…slow as molasses…

That’s how I feel as I set about decorating for the holidays. What use to take me a week and a half, may take me until Christmas morning this year. I kid you not. In the past I’d decorate 7 or 8 trees, 3 big ones and the rest smaller, potted types. All pre-lit, artificial. I’ll be lucky if I get the 3 big ones done. I feel like my get-up-and-go…got up and left.

Even hubby’s taking a nap.

We can’t seem to push ourselves the way we use to when we were in our mid-60’s. Now that we’re in our late 60’s, our energy level is kaput. Takes me a long time to decide how to rearrange the living room to accommodate the giant tree. In fact, I decided…in the midst of moving stuff around…to have the slipcovers on the sofa and club chair dry-cleaned. Thank goodness they’ll be back on Wednesday, all nice and clean…after years and years of accumulated dirt has been laundered away. Not surprisingly I found a partially eaten Dorito chip hiding beneath one of the seat cushions.

Another thing that’s slowing me down is the desire to get rid of some of my furnishings, specifically my vintage things of which there’s a lot. I’m an antiques dealer who loves to collect, in addition to selling, of course. Most of us in the business are passionate collectors. I discovered my passion after moving to Long Island, New York in 1977. I got bitten by the “bug” during the first antiques auction I’d ever attended. I left with a massive oak roll top desk which I recently donated to charity since no one was interested in buying it. Folks didn’t find it too practical in this day and age.

Thing is, the holidays are no time to think about downsizing. It’s a busy enough time without doing major overhauling. And definitely not for a couple of seniors whose adrenalin levels have seen better days.

We normally have three or more groups of friends and family in to celebrate during Christmas and New Year. We’ll be lucky if the house is up and running when our daughter returns home…AFTER Christmas.

What drives me to make Christmas great every year is that my husband and daughter are like wide-eyed children when everything is in place. They absolutely love Christmas and all its trappings. It’s the best present I can give them.

So I’d better get back to work…

…wrapping my christmas gift with love.

………hugmamma.

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…above and beyond…

‘Tis the season to be…the best mom I can possibly be.

If there’s one thing in my life I’m particularly proud of it’s that I’m a good mom. No. I’m a great mom!

Forgive me for tooting my own horn, or as is more appropriate nowadays…taking my own selfie and sharing it with all of you.

But even I have to admit that I might have gone a bit over the top in my latest venture as a great mom.

A few weeks ago my daughter was home for a long weekend. Misty Copeland, the first African-American ballerina recently promoted to the level of principal dancer with NYC’s American Ballet Theatre had asked my daughter to be part of a question-and-answer panel following the Seattle premiere of “A Ballerina’s Tale.” While only a short 3-day stay, my husband and I were thrilled to have our daughter with us. Unfortunately not many attended, but those who did enjoyed a lively discussion about women of color and muscular physique struggling to make a career in the elite world of ballet.

While she was here, I offered to help my daughter shop for Christmas gifts for her fiancé as well as her friends. Knowing how busy she is dancing, teaching and choreographing, I felt I could help relieve some of her stress during the days leading up to Christmas. Besides which we always have such a grand time shopping together. We laugh lots. We commiserate. We eat. We gossip. Our common adrenalin keeps us pumped and going strong. Although when it comes to shopping, I’ve more stamina than my daughter. She’s a wuss by comparison. And she’d be the first to agree.

So after my daughter returned home to her hectic life, I got busy wrapping, boxing and shipping packages. A few packages found their way to Las Vegas, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. These were to close friends of my daughter’s. The bulk, however, were postmarked to my daughter and her fiancé…gifts from her to him…and from us to both of them. There were a couple of items earmarked for the mother-daughter team who own the competition dance studio where my daughter teaches. In all there were exactly 7 boxes, mostly 12/12’s, but a couple 18/18’s. I hate to tell you what the costs were in wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbon, tissue AND airmail postage.

I told my husband…and my daughter…we’d send them on a cruise next year. She and …her husband of 6 months. (They wed next summer.) Of course I was being facetious.

Or was I? Hmmm…

Thankfully her dad weighed in by hauling the boxes to our local post office and paying for the shipping. I wouldn’t have had the energy, nor would I have been able to withstand the unwelcome stares by other customers, or the humorous comments by the postal workers. My husband has the skin of a rhinoceros when it comes to other folks and what they think. He could care less. Me? I’m still in training.

Mind you my daughter never asks for my help in such matters. She’ll always get around to doing what she can, when she can. She doesn’t stress like me that way. There’s just something about her that makes me want to be her mom…always. Helping her however and whenever I can. 

