Bowling is Right Up Our Alley

I was running a little later than I’d planned and found myself watching the clock as I headed for the freeway entrance. The newbies were going to be there and I’d promised to show up a bit early in case anyone felt uncomfortable walking in amongst a group of strangers. I pulled into the parking lot and immediately noticed Alishea just stepping out of her car. Good. I wasn’t totally late!

We walked in together through the bar entrance and there they were, the lady bowlers! It was so good to see them after a summer apart! Hugs and hellos were exchanged as friends caught up with one another’s’ summer adventures. Soon, our secretary announced that the season kick-off meeting was ready to begin and she herded everyone into the banquet room.

There have been a few changes since we were last together. We’re a small league and we only had five teams last season, as few as the management would allow while still supporting us as a league. When at the end of last season, a few of our bowlers announced they weren’t returning, it looked like we were going to be down to four teams. A few of the girls were left without a team and it looked like our league might have to fold. I love this league. I wasn’t letting it go without a fight.

As soon as I knew we were in trouble, I started asking everyone I knew if they were interested in joining our Monday women’s bowling league. One of my favorite coworkers, Belinda enthusiastically agreed to join. Three girls from our Saturday couples league were interested. And one woman who I met at the state tournament last spring and who had passed me her phone number, agreed to join, even though she didn’t quite remember me when I called her a couple of weeks ago.

We had a fifth team again!

Our first order of business was to introduce the newbies – Megan, Jodi, Dori, Belinda and Alice – and they were graciously welcomed. The “orphans” from last season whose team had disbanded were absorbed into vacant spots on two of the other returning teams. Once the teams were established, we reviewed the bylaws and voted to do away with a few rules, like the one that says you have to wear a team shirt or pin, or else pay a dollar for each time you’re caught “out of uniform.” None of the other leagues require team shirts anymore. And being as we’re such a small league, this rule wasn’t a money-maker anyway. Everyone was glad for the new “free-dress” rule.

Some of the standard, but necessary rules were reiterated, like the one that says a late bowler can make up her missed frames as long as she arrives and starts before the end of the fifth frame. Everyone looked at one person and shouted, “GLORIA!” The room erupted in laughter. Gloria is eternally late for bowling.

Responsibilities for Fun Nite and the end-of-season banquet were handed out. My team is in charge of the banquet this year. Seems like every year we end up running one or the other. But we don’t mind. Our team puts on the best fun nights and banquets. Everyone always tells us so.

Once the bylaws were finalized, I agreed to do my presidential duty and type them up all nice and pretty within two weeks, just in time for the first night of bowling. The meeting adjourned and we headed back to the bar for some drinks and to continue the conversations that seemed to never want to end.  It’s going to be a fun season!

Us and our favorite opponents

Us and our favorite opponents

October in July

We had a little get-a-way planned last weekend – a couple of days at a cabin with a bunch of bowling friends. It’s become an annual event and last year, the weather was gorgeous. We spent hours on a pontoon in our bathing suits, puttering around the lake, soaking up the sun, enjoying some drinks and generally having a good time. We were looking forward to more of the same this year.

But no. The sun was scarce and the air felt more like fall than summer.

Platte Lake 3There was no boating, no swimming and there were definitely no bathing suits. Instead, there were sweatshirts, jackets and bonfires – not for roasting marshmallows, but for keeping warm.

Platte Lake 4But we still had fun. We played bar Bingo. And didn’t win.

Platte Lake 1There was some good fishing.

Platte Lake 5We played badminton and bean bags.

Platte Lake 2There were a few rounds of bocce ball. I’d never played before this weekend and discovered I’m pretty good at it!

020And there were yummy drinks that tasted like homemade apple pie.

018We had a dinner of the best ribs and brisket I have ever tasted, prepared and smoked for hours by our pal, Richie. We slept late in the mornings and grazed on breakfast food, lounging in our pajamas and sipping coffee until late morning. When it was too dark and cold to stay outside at night, we played a game called Guesstures, (kind of like charades,) girls against the guys. The girls always won! There was endless conversation, much laughter and general silliness.

