Monday, December 30, 2013

The sun sets on Happy Birthay

Mid-elementary school, my parents gave me a Christmas/birthday present - a bike. I was thrilled to have the freedom of riding up and down the street.

On my 19th birthday, just a week after my first son was born, my then-husband convinced me that leaving my new baby with a sitter and going to the comedy club to see Gallagher was the thing to do.

My 25th birthday was the day everyone I ever knew took the opportunity to say 'you're old, a quarter of a century.' What happen was, what they would have called it a nervous break down.

Birthday 38 was spent in the eerie quiet of the last ice storm of the 20th century.

By the 43rd birthday, my ducks were in a row... things were moving along quite well. The kids baked me a cake.

The years fly as did mine and the country's economy... birthday 47 came and went without a peep.

More than half way through a century, I found watching the sunset while sitting on a Mexican beach absolutely the best present ever.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Traditional Kolache

We just called it Grandma's nut bread but it was so good. After Grandma passed, my mother and her sisters tried to make the bread but it wasn't as good. Within a few years, it was dropped completely from the Christmas menu.

I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table cracking bags and bags of walnuts. Each batch of bread required 4 1/2 cups of finely chopped walnuts. The yummy smells that came from the kitchen when my Grandma was cooking are among my dearest childhood memories.

In a moment of nostalgia, I googled then found a recipe that seemed like what a 40 year ago memory of me as a 10-year-old could remember about Grandma's nut bread. Here is what I found:


2 packages active yeast
½ cup warm milk
¼ cup sugar
In a bowl, mix the warm milk, sugar and yeast. Let dissolve.
1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
4 - 4 ½ up to 6 - 6 ½ cups flour
In a separate bowl, mix butter, sour cream, eggs and flour. Pour in the yeast mixture. Stir together.
The dough should be sticky.
Turn the dough on a floured surface. Knead until smooth. Cover & let rise about an hour.

1 ¼ sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 ½ cups ground walnuts
1 large apple, peeled & grated
In a skillet, add all filling ingredients & cook until warm on low. Let cool.

Punch down. Turn on a floured surface. Divide into four. Roll dough into a rectangle. Spread filling. Roll dough like a jelly roll. Place on baking pan. Cover & let rise to double about 30 minutes.

Bake 350 for 40 minutes. Remove from pans to cool.

After all these years, I made the bread today. It's as delicious as I remember. My husband and kids love it too. Ommie's nut bread recipe is found. :) 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

23 Years

Good Morning. Happy Anniversary, he said, kissing her gently on the cheek.

What? It's morning? she answered, not really awake.

23 years today, he smiled.

What? That's impossible! she declared.

Why? he asked.

That would mean we're old. Why did you wake me up to tell me I'm old or am I dead? She threw the covers up over her head with a humph.

Yes, you're dead, he laughed.

That's what I thought. 23 years is impossible! And she went happily back to sleep.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chateau Elysee

Originally built on three acres of land, the garden at Chateau Elysee harkens back to its illustrious past. The small path and labyrinth provides a quiet place for contemplation in the middle of Hollywood.

Chateau Elysee better known to many A-list movie stars of the 1930s and 40s as the Manor was built for the convenience of Hollywood's acting community. The hotel was designed by architect Arthur Harvey. It is reminiscent of a 17th century French chateau. The period and style of architecture was popular in the early part of the 20th century.

Today, the gardens are a small but important part of the property. The chateau is open to the public for tours.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Right to Complain

Somewhere corporations have lost the ability or desire to provide customer service. It's gotten so ridiculous that the standard of non-service would have been the death knell for stores 50 years ago.

What's different now? It's you. It's me. It's the customer. We put up with it. So they're horrible.

Just don't take it anymore. Share your experience with poor customer service with others on Yelp or Site Jabber This is a perfect way to process through your tough day and help others avoid doing business with bad businesses.

Sadly, there have been several companies that have been so bad with their service that they border on fraud or blackmail in their business tactics. In fact, one company's service center people stole my credit card number & tried to use it in their area... It was easy to identify because I'm not in Florida...duh... and the company tried so say 1) it was my fault 2) if I extended the service contract with them, they would complete the contract I had already paid for and 3) it was my fault. Oh yes, they said it twice.

This season hold your retailer, in store or online to a standard:

1) If it's broken or the wrong item, return it.
2) If they don't provide the service you expected, cancel the service & get your money back.
3) If their rude, complain to a superior.
4) If they don't make up for the shabby treatment, write a review at yelp and find another provider who will treat you like you're the one paying them.
5) Keep all your receipts.
6) When you call customer service, take names. Why?
7) If all else fails, make a complaint to your credit card company, provide documentation of the dispute and charge it back.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Task At Hand

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a talk about this way of life I choose to live. It's a week from tomorrow so I should give it some thought.

In preparation, I read a book by one of my mentor's mentor times three, meaning I'm fifth in the chain. Actually, I re-read it. Re-reading material packed full of information is worth the time.

Funny thing happens when re-reading books that  have profoundly impacted situations, life in indescribable ways, when it's re-read years later, it means the same yet more.

So what I discovered was that Chuck was 29 years on the journey when he gave the talks that became the book. He stuck close with the familiar text for the newbie but threw in some gems for those further on the path. But most of what I discovered was that 29 years on the path is a long time.

On the re-read, I recalled the first reading. I remember thinking, that length of commitment was longer than I'd been alive. I remember thinking, surely he had forgotten what it was like to be new. Then I laughed at my young self because this older self sees it from a different perspective.

