Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Are you ready?

It seems that is the question of the day these last couple of weeks. Ready? Well, let's see...
Here is our dining room table....Christmas in progress...still writing cards, making gift tags and wrapping surprises. The good news is that the out of town packages have been shipped!

We went to Nancy's Christmas Tree farm on Sunday and found this little cutie. The lights are on...but, that's as far as we have gotten...we need to pull the boxes of Christmas treasures from the garage and get this decked out!

There's still a lot of baking and candy making to be done. And, we have to keep moving...if we stand in one place too long, we stick to the floor! The sugars, like pixie dust, have gone everywhere! Peanut brittle, chocolate espresso bark, pumpkin bread and the ever popular shortbread...all in demand (and expected!) at this time of year!

Here are a few of our Christmas books. The Tall Book of Christmas is one of my favorites.

Still need to hang the stockings...as soon as I find them! The Christmas DVDs are on rerun rotation...can't get enough! Oh, and the music, too. Thank God for the iPod....it's all there at my finger tips!

Our Nativity is on the buffet, complete with tiny star glitter.

So, am I ready? Not yet. I am so enjoying the process, though! Things might look a bit naked and the dining room table is organized chaos. It won't be long before all will be finished and everything will be magical!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Tis the Season!

I hope you haven't given up on me and my blog, dear friends! Many of you are probably in the same boat (and it's a miracle we are all still a float!). Those daily details of life have sidetracked me...but not for much longer!

I am working on a new blog post (actually, two)...so bear with me as I redirect the creative juices. And, thanks for hanging in there!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Made in America...some thoughts...

Lately, the news media and the Internet have been peppered with stories about not buying things that are made outside of the USA. It's great in concept...but, honestly, how DO we DO that?

I noticed on an item of clothing in Target the other day...the label was like a mini-novelette: fabric made in the USA and assembled in Bangladesh...or, was it Taiwan? US companies are making the raw materials and sending them overseas to assemble?

And, hey, does 'made in the USA' pertain to produce? Beverages? Meat? How does that work?

China has been the main target for a couple of years now. And, I have to admit, China does seem to be the one country that is pumping out merchandise and shipping it state wide faster than any other country. The majority of the toys are manufactured there...and a lot of that stuff that Santa brings this year won't make it to New Year's...why? Because they are not made to last. Toys need to be able to "take a licking and keep on ticking" ~ after all, kids play hard!

Then, there's the holiday wrap and ribbons, ornaments and trendy holiday home decorations...most come from overseas somewhere. And, I'm the first one to admit, I've got some...made in Germany, made in Japan, made in Taiwan, made in Poland...and, yes, made in China. Some of our Christmas treasures are over 50 years old.

I got to wondering just how long would it take a US company to bring their manufacturing back to the states? And, if they did, how much more would the products cost? Certainly this would create more jobs. But, does anyone know how much more we will need to spend to have that label say "Made in the USA"?

I have no problem, not one, with making every effort in buying things only made in the USA. I think the tides are beginning to turn. But, it's going to take time. So...I will continue to look at the labels, check the marking on the packaging.....and hopefully, I will find more choices that are made right here in the USA!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November is here...

I went out to the mailbox yesterday afternoon (October 31) and this was what I found...no letters, no bills...just a plethora of catalogs!

My feelings were a bit mixed at this discovery. I love looking through catalogs...not so much for the shopping aspect but rather more for inspiration. The photography, the color schemes, the overall presentation of the merchandise is eye candy and food for thought. A challenge, if you will. How can I replicate that cozy feeling with what I have in my butler's pantry, linen closet and boxes of seasonal treasures?

I'm embarrassed on two fronts ~ one, my mail carrier had to schlep all of these in one delivery and two, I thought I had 'gone green' and opted out for the hard copy of most of these catalogs! I perused through the pages of each one and kept.....two. Williams-Sonoma and Pendleton.

Williams-Sonoma has a great catalog and they are savvy at luring you in! The recipes, alone, cause me to grab my sharpie and write 'save!' on the cover....sometimes with the page numbers listed. There is a warm, enticing feeling you get when you look at the well-set tables . The linens, the dishes ~ the photos are orchestrated right down to the last detail, capturing the overall ambiance that everyone appreciates, dreams about and yet, rarely attempts to create a similar look in their own home.

Pendleton....need I say more? Colorful, warm, beautiful blankets made in the USA. Their blankets are wool and basically an investment. One for each bed and you are good to go for many years of cozy sleeping!

The truth about the catalog thing is that we have become somewhat of a materialistic society. I say 'somewhat' because we do need to shop for basic things...things like clothing that is worn out or outgrown, towels and bed linens that are used daily and have seen better days and replacements for broken dishes and glassware. But, how much 'stuff' do we need?

I am guilty of the dishes-thing. I love to set a nice table. And, it is fun to have a choice of patterns and color schemes. Linens, too. So fun to be able to set just the right mood with a special tablecloth. Instead of using the items we have stashed in our cupboards and linen closets, we tend to get caught up in the latest trends ~ colors, styles, textures that are determined to be 'in' by designers around the world.

