Local people with their arms crossed

OK, this has absolutely nothing to do with anything going on in this family challenge, but I had to share with someone!

http://localpeoplearmscrossed.tumblr.com

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Spring has sprung / yet it’s cold / but March Madness / never gets old

Last week we welcomed SPRING. Those of us on the East Coast, you know, everyone except that Carl guy and his family, celebrated by building fires, pulling on our warm coats and discreetly shaking our fists at the skies. !*@#^# again!?!?!

Yep, it snowed and drizzled on the first day of spring, but that was probably a godsend, because it means the daffodils will likely be as thick and varied as they were last year, and it meant there was no incentive to venture out of doors and risk missing an exciting day of basketball.

DaffodilsThe First Round’s second day of games on the 20th were good, but it will be hard to top a day like that first day of the First Round. WOW!

It was fitting that the first upset casualty of the tournament went to the first-born of the cousins. Elaine and Iowa State lost out to Susan’s UAB, a team that was not supposed to win. On the other hand, Susan’s Baylor was supposed to win, but it was upset, too, by the funnest end to a game I’ve ever seen. Coach Hunter (who ruptured his achilles celebrating his play-in win) fell off his rolling stool, pounded the ground, hugged his star player-son with all his might and quickly endeared himself to an entire country. Claire got a good one.

https://youtu.be/VEbhBo4wVc4

Honor’s Ole Miss fell, but her Ohio State pulled off an upset of Dan’s VCU. It seems weird that such a usually prominent school should be considered the underdog, but such was also the case when UCLA and Mike B upset the higher ranked SMU and Dottie.

Everyone still had at least one team going into the second day of the First Round, but Christine, Daniel, Dell, Dottie, Jim and Rhyne soon lost the one team they had left. Meanwhile, Dub showed why organized religion is on the wane when St. Johns lost to Joe and San Diego State, and Valparaiso lost to GELD’s Maryland. And Coran was slain by the Virginias: Belmont fell to Carl’s Real Virginia, and Buffalo (coached by a much-more-reasonable-looking-as-an-adult Bobby Hurley) lost to West Virginia. And now that I think about it, the Ds in the family did not fare well at all. Only Dan and Georgetown survived

Here’s what the chart looked like after Round 1.

Beth Louisville (4-E) Notre Dame (3-MW)
Carl Kansas (2-MW) Virginia (2-E)
Caroline Arizona (2-W)
Christine
Claire Wisconsin (1-W) Georgia State (14-W)
Coran
Dan Georgetown (4-S)
Daniel
Dell
Dottie
Dub
Elaine Cincinnati (8-MW)
Elizabeth Iowa (7-S) Villanova (1-E)
Ellie NC State (8-E) West Virginia (5-MW)
GELD Maryland (4-MW)
Gordon Utah (5-S) Xavier (6-W)
Honor Ohio St. (10-W)
Jim
Joe Duke (1-S) San Diego State (8-S)
Karen Oklahoma (3-E)
Katie Northern Iowa (5-E)
Libby Oregon (8-W)
M&M Wichita State (7-MW)
Marty Kentucky (1-MW) UNC (4-W)
Mike B UCLA (11-S)
Pierce Michigan State (7-E)
Rebecca Arkansas (5-W)
Rhyne
Rivers Gonzaga (2-S)
Robert Dayton (11-E)
SarK Butler (6-MW)
Susan UAB (14-S)

Still with 2 teams:
Beth
Carl
Claire
Elizabeth
Ellie
Gordon
Joe
Marty

Hanging on with 1 team:
Caroline
Dan
Elaine
GELD
Honor
Karen
Katie
Libby
M&M
Mike B
Pierce
Rebecca
Rivers
Robert
SarK
Susan

Out
Christine
Coran
Daniel
Dell
Dottie
Dub
Jim
Rhyne

Round 2 was brutal for our Texas friends. Carl lost BOTH of his highly ranked picks when Virginia tanked to Pierce’s Michigan State and Kansas was Rock Chalk Shock Balked when it lost to the mighty M&M’s Wichita State. And Joe didn’t stand a chance, since his team’s played each other. Duke prevailed, and as Joe commented on Facebook, things that make him feel warm and grateful include “my husband walking around giving me the stink-eye cause you gave my Duke as my team.” That makes me feel warm and grateful for several different reasons. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court feels the same.

The other big upset came when the Ellie’s Heart Attack Pack (Cardiac, if you prefer) took down #1 Villanova, Elizabeth’s team. Because of that win, five of the Sweet 16 teams will be from the ACC, though I’m sure I was not the only one who had as hard a time watching Maryland and realizing they were NOT an ACC team, as I had watching Louisville, who played at the same time and who IS in the ACC.

Here’s what the chart looked like after Round 2.

Beth Louisville (4-E) Notre Dame (3-MW)
Carl
Caroline Arizona (2-W)
Claire Wisconsin (1-W)
Dan
Elaine
Elizabeth
Ellie NC State (8-E) West Virginia (5-MW)
GELD
Gordon Utah (5-S) Xavier (6-W)
Honor
Joe Duke (1-S)
Karen Oklahoma (3-E)
Katie
Libby
M&M Wichita State (7-MW)
Marty Kentucky (1-MW) UNC (4-W)
Mike B UCLA (11-S)
Pierce Michigan State (7-E)
Rebecca
Rivers Gonzaga (2-S)
Robert
SarK
Susan

Still with both teams are the might blondes:
Beth
Ellie
Gordon
Marty

Those with one team:
Caroline
Claire
Joe
Karen
M&M
Mike B
Pierce
Rivers

And farewell to:
Carl
Dan
Elaine
Elizabeth
GELD
Honor
Katie
Libby
Rebecca
Robert
SarK
Susan

For those keeping score, we have 3 Pattersons, 4 Rhynes and 5 Blyths left.

And it’s evenly matched between cousin generation and second-cousin generation: 6 each (2 from each family in the second generation).

Happy watching, everyone. Keep those cards and letters coming. Um, I meant, COMMENT BELOW!!!

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HAPPY of HAPPIES / JOY of JOYS / IT’S BASKETBALL HEAVEN / FOR GIRLS AND BOYS

Oh, sweet mother of all things beautiful and righteous, it is here. Finally. Amid much sadness in the world — racial strife in America, international human rights crises, natural disasters and a looming chocolate shortage — joy has returned in the form of a 29.5-inch sphere as it brushes against the nylon nets in its downward trajectory off the fingertips of a 19-year-old kid from Small Town, USA. Glory be to the basketball gods on highest!

We’ve returned from what we have built into something of an annual tradition: going to DC and Arlington in mid-March. In addition to celebrating Dell’s birthday, celebrating Pi Day and celebrating Jim’s wonderful photo-word-a-day Lent blog, Dell and I took some time off to do a little newscasting at the Supreme Court.

But now, we’re coming to you from beautiful suburban Williamsburg, where the college students are well behaved and the retirees aren’t. At tournament central, the Cat Commissioners have been hard at work working brackets and assigning teams, in between belching fur balls and eating unidentifiable food particles off the floor, of course. Here are two of the commissioners in their entry into the So Sweet That Your Teeth Ache photo contest below.

FullSizeRenderWorking with their usual scientific attention to detail, the commissioners have paired some family members so that there are 32 competitors that can be assigned two teams. This year, since, well you know, I WON THE TOURNAMENT, they decided I should sacrifice my individuality and team up with my husband (as we near our 10-year anniversary next month, you would think I’ve learned to do that in our marriage, too. Maybe at 20 years….). So Megan/Mike is one team (M&M). The far lovelier pair of Sarah and Kiran (SarK) is another team. The far more adorable twosome of Rowan and Cora (Coran) are in the mix. And the far wiser quartet of Dot, Lee, Ed and Gwynn (GELD) will seek to deprive us all of our vitality and vigor.

So, without further ado, may I present the 2015 Rhyne-Blyth-Patterson-Mostly-Annual Who-Thought-It-Was-A-Good-Idea-To-Call-The-Thymus-Gland-Of-An-Animal-SWEETBREADS-Family-NCAA-Basketball-Bonfire!!!!

Beth Louisville (4-E) Notre Dame (3-MW)
Carl Kansas (2-MW) Virginia (2-E)
Caroline Arizona (2-W) Wofford (12-W)
Christine Oklahoma State (9-W) Texas Southern (15-W)
Claire Wisconsin (1-W) Georgia State (14-W)
Coran Belmont (15-E) Buffalo (12-MW)
Dan Georgetown (4-S) VCU (7-W)
Daniel Stephen F Austin (12-S) Georgia (10-E)
Dell Lafayette (16-E) Providence (6-E)
Dottie Wyoming (12-E) SMU (6-S)
Dub St. Johns (9-S) Valparaiso (13-MW)
Elaine Iowa State (3-S) Cincinnati (8-MW)
Elizabeth Iowa (7-S) Villanova (1-E)
Ellie NC State (8-E) West Virginia (5-MW)
GELD LSU (9-E) Maryland (4-MW)
Gordon Utah (5-S) Xavier (6-W)
Honor Ohio St. (10-W) Ole Miss (11-W)
Jim Hampton (16-MW) Coastal Carolina (16-W)
Joe Duke (1-S) San Diego State (8-S)
Karen Oklahoma (3-E) New Mexico State (15-MW)
Katie Purdue (9-MW) Northern Iowa (5-E)
Libby Eastern Washington (13-S) Oregon (8-W)
M&M Robert Morris (16-S) Wichita State (7-MW)
Martie Kentucky (1-MW) UNC (4-W)
Mike B UCLA (11-S) Northeastern (14-MW)
Pierce Michigan State (7-E) Indiana (10-MW)
Rebecca Harvard (13-W) Arkansas (5-W)
Rhyne North Dakota State (15-S) Texas (11-MW)
Rivers Davidson (10-S) Gonzaga (2-S)
Robert Dayton (11-E) Albany (14-E)
SarK UC Irvine (13-6) Butler (6-MW)
Susan UAB (14-S) Baylor (3-W)

Congratulations to the holders of our #1 seeds for this tournament: Claire with Wisconsin, Elizabeth with Villanova, Martie with the #1-#1 seed, Kentucky, and Joe with Duke. This might be the only time someone is NOT happy to receive a #1 seed because Carl may become violently ill if he has to pull for his partner’s team. San Diego State, OK, but Duke?

We would also like to extend our advanced condolences to Jim who has not one, but two of the #16 seeds (Hampton and Coastal Carolina). On the bright side, Hampton’s coach had the best moment of the tournament (and I use that term loosely because the play-in games add ZERO value to the Big Dance) when he called Jesus on his cell phone to assess his chances against #1 Kentucky.

http://bleacherreport.com/video_embed?id=d3dXQxdDrMfbUCWwEU4mfzy75zlUHLS1

Dell has #16 Lafayette, which is the name of my and Rebecca’s high school and which has about as much chance of beating Villanova. M&M has the last #16 of Robert Morris, which could be a close relation to Phillip Morris and will surely get smoked by Duke.

The lowest (best) team totals lie with cousins from each family branch: Carl (4), Marty (5) and Beth (7). And the worst team totals like with a jumble of relations, but also from each family branch: Jim (32), Coran (27) and Rhyne (26).

Rebecca has drawn some interesting picks: the alma mater of her stepmother, and the alma mater of her sister. That alma mater, Harvard, will play the alma mater of Rebecca’s sister, UNC. By the way, who the heck is Alma Mater anyway?

Dottie’s twosome features the cowboys of Wyoming and the wannabe cowboys of people in Dallas. It’s hard to get a 10-gallon hat on a 20-gallon hair-do. Dan’s keeping it close to home with in-town hopeful Georgetown and VCU from D.C. South (also known as Virginia). Speaking of Virginia, Carl in Texas will carry the hopes of his nephew and cousins, Daniel, Honor and Wahoo-in-the-Oven.

Martie carries the hopes of many family members with UNC. Carrying the Dean Smith legacy over the Patterson stronghold on Duke may be trying, but to carry that legacy at the same time as the Adolph Rupp legacy of Kentucky? That’s a battle of good versus pure evil. (And just how sa-weeeeet would it be a HBC beat Rupp’s old team?)

Mike B wins the cross-country award with UCLA on one side and Northeastern on the other. Susan sports the southern syllogism with UAB and Baylor. Coran got alliterative with Belmont and Buffalo. And Dub’s fighting a holy war with the Catholics of St. Johns and the Lutherans of Valparaiso. Don’t MESS with the Lutherans, man; we will reform you to death!

In the first round, it will be sister against sister when Caroline’s Arizona squares off against Christine’s Texas Southern, not to mention brother against sister when Rivers’ Davidson plays Elizabeth’s Iowa.

I’m cutting it close to tip-off, and my stomach’s growling, so I’ll leave you for now. Please add any comments or trash talk to the comment section below.

