Sunday, December 21, 2014

A True Christmas AR

It's almost Christmas. This morning I glued a tiny silver star to the pointy top of my foot-tall metal Christmas tree on my desk, and now I am going to treat you, my friends, to a wonderful story. My magnanimous friend wrote it from the nonfiction side of her brain--she's usually all about true but funny. This story deserves your attention. I happen to know it really happened. In AR's own words:

As some of you may know, Fred & I have been helping to distribute free fruits and vegetables twice a month to folks here in Aromas.  The program is only 2 months old.  A grandmother has volunteered  to help us on 4 different dates and brought her 6 year old granddaughter along.   The little girl is just precious and always anxious to help.  She’s bagged carrots for people, gave out loaves of bread to families, sorted through tomatoes and passed out candy canes to other children and their parents.  This last Tuesday night I asked her what she hoped Santa would bring her for Christmas and she replied “An American Girl doll. That’s all I want.”  The look on the Gramma’s face said it all, and then she shook her head back and forth saying a silent “No. It’s not going to happen.”
   Wednesday morning found me entertaining out of town friends, but Wednesday afternoon I was desperately trying to figure out how to get my hands on an American Girl doll.  At this late date, the American Girl website would not guarantee delivery before Christmas. 
I called the Gramma to get permission to try and get her granddaughter the doll.  I told her, “It may not be brand new, but I’ll try my best.’”  To which Gramma replied, “Once she sees the doll she’ll never know the difference. “   I went on line; things were looking kind of shaky.  I thought, I’ll call our daughter, Chantell, she’ll know what to do or where to direct me.  She’s a busy mother and didn’t answer her cell phone, so I left a message ~ “I need to find an American Girl doll for a little girl that helps hand out food to the needy.  It’s the only thing she’s asked for and her family just can’t afford the doll at this time.  Can you help me find one?  It doesn’t have to be new but I want it in good condition.”
I didn’t hear back from Chantell, and I didn’t hear back, I knew something must be wrong, maybe she’s sick.  Checked my e-mail.  Nothing.  At 7 p.m. I perused “Facebook.”  Much to my surprise, there was a message from Chantell to all her Facebook buddies, with a request, for an American Girl doll, to fulfill a  sweet  little girl’s only Christmas wish, a little girl who  helps her (Chantell’s) parents pass out food for the hungry and needy.
For all my complaining about kids using social media, I have to say, when it works, it WORKS!  Not one, but two of Chantell’s friends volunteered American Girl dolls and clothes.  Another friend said she made American Girl clothes and would be happy to donate clothes so the doll will look beautiful. The doll is being picked up today, and will be priority mailed, to be under the tree on Christmas “from Santa.”
I haven’t stopped crying.  My heart is over-joyed.  What a wonderful gift we’ve received.  May you be as blessed as I am.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
 Love, AR
and best wishes from Baby Hooter for a very
Merry Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2014

Charlie Sweet Joyce Oroz

This year I am so embarrassed. Last year we bought a living three-foot tall pine tree. Sweet little thing, quiet, good natured. You know the type--Charlie Brown but fuller and comes to a point at the top. I hung only the lightest of ornaments on it's delicate branches. Kept it simple and sweet. Took lots of pictures for the "hall of Christmas trees," pictures going back to the Kennedy administration.

 After Christmas we rolled the tree named Sweet Tree out to the deck where she spent a happy summer in the sun. It was her time off, no elves under-foot, just sunshine and cool water. By Thanksgiving she looked twice as tall as last year. Her little limbs were still short and limp but every once in a while an awkward teenage limb would reach out well beyond the "normal" growth. It was like having pimples, poor thing. The weather changed. Christmas was coming. We couldn't just leave her out in the cold so we brought her inside and wrapped a white sheet around her belly. We placed gifts at her feet and bird ornaments on her limbs. Her posture could use a little help, but she's our girl and we love her. 

I don't feel half as embarrassed now that Sweet Tree is out of the closet and the center of attraction for this Christmas, although I find my head leaning to one side now and then.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rain Please Joyce Oroz

How would you describe a good gully-washer rain storm? For me it starts with the pre-storm expectation of rain, gobs of rain coming soon—something California hasn’t seen in the last three years. Will there be thunder, lightning, flooding? 

