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Category Archive: Wisdom

Mar 09

Bring on the Brackets! Basketball in March—the way it is supposed to be played. (From archived columns and first published on March 7, 2012, in The Examiner, an eastern Jackson County daily newspaper.)

“Basketball is a game that gives you every chance to be great, and puts every pressure on you to prove that you haven’t got what it takes. It never takes away the chance, and it never eases up on the pressure.”– Coach Bob Sundvold (former head coach at UCM and assistant coach at Mizzou and Missouri State)

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I guess you could say that the game of basketball during March Madness is the way it is supposed to be played – flying high just like kites in the March wind.

During most of the regular season, basketball players know the pressure never eases up, and they know they have a chance to play well.

Normal everyday operating procedure for a ball team.

Come March, however, they know they have a chance not just to play well but also to be great, exactly what Coach Bob Sundvold said. And certainly, they know the pressure will ratchet up.

March Madness blows in with a fury each year when we flip the calendar from February to March, as though the weatherman just announced a severe wind advisory.

Conference championship tournaments begin, and miraculously and mysteriously, these very same players who played reasonably well during the regular season, now can fly and perform other inhuman feats, for one, levitating themselves toward the basket. Simply put, it is March Madness and flying happens, among other remarkable things.

We have seen it before, but we do not understand it.

Award-winning novelist John Edgar Wideman, described what basketball is like when it is played the way it is supposed to be played, especially in the month of March: “…basketball happens in the air; flying, floating, elevated above the floor, levitating the way oppressed peoples of this earth imagine themselves in their dreams.”

That thought leads me to an epic game played on March 12, 2009, at Madison Square Garden between Syracuse and Connecticut. Syracuse, No. 18, beat No. 4 Connecticut in six overtimes 127-117. According to an AP story at the time, everyone was left “exhausted, and except for the losing team, exhilarated.”

I know we were watching every minute of it in our household. When the game went into the first overtime, we thought we should call it a night, but just couldn’t quit watching. And according to my ESPN research, the game did not end until 1:22 a.m., three hours and 46 minutes after it began. I remember the exhaustion and the exhilaration.

Furthermore, I didn’t really care who won because it was the fact that the game was mesmerizing, played just the way it should be in March.

Not only were the players on Syracuse and Connecticut elevating themselves to astonishing heights and greatness, they were also enduring implausible pressure.

According to the AP account of the game, Jonny Flynn, a Syracuse point guard, inexplicably “had 34 points and 11 assists in a game-high 67 minutes, only three fewer than were played.”

The kid played 67 minutes without sitting down!

And that is why I love March Madness. They play the game the way it is supposed to be played—flying high.

Bring on the brackets!

Dec 25

The Christmas grandma forgot to cook. First printed in December of 2006 in The Examiner, an eastern Jackson County daily newspaper.

With apologies to author Clement Clark Moore who was thought to have penned  ’The Night Before Christmas’ in 1823. Here’s my take on this delightful Christmas classic poem…

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‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the house, the grandkids were running and chasing a mouse.

The stockings, hung by the chimney with care, were falling into the fire before I could get there.

Only one of the grandkids was nestled snug in her bed, while her brother and cousins danced and jumped on their heads.

Papa in his slippers, and I in my wrap, longed to settle down for a cozy afternoon nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, more grandkids arrived to add to the chatter.

Away to the coffee table I flew like a flash, put away vases, pictures and books before they were trashed.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, meant more kith and kin would come soon with toddlers in tow.

When what to my aging eyes should appear, but a van load of college students with eight cans of beer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Uncle Rick.

More rapid than eagles, the relatives came, as I whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now, Auntie! Now, Uncle! Now, Nephew and Niece! On, Grandpa! On Grandson! On Brother and Sis!”

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, Papa whispered, “Dash away! Dash away! Dash away all.”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, the hungry settled round the table ready to eat ‘til they die.

So up to the kitchen, I flew like a flash, threw open the empty cupboards and searched for some cash.

With a purse full of bills and no time to blink, I drove straight to the deli but was soon back at the sink.

There was no food to be had in our little berg; the shops were all closed, the keepers gone home. There was nothing to feed this hungry, wild herd.

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the drive, the screeching and stopping of each giant tire.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney the Schwan’s man came with a bound.

A bundle of boxes he had flung on his back, and he looked like a St. Nicholas just opening his pack.

My eyes how they twinkled! My heart how merry! He had entrees, desserts, and even frozen cherries.

He had hams and turkeys, gravy and pie. Casseroles, pizzas, chicken, oh my!

A wink of his eye and a check of his supply, soon gave me to know there was plenty to buy.

There were scalloped potatoes, California blend veggies, green beans and corn, frozen fruits galore, peppermint ice cream and chocolate cake rolls.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work and filled our fridge, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, into his yellow truck he rose.

I sprang to the task; serving up the stash, and to my guests gave a whistle.
They flew to the table like down on a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,

“Next year lady, buy your food ahead a fortnight (and don’t forget to cook)!”

Nov 03

From my archived newspaper columns: The final neighborhood garage sale is never the last (Or…”Hubby covets neighbors garage sale trash”)

(From my archived columns, first published in The Examiner. The Examiner is a daily newspaper published Tuesday through Saturday, serving Eastern Jackson County, Mo.)

 

 

“So that you’ll never be tempted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale, allow me to explain how they go. Friday night you’re up until two in the morning marking prices on all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. At this point you’re almost psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your inventory at slightly over twenty-two thousand dollars.”–W. Bruce Cameron, author, columnist and humorist.

My neighbors and I are planning our “final” garage sale.

Thus, a definition of the word “final” might be in order here. According to Encarta Encyclopedia, the word means the last of a number or series of similar things. “Final” also means conclusive and allowing no further discussion.

Such as involving a garage sale, the last garage sale, in fact, that my neighbors and I will ever have.

We mean it this time, too.

No one believes us.

We are deadly serious though because the upcoming fall sale will be conclusively the last, positively the last, and without a shadow of a doubt, the last garage sale! There will be no further discussion of this either, we neighbors agree.

But we lie. Here’s the proof.

Neighbor, we’ll call her Susan, once signed a pledge written by her husband promising to never again hold or participate in a yard or garage sale or any other kind of rummage sale. Another neighbor, let’s call her Kathy, announced clearly and adamantly that she was finished, done, spent. No more garage sales for her. The third neighbor, we’ll name her Sandy, was too busy and was simply running out of things to sell and, yes, running out of interest, too.

Yet, we are doing it again.

One of the neighbors, not to be mentioned by name, was well ahead of the rest of us. Early on, she began the process of dragging her basement treasures to the garage thus forcing her husband to park outside days ahead of the sale. Her garage was overflowing with clothes racks, tables, and miscellaneous “like-new, priced-to-sell” household items, naturally there was no room for a car. Makes perfect sense to me.

Meanwhile, my husband, who incidentally never fails to notice anything that could possibly be free-of-charge, observed that said neighbor was cleaning out her house and bringing lots of non-worthy garage sale items to the curb for the morning trash pickup.

He began to covet her trash, in particular stacks of empty plastic 5-gallon buckets.

When I called to ask about the buckets, my neighbor’s husband answered the phone. “Could hubby have them,” I asked him.

“He wouldn’t want them, they aren’t any good. I drilled holes in them to water flowers,” came the reply.

Five minutes later my spousal unit was in their driveway snatching the buckets in the dark of night. He reported back to me that they were perfect for carrying boards, tools, bricks and rocks, and would work just fine.

Of course they would, I thought, and they will work just fine in my garage sale in the spring, too.

That is, of course, if I have a garage sale, you understand.

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