Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Autograph

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Many years ago I worked as a small town disc jockey at a radio station in northern New England. It was a very small station; the studio was smack in the middle of a corn field, and yes, we did the agriculture reports. My shift was from 5:30 to midnight, after which the relief shift came in.

The “relief shift” in this case was a Harley riding, earthy, feminist preacher named Agnes . Agnes was great, certainly not a stereotypical preacher, not your typical feminist and even less a stereotypical Harley rider, since she topped all of about five feet and on a good day 100 pounds. We became good friends, visiting each others homes and having cookouts (in some parts of the country also called barbeques). Agnes had two daughters, one still at home, while the other, Daphne, was in Hollywood trying to break into acting.

It seems things had been going well for Daphne and after a couple minor roles in “B” movies, she had landed a staring role in an upcoming movie. I was treated to updates on Daphne and Hollywood life in general through Agnes.

Then one day when Agnes' Harley roared into the cornfield. She came into the studio and it was plain to see something was wrong. I asked what was the matter, fearing the worst. You could tell she'd been crying and I wasn't sure if I was ready, but hey, she was a friend, and as somebody far wiser than I once said “The only way to have a friend, is to be one”, it was time “to be one”.

But even I wasn't prepared for the answer. Agnes said that Daphne's movie was premiering in Washington D.C, in two weeks and the studio wanted to fly Agnes down for the event, put her up at a five star hotel for the weekend with a limo to take her to and from the premier! Now, I don't know about you but I was having trouble figuring out the problem and said so? Agnes said “I need that weekend off from work and management said I could have it but my job won't be here when I get back and I really need my job!”

I couldn't believe it! How could what seemed a great place to work do such a thing to another employee? I couldn't let it happen; but what could I do? In the food chain I was only one step above Agnes, my demands wouldn't go any further than hers, so I did the only thing I could think of; I said “No problem”!

Gotta admit, I didn't think preachers knew those words! But when I calmed her down enough to listen to me, I explained I would simply pull double shifts for the weekend, she'd be covered, and there wasn't much management could do about it, if I didn't put in for extra pay.

You could see the light go on again in her eyes, and if I never see happy again, I know I saw it that night in that Momma/Preacher lady's eyes. Agnes asked what she could do in return. She wanted to repay me somehow, for what for me, a no brainer. I told her that when she saw her daughter to ask her to personally autograph one of those fancy studio photos for me and then when she got famous I could claim I knew her!

Well, she went and when she came back she brought me a manilla envelope and I can tell you right now that Daphne has a sense of humor! This beautiful young lady and actress, that has since gone on to a fantastic career in the movies and television, sent me an autographed photo that I still have to this very day and will cherish always. The inscription, very simply reads:


Thanks for the wonderful weekend in Washington!

Love Daphne

I love the look on people's faces when they read that! Me, I'm a gentleman; so I smile and say nothing!

I'm happy to report that Agnes had a wonderful weekend and shortly after her return, got things in order, and did a lovely refrain of Johnny Paycheck all over management. She decided to move to Hollywood and be closer to her daughter, so she hopped on her Harley and headed out on a cross country trek that we probably all wish we could do at one time or another.

While I was sad to see her go perhaps the way she was treated by management made me look at my future, and while it was probably a year or so later and I didn't hop on a Harley and ride into the sunset, I eventually did pursue other options and moved on to other opportunities.

I never heard from Agnes again but if you've ever seen the picture of the beautiful actress Daphne Zuniga hanging on my wall, with that special dedication, now you know what it really means!

By Paul Dugan, guest Groovy Reflections blogger

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Graduate

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

During, my senior year of high school, Dustin Hoffman was starring in his first movie.

I spent most of my free time engaged in my favorite sport, hanging out at the mall and checking out all the girls, who were busy making sure they were being checked out. It's not a complicated sport but it does have rules, however, that's for another story.

One evening, while perched on “our” bench, two of my friends mentioned they had seen the new movie The Graduate at the cinema across the parking lot and how great it was and they wanted to go see it again. Knowing full well if we left, we'd never get this prime seat back, so I was reluctant plus the movie didn't sound all that great. From what I could tell, no cities were destroyed; there was apparently no blood, I mean, what was all the hoopla?

My friends were not to be denied they begged, they pleaded, but I was firm I did not want to go, they said “we'll pay”. So, I went!

Needless to say I loved it; the best movie I'd ever seen. In fact, I was telling another friend the very same thing the next day. He said it sounded great and let's go see it. I told him I just saw it and really didn't want to go see it again. He begged, he pleaded, and he offered to pay. Again, I went, and it was just as good as the first time.

You'd think I'd learn my lesson but I never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the tree. A couple days later when I picked my steady girl up, I told her about it, you guessed it, she wanted to go. I was pretty sure she wasn't paying for this one.  While I still enjoyed the movie, it probably was more the company than the movie, I mean, three times in one week.

As happens in life our romance was not destined to be and we broke up a couple of weeks later. After allowing the heartbreak to heal an appropriate amount of time; I'm sure it was at least ten days, I asked another girl that I'd met at work out, and she accepted. When I picked her up and asked where she'd like to could see this coming from a quarter mile away couldn't you? So off I went for the FOURTH time in less than a month. I'm pretty sure Dustin Hoffman owes me big time for his career.
Well, that relationship didn't last either and off I went to college. About a year later I'd come home for a weekend and the folks had installed one of those redwood, above ground pools, that were all the rage back then. I was doing my best Dustin Hoffman imitation, on a float in the pool with my cool shades on, when a shadow passed over me. It was Mom. She said “I want you to meet my new friend; this is Mrs. Robinson.”

I'm pretty sure I set a new speed record getting out of that pool and high tailing it back to college!  Mom was pretty upset with me for embarrassing her and to this day I couldn't tell what her friend even looked like; all I knew was, I was taking no chances.

Flash forward, 2010. I have a copy of that movie on DVD and still watch it now and then. It’s funny the different perspective I have now. When I see it, I realize that was me, I just didn't know it then. Oh, I don't mean the whole older woman thing, but the going thru the motions, not having any idea of what you were doing or where you were going in life, like you were just being pushed along by a current too strong to resist.

And my dating life? Well, eventually, I finally did have a relationship that lasted. We raised a family and have been blessed with grandchildren. I still feel the current but I aged enough to know I can move out of the middle of the stream where it's not so fast and enjoy life on the river. I'd kind of like to think maybe Benjamin finally found his way out of the middle of the river too.

By Paul Dugan, guest Groovy Reflections blogger

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Infamous Croquet Set, by Lorraine Friedman

When I was 11 my mom “purchased” the greatest croquet set with her saved S&H trading stamps. It had a metal cart - beautiful (I thought) and wooden mallets with corresponding colored croquet balls (the size of large oranges). The anticipation of playing this 'unknown' game was incredible. My mom had shared photos with me of her playing this "most refined" game in the 30's - the women were dressed in lovely dresses and the men wore dress shirts and ties!

The first "Family Croquet Game" was that Memorial Day - my grandparents, my parents and I all gathered at my Aunt & Uncle's house (I had two younger girl cousins). We eagerly set up the beginning and ending pegs - and the hoops the ball had to go through in between. My Aunt had a HUGE backyard, so we spread it out. We went over the rules - and the game began.

