Secret Agent



by Lee St. John|
Oct. 05, 2017 – 10:08 PM
I have been playing bridge now for about eight years.When I say, “playing,” I really play AT it. It is a very hard game to maneuver. It’s harder than Old Maid. It’s even harder than Go Fish, which means it’s a pretty hard game to grasp. 

Old Maid card game...I remember that face! This is exactly the Old Maid deck I had as a kidding!  This is an adorable vintage Go Fish Card Game set    In original box...dated 1951    Box has wear Made by Ed-u-cards    Complete set of 36 cards


It was created by a VANDERBILT, for crying out loud. Well, it wasn’t really created by a Vanderbilt, but one improved it. The history of contract bridge may be dated as early as the 16th century. Contract bridge is just what it means – you enter into a bidding contract with your partner.Bridge card game - one of my memories from when I was in grade school was my mom and step father playing bridge with friends from the neighborhood. It was a regular event, (like poker games for the guys, but this was definitely coed ... Even the husbands were enthusiastic. My mom loved to not only play the game, but she loved all the preparations when the games were at our house, like making hor derives. Great memory :)

And Harold Stirling Vanderbilt changed the rules from the former game into what it is today. I’ll spare you from having to hear all those archaic rules of yesteryear. I’ll even save you from hearing about the rules that have been in place since 1925.

It is the second most popular card game in the world. It can be a serious tournament game – duplicate bridge – or you can play it for fun socially – kitchen bridge, social bridge. It is always challenging.

Bill Gates said, “Bridge is the King of all games.” (

Bill Gates gives 95% of his wealth away and believes he does not pay enough taxes.  Brilliance and generosity - what a combination.

Oh, the joy of playing bridge: “Playing duplicate bridge is the ultimate social game for thinkers.”

“Kitchen bridge has a great sense of rumor.” Get the picture? What had you rather have? Seriousness or fun?

I suppose a golfer has the same quandary. He wants to seriously play well but on the other hand wants to have fun doing it. Of course, it is fun winning at bridge, but you are in a nightmare sometimes until you do.

If you have the slightest touch of masochism, you’ll love this game.

After the cards are dealt, players place them from high to low – sometimes low to high – in their particular suit. Some ladies from my neighborhood bridge club came down to the lake to play cards one weekend, and I ran to the restroom while the cards were being dealt. I returned, picked up my cards to organize them in my hand, and that step was already completed.

Had anyone touched my cards? NO! They were in perfect order from high to low by suit and high to low by number. CREEPY! What are the statistical chances of that happening? I should have played the lottery that week.

katespadeny: read more about florence broadhurst on our blog.   via musings in femininity.

Here’s the thing about bridge which absolutely cracks me up: there are codes. You and your partner are bidding – coding back and forth – and your opponents are just decoding as fast as you bid them. I mean why can’t one gal say, “I have an equal amount of cards from each suit, my total points equal between 14-16, and I want to know what my partner’s best 5 card suit is in her hand.”

Instead this is what is said: “One-no trump.” Now that answer is not so bad. But it’s the responses that get me. In Kitchen Bridge one can just ask, “Are we playing ‘Jacoby’?” but in Duplicate Bridge you had better know that convention because one can’t talk. Then when ‘Jacoby’ play is established, the bid turns into something else all together which is known by everyone at the table!

So what’s with all the secret codes? If ‘Jacoby’ is out in the open, there IS no secret in the bidding after that.

There are other ‘secrets’ to bridge that everyone knows about. If you play ‘Blackwood’ or ‘Gerber” conventions (codes) you’re asking your partner for how many aces and kings they have. They answer in a bid, everyone knows and so it goes. So, what’s the big deal with trying to be discreet and yet everyone playing at the table knows what kind of cards you have?

Forget being a good sleuth and thinking you are some Secret Agent discovering hidden bidding clues in bridge. EVERYONE knows.

One Time Mailing of Six Top Secret Agent Spy Missions with Briefcase -- Ultimate Science Spy Kit on Etsy, $75.00

But here’s a clue: Eye Donut Kerr.

Serenity Now

Serenity Now

By Lee St. John
Serenity Now

No automatic alt text available.

