Playing Golf for Fun and Profit

My husband, Studly Doright, is a Golfer. He lives, eats, and breathes the game, and over the years he’s become rather good at it. He’s self-taught, with a homemade swing that looks a bit awkward, but is certainly effective.

Studly didn’t begin playing until his mid-thirties when our son indicated an interest in learning to play; although, my dad tried to get him involved back when we first married. Studly thought then that golf was an old man’s game and couldn’t believe anyone under the age of 60 would take a serious interest in smacking a little white ball around for three hours on a Saturday morning. My how times have changed!

Every week for the past 20 plus years, weather permitting, Studly has played golf on Saturday and Sunday mornings and at least one evening during the week. His first three years of golf were played in North Dakota, so the golf season wasn’t very long. But Studly was the first one on the course in the frigid spring and the last one off the links in the freezing fall. Our North Dakota neighbors decided that “Tex” was crazy. I didn’t try to dissuade them.

The man is a pretty natural athlete, but golf didn’t come easy for Studly at first. He could hit the ball a figurative mile, but there was absolutely no telling where it would end up. He called it military golf (left, right, left) as we walked a million miles in search of wayward Titleists.

Now, I’m not a golfer. Daddy tried to teach me, then Studly did his best, but the consensus was that some people just are too uncoordinated to even pull a club out of the bag, let alone try to swing one. Even so, I’m a fan of the game and an even bigger fan of my own favorite golfer. Imagine my pride when he told me he’s basically got a 2 handicap. That’s darn good for someone who only began playing in his mid-30’s.

Where at one point in our marriage I detested the number of hours he spent on the links, I’m now encouraging him to play even more. It’s raining? I don’t want to hear it. Get out there, man and hit that ball. You say it’s too cold? Wear more layers! Put on heated gloves! Too windy? Suck it up, buttercup! I’m signing him up for the senior tour next year, and he won’t make it with a 2 handicap. No more slacking!

Peace, People!

“Kathy and the Cats” or The Power of Praise

I remember when I first wanted to be a writer. I was a second grader in Mrs. Gregory’s class at R.C. Andrews Elementary in Floydada, Texas. The class was assigned the task of writing a story based on a series of pictures. Those pictures remain imprinted on my mind:

Frame 1: a little blonde girl stands on her porch looking at a kitten
Frame 2: the little girl gives the kitten a bowl of milk
Frame 3: more kittens come to the porch
Frame 4: the little girl gets more milk
Frame 5: more kittens are on the porch
Frame 6: the girl’s hands are in the air and she looks distressed

Mom saved the story and every so often I find it tucked away in the pages of an old scrapbook. I must have just become familiar with the idea of using a period because they are everywhere, especially where they don’t belong. After a brief battle with autocorrect I’ve successfully copied the story below. Note the spelling of “hungry” and the use of the word “fixing.” For your reading pleasure:

“Kathy and the Cats”

One day when Kathy was going for a walk. to look for her lost kitten Frisky. She had just walked out the door when she spotted her kitten. Then she said I bet Frisky is hungery. So she brought him out some milk to drink. She was just fixing to go in when. She heard something. When she turned around she saw more kittens. So she got more milk. And fed them. Then more and more kittens came. Then finally she threw up her arms and said I have more kittens than milk.

Mrs. Gregory, who really did not like me very much, had written “S+ Very-very good” in red ink across the bottom of my paper. Mom said, “You did such a good job! Maybe you will be the writer in our family.”

Now, for all I know, Mrs. Gregory might have written the same praise on every student’s paper, but at that moment I decided I was going to be a writer. I just had no idea what that meant. And, I had no idea how to find an audience once I was out in the world. Thanks to the advent of web logs (a.k.a. blogs) we can all have an audience.

So, I credit Mom and Mrs. Gregory for putting this writing idea in my head. And I thank you for being my audience.

Peace, People!

It’s the Little Things

Like…

Finding an episode of Criminal Minds that you’ve not seen before

Having fresh guacamole made to your taste right at your table

Opening up a fresh loaf of soft bread

Discovering a new author whose books speak to your soul

Listening to a song that lifts your spirits

Identifying with a character in a novel

Having that aha! moment when working on a project

Completing a less than fun task in a fun way (you should see my toilet cleaning technique)

Singing in the shower and sounding like a pop star

Clicking through the channels and finding “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” already in progress

Getting an old-fashioned letter in the mail

Snuggling with a kitten

Kayaking with my Studly on the lake behind our home

Getting surprise calls from my youngest and oldest grandchildren on the same day (thank you D and Ninibelle)

Having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the patio with a good friend

Dancing

Finding peace within myself if only for a moment

Having a good dream about loved ones I’ve lost (Mom, thanks for your “visit” last night)

Hearing the words, “I love you, Nana!”

