Flowers in the merry month of May – they do ‘something’ to me

The merry month of May is the glorious month of flowers.  So appropriate that my youngest sister Chichi messaged me today about a rare flower that bloomed last night, in the veranda of our home in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.  The Queen of the Night, scientifically called epiphyllum oxypetalum, made its dramatic appearance, spurring tremendous excitement that reached far California.  I got very excited, too.

As to be expected, the demure visitor stayed just a few hours.  Like a thief in the night, the blossom of this mystifying flower lingers only for one night.  Growers, like my sister, have to keep watch and be alert for any sign of bloom. This flower is much sought after around the world, Chichi told me.  Perhaps, that’s the very reason the Queen doesn’t stay very long, not long enough for any admirer to grab it off its stem.  The Queen is of a succulent cactus that prefers to grow in the shade.  Best to station it where it gets only indirect sunlight during the daytime.  When fully open, the flower can stretch to nine or ten inches in diameter.  Besides its allure and elegance, the Queen also effuses a delicate whiff that spreads over a wide vicinity, its royal court so to speak.

I can imagine my sister and my brother-in-law peeking out every night to check for any clandestine visit from the Queen of the Night.  I just wonder – if I’m back there, would I carry my blanket and pillow out to the veranda and, despite the balmy night air, would I take my position beside the Queen?

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 I dote over my own arcane flower at home in Palo Alto.  The red camellia that my husband planted decades ago, at the corner right outside our patio wall, wakes up from hibernation every spring.

Queen of the Night (Photos by Drs. Dodong and Chichi Gordoncillo)

Petals fallen from one mystifying camellia — gathered and looking like rose or cyclamen (Photo by lpj)

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Dancing away the voodoos of side effects – silly but maybe true

Funny that people are curious how COVID vaccines pan out.  This interest is peaked by numerous reports circulated on media outlets and social platforms.  They tend to prompt fear.  That’s normal in the “new norm.”  I was anxious, too.  Though fully cognizant that negative reports claim just a miniscule fraction of the total results, still, I entertained a nudge of doubt myself.  Admittedly, I had a pinch of anxiety, but I’m much relieved that my second Pfizer vaccine shot was administered a few days ago.  Now, family and friends inquire into my wellbeing after the second dose.  There seems to be a veiled quasi-obligation to satisfy the third degree from concerned family and friends.

However, before sharing my all-too-familiar vaccine narrative, I would like to offer my gratitude and compliments to the myriads of health care workers, employed and volunteers, who make the tedious process of vaccinating the public a very organized and well managed “event” – so efficient and smooth running.  I’m certain that everyone vaccinated appreciated the 15 to 30 minute rest soon after the shot, to be observed, while in the facility, for any immediate possibly adverse reaction.  That’s how it was for my first and second COVID vaccines.

Applause & gratitude to all health care
workers who tirelessly help to stave off
the COVID pandemic!    ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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My first outdoor dining since the pandemic started – absolutely delightful

Just came back from a lovely lunch outdoors, my first dine-out with friends since the start of the pandemic. I believe it was their first dining out, too, since March last year. A young lady from Mexico, a young man from Japan and I leisurely walked two blocks to Bill’s Café in Palo Alto.  The perfect spring-like weather, a bit coolish, blue skies,  sunshine, light breeze from shady trees lined at the side of the lane. We couldn’t have asked for more.  We were euphoric to be able to socialize outdoors. Never mind that we waited in line for half an hour. The important thing was, we thoroughly enjoyed the chat during the wait, and we got seated soon after 12 noon at one of the best situated round tables under an umbrella.

What I didn’t correctly hear was that we were supposed to order with our cell phone reading a programmed plastic pasted on the table, a technical innovation that I hadn’t experienced before.  So when the waiter came to take our orders, we hadn’t made our choices.  We were waiting for the regular menu.  Again, we didn’t mind the delay in getting our food.  After all, it was delightful just chatting away to get caught up on each other’s news, as we basked in half shade, half sun. A peculiar celebratory atmosphere dominated. From the cheery conversations and liveliness of people around, this was the general feeling.  And it felt good!