My 6 decades+ old body is telling me…very vehemently…that I cannot keep this up. I cannot burn the midnight oil doing extra work on top of what I already pile on top of myself in my own life, which includes my own antiques business.

Don’t feel overly sorry for me though. I do reward myself with little pleasures now and then…like dining out on Thanksgiving Day. A treat hubby and I will repeat when we partake of another sumptuous buffet at the same restaurant on Christmas Day. No cooking. No cleaning.

…just smiles and happy vibes all around.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

what i did this summer…

Remember those essays we had to write the first day back to school?

How I spent my summer vacation.

I probably wrote that I played with friends and helped my mom around the house. Apart from that I went to an occasional movie with my best friend, gratis her awesome dad who’d pay the price of my admission…a quarter. Yep. A quarter. Back then…the 50’s and early 60’s…we could see a news reel, a cartoon, and a feature film for twenty-five pennies. On Maui, at least. Not sure what mainland theaters were charging.

Our family wasn’t rolling in dough so there were no trips to California, New York, or Europe. Those places weren’t even on my radar. The most I could hope for was a short trip to nearby Honolulu on a propeller plane. That’s if my older sister paid for my round trip ticket, inviting me to visit for the summer.

It shouldn’t be difficult to figure out that my world view was pretty narrow…that of an island girl out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, that all changed when I got married.

My husband’s first job was with Pan American World Airways, so we honeymooned in Tahiti. His second job was with American Express, with whom he got a promotion which moved us to New York. A short couple of years later he joined Norwegian American Cruises…and the rest is travel history.

Our first trip to Europe was in the 80’s. This time it was on me, since I was working with TWA in New York. It included a quick 2-day glimpse of Paris. Years later when our daughter was a teen, I dreamed of returning to that glamorous city with her in tow. I knew she’d never be able to afford it on her dancer’s salary.

This summer my dream trip to Paris came true. Except that my daughter had to work. No whisking her off to Europe. So instead it became…a second honeymoon for hubby and me.

While not the romantic scenario acted out in movies by the likes of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, hubby and I managed just fine for a middle-aged couple. We held hands. We looked lovingly into one another’s eyes. We teased and bantered, sharing intimate jokes at which only the two of us could smile and chuckle.

And yes, there were moments of frustration. When we got on each other’s last nerve.

Like when we went in search of Rodin’s Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb, and instead found ourselves wandering the streets in an isolated industrial neighborhood, while my poor aching feet screamed…”Get off of me! You’re killing me!” And when we had to go in search of the nearest “toilette,” so I could pee for the hundredth time.

Dead tired from scouring every corner of Paris we would fall into bed early. No evening soirees for us. No moonlit boat rides on the Seine . No gazing into each others’ eyes while dining on squab and chocolate souffles. We were content with a simple meal, an I Love Lucy video we’d brought from home, and finally snuggling side by side, snoring contentedly beneath a fluffy, white duvet…the nearby Eiffel Tower keeping watch over all, and lighting the skies above.

Funny what rocks your world when you’re old.

My favorite tour was wandering amidst miles and miles of tombstones at the Pere La Chaise Cemetery.

(Photo courtesy of…ohbythewayblog.blogspot.com)

Morbid? Just the opposite! It was other-worldly. Seeing row upon row of oft-times centuries-old graves. It was as though, those poor, deceased souls were sneaking glimpses of us…as we were having a peek in on them. With my cell phone I snapped photos of such notables’ tombs as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, and Gertrude Stein. Even Jim Morrison of the rock group, The Doors, was interned there. I was especially delighted to see the simple graves of actors Yves Montand and wife Simone Signoret. They had been larger than life on the big screen. Now they lay like common folk beneath the hard earth.

Especially sobering were the graves of those who had suffered under Hitler’s demonic regime. I could still feel their wretched agony, pulsating beneath the stone.

 

(Photo courtesy of…cemetery explorers. blogspot.com)

I could hear my mom lecturing from her grave…”Don’t be taking pictures of the dead. They’ll haunt you. Wait and see.” Dismissing such thoughts, as best I could, I’d remark to myself…and yet loud enough so the dead could hear…”You’re a good person. I’m just honoring you, your memory.” Of course I didn’t wait for a response as I quickened my pace.

One particular tombstone stopped me dead…pardon the pun…in my tracks.

