Monday, November 21, 2011

Absolutely Scrabulous

I'm 30 years old and I just learned to play Scrabble.  I know, it's like meeting a college kid who doesn't know how to drive.  I've resisted board games for years because of my propensity to being a sore loser. Since I'm trying to cross things off my list, it's time I got over it and join, even if I can't beat 'em.

The women in my family have a gift for Scrabble playing, but I never got that gene.  My mom is particularly strategic and can crush her opponents by over a hundred points.  She is so cute and seemingly harmless when she plays games, so new opponents never see it coming.  She learned from her mother, who was especially merciless at games.

I asked her to teach me.

I love vocabulary, language and word games.  I played the app with my best friend on Facebook and always got creamed.  Turns out there were a lot of rules I didn't know.

"Mom's really good," my brother warned me.

"I'm really bad," I warned her.  So we played an open hand and took it step by step with her Mr. Miyagi to my Ralph Macchio.

Did you know that different tiles have different point values?  And that you can tack one letter onto places that can make it two words, giving you points for tiles that weren't even yours?  Here I thought it was just about getting rid of all your tiles!

I got a seven-letter word in that open hand (so what if it included a trade with my mom) and learned some clever tricks.  Like always respect the two letter words.  You can't go wrong with the X tile.  No looking up words before your turn.  And if you put down a made up word and are challenged and proven guilty, no points for that round.

I'm sure my grandmother up in heaven is smiling down on the birth of a new Scrabble player.  I still have my work cut out for me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On Board the California Zephyr

It seems it's been a week or two since I mentioned my latest whereabouts, or how much I love trains (I know, regular readers all know this about me).

The end of last month I hopped on an Amtrak to Colorado for some necessary family time.  The great thing is you can book last minute for a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket.  It takes a little longer, but is well worth it with more space, gorgeous scenery, no issues with baggage and a stress-free journey.  Here are some photo highlights of one of the most beautiful train routes:

 Celebrating the gold rush in Marshall, CA ...

 Through the Sierra Nevadas ...

 Donner Lake ...

And a beautiful desert sunset over Nevada.

When I wake up, I'll have breakfast with my brother!  This beats stressful air travel any day.

The Woodpile

For the first time in my life, I'm living in a place where I have to find my own source of heat.  The plus?  It's cozy, toasty woodfire stoves.  The minus?  You have to stack your own wood.

The once a day sawdust pressed logs I used last year won't cut it in my new place.

But hey, at least it's a great workout.  Did you know that stacking wood (or better yet, chopping) burns more calories than running?

I won't have to worry about my exercise this winter.

But wait, there's a whole other shed waiting to be filled!  I'm definitely not in the city anymore.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I'm a little late since I'm still recovering, but Happy Halloween!  I went out with my sister-in-law and her buddies, who kindly lent me a costume.

Thought I found my brother Superman, but realized he was actually Sloth from The Goonies.  Oh well.  At least there are lots of Superman fans out there.

Hope you had a great one!