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

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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.

 

The Cutting Table

IMG_0773This post is more for quilters or quilters-to-be.

I have a quilting room.  At times, it’s the designated second guest room, but most of the time, it’s just for quilting and it’s mine.

Among the quilting bloggers, the where and how to manage the fabric storage and cutting of said fabric seems to be a topic of much discussion and consternation. 

I thought men stressed over their garage workrooms. They have nothing on quilters.

Given that I was a novice, I read quite a bit about how others set up their rooms, especially as I had never sewn before, much less quilted.  I needed to learn from others who were more experience than I.  That meant I read a lot.

My quilting room, an office in a previous life, came with a closet that is actually a wall of built-in shelves hidden behind folding doors.  Not so good as a bedroom closet, but perfect for fabric storage.  A match made in quilting heaven!

Finding the perfect cutting table was a different story.  Dining room tables apparently have a corner on fabric cutting.  It seems no one eats in dining rooms any longer and, as they’re a wasted room, why not turn them into cutting rooms?

My dining room was once a family room/kitchen.  It’s now a dining room/kitchen, not that it makes any difference.  I seldom eat in there.  But, as it’s in the heart of the house, I didn’t want it cluttered with fabric, scraps and threads.

Besides, the table height would break my back bending over to cut, and my back is already old and broken.

Scratch the dining room.  And find a designated cutting table.

I first looked at the standard cutting tables made for home use and quickly discovered that they are (1) not that stable, (2) relatively expensive for what you get, and (3), being perfectly candid, ugly.  Not as in ugly like a lovable ugly dog contest ugly, but ugly as in old Formica white ugly.  Scratch them.

Then I looked at the hacks. Ikea has the market on cutting table hacks, with hollow core doors balanced on cubed bookcases a close second. All workable and all solid and presentable, but the cost for delivery far outweighed any potential benefits. I needed a truck to make that one work. The hacks hit the dust.

That left me searching for a reasonably priced counter height dining table, preferably in a dark wood that would blend with the rest of the furniture in my quilting room.  Yep, picky, but it’s a room that needed “sing” to set the stage for comfort and creativity. 

It was an adventure, so to speak, searching for the perfect cutting table that was really a counter height dining table.  Months passed, and then finally, there it was:  a 36″ deep X 60″ long x 36″ tall counter height table.  Dark wood.  Solid wood.  Free delivery and a very reasonable price. A steal when compared to the advertised cutting tables, even if those do fold up when not being used.

The box holding the table top and four legs arrived at my front door, free shipping included, and it took me all of ten minutes to drag it inside and attach the legs.  My neighbor helped me turn the table right side up. It took longer to cut the box into pieces for recycling.

The quilting room is finished. I’m happy, my back is happy and my quilts are happy…it’s all good! 

 

Le Chat Noir

Chat NoirThere is no easy way to say this, but once a much loved pet has gone onto Pet Heaven, you are left with all the belongings to deal with.

I called the local cat shelter and asked if they’d take donations.  Gladly. 

So I gathered up the bed BlackJack refused to use, and litter and food and dishes and carrier and catnip and brushes and toys and loaded them into the car, certain that I would never again have a pet.

uh huh.

My rationale goes along the lines of a new cat would probably outlive me, or, if I got a senior one, I’d be going through another death and I don’t think I could manage losing another animal.

So, off to Sammie’s Place, the local cat and dog shelter.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by the lead volunteer, who wanted to first show me around and explain their program.  Then, we could unload the car.

I probably should have bolted right then and there. But I didn’t.

They are short on Volunteer Cat Cuddlers and, in the neighboring building, Dog Walkers. The cats were now vying for my attention and cuddling. I needed at least two or three more arms.

I have to admit, the cats were very well behaved and no doubt wanted to be adopted.

Three or four rooms later of cute kitties, of all ages and colors, and I was getting sucked in.  Then the volunteer dropped the other shoe.

It seems they also have a Foster Program…take a kitten to socialize, no thanks, past that stage of life, or a senior cat and provide loving home. They would cover all costs — food, vet, litter — and all the foster parent has to do is provide the home.  They would even take fostered cat back for visits if the foster parent wanted to travel, had guests, needed a break or was done fostering.

Such a deal, as my dad used to say.

It was about that time that we walked into the last Kitty Room, the one with the more skittish and/or feral cats.  And, there, in the middle of the room, sat Le Chat Noir.  He was very skinny with unruly black fur and wild gold eyes.

