Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Stinky Things That Happened Saturday

Our football teams lost by a combined score of 117-41, and we watched them implode simultaneously on side-by-side televisions. It was like being in a very, very gloomy sports bar minus the bar.

Our Dog Pepper got sprayed by a skunk as we slept Friday night. This is a file photo because no way was I getting close enough to the poor dear to take this picture. Ewwwww.

Saturday stunk.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Month Later

When they began the remodeling that moved us out of our offices in February, no one knew how long we'd be displaced. Maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months. So I took a page from the 30 Rock episode I'd seen shortly before that. It involved a conversation between Matt Damon, who was playing a pilot, and Tina Fey, who was playing his girlfriend.

Here's how it went, as the plane sat on the tarmac:
Matt Damon (pilot): Hey Lizzy, you ok?
Tina Fey (Liz Lemon): People are starting to get a little antsy back there.
Damon: Yeah, it's gonna be about another half an hour.
Fey: Really, because I checked FlightTracker on my phone, and our status is just an angry red frowny face.
Damon: K, you want to know a little pilot secret, besides the fact that we get a discount at Sunglass Hut? The half-hour thing? It’s a trick. It’s enough time so that people know they’re gonna have to wait, but it doesn’t upset them.
Fey: So you’re just lying? That’s not right, we’re paying customers.
Damon: Look, Liz, we have reasons for doing things the way that we do them. We say half an hour to control the herds of walking mozzarella sticks who think that $300 and a photo ID gives them the right to fly through the air like one of the Guardian Owls of Legend. God, that’s been our in-flight movie for months.
I found this HILARIOUS, so when the first of the eight-gabillion askers asked when we would be moving back into our offices, I said "one month." It was the office-moving equivalent of the airline's half an hour--enough time so that people know they're gonna have to wait, but it doesn't upset them.

All during spring, we kept saying we were moving back in "one month," and the same went for June, July, and August. "One month" seemed as if it might even be possible when school rolled around again and the renovation neared completion. But no, "one month" was appropriate for September and October as well.

But guess what? We're moving back into our offices! Next Tuesday, after 10 months, we will be sitting in our old spots and cursing the computers that aren't yet properly connected. That has led me to a flurry of cleaning in the old office. Now that I know exactly how many of my accumulated files from the past 16 years are irrelevant to my actual life, I'm de-Hoarder-ing with abandon.

Those piles in the photo? One contractor garbage bag for recycling minutes of meetings from 1997, one contractor garbage bag for 2001 Daytimers and computer parts from two computers ago. I'm stepping out on a limb and guessing that floppy disks for A-drives will not be making a comeback, and all of those back-ups from past publications are heading for landfill. I'm even tossing out the padlock combination I  stuck under my desk when I took that aquacize class in 2003.

It has been a fascinating archaeological experiment but has turned into a much bigger job than I had anticipated. It may be a few days before I can get back into the old digs.

Maybe a month?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Should Have Known Me When I Was Younger

Boy#2 is a member of IEEE. Here is what I learned by visiting IEEE's website today: That it is the largest professional association for the advancement of technology, and that when you say its name you say "I Triple E." (Knowing that makes me a little sad, because I had always imagined it was pronounced like a scream. AYEEEEEEE!)

Anyway, every day the good folks at IEEE send out an e-mail news bulletin to the group's members. This morning, Boy#2 reports, the bulletin sent at 8:03 a.m. led off with this headline:

"With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program"

I winced a little when I heard it, but apparently not nearly as much as the headline-writer's boss winced, because Two says that a couple of hours later this follow-up e-mail popped up in his inbox.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the headline in today's Tech Alert: "With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program." The actual title of the article is "The Making of Arduino."
I'm an IEEE member, and a mom, and the headline was inexcusable, a lazy, sexist cliché that should have never seen the light of day. Today we are instituting an additional headline review process that will apply to all future Tech Alerts so that such insipid and offensive headlines never find their way into your in-box.
Spectrum's insistence on editorial excellence applies to all its products, including e-mail alerts. Thank you for bringing this error to our attention. If you have any additional comments or recommendations, do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the editorial staff.
Sincerely yours,

(Person Who Is Editor of This News Bulletin)

Well. First let me say that I do not think the "Even a (insert people class here) Can" is a good phrase to be used in any context whatsoever, because this construction inevitably insults the intelligence and/or capability of the people class mentioned. Go ahead--try it using any ethnicity, gender, or human sub-group. "Even a Flying Purple People Eater Can" (make a good pie crust, count to 10, shingle a roof, whatever) and you'll find yourself thinking, "Wow, that must be super easy because Flying Purple People Eaters are really stupid and inept."

