Can Teachers Across America Support A Bully For President?

Day 22 Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Paul Taubman of the Ultimate Blog Challenge urged participants to write about which candidate we support and why. As a social studies consultant, I have learned how important it is to help children/students form their own opinions. However, today I am going to take him up on his challenge.


Few would argue that this is a contentious election. Most national elections are. But we claim to be a civil government, a democracy of the people governed by laws instead of force. As teachers, we have curricula and strategies to decrease bullying because we want safe schools. We need to protect all students to create a safe environment.

When victims feel threatened, they either react physically. In some cases bringing guns to school and shooting people and usually themselves. In other instances, withdrawing and eventually going elsewhere to school if they have parental support. Some students go away quietly by themselves and commit suicide.

This is a serious societal problem that teachers battle every day both in and out of the classroom.

Now bullying has come to the presidential campaign. Few dispute that bullying and intimidation has occurred during the campaigns.

News moderators have worked very hard to create rules for debate and enforce them, some more effectively than others. Some hosts were bullied by candidates themselves.

None of the expert moderators totally succeeded in creating a bully-free environment.

Just a note: where was he supposed to be standing while she had the floor?

Where will it stop?

What are the Characteristics of a Bully?

In Children

It’s important that teachers, parents, and members of the community be aware of the signals that suggest a child might be a bully.  Some of the common indicators  include:
-Lacks empathy and concern for others
        -Demonstrates a strong need to dominate and subdue others
        -Hot tempered, quickly becomes enraged
        -Teases others in a hurtful manner
        -Picks on others who are weaker; not done in self defense
        -Intimidates others through threats or reputation
        -Commits acts of physical aggression
        – Defiant, oppositional, and aggressive towards adult


Bullying can be defined as ongoing verbal, physical, or written harassment/abuse that occurs in community and/or school settings.  Bullies use aggression or threat of it, to gain dominance over peers.  They tend to repeatedly target children who are “different” in some way.  Non-assertive youngsters who will not defend themselves (or seek assistance) can also become prey.

Dealing with Bullying  Authors: Tom McIntyre (Dr. Mac) and Alexis Franks

In Adults

Bullies are notorious for misusing power. They may overtly denigrate, criticize, or exclude you in such a way that, at the time, you may be incapable of responding. In a group meeting, they may covertly destroy you by responding to a comment or suggestion you make with a remark alluding to the idea that they don’t understand what you are talking about—suggesting that you are inarticulate or ignorant—and not allow for clarification. But even more insidious is their capacity to manipulate or incite others to be aggressive, belittling, or hostile toward you through their denigrating remarks or creation of rumors. The farther they push you down, the more they rise to the top. And they do succeed.

Bullies have high self-esteem, but they are very shame-prone— they are anxious about the exposure of their failures or shortcomings. Their mean behavior toward others keeps their self-esteem high because it takes their own and others’ attention away from the parts of themselves about which they are ashamed (Thomaes, Bushman, Stegge & Olthof, 2008).

The anxiety and shame experienced by the bully interface with his sense of pride. In evolutionary terms, the expression of emotions, such as pride, conveys information to other social group members regarding one’s social status. The pride expression strongly signals high status and survival-relevant messages to others (Shariff and Tracy, 2009). The high self-esteem of a bully is a result of, and maintained by, hubristic pride.

Hubristic pride, which is experienced by bullies, generally translates into viewing oneself as being highly valued. In the experience of pride you might consider that your actions resulted in something done well, but with hubris you did something well because you are great. Thus, hubristic pride does not separate the self from the deed.

From “Psychology Today”

Of the Two Candidates, Which One is The Stronger Bully?


In the classroom or the school, students are safe if adults stand up and protect all students from bullying and teach the bully how to cope with life in more efficacious ways.

Just a note: where was he supposed to be standing while she had the floor?

If a bully becomes President of the United States, the highest law of the land, allegedly in the most powerful nation in the world, who will feel safe?

How will those who feel threatened react to this country led by and immersed in hubristic pride?

Teachers, How Will You Vote on November 8?

In California, Republicans did not get a chance to cast our vote for anyone but candidates who, like “Little Marco,” had dropped out of the race. As a Republican, I strongly urge you to vote for Hilliary Clinton. She has shown tremendous strength against a bully who defeated all of the many able Republican candidates who were running for the candidacy.

Leon Panetta Shares Political Trade Secrets in Fresno

Ultimate Blog Challenge Day 19 #blogboost

Do you have Towne Hall Lectures in your area? Fresno hosts six programs each year at the Saroyan Theater downtown, so a friend and I decided to buy season tickets. Leon Panetta spoke today, the season’s first presenter.

Fresno Soroyan Theater
Fresno Saroyan Theater

Our moods were cheery as we drove up to Fresno in perfect 75-degree weather, light traffic, and good company. My two friends had never met but quickly learned that their daughters were the two newest employee hires at TCOE, where Connie and I worked for many years.

After hiking up to the balcony, we realized that we had arrived early enough to get third-row seats. So we traipsed down and slid into the best seats in the auditorium.

The Saroyan Theater filled up quickly. Connie and Monica posed for me.
The Saroyan Theater filled up quickly. Connie and Monica posed for me.

What a privilege to listen to the former director of the CIA, and Director of Defense for President Obama. Son of an Italian immigrant raised in a walnut grove in Carmel, they used to shake their trees by hand, Panetta and his brother gathering the nuts as they fell. His dad told him that he was well prepared to work in Washington.

“You’ve been dodging nuts all your life.”

Leon Panetta "I've been dodging nuts all my life."
Leon Panetta “I’ve been dodging nuts all my life.”

Best Story

A renown physicist presented all over the country. His chauffeur, who traveled with him, complained that he always gave the same speech.

“I’ve heard that speech so many times, I could recite it word for word.”

So, when they went to Fresno. The scientist said, “OK, they don’t know me here in Fresno, you give my talk tonight.”

They exchanged clothes and the chauffeur made the presentation. It went over perfectly. After the speech, someone from the audience asked a detailed question involving formulas.

The chauffeur responded, “That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. In fact just to prove how stupid it is, I’m going to let my chauffeur answer it.”

Up front and personal with Leon Panetta
Up front and personal with Leon Panetta

Most Vulnerable statement

“I’ve worked with nine presidents. No, I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to kiss that much…” (paraphrased)

Overall Theme

The government is there to lead, to govern. Leaders have to take risks. The best thing leaders can do when they have a problem is to make the right decision. The second best thing they can do is make the wrong decision. The worst thing they can do is nothing.

Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta

Salient points

  • There is some low-lying fruit that the president (this one and the next) could pluck and actually accomplish something.
    • Entitlements – Will it involve compromise? Yes! Will it be popular with everyone? No! Does it have to be done? Yes!
    • Immigration reform
    • Approve the Supreme Court Justice appointment now. It’s the law. It’s their job.
  • In a Democracy, you have nice guys, and jerks, the lazy and the ambitious, crooks and honest members of the government. That’s life. Deal with it. You (leaders) have a job. Get it done.
Quite a crowd
Quite a crowd

There was time for questions after his speech. He actually answered the questions! That was refreshing. Monica, Connie and I had a great time discussing what we heard. Then we went home and waited for the last presidential debate.

Thanks, Monica, for suggesting that we do this.

What interesting events have you attended recently?

What Can You Do On a Saturday Night in Woodlake?

