stepping outside…

…my comfort zone.

Fred Astaire and a chorus of Fred Astaires per...

Fred Astaire and a chorus of Fred Astaires performing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in Blue Skies (1946) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems in 2013 I’m steppin’ out and…”puttin’ on the ritz.” Since top hat and coat tails won’t ward off the chill, I’m doing it in…wool hat, scarf and mittens.

My mantra for the New Year? “Go big or go home!”

And so yesterday…

I drove 45 minutes to the next town to attend a Level One yoga class!

Yeayyy for me! I’m still patting myself on the back. 

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having pondered the idea of taking yoga for some time now, my body decided it was…now or never. “Shut up…or put up!” It seemed to say.

When I undertake a project, I research it to the nth degree. I never do anything half-way.

There were a couple of in-town sites which were ideally located. However I opted to venture farther from home  for a variety of reasons, not least of which was to learn from someone who would be a nurturing guide. I didn’t want to risk injury hurrying to keep up.

English: Bikram Yoga

English: Bikram Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Classes at one local operation are held in 95-100 degree temperatures. The practice is called “hot yoga.”

I’m positive I would have passed out before drawing my first breath. And the rule is…once the door closes and class begins…everyone stays put. Those who can’t stand the heat are required to sit on the sidelines and watch…the entire time.

Another yoga venue seemed too small…spatially…and politically. “How’s that?” you ask. Yoga political?

I’ve learned over time that politics is part of everyday life. The smaller the community, the harder felt the politics. Negative vibes are difficult to overlook. You either do. Or you don’t…and move on.

The logo of Red Flag Linux

The logo of Red Flag Linux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A third business never responded to an email I sent, even though their website ensured me they would. That stood out like a “red flag” signalling a lack of organization or worse…promises not kept.

My research efforts always include reading reviews. ALWAYS!!! They tell me more than all the flowery words written on websites.

One review indicated the yoga owner/teacher of the business cancelled class, deciding to breakfast with a friend, even after one student showed.

A review for a second, claimed that a promised refund never materialized.

 Unlike the others, Discover Yoga  was exactly as depicted on its website.main studio

The manager/instructor was knowledgeable, patient and helpful. In its understatement, the facility, had a calming effect. No bells and whistles here! Just yoga. It suited me to a tee.

After learning that my first class was free, I got more good news.

I’m still a young chickadee at 63! Were I a couple of years older, I’d get a senior discount on future classes.

There’s always a silver lining. We just have to…

…look for them…

English: This is, in fact, why I quit my yoga ...

English: This is, in fact, why I quit my yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

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what i now know…the divine m…

I came across the following interview with Bette Midler recently.

International edition

International edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s an understatement to say that Midler has evolved. My first memory of her was prancing around a Broadway stage in a mermaid costume. At least I think it was Broadway. And I think the show was called The Divine Miss M. 

Wish I could have seen Midler on stage, camping it up. Instead I caught a part of her act on some TV variety show…maybe The Ed Sullivan Show. I’m not certain.

The last time I saw Midler was in The First Wives Club, with Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn.

Regardless where she plays, on stage, on TV, or in film, Midler is a unique talent. There’s not another like her. The same can be said about the following advice she seems very happy to share.

The Divine Miss M dishes about dreams, destiny and deciding what matters
(AARP The Magazine, October/November-Reported by Bill Newcott)

  • Life is Not Your Personal Express Lane
    You’ve got to figure, “Well, there are 7 billion other people in the world. It doesn’t all have to be about me!” It took me about 66 years to come to this conclusion.
  • Songs Tell Untold Truths
    Twenty-seven people sang Wind Beneath My Wings before I got around to it. A lot of people saw the movie that I sang it in, Beaches, and what they came away with was that song. They turned to their loved ones and said, “You know, you are the wind beneath my wings!” The song expressed how they felt in a way a simple “I love you” would not have.
  • The Big World is Better Than Your Little One
    When you have had your head down doing something–even something you love, love, love–and you finally pick your head up and see the world around you, it’s just so beautiful. It’s just…oh, my God, I’m so glad I lived! That’s when you realize you need balance. I seek that now all the time.
  • You Can’t Always Be “On,” No Matter What People Expect
    For a while it was exhausting, and now I don’t really care.
  • It’s OK to Let Go of a Dream
    That’s exactly it: They’re dreams. A lot of the time they’re fantasies, and you become enslaved to them. Sometimes they’re hormonal. When the hormones fade, then the dream no longer means the same thing. That’s when you need to get yourself a new dream.
  • Beauty Ain’t Pretty
    You should be very careful about who does your manipedi, because you can really screw your toes up. You should stop beating your hair into submission, even if you don’t like it. Everyone should exfoliate, every day, even guys. More than two drinks a day will ruin your skin. And if you don’t have a full-length mirror, you’re going to get fat. Period.

…bette…will always be…divine…

Bette Midler at the 2010 HRC Annual Dinner

Bette Midler at the 2010 HRC Annual Dinner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma. 🙂

hi-kicking grandma…

This woman is 10+ years my senior, but outpaces me…BIG TIME!!! Gotta love Betty with the baton!

Time Marches On, With a Baton, For 79-year-old Betty Lambert- Long-Lived Majorette Is a Minor Celebrity In Harmony, Pa.,; Twirls and Splits
by Clare Ansberry 

   Harmony, Pa.–Majorette Betty Lambert leads the Resurrection Band, twirling batons between her legs and above her head, and stopping several times along the route to perform the splits. The 79-year-old recently gave up cartwheels but still twirls knives, and fire-batons when it isn’t windy.

