Archive for February, 2013

Small things that are really great things…

I saw this sign in a sweet little coffee shop in Pasadena a few weeks ago.  I love the meaning of the words.  First of all I had to think about what it was that I would define as “great”.  What are the “great” things that we would consider, I guess I would think it would be great if I had the resources to rescue lots of dogs, or to maybe teach to women who were living in a shelter.  I think it would be great to travel the world and explore other cultures.  I think it would be great to donate my time and teachings to those who need assistance.  But what are the small things that we can do with great love?


Today I received a note from one of my students that read:

Dear Tammy,

Thank you for making my life sweeter.  I have grown in so many ways because of you!


Now I know what that short note meant to me and it made me realize that I forget the power behind sending someone a short note.  There is a greatness and a sweetness that comes when getting a handwritten note from someone you love and care about.


And it is a small thing, but done with love becomes so much greater.

So today let’s all think about what are those small things we can do to add value to another’s life.


Now go and do it!photo (53)

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Mondays with Melitas – February 25, 2013

MOTHER MASETTI’S                                                       FEBRUARY 25, 2013


For a number of years after Aunt Mae had purchased the cabin at Big Bear in 1933, we would travel up there as soon as the snow (b-r-r) was gone, and we would continue till after Labor Day when the place had to be secured against the snowy and frigid weather during the winter months.  Nobody went near it then.

We had a nice schedule for the drive from San Juan Capistrano — never in a rush.  Our cars were filled with clean sheets and linens which had been brought down the mountain dirty when we had closed it up; lots of food items because everyone developed a huge appetite in the high altitude.  Driving leisurely, of course, we drove east on Baseline in San Bernardino, then we took the road north leading up through Waterman Canyon to Crestline, and onto Lake Arrowhead, then to Big Bear at the east end of the Lake in a development called Peter Pan Woodland Club.

After leaving Baseline, we only drove a few blocks because then we had to slow down and make a left turn into a strictly residential area. This would be very leisurely because right in the middle of the block, we would stop and there was this one house which had been turned in to Mother Masetti’s Italian Restaurant. Now don’t ask me how you could have a place of business right in the middle of look-alike residential homes. The neighbors must have been very agreeable, and the food was ‘way above the norm.

Since we had been so “leisurely” packing the cars, it was not an early start, so when we arrived at Mother Masetti’s, it would be maybe around 1:00 PM  As you started up the steps to the front porch, Mother Masetti would come racing out to greet you.  I can see her now in my mind’s eye, standing with open arms, her reddish-bobbed hair, a huge smile, and speaking English with heavy Italian accent.

She was tall, top-heavy, if you know what I mean.  In this respect, she reminded me of Aunt Mae, except Aunt Mae was very trim in the rear department.  Mother Massetti dressed in plain cotton dresses, always with the apron.  She was the main cook, who put together all the delectable sauces, the main menu in fact; and during the serving hours there were servers in the kitchen to put up the orders, while Mother Massetti saw to it that all was in order and running smoothly — also being the ambassador of good will.

The home’s interior had been renovated to accommodate customers as a restaurant. The entire front of the house was now one big room where it had been the living room on the left, and the dining room, and on the right was where the master bedroom and bath had been.  On the left rear, the kitchen was still in place, but was enlarged by taking in the bedroom which had been on the right rear of the original home.        Flooring was the original hardwood, the furniture just plain wooden tables and chairs; and of course, the red and white checkered table cloths.

The food was to die for, and there was always lots of it.  I would usually have her spaghetti and meatballs, but everything on the menu was excellent.  Wine and beer were available — for those old enough. We all had a fun time while there because of the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone.

Lots of people knew about that off-the-beaten track place.  Movie stars, who spent time in LakeArrowhead, would stop in for the fabulous food, and it was bandied about that some customers were from the gangster set.

After our somewhat lengthy lunch, we would then get back on the road for the final leg of our journey to the cabin. I think there was method in all this madness because our group’s tummies would be quite full, and this meant when we arrived at the cabin, Aunt Mae and Mom would not have to get into their cabin work clothes — cotton dresses and aprons — and cook up a big dinner.  We had to be satisfied with snacks.

But that was okay.  We had been with our friend, Mother Massetti and had a great time with her.  She was one of a kind. And then we would stop there on our way home for more of her culinary delights. We always stopped there, going up or coming down off the mountain.


MELITAS FORSTER                                                    MONDAYS WITH MELITAS

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Before and after every race there are always three things that I do without fail.  The first one is that while I am in the runners corral waiting for the start I remember all that my “coach” has reminded me of and that I know I can finish.  The second thing that I always do is after the race my first phone call is to my “coach” Alba and I let her know my time, she always asks how I felt during the race and I give her the rundown on the course.  And the third thing that I always do sometime when I get the opportunity is to come over to her house and take a picture of us with my latest medal.  Yes, I do have 14 Coach Alba pictures with me!

