365 photo challenge: outside

where i’d like to be right now……………………………outside…………………………….

enjoying the peace, quiet and warmth…………of croatia………….hugmamma.

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england’s monarchy…still relevant?

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Image by AN HONORABLE GERMAN via Flickr

Thought I’d poll readers of hugmamma’s mind, body and soul as to your opinion about the relevance of the British monarchy going forward? What prompted my curiosity is that Bill Cafferty of CNN just revealed that a poll taken by anti-monarchy supporters showed that only 3% of Brits will be tuned into coverage of the wedding between William and Kate. Forty-six percent said they could care less. While only their countrymen know for sure why the disinterest, I wondered if you’d weigh in on the discussion.

As I indicated in the previous post, “entrepreneurialship..the royal connection,” I’m definitely up for the entertainment factor. Prince meets commoner, falls in love, and makes her his princess. I mean I grew up reading fairy tales, imagining my handsome knight in white armor would carry me off to his princely castle, on his magnificent steed. That romantic notion has been imbedded into my brain cells for more than half-a-century. So for me, being happy for Kate is part of the fibre of who I am.

Sleeping rough

Image by sk8geek via Flickr

On the other hand, the wealth of the monarchy in an economy where the masses over whom they are figurehead rulers, makes me wonder about its morality. Just as I’ve difficulty stomaching the upper echelons of society everywhere, having billions to pad their lifestyles, while the majority of the world lives in poverty, I can’t imagine twenty-something year olds William and Kate continuing the inheritance of wealth when people their age are sleeping rough,” as the prince himself has witnessed.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II X

Image via Wikipedia

But the decision is not mine to make, it belongs in the hands of English citizens…like Sylvia. And I know her opinion in the matter. But what’s yours? Leave a comment and we’ll see what “hugmamma’s” poll reveals. No comments will indicate the topic’s irrelevant.

can’t wait to see…what you think…

…..still relevant?…..hugmamma.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visiting ...

Image via Wikipedia

entepeneurialship…the royal connection

Kate Middleton at the Garter Procession (with ...

Image via Wikipedia

As the “wedding of the century” draws near, media outlets are looking for any angle to draw us into their particular “spin” on the story. Being the romantic that I am, I’m a real sucker for whatever they throw at me. Hey! Seems I’m the only one in my exercise class planning to ditch class tomorrow because I’ll be glued to the TV, beginning at 1 a.m. Pacific Coast Time. I may be old, but I’m not beyond being swept away by Kate Middleton‘s Cinderella fantasy-come-true. I’ll be there to “oohhh” and “aahhh” as she confirms her fairy tale ending to her prince charming, Prince William. I know I won’t be alone. My friend Sylvia, a few years older than me, will likewise be hanging out the “do not distub” sign. AND, she’s inviting a few close friends over tomorrow evening to celebrate the marriage of her future king and queen. 

I liked John Berlau‘s “twist” to the story of Catherine Middleton, future queen of England.

The Entrepreneurs‘ Princess

Much has been made of the fact that Kate Middleton, Prince William’s bride-to-be, is a “commoner.” Her mother and father began their careers working as a flight attendant and flight dispatcher for British Airways, respectively. Yet she has known many of the privileges of aristocracy because her parents built a multimillion-dollar business that supported elite educations for her and her siblings.

Some have wondered if Kate will be a “people’s princess,” in the mold of Prince William’s late mother, Diana. But Kate and her family actually embody a noble, if relatively modern, tradition of their own:  a  tradition of bettering oneself and one’s family, while improving the lot of society. In other words, entrepreneurship.

For centuries in Britain, commercial activities were looked down upon by many in the aristocracy, whose wealth lay in landownership and who would not deign to dabble in trade. This week’s wedding can be seen as the culmination of a long process of elevating the social status of entrepreneurship itself.