Ms. Lambert, who threw a baton when she was in high school, then married and had children, took the sport up again in her 40s after seeing a small classified ad in the newspaper looking for people who wanted to start a marching band. The group called itself the Resurrection Band because members resurrected their instruments from attics. Ms. Lambert didn’t play an instrument but offered majorette services. Cartwheels and baton twirling are like riding a bike, she found. “You don’t forget.” Since Ms. Lambert is naturally limber, the splits require only regular stretching and some exercises in the weeks before a performance.

The Resurrection Band performs mainly at parades in western Pennsylvania, the latest being the Fourth of July in Zelienople, although the musicians no longer march but ride on a float. “We’re getting older,” says Marlene Domhoff, a 74-year-old flutist for the band but not the oldest member; that title belongs to an 80-year-old snare drummer.

Ms. Lambert, though, marched the whole route as she has done for 32 years, then came around again on a float, where she was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. It is one of her 41 costumes, which include cats for Halloween parades, a Rudolph for Christmas and a Native American for the Horse Trading Days festival. For that she wears a feather headdress her late husband, Pete, found at a truck stop. Many of the costumes are homemade. Her husband, who died seven years ago, made a Statue of Liberty torch out of a table leg and Tiki lamp. The crown is a plastic milk crate that they heated and bent into shape. After 9/11, she appeared as Miss Liberty eight times in two weeks.

   Most majorettes retire their batons after high school or college, says Bonnie Kupp, who is with Drum Majorettes of America, which holds clinics and competitions around the country for various age groups. The oldest active majorette she knows is a 37-year-old woman from Tennessee who competes internationally. Another national twirling group, the US Twirling Association, says twirling is a great sport for all ages, adding that some retirement communities offer twirling classes. “It’s a great aerobic activity,” says Anna Osborn Dolan, of the twirling association, which has played host to world championships.

Ms. Lambert has never twirled competitively, although she did enter a Classic Beauty USA competition in the 1980s, for women 39 and older, and won a trophy in the talent category for twirling. She prefers performing on her own, too, rather than in a group. “If I make a mistake and go left instead of right, no one knows,” says Ms. Lambert, who improvises her choreography as she marches. “I go with the beat of the music”–which typically consists of patriotic songs, big-band pieces and the “Pennsylvania Polka.”

Her four children grew up watching their mother march. “I thought this would be a phase she would go through,” says her youngest daughter, Kim Marburger, who never twirled but did master the unicycle. Ms. Marburger and her daughters walk along on the sidewalks during parades, carrying water bottles, a variety of batons and tiki fluid to light the fire batons. They help with costume changes. It was so hot Independence Day that the green Statue of Liberty makeup was running down Ms. Lambert’s face.

Ms. Marburger tells her mother to take it easy. “I say, ‘Mom, please keep it to two or three splits.’ ” says Ms. Marburger. Invariably, though, the crowd, four deep along the sidewalk and having seen Ms. Lambert every year for the past three decades, calls for more. Ms. Lambert obliges. This year, she did about nine or 10 splits. People stop her in stores and tell her she looks familiar. “I’m the old lady who does the splits,” she tells them.

Ms. Lambert updates her routine to keep it fresh. Several years ago, she took classes to learn how to throw fire batons and, later, at the age of 76, took up knives. She had only one mishap when the yarn tassel on her boot caught fire. “She’s an inspiration,” said Jennifer Dimit Baldacci of Jen’s Academy of Rhythm & Moves, who said Ms. Lambert attended her classes in 2009 and performed with all her other students in the recital that year. The theme was “TVLand” and Ms. Lambert twirled hoop batons and knives to the “Andy Griffith Show” theme song. “People went crazy,” says Ms. Baldacci. “She stole the show.”

Twirling isn’t easy. It requires good hand-eye coordination, especially with multiple batons, and upper-body strength to propel heavy knife batons, which are often hooked together, high in the air. Ms. Lambert credits her longevity to good nutrition and keeping active.

A beautician and graduate of the Victoria Mannequin Modeling School in Pittsburgh, she continues to cut hair and give permanents to longtime customers of Betty’s Beauty Salon, located in a small building next to her house, and makes house calls to her customers who no longer drive. Her other business, Betty Lambert’s Picnic Shelter, which has a swimming pool and well-kept shelter pavilion, is a favorite for graduation parties and wedding receptions.

Tim Sapienza, who retired after 32 years as chief of the Harmony Volunteer Fire company, was just a boy when he first saw Ms. Lambert, then in high school, twirling for the Harmony Harmonettes in 1949. That band and others, including the Butler Flame, were sponsored by local fire departments, which have since stopped organizing marching bands. “They quit, but Betty is still at it,” says Mr. Sapienza who was particularly impressed to see her perform splits and twirl the baton for one length of the parade and then return as Miss Liberty. “She held that torch up the entire length of the parade,” he said.

Ms. Lambert said she hopes to do it again next summer.

(Wall Street Journal)

…who says old folks…have to…act old?

………hugmamma.

a woman’s crowning glory…first and foremost

Cover of

Cover of Crowning Glory

There are some things for which a woman will never alter her routine, no matter what.

Five weeks into my master bath/bed remodel I’m finally getting use to having construction workers under foot all day. And wouldn’t you know it? They’re almost done. At least I hope so.

Certain appointments have been delayed because of my desire to be on hand for my pets, and for the rare question my contractor might ask. My next dental visit could wait. And my massage therapist hasn’t seen me in months.

But there’s no ignoring the white roots atop my scalp, once they’ve begun the reclamation process. One day I will fling off the trappings of youth and proudly proclaim my senior citizen status. Until then my hairdresser, Zorianna, and I are “dye-hard” best buds. 

Crowning Glory, Love-A-Belle, Precious Gem, St...

