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The Benefits of Board Games

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of shopping for family members and friends this December? Tired of the latest electronic gadgets and gizmos?

Over the years, I’ve grown to value experiences more than things. Spending quality time with love ones results in closer relationships. This week’s post celebrates the benefits of board games. But not all board games are fun for everyone. Monopoly and Risk are both elimination games which take too long too play.

My favorite board games:

  • Keep every player hopeful that anyone might win.
  • Involve skill in addition to chance.
  • Are interesting.
  • Promote creativity.

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Many of you are already familiar with my family’s affection for Ticket to Ride. (Days of Wonder) After two years, we still play this game every Sunday afternoon. It’s developed into a habit we can’t seem to break. In this two to five player game each person draws tickets with specified routes. Players receive points for placing their train cars on tracks which connect various U. S. cities. At the end of the game, each player reveals their routes and completed trips. Points are either awarded or deducted based on the number of trips completed. All players remain in the game until the end and the winner is always a surprise.

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The 1910 expansion pack is a good idea for anyone purchasing Ticket to Ride. It contains larger playing cards and additional routes. At the end of the game a player can earn the fifteen point Globetrotter bonus card for the most completed trips.

 

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Our second favorite family board game is Beyond Balderdash.(Parker Brothers) This game has been around for awhile. We like it better than the original Balderdash because it includes a movie category. The object of Beyond Balderdash is to make up written answers which bluff the other players. A dasher reads all the answers submitted and includes the real answer in the mix. Points are awarded for fooling other players, as well as for choosing the real and often unbelievable answer.

My family members enjoy coming up with witty blurbs to describe each movie. The title of one movie was “Madhouse.” My husband, Herb submitted this summary: “An out of control builder takes his anger out on his wife by building her a two-story house without a staircase.” Beyond Balderdash inspires our creativity and can be played by as many as seven players.

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Lost Cities (Kosmos) is a card game for two players. Herb and I love this game because it’s very compact for travel and only takes thirty minutes to play. The object of the game is to form expedition routes and earn discovery points. Players draw cards and organize them in numerical order. At the end of each round, points are awarded for cards played which exceed the cost of each expedition.

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Splendor (Days of Wonder) is an artistic and mathematical game designed for up to four players. Each player takes on the role of a rich merchant during the Renaissance. As a merchant you collect gems and gold tokens that can used to buy development cards. Some development cards carry point values. Each player tries to be the first to reach the sum of fifteen points and win the game.

A good board game never goes out of style and can bring family entertainment for years. Leave a comment and let me know your opinion of any of these games, or offer a suggestion for something we haven’t tried.

 

Giving Thanks

Writers are always looking for inspiration. Like many people, I find inspiration in Scripture and nature. This month I decided to read a psalm every day and journal a few notes about each one. If I continue this habit I’ll finish the book of Psalms by the end of March. The chapters are short, poetic, and emotional. In many of the passages, David despairs about his enemies, but closes with a proclamation of faith in the power of God to help him. He thanks God for protection and provision. David often thanks God for simply being God.

Psalm 19 is one of my favorites. Here are the first several verses from the NIV:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run its course.

It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul.”

Wow! I hope this psalm blesses you as much it has blessed me. The heavens do declare the glory of God.  The stars do sing of his beauty and authority. The universal language spoken by his creation can be understood no matter what language someone speaks. I am humbled when I look at the work of his hands. It’s then that I’m reminded of how small I am and how much I need him.

The word holiday derives from “holy day.” A day set apart, not for the anticipation of Black Friday, but to give thanks to the one who set the planets in motion. Let’s remember to seek the giver of all things good.

The phrase “Happy Thanksgiving” is kind of an oxymoron. How can anyone give thanks and not be happy?

May your joy be full as you celebrate God’s goodness with loved ones this Thanksgiving.

Until next time…

 

 

 

Along the Cady Way Trail

Pushing on the pedals

Riding down the road

Wheels are spinning faster

Cares are letting go

I shiver in the shadows

Under live oak trees

Pendulums of Spanish moss

Swaying in the breeze

Riding through a clearing

Bright sun warms my face

Days are getting shorter

Time is hard to place

Autumn is a toddler

Playing guessing games

Silent when a stranger

Wants to know his name

Haven for the snowbirds

Flocking to the scene

Nature hums an endless song

In the key of green.

See No Weevil

Do you like oatmeal? It’s a nutritious and low calorie food. Oatmeal is even more nutritious if you throw a few weevils into your bowl. What? Weevils?

One morning I decided to prepare some of the oatmeal that had been sitting in my pantry for months. I think I should also mention I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time.

I scooped the oatmeal into a bowl, added the recommended amount of water, and slid the bowl into the microwave. When the cook time finished, I removed the bowl and carried it to the table. I mixed in a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar, poured a little milk on top, and began to eat while I scanned emails on my phone.

Suddenly I took a closer look into my bowl. What are those funny black specks? Hey, wait a minute, those don’t look normal. 

I walked back in the kitchen and opened the oatmeal container. Brown things were crawling inside! I felt sick to my stomach. Could those things be weevils in the larvae stage? Oh no, I already ate two spoonfuls. Of course, whenever anyone needs medical information, who should you turn to, but Google. Of course, Google knows everything.

Weevils are small beetles that feed on grains. Their larvae is often found in packaged flour, cornmeal, cereals, and dog food. Weevils don’t break inside sealed packages, they are already inside as eggs. When the time is right they hatch.

