Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Best Friends, Special Friends

CeLinda and Deborah Kay 

In My Travels

Best Friends, special friends, precious friends. Friendships are one of my greatest joys for more reasons than I am going to list. Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They build you up, encourage you, push you, convince you and challenge you.  They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you. Friends do not assume the negative about you, they overlook your flaws, and they treat you with respect and kindness. You don't have to worry about stepping into potholes or walk on eggshells in true friendships. In most cases they would take a bullet for you, because it would be too painful to watch you get hurt. I actually write this blog to keep in touch with friends both distant and local.  I am grateful for each special relationship.  

Deborah Kay and her special friend Betty

This week I got to visit Deborah Kay in Dallas.  We have been friends since 7th grade where we sat next to each other in homeroom in school.   She has never judged me or hurt me.  She taught me to love popular music, she had a record player. She helped me in some classes and I helped her in others.  Her house was my home away from home. Her parents loved me like I was their own and her brother was/is like a brother to me.  Their children love me because the parents love me and I feel all warm when I am in that circle, all that to say I just had a great weekend.   I got to see almost everyone and play with grand babies and just relax in the loving warmth of honest friendship. I will never take that for granted.

Craig and the Smoked Chicken
Stuffed Pabalanos 

Dallas had perfect weather, I got to go barefoot and sit outside in the sunbeams.  I ate lots of meat, more than usual and I just might have some in my suitcase. I got to visit a niece, her husband and see her sweet and very smart children also.  I got to help Debbie's mom sort her closet some. (Remember I just did that for my aunt in California, this is a bit of a pattern that I really enjoy.)  I also got to spend a day at Dino World with Debbie's kids and grandchildren, that was lots of fun and of course there was knitting time while we watched a few movies. 

One of the movies was, Inside Out, an animated film about 9 year old Riley and the voices in her  head, her emotions sadness, anger, fear, disgust, or joy and how they affect her core memories.  I have often mentioned the voices in my head in a humorous way, speaking of just those emotions so I have wanted to see this film for a while.  In this film Riley's emotions reflect in her relationships like family, fun, honesty, athletics, and friendship.  Then one change can causes problems in the world around her and how she chooses to react in a challenging situation, but even after painful experiences she could rebuild her world. I thought it was a cute film with lots of heartbreak and hope.

We also saw the Imitation Game, a very interesting story about decoding messages in WWII and the building of the first computer.   There is so much sadness around that story that it was hard to watch; the judgments’ and intolerance of people who are different, in this case on the autism spectrum, brilliant, and gay. I would like to think things are different today but I have had many experiences that prove that is just not true. Too bad.

In the Kitchen

I have a Food Saver, a machine that vacuums’ the air out of special plastic bags made for that device and out of Ball canning jars, using Ball canning lids.   I was out of town for a week and before I left town I put three heads of Romaine lettuce in Ball jars and used the vacuum attachment of my Food Saver.  Today I had a beautiful salad for lunch with this lettuce.  It was perfect and crisp without any bruises.   I had seen this on You Tube ‘University’ and it really does work.   If your lettuce is going bad in the refrigerator this is another good reason for a vacuum machine for your kitchen. 

Weeks Until Football Season: 9/11/16  = 26 weeks

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mostly Knitting

Weeks Until Football Season: 9/11/16  = 26 weeks

Our Corner of Rose Hill:

On Mercer Island
photo by Bill Mohn 

This past week we had an exciting wind storm.  The region had wind gust in the 40 to 60 mph range. This photo was taken on Mercer Island near a friend’s house, and this little projectile was in our back yard.   There has been a lot to clean up.  While Bill was working in the yard he started a new project.  He planted these magnolias in the fall of 2014.  They will do better when the trees in front of them go down and they have more sunshine but they also are stunted because the deer want to eat them.  Bill had the trees covered with nets before and then had to take those down and was looking for another way to cover them.  This time he came up with an umbrella like framework and covered that with the net.  He was pretty excited about his creativity.  The trees will grow and at some point they won’t need the nets.  I think the wildlife will diminish when the construction project increases. 


