Posts Tagged ‘recreation’

My Visit to Authentic Scotland (Sort of)

Recently, my wife and I spent a day exploring Scotland. Okay, technically we didn’t actually travel all the way to the land of Braveheart. But we did the next best thing: We went to a traditional Scottish Highland Games. If you’ve never been to a Highland Games before, it’s a lot like Game of Thrones, but with seriously overweight people who can’t get dates and have no business wearing kilts, along with booths selling Haggis, meat pies, and funnel cakes. But unlike Game of Thrones, I’m happy to report there were very few fatalities.

My wife is Canadian. Her grandmother immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland with quite a set of pipes – bagpipes, that is. Every visit to Grandma’s included a concert of bagpipe music, complete with Amazing Grace as the grand finale. Apparently, this is how they punish children for misbehaving in Canada.

It turns out I too have some Scottish ancestry – 1/8th – which qualified me for 10% off on a raspberry scone at MacGregor’s Scones ‘n Cones at the fair. My lineage is through the Hanna clan and can be traced all the way back to the year 1215, to a tiny town in southwestern Scotland called Sorbie. (True!) There is even a 15th century castle there that belongs to my clan, but it’s largely a ruin now. It figures. My ancestors never took good care of their stuff.

To venture into the Games, we traversed a rickety drawbridge through towering castle walls all made from traditional Scottish plywood, reinforced with authentic Scotch Tape. I could smell the earthiness of moors as we passed the Honey Bucket porta potties. I started to tear up as the strains of a tartan-clad marching band wafted through the air. I could imagine my ancestors trading their wares as I meandered past vendors hawking t-shirts and mugs with expressions like “If it’s not Scottish, it’s Crap.” 

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  • Hoot Mon, Timothy! Ye gee us a great read. I'm thinkin' ye'd look real posh in a kilt…
    Eleanor Rushworh
  • Published On Aug. 05, 2017 by TEJ
  • Day at the Museum

    As a good husband, I try to feign interest in my wife’s favorite passions. It’s easy when we’re talking kittens or kayaking. But the next time my wife asks, “Honey, how would you like to check out this new museum?”, if you have an ounce of compassion in you, PLEASE, for the love of God, STOP ME from spinelessly acquiescing to her heartless suggestion. It’s dangerous to my emotional well-being. The problem is that my wife and I have very different notions about what it means to “check out” a museum.

    It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking a museum of paintings, cuckoo clocks, or the Wisconsin Museum of Cheese. It’s all about the approach. I like to swoop in, catch a glimpse of three or four major highlights, and get out while I still have some functioning brain cells. But my wife – she might as well sign a short-term rental agreement with the museum’s Board of Directors, because she’s planning on staying.

    Last weekend, we visited the Museum of Anthropology and Natural History. Michele got excited because she learned this was the last day of their special exhibit called Fabrics Around the World. I figured, how long could this possibly take? I mean, you have cotton, polyester, and wool, the three fabrics that make up every article of clothing I’ve ever owned. We’d roll through the entire display in fifteen minutes max. I was off – by a factor of five.

    My wife was fascinated by the intricate weavings found in Morocco, the brilliant colors preferred in the hilltop regions of Bhutan, and the myriad methods of felting coming from the British Isles. Meanwhile, my interest in fabrics was focused on a pizza stain I just noticed on my white t-shirt which was woven – I think you’ll find this interesting – in the Philippines, using a traditional polyester blend, made in a sweat shop by a nine-year-old boy named Danilo.

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  • Published On May. 07, 2017 by TEJ
  • The Joy of Sleeping

    Three of the greatest pleasures in life – and I’m sure you will agree – are: relaxing poolside in a sunny tropical location, eating cookie dough ice cream, and sleeping. When my number is up, I hope to go out napping on a chaise lounge in Hawaii with an empty quart of cookie dough ice cream on my lap.

    Seriously, is there anything more blissful in life than napping on a rainy afternoon? Oh sure, I hear you thinking, “You don’t want to waste your life away catching z’s, do you?” To which I say, “Of course I do!” I read an article that said on average, human beings spend 33 percent of their lives sleeping. I estimate I’ve spent closer to 38% – but then I’ve always been an over-achiever. (I would have read the rest of the article, but I was snoozing by the fourth paragraph.)

    You know the kind of people I can’t stand? People who get up at 4:30 am to work out at the gym for an hour before zipping through the entire New York Times crossword puzzle, while making a kale & kelp milkshake for breakfast before heading off to work by 7 to cure cancer or feed the homeless – no doubt with kale & kelp milkshakes.