If you are/were a Seinfeld junkie like me you will remember “The Serenity Now” episode. It aired in the United States on October 9, 1997. Frank Costanza, Jerry’s oldest friend’s father, was advised to say “Serenity Now” every time he got angry in order to keep his blood pressure down.
This episode’s plot was inspired by Seinfeld writer, Steve Koren’s real-life events. While driving with his arguing parents, Koren was bewildered to hear his father shout “Serenity now!” at the top of his lungs as part of a rage controlling exercise his doctor had told him about.
He then questioned his dad if whether or not the phrase was meant to be yelled as Frank Costanza also does on the show.

Perfect design for fans of Seinfeld who just want a little peace in their lives. Serenity Now! Just picture this quote being yelled by Frank or George Costanza on Seinfeld.

I need some serenity in my life. For many years, I have sporadically attended yoga, which is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices of disciplines that originated in India.

Find your balance and stay grounded so you can bend, not break. <3

It has become popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world.
I’d say it helps.
I now have a waterfall in my sun room and wind chimes right outside on my deck. I am trying to get there.

Tabletop Fountain with Planter in Indoor Fountains   Wind Chime Zen Beach Stone Handcrafted More

I also say the Serenity Prayer:

– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

“God grant me the serenity�to accept the things I cannot change; �courage to change the things I can; �and wisdom to know the difference…”��

Then there is Karma, derived from India meaning action, word or deed and which also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of the individual (effect).
Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering. Well, it must be real. Karma took a bite out of me.
Once, in the late 1980s while having an early morning breakfast at McDonald’s, I spotted an attractive older gentleman. This refined man with his bald head was with a darling little girl who I supposed to be his granddaughter because of the age difference.
Thinking I was complimenting him on his descendant, I commented, “What a darling grandchild.” He shot back, “Shame on you. This is my daughter.” I hadn’t expected that.

The Greatest Patrick Stewart Memes

Even with those good intentions, Karma came knocking in 1993 to get back at me. I was 40 when our second child arrived.
My dear, dear friends who knew how long we attempted to have a second child were thrilled for us and gave a baby shower for me which included so many girlfriends from far and wide. I was overwhelmed by the number who arrived and with the outpouring of happiness and love for my family.
I brought our two-month-old addition for everyone to see. We already had an 8-year-old son, I had returned to my teaching position. I was tired all the time, and I looked it. And I cried a lot. That shower was no exception as my heart was so full – and exhausted.
Getting low on diapers for the following week, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home. I looked a mess. My make-up had dripped down the front of my face and I hadn’t slept much the night before from dealing with a two-month old during the previous night.
When I checked out, a young man bagged my groceries and then asked if he could assist me to my car as it had started raining.
He had an umbrella and I had a baby and buggy full of groceries. Of course he could help. As he pushed my cart for me while I’m holding the baby and the umbrella for all of us, he said,
“Is this your grandbaby?”
Although he never knew why, all I said to him was, “I deserve that.”I want to have my pic taken with my new grand baby like this. ; > MEL

She'll get hers, my love. No worries.

A Hurricane by any Other Name may not Sound so Sweet

from THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD,  September 17, 2017


What’s with the hurricane names like Harvey and Irma? If they were named something more destructive like Hurricane Death-Megatron-500, everyone would evacuate immediately.

Here we have a Men's Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil Cartoon Tie. It was made by Looney Tunes Mania. It is 100% polyester. It is in good condition. It does have some wear and imperfections.

In 1950, the formal practice for storm naming was first developed by the U.S. National Hurricane Center for the Atlantic Ocean. Storms were named using the alphabet (i.e., Andy, Bill, Charlene), and these names were the same for hurricane season. When a new season of hurricanes came came around, it was always the exact same names and same order.

To avoid the repetitive use of names, the system was revised in 1953 so that storms would be given female names. The National Weather Service was mimicking Naval meteorologists who name storms after women just like ships.

I was in a hurricane in Destin, Fla. in 1995. Her name was Erin. Our 1995 Erin was pretty tame by comparison to these in the news lately. It was the fifth named tropical cyclone and the second hurricane of the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. When it made landfall on the central eastern Florida coastline on Aug. 2, it came in as a Category 1.

But moving up to the Florida Panhandle, it struck again on Aug. 3 as a Category 2, causing a moderate amount of damage because of its peak strength of 100 mph winds and 973 millibars in central pressure just prior to the second landfall.

We owned a condo in a mid-rise development. The building was swaying, I suppose to give instead of break. Our sliding glass doors were bowing in. In 1995, we did not have hurricane doors, which we eventually replaced because of Opal two months later.

