Conversation From a Long Marriage

Him:  What did you do with the packet of pumpkin seeds?

Her:  I was paying; the checker handed the packet to you.

Him:  I must have put in on the cart and then you took the cart to put it away.

Her:  It wasn’t in your pocket?

Him:  No, I didn’t put in in my pocket.  I’ll go look again in the car.

Her:  Okay.

Him:   It was in my pocket.

Her: Huh.

Riotous laughter ensues.

(“I told you so” is strictly for amateurs…it never gets a laugh and shared laughter is one of the primary keys to a long and successful marriage.  Also growing things together: families, gardens, etc.)

Embroidering a tale

Generally, when you say someone is ’embroidering a tale’ you mean they are adding details to the story that may not strictly be true, but I assure you the details of this story are quite true and the embroidery is, literally, embroidery.  With a needle and thread.  And hoops and scissors and needlebooks and all the accoutrements one collects for a hobby like this, but I digress.  This story is about why I started a collection of embroidered kitchen towels to celebrate the seasons of the year and here they are:

Why?  To display on this cutting board:

Like this:

And now for the tale, but it’s a bit of a shaggy dog of a teacher tale, I warn you, and it requires some setup that goes back a ways in time.  I’ll be as brief as I can.  

When our son James started high school, he and I went to collect his schedule and it seemed to have an error because it placed him in both Algebra and Geometry in his first semester.  I asked the guidance counselor if that was correct because I’d thought those 2 courses needed to be in sequence and that Algebra was a prerequisite for Geometry.  It seemed like a lot of math for a first-semester freshman in high school to take on all at once and James said he didn’t think he’d signed up the previous spring for 2 math classes at once but he wasn’t sure.  The harried counselor took one look at the printed schedule and said, “Oh no, no, no, that’s not right…here we’ll just leave him in Algebra and sub in Wood Shop for Geometry, here you go!”   And she handed the marked up schedule back to us and turned to the next parent/child duo in line to get their schedule confirmed.  Wait, what?  WOOD SHOP?  I turned to James and asked, “Is this okay with you?”  He shrugged and said something like, “Sure, I guess.”  If I’d had more than 10 seconds to think about it, I’d have insisted they leave the schedule intact because he was more than capable of studying high school Algebra and Geometry at the same time, but we’d been summarily dismissed and I figured learning to use wood working tools was probably a good thing for a young boy who spent most of his time reading and noodling on his computer.  

A little more background is required.  The high school had just hired a new Ag/Shop teacher, a Mr. Butters, who was purported to be an expert in farm mechanics and shop with many years of real world experience.  No amount of real world experience in any field can prepare one for the pressure cooker of the high school classroom environment and poor Mr. Butters was no match for the students in his shop class.  James came home day after day with stories about the misadventures of Mr. Butters, but the ones pertinent to the story at hand are as follows.  There were lockers for the woodshop students in which they were to store their projects in progress, but locks were not allowed.   There was a final project assigned: a laminated cutting board.  Each day, James would cut the wood he needed to make his cutting board and place the wood in his unlocked locker.  The next day he would go back and his wood would have been stolen and he’d cut the required pieces again.  This continued until there was no more wood left and he still hadn’t made his cutting board.  So he went to the scrap wood pile and scrounged enough pieces of scrap wood  to make a cutting board that was an exact replica of the one that was assigned, only smaller in every dimension (a real life Geometry problem if ever there was one…) and Mr. Butters took one look at the finished project and said, “It’s not the right size,” and gave him a low grade on that assignment, which brought his semester grade for wood shop down to a C because it was the final and most important project.  Later that year after I’d gotten to know the principal and was meeting with him in his office on a completely different subject I did tell him the story and said, “There goes James’ chance at Valedictorian…”  thinking it was a pretty good joke.  And indeed, he DID miss being Valedictorian four years later by a very few grade points, which was just fine by him since he didn’t want to give the Valedictory address anyway and his nearly perfect SAT scores secured his place at his college of choice.  All’s well that end’s well, although Mr. Butters was summarily dismissed at the end of the next year.

Now, this cutting board became a decorative fixture in my kitchen because James had made it and given it to me and it was a reminder of a very funny story and a visual aid should I care to tell the story of how James, our National Merit Scholar, was graded down and got a C in wood shop for figuring out how to shrink the cutting board pattern to accommodate the scraps of wood left to him after he’d cut pieces for nearly everyone else in the class at the proper dimensions.  All for the lack of a lock on his woodshop locker!  But then, I came into my kitchen one morning and found someone had USED the cutting board and made scratches on it!  Now that would not do at all.  I had to find a way to send a message that this cutting board was decorative only and never to be used.  So I looped an obviously decorative kitchen towel over it.  Then I got the idea that it would be fun to have a rotating seasonal display of embroidered kitchen towels.  And a collection was born.  And a cutting board saved.  And a family story memorialized.

It’s a Crack Up

You never want to slip through the cracks, crack your head or have to get up at the crack of dawn after a night on the town, but you might think something is Crackerjack, or you could want to have a crack at a job or crack up an audience with a joke.  However, cracks on tennis courts are no laughing matter and should be repaired asap. 

