Archive for February 2008

Will You Be Mine?

February 14, 2008

Olivia Scholz

by Olivia Scholz



For a child of the 1950’s Valentine’s Day was a big deal.  Cupid’s arrow found many a heart even in elementary school especially in 5th and 6th grade.


The teachers made it almost a major holiday. Many hours in art class were spent making fancy Valentine’s out of red construction paper, white lacy paper doilies, buttons, beads or feathers for family members and that special someone.  The teacher would also bring a big cardboard box to class that would be decorated by the students with red, pink, and white construction paper, lace doilies, crepe paper and hearts.  A big slot was cut in the top as this was to be our class “mailbox.”  


Mom and Dad helped us purchase a box of small valentines for all of our classmates and we would patiently sit writing each person’s name on the envelope being careful to pick out just the right one for each friend.  I especially liked the kind that came bound in a soft cover book that you had to punch out.  They were often fancier than the boxed ones.  


When the big day finally arrived we would take the cards to school and put them through the slot into the decorated “mailbox.”  After lunch the party would begin.  One lucky classmate would be chosen to be the mailman and would hand deliver each card to our waiting decorated paper bag.  The anticipation and excitement in the air was so thick it could almost be seen as well as felt.  I guess we didn’t worry so much about getting food poisoning or school liability insurance because parents brought in delicious, decorated home-made cupcakes, frosted cookie hearts, and home-made candy.  Talk about a sugar overload.  


Classes would pretty much be over for the day as we chattered while opening each card, pouring over the sentiment each one expressed.  It was a right of passage and I kept many of the cards over the years, still remembering with a warm heart the many friends of my grammar school years.  


The holiday is still celebrated and promoted by card shops, candy stores, florists, restaurants, jewelry stores and anyone else trying to sell you something.  Over the years Rod & I have always given each other beautiful cards, gone out to dinner or I have cooked something special, and I have received many beautiful bouquets of long-stemmed red roses.  It has always been special and romantic, but they must still compete with the memories of Valentine Days of my youth.  


There the memories will always be surrounded by lacy, home-made hearts!s  


Shirley Palmer – A Family Happening

February 11, 2008


When our son was in grade school his front teeth were showing signs of not being perfectly straight, so the Pediatric Dentist that I took the kids to suggested that we get him either a trumpet or a trombone and that pressure from the mouth piece pressing against those teeth would push them back, thus eliminating the need for braces! Our nephew had a trombone sitting in their closet, so the trombone it was.

We signed him up for music lessons and soon he was in the school orchestra. He enjoyed this musical diversion and took his part in the school orchestra quite seriously. At the end of the year they would put on a concert for all the parents to hear how they had or hadn’t progressed – the big event of the end of the school year.

By the time Gary was in the 6th grade (last year of grade school) he was feeling pretty confident and smart about his newly acquired talent. This particular year they decided to bring the 6 or 7 grade schools in our general area together to play a BIG concert! It was going to be played in the auditorium of San Fernando High School on a Friday night.

The morning of the concert my son reminded me at breakfast that he needed oil for his trombone slide – it was sticking and he needed the oil so it would be in perfect condition for the concert. I assured him I would run out at lunch – up to the music store in San Fernando and get the trombone oil. As fate would have it, I had one of my busiest days in escrow ever!! I had customers lined up outside my door all day long – I was lucky to get a “potty” break – no lunch – worked right through it. I was rushing so that I’d be home in time to leave for the BIG concert. I came rushing in the back door and first thing Gary asked me for his trombone oil – BAM – it hit me, I had forgotten the darn oil!!!

I apologized all over the place, trying to explain what a busy day I’d had etc etc., but kids just don’t want to hear excuses. He was mad – “How could you forget, Mom??”
My husband spoke up and said he had something that would work – so he goes in and brings out some silicone spray. He sprayed the slide – worked it up and down a few times and it was working great. Gary was happy again – his Dad was the “hero” and Mom was part way out of the dog house. We had to rush out for him to get the bus to ride with the rest of the kids up to San Fernando High School.

