Our grandson Riley has such a busy schedule it is difficult to find a clear weekend where he can join us. Out of the blue he called and we compared our journals with his dad's calendar and came up with a two-day stay at our house. He's always active so we like to plan a few things that will tire him a little bit and slow him down. It never works that way, but we always have hopes.
Riley plays baseball and soccer, but doesn't golf, yet. The weather was a little iffy, but I thought it might be fun to take him to Tacoma FIRS Golf Center and play a round of miniature golf. Our 13-year-old athlete did a great job at finding almost every water hazard on the course . . . sometimes several times on the same hole.
We had a great time. Peg enjoyed herself. I think she will crow for years to come that she beat Riley. She had a nice touch, especially on short putts. Bending over to get the ball out of the cup was great exercise for both of us. If our balls went into the water Riley was always happy to fish them out.
Although the weather looked ominous it never rained on us, but it was a little cool for the start of the Labor Day weekend. This was my first time at the miniature course at Tacoma FIRS. The layout is not like the old windmill and ramp PGA courses from the sixties, but still has indoor/outdoor carpet atop concrete greens to contend with. It was fun trying to figure out the best way to get to the hole as you went around and over potholes and crevices.
After we played the round I looked up owner/manager Mike Givens who took Riley to the range and showed him how to hold a driver, and the correct stance, pull away and swing.
It took Riley three swings to finally connect with the ball that "sounded" like a decent drive. Since I was taking photographs I could not see where his ball actually went.
The next time Riley comes over to our house for a couple of days, I'm pretty sure sometime during the stay we'll return to Tacoma FIRS and their driving range. Riley liked it.
After the short lesson, Mike Givens, who owns Tacoma Firs Golf Center, manages Oakbrook Golf and Country Club and runs the pro shop at Olympia Country & Golf Club, showed Riley how everything is supposed to go together.
Mike has a zero handicap. The driver Mike was using was one that he picked up out of the rack to show Riley. He drove the range ball quickly out of site. Later I received a call from my sister-in-law on Vashon Island who told me the ball bounced off the deck of the ferry as it crossed from Pt. Defiance to Tahlequah Road. No damage was done.
I think I may have golfed with Mike a number of years ago, but rest assured no skill rubbed off on me. I think even if I channeled Sam Snead, no golfing skills would rub off on me.
We took Riley to dinner with us on Friday evening to the home of Jan Runbeck and Mike Wowat. He met our friends and was quiet as he took it all in. I saw him trying to juggle tied up plastic grocery bags, which are light as feathers.
Peg and I had brought along a present for him. He just turned thirteen. Peg and I had visited Teaching Toys on North Proctor and I had found a book about not growing up. It has over one hundred pages of tricks and things to do. I was hoping I could buy two copies, but they only had one. I made a sacrifice and gave it to Riley. He leafed through the book and kept finding things he wanted to try . . . right there at dinner.
Saturday, Riley and Peg went shopping and he came back with a package of balloons. This was not something he picked up from the book. Working with Peg he filled three balloons with flour and then cutting off the ends of the balloons he stretched two more cut off balloons over each one, which gave him a firm juggling ball. Peg video recorded him juggling and then he juggled the three balls for me. He was great. I can just see him staging little juggling shows.
Our most senior yard deer, Buck Thompson came back to visit while Riley was with us. Ross Hjelseth of Life Center had asked about Buck. He hadn't seen pictures of him lately on Facebook and then two days later Buck shows up. Perhaps he knew we were talking about him.
Buck Thompson is almost always by himself. Our two younger bucks hang together. One shows up and then the other joins him. They must have similar interests, and seem to enjoy each other's company, but sometimes butt heads. We had all three bucks here about four weeks ago along with two does. But they all disappeared for a while after we were in Seattle for a few days. My sister Deedee said she saw five deer in the lot next to the Antique Sandwich Company in Ruston, so that might have been them. I told Deedee that the deer like the sandwiches there because they use wheat grass.
We took Riley to Smoke + Cedar for lunch. I think this is the last time we'll eat there. They never fail to disappoint. For us there's always been a mixture of indifferent service and badly prepared food. Yes, we've complained. This time they started out well. Service was as it should be. Then they brought the soup. It was served in a cup with no spoon? What's with that. We asked for a spoon It tasted really, really good, but was so hot, it had to have been microwaved. I was afraid of biting into the cherry tomato. I didn't want to scald my mouth.
Riley complained about his "burnt" hamburger. I don't know that it was burnt, but it was certainly black and overcooked. When a 13-year-old boy complains about the quality of the food there is something wrong! Peg's "au jus" for her prime rib dip was extremely salty. My fish was overcooked and came with a bowl of tarter sauce with barely any tarter sauce in it along with one small lemon wedge. I asked for more tarter sauce and more lemon and got a different cup of tarter and again one tiny wedge of lemon. If anyone has had a good experience at Smoke + Cedar, please let me know. We love Pacific Grill (same owner), but none of their magic appears at Smoke + Cedar.
Saturday evening we attended Summerplay 2014, an evening of one-act plays presented by The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest at Tacoma Little Theatre. There were nine plays. A couple of the plays ran about ten minutes or more and some were only a few minutes long. You didn't have to enjoy each one. They were easy to watch.
My favorite was Brando's Cat a two-person play concerning a woman editing a coffee table picture book on celebrities and their cats. The husband and wife duo of Diana George and Charlie Birdsell did an excellent job opening the production. I also enjoyed The Luck of the Irish, which was written by Birdsell. He was also one of the two actors performing in it. The other actor was Darren Hembd, who with his red hair might have been one of the little people. He must have jumped up and clicked his heels seven or eight times.
Also featuring Birdsell and Hembd along with Jen Aylsworth and Evelyn Conroy was the final production, Holly & Herbie & Walter & Waffles. The play was the funniest of the evening and dealt with cannibalism among a group of hamsters. You had to be there. It was a very enjoyable evening.
Sunday morning was a kick. At my meeting of the Tacoma Executives Association on Wednesday, we met at Harkness Furniture. I won a screaming monkey as a wheel of fortune prize.
A screaming monkey is a monkey doll wearing a blue cape that has a built-in slingshot. You hold onto the monkey's paw and pull back his legs. When you release the legs the monkey flies screaming. He can fly about thirty or forty feet straight up and cover a distance of about fifty.
Not content to just have a screaming monkey, we set up a screaming monkey skeet shoot. Riley pumped up my marshmallow gun and Peg released the monkey. The object was to shoot the monkey with a marshmallow as it flew through the air.
We had a marshmallow malfunction. My unopened bag of marshmallows was old and the marshmallows had stuck together. When pulled apart they had sticky threads. They got a little dirty when re-used, but we made them work. With better ammunition we could have shot that monkey. As it was we came close and just missed by inches.
This was our first time with the screaming monkey skeet shoot. We've already come up with ways to improve the contest. We could have two players (I already have two marshmallow guns.) and use magic markers to identify team "A" or "B." With fresh marshmallows we should be deadly*.
We had a great time with Riley, playing sports and visiting our friends, but as soon as we dropped Riley off Sunday morning and got back home, we took naps.
*At no time during this weekend were real monkeys involved and none of the fake monkeys were harmed, either.