Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sports Talk: 2013 Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 30, 2013.
I won’t claim to be very knowledgeable about predicting the outcome on the big game on Sunday, but I will say I could have predicted the array of topics my Feedback For Rita Peat question would bring in.
We all know the hype of the Super Bowl has less to do with the two teams than it does the glitz and glamor (and $$$DOLLARS$$$) put into the media and entertainment that surrounds it.  It only makes sense that many, many of us tune in for the fun rather than the competition.
So what are area super bowl fans looking forward to this Sunday and what are the predictions?
Some look forward to the fun…
“Commercials!” –Lori Carmicle
“(I’m watching) because its the last time to watch football for months.” –Rachel Crabtree
“I don’t really care about the game so much, but I’m looking forward to seeing friends, watching the commercials and Destiny’s Child at halftime.”  Miranda Townsend
“I'll be wearing my black and gold and watching all the crazy fans in our streets for the weekend. Welcome to N'Awlins, Y'all.” –Kristi (Dixon) Hornsby
Then it seems the crowd/fan/reader favorite is the Ravens!
“The Ravens winning!!!!!!” – Sheri Heimbrock Ingram
“49ers win, +10. The Ravens have been just okay against the run the last few games, and that's the 49ers strength (and they have been on fire). The 49ers run defense is money, and the younger Ray Lewis (Patrick Willis) is gonna have a big game. I think (Joe) Flacco will get rushed and flustered a lot, causing a few interceptions to an above average secondary. Defense will prevail. The ‘Niners are younger and faster on both sides of the ball, and with their strong run game they won't have to rely on freshman Colin (Kaepernick) too much.” –Jash Jaso
“My thought is, if Kaepernick wants to play next season, he needs to run away from the area that Ray Lewis is standing in. I think this game is gonna be a good one. A lot of heart on both sides of the field and a lot of talent to go with it. Ray Lewis is a leader and can get his team going and the Ravens are going to do everything they can to send Ray home with a ring as payback for 17 years(?) of dedication. 49'ers have came a long way this year, and well, I really have nothing to say about them. I honestly forgot they had a team until this year.” – John Casey
“Ray Lewis will defeat the 49ers….it is his destiny!” – Nic Dixon
Predicting 49ers because QB has most tatts. Watching mostly for the ads.” – Hunt Helm
“I think the Ravens got it this year because they actually have a pretty decent offense and the defense is stepping up like always.” –Aaron Bertram
“I'm predicting the 49'ers in a big way. By 20, I bet.” – Eric Marr
“I can't wait to see Ray Lewis's last game and how emotional he will be. I also can't wait to see the sheer physicality that both teams play with. Should be a great game with the Ravens winning 27-21.” –Daniel Rigney
And easily my favorite response to the question was this:
“I think Doritos will take it again, despite a strong showing from Budweiser.“ – Scott Takacs
Have fun and be safe on Sunday!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chinese CRew Year: The Year of the Snake

It was another relaxing and wonderful weekend up north at the beloved Love Shack! It was our last Chinese New Year celebration at the Love Shack, which is of course bittersweet. We all have excellent, fun memories at the Gress house in West Mansfield, (including mine & Mingus's epic road trip that started it all for us), but the departure from the Love Shack will also mean we get the Gress's back in Kentucky--Louisville to be exact--and we are all stoked about that news.

Ten of us traveled from Kentucky to make a crew of 12 for the weekend. While we had layers of ice in central KY, no snow to be seen, but luckily it was coming down in Ohio. No blizzard repeat of 35 years ago (thank goodness!) but enough for my Mingus to play from the time we arrived on Friday night (MIDNIGHT!) until 2am! The next day, after a delicious brunch at the Amish restaurant in Plain City, Der Dutchman, we got some disc sleds and Gress took us on 4-wheeler rides through the snow. We may have all come out with some bangs and bruises but all totally worth it.

At least they still get snow in Ohio! Had lots of fun playing outside!
Four Wheeler Rides = Excellent idea!
Except $5 disc sleds don't last long... we destroyed three!
Mingus getting me all safety strapped in for my turn!
We of course did the traditional Chinese feast, which this year's menu included: Orange Chicken, vegetable spring rolls, miso soup, and vegetable fried rice. We of course made an elaborate cupcake display in honor of the Year of the Snake and to celebrate BenDeisel's birthday. 

Host Sara-Boo working on delicious Orange Chicken for our Chinese feast!
The fumes were SO strong--which was great for the flavor
of dinner itself, but bad for the eyes. Miche improvised well!

