nurturing thursdays: mother’s day…every day

A gift from my daughter arrived via email this morning.  I pass  it along to all of you who continue to be as totally in love with your children…

…as I am with mine.

………hugmamma.

Letter to Santa Claus

I know this is a month early. However, it touched me instantly. I hope it does you as well…and ushers in a holiday filled with peace among all mankind…believers and those who believe differently.

………hugmamma.

Maxim Sense

santa_gifSanta Claus is very much alive, and to think this way out from a Muslim’s perspective, is doubly amazing, I think. I can’t speak for the Christians and those who likewise celebrate Christmas with Santa as the other prominent figure in addition to the Nativity. But for our Christian neighbors here I have not seen any difficulty in the way they hold  the religious Christmas from the fantasy and celebrate them both, and in doing so they both give and receive.

I have my own bias for this post which was originally posted in my blog last year at about the same time as now.  Just as Santa Claus seems to be seen as more of an immortal being now, or at least in the eyes of the innocent children, so is his memory and the way we fantasize him still, bring a lot of wonderful experience every Christmas. I…

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weekly photo challenge: create

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Furnishing dollhouses was a hobby my daughter and I shared as she was growing up. The first dollhouse was a gift for her which my husband assembled from a kit. We painstakingly finished it off with paint, wallpaper, roofing tiles, and electricity. We were quite pleased with the finished product, as was our daughter who squealed with delight upon seeing it Christmas morning.

The following year my husband’s aunt and uncle visited from California, bringing with them a surprise for our daughter. Driving their trusty trailer the 3,000 miles to our home in Redding, Conncecticut, they eagerly presented her with a dollhouse that uncle had built with pride. He’d built dollhouses for 3 granddaughters as well.

To our great surprise uncle had built the exact same dollhouse that we’d presented to my daughter! There was a slight difference, one that made his more convenient for 360 degree viewing. Attached to its underside was a turntable. This dollhouse could be placed anywhere, unlike the first which had to be situated so that the front of the house and the inside could be seen at the same time. Displaying it took some creativity on my part when trying to incorporate it into our home furnishings. A dilemma not easily solved in a 100-year-old, 1500 square foot, Victorian farmhouse. But I managed.

Now there were 2 dollhouses to display and furnish. Over time, the one built by uncle  was furnished with pieces selected by my daughter. She lovingly arranged each as she imagined a house should look…lived in. Miniature food was left out on the table, pumpkin carvings on newsprint on the floor, magazines and games strewn about.

The one my husband had built became a haven for the vintage finds I favored. I was delighted to have another outlet for my insatiable passion for antiques…of any size. Normal size or miniatures, originals or replicas, none of that mattered. The “look” is what I obsessed about. This dollhouse began to resemble the feel of our house…only in miniature.

What fun my daughter and I had creating comfortable dwellings for imaginary people. And she and friends spent countless hours playing house like the wee folk…thanks to 2 creative geniuses…

…her father…and great uncle…

………hugmamma.   🙂

64 years later…???

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t there when he was pulled from his warm, inner sanctum screaming at the top of his newborn lungs. And for obvious reasons. I was probably just a thought away from conception myself. Funny, how 2 infants, complete strangers at birth, are  inseparable soulmates 42 years after tying the knot. From umbilical cords to marital ties, a quantum leap…taken…one step at a time.

Faced with the conundrum of celebrating yet another birthday, I happened to mention it to my hairdresser Zorianna. We’re best buds, having my “crowning glory,” my hair, in common.

“I’ve no clue what to do for my husband’s birthday. After 42 years, what can I give him that he’ll really like. Men aren’t really into chachkas like we are.”

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To which Zorianna brilliantly responded, “You should take him to the iPic Theatre in Redmond Town Center!” Thanks to her, hubby and I had a fantastic date night on his birthday.

Prior to the movie, we snacked on seared ahi tuna atop won ton chips. While I sipped on a delicate blackberry mojito, the birthday boy guzzled a tall glass of a real man’s beverage…beer. A half-an-hour later we made our way to our plush, reclining seats. Yep! You read right. We were going to lie down in public to watch Men in Black III in 3-D! And like the Greeks and Romans before us, we were going to be further wined and dined…lying astride our couches…underlings running back and forth to do our bidding. Well, not quite…

Eating our Angus sliders and truffle french-fries in the dark was a trick. Trying not to dribble ketchup down our fronts was impossible for my husband. He remarked a couple of times “I shouldn’t have worn this shirt.” It was comfy…but white.