So I was not particularly crazy about the construction, but the extent to which this editor exploded made me almost nostalgic for my younger self, when I was just as prickly and apt to take offense at any aspersions to my abilities. I was a mom, but no one had best even hint I couldn't do any cotton-pickin' thing I chose to do.

I'm mellower now. I know I am unlikely to ever be able to program and that doesn't really bother me. I can do a lot of things pretty darned well (including knotting a maraschino cherry stem with my tongue--take THAT, Arduino) and quite frankly, I'm okay with not being able to do everything.

It's like that old Dolly Parton quote that went something like this: "I'm never upset when someone calls me a dumb blonde because I know I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde." I have grown comfortable with the limits of what I can and cannot do; the hard edges of my ability to be insulted have softened.

That doesn't mean I won't ever challenge these limits, and maybe some day I will discover that by golly this mom CAN program because now she has Arduino! But if not, I won't be particularly distraught because I know that even if I'm a mom, I'm not stupid, and I'm not inept. I'm just mellow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Aren't Teenaged Girls

While we were on vacation (yes, I love to use that phrase; is it too much?) Husband and I finished our three-mile hike with a self-portrait, a la the millions of self-portraits you see on the Facebook pages of teenaged girls.

I can only blame the altitude for this bad decision. Vacation is the time I wear no make-up and don't do my hair, we were camping and hadn't showered for two days, and did I mention the three miles we'd hiked? (Or maybe it wasn't the altitude. How high is Oklahoma anyway?) Anyway, we were mighty pretty, so of course we had to document the moment.

I pulled out the camera, held it at arms length, and clicked. Whoops, missed half of husband.Try again.

Yeah, that's so much better.

Want to know how many times we tried to get this picture? Nine. Nine times one of us was half out of the frame, or the shot was straight up our noses, or half our heads were cut off.

I have always assumed that I'm at least as smart as those teenaged girls who instinctively throw a starlet pose at the drop of a shutter, but we could not get this right.

Finally I made one slight adjustment: I turned the camera from portrait to landscape.

Turns out we're not too old to take self-portraits, we're just too wide.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Miracles, Everyday and Not So Much

We toss the word "miracle" around pretty loosely these days.

Look! The picture I took on vacation! It's a miracle I could get that red branch to frame the little building like that.

Isn't it a miracle how delicious pancakes taste on a crisp autumn morning in the camper? And look what we have to go with them...

Pre-cooked bacon and maple syrup all the way from West Virginia! Yummy, yummy miracles.

We win football games with miracle passes and our salad dressing is Miracle Whip.

When it comes to true miracles, though, look no further than my friend, S. Less than 48 hours ago a stray bullet came through her car window and hit her in the jaw, exiting through her neck. Today, after surgery confirmed that against all odds she should recover uneventfully (albeit not without pain), she was writing e-mails to friends and chatting with loved ones.

That, my friends, is a miracle, and boldfaces and italicizes what S. and her family and friends already knew.

God is good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not the Post I Had Intended

During the days we were on vacation I wrote all kinds of blog posts in my head. Some were intended to be funny (starring the kid in the University of Texas t-shirt from the next campsite whose belching reverberated off the hills), some talked about what a joy (and relief) it is to still truly enjoy spending time with Husband after 27 years of marriage, one was a discourse about motorcyclists who practice their downshifting in camping areas and my fervent desire that these motorcyclists should get hives. I even considered words about this sign we saw on a hike, a caution that only heightened my fear of edges.

But then, just as we were pulling into the driveway yesterday after this wonderful vacation, my cell phone rang. First one friend, then another, calling me to ask--had I heard? S. had been shot.

We worry about so much in life. Car accidents. Cancer. Slipping in the bathtub. What we don't worry is that a bullet from a target shooter's gun will come through the passenger window of a family on the way home from church. That un-worried-about bullet hit my friend in the face, and she was being air-lifted to a major hospital.

