July 8: I pulled out five dice, pushed aside the margaritas (at our church camp, “happy hour” is not limited to Sunday mornings), and invited my new 87-year old friend to play our family’s favorite bar game. My friend learned quickly and, as one does over dice and cocktails, told me about her 82nd birthday treat: riding a motorcycle.
Her daughter and son-in-law offered to take her on a motorcycle ride through the countryside. Mounting a helmet on her head and the rest of her on the seat of a three-wheeler, she wrapped her arms around her daughter and waited for the signal to roar off. But first she looked over her shoulder. Cresting the hilly road behind her was a third motorcycle, come to join her birthday ride. Then another and another — about 25 motorcycles in all, arriving at the invitation of her son-in-law.
Off they went, with my friend leading the way. “And we stopped at two biker bars!” she exclaimed. My friend also won our dice game.
Bonus (the Rules of Five Dice): You take turns rolling the dice to reach a point goal, such as 10,000 points. If you roll a five, that die is worth 50 points; a one = 100 points; three identical dice rolled at the same time = 100 x the face value of one die (including fives), with each subsequent matching die counting as an additional 100 (although 3 ones = 1,000); and a straight (again rolled at the same time) = 1,500 points.
Here’s the fun part: you roll five dice, sum up your scoring dice (e.g., 1 five + 1 one = 50 + 100 = 150 points), and then decide whether to risk those 150 points and roll the three non-scoring dice for a chance to score more.
You went for it! You set aside the five & one and rolled — three sixes! What?! That’s 600 points in addition to your original 150 points! Now you have 750 points . . . and a chance to roll all five dice again to score even more. (If all five dice are “scoring” dice, no matter the point value, you’re entitled to a new roll of all five dice.)
Do you go for it? Even though you have five dice and a good chance to roll at least one “scoring” dice, you also know that if you roll a 2+2+3+4+4 (= all non-scoring dice), you’ve just lost your 750 points!
You went for it again! You rolled 2 ones (= 200 more points) and a two, four and a six. (The six doesn’t give you a 100-point bonus because you rolled it in a new five-dice roll.) Now you have 950 points. Do you roll those last three dice for a chance of an even larger score, or do you lean back in your chair and smugly write 950 points on the score sheet? Take another sip of your favorite beverage and let me know…
p.s. If someone rolls 1+1+1+1+1 in one “drop” (as I call it), they automatically win the game, even if you are hovering at 9,980 points….
p.s.s. In our game, every player also needs to roll 750 points in order to get “on board.” But sometimes we lower the threshold or waive it entirely, depending on circumstances. This is now your game. Modify the rules anyway you want! And invent your own name for it. We did!
July 9: Speaking of games, on Thursday night, I enticed two new teenage friends to play my absolute favorite game, The Big Book of Madness. (You’ve heard me gush about this collaborative game before, and blogger-friend Laurie even bought the game for her daughter.) Exhausted by sun, socializing (and, yes, margaritas), I had intended to retire early that evening. But an opportunity presented itself and we played.
The object of the game is to destroy curses, cast spells and ultimately defeat the monsters without going mad. Hunched over a coffee table, we strategized together, took blows together and cheered our victories together as madness loomed ever larger. We (sort of) won both games. (I plumped the depleted “madness deck” with an extra card during the last round). And we staggered from the table after midnight. For me, that was the descent into madness.
As I promised my two teenage friends, I’ll definitely bring the game to Bethany Beach Family Camp next year.
July 10: Around midnight, I pulled my Prius to the curb at Washington Dulles Airport. Nate’s flight from El Salvador had arrived, and three tired surfers swarmed my car. With remarkable efficiency, teamwork and a half dozen straps (“this isn’t our first rodeo”), they fastened their surfboards to the smooth Prius top and climbed into my car. Nate drove, intending — per our agreement — to deposit me at home before dropping off his friends, their bags and their boards. Nate had also cautioned me that he and his friends would be too tired to tell stories, so I should be prepared to just sit quietly. (Really, I can do that.)
Gliding off the highway near our house, Nate pulled up to a mini-mart for coffee and snacks. The young men made their purchases and one turned to me. “You don’t have to get out of the car, you know. You can stay for the ride, and we’ll tell you all about our trip!” The other friend chirped agreement. I assented enthusiastically. (Nate is a good sport.)
Around 2 am, Nate pulled into our driveway. My body was now on El Salvador time, my mind was barreling with surfing stories, and my heart was overflowing with the kindness of Nate’s surfing companions. Each friend gave me a hug as he arrived home, calling me “Mama Ogle.” Nate told me they also say I’m the Patron Saint of Surfers. Amen to that!
July 11: Awakening late this morning, Nate proposed a café brunch with Jeremiah and me. (Hi, Kevin-in-the-Berkshires! We miss you.) Nate, Jeremiah and I sipped, nibbled, talked and walked. Then we went our separate ways.