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Sunshine, stars, lollipops and little children too – the magical charm

Little children.  They bring out the sunshine.  They bring out the stars.  Smiles, laughter and candies, too.

Little children overwhelmingly charm with their antics, playfulness and especially, their refreshing innocence.  They warm my heart, as in a magic spell.  Only that, the endearment does not go away.  I shall share some of that charming spell.

Gerlyn, mother of my grandnephew Tian-Tian, told me that her son loves the blog I posted on this website, “No Tian-Tian, Godzilla is not in California”.  In that article, I mentioned how he got quite concerned about me after watching a Godzilla movie with California as its setting.  Just turned 5 on Feb. 20th, Tian-Tian staunchly appreciates a piece written about him.  So delighted is he that to this day, he cajoles his parents Siegfrid and Gerlyn to read the article to him every single day.  I am enamored by this one admirer of my writing, barely out of his toddler age, yet soaking in the pleasure of a tribute posted on his birthday.  If no one pays attention to that Godzilla blog but for this one little boy – I am euphoric and grateful.

More magical charms.

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Love defies tradition — or does love soften tradition?

A PBS documentary on the making of “Fiddler on the Roof” which I watched days ago revived  my fascination for the movie.  I hadn’t seen the stage version of the musical, but had viewed the film six times over the years.  Definitely, I can watch it again another six times.  The story, based on the book by Joseph Stein, weaves around nuances of Jewish culture vortexed on religion and tradition.  Quite skillfully, it renders a sensitive narrative about lives intertwined in the Jewish village of Anatevka, a settlement of Imperial Russia in the early 1900’s.  Never lacking in artistry, the movie is especially gifted with exceptional music by Jerry Book, song lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Gripping and moving, the story portrays an amicable Jewish community hinged on social customs primed on religion, culture and loyalties.  For this blog, I focus on what I believe is the bull’s eye of the story – conflict between love and tradition.

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Part 3: DELIGHTS

The new family member charms

Easily everyone’s sweetheart. That’s Burt, my grandson Eliott’s new pet dog, a 2-year-old mix-bred Terrier and Lhasa Apso.  Actually, I’m not sure about the dog’s full lineage. If a Cairn Terrier, Burt’s breed originated in the Scottish Highlands.  If a Lhasa Apso, his breed came from Tibet.  But whatever it is, this I know, he immediately grabbed my heart.  I’m sure he grabbed my grandson’s and his parents’ hearts, too.  

It is so endearing to see Eliott and Burt hit it off immediately from the first day the dog was brought home.  I suspect, it was that way at the rescue center when the two just met.  On facetime, I see Burt quietly following his new buddy around.  I read up about terriers.  One remarkable characteristic they have is their natural fondness for kids.  On the other hand, the Lhasa Apso dog is a great family companion.  Burt fawns on Eliott.  When the dog realizes his buddy is not in the room, he ambles from room to room, looking for him.  This is not without saying that my grandson has fast developed an affinity for his very first pet dog. 

Welcoming the new member of the family (photo courtesy of Eliott’s family)

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Part 5: Snippets, teasers and cliffhangers

The mask

Highly politicized and strangely divisive. I was pondering over this mask phenomenon upon hearing news on TV about the mask controversy.  A very simple thing, yet on the hot seat of public opinion.  While we have the freedom to choose or take sides, my inclination leans toward common sense and well-being, all politics aside.

As I was tinkering with this thought, I spotted a picture on Facebook posted by my son-in-law Matt, who touted the lovely and relaxing day he spent at Laguna Beach, Los Angeles with my daughter Joy.  Two seagulls, one carried a mask in its beak.  The other was just ambling ahead to meet the waves.  Hmmm … my interpretation was that the first bird wanted to wear the mask.  Smart seagull, I thought.  But someone else remarked that the bird was going to throw the mask out to the waves.  Interesting.  I was just toying with the tension between both sides of the controversy in my mind – and there appeared the seagull picture in front of my eyes, oddly mirroring that controversy.  

