Monday, February 23, 2009

Golf: Enjoyable, Relaxing...and Fun!

Perhaps you're somewhat like me, an avid golfer. Or maybe you simply enjoy or want to learn the game. Whatever thoughts bring you to the course, it's an experience you're sure to enjoy.

For myself, I've been at the game for a few years now, with a hiatus for a while and over the time I have learned many things about this wonderful, yet emotional game. I love to be in the outdoors, and there's no better setting than on a beautiful landscape where you try to master a game that simply can't be mastered. Over the years I've had the privilege to play at different golf courses in many places, and the one thing I have found to be true, it's a great way to make new friends, enjoy different aspects of life and culture, and subject yourself to some wonderful scenery.

For about 3 years of my life, I lived in Germany, near Ansbach and Nurenburg, where I had the chance to travel around this beautiful country and see amazing sights. Not many places I have yet been can compare to the landscape and surroundings there. If you can ever get to a golfkurs in this truly scenic place, you're really in for a treat. They are gifted with great teachers if you need a lesson or two, and it doesn't matter if you're young, old, or if the children are searching for a way to learn. That's one of the great things about this sport, it's for everyone. Many of the centers there, as everywhere I have found, cater to either group lessons or individual, whichever you might prefer. You can be fitted for equipment, taken from the basics to the more advanced techniques.

There's much to be said about the sport and game of golf. Not only will it surprise you when you first start at the level of athletic ability you need, and will soon achieve, but the mental aspect is something that will certainly be an experience to contend with. To me it's almost like an athletic game of chess, where you need to anticipate your next shot, and the one afterward to set up a winning strategy.

Choosing equipment can be fun also. There is so much nowadays to choose from, irons, woods, drivers, the type of ball you use, whether for distance, control, or a mixture of the two. For myself, I usually go back and forth between a couple sets, depending on how I am swinging on a certain day, the way I'm coming into the ball, or if I simply am in the mood and feel like "going for it." As you "master" the game through trial and error, practice, and much time on the course, you will become attuned to the likes and dislikes of your own preference.

A lot of fun can be had on the driving range where you can use the time to fine tune your swing plane, practice different ways of striking the ball, learn to hit low and high shots, fades, draws, and any number of special shots. You can definitely spend an enjoyable day here on the range developing your game and strategies. But then, you can't wait to get back on the course to put into practice all the things you have been self-teaching. If you want a very relaxing day of letting yourself go, yet being able to get in that exercise your body craves, this is a great way to do it. For me, it's so much fun that I don't even realize the work out I have had.

It's true, golf is a game that takes a certain amount of skill, which can be learned, a certain amount of patience, which there never seems to be enough of, and lots and lots of practice which you will need, but the more you do it, the more you want to do it. There are many places you can go for instruction and practice, and one of the finest places to learn is going to be in your own mind. I sincerely hope that if you choose to try this game, you will become as devoted and pleased with it as I have.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Taste of Springtime

This has been an unusually warm weekend here for this time of year, not that I'm complaining, I love it. Add to that, I've been off from work for the past several days on a long weekend, so it has been exceptionally nice for me.

It's been one of those days today that makes me want to fire up the grill, or grab a golf club and hit a few balls in the back yard, but...first things first. I had to get up all the fallen leaves, and that's no small task, but still a pleasant one. You have to understand that I live sort of back in the woods, my yard is kind of big, so that makes for a lot of leaves on the ground during the winter months. So off I started with the blower which worked well until I had a line of leaves about 3 feet high across the yard. Then it slowed down a bit. I'm not patient enough to simply blow some and then come back and blow some more, oh no, so an idea struck me, to get out the lawn tractor and use that. Well, after realizing that I was covered in leaves and dust, twigs, dirt, whatever else might be in the mix, I found that if I used the lawn tractor as if it was actually a bulldozer, I could push the piles to the woods, then ride around and mow what was left, blowing them towards the woods also. This worked quite well, much to my satisfaction, and to the amusement of my neighbors. And of course, good ol' Tanner was right there supervising the whole thing.

