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Sunday Journal: Generosity that goes around comes around — eventually

My friend Lolli is a weaver and a lover of all things textile. In our small town, she teaches weaving and brings in others to teach everything from dyeing and spinning to fibers and felting. During her off times, she travels to villages in Central and South America to help the women there set up weaving co-ops. She prints T-shirts for the town's nonprofits, and lets us have discounts for being nonprofit.

Lolli gives of herself totally and unselfishly and thus, things being as they are in this country, she has worked for more than 30 years without owning a home, acquiring health insurance or being able to look forward to a pension. She gets her cars from friends when they're ready to get rid of them, keeps them going until they are on their last mile, and then pushes them further.

This is not to say Lolli lives poorly. She lives abundantly and with great good humor. However small the rental, her place is filled with art, laughter and company. She puts on a dinner party for 15 the way the rest of us make morning coffee. Come tomorrow. Bring a dish. Her husband, Ron, grills fish Lolli bought at the wharf. Tables are put together and take up most of the room. They're set with a variety of colorful cloths and dishes. You sit down to a jolly feast with people you didn't know before but are happy to meet.

In April every year, Lolli hosts a birthday picnic. Everyone born that month is celebrated. There are blankets on the ground, huge homemade cakes and, for the testosterone-enhanced, potato cannon contests.

Driving home from class one night recently, Lolli hit a deer. This is not unusual around the area between Mendocino and Fort Bragg, Calif. Deer are as thick on the ground as palmetto bugs in Florida. If you hit one, nobody says, "poor deer." They say, "Anybody hurt?" and "How's your car?"

Lolli's ancient automobile did not fare well, but she managed to get it home. She had to leave the next day to go visit her 90-year-old mother. The mortally wounded car stayed behind, parked in front of her rented cottage, oozing fluids.

At the family gathering, she described her meet-up with the deer. One of the people listening was a nephew. This nephew, along with his sister, had lived in Lolli's tiny rental when they were growing up and, as we say about teenagers, having a hard time of it.

One night, the nephew took Lolli's one and only car out for a little road frolic and totaled it.

Now grown and a successful developer, he listened to the sad story of this latest car's demise. "Aunt Lolli, remember the night I rolled your car?"

She did indeed.

"Well, tomorrow we're going out and buying you a new one."

He was as good as his word. He asked Lolli what she wanted and she decided on a Subaru Outback. They found a gold one ready to go. Lolli said she couldn't live with a gold car. After more searching, they found one in a nice steel blue. The nephew paid with cash.

Which shows, I guess, that what goes around does indeed come around, however slowly, and not necessarily to bite you. Sometimes it comes around bringing a new car.

Lolli stopped by the house recently to deliver the T-shirts for our annual writers conference. I complimented her on the swank ride.

She laughed. "He's a developer. He has a lot of redeeming to do."

Norma Watkins divides her year between Miami and northern California. Her Web site is normawatkins.com.

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Sunday Journal: Generosity that goes around comes around — eventually 01/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:30am]
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