In which we play a mean game of croquet at the pre-wedding picnic.

The players plan their croquet strategy…

You guys don’t  believe everything I type in the blog headlines, do you?  You really don’t think we played a mean game of croquet at the pre-wedding picnic of our son and his bride  in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, last Friday, do you?

Alas.  Sigh.  It’s not the case.

But you shall have to read on to glean all the crazy mallet & wicket details.

The Picnic Scene. See the croquet game in the background? Now what are my brothers looking at?

Let’s explain a little background.  Back in the days–maybe the 1970’s–our family owned a cottage at Bellaire, Michigan, on a little lake in the upper lower peninsula.  (It gets confusing for you non-Michiganders, doesn’t it? The lower peninsula has an upper part which is below the “official” Upper Peninsula where we now live.  That upper part of the Lower Peninsula is where our family gathered to play a mean game of croquet back in the 1970’s.)

Everyone knows what a mean game is, right?  It’s an accomplished game, a serious game, a game where you wink at your opponent and pretend to be tough, but you’re really having a blast as you play.

Barry and Craig build a fire to help Ryan (best man) cook burgers. Both regular and veggie! (I ate a veggie burger. Barry ate two. Very good!)

Some of us remember my mom as a croquet whiz. I mean, she was cool.  She could hit that ball with aplomb.  She could sail through all the wickets and avoid the home post to become “poison” and kill us all.  She was that good.

She was so competitive she was known to put her foot against an opponent ball and send it sailing into the swamp. She was that good.

Here is my niece, Tianna, with the city of San Diego in the background.

So guess who I choose as my partner at the pre-wedding picnic of her grandson, how many years later?

Of course, I want my mom.

She’s the best.

And, yes, your blogger with her smiling daughter.

Ahem…the heat was on at this croquet tournament.  Then certain folks declared they were out to avenge my mom for hitting Barry’s ball in the swamp maybe 30 years ago.

It was probably not a good time to choose my mom as a partner.

Diaa and Kiah

Here were the teams:  Tianna (my niece) and Scot (my brother), Tim (my other brother) and Michele (his wife), and Kiah (daughter) and Diaa (boyfriend) and Mom and me.

We began the pre-wedding game of croquet in earnest.

More of the crew. Chris, the groom, brother-in-law, Craig, Kiah and Barry

Gosh, dear reader, I hesitate to share this–but, you know what?

I had forgotten how to play croquet since the 1970’s.

It seems like–ahem–certain others in our croquet game had also forgotten.

My beloved dad (in the background) with Scot, Tianna and Chris in the foreground.

Some of us hit toward the wickets.  We aimed our balls mightily.

But, alas, the balls had a mind of their own.

They headed for the divots.  They headed behind trees.  They did everything except head toward the wickets.

And my beloved Mom.

OK.  We didn’t win.  We put in a pathetic performance.  (Sorry, Mom.)  Tim and Michele didn’t win either.

From left to right: Dad, Mom, me, Seunghye’s mom and dad, and Seunghye (the bride).

Scot and Tianna scored big, high-fiving each other and everything!  Diaa, who had maybe never played croquet and Kiah (who earnestly approached every wicket with athletic prowess) came in second.

Seunghye’s parents with Ryan and Chris

I won’t even tell you how the elders did.

And someone–I won’t say who–avenged Barry’s swamp ball from the 1970’s and sent our ball flying way–way–way away.

Enough family photos! Everyone grab your croquet mallet!

Have you played croquet before?

What game do you like the most?

(I think I prefer ping-pong.  At least I did back in the ’60’s and 70’s.  Probably couldn’t hit it across the net these days…if my croquet performance is any indication…)

Brother Tim and sister-in-law Michele plan their moves…

But this is what happened to me and my partner, Mom…

OK, all you people waiting for wedding photos, I think I’ve gathered enough pictures from various sources–OK, am awaiting a final source who has the BEST photos–to soon post the actual ceremony blog.  Tomorrow or the next day or the next day.

Partner’s croquet at the pre-wedding picnic

Thank you for your patience. Now it’s your turn to hit the ball. Please do not hit me out-of-bounds. Please reconsider before you send my ball flying. Please!!! Wait!!! No, no, don’t hit—–ahhhhhhhhhh!  I thought you blog readers would play nice!

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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69 Responses to In which we play a mean game of croquet at the pre-wedding picnic.

  1. poetjena says:

    So thrilled to read your piece about croquet! I used to love that game. What memories your post brings back – wonderful!