We also had utility trucks in the drive for two days this past week locating each type of utility and spray painting everywhere.  Bill said they marked gas all the way down our driveway.  We tried to get natural gas 15 or 20 years ago and the bid was over $10,000.  So we got a propane tank instead and have a propane stove in the kitchen and propane to the gas log fire in the living room.   If we find out that gas was here all along we will be pretty amazed and a bit disappointed.

Special Guests:  Bill and I have guests all the time,  two or three times a week.  We consider each guest very special and love to have quality time with our friends.  The guest I want to mention now, loves to come to visit and wants me to tell the world (my blog) how special and smart and wonderful she is.   All of that is true and we are always honored when Lucy comes to visit.

after play time with Bill 

sorry this is blurry, these two just
don't hold still for a photo 

For Knitters, mostly: Just a Warning 

So many projects!  I was traveling and knitting and hanging out and knitting and cooking and knitting and anyway look at all the goodies.

Season 2015-2016 
Seahawks Scoreboard Scarf:  This was a fun way to mix to of my passions; football and knitting. I am so glad I did this in fingering weight yarn or it would have been ginormous. I had a skein of The Sheep’s Clothing and Avocado in my stash so I thought it was just perfect but those high scoring games blew that out of the water. In mid December I had to order more yarn and it took a while to get so I am just now finishing up the project.  There is a round of knitting in blue for each point the Seahawks scored and a round of knitting in green for each point the other team scored.  Each ‘game’ is divided by a silver lace row and when a game went into overtime there is a purl bump row so this scarf literally tells the score of each game in order.

Mix It Up Cowl: This was a very quick knit.   I needed something to go with my awesome new boots.  I got the boots as a Christmas gift and I LOVE them.  Now turquoise is my new favorite color. 

Otterly Fun Homework: This project was a homework assignment and I do like it, but it is ridiculously long.  The first try was 300 stitches and that was way to short so I cast on 500,  that was way to long.  I will make it again sometime and I will cast on 400 stitches,  that should be just right.

Taste the Fandom Mariner: This set of gradient yarn was just so many happy colors I had to do something with it.  It isn’t something I will wear a lot but it sure makes me smile to look at it.  

Of course there are other projects on my knitting needles and I am also working on a cross-stitch project.    I haven't done cross-stitch in years,  I think I quit doing cross-stitch projects as my eyes got worse but now that I have bionic lenses in each eye I am enjoying this art form again. 

Thank you for reading. I have so enjoyed your emails and messages back.   I love staying in touch with each of you.  

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hanging Around Home

·        ·         Weeks Until Football Season: 9/11/16    27

At the Movies:
Bill and I watch lots of movies,  We used to go to at least 2 a week,  we still go often but we also watch a lot at home.  This week one of the Movies we watched was "A Walk In The Woods”.  Travel writer Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) takes a long-lost old friend (Nick Nolte) for a hike along the Appalachian Trail.  We have a friend that is just about to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and so we decided this would be a good watch.  It was,  I laughed a lot, the scenery was amazing and the story was cute very entertaining. 

In The Kitchen:
I don’t really understand Face book.  I look at it to see what my friends are up to.  I ignore or change settings to not see post that upset my own personal sensibilities but I want the choice.  Every so often I realize I haven’t seen any post by this friend or that and I go looking and for whatever reason they just aren’t coming up in my “feed”.   Then sometimes what other people “like” shows up and this can be interesting but usually not so much.  However, when Face book tells me my mother and my friend PB agrees with the same thing I had to look twice because I just couldn’t imagine what the two of them had in common, actually they are both very talented artist.  Anyway, this story that caught my eye was about restaurants and what to not eat and where to not go and even how food is handled behind the scenes.  I have seen and read these before and I know there are good places to eat out there and I really do eat out sometimes but I just like to cook.  I don’t like the schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I have always preferred cooking for a crowd, I like cooking big.  We don’t buy tv dinners or frozen entrees, I make everything and then freeze our own entrée dinners, when lunch or dinner comes around often we choose from the freezer and have a nice hot, healthy portion of home cooked food.  There are many different videos on you-tube of preparing meals for the week, or meals for the freezer but I was doing this before you-tube was invented or probably before the creator of you-tube was born.  (just guessing about that one.)