    To be honest, for decades, I used to be one of those people (except for the k & k shakes, that is). But now that I’m retired, I realize that for all those decades, my priorities were seriously out of whack. Lately I’ve discovered the joy of sleeping in. Oh, I still wake up by 5:30, but now I pass the next two hours lulling in bed, debating how long I can stay there before my grape-sized bladder gives out. I love sleeping. It’s that tranquil period between 10 pm and 7 am when I don’t have to wash dishes, do laundry, clean the basement, pay bills or listen to my wife complain about how much time I waste sleeping.

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    • For ten years of my moderately interesting media career, Tim, I worked a shift that began at eight in…
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Apr. 30, 2017 by TEJ
  • Being a People Pleaser Can Get You into Trouble

    [WARNING: This blog post contains a visual image which some readers may find offensive and which could cause nightmares. Elderly people, young children and readers with weak constitutions may wish to avoid proceeding further.]

    There is something seriously wrong with me. No, I’m not talking about my moderate OCD. Or my phobia of snakes. Or that I listen to Gregorian Chants – even though each one sounds exactly the same.

    No, I have an even deeper personality flaw: I’m a chronic people pleaser. Throughout my life, I’ve been hard-wired to want to please people and have sometimes gone to ridiculous lengths not to disappoint them. A few cases in point (all of these are true):

    In high school, the class I hated the most was Latin. But my teacher, Mr. Vandenberg, really liked having me as a student. So, at the end of the year, he asked if I’d sign up for Latin 2. I swore I would NEVER take Latin 2. But I caved, because I did not want to disappoint him – which is why I also took Latin 3 the year after that.

    In college, I always gave my roommate the bed closest to the window. In grad school, I offered my apartment mate the nicer bedroom. Not because I was a great guy, but because I wanted them to like me.

    Once when I was a sales manager my team had a record-breaking quarter. I took them out to celebrate. The reps only wanted one thing from me at the party: to watch me smoke a fat eight-inch cigar they’d bought just for the occasion. I don’t smoke. I’d never smoked anything stronger than a candy cigarette before that moment. But they all were cheering me on, and well, I didn’t want to disappoint. So, I puffed, gasped and choked my way through the entire cigar. It was torture. And they loved that I was a good sport. Then I excused myself to the bathroom so I could throw up.

    A few years later, I was boarding a commercial jetliner on a business trip with co-workers. One of them urged me to walk into the cockpit, hold out my boarding pass and tell the pilot with a straight face, “I believe you’re in my seat.” So, I did exactly as he asked. Thankfully, I was not arrested. But that may explain why I’m now on the terrorist watch list.

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    • That was hysterical!!! Now, tell us! Tell us! Tim! Tim! Tim!
      Dorothy Rosby
  • Published On Mar. 26, 2017 by TEJ
  • The Old Farts Tennis Club

    old farts tennis club - group photoRecently I joined an extremely exclusive club here on Camano Island – the swank Royal Racquet and Earl Grey Tea Society. They play on the only public tennis courts on the island. In order to be considered for membership you must live on the island, be male (sorry ladies, get your own club), be at least 60 years old (at 61, I barely made the cut) and be able to ambulate without any help from your grandchildren.

    I was inducted into this fashionable club in a formal private ceremony which involved my walking onto the courts and asking, “Hey, mind if I join you guys for some tennis?” Apparently that was the correct secret phrase because somehow they let me in on my very first try, without any background check or body cavity search.

    The posh Royal Racquet and Earl Grey Tea Society, more commonly known by its members as the Old Farts Tennis Club (OFT for short) is 25 members strong plus 11 more who are admittedly weak.

    The rules of play for the Old Farts Tennis Club are rigorous:

    • All games are played in a classic doubles format.
    • Play must go on regardless of inclement weather conditions – unless it rains or looks like it eventually might.
    • Players must hit the ball such that it lands within the boundaries of the tennis court, as designated by white lines around the perimeter – except for Ernie, in which case if his shot lands within a foot of the line, that’s close enough. Members have suggested to Ernie it’s probably time he got his eyes checked.
    • Members must remember to wear their pants when they show up to play – this rule was created specifically for a member named “Barney.” (Not his real name. His real name is Ned.)