What are your little things?

Peace, People!

In This Corner, Weighing in at…

Have you ever felt like you just needed to beat the stuffing out of something or someone? I’m pretty much a pacifist, but right now I’m not feeling the love. And I have no idea why I feel this way.

It’s as if a cloud of seething, buzzing anger has gathered round me. Maybe it was on its way somewhere else and I got in its way. Wrong place, wrong time. I’d tell this anger cloud to run along, but really, that wouldn’t be fair to its next victim either. Nor to the victim’s victims.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could put on some light boxing gloves, step in the ring, and go toe to toe with someone? Just work everything out in a three minute bout. Any takers?

Unfortunately real life doesn’t work that way. So, I’ll keep plugging along, and I’ll try to figure out the source of my anger and deal with it. I feel a little bit better just having written about it.

Peace (Really!) People.

All Good Things

After three months off, this week I begin working again. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I’ll be bringing in the big bucks. (It was hard to type that with a straight face.) On the other hand, I’ll be giving up my life of leisure. No more midday naps! No more dressing in tank tops and flip flops. And, I’m going to have to talk to real people. Let’s hope I remember how that works.

Seriously, I am thrilled about continuing my relationship with the Florida Council for Reading Research (FCRR). This year we’ll be working with second graders in five counties, and I’ll be coordinating the efforts in Gadsden County.

I taught for several years, and I’d like to think I was good at it. The truth is, I probably was mediocre at best. I loved, loved, loved the kids, but I stunk at the organizational skills a good teacher needs in order to be effective. And, I was moody. That’s a hard truth to face, but it affected my ability to be a calm, caring professional.

There is a performance aspect to teaching, and I thrived on that. I never sat down, never relaxed, never fully settled in to the art of teaching, which should be more about the child than the teacher.

The position with FCRR is all about the kids. After conducting individual assessments, we engage small groups of students in targeted literacy interventions to help them develop the skills necessary to become competent readers. At the end of the semester, we will conduct post-testing to measure the effectiveness of the interventions. I was part of this program last spring, but came into it towards the end, so I am excited now to see the process from the beginning.

So, I’ll forfeit the naps, dig into my closet for blouses with sleeves and shoes that don’t flip and/or flop, and charge headlong into doing something I really enjoy. It will be nice to feel productive again.

Peace, People!

Food Glorious Food

One of the best things about moving to a different part of the country is finding the really good eateries.

I ate at Food Glorious Food in Tallahassee on Friday. With a name like that, it had better be good. And it was. Really, really good. I don’t often write about food, and I’m not one to post photos of my culinary adventures. I won’t now because I devoured every morsel before I even thought to snap a picture.

My lunch was their Maison salad and a club sandwich served on the softest, tastiest bread I’ve ever had. For dessert, I had a slice of Key Lime pound cake. Mercy! I wish I had the skills to tell my readers just how incredible this was. All I can say is, if it were human, this pound cake would make George Clooney look like Elmer Fudd on a bad day. If there is food in heaven, their Key Lime pound cake will be elevated above angel food cake which has the whole name thing going for it. This is why I’m not a food critic. I tend towards hyperbole.

Tallahassee isn’t a big city, but it has a surprising number of top notch places to dine, perhaps because it serves as the state’s capital. Here are some of the non-chain restaurants Studly and I have discovered:

Paisley Cafe is a breakfast and brunch place. They have the most delightful selection of baked goods, along with fresh fruits, omelets, and lots of other yummy stuff.

The Front Porch Great atmosphere! Situated in a big old southern style house, The Front Porch specializes in seafood and killer mimosas. I drank 7/8 of a carafe all by myself one morning. I don’t remember much after that.

Wells Brothers “Monk’s” has a ridiculously large selection of gourmet burgers. Studly likes PB&J on his.

Voodoo Dog is near Florida State University and caters to the college crowd. Their Wake n Bake is the best hotdog ever imagined. They take an all beef wiener, wrap it in bacon and lay it on a fried egg before putting it into the bun. Oh, and there is cheddar cheese baked on top of the whole shebang. Paradise on a bun.

