"" Writer's Wanderings: November 2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Butch Davis Resigns As Browns Coach

Four years ago, we happened to be on a cruise with the coaching staff of the Florida State football team. The last day of the cruise we entered the dining room and were seated at a table with a very nice couple that we didn't immediately recognize. After the third or fourth person walked up and thanked the man sitting across from us, we realized we were eating breakfast with Bobby Bowden and his wife. What a wonderful unpretentious couple. We quipped about OSU football and mentioned that the Browns were getting a new coach, Butch Davis, from Miami.

Bobby Bowden emphasized how lucky we were. "He's a really good guy," he said.

Our first two seasons with Davis looked promising culminating in a playoff game in the second season. Then things slid downhill. We hoped this would be the year.

In May, we were returning from our son's graduation at U of M in Florida. A man got on the plane with his son and sat a couple rows in front of us in coach. He looked a lot like Butch Davis and I pointed him out to my husband. We concluded it was a "look alike". Surely the coach of the Browns would be flying first class. As we exited the plane in Cleveland we heard several people wish him well in the coming season and then realized that indeed it had been Coach Davis and his son flying with us.

Unfortunately all the well-wishers were disappointed as our season hopes disappeared with an injured playmaker and a quarterback that did more complaining than performing. Still, the blame came to rest on Coach Davis. Today, he resigned.

Davis cites all the controversy taking a toll on the team and his family as the reason for resigning now. I'm sure a job prospect in Florida is part of that too. I remember Bobby Bowden's words, "He's a good guy." He is. He has conducted himself with humility, grace, and tact in an atmosphere of fan-aticism that would just as soon chew him up and spit him out. It's sad that nice guys sometimes finish last. I hope Butch Davis and his family will find the next job more satisfying and fulfilling, one that will challenge and strengthen the "good guy" within him.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Buckeye Tradition

I went to school in the Woody Hayes days at OSU. I know that's dating myself. It's okay. I've learned to live with growing older; after all, what's the alternative? The Michigan game at the end of the season always sent the campus into a frenzy. It still does. As a matter of fact it usually sends our household into a frenzy. This weekend was no different.

Flag flying and Brutus standing proudly in the front yard, our neighbors have come to accept that we're a little, well, you know...nutty. Last year we used Brutus for Halloween decoration and dressed as OSU fans requesting our "beggars" give the OH-IO cheer before receiving their candy. It's great fun, that rivalry with "that school up north". We have some friends that graduated from Michigan. We forgive them.

No OSU coach has survived the Michigan games quite as well as Tressel has though. No matter this year was not a stand out, everyone agrees, he won the important game today.

I especially appreciate Tressel's emphasis on the traditions of a college campus. The skull session (the band's pre-pregame show) is required attendance for the team. The crowd shows their appreciation and support before they head out to suit up for the game.

After the games there is the gathering of the team members with the band and those still left in the stands to sing the alma mater. Perhaps not all appreciate the gesture but as they look back to those college days it will ring in their memories. And someday they will return as we do and feel the thrill of those youthful days when the stress of higher education was put aside on Saturday as the band played, the crowd cheered and the alma mater was sung. "Time and change will surely show how firm thy friendship...O-HI-O."

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Last Cheerio

I'm taking a break from cleaning and straightening our house to write this today. Two little whirlwinds spent the weekend with us--our grandchildren. Time is precious with little ones so I don't worry about what the house looks like while they are here and I try to plan meals ahead that won't take much time.

Tyler is three going on 21. He's become a backseat driver already. "Holy cow, Grandpa! I told you to turn left." "Grandpa, don't go too fast in Mommy's van." "Be careful of those semis, Grandpa, they're dangerous." Makes my backseat driving look tame.

Danielle, who is 15 months, doesn't talk much yet but she has learned to flirt. It gets her the attention she wants and melts hearts along the way. It was her first overnight at our house and she adapted quickly. I think Mom had more separation anxiety than she did.

The last time we had a visit from a grandchild was a few weeks ago when Kotomi (1 year old) visited with her parents. We played and baby sat while Mom and Dad took in a movie. She snacked on Cheerios and imbibed milk and, just as efficiently, spread the toys all over the floor. When they left, my helpful husband tidied the family room while I finished the dishes and all too quickly the house returned to its childless state. As we sat watching TV in a house that suddenly felt all too quiet, I glanced down at the rug that sits under the coffee table and noticed one lone Cheerio that Bob had missed. I reached down and picked it up, placed it in his hand, smiled and said, "Missed one." He held it for a while between thumb and forefinger and reminisced happily about our time spent with our granddaughter.

When I finish today, I will be sure to leave one Cheerio on the rug--one Cheerio for Bob to find so we can sit and reminisce and anticipate the next visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

An "Aha" Moment

Once in a while I get a moment where I just want to say "aha". It happened again this morning. I was working on my Sunday school lesson (I teach a class of adults). We are using Swindoll's book "Laugh Again" which is based on a study in Philippians. This week's emphasis is on the trait of unselfishness--putting others before yourself.