My path, my life is the direct result of following the path. The result is I'm relatively happy on a daily basis with what life gives me. I own my choices. And somewhere along the way, I've become truly free.

Next week, I'll share with a group about this beautiful way of life and hope someday that they'll be sharing the same message with others 29 years from now.

The year my journey began,1984, was his last, he died before the end of that year. I met him briefly. I'm glad I did. A New Pair of Glasses by Chuck Chamberlain

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Nut Bread

Each holiday season my grandmother made walnut bread. It's part of what makes a the holiday a family time.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook but not so great at writing recipes. Her recipe book was a list of ingredients, nothing else. Unfortunately, none of her children were fabulous cooks so the recipes were lost because there weren't amounts or mixing directions.

One reason I love the internet is because lost things can be found. I think I've found her Walnut bread recipe. At least this is the recipe I will create this year, maybe tweak it a little to make it closer to what I remember. I am thrilled. And if I make it half as good as grandma did, everyone else should be thrilled to enjoy this nut bread too.

For the dough
500 g flour
250 g butter
50 g sugar
2 eggs
20 g fresh yeast
1 dl milk
Pinch of salt

For the walnut filling
300 g minced walnut
200 g sugar
1 vanilla sugar
50 g raisin
Zest of lemon
1 grated apple
2 tblsp honey
1 dl milk

Dissolve the yeast with a pinch of sugar in 100 ml of lukewarm milk and let set. Mix the flour, butter egg and sugar in bowl. Add yeast mixture and knead until dough is medium soft. Once the dough is smooth, divide into 2 large loafs or 4 small loafs. Cover with foil and let them rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Prepare the filling. Add sugar to milk. Heat but don’t boil. Remove from heat add remaining ingredients.

Remove dough from fridge. Place on floured surface. Roll dough into rectangles to hald centimeter thick. Width to the width of the pan.
Spread the filling on the dough leaving 1/5 centimeters around the edge. Fold edges over the filling and roll dough along longer side. Spread egg yolk on top of the rolls. Let dry half hour. Spread egg white on top of rolls. Let dry for ½ hour.

Preheat to 200. Make holes in the top of the rolls with a fork. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before slicing. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Email Gone Mad

Is it me or has email gone mad? Like many people, I've changed my communication style. I don't use email as much as I did for personal communication. So it's amazing to me when I open my email account each morning and there are between 75 & 139 emails.

Granted I do belong to a few groups that send daily digests, and there are a few companies that I don't mind getting updates or sale brochures. That accounts for 10 - 20 emails per day. So what's the rest?

It's not the horrid ads for 'size enhancement', those all go to the junk bin that also overflows. The emails are unsolicited from companies that I may or may not have done business and multiple emails per day. It's too much.

The unsubscribe campaign begins. It's all I can do when a company abuses my email address. So I'll be on fewer lists through the holidays and hope that 2014 brings with it an almost empty inbox.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin Season

Pumpkins take 120 days to grow to maturity. The best pumpkins are grown on the vine until the vine becomes brown and snaps the large squash free.

One favorite taste of autumn bounty is the pumpkin bread.

1 ½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup oil
2 eggs
¼ cup water
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the mixture in a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Honoring our ancestors is as old as humanity. The ancestors are the reason for our existence. Our existence testifies to their survival. It is only right that we honor them. 

November celebration of Dia de los Muertos coincides with the Christian holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Today its celebrated as a Mexican holiday but its origins are in Aztec culture. 

Aztecs honored the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The lady of the dead watches over the bones of the ancestors. She rules with her husband over the underworld. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Which Halloween Witch?

A favorite character each Halloween is the witch. She has changed through the years of trick or treat.

Victorian era Halloween witches were depicted with whimsy. They displayed the traditional black cat and hat but were usually kind faced and sometimes lovely young women.

After the Wizard of Oz books came out, the Halloween witch became ugly like the Wicked Witch of the West. Halloween also changed from a fun harvest festival to a scary night.

Even though the Baum books had many more good witches and magical people, the wicked witches of the East and West made such an impression that the image endured.

When MGM made the film Wizard of Oz, the technicolor green faced witch took center stage. The Halloween witch became even more ominous.

By the 1960s most witches were ugly old scary hags with green faces. They were to be feared. Parents used the Halloween hag to scary their children through October until the threat of Santa withholding gifts became the seasonal option.

Thank goodness for the Harry Potter series that brought the fun back to magical people and creatures. The witches came in every shape and size. Students and professors alike practiced magic and in the end evil was defeated and the magical people lived happily ever after... or at least were able to trick or treat without a green face.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Colours

Brilliant green leaves of summer filled with chlorophyll that uses the sun and nutrients from the tree through the warm months. As the earth turns and the days grow shorter the fluid in the leaves becomes restricted by the cooling temperatures and the chlorophyll decreases.

Modern landscaping in the city leans toward evergreen because the autumn leaves do fall to the ground creating a mess. Rural and natural areas have the space needed for trees that drop their leaves. The cycle replenishes the soil providing nutrients necessary for the Spring. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lizards in the yard

I screamed. I admit it. The lizard running out from under the flower pot not only made me jump but I screamed.

It moved like a snake. We lived in a snake zone for seven years. There were snakes in the front & back yards. The dogs were always hunting them. But this wasn't a snake, it just moved like one.

