Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

he calls me "Dabby." Not sure where that came from, but for the last couple of months it's been Dabby this and Dabby that. I like it.

My granddaughter turns 2 Sunday and I'm proud to say that we have forged a strong relationship over the last 24 months despite the miles that separates us.

I was at the hospital in Salem, Ore., when Kayla Grace finally arrived after an extremely long day and night. Exhausted and exhilarated, I held her in the first moments of her life and loved her with all my heart that morning. But, of course, I didn't know her.

Salem is about five or six hours away, depending on how fast you

drive. Sometimes it's taken seven or eight hours if Rick and I stop to

shop or eat along the way. I vowed that cold November morning when she

was born that I would see my granddaughter once a month, and I have.

Between visits, 21st century technology keeps us connected. I might

be cooking dinner or doing laundry and get a text that says, "K wants to

Skype." I drop what I'm doing and run upstairs to the computer and

logon as Grandma Skype.

When I answer her video call, Kayla screams. "Dabby! Dabby!" and my heart melts.

I wouldn't miss her birthday party Sunday for the world. I spent

this past weekend baking oatmeal raisin cookies and biscotti for her. I

bring them every time I go up to see her and I was thrilled when my

daughter-in-law told me she really likes the biscotti. I liked my

grandma's biscotti, too. It's a small thing, but it connects her to

family tradition. My parents and my grandparents, people she will never

know, are smiling.

I decided to bake for Kayla instead of working on cranberry bread. I

have to admit I'm starting to get nervous as the Bake-off nears. I know

Michelle Morgante has been practicing and perfecting andndash; when we met for

lunch to discuss the details of the competition, she had just made

cranberry bread in individual Bundt pans. Tricky.

I overheard Anne Boulley tell someone at lunch that she's been

experimenting with adding Bouncing Berry Farms cranberry compote to her

bread recipe "in ribbons." Dang.

If you haven't heard, I challenged those two to a Cranberry Bread

Bake-off this Friday and Saturday. Each of us is making a half dozen

loaves of cranberry bread and there will be a tasting at Vita Cucina

during First Friday Art Walk, from 4-7 p.m. We're charging $5 to sample a

plate with each of our breads giving the money we raise to Teri Sandler

to help pay for the community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Tasting will continue at Vita Cucina Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,

but if you come Friday night we'll all be there along with the

"celebrity judges" that cranberry grower Chelle Webb lined up and Jon

Parmentier playing music.

And please don't forget to sign up for the Festival of Trees. It's

one of the most fun events of the holiday season here. All you have to

do is purchase a live or artificial tree and decorate it. Some

businesses and individuals decorate with a theme, but you don't have to.

Bring your tree (you can decorate it there) to the Veterans Memorial

Hall, or if I can't convince you to donate a tree, come down to the hall

and buy raffle tickets to win a tree. You can deposit your tickets in

the can for the tree you'd really like to win and cross your fingers. I

won the tree of my dreams the first year I tried.

The luncheon is on Saturday, Dec. 3, and that's when all the trees

will be displayed and raffled off. It's the perfect way to kick off the

holiday season. The contributions Charlotte Fleshman and the ladies in

the Emblem Club raise directly benefit local charities and DNHS

scholarships. For more information, give Charlotte a call at 954-4530.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at

mandshy;andshy;thoandshy;masandshy;andshy;andshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.