THEY DID IT!!!

Our beloved boys of fallwinterspring grabbed the brass ring and brought it home!! The joy, exuberant spirit, and sheer relief are palpable through the walls and it’s healing to wallow in all of it while it lasts.

Kim and I walked Mass Street around 4pm yesterday and with traffic blocked it was all people, all the time, with hours left until tip-off. The air was full of happy anticipation, with long lines outside venues offering watch parties. We came home, made pizza, as one does in these situations, and watched the game in the relative quiet of our own place, hearts in our throats ’til the final seconds. Simultaneous with the closing buzzer a roar went up from the streets, we tied our tennies on our feet, grabbed sweatshirts, and romped one block west to see it all for ourselves. I’d hedged about doing that since I’m just 3mo post-op after my back surgery, but when it might well be a once-in-a-lifetime thing… no regrets. I took a hiking pole, hung onto Kim, and celebrated. Put my spine in the shelter of a parking meter, held on, and watched the sea of happy humanity parade south, likely only to snake its way back north at some point. It was an exquisite sight.

It was stunning to see how quickly Lawrence converged on downtown, with thousands of students streaming down from The Hill after watching the game in Allen Fieldhouse, and other people hoofing it in from all directions. I sensed no bent toward celebratory destruction, just a happy, thankful, somewhat inebriated vibe. There was a low-key, benevolent police presence, with extra personnel brought in from the KC area for the party, and they seemed part and parcel of the night. They were appropriately industrial-size and sober-faced but friendly and helpful, and registered no concern over the myriad open containers passing under their noses, nor the sweet scent of weed permeating the atmosphere. A very mellow kind of noisy happiness was going on and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it. Neither of us thought to take a selfie to prove we were there… but neither will we ever forget it.

Eighth Street was a party all day, from early to late, and when we walked back home it looked like a brewery had exploded, but I’d put money on the street having been swept and scrubbed before the sun came up this morning, along with Mass and all its tributaries. Lawrence loves to party and knows how, so we get to keep doing it.

The scene on our corner, with our building in the background, while the outcome of the game was still in question…

In the nine years since we moved here, the Royals have won the World Series, the Chiefs the Super Bowl, and now the Jayhawks the National Championship… such a richness of human spirit in a world that could use a bigger share of the wealth. In hard times that won’t quit, there’s something about a group of individuals melding themselves into a team and winning the big prize that takes us out of ourselves. And we love them for it… with their gifts and talents and achingly-perfect forms, they’ve briefly rescued us from the pall of failure, death, weakness, and discouragement. We desperately need our heroes… kudos to the parents who bear and raise them, these beautiful young men and women who are our future.

ROCK CHALK!!

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… and one to go!

There is joy in Mudville this morning, and we’re collectively gearing up for the final round, happening tomorrow night. The bluest of the blue-bloods are duking it out, you see what I did there, and the excitement only builds.

Massachusetts Street yesterday immediately after the game ended… all photos courtesy of the Lawrence Journal World.

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Party tomorrow night starts at 8:30, win, lose, or draw! Be there!!

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Oh, the finality…

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR

It’s past noon on Friday and the suspense hasn’t killed us yet, but I do admit to being more than a little elated over the fact that the Jayhawks have reached this point in the annual madness, while the verdict inches ever closer. On this cool sunshiny day, Mass Street is gearing up to shut off traffic during tomorrow’s big party, which will grow exponentially after dark if we win… and wouldn’t it be grand. In the times that try men’s souls, a smidgen of hope goes a long way… a little happiness becomes a lot of it… and spirits rise or fall on the fortunes of our sports icons… so we remember Seabiscuit, and we wait. This was the scene on Massachusetts in 2008, last time KU won the NCAA Championship. Pretty sure everybody’s recovered enough to do it again!

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Meanwhile, a bit of distraction lifted from my friend Ned Hickson of “Humor at the Speed of Life” fame on Oregon Public Radio…

Ned knows carnivals. I’d trust him with my life.

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Going mad…

Two memories from the depths of the pandemic… how deadly quiet it got here in East Lawrence, and the absence of sports events on TV. We’d sit on our 4th-floor balcony and talk about how we missed all the walkers, joggers, baby-strollers, and dog-exercisers. Also street traffic, which slowed to nonexistent at times. Sports returned before the outdoor rumble did, and we were like starving refugees, indiscriminately watching every offering. I know some of my theater friends, reading friends, blogging friends might wonder if I actually like watching televised sports or if it’s a way to stay cuddly with Kimmers. Nope, I really mean it, I genuinely get into basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, football. They lose me at auto racing, bowling, soccer, and hockey, but all of it is real people doing real things, so that’s a plus, even if some of them are getting paid outrageous piles of cash for royally entertaining the masses.

DISCLAIMER: The KIMN8R taught me to belch properly, and I’ve learned some choice new language under his instruction, so he has a real buddy to watch ball with… bonus, right?

My earliest memory of “sports” as a thing comes from playing on the living room carpet at my grandparents’ house while Grandpa watched Major League baseball on their little black & white TV. The distinctive cadence of the announcer’s voice, the rumble and roll of the intriguing Hammond B3 accompanying the action, the aroma of Grandpa’s pipe and the crackle of the daily paper as he read it cover to cover before working the crossword puzzle in ink, comforting smells from Grandma’s kitchen… it’s all with me forever. I had the world in those moments… security, love, family, and a sense that there was terrific stuff out there to find out about. So the world of sports, however intense it may be at times, is comfort food to me.

