Revving up Fast Tammy


Though the sky was leaden and the rain fell steadily, the rolling hills of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond were studded with the pale pinks, greens and whites of spring, as Beth, Jim, Ellie, Rebecca, Mike, Dell and I gathered with Gwynn’s children, grandchildren and her most recent love under a tattered awning to say goodbye to the pride of North Little Rock. Afterwards, we gathered at a church hall reception with her friends to share stories, browse fabulous photos (arranged on a timeline so you could follow the progression of her always-stylish glasses), and nibble on some really tasting roasted veggies and ham biscuits.

It’s always that contrast of the sad circumstances balanced against the joy and fellowship of being with people you have shared a bond with. If it’s wrong to say I had a lovely time today, then, well, I’m wrong.

And the positive vibes of friendship and family were coursing down I-85 (well, not the I-85 in Atlanta — hope you’re OK, Pattersons!) as Dot was slated to be taken from the hospital back to Carol Woods, where she will be treated with antibiotics for two weeks. Let’s all cheer for that medicine to do its work and get our Miss Coquette back in the game. That woman’s got azaleas to fawn over, people!

We, the Parkers, have been braving the rain to pack up a big black rented minivan dubbed Fast Tammy for a spring break trip up north. We’ll stay Saturday night with Daniel, Honor and Simon in Summit, spend a day/night in the Hudson River Valley (where our only aim is to eat at a restaurant I saw in a picture posted on Facebook by my former boss), and then continuing on to Burlington, Vermont, to see that species known as College Studentenous Gordonous Coates. It’s supposed to snow. And sure, everyone spends their spring break where it’s snowing but without skiing.

But speaking of Fast Tammy, I must share a Dell bon mot that Beth and Rebecca will have to suffer through a second time.

We named our car last week by randomly picking adjectives and nouns and putting together combinations like the Crunchy Spaceship, the Dangerous Dirigible, etc., and eventually settled on Fast Tammy. As we drove to the library the other day, Dell said Fast Tammy was a “he.” imagesI told him Tammy was a girl’s name and methods of transport tended to be female.  He said in his mind certain cars were girls and certain cars were boys. At that moment, this car (or one very like it) passed us in the opposite direction. Without missing a beat, he says, “And that one’s transgender.”

Sign of the times.

So, about those games. Dub went into the Sweet Sixteen with both of his teams still intact, yet remarkably, he exited the round with none. His two #4s did him proud, but alas, it was time to go. We also lost Beth, Dan, Elizabeth, Martie, Susan, and, oh yeah, me.

No one was more surprised than Mike P. to be remaining for the Elite 8. His #11 Musketeers of Xavier were still hanging on, but then again #11 is essentially the numerical representation of “one for all, all for one.”  Joining him in that round were Carl, Ellie, Gordon, The Greatest, Kiran, Rivers and Robert.

But Mike P. was led into a valiant defeat in that round, as was Ellie, Carl and The Greatest. And though it may be disrespectful to that generation, can I just get a hallelujah that the Wildcats wilted? Christian Laettner and Luke Maye can both live forever in the glory of knowing they dashed Kentucky hopes in the final seconds of a Game That Counts.

And that leaves Robert vs. Gordon in the first game tomorrow, a southerner vs. a northerner, a west coast team vs. an east coast team. And in the second game, Rivers and Kiran will have face off in the another bicoastal battle. We’ll be watching from New Jersey, and I hope you’ll be with loved ones where ever you are,

Cheers, all!

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Needed: self-frying potatoes

Question: How many many projects at a 4th and 5th grade science fair will involve using a potato as a battery?

Hypothesis: Three of approximately 45 projects will involve using a potato as a battery.

Experiment: Stuff hands in jacket pockets and slowly walk along 15 cafeteria tables worth of science projects, nodding respectfully and smiling indulgently at eager elementary students. Make mental note of electric potatoes.

Observation: Apparently a lot of kids are also interested in the electricity-producing properties of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, carrots, peaches and apples.

Conclusion: There are only so many voltage veggie and fizzy fruit projects one woman can handle in one night.

And so, yeah, that’s where I’ve been this evening and why (among other reasons) I’m writing this during half-time of the first third-round games.

But what was there to say about the first two rounds? Oh, I don’t know. How about, with the exception of UNC and Wisconsin, if any Rhyne-Patterson-Blyth had anything to do with any of the schools in the Big Dance, it was as good as the Kiss of Death going in to the Sweet Sixteen.

Arkansas. Duke. Maryland. Vermont. Virginia. Virginia Tech. Wake Forest. Done.Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. And done.

