Bridge, Anyone?

I’d put money….and you should, too…..on the odds that I’ve played bridge longer than just about anyone you know.  Let’s be clear.  That doesn’t make me a better bridge player, by any means.  It just means I’ve had my feet under a bridge table for slightly over 70 years at this point.

My parents played bridge most Sunday afternoons.  There were usually six of them.  Four at the table; two to do other stuff.  They cut in and out as the afternoon went on.  The sit-outs were in charge of libations, nibbles and gossip. The sit-ins obviously played bridge, until, as my father always warned: “Move your feet, you’ll lose your seat .”

I sat on the kitchen stool and kibitzed during those afternoons.  I learned Goren, the system used to bid way back then.  My mother had a book or two on the game and we dealt hands together.  That’s a nice memory for me.

But what I really learned at their bridge table had nothing to do with cards. 

Primarily, I learned that bridge is fun.  That the game of bridge is also one of manners and respect.  That frowns, tsk-tsks, and  harrumphs were unacceptable.  That friends at the beginning of the game were even better friends at the end of it.  That scores meant nothing.  Even if you were playing for high stakes like a tenth of a cent per point.

I went forth into the world believing that.  And I still cling to that position even though some hard-core gamers tried, in vain, to disprove me of that notion.

As I enter my 8th decade of “playing” bridge, I, now more firmly than ever, refuse to give up the fun.  While that seemingly steadfast position may decrease the number of people who’ll play with me, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Bridge my way, anyone?

An Enigma

Question: What do Covid and laughter have in common?

Answer:  They are each infectious, contagious and catching.

It’s a bit heretical to suggest there’s a scintilla of similarity when the two are such polar opposites.

We seek one out; avoid the other like the plague it is. One is as good for us as the other is dangerous.

It feels like a cruel joke to use the same adjectives to describe two such disparate situations.    I also find it ironic that our beautiful language can find similarities where none exist. 

Sounds like it’s all one big enigma and we should just leave it at that.

I

Driving Miss Sallie

And what a long, and sometimes bumpy, road trip it’s been. 

It all started with the foot.   The broken one.  People with heavy casts on their right foot shouldn’t drive cars.  And thus began Phase One of the Mister’s “Driving Miss Sallie” program. It was, simply, a concept born of necessity.

As we entered Phase Two, and the cast was off, we didn’t totally trust the foot to respond as needed in matters of traffic and so forth.   Thus, Phase Two of “Driving Miss Sallie” became a “better safe than sorry” kind of thing.

Then, there was Phase Three.  The foot had been released from care and pronounced completely healed by the docs.  But we still had Covid in our midst.  And so it was deemed prudent and wise to for the Mister to continue to Drive Miss Sallie.  That decision had no basis in reality or necessity so we simply referred to this period as “Miss Sallie’s preference.”

Now here we are at Phase Four.  I guess we should call this one “she’s back in the saddle again.”

It’s been a year and a touch more since I’ve been in the driver’s seat and it’s little like getting back on a bucking horse.  All those little bells and whistles in the car still startle me.  The flashing lights in the rear view mirror confuse me.  I know they’re there for my safety but don’t they know I’m still adjusting?  Couldn’t they come up with some soothing, reassuring sounds?

I’m slowly gettin’ my groove back and, in the meantime, I am very grateful for the Mister’s willingness to Drive Miss Sallie around during this strange time.

Going, Going……

Almost, but not quite, gone.

It’s a mere shadow of its former self.   The Mister says it’s so thin you could cut butter with it.

It’s our home-town newspaper, of course. I know local papers are in trouble across the nation but it’s really going to bring it home for me when I don’t see that little sleeve of paper on my driveway every morning. Just waiting to be opened.

It’s not that I get my news from the paper.  I don’t.  Like everyone else, I see/hear it on television or on-line. I’m not an avid sports fan so the sports pages don’t do a thing for me. Even our op-ed pages are slowly disappearing.

So what’s to miss?

Well, the cross word puzzles, of course. And, the obituaries, I regret to say. 

But mostly, I’ll miss the actual, physical, paper itself.  The folds and creases, the newsprint, the rustling sounds when you turn the pages.  It’s that whole tactile, sensory, thing that I enjoy.  And will seriously miss.

Scrolling, scanning, and clicking simply don’t cut my mustard first thing in the morning. One will grow accustomed to the change but that doesn’t mean one has to like it.

Photo thanks to paperindex.com

Free At Last!

We’re vaccinated, double-masked and rarin’ to go.

We’re anti-bodied, certified and ready to roll.