Us younger ones had a little trouble using the mallets (which were large for us) - but once we got the hang of it, it became all out war against the grown ups. We quickly learned you were allowed but one hit per turn. However, we also learned that if your ball hits or touches an opponent's ball, you could put your foot on YOUR ball and smack the hell out of it, thus sending your opponent’s ball into oblivion.

The next holiday gathering was 4th of July and the competition got stronger as everyone wanted to use the red mallet and raced to get it. No one wanted the brown one that we referred to as 'prunes and things'; yes, it was that color brown.  And this date welcomed the addition of my 5 year old cousin as a player to be reckoned with, who was becoming quite the little croquet warrior.

The next tournament was on Labor Day, and again, the games went on all afternoon.

As I got older - when I reached the moody teenage year of 14 - we didn't seem to play as much - the grown ups kinda lost interest, so it was basically my two younger cousins and whatever adult they could drag in to play with them.

Then the once adored croquet set went into my parent's garage ... where it sat for 20 years - it then went into my garage at my own house. Since we had a large pool in our backyard, my son and his cousins weren't interested in playing croquet, choosing to swim instead. Oddly enough, they did play the dreaded dangerous dart/hoop game we had.

We now live in Tucson and my son is in Law School, and what is left of our family is on the other side of the country......but in my garage, in a large plastic container, is the once beloved croquet set, along with the metal dart game, horseshoes and Twister (remember that one?)

I don't have the heart to give it all away - so it will sit there until the day my son 'inherits" it, and perhaps it will get to be played with the family I hope he has one day.

By Lorraine Friedman, guest Groovy Reflections blogger

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tia Fina, Elvis, and me by Carmen Santiago

I remember it well. It was June, in the summer of 1972. I was 16 years old, in high school and living in New York City. I had just gotten home from school and my mother said to me, "Tia Fina has a surprise for you." Tia Fina was my beautiful aunt. I looked at my mom and wondered, what could it be? I began to think and I remembered that Elvis was in town. Suddenly I realized what the surprise was. I knew I was going to see Elvis Presley at Madison Square Garden. My aunt had bought tickets. That was the kind of woman my aunt was. Always wanting to make others happy. Well I jumped so high and with so much enthusiasm that I landed in the next room.

I became an Elvis fan at a very young age. The first song I ever heard him sing was "Kissin Cousins". I was 9 years old and I was in love. Well, I was right. Seeing Elvis in New York City was destined to be the grooviest thing ever.

The day came, Saturday, June 10th, 1972. As I boarded the D train in the Bronx to meet my aunt at  the 59th street station, I looked at my watch and it was later than I thought. I began to worry that we would not arrive in time. My heart started beating faster in anticipation. I knew it was only a short time before I would see Elvis.

I met my aunt and we soon arrived together at Madison Square Garden. It was so exciting. I had never been there before. Elvis' name was flashing in big lights at the entrance. There was so many people! We rode the escalator to the very top and we went in. I looked down at the stage and there he was. As big as life. We had arrived late and missed the opening act, but who cared? We didn't. We just wanted to see Elvis and we did arrive just in time to see his entire performance.

He was wearing a white beaded jumpsuit with a long gold scarf around his neck. The music began to play and he began to sing, "That's Alright Mama." I felt as if I was floating. It was a dream come true. I could not hear anything other than the music and his voice. He sang so many songs that night, "Polk Salad Annie", "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", "Proud Mary". He was so handsome and so talented. I spent the rest of the evening with a smile on my face, just enjoying this great man and his wonderful music. It is one of those very fond memories I have of growing up. I will never forget where I was or what I was doing on Saturday, June 10, 1972.

Thank you Tia Fina, for all you did not just for me, but for everyone. Love is an action word and you were full of action. I miss you so much. Thank you Elvis for your music and your films and your smile. I miss you too very much . The world is a better place because of the both of you!

Written by Carmen Santiago, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Song Remembers

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Music is so much a part of our lives that when we hear a certain song it takes us back in time, sometimes to a happier time, sometimes a sadder time, but through it all, the music is still there.

For me, Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl always brings me back to my high school girlfriend and those carefree days when we couldn't wait to graduate and make our mark on the world. And Gary Lewis and the Playboys remind me of summer days at the lakeside camp that had been my Grandfather's.

When you turn that radio on, you just never know what memories going to come out of those speakers.

One of my strongest memories from when I was younger was an annual event for several years running. I'd give my mother a list of seven or eight record albums that I'd like for Christmas and I'd always find three or four under the tree, so Christmas comes to mind when I hear groups like Herman's Hermits, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Simon and Garfunkel and many others, Most of those albums I still own to this day.

The wish list thing would change year after year. As my taste in music progressed and got further caught up in the 60's, I discovered the protest song!  Of course my wish list reflected this.

I didn't actually see the incident, but in my mind I can clearly envision it as if I were there.  Mother went to a music chain store called Krey's Disc, much like FYE of today. A helpful clerk asked if he might help her locate anything. She replied “Yes, I'm looking for ‘Pleasures of the Harbor’ by The Philharmonic Orchestra”. The clerk's eyes widened and, to his credit, without a trace of a smile said “Excuse me”? Mom said “See, here on the list” and she showed him my list, and there at the top was “Pleasures of the Harbor” by Phil Ochs. The clerk politely explained that was not an abbreviation and got her a copy of the correct album.

Mother bought it, left the store, and to the best of my knowledge, never went back. She said she just knew they were laughing as she left (and she was probably right). I know I did when she told me!

That was the last record album Mom ever bought me; she meant what she said when she said she'd rather just give me the money and let me buy whatever I wanted myself!

I still have that album but we lost Mom a few years ago and now whenever I hear Phil Ochs sing the “Draft Dodger Rag” or “I Ain't Marching Anymore” I smile and remember Mom and Christmas's past.

Written by Paul Dugan, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Monday, August 30, 2010

So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Late in 1963 the beginnings of a revolution could be heard coming from radio speakers across the world. The British Invasion was about to begin, led of course, by the Four Mop Tops as the main stream media dubbed The Beatles.

We all know the impact the Beatles had on the music industry, but did you ever stop to think about what other economic impacts they were at least partially responsible for? I've often wondered how many barber shops went out of business. How many comb manufacturers had layoffs? You get the idea, but while some industries suffered, others prospered. According to my parents, ear plug manufacturers saw a boost. Not sure if that's based on fact or wishful thinking on the folks part.

One industry that I know for a fact saw a boost is the guitar makers. Think about it, before the Beatles, guitars were just a musical instrument, usually in the background, sometimes out front, but only if you were a cowboy. Then, after the Beatles dominated popular music, everybody wanted a guitar; I know I did. I was pretty sure I could be a star, if I only had an electric guitar. I practiced constantly with my Mother's corn broom, since the air guitar hadn't been invented yet.

We were far from poor, closer to hard working middle class I guess but an electric guitar was a pretty extravagant gift, and even though that “was all I wanted, nothing else, if I could just have a guitar for Christmas”, I knew it wasn't very likely.