Strategically creative and meticulous marketing techniques have been honed to a fine science. Once we open that catalog, peruse that Target ad or walk into that specialty store, we are at the mercy of the retail industry!

This year, I have made a promise to myself...to use what we have. To set an inviting table, to decorate with imagination and create a welcoming ambiance for all who come to our home. I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Ode to Pete

It's the end of October now...we've had our vacation...and in the midst of the re-entry to work and the daily details of life, we had to let our darling Pete go.

He came home from 'camp' on Sunday...messy and tired ~ the normal m.o. after spending a week with Tom in Lancaster. He hung out with Pumpkin, the miniature pony, and the rest of the menagerie. He was glad to be home with us. That was the last day we heard him bark.

Monday, Pete slept most of the day on his large pillow bed in the living room. Tired but still quite focused on the kibble dish! Tuesday morning came and things went quickly down hill.

Pete joined us 12+ years ago after an abusive first year. We had adopted his sister, Annie, in 1998. Just a year later, we received a call saying that there was another dog looking for a home...did we want another dog?

Pete and Annie, reunited, became the dynamic duo. Quick to play and always looking for that opportunity of divert and conquer. We lost Annie in 2007. Pete rose to the occasion and was appropriately deemed our court Jester! Just a few french fries short of a Happy Meal, he made us laugh, he tugged at our heartstrings and loved us unconditionally.

We had no idea when we returned from vacation that our home was headed for the empty-nest classification.

Last Wednesday, after a long Tuesday that included no appetite (including kibble, treats, cooked chicken and frozen broccoli straight from the freezer) and continued vomiting, it was evident that we needed to let our Pete go. His spirit was oh, so strong. But, his body was finally giving into the 13 1/2 years of life.

It's been just a week ... and the void is beyond description. We miss him so much...our hearts hurt beyond belief.

But. We are so lucky that he was part of our family. Both he and Annie filled our lives with laughter and stories we will remember and share for years to come. 

So, to you, Pete...thank you for being all that you were to our family. We miss you desperately and yet, we know you are at peace...and probably running a-muck with Annie. We love you, Pete. You, too, Annie. Rest in Peace...dear pups. xoxo

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello, Autumn!

With the arrival of Autumn came the new blush of roses...absolutely beautiful! I find it amazing that all it takes is a little water, some rose food and periodic deadheading to score such incredible blooms!  They looked great in the garden...and I just had to bring some inside to look at while I do the dishes and bake my cookies!

Once Autumn has arrived, the baking commences! And the minute I decide to bake, Indian Summer brings the triple-digit temperatures right back! Even in the heat, I turn on that oven! I love making Ginger Crisps! The recipe makes a boat-load of cookies (depending, of course, on the size of your cookie cutters) and can be frozen. This recipe is from my friend, Susan Branch. She has a website: http://www.susanbranch.com/ and a blog! Do stop in for some wonderful inspiration and lots of recipes.  Here we are at her shop in Arroyo Grande...

The Autumn skies are spectacular! Deep blue with white, puffy clouds...the puffiest of all seasons!

O0o0ooOooo! I simply l♥ve Autumn!

When the leaves are turning crimson, deep orange and rusty green...this can only mean one thing....it's almost time for Halloween!

Several Halloweens ago, Martha Stewart offered a pattern for a life-size witch on her website. A free, 24 page pattern! So, I printed out the pattern and pieced the whole thing together with yards of Scotch tape. Charlie, the master craftsman here at the Outpost, traced and cut her out...and gave her a coat of paint. I put together the jar lantern and dug out an old broom from the garage. Our son, not to be outdone, stopped by on the way home from work and gave the witch his apron (thank you, Starbucks)!

This is my salute to my buddy-in-crime...my best friend and soul mate, Charlie.

...there's more to come...so stay tuned!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

From my journal of 9/11/2001

September 14, 2001

I lay in the early morning darkness ~ listening to the morning routine ~ Charlie and the pups have gone downstairs. The shower is turned on. Then off. The clickity-click of eight small but mighty paws dancing on the kitchen floor ~ then the kibble hitting the metal dog dishes…I am comforted by the sounds of the routine.

My thoughts go back to Tuesday morning, September 11…

The day began with the regular routine…I dropped Whit off at the bus stop at 6:25 a.m.  I return home and hear the phone ringing as I am unlocking the front door.  I pick up and Charlie is on the other end ~ “Are you watching the news??!!!”  He sounds anxious.  “No,”  I say. “ I don’t watch TV in the morning anymore.” He exclaims, “Two planes have just crashed into the World Trade Center!” I momentarily stop breathing. My thoughts begin to scramble. “What?!!!” I hear myself asking.

So begins the infamous day of terror ~ September 11, 2001.

I tune in the news station on the radio as I drive to work.  I am still grasping for coherent thoughts. Disbelief ~ stomach churning, heart wrenching disbelief.  What is going on?

