Category Archives: Love / Tender Moments

Stories that tell about any thing and everything that we … love.

Kindness In Hidden Places ©

An unexpected act of kindness experience by Pauline Hosie

kindnessIt’s Friday night and the 504 bus is stopped in busy traffic.  Nearly 7pm, I will be late.  “It’s okay” I tell myself.  Over the years I have learned to be kind to myself, knowing that everything happens for a reason.  I focus ahead.  Once I spot the Caltex Petrol station, I press the red button.  As the blue “bus is stopping” sign lights up I make my way to the crowded back door.  The slim man in the grey business suit kindly moves across to let me through. “Thank you driver” I call out as the bus stops.

Streetlights guide me to the next corner.  Just as I am about to turn the corner at the mattress shop, my eyes are drawn to the dark, unlit street corner across the road.  A man in a black hooded windcheater is making himself invisible in the darkness.

What is he up to I wonder?

For some reason the hooded man makes me feel uneasy.

“Be kindno judging!“  I tell myself.  As I continue walking I spot the sign ‘Herbalist’.  Taking note of the large crystals in the window, I approach the bright blue door I know will be open.  Through the door and up the narrow stairs, I climb quietly…Nag Champa incense wafts under the closed door.  Too late!   Meditation has started.  I hesitate.  Will I try and enter quietly?  “No” I decide better not disturb the group.

Retracing my steps I wondered why I was guided to attend meditation only to arrive late.  What can I learn from the experience?

kindnessBack at the corner I wait for the traffic light to turn green.  While crossing I noticed the man in the black hoddie still hidden by the shadows.  Again I wondered what he is up too, conscious of his presence even with my back to him.

Just as I am about to cross Victoria Road I realize the elderly man beside me is blind.  When the traffic light changes, I take hold of the elderly gentleman’s arm and marvel at how brave he is to be out alone at night crossing one of the busiest intersection in Sydney.

Cane out in front, the frail gentleman walks slowing and deliberately beside me.  Aware we will not make the crossing in time, I do not hurry.  If impatient drive’s try to hurry us along ~ so be it!  The gentleman beside me deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  After what appears a long time, my elderly friend and I step onto the pathway on the other side of the road.

“Are you going to be okay?“  I ask him.

“Yes I will be fine”, he insisted, thanking me.

Just as I turn away from the blind gentleman someone grabs hold of my arm.  Shocked, I turn around to hear the words “well done” from the hooded man who disappears into the crowd.  Stunned that I was being observed by the faceless man, I thought kindness lurks in hidden places.

photos courtesy chrissy poicino and pauline hosie

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Small Sacrifice ©

Sacrifice through a child’s eye by Cathy Reineke

sacrificeIn a spurt of independence, my seventy-year-old grandmother bought a ticket and boarded a train to see her sister for two weeks.  My stubborn German grandfather stood on the tracks, arms clasped behind his back.  He squinted as the train left the station and disappeared out of site.  He turned to my mother with disbelief in his voice and remarked, “She went.  She really went.”  My mother sighed and retorted, “And you should have gone with her.”

My grandmother agreed to go if my mother would fix my grandfather dinner.  He never learned to cook.  My mother promised he would not starve but left him to solve getting his own breakfast and lunch.  He mostly likely walked to the local dive ordering his greasy brains and eggs as he sat with all his old railroad cronies.

Each night my mother and I drove to visit him, a plateful of hot food wrapped in tinfoil carefully balanced on my eight year old lap.

On the third evening of this dinner- delivery journey, my mom asked my grandfather how things were going.  “What are you eating for breakfast?” she inquired.

“You know, I’ve been eating this new breakfast cereal I found.  It is really different.  But I have acquired quite a taste for it.  I just pour some milk on it but it’s quite crunchy”

My mother’s curiosity rose.  How could a seventy-year-old man think that Cheerios or Corn Flakes could be “really different?”

sacrifice“What is the name of the cereal, Dad?” she responded.