  2. Heather says:

    I haven’t played that game in probably 20 years. I am sure I don’t remember the rules. I don’t particularly even like mini golf, so I suspect this is another game that’s not for me. I prefer individual, non-competitive pursuits. I’m sure this says quite a bit about me 😉 Sorry you lost, but glad you still had a great time. At least it *sounds* like you had a great time!

    • Kathy says:

      I did have a fun time, Heather. Even though we lost–big time–(but not as bad as Tim and Michele–shhh, don’t tell!) it was still a hoot. Later, Barry and Kiah played a fun game. Barry lost, too. Shhhh, I shouldn’t be revealing all these personal things. Understand what you mean about non-competitive games. Unless I’m playing ping pong. I’ve got an evil competitive ping pong personality.

  3. Karma says:

    I don’t think I’ve played croquet since I was a child of the 70’s. Maybe it was a big thing in the 70’s? I think a picnic and game of croquet looks like such a lovely, relaxed way for a family to spend time together before a big event. San Diego is just the place for that, just about any time of year, I’d guess.

  4. Dawn says:

    I remember we had a set of croquet balls, mallets and wickets. But it was at a house that we moved from when I was 10…so that would have been in the 60’s and I’m pretty sure I never knew the rules…I think we just liked to hit the balls around! 🙂 I remember my Dad’s dad and his wife playing with us when I was even younger. Hmmm….had forgotten all about that. Thanks for the memories!

    Now. how about one little glimpse of a wedding gown?

    • Kathy says:

      How funny! We were responding to one another’s blogs at the same time! I am so far behind in blog-reading and probably have only been at 10% of my blogging friend’s sites yet. I SWEAR the wedding gown is almost in sight. I can almost see it on this blog, just behind the next croquet shot. lol!

  5. Kathryn McCullough says:

    Looks like you all had a great time. Don’t know that I have ever played an entire game of crochet. Trying to comment from my kindle or I would say more.

    • Kathy says:

      I don’t think you meant to type the word “crochet”, Kathy. But you’ve made me smile imagining playing a game of crochet. Didn’t know it was possible to comment from a kindle! Do you like reading on it? My mom has one and really likes it a lot.

  6. Susan Derozier says:

    It’s been so many years, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Loved the photos of all your sweet smiling faces and tell your mom her outfit is really neat! What a joy to think of you all together. Am waiting for chapter 3!

    • Kathy says:

      My mom will LOVE to hear your words, Susan. She likes to find fashionable pieces that suit her, unlike her daughter. I am glad our delight at being together shines through. Chapter 3 coming up soon!

  7. Val says:

    Three things:
    I’ve never played croquet.
    I read ‘mallet’ as ‘mullet’ and thought you were playing with a fish… 😉
    Croquet makes me think of Alice and Flamingoes….

    • Kathy says:

      Did you like the latest Alice in Wonderland movie (Johnny Depp, Tim Burton director) that came out in 2010? Kiah and I watched it in Florida, and I watched it a second time. Must remember to tell Barry your mis-reading as “mullet”–he would love that!

  8. susan says:

    Hi Kathy,
    Oh delightful as ever! We play croquet at the lake a lot in the summer. Always a challenge since our yard is anything but level! You’ll have to give pickelball a whirl if you come down to visit. It’s “sort of” like pingpong mixed with tennis and badmitton. I’m definitely hooked!

    As for peninsulas being confusing, haha, I live on one, but then I’m just south of “the” upper one. I still think Michigan got screwed or wait maybe Wisconsin actually did, since it should be part of Wisc. anyway. Yes I am confused. Typical. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      You know, SuZen, I’m a little scared of pickelball because it sounds too athletic for me. (Or maybe it’s not?) Glad to hear you play croquet at the lake. And, yep, a lot of UPers are still muttering and rebelling that the UP isn’t part of Wisconsin.

  9. I have not played for decades either, but really enjoyed your pics and your family–I feel I know you

  10. lisaspiral says:

    We used to play croquet back in the 70’s as well. Dad was the mean one, but it was my Mom who had the talent and bless her heart she would use it to help us – hitting our balls towards and through hoops and such. Even with the distractions she often won! As for the wedding photos: “Aubergine! Aubergine! Aubergine!”

    • Kathy says:

      Wow, you had a family member that would help you win? Amazing! I must remember this in my future games. How to be a more cooperative player. Thanks for the story! As for aubergine, Lisa, Lisa, you know how I exaggerate a story. It was just a simple little dress. No one need fuss about seeing it… (And I have yet to discover a full photo with me wearing the dress, ha ha.)

  11. It has been decades since I last played croquet. The last game I watched was at the Lower fort Garry Historical Site just north of us.

