Monthly Archives: May 2016

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?)

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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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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!

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

-The GOOD, The BAD & The UGLY!

Part 1

Last fall, my husband and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. Our cruise ship left Vancouver, British Columbia and travelled through the South Pacific Ocean and Islands, ending up in Sydney, Australia. But that was only the first leg of the trip. We then circumnavigated the entire continent of Australia visiting Bali, Indonesia and Komodo Island, as well. The entire cruise lasted 58 days! And I know what you’re thinking… What could this couple possibly do on a small ship (1200 passengers) with all those sea days between ports? Well, let me tell you, we were never bored; in fact, husband Ryan often complained of being over-scheduled! (I think our activities and classes may have overlapped with Happy Hour!)

We met a wonderful B.C. couple from Tsawwassen over dinner on the second night out and, discovered that their stateroom was across the hall from us. And wouldn’t you know it? They played BRIDGE and mentioned that they were attending the advanced class on sea days, but the instructors would be holding a beginner class and we should try it. Now, you have to understand, my husband, Ryan was the kind of student that spent a good portion of his scholarly days in the University Students’ Lounge playing BRIDGE. (Of course he did!) I, on the other hand, the more studious type, never played BRIDGE (or any other card game for that matter). Our new friends convinced us to take advantage of this opportunity and promised to mentor us by playing practice games between lessons. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t reluctant in the least to sign up. I romantically visualized my husband and I playing with friends at home during the winter and in anchorages on long summer evenings. Fortunately, my somewhat brusque husband agreed to be my partner for the lessons, pretty much the only activity he did with his darling wife, without any grumblings … (Okay, so Cha-Cha wasn’t his thing!)

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In retrospect, I now see how BRIDGE lessons seemed to take over our cruise life. I had to be up early enough to squeeze in a workout and shower before our lesson, and Ryan had to be connected, via internet, with work. He always made time for a hearty cruise style breakfast and if possible, attended a guest speaker talk (You know… those engrossing series about astronomy, global warming, and all that other fascinating stuff…) In fact, he’d usually slide into his seat, just as the lesson would begin, munching on sticky pastries, of course!

On the first leg, the instructors were a married couple and they were very calm, patient and simply lovely. THANK GOD!! Never a harsh word, always supportive with dimwit Mary who hadn’t yet mastered shuffling cards! We were paired with Andrew (an Australian from Brisbane who decided early in the lessons that Ryan should join him for crib during the day, as well, and join his boat-building team for the big culminating competition). Let’s just say that Andrew was more than capable of mastering two games simultaneously! Our other partner was Sharon, a fellow Canadian from Kamloops. Sharon had played a lot of bridge and should have probably been in the advanced group with our friends, but we were thankful she stuck it out with us. Of course, we were all keeners. This meant that after our hour of lessons, we would stay on another hour and do some practice games.

Andrew_Sharon_Mary_BridgeBy the time we were done with bridge, Ryan and Mary would split up and go our many ways. As often as possible, I’d take my bridge book poolside, trying to figure out what the heck I was doing! This is where our friends who got us into lessons came in. We’d meet up with them before dinner and play some hands (How they put up with my total misunderstanding of the game, I’ll never know…) And then after dinner, we’d sit in the theatre before the live show began and play some more.

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Let me tell you, people were drawn to us. We were BRIDGE magnets! They’d drop by and check out our hands and interrupt my concentration. Everyone had advise to offer me. It was obvious that I was the only novice in the group and even couples from our lessons would stop by and start telling me how to play my hand. Our friends were incredibly patient with me and never made me feel like the big L (I felt) was tattooed to my forehead.

Ryan wrote home to all our friends and family stating that his wife l-o-v-e-d BRIDGE and had taken to it like a duck to water. I wouldn’t actually describe my learning curve that way, at all. I was proud to be risk-taking and loved the challenge of learning something that made one think. It was often seriously intimidating when I was so behind in card knowledge, that even sorting one’s cards in one’s hand was difficult. (I was caught several times with cards hidden behind others without realizing it, or forgetting which suit was trump, or laying down the wrong suit to begin with… you get the picture.) It took a village to keep me progressing…

When the first leg of the trip was over, and all of our friends disembarked, we looked at one another and said, “Well, what do we do now?” Our cruise life at sea was all about BRIDGE! Microsoft classes, cooking demos, zumba, movies/live shows, and overindulgent eating wasn’t going to cut it –without BRIDGE!

If you’re curious about the second leg of our Australian cruise and how BRIDGE was addressed, you won’t want to miss next week’s TENDER TUESDAYS! Why don’t you leave a comment about one of your new skills or games that you’ve recently learned. I’ll bet you have some humorous stories to share. Let’s just say, you’re going to love the people stories in next week’s segment.

Thanks for reading TENDER TUESDAYS (even though it never got published until WACKY WEDNESDAY….ha!)

TENDER TUESDAYS

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SENIORS CARING for SENIORS (Part 4)

COMING HOME

Thanks for returning to Tender Tuesdays! This week’s installment captures our dad’s “great escape” from the 5th Floor of our local hospital. This is Part 4 of senior kids managing the care and affairs of their parents living long and healthy lives, with many surpassing the not so unusual 100th Birthday milestone! In fact a friend of mine, only yesterday, excitedly relayed her plans to celebrate her own mother’s upcoming 100th birthday party. See what I mean?