As I arrive at the school, I am mentally sorting my list of details on my to-do list. I go upstairs and unplug the black and white TV from the staff lounge and bring it to my office.  Not just for me but for all of our staff. This will begin a three-day monitoring of updates and news briefs.  I am numb.

The images focus on the screen…now there have been three planes that have crashed: two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.  It is now apparent, the newscaster says, that these were orchestrated terrorist attacks!

I check e-mail. Now we learn a total of four planes have crashed, the last in a field near Pittsburgh. President Bush, who was in Florida, is immediately evacuated to Air Force One. After one brief refueling and a short statement indicating that he is on it, he again returns to the air for a destination unknown.  We later learn he was in a bunker in Nebraska.

Airports are closed.  All airplanes are ordered to land at the nearest airport.  More pictures appear on the TV ~ many replays ~ lots are new.

Julie has just come to me and says her daughter has been released from school ~ the same school Whitney attends. I try to get hold of the office to give my permission. The secretary attempts to transfer me and I am cut off. I call back, connecting to the operator who patches me through the Attendance Office.  Mr. Sorenson answers and I ask if he has seen whit. No, he tells me, but they are releasing the kids with verbal parental consent.  He asks how I want to handle it.  I tell him to tell Whit I will meet him in lot H! I tell him I will be there in 15 minutes!

I arrive a t the school in 15 minutes (traffic was very light, thank God).  I pull around to lot H, park and wait.  Just two minutes later I see Whit headed for the bus stop. I hit the horn ~ he looks up and is surprised ~ and relieved. As he gets into the car he tells me that he had called his dad (it was 1:30 by the time he got to a phone) and Charlie had told him to take the bus.  He never got my message. I make a mental vow to work on the cell phone issue next week.

Tuesday P.M.

Darkness. Everyone is home safe, but extremely tired.  We are wired ~ we are anxious ~ we are glued to the TV. Peter Jennings is reporting details I can’t even comprehend. Four planes have crashed ~ three bound for Los Angeles; one for San Francisco. I think: this has to be a movie!

Replay after replay of explosions, destruction and people jumping from the World Trade Center. Rubble ~ people running for their lives.

Bedtime 9/11

We have gone to bed ~ worried, scared, almost too tired to sleep. But finally, sleep takes over.  In the wee hours of Wednesday, my breath catches. Aircraft is heard overhead ~ for a split second, I panic. All planes were to be grounded…Charlie stirs…I nudge him… “There’s a plane!” I whisper. He quietly reassures me ~ “It’s a military aircraft on patrol.” I exhale. “Oh.” We are both awake ~ listening ~ the silence is deafening. Not a car passes on the freeway a mile away. Not a chirp from a bird or a snap from a cricket. Nothing is moving.

We fall into exhausted sleep.

Wednesday morning arrives so quickly. We are beyond tired ~ Charlie snaps on the radio…I follow soon after, turning on the TV, hungry for updates. I vow to curtail my attention to the TV, but catch myself watching, waiting…

The morning routine continues ~ Charlie leaves, Whit shuffles to the shower ~ I continue to stare at “the box”.  Reassurances are made regarding the flight activity overnight. Yes, there were planes ~ mostly military ~ but all with FAA clearance.

I drop Whit off at the bus stop and return home. I do a load of laundry. The washer is leaking so badly now that the cookie tray underneath catching the water has to be emptied after each load. What a hassle. As quickly as I think that, I chastise myself ~ big deal! The washer leaks. New York is under tons of rubble. Ok ~ I regroup. I leave for work.

I am feeling quite helpless~ all those people still trapped ~ and their families and friends who are waiting to hear. What can I do? The plea for blood donors continues ~ I try to call for an appointment ~ but all I get is a busy signal. This is a good sign, but still frustrating.

The TV drones in the background as I check e-mail. Letters and essays are forwarded ~ one witness writes from his home in Brooklyn after leaving Manhattan. A reprint of an editorial from a Canadian newspaper urging America to “stand proud” crosses my e-mail several times.

Teachers and staff are trickling in, their voices low, their faces tired ~ everyone compares notes so no one misses a detail.  Jane’s official letter goes out to the programs for distribution.

Somehow, the day goes on. I find it difficult to focus on much of anything. Finally, 1:30 comes and I am out of there. I go home ~ I am restless. I turn on the TV for distraction and find myself watching.

I should do laundry, dishes and a multitude of other chores. I don’t want to do anything. I am glued to the TV.

The routine continues the best it can. I go to pick up Whitney at the bus stop. He is on time. We return, he goes to the computer and checks his e-mail. I decide we will have roast chicken and rice for dinner tonight. I run to Von’s for a cooked bird. I come home and put on the rice.

Charlie walks in shortly after ~ exhaustion written all over his face. He turns on KZLA on the radio and goes upstairs to change. The DJ reads an inspiring statement and the plays “God Bless the USA”. I am crying.

By the time evening is here we are all ready to crawl into bed.


I arrive at work and turn on the TV. Peter Jennings is still there ~ does this man not sleep?

