A conversation I wish I was having by Josh Trudell

Transcript of a conversation:Happy birthday, Dad!

It looks like you got snow for your birthday – just what you always wanted, right? I’m telling you – it doesn’t snow here. It’s got to be at least a little tempting…

Work is good – I’m keeping busy. The real job, working part-time at the newspaper, and freelance work on top of that. You know how it goes – I’ve got these expensive habits. This new camera I’ve got is pretty awesome, though. And I’m going on this photo workshop in Arizona in May – that’s going to be spectacular. We’re going into these narrow slot canyons where they get these shafts of light coming in – I bet you’ve seen pictures of it on TV.

What about you? (listens) 3 a.m.? Whew - no rest for the snowplow men.  Man - every time I think I'm getting up early, you tell me you're up at three to plow snow. Whew.

I’m taking care of the blood sugar, don’t worry. It’s actually been lower since the new year – I’ve cut way back on Diet Cokes and junk food, and I’m already feeling better. I still haven’t picked up coffee – I’m experimenting with these all-natural energy drinks. They aren’t bad.

How's your health doing? Ha! Slow and steady - all we can ask for, right?

I haven’t paid much attention to the Sox this offseason, to tell you the truth. I kind of like what I have seen, though. It seems like they got themselves some dirt dogs, Trot Nixon types. No, Youkilis isn’t coming back – he signed with the Yankees, can you believe it? Have you read Francona's book? Yeah, he wrote a book - I haven't read it either, but he takes some big shots at the Sox, according to the excerpts. Oh, he absolutely should.

Speaking of which – keep June 15 free on your calendar. This is actually your birthday present - we’re going to a game this summer. Yes, I know we tried that before, but I’m taking care of it this time. You won’t have to drive OR park in the city, I promise. We’ll have a car picking us up in Lisbon – yes, that’s both of us – driving us down, waiting for us after the game, then driving us back. What’s that? Don’t worry about how I paid for it – I told you, I’m working plenty of hours. It’s all taken care of.

Are you and Mom going anywhere this year? Nova Scotia? Cool – Tapley and I have been talking about going there. Ha! Yeah, pretty much everywhere. Italy this year, New Hampshire next year, then Australia. Yeah, we’ll be up for about a week next year. I’m sure I’ll be up in the meantime for a weekend here or there.

Yeah, I can hear my sister talking about cake – must be that time. Have a great afternoon, and give Mom a hug for me. I’ll see you guys soon, I promise. Okay. Bye.

My dad would have been 63 today. He’s been gone for a little more than two years now. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

The end of an era by Josh Trudell

And just like that, everything’s changed. The Boston Red Sox blew it all up Friday – trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers for four minor leaguers and first baseman James Loney. The Sox shed about a quarter-billion – B like you see on the McDonald’s signs - dollars in bad contracts, and vowed to start over – younger, hungrier and cheaper.

This by itself isn’t much more than a headline on SportsCenter. But that trade is the end of an era for me.

When the Red Sox signed Crawford and traded for Gonzalez in one whirlwind week in December, 2010 – a weekend that might have been the last time Red Sox Nation was this overwrought – I called my father in New Hampshire from my house in Texas to talk about the new additions.

We had many of these conversations after I left home – he didn’t always understand what I did for work, and I didn’t always understand why he didn’t want to explore the world – but baseball brought us together.

When I lived in southern New Hampshire, we talked about how amazing Pedro Martinez was, coming out of the bullpen with a dead arm to no-hit the Cleveland Indians for six innings.

We marveled at the sheer majesty of Manny Ramirez’ first swing at Fenway Park, a shot that bounced off the Coke bottles on the left field light standards. He loved the wiles of Tim Wakefield's knuckleball - always enjoying the story of a guy getting it done against the odds.

When I moved to Texas in early 2004, we dissected Nomar’s mental state as he sulked his way off the team, and celebrated when the band of Idiots finally brought home a championship. I remember him telling me that so many people he knew had lived and died without seeing that happen, and that he was more than a little amazed to see it come to pass.

When Crawford and Gonzalez were signed, I called him, and we talked – me doing most of the talking, as usual, about what those players would bring to the team. I was enthusiastic – I thought Gonzalez would be another great thumper, and Crawford would be as electric as he had been in Tampa Bay, stealing base after base for the Red Sox instead of against them.

Three days later, Dad was gone, taken by scleroderma, an illness that had been dogging him for years. In that last conversation, I was trying to be upbeat – I knew he didn’t have long, and I was trying to cheer him up.

Now, nearly two years later, the Red Sox have gone young and hungry, with players like Pedro Ciriaco and Ryan Lavarnway. I don’t know if they’ll be world championship material again soon, but I know this is a team my father would have liked better than the overpaid, underachieving group that has been the Red Sox signature of 2012.

Seeking a cool breeze... by Josh Trudell

Lots of swimming thoughts, but nothing cohering into much length. It's summertime, and the thinking ain't easy.

The specimen above was one of 96 tiny Kemp-Ridley turtles I saw get released into the Gulf of Mexico on Father's Day.

The Oreo-sized reptiles gamely pushed their way across the 25 feet of sand from their release point to the water's edge. The staffers fluttered around, alternately swinging plastic pipes to ward off the gulls and picking up the turtles and showing them to the crowd gathered behind a line.

Photography note: The workers will take cameras down to the turtles to get close-ups of them making their way to the ocean. A better bet, however, is to wait for one of the workers to bring one of the Kemp-Ridley hatchlings by your spot.

This release was on Malaquite Beach - the beach I took my parents to on my dad's only trip to Texas before he passed away.

Was it sappy to think he was there watching, protecting these small forms as they struggled out into the world? Yep. Was I thinking it? Of course.

Work in the works: The San Antonio Express-News published a piece I wrote last fall on the Canadian Rockies. More work is in the pipeline...

Summer sports: The Red Sox are terribly mediocre. That is all.

Book of the moment: Chad Marbach's The Art of Fielding. I've been listening to it for the past 10 days' commute, and it's getting harder and harder to get out of the car when I pull into the parking lot or the garage. Edit: I finally finished it by bringing the last three discs into work and listening to them there.

Summer movie count: The most recent movie we've seen is Brave, the latest installment from Pixar. I'm normally a big Pixar fan, but this was definitely aimed more at a mother/daughter relationship. Still, I found it entertaining, and the animation was fantastic as ever. Less than two weeks until THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.