But Erin didn’t have much of a surge and therefore didn’t cause much damage. As a matter of fact, after it passed, we went outside and took pictures on the beach, and Alvin’s Alley, a locale at many resort towns, printed T-shirts right off the bat that we wore the next day saying, “I survived Erin.”

Hurricane To Do List

Our oldest child was 10 at the time, and he and his cousin were participating in a week-long Marine Biology Camp at the Gulfarium. Erin hit on a Wednesday. They were able to get in their first two days of camp, then the hurricane, and finally the last two days. What was so interesting about the last two days of camp was they saw marine life they hadn’t seen in their first two days. I guess we got our money’s worth after all.

I want to be a marine biologist, I should read this book. ha

Although a Category 2, we didn’t lose power, but two months later, in rolls Opal, a Category 4.  It destroyed our condo. Our condo’s roof was made with tar and pebbles (really rocks), and they were displaced by being blown into our glass sliding glass doors and windows. And then, of course, the rain came in and made a mess. Boardwalks, landscaping, balconies, and railings were destroyed as well. The pool had crazy stuff in it.

After more than 30 years, we sold our second home this year. After this week, I might be extremely glad we did.

'Brutal night': Hurricane Hermine looms just off Florida coast

*** Luck and prayers to the Southeast. Next up: Jose. Stay safe.

Lee St. John, a retired Coweta County high school English teacher, is the author of five humorous books and two audio books.

Peas and Carrots


Peas and carrots

  • Sep. 09, 2017 – 4:17 PM

“Outlander” is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time-travel series of novels by Diana GabaldonFinally, We Have a Premiere Date for <i>Outlander</i> Season 3

I saw the STARZ cable network’s first season and was hooked. And when the main character landed in Scotland, oh my, I was mesmerized. And then when I saw Jamie Frazer… that’s all she wrote.Jamie Fraser More

My maternal grandmother came from a Scotch-Irish heritage, McCollum. While watching the TV series, the writers had several different Scots say, “Good luck to ‘ya.” in various situations. 

I heard my mother say that on many occasions. “Mother, I am running to the store to pick up…” “Good luck to ‘ya.” “Mama, I am nervous about my test on…” “Good luck to ‘ya.” No matter how large or small a situation, as I left to act on something, her response was the same, “Good luck to ‘ya.”

It made me think that maybe this was some saying passed down by the Scottish McCollums and without knowing it, they might be repeating something from generations ago without thinking… just a rote statement.

Once, while at the nail salon I heard a 30-plus-year-old gal who was on the phone and sitting next to me declare, “Dag nab it.” 

After her conversation I found out her age, and then I asked her use of the phrase. If you remember that expression was repeated on the Appalachian family TV show, “The Real McCoys” (1957-1962), by Walter Brennan, as Amos McCoy. 

He delivered the line “Dag nab it, Luke” whenever he was frustrated with his grandson (played by Richard Crenna).The Real McCoys (1957-1963)

She wasn’t old enough to hear it firsthand and explained she heard her mother express it all the time and picked it up from her. 

See? She didn’t know its origin. It was her mother’s habit to use that phrase, and now another generation is borrowing it.

Now, what remarks are we Southerners passing down to our children and possibly theirs? Let’s take a look at a few:

  1. He’s a tall drink of iced tea.

  2. They’re as happy as clams at high tide.

  3. They’re finer than frogs’ hair split four ways.

  4. He’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.

  5. She’s got more style than Carter’s got liver pills.

  6. She’s as wild as a Junebug on a string.

  7. She’s madder than a wet hen.

  8. He’s as crooked as a barrel of snakes.

  9. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (from the Bible)

  10. She’s as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof.

What are we “heah in the South” inherently demonstrating in language to our future children?

If you’re unsure of the meaning of some of these Southern-cultured similes and metaphors (which is just a drop in the bucket of what’s out there), just ask your grandparents because Mamaw, Big Daddy, and these aphorisms go together like peas and carrots.  Browned Butter Peas and Carrots - a simple way to add incredible flavor to this basic vegetable side dish recipe without a lot of fuss. Quick, easy, healthy, and flavorful! | | gluten free, vegetarian


Lee St. John, a retired Coweta County high school English teacher, is the author of five humorous books and two audio books.