But come Christmas morning, there it was under the tree. The most beautiful electric guitar I'd ever seen! It was red and white and glossy; I had to rub my eyes to be sure I wasn't seeing things. My older brother, who was in the Air Force at the time, had made a surprise visit home and he'd bought it off a fellow airman that was being transferred and didn't want to take it with him. That had to have been one of my happiest Christmas' ever; it didn't matter that it was an inexpensive model made for Sears by a company in Japan. It had the latest technology, it was the first guitar ever made with a built in speaker/amplifier, and the best thing about it was; it was mine!

I practiced and practiced, I just knew I was gonna be a Rock 'n' Roll Star. I even joined a couple garage bands, where we spent more time arguing over the name of than band than actually playing.
Then later that year my parents were getting ready for a big party, with lots of relatives and Mom said I could play a song. This was it! My chance at stardom!

I sought out my older sister's advice and she said “What ya know kid?” so I played The Beatles “I want to hold your hand” and “Satisfaction” from the Stones. She said “Not bad but ya have to remember kid, this is an older crowd, got any thing a little slower?” So I said “How about “These boots are made for walking”? She said I'd look silly in a mini skirt; I told her I have one other and she said “Then play it, I'm sure it'll be fine”.

The big day was finally here and I was ready. The crowd was hushed as I made my way to the middle of the room and played “The Sounds of Silence” and I nailed it! Paul Simon himself would've been proud of me! When I finished the last “of silence”, I waited for the applause....nothing...silence (not what the song means people!) and then my Uncle said “Not bad kid but can you do this?” He pulled out his accordion and played a polka; everyone started clapping and laughing and dancing. I was devastated. Fortunately The Who hadn't invented smashing guitars on stage yet, let alone on Uncles! I went to my room to lick my wounds. My sister followed me in and told me what a great job I'd done and that “They were too old to understand our music”! That meant a lot to me, almost as much as getting the guitar did.

I never did become a Rock ‘n’ Roll star and long ago sold my electric guitar, but I still play my acoustic sometimes for my grandson and he appreciates it and for a little while I am a star, at least in the eyes of one of the most important people I know.

Written by Paul Dugan, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stevie the Wonder Dog

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

The photo was small, but it was easy to see that the little dog had personality. I noted the price and the phone number, with full intention to call later that day. I was in the borough hall of my home town, located in an early 1900’s structure that housed the police department, borough clerk, courts, and post office. We didn’t have house numbers. We didn’t have mail delivery. Folks enjoyed coming to pick up their mail and running into neighbors, enemies, and perhaps a famous person or two. The borough hall was a place to pick up your mail and a little gossip.

In the main hallway was a very large bulletin board. If you wanted the latest happenings, baby clothes for sale or bake sales, here was the place to look. And that’s where I saw the photo for a mini-poodle for sale.

Got home. Called the number. Spoke to a woman on the other end. Strangely, she said, “Oh, you have to make an appointment”. An appointment? To see a dog? I played along; we decided on Friday at 3PM. Then she described where she was located, no house numbers, remember? I almost gasped out loud. It was the former Diffleburg* home, set back from the road a ways, at the western edge of town. But rumor had it that it was the current home of Stevie Wonder. How could this be?

I couldn’t wait for Friday. My curiosity was killing me.

Finally, the big day. I drove down the main street of town, down the hill about two miles. Made a right at the light. A minute later, there I was. Pulled up the to the gate. There was an intercom and a small plaque that read “Morris”. A soft voice said “Yes, what would you like?”. And I said “I’m here to see the dog.” The gates slowly swung open, and I drove my not-very-fancy Chevy Nova up the driveway and parked in front of the garage.

I could see part of the backyard, where two (or maybe three?) young children were playing. There were swings, a sandbox, a jungle gym, a slide and pretty much anything that a kid would want or need. Two mini-poodles were on chains, far away from each other.

One was white, the other a light brown color.

A woman stepped out of a side door of the house and introduced herself. She was a nanny or housekeeper; honestly, I don't remember! She brought me over to the white poodle, and told me that the dog’s name was Champagne. “Champagne fights with Café all the time.” She then told me. “The two dogs just don’t get along”. Champagne? What kind a name is that for a dog? Oh, I get it. Poodle. French. Sparkling wine. Great.

I spent a few minutes petting Champagne and scratching behind his ear. He was bright-eyed, bursting with energy, and thoughtfully licked my hand. That’s it. I was in love. Where had you been the first year of your life, little Champagne?

We then moved into the house, into a huge kitchen with a black and white checkered tile floor. Nice. Of course the whole time I’m thinking, where’s Stevie? Unfortunately, he was not going to make an appearance on my part, but what’s wrong with being hopeful?

The conversation continued. One of the more memorable statements I recall was when I was informed “If that dog don’t eat, you just feed him chicken”. Sigh. This is a characteristic that I’ve noticed ALL dogs have. And me, being of solid mind but lacking pockets bursting with wealth, started haggling on price. Score! Asking price, $100. Final price, $85 and a big, big bag of Purina Dog Chow.

And so that pretty little poodle went home with me. For a day or so, as we bonded, I struggled with that name, Champagne. Couldn’t find a decent nickname, Pagny? Champy? Pane? Finally, it dawned on me. In fact I was patting myself on the back for coming up with such a clever solution. When my Dad came home that evening, I excitedly told him that the dog’s name was now Stevie. Stevie the Wonder Dog.

Stevie was with me for over 16 years, through thick and thin. I always wondered if the more famous Stevie petted him often, or if that little poodle curled up by his feet. Suppose I could write a fictional piece about that, can’t I?

For the record, the real Stevie Wonder lived in my town only for about two years. During that time, while I was coming home at 5 in the morning from somewhere, I did see his limo making a turn into his street, no doubt returning from some activity in nearby New York City. That’s the closest I’ve ever come to seeing him. I read somewhere that he still owns the house, and his ex-wife (or girlfriend) still lives there.

* Name has been changed.
Note: Photo is Stevie the Wonder Dog at about age 6.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Times Weren't the Only Thing Changing

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

I'm so lucky to have grown up in such a magical time. The early 60's found me just entering my teens and thanks to an older brother and sister, I'd been listening to rock 'n' roll for some time. It was amazing! Every time you turned on the radio there was something new and exciting to hear, ranging from the early days of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent to the 1960’s with The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons.

Rock ‘n’ Roll and dancing: We learned to twist with Chubby Checker, and I remember doing the stroll at high school sock hops, trying to maneuver into the line so I'd "stroll" with that pretty girl that hardly knew I existed! Elvis was still king and girl groups were in their heyday. And fashions were changing as well.

Me? I was a greaser, through and through, with tight jeans and pointed toe boots with "taps" on the bottom for making noise when walking in the school hallways. Of course, that was against the rule but hey, I was a rebel! Now, no self-respecting greaser would be seen without their slicked back D.A. and a comb outlined in the pocket of those tight jeans. Everything was "cool" until THAT day, don't remember which one exactly, but it must have been one specific day because it happened so fast.

