Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Fishy Tina Baine

 Big fish in little Aromas is a subject I have touched on recently, but not thoroughly the way the fabulous fish creator, Tina Baine tells it. Here is a story about fish, Korea, people and what creativity can do for a community. No fish were harmed in this article.

Last year, my husband discovered another great example of community-building on the other side of the globe. We flew to South Korea — the country our 20-year-old daughter has chosen to call home after a 10-month stay there as a Watsonville Rotary-sponsored exchange student in 2011-12. We visited several cities, but our favorite was Busan, a modern metropolis of 3.6 million at the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula.
In addition to experiencing the beautiful beaches, glamorous department stores, fascinating fish markets, cat cafes and sweet-potato pizza, we visited Gamcheon Culture Village — a residential community of colorful, box-shaped homes terraced on a steep hillside overlooking the southern coastline. In contrast to Busan’s glittering high-rises, Gamcheon Culture Village has retained its traditional look and identity, housing many of Busan’s less-affluent since the early 20th century. What makes it a tourist destination is the art-themed makeover it received in 2009-10, when South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism invited artists and art students to add murals, sculpture and art installations to the village.
Most impressive to me was the fact that much of the artwork was created collaboratively by artists and village residents. One of the best products of this teamwork were the painted wooden fish, posted along the narrow pathways to guide tourists through the hillside labyrinth of art and homes. These same small fish were also arranged on a tall retaining wall in the shape of a very large fish, creating a colorful backdrop for tourist selfies.
In the history museum, a photograph showed the villagers seated at long tables, painting the fish together — an opportunity to meet neighbors and form new alliances as their village was in transition. (The village makeover also included establishing a community center, residents association, maintenance group, public relations office, village businesses, and music and arts workshops — making the tourist invasion a little more welcome.)
Before our trip to South Korea, one of the community builders in my own hometown came to my arts group and proposed that we create an art installation for Aromas’ Town Square Park. We scratched our heads and worried about vandalism.
After my trip to South Korea, I showed photos of Gamcheon Culture Village and proposed that Aromas, as a community, could create a large fish mosaic of our own. With the guidance and commitment of a few dedicated volunteers, and the participation of about 200 community members and their friends, we were able to paint 350 fish over a five-month period and finally install the big fish in the park last month.

And so, like Gamcheon, my village sat together — young and old, elbow to elbow — to paint fish and get to know each other a little bit better. The finished product has also drawn us together, as we congregate at the park to find our individual fish and admire the others — all swimming along together.
Just last weekend, I was thrilled when our spring talent show, Aromas Live, used an image of the Big Fish on the program cover and recognized its completion. Perhaps the Big Fish will serve as a symbol of a small town devoted to creating a sense of community. Perhaps, as we drive by the park on our way home, we will now turn our heads and smile at the colorful reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a place where we feel like we truly belong.
To see an archive of Tina Baine columns, go to

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rock Stars Make Joyce Oroz

Does anyone know what the word, rock-star, means? I can think of two meanings and they both fit my friends, Gary and Barry, perfectly. They know their way around rock carving and they can rock you with their music. Gary has a wonderful voice and Barry plays a wicked guitar! These are muti-muti-talented guys. Their showroom at 32 East Main Street, Los Gatos proves my point. Gary and Barry design magnificent stone fireplace fronts, fountains, urns, hoods, gazebos, even a nine-hundred pound baseball. If you're looking for "the best" you must go to the best in the business, my friends, Gary and Barry. Here is their "Coming to America" story:

In the late 1980's we brought our craft to California and established Millbrook Stone in 1993. The name Millbrook gets its origins from a small cottage outside London where we, childhood friends Gary Edwards and Barry Tripp, learned the craft of stone carving. At the age of 15, we realized our tiny town offered limited career choices; we could either take an office job or work with our hands. We chose the latter and spent four years at the renowned masonry school Weymouth College where we earned our Advanced Craft, the highest possible designation. Upon leaving Weymouth, Barry began an apprenticeship with Ray Harvey - the owner of the company - and master masons George Greenham and Charlie Gibbs. Gary soon followed and we spent the next eight years under Greenham & Gibbs' tutelage, restoring some of England's grand churches, abbeys and castles.

