Tag Archives: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mount Rushmore Style

Headed to Chick-fil-AThis is has been a really good year! Could have been great with the exception a just a hand full of moments.  This year I wanted to do something different from my normal year end blog. Since the mighty Bulldogs of Mississippi State had a great year and at one point in time were in the top four in college football, I am going to honor that top four ranking system in a series of blog post. You could call it a Mount Rushmore style to topical blogging.  All of the topics this month will be focused on the best four of 2014.

To start out, I have picked a simple topic: the most important meal of the day, breakfast!  Here is a list of my top four most memorable breakfast meals of 2014 in no particular order.

Big Ed’s in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina is a traditional country style breakfast.  They are known for their hot cakes in the morning and southern style meat and three lunch menu.  During my 38 years on this planet, I think there are only two places that had pig brain on the menu, Winona City Cafe and Big Ed’s.  Truthfully, I didn’t eat pig brain or Big Ed’s hot cakes.  I played it safe with traditional eggs, country ham and grits.  It was amazing!  Big shout out to Jen Kramer who floated in to Big Ed’s like a master culinary critic with her little man, Isaiah.  Kramer selected Big Ed’s for breakfast for me and my road tripping friends.  All there will agree she floated!

Aretha Frankensteins in the north shore area of Chattanooga, Tennessee is a spot that even Rachel Ray has enjoyed.  I have eaten at Aretha’s before, however 2014 was my first chance to eat breakfast at the small twenty or so patron restaurant.  I chose an omelet with ham, cheese and jalapeños.  All was right in the world!  We had to show up before the doors even opened to make sure we secured our seat in a home that was converted into one of Chattanooga’s most famous places to eat.  I sat at the bar with friends where I could watch the comings and goings of the staff.  The place was hopping, but I feel like it is always hopping. Great breakfast… food, especially an omelet, is the fuel of an athlete!

Cracker Barrel, could be a Cracker Barrel anywhere because I always order the same thing.  However, the breakfast I remember was with a group of veteran Ironman triathletes in Nashville, Tennessee on a Sunday morning after an open water swim.  It was the same morning I saw two A-10 Warthogs fly over Nashville in formation.  For this breakfast I had my standard Old Timer’s Breakfast with toast not biscuits and gravy.  I enjoyed good nutrition that day, but I learned about   the nutrition that would save my butt during Ironman Chattanooga. I am very thankful for that meal and all the useful advice!

The last breakfast should probably be one of the many Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits eaten at Aviation Challenge on Fridays and once this summer on Saturday during a kids triathlon.  However, I remember each calorie of my Ironman Chattanooga breakfast.  I had a protein bar and Diet Mountain Dew to start the morning at five o’clock and then snacked on a pack of brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts and water while waiting for the swim start.  Might not sound like the most healthy of meals, but each portion served a purpose.  I think I have written about this breakfast so I won’t bore you.  That was a good day and each an every day is a glorious day if you keep the main thing the main thing.

There you have it! Big Ed’s, Aretha’s, the crack house and an ala cart meal the morning of a big race.  2014 has given me some great memories.  I should have been better about sharing these moments during the year, so I am now.  I hope you enjoy this Top 4/Mount Rushmore approach to my year end blogging.  If you have a topic for me to pick four on, please share that with me on Twitter @Graphitefree.  Enjoy your holiday and please be safe!

Home for the Big Games

Rhett's BellLast year I was not in Starkville, Mississippi for the Egg Bowl and wasn’t watching the Iron Bowl on my couch in Huntsville, Alabama.  I was in Baku, Azerbaijan with a nasty sinus infection.  In recent years, I have lived vicariously through the successes of both Alabama and Auburn nationally as I cheered proudly for the Bulldogs to win all they can each year but most importantly to beat “the school up north”.  Today, I will be watching both games in the same time zone as the games are being played.  But first, I wanted to reflect just a bit on where I was last year when Bo Wallace fumbled and the famous Kick Six happened.

First, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States and Egg Bowl day in Mississippi.  I was ten hours ahead of Mississippi time and watching the game on my iPad with help of an app called Hide My Ass.  I traveled to Baku with my cow bell but mine wasn’t the important bell. My nephew Rhett’s cow bell has never seen Ole Miss beat Mississippi State.  Each and every Egg Bowl where Rhett and his cow bell have attended, the Bulldogs have won!  I have included the photo which was texted to me by Walt after last year’s game.  I was tucked away in my room at the Excelsior Hotel when the game was winding down and headed into overtime.  I felt like State would lose in OT.  I am sure the final play was over minutes before I saw it in Baku, however as soon as I saw Bo Wallace fumble the football, I grabbed my cow bell and ran around my room and down the hall of the 5 Star hotel ringing it loudly.  I could feel the victory on the other side of the planet!  Too bad the bar was closed, I would have bought the house a round!  They wouldn’t have a chance to kick me out of the hotel, because I moved to another hotel the very next morning.