Double Headed Wang for the Year of the Snake!
While the ladies took care of most of dinner prep, the men had an epic couch burning. The old yellow couch, originally belonging to Gress's grandmother, traveled with him from place to place through our party years in Louisville and we finally bid it farewell (as it's not something the two of them want to tote back to Kentucky in their move.) After the sharing of fond memories around the couch, the men took it outside for a giant bonfire.
Reminiscing Apartment and 1040 memories from the epic yellow couch that
lived through it all... The couch went out with a bang!
A great way to spend our last Chinese New Year at the Love Shack!

Fantastic group of friends! We are so blessed!
Chinese New Year 2012: Puff The Magic New Year.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A proud alum moment...

It seems to be on a fairly regular basis that I stop and think about how much I love (and MISS!) my alma matar Bellarmine University. 

I LOVE the Bellarmine Magazine that arrives in our mailbox on a quarterly basis. 
I LOVE following Knights Nation even though I no longer live in Louisville.
I LOVE following the communication department, the alumni association and the university on Facebook and fee like I'm still a part of it.
I LOVE talking to my family and friends who all "get" why BU is so great.
...and I  LOVE getting mail where I see the 2001 Newburg Road return address!

Regardless of what it looks like, I always check my Bellarmine mail. 

Recently, I've gotten some very exciting mail from them and the contents of the mailings are not only what's exciting to me. You see, the nerd in me gets excited about other things. As my career has focused more and more on marketing in the past couple of years, my marketing self is as excited about the awesomely, cool packaging my clever BU friends have been using to grab my attention. (Since they don't realize I pay attention simply by seeing the return address label!) 

Who wouldn't pay attention to a giant metallic silver package like this?!

 What's better is they didn't let me down! The contents lived up to the packaging! My lovely new BU Harry-Potter-esque scarf will, without a doubt, be put to good use. A girl can never get enough scarves!

I should also mention the sweet 'mix tape'...errr, CD, that I received just after Christmas. BU original recordings. While music wasn't my major and I've never played an instrument, I'm quite the lover of instrumental music (with movie/TV scores being my particular favorite)
So in addition to saying THANKS for the cool BU loot, I want to say kudos to those clever marketers! You're the kind of people we steal ideas from for our own marketing! :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sports Talk: Student Fans are the Best Fans

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 23, 2013.
Casey County sporting events may not draw the massive crowds of some high schools in the Bluegrass State, but I have thoroughly enjoyed some of the recent home basketball games, and not only for the games themselves, but the student body in general as well.
I know I didn’t graduate a really long time ago, but there are already distinct differences in the high school experience of today as compared to what I remember it to be and technology is one of the biggest proponents of the changes.
Cell phones were just on the rise when I was in high school. Most of us had them but texting was a seldom used feature—if you even had the ability to do so. A smartphone was non-existent, as was Facebook and social media was hardly a term.
With these things a regular part of life for high schoolers today, students are so much more connected than we used to be; constantly connected. Having a constant connection to what your friends are doing and where they are going to be in a given moment means the need to center your social life around events and activities is less pertinent.
Knowing this, I love seeing students fill up the pep section of the bleachers on game nights, knowing this is still where the heart of the high school experience exists. I have always been a fan of theme dressing. It adds a new level of fun and involvement from fans, so seeing everything from the neon wear to the country/hillbilly dress from the students is great fun.
The cheerleaders are as loud and powerful as ever from the stage and then on the floor in no time during any pause in play to pump up the crowd.
I have to admit that I probably admire Rowdy more than most do. The guy goes and goes and goes all through the game, cutting up and interacting with everyone from the ball players and coaches to kids and parents.
The dance team varies the routines regularly and using Rowdy is a great bonus of fun. I love their encouragement, at times, of the crowd to join them on the floor for Cotton Eye Joe and such.  
Then there is the pep band. Sure, hit music over the sound system is always fun tfor dancing around with your friends in the bleachers, but there is something about hearing the pep band in the gymnasium. That makes it a sporting event. I am always thrilled to have them present.
All of these elements—cheerleaders, dance team, Rowdy Rebel, the fans and the band members—they make these sporting events what they should be.  And note that all of these are students themselves.
The athletes play because they love their sport, but when the big-timers take time to “thank the fans,” I truly think they mean it. A true athlete is always going to be a competitor and play hard, but fans have a way of unlocking a special type of adrenaline in an athlete.
I commend the Casey County student body for their involvement in the entities that help make a successful sports program. It is about the athletes, but those athletes—your friends—do need you there and love your enthusiasm. (And so does a Rebel alum like me!)
There may be plenty of options today for how you can spend your time with friends; maybe going to a game isn’t the only way you can find them and make plans and communicate. But relish your opportunity to be the heart and soul of Casey County sports.
Don’t forget: Feedback for Rita Peat:
We have our Super Bowl teams! Or, should I say, the Harbaugh Bowl? The San Francisco 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens. Tell me your game predictions!  (Don’t care about the teams but plan to watch? Which commercial are you looking forward to? Or the halftime show??)
Send your responses to: or Twitter @RitaPeata.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A love note of sorts