The image of a young man from the Victorian era…captured in bronze, dressed as though he’d been out and about, leather gloves and all…lay full length across his grave. He looked to be 6 feet tall. I kept staring in disbelief at the gorgeous hunk of cast stone. My eyes scoured every inch of him, hesitating where his crotch bulged…the only part not green from oxidation. Curious…

(Photo courtesy of…canvasoflight.com)

I was certain mine weren’t the only eyes bewildered by what lay before me. I’d had to wait my turn while a couple of men gazed down at what seemed a very unexpected and highly unusual tombstone. I admit I was afraid of taking a photo of the dead man’s likeness. Looking at him through the lens, I thought he’d wink…or frown…or sit up and smack me. I admit, I was a tiny bit scared. Calming my fears, I turned to the inscription and quickly snapped a shot.

That night in the comfort of our rented apartment, I looked through the photos I’d taken. I paused at the image of the young man made of bronze. He continued to fascinate me. When I moved on to the snapshot of the inscription, I held my breath. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? How could the inscription be upside down? I was positive I’d not turned my cell phone around to take the picture. That would’ve been awkward. There must have been a good explanation, although neither my husband nor I could come up with one.

I was spooked. I could not look at the picture of the inscription again, without feeling as though a ghostly urchin was having fun at my expense. I almost believed my mom’s scolding that I would pay for disrespecting the dead. Almost. I finally convinced myself that whoever had commissioned the sculpture deliberately requested that the inscription…in French…be written upside down. After all, it seemed in keeping with the provocative tomb. Perhaps it was done so the deceased could read what it said without too much effort on his part. He could just…sit up.

Aaahhh, Paris…all of its sights and smells, large and small, grandiose and humble…captures the essence of European culture. Refined and earthy all at once. Grounded in centuries of history, yet comfortable in its modernity..

I left with a deep respect for people different from me. Folks at ease in their daily lives. In fact, I marveled at how easily Parisians worked and relaxed throughout the day. They don’t seem to subscribe to our American need to work 60-hour weeks, playing only on weekends, if even that. As we toured the city, we saw, and heard, many a Parisian bicycling, and lunching, along the Seine. They sat at nearby cafe tables, sipping wine and conversing as tour buses and motorcycles whizzed by.

Yet I was glad to be home, settling back into our normal life…resuming our normal routines…comforted by our cozy, familiar surroundings.

We’re no different from Dorothy, who preferred Kansas to Oz…

…there really is…no place like home.

………hugmamma.

(Note: I will post my own photos of Paris…as soon as I figure out how to upload them from my cell phone. I couldn’t wait until then to write about it. Something I already know how to do.)

living her best life…#37: wabi sabi

Wabi Sabi. A phrase I’ve now heard 3 times within the last couple of months. A phrase I’d never heard before.

Pat’s husband Brad first mentioned Wabi Sabi just about the time she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. Then Pat’s sister Mary spoke of it again in an email. I’d been meaning to bring it up in a post, but never did. And so…the “third time’s the charm.”

A Blog for Humans at   https://tomrains.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/sehnsucht/  defined Wabi Sabi as “a Japanese philosophy concerning the beauty of imperfection.”

The beauty of imperfection. 

Describes Pat’s life at the moment…at least insofar as how Pat is living her life…in light of her health issues.

Life really is as the Japanese perceive it…Wabi Sabi. 

Beautiful in its imperfection.

Following is an email from Pat updating her “imperfectly beautiful life.”

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

Hi [hugmamma…]

How is Sitka doing? I felt so sad reading your post about him. It was really hard when Lady died. It took a while but I’m finally ready for another dog, but the timing is just not right. And how is the renovation going? Smoothly, I hope! I’m not sure if my text messages from my phone are going through, so wanted to give you another update, as things are starting to move forward…

First things first, though. Had an enjoyable, busy weekend. Saturday was a bridal shower for John’s (my nephew) fiancee, Estee. Then we got together on Sunday at Johnny’s (my brother) because Carol and her family are in town for the week. Any time family’s together is a good time…

I’m still working 3 days a week and will start doing half days on most Thursdays. Basically, I’m running out of sick leave and vacation time! There’s a “shared leave” program at work where co-workers can donate leave. My boss says there’s a lot of interest from people at work who want to donate, so I’ve put in a request and hopefully will get some additional time. I’ve also put in for leave without pay for June – August. I will be able to keep my medical benefits as long as I pay my premiums, so I wanted to make sure to set that up.

We just got a letter from the Mayo Clinic scheduling my first appointment for May 11. Chemo is scheduled to end Wednesday, May 6, so the following Monday we’ll be in Minnesota. The Kaiser transplant coordinator told us Mayo said to plan on staying for 2-3 days. That doesn’t help us much so we are trying to get more details before we make our travel arrangements. I have 2 appointments the first day we’re there which look like a consultation and possibly a bone marrow biopsy. Kaiser has said all along that the Mayo Clinic will most likely want to do their own tests, etc. So there could be additional appointments while we’re there.

