SEVEN NO TRUMP

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

I used to play bridge. In fact, I was one of those crazed bridge players who would as often as not watch the dawn come up over a four-heart hand. The entire time I lived in Israel, bridge was probably our prime entertainment. There were people to whom you couldn’t talk usually, but if they played bridge, somehow, you could fit them into your social life. Mostly, you talked about bridge.

Bidding. Contracts. Great games you remembered. Hilarious games. Weird games. Bridge players have their own sense of humor that has nothing to do with anything else.

When Garry and I became a serious thing, I was appalled to discover I’d finally met a man who really — no kidding — didn’t know a diamond from a club. He had never played poker. How do you make it through basic training in the Marines without learning to play poker? At first, I hoped I might convince him to give it a try, but it was soon obvious it wouldn’t happen. Garry doesn’t play games unless they involve movie or sports trivia.

I tried playing bridge online — and in those early online days, you had to pay to play. I played bridge during lunch hour at work. But bridge requires a regular partner. One lone bridge player is like a car with three wheels. It doesn’t roll.

So, as time moved on, I gave up. I have since met other reformed bridge players and we talk, yearn, and dream of the old days. With pretzels and cards. Icy cokes and occasionally, some beer nuts.

That was the good life!

THE FIFTH EAR AND CHERRY TONGUE

The time has come round again. Our local corn is ripe. You can tell because the price of corn drops abruptly. We used to get ten ears for a dollar, but inflation has arrived, so now they are selling it at five ears for a dollar. I love fresh corn and am always pleased when we can get it fresh and for so little money.

There are only two of us in this house.

“I should buy the fifth ear,” I say, conversationally to the woman shucking corn next to me. “But there are just two of us. What can I do with a fifth ear?”

“I know,” she says. “There are four of us and that fifth ear, well …” She stopped and thought. “It’s pretty good the next day, even cold.”

“True,” I said. And I shucked the fifth ear and tucked it in the bag with the other four. We had two of them yesterday and I cooked three today. One is sitting on the counter. Who will eat it? It might be me. Later, but first … cherries.

It is not just corn season. It’s fresh cherry season. The season is short. You’ve got three, maybe four weeks during which time cherries are delicious and cheap. After that, the price goes up while the quality goes down. I buy as many cherries as I believe I can possibly eat and believe me, that’s a lot of cherries. I knew I was eating a lot of cherries last night when I discovered the tips of my fingers and fingernails are dyed  red.

My tongue is sore.

My tongue started bothering me last week. It felt just like a pizza burn. My lips and gums were also sore. I thought maybe it was the pizza we’d eaten the week before, but as the days dragged on, I began to worry. When you come from a family with a lot of cancer in it — and have had it twice yourself — when something feels strange or wrong, you wonder if you’ve come down with a new form of cancer. Oral cancer? I had been running doom and gloom statistics in my head for the past few days. I decided to comfort myself with a bowl of cherries.

As I was biting down, I could feel a slight burning in my gums and when I pushed the pit out of the cherry, I had an epiphany. My tongue was sore from popping the pits out of cherries. It was also why my tongue, gums, and lips were all hurting. There’s a lot of acid in cherry juice and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having a deeply intense and personal cherry experience.

Cherry tongue! My tongue is sore from pushing out pits.

I tapped Garry. He took off his headphones and looked at me.

“My tongue is sore. My lips and gums are sore. It’s the cherries,” I announced.

“I’m sorry. You’ve lost me. Cherries?”

“Yes,” I said. “Cherries. Every day, I’ve been eating a big bowl of cherries and pushing the pits out with my tongue, It has made the tip of my tongue very sore. Where it rubs against the rough cherry pit. And the red stain on my fingers and the soreness in the rest of my mouth? Cherries. It’s all about cherries.”

He looked at me. Thought for a moment. “When,” he said, “will these tragedies stop destroying our lives?”

A fifth ear and an overdose of cherries … no respite in sight! At least, not until the cherry and corn season is over.

THE PRINCE CAN COME

PHOTOS: GARRY ARMSTRONG

Photo: Garry Armstrong

During the last two weeks, since summer decided it was time to arrive, everything which had been in arrested development has grown with insane enthusiasm. Roses by the bucketful and more lilies than I’ve seen in my entire life. The jewel weeds, my favorite hardy and hideous weeds had pushed up to more than six-feet-tall. I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so godawful ugly, but they really are. How they got the name “jewel weed” I can’t imagine. Maybe it is a form of ironic humor?

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

My son was supposed to come by with the electric clippers, but it didn’t happen. Yesterday, I realized I could not walk out my front gate. The way was locked by the twined thorny branches of the roses and our holly bush. Both had grown from tiny bushes to the size of a small buildings. During the past couple of weeks, they burst into growth and my path disappeared. I was trapped. Well, not entirely. There are other doors, but that’s the easiest way in and out of the house and has the fewest steps.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

I called Owen.