The ACC? Let’s just pretend that that didn’t happen. I mean, who woulda thunk that only one of the nine teams from the league would still be alive. Call it the Atlantic Choke Conference.

The first round was fairly free of upsets, but there were just enough to keep it interesting.  We lost only a few people, including our newly minted double-digit dude: Dell Parker. We also lost Elaine, Jim, the Northerners, Rebecca and Sarah.

Dub, Elizabeth, the Grandest Generation, Kiran, Mike B. and Rivers all coasted in to the second round with both teams intact.

Name Round 1
elizabeth Villanova 1-e UCLA 3-s
rivers Iowa State 5-mw UNC 1-s
dan Arizona 2-w
dub West Virginia 4-w Purdue 4-mw
kiran Oregon 3-mw St. Mary’s 7-w
gwynn/dot/lee Michigan State 9-mw Kentucky 2-s
carl Kansas 1-mw
susan Baylor 3-e
gordon South Carolina 7-e
libby Duke 2-e
caroline Florida State 3-w
ellie Florida 4-e
mike b USC 11-e Virginia 5-e
robert Gonzaga 1-w
claire Arkansas 8-s
karen Louisville 2-mw
megan Wisconsin 8-e
marty Butler 4-s
rhyne Wichita State 10-s
christine Notre Dame 5-w
simon, revi, cora, rowan Rhode Island 11-mw
beth Michigan 7-mw
dottie Northwestern 8-w
joe Cincinnati 6-s
daniel, honor, katie
mike Xavier 11-w
pierce Middle Tennessee 12-s

The second round was ruthless, though, when our first #1 seed was bounced by my Badgers. Number 2 seeds Duke and Louisville crashed and burned, as did No. 3 seed Florida State.

As a result, we lost Caroline, Christine, Claire, Dottie, Joe, Karen, Libby, Rhyne, the Tiny Generation, and Pierce.

Dub is dominating with both of his teams still alive and kicking. The other 14 folks still fighting are Beth, Carl, Dan, Elizabeth, Ellie, Gordon, the Greatest, Kiran, Marty, Megan, Mike P., Rivers, Robert and Susan

Name Round 2
elizabeth UCLA 3-s
rivers UNC 1-s
dan Arizona 2-w
dub West Virginia 4-w Purdue 4-mw
kiran Oregon 3-mw
gwynn/dot/lee Kentucky 2-s
carl Kansas 1-mw
susan Baylor 3-e
gordon South Carolina 7-e
ellie Florida 4-e
mike b
robert Gonzaga 1-w
megan Wisconsin 8-e
marty Butler 4-s
beth Michigan 7-mw
mike Xavier 11-w

For those keeping family tabs, that means there are 6 Pattersons, 5 Rhynes ,3 Blyths and the Greatest.

But at this point, speaking of the Greatest, I do have some sad news to share. You may not have known it, but Gwynn has been battling leukemia for the past several years. With regular chemo cocktails, and an occasional blood transfusion, she somehow maintained her energy and charm. Unfortunately, the meds had become less and less effective over the past few months. Now, the leukemia is not responding to any medication.

Gwynn is now in hospice care in a facility connected to a hospital in Richmond. Her sons and their wives are staying by her bedside and talking to her, even though she cannot communicate. I just got a message from her daughter-in-law saying that a music therapist came in and asked what kind of music Gwynn liked. They ended up having a Sound of Music concert there in her room.

She really enjoyed you all, and she had a lot of fun with this silly family tournament thing. In fact, she wrote me just last week to say she was happy to still be included in our nonsense and hoping that her last blood transfusion came from a basketball player.

We will keep you posted on her progress. Her son says that they are planning on a small graveside service, and a reception at a later date.

Hug each other extra tight tonight.

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Would you like to dance?

Greetings, my lovely family!

It is with alacrity that I cordially invite you to join me in a turn about the ballroom floor. A sojourn of serpentine steps in simple but sophisticated symmetry to the subtle but sultry strains of a string symphony under the steady skills of a seasoned supervisor. It is commonly known as the Big Dance, of course, but you you may call it the Hippest Hoops Hootenanny in the Whole Hemisphere!

I hope this note fines you all healthy and hail and free from the effects of the Nor’easter known as …



Here in Williamsburg, Stella brought a lot of wind and rain and much colder temperatures, but we dodged the snow that points north and west suffered. It was winter’s (hopefully) last gasp and I for one am eagerly awaiting warmer temperatures and sunnier days, also known as Mojito weather.