Woodlake Chamber Member “Woodlake Pride”

#blogboost #Woodlake Chamber

Garden Reception, October 8, 2016
Garden Reception, October 8, 2016

Gayla Event Scheduled

Mark your calendars for October 8th for an entertaining Woodlake Pride evening at the Woodlake Botanical Gardens. Starting at 4:00 pm.

That sounds fun!
Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake
Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake

Woodlake is a foothill town of about 7,000 nestled in the center a circle of foothills on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Bravo Lake occupies a large chunk of the heart of the town. In 1912 when Gilbert Stevenson purchased the acres to build the city, he envisioned a beautiful tourist town.  BUT Stevenson built a levee around the town’s primary landmark, obscuring it from view.

Whaaaa?? Was he shortsighted or something?

Maybe, but Olga and Manuel Jimenez had some great ideas to beautify the levees.

And the City of Woodlake agreed to it?

You bet. They bought the land.

Visionary, Manuel Jiminez
Visionary, Manuel Jiminez
What do you do with a big lake no one can see?
The beginning of Woodlake Botanical Gardens
The beginning of Woodlake Botanical Gardens

Worse than that, the area around it was vacant or worse – a weed haven. Manuel and Olga Jimenez change blight into bright and created Woodlake Pride, a service organization to perpetuate the beautiful park setting they created.

Manuel Jiminez hard at work on his visionary project
Manuel Jimenez hard at work on his visionary project

A student narrates the story of Manuel Jimenez’s vision for a student community service organization which he called Woodlake Pride in the video Woodlake Pride’s Wonderful World.

The real plan that Olga had was to “grow kids by planting gardens.” They started planting gardens in 1989, but eventually the city purchased 13 acres to turn into the beautiful gardens that we see today. The 1,700 rose bushes alone make this a wonderful world.

Just one of 130 varieties of roses at the Woodlake Botanical Garden
Just one of 130 varieties of roses at the Woodlake Botanical Garden

“It’s not like Disneyland,” Manuel Jimenez states.

Although it does not feature the number of varieties of roses found in famous gardens like the Boston Rose Garden, everyone marvels at the many varieties of plant life the Woodlake Botanical Garden on the way to the Sequoia National Park. It has become a major draw for sight-seeing.

Woodlake Botanical Gardens
Woodlake Botanical Gardens

It is that inspiring tale of what one person, or in this case a couple, can do in a community if they put their heart and soul into it.

Manuel and Olga Jimenez
Manuel and Olga Jimenez.

“The legacy I want to leave Woodlake is just the beauty. It’s amazing what a seed can produce,” Olga shared.

Tulare County Treasures Project.

What a beautiful world Manuel and Olga Jimenez created.

Keep in mind this the Main Street in Woodlake.
Keep in mind this the Main Street in Woodlake.

So if you want a ticket for the Woodlake Pride dinner, see Rudy Garcia at the Valley Business Bank.

Rudy Garcia on the left
Rudy Garcia on the left

For more information about Woodlake Botanical Garden click here.

See you on Saturday night.

Related articles about Woodlake Botanical Gardens:


How Pierre Du Pont Turned a “Bad Investment” Into a Landmark

#Delaware trip Longwood Gardens #3

Brief History of the Pierce Home in Longwood Gardens

William Penn sold George Pierce the land in 1700. Pierce built his home there in 1730.To save Pierce’s Park or Pierce’s Woods, scheduled for eradication at the local lumber mill, du Pont purchased the Pierce home and surrounding acreage. Longwood Gardens became the weekend home of Pierre Samuel du Pont in 1906.

Du Pont, one of 11 children, helped raise his siblings when his father died, and he married late in life. He devoted his life to running the family business, but also managed General Motors in the mid 20th century.

Under his management, GM enjoyed some of its most prosperous years. However, he did not consider real estate a good investment. He was not married when he purchased the nearly 200-year-old home in 1906. It became his pet project after he decided that he could do a better job of designing gardens than his designer.

When he married, he and his wife enjoyed expanding the many features of the home where they could entertain many people. John Phillip Sousa was one of the many that came to the du Pont home in Kennett Square, PA.

Hal did not think this simple home seemed like the home of a multi-millionaire. It was a weekend home that reflects the simplicity of life in 1730. Du Pont felt at the time that he probably made an investment mistake. His motives were philanthropic and environmental. The video you can watch on the du Pont side of the reflecting home connects the pieces of the story.

Pierre du Pont stood tall after his father passed away, leaving him as head of household. How many people do you know would take that responsibility seriously, and finish their education? He graduated from MIT at the age of twenty.

I have a couple of other videos you can watch on YouTube. They need some work. The videographer is not only shaky but talking to herself more than you. It put me to sleep listening.

I hope you enjoyed this short tour of the George Pierce/ Pierre du Pont home.

Shopping Like an Expert at General Food Store

Thursday’s 80-degree temperature in Woodlake could not have been more beautiful. My mood matched the weather as I drove downtown to General Food Store to meet with Gene Gong, one of the two directors.

Gene Gong
Gene Gong

Mr. Gene Gong works twelve-hour days, so it’s been hard to schedule a time to interview him. On this perfect day in Woodlake, he was waiting and ready to answer my questions about General Food Store and the grocery business.

What do you want us to know about General Food Store?

“We are a local store,” Gene Gong replied immediately

Next to Woodlake Hardware, General Food Store has been active in Woodlake in the same location longer than any other store. Congratulations to Woodlake Chamber members, directors Gene and Ray Gong, on celebrating the 55th year anniversary of their family-owned and operated General Food Store!

Where you will most likely find Gene or Ray.
Where you will most likely find Gene or Ray.

We met in their front office, which is actually open to the public at the front of the store. I work best in private quarters away from distractions. Not these two! They are right out front, nodding to merchants as they come and go, speaking to customers, answering questions – always accessible.


As a small town, Woodlake is fortunate to have two well-stocked grocery stores. Gene likened their store to a corner mom and pop operation. Yes, they know most of their customers, but I remember most corner markets as being dim, dusty, and cramped. General Food Store is none of these.

Mmmmm that fresh bread smells heavenly!

Shoppers today have lots of options when it comes to shopping, especially for groceries. It seems that everyone is in the grocery business – national grocery chain stores, gas stations, outdoor fruit stands, discount stores, trendy, and bulk stores. There might be an occasional corner market in a large city like the one my first husband’s parents owned in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA.

What  does the small-town main street market sell most?

General Food sells time. And time is money! How many people in Woodlake have too much of either of those commodities? I don’t. But I act like I do.

It takes me 20-25 minutes at the most to drive into Woodlake and pick up grocery items and get back home. It takes me 25 minutes to drive to the nearest Save Mart in Visalia, and five minutes to find a parking place and walk into the store. I love Costco, but it takes about 30 minutes to drive there  and 25 minutes to find a parking place and a vacant grocery cart, not to mention going through a line to get into and out of the store. Then I have to shop and get back home – 90 minutes at least!

Additional Amenities of Shopping at General Food Store

Wal-Mart sells cheap merchandise but has long lines, a dirty store, filthy parking lot, and crowded rows. Who knows, we might end up being featured on the People of Wal-Mart website, or be standing next to someone who is. Yikes!