Jackie, one of our teachers, comes into my office and let’s me know she has been put “on alert” ~ as an Army Reserve.  Ed is not coming in ~ he has “things to do”. I check my e-mail ~ candlelight vigils are announced ~ one nationwide tomorrow at 7 PM. “Fly Your Flag Day” tomorrow ~ for everyone. Everyone is urged to wear red, white and blue tomorrow.

More essays ~ one from the Seattle Times: “You don’t know what you just started, but you’re about to learn…”

I learn from Jose, our maintenance man, his nephew is missing.  He was a waiter at the World Trade Center. Jose’s brother lives in El Salvador and has no way to get back to New York.  It has come home to us all. I send an e-mail to the P.O. community, encouraging everyone to keep staff and their families in their prayers.

I am tired of the TV ~ but no break is in sight.  Mary sends me a  “Nostradamus” prediction…not quite accurate (it was really predicting an event in 1999) but still causes me to stop and think.

I try to find the lyrics to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood on the net. Several sites recognize the song and the artist ~ but I can’t find the lyrics.

The workday ends and I go to Horty Van to see if I can get a flag for my car window. They are out of American flags ~ have been since Wednesday. No biggy. I will pull one from the July 4th box.

The 4th of July stuff is right there in the media room. I select a flag ~ take it off the little stick and tape it inside of the back window of the van. Then I make a small sing that says “God Bless the USA” and place it under my flag. I am ready.

I go to Target for a candle ~ I find three ~ a red one, white one and a blue one ~ for 99 cents each.

I then go over to Vroman’s to see if Newsweek and Time Magazines (special editions) are available. I am told “tomorrow”. I then look for the New York Times. They are out of these, too. As I walk towards my car, a lady comes up from behind me and tells me that they have the N.Y. Times across the street, indicating Bungalow News. I had forgotten all about that place. So, I go over to Bungalow News and, sure enough, they have the Times.   And, they have the new People Special Edition on the recent terrorist attacks.  I pick up both. I ask about the Newsweek and Time. They tell me “tomorrow”. They open at 7 AM.

I think to myself ~ I haven’t done this (collected newspapers and magazines of a major event) since Princess Diana was killed. I am formulating a journal/scrapbook on all this ~ I’m not sure how it will lay out ~ but I am thinking about it.  I stop at Michael’s to look at scrapbook paper. Not much to select from with a patriotic theme. No stickers, either. That’s ok. And I go home.

After everyone gets home ~ we continue on with our routine. Charlie works on two American flags he wants to fly from his truck. I give him a copy of my sign for the truck window.

I go upstairs and crawl into bed. I drop off into a deep sleep. I don’t remember the dogs or Charlie coming upstairs.


Charlie needed to be at work early, and is gone by 5. I shower. Whit showers. Whit has his new dance bag and is ready early. I drop him at the bus and head over to Bungalow News. As I head south on Lake, I see a huge American flag hanging on the MIndyMac Bank building. Chills run down my back.

I am early, of course, and the newsstand is not open yet. At the moment, I don’t have anywhere to be just now. I watch the sun peek above the buildings on
Colorado Blvd.
A flock of birds are flying in formation over the buildings ~ so synchronized you could swear it had been rehearsed. Life is continuing.

Soon, others begin to gather in front of the newsstand. Businessmen, a landscaper ~ we all wait quietly. 7 AM.  The door is unlocked and we are invited in. Many of the others pick up a copy of each newspaper available. There must be a dozen or more, I estimate. Then, the magazines. Time. Newsweek. ~ there is a Business week and some other publications for the financial wizards. I just want the NY Times, Time and Newsweek. I pay and leave.

I see Gloria as I head down California. I pick her up and we chat. We walk together into the school ~ I get to my office. It is so quiet. I open my inner door and notice many large boxes. My day begins ~ I check e-mail ~ an essay by an 18 year old is forwarded to me ~ “You hit the buildings, but missed America”. Very poignant. And, an email from my son which is an article written by a friend and ~ hooray! ~ the words to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”.

Awhile later, Jane comes in and tells me she will begin looking for a replacement for Jackie. She knows it’s just a matter of time before Jackie will need to leave for reserve duty.

This has been a long week ~ an incredible week. I just want quiet. I tell Julie I am leaving early ~ 12:30 (big deal) (an hour early) ~ I am exhausted ~ I want to be somewhere else ~ no TVs, no radios, no newspapers. I need to escape. My brain is on overload ~ probably no more than anyone else’s ~ but this week has been intense ~ I need a commercial break!


On TV we see Peter Jennings interviewing/chatting with a group of kids. He looks rested but tired.

More news: President Bush and the Security Council are bunkered at Camp David. Bush vows we will win. As does every citizen interviewed on the street. I am reminded of the scene at Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind ~ they, too, were going to win! The charge came ~ and the loss unbelievable. I fear we face the same now. No matter how careful we will be, the losses will cost us dearly ~ for if only one life is lost in battle, the cost will have been too much.