We’re showered, shod, scented and styled.

We’re lip-sticked, eye-lined, powdered and rouged.

We’re highlighted, gelled, teased and sprayed.

We’re manicured, pedicured, polished and painted.

Keys are in hand, there’s gas in the tank.

Look out world, here we come!

Or maybe not.

We introverts don’t change our stripes quite that quickly so maybe I’ll just wait a bit…perhaps a week….or even two….before I venture out again. What’s the rush? Really? Caution makes sense. At least to us.

Make ‘Em Laugh

I am so grateful for friends who send me things that bring me to tears, and to my knees, with laughter. Those are wonderful momentary lifts.

What’s not part of that…and can’t be right now…..is communal laughter.  Groups of people laughing at the same time, at the same thing, for the same reason. 

Once upon a time, in another land, I was part of a play-reading group.  We joined knowing that when we were asked to take a role in a play, we either said yes or got the boot.  And, oh, the crazy things we did in the name of concession.

The group was comprised of seemingly intelligent and thoughtful people.  People who perhaps should have known better before they committed to the gig.

Requirements for membership were few. Experience wasn’t one of them. We simply had to agree to leave our egos, our pride, our honor and our dignity at the door prior to a performance.

We only did comedy.  For obvious reasons.   Neil Simon and Noel Coward were our go-to playwrights.   We didn’t have to memorize anything but we did have to design our own costumes and highlight our lines in our playbooks.  There was only one, inevitably chaotic, rehearsal. 

We foolishly invited friends to watch us make fools of ourselves.  We plied them with food and drink before, during, and after our performances. Always partaking heartily of the same ourselves.  All I remember from all those years is the laughter. The laughter for, at, and with each other.

I’d do almost anything for a silly night like that right now.

“Watch With Winston”

Winston has over 250,000 faithful Tik-Tok followers who hang on every moment of Winston as he watches his favorite movies. 

Winston’s not into just any old movies.  He has a strong preference, if not a singular focus, for doggy movies.  Movies like Old Yeller,  Lassie,  Lady and the Tramp.   We all like to identify with what we see on the big and little screen and Winston is no exception. 

Winston is a Bea-bull.  In doggy world, that translates to a beagle/bull-dog mix.  Winston was a rescue puppy, adopted by our granddaughter and her husband.  Shortly after he came home, he developed a serious canine-pneumonia.  Bed rest was required to heal him. The question was how to get a puppy to “bed-rest.”

They settled him in with lots of warm blankets and stuffed animals.  They popped some popcorn, put Lassie on the computer screen and, unknowingly, got him hooked on movies.  They also created a Tik-Tok star. 

Winston’s followers love to watch him as he watches the ups and downs, the glad, the sad, the mundane and the exceptional stories of the dogs’ lives.  You see it in his face, in his eyes as he tears up, in his throat as he gulps.  All the while snacking on popcorn.  There’s one exception.  He’s not allowed to watch the ending of Old Yeller.  Wise decision. Old Yeller meets an unfortunate end and there’s no need to bother Winston with that.

There’s something about Winston that would have appealed to my old icons, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers. He’s obviously sweet and loving. So, let him take you into the world of Tik-Tok, if for just a moment. He’s sure to tickle (or tockle) your fancy.

Click on this to “watch with Winston” for a couple of minutes.

Carolyn Quit!

One day she was here, doing a great job.  The next day?  Gone!  No explanation.  She just up and left us high and dry.  It was, to say the very least, a most untimely event.

There hadn’t been so much as a peep to prepare us.  Not even a squeak.  She’d been with us for years and you know how attached you get when someone’s been with you for so long.  They become, really, a part of the family.

It’s safe to say we felt that way about Carolyn.  And we know there’ll never be another like her.

And, boy, have we looked.  And looked.  You start looking around for kitchen timers these days and they’re all electronic.  Carolyn was mechanical.  Seems no one wants to twist the little knob and hear that loud ring-a-ding when the food’s ready. 

There was nothing subtle about Carolyn.  No escaping her insistence.  You either got your buns to the kitchen when she rang or you’d go deaf.  Her bell never stopped. Thirty years with us and she’d never once let us burn a single piece of toast, overcook a chicken or let a pot of rice go dry.

Finally, and after much serious searching, the new, and mechanical, timer is here.  It’s French and the numbers are backwards. Its little ring-a-ding is quite pleasant. It’s just not covered with years and years of patina, affection and heaven knows what else.  In other words, it’s just not Carolyn.

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t?

Vaccinated, that is.

