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Good days

Posted by joeabbott on April 3, 2016

Well, we’ve had some good days here lately and that’s been very welcome.

The spring rains have subsided a bit and we’ve had high-60s and even a low-70s sorta day or two (temperature-wise), Suzy’s garden is BURSTING with blooms, and our cat and chicken friends are enjoying their days outdoors. All very good. So it brings to question: what have I been doing? And the answer is little bits of this and that. Let’s take a look.


IMG_3700A few weeks ago a friend from college dropped me an email suggesting she may (or may not) be in town to watch her daughter play ultimate Frisbee. Now, I hadn’t seen Beth in years and the few times we caught up since college were too long ago and too short. But, as we’d been constant study hall companions working through our college aerospace engineering studies together, I offered to take time off and put her up as long as she was in town. To my delight, she accepted the offer.

Beth was the smart and motivated one of our study trio; not tremendously smarter, but absolutely more driven. It’s likely not too much of a stretch to say she single-handedly invigorated (re-invigorated?) the UMn partnership with NASA (and then she did some interning there) and is currently working for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. It’s kinda a big deal. For a guy like me who bobs along, caught up in currents of luck and opportunity, she seems like a laser guided missile. But, we helped each other out in school and stayed in touch as Christmas-card-friends over the long years we both started families and careers and now we had a good opportunity to catch up.

But, as I don’t have kids, the whole oddness that is “I have scant details on anything around my stay but I’ll know more when my daughter texts me” pervaded the days prior to Beth stopping in and Suzy and I prepared for whatever would come.

Fortune smiled on us all as the Seattle rains held off for her stay: Beth came in on a Thursday evening and the rain held off the rest of her stay. Beth’s daughter, Ella, wouldn’t be available to join us that day and Suzy had a Master Gardener event keeping her from our dinner. So, we spent the evening kibitzing about our life journeys, called it and early night, and headed out the next morning to see a bit of ultimate Frisbee.

Ultimate Frisbee is a strange beast of a game. Perhaps the folks on the sidelines who tried helping us understand the rules or a game that’s frequently self-officiated is too new a thing for me to appreciate, but there was much to wonder at. The first thing that struck me is that, regardless who scored a point, both teams would go through an all-members-on-field celebration and chant. And points were scored often … typically in a traded battle mere minutes apart. Next, the factor on who won seemed a bit soft; one person said it was whoever scored 15 points first, but then there was a time component to it. And it seems that whatever the factor … score or time … the team coaches for both sides could get together and agree on adding more points or minutes to the board/clock to extend a close match. Or something like that. And I am may have gotten that wrong or talked to the wrong people. But it was a strange game.

Like the time an opposing player stepped in a bit hard to intercept a catch and knocked one of Ella’s teammates down. The offending player immediately called a foul on herself and, amid apologies and retelling from both her and the knocked down girl, they agreed on a suitable penalty (the knocked down girl got the Frisbee and yards) and the clock started again with Ella’s team on the offensive. And the other time when someone from Ella’s team felt the opponent was counting too fast and was given the Frisbee back … with two seconds to toss it. Or the play immediately following where there may, or may not, have been an infraction for the two seconds being counted too quickly and Ella’s team being given yet another chance to make their toss.

It was all befuddling in the most pleasurable haze imaginable: high spirits, good sportsmanship, and everyone enjoying a game. It was unlike anything I had seen but I wouldn’t mind seeing more. Just a lot of fun.

During our sideline chats, Betho and I caught up on more doings and I appreciated a bit more about the teams. Ella plays for Dartmouth College, meaning she has an intellect that got her into an Ivy League school and she’s playing a team sport. And all the girls on that field were in the same boat. Colleges across the US were represented: Carleton, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Universities of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and more. And all were fielded by young women who were at the top of their academic tiers. Pretty impressive to me, as I was a middling student at best.


We picked up Suzy to watch the second game a bit later in the afternoon and we got to try explaining the rules to Suzy; it was a challenge. But, at the end of the game, both teams got together in a single huddle (interleaving members of the two teams) and talked through the game and finished in a big cheer. The four of us (Suzy, Beth, Ella, and I) then went to dinner at Salty’s. Suzy got us a fantastic table with an awesome view of Seattle, I got a delicious salmon, and Betho picked up the bill. It was possibly the most perfect meal I’d ever had!

After that we headed to our house for a little ice cream and more chit chat, then we drove Ella to her host house, and then back home for a night’s rest. The next morning, Betho was flying out. While I wanted to protest her short stay, I learned she was doing field work and had been away from home for weeks and was arranging to getting back to her house for an Easter meal before saying good-bye to hubby John for more time doing field work. The couple days we got were a gift. And very appreciated.

I don’t keep in touch with many college friends, but it was a wonder how things just picked up where we’d left them nearly three decades ago and how easy it was to chat. While San Francisco wasn’t on either Suzy or my “bucket list”, it’s there now, so we can drop in on Betho sometime and allow her to host us.


For our Easter gathering, Suzy’s sister, Denise, hosted the day and it was replete with all the trappings of a good family get-together: lots of people, good food, hidden eggs for the kids, and everyone catching up with each other. There was even time for me to play Matchbox cars with Brandon, one of the children attending the gathering.

I feel badly for not writing more here, but it was one of those comfortable gatherings that was magical and prosaic at the same time.

A day with Dick and Jettie

While at Easter, my father-in-law heard we had some property and offered us a chipper/shredder to help with the upkeep of the land. As we feel obliged and grateful for any help offered in this regard, we drove out to Moses Lake yesterday and picked up the unit. We haven’t fired it up yet, but it’s a Troy-bilt unit that looks almost new in spite of being a couple decades old. We’ll give it a whirl later this afternoon but thankful for the offer.

While there, Richard put on a corned beef meal for us that had me going back for seconds and then we spent a lazy hour or two out by the lake. He and Jettie have a nice rocker that looks out over the shore and we chitted and chatted the time away. It was touching that Jettie asked us to stay the night but we hadn’t packed for it and our cats and chickens awaited us. So, it was another fast gathering that was made better as we wished it could have lasted a bit longer.

And more

I see this got a bit over-long and, unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures. But these sort of events: the gatherings of family and friends, make for a good life. Warm weather is nice, the cessation of rain appreciated, and even a yard full of blossoms welcome; but filling our days with special, and mundane, events with those close to us provides the breadth to our lives. It’s welcome and appreciated and we’re thankful for those who share in these gatherings with us.


One Response to “Good days”

  1. Momma said

    So good to see you back on your Blog, Joe – and hearing about hosting an old college friend and enjoying her daughter’s sport was great. I just laughed out loud when I read about their rules and “adjustments” to them…. I’m sure you and Suzy made the days for Beth and her daughter really extra special, and it’s nice knowing a San Francisco trip is in your futures! It’s so good to hear of my children’s good lives, and all of you always have great things to report back to the Mom that always wished the very best for you, and is so happy her dreams came true!

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