friday fictioneers: one artist’s rendering…

Remodeling spaces is a form of art.

Could it be that Picasso dabbled in fixer-uppers before painting anatomically grotesque women?

An artist begins with a blank canvas. So it is when I behold the before…imagining in my mind’s eye what will come after.

While I do not strike the carpenter’s hammer or turn the plumber’s screwdriver, mine is the creative vision.

The inspiration. The design. The materials. The textures. The colors.

My aesthetics power the coalescence of the parts.

And when it comes to details…I’m the devil.

Never for symmetry, instead by gut instinct.

If it feels rightIT’S MAGIC!


…master bedroom…this artist’s vision come true…


…daughter’s bedroom…also this artist’s rendering…


for more great 100 word stories on the photo prompt.)








friday fictioneers: purgatory…enroute to heaven

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright-Ted Strutz

“House…I know what you’re going through.”

Remodeling is no fun. Not the kind you go through to get things spiffied up around one’s castle, or the kind you go through to keep things working inside your mouth.

I’ve been through both kinds in recent years, and I can attest to both being brutal to the brain and to the body.

While in the midst of reconstruction it’s as though my brain has gone AWOL. Totally missing in action. Gone. Out to lunch.

My body meanwhile vacillates between anesthetization and sudden urges to purge my urethra.

Contractor and dentist… …frenemies. 


an early thanksgiving…

(Written yesterday…)

I’m celebrating a couple of days before everyone else, as my daughter makes her way home from Pittsburgh, and before that Houston.

Hubby and I finished off decorating her bedroom after having it recently remodeled…stripped the 70s “popcorn” from the ceiling…replaced that yucky white-turned-dirty-beige carpet

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…relocated  the closet across the room, and enlarged it. Before, the side of it greeted you as you entered the room. It was difficult getting large furniture in and out.

Now I’m in the kitchen cooking up a pot of stew. Portuguese bean soup to be exact. 

My daughter’s looking forward to returning to hearth and home after a couple of months of…eating on the run in Houston…and bunking on an air mattress in Pittsburgh. Mind you, she loved it since she got to do what she loves best…dance!

However, my daughter’s no shrinking violet when it comes to mom’s good-old-fashioned, home cooked meals. She gobbles them right up. (Holiday pun.)

The other thing she’ll be doing is catching up on some much needed shut-eye. Rehearsing and performing for shows, not to mention the daily dance classes to warm up, are wearing on the body. 

Eat. Sleep. Watch old movies on TV with mom. And play Bananagrams with her old fogey parents, will fill my daughter’s calendar…at least for a few days. After that, back to exercise and keeping in tip top shape in order to dance.IMG_4296

And who knows where the wind will blow her next. My daughter plans to audition for contemporary dance companies here and abroad. 

So as long as we’re blest to have her in our midst, her dad and I will make the most of the time we have with the daughter who is…

…our sunshine…and our moon...


PORTUGUESE BEAN SOUP…yummy in your tummy! (ham hocks, short ribs, smoked sausage, kidney beans, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, watercress, onions, and papaya)

twiddling my thumbs…

…and writing like it’s going out of style!!!


…the apple of my eye…my daughter…

What my daughter knows that you don’t is that I’ve been sitting around twiddling my thumbs…when I’m not churning out posts one after another. My fellow bloggers will agree that this can be addictive, whether they’re avid photographers or passionate writers. I like to think I’m a little of both, leaning more towards the latter.

You see, I’ve got a couple of guys in the house with me. And before you go THERE,… they’ve been doing some remodeling in my daughter’s bedroom. They estimate it’ll take a mere week-and-a-half.

So if you can stand it…I’ll just keep pawing away at the keyboard, elaborating upon every thought that pops into my head. And as those who are near and dear to me know firsthand…there’s a never-ending deluge of words fighting to be let loose upon unsuspecting readers like you.

But as I said before…

…i promise to dry up…sooner rather than…later…

Watching and Blogging

…btw…that’s not me…just someone who looks a lot like me…


wordpress…i’m impressed!

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve done a little retooling of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. The look may appear the same but subtle changes, and some not so subtle, have been made in the placement of items.

You must think I’m a genie…a magician…a technological wizard! Truth be told…I’m no such thing.

I’m a fraud! And those who know me well know I’m the least savvy when it comes to gizmos and gadgets.

Everything you see before you is due to the genius that is Word Press. Their consistent  behind-the-scenes tweaking continues to enhance my blogging experience.

“Go big or go home!” seems to describe Word Press best.  Recently, my daughter said the same of me…

NASA Watching Atlantic Tropics: Katia, Tropica...

NASA Watching Atlantic Tropics: Katia, Tropical Storm Lee and System 94L [detail view] (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

…go big…or go home!!!…


weekly photo challenge: through

A view of my front yard through the window of my newly renovated master bedroom. I’m inclined to recycle vintage pieces wherever I can. Have you any idea where this architectural piece may have “lived” prior to where it’s now been incorporated? Look for a photo showing more of the piece in an upcoming post with pictures of my remodel.

…see if you’re right then…

hugmamma.    😉                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

( note: this challenge occurred in mid-march…i guess i’m a little behind the times…no matter…it still works!)

are we done yet???

carpet store kitty

carpet store kitty (Photo credit: Kate Raynes-Goldie)

The carpet installers are vacuuming up the remnants of their work as I type. Finally! The last “t” is being crossed, and the final “i” dotted, on the master bed/bath remodel we began almost 2-1/2 months ago.

If I never see another contractor or subcontractor, it will be too soon. Having them in my space 24/7 is totally discombobulating. Ignoring their presence is impossible as their companion noises drone on and on and on. Whether they’re sawing wood, hammering nails, drilling holes, laying tile or carpet, tramping up and down the stairs, slamming doors, or laughing and chatting among themselves, they are inside my head…literally!

My Fair Lady (film)

My Fair Lady (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now the end is in sight!!!

Hooray for the workers, me, my pets, and yes, even my house! If it could speak I’m certain it would complain loudly, what with all the pulling, tugging, denuding and rearranging it has had to endure. My house and I will jump for joy when the front door finally slams shut on these men’s backsides.

 In the famous words of Eliza Doolittle‘s Zvengali, Professor Henry Higgins, “Shall we dance?” 

A friend suggested I break open the champagne when all’s said and done.

Where’s the corkscrew? Let me at that wine rack! I’m pulling an all-nighter! Hip-hip-hooray!!!

And the sun’s out!!! Double hip-hip-hippety-hoppety-hooray!!!

Eliza Doolittle (EP)

Eliza Doolittle (EP) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…da ya think i’m happy?…ya betcha!…

………hugmamma.  🙂

swept away…on a tidal wave

That’s how I’ve felt these last couple of months. And while the “waves” have subsided, I’m still dealing with the upheaval that is currently my life right now. Suffice it to say that the New Year is bringing changes…possibly to my daughter’s life…and definitely to my house.

As my daughter contemplates her life going forward, my husband and I are in the midst of a bath/bedroom remodel. I’d forgotten how time consuming and involved it is preparing for the day it all gets underway.

Four years ago when we remodeled the kitchen/dining and living rooms I worked closely with the contractor’s project manager. I specified how I wanted things to look, and he made it happen. This time around I’m working with a different contractor and I’m my own project manager. Saves the cost of paying a “middle man.” However I now see that the job isn’t as easy as I might have thought.

As project manager I must see to all the details, making certain that they are absolutely correct. Not only do I now get to pick out the tiles for the shower walls, floor and curb, the bathroom floor and the baseboard, but I must ensure that the square footages are accurate when I place the orders. If not, I’ll be to blame and money I thought I’d saved by doing the job myself, could be a loss instead.

Of course with remodeling comes the inevitable packing up and storing all the stuff that is normally kept in the bathroom and bedroom. So until I get it all neatly stored away elsewhere, all the other rooms in my house look like an earthquake hit, tossing everything around.

It doesn’t help that Christmas still peeks out from around every corner. Yes! I’ve not yet put the holiday decorations away. I planned to do it in February once all the last get-togethers were finally over and done. But then the “tidal wave” hit, engulfing our family in changes that we knew were coming, but for which we were nonetheless unprepared.

Rather than sweat the fact that I’ve not been as adept at handling the fallout as I like to be, I’ve tried to emulate the calm in the “eye of the hurricane.” What needs to get done, will get done. What can wait will have to wait…like housework and blogging. 

I blog because I love to write, and tell stories, mine and those of others. I know that readers who enjoy my storytelling will return when I’m back on track. At least I hope you will. Until then I pray your lives are full, but not as overloaded as mine is at the moment.

I thank God for the New Year… in which I’ve promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep.

…i just thank god that i’m alive…and able to do…what needs doing…

………hugmamma.  🙂

“trivial pursuit”

I’ve visited another blog site which is great at “housekeeping” and decluttering. Thought I’d try it with my brain. Need to empty it of tchotchkes every so often. So I’m decluttering, in no particular order.

  • Did you know that storing apples with other fruits will ripen the others more quickly?That’s something I need to constantly remind myself.
  • Walking around Seattle yesterday, lunching on a nice, healthy salad, and supping on shared appetizers with hubby, garnered me a weight loss of 2 pounds! Yeaaayyy! At my age, that’s some feat! And my feet didn’t hurt, either. Thanks to great walking shoes, Merrell’s.
  • With 21,082 spams to date, I’ve got a “spam club,” which I’ll gladly relinquish to anyonelse. Sage? Ellen?
  • Received an email that Ellen de Generes
    Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

    Image via Wikipedia

    is following me on twitter. Not sure how that works. I just click “tweet,” and send it out into internet galactica. Have never visited “twitterville” myself. is mind-boggling enough for me. But I sincerely hope Ellen or her fun assistants have a laugh or two, or cry a tear or two, depending upon which post they’re perusing. Hmmm…just tried to send her a message, but can’t. Will have to delve into the machinations of Twitter. OMG!…more techy speak.

  • Can’t seem to get the hang of blog  buddies, so I’ll just continue to embrace the universe of bloggers. It takes all kinds, after all, and I’m just one kind.
  • Recently saw a segment of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” which featured a home remodel in
    City seal of Honolulu, Hawaii. Image created b...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Honolulu, Hawaii. Since I turned the TV on after the story had already begun, I didn’t see what the house looked like beforehand. Fronting the ocean, with completely unobstructed views, I could only imagine its original price tag. During the process of the remodel, the city, and then the state, prohibited the building process. Denying a permit, FEMA explained its concern about the proximity to the water and flooding issues. Did that stop the property owners? Maybe they blinked their eyes, but they went forward, leveling the house and its accrued $250,000 renovation up to that point. Raising the new house to a more acceptable height, it was completed. At $4 million, the completed home was breathtaking, inside and out. Now that’s my idea of “pie-in-the-sky,” a dream home in Hawaii. But for me, that’s exactly what it is…a dream.

  • A bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran with 1 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup of Silk’s vanilla, almond milk is my new BFF. Love, love, love that it keeps me “regular.”  😉
  •  Heard on the local news recently that sitting for 6 hours or more a day without taking breaks to move around, contributes to increased risk for heart disease, and premature death. According to the report, even those who work out 3 or more times a week aren’t exempt from the threat. And the strain of work puts females at a 40% risk for coronary illness than men. Something to seriously contemplate, and perhaps take steps towards changing one’s routine.
  • Well-meaning friends and relatives also help to clutter my brain. Here are some of their contributions.

How the Internet started 

A revelation with an Incredibly Big Message (IBM):

Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here’s the TRUE story…..

Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözése

Image via Wikipedia

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of 
Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. 

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband: “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?”

And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said: “How, dear?”

And Dot replied: “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) N273UP United Parce...

Image by Kuba Bożanowski via Flickr

 And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”  

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted – for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say: “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said: “We need a name that reflects what we are.” 

And Dot replied: “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”
“YAHOO,”  said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began.

The above was courtesy of my friend Sylvia, And the following was shared by my brother Ben.


life doesn’t get any better than this…hugmamma.

irksome things that “niggle”

Perhaps because I’m in a Comcast frame of mind, meaning “things that need fixing,” I was just thinking of little things that “niggle” me from time to time.

Making toast for my husband and me just now, I reminded myself to empty the crumbs from the catchplate at the bottom of the toaster. As on previous occasions, it irked me that I had to unplug the toaster first, turn it around so that I could remove the crumb catcher. I wondered why Oster didn’t just place it on the other side where all the buttons were located. That might make it easier to remember to empty the catcher more regularly than I do.

Another manufacturing snafu is that the catchplate is as flat as a pancake. How do the crumbs stay put, until they’re emptied? They don’t. The day I found mounds of the stuff in my appliance cupboard is when I realized the drawbacks of my toaster. Its vintage look and fabulous red color were what drew me to purchase this particular model. It toasts well, but what’s left behind just plain “niggles” me. The manufacturer should’ve hired a “professional” toaster maker to test the product, before it was rushed onto the assembly line. Real moms who’ve been using these items regularly for years and years, not the ones on TV, like “Desperate Housewives,” or “Housewives of OC, NYC, NJ, ATL, DC, and BH.” I jest, of course!?!

When our kitchen was remodeled a few years ago, we didn’t install a garbage disposal. Having an in ground septic tank take care of our household disposal needs, we didn’t want to overload it with waste that could be recycled, like food scraps. Catching all those small tidbits before they race down the drain, however, is messy and tedious. Relatives of ours had the solution we needed, a small strainer that fit snugly into the drain. Voile! Problem solved!

A carpenter I’d used some time before we did our remodel, recommended I not use granite or purchase stainless steel appliances. But of course, I did. Just as he said, fingerprints are a chore to remove from the stove, refrig and dishwasher. Water stains are a constant source of irritation on the granite surrounding the sink. Imagine when I hold a dish or pot under the faucet, the water splashes all over the beautiful, dark green granite. I’ve learned to live with stains, for no matter how many times I clean them, they reappear as if they’d never left. I do love how the granite slabs and stainless appliances enhance the look of our kitchen, as long as I don’t look too closely.

Before the remodel, we had a gas top stove. I’d only cooked on electric prior to that, so the change took a little getting use to for me. I found cooking with gas to be fine, but it wasn’t “to die for,” as with the majority of cooks. The thing I liked least about it, was cleaning all the grease and grime that would collect in and around the burners. When I lived away from home with my daughter who was training to become a ballet dancer, my husband, who remained here, hired a housekeeper. Reluctant to keep her upon my return, I soon found Lucy to be worth her weight in gold. The gas top stove was flawless after she “waved her magic cleaning wand.” Poor thing, after many years cleaning others’ homes, Lucy returned to Brazil for back surgery. Our home has never been as clean since. 

Litter dust that is perpetually tracked up the staircase, and along the hallway, also “niggles” me. No amount of vacuuming with my upright, or hand-held, does the trick permanently. And I’ve tried every form of litter known to man, clay, wheat, corn, lavender-scented, baking soda-added, newspaper pellets, pine-scented, scoop, non-scoop, flushable, non-flushable, multiple-cat. Wish I’d toilet-trained my 3 cats, and my daughter’s 1, when they were wee things. Now that they’re full-grown, ranging in age from 6 years through 15 years, they’d probably all tell me to flush myself down the toilet if I tried to alter their potty habits. Wouldn’t you?

Plugs that don’t completely fit into sockets also make me nuts. As I’m vacuuming I’m constantly aware not to yank the chord, otherwise I’m retracing my steps to plug the chord in again. Try doing this 15, 20, 25 times in an hour. You’d also want to shoot a hole in the wall where the socket is. But that was then; years of repetition have made me really good at having to put the plug into the socket only once or twice, the entire time I’m vacuuming. Yehhh, for me!!! I know, I know, the piece inside the wall just needs replacing. Well, my on-site repairman is going to get around to it, “later.” And that’s fine with me. I’ve figured a way to get around the problem, and there are other things I’d prefer getting done sooner, rather than…”later.” Picking my battles, you see.