Kate Middleton fashion at The Goring HotelThe story of the Middletons’ rise to wealth has been told, but its implications for British culture and public policy have been little explored. When Kate was 5, her mother, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, saw a niche that could be filled to help others in her situation. As described on the website of the family business, PartyPieces.co.uk, “Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces in 1987 after finding it difficult to source fun, simple party products for her children’s parties.”

Like Microsoft and Google, which had their beginnings in residential garages, Party Pieces started out in a shed in the Middletons’ garden. There, mail orders were taken for boxes with preselected party favors to fit a certain theme.

Party Pieces really took off with the advent of the Internet. Today one can go on the website and order plates, cups and napkins with themes ranging from Barbie to the Transformers. If one of the royal duties is to ensure the happiness of subjects, Kate’s family has given her a head start by bringing joy to so many British parents and children.

Happiness through individual initiative is something Kate could encourage once she joins the royal family, by pointing to her family’s entrepreneurial background and championing Britain’s innovative firms, many of which have origins similar to that of Party Pieces. Margaret Thatcher has written that “however pervasive an enterprise culture is, most people are not born entrepreneurs.” But the Middletons, through the story of their success, will serve as a constant reminder of what enterprising men and women can achieve.

Over the three decades that span the lifetimes of Kate and Prince William, the commercial classes have attained newfound respect in British culture. The idea of ordinary people building successful businesses–a concept often called the “American Dream”–is now idealized in British programs such as BBC’s “Dragons’ Den.”

If the royal family were to utilize Kate’s background to help encourage and spread this culture of entrepreneurship, the effects in Britain–and possibly much of the world–could be great. The people of the United Kingdom would be much richer, and not just in material terms. “Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives,” writes American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks.

Indeed, studies show that in both the U.S. and U.K., many blue-and white-collar workers prefer to have the opportunity to advance, even if this means a less equal income distribution. A study of thousands of British employees by Andrew Clark, associate chair of the Paris School of Economics, found that measures of these workers’ happiness actually rose as their demographic group’s average income increased relative to their own.

These findings suggest that as people see members of their peer group gain wealth–even surpassing them–it gives them hope that they can improve their own lot as well. As Mr. Clark put it in his study of British workers, “income inequality…need not be harmful for economic growth” if it also “contains an aspect of opportunity.”

The Middletons symbolize the opportunity that exists in a free-market system for those who take advantage of it. It is worth noting that they founded Party Pieces during the Thatcher era, when the Conservative government focused on lifting barriers to entrepreneurs through lower taxation, less regulation, and privatization. Coincidentally or not, the year Kate’s parents started their business, 1987, was also the year that their longtime employer British Airways was sold off, with shares of stock going to its workers.

Even though Kate’s family has long been in the spotlight due to her relationship with Prince William, recent comments by Carole Middleton show that she still sympathizes with the small business owner. In an interview on the Party Pieces website, she says: “I still work through to the early hours to hit a deadline and never take our success for granted.”

The union of Prince William and Kate has been called a modern royal marriage, and in many ways it is. It will fulfill the traditional function of merging families, but in a new way. When this couple says their “I dos,” the royal family will officially be wed to the dreams and aspitations of millions of entrepreneurs in the U.K. and throughout the world.

Mr. Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. 

(Wall Street Journal, 4/28/11)

365 photo challenge: discontinue

i may discontinue gardening…..and be like the boy in this photo…..

footloose and fancy free!!!…(notice the weeds?)………………………hugmamma.

for letting me “overflow,” huge thanks

It’s been awhile since I’ve reached out to thank faithful readers of hugmamma’s mind, body and soul. Views have surpassed any number I would have imagined possible for me, a 61-year old wannabee writer wanting to give voice to my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Any blogger will tell you, as any author of books would, that readers are an important part of the equation. I take that back, they’re actually an essential element for any blogger or writer’s success. At least that’s my opinion. Others may feel they do just fine in isolation.