Two days after Thanksgiving the Iron Bowl was held on the campus of Auburn University.  Again I was watching the game with help from technology to hide my IP address.  It was more difficult with my step down in hotels and I kept falling asleep. Each time I would wake up to check the game, Auburn was losing.  Finally, I turned off the live streaming feeling as if Auburn’s luck ran out after their Hail Mary pass against Georgia the week before.  I rolled over in my bed knowing that Alabama would win and eventually play for the National Championship.  The football gods had a different plan.  Anything can happen during an Iron Bowl with time still on the clock.  With one second left to play, the improbable happened when a missed field goal was returned by Chris Davis for a touchdown.  While Auburn fans and students flooded the field in Auburn my phone erupted in Baku with text messages and FaceTime calls from the friends.  I heard form people who I didn’t speak to on a regular basis when I was in the states much less while I was in Azerbaijan.  I didn’t even know what had happened except Auburn had won!  I quickly went to YouTube where within minutes Vern & Gary’s call had been uploaded.  I watched in astonishment as Nick Sabam and Alabama didn’t really know what had happened either!  Auburn was headed to the SEC Championship and eventually a face off with Florida State.

WOW! Two great endings to a game within two days of each other and I was around the world to experience it all.  Today, I have heard the ESPN Game Day crew, as well as Tim Tebow & the SEC Nation crew say “where were you when…”, I was in Baku!  I wouldn’t change that at all.  However, being away last year has made me more thankful for being at home today.  This year MSU is in the mix of a playoff berth but we will need a win today in Oxford and some help from Auburn.  Today, I don’t have to live vicariously through an Alabama football team or the internet.  I am home to watch the drama unfold on live HDTV.  I love SEC football and no matter what happens, I am proud of the Bulldogs!  Hail State & War Eagle!

And just for kicks… Go Gators!

Hail State

Hail StateWhile standing in line at Barnes & Noble behind three Mississippi State fans buying Sports Illustrated, I realized this week has been very gratifying for a Mississippi State fan living in the state of Alabama.  I’ve lived in Huntsville, Alabama since 2002.  I quietly come and go each day not knowing how many Mississippi State fans and alumni surround me. However this week, it seems like they came out of the woodwork, but really they have been around me all along.  In a state full of houndstooth and War Damn Eagle, we have lived vicariously through other schools’ success.  No disrespect, we have been the yard dogs for quite sometime.  Mississippi State has never been ranked number one. But this week, we have been invited to eat with the big dogs.

Monday morning, I wore my MSU pull-over to the gas station where I encountered a man who I had never seen before and appeared to be homeless called me a band wagon fan.  Little did the man know, I grew up on a farm 45 minutes from Starkville, Mississippi, a farm with parents who both attended Mississippi State University, a farm where I had yelled and cried at radio and television broadcasts detailing the ups and the downs of the Bulldogs.  No sir, I am not a band wagon fan!

Thursday night, a chaplain going to the Space & Rocket Center’s Biergarten saw my maroon and white colors.  He stopped in his tracks and gave me a hug. “So proud for those dawgs”, he proclaimed and then talked about how much he admired Dan Mullen.  So many people at work have been excited for me and the other fans of Mississippi State.  It really is uncharted water for Mississippi State.  I think Dan Mullen and quarterback Dak Prescott will captain the ship through these waters to a successful season.  I am still just like any true MSU fan, it isn’t successful unless we beat Ole Miss!

In a response to more cowbell, they are selling cowbells in Huntsville, Alabama!  Local book stores have ordered extra issues of Sports Illustrated over the last two weeks. There was a sign last week at the MSU and Auburn game, “Win or lose, at least I don’t live in Alabama”.  I miss my home state tremendously, but this week has been really fun.  The Magnolia State Mayhem has bled over into houndstooth country which makes me happy and proud of my Bulldogs!  I am not about to predict Mississippi State making it past University of Kentucky, but I have enjoyed this week in my second state!

