Celebrations: Birthday petanque, booksigning

Mexicanhat Scarletbugler

I had planned on finding time over the holiday weekend to write about the next wave of wildflowers blooming in our yard, but what with having Molly and her boyfriend Mark visiting, plus resuming our annual petanque party to celebrate Richard’s birthday (more about that in a moment), I didn’t get to the blog. I’ll write about our wildflowers in the next post. (That’s Mexican hat on the left in the photos above, and scarlet bugler penstemon on the right.)

The big news is that Richard felt good enough to enjoy our annual Fourth-of-July-weekend tradition, when we open our house and yard for an afternoon of fun and friends in celebration of his birthday. (His 61st is actually later this month; we celebrate on the holiday weekend so that Molly and other family can come.)

After Molly and Mark arrived from San Francisco on Friday evening (via Denver and a visit with my Dad), we went into party preparation mode. For Richard, that meant finishing his project of fixing the leaking faucet in our master bath (thanks, Tony, for the last-minute problem-solving!) and “banking rest” by taking extra naps. I worked on readying the house and garden and organizing food and drink, and Molly and Mark helped with food prep and ran errands.

By Sunday noon colorful canvas umbrellas shaded each end of the petanque court, chairs and loungers were arranged in groups on the porches facing the court, and the inlaid steel trestle table we use as a dining table (a Richard design) was on the front porch covered with platters and bowls of artfully-arranged finger-food. Drinks were chilling in an ice-filled galvanized steel tub nearby. (I wish I had shot a photo of the spread, but I was too busy playing hostess.)


People began arriving (that’s Molly hugging her aunt Bonnie, above, with Richard and his brother, Ron, watching), and pretty soon the porches were filled with groups eating and talking and laughing. Before long, someone broke out the petanque balls, and teams formed, and the action was on.


What is petanque? It’s a French bowling game played outdoors on earth or pavement. (We think we have the only regulation petanque court in Chaffee County, and perhaps all of south-central Colorado; we know we have the only one with wildflowers for hazards.) Petanque, also called boule, is like bocche ball, but played with steel balls. Each team takes turns “bowling”  toward the cochonet, the small wood target ball. After all the balls have been played, points are measured by how close each team’s balls are to the target ball, and then the next round begins. It’s fun, anyone can play, and it’s a game with a wonderfully leisurely pace perfect for yard parties!

(That’s Richard in the photo above, concentrating on the cochonet as he prepares to bowl. The photo is actually from several years ago; I didn’t get any shots of the game this year because, well, I was too busy playing hostess…)


People came and went all afternoon, and by the time we gathered under the porch where Richard was resting in a lounge chair to sing “Happy Birthday” and wave the birthday placards created by our friend Sheila, the crowd had thinned from about 60 people to just two dozen. Thanks to those who came to celebrate, to those who sent love and good wishes, and to all who walk with us on this journey with Richard’s brain cancer. The wave of love you create is the best kind of infusion, sustaining Richard–and me–through these grueling days. Bless you all!



Something else to celebrate: I’ll be joining authors Laurie Wagner Buyer, Margaret Coel, WC Jameson, Mara Purl, Joe Stone, Kathy Brandt, and Mario Acevedo for a reading and booksigning at Denver’s fabulous Tattered Cover Bookstore tomorrow night, July 6th, at 7:30 p.m to celebrate the new anthology, An Elevated View, Colorado Writers on Writing. (The event is at the Tatt on Colfax Avenue.) There’s another event at the Woodland Park (Colorado) Library Thursday night (6:30 p.m.), plus events in Salida and Gunnison (Colorado) in September. If you’re in the area, come hear us and pick up a great book!