Thank you Gary and Barry for contributing to the Quality of American life.
And God bless your beautiful families.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ketchup and Joyce Oroz

Since the Aromas Garden Tour is less than a week away, I thought I would drop a little Ketchup and Mustard your way. This is "rose-talk" for a gorgeous floribunda rose, just three years old, created in San Francisco, city of opposites with ideals as different as fire and water, ketchup and mustard. Apparently the Ketchup and Mustard rose likes our coastal climate and grows well in the Aromas area.

Yesterday I attended the annual Rose Show at Aladin's Nursery in Corralitos  where Tomi Edmiston won first prize for her home-grown Ketchup and Mustard rose arrangement. No condiments were used. This amazing rose variety flaunts it's redness on the up-side of every petal as mustard-yellow appears on the under-side. Kinda like that reversible jack I loved and wore so much.
Congratulations, Tomi!

I recently previewed the Aromas gardens for this year's tour, May 9th. Almost every garden features a fair number of rose bushes. 
I'll be waiting to see you in garden #3.

Here is a clue to my newest book in the
Josephine Stuart Mystery series

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't Burp in the Board Room ........Rosalinda Randall

Today I want to share Rosalinda's blog with you, not because I'm lazy (well, maybe) but because she has such good advice. Don't mess with Rosalinda, just read her answers to life's predicaments. 
Her new book, "Don't Burp in the Board Room" is excellent! Here is Rosalinda:
April 2015

Weddings, Work & Wine

Q: My fiancé and I are getting married this year. Since we've been living together for a few years, we don't want gifts; we'd prefer cash. How can we make that clear to our guests without actually printing it on our invitations?

A: First of all, I'm glad to hear that you won't be including "cash only" on the invitations. If you've established a wedding website, there are understated ways of making that suggestion. Keep in mind that in the minds of many, even suggesting a "cash gift" is considered tacky. With that said, it would soften the cash request if you also included a registry of desired gifts. By the way, a guest can choose to ignore all requests and give you a gift from the heart.

Q: We don't want children at our wedding. I've been told that we should not include that in the invitation. How will people be informed?

A: The way to let your guests know who is invited and who is not, is how you address the envelope. Only the names of those you want present should appear. If parents submit the RSVP writing in little Tommy and little Lily's names, a calm and gracious phone call or email if it is your preference, will be necessary. Simply explain that the venue does not accommodate children. They'll have to decide whether to attend or not.

Q: I was in the lunchroom, when I overheard a confidential conversation which included disturbing information; there will be lay-offs next month. I was seated around the corner where my boss and CEO apparently did not see me. Since I overheard it, is it okay for me to ask my boss if my name is on the lay-off list?

A: Oh my. When you hear a confidential-sounding conversation that you are not supposed to be a part of, immediately clear your throat, drop something, stand up; anything to call attention to your presence and stop the conversation! However, if you did not think to take that course, you must not circulate or scandalize what you overheard. It was not meant for you to know. Now, if you have an uncontrollable urge to share it, clarify or discuss the matter, go to the source. Apologize for overhearing it (yes, even if it wasn't your fault) and assure them that you will maintain confidentiality (aka: integrity). They may or may not wish to discuss it with you.

Q: I enjoy trying new wines, however, not the usual ones that most people seem to buy, prefer, and rave about. I like the sweet wines; the fruity, less expensive brands. From time to time, a comment about my preference and lack of discernment is tossed my way. How should I respond without being rude?

