Flashback: 1950

FlashbackThe strangest thing happened yesterday.  I could have sworn I was back in the 1950’s.

It was the monthly meeting following the Lady Niners golf.  The secretary was on vacation and her substitute was running late, so I stepped in and ended up taking notes for the meeting.  It was not a big deal, as I had been the secretary for another association in a previous life.

Pen in hand, I’m taking notes, settling back into the role of scribe and not actively participating in any discussion.

There was the usual business, along with an update from our Sunshine Chair. 

One husband had died, two others were on the mend after some serious ailments, another struggling.  Sympathies had been expressed from Sunshine and the members who knew the people involved.  The chair shared an email of appreciation from the recently widowed member.

And then, we moved onto other items.

Way down on the agenda were the updates on upcoming invitationals, including one for a Twilight Tournament.  Near Halloween.  Expect some craziness. Sounds like fun. 

Keep in mind, I’m new to all this and was more focused on capturing the discussion along with the correct names of members making comments.

Then it happened. Out of the blue, it happened.

One unmarried member asked for a women’s flight for the Twilight Tournament.  Simple request.

Oh no. came the response from the back of the room. Couples. You can call the men from the men’s clubs and get one to partner with you.

And there it was, FLASHBACK: 1950.

All I could envision was the recently widowed woman, who actually came out and played that morning but thankfully did not stay for the meeting, being told, So sorry your husband’s dead, but you need to find a man in order to play in the woman’s tournament.

Good Grief.

I’m not quite sure why a male appendage would be a requisite for a woman to participate in a ladies’ twilight tournament.  Perhaps said appendage will save us from the deer that roam the course?  Or, perhaps keep us from getting lost during the evening hours?

I can’t imagine a worst nightmare than calling down a list of the men’s golfers, most of whom I don’t know, and asking their spouses or significant others if I could borrow the resident male for an evening so that I could play in a ladies golf tournament.

I wonder if some of these women have actually look around the room.  The single members, through death, divorce or personal preference, are growing. It’s a pretty sure bet, that before The Game is over, every woman in that room is going to end up alone or dead.

Most of the singletons aren’t actually seeking a partner at this point in life.  From what I can tell, we all have full lives and rather like not having to share the remote.

Meanwhile, the discussion of the upcoming Twilight Tournament at next month’s meeting should be, ahem, interesting.  I’m just happy that I won’t be taking notes so I can fully appreciate what is sure to be a colorful and lively discussion.

 

 

 

Don’t Blink

Don’t Blink, Kenny Chesney

*******************

 

Part of living in God’s country is country western music.  It’s literally the only music one can access on local stations. Thank goodness for all the alternative sources of music.

Country Western, in itself, wouldn’t be so bad except that more often than not, the theme is about loss…sad songs pulling on your emotions.

Regardless, a current local DJ favorite is an old Kenny Chesney song, Don’t Blink.

I’ve included it just in case you live in an area that does not favor the CW genre. The song plays well as the backdrop to this post so you might want to click on the play button just to get the full effect…

My kids and four grandsons descended this past week.  We had great fun — the boys spending most of their time paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, playing marathon monopoly and eating.  Lots of eating, but then, they are all still growing skywards. They tower over me, making me that much more aware of just how quickly time is passing.

My oldest grandson recently graduated from University of California, celebrated his 23rd birthday and is stepping into a whole new life adventure.

Don’t Blink.

The two sixteen year old cousins remain two peas in a pod, even though they’re launching in very different directions — one, interning at the California Academy of Sciences, has a science bent that far exceeds his age, and the other, a strong student with multi-faceted interests, is currently dedicated to his first love, playing varsity football.  The fourteen year old missed the competitive gene despite having the build of a football player, but shows exceptional talent as an artist and sculptor.

My oldest and only granddaughter, in her early 30’s, is with her wife in London, where she is living her dream of being the lead pastry chef for a boutique cafe chain.  They are hoping to become moms in the near future.

Which also means I’ll be a great-grandmother.

Don’t Blink.

And my kids?  Hovering on either side of 50 and, despite life challenges in health, family and careers, remain good people.

And that is ultimately what counts.

In all of this, I find it a bit curious that as we age and perhaps face more goodbyes than new adventures, there are unexpected moments of solitude and reflection, usually in the silence after the cars, kids, grand-kids and grand-dogs have departed.

