PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

The news on the front page of the paper is bad. But it seems like it always is these days. I guess bad news sells better than good.

Sighing, I get out my phone and press the button for Solitaire. The cards scroll out in a tidy row. I put the aces up above. There were two of them in my first placement which leaves two to come.

Buzz ... I get a phone call from my tax accountant. Something she says she forgot to add. “It will cost you,” she warns.

I put the phone down and go back to the cards. Oh good, another ace. And the red nine goes on the black ten.

I don’t remember being such a fan of Solitaire in the past. But my life was busier then. When I was working, I didn’t even open my newspaper until evening.

Now I see the black Ten goes on the red Jack. That leaves a space for a King and one turns right up in the pack. Solitaire is so orderly and somewhat predictable. Wish I could say the same about my life.

The plumber calls to say he’ll be here this afternoon. The bathtub is draining too slowly again. When your pipes are old, it seems like they have one problem after another.

Scowling, I look at my lineup of cards. I missed a black Six on a red Seven and when I make that move, it leaves another space for a King. But I don’t have one.

Maybe I should stop with the cards and knock off some of the items on my to-do list. I have some notes to write and there’s a phone call I should make to someone who I think is lonely. I’m kind of dreading it.

My game of Solitaire has come to an end. No more moves I can make. I press New Game, and the cards splatter out in a tidy row.

As a girl I used to sit cross-legged on the floor and shuffle my worn pack of cards. Too often, one card was missing. It could have been the dog was to blame, or more likely my little brother. Such a drag to get near the end of the game and find out you don’t have the Four of Spades. With the computer that never happens.

Sometimes on family vacations, four or five of us would lay out our Solitaire cards. We’d put all the aces in the middle and see who could get rid of all their cards first. Lots of yelling and arguing, but lots of fun.

Today’s game is single and silent. Par for the course during this pandemic when we are not having parties or gathering in restaurants.

Playing Solitaire is a habit, but not a destructive one like drinking too much or constantly raiding the fridge for ice cream bars. I hear the echo of my grandmother’s voice saying, “The devil makes work for idle hands.” I can’t argue with her because she’s been gone for 60 years.

Sticking my jaw out, I am staring at another game when the phone rings again.

Oh good, it’s a friend who says she has something interesting to tell me. I erase the Solitaire game and settle in for a long chat.

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