Monday, September 29, 2014

Loyal Boilers

We spent a beautiful Saturday in the shadow of Ross-Ade Stadium enjoying tasty food, good friends, and tailgate fun. We started attending Purdue football games on a regular basis in the mid nineties, and have been making it part of our fall ever since. These days we pack tents, tables, toys, and toilet paper, chairs, coolers, cornhole, and koozies, and enough food for the whole neighborhood.
When we first started backing our Boilermaker boys of fall, we didn't have the perfect spot in the front row of the R Lot. We parked here and there, wherever we could maneuver a 12 passenger silver van, which could be on the intramural field, at the nearby high school, or squeezed into the yard of some entrepreneurial college students looking to make a few bucks on a Saturday morning.
We've seen our share of ups and downs on the football field, from the days of coach Tiller, to Hope, to Hazell. While we're currently struggling a bit, one of the highlights on Saturday was an awesome sack on the Iowa quarterback by freshman linebacker Gelen Robinson, son of  famous Boilermaker baller, Glenn 'Big Dog' Robinson. Not to be confused with this big dog, who was roaming around the tailgate lot.
Although our friend Tyler is a Boilermaker alumni, he has roots back in Iowa and cheers for the Hawkeyes. We like him anyway. Especially Matthew. They go way back. To the day Matthew was born. :)
Back in the day, we had seats in the south end zone. We liked that perspective for watching the plays develop, snagging the occasional glove or wristband from a Boiler as he exited the field, or heckling an opposing player lined up for a kickoff return. Lewwwww-isssss. We watched kicks sail through the uprights (well, I didn't), held our breath as catches were made or dropped, and cringed at the sound of a big hit (well, I did). Sitting in the south end zone sometimes put us shoulder to shoulder with the opposing team's band who had a song in their repertoire for every down and every penalty. (Play the holding song!)
In the early days, we didn't arrive hours before kickoff. In fact, most of the time we were booking it to get to campus, get the tickets passed out, and get in our seats in time for the pregame show. I am the ticket keeper, and one time, as I was hurriedly passing out tickets, a security guard informed me that I wasn't allowed to sell tickets that close to the stadium. I told him not to worry, I was just distributing them to my family. :)
On Saturday, since it was Homecoming, Andrew and Darci got to be on the field to welcome the team with Darci's fellow athletic training alumni. The Boilermaker Extra-Special led the team out through fire and smoke. Unfortunately, we didn't smoke our opponents.
When the smoke cleared, the field fans had to make a quick exit to make room for the entrance of the Hawkeyes. There go Andrew and Darci!

And here come the Hawkeyes!

One of my favorite parts of the pregame is the reading of I Am An American, by Roy Johnson, voice of the Purdue "All-American" marching band:

I am an American. That's the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully. I am an American.

We always tried to guess ahead of time what he would say for the description of the sky. On Saturday, it was "bright September". Of course, the whole crowd chimes in on the last line:  I AM AN AMERICAN!
 Matthew removed his hat for the singing of the national anthem.
The basketball team was introduced with a surf board letting the crowd know that they will be playing in the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving break. Aloha Boilermakers!
The halftime show was a salute to the Wizard of Oz in honor of its 50th anniversary. They even had a group of 'munchkins' running through the 'yellow brick (flag) road.'
They included songs from the original Wizard of Oz, and also from 'The Wiz' and 'Wicked', which it inspired.

It was a great day for football, even though the scoreboard didn't end up in our favor. What was favorable, was time spent together, and the tradition of family, friends, fun and football. Boiler Up!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Goodbye Brees

We said goodbye to our dog, Brees, this week. We got her when Jim's cousin Tom's dog had her first litter of pups back in 2000. They were right next door, and too cute to resist. We named her after our favorite quarterback who led our team to the Rose Bowl that year.

Here is Adam holding little Brees in my parents' driveway.
 She appeared in David's senior picture. (All the girls wanted that one. Aww.)
And she also appeared in our Christmas card. The Boilers were bound for Pasadena, and we were too! (All but the dog, of course.) Notice that while Andrew and I were trying to wrangle the dog, Adam is keeping a fingertip hold on the most precious Drew Brees autographed football. :)

Two years later, another litter was born next door, and we added Mini to the family - 'Mini Brees' to be precise. While they looked alike as young puppies, Brees grew to be a darker, rust colored gold, while Mini was the blonde. They were a pair, Brees and Mini. Mini and Brees.
They lived outside on the farm, and spent their days chasing cats, greeting visitors, and accepting treats from the girls in the office. In recent years, we had them shaved in the summer to keep them more comfortable in the heat, and get rid of that dirty old winter coat. This was Brees last summer in a 'before and after' haircut shot. It was later last summer that Mini died. I wrote about it here.
Brees was the more independent of the two dogs, so while she did okay without Mini, we could tell she missed her. At age 14, her hearing was gone, and she didn't see too well.  She had thyroid issues, and arthritis made it hard for her to get around.