007Whether next year brings sunshine and warmth, or clouds and cold, I’m looking forward to doing it all over again!

“Twin” Bowlers

Maybe because I’ve spent so much time worrying about my parents lately, Monday bowling league was an especially welcome break this week. Of course, I always enjoy Monday night bowling. It’s fun! It’s girls night! What’s not to love?

Our team loves the Who’s Up? team. They are a group of women who have been friends for a long, long time. Most of them are retired now and they come together every Monday for bowling and friendship. They are fun and funny and always seem to be laughing. They tell stories and make jokes and sometimes they dance a little bit. (I asked Carol to do the Mashed Potato one time and without missing a beat, she did!) We Ball Busters have a strong admiration for these ladies and the feeling seems to be very mutual. We always joke that if the league ever breaks up, our two teams would happily continue to show up every Monday anyway and just bowl against each other week after week.

A while ago, someone decided that each Ball Buster had a “twin sister” on Who’s Up?. We each relate to one of the ladies in some way. Joan claimed Carol as her twin. Alishea claimed Gloria, (probably because they’re each the youngster on their teams!) I claimed Marje, and she instantly welcomed me as her “sister.”

Last week we realized our teams would be bowling against each other. Someone decided we should dress alike and we each agreed to wear the same color as our twin. (This didn’t end up being as impressive in reality as was imagined, but it was fun anyway.) And so last night we bowled. We were, of course, the last ones done bowling, because there was so much talking and laughter and lollygagging. We beat ‘em two to one resulting in a tie for second place in the current standings. When it was all said and done, we commemorated the evening with a photo.

Bowling Buddies!

Bowling Buddies!

That’s Michelle and Sharon in pink, Joan and Carol in “pure-as-the-driven-snow” white, (Cough! Cough!) and Alishea and Gloria in red. I’m next to Marje in the back, wearing yellow and Pat and Lori wore black. Over the course of just a few years, seeing each other once a week, we’ve come to know a bit about each other’s lives and formed a special bond. These women are a big part of why I love to bowl so much.

Happy Hour with Larry

As I was leaving work I was asking myself, “WHY am I going to a happy hour with Mark’s coworkers?”

I hardly ever make it to happy hour with my own coworkers. But Mark has worked with Larry since he first started his job, right around the time we began dating. Larry suffered a severe burn while on the job in those early days and that’s when I got to know him and his wife, Jeannie. Larry was in the hospital burn unit with all these bandages on his leg. It was kind of scary, but he came through it alright and went back to work for many more years.

I remember dancing with Larry at my wedding. His leg was still all wrapped up. I remember him making a remark about not having to let someone else dance with me because he was special with all those bandages on his leg.

Now Larry is retiring. It doesn’t seem like that many years could have passed, but we’re all getting old now. Larry sent me an email on Monday, saying, (and I quote,)” HEY TERRI WED 20TH AFTER WORK COME ON DOWN TO THE POINT FOR A BEER  MARK IS BUY N”

I thought about whether or not I wanted to go to a hole-in-the-wall bar after work on Wednesday to drink with Mark’s coworkers. And then I remembered, it’s Larry. He’s kinda special. So I responded, “Sounds fun! See you then!”

Larry replied, “SWEET”

(Punctuation is not a requirement in Larry’s world. Nor are lowercase letters.)

So I left work this afternoon and the whole while I was driving to The Point, I was thinking how much I’d rather just go home and see my dogs and kick back in the recliner and watch The United States of Tara on Netflix. (Darn my daughter for getting me hooked on these t.v. shows!) But as I arrived, there was Mark, waiting for me outside the entrance of The Point and thanking me for coming and telling me how important it was to Larry. And then we walked in and there was Larry and he was wrapping me up in a huge Larry bear hug and telling me how happy he was that I had come to help him celebrate his retirement. And soon someone was putting a beer in my hand and Mark was walking me around, introducing and reintroducing me to his coworkers whom I may or may not have met over the twenty-five plus years he has worked for his company. Seemed like everyone was named Bob or Dave and I couldn’t keep all the Bobs and Daves straight. Many of them hugged me and told me how good it was too see me. I remembered Jolene from Larry’s daughter’s wedding and reception a few years ago. I remembered how much fun (too much!) that Jolene and I had had that night. 

