Posted tagged ‘Cribbage’

Fathers represent another way of looking at life — the possibility of an alternative dialogue.

December 1, 2017

Today has already been a long day, and it is only halfway finished. Gracie woke me up at 6:30 so we went out. It was raining, a light rain, but Gracie doesn’t care for rain so we went back inside quickly where both of us got cozy and easily returned to the arms of Morpheus. I woke up at 10:20. It was then I learned a new verse to Dem Bones: the back bone is connected to the head bone. I could barely walk and I had a headache, but Gracie and Maddie were waiting, Maddie less patiently than Gracie. She meowed. I took Gracie out, got my newspapers and yesterday’s mail. I stopped twice to rest my back. Gracie waited. Once inside, I grabbed Maddie’s dishes and filled both of them, put the coffee on then fed Gracie. She wolfed down her breakfast as if she hadn’t eaten in days. I got my coffee and started reading the papers. I turned on MSNBC just to check recent news and got throughly caught up in the Flynn testimony. By then it was time for more coffee and an English muffin which Gracie and I shared. I finished the papers but kept an ear to the TV. That’s where we are right now.

I was a bit surprised when I woke up to see the rain had given way to a sunny day with warmish temperatures, especially for December. My nose should be cold, and I should be bundling to stay warm; instead, a sweatshirt is more than enough. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I’m just surprised, happily surprised.

My father would have been 91 today. I think of him often especially when I fall or hit my finger with a hammer, a couple of dad things I inherited. I miss his sense of humor and our seemingly endless games of cards. I remember once when we were playing High Low Jack, and he did something to his back and fell off the bench to the floor. He didn’t complain about the pain. All he kept saying is, “I’m trumping. I’m trumping.” We roared laughing while he was still on the floor. He and I played endless games of cribbage. My wins were luck; his were expertise. That drove me crazy, and he knew it so he always said it after one of his wins. I wish I could play one more game of cribbage with him. I’d even be glad if he won because I’d get to see him smile and gloat one more time. I’m thinking about you, Dad!

“Every day my mother had tea. My dad has his ritual cigar. They had their evening cocktail. Those rituals were done nicely, with flair and feeling.”

March 27, 2017

Today is chilly, damp and cloudy. Last night it rained, and the ground is still wet. More rain is expected today. My dance card is empty so I’m staying close to hearth and home. I’m declaring today a sloth day. It’s a sit on the couch, watch TV, and snack day. It is comfy clothes including a sweatshirt that has seen better days. It is not fit for public viewing.

It has been a quiet news day. The front page of the Globe had only a single Trump article, and it was at the bottom of the page: “Trump girds for tax fight and Prepares to reverse Obama climate plan.”

When I’d visit my mother, she and I had rituals. We’d sit for hours at the kitchen table playing Big Boggle. We’d order take out for dinner. She paid and I picked up. On Saturday, we did some shopping. Both she and I liked off-beat places, never a mall. Sometimes we’d venture afar. One Saturday we went as far as North Conway, and we shopped and had lunch. We were gone so long my father figured we were lost, wandering aimlessly from backroad to backroad. Little did he realize that my mother and I loved backroads, even when we had no idea where we’d end up. On Saturday night, depending on the season, my father barbecued. It was always a couple of different meats, chips, a potato salad or pepper and egg. Chinese sausage was the favorite meat one year, but my mother’s marinated steak tips were perennial favorites. On Sunday morning my dad went out early for donuts. He was a plain donut guy, and he spread butter on it. He’d then start cooking breakfast. It was always eggs, bacon and toast. The eggs were easy over and the bacon crispy. I’d sit at the kitchen table to keep him company    Sometimes I was on toast duty. Sunday afternoons were for cribbage. When I won, it was the luck of the draw. When my dad won, it was expertise. I lived to skunk him.

“Life is more fun if you play games.”

