Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have many reasons to be thankful. Kelly’s return from her internship in Washington, certainly, has been a highlight for us. She was ready to return, and we surely are pleased to have her back in Topeka. Good to hear Julie and Kelly picking at each other again. Sisters! Her office made this sign for her final day with the League of Conservation Voters.
We started the day with a great church service. Love the hymns. Julie and I took Kelly around our church’s newly completed expansion. Wonderfully done. Sitting together as a family was very special. I can’t thank the Lord enough for watching over Kelly during her long stay in Washington.
The girls ate lunch with their mother, so Laura and I got a nap before our traditional Thanksgiving bicycle ride. Fall isn’t a good cycling time for either of us. It has been especially bad for Laura this fall. I knew it wouldn’t be fun for her. She hasn’t been on her bike for a long time and it was cold and windy. Not a good combination, but we still had fun.
Upon on return, it was time to cook. While I don’t consider myself a chef, I can follow recipes well and love to tinker with them as we go. Laura is willing sous chef. We might have food everywhere and just about all our pots and pans in use, but we have created some very fine meals.
Julie is easily the pickiest eater ever. For her to say during dinner that I cook the best and juiciest turkey ever is a compliment that boosts me through the roof. We have done big birds when Laura’s family has joined us and been very successful. This year, we bought a huge turkey breast cut from a bird at Herman’s Meat Market. After brining, a rub heavy with Spanish paprika and other spices coated the skin side. After some grilling to seal in the spices, the meat was finished off in the oven. Awesome. The bird dripped with juice. A sour orange sauce was a great compliment.
We added mashed sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers along with the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy. A grilled zucchini and corn succotash was our other new concoction that proved to be a huge hit. We watched some late college football so that when the tryptophan kicked in, we were ready for bed. We might have to make a late turkey dinner our annual holiday tradition.
Here is one final reason I have for being so thankful. Big family dinners like this wouldn’t be possible without Laura. Laura brought a real sense of family to my life that I haven’t had since my parents passed. Without her, I doubt I’d be in the kitchen “slaving away.” Again, I hope and pray you all had a wonderful day.
On to trying to catch up on this and that.
We drove to St. Louis Monday, the 16th, in a steady rain. The trip along Missouri’s I-70 corridor is one we always dread. Even today, the “Gateway City” remains just that. The traffic heading in both directions is always endless. I-70 through Missouri has to be one of the most heavily traveled in the country. It also has to have more billboards per mile.
We stayed at the Sheraton St. Louis City Center. KU basketball does just about everything high class. Our suite certainly didn’t disappoint. While photographing the clash between #1 Kansas and Memphis was our top professional priority, taking Laura out for a first-class dinner ranked #1 with me.
Laura didn’t disappoint. The dress we bought in Washington was as stunning as I remember. I hope you can see that from the photos in the gallery. Two people from the Kansas travel party remarked, after seeing Laura in the dress, that I had “won the lottery.” Another asked Laura why she had settled for “chopped liver?” Cold, but probably true.
It was a delight to take Laura to Tony’s. And, Tony’s didn’t disappoint either. Carlos our waiter was a great conversationalist. The food was all finished at table. Some highlights were Laura’s pumpkin soup with just the right touch of cinnamon. My escargot were bathed in a delicious sauce. Salads were wonderfully prepared. My black-pepper-encrusted sirloin was mouth-watering and tear-rendering. The pan sauces for Laura’s filet and mine were fabulously rich and calorie-laden. Rare for us, but worth it. A good bottle of wine and a sinfully rich chocolate dessert capped a dining experience we truly enjoyed together. The rest of the evening was just as delightful.
The game proved to very interesting and pointed up just how strong and deep the KU team is this year. While I heard lots of moaning and groaning from some fans that KU didn’t blow Memphis out, I offer this suggestion to those fans. Remember what Bill Self said after. “I don’t get too freaked out over games in November.” KU fans should do the same.
November basketball is a joke to me. The games are glorified exhibition games. Bill Self knows that. I could go on and on about the differences between Roy Williams and Bill Self for good and bad. One difference has to be the way the two coaches approached games like the one against Memphis.
Strictly my opinion, but Roy liked to put jigsaw puzzles together. He had his super stars, but he also tried to find players who fit a specific role. What that usually meant is that Roy’s teams were ready to destroy teams from the get go and send a message to everyone.
Bill reminds me of the kid in a candy store. He wants all the sweets and gets most of them. How he manages to handle all that candy is the great show. It takes time for all the talent to find their roles and mesh. Early games are about breaking down acclaimed players so that they all work together. Sometimes it works well. Other times it doesn’t. November is only the beginning. I can assure you, he loves the challenge.
One cautionary note. Kinesio Tape began to appear on athletes in the last summer Olympics. Here is a description. “Kinesio taping gives support and stability to your joints and muscles without affecting circulation and range of motion. It is also used for preventive maintenance, edema, and pain management.” Sounds like amazing stuff. The bottom line is that no one wears it for show though.
I’ve noticed that Sherron Collins is wearing more and more of it each game. That can’t be good news. Collins remains the key.
The latter portion of our week included a trip to Austin for the KU football game. The Mark Mangino drama was huge, but that will have to wait for a separate post. That is a big subject!
With the late game, we were able to get up early and head for Flip Happy Crepes. The picture tells it all. Just a block from the river, this unique outdoor eatery was featured in a “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” episode. The two women that work out of the Airstream trailer won the challenge and won our hearts. Laura went for a breakfast crepe. I took on the Cuban crepe that finished with a wallop of spice. Fortunately, the Nutella and banana crepe we shared helped calm the tongue.
Next stop was what many cyclists would call Mecca. Mellow Johnny’s is the huge bike shop Lance Armstrong opened a few years ago. From the size of the crowd, it obviously has become quite the tourist attraction, and deservedly so. The selection of every cycling need was Texas big.
Even for non-Lance fans like the two of us, the place rocks. Seeing many of the bikes he rode to victory was very cool. Fortunately, our dislike of the man kept us from dropping a wad of money on Mellow Johnny gear. Watching some of the visiting riders stroll around the shop and its coffee shop café in complete Mellow Johnny kit meant we weren’t threatening to hurt their bottom line.
The nightcap was the game. Again, Texas big. Over 100,000 fans. Biggest video board I’ve ever seen. Canon blasts after every score, extra point and kickoff. Yes, it was a blowout, but KU played very hard.
The trip home on the team plane was very quiet, but that is not unusual. We are often asked about those trips. People expect the players to be both overjoyed and dancing in the aisles after victories or distraught and bowed after loses. The best word to use is tired. Win or lose, players hit their seats, clamp on their headphones and go to sleep. All the usual flight rules mean nothing. No seatbacks in the upright position. No tray tables locked and stowed. Personal computers and music players are in full use.
The beauty of a KU trip is that the teams fly out of Topeka. We are home in ten minutes after our bags are thrown in the car. The photo gallery needs only final touches since most of the work has been completed on the plane. Our heads hit pillow at 3 a.m.
Now, we are just a day away from the Missouri game and what likely will be Mark Mangino’s final game. Remember the name Nolan Cromwell! Missouri will choke and KU will find some magic and win. Just one man’s opinion. I’ll be more worried about Colorado getting all fired up for Nebraska game.
Enjoy your Black “Shirt” Friday.
For more photos from St. Louis and Austin, click here.