I was greatly relieved that according to my internet source, weevils are not harmful to people or pets. Heating kills them, so that made me feel a little better. One site even shared that weevils could be considered a protein source . Actually, all of us have probably eaten a few weevils during our lifetime. Maybe we were  totally unaware of their presence.

Even though I felt a little better, that doesn’t mean I finished my oatmeal.  I poured it down the garbage disposal and got rid of the whole package of oats. I decided to eat a bagel with cream cheese instead. This was not a time to think about losing weight. 

The moral of the story: Take a close look (with your glasses on) inside any container of grains in order to be sure you “see no weevil.”

Readers, I hope this story has brightened your election week. Tomorrow many of us may be voting on  “the lesser of two weevils.”

“Roughing It” at Silver Springs

Yummy! There’s nothing like a hotdog roasted over a campfire. Here I am with Team Buddy for another Florida State Park campout. I like to kid myself by thinking I’m “living off the land.” Pay no attention to our Viking trailer in the background. Which by the way is equipped with a microwave, air conditioner, and bathroom. Everyone needs a few creature comforts.

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During our latest adventure we spent a few days exploring Silver Springs State Park. In case you’re unfamiliar with Silver Springs, it was Florida’s first tourist attraction. The largest artesian springs in the world are located here. Everyday 550 million gallons of water flow out of the springs and into the Silver River. Visitors can take a glass bottom boat trip or rent a kayak and view the beautiful plants and animals which thrive in these crystal clear waters. The banks of  the Silver River provided a perfect place for settlers to build their homesteads. A replica village is open to the public at the Silver River Museum.  On weekends, visitors can walk through a pioneer settlement and hear stories of what Florida life was like in the 1890’s. Compared to the pioneers, my idea of “roughing it” is misinformed at best.

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The early settlers in Florida had to make or grow everything they used. The broom pictured above was created by tying a palmetto leaf to a branch.  Fire was always a threat to their homes. The area around the cabin had to be raked and swept of any debris which might burn.

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A family of eleven lived in this replica of their two room cabin. The parents slept in the bedroom with the baby. The boys slept on the porch. The girls slept on the floor of the sitting area. The bed in the corner was reserved for the teacher of the community. Teachers were not paid but received room and board in local homes.

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The kitchen was built separate from the sleeping area in order to keep the heat out of the house and reduce the fire risk. Gourds were used as pitchers. Various utensils were constructed from natural materials found in the woods. Sugar cane syrup was used as a sweetener.

Did you know that the term blacksmith was coined as a name for someone who works with black metal? IMG_6222

During our visit a museum volunteer, Al Duane, demonstrated how to make a metal hook. In this community the metal was shipped in by boat from the northern U.S.  Blacksmiths made nails, tools, and cutlery.  Each member of the family had one set of cutlery which was expected to last them until they grew to adulthood.

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I had to get a photo of the outhouse, complete with a corncob. With no running water, the pioneers only bathed once a month. They used lye soap which they made themselves.  If you didn’t let it cure for twelve weeks, it would tear your skin off. Each family member had two sets of clothes. Laundry was done with a washboard and a tub.

I think this is a pretty good description of “roughing it.” A trip to the Silver River Museum makes me appreciate the conveniences I have today.  The museum is hosting Ocali Country Days on November 10th and 11th, 2018. For more information about this educational event click on the link.

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Ocean View Camping at Gamble Rogers

Herb, Buddy, and I kicked off our fall camping season by spending two nights at Gamble Rogers. Upon our arrival, a friendly ranger greeted us with a smile. “Welcome to your new favorite park.”

She was right. We absolutely fell in love with our campsite which overlooked Flagler Beach. The rhythm of the waves provided a constant soundtrack, and the ocean breeze kept us cool. We felt fortunate to camp here. The park is small and campsites fill up quickly. We had waited months for an oceanside site.

Additional campsites are located near the Intracoastal waterway.  For a small park it has much to offer in the way of recreation. Visitors can swim, kayak, and bike on the A1A bike path.  A pet friendly beach is within walking distance just outside the park.

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We walked Buddy through the dog gate to a ramp that led down to the ocean. It was his first experience seeing anything so powerful. While Hurricane Michael was reeking havoc many miles away in the panhandle, its effects could be seen here. Buddy didn’t want to get near the water and prepared to make a quick exit. (Maybe he knew the red warning flags meant danger).

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In 1991, the heavy surf at Flagler beach claimed the lives of Florida folk musician Gamble Rogers and a Canadian tourist. Gamble tried to help the Canadian who was struggling to swim. Both men drowned. Before his tragic death, Rogers was known as “Florida’s Troubadour.”  As a folk musician, Rogers was recognized for his gifted guitar playing, singing, and storytelling. The park was renamed Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in his honor. Looking out over the powerful waves I’m reminded of how dangerous they really are. Yet, there are peaceful times as well, at dawn, when God reveals his glory in the sunrise.

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This short trip provided me with the opportunity to rest and reflect upon scripture.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Gamble Rogers laid down his life for a stranger. But maybe Gamble didn’t consider this person a stranger. Maybe he thought of everyone as a friend.

 

 

The Spark

A tiny spark ignites

the forest floor ablaze.

Red-hot flames surge high

Starlight eclipsed by haze.

Fire consumes the thicket

exposing blackened earth

A perfect bed prepared

expecting the new birth.

 

Old sequoia smolders

Its pulse begins to pound.

Dozens of roasted cones

Shed their seeds to the ground.

Nurtured by rain and sun

Unseen by human eyes,

Pushing up from the ashes

Tender seedlings rise.