I finally got to meet Sumitra. Mark has often talked about Sumitra and how much he likes her. The woman had me in hysterics, telling a tale about some acquaintance who had undergone plastic surgery and imitating this person’s facial expressions … or lack thereof. I’m not kidding. I nearly peed my pants. And it was all over for me when she began to imitate Jolene’s various southern accents. Which one Jolene uses is apparently dependent on who she is speaking to and which part of the South they are calling from. I quickly forgave Mark for having a workplace crush on Sumitra.

Dave and Mark and Dave. Or is it Bob and Mark and Bob?

Dave and Mark and Dave. Or is it Bob and Mark and Bob?

Soon I was catching up with the other guys’ wives and we were all asking each other why we don’t get together more often. Larry was never without at least two beers in his hands and he was busy hugging all of his guests over and over again. I had all but forgotten my earlier complaints to myself about attending this shindig, I was having so much fun. But soon it was time to eat some dinner and the crowd began to disband. Larry was going to need a designated driver. Thankfully Jeannie was there to drive him home. Jolene was hugging me and kissing my cheek and insisting we do this more often. I promised her we would definitely do this again soon… at Larry’s surprise birthday/retirement party in a few weeks. (Shhhh! Don’t tell Larry!)

Good people these are that Mark works with. I had a good time. I’m glad I went after all. It was definitely a happy hour.

Loungin’ at the Lake

We love our friends from the Saturday night bowling league. They are such generous, kind, welcoming and fun people! And we miss each other over the summer months when we don’t see one another so often. So it was decided there should be a “weekend.” This weekend was to take place at Paul and Megan’s family cabin, which is “up north.” (Everything more than an hour north of the Twin Cities is considered “up north.” The cabin is about two hours north, which makes for a good weekend get-a-way.)

There were five couples able to make it to “the weekend.” Three of them arrived Friday evening. I, being in desperate need of a change of scenery, really wanted to go on Friday, but Mark and I just couldn’t make it work. Word has it that the Friday night couples stayed up all night long. I’m not such a night owl. Maybe it was best that we got a good night’s sleep and arrived fresh and energized on Saturday morning.

We arrived in the late morning, just as the all-nighters were coming back to life. Jodi wasn’t looking so lively. She was sitting quietly in a lawn chair in her sweats and a sweatshirt, looking like she could use another few hours of sleep. The rest of them were dressed in their bathing suits and before I could set my purse down, there was a Bloody Mary in my hand. Mmmmm, it was good! I really must learn to make a good Bloody Mary. Before I finished my drink, I went inside to put my suit on too. Then we all convened around the picnic table and Bonnie insisted that everyone must have a tattoo. They were fake and glittery tattoos and everyone ended up with several. I was informed that no pictures were allowed during the weekend, but I managed to snap a few that no one could be opposed to being published here.

Mark never cooperates for pictures. Can you see his tattoo on his face? Can you find Dori’s tattoo?

After everyone was sufficiently tattooed, we piled onto the pontoon boat for a cruise around the lakes. We brought plenty of food and drink and the sun was gracious enough to shine for the majority of our cruise. The moon was spotted a time or two as well! ;-) We crossed paths with many other boaters, always asking the fishermen and women how many they caught. There were other boats full of families and friends out enjoying a fine day as well. We were a friendly bunch and shared many laughs with many other “lake people.”

After our boat cruise, it was back to the cabin for some yard games, more drinks and some music. Sorry, but I’ve been forbidden to post pictures of us dancing on the picnic table to ABBA’s Mamma Mia! Suffice it to say that everyone was feeling pretty good by this time. Can ya tell?

Pauly, feelin’ good!

Some of us prepared dinner while others played cards in the gazebo or played bean bags out in the yard. Then together we enjoyed a delicious meal of hot beef sandwiches, tortellini salad, sweet corn and an assortment of other side dishes. Afterwards, we were so full we could barely move. The guys congregated outside while the girls relaxed on the porch. Bonnie insisted on giving all of the girls a foot rub. And let me just say, I would pay good money to have one again!