In July I’ll have been blogging a year. If I felt my readers were done with listening to what I say, I might decide to take it down a notch and pursue other avenues for my passion. My WordPress experience has been the best by far, having started on Blogger.com with  no comments to the 35 posts I wrote, after which I was on Oprah.com where I felt well received, and where joining community discussions was easily accomplished. But with her transition to OWN TV, Oprah‘s blog became more like a stepchild. Hence my transition to WordPress.com.

I want to thank all those who have subscribed to my blog, whether by email or rss feed or any other avenue with which I’m technologically unfamiliar. Following are those who I know for sure who subscribe.

The WordPress bloggers include:

frizztext  
OneAngryBytch  
easylifestyles  
littlenavyfish  
dogear6  
carloscollazo06  
Redneckprincess  
Marion Driessen  
Beneath The Tin Foil Hat  
HaleyWhitehall  
sagechronicles  
jeanne  
Jackie Paulson Author  
CMSmith  
literaryescape  
My English Thoughts  
hakea  
Steph  
Northwestgimp  
Keith Kamisugi  
mecwrites25  
fussymissy  
 

I congratulate all of these bloggers who are also following their own voices. Family and friends have also subscribed, but where I once knew who you all were, I no longer seem able to identify you as that capacity seems to have been removed from my blog. But you know who you are, and I thank you all for supporting me all this time…from the bottom of my hearts. The same applies to all, and there are many, who have subscribed by rss feed who are not within the WordPress community. I thank you as well, for wanting to stay connected.

I hope I’ve kept you entertained while I’ve satisfied my need to unload all these words which would otherwise have exploded like magma from a volcano.

mahalo for letting me overflow into your lives…and let’s see where life takes us…hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: decline

i decline to be interviewed…..photographed…..or bothered in any way…..shape…..or form…..not now…..not ever……………………………got that?!?

pretty please?…..with cheese on top?…..how about some juicy chicken tidbits?…..awww come on…..just one itty bitty smile?……………..hugmamma.

william and his kate…my wish for

Royal Wedding Will and Kates Story

Image by Pesky Library via Flickr

We are being inundated with coverage of the upcoming royal wedding between the future king of England and his queen, William and Kate. Ever since they announced their engagement to the world, they seem always to be smiling. They seem to wear their happiness well. Perhaps they have already learned what so many married couples take decades to figure out. If they have, then they may not need the advice of relationship expert, Leo Buscaglia. But it never hurts to heap on the well wishes for longevity in what already appears to be a solid friendship, and a grand love affair. Buscaglia writes in his book, Loving Each Other…

We cannot look for joy as we do a lost article of clothing. We make our own happiness. we define it for ourselves and experience it in our unique way. No one can be happy for us nor tell us what should make us happy, though people will always try. The sad fact is that we fall into Madison Avenue traps which convince us that happiness is the right drink, the flashy automobile, the scented deodorant, bursting-with-health cereal or the special snack food. Even the wisest among us are seduced by the exuberant TV ad or the seductive graphic into believing that we, too, can change our lives if we switch to a new mouthwash. We never stop to think that there is nothing in the world which can be given or denied us that will bring us happiness unless we decide it. In fact, the happiest people in the world would probably still be happy if stripped of everything except life.

Kate and Wills

Image by JeanM1 via Flickr

…Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it. Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally. “Make it the object of pursuit,” he added, “and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained.” He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated. In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.

We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable. We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk–an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder. Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely. A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy. When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does. We speak a universal language. We feel closer to one another.

Royal Wedding Flags Go Up On Regents Street, L...

Image by DG Jones via Flickr

…Joy and happiness are simply states of mind. As such they can help us to find creative solutions. When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions.

…”Joy comes into our lives,” Joseph Addison says, “when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Live fully and with abandon. Love totally and without fear. Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream. These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

William and Kate Royal Wedding plates

Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr

and may I add…

long life and…everlasting happiness…to sylvia’s king and queen…william and…his kate…hugmamma.

prescription drugs?…gas?…go to costco

My friend Sylvia is offering some worthwhile advice, especially since she knows all too well the expense of purchasing much needed medications, that may not be covered by Medicare. So I pass it along…since we all need help in the current economy.