Crowning Glory, Love-A-Belle, Precious Gem, Star Catcher (Photo credit: RainMama)

Most women will agree that the way their hair goes…is the way their day goes. It is our crowning glory. Or not. If it’s frizzy or limp, no amount of fussing will make it better. Been there; done that. We’ll even go so far as to apologize for how we look. You know…bad hair day. It takes a concerted effort to not let our unglorious hair ruin a good time.

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the trailer for the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until Zorianna restored my tresses to their fake color, normally a brunette, I was an Asian posing as a Caucasian. “How’s that?” you ask. Our recent spring sunshine helped spread the few streaks of highlighter Zorianna gave me during my last visit.

I told my massage therapist when I saw her recently that we could be related. My hair was almost as blonde as hers.

I’m sure that was a knowing smile my contractor gave me when I reappeared later today. I hadn’t told him where I was going when I left. The 31-year-old was wise not to comment…or even register a look of surprise. Or are men clueless? Maybe he really didn’t notice the change.

The only man whose opinion matters is my husband. And he’s okayed my hair routine. We’ll both be in for a shock…

Pet skunk in kitchen

Pet skunk in kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…when my crowning glory…finally catches up…with the rest of me…

………hugmamma.  😉

daily post challenge #211: one luxury i can’t do without

Let’s just say it’s one luxury my husband can’t do without. He assures me of his undying love…especially in light of our 41 years as an old, married couple. But he doesn’t bat an eyelid when I ask if I shouldn’t forego getting my hair colored every month.

My mom went gray in her mid to late 40s. So it’s no surprise that I followed suit. When it was that my hair began transitioning from youthful, dark brown to middle-age gray and soon, white, remains a mystery. I’m sure I nipped it in the bud…or at the root, as the case may be. Between my home coloring with store bought kits, and eventual trips to the hairdresser, my hair magically transformed itself. Old was new again…well, at least what grew out of my scalp. I’m still working on the rest.

Yesterday while dining at Wild Ginger, an Asian-Fusion restaurant in Bellevue, my daughter and I admired my husband’s head of thick, “salt and pepper” hair. If my hair had done that…I would’ve let Mother Nature have her way with my tresses. But since she saw fit to strip them of color, I opted to fight Her with my own brand of feminine wiles…Zorianna’s custom color! Ha! Take that…is all I have to say to MN!!!

except you know who’s going to win out…when hubby says…”i’m retiring…so i’m pulling the plug…on zorianna!”………hugmamma.

proactive…against alzheimer’s

My friend Sylvia sent me a nice email which, among other things, expressed her concern that perhaps I dwell on the possibility of succumbing to Alzheimer’s more than I should. I’m certain the disease is not in her genes, for I’ve never heard her speak of either parent or any family member having died with it. Sylvia’s a decade older than me, and shows no signs of memory loss. Having done extensive reading about the disease, I know that she’s already got several factors in her favor for NOT developing Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia is a voracious knitter. Challenging herself with difficult patterns probably keeps her mind agile. She is a meticulous housekeeper and gardener. You could dine off her kitchen and dining room floors, and spread out luxuriously on her manicured lawn, while your eyes feast on the abundant clematis flowers that climb the nearby fence. The exercise involved is also good for the brain, not to mention the body. Finally, Sylvia relishes socializing. She and Jim traipse hither and yon to listen to the big band sounds of “Peach Tangerine.” She has belonged to the “Happy Hooker’s” knitting group for 20+ years, inviting the ladies to her home for an annual Christmas luncheon. And she goes above and beyond to help those in need, from family members to elderly neighbors in her retirement community. Sylvia’s got socializing down to a science which is great, because it’s a key ingredient in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Sylvia has taught me invaluable lessons on growing older gracefully…and keeping my mind healthy and happy. From what they’ve written, others have also given me useful information so that I can take a proactive role in slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s or perhaps preventing it altogether. I regularly share this information in the hopes that it might encourage others to take action as well. I don’t do it as a plea for sympathy, or to sound my own horn. I truly feel this disease, like others, can and should be addressed as early as possible. If there’s any cause for which I am fully committed, rather than “burying my head in the sand,” the delay or prevention of Alzheimer’s is the mother lode of all causes for me. I take a stand not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of those I love, and who love me.

Cover of

Cover of Preventing Alzheimer's

Leeza Gibbons, one-time TV personality writes in the “Foreword” for Preventing Alzheimer’s – Ways to Help Prevent, Delay, Detect, and Even Halt Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Memory Loss by William Rodman Shankle, M.S., M.D. and Daniel G. Amen, M.D.:

If you’ve picked up this book, you’re probably scared. Or if not afraid, at least interested in what causes Alzheimer’s disease and learning whether you are at risk.

The reality is that we’re all at risk of having this “terrorist-like thief” randomly break into our brains and begin to rewrite our life stories. As Baby Boomers beginning to face our mortality, Alzheimer’s is the unwelcome stranger that reminds us of our vulnerability.

The good news is that we don’t have to be defenseless.

My grandmother lost her life because of Alzheimer’s disease. We lose a little more of my mom everyday. Before Mom was fully trapped behind the fog, she asked me to promise that I would tell her story and use it to educate and inspire. I am, but doing so often brings more questions than answers. She looked into the face of her mother at my Granny’s funeral knowing what her fate would be. I looked at Mom and wondered…What about my children, and what about me? Am I next in line to have my memories stolen?

When my three children ask me if I will get “it” I tell them–truthfully–that I don’t know.

Thanks to Drs. William Rodman Shankle and Daniel Amen, what I do know is that perhaps I can effectively manage my risk of getting the disease, and you can, too. Whether or not you have a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia in your family, your goal is to keep your brain strong and healthy. …

We all know that the “age wave” is about to crash in our culture and yet we are not at all ready. Even in the wake of President Ronald Reagan‘s death, there is still so much shame and stigma surrounding memory disorders that many families try to compensate and deny until they are bankrupt–financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Alzheimer’s is a disease that depletes and depletes, and it is never satisfied with the diagnosed individual…it wants the entire family.