Brad and I still have so many questions, as well as a lot of preparation for the trip and beyond. 

Ethan will still be in school. Need to make arrangements for him to stay with Brad’s sister. Aiden is due to return home on May 10, so we’ll be crossing paths in the air. What’s unknown is how soon after this first trip we’ll be returning to the Mayo Clinic for the actual transplant. We’ve learned that they won’t want to wait too long from the time I end my chemotherapy before starting the transplant process. So we’re guessing we’ll fly home only to fly back soon after. Not so easy when traveling from Hawaii!

It’s still a little ways away, but I get anxious if I think about it too much. Just have to take it one day at a time, because…

…life goes on…things needing to be done this week…a meeting with our tax consultant…chemo treatments…

…and things to look forward to…John and Estee’s wedding in a couple of weeks…the annual Easter brunch at our house.

Maybe we can talk on Wednesday or Thursday morning? Chemo on Wednesday is at 1 p.m. 

Anyway, must be going. Trying to gather all our tax papers for tomorrow’s meeting.

Love to you and the family,

…and all my supporters…

…pat…and hugmamma.

 

living her best life…#31

A belated HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! 

Was just reminded I missed sending out hugs to one and all. And yet it’s never too late for…

HUGS…ALL…AROUND!!! February 2011 00053Pat reminded me of my oversight when she emailed the following.

To update you on our Valentine Day’s weekend…

The power surge during the storm killed our TV. So in the afternoon, under sunny skies…you know our Hawaiian weather, bad one minute, glorious the next…we went to Best Buy to get a new one. Stopped by W&M Burger in Kaimuki on the way home. It took me a while but I managed to eat a Royal Burger. Do you remember that place? [Hugmamma here: No, I don’t, but you’re making me “ono” for one…with all the fixins’!]

We watched Maleficent later that night and I loved it! I especially liked the idea that “true love” exists between a child and a parent. I realize Maleficent wasn’t Aurora’s mother…but she acted as though she was because of how she doted on Aurora.

Didn’t do anything special for Valentine’s Day. Just had take out from Zippy’s. Ate something from the fridge instead.

Sunday afternoon friends from our son’s soccer team stopped by with dinner. They visited for a while which was really nice. After they left we heated up the food they brought for us…squash soup…chicken/eggplant stir fry…Chinese style veggies and long rice. All yummy!

That night we packed up a futon and blankets and went to Sandy Beach. 

Sat in the back of Brad’s truck.

I drank hot chocolate; he had coffee.

We looked up at the heavens…and watched the stars.

Lots of shore fishermen were out that night.

After the storm the previous day, Sunday was calm and clear.

On Monday we met Brad’s friends for a picnic and some shore line fishing. 

Brad caught one Oio. That was about it. He gave it to a family fishing a little ways down from where we were.

His friends brought tons of food. The aromas coming from food cooking on the hibachi smelled so good! I made sure to bring something I could eat…including leftover squash soup.

Later when we arrived home…WOW!!!…we found a cooler full of food in our garage. Thanks to Brad’s sister.

Today, Tuesday, I was back at work. Boy! Was my in-tray full!

Didn’t have to cook dinner tonight since we still had a bunch of leftovers.

Checked my blood test results. Everything still looks good. And if I’m reading my numbers right, some of them may have gone up.

Tomorrow is the first day of the second cycle of my chemotherapy treatment.

Oh! And they changed my meds from capsules to tablets which melt more easily in water. No more trying to swallow the gummy, outer coating of the capsules. Yuck! Should be lots quicker to take. Won’t taste better, but at least I won’t be in the bathroom for half-an-hour.

That’s it for now. Until next time…

…love to you, your family…

…and all my well-wishers!

………pat…and hugmamma.

living her best life…#29

Just thought I’d give a little update re Pat’s status from a phone chat we had last week Thursday.

Pat’s a wonderful listener, so I got a lot said.

Not my intention when I made the call.

Of course she asked a lot of questions.

And laughed a lot.

So I figured..Okay. She’s laughing, so I guess she’s feeling fine.

I love it when she laughs.

Her whole face lights up…eyes crinkling at the corners…pearly whites showing from ear to ear.

Pat’s being treated wonderfully by friends and family who feed her and her men.

In addition to a meal of fresh, cooked salmon with a couple of sides, her sister Kathi had brought by homemade chicken noodle soup.

A friend had called asking which of 2 options Pat preferred.

Talk about Chinese take-out.

She chose butternut squash soup and a stir-fried dish.