Costco – Unbelievable!

       Make sure you read to the end. You will be amazed…
                             Bless their hearts!!!
                       
cid:B6888C60D3A04084BAAF5D86E8A2FE9B@your03667082de

Let’s hear it for Costco! (This is just mind-boggling!)

Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs. The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington , DC offices.

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries. In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America .

Celebrex:100 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

cid:B1EC1FD7742449E1B8FE3476640BA5E2@your03667082de

Claritin:10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

cid:0C0476DF4B804E369CA3E96E1CDA37B8@your03667082de

Keflex:250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

cid:484DB3BE4E9C455BB2EF4A4D09DBD53B@your03667082de

Lipitor:20 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

cid:E45781EEBB7D49DBB3DFD0F8AAEC8558@your03667082de

Norvasc:10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

cid:A608434FF07B4E99889AA675CC96C1FF@your03667082de

Paxil:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

cid:66D478F7ECC64884A12E1B343B66F74B@your03667082de

Prevacid:30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

cid:1B800973177240EDACDD7EDD1A07933B@your03667082de

Prilosec: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

cid:972D4313BD824A90922D62938430EDC4@your03667082de

Prozac:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

cid:977B52FCC73341F9BE0A0A34076EC52F@your03667082de

Tenormin:50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

cid:F0E5D329617F4B74A5D9F7E0B59D00A9@your03667082de

Vasotec:10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

cid:98915A84EA9F435CA53220B6E5E044AC@your03667082de

Xanax:1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

cid:A5301C30500841BB844B7BE7DD22C741@your03667082de

Zestril:20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809%

cid:D63EE131AB5142E28CBE36731807CAC2@your03667082de

Zithromax:600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

cid:5805F7E6CF7C4B959E836B1215D44784@your03667082de

Zocor:40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

cid:A7820BD503EF4CB2829597B49782F15C@your03667082de
Zoloft:
50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

cid:F6317F69271C47428EFE218FEE6EB564@your03667082de

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone should know about this.
It pays to shop around! This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen’s on every corner. On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit , did a story on generic drug prices gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. So often we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills.
The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are saving $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.
cid:9292953F8DC841EDA2CB0143A968D9C9@your03667082de

I went to the Costco site, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices. I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience I had to use the drug Compazine which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients.
cid:D866B02BA57C4F6099D06C4003423964@your03667082de
I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19.89. For 145 of my pain pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at Costco for $28.08.

I would like to mention, that although Costco is a ‘membership’ type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it into your own e-mail, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address.

Sharon L. Davis
Budget Analyst
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6839
Office Ph: 202-482-4458
Office Fax: 202-482-5480
E-mail Address:
http://us.mc839.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=sdavis@doc.gov <http://us.mc839.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=sdavis@doc.gov;
cid:6E54505CC123404DBB621C8A918B0FDD@your03667082de

 the same can be said for Costco’s gas prices…so what are we all waiting for?…hugmamma.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

365 photo challenge: mountain

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington, USA.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s probably taken me the last 24 hours to climb a “mountain.” Not just any mountain, for it felt as though I was scaling Mount Rainier, what with the monumental effort I had to exert to get to the summit. My friend Sylvia, and perhaps other like-minded seniors, will understand how ominous it is to undertake any task that involves technological lingo.

Reading the book and writing its review for my previous post “the daughter’s walk”…spokane to nyc, were easy. Figuring out the remaining components required to publish my post on Blogging For Books and retailer Amazon.com was excruciatingly painful. My back still aches from the stress. But my mind is still doing cartwheels and handstands from the phenomenal exercise it got. I’m positive I grew trillions of new brain cells that are building new networks even as I type.