    Sounds like you all had such a fantastically fun time! Sorry you didn’t win. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Withershins, I’ll bet that game at a historical site was a SERIOUS game of croquet. Instead of a bunch of novices hitting the ball helter-skelter. (Sorry Tianna and Scot!) We did have a blast. And winning? The game is what’s important, right?

  12. lucindalines says:

    We used to play lots of croquet when our older girls were very young. I have been showing it to the grandson. I think it will be a great time as we age.

  13. Great read. I still have our croquet set from back then (in the garage with the rule book and score cards).

    Glad you’ll had a lovely time….as we like to say in the south “a lovely time was had by all.”

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Linda, we would have SO loved your rule book the other day! We all had to debate the rules and I am only 83.4% certain that we got them right. And you are so right about that lovely time.

  14. Kathy – Oh how fun, Fun, FUN!

    Every single person looks like they’re having a blast! I can’t tell…are you guys in Presidio Park, or Balboa Park, or?

    We were banned from playing croquet because we weren’t civilized enough. Every time we tried, my sister and I would whack each other and someone would end up hurt 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, we were in Balboa Park! The very edge of Balboa Park, I think. We walked their from Chris and Seunghye’s house. But I am most interested in reading that Laurie actually whacked her beloved sister with a mallet!! No, I couldn’t have read that sentence right. Not you! No one went to the hospital though, right? They weren’t mean whacks were they? (I’m not sure I can go to work without having an answer about this.)

  15. Christie Eagan says:

    No worries, you are not alone in forgetting the rules of croquet. I probably haven’t played that game since the 70’s myself. Looks like a good time. Wonderful to see the family (well most of them anyway) all together. Lots of smiles to go around….

    • Kathy says:

      Christie, did you play the game in your yard in Yale? I can’t remember playing it at home; only at the cottage in Bellaire. Glad you were able to see what many of the family members look like now. It was a fun picnic!

  16. Brenda Hardie says:

    Oh my gosh…it’s been so long that I’ve nearly forgotten about the game croquet! lol..I know I’d totally fail at it now! Thanks for sharing the pictures of everyone…they all look like they’re having a great time! What precious memories you’ve all made together ♥ Such blessings indeed! ♥

    • Kathy says:

      That’s a LONG time, Brenda, if you even forgot the game existed. lol! (And don’t imagine that you would fail completely at the game. You would probably play like a certain foursome of us played…) Such memories, indeed.

  17. OM says:

    Well the last time I played croquet was probably the early 50’s, but our family did have a set and we used to play on our front lawn. I don’t recall any specifics except I have some mental pictures of wickets and balls and trying to reach that post!

    It is fun for families to play together and a picnic is far better than one of those formal and expensive “rehearsal night” dinners at restaurants.

    Nice to see your whole family!!

    • Kathy says:

      You don’t remember playing “Poison” do you, OM? That was the most fun! One had such freedom to pursue one’s fellow players with evil (or fun) intent… Oh, this wedding was definitely on the “casual” scale! Although we did spend a huge amount of time in restaurants, too. 🙂

  18. Reggie says:

    Oh What FUN! 🙂 I have never played croquet before, though I’ve always wanted to learn how it works. I always thought it was a very English/British kind of game, so it’s amusing to hear it’s made its way across to California. I think this is a fabulous and far less stressful way of bonding and getting to know each other’s families.

    • Kathy says:

      Reggie, I am 85% convinced that there are different rules for the English and the Americans. (of course!) And who knows if we made up new rules in our latest game? It’s always a possibility! It was fun to have the opportunity to play a wild & crazy game like croquet!

  19. Colleen says:

    Kathy, you all look so happy. And so athletic…especially your Mom! It’s nice to see photos of your family. There looks to be much love happening there.

    Oh yes, we played croquet growing up! Often heatedly, with the same consequences that Laurie describes. Our kids loved it and now our grand kids are carrying on the tradition. I think it’s a DNA thing.

    • Kathy says:

      I can’t wait to tell my mom you said she looked athletic. The Koreans told her how healthy she looked (and she’s going to have a big birthday next month) and she’s still delighted about that. Laughing at your childhood croquet consequences. I don’t know if my brothers and I malleted one another…

  20. AnnieR says:

    I believe we had a croquet set when I was growing up but I seriously doubt we ever played the game appropriately. Mallets, racquets and the like all turned into weapons after about 15 minutes and then someone would get grounded for a week, thus ending the ‘game’.