As a tomboy, my friends Frank and his brother Ed and I would run the hills hunting western fence lizards. Back then, we called them blue belly lizards. Granted we did catch twice as many tails as lizards but by the end of the summer, that lizard hunting summer, the three of us were more than proficient with catching those quick buggers.

So I screamed, I startled myself and the lizard. I realized it was just a lizard, I laughed. I laughed and grabbed a broom to chase the quick bugger away from my front door and back into the garden where he belongs. A lizard pet is one thing I'd done as a kid, a lizard in my house wasn't going to happen today.

The visitor was an alligator lizard. It moved in an undulating way. These creature from ancient times adapt to the environment. The lizard fact sheets state that alligator lizards are found in urban areas under pot and in gardens. They eat insects in large quantity which is why I'd like him to stay but over in the yard, please.

Interested in learning more about California lizards? Visit:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The President and the Assassin

Scott Miller delves into the late 19th century to bring the issues of the era into perspective for the modern reader. Many of the issues that plagued America a hundred years ago are still alive and well today.

Economy: The economy had taken a hit around the world. Exchange of goods was a predominate issue as the industrial revolution created more stuff than one country could consume, the search for new markets around the world became increasingly important.

Politics: Political competition between the democrats and republicans reached a feverish pitch with political corruption that viewed most 'problems' from the elite stance leaving the working people with disdain and/or distrust of the government.

Immigration: New immigrants replaced American workers at lower and lower rates until the profits skyrocketed.

War: American military learned to organize through the Civil War and Indian War years. The US government prompted by business took the war around the world to grab ports in advantageous locations in relation the markets that seemed the largest and most ready for excess American goods, namely, China.

Radicals: Philosophical radicals such as Emma Goldman were outspoken providing fuel to the fire of discontent within the radical outsiders.

The book was an informative read of a period which is often skipped in history class but the decisions made in that era still effect much of US world politics today.

Friday, October 4, 2013


The greatest perspective I gained on my childhood happened just after my children were grown. Reflections of the ways in which decisions were made in the best interest of each child, based on the needs of the individual, with thoughts to the whole of the family and working with the resources available, I realized that raising children is the most important job... ever.

The juxtaposition of my childhood family with my family made clear that the thoughts and efforts expended in daily routine, consistency, honesty and love were and are well rewarded. All the basic issues were handled, well, basically differently.

Rather than requiring children to stay in their beds, my little ones were able to move to the most comfortable and safe places they wished to sleep. There were a few times when I woke to a little one staring into my face; startling then, funny memories now.

Rather than requiring meals to be as served and finished in its entirety with the guilt trip about starving people in Africa, my little ones learned to love a variety of foods. Healthful offerings of fruits, vegetables, nuts and crackers were always within reach, in addition to healthful meals. In all the years of preparing meals for my family there have been few disasters that found their way to the trash. With a variety of foods available throughout the day, my kids have grown to be healthy individuals.

Rather than setting an adversarial relationship with punitive measures regularly dispensed, my kids learned to regulate themselves by practicing compassion toward their siblings and themselves.  Recently, my daughter reminded me that rarely did I refuse their requests for goodies at the check out or scold them for bad behavior. Instead, when they wanted something extra at the grocery check out, I'd ask them if they had been good so that the extra was a deserved treat. Not only did this instill a sense of good measures within but it also provided an opportunity for confessions should they have a guilty burden that they needed to share and remedy.

Many cultural norms did not supply the type of training that creates good habits for a young person. Because there is no do over with kids, I worked hard to find the best options for every situation that arose. Often the answers were to unlearn bad messaging from my childhood past, and learn a new and loving way to approach the little people who are now not little at all.

The transitional period to mother with grown children has given me more time to appreciate the unique people I've been privileged to know. Surprisingly as I thought all the old stuff was gone because I did not repeat the destructive patterns with my children, it has come to the surface again. This time I'm not sure why other than to give me perspective to see how far I've come from a sad place to a place of contentment, at least with one aspect of my life anyway.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Egret or Heron

Growing up in the desert I missed much of what the rest of the region enjoyed as daily life. As an adult, I've been fortunate in that I've found time to enjoy abundance that is found even in the middle of the city.

The river that runs through the county meanders between neighborhoods, flowing under bridges, roads, and freeways. A trail follows along the south or east side of the river.

Walkers, bicycle riders and skateboarders chat with companions or listen to their players seeming to ignore the nature that reveals itself to them along the water.

Phenomenal varieties of birds and other wild life go about their daily business, ignoring the humans as they pass by. It must be close to mating season when I noticed the large number of herons. Large heron, small heron, heron of different colors were all hunting, eating and dancing in the shallows.

Herons or egrets have a societal hierarchy. While I don't know much about the birds, I learned quite a bit by watching. One particular bird was king bird. He squawked and danced until he had several lady birds around him. He chased off any male birds that came near.

Other egrets in the group ignored the 'king' until he came near & took their prey.  After which the lesser birds hid their hunting and ate faster.

Each day brings joy and an opportunity to observe the world in which we live.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Since medieval times, people have enjoyed sugar on a stick. The modern lollipop came into existence in the early 1800s. With the civil war candy on a stick was available across the US. By the early 20th century, several companies produced hard candy on a stick. 

Early 1920 - 1930s, the name lollipop was trademarked but more companies than ever produced suckers. Varieties included fruit flavors in a choice of colors. 

The large circular lollipop became a representation of a happy childhood with regular references in comics and featured as a kid's delight in silent and early talking films. 