“I am not sure” he exclaimed as he rose from his rocker and headed toward the kitchen.  He rummaged in the cupboard and soon returned.  “It’s called Malto Meal”, he answered proudly holding up the box.

Immediately, I began to protest.  “Mom, Grandpa’s eating . . . ”

My mother quickly turned to shush me with her mom-stare.  She turned back to her dad and smiled.  “ Well, I am glad you are taking care of yourself, Dad.”  With that, she gave him a hug and directed me quickly out the door to the car.

As she started the car, I found my voice again.  “Mom, why is grandpa eating that cereal raw?”, I proclaimed with indignation.  I knew the cereal needed cooking as my father prepared it for us children each morning before school.

“He’s just making a few small sacrifices so grandma can enjoy a few weeks of freedom” my mother answered.  “Cathy, your grandmother has never been on her own vacation before so her time away is very special.  If we tell her about grandpa, she will never allow herself such a vacation in the future.  Grandpa has always been so helpless.  We just don’t want grandma to know how helpless.”

With that, my mother drove away from the curb silently laughing and shaking her head.

We did keep grandpa’s sacrifice a secret from grandma.  She never again took an independent vacation but we often heard reminiscences from her wonderful sojourn.

I am also sure my grandmother cooked the rest of the Malto Meal for my grandfather’s breakfast in the days after her return.  He happily consumed the cereal, totally oblivious to its metamorphosis.

photos by chatchavan & shinazy

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Dock On The Bay ©

Dock memories by Cathy Reineke

dockThe dock was born one weekend in May, in Montana, when I was fourteen.  My father bought lakeshore frontage.  Only the two of us went up for that long weekend to build the dock.  The lake was at low pool (down 15 feet).  We had a short envelope of time to build our dock.

My father believed a daughter was as likely as a son to be a builder and taught me to wield a mean hammer.  First we dug holes for barrels, sunk them into the ground, and then placed poles into the barrels and filled them with cement.  After the cement set, we put up stringers between the poles and placed in the cross braces.  Finally, top planks went on and voila, we had the dock. 

I sat on that dock over many summers.  On fuzzy nights of too much beer, a few special friends discovered my secret as they lay in the dark at the end of the dock.  “This is a special place,” they’d say with voices full of quiet awe.

The dock formed a sturdy platform to launch ourselves into the water.   Mother grew her powerful petunias in big black witches caldrons placed at each post on the dock announcing that summer had truly arrived.  Each summer upon my return, the dock creaked its welcome to the chaise lounge placed at the end of the dock.  Sun was best there.   A quick step off the dock into the water always cooled my sun-scalded skin. 

On a wintry day, my boyfriend joined me there for the first time.  He found my heart when he stood on the dock and remarked, “I cannot believe anyone could have grown up with all of this.”

dockYears passed and I moved away.  Mother sold the cabin when she could no longer cope with the isolation and stillness after my father was gone.  A lovely couple staked their claim.  The dock filled with rambunctious children, gaggles of life jackets, and boats tied to its sturdy deck.  New voices echoed out over the bay. 

After many years away, I came back to visit friends.  I decided to drive by the lake place.  I found my way through the maze of dirt roads.  There upon my dock, stood the couple who had bought the place from mother many years before. 

Pictures of tanned young girls in new swimsuits returned to me.  Mom came down to the dock with her incredibly delicious tuna fish sandwiches.  Dad instructed me to “Put that level to the post and make sure it is straight up”, as he placed cement into the barrel.  And there I stood that last day, packing mother’s belongings into my car, turning my back to the dock, not watching our time end.  

I climbed out of my car and walked toward the couple on the dock who turned to look at me.  “Are you lost?” the husband asked.  “No” I said as I walked onto the dock.  I smiled and extended my hand as I introduced myself feeling that familiar slight give of my dock under the weight of my feet.

