Our fair city of Washington IL is a few days out from where I last left you. (See earlier post here). The news and facebook are constant reminders of the devastation, reports of looting have started coming in. For the last day and a half we had rain and now the forecast is for bitter cold, a reminder of course, that we are facing winter here in the Midwest. I’ve never been a fan of winter or the cold, but this just makes it all the more depressing. When I walk away from all of that, I forget the events of the past few days, as if they are the haze of a dream. A blessing and a curse I suppose, as when I return to the media or facebook and my heart is pierced all over again. Every day we find ourselves referring to life as BT (Before the Tornado) and AT (After the Tornado) more and more. I don’t suppose that is something that will change…ever.
But I try daily to help those I can help and good and the inspirational things are happening all around us. I am choosing daily to recognize the small blessings and be grateful for them. For instance we no longer have to boil our water. That’s a big deal for a water drinker like me. I hate that bottled stuff. Also I heard a train come through for the first time since the tornado came through. The tracks are open again. I’m so thankful to be able to experience these everyday things and pray for the day when everyone in town can do the same.
On a larger scale, we are experiencing an incredible outpouring of love and support from the surrounding communities and all over the country. Today people everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE are sporting our school colors, orange and black, as a show of support to our community. Seeing pictures of groups and individuals wearing their orange and black clothes and creating heart shapes with their hands moves me to tears every time. Just to know that people out there are supporting us is…well, I just don’t have words for how it makes us feel.
We’ve had people come from all over the country to feed those who are working or are displaced, or to restore our electricity and phone and support our police and fire departments. We’ve been overwhelmed with coats and clothing and the like. Before the rains came the call was put out for totes and tarps and people responded in an instant!
Our kids have returned to school. They are on an altered schedule, starting later in the day, but at least 70% of the student population showed up yesterday, their first day back AT (after Tornado). It was a huge step along the road to healing. It was very good for them to get together and see each other and cry and hug and talk and heal.
As I mentioned before, our boys of autumn are traveling to Springfield IL Saturday for the State Football Semi-Finals. This team is an incredible group of young men. Many without homes now and on Monday, with coach in the lead, they were out there helping each other and the community out by helping people retrieve what they could. When they were told that the team they had defeated the day before the tornado and ISU had arranged for them to get back on the field and practice, they expressed an uneasiness with the idea of going to play a game while their community cleaned up. They wanted to stay and work. Some were worried out community would be angry with them. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Not only is our community rallying around them, but communities all around us, our so-called rivals, are rallying around them. During their 2 days of practice at ISU they were fed breakfast lunch and dinner by Bloomington/Normal football teams. The team we will play on Saturday, Sacred Heart-Griffin Cyclones (yes, Cyclones) has arranged for SIX fan busses to carry fans without transportation down to the game. They are feeding our fans and our players will receive their traditional PB&J on wheat bread before the game. The team will also be sent home with box lunches for the ride home. They are donating water and their 50/50 will go to our relief funds too. Neighboring teams are planning on sending buses of their fans down to cheer us on. The cheer of GO PANTHERS will be heard from far and wide as the game will be televised all over the state AND will be streamed live on IHSA.tv
No, the community is not upset with them for playing, WE are bolstered and we will welcome the distraction. For a couple of hours we will not be Washington Illinois the town that was destroyed by an F4 tornado, but Washington Illinois, the town with an amazing football team. And that is just what they are, talented. I wonder if these young men will ever completely understand what this break from reality will really mean to so many. Win or lose, and let’s face it no matter the outcome of the game there is no lose, I think a renewed energy will come of it. I just hope the overwhelming amount of love and support is not wearing them down.
Come game time I will be one of the many parked in front of my TV set watching. I’ll have my lucky Caramel Appletini in hand CHEERING them on to victory! I’ve included a recipe at the end of this post if anyone should wish to join me! Of course I’ve planned a complete menu for the big event too: Chili made by the boy, Chex Mix, Chicken Wings and maybe some potato skins, just the usual football fare. I’m hoping to have some friends join us to cheer wildly and just escape for a couple of hours.
Another small blessing in all of this was that I had taken time to plan a menu and shop for ingredients BT. Though I never got them posted here, I had a complete menu plan and that not only allowed me to feed extra mouths when it was called for, but it allowed us to slip into a routine, if only at meal time and I got a great deal of comfort in that.
So, in a step toward the new normal, I have planned my menus for the coming week. Here’s what’s on Momma T’s Table for the week of 11/24/13. But first that Appletini recipe I promised you!
First an explanation of how this tradition came about. It was last year during the play offs I think. The Hubs and I went to the C-Note Pub after dropping the kids off for the game. We were playing Metamora, a tough team and our town rival. I ordered a Carmel Appletini and settled in for what I knew would be a tough game and what do you know? WE WON! It became my “lucky drink” for every game after that! And hey, we’re undefeated this year!
OK, so it’s probably due to our kick-ass team and a great coaching staff and a caring community, but as they say, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” So for the superstitious, here’s what you do:
1 Jigger and a splash of Carmel Apple Vodka
1 Jigger and a pony of Apple Pucker Schnapps
1 pony of Butterscotch Schnapps
Measure all into a shaker with crushed ice. Shake for a full minute and pour into a martini glass drizzled with cold carmel ice cream topping and CHEER for the Panthers!
Now, here’s what’s on Momma T’s Table the week of 11/24/13:
Sunday – Family Funday Sunday: We’re planning on brunch and a birthday celebration for our daughter-in-law and then doing a very carefully planned Random Act of Kindness!
Saturday – French Toast
Monday – Leftover Chili and a PB sandwich
Tuesday – Leftover Pasta and Warm Apple Sauce
Wednesday – Hamburgers, Chips and Veggies
Thursday – Are you kidding? Light snacking so we don’t spoil our dinner!
Friday – Turkey Sandwiches
Saturday – French Onion Roast Beef Sandwiches
Sunday – Pizza and Movie night
Monday – Spaghetti Bread and Salad
Tuesday – Country-fried Steak Fingers, Mashed Potatoes and Corn
Wednesday – Boiled Ham, Potatoes and Green Beans
Thursday – Happy Thanksgiving! We’re preparing the dressing and the turkey!
Friday – Honey Lime Turkey Enchiladas
Saturday – Chinese Carry-out and movies
I hope that where ever you are you are safe and warm and you have much to give thanks for. I know in these parts we are thankful for so very much.
Update: Our boys did not win the semi-final game, but they played their hearts out in a very emotional game. They were simply out matched by Sacred Heart-Griffin in a game well played. After the game, the two teams met in the center and prayed together. SHG’s coach told our team that they would go and win the State Championship for us; and they did just that. Sacred Heart-Griffin won 34-24 over Lombard Montini for the State Championship. Sincerest congratulations to a great team. Next year watch for the Washington Panthers to show them all how it’s done.