This past week was a cooking week.  The freezer was low, actually empty.  I had defrosted it before my trip to California and Bill had eaten whatever I left while I was out of town.  Last Sunday we had planned on spending the day with one of the granddaughters and something came up and she was no longer able to come I was looking at a free day.  I walked the 2 miles to Costco and Bill picked me up when I was finished.   I marinated and then grilled what became 4- 1 gallon bags of chicken; 2 Italian and 2 sesame teriyaki, and 1 gallon bag of shrimp.  I also made 11 pounds of ground turkey meatloaf mix.  I put 3 cups of this into a 1 quart size freezer bag and when I need meatloaf I get out how many bags I need for the amount of people coming.   I also use this same mixture for several other recipes; I will include a couple of them today, so we don’t just eat meatloaf all the time. Monday I made 4 more quart bags of turkey taco meat for the freezer and two pans of enchiladas.  Tuesday I made an extra large tuna casserole, one of Bill’s favorites.  Later in the week I made over 100 cups of Mexican Rice and an extra large casserole of chicken enchiladas.   I did lots of vegetables to go with these and froze everything in portions for future meals.  We also had guests for dinner Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  This is not really unusual for us, we love entertaining and visiting and at home it is quiet and we can hear each other talk,  I don’t spend all my time in the kitchen, but if I did it wouldn’t matter, the table is in the kitchen.  We both love spending quality time with our friends and family.   Our “diet plan” is mostly moderation.  We eat very little sugar because I am diabetic and we choose mostly organic, ‘clean eating’.  Bill doesn’t like beef as a personal thing.  Saturday evening I made barley and vegetable soup, quinoa Greek salad and a Brussels sprouts, kale and white bean salad that made our vegan guest very happy, and I was able to freeze enough soup for another meal.

If you want to cook once and eat several times here are some recipes:
My Meatloaf for the Masses  

4 pounds ground turkey (it comes in a 4 pack at Costco)
1 pound of ground pork (like sausage meat, no seasonings) if you don’t eat pork just leave this out or add
     another pound of turkey
1 cup each of diced onion, celery and carrots 
    (I get the package of mirapox at Trader Joe's, but it is easy to dice your own) 
1 cup diced peppers (any color)
5 cloves of garlic, minced 
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil 
2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or grey salt 
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper 
2 Tablespoons  spicy brown mustard 
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup fresh parsley,  diced up (I forget this one more than I remember, but it is good)
4 eggs
1 cup instant mashed potatoes, dry 
6 slices of bacon  (I usually don't do this part)

I usually just top with Ketchup about 20 minutes before the meatloaf is done, or not

 Place all the meat in a large bowl add the parsley to the meat. 

 Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, celery, carrots, peppers cook about 3 minutes then add the garlic and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft.   Remove from heat and set aside.

 To the onion mixture add: salt, pepper, mustard and tomato paste, combine well and add to the meat mixture along with the 4 eggs.  

 Use your 'clean' hands to stir, mix and combine the meat with the vegetables.  Sprinkle the instant dry potatoes over the mixture and finish mixing.  Do this well, but don't overdo it.  My mom told me that was bad to do,  I have no idea why.....  

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Use 3 cups of this mixture in a meatloaf pan.

Cut the bacon slices so that you can layer them on top of the meatloaf. 

 If you don’t want to do the bacon,  wait till the meatloaf has cooked for at least and hour and then ‘ice’ the meatloaf with ketchup.

 Place the pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, (for the mess)

Bake 1 and 1/2 hours  and check the internal temperature with a thermometer,  it should be 160 degrees F.

 Let it rest a few minutes before you serve it to let it absorb some moisture.   Then pour off any excess fat.   Do not pour this down your sink,  it will totally clog the drain.    Use an empty can, like the tomato paste.  When it cools throw it in the garbage. 

Slice and serve.