I'm pretty much a warm weather kind of person, so I love spring and summer. It's been really nice these past few days to be able to get outside and listen to the birds singing, putting out the food for the other animals and watch them come and eat. During the long winter months I stay inside a lot, and when I talk to Katherine on the phone she's telling me how warm it is there in Davao, and I can't wait for the time to be back there. There's a few hundred acres of woods behind me, and when the weather is nice I enjoy walking through there. There is a creek behind the house, and further along an old logging road you can find a pond. I haven't tried to fish there yet, but maybe this summer....

So after all our hard work today, I put Tanner in the truck and took him for a ride, since that's one of the things he absolutely loves to do. After all, it's hard laying there for hours, supervising a job like working in the yard. Now I think it's time for a little tv and relaxation....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another Birthday: Another Year Gone By

Waking up this morning I realized I was another year older. Why does it seem that birthdays come faster and faster the older we get? Oh well, I'm off for the weekend, took a couple days just for that. Someone asked me about today being my birthday, and I said to me it's just Saturday.

But it turned out to be ok. Very nice weather here today, it's warmer than it has been for several weeks now, so I like that. Being able to get outside and not freeze is a good thing to me. Then my sister came by and took me out to lunch, so that was nice also. Brought with her a nice cake, chocolate fudge, so a very nice surprise there too.

Of course Tanner has been in rare form today, not really knowing what it was all about, but my niece came by also, my other sister for a little while too, so he's been excited to have company. I have to say he's not a great watch dog, because he never meets a stranger, but it's a happy day for him to get a lot of attention from so many different people.

The only drawback is that the rest of my family is about ten thousand miles away right now, so I miss them and really miss having them with me today. But at least we get to talk and communicate every day, so that helps quite a bit. For the time being it has to do.

So right now I have a pizza waiting for me in the kitchen, then time to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More About My Boy... Tanner

Seldom in my years on this earth has anyone or anything been such a close part of my everyday life as my best friend, Tanner. As a companion, he's loyal to a fault. As just simple company, he makes my every day brighter. I'd have to say he was a Godsend to me, if only for the pure joy of being shown what unconditional love really is.

Now, I'm sure that there are pet lovers out there who might stop by and read this from time to time, and if that's the case then you already have an idea who Tanner is. How we got together was that I rescued him from a shelter as a young pup. For eleven years I had a Siberian Husky named Yukon, and over those years we developed a relationship of respect and dedication to each other. Again, if you're a pet lover then I don't have to explain this. Anyway, old age finally won out and I had to have Yukon put down, this was the day when you would have seen a grown man cry like a child. I came home to a house that suddenly seemed completely empty and quiet, and there was a presence missing that I couldn't have understood beforehand. So after a few days of this emptiness, I called a friend who works at the local animal shelter and was telling her my story, she immediately said "there's someone you have to come meet." The someone was, you guessed it, Tanner, my Golden Retriever.

She let us go out to an area to play and get acquainted with each other, and it was just great. It seems the owners had moved and not being able to take him along, left him at the shelter hoping I suppose that someone would find and take him in. Well, we did our business there, out to the jeep and he was ready to ride. That's the first time I realized how he loves to ride, so now it's just a regular thing, him and me going through the drive thru where the waitresses all know him by name.

He has his own personality, and I have to say I have never seen a more loving or devoted dog. He meets me every day when I come home from work, we have our regular routines each day, and at night he knows exactly what to expect with treats and such. There are actually times when I wonder if he realizes he is a dog at all. We watch TV together, when I'm on the computer, as now, he's laying at my feet under the desk, and believe it or not, he has really become a bluegrass lover. He will lay and listen when I'm playing around on the guitar or piano, but when I play the banjo he stands and watches, when I nod my head he sings, he has even learned most of my ending licks to songs so that when he hears that he knows it's time to come up and be praised for such a good job of singing. Or could it be that smile means he's just happy that it's over???

You can spend time with your pet, and you can learn his or her mannerisms, such as knowing when they're happy, their smiles, when they feel embarrassed or when they're sad. If you pay attention, you can see that they also know these actions when you are feeling a certain way also, and will react on it. As for myself, I feel lucky to share my time with this 120 pound ball of fur and love who gives unconditionally 24 hours a day, and wants more than anything to only get love and attention in return.
If you're a fellow pet lover, I would love to hear of your best friend and some of the things that make you realize this is something special in your own life.