Thursday, January 01, 2009

Starting off better than usual

kw: musings, new year

Often a good ending leads to a good beginning. Last evening was great.

The church here has had a New Year's Eve party and game night for several years, perhaps ten. This time we had an added event: a wedding, with about fifty in attendance. I conducted the celebration (a JP had already "signed the papers"). We had short addresses by the bride and groom, a few minutes of "Mermaid" by Maurice Ravel played by the bride, a word from the father of the groom, two short mini-sermons about the significance of marriage, by two good brothers, and a closing blessing and prayer. Then we cleared one end of the room for photographs while a group consisting mainly of the teens set up tables and chairs in the other end.

Then we ate a potluck feast. We now know that our little meeting space can seat at least fifty for dinner. After dinner we had the cake cutting (with no "smushing" antics). A few people had already changed clothes. All the rest, except for a few who left early, changed at this point.

It was about 9 pm. We put away the tables and set chairs in a huge circle for a game of "Big Wind Blows". I think it is originally from Taiwan. You play with one less chair than the number of people. Whoever is "it" stands in the middle and calls, "Big wind blows". The group answers, "Blows where?" and "it" will say something like, "Whoever is wearing a blue top." All the ones wearing a blue shirt, blouse, sweater, or whatever have to find a new seat, while "it" jumps for one of those vacated in the melee. The one left standing is the new "it". This one can keep us going for at least an hour; we finished a little before 10.

We often play a number of games. This time, we just played one more group game: group juggling. The group I was with numbered 13; we had two groups, at least for a while. The rest talked or watched. Here is how you play:
  • You need several balls that are easy to catch. We have about fifteen squishy, air-filled "hairy" balls of very soft, stretchy rubbery stuff, that look like sea urchins. Very easy to catch.
  • The group stands in a circle and everyone puts up one hand, except the person who will throw first. That one throws the ball to anyone (not right next to them) with a hand up, until no hands are up, remembering who they threw to. The last person throws it to the one who threw first.
  • The group repeats the throwing pattern once to determine that everyone knows to whom to throw.
  • The pattern is continued.
  • The first thrower has a supply of balls on a chair nearby, or someone standing there to feed new balls.
  • Periodically a new ball is added, until there are at least six or eight balls in play.
  • At that point, everyone is throwing a new ball every couple of seconds, and it simply looks great.
There is a variation on this with any odd number: Pick a throwing pattern beforehand, such as a 9-pointed star. Establish the pattern, then add balls until there is one ball per player. Try to throw at the same time, and you get a beautiful "bouncing star" pattern. Somebody will have to try this with fluorescent balls in a UV-lit room and video it from above.

Group juggling lasted until after 11 pm. Then board games came out. The various "race" games that we sometimes play, and things like Charades and Pictionary were skipped this year in favor of small groups playing smaller games. I joined a group playing Taboo, and did rather badly. Fun, though.

After counting down to 12 Midnight we played the last game: Cleanup and Setup, to get the room ready for the weekend meetings. My family and I were at home and managed to crash by 1 am. I slept my customary six hours, so before starting this post, I had time to get the paper, read the funnies, work the Sudoku and Cipher (the Crossword defeated me) and eat breakfast. In a little while we'll watch the Rose Parade. I don't miss the Pasadena crowds I used to endure when I used to live there and would watch it from Colorado Blvd. HDTV is great!

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