Monday, January 31, 2011

Reflections on 2010, by Gail Earl

For the first time, I felt something different after Christmas. Every year ends with Christmas and I'm usually exhausted but not emotionally wiped out. This year I feel that abundance is dictating our everyday lives. There is just too much of everything. I'm feeling very compelled to make a clear and decisive change. I want to be conscious on a daily basis, of all the excess around me. I feel a nagging urge to be more present in an authentic life. I'm feeling a need that I'm not exactly sure of just how to fill.

I want to be more aware of the time spent on the "quest," rather than the prize. I think I need to step out of my body and my mind and look at my life, and the time that I've been given on this earth. I want to make a daily effort to step back and slow life down.I want to be more aware of the life I've been given and how I spend those days, hours and minutes.
I absolutely love my life, but at the end of this year, I feel I have been selfish with it. I want to do more.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


On Disneyland commercials on TV I would often hear the "Happy Birthday" song. They were singing to Goofy's birthday I think. Yet it wasn't till this morning as I was watching the Tavis Smiley show that I learned that Stevie Wonder actually wrote it for Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Why am I always the last to find out these things? Is it just me? Maybe it's a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

Growing up in Southern California in the 60’s I was never aware of all the injustices going on in the world. Was it my young age? My location? The Anglo leaders in my life? I'm not sure, but I hope to make a difference in my "One and Only Granddaughter" Tiana's life.

In school I never learned what the African-American went through with horrible hatred and lynchings. Never heard about the discrimination the Mexican-American went through. No clue to what the Native-American suffered or how the Japanese-American felt being hauled off to internment camps. Nothing was said to me about what the Jewish people being gassed must have felt during the holocaust. Perhaps if I had known then, I might have died from the fright of it all. My heart, at this age, dies a little each time I read about it.

I just finished Anne Moody's book "Coming of Age in Mississippi" and I still can't believe "man's inhumanity to man." While I wish I had known the truth years ago, I want to educate my Granddaughter on the history so that she will know. . . now. She is of English, Irish, Welsh, German, Mexican, Native and African-American descent.

It is not good being in the dark. Dreams come true with our eyes open. Dr. Martin Luther King's life was dedicated to the dream that he had for the future: that children and adults of all races, creed and religions would live together in harmony. He gave his life for that dream and it will stay reality if we don't live in darkness. Dreams come true with our eyes open.

Stevie wrote that birthday song for Dr. King's birthday. We celebrated it just a few days ago. But I believe we should celebrate it every day in the way we live our lives....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 -- The Maine Event, by Evelyn Watson

Maine was the main event of 2010. After spending a month in Maine the year before, we were enticed to return for a longer period of time- this time staying for a total of ten weeks. It was more than a vacation or an escape from routine; for me it was the opportunity to live life another way. I never found myself anxious or longing to return home because I was involved in life there.

Not only is the landscape of Maine attractive, the summer climate is comfortable with relatively no humidity to speak of, as the rest of the east coast. The wide open land, much different than surroundings here in California, gives me a sense of peace and tranquility.

Driving along wooded roads and beautiful farm land scenes kept the wheels of my mind turning as the naturalness of the land captured my thoughts with how life would be living there. Life is not as fast paced as here and no one seems in a hurry to get things done, yet I think it strange that many I encountered there seemed anxious, nervous, and fearful.

Maine’s landscapes of peace and serenity coincide with the peace in me; and being in its presence I experienced the calmness both within and without. But I question if I would want to live there. Yes, for a time each year, but no, not as my permanent home. My family lives here!

Also, I am nearing an age where I may need their assistance, which I hope not to the point of interfering in their lives, but still may need their advice and assistance to perform for myself without relying on them totally. And I’m not sure I could learn to live comfortably with the cold of Maine’s winter.

But to spend summer’s there as I did in 2010 would be something to look forward to each year and exciting to once again each year re-visit friends and engage in the simple activities of Maine living. I am reminded of when families packed up and spent their summers at the beach; a favorite holiday of Victorian days.

All I need is a summer home in Maine and money to travel back and forth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MY FEAT (FEET) ON A UNICYCLE, by Charlene Farnsworth

Over 50 years ago, I was filled with childhood glee for I had mastered the art of riding a unicycle.  My feat, requiring a great deal of balance, is now accompanied with a bit of irony.
I feel quite comfortable describing my accomplishment in my senior years, but shyly accepted the accolades directed my way each time I jumped off the unicycle in my youth.

My favorite Uncle Jim was a superb athlete.  He performed unbelievable gymnastics on the rings, walked on his hands, treated us to unique maneuvers on a trampoline, and rode his unicycle as if it were a “three-wheeler.”

Although Uncle Jim had two daughters of his own, he always made me feel special and was very interested in all aspects of my life.  It was for him that I wanted to master the unicycle.  The challenge began.

My Dad bolted a pipe from the back wall to the front door of our garage so I could practice, holding on to the pipe for dear life.  Of course, my goal was to someday advance beyond the pipe and proceed, hands-free, down our long driveway.  I remember many sudden departures from the unicycle as I advanced one foot, two feet, maybe a yard, beyond my faithful pipe.

With ongoing encouragement from my family, my perseverance never waned.  Then one day my balance and confidence were perfectly synchronized, and I moved far beyond my safety bar.  I comfortably peddled down our driveway and into our quiet street.  How difficult that was holding onto air, but how exhilarating to peddle, turn around and even smile for the camera.

I must admit I am grateful that my delightful accomplishment was captured in an everlasting black and white photograph.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it myself!  Over the years, I have enjoyed sharing this photograph with many people, particularly children, to show how you will eventually reach your desired goal if you just keep on trying.

Unicycle copy

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things That I Have Learned, by Yolanda Adele

I have learned that friendships can fill voids when family brings disappointments.

I have learned that grandchildren are God’s gift of a second chance.

I have learned from myself that change is necessary.

I have learned from the events of September eleventh 2001, that tomorrow is not a given.

I have learned from my husband that love brings comfort.

I have learned from my cat to nap when the tasks at hand are too trying.

I have learned from my homemaking that I don’t have excuses to be bored.

I have learned from my addiction to chocolate that some things are out of my control.

I have learned through my writing that I have something to say.

These are the life lessons that I hope to keep present in my mind as the New Year comes in with its new adventures and challenges.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Tradition, by Dora Silvers

Last week my son Neil came from San Luis Obispo.  He brought me a fruit cake from his Twin Sister Nancy, who lives in Seattle, Washington.

When I came to California, I was in Huntington Park. In the window of a Health Food Store, was a display of glazed fruit.  Since I wanted a snack, I asked for a 1/4 lb. of glazed fruit.  The man asked me if I was going to make a fruit cake, I said "No, I just wanted a snack." He gave me his recipe for fruitcake.  I looked it over and I decided to try and make the cake and send some back east to my relatives.  

The day after Halloween, I made several and wrapped them up, put them in the cupboard for 4 weeks as per the instruction.  I cut cardboard and made boxes and mailed them.  Everyone was delighted; they all enjoyed the treat from California. 

I made them for over 50 years.  Now Nancy makes them and sends them to me, her 3 brothers and her Aunts in New Jersey.  Nancy is following the "Tradition" of the California Fruitcake, she also makes them the day after Halloween.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Small World, by Annette Skarin

I dropped off Nellie, a dog I pet-sit for, at the veterinarian to get her shots and a bath. I decided to stop at Panera café for a cup of coffee and a bagel. I settled into a booth next to a group of seniors who were at the time the only ones in the shop.
I was alone so I thought listening in on their conversations might be interesting. They seemed to be good friends and at ease with one another. One gentleman stood up and I noticed that he had a ceramic cup in his hand (I had been given a paper one). I asked him about the ceramic cup and he told me that you had to ask for one. He said to follow him to the counter.
They gave me the cup I wanted, and then the gentleman asked me to join him and the other “seniors” at their table. Since there was no room at the table, I began to converse with them while standing. I mentioned to them that I had been to a memoir writing class the day before. One of the ladies excitedly told me that one of the ladies in the group had just sent in an article a month ago to a magazine called Reminisce, and they sent her a check for one-hundred dollars.
The lady had just stepped out but they gave me her name as Pat Edwards. I could hardly believe it. I then told them about a lady from our group who had an article published in the same magazine. I said her name was Dora and someone had sent in her article anonymously and she also received a check for the same amount. I told them that she read it for us, and what a wonderful heart-warming story it was. The ladies said they would be looking for the story.
What a small world indeed! This wonderful group of friends meets together every week and I think I might just drop in once and a while.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas, 2010 -- by Peggy Knorr

Christmas was different for me this year. 
I was surrounded by a multitude of wonderful friends, both in physical and spiritual form, who gave me of their limitless love and caring while Joe, my husband of just under 65 years, began his final journey into the great beyond.  

From his 95th birthday on December 13th, to Christmas Eve, when he slipped peacefully away, I was comforted and supported by their great and bountiful caring. 

Especially, I hold my undying gratitude to Michelle, my beautiful neighbor, who was constantly present in every aspect of this difficult time. From every turn this drama took as it unfolded, from the decision making times, the exasperating times, the physical strength-needing times, the spiritual wisdom-needing times, to the inevitable comical times, and her willingness to be available at any hour of day or night with her undivided, support, I am awed and eternally thankful. Because of her it was possible to have this hallowed experience at home where we all wanted it to be.

For all my friends and family, known or unknown, I send this message of love and appreciation.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Rose Parade, by Evelyn Watson

Parades were never much of a big deal for me, even the world famous Rose Parade on New Year’s Day didn’t much thrill me, except it was special time with my dad. Dad loved the Rose parade and looked forward to it each year.

Just he and I went; mother wasn’t really able to endure the long day of standing and, like me, I don’t think she relished parades much either. She never said that, but I never got the impression she felt she was missing anything by not being able to go.

We never sat in bleachers or camped out on the streets as is done today. In fact we didn’t leave the house until about time for the parade to start. We didn’t pack a lunch or take anything with us except dad’s camera and film.

I don’t remember any of the details of where we parked or where we were positioned to watch the parade, but we never had any traffic or parking difficulties. We heard and saw everything without difficulty being able to view the floats and bands up close as they passed by.

Dad was in his glory and took lots of pictures with his slide camera delighting in showing slides to family and friends afterward. I’m sure they had all watched the parade on television and seen the floats, but dad enjoyed this tradition and no one ever refused looking at them.

After all these years I still have those slides. Dad was so proud to show his slides and brag about going to the parade without the hassle of traffic or parking problems. How we did that I can’t imagine and the fact that we never had anyone ask to go with us seems strange because it seems everybody is thrilled by the Rose parade except me.

I don’t bother to watch the parade on New Year’s Day. To me it is boring. That is not to say the floats aren’t beautiful and clever, because they are. You marvel as to how they were able to create them.

A few years ago we went with friends a day or two after the parade to where the floats are taken for viewing. I was not happy being charged to view them and as beautiful as they were I grew bored and tired before we finished.

But I’ll never forget dad’s love for the Rose parade. It was probably the thing he looked forward to the most.