Seagulls at Laguna Beach, Los Angeles (Photo by Matt Rosenburg)

Well, what do you think?  Venture to guess what’s on the seagull’s mind.  This does not advance any rhetoric, but whatever your response is reveals what side you’re on (regarding the use and value of the mask) … of course, politics aside (really?!).

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Monterey – a tease for seafood and poetry

Then, I saw a photo on FB of my son John, daughter-in-law Natasha and grandson Eliott at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in beautiful Monterey, California.  Immediately, I imagined fish and chips.

Fish & chips, seafood sandwich ordered on a whim (Photo by Linda PJ)

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How awesome is this?!

Milk was top of my grocery list. Just had enough for one coffee break. So, I told my daughter Joy when I facetimed with her that I planned to go to the store next day. Her reaction was a stern advice – no, Mom, don’t go; just use Instacart. Now, for this Lola, Instacart sounded Greek. And since I don’t know Greek, I replied, I’d rather drive to the store just 10 minutes away. She insisted that I stick to the shelter-in guidelines still enforced in our county. Better still, she offered to do the ordering for me from her home in the Los Angeles area, using Instacart. I gave her my short list, thinking it would take hours or a day for delivery to come.

Lo and behold, the delivery arrived in two hours. And the nice surprise was, a big bundle of pink-orange roses was delivered along with the food items. How awesome is that! Not only do I have my needed milk, eggs, bread, carrots and tomatoes, almost in a flash, but also the unexpected gorgeous bouquet – for Mother’s Day! Immediately, I facetimed my daughter and blew a generous flurry of my thank you flying kisses. A lesson from her – learn to use Instacart, especially during these shelter-in times.

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My son John emailed me the image of my grandson’s drawing for inclusion in my Something Curious, Book 3, a fairy tale. My 10-year-old grandson Eliott has been instrumental in shaping my story material with valuable comments, suggestions and insights, tremendous feedback from a young boy. Working with him on the story, I genuinely felt humility – while this baby boomer Lola truly felt elated, I, too, felt humbled to learn so much from this youth who, even now, doesn’t realize how his ideas effectively motivated and inspired the completion of my story material.

Roses from my daughter, for Mother’s Day.

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Part 2: DELIGHTS

‘Torete’ about my grandnephew and grandson
Five weeks of vacation in December-January was intentionally packed with travels to far provinces, mainly to visit relatives, but also to tour lovely sights and enjoy nature’s gifts. In my previous blog, I mentioned the highlights of my vacation. But here, I want to give special mention to my niece’s newly born son, Zi. Meeting Zi was the crème de la crème of my vacation.

When I look at Zi’s photo, I sing my favorite Filipino song I learned when I was in the Philippines – “Torete ako sa iyo” (I’m cray about you – or nuts over you). I belted out this line to Zi when I was with him in hopes of keeping him awake so I could play with him. But every time, his eyelids would droop, and he’d fall peacefully asleep on my rousing tone – my funky crooning mustn’t have been as crazy and energizing as I thought it was. A strange and quirky lullabye. Anyway, Zi — “Torete ako sa iyo!”

Zi (Photo by Nikki)

I’m very “torete” about my grandson, too, now 10 years old, who at the moment of this writing, is enjoying Tahoe with his parents. I just watched a video of my grandson skiing and zigzagging the long and spectacular California trail. The activity looked invigorating. Funny, I felt invigorated … I wasn’t even there.

One of the highlights of my week that I so look forward to is facetiming late Sunday afternoons and watching him practice and rehearse pieces on the piano. Always a lovely treat! He is a wonderful delight that I thank God for.

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The Sausalito treat
Last weekend was perfect for a drive to Sausalito north of San Francisco. A spontaneous and lavish treat from a nephew, his wife and daughter on a spring-like day.

