I have a hugging hang-up. When the pandemic shut down our world over a year ago, my creative wheels kicked in, and I turned my garage into a funky “living room.” Why? Because I could. It’s a large garage, and there are no longer any cars parked in there. Due to the loss of my vision, I gave up driving, and when my husband Burt died, his car went to my kid brother, Paul.

With the help of Gina Nielsen, what had once been an ordinary boring garage suddenly became semi-cozy and extra-ordinary. With the garage doors open, there is more ventilation then is even necessary for safe socializing. There are comfortable chairs scattered around, area rugs on the concrete floor and a couple of electric heaters. Since last March, there have been over 50 visitors. (Many are “repeats,” so please don’t assume I have more friends than you do.)

During the holidays there were three small parties: Halloween and Christmas, plus a few people insisted on celebrating my New Year’s birthday. No group has ever exceeded nine or 10 people. I believe in being cautious.

As I write this, the garage is still cheerfully decorated for Christmas. Why not? Various people have added touches, but the best touch of all was created by my attorney and friend, Jeff Waarvick. Jeff made a hugging wall out of heavy-duty plastic with armhole cutouts. The full-length hugging wall hangs in a doorway between the garage and what was once a workshop. Lucky for me, my female friends do not mind sharing their husbands, so I can receive an occasional hearty male hug because of that protective plastic. Without exception, all visitors have worn a mask, stayed socially distanced and used the hand sanitizers scattered around. I can honestly say the pandemic has not been a hardship for me.

Most of the time I don’t do the inviting. My phone will ring with a voice asking, “Are you up for a visit?” This has worked out exceptionally well for a so-called hostess. People bring their own drinks and snacks and, since a gathering never lasts more than one or two hours, no one is traipsing in and out of the house to use the bathroom.

What I know for sure is that my cat, Purrfect, parks herself just inside the door to the kitchen where she sits muttering, “When are those people leaving so my mom will come in the house?”

Friends and family back east and in the Midwest know about my now-infamous garage. They tell me how fortunate I am to live here on the Oregon coast instead of where it has been 30 below in the wintertime. I do realize how blessed I am to live here, although having five lighted plastic Christmas trees (post Easter) in your garage might qualify a person for the Funny Farm.

The following day brightener just arrived from Mary Lou Mate, who probably felt inspired by last week’s column — the one about nuns on the run. Here it is:

• • •

Father O’Malley answered the phone. “Hello, is this father O’Malley?”

“It is!”

“This is the taxation department. Can you help us?”

“I will try.”

“Do you know a Ted Houlihan?”

“I do.”

“Is he a member of your congregation?”

“He is.”

“Did he donate $10,000 to the church?”

“He will!”

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to the Rotary International Foundation, is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at bobbisbeat@gmail.com.

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