TENDER TUESDAYS

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WARNING: RACE TO BUOYS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

We can be spontaneous! Can’t we? Plans changed, our expected company cancelled, and guess what? A long weekend out on our Catalina 28 stretched before us (the first one all season, where the gods had aligned us with a free weekend and a perfect wind and sunshine prediction). At least, that’s what we envisioned…

With 4 free days ahead of us, we toyed with destination possibilities and settled on the nearest – Mark Bay (between Newcastle Island and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) – a mere 2.5 hour sail away from home! My working senior husband was exhausted from attending corporate meetings in Vancouver and his retired author wanna-be wife was due for a break herself. GREAT TIMING!

We hoped to arrive in time to tie up to a mooring buoy, and actually “vedge” for a couple of nights before a final sailing day home. The Captain visualized himself taking the dinghy over to the Nanaimo Harbour and casually making his way up to his favorite marine store, Harbour Chandler. His crew thought they’d walk the Nanaimo Sea Wall and indulge themselves on French toast and lattés at Mon Petit Choux. Obviously hikes around Newcastle and Protection Islands were also on her list.

Naturally, we didn’t get away until work was put away for the weekend and the boat was provisioned for our relaxing water retreat. Not planning ahead, we hadn’t expected the entire Island to have the same last minute plan as us! Obviously they weren’t working on summer Fridays, as every single mooring buoy was reserved by the time we arrived mid-afternoon. DUH! Oblivious us forgot this was Nanaimo’s BATHTUB RACE weekend! Remember?

NO PROBLEM! We’re old hands at anchoring, I mean, really, who needs to be tied up to a buoy?

Evidently, the Captain did! We no sooner dropped the anchor, that he spied a familiar sailboat motor by us. We had just encountered this boat tied up to a buoy while searching through the marine park. Snap decisions were made! The race to the vacant buoy was on! We’d be tied up for the weekend, yet!  (Much more relaxing when one can never rely on accurate weather forecasts!)

The anchor was pulled up and the throttle aimed forward at top speed. As we bee-lined it for the targeted buoy, imagine our surprise when we found the sailboat’s dinghy tied up to it. He was returning to the coveted buoy!

How deflated we felt as the Captain veered away in search of open water (which was getting less easy to find) in which to drop the anchor, once again. The crew casually questioned the Captain about the depth we were in, as it was obvious that we were experiencing low tide (very, very low tide!). His calm response was, ” 3.5 feet, but remember, I’ve calibrated it to always calculate another 8 feet for keel displacement.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth, KABOOM! CRUNCH! (Oops! Maybe there was a tad of mis-calculation on that calibration!) You can feel it, can’t you? Yep, we were hung up on some flat rocks about 3.5 feet under us!

 You know the saying, Some days you watch the show and other days you are the show!

Indeed! The tide was coming in, but the Captain was anxious to free us from our stony captor- the sooner, the better. (We really didn’t want to prolong the show, now did we?) Reversing just made us KLUNK into some other stony underwater grip. Once we stopped trying to dislodge ourselves, it took maybe 2 minutes tops and the incoming tide freed us and we motored out of the bay with our caps pulled down low and our collars pulled up high. (The crew half expected to hear cheers as we motored our way out of the bay…)

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Sitting on the TwoCan beside the haul out dock, waiting for morning to come to assess our damage, we couldn’t bring ourselves to call or message anyone about our embarrassing little calamity. But wouldn’t you know it? Our dear SCYC friends were on their way to rendezvous with the club’s Summer Cruise and caught the Captain’s request for assistance. They followed the entire radio exchange; of course they did! Words out and something tells me a nomination for the annual “MEMA AWARD”(Most Embarrassing Moment Award) will be forthcoming at the Commodore’s Ball this year…

The Captain is still shaking his head in disbelief. “S_ _ _ HAPPENS!@!” … Oops, forgive me, I meant to say “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!” (Of course I did!)

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And the woman writing about this little teensy mishap on the water, is in the process of publishing, “WHO’S the CAPTAIN?” Perhaps when you read the AUTHOR PAGE of her nautical picture book, you might understand why this “hiccup” definitely could be possible!