It was well after dark on a Saturday night. Jon and I had just finished watching a Redbox movie. It was late, but not for a Saturday. We could have put on another movie, found something on TV, or, as we do many week nights, get our respective books and read for awhile. Instead, though, being that it was a rather warm January night, we decided to take a walk.

I refilled my wine glass and out we went. The Jackamo dog came along as usual and just after crossing the Grammo Bridge we heard a loud yowl. Jon flipped on the flashlight (walking with it off, he has taught me, is a much better way to enjoy a night walk), and the gray and white Randy cat was trotting up behind us asking us to wait for him. So we did.
It was a simple walk down Blue Bank Lane to Greystone and back. It was far too cloudy to see the stars--although a few were peeking through by the end of the walk. The rushing streams and creeks added a level of serenity to the night’s air. The dark of night has its own way of allowing you to see more--so much not visible by the light of day.

I sipped on my wine, holding my love’s hand, walking in the moonlight and talking of our Clan Valley dreams. 

I have a very special life. Most of what makes it so special is my husband.

I think it’s clear that I love my Mingus in the fact that I married him, but I have never spelled out many of the reasons that make him so dear to me..and why I have come to calling him “My Wonderful.”

Perhaps we do not have a dream house of our own (and even when we do build, it may not be ALL that we have dreamed up in our sketches), but right now we have a spacey, homey loft apartment--big enough to host friends and family to gather. Even better is that we are only a trip down the stairs to visit our dear Grammo. Not only does my Mingus go above and beyond to help Grammo with day-to-day needs (like filling her humidifier, emptying compost, burning trash, and putting her to bed), but there are some weekend mornings when he wakes before me and I find him downstairs. Not only does he help Grammo get rolling into her Saturday, but after sitting her down for breakfast, he stays and visits. I find the two of them down there laughing and carrying on. The same has happened on evenings when I get out of the shower and I find him having left the TV and wandered down for a Grammo visit instead. He does not just care for Grammo because “it’s the right thing to do,” but he thoroughly enjoys her and all her Grammo ways. 

Maybe a dream house of our own one day, but I’m so blessed to be living here now to not only get extra time for myself with Grammo, but that Jon is getting the chance to know Grammo in the special way I know and love her.

Perhaps I made my Mingus move away from his family so that I could be close to mine, but lucky for me he loves the life we are pursuing together. He loves Clan Valley as much as I do. He loves the countless possibilities it holds for him and our future together. From the care of bunnies, bees and the garden, to simply walking the game trails and knobs, he finds more and more to love about Clan Valley on a daily basis. (He also finds more and more potential in projects he would love to take on!) He loves each and every one of of my family members. If anything he wishes (like me) he could get more of them down to the Valley more often to enjoy this treasure God gave our family. He loves the open arms the Clan so readily gives to all and any, and the strength and importance of our faith. 

Perhaps we do not live very close to... well, anything... (friends, sporting events, bars, theaters, nice restaurants), but it leaves us to each other. Our schedules revolve highly around one another’s and we find pleasure in the simple ways we spend our time together. It leaves me with no doubt of his love for me when he is perfectly content to be here, stuck with me, re-watching the same movies together, tagging along to sporting events I’m covering for the paper, and cooking dinner together. 

Perhaps we could be living in Louisville, closer to lots of friends, with lots of things to do (and often) and have numerous options for career paths, but what I love most about My Wonderful is that we are both in love with the treasure trove of possibilities that Clan Valley holds for our secluded life and we are both okay with accepting the simplicity that must come with life here.

We finished our walk sitting in the beautiful, not nearly utilized enough, Blue Bank gazebo. Yes, perhaps things could be very different, but I count my blessings that they are not. I have no doubt God has curve balls ahead for the two of us, and I wouldn’t expect anything less, but in the quiet, still, peace that winter brings, I thank God I am exactly where I am: surrounded by love. 

