How Bad Can It Get?

I have often shared how my husband and I love Scrabble.  For us it is almost an addiction.

For those who follow my blog you have already read about this, but if you are new and interested, here are the links to my stories behind our addiction.

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

I Owe My Scrabble Addiction to an Out-of-work Architect

My Addiction has Returned

This past weekend we realized how much we do love Scrabble!

Our power went out this past weekend.  After fifteen hours without any electricity, service finally came on again, only to go out again in three hours.  We had planned to play a game of Scrabble after supper.

When we started the game it was still light out and with the curtains all open we had no problem seeing the board.

Most Scrabble games take anywhere from one to two hours depending on the number of players.

But not for us!

Our games go on forever.

First, we have a “super Scrabble” board.  This board is much larger than the normal game and it has twice as many tiles.

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Second, we are very competitive and not only want to win but want to get as high a score as possible.

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So each play may take minutes as we rearrange our tiles over and over trying to find the right word to get the most points.

We also play defensively so we need to play where our opponent does not have a chance to play on a triple or quadruple spot on the board.

So as the evening proceeded the sun slowly descended in the sky until it was dark both outside and in our house.

Did that stop us?

Not at all!

Out came the candles and the flashlights and we continued on in the dark.  This only slowed our game down more as we could hardly see our tiles.

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Over four hours later we finally finished the game and used our flashlight to find our way to bed.

Oh – by the way – I won!

 

 

The Streets of New York – in the 1980’s

This past week my husband spoke to the residents of the Teen Challenge Center in Saginaw, Michigan.

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This is not the first interaction we have had with this organization.

Our first experience with Teen Challenge occurred in 1985 in New York City.  Just one year after we were married we spent two weeks at the center in New York working on the streets with Christians from all over the United States.

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This center was started by Dave Wilkerson.   A pastor of a small church in Pennsylvania, in 1958, after he saw a photograph in Life Magazine of seven teenagers who were gang members and on trial, he felt led by the Holy Spirit to go to New York and share God’s love with them.  When he entered the courtroom and asked to speak to them, the judge had him removed from the courtroom.

His burden for the young people caught up in the gangs became so strong that he began a street ministry to the young in New York.  His work with the gangs was very successful and he founded Teen Challenge to continue that work.

His story was made into a movie The Cross and the Switchblade in 1970.  By today’s movie standards the movie itself would not measure up to the acting and directing skills of today.  But the message is powerful and if you have not seen it, I encourage to look it up.

We met each morning as a group sharing a simple breakfast and then a time of worship.  Afterwards we broke out into smaller groups of about twelve or fourteen.  We spent a few minutes sharing how things were going for each of us and then we hit the streets of New York.  We partnered with member of local churches as we walked the streets talking and sharing with those we met on the streets and in the subways.

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This was our team.

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This woman was in her 70’s and we were so impressed that an “old woman” like her would join us on the streets of New York.  (Now I’m 71 and my husband 79 – maybe she was not so old.)

For someone from the Mid West this was quite an experience.  This was not the New York of today – but the New York of the 1980’s.

The city was near bankruptcy.  With the introduction of crack-cocaine, there was widespread drug addiction and violence.  Our team was told when we walked down the streets in Manhattan to always have the woman walk on the outside with the man next to the building entrances.  They said women had been pulled off the street into drug dens.  Some neighborhoods we entered we told to not take pictures because we might get shot for taking a picture of a drug deal going down.

Walking in Manhattan we saw signs like this everywhere.

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Stores like this were everywhere.  Our team moved among this neighborhood inviting people to our evening services.

 

Graffiti was everywhere.

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My husband on the subway.  In the 1980s, over 250 felonies were committed every week in the system, making the New York subway the most dangerous mass transit system in the world.

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On schools

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On stores

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Even on churches

What was really sad to me was when I saw beautiful murals that the local population had painted – and they did not even respect their own community – but painted graffiti on the murals.

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There were burnt out cars sitting on the streets and we often saw people sleeping in them.

 

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Each day we walked the streets in a different community and each evening we held street services in the area where we had spent the day.

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And how did all this walking the streets, holding services, meeting the drug addicts and homeless people on the street work out?

We will never know for sure in this life.  There were many different reactions.

  • While holding a service in Washington Square, a young man came up to the area where the musicians were playing, turned his back to us and mooned us.
  • In Manhattan a young man cursed at me and told me to “mind my own business.”

But then there were:

  • Several homeless drug addicts listened to us and came back with us to the Teen Challenge Center where they stayed and committed to the 12 month program to beat the drug habit.  Again, I have no idea how many stayed with the program but I do know the Teen Challenge program in New York has had a high success rate helping people beat addiction.  It was good to see the ones who came back with us in the beginning of our two-week stay.  To watch their eyes go from a blank, glassy look to a clear, coherent look.  To see their listless walk become a brisk lively walk.  To see the dull expression on their face turn to one of hope and smiles.
  • One young man my husband talked to had never heard that Jesus loved him.  After praying with my husband, he wept with joy.  We did not leave these people after such an encounter.  The local churches we partnered with continued to mentor and help them in their attempts to turn from cocaine and to begin a new life with Jesus Christ.
  • On the subway one day we found a pimp beating up on one of his “girls.”  Scared to death, but unable to ignore this, our team of 14 stepped in between the pimp and his “girl.”  He threatened us but we did outnumber him.  He got off at the next stop and we took the young girl with us back to the shelter to help her get free from prostitution and start anew.

The years have gone by and we often wonder about some of those we talked to, shared that God loved them, that there was hope and offered help.  Where are they now?  Did they stay with the program, with the local churches?

We will never know in this life, but I think how awesome it would be to meet one of them in heaven some day and hear their story of victory over cocaine.

So thankful that New York City did finally clean up much of the city and I hear today it is a beautiful place to visit.  Doubtful that I will never get back, but thankful for the two weeks spent on the streets of New York City in the 80’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Husband Has a New Love

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My husband and I have been scrabble addicts since 2008.  We have books recording every game we have played for the past ten years.  During the summer we usually play two or three times a week but in the months when Old Man Winter blows his breath around our house, we play every day.

You can check out my original admittance of our addiction in my post:

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

We began this year as always playing almost every day in the cold, bitter days in January.  All was fine until April when my husband left me and Scrabble for his new love.

And it’s all my daughter’s fault.

In April my husband had major surgery and was in the hospital for several days.  After coming home he was supposed to remain quiet for six weeks.  In an attempt to give him something to help pass the time my daughter bought him a Sudoku book.

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To be honest I didn’t think he would use it.  He is not the kind to sit still for long and although he does for Scrabble there is interaction with me.  So I thought he would work one or two and then quit.

Boy, was I wrong!

He started on the ones marked “easy.”   Every time I asked if he would play a game of Scrabble, he would say:

Let me just finish this one puzzle.”

But one puzzle led to another.  And another.

I thought when he got to the ones marked ” medium” he would quit.  Not that I doubted my husband is smart, but I thought as they got more difficult to solve, he might get frustrated and quit.

Boy, was I wrong!

He began working five to six puzzles a day which left no time to for me or Scrabble.

I still held out hope that he would surely quit when he got to the ones marked “hard.”  I can never figure those out and I thought he would have trouble also.  That would surely lead to frustration and he would come back to me and Scrabble.

Boy, was I wrong!

He is skipping through the “hard” ones and is almost finished with the book my daughter bought him.  So – now maybe there is hope.

Boy, was I wrong!

Last week, in anticipation of finishing this book of puzzles, he went to Barnes and Noble and brought a GIANT Sudoku book.

I’m going to try one more time today to get him to play a game of Scrabble with me.

If not, maybe divorce court will be in our future.  (Just kidding, of course!)

Guess I need to find a new addiction myself.  My daughter gave me a word search book – maybe that will work.

 

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Queen of the Shade Garden

Along with our addiction to scrabble   –   (My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017)   –  my husband and I share a love of hostas.

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It started innocently enough.  We bought a house with a large above ground pool.  It was surrounded by lots and lots of concrete.  Concrete slab for the pool equipment and a large concrete slab with two ugly metal sheds.  There were no trees or flowers and very little grass in the back yard.

Since I hate getting water in my face in the shower, I was clearly not going to use the pool.  After one year of trying to keep the pool clean with all the time and money that required, my husband decided it was not worth it for the two or three times a month he would swim.

So – out with the pool and all that concrete!

Now what?

We decided to plant some hostas.  We had never grown hostas before but after my husband had planted so many trees in our background and it was very shady, it seemed like a good choice.

At first we had a small area of hostas under the trees next to the house.  But now it has grown until almost all of our back yard is filled with hostas.  The small patch of yard still left should be gone by the end of this summer as my husband is busy dividing the ones we have and transplanting them to other spots in the yard.

 

Hostas come in all sizes – from four-inch dwarfs to six-foot giants.  They come in different shades of green, blue and chartreuse.  During the summer they produce spikes of pink, lavender or white flowers.  While the flowers are beautiful, it is their foliage that makes them such a wonderful plant for the shade garden.

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Hostas came to America in the 1800’s from Korea, China and Japan.  Hostas are mentioned as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).  They are mentioned in Japan as early as 710 AD.  There were originally about 40 species from Asia but today due to selective breeding there are about 8,000 cultivars.

If you are looking for a plant that provides beauty year after year requiring little care and lots of variety in flowers and foliage, check out the hostas, Queen of the shade garden.

 

 

 

My Addiction has Returned

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According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Well – my husband and I seem to be addicted to the game “Scrabble.”  I have confessed my addiction in the past hoping that being totally honest would free me from this obsession with the game.  Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

This summer we spent a lot of time in our hosta garden.  That is another area where we seem to seek some kind of “brain reward” by seeing how many hostas we can plant in our back yard. Our entire back garden is full of hostas!  We have close to 200 different varieties. That  sounds like a lot – but there are over 3000 different varieties registered so it is really not that large a collection.  We would try to get more varieties, but we have run out of yard space.

While working in the garden (we also have roses, columbine and lots of day lilies) kept us busy this summer, it appeared we had conquered our game addiction.  Instead of playing 15 to 20 to 30 games a month, we actually only played five to six games and there were even months we did not play at all.

Then came the cold snap!

We thought we were free!  Then Old Man Winter arrived with bitter temperatures dipping below zero and wind chills readings 20 to 30 below.  Since my husband has a heart condition and his doctor has told him not to go out in these bitter cold temps, we were stuck in the house.

You can only watch so many movies!

I baked an apple pie and we watched some old movies.  But you can only watch so many movies before your brain dies.  So out came the scrabble game.

And we are hooked again!

The month is not over and we have already started out 25th game!  My husband loves to be able to play all his letters in one turn.  In these 25 games, he has played all his letters 22 times.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot keep up with him on this great feat.  However, I am getting better as I have played all my letters 13 times this month.

Do we sound crazy?  Our kids insist when we die they will not have a visitation.  Instead, in our honor, they will hold a scrabble tournament.

Anyone else out there love scrabble?  Are we the only nuts in the world?

Spring will come!

Hopefully with the arrival of spring, we will be able to shake free once again of this addiction.  At least until winter returns in 2017.

 

 

 

I Owe My Scrabble Addiction to an Out-of-work Architect

No relief in our addiction!

My husband and I continue our Scrabble addiction (Confessions of a Scrabble Addict). We played 26 games in January and ended in a tie – 13 games each.  For February we have played a game every day (it’s been bitter cold outside – so what can you do?) and we are still tied at 14 games each.  Guess this means we are both equally smart — or equally dull-witted.

Thank you Mr. Butts!

It’s interesting to me to learn that the game of Scrabble was invented during the Great Depression.  With no work and time on his hands, architect Alfred Mosher Butts decided to do something productive – and he invented the board game of Scrabble.  His goal was to combine the word skills of crossword puzzles (in fact, he first named the game Criss-Cross Words) with the element of chance.

To determine how many of each letter to use in the game and what point value to give them, he studied the front page of The New York Times.  His study found that we use vowels more than consonants, and the vowel “E” is the most frequently used vowel.

Mr. Butt originally made the board and tiles himself and gave them to family and friends for their entertainment.  His attempts to interest games manufacturers led nowhere.  In 1948 one of the couples who had the Criss-Cross Words game convinced Mr. Butts to let them manufacture and market the game – changing the name to Scrabble.

Mr. and Mrs. Brunot received a trademark for the name “Scrabble” in 1948 and, like many new ventures, lost money in 1949 – the first year of production.

The story is (not able to confirm if true) that the president of Macy’s came across the game while on vacation in the early 1950’s and ordered some for his store.  Soon, it was a hit with everyone.

Today it is estimated that over 35 million people play Scrabble.  It is one of the favorite on-line games.

So – after researching the game, I find that I do not have to be ashamed of my addition.  Seems I’m not alone!

So – on we go to March.  Questions remain:

  1. How many games will we play in the month of March?
  2. As warm weather returns, will our addiction ease up – or will our rose and hosta garden suffer from neglect as we continue our obsession with the game?
  3. Will we be able to leave it behind when we go on vacation this summer?

 

 

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

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My name is Barbara and I am a Scrabble addict!

  • I must confess that I am constantly looking for new words to use in a game.  When I read a book I am on the outlook for new words.  As I glance through a magazine, my eyes just seem to latch on to new words in the articles or the advertisements.
  • During the commercials when I watch TV or wait at a restaurant for my food – or any other time I find myself waiting – I often write out a long word or a greeting such as “Merry Christmas” – then see how many words I can make from the longer word or greeting.  (My husband gets tired of finding these lists of words everywhere – in the desk drawer where we keep our mail – on the computer desk – on the end table next to my recliner.  I tell him I will stop – but I can’t seem to help myself.)
  • I actually “read” the dictionary looking for new words.
  • All my other hobbies take a back seat to the game – reading, writing, watching TV.  None of these are as important as getting my husband to join me in a game of scrabble.

I need help!  But……..

My husband is an addict too!

  • He also reads the dictionary learning new words.  He loves to take words he already knows and search to see how the plural or past tense would be spelled.
  • He recently started making a list of all the new words we find and use in our games.

Our daughter thinks we are nuts!

We take our Scrabble games seriously.  We have kept score of every game we have played since 2008.  Even the games we play with family or friends is entered in our book.

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We may have gone too far this winter!

With the cold weather we have been indoors more than usual the past few weeks and I think our Scrabble addiction has gotten out of hand.  My husband is now keeping a record of our average scores for each month.  We are in a serious contest to see who wins the most games for each month.

We play only Super Scrabble!

The regular size Scrabble board is 15″ x 15″ but we use the larger Super Scrabble board.  It is 21″ x 21″, has quadruple letters and words and twice the number of tiles as the regular Scrabble board.  Since we constantly try to increase our scores and take this so seriously, our games can last for two to three hours.  (But we are retired, it is cold outside, so who cares?)

Come on spring!

We really need warm weather to return so that we can regain some sanity and move on to other interests before our addiction overtakes us completely.

If you are addicted to Scrabble too, let me know.  We could start a Scrabble Anonymous Club.