When speaking of husband Brad, Pat got really animated.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Not that I needed to…get a word in edgewise, that is.

According to his gushing, eternally grateful wife…BRAD IS SMART!!!

I mean really, really smart.

And believe me…I don’t doubt it.

Pat’s lucky to have her hubby in her corner as she beats the c–p out of c—-r!

Brad researches Pat’s diseases to within an inch of their silly existences.

Armed to the nines, he queries the doctors about the medical hooha he doesn’t quite get as a lay person.

Not only that but Brad can actually remember what he’s learned.

Me?

I can regurgitate what I’ve read or heard…to a point.

After that it’s…duh???…memory hiccup.

Then lo and behold.

While we were speaking, Pat’s doorbell rang.

Our Valentine’s Day gift had arrived.

Candy, cards…and MALEFICENT!

We both agreed we’d not been fans of Angelina Jolie since she enticed Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston.

Now…how long ago was that?

Thankfully, Aniston’s garnered well-deserved happiness with fiancee Justin Theroux. 

And the Jolie-Pitts have settled in nicely together with a lovely brood of children, and are to be congratulated for their awesome charitable work.

My daughter turned my husband and me on to Maleficent, starring Jolie with a cameo by daughter Vivian as toddler Aurora.

Haven’t heard how Pat liked the DVD, although she was viewing it when a thunderstorm took out the power in her area.

She text me that she could hardly wait til the electricity returned.

Can’t wait to hear how she liked this very unique remake of…SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Pat did say our brother-in-law Dennis was doing well after the stroke he suffered. 

To look at him, she said, you’d never know anything extraordinary had happened.

So as far as I could tell…

…it was good news all around.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

charitable gifting…a holiday twist

The Food Bank in our community recently held a holiday event for parents unable to provide gifts for their children.

Rather than having donors make the selections for family members, we were invited to bring our unwrapped donations to a specified venue on December 8th and 9th. The Food Bank’s website provided the age categories and a list of possible suggestions of gifts for both boys and girls. Donors were asked to indicate, if possible, what items we were planning to bring. Most likely it was to have an indication of what and how much to expect.

Parents wanting to participate in the shopping spree which occurred on December 10th and 11th, were asked to register online. Again, it was probably to ensure that there would be a sufficient inventory from which they could make their selections.

A friend and I had fun shopping for items to donate. With no child of his own, he relished purchasing a couple of things to make someone else’s child happy. It brought me joy as well knowing that the toys and clothes I bought would bring great pleasure to the parents who would, in turn, give them to their children.

What a wonderful way to give during the holidays. Letting parents shop from among the donated items, allowing them to have the same experience as we who have the means to buy gifts for our own children.

…anonymity for the donor…dignity for the parent who can give…

………hugmamma.

an act of kindness…warms our family’s heart

My hormones were raging today, the downside of hormone replacement therapy treatment…Wiley Protocol in my case.

How do I know? My tear ducts were working overtime today. 

I think it began with An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. No matter how often I see this tear jerker, I always weep in all the same places. 

When Grant returns to his grandmother’s home after she’s died, remembering when he was last there, Kerr at his side. In the background, the haunting melody is playing which starts my tears. And then, of course, when Grant learns Kerr had been in a car accident and was, therefore, unable to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building. That’s when the flood gates burst, and I was a blithering idiot.

After gathering my wits about me, I went about my day.

In the evening I paused intermittently to listen to a couple of the singers on The Voice. When each of the 5 remaining contestants returned to their home towns to thunderous applause, again I choked up. How proud to be recognized by one’s own community, and to represent it on the national stage. How proud, indeed!

Then my daughter phoned. She has a way of making me sentimental mush. No, I didn’t cry…not then.

After filling me in on all she’s been up to since we last talked, she told me a story which had me choking back my tears once again.

An elderly gentleman stopped at a Discount Tire store to have a tire repaired. Upon looking it over, the young salesman informed the customer that, in fact, all of the tires on the old truck needed replacing. The man explained he only had enough money to make repairs, that he was doing it for his daughter. He paid the bill, indicating that she would return the next day to pick up her truck.

When the 17-year-old returned with her boyfriend, the salesman told her what he’d said to her father the day before. Again she reiterated that she had no money to buy new tires. She went on to say she had been accepted into veterinary school which took all the money her family had to spare.

The Discount Tire rep happened to be the Senior Assistant to the store manager. Making an executive decision, he authorized his technicians to replace all the tires with new ones. Noticing what they were doing through one of the store windows, the young woman was understandably upset and asked what they were doing. The young man, a 25-year-old, assured her that his concern was for her safety. He was probably also thinking about the safety of others she might encounter on the road, driving alongside her. She cried as he wished her a happy holiday season, inviting her father to make whatever payments he could…whenever he could…if he was so inclined. 

