Sunday, July 7, 2019

"The Ball is Round"

We've attended eight World Cup matches so far (9th today) and I feel I should have more to say about them.  Yet I don't want to jinx anything, nor am I ready to type about the details.
It has been a great trip.  The ball keeps rolling.
Halftime at USA vs England semi-final

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Is it American to score big? Is it sexist to care?

I fell asleep when the US was only up 7-0 in the match against Thailand last night.  I'll admit I was a bit disappointed by the final score; 13-0 is just so unseemly.  I don't like gloating; I'm embarrassed by hugely obnoxious gestures of my country-mates; and big wins feel loud, a trait I am endeavoring to teach my family not to be.
But then I awoke to lots of criticism of the US women, as if they had done something wrong by playing really well and being proud of it.
Someone asked if the same criticism would have been leveled at the US Men's National Team, which I found laughable, because the US men just aren't that good. But it did make me wonder how much of this does have to do with sexist perceptions.  So I'm comparing this to the Dream Team at the Olympics.
I'll point out a few things here:
There are only 3 subs in an international soccer match.  There is no putting in a second team or resting the starters.
The first US Dream Team in 1992 had a 350 point differential over 8 games.  That means they were averaging more than 40 points more than their opponents per game.  I seem to recall comments about how lucky their opponents were to play with the best, and how insulting it would have been for the Dream Team to quit shooting at an international competition.
Thailand may have been out of their league last night, but they are a team who had to win a spot to be here at the World Cup.  In the Asian qualifying tournament, they won a match 6-1 and beat out teams who defeated other teams 10-1.  It is too bad that women's soccer is so poorly supported elsewhere, but winning big is not a US thing, or something to be ashamed of.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Boats Before Balls

Perhaps because we live on the edge of the high plains, boats fascinate us.  So far on this adventure we have ridden a small tour boat on the Firth of Forth (under the bridges and to Inchholm), a little passenger ferry from Britain to Lismore and back, a motor boat to Threave Castle on an island in the River Dee, a car ferry across the Rhine in Germany and a wonderful current-powered passenger ferry across the Rhine in Switzerland*.

Today the "ball" part of our adventure begins (Go Jamaica!), but the boats have sure been fun.

*Two boat rides included strangers from the internet and we all survived; in fact meeting them was delightful.

Car ferry in Germany

Oh, we also rode a boat through the
world's first water balanced
 circular boat lift.
Threave Castle

Isle of Lismore

Friday, May 24, 2019

Testing Travel

Tornadoes, floods, and life stressors are all around, but two good friends and I managed to have a ball and count some plants in the last two days. (Okay, I had an image to accompany that thought, but since this is mostly a test, I'll leave these two.)

Monday, May 20, 2019

It's all fun and games until the Under10 tournament

Aster and Dianthus ended their rec league soccer seasons with a big tournament a few weeks ago.

Two otherwise really fun soccer seasons ended with parents loudly questioning Aster's volunteer coach's* decision to focus on letting kids score goals rather than defend, accusations of cheating by different coaches in group texts, and players supposedly trash talking another coach because she's female.  After a 5-1 loss in a gritty wind in the finals, Dianthus 's last act was hearing his coach complaining about an unfair call.


Fun games are no longer fun and games when it gets like that.

*That would be the Mister.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Kites are Coming!

Actually, as I write (May 7, 2019 10:15 a.m.) , the Mississippi Kites are returning to Weatherford, Oklahoma.  There were 8 circling high as I was walking home from the dentist-- not sure if they are staying or traveling on north.

This is the latest they have arrived in the 9 years I have been watching.  I saw one while hiking in the Wichita Mountains (south of here) on Saturday, and may have seen one, alone, yesterday morning, but the flock is soaring in now.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May One

The first of May is somewhat of a big deal to me.

Growing up, on the first of May I dropped paper baskets full of dandelions on our doorstep, and every so often as an adult send May baskets to friends. One year I made a May pole in my basement.  I consider it the start of my favorite month of flowers and celebrations. 

The first of May marks the beginning of Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month and I often alert folks to the Childrens' Hemiplegia and Stroke Association ( and the fact that kids have strokes, too.

The first of May often coincides with the beginning of the end of the college school year (I'm giving a final tomorrow and one Friday, and graduation is Saturday!) and has become the time I catch up on phenology: I can usually report when the Mississippi Kites arrived (not yet!) and can compare flower seasonality because I post an image of big bouquet each year.

Things have felt odd this week.  It has been a gray and drizzly-- exceptionally spring-like and completely out of place for Western Oklahoma.  Monday I gave a final to one of the best group of students I have every had, with tears and thank-yous and graduation announcements exchanged at the end.  Meanwhile I'll be pleasantly surprised if all of the students make it to Friday's final in a similar-sized class.  My institution's fabulous Dean of Students, the woman who assured every student, parent of student, and faculty member, that she would help with their problems, and that she had chocolate in her office if she couldn't herself be of help, died.  I learned of her death yesterday through an awkward e-mail.  Later in the day I learned that the provost's father and Dianthus's PE teacher's husband died and that there are lots of roles needing filled during end-of-year stuff at our schools.

Given my renewed proclamation of my witchy nature and pagan tendencies (a quick "May Day" search of this blog will demonstrate that my love of May Day long precedes witch year), today I felt I needed a May basket, but I was thinking of death as I glumly walked through the wet grass looking for flowers. I picked the iris and bachelor buttons along the alley and peaking out of a kids' digging area overgrown with honeysuckle and vinca were giant fluffy peonies.  They are along a warm south facing wall in an area that isn't seen, so I didn't feel at all bad about picking them.

I found a real basket from a dear friend.  I gave myself a self-inflicted challenge of arranging them in the basket rather than in a vase. I lit the sun and moon candle from Carrie-Ann, my moonbeam (I was her sunshine) who died in September and suddenly we were all there: friends near and far, mother and grandmothers, witches, flowers; light, gray, dark, life, and death, sun and moon.  Spring Re-birth.
And because I'm a product of my time, I snapped a photo, blew out the candle, posted the picture on social media and rushed my sons to their evening activity. 

So May One feels a little more this year.  It reads like the start of some blessing for which I haven't had time to prepare an end:
May one look out for the birds that are bound to come through.
May one recognize that pink fluffiness is transient, but that doesn't make it any less real.
May one light the candles of friendship.
May one remember that death calls us all.
May one recall that just as winter comes, so does spring.
May one always have a colleague with chocolate in her office and may one be the bearer of chocolate when needed.

May one have a great May.