That’s the question on everyone’s lips these days.  Followed, of course, by many other questions.

When is/was your appointment? 

Where did you go? 

Which kind did you get?  

How’d you get so lucky to get one in January?

Was the line long? 

Did you have a reaction? 

Did your arm hurt/itch?

When’s your second shot? 

How long ‘til you’re immune? 

When have we ever, ever gone down this crazy path?  Vaccinations should hardly be hot topics of conversation.  I mean really. Talk about boring. Who cares about shots?  And whose business is it anyway? 

Turns out, everybody cares and it is very much everybody’s business. 

Because we all want our shots and we all want to get back to business. 

Just as soon as we possibly can.

Syringe drawing courtesy of line.17qq.com

Well, What Would You Do?

Imagine, for a moment, that a very tall street light, down the way a bit, is positioned exactly so that part of it comes directly into your window at night.  Right straight into your eyes.  The reflection from the water between you and it exacerbates its glare and makes it all shimmery/glimmery.  And that makes you nauseous.

Clearly, it’s a situation in need of a fix.

So, what would you do?

Well, you could put a blind/shutter on the window.  (But then you couldn’t watch the stars.)

You could wear eye shades.  You know, like the ones they give you on airplanes. (See above.)

You could call the community and ask them to reposition the light.  (Hah!)

You could ask the community to put in a light that wasn’t quite so bright.  (See above.)

You could do all, or any, of that but you didn’t.  And you had your reasons.  (See above.)

What you did was get a really long extension pole, attach a paint brush to the end of it, soak the brush in black paint, and then, under cloak of darkness, you crept, very slowly so as not to trip, or worse, drip all the way down to the street light and paint out the offending side.

Which didn’t work since paint on glass doesn’t stick unless you prep the glass and you’d need a ladder to get all the way up there and that simply wasn’t an option.  At least according the person who lives with you. So here we are.  And I ask, most sincerely:  “Well, what would you do? “

In Search of a Mantra in the Time of Covid

As I bump into the ever-shrinking walls of our house, I find myself in need of a mantra.  A few words to play with in my head that tell me that I’m doing the right thing, right now.  This continued isolation thing, the scary stats, the sad stories, all call for soothing words. Comforting words.

I actually have a “personal” mantra, which was assigned to me, many years ago, by my very own Transcendental Meditation Shaman. One doesn’t forget one’s personal mantra. Ever. Besides, it’s the same one the Mister got. But it’s not cutting the mustard these days.

So, what to do?  Where to find a mantra? One that reminds me that it’s still better to be safe than sorry?

The Mister’s old school ditty suddenly popped into my head and I think I’ve got it. 

The school’s mascot just happens to be a Purple Cow.  It’s a good school and I’ve always thought their choice of mascot was suspect but that’s another topic.

The “ode” to said cow goes like this:

I never saw a Purple Cow.

I hope I never see one.

But this I tell you here and now,

I’d rather see than be one.

Oddly, this works for me.  Why is another matter.  Entirely.

My Voting Record

I think my voting record has been stellar to date, even if I say so myself. I’ve checked boxes, pulled levers, and tapped screens for 60 years now.  Sure, go ahead and do the math.  I’m that old. And I’ve voted in every presidential election since I could. It was my right, my responsibility and my honor.

During most of those years, however, I think I could be accused of being a somewhat dispassionate voter.  I didn’t research platforms, ideologies, strengths and weaknesses so much as I simply voted for who I thought might best lead us.  Party affiliation never mattered.

There was one exception:  Jack Kennedy.  Like so much of the world, I simply fell sway to his charms, to Jackie’s style, to the world they’d let us peek into.   I figured if they were in the White House, everything else would just fall nicely into place.

I don’t know whether others were as quasi-blasé as I was about voting. The only thing I know, for sure, is that this last election was anything but dispassionate. To put it into double, or triple, negatives: nobody doesn’t not care. 

We listen to opposing views even as we struggle to comprehend them. Then we either swallow our words or harshly spit them out, both with negative consequences. 

In 2016, when passions ran high, I wondered, in this little space, when/if we could reconcile our differences.

It’s four years later and I’ve got my answer.  It’s just not the one I’d hoped for.

WORDS FAIL. ALMOST.

“Well, now.”

That’s what my mother always said at the start of a declaration. Hands on her hips, distaste on her lips.  You knew you’d better listen up.

Then she’d elaborate. “Well, now,” she’d say, “I’ve seen it all!”

It might have been alarmum over a friend’s new hair-do, perhaps a comment she objected to, even an errant play at the bridge table.  Whatever it was, it was worthy of serious attention.

