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.

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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.'”

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Nothing like a Dame!

Our buckets were gently used ice cream tubs, Folger’s coffee cans, an oversized tankard, and one actual bucket that had seen better days.

We came armed with beach towels, hats, cameras, and high spirits in spite of the chilly, drizzly day.

We eight No Name Dames, representing a twenty-seven member group of “secessionist Red Hatters,” gathered to honor the memory of our friend Beth. She died a year ago after a nearly two-year struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known in this country as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Beth was annointed the Raconteur Royale of our group. She always had a funny story to tell or a Broadway show tune to sing. We know she was laughing and shivering right along with us today.

For our frigid dousing, we raised nearly six hundred dollars to add to the Ice Bucket Challenge. As of August 26, 2014, there are 79.7 million dollars from 1.7 million donors in that bucket! All in just two months. By this time last year, only 2.5 million dollars had been raised via the usual sources.

Our donation, perhaps just drops in the bucket, were our drops, and every little bit counts.



Eight Dames take ice showers — Ann, Joanne, Kathy (white cap), Nancy, Penny, Sharen, Priscilla, and me.