The sheer number of things can be explained by gifts, she said, noting they mount up with four children, now in their 30s and 40s, Mother's Days, Christmases, birthdays and 30 years of gifts from mothers of day care children.

The one bobble figure she purchased some time ago in the dollar store has inspired similar gifts. Now Ellinger has 10 bobbles sitting on the glass shelf of a large garden window. The heat from the sunshine streaming in the room keeps them bobbling and clicking away.

One of her sleek black cats deftly climbs onto the glass shelf of the other window that flanks the fireplace and curls up for a heat treatment. The cats follow the sun around the house as the day progresses, she said.

The cats she has had have all been rescues, she said, as is Crabcake, the small beagle mix with doleful eyes that is curled up in a dog bed beside her bed. "Nobody wanted him," she said.

He spent 10 years at animal rescue before she took him home with her two years ago. "We've been able to give him that," she said.

Daughter Stephanie said that Ellinger has twice the energy that she and her friends have, and devotes it to nurturing.

Daughter Parry said about her mother, "She's nonstop trying to do everything for everybody and everything else. Her happiness is derived from making other people happy."

Neighbor Sandi Kendall has known Ellinger for 30 years.

"Betsy is absolutely the best neighbor. She has the most beautiful flowers and she shares them with the whole neighborhood.

"Even the birds and the chipmunks and the squirrels love Betsy's yard."