Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday morning after Thanksgiving we got up and on the road to go to the Ole Miss game. This year it was in Starkville. Ken has refused to ever again go to a game at Ole Miss, so they come to my house for Thanksgiving in years the game is a home game for us and go to his mother's in years when the game is at Ole Miss.

This game was one of the 11:30 am Lincoln Financial games. Not bad for us as we have a very good record on those 11:30 games.

We stopped in Selmer at Hardee's for breakfast. This is a big deal for the kids as we always stop there on the way down. They enjoy the traditions we have with games in Starkville, and insist on our doing things the same way every game. As usual I ordered two sausage and biscuits, ate one which filled me up, and then tried to give away the other.

Traveling with kids has changed a lot since I had little ones. They have their nintendos to play games on. Then they have the television in the ceiling of the SUV. The boys like to watch more action films. Emma will watch those, too. The problem came when Emma wanted to watch Barbie or American Girl doll films. The boys hated that. So now Emma has her own portable DVD player so she can watch whatever she wants and the boys can at the same time watch something else.

I don't know what the hangup is in West Point but it always takes too long to go through. Friday it took 25 minutes.

At State we park in the Technology center parking lots and then take a free bus to the stadium. Since this was a Friday and a work day we were not allowed to park in the lots but we parked on the ring road around it.

There were no Ole Miss fans on the bus. There were not nearly as many Ole Miss people there as usual. (That was a plus to me.)

Anne and Ken have four tickets in the upper deck. The Sky Deck it is called and they love it up there. I have two lower level tickets on the forty yard line on the same side. At each game one child sits with me. Adam had chosen long ago to sit with me at this game. He is the best one for that as he watches the game more than the others. George is beginning to watch the game; five minutes into the game Emma asks if it is half-time.

Adam and I went into the stadium and when we were in the aisle the fence to my right, which separates the student section, looked too close. I decided we were in the wrong aisle so we went across in front of people to get to the right aisle. Or what I thought would be the right aisle. When we got over there, I found we were at about the 25 yard line. That was wrong. So we went out and went in at the original entrance which was the right one. I should do better than that; I have had these same seats for 25 years. One problem is that the women from Tupelo that sit in front of me were all bundled up and I could not see their red hair. That is always my goal.

The game started and we could do nothing. Ole Miss scored a touchdown and I think we only got one first down the entire first half.

At the half Adam and I went to get food. We usually eat Papa John's pizza at halftime but they were sold out! We stood in line forever to get food. Usually we sit down and eat under the stands but this time the game had started and was 6 minutes into the third quarter before we got our food. It was just as well since Ole Miss had scored another touchdown. We continued to play very poorly.

Then in the middle of the fourth quarter Ole Miss had a fourth down on their own 49 yard line. Inexplicably Orgeron decided to go for it. They did not come close. They turned the ball over to us and we scored on a pass from QB Wesley Carroll to Anthony Dixon. Later on they punted to us and Derek Pegues ran it back all the way for a touchdown. The score was then 14-14. Then with 18 seconds to go Adam Carlson kicked a 47 yard field goal to put us ahead 17-14.

We kicked off to Ole Miss and the receiver was tackled immediately. The next and final play Brent Schaeffer, the Ole Miss quarterback, was sacked for the last play of the game.

We had played a lousy game for three and a half quarters but found a way to win. Needless to say we were all going crazy. Coach Croom got the big State flag and ran around the field with it. A glorious game. It was great to see the players carrying around the Golden Egg trophy. It is called the Egg and the game is the Egg Bowl because the trophy has a golden football on it that looks like an egg. Over the years it has changed as they have added bottoms to have room to carve the score from each game on it. We have played Ole Miss 104 times.

On Monday Ole Miss "croomed" their head coach Ed Orgeron. To be croomed means to be fired after losing to State. Alabama and Florida did that in previous years.

Back at the game, we had another tradition to fulfill. We always go over to the dairy department and get MSU ice cream. They have unusual flavors but the kids get chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry anyway. That is just like their mother. When she was little, Anne would spend a long time picking out her flavor of ice cream, then in the end she would ask for vanilla. I usually get muscadine. (Spellcheck doesn't like muscadine. It wants me to change it to mescalin, not likely for me! Evidently this is not a Southern spellchecker.)

But this time I decided to go to the bookstore. I figured the dairy would be a mad house. I went to the bookstore where it was a mad house anyway. The MSU basketball game from California was on the TV at the cafe. I bought a new book, The Egg Bowl. I bought this as a reference book but found it fascinating so I have read it like a novel.

Walking back to the bus stop, I saw little kids walking on three long rows of MSU drink cups. I asked and they let me have one. They said they had 307 cups. I needed one to send to my niece's husband in Savannah, GA, an Ole Miss fan who sent me an Ole Miss cup after last year's game.