We were invaded! Some guys from England took over the musical charts! Overnight it happened! And these guys had long hair and heaven forbid, bangs! What were we to do? Well I know what I did. I listened to my brother and let him give me a "Beatle" cut!

I've made bigger mistakes in my life but at that time, this was definitely top five. If he would have placed a puddin' bowl on my head and cut it would've looked better, but he convinced me it was the way all the "cool" kids his age were wearing their hair. Okay, if I'd been just a bit wiser, I'd have noticed that he wasn't wearing his that way.

Without the D.A. the whole greaser look was history for me, so for school the next day I tried a new look and wore white slacks and a mohair sweater. I was now Mod, or Collegiate as it was called in my area of the world. However, there was still that brotherly haircut to deal with. The reactions? The kids were cruel, but when the teachers joined in, I definitely knew something was wrong. When I arrived home, Mom gave me the money to go to a barber and get my brother’s barbering job "fixed". It's still a funny little memory with me.

A few years went by; we were listening to folk rock and heavy metal and, we got groovy. Haircuts? They were a thing of the past; grew my hair until it was in the middle of my back, making me a full fledged "long haired hippy weirdo freak" and proud of it! Still proud of it. And today, as I run my fingers through the skin on my head, I'd give anything to have that puddin' bowl haircut back.

Written by Paul Dugan, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Buy Me a Song.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

“Daddy, Daddy THAT’S the song! THAT’S the song I want to buy! PLEEEEEZE, can I have fifty-four cents?” That wishful chant happened in the backyard on our patio. I was the one chanting. THAT song was oozing from the “jukebox” which was hooked up to the stereo inside the house. Well, it really wasn’t a jukebox, just a giant speaker. Originally painted white, on this particular day it was proudly wearing a color that us kids were told was lavender. Trust me, it was pink, and could have been called “muted Pepto-Bismol”.

Oh, but the sounds that came out of that "jukebox substitute" from both the radio and records. In my youngest days, it was a blend of Rock ‘n’ Roll, crooners, Country and Western, and traditional German songs. The mix included Nate King Cole, Jerry Vale, Johnny Cash, Everly Brothers, Cousin Brucie on WABC, and the Beer Barrel Polka.

The playlist morphed into something quite different a few years later. German songs gave way to Danish ones. Show tunes and soundtracks emerged: West Side Story, Half a Sixpence, Mame. Rock ‘n Roll lived on, however, there was an on-going conflict between my Dad and Step-Mom over whether or not Rock 'n Roll should be heard. Thankfully, it still was.

Dad of course needed justification in order to give me the fifty-four cents. He had to actually LIKE the song. And yes, he did fork over the dough; otherwise, there’d be no tale to tell. 

Soon after the funds were surrendered to me there I was at Woolworths gazing at the rack of 45’s, anxiously searching for THAT song. And there it was! Eagerly, I grabbed my treasure and marched over to the cash registers, where I promptly paid for that platter with the sacrificial coins from Dad. Yes! My first real purchase of a record. Sure, I owned records already and had accumulated a small collection. They weren’t bought by me, but acquired in other ways; I was notorious for stealing my brother’s records including both their “Here come the Judge” 45’s. Other discs came my way as gifts.

Why this record? I had connected with this song, and though I had no clue as to what the song was truly about, I felt drawn to it by the soaring vocals and the lyrics. I knew that it was about people coming together. I knew it was about peace. But as far as the inspiration for those words it was something I’d learn about later on.

In the privacy of my room, seated on the floor, wearing those larger than life headsets, I spun that 45. Three minutes and 49 seconds of pure bliss. Over and over. Funny, I do the same thing nowadays, only nowadays with digital tracks on my iPod instead.

Now you know and I know that those turntables from our youth perhaps didn’t have the highest quality. And records certainly weren’t made to last forever. But we could fix those skips and improve the quality ourselves by placing a penny on the stylus, couldn’t we? And so, I did. Soon, Melanie ceased singing “Lay down, lay it down, lay it all down”. Instead, she sang “Lay down, psssssssssssssssssst, lay it all down”. But that was okay, because her next release, “Peace Will Come” became my new favorite 45. And so the process begins again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Bike is Blue.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

Standing on the edge of the country club grounds, I took a quick look around. No one was in sight. Slinking towards a grouping of bushes near a small patch of woods, looking down, I found my prize. Well, prizes. Lots of them. Seven slightly used golf balls, lost by their original owner. Bending down quickly, I picked them up in one fell swoop. Yeah! Ran back to my bike, tossed those orbs into the front basket, and sped off with the Paul Mauriat instrument “Love is Blue” buzzing in my head.

I was temporarily living 800 miles away from home at the time. (the “why” is perhaps another story to be told at a later date), in a part of the country where my accent made me different, so much so that some of the other kids were inclined to call me “Yankee”. A part of the country where a mere “yes” in response to a question was unacceptable. “Yes ma’am” soon became the mandatory phrase I learned to say when answering to and respecting an adult.

And those golf balls? They served as tools in Entrepreneurship 101 for me as I attempted to sell them to locals frequenting a nearby park. That initial enterprise netted me about $2.40 until one day two teenage boys grabbed big handfuls of my inventory from my bicycle basket and ran off with them.

That bicycle provided brisk transportation for exploring a whole new area, in a whole new state; quite different to anything I was used to. Given to me by my newly minted Step-Uncle, my set of wheels was nothing to rave about; it was a basic bicycle in good working order, suitably adjusted for my height and faded navy in color. The area around my home was mostly flat, with lots of quiet suburban streets plus a few roads that ventured out towards more desolate areas. My explorations were constricted by just one rule; I wasn’t allowed to cross the busy road that was a short two minutes away via pedaling. It sure was tempting, with the ocean just three blocks beyond it. Drat.

No matter. Still plenty of terrain to explore on the safer side of the street. I especially enjoyed one area that had homes spread father out, fields all around, and few trees. "Love is Blue" played loudest in my mind as I stood up on my bike for that extra leverage of thrust required to conquer a gentle hill towards where the more wide-open landscape started.

Wasn’t aware of it at the time, but, amazingly enough, there are lyrics to that song. It’s a sad tale of lost love sprinkled with various hues. Each color symbolizes various feelings associated with the end of the relationship. So in order not to shatter my memories, I’m going to apply those colors to those spring days from so long ago.

Blue, blue, my bike was blue (navy, remember?). Gray for the color of the skies in the cool mornings before the sun popped out. Red was the color of my favorite corduroy jacket. Green for the grass at the golf course where I accumulated inventory for resale. Green also brings to mind the smell of the pine trees that overpowered any other scents in the air. Black for how I sometimes felt in a strange new place, missing my friends while being made gentle fun of by new pals. But hey, who needs the lyrics anyway? Doesn’t really matter to me, when the memories remain clear.

Listen to "Love is Blue" here

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flower Power: Back to the Garden By Jayne Lamp

The term groovy itself takes me back to my youth but the one phrase that really sticks in my mind is Flower Power. Back then there were flowers everywhere, in our hair, on our clothes, on walls and on the side of VW vans.