My prayer is that we, and all of our family and friends, can continue pursuing God’s plan for us--not the plan for ourselves--so that I can always be this happy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Field to Fork on the Blue Bank Farm

It's the dead of winter and Mingus and I are still eating fresh kale from our wonderful garden.

While it may not look quite as magnificent in January as it does in from May through August but its products are just as delightful--if not more delightful due to their rarity alone! Fresh greens in the winter! Who'd have thunk it!

It's also amazing that just two years ago we looked at that field of dead weeds that had not been gardened in 10 or so years and said, "Let's bring this to life again." 

And so we did and in a matter of months we were blessed with a bountiful harvest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sports Talk: I’m recruiting YOU for sports commentary

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 16, 2013.
I was already scolded by my mother for not keeping my word and I cannot be sure how many of you other faithful readers of my column might have shaken a finger at me for not following through last week and explaining my second new year’s resolution as promised… (I just got a little excited about the Sugar Bowl is all…!)
So here goes…
Reading comments on Facebook, hearing friends, coworkers, family, and even complete strangers talk sports often makes me feel as though I know nothing about the sports world. But let’s be honest: it’s a big world. It’s quite a job to keep up with all of it… In fact there is a name for that: ESPN, and even they need more than one channel (ESPN2, ESPNU…) and they still can’t cover it all.
I want to be inclusive and accurate in more of the coverage and insights included in this column and I’m recruiting your help to do it.
I love reader feedback and involvement. I know Casey County is full of sports-lovers and some more passionate than I about certain sports, events, players and coaches. I am going to use one of my columns a month to include your thoughts, commentary, predictions and feedback on events in the sports world.
This is how it will work:
1 – Look for a question posed at the end of my column. I will try to typically leave the question open for response for at least two weeks. Having said that, I will add that I will also try to include some timely feedback so the window for response may not always be too long.
2 – I’ll take responses primarily two ways:
Twitter: @ritapeata
***This blog counts also...feel free to comment! :)
3 – I’ll compile some of the top responses for print and make you an official sports commentator.
So for the first question…
While I did more actively participate in my husband’s fantasy football team this year, I still cannot claim to be an avid NFL follower and everyone (non-sports fans included) knows the Super Bowl is just around the corner.
I want to hear your predictions! We won’t know the match up until after this weekend, but when we do, tell me your predicted score and which player(s) will make it happen.
No need to be shy when the time comes. Believe me, Facebook and the Internet in general make it quite clear how opinionated we all are when it comes to sports we follow, so have a little fun with it and share it on a larger scale.
Feedback for Rita “Peat”: What is your score prediction for the 2013 Super Bowl and who will the pivotal players be? Give a few details…
Email: or Twitter: @RitaPeata

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sports Talk: Sugar Rush - Go Cards!

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 9, 2013. 
I know I am somewhat of a rare breed with my love of Kentucky sports teams as a whole (ie, I like both UK and UofL.), but let me just say, for those of us who can take joy and pride in both, it’s been a pretty nice year: a basketball championship last March and then a completely unexpected Sugar Bowl title last week.
I have probably mentioned before that I follow college football a little more than college basketball. This probably springs from being raised in a Buckeye influenced environment. I love the idea of good football in our state though.
We’ve seen flashes of it in the past, but never a long-standing strong program that builds a name for itself. You know… the kind where even if you have a few “bad seasons” you still have winning records and win some big games. The same way we view Wildcat basketball. Despite going well over a decade without a national title and having some troubling years, Kentucky was never removed from the “basketball powerhouse” list in this nation.
I want a football team that we can say that about in our state.
As you may have picked up from my article a few weeks back about Charlie Strong’s decision to stay at U of L, I am excited about the potential of the Cards building a strong program. Excitement aside, though, reality told me Florida was going to take the bowl title.
So when I came into watching the game part way into the first half and the Cards were up 14-0, I had to make sure I was seeing the screen right.
The North Caroline game being the only U of L game I attended this season, I could not help but not hold my breath even when we had a the 14-point lead at half time. (The Cardinals led 36-7 at halftime of the Sept. 15 UNC game only to allow North Carolina to make a comeback  of 27 points in the second half. The Cardinals only scored three points and won by five.)
But as we all know, the favored Gators fell and Cardinal fans celebrated not just a bowl title, but a new level of pride for their school and state in accomplishing what very few thought possible.
Being a Cards fan who does not follow the team as avidly as my coworkers and many others, on might ask why I am still so excited about Louisville’s win.  
It’s more than just the fact it was a bowl game. We all know that those games are chosen and not earned in the sense of a playoff system. It has more to do with the fact the odds were completely in Florida’s favor and the fact Florida is one of those football powerhouse teams. They are that football team expected by their fans, athletes, alums and administrators to have a dominant program year after year. They are part of what make the SEC, the SEC.
Naysayers and Cardinal haters can disagree because that’s the beauty of sports rivalry, but as for me, I’m hopeful that this is only the beginning of something big building in the Bluegrass.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sports Talk: Top Casey County Stories of 2012

