Words With Friend

Don't you just love this descriptive forecast? Is it raining on you yet? Please describe to me what that's like!!


Hi 97 °F

My Friend:
As the gentle breeze carries the cool temperatures of the north woods of Canada into the broad expanse of Minnesota, there is a hint of rain as the air is endowed with moisture, seeking a collision with warmer air wafting up from the deep south to cause a release of a soft rain that will help sustain the 10,000 gleaming sky blue waters. The dark shafts of rain can be seen in the distance as the weary clouds release their loads. The Spring gardens are full of life and have myriad of green pallets.

How’s that?
I’m off to a meeting—yea!! :)

Spectacular! You make me smile.


Local Color

Kathleen and I had a little adventure in Austin the other day. We played Bingo. Maybe it sounds a little odd or out of character and perhaps it is, but we do like to experience local color where ever we are and this qualifies without a doubt.

Bingo halls are everywhere. It's likely that you have driven past large ex-supermarkets with waving flags, hugely lettered signs spelling out B-I-N-G-O and an overflowing parking lot on a Friday night. If you are like me you really never considered stopping to see what it was all about. You probably didn't give it a second glance or a second thought really.

I am not without curiosity so a new acquaintance of mine offered to show me what the game of Bingo is all about. Kathleen and I have no idea what to expect but we are game. We find my guy quickly when we walk into the giant non-smoking side of the hall. People are milling around and the long rows of tables are occupied here and there with single players and some with groups or couples who have come to play together.

Our Bingo tour guide is just the nicest of guys and has the gift of being part salesman, part comedian, part teacher and part businessman making him the ultimate host. He's just this lovely big ol' East Texas sweetie who has, what my friend Bill would call "The Teddy Bear Factor", meaning that people in the hall gravitate to him as one would a long time friend, seeing him as trustworthy, forthright and lovable. With all of this and the addition of his red tie and vest, he is nothing short of precious and endearing.

Apparently I had a misconception that the people here playing Bingo would be similar to the segment of the population that I found in the casino in Lake Charles last week. I had never been to a casino in my life and after that experience, I really have no desire to go to another one. I wandered aimlessly around that pretty upscale casino watching people play the Slots and Craps and various types of Poker and nothing about that experience appealed to me or even entertained me very much. I like "people watching", but even that didn't appeal to me at the casino.

Kathleen and I arrived at the Bingo hall shortly before the start of the first session because our host had told me earlier in the day that we should get there and get into the "Zen of the game" before the session started. I thought he was kidding me, but he was dead serious, explaining to me how Bingo is a quiet game that lets people just focus on the squares, the game, the numbers and the fellowship, allowing them to shut out all thoughts of their crappy jobs, bad marriages, financial woes and every other worry they might have in their life.

I am amazed by the diversity of the people here in the Bingo hall. I'm telling you, the ethnic diversity alone is pretty astounding, but the range in the age of the players is also eye opening for me. Our host whisked us past a fifty or even sixty-ish year old, possibly Filipino woman with a machine, multiple paper cards and a bevy of ink daubers in every color laid out in front of her on the table. Our host jokes with her like one would with his sister-in-law or something and says "I would seat y'all at this table, but she's mean!" They both laugh and she is just adorable.

I look around me and find that I am in an environment I really didn't expect to find in a Bingo Hall. It is super clean, organized, fun, and safe-feeling to this old girl. I think Kathleen is surprised as well. She had locked her purse in the trunk of her car, choosing not to bring it in with her. There is nothing rif-raffy about this place that maybe I expected. It seems like everyone is represented here. I see groups of sorority/fraternity kids, well dressed and diamond studded. I see single 50-ish year old men and women playing alone and happily not looking for a hook up. A young white woman sits behind me, a young black woman sits to her right, and a young hispanic girl sits one row down and to my left (and by "young" I mean they are each probably between 25 and 30 years old.) An older semi disabled woman comes in just prior to the second session. She is obviously a regular player and is treated like a queen by the staff. The staff, from what I've seen are all very friendly and energetic as they chat and joke with the players as they wander up and down selling pull tabs and extra game cards. They bend over backwards to make sure everyone is having a good time.

Our host explains "the roadmap" which is a list of the games that will be played during all the sessions that evening. He sets us up with electronic Bingo machines for the first session. These machines automatically mark some internal cards per game for you. You just hit a button when the number is called and watch the card populate. The machine keeps track of how close you are to winning with your cards moving up in the order as they get closer to a possible win. Neither of us wins during this session, but it gives us a really visual demonstration of how the games are played. The first session consisted of five games and lasted a little more than an hour.

For the second session, we decide to play the traditional paper card way. Our guy brings us a full pack of sheets for the second session and an ink dauber for each of us. Each sheet contains 12 bingo cards. You play one sheet per game, the color of the sheet corresponding to the color indicated on the road map. The caller announces the game and the wild numbers before he starts pulling balls. The games could be "Double Postage Stamp", "Granny's Quilt" or "3 Lines Hard Way, No Free Space" or a multitude of other games which are named based on the pattern required to win the game. I screwed up my first game just by marking my wild numbers wrong. I thought the caller said "any number with a two" was wild when in fact he said "any number ending in a two" is wild. Ok, Nancylou, pay attention!!!

