Archive for May 2008

AN ENLARGED FAMILY by Shirley Palmer

May 22, 2008

There was a family living up our block, four houses from us. which had three kids, the Mom and a big German shepherd. The father had died when the youngest was just one year old of A-plastic anemia, a blood disorder.  Our street was just one block long, so everybody knew everybody on the block. We were friends, but not close with this family as we were with others.  However we did have something in common – we went to the same church. The Mother worked two jobs trying to provide by driving a school bus every day and working as financial secretary for a couple of churches.

The Mother took ill and was hospitalized. I remember going down to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank on Thanksgiving Day to visit her.  She was in isolation, so we had to “suit up” before entering her room.  She looked terrible – all yellow and even the whites of her eyes were bright yellow.  I’d never seen anything like it before. We chit-chatted, making small talk and finally she told us she was worried about the kids. I told her they were doing fine; that all the neighbors were keeping a close eye on them, but we’d make it a priority to check more often. Her kids were then a 17 year old girl named Louise who had her driver’s license, a 15 year old girl and a 13 year old boy.

One day I got a call from our minister telling me that somebody had reported this family to child welfare as living alone without an adult present and they were about to step in. He asked me what were the chances of the three kids staying with us at night. The church would furnish their dinners, but they had to sleep at our house. My husband and I talked it over and said “Absolutely” – without another thought. So within 24 hours my family changed and I now had one 17 yr old, two 15 yr olds (one ours), and two 13 yr. olds (one ours). We had a family meeting and set up our new schedule. The kids would be in our house by 8 P.M. at night. They would have showered and arrived with their clean clothes for the next day. I would get up, pack lunches for all five kids, make their breakfast and send them off to school. After school Louise would drive them down to the hospital to see their mother, then they’d come home, do their homework and eat the dinner which would be furnished by the church, clean up their kitchen and be at our place at 8 P.M. It sounded perfect, but slowly some of the church meals slipped away and they liked my cooking. So soon they were there with us for dinner as well. We put the two girls in our den on the hideabed couch, and got a folding bed to put in our son’s room for the boy to sleep on. Then their mother took a turn for the worst and was transferred out to Loma Linda Hospital out near Redlands, which meant the kids had no way of visiting her except on weekends.

In the meantime my food budget had gone down the tubes! It’s amazing what three extra teenagers can do to the food supply. Even though I was working full time,  this came as quite a financial blow. I was shopping at the day-old bakeries, such as Wonder Bread which wasclose to our house. where you got the bread at just about half price. Making five lunches and breakfast (not counting  my husband and I) took more supplies than I was used to! I also became an immediate master of the casserole:one that fed a lot!

Another memory I have: we’d been out on a Sunday outing water skiing. We came home and the girls were in my daughter’s bedroom, horsing around, when they were supposed to be getting ready for bed. All of a sudden I heard a scream!  It was Loretta, the 15 year old.  She had dislocated her arm at the shoulder trying to get her pajamas on. She was screaming in pain. I had no medical permission slip from their mother! Yikes!! I quickly typed out a medical permission note, had Louise (the oldest) sign it, and off we went to the hospital. We went to Holy Cross E.R. in San Fernando, and after a long wait they asked who the family doctor was and the girls told him. Well, we were told we had to go down to Burbankto St. Joseph’s Hospital, as that is where he practiced. So we bundled off again. Each hospital put me through the 3rd degree about who I was and why  I was bringing this girl in, if I wasn’t related to her. We finally got her treated and back home about 3 a.m., and up for our regular schedule by 6. Then I had to take her to an orthopedic doctor for follow-up treatments.

We tried to plan some family outings on Sunday (that didn’t cost much) to get them out having fun. We did picnics in the park with baseball games. We had a small boat and went water skiing out at Lake Piru.  Each time we’d pack a big lunch and take it with us. Things weren’t looking good for their mother around Easter time. Then I remember on Mother’s Day we went water skiing to try to keep the kids from thinking about what day it was. She died shortly after Mother’s Day, at the age of 40. We had them with us over a year on and off, as things worked out.

During the months I had been helping Louise pay their monthly bills, which included a life insurance policy. I never pried into their financial affairs, but after the death of their mother I had to become more involved. Much to my horror I discovered that the life insurance policy we had been paying the premium on each month did not list the kids as beneficiary. The mom had been married very briefly about eight years before and it didn’t work out, so they divorced. But she had never changed her policy. I was just absolutely sick when I saw it. She left no will so things were a real mess. I finally took the kids up to an attorney who I had done a lot of escrow work for us, a really neat man, who I knew could help them.

