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ME for one! And I'll bet you do too, or you wouldn't be on this website!

In 2005 I joined a local chapter of the Red Hat Society, "The Ladies With Hat-i-tude."

I'm basically a shy person. I'm not much of a joiner. But after my husband's stroke, and moving one hundred and sixty miles from where we had lived the last thirteen years, I needed something for "me." So with that driving me, there I was, resplendent in my purple shirt and "red hat that doesn't go", knocking on the door, ready to meet a woman I had only met on line. I was immediately welcomed into the group for an afternoon of laughter, food and wine.

It was my kind of good time!

Since then I have joined the ladies for several outings

One Saturday afternoon in November of 2005, we gathered to sip wine and dip everything in sight in a cascading fountain of chocolate. There is something inherently therapeutic about wine, chocolate and gossip.

I climbed aboard an Amtrak train in September of 2006 for a day in San Francisco.

The Ferry Building and outdoor farmer's market were spectacular.

We couldn't get enough of the fresh produce. Many of the vendors gave out samples, and we tasted numerous olive oils and vinegars. The peaches were an easy sell after we tasted them---summer in every bite! We also came home with fingerling potatoes, green beans, asiago cheese bread, green onion bread, and since it was San Francisco, of course some sourdough loaves. We bought brownies and raspberry macaroons to munch on while walking about and people watching. We came back with our tote bags overflowing.

For details, go to [Link Removed]

February of 2007 was the occasion for another great afternoon with "the girls". At our "Queen Mum's" home, we sat down to an elegantly set antique dining table, beautiful with linen tablecloth and napkins, gold and white china, gold flatware and crystal wine glasses. Clam chowder, corn chowder and taco soup were on the menu, along with various salads, sourdough bread and butter, and the most delicious Black Forest Torte.

It was soon apparent to me that, perhaps for the first time since high school, I was desperately in need of "girlfriends." My search took me to a local on-line community forum in February of 2006. I discovered the Divas. I was intrigued by their offer of friendship and fun. I met up with a lively group of fifteen of them one night for my first ever Bunco game. Before the serious task of rolling the dice began, we spent about an hour over appetizers and wine, the conversation flowing freely. It was the perfect way to get to know each other.

In September of 2006 the Divas gathered again, this time at a winery in Lodi. After some serious (and not so serious!) wine tasting we retrieved our potluck contributions from the ice chests stored in the cars and set out our feast on the patio, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. Occasionally a stray duck wandered by on his way to the pond near the bed and breakfast that was operated by the winery. Again, food, wine and shrills of laughter punctuated the afternoon.

But my quest for fun and friendship was not over. Another group sprung up from the same on-line forum, the Classic Divas (for women of "a certain age.") We spent two successive nights meeting at a local coffee shop, all of us drawn by the need for female companionship. Pizza parties, movie nights, lunches, dinners and a monthly poker game soon cemented our friendships.

I probably never would have joined these groups without the impetus of my husband's stroke.

Sometimes life pushes us to journey places we never dreamed of going.

It's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but to slide in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming WOW . . . What a ride!"~Anonymous

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