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 2, 2013. 
I love lists and I love Top 10’s; however, I hate making decisions.
I should have had the foresight of writing a year-in-review article and taken notes throughout 2012 rather than trying to flip through old Word documents to make sure I wasn’t leaving anything out.
Nevertheless, I’ve made a list and I hope no one takes offense to the order—as these were all memorable and proud moments for Casey Countians. (You’ll note I couldn’t cut the list down and it is a Top 15 instead of 10.) If I left something out, forgive me…
15 – The first Cabin Fever River Run was held in late March, putting a 5K event on Casey County’s calendar nearly ever quarter.
14 – Casey County continues to move toward a developed soccer program as the Middle School had its debut season last spring as the youth program continues to thrive.
13 – The Casey County baseball and softball teams hosted the district tournament last spring after improvements were put into the facilities during the off season. In his debut season, head baseball coach Greg Hammond earned a $1,000 grant for new equipment in addition to the facility upgrades already in place.
12 - Both the boys basketball team and the VolleyRebs earned their respective 47th district runner-up titles and advanced to the regional tournament.
11 –Rebel tennis player Ryan Martin advanced to the state tournament after making it to the regional semifinals. The team nearly continued their undefeated streak, which began in 2008 under head coach Phil Williams. Ironically, the inevitable loss came at the hand of Williams’ son and former Rebel tennis star, Landon Williams, who now coaches for Marion County.
10  - Perhaps not an official school record, but VolleyRebel Tyra Sengkhamyong had a new team record with 17 consecutive good serves against Somerset this past fall.
9 – Former Casey County runner Jenna Lee is leaving her mark on the collegiate level. She helped the Bellarmine Unviersity Knights’ track and field women achieve their first conference championship title in school history last spring. This fall she was one of the seven girls who made up the women’s cross country team which qualified for the NCAA Division 2 national meet for the first time in school history.
8 -  Sophomore Blake Durham advanced to the state cross country meet as an individual for the first time. Durham ran as Casey’s only high school athlete through the entire season, giving him little practice competition.
7 - The eighth grade middle school football competed in the state playoffs advancing to the regional finals. Team members earned numerous area recognition awards, including Breece Hayes and Collin Miller being two of the 35 players selected to play for the Team Kentucky national team.
6 – Despite the unexpected early end to Megan Pittman’s senior season last winter, the Lady Rebels went on to win the 47th District tournament and then claim the runner-up title in the 12th Region; a feat many would have expected to be unattainable after the loss of Pittman so late in the season.
5 – Casey County cheerleaders competed on the national level along with over 300 teams. The squad had a top 10 finish in their division at the Universal Cheer Association competition in Orlando, Fl.
4 –  Shelby Stringer was named Kentucky’s 2A state pole vault runner-up after clearing 8’6”. Teammate Nicole Nagy was right there with her finishing in a 3-way tie for sixth place.
3 – It was a record setting season for the Lady Rebel tennis team. The team claimed the 12th Region runner-up title for the first time in school history, led by Tylyn Leigh who was the regional singles champion. Leigh won 16 straight matches having an undefeated record with the exception of the state tournament. Additionally, two doubles teams qualified for state: Allie Tinsley and Haley Owens; Sara Coffman and Chelsey Lynn.
2 – Head Lady Rebel Coach Randy Salyers earned his 300th victory in January. It came in a bittersweet win, as the same game saw the exit of 2012 graduate Pittman. Salyers, coaching since the mid 90s, has seen numerous district championships, regional championship games and even a trip to the Kentucky Sweet 16.
 1 – Alex Bolin destroyed his own yardage records for Casey County High School while also setting brand new ones. He is the first Rebel to surpass 2,000 yards in a season, rushing 2,028 this fall, and ends his career with over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
As for new year’s resolutions… Well, my first is to keep better notes of top headlines and accomplishments in one place for 2013. My second resolution… I’ll tell you about that next week.