During the deeply saddening events of last Wednesday in Washington, The Mister and I invoked her words.  We had, really, nothing else to say.

There was a bit of a difference, however. My mother was always sure of herself. When she said she’d seen it all, she meant it. I, on the other hand, am not at all sure that we’ve seen it all.

Enough Already

Question: “How do I know if I’m an introvert?”

Answer: “You know you’re an introvert if you’re ready to go home before you leave the house.”

Okay. So, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, born-and-bred, certified (certifiable?), hard-core, bad-to-the-bone introvert.  There were times in the last year that I used (misused?) the Covid guidelines to avoid parties, large groups, grocery stores and other introvert-averse activities.  But at this point, even I, dedicated introvert that I am, feel a touch over-isolated.

I actually long to shake the hand of someone I’ve just met.  I want to touch a shoulder.  I want to sit close to a friend.  I want to play bridge.  I want to pass around a birthday card.  I want to laugh until droplets happen.  I want to leave my mask at home.  I want something on my calendar other than a doctor’s appointment.  

All of those things will have to wait, however.  And wait they will.  Impatience has no reward at the moment.  Which is so annoying since impatience is one of my few  skills.  Nevertheless.

The things I miss and long for are small things.  Little bits and pieces.  Unremarkable moments.  That’s what I want.    And that is big chunk of my hope for 2021.

Family Christmas Presents

Or not.

Once we realized, way back in early December, that we would still be cocooned, isolated, quarantined, or a combination of the above,  we started looking for a little something special to send to our loved ones, far and wide. Something to remind them of us in our total eclipse. The Mister found a charming product in a catalogue and we went for it.  We went for 13 actually since 13 is the number of relatives we wouldn’t see during the holidays.

The gift is called a Fairy Light Spirit Tree and its mythical appeal goes like this:

Lovingly plucked from the far realm of Ireland, the Fairy Light Spirit will add enhancement and wonder to your home as well as offer protection to those who dwell under its roof.  Fairies are kind hearted and playful.  Honor them and welcome them into your home by placing offerings at the base of your tree.    In return, your fairies will protect and heal your sprit in times of need.”

Who wouldn’t be enchanted by that?  Who wouldn’t send Fairy Light Trees to everyone?  Who wouldn’t want a Fairy Light Tree for their very own selves? Not us, that’s for sure.

The Mister put in a call to the fairy reps in California and placed the order.    We could hardly wait to hear everyone’s happy voices when their gift arrived.

So, we sat back and waited.  And waited a little more.  We’re still waiting.

We’re not sure when the Fairy Trees will get to their final destinations.  Their travels have been long and arduous.    Each took his/her own wildly circuitous route.   We believe…or at least hope….. they’ll be appreciated just that much more when they finally get there. It’s for sure they’ll have tales to tell.

In the meantime, for your amusement and our dismay, here is the itinerary of just one….yes, just one…of those little suckers, reading, of course, from the bottom up.  You’ll note the “Arriving Late” specification at the very tippy top.   As if we didn’t already know.

2020-12-21 01:01  In Transit, ARRIVING LATE, 2020-12-20 23:36  CHARLESTON SC PROCESSING CENTER, Arrived at USPS Regional Facility 2020-12-20 21:39 COLUMBIA SC PROCESSING CENTER, Departed USPS Regional Facility 2020-12-20 21:06 COLUMBIA SC PROCESSING CENTER, USPS in possession of item 2020-12-20 01:01 In Transit to Next Facility 2020-12-19 01:01 In Transit to Next Facility 2020-12-18 23:00 LANCASTER,PA, Arrived at USPS Facility 2020-12-18 17:52 YORK,PA, Departed Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item 2020-12-18 10:18 YORK,PA, Arrived Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item 2020-12-17 08:42 AUSTELL,GA, Departed Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item 2020-12-17 00:06 AUSTELL,GA, Arrived Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item 2020-12-07 13:30 NEWYORK – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Clearance processing complete at GATEWAY 2020-12-07 08:33 NEWYORK – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Arrived at AIRPORT of Destination,Custom clearance in processing. 2020-12-07 05:15 CHINA, Departure from airport to destination country 2020-12-06 16:40 CHINA, Arrive at international airport SHANGHAI PUDONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 2020-12-06 14:00 SHANGHAI, Departed Facility In processing center 2020-12-05 22:16 SHANGHAI, Shipment has been processed in operational center 2020-12-05 20:34 SHANGHAI, Arrived at Sort Facility SHANGHAI 2020-12-04 12:36 Shipment information received.