Through the many hours that I labored to copy and insert images from Blogging For Books to my blog with the corresponding URL links, and then go through a whole other process with Amazon.com, I probably racked up enough miles for a frequent flier’s trip to Europe, or maybe even Australia. But just as journeying to either destination would require a lot of preparation, so too it was necessary for me to jump through hoops to get everything perfect for publication of my review on Blogging For Books and Amazon.com.

Lesson learned? “Free” doesn’t really mean “free.” Getting a free book required not only writing a review, but having the wherewithall to publish it on 2 other sites besides my own. That is certainly a “no brainer” for someone with the wherewithall. But even though I’m a couple of months shy of my blog’s one-year anniversary on WordPress.com, I still don’t know it all…technologically speaking. I know just enough to publish my posts, and include some pictures. Except…

i did just climb…a “mountain”…so take a hike…alzheimer’s…hugmamma. 😉 

(Note: So now that you know the “behind-the-scenes” story, won’t you read my post “the daughter’s walk”…spokane to nyc and click on “rank my review.” My arthritic back thanks you…as do I!)   

“the daughter’s walk”…from spokane to nyc

WordPress site, jeanne’s blog, introduced me to Blogging For Books. In exchange for free books from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group, bloggers are asked to review them when done reading.

The Daughter's Walk: A NovelNot normally a reader of fiction, non-fiction being more my speed, this book caught my attention since it’s based upon the life of a real woman who lived in the Spokane area of Washington State, where I reside. Moreover, she is of Norwegian descent. My husband’s boss hails from Norway, and we’ve traveled to that country, so I had an inkling about its heritage, but wanted to learn more. The most intriguing thing aboutThe Daughter’s Walk,  however, is the walk itself. Mother and daughter trekked from Spokane to New York City to raise money to save the family farm. They had entered a challenge in support of the ladies suffragette movement, which would pay $10,000 to whomever won.

So The Daughter’s Walk  had 3 very persuasive ingredients which drew me in. It occurred in my own backyard, so to speak; it involved a culture with which I wanted to become more familiar; and undertaking the challenge was a phenomenal feat for women. It helped that I had also lived and worked in NYC, because I could visualize the ordeal and felt it an impossibility for 2 lone, female travelers to undertake.

Author Jane Kirkpatrick writes fluidly, so the read was relatively easy. In 385 pages she managed to cover quite a bit of the history of the Estby family, as told from the viewpoint of the heroine, Clara Estby. I must admit I’d not realized that the story was based upon real people and real occurrences. I probably picked up the book, turned to the first page, and started reading. I don’t tend to study the whys and wherefores, unless it’s a book for which I’m passionate to know every single detail, like a favorite person’s biography.

It’s probably just as well that I read Kirkpatrick’s book as pure fiction, because I was simply captivated to see it unfold as an imaginary piece. I was amazed at the details she included such as those with which Clara needed to educate herself to run a furrier business. Growing up in Hawaii, skinning animals for their luxurious pelts is totally foreign to me. Hence my captivation that a young woman would so involve herself.

Clara’s family background also touched a chord in me, since I’m the youngest of 9 who grew up without a father since he died when I was one. You’ll have to read the book yourself to see where she and I might have something in common. Suffice it to say, our childhoods weren’t normal, especially in relating to our siblings. Our moms also had their own burdens which weighed heavily upon those around them. Again I think Clara and I bore a resemblance in that we were extra sensitive to our mothers’ struggles to be independent, without success.

As expected, the walk from Spokane to NYC was not something any woman could undertake without consequences. I felt the author skimmed the surface of that entire experience. I thought mother and daughter would surely encounter so much more in the way of bad things happening, not that they hopped, skipped and jumped across the continent. But I thought they got off relatively unscathed. Except that how their adventure affected the remainder of their lives compensated for what I felt was lacking during the trek across country.

