January 2009 Archives

What Friends Are For...

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On January 17 we made an impromptu trip to Bloomington and Canton Illinois to support one of Ben's friends, Chuck.  Chuck's mom, Linda, passed away after a long and courageous fight against cancer.  I did not have to pleasure of meeting Linda, but hearing the stories and accolades from those that did, she was an incredible lady that will be greatly missed by family, friends and the community.

Although the initial reason for the trip was not ideal, we were able to visit with Ben's mom and other friends that he had not seen in IL for a while.  We went to a Bloomington PrairieThunder game with Matt.  They are an IHL hockey team.  It wasn't quite like going to a Carolina Hurricanes game, but the players were determined and played with everything they had. (unlike some Hurricanes games, heh)  The game ended in exciting fashion with Bloomington winning a 9 round shootout.  We thought the goalies were going to have to shoot against each other.   Matt works at the Johnston's Hockey Pro Shop and is a little bit popular with the hockey crowd.  Walking around the US Cellular Center we were stopped time to time with folks wanting to chat with him.  After the game we hung out at a pub with Matt's buddies and waited for the PrairieThunder players, but we left before they got there.  We stopped by the hockey shop to check out all the gear.  Matt fitted Ben with hockey skates...some nice ones...like the kind Eric Staal wears.

On Sunday we browsed the antique furniture Ben's mom has up for grabs.  We tagged a few pieces we liked, now the challenge will be getting them to Raleigh.  After a nice lunch with mom, we headed to Canton, IL with Matt to attend the viewing.  It was good to see Chuck and Karmen and give them a hug in person.  I might be a little sentimental, but it was heart-warming to see Chuck, Matt and Ben together.  Chuck and Matt were groomsmen in our wedding.  Since they live in 3 different states, spanning the country, they don't get to see each other in person that often.  Something we talk about being better about, we just need to do it!  They were like three peas in a pod reunited.  We spent the evening with Chuck, his dad and Karmen. 

Monday was the funeral service and a luncheon at the church fellowship hall.  We did what we could to support Chuck.  I can't imagine what he's going through, but hopefully we made it easier for a bit.  For me at least, this is what friends are for.

Chuck, Matt, Ben


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I woke up Tuesday morning to a beautiful blanket of snow!  The weather forecast had been flip-flopping the last couple of days.  First we weren't going to get much, then possibly 4-6 inches, then back to "a few flakes".  I was pleasantly surprised when I looked out in the morning, expecting a light dusting, to see 2-3 inches already on the ground.  By the time it stopped snowing that afternoon, we had 6 inches of snow.  WOOHOO!!  Here are more pictures of the snow. Snow Pictures

I know, for those of you reading this from more northern areas, you're thinking "What's the big deal?"  For most of you that have to live with this stuff for 3-4 months, I'm sure it loses it's appeal and is mostly a nuisance.  For me, living my whole life in NC, snow is something I see a couple of times a year and it rarely accumulates.  Usually we get ice or freezing rain which just causes power outages and crazy traffic problems. 

I think some of my fascination with snow comes from my childhood.  There were no snowplows in Raleigh back then, so when we got enough snow to cover the roads, school was canceled.  My two brothers and I would get out the out the sled and spend the whole day riding down hills.  The first thing we would do is line up on the sled, my older brother first so he could drive, me next, then my younger brother.  We'd try the sidewalk first.  As we got older, the challenge was how far we got before my younger brother fell off the back.  I was about 10 when I got my own sled.  Then we would race each other and dare each other to go down steeper hills or the trails with lots of trees.  It was one of the few times we weren't fighting.  As if the snow was some great negotiator that would bring us to a truce for a few short hours or days. 

Last weekend Ben and I were in IL.  One afternoon it started to snow these BIG, fluffy snowflakes.  I went outside to enjoy the snow and noticed a perfectly formed, 6 sided snowflake on my sweater...you know, like the way they look on Christmas cards.  I had never seen this before.  I thought that was only at the microscopic level.  I guess since the snow we get in NC isn't as fluffy or is half melted before it gets to the ground, I had never noticed this before.  Most the folks around us thought I was insane.  They're right. :0)  Ben tried taking pictures, but they didn't really turn out that well.  If you look closely you can see a couple of nice flakes in this picture.


