Archive for the 'Recreation' Category

Still tracking

After running the 200, 100, and 400 in the first meet (Branson) and long jumping in the second meet (also at Branson), Andrew wasn’t entered in the third meet (Rogers) because it was an all-relay meet, and he hasn’t trained for relays. Not for lack of desire, mind you; he says the track thing he’d like to do more than anything else is to run in the 4 by 400.  = )  But although he’s a senior, this is Andrew’s first time ever to be involved in track, so I think his lack of experience and expertise has limited his opportunities. At each of the next three meets (Harrison, Ozark, and Joplin), he was entered in the long jump.

The thing to understand is that doing a long jump takes maybe 15 seconds total, so being a track mom is a little different from being, say, a choir mom (who watches her kid’s ensemble sing for 20 glorious minutes out of a 100-minute concert), or a drama mom (who watches an amazing two-hour musical in which her kid is acting and/or singing in several scenes). And then there are baseball or basketball or football moms (who watch their kid’s team play an entire game). A mom of a long jumper, on the other hand, arrives when the meet starts, sits and waits until the time comes for her kid to run very fast and jump incredibly far for a total of less than a minute, and then waits patiently for another unknown amount of time to see the results.

But oh, the joy of watching those 45 seconds!

I went to Harrison to watch Andrew long jump, arriving – after only a few wrong turns – at 3:25. The field events were scheduled to begin at 3:30, and I innocently thought that the long jumping would be done by 4:30 and I’d be back home by 5:30. That’s not exactly how things worked out. When I got to the stadium and realized that the field events had actually started around 3:15, I initially panicked, fearing that I had missed my son’s moment(s) of glory, but I need not have worried. One four letter word that can never be mentioned in conjunction with a track meet is S-O-O-N.

Andrew’s first jump was at 5:12, and since Scott couldn’t be there, I wanted to get some pictures. I’ve learned that my phone actually does better than my camera at catching the action, so I practiced on some previous jumpers and endeavored to get at least one shot during each of Andrew’s jumps.

I will say that for the spectators, there’s a lot – really, quite an excessive amount – of sitting around and waiting. The athletes also do a lot of sitting around and waiting, followed by a bit of warming up and then another hefty dose of standing around and waiting.

See, there he is in his red and black, standing around and waiting. And if we wait around long enough and keep watching closely, and if our cell phone battery doesn’t die first, Andrew’s eventually going to run toward us and jump into a sandy pit that’s out of view just beyond the bottom left corner of the picture.


I told you so! He’s finally gotten the go-ahead to run, and here he comes.


If he steps over that second-from-the-pit line, his jump will be  a “scratch” and it’ll be disqualified. (I believe it’s permissible to step on the line, but not over it.)


No scratch! And look at him fly!


Wow. The eagle has landed.


This particular day was horrifically windy. When the meet started, it was about 75 degrees and sunny, and throughout the whole thing, the wind was 15-20 mph and gusting to nearly 30. After his jumps, Andrew came and sat with me. He was pretty excited, telling me he had jumped a PR (personal record) of 18 feet, zero inches. He told me all about the mechanics of it; what you do and how and when and why, and we both got some education watching the people who were marking and measuring the jumps. We also watched a number of races, which we enjoyed.

The reason we kept sitting there for so long was that the stadium has a big electronic scoreboard, and from time to time, they would post the results of the various events. The board could only fit eight listings at a time, so in races or field events where there were multiple heats, or when there were lots of competing athletes or teams, the results would appear in sets of eight, along with the four-letter abbreviation of each of the schools.

Waiting for Andrew to jump, I’d had plenty of time (a gross understatement!) to study that sign, so here, in no special order, I will provide the names of the schools that were at that track meet.









Green forest

Valley Springs








Eureka Springs


Oark (not a typo)


There’s a song that says, “I don’t need my name in lights; I’m famous in my Father’s eyes…” but I am not the least bit ashamed to say that I wanted to see Andrew’s name up on that board. And take a picture of it.  = )  So we sat and waited and sat and waited and sat and waited and watched the board. I was wearing jeans and a polo shirt and had brought a hoodie, but Andrew was just in his jersey and shorts, and with the wind still whipping, he was getting pretty cold. But gentleman that he is, he didn’t want to go back to his friends and leave me alone to watch the sign, and, well, I’m stubborn. I wasn’t about to move out of my seat till I got a picture of that sign!