In our car was husband and me, my Mom (who was visiting from Seattle) and our daughter. We got up to the high school and entered the auditorium and it was huge – compared to what we had been used to for our own school concerts. They had like an orchestra pit on the floor for all the strings and then on the stage they had various risers for the students to sit on – so all could be seen. There was probably at least 60 or more kids that were going to play together – and this was big time excitement for them. The Band Master from San Fernando High School was conducting.

We took our seats – were given very nice programs with all the students names printed in them – each under their particular schools name. Listed under Canterbury Grade School was Gary Palmer, as 1st trombone. We were all so proud.

The time came for the kids to march in and it was spectacular – all they boys in white shirts, dark pants & ties and the girls in white blouses & dark skirts. They filed in according to the seating arrangements, so the trombones being on the very top tier of the stands came in first, the trumpets were next – the percussion section was set over to the side of the stage – on solid ground. The last to enter of course were the violins that were way down on the floor level circled around the conductor. Looking back there must have been at least 4 rows up on the stage and probably another 4 rows down below. The way they had it arranged you could see each and every player as the auditorium sloped up – giving us all a wonderful view.

Musicians in place – the Conductor came out to a round of applause – time for the show to begin. He picked up his baton and hit it against his music stand, which was a clue for the musicians to bring up their instruments to starting position for their first song which was to be Battle Hymn of the Republic!

Unfortunately the starting position for trombone for that song was with the slide all the way out. It happened so fast I don’t think anybody realized at first what had happened. BUT – in getting into first position Gary’s slide from his trombone went flying out into mid air – bounced down all the tiers of the stage and past the percussion and ended up in the violin section. The conductor put his baton down and motioned to Gary to come and retrieve his slide. I remember my Mother holding her program over her face and saying “That isn’t Gary is it???” There was snickering all around us as we tried not to be embarrassed. I wanted to cry – it was all my fault – that damn oil that I had forgotten –curses on Mom!!

Gary made his way down all the level on the stage – then jumped off stage into the violin section picked up his slide and then had to climb back up all the way to the top. Upon arrival at his seat – the conductor turned around to the audience and said, “We will now begin” and bowed again – took up the baton, taped the music stand and the wonderful music began. AND Gary had a death grip on his slide for the rest of the performance. Surprisingly enough he came out smiling after the concert!

It is a night forever etched in my memory – and the rest of our family. My husband learned his silicone spray was a little slicker than regular trombone oil, and my son learned how to make the best out of a very bad situation AND most of all Mom learned to pin important errands to be done at lunch time on the outside of her purse, so she didn’t slip up again!!.

By the way, when he entered Jr. High School he gave up the trombone for football. And, as a post script that mouthpiece of the trombone pressing on his teeth had pushed his teeth back, just like the dentist had said it would.

And that is one of my favorite family happenings! Now it is amusing to look back, at the time it could have been disaster (and almost was)!!

Al Frew – Vagabond To Beach Bum

February 11, 2008


How do we know when we want to retire?  What do we want to do – a whole lot of things or little bits of nothing?  After all those years with the Red Cross and a 24/7 ‘life on the road’, it was bound to be a big change.  Yet – we are not always as ready for it as we think.  I considered my first attempt at retirement to be a ‘bust’.  Oh yes – like many people, I had all kinds of plans to set up my own consulting business.  But it turned out to be more complicated than expected.  So I ended up managing a ‘Super Cuts’ hair styling salon – what was I thinking?  Did I want to return to a 24/7 life again?

It took a while to realize it but one morning I woke up and decided it was time for a new chapter in my life.

Once that decision was made, so many things happened so quickly it was hard to keep up with everything.  The condo in San Mateo, California sold after only 4 days on the market and escrow closed 21 days later.  And it was a challenge to move after 20 years in one place but it is fun to ‘let things go’ and make a fresh start.

One of my dreams had been to travel to new places.  So the next 6 months was spent doing just that and loving every minute.  In addition to longer visits with family, there were explorations with long term friends in different parts of the country.  Even more important were overseas trips to Europe and the Far East.  It was wonderful to visit Abbey in Japan and not worry about time – you can see a lot more places when there is no time limit!  And it was possible – at last – to visit England and Scotland.  With my love of history, this was like a ‘dream come true’ – all those castles, museums, and historical places.  And the bonus was being able to look up my grandparent’s home in a village near Glasgow, Scotland!

