Saturday, August 1, 2009

Meditation on mistakes, missteps, and might-coulds.

My family -- the one I grew up in -- has always played a lot of Scrabble. My mother's mother, my beloved grandmother Gertrude, was the Queen of the Game. She and her sisters played hard core competitive Scrabble well into the days where their fingers were crooked and their minds were sharp (most of the time.) I have, no lie, seen my grandmother and any one of her sisters, flip the whole card table, game board and tiles and all when angry, insulted or just sure that the other sister cheated.

My own sister is the master of strategically playing teeny tiny words in little squares, one word playing on top of the other, utilizing prefixes and suffixes to add yet more points, and playing tight on double and triple word scores; she often wins, and lets us all hear about it.

My brother and his wife are a fine pair in the game. My brother's sweet nature turns sour as he challenges another player's spelling or choice of dictionary, and he famously once played all he could to make "five on ape." Years later, all we siblings have to do to produce a good laugh is deadpan, "five on ape." My sister-in-law, arguably the fastest hungriest reader among us, a good writer and a comedian, could give a flip about using her admirable vocabulary, generally playing something for laughs.

My mother doesn't particularly enjoy the competition, though she plays a mean game while hardly looking or fussing a bit over how she can't play, and pulls out a win almost like a surprise ending to a book you thought you were paying good attention to.

My father is just a devilishly good player; his hat trick performance-- vocabulary, strategy and cunning that doesn't dismiss the capacity to change up the rules to suit his agenda-- mean that the odds are often on him.

My husband is good, but doesn't play often enough to have revealed a set strategy, and my sister's husband isn't usually interested.

Me, I'm a good-- though not great-- player, and win these family games with some regularity and thus the bragging rights. Like my brother, I get cagey and kind of hawkish, but also over-the-top silly. My true gift at Scrabble is knowing when to throw in my tiles, exchanging poor letters for the possibility of something better.

The dumping strategy is a risk, and takes a certain amount of fearlessness, and it is what I hope to bring to bear on other areas of my life. The very humanity of being in a body in the world promises plenty of mistakes, missteps and might-coulds.

My careful consciousness with regard to food and movement has recently taken me down six pounds. But then after last night's family catfish supper over-looking the river, I'm up two.

Today's haul in the garden included a canteloupe, a couple cucumbers, a handful of okra, and another of smallish tomatoes, a small head of cabbage, and a trio of butternut squash. I missed a few okra on last gleaning, so some of these may be too large for use. I've been a poor pruner and trelliser of my heavily laden tomato plants, and the rain and cool weather have made for some sprawled out plants with fruit often eaten in part by birds before I can harvest. After a good inital output, I had to pull out my two zucchini plants, as they'd been overtaken with some bore or fungus that yellowed the leaves and dissolved the root structure.

Having wearied of our inability to beat the rain and mosquitos and thick growth to get the grass cut fully weekly using our push reel mower (we have the classic post tornado East Nashville yard on the edge of the urban center, meaning a larger yard than our previous Lockeland Springs or Eastwood Neighbors ones, and one that's filled with holes and dips where trees used to be, and tall reedy, weedy stuff that the reel mower can't really get hold of) I bought a gas powered mower. Readying it for use today, I erred, unexplainably, putting the oil into the gas tank. Distracted in talking to my child, I just did it before I realized what I was doing.....

I'm not certain what the future holds for the mower and how to fix it, though we've taken the measures we know to take. My husband, in his great frustration with my error and in not being able to start and sustain the mower's motor, punched my car, thus denting it.

Would that I could, I'd throw in the tiles of today, for the possibility of a more fruitful combination.

1 comment:

  1. Bummer on the mower! I think it will many of our smaller gas-powered things (and we have a LOT of them) take a mix of oil and gas so I would think your mower will sail through.

    And it sounds like your zucchs had a squash vine borer. I will be doing a tutorial about how to excise them (it's a bit of an operation) so stay tuned. But!! You can plant more NOW to harvest in Sept. until frost!

    And... I suck at Scrabble!