This has been a challenging year for Reggie Kastler of Redmond. After 24 years with the same company, her husband lost his job. She had gallbladder surgery, missed Thanksgiving...

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This has been a challenging year for Reggie Kastler of Redmond.

After 24 years with the same company, her husband lost his job. She had gallbladder surgery, missed Thanksgiving, and hasn’t been able to make as many baskets as she hoped. She owns Basket Works N.W. by Reggie and sells her handcrafted wares at farmers markets, craft fairs and bazaars. Surgery also meant she needed her husband’s help setting up for shows.

Then there’s the traditional hard-to-buy-for-husband Christmas shopping dilemma.

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Things improved recently.

After Alan Kastler helped his wife set up for a recent craft show, he wandered the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. In a consignment store he found a leather jacket that looked like new and fit perfectly, but he refused to pay the $42.50 asking price.

Two days later, after not reaching the store by phone, Reggie Kastler made the trek to Seattle — a challenge physically as she recovers from surgery. She struggled to find a parking place and then learned to operate the new Seattle parking-meter system. Exhausted, she walked into the consignment store just as a young man was trying on the leather jacket.

It fit him. He commented to Kastler that it was the best jacket in the store and asked if she needed to get by him to get to another rack. She explained she was waiting to see whether he bought the jacket, because if he didn’t, she was going to buy it for her husband.

He took the jacket off and handed it to her.

“It’s Christmas,” he said. “You can have it.”

“He has no clue as to what it meant, what’s gone into my year. And yet he took the jacket off and gave it to me to buy,” she said. “I think I’ve been touched by the Christmas spirit.”

A good read

Catherine Brallier, a longtime member and volunteer with the Bellevue Friends of the Library, was surprised not long ago when fellow board members and friends from the library group threw her an 80th birthday party. The gifts were reading-related. The first was a gold charm in the shape of a book. She also received several books, including “My First Raggedy Ann: How Raggedy Ann Got Her Candy Heart.”

It was a perfect present for Brallier, who treasures two Raggedy Ann dolls, a Raggedy Andy doll and a copy of “The Paper Dragon: A Raggedy Ann Adventure” she received for Christmas in 1933.

As a child she briefly had a copy of “Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel With the Wrinkled Knees” after she gave a friend her scooter in exchange for the book.

“You’ve probably guessed what our parents said about our trade — we had to trade back. But I did get to read the book first,” Brallier said.

A good row

Not all moms will be out shopping this morning. Martha’s Moms, a women’s masters rowing team, will honor Pat Nevler‘s 80th birthday with a celebratory row on Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Nevler, whose official birthday is Dec. 26, divides her time between Seattle and her daughter’s Kirkland home, where she helps take care of a granddaughter.

When Nevler joined the Moms about 19 years ago, she fibbed about her age. She told Julie Smith of Kirkland recently that she knocked two years off “because at one time I heard somebody say there was a limit on how old you could be and row with the group.”

Nevler has been rowing as long as she can remember. When she was 8, in 1933, she got in a rowboat and started rowing from her home on Camano Island to Whidbey Island. Her irate father caught up with her and made her come home.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or