But our country is united right now ~ and I think, while they want to avoid a “knee jerk” response, there will be a response very soon. The success of this mission will depend, in part, on the unity of the country. Our spirit is strong. ~

Whit has gone to volunteer at the Pasadena Playhouse. The distraction will be good for him ~ I’m not quite sure how he is taking this all in ~ he seems so disinterested. But, I remind myself, he’s 15 ~ he is interested in his own way. He just doesn’t want to talk about it. Yet.

Charlie and I watch a special Oprah and then the two-hour special America’s Most Wanted with John Walsh. He’s there with camera crew at ground zero ~ in the debris field. He urges anyone with info on the terrorists to call 1-800-crime-tv. I am exhausted. I go upstairs to watch the end of the show and fall asleep.  Whit comes home and says goodnight.


6 AM ~ the dogs are up. They are the routine this Sunday morning. Charlie has struggled with an allergy attack all night ~ he sounds like a chain saw and a percolator! In the quiet it is quite loud!

The pups and I are up and head for the stairs. Annie pauses to do her cat stretch at the top of the stairs, which nearly causes me to trip. The dogs and I make it downstairs like the herd of elephants we’ve become. I dish up the kibble and Pete eats immediately.  Annie only wants attention.

I make a cup of tea and re-read my previous notes. Yes. We are at war. President Bush has said as much. He guarantees we will “smoke them out” ~ but it will be a careful and methodic procedure. A long haul. Are we, as a country, ready to commit to this? At the moment, we are. The blood banks are overwhelmed with the response to the call. But the response will need to continue. The shelf life of blood is not too long, and more will be needed. People are donating money, pledging support ~ they will need to continue, for this battle will be costly. There is no easy, overnight ‘fix’ for terrorism. Eventually, the fight will get old ~ but I pray that we will remain united. All of the “arm chair generals”, the weekend strategists, need to remain supportive and united. Those American flags must remain flying now and forever. We must never let our guard down.


It’s been over a month since this crisis began. We began bombing Afghanistan last weekend. We are pinpointing terrorist training camps, ammo bunkers ~ anything that might house or hide terrorists.

Last night, we heard on the news that all of the food that we had been dropping to the civilians in Afghanistan has been fed to their animals. They don’t know what to do with peanut butter. All they want is rice and beans. I picture in my mind a camel with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth.  Hmmm.  Did we not include instructions?
Whit’s comment was “screw them”. Charlie explains why we are dropping food to them It’s the humane thing to do. Whit responded, “Humane?! Blasting into two buildings full of people was humane? They don’t have a clue what humane is. Screw them.”

Finally, we hear from our son.

That was the only news we listened to last night. A five-minute blip. It feels good not to be glued to the tube. I ask myself if this is not a denial tactic ~ not tuning in. No, it’s survival. We can only handle so much and then we must move on to daily tasks. To watch 24/7 will only cause more stress and tension, of which we have too much already.

May we never forget. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

25 Random Things

A couple of years ago, someone on Facebook 'tagged' me ~ and the assignment was to jot down 25 random things about me. I was amazed at how quickly this list came together...

1. I love rainy days.
2. While I have relaxed a bit, I still like a neat home.
3. I always wanted to be part of the 'in crowd' in Jr. & Sr. High.
4. Looking back, I now know I wasted way too much time worrying about not being in the 'in crowd'!
5. I loved working with Mr. Solari as a teacher's assistant.
6. I love dabbling in photography, creative writing, gardening and cooking.
7. Being over 50 does not make you a senior; you're just seasoned!
8. My favorite color is green, though I love all of the autumn colors.
9. I'm helplessly romantic.
10. I give better than I receive.
11. I like to be appreciated....and I hate cookie cutter compliments.
12. I sometimes miss the care-free days.
13. Give me the beach or the mountains anytime, but let our home be our home base.
14. There's nothing more enjoyable than sitting around the fire, under the stars, sharing a glass of wine with friends.
15. Shopping is not all its cracked up to be.
16. I am very proud of our son ~ he is amazing!
17. I love a good steak dinner but can be equally happy with tuna salad.
18. I have a hard time giving myself 'permission' to do fun things if there is laundry waiting to be done.
19. I need to stop being analytic when getting ready to have friends in. Everyone has dust bunnies.
20. One of my all-time favorite movies is "Hatari!" with John Wayne.
21. The movie Halloween H20 is about as scary as I can handle.
22. I hate menopause. Those power surges are the pitts.
23. I value every friend I have had and do have now. They are worth more to me than diamonds.
24. I don't regret much...the stuff I do regret are just lessons to learn from. I learn and move on.
25. My bucket list is so long, I may be here forever!

...and you know what? The list is the same today....how about that??!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011


As with most fads and phases, things that were once in, hot, to die for and popular 50 plus years ago seem to return decades later to rekindle that fad with a whole new generation.

Take scrapbooking. Back in the day, this included a large, sometimes themed book with lots of blank pages. Items were glued in or taped down after being torn, trimmed or pressed. Sometimes written entries would be made...the date, the event and who was there.

