Posts Tagged With: Scrabble

A Friendly Game Goes South

Are you one of those people who believe that you should let little kids win at board games and matching games? Or do you come from the school of thought that advocates winning at all costs, little kids feelings and sense of fairness and fun be hanged?

I tend to err on the side of kindness which isn’t necessarily good for anyone involved in the long run.

I had a child that insisted on winning at the game “Husker Du?” as a toddler.  At a very young age she showed stellar skill at this fun matching game. She possessed such outstanding skills, in fact, that we began to work at winning against her. She did not take kindly to our gamesmanship. In no uncertain terms she let it be known that she was not going to stand for losing at this game.

It got ugly. The word tantrum took on new meaning when she lost. We almost seriously considered exorcism a time or two because the tantrums escalated so badly (not really, I’m joking, calm down.) But ugly described the scene that ensued time after time. It became easier to just let her win. It wasn’t much fun for anyone. Not even her. To add to the challenge she didn’t want to know we were letting her win, it had to appear that we had really tried to win, but the outcome must result in her winning.

Stupid, yes!  We got tired of that game rather quickly. And it mysteriously disappeared one day, never to return.

Fast forward about twelve years.

We had graduated to more challenging games such as Scrabble. Like Crocodile Dundee I would scoff when  someone would suggest most board games, then pull out my Scrabble set and say in my best Australian accent, “Now there’s a game!”

Scrabble

Scrabble (Photo credit: williamhartz)

Scrabble requires a tad bit of patience as each player needs to mull over various possible word plays. Of course, some people choose to put a time limit on a turn, but that’s a game of a different flavor. The patience factor lends itself to Scrabble as an internet game. Take your turn one day, wait for your opponents to take their turn over a few days, get on with your life, make your next play when you get around to it.

But playing the game live and in person requires more patience than your average, ordinary board game. If one of the opponents in the game seems deficient in the patience area you might want to consider tweaking the rules for time usage. Just a suggestion. A strong suggestion.

I am a person of extreme patience, usually. But twelve years ago “Israel” and “Palestine” (also known as daughter 2 and daughter 3) had inhabited my house for several years at that point. Occasionally a cease-fire would settle in but peace hung like a cadaver blowing in the breeze and threatened to disintegrate at the slightest provocation.

One day, during a deceptive lull in the lobbing of grenades and anti-aircraft fire and scud missiles in our home, the three of us decided to play a nice game of Scrabble. I know what you’re thinking at this point, and you’d be wrong. Trust me. Keep reading.

The game proceeded along as games do, with high interest in the proceedings initially, then boredom itching to join in the game, followed by snarky comments, occasionally drifting back into interest if a high score got played or the leader dropped behind. Halfway into the game things got a bit heated. The Tilby MIddle Western War threatened to kick into high gear. The peace treaty hung by a thread. Snark became argument, a well-played score became fodder for offensive posturing, two of the three parties bickered and argued ad infinitum.

Then it happened.

The long-suffering and patient camel hauling straw through the desert finally had the last straw laid down on her back.

I erupted in total and complete insanity.

“ENOUGH!!!” I yelled, slamming my hands on the table. “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” The Scrabble tiles jumped and shifted on the board at the onslaught. In one fell swoop of my angry arm I cleared the defenseless Scrabble board. Tiles flew across the table and scattered like so much shrapnel across the kitchen floor.

Both daughters stared at me, shell-shocked and nearly silent.

“WE!”  I yelled picking up the empty Scrabble board. “ARE!” I yelled louder, if that was even possible. “DONE!” I yelled finally as I ripped the Scrabble board in half down the center fold. Then I tried ripping the pieces in half some more, but the dumb cardboard resisted my efforts. I bashed them over my knee to bend them in half.

hadesI’m pretty sure some uncensored and inappropriate words for children escaped my snarled and probably foaming mouth as I stomped to the garbage can and hurled the offending destroyed Scrabble board into the garbage. I then gathered several handfuls of nearby Scrabble tiles and stuffed them inside the garbage can with the dead game board.

Nervous laughter was erupting from the table at this point, which of course only served as fuel for the flaming torch my head had become à la Hades from Hercules.

I grabbed the already falling apart box from the table and tore it in half, stuffing it thoroughly and decisively into the garbage. Then the four wooden tile trays suffered the disgrace of death by garbage can.

Without another word I stomped off to my bedroom and slammed the door as loudly as possible.

After this little fiasco “Israel” and “Palestine” maintained a cease-fire for an unusually extended period. The disgraced and embarrassed camel with the broken back has never lived down the events of that fateful day.

Several years later, and by several I mean at least three, a new deluxe version of Scrabble appeared under the Christmas tree, to me, from, you guessed it, my two warring countries, daughters 1 and 2.

I’m happy to report that the Tilby war ended a couple of years ago, meaning both daughters moved out and found lives separate and apart from one another. With age and experience they’ve become friends of sorts and get along well enough.

Their mother, well, she’s another story. Sure she seems calm and serene most of the time, but there’s always a bit of a simmer under that facade. The secret, she’s found is to let lift the lid occasionally and let the pressure dissipate. Hopefully, with age and wisdom, the temper tantrum throwing mother will never, ever erupt again.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Scrabblize: A New Word for the Dictionary

Scrabble game

Scrabble game (Photo credit: jcolman)

Actually I should probably spell the title of this post Scrabble I’s. It sounds the same but means something different.

Let me explain.

About year ago life pulled me up short and quick. One too many sure-I’d-be-happy-to’s, one straw too many on this particular camel’s back, far too many aches on the heart, and far too little sleep. I’d been through a couple of tough years and was working my way down off the teetering cliff edge of stress and worry.