Look how spotless everything is at General Food Store in Woodlake. Do you see the reflection of the meat department in the floor? There is plenty of room to push a full-sized cart around without having to pick it up and squeeze past another customer. Yet, there was a steady stream of customers while I was in the store.


It is so simple to shop here. Park right next to the door. Customers walk in, get a friendly greeting, pick up their cart and find things they need. There is no long check-out line. General Food Store customers are back home after shopping and visiting with neighbors in less time than it would take them to drive to Visalia and park their car.

So what if I save $2.00 on a bag of chips at the $300 store?

Items are easy to find.

I’m not a huge drinker, but I enjoy a glass of sweet wine with my husband once in a while. My favorite brand is Barefoot. It’s inexpensive and tastes delicious to me. When I pick up a bottle in Visalia, I have to walk up and down two aisles to find my brand. There it is in the red wines, and again in the white and pink wine areas.

Time elapsed? Five minutes!

Not here.


All my favorites are together, and they are on special for the same price as I can get them in Visalia. How much time did I just save? About 60 minutes, on one item.


I love to shop for fresh vegetables. There are only two of us at home. Neither of us eats huge amounts of anything. You would not think that to look at my shopping habits.


In Visalia, I go to Costco, walk into that freezing cold room, practically run my cart around the perimeter, and grab a big plastic container of lettuce, one bag of broccoli and one of carrots. The lettuce sits in my refrigerator until half or more of it rots. Ewwwww!

When three-quarters of the bag of broccoli turns yellow, I throw it out. The peeled baby carrots get slimy before we can eat them all. I wash them off, but feel guilty because I don’t want to serve slimy carrots, so I throw them out. Then if I’m fixing dinner for company, I don’t have any carrots to serve. I either have to grab a can of something or send Vince to Woodlake to pick up some fresh vegetables at the last minute.


Vince hates the way I shop. I think I am saving so much money. What do you think?

Mr. Gong said that he stocks things people in Woodlake buy. Customers might not find the newest craze here. Yet, he keeps up on the newest nutrition and food buying trends.


“About six years ago people started using plain yogurt to make fruit smoothies. Woodlake people did not pick up on it right away.”

“Do you stock plain yogurt now? I started eating it about six years ago because a doctor recommended it to help me with weight loss.”

“Yes, now customers are buying enough of it to pay stocking it. But kale is in now, and you might not find that here.”


I bought a huge bag of cut kale from Save Mart in my refrigerator. After talking to Mr. Gong, guilt overwhelmed me and I ate a bowl of kale for breakfast this morning. I fixed it three days ago and stuck the leftovers in the refrigerator because I don’t like to be wasteful. I still have a half bag of uncooked kale in the refrigerator. It is about 2 weeks old. I think I need to rethink my shopping habits.


My husband drinks Lactaid. We go through a lot of it, most of the time. Then we don’t. I won’t tell you what happens to some of our milk. More often we just run out – just before Vince has breakfast at 4:30 am. We did not want to run into Visalia to get a half-gallon of Lactaid. After what Mr. Gong said about trends, I did not think they would have Lactaid, but I was WRONG!


I admit that we eat like gringos. I fix burritos and other Mexican dishes, but I do it the gringa way. However, 80 percent of our town is Hispanic. True Mexicans cook with spices that I have never heard of. My Mexican friends would be ashamed to eat my monster quesadillas. Vince goes to Super Taco if he wants authentic Mexican food. But the Gongs stock for their customers. I could buy eucalyptus leaves if I wanted them. Does anyone have a recipe for them?


Speaking of tacos, unless you are vegetarian, meat is the most expensive item on the grocery list. I eat chicken, chicken and, oh yes, chicken with an occasional filet of salmon and hamburger thrown in. I fix Italian meatballs for my Italian husband, and I do it the Italian way. I forgot to check out the sausage situation at General Food Store. There aren’t many Italians in Woodlake.


There are lots of fresh meat choices. Packages do not come in $30.00 sizes, which reminds me, I need to put my hamburger I bought at Costco in the freezer today or I’ll have to throw it out.


Apparently many customers like baby-back ribs. My husband does.


I believe in supporting Woodlake Chamber members. Mr. Gong has not been a member for several years and he renewed his membership during our visit. He is the first Woodlake grocery store to do so. You all know what this means, don’t you?


My shopping habits are going to change!


September Garden Challenge

#Delaware trip Longwood Gardens #2

Flower portraiture – capturing the beauty of a single bloom


Yesterday Woodlake and Hockessin temperatures both registered 84 degrees. Don’t be confused. In Woodlake that temperature is perfect. Delaware sun and humidity mixed to make salt water spring like a national park geyser from my forehead and nose.

After meandering through Pierce’s Woods and visiting his 1730s home, stifling in the tropical section of the Longwood Gardens Conservatory in Kennett Square, PA, we came full circle in the huge conservatory and found this perfect chenille plant. Better known as Acalypha hispida, conservatory designers saved the best of the 1,100 varieties on the 2,000 acres for last.


OK, that may just be my opinion. By the time I found Princess Hispida, I had already taken 177 pictures, was dripping wet, ready to get out of the Conservatory, and stop somewhere for ice cream. I apologised to the princess for my abruptness, bowed low and snapped pictures for the Streaming Thoughts News.


Accustomed to thousands of daily admirers, she took my blubbering in stride. Her red dreadlocks stood out among the competitors and I circled around to capture the exquisite luxurious locks of her highness in numerous shots.


With so many competitors, you often forget their names, or where they sat, as I did with Princes Hispida. If you know the name of the plant, you can find where it is on the Longwood Garden’s website. I did not remember her name. Lucky for me, Google located a long red fuzzy plant in about .5 seconds. In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Princess H’s beauty is exotic. In Papua, New Guinea, she and her hardy zone 10 sisters are one in a million.

I wonder if I would look exotic if I moved to Papua, New Guinea. I’ll see if hubby wants to relocate.

For more entries in the September Garden Challenge click here.

How to Tour Longwood Gardens Like an Expert

#Delaware trip Longwood Gardens #1

I love to walk. Hal, age 91, and I walked for two hours through Winterthur and met a couple who walked there often.

“We walk here and at Longwood Gardens,” they told us.


“Where’s that?” I asked. My mental wheels turned.

“Kennett Square, PA about 15 minutes from here.”

“You’ve never been to Longwood Gardens when you visited before?” Hal sounded incredulous that he could have overlooked something as iconic as visiting Longwood Gardens.

“Never heard of it.”

“Everyone goes to Longwood Gardens. We need to go.”



After years of practicing touring every kind of museum under the sun, the best advice I can give you about touring like an expert is never to think you are an expert. Make comparisons, guesses, then check your facts. If you know you are going somewhere, you can check your facts first, but you’ll probably forget them because you don’t need to know them yet. I love to go in green and come out with more expertise than when I went in.

That being said, you are going to become more of an expert about Longwood Gardens that I was, and can build on the knowledge you gain here.

The Outdoor Gardens at Longwood Gardens.


We arrived at about 11:30, and unlike Winterthur, there were no shady areas in which to walk. The sun warmed us and the water features added humidity to the air.



Pierre du Pont enjoyed water. We came across a lake across from the Italian Water Gardens. Framing the picture on the right is the column of a gazebo. Unless you happen to be a frog, you would not want to jump in and swim in this lake. If you do, you will look like a frog when you come out.


I stood inside the lakeside gazebo to photograph Hal looking at the lake.