“I know exactly where I am”. 

 photos by cincooldesigns and jurvetson

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Words ©

Words by Michael Bell


wordsI spear for salmon words
That inhale wind bending the trees…
Or that dance to the conga drum in my heart.

I seek… baptized words dipped…in a lake of contemplation.
For words that wait…hoping for life in a stanza of this poem.
For a plethora of words inside a wicker basket…
For Words…words that skate upon a frozen lake in tandem with
Words that won’t stumble and don’t fall like a Californian new to Maine.

I want to dance to the music of words.
The crashing ocean wave word or lonely howl of dog word.
The colored jewel- kaleidoscope word and fat woman laughing at the beach word.
The spider’s web word.
The sparkle in the eye of a beautiful woman word.
A poem word in the sun’s reflection on a wave off the south coast sea.

I wish…to sip from the golden chalice offered on a grassy knoll in praise to the Word.
To relish the victor’s leap upon word rightly found…

BUT BEFORE,

The noon day tintinnabular of an epiphany of words…
In the era when I heard words I didn’t understand,
When I couldn’t speak words…when I couldn’t say…

I drove far to drill into the gusher of words in places I just couldn’t reach…
And tongue stilled… couldn’t say the love I felt for Claudia.
Nor the history of the empire of Rome
Or the image of the Marlboro man…
Or the dim memory of music tuning in my father’s circus band.
The cotton candy at the zoo in my little kid’s hand.

&

When wind from the lungs of God swayed the branches of the mighty oak on a hill in Salinas,
When the cold wind braced the spirit of my youth…
When the eucalyptus grove wind blew upon a Daly City hill not yet the neighborhood of today.

While not wanting to make of her the only one of my dreams…
I wrote this poem for Claudia.

photo by julie or dan scott

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My Definition of Nostalgia ©

A Story by Travis Burchart

Super-Conglomerate Retailer Leaves Me Misty Eyed and Nostalgic

NostalgiaWhat is nostalgia? If you’re going by my dad, it’s a bunch of chromatic snapshots from the 1950s: things like orange packages of Teaberry Gum, the smartly dressed milkman stooping over a doorstep, little girls in navy sweaters spinning hula hoops.  If you’re going by me, nostalgia is Wal-Mart.

Nostalgia can’t exist without the phrase “used to.” There must also be a little bit of longing (maybe even sadness) to go with a sense of joy. When my son was four, we “used to” patrol Wal-Mart looking for action figures. We’d leave my wife with the shopping cart and rush off to the toy department. Together, we’d dig through the rows of packaged superheroes – Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman. When we found one he didn’t have, his smile would shine like sunlight. I became so fixated that I used to show up alone on stocking day, anticipating the weekly toy shipment.

But, as I said, we “used to” do this. My son has since grown out of action figures. Now, our trips to Wal-Mart are about DVDs and video games. Our action figure adventures are becoming harder and harder to recall. I desperately wish I could remember the last superhero we bought (that little bit of longing and sadness).

Last week, I found myself alone in Wal-Mart’s toy section. I find myself there quite often, checking out the action figures and thinking about which ones my son might like. Of course, if I bought him one now, he’d have no interest in it. But I’m still interested – interested in the joy that’s rekindled by these miniature, plastic heroes.

Nostalgia isn’t always about rotary phones and toy soldier sets. My dad, he gets nostalgic and a little misty eyed when he hears Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Me, I get nostalgic and a little misty eyed when Wal-Mart stocks a new Batman.

photo by Fritz Park

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Love and Happiness Recipe ©

A love story by Will Jones

loveMy wife and I celebrated our thirty-first anniversary this month. Recently, our oldest son, our daughter-in-law and our one and only granddaughter visited from Boston. The whole family gathered for four joyous days. If there is a recipe for love and happiness, from July 7th to July 11th it looked like this:

Take one beautiful wife and add three handsome, healthy loving sons. Stir in one beautiful daughter-in-law, one beautiful fiancé and one beautiful girlfriend. Season with one beautiful, heart-melting granddaughter and two loyal, affectionate grandogs. Add one proud and grateful husband-father-grandfather. Blend all together for a long weekend of food, friends and fun at the beach. Serves nine to your heart’s delight.