When I realized, at the conclusion of the book, that The Daughter’s Walk was, in fact, a historical recollection of true facts, which were slightly embellished to fill in the blanks, I was very excited. To think that these women really did undertake the walk from one coast to the other, and that Clara Estby’s experiences left her mature beyond her years, quite literally dumbfounded me. I’m not sure the same could be undertaken in our contemporary times, with the same results. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t.

I recommend The Daughter’s Walk for the unique experience it offers in a pleasantly told, conversational narrative. Jane Kirpatrick helps us to see that anything’s possible, with hope and determination.

(Note: Please rank my review by scrolling to the top and clicking on the image in the upper left hand corner. You can help me win an award! Mahalo…hugmamma. 🙂 )

an easter gift to ourselves, feeding the hungry

Spent a couple of hours Saturday evening volunteering once again at the community hall serving dinner to those who wandered in from the street. My husband and I decided to fill in wherever needed, rather than commit to a regular schedule. As with most who offer their time, it’ll probably work out to be once-a-month that I prepare a dish that we bring along for the meal.

While 2 or 3 of the women are there more often because they coordinate the effort, others like us are there now and then. As for the needy, most seem to be regulars who are familiar with the routine. They’re very respectful as they enter the hall. Early by about 15-20 minutes, the men and women mill about, settling into chairs while they wait. If dessert is set out some might help themselves to a little, probably too hungry to wait, while others wander about aimlessly, perhaps too antsy, and hungry, to sit still.

Meatloaf

Image by su-lin via Flickr

The woman-in-charge was delayed, so we waited until she arrived to serve up dinner. We didn’t know where the second pan of meat loaf and a side dish of cauliflower were, or if they’d even been delivered. The coordinator arrived, the food was found warming in the oven, and the meal was ready. Meanwhile, the diners had lined up along one side of the hall, patiently waiting to be invited to step up and be served.

Salad with vinaigrette dressing

Image via Wikipedia

I served the meatloaf, another woman served the risotto dish she’d made, a middle-school boy helped with the tomato/mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette I’d assembled, while his mom served up an ambrosia fruit salad. The diners helped themselves to garlic bread and the dessert of homemade strawberry shortcake.

There were a couple of newcomers that made me reflect. One was a young boy about 15 years old, I think. He looked as though he’d not bathed in a while, his hair disheveled, his face streaked with dirt, his ti-shirt and pants wrinkled and perhaps a little smelly. He arrived late, quietly approached the table, and mumbled that he was starving. My mother’s heart quickly sprang into action, offering him a couple of helpings of meatloaf, huge servings of mashed potatoes and risotto, and several slices of the tomato/mozzarella salad. He also got a spoonful of the cauliflower dish from another volunteer.The boy accepted everything gratefully, as they all do. Of course they may not like everything, but they’re not forced to eat it all. Later I did see the young man very discreetly throw out what remained on his plate, including the tomatoes and cheese. I felt for him as he stood at the  trash bin, seeming unsure as to whether or not he should discard the food given him. I think he did, finally. I’m glad. Just because he’s destitute, doesn’t mean he’s not free to still choose. My husband said he’d encountered the boy as he neared the hall. Standing outside until he could be useful, my husband informed the boy who asked what time it was, that, in fact, a meal was being served for any who desired to partake. My husband was also touched to see such a young person obviously in need of something to eat.

strawberry shortcake

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

Late into the meal, a mother pushing a stroller arrived, accompanied by a younger relative carrying the baby. We had to scrape together what remained of the food, except for the salad of which there was lots left since I’d brought 3 platters. The latecomers seemed happy to be getting whatever they could. They, and the others, are a reminder that there are those who will eat anything, rather than have nothing whatsoever to eat.

As he did the last time we volunteered, my husband got to work scrubbing what serving dishes were emptied of food. Most had been cooked in disposable aluminum foil pans which were tossed, so there was less to clean up than before. As a result we left earlier than others who remained behind chatting. In taking our leave, we agreed that it was another evening well spent at the community hall. It felt especially good since we were celebrating Easter the following day. Feeding the hungry meant we were doing what Christ had done.

