Monthly Archives: February 2012

London Pride

 

St Paul's Cathedral

The undamaged St Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by smoke

If you have read any of my earlier blogs you will know that I was born and brought up in London during the Second World War.

It is a well-documented fact that London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights in 1940/41 and more than one million houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 20,000 civilians were killed.  We had an aunt who went to visit her sister and after the air raid warning sounded decided to spend the night.  A very lucky decision because the next day when she and her daughters returned home, they found their house razed to the ground.

So I grew up surrounded by bombed sites where houses used to stand and I thought nothing of it.  I really thought everybody lived this way.  Well, I was only a few months old when the war started and seven when it ended in May 1945.

All through these bomb sites, a little flower grew.  Well, it grew like a weed and while it did have a Latin name – Saxifraga –  it was quickly renamed London Pride.  It came to represent the pride and the unstoppable nature of Londoners at the time.   Noel Coward wrote a song about it.  Coward later said that the song came to him when he was sitting on a railway station in London.   He looked about him and saw the flowers and the people going about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening and he became “overwhelmed by a wave of sentimental pride”

London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be……..

It is very sentimental and very outdated now.  But at the time it was a rallying song for Londoners during the dark days of the Blitz when people were mourning the loss of husbands, sons, family members and their homes.

And now I must admit that I love Noel Coward.  I have a couple of biographies and know the words to most of the songs he wrote.  Another great favourite is “I’ve been to a marvellous party” but that has to wait for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Handsome Man in the World

I have written before about my love of words and poetry.  In an earlier blog I talked about some of my favourite poets.  Among them were Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling.

At school we had an English teacher (Miss English by name) who was reputed to have been engaged to Rupert Brooke the poet who wrote:

IF I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
There shall be  in that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,        
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less  
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

W B Yeats (the Irish poet) described Brooke at the Most Handsome Man in the World.  Photos show that possibly was correct at the time, although of course, as years pass thoughts on handsome and pretty change.

Rupert Brooke

via Wikipedia

At school we took at face value the story of the engagement and the marriage that never came to be because of the death of Rupert Brooke.

However, I recently came across a book about Brooke at the library entitled Rupert Brooke, Life, Death and Myth.  I learned that he was educated at Rugby where his father was a housemaster and then went on to win a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge where his uncle was the Dean.  Here he read Classics followed by English Literature and became involved with the Marlowe Dramatic Society where he met such luminaries as Virginia Woolf.  Woolf described him as:

 ” . . .all that could be kind and interesting, substantial and good-hearted . . . he had such a gift with people, and such sanity and force . . .”

And it was this gift with people that found him a member of the large group of intellectuals and writers that Woolf named ‘The Neo Pagansand it was in this group that Brooke became ‘enchanted’ with a young woman Noel Olivier.

Brooke fell in love with the 15-year-old Olivier when he was 20, but it appears that the love was not reciprocated.   Noel Olivier kept their letters but she steadfastly refused to have them published until after her death.  The letters were  then published by Pipi Harris under the title Song of Love.  They show an exchange filled with  romantic longing, self-reflection and  self-discovery.   Brooke discusses his depression, makes threats of suicide and writes of a love affair with Katherine Cox, whom he rejected as “unclean” after she responded to his sexual advances.  He becomes angry,  possessive, whining and insecure while Olivier is feisty, more level-headed and determined to pursue her career in medicine.  She rejected his proposal of marriage which perhaps played a part in his subsequent physical and mental breakdown.

He was most definitely a confused young man.  There are tales of his involvement in  the homosexual Cambridge secret society “the Apostles”.  Of course, at the time homosexuality and bi-sexuality were not admitted to by polite society, and so addicted to secrecy, he was loved by both men and women, and was himself highly sexually ambivalent.

So in all of this I now (some 60 years later) reject the claim that our Miss English was engaged to be married to The Most Handsome Man in the World.  But oh how it made our teenage hearts beat with sorrow for this couple and the woman doomed to live out her spinster’s life dreaming of what might have been.

