1. Being back in Kellogg, having a television, being in nearly daily contact with Byrdman and Stu, watching the Zag games with Christy and Everett, and going up to Kellogg High School to watch games has rekindled my deep enjoyment of basketball in a way I haven't experienced for many years. Not only has it been fun to watch a lot of live college basketball, it's been really fun to go online and look at rosters and tournament programs featuring teams at both the college and the high school level who played when I was in school at Kellogg and at NIC and Whitworth.
Watching these games also saddens me at some point in each contest. When we lived in Maryland, I was, back in 2015, starting to become friends with the Deke's cousin Sally's husband, Ted Ayotte. He passed away suddenly in late August of 2015 of a heart attack in his home. I got to watch the Final Four of the NCAA tournament at Sally and Ted's house in 2015 and, similar to what I'm experiencing right now, felt a rejuvenation of my love for basketball, largely because Ted was a former high school and college player and I loved talking about basketball with him. And about golf. Talking with him was very much like talking with my Silver Valley friends and I used to imagine him joining me and my other Hall of Fame of Great Guys friends for one of our get togethers where he would have fit right in with stories about basketball, golf, and and policing. I think he would have soon joined in with giving my friends the needle, too.
My last text exchange with Ted was when he and Sally were serving as volunteers at the Barclay's golf tournament at the Plainfield Country Club not far from their home in Metuchen, NJ. Ted was stoked about seeing Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson. It was just the kind of text message exchange I'd love to be having with him now about the current woes of Indiana basketball ("Is Sally holding up okay?"
"Wow! They've got a tough game today with Michigan State"), my impressions of Gonzaga, and the many great games that have been played these past couple of months. We had some good text exchanges about beer, too!
So I imagine these conversations with Ted. I grieve for Sally. I have great conversations with Byrdman and Stu and Don. I watch nearly every Zag game with Christy and Everett.
I'm back in.
I was gone too long.
It's more than a game.
2. These thoughts and feelings about Ted rose up in me early this evening as I watched the second half of Wisconsin's win at home over Maryland, 69-61. At Ted and Sally's Final Four party to watch the semi-finals, Wisconsin shocked the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, 71-64. Seeing Wisconsin play this evening brought back memories I treasure, not only of Wisconsin's stunning victory, but of being a part of Ted and Sally's annual party to watch the Saturday semi-final games of the Final Four. I wanted to text Ted and share some memories and highlights of that 2015 game and possibly swap some impressions of what a fine team Wisconsin has again and how young and exciting Maryland's team is.
3. I didn't watch the first half of the Badgers and the Terps because Christy, Everett, and I went out to Cataldo together and ate dinner at the Timbers Roadhouse. Not too long ago, a local family remodeled the former Mission Inn and reopened it as the Timber Roadhouse and we decided to give it a try. The Timbers Roadhouse is similar to other Silver Valley restaurants. Like the Hilltop, the Timber Roadhouse benefited from a handsome remodel. Their menu features a variety of hamburgers and other sandwiches, like French dip and Reuben. They offer about a half a dozen salads. Tonight they had a fish special. Everett ordered a prawns and halibut plate. I ordered a bowl of clam chowder with a side salad. Christy had a delicious cheeseburger with hand cut fries. We were all satisfied with our food and the service. We were happy to see that the Timbers Roadhouse was doing a good business. We had a very enjoyable time together with lots to talk about.