Flower Power is the beauty of the real thing. As a young child, I remember coming home through the woods after school and finding my Father out in our yard, working in the flower beds. I would spend hours with Pop, learning all the names and discovering the difference between a new sprout and a weed. I marveled at the colors from spring until fall, when winter would come and the flowers would sleep until the warmer weather came again.

I now carry on that tradition of flower beds. When we first moved into our current home, there was just one lone Japanese Thorn Apple bush in the yard. That spring we bought our first rhododendron, which our oldest child accidentally split when the ramp he was jumping with his bike slipped. Also that year we started out first veggie garden. I will never forget my husband and I out there with the four children, him working the rototiller and the older ones wanting to till too. Well let's just say they tried. We planted, watched, waited, and then enjoyed the fruits of "our" labor.

Now sadly my babies are all grown, some with children of their own so I have turned my full attention toward my gardens. Yes gardens. With just a garden claw, along with my other standard gardening tools, I, in my own humble opinion, have created a garden oasis.

The fun begins with a trip to the local nursery to pick out the flowers. When I first started our garden, I never gave a thought that some plants die and never return. Ah, the annuals! Then my husband suggested perennials, and I asked him, “What are those”? Well, I found out quick! They come back every year! Eureka, I thought, and since then have not looked back.

That was three years ago and today I have several gardens scattered on the property. On one side of the garage, running down along the driveway is my English Garden. This one has spiderworts, daisies, and my much loved Buddleia (the “fancy” term for butterfly bush) and an assortment of other plants. Near the veggie garden is the Lily Garden. On the hill is the Desert Oasis; full of red hot pokers and various grasses as well as watermelon, cucumbers and zucchini. And the last bed is our hibiscus garden; so far I have found thirteen different one's for our area.

And while I do my gardening I make a supreme effort to always conserve and think green. I catch rainwater with a system improvised with watering tubes from my husband's shop. My youngest son's crib serves as the new bed for my strawberries. But the best part of my gardening is sharing what I learned over the years with my youngest grandson. To see the joy and delight on that boy's face when he picks a tomato he helped grow! For me, to say the least, Flower Power lives on, only now it evolves into on a whole other meaning for me.

Thanks Groovy Reflections for conjuring up some memories!

Written by Jayne Lamp, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Night I Met Jimi Hendrix, by S.K. Waller

My friend Debi lived just a mile from the UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara) student village, Isla Vista. Despite the block-after-block layout of mid-century apartment buildings, the hippies hanging out at People's Park, the political activism and the strip of coffeehouses, mod boutiques and head shops had earned "I.V." the unofficial title of "Haight-Ashbury South". It was a place that was cool enough that Edie Sedgwick spent the end of her young life there. Today it is best known for the riots of 1970 during which the Bank of America was burned to the ground, but before that happened, Isla Vista was a great place to hang out, promenade in your hippie finery, enjoy live folk music in one of the several coffeehouses, and crash a party.

Debi was a model with the La Belle Agency and through her I sometimes modeled petite fashions for affluent mothers who lunched in El Paseo in Santa Barbara. We also modeled together for students at the Brooks Institute of Photography, but while I was gamine-like and fit in with the Mod look of Swinging London, she was the quintessential California Girl: blond, tan and sexy. And she knew how to use it.

On this particular weekend we'd gotten tickets to the Jimi Hendrix concert in UCSB's Robertson Gym. Debi was on a strict schedule of phenobarbital; she must have had epilepsy, but she never spoke of it. I remember that her mother came into the bedroom every night and woke her up to give her a pill, which I thought was kind of weird. That week she'd foolishly saved a couple of them up for the concert, and as soon as we were dropped off at the gym, we hit a water fountain. I'd never taken anything like that before and it knocked me into a hypnotic stupor that made everything around me move in slow-mo. At that point in my life I'd only smoked pot--this was entirely different, and I liked it.

In those days no one sat in chairs at concerts. Everyone just sat on the floor, stood near the stage, or danced. Being a musician, I was the standing sort, and we found a great spot to the right of the stage, directly in front of one of the speaker stacks. We were close enough to bassist Noel Redding that we could see the scuffs on his boots.

The concert was fantastic, and despite the drug, I have a vivid memory of Jimi's performance. Just as The Experience launched into their encore, a guy came up to us and told us to come with him. Being on real drugs for the first time, I immediately became paranoid, afraid that "they'd" figured out we were high (yeah, right... two teens in a gym full of Hendrix fans...), and were going to give us to the police. Funny, now that I'm older. We looked at each other, scared, and followed him. Mostly, I was pissed because I was missing Jimi's performance of "Foxey Lady".

The guy led us into a large back room in which a long table was set up as a buffet. I didn't understand what was going on, but in a few moments the doors opened again and my friends, Ernie & the Emperors walked in. They were the most popular band in the tri-counties area and were well-respected by the Lovin' Spoonful, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Deep Purple, and most of the really great bands of that time. I first met them at the Dolphin Club in Solvang, a facility that held teen dances with live bands on Saturday nights. Because I was a musician and my brother was a drummer in another band (and sometimes sat in with them), the Orosco brothers and I became friends. We'd also met up backstage at a Lovin' Spoonful concert at Earl Warren Showgrounds, so seeing them enter the room wasn't at all surprising. We spoke a little bit and I noticed that drummer Mitch Mitchell had drawn Debi away and was chatting her up. What was happening began to dawn on me: Mitchell had seen her in the audience and told one of the roadies to bring us backstage.

There was a stir at the door and in walked Jimi. He was a small man--probably no taller than 5' 4" and slight of build. Actually, all three of them were short, but Jimi possessed enormous presence.

He looked around the room, said a word or two to a couple of people, then walked right over to the buffet table where I was standing. Had he been interested in meeting me? I wonder. He was quiet--almost shy--and began talking to me. He asked me if I was a "Santa Barbara bunny", which in my mental state struck me as kind of an odd question, and I replied that I couldn't even swim, much less surf. I remember that he laughed, his face breaking into that beautiful smile of his.

I told him I was a singer/songwriter and he was immediately interested, asking me questions about my style, my influences and my goals. After a while he asked me if my girlfriend and I would like to go and party with him and the band, and like the naive 16 year-old that I was, I explained that Debi's dad was picking us up at ten. Sussing out that I wasn't a groupie, Jimi very sweetly and respectfully steered the conversation back to music.

Later, Jimi and Ernie had a friendly talk in the dressing room that led from the room I was in. Ernie clearly recalls Jimi's down-to-earth and magically humble qualities as the Rock legend leaned against his dressing room mirror conversing with him.

I don't remember leaving, but I've always regretted being high that night. I wish I'd had my wits about me--I'd remember a whole lot more about what Jimi and I talked about. We must have stood talking for ten minutes or more.

When I learned of his death, I was sad for a long time. Despite his wild reputation, Jimi Hendrix was a gentleman in the purest sense of the word who will always own a warm corner of my heart.

Written by S.K. Waller, Guest Groovy Reflections Blogger

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer in the 60's Series: "The Rupp"

Jersey Shore, the reality series, has nothing in common with those happy days I spent as a child during the summers there. For several years in a row, we stayed in the rental house right on Route 35, about a half hour south of Asbury Park. The house would be packed with the immediate family plus relatives coming and going. My Dad would only be there on the weekends; after all, he had to bring home the bread to feed us. His work was seasonal and he needed to work while it was warm outside and the ground wasn’t frozen.

The house we rented for several years resembled a sprawling bungalow. It was actually a former restaurant. The main room, to the best of my memory, had seven couches in it, arranged haphazardly. All of us kids grabbed a light blanket and claimed our territory at night. The choices spots were closest to one of the fans; you remember the ones where you could easily stick a digit through to the spinning blades and be damaged for life? Luckily, we all still have ten fingers.

I have no recollection of a TV in that house. Who needed it, when the beach was a block away? And who needed cakes and cookies when there was a Tastee Freeze just across the street? For additional entertainment, the house did have two screened-in porches, one facing the main drag and the other on one side of the house by a side street. Now you’re thinking, why even mention those porches?

First of all, those porches were protection from mosquitoes. They were also great places to simply rock in a squeaky chair and watch the world go by. But would you believe that those passers-by found us entertaining too?

One summer, my Dad bought a mini bike. A Rupp. Fire engine red. This was a fairly new fun vehicle, or should I say “toy” on the market at the time. Dad would proudly display it on the front porch and marvel at the people stopping, looking at it, and drooling. Some would ask questions about it. And he was happy to tell them all about that mini-bike. Though my young mind wasn’t familiar with the term “early-adopter” yet, my Dad clearly was one. And oh, how he wanted the world to know it!

For the record, that mini bike still exists. One of my brothers has it. It did receive a fresh new paint job in a deep bronze tone about 20 years ago, but has been sitting in a shed now for years. Wonder if it runs? The funny part is I don’t recall that Rupp ever leaving the screened-in porch for the whole summer. Did my Dad or older brother sneak it out at night? Hopefully it wasn’t as immobile then as it is today.

Note: Photo is not the actual Rupp we owned, but ours was similar. The pic is from

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer in the 60’s Series: Asbury Park (Not 4th of July).

The last day of summer vacation at the Jersey Shore was always a real treat……hello, Asbury Park!

I’m talking about the days before that city’s boardwalk area crumbled to pieces. Before the rides were all sold off. Before the beautiful turn of the century buildings at each end of the boardwalk were left to rot; rain and snow pouring in from hole-riddled roofs, shattered panels of glass, extensive Victorian exterior detail half missing. 

The building on the south end was The Casino, filled with indoor rides, a carousel, amusements and even an exhibit hall. I don’t know for certain, but it sure looks to me like Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love video was shot there.

After spending most of the summer at Lavallette in a rented house a block from the beach, my family would spend a full day at Asbury Park's boardwalk, enjoying rides, greasy fries, and funnel cakes. Me, 6 years old, wearing a size 6X red dress with white polka dots from Sears, giggling in a spinning teacup and feeling queasy from numerous rotations on the Tilt-O-Whirl.

A highlight was a visit to Palace Amusements, across the street from The Casino, just steps away from the boardwalk. The bold illustrations on its minty green exterior had all the right elements to beckon you inside. Tillie’s larger than life smiling face beamed a toothy grin, similar to the one I’d have after spending some time on the rides there.

A trip on the Ferris wheel was mandatory. On each gondola, gleaming white letters proudly displayed names of New Jersey cities, reminding us of the great state we were in. And, how many Ferris wheels do you know of that were boarded inside a building and popped into the sky through an opening in the roof? I’ll never forget the bird’s eye view that unfolded below of the boardwalk, ocean, Madame Marie’s booth, and my favorite teacup ride.

The fun house featured a slanted room with rows of metal railings that kept me from slamming into the wall while fighting gravity on the downside. Ancient wooden floors creaking under pressure, dusty dark corners, skinny hallways, strobe lights and fast blasts of air contributed to simple delight for a fun house experience that probably doesn’t exist nowadays.

The Palace was where I was introduced to gambling. My mom and I decided to play a wheel. Now, how hard can it be to win a prize? I immediately had my eye fixed on a stuffed saint bernard on the far wall that was summing me up with a rather dopey expression. Oh, victory was going to be mine! I could feel it.

Mom helped me up on a stool so I’d have a better view of the action. The hurdy gurdy sounds from the carousel blending with screams of joy riders added to my winning aura. Being so young and wise, my mom of course consulted with me on which number we would play. She followed my advice and placed a coin down.

The wheel started spinning. And spinning. Fast. Oh, when will it stop? This is taking forever, I thought, as I wiggled on my perch. Finally, the ticking of the pins on the wheel were farther apart. And then, even farther apart; eventually slowing to a trickle. Tick….tick…....tick…….…

C’mon already! While my mom gazed intensely at the wheel with a calm look on her face, the anticipation of the outcome was causing me to nearly burst inside. Finally, it stopped. My eyes went wide. Hopping off the stool, then jumping up and down with the velocity of a pogo stick, I proclaimed “We won we won WE WON!” and pointed at my already chosen prize. The attendant unhooked the object of my desire from the wall and handed that brown and white bundle of fake fur and stuffing to me. I hugged him. No, not the attendant, my prize, which I had already determined was a he. I looked at my mom and shrieked “His name is Zero”!

Here's a short video from 1984 of Palace Amusements. It really didn't change that much inside over the years. Gone now, but the memories remain.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Flower

Long walks are a hobby of mine; for me, it’s time spent in thought and relaxation while burning a few calories. Fortunately, there is a beautiful trail nearby. Something is always blooming there, enhancing the peacefulness of any stroll. The only downside is that the path is alongside a fairly busy street; however the noise of cars speeding by can be deafened by cranking up the iPod.

About 40 minutes into my walk, two women approached me from the opposite direction. One was strolling in front of the other one, who was in a wheelchair. The seated woman was in her mid 80’s or older, judging by her sunken, fragile appearance. Her head was slightly tilted to one side and she was warmly dressed despite it being in the mid 70’s. I had passed the pair earlier near the south end of the trail; at that time, the gal on foot was pushing the wheelchair. At our second meeting, the seated woman was controlling her motorized chair on her own.

As she and I moved closer towards each other, the seated woman's right arm came up straight in front of her. In her hand was a long, delicate orange-red flower. Tubular. A bell-like beauty that hummingbirds enjoy drinking from. I felt drawn to her and with the song “Let’s Live for Today” buzzing in my ear, questionably approached her and said “For me?”

She quietly said yes. I immediately let out an “oh my goodness” that resounded above and beyond the sha la la’s of the music, and accepted her gift. It was a short, unexpected, sweet, moment. Oh, but what a moment! She couldn't see my eyes watering up since I had sunglasses on. Perhaps I should have taken my sunglasses off. Then this wonderful stranger would have received the full impact of her kindness rippling through me and touching my heart.

Total duration? Less than ten seconds.

Talk about setting your mood high for the day! As I walked on, I thought about how simple it is to reach out and just be nice. I pondered about how seldom that happens. I made a silent vow to myself to encourage people to smile even more. And that goes to friends and strangers alike. Yes indeed, I can make those hellos a bit hardier instead of mumbling sometimes. My grin can be broader, my step a little springier. And next time you see me, don’t be surprised if I hand to you a flower.