Incidentally, this woman introduced me to the great poets of England and elsewhere and I while  Rupert Brooke has fallen from favour over the years I still enjoy reading his poetry.

Roses

Another Award

“The older you get, the more awards you get. So, if you live long enough, then you get all the awards eventually.”
Kirk Douglas

sunshine blog award

My friend Dor at Technicolor Day Dreams has nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award for which I thank her.

This is the first time I have received this particular award.  We are told that it  is supposed to be given to “bloggers who are inspirational, and who have impacted your blogging or your life.”   Wow!  How’s that for giving one a warm and fuzzy feeling?

Of course, each award comes with certain requirements.  This one has questions to be answered:

Favourite colour:  
Favourite animal:
 
Favourite number:

Favourite non-alcoholic drink:

Facebook or Twitter?
My passion:
Getting or giving presents?
Favourite pattern: 
Favourite day of the week:
Favourite flower:

I have waxed lyrical told my feelings on these awards in the past.  And as usual I shall respectfully  manipulate change the rules to suit me.

  • Why anyone would be interested in my responses to these questions is a mystery to me and therefore, gracefully decline to answer them.
  • I nominate all of the bloggers in my blog roll for this award.

Once again I trust that I am not upsetting anybody with this post.  I am overwhelmed by the number of people who read and like my posts,  the number who faithfully follow, those who comment and those who so generously nominate me for these awards.  Thank you all, sincerely.

Rainbow

My rainbow

  • Awards (growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com)

I’m Not The Only One

“When Solomon said that there was a time
and a place for everything he had not
encountered the problem of parking
an automobile.”
Bob Edwards

On Tuesday I wrote about my computer and how easily my son got the sound and the second monitor to work.  Thanks to all of you who told me that you have done some other daft things.

Well I thought I would tell you about another thing.  Years ago, shortly after my (not now so) dashing young Scotsman died I lived with my son and his family for several months.

One night, while daughter in law was making dinner, I went off to meet my son from the train.  A simple task you say?  What could happen in a 2 km drive?

Well, unbeknownst to me during the day a huge load of top soil had been delivered to the railway parking area.  There were no lights – it is a small community where they live and so a small, unmanned station.  Well, you guessed it.  I drove into the pile of soil.

The train arrived and my son was greeted by his mother and her tale of woe.  He tried to reverse the car without success and so he suggested that we go over to the gas station where we  knew the owner, and borrow his van.  This was quite old and used for run around jobs.  The gas store owner was delighted to spring to the help of a damsel in distress.

So now there are three of us – the owner thought he could tow my Toyota Corolla out of the pile, but miscalculated and somehow ended up with his van stuck in the pile of earth.

So my son, who had a 6 litre Ford something at the time, took off on foot to get his car.  He eventually arrived and did his best to tow out the stranded vehicles but again without success and again, managed to strand his car in the soil.

Even all those years ago my son and I each always had our cell phones with us, but neither of us had them that night.  So three sheepish people made their way back to the gas station to call the AA who eventually turned up and rescued all three vehicles.

Embarrassing? Yes, bus a great story to tell over the next few days.  And dinner – well fortunately my daughter in law hadn’t started to cook the steak when I left so all was well.  But the little boys were in bed when we got back and so their father missed out on the usual bedtime ritual.

My Lot is Cast

Those of you have read some of my earlier blogs will know that I have two very dear sisters.  One lives in London, UK and one in Los Angeles, California.  We keep in touch by phone and of course, emails.  Emails are always addressed to both sisters on the other side of the world.

Phone calls are rather more rare but it is great to hear their voices.  Recently after several many futile phone attempts I connected with my American sister.

We of course, discussed many things but we always without fail, discuss books we have read and those we hope to read.  Because at that time, I had just finished reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 I was full of this book.  Others have written great reviews of it so I wont do so here.  Maybe an idea for another blog?