By the time we had dropped the trailer and raced to the hospital, doctors already knew S.'s life was not in danger. Miraculously, the bullet had passed through her lower jaw and exited her neck, missing her brain, spinal cord, carotid artery--everything, really, that could have killed her. Today they will operate to put the jaw back together, and in a few days she'll be home.

I hope the doctors know who this woman is. She isn't simply the victim of the most random of accidents. She's the wife of Good Buddy Jim, who spent so many hours fixing our trailer so we could go on vacation. She's the mother of kids who grew up with the Boys (Boy#4 and her youngest were so close in age that their due dates were the same week). She's the person I always list when forms ask for "Closest friend who is not a relative."

She's also an artist, and a teacher, and a person who actually writes the encouraging notes we all know we should write. She's a woman of God whose witness is as steadfast and strong as her faith. She's so much better, so much worthier, than she thinks she is, and I hope the doctors and nurses who operate this afternoon know whose beautiful face they are fixing.

We all are near the edge and the footing, indeed, is dangerous.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Our Cottage By the Wood

Yes! We're here! Right here in the middle of the road looking back at our campsite. And if I turn 90 degrees to the right, I see this:

Another 90 degrees to the right is this:

One more quarter turn is this:

So what is missing from this picture?

Nothing! We have shelter (with a working furnace, for which we were very grateful when the temperature hit 32 degrees last night), we have a clean bathroom a stone's throw away even for those of us who don't throw stones very well, and we have no people as far as we can see. 

Woooo! We're on vacation!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So How's the Camping Trip Going?

Fixing the water hose
One of Husband's best traits is his ability to say, with very little regret or damage to his ego, "Hey, I'm over my head here. We need to call someone to fix this."

Last week we pulled our pop-up trailer out of storage after three years of non-use, and while Husband's ability to Priceline cheap hotel rooms is legendary and his knowledge of arcane tax law is astounding, during the past few days he's had plenty of opportunity to admit that the pop-up's deterioration had outstripped his handyman abilities.

Enter our good buddy, Jim.

Jim can fix pretty much anything, including the broken water hose that filled the galley three inches deep the second I opened the faucet. (That will put a scamper in your get-along when the shut-off valve is clear across the yard.)

Husband had called Good Buddy Jim to help with one minor repair, which led to four hours of rebuilding the water, heating, and electrical systems of the camper. As he left for his fourth trip to the industrial supply shop I tried to let Jim off the hook for the rest of the work.

"Really, I don't mind hauling water. If I have a bed off the ground and lights that work, I'm a happy camper," I told him.

He looked at me through narrowed eyes, wiping plumber's goo off his hands.

"I. Am Not. Going. To Let. This. Beat Me."

An hour later, all systems were working and Jim had earned chocolate sheetcake on demand for the rest of his life.

That's the kind of Good Buddy everyone needs.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Limitless Possibilities

It always seems odd to call the three women with whom I spent the weekend my "oldest" friends. We went to junior high and high school together, and they've been part of my life longer than anyone who doesn't share my gene pool, but we never feel old when we're together.

During our annual weekend back in our hometown I found myself peering into the cars beside us on the main drag, and looking up when the door opened at the restaurant where we ate. I was looking for classmates, but I was looking for the faces I remembered from almost 40 years earlier.

Because it's a small town I did occasionally see someone who had been in high school with us, or an old 4-H leader, or someone else's mom. I recognized the shape of the eyebrows or a quirk of a smile, and with a mental lurch, that person would drop into a more current age slot.

We always try to plan activities for these get-togethers--should we bring table games? How about some kind of craft we could do together? Is there a new restaurant to try? Inevitably, though, our schedule reverts to what we've always done. We talk, and we laugh.

This year we decided to buy a lottery ticket (a much better suggestion than the alternative, which was to get matching tattoos). Each of us plunked down $1.25 for a shared $5 fantasy.

None of us regularly buys lottery tickets--we had to ask the clerk exactly how this mysterious process worked--but I think there was a tiny voice inside each of us that said, "You know, we could just win this thing. We could split $39 million." The chatter turned to what each of us would do with our share of the jackpot--paying off mortgages and travel led the list, with just a touch of body-sculpting surgery thrown in.

You see, we're pretty lucky. We're all age-appropriately healthy, we have families we love, we have enough resources to keep us comfortable and enough obstacles to keep us humble. We've been friends for a long, long time and we know the phenomenon that even though the surface changes, those of us who are aging don't feel any different inside than we did when we were 17.