Still a favorite, the large a rainbow lollipop represents the best of childhood and brings sweet memories to many generations. 

Singing: Lollipop

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dr. Howe Waffle

Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle practiced medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Santa Ana California. She graduated from medical school in Chicago in the 1880s and moved to California with her husband to practice medicine.

Dr. and Dr. Howe were primary care physicians.  Mrs. Howe, M.D. was a pillar of the community, serving most families in the community. She brought patients into her home to help them return to health. It was common for Dr. Howe to bring her patients to her home so she could be available to them. Patients stayed down stairs while the doctors and their family lived upstairs. Dr. Howe had an speaker tube installed so patients could wake her at night if they needed her.

Dr. and Dr. Howe had a Victorian home built in 1889. The family moved from Westminster into their new home.  The Howe family included two daughters, Lulu and Ethel. Dr. Howe lived in the house with her first husband  and daughters until Mrs. Howe M.D. divorced her husband in 1897 amidst a scandal. She later married Mr. Waffle.

The house was sold to another doctor after Dr. Howe’s death. By the 1940s, the house was turned into a boarding house. By the 1970s, the house was in bad shape and slated for demolition. The historical society stepped in to save the house. The house was moved from its original location to the corner of Sycamore and Civic Center. The Dr. Howe Waffle house celebrates the first woman doctor in Orange County.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Don't Know What Happened

Don’t know what happened to the day

Did it walk away
Did it jump about
The time ran out

Don’t know what happened to the time
Thought today was mine
To do as I wish
The clock hands swish

Don’t know what happened to the thought
It seemed all that I got
To share my dreams
But now that it seems

I’m out of time and I really don’t know what happened.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Potty Past

Ancient Rome  and Egypt had a sewer systems but after the fall of the empires human kind returned to chamber pots and out houses for centuries. As a historian, I battle my natural girlish inclination to romanticize the past because the academic training required a grounding in facts. So as much as I'd like a time capsule to take me back to my favorite eras: Tutor England, Wild West America, when it comes to plumbing I'm a modernist. 

Linguistically, the origin of the word toilet is only a few hundred years old. From the French toilette, the porcelain pot found in modern homes only a portion of the dressing ritual. English speakers incorporated the word and restricted the meaning exclusively to the pot. 

Toilet became vulgar to the English ear so two other euphemisms came to have the same meaning. The first, 'lavatory' came from the Latin word meaning wash basin but euphemistically came to mean the entire restroom operation. The second, 'loo' was English slang for the French 'garde l'eau' which loosely translates as 'WATCH OUT FOR THE WATER!'

Scattered across America are the remnants of remnants of our past, which are sometime better left alone. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Room School House

While traveling around looking for interesting historical sites, a one room school house came into view. The sign nearly as large as the building itself was a testament to an era of no nonsense lessons and learning. 

The wood siding painted red for the tourists was once white wash. The bell hung from a hook attached to the rafter. A well worn rope attached to the clapper swayed in the breeze. 

Through a dusty window beside the door four desks stood. The four could accommodate up to eight students. The front of the class was a one step podium for the teacher who with a blackboard, lectern and a stove was charged with the education of the area's student population. Only the essentials could be toted to and from school were required. The rest of the process was between the students and the teacher. 

McGuffy's readers were standard material, passed down through each family fortunate enough to allow school time to their children. The readers were primary material from pre-reader to college level material. Arithmetic and handwriting practice were primarily on hand held chalk boards. 

The day was a great success with discussions of the era of increased literacy as well as the implementation of new educational testing systems which documents the decline of US student achievement. Perhaps the solution to the budgetary short fall as well as declining scores is in relationships rather than testing material. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Anniversary Oz

August 15, 1939 the Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman’s Theater in Hollywood California. The film cost a little over $2 million to create pumping money into the local economy by employing extra craftsmen and actors to create the full color world of Oz. In its initial release the film made $3 million but became a classic with its re-release in 1949 and continued product branding. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pooh-style business

Many issues / struggles of society could be solved by following the example of the AA Milne characters in Winnie-the –Pooh. Take business for example: the contraction of the economy was inevitable because some basic Pooh wisdom was ignored for years.

Basic Pooh wisdom found through the actions and dialogue between Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the original The House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young offer points of reference to build character and to ease social situations. In the 100 acre wood, Gopher gives the formula for a successful business. This same formula works for real life if the business owner is interested in an honest, in-the-black, business.

For the business owner who really is interested in making a profit rather than the in-vogue business men who are into shenanigans of derivative accounting, insider trading and other unscrupulous meanings of extracting money from red ink, gopher offers a capitalistic formula for simple profit.
The set-up: Pooh has stayed too long at Rabbit’s house. Pooh has eaten himself into a new size. The size is too large to get through the rabbit’s doorway. He gets stuck. Rabbit tries to push Pooh out. The friends try to pull Pooh out. Finally, Owl calls in a professional, Gopher.

Gopher’s estimate to remove the bear gives the formula to a modest income for a professional business.

Cost of Materials + Labor + Overhead + 10%

The reader might say, ‘That’s easy enough,’ then wonder what’s up with the stock market and business take-overs, buy-outs and outright skullduggery. Well, somewhere along the way true accountants were shoved over to make room for algebraic financial collapse. When two negatives make a positive on a spread sheet, losses are recorded as profits; it’s the makings of a mess.
The sad part is when the new accountants move on the scene, they play with the numbers   to make pluses out of minuses. But in real life they’re keeping a failing business open creating a vacuuming money pit.

