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Having it all together

February 18, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

You have to really get it all together, says Tamara "Tammy" Hoffman.

The petite lifelong resident of Hagerstown is talking about her job in advertising services at The Herald-Mail Co.

She has worked there for 29 years. Don't get in her way when she's striding from one side of the building to the other.

That "all" she talks about getting together is pages of the daily newspaper. She organizes the pages and arranges ads before the pages are handed over to the newsroom. Hoffman's task requires balancing several interests and considerations. She needs to think about the advertisers who have paid for ads, which are placed on virtual blank pages on Hoffman's computer screen.

She has to think about the space editors need for local, national and international stories. And Hoffman needs to think about the readers and what will catch their eyes as they open The Morning Herald, The Daily Mail or weekend Herald-Mail newspaper.

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"It's like putting together a big puzzle," Hoffman says.

"I love puzzles," she adds.

She likes working with the many ingredients. Her work is a little like cooking.

Although she doesn't consider herself a great cook, Hoffman has recipes that have become trademarks at church picnics and family gatherings.

She first made the Broccoli, Rice and Cheese casserole more than 20 years ago. Polly Cunningham Kretzer, who sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in Hagerstown with Tammy Hoffman and her mother, made it for one of the church's Wednesday night suppers.

Hoffman says her children were picky eaters, but they really liked the dish and still do. Now she has grandchildren who like it. No holiday at the Hoffmans' is complete without it.

She says she didn't really cook with her mother growing up. She learned as she went along, fixing what she needed when she needed it. She tries new things but likes to keep it simple.

The kitchen is bright in the home Hoffman shares with husband of 26 years, Dow Hoffman. She met him on a blind date. Her father, who worked with Dow Hoffman, was the matchmaker and was best man at their wedding.

The couple lives on three and a half acres north of Hagerstown. Lucky, a donkey who's about 30 years old, has lived in the back yard for 23 years.

"He'll die of old age," Tammy Hoffman laughs.

A couple of years ago, Tammy Hoffman took up oil painting. "It's something I always wanted to do," she says.

It's something her late mother encouraged, and Tammy Hoffman regrets that she didn't start earlier so her mother could see her art. She took some classes with Hagerstown artist Clyde Roberts as a child, and had four years of art classes in high school.

She describes her work as photographic realism, an accurate description.

Detail is faithfully rendered. Her landscapes and a portrait of roses look real. But there's something more in Tammy Hoffman's brushstrokes. There's light. There's something beyond photographic.

She has a studio in the basement of her home, but she often likes to paint in her kitchen. She likes the light coming in the windows at the back of the room.

She likes the morning mist in the pasture fields.

She joined Valley Art Association a couple of years ago and has exhibited and sold some work.

She fits the painting piece into the puzzle of her busy life. She sings in her church choir. For six years, she's been an independent coordinator for Weekenders USA, a direct sales company. She's a member of the Hagerstown Optimist Club, a service-oriented group, and she also recently joined a local chapter of the Red Hat Society, a group of women who seek to embrace life after age 50.

Tammy Hoffman indeed has it all together.

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