Back in the day, I played bridge. In those golden olden days, “no Trump” was a bid. It didn’t have extra meanings. Just a contract bid. Three no trump equaled “a game.” Seven no trump was THE bid, to take every trick and the high card of the led suit won. Even a two of clubs could take a trick.

I loved playing bridge. I learned to play when I was a kid and by the time I was a grown-up, I was an addict. I never played tournaments and I never played for money. I played because it was the most intense game in the world (I’m sure chess players might disagree). But the thing about Bridge is that it’s a team sport and the aggressive energy involved is intense, especially between partners.

No one ever argues with their opponents, but everyone fights with his or her partner.

It’s also an equal opportunity game. Man, woman, or any version of in between, it absolutely doesn’t matter. Where you are coming from or going to, all that matters is how well you play.

Bridge is as addictive as drugs. Maybe even more so because there’s nothing illegal about playing Bridge. All you need is a partner and another couple to make a foursome. A table. Four chairs. A bit of light. Pretzels, too.

I used to play bridge a lot. I was one of the crazed players who didn’t think there was anything unusual about watching the dawn rise over a hand of cards.

The entire time I lived in Israel, playing Bridge was our prime form of entertainment. There were people to whom you couldn’t usually talk. If you think today’s USA is divided, Israel was really divided. Between the super religious and the absolutely non-religious, there were more hot topics to avoid that you could shake a stick at. Talking to people you didn’t know well was like walking through a minefield.

But if they played Bridge, somehow, you could ignore all the other disagreements because when you played bridge, what you talked about was Bridge.

And that could be quite enough of a battle without bringing in politics, religion and all that entailed.

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

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 even 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 movies or sports.

He is a vicious Trivial Pursuits player, but that’s it. He doesn’t “do” games.

I tried playing Bridge online. In those early online days, you had to pay to play. I played Bridge during lunch hour at work. I had played Bridge at college instead of going to class. You don’t interrupt a good game for a class!

But playing Bridge requires you have at least one regular partner and having a spare is a good idea, too. Playing with our spouse as your partner is dangerous for many reasons, but a single bridge player is like a car with three wheels.

It doesn’t roll.

So, as time moved on, I yielded, realizing I was never going to play bridge again. I have since met other reformed Bridge players and we talk, yearn, and dream of the old days. The long nights with pretzels and cards. Icy cokes and occasionally, beer nuts.

That was a good life!

Trump was the top suit for which it helped to hold all the aces. I’d probably be embarrassed to bid these days.


RDP Tuesday: Bridge

There is a small stone bridge over the Blackstone River where it meets the canal and become two pieces. I photograph it frequently in pretty much every season except deep winter when it’s inaccessible due to snow.

I love that little bridge. Stone bridge. Actually, it’s Route 16 on its way to Milford then Boston then even further out towards Lynn. One long route.

It’s not just a road … a route. It consists of many roads and I don’t know what they call it here, but it’s definitely Route 16!

Bridge over the Blackstone
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Stone Bridge over the Blackstone

Stone bridge over the Blackstone River and Canal


A Photo a Week Challenge: Bridges

We don’t have any big bridges near us, but we do have bridges.


River bridges on every road.

Railroad bridges.

Highway overpasses.

The railroad bridge, downtown Uxbridge
Highway bridge
Little bridge over the Mumford
Stone bridge over the river and canal in Autumn
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Footbridge at River Bend
Little footbridge over tiny canal alongside the Mumford
Footbridge at River Bend

REPELLING THE BRIDGE – Marilyn Armstrong


Gwaihir, my 16-foot Soling was a doughty sloop. Built of fiberglass, aluminum and a bit of teak for deck, rails, and hatch, she lived in my basement through the off-season. I lovingly painted her hull and lavished layers of varnish on her brightwork.

I co-owned the little boat with a moody guy who lived on a shallow canal on the south shore. A Soling is easily launched from a trailer, but it was convenient to keep her in the water. If the tide was with us we could sail. Sometimes, even with the centerboard up, with a draft of just 16 inches, there wasn’t enough water at low tide to go anywhere without getting stuck. So we waited for the tide to turn.

My husband had grown up on the water, had his own sailboat from childhood. He was completely unafraid of the ocean. Bad weather, good weather, it didn’t matter. He loved sailing.

A drawbridge spanned Sloop Channel under which you had to sail to get to the Atlantic Ocean. Our little boat was just a bit too tall to go under the bridge if it were closed, but to get the bridge opened, you had to make an appointment and you had better be on time. If you were in a sailboat and hadn’t lowered your mast, you could not sail under the bridge. You had to lower your mainsail and use your outboard motor. Our little boat’s mast was just 27 feet, but it was a foot and a half too high.

There are strong tides in Sloop Channel. It can be hard to navigate, especially under sail. Moreover, a 16-foot centerboard sailboat is not ocean-worthy. Maybe if the ocean is flat, it might be “doable,” but it would never be a good idea. Each time my husband insisted we sail out to the ocean, I spent the voyage with my heart pounding hoping we didn’t become a statistic, a cautionary tale of poor judgment on the sea.

Did I mention that my son,  a toddler, was with us? Did that deter my husband, his father? It did not. His father had sailed the family boat through the eye of Hurricane Carol with him and his sister aboard. He was not about to be deterred. By anything.

This day, we planned to drop the main and use the outboard to power us under the drawbridge. We hadn’t made an appointment, so the bridge wasn’t going up. Too bad. That was my favorite moment when they stopped traffic in two directions so our little sailboat could pass beneath.

This day was beautiful with a brisk following breeze. The tide with us. We skimmed smartly over the water towards the bridge.

“Uh, Jeff? Shouldn’t we drop the mainsail? The bridge is coming up awfully fast … really … look … it’s right there.”

By the time the words were out of my mouth, Jeffrey bellowed the immortal words every sailor wants to hear: “PREPARE TO REPEL BRIDGE!”

The bridge was on us. I was at the front fending off the bridge with a fiberglass boat hook, while our captain tried to start the outboard and simultaneously drop the mast before it snapped.

Sunrise Rockport

Fortunately, he dropped the main first and started the engine next. We got a little banged up, hitting the cement pylons as we bounced under the bridge. No problem. We still had a mast.

Eventually, the engine came to life and we had power, sort of.

I had successfully repelled the bridge. On this day, the ocean held no terror. I had fended off a bridge. I had no more adrenaline with which to be afraid. It was just another sunny day on the Atlantic Ocean.


Bridge and canal in May

We had just enough sunshine to get out of the house and down to the canal. About an hour in total.

Reflections in the water. You can see the fallen pollen from the oak trees floating on the water

A quiet day with the river shining like glass. May telling me that summer really is here … or nearly so.


WHICH WAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – May 4, 2018

He knew where he was going!
Come aboard!
The longest ramp
Pasture gate
On the bridge


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – March 30, 2018

The Which Way challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on.  You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride on them, as long as the specific way is visible.  Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.

The railroad bridge
The Casket truck in passing
Little bridge over the Mumford
The chair lift
Sidewalk past Fenway
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Downtown