He stared at me.  I smiled at him. The volunteer said Be careful, no one can get near him. He’s really skittish and he fights. 

The cat was now rubbing up against my legs and loudly purring. He wanted to be petted.

I reached down, petted him for a bit, purr, purr, purr. 

Be careful, warned the volunteer.

Put, purr, pure, answered the cat.

I finally told Le Chat Noir Look it, I’m old. Bad back.  If you want to be petted, I have to stand up and hold you.

Damn cat jumped into my arms. I stood up and cuddled him.  Purr, purr, purr.

The volunteer just watched.

After a while, I said This cat needs brushing. The volunteer said something about no one being able to get near him, was I certain I wanted to try?

Hand me the brush.  The cat loved getting groomed.  He even tolerated me working through some of the matted fur.  Purr, purr, purr.

Volunteer was sure she had closed the deal and Le Chat Noir had a new foster mom.

ah, not so fast.  I said he is so skittish that I’d worry about him bolting outside with the friends and family who wander in and out of my home. And he was too old to survive outdoors.

So we settled on me returning to cuddle cat(s), maybe walk a dog or two, and not making any donations quite yet.

I drove back home and unpacked the car.  Sigh.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

It’s about the heat.  Oppressive heat.  Unbearable Heat.

I know the Sierra foothills are toasty.  Some, like me, might even call it hot. When I moved here, I was mentally prepared for hot.

Not this.

Even my friends in the cooler, temperate San Francisco Bay Area are complaining about the heat.  They should try here.

The local weathermen and women have been struggling to come up with different adjectives to describe what’s in store for the upcoming days.

Scorching, searing, blistering, burning, roasting, sweltering. Hot. Very Hot.

Day after day of unrelenting 100 plus weather has been challenging, not just in surviving, but in keeping any semblance of normal daily activities.

Household chores? Too hot.

Golf?  Are you kidding?

Quilting?  ah geez.

Even the lake activities are minimal.  It’s simply too hot.

So I read. And read some more.  Mediocre books, good books, almost great books. Books re-read. I feel like I’m back in the classroom as a student of English Lit,  except, to be honest, more often than not these are brain-candy books.

It’s just too hot to read anything else.

My neighbors, longtime lake residents, escaped last week to the northern California coast. They kept extending their stay, enjoying the warm, clear, sunny weather — typically the north coast is cool and foggy all summer, which in turn, keeps all of California tolerable. We’re all wondering if this, like other things, is going to become the New Normal. 

I want to know how to contact the  clowns that deny global warming.  I’d like to invite them here for a prolonged stay. And pay my electric bill.

In the midst of this relentless heat wave, I am searching for ways to keep the house relatively cool without breaking the bank over air conditioning. Windows open at night; closed before the morning sun intensifies. Shades drawn and lifted. Fans on.  A bit monotonous, but it helps mitigate things.

IMG_0758This morning I eyed the two large skylights which are fantastic for letting in the winter sun, not so great in the midst of a never-ending heat wave.  What to do?  While I had a couple ideas, I thought it best to at least venture onto Pinterest to see what others had done.

Quite a bit, evidently.  Everything from old blankets — functional, but not the most attractive — to high end blinds with remote controls.

I settled on re-purposing some old Ikea full length curtains, first used for screening a covered deck from the late afternoon summer sun, then reinvented as curtains to cover garage windows from the morning sun and help keep my previous home cool, and now, well, a new life beckons.

A little measuring, cutting, sewing and three curtain tension rods later, voilá!  A new skylight covering.  Not the sexiest, but not the tackiest either. 

The easiest one is done; the other, in the vaulted ceiling over the gas range, is going to have to wait until one of my tall, taller, tallest grandsons shows up. 

In the meantime, let the sun shine in…I’ve begun viewing the heat as just another excuse not to cook or do housework…now, where did I put my book?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BlackJack

IMG_0218

 

Today I said goodbye to my longtime feline companion, BlackJack, who slipped quietly into his next adventure. Needless to say, I will miss his energy, loving nature and friendly personality. As everyone who met him knew, BlackJack was a character who, at a muscular eighteen pounds, looked and moved as gracefully as a panther, acted and cuddled like a dog, but at the end of the day, he was a cat and he owned me. Especially my heart.

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.