Mike, enjoying a cigar!

Someone had made sure there was a good bonfire burning and after dark, we all circled around it, talking, telling jokes and stories, playing games and laughing until our stomach muscles ached. Somewhere near midnight, the all-nighters began to lose steam, which was fine with me. Being the early riser that I am, I don’t make a very good night owl.

I slept like a baby on what was described as “the marshmallow bed.” I guess the beds in your typical lake cabin don’t tend to be of the highest quality, but it made little difference to me. I was tired and didn’t get up the next morning until after nine o’clock. Sunday morning was overcast and cooler, but perfect for a leisurely breakfast and coffee out on the deck. We all lounged around until well after lunch time, leisurely packing up this and that and preparing to head home again. Everyone seemed reluctant to break up the party.

“We need more time,” they said.

“I wish we had an extra day,” they said.

“I have a hangover,” someone said.

“Can’t wait to do it again next year,” someone said.

Like all good things, it was over too soon. But I have a feeling the stories will live on for years to come.

Bowling Skillz!

I just couldn’t let this one go by without a mention -

My summer bowling team has achieved first place!

1st Place, Baby!

That’s us – Well Oiled - up there in the yellow highlight. Have I mentioned this year’s team name? I think I might have. It was a compromise after much discussion. Team member Preacher Dave who is not really a preacher insisted we have a “good” team name this year. We didn’t let new member Troy participate in the team name choosing because he’s the new guy. Also, I don’t think he cared. Dave had lots of ideas but I rejected all of his potential team names due to the fact that they all contained the F-word and/or references to sex. Dave is a highly intelligent man. He’s an architectural engineer who owns his own business. I think his use of naughty words at the bowling alley makes him feel as if he’s rebelling just a little bit. I think Dave’s inner bad boy comes out at the bowling alley. And if his wife knew the team names he suggested, she would beat the crap out of him. Dave would say he could take her. I’ve met her. She totally could beat the crap out of him. But Dave is constantly defending his toughness, saying he may be thin, but he’s “wiry.”

I’ll let you be the judge. Preacher Dave – Intimidating or not?

 

I’m pretty sure I could take him. In fact I punched him last night. He punched me first. But he was the only one who grabbed his shoulder and whined, “OWWW!”

Anyway, this first place business … I was actually shocked to see this. I read the standings and then hollered over to Dave, “Hey, guess what place we’re in!”

“Ummm, I dunno. Twelfth?”

(Twelfth place is actually a legitimate guess. Trust me.)

So when I revealed that we were actually in first place, he insisted I take a picture and text-message it to Troy who was absent due to being on a fishing vacation in Canada. Fishing in Canada over bowling? Where are the man’s priorities.

And actually, I should clarify that we were in first place for one lovely week, but lost that honor straight-away when we got our butts handed to us last night. So you can see why it was so important to make note of the prestigious but fleeting first place honors.

Oh well. We don’t bowl for the prestige. We bowl for the fun of it. And we are really good at having fun. Unfortunately, there’s no ranking system for being fun. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Summer Days

We are right in the heart of summer and I’m loving it!

My friend, Kendra invited me to her house last weekend. Her neighborhood is built around a 25-acre lake and she asked if I wanted to come worship the sun with her. (I did.) Mark had gone back to work after having several weekends off. The kids were off doing their own thing. It was perfect timing and turned out to be an absolutely perfect, sun-shiny and hot summer day!

Lake Anne

The lake was so quiet and clear! As we floated out on our rafts, I could look into the water and watch schools of little Bass and Sunfish swimming by. One of them tried to eat my leg, but it didn’t hurt. It just surprised me!  Kendra and I talked and laughed and reminisced together for hours! Kendra has a fabulous summer tan going on, but my skin hasn’t seen much sun yet. I brought my sunscreen and applied it several times, but apparently not often enough for the amount of time I spent in and on the water. I spent the next three days suffering the sting of a decent sunburn but now have a decent tan to show for it.