I thought that Kathleen and I would probably run the risk of getting reprimanded for being too loud, 'cause we do tend to get loud and silly when we are together. But we managed to behave ourselves even with the "6 beers for 6 quarters bucket" of Costa Rican beer we had in front of us. I've known Kathleen for at least 15 years and she said to me "I don't think I've ever seen you drink a beer, Nancy". Well you never saw me play Bingo before either, did you?

We are playing and looking over each other's shoulder to see how our games were going. I'm distracted from time to time looking around at what's going on in the hall and watching in fascination at how some of the other players keep up with multiple "three up" sheets while simultaneously playing machines and buying extra cards for the next game. At one point Kathleen jabs me with her elbow to jolt me out of my people watching to tell me to mark the new number that was up on the monitor.

All in all I found this Bingo thing to not only be fun and friendly, but somehow it was also relaxing, mesmerizing, surprisingly exciting and in no way "as common as a grandma in a Bingo hall!"

Off The Beaten Path

  • Picture me driving around Austin in a red 1966 Chevy Impala convertible with the top down, because I've actually done that several times in the last few weeks.
  • My son is not interested in the the mainstream Prom, so he and his girlfriend and several others dressed up and had an evening picnic in the park.
  • I have a new acquaintance...a sweet and groovy single mom who has a pet prairie dog named Thomas.
  • On my way to Lake Charles the other day, I was so happy to be on the other side of beautiful Beaumont until traffic slowed to a snail's pace because there was a bass boat in the middle of the freeway.  Just a boat, no trailer, nobody parked on the side of the road grieving over their lost big boy toy.  Just a busted up boat blocking my lane.
  • Anna and I got home late yesterday and she was completely unpacked by dark.  This morning I made migas. We are drinking coffee and watching the ultimate chick flick "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days" She spills her coffee like she does every morning and I just roll my eyes at her.  She tells me she only spills her coffee at home, but that she once dropped her TV remote into her cup in her dorm room.  She says it still works but that it's kind of sticky.
  • Kathleen and I are going to play Bingo on Friday night. 
  • Daniel gave me a new journal for Mother's Day. A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on one of the first pages says "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail". 

Splendor In The Grass?

I whacked my knuckle on my right ring finger and it's swollen and black and blue and I can't get my ring off.  I have a huge bruise below my fingers in the palm of my left hand. Waaa waaa waaa.  Boo hoo for me.  The source of all my "agony" is this -- I bought a gas powered 25 cc trimmer (aka a "weed eater") God, I'm such a girl...It is insanely dry in the Hill Country and my land is over grown with flammable material and I need to tame my place and get the fuel away from my house before it burns to the ground in a lightening storm. Ok a little drama never hurt anyone!!

I pride myself on following written instructions exceptionally well.  The assembly instructions for this trimmer confuse me though since I am replacing the original "spool" with one from another manufacturer. The instructions for replacing the spool talk about trimmers that are "left rotation" and "right rotation" and tell me to choose the nut from the package that threads most easily onto the shaft (after, obviously, I have removed all of the factory made parts from the original  trimmer spooler). Exsqueeze me?  I love the phrase "A fool with a tool is still a fool".

Ok barring all further details, I get the unit assembled, then disassembled, then put back together with the new spooler and now I have to load the line.  For right rotation machines, I need to go counter clockwise, for left rotation machines I need to load clockwise. The owner's manual doesn't tell me which one I have so how do I know unless I have line loaded and can watch it rotate? And here's another problem...Yes, if I see that I have a right rotating machine when I'm looking from the top, when I flip it over so it's upside down to load the line -- which way do I interpret the instructions? Counter clockwise from the bottom is opposite from counter clockwise looking from the top. Shit. It takes about one minute of eatin' weeds to figure out I got it bass ackwards.

Ok. I admit I feel a certain surge of power when I start up the beast with a couple of expert (ok, instruction-led) adjustments to the throttle and some pulls of the cord. Yep definately more powerful than my Black & Decker battery operated baby that I killed.  That little girl would have been no match for all this tall dry grass and brush that I need to deal with this year.

I do four or five twenty minute sessions. When I come inside to get a drink of water, I can't hold the glass because my hands and forearms are shaking.  I am happy I have some of those Ozarka sport water bottles to suck water from. I'm hot, I'm sweaty, I'm itchy, I'm frustrated, I have so much more to do, I have grass in my panties and yet I HAVE THE POWER!!

Day Two begins with me not even remembering how to get the beast started again. I'm up early because of the heat.  After multiple attempts, I reread the instructions and finally get it cranking. I do three or four more sessions by 1:00 p.m.  It hits a record high for the day at 95 degrees, today, May 1, 2011. When I'm completely and utterly whipped, I take a shower and come out to sit and cool off and find that a cold front has come through and dropped the temp about 25 degrees or more.  It's cool and dry and breezy all the dry grass I chopped down is blowing down my hill.