The sun went down, the stadium lights came on, Andrew shivered, and still we sat and waited, and finally, at 7:23…


So now we have proof that Andrew long-jumped 18 feet, finishing 12th out of about 24 men. We gave each other high fives, he ran back to join his teammates, and I was so proud and happy that I treated myself to Wendy’s on the way home.


“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…”

As a high school senior, Andrew has joined the track team this semester, and he’s really liking it. I like it too, especially the part where I get to watch him run. Reminds me of “Chariots of Fire.”  = ) There is, however, a parental learning curve when it comes to track. Here are a few things I learned from attending my first high school (dual) track meet last week.

You don’t have to pay to get in; at least we didn’t that time.

Nobody much comes to track meets; no need to save seats.

For the uninitiated, it can be hard to tell what’s going on.

“Field” means shot put, discus, javelin, pole vault, and jump (high, long, and/or triple). “Track” means running, either with or without hurdles, and hurdles can be of three different heights and a variety of distances. The permutations on hurdles seem endless.

Race lengths are in meters, with 400 being once around the track, 800 twice, and 1600 four times. A 100-meter dash is done only on the straightaway, and a 200-meter dash covers a curve plus a straightaway. In any race that involves a curve (over 200 meters or more), the runners have staggered starting points. For 200 and 400 meters, they have to stay in their assigned lanes, but for 800 and 1600 meters, they only have to stay in their lanes for the first lap. Although different races start in different places around the track, the finish line is always in the same place. There’s no actual physical “tape” across the finish line, just the stripe painted across the track.

Pole vaulting and high jumping occur at one end of the field, with long jumping occurring simultaneously at the other end. Some field events can also be going on during some of the races.

Our track team members are required to be there for the whole meet. This means that they have a lot of down time, during which they sit on the field, walk up and down the field doing specific stretches and exercises, help hold starting blocks in place for other runners, maneuver hurdles (set them up, raise them, lower them, re-position them, and/or take them down), eat (so they’ll have enough energy for their various races), and just generally hang out. Since Andrew enjoys both running and spending time with friends, track seems to be a good fit for him.

Political correctness aside, there are men’s and women’s versions of most of the events, so a meet takes a long time. The one I attended on March 23 was a dual meet between only Hollister and Branson, and it lasted about three hours, but the meet I skipped last night (March 30) was a regular “invitational meet,” in which some six area schools competed; it lasted six hours! I was pleased to hear that Branson won that one by 14 points. I don’t know the details of how the scoring work, but Andrew said winning by 14 was pretty good.

On March 23, Andrew ran in the 200 meter, 100 meter, and 400 meter races. I later learned that the runners are required to have certain amounts of rest time between races, so Andrew ran in one of the earliest races and one of the last, as well as one in the middle. For the spectating parent of a kid who has more than one race, this means you are there for the long haul. As in, dress in layers, bring food and drink, bring a book, and make yourself comfortable. Thankfully, Branson has very comfortable stadium seats. I don’t know how things will be at away meets.

For each race, depending on the number of competitors, there are multiple heats. Andrew ran in the first heat of the 200, and he did quite well, finishing second. The winning runner just barely edged him out at the end. An hour or so later, he ran the 100-meter dash, in which and he confirmed his suspicion that sprinting is not his natural strength. Then, near the end of the meet, he ran the 400, and I must say that was a delight to watch. He ran very well and was in the lead coming around the curve into the home stretch.

We were up and screaming for him! He was running hard, and I was hoping he had enough calories in his system to keep up his pace and form to the end. He passed us giving it his all, and, as Scott later said, “He ran a GREAT 380!”

380 because then, just a few strides before the finish line, he FELL DOWN. What?!? Unbelievable! Yes, he fell down, but he got back up and kept going. If he hadn’t fallen, I’m pretty sure he could have won. It was such a hard thing to watch, but I was so proud of him for getting right back up. He wasn’t really hurt, although he did spend a long time afterward – first lying down and then sitting up – out on the grass doing a number of stretches. He later told me that he was doing well till he looked over and saw the other runner gaining on him. He got distracted, lost his concentration, had trouble with his hamstrings, and tripped and fell.

In last night’s six-hour meet, the coach only entered him in the long jump. Each athlete gets three jumps, and I assume they count the best of the three. Andrew scratched (fouled, foot over the line) his first two jumps, and his third was not very good. He hasn’t had much experience at all in jumping, although his natural athletic ability and his gymnastics training surely help. The track team has practice from 2:30 to 5:00 after school every day that they don’t have a meet. I don’t know how much – if any – choice he has in what specific events he trains for, but I told him I think he could also be a good high jumper. = )  The parents of one of our cross-country runners were sitting with us at that first meet last week, and their son has run cross-country for several years. That sport occurs in the fall, and their races are just for 30 minutes or so. They said, “We should could have used Andrew the past couple years in cross-country. He’s got the natural abilities of a cross-country runner!” Their son said, “And he’s in choir; he knows how to breathe.” That made me smile.

Track’s been a good experience so far, even with that fall. Andrew said he really likes running, especially the 400 meter distance, and he hopes he can do it in a race again soon.

Depend-ing on slippers and a noodle

Today our church threw a surprise party for our pastor’s 50th birthday. It was a riot.

The planners decreed it would have an 80s theme, and we were all supposed to “dress 80s.” Well, as I told someone last week, “For one thing, I don’t know what 80s clothing looks like, and for another thing, I probably wear it every day!” So I did not dress up, but many folks did. We had all kinds of costumes:

Leotard-type outfits with off-the-shoulder T-shirts over

Big sunglasses

Big hair

A guy in gold foil pants

Foofy hair with skinny headbands

A woman in a tutu

The Blues Brothers(!)

Leg warmers

And a Richard Simmons look-alike who loved everybody

The first order of business was the “50 Year-Old Olympics,” which turned out to be a relay race. We were all asked to line up behind one of the two team captains, Pastor Barb and Kris, so I hoofed my compliant self right over behind Kris and waited for “Richard” to give us instructions. When he did, I realized I was in trouble.

The first person on each team had to put on a pair of Depends and a pair of slippers, run down a short course, pick up a pool noodle, throw it through a hula hoop being held aloft some 18 feet away, run back to the starting point, extricate himself from the Depends and slippers,and hand them off to. . .

the second person, who would put on the Depends and slippers, run down the course, put on a pair of goofy glasses, read an eye chart, return to the starting point, extricate himself from the Depends and slippers, and hand them off to. . .

the third person, who would put tn the Depends and slippers, run down the course, toss Kit-Kat bars into a bedpan positioned some ten feet away, run back to the starting point, extricate himself from the Depends and slippers, and hand them off to. . .

the fourth person, who would put on the Depends and slippers, pick up a set of crutches, crutch down the course to an inverted stack of five Solo cups, three of which he was required to stack pyramid style (two cups inverted on the bottom with one inverted atop the two) using only his crutches(!!!), crutch back to the starting point, extricate himself from the Depends and slippers, and hand them off to. . .

the final person, who would put on the Depends and slippers, get into a wheelchair and wheel himself down the course and back, weaving in and out among an array of strategically positioned traffic cones.


Kris asked me to go first for our team (thanks, a lot, Kris), and let me just say that had I taken my tennis shoes off, it would have been much easier to get the slippers on and the Depends off.

Pastor Barb’s team won, but only by a nose.

There were all kinds of decorations, Rubic’s Cube cupcakes, and a survey about the prices of various items in 1966. Our Guest of Honor opened a nice selection of gifts (many with 80s themes) and cards (most of which were funny; one evidently so extremely funny(?) risque(?) that she wouldn’t read it aloud and hid it from view).

Pastor Barb was truly surprised, and that was amazing, given the fact that (A) nearly everyone in the church knew about it yet said nothing, and (B) most of the planning and legwork was done by people who live in her house!

Way to go, Pete, Jessica, Taylor, and Pastor Guy!!!

Walking cross-country

Katie and I are doing a virtual “Walk Across (the Eastern Half of) America.” We both walk nearly every day, and we’re both quite fond of planning, organizing, and details, so together we created a nifty online spreadsheet to keep up with our mileage and keep us motivated. She’s walking west from her workplace at Monticello, and I’m walking east from our home in Walnut Shade, and we’ll see where we meet. I’m figuring it’ll be well east of the halfway point because my walk’s basically flat, which she has to cross the Appalachians.  = )

As of today, I’m 45.73 miles east of Strafford, I’ve covered 8.11 % of the total distance between our starting points, and I’m exactly 911.4 miles away from Katie.

I’m going to keep walking!

First Friday Art Walk. . . and walk. . . and walk. . . and walk. . .

It all started with my desire to spend some time with Josiah. He lives and works about 35 minutes away, and I miss him. Over the past few months, he’s come down to the house several times – for dinner, after a dental appointment, for Jessica’s wedding, etc., but it dawned on me that he shouldn’t always have to come here. If I really want to see him – which I do – I could go there.