This week the phenomenon that is March Madness gets underway and we’re happy campers. The First Four started it off Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight at 9pm we’ll see Kansas against Texas Southern if we can stay awake for it. Joke. We’ll be awake.

In a time when joy has been harder to come by, college basketball has helped with the empty feeling. We cheer the Jayhawks every year and talk about them like we knew them, and we follow kids on other teams as we watch them play week by week. When they hit the NBA, we remember them with a silly sense of pride, like we had some part in it. Nothing’s pure, not much is straight-up what it really is, but the world of college ball FEELS different from pro sports, politics, and war… therefore, it’s mostly encouraging and refreshing. Bring on the big ol’ challenges, NCAA… it’s time to DANCE!

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Chillin’… page 212

Lac Simon, Duhamel, Qc, Canada

Day 331 – 02/09/2021

Took the day yesterday to chill… both figuratively and literally. Outside temps stayed frigid and it was snowy-ish all day, but toasty in here. We didn’t turn on TV until after 5pm and the peaceful quiet inside and out was curative. Had to process the Super Bowl game a little because I have such respect and a mama’s heart for Patrick Mahomes – the sad truth is that he showed up to play, as did the Bucs’ squad, but the Chiefs weren’t sure about the whole thing and Patrick, playing injured, tried to make up the difference. Hard to pull off two SB’s in a row, but damn, guys, you were there to try.

There was sweetness after dark last night to more than compensate – the Jayhawks beat OSU, in Allen Fieldhouse, and looked like a team while doing it. That’s fun right there, and we’ll take more of it – all their remaining games would be fine.

Note to future self: I’m fully aware of the complete inequities involved in the things we make important, but everything finally sifts down to life or death, joy or sorrow, love or its opposite, indifference. A ballgame, won or lost, can’t change the calamitous situations we face… but bread and circuses have always kept societies manageable and we willingly buy in for lack of a better plan.

Gonna be cold all week so I’ll just stay here and keep my little corner of the world cozy – that’ll be best for all concerned.

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The world on a blue marble…

fog

 

sunday

air cold sky gray drizzle

time for this patch of earth to be

an ice rink

again

 

good day

killer breakfast

cozy fire

man playing liquid melodies

on a champagne stratocaster

 

sweet day

snuggled in blankets

voyeurs of the sportsing

hot chocolate yes please

small world all is well

JSmith 01/7/2018

 

 

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Grown Up Game Day Cheesy Beer Dip

The Kansas Jayhawks will be playing basketball in about twenty minutes over on the hill and here on HD, so we’re in Snack Mode.  Here’s a variation on the usual white-guy queso, and I’m sure you can think of all kinds of ways to personalize it.  Enjoy!

 

Beer Cheese Dip

 

“There are certain times when we are totally okay with indulging in ridiculously yummy foods that we know are probably less than great for our health. Sitting around and watching the big game with friends and family is one of those times when we’re just happy to be around loved ones and we like to soak it all in. (Much like the piece of bread when we dunk it into this dip!)

This beer cheese dip is sinfully delicious and we’re not sorry! Use your favorite beer—keeping in mind that lighter draughts will produce a lighter dip and vice versa—and cheese, gradually melt and blend it all together and you’re golden. You do need to plan out the rest of your party prep, since this dip is best made right before serving, but it’s really easy and packs a flavorful punch, sure to be everyone’s favorite!”

 

Beer Cheese Dip
Yield: 2-2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup ale or lager (or your choice beer; light and crisp will result in a lighter sauce, etc.)
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese (optional)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
tortilla chips, for serving
Directions

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add in flour. Stir roux for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and pasty and flour has had a chance to cook (but not burn).
Whisking continuously, gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Then pour in beer and stir until fully incorporated.
Raise heat to medium-high and let mixture simmer lightly. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Continuing to stir, let cook for about 4 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
1/3 cup at a time, add in grated cheese and stir until (almost) fully melted. Then add another handful. Continue with remaining cheese.
Once mixture is smooth and thick, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips, crackers, or slices of toasted baguette.

Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma

http://12tomatoes.com/2015/01/grown-up-game-day-cheesy-beer-dip.html

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The view from here …

Watching this year’s Winter Olympics has been a unique experience for me. It fully dawned this time that rather than a contest among nations, it’s hundreds of contests between worthy opponents who have spent most of their lives preparing for the moments in which we see them. Geographically speaking, the point is not which country won which medals, but which athletes earned the title of Best. I find that I see so much more if my eyes aren’t trained solely on the American athlete in the race. It’s very moving to see how each entrant has trained his or her body — every muscle, joint, and cell — to do the chosen feat. It’s poetry. And when the color and design of a flag take a back seat to individual effort, the games emerge as what they are: an incredible sampling of humanity, a dazzling parade of young faces, bodies, and spirits — people who will never again be quite this young and beautiful and perfect, but are just wise and reckless enough to squeeze the life out of Life as they streak past. God bless the world.

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Super Bowl 2013

San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl wallpaper Thumbnail Large

My California boy has infected me with love for his team. We’ve been wearing our SF shirts since we rolled out of bed this morning — Go 49ers!

 

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The battle of the Harbaugh boys …

Super Bowl 2013

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