Dad called me last night to remind me of the impending annual cookoff. This year the cuisine is casseroles. As you all know, the competition is fierce. It's a proud moment to take home the traveling trophy - a rolling pin. It's been a little over a year since Mom passed away. Dad is doing well - he's planning on retiring mid May. Of course, we're taking bets - the man is 79 & has planned retirement every year since he's been 70. I expect this year he'll actually do it - I think he's getting tired. While we chatted, Dad mentioned that he had baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday afternoon. The recipe said it would make 60 cookies & his turned out 58. "Close enough, Linda". Pretty darned close, Dad - most of us make big cookies. Dad did mention that next time he was going to add a bit of espresso flavoring to the cookies & use pecans instead of walnuts to the recipe. I had to laugh - a year ago my father had never baked a cookie in his life. Now he's experimenting & editing recipes to his tastes. I'm simply amazed at the grace with which he has handled Mom's end of life & life in general. If I live up to half of Mom & Dad's values & attain their love for life & each other, I know I will have led a good life.