So I was looking for something fun and possibly cultural that we might do together in Springfield, and I thought of the First Friday Art Walk. It’s a monthly event where a lot of downtown businesses open their doors for a lot of local artists to come and display (and hopefully sell) a lot of their creations, and for several hours, people can just wander around and in and out among these venues and see interesting artwork.

I asked Josiah and he was interested, so we made a date.

I thought the evening was wonderful!

After a slight delay due to our Dill Pickle issue, I met Jo at his apartment, which is just very nice. It’s a classy set-up, in a good neighborhood that’s conveniently located. Never one for stuffy formality, Josiah’s apartment has that comfortable, lived-in look, somewhat like his room at home.  = )  He and his roomies also have an obnoxious adorable kitten named Maique (“my EEK”). I believe this is the first time he’s had a pet. We shall see how that relationship progresses.

Jo bought our dinner at Fazoli’s, and then we headed toward the center of town. I drove the Durango because he said his car had been making some kind of inappropriate noise.

Having seen this verbiage on the First Friday Art Walk website. . .

Worried about parking? Ride the Art Museum shuttle! Art Walk sponsor Springfield Art Museum offers free shuttle service from the Museum to Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Fridays. Stops at Campbell & Walnut, Boonville & Water, The Creamery Arts Center and the Art Museum.”

. . . we decided to park at the Art Museum and ride.

It was just a glorious night for a walk; upper 60s, clear skies, very pleasant. Armed with a map and brochure, we happily wandered around downtown seeing all kinds of painting, carving, photography, apparel, quilts, metalwork, and even blown glass. Quite enjoyable.

We ended up at Park Central, and I was given a very special treat. Josiah’s workplace is located right on the “square,” in suite 516 of The Holland Building (vintage 1914) at 205 Park Central East. And he has keys to the building! So while other revelers roller skated (in old-fashioned metal clip-on skates!) or juggled fire, or stood on their heads, or played loud music in the center of the roundabout there, we went into The Holland Building, which, for a history buff like moi, was just amazing. It has a working mail chute, old-timey elevator, and that near-musty-but classy look and feel that you only experience in downtown buildings of significant age and grandeur.

Josiah gave me a full tour of his workplace, and I found it all fascinating. That is, until my lower digestive system made, for no known reason, some sudden and very significant complaints, providing me then with a full tour of the ladies restroom. Sometime later and feeling a bit weakened, I emerged and we continued our jaunt, ending up in a little European pastry shop. Whose restroom I again investigated at length. And while surveying the plumbing fixtures, I had a sudden and somewhat unsettling thought. It was 8:54 PM, and I couldn’t remember if the free shuttle back to the Art Museum (and my Durango) ran until 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM. That difference could be rather significant. Back in the pastry shop Josiah was waiting for his beverage order, and when I asked him the critical question, he looked both curious and concerned. I left him to get the answer with his phone while I returned to the Little Girls’ Room. And prayed for digestive mercies. . . and wondered where one could buy a fistful of Immodium at 9:00 PM on a Friday night in downtown Springfield. . . or just how far it would be to walk from Park Central to the Art Museum. . . and whether or not we could find any open businesses with public restrooms along the way. . .

Carrying a handheld computer is quite handy at such a time. Cell phones today can answer (sometimes in spoken English) almost any question, and it turns out that, as clearly stated in the above copied blurb from the First Friday Art Walk website, the shuttle did indeed cease running at 9:00 PM.


We discussed our options. There being so few of them, it was a very short discussion.

I told Jo I thought I was OK to walk some, just not too fast, and that if I said I needed a bathroom, to realize that the situation was urgent and to please try to find one post haste. We, of course, both knew that that would be impossible, but he said optimistically, “Um. . . I’ll do my best.”

And with that, we set off walking south. Thankfully, God did answer my prayer, my rebellious digestive system ceased its complaining, and I was fine. As mentioned earlier, it was a truly lovely evening for a walk, and that was good thing, for we did walk quite a ways.

We walked through some neighborhoods that I would not have walked through alone in broad daylight.

We had a long, grand conversation about all kinds of interesting things, and we kept walking. (Sing it with the French Peas, everyone: “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall. . .”)

We kept walking.

We walked through the bar district.

We saw buildings of great architectural interest and buildings of absolutely no architectural interest.

We pushed buttons to cross many streets and were repeatedly told to “WAIT. . . WAIT. . . WAIT. . . ”

We opted not to follow Google’s suggested route when it appeared to be shorter but led through a completely dark neighborhood.

We kept walking.

We were almost side-swiped by someone who almost hit someone else while turning left. Heart palpitations for over a minute on that one.

We (I) got a bit tired of walking, but since our only option was to keep walking, we did.

We commented on trees, sidewalk widths, MSU’s tunnel, and a quart of milk sitting on the sidewalk.

We had a lot of fun and were not bored.

We kept walking.

Jo’s phone had indicated at the outset that at our current (admittedly slow, but how the heck did the phone even know?!?) rate, it should take us a mere 39 minutes to walk to the Art Museum. I think it was closer to 50-some minutes, but once we hit National, we knew that eventually, the tennis court across from the Art Museum, beside which we had parked, would have to appear, and sure enough, it had not moved during our absence. I was pretty glad to see that Durango!

I have no regrets. It was a very fun and special evening, and I’m so glad I got to spend it with my favorite Llama. I am especially fond of him.


P.S. The next day, I mapped our route, and it was exactly two miles. Thanks to my companion, they were a very memorable and pleasant two miles.


Scott and I really enjoy playing a game called Dominion. Katie gave it to us a few years ago, and it reminds me of Ms. Pac Man, in that every time we finish playing it, I think, “Ooh, I so wish I could do it again. I’m sure I could do a lot better now.”

You play it with ten stacks of action cards. Each stack has ten identical cards that you “buy,” and each card lets you do certain specific things to build your personal deck of money, actions, and land. The goal is to end the game with the most land, and you can guess which player that usually is at our house. But what makes it really interesting – and what makes us keep coming back to play it again and again and again – is that although you play with only ten stacks of action cards, the game comes with about 25 stacks of them, and you can play with any ten stacks you choose. This, of course, makes the game completely different each time you play it.

Then, to add even more diversity, one can buy an expansion pack that provides an additional 25 stacks of action cards, and one year for Christmas (I think), Katie gave us two expansion packs! And then, obviously completely hooked, a few months ago we bought ourselves another one. This means that we now have something on the order of 100 stacks of action cards to choose from each time we play.

Enter the Randominion iPhone app. I can select however many specific expansions I want to include, click “Randomize,” and it spits out a list of ten actions cards for us to pull from our nifty blue Dominion carrying case, the resting place of the many clear plastic “baseball card” pocket sheets that hold all our Dominion cards in beavishly alphabetical order.

We played twice today. I lost the first time, and it’s a good thing that I enjoy the game even when I lose.  = )  I was raring to go for the second game, but I lost a lot of my swagger when Scott informed me that we’d be playing with not one, not two, but three cards that had plus two actions, one that had plus one action, AND the dreaded “King’s Court,” which lets you play an action card from your hand three times. Sigh. Scott tied his all-time record of playing nineteen action cards in one turn, while I cleaned the kitchen, folded laundry, and ironed two shirts. However, he only won by about 16 points, so I was encouraged. . . to play again soon.

I’m still standing. . .

. . . a chance, that is.

It was supposed to be family game night, but Josiah was up in his room talking on the (phone? computer?) with someone, and Andrew was gone to help with some setting-up of stuff for changes to our youth ministry, so Scott and I being the only family members available for gaming, we opted for Dominion Intrigue . . . for a change, you know.

I was assigned the task of picking the cards, and I initially chose to shuffle the randomizer cards and deal out the first. However, that was no good because the same blankety-blank ten cards that kept coming up last night came up again tonight. AARRGGHH! So I gave up that plan and instead laid out all the Intrigue randomizer cards and studied them carefully. I had time for such study because Scott had called from his desk 35 minutes ago to say that he “needed ten minutes.” I can understand that.

So I hand-picked a very carefully compiled selection of cards, designed both to appease Scott (lotsa plus actions) and to give me a chance to win (lotsa plus cards), while having just enough attack cards (only two) to keep things interesting. He did eventually come down, and we started the game around 8:30, but it turns out that he had to leave at 8:50 to be interviewed (audio only) by our friend, Jeramie, concerning his (Scott’s) experience in making his vacation rental business more profitable. Meaning that we had to stop playing in the middle of the game!! No fair!! Whine, whine!! While I had a chance of winning!!

But we left the piles of cards set up on the dining room table, and although our calendar looks like we won’t be able to resume the game until four days from now on Friday evening – and we’ll surely need to use the table for a meal before then, but if we sit creatively at the far end of the table we might be able to leave the game undisturbed, hmmm. . . – I’m planning to make a list of these cards, so that whoever wins, I can remember whether or not this will be a good set to use in a future game.