Something Swindoll said reminded me of the trip we took to the World Fair in Tennessee one year with three of our kids. We arrived at the entrance about the same time busloads of senior citizens were disembarking their coaches and lining up at the entrance. We stood fairly close to the gate and watched the crowd swell. The closer it got to opening time, the tighter the pack became and suddenly we could begin to feel a slight push. The boys were about 10 and 7 (the older two are twins) and I began to fear that they would be crushed in the rush. We edged our way to one side and watched as the crowd of adults poured through the gate as it opened. When the rush was over we calmly walked through the gate and began our day of exploration, thankful that we had not been hurt in the onslaught of eager visitors.

So many times we rush to be first, to have the attention, to demand our right to...(fill in the blank). That's not the way Christ would have us live our lives. In Matthew, he describes himself as being humble and full of grace--unselfish.

My "aha" moment came. In the rush to be first, to be the attention-getter, the important one, what are we missing? If we were putting others first and lingering at the back of the line is it just possible we might find someone else there too? Would we meet Jesus?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Wish Upon a Star

We just returned from a three night cruise on Disney Wonder. Our niece is one of the performers and we wanted to see her at work.

As I watched the shows (quality productions), I realized what a great message Walt Disney always sent to children. Follow your dreams. You're important no matter what your size or stature. You can overcome problems even if they seem bigger than life. Be creative. Use your imagination. Have fun. Good triumphs in the end. Don't overlook the little things (it all started with a mouse).

Those are the things my generation grew up on. The Mickey Mouse Club was always on TV right before dinner--helped keep the kids out of mom's hair for a while. I can still sing the song although I don't think I carry the tune any better.

In an age of electronics where every toy needs a battery and a child can sit and be entertained, I hope we have not lost the simple tools of imagination and creativity that make our world a place where dreams can come true.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ohio and Florida Votes

We have a connection between Ohio and Florida. We live in Ohio and our son lives in Florida. This year it's our turn to slow the election results. Although, as I write this, it looks as though Ohio will go for Bush even if the provisional ballots are considered.

Am I the only one amazed at how many hours some people stood in line to vote? I hope that sends the message to other countries that we still value our right to vote and our democratic process. Although in the background, I can hear those little computers lining up to say "here we are use us." Can voting from home be far off?

It's a little scary to think of our voting process being entirely computerized when there are still so many ways a system can be corrupted. Imagine us arguing over missing bytes instead of hanging chads. Provisional ballot challenges would be replaced by controversy over multiple password registrations. Maybe we should just go back to raising a hand and counting...but then you have to trust the counter and make sure no one raises both hands.

Monday, November 01, 2004

All The World Is A Stage

We have an eating area in our kitchen surrounded by windows looking out over our backyard. When the trees and brush were cut away, it gave us a beautiful view of a small lake and creek behind our house. It's a mecca for wildlife especially since I've planted so many "delictable tidbits" for the deer. They dine in the morning and evening eating plants and shrubs from the top down.

Then there's the rabbits. They take care of the plants from the bottom up and generally choose those the deer leave behind. Chipmunks feed on the bulbs in the ground, moles "aerate the soil" and the geese tear up the grass. A huge blue heron circles on occassion checking out the size and availablity of the goldfish in my pond. (I was smart enough to only buy the 59 cent variety.) Someday I fully expect to see elephants tromping through.

I keep the nurseries and hardware stores in business buying all the latest "off" sprays and "animal resistant" plants. We have motion detectors that chase the deer with a spray of water. Unfortunately, the detectors don't descriminate between deer and meter readers or friendly neighbors. All these things help to keep me slightly ahead of the wildlife...except for the squirrel.

This is no ordinary run-of-the-mill squirrel. He sneaks his way up two levels of decking to a bar stretched out from the railing to a spot right in front of the window where he hangs by his tail to grab the suet block and smear greasy lard all over his paws and face. Then he swings to the finch feeder and somehow manages with those greasy paws to wrest the top off the tube of thistle to grab what he can.

Quite the showman, he performs these feats in front of us as we sit at the table trying to eat our dinner. One evening I thought I might get his acrobatics captured on video for America's Funniest Video. At least then I would have some money to pay for the seed and suet he was consuming. He was so greasy from the suet that he slipped into the half empty tube head first and for a moment appeared to be stuck. Face pressed against the side of the tube, his tail flicked and twitched with his discomfort. Unfortunately for me, by the time the camera was on and running, he had managed enough leverage to pull himself out of the tube and he scampered away.

Having learned this new trick however only brought the furry critter back again and again. He became very adept at popping the cap off the feeder. That is until Bob drilled a hole through the cap and screwed it on. Now he sits there and contemplates the problem before him...the squirrel, not Bob. We fully expect one day to see him come, metric wrench in hand and dig into the feeding tube again. In the meantime, the finches enjoy the food when the "sentry" is not there and we continue to contemplate a way to keep him out of the suet.

Shakespeare said "all the world is a stage". He must have had a backyard like ours.
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