Struggling to add cream and sugar to my coffee in the dark without spilling it on my lap was a juggling act I thought I’d lose. You see the cup’s cover was not giving up its grip without a struggle. Me and the plastic cover battling it out in the dark, while Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were duking it out with gross-looking aliens on the big screen. I could appreciate what they were going through.

An hour into the film, I think hubby and I both nodded off. I don’t think we snored. At least I hope not. Thankfully, I’d selected 2 seats with aisles on either side which put some distance between us and our neighbors.

Not being a fan of the Men in Black films myself, I thought this, its third, was pretty good. The story line was a little sentimental, to my liking. The action was fun, without being loaded down with a lot of blood and gore. What there was of it was more corn than protein. Albeit at times it was both…corny and cheesy. 

We decided, hubby and I, that as a destination iPic is a once-in-awhile luxury. Twenty-two dollars a pop for each member is fine in small doses, as is the decadence of dining on gourmet food while covered with a light blanket. Comfy, cozy…but more preferable…

…in the comfort of our home…and on my wonderful…memory foam mattress…aaahhh…

………hugmamma.  😉     

New luxurious movie theater coming to Redmondof course…we didn’t have to recline…but hey, when in rome…  😉

swedish hospital…a 5-star resort?

Hubby and I had a date Saturday…touring the brand, spanking new Swedish Hospital in the Issaquah Highlands. We thought we’d make a quick stop, check it out, and be on our way to our real destination…Molbak’s Nursery, gift shop and cafe in Woodinville. Well, we never made it to see the flowers, plants and knick-knacks, or lunch among the lush foliage. Instead we wandered around the new hospital with thousands of other curious tourists to what seemed like a resort, not a place where the sick and maimed go to be cured and put back together again. I’m sure I wandered around, my mouth agape the whole time. We were all like children in a new candy shop, sampling everything with our eyes. I wasn’t the only one who was bug-eyed either.

Walking through glass doors which parted without hesitation, I immediately saw a Starbuck’s to my right…already with a line of people. No small wonder there. Tucked in the corner between the cafe and the front door was the restaurant. Visiting it later, I saw that it was on the caliber of any good dining destination in the community at large. Viewing the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest through the surrounding glass walls would also be a treat…a very calming one for sure.

Wandering further inside through what felt like a grand foyer, a reception desk sat to the left, and next to it a staircase leading to the second floor. Straight ahead was the bank of elevators, and to the right, past Starbuck’s was a gift shop. Rather, I should say, a mall of shops. After touring the floors above, I spent some time wandering in and out of the several stores. This is probably when I most felt like I was not in a hospital.

What appeared to be the main gift shop was lit up with a beautifully handrafted chandelier made by a local artist. Directly beneath was a table also crafted by another homegrown talent. In fact, most of the items in the shop were made here in the Pacific Northwest according to the shop’s lovely manager. She spent a few moments of her time talking with me, smiling all the while. A definite asset to what could be an intimidating environment for some. After all, this was still a hospital.

Walking through an oversized open doorway into the next shop, I delighted in seeing all manner of gifts for newborns and toddlers. Some items I’d never seen elsewhere. Across the way was another, very large, retailer selling exercise clothes, lingerie, and if I’m not mistaken, some maternity items for expectant mothers. One fun gift for you or someone else was a “snap” watch for around $16. The salesclerk kindly showed me how it operated. She stretched out the watchband, snapped it across her wrist, and “voile!” the watchband wrapped itself securely in place. What don’t people invent these days?!?

Down the hallway, next door to the shop with baby gifts, was a small studio for yoga classes. The nice volunteer offered information on how I could sign up for classes. Of course, it involved the internet. What doesn’t these days? Evidently I can check out the schedule for times and styles of yoga on the Swedish Hospital website. I might have to do that. I’ve always wanted to take a yoga class on a regular basis. Good for the body…and mind.