Feeling love and seeing it in action is a grand feast of heart and soul. The recipe isn’t the same for everyone, but it tastes so good when you get it right.

Bon appetit! 

photo by woodleywonderworks

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WISDOM Wednesday: Mother’s Day Godmother©

A story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

Four months pregnant with my second child, I had a vivid dream  — The baby told me clearly that her name was Mary Daniele Erang, and, that she was inheriting all the wisdom of generations of women in our family.

Immediately, I asked my older friend Connie to be her godmother.  Connie was a deeply spiritual writer/poet, with no children of her own.  She gleefully agreed and then instructed me to name the child Jenna Rose.  For five-months I teased her that we planned to name the baby, “Mary Mother-of-God.”

No surprise… she was born looking exactly like Connie:

  •    Beach-ball shaped body
  •    Pursed lips and eyebrows
  •    Wispy reddish blond hair

When I called to tell Connie Mary Mother-of-God had just been born, she slammed down the phone with a quick, “Be right there.” Forty-five minutes later, she burst into the house, panting.

As the sun was lowering into the cold autumn sky, Connie and her goddaughter met face-to-face, and fell in love.

For the next two decades, Connie would immeasurably affect her goddaughter’s life.  Like a tribal ritual, Godmother and I talked, laughed, and argued over nearly every important decision of our daughter’s life.

Connie “allowed” us to name her, approved of my lengthy breast-feeding, and initially opposed sending her to a private girls’ school.  She agreed only after I exhibited research demonstrating the benefits to a girl’s self esteem and achievement.

Violin recitals were Godmother’s proudest early moments. From age 3 – 13, this wild young artist punctuated the baroque musical curriculum with her own passion and flair.

Indeed, she had inherited the gifts not only from her female lineage, as she prophesized in utero, but from Godmother as well:  She was awarded a rarely granted writing scholarship and had her choice of colleges, worldwide.

Connie insisted she consider Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which is to fine arts what Julliard is to music.  To placate Godmother, our daughter reluctantly flew from CA to RI.

Connie later reported that her goddaughter engaged the admission counselors with several hours of questions and comments.  She was immediately accepted and eventually chose this demanding program.

She studied with honors in Italy, and produced work in most mediums.  The awe-inspiring reflections of her inner world and outer opinion became trophies of Connie’s deep knowledge of her goddaughter. Connie became the proudest and happiest Godmother of all time!

She studied with honors in Italy, and produced work in most mediums.  The awe-inspiring reflections of her inner world and outer opinion became trophies of Connie’s deep knowledge of her goddaughter. Connie became the proudest and happiest Godmother of all time!

Under the weight of her body, Connie’s health waned during those college years.  Nevertheless, she drove six hours to attend RISD’s hot spring graduation on the streets of downtown Providence.

Seeing her child walk the diploma aisle punctuated Connie’s life.  We both sobbed with joyous love and pride.  We held each other’s sweaty arms and later, walked ever-so-slowly to the reception.

During this stroll, I realized that our dream-speaking young woman-daughter fulfilled not only an element of her own destiny that day, but part of Connie-the-Godmother’s as well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

photo by malati marlene shinazy

WISDOM Wednesday: Second Date©

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

It’s spring, almost summer… there’s lot of events to do outside: Live Concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, Arts & Craft Shows, and Car Shows.

It’s also the time you see cute couples everywhere.  Some they are not so cute.  But still, they are everywhere.   My cadre of single girlfriends and I all want to be a member of one of those couples – (only one of the cute couples).

That means: DATING.  Dating for a baby boomer woman is a process that often falls somewhere between having a second job and flinging oneself under a train that has just derailed with cars full of chlorine.  It takes some effort, sometimes a lot of effort.  And, sometimes it’s a total HazMat level disaster.