The Seineyard has terrific seafood. Of course they fry 99.99 percent of it, so I don’t eat there often. They also have world famous cheese grits. I’ve become a fan. Their hush puppies are just right, too–perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside.

Z Bhardi’s Italian Cuisine is the best Italian place I’ve ever experienced. The atmosphere is romantic, the service impeccable, and the food divine. Even Studly liked it, and he doesn’t do Italian.

Ok, I’ve made myself hungry. Remember that Key Lime pound cake? I saved a piece and I’m having it for breakfast.

Peace, People!

What’s a Gingy?

When our son was born, my mom decided that she wanted to be called Grandmother. Not Granny or Grandma, Nana or Mimi. Grandmother. Well, that was all well and good, but our son had other ideas. Jason didn’t talk early. We began to wonder if he’d ever talk at all, but by three he had a decent vocabulary. Try as he might, though, he could not say Grandmother or Grandaddy. What emerged was something that sounded a lot like Gingy, so my parents, for better or worse, became Gingymama and Gingydaddy. And, since he was the first of the grandchildren, it stuck.

Daddy’s 81st birthday would have been yesterday, and since yesterday’s post was on the sappy side I thought I’d have my children and nieces and nephews post their memories of their Gingydaddy.

Jason texted, “Him rescuing me from the side of a mountain…teaching me to pee without unbuttoning my pants aka the utility of the zipper…first set of golf clubs…how to flirt…taught me how to use a knife to slice an apple….”

Ignoring the pee remark, I asked him what Gingy had told him about flirting

“I just learned by example….”

Sounds like some valuable lessons Gingy was passing along. He was a hopeless flirt.

Ashley texted, “Genius,” was his email password, but he could never remember how to spell it! He had to cut Christopher’s seatbelt off when the Gingys took us three oldest grand kids to California. He called one of his nurses Donut Girl. He never fully stopped at a stoplight; he always inched forward until the light turned green. How he always had to show us off when we’d go visit him at whatever grocery store he worked at. Oh, and the seatbelt! He would never buckle the damn belt, just held it right above the clicker while he drove to fool the cops. He never met a stranger.”

My niece Claire, said, “Sitting in lawn chairs in the garage with the door open just talking about life and laughing about him getting numbers from the ladies from the piggly wiggly!”

Nephew Christopher added, “Easy! Eating Oreos with iced milk.” I think he made sure all the grand kids experienced the joy of Oreos in milk.

Hanna added this to the group text, “Fishing in the little pond in red river, nm 😊”

Their memories are all so different because Gingydaddy was easygoing. He was able to live in the moment and find ways to connect with each of his grandchildren.

Gingydaddy loved taking the kids on vacation. I think the saddest thing for him about his COPD was that he could no longer make those big memory-making trips. Daddy told me once that if he’d known he was going to live into his 70’s he’d have taken a lot better care of himself. Damned cigarettes. Damned habit.

Peace and Good Memories, People!

Not Just Any Man

He was my daddy, and I was his little girl. Not biologically, but in every way that mattered. I don’t remember when he came into my life, I just know that he was always there when it mattered. According to my mother, I had Daddy wrapped around my little finger from the moment we met. Again, I don’t remember that. I just remember enjoying every moment I spent with him.

One of my earliest memories is of a time that Daddy and I drove together to a football game in Amarillo. From the age of four, I was Daddy’s football watching buddy. He taught me about first downs and illegal blocks, quarterback sneaks and Hail Mary passes. Living in small town Texas we were avid fans of the the local high school team, the Floydada Whirlwinds. We seldom, if ever, missed a game. Usually, we attended as a family, but on this occasion Mom stayed home in protest, saying it was too cold.

I vividly remember the drive to the game. I was standing in the seat next to Daddy (we used the old “parental arm” method of child safety restraint back then). Snow was falling in huge flakes, covering the road and making it hard for us to see. To keep me occupied, Daddy taught me to watch the odometer so I could count off the miles to Amarillo. Pretty soon, I could pinpoint a mile with my eyes closed. It seemed like a really long distance! According to family legend when we got to the game everyone was amazed that he’d brought me with him, driving into one of the worst storms in memory. My Nanny and Grandaddy were there and I snuggled into the warmth of my family to watch the Whirlwinds win. I don’t remember the cold, just the love.