A Good Samaritan story for which I was not prepared. I cried when my daughter told it, and again when I retold it to my husband. It brought tears to his eyes as well.

The personal blessing for our family? The Good Samaritan is…

…our daughter’s boyfriend.

………hugmamma.

 

thanks!…usher

You read it right.

I’m thanking Usher for bringing together…young and old…black, white and all colors in between…hip and not-so-hip…religious and aetheist…liberal and conservative…and of course, women and men…in celebration of our better angels.

In song and dance, we found common ground to set our differences aside for an evening. Squeezed into seats like those on an airplane, we were shoulder to shoulder with whomever it was that purchased the neighboring seat. We had no say in the matter. Ticket Master played Russian Roulette with our hard-earned cash.

Funny thing. No one turns up his nose at a much sought after ticket. Ask any football fan or tourist at a Broadway show.

When I bought the tickets during the summer I’d no idea what to expect.

Usher was one of my favorite coaches on TV’s The Voice. I admired his sincerity when handling those contestants he’d chosen to join his team. I was also mesmerized by his singing and accompanying dance moves. So I didn’t think twice about seeing him in concert.

Fortunately for me my husband is always game to see and do whatever catches my fancy. Our daughter agrees that it keeps her father youthful. He does too.

Needless to say we were surrounded by hoards of fans, mostly our daughter’s age. Yet no one looked askance at two old fogies looking like they’d mistaken Usher’s concert for some oldie but goodie like Neil Diamond. The man who checked handbags smilingly commented that we were somebody’s parents. We laughed along with him, although I assured him that we weren’t the parents of the couple who filed in ahead of us.

Were my daughter still living with us she would have been my concert companion. Instead, she’ll have to content herself with the video I text her. That is once I figure out how to do it.

As for the concert, the two acts hired to warm up the crowd for an hour or so were fine. I’d not heard of either, although that’s not saying a lot since I’ve no clue who the young folk are listening to these days.

What I do know is that using the colorful, four-letter word preceded by “mother” did not endear me to the second artist. Although I will say he had a splendid voice. The dancers accompanying him were amazing movers. However my husband and I agreed we were glad our daughter doesn’t do…that kind of dancing. A little too suggestive for our taste, what with all the bumping and grinding. Not to mention the skimpy costumes. What were they thinking? Actually it’s pretty obvious they’re not thinking.

Usher did not disappoint. His performance, as well as those of his dancers and musicians, was explosive. So was the production with its lights and smoke and technical wizardry. The staging platforms undulated upward and downward, forward and backward, even reconfiguring before our very eyes. How the female performers kept their footing on stiletto heels…and the male dancers bounced back into standing position from somersaults and floor splits…was mind blowing. It was like watching a three-ring circus. My eyes kept darting back and forth trying to catch every magical twist and turn before it faded from sight.

Nearing the end, the women seated beside me were up on their feet swaying and singing along with Usher. It was beautiful to see the entire arena of devoted fans on their feet joining him in song. Together it was as though the love between artist and fans was enough to change the world outside.

Audience applause brought Usher back for an encore. Before singing he asked for a moment of silence to remember the parents of Michael Brown, the shooting victim in a recent confrontation with a policeman in St. Louis, Missouri. As he sang a song of hope for brotherhood among humankind, tears welled up in my eyes.

Why don’t we invest more of ourselves in the arts where our spirits are allowed to engage with one another, rather than subjecting our better angels to grovel in the dust while our prehistoric instincts to kill or be killed be given full reign? What is our long-held fascination with gladiator-like activities…hunting for sport…or annihilation of those unlike ourselves?

Maybe we wouldn’t have to die in order to see Heaven, if only we would allow Heaven to exist…right here on earth. Something to think about when we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks, Usher. For making my Thanksgiving…

…one for the ages…

………hugmamma.

 

 

giving thanks…for what is…

A recent conversation with a close friend reminded me how impossible sibling dynamics can be. Sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells. Tread lightly or there’ll be a ruckus or, at the very least, hard feelings simmering just below the surface.

Being the youngest of 9, I can only speak from my vantage point. I haven’t a clue as to what the others think. I can only surmise.

My husband’s the oldest of 12 so I can weigh in with my opinion, especially since I know him better than anyone else having been married to the man for more than four decades.

I think parents formulate the framework in which sibling interaction plays out. Great parents…better than average shot at the kids all getting along fairly well. Dysfunctional parenting…more than likely begets…sibling rivalry of some sort.