Then it was to the bus to the Tech center then to The Lodge, which sells MSU gear. I bought three cowbells for the kids as a Christmas gift. There were more cowbells at the Ole Miss game than I have heard in years. Technically they are forbidden at the games. They aren't checking purses, etc, anymore. I would like to take my cowbell but I can't take a chance on it getting confiscated. George Rodney bought this bell the first day he was on the MSU campus in 1961.

Back on the road we listened to the overtime of the LSU-Arkansas game and I was very disappointed that LSU lost.

What a great day it was! And I have been able to relive it as I have watched the replay on Tv three times. Also there are some good clips on Youtube. My favorite is the goodbye to Orgeron one, which shows the highlights of the game, while Elvis sings I Did It My Way. I watch that a lot.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We beat Ole Miss Friday. I was there and then I have watched the replay on TV three times since.

The family Thanksgiving was at my house this year. Beth had too much work for them to come up.

First to arrive were James, Rene, Justin, Brittney, and Newman. Newman is now six months old and such a cute little boy. He is crawling. He crawled and the five of us just watched him, fascinated at everything he did.

Since Brittney is his step-daughter, James has never before had a little baby around. He is just stunned at how much he enjoys Newman.

Next to arrive were the Ruckers from Nashville. Then June from Arkansas. They were the ones that came the most miles and the ones that thought they would late.

I had my food and Rene brought a cake which gave rise to real worries from the triplets who kept telling me that we did not have enough food. Of course, in the end, we had food coming out of our ears. At every Southern gathering there has to be too much food and the men have to overeat. Those are the rules and my family follows them.

Others coming were Janice, Keith, Desiree, Jonathan, Nola, Denee,Julia, Cindy, Paige, and Morgan. And John, Charlotte had to work.

Nola is now a month old. It was so great to have two babies here. They were the big entertainment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I had a dilemma for this past weekend. I wanted to go to two different events hundreds of miles apart.

I have been looking forward to the Alabama-Mississippi State game, which was this past Saturday. I really, really wanted to go. I always have hope that we will win and if we did, I wanted to be there.

On the other hand, the triplets were in a Veterans' Day program at their school. I wanted to see that but it will be taped and I can see it later. Of course, I would be able to see the Alabama game later also.

The game was at 11:30. I considered, maybe I could leave Starkville and drive straight to Nashville for the program. That wouldn't work.

Until earlier in the week, I was determined to go to the game. But I got hold of myself, made the correct decision, and went to Nashville for the children's program.

The Alabama-MSU game was an SEC game of the week but so was the Tennessee-Arkansas game. The TV stations had a choice of the games and I knew that Tennessee stations would pick up the TN-AR game.

But I would watch the Al-MSU game on my TV. That is what I thought. Illogical and stupid as it was, I turned on my TV at 11:30 thinking that I was going to see maroon and white. Of course, I saw orange.

Unfortunately, I was also unable to log onto Maroon to the Max, the subscription service that allows me to hear the radio broadcast of MSU sports. I clicked, clicked, clicked on the log in icon but it never worked.

I wound up "watching" the game on the CBS sportsline website. They show where the ball is and give a recap of each play.

We won! We won!

I wish I could have been there. One of my life goals is to be sitting on the crossbar of the goalposts when they come down after a great MSU victory. Ken says I am crazy, that I will be killed. But I am old now so it won't be that big of a loss. He says I'm too short to get up there. I tell him I have a son-in-law who will help me. He says no way.

I am so sorry I could not be there but I am happy that I made the right decision. I was able to watch the replay on TV later in the week. It was much more comfortable to watch knowing the outcome.

The school's program included all the first through fifth grade classes so the program was held at the very large Brentwood Baptist Church.

Ken, his mother Margie Rucker, and I went together. Ken is very sick with diverticulitis and should not have gone. He had a blanket in the car in case he had to go lie down in the car. He suffered throughout the program but he endured till the end.

Gina Rucker, the children's aunt, came in late. She had forgotten the program and had gone to the Tennessee-Arkansas game in Knoxville.

The program was the best school program I have ever seen. It was worth paying for, and I would think that even if my grandchildren were not in it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Monday Jay and I explored rural Pennsylvania. As with Ohio, I am always surprised at how much rural Pennsylvania there is.

First we took the Pennsylvania turnpike to Shanksville. I don't much like the toll road but people tell me I can't take it with me.

We were hungry for lunch so we stopped at a small store in shanksville. It looked a lot like Enloe Burress's store. We got sandwiches and ice cream. Then as we were paying, we spied the treasure. A plate of homemade chocolate oatmeal cookies, the no baking kind Mother used to make. We all love them and Jay especially adores them so we each bought three.