It seems, at least for me, that it is in those moments of Aloneness that I have become keenly aware that the regrets and losses of our lifetimes stay closer than the successes.

The importance of the triumphs of our lives, those events once celebrated, have diminished with time.  Like fine dust caught in a breeze, they leave little more than a whisper of a memory.

But the regrets? oh my.  They hover close, just waiting for that moment of Aloneness to remind us once again of what we might have done, might have given, might have said…

…the different paths that our lives, and the people whose lives we touched, might have taken, if only…

Don’t Blink.

 

YouTube, CoolTube

IMG_0736A few months back, I finally joined the Lady 9ers, as in golf and not the 49er football team.  It took me a while to figure out that probably half, if not more, of the ladies are neither very good golfers nor especially athletic, and are out there for a good time.  Admittedly, we all do have a good time, laughing at our shots and scores, enjoying each other’s company and the lunches that follow our Tuesday morning games.

I’m still working on getting a handicap as I am a fair weather golfer, which means I don’t play if it’s too hot or too cold.  Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the weather has to be just right, which is asking a lot of the Sierra foothills.  It may be years before I actually accumulate ten completed scorecards within a twelve month period so I am truly legitimate.  I keep telling the powers-that-be to just give me a handicap in the neighborhood of 2,358, but evidently the highest I can get is 36.  Like that will help.

I don’t feel especially bad about my lack of golfing skills as I am passably good at a couple other things, so when an email came out asking for support for an upcoming Team Play, I volunteered for table decorations.  I have my mother’s gene; I decorate in my dreams.  A dear friend once told me You are the only person I know who can grab a old scorched pot out of a cabinet, toss a few twigs into it and have a stunning table centerpiece.  If I tried that, it’d look like a burnt pot with dead branches. In all fairness to the pot, it was a scorched antique copper pot.

Regardless, the 9ers’ team leader grabbed me and a fellow-creative-golfer-volunteer, and took us to the decorations shed that held — well, being very kind — dusty, bug infested decorations that had seen better days.  And those days were no doubt decades ago.  Then she announced, No budget and we don’t know how many attendees so we don’t know how many tables.  Co-decorator and I looked at one another and in unison said No problem.  We are both retired teachers.

Any educator will understand that dark humor.  Most years, we had no clue which classes we were going to teach, much less how many students might show up or if we’d have sufficient desks for said students. 

I remember one year when our department chair announced we actually had a budget, a real live budget.  Holy mackerel!  Then we found out each of us were getting $50.  That was fifty dollars for 150 students for the entire year.  Sigh. 

Given that background, no budget for decorations?  No sweat…a little of this, a little of that, a little hot glue, and the decorations turned out cheery and colorful.  So good in fact, that one of the officers called me shortly thereafter.

Do you sew?

I quilt. 

In my mind, there’s a world of difference. A seamstress intuitively knows how to mend a torn hem.  I reach for the duct tape.

But I do have a sewing machine and I do know how to turn it on, which meant I was qualified to be drafted for a new 9er project:  Cool Tubes to wrap around our necks and keep us cool while playing at golf.  uh huh.

She sent me a link to a YouTube demonstration.  Not so difficult. 

I called her back. 

I can handle this.

Do you have fabric?  We have no budget.

Yep, I have tons of fabric. No problem there.  um, how many do you need?

Fifty two.

oh.

Fifty-two tubes, 4 1/2 inches by 43 inches, right sides stitched together and then turned right-side out.  If you ever want to keep younger ones busy and frustrated, give them a few long skinny tubes and have them figure out how to turn the suckers right side out.  (if anyone is really desperate to know, I’ll share). 

Each tube then gets stitched into four segments, with each of those getting a quarter teaspoon of water absorbing polymer crystals, many of which evidently did not want to end up hanging around someone’s neck in a cool tube.  They are all over my quilting room carpet, just waiting for a bit of water so they can plump up and keep my toes cool.

At any rate, the 52 Cool Tubes are now completed and look pretty good for a non-seamstress.

Just don’t say anything, because she’s using these to surprise the members at some event or another down the road…

Regardless, I can get back to the fun stuff.  Like quilting. Bridge. And maybe a little golf if the weather cooperates.

