I have a friend who recently retired.
She has always juggled family, two jobs, the minutia of a household, a club and work and did them all with a single-minded determination. Now in retirement, she has taken up club work with a vengeance.
I spent 20 minutes in the car with her last week. When it was over, I felt like I had been interrogated by the CIA and was found wanting.
The questioning began with, “Do you save the cardboard tubes that come with toilet paper and paper towels?”
No, that is one of the few things my husband does not save. I was directed to save them and drop them off at a specific place.
The next question was do you have any old fat candles that you do not use. My answer was again no as my husband does actually save candles.
Then came the question, do you have any empty mason jars. I have a few empty jelly jars. Not good enough, she wanted quart jars. I replied that I had a few very old quart jars that have glass lids and are displayed in the kitchen.
No, she didn’t want any antiques.
Next, did I have any gauze that she could have? If not gauze, how about netting? Or cheese cloth? Either could be used to wrap around the Mason jars which would contain battery-powered tea lights to create a Halloween atmosphere. I didn’t.
She decided that she had once bought cheese cloth at OCHO a very long time ago and that we should stop there and inquire about cheese cloth. We did, and the store had none.
While we were at OCHO, she remembered that she needed some white material to create a screen on which to show a movie. She knew it needed to be thicker than a sheet, but she was not sure of the size. We looked at cloth and she asked me my opinion. I, with my limited knowledge of movie screens, thought that the body (crispness) of the fabric would be more important than the thickness. She had previously explained that the material would be stretched between trees. I thought a knit fabric would stretch and sag and not be firm enough for showing a movie.
After looking at material, she wanted to know if I could sew two pieces of the material together to create a screen large enough. I replied that I could do that. (whew, one right answer).
Then she wanted to know if I could put grommets in the corners of the material so that a rope could be put through them and tied to the trees.
I replied that I thought you had to have some kind of hole punch-like thing that inserted the grommets and that I did not have one.
Then she wanted to know what I was doing during the days the next week. I replied that I had Monday and Tuesday afternoon free but the rest of my time was spoken for.
She wanted to know if I could meet with another club member to identify people in pictures that were taken 50 to 20 years ago. I replied that I was not from Covington, but my husband was. He might be better able to identify the women in the pictures. But I was reasonably certain that I would be clueless.
Then came the dreaded question, “What are you doing this weekend?” Don’t you just hate that open question? Maybe she is going to invite me to an expense-paid shopping spree in Atlanta. Maybe she is going to ask me to clean her bathrooms. How do I know what to answer?
I replied honestly that I had to work for about a half a day on my house and help one of my daughters for an afternoon. She wanted me to cook bread for someone. I really didn’t have time as making bread takes all day. You don’t have to fool with the dough more than an hour, but it is all the proofing and resting that you have to time perfectly.
Finally she reminded me of the reception at the Southern Heartland Gallery. I was safe there. I had previously contributed to that cause.
When she wasn’t interrogating me, she was on the phone coordinating other projects. I was exhausted when I got home.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at email@example.com.