Turkey Blog 4.0

Do you know where you were a few days before Thanksgiving four years ago? Well, my answer to that question is, right here. I was sitting on this couch with my laptop computer creating my blog, GraphiteFree.  I haven’t been the most faithful companion to my blog. Life sometimes happens and it is less than eventful when you put it into print. This post is to help mark the anniversary and the Thanksgiving season.

The latest Facebook trend this month is to put what you are thankful for each day of November.  I didn’t discover this until a few days ago. I am less than observant at times. This is my futile attempt to be as cool as everyone who started on November 1st, listing what they are thankful for and desperately hoping to keep my blog relevant.

One – God:  I am very thank for our gracious Creator. Knowing that our God and Father is watching over us and loved us enough to save us is the most precious thing in our lives. This is what I am most thankful for.

Two – Family:  I have a wonderful family. Being home in Mississippi recharges my heart and soul. I love being on the farm near my family with my mom cooking in the kitchen and daddy in his chair. On top of that, I have a wonderful extended family in Madison County Alabama.

Three – Blinkers:  I love safety. I am the Be Ready Girl! Blinkers represent planning ahead… look for the safest route to your final goal… and not running into the driver next to you. Blinkers are important.

Four – Freedom:  Until the socialist take my freedom. I will be very thankful for this. Don’t believe everything you read. Thinking for yourself is the best way to experience freedom. The ability to pick and choose what you want to do on a daily basis is a glorious thing.

Five – Great Friends:  Throughout my life I have all ways been surrounded by wonderful people. Life is not much fun unless you have great friends to enjoy life with.

Six – Sports:  I am very thankful to be a fan of sports, a lover of ESPN Sports Center and a competitor in many sporting events. I love crying at sports movies and those touching “Inside the Lines” stories on Sunday mornings.

Seven – Bunnies:  This year, I was blessed by having a litter of rabbit kits. There were seven of the little guys. It was one of the coolest things ever! I now want to start a farm.

Eight – Health:  God has truly blessed me with great health. I can do all things I need to do. I have been given great endurance and I am seldom sick.

Nine – Ragnar:  On November 9th, a team of crazy friends and I ran from Chattanooga to Nashville. I am thankful for friends and for the ability run… I am still not fast, but I can run.

Ten – Soda Box Cookies:  These cookies are not made from some super secret recipe. These cookies however are the best ever conceived and my grandmother taught me how to make them. I miss my grandparents and are truly thankful to have some of the greatest to ever live.

Eleven – Electricity:  I could be one of those people who lives in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. However, electricity and technology has given us so much extra enjoyment in life. Without refrigeration our modern day Thanksgiving would not be possible.  It is great to type a blog and not use graphite to record all my ramblings.

Twelve – Cowbells:  No, Mississippi State is not known for its multiple national titles, but it is know for its cowbells. Mississippi State is a wonderful place with many happy memories attached to it. Hearing a cowbell ring gives me great joy! I am thankful for the Bulldogs and I hope they beat the University of Mississippi on Saturday.

Thirteen – Thanksgiving:  Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever conceived.  There is not a push to over commercialize it. People don’t get lost in shopping to help fuel our economy.  It is a day where we all pause and thank God for those things that are truly important in our lives.

Fourteen – Pencils:  The Dixon Ticonderoga is the quintessential American pencil.  It has been in my backpack, on my desk and behind my ear for many years. I love the pencil, because it does not expect me to be perfect like the pen does. The pencil is a non-judgmental companion that I am very thankful for.

Fifteen – Peanut Butter:  I was a picky eater growing up.  Some say I am still a picky eater.  However, if it wasn’t for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I might not have lived to see the age fifteen. Heck, I didn’t like pizza for a while. I feel sorry for all the poor souls who are allergic to peanut butter.

Sixteen – Golf:  Is there anything better than taking a club and beating the crap out of a small round object. To focus your energy on one single point in space and driving the ball beyond your own expectations is one of the best ways to release stress!

Seventeen – Math:  Seventeen is a prime number.  So is 37, which will be my age this time next year. No matter the number or age, I love math. I loved teaching math and doing math. I even like the new exhibit at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Math Alive.

Eighteen – Peyton Manning:  True, Peyton is not with the Colts anymore, but he is still my most favorite boy friend. But I am still very lucky to see my favorite Manning playing football this season! Thank you for Peyton’s health! Also, I am very happy Peyton attended Rocky Top and not Ole Piss.