I love cruising with MY CAPTAIN, how about you?  Maybe you’re the CAPTAIN yourself and have some interesting tales to share.  Remember, “misery loves company”! Share some of your stories by clicking on the LEAVE A REPLY (Enter your comment here) below the post. ( We really would feel better if you could top our MEMA moment!!)

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION – Instalment #3

I know… I know…. it isn’t Tender Tuesday-it’s Marathon Monday.  That’s the point, I had to write my Tuesday post today…

I want to share how easily it is for me to relate to Dave Alavoine’s cartoons, as well as being inspired. In the PACIFIC YACHTING MAGAZINE (JUNE 2016 edition of COCKPIT CONFESSIONS), his cartoon illustrated a submitted story, entitled, SHORT WHITE WATER. The minute I read it, I was compelled to write about one of our early sailing experiences going through a pass in the Gulf Islands. (I’d love to scan this published cartoon here for you, but don’t want to break copyright.Please look it up!)

Several years ago, when my husband and I had just started sailing a 27foot Catalina, we docked for the night at Maple Bay Marina on Vancouver Island. Rather than start preparing dinner, after a long day on the water, we chose to go up to the pub restaurant. While enjoying our meal, we met a personable couple that were also sailing to Silva Bay (on Gabriola Island) the next day. We hit it off with these novice sailors, who were just like us! They had just bought a 24foot sailboat for some new adventures. He was an engineer and she was a judge and they lived on an acreage on Vancouver Island with their horses. Both couples were excited about being on the  water and we had some fun (and scary) tales to share with one another that evening. As we left the restaurant that night, we agreed to hook up with one another the next day at our new destination.

I’m not sure what they did after dinner that night, but my cautious husband had his charts and tide tables out, figuring out precisely when we’d be going through the Gabriola Pass. Apparently, it’s important to time it right so that you go through during slack water, as the tide starts to change directions.   So we followed our plan, and motored doughnuts at the mouth of the pass, waiting for the exact time that it would be safe to proceed.  I decided to sit up front and watch how my capable husband would manoeuvre the ON EDGE (The naming of our first boat is another story…!) through the pass. Well, didn’t I get a surprise, as we went through the middle of those tidal whirlpools at 7 knots when all 110 pounds of me took on air? Yep, I could have flown right off the deck onto the rocks, but luckily had held onto a halyard, as we approached. Being somewhat inexperienced, once we passed through and hit calmer seas, we both felt simultaneously relieved and exhilarated that we’d made it to the other side unscathed … (Okay, I admit I had a bruised bottom!) We couldn’t wait to meet up with our newfound friends to swap stories!

When we finally arrived at dock in Silva Bay, we spotted our new acquaintances sitting on the back of their small sailboat, sipping wine. They waved and shouted us over. We were shocked to see them docked and settled in before us!  How had that happened? When we inquired how they had managed to arrive before us, when one had to wait to go through the pass in slack water;  our question sent them into convulsions of laughter! Replying between gasps, “We didn’t know about all that, so we just went through when we got there. We shut our eyes and held on when it started to look dangerous and didn’t open them up again until we were spit out on the other end!” OMG! They cracked up over our incredulous expressions- I mean, really, who reads charts and tide tables? DUH! Obviously not this intelligent, professional couple!

I’m sure you’ve been inspired by experiences or artists, as well! I’m posting a print of a painting that Dave gifted me with during a visit to his home and studio (Polaris Design). It is not a cartoon, but a historical painting of the R.C.M.P.’s “St.Roch” – the first West to East transit of the N.W. Passage. This just gives you an indication of the depth of Dave’s artistic abilities. Tell us about an artist that has inspired you to react to their work in some creative manner. (Leave your story in the Leave a Comment section below.)  I hope you’ll look up the cartoon in PACTIFIC YACHTING’S MAGAZINE (June, 2016) to see Dave’s cartoon and understand why it was such a great prompt (and inspiration) for my story.

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TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION #2

I’m finally getting back on track after a chilly Spring Cruise with SCYC (our yacht club), an overhaul landscaping job of our front yard, a trip to Portland, setting up publishing files for my picture book, WHO’S the CAPTAIN? … just to name a few distractions from TENDER TUESDAYS!