At home in the back yard, the bird feeders are a busy hang-out for the local creatures. We’re having trouble keeping them filled! The squirrels aren’t helping matters. The little Red Squirrel isn’t making any friends either.

Red Squirrel

… chasing a Grey Squirrel …

… establishing dominance!

And even with weather as beautiful as we’ve had, there is still bowling! Summer league is almost done and it’s been a big challenge. I did well last night though.

TURKEY!

The game in the picture above ended with a score of 194 for me! My other games were in the 150s and 170s. I’m always happy to bowl just for the fun of it, but it’s always nice to score well too!

Independence Day

It was a typical July day, sunny and hot. A hundred degrees, in fact. The pop and boom of fireworks filled the air all afternoon. The heat didn’t keep the kids inside and it didn’t stop them from running and playing either. They played football in my sister’s back yard until their cheeks were red and their hair was soaked with sweat. The adults sat under the shade of a sprawling shade tree, drinking cold drinks and watching the kids. Inside, there was more food than we could ever hope to eat. It was a great way to celebrate freedom!

Motor Boatin’

Heather, Brad and Me

I had a house full of “kids” this weekend. I love a house full of kids! It had been about two months since Brad’s last visit, so it was high time he came home for a while. He, Heather and Dacotah Dog arrived Thursday night and I was SO happy. Lucy was happy too. She thinks that Brad and Heather belong to her and she takes full possession of their attention every chance she gets. And she was ecstatic to have another dog to play with for a few days. Good thing Brad is a dog lover. When he’s home, he gets to sleep sandwiched between two dogs.

It was a great weekend. Saturday brought sunshine and blue skies and plenty of heat. And as luck would have it, our good friends, Bill and Tammy invited us out for a day on their boat on the St. Croix River. We packed a cooler and put on our suits and sunscreen. Bill took us up the river, north of Stillwater where there was less boat traffic. The day was calm and the scenery so peaceful and after we’d gone quite a ways, he turned off the engine and just drifted back downriver slowly. Brad and Bill took turns climbing on to the roof of the boat and jumping in the water. Afterwards, the rest of us took turns floating behind the boat, lounging in the sun and talking about everything and anything.

Mark and Captain Bill

Sara and Brad

Scenery

It was a perfect day and it felt so good to just kick back and relax with family and friends. We were home by mid-afternoon and the girls and I did some shopping. I scored the deal of the day – sixteen place settings of Rachel Ray dinnerware for 75% off! (Thank you, Gordman’s!) When I brought all the boxes of dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls and coffee mugs in, Mark looked at me and said, “What did you do? How much did all this cost?”

“Under seventy bucks,” I said.

“No way,” he said!

“Way!” I said.

Needless to say, he was proud of my bargain hunting skills and I was happy to have finally found a new set of stoneware for our kitchen.

Everyone was sleepy by late afternoon after all of that sun and water and shopping. We lounged in the living room watching movies and napping and then squeezed in a visit to Grandma and Grandpa before having a late dinner of grilled fish and steaks, grilled asparagus, and a colorful garden salad. Dinner was topped off with blonde brownies, fresh from the oven, courtesy of Kacey. Yum!

Sunday came too soon. Brad and Heather left before noon, planning to make a stop at Heather’s parents’ house before going back to Fargo. It always feels too quiet after they’re gone. It’s happy chaos when the house is full and I find I don’t mind the mess and clutter so much. I made them promise to try to come back at least once more before the summer is over. Just a few more months until Brad graduates and then hopefully they’ll be moving closer to home again!

Getting Old Doesn’t Always Suck

Getting old sucks. I hear the phrase all the time and even say it myself now and then. But never has it felt more true than this weekend. For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been working out almost daily. I’ve found a couple of fitness classes that I just love, Step Aerobics and Body Works. Both include ab work and I feel so good after I’ve finished a good workout. My muscles have ached more than ever in the past month, but in a hurts so good sort of way.

