Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Thanksgiving report:

  • Drove four hours
  • Enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family
  • Drove four hours
  • Gave thanks for all of it, even though I hate that drive with a passion.

The highlight of the drive is the 4.2 miles I get to drive on Route 66.riverton-store-rsr-mark

No two of my family’s Thanksgiving gatherings have been alike.  I gave thanks for that, too.  Each one is precious and memorable, whether it is a large scale extended family gathering, or like this year–just us kids and Mom.  I took Lasagne Soup, to be heated in my horrible slow cooker.  I told my mom how much I despise my slow cooker, because it has four different heat setting buttons; but all of them are too hot.  There is no going off and leaving it several hours to ‘slow’ cook.  There is no ‘slow’ cooking with it.  But as I told Mom, I don’t use a slow cooker enough to justify buying a new one.

On my drive home, I saw this totally awesome motorized bicycle, that appeared to be on its own Route 66 journey.  route-66-bike-rsr-mark

Shopping report:

On Black Friday, I bought a Kindle Fire Tablet for the young girl I adopted for Christmas.  All I was given was her first name and age (14), and that she asked for “clothes, shoes, electronics or a mall gift card”.  No indication of shoe or clothing sizes, and no clue about what kind of electronic thing she wanted.  Thus the Kindle tablet, that can be used for fun and education, i.e., homework and checking out textbooks and library books.

On Cyber Monday, I bought myself an Instant Pot.  Woohoo!  So much for the frugal me who only four days earlier said I couldn’t justify spending for a new slow cooker.  So anyway, the Instant Pot will be here in two days.  Stay tuned for Instant Pot adventures.instant-pot

And coming back to the reason for my favorite holiday of the year. 

A conference win! And why I’m a home town college athletics fan.

I’m a fan because this was the view from my front yard as a kid.  That wall at the end of our block is the university’s football stadium.  If I didn’t attend the game, I could still hear the roar of the crowd when a touchdown was scored.  My parents turned our yard into a pay parking lot for extra income on game days.  Growing up here, I always knew I’d be athletic.  The inspiration to be athletic has led to a lifetime of fitness; all a gift from living on this street.  Every year, the autumn colors and the rustle of leaves on the sidewalk take me back to this street.

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Back then, a kid’s season football ticket was $6, which worked out to $1 per game.  I’ve been to a lot of games there.

Still, this week’s game was special.  It was the second win this season, after a winless season last year, under the new coach.  He’s the right guy, as is shown by the methodical way he is developing a talented, respectable team of future stars.  This was his first conference win, which he and the team accomplished with a most exciting overtime ‘walk off’ field goal.  (Do they say ‘walk off’ in football?  They need to for this game.)

At the winning moment, the fans rushed the field and swarmed the players and coach; an emotional ESPN interview with the coach took place among the ecstatic crowd; and then a goalpost came down and was carried up the hill to the university’s lake.

The crowd for the game was pitiful in size.  True it was a chilly day.  But not that chilly.  This picture is just plain embarrassing.

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Our defense was a force the entire game.  The offense came through to keep us in the game, and when we most needed it at the end of the game.  img_20161119_1739194_rewind-rsr-mark

Our kicker hit a field goal to tie the game with seconds to go.  img_20161119_1809279_rewind-rsr-mark

In overtime, an interception right away set us up to win the game with another field goal.  The winning field goal triggered the roar of the crowd, and an emotional rush onto the field to embrace the team and coaches.  All captured here, thanks to the phone in my shivering, excited, mitten-covered hands.

Next year I predict even more wins.

College football and another trip to the vintage clothing store

We had the lead for most of this game, and had some brilliant plays; one that went viral and was featured on ESPN.

But in the end, the ‘Clones rallied and denied us the win.

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After the game I headed downtown to the really cool vintage clothing store, where I made one great purchase and two gambles.

This fully-lined wool dress needs nothing done to it.  I can wear it to work tomorrow.  $20.

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This dress is too large in the chest and upper bodice, so I’m going to attempt to alter it from the shoulders.  This has potential failure, as I’ve never altered from that end before.  If I ruin the dress I’m out $12.50, and a potentially cute summer dress.

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The sweater is a $15 gamble.  It is huge on me.  Think of using a big lawn and leaf bag in a little kitchen trash can.  It is almost dress length but not quite.  I think I can make it work, over a simple knit dress.

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The summer I went to the ballpark seven nights in a row.

It was early August, and the annual National Baseball Congress World Series was underway.  The 81-year old tournament spans two weeks, and brings to town talented young adult players and teams from the far corners of North America.  I look forward to it each year, and try to get to at least a few games.  On weekends, they play round-the-clock.  I managed to stay until morning once … back in 2009.

This year an amazing thing happened.  A group of ex-MLB players formed a team and entered the tournament.  They called their team the Kansas Stars.

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National Anthem

We saw Roger Clemens pitch, with his son Koby Clemens as his catcher.

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Roger also played catcher one night, to ceremonial first-pitch thrower, Toby Keith, who also suited up and helped manage the team.

The games were sold out; the stadium was packed, and people were watching through the outfield fence.

Outfield Fence audience

We saw KC Royals World Series pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pitch…

… and 1st Base/batter extraordinaire and super-dad Adam LaRoche play first base and hit home runs.

Drake LaRoche was on the field warming up with his dad and other Stars.

The team roster of former pros who came to town tells the story.  Check it out.  I can’t adequately express my appreciation and admiration to them for coming.

But the thing is, with all of this star power, it wasn’t seeing the Stars play as much as it was seeing them form a team together, and being competitive again for love of the game, and for their fans’ love of the game, and love for a historic tournament.  The former MLB stars were personable and accessible; posing endlessly for selfies and signing autographs with complete generosity, taking their time with kids and adult fans alike.

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On the field, they were competitors to the core.   Each game was a good one.  In the tournament semi-final game, the Stars fought for 17 innings against a young, uber-talented team from Hays, KS.  The Stars went through pitcher after pitcher; ultimately drafting players from the field to pitch to keep the game going.  Just after midnight, Hays sent the Stars packing, with a run that broke the 10-10 tie score.  The next night in the tournament final, Hays fell to the Santa Barbara Foresters.

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This special team and the tournament got a lot of attention in the press and in baseball blogs.  The final game of the tournament was carried nationally by ESPNU and WatchESPN.  Those writers and commentators have captured the magic of the moment so much better than me.  But for me it was a privilege to have experienced those seven straight magical nights in the ballpark in August 2016.  It was an emotional thing I won’t ever forget.

Summer is over, and we are well into a gorgeous Autumn.  But the Summer of 2016 is one of those I will hold onto in my heart.

Pure Fun at the NBC World Series

Former White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche returning to the field for the NBC World Series

Roger Clemens, Other Former MLB Players Scratching the Itch

Roger Clemens takes the mound again, in Kansas

Roger Clemens among former MLB players to play in NBC World Series

There’s something cool about big-league has beens still playing ball

Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche headline NBC World Series team

Larks knock off stars in 17 innings; advance to NBC title game

 NBC Mascot