It’s really hard to see beyond the end of my own nose, so I can’t imagine what my siblings thought of one another, including me. I can only guess from our interactions that they might have felt I was spoiled being the last child. Perhaps I got away with things they didn’t. Perhaps I got a few more material things than they did. I say a few because being poor doesn’t go far no matter how hard we prayed for better days.

As the youngest I was in awe of my elder siblings. Except for the brother right above me in age, I really had no clue as to what the others were like. They were so much older. Besides which most of them were out of the house and living on their own before I was even in middle school. What I knew of them was through hearsay, mostly from my mother.

Growing older one tends to remember the “good old days” growing up as kids with one’s siblings. Not so for me. Aside from a few years with my brother and sister closest to me in age, I remember very little of my two oldest sisters and four oldest brothers.

No surprise then that even now at 65 I can only regard my siblings with distant regard and respect. Loving them is a given. As for liking them, I can only go as far as my memory serves me. And since we’ve lived at some distance from one another the past 37 years, my recollection of our times together are rather murky, to say the least.

What was interesting in talking with my girlfriend is my immediate ability to identify with how she felt when she said “I don’t encourage conversation because I don’t want to be told what to do.” Who can blame her? Now in her 50s, why should she have to do as her elder siblings bid? I’m sure they don’t see it that way. However that’s the problem.

Siblings don’t see things the same way. Each has his or her own “take” on what is happening. And as is usually the case, it’s very difficult to see another sibling’s point of view. I’d even go further to say that the youngest is the least likely to be taken seriously.

Another girlfriend, the youngest of seven, has the guts I will never have. She actually bosses her older siblings around. Her bossiness even extends to her in-laws, all older than her as well. My friend’s take-charge attitude seems to keep the families from getting mired in feuds and ruts. How she can withstand the disdain directed at her from some of them is unfathomable to me. She certainly has a strong back bone for which I have often commended her.

God bless the youngest sibling who can fight back and have no regrets about it. Although my girlfriend does grumble about the situation and her siblings and in-laws…a lot.

Because I rarely, if ever, see or speak with my siblings I have no complaints. I think they’re great with their families, from the little I’ve heard. And I only wish them the best always.

Life doesn’t always pan out the way we’d like, especially with familial relationships. Fretting and regretting doesn’t really serve any purpose. Stressing about what might have been is debilitating.

Being thankful for what is…and what I have…works for me.

I hope your family holiday celebrations are happy gatherings……with hugs all around.

…Happiest of Thanksgivings!!!

………hugmamma.

 

 

happy easter…happy spring…

Because the weather here in the Seattle area is so iffy…rain pouring down on us without any warning…hubby and I decided to forgo Easter Day celebrations in lieu of gardening. Praise God…the sun decided to spend the day.

Celebrating the holiday early, we treated our nephew and his lovely wife to lunch yesterday. Immersed in conversation and enjoying one another’s company, we barely noticed the raindrops pelting ferociously against the windows of the restaurant, as if pleading to to be let inside.

It’s not often my husband and I get to spend time with young folks. Our daughter’s the exception, of course. We’re lucky that she and our nieces and nephews get that we’re fun, sometimes weird…in a good way.

Hubby and I laugh a lot. We cajole one another. We make each other smile. We exchange silly remarks. We even call each other goofy names.

IMG_1709

…young uns ourselves back in the day…as kooky then…as we are now…

I’m pretty sure my husband’s business colleagues would be thoroughly surprised were they to see him bumming around in his “allo, allos,” as we Hawaiians like to say. Translation? “Raggedy clothes.” Not that they’re raggedy, they’re just not his usual corporate duds.

In fact, even his personality undergoes a transformation. He’s not so careful about minding his p’s and q’s around the house. He’s not the reticent, quiet guy he projects at work. It’s more like he goes from being Clark Kent and Superman to being George Burns, the comedienne and straight man to his wife and comic sidekick, Gracie Allen.

I’ve always been a self-proclaimed Lucy…as in “I Love Lucy.”IMG_1493 I probably started squirreling away all those crazy antics of hers, ever since I first laid eyes on that zany redhead back in the 50’s. Add to that a touch of Gracie Allen, and you get an idea of how kooky our household often is. My daughter threatens to follow me around with a camera so she can post a youtube video showing the world the real hugmamma. (Not going to happen. Trust me.)

So it’s nice to be loved by the likes of my rather normal daughter, and young relatives, who go out of their way to humor their elders whenever we’re together. 

Although an unconventional celebration at a small Japanese restaurant the day before, our Easter holiday was indeed happy and blest. 

