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Our Ithaca contingent split up after eating and visiting the comics store- Scott wanted Eli to see the diorama in Carl Sagan's honor of the extended solar system, which begins on the Commons and stretches to near the lakeshore at the Ithaca Science Center.  So I headed along my usual South Hill route to Owego- playing Harry Chapin on the drive through Candor as I always do- and got to my sister's in time to check out her own household project status:



That's from a few weeks ago, when a windstorm blew through the Southern Tier. Nobody was hurt, and the pool behind the tree suffered no damage (not even the cover took any), but the outbuilding for its filter and such is toast, and we're still not sure whether the filter inside the building  is okay or not.  But as of this weekend, you don't see the tree anymore. A passing chainsawer came and chopped it up. Another contractor will be replacing the building and doing some other work around the yard.

We then got a text that Eli was still stuck somewhere in the vicinity of Neptune and that we'd have to drive to the game ourselves. No problem; JARVIS can handle two people.

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In her just-turned-71 years on the third planet (just outside the M&T Bank on the Commons), Donna had never been inside a baseball stadium of any level of play.  Even Sandy, I remembered, had visited Yankee Stadium when she lived in the Bronx, and all the rest of us in the immediate fam had been inside Shea, or Silver, or one or another more than once.  But she would get the unique experience of seeing the local Mets affiliate in her own home town.  Until last year, they were known as the B-Mets, but after a contest to rename the team to sell more minor-league merch, the winner was, wait for it:



....the Rumble Ponies.

(See, Binghamton has carousels in its public parks. With ponies. Who, you know, rumble.  Nobody caught that the "B-Mets" moniker could easily be morphed into "Bronies"  None of that merchandise was on offer in the gift shop, and I saw none in the stands, but it clearly was yet another only-the-Mets moment in marketing.)

We found the park (eventually), parked (4 bucks across the street), and got our whole crowd of five in for less than it cost three of us in Buffalo the previous weekend.  Seats right behind home plate, screened and roofed, and free Bronie hats for Memorial Day weekend for both of us.  Moments later, Donna's first selfie:



The interplanetary travelers joined us in time, and the rest of the evening was watching the game, the experience and even the occasional weird: this, for instance, right outside the beer stand, pimping the local economy:



My first thought about that was about the website- something right out of Animal House- but the line above it now seems more evocative of the whole Twilight Zone theme of the weekend- of everybody telling the evil little boy Anthony, "It's a good life!" 

(I will be returning to Billy Mumy in the third installment, but I digress.)

Unlike the majors, where access to batting practice is strictly limited to premium seat holders, this is how close anybody with a ten-dollar ticket can get to the players:





This is AA baseball, two rungs from The Show, and I knew of no hot prospects in the Mets organization or of anybody rehabbing at this level- but one name finally rung true: L.J. Mazzilli, playing second base for the Ponies. That would be the son of the Lee of that name, a phenom with the Mets in the 70s who returned for a brief time in their '86 World Series run:



The game was close and quick- like AAA, this league has the 20-second timer on pitchers between throws, and that got us out barely two hours after first pitch.  Maz drove in the only run of the game with a sacrifice fly, the Binghamton pitcher made it to the eighth with a shutout (BRING HIM UP TO THE METS!), and the bullpen survived a ninth inning scare to send us all home happy.

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I had one more planned stop for the next day, which will come in the next post, but I ended my time in the Greater Binghamton Metropolitan Area a little lost. With the Memorial Day theme still strong, I thought it was a good time to visit my mother.

Donna wasn't quite up to the haul up the hills, so I gave it my best recollection of where in Vestal Hills Memorial Park she was.  I have directional notes (for all my favorite cemeteries) of specific locations, but they remained in the glove box of Emily's now-car.  I knew it was "by the gazebo," so I pulled up near it and did a lot of walking.  Even called my sister back for some more triangulation- and no, sorry. 

It was fitting, though. Mom would've gotten lost, too;)  And I'm sure she knew I was there, even as she knew the last time I was there and took this picture:



My only hope is that they kept the stone clear for people to find. Lots of them were covered in grass. I cleared probably 30 stones so the Peases and Sandwicks and Copes will have an easier time of it if they show up this weekend.

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After that, it was back on the road, y'all, for a final stop- leaving the past, and heading for the far future.....

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