My first scrapbook was actually a large pad of plain ol' newsprint, bound on the side with some sort of graphic on the front cover. Inside were pictures from magazines and punch outs printed on card stock and glued in with old-fashioned library paste. My sisters and I would sit around the dining room table for hours, cutting and pasting just about anything that would fit!

Years later, in the late 60's, I received an over sized scrapbook with a leather-like cover in deep orange...my favorite color! Inside were 50 12" x 18" blank gray pages. It wasn't long before they were covered with pressed corsages, party invitations, bits of ribbon, little notes that had been passed in class, pep rally tags, football game news articles...you name it, it was all there. Then, one day, that album had reached its limit. Not one more page would fit.  Instead of buying another scrapbook, new treasures were safely stashed in envelopes and shoe boxes.

Fast forward to the mid-80's and scrapbooking came of age. A company called Creative Memories appeared on the horizon, totally by accident, and has become one of the leading scrapbooking companies in business today. Sold at home-party venues and followed up with hands-on workshops, these scrapbooks, now called Memory Albums, have raised the bar in scrapbook making. New ways to tell the stories....and the 'telling' oh-so important! Now called 'journaling', it has become key to include the 'who, what, where, when and how's' in one's own handwriting with the photos and embellishments.

With the new interest in scrapbooks, there are new 'rules'. Everything must be acid and lignin free. This includes album pages, decorative papers, stickers, embellishments, ephemera, doo-dads, ink and adhesives. This keeps the photos from being threatened by chemicals that can destroy the images. Today's scrapbook market is peppered with hundreds of companies offering all sorts of things to decorate the scrapbook pages by color, subject, theme and holiday. No longer do the photos and trinkets have to exist on a naked scrapbook page. It's like going from a black and white TV to one with color. Once you have the color, you can't go back!

A couple of months back, I decided that I needed some sort of scrapbook for the little things I had accumulated....ticket stubs, matchbook covers, labels and stickers, package tags, business cards, post cards and letters, tiny pieces of fabric, feathers, colorful paper clips, small photos, lists, coffee cup wrappers, cute sticky notes, doodles and sketches I had drawn....you know... stuff. I found a blank art book that was perfect. Black cover, spiral bound, clean, white pages...an empty and open canvas!

On my way home, I stopped at Target. After all, it was on the way home, I had the time...so why not stop and see what all was new?  In my browsing, I came across a neat storage box, complete with a lid...one that said it all: 

...for $6.99!  When I got home, I gathered the plethora of envelopes and Ziploc bags that held my treasures and stashed them in my new 'stuff'  box. Now organized, I have set up my project on the dining room table....scissors, adhesive, inks & rubber stamps, stains and colored pencils, patterned paper tape and handmade library pockets for little notes, tags and secrets.

Well, now...it seems I've gone full circle with this scrapbooking thing! I'm loving this free-form scrapbook. Its more of an art form and I'm having fun putting all those little treasures that are mine alone in a place where they will be for me to visit when the mood strikes!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pet Peeves

That term seems to be an oxymoron to me…pet ~ meaning favorite…peeve ~ meaning dislike…? Well, ok…I don’t want to debate the meaning at this point…but rather, throw out some observations to some pet peeves I have….little annoyances that are like a splinter that nags at your finger…bug-a-boos that really seem to take on a life of their own because there is no control or way to fix/correct the problem!

Turn Signals ~ I’m guessing, due to budget cuts, this little action was eliminated from the driver training curriculum. Most drivers either don’t even know what that little gizmo does or don’t care. The non-use of it, however, is powerful in that it totally annoys the driver in the rear. Intentional or not, the lack of use is guaranteed to send the blood pressure up a notch or two.

Grocery Cart Operators ~ Am I the only one that gets a back ache just from watching those who push their grocery carts with their elbows? Grocery cart leaners... Not only does this slow the shopping traffic down, but the control of the cart is compromised.  While I’m at it, I need to mention the abandoned carts in the middle of the aisle while the cart owner disappears to another part of the store.

Cell Phones ~ Now, here’s a hot button category. A necessary evil, this little device has totally disrupted life as we once knew it. The routine has shifted: unlock vehicle, get in, sit down, seat belt on, keys in ignition, phone turned on, then, stuck between ear and shoulder, car started and on the road they go. At first, I thought people were dealing with some sort of malady…like their neck was cocked permanently. Once on the road, however, the hand stealthily slips up to take control of the phone, and then, the arm is positioned to suggest either the driver is bored or has a horrendous earache.

Residential Street Parking ~ I understand…I totally comprehend that the street is public…and parking in residential areas generally is open to all. What I don’t get is the random cars that appear after dark and are parked overnight up and down the street and in front of my home; strange vehicles that do not belong to my neighbors or their visitors.  Where do they come from? Who do they belong to? And why are they parked here? Oh, and here’s a good one…where is the overnight parking enforcement? There is an ordinance in place that restricts overnight parking without a permit.