Kissin’ Cuzins – Guest blogger for Bienvenue Press Publishing

September 10, 2017 – I’ve been kissed by a President. Yup. You read that correctly.:Seal Of The President Of The United States Of America

After high school graduation and before attending college, I didn’t have a summer job. I tried to enjoy those last free days before leaving home. That summer of 1971, I volunteered to help my county’s Chamber of Commerce participate in the STAY AND SEE GEORGIA campaign. The Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism planned celebration activities at Lenox Square Mall (which in 1971 was an open air mall with breezeways connecting the stores). They planned to bring together partners in Georgia’s tourism industry to showcase Georgia’s assets and spread a message of “Stay and See Georgia.” Don’t spend your travel dollars elsewhere. With 159 counties to choose among, they wanted travelers to stay and see what Georgia offered.

Greetings from Georgia Maps

The campaign was one week long and several of us YOUNG GIRLS manned the booth for our county. We wore our high school’s matching cheerleading outfits so we would all look uniformed. The uniform top was a solid red vest with an Oxford cloth white Peter Pan collared shirt, which the length of the sleeves came to our elbow. We had on white knee socks with still-in-my-closet Bass Saddle Oxford shoes. The knee socks had a tassel at the fold at the top. The skirt was mighty short. It was only as long as your fingertips by your side. The uniform had a red and black pleated plaid skirt for our school colors.

saddle-shoes-403 by Saddle Shoe Habitat, via Flickr

Our county’s only treasure which we promoted was a Roman Catholic Church. Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery belonged to the world-wide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, or more commonly known as Trappists. This tourist attraction had individuals of all faiths flock to the monastery. The Monastery is sustained through The Abbey Store, a stained glass manufacturing business, a bonsai garden plant and supply business, donations, a green cemetery, and onsite retreats. One can experience this serenity of restful recollection and spiritual renewal retreat on the 2,100 acres for a day, or as long as a week.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Conyers, Georgia. Oh, the peace of this lovely place...

Image result for Holy Spirit Monastery Georgia

Later, in October, 1990, a Conyers, Georgia homemaker by the name of Nancy Fowler claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared and instructed her to relay Mary’s message to all citizens of the United States. The directive ranged from admonitions to prayers to warnings of war. The Virgin’s supposed visits made Conyers one of the longest-lived Marian apparition sites in the nation. Roads going to Mrs. Fowler’s home were clogged with pilgrims yearning to hear Mary’s message. Crowds as large at 80,000 were not uncommon and Fowler had to broadcast her messages over loudspeakers. The overflow of people finally expanded from her yard to her next door pasture. There they prayed in their native tongues (English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese), filled bottles with water from the Blessed Well, and they opened a bookstore, they even made and sold their own bumper stickers at the store that read, “Eat, Drink, and See Mary!” Not really. But the bumper stickers did exist.The Georgian Visionary & Her Contact with the Virgin Mary - YouTube

Local government official became wary of the traffic, health, and safety problems and the Archdiocese of Atlanta became concerned that these unconfirmed visions might distract from the true faith. After 1998, pilgrimages to Conyers became less frequent.

 But in 1971, we finished our week chatting with buyers at the mall and handing out brochures of information. It came to a climax when the Governor’s Mansion held a reception for all participants. They feted us to munchies and punch for our week of hard work. We also stood in the receiving line to meet and thank our host and hostess, the Georgia governor and his wife.SAPORTA REPORT: This week guest contributors JENNIFER DICKEY and CATHERINE LEWIS, history professors at Kennesaw State University, discuss the history of the Governor's Mansion and its occupants.

Telling my aunt about our upcoming reception, she mentioned we were related (in the South we call it kin) to Jimmy Carter. While in line, I approached the couple. I shook Rosalyn’s hand first and then when I was in front of the Governor, I said, “My aunt researched our family tree and found out we are cousins.” I moved on to the next person to shake his hand. From my peripheral vision, I saw Jimmy Carter leaning in closer to me and then he planted a big kiss on my cheek and said, “I always kiss my cousins!”President Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Rosalynn Carter first dated Jimmy in 1945 while he was serving at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. On July 7, 1946, they married in Plains, GA.

Telling this story years later in the 1990’s to a classroom full of high school students, I prefaced my story with “I have been kissed by a President.”

Their response? “Who was it? Bill Clinton?”My Life by Bill Clinton - XL Secret Safe Book