What impressed me most about this gazebo was the ceiling’s intricate pattern. Pierre du Pont designed his own gardens and incorporated much of what he learned on his travels to Italy.


With thousands of plants on thousands of acres, it is a photographer’s paradise. I couldn’t click fast enough.

Longwood Gardens

Hal and I wandered into the garden and through the woods until 2:30. We caught the closing chords of the organ concert in the conservatory.


We did not let much grass grow under our feet, but there was some growing over our heads.


The display of flowers on the grounds outside reminded me of Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. There is a lot of stonework here in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but this garden is not built into the rock quarry.


Du Pont created the Italian Water Gardens with the most elaborate water show in the world when it was built in 1925-27. He could time the display, much like they do today at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Overlooking the Italian Water Gardens is a Canopy Cathedral. What attracted me were the windows. It was not as grand as the windows led me to believe, but it is worth the short climb to go inside to look out over the meadow.

Much of the wood for this structure came from reclaimed wood. The floors came from a toothpaste factory in Toronto, Canada.

Follow me as I go upstairs.

Finally, we look through the beautiful window panes onto the meadow and Italian Water Gardens.

I hope you enjoyed your tour today of the Longwood Gardens. I’ll take you to other parts of it in another post. Stay tuned.

How to Make Sense of Art

WAIT, this is Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

“How dare you? Art is art. It’s not oddball!”

“Are you talking to me, Radio Man?”

"I make as much sense as that dog of yours."
“I make as much sense as that dog of yours.”

It was a beautiful September day outside in San Jose, though a little warm. I had a few hours to kill before Leanne Cole’s plane came in from Australia. We planned to meet up at Starbucks. I was so excited to finally meet her in person.

I stayed at the Hilton next to the McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose. It was less than a half mile so I walked to the Tech Museum of Innovation. but it was closed for remodeling.

Dang! It was closed for remodeling. Sounds like my house.

This old architecture does not fit what's inside. Very oddball!
This beautiful old architecture does not fit what’s inside. Very oddball!

Almost across the street near  the San Jose State University campus on 110 S. Market Street sat the San Jose Museum of Art. It cost $8.00 admission for a senior, which I thought was pretty expensive, but I love museums, so I paid and walked in.

This was weirder than the blue wall in New York that was considered art.
This was weirder than the blue wall in New York that was considered art. This guy is scratching his head, too. Very ODDBALL!

I walked over to Radio Man’s glass case and stared at him trying to convince myself that this was really an art museum. I had just passed the blue room, which was just a room with a room-sized box lit with a blue light. hmmm.

“First of all, art does not HAVE to make sense,” Radio Man instructed me.

“You just don’t want to analyze how beautiful and artistic I am. You’re a lazy aficionado,” he continued.

I looked down and shuffled my feet. I wanted to turn away, but Mom always taught me to compliment people – no matter what. I stood there staring at his shoes and duck beak hands.

“OK, ok! You are shiny. I’ll give you that!”

“I had braces as a child.”

“You need to try Invisalign. Your bite is off.”

“What do you know? Most people like my smile.”

“Looks more like a grit to me.”

“A grit? It’s a smile. Don’t I have pretty eyelashes?”

I am not usually mean to robots. What’s the use? I moved on, nodding that I liked its eyelashes.

I walked around the San Jose Museum of Art looking for something artistic. Radio Man beckoned me back.

“Did you see my dog?”

Radio man's dog.
Radio man’s dog.

I had to admit it was pretty cute. Or maybe I was just getting used to art.

Not as cute as Puppy Girl on a bad hair day, though.

Cee's OddBall

If you liked this post, PLEASE share it with your friends.

This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.

In case you missed them, click here.

7 Cherry on the Sundae Moments in 2016 – So Far!

#WP Photo Challenge

Cherries, sweet goodness, the joys and best of life

If the cherry is on top, all’s well that ends well, right? Life is a bowl of cherries. That is this week’s photo challenge, “cherry on top.” I tried to cherry pick the best photos from my 2016 collection that fit that description.

Definitely red
Definitely red

It was hot July 3rd in the Central Valley. As appointed photographer for the Kiwanis July 3rd Blast, I sought out interesting shots. Sure enough, here was the cherry on top.

a very cute parade rider with a cherry on top
a very cute parade rider with a cherry on top

She probably did not need to be coaxed to ride in the parade. In a few years, she will probably be Miss Woodlake.

Intent on history, his and 275 others' enjoyment of the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum was the cherry on top of the entire effort.
Intent on history, his and 275 others’ enjoyment of the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum was the cherry on top of the entire effort.

At the Grand Opening of the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, we experience double-vision with this cherry-red cap. Maybe he is reading about the founding members of the Woodlake Lions.

The VIP opening of the Museum was a cherry topping experience for me. Here’s why.

My phone rang. I was about to step back into my tour bus in Hawaii. It was Carl Peden. We had never met, but he donated lots of artifacts to the museum from his time serving the White House as the pilot of Air Force One. On a whim, I asked him if he would be one of the speakers at the VIP opening. To my surprise, he agreed.

Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President's Day. We all mourn his passing.
Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening.

At the end of his speech he took off his jacket and handed it to our President, Rudy Garcia, for the Museum. What an electrifying end to his speech!

Woodlake Museum iPhone photos

He proudly pointed out his name on the donor list to his relatives.

On President’s Day, two days later, he passed away. I think this event might have been the last cherry on his cake. We loved having him.

Tulare County is one of the agricultural capitals of the world.
Tulare County is one of the agricultural capitals of the world.

The Tulare County Agricultural Fair is the cherry of all ag festivals. Thousands of ag professionals come from all over the world to see cherries like the one pictured. They probably know what this machine does, too! I just think it’s pretty and red.

a festive find at the botanical gardens
a festive find at the botanical gardens

Cacti don’t bloom that often, but when they do, they give us a magnificent show. This cherry-picked this photo emerged out of hundreds during the Woodlake Botanical Gardens Berry Festival this May. Beware, do not try to eat it, though!

Gelato anyone?
Gelato anyone?

Las Vegas is hot year round compared to most places. Gelato seemed like the best option for dinner after hubby played a rousing hand of poker all day. Nourishing? Not really. A delicious end to a fun day? Definitely!

Cherry of a life time!
Cherry vacation of a lifetime!

Though not overly thrilled with being the cherry in this picture, I was on cloud nine the week we were in Hawaii with my friends Carol, the Eternal Traveler from Australia, and Connie, my friend from TCOE, and their husbands.

The guys made it too!
The guys made it too!

You never know how it is going to work out when you put six people who have never traveled together on a week’s vacation, let alone six people, most of whom have never met in person. This Hawaiian trip was more than the icing on the cake. It was definitely the cherry on top!

Mr. ET enjoyed whale watching.
Mr. ET enjoyed whale watching. I love this picture of his enthusiasm!
We had fun trying to fit into a selfie. Where's V?
We had fun trying to fit into a selfie. Where’s V? Can you see him next to me?

We all look a little wind-blown. Make-up? Forget about it! Fun? You bet!

We climbed hundreds of stairs to take this picture at the top of Iao State Park.
We climbed hundreds of stairs to take this picture at the top of Iao State Park.

Huff, huff, huff! We made it to the top! My cherry-colored hat protected my face from frying in the sun, but held in the heat. Yes, I’m still smiling, but let’s sit down and have a nice cool drink, what do you think?