My sister is a prolific reader and she shared several of her favourite authors and  books she had read with me.

She is apparently very fond of Nicola Upson’s series about detective Jacqueline Tey.  She quoted one of her favourite poem’s which came from the book “To Love and Be Wise.

“My lot is cast in inland places,
Far from sounding beach
and crying gull,
And I
who knew the sea’s voice from my babyhood
Must listen to a river purling
Through green fields
And small birds gossiping
Among the leaves”.

I don’t live in inland places – the ocean is about 10 minutes drive away, but I miss the sights and sounds of the ocean that I used to see from all the windows of my home.  It seemed that we were surrounded by the sea and it’s activities. For 15 years we lived in that house.  The children spent their teenage years there and we became almost immune to the fantastic views from most windows.  We could see not only the ocean with all its comings and goings (cruise ships, ferries, barges and tugs for the port)  but the planes landing at the airport, and the trains bringing people and goods into our capital city. So maybe this post should be headed “Trains and Boats and Planes”.

And as in this poem, now I don’t hear the crying gull when I awaken in the morning but I do hear the small birds gossiping among the leaves.  I love the thought of the birds gossiping.

I hear the sounds of busy families getting ready for their day – households waking up, newspapers being brought in, children going to school and parents to work.  The road outside my house is alive with activity for a short time each morning and then, as if a switch has been pulled, the peace descends and only those of us who are no longer living the busy years are left behind.

We have time for another leisurely cup of coffee; time to exchange pleasantries with our neighbours as we retrieve the newspaper from the drive; time to read the newspaper, complete the crossword and as I am getting older, I peruse the death notices just in case there is somebody I know mentioned there.

And so –

My lot is cast
In different places
Not beside the river or the ocean
But in the city with its life and vitality.
Not in the distant years of my youth
Nor the busy years of family life
But the peaceful years of time for me
To enjoy friends and family.
Time to investigate new things
New activities and new friends
Time to be me.

,old lady smoking cigar

Dumb and Dumber

One of my cardinal rules is I never allow anybody to put me down, but just occasionally I do something very odd strange daft that even I begin to wonder about me.

I have complained since before I had my accident and my leg in a plaster, that I had no sound on my computer and that the second screen didn’t work.  My son, the computer nerd (does my son the doctor sound better?) who’s so very busy has taken until now to get around to looking at the computer and sorting it out for his mother.

A Round Tuit

Never again will he have an excuse because he now has a round tuit

I arrived home from the hospice on Thursday to find my son and his youngest son in the house, with my son listening to a cricket match on my computer.  When I asked what he had done to make  the sound and the second larger screen work, he replied “I plugged it in”.  Apparently when I  moved the computer around some time ago, somehow the larger screen had become unplugged and apparently this is what also houses the sound for the computer.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, I don’t look anything like Marilyn but I do like her quote

Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?
As “Lorelei Lee” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

As an aside (and a random thought) my sister once told a man at an hotel swimming pool “She’s the pretty one but she’s not very bright”.  Can you believe that my older sister would say that about me?

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and if you didn’t receive a Valentine’s card please accept this one

Valentine card

Antique Valentine’s card via Wikipedia

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world, but without the bonus of having a day off work.  How do you celebrate this day?  Do you give and receive gifts or is it just another day?

I have a friend whose birthday is today and as with my niece whose birthday is in 2 days time, she probably thought that all the flowers, hearts etc were to celebrate her birthday when she was little.

And another funny from my sister in LA (sent to her by her Australian friend).  Not really a blonde joke but close.

A young woman was pulled over for speeding.
As a policeman walked to her car window flipping open his ticket book, she said “I bet you are going to sell me a ticket to the Policeman’s Ball”
To which he replied “New Zealand Policemen don’t have balls”
There was a moment of silence while she just smiled and he realised what he had said.
He then closed his book, got back into his patrol car and left.
She was laughing too hard to start her car.