One day it just hit. I couldn’t do it anymore. My body and my brain and my heart all just said, “Nope. No more. Not going another step. Done. Finished.”

Kaput – On Empty

Instead of getting out of bed and getting on with the getting on I dragged myself to the couch and sobbed for an hour or two or three. Then I lay there like a bag of rocks. Unmoving. Unmoved. Worn down completely.

Talked things over with MSH, with a conclusion that I needed a break, needed to get away, regardless of our non-existent resources. He pulled a rabbit out of hat and a few hours later I found myself on a plane headed to my cousin’s house. My return ticket was for a week later with the option of staying longer if I needed to.

I did a ton of sleeping, especially the first few days. I did a mountain of thinking. And got in some high quality nature time. Denver is awesome that way.  And in the evenings my cousin and I played Scrabble, live and in-person, instead of on the internet like we usually do.

As usual she won most of the games

In Scrabble you can get some weird letter combinations on your tray. Seven letters and all of them vowels is a common one. Or all of them consonants, happens more often than I care to count.

It’s not even unusual to get three or even four of the same letter on your tray at once.That’s annoying and kind of useless for scoring the big words and high numbers.

Something weird happened during one particular game. Cue the eerie music.

My tray filled up with “I” tiles.

What the aitch?

Getting a tray full of almost all the “I” tiles was aggravating. Can you think of any words with lots of I’s? I can’t. I couldn’t. Even if I cheated and used a word builder program on the computer, which I don’t do, there was little I could do with that many I’s.

Français : Lettre I dans le Scrabble

There are nine tiles with the letter “I” in the version of Scrabble we were playing. I got eight of them, not all at once, but close together, with six on my tray at one time.

“Maybe the tiles are trying to tell me something,” I said to my cousin.

Ever the wise and thoughtful one, she asked me what I thought it meant to get almost all the “I” tiles.

I figured it was the “game maker’s” way of telling me I needed to think about “I” more often. It was MY turn for a while. “I” needed to take care of my needs, my health, my mental well-being, my basics.

I kind of knew that by then anyway, but this was just a strange reinforcing visual of what needed to happen.

The song by that country western dude came to mind almost immediately, you know the one, by Toby Keith:

“I wanna talk about me

Wanna talk about I

Wanna talk about number one

Oh my me my

What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see

I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally

I wanna talk about meeeeee

I wanna talk about me”

I didn’t just want to talk about me. “I” needed to talk about and take care of me for a change. The Scrabble tiles were pretty clear about it.

Like Spinning Plates

Spinning Plates Lego Style  (Photo credit: Jameson42)

Balancing Rocks or Spinning Plates

Well, my cousin and I discussed the need for the ever-elusive concept of balance in our lives. That seems a sort of common thread in many of our conversations. How to achieve balance, why it’s so difficult to find, what to drop or add where.

I don’t normally take advice from Scrabble tiles. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But this one time, it seemed the perfect recipe for finding balance.

To twenty or more parts “U”

add eight parts “I”

for a more reasonable, balanced, livable life.

Stir well.

Season to taste.

Add more “I” as needed.

I’m certain that escaping to paradise for a week isn’t a normally balanced way of adding more “I” to one’s life. But it sure helped mine out.

Not your typical resolution

I returned to real life with a resolve to take care of myself more conscientiously.

I have an almost daily reminder when “My turn” pops up on my computer Scrabble game. There’s often an “I” tile that tweaks my balance meter and causes me to check my “I” gauges.

Writing this blog is part of that “I” time. Every day I focus on “I” for an hour or two, doing what I love, writing, thinking, and then writing some more. Then I get on with my day, taking care of all the “U”s in my life.

crop

(Photo credit: Emma Humphrey)

Scrabble I’s.

Scrabblize. It might not be in any dictionary, but it’s in my vocabulary anyway.

Your turn.

Have you ever gotten a message or advice you needed from an unusual source or in an odd way?

It’d be fun to hear about it, if you’d like to share.

Categories: Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Anyone Up for a Game of Scrabble?

April 13 is National Scrabble Day.

I think there’s at least one or more “holiday” for every day in the year. Don’t even get me started on the weekly observances, the monthly commemorations. The lists are endless. The silly things people want to “celebrate” boggles my mind.

Français : Lettre K dans le Scrabble

Scrabble (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Scrabble?

That’s different.

Scrabble was my portal into the world of words. My Grandparents owned that mystical box with the beautiful wooden tiles, letters pressed into them with the a tiny number in the bottom right hand corner. The colored squares in a radiating design mesmerized my very young mind.

Then to watch words form, seeing the connections and intersections of the words, helped me see the patterns and understand the different sounds and connections of letters. Two letter words beyond if, or, it, of? Wow! And then bigger words appeared that I’d never heard and wanted to know and use.

I wanted to play. I wanted to play and score high points. I wanted more words in my life.

Scrabble

Scrabble (Photo credit: williamhartz)

I didn’t get to play often as we didn’t own a Scrabble board at my house. But when I got the chance, I was in all the way.

Then a few years ago, in a serendipitous reconnection with a cousin I’d lost touch with for decades, I found Scrabble again. It became our medium for rebuilding a relationship. Those little chats we had as we each played a word or two over the internet were really parts of a bridge. Sure the game is fun and builds my vocabulary, but the real score was a solid friendship, a supportive two-way road between two family members, two almost-sisters.

Now we text, email, Facebook, call, and even travel across a mountain range to visit in person. Thanks to a simple game of letters we are now the cousins and friends we started out to be.

So yes, today I celebrate the game of Scrabble!

I hit a lifetime bingo high, with a triple letter score included, simply by playing the word R-E-L-A-T-I-V-E.

What it really spells is F-R-I-E-N-D.

Am I lucky, or what?

Categories: Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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