Sausalito (Photos by Edwin)

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Part 4: Snippets, teasers and cliffhangers

Frolicking on the lake
Paddle boating on the lake isn’t just kid stuff, I insist. Adults love it and have the best fun, too. Last Saturday afternoon, friends and I went paddle boating on Shoreline lake in Mountain View, my second time ever. Regulation says only four can ride the paddle boat, so one guy had to work the kayak on his own. For some bit of excitement, our boat often crossed path with the kayak, and lightly bumped it intentionally but teasingly. We felt like kids giddy at play.

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Part 3: Snippets, teasers and cliffhangers

A sumptuous musical treat right in my living room
Right now, I’m listening to a Japanese friend practicing with her friend Schubert Serenade, a piano-violin duet. Lovely! Brings back memories of my father singing the lyrics in his rich baritone voice. Though I’ve heard this music practiced for the nth time, I don’t tire of it. I can almost picture the flats and sharps on the music score. But what I particularly appreciate is noting the blossoming of expression in their collaborative musical interpretation. What I look forward to is their playing in full length Elgar’s Salut d’Amour which the two musicians have been learning the past weeks. Since they practice in my living room, I get to be the all-too-willing audience. And as they grow in their familiarity with the piece, I grow in my appreciation of the musicians’ pain (or occasional frustration) as they struggle to perfect a classic meant only to be performed with utmost sensitivity and skill.

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Good surprises, big and small

A welcome spice to any day is a nice surprise. Often, our days run in routine fashion that we can almost predict what occupies the next minute, the next hour. Routine is comfortable; the familiar is easy and less stressful. Now and then though, we’d like an unexpected surprise or two – the good ones, that is. I’ve had those, and I’ll tell you about some recent ones. Perhaps not spectacular, but wonderful for me — moments that bring out a laugh, a chuckle or a broad smile. Trivia, maybe, but not for me. And I hope you take interest or derive amusement in these little stories that I share.

Japanese tea set
Two friends and I recently enjoyed a simple tea ceremony at home. We just couldn’t decide whether we’d do it the English, Chinese, Japanese or Filipino way.

Tea pot set from Kyushu, Japan

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DELIGHTS

Easily, many delights slip notice. If we pay close attention, we can find small and big pleasures from ordinary and extraordinary things, moments that could color and brighten our day: add a lift to our step, put a smile on our face, glow to our eyes, a zing to our tone, a song in our heart. Don’t lose or waste those moments. They can enhance our perspective of life. I keep my own collection of delights and will share some with you, hoping that you, too, will find your own delights.

Nikki’s Nalu, exotic kitty (Gab’s photo) –  read about Nalu in this blog

Joy’s Daisy, lioness dog (Matt’s photo) – read about Daisy in this blog

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Bouncing back with full appetite

I just came out of hiatus. Not a pleasant one. It was a tug-and-pull kind of a battle for a week and a half. The nasty flu strain and me, at war with each other. I pulled hard, and here I am, without the fever but fighting an annoying cough and congestion. Like they always say, flu shots are for certain strains, but not for all. Whatever I caught certainly avoided the shot’s target. I’m just grateful that I’m feeling so much better now … thank you for wondering.

Strangely, being sick carries a few positives. It forces one to slow down and rest, to get enough sleep, and drink a lot of water or juices. That’s just what I did. On the negative side, I could hardly eat. My appetite was gone. Bitter taste stayed in my mouth. And for me not to be able to eat when I love food is a huge downside. The fun for eating was gone for me, as I struggled through the fever. Weakness in my body settled like a most unwelcome visitor. But to compensate for lack of food, I almost binged on chocolate truffles. I needed the sugar – and I actually loved it. The sweet in my mouth dominated over the bitter.

A couple of days ago, my appetite came back, an indication that I’ve bounced back. Now, I’m all ready to pounce on my pot stickers, egg rolls, crab fried rice and wanton soup (that I ordered from DoorDash, the food delivery service). Yes, I’m back!