 

 

Moral Licensing

GladwellEvery once in a while I find an author — a story teller, usually — who can weave a plot in the best possible way.   I never quite know where I’ll end up, and I seldom care, because the journey is always such a delight.

Malcolm Gladwell is one of those writers.  He is a Canadian journalist, author and speaker.  I read his books — The Outliers, David and Goliath, The Tipping Point, as examples — arrive at his conclusions and wonder why didn’t I even consider that?

Probably because my mind doesn’t work in the same way his mind does.

And that’s what makes Gladwell so exceptionally unique.  It’s the Well, of course that inevitably comes at the end of his stories.

Gladwell launched a podcast series a year ago.  I have not embraced the whole podcast “thing” probably because of my background as an English teacher.  I read.  I don’t even like Kindle.  I like holding a book in my hands, turning the pages, and getting lost in the imagery and story line.

But, I made an exception this time.  I like Gladwell and, having heard his voice, knew it is an easy one to listen to.  His voice perfectly complements his story telling.

Revisionist History is both fascinating and thought provoking.  I’m going through them in no particular order and yesterday listened to the first one,  The Lady Vanishes, which was especially well done.  According to some critics, Gladwell may have missed a political mark with an Australian Prime Minister, but I think he hit the bulls eye with his conclusions.

His theory explains a lot, at least to me, about what many of us have been observing, both in this country and worldwide.

I invite you to listen to the podcast (it’s about 40 minutes) and see what you think…

The Lady Vanishes

The Footnote

bookSomewhere this side of a hundred years ago, I was a young college coed doing anything and everything I could to avoid taking a foreign language.  Evidently that gene, the foreign language gene, also skipped my children and grandchildren, all of whom struggled through the minimum number of required foreign language units to graduate from high school and college.

I tried to circumvent the entire issue by changing majors five or six hundred times, although eventually I succumbed to the inevitable and took the mandated two semesters of French, which was essentially the same course I had taken in high school, just at warp speed.

Parlez-vous français?  Anyone?  Anyone?

The upshot, however, was that all my maneuvering to avoid the language requirement meant that I had almost sufficient units to graduate with any combination of four majors:  English, History, Political Science, Philosophy.  While I love them all, I opted for the first two and barely graduated, given the foreign language albatross, with a double major.

I was pretty sure I’d never use philosophy for any credible activity in life, but I was very wrong.  As a young, newly married wife, my now ex, an engineer in both career and mentality, was caught in the same foreign language conundrum, except he had to take an Intro to Philosophy class. 

He came home after the first class, weighted down with volumes of Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, FORTRAN (remember those days?) and a slim volume of Plato’s Republic.  He could handle the engineering, even the FORTRAN, but write a paper on the Introduction to the Republic? A fate worse than French, evidently.

I jumped on it. I can do this.  I love Plato.  He looked at me like he had just discovered something new and unique about his bride.  It wasn’t a good unique and, in retrospect, probably a precursor of things to come.

Long story short, I threw myself into the paper, analyzing every nuance and waxing and waning Plato.  The soon-to-be ex turned in the paper without a second look and was horrified to later learn that out of the intro class of a few hundred students, he was one of five — count ’em, five — students who were now honor students and would meet individually on a weekly basis with the professor to chat about philosophy.  He did make it through the class, and if I remember correctly, we did get an A.

But I digress.  This is really about a footnote in a college history text.  I recently recalled reading about the horrific journey of a young wife making her way with husband and young children across this nation’s lands to settle in some godforsaken place.

The author had quoted her, no doubt from some long-saved letter to relatives back home. Thank goodness for my quilting. I don’t know how I would have survived without it.

At the time, I remember thinking, good grief, that woman needs a life.

Of course, she had a life, much more challenging than ours, but I just couldn’t get my head around the comment about quilting.  In my mind’s eye, quilting was nothing more than a tedious chore.

I’m here to tell you, I was wrong on that one, too.

There’s the design part of quilting that is so creative, placing and playing with fabrics until the design comes together and dances.  It’s pure magic when that happens, regardless of the century.

And then, once you know where you’re hopefully headed, comes a quiet meditation in sewing the pieces.  The mind quiets and the process that I once thought so tedious is actually a much welcomed escape from this era’s frenetic chaos and threats, perceived or real.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the more things change, the more we stay the same?

oh, Suzanna…

IMG_0226We began as colleagues and grew into Sisters, ten women with a close friendship of almost forty years.  Mimi was the first to leave, almost five years ago. and we suspect she has spent a good deal of the past five years re-decorating the Pearly Gates, and whatever lies beyond, in a Country French theme.