I lost my cherry bonnet in the shade, and wore my sarong in a most appealing way, don't you think?
I lost my cherry bonnet in the shade, and wore my sarong in a most appealing way, don’t you think?

Near the end of the week, and we are still smiling, but I’m sad inside because it will end soon.

Are cherries more valuable because they are so tiny compared to the rest of life?
Are cherries more valuable because they are so tiny compared to the rest of life?

One week out of our lives, such a small chunk, but it leaves lasting memories as bright as cherries on a chocolate soda.

And eventually the sun set on the cherry experience.
And eventually, the sun set on the cherry experience.

For more cherries, click the icon.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

If you enjoyed this, be the cherry on my sundae and please share it.🙂


Three Reasons for Entering Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Why I love Cee’s Oddball Challenge

  1. Because there is no theme other than odd ball, it is easy to choose pictures ahead of time.
  2. Since there’s no theme but odd, it’s easy to write and schedule this challenge.
  3. Even though Cee makes all her challenges easy because she announces the themes weeks in advance, this one is easy to choose pictures. That earns me hours away from the computer!

Yesterday I went through about a third of my pictures and pulled out 40 that I thought would work. Some of them I took on purpose because they were odd when I saw them. Others are odd because I took them and wondered why!

Even odder, why did I keep them?

Odd Pictures or Odd Thinking?

Now the only decision I need to make is to share the odd pictures or my odd thinking. Which would you prefer?

I’ll do one of each and see which one you like best, how’s that?

Odd picture
Odd picture

This was in my Hawaii pictures from January when we visited with Mr. & Ms. Eternal Traveler, and, of course, Justin Beaver. Maybe Carol knows what this is. Since it was with other shopping pictures we took of the ritzy shops in Wailea on Maui, she might even have a post about it.

By the way, Carol is a famous guest poster, and I just found this published article of hers on Google in the Hiker’s Handbook. Way to go, Carol!

All the explanation you are going to get from me is, “I just think it’s cool.”

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Odd thinking


Since reputation for having the ability to think is at stake here, I’d better explain myself.

Actually, this picture is unique and well-composed according to my daddy’s teaching. It’s framed with a pretty weed on the left. The gold and brown colors coordinate. And it has a bright rusty contrast.

I’m so defensive…

My reasoning for taking and keeping this

The real reason I took this picture was to help collect donations.

The Woodlake Chamber of Commerce found out this year that they own the sign that sits on CA State Highway 198, the main highway that goes from the coast to the Sequoia National Park. The sign alerts travelers that there is a cute, friendly, cowboy town north of the freeway a few miles with the best fries in the state.

Believe me you don’t want to go to the coast on Highway 198 with a motor home!

Or to the park either, for that matter, the hairpin turns are narrow and mountainous. That means wind and scary drop-offs. We did it at night one time, and I thought my husband would have a heart attack.

Back to the sign.

The Woodlake Chamber of Commerce is NOT wealthy! And suddenly it owns a sign that is falling down, and now we know it’s our responsibility to fix it. We could ask businesses and other clubs to donate, and we will probably do that because signs are expensive.

But now we are fundraising by selling donation tickets to win a trip to Maui – my husband and my favorite vacation spot.

So this is one of the photographs I took to document the need to replace it – as if the fading picture is not enough reason!

So now you have enough evidence to choose.

Which do you like better, odd picture or odd thinking?

Cee's OddBall

If you liked this post, PLEASE share it with your friends.

If you thought it was stupid, share it with your enemies. JK, don’t do that. Just ignore them. Maybe they will go away.

This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.

In case you missed them, click here.

How to Enjoy a Car Show Like a Car Guy


Car shows are still the rage in Central California. They attract car guys and gals with everything from new Mustangs to old beaten-up trucks decorated with suitcases. This was one of my personal favorites.

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The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Car Show is one of the last shows of the season in the valley where temperatures soar into the 100s by mid-summer.

As participants drove into the western touristy looking town, new downtown sidewalks, streetlights, flags, and a round-about leading into the town welcomed them.

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Unlike most shows, this venue is in the middle of the city park right on the grass not on the hot asphalt street. The shopping center across the street from the park provided parking for all the non-exhibiting guests, so streets were clear for registration, which ended at 10:00.

Such a family friendly atmosphere! Everything in the park has been upgraded and is beautifully maintained.

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Here are a few tips to make your day more fun that I gathered as I made my way around the park visiting with all the car guys and gals.

  • Pre-register. The pre-registration line went faster and because it was about 10 cars shorter. Woodlake Valley Chamber volunteers had bags of goodies packed with names ready to go.

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  • Show up early!  The best spots under the large trees in Miller Brown Park go fast! On-site registration officially opened at 7:00, but they let us in as soon as they got set up.

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  • Bring a shade canopy, comfy chairs, cooler, and a spray bottle. One woman misted herself as I walked by her trying to grab a corner of her shady spot. Other guests offered me cold water. It was such a friendly crowd.

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  • Don’t forget cash! The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce had a 50/50 drawing and this year a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Maui, HI. Donations go for a good cause. The Chamber is raising money to rebuild the sign on Highway 198 that points the way to Woodlake and the many activities sponsored by other service organizations during the year. They also sponsor the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum which opened in February of 2016.

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  • Come with your friends. Groups can park together at the Woodlake Car Show and not by category if they want. Car entries came from Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Porterville, Tulare and many of the small towns in Tulare County. The youngest participant I talked to was a seventeen-year-old cyclist from Woodville.
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Nuestropride car group came from Porterville.
  • Leave your pit bulls at home. We did not seem many dog strollers and no doggie messes in the park. The Woodlake Chamber allowed small carry-on dogs in the park.

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There were so many prizes. Not only were there about 28 categories of vehicles with three winners in each one. In addition, Miss Woodlake picked her top three winners, and so the did the Chamber of Commerce.

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Winners for each category




Want to Visit a Drive Inn with Old Fashioned Hospitality?

#photochallenge #helping hands

Guy Fieri made diners and dives famous across the United States but does he know about the Woodlake Drive Inn? It’s thriving in the tiny town of Woodlake, CA.

Ali Mohamed poses outside the popular Drive-In
Ali Mohamed poses outside the popular Drive Inn

How is that possible? What’s the secret of their success?

Ali credits his success to extending a helping hand and giving back 200% to the community.

Her favorite food is chicken fingers. Mine, too.
Her favorite food is chicken fingers. Mine, too.

Owner, Ali Mohamed impressed me with his devotion to Woodlake.

“Whatever you do for the community, it comes back. If you’re stingy it doesn’t work.”

It was about a half hour before our scheduled interview when I drove down Valencia Boulevard in Woodlake, CA. Hungry from my morning workout, and not able to cook while our kitchen is being remodeled, I looked forward to this interview for more than one reason.

Chicken Strips & Fries!

Long lines did not mean a long wait.
Long lines did not mean a long wait.

It was about 12:15 when I arrived, and there was a long line in front of me. I knew from experience it would go fast. However, I was not counting on Ali coming out to greet me. He asked what I wanted and put my order in for me. While I waited for my food, I took pictures for my blog and talked to customers. Everyone in one family liked the same thing I did – chicken.


Out of over 100 items, that was not the consensus. Other top ranking meals were #8, the BIG MEAL, the hamburger special, the pastrami sandwich, grilled cheese, and, of course, sodas.

2016 Woodlake Drivein102

Waiting on a constant stream of walk-up customers and answering the phone kept the window clerk busy. Several men bustled in the back filling the orders. Guests sat down under the cover of an awning visiting with each other across picnic tables while they waited for their food.

I forgot and took a bite of chicken before I took the picture. Sorry!
I forgot and took a bite of chicken before I took the picture. mmmmmmm Sorry!

Just like any fast food, it came in a styrofoam container, but it was hot! The fries may be the tastiest I’ve ever had, with just the right amount of seasoning and the perfect crispness. The woman in blue informed me before my meal arrived, that Woodlake DriveInn has the best fries. They visit frequently, and she was right.

Ali tells me his story.
Ali tells me his story.

When I finished eating, Ali came out to join me at the table.

Curiosity bubbled out of me. “How did you end up in Woodlake, CA of all places?”

Twenty years ago Ali and his brother moved from Yemen to Dearborn, MI and went to work in a factory in Angola, IN, 20 miles south of Dearborn. In their spare time, they worked in restaurants as they picked up English.


But Michigan is a long way from California.

Ali’s cousin, Sam, had moved from Fresno to Farmersville and told the brothers that CA was the land of opportunity. They bought the Drive Inn from an Arabian in 2001 and settled in with a plan to succeed.

“This country is amazing. You can be who you are in a free country. In the United States, if you believe you will succeed, you will.”

Woodlake Drive-In in 1961.
Woodlake Drive Inn in 1961.

“We just noticed what people liked and that’s what we served. People order lots of sodas and soft-serve ice cream. And we were friendly. We came out and shook hands with everyone that came.”

The Drive Inn was old in 1961 when it was Floyd’s Drive Inn. He did not know the history of the business, but Ali told me that he had an 80-year-old customer who had worked at the Drive Inn when she was in high school.

When we started, it was just my brother and I and one girl. We worked hard. Now we have six or seven employees.

My camera would not click fast enough to catch the 55 Chevy.
My camera would not click fast enough to catch the 55 Chevy.

“My brother wanted to enclose the font, and air-condition a seating area. I wanted to keep it old-fashioned. The community needs something original. We added the awning.”

The south side of the building.
The south side of the building.

One customer said, Ali is very friendly. He’s got a great personality.

Her husband added, “And the food is GOOD.”

Ali believes in being generous. A Chamber of Commerce member, he donated a large amount to the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, run by the Chamber. His generosity reaches to other organizations as well. He has a soft spot in his heart for lending a helping hand, especially for the schools. He doesn’t always know why the kids are collecting money, though.

“You can never go wrong giving. It always comes back to you.”

It pays off. A few years ago I did a civics exercise in a high school class. Kids had to list ten things they liked about Woodlake, and ten things they would change. Woodlake Drive Inn was always at the top of their list of things they like about their town.

South Side sign mmm
South Side sign mmm – American 1950s comfort food

Ali paid for my lunch and then offered me some soft-serve ice cream for desert. It was so tempting. Even the pictures looked good.

He had no idea that I used to eat soft-serve and french fries every day for lunch in high school. mmm Yes, I was skinny.
He had no idea that I used to eat soft-serve and french fries every day for lunch in high school. mmm Yes, I was skinny.

Are you proud of my self-control? I may go back tomorrow, but I’m not telling.

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I can’t resist tempting you.

Woodlake is friendly. Woodlake Drive Inn is the place to network.

Yesterday I made a new Facebook friend while I waited for my food.

Today Vince insisted on trying Woodlake Drive Inn after I told him about the food. A cool breeze blew through the shaded area. A couple sat down across from me at the picnic table while we waited for our lunch. They looked vaguely familiar. After talking to figure out why we knew each other, she gave me her card.

"He does pretty good!"
“He does pretty good!”

Ali left me with this quote before he got back to work.

“If I didn’t work here. I’d still live here. I walk down the street and people don’t turn away. They say hi. I love Woodlake.”

So next time you come to Woodlake head for the old-fashioned burger shack, Woodlake Drive Inn. Guy Fieri would be proud.

Y'all come back, now!
Y’all come back, now!

What is the favorite local restaurant in your town?

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media or email it to a friend who might enjoy visiting Woodlake Drive Inn.





8 Reasons to Shop the Local Hardware Store

Woodlake True Value Hardware Store Celebrating 100 Years of Continuous Service in 2017.

Woodlake True Value Hardware
Woodlake True Value Hardware

The day had turned out to be a typical Central Valley day, 104 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade. At 1:40 p.m. I rushed out of my car parked four feet from the new True Value Woodlake Hardware Store entrance for my 1:30 interview with Andrew Dorais and Russ Howard, the co-managers of the store.

Russ Howard, Co-Manager, Andrew Durais, Manager
Co-managers, Russ Howard and Andrew Dorais, didn’t mind the heat.

A traffic accident on the freeway from Visalia, 20 miles west of town, had slowed me for an hour, so YES, I was late when I got there.

Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show Poster for July 16, 2016
Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show Poster for July 16, 2016

One of our Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show posters had front and center position on the front door.

Yeah! Good advertisement!

The door opened and air-conditioning already started to cool me down and settle my driving nerves. Leanne Jones greeted me with a smile, and Andrew and Russ came out to usher me back to the hardware office for our scheduled appointment.

Leeann Jones and Cindy Dorais designed and created the beautiful counter out of found goods at the store: old siding which they painted rusty red, a wagon wheel, and a glass top. They have orders for more.
Leeann Jones and Cindy Dorais, pictured in front, designed and created the beautiful counter out of found goods at the store: old siding which they painted rusty-red, a wagon wheel, and a glass top. They have orders for more.

The City of Woodlake commissioned me to write several articles about the different businesses in Woodlake for their magazine, and Andrew met me on the street the on Thursday, June 30 and immediately set an appointment for the next day.

If I can't find what I need, someone will help me, but everything is labeled.
If I can’t find what I need, someone will help me, but they also have  everything labeled.

Both Andrew and Russ have talked to me in the past, so I began by asking them how they were doing with the lofty goals they had set when they began working November 1st. Unlike me and my goals, they have achieved all of them and thank the community of Woodlake for the show of support.

ATV - All Terrain Vehicles great for foothill ranches and trail riding. WH also stocks gun safes.
ATV – All Terrain Vehicles great for foothill ranches and trail riding. WH also stocks gun safes.
I thought the tire treads looked like airplanes taking off over the ocean full of naval ships.
I thought the tire treads looked like airplanes taking off over the ocean full of naval ships.

8 Reasons to Shop Local

Woodlake is a bedroom community of Visalia. It isn’t far, but it is. It’s twenty miles, and even farther to the hardware stores in town. Some people might even go to Fresno which is about 45 miles away or Bakersfield – 60 miles away.

NOT ME! I think I’ll stay in Woodlake.

Together Russ and Andrew explained eight reasons to shop local rather than going to Visalia or Fresno for hardware and building needs.

