“Mighty fine-lookin’ bean bags you got there,” says the Bearded One. I’m sitting in the hut at my 1980 Singer sewing machine scowling at the Instruction Manual and trying to complete the simplest project — 8 regulation 6″x6″ Cornhole bags. I look up.
Ever since the Bearded One proposed last week, he’s been flirting shamelessly — he calls it sinuendo — and I smile, because I’m not really irritated. “Ha!” I say, and then he tromps up the half-finished new deck stairs into the house and I return to my bobbin problem.
We’ve got a new project — construction of a horseshoe-esque lawn game called Cornhole, including 2 outdoor game boards and 8 bean bags, for our daughter’s wedding reception in less than two weeks. Neither of us had ever heard of it before, and thought the name a bit sketchy, but it’s actually a real game and there’s even an American Cornhole Association, and we’ve been asked to make a set for use at the picnic reception.
The Bearded One’s doing the boards and I’m doing the bags. And even though I’m wrestling with this machine, it’s truly a minor glitch. For some reason, we both have seized upon this project and thrown all else — deck construction, gardening, chain-sawing — to the wind.
Garfield walks past the open hut door to get my attention. Then he sits on the deck and looks out at the backyard, clearly thinking about Ruby, our late dog, who he would most certainly be pestering right now if she weren’t still dead.
He returns to the hut doorway. “Meeee — Owwwww?” I keep explaining this to him. Dead means gone forever. Things are different, or at least more different than usual. As if he can’t tell. Ruby was his only other “animal” companion. Gone.
I’m moving things around. Like this sewing machine, which I haven’t used in eons. I set it up out here, where all the deck action has been, around this 4-foot-diameter cedar tree which has a little lagoon between roots and where the hose waters it for hours. It sounds like a fountain.
I bought the machine brand new in 1981 and I’ve sewed curtains, window shades, Princess Diana-style 1980s skirts and jackets, and lots of children’s Halloween costumes including a buckskin suit and the famous Batman ensemble.
Four of the Cornhole bags are cut from leftover buckskin scraps — polyester ultrasuade — and now I’m remembering how hard it was to sew this plushy stuff. I have to wrestle it under the presser foot so that the little metal table beneath it rocks. I made the buckskin suit in a little rental house 17 years ago.
The other four bags are denim from the hem of a forgotten skirt. The officially correct cracked corn I’m filling them with is from our barn,
where the Bearded One has cut and sanded and stained the two Cornhole boards, the same dark stain as the deck.
“She’s dead,” I say, “and you are a sweet, sweet kitty.” He licks his paw then walks away, down the deck steps and out across the dry lawn to inspect the lawn chairs the Bearded One set up for us to watch the meteor shower. If it’s not cloudy. Which it probably will be. But maybe not.
The screen door at the top of the deck opens and the Bearded One clomps back down the steps with a Coke. He stops at the hut and peers in, inspects the two finished bags on the table again and raises his eyebrows. “Yes sir, a matched pair if ever I saw one.”