Their bachelor uncle (their Father’s brother) tried moving in with them for awhile, but that was a total disaster. Their mother had two brothers. One was a youth probation officer in Redlands, but he had two kids and said he couldn’t take them in. The other brother was a minister in Oregon and he just point blank said “No Way”! So now Louise was 18 and it was legal for them to sleep in their home, but they were at our house most of the time as we had become their family. Every Saturday during my washing and house-cleaning I’d be interrupted to run down the street and stop a full-on fight among the “Mob” ( as I started calling them!) I kept trying to tell them that all they had was each other, that they should love each other and get along! When they were with us they’d argue, but nothing violent, like when they got out on their own.

The bad ex-husband took all the insurance money,so the kids didn’t get a dime. They were able to sell their house and not only enter college, but graduate. Louise graduated with a degree in music, but now works for an attorney in Century City. Loretta is a Registered Nurse and works for UCLA out in the San Gabriel Valley, selling UCLA services to doctors. Philip is the Assistant City Planner of Palm Desert. We still have close contact with all three, but sadly they do not have close contact with each other. They are all in their 50’s now, so what can I say, except I tried my BEST! I did learn from them that you can’t force siblings to love each other, if they don’t want to. They were three individual personalities and they just didn’t blend, or even make an effort to blend. I’ll never understand their thinking, but they are happy in their individual (and I might add) separate lives.


A Story About Dog Training by Shirley Palmer

May 19, 2008

In 1978 we were the proud owners of two black Labrador dogs – a female named Sugar who was my husband’s hunting companion, and her son Sambo – who we kept as the “pick of the litter” – but he wasn’t too smart!  We had always wanted a yellow Lab, and when one of our friends with a black Lab  mated with a yellow Lab, we were promised one of the puppies.                                                          

We were eating dinner on June 22nd when we got the call that our puppy was about to be born.  So naturally we hopped up from the dinner table and went to watch the BIG EVENT!  There were five blacks and four yellows, but only one female yellow, which is what we  wanted.  Well, the first night the mother laid on the only female yellow and she didn’t survive, so we were left with a choice of the males.  We carefully selected our pup and at six weeks we went to pick up Sir Yellow Brandy Buffett – his full legal name for the AKC.  The name was meaningful, but too lengthy to describe here!           

He was as cute as a button. We brought him home, introduced him to Sugar and Sam and they all became one big happy family in our very large back yard.  Our first camping trip with him, I thought he was going to die.  We had a truck and camper and I had neglected to put the “pin” in the refrigerator door – to make sure it didn’t fly open.  We went around a mountain curve and I heard all these crashes & bangs.  I crawled through the window back into the camper and picked up everything that had fallen out (I thought), replacing the contents of the refrigerator and pinned it so all was secure!  I crawled back through the window into the cab of the truck.  It was not an easy maneuver, even though I was a lot thinner in those days. 

The three dogs were just laying on the floor, a bit irritated that their sleep had been disturbed by the falling debris!  When we arrived at our campsite around midnight, we went around to open the door and let the dogs out – Sugar & Sam always headed right for the creek for a quick swim, as they knew our destination.  When Brandy didn’t come out I went in and turned the light on.  He was lying on his back with his huge belly sticking up and there was the bowl that I had 1 dozen hard boiled eggs in empty; all that remained were a few shells on the floor.  We picked him up and he managed to survive with us thankful his stomach didn’t burst!     After he was a year old the decision was made to take him to Dog Obedience School. Although he minded my husband perfectly, I was the one to take him, so that he would learn to respect my commands as well.  The school was put on by the German Shepherd Club of Los Angeles County and was held in the parking lot of the Methodist Church in our neighborhood.  I mentioned to my partner at work (we opened the bank together, and the vaults etc) that I planned to train the dog.  He said quite frankly, “I guarantee  that you will hate that teacher before your 8 weeks are over!”  I was shocked and told him he was absolutely on the wrong track, that I would be there to learn and to train. I was certain the teacher would become my friend – BIG MISTAKE on my part!!

