Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still in the Game

Here are some clips of my dad, playing tennis with his son-in-law and his grandsons on Thanksgiving Day. They didn't exactly tear up the court out there, but, since my dad is almost 83 years old, I was just thankful that it was possible at all.

My dad is a pretty awesome guy, and I'm sure, having inherited his genetic qualities, I'll be out on the court myself when I'm a great-grandmother.
Oh wait.
I've never played tennis.
Well, I'll probably be reading up a storm, tearing up the library.
Just you wait and see.

Sunday Scribblings--Games

Thanksgiving Day

The family all came in for a feast of food and visiting. We actually had 24 people here. It was great.I'm stuffed, but two days of exercise have kept me from popping.
Here are various and sundry scenes from the bash. Thankfully, nobody burned the carrots this year. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, leaf salad, fruit salad, dressing, gravy, green beans and desserts piled higher than Mt. Kilimanjaro.

There were little corners of activity going on all day, and you just had to drift over into one to join. I tried to flit from one to the other...but I don't flit very well...scoot is more like it. On the Wii, four players were playing a "flash from the past" version of Mario...yes the very first one. Ah! Remember the little guy jumping over moving rock walls in the dungeon. This game had the added attraction of multiple players, however, and they could help each other out. Across the room a table of eight were busily drawing and guessing, playing a variant of the old telephone game mixed with pictionary in layers..draw, guess, draw, guess, draw, guess. When they weren't drawing or guessing, they were roaring with laughter. Serli, our Indonesian exchange student, added a great new dimension to the game. For instance, when she saw the clear illustration of a "trailer hitch" she couldn't remember the exact word, so she called it a "hooker". Of course, the next person, unsuspecting, drew...well you know. She was winking and everything. Actually, it was pretty rare that any word/drawing combo made it all around the table intact. The game was not only fun to play, but even watching was hilarious. In the den, the older set sat. There they were lined up on the couch talking to each other on their laptops and showing Mom how to access neat stuff on facebook. After a while, my brother-in-law and his two teen-aged sons headed for the tennis courts to take advantage of the perfect weather. Yes, that's my dad out there with them. Being almost 83 doesn't stop him from breaking in a new racket. It took him a while to warm up, but he and Barak ended up defeating Scott and Bodin. He and Zaya wore the identical blue guayaberas, so, of course, we had to have pictures of them together.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dallas: Circles and Lines

Every year, at about this time, my fellow teachers and I get to spend a couple of days at convention in Dallas. It's a relatively painless way to earn the continuing education credits we need; we only have to attend six seminars in the two days and there are many interesting presentations. We can sit in on sessions that deal with a multitude of subjects, ask questions, and spend some quality time in meaningful discussions with our colleagues. In addition to all that, we have hours of driving time to and from the convention...especially time sitting in the traffic. This gives us a deep and lasting appreciation for our uncomplicated life out here in rural Oklahoma where fifteen miles only take fifteen minutes to drive...and they are scenery filled minutes at that. Granted, there is scenery in Dallas, but if you look at it, you are liable to plow forcefully into the back of a line of traffic that suddenly stopped right in front of you to begin the slow funneling of four lanes down to two lanes for no apparent reason.

The convention is held every year at a large, glass, hotel, so I have to be careful with stones. It's a well-run, comfortable convention center, with carpet, architecture, and artwork reflecting a theme--all lines and circles, beautifully coordinated, like planets and plumb lines. In the background, someone is always playing ambient music--trumpet or piano; it makes you pad noiselessly down the long, quiet hallways with a swing to your step, feeling like you are in a movie and wondering when the music will modulate to a minor key and the desperate chase scene will begin.
The hotel itself is like a living biome. Everything is quietly running, as if someone left things turned on: Water runs from the atrium cafe, around in a circle to fall quietly down to the lobby pool; curving escalators run endlessly beside it; straight lines of glass walled elevators run constantly up and down--beads on a string with lights all around like so many bathroom vanity mirrors. Along the edges of the wide rooms and corridors run whispering servants like meek, brown mice; they congregate backstage--in bone, bare halls behind the walls where the stairway exits lead.

In a corner of the atrium, past the empty bar and grill,there's a little cafe. You can slide in there quietly after seven, and pay eighteen dollars for their breakfast buffet, or you can get by on the coffee that comes with your room, and buy a banana for a dollar and a half in the hall next to the general assembly. There's a Starbucks in the lobby, but there are no vending machines with little packages of crackers and peanut butter.I did finally discover a coke machine on the third floor. I found the pool too--a small one being totally occupied by a gentleman reading his paper in the early morning cold

Speaking of early morning...that hotel had a lot of it.
Well, maybe I should explain that. I'm not used to noise--city noise that is, so I woke up at five thirty each morning, showered, dressed, and slipped out of the room so I wouldn't wake the other two teachers--those with aspirations of sleeping until eight o'clock.
Anyway, as I roamed around looking for a chair, a table, and an isolated place to grade papers, I took pictures, rode the glass-walled elevators up and up through the gridded roof at the sixteenth floor until I reached the twenty seventh, which is as high as any human should ever have to go without an airplane under her. It didn't take me long to push the down button, and hold my stomach all the way back to inside views overlooking the grand lobby. Every now and then along the walls, there were bubbled balconies covered with ivy basking in the light of higher bubbles. I noticed that when my camera lens focused on the oval carpet by the elevators, It gave it an unusual bubble shape of its own. More circles and lines.
By the time convention was over, and we had braved rush hour traffic in Dallas, I felt like I had my own circle/line theme going: My head was going in circles, and I just wanted to make a bee-line for home...ah...quiet foggy streets in the morning.