Sometimes I even get Melitas in the picture, but not today…she was too busy munching away on her breakfast when I stopped by.  I don’t think she would have let me taken a picture of her in her pj’s, although she did look so cute!


So Alba, thank you for all that you have inspired me with.  I love that you believed in me enough to get me into running.  And I know the day will come when I will be ready for my first full marathon!  Now won’t that be an exciting picture!photo (51)photo (52)

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Pasadena…what a great adventure!

Sunday was the completion of my 14th half marathon in 14 months.  We traveled to the beautiful area of Pasadena, California.  Home of the Rose Bowl.  This race was especially fun because my daughter Kristen ran with me.  I think we have run about 5 together, now.  As I have said before, running is something that I love to do.  I love the feeling of waiting at the start and beginning the journey.  I love the nervousness I feel each morning of the race (actually, I don’t really love that part).  I love when you finally get past the first 3 miles and your body settles in to the pace you want to run at.  I love the friendly faces of the spectators cheering you on.  But most of all I love when you see the mile 13 marker and you realize you only have .1 left to run!  The relief you feel as you cross over and hear the crowd cheer for you.  But for me the best part is seeing my little dog waiting for me at the finish line!photo (49)photo (50)

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Mondays with Melitas – February 18, 2013

BEFORE & AFTER                              FEBRUARY 18, 2013



There it was, Valentine’s Day, and I was off to the Beauty Salon for my appointments with Sabrina and Gail.   The minute I walked in, Sabrina took one look at the pony tail, and shrieked at the top of her lungs:  “That pony tail has GOT TO GO!”  (see last week Checking in to  Beauty Shop Feb. 11, 2013)

I replied:  “Okay, okay, awright, awready, don’t panic.”  then I grabbed the cap off my head, and of course, the pony tail came right off with the cap. (Someone had given me that cap on my 80th birthday —  which was eons ago)

You know what I couldn’t believe?  Well, it was because some of you out there in my fan land who haven’t seen me lurking about for the past 6 months or so, really thought the pony tail was for real.

I climbed up into her haircut chair, and asked: “So what are we going to do today?”  She showed me with a few motions with scissors, and how she would poof it up.  So I told her to go ahead, after all, Sabrina is the artiste.  So away she went, snip, snip, cut, cut, and in no time at all it was done.  It felt a lot better, and looked even better.

That hair of mine was the longest it had ever been in my entire life.  When I was a kid, it was a bob with bangs.  ‘Most kids wore their hair that way, and I just kept on, while others changed the style to match the times.

Then it was time for Gail to give me the pedicure.  I went to her station, climbed up onto her “lounge” chair, took off my sandals, and she took one look at those nails.  I gotta hand it to her — she did not screech, but was just very quiet with a fake smile on her face.  She had the foot tub all ready to go with warm water and the jets on, and as she placed my feet in the tub, I could mind read every thought that was going through her brain.  I could tell she was secretly wishing that the jets would just grab my feet and suck them right on down the drain into the sewer pipes and end up ‘way out in the deep blue sea maybe as far as Hawaii, but not close to any ship lanes.  Then she could wash her hands of the whole scene.

She had to grin a little bit, and definitely had to bear it, away she went with the nippers, and the scissors, and the cuticle tool.  I kept saying “Ouw” as quietly as I could.  You can imagine how those toe nails had been doing their own thing – not only growing in length but also growing into the cuticle, maybe the skin, even the bone.  Ouch!

I lived through it, and when the toes were looking pretty spiffy once more, I sat there in the chair, Sabrina was having a lull so came over to join Gail and me. I had taken last Monday’s story “Checking into Beauty Shop” to each, and we laughed and scratched over the story, then just enjoyed one another’s company.  I didn’t get home until almost 5PM.  The Warden was just picking up the phone to call the shop. I had been gone since 2PM.  I would even begin to worry about myself at that point, but I enjoyed every minute. It was one of the nicest Valentine Days I have experienced in all those other 94.  (I shouldn’t make that statement because I can’t remember at age 1, 2, and maybe 3, and they may have been real hum-dingers.)

Someone out there in fan land wanted pictures of before and after, so here they are:  Before is last week’s picture with my pony tail cap (or if I am acting like Willie Nelson) then the After of the Hair, and After of the toes.)

As of this moment, have to tell you that I am sitting here trying to type this story  — at the usual 80 wpm — the time is 4:45 pm Sunday, and no cocktail has been set on the desk beside me, then I recall the Warden is moonlighting on a plumbing job in one of the drains, so I had to get up, and go back to being a Bartender.  I haven’t lost my touch, but I will keep it a secret.  I wouldn’t want to upset the Warden’s daily routine.

Here’s to more Valentine Days!




(unfortunately Melitas was unable to send pictures at this time!)

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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