And here’s wishing you the best of all days. I love you all.

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No time to gloat

Good morning, all!

I would have been in touch earlier, but I was busy burning a couch on my porch in celebration of my unlikely tournament win. I considered posting a long gloating rant, with references to the gold-plated food bowls and specially quilted cat litter the Cat Commissioners are now enjoying. Instead, I’ll thank you all for indulging me in this silly tradition. I enjoy hearing from you and I love the opportunity to connect virtually each year.

And, since 9 years ago today I woke up single, and went to sleep married, I bring you this photo from 2005. If I could master PhotoShop, I’d insert all the missing family members and the newly added ones, for you are all there in some spirit.

Image

All the love to you!

Megan

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Ruff v. Meow

See you on the flip side…

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For Four

Greeting Down to Earthlings —

I was momentarily lulled into blissful ignorance (as opposed to my usual unblissful ignorance) by the official arrival of spring weather. The budding trees, the cheerful daffodils, the randy birds, they all conspired to make me forget the pain of losing my teams in the family basketball challenge.

What’s that you say? What, UConn is still in? In the Final Four? 1. 2. 3. 4.? Why, I had no ideeeea.

Dell, of course, knows that I am utterly insincere since I taunted him mercilessly, like a young Deion Sanders, when his Iowa State Cyclone were mere dog bones to the mighty Huskies. Rough-Rough!

UConn then got past The Donner Party’s (and Obama’s pick) Michigan State, who, in turn came out of the third round to beat Libby’s UVA, the ACC’s last best hope.

So, yeah, UCon is still in. So is Florida. Rivers faced sudden suicide when in the Round of 16, his Gators faced his Bruins of UCLA. In a close game, Florida then beat out the upstart Dayton Flyers, Elaine’s team who impressively surged past Elizabeth’s Stanford to get to the Elite 8.

EdGwynn’s hung tough when the #1 seed Arizona beat Pierce’s San Diego State, but then took it on the chin from Caroline’s Wisconsin Badgers (that is, if badgers can reach a wildcat’s chin). Wisconsin beat out Jim’s Baylor Bears to be the third Final Four team and the only one without blue in its colors.

The final Final Four team is Kentucky, who first overcame cross-state rival Louisville, which may have been the first time I actively rooted for the Cardinals, not because I wanted Libby to triumph over her son, but because me no likely Kentucky. Sorry Rhyne. To get to the Final Four, Rupp’s Raiders squeaked out a win over Gordon’s Michigan, who earlier took out Christine’s Tennessee.

Out after the Round of 16 were Christine, Dell, Elizabeth, Jim, Libby and Pierce. No one has both teams any longer, but the eight remaining with one team were Caroline, the Donner Party, EdGwynn, Elaine, Gordon, Megan, Rhyne and Rivers.

Caroline Wisconsin – 2W
Christine
Daniel & Honor Michigan St. – 4E
Dell
Ed & Gwynn Arizona – 1W
Elaine Dayton – 11S
Elizabeth
Gordon Michigan – 2M
Jim
Libby
Megan UConn – 7E
Pierce
Rhyne Kentucky – 8M
Rivers Florida – 1S

After the Elite 8, we said farewell to the Donner Party, EdGwynn, Elaine and Gordon. Left to duke it out (since Duke didn’t) are Caroline, Megan, Rhyne and Rivers. That’s one Blyth, one Rhyne (not you, Rhyne) and two Pattersons (that’s you, Rhyne).

Caroline Wisconsin – 2W
Daniel & Honor
Ed & Gwynn
Elaine
Gordon
Megan UConn – 7E
Rhyne Kentucky – 8M
Rivers Florida – 1S

Saturday is Megan v. Rivers and Caroline v. Rhyne.

I’m hoping my Patterson and Blyth cousins will root for UConn since I am the sole survivor of our generation. Who do these young whippersnappers think they are!?

Happy watching, and happy spring!

Megan

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The Round 1 – 2 punch

Well, well, well. What have we here? Rebecca starts the tournament with the second lowest seed total (4) and exits the tournament in the 2nd round (and, by the way, i’m boycotting the new terminology that the 2nd round is now the 3rd round because of the 4 play-in games). We were SHOCKED the #1 seed Wichita State lost, and perhaps that #3 Syracuse tanked so early.

