The world according to Françoise, with cards

Over this winter, one of my most pleasurable pastimes has been playing cards with my 84-year-old friend, Françoise.  Here she is last month, celebrating her birthday:
Françoise toasts her 84th!

Françoise taught me a card game from her New Brunswick heritage, called Blockage. (I can find neither rules nor references anywhere.)

It's a fast, fairly uncomplicated partner game; what was truly challenging was her instruction: "Here's your cards."

No run-down of rules, just the claim, "It's fun!" from someone who would play, given a soft summer evening, till 3 am. with her brother-in-law.

As a newbie, I got advice. Or should I say,
a hint: "Do you really want to use that card?" After three afternoons, I got good enough to spot her occasional lapses; at that moment my "coach" quit.

Hers was a generation of
competence and no complaint. They canned, they cleaned, they pitched out ne'er do well husbands without a dollar of support. They made sure their children were clean, clothed, hugged– and then, if they had a few spare hours, they might play cards.

Françoise on her long-ago marriage: "I loved him, but he loved lots of other ones."

On her career, managing a popular Montreal pub: "You never argue with someone's politics or what they're drinking."
On an unpopular customer: "He'd head for the loo when the cheque came, wait for his friends to pay. I stood there in front of the Men's and said, 'GO BACK to your table.' "

On fashion today: "Why do women want to wear so much black?"
On surprises: "Justin Timberlake, thought he was a flash in the pan. Very talented actor."

A game of cards is good, retro fun. Not so fast-paced you can't comment on the events of the day or sip a sherry; unplugged and connected, competitive yet friendly.

All you need is a deck of cards, a couple of hours, a plate of cookies–and a friend.

What's your game?


Darla said…
I'll bet you enjoy visiting with Francoise. No two people in my family can get togehter without playing cards. Pinochle if there are enough players. SkipBo or Spite and Malice works with two. I'll play Old Maid and Go Fish with the kiddies. All fun!

AN said…
Lurrve cards! They bring my family together...they're also one of the few pastimes I have in common with my mother in law:)

PS -Thanks again and yet again for your posts on Tahitian pearls. I got a pair of drop/baroque shaped beauties - dark grey-green with peacock overtones that FLOAT over the pearl - just like a drop of oil swirled in water (ghastly simile but the best I can find).
Françoise sounds like a great deal of fun, and I love the story of her standing up to the bar scrounger. I personally hate playing cards; it bores me, despite its many merits as a pastime that costs next to nothing and brings different people together.
La Loca said…
She sounds wonderful--love the photo!

We're gin, uno and mille bornes players chez W.
Anonymous said…
Funny, I was recently recruited (not having played cards since Pinochle days with a high-school boyfriend) to play Whist with friends from the board of our local library. One of our group is a devout Jane Austen fan who wanted to try some games Jane might have played. Her British husband (who, as a kid, was banned from church whist drives for being a baby card shark) accepted the task of teaching us. We take turns hosting, serve wine (as Jane might have, apparently)and tasty snacks, and laugh a LOT. Not taking the game too seriously helps. We simply enjoy each other's company--a great way to pass a Sunday afternoon. Cheers to you and Francoise--she looks like fun!

Duchesse said…
Darla: I don;t know the two-handers you mention so I'm getting out my old "Book of Card Games" to check them out.

AN: Yes, how would people survive rainy cottage days without cards or board games? Your pearls sound incredible! So happy to help. Would you tell us where you found them?

Jane W.: Again, it's back to my Book of Games to learn more. My card repertoire is severely limited (poker, gin, hearts, Françoise's Blockage and the kiddie ones). I was a bridge orphan and told my mother I was "not going to sit at a card table and get fat". Now wish I had learned.

C.: What a great idea, historical cards! If you start reading Jack London you might move into poker :)
william said…
Our family loves to play cards, too, when we are able to be together!

I also wanted to thank you, Duchesse, for telling me about the Eric Bompard sale in January-- I was able to get a beautiful black cardigan that I know I will wear forever.

All best,
rb said…
I am from a card playing family, but I rarely have a chance to play anymore. My parents played tournament bridge. With us kids, they played cribbage, hearts and pinochle. I like three-handed pinochle best.

Sadly, my husband does not like to play cards. Just this weekend, though, I taught my 10 year old daughter to play Crazy Eights, and she seems to be hooked. Here's hoping!
Tiffany said…
Ah, my brother and I were raised on games, but my spouse was not (all tv in his house; we didn't have one). When my brother comes over we play cards and board games. I love cribbage; my brother's game is Poker. The kids like poker (played with matches), gin rummy, crazy eights ...
Duchesse said…
Francie: Thank you for telling me, Very encouraging, as blogging is a lot of work and I'm wondering if it does any good.

rb: Crazy Eights is the gateway game!

Tiffany: It's good fun to play w/ kids and adults. We played poker for pennies (and have now advanced to quarters) otherwise the kids bet like maniacs.
Susan said…
She sounds like an absolutely delightful friend. I don't play card very often, but my 88 year old mother is a crack card player. I can't remember all the games she plays, but I know they include Skipbo and Mexican Train. She also enjoys games of dominoes, like 42.
Duchesse said…
Susan: This post has unleashed a torrent of games I've never heard of!

The generation above ours was skilled in having a good time-with genuine social connection-without depending on a screen.
AN said…
Duchesse - I live in Singapore and chanced upon a jewellery shop that does a lot of pearls - they also do coral, turquoise and loads of semi precious gemstones. Quite a find as most places here are very diamond-focused (and are staffed by salesmen who know zilch about what they are selling anyway!)

Well, I went in to buy a turquoise torsade and walked out with these pearls + a salmon/blush (untreated) coral triple strand necklace! Good way to spend a bonus:) My pearls are about 10-11m (or close to this size)and I love the teardrop shape (my favourite shape for earrings). The overtones are stunning! And thanks to you, I didn;t waste $$ at the fancy stores. They probably wouldn't have had this kind of stuff anyway - they stick to massive round white/golden/dark grey chokers/studs.

oops - that was a rather long post!
Rubiatonta said…
My great-gran taught my sister and me to play Spite and Malice, and we loved spending an afternoon over cards with her.

Friends have repeatedly tried to teach me to play Cribbage, but it's always too long between lessons, and it hasn't stuck yet.

Dominoes is my game -- and I've converted most of the rest of La Familia Rubi, too. It's a good game to play in a mixed group of kids and adults.
Kristine said…
Françoise is delightful! I particularly mirror her sentiments on the wearing of black.
Duchesse said…
AN: I've found the well-known stores good for looking, but less- conventional pearls are more often found in the kind of store you describe, often a family who knows and loves pearls, rather than the ones riding on status reputation. Thanks for the story and long replies are both read and appreciated.

Rubi: A special memory of a great-grandmother, lucky.

Kristine: Yes, I understand that some women feel that way :)
Susan B said…
Françoise sounds like a lot of fun!

I learned to play cribbage when in Costa Rica in the early 1980's. I remember really enjoying it (and I usually don't enjoy card or most board games) but since then haven't known anyone else who plays so have forgotten. I'd love to brush up!
Shelley said…
I loved playing spades and hearts with my Grandparents. Later, a friend of my first husband who loved to cook and entertain insisted I learn bridge. Sadly they moved away before I became competent. Bill doesn't like cards, but I think a good card game is a brilliant way to spend an evening.

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