And then came yesterday. I had plans to go to the gym at 8:30 a.m. for Step Aerobics and then stay for the 9:45 Body Works class. While getting ready to go, I was reaching up and behind my head, pulling my hair into a pony tail. In the process of doing so, I felt a sudden pull and then a burning pain in my neck and right shoulder. It wasn’t a completely unfamiliar pain. I’ve had my share of pulled muscles in my neck and back over the years. I seem to be susceptible. But normally, I experience this particular pain for a good reason, like physical labor. But brushing my hair? Seriously? Who pulls a muscle while brushing their hair? Getting old sucks!

Regardless of the muscle pull, I went to the gym. I figured that exercising might do my neck muscles some good. I made it through both classes, but skipped s few of the exercises in the Body Works class when I knew I’d be putting undo strain on the aching muscle. Then I went home and found the Advil!

Last night we had our couples bowling league and I blame my lame muscle pull for the way I bowled, which is to say, not good. I only bowled over my average in one game! But I had fun anyway. We always have fun with our bowling buddies. It’s become routine to meet for dinner with five or six of the other couples before we have to be at the bowling alley. We take turns picking the restaurant. Once we’ve all gathered, we’re usually the biggest, loudest group in the restaurant. So we’ve made it a habit to choose sports bar/restaurant type places that tend to be a bit on the loud side anyway.

It seems that these gatherings start earlier each subsequent time we get together. Bowling starts at 6:30. And initially, we’d choose a place near the bowling alley and meet around 5:00. These days, we’re gathering by 4:00 and we have such a good time eating, drinking and socializing, that by the time we have to leave for bowling, someone inevitably asks, “Why don’t we just skip bowling?”

But as much as I enjoy the social time with our friends, I also really enjoy bowling. So I’m glad we go.

The group didn’t want to part ways after bowling was done last night, so we stayed. We talked. We joked. We laughed. And we made plans for the summer when we won’t have our bi-monthly bowling night to keep us getting together. Last August, one of the couples invited the rest of the group to their family cabin for a weekend at the lake. Mark and I missed out on the weekend as we had a wedding to attend and boy, we never heard the end of it as to what a good time we missed out on! There was plenty of food and plenty of drink. There was plenty of sun, warm temperatures, boat rides on the lake and swimming off the dock. There was music and laughter. There were card games and games of bean bag toss.

Now that the bowling season is winding down, plans are being made for summer fun and another weekend at the lake is in the works. And am I ever looking forward to joining the gang this time around! While we hung out last night, plans began to take shape for the second annual event. The drinks continued to flow for some of the group. The more drinks consumed, the bigger the plans became. What started out as “a weekend,” soon turned to “a long weekend.” Someone proposed we all take off Friday that weekend and make it three days. Then a Thursday start was proposed.

The group continued to reminisce about last year even as plans for this year were taking shape. I wondered if any event to come could possibly live up to the fun and laughter that was remembered from last year. But I’m sure willing to give it a try!

Mark and I limited our drinking last night. He was driving and I simply didn’t want to overdo it. We had hoped to leave for home at a fairly early hour, but we were responsible for driving some of the others home and it seemed each time we were ready to call it a night, someone came back to the table with more drinks. Finally, near midnight, we said we were heading out, ready or not. The others readily finished up their drinks and we all piled in the car where talk of last year’s party weekend continued. The stories shared, even though they were now being repeated from tales told earlier in the evening, seemed funnier than ever and laughter filled the car.

Someone suggested we start this year’s “weekend” on Wednesday and end it on Monday.

It was comical to watch our friends as they exited the car upon arriving at each of their homes. Clearly, some of them had had a little too much to drink. I doubt that today anyone is still thinking it’s a good idea to have our party “weekend” start on Wednesday and go until Monday. I’m pretty sure that a few people are realizing today that they are not as young as they used to be and that if such a long party weekend were to take place, most of us would “poop out” well before the weekend was over. But whether it ends up being just a regular weekend or an extended weekend, I am sure looking forward to spending some extended time with our friends. I love those guys! They keep me feeling young, even as my age insists on creeping up on me!

Getting old does suck sometimes, but it has its benefits. Our kids are old enough to take care of themselves for a few days while we get away. We’ve earned the ability to spend time with adults again and enjoy it without feeling guilty. I guess getting old isn’t always so bad.