And climb the stairs to the beach...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Morning Folks 03 18 09

Morning Folks.

Some of you know that I have been "sort of" trying to play golf off and on for the year or so. I consider myself a pre-golfer. You know, like in pre-schooler? I go to the course, but it isn't "real" golf, the way I play. Like a pre-schooler, I spend some time in the sand and I cry a lot when things don't go my way. I can't say that I play well with others yet, but I do try.

We play at a little course in a neighboring town. This course is not very swanky, but it is also not crowded. It's flanked by high tension wires, a train track and a factory on one side and woods on the other. And, it is the most hilly place you can imagine. Chattanooga is very hilly in general, but these hills are so steep. Without a golf cart, it makes for one good workout. In spite of the neighboring train and factory, there are spots where it is quiet and peaceful and just beautiful. Often hawks float above catching the thermals and there are wildflowers everywhere along the way. It is a nice little spot to learn.

By the little clubhouse a Cherry or Bradford Pear is in full bloom. Not sure which it is, but it's pretty.

The people we golf with are Ray, who works with Ed, and his wife Carolyn and their son George. Ray and Carolyn are younger than we are, I think, but not too much younger because they remember the same songs we do. (That's how I figure out people's ages these days.)

George is challenged by autism, but he hits that ball straight and far and right down the middle of the fairway just about every time. If it doesn't go in the middle, which is a rare occurance, he just moves his ball to where he wants it. He makes me feel good when I golf with him. George remembers everyone and the make and model of your car from the first time he sees you in it and he never forgets your name or your car. I kind of threw him a curve last week when I showed up in my new car. He asked me where my Nissan Altima was and I felt like I was telling him that my old dog had gone off to that farm in the country. But he took it in stride and just headed for the first tee.

I love George. He is a sweet kid who loves to golf and goes out every day with his parents. He doesn't say much, but he clearly enjoys the game and he is very good at it. When he makes a good shot, which is almost every time, and I say "Good shot, George!" He replies "Good shot, Suzanne!" So, even if I haven't hit a ball, he makes me feel good. He just makes me smile every time he says it.

Ray is a transplanted Philadelphian, and a self-taught golfer. He is really a good player. Caroline is a "Ray" taught golfer, although I think she has developed her own individual style and she has some very impressive scores herself. They both play very well and yet I am not intimidated out on the course with them. Ray is very patient and a good teacher. He is always reminding me that we are just out for the exercise and it takes the pressure off...a little. He is very funny and makes everbody laugh. Carolyn gives me tips for "lady" golfers and introduced me to Noodles. (a type of ladies' golf ball.)Both of them are patient and loving parents and are terrific with George. Maybe that's why they are so patient with me!

Ed loves golf, though he is relatively new to the game himself. He'd love to go out more often but it's hard now that he works day shift. Ray is a fantastic teacher for him and they have fun competing. Ray keeps everyone laughing and when Ed starts taking things too seriously and gets frustrated, Ray has a way to put things back into perspective for him.

Ed has improved steadily since he started just a couple of years ago. He has been trying to motivate me to get out there on the golf course more often ever since he started but I find lots of excuses not to go. It's too hot. The hills are too steep. I have a hair appointment, whatever. I mean I do usually hit the ball 2 or 3 times more than Ed does. I walk miles by the end of 9 holes, just looking for my ball. That's exhausting and very frustrating. If only I had one or two good holes to show for all that work...If only.

Well, I found some motivation recently. I got my first birdie last week! I was shocked. But, it was on a par 5 and I chipped from about 40 feet from the hole and it went right in! That was amazing and I had lots of witnesses. I can still see it plopping right into that hole.

Then, yesterday, we went out again. It was the most beautiful day. Sun shining and a cool breeze blowing. It started out in the 50s and was in the lower 70s when we finished 9 holes. For the first time we played best, select ball. Everyone hits and the team plays from where the best ball lands.

Ray and I before the first tee.

Well, Ray and I were a team and

Ed and Carolyn were a team.

Ed and Carolyn at the first tee.

George played along, too.

I had the best time! The pressure was completely gone because I knew that if I flubbed it, I could count on Ray to save the day. I even had the best shot sometimes and that was really gratifying. I sank a couple of putts and had some good drives. And Ray played as fantastic as always. But, Carolyn and Ed had a little better round than we did. They got a 45 and we got a 46. I demand a rematch!

The victors.