What if a tree falls on my car while I’m navigating country roads where the pavement cracks and drops into a raging river ninety feet below? What if a wall of mud slides down the mountain onto my car or a big boulder breaks loose and, yikes. 

I think I’ll stay home today. Bring out the popcorn and a good book. I'll read my new Poppy Cove Mystery, Strangled By Silk. I can shop another day, except that I really need to buy fresh chives and sour cream for tonight’s baked potatoes. Well, maybe the rain won’t be as bad as the weatherman predicts. What do they know, with their maps and dopey dopplers and such? 

I have my intuition to rely on. Besides, I’ve been driving my whole life and no rock has ever rolled down a mountain and squished my car. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 8, 2014

When Trees Joyce Oroz

Today I’m in a holiday mood. I dug out my twelve-inch metal Christmas tree, expertly painted by someone, probably a woman in China, and placed it close to my computer. The painted balls and greenery brighten my desk, and there is no assembly required.

Speaking of women who paint, I know a lady who can REAllY paint! My friend Kati D’Amore paints portraits, landscapes, seascapes and still life paintings with good old fashioned oil paint. They are fresh and fabulous.

Another woman I admire is my yoga instructor. Sonia Westphal can turn her body into a pretzel while sewing a quilt at top speed on her bicycle. Some people just have a gift.

Another friend of mine is extremely talented. Tomi Edmiston can unsnaggle a computer, proof a manuscript to perfection, train Rottweilers, paint pictures and grow fabulous roses while fending off snails, gophers, squirrels, bats, and the occasional unicorn.


My friend, Barb Scoles is no slacker. This lady can find a beautiful Santa inside any old piece of wood. She just scrapes at the wood until she finds it. She’s a bit of a Tigger—bouncing from project to project, while helping the less fortunate find their God-given bounce.

Did I mention Patricia Rockwell? She’s a well educated lady who started her own publishing business, created her own business plan and executes it perfectly. She works closely with over forty authors, patiently and precisely. And manages to write books on the side, all with one hand tied behind her back!

Kathy Aguras is another amazing woman. She runs her Real Estate business and the Dragonfly Gallery while balancing herself on a unicycle. Well, not quite, but she does drive a nifty yellow Jeep.

I know so many, many wonderful, talented women—just thought I would name a few ladies who can inspire trees to dance and stones to smile. Just Sayin.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Author Joyce Oroz: Meet Barbara Joyce Oroz

Author Joyce Oroz: Meet Barbara Joyce Oroz: To know Barbara is to love her Santas. No wonder Barbara Scoles is the ARTIST OF THE MONTH for December at the Dragonfly Gall...

Meet Barbara Joyce Oroz

To know Barbara is to love her Santas. No wonder Barbara Scoles is the ARTIST OF THE MONTH for December at the Dragonfly Gallery. She is an active Aromas Hills Artisan member, and a real professional when it comes to slicing and dicing big blocks of wood, ultimately revealing the beautiful smiling Santa hidden inside each block.

If you would like to meet Barbara and see the actual carving process, please plan to attend the “meet and greet” at the Dragonfly Gallery, Saturday, December 13th, 2:00 to 4:00 pm. at 380 Blohm Ave., Aromas. Enjoy refreshments and conversation while Barbara demonstrates her carving techniques.
Her Santas are very popular, but it’s what she adds to her Santas that make them personal—such as a bear, a bird, a kitty or a pup. Ever see a Panamanian Santa in traditional dress—comes with a parrot. How about a Santa with five adorable panda bears? My personal Santa comes with a Mama bunny and her baby bunny, the perfect decoration for my two favorite holidays. Like so many people, I keep my Santa in a prominent location all year, every year.

Barbara says that the hardest part of her job is including all the things and creatures her clients request. She perseveres until her Santa passes the strictest client test–until the client falls in love with Santa.