What Good Are These For So Many?

Image by andycoan via Flickr

giving to others…what we take for granted…hugmamma.  

365 photo challenge: pupil

my daughter as a pupil of ballet……………………………………………………………….

and as a professional………………. she continues to train……………….as a pupil

and i’m still learning all the intricacies of ballet………………………………………..

as a pupil of art appreciation…………………………………………………hugmamma.

honeymoon alone?…why not?

Absolutely loved this Traveler’s Tale by Jennifer Belle which appeared some time ago in the Wall Street Journal. How many new brides would go for the gusto and forge ahead with her honeymoon plans…alone? I don’t know that I’d have had the courage 40 some odd years ago. But then that was a different time, and I was an island girl. That’s my excuse for everything. Truth be told, I’m just a scaredy cat, always have been, always will be. My daughter’s a little more adventurous, in fact a lot more adventurous. She drives on freeways in any state without white-knuckled fear. Me? I’m still meandering back-roads, even in my hometown of 14 years. Now you know why this young Mrs. had me chuckling…and envious of her unbelievable hutzpah!

My Perfect Honeymoon
(That I Spent Alone)

Children's Valentine in somewhat questionable ...

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My husband and I met at a Valentine’s party, got in an agitating fight the next day and then became inseparable–that is, until our honeymoon.

Walking out the door to go to the airport, my husband went to get his passport from his desk. It was missing. I called our housekeeper but she hadn’t seen it. We searched the apartment. I called the Terrorist Investigation Unit of the FBI to report it stolen by the carpet cleaner. “We can’t go,” my husband said.

But my passport wasn’t missing. I had wedding money and an airplane ticket. So while he stayed home and called his mother to see if she had his birth certificate and made desperate plans to join me as soon as possible, I flew to Venice.

Gondolas in Venice

 

I took a water taxi to my hotel and the driver, a gorgeous man named Davide, insisted I take command of the boat, although I explained that I was from New York and didn’t even know how to drive a car. “I teach you,” he said and sort of slapped my butt and also touched my stomach while shifting gears. He gave me his number on a scrap of paper.

“I’m married,” I said for the first time. “I’m on my honeymoon.” He thought this was very charming and American and pretended to look overboard in the murky brown water for a groom. “Call me,” he said.

Harry's Bar interior. Venice Italy.

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At the Hotel La Fenice et des Artistes, beside the burned-down opera house, I checked into the honeymoon suite. I had cannelloni and bellinis at Harry’s Bar on Calle Vallaresso, and stopped to listen to, of all things, Hava Nagila, played by a band in San Marco. The next day I bought five hand-tooled leather journals from a bookbinder named Ustino and began writing in one of them at Locanda Cipriani, a restaurant in a quince orchard on a tiny island called Torcello. I ordered cannelloni again and wrote, “I’m eating cannelloni all aloni.” I wandered that night over bridges and bought a silk jacket with rats painted on it for $500.

Channel in Burano, Venice, Italy

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The next day I got my period on the island of Burano and found one drugstore among all the lace shops. There was so much lace everywhere, when I opened the new box of Tampax, I was surprised they weren’t lace too. I had dinner that night at Vino Vino on Calle de la Rotonda where you order from three dishes at the counter. It would have been perfect except for the waitress ignoring me during my lemon cake–and oh yeah, I remembered, my husband not being there.

Gondolas in a canal in Venice, Italy

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Waiting for him, I took gondola rides and drank wine with beautiful men. I soaked my feet in the bidet, listening on the phone to my husband complain about how he’d taken Metro-North to the county clerk’s office in White Plains to get his birth certificate. I went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Accademia, lounged on my king-sized bed, got chocolate on my trousseau. “Your honeymoon, she is ruined!” the hotel clerk fretted. But she was perfect.