On FREAKY FRIDAY, I explained how meeting Dave Alavoine (the cartoonist for COCKPIT CONFESSIONS in PACIFIC YACHTING MAGAZINE) and starting our collaborative process together was inspired. I had already written this repetitive language picture book with a sassy nautical glossary, and had prepared notes for what the action in the cartoons would look like and the dialogue that the sailing family on vacation would be sharing. Dave took my notes home with him to his studio in North Vancouver, and he’d sketch out a draft in black and white, one at a time, once we’d agreed on how the characters should look… and that a took a few tries! Dave wanted a more mature, full-bodied woman figure for the mom. (He continued to stick her into the cartoons every once in awhile, just to keep me on my toes!)

It was inspirational, over the many months, going back and forth with details to fine tune the cartoons to appeal to both children and adults alike (on different levels, of course). Each time I’d open up a final colored painting of one of the images, it was like opening a birthday gift! We were creating something together, that was entertaining, educationally challenging , and most of all- humorous and relatable! Exactly what I had initially visualized when writing the book. Dave’s finely crafted vignettes always had a little surprise something inserted to enhance the humor- whether it was through adding his signature seagull’s cheekiness or his use of nautical terms to challenge the reader.

Just writing about the process that we have collaborated on, makes me want to share this collectable book with you. Dave is a true gentleman and always positive and willing to meet the next deadline, without any hesitation. The publishing process is long and there has been a lot of waiting time, with attempts to publish traditionally by sending out numerous queries. His patience has been much better than mine, waiting for replies.

I  can’t wait any longer and thus have found, TellWell, a Canadian self-publishing firm in Victoria. Their design team have met with me and were equally impressed with the quality of Dave’s cartoons. We are on our way!

Dave’s a man with a wealth of experience as a British Merchant Mariner and a 3rd Officer of freighter ships, but also as a nautical painter, a political cartoonist, and of course, a nautical cartoonist for PACIFIC YACHTING Magazine. He has also recently illustrated a new book (published by Evergreen), entitled, LEARN to SAIL the HARD WAY. If you’re looking for a humorous adult book regarding novice sailors, this is a great read!

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Now that you’ve met my inspiration, tell us about your inspiration. What or who inspires you to stretch yourself and take risks? Click on LEAVE A COMMENT below. We’re all anxious for you to share your stories! JUST DO IT! (PLEASE!)

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION

AN APOLOGY TO MY FOLLOWERS: I know this isn’t Tender Tuesday or Wacky Wednesday, and not even Theatrical Thursday… Please accept my apology for publishing this on Freaky Friday! (I’ve been a little busy….)

Many of you may not be aware that I’m in process of publishing my first Picture Book! I waited for months to have the carefully chosen publishers respond to my query and tell me how anxious they were to get the project to print. I dreamt of bidding wars over my manuscripts- seriously! You’re shaking your head right now, thinking another disillusioned novice gets a dose of reality. Not exactly! I have had some experience with publishing in a former segment of my life and after retiring from my full-on career as an IB principal- threw myself into writing 3 humorous Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). (I’m being cheeky here and pointing out that they’re listed in the blog roll to the right of this post with links to Amazon and Red Tuque Books- just in case you’d like to check them out… ha!)

I was in a BIG rush to break into the book publishing world at that point and just couldn’t wait around for publishers to acknowledge receipt of my manuscript (MEANING: those that would even consider glancing at an unsolicited manuscript). That’s right, I never looked too hard for a literary agent. I figured I had researched enough and through my amazing educational career with literacy, knew which publishers would be ideal for my books. Well, wasn’t that a bit of a shock when they didn’t immediately call, upon receipt of my query packets, to offer a contract?