There were doctors, nurses, and technicians milling about to answer any questions. It was amazing to see so many of the staff smiling and relaxed. I’ve usually only seen them hurrying off to tend to patients. And I mean hurrying! Hopefully they’ll continue to smile once they get back to business as usual. I like smiling medical staff. They calm my nerves. Wouldn’t they make you feel more comfortable? They would me.

In October I’ll be having a colonoscopy and endoscopy done by Dr. David Patterson, Medical Director of Gastroenterology at Swedish. I met up with him again at the open house, after having talked with him a month or so ago at our initial consultation. Originally from New Zealand, he retains very little of his accent. Having lived here in the States for 35 years, I can understand why. Dr. Patterson’s ready smile and easy “bedside” manner goes far in steadying my nerves for the impending procedures. Knowing he sees many people in the course of his practice, and having met me only once, I was amazed that he could recall who I was as throngs of people were milling all around us. The key to unlocking his memory about me was that my daughter was a ballerina. We’d discussed it at our first meeting when he asked if I had children. Of course, ask a mom about her offspring…and you’ve got a friend for life. Well, let’s see what I think after the doc goes to work on me in the Fall. I’ll let you know then…

Meanwhile I’ve only good things to say about the new Swedish Hospital and their staff. They’ve served me well for more than a decade, the doctors and nurses, that is. Oh, and the ER team at the old facility. Between my husband and me, we’ve seen them a few times over the years, for various and sundry minor crises, which seemed somewhat major at the time…episodes of asthma, pains mimicking a heart attack. You know, the usual.

The new Emergency Room check-in looked like that in any 5-star hotel. But that’s as far as we went. I’m hoping we won’t have to see the rest of the ER anytime soon. Unfortunately we didn’t do any of the tours offered. The one to see the surgical facility had a line of people the length of the hallway. Since hubby and I were on a “date,” and we’d already spent a couple of hours sightseeing, we decided we’d seen enough to convince us that the hospital was pretty much just what the hype was all about.

it’s what the doctor ordered…and it’s just fine by me…hugmamma.

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christmas 2011???

Not quite! More like Christmas 2010 is still liking our “digs,” and has decided to stay put a little longer. Truth be told, it’s not like the holiday decor has had a choice. It’s more that I’ve been slow to pack it away. So here come the excuses.

You know I was ill for awhile. I’m better now. Thank you very much. But as a result we weren’t able to entertain friends who wanted to see our decorations. Now that it’s February I think most of them will have to wait until it really is Christmas 2011, except for my good friend Cindy. She’ll be over Friday for lunch. She so enjoys how I intermix antiques, collectibles and holiday items to create a vintage wonderland. Another reason for her visit is to peruse my Venice travel guides. She’s hoping her family will make the trip there sometime this year.

Speaking of Christmas past, and being ill, my husband and daughter were fabulous to prepare the entire holiday meal, from appetizers to dessert. As one who is totally anal about details, I resisted at first. But while the brain might have been up for the challenge, my body dug in its heels and said “No way! Uh, uh. Can’t do it.” So I sat back, more like laid on the sofa, and let husband and daughter “have at it,” as the Brits like to say. Well, they knocked my gourmet socks off…way off! I had chosen the recipes, but they came up with masterpieces. I decided on the spot, that I wasn’t the only cook allowed in my kitchen. Someday I might even relinquish my chef’s hat altogether. Now when’s my hubby retiring? Hmmm…I’ll gain a cook, a gardener, maybe even a housecleaner…

Since this post is a Christmas hodgepodge of sorts, I wanted to include photos of nearby homes which exploded with holiday spirit. Our family’s favorite is the window that displays the fish-net stockinged, woman’s leg, lamp and shade, from the 60s “The Christmas Story.” Until recently it was only a favorite of my husband’s. In years past I’d grimace whenever he spoke of watching it replayed on TV. This year, however, my daughter and me purchased the DVD as a present for him. I MUST be getting older, and mellower, because I did find the movie endearing. It reminded me of the good days. Old folks are always a sucker for reminiscing about the past. I’m no different it seems.

So now you know my Christmas secrets. We’re still celebrating the holidays. Yes, I still light all 5 trees. However, I refrain from flipping the switch on the outdoor lights. The neighbors might think we’re loony. I didn’t cook the annual holiday meal. And I’ve been won over by a movie I use to think was so corny. But you know what? Extending the season just means we continue to have lots of “good will toward men,” and God knows we on earth could use several mountains worth, especially now.

ho, ho, ho…and a merry christmas to all…and to all a good night…hugmamma. (good morning, actually, since it’s 10:19 a.m. where i am.)

still loving it!

Six months and 7,556 views later, I’m still loving writing! So thanks, to all of you for continuing to read what’s on my mind. And remember, you’re always welcome to share what’s on yours.

If you’ll notice in the upper right corner of my blog, I’ve inscribed a new saying, one I’ve borrowed from a mug I received at Christmas. Truth be told, I bought it for myself because I loved the saying. The mug shows a small picture of cartoon character Lucy, with snoopy sitting beside her. So it’s assumed that the saying is hers, which is in keeping with her character, and perhaps with mine as I’ve grown older, and yes, wiser.

So let me reiterate, “you’re more than welcome to share your thoughts,” for

If everybody agreed with me, they’d be right.

a chuckle now and then is good for the soul, and the waistline…hugmamma.

holiday cookies, father-daughter tradition

Ever since she was little, my daughter and husband have baked holiday cookies. I think it had been a tradition between he and his mom. She told me that as a child he loved to bake. So it was my husband’s idea to carry on the tradition with our daughter. He even chose the recipe.  While not difficult, the process is tedious. I’m very happy to leave this holiday chore entirely in their capable hands.

We have always shared the cookies with family and close friends. That’s how special they are. In elementary school, our daughter’s classmates looked forward to platters of the homemade treats not only at Christmastime, but also at Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving. They were disappointed on the rare occasion when there were no cookies, because of our busy schedule. Even now, our daughter’s friends are delighted when they are treated to a platter of cookies during Nutcracker rehearsals.

Shortly after Christmas, a year or so ago a nephew deployed to the Middle East on the aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. My husband baked a special batch of these signature cookies as a parting gift. Our nephew would have enough to share with crew mates, and still have a hidden stash for himself. I wrapped each of the 50 cookies in bubble wrap so that there would be no breakage, or at least it would be kept to a minimum. Needless to say they were enjoyed, right down to the last morsel.

If memory serves me, the idea for these cookies may have come from me. The first Christmas my husband managed the Garden City, Long Island American Express Travel office, I made them for his staff. I used cookie cutters in the characters of the “Peanuts” comic strip, Charley Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy. They were as charming as they were delicious. But they were also a lot of work. I’m sure that’s why I kept my distance, and let my husband and daughter do their thing.

Some who have tasted these sweet morsels have remarked that my husband should start a business. Not one for entrepeneurial endeavors, my husband has declined the challenge, preferring to remain at his corporate day job. Thank you very much. I agree he’d never be able to charge enough for the labor that’s involved. And there are already competitors who do a very good job. Laboring for loved ones is reward enough for my husband, and even more, he relishes the time  he spends with his daughter.

So from our family to yours, here’s a gift to share at Christmas, or any time you and loved ones gather.

I LOVE SHORTBREAD

About 16 cookies

Ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, salt, confectioner’s sugar

Utensils: medium bowl, dry measuring cups, long-handled spoon, rolling pin, cookie cutters, cookie sheet, potholders, spatula, wire cooling rack

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together in medium bowl, 3/4 cups butter, softened, and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir in 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour and a dash of salt. Mixture will be dry and crumbly. Pinch mixture together with clean hands until it all sticks together. Shape dough into a ball. Sprinkle a clean surface (such as a kitchen counter or breadboard) with flour. Place dough on surface. Roll or pat out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough with cookie cutter. Place cutouts about 1/2 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes or until very light golden brown on the edges. Take the cookies off the cookie sheet right away with spatula. Cool shortbread on wire rack.

Mix powdered sugar with water, or milk, to paste consistency. Frost cookies as desired.

from our home to yours, hugs…hugmamma.

hawaiian goodies

I share this with you because I can no longer partake of these scrumptious delicacies as I would like to do. Doctors orders. Having high cholesterol, and a genetic disposition for diabetes and arthritis (both aggravated by too much sugar intake), I haven’t enjoyed these baked goodies in quite some time. While I would love to have them on hand just for a nibble every so often, one bite into this sumptuous, buttery snack and I’m hooked until every wrapped piece is “pau.” That’s Hawaiian for “gone, kaput, finished.”

So, you dear reader, are in luck, or bad luck, depending upon your perspective. If you decide to open this “Pandora’s Box” don’t fault me for the consequences. I pass this along because I can’t keep it to myself. That’s how great I think these yummy delights are, and you know how fussy I am about details by now. By the way, don’t succumb to “knock-offs.” Someone generously gave us look-a-likes once, and I could tell they weren’t the real thing. So buyer, beware! Remember my mantra “If you don’t enjoy eating something, don’t waste the calories!” I guess I should add that if you do enjoy something, beware the calories! I leave it to you to decide which applies, when you sample these delicious Hawaiian goodies. Good luck in deciding…

Big Island Candies, established in 1977, boasts “Hawaii’s Finest Handmade Cookies & Chocolates.” And I’m here to tell you, they’re not lying. Their macadamia nut shortbread cookies are “to die for.” I live to tell the story. “The famous award-winning diagonally dipped shortbreads” are coated with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel chocolate. Or there’s the chocolate shortbread dipped in mint, the coffee shortbread dipped in dark chocolate, or the coconut shortbread, or the chocolate chip shortbread, or the lemon shortbread.

Your choice selection comes in a variety of boxed packages: the chocolate dipped original shortbread, the dark chocolate dipped original  shortbread, the coconut shortbread, the mint dipped chocolate shortbread, the dipped chocolate shortbread assortment, 2 types of the caramel chocolate dipped shortbread, the lemon shortbread assortment, the dark chocolate dipped coffee shortbread, the dipped original assortment, the lemon shortbread combo, the dipped shortbread assortment, the shortbread assortment, the original shortbread, and the chocolate chip shortbread. All of these are offered in a variety of sizes, i.e. Gold Box, Small Gold Box, Small Gift Box.

Besides their cookies Big Island Candies bakes and sells other items like their Kohala brownies, golden macadamia nut, chocolate covered macadamia nut and dark chocolate covered coconut. They’re very rich and dense, so they’re to be savored, not gulped in bunches like the cookies. Then there are items which might appeal to gourmet palates, green tea macadamia nut shortbread cookies, ultimate chocolate chip cookie, and the chocolate drink mix. For those liking a little “snap, crackle, pop” Big Island Candies offers the almond wafer crunch bar, the corn chip crunch bar and the peanut butter bar. (My mouth is watering.) Truly different are the Mika mints described as “A smooth and lightly whipped blend of dark and milk chocolate, cream and butter with the cooling touch of mint coated in dark chocolate for a truly decadent treat.” Just as delicious it seems is the Macnut toffee and the Hawaiian macadamia nut biscotti. Beyond my comprehension, but maybe not yours, is the Hawaiian red chili toffee where BIC claims “We carefully cook our Hawaiian red chili butter toffee in small batches to bring out its rich butter taste and crunchy bite. It is studded with roasted almonds with a touch of hickory smoke salt and the subtle heat of the small fiery Hawaiian chili pepper. We coat it with rich dark chocolate for a tantalizing treat.” Sounds like a smokin’ hot, eye-popping snack!

And finally, the list wouldn’t be complete without Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates in a variety of box sizes. If this old standby doesn’t excite your taste buds how about Hawaiian crunchies, containing crisp potato chips, macadamia nuts, and creamy milk chocolate, or Hawaiian macadamia nut rocky road, or Hawaiian macadamia nut crunch, or Hawaiian macadamia nut caramel cluster, or truffles?

For several years my husband has given a number of these mouth-watering snacks to staff, as Christmas gifts. Needless to say, we’ve not heard any complaints, only sighs of “ono-licious,” Hawaiian for “yummy in my tummy!” BIC can send out pre-packaged, wrapped gifts like Ha’Aheo Basket (large, medium,small), Kona Basket, Chocolate Mailer, Cocoa Box, Orange Mini Pillow, Salmon Colored Sheer Bag With Beans, Brown Oval Box, Fall Butterfly Keepsake, Sable Box, Purple Metallic Sheer Bag, Fall Amazonia Glitz, Purple Ballotin, Signature Tin, Mauna Kea Basket (large,small), Fall Lovely Glitz, Lei’Ahinahina (Hawaiian for “silversword”),Copper Ballotin, Fall Flutter Tin and Cherry Blossom Mini Takeout.