Aloha and mahalo to Kanoa and Erica for making it so.

And I’m hoping yours was equally joyful as well!

………hugmamma.

 

 

weekly writing challenge: my funny valentine

IMG_4789Mocha delights our family so much. We all agree she’s “our funny valentine.”  We’re certain she doesn’t intend to make us laugh with her comedic antics, but she does.  We never know what to expect from her, although she has her own idiosyncrasies which we find adorable.

For starters, Mocha’s ears have teeny minds of their own. One stands straight up; the other folds in half. It perks up only if Mocha needs both ears to hear something unusual. Otherwise it prefers lying down on the job.

The beagle in Mocha gives her that gleam in her eyes. When she thinks she’s done something wrong, she’ll look up with the whites of her eyes showing slightly under her brown pupils. It’s a sad, worrisome look as if to say “How can you scold me, when I’m so sad-looking?” Or sometimes that same look can seem defiant. It’s as if Mocha is thinking “I’m not so sure about you. Sometimes I think you lie.” Or “I don’t trust you. What are you up to now?”IMG_0762

Our Mocha is camera shy, especially if a flash goes off. She’s gotten use to having her picture taken with a cell phone. However any time I whip out my point and shoot, Mocha runs for cover.

 

Mocha grumbling is like music to our ears. She grumbles when we hug one another without including her. So we have to make sure to give her lots of hugs and attention too. She grumbles when we’re too slow getting our act together to take her outdoors. She grumbles when one of her feline siblings gets in her way. It doesn’t happen with regularity, but when Mocha grumbles we have a good belly laugh.IMG_2005

Barking is Mocha’s neighborhood trademark. She’s gotten better about it as she’s gotten older. However she still lets two-legged and four-legged critters know that they’re taking their lives into their hands and paws when they trespass upon her land. And she makes sure she marks every blade of grass when she’s out surveying her acreage.

 

Ever since she was a puppy, Mocha has kept us on our toes as regards what she will and will not, eat. We’ve tried every kibble and canned food known to man. I jest, of course. But it’s been a trick getting her to where she’s at 12 years later.

Mocha’s taste resembles that of a human, so we feed her dog food that we could eat were a catastrophic event to occur. I’d still probably have to hold my nose, and perhaps even close my eyes.

The temperature of the food has to be just right. So when we nuke leftover food, we have to check on it every half-minute or so. Adding kibble is also a guessing game. Sometimes we mix it into the wet food; sometimes it sits on top. Most times Mocha doesn’t care which it is. Other times, she’ll shove all the kibble to the edge and leave it there. Once-in-awhile, she’ll attempt to bury her food by using her nose to nudge the place mat over the plate. We’ve taken that to mean she’s not hungry at the moment, but it’s off-limits to the cats. And though she may walk away, Mocha’s back grumbling as soon as any of them happen to wander by her dinner.

Recently we learned that our beloved Mocha’s heart has a leaky valve. As a result, there’s fluid buildup. To counteract this, she gets a diuretic twice a day. And upon the recommendation of a cardiologist, she gets a “horse pill” twice a day. It’s not actually for horses, but I swear only a horse could get that sucker down its throat! Mocha needs half a pill two times a day, 12 hours apart. Getting her to take one dose can take up to 12 hours!

Most animals won’t be duped into taking their meds no matter how creative we get. Forget Mary Poppins’ supercalifragilistic mumbo-jumbo. Hiding Mocha’s pill in cheese no longer works, even when she gets an extra chunk. Now I’m crushing the horsey heart pill with my beautiful Portmeiron pestle in its matching mortar bowl. Its probably getting more use than it’s ever seen. An upside in this otherwise laughable predicament.

Where before things were a little touch-and-go with our beloved Mocha, now she seems a fraction of her former self. And that’s enough for our family. We’re not about to give up on our Mocha any time soon. After all…

…mocha’s  still our funny valentine…and we love her…to the moon and back!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_2080

friday fictioneers: seeing is believing…or is it?

Copyright - Adam Ickes

I was 7 when I learned Uncle Noah’s secret.

I’d come down to the dock to be alone. Time to myself during a family reunion that could suffocate.

Uncle Noah and I were loners. Perhaps that’s why he never married.

Although he fathered no children, they were always drawn to my uncle, myself included.

That fateful day I wandered off, hoping to catch some fish about which I could later boast.

Rounding the hedge of giant spruces, I gasped at what my eyes beheld.

Uncle Noah’s boots stood empty.

A sleigh drawn by reindeer was pirating him away.

Ho, ho, ho!!!