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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ma is playing mahjongg

Summer is here and after living in my house for 17 years I decided to buy a swimming pool.  And I know exactly  what I want to do in it.  Click here to see.  In fact, I think the lady on the right is me in my prior incarnation.  Love that schmatte on her head.
Apparently mahj was very, very hot in the 1920s.   If you click here you can see how hot by the number of books that were published.  Undoubtedly, 1924 was mah jongg's banner year.  I just received my copy of the rare and out-of-print Foster on Mah Jongg.  It came embossed with the name of the prior owner - Schaler C. Hauser.  Isn't that a lovely name?  So 1920s.  Of course I immediately Googled him.  And this is what I found.   Whoa!  Here is a good question for Jeopardy:  What do  Jewish ladies in a public pool have in common with a civil engineer in Alabama?  

I'm really crazy about that table in the pool, and I'm wondering if I can find someone to make one for me.  It appears as though the racks are built right into the table, but it's hard to tell if it's floating or standing up on the bottom of the pool.  Now, I've heard of automatic mahj tables (see video below) where you don't have to touch the tiles, they just go down a hole and come up again in the formed walls.  Very expensive, but nice to have!  Robert F. Foster in his book described the ideal mahjongg table:  Something slightly higher than the ordinary card table, and he recommends taking an oilcloth (remember those?) and turning it upside down to use as a table cover. He says it "allows perfect shuffling without catching and turning the tiles over, reflects the light well, and is noiseless."  Nowadays there are special mahj table covers that will do the job - quilted fitted ones or flat sheets that sit on top of the table.  And if all else fails, you can sprinkle a little baby powder on the table (just a drop) to make the tiles slide around.  Foster spoke of tables that have racks attached, but I've never seen such a thing.  Ingenious idea, but not very portable.  Can you imagine schlepping a whole table to the clubhouse?  It's hard enough to drag a case with wheels...

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, the pool.  Well, a new set of challenges arise for me after Memorial Day.  Swim clubs are open, making it hard to find weekend fill-ins.  Teachers with the summers off start hivernating at their pool clubs and play every day.  I can't blame them. A little mahj, a little dip, a little snack, a little mahj.  It doesn't get much better.  But maybe I can lure some folks away.  I'll post pictures of me in my private pond, no splashing kids, just a floating mahjongg table and the four of us playing (the fifth will be getting a nosh).   I won't ever leave my yard - who would?  When people call, my daughter will say...

Ma is Playing Mah Jongg...

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