Monday, June 28, 2010

How to Clutter Up Your Home

It all starts when you’re old enough to have a driver’s license. But it really kicks into high gear when you get your own set of wheels; then you can go just about anywhere. Who’s going to stop you? And all those garage sales and flea markets.

Still in my teens, all manners of “useful stuff” came home with me from various places: An inflatable smiley-faced pillow, a tin kiddie music box with a alien popping out of it, a Herman Hermits 45 with a picture sleeve, and a really old Minnie Mouse wooden doll with a very tattered dress are just a few of the treasures.

A collector is born.

And oh, how serious that accumulation of wondrous finds became! On Friday I’d be noting all the addresses for garage sales in the classifieds. Early Saturday mornings would be spent with the Hagstrom’s maps for my local area, planning the most efficient route that would use up the least amount of gas and time. Then, off I’d go, picking up yet more records from the 1960’s that nobody wanted (Beatles, anyone?), a Dad’s Root Beer sign, World’s Fair 1964 memorabilia, and pink dishes with cat tails on them.

Sundays were usually spent at a flea market held on the grounds of a drive-in movie theater. Made friends with several of the vendors along the way. Guess I became a “regular”. Now, that tells you something about the “bug” planted in me.

Eventually, I fell into a pattern while slowly gravitating towards sizably larger finds. At the time, I had a whole house to myself, so why not fill it up? Kaagen styled end tables with glass tops AND matching coffee table, atomic fifties bar stools, and night stands that only needed a little love, a light sanding, and some lemon oil. Fantastic!

Fast forward a few years. An Aunt of mine who was living alone became very ill. My family moved her to a nursing home. A lot of her “stuff” came to me, including an extensive collection of Depression glass and deco-styled dinnerware. Of course, I needed to work hard to expand those collections. Is there a collecting gene? It’s possible that my Aunt and I share that same gene.

That same year, two extensive record collections merged together. Albums and 45s take up lots of space. One can even buy special cardboard boxes for storing. Takes a long time to sort it all out too…you DO want to be able to play that Left Banke album when you’re hankering for a listen, right?

Oh and some more advice for accumulating clutter properly? Keep buying houses. It’s okay to sell off a house or 2 once in a while, but keep adding more space to keep “stuff”. Make sure the homes have LOTS of closets, nooks and crannies. A “secret” room is a BIG pls. And, garages aren’t just for cars you know. And the more garages, the better!

Now, if the clutter is starting to get out of control, instead of climbing over mounds of it and risking injury, there’s a few ways to tone it all down. #1 Rent space at an antiques mall. You WILL have to do your homework and really get to know the items you’re selling to ensure success. Two key words to remember: Traffic, and pricing.

#2 Have garage sales. Lots of them. As many that are allowable by your town. #3 Sell off some items on eBay. You will have to be VERY careful when shipping some items, such as Depression glass. #4 Use Craigslist to unload stuff. It’s free. You may get as many as five people vying over the same item. And the people come to you and haul the treasures away. Easy as pie.

Ah, what to do with all the proceeds from #1 - #4? Buy more stuff of course! And lastly, enjoy. After all, you bought all the stuff in the first place. Some of it must mean something to you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting hit by a car hurts.

Luckily, this didn’t happen. I was on a long, leisurely walk the other day…aaah. While strolling past a driveway in a sleepy cul-de-sac, I noticed a parked car. Then, suddenly, the vehicle suddenly lurched backward, in silence. I later noticed that the noiseless car was a Honda Accord, likely a hybrid one. With an Olympic leap, aided by my new springy sneakers, I successfully avoided a nasty contact with sheet metal.

Believe it or not, this recent incident is the second time in the last month or so where I was almost hit by a car while on foot.

But it’s what happened next that’s interesting. I continued walking, prepared to give this motorist an evil left blue eye. When she caught up to me, the passenger window was down and she yelled out – “I’m so sorry.” Instead of what I had planned for her, I shouted back over the Dirty Vegas tune blasting on my iPod – “No problem; it’s okay,” and I smiled. It was relief; a release of sorts.

And we both went on our merry ways; I forked to the right, she made a left. As I continued walking my brain started churning, overtaking the power of the music in my ears. It occurred to me that I had been too hasty with my initial reaction to this event. Lashing out is not a solution; it only fuels unnecessary fire. Thankfully, my response never took place. After all, it wasn’t as if she were deliberately trying to run me down; heck, we don’t even know each other!

But I thought about other times, in the past, where people automatically reacted to me in a vengeful way, or I them. And yes, this is perhaps stretching this particular situation, but it led me to thinking about how quick we are to process information and sum it up without taking the time to consider all the different alternatives. My little mishap is a reminder that we really have to slow down sometimes and understand a situation before we take any action about it. I’ll declare this little adventure a thought-provoker and nothing more. Good thing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

SunChips’ Compostable Bag: Should I Be Green After Hearing It? What?

I love snacking on carbs. Who doesn’t? I’ll usually choose the healthier choices from one of those “alternative” markets. Well, I was in a bit of a shopping rush a few weeks ago and only had time to dash into a “regular” grocery to pick up some goodies and staples.

As luck would have it, I started imagining noshing on something with some crunch to it. So there I was, standing in the snack aisle. I wanted to make a healthy choice. And there on the shelf, I spotted Sun Chips. Yes, I have had them before; mainly for “people fuel” when on long driving trips.

After all, they are probably one of the healthiest choices at a gas station convenience store. Yes! Justification! So I scooped up bag. I immediately noticed the bag had a funny crinkle to it. Eh. I tossed it in the cart anyway.

Arriving home, I put away the groceries quickly. Now, on to those Sun Chips. The radio in the kitchen was blaring pretty loudly. I started opening the bag. Suddenly, the room exploded into crinkly clatter! Whoa! What happened to Pink Floyd? Was there an earthquake? My ears hurt!

Measured out a serving, ear still smarting. Yes, I measure my food, otherwise the contents of a bag of chips would magically disappear and I’d gain a pound. Now, time to roll-up the top of the bag and clip it. AAAARGH! That done, I gingerly held the bag and quickly stashed it into the kitchen pantry. Pink Floyd sang “You're nearly a laugh - But you're really a cry”.

The chips were delicious and satisfying.

What have the makers of Sun Chips done? Their intention is good. They’ve demonstrated care for our planet, and want to reduce their carbon footprint. And it’s easy to do our part. Put the bag in your compost pile and in a mere 3 ½ months it’s broken down and returned to the soil. Here is a page containing a nifty video that nicely illustrates the whole process.

The folks at Sun Chips admit that the bag is noisy and offered an explanation: “Plant-based materials have different sound properties than the materials used to create our old bags.” Nice to know, but perhaps free ear plugs should be included with every bag?

Searching on the internet on “Sun Chips” + “bag” + “noisy” reveals a considerable amount of backlash. After hearing it “live” myself, I’m not surprised to see so many responses. Hear it for yourself here.