Honeymooning alone, I discovered what it was to be married. I experienced it more fully, had a chance to get used to it. Without him there to interfere, I could be my most romantic. We were star-crossed; he was struggling to get to me. Every bride should be alone after the stress of a wedding. I felt sorry for anyone with a groom to deal with. “Husband is my favorite word,” I wrote in my hand-bound diary. Believe me–I have never written anything like that since.

Four days after my arrival at Marco Polo airport I went back to pick up my husband. He turned out to be allergic to Venice and couldn’t stop sneezing, so we went on to Rome and then the Amalfi Coast.

Almalfi Coast (10/10/2007)

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When we got home our housekeeper brought me the slim Citibank check box from the desk and opened it proudly to reveal the safe place she’d hidden my husband’s passport. I’d moved that box a hundred times during my search, but hadn’t thought to look inside.

The scrap of paper with Davide’s phone number on it is still on my refrigerator. In case I ever want a second honeymoon.

(Ms. Belle’s novels include “High Maintenance” and “The Seven Year Bitch.” She remains happily married.)

my kind of woman…for sure…hugmamma. 😉

tears…of joy

When my husband recounted a conversation he’d had with our daughter this morning, it brought tears to my eyes and laughter to my lips. I couldn’t stop myself from doing either, so I gave in to both.

To celebrate one of the dancer‘s birthdays, her friends, fellow dancers, staged a scavenger hunt throughout town. My daughter and 2 others came up with the list of clues, shared them with Kelsey’s boyfriend, and passed them along to the other dancers who were involved in the hunt.

An example of a Trader Joe's storefront

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As a ruse, Kelsey and her boyfriend were to spend the evening alone. First he told her he wanted to stop at the coffee shop he manages, and where they first met. When they arrived, one of the dancers happened to be there and in conversation passed along the first of the clues. Kelsey was confused but cooperated, with a little nudge from her boyfriend. Driving to Trader Joe’s they were “surprised” to see Kim, another dancer, who dropped the second clue. At this point, Kelsey, a very savvy girl, caught on to the game, and was raring to continue. Along the way, they encountered my daughter, and on it went.

Much to the chagrin of the dancers and friend Heather who was hosting the party following the hunt, Kelsey was ahead of schedule by half-an-hour. Everyone was texting one another to hurry on over to party-central before the birthday girl arrived. Needless to say, she was enthralled with the entire evening’s fun, and her friends were pleased with themselves for having pulled it off.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

Image via Wikipedia

The evening was bitter-sweet for Kelsey and her friends, for she will not be returning next year. Instead she will be moving to another state to work with a modern dance company. She’s been a great friend of my daughter’s, but I know they’ll keep in touch for dancers are great that way.

The previous evening our daughter had accompanied another dancer friend, Kim, to a symphony concert. Having played the violin for many years, our daughter has never lost her love of it. Continuing to dance to classical music, keeps her relationship with the instrument a perpetual one. She was quite taken with the guest violinist who performed with the symphony.

Following the concert, our daughter drove to another friend’s home where a party was underway. The group had a great time playing a board game, with which I’m not familiar. Their fun lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Like Kelsey, Robert, who hosted the game party, will be leaving the ballet to pursue a modern dance career elsewhere.

It amazes me how these young dancers dedicate themselves to their passion, sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs to live their dream. And when they come to a crossroads, as Kelsey and Robert have, they do what they must to continue their journey in pursuit of that dream. Because of their dedication, work ethic, discipline, and unwavering ability to hope, these dancers will be alright. Wherever their paths may lead, they’ve already accomplished more than some folks twice their age. They’ve figured out how to deal with life and its many pitfalls.

So while I’m sad they must part company with good friends, my daughter in particular, I’m happy for the joy they will spread as they make their way among others.

glad for knowing…and sharing hugs…with kelsey and robert…hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: saving

wishing you the hoppiest of easters…………………………………………..mew…mew

and a whole lot of eating fun…………………………………………………..oink…..oink

while saving the best for last………………………………………………moie, of course

and you thought I meant me!…………………………………………….hugmamma. 😉