Last week, Suzanna joined her.  Mimi would have no doubt been among the first to greet Suzanna, ready to show her the ropes for this new adventure.

Suzanna probably had some pithy observations to add to whatever Mimi might have shared.

Suzanna was a formidable woman with a moral compass set solidly to True North. She was down to earth with a quick wit and a heart as big as the great outdoors she so dearly loved. 

Suzanna was quick with a smile and good counsel, a comforting and stabilizing presence. Her tidbits of sage wisdom are still shared with novice teachers:  If the choice is between your sanity and theirs, always choose yours…Have an arsenal of quick comebacks for those very special moments with those very special students…Practice Teacher Conservation.

Suzanna kept an old fashion paper fan on her desk and when she told the occasional risqué story, she’d quickly fan her face to ease the bright Irish blush that was sure to follow. As our conversations thrived on innuendo, we knew a beet red, laughing Suzanna would soon be crying Where’s my fan? while frantically searching for it under piles of student papers.

Peggy and Dianne would visit Suzanna’s classroom with a subtle reminder from an ongoing office conversation, such as a piece of chocolate, an aspirin or a metaphor, and, without a word, hand Suzanna the token and her fan. They’d leave, with Suzanna in full blush in front of thirty students.

One year, Suzanna and Dianne decided to swim laps in the school pool before classes began. Of course, the kids got word of it.  Keenly aware of the teenage gawkers, Dianne hesitated. Suzanna just shrugged, They look at us; they turn to stone before plunging into the pool.

And when Jane and Carla were newly single and contemplating a brave new dating world, Suzanna shared her one and only dating rule: Date men half your age with twice your income. 

Suzanna was generous in sharing her love of nature, taking us kayaking and to Hume Lake. Once, with Mimi and Alice and their kids, Suzanna was determined to share the full outdoor experience and had Blaine leave a little something on the porch for a bear. The bear showed up and wanted to join them in the cabin. Suzanna said she looked in those eyes and the small amount of space where the brain might be, and declared she would never do that again.

Suzanna was fiercely proud of her husband, Reece, and their children. She found joy in their three young grandchildren and, as her health failed, Suzanna delighted in listening to their kids and grandkids laughing and talking outside her open window. She was so very appreciative of Reece’s love and especially the care that he provided in her final months.

While we are finding it difficult to imagine a world without Suzanna, sisters sharing in celebration, heartache, laughter and adventure ~ all while creating lifelong bonds and memories ~ our comfort is in knowing she is now without pain, hopefully enjoying a fragrant flower garden or kayaking in clear, calm waters. 

Honor and Respect

It’s Veteran’s Day. A day for honoring those vets who risked their lives to protect our nation and its values.  My dad was one of the vets who served in WWII.

Much more a coward, I’ve been hiding under my grandmother’s quilt, processing the wide range of emotions from the election results and mostly trying to be still.

Being still took me back to when I first started dating, post divorce, when a good friend handed me a book, The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD., and told me to read it.  I did.

Holy Mackerel.

I’ve since given the book to a number of friends. I’d recommend the book to everyone right now.

At a minimum, goggle Sociopath, review a checklist of the sociopath’s traits with Trump’s rhetoric and actions during the primaries and presidential campaign.

Remind yourself to breathe as you contemplate the next four years.

I live in Trump country, and while my neighbors have been very gracious and understanding towards the relatively few Clinton fans living in the area, I listen to the conversations in the local shops and markets.

Many have taken Trump words at face value and expect their lives will be immediately improved.  One clerk is excited that the VA will be building a facility locally so he won’t have to drive an hour for his annual checkup. Not. Others are fully expecting lower taxes, improved medical care at reduced rates, Clinton imprisoned, immigrants deported, Muslims rounded up…well, you get the idea.

What happens when Trump doesn’t deliver?

Personally, I’ve decided that I will continue to volunteer locally, in hopes of making a difference in a child’s life.

And, especially in honor of the veterans who have so well served our nation, I will continue to respect the Office of the President of the United States and all that it represents.

That respect does not extend to the man who will occupy it come next January 20th.