Astonishing Riches: Diverse Gifts of Relationships

| By Janis Gingermountain |

The gifts my friends give and share! What a treasure house! My hope is that a little of each woman’s genius and generosity might rub off on me.

That’s Kath in the kitchen stirring sweetness, the perfection of a quiche or a breathtaking baked Brie with apricot sauce. Possessed of a Buddhist soul, Kath drives her elderly friend Ranny to contemplate apples at an outdoor stand. Pen (no pencil for her) poised, she finishes a crossword puzzle in an un-Buddhist ten minutes. She thoughtfully, regularly, meanders the ins and outs of local, state, and national politics, sharing the sorrow and looking for the hope.

Peek in on Reene Ann. Her creative soul leads her to fashion from-scratch vegan apple sausages, just because. She shows me how to roll tofu spring rolls or mozzarella balls. Whether it’s making a leather checkbook cover, reupholstering a chair, painting a picture, or sewing a dish towel sporting a family of brown bears, she is always on the lookout for a new experience of making.

Stop in at Diane’s farm. She embraces the earth. She cultivates Shiitake mushrooms, kisses llamas, and makes grape juice from her Concord grapes. Digging in the creek bed, she finds a sacred white arrowhead. Her crazy chicken Hector occasions a meditation on the meaning of life, and each rock in her creek holds an ancient story.

Make your way to the kitchen dreaming-place. Listening carefully and helping other women realize their dreams, Diann stirs her spicy red pepper soup or builds her layered Mexican dip. Cooking and discerning go together. “Have you ever thought of…” Or “I could give you some seed money to… ,” she muses to the woman with elbows propped on the counter. And first thing you know, the project is up and running.

One hundred and twenty countries and counting! Diana is just now off to Dubai, Sri Lanka, and southern India, barely having caught her breath from her Iceland trip. Cyprus is on her bucket list, and who knows how many other countries? Closely connected to all this adventuring are her gifts for photography, putting together gorgeous scrapbooks of her trips, and writing fascinating accounts.

It’s a miracle! Luckily for me, seven years ago, I found Katerina. She was offering writing workshops two long weekends a year in a rural retreat center. Each weekend I’ve gotten starts and finishes of several essays and poems. Great excitement! Besides her passion for writing, Katerina introduces us to her obsession with her native Greek culture, language, and cooking.

I am NOT a perfectionist, not even close. Maybe I wouldn’t even want to be. But Marcia and Judy are! Marcia, recently recovered from double knee replacement surgery, in 2016 finished building a 60-foot stone retaining wall on a path to her cabin. She topped it off by painting two little sleeping cabins, one forest green and the other golden gingko. Judy organizes and supervises the cemetery committee in her historic college town, keeping all the historical info on her computer. With her computer knowledge and creative edge she fashions for me the most beautiful cookbook-memoirs ever, four of them to date.

If I could only be like my friends, how much I would have learned, how much I would have accomplished, and how sweet life would be! On second thought, life IS pretty sweet with these amazing friends.


Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker