Card Family

This weekend we had a blast up at Put-In-Bay, thanks to the generous hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Gleeful Retiree.  Saturday night eight of us sat down to play a little euchre tournament, with team pairings that changed every five hands.  It was a lot of fun.

luep0gEuchre is a great game for that setting, because each player is dealt only five cards.  As a result, every hand is over quickly, so if you get a crappy hand — which unfortunately happens from time to time — it’s only a matter of a few minutes before you get a new one that hopefully isn’t filled with nines and tens.  And there’s never a gap in table talk, either, because each hand offers opportunities to chat about the cards, the hand just played, the lay-down loner you didn’t get to call, and your run of ridiculous, inexplicable bad luck.

It’s the first time I’ve played euchre in a while, and it brought back a lot of memories.  I come from a card family, and both Mom and Dad’s families were card families, too.  For as long as I can remember, cards were a huge part of the Webner family dynamic.  Kids progressed through the card game difficulty spectrum — starting with war, moving on to hearts, spades, gin rummy, and euchre, and finally getting up to cribbage and bridge.  On  family vacations, there always was a nightly euchre tournament where different combinations of uncles, cousins, and grandparents paired off for some friendly competition and bragging rights, and taunting was the order of the day.  The bad jokes and gibes around the card tables at those euchre tournaments are some treasured memories and helped to make my childhood a little richer.

Some families are card families, some families aren’t.  I’m glad I was from a card family.  Richard and Russell are good card players, and we’ve had some good times playing cards together.  I’m happy they’re carrying on the family tradition.

Sad Sign

IMG_3264When I was up at Put-In-Bay several weeks ago, I walked to a park and found a nice group of colorful kayaks set against a rocky beach, with one of the island outcroppings and a pretty blue sky behind.  It made for a nice picture.

But . . . what’s that sign say, just above the “Have fun on the water” green triangle?

IMG_3268It’s a sign advising people not to drink Lake Erie water and cautioning about the potential presence of blue-green algae toxins.  The sign helpfully advises people to avoid water that looks like spilled paint, or is covered with scum or film, or has “green globs” floating just below the surface.  That’s useful information when you’re going out in one of those brightly colored kayaks, I guess, although it sure would put a damper on my ability to “have fun on the water.”

Ohio actually has a website that provides more information about “harmful algae blooms” and their potentially toxic effects on human skin, livers, and nervous systems.  The blooms are caused by excess nutrients, consisting primarily of phosphorus and nitrogen, that run off into the lake from fertilized farm fields and feed the algae.  The nutrient run-off and the algae blooms is a problem not only for Lake Erie, but also for a bunch of other lakes and ponds in Ohio — including the pond on the Yantis Loop here in New Albany.

Lake Erie is vastly improved from what it was in the ’60s, when I remember taking a boat ride in the lake with grade school classmates and being amazed at how filthy it looked and how terrible it smelled.  Careful regulation of pollutants, efforts to keep invasive species out, and other initiatives have had a significant positive impact.  As the sad sign on the Put-In-Bay shore indicates, however, there is still more work to do.

P-I-B Sunrise

The Gleeful Retiree and his lovely wife graciously invited me to join a group for a visit to their beautiful Put-In-Bay place on the shores of Lake Erie this weekend. We stayed up to the wee hours last night, talking and catching up, and I slept with the windows open, enjoying the breeze and the ever-present murmurs of the Lake in the background. I think you never sleep so well as you do around water.

Today dawned bright and clear, to the accompaniment of gull cries, surf sounds, and the whistle of a brisk wind.