I usually make a double recipe of this and I put 3 cups of this mixture in quart size zip lock bags.    Then I can use the same mixture in a lot of other recipes including:   Moroccan Spiced Patties,   Tacos,  Shepherd’s pie,   and  Sloppy Joe’s.                    

  recipes to follow……

Moroccan Spiced Meat Patties  - serves 4-6
Reserved Meat-loaf mixture from my Meatloaf for the Masses.  (3 cups)
2 medium carrots, grated  = 1 cup grated carrot
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
 In a large bowl,  combine all the ingredients except the oil.  Mix well.  Make 6 patties,  or smaller one if you want.   Heat half the oil in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until golden,  8 minutes per side. 
 Delicious with Cous-Cous  Salad w/ mint

Shepherd’s Pie
3 cups frozen meat-loaf mixture 
1-2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, diced 
1 - 16 ounce bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or Italian seasoning for a different flavor) 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
1 -  18 ounce jar of beef or chicken or turkey gravy (just depends on what you like) 
    I make my own with homemade chicken broth, thickened
4 to 5 cups of mashed potatoes   (left over,  made from fresh or instant) 
    I make a big pot of these and freeze them also.   Mashed sweet potatoes are great too.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
Saute the meat-loaf mixture in 1-2 tablespoons of oil,  add 2 cloves of diced garlic to mixture.  
Add the mixed vegetables to the pan then add the salt, pepper and seasonings,  
Add the gravy and simmer a couple of minutes.
Transfer this mixture to a 2-3 quart casserole dish and top with the mashed potatoes.  (be as decorative as you like)
Sprinkle with a dash of paprika for color.  
Bake 25-30 minutes or till thoroughly heated.  Let Stand 5 minutes before serving. 

Let me know how these work out for you, if you try them

Next week there will be a lot about knitting....... 

Thank you for reading. I have so enjoyed your emails and messages back.   I love staying in touch with each of you.  

 I announce each new post by bcc email.To subscribe or unsubscribe from these emails, write me at and I will take care of it.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

 Many museums around the Puget Sound region offer monthly free days.  The ‘First Thursday’ is what it is most often referred to.   I keep it on our calendar as a recurring event each month but often our schedules conflict and we miss a golden opportunity,  but not this month.   March 3, was the First Thursday and it was a perfect day for an outing.  Bill and I decided to go to MOHAI – The Museum of History and Industry.  There are several exhibits that are permanent including; Maritime Seattle,  Bezos Center for Innovation and True Northwest the Seattle Journey.  Each one was very interesting and pointed out more reasons I love the Northwest.

Stitches West Update:  Between February 18 and February 21 over 11,000 knitters came from all over the world gathered in Santa Clara California for one of the largest knitting conventions in the world.   I flew into San Jose on the 17, picked up my rental car a few groceries and got situated in my “extended stay hotel”.   I was at the Convention Center before 9:30 the next morning for the Opening Day Address.   In Short, it was about designing knitted garments.  It was interesting and exciting to see what the 4 designers came up with.  Then it was on to the Teachers a la Carte Luncheon where we got to meet about 10 of the class teachers and they explained their classes.  I had signed up for two classes all ready and I enjoyed one of them  so much that I signed up for another class by the same teacher.  After lunch I headed right to my first class: Scallops: They’re Not Just for Dinner.  This was the class I enjoyed so much that I signed up for another. 

I have been knitting shawls this year.   I love the different designs and shapes and that you can use one or two beautiful skeins of yarn.  They make wonderful gifts and they don’t have to fit.   The class choices I made had to do with shawl shaping and short rows.  In the Scallops class we made beautiful curved shapes, the next class called Plug it in, Plug it in addressed design even more along with math and shaping.  The third class I took was not until Saturday afternoon and it was also about short rows with a different teacher.    I could have taken these classes two or three years ago and not been ready to learn or remember much of the material but this year my brain was all over learning some new tricks.   I can’t wait to make the stockinette bib I have made so many of before and see how they turn out with my new bag of tricks to try.   My class on Thursday was over at 5pm and the most exciting event was yet to come but before that all the attendees were gathering in the lobby of the convention center, there was a designated area for “Swappers” to meet.   Swappers is a group on Ravelry that Peggy Baxter (pbaxter on Ravelry) either organized or had a whole lot to do with and it was so much fun.   The last time I was at Stitches I noticed the ‘swappers’ and ask a few questions so when I made plans to go this year I looked for the thread on the Stitches Ravelry pages and there it was.  

