Good Football Weather

When I stepped outside for my walk on this morning of the Ohio State-Michigan game, I immediately thought of my father.

IMG_1875It was because of the weather — crisp and clear, with the stars sharply outlined and the steam from breath rising upward into the chill.  Those are the kind of conditions that would cause my father to lean back, sniff the air, nod approvingly, and say:  “Good football weather.”

Every Midwestern football fan knows exactly what that phrase means.  It means dry conditions, because no one wants to watch football or play football in a downpour.  It means a day that is not too windy and where there is a significant difference between being in the sunshine and being in the shade.  It means a temperature that is cold, but not too cold; in the 30s or 40s, where you can bundle up and layer against the chill and a few hours outside will bring color to everyone’s cheeks.  The kind of day when you enjoy having your core warmed by a well-prepared toddy, or Bloody Mary, or Irish Coffee at a tailgate and can hear the crack of the pads echoing through the stadium as the crowd roars.

Yes, it’s good football weather today for The Game.  Go Bucks!

Thinking Of Thanksgiving Traditions

For many of us, Thanksgiving is rich with family traditions.  Whether it is food, decorations, or the timing of the big meal, the traditions connect us to earlier times and people who are no longer with us but whose spirits live on, undiminished, in our memories.  The traditions are a big part of why, for many people, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday.

Recently Mom and the five Webner kids had dinner and reminisced about Thanksgivings of days gone by and some of the traditions that prevailed during our childhoods.

Mom putting little wax candles of pilgrims and turkeys at every place setting at the Thanksgiving table.  A large cardboard representation of a big-breasted tom turkey with deep red wattles on the front door to greet our guests.  Native American headdresses made at school from construction paper, each ersatz feather a different bright color, and from the younger kids drawings of turkeys made from the outlines of their hands.  A cornucopia centerpiece surrounded by riotously colored, warty gourds.

My father, as much of a turkey fiend as the Dad in A Christmas Story, carefully carving the bird and happily munching on pieces as he went along.  Uncle Tony lecturing us that we were really missing something by not eating the heart and liver.  A heartfelt prayer for the year’s blessings and the food we were about to enjoy.  Gramma Webner announcing the turkey was too dry.

A tube of cranberry dressing, still bearing the corrugated impressions of the can from whence it came, lying on its side on a plate and sliced to form perfect wine-colored circles.  A huge bowl of Mom’s hand-mashed potatoes, doused liberally with her thick, homemade gravy.  A mincemeat pie.  Football throws outside on a crisp autumn afternoon to help stimulate the appetite for the feast to come, and sprawling on the couch watching football on TV, groaning at the amount of food consumed but still somehow finding room for a late-night turkey sandwich and a final piece of pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Whiter Shade Of Pale

Let’s all take a break from the work week, decompress a bit, get a good chuckle, and get mentally ready for a nice pre-Thanksgiving weekend.  And to help us on the way, how about this vintage, poorly directed and trite video of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale?

Whiter Shade of Pale is a great song — but I’m betting you’ll get a laugh out of the video, with its clumsy cuts, out-of-sync lip-syncing, and late ’60s Nehru jackets.  It reminds me that, long ago, UJ asked for a Nehru jacket and got it.  I think he maybe wore it once.

Phoenix Sunset

The top of a mountain in Phoenix is a wonderful setting for a wedding, especially when a fire and a sunset are part of the mix. And a family wedding is something to be relished, whatever the setting. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to reconnect with far-flung nieces and nephews, in-laws, and family members to be at such a happy occasion.

Drinking Games

Last night at a rehearsal dinner after-party members of the bridal party were playing a drinking game called “Landmine” that I hadn’t seen before.

IMG_3641The premise of the game was simple — but then, the premise of drinking games always is.  You spin a quarter, drink from your beer, then have to flawlessly pick up the quarter, before it stops spinning, with the same hand that hoisted the beer.  If you don’t do it right, you need to repeat the drink-and-spin process.

As players finish their beers, they can use the empty cans to flatten the quarter before another player picks it up, forcing him to do it over.  The empty cans are left in position on the table, ready to serve as “landmines” that can thwart the successful quarter spin and pick-up.

The inevitable result of Landmine — or the “Crib for shots” that my college roommate and I played back at OSU — is happy, tipsy, roaring young people who quickly lose command of their inhibitions and fine motor skills.  It’s a good game for 20-somethings at a wedding, who can bounce back effortlessly from a long liquid evening.  Not so much for a 50-something who would rather not wake up in the morning with cotton mouth and a pounding headache.

It was a fun game to watch from a distance, though.


On The Jacksonville Beat

Richard moved to Jacksonville this past Friday and started his new job at the Florida Times-Union on Monday.  Yesterday he got (I think) his first article published, about job cuts by CSX at its Jacksonville headquarters.

Richard will be on the business desk and also will be doing some investigative reporting.  He lives in an apartment in the Riverside Avondale neighborhood, which Kish says is a charming and historic area.  It must be, because it has its own Riverside Avondale Preservation society and website.  It’s close to the St. Johns River and has pretty areas on the waterfront, many jogging options, and some good restaurants.  And today, when a cold snap means that Columbus will be lucky to hit a high of 43 degrees, Jacksonville’s high temperature is forecast to be 79 degrees and sunny.

It’s always interesting to move to a new place and learn about what is has to offer.  We’ll be eagerly following Richard’s reporting and learning about this new place as he does, too.

The Magic Of An Elfin Door

The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department has launched a pretty cool program.  In conjunction with the Keebler Company, they’ve installed tiny doors at the bases of trees in Schiller Park in German Village, Whetstone Park in Clintonville, and Bicentennial Park in downtown Columbus.  One of the doors was designed by an industrial design graduate student at Ohio State.

The doors are all different, and they look pretty much like what you would expect an elf’s door to look like — wooden, old, quirky . . . and tiny.  Keebler paid $400 each to four artists who designed the doors and also made a contribution to a Columbus city fund designed to help low-income children.

I’m sure that there are some curmudgeonly types who question why the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is spending any time doing something like putting tiny doors at the base of trees, when presumably there are other parks and recreation needs to be addressed.  I think the best answer is found in the comments of the happy kids who have seen the little doors.  “This is like a mansion for fairies,” one little boy said.  His friend saw some glittery specks around another door and concluded it must be “fairy dust.”  How can you not relish those comments, and think about how your imagination would have reacted if, as a child, you had found an apparently ancient wooden door at the base of a tree?  If our kids were younger, I think I’d be taking them to these parks to find the little doors for themselves.

We need more wonder and whimsy in the world.  I’m all for adding a few elfin doors.