Archive for the 'Recreation' Category

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.


It’s been a rather emotionally intense weekend, and this being our first free Sunday evening since mid-January, at 6:30 PM, Scott wanted to so something that did not involve work, church, vacation rental, or anything else that could possibly fall into the realm of responsibility and/or stress. He suggested cuppers.

We haven’t played cuppers in probably over a year, simply because we’ve been on a cornhole kick of late. So Scott set up the boards between the house and the bird feeder and proceeded to win both games handily. I suspect his victories could be attributed to the fact that the carpet on the boards is in terrible shape, both at the front edge from having been hit so many times over the years and on the actual surface, as a result of either our (mostly Scott’s) many divots or perhaps the work of certain members of the order Rodentia who have been known to co-habit with the cuppers boards in the smokehouse. But in any case, he won, even though once in each game I cupped on top of him.

The guys being gone to Springfield for Josiah to check out some possible temporary lodging situations (renting a room from someone for a couple months while waiting for his preferred apartment to come available), we ate a simple supper of leftover sloppy joes, and then Scott challenged me to the “Intrigue” version of Dominion. We’ve played Dominion Intrigue quite a few times, and I have won consistently – much to my delight and Scott’s chagrin.  = )  I picked a randomized set of cards that ended up being terrible and in a very quick game, he won. We then played a second randomized game of his choosing, and he won by a much greater margin. Grrrr.

He is happy to have won all four games, and I, the generally less competitive member of our duo (though I do really like to win at Dominion) am happy that he is happy.

Promise kept

As best I can figure, Scott started playing church softball in about 2001, which would have made last year about his 15th year. That’s 15 years of cleats and gloves, of caps and jerseys, of shortstop and left field and 3rd base, of rosters and scorecards. 15 years of Scott taking his stance in the batter’s box, holding up his right hand to the ump, taking a couple practice swings, doing his classic butt wiggle, and then lifting both arms as if the pitch is too far inside, while Hank calls out, “Steeeee-rike. . . two!” 15 years of Scott losing his cap as he races to 2nd and 15 years of him sliding into 3rd. 15 years of strollers and bike racks and kids of various ages. Kids playing in the soft, powdery dirt between my feet and the fence, romping on the playground, riding bikes (on pavement!), wading in the creek, making mud around the drippy water fountain, running or roller-blading to retrieve foul balls, standing behind the outfield fence to cheer Dad on, and stomping on the bleachers, chanting, “We’re the Promise Keepers! We’re gonna’ win this GAME!”

15 years of keeping my bag chair in the van continually from April through July (and sometimes through October for fall ball), 15 years of hauling it on my shoulder to the field, 15 years of hollering myself hoarse cheering on each of our guys by name. 15 years of my and the kids’ “weekend” starting at 5:00 PM on Thursday, because it was game night, and Friday was our off day, complete with sleeping in and eating junk food. We didn’t care if the game was at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, or 9:30, or even if there was a double-header. We were just there for the duration, and we loved it.

Our kids grew up spending Thursday nights at Stockstill. It was an anchor in our lives.

For the past couple years, Andrew’s been playing recreational volleyball at First Baptist on Thursday nights, and when it’s not softball season, Scott has joined him. They both like it a lot. Even Josiah has gone to volleyball several times while he’s been here the past few months. I like that all three of my menfolk can do something active together that they all enjoy.

Scott started the Promise Keepers softball team in 2002 when we were attending a church (Tri-Lakes Cathedral) that didn’t have its own team. Only a handful of guys from the church wanted to play, so Scott recruited other folks (not all Christians) and formed his own team. Some of the guys were from Country Mart. Some were friends of friends of friends. For about ten years, although new guys joined and others quit or moved away, a small core group of players stayed with the team. And in most years, the PK’s were quite good. At least a couple times, they won the championship, and for a number of years, Scott advocated for Parks and Rec to divide the church league into upper and lower divisions (Promise Keepers always in the upper!) to make it more fun for his team. Besides playing a sport that he loves, his on-going goal was to develop relationships with unchurched men that he could use to influence them toward the Lord.

Four years ago, I started singing in a community choir. During the school year, we rehearse on Thursday nights from 7:00-9:00, and I felt guilty about missing some of Scott’s games. Since Promise Keepers is not a church team, there’s not a big crowd of church folks who come to watch and cheer for their guys, like they do for Church Army or The Sanctuary or Forsyth First Baptist; there are usually only three or four PK wives or girlfriends there. Until I joined the choir, I was one of the few wives who was ALWAYS at Scott’s games, watching him, cheering him, and being proud of him while he was doing something he loves to do.

Over the past five or so years, the team’s been almost completely re-formed. Now it’s mostly a lot of younger guys whose names I don’t know, and Scott’s probably old enough to be their dad. Last year, I think he was one of the two oldest guys on the team. And he’s no longer the manager; that mantle got passed a couple years ago to a guy who’s probably about 30 and has a toddler. A toddler who probably plays in the soft, powdery dirt between her mom’s feet and the fence.

They had their first practice of 2016 last Thursday night. A few days later, Scott said, “I’m not going to play softball this year. With everything else going on,” – and I could mention his job change, mission trips, vacation rental business, and Jessica’s upcoming  WEDDING(!!!) for starts – “I think I’ll enjoy volleyball more.”

And I do get that.

But I sit here typing and crying, grieving, not because this is a bad change – it’s not; it’s actually a good change – but just because it IS a change and a big one, after so many years. Although I think I’m actually relieved. In this season of my life, I really wasn’t looking forward to hauling my chair down there every Thursday night to sweat and fight the mosquitoes and watch people I don’t know play on a team that used to be so important to me, but now is not. Besides that, sitting there alone is just not so very fun. It’s much, much MUCH more exciting when one or both of the girls are there with me, but with one girl living in Hong Kong, and one living in Virginia, their attendance at a Thursday night game just isn’t very practical.

So I am writing today to be happy and thankful for those 15 years, to document some stuff that our family may want to remember down the road, and to look forward to the next 15 years.

As Katie recently said in a message to me, with which she included a photo of a St. Louis Cardinal batter at the plate, “PSA: Baseball is back!!!”

Let them play ball!