Summer’s last hurrah.


Today is Labor Day, summer’s last hurrah. For football lovers, it’s a day to be here, in our little burg.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.50.09 AM

Hokie Bird & Brutus Buckeye.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are in town to try to avenge last season’s loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies. Not only is it the only game in town, it is, according to today’s Roanoke Times’ Andy Bitter, “…the most anticipated game in the history of Lane Stadium.”

As a native Ohioan who used to collect buckeyes on my way home from elementary school, there was a time when my adrenaline surged at the sound of the OSU fight song:

“Fight the team across the field
show them Ohio’s here,
set the earth reverberating
with a mighty cheer,
rah rah rah…”

I even remember the 1958 OSU/Michigan game when OSU won in the final seconds, 20-14. Thanksgiving break and I was home from college, Ohio University. I watched the game on t.v., screaming and hollering as if I were an OSU coed, as if I were in Columbus.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.59.52 AM

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra), highly toxic when taken internally.

But, time passed, things changed. Now I live within sight and sound of Virginia Tech’s stadium. We can hear the roar of the crowd, see the glow of the lights, watch the fireworks.

Tailgating started before eight this morning. I passed some hearty-partiers on my morning walk. They may have had coffee for breakfast, but they were already having beer chasers. Cars with orange and maroon flags sailing have been rolling into town since yesterday. Grills are heating up, and there are likely turkey drumsticks on the menus, but not so roasted buckeyes, unless of course, they’re in the locker room after the game.

The only game OSU, the 2014 National Champions, lost last year was to VT, 35-21. Their coach has said they won’t really be national champs until they’ve beaten VT this year.

Yes, OSU has a bone to pick while they’re in town, and it’ll be a brutal match-up. OSU may have the national title and admittedly more depth, but VT has heart. I’ll be woo-hooing and “Hokie
hi-ing” from the comfort of my sofa, listening to my English husband grumble because “This isn’t football, this is a game for sissies who have to stop after every play to get further instruction…”  I’ll boo him and cheer my team until I lose my voice.

First thing this morning, I put my Virginia Tech tee-shirt on.  I’m ready. GO HOKIES! 

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.42.10 AM
Hokie Bird/Brutus Buckeye photo: Jim Stroup, 9/6/14
Buckeye photo: OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
YouTube video: CFB Film Study, 2014 OSU/VT game.

Education, cultivation, imagination.

The only thing better than having tea and homemade peach muffins in a wisteria-covered pergola with daughter Leslie would have been to have tea and peach muffins with both daughters in that same pergola, but with the wisteria in bloom. Carolynn lives too far away for spur-o-moment outings.

Leslie and I visited the inventive, wildly imaginative “Simply Elemental” installation at the Hahn Horticulture Garden this week. It was fantastical.

Local artists used varied materials — mannequin parts, oil drums, fabrics and ribbons, glass, construction project remains, and rust —  to create the show. One goal that inspired the group was to demonstrate that art doesn’t have to be framed or permanent to be enjoyed.

We enjoyed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The “Best College Review” website recently featured the one hundred most beautiful college campuses in America. Virginia Tech, number 52, was characterized with a photo of the iconic Burruss Hall. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

The Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden is a stunning spot on [Virginia Tech’s] 2600 acre grounds, adding considerable natural beauty to the school’s main…campus. Maples and dwarf conifers grace the lush, almost six-acre cultivated space, as do eye-catching wisteria flowers and a fish-filled stream that is 200 feet long. …

We who live here already knew about the Garden’s “considerable beauty.” Now we know about its considerable sense of humor, too.

The installation will be in place through September 30.

We don’t play with a full deck.

Wherever a bevy of women of a certain age gather there’s sure to be laughter. A group of dames I consort with, thirty-three if we’re all present, has had some uproarious times over the fourteen years we’ve been together.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 8.52.52 AMA splinter group of us play canasta one Wednesday a month at O’Charley’s. This card-playing arm of the bunch has been “melding” for eight or ten years. Naturally, we’ve, um, matured and some, or maybe all, of us have become forgetful or addled or maybe even doolally.

Many can’t shuffle the cards any more thanks to arthritis and other problems, but we do have several battery-operated card-shufflers amongst us. They make the most annoying sound and seldom work properly. When we use them people in the adjacent bar look our way.

Everyone in our foursome this past Wednesday — AJ, JoJo, Leanne, me — forgot some rule: deal thirteen cards or eleven? is an eight worth five or ten? what’s wrong with two wild cards and two naturals in one meld?

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 11.15.24 AMOur silly mistakes kept us laughing, but then we veered to a discussion about memory loss. Because my husband has dementia I’m considered the “expert.” Someone asked how you would know if forgetting was just old age or a sign of dementia?

I told them that counting backwards by sevens was a test Peter’s doctor always does. Several years ago, he could count backwards so quickly that she would stop him when he got to 51 saying “Well done, good enough.”

“Why I could never do that,” AJ huffed. JoJo agreed, and I knew I wouldn’t get below 93 without pencil and paper. Leanne, the best of us at numbers, started counting, and soon we all helped by “air writing” the figures. We laughed hysterically at ourselves, four women on the shady side of seventy who couldn’t do simple subtraction. We managed to count as far as 65. “We did pretty well, didn’t we?” Joanne said.

“Yeah, but it took all four of us to do it,” Leanne said.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 8.50.42 AM

I love it when stars align, four-leaf clovers stand taller, and blog post ideas spring from unexpected sources. The bit of trivia below came from the widower of a dear friend who always had a joke and who I long ago dubbed the group’s “Raconteur Royale.”

Common entertainment [in the good ol’ days] included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards…applicable [only] to the Ace of Spades. To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren’t ‘playing with a full deck.'”

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 11.37.45 AM

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.18.11 PM