On occasion, dating it’s an efficient way to fill the pipeline with a list of helpers for next winter’s home repair projects.  Tip: Date a master electrician, not someone whose first career was shoe sales, completed his mid-life crisis, and is now an electrician’s helper.

In Paying Attention, I described the perfect, mouth-watering first date  – the one’s we don’t want to end.  Those are dates that are sure to yield a second walk-on-the beach date, or a third date, called the  “Want to come over for dinner tomorrow?” date … Since I don’t cook, that luscious lure would be uttered by my date.

Most often, there are googolplex numbers of first dates that yield  – well, nothing.  There is no second or third date.  Indeed, there’s no second thought of a second date, or of the person after the first date ends.  They may not be horrible experiences, just not second datable experiences.

At lunch, my girlfriends and I generated a long list of reasons we wouldn’t go on a second date with a man… The items on the list were as varied as the women at the table.

Here are a few items on our “There Won’t Be a Second Date” list:

  • I was bored (this one’s mine)
  • It made me crazy when he continuously used verbal fillers like: “like,” “yea, yea,” “um,” “uh”
  • I couldn’t stand how he spoke with his mouth full
  • He talked only about himself / his car/ his ex …
  • He dressed like a slob
  • He dressed like an dandy
  • He dressed like an aristocrat
  • 50 +/- other reasons

During this rapid fire of idiosyncratic elimination factors, I offered,

“I didn’t like the way he smelled.”

Eureka!  We finally found one upon which we all agreed …  There were variations of this rejection criterion, but we concurred on the basics.  Sometimes, the possibility of a second date was determined by simple mammalian olfactory perception.

Spring is here.  Couples are everywhere.  Single women are dating in hopes they too might become one of the cute couples by summer.  And, this group of now-smarter baby boomer women have just replace the old adage, “Stop and smell the flowers “ with, “Stop and smell the man.

photo by kkirugi

A Perfect Breakfast©

A Story by Robert Deason

I was driving to my 35th college reunion and stopped for the night at a mid-range priced hotel that offers a free breakfast.  Whenever I spend long hours behind the wheel, I try to stay at places like this . . . but It is not really for the breakfast.  I have found that these hotels are almost always clean, comfortable, reasonably quiet, and most importantly, have a good shower.

Next morning when I went down for my free breakfast, I found that some folks from our parent’s generation (who were about to continue their bus tour) were just finishing up.  The room was small, and it was elbow to elbow at the coffee maker.  As I was waiting for my bagel to come out of the toaster, I struck up a conversation with Bernie.  He was dressed in what we would all think of as stereotypical fashion, bright plaid shirt, brighter Bermuda shorts, black socks and wing tips.  He also had on suspenders and a belt.

Remembering an old joke I said, “I see that you are a man who takes no chances.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, You’re wearing suspenders and a belt.”

A woman who was obviously his wife let out a sound that was a combination of a laugh, a whoop, and a yelp.  This had clearly been a topic of conversation prior to their exit from their room.  Thinking quickly, Bernie responded, “You know I’ve got to, or Maggie there will have my pants off me in no time.”  Stifled laughter escaped into the room, somewhat like a fuse being lit.  All ears were now trained in Maggie’s direction.  She put her hands on her hips, smiled sweetly and said, “Well what do you expect you big stud.”  The room exploded.  Everyone from the desk clerk to the bus boy joined in.  It was the best possible breakfast.  Belly laughs all around, with a side of tears.

Laughter is always good, but it went beyond that.  As our generation looks forward a few years, it is nice to know that humor, love, and passion are still ahead on the horizon.  And how will we dress on our senior citizen tours?  Cutoff jeans and sandals?  I think I’ll wear suspenders and a belt . . . and hope that I have a partner like Maggie who makes them necessary.

photo by bravenewtraveler

WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity.  He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman.  He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

             “ You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you. You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water … before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again – and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement … Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Reneeand Molki