July 7, 2005

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Typically one thinks of rest and relaxation as the results of a vacation. But as I rolled in to work on Tuesday following the Fourth of July, I was attempting to decide whether I needed to make a doctor’s appointment or simply schedule a few hours in the hot tub to work out the kinks.

As those of you that read this column have heard me whine all summer, my outdoor adventures have been limited thus far this summer. That all changed this past weekend as my wife’s annual family reunion meant that I was “required” to serve as entertainment director.

So after 36 holes of golf, swimming, volleyball, fishing and way too much sun, I was a bit wore down come my return to work.

The sunburn on my shoulders and back made it difficult to sleep, compounding my woes. Even without the skin troubles, I still would have been weary, as I don’t have the stamina I used to. Of course, I’m not always willing to admit that, meaning volleyball took its toll on my knees and a shoulder, injuries sustained diving for balls and other various futile efforts long past gone from my arsenal. My face was a bit sore as well as my ego after taking my share of spikes in the noggin. It seems like I’m not the only one who enjoys our “friendly” little family rivalries.

Golf isn’t a real dangerous pursuit. Still it can drain the batteries, especially when you golf all day long. I don’t think it helped that we stopped in the middle and stuffed ourselves on special steak sandwiches (one guy even “had them throw some cheese up on” his sandwich as they say up north). I was a glutton for punishment, topping my meal off with a slice of pie and ice cream. But instead of taking a nap like most sane overeaters would have done, I returned for another nine holes. Normally I would talk more about golf and less about the menu, but my fellow hackers asked me to show mercy.

Fishing seemed like a safe bet. I was able to escape the hustle and bustle of the full house and relax my aching muscles. I forgot the pain in my hamstrings when that fish flopped out of my hand leaving the hook behind, sticking out of my thumb. The first accident was a clean cut, simply splitting the edge of the skin. I apparently did not learn my lesson. A second bass struck back, dropping free from my grasp and flopping away into the water leaving me a parting gift of not one, but two prongs of the treble hook embedded just deep enough to make me wonder why I like fishing so much.

A couple quick jerks, a piece of tape, a little medicinal cream and I was no worse for wear. So much for taking it easy on my aching body.

Of course my fellow enthusiasts did not allow me to use my injuries as an excuse to sit out on any of the fun. I thought I was watching Top Gun as the volleyball grudge matches resumed. At least this year nobody spiked on any defenseless participants.

Ultimately we were forced to retire indoors when the sun left us no light. But the games continued. “Atlanta Fold’em” brought his poker chips and we played some Texas Hold’em, celebrity style.

For those of you interested in board games, I was introduced to a few new ones this trip. Auntie Becker brought us Blokus, a four-person board game that sort of resembles the video game Tetris, except you use the various shapes not only to play for your own score but to try to prevent your opponents from playing their pieces.

We also broke out the Scrabble pieces and played “Take Two” You simply turn over all the letters face down and each player draws five letters. The first one to use all five letters in a word(s) calls out “Take Two” and all players take two more letters. The process continues until all the letters are gone. The first person to use all their letters wins. Another variation is to start with seven letters and “take one”.

As I sit here aching and searching for my chiropractor’s phone number, I just wish I would have put on some sun screen and played a whole lot more board games. Maybe I shouldn’t whine so much about not getting out more often?

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