Of course, no one can keep traveling forever – and it was time to find my new home in San Luis Obispo, California.  But there was no need to rush a decision; there was time to explore and decide the best place to live.  So the next 2 months were spent living in the village of Cayucos and exploring each of the 15 towns in the County.  Each of these communities has its own unique ‘personality’ and it was fun learning what each had to offer.  That process also helped me refine what features were most important to me.

This second attempt at retirement is proving far more successful.  It is refreshing to live in a condominium complex with lots of students/faculty from local colleges.  This area has an outstanding climate and has plenty of warm weather; how great it is to be no more than 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean!  It is a great place to live with plenty of friendly people and lots of cultural activities.  And it is even easier to travel to new places – the Amtrak Station is only 10 miles away – and you can go wherever you want.  Last summer included a 7000 mile trip around the United States by Amtrak – one of many adventures for this new chapter in my life.






Dick Griffin – Publishing Your Story

February 11, 2008


   Let’s look at self-publishing your autobiography when you complete your story written for the family and successive generations. For this you produce an edited copy with photos in MS Word format for some print-shops or in PDF format for others.


  The WEB provides good information by several publishing firms and you can do business with them as well as putting their ideas into practice. has many ideas for self-publishers. is similar to the above. offers some advice, but leans toward commercial publishing.


  I tried to interview several local (San Luis Obispo county) printing/publishing firms and was successful with two; the others were either non-existent when I drove there or couldn’t provide help. San Luis Print & Copy (265 South St., Ste E,  SLO, 546-0704) was recently recommended, but I have yet to interview them. The two successes were Staples in Atascadero (near Home Depot) and Poor Richard’s Press in Paso Robles. 


   I spoke with Dawn at Staples, which had been used with nice results by one of our classmates. She covered their services from suggestions on preparation and copying the document, arrangement of pages and photos to printing and binding of a personalized cover and chapter pages. They can provide archival material and laminated covers.


   I spent time interviewing Cheryl at Poor Richard’s Press in Paso Robles, who had been involved in their publishing work for several years. She showed me the various levels of producing a document, which run from an inexpensive pamphlet-type to a bound book.  She went through pricing and how it is applied. One needs to present the copy in PDF format but they have a program to convert your MS Word product to PDF. She recommends 8 ½ X 11 inch size pages.(I had seen smaller sizes recommended on WEB sites, but she sold me on the larger standard.) To ensure she’s in when you wish to visit, call first at 866-752-3300.


   Here are some ideas I’ve gleaned from the WEB and interviews:

   *You are publishing for future generations, so your book must endure for centuries!  Therefore use archival material and protected items. Plastic hinges will break down with the years, so use metal or book bindings. The pages and covers probably will not have heavy use, so they should last with reasonable care. Forget archiving it on CD and floppies; these media will be replaced by more modern technology in a very few years.


  *Identify your photos, no matter how you arrange them in the book.  I find that embedding text inside the photo eliminates the need to associate text in the story in proximity with the photo.  


   *Break the story into chapters, starting each chapter on the right side-just like a book. Number the pages-just like a book  


   *Use sans-serif type font for titles and serif type font for the body. Example of the former is Arial Black and the latter: Garamond. Both of which are common fonts which are used in this paper.


   *Compose on only one computer to eliminate differences in program versions.


  *Edit it thoroughly with the final edit by someone capable other than yourself; even a pro!


   *Use only one justification throughout.  Most common is “full justification”, which is clearer than the others;(i.e. Right, Left and Center).


  *Margins should be ¾ inches on top, bottom and sides with an extra ¼ inch on the left side for binding.


   *Other rules for a professional look are one space between sentences and two spaces indent for paragraphs. (These are not worth retyping an existing draft, but OK for starting. Also note that I’ve used these in this paper.)

  Ed. Note:  We spaced out the paragraphs for easier screen readin .