Sunday, March 09, 2014

Weekend Watching---Go Bulldogs!

It was a lot different “watching” softball this weekend than last.  Then we were in the stands at the beautiful Jack Turner Stadium surrounded by tall pines and seeing balls go over them as the University of Georgia softball team continued their homerun habit.  Of course, we also witnessed the 8-0 shut-out that University of Alabama at Birmingham gave us on Saturday.   That was a shocker, but as coaches say, you learn from losses, and the next day Gerogia came back and defeated UBA 10-1, which gave our visit a great ending. 

We had left Illinois on Friday at 4 a.m. with our nephew DuWayne  driving, and the traffic in Atlanta made us fearful we’d not be in time for the first game against Western Carolina, which Geri Ann was pitching. But we made it in plenty of time. The Bulldogs won that game 9-3 and the next game against St. John’s with Chelsea Wilkerson pitching by 8-0 in five innings.

Despite our many layers of clothing, we were very cold at both games on Friday and again on Saturday when we defeated St. John’s 13-3 in five innings but lost to UBA. It wasn’t just me as DuWayne admitted he was cold too.  Of course, as I told Vickie, our daughter-in-law, I remember being colder at games in Mississippi and California in the spring of 2001 when Tara was a freshman playing and  then at one fall game at Notre Dame when we went to see Erin play.

In Mississippi, a bitter cold wind and rain storm hit the Starkville area taking out the town’s electricity and cancelling the last game the next day because it was too cold for the players’ hands. Vickie’s pretty new car was banged up by a garbage can flying into the street and electric wires were hanging low over our cars. I think a school had a roof taken off, and there were disaster meal stations for people.  Our motel in a nearby town  had water, but at church the next morning, the pastor advised us to not sit too close to one another because baths were not available for many who were  without water as well as electricity.

I had so looked forward to going to warm places that spring, but California was also bitter cold—especially when late night games had extra innings lasting until midnight. Our friends Lois and Tom Doctor in Oakland transported us to the games and provided us with warm blankets as well as a beautiful house with wonderful food to retreat to, so we have warm memories of that week despite the cold and aluminum seats.

Yet I guess the coldest I have ever been was a fall game at Notre Dame when we went to see Erin play. We had prepared for the cold, and I was bundled to the hilt but was still miserable. Saddest though was a group of youngsters from some sort of foster home with their adult leaders.  One girl directly in front of me had no warm coat on, and it tore me up.  Finally, I got up my nerve and begged her to take a coat or blanket or hat (can’t remember what) because I had so much warm apparel.  I loved and admired her even more when she very proudly refused.  I had to give up urging her, but I will never forget her.  I still think of her and how cold she had to be, and I have prayed that her self pride and determination have been her key to a successful adulthood.

Friday as we headed down southern highways, we had noted the buds on trees along the way; and despite Saturday’s cold March beginning, we saw beds of blooming daffodils in Athens. And in one yard as we drove by, I actually saw two ornamental trees covered with pink blossoms.  Oddly, by the next day, we had weather in the 70’s, and  people were walking into church without coats.  That afternoon the ball game gave us a delightful entrance to spring weather as well as the come-back win against UBA.

Plans were to head back to Illinois immediately after the final game, but Sunday weather reports told of icy roads starting just above Nashville and through Kentucky and into Southern Illinois.  DuWayne recently retired from the highway department, and he has plenty of knowledge of what can and cannot be done to help icy roads, and he had buddies who kept him informed about road conditions.  We were not eager to be struck or stuck on the highway, so we stayed in Georgia for an extra night. 

It is so nice that Gerry and Vickie and the Archibalds all share their big house, so when we were not at the ball park, we were able to visit with both families and enjoy our three great grandsons. Although Tara leaves early each morning to fulfill her duties as assistant coach at UGA, she spends evenings cuddling with the three little guys, and that is fun to watch as they slip in and out of their play with each other to interact with their mother.  Geri Ann lives off campus in a friend’s rental home this year, but she came over to be with us all three evenings, and we appreciated that. 

While we were hearing by phone how cold it was at home, we all headed out to the backyard without jackets after the game to watch the three little boys play.  Bryan, our grandson-in-law, has built a zip-line from one tree to another next to the creek there, and Aidan, Maddux, and Payton demonstrated this for us. I also visited with Jake, whom Gerald passed on to Gerry last fall for squirrel season with his grandsons.

Geri Ann’s new little dog Chance has ended up her folks’ home for right now, so we were able to visit with Chance as well as Chloe, the little dog Vickie inherited from Erin many years ago. Chloe and Chance get along very well and also entertained us as they cavorted in the family room attached to the kitchen where everyone hangs  out. 

However, Chance was afraid of us strangers and on Friday and Saturday would softly growl anytime we came near his bed.  Despite my best efforts, he would not follow Chloe’s example that I was worthy of lap holding.  However, when I came into the house after the Sunday game, there was still a piece of bacon left sitting on the kitchen counter.  Two bites of bacon fed to Chance in his cage did the trick. He never growled at me again. I was smug that evening when Chance crawled all over me and even thought I was kiss worthy.

The next morning we deliberately ate a slow breakfast with Gerry at Cracker Barrel so we could miss Atlanta traffic and give road crews and salt time to work. Tennessee was not too bad, but Kentucky was slow driving with rough iced roads that shook the car.  Fortunately our excellent driver DuWayne could handle this dangerous stuff.  Once we got to Illinois, where even the university and colleges as well as all the schools were shut down for two days, the highways were clear.  But our country road was not, and our lane was  slick and tricky. 

By this weekend, weather is quite pleasant.  We are glad since our local schools’ start  spring break.  Everyone is reporting on plants in their yard beginning to come up into the sun. One friend has already written on Facebook that she has planted spinach and lettuce on the warm side of one of their out buildings.

Yesterday afternoon I was in town and did not get to sit through Georgia’s tournament games against Tennessee Tech and Kent State, but Gerald shared the winning results with me (3-1 and 4-1) and told me how good Geri Ann and Chelsea pitched. Today we both “watched” and tried to enjoy the new Game Tracker on the Georgia website that is vastly different from last year when the plays recorded were often slower than the radio announcer’s audio version.  Somehow we could cope with that.  It is much more difficult when the visuals on the computer screen are two plays ahead of what the announcer is saying, which is what is happening this year. We are not complaining though since this afternoon we beat Kent State 5-2 and Purdue 6-1.  That doubleheader sweep gives us a 20-2 record. 

No comments: