My children say when I die instead of a visitation, they will have a Scrabble tournament. Sounds great to me. Too bad I will not be able to take part in the competition.
However, Scrabble has a rival in our love of games now with a board game we recently discovered.
Ticket to Ride is a board game created by Alan R Moon. The game publisher Days of Wonder first offered this game in 2004. It has grown to be one of the most popular board games in the world selling more than eight million copies all over the world.
The original version shows a map of the USA and southern Canada. Each player has a set of plastic trains and starts out with four cards that show train cars in different colors. When it is your turn you can add more cards to your hand or claim a route on the map. In order to claim a route, you must have enough cards of the same color as the track.
Each time you claim a route you are given points – the longer the route, the more points. This continues until one player has two or less train tokens left. The player with the most points win. To add interest to it, the player with the longest continuous train gets extra points.
The original game was a map of the USA but the game has become so popular that there are multiple versions of the game. You can now play it online, on your iPad or on Xbox. Although the basic concept is the same in each game, there are variations for each game that make it each one unique and keep it interesting.
We currently have:
Original Ticket to Ride (USA and Canada)
Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails (two-sided board with the world on one side and the Great Lakes on the other.) Since we live in Michigan, we love the Great Lakes side.
Our latest addition is Ticket to Ride the Heart of Africa
While this new game does add variety to our game nights and perhaps helps to keep our old age brains working, it is doubtful that it can totally take the place of Scrabble. We have had a long-term love affair with that game. We celebrated reaching 1000 games in 2020 – and while we continue to keep a record of our scores, I doubt we will ever make it to another 1000 games (since I am 74 and my husband is 82.)
If you are looking for a fun board game for yourself or for a Christmas present, I can recommend one of the many different versions of this interesting game.
As we hear a lot of debate now about whether or not we are/we should be a Christian nation, I would like to share the words of The Rev. Joseph Farnes, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Boise. I think he gives us much to consider.
“But let’s ask a question: What would a Christian nation really look like?
A nation that gives access to health care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay? Jesus healed a lot of people. He didn’t even ask whether they were employed or able to work.
A nation that supports education for all? Jesus taught the crowds openly and freely, and his disciples provided for material needs. Good thing Jesus wasn’t working on a teacher’s salary!
A nation that supports families and children — with access to nourishing food, clothing and community support? Where kids can go to school in safety, without fear of being murdered by someone with a gun? Imagine being eager to take care that there is no stumbling block for one of these little ones.
A nation that is slow to anger and abundant in steadfast love? Love toward neighbors and even enemies?
A nation that is quick to forgive crippling debts and burdens? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors!” Uh-oh, what about personal responsibility?
A nation that embraces refugees, remembering that Jesus, Mary and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt when despotic Herod targeted them?
A nation that prizes goodness and righteousness over wealth? “You cannot serve God and wealth,” as it says in Matthew 6:24.
Now that’s an interesting image of a Christian nation. Even so, I wouldn’t want the nation to be conflated with Christianity. As a faithful Christian, I want all these things for people, no matter their religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, abilities or lack of economic power. An America for all Americans.
Christianity should always push for greater goodness, greater justice, greater mercy, not greater power. That’s a Christianity worthy of the name of Christ.”
Those of you who follow my blog know by now that my husband and I are Scrabble addictions.
We have kept a record of our scores since 2008. Equally matched in skill, we usually remain only one or two games ahead of the other one.
Recently, however I seemed to be on a winning streak. As I was leading with four games ahead of my husband, he began to get nervous. If I got too big a lead it would be hard to catch up with me.
So when we sat down to play this week, he informed me he was out for revenge.
Boy did he get it!
For those of you who are not Scabble fans, you get seven letter tiles to make your words. If you can use all seven of the tiles in one word you get not only the actual points of the word you made, but an extra 50 bonus points.
He began the game by using all seven tiles and starting off with 50 bonus points. No big deal I thought. That early in the game I had plenty of time to catch up. But he did not stop there. Of the first six words he made, five were made using all seven tiles. Now he had 250 bonus points.
And the rest of the game was all in his favor! He not only won the game – he beat me by over 200 points.
Still, considering he had 250 bonus points I think I did okay.
Now he only has to win the next three games to be equal with me again.
Don’t think I am going to sit idly by and let that happen.
For some time I have been denying that I am having trouble hearing. Watching a movie or listening to my pastor on Sunday there are times when I will miss a complete sentence or two because I just cannot hear well. When listening to friends I find myself asking them “what” “huh” or just trying to guess what they said from the part of the sentence I did hear.
This is not good for meaningful conversation. Trying to “fill in the blanks” when you do not hear everything someone said can lead to real miscommunication.
My husband, who has worn a hearing aid for several years now, has pleaded with me to get a hearing test. I found myself turning the TV up louder and louder until he insists we must turn it down.
While I recognized I was not hearing well, I hated the thought of needing a hearing aid. Hearing aids to me were for old people and I did not want to accept that title for myself.