Daddy managed the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Floydada for many years. As soon as I was old enough I’d walk to the store–we only lived a couple of blocks away–to see Daddy and spend my allowance money. I got the hefty sum of $1 a week, coincidentally one could buy a 45 rpm record at Piggly Wiggly for 99 cents at the time, so I had quite the collection. No matter what he was doing, Daddy would stop and give me a hug and a kiss. If he wasn’t terribly busy he’d ask me to tag along. I got to go behind the swinging doors to smell the fresh produce as it came in. I got to watch the butchers cut meat with the huge slicer. I got to be part of his world.

That world continued to turn. Daddy had his own store for awhile, but when that didn’t pan out we moved to Dumas. The Piggly Wiggly chain closed its stores in Texas and Mom and Dad moved to Canyon and then several years later, to Abilene. My brothers and I had all grown up, moved away, and started our own families. Life was as it should be.

Then we lost Mom to cancer. After Mom passed away Daddy’s life changed dramatically. He was still working, so he could take some memorable trips. He took one to California to spend time with his sisters. He traveled to our home in Kansas and to the homes of my brothers. He’d take off and head to the casinos on occasion.

Daddy and I went to Ruidoso, New Mexico, one weekend for the most fun I’ve ever had losing money. I’d driven from Kansas to see him, and I hadn’t been at his tiny apartment for longer than 15 minutes before he said, “Sis, you want to go to the casino?” So off we went. Daddy hit a hot streak at the blackjack table while I lost at slots. Every now and then I’d wander by his table and he’d hand me a stack of chips that I’d pocket. He decided I was the best gambling partner he’d ever had since he actually took home some money. He took me to the horse races and told me I bet just like my mom, code for, “you aren’t very good at this,” but again he won some money and said I could gamble with him any time. That was high praise, indeed.

Then the grocery store Daddy had been working for closed with no advance notice. Studly invited him to move in with us. Our kids were grown by then and we’d been transferred to Florida. We had plenty of room and sunshine year round. Yet he declined. He didn’t want to be in the way. Finally Studly insisted. Daddy was sick and really needed to be closer to family. So, we had Daddy with us.

Those were great years. Daddy and I got to know each other as adults. He told me stories about his Navy days that left me speechless. Stories I cannot repeat here. Great Stories. He and Studly played golf as long as Daddy was able, and even after his COPD no longer allowed him to play he’d hang out in the garage and create the perfect bag of clubs for a particular course.

Studly earned a nice promotion that prompted Daddy to call him The Director, from that point on, and was transferred to Illinois, so while Studly worked, Daddy and I explored our new state. I started doing some substitute teaching and Daddy hung out around the house. He had his daily routines and a nice little pickup truck, but he spent a lot of time sitting on our front porch and interacting with our neighbors. No matter where he went, he made friends. And we got to talk. We still enjoyed our football games and he’d still make an occasional run to the casino in Peoria, but his lung disease was getting the best of him.

His last days were spent in the hospital. We had made arrangements for hospice care, and on the day before we were to take him home, he perked up dramatically. He and my brother Kelly and I had the best day. We talked and made plans. We reminisced and laughed. When Kelly stepped out of the room to take a call, Daddy said to me, “Sis, in case I forget to tell you, I really had a great time with you and your brother today.”

That night he had a stroke and he passed away the next evening. Today would have been his birthday. My Daddy, my love. I miss him every day.

Peace and Love, People.

Only The Lonely

Last week I gave out my email address to a complete stranger. Oh, we’d stood next to one another in the checkout line at Publix, but I don’t even know her first name. It started with a D. Dianne? Denise? Desiderata? Surely I’d have remembered that one.

Lonely people do odd things, like speaking to ourselves and answering our own questions out loud. “What do you think of this shirt?” “Nice, but it might be a little tight.” “You think so?” “Yea.” All me. All true.

We say odd things to waiters: “Is this the only menu you have?” “I really like your Muzak!” “Yeehaw, this is good!” Ok, I made that last one up.

We make odd observations aloud: “Hey, you have really cool ankles!” “I wish I had your cowlick!” “Today’s gonna be a good day!”

We try to make eye contact with people who look to be in our general age range, give or take 30 years. Yesterday I got into a meaningful conversation with a nice lady over a shoe sale at Dillards. I really think we could’ve been best friends, but then the woman’s great-great granddaughter gave me a look of pity before wheeling her out of my range.

Now, I’ve always been odd. Being lonely just amplifies it. Honestly, I like my own company, but it would be nice to have someone to hang out with at the beach or to go shopping with while Studly plays golf.

That’s all for now. I think myself and I will go to Goodwill. Lots of nice people there.

Peace, People