There were approximately 22 in our class – all breeds.  We’d form a circle around the teacher  and listen to her instructions of what we were to do and practice at home.  Then we’d march around the circle trying our assignment for the day and week.   Which meant we had homework!We were to work our dogs at least an hour a day, and since it was July and very hot in Southern California, we were advised not to work them in the heat of the day.  So my schedule became wake up at 4:30 a.m., out with Brandy by 5, home to shower by 6:15, and to work by 7:30.  If I missed a morning, then I had to wait until night when the sun went down, so it would be cooler.  My husband wasn’t keen about me going out at night, since my regular route took me down a dark alley that lead to a church/school parking lot, where I could let him off leash for our assigned exercises.

One night I was walking down this alley when I sensed that I was being followed.  I had heard somewhere that if you think you are in trouble turn around and face the person, because then you have a clear view of him; and attackers don’t like that.  So I whipped around and commanded Brandy to sit.  Here I was staring at this very large Mexican man on a bicycle.  I had sensed that when I walked he would move forward; when I stopped he would stop.  I was a little scared, but thought “keep your cool!” Then the man said to me, “Lady is that dog viscious??”  My answer was: “He can be.” Then he said: “Lady, would you please let me go by?”  There he was-afraid of us!  I said: “certainly,” and it was like a movie: when he rode by on his bike.  Brandy jerked at the leash, barked and showed his teeth.  It was all I could do to contain him.  The poor man peddled as fast as he could to get by us in panic!!  And to think I’d been worried!  Poor man probably never forgot the two of us!  That was my last evening outing.

By the end of the eight weeks I really did dislike the teacher.  She would always bring a dog into the center of our circle to demonstrate how “easy” it was to train this or that.  I kept asking her to take Brandy, but she never would.  Then every time a cat was in the area, Brandy would go nuts and the teacher would say something to the effect, “well Brandy is putting us on notice of an approaching cat!!”  Followed by: “Thank you, Brandy; now if we may continue!!”  I got the feeling she didn’t like me  or my dog!!
I worked so hard for those eight weeks and on the big test night: our off leash exercise, a cat passed by and so went Brandy.  I’m happy to say that I came home with a trophy for 4th place, but my husband has never forgiven me for letting a Cocker Spaniel beat us out for 3rd place, and only by 1 point!!  I know if he had taken Brandy to school, they would have had 1st, but so be it.  He did learn to mind me most of the time and was a loving pet for many years.  When he died we said, “that’s the end of the Palmer’s animals!”

We had raised 4 dogs – our first was a Norwegian Elk Hound who had about 27 puppies all told.  Sugar had one litter and Sambo was our clown.  I was often told I could write a book about all my dog stories.  I wish I had memorized more of the details.  But at that time I was just coping with life and it’s various problems.  One important point is that Brandy was the cause of me having a $27,000.00 ankle, but that’s a complete other story.

And now to the point to this story – if you ever want to get training and discipline in your life, try a dog training class.  I guarantee YOU will end up “trained”, and probably not friends with the teacher!!  Every morning while we were opening the bank vaults my co-workers would ask about the latest Brandy story; and my partner reminded me that he had warned me “Big Time” about the teachers!  He had taken three dogs through this experience and I should have taken heed.  But, what a wonderful learning and training experience! I was now a graduate of Dog Training and considered myself “well trained”!  Don’t think Brandy ever shared my joy of accomplishment!

A Football Story by Shirley Palmer

May 18, 2008

This story takes place around the end of November,1970 in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. Our son was playing in a Pop Warner Football League for boys up to the age of 16 (as I remember it). His team, the North Hollywood Trojans (wearing the same colors as the USC Trojans) had an outstanding season. My husband and I attended all the games, which were always played on Saturdays.
I remember one game was played in Goleta, which was the furthest we had to travel. When we got there (early in the morning) our son Gary was 1 lb over the weight limit, which meant he couldn’t play. Being one of their best players the Coach quickly went into action: had Gary strip off his uniform, wrapped his entire body in Saran Wrap, bundled him up with several jackets and wind breakers and sent him off running around the track. He had to do at least 5 laps!

