Archive for June, 2015

The Single Senior Takes a Tip from Mark Twain

June 15, 2015

The Single Senior Takes a Tip from Mark Twain

            Pine needle pickup time again. Dave’s grandchildren are not coming up to do pine needle cleanup so I called the guy I used last year. A week and a half went by and he didn’t call back. Bobbie from Book Club told me of someone who removed the needles once they were raked, so I decided to do it myself. The task was made immeasurably easier by the fact there were none on the roof this year. Still, raking pine needles qualifies as aerobic exercise since it elevates my heart rate and causes me to perspire for more than twenty consecutive minutes.

My granddaughter Abby was visiting. I remembered the chapter from Tom Sawyer where he gets the neighborhood kids to whitewash the fence for him. I needed the pine cones picked up before I raked the needles. I sweetened the deal by offering to pay Abby a penny a pinecone. She used grocery store sacks but she didn’t like that.

We went over to Joan’s house the next morning and Abby asked Joan if she needed pinecones picked up. Joan said “yes” and offered the same going rate as me. But Joan had a green lightweight barrel. Abby found this much more to her liking. Joan also had small suede gloves so the pinecones didn’t prick her hands. Abby picked up 300 pine cones and I helped her empty them into Joan’s garbage. Joan allowed us to take the green barrel home. Abby and I got to work. I raked while she picked up pinecones.

Abby and the handy dandy green barrel

Abby and the handy dandy green barrel

I had to go to town to get replacement string for my weed eater and tarps to move the raked pine needles. We worked several days, me raking the needles and maneuvering the weed eater while she picked up pine cones.

Abby told me she wanted to earn enough money to buy a Pinewood Cookie (from the Country Club) for herself and her little sister Savannah, who would be up on the weekend.

When my son, daughter-in-law and Savannah arrived, Savannah also wanted to help. She swabbed part of my deck with microfiber cloths to get rid of the yellow pine pollen but she tired of this.

Meanwhile Abby made her goal. She earned $14.00! She had picked up 1100 pine cones in my yard. After eliminating all the pine cones, she decided to rake pine needles. She enlisted her sister and father to help her empty the tarp of pine needles onto the existing pile.

Nick, Abby and Savannah move pine needles to the big pile.

Nick, Abby and Savannah move pine needles to the big pile.

That afternoon, when thunder and rain made us exit the swimming pool at the Pinewood Country Club, Abby ordered two Pinewood Cookies (a skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie with ice cream, syrup and whipped cream) and shared them with her sister, me and her parents.

Abby earned another two dollars which she promptly gave to her sister. I am so proud to have a son and daughter-in-law who brought up such fine human beings.

I still have more pine needles to rake but I will get them done tomorrow so they can be hauled away.


June 1, 2015


pickleball closeup

            I went to my first pickleball lesson last week, as per my summer resolution number two. First I ordered a pickleball racket and six balls from Amazon. During the class Doug suggested light weight rackets so we wouldn’t damage our wrists. I’ll go to Sports Authority when I’m in the Valley as no place in Flagstaff sells pickleball rackets.

Doug Pusateri is kind enough to lend his expertise and endless patience to introduce novices to the sport. A pickleball court is one quarter of the size of a tennis court. The rackets look like ping pong paddles on steroids. The balls are whiffle balls, only a little smaller. They make a satisfying “knock” when smacked by the paddle.


Five people showed up for the class. Doug went over the rules and how the game was scored. He set us up to try it. Three of the class members looked physically fit and after a few volleys I could tell they were coordinated. One fellow looked like he might be in my lack of talent group, but he was much better than me after fifteen minutes. I noticed I was on the losing team both games we played after switching partners.

Some people have natural athletic ability. I am not one of those people. When I went to summer camp as a teenager I took private tennis lessons twice a week for the entire summer. I never learned the game. The instructor did teach me how to balance the racket on my fingertips. He told me I was a hopeless case. It reminded me of the time in fifth grade when the chorus director told me, just before our concert, to please only mouth the words. Or the time when I was nine and my piano teacher told my mother not to waste any more money on lessons.

My second husband was a terrific golfer. I bought clubs and took lessons. I wasn’t any good but I could hit it fairly straight. I believe it’s called “pitch and piddle down the middle.” I hardly ever kept score when I played with friends. If I was holding the group up I just threw the ball towards the hole.

I believe that anyone can learn the mechanics of writing and do a decent job, but it requires talent to write like Poe or Twain. I figured the same should hold true for pickleball. If I practiced volleying and serving I could play with other people without embarrassment. I went to the pickleball court another morning and spent half an hour volleying against the wall. I had six balls. I waited until I hit all six over the wall before I retrieved them. It was quite a workout. I figured I have another week or two of practicing before I’ll join a beginners’ game.

My eight year-old granddaughter is coming up for a week to go to golf camp. I have two rackets so I’m sure I can get her to practice with me. She loves it when she’s better at something than I am and it doesn’t bother me at all.

P.S. The Monday Night Blues Band plays at El Patio, at 409 S. San Fransisco Ave. in Flagstaff on Monday nights 7-10 pm.  See you there!