As in past years, the first games of the NCAA tournament coincide with Sunshine Week for me in my professional-in-name-only capacity. I celebrated by teaching a class on Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act at William and Mary and then coming home, taking  some cold medicine and sleeping for three hours. The cold brought me a cold, you see, which also meant that I couldn’t taste the donuts, apple fritters, scallops, steak, chocolate cake, Twinkie cake, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and a few other choice morsels ordered up by Dell for his double-digit birthday on March 13, also the day Robert and Christine celebrate their entries into this world. But by God I did try to taste all of the above. I tried.

The Cat Commissioners (Jinx in the East, Brook in the Midwest, River in the South, Julep in the West) have been as busy as Kellyanne Conway on a Sunday talk show after a Saturday morning Twitter storm from her boss coming up with this year’s picks for the tournament. They did some devisions doubling up to arrive at 32 participants, with each participant getting two teams. One group consists of the Littlest Generation: Simon, Revi, Cora and Rowan. They may be tiny, but we all know they are tough and not to be trifled with.

Another team consists of the Grandest Generation: the lovely ladies Dot, Gwynn and Lee. They, of course, have better things to do with their time than to read my rantings, but with their powerful picks, we will probably hear a lot more from them.

The final team is made up of what I like to call the Defectors. Northerners. Yankees, if you will. Daniel, Honor and Katie. They’re wonderful people, y’all, and we love them dearly, but bless their hearts, livin’ like they do north of the Mason Dixon line. Why, I declare, it’s enough to give me the vapors. Where are my smelling salts.

We’re international again this year, too, since Dottie is off gallivanting in Gaulle country. Oui, oui, mon ami, je m’appelle Dottie Lee.

And now, stateside, may I present this year’s picks for the Rhyne-Blyth-Patterson-Mostly-Annual-Am-I-The-Only-One-In-This-Country-Who-Hasn’t-Spoken-To-A-Russian-Ambassador NCAA Basketball Extravaganza!!

beth Kent State 14-s Michigan 7-mw
carl Kansas 1-mw Nevada 12-mw
caroline Florida State 3-w Winthrop 13-s
christine Troy 15-e Notre Dame 5-w
claire Vanderbilt 9-w Arkansas 8-s
dan Creighton 6-mw Arizona 2-w
daniel, honor, katie VCU 10-w New Mexico State 14-e
dell Minnesota 5-s Miami 8-mw
dottie Northwestern 8-w East Tennessee State 13-e
dub West Virginia 4-w Purdue 4-mw
elaine UNC-Wilmington 12-e Maryland 6-w
elizabeth Villanova 1-e UCLA 3-s
ellie Florida 4-e Princeton 12-w
gordon Dayton 7-s South Carolina 7-e
dot, gwynn, lee Michigan State 9-mw Kentucky 2-s
jim Iona 14-mw SMU 6-e
joe Cincinnati 6-s NC Central/UC Davis 16-mw
karen Louisville 2-mw South Dakota State 16-w
kiran Oregon 3-mw St. Mary’s 7-w
libby Duke 2-e Vermont 13-mw
martie Butler 4-s Jacksonville State 15-mw
megan Wisconsin 8-e Marquette 10-e
mike p Xavier 11-w Bucknell 13-mw
mike b Providence/USC 11-e Virginia 5-e
pierce Middle Tennessee 12-s North Dakota 15-w
rebecca Kansas State 11-s Tennessee Southern 16-s
rhyne Wichita State 10-s Seton Hall 9-s
rivers Iowa State 5-mw UNC 1-s
robert Gonzaga 1-w Northern Kentucky 15-s
sarah Florida Gulf Coast 14-w Mount St. Mary’s 16-e
simon, revi, cora, rowan Rhode Island 11-mw Virginia Tech 9-e
susan Oklahoma State 10-mw Baylor 3-e

First, and most obviously, what has Robert and family been mixing in their morning coffee because they are rocking the picks! Robert, Rivers and Elizabeth have three of the four #1 picks. This is fresh off Susan winning the whole tournament last year! She passed her Villanova gene on to Elizabeth this year, with Robert picking up Gonzaga and Rivers carrying the Tarheels to rep the ACC since his beloved Demon Deacons duffed it in the play-in game.

Carl holds the last #1 pick with Kansas. Daughter Sarah, however, was not so fortunate as she has one of the #16 AND a #14 pick, and nor was husband Joe, who also has a #16. Karen and Rebecca round out the bottom feeders (heh heh, Rebecca  … rounded … bottom … heh heh).