At that point, I thought I could make it work on my own, so I published with CreateSpace (self-publishers associated with Amazon). Let’s just say, I’m not sure anyone actually found my novels, even though they promised great distribution, if authors did all the right things. I totally worked diligently, booking readings, setting up a website, blog , twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. I put my ebooks out on Smashwords, as well as Kindle, so that it would be available on all e-reader platforms. I found a Canadian Distributor (Red Tuque Books) and purchased ads for catalogues and literary newspapers, etc. I set up tables at X’mas and summer markets, and the list goes on…

What was the lesson learned from all that effort? THE BOOK BUSINESS is a difficult one to break into (near impossible, in fact, no matter how many webinars you watch, How To books you buy, subscriptions you have to Writers Digest, Book Baby, Canadian Children’s Book Center, etc.). However, in spite of all that, I still had to listen to my inner voice that was saying, “Hey Mary, do you think you’re a writer?” The answer is YES! And I had one particular story going through my mind, ever since I started sailing the Pacific North-West in my late 40’s on our TwoCan Catalina sailboat. I knew I had to publish it, and as I wrote this picture book, at the core of the inspiration were the delightful cartoons that were created and published monthly by Pacific Yachting Magazine’s COCKPIT CONFESSIONS’ cartoonist. Each vignette for this repetitive language picture book, had to have an amusing twist that would engage children, as well as parents and grandparents, and the entire boating community. The day I set up a meeting with Dave Alavoine in Starbucks in North Vancouver, was a day I’ll never forget.

Dave and I gave each other hints for how we’d recognize one another. (I had already been on the web looking at his past shows of his political cartoons, so I assumed I had a bit of an advantage.) But no, he was the one who figured out it was me- could it have been the meeting agendas laid out or the stack of my Frenchie novels, that gave me away? I chuckle to myself when I reminisce about that first meeting. I left it feeling like I was walking on air. He was such a lovely man and could visualize what I was looking for in the cartoons as we went through the text (which laid the context) and the action and dialogue I envisioned for each of the 23 images. Although, he was already committed to another book deal (Learn to Sail the Hard Way) and, of course, had monthly commitments with Pacific Yachting Magazine, he agreed to collaborate with me on OUR project, WHO’S the CAPTAIN?

This is the image that will be used on the cover of our book (I thought you might just like to have a sneak preview …)

Cover_004In my next installment I’ll explore more of the “tender moments” that transpired between Dave and Mary in their collaboration process of this awesome picture book that is on its way to becoming a reality! The core element to the success of this project has been INSPIRATION!

I know many of you who read my TENDER TUESDAYS have inspirational stories of you own. I would be so grateful if you would click on LEAVE a COMMENT below this post and leave your story. I promise to respond to all comments that are left. It enriches our experience, when one shares their thoughts with us. Please do!

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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THE BINGO QUEEN

                        –“BORN TO BINGO”

We have a 92 year old BINGO QUEEN in the family. She has a Sunday/ Monday routine that includes prep for BINGO Mondays. Sunday evenings, she makes her lunch, has her bath, and her BINGO day outfit is laid out in preparation. Her daughter calls this their “Girls Day” outing together. This is great, except the odd hiccup may occur with this scheduled date. Her brother is never going to set foot in the BINGO HALL (that’s understood…), so guess who is the next best thing… that’s right- her daughter-in-law- ME!

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DO IT RIGHT!  SERIOUS BUSINESS…this BINGO!!

I never realized what a serious business playing BINGO is, until my sister-in-law handed me a written plan, well in advance, detailing how to assist her mom throughout the “Girls Day”. She actually included a sample of the individual cards that must be glued in a certain way so that the card identity number still shows… SERIOUSLY! I wasn’t sure, as an educated woman with a Masters Degree, whether to be insulted or amused… (It turns out, her little cheat sheet was invaluable! Who knew?)

Read the rest of this entry

TENDER TUESDAYS

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POST CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE LESSONS

                                               -Anyone Playing?

Welcome back to the Post Script of Cruise Ship Bridge Lessons.  I wonder if I’ve totally put you off enrolling in bridge lessons aboard after reading about our instructor, Christine, last week. I certainly hope not!  Believe me, she’s still in my head when I deal a game!  This memorable character left quite an impression on all of us!  My husband says I shouldn’t have been so polite when I mentioned one of the male passengers had declared, “Christine, you scare the ” s_ _t ” out of me!”

All teasing aside, our cruise did come to an end after 58 short days! My husband and I experienced a bit of emotional reluctance when expected to descend the gangplank for the final time. Who were we going to play BRIDGE with? How were we going to keep improving?  When would we have time to play BRIDGE, once we returned to reality?  Oh such deep, disturbing questions (and all mine)!

