Friday, September 12, 2014

Playing games

The Treasure Island Catan game
To pass the time, Marc and I play games when we travel.
We used to play a travel Scrabble game that had little teeny tiles on a kind of board that folded open and held the tiles — except when we dropped one on the way to the board. Then it required some serious bending and stretching to find the tile under the seats.
For the most part, though, it was great and served us for many voyages.
People all around us would offer suggestions and cheer when one of us scored a big word.
But it's a new age now and this time around Marc bought a bunch of games for his iPad: Scrabble, Carcasonne, Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico.
Instead of toting along a game board and bags of tiny pieces, we just opened up the device and selected something to play. We usually had a couple of computerized opponents joining the fray.
The Siena sunset
It took some getting used to since we didn't have any cards or little pieces to hold or see.
It was difficult to know what the other guy had when you needed to negotiate a trade or steal something worthwhile.
But we persevered and pretty soon we were loving the fact that we didn't have to set up or take down anything.
Wherever we were when we were interrupted, the game came back at that spot.
We could play for five minutes or two hours, as long as the battery was charged.
We could play waiting for our food at a restaurant or on the plane as we waited to take off.
It didn't matter whether we had table space or not.
In Siena, we played waiting for the sun to set and in Florence in the Boboli Gardens when it was too hot to walk around anymore.
So now we're spoiled.
We're home and we're still playing our games on the iPad in our spare time — plus we've added a few, new ones, mostly variations of Catan.
It's really quite enjoyable except that Marc wins most of the time.
That's annoying.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Beating up grandpa

It wouldn't surprise me to get a call from the folks who monitor elder abuse and neglect.
My aged father currently looks like he's been going the rounds in the boxing ring.
He has a huge bump on the back of his head, cuts and bruises on both arms and on his knee and 10 stitches across his right eyebrow.
He is also sporting a couple of fractured ribs.
But we kids had nothing to do with this.
In fact, if it wasn't for a little email message I got from my stepmother's daughter, I wouldn't even know he went to the hospital — twice this week.
Seems he went out to dinner Monday night and misjudged the distance when he stepped out of the SUV.
He fell down. He banged his head and went to the emergency room in the ambulance.
He was released around midnight and went back to the retirement center where he resides, not telling anybody about it.
Then yesterday around lunchtime he was mailing a letter at the front desk on his way to lunch and fell again.
This time he apparently hit his walker on the way down because he got a serious cut near his eye and smashed his ribcage.
When I saw him yesterday he looked pretty rough.
He was sitting in the bed trying to watch tennis on the hospital TV without any sound because he couldn't find a remote. (It's on the bedside unit used to call the nurse.)
He was hungry because he'd missed lunch and looked like he would miss dinner. (I got him a box lunch from the nurse's station.)
He was unhappy because whenever he breathed in hard or coughed or laughed, it hurt — a lot. He thinks the answer is to go home, get into his easy chair and stay still.
I sat with him most of the afternoon trying to figure out what is going on and what we are going to do.
Sure, he's past 90 and can be expected to have some difficulties now and then.
But two emergency room runs in four days?
I wondered myself when the doctors asked him (and me) what was going on here?
He thinks he's fine, no worries. He's getting good care and he likes the attention.
He still believes he isn't ready for an assisted living center. He doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
I'm thinking we're in big trouble here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sliders for lunch

The fashion-conscious customer on an angle

Waiting on the waiter...notice the blocks
There's a lovely little place in Siena, Italy, that serves lunch and dinner.
The food is freshly cooked.
The service is good.
The view is spectacular.
It's a treat to eat there — if you don't mind sitting at a table and chairs that are in danger of sliding down the road at a moment's notice.
See, most of the roads in Siena are steep and laid with cobblestone.

The merchants in the town have to adapt.
So this little restaurant has cut the legs of the table and stools at an angle and then put down little wooden studs to act like brakes that will stop the furniture from sliding.

The typical Siena road
You have to make sure you don't move the legs out from behind or from fitting into the studs.
One has to plan one's entry and exit in advance.
The waitresses have learned to walk backwards most of the time so they don't develop shin splints during their shifts.
It's entertaining to watch and a good example of adapting to the environment.
We enjoyed our meal there.
Gives a whole new meaning to eating up  — er, out!