I think this is Andrew's favorite department in the store.
I think this is Andrew’s favorite department in the store. I’ve never driven one, but Russ let me get on and pretend the last time I came. It’s like being a kid again. I like this place!
  1.  They have what I need in the store for building, decorating, and fixing things around the home.
  2. If they don’t have what I need in the store, I can order online through the True Value online website and it comes at no charge. That’s a big bonus for those of us who live even farther out in the country.
  3. Andrew and Russ brought in a huge selection of off-road vehicles. For farmers and laborers who work ranches that range from 7 to over several thousands of acres, nothing could be more practical. Even kids can help their parents run errands driving these around the ranch.
  4. After remodeling and redecorating, the next major step towards creating a new Woodlake Hardware was restocking and reorganizing merchandise. The isles sparkle with new hardware items, garden supplies, toys and items for the home.
  5. The layout has changed since November. It is brighter with new lights and ceiling. I wandered into the garden section taking pictures. Almost immediately I found the outdoor furniture section. Even the lawn mowers looked pretty, and I hate mowing.

    "I"m so pretty, oh so pretty. I'm so pretty and witty and bright."
    “I”m so pretty, oh so pretty. I’m so pretty and witty and bright.”
  6. Customer service goes without saying at any business, but it usually goes without saying. Many times I’ve walked into a hardware store, and not even seen a clerk who could help me. Unfortunately, I need a lot of help when my husband sends me to the store for some item I’ve never even seen or heard of before. It’s not a problem here. They all know my name! It’s like going into Cheers. OK, maybe you’re too young to remember that.
  7. They wanted to have a mechanics repair shop for small engines, and now they do. I should have asked more about the kinds of small engines they were talking about.
  8. Finally, the quality of the merchandise brings customers back. As Andrew pointed out, and I have experienced shopping for lumber with hubby, it can take rummaging through a few boards before we find the ones that are undamaged and usable. At Woodlake Hardware we can trust them to have just the best pieces. They stay competitive in price as well, and if we have a large order, they have it drop shipped to our building site.
I just love this table.
I just love this table made from scraps of stuff lying around in the back.

That’s cool. I bet my husband is regretting the trips to Fresno to pick up flooring during our remodel already. He wanted to save the shipping fee, so he DROVE to Fresno, paid a friend’s grandson to help him, and he tweaked his back unloading the 50-pound boxes. What a bargain!

I bet he’s hitting his forehead and saying, “I could have shopped in Woodlake!”

New lighting, new merchandise, all organized. It's a hardware guy's dream.
New lighting, new merchandise, all organized. It’s a hardware guy’s dream.

So if you are thinking of driving to Fresno or Visalia to shop for lumber or hardware needs, outdoor furniture, off-road vehicles, bikes for the kids, STOP. Take a short drive to Woodlake, and check out what is here. You will be pleasantly surprised.

My favorite section was the outdoor furniture and gardening area.
My favorite section was the outdoor furniture and gardening area.

Before I had finished taking pictures one display reached out and grabbed me.

"Buy me, buy me, buy me," said the folding chairs.
“Buy me, buy me, buy me,” said the folding chairs.

I had looked in Visalia for a couple of fold-up portable chairs for the park. They cost $34.00 at one of the stores, so I passed them up. Woodlake True Value Hardware had them on sale for $10.99. I bought two, and told everyone I saw at the July 3rd Blast to go get one before they all sold out!

These butterflies might like to try scaring the birds off my peaches.
These butterflies might like to try scaring the birds off my peaches.

Below you can listen to our interview on my first podcast. It is not the best quality recording because I don’t have a microphone, so I recorded this with my cell phone and used Audacity to “Normalize” the volume. You can tell it is not very normal.

My great-grandmother had one of these, and I remember sticking my arm through the rollers.
My great-grandmother had one of these, and I remember sticking my arm through the rollers.

It was fairly boring with just voices, (sorry Andrew, Russ and Marsha) so I found this great podcast music and purchased 2.5 minutes of “Cowboy Tears” and cut it into little pieces, and pasted it into Podcast #1.

Not everyone gets and ATV. I watched as four-year old Laila on her pink bike raced her big brother driving his ATV down their hill in Elderwood. I'll let you guess who won, but everyone had fun.
Not everyone gets and ATV. I watched as four-year-old Laila on her pink bike raced her big brother driving his ATV down their hill in Elderwood. I’ll let you guess who won, but everyone had fun.

Anyway, it only took two days to normalize and take out all the “uhms.”

Hope you love it. Don’t worry if you don’t. It’s not all that easy to do, and I’ll get better.

All I need now is a lot more knowledge, better recording set-up, and a deep-voiced announcer saying “Another Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Podcast,” or something creative.

Everything grows in California's Central Valley. We are Within the Magic Circle.
Everything grows in California’s Central Valley. We are Within the Magic Circle.

So, if you like this article, please share it with your friends. If not, share it with someone you don’t like. (JUST KIDDING)

If you do not live in Woodlake, feel free to share about your favorite local shop. You can be your own local Chamber of Commerce. It’s fun!🙂

Two Last Art Studios


Vince and I enjoyed our art studio tour sponsored by the Arts Consortium, Our last studios in Visalia, CA have fewer pictures, which is why they come at the end of the series, not because we went to them last. Although fascinating, Hilary and Dave had few items that were easy to photograph. Their beautiful home sprawled on secluded part of Visalia, and we took the yard tour along with the studio tour.  Hilary Williams, a calligrapher, quickly designed a new name tag for me. Having studied calligraphy a few years ago, Her speed and accuracy awoke jealous pangs from a graphically-challenged teacher who has to painstakingly print to even be legible.

Another couple was with Dave Williams when we arrived, so after about ten minutes we traded places and traipsed into Dave’s small office. He works from home designing animated story boards for Disney Television. On his computer he pulled up a story board he completed. He discussed the difficulty of interpreting the script and turning it into animation. As he told us, most of the visualization comes, not from the wordy descriptions in the script, but from the mind of the illustrator. This requires much more problem solving than most of us would realize.

Dave William's work on Batman.
Dave William’s work on Batman.

Story board artists imagine the rooms and outdoor spaces, place the characters in the space and work out a line of movement for how they cross the virtual stage. They build and operate virtual replicas of never-before-seen-machinery and gadgets.  How does a world pressure cooker blow its gasket? How big is it? How does the gauge look? It all flows from the story board artist’s brain. From there the basic sketches go to a finishing artist who adds details and color. We watched the video of his storyboard, and gaped with our jaws hitting the floor instead of taking pictures of the video. For more information, visit this site.

Dave does most of his work from home, which avoids long traffic jams driving from one part of Los Angeles to another. They love living in the Central Valley.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
See the large crack that separates further and further, the higher it goes up the brick building at 107 S. Church, Visalia, CA?

We missed printmaker, Kevin Bowman, Martha Gaines leather and silver work. We skipped Marzi Jalipour’s display of mixed media and ended with Phet Khamsaysoury and Ray Mejia’s photography and videography. We passed the haunted office building in which my friend Jean practices law, and headed next door to another old brick building at 107 S. Church Street, in the heart of downtown Visalia. You can see the ever-widening crack where ghosts might find easy entrance to the drafty building. What impressed me most was the simplicity and modernity of the Mejia’s photos.

South Valley Artists Studio Tour
Ray Mejia photographs spray can artists at work in the back alleys of Visalia.

Along with the photographs, his displays included the cans and the masks.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
How casually she stands as her green spray can squirts a stream of green vapor into the night air.

All in all the artists seemed to love their work, whether they had a collection that rivaled the number of pieces in the Louvre or they had just gotten started.