Nineteen – Okra:  Delta State is a wonderful university found in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Knowing how quirky I am, you should know that I would go to school where they have a mascot like the Fighting Okra. I am an okra girl. The Statesmen is a dumb mascot!

Twenty – Salt:  What would we do without salt? It a multifunctional tool which I can not imagine a day without. It makes stuff taste better. It is used for many great Biblical analogies. And it is useful in making ice cream.

Twenty One – Antiperspirant:  Let me be honest with you all, I sweat more than most human beings do. If it were not for Degree antiperspirant I wouldn’t have friends and my Ragnar team mates would have kicked me out of the van after my first run. I am very thankful for the help I receive in the use of antiperspirant.

Twenty Two – Cotton:  I love being a farm kid. I love all the amazing memories I have either in the cotton field or the cotton gin. I loved having acres and acres to roam when growing up. I am very thankful for my farming family.

Twenty Three – Proof Readers:  I can’t spell or write very well without an army of people to help me. I need to have proof readers to make this blog thing a reality. It is fun connecting with people though my blog. I couldn’t do that without people to help me.

Twenty Four – Weddings:  This is going to seem like a crazy thing to be thankful for, but I am thankful for Anderson’s wedding last year. After the wedding my mom saw pictures of me on Facebook. She thought I was fat and told me I was fat. Later that fall she told me again after another wedding. I am thankful for this, because it was the kick in the pants I needed to get in shape!

Twenty Five – Running: I am thankful to be able to run, because it makes me not so fat. However, I wish I could be thankful for good genetics which makes me a good runner. But that is not the case, I am slow and thankful for the abilities I do have.

Twenty Six – Recruiting Staff:  Yes, I am very thankful for the efforts made to recruit new staff for Space Camp. But one of the most coolest things about staff recruitment, is staff training is not far behind. Did I mention, I have the coolest job in the world.

Twenty Seven – Baseball:  Since I was 20 months old I have been fascinated with the game of baseball. I have been to many professional, college and high school games. It doesn’t matter if it is a World Series or a little league game, I love the game of baseball. Get well soon Derek Jeter.

Twenty Eight – Gadgets:  I love knives, first aid supplies, tools and electronics. I like being ready for most anything that life could through at me. I am thankful that Lysol can kill 99.9% of germs. I am thankful for those who invented these things and the spirit of innovation.

Twenty Nine – Space Camp:  I am truly thankful for being able to work at a camp that operates year around.  Space Camp has wonderful staff. Everyday is a different day! I am thankful to work at the coolest place for space!

Thirty – Turkey:  I am a turkey for some of the things I have listed. But all in all, I have enjoyed this exercise. I will enjoy my time with my family around the Thanksgiving table. Thank you so much Mr. Butterball!

Holiday Traditions

The year 2011 is an odd year, which means it is one of the most glorious years! Every-other year the Egg Bowl is played in Starkville, Mississippi. This year I found myself in the stands of Davis Wade Stadium ringing my cowbell on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with my family.  The Saturday, I renewed a four year tradition of visiting Jack Daniels with Divot and friends for the December bottle signing with JD’s Master Distiller and Master Taster.  I also added a new tradition to my beloved list this week, watching Rudolph with my Madison, Alabama family as we enjoyed hot chocolate.

Traditions are important to me.  I have documented my tradition of wrapping Christmas presents in brown paper and displaying a feed troff (manger) in my home rather than an evergreen tree. I have always loved Thanksgiving and recently I have loved the years that Mississippi State played Ole Miss in Starkville even more. The past few Egg Bowls played at Mississippi State I have joined my nephews to enjoy the game from the stands. This year was no different. But I just have to mention how much I truly enjoy having my family together to watch a game and ring a cow bell.  Ringing a cow bell is absolutely addictive.  I suggest everyone try ringing a cow bell at a cow college before you die… but please ring responsibly.

This weekend, I visited Lynchburg, Tennessee for a bottle signing with Snapper, Kitten, Divot, and Christopher.  Divot and I first ventured up to Lynchburg for a signing four years ago and it was just as cold today as it was that first time.  Since the first visit, Divot and I have become Squires, convinced Snapper to enjoy bottle signings and I even spent time as a tour guide at JD. The point of me mentioning the tradition is a new tradition started at Jack, the Holiday Select bottle.  Jack Daniels released a line of 100 proof whiskey from 140 barrels.  The used barrels from the special Holiday whiskey were then fashioned into a Christmas tree.  How cool of an idea? Yes, I know that it is all marketing.  However what a clever idea to provide your customer with a product and a symbol of Christmas.

