Last week marked the release of my husband’s newest book that he co-wrote with Armen Keteyian. I had read an advance copy so I posted this review on Amazon.
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football is sure to raise our collective eyebrows. While this book is definitely a must read for college football fans, it is sure to grip even the most apathetic of sports fans. But this sports book isn't all fun and games. Instead, it takes a hard look behind the scene to widen our football lens. The authors cover seat-squirming topics with unprecedented research into issues like the use of college co-eds (or Hostesses) to lure high school recruits to big-time programs, or female co-eds using their physical assets to reward the student-athletes they tutor. The ugly story of a rape case is followed by a good story of faith and second chances. Finally, The System addresses the elephant in the locker room: money. Is college football all about money? The money it takes to build multi-million dollar football stadiums and facilities? The millions it takes to hire big-time football coaches? The millions most college football programs lose every year? Meanwhile, college tuitions rise to help cover athletic department budgets, student-athletes receive injuries to last a lifetime, and the NCAA gets their knickers in a twist over dollars received by student-athletes while these players endure boot camp-like experiences in the name of conditioning while receiving zero pay. Perhaps The System will leave you scratching your head: almost everyone involved in the game of college football has a paycheck--except the guys with the numbers on their jerseys receiving concussion-causing hits. The System includes stories of players who make it Pro, but it also makes clear that most college football players will never play on Sundays. The System is a well-written, painstakingly detailed book for both the sports fan and the indifferent onlooker as its research illuminates the good, the bad and the ugly of the religion America calls college football.
Another book reviewer on Amazon read my review and posted this comment: Wow. You are a great writer! You surely could make money at writing somewhere! If not, send this review to a newspaper and surely they will see the light and have you review books on a permanent basis. This was an awesome read in itself.
Well, finding time to write gets a little tricky around here. With Jeff traveling the country to promote The System, I’m holding down the fort at home. My 17-year-old is a sophomore in college and the three younger children do their academics at home with me. I am a fulltime teacher, editor, and college counselor. One particular day I dropped everything and spent three hours at the piano helping my son prepare for his theater audition, as well as helping my tearful 7-year-old with her daily piano practice.
On top of school duties I maintain an account with Trickling Springs Creamery out of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Every two weeks, fresh organic milk from pastured cows is delivered to my house. And it’s not all for me: I have a couple of families and local businesses that I supply with dairy products. It’s essentially a part-time job.
And the outside work hasn’t let up yet. There are gardens to close down, perennials to cut back and transplant, and brush piles to burn. This month I burned five large brush piles in between school demands. Most of the piles were the size of two parked cars, and the last one was the size of a bus. The flames reached so high that the police showed up at my door. Seriously. Plus there were chicken coop repairs which a friend helped with earlier this month. My non-existent handyman skills relegated me to assembling the new nesting boxes and cleaning out chicken poop.
Despite the rainy cool summer we experienced this summer in Virginia, I still managed to put back some food. I canned 28 pints of salsa, more than 17 quarts of green beans, and 13 quarts of tomatoes, and 16 pints of peach-basil jam. And I still have at least two gallons of frozen raspberries in my freezer that I need to make into jam.
But the peach-basil jam was the highlight of my harvest. To my astonishment, my young peach tree produced hundreds of peaches this year. With some help from a friend who introduced me to peach-basil jam, I made my own recipe. Now when I open a jar of my homemade jam, I am transported back to the heat of August, a fruit tree laden with peaches, and the aroma of fresh basil.
Another summer highlight was driving a Mini Cooper convertible. After dropping Tennyson off in North Carolina for a week with his best friend, Zach Fish, I drove my three youngest children to Brunswick, Georgia. They spent a week with friends: Maggie and Clara Belle learning to sew a quilt and Clancy making a video. But my friends’ car just wasn’t big enough for transporting kids, so we swapped vehicles. I left the minivan with them and instead drove home in their Mini Cooper. I quickly realized just how zippy my minivan isn’t.
Later that week, as I was driving the Cooper around town, I ran into a friend. Our conversation went something like this.
“I thought you looked familiar,” he said with a puzzled look.
“I know. You didn’t recognize me without the minivan and kids.” I laughed and then explained why I was alone and driving a sports car.
He grinned and then pretended to make a missing-persons report, “Mother last seen driving a Cooper with the top down headed toward the Canadian border.”
There are days when I’d like to head for the border. Days like the one when I posted the book review on Amazon. I wrote that review at 1:30 in the morning. With Jeff on the road, I was up early the next morning to meet the dairy truck, inventory the dairy products, and then load it into my own refrigerators and freezers for delivery to my customers later that day. However, when daylight came we discovered we had caught a skunk in a trap we’d set outside our house. My 13-year-old shot the skunk, which released a suffocating smell. In an effort to escape the odor, my son raced to the back door, found it locked and banged on the glass sidelights surrounding the original door to our 1860 home. Then I heard the sound of breaking glass.
Needless to say, the skunk odor wafted through the house and I had to find someone capable of restoring antique glass. And I had school to teach. And, well, you get the picture. There isn’t exactly much time to write. I’ve decided this farm isn’t big enough for two fulltime writers.