Then we drove out to the site of the September 11, 2001, crash of Flight 93. Happily the road has been newly paved.

Other things new since we were there a few years ago are benches, a gravel pad, and a small National Park Service building. We listened to a lecture from the volunteer. The place is manned during daylight hours by people from the area who volunteer to talk and answer questions from tourists.

I love this place. It is so meaningful. However, the Park Service has plans for a hundred million interpretive center. I think that will be a step down from what there is now.

People leave all kinds of things on the fence walls. Baseball caps, licence plates, signs, city limits signs, etc. They are periodically cleaned off by the volunteers and place in storage in a warehouse. By desire of the families, a rotating exhibit of these offerings will be shown in the new fancy memorial.

Next Jay and I headed to Johnstown. This is where in 1889 more than 2000 people died in the Johnston flood.

There was a sportsman's club in the mountains above Johnstown that had a lake. The club was owned by wealthy steelmen from Pittsburgh, including Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. It was not well maintained, and what they did, it was usually pointed toward increasing the amount of bass in the lake for fishing. The spillway was compromised because they did not want to lose more bass.

On the fateful day it rained seven inches in the Johnstown area. The dam broke and a huge wall of water swept down the valley, taking with it, houses, trains, warehouses, bridges, and the lives of two thousand people.

We toured the Johnstown Flood museum. I noticed a plaque giving credit to Representative John Murtha for his help in getting the federal government to partly fund the museum. That is the Murtha who is in the house leadership. Since I have read how much pork barrel money he is responsible for sending to this district. He is the House equivalent of Senator Byrd.

The Johnstown flood is where Clara Barton started her Red Cross relief efforts. Beside the museum is a Johnstown cottage, the 19th century equivalent of a Katrina cottage. The Johnstown cottage was meant as temporary housing for the survivors, most of whom spent many months in tents on the mountainsides.

Back on the road we went to Indiana, Pennsylvania, home of the late actor Jimmy Stewart, my brother James's idol. We got there just as the museum closed, but we got to read some things in the lobby, and we took pictures by his statue.

Then it was back to Pittsburgh for the night.

Tuesday was going home day. I dropped Jay off about 1:30 and started driving back home. My GPS was not charging properly so I had to make my own way home. I did fine. I think I was like the kid learning to ride a bike. I think I am protected by my sister June holding onto the back of the bike, but really she let go and I riding by myself. Similarly, going to Pittsburgh I gave all the credit to the Garmin. I had to come home by myself and I did just as well, so maybe I have become a good driver of even big cities I have never before been to.

Maybe now I can just drive where ever I want to go. In the last few years, I have driven through Memphis, Jackson (MS), Baton Rouge, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Columbia, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Charlotte, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. I have also driven through cities out west, but nothing was such a thrill to me as driving Julia's new Cadillac down the strip in Las Vegas. I hope George Rodney could see me doing that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sunday was our day to explore Pittsburgh.

First we needed to find downtown. I didn't have a street address for the Garmin but Jay suggested 101 Main Street. That worked and I used it for other towns.

Going into Pittsburgh itself we went through a tunnel and coming out on the other side, we saw a beautiful scene of downtown Pittsburgh with the three rivers, the Monagahela and the Allegheny joining to make the Ohio. Jay was surprised but the day before one of the MSU people at our table had mentioned how wonderful this view was.

We went to an area of Pittsburgh known as the Strip. It has a lot of restaurants and shops. I wanted to eat at a place that advertised itself as Totally Italian. Unfortunately we found out it was a store, selling the ingredients for Italian cooking.

We ate at a bar that had an outside balcony over the street. The day was nice again, neither hot nor cold. Of course, cold blooded me took a jacket and wore it a lot.

Pittsburgh loves the Steelers and does not seem to much love the University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steeler merchandise is everywhere. In the malls every store carries Steeler clothing and then will have a store that only sells Steeler clothing.

The street merchants had mostly Steeler merchandise. Game jerseys were $5. Pittsburghers wear their jerseys on Sundays even when the Steelers are not in town.

After looking over the area, we went to go up the incline to get a good view of Pittsburgh. I programmed the address into the Garmin, but when we got there we realized that we were at the top of the incline. We walked onto a vacant lot and got the good view we were after.

Next we visited Clayton, the house of the steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. I enjoy visiting houses so much. I think it is a female pasttime as Jay was the only guy on the tour.

In Pittsburgh people pronounce the name of Andrew Carnegie as Car-neg-ee, with the emphasis on the neg. I had always heard that as Car-nuh-gee, with the emphasis on the Car.

That night we watched the Steelers on Tv. They lost.

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