Sunday morning, when we checked winning lottery numbers, we discovered we had won--absolutely nothing. But as we looked at each other and laughed at our audacity in thinking we would win the jackpot by buying a single ticket, none of us felt any different. When we're together, we always feel young and loved and that anything is possible.

We're pretty lucky.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not So Fast, Missy

Yesterday's exuberant post about how we were going CAAAAMPING in OCTOOOOOBER may have been premature. (Cue sad trombone music.)

In addition to my breakfast dishes that are not yet in the dishwasher, this photo shows just a few of the camper parts we discovered last night have suffered from three years of outdoor storage. These parts are indispensable to the water and electricity systems. Oh, also to the propane. These gizmos are crucial to our ability to read at night, make coffee, watch the movies we've checked out of the library, or wake up toasty warm after the furnace kicks on.

In other words, without replacing these parts our camping trip would be almost like...well, camping.


I'm making an emergency run to the camper repair place today. Stay tuned for updates. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vacating the Premises

Twenty years ago, before Boy#1 started kindergarten, Husband and I made a pact: As God was our witness, once the boys were out of school we'd never vacation in the summer again.

Here at MomQueenBee headquarters we are cool-weather types. (Oh, I'm sorry. Have I mentioned this eight or ten or twenty-four-gabillion times?) I'm sure vacationing in the summer is appealing if you like the heat. Or crowds. Or waiting in line. Or sweating. Or mosquitoes. Husband and I are not big fans of any of these things. Also, he doesn't swim and it creeps me out to swim in water that might have...things in it.

What I'm trying to say is that we've sort of looked forward to vacationing in the fall again, and next week, the fall vacation moment will have arrived! We're going camping!

We do not, however, camp in the same way the free clip-art that's decorating this page illustrates. No tents for me. Have you seen the movie Snakes on a Plane? Well, I haven't. Just hearing the title makes my shudder instinct kick in. The fact that there are snakes in the world means that this woman is not sleeping on the ground. And cooking over a campfire? Hahahahaha! (The archery does look like fun, though.)

No, we are wimp campers. Our pop-up trailer has air conditioning and queen-sized beds. Standard camping equipment includes a crockpot and electric skiller, and we have a special TV/DVD combination that allows us to sneer at the fancy campers with satellite dishes while still watching the movies we've checked out of the library.

For the past several years, though, our vacation time has been nibbled away by college visits and trips to move this kid or that one from here to there and back again. This week Husband hooked the camper up and pulled it from its storage space for the first time in three years.

We've made sure it wasn't infested with varmints (see: Snakes!) and have assured each other that it doesn't matter that the water hose rotted out during the three years of inactivity--we can live many, many days without water but only a few hours without food. Or do I have that backward?

I don't care--we're going camping!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

R.I.P. (Remember Ink and Presses?)

This morning I read online that The Denver Post is offering buyouts to its newsroom staff. The paper is losing money, and if at least 20 of the more senior reporters don't accept the buyouts, there will be layoffs.

This will not be a big headline in the grand scheme of time, but I must pause for just a moment to register this latest failing vital sign of the newspaper industry.

Although I am not a regular reader of the Post, I am a big fan of newspapers. In my deprived childhood, spent without television, newspapers were my family's primary link to the larger world. I pored over every page--the news, the sports, the comics, Ann Landers, even the bridge column.

Then when I entered college, I never wavered from my decision to major in journalism: Brenda Starr had been my role model as long as I could remember; what else was I going to do? My first job was working on a newspaper, and I loved being a reporter just as much as I had thought I would.(If the love of my life had lived in Washington, Kansas, I'd still be there today, but I had to leave to meet him.)

Working for a newspaper means working for tyrant deadlines that roll around with relentless regularity, and for every Hearst who made a fortune at the trade there are thousands and thousands of us who barely could pay our utility bills. Still, there was something about being the conduit between the event and the reader that was intoxicating in its responsibility, and the joy of writing every day? Well, that's one reason this blog exists.

So I'm mourning the diminishing of another newspaper, but I can't say I'm surprised. Take a look at the 10 links people are clicking most often in the online edition. Photos of the Bronco cheerleaders. Photos of people around Colorado. Photos of fall color. Then seven consecutive stories on the controversy surrounding the Bronco quarterback choice. 