Why does this bother me? It’s the disregard for the homeowners; the lack of respect for those of us who work hard to maintain our property, including the area in front of our homes. The fast food trash in the street, the casually discarded cigarette butts and the noise from the late comings and goings ~ all just annoying. The cocky attitude that gives an air that says the driver is above showing respect.

Several months ago, I was out in the front garden, tinkering away and dead-heading the roses. I looked up just as a car pulled up across the street next to the dirt strip that runs parallel to the sports field. The driver rolled down his window and threw a piece of trash out. Not satisfied where it landed, he got out of his vehicle, picked up the piece of trash, and threw it further into the brush. I could not believe my eyes! Really?!! As he took off, I noticed he had a child in the back. He sped up and as he passed, I shouted, “HEY!” The car stopped, and then backed up. He rolled down the passenger window and said, “Is there something wrong?”  To which I responded, “Do you want to go back and pick up your trash?!!!!” Not another word was spoken. He backed his car up, stopped, got out and picked up the trash, and the, drove off in another direction.

Pet peeves….everyone has them. Most of the time, I try to ignore the ongoing audacity. On occasion, however….well, you know…..

….and, this is where my mom would quietly sigh and urge, “Honey. Pick your battles.” Wise woman, my mom. Sure do miss her. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mai Tai time!

It's Thursday afternoon...I've been a bit distracted from the computer these last few days; hence the lack of updates on my blog!  It's rather nice outside (compared to earlier this week) ~ the gentle breeze has brought much-needed cooling...and, I'm digging it!

This is the time of week that I begin to think about >the weekend<! What will I/we be doing? I just looked out the dining room windows...and, oh, yeah....hmmm...got to get that stuff OFF of the driveway and either in the garage or over to Out of the Closet thrift shop. We found some great industrial shelving at Cost Co and let me tell you, the garage is looking great! What a difference! We actually can see where things are!

So, after we clean up that mess, Sunday brings Tiki Highway at Don the Beachcomber in Manhattan Beach. Another Tiki celebration, hosted by our friend, Holden Westland!

Holden is the owner of Tiki Farm, and creator of hundreds of different Tiki Mugs. Here's the link to Tiki Farm! http://www.tikifarm.com/

Yes, Tiki! That pop culture from the 50's!  You know, Hawaiian shirts, ukuleles, Mai Tais, pin-up girls,  the atomic music, the retro clothing...all that is Tiki is back bigger than ever! A true tropical genre that lends to an ongoing party atmosphere!

Even the Enchanted Tiki Room has undergone refurbishment, thanks to the Dole Company! This is the first audio animatronics attraction that Walt Disney created and introduced in Adventureland. A great technology that is found not only at all of the Disney theme parks, but venues world wide.

Shag, (Josh Agle), celebrates much of the Tiki world thru his paintings and drink ware. His work was commissioned for the 45th anniversary celebration of the Tiki Room and featured on everything from clothing, Tiki mugs, paintings and fun souvenirs.

There is even a convention celebrating all that is Tiki, called Tiki Oasis, that meets annually in August! Four days of music, drinks, swimming, drinks, burlesque entertainment, drinks, exclusive Tiki shopping, drinks, rum & chocolate seminars, drinks.....get the picture? This gig sells out every year!  Here is Charlie...Mai Tai in hand...from Tiki Oasis X last year.  

This is Crazy Al ~ a renowned Tiki carver and creator of amazing, one of a kind drink vessels! He often times can be found actually carving a stripped tree trunk into a life size Tiki at Tiki Oasis!

So, Sunday, we are off to another Tiki event...should be lots of fun....Mahalo!

Top illustration from Tiki Oasis; Tiki Room picture from Disneyland; Shag art illustration from Shag Mart. Photographs by the Scatterd Journalist.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


This is Pete. Our 13 1/2 year old lovable lab. He likes to think he is in charge here at the Outpost.  If he hears us coming his way, he will stealthily slip out of Charlie's chair just in the nick of time. As we come around the corner from the kitchen he has managed to curl up nonchalantly on the floor. Hearing us, he raises his head and looks at us with look that says, "What's up?" We will walk over to the chair and place a hand on the cushion. Hmmm...toasty warm. Nice try, Pete.

Pete has the uncanny sense to know when the pantry door has been left ajar. And he never lets us know that he knows. One evening, we went out for a quick bite to eat. Pete was asleep (or, so we thought).  When we returned, we discovered the pantry door wide open and Pete nowhere to be found. I gave the pantry a quick look and everything seemed to be ok. From behind I heard Pete come into the kitchen and without missing a beat, he charged out the back door, headed for his water bucket. Instinct told me that something was up so we followed. From the back step, Pete kept glancing over to the patio. But, he didn't move. Odd, I thought. I looked over to see what he was looking at, thinking maybe there was a mouse or something. When I scanned the yard, I saw that there was something in the garden. There, in the mud, was a slightly torn up bag of marshmallows; wet and dirty. He has never been very good at hiding anything...hot dog buns, bread, you name it...we've always found it!