A: You couldn't be any more rude than those commenting about your preference. Options: With a smile and a nod, you can choose to ignore it. Or, you can charmingly reply, "It's a good thing there's something for everyone."; "Cheers, anyway."; "It's just what I prefer. Cheers."; "Don't knock it until you've tried it." Something along these lines.
Remember to keep it civil, say it tactfully and infuse a splash of humor.
Let's chat on social media. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

Best regards,

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Rosalinda Randall

Etiquette and Civility Consultant, Author
T: 650.871.6200                
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Stanley                        Thank you Rosalinda!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Garden Tour Joyce Oroz

                                 Annual Aromas Garden Tour 2015

Saturday, May 9th, the day before Mother’s Day 10:00 am to 4:00 pm is a very special day for gardeners, garden lovers and artists. The Aromas Hills Artisans have put together a fantastic Garden Tour this year—ten stops on the map, ten lovely and unique adventures. AHA members invite you to roam the beautiful green countryside of Aromas, discovering the amazing gardens chosen for this year’s tour. Most gardens will have artists in them, showing off their work, ready to answer questions. 

The Aromas Hills Artisans invite you and your friends and family to join us at the Aromas Grange, corner of Rose Ave. and Bardue Ave., where tickets are just a $10.00 donation, (tax-deductable) per person. You will be given a booklet and map of the gardens.  The tour just might be the perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom or Grandma.
Your self-guided tour might begin with garden #2 or it might begin with #10. It’s up to you. You will be able to read about each garden in your booklet and decide which ones interest you the most. Some gardens emphasize flowers, color and design. Some are big on drought tolerant plants. Some are great examples of raising vegetables and fruit trees.

Among the flowers, trees, ponds etc. you will discover AHA artisans showcasing their work. Be on the lookout for pearl jewelry by Lesley Holtway, three-dimensional cards by Christine West, Woodcarvings by Barbara Scoles, embroidered children’s clothing by Ann Grell, prints by Kathryn Stutz-Taylor, paintings by Aila Outrey, felt and fiber art by Susan Shirley, ink drawings by Bill McQuery, prints and graphic design by Andrea McCann, ceramics by Jane Rekedal, beaded jewelry by Diedra Kmetovic and collage by Kelly Anderson. You might even run into local authors Debra Smith and Joyce Oroz signing copies of their latest books. Actually, I will have all six of my books plus, signed copies of Okinawa Moon by Arthur Oroz.  

4-H will be on hand at the Aromas Community Grange to sell plants and boxed lunches. Representatives from the Aromas Water District will answer questions and offer a list of the best plants for water-wise planting. Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions and give advice.
Those who participate in the garden tour will come away with gardening ideas, tips and information and a day well spent. See you there! And don't forget to stop by the park for a look at the giant fish sculpture.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Fish--Really? ..........Joyce Oroz

Inspired by a large fish mosaic hanging on a wall in Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, South Korea, we here in Aromas, California now have our own big fish. Constructed from 350 small wooden fish painted by residents and friends, the Aromas big fish is 31-feet-long and "swims" in our downtown park.

My most sincere thanks go to the Aromas Eagles, Aromas Hills Artisans, and the Aromas Community Grange for their support; to Leslie, Linda, John, Michael, Miles and Wallace, for their time, energy and faith in my project idea; and to all the talented members of our little community who joined in and painted a fish.

My question is, why do we need a big fish in our park? A park is a park is a park. We have lovely trees, a pretty stone wall and plenty of grass. Maybe we have the giant fish sculpture because we are big fish in a little pond, because we don’t mind swimming up-stream for a good cause, because we are a notch above having an ordinary park, because we are creative people who appreciate beauty and talent, because we love new ideas and grand inventions, because we love our town and want it to shine. Would that also account for the chicken-box?

I happened to observe the individual fish being painted by youngsters, oldsters and every age in between. The painters took their job seriously and completed some very original and beautiful fish. But the big fish in all of this is Tina Baine, who took her paint to every local activity, function, meeting, festival—you name it, until she had 350 painted fish. Putting them together to make the big fish was an incredible task, but being the “Maker Gal” that she is, we now have a stunningly beautiful fish swimming its way through our lovely park. Thank you, Tina!

Monday, March 23, 2015