Since the financial collapse of the 1880-90s (yes, 19th century), financial business men, bankers and politicians have all known the cost to real lives that the monkey business in the money business causes. Standard accounting practice, utilizing addition & subtraction, absolutely no algebra, produces correct balances sheets.

If a financial portfolio includes companies using derivative accounting or penny stocks, dump them. Ethical economists declare the under $1 stock as a breeding ground for fraud. Penny stocks are removed from the stock exchange because there is nothing but fraudulent intent, if not action in the plans of the participants. There can't be anything else or they'd have closed shop a long time ago. Unsound financing is bad for business as a whole and if you’re not the manipulator, you will lose your money and maybe your shirt too. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Indian fig grows wild on the Pricky Pear Cactus. The Opuntia species has more than 200 varieties. The cactus and fruit have similar qualities regardless of particular variety.

The highly recognizable cactus plant has fruit that is edible. The pears are covered in spines, so cleaning the fruit is extremely important. Indians rolled the cactus figs on sand to lose the spines. Modern harvesters use blowtorches to remove the spines and cook the fruit.

Prickly pears are found in cookies, candies, jelly and cactus drinks including vodka. Distilleries in Mexico produce colonche which has been popular for centuries.

Prickly pears grow quickly in otherwise barren areas. In Australia, a variety is used as a natural barrier along property lines.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mission Inn

Mission Inn in Riverside hosts GOP parties, welcomes international dignitaries and features a former Catholic church within the walls of the illustrious hotel. The hotel is located 3649 Mission Inn Av, Riverside CA, just minutes off the 91 freeway.

The 110 year history of the hotel began with Frank Miller’s idea that Riverside needed a Grand Hotel. He turned a 12 room boardinghouse into one of the best hotels in the world. Riverside boomed in the 1890s with important guests, including President McKinley, visiting the area.

Presidents continue to visit Mission Inn, from Benjamin Harrison to George W Bush, the hotel hosts most Republican Presidents at some point in their lives. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were married at the hotel.

Portions of Frank Miller’s bell collection are displayed around the hotel, from the mission bell to the Nanking bell which are both located along the entrance path to the Mission Inn. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

William S Hart

Stage and film actor, screen writer, producer and director, William S Hart was among the movie greats at the beginning of the film industry. William S Hart moved from stage to film at the age of 49.

So enamored with the Wild West, William Hart insisted on authentic costumes, props and story lines. As a result the films depict the Wild West as it was remembered by the men who were there. Yes, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were among Bill Hart’s personal friends.

In his seventy-five movies, William Hart played both the good guy and the bad guy. His wish was to entertain the audience and capture the feeling of the American West Ideal. Personally, he was compassionate toward the Native Americans who he had seen loose much of their land and way of life during his lifetime. So touched he was by the nobility of certain tribes that he learned sign language. He used sign language in one of his movies.

Movies in the nineteen teens and twenties were two-reel short films or five-reel feature length films. Silent films were direct in their story telling which translated to any language.

Upon his retirement from film, William Hart had his La Loma de los Viento built in Newhall, California. The house is a creation of architect Arthur Kelly, who designed the Christie Hotel in Hollywood and the Wilshire Country Club in Hancock Park.

Film buffs delight in the old movie location, now a pristine museum which includes the ranch house, nature walk, pool area, as well as the Old Train Station, once the location of a Charlie Chaplin film as well as Hart’s La Loma de los Viento a top the hill. House tour lasts about 20 minutes. The hike up and down the hill makes the experience an easy couple of hours.

William S. Hart Park & Museum 24151 Newhall Ave., Newhall, CA 91321

Monday, July 1, 2013

3 Reasons Police Have Electric Patrollers

More police departments are ordering the latest in vehicle technology each month. Increasing interest in the T3 has lead purchasing officers to ask, why the T3?
As the T3 enters its seventh year, the three wheeled electric vehicle is quickly becoming a mainstay in the police and security vehicle pool. It’s a favorite for officers because the T3 is sturdy, energy efficient and economical.


T3 wins every time when officers compare the Patroller with the 2-wheel competition. Miami police officer Hector Herrera said it best when he told new reporters that the T3 has better balance.

Three wheels offer the structure and balance of a triangular base. The Patroller stands freely, there is no need to prop or lean the T3, the patroller is always ready to go.

Energy Efficient

T3 designers intended the electric vehicle to be not only cutting edge in looks and looks but to have the ability to be in service 24 hours a day. Through the development of the new battery system, the batteries can be pulled for recharge, quickly and easily.


How does 10 cents a day sound for daily energy costs? Reducing gasoline consumption could stretch budgets enough to completely pay for the vehicles within months.  

Additionally, the T3 Patroller stands tall giving officers excellent visibility to survey crowds. Officer Herrera said it best when he described the T3: “It’s a chariot.”

Learn more about how you can order T3 patrollers for your department:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Kids, Happy Parents, Happy Life

Happy Kids, Happy Parents, Happy Life was the title of the workshop with homeschool educators. It was truly an honor to share some of the strategies I discovered through the years with new parents.

Frankly, the question and answer session that followed was more revealing than I could have imagined. The major struggle for parents is time, or lack of time, as they see it. For me a person who has had to look in depth at time and how I'm always running out of time before my to-do list is done is that I overextend myself.