Last year after Christmas, we retrieved the huge plastic bins from our garage to store away the holiday decorations. We found that mice had found their way in from the cold. Droppings were everywhere. Yuck! We had to clean and sanitize the garage before replacing the bins. Clorox wipes were handy helpers for wiping down the surfaces, along with a lot of elbow grease. My husband purchased poison-filled pouches, placing them into nooks and crannies. My contribution to the effort? Good, old-fashioned mothballs!!! I Rolled them out of the boxes until they covered a good amount of the garage floor beneath the shelving units. They worked! The potent smell kept those buggers away. Thank goodness I find the scent rather…refreshing, like being in the alpine. Mice poop, now that’s a “niggler” to end all “nigglers!”

After being married as long as we have, there’s bound to be things that “niggle” my husband and me about each other. I’m certain one HE CAN LIVE WITHOUT is hearing his name echo throughout the house when I’d like something done. I’m sure one “niggle” that’s had me “talking to myself” for almost half-a-century is when he asks me where something is, before he’s even searched. Or upon beginning to search, my husband is done looking, before he’s even really started. I guess it’s easier, ON HIM, if I drag everything out, to find that it’s always been right in front of his nose. “Niggling” is the “other face” of true love! Even bliss takes a break, now and then.

I’m sure we’ve all got things that “niggle.” Even our pastor, Father Brian, is “niggled” by inadequate church parking, a less than adequate parish budget, rising early to say 8:15 a.m. Mass. Looks like even the holiest among us can’t escape being “niggled,” once-in-awhile.

so go ahead and rant, about whatever “niggles” you…hugmamma.

more exercise, less sugar

Dragged myself from bed at 6:46 a.m. to prepare for exercise class. Would’ve preferred sleeping in, especially with my propensity for late night blogging. Will find a balance one of these days. But having had a spotty attendance record so far this summer, I feel compelled to get myself  to the gym, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our instructor gave me a further reason to push myself.

Kristina is in the midst of some remodeling. She told us that she was grateful for her exercise regimen. Needing to replace a steel rod to rehang her garage door, Kristina successfully undertook the task herself. She felt we would be as capable given our attention to exercise. And she’s right. Many a time I’ve thought how easily I lug grocery bags in from the car, usually making it in one trip. Unless allergens are swirling overhead, I can walk my dog up and down hills with minimal huffing and puffing. My chronic lower back pain is on “simmer.” Even though I’ll never eliminate my arthritis, I can manage the pain without drugs.

Incorporated into our exercise regimen, we use 3 lb. and 5 lb. hand weights, ankle weights, flex bands, and poles. Lying on the floor, we do sit ups, push ups, leg lifts, pelvic tilts, and hold our bodies parallel to the floor for up to 32 counts. All of this comes on the heels of aerobic work to get our heart rate up. On Mondays we do lunges across the floor several times, sometimes even doing the length of the gym. On Wednesdays we add a step to the mix. On Fridays we lay on our backs, legs bent on the seat of the chair. From this position, we do all our floor exercises. All of this wasn’t easy at first, but 4 years later, I feel stronger and more in control physically and mentally. 

Exercise and cutting way back on sugar, which causes inflammation, are my “magic bullets.” When I don’t get enough of the first, and get too much of the latter, I ache, badly. As soon as I return to my “weapons” in defense of good health, the pain melts away. It’s taken years of trying different diets, including Weight Watchers 3 times, and The Perricone Prescription, to arrive at my solution. It’s not a quick fix or a perfect one for I stray often, especially on vacations. But I get back to my routine as soon as I can, and my body thanks me for it.

It’s still a struggle to age, but I’ve no choice in the matter so I opt to do it healthily and therefore, gracefully.

wish the same for you…hugmamma.