Category Archives: Life Long Learner

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!)

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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!)

Why Enrol in Blogging 101?

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Why Did I Start Blogging?

Everyone enrolled in BLOGGING 101 will have different reasons for getting a blog underway. I am a purposeful retired educator/administrator who found that I was unprepared for “retirement”.  What did I do?  I wrote a middle years series of  3 humorous novels, entitled the Frenchie Series (Frenchie referring to French Bulldogs). Interesting, the MG novels are about a 13 year old boy who blogs each night to all the Frenchie lovers… Most of all, the writing kept me engaged and excited about creating something that I hoped families would get some chuckles from reading.  As well, it kept me learning new skills, such as setting up an author platform and coordinating one’s promotion and marketing plan.  I hired a genius high school student four years ago and set up a state of the art website for my titles.(Fortunately/Unfortunately he is now a second year student in Harvard and completely unavailable to update this lovely website!)

Blogging was the next step.  I used it, initially, to run contests, have students send in feedback after making school/library visits and advertised each new book. What I didn’t do is set it up as strictly an author’s blog.  There were so many other things going on in one’s life with which to have some fun!  I enjoy recognizing family, friends, neighbors, etc. who touch my life and I feel compelled to write my blog posts for them. I know that blogging about experiences involving them makes them feel important to me and I want them to have that. We have many laughs over the crazy everyday experiences that bring us such delight when it is blogged.

Why Enroll in Blogging 101?

Now that I am enrolled in Blogging 101, I realize that this will give me the opportunity/skills to start up a second blog. One will be for selling my published books, advertising my workshops/ author visits, and providing writing advice to readers, etc. And the other will be to add some personal humor and fun  into the lives of my readers, who care about many of the same things I encounter as I move through this journey of post career.  I was an innovative and dedicated teacher/ principal and blogging provides me with the challenge I need to reach people and maybe even touch their lives.

Am I a techno whiz? Hardly!  Do I need a little support setting up my new blog site?  Absolutely!  Will Blogging 101 provide the support and tools I need to succeed? I’m certainly hopeful and appreciative!

Consider Subscribing to http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com

Keep checking in readers, as I feel my progress could be your incentive to take some risks and try to perfect something that is important to you.  If you have some words of advice or just a story to share that may inspire others to get out there and become engaged with their world, please leave a comment. We’d all love to hear from you.