As a young 20 something, I had come to accept the fact that more often than not, I was late. As hard as I had tried to be on time, time seemed to get the better of me. It was so bad that when I met my then boyfriend, now husband who is chronically early, I had some self examination to do.

Why the man decided my tardiness could be fixed, I don't know. It was clear that I was hard core late. He would be arriving to pick me up for a date. Polite as he was, I saw him pull up in front of the house and I'd scribble a note to come in on the door and jump in the shower. It had come to the point where I was ashamed at my lack of time management skills. Luckily, for me he wasn't offended by my tardiness even as frustrating as it got for him.

Fast forward to three kids under 5 years old and my time crunch as I called really became an impairment. There were days we just didn't go anywhere because I wasn't able to get four people dressed and out the door in time to make play dates.

Suddenly, the pieces fell into place for me. It was all in the preparation. For those of you who are not time challenged, it's a no brainer, but for those of us who aren't so wise, step by step instruction are required... and a watch.

You might call me an optimist because I was always optimistic about how much I could get done in a period of time, always optimistic about traffic and how long it would take to get somewhere, and always optimistic about my kids being blissfully helpful or at least compliant when it came to getting in the car. Thankfully, I'm not the only mom with this affliction but there came a time when I decided that my lack of time management was setting a poor example for my kids.

That was the day I decided to change. It all became clear that I needed to be at least a realist, if not a pessimist when it came to time. By changing this point of view, changing from leaving 30 minutes to get ready to leave, I would plan an exit strategy an hour ahead. For special events, preparation began the night before.

An amazing thing happened, I started to be on time, and sometimes, although not often, early. It felt weird to be early, good but weird.

Since that realization, I've come to the conclusion that optimistic tardiness is in the DNA. Thankfully, my husband contributed the arriving early gene. So with three kids, they naturally present at each point of the spectrum: one is naturally early, one is naturally on time and one is naturally tardy. For the optimistic tardy child, I've been able to offer sympathy and strategies to overcome lateness.

Encouraging other parents to overcome difficulties is such a rewarding experience. I now look at my trial as a blessing so I could share solution strategies with parents who realize being on time doesn't have to be traumatic but a pleasant experience for everyone.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Box Canyon

1950s Cowboy TV shows often used the Box Canyon area as a backdrop. The dry brush and boulders were so much like the descriptions given by Zane Grey or Louis L'Amour, it was the perfect location, just an hour from Hollywood. These are the boulders seen on Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

The topography hasn't changed much despite the fire that clears the canyon once every ten years or so. Old trees wear the scars of past fires, tell the tale of survival.

Hardly barren, the area is full of life including mice, snakes, birds, squirrels and coyotes. The common trait of all these creatures, they are survivors.

This was one of the places my friends and I visited in our teen years. The stories of the haunted caves drew us from a few towns away. The caves were near the location of a plane crash that killed more than 30 people. They were also the home to members of the Manson family during the late 1960s. These caves were a source of youthful anxiety and many a 'dare you' statements.

Years after leaving the area, an occasion brought me back. It was nice to see our goat trials turned into wide hiking trails. Signs warn hikers not to play with the snakes. Small parking lots along the road provide safe places to park and serve as base to zealous hikers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dr. George C Clark's House

Dr. George Crook Clark built his home in Fullerton in 1894. The Eastlake Victorian cottage was home to the Clark family for over fifty years. He and his wife Edith were young and new to the community. It is likely that the doctor’s wife was as instrumental in the community as was her husband.

Arboretum gardeners have added medicine and flower gardens around the house, as were common in the Victorian Age.  Additional buildings and arbors frame the cottage for a romantic look at a Victorian doctor’s life.

Records do show that Dr. George C Clark set up his medical practice in the 1890s becoming the local physician for a burgeoning western community. During his practice of over 60 years, he personally delivered more than 2,500 new residents to Fullerton.

Dr. Clark was not only involved with the community as the town doctor but also in civic matters. He was instrumental in Fullerton’s incorporation and was a member of the city council.

The Clark house and doctor’s office is preserved by generous community contributions. Known as the Heritage House, the doctor’s home and office sits on its new site at the Fullerton Arboretum. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wild Bill Hickock

James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill Hickok became legendary during his lifetime. He was a Union spy, scout, sheriff, gambler and gunfighter.

Born May 27, 1837 on a farm in Illinois, he started working as a stage coach driver at 18. The job took him out West where he worked as a lawman in Kansas and Nebraska. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War becoming a spy in Missouri.

After the war, Hickok returned to his vocation as a lawman. During the course of his duty he killed several men. Additionally, he was involved in other gunfights. In each trial he was acquitted.
Hickok was known for his quick draw in a gun fight. He used what is known as a cavalry draw. The holster hangs reversed with the butt of the gun facing forward. With a twist of the wrist while pulling the gun the pistoleer is ready in a split second. He wore the same guns from 1869 until his death. The guns were ivory handled Colt 1851 .36 Navy Model pistols. His revolvers were engraved J B Hickok.

According to American Legend Martha Jane Cannary also known as Calamity Jane, the two were married after they met in Fort Laramie. Although there is no documentation of the marriage, Calamity Jane confirmed their marriage in a newspaper article in the 1890s. She said she divorced Bill Hickok so he could marry Alice Lake.

Wild Bill was a part of an exclusive group of frontiersmen who became the heroes of dime novels. Hickok along with his friends, Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane represent the mythic individualist of the American West.