Butterfly

Photo – Ed Dear

Monday Meandering

Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London).
Alfred Noyes, The Barrel Organ

I received an email from my sister in Los Angeles asking if I remembered the day that a neighbour’s lilac tree fell down.  She went on to say how she remembered the neighbour commenting that she was unaware how dark her kitchen was – over the years, the bush had completely covered the window, and suddenly there was sunlight in the room.

Lilac

This set me off on thinking about lilacs and immediately I remembered the song “On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady.  This was a great hit in the late 1950s (Oh I know that was long before most of you were born but bear with me).

“Are there lilac trees in the heart of town
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live
click here
to see the video from the original movie

Then I was off thinking about other musicals that I saw in those dim dark off days.

Carousel posterA particular favourite was “Carousel”.  This is the story of Billy Bigelow, a carousel barker and his romance with Julie Jordan, a millworker.  They marry and when he discovers that Julie is pregnant and he is about to become a father he sings the famous soliloquy  “My boy Bill.  Then when realises that he can’t provide for Julie and the baby he attempts a robbery to do so; it goes wrong and he kills himself rather than spend the rest of his life in jail. Some fifteen years later he has the opportunity to return to earth and sees his Julie and her daughter one time.
A secondary storyline has Julie’s friend Carrie falling in love with and marrying Mr Snow a fisherman.

Carousel was made into a movie in about 1956.  So of course, I went to see it too.

Other well known (and remembered by some of us)songs  include:

  • “When the Children Are Asleep””
  • “(When I Marry) Mister Snow”
  • “If I Loved You” – Listen here to this song
  • “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”
    “Soliloquy” –
  • “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’?”
  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Pajama GameThen I thought of “The Pajama Game“.  Great memories of this musical.  My dashing-young-Scotsman and I had just announced our engagement (August 1957) and to celebrate he took my parents and me  to the St James Theatre (in London of course) to see this musical. We had a box at the theatre, one of the only times for me and I thought us very grand.

A memory of that night has surfaced.  We all arrived  home to find that my young sister had been carted off to hospital having had an accident on her bicycle.  No cell phones to call with the news then; we had to wait to get home when my grandparents (or was it my older sister) gave us the news.  Note here – we all have hard heads and she was discharged into Mother’s care that night.

The story is set in a factory producing pajamas.  The employees want a rise of 7.5 cents an hour and a strike is imminent led by Babe.  Sid, a new superintendent comes to the factory and these two are on opposite sides of the story.

Yes, you’ve guessed it.  After several false starts and hiccups, they fall in love.

So many great songs came from that one including the very popular “Hey There” sung by Canadian, Edmund Hockridge.  Here’s a version of the song sung by Harry Connick jr – sorry I couldn’t find a YouTube version by Edmund Hockridge.  This one is great too.

Other songs included :

  • “I’m Not At All in Love”
  • “Hey there”
  • “Once a Year Day”
  • “Steam Heat”
  • “There Once Was a Man”
  • “Small Talk”
  • “Hernando’s Hideaway”
Kismet

Imasge via Wikipedia

I saw Kismet – meaning fate or predestined course – the story of a poet and his daughter.  The poet enters the mosque to sell his verses but without success.

His beautiful daughter Marsinah is then sent to steal oranges in the Bazaar for their breakfast, while her father sits down to beg with three others.  When the beggars object the poet claims to be a cousin of Hajj a beggar who has travelled to Mecca. However, Hassen-Ben, a  man from the desert, mistakes him for Hajj and kidnaps him. The poet (who is referred to as Hajj thereafter) is taken to a notorious brigand. It appears that some years before the real Hajj had placed a curse on the brigand that resulted in the disappearance of the brigand’s little son. Now he wants the curse removed.