It’s for this reason I created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. Our family was numb and paralyzed with fear when Mom was diagnosed. It was almost impossible to find the help and support we needed. Answers were scarce. …

Leeza's Place

At Leeza’s Place, our mantra is early diagnosis. We believe in memory screenings to get a baseline reading, against which any decline can be measured. We believe in educating our guests about the latest in alternative treatments to complement traditional approaches. We believe in being proactive against this frightening force. We believe in support for both the recently diagnosed and those who care for them.

That’s why I am so impressed with Drs. Shankle and Amen and their work. They are well-respected scientists whose work is world-renowned, but I also know them as kind, compassionate men who not only focus on how to tackle this disease, but on connecting with families who arrive in their offices with their breath knocked out of them, looking for a miracle. These two doctors will never try to talk anyone out of expecting a good outcome…they have seen it happen too many times. They have been the guiding forces toward success stories that may offer real hope against a dark landscape of despair. …

You are perhaps doing nothing short of changing the course of your future, and possibly someone else’s, by reading this book. Can you think of anything more powerful or important? It’s a popular notion that we must gracefully surrender the things of youth. Yes, we will lose our firm muscles and unlined skin, but memories should be ours for keeps. They are what resonate at the end of a life, sweetened over time.

We must do what we can to bolt the door to our minds so that our treasured recollections of those we love, where we went, and what we felt will be kept forever as a sort of “soul print” of our time here on earth. This book suggests options that might have the potential to lock out Alzheimer’s disease in order to do just that.

This image shows a PiB-PET scan of a patient w...

Image via Wikipedia

Under the heading “What the Brain Needs to Stay Healthy,” Drs. Shankle and Amen write:

Fuel
Just like any other living thing, a brain needs fuel to grow, function, and repair itself. Glucose and oxygen run the engine powered by your brain cells. Glucose is a simple six-carbon sugar. Unlike other cells in your body, your brain cells only know how to use glucose. Anything that impairs glucose delivery to brain cells is life-threatening. Oxygen is required to produce energy; without it your mitochondria will not produce enough energy to keep your brain alive. Because blood delivers glucose and oxygen to your brain, nothing must get in the way of blood flow if the brain is to stay healthy.

Stimulation
Although largely genetically programmed to turn on its functions at the right developmental age, the human brain also depends on proper stimulation to grow and develop throughout childhood and to maintain its functioning into old age. When you stimulate neurons in the right way, you make them more efficient; they function better, and you are more likely to have an active, learning brain throughout your life. …

The best sources of stimulation for the brain are physical exercise, mental exercise, and social bonding.

Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is important for brain health. Moderate exercise improves the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body and helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain, which increases oxygen and glucose delivery. Exercise also reduces damage to neurons from toxic substances from the environment, and it enhances insulin’s ability to prevent high blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Physical exercise also helps protect the short-term memory structures in the temporal lobes (hippocampus and entorhinal cortex) from high-stress conditions, which produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol (20). …The Honolulu Study of Aging found that untreated high blood pressure during midlife (40 to 60 years old) greatly increases the risk for dementia. …This study emphasizes the importance of regular exercise and proper treatment of any medical conditions you may have. …

Mental Exercise
Physical exercise has a global effect on the brain, but mental exercise is equally important. By mental exercise, we mean acquiring new knowledge. It is possible to use your brain without learning anything new, which in the long run is not terribly helpful. For instance, Dr. Joe L. reads mammograms all day long–reads thousands of them a year–and although he is working his brain every day, he is not actually taking in new information. Whenever the brain does something over and over, it learns how to do that particular thing using less and less energy. New learning–such as learning a new medical technique, a new hobby, or new game–helps establish new connections, thus maintaining and improving the function of other less-often-used brain areas. …

Social Interaction
One common source of brain stimulation that is often overlooked is interacting with other people. Social interaction is the fuel the brain needs to develop the ability to negotiate, cooperate, and compromise with others, to know right from wrong, and to know when to respond and when to keep silent. These highly complex human abilities are largely controlled by the tips of the frontal lobes. They start to develop before two years old, such as when the infant starts saying no to the parents. These abilities continue to develop at least until 50 years old, according to studies of brain myelination, and perhaps longer.

Child neglect has been associated with many brain-based developmental difficulties such as personality and learning and behavioral problems. Likewise, adults deprived of the company of others experience a clear negative effect on cognitive abilities, memory, and social skills. In studies on social connectedness in the elderly, it has been shown that people who spend time with others on a regular basis are cognitively sharper. In addition, their emotions are more even. Psychiatrists have seen time and again that people who are isolated commit suicide dramatically more often than those who are active in society. Simple social interaction stimulates particular neuronal circuits. For instance, there is a self-awareness circuit at the very tip of the frontal lobe. If its capacity is diminished, the person can no longer judge her own abilities. Self-awareness is maintained, literally, by being aware of oneself, and that is aided significantly by feedback from other people. If the circuits in the crucial areas of the frontal lobe aren’t being used, they atrophy, and the person’s social skills suffer.

Page 71 of the book carries “The Shankle-Amen Early Dementia Detection Questionnaire.” Listed are 21 short questions to which the answers are either “yes” or “no.” In parentheses are numerical scores. Upon completion, one is asked to total the scores for the “yes” answers.

Interpretation
If the score is 0, 1, or 2, then you have low risk factors for developing ADRD.
If the score is 3, 4, 5 or 6, then you should annually screen (see Appendix A) after age 50.
If the score is greater than 6, then you should annually screen (see appendix A) after age 40.