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    • Congratulations Tim. You finally admit that you're an Old Fart, on and off the court. As a new member,…
      Eleanor Rushworh
  • Published On Sep. 11, 2016 by TEJ
  • How I Got Crabs

    crabbing - crab potNot long ago, my wife and I moved to Camano Island, a tranquil, semi-rural community with lots of retirees. People here love four things: God, country, family and crabbing – but if they could only pick one, for sure it would have to be crabbing. People here are seriously into this activity. Just how serious? As you arrive on Camano Island, you’re greeted by a giant metal crab sculpture. The local newspaper is called The Crab Cracker. And if you confide in someone, “I’ve got crabs”, they won’t recoil in disgust. They’ll reply with, “Fantastic! Mind giving me some?” 

    Having lived here for two years, I’d never bothered to find out what all the fuss was about. But after relentless pressure from neighbors whose constant nagging included questioning my patriotism, in the end I caved. Last week I finally went crabbing.

    Most “crabbers” own their own crab boat and equipment. To get started you need the following essentials:

    • A motorboat – or if you’re cheap, then a rowboat
    • At least one, and ideally two or three crab pots
    • A buoy marker and approximately 100 feet of rope for each crab pot
    • Bait – typically chicken or turkey legs, or if you’re in a pinch, Lifesavers candies – the crabs grab onto the little hole in the middle and get stuck. Let me know how that works, dude. (This last bait option should only be used if you’re a complete idiot.)
    • A case of beer, to dull your senses and help you forget about what in the hell possessed you to take a rowboat instead of a motorboat with 25 mph headwinds out there
    • A sharp knife to kill your small crustacean victims in cold blood – or to take your own life if you have rowed out too far and you suddenly realize you’ll never make it back to shore before nightfall

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    • Tim, you have awakened the memory of a truly emotional day - from the anticipation of doing something "out-of-my-comfort-zone", learning…
      Eleanor Rushworh
  • Published On Aug. 08, 2016 by TEJ
  • Swingin’ in the Rain

    swingin in the rain - tee shotRecently, I played a round of golf with my longtime golfing buddy Kevin. Kevin hates it when I refer to him by his actual name in my posts, so that’s how I will refer to him – because I just like to piss Kevin off. We were scheduled to play a round, but I called him an hour before our tee time to report that it was raining cats and dogs at my house. “Really? Well, it’s sunny and clear here,” he said. So against my better judgment – which judgment is shaky at the best of times – I decided to go ahead and play.

    We were met at the course by the rest of our foursome, Ron and John. And just like Kevin had predicted, it was clear and dry – conditions that were going to change dramatically about fifteen minutes after we teed off.

    Kevin and I have been playing golf together for 17 years. It has evolved into something of a rivalry. It often comes down to the final hole before Kevin knows for sure whether he beat me by double digits or just single. You see, Kevin is a really good golfer and, with rare exceptions, I allow him to beat me – mostly to placate his fragile male ego, which shatters like broken glass if he loses to me in anything. And also because he is the far superior golfer.

    Ron, John, Kevin and I teed off at the first tee. Kevin hit a gorgeous drive 270 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Then it was my turn. I smiled as my ball landed eerily close to Kevin’s – by which I mean 100 yards closer to the tee box and banana-sliced 40 yards into the right-side woods. Oh yeah. The game was officially on.

    As we reached the second hole, I noticed a few gentle droplets of rain. Kevin shook it off. He was sure it would pass. His smart phone’s weather app said it was going to be mostly sunny by afternoon. But at 8:15am, the sky was looking foreboding, like the skies over Mordor. As Kevin headed up the second fairway and I headed due east into the right-side forest, I noticed the raindrops were coming down harder. Wisely, I had decided to bring a jacket. Unwisely, I’d soon discover it repelled water about as effectively as toilet paper. And I forgot my golf cap.

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  • Published On May. 02, 2016 by TEJ
  • Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room

    Escape Room - locked doorLast weekend I did something new and different. I tried a new adventure called an Escape Room. For the uninitiated, escape rooms are the latest fad activity in which they lock 8 to 14 people in a room. The group is given clues and puzzles to solve in order to make their escape. I’m a puzzle person.  Sounded like a fun outing.

    I invited thirteen of my closest, soon-to-be-ex-friends to join me. The theme of our escape room was Jules Verne’s classic novel, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Our mission: Find the key to escape before our submarine, the Nautilus, ran out of air.