Our father’s stay on the 5th Floor was short-lived. As soon as we met with the hospital’s Social Worker and understood our options, we unanimously agreed that he’d be moved as quickly as possible. Fortunately, my husband’s parents had saved for this stage of their lives, in the event that extended care would be required. Private Complex Care back at the same complex as their independent-living apartment, was the only decision to be made. Unfortunately, other senior kids in our position, may not be able to make the same choice for their parents. If we hadn’t, he would have had to stay in the hospital until a subsidized extended care facility (somewhere in the city or surrounding towns) had a free bed. What a relief it was NOT to have to be put on that waitlist.

Everyone was prepped and a private ambulance was booked for the move, upon his discharge. It was amazing the difference in support we experienced on 5th Floor, once they knew our dad was leaving. The staff suddenly wanted to get involved and help with making arrangements. Let’s just say, Dad (and family) didn’t shed a tearful farewell with the staff! (I think my husband’s sister actually did a HAPPY DANCE all the way through the halls with Dad in his gurney.)

What a difference between hospital care and private complex care! His room had been refreshed and repainted, with everything organized and ready for him. There was a welcoming committee at the door and he literally felt like he was home. In fact, once he was snuggled into his bed, his first conversation with his wife had to do with problem-solving how they could fit her bed into his room. Hmmm…. maybe he didn’t quite get it that he’d be living solo in his new digs, and his wife would be making daily visits…

The first morning in Private Care, my husband and I arrived early to see how his night went. A content man met us! He was thrilled to be in a quiet room where no one was receiving calls in the middle of the night on their cell phones. They had just cleaned him up and he felt pretty good. (They had even parted and combed over his hair, the way he liked it… just a little Donald Trump thing happening with his hair!) My husband asked his Dad if he wanted to change his sitting position. He made an indignant face and asked, “Why would I want you to call a politician?” Obviously, the restful night in Complex Care hadn’t solved his hearing problems!

The Care Facility ensured we had adequate visitor chairs and hot coffee, muffins, and fruit were brought in for us to enjoy during our visit…. We were in a state of shock! Every nurse that came in and out of his room, were friendly, concerned for his comfort, and committed to making a personal connection with him. It was such a relief to leave him in their professional and kind care!

His wife, daughter, and son-in-law were able to come and go with their visits. Wheeling Mom over to the Complex Care building was much simpler than having to get her up to the 5th Floor of the hospital. She was so much happier having him close by and many of their friends were able to drop in for short visits, as well.

Of course, even though his comfort was their upmost priority, our Dad was slipping away on his own time. He loved waking up and finding a note and/or flowers left by his snooker and dinner buddies, friends, and neighbors. This provided us opportunities to discuss how important he was to so many people and how deeply they cared about him.

It also opened the door to discuss his wife of 69 years… I know, right? … He had taken his vows seriously. His wife had developed mobility issues and chronic nerve pain due to a broken hip and diabetes. He was committed to care for and keep her safe. His devotion to his wife made him her caregiver for several years. We realized that he was struggling with leaving her behind, and when we were able to convince him that she was coping on her own and that we would take good care of his Ilse, that’s when he finally felt at peace to let himself go. (We didn’t let him know of the calls his wife made to his daughter, disoriented at bedtime because her blood sugar was too low. He didn’t need to know that his excellent care-giving, senior daughter rushed right over to feed her mom an egg and cheese, waiting up with her for an hour to retest her blood sugar, before tucking her into bed.) No, he needed reassurance that it was okay to leave her in our capable hands…. well, at least in his daughter’s capable hands!!

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69 Years of Marriage!

The morning Dad passed away, my husband was away on a business trip and I was scheduled to take my mother-in-law over to see her husband. Wouldn’t you believe it? A LOW OIL icon on the dash of my new Mini showed up, and a long distance call to my husband proved that what I read in the manual was true. I had to get my neighbor to drive 25 minutes into the BMW dealership to get me the proper oil. Of course, in the interim, Complex Care called and said that we should come quickly, as our dad was fading. My mother-in-law was waiting for me to push her over to his bedside, I couldn’t get hold of my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law was at her hairdressers (but not the one I thought she went to…) without her cell phone. My husband (from afar) suggested I get hold of the lovely woman working at the entrance desk of Independent Living and ask her to rush up immediately and wheel his mom over to Complex Care.

I arrived ten minutes after my father-in-law passed away. His wife made it to his bedside for his final breaths, and his daughter and son-in-law were there just seconds later. This lovely man left us without any pain and took his leave with the confidence and belief that it was finally time to let go. The staff members were respectful of our sadness and gave us the support and privacy that we needed. One of the nurses (her husband is the chef for the Independent Living dinners) made a point of talking with us about how she knew all about our dad before he moved in because her husband always spoke so highly of him. The personnel from their apartment were equally lovely. They went out of their way to look out for our mom and support her through her grief.

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We miss him. It has taken us quite some time to come to terms with the finality of our loss. I know you can relate to these tender moments our family experienced with our dad, in our role as his senior kids and care-givers. He lived 93 years, without a complaint, and was a fine man worthy of the love and friendships that he enjoyed throughout his life. His life with his family was important to us (even the in-law kids, but of course, I was his favourite daughter-in-law… I know, I know- I was his only daughter-in-law)!

 

X'mas 2014

Dad’s FAVORITE Son-in-Law

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Dad’s Favorite Daughter-in-Law (REALLY!)

Please share your tender moments with us. (Just click on Comments below. and leave us your story.) As fatigued and sad as we were with his passing, we all agreed that his Memorial Service ended up being a true celebration of his life with friends, family, neighbours, and German Club members. What a memorable gentleman he was!