I was sitting in the stands and couldn’t figure out what was going on. My husband was one of the linesmen, so he was down on the field watching Gary run prior to game time. They finally brought him in, unwrapped him, and he had lost 2 ½ lbs. So he was eligible to play! Those were exciting days.
But the story I want to tell about was what happened on that November weekend in 1970. Our team, the State Champion after a wonderful season of not losing a single game, was to play a team from Utah (who was its State Champion) for the final trophy! At a meeting of the parents we were told that each of us should volunteer to take one or two of the Utah boys into our home for the weekend of the game, as our house guests. We had a big den in our home, so I volunteered to take two boys. I figured we’d put Gary out there with them in sleeping bags, and they wouldn’t feel strange if they had a friend with them. The plan was to drive down to North Hollywood Park by 3 p.m. on Friday and pick up “our boys”! This meant I had to leave work early, which was a bit of a hassle for me – working for a Bank and Friday night was our night to stay open until 6 p.m. With all the plans in place I took off from San Fernando to North Hollywood Park. When I got there several other parents had already been there and picked up their “charges”. I got out of the car and saw five boys sitting on the grass. I looked at our Coach, wondering which two were mine and he said, “Mrs. Palmer, we have a problem; a couple of the parents have backed out on their commitment, so would you possibly take all five home with you?” Well, here sat the poor kids with long faces. What could I do? I said: “Sure! Come on boys hop in.” En route home my son got to know them all by name and they were talking up a storm by the time we reached the house.

Now I had to go into action fast: Which neighbor had sleeping bags I could borrow? How was I going to “enlarge” the dinner from what I had planned to feed six to now nine. My mind was going a mile a minute. It all worked out: two borrowed sleeping bags (we had 4), some extra bed pillows, and a dinner they all seemed to enjoy. Amazing how you can stretch spaghetti, salad & bread! So by 10 p.m. we had the boys all bedded down in our den and everything seemed to be going smoothly. Then, in the middle of the night I heard the rain starting. We got up to a real downpour. I fed the group breakfast and we packed up the station wagon with football players (in uniform), plus our daughter, my husband, me and several umbrellas. This was, I might add, long before the days of seat belts and the kids just jammed into the station wagon.
The game was played at Monroe High School football field in Sepulveda, the area now known as North Hills. The field was a sloppy mess and once the game began the players would tackle one another and slide 20 yards in the mud. Such a mess! My husband was on the field as a linesman, holding one of the chains that mark the yardage gained or lost on the Utah side of the field.

One of the boys that stayed with us was the quarterback for Utah. Our team was romping all over Utah as they couldn’t do anything right it seemed. When their quarterback made a bad play their coach went out and grabbed him off the field, dragged him to the sidelines and started swearing at him. He was about to hit him, when my husband dropped the chains he was holding, ran over and told the coach to back off. In fact I think my husband would have engaged the coach in a little pushing and shoving, had other men not intervened!! The boy was in tears and he said, “Thank you, Mr. Palmer”.

Whenl the game finally ended we had won by a landslide, but everyone from California was furious with the Utah coach and said he should be banned from ever coaching again,since he did hit a couple of the players. That was a league problem! But, now we had our problem with six absolutely filthy mud-soaked boys to get home, feed, have their uniforms washed and get them back down to North Hollywood Park by 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

On the way home the car was silent – the Utah boys felt terrible and most of them had suffered some wrath from their Coach. Our son just kept his mouth shut, so as not to embarrass them. My husband formulated a plan. He told the boys to get out of the car when we got home and go out on our back patio (it was a private area) and take off their uniforms; then one by one hop into the shower. My husband had the great idea of washing the uniforms off on our fence with the garden hose, thus saving all that mud from getting in the washing machine. After he hosed them off I’d bring them in and wash them. I didn’t have a dryer in those days, but a neighbor down the street agreed I could bring them down to her dryer. What a night! We were running back and forth up and down the street with baskets of laundry (either wet or dry) and trying to feed the kids. The Quarterback was in the bathroom vomiting consistently. Finally I asked one of the boys if they could drink tea, as I knew they were all Mormon and didn’t want to give him something he wasn’t supposed to have. I’ll never forget his reply: “Mrs. Palmer, if it will help his gut – he can have it!” So with the help of some Lipton’s tea and a few soda crackers, his stomach settled down; thank goodness!
We made it back to North Hollywood Park on time Sunday with all five boys and their CLEAN uniforms I might add we were up VERY late that night running laundry up and down the block! (Lucky it was a friendly neighborhood!!) That Christmas I received little gifts from all five boys who had stayed with us, together with really cute hand written thankyou notes. The one boy told me he wasn’t in any trouble for drinking tea, since he explained how much better it made him feel!! A memorable weekend at the Palmer house and never to be forgotten!