Twenty years ago Barbara began formal carving lessons. She had carved wood most of her life, and also worked at creating custom clothing. When she decided to get serious and take lessons, she was able to develop her own unique Santas and her own carving style. Her Santas have full wavy beards and laughing eyes. Their robes, hats and costumes vary. No two Santas are alike.

Scoles carvings are known for their “wood-look.” She paints the wood with rich color but typically leaves parts of the piece unpainted, letting the wood add it’s richness to the creation. She uses gold-leaf to accent some pieces. And not all Santas wear regulation red coats.

The most fun happens when Barbara adds special details to her Santas, such as animals, birds, flowers, even landscapes and seascapes.
Robert always says my carving is like opening a present, I remove all the wood and find a wonderful Santa inside.

See you at the Dragonfly Gallery Saturday, December 13th 2:00 to 4:00

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Surviving Turkey Day..........Rosalinda and Joyce

It's Thanksgiving and I'm up to my elbows in giblets. I'am so thankful that Rosalinda did my writing for me, and a much better job than my yammering could ever be. She actually knows what she's talking about--you know the type, educated, pretty and successful. She is about to help you to pleasantly co-exist with an undesirable stink-bomb of a relative at Thanksgiving. 
So I'm off to the turkey farm and turning over my megaphone to Rosalinda Randall.  
Thanks for listening!

Newsletter for November 2014 

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." --John F. Kennedy

The month of November seems to introduce and bring to light the spirit of gratitude. Please allow me to express my gratitude to you for taking time to read my words, for forwarding my words to others and for sharing your comments with me. Thank you.

Holiday Dilemmas and Tips From the Audience

Dilemma 1: "I can't stand having my brother in-law stand over me in the kitchen, pointing out what he would do if he were cooking. I'm ready to smack him with the wooden spoon! How can I get him out of the kitchen? --Megan

Options: Dear Megan, Evidently this is not a new thing. Plan ahead. Invite him to assist you, selecting a dish that he can create in the kitchen with you. That will keep him busy and contained. He'll also feel satisfied, needed and have a little something to gloat about.

Dilemma 2: "Every year I have to sit at the kids' table...I'm 15 years old and I want to sit at the regular table, but my mom just laughs and ignores me. Can I just eat in my room instead?" --Emilio

Options: Dear Emilio, Have you behaved in a way that would make your mom think that you can't handle sitting at the "adult" table? If not, when she is calm, ask her again. Ask her for a chance to show her that you are ready to sit at the adult table. Avoid getting all pouty, yelling or walking away; that will only prove her point. If she still insists, after the meal pull up a chair next to the adult table, listen and participate appropriately.

Dilemma 3: "My neighbor makes his own wine. On holidays and special occasions, he always gives me a bottle, asking me how I liked the last one. Because I'm in recovery, it is very awkward to handle the bottle and express genuine thanks. I prefer not to disclose my recovery, however, during the holidays having a bottle in hand can be detrimental to my recovery. What should I do? --Vicki

Options: Dear Vicki, First of all congratulations on your recovery. Second, contact your sponsor, I'm certain he/she will have a much better solution for this dilemma. For now, here are a few options to consider: if telling a white lie is acceptable to you, you can explain to your neighbor that you are not a wine-drinker, or any alcohol for that matter...It never appealed to you. Or, it just doesn't "sit well" with your physical make-up or health-minded lifestyle. If your neighbor insists or dismisses your reasons, keep in mind that your well-being is of most importance, even at the risk of insulting someone.
(Names have been changed for anonymity.)

Sometimes a dilemma cannot be resolved. What are your options then? 

Avoidance: Find ways of avoiding a situation/person, or at least curtailing the frequency of the encounter. This can be stressful (thinking up excuses) and awkward (getting caught because of your excuses).
Attitude of Acceptance: Throw up your hands and say, c'est la vie. Know that the dilemma or interaction is brief and seldom; something we can all endure with a little practice. Besides, you can't change people but we can change how we react to people and their quirks.

With all of my best wishes, may your gatherings be civil, joyful and filled with tasty dishes. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


Kind regards,

Rosalinda Randall

Etiquette and Civility Consultant, Author
T: 650.871.6200