We had good reason to wonder.  Reality hits hard when one has been away from home for a couple of months.  Although we’d prepared “our people” at home with HUGE hints that we’d be dying to play BRIDGE with them upon our return… the invites never quite materialized.

There are several BRIDGE CLUBS available in our neighborhood, but Christine’s words of caution kept ringing in my ears.  She convinced me that we’d be decimated if we joined a group too soon, without further lessons.  Husband Ryan was too busy to indulge me with practice games (using our Joan Butts’ cards), knowing that it’s near impossible to play with 2! So what was a girl to do?  I kept reading my BRIDGE books, studying my notes and I joined lessons and practice sessions online at http://www.joanbuttsbridge.com  I highly recommend this site for anyone who is out there and wants to retain the skills you’ve gained. However, I should caution you…

BEWARE of  ONLINE BRIDGE ADDICTION!

Seriously, you start off thinking, I’ll just play 3 hands and 10 hands later, your husband is begging you to shut down, as the glare off the screen light is causing him sleeplessness…

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Read the rest of this entry

TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

                               – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PLAY…

Welcome back to Part 2 of CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE. This segment introduces my readers to a whole new level of lessons. Let’s just say, it was a darn good thing that I started off with the instructors and the forgiving friends that we began with on the first leg, as the intensity was about to be ratcheted up by about 100%.

The first day that we were abandoned by all the fantastic friends we’d met and with whom we enjoyed playing and socializing, we felt somewhat lost. We knew we had all the Australian ports to look forward to and experience, but we weren’t entirely convinced we’d make the same special connections with new people onboard that we’d had the opportunity to make on our first leg.

Well, didn’t we get a surprise? Bridge was scheduled in the afternoons for a couple of hours for the advanced players … no that was not us! We tore up to the 5th deck immediately and pleaded our case with a most formidable Australian, Christine (the new bridge instructor). She agreed to offer an entire set of beginner’s lessons on sea days, and suggested that if we were super keen to practise her methodology in the bar in the latter afternoons, she wasn’t adverse to enjoying some wine, and offering our group further expert support. The first time we took her up on this, we were in the middle of a hand when she arrived, so husband Ryan just flipped her his room key to order her own glass of wine. She walked over to the bar, and in her somewhat brash voice, ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon! Of course she did! (Let’s just say, she caught frugal Ryan’s attention immediately!)

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There she is…the BRIDGE EVANGELIST!

The first lesson was jammed with novices and a few people, like ourselves, who had realistically come back to consolidate the previous lessons a second time, in order to start to make sense of the game (me, in particular!). Fortunately, the first two fellows that sat down at our table, remained our bridge partners for the duration of the trip. Rick (from Austin, Texas) had taken the first set of lessons, as well, and he was determined to learn as much as he could while on the ship. (It was his way of giving his wife her time; without him! What an accommodating husband!) Peter, an Australian gentleman (truly) from Melbourne, had a lot of card playing experience (I’m thinking maybe Black Jack…) and he kept us all on our toes with his special style of finessing! Christine (our instructor) kept reinforcing that we must be honest with PARTNER and provide them with only accurate information when bidding. Of course, unbeknownst to Ryan and I, our devious friend, Peter, had been bluffing while bidding and SHE caught him! OMG! She announced to the room that he lied to PARTNER! (A HUGE SIN!) He wasn’t being honest with his partner and giving accurate information in his bids, something unforgiveable to this BRIDGE EVANGELIST! Ryan loved the public humiliation of it all (only because it wasn’t directed his way….). After that, he constantly teased Peter, inquiring whether he was lying. Peter would just give him his sly smile, enjoying a little chuckle, never missing a beat…

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Our BRIDGE BUDDIES!