I know I’ve left nothing to your imagination, except perhaps, the price. The goodies, which taste like homemade, are priced well for what they are, “boutique” delights. The shipping might be the deal breaker. But as a special treat for yourself, your “significant other,” someone’s birthday, or holidays, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you think this has been a “paid commercial,” you’re wrong. I’m handing off something I’ve held near and dear to my stomach for years. You do with it what you will. But if you do make a purchase, maybe you can mention my blog and this post. Maybe as a “thank you” they’ll send me the Petite Box of Hawaiian Crunchies #1201, or the small gift box of Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread #3450, or the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Clusters #1206.

Big Island Candies toll-free #1-800-935-5510 or online @www.bigislandcandies.com.

eating my heart out, while you fill your “opu” (Hawaiian for “belly”)…hugmamma.

role models, aging gracefully

I’ve become acquainted with a 91-year-young woman through a very dear friend who’s in her mid-70’s. They belong to the same senior center’s group. I’ve only chatted with the elder woman 2 or 3 times, but I’m always amazed at her vitality. She still drives herself to their weekly gatherings where they do needlework, chat, and snack on goodies they, or others, bring to share. This acquaintance dresses stylishly, right down to matching earrings, handbag and shoes. I admire her youthful glow which obviously emanates from within. Her image is always in my mind’s eye when I think of someone aging gracefully.

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.”

Her hobby, more like a full-time job, keeps my girlfriend in constant stitches. (Pun intended.)  She is never without a knitting project spread out across her lap, fingers and needles furiously working “knits” and “purls.” Her handiwork is so exquisite that I’ve often said she would make good money selling her sweaters, vests, shawls, afghans, and baby things. But she takes such care that she prefers to give them as gifts, rather than sell them. A few Christmases ago, my husband and I received a deep, red afghan pieced together with several large, knitted squares in different designs. Needless to say, it’s rarely used as a coverlet. The afghan lays decoratively across the back of an oversized, upholstered chair. 

With little success I’ve tried to knit, my friend sitting patiently at my side, encouraging. But when I’m alone I’m in a quandry as to how to correct a mistake, so I undo everything and start anew. Exhausted and frustrated after several hours of undoing my knitting and redoing it, I put my yarns and needles aside. They still sit in a Nordstrom shopping bag against the far back wall of my closet. Now that I’m blogging, who knows when my attempt at knitting will resurface. I wouldn’t place any bets.

My girlfriend is one of the most charitable persons I know. In spite of the toll it might take upon her health, she is committed to helping family and friends in need. Regardless of her step-mother-in-law’s incessant complaining, my friend and her husband regularly visited the aging woman who lived a few hours away. While there they would help however they could. Until she died they spent Thanksgiving with her, foregoing a gayer holiday with their own children and grandchildren. Before putting her into an assisted-living facility, my girlfriend and her husband helped clean out decades of clutter from her mother-in-law’s home. While she lived, there was no indication of her appreciation for her daughter-in-law’s constant concern and care. But after passing away, my friend was bequeathed the old woman’s engagement ring. A just reward for a just person.

As I write this, my girlfriend is hosting friends who are visiting from out-of-state for a month. It may become an annual occurrence, for they welcomed their friends last year at this time. When other friends who live in the same retirement community vacationed at their condo in California earlier this year, my girlfriend took care of their sick dachshund. She went to live at the dog’s home so that it would feel comfortable in its own surroundings. Her husband visited, and she would return home to prepare and have dinner. When we planned our trip to Venice, my friend offered to care for our dog, even contemplating moving into our home so she could also care for our cats. It was a generous gesture, but her husband convinced her that it would be physically challenging for her to walk our dog up our steep driveway without his help, and he was not planning to live here with her. He had their home and dog to care for. We happily agreed to send our dog to their home, and have someonelse care for our cats.

Our family is grateful for the years we’ve known my girlfriend and her husband. I’ve especially cherished her as a role model for living robustly, despite personal hindrances. I hope I have her strong constitution, generosity toward others, and energetic vivacity as I live out the remaining years of my life. With my friend leading the way for a long time to come, I know I’m in good hands.

hugs for role models…hugmamma.