Later, while I drove through town on errands, a song by Darius Rucker came on. From a dad’s perspective, it tells the story of a baby’s midnight crying, wailing daycare drop-offs, and teenage moodiness. The chorus comforts the dad: “It won’t be like this for long.”
In the last verse, the dad envisions the child grown up and gone. The dad sings the chorus again from the darkened nursery, promising to savor the fleeting moments and reminding himself It Won’t Be Like This For Long.
Bonus: My phone indicated this afternoon that Nate had stopped sharing his location with me. I hadn’t realized that he’d activated that feature in the first place. (Maybe to assist with our late-night airport rendezvous?) I’m laughing: of course he doesn’t want his mother to know where he is all the time!
July 12: At the coffee shop yesterday, Nate made easy friends with a little boy. (A child, encountering Nate in front of our house one day, had asked him, “Are you a teacher?” Recounting the incident, Nate told me, “They can smell it on me.”) In the course of their coffee shop conversation, Nate asked the little boy, “What’s your name?” The boy smiled from his sneakers to his eyebrows.
I considered the enormous generosity of that question. In conversations, I’ll introduce myself and then ask the other’s name. A polite transaction. But the way Nate did it, the question became an invitation to gentle intimacy, a zooming in between two people otherwise distanced by age, celebrity or other imbalance, a statement saying “you matter.” I mentioned this to Jeremiah. He reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when Nats baseball hero Daniel Murphy asked my name. And I recalled when young Hamilton actor Elijah Malcomb did the same thing as we chatted in a Des Moines hotel. I remember both times how delight shimmered through me.
And then I winced: last week, I didn’t ask the name of the coffee shop proprietor who serves me decaf and doughnuts on the Bethany Beach boardwalk. And there are other names I haven’t asked. I resolve to ask that question whenever I can. Not a transaction, a relationship.
July 13: Thanks to the efficiency of Washington DC’s Metro system, Jeremiah and I zipped into town today for the 12:05 pm Washington Nationals-Seattle Mariners game. (As Jeremiah put it, “I’m rooting for my two favorite Washington teams.”) In the ballpark, most of the crowd wore fluorescent tee shirts and were under five feet tall. It was “camp day” and children were everywhere.
From our seats, Jeremiah and I could see large splashes of neon pink, green, blue and yellow in the upper decks. And better, we could hear them: Every fly ball hit in their direction evoked shrieks of excitement. And even without prompting from the ballpark organ, they chanted “Let’s Go Nats!” Their voices pitched high, the pink group might start the cheer. The other colors swiftly joined them. “Let’s Go Nats! Let’s Go Nats! Let’s Go Nats!”
Adults (and I’m one) will cheer and clap about a half dozen times — and congratulate ourselves for a job well done. The pink, green, blue and yellow children, however, kept going. Their joy and energy made me smile. And, even though our team lost, I’m sure the Nats smiled too.
Bonus: Remember the jelly bean kayaks? My friend Lee — who exclaimed with me over the exploits of the Great Falls whitewater kayaks — found this amazing video of a kayaker navigating Fish Ladder/Back Canyon at Great Falls. Filmed from a helmet-mounted camera, the four-minute video shows an exhilarating pass through a series of narrow super-charged whitewater channels, including one I photographed with Lee in early June. At the 3:04 mark, you’ll see the bridge from which I made the photo. Linger a little longer and you’ll see the kayak jockey through an impossible gap. Looking at my photo below (of that impossible gap at Back Canyon), I still don’t believe it. Watch the video and marvel. And all this is 25 minutes from Washington, DC.
July 14: “If I give you a temporary tattoo like mine, you’ll remember coming over to play with me.” So said my three-year old neighbor Mae as she welcomed me to her playroom. I wore a top sprinkled with fish, along with my large fuchsia-and-aqua fish earrings, in case conversation flagged. Mae immediately fixed her eyes on my earrings. I took them off and placed the earrings into her hands.
And for the next 45 minutes (I am not exaggerating), they became Sammy and Sally; the pretend dishes, lettuce leaves and cupcake tops in her playroom became sponges and sea stars; a curved wood panel became a backdrop; and the entire pile became a vibrant coral reef — with Sammy and Sally “nestling” (as Mae said) in their colorful shelter. I became a shark (“A friendly shark,” Mae reminded me) and for a while we read a book about boats while we lay on the “sea floor” looking up at the surface where the boats would be.
Later, we built forts, played basketball and danced. Which was my favorite part? Making Mae and her little sister laugh, playing with our coral reef, building a fort with a very cool preschool Tinker Toy set? Yes … but I really (really) enjoyed the part where I got to lay down.
Readers, to receive notifications by email each time I make a post, just scroll all the way down this page (next to the “word cloud”), look to the left and click on the black button that says “Join Me!” And if you think a friend might enjoy these, please share the Delight!
If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!