Rudolph, I am sure everyone has watched the 1964 TV movie.  But have you watched it with your family and friends gathered around you as if it was as important as The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the SEC Championship game.  This past Tuesday night I visited the DiCarlo family home for dinner and a movie.  We watched Rudolph.  I had not watched the movie since I was a young child.  I honestly didn’t remember the story line.  This fact only made it more memorable for me.  It is so special to enjoy peoples company at Christmas time and share family traditions.  Recently, I have missed my family a lot.  I can’t even describe how important family is to me.  This Rudolph tradition maybe simple, however, it is a wonderful time spent with the people you love.

Finally, this year is most defiantly an odd year.  In my house for the first time is a Christmas tree.  I know you are thinking what is wrong with Ruth Marie.  I finally caved to the power of the tree.  However, the feed troff is still being displayed right next to the tree.  I have realized that life is so much better if you have lots holiday traditions.  Life is so much greater when you have things to look forward to.  Life is so much sweeter when you have your favorite people around to enjoy the ups and downs, the good and the bad, and most importantly the traditions of life.

On a Roll!

After suffering a devastating loss in the 2008 presidential election, my teams have won big! Seeing the Republicans lose miserably in 2008 my competitive spirit was saddened and almost threw in the towel all together. My Yankees didn’t make the MLB playoffs in 2008. Peyton lost in the first round of the NFL payoffs. The Mississippi State Bulldogs were demoralized in the 2008 Egg Bowl 45-0 by their arch rival Ole Miss.

Today, I enjoyed watching my old boyfriend win his second AFC Championship. As I enjoyed this glorious come from behind victory, I realized my teams have been on a roll! The Yankees won the series this past season! The Bulldogs, lead by Dan Mullen, won the Egg Bowl big! They might not have had a winning season, but that doesn’t matter if you are victorious over Ole Miss! My husband’s alma mater Alabama won the National Title and Mark Ingram won the Heisman. I am an Independent in this state’s rivalry, but I claim that victory in the name of Punkin! Less than a year after our President took office the Republicans won a big race in Massachusetts with 1982 Cosmo model Scott Brown!

See, as excited as I am, I know my teams can’t keep rolling! And that is why I am so concerned about Super Bowl XLIV. My allegiance will always be with Peyton Manning, the New York Yankees, the GOP, and the MSU Bulldogs. However, I am worried my boy Peyton will lose, thus breaking my unprecedented winning streak! So should I use the logic of pulling for the other team just to help my true team win? Should I just quit following competitive sports? Or, should I just ride the roll until it is over?

Welcome to 2010

Survival TrainingI started this grand and glorious year with my brother and nephews at Pilot/Co-Pilot camp, a program of Aviation Challenge. It was so much fun! Whoever runs that place is a redheaded mastermind of fun! It was great hanging out with my family at AC for the weekend! It didn’t matter that Reece, call sign Pigskin, looked like a homeless Vietnam War vet. God love the little man, but he doesn’t care how he looks. Rhett, call sign Yankee, was concerned with shooting Alvin down. We all wanted to seek revenge on someone. We are a very competitive family! Shot down everyone in the sims and won the Flag Award. We had our fire built before Cornbread came back to the Boy Scout Area with matches.

Great weekend. I think Walt and I will be remembered as the college football people (Ole Miss and Florida played in Bowl games), because everyone knows I have to keep up with Urban Meyer and his boy! Ole Miss, I was hoping, would get wrangled by the OSU Cowboys. Great weekend only leads me to believe this will be a great year!

I am looking forward to training the newbies, presenting at SEEC and Honeywell Leadership Academy, the Star Wars exhibit, another AC 12 Day camp, and who knows, maybe another trip to Prescott for Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale and a PBC Wedge, or maybe, just maybe a winning season for MSU football! This year I started a really cool five year journal. Every day for five years I will add a paragraph about the day. Quick thoughts, maybe the quote of the day or something like that. Sounds like fun!

With the new journal, I am going to make a few changes this New Year. And they are as follows:

  1. Wear more pink, “Pink is my signature color!”
  2. Watch more reality TV. I want to create a new show, “Real Housewives of the Barn.”
  3. Be more huggie! Being affectionate is the true sign of a great leader!
  4. Stop using Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Truly, you can’t tell a difference in Dixons and the Staple’s brand.
  5. Finally, break up with Peyton; I think I am more interested in younger men now. Tim Tebow is a hottie!

Good luck and God Bless in 2010!