When cracks on tennis courts reach a certain width and depth, I have observed that they can contribute to player injuries in 2 primary ways.  The first way is the most obvious and that is simply catching a shoe in a crack and falling.  That actually happened to me many years ago and I was out of the game for months as my deeply bruised right wrist healed from that fall.  The second way is more subtle, but can be just as injurious.  When you play tennis, you learn to anticipate how balls will bounce and you position yourself accordingly to intercept and return the ball.  Anything that causes an unanticipated odd bounce is going to require a last-second adjustment and that is what can cause players to injure themselves, either by losing balance and falling or from having to reach for the ball unexpectedly and wrenching a back or overextending an arm and shoulder. 

Of course, some wily players can knowingly create odd bounces by putting back or side spin on the ball (aka “English” or “slime” in the vernacular of the courts) but experienced players can usually spot spin immediately off the opponent’s racquet and/or in the air and are therefore on the alert to the fact that the anticipated trajectory of the ball may change and the bounce might be unpredictable.  Forewarned is forearmed and adjustments can be made for taking an oddly bouncing ball in a safe way.

Also, wind can wreak havoc with tennis, but again, everyone on the court is aware when it is windy that balls can bounce erratically and extra precautions must be taken to avoid injuries.

So my plea to clubs where I play is always, “Fix the cracks, please!” 

Incidentally, aren’t those about the cutest tennis shoes you’ve ever seen?  Let your uniform committee choose any color for your team and you will be prepared if you own these babies.  Thanks Julia for permission to feature your shoes, which, happily and for the record, did NOT get stuck in any cracks today.  Whew!


Goodbye Fever, Hello Covid Arm

File this under “It’s Always Something.”  This one is not too bad, just unexpected.  It turns out that you can have a delayed reaction to the Covid vaccine that causes this itchy red rash at the site of the jab.  Well that actually seems like something you’d expect to happen after a vaccination, but right away, within the first 24 hours. What’s unexpected about this one is that it develops later rather than immediately.  So just when you’re feeling better from the systemic effects of the vaccine and are expecting the usual post-vaccine soreness in your arm to be getting better as well, you suddenly feel like it’s getting a little worse instead of better and it’s red, hot and itchy too.  It can last for a while.  They call it Covid Arm, of course, and just Google it for all the information anyone could want about the condition, but I’ve already done that and the bottom line as far as I can see is that it’s harmless and might actually be a good sign that your immune system is working quite well in response to the vaccine.

Well this time the fever and body aches were mild and only lasted 24 hours, so I will happily trade the 3 days’ worth of fever spiking at times up to 102 degrees that I had after my last Moderna shot for a milder, shorter fever episode and the later-arriving hot, red spot on my arm that may hang around for a while I got from this Pfizer shot…assuming it doesn’t get worse…  

Pass the lollipops, please

Who remembers getting a lollipop at the doctor’s office after getting a shot?  Well I just got my Covid and RSV inoculations this morning and all I got was an opportunity to stroll the aisles and spend money in Walgreen’s while I waited the requisite 10-15 minutes to make sure I wasn’t going to pass out or go into anaphylactic shock from the vaccine.  I did buy a few things while not passing out and now I think I’ll have a little nap while my body decides whether it’s going to make me really sick over this, or just a little uncomfortable.  Prepared for the former, hoping for the latter.  I never really liked lollipops anyway.  Here’s a much better reward:

They come in droves

Cedar Waxwings

Some years they do, some years they don’t, but when they do it’s spectacular and kind of scary in a Tippi Hedron sort of way. You know what I mean if you’re of a certain age.

Testing 1, 2, 3

This is only a test of my WordPress App from my phone. If this were an actual blog post, you might expect to finding something amazing or amusing or faintly interesting. Sorry to disappoint.

It’s a lucky day when…

You are attempting to put your hair in a tidy pony tail with an elastic band and the cheeky, bouncy band pops out of your hand and carves a perfect arc toward the bowl of the commode next to the bathroom counter and you watch with bated breath as it misses the bowl and lands innocently on the ground.  It really is the little things in life that you most appreciate, especially after a week spent fighting a beastly head cold.

Kids at work

A T-ball game is the purest form of sportsmanship there is and very entertaining.  Everyone roots for all the players on each side.  Everyone bats until they get a hit and then everyone in the stands cheers them on, urging them to run to first base.  Some of the players know where it is, some of them don’t.  Doesn’t matter, a coach from one of the teams will point a wandering base-runner in the right direction and make sure they get there, even if someone has tagged them out.  If they have been tagged out, they go back to the dugout none the wiser.  Win, win, win.

If you ever get a chance to attend a T-ball game, don’t hesitate.  You will go home with a smile on your face.

Shut that box

Here’s a new dice game we’ve been enjoying over Google Meet or Zoom:

Shut the Box

Only instead of buying one of the admittedly lovely wooden versions of the game, I just created a pdf file to print out on standard paper in landscape format with large numbers from 1-12 across the top, printed it out and put it in a plastic page protector. As we use the numbers, we cross them off with a white board marker or children’s washable marker and erase after every round to reset for the next one. Between the actual play and toting up of the the scores after each round, the addition never stops in this game. It’s a sly way to get kids to practice their addition facts.

Have fun!