Following are the questions for which I answered “yes.”

1._(3.5) One family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other cause of dementia

10._(2.1) High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)

Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

As you can see my score is 5.6 indicating that I should test for memory loss, which I will be doing. Coincidentally as I write this post, there’s a Larry King special on TV, “Unthinkable – Alzheimer’s Epidemic.” Among other guests speaking of their experiences with family members who had Alzheimer’s are Leeza Gibbons, Laura Bush, Angie Dickinson, Ron Reagan, and Maria Shriver. Contributing to the piece are the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, as well as doctors, scientists, and other experts in the field. Larry King underwent testing, including an MRI, to see if symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s could be detected. He came away with a clean bill of health as far as they were concerned.

β-amyloid fibrils.

Image via Wikipedia

The message of my post, and Larry King’s TV special, is to recognize and accept the potential for Alzheimer’s. But more importantly, it’s that we should be aggressively proactive in remaining out of its debilitating grasp for as long as we are able. For once its tentacles take hold, there’s no escape…ever.

preferring to be the aggressor…and not the victim…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!)   

volunteering…and cowboys

The following was written on Wednesday, 4/20…

Two Bridges and a Small Stream In a Pacific No...

Image by bterrycompton via Flickr

Have been sitting here for the last couple of hours volunteering as a meet and greet person for Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. By sitting in close proximity to professional writers, I thought perhaps through the process of osmosis I’d gain some knowledge that might prove useful to me, as I try to become one of them. At this point I’m a little doubtful. I can see that the staff writers aren’t about to sit around sharing tidbits of insider information with me. Besides which, the 3 are much younger.

I’m like the “fly on the wall.” I’m here, but I’m not here. Their words flow unencumbered through the wooden bi-fold screen, loud and clear. But with my back toward them, and the screen in-between, I’m naturally excluded from their conversation. But those aren’t the only obstacles to my being part of the group. I’m old enough to be their mothers, or grandmothers!

Public Cowboy

Image via Wikipedia

Our generations enjoy different jokes, music, topics of interest. But as I said before, I’m not here to schmooze. I’m here to “pull my own weight,” which in this case means tackling someone who walks through the front door before they can invade the inner sanctum of the youngsters with whom I work. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I mean they’re in their 20s and I’m in my 60s. Get the picture? They’re up and coming, while I’m on the verge of applying for Medicare. Unless the Republicans pull the rug out from under my feet, that is!

Cowboy W-1

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I’m excellent at meeting and greeting. So far I’ve stopped a couple “dead in their tracks” who were soliciting ads for their magazine, “Best of Issaquah.” After querying them, I handed them over to Kelly, one of my young overseers. Next through the door came a giant, hulking man, with a mile-wide grin planted on his face, bearing huge plastic bags that contained colorful, plastic eggs under both his armpits. Planting myself in front of this oversized, elderly gentleman, I asked how I might help. Not slowed down by me in the least, he proceeded to sweep me along as he continued striding toward the back office. Blah, blah, blah…yada, yada, yada…I heard myself saying. My companions stood up in unison, laughing heartily at my faux pas. It seems the gentleman was the head of the assocation of shopkeepers in the Gilman Village complex. Duh? The youngsters cut me some slack, complimenting me on how seriously I took my job. “Ruff! Ruff! Aren’t I a great guard dog?!?”

Next I tried attacking a lady carrying a large, heavy box. She too was one of “them,” dropping something off that belonged to some author. But the final visitor of the day, was the real deal. Finally, I was confronting a stranger, a complete unknown. But this 77-year-old gentleman was mighty friendly…mighty friendly. He’d come from the Senior Center where he participates in a writing class. Thinking he wanted something a little more advanced, a friend referred him to PNWA.

Basic creditcard / debitcard / smartcard graph...

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Amidst much joking and bantering back-and-forth, the gentleman signed up for an annual, paid membership. Kelly again assisted. He tried to get she or I to loan him a credit card. We laughed. Then when he said he’d pay cash, he asked if I had the cash. I laughed. He soon pulled out a $100 bill which I handed over to the staff. As they poked around for the cash box, which turned up void of funds, I overheard the man speaking on his cellphone. When Kelly left to make change from a neighboring shop, he told me what the call was about.

The Cowboy Millionaire

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It seemed the man and a friend were part-time prospectors. They were set to fly to New Mexico to track down buried treasure, hidden in the 1800’s by outlaws. Evidently they forgot where they had dumped the stuff when they went to retrieve it for the law. Unfortunately, this man’s partner had called cancelling the trip because of wildfires in the area. I was dumbfounded. Could the storytelling get any richer? Yes, it could.

The old codger proceeded to tell me he had other friends who were in the film business, 2 were directors, and one was an actor. I was familiar with some of the movies in which they were involved, but at the moment their titles escape me. In fact one of his director friends encouraged this gentleman to write Western stories, which is what he plans to do. It seems his writing skills have come in handy helping to edit some screenplays. Needless to say I was speechless for most of the conversation. 

So as not to encourage the man to while away the afternoon with me, I nodded and smiled, but spoke very little. He eventually stood up from his chair taking his leave. But before he did he bent over to ask me if I’d run away with him. Well I nearly fell out of my chair, but quickly replied “I don’t think my husband would like that!” To which came the retort “Well, I’ll just have to ask him!” Followed by my laughing response that I’d been married 41 years, and I didn’t think my husband would walk away from his investment. Backing away the man laughingly exclaimed “The poor guy!”

Four Cowboys

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Well if I had been writing a Western, I’d have said this old cowboy blew through the front door of our office overturning everything in his path, like a human tornado, before taking off again for parts, and adventures, unknown. But before leaving, he promised to return…as a volunteer.

Cowboy snake

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you know where i’ll be when that day arrives…out on the open range…hugmamma.

 

spring’s arrived!!!

 

Springtime flowers.

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I think it’s safe to say that the Pacific Northwest is finally beginning to experience spring. The sun’s been out all day; it’s warm. Perhaps it’s time to think of storing away cold-weather clothing…or maybe not. One can never tell here, it could be dry and in the 50s and 60s one day, wet and in the 30s and 40s the next, or even later the same day. But I won’t jinx it. It’s spring!

I’ve been cleaning and refashioning the rooms in my house, preparing for the new season. Now that it’s April, with summer right around the bend, hopefully, I like to keep the decor light and airy, and colorful. Although the primary color palette remains pretty much the same, shades of blues, greens, roses, and mustards. Country colors. “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the girl.” That’s me to a tee! I love cities, and fit right in with city-folk, as long as I know it’s not a permanent arrangement. Being an island girl, I always go back to those small town roots for sustenance and recharging.

When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob Bobbin' ...

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Having redone my daughter’s bedroom so that I now have a small, computer table stationed in front of the window, I’m sitting here typing away on the keyboard. Where I use to roam between my husband’s office, thereby throwing him out without intending to do so, and sitting uncomfortably at the dining room table, I’m now occupying prime real estate. Gazing out at the back yard, I can watch red robins digging in the dirt for insects, squirrels scampering up the big cedar tree trunk making their way nimbly out along the large, drooping branches, and leaves swaying ever so softly as the breezes drift through the boughs of the lilac bush and the low-lying roses. What with all this day-dreaming, I may not get a whole lot written.

Actually, sitting here I’m reminded of all the work that needs to be done in the garden, weeding being my least favorite. I can already feel the arthritis acting up in my lower back. Oh me, oh my…getting old’s no fun when I’m still doing the work I use to do in my 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, but haven’t the same agile body I had back then. No complaints though, at least I’m still moving around, indoors and outdoors. I’ll just be taking my time, that’s all.

I’m just glad the warm weather’s here. I can do anything when I’m not shivering just standing still.

i age less when the sun’s out…that’s for sure…hugmamma.

a role model?…more than

Most of you know of my dear friend Sylvia. From time to time she visits me on the internet, sharing some juicy tidbit sent by her UK network of friends and family. I first wrote of her in my post, “role models, aging gracefully,” dated 8-24-10.

My friend who’s 70ish is admirable not only because she’s such a fashion-plate, which she is, but also because she is laden with health issues that would bring a younger, stronger woman, like me, to my knees. I’m a wuss by comparison. Like an older sister, sometimes a mom, my girlfriend was a smoker for many years, but was finally able to kick the habit. Whether as a result of smoking or having had it beforehand, she continues to suffer with emphysema which is compounded by asthma. Weighing under 100 pounds she’s a lightweight, but she can be as “tough as nails” when debating her opinion. I’ve never tested her, and am not about to try. I’d rather have her in my corner. When a coughing fit overtakes her, she can easily bruise some ribs. As a last resort her doctor prescribes prednisone which eliminates the cough, but leaves my friend with side effects that linger. She has bouts of diverticulitis which has her curled up in great pain. Throughout our 13 years of friendship, she’s been poked, probed, xrayed, cat-scanned, MRI’d more than anyonelse I know. With the help of a physician who’s cared for her, REALLY CARED, my amazing friend always seems “as fit as a fiddle.” I forget her medical history until another episode occurs, and it always does.

I think I dress rather smartly, but when I’m out with my friend and her husband I know she’s outdone me. Not that I mind, for I am simply in awe of  her sense of style, wearing skirts and dresses that I never would, simply because they wouldn’t look as well on me. They’re not my “cup of tea,” but they suit my girlfriend to a tee. And the jewelry, she can wear several gold bangles, rings on several fingers, including on her toes, and of course, earrings. Stunning is the only word to describe her. Whether she’s lounging at home or stepping out, in my estimation, she’s always “dressed to the nines.”

You can continue to read more wonderful things about Sylvia, for there’s definitely more good things to be said about her, by going to the original post mentioned above. I just wanted to give you an inkling of who she is, before you read further. And you’ll want to read further, I guarantee you. Enjoy this little “gem” from Sylvia…

NO CHEATING!!!

I was really surprised to find out who my role was.

DON’T scroll down until you do the SIMPLE math below. It’s crazy how accurate this is!

NO PEEKING!

1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3, then
3) Add 3
4) Then again multiply by 3 (Go get the calculator…). You’ll get a 2 or 3 digit number
5) Add the digits together

Now scroll down…

With the last number, see who YOUR ROLE MODEL is from the following list:

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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1)  Bill Clinton
2)  Oprah Winfrey
3)  Jessica Simpson
4)  Sarah Palin
5)  Laura Bush
6)  Hilary Clinton
7)  Ronald Reagan
8)  Ron De Roma
9)  my friend Sylvia
10) Barbara Walters

 

I know. I know. I just have that effect on people. One day, you too can be like me.

P.S. Stop picking different numbers! I AM YOUR ROLE MODEL! Deal with it!!!

now she’s your role model too…gotta love sylvia…i do…hugmamma.

well worth a visit…

 

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

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Have found a few more blogs of interest, again for different reasons. Wish I could visit the millions of blogs that exist on WordPress, but I think that’s very unlikely. But every so often I peruse the pages, and pause on a blog whose post’s title and first several lines make me curious enough to “click,” and read more. I never gave much thought to how very important those 2 items are to getting read. But with so, so many to choose from, how does one decide? I have no idea, truthfully. My method is just to handpick them one at a time. And these are the ones I’ve recently enjoyed.

