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Archive for the ‘Augusta’ Category

Ahh . . . Springtime in Augusta.   The garden is planted.  The pine pollen is finally receding.  The Masters is on television.  And I’m sick, as the proverbial dog, with allergies.  Last year I said they were the worst ever — unfortunately, this year they’ve risen above that mark.  I’ve been on Benedryl and my asthma inhaler since the first of March.  The hepa filter in the bedroom really helps at night since I turn it on high all day to clean out the air in there.  But still — I can’t spend every minute of the day sequestered.

Friday I planted more flower seeds in the newly arranged beds Bruce prepared in the flower area near the back door.  I had an idea of how I wanted them to be so I really needed to do it myself.  Boy, oh boy — I paid for it on Saturday.  I was as limp as an old dish rag and spent most of the day in bed, never even getting out of my robe.

When I was a kid, I remember one trip to Colorado with Mom, Dad, Hugh and Patrick and me.  It was June and the pine trees next to our mountain cabin in Estes Park were pollenating.  Mother, poor dear, was terribly allergic to them.  We no sooner unloaded the car than she folded up like a tent and fell into bed.  After several days of taking care of her and cooking for all of us and chasing a 3 year old Patrick, Dad decided he wasn’t really enjoying himself.  He packed us all up and we headed home.  Of course, with each mile away from the pollen, Mother improved.  By the time we got back to Illinois she was fine and well-rested, but Dad, on the other hand, was not!

At least I’m not chasing a 3 year old!

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Help or Not

Although I now volunteer a half a day a week at the Catholic Social  Services, it is a job nonetheless. We help people by providing a food bank, access to a thrift shop, help with utility bills, court ordered evictions, steel-toed work boots, bus tickets, and even some prescriptions.  Poor people need a variety of help.  It is a challenge, but a worthwhile one.  My job is to interview people and determine what they need and if we can help.  I use most of the skills I developed as a mother, a teacher, and even as an older lady who has been down the road and around the block.

A few weeks ago I came home to tell Bruce, “I haven’t been lied to so much since I left teaching.”  Most of the people I saw that day were not truthful.  Their stories just didn’t add up.  Even the chronically poor, don’t need everything, everyday.  I had to turn down a lady saying she again needed to visit the food bank when she had been there two weeks before and had just received a large amount in food stamps.  I didn’t like to do that, as we try to err on the side of compassion.  But a lie is a lie — a scam is  scam.   Most likely she was selling her food stamps for cash and then coming to us to feed her family.  We shouldn’t enable such activities.  I told Sister Janet, who understood and nodded in agreement.

Last week amongst the ones I interviewed we were able to help two particular people.  They were not the perpetual poor.  They were regular folks who were just down on their luck.  Both, for one reason or another, had been out of work, and fallen behind in their utility bills.  It’s winter, even in the South, with a really frigid spell upon us.  No power, no heat.  Can’t cook, can’t have hot water.  That’s tough.

There are more people than we’d like to admit are one paycheck away from eviction.  That really hit home when a few months ago I realized a lady I was interviewing lived only a few blocks away.  She, literally, was my neighbor.  I know we hear about the plight of those in other countries and we respond generously, however, there are other ones who need our help too, and they live just down the street.

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The Augusta National Golf Club is green from the grass to the buildings to the sewer covers and sandwich packages.  The golf shop is stuffed with everything that one could imagine would have a Masters logo.  Actually even the concessions had the logo on their potato chips and bottled water.

We have been applying for 5 years for practice round tickets.  To no avail.  The actual tournament tickets from Thursday through Sunday, have such a long waiting list that, even with natural attrition, they aren’t taking any more names in the foreseeable future.    So we were delighted last fall when we received a letter in response to our annual application that said we could have 2 tickets for Monday of the practice round, April 5th, Bruce’s birthday.  Yeah!

Since we live only about 4 miles from the National, we headed up there soon after the course opened at 8AM.  We even were there early enough to park in the back lot at the course, not across the street where you have to walk several blocks just to get to the gate.  (Side bar:  several years ago in response to patrons’ complaints about the lack of parking, the National came up with a unique solution.  They bought up about half of the neighborhood across the street, razed the houses and turned the ground into parking areas.  Parking is now absolutely free with tickets!  Since they paid much more than the fair market value it was an advantageous offer for the homeowners and almost everyone took the offers. Those who remained live in a “parking lot” for one week a year.  The rest of the year?  It’s pretty quiet.  We drive by there each week to visit our favorite grocery store and thus keep tabs on the neighborhood activity.)

The course is even more beautiful than you see on TV.  In person we could smell the new mown grass and the flowers.  Sitting on the grass is like sitting on green velvet.  If our grass was like that the dogs would have to go potty down the street.  The staff goes out of their way to be polite and helpful.  I watched a security guard tell a patron he couldn’t lay down on the grass to sleep but then knelt down and chatted amicably with him for several minutes. Even the crowd of 125,000 wasn’t bad — not when everyone is so friendly.  Bruce conducted an informal survey and discovered that men outnumbered women 11 to 1.  Not surprising.  Who plays more golf? My informal survey noted that the testosterone-laden male stories increased exponentially with the number of beers consumed.

What a great day!  We even got to see Tiger.  The Augusta crowd was very cordial to him.  That’s why he decided to return to his schedule here, I’m sure.   Southern hospitality can’t be found just anywhere.

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