Of course, there are stories within stories.  Wazir a merchant must have the Caliph marry one of the princesses of Ababu or he will be ruined.  But the Caliph, masquerading as a commoner, has seen Marsinah and is determined to marry her.  As you can imagine, all turns out well in the end for the couple.
Two great songs from this one are:

  • Baubles, Bangles and Beads
    Stranger in Paradise

Click here for Tony Bennet’s version of this wonderful song. Note – after posting this blog I found this lovely version of Tony Bennet singing with Hedy Lamarr’s pictures.  Just fantastic.

The King and IAnd finally, The King and I.  Who hasn’t seen the movie but I saw the stage show.

We all know the story, based on the book “Anna and the King of Siam”.  Anna goes to Siam to be the Governess to the King’s children.

The well-known scene of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr dancing to “Shall We Dance” was supposed to be the governess’s way of describing western love to this eastern potentate.

Anna and the King disagree over the fact that she and her small son are expected to stay in the palace while her contract stipulates a separate house.  This is the ongoing conflict between the two.  He also objects to the way in which she is teaching the children.

Their attraction to each other is evident throughout but of course, nothing can come of it.  We later see that after various other trials and tribulations Anna is packed and ready to board a ship leaving Siam forever when a letter is brought from the King who is dying.  Anna hurries to his bedside and forgives him.

So all works out well once again!

And the songs from this musical:

  • Hello Young Lovers
  • Shall we Dance?
  • I Whistle a Happy Tune
  • We Kiss in the Shadow
  • Something Wonderful
  • I Have Dreamed
  • Getting to Know You – Julie Andrews sings here.

How innocent the storylines and the music in all of these musicals!  But what great memories they invoke.

And back to the original thoughts for this post – Lilacs

“I am thinking of the lilac-trees,
That shook their purple plumes,
And when the sash was open,
Shed fragrance through the room.”
Mrs. Anna S. Stephens, The Old Apple-Tree

Special thanks to my sister in Los Angeles for the inspiration for this post.

Sisters

Oh so very long ago.

“We each hear different drummers,but still find music to dance together.”
Judith Baxter
, Sister, friend and confidante  1938 –

Sunday Morning

It’s 9.45pm on Sunday night and I have absolutely no idea what to blog about today.  So I will turn to Prompts and Practices in Judy Reeves’ “A Creative Writer’s Kit” for inspiration.  Today is February 12 and she suggests Write Your Morning

Well the day started as usual around 6.45am – why does this early wakening dog me even though I now no longer have a reason to waken this early?  Obviously, because of the many years of having to be awake this early my mind and body have become accustomed and have formed a habit.

On getting up and attending to the bathroom requirements, the next thing is get Madam awake.  She doesn’t stir while all this activity is going on around her.  I guess she thinks if she is quiet and still she might get a couple more hours of sleep.  But hey the sun is shining, the wind is absent and perhaps the powers that be have suddenly realised that it is summer here.

Lotte in bed

So a shower, breakfast and then a short walk out into this lovely day.  Only a short walk because I have to attend an Open Home with my Real Estate Agent friend at 11 am.  Once home Madam settles down to sleep almost as if she knows it is Sunday and she will be left to her own devices for a couple of hours.

And so to the Open Home.  Only one today which is very unusual but my friend has been away for a couple of days in Sydney, Australia following a successful few weeks of selling.   So we each arrive independently and put out fresh flowers; make sure the beds are made tidily, the bathrooms look spik and span   But where are the purchasers?  Nobody arrives and we spend the next 45 minutes sitting in this very pleasant family house catching up on what we have each been doing for the past few days.

Then we pack up; lock up the house and take off for a ‘well deserved’ coffee in a local coffee shop.  Not a busy morning or a particularly fruitful one but it was my Sunday morning.

Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. 
Bill Watterson
1958 –

Saturday Again

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

Saturday afternoon ironing someone else’s sheets

My second favorite household chore is ironing.
My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed
until I faint.  ~Erma Bombeck

I have a hard and fast rule that sheets that are bought by me for use in this house MUST NOT NEED IRONING.  So what am I doing on this summer, Saturday afternoon? Ironing.