My Merry Oldsmobile by Maureen Sharon

May 16, 2008



My father’s car was a Hillman Minx with beige leather upholstery and carpets to match. The outside of the car was painted beige as well, but had black leather on the inside of the doors and black trim. The trunk was roomy and filled with my father’s art supplies, which he carried around from place to place as he made the rounds of record producers’ and movie studios’ design offices. It was a British car and smelled of leather and my father’s cherry-scented pipe tobacco, along with Old Spice aftershave and gasoline. A 4-cylinder car, the Hillman did not use much fuel, so maintenance was economical. My father would wash it by hand every two weeks or so, and I would sometimes get to help. It was our only car, since my mother didn’t drive, and it took us on weekend trips to the country, or out to dinner, or to the movies. Although my mother (pushing her shopping cart full of scripts, a small tape recorder and record player) took the bus to the studio where she taught drama and musical comedy to kids from 3 to 18, my father drove her home in the Hillman after the last class ended.

I have earlier memories of my father driving a black Model A Ford, which could not make it up steep inclines. I recall one particular occasion where he had to turn the car around so he could climb a hill in reverse! My mother was terrified, and I screamed with fright, while my calm, smiling father simply took his time driving in reverse to the top of the hill. His next car was a used Plymouth that looked like a tank. He kept it so many years that it needed a new coat of paint. I remember my mother berating him when he came home driving a very bright, garish, peacock blue automobile. My mother would actually blanch every time he came to pick her up from the studio, but I thought the car was beautiful. You couldn’t possibly miss it when it drove by. The next car was the one-and-only Hillman, a conservative-looking beige car, unique because of its small size and five-speed transmission.

When I was fifteen years old and took a Driver’s Education class in high school, I could barely imagine the freedom driving a car would bring. I remember going with my father to the DMV Office and taking in the sights and smells of the place. My Dad paid the fees and I filled out the forms, handing over my certificate proving I had taken and passed the Driver’s Ed class. I was given the test form and told to complete it in the time allowed and turn it in. I was very well prepared and passed the test easily, making 100%. I was given a California Learner’s Permit, entitling me to take the Driver’s Training class at school — the last hurdle before I could get an actual driver’s license. I absolutely fell in love with driving, which was very easy for me, yet filled me with a strong sense of power. It was, in fact, the most empowering experience of my life. The driver’s training instructor took our class of three future drivers to Laurel Canyon Boulevard (an extension of Crescent Heights Boulevard) in Los Angeles and had us take turns driving up towards Mulholland Drive. Taking a bunch of new drivers to Laurel Canyon’s winding uphill road was a very good idea, since we could not possibly speed and would have plenty of chances to move our foot from the gas pedal to the brake He had us take turns driving up and down Laurel Canyon throughout the first two-hour class. I was sold immediately on driving. The class continued until we had learned to parallel park, drive in reverse, handle driving in heavy city traffic, and (horror of horrors) drive on the Pasadena Freeway. By the time we completed our driver’s training class, I needed to practice until I was ready for my behind-the-wheel driving test at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Since I would be driving my father’s stick-shift Hillman during the driving test, my Dad took me out in his car and taught me to drive a 5-speed stick shift. Fortunately the Hillman had a very easy clutch, and I was soon shifting like a pro. He and I would go driving almost every day when he came home from work. Dad was a wonderful, patient teacher and was very generous with advice and tips. He kept cars for many years, and he grew attached to them. Thus, his cars were always cared for very well. Dad kept cans of motor oil in the trunk and taught me how to pull out the dip-stick and check the oil, brake fluid, and water in the car. He taught me how to drive in a manner that would not wear out the brakes or the clutch. He taught me to slow down before coming to a red light, so that I might merely have to down-shift and coast through as it turned green. That way the car would not have to come to a complete stop, which is hard on the transmission and uses gasoline. His frugal ways and the lessons he taught have stayed with me throughout my life.

When my big day came and we were on the way to the DMV for me to take my actual driving test, Dad said, “Maureen, you may want to cancel your test and reschedule it for another time, because the brakes on this car are not working well, and they need to be replaced.” I promised that I would drive very slowly during my test, and begged him to let me try. Miraculously, I passed. What joy! What pride! What power!

It took me less than one week to get into an accident. Radio playing a popular song, I was driving and talking with my friend, Danielle, on the way home from a shopping excursion when the huge Dodge car in front of me suddenly slammed on its brakes. My father’s little Hillman Minx now had an accordion-pleated hood, and the letter “G” fell off the trunk of the Dodge. Luckily, Danielle and I were not badly injured, although Danielle sported a neck collar for two or three weeks. At any rate, my Dad ordered me not to drive anyone around in his car ever again.

That summer, I got my first job. I wanted to earn enough money to buy my very own car. I was hired by our neighborhood druggist on Melrose Avenue. This was one of those old-fashioned full-service drug stores, equipped with a perfume/cosmetics counter, a soda fountain that served ice cream, sodas, sundaes, tuna sandwiches, and cherry, chocolate, or lemon phosphates too. A cherry phosphate was made by squirting three pumps-worth of cherry syrup into a glass and then adding seltzer-water from the fountain. Coca-cola and root beer were made the same way. I worked at the perfume counter in the very middle of the store. I think I earned about 75 cents per hour, which seemed like a great deal of money to me at age 15. I worked after school and on weekends at the drugstore.

My next job was even more exciting. During the summer when there was no school, I was hired by a mailing house to fold brochures and other items, stuff envelopes, apply stamps and mailing labels, and seal the envelopes. About 50 kids were hired for this unbelievably boring work. We all sat at one side of the long rectangular tables, facing front and not allowed to talk to one another. For five long hours each day we did nothing but pick up paper, fold it, place it in an envelope, etc. For this we were paid (guess what?) 75 cents per hour. But working Monday through Friday from 8 am to 1 pm

I could earn $18.75 each week. By the end of summer, I would have $75 to add to the money I earned from the drug store. I had $150 saved up so far. I kept my regular drug store job too, since I worked there only in the late afternoons (from 3:30 to 5:30 during the week and from 12:00 to 5:30 on Saturdays).

Before I knew it, my Dad told me I had enough money for us to shop for my very own car. My excitement was beyond palpable. We scoured the newspaper ads looking for used vehicles that were (a) affordable and (b) large and sturdy enough to meet my father’s approval. After the incident with his Hilllman (now repaired and functioning well), my father wanted me to drive a substantial car that would “keep you safe.” I had all of $300 to spend on this car.

We spent the next few Sundays looking at cars. Dad would look under the hood, kick the tires all around, inspect the bumpers and outer body of the vehicle, and look underneath for signs of leaking oil, gas, or any other liquid that should not be there. Afterwards, he sat at the driver’s seat and we drove around the block. I don’t remember how many cars we inspected in this way, but at long last I purchased my very own car – a blue 1954 Oldsmobile ’98 with automatic transmission. The year was 1960, but cars were made to last in those days. It looked like a huge tank, was the very first model that Oldsmobile made that had an automatic windshield washer. It got 7 or 8 miles per gallon and required about one quart of oil per week. My father said that this car would definitely keep me safe. In case I was in another accident that large Olds would come out the victor against most other vehicles on the LA roads. The car was in fairly good condition, and my father negotiated the price until my $300 was accepted. Wahoo!

Thus began my years as my mother’s chauffeur. The Oldsmobile also enabled me to drive myself to Fairfax High School during my senior year, when we moved to a new apartment on Castle Heights Boulevard near Pico – well out of the Fairfax district area. Without that car I would have had to transfer to a new high school and leave all my friends. Many cars followed that first purchase, but I’ll never forget that Olds.

© 2007

Maureen Sharon


Al Frew’s Outlook on Life

May 16, 2008


‘Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You’ 

It’s Easier to Give than to Receive


Stand on your own 2 Feet

It’s Easier That Way 


The Glass is ‘Half-Full’

Look at the Bright Side 


Make the Best of every Situation

You won’t have the same chance again 


Do It Right the First Time

You may not have a Second Chance 


Be Honest

Tell It Like It Is 


People know where I stand If they ask my opinion

It will be the same tomorrow as it was today 


Ara toto Ah – magnificient!Aoba wakaba no Green leaves, young leaves

Hi no hikari The sun shining

Matsuo Basho

Japanese Haiku Poet

Al Frew – Vagabond to Beach Bum

May 14, 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.