Christine had retired from teaching in an all boys Muslim School in Sydney. When she entered bridge class, she was totally in control and you knew you would be learning BRIDGE her way, even if she did try to soften her persona by referring to all of us as, “Darling”! She had no qualms about telling us of her wretched divorce and how she got rid of her husband. In fact, she tended to relate a lot of Bridge theory to PARTNER relationships… hence, the lack of empathy for anyone who wasn’t honest with PARTNER… You get what I’m saying, right? She confessed to us that she only took up BRIDGE, once her husband was out of the picture, and decided she needed a social outlet. She never encouraged the Beginner Class to get off the ship and join a BRIDGE CLUB immediately. No, she wanted to spare us the despair she felt when she innocently joined a club and was completely decimated on the first night. She recalled that she cried all the way home. However, our Christine was no quitter! Nope, she went back to the lion’s den and determinedly set out to master the game. (I’d say she pretty much reached her goal!)

Seriously, if she’d been the instructor on our first round of lessons, I would have folded after the first class. Christine was a force to be reckoned with! She was completely the opposite of the calm, lovely instructors- Wyn and Patti, on our first leg! Even the men were intimidated by this stocky, red-headed, brash Australian woman! One fellow actually confessed to the group, after being publicly admonished in her bold and forthright manner, “Christine, you scare me!” Of course, this broke up the entire room, as we all laughed but secretly thought how brave he was to say what we were all thinking…

Being a former educator, I totally loved her methodology of teaching. She had prepared color/number-coded cards, so that after the lesson, we could replay 4 hands until we mastered what it was she wanted us to learn. She didn’t follow the rules/conventions of the cruise line, in that she requested donations for setting up our duotangs and xeroxing the lessons. Of course, everyone was keen for her to do this! She also made Joan Butts’ Bridge Books available for purchase, as well. Our other instructors wouldn’t get involved in sales, making it necessary for us to scrounge for book stores in ports, trying to purchase these coveted HOW TO PLAY books. We were that desperate to improve!

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Christine was completely outrageous and that was her secret to keeping us all tuned in and learning. She’d tell you outright that she was the boss and when she served as bridge master in the afternoons for the Bridge Tournaments, one fellow became terse and called her a ‘b—-‘. She fired him! That’s right, the obnoxious man was banned from all bridge lessons and games forevermore.

This BRIDGE EVANGELIST gave us homework during lessons, such as, “I want you to go to your cabin and in front of the bathroom mirror, you must practice saying the word, “PASS”, I know you can do it!” (She was easily frustrated when people without any High Card Points, would bid regardless…) Christine’s words of advice, included: “In bridge you win on everyone else’s mistakes. The errors made by others provide opportunities for you.” I had no idea what she meant… but now I get it and she was so right!

Christine sat with us at dinner one night. We introduced her to the non-bridge players at the table. She commented that she figured she was the most misquoted woman on the ship. When we asked what she meant by that, she said that as she’d read her book in the lounge, she’d overhear people quoting her incorrectly from the lessons. Rather than addressing them and straightening them out, she’d just bend her head and bury it behind her book. It made me wonder if she was addressing us on that matter, as we always joined up for practice and spouted off what we thought we heard her say in class…

Christine’s last word of advice to all of the BEGINNERS, was to not rush out and join a Bridge Club the minute you returned home. (She knew they’d eat us alive… well at least the real novices in the crowd, like me!) She suggested that we take more lessons before frustrating the more advanced players with our lack of knowledge and finesse. (Good advice, right?) Of course, the entire time we had been away, we were sending out CRUISE NEWS emails telling our friends at home that we couldn’t wait to get home to start playing bridge with them. I’ll bet you think you know how that turned out, don’t you? You’ll have to read next week’s Tender Tuesday’s installment to find out whether BRIDGE is still alive and well in our lives, and that of our partners…

Remember, there is a FOLLOW button at the bottom of the BLOG ROLL (on the right hand side of the screen). If you click on it, it will subscribe you to my blog and you’ll receive an email, each time a new posting is up (in case you want to catch it). As well, at the end of each blog post there is some small print and in there is a place to click Comments. Many of you sent comments directly by email (which was awesome to receive- thank you), but it would be lovely to receive your stories and feedback right on the blog site for all to read and share. DON’T BE SHY! WE WANT TO READ HOW THESE POSTS RELATE TO YOU AND WHAT YOUR TENDER MOMENTS ARE! Thanks for visiting everyone!