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Carloscollazo06 is an avid baseball fan. I mean avid.  He’s a high-schooler who hopes to become a sportswriter. Judging from his blog, I’m sure he’ll succeed. I understood one post, the one about his passion for writing, in spite of his being so young. His observation, not mine. While he hopes to venture beyond scripting posts about baseball, I’m not so sure he’ll be successful there. Scrolling down, I saw entries containing words like the Braves, Joe Madden, the Phillies’ second baseman Luis Castillo, and a reference to fantasy baseball on ESPNDid I get that all right? I also knew this blog and mine were generations apart because there were words I’d never known before, like yerd (yearbook nerds) and  werd (“writing nerd, of course”.) Of course! Who wouldn’t know what a yerd and a werd are? Duh!?!? Me!!! Nonetheless, this young blogger is worth checking out. He did spend time in NYC on a yearbook conference sponsored by Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association. We might be reading his sport’s column in the New York Times one day, so you might want to get started now.

 My Life in Photos – 365 Challenge, a newbie of 2 months is off and running, challenging her readers to post a photo a day in correlation to a given word. Today’s word, for example, is “situated.” Not an easy challenge , as you can see. My brain cells will definitely grow by leaps and bounds, which is more than welcome in my case. How about yours? Someone who has journaled for 25 years, you might want to check out this blogger’s photo-take on life.

Quickly becoming a friend, another blogging buddy, but one with whom I also regularly exchange emails is Figments of a Dutchess. Living a world away from mine in Holland, she shares my sense of fun, love of pets, appreciation of the great outdoors, and a passion for blogging. What we’ve not got in common is the wind blowing like a jet stream through her beautifully coiffed, short, blonde hair, while she sits confidently astride a Harley. Yikes! If I were to do that, my thinning, henna-rinsed hair might come undone…totally. Like gone, goodbye, fare thee well. I don’t think I’d look good in bald.

The Duchess is a great writer of fiction, having whet my appetite with “the second room on the right.” Hopefully, she’ll be launching the full episodic novel very soon. Like my buddy Scriptor Obscura who has been sharing technical tips with me, like “adopting” my internet doggie, Cheddar, Figments of a Dutchess has assisted in attaching the image “of pointed-toes, an umbrella, and raindrops” in the right sidebar of my blog. The amazing thing is that clicking on the image magically brings up the YouTube video of Gene Kelly in his signature dance role, “Singing in the Rain.” Try it!!!

finding friends on the internet…like finding gold…hugmamma.

weekly photo challenge: spring

I’ve been dying to post this picture. Am resolved to try this when the sun, and its companion, heat, take up residence again.

not sure how many hoops i can tackle at once though…hugmamma.

getting back into the “game”

Returned to exercise class at the community center on Wednesday; went again today. While my upper body, including my arms, neck and head acclimated to the strenous movement, my lower extremity went into shock. After all, it’s been 3 months since I’ve dragged body and soul out of bed at 6:45 a.m. to make it there by 8:15. Somehow climbing into bed after midnight doesn’t quite jive with getting up again in 5 hours, especially if I expect my body to rock-and-roll at such an ungodly hour. Having left the work force 25 years ago, this month, early morning risings are ancient history, especially when I’m feeling ancient.

Besides missing the release of endorphins, I missed the camaraderie of my fellow exercisers who, like me, are not in it for vanity. We all figure if we don’t keep moving, we won’t be moving! Exercise keeps the joints limber and the muscles taut. They, in turn, ensure quality of life as long as we’re on God‘s earth. When we retreat to His heaven, well then maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to coast on our good looks. ha, ha.

Postcard:

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Yesterday being St. Patty’s day, Kristina, our instructor decided we’d celebrate the holiday today, with Irish music. Although I’m more inclined to bump and grind to Michael Jacksons‘s beat, I’ll dance to anything, even church music if need be. After finishing our usual aerobics routine, we turned to some fancy Irish footwork, including a touch of Riverdance, and a couple of jigs. You’d think I’d have these routines memorized, since Kristina has had us do them for as long as I’ve been going, which is about 5 years. But, of course, older age and a corresponding decrease in coordination, sabotage my efforts at remembering. No matter. All of us laugh at each other’s failed attempts to get the moves right. In some instances, even Kristina forgets.

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in the ea...

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As a bonus for dragging myself to exercise class, I sometimes join a couple of the ladies for coffee afterwards. Today Kristina, Mary and I gathered at one of our favorite watering holes, Starbuck’s. Conversation is always so varied and, therefore, really interesting. Today was no exception. Discussion flowed from gay relatives, to attending a wedding where the bride’s family are all “gushers,” to biographies of Keith Richards and Meredith Baxter, to husband’s and their peculiarities. Whether sharing like-minded ideas or venting about personal gripes, we ladies are on the “same page.” We’re there for one another, or as my daughter and I are wont to say, “We’ve got each other’s backs.”

An interesting question was raised when we were chatting about Baxter’s recent “outing”  as a lesbian. It was obvious from reading her autobiography that she’d been through 3 heterosexual marriages that failed. I believe she was married to the wrong men. Baxter was the “bread winner” each time, although her husbands dictated their lives, each in his own way. She allowed their abuse, mentally, emotionally and in David Birney‘s case, physically. Faulting her mother’s total lack of involvement in her life from a young age, Baxter leaned towards “invisibility” in her relationships. Only when she finally fell into gay relationships did she feel an equal partner. So I posited the idea to my coffee-drinking buddies, that perhaps Baxter wouldn’t have gone Lesbian, if she’d met a man who treated her more like an equal, than like a doormat. My friends nodded their heads, but didn’t look quite convinced.