March 2, 2014

It wasn’t as cold as I expected when I went to get the papers this morning. It was 39˚ and felt warm. Today I have good weather news. The snow storm we are expecting has changed direction and is predicted to be only 2-4 inches down from 6 to 8. That is sweeping snow, not shoveling snow.

When I’d visit my parents for the weekend, my Dad would go out and buy the Sunday paper and a dozen donuts. He never remembered my favorite donut, but he bought enough choices so I was content. His favorite was plain. He would always butter the donut before he ate it with his coffee. My dad preferred instant coffee instead of brewed. I never understood that. Sunday was his day to make breakfast. He always used the cast iron skillet and kept a   over his shoulder as he cooked to wipe his hands. I can still see him at the stove. This time of year he wore corduroys, long sleeve shirts and brown suede shoes from L.L. Bean. He’d cook the bacon then ask how we wanted our eggs. He was adept at over-easy. Waiting for my breakfast was the best time. My dad and I would talk about all sorts of stuff though politics were never among them. We were polar opposites. After breakfast, we’d play a few games of cribbage. We always played cribbage every time we got together. Sometimes we’d play 5 or 6 games. The number of games depended upon whether he was winning or losing. A higher number of games meant he was losing, and we’d play until his luck changed though he always said he won by strategy while I won by luck. I loved to tease him when I won. Skunking him was the best of all, and it drove him crazy.

Games were so much a part of my growing up. We played them all the time. My parents taught my brother and me whist so they could each have a partner. My aunts and uncles would come up to the house on Friday nights, and they sit around the kitchen table and play cards. My dad was too funny as he always harassed them when he won but all in good fun. The kitchen would be filled with smoke and they’d each have a drink. They were the high ball generation.

Those nights are etched in my memory drawers. I can still hear the laughter and my father’s voice. I can hear my mother laughing along with my dad, and I can hear my aunt demanding the cards be dealt especially if she lost the last hand.

“I must complain the cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand.”

February 25, 2011

Around three this morning the rain started and it’s still pouring. A strong wind is blowing even the thickest branches in the backyard, and I bet several will fall. Scrub pine is fragile. The house is dark but not quiet. I can hear the wind, the rain hitting the windows and a constant dripping from the roof. The animals are asleep. When I finish here, I have to venture out for a few groceries, but that’s all I have to do today. I’m thinking I’ll come home, get out of my wet clothes into cozies and read.

Last night was trivia, and my strangest contribution was knowing the name of the Keebler elf. I look forward to the Thursday trivia. It’s dinner out, a night with friends and the fun of wracking my brain for answers hidden in some drawer way in the back. We like to win, but last night we struggled on one round which had us way in the back of the pack, sixth going into the final question, but we rallied and ended up third.

We have been a game playing family for as long as I can remember. From the time I was little, we’d sit around the kitchen table and play. Early on my parents taught my brother and me whist so they could always have ready partners. My dad taught us card games like fan tan, cribbage and casino, and we played games like dominoes, Kismet, Uno or Skat. When we played Uno, my father never remembered to say Uno when he had one card left. One game he was so frustrated by having to pick up cards he took his book of matches, placed it in the middle of the table and said that was his Uno, and he didn’t ever have to say it. It got no approval as we all took some joy in yelling, “You didn’t say Uno!”

Everywhere we traveled, my dad and I played cribbage. On one trip to Ireland, we realized we had left the board at home so we went shopping and found one at a store in Dublin. It became our official traveling board. Later on, for whatever the reason, the wooden board warped and two corners were always in the air, but we didn’t care. It was a memory in itself, and we took it everywhere. My mother often took pictures of the two of us playing. I especially remember a picture taken in Germany. We were in Garmisch. We were on the bed, my dad and I, each to our side with the board in the middle. We posed as my mother took the picture. She then got comfy and read while we played. My father and I made fun of each other and baited each other as we played game after game. My mother ignored us. She was a smart woman.

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