N had a 9a T-Ball game and M had a 9a softball game. He and I rode our bikes to the fields, but D had to drive M as hers was farther away. As usual, N and I were one of the first ones there. As the season progresses, it seems the players are showing up closer and closer to actual game time. This week one of the trouble players (e.g., zero attention span, always fielding the ball regardless of where he's playing and where it was hit, etc.) wasn't there, so I was somewhat happy about that. I'm sure he's a good kid, but he causes too many disruptions with the other players in that he's always tempting them to goof off. There's a couple more on the team like that (N included at times), but for the most part, they're a good bunch of kids. Their hitting is coming along nicely and since I've been in charge of batting the better part of the season, it makes me feel good to see them getting better. Now if only they could get better on the field, we'd have ourselves a pretty good team out there!
After we got back from the game, I mowed the lawn. I mowed it last Friday and wanted to do it sometime during the week, but just didn't have time. With practice on Thursdays for the next month or so, it looks like it'll have to be Wednesdays or Saturdays (unless I break down and do it Friday, which I'd rather not do as that's supposed to be family night). After mowing the yard (which included trimming), I started a few 'round the house projects, including potting a couple of the leftover begonias, cleaning out the garage, getting the backyard hose out for watering purposes, etc. I finally finished up around 4p and went inside to get washed up and ready for M's piano recital. I passed the time by fiddling around on my guitar (which I've been doing more and more of lately).
I got my guitar for Christmas one year when I was in college. I believe it was either my freshman or sophomore year (or maybe it was in high school -- I don't really recall when). It's a steel string acoustic model from Morris guitars. I'm not sure where they rate on the grand scheme of things, but for what I use it for, it's good enough for me. I've toyed with the idea of getting an electric guitar (or a nylon-stringed acoustic), but have never followed through as I can't justify it based on my playing ability. Ever since I've had it, I've gone through fits and starts in trying to teach myself how to play. I've never taken private lessons (e.g., one-on-one), although I did take a group lesson in a classroom setting one summer (via Fairfax County's adult education offerings). I learned somethings from that course, but not enough to get me farther than I already was. (I also think I wasn't practicing as much as I should have.) One of the things I've never been able to master is chords. I can read sheet music and play a song based on what the notes are, but only as individual notes. With this in mind, I've never really branched out and attempted to play songs as they were meant to be played (e.g., using both chords and individual notes...or so I would imagine). D likens my playing style to pluck-pluck-plucking and (at times) I would have to agree with her. Over the past year I've been trying to focus on learning different chords so I could actually play "popular" songs. Like previous attempts, this has gone in starts and stops, but for the past few weeks, I've been more committed. Each night when I get home I'll sit down for a few minutes and play a few songs, or repeat a few chord progressions. Little by little I've been seeing improvement. While I still can't play much more than Clementine, I'm seeing positive progress, so that keeps me going.
So, like I said, while waiting to leave for M's recital, I fiddled around on the guitar.
As with the previous recitals, this one was held at the teacher's church. The room she has for the recital has nine tables (with three seats at each table) that seat 27 people somewhat comfortably. At the back of the room there are folding chairs for the overflow. It's typically standing room only, but for the most part, everyone is in the room. This time, however, not only was it standing room only in the room itself, but the crowd was trailing down the hallway. It was a good thing that three families had to leave early (us, the Styles and the Ojedas) so those in the hallway were able to get seats. M went third (after Mary Grace and Madison) and after she played, we left in order to get the kids home and for us get ready for bowling before Heather came over to babysit.
We got to the alley and found out we went 3-1 last month. I was somewhat surprised as we didn't do that well. I was thinking that (at best) we split the games, but I guess Chris and Lori did better than they let on. The first place team ended up losing all four of their games, so going into tonight's set there were seven teams that could end up in first place, which made for some exciting bowling at our end of the alley. At the start of the night, we were in 4th place and went head-to-head against the 3rd place team. We quickly took the lead in the first game and ended up winning by 70+ pins (I closed out the first game with a turkey). The second game we all bowled pretty much like the first, except that Margaret (one of their bowlers) was on fire. Her average is about 115 and she bowled a 180. Yikes! Needless to say, that score, coupled with her handicap, allowed them to snatch the game away from us. Not all was lost, however, as I got two strikes in the 10th frame to close the gap to 20+ pins. This allowed us to enter the third game up by 50 or so pins. With the 11 that we were spotting them, though, this cut our lead to 40 pins. We had to win the 3rd game outright (or lose by less than 40 pins) in order to take the pin count and 4th game.
As it turned out, Margaret's flame went out and she returned to her average. We traded the lead through the first few frames, but midway through the game we took the lead and started extending it through the last few frames. After it was all said and done, we ended up with the 3rd and 4th games, making it 3-1 for the night. We would have to wait to find out how the rest of the teams did, though to find out how we finished out the season. The totals were finally tallied and the winners were announced. We moved up to second place (out of first place by 1/2 game) and took home the silver pin (including a gift card to the Blue Iguana.) I also won the "Most Improved Average" award (including a gift card to the Macaroni Grill) and D and I won a $20 gift certificate to Fortune Palace. Looks like Fire on the Lanes will be having some date-nights in the coming months! (Actually, there were quite a few of us who won gift certificates to Fortune Palace, so I imagine we'll have to have a group outing!)
After the awards ceremony, a few of us headed over to the Tiki Bar (the deck behind David and Sandy's house that they decorated to be like a Tiki Bar). As usual, Burke and David got out their guitars and started playing. One of the reasons I've picked up the guitar and started focusing on the chords was their playing -- they make it seem so easy -- but I guess after years and years of honing their craft, it should be easy! It's always a good time over there and tonight was no exception (except for that we didn't stay very long - D was dosed up on Claritin and being outside wasn't doing her allergies any good). We bid our adieus and headed home, where we promptly fell asleep (after watching a few minutes of SNL, that is).