    Being a natural-born leader, I assumed the part of legendary Captain Nemo and immediately took charge of this mission. I’m not sure precisely when the mutiny began. It might have been when I ordered my crew to report every five minutes with any new clues they had unearthed. Or maybe it was when I ordered them to swab the decks. Group morale is such a touchy thing.

    Turns out escaping from an escape room is an extremely difficult challenge. We had to solve a myriad of puzzles to unlock boxes, only to find inside even more enigmatic puzzles. As the Captain, I quickly came to two important realizations: 1) getting out of this escape room was going to require enormous brain power and concentration, and 2) I did not bring nearly enough money to bribe the staff to tell me what the clues meant.

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    • Adventures for sure. Too bad the participants didn't spend the next 30 minutes expelling the myths of their hopeful escape…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On May. 30, 2015 by TEJ
  • Man Cave 2.0 – a wife-friendly version

    man cave - sports roomA successful marriage is all about compromise. In the interest of marital harmony, I learned early on that I needed to let my wife win a few negotiations now and then.

    In just a few weeks we will be moving to our dream house, by which I mean her dream house. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure I will love it, because that’s what she tells me. Of course, no guy’s dream house would be complete without a MAN CAVE.

    I had visions of the perfect man cave. I wanted to go beyond the ordinary items that every man includes in his private oasis – your know, basic things like a regulation-sized beer pong table, a dart board that curses in Spanish whenever a dart hits it, or a TV larger than the wall it is attached to. Those essentials are givens, of course.

    No, I was looking for something a little more exotic. Something that made a manly statement about me, Tim Jones, as a man! So I came up with my list of Tim’s Top 10 Must-Haves for His Man Cave:

    1. A jumbo-sized wall chart showing the proper operation of power tools – as demonstrated by hot girls in bikinis.
    2. A combination billiard / air hockey / foosball table that with the press of a button recedes into the floor.
    3. A Batman-style utility belt equipped with a potato chip dispenser, cheese-wiz canisters in six artificial flavors, and a holster for my burrito-firing bazooka.
    4. A beer tap in the shape of an elephant trunk – pull on left tusk for guacamole; right tusk for salsa.
    5. A bear rug – with grizzly in full roar – wearing a Seattle Seahawks helmet  (for a touch of class).
    6. A life-size wooden mermaid, salvaged from the prow of a pirate ship, just like the one that Blackbeard used to pry the cork from his rum by wedging the neck of the bottle in between her cleavage and twisting his wrist in a starboard direction.
    7. An oversized phone shaped like a football that makes a deafening crowd roar for thirty seconds whenever it rings.
    8. A giant aquarium – on the ceiling – that you can stare up at during commercial breaks in the game to watch manta rays swimming overhead.
    9. A wall-mounted animal head – anything with antlers. I’m thinking moose but am open to suggestions.
    10. A lava lamp. (I’ve always wanted one ever since 7th grade.)

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    • Tim, you are a man's man, and I mean that in a manly sort of way. Even your soft,…
      Seth Greenblatt
  • Published On Sep. 24, 2014 by TEJ
  • Loser for Hire

    Sports loser - TimI love playing sports. My friends love to play me in sports, too. For years I thought it was because they enjoyed my company. They later told me that I tend to get on their nerves. So why do they keep playing me? Answer: Because they love the thrill of victory, which they are assured of experiencing any time they play me – in any sport.

    Ya’ know that old expression “He’s a jack of all trades but a king of none”?  Well, I’m more like the three of clubs. You see, as much as I love sports, I’ve never really been that good at them.

    Case in point: I’ve played the same guy in tennis for 12 years. Let’s call him “Steve”, because, well, his name is Steve. In that 12 years, I can tell you the exact number of sets I have won against Steve. Exactly zero.

    I’ve been golfing with another friend for 15 years. I’ll just refer to him as “Kevin from Ballard” because I don’t feel it’s appropriate to reveal his last name here – but since I know you’re curious, it’s “Breecher.” I have never beaten Kevin Breecher in golf – ever. Every year he increases my handicap advantage. He now gives me 29 strokes. He still always wins. Last month, he offered to hit all his tee shots blindfolded. He won by five strokes.

    One thing my friends Steve and Kevin have in common – besides being annoying winners – is that they always feel better about themselves after trouncing me. It never gets old for them.

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    • As the loving wife of "Steve", I'll confess that Saturday afternoons after the "Tim and Steve tennis games" are a…
      Pam N
  • Published On Sep. 01, 2014 by TEJ