The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (of my weekend)

Deactivating my Facebook account last week has done what I figured it would: freed up time and creativity. My new blog is coming together and I’ll start to post there next week. This blog, which celebrated it’s fifth birthday recently, will continue though I’m not sure in what capacity I’ll be using it going forward. After five years it remains a work in progress.

The Good
Father’s Day weekend for the past several years has always been a weekend filled with baseball. For the past two years we were with my oldest son’s junior legion team about 75 minutes north where they competed in the Columbus Juniors Tournament. Columbus happens to be fifteen minutes west of where I grew up and as it is 3-4 times the size of my hometown we spent a lot of teenager time there once we obtained our licenses to drive.

sophie_pressbox_6-15This year Nolan is with the senior legion team and we hosted a weekend of baseball with another Lincoln high school. As hosts we parents were responsible for shifts taking gate fees or working in the press box where you either introduced each hitter over the PA system or ran the scoreboard. I opted for the scoreboard duties for two games Saturday morning and was joined up there by my two other children for a spell. Sophie initially wanted me to show her which buttons to push on the intricate scoreboard system but was content to just watch the game in comfort, color in her coloring book and entertain the other dads now and then with her stories. But basically she just wanted to hang out with dad.

On Sunday she had a softball game before we headed back to the big ballfield to watch her oldest brother play. After she devoured her hot dog she eagerly told the other parents about her own ballgame.

We’re very blessed that our son plays for the high school he does. The coaches promote accountability and family to the players and the parents pick up on that. We really are a part of a larger family, and once it’s over next year after graduation we’re going to miss it.

With any luck we’ll be a part of it again in another five years with our second son…

The Bad
My trip to the dentist last Friday did not go as I’d hoped. A crack in a back molar is causing the intense pain. The first words from my dentist were “The best case scenario is that all you need is a root canal.”

THAT’S the best case scenario? Oy vey. If they can’t save the tooth via root canal it will be pulled by an oral surgeon and then after a healing process of a few months I’ll get a tooth implant.

No way of knowing what caused the crack. I haven’t had any trauma to the jaw. It could have been a wayward popcorn kernel.

The Ugly
Ugly to some, but beautiful to me. My wife surprised me with a bottle of 10-year old Scotch for Father’s Day. I’ve enjoyed bourbon for over ten years, preferring Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses and Maker’s 46. I love the smoky, oak smell and taste of bourbon, but have never really enjoyed the bite that can come with that style of whiskey.

A good friend of mine from high school is a drinker of fine scotches and has been trying to get me to give them a try. She had e-mailed me a “starter list” that included a few different brands, including one that went for $150 a bottle.

My only experience with Scotch Whisky had come 23 years ago while visiting one of my best friends in Milwaukee. His father was a retired police officer who loved scotch and he offered me a glass. At my age of 22 years it tasted like lighter fluid to me and I haven’t had a drop since.

laphroaig_10That is, until last week. An old college roommate and his family moved to our city about a mile away from our home. After helping them move Jay gave me a tour of their large house and I noticed a wet bar tucked away in a hidden corner. Asking him what he preferred to drink he replied “Scotch.” It was just the excuse I needed to buy a bottle of Laphroaig (pronounced “la-froyg”) as a house-warming present. So last week my wife and I delivered a bottle of wine to his wife and the bottle of scotch to Jay. He offered me a glass and I eagerly accepted. From the moment I put my nose to the glass I knew I was going to enjoy it. Deeply peaty, earthy, smoky and smelling of the salty sea, I fell in love with it before I even tasted it. And when I did I found that it was smoother and had less of an alcohol burn than most of the bourbons I had been used to sipping through the years. The only thing missing was a fine cigar.

And so after hearing me rave about it for the past week to anyone who would listen she bought me a bottle of my own (which is good news for Jay because I had been plotting more trips to his new house).

In March of 2013 I read this review of the Laphroaig 10-year old from the men at the Whiskey Catholic blog that summarizes it better than I did above. When you purchase a bottle you receive a little booklet in the cask with a code that when entered on their website registers for you your very own square foot of peaty land on the isle of Islay in Scotland where Laphroaig is created. And so it was that this Czech/Welsh/Norwegian/American came to have his very own bit of ground in Scotland.

I may have to order me own kilt. Or at least a tartan scarf.

G.K. Chesterton once said that “In Catholicism, the pipe, the pint, and the cross can all fit together.” Indeed one of the things I appreciate most about my faith is that it is alive and is available everywhere I turn. It is in the grit and dirt and mud of life, and on the pure, sublime and elevated plane above. It is as real and raw as the dirt under my fingernails. Many misunderstand and are even repelled by this, preferring the soothing words of a televangelist preaching the prosperity gospel. Several choose to believe in nothing while claiming to be grounded in reality. It is in this path that they depart from reality and choose instead to machete their way ahead through the jungle of unknowing and create a landscape in their own image. Twenty years ago I began to grasp just how universal Catholicism is in all things and I marveled that I had never seen it before. It is something that I struggle to describe here and now, but it will be the subject of many posts going forward at the new blog. Not by way of being preachy, but in the manner of my observations.

Or maybe I’m just making up an excuse to justify my drinking really good scotch or bourbon.

Addendum to ‘The Ugly’:
One of the things I love to read are the ways in which people attempt to describe in their reviews how a bottle of bourbon or scotch tastes to them. I’ve seen it done with wines, too. I’ve pulled a few descriptive reviews of the Laphroaig 10 and are posting them below, unclear whether they will encourage you to try it for yourself or cause you to think me a madman for drinking a dram myself.

  • Lots of wood and smoke, the word campfire comes to mind, also some seaweed, grass and dirt (in a good way), and a hint of sweetness.
  • Ginormous burning peat, undertones of cherry and salt water taffy. Lovely fumes reminiscent of the sea.
  • Liquid syrup, clings to the tongue like butter.
  • Big load of salt/seaweed and peat, behind this a good sweet vanilla and minerals (flint)
  • A campfire inside a hospital by the sea with the windows open. Pungent is an understatement. My wife could smell it from across the table! (It’s true. My wife could smell my glass from across the living room last night.)
  • An old fireplace. Barley malt mash. A palmetto forest fire just after a light Florida afternoon rainstorm.
  • Finishes with the subtlety of a forest fire, and leaves one stunned and stranded on the salty coast with nothing but another pull to figure it all out.
  • Salt from an old sailors best boot mixed with the stub of a fine Havana cigar. (My favorite description)

Reviews courtesy of


3 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (of my weekend)

  1. Sounds like a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Definitely a good thing when your daughter just wants to hang out with Dad! 😉 Glad you enjoyed baseball, though I’m sorry again to hear about your tooth! I’m pretty sure the exact same thing that happened to you is what happened to my dad… Also, I don’t think you’re just trying to justify your love of scotch and bourbon. Pretty sure there’s a lot of truth to what you say… Also, looking forward to seeing your new blog. 🙂

    How was that for a mouthful? Haha!


    • Thanks, as always, for your kind comments Jess. Forgive my brevity but the only thing I want a mouthful of at the moment is Novocaine. (sigh)

      How was Father’s Day for you and your family?


      • It was really nice, actually. This is my first father’s day in the country in three years. My dad was on call and unfortunately was at the hospital for most of the weekend. But I surprised him with muffins Sunday morning and then we managed to take him to dinner followed by a pound cake I’d made in the evening. He said it was one of the best Father’s Days he could remember. 🙂

        Thanks for asking! Hope your tooth feels better soon!


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