Still, I knew I could not deny my hearing loss much longer. Some days my husband would not put in his hearing aid because we were just staying at home and he did not want to bother with them. However, before much time passed I would insist he put them on because he kept denying he was not having trouble hearing – but I just needed to speak up.
When we began having that same conversation – but this time it was me who was insisting he was mumbling, I found it hard to deny I needed help in hearing.
The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak came on Easter Sunday. My youngest daughter and her family joined us for lunch. After lunch we took communion as a family. When my husband finished leading us through the sacraments, I thought he said he was going to pray. Bowing my head I kept waiting to hear him pray.
When several seconds had passed and no sound was coming, I looked up to see my family all looking at me. My daughter said in that exasperating tone that told me I needed to listen, “Mother, he asked you to pray.”
I quickly prayed and I knew I was going to be in trouble when I finished.
Again in that very exasperated tone my daughter declared, “Mother, you have to get a hearing test.”
I agreed. So – I scheduled an appointment.
No surprise – I failed the test. So now there’s the cost to consider. Good hearing aids are not cheap. I checked out different models. This one was the cheapest, but probably not the best.
Now that my husband and I both have hearing aids, buying Christmas presents for each other will be easier.
Only one thing wrong with having hearing aids. Now I can’t excuse myself from not listening to others by saying I just did not hear.
We began keeping score in 2008. We have the score books from all these years. My husband keeps score and he keeps tab of the total of games we each win – by how many points and even the seven-letter words we play.
At the beginning of 2020 we realized we were close to playing 1000 games – so we set a goal of doing just that. And with the year it has been cooped up at home – it was a good thing to keep us from going crazy!
We have the official Scrabble dictionary and after several challenges by me, my husband uses it a lot to make sure he is spelling the word correctly so I don’t challenge him again.
Being totally crazy, we even have a list of all the three-letter words in the dictionary – and we allow ourselves to use the list to help us make more points.
As we began the last game of 2020 I was one game ahead of my husband and I wanted to win this game and end this 1000 game stretch ahead. However, it did not start out too good for me. These were the letters I had – no vowels.
My husband’s hand was not much better. He had no vowels also but he did have a “y” which he could use. After playing the word “sty” I had to take a “0” for my first turn because I could not do anything with these letters. So – the game did not start off in my favor.
I gained the lead quickly and when we were about two-thirds done, I was ahead 487 to 434. However, it game turned to his favor when he was able to spell a seven-letter word which gave him 50 extra points and he won the game with a score of 711 to my 692.
So – after 1000 games in 12 years we ended all tied.
We each have won 498 games and we have four tied games.
A friend told me she found it hard to believe we were tied after all these games. She said she thought one of us was letting the other one win. Clearly she is not a very close friend because if she were, she would know we are too competitive for that.
Since it took us 12 years to reach 1000 games, I seriously doubt we will ever see 2000, but we can have fun continuing to challenge each other – and keep our old brains active.
My husband fell earlier this year and was rushed to the hospital for surgery following a brain bleed. I worried if he would still be able to compete with me in Scrabble. The doctors told us that one of the possible side effects of this injury was damage to his ability to speak or read and communicate. It was such a blessing to see that he recovered quickly and could keep me on my toes. We both think getting right back to Scrabble was a big help in that recovery.
I first posted this 6 years ago. This Christmas as we face gatherings that may be smaller than usual, family and friends we will miss seeing as Covid has restricted travel, it could be easy to get depressed or start complaining. I just want to encourage everyone to remember while our table may not be as loaded with food as usual, we are still much better off than many. Reach out and help someone this year. I saw a quote on FB that says it so well. “This may not be the year to get everything we want, but the year to appreciate what we have.”
What a great feast we had at Thanksgiving! Turkey, dressing, scalloped potatoes, corn, sugared carrots, salad, homemade bread, and of course, pumpkin pie.
After our Thanksgiving meal we had so much turkey left over, we cut it up and made soup with noodles and chicken broth. It was delicious and we used up our left over homemade bread with lots of butter!
Now it’s time to shop for the Christmas meal.
So many choices.
Shall we do turkey again or ham? Maybe some Cornish hens? Scalloped potatoes or mashed? Maybe some sweet potatoes? Same salad or a different one? Homemade bread again or shall we do dinner rolls? And dessert? Pecan pie, apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler?
So many choices.
That’s the story for most of us in the USA this year. However, in many homes across the USA – and certainly in the rest…
Every year the small town where I live has a Chalk Art Event. Local business owners sponsor an artist who designs a chalk drawing on the sidewalk in front of their stores. The small downtown turns into a great combination of chalk art, live music, food vendors and community engagement. It’s a great way to enjoy a Friday evening meeting friends, grabbing a coffee, food from one of the street venues or stopping in the local cafe.
Artists come early in the day and make their design.
That evening a map is provided with a list of all the drawings with the artists and the business that sponsors their work. Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite three entries and the top three with the most votes will receive a prize.
Who would you vote for?
My husband who is an artist and participates in some of the art events around the community had to pass on this one. His arthritic knees would never let him get back up if he sat down on the sidewalk to draw. But we both enjoyed the evening sharing with friends and neighbors the beautiful Friday evening in our small town.