    • Kathy says:

      Annie, you mean you didn’t play a “mean” game of croquet, lol? You guys have me so curious if my brothers and I attempted murder with the mallets. Because we were not unfamiliar with being grounded…

  21. Wonderful pictures of your happy families having a great time, grilling, eating and playing croquet in the park. Thirty years from now you will have these pictures to stir up some happy memories!

    Yes, I have played croquet before, but not for many years now and I’m sure I don’t remember the rules. I still love badminton even though the last time I played, about a year ago, I fell and badly hurt my hand…

    • Kathy says:

      Do you wonder if our (grand)children–assuming some of us ever have any–will look at on-line photos of family? And do you think our blogs will still be available? What an interesting thought! You have just brought to mind badminton games played by our kids out in the yard. So sorry to hear you fell and hurt your hand.

  22. Carol says:

    It has been many years since I have played croquet, and I’m not certain that I ever played a “mean” game. I have little athletic ability, but a great deal of klutz ability. Does that even it out?

    • Kathy says:

      (shhhh, can I tell you a little secret, Carol? I don’t think we ever played a “mean” game either. But it’s kinda fun to think we did…) And yes, the klutz factor evens things out. You could have played grandly on our team.

  23. sybil says:

    I’d totally blame the playing conditions, too bumpy, wrong kind of grass, sun in your eyes …

  24. Joanne says:

    I don’t know the first thing about the game of croquet Kathy, other that it involves a ball and a funny looking stick, but that didn’t matter as your story was so entertaining! I loved seeing your family photos too Kathy. 🙂

  25. Munira says:

    Great to meet your whole family Kathy 🙂

  26. Marianne says:

    This looks like so much fun! I don’t think I’ve every really played a mean game of croquet. Thanks for sharing your family fun with us, Kathy. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      (Pssst, Marianne, I don’t think I’ve ever played a MEAN game of croquet, either. It just sounded like a fun title to describe our croquet fun.) Thank you.

  27. Fun! I have never played croquet. I’m not so good at sports involving spheres of any sort. :-/

    • Kathy says:

      Lunar, first I read your comment and thought you weren’t good at sports. Then I more carefully read your comment and realized that it was “spheres” that challenge you! LOL. I get your drift and can so relate.

  28. Robin says:

    This is such a fun post. Everyone looks so happy and smiley and… well… FUN. 😀 I haven’t played croquet in ages. M mentioned it recently, saying we should get croquet equipment and learn to play. I reminded him that we have a bocce ball set that we almost never play (and whatever happened to that bocce ball court he was going to set up?). So now we’re going to be playing bocce ball. lol!

    I was just thinking that in all our visits to San Diego, I’ve never been to Balboa Park. I might get there again next year, and I can remedy that. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Robin, happy to see you with your croquet mallet! What color would you like? Blue? Or Yellow? You go first, because I can’t remember the rules to decide who goes first. Yep, it has something to do with how far you throw the ball and which colored ball gets closest to the post. Or something like that?

      Ahem. Excuse me going off in our game. Good luck with your bocce ball game! Take pics, will you, and let me know. You can take pics of M’s feet. He’ll let you, won’t he? **grin**

      Yes, Balboa Park is a must. I wanted to go back to some of the museums there, but was vetoed in favor of Loma Point.

      • Robin says:

        I like blue. Or yellow. I don’t know. You decide. lol! Did you go to the tide pools while you were at Loma Point? I found them fascinating. So many little creatures living in puddles of water, waiting for the tide to come back.

        He might let me post his feet. Not a bad idea… 😀 I did get away with posting his silhouette recently, and he makes occasional appearances as the hiker in front of me with the red backpack. Maybe he’ll graduate to pics of feet.

        • Kathy says:

          Tell him Kathy votes for his feet. He can adorn them as he will for their debut. We didn’t go to the tidal pools this time because Barry couldn’t walk that far on uneven ground (still too soon after his knee surgeries.) I went and posted a blog during the year of the outdoor commitment. Loved those pools! So very cool. OK, it’s your shot.

  29. Barb says:

    Oh, croquet! I played all the time as a kid. I bet my own grands would love to play. But where in CO would there be flat spot big enough? Not in any of our families’ yards. I’m sorry your Mom didn’t win Kathy. But, she doesn’t look a bit competitive. You, on the other hand…

    • Kathy says:

      My mom doesn’t LOOK a bit competitive, does she? That’s here edge, Barb. That’s how she shocks us all! I have no idea where one would find a Flat Spot in Colorado. Down there near Nebraska, maybe. (Doesn’t Nebraska border on CO? If not, I am thoroughly shamed.) I wish she had won, too, because then I would have won!!

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