In the last few weeks, a young cat had been hanging around, and Jim took this photo when he found them snuggled up together in Brees' dog house a few days before she died. I think animals have a special sense about life and death and the connection between living things. And while the cat may return, we have, interestingly, not seen it since Brees died.

Sweet dreams, Brees. We'll miss you. We loved you.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small.
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Faith for the Harvest #TBTStories

In honor of the start of harvest this week, my Throwback Thursday Stories #TBTStories post today features a photo from the fall of 1988. David was almost 6, Jonathan 1, Jennifer almost 3, and Andrew 4. Seed corn was harvested on the ear and brought to the lot beside the barn. The red wagons filled with yellow corn against that bright blue autumn sky just begged for a photo atop the pile.
I love looking at this picture, because it brings back memories of little smiling faces, the vivid colors of the day, and the feel of fall in the air. The sweet smelling breeze filled with the dust of corn, or 'bees wings', swirls through the sky and pulls you right up to the edge of autumn. The sound of the dryer rattles day and night, as does the drone of the combine in a field nearby, making haste toward the timely completion of the harvest.

Dear God, just now I ask your blessing on the season of harvest which is upon us. I pray for safety in the fields, on the roads, in daylight, and in darkness for those who labor diligently on farms nearby and across the land. Give us grateful hearts for every opportunity, and for the abundance with which we are blessed. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:7

Friday, September 19, 2014

Movers and Shakers

Last weekend was a busy one, and I'm finally getting around to a little recap. On Friday, Adam closed on his house! It's so exciting that he is no longer homeless. Ha! When he got back to the his house after the closing, we were there in the driveway ready to unload the first wave of 'stuff' one needs to set up a home. (My grandma alway said, "when they went to housekeeping.") We borrowed a nice truck from Don Meyer Ford (thanks Jon!), and Jon and Andrew helped Jim with the loading on this end, while Adam and David were there to unload at the new homestead. Teamwork!
Of course, he is still missing some key pieces of furniture, so the floor had to suffice for a little rest when the work was done. Is Jim snoring?
We were back the next morning to pick up the tailgating crew and head to downtown Indy for the Purdue/Notre Dame game. Our van, the silver bullet' has been earning her keep for over 15 years on occasions just like this one, and has covered over 250,000 miles. We're not sure of the exact number since the odometer quit working. Thankfully, the rest of her is going strong!
It was a beautiful day in the tailgate neighborhood, with a great view of Lucas Oil Stadium. It did take a bit of maneuvering to get satisfactorily situated in Tailgate Town, but we were soon up and running. There was food to eat, music to enjoy, prizes to win, plates to buy, and all sorts of activities around the town. And the weather was perfect!
Our new flagpole is awesome! Happy Birthday, Jim! :)
Time for some cornhole!
Spirit tattoos for the ladies.
Megan and Jim share some dessert.
 Shaking up some team spirit. Go Boilers!
It was great to have Adam's high school friends Jay, George, and Cory join us for the festivities.
Chellsey, Megan, and Courtney.
Cory, Jay, George, and Adam. Together again.
And just for fun, here are a couple of photos of the same group from spring break in Grand Cayman their senior year of high school.
 Waaaayyyy back in 2009. :)

Back to the present… Shylah and David enjoying Tailgate Town.
It was tricky, but we even managed to get Jonathan in and parked after he finished working.
He also ran into some 'old' friends, Ciara and Tim. They're married now, and Jon claims just a little credit for the matchmaking. #lookinfor#12
Here's the whole group.
And another of the real whole group taken by a neighboring tailgater so I could get in it. Yay.
Big Purdue Pete standing behind Adam, Shylah, and David. Hammer Down!
After a loooonnnngg walk up the ramps in Lucas Oil Stadium, we were finally in our seats. And here come the Boilers!!
 The roof is open!
 David and Matthew ready for the game.
 Granny, David, and Matthew.
The Boilers played well (which was a nice surprise), but still came up short in the end. We won't have to play those pesky Irish again until September 19, 2020. For now, we'll just keep backin' our Boilers!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Make Me Smile #TBTStories

We're having family photos taken this weekend, so I thought I would pull some old ones out of the archives for inspiration. I did a quick google search of 'awkward family photos', and I didn't find us there, but it may be only a matter of time….

This one was taken when Jim's family all gathered for an overnight in Cincinnati back in 1991. All 15 cousins were together for the first time ever, and we enjoyed playing in the Holidome and watching old home movies. The next morning, we went to a nearby park to take some photos. What you can't tell from the picture is that it was COLD! Poor little one-year-old Adam, still sporting his bald head, was undoubtedly freezing! Thankfully, the photographer worked quickly, and we got pictures of the whole group, Jim's parents with the kids, and grandkids, as well as some individual family shots.

The second one was taken at my parents' house. Oh, the denim. :) I think it was the year 2000 or thereabouts, and it was similar in format to the photo above. We took large group shots of my parents, children, and grandchildren, then took a few of the individual families.
This weekend, we will be repeating the pattern with our kids and grandkids. I'm just wondering if we should try to recreate of of these poses for old times' sake. I'll bring the denim! :)