Speaking of tanking…..yes, Duke was puke in the first round, again saddening Rebecca, and delivering a kick in the gut to Dub — his alma mater and one of his two picks. His other pick, Stephen F. Austin, lumberjacked their way to one win, but couldn’t hold on for another.

Who else did we lose in the first round? Beth’s two close-to-home picks of George Washington and VCU (did anyone notice that George Washington Colonials played the Tennessee Volunteers — are those the same thing?). We also lost Claire, Dan Rowan and SaKi, whose low-seeded twosomes were not expected to do much. Nor were Dottie’s two, and they did both lose, but one of them was American, and as some of you may have seen on the comments, she was assigned her team by the Cat Commissioners the same day she got her acceptance letter to same university. Congratulations, Dottie!

Martie was probably the most shocked of the first round when both of her #6 seeds withered. Mike P.’s losses weren’t of too great a surprise. What was a surprise was that I originally assigned him BYU’s seed number and region but with Weber State name. Weber State properly belonged to Dan Rowan, but Mike’s BYU lost anyway.

Since married couples often do things in unison (I need to learn how do they do that), Robert and Susan both suffered upsets of their #5 seeds, Cincinnati and Oklahoma, respectively.

Going into the second round, Caroline, The Donner Party, Dell, EdGwynn, Ellie, Libby, Mike B, Rebecca and Rivers all had both their teams intact.

And then there was carnage.

Many of them are still around, but now only Libby and her nephew Rivers have both of their teams.

In addition to Rebecca, out in this round was Carl (quack), A Lot, Dub, Joe, Karen, Katie, Martie, Mike B. and Susan. Ellie was also eliminated when Kansas lost to Stanford.

And at this point I have to make my Most Ridiculous Statement of the Tournament award. It goes to Stanford coach, and former Duke star Johnny Dawkins, who, in rightfully complimenting the Cardinal’s determined play, called them “a blue collar team.” You can call them hard working, gritty, tenacious, scrappy, whatever, but blue collar? Stanford? A team coached by a Duke alum with an NBA retirement plan? Um…no.

So, who besides Libby and Rivers are left? Caroline, Christine, The Donner Party, Dell, EdGwynn, Elaine, Elizabeth, Gordon, Jim, Megan, Pierce and Rhyne (Rhyne, just how BAD did our Buffs look!?!?! Yikes).

For those keeping count, that’s 6 Rhynes, 5 Pattersons and 3 Blyths.

Thanks for your comments and well wishes — keep ‘em coming! And we’ll be in touch after Round 3! (Or 4. You know how lazy I can be.)


Here are how things looked after Round 1:

Beth
Carl Oregon – 7W
Caroline Wisconsin – 2W Creighton – 3W
Christine Tennessee – 11M
Claire
Dan Rowan
The Donner Party Michigan St. – 4E Pittsburgh – 9S
Dell Harvard – 12E Iowa St. – 3E
A Lot Memphis – 8E
Dottie
Dub Stephen F. Austin – 12S
EdGwynn Arizona – 1W Villanova – 2E
Elaine Dayton – 11S
Elizabeth Stanford – 10S
Ellie North Dakota State – 12W Kansas – 2S
Gordon Michigan – 2M
Jim Baylor – 6W
Joe Gonzaga – 8W
Karen St. Louis – 5M
Katy Texas – 7M
Libby Virginia – 1E Louisville – 4M
Martie
Megan UConn – 7E
Mike B North Carolina – 6E Mercer – 14M
Mike P
Pierce San Diego State – 4W
Rebecca Wichita State – 1M Syracuse – 3S
Rhyne Kentucky – 8M
Rivers UCLA – 4S Florida – 1S
Robert
SaKi
Susan

And here are how things looked after Round 2:

Carl

Caroline Wisconsin – 2W
Christine Tennessee – 11M
The Donner Party Michigan St. – 4E
Dell Iowa St. – 3E
A Lot
Dub
EdGwynn Arizona – 1W
Elaine Dayton – 11S
Elizabeth Stanford – 10S
Ellie
Gordon Michigan – 2M
Jim Baylor – 6W
Joe
Karen
Katie
Libby Virginia – 1E Louisville – 4M
Megan UConn – 7E
Mike B
Pierce San Diego State – 4W
Rebecca
Rhyne  Kentucky – 8M
Rivers UCLA – 4S Florida – 1S
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