April Adventures

Weekend before last, Jason, Scott and I traveled with Troop 800 to Sherando Lake park, near Waynesboro for a weekend of camping.  Jason’s chief goal was to fulfil his requirement to complete a 5-mile hike, which he did, in spades, since it turned into a little more than 8 miles by the time it was over.  We enjoyed a nice lunch by a waterfall and a couple evenings under beautiful, clear, starry skies (even if we were on high alert for bears the whole time).


As plans were shaping up for the trip, I let Scott know he had a rare chance to come along, even though he’s still in Webelos.  When I told him it would be over two nights and parts of three days, he said, “I don’t think I want to go camping more than one night.  What are we going to do?”  We’ll be hiking.  “I don’t like to hike.”  I told him if he doesn’t like camping and doesn’t like hiking, maybe he should re-think the whole scouting thing.  As it turned out, he had a great time, including learning the art of lashing.


On Sunday, it was back to Richmond for the PBS “Explore the Outdoors” event, where we caught up with Laura and Grace, who’d spent the day before shopping and watching the new “Cinderella” movie with Granny.  Before the rain came to spoil the fun, Grace got to catch up with an old friend.


Shipping Out (for the Weekend)

Jason and I had an adventure this past weekend as BSA Troop 800 made a weekend outing to Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach.  Among the highlights was a day trip to the Norfolk Navy base for a guided tour of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.  It’s hard to say what left a bigger impression: how immense the ship seems on the outside, or how close and tight it feels on much of the inside.  Except for the hangar deck, where we entered, much of the vessel is tight quarters, indeed.



That row of windows towering above Jason is roughly ten stories up; on the other side of them is the ship’s bridge.  A little while before this picture was taken, we were on the other side of the windows looking out, and Jason got to sit in the Commanding Officer’s chair, if only briefly.  One neat and unexpected attraction was a small museum showcasing artifacts and personal items from the life and career of Teddy Roosevelt.

Other trips over the weekend included visits to the Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk and the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, as well as numerous shorter “trips” on the ice at Camp Pendleton; the base was covered with about 4 inches of snow, which in turn was topped with a layer of ice at least an inch thick.  Still, hanging out in a heated barracks with real beds beats sleeping on the ground in a tent any day, especially if that day is in late February.

I gather the Roosevelt will soon be leaving Norfolk for the Mediterranean, after which it will return to its new home port of San Diego, so I’m glad we got to visit while it was still here.  To the men and women of the Roosevelt, thanks for your service and your hospitality.  Jason and I wish you smooth sailing.


It’s 2015 (Where’s My Hoverboard?)

Well another year’s gone by and as usual this site’s been largely neglected.  I always start out with every intention of posting regularly, then the next thing I know it’s New Year’s Eve again.

It was supposed to be easy; I downloaded an app that lets me post from my phone, from anywhere, on a whim.  I think I’ve used it once.  I bailed out of Facebook (having had enough of cut-and-paste “words to live by,” political screeds, believer vs. atheist brouhahas, cute cat pictures and friend requests from strangers…let alone the not-so-slow erosion of privacy rights) so I figured, “hey, now I don’t have to save the blog for lengthy articles: I can use it for the kind of brief blurbs I would’ve posted to Facebook.”  But I never got around to those, either.

Then towards the end of last year I got big fat bill from my host (FatCow) because, as they no doubt planned and I cluelessly obliged, I crossed over quietly from the “cheap introductory hosting rates” and into the “billed at regular rates” phase of our relationship.  So now I have even more incentive to actually DO something with this site I’m paying good money to hold onto.

So, we’ll start with a post to catch us up on life in the Morefield house.  Jason continued his chess career, competing in the Eastern Open in Bethesda Maryland over the Christmas break and ending in the #4 spot in the under 1900 group; not bad as he doesn’t get nearly as many shots at tournament competition as most of the players he was up against.  Also, he still doesn’t have a coach.  In fact, he’s been employed as a coach himself, teaching a class on Thursdays at a local private academy and on Thursdays at various Richmond middle schools as an employee of the Richmond Chess Initiative.

Meanwhile, Scott continues his love affair with the piano, and regaled us with many Christmas songs over the holidays (his “O Christmas Tree” is amazing).  While we’re lucky to get Jason and Grace to practice the pieces their teacher assigns each week, Scott eagerly takes on his assignments and, when he bores of them, downloads sheet music from the internet to practice whatever other songs catch his fancy.  Knowing I’m a bit protective of my guitar, he was excited to find we had another one crammed into a corner, a little folk guitar that has since become his.  So now he’s teaching himself chords and translating his piano sheet music for guitar.  Santa obligingly brought him a strap so now he can do the wandering troubadour routine.

