickball as it allowed the pitcher to actually pitch, and was brilliant in its simplicity. The ball would hit the wall, and bounce right back to the pitcher. Again, the quality of hits was determined by distance and there was generally a fence which would determine a homerun. This form of the game also used a broom handle (or stickball bat you could buy) and could be played one on one, or with an outfielder. Here there was no running of bases and hits were determined purely by distance.

I took to the wall game very quickly and very hard. I played for years and became more than a little good. I could always play ball, and had a great stick, but those Pensy Pinkies were lethal weapons in my hand. I could throw from the side, throw overhand hard fast balls, and mixed speeds. I also had a curve that could make a hitter fall back sharply as the ball approached his head, and then would fall off a table and right into the plate. Kids would argue with me…”that couldn’t have been a strike”. And I’d show them the ball, covered with fresh yellow chalk. I froze batters, toyed with them, hardly ever walked anyone, and was dominate. As much fun as that was, hitting was even better.

Few kids could really pitch well. Most of them flat out sucked. I could hit from both sides of the plate, with equal ability, but from the right side I could do magic. A homerun was over the fence. That was a decent poke. Over the fence was a street, then someone’s yard, house, and backyard. I would load the bases batting left-handed and then switch to my power side. I would hit that ball as high as I did far. High into the sky and over the fence, street, and house. Many balls were never found and were no doubt on the next block. Then I would wait for the next fat pitch and hit bomb after bomb. I would also figure out the better pitchers and anticipate their next pitch. That would result in a rush of hits and runs, and at some point I would become tired from all the hitting and want to pitch again.

On that field, for those hours, I was really good at something. Sandy Koufax-like on the mound, I loved every moment, and found a transcendental place where I was something better than I could have ever imagined. It allowed me passage into an unknown world where I could pitch with almost magical powers, and assume control where it existed no where else.

Unfortunately I could not trade that skill in for something more useful. A gifted ball player, I had neither the confidence nor the motivation to play high school ball, and I largely stumbled through my teen years, finding respite in a simple game I loved and dominated, and the sweet promise of my girlfriend’s lips.

In my garage is a stickball bat I made 14 years ago, when, at the age of 50 I found some kids I could play with. The game is completely foreign in Colorado. I could just as soon find someone playing cricket (never have). I would play tomorrow, at age 64, and am willing to bet that I can still hit from both sides and could pitch with skill and confidence, albeit with less velocity.

To any and all older athletes out there, consider yourself challenged. Let’s get it on.

© 2013 Michael Fiveson

Hell Storm

hellOn August 3, at the precise moment this storm was moving towards my neighborhood, I was outside with my wife watching the sky moving in a circular motion. It was a very eerie shade of green and there were reports of tornadoes sighted in neighboring towns. We were mesmerized and afraid, and in the process of watching this, I never ran inside for my camera.

Good thing my friend Rudee Hartono was at work just to the north of my home and snapped this with his IPhone. He was kind enough to allow me to re-work the photo and post it.  As he watched it move south, I was watching it come in from the north. We had at least 25 minutes of intense hail and hard pounding rain. My gutters were quickly overwhelmed and we had some flooding.

Now I wait for my new roof and skylights, having already deposited my insurance check. All my neighbors need new roofs as well. My last one was just put on four years ago. We will soon be listening to crickets during the night, and hammers during the day. Oh well, just an inconvenience. But what a sky!

Elva and Cleatus

elva&cleatus© 2012 Michael Fiveson

What can we know about the lives of a married couple who will spend eternity together?
Cleatus was five years older than Elva and if he was 26 when they married, she was 21, and that would mean they married in 1909. When Elva passed away in 1960, they would have been married for 51 years and would have had a grand celebration the year before her death.
One can imagine that Cleatus would have been broken and lost without his precious Elva, but he hung on for another 14 years and at the age of 91 his last thought must have been a happy one, knowing he would see his bride once again.
Lives of long ago, very much the same today.


On a chilly day in early November I walked without concern until I heard what sounded like something flying past me at a very quick speed. So quick, I could not see it, although I could feel a presence and there was an awful smell, like something that died long ago, but refused to give up its stink. Again and again it swooshed past me and my steps became more urgent as I became genuinely afraid. I passed someone’s trash and grabbed an old  2×4, just in case I might need it. That would be fine, if it was a human I was sensing, but this was something else, I was certain. Then I heard it and could not believe what it said

“I want to suck your blood”…I looked up and…and… oh my God……there it was!!

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

P.S  I can no longer see my reflection in the mirror, which turns out to be a blessing. My wife really likes my stamina, but my dog only growls at me. But the best part is that there is a vampire convention next year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and flying there will be much cheaper this time. Quicker too.

Thank You Veterans

A belated but heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our brave veterans who left family and the comfort of home to serve our nation, sometimes at great peril.

My wife and I are both veterans and met in the Navy many, many years ago. Not only was I lucky enough to score my life long companion, she is also my best friend and lover. And I have a great sense of pride that comes from having served.

Thank you fellow veterans.

Daddy’s Caddy

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

Another beauty laying low in the junkyard. Many of us no doubt did have a father who drove a Cadillac. My father drove an Olds, but then he used to sell them and always drove something brand new. Before that he sold Fords for a bit and drove an Edsel for a time. Man that was one ugly car, but not this Caddy, which ruled the day, and lit up the night.

Colorado Autumn

Two weeks ago the aspen trees in my front yard were fading, but still looked like this…

A few days ago after a light snowfall they looked like this…

I like both pictures and it really is refreshing to have a clean snowfall, but I will miss the fall once the winter gets a grip and it becomes too damn cold.

Pumpkin’s Birthday Portrait

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

Even though she won’t be 8 until Halloween, this was an image I could not pass up. I call this Gold on Gold, and think the leaves work well with my beautiful girl’s coat. Those of you who look at my work know how much Pumpkin means to me, and how much joy she brings to everyone she meets. Pure love, golden and forever.

North Dakota

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

As if in eternal rest, a pastel shell of a car sits in a Colorado junkyard with a seemingly endless field behind it. Perhaps this beauty looks so comfortable because it came from the open plains, where it carried a happy and loving family on many adventures. Its work long since completed, it sits and reflects, aging with grace and beauty.