“I can no longer leave my home,” I said. “The roses and the holly have trapped me. Any chance of you coming and slicing me a passageway?” I had been thinking about the thorns which grew around Snow White’s tower. It always sounded so fanciful, how the prince could not make his way through the thorny bushes. I was in the process of retracting that entire line of thought.

Owen said, “Oh, right, sorry. I forgot.” He promised to bring the clippers next time. Which would be Wednesday.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Garry brought home flowers for me this afternoon. Red, white, and blue chrysanthemums. “For The Day,” he explained. I needed to cut them down to fit in the vase, so I took out my hand clippers and snipped them off. Much easier than using the overworked kitchen shears. I stood there, looking at the hand shears and thought “Screw it. I want my front walk back!”

Out I went, hand clippers and work gloves and the apron in which I can keep stuff (don’t laugh, they are very useful). Working my way from the door down the path, clipping as I went. Down went several monumental jewel weeds. I left them where they fell. The dogs really don’t care. At the gate, I started cutting before I even left the yard. I kept cutting. Anything that poked at me, I cut. Anything across the path, down it went. I finally gave in and cut down three large branches of roses that were heavily in bloom. I hate doing that, but if I didn’t, they would only get bigger and rougher. New sprouts would grow from them. I even had to cut down a few lilies, which broke my heart.

And down went a lot of the twining weeds and more giant jewel weeds. When I was finally done cutting, I realized I still had to rake the pile and move it off the path. It would hardly improve my mobility if I had a pile of thorny dying branches filling the walk.

I did it and it’s good or at least, better. I’m still feeling bad about having to cut off the roses, but I couldn’t see any other choice.


The prince can come now because once more, there is a path to the castle.

Flower of the Day – July 5, 2017 – Lily

MY WEDDING NIGHT HOSPITAL VISITS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My second wedding, to Tom, in 2002, was everything I had dreamed of and more – much more. My wedding night was spent visiting not one, but TWO relatives in the local hospital. Both were in town for the wedding.

We had many guests from out-of-town at the wedding. We put them up at our house and at my Mom’s house down the street. Some of the out-of-towners came the day before the wedding, like my former father-in-law and surrogate Dad, Bert, and his second wife of twenty-three years, Joy. Joy fell in my Mom’s driveway shortly after arriving and injured herself quite badly. She ended up in the hospital with broken bones in her leg, her arm and her face.

As we were saying our vows the next day, Joy was undergoing surgery. Her husband Bert, was with me, not her!

Me, Tom and Bert

After the ceremony, we started the formal family photos. While we were shooting pictures of Tom’s family, Tom’s father keeled over and passed out, cold! Tom couldn’t find a pulse. We called 911. Tom thought “Oh, my God! My father is going to die at my wedding!” But Tom’s Dad, also Tom, woke up, a bit confused and disoriented. The EMS team insisted he be taken to the hospital and checked out.

My kids and Tom’s parents, right before his dad passed out

So within an hour of getting married, I got to watch my new father-in-law being wheeled out on a stretcher, into an ambulance. He was whisked off to the hospital and most of Tom’s family joined him there. They spent the rest of the day in the emergency room!

Tom and I stayed at our wedding reception, slightly shaken. But it was beautiful and everyone had a wonderful time. After the local guests left, we excused ourselves from our remaining out-of-town visitors and headed off to the hospital. I stayed in my dress because I wanted my mother-in-law to see me in it. I also brought her my wedding bouquet to cheer her up.

First we visited Joy, post-op, in her hospital room. She was a mess. She looked like she’d been in a big fight and had lost badly. But she got to see me in my wedding dress! So did everyone else at the hospital. We were a sensation in the elevators and hallways! Someone told us that there was an accordion player in the building if we wanted to be serenaded.

Next we went to the Emergency Room on the first floor, where Tom’s family was still waiting for a room for his Dad. They hadn’t figured out what was wrong but wanted to keep him there for a few days for observation. The next month it was discovered that Tom Senior needed a pacemaker. (NOTE: Coincidence. At my first wedding, my father wasn’t feeling well and left the reception early. It turned out, the next month, that he too had needed a pace maker!)

When we returned home from our hospital visits, we checked in with our overnight guests. Our three dogs had pooped in my mother’s house where they were cooped up during the ceremony and part of the reception. So I changed into jeans and ended my romantic evening cleaning up dog poop.

As all this was happening, we kept telling ourselves that we would someday be grateful to have an unusual and eventful wedding story to tell. It has proved to be a hit for the past 14 years.