The newspaper medium, with its varied and nuanced stories, is just too old and stodgy for those of us who live in the digital age, and like it or not, we all live here.

I would never, ever have predicted that I would live in the era during which the newspaper died. But then again, those who loved the decorum and predictability of traveling in horse-drawn carriages probably never imagined the transition to the automobile.

Resistance is futile, and progress is not a bad thing, but that doesn't mean I won't look back without just a touch of sadness.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I (Still) Love a Parade

My boss is a guy who would prefer to do his work behind the scenes but he knows he's the face of the college. This year he decided he wanted the face to have a few more freckles so everyone who reports directly to him got to walk in the homecoming parade over the weekend.

That would!

My love of small-town parades is deep-seated and well-documented. How can you not love a propane-powered 1942 wheat truck that's now being used by the Green Team to transport recyclables? Especially when it's driven by our genius landscaping guy who's grinning from ear to ear?

My job was not only to walk and wave (elbow, elbow, wrist-wrist-wrist) but to throw candy to the screaming moppets who lined the parade route. I may not have been the best choice for this task, since saying I throw like a girl would be an insult to girls. I throw like a crazed robot whose switch has stuck somewhere between "Put some muscle into that throw" and "Throw harder, for Pete's sake," and occasionally veers to the "Just don't injure yourself" setting.

That last setting should have included "...or anyone else" in the instructions. At one point I decided I might be more apt to get the Smarties and Bit o' Honeys somewhat close to the kids if I threw overhand rather than scooting the sweets along the pavement. This turned into a WKRP in Cincinnati turkey drop moment:

After I saw a couple of kids cowering and covering their heads with their arms as I heaved handfuls of individually wrapped Starbursts their way I knew I had to come up with a different strategy.

For all of you kids who weren't close enough to the action to have me put candy directly into your grocery sacks, come by my office. I have plenty left.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Don't Try This

It hasn't rained for a long, long time in Small Town or the region thereof. The last significant natural soaking of my desiccated flowers was a month ago, and although cooler nighttime temperatures have made watering a little less urgent, it's still mighty dry.

I've tried to get out in the garden with the hose on a regular basis but my schedule right now is so full that it's hard to do that during the increasingly short daylight hours. (You're suggesting I go out after my last meeting and/or rehearsal of the day? The skunk population in your end of the world must be significantly less than the skunk population here. Eesh.)

Anyway, this morning I set my alarm for an hour that would get me up in time to soak the garden before I went to work, but I turned off the alarm and fell back to sleep. Then I dreamed that I was outside watering.

Just so you know, this is a surprisingly ineffective way of getting either sleep or flowers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Open Letter to Pet Owners

Dear Owners of Dogs and Cats and Iguanas and All Other Animals in the World,

I love your cat.

Really, I do. Just look at that sweet widdle thing--woochy, woochy, woochy under the chin!

But I beg of you: Do not bring your animal to large gatherings in public places. Not to sporting events, not to concerts, not to church.

We get it. Yours is the FINEST ANIMAL ON EARTH. It is not an animal, it is a FURRED PERSON. A furred person with a CHARMING PERSONALITY. And it is the exception to the RULE OF COMMON COURTESY that says animals should not be part of large human gatherings.(Unless you are blind, of course. These animals are workers--go ahead and bring your seeing eye dog or your milk cow to the dodgeball tournament.)

The problem is that at these large public gatherings you will be surrounded by persons who are not as enamored of your cat/dog/iguana as you are. Maybe cats make them sneeze. Maybe dogs remind them of that snarling mutt that growled at them as they walked to school in second grade. Whatever the reason, all of these people who are not so crazy about your animal are pretty much obligated to be at the public gathering. They have to be there because it's difficult to have a football game in the privacy of a home, or a music festival in a living room. Many of them have paid good money to be at this event, and when you come in with your kitty in your purse, they're smiling on the outside but they are NOT LIKING IT (and, by extension, you) in their heart of hearts.

So no matter how cute and cuddly your pet, leave it at home. Regardless of its intensely charming personality, give it some peace and solitude.

Because while I love your cat (woochy, woochy!) not everyone does. I'm just saying it out loud.

And now I will turn off my caps lock.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Most Unexpected Honor

Husband was grinning as he interrupted my reading last night.

"You are going to be so proud of me. Guess what I've been nominated for?" And he pulled out the e-mailed form he had received from the Latino American Who's Who.