The best overall seed total goes to Elizabeth (4), followed closely by Rivers (6), with Dan and Dub (8) nipping at their heels. Sarah(30), Rebecca (27) and Pierce (27) are bringing up the rear (Rebecca … rear … heh heh — Hey! This isn’t shade, it’s a Rhyne family trait!).

This year we welcome back in to the tournament Mike P.’s favorite Hokies, and Gordon was so excited to be at University of Vermont this year that he persuaded his Catamounts (without a fine set o’ whiskers, that Cat amounts to nothing) to join the fray. Libby is the only one, however, who holds her own alma mater’s fate in her hands: she has the #2 seed Duke.

I am the Queen of Cheese with my two Wisconsin-based picks, the U and Marquette. Kiran’s got Ducks and Gaels, just to prove how whacked people in the West are. Dell has the snowbird duo of Minnesota and Miami. Martie’s sporting fighting dogs and chickens (Butler and Jacksonville State). Pierce is sporting Blue Raiders (Middle Tennessee) and Fighting Hawks (North Dakota). Fighting hawks? Because Hawks aren’t legit killing machines unless they’re also fighting?

Husband and wife will be tangling when Elaine’s UNC-Wilmington takes on Mike B.’s Virginia. Father and son will battle when Kiran’s St. Mary’s takes Revi and the Littlest Generation’s VCU.

The fight for Florida (Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast) will be taken on by Caroline and Sarah, while the Kentucky clash (Kentucky and Northern Kentucky) will be waged by the Grandest Generation and Robert.

As of this writing, two play-in games had not been decided, but I’ll be back with a roundup of rounds. For now, may your days be filled with basketballs bouncing your way.

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Take that, y’all!


Congratulations to Susan and her Villanova Wildcats: the 2016 Family Challenge (oh, and NCAA Championship) winner!

I suffered several blood-pressure and/or heart attack events during that game, and while I wish things had turned out differently, it was no doubt a game to remember.

Thanks for playing along, everyone. I can’t wait to see many of you in just two weeks for the Happy Occasion of Carl and Joe’s wedding!

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Game on!

Whoa there. Kinda fell off the face of the earth there. I must have been kidnapped by Vespa Solidarity and made to join forced scooter marches through rough Indonesian terrain, crowded city streets and picturesque waterfallpolisi-akan-menilang-vespa-berplat-nomor-modifikasi-20140810094006s.
I wish.

The Elite Eight was perilous for our #1 seed holders. First it was the Sufferers of Fools and Kansas getting crushed by a Susan’s Nova (not NOVA — Northern Virginia) Wildcats. Then it was Katie’s O-team losing to Elizabeth’s O-team. Then Rebecca’s Cuse (the only “cuse” I want to talk about are barbecues) dismissed Sarah so Cavalierly. The trend put a wobble in Robert’s Heels (I love saying that), but that #1 seed prevailed over its challenger, Notre Dame, and the Force is no longer with us.

There was much hoopla leading up to the Final Four. Many expected fireworks between two teams ranked #1 during the regular season, but Elizabeth and Oklahoma must have wished the game ended Sooner rather that later, because Susan absolutely beat her child senseless: a 44-point smackdown.

Robert was kinder to Rebecca when UNC beat Syracuse for the third time this season.

So here were are: fewer than three hours away from tip off (you know, tip off at 9:17, just to make sure we first-gen cousins understand perfectly that we are not the CBS/TBS/TNT/Tru target demographic) and wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall of the Patterson abode in Atlanta?

We’ve never had a husband/wife face off for the championship before, and this could quite possibly be the pilot for a new reality television series.

While I would love for Robert to show Susan who’s boss (Commissioner’s prerogative to root for ye olde alma mater), I gotta say that Villanova is looking gooooood. Will Susan be wearing the pants in the family come the final horn? Or will it be Robert be wearing the yoga pants?

Only time will tell.

Good luck out there!

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I forget about my troubles / when I’m riding on my Bubbles / in the morrrrning

Have you met Bubbles? Bubbles is Mike’s 50th birthday present to his ever-nagging, long-suffering, only wife. She’s a black Vespa that has made my daily trips to the Williamsburg post office much more enjoyable.

Since I’m now in the two-wheel club with Jim, I’ve been trying to emulate his many exploits. Remember when he navigated the autopistas of Central and South America, taking photos along the way and graciously sharing with us his observations, thoughts and tales?

Well, here’s my own travel blog chronicling a similar journey:

Going Postal: An Epic Journey to the Post Office
on North Boundary Street and Back.


Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday? I can see why you’d be fooled, but no. It’s really me! Starting out on the journey of a lifetime on Bubbles.


My first setback. The authorities ignored my reasonable request to remove all vehicles and red lights from my route. But I am undaunted. Nothing will keep me from the post office!


Well. Almost nothing. The William & Mary student is in stable condition. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases runs out Jan. 14, 2018.


Back on the road. I WILL prevail. I must be going at least 14 mph in this photo. Not everyone is as skilled as I am.


This stop light business is completely unacceptable. And why does this guy want to Kill Bergen?



Victory is mine! I want to thank all the little people who helped gazed adoringly on me as I faced multiple trials, battled obstacles, and stared down a terrifying case of chapped lips.

Oh, and congratulations to our Sweet Sixteen victors. Four ACC teams out of the remaining eight. The Coates family was wiped out when the seeds held to form and pushed Maryland, Gonzaga and Miami were all blown away.

The Survivors are still pretty representative of the family. The Force — the greatest generation — is still in, as are the second-to-youngest generation, with Elizabeth, Katie and Sarah. The first cousins are represented by Rebecca, Robert and Susan. And the Sufferers are hanging tough, too. Of the six individuals left, there are three Pattersons, two Blyths and one Rhyne.

Drink lots of caffeine tonight and tomorrow so you can stay up to watch the second games for each. Good luck!

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All the shingle ladies

Everyone who had a heart attack watching the first round of games, raise your hand. Me!!!

What was your favorite heart-attack moment? The Cincinnati basket at the buzzer that didn’t count? The half-court prayer that doomed Texas? How about Yale sending the Baylor Bears into hibernation? Or was it the simple fact that Michigan State went down in a blaze of vainglory to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee?

As you’ve likely already read, there were 13 upsets in the first round, which is shocking (not to be confused with The Shockers of Wichita State) in and of itself, but the impact on the family brackets was even more shocking. Those with low seed totals nonetheless found themselves with only 1 team left at the end of that round, while Daniel with his family high of 30 improbably remained.

Alas, nothing could save Mike B.’s, Christine’s or Karen’s sorry picks. Mike P. and Beth both fell victim to a bad seed and an upset.

Hanging in with one team were Carl, Caroline, Claire, the Sufferers of Fools, Daniel, Dottie, Dub, Elaine, Elizabeth, Ellie, Gordon, Jim, Katie, Libby, Megan, Pierce, Rebecca, Rhyne, Rivers, Robert, the Third Cousins and Susan.

And prancing and dancing into the 2nd round with both teams were Dell, the Force, last year’s champ Joe, Martie and Sarah.

But not for long….

First off, I have to say that the second round couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Prompted by my encyclopedic sister Rebecca to go to the doctor to check out the pains I was having along my face, neck and shoulder, I was diagnosed with shingles Saturday morning. (“All the Shingle Ladies, All the Shingle Ladies, If you liked it you shoulda put a rash on it.”) It was the perfect excuse to stay in bed ALL DAY Saturday and Sunday and watch lots and lots and lots of basketball.


Dell went down hard in the second round when his Providence Friars lost to the Good Guys and his Bad Guys (Kentucky) lost to Indiana (Not as Bad But Still Not Great Guys). Also felled like a tall pine tree was Carl, whose Stephen F. Austin blew a 12-point lead over Dub’s Aggies with 44 seconds left and then lost in double overtime. Timberrrrrr.

We also lost Caroline, Clarie, Daniel, Elaine, Libby, Pierce, the 3rd Cousins and moi.

But 16 of us remain (none with both teams, that is), and six ACC teams do, too. I’m hoping that we can turn the Final Four into the ACC tournament semifinals. Good luck to the Sufferers, the Force, Dottie, Dub, Elizabeth, Ellie, Gordon, Jim, Katie, Martie, Rebecca, Rhyne, Rivers, Robert, Sarah and Susan.

Note the entire Robert Patterson family is still in, as well as a sister, mother and brother-in-law. But tonight he will battle said sister, while his mother tangles with his son and his daughter faces off with his brother-in law. We could write a soap opera!

The Sufferers will face another married-in when Kansas plays Jim’s Terps (anyone notice that the Maryland Terrapins (turtles) played the South Dakota State Jack Rabbits (hares)?). Gordon will face his Aunt Rebecca. And yes, Ellie, the HURRICANES, are still playing.

I’ll try to get back to everyone before the Saturday games. Hoop it up, chilluns!


Team 1


Team 2


Sufferers of Fools



The Force

Notre Dame



Iowa St.



Texas A&M







































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