Grace is enjoying her dance lessons and can be heard practicing tap routines in her sock feet just about any time.  Her teacher is always pleasantly surprised to see she’s actually spent time between lessons learning the steps.  Grace can also often be heard singing in her room, about anything and everything she’s doing or will be doing, or can imagine.  It’s hard to recall what the house was like before all these sounds — piano, tap steps, singing…and the occasional shouting match — but it must have been creepy quiet.

While Jason competed in his Maryland tournament, the rest of us had some time to kill, so I took Scott and Grace to DC to visit the Air and Space Museum, where Scott impressed me with his knowledge of aviation history.  He was particularly excited to be in the same room with the Spirit of St Louis and later the Wright Flyer.  I have no idea how he knows so much about either of them. Laura says the secret with homseschooling Scott is to leave interesting books lying around the house; sooner or later he’ll find and read them and file away facts and figures for retrieval when you least expect it.


The other big news, I guess, is that Scott’s got his braces now, and Jason’s are on the way.  So there will be a steady flow of Morefield money into the field of orthodontia this year.

Also ahead for us: more tournaments, more scout camping trips and family travels.  We’re trying to build a master calendar to keep track of it all, and make some decisions about which events take precedence, or else this year is going to beat us up for sure.  But whichever way it goes, I’ve resolved once again, and hopefully to greater effect this time, to chronicle it all here on this blog.  If the next entry is titled, “Happy 2016,” you’ll know I blew it.





Labor Day Adventures: Jason the Chess Champ

Well, this blog thing is working out great, huh?  No updates from April to September.  Anyhoo…

We had a lot of excitement over the Labor Day weekend as Jason finished the 78th annual Virginia Closed chess tournament with 5 wins and 1 draw, making him the 2014 VA State Amateur Champion.  At age 11, he is officially the youngest winner in tournament history.

A year ago, the Virginia Closed was Jason’s first adult tournament and even then he went in with dreams of taking top prize.  Alas it was not to be, but he stuck with it over the past year, boosting his rating by around 500 points (and more, after yesterday) and devouring every chess book he could get his hands on.  One of his adult admirers noted that Jason’s a great example of a “self-made” champion as he has no coach, no school club to back him up and no prodding from his parents.  Everything he’s achieved has come down to his own personal initiative and dedication.  Obviously we’re hugely proud of him for setting a lofty goal and making it a reality.

There was a cash prize involved, but Jason’s more excited about having his picture featured on the Virginia Chess Federation website for the next year, and probably in the next issue of the newsletter.  As someone who admires and respects great players, it means a lot to him to be recognized by his peers.

While all this was going on and Laura was relegated to “bide time and wait for results” duty at the tournament hotel, Scott, Grace and I checked out a classic car show at a nearby strip mall.  Scott’s the car fan in the family and he was excited when a 1955 Dodge Lancer pulled up behind us on the way in, with its fins and chrome and two-toned paint job.  His eyes really bugged out when we parked near a 1910 Ford Model T, so I was sure to get a picture of him and little sister next to it.




Then it was off to Build-A-Bear, where Granny and Grandaddy oversaw the adoption of My Little Pony #2 in Grace’s collection, Twilight Sparkle.  Grace’s plan was to get Twilight, then have her live with Granny for a week before coming home to “mommy” Grace (and sister Pinkie Pie) on her birthday Sept. 9.  Hard to believe Grace will turn 6 that day.

In the interim, we’ll be enjoying another visit from Grandma Patricia and — considerably less fun, I’m betting — holding a massive yard sale over the coming weekend.  I expect there may be some stories to share here from that experience, hopefully not of the “horror” variety.

More Chess Bragging

The kids continue to be obsessed with chess, and they’re getting better all the time.  This past Monday, they participated in a simultaneous chess demonstration with Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg at the Maggie Walker Governor’s School.  There were about 50 kids (and a few adults) of all ages competing against the Grandmaster in simultaneous games, which was pretty cool to watch.




Scott and Grace made a good showing, but Jason surprised us by outlasting all the other competitors and hanging on for 48 moves.  By the end, the crowd had thinned out considerably (hungry kids and tired parents eager to head out as soon as their games finished!) but most of those still around gathered at Jason’s board to watch the end game.  I don’t know from chess but I understand from one of the coaches that Jason had a shot at taking the game at one point.



There was a photographer there from the Times-Dispatch, but when the story went to print it wasn’t Jason who got the spotlight (the photographer left early on) but Grace.  She was featured on the front of the “Metro” section in a big color image.

Thursday night was Chess Night at “Stuffy’s” sub shop on the VCU campus and Laura took Jason as usual.  While they were there, the simul was a topic of discussion among the players, who were put out that the newspaper devoted  just a blurb to the game and even then elected not to run a photo of the Grandmaster, who after all was the star of the show.  “All they had was a picture of that little girl,” they griped.

“Well,” offered Laura, “that’s probably because the little girl is so cute.”