Hickok was murdered on August 2, 1876 while playing cards at a Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. In his hand were Aces & Eights. He was 39.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Decorating the warrior graves predates history.  With a Presidential decree in 1966, Memorial Day became the official day of memorial for fallen soldiers.

The US Memorial Day tradition dates to the Civil War with several claims as the first Decoration Day or Memorial Day. Confederate women decorated the graves of dead soldiers as early as 1861. By 1865, many cities decorated Civil War graves.

After spending the morning to decorate graves, many Americans use the day to barbecue with friends and family or take the day at the beach. Memorial Day traditional activities include flag football, Frisbee and pie eating contests. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spaceship Earth

Buckminster Fuller’s philosophy about life on earth greatly influences any holistic minded person who questions society’s current yet artificial dilemmas in energy, economy and environment. 

Within the dynamics of a vehicle with finite resources, the caretakers of Spaceship Earth, need to be more vocal, informational and passionate as the push by the resource pirates disregards the well-being of our spaceship for personal gain.

Food Resource

Particular arguments in the media include Monsanto’s push to genetically control and alter our food resource. If Monsanto/pirates gain ultimate control of food as a resource, everyone would be beholden to them for survival. Genetic alterations have made seed from the food plants inert, virtually unable to produce the next generation. It appears that the conglomerate controls a number of source seed plants giving them the advantage in agriculture commodity markets around the world.

Problems with the Monsanto paradigm includes false scarcity of resources created for increase profit margins, lack of regional diversity in plant based products and reduced vitamin and mineral content in the plant material processed into food stuffs.

Energy Resource

In all science fiction of the early 20th century, energy pirates were obsolete by the 21st century. Clearly the literary community underestimated the ruthless nature of big energy business. Most authors would agree that solar, wind, water and gravity based energy sources should serve humanity with small stipends given to maintenance companies who maintain the mechanics of energy converters. Alas fiction outweighed the science and the powerbase opposed to the conversion.

Big Oil’s Mess

Any media fan will agree that when big oil is in the news, the story is one of two: price gouging or environmental disaster. With the dirty business of oil drilling, processing and consumer demand, there is no silver lining. The question is only how black is the story.

Recent oil disasters have destroyed the environment of coastlines, sea life and eco-tourism. While the public focus began to inquire about ocean rigs and safety issues, big oil happily attacked the heart of North America developing a plan to pump oil over the Ogalala Aquifer.

The Ogalala Aquifer is a shallow water source that provides water to eight states many of which produce food for the country and the world. This aquifer is the reason why the mid-west is also known as a breadbasket of the world. The water resource is primary to life whereas the oil resource is primary to business profit.

Relying on history of safety in oil business, any reasonable person would conclude protection of the water resource far exceeds any business paradigm or profit plan. Particular to the Keystone Pipeline, it appears that the oil barons who approve the plan aren’t even interested in the most profit for their companies but that environmental disaster is key to their ultimate goal because it would be more profitable to build local refineries near the oil source in Canada rather than build a pipeline thousands of miles and refine it in the technologically obsolete refineries in Texas. Double fail for big oil. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hiring Qualified Candidates

It occurred to me in the midst of reading a pile of resumes that writing a proper resume is a rare skill. Resumes are an easy way for employers to narrow the pool of candidates.

We’ve all heard stories of an employer placing an ad for an open position and receiving hundreds of resumes. This is true. What is also true is that there are few applicants that have all the requirements to make it to the top of the pile for a call to interview.

Case in point: 

The marketing person placed several ads for an open position at the company. I was charged with narrowing the candidates and conducting first interviews.

Out of over 500 resumes submitted for one position, I narrowed the pile down to 10. It was a simple process. 

Of all the resumes submitted more than half were incomplete. The ad specifically asked for a resume and a cover letter. There were more resumes without cover letters but there were a few cover letters without resumes attached.

One of the items listed in the ad was the request for salary expectation. The department budget allowed for a certain range for the position. Anyone listing too high likely wouldn’t take the position, so interviewing would be wasting their time and mine. Anyone listing too low likely had too little experience. Again, interviewing would be a waste of time since several years of experience was a requirement.

The cover letter demonstrated the applicants’ communication skill level. All positions at this company interact with customers, vendors and co-workers. Verbal communication and documentation of conversations in notes, orders or email is required.

Each resume is a snap shot of the applicant’s experience. It also demonstrates how they organize information. Resumes should be clear and easy to read. Those that were poorly organized were set aside. 

While some employers require each skill in their ad, I was looking for overall ability with a teachable attitude. The applicants with at least most of the required skills and interesting additional skills caught my attention. If there were other skills listed I knew they weren’t just using the ad to write their resume.

Contact information the resume and the cover letter needed to match. If the phone number and email were available I knew the applicant was eager to be contacted. I did see some resumes with no contact information.

I was a little nervous about narrowing to 10. Ten applicants could take most of the day to interview. But there were applicants who didn’t answer the phone or respond to the message. So the list was reduced to five.

Two out of five nixed themselves because they didn’t show up to the interview.

After the interviews, I had three qualified candidates. Each was given a second interview with the CEO. He liked them all but only one followed up. She got the job.