This morning, it was 4:10 a.m. and dark. I was pulled from dreamland at the sound of Pete's tags jingling merrily. I was deep in sleep, comfy in that perfect spot in the bed and cozy with just the right number of blankets to keep me warm and snug. Off somewhere in the distance was the jingle of the tags on his collar...but, in my dream, it was something else. Half asleep, I listened. Again, the tags jingled. I opened one eye to look at the clock. 4:15!? Really, Pete? There was an oh, so brief pause...enough to fool me into thinking I could drift back to sleep. Eyes are closed. Jingle! Ok. Now, I am awake and wondering what is up with that dog?!! Totally alert, I now hear the flapping of his ears AND the jingle. Ok. I get it. His ears are bugging him.

I reached for the flashlight and crawled out of bed. I sat on the floor next to Pete, turned on the flashlight and peeked into his ears. The left one seemed ok. I reached for the other and Pete immediately pushed toward my hand, indicating he wanted his ear rubbed. I looked inside and it was a bit pink, but trust me, I've seen worse! So I rubbed the ear a minute, trying to calm him down.

By this time, Charlie has come kosher (just before the alarm is to go off) and is wondering why I am sitting on the floor with Pete at 4:30 in the morning! After my explanation, he reluctantly agreed to clean Pete's ears before going to work. Unchecked, I knew Pete would be shaking his head all day...and I had visions of his eyes spinning like the teacups at Disneyland. A little ear wash was all it took. As I was leaving for work, I closed the front door and heard the jingle of the tags again...and then, the buh-dump-bump as Pete landed in Charlie's chair for his morning nap.

As the resident Court Jester, Pete continues to make us laugh and at the same time, pulls at our heartstrings. His back legs are tired. His breathing is challenged. He struggles with the stairs but refuses to give up. Where we are, he goes. Loving us unconditionally.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the Garage

So, I'm wondering...when was the last time anyone parked a car IN the garage? I know we haven't since we've been here at the Outpost nearly 24 years now. The good news is that we are storing our 'stuff' here, rent free. But, it seems to me that sometime, during the wee hours of dark, that 'stuff' in the garage seems to morph. I mean, really...we have pulled that stuff out dozens of times...spent time organizing, reminiscing and repacking and schlepping it back into storage. Well, now we KNOW where things are...at the moment, anyway. But it doesn't seem like we're making any headway.

Why is it we can't part with stuff we haven't used in years? What about the bins (yes, bins) of Hallmark ornaments that never seem to see a tree come Christmas time? If it weren't for Rubbermaid, we'd be in a world of hurt...and a plethora of old, dilapidated cardboard boxes with mysterious treasures.  I'm the first one to admit there are those items that I will never part with.....like my Nancy Drew books. Valuable? Nope...just look at eBay.....peppered with offerings! Sentimental? You bet! My girlfriend, Tisa, and I read one a week. Back in the day, a new mystery cost 99 cents! Saturdays found us on our bikes, riding down to Unimart (now known as Target) in Alhambra. We'd each scoop up a new book and ride madly back to my house and drop off our books. Then, off to El Rancho market for lunch fixin's. Saturday lunch consisted of a double box of O'Boy frozen cheese pizzas and Diet Rite cola. We'd pop a pizza into the oven and run upstairs to the little porch off of my bedroom and dive into our books. The timer would ring and back down the stairs we'd fly! Pizza and soda in hand...we returned to the porch for an afternoon of Nancy Drew.

I ran across that box of books the other day. I had written a sappy message on the outside, declaring that no one had better sell or give away the contents of that box. My son later added a comment...which still makes me laugh.

I'm sure there are other priceless treasures I've yet to deal with...but nobody better mess with my Nancy Drews!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday afternoon, July 11, 2011...3:06 p.m. PST.

Here I am on this incredible afternoon...sunny, breezy and quiet...I'm listening to the soundtrack from Dances with Wolves. I've been gathering and sorting my thoughts, ideas and stories in my mind for a long time now recently posting my musings on Facebook. Every now and then, someone comments "You should write a book". Maybe I should...maybe, I will. Maybe there will be a book called 'the Scattered Journalist'...I've had that title tucked away on my to-do list forever now. Until I get to that point, though...I thought I would give this blog-thing a try.

Who is the Scattered Journalist? Well, that would be me. In a nutshell, I love to write and am fascinated with photography. I have oodles of unfinished journals stacked in my studio. I'd start one and continue for a few days, a month or two, and then get side-tracked. I'd return to my writing table with a new blank book and continue on. Little sketches and doodles, short stories, viewpoints and questions I've jotted down to ponder later. The stash of photos continues to grow. My hard drive begins to quiver as I approach with my camera. Yep...more pictures! It's just a matter of time before my computer takes a stand and says, "Sorry, 'mam, you are out of room!" 

The truth of the matter is I've never had the confidence to put my work out where others can see it. Then, the other day I thought...well, nothing ventured....so, here we go. Thank you for stopping in and taking a peek. I've absolutely no clue how this blog will evolve, but I think we are about to find out, together. Here's to the journey!