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Part 2: Snippets, teasers and cliffhangers

My auntie just lost her husband to an ailment that made him bed-ridden months before he passed. Though he was very sick, the loss is still hard for her to bear, having lived with him for some 58 years. Her loss brings to mind my own raw grief upon losing my husband in December 2015, after dialysis of four and a half years. Last night, I exchanged messages with my auntie. She was quick to respond to my comments. This exchange followed a video that I forwarded to her – a warm presentation about how to age graciously, mostly sound advice applicable to living life joyfully. One of the suggestions, however, intrigued me, as it did my auntie. It said – “If worry makes you happy, then go ahead and worry.”

That comment did not fare well with me.

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Excited for my omiyage

Omiyage. A Japanese word I just learned, means gift. I am so looking forward to my omiyage of authentic Japanese rice cake. With chagrin, I assume it’s my gift. My Japanese friend related that her friend, a young male scientist coming to California next week, persevered in line along with seniors in a Japanese store, to claim bags of tsuki, the rice cake. Tsuki, not sold everyday but only seasonally, is very popular especially among the older folks in Japan. So, imagine her distinguished scientist friend elbowing his way through a long, aggressive line of senior women, to grab my tsuki! That picture seems ludicrous.

Wait a minute – did she really say that was my omiyage? Now, I have to be sure. Maybe I’ll ask her (shyly) when I see her today. She knows I go gaga over those rice cakes.
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Sharing good news and reflections about Babyboomerlola on its 1st anniversary

Babyboomerlola.com turns one year old this month. It’s been an interesting journey with intriguing surprises for me. In writing my blogs, I learned to be more transparent about my thoughts, feelings, expectations and observations. Sharing my reflections and memories wasn’t easy at first, I must confess. There was this little voice in me that wanted to dominate, telling me that the “world” does not have to know my opinions, thinking, or experiences, and that I could very well convey stories about others, but not about myself.

The compromise is, not every blog is about me, I argued with that little voice. Though I agree that my blogs mirror my perception of happenings or events – and that’s where “me” comes into the picture. I admit, it took a little while to be comfortable with this. Sharing my thoughts, feelings and memories is letting you into my world. Hopefully, you’ll agree, that when you engage in my world – I engage in yours, too. And when we “connect”, this world becomes a “small world”. And that’s what I love about Babyboomerlola, it’s not just my creative outlet – it’s also a venue to connect.  To date, this site carries 61 blogs plus the sidebar.
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Graduation – a triumphant passage to the next adventure in life’s journey

Transitions convey anticipation and excitement and, often, a triumphant sense of achievement. At the same time, they prompt some wonder of what lies ahead and how one can ride new challenges. Graduation goads transition that specifically highlights passage to the next stage, the next adventure, the next milestone.

I take exception from not mentioning names in my blogs with these congratulatory blurbs for certain individuals.

My niece, May Gordoncillo Payabyab, my web consultant, is graduating next week with a degree in Master of Arts in Communication Research from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Years of careful and thoughtful work in completing her thesis centered on new media have brought her fresh and deeper insights into the influence and confluence of technology on mass communication. Like anyone about to embark on new ventures, May eyeballs various possibilities and opportunities, recognizing that narrowing down to a career direction hinges on how well and how much she knows herself. I wish her the best.

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Feeling frenzied yet rested while watching sports at home

A lot of great things can be said about watching sports. It serves as a panacea for stress or tiredness, even boredom. It makes one forget, at least for the moment, worries and anxieties. An escape, a cynic might say, but definitely, a respite from the doldrums or pressures of the day. Watching sports can stir the adrenalin to such highs. It builds excitement that fires the spirit of competition. And competition spurs more excitement – a merry vicious cycle. I’m fine with that.
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Lola’s blog throwbacks

Carved out for you are teasers from blogs in Babyboomerlola.com — thought-provocateurs presented here in the hopes that you’d be enticed to read the full articles, if you haven’t yet. Take a curious peek, travel your mind, feel the pulse, enjoy the cadence; just click the titles.