WordPress Photo Challenge: Landscape

“If one tries to think about history, it seems to me – it’s like looking at a range of mountains. And the first time you see them, they look one way. But then time changes, the pattern of light shifts. Maybe you’ve moved slightly, your perspective has changed. The mountains are the same, but they look very different.” Robert Harris

Spring at Running PRanch
Spring at Running P Ranch

Living in the Woodlake Valley could not be better in the spring. Colors of blossoms contrasted against snowy mountains that are crisp and clear, not obscured by dusty air make spring my favorite season here.

Spring at Running P Ranch
Moving around the tree searching for the perfect angle.

I drove home from Visalia on this day admiring the view of the mountains and the red buds along the road. I could not stop on the freeway and shoot a picture, but luckily my friend Sally had both the tree and the view right in her front yard. I stalked around her yard changing angles trying to get just the right spot to capture both the mountain and the tree before I even announced my presence. Both of these pictures pleased me, so I hope you enjoy them, too.

Sunset in Woodlake Valley
Sunset in Woodlake Valley

A couple of weeks later, from a mile north I stood at the edge of an orange grove overwhelmed by both the smell of orange blossoms and the beauty of the sunset bouncing off of snowy Saw Tooth Mountain. This time my cell phone couldn’t catch the contrast of the landscape as clearly. Even less fortunate, my cell phone could not transmit the fragrance.

Wish you were here. We’d go for a walk in our beautiful landscape. Click the link below to see other landscapes.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

Where Imagination Happens – Glimpses of Artists’ Studios

Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Foothill near Rick Badgley’s studio in Three Rivers new St. Anthony’s Retreat

The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.

Outside the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers
Across the highway from  the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers

We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.

Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.

Art Tour - Clay studio
Budding artists work with clay.

We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Clay orchid pot before firing

My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class.  Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.

South Valley Artists Tour
Christine Sell-Porter’s paintings and clay pot

We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.

South Valley Artists Tour
Outside Nadi Spencer’s studio in Three Rivers

Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun.  She sold both cards and paintings at the show.  You can see her self-portrait on the top right.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Inside Spencer’s gallery

People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Spencer’s color packed studio

It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Artist John Sundstrom’s studio driveway

John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.

South Valley Artist's tour
First impressions at John Sundstrom’s two-story solar-powered studio

The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone.  He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.

South Valley Artists' Tour
The glowing stone

Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Japanese Kimono by John Sundstrom

After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.

South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour


Have you ever wanted to see where an artist does all their work?  Vince and I had the privilege of doing just that this weekend. I want to thank my friend Connie Smith for the tickets she sent my husband and me to attend this three-day event. Kudos to her daughter, Carolyn, for organizing it.

The Secret Garden by Toni Best

We looked forward to it from the time we received the passport map, name tags and book featuring the forty artists on tour about two weeks before the event.  I particularly looked forward to the artist of the work featured above, Toni Best because I had known her as a teacher. We did not get to her studio until the last day, so you will see more her work later.

The county-wide event lasted three days.  Since the county is the size of Connecticut, Carolyn and her committee subdivided it into three regions for easier trip planning. We live in Region Three, so we started there. There are two artists within walking distance of our house, but we decided to end there, and drove up to Three Rivers first. The sunny day made the wild poppies and lavender as well as our moods on the way up to the foothill town sparkle.


We only made one wrong turn, but quickly turned around and followed the well-marked signs to a husband and wife team. This was the wife’s charming studio. I do not remember if her husband built the building or just the cabinetry inside, but it appealed to me right from the start and she was a delightful as her cheerful studio and clever art work.  I loved the idea of drawers in the stairs even though I do not know how practical it would be to bend down to the floor when you needed a paint brush.


The stairway leading between the two studies added to the picturesque view.

Although Martha had some realistic work, her surreal style reminded me of Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists.  A little white horse cuddled on a little girl’s shoulder, a chair walking a tightrope were two of the many examples she displayed. Martha Widmann and I chatted like old friends. I would snag her in an instant to illustrate a children’s book for me.


She had copies of some of her art clothespinned to the wall of the building outside as well as larger prints of them inside. Her husband’s chair obviously inspired her.

One of her husband's chairs.
One of her husband’s chairs.

This is one of her more realistic pieces.


My husband was more taken with her husband’s work, Stickley furniture.


Rick Badgley buried his unique woodworking shop under about 18 inches of soil which kept it cool in the hot summers, and grew wild grass on the roof. We have had a lot of rain this year so the grass was seasonably green. My husband and I both envied his craftsman garage doors.

We could barely pull ourselves away from this beautiful setting and interesting conversations, but we had five or six more places we wanted to see.  I’ll give you one more glimpse of this one, and tell you about the others in another post.


My Plate Is Full: My Heart Sings

My friend Linda and her daughter
My friend, Kiwanis President,  Linda LaFleur and her daughter enjoy the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum

Two things I enjoy more than anything in the world, maybe three. Being with old friends and/or making new friends, and learning new skills. These past few weeks have been full of both. It started with opening our new museum in Woodlake and having two grand openings that drew hundreds of people together to have fun and celebrate Woodlake’s history. Even the opening days where only two or three at a time came to the museum, there’s something exciting about a new project that gets me going, and keeps me busy and excited.

Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.
Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.

A week ago Friday night we had a big celebration of award giving in Woodlake, and as a Chamber Secretary, I got to be part of that program, and meet tons of new people. The next morning I drove with a new friend to Costa Mesa to speak at the California Council for the Social Studies Awards Ceremony. I’ve worked the last six years or so with that organization, and it was good to see so many friends.

National History Day, Tulare County took place on Tuesday, and again I saw many old friends, including my former boss, Superintendent Jim Vidak, and the newest history consultant who took my place, and met some very talented students from our county.

Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Friday I drove to Fresno to attend a Civic Education Conference for pre-teachers at Fresno State to hear my friend Michelle Herczog, the keynote speaker. After the opening address, she helped facilitate a breakout session, and many people I have known well throughout the region attended.

Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education
Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education

Three of us, all who have been history consultants for Tulare County attended and had our picture taken together.  Joy Soares has been a dear friend for nearly 15 years, when she started coaching History Day, and I began working as the County Coordinator. Then she moved into my position. Now my new friend Gay Atmajian holds down the fort.

Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.
Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.

Today was a gathering of a different kind. I helped a friend who organized a celebration for our friend Marvin Awbrey who passed away February 2. He would have loved it, and I actually did love meeting so many of his friends old and new and hearing wonderful stories about Marvin.

In the process of taking part in all these celebrations, I’ve had a part to play and learned some new skills. Today I learned how to turn a Powerpoint presentation into a movie – which isn’t difficult unless you have added music, which I did. Even then it is not difficult, but I had to head to Google to see what steps I left out because I the first time I tried it there wasn’t any music. I finally figured it out this afternoon, and posted it on YouTube.

Just as I finished  publishing the video, in walks Taliah, my almost nine year old neighbor. She watched my video, then together we and made a quick video out of some pictures I had taken of her about five years ago. She chose the pictures and the captions, and I negotiated the software. Her mother loved it even though I covered up some of the captions on the first attempt. This is my second attempt.

I know most of this might not be exciting to everyone, but I feel so blessed that I’m about to explode. Between enjoying the excitement of all these events, emailing and chatting with special friends online whom I love to bits and pieces, creating flyers, postcards, presentations and movies to use for these events, I feel so fortunate. My plate is full.

Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.
Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.

How has your life been recently?