Yes, my feet did hurt from hiking up all those really steep hills and my hip was giving me some trouble. But, I am happy to put up with that if we have that much fun again. So, I can't wait to go back and play again. If I keep playing with them, I know I will improve. And, maybe I can graduate from Pre-golf to Golfergarten. I will keep you posted.

Have a wonderful day and spend some time with some friends. You'll be glad you did!


Friday, March 06, 2009

Morning Folks 03 06 09

Our guests, St. George and Melonhead.

Morning Folks! We had the pleasure of welcoming our friends George and Melinda to our home this week. We affectionately refer to George as Saint George, because of his role as Treasurer in our church. I affectionately refer to Melinda as Melonhead because...well, just because. We only had them for 3 days and it wasn't long enough. But we had a wonderful visit. We chatted and chatted and chatted. Saw some of the sights and although it was fah-reezing, a bluebird visited on the last evening before they left. I had promised bluebirds and other signs of spring. Actually, they spent Sat and Sunday in Gatlinburg in a snowstorm before they got here. And once they were here, it was 19 one morning when we got up and never got past 42. It was sunny and clear, though. There were definitely daffodils in some spots and even some flowering trees starting. But it was a little early to appreciate the difference between New England and Tennessee. That is until we heard about the 15 inches of snow they got up there in Massachusetts the first day they were here. At least they didn't have to shovel their driveway.

Connors on Lookout Mountain before we got on the Incline Railroad. Lookout Mountain is an 85 mile long plateau located in Alabama, Georgia and a little part in TN.

I was soooooo cold. Us southerners aren't as hearty as those Yankees.

We took a ride on the Incline Railroad which runs up the side of Lookout Mountain. We started at the top and took a round trip. It looks scary, but it's pretty tame. Supposedly the steepest inclined railroad (Funicular) in the world, it has been running for more than 100 years. There are two cars on a single inch and a half thick cable. The weight of one going downhill, brings the other one uphill. They pass on a double track in the middle.

Geo in forefront. Mel further down the car. Notice the variety of headwear? George in a ball cap, two cowboys and a yarmulke down front.

The other car passes us.

George inclined.

Men, men, men, men...

Of course the obligatory tourist shop can be found at either end.

That same day we went to Point Park, a spot on the mountain just up the road from the railway where the battle of Chattanooga was fought. Before we went into the park, we stopped at a little tourist store and museum where there were Civil War books and trinkets. There is also a diarama of the battle there, but we didn't go into that. I learned later that it used to be called the "Confederama". Hmmm. While we were poking around in the store and looking at the Civil War relics, George found a book on the presidents and quizzed Ed on presidential trivia endlessly while Melinda and I waited patiently. Ed had to buy the book. After he made his purchase, we walked across the street to the park.

There are wonderful views.
We took a 'little hike' to a museum on the side of the mountain that we found was closed when we arrived. It was an uphill return hike but it kept our minds off the temperature. Brrrrrrr.
Daredevil George had to go out on that ledge!
Ignoring the signs.

View from Point Park

The next day it was even colder and we drove downtown for a little tour of the area. We walked the Walnut Street bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. It spans the Tennessee River. It was so windy and so cold. But, George and Melinda strolled along like it was just another breezy day in March.
On Walnut St. Bridge, overlooking Coolidge Park and the Tennessee River, with Lookout Mountain in the background. It was so cold on the bridge that morning that I longed for the balmy temperatures on Lookout Mountain the day before.

Along the way to the bridge, there are dance footprints on the sidewalk and we tried out a couple of moves. It warmed us up a little, but I think we needed music.

We had a nice lunch at the nearest restaurant with heat and a bathroom...Subway. But it had a great view of the river!

Then, we went to Ringold, GA to visit a quilt shop that I wanted Melinda to see. In addition to some lovely fabric, they have a couch and a TV for the men to watch while the womenfolk spend hours poking around in the fabric. Ed and George got cozy and watched Kojak and Magnum PI.

Then we stopped at the local Fresh Market and got a couple of steaks for supper and headed home to take our naps. Naps were a highlight of the two afternoons they spent with us, although I don't think anyone but Ed really got to sleep.

As if they knew we would soon be saying goodbye, the bluebirds made an appearance in the backyard before dinner that last evening.

It was too quick a visit, but so great to see them. And so sad to see them leave.

Melinda waves goodbye. Boo hoo!

It's going to be in the 70s today. I think they should come back.
Have a great day. Hug a friend.


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