I have told you that one of the things I do is assist my real Estate Agent friend in her business.  Apart from selling RE she also manages investment apartments for her clients.  This week we have to prepare an apartment for lease and as she is away for a few days R & R in Sydney, Australia, I said I would do the basics for her.  This entailed making an inventory, making up the beds, setting up the bathroom etc.  Of course, it also meant that I had to check the state of  the bed linen and bathroom towels etc.

I can’t imagine what happened to the original bedlinen – it was gone, but in its place was several packets of new linen.  So this is what I have laundered and am ironing this afternoon.

At present the towels are rolling around in the tumble dryer and fortunately don’t need to be ironed.

Lotte

Do you have my lead?

So now I am off to type the inventory and then go for a walk -yes a walk after so long – with my small companion, Lotte.

But before I go, I would like to share this with you.  I just received it from an American friend who lives in Paris.  I am not envious of her choice of city in which to live – well, not very much. Click here to watch the video is of a one year old baby playing ping pong.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Another Thursday

MPH LogoToday being Thursday, I went to the hospice to help with lunches.  This was the first time I had been back since my accident way, way before Christmas.  In fact it is now 8 weeks since I was last there.  They say time flies when you are having fun…?

Anyway, back to lunch time today.  Of course, all the people were different to those I had met on my last visit.  Many had gone home, some had moved to more permanent residential homes and unfortunately, some had lost their battle and had passed on.

I have said so many times that I am amazed at the way most people come to terms with their life ending.  Most of them are if not cheerful, at least pleasant to us and grateful for the help they receive at the hospice.  The occasional one is still berating all and sundry because his/her life is ending, but these people are in the minority.

I am also amazed at the care and attention all patients receive from the staff, however, difficult and cranky that patient may be.  The doctors and nursing staff cheerfully undertake their duties in a kindly and caring manner.  Each patient is made to feel important and that they are the only person requiring the attention of the staff member at that time.   The patience displayed by the staff from the doctors, nurses, orderlies and helpers is truly special.

Then this afternoon I went to another medical facility.  Annual check up time – mammogram followed by a visit to my ‘breast man’.  The delightful, charming, wonderful man who performed the surgery to remove my cancerous lump.  I enjoy meeting with him on an annual basis.  We discuss our families and what they have been up to in the year since we last met.  It’s very social and not at all like a doctor’s visit.  After some 15 minutes of chit chat, during which time we have caught up on the fact that his daughter (another Kate) has finished three years of her legal studies and when I first went to him almost 12 years ago, this kid was still at school, he gets around to examining me.

So this is quite a bright spot in the day,  But the mammogram that precedes this appointment is anything but.  The radiographers do try to make this as easy as possible but each year I realise that such a machine could only have been invented by a member of the male gender and I pass the time by imagining which part of his anatomy I would put into the machine.

However, the discomfort aside, I encourage my daughter and daughter-in-law, sisters and friends to have regular mammograms.  My cancer was not palpable, it was so small, but was picked up in this way.

And now I have an apology to make.  I was recently awarded a HUG award by the Island Traveler and did not acknowledge this in my post on Awards. Apologies my friend for this oversight.

If you haven’t heard of the HUG award before do visit Connie Wayne at http://ahopefortoday.com, which promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people.  Here you will find guidelines for the award and also for accepting the award and they include:

  • You may only receive this award once.
  • Upon receipt of the award, nominate at least one other person.  The award is not time limited, so you can nominate new people or sites you encounter in the future.
  • Contact your nominees and tell them they have been nominated for the award.

As part of the acceptance I must nominate at least one person for this award and I nominate Suzicate at the Water Witches Daughter.

stylised man with cupBut also, as I have said so often in the past, I am uncomfortable about picking a few out of the many blogs I read and am inspired by, so once again I direct you to my blogroll.  Take a look at each of these blogs.  They are certainly worth your time and see how each of them qualifies for a HUG award.