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… life isn’t just all about the gain … there’s something better, something deeper, something you can barely touch, but it’s just there, like a sacred hush. (Blog: Birthday parties – and all that jazz … or some of it )

The summers of my youth in the farm are clearly the nugget of the magic Auayan held for me. And the magic is still there … waiting for me to reach out … I have reached out. (Blog: The magic of a place haunts the memory – is there such one for you as there is for me?)

The crabs tantalizingly smelled like the sea.   Our table reeked of the sweet-sour aroma of vinegar. No one cared. (Blog: Hard to refuse an “all you can eat” meal – especially if it pitches crabs)

I appreciate the chance to get up earlier than usual in the morning, pick an attire appropriate for the office, prim my hair and prep my face, fix a quick breakfast, take the vitamins and scheduled meds, wash the cup and plate I used, bag my baon (packed food) for lunch, check the stove, then out the door.  Work is good for the soul, mind, body — and yes, the pocket. (Blog: The mystic about retirement)

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Snippets, teasers and cliffhangers

Jet lag – for me, it happens not upon arrival at the destination but upon arrival back at the place of origin. Why is that? When traveling through different time zones, the destination gets no jet lag. The body clock doesn’t seem to need any adjustment. Doesn’t the body recognize the difference there? But upon return to the place of origin, the body stresses over the time difference when, in fact, that’s always been what it had been used to before. Or, is the body just tired from all that traveling. Hmmm … the jet lag lags.
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I opened my refrigerator to reach for a snack and settled on cold spaghetti. I teetered between microwave or stove heating – but decided to eat it cold, with the rich tomato sauce curdled around the noodles. It was really good! Didn’t need any heating. The coldness gave it a fresh snack-like zing. I ate it all. The problem is, that was my dinner – not my snack. Oh well, I looked at it as early dinner, or, I simply skipped dinner. I got peachy full anyway.

Try cold spaghetti – it’s awesome!
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Sending my grandson loving thoughts from over 7,000 miles away

I miss my 8-year-old grandson, who calls me Lola with a perfectly rounded “O”. He in California, and I in the Philippines, I watched him on facetime weeks ago as he very attentively rehearsed for a piano recital: a skippy Minuet and a winsome adagio that he was aiming to perform with perfection. Quite obedient to his father’s request, my grandson repeatedly practiced the pieces, as well as the introduction to his performance – of course, to my sheer delight, because I don’t tire watching this darling boy at all, playing music or just playing, or doing anything at all.

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Introduction

I am a baby boomer and a Lola (Grandma).  Shhh!  Don’t ask … wondering how old I am?  It’s just a number – and I’ll keep you guessing.

Babyboomerlola.com offers meanderings from the heart.  Looking back over the years, I recognize how much more I know now, how remarkably I’ve experienced the nuances of life, the summation of which is the wisdom of what and how much I’ve learned – through all the mesh and mush: gaiety grabbed, foolishness treaded, anxieties bashed, choices snubbed, ambition seized, triumphs celebrated, dreams chased, hopes abandoned, and wise counsel followed or wasted.  The vortex of this wisdom is the humility of realizing the vastness of opportunity, experience, insights, lessons and care bestowed in generous measure by love and blessings.

My blogs will share observations, memories, thoughts, feelings, reflections. They will reminisce the “old days”, see how they compare with the changing times  perhaps with some nostalgia sufficient to elicit gratitude for what was then that effected what has become. There, too, will be tid bits of significant trivia of the day, or flashbacks of episodes meaningful enough to remember and tell: random musings, mind teasers, contemplative cliffhangers, stories that may run the gamut from interesting, instructive, sophic, intriguing, amazing, to humorous or simply ridiculous or foolish.

I invite you to come step into my world – or, take a peek and linger a while.  With variations, it could be your world, too.

Linda P. Jacob