Raincoats & Umbrellas 

To prepare for swapping they suggest you make between 75 and 100 stitch markers and I made 150.  They were so cute I was hoping to gift a few sets later.  I had a lot of fun making the stitch markers even though the work is much more hand intensive than knitting.  I learned not to work for three hours at a stretch.  After all the swapping was done I had a bracelet full of new, unique and beautiful stitch markers and a few special progress keepers also.

Many people have asked me if I sell stuff; my art, my knitting, my yarn, and the answer is yes but I do not take orders.  If I have something that interest you let me know.   I am going to have more stitch markers than I can use and I will be selling some of them.  Eventually I will have a show, of sorts, on this blog of other things for sale and I have sold a lot of yarn through Ravelry where it is listed for knitters to find.  If it is not listed for sale, just ask me,  I might sell it anyway.

My Goodies 

Back to Stitches:  The Student Market Preview was on Thursday evening.  The whole market of vendors was open only to Students.  There are literally hundreds of vendors of everything knitterly.  I went in with very good intentions and I came out with my arms full.  I was so excited to see some cute little hat kits for children that were of holiday inspiration.  I had not seen them before and I grabbed up a few.  I was wearing my new turquoise cowboy boots my Mom got me for Christmas and I seemed to gravitate towards turquoise everywhere I went.   In the end I came home with some very nice treasures.

The Rest of the Trip:  I will say this was the lowest amount of knitting I have accomplished in ages because I was taking classes, doing class assignments and all the driving.  I have some things to block and will talk about them when they are really finished. 

After Stitches I drove north to San Francisco to have lunch with a dear friend.  We are in pretty regular contact by telephone and email but I had not seen SB for almost 10 years.  We had both gotten older which in my book is a good thing.  SB sent me very detailed driving instructions for how to get to where we were going to meet up.  It was the scenic route.  I felt like he was in the car with me telling me about all the sights;  including a tour through the Palo Alto VA hospital where he had worked then a pastoral area and just where he said to look for wildlife the traffic was stopped while several deer grazed on the edge of the road.  

I saw the Stanford Radio Telescope and Robert’s Market along the way,  it was a beautiful drive and I ended up near Golden Gate Park where we spent some time walking around before we went on to where he works now.  SB gave me a tour of the entire VA Medical Center – San Francisco.  It was heartwarming to see how well respected the vets were on that campus.  I heard “thank you for your service” so much it almost made me tear up.  One of SB’s friends even said to me personally, “thank you for supporting a vet” when we were introduced.  I never even thought of that, he is just my friend.  I actually walked so much that day it was the first time I had reached my step goal since getting over bronchitis.   SB also gave me three pages of maps for getting out of town,  taking me by cute schools and beautiful parks and interesting businesses up the hill to his apartment where I stopped to take a photo of his view and then onto the freeway south through Gilroy (the Garlic Capitol) and from there south and west over towards the coast.

I had been to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea before but not further south.  SB says everyone should see Big Sur and so I did.    I drove south on this long and winding road, isn’t there a song for that?  When I saw the sign for Big Sur State Park I started wondering what Big Sur was; rocks in the ocean like in Oregon?  A geyser? A Cave?  So I turned the car around at the next lookout and went back, turned into the state park and drove all through it.  I figured out Big Sur is like the road to Hanna, which I have only heard about.  It is a beautiful drive with very winding roads.  You drive at 15 to 30 miles per hour on the edge of a mountain cliff that plunges into the ocean and you continue on this drive for about 6 hours. I really want to go back and stay at the Treebones Resort;  for a few days to take time to hike and enjoy the view.   Big Sur made me long for the days I was riding motorcycles, it was a perfect road for cruising on a bike.