President Barack H. Obama

I am watching Obama's Inauguration speech as I type this.  Today, history was made.  The United States of America has sworn in our first black president.  Cicely Tyson was in the crowd. She said she had brought the pictures of her ancestors to witness today's events.  In that one act, it embodies what today means for a race that has struggled and fought for equality in this country.

I sat in my living room with my husband, Ben, watching on TV.  As the cameras panned over the crowd, tears came to my eyes.  Why?  I think because there's a part of me that wants to believe that this country is truly evolving past the short-sightedness of segregation and race based atrocities.  Because I want to think positive thoughts on this historic day.  Reality will set in soon enough, but for a little while, I want to believe things will be different.  Hope that we are at a point in this country that the color of one's skin will not matter.  The place someone was born will not matter. 

The parties will soon be over and tomorrow Barack Obama will go to work attempting to make a difference.  I can only hope the rest of us will try to make a difference as well.  As individuals and as a country.
It's now been a little over a month since Paul Maurice took over coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.  Slowly, bit by bit, pass by pass, the team has improved.  They are playing a more defensive brand of hockey, but at the same time, the offense is making more of a difference as well.  They are moving the puck better, the passes are crisper, the scorer chances stronger.  Overall, the team is doing something they couldn't do the first 2 months of the season, play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey each game.

Tonight's game saw all their patience and hard work come together as they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2.  We got to the RBC Center early enough to go rink side to watch the warm ups.  The guys looked relaxed and even joked around a little.  Leighton checked one player (I think it was Eaves) into the boards during one of the drills.  Staal raced up behind LaRose and yanked on his jersey with a smirk on his face as to say "I'm faster than you".  You have to think they are feeling better about themselves as a team and individually than a month and a half ago.

The first period started out with a fast goal by Ray (aka Pinchy) Whitney.  That really got the crowd going.  The Canes defense shutdown the Devils and didn't give them many scoring changes.  The second period was much of the same, with a power play goal by Sergei Samsonov.  Going into the third period at 2-0, you really got the feeling that things were really starting to click for this team.  That we do have a chance at earning the points needed in the second half of the season to make a run for the playoffs.  The team continued to play well in the third.  Tuomo Ruutu got the winning goal off at the 9:58 mark.  There was a roughing penalty called on Justin Williams that looked questionable from our viewpoint.  The Devils scored on the power play.  They guys didn't give up though.  They kept up the pace, particularly during the Samsonov hooking penalty when Coach Sutter pulled the goalie.  Most of the power play was 6 on 4, but the Canes didn't give up a goal.  The Devils got another goal with 22 seconds left, but by then most the fans were on their feet and cheering for a great win by the Hurricanes.

One player that I'd like to point out is Chad LaRose.  He's been called the "Chuck Norris" of hockey and it's a well deserved nickname.  Shortly after the coaching change, he sat out a game as a healthy scratch.  People were mumbling about how his minutes had been cut.  But since the game he sat out, he has been pushing the limits and hitting everything in sight.  His determination has paid off.  He's moved up a line and is getting 17+ minutes a game.  IMHO, he's one of the most improved players of this team.  Though he's in good company.  Anton Babchuk has 4 points in the last 5 games.  Joni Pitkanen is playing more consistently.  And Ward, can't say enough about how awesome he's been playing.

So here at the half-way point of the season, I'm feeling good about these Carolina Hurricanes.  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but I'm liking our chances.


Happy 2009

Happy New Year! 

2008 ended with a win for the Carolina Hurricanes!  It has not been the best season for them, so hopefully 2009 will be better.  GO CANES!

After the game we went to Tim and Kelley's house to ring in the new year with friends.  Tons of fun was had.  Some of us <cough> Tim, Ben </cough> had extra to drink, which lead to extra fun.  For example:  (click for larger version)

posting20090101.JPGMost I've laughed in a long time!  You can click here to read more of it.

I'm not one to make resolutions, but I am going to try to post more regularly to this blog in 2009.  It will mostly be about trips I've taken or hockey related, we'll see how it works out.

Hope 2009 is a great year for you!