For those of you who don't know Husband, you can stop reading now because this probably won't be all that funny. For those of you who do know the love of my life, join with me now:


(Or, as my Latino American Who's Who nominee would say, "Jajajajajajaja!")

Husband is smart and kind and hard-working and compassionate. He is the most generous person on earth and makes his bed every day.

He's also the whitest person I've ever met, and quite obviously, the spammers who sent out this nomination form do not know him or even they would be jajaja-ing.

This doesn't in any way mean there is a bigoted cell in Husband's body, because there isn't. But while he can appreciate and support other ethnicities, well, white men not only can't jump, this one can't salsa either. I mean, he orders Hawaiian pizza. On purpose.

This morning I heard him outside talking to Our Dog Pepper.

"Pepper! Good morning! Did you know I'm going to be listed in the Latino American Who's Who? Isn't that something? What a great country we live in."

Then he called to me--"Hey, how do you say 'Pepper' in Spanish'?"

"Pimiento!" I yelled back.

Him: "Purgenta?"


Him: "Puhfiddle?"

Me: "PEE! MEE! EN! TOE!"

Him (muttering): "(pee-mee-en-toe! pee-mee-en-toe!) Hey, Pamahto, how does it feel to have your breakfast brought out by a Latino American Who's Who honoree?"

O, papacito! Te amo!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition

Having eight college guys spend two nights in the House on the Corner led to scurrying as Husband and I adapted to our temporary role as hostel hosts. For future reference, here's what we learned:

1. We were "hostel" hosts, not "hostile" hosts, although when the schedule called for arrival at 1 a.m., the latter was a distinct possibility for my mood. Husband rescued the first impression by sending me off to bed while he waited up for the travelers.

2. The empty nest means we can assign beds to an astonishing number of guests. Boy#4 slept in his own bed and beds normally belonging to Boys#1, 2, and 3, plus two futons, plus an air mattress, plus a comfy couch, meant no one was actually on the floor. (Of course this would not have been a problem if we'd had girls, who are better at sharing, but I digress.)

3. It takes a heapin' pile of blankets to outfit that many beds.

4. Boy guests may be less willing to share beds than girls, but they are enthusiastically appreciative of any cooking efforts. You'd have thought Sunday lunch's pulled pork sandwiches were Top Chef-worthy. For the record, here's the recipe: Before you go to work Friday, put two pork shoulders into the roaster and cover with any seasonings you have. Cook all day at 250 degrees. Shred. Refrigerate. Sunday morning before church, put meat in Crock-Pot with a jar of Curly's barbecue sauce. Pile onto a bun and slather on extra barbecue sauce. Eat. Bask in culinary glory.

5. Two words: Chocolate Sheetcake.

6. Even though the guests will be in the house about 12 hours total, you will find you have completely adjusted to having them around when they wave good-bye. You will look at the stacks of dirty dishes and piles of wet towels and realize that you'll be running the dishwasher and washing machine for the rest of the day and possibly into the next day, and in spite of this you will smile, because you miss them already.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the Minority

This was the big football weekend of the season in the MomQueenBee household, when Far Away University and Home State University played each other. A fair amount of braggin' rights were attached to the results of this game, especially since FAU was NATIONALLY RANKED (we always said that in capital letters) and the game was taking place at HSU.

Boy#4 and seven of his buddies made the eight-hour trek to to spend the nights before and after the game in the House on the Corner. Friends, we live in an enormous house, but adding that many strapping youth pretty much meant I could keep track of them easily. As in, "Whoops! Sorry to step on your hand as you slept there on the floor!" easy.

When we got to the game, the guys were sitting in a different place from Husband and me, but we walked to the game together. It was easy to keep track of them as they strode down the sidewalk, until we ran into some home team traffic. Then it looked more like this:

And when we got into the stadium, it felt as if we'd dived into a grape.

As it turns out, it isn't easy finding eight gold shirts among 50,000 purple ones. I finally found our FAU guys a couple rows up and 30 yards down from our seats. See them?

How about now?
Trust me. I recognize them, and they're there. And if I hadn't recognized that hat, when the game got over I would have recognized the face. It was the exact opposite of this face.

Except that Boy#3's face was about eight thousand percent happier than it was when this picture was taken.

Guess who'll be braggin' this year?