After Big Sur and before Monika I also had very nice visits with my Uncle Ray, my Aunt Jeanne and cousins Jan and Mark and his family.  I had an excellent adventure. 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What A Wonderful Day 

Wow,  so much has happened recently.  I will start with the last first.   Bill and I just got home from California.  Bill’s trip was very short.  He flew in Friday evening, February 26, and we flew home Sunday February 28th.  It was a dream trip.  With my health issues my travel is limited.  I have to manage my sleep, my temperature; too warm or too cold, and minor stresses like enough time for connections and eating when I need too.  All these seemingly little things when out of balance can cause an Addison Crisis and even though I do carry injectable emergency meds with me it is better not to have to use them, once an ‘event’ starts the meds don’t necessarily stop it without emergency room intervention.   All of that to say traveling to Europe is “not in my network”.   I know some people with Addison ’s disease manage this but I seem to be one of the people who have more difficulty maintaining balance.  
In early January I got an email from Monika that changed everything.   Monika is the very first ‘young woman’ that I invested my heart in.   Bill and I had learned that we could not have babies by the mid-80’s and we had been rejected by adoption programs for similar reasons, both our hearts were broken but we were still looking for the positive side.  We had a high school girl, neighbor helping us at home with a few things and she happened to be living with her aunt for a year.  She was from Austria.  Astrid told us there were many young people who wanted to come to America to study their English.   Astrid helped us to get connected to the people who set these things up and by fall of that year we had Monika living with us.
Monika was very mature for her age and she and I got along great.   We took her everywhere and introduced her to all our friends and family.  She became family.  Monika was 19 when she left us and she came back to visit us once since then, she had just turned 40.  Now she is getting close to 50 with a wonderful partner and 2 grown children.   They were making an amazing holiday; first to California; Hollywood, the beaches and even the Grand Canyon, then on to Hawaii, the Big island and Maui.  On the return from Hawaii they had a day layover in Los Angeles and that is where Bill and I come in.   We were going to get to meet her family and spend the day with them. As it turned out the kids were both very sick with the flu, they had been to the doctor and gotten Tamaflu but both were sleeping soundly and they still had the very long flight home to Europe.   We had coffee and talked to Anna, Monika’s partner and then she choose to stay at the hotel with the kids in case they needed something.   We took Monika and her luggage with us and the plan was for them to meet up at the airport later.

The weather was beautiful and we wanted to do something fun and interesting while we were together.   Monika and her family had already done and seen a lot, so I suggested the La Brea tar pits.   My cousins had taken me here years ago.  I remember my Grandmother was still alive and with us that day.   It is truly an ice age fossil, they have been digging in the area for years and years and every day they find more amazing bones from the animals that have lost their lives trapped in the tar.  The museum has put together many of the bones and there are woolly mammoth, large saber toothed cat, and giant sloth on display along with animals that are still alive today.  There is one wall with over 400 skulls of wolves; being a dental hygienist I could have looked at that one wall for hours, checking out the size and shape of the skulls and teeth, what teeth were sharp, worn or missing.   The paleontologists  then find small bones in the teeth and stomach of these animals telling us what each of their last meals were and even seeds of the plants they had eaten.  They have collected these seeds and others similar and planted gardens around the pits and museum to show what the area must have looked like over 11,000 years ago. 
This was all very interesting but really it was the backdrop for a wonderful few hours with Monika, hearing about her family, her work, and her life.  She is a beautiful person and we always knew this.   It was interesting to hear their experience with medical doctors in the US compared to Germany and their shocking reaction to the cost of medications.   We also talked about politics in the United States and how people from other countries are watching this election and whether or not they have the desire to travel here.  

Before we knew it the day was over and we had to take her to the airport to meet up with her family for the flight home.   It just left a deep longing in my heart for her.  I wish we could get together for family dinners.  I wish she could see my nieces all grown up.   I wish she could meet Tamara and Christopher.  I wish we could have meet her kids and spent time with them,  maybe they will come to see us someday and know that they are loved also, but mostly I am grateful,  what a wonderful day.