No matter if the conversation turns toward more serious topics, my companions and I always find ourselves caught up in fits of laughter, sometimes even hysterics. I guess we middle-aged women tend to laugh at our own jokes. Whatever?!? We have a lot of fun…and the pain of exercising seems a million miles away.

as they say…no pain, no gain…hugmamma.

“laugh or smile,” whichever suits

I don’t know about you, but I need a good laugh right about now. One of my hovering angels seemed to read my mind, and emailed the following. Whether or not you’re in need of a lift, I think you’ll smile at this.

Gentle Thoughts for Today Birds of a feather flock together . . . and then crap on your car.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

He who hesitates is probably right.

Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are  XL.

If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble..

Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together it spells ‘Theirs…’

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way.  I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.  Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

Lord, Keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

   AMEN!

i second that…amen…hugmamma. 

“point, and shoot!”

Had a great “date day” with my hubby. After a 20-25 minute drive to a massage appointment that turned out not to be until next weekend, we headed into Seattle.

Recent events of the last several weeks had me rescheduling appointments. Unfortunately I didn’t make the changes where they counted, on my calendar. Seniors know we have to write everything down. I forgot to do that, so we were surprised when a note on my massage therapist’s door said “Closed. Returning at 1 p.m.” Like a scrabble game, my brain started rearranging my thoughts and came up with “OMG! What date is this?” After being told, by my husband, that it was March 5th, we burst into laughter at my senior moment. “Oh well,” I said, “the ride through the countryside was beautiful. Now we’ll be able to enjoy the urban jungle of the city.” And off we went.

The primary purpose of our trip was to see about getting tickets for the musical, “Billy Elliott.” Online tickets were pricey, and the available seats didn’t look good. As always the “doubting Thomas,” I wanted to stand at the box-office window, ask the person sitting there for the prices, and look at the seating chart. I also wanted to query her as to her thoughts about the location of the seats. Which seats are better, these or those? I prefer the human touch, over the computer “clicks.” Call me old-fashioned, or old-school, or just old. It’s a generational thing, whatever you call it.

Pike Place Market in Seattle

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After finding out that the box-office was only open Mondays through Fridays, we cheerily wandered down the street toward Pike Place Market. My hubby will return and check out the ticket situation. If we see “Billy Elliott,” fine. If not, the movie version of several years ago suffices.

As we wandered down sidewalks overflowing with Saturday shoppers, I decided to capture images with my camera. I was fascinated with shops along the way. At Barney’s New York, I stopped to take photos of words boldly written across their over-sized windows. They spoke of backstage happenings. Of course I was captivated.

My daughter’s often spoken of things that occur behind the scenes at ballet performances. One particular incident involved a fellow, male dancer carrying her from the stage “wings” where she was crouching in pain, backstage to the physical therapist’s station, where the “charley-horse” in her calve muscle could be checked out. This prevented my daughter from dancing in the finale. With the help of female dancers gathered around, her costume was quickly removed, and her understudy was just as quickly shoved into it. And as the saying goes, it was “on with the show.”

The sun’s warmth felt glorious! My husband kept up with me as I wend my way in and out of the crowd, stopping to snap pictures of Macy’s windows with mannequins in funky

outfits, a boutique window with artsy graphics, a “Chocolate” shop I’d never noticed on previous visits.

Everything looks delicious when I don’t have to dodge raindrops. I lingered everywhere, on curbsides, in the cozy courtyard of a small hotel near Pike Place Market, and then, of course, the market itself.

People were everywhere, soaking up the unique sights, smells and sounds of food booths, craft booths, flower booths, produce stalls, fish stalls. My absolute favorite is the vendor who sells fresh-roasted nuts. I never leave without a pound of her cashew nuts. Today, I also purchased a pound of toffee-covered nuts for my husband’s “sweet-sour tooth,” a mixture of peanuts and hazelnuts. These nuts are never a disappointment! And I’m a nut aficionado. I love cashew chicken, goobers, “turtles,” chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, almond rocha, almond joy, and on and on.

Making our way back from where we came, the downtown area, I turned my camera on passersby. People fascinate me, all kinds. I wanted to capture Seattlites, although I’m sure they weren’t all city-dwellers. Nonetheless, when I asked if I could photograph them, I said it was to let readers of my blog see the people of Seattle. All but one responded with smiles and nods of agreement.

I’m sure I startled those on the other side of window fronts, a chef preparing ingredients, a couple of guys eating lunch,  and a Sephora makeup artist doing her thing. Caught up in playing amateur photographer, I approached a mother and daughter, a woman waiting outside a shop with her luggage, sales people in the coolest, new clothing store, “All Saints…,” and a street musician.

I was delighted to buy the street newspaper, “Real Change,” from an amiable homeless man. But another homeless person, an elderly woman, stopped me dead in my tracks. I’d never seen a woman who looked like a school teacher, or a librarian, or an office worker, leaning up against a lamp-post, plastic bags gathered around, dressed in an oversized, yellow, rubber raincoat with a long, green scarf snuggly wrapped about her head, cup in hand, begging. Wanting to “tell” her story, I asked if I could take a picture of her. Eyeglasses cast a shadow, while a small smile softened the blow of her emphatic “no,” in response. As we stood, a guy who looked to be in his late 20s, early 30s, pressed a plastic bag containing a boxed lunch into the woman’s grateful hands. He was on his way, before she fully mouthed her words of thanks. Oblivious to my presence, she hungrily removed the bag’s contents, murmuring how she really needed the food. As I pressed a $5 bill into her free hand, her eyes widened in disbelief. I can only imagine that she felt today was a good day. But as I walked away, I wondered about her tomorrows.

My husband said it best when he declared of me…”You dance to the beat of a different drummer.”

he’s right…i come up with my own “choreography”…hugmamma.