The big question buy or not to buy? Here’s my thought: If you relish the taste of this product, do continue to enjoy it. Open the bag, dump the chips into a bowl, and compost the bag immediately. Just 20 seconds of ear-splitting cackle is all you’ll have to put up with then. And the SunChips’ bags return to earth journey starts that much sooner. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Haven’t worn a polo shirt since 2001!

Ah, the summer of 2001. I was part of a team of lucky ducks from my company driving cross-country. Sort of like a promotional tour, but symbolic of the company's move west as well.

So much fun! 8 days. The only thing I had an issue with were the polo shirts we had to wear. I was given 5 white, and 5 blue; imagine that, getting two extra! The thirty or so of us would be advised the night before as to which color to wear.

Another part of our uniform was chinos or casual pants, preferably tan or off white, though I managed to sneak a dark blue pair into the mix. It wasn't the fact that we were all dressed in similar fashion that got to me. Nope. The way I see it, the combination of polo and chino has to be one of the most unattractive outfits known to womankind, not so much if guys are wearing it, but on a female body. This garb is especially distasteful when the chinos are pleated in the front, suggesting a bad attempt at hiding an bulky tummy. Nothing like looking as sexless as one can get, devoid of anything suggesting female, and having a balloon in place of your stomach area to boot.

After that trip, I vowed never again to wear such square-offed, ill fitting, unsightly clothing. Over the years, all the chinos have “left the building”, except for one pair. I will drop them off at Goodwill tomorrow, I promise. The polos are all still here, gathering close to a decade of dust, in a seldom opened closet. And on a positive note, those polos are rather unique, proudly projecting the corporation name and the fact that this was a special tour. Not only was this acknowledged discreetly on the front of the shirt, one of the arms was badged as such as well. Hmmmm….eBay maybe? I wonder what Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear would say about this style of dress?

Well, for this gal, it's bring on the ruffles, bell sleeves, soft lines, flowing tops, sort and slightly more sheer materials, girly flower patterns (but only the tasteful ones), mod 60's patterns and happy colors! It's been wonderful not being forced to wear a polo! Ahh....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Take a hike!

Sunshine, and 50 clear sky degrees. Two good elements that contribute to a peaceful, gentle hike. Who says outdoor activity has to be grueling? That’s not for me. Feeling, breathing, seeing, hearing, and sensing all the beauty that’s been created. Ah, that’s what it’s all about. Welcome to Joshua Tree National Park.

Observing. Two climbers with serious equipment on top of a small mountain. I’m getting dizzy just looking up at them. One decides that it’s time to be “grounded”. I hold up my phone, and quickly put it in camera mode. I see him, there in the display, coming down. Fast. Maybe three seconds. I gently touch the “shoot” button. Ah, but not this time. The delay on my phone captures a beauty shot of steep rocks, but no human careening down a steep, rocky cliff!

Done with hike at this section of the park. Planned to move to another area, this time by a basin. Driving out, a ranger stops us. “Sorry, we’re in lockdown”, she said. “A helicopter is coming in. It’ll be a while.”

So, we parked the car. Sat there for a moment. What to do? We’ll let’s explore the area around the parking lot, since it will “be a while”. Luckily, there was plenty to see. Two brave daredevils at the top of a mountain of rocks, sans any equipment. I caught my breath every time they came close to the edge. In fact, looking at them made me dizzy too.

And, just behind another mountain, in a vast clearing, joshua trees as far as the eye could see; almost lined up like prickly soldiers. Snapped many photos with my trusty phone. Would have missed a lot of the beauty of the area if we had left when we intended to.

And did a helicopter arrive? Yes, indeed. Not sure what happened, but it appeared that a climber may have fallen down when up high on some rocks and injured himself. About 30 rescue people were there, most in bright yellow garb and screaming orange hats to carefully extract him and tenderly move him to the waiting helicopter. Wishing him well!

The "captivity" lasted over an hour. Though my peace of mind that I was seeking that day was jolted a bit, nevertheless, I did find much of what I was looking for that day. And surprises? Most certainly. The memories live on.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Precious ...and few.

Okay, you thought I was going to write about a movie I haven’t seen yet? Nope. Yesterday, I had a large piece of food lodged in my windpipe. And, I experienced the Heimlich maneuver for the very first (and last) time. Only one person, just ONE, has been told the complete, second-by-second story.

Today, as I sit here nursing soreness, headache and a dry cough, I feel joy even while the memory of the panic and terror I experienced is still fresh in my mind. I am thankful that my lunch date knew what to do. I am thankful for the restaurant staff that quickly came to my aid, and their patience. I am thankful for the profound coolness that prevailed over the scene.

And, I’m rather surprised by my own behavior. Once my ordeal was over, standing there in bewilderment and relief, I started chuckling. Quietly and hoarsely at first, then louder. I’m certain my booming voice resounded and echoed against the smooth glass walls. In harmony with the laughter, I spewed out “I’m sorry” several times. I genuinely felt bad for the restaurant, worried that I might have lost customers for them. Don’t think that happened, fortunately.

Today is a day of celebration for me. Yes, thoughts of "if I had died, who would come to my funeral”, and “I haven’t finished all I want to accomplish here" raced through my mind. Done with that. I know there's so much to look forward to. And forward it shall be. Back to “the usual” I go, changed somewhat. Now even more fine-tuned to appreciating everything around me, those around me are likely to witness a frequent, slight upturning of one side of my mouth into a grateful, goofy grin.

As the song by Climax says “precious and few are the moments….”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Green Season

I love driving around Southern California this time of year. It’s Spring, full-force. Seeing many photos from friends on Facebook showing umpteen inches of snow makes me appreciate the climate I live in even more. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like snow, actually, I do like snow, for many reasons:

• Making snow angels is just plain fun, even if the back of my pants gets soaked.
• Simply driving in snow can be challenging but enjoyable, especially after being stunned when your car does a “180” and thankfully not hitting anything.
• Having heavy snow fly in a straight on frenzy into the windshield while windshield wipers flap; there’s an intense rhythm to it. A pulsing tune on the radio adds to the effect.
• Snow is pretty when it’s fresh; when it forms a hard top coat, it even glistens. Truly a visual delight.
• Watching snow coming down while sitting by a roaring fireplace can be mesmerizing. Great stress reliever too.
• The company you work for may declare a “snow day”. Ah, permission to stay home and pretend you’re working! As a former East Coaster, yes, I have experienced this!

While many of my friends are living in a snowy winter wonderland, I’m busy basking in a world of green. Driving around many areas near my home, distant green rolling hills surround me and make me suck in my breath, stirred by the feeling of peacefulness that stirs within. Yeah, it sounds corny, but it’s true. And all the while, I’m still in full control of a moving vehicle!

Now is the time of the year when suburban lawns are most vibrant, ranging from a darker “grass green”, to the more lemon-lime brightness of younger blades. As I stroll my neighborhood, I delight in the patchwork of living colors. How wonderful that there are so many hues of greens to enjoy!

Enjoy your seasons, whether they are intensely different each quarter, or just evolve slightly through the year. Soak in the colors, bask in the sun’s intensity, and be dazzled by the wonders, big and small. Pay attention to the details and the one-of-a-kind sightings. Go ahead; create a name for those short periods of time. And welcome to my "Green Season”.