The steps for selecting appropriate candidates were as follows:

1)      Resume with cover letter (252)
2)      Salary expectation in cover letter (157)
3)      Structured cover letter with proper grammar and correct spelling (30)
4)      Clearly organized resume (23)
5)      Appeared to have the experience necessary (17)
6)      Contact information on the letter and resume (10)
7)      Answered the phone or returned the call for an interview within a day (5)
8)      Showed up on time with their resume in hand (3)
9)      Followed up after the interview (1)
 10) Started the job on Monday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A to Z Reflection

The most pleasant thing happened on the way through the A to Z Blog Challenge, new writing friends offered critique and support for my writing. Any time a writer takes time to read my work I’m just thrilled. I know how limited time is especially in the middle of a project.

My theme of historical characters helped to create an enthusiastic level of comments. I simply love when I can offer a tidbit with the reader saying to themselves (or commenting) I didn’t know that!

Other blog participants did a wonderful job at keeping up the challenge. I enjoyed each entry I read.
Thank you for the opportunity to become introduced to some many wonderful writers. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z= Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

A writer in her own right, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was also the wife of F Scott Fitzgerald. Born in Alabama in 1900, she wrote her first successful novel in 1920, ‘This Side of Paradise.’

Zelda and her friend Tallulah Bankhead were the talk of Montgomery during their high school years. She danced the Charleston and made no pretense about liking boys. As a teen she aspired to be a ballerina. At 27, she become obsessed with the ballet and practiced up to eight hours a day.

Sadly, from 1930 until her death she visited health farm and sanatoriums where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. During a stay at the Phipps Clinic she wrote an entire novel in six weeks. She sent ‘Save Me the Waltz’ to Fitzgerald’s publisher. Fitzgerald was upset that the book paralleled their lives, although his writing did the same. In fact, he copied portions of Zelda’s diaries directly into his work.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y = Yehudi Menuhin

Although he was born in the United States, Yehudi Menuhin lived most if his life in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Yehudi first recorded at the age of 13 and at the time of his last recording he was 83 years old. His recording include classical, jazz and experimenntal music

He was a talented violinist and conductor who went on to found the International Music School, Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists and Live Music Now.

Learn more about Yehudi Menuhin

Listen to Menuhin play Ave Maria followed by the Flight of the Bumble Bee:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X = Xerxes

Xerxes was crowned King of Persia after the death of his father Darius. He was the first son born after Darius had ascended the throne.

As was common in Persia with the change of rulers, Xerxes was immediately challenged by revolts within his kingdom. He began with interventions in Egypt and Babylon followed by a full invasion of Greece.

Xerxes completed the unfinished building project left by Darius which includes the Gate of all nations and Hall of a Hundred Columns at Persepolis and the Susa Gate and palace.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W = Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

Oscar Wilde was the son of Sir William Robert Wills Wilde MD and Lady Jane Francesca Agnes Elgee Wilde, a writer. The Wilde home was known for the intellectuals and nationalists who frequented Lady Jane’s parlor. In this stimulating environment young Oscar learned French and German.

He attended Oxford where he became involved with the philosophy aestheticism. Later, he wrote articles and toured America lecturing about the Aesthetic Movement.  

Ultimately, he became one of the best known playwrights and personalities of the Victorian Era.

Read more of the works of Oscar Wilde at:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V = Victoria Saxe-Coburg- Saalfeld

The longest reigning British monarch was born May 24, 1819 and was fifth in line for the throne. When all of her uncles died childless, she became the heir presumptive.

She met her cousin Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She ascended to the throne just after her eighteenth birthday. Not long after she became Queen Victoria, she proposed to Albert. It is recorded that they were truly in love with each other. They had nine children. When Albert died, her depression was so profound that she ceased all public appearances.

During her years of seclusion, the Queen became particularly attached to her Balmoral Castle servant John Brown. Mr. Brown’s influence on the Queen was greatly resented by her children.  At his death in 1883, the Queen was greatly saddened. She wrote that Mr. Brown’s death was the second time she was ‘deprived of all she so needs.’

The Diamond Jubilee celebrated 60 years of her reign. Festivities included a procession, banquets, review of the troops and a message to the nation. Toward the end of her life, the Queen had returned to popularity with her people.

Details about Her Royal Highness can be found at:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U = Ulysses S Grant

Hiram Ulysses Simpson Grant was born in Ohio. He was nominated for West Point at 17 years of age.  He served in the military for the largest portion of his young adult life. Attempts at business were met with failure.

Grant’s life was difficult and followed the economic turns of the time. He worked hard but few things were successful. With the beginning of the Civil War, he returned to a full time military occupation.

History records that Grant was a successful General and continued with his success into two successful terms as President. As President, he passionately set about changing the culture of the South and was instrumental in limiting association such as the Ku Klux Klan which sought a return to slave-state.

For more about the president memorialized on the fifty dollar bill, go to:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T = JRR Tolien

The son of English parents, Arthur Tolkien and Mabel Suffield, John Ronald Reuel and his brother Hilary were South African by birth. After the early death of his father, a bank clerk, Mabel returned with her sons to her childhood home of West Midland in England.

Not long after Mabel’s conversion to Catholicism, she was diagnosed with diabetes and died. John Ronald and Hilary were boarded with two different families until they became adults.

Even through this tumultuous upbringing, JRR Tolkien demonstrated his linguistic skills mastering Latin and Greek, as well as Gothic and Finnish. In his spare time he made up his own language and shared it with his friends and co-members of the Tea Club, Barrovian Society.

Completing his education, he served in World War I. After the war he worked various jobs until he eventually became a professor at Oxford. His academic career was unremarkable by Oxford standards. However, his social group was quite remarkable. The Inklings members included Own Barfield, CS Lewis and Charles Williams.

To read more about JRR Tolkien visit: