Monday, September 15, 2008

Reality is starting to set in.

A piece I made for the little ones to countdown our days before we fly out.

I sit here at the computer and I know that I am looking at one of my last posts that I will have while being in Belgium. This means that I have to go back and face reality in the States. When I had figured out that I was purchasing my ticket back to the states I became very excited to get back, not thinking how I would feel as the last few days here started to dwindle. Now I don't even need two full hands to count the days left, my feelings have changed and I think that I want time to slow down for just a week. I guess looking back I have had a good last couple of weeks.

For my birthday I was lucky enough to be able to spend my time in Amsterdam. I was really excited the day that we left, as it was both my birthday and really the only trip that I was planning on taking that would keep me over night while here in Europe. Our trip up there went smoothly and as we got off the train we walked across to the tourist office to check out what Amsterdam had to offer and maybe grab a map. We walked out of the office with lots more. We went the "all inclusive" route and purchased a "I AMsterdam" card which allowed us access to many museums and free public transportation. The card really was a great idea, it provided us with some direction on where to go and what to see and it turned out to save us some money on all the stuff that we saw. I did not know exactly what to expect going to a city like Amsterdam, but I think that I was surprised and really did enjoy my time there. I think the one thing that I will take away from Amsterdam is the feeling I got as I walked into the room that held Rembrandt's "Night Watch". This was a painting that I had studied in school and the sheer size and just the fact of being in the presence of the work was just awesome. I have since told everyone about it. The whole trip was a success and really enjoyed getting out of Antwerp and seeing a different part or culture even though it was just two hours away.

Part of the Seven Bridges in Amsterdam.

Since our time is running short, this past week my roommate and I had been asked to dinner twice by two different people from our club. The first was Wednesday night. Harry and his wife Jane asked us to go out for some Itilian food. Harry was the man that took us to the Battle of the Bulge and has been very good to both of us during our stay here. They picked us up and we visited a very small Italian resturant, it was a beutiful night so we opted for a spot outside infront of the place. We enjoyed a great dinner and afterwards we just sat around and had coffee while just talking about our time here and what we had instore for the future.

Friday we were asked by our head coach to come to his house for Mexican food. We laughed because we had talked about going to a mexican resturant anyways so we accepted... of course! We went over there and enjoyed some wine while my coach and his wife finished the preparation for dinner. We enjoyed some great Mexican. We played games after dinner and just hung out. My coach had an assortment of different types of liquor from all around the world that he had collected but had never opened and decided that it was the perfect chance to try them out. He asked if we wanted to Travel Around the World? We being the good guests that we were said that sounded like fun. We did not stay at any country very long (as they were all pretty small pours since we had to travel all over.) We traveled to about 13 different countries. Dominican Republic, Austria, China, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, San Marino, U.S. were some of the countries of the top of my head. It was only my coach, roommate, and I doing the trip as his wife does not drink alcohol, but she just sat there and laughed with/at us as some of these different bottles were very unusual to say the least. We had alot of laughs and that night was very enjoyable, we crashed there since our coach is a police officer and that our trip around the world kinda gave us serious "jetlag"... haha.

Back to the reason why I was sent here. We had our last weekend of baseball competition this past weekend. We had to win one game to secure first place. I was slated to throw on saturday. I think that out of all my days that I have pitched so far in this league that this was the one day that I was really not looking forward to. I did not want my last start to come. I also knew as I warmed up that my arm was not 100 percent and I really did not want to end my season/career on a loss. As I warmed up my arm actually did not feel very well at all. I opened up the game and gave up one run in the first inning but left two guys in scoring position. I felt that it might be a struggle, but as the innings went along I felt like I was more comfortable. At the end of the game no one would say that it was over powering or the best outing that I had but that lone run in the first was all that came across the plate and I think I ended up with 19 groundouts and three strikeouts, one of them coming at the end of the game.

We played again on Sunday and lost. As I end the season and ended my possible last outing as a pitcher I look back and say that even if I decide never to pick up a baseball again that I can look back and say that I am happy about how my career ended. I was able to extend my career and see a part of the world that I had never seen before. These both have been great over the past few months. Only time will tell if it is all over. As for my blog, hopefully I will continue writing even when I am back in the states. I know that I have been terrible lately, I have really enjoyed blogging and hope everyone that has kept up with it has enjoyed it and thankyou for reading it. I hope to blog at least one more time about my final couple of days here... Hope to see everyone soon.

Michael D. Harmelink

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ahh... what to say.

Lots to catch up on and so little time... that is that my days here are now very limited and it looks like I am less than a month or right at a month from returning. I have so many thoughts and feelings that it makes it tough sometimes to really just relax and enjoy the last little bit that I have here.
Moving on to cathing everyone back up it really has been a whirlwind of the past week and a half. I have played 6 games and thrown in 3 of them. While on the mound I lost 2 and won 1. I know that I am speaking and somewhat defending myself but I really did face two of the best pitchers in the league and I thought that the games were competitive. In my first loss I really would love to take one pitch back. I gave up a 2 run homerun and we lost 3-1, and the game ended with us leaving the bases loaded when the shortstop made a diving play up the middle, flipped to second, Game Over! That game was a Saturday and I threw 157 pitches, which is a very high pitch count, but with the game that competitive I really did not mind. Three days later on Tuesday we had a game rescheduled and I again got the start. This game we lost 3-0 but it only lasted 6 innings. The other pitcher, the best pitcher in our league, carried a perfect game into the 6th when at that time the umpire called the game due to lack of light. (We do not have lights. So two very tough losses but they were both against the first and second place teams and as though I never like to lose, I was at least able to say that I gave it a run and kept the game close in both matches. Thats baseball. Today I got a chance to redeem myself and threw 8 innings and got the win.

Outside of baseball our house is back to full strength but will soon become at times empty as the two little kids start school full time on Monday. Cedric, (17) starts school full time this week. Sebas(18) is going to Spain for a week long baseball tourney for the Jr. National Team. My roommate and I are gone for at least three days in Amsterdam and maybe a few more if we join some other Americans on a camping trip in the Ardennes Region of Belgium. That trip seems fun and very inexpensive.

Now that the Olympics are over I think I took out 3 of the 4 days that the DNC was going on to stay up til 5 am to watch the events unfold live. I told one friend that I seriously was changing my sleep patterns for the DNC. I thought it was interesting but I am still in need to watch Obama's speech. Other than that I have been putting some good time into helping out the lady who is in charge of getting my ticket home, I think once I finish all that and everything is finalized I will get to enjoy the last few days here without anything to worry about. Hope all is well and enjoy the extended weekend back in the States.